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Sunday, 8 July 2012

Blood Diamond

"Archer although not the villain he becomes increasingly dislikeable throughout"

On this trip down blog memory lane like the blog posts themselves we go back in time to 2006 to watch political thriller Blood Diamond. The film sold on the real life Sierra Leone Civil War in 1996-2001 the horrific tale captures the emotional audience that embraced such films as Hotel Rwanda and Shooting Dogs. Before giving away little to no spoilers I urge anyway that slipped into a film comma in 2006 to see this, but if you are like me remember to bring a box of tissues. 

The film centres on Leonardo DiCaprio as Daniel "Danny" Archer and his quest to track the huge diamond found in the diamond mines by Solomon Vandy played by Djimon Hounsou. Archer although not the villain he becomes increasingly dislikeable throughout as his greed submerges Vandy's seeking of his family and the love for his son. Jennifer Connelly fills in the love interest role as she falls for Archer and helps them find their way through a barrage of fire from the rebels. Connelly playing journalist Maddy Bowen is a refreshing change compared to the love drowned characters Hollywood pushes on to us, her and Archer bond through diversity and fear of their circumstances. 

Blood Diamond isn't the shortest film in the world but I forget at some point at its two hour plus running time, at key scenes it was difficult not to feel the pull of emotions. The love Solomon shows for his son is moving and his central to the whole film. 

You have to see this. 

Monday, 6 February 2012

Red State


"Kevin Smith's recent public contractual spat with Adam Carolla offers more interest than Red State"
Kevin Smith's conventional action thriller is well worth a watch but fails to leave an impression. The story follows a group of slow witted teenagers that rush off to a waiting woman that promises sex, of course all is not what it seems. I won't shit on this film as it does what it say it will, and at 88 minutes it doesn't let you become bored.

The film has a Waco siege like plot with the crazed leader leading a sacrifice
 service with the unwilling sex crazed Southern teens as helpless victims. The plot although may not sound dull it lacks depth and all the plot seems an excuse for women with guns and game console style like head shots.

Kevin Smith's recent public contractual spat with Adam Carolla offers more interest than Red State, maybe Smith will get a break and direct the next Mission Impossible, however this is unlikely as even that has become more high brow as of late. In the past weeks we've had great releases like Kill List, Drive, The Skin I live In, if you've gone through all them and are lonely on a Friday night this may just do the trick.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Mr. Nobody

"is it a compliment that Mr.Nobody could arguably sit alongside Terrance Malick's Tree Of Life with everything its trying to say?"
During the run up to the Reading Festival this year Kerrang magazine promoted the dvd release of Jared Leto's new film Mr. Nobody (although had a limited release as far back as September 2009) giving his acting career as much emphasis as his band 30 Seconds to Mars. While Leto's band played the main stage at Reading and Leeds this year his acting career in recent years has been infrequent yet aroused much recognition. Personally I always see Leto either singing heavy repetitive rock or next to Edward Norton and Brad Pitt in Fight Club - surely everyone's favourite film.


Mr. Nobody is a surreal sci-fi dram which centres on Leto's character Nemo Nobody, Leto plays both the 34 and 118 year old version of Nemo - It sounds like it shouldn't work, but it weirdly does. Nemo finds himself in the strange new world of 2092 where he is the last living mortal human alive, (for reasons that are far too boring and complicated to elaborate on) Nemo recounts his life to a a young journalist played by British actor Daniel Mays. Nemo tells the story of key events in his life, such as the moment when his parents split up and Nemo's complicated love life, however as Nemo faces tough decision like which parents to stay with, we see the consequences of both. Like the journalist interviewing Nemo years later we're left wondering "so which one did you pick your Mother or your Father?" Nemo answers "...Both"


Director Jaco Van Dormael has made a quirky film about life and fate and the choices we make, is it a compliment that Mr.Nobody could arguably sit alongside Terrance Malick's Tree Of Life with everything its trying to say? I'm certainly not one to demand a linear narrative and I enjoyed the way this one came together. Some people may have disliked them, but the moments when Nemo has monologues in front of a green screen about the meaning and the strangeness of life I found to be both insightful and  a welcome break from the story which seemed to drag on . Nemo in one of these monologues asks such rhetorial question as "Why does smoke leave the cigarette? Why do bacteria cells multiple away from each other?". Mr. Nobody will have been off the radar for most people but it's certainly worth checking out, although I know a slice of you with dislike it and may review it words such as "meaningless" and "preachy". 

Monday, 19 September 2011

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

 "I sat in my seat and felt smug in the knowledge Michael Bay could not interfere with my night."
Tomas Alfredson brings John le Carré spy novel Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy to life but it feels like it's been a long and difficult task and that traditional Hollywood would have thrown it away a long time ago. I may have said "spy" and so have all the trailers but do not expect any Bourne like car chases or perfect fighting moves in this one. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is two hours of pure dialogue and although that sounds understandably boring Alfredson demonstrates how vital a look or a bead of sweat can be to the narrative. 


I assume its the stories pedigree that led it to the cinema, this is very un-Hollywood and I praise it because unlike most films there is the assumption the audience is some-what intelligent. I sat in my seat and felt smug in the knowledge Michael Bay could not interfere with my night. If you do invest your time and attention with Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy the impressive British cast is reward enough, Gary Oldman takes the lead and you can't help but wonder where he's been hiding. Colin Firth furthers provides evidence why he'll be out of his seat getting awards once again, while Benedict Cumberbatch reminds you of the forthcoming new episodes of the BBC's 21st century Sherlock Holmes. Tom Hardy (Inception, Bronson) is the star of the show in my opinion along side Oldman and I believe it will only be a matter of time before he gets the critical acclaim he deserves. 


In a time of predictable cinema,  Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is brave and intelligent although I do not think its for everyone. I hope people embrace and give Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy a go, we'll just have to see how well it does at the box office, it will surely lack the staying power of Harry Potter 7. 





Sunday, 18 September 2011

Los ojos de Julia/Julia's Eyes

"It took its time but I think that's why I loved it so much, when it finally came good it packed one of the best punches of the year."
 Following on from the well liked blog of Spanish film The Skin I Live In here are my thoughts on Julia's Eyes. The film is another collaboration between Guillermo del Toro (Producer) and actress Belén Rueda, following on from The Orphanage.  Unlike the last few reviews I have posted on here I can not soak Julia's Eyes with enough praise. 


Julia's Eyes starts with a very iconic scene when Julia's sister that has become blind mounts a stall to commit suicide and has the stall knocked away from a mystery invisible man (this features heavily in the trailers).  Julia then takes on the mystery and tackles what she believes to be a murder and not the suicide the police and her husband are convinced it is. It may have been my knowledge of del Toro's involvement but it seemed to have his stamp all over it. I started to worry that as the film progressed and the suspension of horror built it would never deliver the killer punch.


It took its time but I think that's why I loved it so much, when it finally came good it packed one of the best punches of the year. Julia's Eyes started to remind me of The Shining, especially as I began to shout at the screen maybe it was because I  just saw people running after each other with crazed looks and knives. Julia's Eyes made me fall in love with world cinema all over again and further ignite my passion for Spanish language films. I concede that del Toro may have now found his perfect range but if it provokes films such as Julia's Eyes bring them on thick and fast. Julia's Eyes is without question one of my films of 2011. 

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Insidious

"the first half the film jabs you in the face with the freakishness of the house and the child yet as it moved onto the second half it lacked a knock-out punch"
 I'm back from a working weekend, with another on the horizon I've been struggling to both watch films and upload reviews. I've been a bit fixated on The Killing series one after watching the first four episodes in one afternoon, should upload a review?

Anyway, new dvd release Insidious is meant to be the main attraction here and it's definitely worth letting it give you a scare. Insidious is basically a hunted house horror film with a twist, the twist being that its in fact the child that is hunted. In the first half the film jabs you in the face with the freakishness of the house and the child yet as it moved onto the second half it lacked a knock-out punch and left me wanting them to re-do certain parts.

In my opinion the horror genre is the most difficult to get right and so many have fallen short, I recommend Last House on the Left, The Silent House and Creep. Insidious is a very attempt and I can see why many people have expressed how much they liked it to me although the critics had a mixed opinion. I most enjoyed such highlights as the possibility the child was going to go on a crazy hunted rampage and felt let down when this did not happen.

Point of interest - Tiny Tim and the song Tip Toe through the Tulips - This song is heard a lot in the film and is probably one of the spookiest things in the film.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Sucker Punch

"It's less high brow and more Xbox"


Following the recent trend of my reviews, Sucker Punch is another new DVD release, yet the problem with reviewing it is that the critics have said it all, really. Sucker Punch is a mess of a film that director Zack Snyder should not list on his CV next time he is pitching a film. I ended up checking the plot of the film on Wikipedia as it never seemed sure what it was doing and only acted as the background to predictable and repetitive action sequences

The story starts with a 20 year old nicknamed "Babydoll" (Emily Browning) who is sent to a mental institution after her mother and sister are killed by her sexually abusive stepfather (Gerard Plunkett). The institution and her stepfather convince the authorities to have Babydoll lobotomised, and upon waiting for this to happen Babydoll spirals into different fantasies which consume almost the entirety of the film. Babydoll fantasies she is in brothel run by a mobster character called Blue, where she befriends other girls and plans an escape. On being forced to dance Babydoll fantasies she is fighting a variety of characters from wartime Nazis to futuristic robots.

When the action scenes come to a climatic end everyone is impressed by the apparent standard of Babydoll's dancing although Snyder never lets us see the presumed highly sexual dance. I refuse to waste any more time describing the plot. The action/fight scenes play like video games and the constant use of music during these adds to the overall nauseous feeling you get from watching them. Although Snyder clearly knows his way around a green screen, his previous films 300 and Watchmen prove his idea of a film is to place CGI above script and any intention In his first original screenplay it is apparent that Snyder has a vivid imagination, yet after a while this seems to come to an abrupt halt. Only when the film remembers it must have a script somewhere does the the story hold any interest, but there is a feeling it is too little too late.

Snyder may have had some intention to make a film led by a young woman that kicks ass, but instead he just objectifies all the female characters. I have to agree with St. Petersburg Times critic Steve Persall who made a very accurate assertion about the film that it "suggests that all this objectification of women makes them stronger. It is supposed to be reassuring that men who beat, berate, molest and kill these women will get what is coming to them. Just wait, Snyder says, but in the meantime here is another femininity insult to keep you occupied."
All in all, I want to say this film is awful and what it says about its female characters should make Snyder ashamed, yet unfortunately there are many even worse films. It is less high brow and more Xbox. Give it a miss.


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