John C. Reilly

REVIEW: Stan & Ollie (2018)

Stan Laurel (Steve Coogan) and Oliver Hardy (John C. Reilly) attempt to reignite their film career as they embark on a gruelling theatre tour of post-war Britain.

Stan & Ollie opens with a four or five-minute-long tracking shot of Laurel and Hardy as they make their way through a film studio, passing cowboys, Roman soldiers and crew members, as they discuss their marital situations and their next move career-wise. This was a great way to introduce these two men and show off how films were made, and the stars were controlled in the Classical Hollywood era.

Soon after that though it’s 1957 and Laurel and Hardy aren’t as young or as famous as they used to be. Coogan and Reilly both do a great job in their roles. They’re clearly having a lot of fun with the slapstick sketches, which are fun to watch too, but they both are well-suited to the more dramatic and emotional moments too. There’s a lot of history between the Laurel and Hardy we follow here, but there’s a deep friendship too. Great performances and cracking chemistry make them a compelling duo.

The supporting cast are great too and the whole film is almost stolen by Nina Arianda and Shirley Henderson, playing Ida and Lucille, Laurel and Hardy’s wives respectively. The majority of the laughs come from these two. Their interactions with each other are often scathing and witty, while their interactions with their husbands are equal parts caring and amusing.

Stan & Ollie is lovely and charming. As someone who knew little to nothing about Laurel and Hardy before seeing this film, I found it accessible, engaging and fun. It’s not exactly ground-breaking in terms of what a biopic can be, but the performances make this film more than worth the price of admission. 4/5.

REVIEW: Kong: Skull Island (2017)

A team of scientists led by Bill Randa (John Goodman) aided by a unit of soldiers led by Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson) set out to explore an uncharted island in the Pacific but they soon find themselves outgunned as they venture into the domain of the mighty Kong.

Kong: Skull Island is a lot of fun. It’s an action/war/monster movie hybrid that manages to work most the time. It’s an action movie with colour! Not to the same extent of films like Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) and Pacific Rim (2013) but enough to make it noticeable in a good way. The stuff it does with smoke, fire and shadow is also brilliant, the scale of Kong and the other creatures living on the island comes across great and the film knows how to amp up the suspense.

Kong is brilliant. The scenes with him smashing helicopters or creatures are thrilling and then there’s the quieter moments when you see Kong just going about his life and being a good King. It’s brilliant animation work and every moment he’s on screen you can’t take your eyes off him.

The cast is a proper star-studded cast. Some have more to do than others, for instance Tom Hiddleston’s James Conrad is a tracker and is ex-SAS who does seem to be pretty amazing at everything he turns his hand to, while the majority of the soldiers are expendable and don’t always have decent character beats. Brie Larson was great, she played Mason Weaver a war photographer who thinks there’s something up with the expedition and she has good chemistry with pretty much everyone on screen. That being said, a lot of the characters are archetypes. That might not work for some people but it worked for me, most still have a moment where it makes you care about them and you only need

There are jokes in Kong: Skull Island, some fall flat especially at the beginning when it seems as if the film is finding its feet, but the rest of the time they work for the most part – or if they miss the mark, there’s so many monsters and fighting going on then you don’t really notice. The jokes do become more frequent when we meet Hank Marlow (John C. Reilly) and his lines tend to work more often than not.

The soundtrack is also worth mentioning. It’s great, full of popular songs from the 1970’s but they don’t always fit what’s happening on screen – there’s only so many shots of someone switching on a record player to show why there’s suddenly some David Bowie or Creedence Clearwater Revival playing before it comes a little tedious.

Kong: Skull Island is great fun. The CGI is ace, the action scenes are fun and exciting and it’s pure, fun entertainment for less than two hours. Oh and there is a post-credits scene and it’s worth sticking around for. 4/5.

REVIEW: We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011)

we-need-to-talk-about-kevin-posterEva (Tilda Swinton) struggles to love her strange son Kevin (Rock Duer, Jasper Newell and Ezra Miller depending on age) due to the increasingly vicious things he says and does as he grows up. But Kevin is just getting started and is final act will be beyond anything anyone could imagine, and Eva struggles to deal with the consequences.

We Need to Talk About Kevin jumps in time between the present where Eva is trying to deal with the consequences of her sons actions and various points in the past as Kevin grows up. As the film progresses you slowly realise what it is that Kevin has done and why the community has turned against Eva.

The film is unsettling because you know something bad is going to happen and you’re just waiting for that moment. You’re also waiting for someone to take Eva’s concerns about her son seriously. Her husband Franklin (John C. Reilly) seems to miss all the times Kevin is acting up, instead he is the fun dad who plays video games with his son and gives him the benefit of the doubt.

The cinematography is stunning and with the eerie soundtrack, adds to the tension that slowly builds throughout the film between Eva and Kevin. Swinton and Miller have weird chemistry between them and both their performances are incredible. Really it is Swinton’s film and her performance is mesmerising, while Kevin is almost like this negative presence you feel at the back of your neck.

We Need to Talk About Kevin poses the nature vs nurture debate to the extreme. Should Eva have tried to understand and love her son more? If she did, would she have been able to stop him? Or was there something not right with him from the beginning and there was nothing she could’ve done? But if that’s the case, surely it’s still Eva’s fault for she is his mother and he came from her?

We Need to Talk About Kevin is a brilliant mix of family drama, thriller and horror, it’s an unsettling film to watch but it’s also compelling and you can’t look away. 5/5.