Film Review: ALL ABOUT NINA (USA 2018) **

All About Nina Poster

Nina Geld (Winstead) is a bracingly funny and blisteringly provocative stand-up comedian whose career is taking off, but whose personal life is a near-complete disaster. To escape a …See full summary »


Eva Vives


Eva Vives

The film is as its title implies ALL ABOUT NINA.  The film follows Nina from the first frame even providing a voiceover by Nina throughout the movie.  The film follows the journey of the strong independent woman Nina finally being torn the fuck down.

Nina Gold (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is an up-and-coming comedian in New York City. According to the press notes, she is supposed to be funny, smart and has worked hard to build a career for herself in the male-dominated world of stand-up.   But when it comes to romantic relationships, Nina’s life is a mess.  Random guys in bars, abusive married men (Chace Crawford), and an inability to stand up for herself finally convince Nina it’s time for a change.  The trouble is that what is written in the press notes do not come out as written on the screen.

Her routine at the start of the about how females get fucked and how men always want to fuck women might be right on today’s topical headlines, but Nina is downright annoying.  Her 5-minute or s routine is also unfunny, crude and dirty.  This results in the male standup comic that comes after her hitting on her after.  Her character is not that smart either.  One thing the director Vives does, while making Nina annoying, is to create an even more obnoxious male so that one cannot hep but take Nina’s side.  But one again, there is a turn.  Nina accepts the abuse, She accepts being hit and from a real dick lover (who happens to be a cop; an easy target) and has sex with him after, which basically make all the characters in the film detestable.  It would take a lot of effort to create a likeable film or story out of all detestable characters  This fact makes the film intriguing to see whether the director Vives, who also wrote the script is up to this dauntless task.

In the film, there is a segment in which Nina attends a new age group meeting.  When asked to share with the group, an incident one should not have seen like “I saw my father hit my mother”, Nina ditches the group.  When confronted by her new Mexican roommate, she says she wants her privacy and does not want to have others share her personal affairs, though she shares her stuff onstage as a standup comic.  It is the same way for the audience in this movie.  Director Eva similarly puts the audience in a female oriented scenario with certain do’s and don’t’s but the audience has no choice but sit through the entire movie.

Director Vives offers a way out for the self-destructive Nina.  She packs up and moves to Los Angeles, for a once in a lifetime opportunity to audition for Comedy Prime — the end all, be all of late night comedy.  After killing it in Los Angeles, she meets chill contractor  Rafe Hines (Common), who tempts the brash New Yorker into considering commitment.  Sublimating her own desire to self-destruct, Nina has to answer the question, once and for all, of whether women can indeed have it all.  Of course, the answer comes from a female so one can predict whee the film is leading.

30 minutes into the movie, Vives includes a second standup comic deliverance by Nina.  The routine is still mildly funny at best and still crude and rude and serves no purpose after the audience has seen the first routine.  This is the point at the film where one can tell there is no redemption in this unlikeable comedy – more unlikeable for males than for females.  Males – this is one movie to avoid and as for females – take your chances if you dare.

The be fair, the film contains a few brilliant moments like the segment where a gay couple argue about the sponge put at the bottom of the sink.  On the negative side, the film’s climax involving Nina’s truth sexual abuse routine is almost unwatchable.



Film Review: SWISS ARMY MAN (2016) “Gems you may have missed!”

SWISS ARMY MANA hopeless man stranded on a deserted island befriends a dead body and together they go on a surreal journey to get home.

Directors: Dan Kwan, Daniel Scheinert
Writers: Daniel Scheinert, Dan Kwan
Stars: Paul Dano, Daniel Radcliffe, Mary Elizabeth Winstead

by Kierston Drier

This issue of Gems You May Have Missed is all about unlikely heroes, psychological breakdowns and dead bodies with magical boners. Yes. I said that.

SWISS ARMY MAN is a rare beast of a film. Written and directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, and released in early July 2016, this piece requires commitment to your distension of disbelief. But if you can jump that hurdle, the film pays off big in the realm of emotional dividends and offbeat humor. Really offbeat.

Hank (Paul Dano), a nondescript everyman with a healthy dose of melancholia acts as our unlikely hero, when we find him at the opening of the film, stranded and starving on a desert island. He is about to hang himself when Manny (Daniel Radcliff) washes up on shore. Desperate for human contact of any kind, Hank forms an emotional and slightly creepy attachment to our dead friend. Believing that the appearance of Manny must be a sign, Hank drags the corpse off the beach and begins the long trek to seeks help and a way home.

The film starts on a dark note but quickly spirals through dark comedy and into a strange, but loveable hybrid of genre all its own, when Radcliff’s character Manny begins to talk. Not only talk, but also perform life saving tricks for Hank- like gush fresh water from his mouth, use his erection as a north-pointing compass, and, wait for it, fart so powerfully that he can work as a human motor boat. Hank and Manny form a bizarre bond of friendship, compassion and an utterly fresh take on instrumental friendship, as they must work together to get back to civilization.

It is hard to explain what makes SWISS ARMY MAN such an incredible cinematic experience. It boasts gorgeous, lush cinematic visuals, beautiful art direction and breathtaking cinematography. It is also largely a two-hander which means huge applause must go out to both Dano and Radcliff for engaging and grabbing performances. While both actors do a fantastic job in their roles, a special nod must be given to Radcliff who, has the added challenge of conveying a depth of character while still managing to pull of character that is, well, dead. The script is quirky, emotional and vibrantly original. But what makes SWISS ARMY MAN a real gem, is how startling unique it is. There is simply no film quite like it.

A viewer can watch this movie and feel a vast array of feelings- confusion, absurdity, hilarity, sorrow, compassion, concern and disbelief all within an hour and half. We never really know if we are watching a metaphor, one man’s delusion, or a strange world where anything-can-happen. But we feel something. The feeling may be complex and confusing but it is undeniably authentic. You may need to let go of logic and reason and strap yourself in for this roller-coaster of a film, but it is worth every minute of the ride.

Movie Review: 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE ***1/2

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10_cloverfield_lane.jpg10 CLOVERFIELD LANE (USA 2016) ***1/2
Directed by Dan Trachtenberg

Starring: John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Gallagher Jr.

Interview with 10 Cloverfield Lane Special Effects Foreman – Donnie Dean

Interview with 10 Cloverfield Lane Cinematographer – Jeff Cutter

Spoiler Alert: Please note that in order to provide a readable film review, there are minor plot points that have to be revealed in the review.

It should be noted that every attempt has been made to keep the key plot twists secret so that readers will not have their entertainment of this film compromised.

Films about sole captives have always done reasonably well at the box-office and have sat well with audiences. From William Wyler’s THE COLLECTOR to Peter Jackson’s THE LOVELY BONES to the recent Oscar best actress winning film ROOM, creepiness has always translated to good suspense and thrills. It is surprising that the above three films dealt with the main element of suspense and 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE is the only one that is truly a horror picture. And quite a good one at that. The antagonist is played by the excellent John Goodman. Can you imagine waking up after being unconscious in a tiny room only to be greeted by a gigantic unshaven monster of a man? Now that is really scary. And the script written by Josh Campbell, Matthew Stucken, and Damien Chazelle milks that idea to the limit.
The film is a science fiction horror film and the spiritual successor of the 2008 film CLOVERFIELD, although the two films do not share the same fictional universe or continuity.

CLOVERFIELD dealt with teens protecting their neighbourhood from aliens. So 10 COVERFIELD LANE obviously has real aliens in the plot, though the first part of the film teases the audience with the fact that there might not be ab alien invasion and that Howard (Goodman) is keeping both Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Emmet (John Gallagher, Jr.) prisoners in the dark on the false pretext of an alien invasion fall-out. But whatever the reason, Michelle,the lead character, has decided to escape, regardless.

The best parts of the film is Trachtenberg’s depiction of the desperation of all the three characters – each one dealing with it in his or her own way. The script also blends humour in the best of unexpected times. This is obvious in the film’s start with the intercutting with Michelle’s car accident and the titles ‘Paramount Pictures Present” and then car overturning and then “A Bad Robot Production”. The script is also clever enough to always keep the audience surprised with one plot turn after another. Howard can turn from super nice captor, to suspicious host to totally angry monster. The bunker itself is a contradiction of wonderfully designed live-in space to isolated captive room. Even the start of the film is a surprise. Michelle is shown driving away for 10 minutes of screen time before it is revealed she is running away from her lover, Ben (voiced by Bradley Cooper). “I think we’re alone now” is also an obvious but fun choice of a song on the soundtrack.

A bit of moralizing is included for good sport. Is it better to be alive in this situation?

There are a few minor loopholes in the plot, which cannot be mentioned here due to they being spoilers, but these are minor and can be overlooked. But the last 15 minutes of high tech, high budget climax destroys the otherwise excellent plotting of the first 3/4 of the film. It could be argued that the last segment is necessary to bind the two CLOVERFIELD films, but unfortunately director Trachtenberg has thrown all logic out the door as the audience can see what one small bottle of whiskey could do.

Despite its flaws, 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE is thoroughly entertaining and succeeds as a horror movie. One wonders though of the NORTH BY NORTHWEST styled letter credits the filmmakers have chosen to use.

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