Films. Perhaps additional verbiage.

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“Blood has no nationality…”

So, after a bit of a blogging hiatus, it’s time for some more.

A couple of weeks have gone by and not much is really happening. Still looking for a house for next year, still wondering whether or not Las Vegas is happening or not, and still working on a script that will probably consume my time for a couple more years at least. Fun and games. Anyway.

I be in the pub, having a natter with a few of the guys and contemplating going home and writing more stuff. Considering that the days university agenda involved sitting in an empty room for two hours with no scripts to workshop, stands to reason that we could have got to the pub alot earlier. Ah well.

Anyway, next on the list.

Gattaca

So, I have been meaning to catch this film for some time. I’ve heard numerous good reviews regardng it, and bought it a while ago with the full intention of watching it soon after. No such luck. Sat on the shelf for about a year unwatched.

So,  man who has been written off all his life uses the life of another to follow his dreams, including going to space and banging Uma Thurman (valid dream, yes?) but the murder of his flight commander puts those dreams – and his freedom – in jeopardy.

Right, for some reason WordPress has decided to be shit and delete my old draft of this blog, so I’ll have to write a new one. Expect a blogspot version of this blog in the very near future, possibly even the next post. Anyway.

I seem to be developing an Ethan Hawke problem. Now I don’t doubt that this guy can pull it off, he was good in Daybreakers for what it was, and although he wasn’t on screen for very long in Lord of War, when he was on screen he didn’t disappoint. Problem is, in this film he did for me. It might have been because the nature of the world of the characters called for the majority of the cast to be as uncharismatic as possible, but I think the role needed someone else. Come to think of it, I reckon if Jude Law and Ethan Hawke had swapped roles this would have made a better film. Hawke’s character requires almost uncharismatic charisma. It needs him to emanate charm without trying, and Law can do that. Why else was he chosen to play Alfie?

I love the idea of this film, and it is executed believably, but I don’t think it really hits home on an enjoyment level. It has all the right elements, just not enough of them. Everything is average. Except for Alan Arkin. To memory I have only seen Alan Arkin in this and Little Miss Sunshine, and he was brilliant in both. For me he pulled this movie up from dull to enjoyable, so a solid 6 out of 10. Harsh, maybe, but I bought the DVD so I shall stick to my guns.

Right, another one bites the dust. Next review might be a while, owing to writing necessities and such. With that in mind I will impart the title of my next review, when I review it. Stay tuned.

Oh, and I have created that blogspot account, because WordPress is beginning to annoy me: http://adcaudle.blogspot.com/ – Next one will be on there.

 

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“Never ain’t here yet…”

Firstly, before I carry on with the general practice of reviewing motion pictures, I feel I should take a moment out of my obviously hectic schedule, and tip the would-be bowler to a special group of people –

Cinema employees.

Now I know that a few of you guys read this, so kudos to you, but to those who don’t work in a cinema, take note: We put up with alot of shit. Now granted this may not be as much as say barstaff, because they have no end of crap heading their way every night, but some of the crap that does come our way quite frankly is just unreasonable. Hell, I was insulted the other day for not letting a 14/15 year old child into Black Swan without ID, and her mother kicks up a fuss. Really!?

In all seriousness folks, we are not paid to put up with shit at work. We aren’t paid to put up with abuse, there is no reason for it, and it just makes work more stressful for everyone concerned. So if you’re thinking about taking someone who may look underage to see a 15 or 18 rated film, Get a Fucking Passport!!!

Anyway, now that that small, stupid pocket of the British public is known, back onto reviews, reviews reviews galore.

Appaloosa

Now this one had quietly slipped under the viewing radar for quite some time, having only been released in 14 screens across the US and only 169 screens over here. Which is hard to imagine, considering the cast on show (Ed Harris, Jeremy Irons, Renee Zellweger and Viggo F*ckin’ Mortensen). Might have been because this one was done for a relatively small budget and that the studios wanted to keep Ed Harris’ directing low key, but anyway.

Appaloosa – Two lawmen-for-hire (Harris, Mortensen) arrive in the town of Appaloosa, which is under the thumb of outlaw Randall Bragg (Irons). They proceed to restore order whilst both falling under the gaze of Allison French (Zellweger) a woman who may be more than she first appears.

She isn’t.

Now what, in honest truth, shocked me the most about this film, was that it was tragically mediocre. The set-up quite frankly is fantastic, there are also two wonderfully sharp ‘bitchslap’ moments and it has such a talented cast (which also includes Timothy Spall, who walks on water dontcha know!). But this film, for me, just fails to ignite.

I find that the reason for this is (and I hate to say this) Ed Harris. He directed, co-wrote and starred, and already that is a recipe for disaster. He has no-one above him telling him “No Ed, you’re being a dick, this film is really about Viggo’s character” and as a result his performance is really an attempt at show-stealing, and it doesn’t work. As talented as Harris undoubtedly is (and his dad is in this, oh yes, Bob Harris is still among the living folks!), Mortensen is a far superior actor. Hell, even on the DVD cover, Harris is further into the foreground than Mortensen, our supposed main protagonist. It just doesn’t work as an Ed Harris vehicle.

Also, Timothy Spall should stick to English accents. He wasn’t much good as an American. It’s Sean Bean from Silent Hill all over again, and it shouldn’t happen to wonderful British acting talent. Jeremy Irons can pull it off, but he has a proven track record of accents, all of them coming from Die Hard with a Vengeance, so he’s an obvious choice. Spall? No.

If I haven’t mentioned it yet, I will now. Zellweger was crap. Did nothing for me.

Although there are alot of negatives to this film, it is still watchable. Mortensen quite frankly should have shared the screen with Irons for the whole film, but we can’t have everything. Still, it’s ok if you want a fairly mundane western with a bit of a twist and turn in it, nothing special.

Oh, and Lance Henriksen. Beat that True Grit.

Next up will be a film I have been meaning to watch for some time now.

Gattaca.

“I’m talking to a plastic plant…and I’m still doing it.”

…So the antibiotics have kicked in. Pain-free until at least the 26th one can hope. So, to matters of a scholarly nature.

Assignments are in. Must admit I am not all that fond of having group work to do, being a more solitary writing entity, but I’ll chip in as I always do. Quite looking forward to putting together some advertising material for the feature though, should be interesting to see what I can get done in the allotted time.

Also, I have had the chance to plough a little further into the script itself. Still a long way off, but we’re getting there so we are. I’m thinking a few days solid spent on it will get me past the finish line of first draft status, then I can look back and start to rip it to pieces.

Anyway, back to this reviewing malarky. Next up:

The Happening

Now, I haven’t seen a Shyamalan film since Signs. Never saw The Village or Lady in the Water, and I had no real interest in seeing this one, as I am not that big a fan of Mark Wahlberg, and to be honest, Shyamalan as well. I didn’t enjoy Signs. So I guess I went into this one with a closed eye to any qualities it might have possessed.

So, The Happening tells the tale of a man and his straying (not quite estranged, good start) wife who are caught in the middle of mysterious happenings in the US, when people suddenly start stopping dead, walking a few steps backwards and then killing themselves in spectacular (or unspectacular, if you count the old woman near the end) ways.

Spoiler Alert – I am going to ruin this films ending in this blog. I don’t often do this, but whoever doesn’t want to know, go and read something else. Now.

Jesus. Shitting. Christ.

Okay, first off, you have the main cast, Mark ‘I’m on camera so that must mean I can act’ Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel, who is no good in this, and John Leguizamo, whose awesome talents were completely wasted in this film, pottering around when suddenly and without explanation people start to die. Not in a horrible way that would suggest malice, but of their own volition, which in itself is quite a sinister thought. Often in reality something must have really gone wrong in someones life for them to even entertain the notion of ending it. In all truth, this film might be the trigger that makes me end mine.

Now don’t get me wrong, the idea is astounding. People committing mass suicide. Why? Who knows, so Intrepid hero and his trusty wife and small hispanic friend set out to find out – except our hero is Mark Wahlberg, and they kill off John Leguizamo after half an hour. So the idea of creating a menacing scenario soon dies and becomes a stupid film that ends with the MOTHER of all twists. Wait for it…

 

IT WAS THE TREES!!!!

 

Yes. The trees. After making The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable (the former having a fine twist, the latter being one of my favourite films), M. Night Shyamalan makes this horseshit with the twist being that “some kind of evolutionary change in the plants is making them turn people suicidal”. Fuck off, I’ve seen more original and quite frankly more entertaining things in the bottom of a porcelain bowl. I just don’t see how he could have taken such a disturbingly good concept and screwed it up so badly. The casting of Wahlberg I can almost forgive, but only because even without him the film would have been shit.

Honestly, there were a couple of things I really liked about this film. There were some awesome set pieces, like people hanging from trees in a surburban street, the workmen launching themselves from the top of a building and some guy lying down in front of an active lawnmower. Oh, and that annoying kid from the Santa Clause movies gets a shotgun shell in the chest. Best moment of the whole film for me. Other than that, probably some of the poorest material to come out of Hollywood in 2008. Hell, apparently some of the affected victims could survive the effects a little longer than others. Just so they could explain what was going on. Bullshit. The audience is intelligent Shyamalan, get back to realising that.

So, with that utter crap out of the way, whats next? This is.

Appaloosa.

“You Sold me Queer Giraffes!”

Right, thanks to a Norwegian dental surgeon that can quite frankly chew on my testicles, posts for the foreseeable future will be erratic. Now need a tooth removed, and until it happens I shall be in a fair amount of pain, even with all the painkillers under the sun propping up my innards. However, I am in a good enough condition to write, so write I shall, until the need for sleep takes over. About twenty minutes from now then.

So, already there are many films on the list that require a watch – Black Swan, 127 Hours, The Kings Speech to name but a few. Not to mention the abundant list of titles filling up my shelving. So, to the next one.

Gladiator

Right, now the details of this one are pretty basic – Roman General is betrayed by the Emperors Son, becomes a Gladiator and seeks his revenge. I’m assuming anyone reading this blog has a basic knowledge of film and as such has seen this film at least twice, so let’s move on as you know the film already.

I really enjoyed it the first time. Not so much this time.

Now it may be that I am under dental duress, or it may be that I have tended to only review films I enjoy and thus I am feeling a little harsh towards this one, but I found certain elements of Gladiator a little bit irritating this time round. Take for example the chronic Englishness of it all. Now I know this is me being ultra-picky and I can already hear the cries of “Ben-Hur was in English too!” but Ben-Hur was made by American film-makers who as far as I’m concerned don’t know any better. They are Roman, let the language at least be of that time or something like it. However, like I said, that’s incredibly picky.

Something less picky is Joaquin Phoenix. I remember some time ago I reviewed Buffalo Soldiers and I remember labelling him average. I stand by that. He brought nothing special to Gladiator either. He was okay when he got bitter and whiney when people were picking on Caesar (The lone native word used in this whole film other than ‘Praetorian’) but other than that Phoenix was bog standard. And get this, and I’ll put it in italics so it seems like a whisper…

 

So was Russell Crowe…

 

Now I’ve heard the new stories about how he flipped when someone labelled his accent in Robin Hood as ‘a bit Irish’, and in certain placed in that film I could agree, thing is he does it in this as well. Only once or twice, but still, he needs to talk to a language coach, specifically the one that taught Johnny Depp English.

Anyway, Irishness aside, Crowe was not special in this film. All I got from it was him waving a big stick about and shouting a few memorable lines that were probably put in big capital letters on the script so Ridley Scott could think “Ah, memorable line” but Crowe took as “Ah, Shoutey Shoutey”.He was okay, passable, nothing more. Hell, Mark Strong would have been better. There. It’s been said. Fighting words.

Also, I must admit that for a big budget film made by an English director, some of the camerawork and special effects are, quite frankly, piss poor. The instances when Crowe is lying down and it looks like he is moving? No. It looks tacky, and no justification can explain that away. Also, The Ridley’s use of slow or distorted motion? Pointless. From a technical standpoint these two little problems really drag this film down in my eyes. It doesn’t ruin it, but it detracts from what is otherwise a gorgeous looking movie.

Now going back to the acting, don’t get me wrong, this film is really good. Rarely does the Ridley let us British audiences down. He didn’t with this one, it was a corker. But not because of Crowe or Phoenix. Lord no, they were carried.

Step forward (or shuffle forward if you’re dead) Oliver Reed, Derek Jacobi, Richard Harris, Djimon (Motherf**kin’) Hounsou, David Hemmings, and Connie Nielsen. Were it not for that casting, this film would be utter shit. Now I am well aware that of all of the British elements of that supporting cast, Hemmings, Harris and Reed are all dead and Jacobi may as well be, but if it weren’t for their rampant pessimism Crowe would have looked like a Roman crackhead saying “there was once a dream that was Rome”. English negativity made this film great I say! In all seriousness, Reed was excellent as an ex-Gladiator turned trainer (Giraffes. Enough Said.), Harris was awesome and made Phoenix look ten times better than he is. Hemmings? Hells. Yeah. Jacobi was also very steady and at times wonderfully mis-trusting and bitter. After all, he is British. Add to that Connie ‘I also made Phoenix look ten time better than he is’ Nielsen and The Djimon, who aside from The Island and Push never does a bad movie, and we got ourselves a winner.

Now, going along the vein of wanting to watch films that I have never seen before in the hope that maybe I’ll find one I don’t like, the next film on my list is The Happening.

“How Fast can you Dig?”

Oh, tomorrow there will be snow angels.

Well, Christmas Day has passed and all is well. There was Guinness, and undersized Y-fronts (You don’t want to know, I’m not going to tell you) and enough to keep me occupied for the day. Roll on Boxing Day and more present-filled shenanigans!

In the meantime, I sit up around 1am and think of things to do. I don’t really have any energy for writing my script at this hour, but I do find myself inspired to think about a critical scene towards what will be the end of it. I have made notes on it and I’ll get to it when I get to it. Thanks go to the film that will be the subject of the next post’s review, which I’ll mention at the end as always.

Now, back on topic, the next film under my reviewing scope:

The Prestige.

Story in brief: One magician is in prison facing death for murder, the other is dead. The story follows these two men as their lives led to this point.

One thing I have come to expect from Christopher Nolan is that you can never take any of his works at face value. Memento is a classic example. Man retracing his steps by practically living backwards. I never truly know what to expect with a Nolan film, and that includes Jonathan Nolan, other than one thing: I am never going to be disappointed.

For me, The Prestige sits in the same category for twist endings as The Usual Suspects. It’s pretty much flawless. I won’t reveal any spoilers, because I hate spoilers myself, but that ending has to be seen to be believed. The only thing that The Usual Suspects has over it is the source of the twist itself. However, The Prestige counters that by dropping the answer right in your lap in the first ten minutes, then spending the whole film convincing you it isn’t what the film just told you it was. It makes the whole experience that more enriching, knowing you’ve just been screwed over by a film director. It makes it even more enriching knowing that you loved every single second of it.

I must admit, if I had the wish to create a ‘top 20 movies of all time’ this would be one of my first entries. I don’t do that sort of thing because there are just so many fantastic films out there. I don’t have a favourite film either, but I digress. There is just nothing wrong with this film. It’s believable, edgy, witty, suspenseful and downright awesome.

If I were to change anything, and I mean if I seriously HAD to, it would have been to re-cast Hugh Jackman. I wouldn’t, because he is amazing in this film. He delivers his character really well, has a great chemistry with Bale and Michael Caine, and is just faultless. But if I seriously had to choose anything, it’d be him. Might just be because his role would suit alot of other actors.

Anyway, The Prestige is awesome. I love it.

So, that was a fairly standard review. Next up is one I haven’t watched in a few years, but I will brush up on it and give it a once over. Ah, Greeners, you will hate me if I get this wrong.

Gladiator.

“That’s alot of Fish…”

So, with Bon on her way home and with my own packing nearly done, I take a break for some Halo: Reach, and to muse upon the coming hours. It’s going to be a fun one, got a train to catch at 7 to take me to Birmingham of all places. Then from there it’ll be a train at half 10 to get me to Shrewsbury by half 11. All this carrying presents that I would normally pack in a car. No fucker said christmas was about making sense.

Having finally got christmas shopping all finished, it’s nice to be able to sit back and take stock of things. Such as the fact that January will mark the start of the last five or six months of Uni as an undergraduate, save some daftly decided day in November when we actually have to pay to stand around looking flouncey.

Anyway, as promised, a small explanation is required. My friends and I have started to designate names to our regular haunts in town. Not by any means are any of these places seedy, they are simply growing personalities due to us spending so much sodding time within their confines, much like mafia New York. The list, as I understand it thus far, is as follows:

The Opium Den: HMV

The Crackhouse: Forbidden Planet

The Minimum-Wage Sweatshop – The Old Fat Cat

Hopefully there will be some kind of gambling den and whorehouse added to that list, because we all spend so much damn time in the same old places.

Anyway, with that out of the way, we move on to our next reviewing endeavour.

Godzilla.

Now before we continue, I will state now that I haven’t seen any of the original Godzilla’s or ‘Gojira’, so I am only going to review the 1998 version based on its own merits.

So, basic story – French Polynesian nuclear tests mutate the egg of an Iguana which leads to the creation of Godzilla, a huge monster that makes its way to and tears apart NYC. Tasked with figuring out how to stop it is Niko Tatopoulus (Matthew Broderick), along with his dim-witted reporter ex-girlfriend Audrey (Maria Pitillo) and some guy called Animal played by Hank Azaria.

Now this film is genuinely mildly rubbish. Everything about it screams “yeah, Roland Emmerich movie, bargain bin it and give me something Ed Zwick wiped his arse with”. From the tacky dialogue to the dated and obvious CGI, even the casting wasn’t particularly good. Having seen 2012 with John Cusack, it seems to be that Emmerich has a penchant for taking seemingly weak and feeble leading men and making them action heroes. It never works. Cusack, Broderick and Jake Gyllenhaal, shame on you all.

The problem (if you could call it one) is that I really enjoy this film. The reason for that is just that it is tacky and dated.

And because there’s some French guy in it called Jean Reno.

I am a big fan of Reno. Aside from the Pink Panther remakes which I will not see on general principle (those principles being that Steve Martin hasn’t made a good film for years, and I will not sully my memories of Peter Sellers and the original film by giving that crap my attention) I watch as much Reno as I can. Leon? Brilliant. Ronin? Awesome. Godzilla? Horseshit, but Reno makes it fun. A Frenchman playing a French character that does Elvis impressions and chews gum to pass himself off as American? I may slate Emmerich, but thats worth a watch.

Anyway, my fangasm aside, Godzilla is really bargain bin material. It’s great if you just want something on to pass the time, but if you are looking for something more engaging and challenging, look no further than my next instalment, coming soon.

The Prestige.


Ein! Zwei! Die!

…Because there is just NO other way to open this entry, folks. None.

So, here I sit, watching Godzilla with young Macina, and looking up its director, a Mr. Roland Emmerich, who must be one of the most depressed men alive. Not because he’s German and they lost that thing that Basil Fawlty says we mustn’t talk about, not because he’s in Hollywood making movies. It’s because the movies he makes all revolve around the end of some form of civilization, be it New York City (Godzilla), the Northern Hemisphere of the Earth (The Day After Tomorrow) or everywhere on Earth except Africa, which apparently floats (2012). Emmerich just has a thing for killing off lots and lots of people. The man either has a rather radical theory about the overpopulation of our planet (which in a roundabout way I agree with) or he just likes mass genocide and hasn’t done any research into Slobodan Milosevic yet. Time will tell. Apparently it’s a Shakespeare film for him next. So a Hollywood tidal wave is coming to wipe out everything but Hamlet, because you just know that man packed a dinghy.

Anyway, Emmerich and my rantings aside, we come to the next film in this ever-growing expanse of reviewing nerditry.

Dead Snow.

Let me say that again.

Dead F**king Snow.

The story is this: Nazi Zombies in Norway. Unaware and nerdy backpackers. A Chainsaw. A Snowmobile.

Verdict? Fucking awesome!

I picked up the box for this film when I first saw it in the Opium Den (explanation next time) and it just looked so goddamn tacky that I had to see it. It looked like a film in the same vein as Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus (which by the way is so bad that it’s hilarious), the tacky, made-on-a-budget straight-to-DVD release that should start life in the bargain bin. By all accounts, this film should be absolute horseshit. But it’s not. It’s actually a half decent stab at zombie horror, with some utterly brilliant nerd protagonists! It’s almost like some Norwegian guy saw The Big Bang Theory, hated it and decided to kill off its characters in a way that beggars belief. This film is brutal in all the right places to make it both morbid and stupidly funny, there’s enough gore to satisfy the bloodthirsty, enough comedy to satisfy the Zombieland fans, and just enough backstory and character believability for me to say “you know what, I’d actually spend around £10 on that”. Luckily for me a friend got it for me for christmas, so I can sit back and save that £10, as I watch and re-watch ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King’ used to create one of the best horror movie openings I have ever seen. All for less than £100 by the looks of it. Spectacular!

Next up – you guessed it folks, Godzilla.