Saturday, 10 December 2011


There is nothing cryptic about today's title, it is simply the original Korean title for the movie we're looking at. This movie has been hailed as one of the greatest international movies ever made and it stands at number 92 on IMDb's Top 250 films. It's considered the best film in the loosely connected 'Vengeance Trilogy'. So is it up to the hype that surrounds it? We'll see. Today, we're reviewing Oldboy.

The movie opens with a mysterious man dangling another man over the edge of a building by his tie. When asked what his name is we cut away to Dae-su Oh (Min-sik Choi) in a police station, very drunk and out of control. He is picked up by No Joo-hwan (Dae-han Ji) but soon lost at a phone booth. Dae-su Oh wakes up in a room. He has no idea who has trapped him here and he has no idea why. He spends the next fifteen years trapped in his little room with only a tv for company. He begins to train, build up his strength, and find a way to escape. He swears vengeance on whoever trapped him and when he is finally out of the room he goes on a journey to find the truth. With help from Joo-hwan and Mi-do (Hye-jeong Kang) he begins to unravel the mystery surrounding his capture.

The low prices at Oldboy hotel literally had people fighting for rooms.

All performances in the movie are outstanding. Min-sik Choi is outstanding as Dae-su. His emotions are gritty and raw. It's absolutely captivating to watch him from start to finish. Not only is his tantrum in the police station one of the funnier scenes I've seen for a long time, his brutality which verges on insanity is horrible to watch yet impossible to look away from. At some points you'll like him, some points you won't, and some you'll just be shocked by him. It's brilliant. As an antagonist, Ji-tae Yu is fantastic as Woo-jin Lee. He has a perfect balance between psychotic and plain evil. He's got enough of a human side to develop a tiny bit of sympathy for him but  mainly he's crazy and cruel.

What really stood out for me in this movie was the technical side of things. Chan-wook Park really knows what he's doing as a director. Everything is perfectly timed. Everything looks perfect. Everything is perfect as far as the technical aspects are concerned.  The fight scenes, particularly the long corridor fight, are spectacularly shot. The corridor fight scene involves a huge number of guards against one man. The first camera shot shows us how small the corridor actually is. The next one is a an extremely long single shot that follows the fight down the side of the corridor. It's incredible to watch. The use of sound in the film is also brilliant. Often music (or more often silence) will juxtapose what's happening on screen. It creates a really eerie atmosphere that works wonderfully with the explicit nature of the film.

Some people thought Dae-su had a fear of lifts. He didn't He was scared of women.

Overall, this film is definitely not for the faint hearted. While it has funny moments, they are completely outweighed. There's even a tooth-pulling scene, something that really makes me wince. However, it is a great movie and well worth a watch... if you can stand it. And pay attention. It twists more than a roller coaster.

Best Bit? It has to be the corridor fight scene. Cinematic brilliance as well as wonderfully choreographed.

P.S. It looks like a western adaption of this has been announced. Spike Lee is set to direct and Josh Brolin to star. While I know not all adaptions and remakes are terrible (Infernal Affairs - The Departed) I still don't like how many of modern films are remakes or western adaptions or reboots of already great movies or franchises. But then again, it may be awesome. We'll see. Perhaps it'll look something like this:

Josh Brolin as Dae-su?

Friday, 9 December 2011

I Am The English Psycho...

Hello Blogging type people. It has come to my attention today that there is an American Psycho remake currently being considered by Lionsgate. Now, it's not 100% official as the script still hasn't got the go-ahead. However, I would like to take a moment to discuss/ slate this idea.

Let's start with the defense of the possible remake. The movie is different to the book. Many supporters of the remake claiming that the previous movie didn't do the book justice. It is far more likely that this new movie will be more explicit (like the book) and less funny. It's also being pushed forward by Noble Jones, a director who has worked with David Fincher a few times. But now we'll take a look/ rant about why it's a terrible idea:

Firstly, the original movie is brilliant as it is. I can't understand how someone can look at it and say, I could make that so much better. Whether you're David Fincher's prodigy or not, it would be nigh impossible to improve on the movie enough to warrant a full remake. No film is perfect... Even my favourite movies have their flaws. Also, Jones want's to shift the plot into the modern day rather the 80s. Considering the book is a satire of the 80s business world, I can't see how fans can defend the hope of the new remake being closer to the film. And is anyone really going to play Patrick Bateman better than Christian Bale? It's become such an iconic role. The pure psychotic nature of Bateman is something that will be incredibly difficult to re-capture without stealing of Christian Bale's performance.

A friend of mine is very wise with these matters. He suggests that, if a film company want to make money off an old idea, re-release a film. Re-master it. Release some new box set. Don't remake the entire film when their are better and more original ideas out there. If this Noble Jones is going to be some great director, he should show us something new and cement his place in the film industry rather than present an old idea and for it to not live up to it's previous versions. I don't want a micro-budget American Psycho, I want new films that take my breath away.

/Rant over/

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Die Hard. Again. And Again. And Again. (Part 2)

Here's the second part of my Die Hard reviews. The first part is here. Five years after the second Die Hard was released, a third installment came out. Then it'd be another 12 years before we'd see anything Die Hard related in the cinemas. How did they keep a franchise going despite the massive gap in time? How did they adjust? Lets have a look, starting with Die Hard: With A Vengeance.

John McClane, (Willis) now almost a full-blown alcoholic, is on suspension from the NYPD. However, when a bomb goes off in a department store and the police are stuck for answers, a mysterious man named Simon (Jeremy Irons/ Graham Greene) phones and asks for McClane. He states that if the police want answers, McClane has to complete the tasks Simon tells him to. Task one: Wearing a rather offensive sign in the rough part of town. Fortunately for McClane, Zeus Carver (Samuel L. Jackson) steps in to protect him from a group of thugs. Not so fortunately for Zeus, this means he is now involved in Simon's games. Simon gets McClane and Zeus to run around town trying to stop bombs that he has rigged. However, Simon is planning a little more than he's letting on.

Both McClane and Zeus were extremely suspicious of the phone.
Despite being an alcoholic, being suspended and having not spoken to his wife, McClane continues to prove how cool he really is. By adopting a slightly more I-don't-care attitude, Willis provides a better performance than his second outing as the character. He brings the same wit and bad ass-ness that he's brought for the first two movies but this time they it comes with a fresh dowsing of pessimism. However, the stand out  performance of the movie comes from Samuel Jackson as Zeus. Continuing Die Hard's theme of having a handy black sidekick is presented with a twist this time around. Zeus is strong willed, sassy and powerful. He's very funny, if not very racist. The antagonists, Jeremy Irons and Graham Greene are superbly dark and smart. Their plots provide more twists than either of the first two movies and they create such a tense atmosphere which makes the film extremely exciting.

The Die Hard science begins to get a little bit out of control in this movie. There's ridiculously high and yet survivable falls, surfing on giant dump trucks, and goons with even worse aim than ever before.  But all of this only helps to make the movie all the more fun to watch. My least favourite aspect of the movie is not the slowly sinking realism but the incredibly annoying choice of music. Throughout dramatic moments of the movie, we are treated to an instrumental version of 'The animals went in two by two hurrah hurrah'. (Technically known as When Johnny Comes Marching Home). Something about it doesn't fit.

Overall, another good movie. Not as good as the first, slightly better than the second. Good fun and definitely worth a watch.

Best Bit? Personally, I have a soft spot for the dump truck chase in an underground system of water tunnels.

And finally we come to the fourth and (currently) the final installment in the series: Die Hard 4.0 (Or Live Free Or Die Hard)

So the plot of the last movie is slightly more nerdy than the others. This time, the terrorists are hackers and they're developing a system that can systematically shut down the entirety of the United States, one bit at a time. McClane (Willis) gets involved after he is sent to bring internet hacker Matt Farrell (Justin Long) to Washington. Soon after he arrives at Matt's apartment though, unknown assailents begin shooting at Matt and McClane. After getting him out safely, McClane turns to Matt to gain some insight from his hacking knowledge and together they plan to bring down mastermind Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant) and his assistant Mai Linh (Maggie Q). Unfortunately for McClane (and in some ways, fortunate for Farrell), Lucy Gennaro McClane (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), John's daughter, gets caught up the whole ordeal and despite her disliking of her father and his attitudes to things, she relies and trusts in him to stop the terrorists.

Thomas Gabriel never understood the idea of
 going on a date and showing one's guns.

In the twelve years that John was absent from our cinema screens, a lot changed in his life. He lost all his hair, stopped talking to his ex wife and daughters, became a much angrier and older man. Willis continues to develop and adapt the character we've grown to love but still sticks to his roots. The years have aged him, and he shows us that. Also a brilliant performance from Justin Long. Admittedly it's a role that he plays more than any other, the awkward nerdy teenager. But the contrast between Willis and Long is so perfect it makes the movie great fun to watch.

Die Hard science goes to a whole new level in this movie. Death seems to become a thing of the past, or at least all of the characters have developed super strength. Cars are driven into helicopters, people are run over but able to continue fighting and fighter jets will destroy half a city on a very vague order.  However, being a more modern movie, the special effects, camera work, and general appearance of the entire film is a league above the other three movies. Probably the most silly out of all four movies but also one of the easiest to watch. There's lots of action and lots of explosions to keep your eyes busy.

In my personal opinion it's the weakest of the four films but compared to a lot of action films released nowadays, it's still of a better quality. It's fun and it's everything we love from Die Hard, if not a bit more exaggerated and silly.

Best Bit? The fight scene between Mai Linh, John McClane, and Matt Farrell. A whole new level of fight scene with use of cars, elevator shafts and a combination of them both. Or extremely tense tunnel scene when cars are flying all over the place.

A great set of movies. All worth a watch. And don't forget, yippee ki-yay, motherfuckers.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

A Boy, His Dog, A Drunk, and Some Treasure

This is not your normal comic book adaption. There are no super heroes, no amazing gadgets, and no Marvel or DC. Just a boy, his dog, and a drunken sailor. Finally it's time to see Hergé's classic comic on the big screen and with such a fine cast and crew behind it, what could go wrong. Let's talk about The Adventures Of Tintin: The Secret Of The Unicorn. (Woah, mouthful!)

Tintin (Jamie Bell) and his dog Snowy innocently buy a model boat at a street stall. Suddenly, the boat receives a lot of interest from a couple of mysterious men. Intrigued, Tintin keeps a close eye on the boat... Until Snowy knocks it to the floor. Inside the mast is a secret message. A clue. Clearly this is what one of the mysterious men was after as the flat is broken into but the clue remains safe. Tintin teams up with Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis) and foolish inspectors Thompson and Thomson (Simon Pegg and Nick Frost respectively) To unveil the secret of the Unicorn before Ivanovich Sakharine (Daniel Craig).

There's no witty caption here. Just look at how wonderful that CG is.

Now this cast would be outstanding in any live action movie, and it’s just as spectacular in Motion Capture. It is important to remember that this is motion capture and not animation.  They’re not just voice actors, they’re actually acting. And yet, not a single character seems too much like the actor playing them. If you weren't aware which actors were in the film, you wouldn’t be able to tell. Try to tell the difference between Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, I dare you. Daniel Craig is also superb. At no point did I realise that it was him who played Ivanovich Sakharine. Andy Serkis is absolutely hilarious as Captain Haddock. Only once did his comedy seem to dip into ‘dumb humour’, (Burping into a plane engine in order to keep it flying.) but that's a writing issue... I literally have no complaints about the acting in this movie.

Visually, this film caused my jaw to drop like no film has since Avatar. The very first shot of a person’s face caused a communal intake of air from every person in the cinema. It was simply breathtaking. And the transitions between scenes were completely flawless. Not only that, they were stunning. I've never been so captivated by a scene change. Even the opening sequence was a treat for the eyes. A miniature Tintin adventure as the creative teams names float around the screen. On top of all these things, the movie contains action sequences that rival any big scale blockbuster and they'll also make you laugh until it hurts. The first of two notable examples is a city wide chase sequence. There are bazookas, tanks, floods and a hell of a lot of chaos, and all in a single shot! The camera never cuts away from the action. The second incredible action sequence comes in the form of a flashback to the days of pirates. The story of the unicorn. A battle involving two ships with action on a scale to match, and beat, battle scenes in any Pirates Of The Caribbean films. I was in awe of this scene. The fire jumped off the screen, perhaps due to the 3D, and every single gun shot or cannon fire made me hold the edge of my seat. The whole scene is cleverly re-enacted later using cranes. You'll understand. I don't want to put any spoilers. And all that with just over half the budget for Avatar.

Captain Haddock thought he was in his favourite movie, North by Northwest and was overjoyed
Directed by a man considered a legend in the film making world and produced by an man of equal stature. Both Oscar winners, Steven Spielberg (director) and Peter Jackson (producer) know what they're doing. Hegre was even quoted to say that he believed on Spielberg could do Tintin justice. Personally, I have very few criticisms of this movie. My only big one being that it was too short (even at 107 minutes). Fortunately, there is going to be two more movies, so that's good. I laughed my socks off and was completely hypnotized by the picture. Sometimes, jokes did fall flat and admittedly, snowy was a better detective than Tintin at points, but the movie is a major achievement. I highly suggest it. However, I can't find myself able to give it the full five stars. It misses something. I'm not sure what.

Best bit? Personally, the battle between the two boats was just so outstandingly done I have to say that. It was simply stunning as well as incredibly exciting. 

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Die Hard. Again. And Again. And Again. (Part 1)

Since I've been gone for a while, and you guys definitely miss me, I thought I'd treat you. Four movie reviews, two post. Why do I suddenly seem drawn to the idea of these four movies? Well I watched them all today, in one sitting, with my totally legit sports team. What do these movies share in common? They all contain two words: Die Hard.

So I'll try to keep these reviews fairly short. Movie one: Die Hard. Officer John McClane (Bruce Willis) leaves New York to spend Christmas with his family in LA. However, soon after arriving at his wife's work, Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) takes over the building with a group of terrorists and seals off all contact with the outside world. Holding the workers hostage, he plans to steal $640 million stored in the buildings vault. McClane manages to get into maintenance areas of the building and tries to alert the police about the situation. The police, apart from Sgt. Al Powell (Reginald VelJohnson), are useless.

McClane, I bought you a woman for Christmas.
This is Bruce Willis at his very best. He is the epitome of cool. He has the pout, the never ending ammo and the ability to talk coherently with a cigarette perched between his teeth. Action-wise, this movie is outstanding. It is the perfect genre film. If you were introducing someone to action, start here. Something I'll refer to a lot in this post is Die Hard Science. It is essentially the science that exists in the world of Die Hard, but not in reality. For example, one man may be shot in the head and just crumple, another's head may explode. Rickman was also superb. He's such a perfect antagonist. He's creepy but isn't aggressive unless he really needs to be. He's menacing and powerful without being loud or violent. This is perfect for the villain of this movie.

One thing that I particularly love about this movie is the location. A single location, but a massive location. Despite the film only taking place in one building, this is a forty story building; there's more room in a forty story building than in a wood. This allows for the sense of claustrophobia, but still has the ability to create grand scale action. Bombs, tanks and abseiling with a hose pipe. This movie has it all.

A great start to a great franchise. Witty, action packed and plain cool.

Best Bit? There's something extremely touching about the bromantic hug between McClane and Al but the best bit has to go toMcClane using a hose pipe to lower himself down the building.

Movie Two! Die Hard 2, aptly tag lined 'Die Harder.' Often criticised for being a simple rehash of the first one. Well in some ways it is, but more about that in a moment. Firstly, the plot.

John McClane, once again wishing to spend Christmas with his wife, is waiting for her plane at the airport when he notices some suspicious behavior. Upon investigating, he gets shot at, destroys a mans head, and almost gets arrested. The complete lack of help from airport security leads him to turn to his old pal Al Powell (via a new creation called 'a fax machine') who informs him that one of the men that shot at him, was dead according to records. Somethings afoot. Cue evil plan to keep plane's circling until the demands of the terrorists' have been met, despite all aircraft being low on fuel. Oh, they also take over all the planes' computers and communication so that they can crash them at their will. McClane steps into save the day.

Nobody was happier in an ejector seat than John McClane
Once again, Willis proves that he is the coolest man alive. More pouting whilst shooting, more talking with a cigarette, and more throwing metal painting towers over. He even plays chicken with a plane! Once again, he's helped out by a friendly black guy, Leslie Barnes (Art Evans), who is great fun. Exactly what John McClane needs, a wise cracking, good willed, black guy that stands up to his superiors in order to help McClane. And the antagonists of this film are brilliant. I don't just mean the outstanding Col. Stuart (William Sadler), I also mean the not-quite-baddies-but-you-really-want-to-punch-them baddies. This includes Capt. Carmine Lorenzo (Dennis Franz), in charge of airport security who tries to over power McClane at every turn and, reprising his roll as the selfish and ignorant journalist, William Atherton is brilliant as Richard Thornburg.

Like the first movie, the film takes place in primarily one location, the airport. And again, there's that feeling of claustrophobia despite being in a large area. This is a typical sequel. It's bigger and more ridiculous. That Die Hard Science we mentioned earlier plays a huge part in this film. Plane's crash, with no fuel, and yet explode into an unbelievable fireball. The brilliant aiming of the bad guys suddenly disappears when they shoot at McClane. Several planes can fit onto a very small runway despite it being covered completely in snow. This film does require complete suspension of disbelief. That being said, it's still great fun and 100% worth watching, especially with a good crowd of friends.

Extremely similar to the first movie, but not in a bad way (not like Hangover Part II). It's a bit sillier, a lot bigger, and twice as action packed, with twice as many plot twists. Not quite as good either, but still a great, fun movie

Best Bit? The cool as snow (Gettit?) ending. John McClane proves he's a BAMF all over again after fighting on the wing of a plane and then simply using a lighter as a form of attack.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Tinker Tailor Soldier MOLE!

I'm back ladies and gentlemen! Have you missed me? Probably not. Well here I am none the less. And I return with a movie hailed as a modern masterpiece! But is it? Let's break this down. It's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

So what is it even about? In the most simple of descriptions, it's a spy thriller. Set in 1970s' London during cold war hysteria, the movie tells the story of the struggles within MI5 and MI6 after a disastrous mission in Budapest, Hungary in which Jim Prideaux (Mark Strong) was shot. This fiasco causes Control (John Hurt) and George Smiley (Gary Oldman) to leave the Circus (the name given to the top ranking members of the service) but Control is under the impression that there is a mole within the Circus. After Control passes away, Smiley comes out of retirement to try and catch the mole. The four remaining members, Bill Haydon (Colin Firth), Percy Alleline (Toby Jones), Roy Bland (Ciaran Hinds) and Toby Esterhase (David Dencik), were all considered suspects by Control, as was Smiley. With the help of Peter Guillam (Benedict Cumberbatch) Smiley sets out on finding the mole.

At the MI5 library, they have boxes, not books.

As far as casts go, this one is incredible. The finest British actors all in one movie and all of them provide exceptional performances. the stand out role for me is definitely Benedict Cumberbatch. Not only does he have the coolest name known to man, he's also a damn fine actor. My favourite scene in the entire movie contained very few words, just Cumberbatch working his way through a library where he should not be. It'll keep you on the edge of your seat the whole time. Gary Oldman is also superb. There is not a bad word to say about that man. When you've starred in both Batman and Harry Potter, you know you're on the road to success. This is his finest performance in recent years and I'll be damned if he doesn't at least get nominated for best actor. The rest of the support are outstanding. Another particular mention to Tom Hardy as Rikki Tarr, a rogue agent who has a bit of a scuffle at one point with Benedict Cumberbatch.

And yes, the forums are full of arguments. They are always bound to be when you release a movie classed as a spy thriller and it's not action packed. Don't be mistaken, this film is long. It is not a James Bond type spy thriller. It's a sophisticated, intelligent, whodunit. The whole film is an investigation and for the film to reach it's potential, you have to think about the evidence shown to you and try to figure it out yourself. Director, Tomas Alfredson, isn't known for his fast paced movies. That's not his style. His previous film, Let The Right One In (reviewed here) was a vampire movie that was beautiful. He tells a story and he tells it well.

And of course, let's spare a quick word for the more technical elements. I love the way this film was shot. The formerly mentioned library scene, another tense scene involving a plane landing. The latter scene in particular was wonderfully shot. A still camera shot as the propellers got closer and closer. The soundtrack was subtle and perfect. The style of the film, the dark, cold way in which it was shot really emphasises the notion of the cold War. The depression, the fear and the anxiety. Technically, this film was outstanding.

Colin's rendition of 'I'm a little teapot,' didn't go down very well with The Circus

'But Phil!' I hear you cry, 'What do you think of the film as a whole? You sound like you loved it.' I enjoyed it, yes. I don't feel I can go as far as other critics and claim it's perfect or that it's a masterpiece. It is a very well made film. However, the very slightest distraction can make you lose the entire plot. Need to run to the toilet? You're going to have a lot of thinking to do. It is also very slow. I found myself making jokes too often in an attempt to make the movie more interesting at points. I say points because it truly is a fascinating movie and you should see it. But you need a decent attention span. Personally, I'd prefer to watch Let The Right One In over this, but that's just my personally preference.

So in a nutshell, pay a lot of attention, you'll love it. Get distracted easily and you won't understand what is happening and therefore you're unlikely to enjoy it. And unfortunately, I just can't find myself able to give it a fifth star.

Best Bit? As I have already mentioned, Benedict Cumberbatch's tense trip to the library.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

So it's a Sequel, Not a Remake? You sure?

There are a few sequels which take the first movie and redo it with a slightly different scenario. Please don't. Here's why: The Hangover, Part II.

Quickly, let's list the key points in the first movie:
  1. Some one is getting married.
  2. the Bachelor party takes place somewhere famous for night life. (Vegas)
  3. The main characters get very drunk/drugged, loose a friend and remember nothing.
  4. The main characters search for their lost friend, finding a helpless person (a baby) and an animal that belongs to someone else (a tiger that belongs to Mike Tyson.)
  5. Eventually they find their friend somewhere they really should've checked.
  6. They make it back to the wedding on time.
All of this is the same in the second movie, except in Thailand with a old monk and a monkey who belonged to some Russians. From Stu doing something stupid to his body, to him confronting someone at the wedding and speaking his mind.

Phil and Stu were shocked by Alan's choice to become a Britney Spears impersonator.

Okay, let's start with good things. Ken Jeong was brilliant reprising his role as Mr. Chow. Definitely the best character. Mainly because he wasn't in the first movie as much so there was room for a whole new layer of his character. Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms were both good as Phil and Stu respectively. Their characters developed a little. Admittedly, in Stu's case, it wasn't entirely in a good way. The character who had been developed the most was Alan. He was also the least amusing. In the first one, he was stupid. In Part II, he had delved deeps into the realm of mental difficulties and had lost a lot of what made him funny the first time round. no other characters were really major enough for any serious analysis. Yeah, Doug still wasn't in it. I would've loved to have seen Doug get caught up in the mishaps.

Stu thought his new tattoo made him look really tough. It didn't.

So, the writing and directing. Clearly, Todd Philips and his team took a laid back approach and said, "Hey, it worked before, lets do it again." And I don't just mean the plot. I mean every joke, every gag, even the same characters. Yes I liked Chow. But where the hell were the new characters? Even Eddie, the chapel manager from the first movie, made an appearance. (Though as a different character. Copy and pasted but with a name change and some hair.) Even Paul Giamatti's cameo was very disappointing. There were trade overs, mistaken identities, hookers and lots more of recycled jokes. The first movie still strikes me as a brilliant work in comedy in recent years. This does not.

I wouldn't suggest spending money to see this. Just watch the first movie again. That will stay good. This won't. Twice as vulgar and twice as silly, but half as good. Sillier you say? There was a drug dealing monkey. Enough said.

That's enough from me. I don't want to talk about this movie anymore. I heard it wasn't good, but I thought surely no. I was wrong. It wasn't very good. I was disappointed.

Best bit? When Chow was onscreen. He was hilarious. Particularly the car chase. A good scene in an otherwise poor movie.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Ghosts Really Like Tiny Tim,

With horrors often passed over or frowned upon by film enthusiasts, it takes something different to cause a decent audience reaction. Recently we had Paranormal Activity but now we have internet sites full of images from James Wan's new film. Why? Let's see. This is Insidious.

Despite the expectation of horrors being poorly acted and weak in terms of plot, Insidious tries to be successful in both film-making and creating scares. The plot is a fairly generic premise for a horror. A family made up of mother, Renai (Rose Byrne), father, Josh (Patrick Wilson), and three kids move into a new house. Soon after they move in, things start to go wrong. After being lured into the attic by strange noises and opening doors, one of the sons, Dalton, falls down a ladder and goes into a coma shortly afterwards. Slowly, Renai starts to see and hear things around the house. A voice on the baby moniter. A man in her baby's room. The usual. So the family move. But nothing gets better.

So Phil, does it beat the expectations of horrors? Well, let's see. In terms of acting, it's not the best piece of work. We are never presented with a real fear. Admittedly, the worst acting is in the last three seconds but overall it's nothing special. Patrick Wilson, lacks conviction while Rose Byrne presents most of the good acting. Though, contrary to popular belief, working with children can work. Ty Simpkins and Andrew Astor (playing Dalton and Foester respectively) both show us that the younger generations can act. Still much room to improve but good enough. The light relief of the movie comes in the form of 'ghostbuster' double, Specs (Screenwriter - Leigh Whannell) and Tucker. (Angus Sampson) Their humor may seem out of place in a film full of jumps but the transitions between comedy and horror are so seem less that I don't see it as an issue. And finally, Elise, the psychic, (Lin Shaye) is the serious, all knowing figure. Something about her whole performance seems somewhat half hearted and never really becomes real.

Darth Maul's cameo is often missed.

But really, it's the film making that moves this film up from a normal horror. Wan and Whannell, the writing team that created Saw and Dead Silence, know a think or two about making horrors. No doubt they'll make a clown film soon. They've done psycho killer. They've done puppets. Now they've done children. Wait... I should re-word that. Made a horror movie revolving around a child. Better. What really struck me about this movie was the subtlety and the tension in the first half of the movie. Moments which made you question what you had seen. Not just because they came and went so quickly. Things in the background where you say, 'What was that? Did you see that? (See what) That thing in the corner.. It looked like...' Etc. There were several moments like this (including a cameo from Billy the Puppet.) These moments kept you on the edge of your seat.

However... The second half of the movie, while not without it's good bits, is a lot more cheesy. It becomes a bit too supernatural. It moves from the realms of paranormal experiences to a whole Further realm. (little inside joke for those of you who have seen it) Some of the most terrifying moments loose clarity here. What I suppose really should have been a big twist, despite being creepy, was not shocking. My opinion on why it looses clarity? Too much face. Demon's are A LOT scarier when you're unsure what you saw. The unknown is always scary. Showing a face for longer than a second, particularly a CGI or made up face, allows the audience to see what they're dealing with and see it's not as creepy as it first seemed. It gets a bit silly and far fetched.

I'll be honest. I'm not sure why she wore this in the movie. But it's creepy.

The music was old school. It reminded me of films like The Shining and Psycho. Lots of strings. Lots of sharp, jarring notes. The inclusion of Tiptoe through the Tulips, Tiny Tim's version, was one of the creepiest uses of a cheesy song since the alarm tone in 1408. Well, until the second time it played. Camera work was nothing special. Very plain and basic. With a horror, lighting becomes very important too. The use of strobes, odd shadows and complete blackness is used to great effect.

Overall, not a bad film. Nor the next great horror. Enough to install hope for future horrors. Scary but also silly. If you have trouble sleeping after these sorts of movies, you may want to just think twice. James Wan and Leigh Whannel have gone downhill since Saw but still haven't reached that standard that other horrors hit.

Best Bit? There are a few really good bits. Personally, I loved the bit with the dancing kid. But that may just be me.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Enter Through The Door - Part Of Documentary Day... Or Is It?

Nominated for an Oscar and was a huge hopeful for the win due to the director's need for secrecy. Speculation arose to what would happen if he won. A monkey suit perhaps? Maybe he wouldn't turn up. Who knows. We'll never know. It is however, a documentary. Or is it? This is Exit Through The Gift Shop.

Famous street artist Banksy takes up the task of directing. Well, sort of. Let's start at the beginning. Thierry Guetta, a French shop owner living in LA, films his every move. Everything he does, he has a camera in his hand. One day, while visiting his family, he discovers that his cousin is street artist, Space Invader. Fascinated by the night time world of the street artist, he goes out with Space Invader to film him working. He thinks it's a wonderful idea: to create something you're passionate about and putting it out in the open for all to see. Space Invader then takes a trip to LA to spread his work to America and introduces Thierry to other street artists, in particular, Shepard Fairey. Eventually, Thierry decides he's going to publicise the world of street art in the form of a documentary. But his film is missing something. The famous Banksy. The elusive British artist reamins hidden... that is until Banksy needs a hand in LA and a friend of Thierry's suggests that Thierry could help. The two strike up a friendship and do everything in LA together. This friendship leads to questioning by Disneyland, a terrible documentary by the name of Life Remote Control and the invention of Mr Brainwash.

Banksy wasn't sure about being filmed. He could smell a rat.

Is it real. Oh gosh. I really don't know. Arguments for and against are both rather solid. But it doesn't matter. It's a great film. It's funny. But most of all, it's a brilliant tribute to the talent and reasoning behind street art. Thierry is supposedly a real man despite claims he's not. He's mostly a nice guy. He's helpful, determined, always willing to help and smart. He's fun to watch as he's a really bubbly personality that emits happiness. Banksy's occasional input keeps the audience aware of how we should feel towards the events in the movie, particularly Mr Brainwash near the end. Other inputs are equally entertaining such as police turning up every now and then and causing Fairey to fall of his ladder.

When the late 1800s phoned and asked for their mutton chops back,
Thierry was very offended.

The often overlooked point of the film is a statement about the nature of art and popular culture as well as a look into the deeply secret world of street artists. If you're a fan of street art, this is a must see. From small pictures of space invaders to inflatable Guantanamo Bay prisoners in Disneyland, this movie gives an otherwise unseen insight into the creating process of street art and the passion behind it. It also shows how that can be lost through commercialism. Whether it is real or fake does not matter. The fact that one can't tell makes it all the more impressive if it was staged. However, the film producers are apparently very upset that people think it's a hoax after all the effort that they went though to search all the tapes of footage. Apparently, to just pass it off as a hoax doesn't give it the credit it deserves. And I agree. I personally believe it to be real, at least to a point. Call it ignorance, I call it acceptance.

Great movie, less than 90 minutes long. Definitely worth watching, especially if you're an art fan. To see one of my favourite installation pieces (The crumpled phonebox) being created was really cool.
Best Bit? I loved all the 'Behind the scenes' of art sort of things. Particularly with Fairey and at Disneyland.

P.S. I researched this film a lot to decide how authentic it is. I ended up having twelve movie related tabs open on my computer. I still can't decide. That's how good it is.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Internet Fish - Part Of Documentary Day... Or Is It?

Advertised cunningly as, "Forget The Social Network - This is the Real Facebook Film." Sneaky considering both movies tell incredibly different stories that involve Facebook. However, this is a documentary. Or is it? This is Catfish.

The trailer suggested something Blair-Witch-ish. Admittedly, the marketing campaign for this movie was extremely misleading. The movie is about a photographer Nev (pronounced Neev - Get it right Channel 4) and his relationship with a family in Michigan. Trouble is, he lives in New York. This means Nev's only forms of communication are online and through the telephone. His brother, Ariel, and friend, Henry, decide to document Nev's friendship with the youngest daughter, Abby, who is a child prodigy in art. However, as Nev starts getting friendly with the rest of the family, he becomes rather attracted to Abby's half sister, Megan. As the friendship develops and infatuation begins, the trio discover a few of Megan's deepest secrets.

Hidden cameras provide fairly useful in the final third of the movie.

Having never reviewed a documentary, I'm not sure where to start. I guess with the movie as a whole. I'll try to keep it spoiler free. It's great. It's suspenseful, fun and super unnerving. Nev is a great person to follow. He's normal, friendly and most importantly, he's easy to relate to. What's great about this self classed 'Reality Thriller' is the reality of the emotions. What is on screen is real and the audience are drawn in. But wait, is it real? The authenticity of the film has been question by many viewers including celebrities such as Zach Galifianakis. The film makers stand by their statement that it's 100% true. Ariel said that it all felt too perfect to them too. However, both himself and Henry are use to filming plenty of everyday life and it finally paid off. Supposedly. The mystery surrounding how real the film is only adds to it intrigue. Whether or not it's a hoax, it still raises real issues that are out there relating to social networking sites like Facebook.

Photoshop - As crucial to distance lovers as attention seeking teenage girls.

It's not impossible to guess what happens in the film without even seeing it. That's not important. Even if you know how it's going to end, which as the film develops you're likely to do, it's still the extent of the conclusion that makes the reality of the situation so shocking. Once the trio reach Michigan to meet the family, we are left squirming at particular moments. There are bits that are hard to watch and there are bits that border on disturbing. That reality may be too much for a movie that starts off fairly light. If you're a fan of something a bit more real and are welcome to see a darker side of the internet, this movie isfor you.

Despite the questions regarding it's authenticity, it's a gripping documentary. You grow to like the characters, you react when they react, and you feel just as uncomfortable as Ariel when he states, 'I just want to leave.' it encompasses a whole range of emotions as well as nailing the Facebook Zeitgeist right on the head. Enjoyable as well as unsettling.

Best Bit? It's tricky. Two moments stand out for me. The song discovery scene and the Painting of Nev scene near the end. Note: I have given these scenes these names. You'll understand if you watch the movie.

Monday, 25 April 2011

In a Bit of a Tangle.

Ah Disney. Despite being a world ruling corporation, they know how to animate. Ol' Walt revolutionised animation several times. He introduced sound, colour and full length feature animations. It's a famous question: What's your favourite disney film. You'll here classics. Bambi, Snow White, Hercules, Aladin etc. But why those? Because they have a wonderful formula. A great story combined with great and classic songs. For years, older generations have been yearning for a return to old school disney animation. While they have added an extra dimension, Disney have listened to their fans and produced a 3D fairytale that screams classic Disney. That's right. It's Tangled.

After 17 years in a tower, Rapunzel had got good at puppetry.

Innocent and naive Rapunzel has been locked away in a tower by her 'mother' or rather, her kidnapper. You see, Rapunzel's hair can heal so Mother Gothel has trapped her in order to harness the hair's powers to keep herself young. One day, runaway thief Flynn Rider stumbles across the tower and after some debating and fighting witha frying pan, he agrees to take her out of the tower to 'The Floating Lights.' Thus a wild goose chase occurs. Rapunzel's adopted mother is on the search for her, guards are on the search for Flynn, Flynn's buddies are on the search for Flynn and Rapunzel's real parents are still hoping that their lost daughter will return.

The movie, obviously, is aimed primarily at children. But what Disney is particularly good at is creating animated adventures that appeal to everyone. Perhaps even more so with Tangled as it brings back memories of the almost lost Disney family movie. Sometimes it was just the kids laughing, sometimes it was just the adults but what is really crucial here is that everyone enjoyed it. The voice actors were perfect. Not only did their voices really suit the characters but they had real raw talent with their singing. Speaking of the songs, it's nice to see the Disney musical comeback. There's even a horse with personality. It's like the 40s all over again.

Despite the fact they had a saucepan, They were still terrified of the Giant Pancake.

The animation was superb. The animators took such care in this mvie that they made every single hair on Rapunzel's head move individually. That gives you an idea of the attention that these animators provide. You know when that much care and attention has been put into a movie, the animation at least will be stunning. And it is. From Rapunzels eyes to the many rising chinese lanterns. Yes, there have been other decent animated movies by Disney recently such as Bolt (which I will review) but they haven't had that Disney feel. You know what I mean. A genuienly good movie. With such a wonderful story combined with incredible animation. Some new favourite movie quotes are in this movie.

This film is what the later Shreks wished they had've been. Original, funny, and based off a fairy story. There's loads of small references to other Disney princesses (Check Rapunzel's staircase) and that previously mentioned Disney feel makes the whole film seem just that bit better than other animated movies.

Best Bit? I personally loved I've Got A Dream. A song about Thug's dreams. Classic.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Druggie Aliens.

With Edgar Wright as their spearhead, these two actors have already shown the middle finger to the zombie genre, they've wiped their arses with cop movies and now they take on alien movies. Alone. That's right. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost team up without Edgar Wright directing to produce their interpretation of the alien sub-genre.

Two nerds, Graeme (Pegg) and Clive (Frost), go to live their dream. To visit comic-con and then tour famous alien related sites in a giant RV. Normal behaviour for us Brits then? Well maybe not. Especially not when they help cause a car to fly off the road. Being human, they start to call for an ambulance but aren't quite sure what to do when an alien steps out from the wreckage. Well, Clive does. He faints. However, the three start to become good friends. Clive and Graeme decide to help 'Paul' (Seth Rogen) get back to his ship despite the government on his trail. On their way they encounter anti-evolution bible freaks, hunters, and a rather amusing cameo or two. But it's truly a buddy comedy with bonding experiences despite being shot at every now and then.

The driving cover of Bohemian Rhapsody didn't
quite have the same effect as Wayne's World.

The replacement of Edgar Wright with Nick Frost as Pegg's writing partner has some rather noticeable differences. Where Wright brought in witty dialogue, Frost brought in fart and weed jokes. The big comedic difference here is that, while Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz true British, clever, parody comedy, Paul uses mates humor. Things you may laugh at down at the bar or at a party don't always translate well onto screen. While the silly nature of an old lady sighing, "there goes my pot" may seem humorous at first, you soon realise it was out of place, out of context and completely un-needed. That being said, the movie is hilarious. The fart and weed jokes are outweighed by decent writing with great character work.

Pegg and Frost are in their element as nerds. Who needs to act? Throughout the movie, they remain the same characters. There is no unexplained Epiphany where they decide to become awesome and help aliens. They're just nerds. Rogen's Paul is the main centre for the comedy. His forwardness and almost pathetic invisibility powers are comedy gold. And the entire films comic timing. For example:
"Clive: What if we wake up and find him inserting a probe into our anus?
Graeme: Well apparently they don't do that.
Paul: [Paul wiggles his finger inside the hole of a bagel] Anyone want one of these? Yeah? Anyone?"
At first Seth Rogen's voice seems wrong, and I still don't think he was the right choice, but it grows on you. I kinda just want him to do a role that doesn't involve smoking weed or talking about his own dick.
On the other side of the scale, the 'baddies' are brilliant. The fumbling pair of agents, Haggard (Bill Hader) and O'Reilly, (Joe Lo Truglio) are the real fools of the movie and Jason Bateman throws in a great turn as Agent Zoil. He's serious and funny. Even if he is completely overshadowed by his boss, The Big Guy. (Don't want to ruin this cameo. It made me laugh. A lot.)

There's aliens around here. And that's how Sue Cs it.

A geek's paradise is very similar to this film. It's full of references to every alien movie. From E.T to Alien. Spielberg's voice even makes an appearance on the phone. If you're like me and my friend, you'll find these hidden moments hilarious and laugh aloud in the cinema and everyone else will judge you. And it will be good. The only other film with this many alien references is Planet 51 (which, surprisingly, isn't too bad.) It even has a nerdy soundtrack and particular camera shots echo those from Close Encounters Of The Third Kind. Director Greg Mottola's input on the comedy will ring bells with fans of his other movies such as Superbad. But this is certainly better.

Overall a good film. Not quite Hot Fuzz and Shaun Of The Dead, and certainly not to be confused with the third of that trilogy. But it's still a load of laughs and great to watch with you (nerdy) friends.Best Bit? There's a lot of good bits. One of my favourite lines has to be "Hey fucknuts! Probing time."

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

News, Updates and Anger

Hi everyone. I'm taking a brief break from my coursework to give you a quick update. I promise, come the weekend, I'll start blogging loads again. Work will be out of the way and I'll have a lot more time.

However, in the world of movies, we have lots of news. Of course, there's always news in the world of film, but there's interesting news. Two interesting movies have come to my attention recently. The first is a sequel to Liam Neeson's Taken. At the moment it is simply called Taken 2. Is it real? If so, I'm very excited. Taken was a fine bit of pointless action and I enjoyed every moment of it. If the sequel is just as badass and awesome, we may see one of the best sequels ever. However, I am curious as to what the plot will be. Surely his daughter isn't foolish enough to get kidnapped twice? Perhaps he just goes crazy and decides to kick some drug dealing, girl stealing, unappealing gangster ass.

The second movie is one that, to me, sounds like the best concept for a while. I mean, Cowboys vs Aliens is a great concept, but does this trump it? It's called Cockneys VS Zombies. I mean come on. A load of bank robbers fighting Zombies? My immediate issue is that I assume people will compare it to Shaun Of The Dead. Despite the incredibly amusing concept, whether the film will be any good or not is yet to be seen. We shall find out next year.

Are you sure nobody has made Cockneys VS Zombies before?

Now let's talk about the year 2013. If the world hasn't ended then we are surely in for an interesting year. Due to two films. Firstly, Monsters University. The prequel to PIXAR's Monsters inc. Now, I'm very interested to see a PIXAR prequel. Toy Story had two sequels and Cars 2 is a sequel, so the very premise is something PIXAR haven't tried before. I love all the characters from Monsters inc and I'd love to see some new ones. Once again, I'm interested what the plot will be. Where will the conflict come from. Surely they can't use a child again?

You may have noticed the title of this post says Anger. And here it is: in 2013, Warner Brothers have proposed that Batman will be rebooted again. A year after the third and final movie from Christopher Nolan. It is in the purpose of having a slightly less realistic Batman for the Justice League, which seems like a stupid movie on its own. Christopher Nolan and Emma Thompson will be producing and looking at evidence of how Nolan is producing Superman, there is still a glimmer of hope for the movie. Despite this glimmer, I want Batman to be left alone. He's had a comedy series, an animated series, a set of movies that were accurate to the comics, a set of movies that were gritty and realistic and now they want to put him in a movie with The Green Lantern and Superman?

I don't want the Justice League. I don't want The Avengers. I want superhero movies to stand by themselves without crossing into other ones. I also want some originality in movies. Stop rebooting Batman, Spiderman, Superman and X-Men and make some new movies.

Like Taken. That movie was awesome.

Talking of Batman, you probably know by know, but the third movie will be called The Dark Knight Rises. Supposedly. Three 'Villains' have been named. Tom Hardy will be super strong, super smart Bane. Joseph Gordon-Levitt will be Alberto Falcone (The main suspect behind the 'holiday killings' in the comics) and Anne Hathaway is Selina Kyle (NOTE: they never say Catwoman. this may or may not be of importance. You know what Christopher Nolan is like.) Many more rumours fly around but that's all we have for now.

A final word from me. I eagerly await news on the Timecrimes American remake. I love the original and expect a huge post about it when they finally release details.

Stick around next week for reviews on:

  • Paul

  • Tangled

  • Unstoppable

  • Rebel Without Cause

  • Bolt

  • Hot Tub Time Machine

  • And more :)

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Winter's Innuendo.

There's always one film nominated for several Oscars that nobody has actually seen. This is often because they're low budget films that didn't get a large release so had a very small advertisement campaign. Often, these films are so under-appreciated and this is an example of such a film getting the recognition it deserves. Winter's Bone.

A film about rednecks. Them fellas from down the southern states of the US of A. But it is so good. 17 year old Rees (Jennifer Lawrence) looks after her two younger siblings and her sick mother since her father is nowhere to be found. This becomes a particularly big issue when he uses their house to pay his bail. If he doesn't turn up to his trial, the family lose the house. This sets Rees on an adventure to find her father. Bumping into many a southern hick, she begins to get into trouble. But she finds help in Teardrop (John Hawkes) who also says that it is likely her father is dead. Either way, dead or alive, finding him will save her family.

Two nominated performances. Hawkes and Lawrence. Let's start with Lawrence. Apparently, statistically, it helps to 'ugly up' for a role if you you would like an Oscar. Jennifer Lawrence does this more than any other nominee. Firstly, in reality, she is stunning. In the movie, she's... well... a redneck. That's uglying up. Plus her performance is captivating. She makes an hour seem like ten minutes. From smart, to violent, to terrified. She does everything and she does it well. Her slightly dark yet inspiring performance is certainly worth the Oscar. Unfortunately, she's not very heard of and therefore unlikely to get it. Hopefully she'll get a gong one day. John Hawkes is also very good and very surprising. It seems, early on the film, like he'll be a real jerk. A typical hick. But he is really touching. Also nominated in possibly the most contested category he stands next to no chance of winning which is a shame. His performance is on of the most varied in the year. His range is stunning. Stunning I say.

As you do.

Generally a very good film. Dark, aggressive but also very touching. It basically encompasses everything. The score particularly stood out for me. Very minimalistic but when it comes in, it blends so well and doesn't make a big deal or slip into cliches. I'm so fed up of dramatic music over mild moments to make them seem dramatic. Really very good. Camera work has glimpses of brilliance but is mostly a little generic.

I actually adore this movie. Further proof that you don't need a lot of money to make a damn good movie. Big budget films are getting repetitive but low budget ones are really stunning (Just look at the hurt locker.) This is really my type of movie.

Best bit? All of it. It's really good.

Ninety Four Minutes.

Claustrophobic films seem to be doing well nowadays. All over the place we see films popping up, mostly horrors, that feed themselves on lonely, isolated and cramped places. We've seen Phonebooth, Buried (Both reviewed on this blog) and now we have Danny Boyle's latest creation. I think I'd have been more content if the movie had've carried on for another 33 minutes. Then it would've been 127 minutes. Guessed the movie yet?

Like many other films that are set almost entirely in a small space and only starring one person, it's not the most difficult of plots. Aron Ralston (James Franco) is a small town man wishing to follow his dream as a guide. He goes out hiking and rock climbing, ocassionally taking a break to help some hot girls enjoy themselves. But all takes a turn for the worse when one boulder slips and traps his right arm. Trying to avoid insanity, Ralston films video messages for his family off his attempts to escape and how his attempt at survival is going. Water starts to run out but there is plenty of urine. With little or no sleep (debates rage as to whether he slept) hallucinations begin to come to light and food runs out as well. Yes, Aron Ralston's experience is a brilliant depiction of hell.

Aron was so drunk he couldn't ride his bike.

Hopefully will be a short review, a lot less out there to discuss. A good movie. Mainly down to Franco's performance. One of the best performances of the year and completely worth it's Oscar nomination. Unfortunately, the other four nominations are also the best performances of the year. In fact, this is one of the strongest acting years for a long time and I'm really struggling to decide on my final decision. But let's talk about Franco. His incredibly subtle performance is stunning. When asked about factual accuracy, Ralston said that the performance was as close to a documantary as it could be but still remain a drama. Rather than going for the over the dop desperation that we saw in Buried earlier in 2010, Franco opted for a calm, mildly disturbing performance that also showed Ralston's boredom. It really is a stunning performance and any other year would be likely to win the Oscar. Will he win this year? Unlikely, but he deserves it if he does. Plus, he's hosting... That may not help him.

Technically it was excellent. Brilliant music and stunning camera work. Danny Boyle is one of my favourite directors and he once again proves himself worthy. If Inception and True Grit weren't nominated, 127 Hours would get the cinematography gong without a doubt. Unfortunately, they are and so 127 Hours is a dark horse here. There are some brilliant songs, particularly If I Rise, which has an Oscar nomination in ANOTHER close category. I See The Light and We Belong Together will give it a close fight. But we shall see soon. My main issue with this movie was the hallucinations and the flashbacks. Sometimes, they were perfect. But there were too many of them and not all of them helped. It came to a point where they just seemed to be put in there to make the movie a decent length.

A really good movie. Sorry for the short post. There isn't a lot to write about in such a short and one manned performance. But see it. It's worth it. Though, one man, claustrophobic movies seem to have a trend when it comes to star ratings on my blog... Hmmmm.

Best Bit? The insanity causing Ralston to create a gameshow. Funny as well as touching.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Gay People Are All Right.

When presenting a modern relationship, movies can often get a bit cliche. Things have to be mixed up in order to create something new, original and unique. Following the success of troubled gay man Harvey Milk in 'Milk' in 2009 in which Sean Penn won the Best Actor Oscar, how about this year we haven a lesbian couple with two kids. Oh, and the sperm donor starts hanging around. But don't worry, The Kids Are All Right.

The premise is rather simple. A gay couple of women Nic (Annette Bening) and Jules (Julianne Moore) have two kids Joni (Mia Wasikowska) and Laser (Jos Hutcherson) who is particularly interested in meeting their biological father. When Joni arranges a meeting, they immediately bond. Slowly, sperm donor Paul (Mark Ruffalo) begins to be invited into the family which cause discomfort with Nic. This is only made worse when Jules starts as Paul's garden designer and begins to spend a lot of time with him. Feeling like she is being pushed out in preference of a father figure in the family, confrontations come to light.

Annette was tired of pretending to love Julianne. She just wanted to finish her wine.

Unfortunately, it's difficult to delve to much into the movie without giving away a lot of spoilers. I mean, there isn't that much to give away, but if you're like me, you like to not know any details about what happens in the film. So I shall restrain myself. The film is good. Not as good as other Oscar nominees but better than, I don't know, anything made by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer. But seriously, it's not the best film to be nominated but still enjoyable. It may sound like I criticise the movie a lot in the paragraph to come, but I promise, it isn't bad. I'll start with the best things. The performances. Two of which are nominated. Bening is up for Best Actress. Does she deserve the gong? In my opinion, no. While she is better than a lot of performances out there, I think the only reason she may get it is due to her numerous nominations in the past with no big wins. She does portray all the emotions that Nic is likely to feel but it all seems a bit mild. In contrast, other nominees like Portman, almost drove themselves to mental and physical torture to do the best damn performance they could. Ruffalo, however, is up for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar and is great. Also a mild performance but so is his character. The calm and collected character who seems to have found what he needs in life. A family. Against such strong competition, I doubt he stands much chance at winning, but he's very good all the same.

All other performances were also excellent. I think it's very unfortunate that Julianne Moore wasn't nominated but already the actress categories have such strong competition. However, I felt she did a better performance than Bening. Both young performers did really well. Wasikowska as the more sensitive and independent daughter and Hutcherson as the 'cool' kid. Wasikowska certainly showed that she has great potential and Hutcherson is showing promise, but still has a way to go.

'The Sofa Musical's' finale number didn't go down too well.

My biggest issue with this film is it all seemed very rushed. It builds up slowly and then all the exciting and tense moments just seem to pass. The ending in particular left me very frustrated. I'm not sure whether it's the screenplay's fault or the directing or whether they just cut a lot out in order to decrease it's running time. I don't know. All I know is, it was very unsatisfying. Perhaps it was just love overcoming all obstacles and all the jazz.... Apart from that, everything else was very average. There was nothing special in the sound, editing or cinematography departments. Generic would be a good word to use.

Like I said, it seems like I'm slating the film but it's one of those times when the few negatives stand out over the many positives. Also, there is a lot of sex scenes. I think there's too many. But still, it's a good film and I recommend it. If you can't tell from the star rating.

Best bit? The dramatic confrontation between Paul and Nic. Best part of Bening's performance and shows that Oscar winning potential.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

I Do Not Know This (Little Golden) Man.

Ah, The Coen Brothers. Very love them or hate them when it comes to directors. Some may dislike their anti-climactic endings but their latest film is sure to satisfy even those haters. Yup, this movie has True Grit... And ten Oscar nominations.

Okay, moving on from cheesy references to the movies title, what's it about? Well Mattie Ross's (Hailee Steinfeld) father is murdered by notorious criminal, Tom Chaney. (Josh Brolin) In search of revenge and to bring Chaney to justice, Mattie hires U.S. marshal, Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) but only after she turns away Texas Ranger LaBoeuf (Matt Damon) because he wanted to take Chaney back to Texas for killing a U.S Senator. Rooster and LaBoeuf make a team and leave Mattie behind to continue the manhunt alone but she soon catches up. Travelling miles of the wild west and encountering gangs and snakes, the group fall out and make up several times but won't stop until they find Chaney.
Have you ever gone to a movie and not known what to expect? Despite Empire's 5 star review and it's Oscar nomination, I had no idea what I was going to get. The Coen Brothers have done it again. They proved they can handle the concept of a Western with No Country For Old Men but True Grit is a modern masterpiece in the genre. A pure western which is something we don't see much nowadays. There isn't a single flaw in the casting. I stand by my opinion that The Coens put more effort into casting every role than any other movie maker. My reason being, even the smallest characters in their movies are perfect. (The shop owner in No Country For Old Men, the horse trader in True Grit)

"Aye aye love"

"Actually, you only have one"

Let's start with the Oscar nominated performances. Jeff Bridges is up for Best Actor again, two years running. He certainly deserves it though. As the drunken, mumbling and merciless marshal, he really shines. He also provides most of the funniest moments. Oh, did I not mention that the film is HILARIOUS? The Coen Brothers' humor just runs throughout the movie. Does kicking immigrants off fences amuse anyone else or is it just me? Bridges is also very quotable. You'll leave the movie saying, "I do not know this man," or, "That didn't pan out." Sounds plain, but see the movie and you'll understand. Should he win the Oscar? If there weren't such strong performances in the category already then I'd say he does. I think he is definitely a strong contender. Winning last year may hurt his chances though... Perhaps someone who hasn't won should have a chance.
This year, age has been no boundary for Oscar nominations. With Bridges at 61 and his nominated co-star, Hailee Steinfeld, who is only 14, True Grit manages to cover the whole age range of the nominees. And boy do they cover it well. Despite being nominated as a supporting actress, Steinfeld is definitely a leading actress; she was put in supporting as it offered her a better chance at winning. She really deserveds the nod. She essentially holds the film. She's quick, witty, brave and mature but she remembers how young her character is and throws in sensitivity, nerves and fear. Definitely one of the best child performances to ever grace the cinema screen. Should she win the Oscar? She should. But she won't. I would love for her to win. She deserves it completely. Unfortunately, there are a few factors in her way. Mainly her age. Children don't win Oscars. Not in such a strong year... Not when you're against big shots like Amy Adams, Helena Bonham Carter and even Melissa Leo. Also, it's her first feature film. Winning on your first feature is very unlikely. Finally, she wasn't a supporting actor. The voters may not like the manipulation of the categories so that she has a better chance.
The film is full of great performances. Some (including me) may say that Matt Damon was snubbed and that he should have got a nod for Best Supporting Actor. Unfortunately, the Academy can't nominate everyone and so we'll have to honor Damon's performance with our memories. His turn as Texas Ranger, LaBoeuf, is funny and dramatic. He goes from fool to hero and back to fool throughout the movie and his character is all the richer for it.
Finally, Josh Brolin. He may not be on screen for very long but in the time that he is, he's captivating. The slightly psychotic criminal known as Tom Chaney, comes to life through Brolin's performance. Perhaps with a bigger part, he may have been nominated for his second Coen Brothers film related Oscar.

Hailee's reaction when she discovered she'd only been nominated for Supporting Actress.

The Big Lebowski. No Country For Old Men. A Serious Man. O Brother, Where Art Thou? Fargo. All brilliant films. Why? Their directors. The Coen Brothers. I've already mentioned how many people dislike them. Personally, I don't see why. They produce masterpiece after masterpiece. I mean, who doesn't like The Big Lebowski? These siblings are so talented. Not only do they direct their movies, the write most of them. All over True Grit is their humour and their subtle touches and it is that that makes it a great movie. However, they've won the Oscar before and therefore are less likely to get it again. Let another masterpiece producer have it. David Fincher anyone?

The cinematography is excellent. Certainly worthy of an Oscar. Prepare to fight with Inception though. The score fits the atmosphere of the action perfectly. Now, readers, a warning. I'm about to embark on a rant about generic things I loved about this movie. Ready? Here I go: The combination of action, comedy and touching moments is so wonderful and so rarely seen nowadays. Speaking of the action, few movies manage to take a historical context such as the wild west and make the fights so exciting. Or make the plot so gripping. Despite long montages of horses travelling across desolate plains, I was still often on the edge of my seat wanting to scream at the screen. Plus I like the locations of westerns. Those infinite landscapes are simply stunning. Okay. Rant over.

Just go and see it.

Best bit? Oh there's so many. I really can't say. Let's just say the best bits made me either want to laugh, cry or shout at the screen. Not many films achieve all three.

Monday, 14 February 2011


If movies could win Best Picture on their ability to tune into a zeitgeist alone, films such as Twilight and Harry Potter would leave the Oscar's very pleased. But they didn't. When a film manages to dissolve a zeitgeist and shows every aspect of it from the nerdy to the awesome, we get something special. So here we have a movie for the internet age. A movie made for everyone who has used a particular website. Anyone who has used The Social Network.

Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) wants to be cool. After being dumped and a host of blog posts later, he creates a website known as Face Mash. It turns out to be a hit and crashes Harvard's servers. This serves as insperation. It also catches the attention of Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss (Josh Pence and Armie Hammer respectively) and Divya Narendra (Max Minghella) who wish Mark to work on their new site, Harvard Connection. A social network site exclusively for Harvard students. More insperation. Mark builds on this idea with his best friend Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garefield) and they create 'Thefacebook.' Believing that their idea was stolen, the Winklevoss twins (or Winklevii) begin taking action, first as 'Harvard Gentlemen' and then they take legal action. Court case number 1. As Facebook grows, now outside of Harvard, Mark and Eduardo begin to drift apart especially when Sean Parker (Justin Timbelake) gets involved. Slowly, Eduardo is pushed out of Facebook and, after his name is removed as co-creator, he takes legal action of his own. Court case number 2. Poor Mark. He never even wanted a profit. He just wanted to be cool.

As the world's youngest billionaire, Mark decided he'd try out his 'early retirement look.'

The film blends perfectly from the 'present day' court cases to the past and history of the famous website. But more on that later. For now, the performances. Only one nominated. Jesse Eisenberg is up for the Best Actor gong but does he deserve it? In a weaker year he may stand a better chance. While his turn as the world's youngest billionaire may, if you're like me, become one of your favourite on screen personas, he lacks something that the other nominated actors have. However, it's still a brilliant show. The fast talking character is a brilliant hybrid of arrogance and self consciousness. His sarcasm and wit give the movie pace and a a level of intelligent humor that so many films lack nowadays. Both Andrew Garfield and Justin Timberlake throw in brilliant supporting performances. Garfield excels as the angry, hurt and probably very jealous best friend. When you consider how close Eisenberg and Garfield are, their dramatic and tension filled, onscreen relationship becomes all the more impressive. Also, if you're not one to think of Timberlake as a serious actor, prepare to be proved wrong. As the super cool Sean Parker, he shows how awesome the world of nerdy computer logistics can be starting with the simple suggestion of one billion dollars.

When one of my favourite directors is behind a film, you can be assured that it'll be a damn good movie. So from the man who made Fight Club and Se7en, what can we expect? Something excellent. That's what. David Fincher provides another excellent film and his most contemporary to date. Before he's dabbled in horror, (Se7en) Dark comedy and thriller (Fight Club) and psychological thriller (the Game) but yet here we are with the always exciting concept of... The Internet! But seriously, this character drama is truly brilliant and it's probably likely to be down to David Fincher's perfectionism. The opening scene alone took 99 takes. Fincher certainly deserves an Oscar. Maybe not for this film but it's now a famous quote that, 'the right people win Oscars for the wrong films.' If Fight Club and Se7en didn't win, surely it's about time Fincher was recognised. We don't want another Stanley Kubrick or Alfred Hitchcock do we?

At Harvard, even the writing paper is glass.

The techno score may not be for all but it suits the technological subject matter that the whole movie is based around. But being modern and techno it may not appeal to a lot of Oscar voters out there but the mixing is excellent. (Oscar perhaps?) The cinematography is good but I wouldn't say it's to the standard of, Inception, Kings Speech or True Grit (Review coming soon) so probably not likely to get the Oscar there. The editing, however is a different matter. As already mentioned, the film easily blends from one time zone to another. Often it manages it perfectly within a conversation. My vote is certainly between The Kings Speech and this for the editing Oscar. The editing Oscar is a famous sign of a best picture winner... Coincidence?

A really excellent film. Funny, emotional and exciting. The characters are compelling and the dialogue is pacy. It has everything a Best Picture winner needs: brains, strong characters, emotion, humour and, of course, an I-can -overcome-all-obstacles story - though not a traditional one. It's such a difficult year to pick a winner. Predictions coming soon. But for the meantime, see this.

Best bit? The sarcasm. The movie drips sarcasm. See below for David Fincher's favourite example.

Gretchen: 18,000 dollars?
Eduardo Saverin: Yes.
Gretchen: In addition to the $1,000 you'd already put up?
Eduardo Saverin: Yes.
Gretchen: A total of $19,000 now?
Eduardo Saverin: Yes.
Mark Zuckerberg: Hang on. [Mark sarcastically adds up the 2 amounts on his notepad]
Mark Zuckerberg: I'm just checking your math on that. Yes, I got the same thing.