Tag Archives: Jonah Hill

True Story

Yes or No_ (30)

More based on a true story action in the form of this murder mystery starring a man I want to cuddle and a man I want to slap the shit out of.

Let’s see if you can tell which is which from my words.

“I just called…”

True Story (2015)

When disgraced New York Times reporter Michael Finkel meets accused killer Christian Longo – who has taken on Finkel’s identity – his investigation morphs into a game of cat-and-mouse.

Starring: James Franco • Jonah Hill • Felicity Jones

Michael Finkel (my boo Jonah Hill) is a promising NY Times journalist with ten cover stories to his name. He’s riding high and expecting a Politzer nom when he’s called into his boss’ office to discuss his last story – an expose on modern slavery.

Unfortunately, rather than picking up a prize, he’s soon clearing his desk when it becomes obvious he may have embellished quite a lot of the story. Claiming he must have got mixed up, his bosses believe he’s used a composite character as the focus of the article. Breaking the rules of Journalism 101, you naughty boy.

Returned from NYC back to his wife (Felicity Jones) and home in Montana, Finkel is finding it predictably difficult to find work, given the accusations leveled at him. But things pick up when he receives a call from the editor of The Oregonian, asking for a quote on the Christian Longo story. Longo (eternal douche pony James Franco) stands accused of murdering his wife and three children – and is in clink awaiting trial.

Franco was not a fan of Christa Bass’ NY Times article, “Ten Things I Hate About James Franco”.

Well, Finkel apparently doesn’t keep up with news these days as he has no idea about the case. When he asks the caller why he should have a view on the story, he is told that when arrested, Longo was pretending to be Michael Finkel. Of the New York Times.

Oooooh!

What follows is a bizarre friendship blossoming between the two men, who figure they have more in common that they could ever have imagined. And Finkel’s career looks set to take an upturn when he decides to make Longo’s story into a book – one that the pair will write together.

The main question throughout True Story is – did Longo do it though?

Well, I won’t reveal the ending but I will say that the relationship between the men is complex and it puts a strain on Finkel’s marriage to Jill. Jill obviously can’t get her head around the need to understand the inner workings of a(n alleged) killer’s mind.

“No way is Franco coming over for tea…”

Finkel wants to believe in his new friend but Longo isn’t always frank and there are some curve balls thrown on the way to uncovering the ultimate truth…

Well. This is kind of dull really, though the story itself if quite explosive. What a shame. Jonah can’t be blamed for this one as he puts in a solid turn as disgraced journo Finkel who looks super cute in his glasses.

I am biased towards Franco, I can’t deny it but he really phones in this performance. I get as a character he’s quite closed off to the truth but he just looks smug the whole way through. I guess in some ways this does work for the character, who shows little remorse or feeling throughout, but a little bit of nuance would have been nice.

The women in this film are just side pieces – supporters and victims – and that’s quite annoying. The result, without proper padding of the relationships of the men, is rather flat.

There are flashbacks to happier times for Longo and his wife MJ (Maria Dizzia), with devoted father montages threaded throughout but these are just aftershocks and don’t fully paint a picture or a motive. Therefore you never really give a damn about either of the men but Longo even less.

It’s not bad, it just doesn’t have the oomph I would have liked.

⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What does my girl Jill think of True Story? Would she lie to it or write a book about its innocence? Find out here.

Maniac

Maniac (2018)

Jonah Hill, Emma Stone, a depressed computer, a series of mind-bending simulations and a seemingly predestined shared destiny – what’s not to love?

Honestly, not much. While everyone seemed to be tooting on about this when it first dropped on Netflix, I had a hard time getting past the first few episodes. But I wanted to give it a fair go, given its cast and I’m so glad I did.

I found it to be thoughtful, beautiful, funny and heartbreaking all at once. Like, honestly so profound in places that I thought my own heart might burst out of my chest and jump across the floor.

I don’t know how well I can describe it but Maniac focuses on Owen (Hill) and Annie (Stone), two quite damaged individuals who find themselves part of a new and potentially life-changing drug trial, run by Dr. Muramoto (Rome Kanda) and his colleague, Dr. Azumi Fujito (Sonoya Mizuno).

Both our protagonists have their own battle ahead. Owen Milgrim lives with severe mental health issues. He is also due to testify on behalf of his brother (Jesse Magnussen) in court, after he commits a felony. Increasingly, Owen disconnects from the world and from his family, struggling with suicidal notions.

Annie Landsberg grieves the death of her younger sister in a car accident and is driven to take extreme action to face what’s become of her life since. And so the two find themselves loosely acquainted, both test subjects in Muramoto’s lab. The tests are surreal and immersive, not to be discussed with the other patients but to be dissected at length after the fact.

When Muramoto drops dead suddenly, seemingly an addict of his own experimental drug (and the very pill the subjects have been taking prior to their simulations), Azumi calls in Dr. James Mantleray (Justin Theroux) to take his place. James it seems was one of the founders of the experiment, which is set to address and then fix all the misery of the world.

You didn’t think it would be that simple though, did you? Well of course it isn’t, as the project is plagued with issues. In fact, the only thing that seems sure in this whole trippy scenario (and all the wonderfully vivid simulations) is that Owen and Annie will find themselves together, their lives somehow entwined. Which isn’t supposed to happen.

The rest is up to you but it’s a Technicolor study of loss and life and love and mental anguish. Of accepting your limitations, of taking a leap of faith – of not being ‘normal’ and doing it all anyway. I adored it and by the last episode I actually felt deflated. Maniac has lit up this dreary week and engaged me fully. I want it back.

Have you seen Maniac? What did you think?

Guest Post: Sausage Party: A Wiener of a Movie

untitledI’m delighted to resume my She’s All That series with this from my very own sister-in-law. Not only is she the sister I always wanted, Madeleine is one of the most interesting, go-getting people I know, currently making her own film as part of her Masters (and it’s not her first, either) and co-founder of production company, 2213 Productions.

She also gives great advice, sends the best cards and loves pretty much the same things as me, which makes her one of my favourite ever people too. This is one busy lady so watch this space and name, I’m sure you’ll be seeing it in lights some time soon! ❤

I recently saw War Dogs. Not entirely unexpectedly it didn’t live up to its trailer – a ‘hilarious’ true-life story of how two stoners won a $300 million arms deal from the Pentagon. Directed by Todd Phillips of The Hangover Trilogy I was a little trepidatious going in given that I’m not really a fan of Philips’ aforementioned work #sorrynotsorry but I was entirely prepared to be won over (as I was with Adam McKay‘s transition from the entertaining Anchorman to the excellent The Big Short).

Sadly, War Dogs is an uneasy watch, never really deciding if it wants to be a comedy or a drama, and unfortunately failing by being neither. Despite Miles Teller being spectacular in the equally spectacular Whiplash, in War Dogs, Teller is super weak as the ‘everyday Jew Joe’ who innocently falls into a multi-million dollar lifestyle on the fringe of legality.

Nonetheless, I came away from the cinema truly impressed with the performance given by Jonah Hill who, throughout the film behaves like an utter cunt, but is somehow still the best part of a movie which was thankfully ‘only’ 114 minutes long, even though I’ll confess, it felt much longer.

I’ve always been part of the Jonah Hill Appreciation Fan Club. I have a thing for schlubby actors with Jew-fros; they just look like they  they know how to have a good time (which works for me as I haven’t worked out since June and as I write this it’s 3pm and I’m still in my pyjamas). So, after watching War Dogs I spent the majority of the rest of the bank holiday in a Jonah Hill Fest state of bliss, consuming The Wolf of Wall Street where Hill is absolutely mesmerising as Danny Azoff; Superbad – which is the stuff that comedies should be made of. And I watched Moneyball for the first time and was blown away because it’s excellent; and I was so surprised and a little bit ashamed I’d never watched it before.

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I’m so glad Hill was Oscar nominated for his part, even if he did lose to Christian Bale in The Fighter (I haven’t seen The Fighter but my husband says Bale deserved it so I’ll concede as apparently it’s 1954 in our household). We wrapped up our weekend with 21 Jump Street which still makes me literally lol even though I’ve seen it more times than I’ll admit to (Hill and Tatum, c’mon), and Hail, Caesar! – and then we found this Reebok advert which made me love him even more.

And then last week I finally watched Sausage Party. I had fairly average hopes from a trailer that looked kinda predictably silly but entertaining enough; I’d  hoped it would be better than This Is the End too, given that Kristen Wiig was in it and she can always make me smile. So I watched; and sadly I just didn’t get it.

I sound like my mother (not that I’d ever want my mother to watch this film) but it was bad. It was lazy; there’s too much swearing; and it’s just…weird. There’s a literal food orgy that I just didn’t get as it was way too odd and sexual – were people meant to go home and jack off to hotdog buns and horny tacos?! I’d also read the props it’d got because it pokes fun at religion, but it’s so sloppy and in-your-face it felts super-smug and I’m bemused it’s been credited for being gag-filled as it was more gag-inducing (I’m thinking of the male anal douching).

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But my biggest issue around Sausage Party though was its treatment of women. They’re objectified and the female food characters are overtly sexualised in a way that the dude characters aren’t – even though the lead sausage Frank is as phallic as they come. Unlike This is the End where women are few and far between (but at least Rihanna whacks Michael Cera when she smacks her ass just because it’s there), Sausage Party feels like it’s unconsciously making a constant nasty joke against women. From the start, the objective of Frank the sausage, is to fill Brenda the bun. I know I knew this going into the movie so I guess I don’t know what I was expecting, but there are so many jokes about filling Brenda’s hole, and ripping her in two, that is becomes really unnecessarily graphic. Also, the fact that her mouth is literally like a vagina whereas all the men’s faces are cartoonish and look like, well, faces – Brenda is a glorified hole with eyes (don’t believe me – check out the merch).

Also, Brenda aside, the real-life women in the movie are all animated to be tits, widespread legs and ass. Told from the POV of the food on the shelves, the camera angles are always upward crotch-shots and under-boob, and as a woman, I felt uncomfortable watching. I don’t know if it was meant to be controversial, like, how you can get away with vulgar material because it’s animation – but it left me feeling uneasy, not least because I was sat in a cinema with a vast majority howling with laughter, and all I could think is ‘Why are you okay with this?!’.

As a woman I think it’s dangerous when female characters are objectified and treated as sex-objects within movies. In Sausage Party women are sluts, whores, bitches. And it’s not just what the men call them, it’s what they call each other. There are literally no nice scenes between the female characters; the buns literally engage in a bun fight because of an upset that threatens their belief their life’s objective is to be filled with any kind of filling. Even when Teresa Taco befriends Brenda and it appears the women are going to help each other, but after a few scenes we learn that nope, Teresa just wants to fuck Brenda too. It upsets me to think that this movie will reinforce movie-goers that women are nothing more than holes waiting to be filled. That their worth is only on attractiveness; there is another scene where a deformed lady-bun is the only bun nobody wants to have sex with in the food-orgy and she is bereft – until – a deformed wiener saves the day and makes her so happy by screwing her. What the hell kind of message is that? I guess one, in a world, even an animated one with singing jars of pickles and radishes, where a woman’s only worth is by having a guy want to have sex with her. And I’m just not down with that.

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In a world where Casting Call Woe regularly posts depressing audition briefs – last month I saw one that read Attractive, yet looks like she’s sadly past her prime: Aged 28-40 – women have never treated more badly. With films like The Other Woman, a movie I watched for the most part believing it had to be satire and feeling utterly despondent when I knew it actually thought it was some sort of sparky revenge empowering film for women. It wasn’t. It upsets me most that in a media where women take up only 17% of screens (despite making up more than 50% of the population) that Sausage Party is worse than most in its portrayal of its female characters.

Because if women are going to take up so little time on the screen it’s essential that when they do – they actually have something to fucking say, instead of just being there to be fucked.