Monday, 31 March 2014

Did You Hear About the Morgans?
Dir: Marc Lawrence
2009
*
It's hard to tell whether Sarah Jessica Parker overacted so much that Hugh Grant couldn't do anything or if Hugh Grant was so bad in his performance Sarah Jessica Parker tried too hard to compensate. The name to avoid from now on: Marc Lawrence. Poor old Sam Elliott and Mary Steenburgen, whose characters had legs, were left without opportunity to do anything. You can almost see the disappointment/frustration/knowing realisation that they were stuck in a crap movie with no easy way out. This is a crap movie.
The Dilemma
Dir: Ron Howard
2011
*
If the audience isn't sympathetic with the characters why should they care? Are we supposed to be sympathetic towards Kevin James because he's, for want of a better phrase, cuddly? We could also be sympathetic towards Winona Ryder but then she's a women and this is (a poor attempt at) a guys film, so that's somehow not an option. The story has possibilities, the challenging of the other man (played by Channing Tatum) was close to good but should have been better. It's missed opportunity after missed opportunity. Not sure what the point of Queen Latifah's character even was? I like Ron Howard, and he's made some great films, he's just not very dependable. It's hard to believe he made the incredible Rush as a follow up.
Jumanji
Dir: Joe Johnston
1995
**
Once again, I'm in 'last person to see' territory. In all fairness I don't know if nostalgia would ever have been on its side, I wasn't into this kind of film back in 1995 and I'm still not. It hasn't aged that well and I'm not sure it was ever that good in the first place. I'm glad this early 90's fantasy genre was short lived.
The Campaign
Dir: Jay Roach
2012
**
When it comes to producing knowing and quite clever jokes about the Democrats and Republicans, The Campaign gets it right and is quite funny. Everything else is overdone. The suggestion of punching a baby is always going to get a better effect than actually showing someone punching a baby. Better still, do something funnier than punch a baby, which really isn't all that funny. Zach Galifianakis is a one trick pony, that said, I don't mind him so much. Will Ferrell is more love or hate, I'm on the hate side I'm afraid but he's not too bad in this one I suppose. The idea is fine, different comedy actors would have made a huge difference though, change the leads and the film could have been much better.
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone
Dir: Don Scardino
2013
***
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone isn't a great film but it is, for want of another word, a nice film. The idea is good, although the over the top Magician act is a little overdone now, but it is the actors who make it what it is. I like each actor involved and I liked their characters. It's pretty formulaic but it's a formula that works. For now anyway, a new formula is needed sharpish.
Lake Tahoe
Dir: Fernando Eimbcke
2008
****
In Lake Tahoe, Fernando Eimbcke tackles nearly every rites of passage that one adolescent could possible go through in the course of one day. Instead of it being one ridiculous/hilarious/disastrous event after another, it ponders all of life's self questions quite eloquently. Sometimes it takes loosing a parent, crashing a car and just being a friend to know who you really are. All this is explored among some truly beautiful cinematography and composition. A joy to watch.
Shut up and play the Hits
Dir: Dylan Southern, Will Lovelace
2012
**
LCD sound system passed me by I'm afraid, I've heard the name but until watching this film I knew very little about them. I quite liked the songs featured, they sounded pretty cool and their last gig did look epic. It's just the bits in-between songs, the bits where they should have shut up like the title suggested, that are some of the most pretentious pieces of film I have ever seen. Interviewers muse, the lead singer shaves, everyone loves each other, everyone is far too cool for words, yadda yadda yadda. So yeah, Shut up and play the Hits already! Use the fast forward button and enjoy the music.
Sound Of My Voice
Dir: Zal Batmanglij
2011
**
A great idea ruined by a bad script and a poor choice of cast. Brit Marling was perfect in her role, suspicious, untrustworthy, Innocent but ultimately contradictory. Christopher Denham and Nicole Vicius however overacted terribly but then their characters are badly written. Was this supposed to be a fake documentary? that's how it started, did they just give up on that halfway through because they lost patience? It seems very amateurish, small budget aside. I forgave Brit Marling for the ending in Another Earth but I'm not sure I can do the same here.
American Graffiti
Dir: George Lucas
1973
*****
American Graffiti is rightfully regarded as one of the best odes to the 50's (OK, the 60's but you know where I'm coming from). I think the key to its success is that it doesn't set out to tell a story as such, instead it simply shows the way of life and how it was all in one night. Great characters, great script and great Cars. Seriously, people say that the music is the main attraction, and it is good but those Cars are something else. I wonder what Lucas would have gone on to do had Star Wars not have been so successful. This and THX 1138 are great films. I'm not saying the Star Wars film weren't great, heaven forbid, it's just that he has stuck with that and Indiana Jones and not come up with anything else. I wonder if a few great films will remain unmade because of this, I guess we'll never know.
Red Hill
Dir: Patrick Hughes
2010
***
I've said it before and I say again, the Australians make great horror films. Although Red Hill is more of a crime-thriller, noir-western more than a horror but there are horror elements about it and it seems they're good at all those other things too. Jimmy Conway is easily as scary as Jason or Leatherface, the two most likely comparisons. The story is of a much better quality though compared to Friday 13th or most of the Texas Chainsaw films, so we shouldn't expect any sequels. Patrick Hughes has proven himself worthy, although Expendables 3 seems like an odd choice of follow up. Jimmy Conway vs the Expendables would be great though thinking about it...
On The Road
Dir: Walter Salles
2012
*
I hated the book and now I hate the film. If the film was a faithful adaptation I probably would have hated it still but it's not. Much of the book is missing, inevitable for sure but some of the most celebrated parts of the book are missing and much of what is in the film doesn't happen in the book. The film is worse off because of this but beyond help anyway. I don't think it was cast right at all, none of characters in the film resembled those from the book, neither did the scenes, locations etc etc. I expected more from Walter Salles. Truman Capote said the book was "Typing, not writing". If he was around today he may say the film was "Filming, not film making".
Lola Versus
Dir: Daryl Wein
2012
****
With Lola Versus we have the antidote to all the horrible break up/chick flick films, generally staring Ashton Kutcher, Sarah Jessica Parker or Jennifer Lopez etc etc. It's a very welcome change of pace although I think maybe people have taken it the wrong way. It is a very modern and actually quite relevant exercise at poking fun at moping self indulgent City folk and also a look at what is best in all its ordinary and boring splendour. It's a bit Woody Allen, a bit Altman and 100% New York. Much like the TV show Girls, it's part of the new wave of comedy fronted by the ladies, who prove that they can be funny after all. People aren't defined by their sex, stereotypes aren't simplified or exaggerated and on the few occasions they are, they are pointed out sarcastically. I can see how not everyone will be converted but I think Greta Gerwig is a perfect leader in this revolution. Oh, and it's very funny. More please.
The Paperboy
Dir: Lee Daniels
2012
**
What starts out a coming of age, dream-like period piece soon turns out to be a modern day horror. If Lee Daniels wanted an over complicated mix-genre exercise, then bravo that man, he succeeded. What I will say, and you can take it any way you like, it is original. Original is generally a good thing. I don't know if I liked the film, I'm still down the middle with it really but it hasn't really stayed with me. I thought the performances were brilliant and the direction was solid although a little clumsy in places if I'm being fair. It's not that it is bad in anyway, it's just that I didn't always like it. I love to know if it is a good adaption of the book but I probably wont be rushing to my local bookshop to get it any time soon.
Winchester '73
Dir: Anthony Mann
1950
****
I don't like Guns, so a film about Man's lust for them didn't initially sound that great to me but I do love a good Western. Anthony Mann's direction was impeccable, I don't care if James Stewart was a nasty man in real life, I'll quite happily watch any of his films and he's great in this genre. It a classic Western, with all that is typically good and bad about them, in all its glory. Rock Hudson as an evil Indian and Tony Curtis as a 'New York' cavalryman are unintentionally funny and wonderful moments. I know, it's easy to laugh years later and it's not very fair but that's not to say I didn't enjoy or appreciate. It's a great western.
Hercules
Dir: Ron Clements, John Musker
1997
*
I've never liked Disney much but towards the late 90's it was definitely at it's worst. When it wasn't releasing horrible straight to video sequels to their most celebrated films, they continued to pillage classic literature and make half-hearted versions of, with the same old characters they used time and time again. Kids watched these films thinking they now know the stories but they don't, they know the sickly-sweat versions of but not the Authentic ones. Disney has been ruining children's imaginations since the 20s.

Mallrats
Dir: Kevin Smith
1995
****
In 1994 Pulp Fiction won Best Screenplay. I would argue that Mallrats had a much better screenplay, by a country mile in fact. Seriously, you've got 'What do they call a Big Mac in Amsterdam' versus Stan Lee explaining that every Superhero he has written is a version of his own heartbreak. Give me Mallrats any day of the week. Ok, so it is pretty puerile at times but that's what so great about it. It is at times quite profound but then it shakes of any pretension and goes of jokes. It is a wonderful slice of the 90's that gets me all nostalgic.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Gone
Dir: Ringan Ledwidge
2006
*
The dullest and most boring thriller I've seen for a while. Very little happens until the last 10 minutes and even then, it is a cliche-ridden mess that will either have you shouting at the screen or looking at the TV guide to see what else is on. Honestly, it's so slow and most of the the scenes are pointless filler. It's predictable too but I'm a firm believer that you have to see a film before you can review it honestly, so I did and I just have. Rubbish.
Whiteout
Dir: Dominic Sena
2009
***
Whiteout is based on a graphic novel apparently. I'm a bit of a comic buff and I have to say that that one passed me by. I'm not going to bother looking out for it though after watching this. Whiteout is a decent enough middle of the week popcorn film, the questionable special effects used in the flashback scenes are generally made up for in the snowy scenes and with the non-CGI gore but there isn't much else going for it. It doesn't take a genius to guess 'Who dunnit' when there are only 5 characters to start with but it doesn't matter, it's no work of art but it serves its purpose.
Pussy Riot - A Punk Prayer
Dir: Mike Lerner, Maxim Pozdorovkin
2013
****
Pussy Riot - A Punk Prayer should be celebrated for its unbiased and well balanced approach. The documentary makers Mike Lerner and Maxim Pozdorovkin come at the story from the Pussy Riot side but shows all who watch what they're really all about. Pussy Riot are essentially a performance art band with a protest agenda. That's really all they are. The punishment they received was far to harsh for what they did and their imprisonment makes a mockery of the political and judicial system. I think they pushed their luck though with the Church. Their naivety is as obvious as their passion but they've made everyone look now, and so they have to see it through and perform from their cells. And performing is something that comes natural to both Mariya Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova - particularly Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, anyone who disagrees should google Operation Kiss Garbage and Voina - in particular F**k for the heir Puppy Bear! If you want to see some brains behind the passion then you should look at Ekaterina Samutsevich. She's the only one clever enough to have got herself out of prison, realising that rotting in prison won't get the job done. Their argument is valid and their protest is colourful and passionate but for their sake, I hope they recruit some more intelligent people like Ekaterina, maybe then they can really have an impact rather than be flavour of the month in the tabloids.
Smash & Grab: The Story of the Pink Panthers
Dir: Havana Marking
2013
***
Smash & Grab tells the story well and gets all the necessary inside intelligence for us to take it seriously but the very different styles used makes it look like 4 short documentaries glued together. It seems rushed. Insightful and interesting though, don't get me wrong, I enjoyed it a lot but as helpful as the Yugoslavian history lesson was, it almost suggests that hard times is an acceptable excuse for crime. It's a reason, a very valid one, but it's not an excuse. The original Pink Panthers may not have killed anyone but the gangs that have come in their wake have and at the end of the day, stealing stuff that doesn't belong to you and pointing guns at people and threatening to shoot isn't cool and shouldn't be glamorised.
Easy A
Dir: Will Gluck
2010
*
Not satisfied with just simply ripping up pages from the classic The Scarlet letter, it also copies and pillages every good 1980's movie. Sacrilege that all walks of life can be offended by. All this and horrible characters, horrible acting, people who sound like car alarms and a narration that will make you want to pour red hot glue down your ears. Like I've said before, I have to watch a film to the very end before I review, even when said film is causing me vicious brain pain and stomach irritations. Opus dei got nothing on me.
Manborg
Dir: Steven Kostanski
2011
**
The synopsis 'Futuristic sci-fi with old school style effects' makes this look like the best film ever. It's not. I liked the cheesy script and the idea behind it but if you want to film something that is essentially an ode to all the great 90's low budget Schlock classics then you seriously need to hold back on the 'worst CGI effects I have ever seen'. For a film that has been made by a celebrated art director and a talented make-up artist, you'd have expected better, even on a small budget. The trailer for Bio-Cop, a film that isn't real ala Grindhouse, is far Superior and makes you wonder, why the hell didn't they make that instead?
Robot & Frank
Dir: Jake Schreier
2012
***
The best sci-fi Alzheimer's film I've ever seen. Seriously though, it is a sci-fi film about Alzheimer's but it's not the William S. Burroughs book or David Lynch film that that sounds like. It's a very sweet tale that is essentially a cautionary tale on how to treat people with dementia, Alzheimer's and the elderly in general. It's a nice film about being nice to people. With a Robot. Frank Langella is brilliant as always.
Point Blank
Dir: John Boorman
1967
*****
Highly stylised, brilliantly written and with 4 or 5 fantastically performed and written characters. It's kitch, it's cool but it is also quite raw. It's got so many great scenes it would be easier to say each scene is great in its own unique way. John Vernon's naked body falling off a building is my personal favourite. Lee Marvin is great in a performance that precedes him but I'm a big fan of Keenan Wynn, he really made this film for me. I'm a huge Hitchcock fan but i'm sure that this must have been a bit of a breath of fresh air for many of his fans (and non-fans) at the time.
The Big Wedding
Dir: Justin Zackham
2013
*
I like Cheeseburgers and I like Croissant but the thought of eating a Cheeseburger made with Croissant instead of a sesame bun makes me feel sick. The Big Wedding made me feel that kind of sick. Honestly, American films trying to be French Films just don't work. Americans can enjoy French and French can enjoy American (or can they) but trying to translate the same humour would need a script to be so re-written that there would be little point in trying. With The Big Wedding they tried and proved my theory correct. It is horrible.
Trance
Dir: Danny Boyle
2013
**
There is much more to Trance than just the fact Rosario Dawson takes her clothes off but I'm buggered if I can remember what they are and I only watched it last night. Something along the lines of a disappointing attempt at a psychological noir thriller/heist movie I think. A disappointing performance from James McAvoy but a decent, as always, performance from personal favourite Vincent Cassel. Personally I thought it was Rosario Dawson who really stole the show, even in the bits where she had clothes on. Excuse my tone, it's not like I write reviews like this all the time, you ladies are always saying how hot Channing Tatum is but in this instance I'm at a loss of nice things to say.
Spring Breakers
Dir: Harmony Korine
2012
**
Spring Breakers seems to have been welcomed by the very people I'm pretty sure it is trying to send up. This is a visionary nightmare of the new lost generation no? The gratuitous imagery and horrible behaviour are shown at a fast and repetitive rate that really seems to deliver the message with a hammer - yet still I'm not sure this film has been understood. The ending probably didn't help though, probably didn't do Pussy Riot any favours either. It's ultimately a fail because the message is lost and the imagery takes over. I've got a lot of love for Harmony Korine and this film is a couple of tweaks away from being a masterpiece. Unfortunately those couple of tweaks are pretty important ones, the message is lost and it's just plain horrible to watch.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Titan A.E.
Dir:  Don Bluth, Gary Goldman
2000
***
Watching Titan A.E. now for the first time quite some years after it was first released, I can see how it has aged. Quite well surprisingly! It's mix of old school animation and 3D effects should have dated this cartoon long before now but it hasn't, in its unique little way. It shouldn't really work but somehow it does, probably down to the content, which isn't perfect but doesn't suffer from being too polished. After all, Star Wars is loved not necessarily because of its perfections, but because of its imperfections.
The Time Machine
Dir: Simon Wells
2002
*
It's pretty cool that this was directed by HG Wells's Great-Grandson but also pretty shocking that he did such a bad job of it. The acting is terrible, most of the scenes look like bad copies of many other sci-fi films that came before and all what is great about the book is missing. I was impressed by many of the visuals but generally these moments are spoiled by rubbish editing, unnecessary action and a woeful script.
Holy Man
Dir: Stephen Herek
1998
*
If you put the awful editing, the fact that the story makes no sense and the fact it isn't very funny to one side, It's actually pretty average. They had an interesting idea but did nothing with it, there was no clever writing to match and it was dreadfully dull as a result. I don't blame the actors for this one. The director/editor/writer/producer are all to blame.
Just Like Heaven
Dir: Mark Waters
2005
*
Much like Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, I generally dislike this film due to the fact that the Ghost in question is not actually dead. You can't have a Ghost without a dead person. Them the rules damn it!!! That said, to take this film seriously would be foolish. It is what it is, it's crap but it's harmless crap. The nicest thing I can say about it is that I didn't totally hate it and it is slightly better than Ghosts of Girlfriends Past.
Twelve Monkeys
Dir: Terry Gilliam
1995
****
A fantastic sci-fi mystery from Gilliam who can probably boast being a genre unto himself. Fine performances by a capable cast but it's Brad Pitt who really steals the show in one of his finest performances so far in his carrier. It's the captivating mystery of what the Twelve Monkeys actually are that carry the film, the conclusion has split people down the middle before but I found it to be beautifully bleak and not at all disappointing.
Dark City
Dir: Alex Proyas
1998
****
Alex Proyas's best film to date seems to have flown under the radar a bit. Its a real shame as this is a fantastic sci-fi film, one of the most inventive of recent years in my opinion. Its mix of dark Gothic visuals, 1950's styling, contrasting colours and otherworldly feeling gives it an extraordinary and eerie feeling that really is unique, even after the constant plagiarism that followed. It seems to bend its way through different genres without really settling on one quite masterfully. A dream like fantasy, a thinking mans sci-fi if you will.
Blade Runner
Dir: Ridley Scott
1982
*****
Everything about this film is perfect. The acting, the direction, the lighting, the soundtrack.... I don't care which version either, they're all brilliant! It's nothing like the book and for once it actually improves on the source material (although understandably Philip K. Dick disagreed). The 1980's neon vision of the future, the haunting Vangelis soundtrack, the beautiful 'Like tears in the rain' script and stunning direction are all the best that cinema has to offer. It's deserving of the huge praise it has received since it was released in 1982 and I would argue that it is one of the greatest films of all time. It's one of the few films I can honestly say I can submerge myself in and I know I'm not the only one who feels that way.
Down By Law
Dir: Jim Jarmusch
1986
*****
"I scream, we scream, we all scream for ice cream!" This is by far the funniest prison break film ever made. The three leads; Tom Waits, John Lurie, and Roberto Benigni are on impeccably good form and I know I've said it before but Jarmusch is the coolest filmmaker alive. The film seems effortlessly stylish, sure Waits is one of the coolest men alive and Benigni is one of the funniest but it is Jarmusch's quirky twist in everything he does that makes everything taste better and that really wins through here. Is it my favorite Jarmusch film? It just might be!
Coffee and Cigarettes
Dir: Jim Jarmusch
2003
****
A collection of short conversation between various different characters, generally in cafes and always while, as you might have guessed, drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes. Some sketches are seriously cool, others are genuinely very funny. I thought Cate Blanchett's short was very clever in particular. Unfortunately though a couple of them are real duds for no other reason then the actors didn't work well together or that it was too long. Filmed over several years, this film is testament to Jarmusch's contribution to film; quirky comedy and the epitome of cool.
Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai
Dir: Jim Jarmusch
1999
****
Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai was an unexpected change of pace from director Jim Jarmusch and an even more surprising performance from Forest Whitaker. Ghost Dog oozes cool, it bleeds it, it sweats it. Jarmusch balances action, drama and just that little bit of comedy perfectly. This is one of Whitaker's best performances and that's saying something considering his exceptional body of work. Jim Jarmusch is one of those few directors where I can confidently say has directed at least one film that caters to everyone's taste.
Scream 4
Dir: Wes Craven
2011
*
For a film that continues to discuss other horror films and the horror genre in general, it beggars belief that it adds absolutely nothing to said genre! It points out stereotypes in the genre, overused structures and cliches and then shows us nothing we haven't already seen before, in the Scream franchise no less. It's unbelievably dumb, the regular actors look tired and embarrassed to be part of it and so they should.
Scream 3
Dir: Wes Craven
2000
*
If you copy something, then copy the copy and then copy it again, the quality is going to certainly suffer. In the third installment they sort of seem to know this and try to compensate by spoofing the original somewhat and by going all 'post-modern'. It was a really stupid decision but what else would you expect from people who describe the Scream films as 'Neo-slasher'. It was straight to video quality with a cinema release. You won't scream in terror, nor will you scream in laughter, you'll scream at the screen due to the lack of quality. At this stage there wasn't much difference between this franchise and the Scary Movie franchise, the original becomes the laughingstock.
Scream 2
Dir: Wes Craven
1997
***
Scream 2 is my favourite of the series as I found it to be the most original and the only one where I didn't guess who Ghostface was before the end. The Scream films constantly remind us that 'In the sequel, no one is safe' and it actually delivers by killing off people you expect to survive. They seem to forget this in later films and the series suffers as a result. If I had it my way they would have all died at the end of this installment and that would have been the end of it.
Scream
Dir: Wes Craven
1996
**
Scream made a huge impact on its release back in 1996. One thing it did was make horror films mainstream, something that seemed like a good thing at first but time has since suggested otherwise. Ghostface is as good as any masked knife wielding villein but in trying to create an almost satirical and deconstructed horror icon, Wes Craven just made an average character, a non-identity that deserves none of its success. The musings on horror cliches is fairly annoying too as they get many of the cliches wrong and Craven himself is guilty of the rest. Scream spawned not only a series of horrible sequels but a bunch of samey, boring, sub-standard horror films that have damaged the genre so much that all new horror is pretty much the same and as a reaction all the other horror films are sensationalist and are more concerned with shock then genuine scare or any of the creativity that come with it.


The ABCs of Death
Dir: Simon Rumley, Adam Wingard, Ben Wheatley, Nacho Vigalondo, Srdjan Spasojevic, Adrián García Bogliano, Kaare Andrews, Anders Morgenthaler, Bruno Forzani, Ti West, Yoshihiro Nishimura, Ernesto Díaz Espinoza, Andrew Traucki, Jake West, Xavier Gens, Jorge Michel Grau, Noboru Iguchi, Angela Bettis, Marcel Sarmiento, Thomas Cappelen Malling, Yūdai Yamaguchi, Lee Hardcastle, Timo Tjahjanto, Jon Schnepp, Jason Eisener, Banjong Pisanthanakun, Hélène Cattet.
2012
**
The idea behind The ABCs of Death is that 26 directors were given a letter of the alphabet each and told to make a short film about death using a word beginning with said letter and to use that as their theme. That's 26 short films about death from A to Z. The possibilities are endless, and yet, apart from a few brilliant shorts (D is for Dogfight , A Is for Apocalypse ) most of the directors have shown themselves as the deprived and immature weirdos that they are. T is for Toilet, F is for Fart, O is for Orgasm are good examples of how childish it can be and also how bizarre the film is in general (F is for Fart being particularly strange). H is for Hyrdo-Electric Diffusion, W is for WTF! and J is for Jidai-geki are refreshingly bizarre and do wake the viewer up somewhat when the film lags and I'm glad V wasn't for Vampire and Z wasn't for Zombie like you'd probably expect. However, the shorts like L is for Libido, Y Is for Youngbuck and M Is for Miscarriage are seriously disturbing, woefully misplaced, add all the paedophilia and the unnecessary animal cruelty to the mix and they make the film as a whole a fairly unpleasant experience. Hit and miss but the misses outweigh the very few hits.

Crooks Anonymous
Dir: Ken Annakin
1962
***
Crooks Anonymous is classic British light entertainment. The story is somewhat similar to the far superior School For Scoundrels that came out two year before and the changing of character by Stanley Baxter is something Peter Sellers did better ten year prior and what Alec Guinness excelled at ten years before that (see The Mouse That Roared and Kind Hearts and Coronets). Originality aside, you're left with a nice story and wonderful performances from some of England's best loved legends. Leslie Phillips plays the likable cad better than anyone and the brief James Robertson Justice performance is worth watching the film for alone. Add the brilliant Stanley Baxter and Wilfrid Hyde-White and you're laughing. Julie Christie was a great addition to the cast too but she's never really given enough to work with, she is either dancing on stage or undressing in every scene she's in which is a shame as she is so much more than just something nice to look at. I love Ken Annakin films though, I could happily watch nothing but his all day long.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

The Great Hip Hop Hoax
Dir: Jeanie Finlay
2013
****
The Great Hip Hop Hoax tells the story of 00's super duo Silibil n' Brains. No, I don't remember Silibil n' Brains either. It seems they were pretty popular with the younglings at the turn of the millennium though, two young New Yorkers with colourful pasts taking the UK by storm. Except it was all a lie. The Great Hip Hop Hoax is quite a telling documentary about the absurdity of the pop music industry. Our two leads are very honest about their time at the top, their commitment and also what they pioneered,  you may not remember them or their music but their actions have molded the way all musicians are publicised today. For me though, the two very different paths each man has taken since stardom are the most interesting parts of the doc. Their honesty has to be admired, I'd be way too embarrassed to show any of the footage they gave permission for so all credit to to them. Jeanie Finlay has tapped into a brilliantly odd story and has given it the space to breath without interference or manipulation. A great documentary.
Conan the Barbarian
Dir: Marcus Nispel
2011
*
Conan the annoying, turns into Conan the irritating and then grows up to be Conan the Egotistical and Conan the unnecessarily violent. Violence has its place in film, and maybe I'm just getting old but it was relentless and tiresome and more than a little gratuitous. I know it was to be expected from a film like this but still, there is only so much one can take. The original was 80's cheese and all the better for it, this one takes itself far too seriously and fails because of it. Enough of the pointless remakes please Marcus Nispel!
Passport To Pimlico
Dir: Henry Cornelius
1949
****
Passport to Pimlico is classic Ealing Comedy. It was one of the first so it may be a little rough round the edges compared to the films that came after but the cast is brilliant; Stanley Holloway, Hermione Baddeley, Margaret Rutherford, Michael Hordern, Harry Locke and a rather young Charles Hawtrey to name a few. The best of British comedy (and Hammer Horror come to think of it). The story still stands today though, it's particularly clever, very witty and thoroughly British. I love it. The best line of the Film: "We always were English, and we'll always be English, and it's just because we are English that we're sticking up for our rights to be Burgundians!"
Bulworth
Dir: Warren Beatty
1998
*
I missed this in the cinema and have wanted to see it ever since. Suspicions that it wasn't very good appeared when I saw it was showing on free channel Movie Mix - the home of bad movies. Intelligent and witty satire based comedy aimed at modern politics - check! Ruining every intelligent element by telling the same joke over and over again even though it wasn't very funny the first time - check! Accidentally stereotyping black people in a negative way even though it is supposed to be standing up for said black people - check! This film made me cringe like no other. I think people have rated this highly based on what it could have been rather than what it is. The message is lost in a horrible lead performance, racist stereotyping and bad writing. The bad directing, editing and total lack of continuity doesn't help much either. This my friends, is not satire!
Apt Pupil
Dir: Bryan Singer
1998
**
The idea is sound but the way they meet is a little far fetched, if not just badly adapted. I'm sure the story is better than the film, there is only so much much of a book you can make into a film but especially when the performances are so uneven. Ian McKellen's performance more than outweighs Brad Renfro's and that is the main problem. Far to much is left to the imagination or to what ever your own knowledge of the second world war and the concentration camps is. If this is a bad man and you're using flashbacks, then show this bad man being bad in a flashback! It's not rocket science but i'm afraid Bryan Singer brings nothing to life in his direction. Ian McKellen carries the whole film on his shoulders and everyone else takes the credit. I didn't think much of the conclusion either, again I'm sure it reads better but coincidence becomes contrived if used incorrectly.