Archive for the ‘Film’ Category

Wolf of Wall Street

January 31, 2014

I came out of the cinema thinking that this film was great, having really enjoyed watching it. However upon writing this post I have started to feel less excited by it. Maybe I shouldn’t over analyse it so much but anyway here are my thoughts.

First off I think this is the first Scorsese movie that I’ve enjoyed in a long time, this is him being back on form. Also this is my favorite De Caprio film and probably the best of the partnership between the actor and director.

However the film has it’s problems. Its too long, I can think of 4 scenes that could have been cut as they added nothing to the story, strangely they just popped into my head with not much thought required, a rarity for me.

However the real major problem is that at it’s core the movie had no moral center. Was it an attack on the American Dream? What about all the victims of the Wolf? They are painted as dumb schmucks who should have known better. Ultimately the wolf was breaking the law yet it’s all played as fun with zero repercussions outside his circle. Also the female characters all come off as cyphers and eye candy and not much else. Did his wife really not care about all the drugs they were taking? She must have known about all the whores yet she put up with it, why?

The film takes the Wolf’s point of view whole heartedly with no genuine criticism of it and I find that a flaw. It ends up being a film full of carnality which, don’t get me wrong, was really fun to watch but that’s all it ends up being.

Maybe Scorsese planned it like that. It was a window into just how crazy they were and we as a society let them get away with it. If this is the case then that’s what makes the ending even harder to take. The real life Wolf makes a cameo appearance suggesting an almost endorsement of the behavior in the movie.

2014 Year of the sci-fi movie?

December 30, 2013

This will no doubt be the final blog of this year and I thought I’d end with a look at some of the big sci-fi movies coming out next year. I’m really excited by these movies as they all look really good and seem to be done with some real thought behind them.

Edge of Tomorrow

OK, it’s a Tom Cruise movie but I’ve always had a soft spot for his Sci-Fi stuff. I actually liked Oblivion but then I had really low expectations for it.

Jupiter Ascending

This seems like a return to form from the Wachowski brothers. Cloud Atlas although it looked great seemed like a bit of a disappointment. On the plus side this does have Mila Kunis. I could watch her in anything.

Transcendence

Wally Pfister’s debut. This could go either way, he’s a great DP but can he direct? Also as a Software Engineer. I have yet to see a film successfully capture the computer science in all it’s glory.

Interstellar

OK, the trailer looks like an advert for a car however it’s Christopher Nolan. His moves always make for extreme opinions from my friends they either liked it or hated it. This no doubt will cause similar tensions.

Dark Knight Rises

October 27, 2013

I recently got the excellent Ultimate Dark Knight Trilogy Box set. It’s well worth the money, all the discs are presented in a really beautiful book, and I love the miniature versions of all the bat vehicles. However I’m not here to talk about the box set itself, I’d like instead to discuss the final movie from the trilogy which divided people.  Let me say up front that I loved it, I’d even go so far as to say,  controversially, that I preferred it to the second one which everyone seems to love and which I personally found to leave me cold. On a minor point the first one for me remains closest to my heart as it changed the game when it comes to superhero movies and managed to wipe away the taste of Schumacher’s debacles so completely.

So why do I think people are wrong to label The Dark Knight Rises as the weakest of the three? One of the major complaints was that it was too unrealistic, “one punch back surgery”, Gotham city under siege for 5 months, etc, etc. For me this is all just pure comic book and I really love it. Lets just take a step back and remember that the central premise of these films is of a guy so angry at his parents death that he decides to dress up as a bat to fight criminals….a bat? Let me say that again A BAT!!!

A lot of people(fanboys) hated that at the start of the movie there was no Batman and Bruce was a broken man. For me that was fine it made sense as Gotham was at peace with the criminals and itself ( however false that peace ) and thus there was no need for the Batman. Thematically I liked the way the movie ended it felt complete and I almost shed a tear at the inception-esque dreamlike quality to the end scene of Alfred sitting in that cafe and seeing Bruce and Selina.  Talking about Selina, the first time I saw Rises I was not too sure about Anne Hathaway’s performance but on a second viewing I actually thought she was brilliant, her acting is really strong here and her character arc is well done, I like the way she finds her soul beneath that hard exterior. Again a lot of fanboys were annoyed that she shoots Bane, I put it bluntly they are being sexist. It made perfect sense and she had one of the best lines following it. All the acting is brilliant and well cast.

I’m not saying that the film is a masterpiece, none of the trilogy are, they are however very well made from a sophisticated director and the films are about as intelligent as a superhero movie can get.  Even though I loved the Avengers movie just watching this Trilogy you realise that Nolan is a far better director then Joss Whedon.

And finally Bane’s voice does not get on my nerves and I can understand everything that he says.

 

 

Pacific Rim

July 14, 2013

My feelings on Pacific Rim are really mixed. The special effects were amazing, there was a lot of detail in them and you could tell that Del Toro had put a lot of his heart into them. I also really liked the fight scenes with giant robots and giant monster, Michael Bay this is how its done properly, take some notes!

However for me it had some issues which ultimately out weighed all this good stuff. These issues were mostly related to the script and casting decisions. The blonde lead whose name I forget is himself totally forgettable. I wish they’d gone for a more interesting casting choice here. I’ve read a load of stuff online about how people got confused and thought he was the actor who played the lead in Tron Legacy. He’s too off the shelf bland and I think the audience have become sophisticated enough to realise this. Also Ron Perlman who is amazing is really wasted as the crime boss. He should have been playing a grizzled ex-jaeger pilot type character. Why does every Hollywood film put a white guy in as the head of a Chinese criminal gang?

However the main issue I have with this movie is the script, it’s full of cliches ranging from the comedy scientists to the antagonism between the lead and the Australian pilot. By the way they looked very similar to one another too! There was also a lot of lazy characterisations relying on the stereotypes to flesh out the characters, the Russian and Chinese Jaeger for example.

I will admit that I did like Idris Elba and the female lead, they put some heart into the movie which was much needed.

Overall though I still would recommend that you see this in the cinema just because of the sheer spectacle of it all and for me it was miles more entertaining then the turgid Man of Steel.

 

Man of Steal

June 18, 2013

I’m using a pun that my friend over at the big smoke made about the price of the cinema ticket to watch the new Superman movie as the title of this post because I feel it’s apt for this movie and not just the economic climate of cinema going which deserves its own post and more.

Anyway a ‘steal’ is how I’d this movie is, parts of it were really well done and other bits were just woeful. The opening Krypton sequences were by far the best bit of this whole movie. Nicely designed, well acted, yes that’s you Russell Crowe even when I could tell you were just collecting a pay check.

However for me there was just too much wrong with this film. The relationship between Lois and Clark lacked any real chemistry, there were a bit too many overt religious symbolisms for my liking. Don’t get me wrong I love symbolism just not the crass in your face kind from Snyder. Finally the end fight scene felt like an out take from a Transformers movie. Granted it was probably one rejected by Michael Bay because the action was too clear and easy to understand but still. The film for me lacked any sense of wonder, it was just too derivative of every other Blockbuster film in recent memory.

I’m going to rant a bit about the state of the Hollywood film industry now. Basically it’s in a mess. Spielberg and Lucus recently ranted about how the Blockbuster was killing the industry. They are right, but coming out of the mouths of the two guys most responsible for creating the current state just feels wrong in so many ways. Superman is a classic case in point. If rumours are true it made back it’s money even before it had been released! This was due to kickbacks from product placement. Even After Earth which has been universally panned has made a profit. Remember Green Lantern? I try not to but yes even that made money. Hollywood spends so much money on these movies that they have to make money even if they have to twist the arms of the general public by using all the marketing powers at hand and spend even more money in the process. *sigh* I’m done.

Addendum: This blog does a better job of explaining why Man of Steel left me cold.

What I Haz Been Up 2

November 4, 2012

OK it’s been a while since I’ve blogged and I’d like to apologise to all 2 of my regular readers. So here is a breakdown of what’s been happening.

1) Nexus 7 – I bought one of these babies and I love it! Its not perfect but as a result I’m reading a lot more now then ever, and I read a lot before. Its cheep yet delivers.

2) Saw loads of movies. killing them Softly was depressing but great. Looper didn’t really deliver for me. It was just too much for me to get over the bad physics of the time travel nonsense. Wreck it Ralph was fun and I don’t really have a bad thing to say about it.

3) DVD section. Hired Hand directed by Peter Fonda is beautiful. On my list of great westerns. Tucker and dale vs evil was brilliant and I’m surprised it wasn’t a bigger hit. Seen loads more, I think I might do a blog about Monte Hellman and Robert Aldrich.

4) Food. If you get a chance go to the Hawksmoor. Amazing steak place and the cocktails are pretty good too! I still have dreams about that starter. The Lobster Mac and Cheese is great but be warned it is very rich!

5) Bug – I when to see Adam Buxton’s show which was a special fat boy slim edition. Really funny and just reinforces my opinion that the Web is brilliant yet also nuts!

10 Reasons why Walter Hill is a Genius

April 22, 2012

In no particular order of importance:

  • Streets of Fire/Crossroads – Hill is known for being a rough and ready action man director, yet he made two of the best musicals from the eighties. OK strictly speaking these aren’t musicals but music does play a huge role in these two films.You can tell Hill understands musical genres and knows how to work with them from the MTV style rock opera of Streets to the old school blues of the south.
  • The Driver – Take a thriller an make it as pure and distilled as you can get it. I’ve spoken loads about this movie. I’m not going to say anymore.
  • Southern Comfort/Extreme Prejudice – Powers Boothe double bill. One an allegory about Vietnam the other a respectful nod to his mentor Peckinpah.
  • The Long Riders/Geronimo
  • Brewster’s Millions/48hrs/Red Heat – He can do commercial and be successful. Lets ignore the sequel to 48 hrs. If it wasn’t for Hill, Eddie Murphy would have no career. Think about it. There would be no Norbit or Nutty Professor! Oh Fuck!
  • Hard Times/Undisputed – Bronson and Coburn in a depression error movie about bare knuckle boxing. Then he does it again with Snipes and Rhames. OK there are better boxing movies out there but he can ‘do’ sport.
  • Johnny Handsome – A movie staring Mickey Rourke as a fucked up nobody seeking redemption for past deeds. Fuck the Wrestler.
  • Deadwood/Wild Bill – Without Wild Bill there would be no Deadwood. One of Hill’s most underrated movies, and it has the dude in it!
  • Alien – OK, so he may not have had much creative input on all the movies related to this franchise but he’s had a production credit on all of them and a story credit on Aliens and Alien 3. He’s also listed as a producer on the upcoming Prometheus
  • The Warriors – Come out to plaaaay. A movie that is in my top ten of all times. I can watch this again and again. Modern directors will always imitate but they will never surpass its brilliance.

Aguirre, Wrath of God

May 30, 2011

I’ve wanted to blog about this movie for some time now. Its a brilliant work and probably in my list of favourite movies of all time. From the opening shot as the soldiers work their way down the Andes into the rainforest to the Kurtz like journey down the Amazon river. Its a fantastic mediation on madness, colonialism and the pursuit of power. I’m not going to burden you with details of how mad the shoot was. Just google it and you will find all the craziness that went on. This is cinema at its most brilliant and lurid. It also shows just how much of a visionary director Herzog is. He’s interested in constructing images and sounds into a narrative that would leave most directors for dust.

Vin Diesel Vs The Rock Vs Thor Vs Hanna

May 8, 2011

I saw Fast Five recently as well as Thor and Hanna, they’ve all been release here in London around the same time and I thought I’d do my review of each by comparing them against one another. This makes no sense whatsoever but I thought why not? My favourite of the bunch was Fast Five, ok you are probably thinking I’ve lost the plot but here me out. Fast Five “does exactly what is says on the tin”, you go in expecting car chases, hot women and a suspension of all the laws of physics and the film delivers. Then on top of that you get Dwayne Johnson who actually pretty much walks away from it as a bad ass mofo. Its over the top, though very well directed by Justin Lin – the action pieces are great and look like some thought was put into it unlike Michael ‘lets just film another explosion in slow motion’ Bay. Thor and Hanna both left me feeling a bit cold. I didn’t really enjoy watching either of them as much as I did Fast. Don’t get me wrong they are both fine movies, with great directors behind the helm but they didn’t really deliver. I know people are raving about Thor but to me it was just a very average movie. Hanna likewise is very well shot and had moments that were great but again it just didn’t live up to the trailer and the middle bit just sagged for me. There was too much running around to Chemical Brothers soundtrack. If I was at home and channel hoping and came across Hanna I’d think I was watching a new Chemical Brothers music video. Also the director can’t do action…

Directing a good action sequence requires genuine talent and very few directors fall into this category. Even Justin Lin the director of Fast isn’t quite there yet but he is much closer to it then the directors of the other movies I’ve mentioned today.

Oh and one more thing. All the movies mentioned were FAR TOO LONG! A lot of reviews of films in general all have the same comments about length. It seems to me to be a real problem and it’s actually destroying the narrative flow of the movie. I would probably have liked Hanna a lot more if it had been much more tighter and I would have thought Fast was pure genius if it had shaved about 20 minutes off….well OK maybe not but definitely even more fun!

Murder By Contract

May 3, 2011

Wow! I mean Wow! This film is amazing. I would post the trailer from youtube but it gives too much away about the movie so avoid it, go straight to the source! The acting and the plot are terrific, and the camera work is outstanding – by the legendary Lucien Ballard ( see Sam Peckinpah ) All the more so considering that the movie was shot in seven days…seven days! No modern Hollywood director could produce anything so perfect in 7 days. It has a very different feel from your typical noir, a lot is probably down to the budget but I think that encouraged the producers to think outside the box, both in terms of plot and in the way scenes are composed and shot. As one critic comments “it doesn’t look restricted, it looks restrained.” Scorsese has stated that it had an influence on him – if I’d have known that I would have watched this movie much sooner.