Friday, 31 October 2008

Quantum Of Solace Review

Lately, such is the vast chasm between the things I want to do and the things that are actually helpful for a productive life, when my good friend asked me if I wanted to do an Alan Partridge style Bondathon last week I gave it a lot of consideration before saying no (this is the same friend who thought it would be a good idea to watch every film released this year). All 57 Bond movies back to back, no sleep, just the occasional 5 minute break. Only a whisker away from saying yes I remembered, I don't actually like Bond films.

The first direct sequel in the Bond cannon, Quantum of Solace picks up only minutes after a pretty peeved JB has kneecapped the elusive Mr.White at the end of Casino Royale. Then he's careening round roads that look like Spaghetti, blowing shit up and having gunfights at 100mph. Doo, do, doo, do, do, do, dooooo. Cut to Jackie White and Alicia Keys. Cut to a naked woman in silhouette with a gun, spinning round. Cut to JB chasing that bloke from The Diving Bell and the Butterfly about (obviously he can move now, otherwise that would be a very one-sided fight) and discovering a sinister organsisation. Cut to a pointless dogfight. Cut to storming baddies base. And Bond is back.

Which is a bloody shame. Because the thing I liked about Casino Royale (the one 007 film I like), apart from Daniel Craigs excellent performance, was that it ripped up the rulebook and made quite a nice origami butterfly out of it. The kind of butterfly that made me go ooh and aah, and isn't that pretty (especially Eva Green). Out went the cockiness, the one-liners, that self-assuredness which meant the ending was as predictable as putting bread in a toaster and in came a new dramatic quality where for the first time you felt Bond might actually come to some harm.

To give it its due Quantum of Solace does keep the integrity of the first re-imagining for a vast majority of the film. The opera sequence where Bond watches the mysterious QUANTUM group watching Tosca is as cinematic (and operatic) as anything you'll see all year. But the film goes awry when it mixes it up with too much of the old Bonds, shoehorning in action for the sake of it. The aformentioned dogfight sits incredibly uneasily with a scene, only moments later, of a girl telling of her families rape and murder. While the ending gains many, many bonus points for giving us a finalised Bond (the book Bond, not the movie Bond), cold, ruthless and, to use a McCainism, a man who will forever put Country First, it does leave you wondering where they go now.

Monday, 27 October 2008

High School Musical 3 Review

High School Musical is for gays and spastics. Woh there. Hold your horses. I've obviously just written that line to get a reaction out of people and to make me sound like 'I jus don't giv a fuck yeh!'. Well, yes, part of me wrote it for that reason but the other part of me wrote it because I have something genuine to say about High School Musical. And that point is that its brilliant for people with special needs (not the silly word I first used) and some (not all) overly effeminite men, i.e gays (at the time of going to press that word was still okay to use, also because I'm very scared of backlashes I'd like to point out I'm not linking the two groups in anyway). It's works for some because it has bright colours, cheerful messages, an easy to follow plot and lots and lots of singing and dancing.

What annoys me, to the point of almost suffering a rage induced stroke coming out of my viewing, is that it will be, by far, one of the most popular films of the year. It will certainly be the most profitable, thus causing every single studio to look for a way to cash-in on the 'HSM factor'. And this cashcow is not down to any niche market, its not down to the fact that a minority of people will go see this. Its because everyone will. And when everyone does, the studios will make more films with no regard for plot, no genuine emotion and no point to make. And this, this is the cause of my anger.

Parents will be dragged by their kids to such a greater extent than when a real piece of cinema like Wall-E dares to jockey for position on the silver screen/40 foot advertising board. It sucks but its an accepted fact. Kids are pretty stupid. Pre-teens will go because they fancy one of the leads. Not the worst reason to go to the cinemas. Some guys and gals love Zach Efrons Gallagher eyebrows. Hey each to their own. And again, this is all tolerable. But, but, but so, so, so many people will go to see it 'ironically'.

These 'adults' that say they like movies yet wouldn't venture out their front doors to watch great cinema like There Will Be Blood or the aformentioned Wall-E. These 'ironic' people that think 'its so shit its great', that go to watch it 3 or 4 times, each time more money in the hands of the producers that just can't believe how lucky they are to have sold shit with sprinkles on it for £6.50 a plop. I realise this isn't actually a review, in fact its the first time this year where I've broken into a full on, "say nothing about the film" ranty rant and most people will say to me lighten up its just a bit of fun. But please, vote with your feet and your money, don't let the producers win. If you are a grown-up, intelligent person, please don't watch High School Musical.

Fly Me to the Moon 3-D, City of Ember and Igor Review

Its half term kids and Uncle Owen is here to tell you what to spend your pocket money on. I am actually going to be an Uncle soon, a bona fide Star Wars character. I just hope I don't get barbequed by Stormtroopers. What I will get to do is take my nephew/niece to all sorts of shit films aimed at children and then chastise them for enjoying them like the naive, joyfilled cretins they are. Like I'm going to do now.

First up Fly Me to the Moon 3-D. My feelings on 3-D movies have been well documented over the course of this year. ( I don't like them. I don't think they're good.) So instead of me ranting the same rant just put together my review for Space Chimps and combine it with Journey to the Centre of the Earth 3-D and, ta-da, the bug faeces that is Fly Me... will be the result. It does have a fantastically surreal credits sequence though where Buzz Aldrin, the actual Buzz Aldrin, appears to tell all the wee kiddies that the film is pure fantasy and that flies can't talk and certainly couldn't get to the moon anyway. Now this I like. So much so I'd like to hire Buzz to ruin more childrens film.

As for City of Ember, I had desperately high hopes for this. I had a feeling it would tank financially but I thought it would at least be well received by us more knowing (read, Poncey) film geek type people. Set years in the future when mankind lives underground, it stars Saiorse Ronan (anyone know how to pronounce this?) as a girl looking to find a way to the surface of the Earth. While the set design and imagination is sufficiently 'Gilliam' the story takes too long to get going and ends far too quickly once it does. And it doesn't have nearly enough Bill Murray for my liking. But then Groundhog Day didn't have enough Bill Murray for me.

Bill Murray is not in Igor (nice segue). But John Cusack is. As Igor, or to be more precise, an Igor. For in the world of Malaria there are many Igors and many evil scientists. The scientists are trying to think up horribly evil inventions so they can ransom the world, which makes for some great Nightmare Before Christmas-style nastiness for the kids. This would probably be my pick of the week if only for the immortal yet suicidal, Nietzsche spouting rabbit voiced by Steve Buscemi. That and the blind orphans singing I Can See Clearly Now (The Rain Has Gone). Seriously.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Burn After Reading Review

Reasons to be cheerful, 1,2,3. Number one its beginning to look like our American cousins aren't such a bunch of inbred fuckwit, um... cousins, as they may be on their way to putting someone in charge who doesn't believe in the four horsemen of the Apocolypse, who can string a sentence together and who has great taste in TV shows. Reason to be cheerful number 2 is that the Coen brothers have released another film, thats two this year! Hooray says me. That means 0.81% of the films I've watched this year have been made by Joel and Ethan. As for number 3? Nope, that's all I got.

So Coen time again. Osbourne 'Ozzy' Cox (John Malkovich) quits his CIA posting after being demoted. Angry and seeking revenge he decides to write some scathing memoirs. His wife Katie (Tilda Swinton), who is fucking Harry Pfarrer (George Clooney), puts these memoirs on a floppy disk while trying to obtain his financial statements because she wants a divorce. This disk is then left on the floor of Hardbodies gym, where Chad Feldheimer (Brad Pitt) and Linda Litzke (Frances McDormand) find it and then subsequently blackmail Ozzy. When Ozzy doesn't play ball, Linda and Chad go to 'The Russians' to try and sell the information.

Add into this equation some plastic surgery, a dildo chair machine and an improper use for a hatchet and you should be scratching your head in no time. But having seen the film it actually all makes sense. In a way. Not that you'd know that when watching the film because its as confusing as simultaneously trying to solve a Rubik's cube and a Suduko after two bottles of Jack Daniels and a lungful of salvea. This confusion will either infuriate you or make you grin from ear to ear. I was the latter because I'm all clever and smug and shit. But this confusion is also the point of the film. Unintelligent Intelligence.

As with every single Coen Brothers film its the characters that make it the joy that it is. The wonderfully titled Harry Pfarrer is played with the right mix of sleaze and idiocy by Mr. Clooney (supposedly rounding off his 'Idiot Trilogy' but on the basis of this I hope not). McDormand, Malkovich and Swinton are all as good as they always are which seems like a backhanded complement but its not. The real star though, is Mr. Brad Pitt, putting in a performance of such life-affirming, naive nincumpoopyness that if the word nincumpoopyness was ever put in the dictionary it would have his face next to it. Although dictionaries don't have pictures.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Ghost Town Review

So the story goes, Ricky Gervais is positively inundated with scripts and projects from the general throngs of luvvies desperate to cling to his ample bosom. The postman has backache, he hasn't seen his doormat in years and all the while Ricky keeps everyone waiting, while he searches for the perfect screenplay. Something worthy of his enormous talent. Hmmm. What he finally settled on is the high concept of 'only certain people seeing ghosts' which, pun alert, has been quite literally, done to death.

Dr. Bertrum Pincus (Ricky Gervais) doesn't like people. At all. It might be why he's a dentist, but its definitely the reason he lives alone and does his best to communicate with not one soul. When in hospital for a routine bumjob Betrum dies for just under 7 minutes. When alive again he can see the deceased. As no-one else can see the ghosts, Dr.Pincus is soon followed by every spook in New York desperate for his help to move on. Chief spectre is Greg Kinnear, looking for Bertrum to stop his widow (Tea Leoni) remarrying. Will Bertum fall for Tea? Will he stop being misanthropic? Will I stop asking questions at the end of my 'plot paragraph'?

My opening diatribe might have been a bit harsh. I quite like Ricky Gervais. His stand-up always makes me chuckle, The Extras and The Office were not only funny and a good mirror of our times but also contained enough genuine pathos to give the tear ducts their daily cleanout (yes its daily now). In the eyes of many, however, he's in the 'Coldplay and Jamie Oliver' bracket where he's just become too successful for his own damn good. Tolerable in small doses, on a mass platter you'll be spewing in no time. Ghost Town couldn't be better evidence of this.

The poor script is written around his 'style' of acting. The dialogue is either putdowns or people babbling to each other (this last one is repeated as the one and only joke). All a vehicle to show Ricky to the world. While film is a collabartive process I need to chastise David Koepp for his by the numbers direction but I'll forgive most of the cast who just don't have much to do, so can't possibly do it badly. As for Ricky though, If asked why he's fucked off to the God Blessed US of A he will resolutley answer its because we don't make good films in Blighty. Nice to know they turn out shit over the pond too.

Monday, 20 October 2008

The Rocker Review

If you're going to make a really good music film you have to nail the fictional band at the centre. This is Spinal Tap had the deliriously stupid but spot on Spinal Tap, a mixture of cock, rock and cliche. Almost Famous had the wonderfully believable Stillwater and even School of Rock knew it was music first, script and story second. With The Rocker the fictional band is ADD a whiny, Busted-ish, whiny, soft rock, whiny-pop band. Throw on some skinny jeans and they'd be spot on to the shit you hear on the radio then. The first mis-step this film makes is it treats bands like ADD with respect. Silly film.

1986 Cleveland. Robert "Fish" Fishman is the drummer in Vesuvius a cockrock band one half Guns and Roses, the other half Guns and Roses. Just as the band is about to make it huge the management (always the villains in music films) tell them they have to lose Fish. Not too reluctantly they agree. Fast forward 20 years and Fish still dreams of being a rocker depsite grinding out a miserable existence in a call centre. When his nephews band is minus one drummer Fish steps in. Will Fish's dream come true? Will he learn some nice lessons about stuff? Is Bono a cunt?

Yes, yes and no I'm sure he's a thoroughly nice chap really and he has nothing to do with this movie so I don't know why I brought him up other than for a cheap gag and to full some space while I think of a nice segueway into paragraph 3. The Rocker is the kind of film Will Ferrell would have made (bollocks to the nice segueway) and possibly done something a bit more special with. Although judging by his recent output its probably best Rainn Wilson stepped in as the expectation isn't there. Having not seen the American Office I was unaware of the preposterously named Rainn's shtick and judging solely on this I can see him getting work for a year or two. So best of luck to him.

He's the cause of most of the, admittedly few, chuckles but like with Ms.Faris in The House Bunny his earnestness wins through. Sadly the script isn't there to back him up. While there are some nice touches with references to Almost Famous and the like, they are given equal screentime to adverts for MySpace and Guitar Hero proving that The Rocker is quite definitely a music film for 'now'. And a music film about 'now' doesn't really appeal to me. Unless its about Laura Marling. I like Laura Marling.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

House Bunny Review

The first thing to note when watching The House Bunny is it could have been a lot, lot worse. The reason for this is it comes from the company Happy Madison, which means Adam Sandler's fingerprints are all over it. So how could it be worse? Well imagine if you will Mr. Sandler receiving this script in the late nineties. Then imagine Mr. Sandler thinking "How funny would it be if I played a Playboy bunny?" Or worse still, "Hey Rob Schneider, you wanna play a centrefold?". Thankfully this scenario is purely a product of my overly pessimistic imagination and instead the wonderful Anna Faris got the call.

On the day after her 28th Birthday Shelley (Anna Faris) gets a note from Hugh Heffner saying that she's too old to be a bunny and must leave the playboy mansion. Distraught Shelley wanders the streets until she comes across a sorority full of 'ugly' losers that take her in as their House Mother. While there she teaches them how to get guys to notice them and they in turn teach her how great she is. Cue everyone learning how to be themselves and love each other.

Now if that last line was more of a dominant force in this film it may not be the kind of movie allowed into family muliplexes but its the loving each other for who you are kinda love so here we are. And thats one of, if not the main fault of The House Bunny. Not the fact that its not a dildo and KY fuckfest, but that it doesn't push the boat out further when it comes to the jokes. While one particular response to "I put something extra in your drink" is delivered so ridiculously well this level of risque-ness is quickly put to the background so that the moral message can be forced down our throats.

The balance of the message isn't too bad. Its not quite 'love yourself for who you are' but more 'if you want to change something to make you happier, don't forget who you were'. On this principal alone its a more feminist movie than either Sex and The City or The Women and presents women in a much friendlier light. This is largely due to a strong cast with Kat Dennings and Emma Stone in particular standing out. But the real and only reason you might be tempted into the theatre is to see Anna Faris doing something that many people in Hollywood had forgotten women could do, making you laugh.

Mirrors Review

Such is the abundance of reflective surfaces throughout the duration of this, the 57th J-horror of the year, I imagine the makers of Titanic took longer to settle on a definitive title. If you played a drinking game to everytime you saw a mirror or someone mentioned mirrors during this film you'd deader than Dylan Thomas and George Best before the opening credits had ended. Still even if you just played the 24 drinking game of necking a shot everytime Keifer says "dammit" you'd be pissing your kidney out of your cock in no-time.

Keifer "Jack Bauer, Jack Bauer, Jack Bauer" Sutherland plays Ben Carson, an alcoholic, ex-cop who may or may not have been responsible for killing a fellow police (this fact is largely forgotten when the spooky hits). With his wife and kids spending time away from crazy dad he gets a job as a security guard to prove his life is back on track. The job, however, is looking after a burnt down department store where the mirrors are bad. Bad mirrors. These mirrors send Keef a bit mental so as with all lame remakes Keef gotta find out why.

As its pretty much the Sutherland show the weight of a certain CTU agent hangs heavy over Mirrors. As well as the trademark 'dammits' Keef acts by talking in quiet hushed tones one minute, and the next, he's bellowing "I'm not crazy" in a very crazy fashion indeed. But this is pretty much the most enjoyable thing in Mirrors, seeing how Jack, Ben will go. While for the majority of the film he struggles to keep a lid on it by the end he's holding up nuns at gunpoint threatening to shoot thm in their nunny faces if they don't agree to be turned mental. Go Jack!

The idea of mirrors (or any reflective surface) as the bogeyman is quite a neat idea if you're a bit of a wimp like me, because on exiting the film everywhere you go your bound to bump into you. This horror in the everyday deserves a better vehicle though than this mechanical, by the numbers fright fest. As for the multiple endings, well the first is okay, the second is laughable and the third doesn't quite make sense. Leaving you pondering the question Mirror, Mirror on the wall why did I watch this film at all? Worst ending to a review...ever.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Mutant Chronicles Review

Only twice this year have a caught some zee's whilst movie watching. I know its not exactly professional but I'm watching movies not working as an air traffic controller. What is surprising is the two films I've nodded off to. Not for me the tranquility of a costume drama or some cutesy Disney, oh no, the first was the awful Doomsday a post-apocalyptic vision of the future where claret was thrown around around the set with such repitition it become sleep inducing and the second is The Mutant Chronicles, a post-apocalyptic vision of the future where claret is thrown... you get the idea.

The year is 2727 and the world is fucked (we've got a while then). George Orwell was bang on the money and now the world is divided into a few 'corporations' that fight continuously over the world's last remaining resources. As if things weren't bad enough there is a machine, called 'the machine', which when opened will release weird mutant things to kill everyone with their pointy knife arms. Mitch Hunter (Thoas Jane) is asked by a priest that protects the Mutant Chronicles to go into the heart of the machine and switch it off with a big off switch button. Before you can say Fellowship of the Ring meets Aliens Mitch has gathered a big troop of 'ard people to go save the day.

Inbetween my napping (hey I'd just done a 12 hour shift, give me a break) I was troubled to see how this 'original' piece of cinema was made. When the camera shifted to first person for the fight scenes I realised this is a bollocksing computer game adaptation which automatically makes it shit. Press AB together to shoot a mutant or alternatively play as the mutant and stabby mcstab a soldier in the face by pressing up, up, down, down X. As for the Sky Captain and the World of Tomorow look, when did that bag of spanners become influential?

The eternal question of why some actors turn up in certian films runs through this like a river runs through it. Whatever 'it' is. Ron Perlman (doing a shoddy Irish accent whenever he wants to), Sean Pertwee and Thomas Jane can be forgiven because direct to DVD tosh like this is probably there un-toast and churned milk but Malkotraz?!! Why? You're soon to star in the new Coens and the new Eastwood. You don't have to make a movie every day. Take some time off and play some videogames or something. Altogther now up, up, down, down, X, A, B, stabby, shooty, stabby, stab.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Nights in Rodanthe Review

Before I write my reviews I like to think of some witty hook to hang the entire review on. Contrived? Moi? Well, I was all set with Nights In Rodanthe. I'd written this great opening paragraph about going for a poop halfway through the film and how the poop was burning and runny and painful but how I'd enjoyed the poop more than any of the film and so on and so forth. Sadly the film turned out to be average enough for me to save my poop story/lie (delete where applicable) for another day.

You wouldn't believe it wasn't worse than diarrhoea when you hear this premise. Housewife (Diane Lane) isn't sure if she should go back to her husband after he ran off with some floozy. Doctor (Richard Gere) is a bad father and husband who recently, accidently, killed a patient who was in for plastic surgery. (If only it was more common. Not for burns patients and stuff, just really vain people, your Paris's and the like. Anyway I digress.) Housewife looks after friends hotel (brilliantly stereotypical, black, best friend Viola Davis) where she meets Doctor. They do sex.

If the idea of Richard Gere doing any kind of non-rodent related sex makes you cringe, then you should think about also cringing at the rodent related stuff. Weirdos. So why the 'its not so bad' claim? Well mainly because of some quite topdraw acting from almost everyone involved. Diane 'never been in a good film, never put in a bad performance' Lane puts in a great performance. James 'Owen likes me now because I have range' Franco shows his range. And shows why I like him now. Scott 'can steal a movie with one monologue' Glenn turns up, performs a monologue, fucks off again and almost steals the movie. And Pablo 'Nick Sobotka from The Wire' Schreiber plays his son. He's in The Wire. I like The Wire.

So how about Mr. Silver Horse, sorry Fox, Gere? Well I don't like Richard Gere and for the most part, in this film, I didn't want to put him in a giant hamster ball and roll him of a cliff. So score one for this film. But, but, but. There is an extended montage where Gere and Lane send each letters which is so bad I had to go leave the cinema and have a poop. Only I didn't need a poop so I strained so hard my rectum prolapsed and I had to go to hopsital. Still it was better than watching the end of Nights In Rodanthe.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

88 Minutes Review

There is one question this train wreck of a movie throws up thats worthy of any interest. What would you do if you had 88 minutes to live? Well I would hope that I live within an 88 minute radius of Jon Avnet so that I could kick him square in the balls. Hard. Because for the second time in as many weeks Jon 'best thing on my CV is the producer of the Mighty Ducks Trilogy' Avnet has vomited crap onto my screen. And he's pissed on Al Pacino's chips twice too.

After a series of quite unnecessarily horrible rapes and murders (shot more for titilation than to provoke a reaction of genuine shock) Al Pacino, forensic psychiatrist extraordinaire, puts away the bad guy with that underused skill of 'presenting the facts during a testimony'. The boo hiss, definitely did it, bad guy (Neal McDonough) turns to him once the verdict is read out and chillingly says "Tick, tock Doc". Ooooh time is running out for Mr.Pacino. So 9 years later, thats right 9 full years later (okay, including 3 leap years, possibly) Al gets a phone call telling him he has 88 minutes to live. Thats more like it.

Except its not. Because Al just goes about his daily business for 86 boring minutes until the killer finally shows his masterplan which, despite out hero being 'the greatest headshrinker in the world ever Vol.3', he walks straight into. But attacking this film for one such failing of plot logic would be to miss the point completely. For this is up there with Taken in the 'so unbelievably fucking terrible I couldn't stop laughing' camp of movie. Yeah, sure, Al is as dependable as ever (rarely does he put in a bad performance despite starring in some real turkeys) but sweet Holy Mama this film blows.

The camera work is awful (see the crash zoom in the courtroom. For. Absolutley. No. Reason), the dialogue is laughably bad, it contains some of the worst (and most pointless) flashbacks ever commited to celluloid and it plays the red herring trick in every single scene. This is all supposed to build up to an ending of The Usual Suspects style brilliance but falls short of even being as clever as a typical episode of the Hubba, Hubba, Hubbas in Hoobland. While Taken at least had the guts to be offensive and bad, 88 minutes is just bad. And that kind of offends me more.

Friday, 3 October 2008

How to Lose Friends and Alienate People Review

Those going to watch How to Lose Friends and Alienate People to see if Simon Pegg has sold out to Hollywood. The answer is he hasn't. Those going to see it to see if its a faithful adaptation of Toby Youngs book. It isn't. Those looking to see if its a Curb Your Enthusiasm for the big screen, not quite. But, more importantly than any of these, anyone going to watch this film needs to know one thing. Its a rom-com. Going in with this prior knowledge will help your enjoyment ten-fold. And thankfully its a very, very good rom-com.

Sidney Young (Pegg) is an independent magazine writer with a skeletal staff of bickering idiots. When the head of a major American 'high society' magazine (Jeff Bridges) offers him a job Sidney jumps at the chance. Instead of playing by the rules and doing as he's told Sidney's tactless approach to co-workers and stars alike makes him unpopular but noticed. When he becomes close to fellow journalist Alison Olsen (Kirsten Dunst) he begins to struggle over what he really wants. Fame or Intergrity?

The original memoir had Toby Young lusting over supermodels and generally bitching about the shallowness of celebrity while desperately trying to be included in it. While this may have been a lot of fun (and more biting) in a pseudo documentary format to make it as a 'movie' movie Sidney/Toby has to be more likeable. Enter Simon Pegg and writer Peter Straughn who make the lead not only likeable but, at times, an actually bloody hero. Yeah he can be an arrogant cock, he has a terrible case of foot in mouth but he's moral, fair and in a world full of hypocrites these things stand out like a fat chick at an aftershow party.

With some great British quotable lines ("I've got cock on my hand") and great American farce (the dead dog and stripper are pure Curb) How to... works well for almost all the running time. It loses its way narratively when its becomes clear just how its all going to end but with references to Its A Wonderful Life, The Big Lebowski and Star Wars all in the first reel and a stupidly heartfelt romance at its core it ticks many a box for me. Also it has the idea that working on writing with integrity and passion is reward enough. I have to say that personally...Bollocks to that I've watched 146 films this year, reviewed every one and no-one has offered me so much as a sniff at a paid job. My contact details are on this page. Someone please give me a fucking break. Then hopefully my Alison will follow.

Red Belt Review

Such is the potty mouthed nature of Red Belts screenwriter/director that he's managed to be the inspiration for a joke. It goes like this. A businessman passes a begger and tells him '"Neither a borrower, nor a lender be" - that's William Shakespeare'. The Beggar replies '"Fuck You!" - thats David Mamet'. Now I didn't say it was the funniest joke in the world but it sums up one particular Mametism. Other Mametisms such as regular people being shat on and incredible performances are in spades.

Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Mike Terry a martial arts teacher who is not only the most noble guy in the world but also the nicest, most unselfish and quite importantly for a fight movie, the hardest man in the world. When he saves the life of Tim Allen (yes thats right Home Improvement's Tim Allen) in a bar fight his life changes from the quiet, poor, but noble existence into one that brushes a little too close to a Hollywood lifestyle.

This being Mamet the dangling carrot of bogus happiness is quickly taken away and the people being shat on that I spoke of earlier is turned up to full. The shitters this time are the entertainment industry, from pay-per-view fighting to the filmmakers of Hollywood. At times the film reads like Bambi Vs Godzilla writ large. Which can only be a good thing.

There are faults, however. Plotholes seem to abound toward the end including some huge leaps of faith on the part of the audience and Mamet still can't write women that aren't fucked up or duplicious but as a Never Back Down for people with half a brain Red Belt works just fine. As for Chewies performance I'd be more than happy to see him in a tux come Awards season next year.

Brideshead Revisited Review

"If you were to ask me know who I am, I wouldn't be able to tell you." So says Charles Ryder at the start of this, what I thought was the 57th adaptation of the Evelyn Waugh novel but is in fact the first big screen transfer. Well as opening lines go its a pretty fucking good one and in my recent fragile minded state set me up to what I hoped would be a deep character study of a man unsure of who the hell he is. Unfortunately what turned up on the screen was a lame unrequited love story that finally caused me to use the word boring to describe a period drama. Something I try desperately not to do.

On his first day at Oxford University Charles Ryder (Matthew Goode) befriends Sebastian Flyte (Ben 'Always be Pingu to me' Whishaw) after the latter pukes through the formers window. When proper toff Seb takes wannabe toff Charles to his big ol house in the country, Brideshead, Charles begins to fall in love with the place. And while he's not adverse to getting pissed, snogging and skinny dipping with the obviously gay, obviously infatuated Sebastian, Charles is also not adverse to trying to fuck his sister.

Which is where the film lost me because Matthew Goode does a fine job in making Charles Ryder an extremely sympathetic character in the beginning. When he's being attacked by Sebastians snobby friends he's quite fragile and likeable. At no point does it seem like he's that bothered by the idea of jumping up a class, he's just having some fun with a friend who happens to be well-off enough to drink as a profession. But his decisions later on seem like an uncaring arse who would fuck anyone over to get what he wants.

As the film tries to justify these actions by making his wife a bitch and Sebastian a mess it loses Charles character any clarity. If it just let him be a guy who doesn't always get things right and someone who, really, doesn't know who he is it could have been a lot stronger especially given the qualiy of actors involved. With the crazy Catholicism obessesed mom in the form of Emma Thompson and an aloof father figure in Gambon, the dysfunctional Flyte family could well end up on a 1930's Trisha. But as with Trisha I'd really rather watch something else.