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The Lovers, the Dreamers, and Emma [28 Aug 2014|07:57pm]

[ mood | okay ]

I've posted a review of the older version of Madame Bovary over at my journal.


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25: Palo Alto [29 Aug 2014|03:54am]

[ mood | busy ]

Originally posted by audrey_e at Movie 25: Palo Alto

25 PALO ALTO (US, 2013)
Dir: Gia Coppola
Cast: Emma Roberts, Jack Kilmer, James Franco, Nat Wolff...


Palo Alto follows a few months in the lives of confused and somewhat depressed high school kids.

Palo Alto does not have a very clear plot, but attempts to capture the wide range of emotions adolescents experience, and more specifically the frustrating lack of control that tends to define the early years of our lives.
A critic claimed that it is one of the best films ever made about high school, and I agree.The characters are a good sample of the personalities usually found in high school, and all of them are given enough screen time to be fairly well rounded. The cast is also very convincing.
It is impossible not to see the similarities between Gia Coppola and Sofia Coppola's cinematography and concerns. I am curious to see where the former's career is eventually going to take her.

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Only God Forgives and The Place Betond The Pines [28 Aug 2014|09:04pm]

[ mood | awake ]

A Ryan Gosling Double:

ONLY GOD FORGIVES is not an easy watch. It is so distinctively and beautifully shot that on a purely visual level the film is breathtakingly good. Days after seeing the film I am still recalling certain sequences and shots with wonder and awe. Following the story takes a little bit of work though which is not necessarily a problem but it will I think, divide audiences.
Writer/director Nicolas Winding Refn once again tells a story where conscious, unconscious, metaphor and actual events are given more or less equal screen time and with minimal dialogue and zero narration the viewer is left to follow and interpret the story for themselves. In the director's commentary Refn quotes one critic who approached him at Cannes and suggested that 'The whole film takes place inside a vagina.' I don't think it does, but if you make your brain quint a little you can see what they mean.
The performances from the whole cast is as fantastic as the visuals that surround them. I would go as far as saying that the film reminds me a little of early David Lynch (in a good way) but is very much its own beast. If you don't mind doing a bit of the work yourself this is a fantastic film.

THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES is slightly more conventional in style but is still a quite different film experience. The structure of the film immediately sets it apart from the crowd as at different points in the film the story shifts focus from one 'central character' to another. Hitchcock's Psycho would be a good example of another film that does this with the story first following Janet Leigh and then abruptly Anthony Perkins. Once again there is a superb cast that keep you hooked throughout as the story examines how the consequences of our actions can take years to fully play out. While not as heavily stylised as Only God Forgives this too is also beautifully shot.

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"TWO WEEKS NOTICE" (2002) Review [26 Aug 2014|11:00pm]


"TWO WEEKS NOTICE" (2002) Review

I wrote this REVIEW about the 2002 romantic comedy, "TWO WEEKS NOTICE". Written and directed by Marc Lawrence, the movie starred Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant.
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I Ain't Just Whistlin' Dixie [26 Aug 2014|05:24pm]

[ mood | hungry ]

As part of a two-part episode of Hit Me With Your Best Shot, I reviewed and picked shots from the first two and last two hours of Gone With The Wind.

Part 1:
Part 2:

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"The Hunter" Has A Strong Central Performance From Dafoe, But Is A Bit Empty Overall [26 Aug 2014|12:10am]


The Hunter (2011)

Willem Dafoe is a great actor. However, I rarely see him in a leading role.

There is no doubt that Dafoe carries this leisurely-paced indie drama. Even playing such a reclusive character his performance is crammed full of emotion.

Right from the start we discover that he is being employed to find and kill the last remaining tazmanian tiger, yet Dafoe is always wholly relateable. We always sympathise with his character in spite of his questionable motives.

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Well, I Guess You Could Argue That It's Original...? [24 Aug 2014|09:34pm]

[ mood | uncomfortable ]

I've posted a review of the movie The Outlaw Josey Wales over at my journal.


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"IRON MAN" (2008) Review [20 Aug 2014|07:45pm]


"IRON MAN" (2008) Review

I wrote this REVIEW of the 2008 comic book hero movie, "IRON MAN". Directed by Jon Favreau, the movie starred Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark aka Iron Man.
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"Guardians of the Galaxy" Has A Generic Plot and Shallow Characters, But It's Still Fun... [20 Aug 2014|09:35pm]


Guardians Of The Galaxy (2014)

Remember how in the mid-credits sequence at the end of Thor 2, Benicio Del Toro explains that the Ether was just one of six planet-destroying magic stones? Well it turns out he wasn't kidding. Here in "Guardians of the Galaxy" they really do just find another sparkly magic rock with very little to distinguish it from the one we found in 'Avengers' and the one we found in 'Thor 2'. And speaking of indistinguishable, we also get a villain who is basically a stand-in for Loki, only with none of the charisma.

All that being said, "Guardians of the Galaxy" looks gorgeous. The design of the world in which the characters live is fantastic. I feel like I'm damning with faint praise here (just like when I said that "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" was better than "Battle for the Planet of the Apes"), but it has to be said that "Guardians of the Galaxy" comes across rather like a Star Wars movie and, to my mind, it wipes the floor with the Star Wars prequels. We see a variety of awesomely designed environments building a full world in which the characters can exist with flying vehicles and technology for them to use.

Sadly the characters themselves seem incomplete. It seems to me that the more important the characters were, the less interesting they were. The big surprise actually was Groot the humanoid tree-person. Actually one reason why he wasn't as goofy as I'd been expecting is because he's basically Swamp Thing. Sure, he's more like Swamp Thing before John Constantine comes along to tell him he's essentially a nature god, but there's still time for Groot to develop that way. Marvel actually have their own more clear-cut Swamp Thing clone, but that's Man Thing (a name I cannot imagine catching on) and he's already had one of their least impressive movie outings. Anyway, the variety of plant-based powers exhibited by Groot is by far the most creative element of the film. And he's not really the most central of the characters.

Click here for the rest of the review...
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Mud and The Dallas Buyers Club [19 Aug 2014|07:16pm]

[ mood | awake ]

So much has the renaissance in Matthew McConaughey's career been noted of late that it has been given its own terminology (which I wont name here for fear of excessive eye rolling). For me the most recent section of his career reminds me a little bit of Brad Pitt - I still have very little time for the romantic lead roles in which he primarily made his name but once he started player more character roles and stretching his acting chops the more his talent was revealed. Similarly with the two actors the more they did this successfully the more chances they were given to play the more interesting roles.

MUD sees McConaughey play a man on the run from both the law and people who are trying to kill him. Two young teenage boys find him hiding out on a small secluded island in the Mississippi - and they form an uneasy alliance. The film is full of great performances. The boys are played brilliantly as are all the folk we see trying to eke out their living from the river which is itself as much of a character as Mark Twain had concluded in his writings. There is nothing about this film which isn't convincing and evocative of that particular time and place - including McConaughey's star turn.

Dallas Buyers Club sees McConaughey strut his stuff in a very different kind of role. Here he plays a rodeo performer who is diagnosed with HIV and given barely a month to live. McConaughey's intensely physical performance totally steals the show here. We see him gaunt and ill (how much weight did he lose for this?!) but also at times inspiringly defiant and determined to fight not only his disease but the big pharmaceutical companies who put their own profits ahead of peoples lives.

If you only see one Matthew McConaughey film, I would have to go with Dallas Buyers Club (though Mud is also brilliant). But as a footnote, the recent tv series 'True Detective' starring McConaughey and Woody Harelson is (I think) even better again.

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TV Movies! "The Best Of Men" Features Marsan On Top Form, "Labyrinth" Is A Disappointment From Smith [18 Aug 2014|10:57pm]


The Best of Men (2012 TV Movie)

Sure, it's a made-for-tv movie and it feels like it. Nevertheless, the performances are so good and everything is just handled so well that I just felt joy from beginning to end. There's not a lot in the way of impressive directorial flourishes, but there is a good story told well and emotionally engaging as all hell.

At the centre of it all is Eddie Marsan playing the true-life figure, Dr. Ludwig Guttmann, a German doctor who is finally allowed to treat spinal patients in Britain during the latter half of World War II. Marsan has a very wide range as an actor, but this is definitely my favourite performance from him so far.

Click here for the rest of the review...

Labyrinth (2012 TV Series)

Oh dear me Christopher Smith, what happened?

Christopher Smith has become one of my favourite directors. While there's a decidedly annoying decision for one of the scenes in his first movie "Creep" it was nevertheless a pretty cool debut. He followed it up with "Severance" which I saw in the cinema upon its release. Not realising that it was the same director, nor how great it would be, I missed "Triangle" in cinemas (not least because I thought it was about the Bermuda Triangle - which it isn't). And his latest film "Black Death", with Sean Bean, was one of the better "medieval horror" films of late (others being "Centurion", "Valhalla Rising", "Season of the Witch", "Solomon Kane" and arguably also "13 Assassins").

It's been a rather long wait since "Black Death" and it seems that Christopher Smith has tried to transition to tv. (Something it seems that the very similar director Neil Marshall has already successfully managed by directing the excellent 'Blackwater' episode of "Game of Thrones" and starting the series "Black Sails", which I hope will be rather less disappointing than this was.) Unfortunately he seems to have chosen a 'Da Vinci Code' knockoff. I remembered seeing Kate Mosse's book "Labyrinth" in bookshops and I always thought it came before Dan Brown's cheesy bestseller. But it seems I was mistaken.

What's perhaps most annoying of all is that "Labyrinth" is about the massacre of the Cathars in the 13th Century. It's a really interesting historical event to base a drama around. Unfortunately Kate Mosse's book is instead about some kind of mystical books supposedly connected with the Holy Grail. To be frank, I'd rather be watching the bleeding Indiana Jones movie if we are going to go that goofy.

Click here for the rest of the review...
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Can't Stop the Seventies [17 Aug 2014|11:28pm]

[ mood | full ]

I've posted a review of Saturday Night Fever over at my journal.


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"How To Train Your Dragon 2" Is Fun, But The First One Was Much Better.... [17 Aug 2014|07:06pm]


How To Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)

I'm not so fond as most with the first HTTYD movie. I think it's great, but not up there with the best Pixar films. Still these films are actually based on a book series, so there's presumably a fairly wide scope to expand the HTTYD universe.

That being said, while this sequel kept promising to expand the universe in interesting directions, it doesn't really go very far.

It's quite bizarre how HTTYD2 both starts and finishes by saying that their town is special because they have dragons, despite having encountered a whole bunch of other people who have dragons over the course of the story.

Click here to read the rest of the review...
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Director Showcase: Ronny Yu [17 Aug 2014|02:12pm]


Ronny Yu is a Hong Kong director who I know first and foremost for his highly entertaining contributions to two 80s horror franchises. On the one hand, there's my absolute favourite entry in the Child's Play franchise "Bride of Chucky", which managed to successfully combine both the horror and comedy elements as well as introducing the awesome character of Tiffany to reinvigorate the series. On the other hand there's "Freddy Vs Jason", a film which combined the Friday The 13th series and the A Nightmare On Elm Street series and acted as an homage to both, establishing itself as one of the better entries in both franchises.

However, Ronny Yu also has some background in martial arts films and perhaps his most revered is "Fearless". I've also now checked out a low budget flick starring Bruce Lee's son Brandon (who so famously died making the early comicbook flick "The Crow") called "Legacy of Rage" and Ronny Yu's latest contribution "Saving General Yang".

Fearless (2006)

An interesting tale about a fighter who stands against western imperialism. I don't know to what extent it could be called a 'true' story, but it's an interesting one all the same.

Click here for the rest of the review...

Long zai jiang hu (1986) (Legacy of Rage)

I wouldn't say that I exactly hated this action flick with Brandon Lee, but the acting is bad, the storytelling is somewhat confused and our protagonist has the most unlikely friend ever who, early and obviously, betrays him.

Click here for the rest of the review...

Saving General Yang (2013)

It should be noted right off the bat that this is not a beautiful artsy action film like "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon" or "Hero". There's still parts that look good, but it's not going for that same colourful fantasy vision. Things are kept relatively plausible in this film.

While it could be partially a result of the translations used for the subtitles, the dialogue feels a little stilted. Everyone is very uptight and it's rather difficult to identify with the characters. But oddly the character which irritated me the most was the wise Buddhist monk they approach.

There's some political wranglings at the beginning regarding an accidental death during a tournament and some fighting taking place against rival armies. (Our protagonists are serving the Emperor of the Song Dynasty and their enemies are Khitans serving the Empress of the Liao Dynasty.) General Yang is cornered fairly early on in the film during his skirmish with the Khitans and his wife asks a wise monk in the mountains for advice.

Click here for the rest of the review...
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"EVIL UNDER THE SUN" (1982) Review [16 Aug 2014|08:58pm]


"EVIL UNDER THE SUN" (1982) Review

I wrote this REVIEW of "EVIL UNDER THE SUN", the 1982 adaptation of Agatha Christie's 1941 novel. Peter Ustinov starred as Hercule Poirot.
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Super Sci-Fi Review Selection 19: "Under The Skin" Is Atmospheric, But Not Much Else... [16 Aug 2014|05:33pm]


Under The Skin (2013)

I've heard a lot of mixed impressions of this film, with some lauding it as one of the best films of the year. So, as a sci-fi fan, I realised there was a possibility that I could love this. I heard it was a bit artsy and possibly rather dull, but I mistakenly believed I knew the story it was based on, which meant that I was convinced that the climax would definitely be exciting regardless of what came before.

After some hard searching I've found the story I believed this was going to be adapting and I do admittedly feel a little silly. My mind was immediately drawn to a short story called "Hitch-Hiker" from a collection of short stories entitled "Break of Dark" by Robert Westall. Westall is perhaps best known for "The Machine Gunners" and is a children's writer. But "Hitch-Hiker" was a story about a man travelling around near Glasgow who is surprised to find a beautiful naked woman stranded outside his tent. It becomes clear as the story progresses that she is an alien.

Now looking at wikipedia plot summary for the book "Under The Skin" it appears that the film isn't a particularly faithful adaptation. But the themes are a little different. This isn't quite as simple as an 'evil alien' plotline.

Click here for the rest of the review...
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"The Moral Landscape of the STAR WARS Saga" - Luke Skywalker [14 Aug 2014|06:32pm]


"The Moral Landscape of the STAR WARS Saga" - Luke Skywalker

I wrote this ARTICLE on the moral ambiguities of Luke Skywalker.
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Maybe You Should Head Over to the Delta Quadrant; There's Some Idiots in Trouble Over There [14 Aug 2014|05:21pm]

[ mood | satisfied ]

I've posted a review of Guardians of the Galaxy over at my journal.

Review here:

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Movie - Coherence [14 Aug 2014|01:29am]

I just saw Coherence last night.

No spoilers. Just a call out for feedback about the camerawork and visual style.

I found the camerawork to be disturbing for two reasons - there was quite a lot of shakiness and there were many instances of blurriness and a change of focus.

The shot would be focused on a person talking and then the focus would blur for no apparent reason. It did not seem to be tied in to what the character was saying or what was happening in the scene. It did not seem to advance the plot in any way.

Also, there was a lot of "shaky cam" going on in the movie. Black Hawk Down used the camera movement in the beach scenes to convey the feeling of running and acceleration. Blair Witch Project used a jittery camera to make it feel like a real home movie. I didn't understand why this technique was used in Coherence.

The focal changes and the shakiness kept reminding me that it was a movie and that a person was using a camera to record the events. I think that it takes the viewer out of the experience and makes it hard to pretend that you are an omniscient watcher.

What do y'all think?
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"MOONRAKER" (1979) Review [12 Aug 2014|07:15pm]

Moonraker 2

"MOONRAKER" (1979) Review

I wrote this REVIEW of "MOONRAKER", the 1979 adaptation of Ian Fleming's 1955 novel. Directed by Lewis Gilbert, the movie starred Roger Moore as James Bond.
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