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Andrew Mcguinness "The Cappuccino Kid"

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Girl, Interrupted [DVD]
Girl, Interrupted [DVD]
Dvd ~ Winona Ryder
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £3.04

10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Hollywood does mental illness with mixed results, 20 Jun. 2010
This review is from: Girl, Interrupted [DVD] (DVD)
Focussing on the character of Susanna (Winona Ryder) who is put into a mental institution due to a personality disorder, 'Girl, Interrupted' charts her relationship with fellow patients, in particular that of Lisa (Angelina Jolie). Although it is important and valuable for cinema to portray issues of mental health on screen, 'Girl, Interrupted' is not at its heart about mental illness. Ryder's character is actually someone exiled from society thanks to not fitting in with the expected conventions of someone her age - i.e. going to college and remaining celibate.

Ryder is efficient in her role as the confused Susanna, whilst Jolie is absolutely explosive as Lisa the sociopath who dominates attention within the institution. The other patients within the institution are less well drawn, all we garner from them is that they scratch about with their individual conditions, none though have the spark of Lisa.

The film leaves the viewer cold. At one point we witness Susanna discovering the body of a former patient after staying the night at her house. Heavily signposted from a mile off, as well as being the result of a completely artificial escape sequence, the viewer is left with a feeling of emptiness and confusion rather than sadness. Perhaps it is because that the film is dealing with thematically broader ideas than mental health that leads to a failure to explain the actions of these characters from anything other than Susanna's perspective.

One of the main problems with the film is that there is no relationship between Jolie and Ryder's characters. We are led to believe that there is, but the script does nothing beyond a bit of a sing song to suggest there is a connection between the two. It is unclear whether this apparent lack of is intended to highlight how Susanna does not belong in such an institution or not.

The final third of the film makes it clear that we are meant to believe in this relationship, despite the lack of grounds for this to remain convincing. Resorting to mainstream cliches we get a rather convoluted chain of events that fail to illicit an emotional pay-off in the eventual resolution. In truth, it is all a bit muddled, as if the writers lost faith in the characters and had to rely on tired conventions of mainstream cinema.

Ultimately, 'Girl, Interrupted' is an extremely watchable and well-acted film that deals in serious issues with extremely broad Hollywood brushstrokes. The mere presence of weighty issues is not enough to give the film itself weight. Nevertheless, it is fantastic to see a film that revolves around female characters whose interactions do not revolve around their relations with men. For that at least it deserves applause.

The Weather Man [DVD]
The Weather Man [DVD]
Dvd ~ Nicolas Cage
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.89

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More than just a comedy, 20 Jun. 2010
This review is from: The Weather Man [DVD] (DVD)
A lot of criticism has been levelled at 'The Weather Man' due to its failings as a comedy. This is a failure of marketing, not of film making. Yes, there are laughs, I felt like I chuckled at the points the film maker intended - but this is not the sole object of the film. In reality, it is a character study of a man at a certain point in his life attempting to discover who he is. This could be rather dull but instead is handled tenderly.

Dave Spritz (Nicolas Cage) is a weather man for a TV station in Chicago. The financial benefits of the job render his life extremely comfortable, his emotional wellbeing is less stable. Divorced, detached emotionally from his two wayward children and living in the shadow of his Pulitzer Prize winning father (Michael Caine), Spritz feels inadequate. The film charts Spritz as he resolves to make amends with these characters and also, in a rather novel device, discover why passers-by pelt him with fast food.

Thankfully the film doesn't head down the schmaltzy route, seeped in melodrama. The film shows restraint. There is a point where Spritz is pointing a bow and arrow at his ex-wifes fiancee which could all to easily have been a lurch into the ridiculous. This restraint is also reflected in Verbinsky's direction which is more languid than snappy. This gives the film a feel more akin to Haneke than a Hollywood blockbuster. Perhaps this is why many have found this film 'boring', I admit it requires patience, but this is rewarded in the closing stages.

The sequences between Cage and Caine are handled extremely well, creating a convincing dynamic with dashes of comedy handled sensitively. Yes, elements of it are underwritten, particularly the sub-plot involving Spritz's son and family in general. Perhaps it does smack of a between projects film (which it is). Despite this, the ultimate message is powerful and one about society as a whole. The fast-food throwing may be comically amusing, but it also sheds light on aspects of American culture that lay at the root of Spritz's problems. Taking this into consideration it seems misjudged to label 'The Weather Man' as just a comedy.

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