It seems long overdue a movie being done of the classic comedy duo Laurel & Hardy. I vaguely recall catching either old movies or shorts on TV as a kid and loving their rather innocent and charming approach to often slapstick humour. Both of them had a great personality that worked well together, and seeing anything they did even now still raises more than a few chuckles. There is something timeless about them that I think unlike many other acts like Charlie Chaplin or the Three Stooges, hasn’t aged all that badly.
This movie follows the comedy duo as they reunite after a period of retirement to do a tour around England and Ireland in an attempt to finance a new movie. However following an incident during the height of their career, it soon becomes obvious there’s some bad blood between them. Steve Coogan and John C Reilly take on the rather intimidating task of bringing such figures to life and I am both happy and amazed to say they achieve it to an incredibly uncanny level. Coogan nails the expressions, the mannerism and even the walk of Stan Laurel and Reilly is just perfect as Hardy despite some prosthetic make up effects (which are done brilliantly). The relationship between the two is perfectly observed, touching, a little sad but also amiable and funny. You get a good idea who these guys really were and how they both respected each other, at times loathed each other but ultimately loved each other. Set mostly in England you get none of the Hollywood glamour and more so the has-been stage of their lives, of two stars struggling to hold onto the magic and keep themselves relevant. A squabbling duo of wives adds some fun personality, a money hungry agent also adds flavour and overall this is a charming and fascinating movie.
As a Laurel & Hardy fan I would have appreciated more of a glimpse into how they came to be, or just a snap shot of their fame. The focus on the later part of their career makes for a good story that granted, tugs at the heart strings … but as much as I really enjoyed this, I came away feeling it wasn’t the full package – especially for those unfamiliar with their legacy Otherwise a heart-warming, funny and brilliantly acted look at two comedy legends.
A movie industry legend and a genuine hero of mine in the 80s with the Smokey and the Bandit and Cannonball Run movies has died today. Burt Reynolds was set to star in Tarantino’s latest Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, due out next summer.
Has it really been that long? Today marks this blog’s 10th anniversary since my very first post. I may not be all that popular compared to other blogs and I suppose my blog’s subjects are not that unique to grab a big audience, and well I don’t pay for advertisers to help boost my views either. Yet I have enjoyed and continue to enjoy writing this bog, sharing my opinions and what’s going on in my life. I hope whomever takes the time to read anything I post, takes something away from it, either interest for a movie they had been wanting to see, discovering a movie they may not have previously been aware of, or just enjoy my writing style and what I have to say.
A big thank you goes out to regular readers and subscribers for your continued support. I may be a small-time blogger but I’m dedicated and I appreciate every comment and view and like that I receive. Keep coming back and I’ll keep posting. Don’t forget you can also find me on Twitter and Facebook(<<< click)which you can also find on the panel to your right >>>
Throughout my movie viewing life, from time to time I have wanted to have seen some of the ‘greats’ of cinema. Movies that continue to be talked about, influential and be regarded as masterpieces, those titles any self-respecting movie fanatic should say they’ve seen. So I began trawling the celebrated IMDB Top 250 for movies and found there were many I didn’t recall having seen either partially or at all, much to my embarrassment.
Now let’s go back a few years to when I watched a movie called Glengarry Glen Ross, a movie that at the time was highly acclaimed and said to be a spiritual successor to this 1957 classic. So I’d always wondered if I’d like that movie’s supposed inspiration as I had Glen Ross itself. This tells the story of a jury who need to make a decision regarding the case of an eighteen year old guy who is accused of murdering his father. Their decision would mean the difference between this lad walked free, or facing the electric chair. Twelve men, all strangers to one another adjourn into a single room to discuss their verdicts and that is where the majority of the movie plays out. With the backdrop of a very hot summer’s day and the claustrophobia of the room, soon tensions are burning as these very different men spar it out and way up facts verses their own beliefs and the testimonies of witnesses. It proved thoroughly gripping, surprisingly so and with a cast of occasionally familiar looking actors (was that Quincy?) headed by the late Henry Fonda … I enjoyed watching it all play out.
At times some of the acting is a bit on the theatrical side, and it kind of ends abruptly … but for it’s time this must have been ground-breaking, free of much of the trappings of typical Hollywood fair. It made me feel like I was weighing up the facts and trying to come to a decision as much as these men were. I certainly get why this movie has endured and still gets talked about as it tackles a relevant subject, with the death penalty still around in certain American states. Also Sidney Lumet’s direction is like a study of human preconceptions and prejudices, bringing out subtle nuances of every character. I was left suitably impressed.
I have been an admirer of the work of sibling directors Joel & Ethan Coen for many years now and count movies like The Big Lebowski and Fargo amongst some of the best movies I’ve seen. However sometimes these talented guys seem to stumble upon an idea that for one reason or another just doesn’t work – and I’m surprised to say, this is one such movie.
The plot follows a day in the life of a movie studio exec (Josh Brolin), sometime in the early 1950s, where musicals and swords & sandals epics were all the rage. It’s certainly a fascinating setting and one I was hoping would be a great backdrop to an intriguing kidnap storyline, at least that’s the idea the trailer gave me. However following the mysterious abduction of their biggest star, Baird Whitlock (George Clooney), Brolin finds himself being forced to come up with a ransom whilst at the same time juggling a myriad of other issues at the studio.
Now you see here lies the problem … there’s a lot of things going on here; Scarlett Johansson appears as a tough-talking pregnant starlet whose lack of a husband puts her image (and that of the studio) in question. Also twin reporters turn up trying to dish the dirt on Baird Whitlock’s past and a dim-witted western star get’s the opportunity to do his first speaking part in a new movie. Oh and there’s some dancing sailors too, headed by Channing Tatum. Yet despite these admittedly colourful characters, along with Clooney they’re written so one dimensional that it was really hard to care about any them. Johansson, considering she’s one of the most bankable actresses around at the moment gets two redundant scenes, and Clooney’s plot is more perplexing and confusing than gripping.
The movie isn’t without it’s moments though. It looks fantastic (thanks to regular collaborator Roger Deakins) and behind the scenes segments of movies being made will always pull me in. The dialogue at times is also pretty comical (a meeting with various representatives of different religious faiths to discuss a biblical epic is a stand out). Yet the comedy isn’t strong enough to hide the fact the movie fails to go anywhere even remotely interesting and no attention to set design, costumes or musical numbers can make up for such a glaring flaw.
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