Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Happy-Go-Lucky Review

You know things in life aren't going well when you are continually followed by the really sad version of 'Christmas time is here' from the A Charlie Brown Christmas. Its also safe to say life has gone a little titty fucking up when you're holding back tears for fallen peeps in The Wire. But if you find yourself being cheered up by a Mike Leigh film, well, throw in the towel my friend because a trip to beachy head is your only solution. That or go asphyxi wank style but this option can be upsetting for the family memebers left behind.

Poppy is a primary school teacher who not only views the glass as half full but also brightly coloured, adorned with flourescent glitter and holding in it the Elixir of life itself. In other words she's an optimist. The film is a window into Poppys worldview as time and time again her optimism is challenged when she meets angry driving instructors, emotional Flamenco dancers, crazy tramps and a potential love interest in Social worker Tim.

Set in a London not often seen (for its through the eyes of Poppy and not gibbering Daily Mail readers or Terror news items) Happy-Go-Lucky is a film about nothing and everything. Nothing, as in there is no classical narrative thread, and everything, in that there is no finer goal in life than to be happy. As Poppy keeps herself entertained, and those around her, there is a certain dread as to what may shake her enthusiasm.

Relative newcomer Sally Hawkins is an absolute joy as Poppy, complete with filthy laugh and a carefree manner that I doubt you can act if you don't already have it. Workaholic Eddie Marsan is also on good form as the rage and saliva spitting driving instructor, even if at times his polar opposite to Sally is a little too polar, i.e think puppy hugging lovely person versus hate filled kitten drowner. So when life in all its unpleasantries is getting you down have a little think about Poppy, cancel the trip to beachy head and untie the noose from above the streams of porn you've laid out. More Poppies please.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

21 Review

Las Vegas should thank its agent at next years Oscars, for movie after movie seems intent on showing the gambling haven as a paradise of the 21st century. Be it Fear and Loathing, Swingers or the four Ocean's film, its huge, as bright as the sun, as garish as 80's pop videos and usually really, really cool. 21 may as well have a rolling news feature at the bottom advertising flights and hotel rooms because all I could think for the duration of the film was, 'Vegas, Baby, Vegas!'

Based on the true story of a bunch of MIT students who worked a way of beating the odds and took millions from the Vegas casinos, 21 goes for the loser turns to winner take on the tale. Ben Campbell (Jim Sturgess) is a dweeb of the dweebiest proportion, a maths genuis that has no way with the ladies and spends his 21st birthday with his mum. Until, that is, he's invited to an afterschool off the books mathclub by his teacher (the increasingly predatory Kevin Spacey). Here he learns to count cards and accompanied by his new cooler friends takes on Las Vegas.

The 'man I wish I was doing that' rush that you get from certain films is present in every sprocket. This is made more so by the fact that the main character never really puts a foot wrong for the first half of the movie. The counting cards tactic isn't illegal, it works and only some talented people can do it, so if you possess this gift why the hell wouldn't you use it to make a quick buck. Add in an attractive Kate Bosworth and as much comped shit as anyone could want and you've hit the jackpot. Its a movie though, so we need some rocks being thrown but such is Jim Sturgess' manner throughout you half expect him to catch the rocks and start juggling them, which he does. A star in the making.

What could have been another run of the mill 'gambling is cool but bad' morality tale is instead a coming of age ride which is fun, a little dangerous and, yes that word again, cool. This is thanks mainly, but not exclusively, to a well worked script that has been pawed over time and time again until it ticks all the boxes. And you'd hope so as its a Triggerstreet film (a website devoted entirely to the craft of screenwriters). You never know, the formidable box office take for a film with no huge bankable star, not based on a comic book or a sequel, might just make Hollywood sit up and value a decent script. I wouldn't bet on it though.

Flashbacks of a Fool Review

Regrets, I've had a few but then again too few for anyone to really give a monkey toss. I'm ad-libbing Frank for good reason, Flashbacks of a Fool is steeped in regret but the regret is non transferable to the audience, i.e we don't really give a monkey toss. This leaves the film only vaguely entertaining and in the year of 2008, cinema makers must do a lot better than be vaguely entertaining if they wish to satisfy this bitter man.

Hollywood mega star in decline Joe Scott (think Mickey Rourke circa 1992 but with less smack) is a coke line or a lost role away from rock bottom. When he hears the news of an old friends death he begins to ponder on his youth long gone. In a flashback that takes up the main breadth of the movie we see how Joe was shaped into the man he is today. Well, actually, we don't and thats the problem with the film.

Like a Radio 4 version of a biography of an actor who doesn't actually exist, Flashbacks lacks the drama needed to pull you in for the full two hour running time. If it was a real celebrity tale of how their life was turned by a moment in their youth it would probably have done huge business as is the cluster fuck surrounding A-listers these days, but sadly as its fiction no-one really gives two shits, which is a shame because its all played very well.

It was a bit of a love project for Daniel Craig and you can see why as its one of the most 'actorly' films you'll see in a long while. As the young Joe, Harry Eden does a wonderful job as the insecure teen whose raging hard on will be his downfall. But despite all round tiptop performances the drama isn't dramatic enough to keep us hooked. Oh and if its supposed to be his flashback why do we have detailed scenes of instances that he isn't present for. That always pissed me off in Saving Private Ryan too.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Forgetting Sarah Marshall Review

I know he's barely in this film, playing second male lead below a relatively unknown actor, but what is about Russell Brand that has people falling over themselves to work with him? He was a television presenter less than 12 months ago and now he's a fully fledged thespian with 3, count em, 3 films showing this year. All he's done from 2003 onwards is impersonate Captain Jack Sparrow from the Pirates movies. The question that this film raises 'Is who the hell is the real Russell Brand?' I want answers. I want to know if my hatred of this man is justified. I want the truth, even if I am unsure of my truth handling abilities.

Back to the film... for now. When Peter Bretter (screenwriter and lead Jason Segel) gets callously dumped by his longterm girlfriend the titular (damn I use that word too much) Sarah Marshall he does his best to forget her. But he just can't if he coups himself in his flat all day. No, this man needs to get away, to Hawaii! Thats the way to do it! Unless his ex is there with her new boyfriend, the man/muppet that will make up the base of this diatribe, Rusell Brand. Things are made easier for Peter when hotel sexpot Rachel (Mila Kunis) starts to help him not remember he ever went out with the titular (I think I use it because it starts off with tit) Sarah.

The first and last part of this movie are reasonably entertaining and funny. The comedy is of a very broad nature, almost Carry On-esque at times but if you can't laugh at a shrivelled wang then what can you laugh at. The cast is incredibly open to having the piss ripped out of themselves with references from Kristen Bell to making the switch to film from TV and Kunis and Segel willing to bare all for a cheap gag. Which brings us unsurprisingly back to our Russell.

Who are you man? You surely can't be, as it would appear to anyone dipping into your work, the character that you play in this film all the live long day? Firstly your cock would fall off and secondly everyone would just want to punch you in the face repeatedly until you couldn't use clever wordplay again because your tongue would be a mixture of knuckle skin, mashed up teeth and pavement. But fool on me really because I'm just another mug thats giving you the time of day for acting like a fool everytime a camera is on you. I hope that one day I see you buying some crisps in Tesco and your hair isn't all done and you just talk politely to people in a normal voice. Or at least you just tone it down a bit and go back to presenting. If you can find his early stuff Naziboy is worth checking out on youtube for all Brand haters he is actually informative and witty, thats Russell not the Nazi. The Nazi is an idiot, obviously... he's a Nazi.

In Bruges Review

Thank fuck for In fucking Bruges. So its saturday fucking night and I've just had enough of all the fucking shit films we're showing (I've said it before and I'll say it again, fuck April, its a shit month for the multiplexes). I'd had enough of sitting through fucking dirge like First Sunday and was not only ready to stop this fucking challenge, but quit my fucking job and and forget that the brothers fucking Lumiere ever invented such a miserable contraption as the fucking cinematographe. Before sitting down to watch this I was fucking pissed off. Two hours of sweary Irishmen later and I'm as happy as fucking Larry. Thank fuck for In Bruges.

Colin 'Fucking' Farrell is Ray a low level gangster/hitman who has been sent to the Belgian town of the title to lay low with collegue Ken (Brendan Gleeson) at the behest of fucking 'orrible Harry, (Ralph Fiennes) an Eastend villain that would give Ben 'Sexy Beast' Kingsley a run for his fucking fuckmoney. The problem is Ray doesn't like Bruges. so while he should be staying put in his hotel he's instead chasing fucking midgets, doing lines of fucking coke and generally making a fucking nuisance of himself. Harry is not best fucking pleased so asks Ken to deal with it.

I fucking love hitmen movies. I don't know why, I'm a girly fucking pacifist at the best of times but Leon, Grosse Pointe Blank, Nikita (techinally a hitwoman but stop being so fucking pedantic) are some of my favourite fucking films. It'll need one more watch but fuck if In Bruges doesn't make it up there with them. It ticks every fucking box, funny, intelligent, emotional, fuck its even quite romantic at some points. Its shot so that Bruges looks like a fucking fairytale and from Colin to Ralph its impeccably fucking played.

Big weighty themes such as the fucking point of life, Catholic fucking guilt and death, death and more fucking death never appear to be big weighty themes such is the handling of the script. The big one of death, death and more fucking death hangs over every single frame of the film like a grim reaper on double pay, yet manages in the resolution to become less a morbid thing and instead something incredibly uplifting. The coup de fucking gras though is that for the first time in a long time the credits roll when they fucking should.

Oh and if you don't like ridiculously over the top, completely unneccesary swearing then you may which to avoid the film. And this review. You fucking shitcunt.

Monday, 21 April 2008

First Sunday Review

The challenge is still on. 63 films into the year and I've seen all that my multiplex has to throw at me. I do, however, get the sneaking suspicion someone in film buying (the person who chooses what films we get) has cottoned on to my bullheaded nature and is subsequently taking the piss. From a simple 2-4 movies a week I'm now averaging 6, including dirge like this that plays two shows and then fucks off back to the celluloid hell that spawned it.

Ice Cube plays a criminal who just wants to do right by his son. So he robs a church. There you go, thats all you get for the plot.

Fulfilling his quota of gangster movie and family movie all in one Mr. Cube can relax for the rest of the year safe in the knowledge that his certain brand of poostickery is done. That last line was more of a request. I really don't want to have to watch Are We Still There? I also don't want to sit through another film where black people are portrayed as dumb, irritating criminals who love to eat chicken (even if they do include pictures of Dr. King on the wall to remind us that you know some people with dark skin are okay really). Fuck, who directed this Jade Goody?

As Ice and his criminal friend start to turn their lives around via kidnapping and violence there seems to be some nice ideas about a man finding faith while robbing a church but its the kind of moral message that would be more at home on an episode of Quantum Leap. One thing to note as the lights come up is that the Jamaicans that are hoping to kill Ice's sidekick, in a subplot I'm not going into here, are still on their tail. And most importantly I didn't recognise anyone from The Wire in it and its set in Baltimore. How dare they.

Street Kings Review

Wow. I've just found out this film was based on a James Ellroy novel and he even had a hand in the script. I'm sorry its just taken me a bit by surprise because the film itself is, at times, desperately unoriginal and horribly predictable. Don't fear I'm not gonna change my opinion on the film because I've learnt this fact, which is nice to know I'm not being a hypocrit, I just feel it needs addressing that you can go into a movie not knowing all the facts. Which is rare. For me. Because I know everything about movies, don't I?

Tom Ludlow (Keanu Reeves) is an LAPD cop who acts as a one man clean up operation whenever bad men are in town. While he works 'outside the law' he only ever murders really bad men, the type that kidnap kids, so therefore he's okay. But he does drink a lot though which makes him bad. Oooh you can see the fuzzy line already can't you. When his ex-best friend and straight up cop Terrence is killed Tom begins to search for the truth and uncovers a big bag of deception and general naughtiness from the boys in blue.

I'm not really going to enjoy any police/corruption/drug dealer products where the line is ever so slightly blurred between good and bad while I'm still hooked on The Wire (I'm on Season 3 and counting peeps) but this one kinda insulted my intelligence enough to warrant a reasonable amount of critical bile. Crass sterotypes and pointless girlfriend roles notwithstanding the 'reverse acting' (you know where an actor has to act as if he's acting) by Mr. Whitaker is enough to ask him for his Oscar back.

Its clear Street Kings is a redemption tale from the get go and because of this the predictability-ometer sits high in the red. Once the light clicks in Keanus head, and it takes a fucking while, that all those around him are badder than bad we know that he'll become a one man justice fighting machine. Its also pretty clear that he'll be alive by the end, which is a shame. Redemption tales are always better when the lead dies. Or is at least disfigured horribly in some way.

Strange Wilderness Review

As a friend commented to me, "They don't make em like that anymore" in reference to the 80's style comedy but I'm unsure as to whether they ever made them like this. So few people came to watch this bizarre shitfest that at the prime time show the only residents of the cinema were me and the hapless friends I brought along. They'll forgive me one day. But you never know this may well be the kind of legendary movie that you tell your grandkids about in the same way people talk of Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock. Doubtful though.
When his father passes away Peter Gaulke (Steve Zahn) attempts to present the wildlife documentary programme entitled Strange Wilderness his pa made a national treasure. The problem is he smokes pot like its going out of fashion and knows nothing about animals. When the plug is due to be pulled Peter rounds up a bunch of misfits to find Bigfoot and thus save the show.

Strange. Quite possibly the only word to describe the experience of watching this 'film'. Essentially a stoner movie made up of the kind of sketches Saturday Night Live might throwout for being too directed at college students, I have to confess that I laughed til I cried watching it. The problem is at no point did I laugh 'with' the film.

There is a small amount of mirth to be had from the ridiculously dumb narration over stock nature footage. "It is estimated that bears kill over 2 million salmon a year, attacks by salmon on bears, are much more rare," being the best example. But most 'Jokes' go on way past their sell by date, including a 'dick joke' that would make a seven year old groan. Add into this people vomiting into a sharks mouth, a turkey (literally) gobbling down a cock and enough bong related humour to make Cheech and Chong blush and you have a contender for one of the most random films since the Python boys hung up their fluffy rabbits feet. Shame it didn't have any of their wit.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Leatherheads Review

I shouldn't like George Clooney. He's smugger than a stockbroker thats just fucked a prostitute without his wife finding out, while simultaneously dysoning coke from her belly button and solving a suduko in record time. Well, okay, he's not that smug but he does have an air of grinny mcgrin and rightly so. Women want to fuck him and men want to be him. And men want to fuck him. He has all the best celeb mates and makes genuinely good movies as an actor, writer, director and producer. In fact as a director he's made two of my favourite films of the decade, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and Good Night and Good Luck. So this I was looking forward to with a degree of optimism...

Set at the birth, and some might argue death, of professional (American) football Leatherheads follows Jimmy 'Dodge' Connelly a chancer whose life revolves around the love of the pigskin. When he sees an opportunity to expoilt war hero Carter Rutherford's celebrity for the good of the game he does so, making a sport that was once only popular amongst the college crowd into a huge money spinning mega event. Trying to get a scoop on Carter is Lexie Littleton, a female newsreporter, who soon becomes the object of both mens affections. Can Dodge win the girl and win the game or is his clock running down too fast?

I say I was looking forward to this film with a degree of enthusiasm but after a collegue with similar filmic opinions as mine came out scratching his head about how the same man could make this mess that made Good Night I decided to lower said expectations. And I'm glad I did because it made the film, perhaps not enjoyable, but certainly above bearable on the scale of cinema nirvana to 35mm haemorrhoid. Its main problem is an uncertainty of genre and style.

Too often it flits between old style screwball comedy and modern day dram/rom/com. Renne 'there are no eyes in my name or my face' Zellweger has done this before in Down With Love, and while handing in another of my man cards for liking that film, I also have to admit that she plays the role well. But while the former film had the stones to keep the screwball rolling Leatherheads doesn't and it suffers from that. You'd think if anyone was brave enough to take a chance it would be unflappable George but in the role as director and lead character, there is not enough consistency. Maybe that grin will wain slightly when he reads this. Because he does read my reviews. Every week. I'm one of his celeb mates.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Funny Games US Review

Usually the idea of a remake will have me gnawing at my kneecaps in a fit of frustration at the stupidity of people who can't read subtitles but here I am looking forward to this movie more than any other in the showery month of April (historically the poorest month for movies). There are a number of reasons for my hypocrisy beginning with the fact that I've yet to see the original but more importantly I've read a plethora of pre-press from the director Haneke in which he talks about the American view of violence. Therefore where better a place to set your sadistic teen torture fest than the good old US of A.

Taking place in less than 24 hours Funny Games deals with the terrorisation of a white, upper middle class family by two young well educated, completely pyschotic teens. The family consists of Ann (Naomi Watts), her husband George (Tim Roth) and their 10 year old boy George Jr (Devon Gearhart). Oh and a dog, but its best not to get too happy about this if you're an animal lover. The two crazy bastards, that make Droog Alex somebody you'd be perfectly happy to have round to meet your gran, are Paul (Micheal Pitt) and Peter (Bradley Corbett). I'd like to give you more plot than just what role each plays but the first line of this paragraph summarises exactly what happens over two of the most unpleasant yet thought provoking hours of cinema I've witnessed since Irreversible.

Its testament to the film that I would be so thoroughly unnerved from the opening to the closing credits when there is hardly a spot of onscreen violence. Starting with a playful game of 'guess the classical music' we are given not one shitting warning that death metal of the worst kind is going to infiltrate all of our senses. Intelligent yet uncompromising shock tactics such as this are played over and over again and each one works at shredding each nerve like wheat from a well known breakfast cereal. One such 'trick' is the breaking of the fourth wall and even this is done to not only make us a part of the horror being witnessed but also to horrify us further. At one point near the finale we know just how submissive and helpless we as viewers are.

All the cast are superb but I will single out Micheal Pitt for the highest praise. Clad in virginial white he is the vicious ringleader whose pulse never raises or falls as he kills in cold blood. When asked why he is doing this by the captives he lists a million cliche reasons from too spoilt, to a tough upbringing, to drugs and sexual abuse. What appears to be the real answer, and the one that shows the true evil that may keep you awake at night, to why he is doing this is simple. Why not? Its probably the least amount of fun you'll have in the cinema this year but for all the fans of Hollywood and its dubious moral compass its essential, intelligent cinema at its best. Unsurprisingly the Daily Mail didn't like it.

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Pathology Review

This may well be the darkest film of the year. Not dark as in fucked up, woe is the world, evil nastyness prevails kinda dark, its way too second rate Saw for that. No I mean dark as in, someone didn't pay Powergen, put another pound in the meter, even carrot chomping motherfuckers like Bugs couldn't see what was going on, kinda dark. This lack of illumination may be a blessing because what you do get to see isn't really worth opening your peepers for in the first place.

The spellcheck cursing Milo Ventimiglia plays Dr. Grey (is he dark/is he light? why not name him Dr. Mysterious instead) a charity working, teachers pet Pathologist who spends his freetime doting on his fiancee. Once he starts an internship at a hospital with ubercrazy Michael 'he was the cop in Garden State' Weston he soon transforms into a crack smoker who likes to fuck aggresively in the same room as fresh corpses that he recently made all dead. If there is a plot or goal that he's hoping to achive by the time the credits role its lost on me.

The trailer promised a film from the creators of Crank and so therefore I was hoping for some ridiculous, possibly nauseating, over the top violence with tongue firmly in mouth cavity. Sadly this film has delusions of grandeur that lead you to believe the makers thought that this opus was on a par with classics such as Se7en. One speech at the start seems espoused by John Doe's retarded nephew.

Heroes Milo continues his mystifying belief that if he turns one corner of his mouth down it signifies emoting. The speed at which his characters moral compass spins from North to South is as ridiculous as the gaping 6ft deep plotholes. Questions such as, 'would you really bring your girlfriend into the same town and environment that you share with your supposedly secret fucked up friends?' and 'would the authorities let you perform the autopsy of a loved one, when you would without a doubt be a suspect?' can only be answered with a big fat No. Coincidentally its the same answer to whether you should watch Pathology.

How She Move Review

How She Move is not a bad film. I never thought I'd scribble down a sentance like that but watching Hollywood churn out buckets of never-ending chod to the tune of SIX films a week (and thats just in the cinema folks, I still watch movies at home too) you start to relax your opinion about the average films. How She Move, being a danceteenathon, also has the benefit of being favourably compared to the train wreck of Step Up 2: The Streets a similar danceteenathon but one that has no balls.

I'm going to break with tradition on this review and list the reasons why this is a superior product to the aformentioned carriage mangled mess.
1. The lead girl Rutina Wesly has been cast because she can act and dance. Not because she has a mannequin perfect body and she can dance.
2. The dance moves are mainly shown from one camera angle without fancy editing, therefore what you see is what you get, not Hollywood trickery.
3. The characters are mainly from Jamaica. No racism intended here but they can move. As in dance. I would defend myself and say I have loads of black friends, blah, blah, but I live in Norfolk so that would just be a lie.
4. At no point does anyone cry about the illegality of dancing as Step Up 2 does. Its dancing for fucks sake, its not a criminal offence to shake ones booty. Unless you're that fat chick off Eastenders.
5. Its not set in Baltimore so it doesn't call for ridiculously unfavourable comparisons to The Wire, The Greatest Show On TV. (One again thank you Mr. Brooker and my housemate Mr. Benson for not shutting up about how great it is. It really, really,really, really is.)

I could add to the list but it may take me over the A4 sheet that I like to print these diatribes out on. OCD not withstanding I do have one gripe and thats the piss poor voiceover at the start of the film. There is as much need for it as there is a need for Anne Widdecombe to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases. The point of a first act is to setup the story, if you tell us every bit of information about the lead characters life the first 20 minutes becomes pointless. I'm guessing this inclusion was at the behest of MTV not Paramount Vantage.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

One Missed Call Review

When a film has not one but two, seemingly unrelated, pre-credits sequences there is a fair bet that the film will get a little confusing and quite possibly above its station. When both of these sequences make me jump out of my skin I know I'm in for a fairly rough ride. How many years am I gonna lose to this venture of watching films that my disposition isn't accustomed to? But enough of me and my rather girlie nature, will this film deserve a collect call or will you it make you want to hang up? And if you think those puns are bad, wait til the end of the review.

Shannyn "Sausageman" Sossoman is the pretty teen in danger (although she's actually 24 in this) whose friends all start dying in mysterious and fucked up ways. When the deaths can be traced back to phonecalls recorded at the time of death before the death (its not as confusing as it sounds) she teams up with Ed "I'm beginning to look a bit like Ben Affleck with a much, much smaller head" Burns and they set out to find out who is the spooky wooky behind it all.

Coming across like a cross between Final Destination and Ringu (Or The Ring for stupid people who don't like subtitles and subtlety) One Missed Call isn't half bad. Its formulaic as hell but there is something to be said for a film that ticks the boxes it should. Most importantly the main 'ghosts' will shit you right up, especially the little baby with the mobile. Ha I just got that, 'baby plays with mobile'. Thats pretty good.

Its a shame that Shan and Ed phone in their performances. Maybe the producers should have dialed someone else. I'm not sure if sWAPping the original setting form Japan to the US works either. And the twist doesn't really ring true. Oh and the sub text is lacking.
I hate myself.

Awake Review

For some time I've tried to like Hayden Christensen. I feel like I've put in a lot of time and effort and quite frankly I'm sick of having it thrown back in my face. When he was first chosen to play lil Annikins I for one did a solitary mexican wave. He looked the part and most importantly he wasn't James Van Der Beek or Billy from Neighbours. But the man is putting in no work in this relationship choosing duff movie after duff movie. I think I may have to call it a day.

The once Darth is Clay Beresford, a massively rich business man who has an overbearing and slightly Oedipussy mum (those are two words to put together if you want Freud calling), a forlorn fiancee in the shape of Jessica Alba and a rather dodgy ticker. When a replacement heart is found for the man, his best friend, Dr. Jack begins preping for surgery. As he's anaesthetized Clay realises that things aren't as they should be, especially when he can still feel the first incision. As he lies on the operating table taking in every cut he begins to learn some dark truths about his friends and family.

My opening berating of Hayden may be unfair when Jessica Alba puts in a performance of such ineptitude. She may be pretty, but for a sackful of Werthers Originals she couldn't flex an acting muscle. As for Terrence you better rock the shit out of Iron Man if your going to get a christmas card from me this year. Is it just me or do comments like that last one make me sound a little like a pissed off fanboy? I swore this website wouldn't go that way, but its late and I'm tired and this film has left me more than a little peeved.

The main reason for the peeved nature is that the film just doesn't go anywhere. And it certainly doesn't go there fast. Clocking in at well under 90 mins it feels like your under the knife for a much, much longer time. The twists and turns that are supposed to make it feel like a drive down a winding country lane are so boringly predictable that instead the viewer is made to feel as if they're being taken down a motorway thats in urgent need of repair. With a shit view. Pillfering horribly from a great movie like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind does it no favours either. The opposite of Awake is what I'd have been if this was ten minutes longer.

Monday, 7 April 2008

(.Rec) Review

There are two things likely to pump my blood. One is a horror film that is genuinely scary and makes me wanna go poop. The other is the over use of camcorder footage to scare and frighten (see Diary of the Dead Review) especially when weilded by unsympathetic camera crews. Forgetting the annoying shaky cam effect for a second the main problem with these films is that due to the docu feel nature there is little to no emotional engagement with any of the characters. Instead we are left with nameless, faceless victims being offed one by one. Doesn't mean it isn't scary enough to make me wanna poop though.

A local Spainish television crew, complete with foxy, ambitous reporter Angela, are shooting a feature following people who work nights entitled "While you are asleep". This particualr segment follows the local fire crew as they are called out to assist an elderly woman locked in her flat. When the old lady turns pyscho and eats the neck of one of the crew sent to help her the apartment building is sealed by the authorities on the grounds of a health scare. Slowly but surely the residents, the firemen and the camera crew are... well they aren't sent flowers and hugged by puppies lets put it that way.

I'm unsure whether or not I'm starting to respect these "I'll do anything for a story" reporter types or if the more I see of them the more I think what wankers they are. I think its the latter because at the end of the day what valuable help are they really giving to the public. It seems to me that the only positive warning their reporting gives us is don't be nice to crazy deranged zombie kids. Don't worry guys I won't. But really enough of me moaning about this 'type of movie' because the subject matter is of little interest what the viewer really wants to know is, Did it shit me up? Yes, yes and three times yes.

The claustrophobic feel, the primal fears and the cheap shocks were all heaped on in spades. There is a suitable amount of realistic gore to get to the pit of your stomach (if the camerawork doesn't get there first) and the screams, once they start, never stop. After the lamentable Diary of the Dead it seems Romero could get a tip or two from the youngsters in how to make a terrifying flick. And with the added bonus of the Spainish Catholic/Zombie Possesion subtext a George A style 'explicit comment on our times' is included in the ticket price too.

Drillbit Taylor Review

Prolific is a word that you could readily associate with Judd Apatow. Whereas actors can jump from project to project, sometimes churning out 4 to 5 films a year, for a writer, producer, director to do the same is a seldom seen thing. Yet in the past 12 months he's had a hand in Talledega Nights, Walk Hard, Superbad, Knocked Up. Within the month we'll have Forgetting Sarah Marshall to add to the ever growing list. So is the guy awesomely talented or is there a hit/miss ratio here that needs to be addressed?

Drillbit Taylor deals with three loser kids, the fat one, the geeky one and the weedier than Snoop Doggs cigarettes one all being bullied by uber pyscho Filkin (played by Elephants Alex Frost). When the japes the bully chooses to get the kids within begin to get out of hand the dweebs opt to hire a bodyguard. Sadly with only pocket money to fund this they have to settle for Drillbit Taylor, a homeless guy with delusions of grandeur. Drillbit, while playing the kids at first, soon becomes attached to them, attached to a teacher in their school and more attached to living a life away from the gutter.

I could watch Owen Wilson in just about anything (save Armageddon, the Aerosmith song makes me want to kill) and here he is again being goofy and adorable like a labrador with a wonky nose. While recent events have led to an intense look in his eyes you can't quite ignore, the film doesn't entirely rest on his shoulders, so any such dark analysis is quickly forgetton as the kids take centre stage. What we are left with is a family movie much like School of Rock but with a little slightly meaner streak. After all, the bullying dished out and given back to Filkin and his cohort are easily the films funniest moments.

Coming on like Superbad:The Early Years, the film is certainly not the car crash that some reviewers have stated it is. The fundamental flaw is that its is an 'Apatow film' therefore comparisons will be made to his more succesful, and crucially, more grown up work. But if you take Drillbit as the 10-15 age bracket that this reviewer so clearly thinks it is intended you'll see a well meaning, moral message movie that anybody under the age of consent will lap up. Oh and because I've only mentioned about 10 films to show off my movie knowledge try this one, 'a light heartened, Hollywood version of A Room for Romeo Brass.' Or maybe not.

Friday, 4 April 2008

Never Back Down Review

Look children! Its Fast and the Furious with Fists! Its Fight Club for Fucked up Fourteen year olds! Its King of the Kickboxers without Keith Cooke! Its the Karate Kid meets the O.C.!
I do apologise for the amount of exclamation marks but its summer time and I'm nice and happy now. Does this mean all the reviews over the next few months will be positive and love will shine out from this website settling peace throughout the land? No, because after watching this all I wanted to do was punch the writer. Hard. In the Face.

Tom Cruise lookalike, Sean Faris is Jake Tyler (Durden?!). A high school kid whose been in his fair share of fisticuffs since his father wrapped his truck round a tree. Moving to a new school (the catalyst for all coming of age movies it seems) he falls for Mandy Lane (that chick who plays Mandy Lane). Unfortunately she is dating Brad Pitt lookalike, Ryan McCarthy (Cam Cigandet) whose main aim in life is to beat people up. Its all okay though because its pre-arranged and nobody really gets hurt.

Surprisingly this isn't the worst film in the world. Don't get me wrong its not good, but theres something to be had here. The leads are poster boys and Mandy is jailbaitingly alluring, pouting and biting her top lip in a way that leads me to be believe she started her career in porn. But the main draw is definitely Djimon Hounsou playing well below his station (it seems nobody is shooting an In America or Blood Diamond at the moment, but the guys got bills to pay). He is the Mixed Martial Arts tutor who instructs Sean into the ways of being able to kick the crap out of someone, but all the time telling him he shouldn't. As the title suggests though the final fight is coming whether the ideals of the film want it to or not.

This for me is the big let down of the movie. His mum, his mentor and his girlfriend all tell him not to go brawling in car parks but then in the last reel they have a collective change of heart and egg him on. There would be riots in the cinema if the final fight didn't happen but it does cheapen all the life lessons that come before. Having a go at Hollywood for being irresponsible is like telling pandas to fuck more, but the fact that only one person is hospitalised in these, at times, brutal fights is a little hard to take. But its an MTVesque movie so the police are never called, when someone urgently requires medical assistance they have a lie in instead and by the end everyone has got the R.E.S.P.E.C.T they so, so dearly crave.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Son Of Rambow Review

I'm getting old. I've found my first few grey hairs. I don't care for the band Foals much. I refuse to watch Skins because it looks too yoof. And now theres a nostalgic film being released about a time that I can almost remember. While the first Rambo was released the year I was born there is much about the era that rings a bell. But then this may be the biggest strength of the film, that the audience can relate to it whatever their age.

Will Proudfoot is a 10 year old kid with a rather unfortunate start to life being that he's brought up in a deeply religious household that doesn't allow t.v, films or fun of any kind really. Lee Carter is his opposite, a tearaway thats allowed free reign due to absent parents, who spends his days pirating copies of Rambo First Blood. When Lee bullies young Will into giving him a ride home, the church goer is introduced to Sly's Rambo, triggering an explosion of imagination and cocaine levels of enthusiasm. The two then set about making the titular Son Of Rambow, an epic sequel/remake made in their surrounding woods with a few quid for a budget.

Its a rare thing indeed to get a British movie that isn't doom and gloom with shot after shot of overcast skies and council houses looming in the foreground. Rarer still if it isn't written by Richard Curtis. Not only is British duo Hammer and Tongs second film (after Hitchhikers) rare, its also a rare treat. Funny, warm, knowing, clever, I'm not usually one to list adjectives but this is one that could run and run if the theasurus allowed.

The two leads, Bill Milner and Will Poulter, hold the film together in a way that would make some professionals blush. And its lovely to see Jessica Hynes doing well without the Spaced boys. I was beginning to feel very sorry for her, According to Bex, indeed. The cool French student subplot feels at times like padding but its funny enough to get away with it (The 'bird shooting bike ride' had me rolling on the floor but then I'm a sucker for offscreen action).
And I think I'll finish with some more superlatives, you know try and get myself a quote on the already crowded poster. Emotional, witty, charming, passionate...

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Love in the Time of Cholera Review

I'm not too well read me. Its not that I'm an anti intellectual or particularly afraid of books, its just that over the years I've spent more time in Blockbuster than in the Waterstones. So when a famous literary adaptation such as this comes along my first thought is a quote from High Fidelity (the film not the book, although that it one I have read). The quote is as follows "I've read books like "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" and "Love in the Time of Cholera", and I think I've understood them. They're about girls, right?"

Florentina (Javier Bardem) spends his youth obsessed with Fermina (Giovanna Mezzoiorno) a repressed young lady whose love for him is equally as strong. Once her father finds out, she is sent away to stop her disgracing the family. Upon her return Fermina snubs Florentina causing him to fuck his way around South America. All the time though he longs for his first love.

Melodrama is a tricky thing to get right and an even trickier genre to impress this reviewer with. Any film where a girl threatens to top herself after exchanging two glances with a man and instantly falls in love with him is likely to inspire a certain amount of rage from within. Having some awful acting and laughably bad makeup only exacerbates matters and so the anger grew and grew. Thank God for John Leguizamo whoso OTT performance requires only a moustache twirl to cement it in the halls of cinemas worst bad guys hall of fame.

As for the Oscar winning Javier its sad to see him so bland. Occasionally shades of Anton Chigurh cross his eyes and you start to hope that he might mercilleslly start killing people but he chooses to have sex with them in increasingly vomit inducing ways instead. Going in to this I thought no matter how bad the film is I'll at least learn a little about a famous book and be able to blag my way through a conversation about the source material. Instead, all I still know is, Its about girls, right? Oh yeah, and avoid the 2007 film version like a bad case of gastroenteritis