Trouble with the Curve is the ultimate anti-Moneyball movie. Many members of the baseball community in the US, most of them relatively old, still have difficulty accepting that their game can be won by someone who's good at maths. Trouble with the Curve is a celebration of those old scouts you saw battling against Brad Pitt in Moneyball; the people who believe that it's all about athletic ability, and good old-fashioned gut instincts.
Is Trouble with the Curve as good as Moneyball? No. Not even close. Moneyball was a film that had great flares of originality and snappy writing separating out the obligatory moments of sports cliche. Trouble with the Curve however makes no attempt to do anything new. It's exactly the same baseball movie that's been on the big screen since Eight Men Out and Field of Dreams. And yet, Trouble with the Curve still works. It's still watchable and rather solid. You don't have to look far to see why. It's all down to a certain man called Clint Eastwood, who proves he's still one of the best actors around.
Will Clint Eastwood get another Oscar nod? It's quite possible. In fact, if it becomes public knowledge that this will be his last acting appearance, then you can almost say he's a dead cert. He had originally planned on Gran Tarino being his final acting role, and that probably would have been the better choice. That's not to say Trouble with the Curve isn't a good film. It is. It may be straightforward and filled to the rafters with cliche, but it's so solidly made that you don't really care. Sometimes it's just nice to sit back and watch a story be told beautifully.
Read the full review at: http://www.city-connect.org/film-review-trouble-with-the-curve/
You really should turn your nose up at End of Watch, but you can't help but be captivated by it. It's made up of pretty much every cop movie cliché going, and you've seen the plot more than a few times before. And yet, the bits that seem like they've been cut and pasted from other films are the real highlights. Quentin Tarantino is a master at this - making constant homages to other films, while still writing and directing them in a way only he can.
What's even more surprising is that the version of End of Watch we see on the big screen is the product of a director losing his nerve. Originally, the plan was to make the film entirely from the viewpoint of the camera owned by officer Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal), who's making what presumably is an illegal documentary. This reduces the scope of the film considerably, so it's not surprising that the director David Ayer couldn't follow through on the stylistic premise. It just doesn't make sense that Taylor would film everything; the big plot hole in most found footage films. In terms of style, the end result is rather inconsistent, but by allowing the camera to move more freely, Ayer's film is able to accomplish much more.
End of Watch really is part of the new cop drama style that has drifted through both film and television over the past few years. While we used to be captivated by the procedurals that showed us the science and the method in police work, we're now much more interested in the people who wear the uniform on a day-to-day basis. This is why End of Watch works so well; it takes place during the highest moments of genuine human drama.
Read the full review at: http://www.city-connect.org/film-review-end-of-watch/
It's never very easy to tell what direction director David O. Russell will go in. He went from the superbly intelligent Three Kings to the more bewildering and uneven I Heart Huckabees in 2004. He didn't turn up again until 2010 with the Oscar nominated film The Fighter. It was supposed to signal a return to form for the director. With Silver Linings Playbook however, Russell makes another very uneven film.
It's similar in terms of style to The Fighter in many ways, instead it's set in a nicer part of town. And The Fighter had a story that felt human and genuine. Silver Linings Playbook however feels very contrived, and has just about as much corniness and misjudged sentiment as a cheap rom-com dumped onto television on a late afternoon. It's surprising given the talent involved that it would end up this way, but David O. Russell can't seem to find his way through the mushiness.
Former teacher Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper) leaves a mental hospital after an eight month stint. He's been struggling with bipolar disorder ever since the discovery of his wife's affair destroyed his marriage. After leaving the mental hospital he moves back in with his parents (Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver). Pat then meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), with whom he agrees to partner in a dance competition, with the hope of catching his wife's eye to win her back.
The film was released on the back of very positive reviews in the American press. This was followed by whispers that it could be a potential Oscar winner. It was also produced by Bod and Harvey Weinstein, two brothers who are notorious for their Oscar campaigns. They know how to win, just ask Colin Firth. Taking all of this into account, it's hard to shake the feeling that this is just Oscar fodder. It has all the necessary ingredients to be a winner, but given how poor it is compared to the competition, you really hope this doesn't succeed.
Read the full review at: http://www.city-connect.org/film-review-silver-linings-playbook/