This Is Where I Leave You (narrated with Tina Fey GIFs)

 

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When I first heard of This I Where I Leave You, it ticked all the boxes.

1. It stars Tina Fey and Adam Driver, amongst others, who are two people that can do no wrong in my mind (I’m obviously not biased at all). **

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2. It is a dysfunctional family drama, which has equalled awesomeness in the past (Little Miss Sunshine is a personal fave).

3. I came across yet another excellent podcast by Elvis Mitchell for KCRW’s The Treatment, where he chatted to the director Shawn Levy and it amped me up more.

Getting excited

Getting excited

There was also the fact that it was selected to screen at Toronto, which doesn’t necessarily mean anything, but hey, Levy’s other films like Date Night weren’t, so it potentially said something about what kind of movie I was going to see.

Then I saw the trailer, which was pretty sigh-worthy. It looked a lot like The Family Stone and seemed determined not to really explain what the movie was about.

So I went into this flick, thinking it could go either way.

Unfortunately, however, it went with the former and was quite underwhelming.

Ok this is an exaggeration.. I was a little disappointed

Ok this is an exaggeration.. I was a little disappointed

It had its moments, but actually, what This Is Where I Leave You felt like, was more of a series of nice moments strung together.

It focuses on Jason Bateman’s Judd Altman, whose life has taken a big dump on any plans he might have had. After walking in on his boss sleeping with his wife, he finds out his father has died, and heads back to his family home, where he, his sister (Fey), mother (Jane Fonda) and two brothers (Driver and House of Cards’ Corey Stoll) must ‘sit shiva’ for a week.

Apparently it was his father’s dying wish for them to take part in the Jewish week-long mourning ritual, that in this case, traps five family members who rarely see each other in the same house for seven days, along with and their significant others and children.

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Of course, past issues and current issues, old flames, and all the drama that you expect bubbles to the surface, but more with a melancholy sigh, than with gusto. The only character I really felt anything for was Tina Fey’s Wendy, who has a heartbreaking storyline about an old boyfriend.

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This Is Where I Leave You is sweet and sentimental, but not much more.

And with a cast of this calibre, I want to be leaving the cinema punching the air and planning my next trip to see it. Not walking out with a shrug.

** Just need a moment to rave about Adam Driver, who you probably recognise from the TV series GIRLS. The guy is a superb actor. He’s just so raw and unpredictable. If you haven’t seen him in Aussie film Tracks, stop reading this now and go watch it. BRILLIANT film.

Adam Driver in Tracks - a must-see Aussie film also starring Mia Wasikowska (Copyright The Weinstein Company 2014)

Adam Driver in Tracks – a must-see Aussie film (Copyright The Weinstein Company 2014)

And on a final note…. Just cause I can

Just cause I can

The Usual Suspects (1995)

I wouldn’t have been surprised if Kevin Spacey got some strange looks walking down the street in 1995.

In the same year he freaked everyone out with the “what’s in the box?!” shocker in Se7en, he also played one of the line-up in The Usual Suspects – a role he actually won an Academy Award for.

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He played the cripple ‘Verbal’ Kint in a line-up that included:

An uber young Benicio Del Toro, before he became known as a Mugatu look-a-like in the Marvel Cinematic Universe –

Looking very much like Mugatu from Zoolander as Marvel's The Collector

Del Toro doing his best death stare as Marvel’s The Collector

 

One of the Baldwin’s that no one remembers

Alec? Nope. William? Nope. Aha! It's Stephen! Huzzah!

Alec? Nope. William? Nope. Aha! It’s Stephen! Huzzah!

Gabriel Byrne, who was actually in 2006 Australian film Jindabyne

Filming Jindabyne in Australia

Filming Jindabyne in Australia

And Kevin Pollak, who’s other film for 1995 was a little one called Casino, which is also on my long lists of films to watch

Pollak in Scorsese's Casino. Copyright Universal Pictures

Pollak in Scorsese’s Casino. Copyright Universal Pictures

Now, I have been meaning to watch Usual Suspects for years and years.

1. It’s directed by Bryan Singer, who’s better known these days for directing the X-Men movies. Well, he directed three of the best ones anyway – X-Men in 2000, X-Men 2 in 2003 and this year’s X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014). He’s also set to helm the upcoming X-Men: Apocalypse.

Bryan Singer checking out Magneto's helmet

Bryan Singer checking out Magneto’s helmet

2. Christopher McQuarrie penned it – and won an Academy Award for the clever, twisty screenplay. I interview McQuarrie back in 2012 for Jack Reacher, which he wrote and directed. A pretty solid action flick actually, with Tom Cruise in the lead role. Obviously, Hollywood agreed because he’s know directing Mission: Impossible 5.

Christopher McQuarrie directing Tom Cruise

Christopher McQuarrie directing Tom Cruise

3. Kevin Spacey is in it. Nuff said.

If you need convincing, watch this:

If you need more convincing, check out Netflix series House of Cards. In fact, if you haven’t jumped on that bandwagon already, you really need to. No one nails creepy/ruthless as much as Spacey. I think if you met him in person, you would be partly in awe, and partly terrified.

So with such high expectations, I wasn’t sure about The Usual Suspects. But I have to admit, I was really impressed.

It took a while to grab my interest, but then I was hooked.

And that ending…

What a shock that ending was!

What a shocker!

Out of 10 I would give it:

3 points for THAT ending (and that it was still a surprise nearly two decades later), 2 points for superb directing/writing, 1 point for Benicio Del Toro’s accent and 2.5 for having everyone asking ‘who is KEYSER SOZE?’ years before social media made it easy.

8.5/10