#229 / 365 – ‘The Elephant Man’ (1980) – 124 mins
IMDb Challenge #137 / 250 – Ranked #101 – iTunes
Based on the true story of Joseph Merrick (John Hurt), a 19th-century Englishman afflicted with a disfiguring congenital disease. With the help of kindly Dr. Frederick Treves (Sir. Anthony Hopkins), Merrick attempts to regain the dignity he lost after years spent as a side-show freak.
It would take someone with a heart of stone not be moved by director David Lynch’s intensely emotional telling of the ‘The Elephant Man’. Anthony Hopkins turns in a powerful performance and underplays the kind-hearted Dr. Treves, most notably with the astonishment he displays when he first sees Merrick and then his reactions as he comes to realise that Merrick is not an idiot, but a sensitive and intelligent man.
However it is the astonishing portrayal John Hurt gives of Merrick that will stay with you and his ability to convey emotion beneath make up, as he cries out in once scene – “I am not an elephant! I am not an animal! I am a human being!”
#230 / 365 – ‘30 Minutes or Less’ – 83 mins
Cinema Challenge #90 / 115
Why risk robbing a bank when you can force someone else to do it for you? Idiotic failed entrepreneur Dwayne (Danny McBride) has come up with what he believes is the perfect heist scheme. Aided by equally dim-witted buddy Travis (Nick Swardson) his plan involves kidnapping a pizza delivery guy, strapping a bomb to his chest and thereby forcing him to commit the crime. And it’s unwitting Nick (Jesse Eisenberg) who finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. With just ten hours to rob the bank before going kaboom, he enlists the help of schoolteacher pal Chet (Aziz Ansari). As the countdown continues, they have to deal with cops, hired killers, flamethrowers and their own fractious relationship.
Jesse Eisenberg is on good form in this enjoyable action comedy, that reunites him and director Ruben Fleischer from their brilliant 2008 hit ‘Zombieland’. On occasions the comedy falls a little flat, and I felt bored every time by Danny McBride’s character was on-screen, or should I re-quote Danny McBride the actor, whom I’ve seem to have taken an immediately dislike too since the truly awful ‘Your Highness’ earlier in the year, and here again he just brings nothing meangful to the table.
On a plus point some of the best scenes in the movie would have to include when Aziz Ansari in them. His lines had brilliant comic timing and are most quotable. Then 30 Minutes or Less as some great moments paying homage to the 80s buddy action comedies, and when the big smash-up car chase came on to the saxophone line of of Glenn Frey’s “The Heat is On.” from ‘Beverley Hills Cop’ – it had me smiling.
#231 / 365 – ‘The Change-Up’ – 112 mins
Cinema Challenge #91 / 115
While they were growing up, Mitch (Ryan Reynolds) and Dave (Jason Bateman) were inseparable. But today their lives have diverged along different paths. Dave is now an overworked lawyer, husband and father of three. Mitch, by contrast, has successfully dodged responsibility and commitment, remaining a quasi-employed man-child. Each is naturally jealous of the other. Mitch envies Dave’s highly paid job, his beautiful wife Jamie (Leslie Mann) and the kids who clearly adore him. Dave yearns for Mitch’s simple, stress-free life. After a drunken night out together, their dreams come true – when they wake up in each other’s bodies! But they quickly discover that reality doesn’t match their expectations. Matters are complicated further by Dave’s sexy work colleague Sabrina (Olivia Wilde) and Mitch’s estranged dad (Alan Arkin). The question is, can they avoid ruining each other lives before they find a way back?
It’s a well-tried formula, with the most notable being ‘Big’, ‘Vice Versa’ and ‘Freaky Friday’ and the latter is exactly how you would exactly label, The Change-Up – a Freaky Friday for adults.
Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds turn in some good performances once they swap bodies, with Bateman coming out on top. The Change-Up on occasions is very funny, especially during the film’s final third when the ridiculously stupid humour gives way to more some natural and spontaneous humour. However one of the major problems in ‘The Change-Up’ is how the writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, of ‘The Hangover’ fame unnecessarily drag out its near two-hour length in getting to the films obvious conclusion.