The Amazing Spider-Man – A Review by Film Nerd

Director: Marc Webb

Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Sally Field, Martin Sheen

Synopsis: A reboot of the successful Spider-Man film franchise that many considered had come too early, this version follows the story from the original comic source much more closely.   Similarities with Sam Raimi’s original film do exist, but these are always inescapable.   Webb here manages to make a film that is clearly distinguished from its predecessors.   Time shall tell which version, if either, proves the most popular.

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Friends with Benefits – A Review by Film Nerd

Director: Will Gluck

Cast: Justin Timberlake, Mila Kunis, Patricia Clarkson, Jenna Elfman, Woody Harrelson, Nolan Gould

Synopsis: Just like recent predecessors Love and Other Drugs and No Strings Attached, this is a film concerning two friends hooking up with the plan of having no romantic entanglements.   However, they discover, just like their predecessors, that to avoid any attachment to their sexual partner is easier said than done.

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The Help – A Review by Film Nerd

Director: Tate Taylor

Cast: Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Bryce Dallas Howard, Octavia Spencer, Jessica Chastain, Allison Janney, Ahna O’Reilly, Anna Camp, Sissy Spacek, Mary Steenburgen, Nelsan Ellis

Synopsis: Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan (Stone) is a young woman with aspirations of becoming a novelist, very progressive for a Mississippi woman in the 1960’s.   Even more progressive are her opinions on racial differences within the state.   At the risk of breaking the law, she begins a novel concerning the stories of the African-American maids in her township… a novel that is destined to make waves.   Her first challenge though is to get these scared women to talk to her, until Abeline Clark (Davis) finds the courage to speak up.

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Crazy, Stupid, Love – A Review by Film Nerd

Directors: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa

Cast: Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore, Emma Stone, Marisa Tomei, Kevin Bacon, Analeigh Tipton, Jonah Bobo, Liza Lapira

Synopsis: Cal Weaver (Carell) has his life turned upside down when his wife and the mother of his children, Emily (Moore), asks him for a divorce, also informing her of an affair with a work colleague (Bacon).   Depressed, he starts hanging out in a bar, where a suave pick-up artist Jacob (Gosling) takes pity on him and updates his image, helping him to take a number of women home himself.

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Easy A- A Review by Film Nerd

Director: Will Gluck

Cast: Emma Stone, Penn Badgley, Amanda Bynes, Dan Byrd, Thomas Hayden Church, Patricia Clarkson, Cam Gigandet, Lisa Kudrow, Malcolm McDowell, Alyson Michalka, Stanley Tucci

Synopsis: Olive (Stone) was the girl at high school that most people ignore.   That is until rumour spreads that she has lost her virginity.   It is not the case, but given the reputation is there, she plays up to it, and even uses it to help guys in her school that could use a popularity boost, claiming numerous romantic encounters with each.   This incurs the wrath of fellow student Marianne (Bynes), and her cohort of pro-christianity followers.   She further fans the flames by embroidering a red A onto her wardrobe, in reference to the punishment of adulterous Hester Prynne in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter.

A review by Film Nerd.

I cannot begin to express my relief that studios seem to have woken up to the fact that good comedy is not all about pratfalls and fart gags.   It feels like recent so-called comedies have relied all to heavily on these elements, and any hint of intelligence or wit has actually been removed.   However, the last 12 months has seen a change to this trend, starting with The Hangover last year, that did rely on some classic comedy, but had true heart, and was followed by knowing geek comedies Kick-Ass and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (click the inserted links to read my reviews of these films).   Easy A continues this trend, injecting the teen comedy with actual humour, heart, and even includes somewhat an element of an homage to the classic John Hughes films of the 1980s.

The story is told in a narrative form, Olive discussing events that have occurred to her in the last few weeks via webcast.   An interesting presentation method, easily identifiable in today’s age of free-flowing information.   It turns out to be more than just a gimmick though, and itself plays an interesting plot-development element.   Emma Stone plays Olive with sass and intelligence, often having the come-backs you wish you thought of at the time.    Beyond this, though, Stone proves to have great range in scenes requiring sympathy for all the guys she helps get over their social inadequacies.   Her range is also in evidence when things inevitably go horribly wrong, at which point her performance is nothing less than heart-breaking.   Stone is fantastic, and is one of my many actresses to watch at the moment.

A film is not made by one cast member alone though, and the supporting cast here are a veritable treasure trove of delights.   Clarkson and Tucci play Olive’s liberal, yet unequivocally understanding parents, and they add quirkiness to the family scenes, which is much more of a delight than the cliché of the strict, overbearing parents.   Hayden Church, Kudrow and McDowell all have little screen time, but each one of them resonates in that space of time.   Her peers at the school do come across as a little more one-dimensional, but that is perhaps a scripting problem as well.   They do fade away in comparison to the delight that is Stone’s Olive.   Perhaps the only exception is Byrd’s Brandon, the first guy she helps who wishes to shed the tag of being a homosexual.   It is a tough role, in that it comments that this subterfuge should not be necessary, yet for the character, the pain of the response from other high school student’s is just too much.   I had only seen Byrd previously on Cougar Town, and on the basis of this performance am keen to see what he does next.

I referred earlier to the fact that events do take a turn for the worse.   Rather than just play on the comedy element, the film does go into the effect that perceptions of promiscuity can have,no matter how unwarranted,  and the devastating effect it can have on a person of being ostracised by one’s peers.    This was already far from being your average comedy, but this addition to the plot is far from being an addition for the sake of drama, but is a natural progression of the events on-screen, and much to the film’s benefit.   Even the resolution of these matters does not come across as tacky, or loosely added on for the sake of a happy ending.   Regardless, you do leave the cinema smiling.

This film is not getting as many cinema sessions here in Sydney as many less-deserving films appear to be, but do not take this as a perception of the quality of the film, only as a perception of what sells.   This is a wonderful with an amusing premise, well written and acted characters, and some absolutely razor-sharp comedy.   A must!

4.5 stars (out of a possible 5)

Easy A on IMDB

Easy A on Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNbPnqyvItk]