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.

Satyajit Ray and Japanese Cinema

April 4, 2013

I just finished watching a whole bunch of samurai movies by such legendary filmmakers as Hideo Gosha and Akira Kurosawa. I also watched Pather Panchali by the legend that is Satyajit Ray. One striking thing is how close the films resemble each other. I’m not talking so much about plot and story but the presentation. Ray was heavily influenced by Japanese film and kabuki. It shows in his film and it is something of a masterpiece in film making (Pather Panchali was Ray’s directorial debut and it won loads of awards and is pretty much regarded as a work of genius). Not only are the use of shadows and light incredibly similar to the work of Japanese film makers but also the way the actors are directed and the shots are composed. I’ve heard that Kurosawa was a huge fan of Ray’s and they met once and had a long conversation about film making. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall for that.

Dumb Fun

February 5, 2013

Walter Hill’s new film Bullet to the Head does exactly what it says on the tin and I enjoyed it all the more for it. It’s just a good old fashioned dumb action movie. Walter Hill can still film a good action sequence, the axe fight at the end being a particular highlight.

One thing that I do find disappointing is how lots of film critics have given it mediocre reviews while something like The Hobbit gets slightly above average reviews. I guess genre movies are out of favour. I did not enjoy The Hobbit, it was overlong and well OK it was just too long for a story that doesn’t justify the running time. Bullet however was just great fun, it reminded me of some of the action movies from my youth and while it may not be ground breaking it was short, succinct and reasonably well made without trying to be some grand epic opus. Something which I find incredibly refreshing.

Sky Falling In

November 6, 2012

**Spoilers**

So I saw the new Bond film Skyfall yesterday and overall I thought it was OK. Its not amazing and it is flawed in many ways mostly this is due to the plotting.

First the good stuff. Some of the set pieces are brilliant, I liked the opening scene and the finale in the Highlands of Scotland. It was well shot and pretty much all the actors deliver. I particularly like Ralph Fiennes I’ve become a fan of his after In Bruges.

Now the bad is as I’ve mentioned this is mostly down to the plotting. I swear they stole the whole getting captured is part of the villains plan from ‘The Dark Knight’. Moreover I never once felt like any of the heroes were in real danger, i.e. it lacked tension which I think is down to the director Sam Mendes. Even though the Highland finale is fantastically staged it seemed like it was in the wrong film. A mash up of Assault on Precinct 13 with some Straw Dogs thrown in for good measure yet lacking the tension of either of those.¬† Though it did look brilliant ( some excellent cinematography from Roger Deakins ). Perhaps the biggest travesty in the film was all the ‘hacker’ stuff, as a software developer I just found it sooooo silly. Hacking using a graphical map thingy? Seriously? He’s using a polymorphic algorithm? Really? That makes it hard to hack into ?

Overall it’s worth a look but it doesn’t add anything new.

I’ve thought of a new drinking¬† game now too after watching Bond. You have to down a shot while a cobra is wrapped around your arm. No wait make that a redback spider!

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!

Prometheus Rewinded

June 9, 2012

Warning this blog contains massive spoilers. I found I couldn’t give my thoughts on Ridley Scott’s new film Prometheus without giving away some major plot points so please avoid if you plan to watch it.

Overall I enjoyed this film, the special effects and set design were amazing and there were enough smart ideas in the first half of it that made me think I was in for a treat. However it all fell apart for me and this was mostly down to the disintegration of the plot and a complete lack of well thought out characterisation. The film suffered from multiple personality syndrome. It starts of on an intriguing premise in man’s search for his beginnings then veers off toward sci-fi horror and finally ending in some weird sci-fi action flick with a bit of Alien shoehorned in at the end. Characters would make decisions that bordered on the surreal. Like the geologist who signs up for the mission then gets scared the moment he encounters anything weird, then gets lost, then dies horribly. What? Ditto the xenobiologist. I’ll just try and stroke the freaky looking worm thing because hey its not like we are on earth where there are animals that can actually kill you. They find a room containing weird alien shit and they just start touching it. They find that the air is breathable so they take their masks off? Umm shouldn’t the zenobiologist have done his job and mentioned bacteria? I will confess the self caesarian scene was brilliantly done and a highlight of the movie but it made no sense I mean, there was no one else on the ship to take her side? The scientist boyfriend gets drunk because he didn’t find the beings that created man, forgetting that he’s probably made THE scientific discovery. Would a scientist really do that?

The acting was not bad with Fassbender being a highlight, but lets be clear he’s no Ian Holm and I missed Harry Dean Stanton and John Hurt, towards the end he actually started to annoy me and underneath all those quirks you never get a sense of who he is.Theron and Rapace were actually pretty good. The remaining actors where just ciphers you never really got much of a feel for them so when the self sacrifice ending came you were just left saying “meh!”

Anyway it was a good movie even with my rant above, just not clearly thought out. People are saying its down to Lindeoff the script writer as he doesn’t understand movies since he came from the TV show Lost but still that’s no excuse other people should have realised.

Avengers Assemble!

May 1, 2012

Overall I thought this film was highly entertaining and the best superhero movie this year and it’s certainly going to give dark knight rises a run for its money. However in the interest of fun and laziness I’m going to give the good and the bad in point form. Let me stress that the bad are all minor quibbles and the good stuff far outweighs it…and I mean far! Spoilers beware!

Good

  1. Hulk – best depiction ever.
  2. Black Widow fight scenes.
  3. Joss Whedon – Really brought something fresh and new to the genre
  4. The jokes – see Joss Whedon
  5. Tom Hiddleton – made a great villain

Bad

  1. Avengers Assemble! – WTF! Why didn’t they just call it The Avengers. Seriously I mean we all know its The Avengers! What you think Steed is going to make an appearance in a Bowler hat?
  2. Hawkeye – He was really underwritten and didn’t have much to do. Shame cause he is one of my favs
  3. Aliens – They were a bit underwhelming and not really well developed.
  4. More Nick Fury – It would have been nice if Samuel L Jackson had said “Enough is enough! I have had it with these motherfucking superheroes on this motherfucking Helicarrier!” I would have paid double to hear that.

 

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.

Stuff What I have been doing

February 19, 2012

So since I’ve broken my New Years Resolution of Blogging regularly with in 2 months of the new year I’ll give a brief summary of things I’ve seen and done. Hopefully it will be vaguely interesting.

I saw The counterfeiters on DVD, a German film that about the largest counterfeiting operation run out of a concentration camp. Though the subject matter was pretty depressing it was well made and much deserving of its Oscar nomination. It got me very angry though and I found myself frequently shouting at the screen ‘How could anybody have let this happen?’,’ Why is Man so evil?’, etc, etc Strangely more so then when I saw Schindler’s list.

I caught ‘A Dangerous Method’ at the cinema. A so-so film and nowhere near as good as either ‘A History of Violence’ or ‘Eastern Promise’. It was very light weight and wasn’t sure whether it was a love story or a serious examination of Psychotherapy. It didn’t help that I found all three of the lead characters incredibly unappealing, and this has nothing to do with the actors. Still worth catching if you want to see Keira Knightley being spanked by Michael Fassbender.They should have had that as the Tag-line – it would have got the punters in.

I also recently caught ‘The Muppets’ at the cinema and I actually quite enjoyed it, not much I can say it was overly sentimental as always but some of the gags were quite good, and the songs were fun. I can’t quite get the opening and closing number out of my head.

I’ve been reading Brian Bolland and Mike Barr’s Camelot 3000. The art work is fantastic, There really is some nice pencil work from Bolland, I might even be so bold as to say it is better then his ‘The Killing Joke’ work. Unfortunately the plot and dialogue has not aged well, some of the devices like Sir Tristan being reborn as a Woman and him/her coming to terms with this seem very silly and naive. Still worth a read if only for the art.

I also read a few novels. I read the first four Parker books that Richard Stark Churned out 20 odd years after Butcher’s Moon. I’d say at least three out of four of them were as good as his 70s output. I’m going to repeat ad infinitum that, that man knew how to write. They are like intricate pieces of clockwork. So fine that the reader doesn’t even notice.

Hard Case Crime Christa Faust

January 31, 2012

I’ve been reading a hell of a lot of Hard Case Crime books recently, I haven’t yet read a dull one yet however some are better then others. Christ Faust’s two entries into the series – ‘Money Shot’ and ‘Choke Gold’ have been really interesting. They are both good books however I thought ‘Money Shot’ was slightly better. I think part of the reason is that the milieu of the Los Angeles Porn scene was an interesting setting and the other being the book just moves like a runaway freight Train and I just love books like that – that’s why I think Richard Stark is a god. The problem comes with the second book, the plotting is just not there. Without giving too much away it seems to retread old ground and not do anything new with it. I’ll make the comparison again to Richard Stark, his books always put Parker in a new situation and challenged him to escape. The character stayed the same but the situations always enhanced and played with what we knew already about Parker’s morality. The problem with Faust’s second book was that you never really got that sense from Angel Dare – the main protagonist in her books. The other issue I had was that it left things too open, it didn’t really end well at all. I wanted some kind of closure and I got none. I think she wants to make another in the series but even so I would have liked it if it was a bit more self contained. Stark in his novel Butcher’s Moon referenced all kinds of things that had happened in his previous books but you never felt like you were missing anything by not having read them – though I advise you to do so before attempting Butcher’s . I didn’t get that sense from Faust, you had to have read ‘Money Shot’ for ‘Choke Hold’ to have made any sense and that bothered me from the start.