Formulaic but definitely funny enough. Ferrell's none-more-Ferrell bit about his dad being ashamed of him is a highlight, and there's a great running gag about how much everyone hates American tourists. Dan Stevens is good value too as a George Michael-haired Russian pop behemoth whose anthem, 'Lion of Love', is probably the pick of the enjoyable song score.
Capra’s Christmas miracle. Some favourite things:
- His use of close-up (into which his characters typically walk). The story plays out on George's face, often veiled from everyone else. He's a hero who takes the burden of the world on his shoulders, while his true emotions remain a secret between him and the audience. In that sense it's partly a film about the need to let people in: restraint and self-sacrifice are virtues too, but they breed resentment.
You can take your Juno, your Scott Pilgrim, even your Heathers, and chuck them in a skip, because Ghost World just does it all so much better. Well, all of it that's worth doing. I'm beginning to think this melancholy, bitingly hilarious crystallisation of teen ennui might be the only film I'll ever really need.
Wine is probably the most boring subject on Earth, so how come Payne’s film about a lonely, bitter best man (Paul Giamatti) taking the soon-to-be-groom (Thomas Haden Church) on a week-long tour of vineyards is so bloody good? Perhaps because of Giamatti’s astonishing characterisation, which imbues an arrogant, self-destructive, self-hating pseud with a completely disarming humanity. Or perhaps because it’s not really about wine at all, but love and friendship and the choices that people make that end up deciding…