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RE: Films of 2011 List - 16/3/2011 11:37:23 PM   
elab49


Posts: 54677
Joined: 1/10/2005
Spoilers for Confessions

Fair does you don't like it, but I'm still struggling to where it can be dismissed as formulaic and what formula you think if follows?

I'm also a bit confused by the ease guns on the internet thing - the problem with Elephant and the tragedies it refers to is these people have guns around the house or walk into any gun market and find them, not the internet. And the key protagonist here built things himself and had a talent for it. He used the internet to upload fake pics and his video. To make fun of the idiots who believed it really. The bomb was more anarchists cookbook stuff - there's even a really really bad film based on that (I really recommend no-one try to suffer through it!).

Personally I didn't particularly see it as a black comedy - Matsu's rage/grief were far too raw for comedy purposes, however black. Nor really a thriller either, with the multiple confession structure, but closer to that as Matsu stays involved. It's not an initial impression I'd have got given the nature of the very long opening monologue.

As a complete disagreement, the camerawork in the film was IMO absolutely nothing like van Sant's work on Elephant. Completely different, absolutely structured there was no attempt to give it a dreamlike randomness.  ( I am a bit of a fan of Elephant too - and the original Alan Clarke work). I'm really looking forward to seeing Confessions again on DVD.

_____________________________

Lips Together and Blow - blogtasticness and Glasgow Film Festival GFF13!

quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


Annual Poll 2013 - All Lists Welcome

(in reply to ElephantBoy)
Post #: 91
RE: Films of 2011 List - 18/3/2011 2:46:58 PM   
Qwerty Norris


Posts: 4010
Joined: 26/10/2005
From: Edinburgh
I've deliberately avoided reading the debate regarding Confessions between you two as I'll be checking it out next week, I'll get my verdict on it and the debate then....

Made a major breakthrough regarding uni work yesterday so I'll be getting those much delayed reviews up soon, might check out the Adjustment Bureau, Submarine & Battle : LA over the weekend as well.....


_____________________________

Qwerty's Top 10 of 2013 (so far)

1. Zero Dark Thirty
2. No
3. A Hijacking
4. Behind the Candelabra
5. In The Fog
6. Good Vibrations
7. McCullin
8. Beyond the Hills
9. The Place Beyond the Pines
10. Wreck-it Ralph

(in reply to elab49)
Post #: 92
RE: Films of 2011 List - 18/3/2011 4:55:29 PM   
ElephantBoy

 

Posts: 8788
Joined: 13/4/2006

quote:

ORIGINAL: elab49

Spoilers for Confessions

Fair does you don't like it, but I'm still struggling to where it can be dismissed as formulaic and what formula you think if follows? I'm also a bit confused by the ease guns on the internet thing - the problem with Elephant and the tragedies it refers to is these people have guns around the house or walk into any gun market and find them, not the internet. And the key protagonist here built things himself and had a talent for it. He used the internet to upload fake pics and his video. To make fun of the idiots who believed it really. The bomb was more anarchists cookbook stuff - there's even a really really bad film based on that (I really recommend no-one try to suffer through it!).

Personally I didn't particularly see it as a black comedy - Matsu's rage/grief were far too raw for comedy purposes, however black. Nor really a thriller either, with the multiple confession structure, but closer to that as Matsu stays involved. It's not an initial impression I'd have got given the nature of the very long opening monologue.

As a complete disagreement, the camerawork in the film was IMO absolutely nothing like van Sant's work on Elephant. Completely different, absolutely structured there was no attempt to give it a dreamlike randomness.  ( I am a bit of a fan of Elephant too - and the original Alan Clarke work). I'm really looking forward to seeing Confessions again on DVD.

Because of the fact that the pace it starts out at is basically the pace it remains at for most of the film, and also because having set up an intertesting story it just doesn't do anything with it. Out of interest what geure would you class the film as? I mean I can see elements of horror in there, but just because of what you mentioned about the extra violence and links with the revenge films.

(in reply to elab49)
Post #: 93
RE: Films of 2011 List - 22/3/2011 1:26:02 AM   
Qwerty Norris


Posts: 4010
Joined: 26/10/2005
From: Edinburgh
Right, only got one done so far, but here goes.....

YOGI BEAR

Whilst I wouldn't go as far as declaring the 60s television cartoon Yogi Bear a classic, it would be fair to say that it did have a kind of offbeat charm to it which I was quite fond of when I was a young lad. I guess then, you could say that this was the reason (the only reason, really) that I decided to view the 2011 make-over.

It really isn't worth getting too worked up about something that only exists to serve the attention span of those under the age of three, but in tribute to the poor mums and dads everywhere who parted with their hard-earned money to sit through this (a full 10 quid for one adult if you needed the 3D glasses as well), along with the idiots like me who led mild intrigue get the better of them – I feel obliged to make a stand of some sort.

Taking direct inspiration from Alvin & the Chipmunks – another popular short cartoon serial expanded into a nauseating feature length, Yogi Bear takes its 2D hand-drawn foundations and mutates it into a live-action romp with a CGI Yogi & Boo running amok, stealing picnic baskets from the hapless Jellystone Park visitors, accidentally ruin a fireworks display (that was set to take place DURING THE DAY – THE BEST TIME TO WATCH FIREWORKS IN A PARK - OBVIOUSLY!!!)and in general make a tit of themselves by dancing away to the likes of "baby got back” & "don't stop believing.”

Yet in spite of this, the CGI pairing voiced by Dan Ackroyd & Justin Timberlake strangely remain the most solid things in this – as it's what occurs on the live action scale that makes Yogi Bear anything but a picnic. Ranger Smith, the villain if you like of the cartoon series but more so in a sort of pathetic way rather than anything sinister, is played to a whimper-ish, "sympathetic” effect by the star of the television series "Ed” Tom Cavanagh – giving Smith a constant fixated state of mild constipation. Whilst Anna Faris, a woman no stranger to being the shining light in a horrible mess, wears a constant state of bewilderment – like she's been drugged to fill the shoes of a sassy documentary film-maker that finds more interest in a turtle with a frogs head, rather than a pair of intelligent, talking bears who can water-ski on two legs – never mind walk!

Yogi Bear's main problem is that it fails even as a passable children's film. There is no colour to the surroundings - Jellystone Park looks like a lifeless plateau of greens and browns that you'll have no interest in exploring, let alone saving. There is absolutely no sense of fun to it either – unless you count the constant gag of falling on your bum as something fun. And everything you see in front of you is cartoonish (and not in a good way), which beggars the question, why didn't they just go the whole hog and animate the lot of it in the first place? It would have saved us some spectacularly poor exposition, whilst the likes of Yogi & Boo Boo could have had some nice places to pick up a picnic basket at least.

Make no mistake, Yogi Bear the live action 2011 reboot is utter rubbish. However it's not what you would call vulgar, it's relatively inoffensive and those under the age of three should find enough in it to enjoy something. If however you value your child's development, you should know a lot better than taking them to this.  

3/10



Will have thoughts regarding Paul, Archipelago & Animal Kingdom tomorrow. Later in the week, expect write-up's for the Adjustment Bureau, Battle : Los Angeles, Submarine & Route Irish.


< Message edited by Qwerty Norris -- 22/3/2011 1:28:00 AM >


_____________________________

Qwerty's Top 10 of 2013 (so far)

1. Zero Dark Thirty
2. No
3. A Hijacking
4. Behind the Candelabra
5. In The Fog
6. Good Vibrations
7. McCullin
8. Beyond the Hills
9. The Place Beyond the Pines
10. Wreck-it Ralph

(in reply to ElephantBoy)
Post #: 94
RE: Films of 2011 List - 22/3/2011 5:56:25 PM   
Qwerty Norris


Posts: 4010
Joined: 26/10/2005
From: Edinburgh

PAUL

For those who have followed them since the days of Spaced, all the way through to the feature-length outings of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz - the re-uniting of Simon Pegg & Nick Frost together again on the big screen would undoubtedly have been a welcome one. But for those anticipating the third part of a kind of trilogy to the previously... mentioned films, think again, as this isn’t part three of the much discussed Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy, no matter how much the marketers of Paul would want you to think otherwise.

This is largely because to start with, Edgar Wright (the man in the director’s chair from all the episodes of Spaced to the big screen outings of Shaun & Fuzz) is not the man at the helm or involved in the script-writing side of things. Greg Mottola, best known for his efforts on the Seth Rogan / Evan Goldberg-penned Superbad as well as the underrated coming of age tale Adventureland oversees proceedings on Paul, whilst Pegg & Frost take charge of the writing side of things. Secondly, unlike those previously mentioned works, our setting is in America’s Midwest rather than the confines of a North London flat or sleepy town in the West Country. And finally, also unlike Shaun & Fuzz – the film doesn’t boil down to the bromance relationship between the double-act, but more so in regards to the relationship they share with one individual – an extra terrestrial named Paul.

And this why the film falters. Those coming into the cinema wanting to see the likes of Pegg & Frost play off each other in a similar way to their previous efforts will be left disappointed. They essentially become side characters in their own film which is anchored by an alien distinctively voiced by Seth Rogan, and that is a problem. We never get an insight into the relationship between the English pairing and they never come across as fully formed characters – something which completely defies anything which they’ve been in together before. Whilst Paul himself displays the problems of using CGI or Capture Motion to flesh out a character. Do it right and you’ll get a fully fleshed creation like Andy Serkis’s Gollum in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Do it wrong and you get a technically-well crafted creation voiced by an instantly recognizable person who you don’t believe for one second is actually there. Paul very much falls into the latter, he never for one minute feels like a genuine presence. He just feels like Seth Rogan who could have easily just walked off the set of Knocked Up, Pineapple Express or the Green Hornet, but just happens to be shaped as a four foot little green man.

Yet Paul’s biggest problem in many respects isn’t its main draw pairing being shoved into the sidelines, or even Paul himself. It’s the fact that it’s got no teeth and no bite. It panders to a mainstream audience and doesn’t push the buttons nearly in the same way as those pressed in the likes of Shaun and Fuzz. And with that the both the comedy and even the heart dilute – something which you could never have accused those other works of.

However, as a mild entertaining spectacle, Paul is perfectly fine in some respects. It maintains a likable charm more or less throughout and those who enjoy their homage’s to all aspects of science fiction from Spielberg to Sci Fi conventions; you’ll be able to find something to raise a smile to (look out for a great reworking of the Cantina music in Star Wars for example). But for those of us with higher expectations, the repetitive gag of someone fainting after being exposed to an extra terrestrial won’t nearly suffice, and ultimately, will leave you wishing that Pegg and Frost would hurry up and get back to work with Wright in developing that long-awaited third part of their trilogy.

5.5/10

_____________________________

Qwerty's Top 10 of 2013 (so far)

1. Zero Dark Thirty
2. No
3. A Hijacking
4. Behind the Candelabra
5. In The Fog
6. Good Vibrations
7. McCullin
8. Beyond the Hills
9. The Place Beyond the Pines
10. Wreck-it Ralph

(in reply to Qwerty Norris)
Post #: 95
RE: Films of 2011 List - 24/3/2011 7:58:17 PM   
ElephantBoy

 

Posts: 8788
Joined: 13/4/2006
Yeah I think that is another good point about Frost and Pegg being almost like support characters in their own film that is a major problem for me too, its like their in the background at times just chipping in now and then.

True Grit (Joel and Ethan Coen 110 Mins) 7.5/10
Pure cinematatic entertainment, in many ways the sort of film Saturday nights at the cinema were made for (even if I didn't go on a Saturday), it is gripping, wonderfully filmed, and with a sharp script with funny lines, and some good jump out of your seat moments. The three lead actors are great, Matt Damon impresses as the sharp talking, cocky Texas Ranger, La Boeuf, by contrast Jeff Bridges doing his bumbling, hamfest trick is a riot (and yes they should have had subtitles), the interaction between the two is great fun, most impressive of all of course is fourteen year old Hailee Steinfeld who just nails the buttoned up, nervouis, yet sharp talking, intellgence of Mattie Ross, she really holds the film together emotionally. The only downfull is the ending, which I thought was dragged out too far, and added closure which was not required. Not top draw Coens, but easily middle-tier.

Never Let Me Go (Mark Romanek, 103 Mins) 8/10
One of the finest films of the year so far. The claustrophobic, tightly framed world of the film is very well realised, the tone is one of very surreally, futurelistic. The drama is slowly built up, with scenes giving the right amount of time to develop, and characters given the space to grow, it is a very engrossing, yet sad and touching experenice, which does stay with you long after you leave the cinema. The cast are good also, espically Keira Knightly who is very icey and brittle, and really amerses herself in the world of the film, it is a vital performance as unlike the other two leads who are both reserved and nutreal, she is the one who really upsets the apple kart, and stands out.

Gasland (Josh Fox, 107 Mins) 7/10
A documentary which sheds light on a shocking case, and does so in a mostly engaging, entertaining and insightful way. Fox is able to connect in a human way with his subjects, while drawing some very intruiging interviews out of the main players responsible, theres a nicely dreamy, earthy look to the visuals and a strong use of music, apart from one clunky moment where a Radiohead track just feels out of place, and over eggs a certain dramatic moment. As clever, and artistic as the director is, he was also my main concern, as I felt too often he became a character in his own documentary, just grabbing the spotlight too much. But very much worth seeing.

Coming up for me sticking on the documentary theme will be Two in the Wave about the relationship between Godard and Truffaut as well as Inside Job, Animal Kingdom, and I might take my life into my handswith Hall Pass

(in reply to Qwerty Norris)
Post #: 96
RE: Films of 2011 List - 26/3/2011 3:21:08 AM   
Qwerty Norris


Posts: 4010
Joined: 26/10/2005
From: Edinburgh
Getting there! Almost caught up with myself!  Here's another three......

ANIMAL KINGDOM

Crime dramas on a whole tend to do the traditional thing of squeezing as much sensationalism as possible out of the events unfolding - whether it's theft, murder, betrayal or something in between these three factions. Consequently it's resulted in a genre of cinema that in recent times has flooded multiplexes and arthouses with tired, unremarkable fare ridden either with cliché or homage's to better works from a previous era. Whilst it doesn't necessarily reinvent the genre, Animal Kingdom in these sterile times is a breath of fresh air – giving a new lease of life to a rapidly fading method of story-telling.

What is really impressive about the tale of a family of petty crooks in the suburbs of Melbourne is its restrained, no-nonsense approach to the grizzly and in some cases shocking incidents depicted in its story. Not one set-piece is played to exploitative or theatrical levels and everything that happens within has a conviction of complete believability – something which is universally problematic with even the very best from Scorsese to the very worst starring Danny Dyer.

The performances by in large are also very impressive. Guy Pearce, easily the most recognizable of the Aussie assemble nails the world-weary detective determined to do the right thing in the best possible way. Jacki Weaver, nominated for an Oscar for her wolf in sheep's clothing persona of Janine, expertly portrays the motherly figure pulling the threads of all the lost souls around her. Yet despite her awards recognition, it's the performance of Ben Mendelsohn that runs away with the film. Having already done sterling work in last year's sublime but little seen Aussie drama Beautiful Kate, Mendelsohn is genuinely terrifying as gang ringleader Andrew 'Pope' Cody, giving a grounded humane believability to his outright dangerous insanity.

However, it's a film not without its problems. The camera work frequently ventures too close to its subjects, making the spaces a little too tight and therefore resulting in something more televisual than cinematic. Whilst the leading protagonist played by newcomer James Frecheville doesn't always convince – his blank canvas approach results in a character difficult to map and as a consequence his performance is occasionally wooden. On the grand scheme of things though, these are relatively minor quibbles in what is undoubtedly a fine addition to both Australian cinema and the crime genre.

7/10



BATTLE : LOS ANGELES


Being a relatively avid gamer, I feel I can speak with a decent level of authority to express the pleasure of playing the highly popular but no less efficient Call of Duty series. As a computer game, the first person shooter manages to capture both the panic and adrenaline rush of being stuck in a diabolical combat-based situation as you play it. However, like any other computer game, watching someone else having a go and enjoying themselves is a different experience altogether - a dull and tedious affair that makes you feel excluded from any developing drama occurring on screen.

That in essence nails the problem with Battle : Los Angeles, which has undoubtedly been inspired both by the enormous success of the various COD instalments, as well as a recent renaissance in mainstream cinema for alien invasion flicks - the crowning achievement being Neil Blomkamp's District 9. Yet, whilst both of those managed to entertain in very different ways, fellow South African Jonathan Liebesman and his $100 million science fiction romp achieves no sense of entertainment whatsoever – unless you count the concept of watching someone else playing a computer game a hoot.

Without question, the vast majority of its narrative plays out like a continuous loop of the Modern Warfare levels -but not the good ones involving the wonderfully-tached Captain Price and the various factions of the SAS.  Battle : Los Angeles in essence, feels like watching someone else playing an endless repetition of levels involving the faceless, personality-free US military who run from one area to another, doing nothing but shoot anything that moves, occasionally explain the threadbare plot to one another and lose a battalion member per location in the process.

This of course would be fine if you either gave a monkeys bottom about any of the poor suckers fighting against our extra terrestrial oppressors or were thrilled by the ongoing carnage on display. In truth however, the beginning twenty minutes of rubbish exposition will, if anything, make you root even more for our alien overlords to crush the moronic imbeciles that we're forced to care about for the films two hour duration. Not that it truly matters however, as aside from Aaron Eckhart's instantly recognizable moody staff sergeant, once everyone straps on their helmets and combat gear you'll instantly forget which of the characters has a pregnant wife, a mental health issue or is simply a grade A bell-end after drinking a few bottles of some well-placed alcoholic product placement.

And then there's the "action.” There's no thrill to the proceedings. There's no "wow” factor. There's nothing memorable or remarkable about any of the set-pieces. There is no sense of drama, of panic, of insanity, of anything being truly at stake. There are plenty of things happening yet at the same time absolutely nothing happens at all. There is never a sense of a world on its knees fighting for its life – just a series of middle of the road sequences that have been done so much better before from the likes of proper ET from hell nonsense such as Independence Day to the paranoid adrenaline-junkie orientated dementia of the Hurt Locker. It attempts to combine the idea of fighting against beings from outer space in a contemporary warfare setting like those of Iraq & Afghanistan (or the Call of Duty : Modern Warfare series), yet only achieves in being both a rubbish war film and a mediocre alien movie – and an expensive one in that! A film whose budget could have funded the cost of four district 9s, two hundred Monsters or god forbid, even ten Skyline's! Once again, Hollywood has excelled itself in wasting a considerable amount of money in a genre that others have managed to create something vastly superior for a fraction of the price.

4/10




ARCHIPELAGO


I have a confession to make. When I went to see Archipelago, I was more than up for disliking it rigorously. The idea of watching a drama about a privileged middle class family on holiday in beautiful, comfortable surroundings squabbling with one another sounded to me like the perfect recipe to experience something truly hateful. Something I was almost relishing in getting the knives out over.

So it's with great credit then to director Joanna Hogg that not only did I come out of it not hating it, but actually found it to be a brilliantly-crafted subtle drama that's already a contender of mine for the best British film of 2011.

It would be unwise to reveal too much in terms of a plot, as the truth of the matter is there really isn't much of one at all and what there is of one is pretty simple at its heart. That will of course no doubt frustrate some who go and see it, but the fact is this is not the films main selling point. That comes in the form of its characters and the way they interact, or in some cases, don't interact with one another. It's a masterclass in observing the stable family unit gradually erode and all the social awkwardness and imperfections that go along with it - all of which is beautifully photographed by Ed Rutherford whose usage of deep focus manages to give real depth and shape to even the most cramped and enclosed of surroundings.

As previously mentioned, this is by no means a film for everyone. The lack of an obvious plot will put some off and it's slow pace may even test some people's patience (in fairness, there is a little too much art musing on display by one specific character), but for those who get a kick out of watching fully-realised and believable human beings interacting with one another on screen, Archipelago will prove to be an unexpected and quietly-realised delight.

8/10


< Message edited by Qwerty Norris -- 26/3/2011 3:27:18 AM >


_____________________________

Qwerty's Top 10 of 2013 (so far)

1. Zero Dark Thirty
2. No
3. A Hijacking
4. Behind the Candelabra
5. In The Fog
6. Good Vibrations
7. McCullin
8. Beyond the Hills
9. The Place Beyond the Pines
10. Wreck-it Ralph

(in reply to ElephantBoy)
Post #: 97
RE: Films of 2011 List - 26/3/2011 6:25:24 PM   
ElephantBoy

 

Posts: 8788
Joined: 13/4/2006
Some great reviews there QN, I think I will give BLA a missed based on your thoughts, your third film is one I really want to see, it has gotten a good critical reponse, and does sound like my sort of thing.

(in reply to Qwerty Norris)
Post #: 98
RE: Films of 2011 List - 28/3/2011 12:03:37 PM   
Groovy Mule

 

Posts: 1098
Joined: 26/11/2005
I have been somewhat remiss in putting up my reviews as I have been very busy with work and it has been hard enough finding the time to go to the cinema but am redressing the balance with more to come:

Limitless dir. Neil Burger (6/10)

I thought I'd enjoy this more.

The premise is a fantastic one.  What if you could take a tablet which makes you a better version of yourself but which comes with unknown consequences.  As high concepts go, this is one which will make you debate around the watercooler, very much like the premise of The Box.  Unfortunately, like The Box, the narrative can't keep up with the premise and ties itself ever further in knots with plot strands that don't quite work.  In one scene, Cooper skips time, seemingly unable to join the dots of what has happened and I felt very much the same in watching this film.  Had I missed something?  Or did the plot have holes strewn across it?

On the positive side, despite the plot flaws, Neil Burger does a good job with the direction, giving it a suitably trippy feel.  His device of colour desaturation and oversaturation (in particular, making the actors more tanned) to show whether a character is on NZT or not is a good one and occasionally Burger directs as if this is Enter The Void-lite.  Clearly, he has been learning visual tricks from Gaspar Noe. 

As Eddy Mora, I found Bradley Cooper a convincing leading man.  This is arguably the first role where Cooper has been the out-and-out lead having previously played in ensemble casts such as The Hangover and The A-Team and he has a charm and swagger about him which suggests that he can make the step-up.  His perfect version of Mora, all white teeth, blue eyes and effortless good looks plays like the hedge fund manager that has it all and Cooper seems to be enjoying himself.  Likewise, he can dress down sufficiently well to make his down and out persona believable.  However, the reliance of the film on Cooper is also its downfall.  There are interesting supporting characters in this film but they are little more ciphers for Cooper, even De Niro struggles to break-out of his shadow.  As Mora's girlfriend, Abbie Cornish is lost unable to break-out from a role which comes and goes to suit the convenience of the script.  I wanted to know more about some of these characters and I can't help but feel that some of those stories ended up on the cutting room floor.

Perhaps as executive producer Cooper got a little ahead of himself and has overpromoted his own performance at the expense of the overall film.  Having said that the film is not a Waterworld or Battlefield Earth, films killed by the hubris of their leading men and it will pass the time.  However, one cannot help but think this could have been so much more.


_____________________________

Check out my movie blog - Box Office Challenge and reviews

http://londonmovieguy.wordpress.com/

(in reply to ElephantBoy)
Post #: 99
RE: Films of 2011 List - 28/3/2011 2:03:10 PM   
ElephantBoy

 

Posts: 8788
Joined: 13/4/2006
This is another one which just seems to me to be instantly forgettable, and like so many other Sci-Fi films around. The new Duncan Jones film Source Code appeals to me far more.

(in reply to Groovy Mule)
Post #: 100
RE: Films of 2011 List - 29/3/2011 7:39:22 AM   
Qwerty Norris


Posts: 4010
Joined: 26/10/2005
From: Edinburgh
quote:

ORIGINAL: ElephantBoy

Some great reviews there QN, I think I will give BLA a missed based on your thoughts, your third film is one I really want to see, it has gotten a good critical reponse, and does sound like my sort of thing.


Yep, don't see it EB - we don't want to encourage them!

And I would like to know what you think of Archipelago as no one else round here seems to of seen it.

Almost up to date now, here's two more reviews!


INSIDE JOB  

There's no escaping it really, life is pretty grim right now. In the UK, we're experiencing the highest levels of unemployment since the good old times of Black Wednesday and the Major years. Internationally, countries across the globe are battling budget deficits and making savage cuts in the process. Whilst businesses and departmental bodies of all sorts whether it's a small family corner shop, a local football club or an arts funding scheme; are closing down, in financial peril or are making drastic overhauls in order to merely survive – never mind flourish. Wages are rubbish yet the bare essentials continue to soar in price. In fact, we're now in a desperately ironic situation where we've never had it so good yet we can't afford to take advantage of that circumstance -we are literally living in a window-shopping based existence.  

But of course, not all of us in the western world are. In fact, a very small minority of us are very much still living and enjoying the high life – many of whom caused this financial catastrophe in the first place. Charles Ferguson's Inside Job is a fitting tribute to those individuals at Goldman Sach's, the Lehman Brother's, Merrill Lynch and countless others who not only escaped prosecution but continue to both run the show and embark on the American Dream at the grotesque expense of others.  

If you've bothered to pick up a newspaper, check out an online article or watch the news in relative frequency over the past three years, there's little in Ferguson's follow-up to No End In Sight (a damning critique on the Bush administration's occupation of Iraq) that will enlighten you further about the events leading up to and following on from the financial crisis that erupted back in September 2008. What it does do brilliantly however is that it manages to condense a deliberately complicated set of circumstances into a coherent and easy to understand structure of events – exposing the disgraceful greed and corruption that's consumed the western world banking system since the rise of Yuppie culture in the eighties right through to both the effects of the crisis and the situation we're in right at this moment in time.   Its other trump card is it's relatively straight-forward set up of talking heads with some of those involved - although we're frequently informed of the considerable numbers who declined to participate. 

This in turn provides Ferguson the opportunity to press those with conflicting interests and whilst not exactly Paxman-like, he certainly achieves a pleasurable degree of consistency in causing panic to spread across the faces of those in question - revealing the absurdities of this obscene situation. In particular, look out for one Frederic Mishkin, who not only made a spectacularly inaccurate conclusion regarding the stability of Iceland's economy which he then tried to correct on his CV in quite a fraudulent manner, but claimed that he left his post at the Federal Reserve in the wake of the crisis to concentrate on a book he was writing!  

Inside Job
is one of those documentaries that whilst cinematic, it never attempts to lose sight of its primary objective which is to inform. For those put off by Michael Moore's exploitative tactics and sensationalist conclusions, this offers a far more balanced and quietly efficient approach to such a damning and appalling situation and if there's any justice on this earth, it'll give those with their heads buried in the sand an alarming wake up call to the daylight robbery those crooks in the financial sector have gotten away with and will get away with again if nothing is done. ..And believe me, if they do, it'll be us that'll pay for it – all over again....  

8/10
   



THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU  

Fate is a funny thing isn't it? Misplacing your keys, walking rather than taking the bus, a chance encounter with somebody and so on and so on can be a bit of a head scratcher sometimes. The idea that even the slightest of incidents (or "adjustments” if you will) can set your day, week; perhaps even your entire life off in a completely different direction to the one you have lived.  

Take me for example. I once spectacularly flopped in a recruitment day for a call centre job by swearing during the session. Out of about ten to fifteen people, I was the only one (I think) that didn't get the job. Naturally I felt pretty stupid at the time, but incidentally, this resulted in me having the free time to work at a friend's live band night the following week to which I then met the woman I would go on to share my life with for the next five and a half years. Just to think, if I hadn't said "it hurt like a bastard”, who knows how different things could have been?  

This in essence is the central idea of The Adjustment Bureau - that every little detail in your life can have a devastatingly dramatic effect on your overall destiny. These details however are determined by a mysterious group of hat-wearing individuals, who go about "adjusting” peoples' lives in order that they follow the correct path to the overall plan that benefits the whole of society. At the centre of this is David Norris, an up-and-coming politician played by Matt Damon, (someone who seems to be a permanent fixture at the cinema this year) whose relationship with Emily Blunt's dancer Elise is of supreme interest to the Bureau – and as a result is what the entirety of the films narrative is based on. In short, it's a love story with high concept science fiction lurking in the background.  

These aspects provide it with both its main strength and its biggest weakness. The bureau and the concept of adjustments, whilst intriguing in some respects, often slips into cliché (the suspicious-looking men in hats and sharp suits) and tedium (the suspicious-looking men in hats and sharp suits -doing a lot of running and chasing) – whilst the exposition, which in fairness is kept relatively constrained for a film of its kind, does begin to heavily test your suspension of disbelief. It's then down to the two-hander of Damon and Blunt to essentially save the proceedings and it's thanks to both their performances and the chemistry they spark between each other that not only prevents the film from falling apart, but gives you some much needed emotional investment.  

In terms of a Philip K Dick adaptation, The Adjustment Bureau is very much on the frothy side of the scale than say the dystopian nightmare of Ridley Scott's Blade Runner on the opposite end - but that's certainly by no means a bad thing. It's hardly what you would consider classic material, but given what frequently passes as entertainment at the multiplexes these days it's nice to see a relatively light and fun commercial entry that doesn't overstay its welcome and has enough ideas, wit and heart to pass a couple of hours on a Friday or Saturday night. The question remains though, do you walk to the cinema or take the bus? After all, you just never know how much of an impact taking one decision or going with the other will make!

6/10



Will have Submarine & You'll Meet a Tall Dark Stranger later this week, will be checking out Fair Game / Limitless, Confessions & Cave of Forgotten Dreams imminently.....

And to round these off for today, my list is up to 20 now. So.......

1. Black Swan - 9/10
2. Never Let Me Go - 8/10
3. Archipelago - 8/10
4. Inside Job - 8/10
5. The King's Speech - 8/10
6. Blue Valentine - 8/10
7. True Grit - 7.5/10
8. 127 Hours - 7.5/10
9. Neds - 7.5/10
10. Animal Kingdom - 7/10

11. Biutiful - 6.5/10
12. Rabbit Hole - 6.5/10
13. The Fighter - 6.5/10
14. The Adjustment Bureau - 6/10
15. Morning Glory - 6/10
16. Paul - 5.5/10
17. Hereafter - 4.5/10
18. Barney's Version - 4.5/10
19. Battle : Los Angeles - 3.5/10
20. Yogi Bear - 3/10


< Message edited by Qwerty Norris -- 29/3/2011 7:48:01 AM >


_____________________________

Qwerty's Top 10 of 2013 (so far)

1. Zero Dark Thirty
2. No
3. A Hijacking
4. Behind the Candelabra
5. In The Fog
6. Good Vibrations
7. McCullin
8. Beyond the Hills
9. The Place Beyond the Pines
10. Wreck-it Ralph

(in reply to ElephantBoy)
Post #: 101
RE: Films of 2011 List - 29/3/2011 9:24:14 PM   
ElephantBoy

 

Posts: 8788
Joined: 13/4/2006
Yeah I am still waiting for Archipelago to show up in Lancaster, it doesn't seem to be on within the next couple of months, might have to seek it out

Should be seeing Inside Job within the next couple of weeks.

(in reply to Qwerty Norris)
Post #: 102
RE: Films of 2011 List - 1/4/2011 3:15:28 PM   
Qwerty Norris


Posts: 4010
Joined: 26/10/2005
From: Edinburgh
Well given they now make up two of the places in my top four of the year so far I can't recommend them any higher! 

Got more uni carnage over the next few days so reviews of Tall Dark Stranger, Submarine & Limitless won't be until early next week. Missed out on Confessions due to time and money whilst Cave of Forgotten Dreams wont be seen until near the end of the month. Hoping to check out Source Code, Sucker Punch & Butterflies & Sunshine next week though.

Can't wait until the 15th, needless to say I'll be doing an obscene amount of cinema visits to make up for it!


_____________________________

Qwerty's Top 10 of 2013 (so far)

1. Zero Dark Thirty
2. No
3. A Hijacking
4. Behind the Candelabra
5. In The Fog
6. Good Vibrations
7. McCullin
8. Beyond the Hills
9. The Place Beyond the Pines
10. Wreck-it Ralph

(in reply to ElephantBoy)
Post #: 103
RE: Films of 2011 List - 2/4/2011 9:39:17 AM   
chambanzi


Posts: 441
Joined: 31/8/2010
Sanctum- Just a bit silly really but just for a Friday night end of week watch it wasn't too bad permitted you don't try and take it too seriously.
6.5/10

(in reply to Qwerty Norris)
Post #: 104
RE: Films of 2011 List - 4/4/2011 12:50:33 AM   
Groovy Mule

 

Posts: 1098
Joined: 26/11/2005
I had an unintentional Anthony Hopkins double bill over the weekend:

You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger (Allen) 6/10

One of the better Allen films of the new century.  Not on a par with Vicky Cristina Barcelona but better than previous inexorable London films such as Scoop or Casandra's Dream and his last film Whatever Works.  Allen is a writer-director who would benefit from more quality and less quantity.  Churning out one new film a year as Allen has been doing makes one wonder how he manages to do it and one can only summise that quality control is lacking.

This is a film where characters speak in non-sequiters, trailing off as if sentences in the script aren't finished.  Some of the actors come off better than others but very few give their best work. Josh Brolin comes off worse.  His troubled writer suffers the most from bad dialogue and unfeasible plot twists. Watching him perving over Frieda Pinto from his window and attempt to woo her is cringeworthy in the extreme.

At the other end of the spectrum is Gemma Jones.  She may also have been given some tin-ear dialogue from Allen but her genuine, touching and occasionally funny performance holds the film together and embues the film with a likeable character.

The comedy is broad, particularly when Lucy Punch and Anthony Hopkins are together and there is little by way of a message in the film but it is not unenjoyable and certainly represents a step-up in quality from other recent Woody Allens.

The Rite (Hafstrom) 3/10

There are arguably more laughs to be had in The Rite than in You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger but those laughs aren't really intentional.  I had not heard good things about The Rite but like a car crash or your mate pulling a minger, some times you just have to see these things for yourself.

Having said that, the first 45 minutes to an hour of this film are quite interesting.  Colin O'Donoghue plays the son of an undertaker who seeks refuge from following his father into the business by seeking to join the priesthood despite lacking faith.  After admitting his lack of faith, he is somehow judged the outstanding candidate to go to Rome and learn to become an exorcist.  Leaving aside the rather binary nature of the set-up (only 2 careers are available, the way in which he ends up in Rome), the set-up is made interesting in the way O'Donoghue's sceptical deacon challenges the way in which priests played by luminaries as Ciaran Hinds and Anthony Hopkins think and gives the film a degree of mystery.

The second half of the film is simply laughable and removes all ambiguity from the film.  Hopkins is clearly relishing his role and sweats ham, shouting and alternating between speaking in tongues and piling on the Welsh accent.  It is ridiculous and dominates the second half of the film.  At the same time, all narrative cohesion flies out of the window as the audience is bombarded with satanic frogs, mules and cats.  As a foil to Hopkins' grandstanding, O'Donoghue is so bland that it only exenuates just how over the top Hopkins is.  Watching him hit small children dressed as the Vatican flasher, it is difficult not to descend to giggles.


_____________________________

Check out my movie blog - Box Office Challenge and reviews

http://londonmovieguy.wordpress.com/

(in reply to chambanzi)
Post #: 105
RE: Films of 2011 List - 7/4/2011 1:24:06 AM   
ElephantBoy

 

Posts: 8788
Joined: 13/4/2006

quote:

ORIGINAL: Qwerty Norris

Well given they now make up two of the places in my top four of the year so far I can't recommend them any higher! 

Got more uni carnage over the next few days so reviews of Tall Dark Stranger, Submarine & Limitless won't be until early next week. Missed out on Confessions due to time and money whilst Cave of Forgotten Dreams wont be seen until near the end of the month. Hoping to check out Source Code, Sucker Punch & Butterflies & Sunshine next week though.

Can't wait until the 15th, needless to say I'll be doing an obscene amount of cinema visits to make up for it!


Wait a minute isn't it oranages and Sunshine? Don't you have cineworld pass? I only ask because i can't image why you would want to watch that Sucker Punch crap otherwise.

Damn you missed Confessions, so you can't tell elab just how wrong she or he is

(in reply to Qwerty Norris)
Post #: 106
RE: Films of 2011 List - 7/4/2011 7:13:55 PM   
Dr Lenera

 

Posts: 4038
Joined: 19/10/2005
Some great reviews here, here's my two cents on the latest films I've seen, two long and two short reviews!


THE EAGLE

The Eagle, which some have already said is an imitation of Centurion, is based on a novel called The Eagle Of The Ninth, which I do distinctly remember reading whilst at school [I was an avid reader then, what happened?], though I don’t remember much about it.  Therefore I couldn’t tell you if The Eagle, the second feature film from Kevin Macdonald, whose The Last King Of Scotland was widely acclaimed though didn’t quite ‘wow’ me, is close to its source or not.  What I can tell you is that it is a solid historical actioner, which fits squarely into the growing list of recent historical movies which empathise the grit and the mud and go for a very realistic approach [i.e.Centurion, Black Death], a trend which was supposedly started by Gladiator but to my mind really got underway with King Arthur.  It’s the antithesis of the approach favoured by many Old Hollywood movies, which often presented a far more romanticised view of Medieval and Ancient history, but this more recent approach perhaps seems more suited to our times.  I love those old epics like Ben Bur, but there is certainly a place for the way films like The Eagle are handled, and it does work pretty well for the most part.

The immediate impression I had was of a Western, but set in Ancient Briton.  At the beginning, you have somebody going to a remote outpost which is like the edge of ‘civilisation’, and the similarities to Dances With Wolves are quite obvious, while later on I was reminded of earlier, related films such as A Man Called Horse!  Opening with two intense battle scenes, the film then seems to almost draw to a halt with some endless chat about honour and patriotism.  Never mind, eventually Marcus’ quest begins and the film becomes the story of a rescue mission, except that of course it’s not a person being rescued but an emblem. The pace is gradual but there is a fair bit of suspense which grows and grows.  Having the Romans speak English and the Picts speak Scottish Gaelic also works-it’s  a nice device.  There’s one superb sequence where Marcus and Esca have found one of the survivors of the Ninth legion, and, as they walk across an area filled with skulls and signs of a fierce battle, he tells of how they were massacred, and we see  quick shots of soldiers falling, blood etc.  There is a real feeling of dread here, aided by some especially eerie music, that borders on horror, and quite a bit of violence does ensure.  This is rated 12A, but honestly, it could have been a 15. As is often the case with the BBFC, they have given a film a lenient rating because it’s ‘historical’[ how I remember walking out at the end of Braveheart shocked at how brutal it was for a 15!] and, although it’s mostly very quick, you do see decapitations, spurting blood and the like. There’s even a bit where a young boy has his throat cut!.

The battle scenes are sadly shot in the way that is the norm now-lots of quick cuts and close ups, so that what is on screen is sometimes little more than a blur.  It’s especially sad here because the staging, or what you can see of it, is really good.  The final battle, though, does have some great aerial shots of the fighting.  Antony Dod Mandle’s cinematography is stunning throughout, evoking a real poetry out of the bleak landscapes, but is most notable in the early scenes, where for once interiors are really dark [just as they should be] because they are lit only partially by the odd candle and daylight coming in through a window.  These scenes almost look as if they were shot using just natural light and almost have a Barry Lyndon look to them.  Another thing I liked a great deal is that Marcus is really quite dislikeable for most of the film, he’s so bound up in things like ‘honour’ and the superiority of the Romans to everyone else , that he doesn’t seem to have much humanity at all.  When he encounters the survivor I mentioned earlier, all he seems bothered by is that he fled a massacre and didn’t stay to fight to his certain death.  He treats Esca like crap, and one thing I couldn’t understand is why Esca is so loyal to him.  Their relationship is handled very well though, with little of the expected sentimentality.  I’ve read of a supposed homosexual element, but I didn’t see it-I’m of the opinion that such things are often only there if you want them to be.

Initially I thought Channing Tatum was rather bland as Marcus, but then it occurred to me that his performance was intentional, since Marcus is quite an empty, hollow guy who wouldn’t dream of showing anything resembling feelings.  Jamie Bell is given the more dynamic role of Esca but is hampered by the inconsistency of the character.  Unlike his previous score for Season Of The Witch, Atli Orvarsson contributes a fine score here, with effective use of unusual instruments and sounds.  When it comes down to it The Eagle doesn’t have quite enough in it to distinguish it from other films of its ilk, but it’s rather more interesting than you might expect and generally a solid effort all round.

7/10




SOURCE CODE

I’m a real sucker for time travel tales, from The Time Machine to Back To The Future, and Source Code, which certainly has a few elements of Twelve Monkeys], is a good one and rings a few interesting changes on the idea.  Then again, during the film one of its character’s says “this isn’t time travel, it’s time realignment”, so maybe a better point of reference would be Primer.  What if a person’s last eight minutes can be recorded from their brain [a variation of a similar theory about eyes]?  What if someone else can, somehow, enter the reality of those last eight minutes, time and time again and can change the past?   This is fascinating stuff, and gets into stuff like alternate realities and time loops.  I love this kind of thing, even if when it comes down to it, it might be all nonsense.   Source Code is the second movie to come from Duncan James, whose Moon wowed many critics though left me a little cold, as impressive as it undoubtably was.  No chance of that with Source Code though, which may start off as a mind bendy science fiction thriller but along the way turns into something very emotionally involving, something which really surprised me.

We are thrown into the story headlong, with us witnessing the first of Colter’s mission ‘attempts’.  He finds himself on the train in someone else’s body, the woman opposite thinks he’s someone else, and the bomb goes off.  People not knowing anything about the film’s plot beforehand probably wouldn’t have a clue as to what is going on, and I really admired the cheek of writer Ben Ripley here.  It is only after this that we have the mission ‘briefing’, which is obviously holding back information which we will find out, in bits and pieces, later on.  After this the movie turns into something like a cross between Quantum Leap [there's even a cameo by Scott Bakula though it's very easy to miss!], Groundhog Day and any one of a million movies where there’s a bomb on a moving vehicle and it has to be found!  The first few ‘mission ‘segments are very repetitive and consist mainly of Colter thinking various people are the bomber when they actually aren’t, in scenes which have an element of black humour to them, but things eventually get really interesting.  Events are changed more and more, the pace accelerates, and things seem to build to a big action climax……….which doesn’t happen.  This is a brave choice, and instead we are treated to a really moving father/son conversation [not for the first time in a recent movie] and a climax which resolves around the simple switching off of a life support machine [these are hardly spoilers by the way, there are so many plot elements in this movie which I haven’t gone into] and some ‘living for the moment’ stuff which may seem like sentimental hogwash to some but actually brought me to tears.  It’s possible that this happened because I expected nothing of the sort from this film, but then I can be a really soppy sod when watching movies.  There is a freeze frame, and you will probably think “what a perfect way to end Source Code, so sad and yet so happy”………..

Except it doesn’t quite end, we go into another twist and an ending which is just cheesy ,the kind of rainbow and sunshine ending that so many Hollywood films feel they have to inflict on us even if it’s unsuited to the film.  Maybe it was as a result of test audience screenings, or maybe I just didn’t understand it, but it left a sour taste in my mouth, especially when it seemed to end perfectly a couple of minutes before.   Aside from a few plot holes, which in this kind of movie may not be plot holes at all anyway, and some rubbish CGI during some of the train explosions [I don’t know about  you, but CGI appear to be getting worse, not better], the one major niggling thing I had about Source Code is that I wished the  whole science behind the whole ‘Source Code’ premise had been explained a little more.  Now I often like movies that leave a great deal unexplained, but I feel that this one could have benefitted from a little more detail.  I kept expecting either of Colter’s two superiors to just go into that little bit more detail, just enough to stop my brain from working overtime and trying to work things out in my mind rather than focusing on the action on screen, which is what it should have been doing more of.  Overall though Ripley’s screenplay is very impressive, it’s  very good at revealing things about characters quickly without being too obvious about it, and I liked how towards the end I was made to feel a great deal of sympathy for Colleen Goodwin, who initially one was meant to really dislike.

James’ direction is superb here, tightly controlling the pace of the film and not feeling the need to dazzle us with fancy graphics, in fact there’s a real ‘old school’ feel to this movie, aided by Chris Bacon’s score, which is immediately reminiscent of Bernard Herrmann without actually copying him.  Up to now Bacon has only been an assistant on film scores but he’s a film composer to watch.  Now I’m going to say now that I’ve never really ‘got’ Jake Gyllenhaal, he’s always seemed to me to have a face that is more suited to Jim Carrey/Adam Sandler-type clowning around than anything else, though perhaps some of this might be that, except for maybe Zodiac, I’ve never been satisfied by a film that he’s starred in, and that includes Brokeback Mountain and Donnie Darko.  However here, he’s totally convincing in a role where he has to learn new revelations not only his mission but about himself in every other scene, and his chemistry with Michelle Monaghan, as Christina, is a joy to watch.  There is no real romance between their two characters, there isn’t time [though at one point I did wonder if Colter was going to do what many men would probably try to do and really ‘try it on’ with her because, in the manner of Groundhog Day, it doesn’t matter what the end result is when he can try it all over again soon!] but the two actors do a really good job of showing feelings for each other develop in a very subtle way. I’d love to see these two in another movie together.  In the end, coming away from Source Code I’m left with more of a sense of the fragility of human existence and how life must be enjoyed because it could end at any time, rather than action and things like ‘time continuums’, and I found this very satisfying indeed.

8/10




SUCKER PUNCH

The trailer for Sucker Punch promises a rather dark, menacing opening section followed by an hour and a half or so of women looking cool kicking arse in fantastical surroundings, and that's pretty much what the movie delivers.  Despite being mostly set inside the main character's head, and featuring two levels of dream state, it's no Inception [though it did remind me of Brazil in parts] and isn't really any more sophisticated than a Resident Evil or a Charlie's Angels movie.  The action, with the girls battling anything from zombie Nazis to demon Samurai, has a relentless quality which is pretty thrilling, but it is sometimes undone by bad CGI.   Two segments-a WW1 battle with zeppelins and planes, and a fight with robots on a train, have such inept CGI that the film looks like a cartoon….which would have been okay if Sucker Punch was supposed to be a cartoon.  Nonetheless Snyder is brave enough to finish the film with a downbeat ending and a low key wind up of the story rather than a spectacular climax.  I will say I was appalled at the film's '12' certificate-the amount of violence against women, both mental and physical, is very strong, and the whole film does have a sleazy feel which I wouldn't have minded so much if it had been given a higher rating. Overall Sucker Punch is, for much of its running time, a load of fun, and has a great soundtrack with surprisingly good cover versions of tracks by Annie Lennox, Bjork, Jefferson Aeroplane and others.  Snyder's become one of the few directors today who uses pop music well in films-I loved the way each dream segments have an individual song which serves as each section's theme.
7/10




LIMITLESS

What if we are only using a small percentage of our brain and we are not using it to its full potential? Those are the fascinating questions posed by Limitless, which is actually a little reminiscent of Phenomenon and even Charly.  Also fascinating is the idea of a drug which unlocks the parts of the brain which are not being used or used fully, and Limitless, for most of its running time, is an interesting variant on a rags to riches story.  The film moves at a very fast pace and is rarely dull, the moments when Eddie comes up on MDT are cleverly but subtly indicated by everything getting a little brighter, and there is a great sequence about half way through where he seems to speed through 36 hours and we witness a montage of random events and some terrific point of view shots of Eddie's mind speeding through the city.  However, the film falters as it tries to add a bit too much to the proceedings, such as a very suspenseful but out of place chase in Central Park, and winds up with typical action stuff and a pat happy ending.  I would have preferred things to have got more surreal and trippy, and maybe to have shown Eddie really 'losing' it to the drug, but that's just me.  With its pounding techno score from Paul Leonard and Nico Muhly, Limitless at times looks, feels and sounds like a Danny Boyle film, but seems to lack the outstanding performances his films usually have –leading man Bradley Cooper is just adequate and no more as Eddie, but look out for a very touching extended cameo by Anna Friel.  This is an enjoyable night out at the picture no doubt and will certainly hold your attention, but just plays it a bit too obvious and safe considering its premise.
7/10





_____________________________

check out more of my reviews on http://horrorcultfilms.co.uk/

(in reply to ElephantBoy)
Post #: 107
RE: Films of 2011 List - 9/4/2011 5:31:51 PM   
Qwerty Norris


Posts: 4010
Joined: 26/10/2005
From: Edinburgh
quote:

ORIGINAL: ElephantBoy


quote:

ORIGINAL: Qwerty Norris

Well given they now make up two of the places in my top four of the year so far I can't recommend them any higher! 

Got more uni carnage over the next few days so reviews of Tall Dark Stranger, Submarine & Limitless won't be until early next week. Missed out on Confessions due to time and money whilst Cave of Forgotten Dreams wont be seen until near the end of the month. Hoping to check out Source Code, Sucker Punch & Butterflies & Sunshine next week though.

Can't wait until the 15th, needless to say I'll be doing an obscene amount of cinema visits to make up for it!


Wait a minute isn't it oranages and Sunshine? Don't you have cineworld pass? I only ask because i can't image why you would want to watch that Sucker Punch crap otherwise.

Damn you missed Confessions, so you can't tell elab just how wrong she or he is


Butterflies & Sunshine?!? What the hell was going through my head that day!

Going to get some reviews later up tonight, otherwise I'll never get them done. Just the six to do....




_____________________________

Qwerty's Top 10 of 2013 (so far)

1. Zero Dark Thirty
2. No
3. A Hijacking
4. Behind the Candelabra
5. In The Fog
6. Good Vibrations
7. McCullin
8. Beyond the Hills
9. The Place Beyond the Pines
10. Wreck-it Ralph

(in reply to ElephantBoy)
Post #: 108
RE: Films of 2011 List - 11/4/2011 1:48:19 AM   
Qwerty Norris


Posts: 4010
Joined: 26/10/2005
From: Edinburgh
I'll attempt actual reviews later on, but uni's just a bit much right now. In summary.....

SUBMARINE

Extremely cinematic yet suffers a little from sharing an awful lot with Wes Anderson both stylisitcally and in tone. Nice debut from Ayoade though....
-7/10

YOU'LL MEET A TALL DARK STRANGER

Another year, another mediocre Allen film. Not nearly as awful as the abysmal 'Whatever Works' however so I guess that's a good thing.
-4.5/10

LIMITLESS

A decent sci fi premise that loses sense of where it wants to go after the first thirty minutes, then it goes all over the place.
-5/10

SUCKER PUNCH

Technically shrewd but preposterously stupid. No brain required.
-4.5/10

SOURCE CODE

Not as masterful as Moon but a fine entry to the growing back catalogue of Jones who seems to be sharing the quality of Christopher Nolan of making ideas-based films with crowd-pleasing appeal. The best Science Fiction film of the year so far and I'll definitely do a more in-depth review for this one....
-8/10

ORANGES & SUNSHINE

You feel a lot of the material here would almost be better served cinematically as a documentary and it occasionally ventures towards TV drama, but it's well constructed in a narrative sense and the performances are universally great. A decent debut from the son of Ken.
-6.5/10


_____________________________

Qwerty's Top 10 of 2013 (so far)

1. Zero Dark Thirty
2. No
3. A Hijacking
4. Behind the Candelabra
5. In The Fog
6. Good Vibrations
7. McCullin
8. Beyond the Hills
9. The Place Beyond the Pines
10. Wreck-it Ralph

(in reply to Qwerty Norris)
Post #: 109
RE: Films of 2011 List - 16/4/2011 9:33:27 PM   
ElephantBoy

 

Posts: 8788
Joined: 13/4/2006
Two in the Wave [Emmanuel Laurent, 91 Mins] 7.5/10
A truly inspireally look at the develpment of the French New Wave, and the humble beginings of its leaders Jean-Luc Godard and Francois Truffaut, some of their key works, the directors who inspired them, and the break up of the friendship. It serves as in tense hour and an half of film study, as well as a celebration of those who dedacate their lives to sitting in the dark, and obesess over all things films. It plays out slowly like a cripping film noir, and is beautifully stylish and well researched. One of the highlights of the year so far, and one I shell return to.

Inside Job [Charles Ferguson, 108 Mins] 6.5/10
At times it felt as if this documentary was made by the sort of person who actually features in it. Parts of it felt very superfincal and flashy. The use rock music, and sharp cuts from talking head to talking head, as well as the use of graphs to state facts are rather lazy, and don't work as dramatic devices. However it does gather weight as it moves along, and the scenes where the leading figure are questioned and made to look like fools are quite telling, and in the end it does achive the kind of chilling atmosphere and anger of something like Eron, even if it lacks that films focus and consistancy. Matt Damon is both a destraction, but also a force as the narrator. By the end I came to the conclusion that bring these sorts of characters to light in such a way was a positive thing.

Scream 4 [Wes Craven, 110 Mins] 4/10
Can't say this was terrible, just very lazy and uninspiring. The open scene was quite a novel idea, and there is a idea near the end of killers as celebries, these moments aside the film just lacks any edge, isn't scary and just repeats most of the same routines from the first two films. Also they lose the edge of Woodsboro as a small creepy little town, here it is all brightly lite, and the teens come across as smelly 90210 cast offs, to make matters worse the acting is really bad, there is too much blood to make any impact, the big scenes are dragged out way too far, and there the script is overally obsessed with modern techongy and phases, I didn't believe in any of the characters. It had one or two good jumps, and wasn't the disater I was expecting, but really not good enough.

Red Riding Hood [Catherine Hardwicke, 100 Mins] 5.5/10
Given the story, the director and leading star this was a huge let down. Seyfried was miscast as the repressed teen and isn't given enough to do anyway, and they just turn the story into another Twilight style fable without adding anything to the text, or investing in character or plot. The male leads are very bland, and so make it hard to care which one the lead character ends up with. Gary Oldman with a very strange acent is very good fun as the camp villian of the piece, and the lush landscapes, dramatic music and bright colour scemes are all very effective. But the film as a whole is just too dull, and lucking in magic or emotion.

Coming up I will be seeing Animal Kingdom, Howl, Cave of Forgotten Dreams and Russell Brand's reboot of Arthur.

(in reply to ElephantBoy)
Post #: 110
RE: Films of 2011 List - 18/4/2011 7:20:05 PM   
jiraffejustin


Posts: 483
Joined: 29/3/2011
The Sunset Limited - I can see how this won't be enjoyed by some, the whole movie is Samuel L. Jackson and Tommy Lee Jones talking, but I really enjoyed this film. 9/10

Eric & Ernie - 8/10

Rango - 7/10

(in reply to ElephantBoy)
Post #: 111
RE: Films of 2011 List - 18/4/2011 9:11:18 PM   
Dr Lenera

 

Posts: 4038
Joined: 19/10/2005
SCRE4M
God how times have changed!  Upon its release in 1996, the original Scream had to be cut in the US to get an 'R' rating and received an '18', as did it's tamer sequels, in the UK.   This long –awaited [or not, the series was originally going to finish with the third film] fourth instalment, despite being easily the bloodiest and most brutal of the films,  gets it's 'R' rating with no trouble and then a '15' over here!   With loads of murders, gallons of the red stuff splashing around and a killer who seems especially vicious, Scre4m has a nastier edge to it than the other films and even a slight old-school slasher feel.  Director Wes Craven has clearly got his mojo back and delivers a tremendous series of stalk and slash sequences, while presenting just the right about of plot in-between.  Things build to two tremendous climaxes in a barn converted to a cinema and a house, but sadly, just when it should have rightfully ended, we are presented with another climax, in a hospital which doesn't quite work, though apparently it was the studio that was mainly responsible for this.  The mystery is fairly well done [I didn't guess much at all], though scriptwriter Kevin Williamson does seem to copy lots of things from the first three movies.  What really lets Scre4m down for me though is one of the things that many people love about these films-the plethora of 'post-modernist' references to horror films, which annoy the hell out of me and almost take me out of the films,while not being anywhere near as clever as they think they are.  This one opens with a dissing of torture porn, has lots of tedious dialogue about reboots and the like, and ends with an incredibly cheesy cry of "you know what the first rule of a remake is-don't f*** with the original”.  Yuck!  Nonetheless, for the most part Scre4m is so enjoyable that it's possible to ignore much of that [or at least cover your ears] and even I admit I loved the brilliant sequence involving two police men that combines humour and gory horror in a really great way.   I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Scre4m, which generally delivers a great audience-pleasing ride of thrills and spills, and may very well be the best of the series.
7.5/10



RIO
Rio is a perfectly enjoyable animated movie that just lacks that something extra, but is definitely far more entertaining than the dull Tangled and the grating Rango.  The basic plot is none too original, while the jokes don't always work as well as they should [and how many of these films end with all the animals dancing to a song?].  The love story at the centre of the film though,  whilst not at all original-there's yet another variant of the 'Kiss The Girl' sequence from The Little Mermaid- is very sweet, and though the tone is generally quite light, the story expertly mixes in things like animal trafficking, child labour and poverty without overdoing it.  Director Carlos Saldanha, who also co-wrote the film, gives a very balanced view of his native city.  Visually the film is stunning, making the most of the colour and vibrancy of Rio De Janeiro, whilst the bossa nova and samba-orientated songs, whilst somewhat forgettable after seeing the film, perfectly match the visuals.  Add in some great action scenes, such as a wonderful flight over a beach and a climax set in the carnival, and you have a solid effort that will please the kids and certainly not bore the adults, though as said before it's just a little lacking in the spark that distinguish most of Pixar's and Dreamworks' CG animated movies, not to mention Blue Sky's first movie Ice Age.
7/10



THE ROOMMATE
Basically Single White Female for the teen set, The Roommate isn't very good, but it's not especially bad either, it's just dull and stays at the same level of dull mediocrity throughout, bar one or two effective suspense sequences [there's a great one in a shower], and several times, just when you think it's about to take off it grinds to a halt.  There's a real timidity about the film, which, considering what you often get in '12' rated films nowadays, could probably have been a '15', it's so tame.  Of course this would still be okay if the film was going for a more psychological approach, but writer Sonny Malhi's by the numbers script is both obvious and stupid, and having thought up a reasonably interesting psychopath, he then doesn't have a clue what to do with her ["o how do I make her more strange and scary?  I'll make her a lesbian!”].   Leighton Meester and Minka Kelly do okay in their roles,while John Frizzel's music works overtime in trying to create suspense and excitement [such as during a lengthy sequence at Kelly's parent's house which seems to be building up to something which never happens] when there is little of those two things.  There's not much that is especially bad in this movie, but it all just reeks of blandness and compromise. This is a shame, because there was a great deal of potential here.
4/10

< Message edited by Dr Lenera -- 18/4/2011 9:15:14 PM >


_____________________________

check out more of my reviews on http://horrorcultfilms.co.uk/

(in reply to jiraffejustin)
Post #: 112
RE: Films of 2011 List - 19/4/2011 10:53:51 AM   
Spider


Posts: 2078
Joined: 30/9/2005
Just realised I haven't started this yet. Safe to say, what with finishing my undergraduate this year, it's been a fairly quiet year at the cinema. All done in a month though so hopefully I can catch up with all the stuff I've missed on DVD!

1. Black Swan (9/10)
2. The King's Speech
3. The Fighter
4. Animal Kingdom

5. The Adjustment Bureau (8/10)
6. True Grit
7. 127 Hours
8. Brighton Rock

9. Source Code (7/10)
10. Never Let Me Go

11. Paul (6/10)
12. The Next Three Days
13. The Green Hornet
14. Biutiful
15. Ironclad
16. Blue Valentine

17. Hereafter (4/10)

18. Season of the Witch (3/10)

_____________________________

Rudi Manchego's Simple Rustic Wisdom:
If you look at a pebble, you will see your own face

Howard Moon: Fusion Minstrel Vince Noir: Gothic Fairy. The Boosh is Loose and it's coming at you like a shark with knees!

(in reply to Dr Lenera)
Post #: 113
RE: Films of 2011 List - 19/4/2011 3:34:13 PM   
ElephantBoy

 

Posts: 8788
Joined: 13/4/2006
opps forgot one in my last round up

Source Code [Duncan Jones, 93 Mins] 8/10
A brilliant web of ideas, with a number of genres smoothly blanded into one film. Jack Gyllenhaal gives his most complex and engaging performance in quite sometime, fully getting across the confussion and despration of his character, and while being a believeable action star he clearly shows a more sensitive side. Vera Farmiga and Michelle Monaghan add depth in difficult roles. Unlike Jone's debut Moon this does deliver on set pieces, but only has the explosive scenes at points in the film where they really count. The highest complimant I can pay the film is that you engage in the relationship between Colter and Christina, and no matter how improbably it might seem are pulling for them by the end. One of the highlights of the year so far and one I will be returning to many times, not just for good entertainment, but for ambition and how it pushs the elevlope.

(in reply to elab49)
Post #: 114
RE: Films of 2011 List - 19/4/2011 8:57:39 PM   
Qwerty Norris


Posts: 4010
Joined: 26/10/2005
From: Edinburgh
quote:

ORIGINAL: Qwerty Norris


SOURCE CODE

The best Science Fiction film of the year so far and I'll definitely do a more in-depth review for this one....




I've just realised that given Never Let Me Go is currently placed second, this is a bit of an inaccurate statement.

Still, one of the best science fiction films of the year so far...

Glad you both liked it Elephant Boy & Groovy Mule - fine reviews.

After what seems like ages, I'll be returning to cinema trips tomorrow. A lot of fairly dodgy-looking stuff out at the moment so not sure what I'm going to go with first.....


_____________________________

Qwerty's Top 10 of 2013 (so far)

1. Zero Dark Thirty
2. No
3. A Hijacking
4. Behind the Candelabra
5. In The Fog
6. Good Vibrations
7. McCullin
8. Beyond the Hills
9. The Place Beyond the Pines
10. Wreck-it Ralph

(in reply to Qwerty Norris)
Post #: 115
RE: Films of 2011 List - 20/4/2011 8:25:17 PM   
ElephantBoy

 

Posts: 8788
Joined: 13/4/2006
Not a lot in it for me, but I would put SC just ahead of NLMG, but both are amongst my highlights of the year so far.

(in reply to Qwerty Norris)
Post #: 116
RE: Films of 2011 List - 29/4/2011 7:27:47 PM   
Qwerty Norris


Posts: 4010
Joined: 26/10/2005
From: Edinburgh
Okdoke, time to start playing catch-up. A lot of the reviews aren't that indepth but if I don't put something down I'll never be up to date!

RIO

After what seems like an eternity of being subjected to the god awful orange advert that contains the film in question preceding most cinema screenings in the UK, hopes for Rio (the latest from the team who gave us Ice Age & its two sequels) weren't exactly sky high. So it's a nice surprise then to learn that not only is it not as terrible as the excruciating commercial, it's actually quite nice.

There are still some undesirable aspects (do we really need so much celebrity name-checking and animal hip-hopping?) and the plot borrows a number of things from better fare (look out for nods to the likes of Dumbo & the Little Mermaid amongst others), but in the hands of Brazilian native Carlos Saldana the world of Rio is affectionately constructed and put appropriately, is a love letter to Rio de Janeiro – with all its good and bad aspects entailed respectfully (Dr Lenera - I noticed too and completely agree with the observations on child labor, poverty and animal trafficking).

Of course, it is not a piece that's going to be deemed significant in the history of animated cinema and it won't seriously trouble the likes of Pixar (although with Cars 2 due in the cinema – you never know), but it succeeds in being a cute, colourful and solidly-made creation that's beautifully animated, performed well and has enough in it to give kids and adults alike a solidly entertaining hour and a half.

-6/10



SUBMARINE


Films about or set in the world / mindset of a teenager are extremely difficult to pull off at the best of times. Too often they appear to frequently fall into the trap of displaying their subjects either as sex-crazed adolescents or naval-gazing loners. There never really seems to be that much in between.

Richard Ayoade (better known as Moss in the IT Crowd, as well as the director of some Arctic Monkeys videos and the absurdly brilliant TV series Garth Marengi's Dark Place), attempts to address that balance, but try as he can it still lurches into the trappings of the latter - which in itself isn't necessarily a bad thing and is quite probably the point. However, if you want to see a teenage creation that's something more than a lonely figure wrapped up in their own existentialism then you'll probably be left a little bit disappointed.

More problematic however is the fact that the tone and a lot of the stylistic choices of Submarine owe a severe debt to the work of Wes Anderson – specifically his second feature Rushmore. From the title sequence and the lo-fi soundtrack to the actual physical representation of Oliver – there are reminders of Max Fischer and his eccentric outlook on life everywhere. If you want to be harsh, Submarine a lot of the time feels like a tribute to the films of Anderson rather than being an actual standalone voice of its own.

But these issues don't necessarily mean that it doesn't work. For starters it looks absolutely wonderful – giving the backdrop of Swansea a real-cinematic flair that's visually arresting for virtually the entire duration. The cast are also spot on; with relative newcomer Craig Roberts giving Oliver the right dead-pan approach whilst the likes of Sally Hawkins, Paddy Considine and Noah Taylor provide able support. It's also a film that appears to have a period setting, yet never reveals a specific time which adds to the offbeat charm and the self-contained world the film inhabits.
Through the technical aesthetics of Submarine, Ayoade has clearly displayed that he is a director with considerable talent and there's every chance he'll create some outstanding features in the future. Contrary to much critical opinion however, this isn't quite one of them.

-6.5/10




LIMITLESS

A decent science fiction feature that for once gives Bradley Cooper something to do other than stand about and make the jaws of admiring ladies smack the floor. Given its relatively singular idea however, it struggles to develop coherently where it should go after the first thirty minutes and consequently branches out all over the place – taking in different and meandering subplots from all sorts of directions where few of them leave a satisfying impression. Solid enough pop corn entertainment but would have worked a lot better as a Twilight Zone / Outer Limits episode as opposed to a feature length film.

-5/10



YOU WILL MEET A TALL, DARK STRANGER

Another year and  again, another mediocre Woody Allen release puts great strain on the quality of his back catalogue. YWMATDS continues his recent trend of shooting outside the states (aside from last year's utterly atrocious Whatever Works) and is the fourth to be based in London after Match Point, Scoop & Cassandra's Dream. Like a lot of Allen work it's an assemble piece detailing the lives of fairly privileged miserable people having relationship woes and dealing with them accordingly – all of which is over-arched by a certain theme. In this case it's essentially about unfulfillment – the idea that you never quite get what you want in life no matter how hard you try.

Which is kind of ironic really as no matter how hard the talented cast try, you the viewer will be left unfulfilled. You will fail to be moved, intrigued or care about this collection of "characters”– resulting in a tedious, over-long experience which is incredibly tired in its approach – largely as it's the sort of thing Allen has done again, again and again for decades. I'm not advocating for giant robot battles, vampires and superheroes to be in his films; but it'd be nice to see something different for a change rather than an annual rehash of the same thing he's done countless times before. Not bone-crushingly awful but strictly for Woody devotees only.

-4/10


< Message edited by Qwerty Norris -- 29/4/2011 7:29:31 PM >


_____________________________

Qwerty's Top 10 of 2013 (so far)

1. Zero Dark Thirty
2. No
3. A Hijacking
4. Behind the Candelabra
5. In The Fog
6. Good Vibrations
7. McCullin
8. Beyond the Hills
9. The Place Beyond the Pines
10. Wreck-it Ralph

(in reply to ElephantBoy)
Post #: 117
RE: Films of 2011 List - 3/5/2011 8:55:57 AM   
Groovy Mule

 

Posts: 1098
Joined: 26/11/2005
Am miles behind on my reviews (and film viewing for the past few weeks) due to work but one I saw over the Bank Holiday weekend below that I want to review:

Pina 3D (Wenders) 3/10

I know that I have never been a fan of 3D and only begrudingly will I see a 3D film however I went in wanting to like Pina and had been led to understand that it was a film designed to use 3D and therefore, would be better as a result.  I disagree but the 3D was not necessarily the reason the film failed.

If you went to a Pina Bausch museum or retrospective exhibition and this film was what you got at the end, you'd probably be quite pleased but as a piece of cinema, it is disappointing.  This is less documentary and more museum piece.  The talking heads are fawning and insipid.  There is very little insight in these as they spend most of their time saying how much they enjoyed dancing with Pina Bausch or for Pina Bausch.  They also serve to break up the flow of some of the performance pieces.

As for the performance pieces themselves, I must confess that having seen the film, I doubt I will be going to any live performances of Bausch-choreographed work.  The style of dance is staccato in rhythm and surprisingly repetitive in its steps.  Repetitive in fact to the point of irritating and irritating to the point of disinterest.  The 3D operates to give depth to the stage for the staged performances but adds relatively little to the performances themselves.  The outside performances are brief and cut up by talking heads and where I had been led to believe that the film would be mostly outside performances, this was not the case, at least not for the first hour, and this made the film oddly static.

If you are a fan of Bausch and her choreography, no doubt you would be swept away on this film but for the casual viewer or those lured to film (as I was) on the strength of the trailer and the buzz, it's hard not to feel disappointed by the result.  Somewhere a museum is missing an artefact.


_____________________________

Check out my movie blog - Box Office Challenge and reviews

http://londonmovieguy.wordpress.com/

(in reply to Qwerty Norris)
Post #: 118
RE: Films of 2011 List - 3/5/2011 2:35:58 PM   
ElephantBoy

 

Posts: 8788
Joined: 13/4/2006
Well I won't give away my hand too much as I have seen Pina and will be reviewing it in my next update, but I must say even taking into account the possible flaws you mentioned, it still seems very harsh to me to only give it 3/10! Maybe partly because it did work on a cinemantic level for me, but maybe there are further questions to be asked of it as a documentary or even a film.

(in reply to Groovy Mule)
Post #: 119
RE: Films of 2011 List - 3/5/2011 8:46:48 PM   
Dr Lenera

 

Posts: 4038
Joined: 19/10/2005
BEASTLY

Wealthy, handsome teenager Kyle Kingson has everything a teenager could want in life, but is also arrogant.  When he invites his misfit classmate Kendra to a rally then spurns her, the girl, who is actually a witch, casts a spell on him and turns him into an unsightly creature who repulses everyone he meets.  The only way to reverse it if for him to find someone who can love him for who he is on the inside.  He saves a drug addict and says he’ll protect him as long as his lovely daughter, Lindy, comes to live with him in his sprawling home……


The story of Beauty And The Beast has been a great source of inspiration for many writers and filmmakers over the years.  Aside from the many direct adaptations, the two best of which are probably the French La belle et la bête [1946] and the Disney  animated version from 1991, there have been countless tales, from The Phantom Of The Opera to King Kong, which draw from the concept.  I certainly haven’t seen all the direct adaptations, but I’m willing to bet a huge sum of money that none of them are as bad as Beastly.  Now I dislike Twilight for a variety of reasons, not just that they’re atrociously written and abysmally acted, in fact I could write a whole essay on those reasons.  However, one major one is that it seems to have inspired studios to take various stories and concepts, from Red Riding Hood to the well worn idea of an alien stranded on Earth, and ‘twi-fi’ them  [ no , it’s not a real word, but ought to be!],  chiefly to centre it around a romance between a girl and a brooding, slightly scary, outsider like the Bella and Edward story of Twilight.  The latest film to do this is Beastly, which is apparently based on a book which is far better.  Well, it could hardly be worse.

What we basically have here is Beauty And The Beast, but set amidst American teenagers and told from the point of view of the Beast.   This latter idea is a not unworthy concept, but it would be hard to do even by people who are good.  The Beast is always the character who is shrouded in mystery and it’s Belle, or the Belle equivalent, who undergoes more character development.   Unsurprisingly, it’s totally botched here.  For a short while we watch Kyle being unpleasant and taking delight in humiliating people,  and it’s very irritating though I suppose that’s the point.  Anyway, he’s cursed by Kendra, and he turns into no an actual Beast but something resembling a Frankenstein Monster [he actually reminded me a little of Robert De Niro’s incarnation], with scars and, get this, lots and lots of tattoos.  Yes, what you see on the poster is really what he looks like!  I really don’t know what they were trying to do here.  If they wanted to make the Beast more realistic and believable than they almost went the other way, and, although he’s hardly handsome, it  makes no attempt  to hide star Alex Pettyfer’s features, making a mockery of the constant talk in this movie about real beauty being on the inside and all that.  Anyway, he is banished to this huge house, and the pace of the film slows to a crawl as he tries to adjust to his existence.  Neil Patrick Harris shows up as a psychologist to do his usual schtick, though looking and acting more tired than usual, and starts to live in the house, which means more boring talking.  Because the dialogue is so dreary and constantly hammering home it’s themes  [for example Harris’ character Will is blind, so of course he can see the beauty within Kyle],  the film seems to be almost constantly marking time, despite it being under an hour and a half.  Eventually, about half way through, we get the romance, which is tediously handled with endless dialogue scenes which all but repeat the same sequence over and over again [a common problem with the Twilight films] and lots of miserable [I think the term is ‘emo’, but I’m not entirely sure what that means] pop songs.  The fact that Lindy likes Kyle as soon he sees him [upon first viewing him properly, she says “I’ve seen worse”] removes most of the potential drama, and what remains is just sooooo dreary, leading to no climax in particular.

My reviews normally follow something resembling a set pattern so I usually mention the acting in a film in the final paragraph, but I’m going to mention the performances in this movie earlier because they are such a major problem with it.  Alex Pettyfer is simply awful in the role of Kyle, which, although badly written, could have been partially saved by a skilled actor.  Pettyfer is hilariously unconvincing when he’s trying to be the unsympathetic Kyle of the earlier scenes, but he’s worse as the ‘Beast’, he just constantly whines and moans.  Where’s the rage?  Where’s the, well, beastliness?   It’s just not there.   Vanessa Hudgins is just terribly flat all the way through, a good example being a quick moment where she’s told some devastating news over the phone.   Her expression just looks like she’s pretending.   I may have been willing to forgive a little of this if the two had something resembling chemistry, but they have none, and never convince they are falling in love,  and here’s something else I’ve just thought of-Lindy meets Kyle near the start of the film, but later doesn’t recognise him, even though it’s painfully obvious.   The script, which throws cheesy one liners at you by the bucket load, is abysmal [though I laughed out loud when someone says “Are you sure I’m not boring you yet”?], and this is despite tossing in the odd slightly random plot element such as a drug-addict father.   Other amazing characters are the Jamaican maid Zola, played by Lisa Gay Hamilton with such a crappy Jamaican accent that the country should sue, who for some reason stays with Kyle despite him making nasty comments to her, and Mary Kate-Olsen who actually does a reasonable job as Zendra, but spends most of the time looking like a fashion model rather than an evil sorceress.   Other okay things in the movie are an effective montage showing the changing seasons behind Kyle and Lindy in a greenhouse, a few quite effective appearances by Zendra,  and, um, that’s probably it.

I probably sound like I’m making Beastly kind of fun in a bad way, but believe me, it’s not, it’s stultifyingly boring and never even becomes interesting.  You”d never know writer and director Daniel Barnz had also made the rather good Pheobe In Wonderland. Of course one can say that I’m not the target audience  [and it did seem that the many teenage girls at the showing I was at were worryingly into the movie], but I don’t believe that should matter.  Although I’m not a fan of teen movies I’ll readily admit there are many fine films in the genre, and the whole issue of target audience is nonsense to me.  As an example, I personally enjoy many animated movies, from The Jungle Book to Toy Story, hell, I saw Rio last week, and yet in no way would I be considered  the ‘target audience’.  In my opinion a good film is a good film and should be enjoyed by a diverse range of people.   I actually feel sorry for today’s teenagers.  If they lived in the 80s they could be enjoying films like The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Instead they are being fed crap like Twilight and High School Musical, which are so dumb as to be patronising, also girl's films seem to be seperate from boy's films.  Now I’m not a religious man, but just once I’m going to say to God “please God, if you are actually out there, please give me 86 minutes of my life back”.
1/10



THOR

In 937 BC, the Gods saved Earth from the deadly Frost Giants, then retreated to their celestial realm of Asgard.  Thor  is the arrogant heir to the ruler Odin, and is about to take the throne while his brother Loki remains waiting in the wings.  When a group of Frost Giants break into the palace and unsuccessfully attempt to take some weapons, Thor takes it upon himself to lead a revenge attack.  Odin is furious and banishes Thor and his hammer to Midgard-AKA Earth.   He is found by three people including protege scientist  Jane, and now has to fit into this strange world.  Meanwhile  Loki has taken over Asgard…… I’m going to be completely honest here-I’m getting just a teeny bit tired of all these superhero movies.  Maybe I’m getting old, maybe my tastes are just changing, maybe it’s because a certain film magazine is seemingly obssessed with them, maybe it’s because my first cinema viewing of a film was Superman The Movie which for me has never been matched, I don’t know.  Now that’s not to say I don’t enjoy them, I usually exit the cinema having been pretty well entertained, but increasingly often I also leave with a slight feeling of emptyness and disappointment, with few of the films containing for me much of the giddy lift that I used to expect and is prevailent in the best films of the subgenre.  I  don’t know about you, but most of these films seem to be somewhat holding back, they seem to be staying away from getting too thrilling or too imaginative.  However Thor seemed like it was going to be rather more interesting and exciting, partially I suppose because it takes  from old Viking mythology, and the idea of a Norse God on our world and in our time is an admirably crazy one.  Well, did Thor fulfill my expectations?  Without a doubt it’s great fun, but once, I felt a distinct tang of disappointment after the movie had finished, even if it probably is the best of the recent rash of superhero flicks.


After a breathless opening when three people in a car, people who turn out to feature a lot in the movie, see a strange phenonemon in the sky, we launch into a  lengthy flashback set amidst the Gods, replete with narration, which opens inThe Fellowship Of The Ring style with a CG-laded battle, but continues more like a slightly odd pastiche of a Shakespearian drama in which one can easily see director Kenneth Branagh’s experience with the Bard.   The tone is fairly serious and heavy for a bit, but, in the fashion of Superman The  Movie, things become far lighter once Thor is on Earth.  Although the film never becomes an  out-and-out comedy, there are quite a few laughs based around Thor’s difficulty in adjusting to life in his new-found home.  “Bring me a horse” he cries as he strides into a pet shop, and, after he is told the shop doesn’t sell horses but dogs and cats and the  like, he replies  “well get me one big enough to ride”".   A subplot revolving around the discovery of his hammer, which has also been cast to Earth,gets stuck in the ground and has people trying to pull it out like King Arthur’s sword, is also entertainingly done.  Just over half way through the action, which apart from some fighting near the beginning with some Frost Giants is almost absent, starts to kick in with Thor breaking into a compound to retrieve his hammer from where SHIELD [the organisation introduced to us in Iron Man 2] have built a base around it, and then there’s a great attack by a big robot thing on a town which for a while reminded me of old Toho science fiction films like The  Mysterians. The film really seems to be hotting up, but then it rushes through it’s plot at lightning speed and all it then delivers is some soap opera  histrionics and some brawling between Thor and Loki in a room and on a bridge.  I just wasn’t satisfied, throughout the second half I was thinking “maybe the Frost Giants may attack Earth”  or something exciting and spectacular, but once again, the filmmakers seem to be holding back.  At least the final scene is nicely bittersweet though we don’t really care-I’m not saying there should have been an actual romance between Thor and Jane but maybe there ought to have been more than the two or three scenes with them that we got!

Thor boasts some fantastic sets courtesy of Bo Welch, and Asgard looks amazing, with it’s palace seemingly made from organ pipes, rainbow bridge and golden circles everywhere, does look amazing.  There are shades of Dune and Flash Gordon in the design but for the most part they did a really great  job here creating an original and different-looking fantasy world,  even if it seems heavily reliant on CGI.  Sadly the CGI elsewhere is often quite poor-the Frost Giants especially are often quite blurry in their movements and don’t convince as actual living creatures.  I saw this movie in 2D, as I resent paying extra money for a process that to me  is both unconvincing and pointless, but I doubt that seeing it in 3D would change things much, except to make the fights  [what few of them there are] even more hard to see.  Branagh joins the ever growing list of directors who film action but don’t actually seem to want us to see much of it because they  film it with lots of closeups and fast cutting, though it’s possible the second unit did much of this.  Still, watching action at the cinema is really starting to hurt my eyes!   The script by Ashley Miller, Zack Stentz and Don Payne is strong on comic book dialogue both supposedly serious and intentionally funny,  but doesn’t seem to know what to do with it’s story towards the end, unless lots of footage was removed [I do seem to remember that for a while Thor was intended to be 130 mins long].

Branagh, who for some reason films some scenes at a titled angle a la the 60s Batman series,  seems more at home with the dialogue scenes than the action [what little there is], but the performances are often surprisingly poor.  Chris Hemsworth may look the part of Thor but has the charisma of an amoeba and just looks like he wishes  he was elsewhere [and hungover], while for this movie we don’t get the Natalie Portman of Black Swan but the Natalie Portman of Star Wars, the fake, forced one who always looks like she’s acting.  Tom Hiddleston as Loki is one of the dullest cinema villains of recent years.   Fortunately in the role of Odin we have Anthony Hopkins, and though he may very well be giving variations on the same performance in film after film now, he is still able to dominate the screen and is always fun to watch.  With a score by Patrick Doyle that provides all the  noise you expect but will probably be forgotten almost  immediately after the film has finished [what happened to all those great themes you used to get in superhero movies?], Thor does get the job done it sets out to do, but no more.  Once again,  I expected more from a superhero film than I got.  O well, I’ll still be queuing up for the next one.
6.5/10


RED RIDING HOOD

Although there’s already been  A Company Of Wolves, the fairy tale of Little Red Riding Hood is so rich in symbolism and metaphor, not to mention potential horror, that it could easily use a somewhat closer film adaptation.  Red Riding Hood certainly succeeds visually, with Mandy Walker’s gorgeous photography really evoking a sense of a fairy tale world-there’s a really early shot of two children in a garden which is one of the most beautiful shots I’ve seen in ages.   The script vies between being a toned-down werewolf horror movie with a typically poor CG creature, a fairly gripping mystery which at least kept me in surprise, and, unfortunately, a sub-Twilight love triangle, replete with some really atrocious dialogue.   Gary Oldman clearly relishes a chance to chew the scenery as Father Solomon, but Amanda Seyfried is her usual doe-eyed, constantly surprised self, and the two males vying for her attention seem to be competing to see who can give the worst, blandest performance.  Despite this, Red Riding Hood does hold the attention, aided by an anachronistic but quite effective, atmospheric score by Alex Heffes and Brian Reitzell, it kept me guessing as to it’s outcome which has got to be a good thing, and climaxes with a rather effective enacting of the original fairy tale.  Not great, but nowhere near as bad as you’ve been led to believe.
6/10


INSIDIOUS

Quite similar to Poltergeist in both structure and events, Insidious is nonetheless the scariest horror movie I’ve seen in ages, and certainly beats both Paranormal Activity movies for terrifying the crap out of you.  It’s one of those films where you almost long for the slow, talky bits, because the rest of it is so intense-the trouble is, there are precious few slow, talky bits here!    It opens with a really spooky sequence, scored with really spooky strings sliding upwards, involving a room, someone moving outside and a creepy old lady sitting in the darkness, and this puts you on edge already!   After this, there’s little build up, with frightening things happening already, and initially these are of the subtle kind, but get so numerous that I personally was nervous every time someone opened a door or went into a room.  There are incredibly scary moments involving a baby monitor and one of the greatest “boo” moments I’ve ever seen, though director James Wan is a little too fond of using a loud musical chord during a jump scare-I’d hoped he would have been above such lazy stuff.   Still, matters are incredibly tense till about half way through when the plot brings in some paranormal investigators and a psychic.  The scares lessen for a bit and some don’t quite work, but a descent into ‘The Further’ is nicely done by just using fog and a variation on the main house, while the climax employs incredibly freaky ghosts which I can’t get out of my head  [though the main demon reminded me too much of Darth Maul for my liking].   Overall this is a cracking horror movie,  packed with frightening scenes and images [watch out for the creepiest use of photographs since Ringu!], and also pretty well acted and written.  There is some nice humour in it too, though it’s the brilliantly employed terror that will stay with you, and I personally found it a truly intense experience.  Unfortunately, I also have a feeling I’ll have trouble getting to sleep tonight!
8.5/10



_____________________________

check out more of my reviews on http://horrorcultfilms.co.uk/

(in reply to ElephantBoy)
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