Ok, in fairness I was half cut when I was watching this movie but I don’t think it would have made any more sense sober. The Level of talent on show is impressive: Jack black, Owen wilson and Steve Martin take the main roles, supporting cast includes Rashida Jones, Rosamund Pike, Kevin Pollack (does he count as a star anymore?) Anjelica Heuston, and fucking Brian Dennehy, with narration by John Cleese.
In a movie about bird watching.
Yeah, I’ll let that sink in… Bird watching. Who greenlit this? It’s diverting, by which I mean it;s not actually annoying to watch, but for a film starring many of the top comedic actors of the past 30 years it’s just not funny. I mean I didn’t laugh once. No wait, I did laugh once. Literally once. Owen Wilson gets to say the one good punchline. I can only assume he is in this movie to payback director David Frankel for the eternal route into retarded pet lovers panties with which was provided by his role in Marley and Me but seriously… this movie is about birdwatching. Maybe there exists the theoretical possibility of a movie on this subject where this hobby provides an appropriate analogy for the human condition but this is not that movie. Black, Martin and Cleese clearly know comedy so how do they read this script and go: I’m in!? Apart from the obvious problems of director and subject, it still ended up being a hot mess. The characters are not set up, sub plots appear and disappear at random, Cleese’s Alimony inspired narration is pointless and tacked on, major life events happen and yet the bird watching takes precedence and the resolution is quick and nonsensical. The more I watched the more annoyed i was.
Glad you could take some time out from phoning it in Tony Scott movies to phone it in this piece of crap. I mean sure two oscars should be enough for anyone but does that mean you have to stop trying all together? There’s little worse than a boring action film. Safe House starts out ok but as the film goes on the plot gets simultaneously thinner and more drawn out. They’ve gone for ‘realistic’ fight scenes which you would think would be a good thing but it makes the fights seem more like chip shop brawls (or UFC) all grappling and holds. Bruce lee it ain’t. Well shot, lame story, lame Denzel, I love Ryan Reynolds but even one of the kings of likeability can’t save this one, not terrible but terribly pointless.
Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Plopper) gets all scared in this thrill fest from Hammer Horror. By no means a spectacular film it does however manage a fright or two along the way. Couldn’t help but find Radcliffe too young for the lead though. A widowed man with a young child? Come on he is only 12 right?
A Dangerous Method - I never knew Carl Jung was Irish!?
Cronenberg, Mortnesen, Fassbender and…Knightley? Shoot the casting director on this one, they were doing such a great job and then they mucked it. There goes my veto of all things Knightley. That said her performance was surprisingly watchable in this thought fest (shabby Russian accent aside). The big stand out for me here was Mortensen’s take on Freud. Great performance and a real show stealer. Also great in a support slot was Cassel as a man with reckless abandon at his core. In a nutshell I’d say: good round the edges; little frayed at the centre.
I watched Douglas Sirk’s ‘Imitation of Life’ last night. I can only describe it as a soap opera on a very grand scale. Watch the highs, lows, and dizzyingly quick relationships form and crumble. Blink and you’ll miss the character development but there is no missing the emotional tension that hangs in the air. Rarely do you see emotions (some non sensical it must be said) given so much screen time. In such a way this film is somewhat unique and stands apart - for this reason there is merit in the melodrama. That doesn’t mean you’ll enjoy it though.
X-Men first class is the new member of the X-men franchise and another studio jumping on the superhero origin band wagon which began with Batman begins. I was looking forward to this one I love comic book movies (not really so big on comic books though), and I’ve liked this origin trend, most recently in 2009 when I loved that JJ Abrams Star Trek Movie. High expectations so.
X-men has been going since 1963, so there’s a huge wealth of Story behind all of these characters. Like a long running TV show or a medieval saga the characters are developed and exist on there own and most people going to the movie will know a decent amount about them (even if only from the first three movies). So Matty Vaughan and Rossy’s wife (the team behind Stardust and Kick Ass) have their work cut out for them. People know the end result of the big plot points, more people will know that Hank McCoy turns into an angry blue Furby then that the Bay of Pigs even happened (the historical context the movie is set in). The trick they have to pull is tapping into the shared knowledge and still satisfying the audience. So when something happens that you already knew was going to happen you enjoy the build up and get kind of cathartic release, as opposed to just releasing a groan. This is what Star Trek accomplished with a clever narrative trick (what else did you expect from JJ) but X-men accomplishes with good old-fashioned story telling, apt for a movie set mostly in 1961.
Vaughan certainly brings a distinctive visual style to the proceedings with cameras almost constantly zooming in, slowly pulling focus and dolly zooming to bring out the tenser moments, he even finds a way to jazz up the inevitable training montage to take it away fro Team america territory. The story as well finds the balance between explaining the characters histories and actually fitting in a storyline (you can see they are cramming alot in as there is a lot of quick cutting and scenes ending a little abruptly but hey the film only runs 110mins and never really drops pace) and the acting is almost uniformly very good. James McAvoy is maybe a touch camp but he’s playing Patrick Stewart playing professor X so I’m fine with that. I would have spent most of this review lauding Micheel Fassbenders performance if it wasn’t let down by the Irish accent that I could hear more and more throughout the movie, maybe Irish people will just notice it more and it’s probably a quibble but it did distract me. Magneto is a jewish german who lived in America and was played but Sir Ian McKellan so I’m not sure where the Killarney brogue comes into it. Kevin Bacon also does well bringing his proto-magneto villian, Shaw, to the screen and even fares admirably well with the German he has to speak (I may not have been in the right frame of mind to Judge K-Bake here as I spent the whole previous day playing http://oracleofbacon.org and trying to get higher than 3 degrees… it’s nearly impossible and his mocking face stares out at you with each new failure!).
I think what struck me most is that Magneto and Charles Xavier are great characters with great Pathos and a depth to their history. Both flawed, these are two men who have their own demons and find themselves on the opposite sides of an idealogical line. Up there with the great literary characters they are deserving of a good movie in their own right and this is that movie. It may be my favorite in the X-men series so far (although that’s sort of a dubious honur considering X-men 2, 3 and Wolverine) What was with that Satan mutant though? 4 Stars.
It was originally supposed to be called Superman vs. Superman. But the makers of Kramer vs. Kramer put a stop to that. So they went for the title Superman III.
Richard Pryor plays a guy who in the opening scenes of the movie is jobless until he sees an ad for computer programming. A few minutes later he is a genius computer programmer who can write programs that position satellites in space and cut off oil all around the world.
Along the way Superman suffers a bit of a split personality crisis lurching from good all American hero to devil may care drunk layabout culminating in him being separated in two. In the red corner we have Clark Kent, in the black evil corner: bad Superman. The film climaxes with a supercomputer being built that can seek out people’s weaknesses while the computer itself has no weakness. It can’t be unplugged or shut down. It even turns humans into evil robots to do its bidding.
Overall it looks old and dated but it’s still an ok movie; nowhere near as good as the first one or second one but nowhere near as bad as Superman IV either. And that has to be a good thing.
‘Another head fuck from Aronofsky’ said the guy behind me in the cinema as the credits began to roll on this fine, twisted film. The action centres throughout on the brilliant Natalie Portman as she rollicks through the psychological pressures of trying to make it in the cruel world of ballet. The choreography of the opening scene sets the tone for the ensuing action and we are soon swept into the high reaches of an otherwise obscure art form. It is for me Aronofsky’s most accomplished film yet in almost every sense. It takes the subtleness of The Wrestler’s finest moments and couples them with the ferocity of Requiem for a Dream’s darker scenes.
Vincent Cassel is excellent as the overbearing ballet director and he pushes Portman to the edge both physically and mentally. It is in this drawing of mental duress and burgeoning insanity that makes Black Swan the lasting, brooding force that it is. A fine support cast includes the bubbly Mila Kunis and the pitiful Winona Ryder but it is Portman in the lead that truly shines. A class act and well worth the head fuck.
This documentary opens with the the rousing sound of Richard Hawley intoning that “tonight the streets are ours” then it cuts to a scene with the famous artist Banksy sitting on a seat with his voice distorted and in silhouette explaining that “this is the story of when someone tried to make a film about me”. What follows is the story of Thierry Guetta who has been hanging out with and filming street artists in the U.S (and beyond) as they go about their night work of transforming a blank wall into something else: their night and in some cases day-work. There is lots of good raw footage of street artists, in the dead of night on top of buildings on street corners caught in the act as it were. The first half of this documentary is concerned with Thierry Guetta and the ever expanding room full of tapes he has filmed of other street artists and his quest to meet Banksy.
The second half is concerned with Thierry meeting Banksy and filming some of his work all of which is audacious and daring. It is also concerned with Thierry actually making a documentary out of all of those tapes which Banksy eventually sees and describes as flicking through a box with 900 channels. Its not good, so Banksy decides to see if he can have a go at making a documentary out of the footage and tells Thierry (who has by now started making street art himself) to “go home, make some art, have a show and get some bottles of wine in”. Ultimately, this becomes a story about a guy who was making a film about an artist actually becoming an artist himself overnight. I have read some articles where it is claimed that this is all an elaborate hoax perpetrated by Banksy and his unseen band of merry men to show the art world for what it is, to make a statement. Whether it is a documentary or a mocumentary, it is compelling and Banksy (albeit with a digitally distorted voice) displays a hitherto unseen talent for one liners so dry you could break them in half by sneezing in their general direction and that deserves to be seen by a lot of people.
From the very outset, this films extreme use of language and violence thinly veils what is at heart a highly stylised modern day western. But while George Roy Hill developed his Butch and Sundance as two very likeable rogues on the run, Christopher McQuarrie on the other hand tries to push the limits of character likability and instills his Parker and Longbaugh (the real names of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) with a certain menace and nasty charm.
McQuarrie, the man responsible for the Oscar winning screenplay of The Usual Suspects confidently sits into the director’s chair this time for his debut, and to date only, feature. The action is developed around two low-life, violent, criminal drifters Parker (Phillippe stretching himself to be seen as a bad-ass) and Longbaugh (Del Toro following the less is more thoughts on dialogue) as they kidnap a young, heavily pregnant woman (Juliette Lewis) from a doctor’s office and demand a ransom of 1 million dollars for her release. What they don’t realise is that the man they attempt to extort the money from is himself a ruthless gangster who would prefer to use his own methods in order to secure the woman’s release.
It could be argued that, perhaps, McQuarrie tries to involve too many secondary characters and the pace suffers slightly between the action set pieces. However with an unflinching and very memorable opening sequence and a dry wit throughout, this film ages extremely well (certainly better than the Usual Suspects) and while it may not have been a box office success on its release it certainly deserves a second, closer viewing.
Sofia Coppola is back with her 4th feature film as writer and director. The story follows a hugely successful actor Johnny Marco (played by Stephen Dorff) as he mopes around the Chateau Marmont and gets to know his daughter Cleo (Elle Fanning) after not being in her life for a number of years.
The pace is extremely slow, with single shots extending for minutes at a time without a cut. While this may be used to convey the aimlessness or boredom of the lead character it does nothing but deaden the audience to a point where it is nearly impossible to care for anybody on screen. Possibly the worst of this would be the ice skating sequence. If you are still awake/watching/interested after that it will be some feat.
The extremely weak story manages to finally come to an expected ambiguous ending not unlike Coppola’s earlier and far superior ‘Lost in Translation’
A dull, slow-moving and pointless study of a character that nobody should care about in the first place.
The King’s Speech opens with Colin Firth nervously getting ready for a public address in Wembley Stadium. Pre-World War Two England is evoked through mist and fog to create a dreamlike sensation of a time gone by. Firth playing ‘Bertie’ son to King George V takes to the podium and delivers a ghastly speech punctuated by what can only be described as a speech impediment so bad he can barely speak. Cue Helena Bonham Carter in concerned wife mode touching her upper lip. She plays the Queen Mother in such a way as to avoid hamming up this familiar figure – in fact it is quite easy to forget as the film progresses that she is mother to the reigning Queen.
I have to say the English Royal family has never been my specialist topic when it comes to History and I did enjoy finding out a little more about their whys and wherefores. Although at times this did feel a little like watching an ITV special on ‘The Windsors’ complete with dramatic reconstruction. What rings true and clear is that England loves its Royal family and this film is brimming with pride, awe and reverence for an aristocracy that favoured appeasement for Germany’s advances in the Second World War. How easily history can be moulded. This factual foot note aside the film contains some excellent performances. Geoffrey Rush plays the speech therapist Lionel Logue (an Australian who opens up the future King to unconventional methods of speech therapy), Guy Pearce plays Firth’s older brother King Edward (I forget if it’s the III or IV, it could even be II, it really is of no consequence) – the roguish heir to the throne who debunks with his American mistress much to the distress of the media savvy Royals. Bertie or as we all come to know him, King George VI, takes to the throne. He is left with the admirable (one could almost say kingly) task of leading England into war. The speech of the title refers to his address to the nation on England’s declaring war.
It would seem that English Royals have had a way with media scandal down through the years. It is this very human aspect that appeals to the loyal masses – they see their monarchy undergoing personal distress and calamity and think – ‘that’s just like me you know’ except we are not Kings or Queens and never will be. Why? No real reason at all. A strange paradox of emotions really and the central reason that although this film is well made, acted with real integrity and possessing fine drama I couldn’t help but reserve myself from truly enjoying it. And the Oscar for the best actor in a motion picture goes to…
Take your Japanese plot line and transport to somewhere in Mexico. Bring your bad guy into the film and bring to the boil. Add Yul Brynner and the remaining 6 to the pot and simmer for two hours. Hmmm that’s one tasty western
The Nightmare Before Christmas: Seasonally Original.
‘There’s children throwing snowballs / instead of throwing heads / they’re busy building toys / and absolutely no one’s dead’ sings Jack Skellington, the pumpkin king of Halloween Town who, after having gone for a walk in the forest, accidentally stumbled into Christmas Town.
Masterfully directed by Henry Selick, The Nightmare Before Christmas is a journey into the vividly gothic imagination of Tim Burton (producer here) accompanied by very memorable songs and a suitably apt musical score from long-time Burton collaborator Danny Elfman.
The story introduces us to Jack Skellington, the unofficial leader of Halloween Town who has become tired and bored with his annual task of planning a bigger and better Halloween than the one before. However he is invigorated with a new lease of life upon his discovery of Christmas Town: a joyful, happy place, full of laughter, with snow, glitter, and colourful lights everywhere. Jack is mesmerised by the surreal atmosphere. He races back to Halloween Town anxious to tell all of his findings who cannot fully comprehend the concept. Jack then decides to kidnap Santa Claus and organise Christmas himself with the help of all the frightful inhabitants of Halloween Town. Needless to say the ghouls and ghosts do not get the understanding of Christmas quite right.
Of course the actual plot, while well developed and satisfactory in itself, is not entirely that important to the proceedings as the real experience comes from the beautifully designed stop motion animation, the cleverly bizarre characters (look out for the two faced city mayor), the haunting backdrops and the accompanying songs. The film is not necessarily a children’s movie, with some scary images and genuinely menacing characters such as the Oggie Boogie, but neither does it ever try to leave the childish world in which it belongs and where all these fantastic places and original characters are completely believable. And while the world might not be exactly a nightmare it certainly feels like a fantastic dream!
So here we are; the first half of the seventh part of the global phenomenon that is Harry Potter. In writing this review, I’m going to state that I assume you’ve read the novels or watched all of the movies up to this installment. If not, then stop reading. Stopicus Readicus Totallus. The film-makers have thrown no frickin’ bone to people coming to this movie series for the first time. It’s also slightly ridiculous that this is half a movie. If you don’t know the world of Harry Potter, I can’t imagine how you can find enjoyment watching this movie. Also, it has no resolution! It’s half a movie! Trying to grasp the plot with no knowledge of the Potter world would be like trying to find artistic credibility in a Brett Ratner flick (Hackius Ratnerum).
I gotta say enjoyed this movie. I confess to be a 27 year old male who has read all Harry Potter books several times (hey, they’re easy to read), so I am versed in the Potter world, and when looking at the movie I can see what plot points were left out, and what does and doesn’t work. For me, following the movie becomes a comparison between my imagination, and how close the film-makers came in matching my vision. I assume that it’s a similar experience for most people out there. However, this does not mean they’re not enjoyable. Indeed, I think the experience of watching a Harry Potter movie is as more about familiarity, as it is about the story. Watching this is like watching Coronation St, but with magic. You just want to see what happens.
Death Hallows was directed by David Yates. He hadn’t done much before he got the job of bringing Potters 5-7 to the big screen. However, he’s crafted an enjoyable movie from a very established world. The first two movies are pretty terrible. They’re long, boring, inept, badIy acted and seem like a collection of images from the books, rather than trying to craft a story. The best has to be the 3rd one, Prisoner of Azkaban, directed by Alfonso Cuaron. He was the first directors to “get” the source material and embued a sense of the magic into the film. Subsequent directors, Mike Newell and Yates have built on that wonder. Also, as the movies have gone on, they have gotten “darker”, if I was to quote every single publication on the movie’s progression. And indeed this is true, as witnessed by a creepy scene at the start as a woman hangs upside down and pleads to be saved before she is killed and eaten by a giant snake. It’s a kid’s movie, folks. The muted colours, more obscene deaths and greater body count are how Yates has made his movie darker.
Overall, go see it. It’s good. But if you don’t know anything about Harry Potter, don’t go. You’ll find it annoying, as well as the people you keep asking what’s happening. Roll on the next one, I say. It better be epic. But if it isn’t, I’m not worried. It’ll be remade in four years time, with Andrew Garfield in the title role.
Sometimes, a film manages to its way into the collective cultural consciousness and despite only being reasonably received on release. Obviously, as any film with the 1950s star power of Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr would, An Affair To Remember had some success at the box office, but remarkably for a film that was later voted the fifth greatest romantic film of the 20th Century by the AFI, the Academy didn’t even think it was in the top five films released in 1957. (For the record, some little known arthouse flick about a Bridge over the River Kwai took the prize)
It is actually a remake of Leo McCarey’s own 1939, replaying the previous film almost word-for-word and scene-for-scene (watch the original for free at www.archive.org/details/LoveAffair). At just under two hours, it is too long to be a standard studio picture. The central premise is that two people are cheating on their fiancees- hardly the kind of morals acceptable to 1950s America. And worst of all, pretty much nothing happens for the first 90 minutes- even the tagline refers to something which happens three quarters of the way through the film.
There really was no way it could work. Except that it did. And it still does.
This may be the definition what critics love to call a “timeless classic”. It makes no difference what decade it was made in, what decade it is set in or what decade it is being watched in. It is simply a character study of two people falling in love, despite their best intentions, and how that changes them and their lives.
It is everything a Michael Bay film isn’t- no explosions, no car chases, no Megan Fox. And yet it is gripping and emotional and uplifting.
Maybe this is how I’d feel about the Notebook if it had Cary Grant in it?
This movie has the feel good factor. The premise is simple in Toy Story: toys come to life when people aren’t around and the drama unfolds therein. We’ve all seen Toy Story 1 or as I like to think of it Pixar 1 – a fantastic movie with a great plot and a truly groundbreaking animation style. Toy Story 3 picks up this mantle and moves it along at great pace. All the original characters, or rather Toys, are back, notably Woody voiced by Tom Hanks and Buzz Lightyear voiced by Tim Allen. As the credits roll and the action kicks in you know you are about to watch a fine movie.
The opening of Toy Story 3 is monumental. The action takes place in a John Ford, wild west landscape where a careering locomotive is being defended by Woody in full on cowboy mode. As Woody struggles against Mr Potato-head Buzz steps in and the action riots along. Soon we realize the opening folly is but childsplay in the head of Andy’s (the original owner of the Toys) sister Molly. She is playing with her older brothers toys and as we too get lost in the fantasy of the reversioned wild west Andy steps in and scolds his younger sibling for playing with “his toys”. This opening is so grand and beautifully realized that one feels sad to be ripped away from the action and brought back to the familiar confines of Andy’s bedroom. This feeling is soon dampened by the impending drama of Andy’s departure for college and the mere thought that Woody (and the rest) might be thrown out in the move. Skillfully the drama unfolds and as Woody prepares to join Andy at college the remaining toys are destined for donation to the Sunnyside centre for children or - at worst - a trip to the dump.
Thankfully Andy attempts to leave his toys in the attic but through a painful mistake his Mum sends the toys to the trash. Its left to our hero Woody to save the day. As bad luck has it they all make their way to Sunnyside and are met by a utopian vision of the place where toys go to retire. A toy called Lotso runs Sunnyside - a bear that likes to hug and that likes to lead - think Tommy Lee Jones meets King Care Bear. At first he tells them that they will be played with all day by kids that truly love them and that they will never become obsolete as they have become with Andy. This recalls the painful early moments in the film when the toys try to catch the attention of the now uninterested teenager Andy, they call his mobile and then hide the phone amongst themselves. Andy retrieves the ringing handset discarding the artifacts of his childhood as he searches. As the film progresses only Woody will stay truly loyal to Andy and this remains the film’s central lesson about companionship: loyalty is key.
At Sunnyside Lotso’s sinister nature begins to reveal itself and here Toy Story 3’s real power starts to reveal itself also. The film evokes true meaning in the inanimate and it does so by playing much more on the concept of ‘toys’ than I ever remember. Barbie (and Ken) feature in a humorous sub-plot that sees a love story emerge, a classic toy telephone becomes an old timer regaling stories, a scene in Sunnyside recalls cult prison movies accept here Buzz Lightyear is the prison warden and a monkey with miniature symbols is the ‘eye in the sky’. Whoever dreamt up the plot for Toy Story 3 was not only dreaming – they were thinking about attachment, belonging, loyalty and love. This film walks the tightrope between a kids movie and a movie we can all learn from. Watch it and you will learn lessons in friendship.
Six years ago NASA discovered the possibility of alien life within the solar system. A probe was launched to collect samples but crashed upon re-entry over Central America. Soon, new life forms began to appear and half of Mexico was quarantined as an INFECTED ZONE. Today, the American and Mexican military still struggle to contain the ‘Monsters’ as the residents struggle to survive.
Gareth Edwards the director/writer/cinematographer/effects creator etc, etc. has delivered a low key, low budget, sci-fi road movie built around a love story. This, the debut feature film, from Edwards is more like Cloverfield’s indie cousin than District 9 or War of the Worlds.
The plot follows a photo journalist Andrew Kaulder (well played as the reluctant lead by Scoot McNairy) as he is assigned the task of safely escorting Samantha Wynden the daughter of a newspaper mogul from the Central American side of the infected zone to the American side. While the two characters travel across the country we are presented with grand images of the aftermath of monster attacks and retaliatory military action and the relationship between the couple slowly grows. The opening third of the film is original and intriguing enough to build a sense of interest and expectation however this is never delivered upon. The film never steps off the sidelines. The script reveals itself as being weak and vacuous with some nonsense about the reproduction process of the monsters using trees. Not to mention the line about how strange it is to look at American from the outside in. At the same time we are given a few very brief glimpses of these monsters which look like giant floating squids with lights in their heads. Honestly, the creature design is derivative and hackneyed. When we do finally get a full view of the monsters it becomes very clear why the film makers kept them hidden for so long. They wouldn’t look out of place in 20,000 Leagues under the Sea (1954).
While the film looks good (monsters aside), the environment is believable and the two leads are certainly watchable there is always a sense that the story has just been throw together and it is all secondary to the images. The pace is extremely slow and the two leads never really seem in any danger which hampers the attempts to build tension. With scenes that would not look out of place in Apocalypse Now or The Road thrown in and left over alien sound effects from War of the Worlds the film sort of meanders to its extremely unsatisfactory conclusion. Ultimately Monsters has very little substance and even less well….monsters.
Here is a 2 hour long, dialogue heavy film, starring Justin Timberlake, about the founder of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg and the legal case over ownership of the website. No seriously that is the premise for the film. No seriously! The surprise however is that The Social Network turns out to be a gripping and intelligently told story about flawed human beings and their troubled relationships.
With a tight, fast paced script by Aaron Sorkin of West Wing fame and inventive camera shots (check out the boat race scenes) and clever editing by David Fincher (Seven, Fight Club) the credits are rolling before you realise it.
The core of the film is held together by the dynamic performances from the young leads. Jesse Eisenberg (Zombieland, Roger Dodger) delivers a fantastic performance in his portrayal of Zuckerberg. He plays him as an arrogant, genius like, socially inept child. Yet he adds enough depth and layers to the character that as an audience you can care for him. Andrew Garfield (the soon to be new Spider-man) who looks remarkably like a young Anthony Perkins plays Zuckerberg’s long suffering best friend and Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin and brings a real emotional depth not just to his character as the script allows but also to the film. While Justin Timberlake proves his performance in Alpha Dog was no accident and effortlessly portrays Sean Parker the founder of Napster as a manipulative, egomaniacal usurper.
It is the admiration, hatred, jealousy, deception, conspiracy and trickery between these three very strong individuals that is the driving force of the film. The story is not that of Facebook. This is a story of people. These people just happened to create Facebook too.
Whereas Zuckerberg claims the film is inaccurate and there almost certainly has been artistic licence taken with the story to make it more Hollywood, this does not in anyway take from the enjoyment and while it in no way defines a generation as many reviewers have lazily suggested it does however define ‘Damn Fine Film-making’.
The Social Network: Dislike. Meh, its like totally zeitgeistian
I’m starting this review with a confession: I went into this movie determined not to like it. Not because I dislike any of the talent involved; I’m a huge fan of the director David Fincher and I would like to personally like to thank writer Aaron Sorkin for his previous creation, The West Wing. And most of the actors are fine with me too, although Andrew Garfield is a bit too goggle-eyed to make me comfortable, and I do wonder how much longer Jesse Eisenberg can forge a career out of twitchy, geeky mannerisms. And Justin Timberlake excelled as the annoying, manipulative Sean Parker.
I didn’t want to like it because I know the story of Facebook already. And to put it as simply and as bluntly as I can: I just don’t care about the founding of Facebook. Many will know the story, or a version of it. A geek in Harvard creates Facebook and it’s ascension to the centre of our lives is rapid. Said geek is Mark Zuckerberg, played by Eisenberg. He’s a computer whiz with an inabilty to forge relationships. Eisenberg plays Zuckerberg on the right side of annoying, a sarcastic know-it-all but who just doesn’t seem to understand how much of an ass he is. This movie follows how Zuckerberg came to create it, how both direct and indirect influence came from the people and situations around him. How he fell under the spell of Sean Parker who manipulated him into betraying his best friend (Garfield). And it follows how they sued him. Oh, there’s a pair of good-looking twins who are involved too.
The movie is well made, and there are some great lines and fantastic scenes. But it’s all just gloss over a very shallow core, much like Zuckerberg himself. He’s all intelligence and no heart. This move should be much better. I should care more. Facebook is a part of the modern zeitgeist now. It’s so big that governments have floated ideas to treat it as a utility and therefore increase regulation to monitor it. It is our lives now. I can see the argument that this makes the movie more relevent but I don’t think so. If Facebook was an evil corporate entity (and I don’t think they are) then a thorough dissection of the inner machinations might make a good movie. But, the story is a bunch of rich 21 year olds who thought of something before anyone else did. I don’t want to take away from that achievement. Congratulations to them! I envy their billions. But, as a movie, there’s not enough forward momentum. Anyway, be sure to “like” this review on Facebook later.
If it’s Halloween, it must be Saw. It’s that time of the year again when the minds behind ‘the most successful horror movie series’ set out their usual trap to capture a few million dollars. And, in an original move, this year it’s “in eye-popping 3D!”. But at this stage, we have to ask ourselves, do we care?
Kevin Greutert, editor of the first 5 Saw films and the director of Saw VI is back in the director’s chair to (allegedly) bring to a close the Saw franchise. Unfortunately, the makers of Saw love money, so we will have to wait until this time next year to find out if that promise is kept.
The film opens and we are immediately thrown into one of Jigsaw’s (the mastermind behind the deadly traps of the series) games. This time however, the game is on display in a very public area and any willing passer-by can stop and watch, if they so wish. Are we going to get a commentary about humanity’s apathy towards violence or perhaps a statement on the loss of community within modern society? No. This is Saw 3D and all we will be given is bad dialogue, some run of the mill sound effects, and bits of CGI blood flying at the screen in *cough* glorious 3D. The opening game itself is not original and the tension doesn’t build to anything! The game is also unrelated to anything else in the film. It seems to be merely used as a teaser/trailer. But we already have our tickets, so just start the dang film! Life lesson moment: Be careful what you wish for.
All the usual characters return for this the final film and a few new ones are lured in like Sean Patrick Flanery’s ‘Bobby’. Sean Patrick who, you ask? Oh, come on, you remember that bloke from the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles? No? Well, don’t worry, this is no launch pad for career revival so it’s no loss that you don’t remember him. The acting is sub-par throughout while the script is self-referential and trite. Even the games/traps that have to be overcome by the unwilling participants have a very familiar feel to them.
What about the plot? I hear you scream. Well I’m pretty sure there was something about revenge and I think the storyline continued on from some other Saw films (the same writers and characters were involved anyway). It was the lack of originality that I was most disappointed with. The first Saw film was a sharp jolt to the cerebral cortex when it was released back in 2004, leaving audiences with the opinion that they’d seen something original. But that jolt has now become a dull, laborious thud over the past 6 years, leaving an audience bored and annoyed with what was lazily coughed up by the filmmakers. With a few very expected and obvious twists thrown in and a supposed grand reveal or some such nonsense I’m sure the producers were very smugly cashing their cheques when the credits rolled. I, on the other hand, was quietly putting on my coat and thinking about what trap Kevin Greutart could be put into to answer for Saw 3D. It’d be something to do with tedium, anyway.
The year is 1996, the director is Wes Craven and the film is ‘Scream’. This film opens with Drew Barrymore getting brutally murdered – not a bad way to start a movie by anyone’s reckoning. In all seriousness though this film is clever, slickly paced and full of the kind of teen laughs that make for box office gold; to date I would hazard a guess that this is by far the most successful movie that Courtney Cox, David Arquette, Skeet Ulrich and Neve Campbell have ever been in. In some ways then we can see this film in isolation as a great modern horror and also as a Hollywood career graveyard. Either way the time rolls by and the scares, jokes and film references come flying.
Written by Kevin ‘Dawson’s Creek’ Williamson the film sizzles with the kind of flippant dialogue that one would expect from the creator of annoying teen-speak. The film’s plot revolves around one Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) and her central involvement in the killing spree that grips a small town in California. The coincidental background to Presott’s character is that her mother was raped and killed by a killer some years before making the current climate of killing all the more tortuous for the wooden Campbell. As the film presents references galore that evoke great cult-popular horrors gone by one feels a little hard done by with Campbell as a heroine – she isn’t particularly gifted as an actress and she is sort of likeable but not enough to make her the film’s central weight. Instead we are given various sub characters who provide light entertainment and welcome relief from the frights and scares. In particular David Arquette plays a mild minded police officer worryingly well and Courtney Cox plays the ambitious hack who follows the killer’s tale with all the lust of a success hungry journalist. Think Lois Lane merged with April O’Neil of ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ fame. We also get the nerdish Jamie Kennedy who rifles plot references and horror film plot predictability jokes galore.
As the teen slashing and killing nears its inevitable climax – the young townsfolk decide it’s a good time to throw a big party. Thus emerges the setting for the film’s final crescendo. Craven has plenty going on at this stage in the action – Cox’s film crew sit outside the party observing the action inside on hidden cameras albeit with an 8 second time delay. Cue the ghostface killer on the hidden camera and then fear gripping as we realize that was 8 seconds ago. Where is he now? All the while the tension in ‘Scream’ is based around who the killer might be. Skeet Ulrich is fingered as the prime suspect given that everytime the killer disappears from the scene he appears. I won’t give anything away but he is the killer in tandem with his buddy played by Matthew ‘Who?’ Lillard.
‘Sream’ was the start of the horror craze that has kept cinema’s busy for the last 15 years. In fact ‘Scream 4’ will be heading our way over the next few months. I can’t wait to see it. They’ve managed to assemble the original cast and its going to be great. It must have been hard to get this bunch of Hollywood job seekers on board. Actually no it wasn’t and one Scream is enough for me.
The Detective: A friend of yours told me where to find you in the middle of the day.
The Driver: I don’t have any friends.
Walter Hill (The Warriors, 48 Hrs.) had written the 1972 action film The Getaway, which starred Steve McQueen, about a criminal and his wife on the run. When Hill wrote and directed The Driver (1978) he had McQueen in mind for the lead also however the part ended up going to Ryan O’Neal (Love Story, Paper Moon). O’Neal is not an actor you would immediately associate with 1970s’ cool and was not an obvious choice to play the laconic titular hero. But he delivered.
The Driver is the best getaway man in the business and has never been caught. He is completely focused upon the job and lives his life like a hermit with nobody close to him and no worldly possessions, stealing a car anytime he needs one. He has a strict set of rules and never works with people a second time unless they stick to his plan, 100%.
His nemesis is played by Bruce Dern (Coming Home), a conceited Detective who makes it his personal mission to catch the Driver, as a matter of pride. He is just as focused as the Driver and just as good at his job. It’s the thrill of the chase he wants, and is willing to do anything to get his prey.
While there are some notable secondary characters such as Isabelle Adjani as The Player or Joseph Walsh as Glasses it is the relationship between the two men that really pushes the film and once the Detective pays a visit to the Driver in his run down hotel the film steps up a gear. It is a game of cat and mouse between the two leads and one that leads to (via some excellent car chases) a very memorable, tension filled ending.
The film has gone on to become a cult classic and influenced many works including the Driver videogame, the Transporter films (with Jason Statham) and the BMW series of short films, one of which stars Clive Owen as a character imaginatively called ‘The Driver’. A similar influence can be seen in Michael Mann’s Heat with the relationship between the two professionals (De Niro and Pacino) on opposite sides of the law.
The Driver oozes 1970s’ charm from the no frills style of filming to the fast paced car chases across the city streets. Not one character is ever mentioned by name and the script is stripped down to a bare minimum. The Driver himself only utters 350 words throughout the entire film. It is simply Film Noir!
Word up, homies. I’m Ben Affleck, impossibily chiselled actor who is following in the footsteps of my hero, Clint Eastwood. I love to act, direct and remember my roots from Boston. Did I grow up in Boston? No, I didn’t. Berkeley, Cali, baby. Okay, so I remember my roots vicariously through my Bostonian parents. But it’s the same thing, aint it?
So anyway, I’m reviewing my own flick right now, The Town. And even to me, it’s a pretty average movie. I mean it’s good, don’t get me wrong. See, I tried to make this one gritty and real. I want the characters to pop, pop, pop right of the page. So I give you a few explosions, a few scenes with me being serious and all “Since when do we kill people?” to my boy, Renner. The Rennman plays my best buddy and is a psycho, so ya know, we go that in there. There’s this cool FBI agent trying to track us down and he’s all like “I’m gonna make sure you die in prison!”so it’s a face off type deal. Also, the ending’s not bad. Just go see it, okay? It’s like a dilutable Heat. And I’m Ben Affleck, do you need another reason?
It’s May, it’s Texas, it’s 1976 and it’s the last day of school man!
Richard Linklater, following up his indie hit ‘Slacker’, put together an ensemble cast of future Hollywood stars including Ben Affleck, Nicky Katt, Milla Jovovich, Cole Hauser, Parker Posey, Jason London and Matthew McConaughey, to name but a few, to portray his idealised versions of 1970s suburban American teenagers. And while we watch these characters (next year’s high school seniors and freshmen), over the course of one day, interact within the setting of Linklater’s own high school memories we realise not that much is actually happening.
We are introduced to two distinct groups of kids - next years freshmen led by Mitch Kramer (Wiley Wiggins) who are running in fear of the inevitable hazing they are going to receive from the new seniors that night and for the rest of the summer. While the seniors led by Randall ‘Pink’ Floyd (Jason London), in-between these hazings, are just trying to get drunk, laid, and high while avoiding all authority figures, if possible, especially the football coach who is insistent that all of the team members sign a pledge of sobriety for the coming year.
As the night progresses the film plays out as a typical coming of age story with the usual adventures and misadventures for the characters, involving cars, bowling balls, beers, pot, paint, paddles, parents and KISS, culminating with everybody at a huge keg-party in the woods. The scenes are accompanied by an eclectic 70s soundtrack featuring music from bands such as Aerosmith, Dr. John, the Runaways and ZZ Top.
While the plot does not try to stretch the imagination and the dialogue is ‘man’ heavy (the word is in fact used over 200 times), with Matthew McConaughey putting in a career best/scene stealing performance, the likable characters, the excellent soundtrack and the highly stylised look and feel to the film the time slips seamlessly by and as the end credits roll you find yourself wishing you could hang onto Linklater’s rose-tinted glasses, man!
The one that started them all, the film that put superheroes on the Hollywood map and spawned numerous spin-offs and rip-offs came to our screens in 1978. This piece of cinematic iconography has a special place in my film loving heart and I felt pangs of sadness as I watched the now deceased Christopher Reeve playing the role of boyhood dreams. This film belongs to Reeve and throughout he proves himself to be the best Superman the silver screen has offered. Okay he isn’t really up against tough opposition I mean Kirk Alyn gives him a good run for his money but I think Reeve just about edges it.
Richard Donner directs the blockbusting action with a heavy hand at times and Lois Lane, played by Margot Kidder, is not exactly up to Teri Hatcher standards but the film has enough magic and sparkle to keep you watching for well over two hours. It also helps that Gene Hackman is on hand as the dastardly Lex Luthor – he concocts an exceptionally evil and farfetched plan to blow up the San Andreas Fault (using missiles of course) thus causing most of California to fall into the sea. Not satisfied with killing millions of people he also hopes to make a lot of money by buying up the desert land that will in fact become the new Californian coastline. Evil genius indeed – one enjoyable scene shows him mapping out ‘Costa del Lex’. Fear not though as Superman saves the day by flying into the Earth’s core and holding the tectonic plates together. Now that’s what I call strength – can you imagine Batman doing that? Through all this evil madness and comic plotlines Hackman somehow shines. He is every bit the villain to Superman’s hero. Of course it wouldn’t be Superman without the bumbling alter ego of Clark Kent and Reeve does an impressive job at disguising himself in glasses while in Kent mode.
It is easy to forget how much this tale of superheroes and supervillains has entered into popular culture. Once that music kicks in, Lois Lane starts screaming and Kent heads for the nearest phone booth we sit back and enjoy the king of the superheroes kick ass. Sure we have the odd scare whenever Luthor waves a bit of Kryptonite around but this is an American movie and bad guys never win in American movies. That’s the live fast die young rule of American film.
Movies don’t come much bigger than ‘Superman: The Movie’ (the title says it all really). Like Spiderman in recent years, Superman was a sleeping giant of a franchise just waiting to be woken up (and wake it did – along with a whole host of sleeping heroes and villains). Recently we had the ‘Superman Returns’ movie starring Brandon Routh as Reeve and Kevin Spacey as Hackman. I confess to not having seen that film but I’m pretty sure Superman kicks Luthor’s ass.
For illustrative purposes, this review is going to be done in the style of Strictly Come Dancing/Film 2011 presenter Claudia Winkleman.
In the opening scene of this film, Joaquin Phoenix (JP to his friends, like me and Kate Moss) sports a beard that makes him look more like Zach Galifianakis than the heartthrob who stole our hearts in Two Lovers.
And on the fleeting occasions when we do get to see Casey Affleck, the future-style-icon/brother-in-law who also directs, it is just another reminder of how JP’s look completely fails to even reach the levels of hobo-chic to which he so clearly aspires.
SHUT UP CLAUDIA!
An entire review done in character like this would probably have a couple of laughs, maybe some good social commentary but ultimately, if you try and stretch one joke to 106 minutes, it’s going to get terribly boring.
OK, we get it! Joaquin Phoenix is pretending that he has gone crazy, given up acting and is trying to become a really bad rapper. Of course there are some funny moments, but none even come close to being as good as his performance on the David Letterman show (see link above).
But there is the key word in this “film”: performance. Never before has an actor deserved so much critical acclaim for a “film” so bad. The “film” has little to no real narrative structure, no character development, nothing that really makes it more than a performance piece. The incredible thing is that Phoenix almost makes it watchable and he should genuinely be applauded for the depths he went to.
Various academics are eventually going to argue that this was a key moment in media studies, and the relationship between celebrities and public perception of them etc etc. Which is wonderful for them, but not a whole lot of consolation for anyone who spends ten euro paying to spend almost two hours watching Phoenix doing the same thing over and over again.
The new film from director John Carney, Zonad, is set in the small village of Ballymoran, a rural community which instead of being built out of bricks and mortar is hewn from the building materials of pastiche and reference, and is situated anywhere in Ireland (each villager seems to have an accent from a different region of the country). It’s a dusty hamlet more vilagey than most. (A meta village perhaps?) and into it’s simple life comes a mysterious visitor in a ridiculous costume, Simon Delaney in red spandex, who purports to be from Outer Space. Hilarity ensues. Sort of.
I always liked John Carney. Bachelors walk first season is one of the best comedies RTE has ever been a part of, Once shows what you can do with not very much, and anyone who responds to praise from Steven Spielberg by calling him “just a man with a beard” is alright with me. So i really wanted Zonad to be good. This may have given me an expectations problem but even so I still don’t think it delivers. While a short running time of 82 mins makes it an easy watch the narrative is so slight even that seems streched even with the two lame musical interludes. Events occur, low-brow jokes are made, complications arise and are unsatisfactorily resolved. The end.
While there are some laughs in the film’s crass humour misses the mark (embarrassingly) as often as it hits it. Simon Delaney occasionally sparkles playing the sort of lazy boozer we’ve come to love him for but when anything deeper is required (this doesn’t happen very often) the character falls flat, and while there are some great supporting turns, Don Wycherley’s corrupt guard, Geoff Minogues oblivious father and Janice Byrnes sexy schoolgirl they can’t hide the thinness of the plot, which plays more like a sketch show at times than a movie. The most disappointing thing for me however is lack of an interesting visual style. My favorite thing about John Carney is the hand-held, low budget cinematography which showed us a the Dublin we always wanted to live in in Bachelors Walk and Once. It’s true to say that this isn’t really that type of movie and a 50s village pastiche setting doesn’t really lend itself to guerrilla film-making but I still can’t help missing it. After Once he basically had the world (the IFB at least) at his feet and could have made almost anything. Instead he made Zonad.
Michael Douglas looks old in this movie. The original ‘Street’ came out in the Eighties when we are all reading ‘The Bonfire of the Vanities’ and what not. I myself was barely cognizant and Oliver Stone came along. He introduced the concept of trading and superwankers like Gordon Gekko. Its as if the years have taught Stone, Douglas and the financial world the evils of capitalism. It really is corrupt and what matters most in life is not money or wealth – it is time.
This film is comfortably over two hours long. The sub prime, sorry I mean sub plot concerns the romantic will they won’t they of Shia Laboeuf and Carey Mulligan (aka Gekko’s daughter). Douglas swaggers into this film from time to time and he mops up a turgid plot rather well. You sometimes root for him and sometimes hate him. What is the happy ending in this film? It poses so many questions and gives so few answers I think coming away from this film one is entitled to feel a little perplexed. Perhaps lacking in the calmness needed for sleep; when one speaks of moral hazard blame Oliver Stone.
A concept movie, by definition has very few endings. When you have your main protagonist buried in a box, there are only two outcomes. One, he could survive (yay!). Two, he could die (sniff). Ah, but you say, it’s the way you find out what happens that makes the movie, incident can help replace plot. Viewed through this lens, Buried is a fantastic achievement. It is relentless. The camera never moves outside the box. The lighting is entirely from natural light sources within the box, his phone and his zippo lighter. The actor can barely move as he has no where to move to. Given these parameters, you would expect audience interest to flag. It doesn’t.
Ryan Reynolds plays Paul Conroy, a truck driver on contract in Iraq for a large Corporation, who awakens to find himself buried in a coffin. We learn that when he was ambushed he was transporting kitchen supplies to a remote region of Iraq, so considers himself a positive American influence. His emotional journey is limited considering its predictability. Panic, fear, anger, pain, regret are all checked off in due course. However, the choice of actor subverts this expectation as Reynolds is best known for a plethora of innane romantic comedies. He is an actor who imbues a sense of “everything will be okay, I’m Ryan Reynolds”; a likeable arrogance in his own self belief.
I like a movie to be an experience, either good or bad. Something to debate, analyse, defend. A recently reviewed movie on this site was “Cemetery Junction”, a movie that created absolutely no emotion within me, and I had no urge to discuss it afterwards, except to discuss that it was a monument to pointlessness. Buried is definitely an experience, the heightened sense of claustrophobia coming through the screen to suffocate the audience. Who needs 3D when story-telling is this good? [PH]
The Limey. Yeah The Limey. Always wanted to watch it, never did. I remember standing in a movie shop years ago, looking at the box thinking that looks cool. But I never watched it. Eventually the moment arrived and turns out it was worth waiting for. The action follows Wilson (Terence Stamp – who is The Limey by the way) as he travels to Los Angeles to ascertain the whys and wherefores of his daughter’s death. This already difficult task is made all the more difficult by the fact that Wilson is a hardnosed criminal from England. A fish out of water. We see Stamp for the first time with ‘The Seeker’ by The Who playing in our ears. It is a classic Hollywood sunburst opening from Soderbergh and one feels as if this film is going to deliver. And deliver it does. The opening crescendo (Stamp jets into LA) is cut short by a very clever hard cut on The Seeker that hints at the ensuing quality this film possesses.
The Limey has style, acres of the stuff. With Soderbergh’s light brush stroke and the inclusion of an ageless Peter Fonda I felt as if I was watching a forgotten gem from the 1970s. The editing is first rate and really delivers the story in an usual but very telling way. Instead of flash backs the film offers flash forward moments. For example we see characters mid scene and then we cut back to see them arriving, dialogue is heard and then spoken. This is unsettling at first but soon becomes a very enjoyable way of seeing events unfold, refold and fold. As we learn more of the events surrounding Wilson’s daughter’s death, Fonda (a shady music producer) emerges as the root cause. Cue a building climax that sees Stamp ultimately confront Fonda on the waters of Big Sur’s Pacific coastline. Along the way Stamp enjoys a number of excellent scenes that see him playing on his fish out of water persona. He brings a cockney English sneer to The Limey and takes LA and its shallow morals for a much needed airing. I haven’t seen Stamp in much but I have to say I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a performance as much as his portrayal of Wilson in this film. His standout moment has to be the utterly outrageous delivery of ‘’Tell them I’m coming, tell them I’m fucking coming’’. I wouldn’t be surprised if The Limey goes down as a cult classic in the long run – I don’t think we were ready for Soderbergh’s vision in 1999. It took me 11 years but The Limey has arrived. Seems somehow fitting but I’m not sure why.