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Review: 50/50 (2011)

DIRECTOR: Jonathan Levine.

CAST: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard, Angelica Huston, Philip Baker Hall, Matt Frewer, Serge Houde, Andrew Airlie.

SYNOPSIS: Based on a true story, when 27 year-old Adam (Gordon-Levitt), a clean living radio employee, is diagnosed with a rare form of spinal cancer, his whole world starts to slowly crumble around him. Best friend Kyle (Rogen) wants to preserve his quality of life by keeping him partying, whilst his mother, Diane (Huston), wants to move in with him and girlfriend Rachael (Howard) to take control.

Although it’s a film about cancer, you shouldn’t walk into 50/50 expecting over dramatics. You also shouldn’t expect a laugh a minute, gross-out comedy simply due to Seth Rogen’s presence. What you should expect is a mixture of the two, sensitively handled by director Levine, ensuring Will Reiser’s script is handled with care to deliver a film that carries great moral value and a hell of a lot of substance. And most of this is solely down to Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Continue reading

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Review: The Help (2011)

DIRECTOR: Tate Taylor.

CAST: Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jessica Chastain, Ahna O’Reilly, Allison Janney, Anna Camp, Eleanor and Emma Henry, Chris Lowell, Cicely Tyson, Mike Vogel, Aunjanue Ellis, Sissy Spacek, Ted Welch, Leslie Jordan, Mary Steenburgen.

SYNOPSIS: Set in Mississippi during the 1960s, Eugenia ‘Skeeter’ Phelan (Stone) is less concerned about finding a husband than her friends, desperate to become a respected writer. Troubled by the way the black women who work in her friends’ homes are treated, Skeeter turns to Aibileen Clark (Davis), asking her to disclose the truth about what really goes on behind closed doors. With others reluctant to help at first, Skeeter finds herself on the road to discovering some of the community’s best-guarded secrets and exposing the town during the civil rights movement.

Set amidst the events of the civil rights movement, for all its laughs and light heartedness, The Help deals with some incredibly traumatising events – albeit in a 12A fashion. This is bled into the second half with great ease and is a very impressive transition from the fun, caricatured portrayal of American society from the first half. Although we don’t see any mass violence, we see people escaping it, running for their lives and sporadic mentions of Jim Crow and similar figures ensure the harsh reality remains an ominous shadow over the film. Continue reading