Denise Di Novi

Denise Di Novi

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Unforgettable Review

Good

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic script with plenty of nasty nuttiness. It may be a problem that none of this is intentionally hilarious, but the audience will enjoy giggling along as the only barely defined characters get pushed into increasingly grisly situations that all hinge on corny coincidences and the fact that no one talks to each other. Yes, it's terrible, but also a guilty pleasure.

It's set in suburban Southern California, where Julia (Rosario Dawson) has just moved to live with her hunky fiance David (Geoff Stults), who runs a micro-brewery. He also shares custody of his daughter Lily (Isabella Kai Rice) with his super-sleek ex-wife Tessa (Katherine Heigl), who clearly wants him back. So of course she sets out to make Julia's life miserable, all while smiling not-so-innocently. Her masterstroke is to lure Julia's violent ex (Simon Kassianides) to town once the restraining order against him expires. And of course, Tessa is carefully making it look like Julia's the one who's losing her marbles.

Director-producer Denise Di Novi lays this on thickly, with ominous musical undertones every time Heigl appears on-screen, to remind us that she's up to something nefarious. As if we didn't already know that by her pinched expression, uber-flattened hairstyle and tightly fitted dresses. Heigl generates some sympathy for Tessa as the woman scorned, and the appearance of her even more monstrous mother (Cheryl Ladd) adds the idea that she couldn't help growing up into this manipulative creep. Meanwhile, Dawson does some serious acting as Julia, a woman trying her best in a very difficult situation. On the other hand, it's impossible to understand how her brain works, especially when she continually withholds key information about both her past and her present from David.

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Unforgettable Trailer


Jealousy is a dangerous emotion. Tessa (Katherine Heigl) thought she had a chance to get her ex-husband David (Geoff Stults) back and finally be a family again with their daughter Lily (Isabella Rice), but then he met the sweet and beautiful Julia (Rosario Dawson) who he obviosly fell hopelessly in love with and subsequently married. She's the polar opposite of Tessa, and as understanding as she tries to be towards the latter, it doesn't stop Tessa plotting to destroy their happy home life. She thinks Julia has stolen her world and plans to get revenge by delving into her dark past life and raising doubts about her to David. Things come to a head when a man dies, and Julia is the one with blood on her hands.

Continue: Unforgettable Trailer

Focus Review


Good

A very odd blend of caper action, dark drama and romantic comedy, this slickly made con-artist romp never quite finds its stride. There's a merciful vein of sharp wit in the script, thanks to writer-directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (Crazy Stupid Love) and a spiky performance from Margot Robbie. But Will Smith's presence leaves everything feeling rather tame, compromising his character by making him a nice-guy crook rather than the unpredictable black-comedy protagonist he really should have been.

It opens as the wide-eyed Jess (Robbie) approaches veteran grifter Nicky (Smith) about learning the art of the con. She follows him to New Orleans for some major pickpocketing and double-crossing in the run-up to a big football championship, but Nicky unceremoniously dumps her afterwards. Three years later, they meet again in Buenos Aires, where both appear to be running scams centred around the Formula One team owned by Garriga (Rodrigo Santoro), who's never far from his right-hand goon (Gerald McRaney). With help from his old pal Farhad (Adrian Martinez), Nicky sets out to run his sting. But Jess is a distraction, and the stakes are too high for him to take his eye off the game.

While it's one of the running gags, Nicky's soft centre is a serious problem here, making the movie feel like a vanity project for Smith, who seems far too determined to be sympathetic. (Ficarra and Requa know how to make an anti-hero likeable: see Bad Santa.) Instead, Smith is a jarring combination of beefy physicality, fast-talking thievery and squidgy emotions. Robbie is able to more effectively merge Jess' gung-ho personality with her gleeful criminality, but when they're both together on-screen it's impossible not to feel like everything about the characters' relationship is a big con. So we wait for the script to reveal its clever twists and turns. But they're surprisingly few and oddly inconsequential.

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If I Stay Review


Very Good

Based on the Gayle Forman novel, this teen weepie is wrenchingly emotional and packed with girly fantasies. But the characters and situations have a lot more earthy honesty to them than this summer's other big adolescent tearjerker The Fault in Our Stars. It may be just as relentlessly sentimentalised, but the issues involved are faced with a lot more grit and realism, so the film earns its sob-inducing emotions.

Set in Portland, Oregon, the story centres on the Hall family. Parents Kat and Denny (Mireille Enos and Joshua Leonard) are former rockers who have mildly toned down their wild ways as they have raised their children: 17-year-old Mia (Chloe Grace Moretz) and the younger Teddy (Jakob Davies) to be independent and artistic. Although Kat and Denny are rather taken aback by Mia's obsessive love of classical music and prodigious gift with the cello. Then Mia is shocked to discover that the cool rock-god Adam (Jamie Blackley) at her high school is interested in her. As their relationship develops over the next year, it hits a few bumps along the way. And it's during one of these bad patches that Mia is in a life-threatening car crash with her family. In an out-of-body experience, she watches everyone react to her life-and-death situation, wondering, "Should I stay or should I go?"

Which of course would be a much better title for a rock-n-roll movie than this one. Never mind, since the film is structured as a peeling-onion of flashbacks and out-of-sequence revelations, Mia's conundrum is genuinely complicated, in a movie sort of way. But then everything about this film exists only in the movies, most notably Adam, the most perfect boyfriend in the history of cinema: a bad boy musician with a deep soul, open emotions and thoughtful reactions. He has so clearly been devised to appeal to the teen-girl audience that it's occasionally a bit ridiculous.

Continue reading: If I Stay Review

The Lucky One Review


Weak
Zac Efron isn't a bad actor, but this kind of sappy movie will do nothing to build his credibility. The flimsy plot might just about hold a pre-teen girl's interest, but lazy writing and bland production waste the decent filmmaking and acting.

After three tours of duty, shellshocked Marine Logan (Efron) heads home with no plan for the future. At one point in battle he'd found a picture of a pretty girl who became a sort-of guardian angel, so he decides to locate her based on landmarks in the photo. Eventually he meets kennel-owner Beth (Schilling) in down-home Louisiana. Without telling her how he knows her, he takes a job and reluctantly falls for her while charming her smart son (Stewart) and sassy granny (Danner). But Beth's sheriff ex-husband (Ferguson) isn't happy about this interloper.

Continue reading: The Lucky One Review

A Walk To Remember Review


Very Good
A Walk to Remember can and will be known best as "The Mandy Moore Project," the first feature where the popular teen singer stars on the big screen. She is the focal point of the marketing, the reason that most kids will see the movie, and the one player to be under the microscope. Luckily for Moore, and the film, her flaws are few, as she slides easily into one of the more interesting teen roles in recent adolescent films, as the originality of her character, her well-metered performance, and director Adam Shankman's lively delivery lift this movie above most of its counterparts.

The film may look like a relative to the Freddie Prinze Jr. vehicle She's All That (1999), but it's more like a cousin to Robert Mulligan's The Man in the Moon (1991). The story begins predictably enough: Landon (Shane West), a young teen sowing his oats through his high school years, is forced to take on charity work after orchestrating a stupid stunt that nearly paralyzes a kid. While mopping up hallways and tutoring youngsters, he comes across Jamie Sullivan (Moore), a level-headed duckling (not so ugly), with a good heart and religion at her core. If this were Prinze pap, Landon would spruce her up and show the world what it's been missing. Instead, in this Karen Janszen adaptation of the Nicholas Sparks novel, Jamie stays true to herself, and the shy girl has a life-changing effect on the guy.

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What A Girl Wants Review


Weak
Don't be fooled by the title. Despite being named after a Christina Aguilera song, What a Girl Wants is not a movie about a good-girl-turned-trashy-ho. Rather, it's the story of a sweet, all-American girl who generally enjoys her life but can't get past one thing: She's never met her father. As her high school days come to an end, young Daphne Reynolds (Amanda Bynes) decides it's time to meet this mysterious man who managed to woo her mother so many years ago, and so she throws her passport into her backpack and heads off to London.

What ensues is a standard fairy tale: Daphne quickly finds her father, Henry (Colin Firth), but is hindered in her attempt to forge a meaningful relationship thanks to an evil stepmother and debutante stepsister who are only interested in Henry's status and wealth. Fortunately, Daphne's got her American charm on her side and, with the help of her wise grandmother and cute new boyfriend, she's able to win Henry's heart and even manages to get him back together with mom. They all live happily ever after, as we are told at the end.

Continue reading: What A Girl Wants Review

Edward Scissorhands Review


Excellent
If anyone, Tim Burton needs a serious haircut. In most interviews, he looks like he's been dragged from a two week bender (got a better explanation for those obnoxious shades?). For a man who has based his entire career on being the most visually-daring, commercial director, he looks awfully drab and unkempt. One can see how a character like Edward Scissorhands made his way into Burton's home, with his ability to make everything pretty except himself.

In the middle of a suburbs stylized to the nines, the Boggs have made a modest, any-day home for them and their two children. Peg Boggs (Dianne Weist) makes her living as an Avon lady, going door-to-door with second rate beauty products, trying to make the outside meet the (supposed) inside. She is the gentlest woman in her neighborhood by a long shot. So, when she stumbles upon poor Edward Scissorhands (Johnny Depp), a Frankenstein-like creature who has scissors instead of fingers, she feels the motherly instinct to take care of the assembled fellow.

Continue reading: Edward Scissorhands Review

Denise Di Novi

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Denise Di Novi Movies

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

Unforgettable Trailer

Unforgettable Trailer

Jealousy is a dangerous emotion. Tessa (Katherine Heigl) thought she had a chance to get...

Focus Movie Review

Focus Movie Review

A very odd blend of caper action, dark drama and romantic comedy, this slickly made...

If I Stay Movie Review

If I Stay Movie Review

Based on the Gayle Forman novel, this teen weepie is wrenchingly emotional and packed with...

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The Lucky One Movie Review

The Lucky One Movie Review

Zac Efron isn't a bad actor, but this kind of sappy movie will do nothing...

A Walk To Remember Movie Review

A Walk To Remember Movie Review

A Walk to Remember can and will be known best as "The Mandy Moore Project,"...

What a Girl Wants Movie Review

What a Girl Wants Movie Review

Don't be fooled by the title. Despite being named after a Christina Aguilera song,...

Edward Scissorhands Movie Review

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