Saturday, 13 March 2010

Review: The Silence Of The Lambs/Hannibal/Red Dragon

The Silence Of The Lambs: So to kick off the Hannibal Trilogy review there's Silence Of The Lambs. FBI Agent Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) is given the task to hunt down murderer Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine) but first she needs to know where to find him. Enter the manical mastermind Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins). Lecter gives Starling Bill's whereabouts but as he does he slowly manipulates her into getting what he wants. Freedom.
The Silence Of The Lambs is quite simply a masterpiece of modern cinema. It has some of cinemas greatest ever characters and is guaranteed to keep you watching beginning to end without hesitation and without blinking an eye. To say Hopkins and Foster shine is an understatement they absolutely blow everything else out of the water and give the performances of a lifetime. Ted Levine is shockingly underrated for his performance. After his I was begging for more Hannibal Lecter.
Hannibal: I wanted more Lecter, but I didn't want this. Jodie Foster has stepped out of Clarice Starling's boots and Julianne Moore has stepped in.
The only thing that salvaged this film for me was the ending and Hopkins' performance yet again. I hated Julianne Moore as Starling, I hated the silly characters they introduced and I hated feeling cheated by it. The ball was dropped.
Red Dragon: This is set before the events of Silence Of The Lambs and links very pleasantly to it.
This time around Edward Norton is the guy looking for a killer and is seeking the help of Hannibal Lecter to find him. This killer leaves a very clear and very prominent pattern in each of his killings.
Every character has a good turn out in this film. Ralph Fiennes is great as is Norton, Kietel and obviously Hopkins. Just like Lambs this left me wanting to see a lot more of Hannibal but I don't think I'll be checking out Hannibal Rising.

Review: Shutter Island

Shutter Island is the latest film from Director/Actor pairing Martin Scorsese & Leonardo DiCaprio based on the novel of the same name by Dennis Lehane.

Ok first of I really enjoyed Shutter Island. It thought that the film was executed very well and the location/acting gave off a real genuine and authentic feeling. Now to the technical jumbo. In the first scene with DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo the editing seems extremely choppy. Now I'm not sure if it was supposed to be like that (Symbolism of the sea etc.) but I'm glad that the rest of the film didn't follow suit.

The mystery element of the film is played well as Leonardo DiCaprio is running amok round the island looking to find "Who is 67?" and also to search for missing inmate Rachel Solando. Ben Kingsley has a good turn as the Island's head psycharitrist and so does Ted Levine as the Warden depsite his limited screen time.

The film comes full circle with a major twist that if you did or didn't see coming will still get you saying "Ahhh" or "Ohhh" when you think about the film as a whole. For me Shutter Island would have been a 5 star film if it not for the sometimes clunky editing and the odd cheesy line but I recommend it to fans of Scorsese's work and also anyone who likes a good mystery. I'm looking forward to reading the book now.


Review: Angel Heart

Angel Heart sees Private Investigator Harry Angel (Mickey Rourke) hired by Louis Cyphere (Robert De Niro) to track down Johnny Favourite, A man who is believed to be dead.

This might be a short review.
Angel Heart lost me in places and confused me in others. The plot sometimes strayed off by introducing several nonsecial minor characters. Mickey Rourke had a decent turn as Harry Angel and Robert De Niro was basically on cruise control all the way through. The ending comes with a twist which isn't all that clear and takes some thinking but other than that Angel Heart is a very confusing and sometimes nonsecial film that unless your keeping up with the hectic pace and many characters, you get lost.


Review: The Hours

The Hours is a drama of sorts set in three different time periods. Nicole Kidman (& Her fake nose) is in the past as Virginia Woolf, Julianne Moore is in the 50's and Meryl Streep is in the present day.

To split in the film in 3 parts I'll start with Kidman. She plays Author Virginia Woolf, who I'm sure many know was a bit insane. She is under constant watch by her Husband and the orders given to him by her doctors. Woolf is usually locked away attempting to write her next novel (Which becomes Mrs. Deloway). Kidman is good in the role and gives the character/person a bit of depth.

Next we have Julianne Moore plays typical 50's housewife Laura Brown who is married to John C. Reilly's Dan. Moore comes across as very uncomfortable being left alone with her own child as Dan heads off to work. Personally, Moore creeped me out. The looks she was giving the kid were unnerving and I was waiting for her to do something. This, for me, was the least favourite story.

Now in my opinion the story revolving around Streep's Clarissa Vaughn was the best and very well delivered. Clarissa is planning a party to celebrate her ex hisband Richard's (Ed Harris) recent accolade. The story is played out well with good roles coming from Ed Harris, Jeff Daniels, Alison Janney and Claire Danes.

For me The Hours was a good film. I don't really understand why it was split into 3 parts as only 2 of those parts actually connect physically. At some points the film is quite dark so be warned by that.


Review: The Crazies

The Crazies is a remake of the 1973 original of the same name. It stars Hitman's Timothy Olyphant and Surrogates Radha Mitchell. A small town comes under threat as a mystery toxin gets into the town's water and turns the people "crazy".

To be honest I was expecting a lot more from The Crazies. Timothy Olyphant played the town's sheriff well but the plot wasn't well driven. From the first instance of someone being infected the story becomes even more surreal as it plays out. Obviously there is a reason how and why the toxin got into the water supply and as it goes; It was a military booboo.

There are some scenes that look positive and a genuine bit of Horror but other than that there is little to be excited about. Again I think Timothy Olyphant was good and the rest of the cast were fairly watchable but I think it was missing something. It's one of those films you'll see the 14 year olds watching whilst making alot of noise and over reacting at each scare.


Review: From Paris With Love

From Paris With Love sees James Reece (Johnathan Rhys-Meyers) paired up with Charlie Wax (John Travolta) as American CIA Agents working in Paris to take down a planned terroist attack in the city. From Taken's Pierre Morel, From Paris With Love is a fast paced and all out action flick.

Travolta shines as Wax (bad pun, I know) and plays the humourous good guy very well. He sorta comes across as the good side to his bad guy in The Taking Of Pelham 123. Rhys-Meyers is good in the supporting role and for those who are unfamiliar with The Tudors, Yes it's him from Bend It Like Beckham.

As the action is very over the top, I'd recommend this as a guy's film and one of those that's good to watch if you want a bit of mindless fun. Yes the film has it's flaws some namely being Rhys-Meyers' sometimes over reacting but as I said it's a good fun action flick.


Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Review: Moon

Moon is the story of astronaut Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) who is close to the end of a 3 year stint digging into the Moon in order to transfer energy to Earth. Sam's main contact on the Moon is GERTY, a computer voiced by Kevin Spacey.

Personally I think Moon is a major milestone in terms of taking a chance on a first time director. Duncan Jones has created not only a solid sci-fi film for his first effort but also a film that is now recognised as "one the Oscars snubbed"

Duncan Jones made Moon for $5 million, Which for a Sci-Fi film especially is a miniscule budget. He worked extremely well with what he was given and had a leading actor that was willing to give the film everything he had.

Sam Rockwell's performance is fantastic, He spends all of the film practically acting with himseld and shows major potiental for upcoming films. I can't really go into much detail about the film as less than an hour in something happens that flips it straight onto its head. The twist like move does make the rest of the film kind of trippy but you can follow it.

I urge you to watch Moon. Even if you don't consider yourself a Sci-Fi fan simply watch Sam Rockwell's performance. I know I'm not the only one to say this but it's a travesty that Moon and Sam Rockwell aren't up for Oscars this year.


DVD Review: Up

Film: Up is this year's obligitary Pixar film and is destined for Oscar success. Up tells the story of Carl Fredricksen. Carl is a retired balloon salesman who recently lost his wife. Carl makes it his mission to uphold the promise to his wife that they'll go to Paradise Falls.

After tieing hundreds of balloons to his house, Carl begins to fly to Paradise Falls. Whilst in the air Carl realises that boy scout Russell stowed away on his porch and ends up traveling to Paradise Falls too.

Once they've reached Paradise Falls, Russell befriends a huge bird (which he names Kevin) and a dog called Dug. The main antagonist is Carl's childhood idol Charles Muntz who is stranded on Paradise Falls.

Up is one of the best animated films in recent memory but I suppose thats usual with Pixar. The imagary is beautiful and the character relation is nothing like anything seen in traditional Hollywood films. Up is a fantastic family film and a dead lock for Best Animated Feature.


Partly Cloudy:
The usual Pixar short film that was placed in front of up in the theatres. Great little short film and I'm surprised it's not nominated at this years Oscars.
The Many Endings of Muntz: The different ways in which Muntz would have met his demise.
Adventure Is Out There: A doc about the real Paradise Falls.
Dug's Special Mission: Spinoff about Dug which ties in nicely with the film.


DVD Review: Funny People

Film: Funny People is Judd Apatow's third film as director. It focus round George Simmons' (Adam Sandler) battle with a cancerous disease and how his life is changed through his battle. The supporting cast is filled with Apatow regulars; Seth Rogen, Leslie Mann and Jonah Hill.

For what it is, Funny People is a decent film. Personally, It's not Apatow's best (That has to be the very quotable 40 Year Old Virgin) but I think the reason for that is that Apatow has calmed down on the obvious comedy and focused more on character development and a dramatic side to the film. Adam Sandler delievers one of his most powerful performances to date and I was very surprised when he wasn't nominated for Best Actor Musical/Comedy at the Golden Globes. Seth Rogen is fairly underrated for his serious acting ability, the guy can act and I think somewhere down the line we'll see a true Rogen dramatic performance.

I also think it's a travesty that people think Jonah Hill is better than Seth Rogen. Personally, Jonah Hill is overrated. It doesn't take much effort to play the same character in every film your in. His night guard in Night At The Museum 2 could be the day job of his character in Superbad.

Funny People is quite lengthy coming in at 2 hours and 26 minutes. The film very much so can be divided in half and possibly could have been sequels. Nevertheless I'd recommend Funny People to fans of Apatow & Sandler as you see alot of the formulaic choices of the director and like I said a great performance from Adam Sandler.


Gag Reel: Simple gag reel, mainly showing Adam Sandler goofing around.
Deleted Scenes: Doesn't really move the film forward but thats why they've been deleted!
Extended/Alternate Scenes: Again nothing more to add but you may feel you enjoyed some of these scenes more than those chosen.
Line-O-Rama: Differents lines the cast improvised during filming.
Documentaries & Music: Standard production docs and music from the film.
From The Archives: Adam Sandler & Seth Rogen's old stand up routines.
The Films of George Simmons: A look at the fictional films of George Simmons.
Prank Call: More Amateur footage of Adam Sandler as a late teen.
Yo, Teach!: An episode of the fictonal TV series.


Thursday, 18 February 2010

Film Review: Elephant

Ok This is going to be a very short review as I can't say much about the film without giving it away.

What I can say though is that Elephant is shot very differently to any film you'd usually come across, it uses mostly static camera shots and very little takes.

The acting is very fridged and at times very shocking. It's very clear that director Gus Van Sant used non professionals for this film.

I felt that there wasn't much character relation going on and the ending is really abrupt so you won't be expecting it.

I'd love to say more but I went into this film blind and feel that watching Elephant without knowing much of the plot is the best way to watch it.


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Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Film Review: Strange Days

Strange Days comes from the minds of then couple Director Kathryn Bigelow and Writer James Cameron.

Strange Days sees Lenny (Ralph Fiennes with a sometimes terrible American accent) selling a police technology to the citizens of Los Angeles in 1999. Which when the film was released (1995) was the not to distant future. The technology Lenny is selling is called SQUID, which manipulates the users senses so he/she believe they are in a certain scenario and in te body of someone else. This is achieved by wiring someone up so that their cerebal cortex is recording everything that is happening. Still following?

Lenny is your basic city rat type character, what he has is illegal in his hands but all he wants to do is sell it on and make a bit of money. Things take a slight turn for the worst as Iris (Brigitte Bako), A friend of Lenny's is killed whilst wearing a wire. Iris trys to warn Lenny of the conspiracy surrounding the act of "Playback" and fallen rapper Jeriko One (Glenn Plummer) but fails to do so as those involved get to Iris quicker than she thinks.

Before her demise, Iris told Lenny to inform Faith (Juliette Lewis) that "they" are coming for her and she's in trouble. Faith is Lenny's ex girlfriend who doesn't take to kindly to Lenny attempting to help her. The film moves at a sometimes slow pace but introduces characters we can relate to like Angela Bassett's Mace and characters we love to hate; Michael Wincott's Philo Gant.

Strange Days is an effective and thoughtout Science Fiction film and has alot of similarities with Blade Runner and it's clear to say it inspired Minority Report. Ralph Fiennes as Lenny works, He's funny and if the situation calls for it can be completely serious. Juliette Lewis began to bug me during the film as I've never really rated her as an actress and think that in parts she spoilt the film.

One thing I have to say is that the hugely underrated William Fichtner has a small role in this film in which he was perfect in. Fichtner deserves alot more credit than he gets for his acting ability.

I'd recommend Strange Days if your a fan of films like Blade Runner but be warned: You can tell it had Cameron involvement as the film is a lengthy 2 Hours and 25 Minutes.


Sunday, 14 February 2010

DVD Review: Borat

Borat, you all know what it is.

So I watched Borat for the first time and I've gotta say that I didn't think it was as funny as most have made out. Maybe that's because I saw Bruno first?

I have to admit though, I love the idea of Sacha Baron Cohen running through America and doing shit like this. Of course some of is intended to offend and I feel I should show the Feminist segment to my Women On Film tutor. (She called me a chauvinist, I'm NOT!!!)

All in all, Borat was a good film with a few laughs here and there, obviously don't check it out if your expecting a serious Oscar contender type film.

The Pamela Anderson bit was probably the most laugh out loud moment, did she know about that?


EDIT: Just watched the "Censored Footage" on the DVD. These should have been included in the film! Well maybe not the Supermarket/Cheese one.

So if you count the film + deleted scenes i'd give Borat:


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Saturday, 13 February 2010

Review: Valentines Day

Valentines Day is a simple couples rom com that stars such huge names as Julia Roberts, Jennifer Garner, Jessica Biel, Bradley Cooper and Jamie Foxx.

Valentines Day tells the story of several different people on Valentines Day and each story somehow intertwines with another in a very well thoughtout plotline.

Obviously this isn't a guy movie or a surefire classic but it does it's job well as a by the book romantic comedy that's ideal for a date movie especially round this time of year.

Taylor Lautner and Taylor Swift (Who I only realised were both called a Taylor during the blooper credits) are very painful to watch at times. I'm sorry but he can't act.


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Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Review: The Wolfman

The Wolfman stars Benicio Del Toro as Laurence Talbot who returns home to discover who or what murdered his brother. Whilst investigating, Talbot is bitten by the very creature that murdered his brother, a werewolf. So as the legend goes, Laurence then becomes one himself.

I quite enjoyed The Wolfman and though it was a fun yet effective take on the familiar monster story. Del Toro gives a worthy performance as Talbot but is outshined by Anthony Hopkin's delightly menacing Sir John Talbot.

Emily Blunt and Hugo Weaving complete the main cast and I've gotta say, Whenever Weaving said "Mr. Talbot" all I heard was "Mr. Anderson"

The Wolfman did have it's share of flaws though. The whole Del Toro/Blunt love subplot was rushed, hell it was almost non existant and you can tell where those reshoots took place as Continuity plays a real bitch towards the climax.

All flaws aside, The Wolfman (as I've said) is a effective horror/monster film and makes for a fun, enjoyable trip to the cinema. I'm looking forward to seeing the extended cut on DVD.


I'll take Benicio Del Toro's Laurence Talbot over Taylor Lautner's Jacob Black anyday.

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Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Review: The Hurt Locker

The Hurt Locker is, as most of you may know, a hot favourite for awards season. It comes from Katheryn Bigelow (Point Break) and is set during the on going wars in Iraq.

I enjoyed The Hurt Locker. I thought Jeremy Renner gave a very strong performance and the film was a all round solid take on the Iraqi wars.

The direction and cinematography were fantastic and I really enjoyed Guy Pearce & Ralph Fiennes' small roles. Although for me personally the middle of the film sank a little, Bigelow really made the film sell in the tense moments.

The Hurt Locker for me, is a more suitable awards choice than Avatar. Call Of Duty fans will be pleased.


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Friday, 15 January 2010

Review: Up In The Air

"Isolated? I'm Surrounded!"

Up In The Air is Juno director Jason Reitman's latest attempt at seizing the award season.

Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) flys from city to city firing people for other companies. That's his job. Also mixing in public speaking here and there, Ryan's life is simple. He enjoys being on the road most of the year and doesn't enjoy the normal lives we all lead.

Without spoiling anything Up In The Air takes two stories in Ryan's life and merges them in the end. He has his goals (Namely his frequent flyer miles) and it's only till he meets Alex (Vera Farminga) that he gets the sense of company.

The films main sterling performance comes from Twilight's Anna Kendrick. Kendrick plays Natalie, one of Ryans newest work colleagues and I gotta say, in the race for Best Supporting Actress, Kendrick wins it by a mile. (Or 10 Million)

Up In The Air is funny, dramatic and charming. It's a truly solid film and I recommend you go and see it.


Vera Farminga definatly set a bench mark for "Most Innovative Way To Wear A Tie"

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Thursday, 14 January 2010

The Last Catch Up

Ok so in addition to yesterday's post, This is the last big catch up i'm doing. As of now I will blog reviews via my iPhone after I have watched a new film. They'll be short & sweet, Just like these.

Bruce Almighty - Great fun with Jim Carrey on top form - ****

Dawn Of The Dead (2004) - Very fun Zombie Horror - ****

Harry Brown - The slap in the face this country needs - ***

Inglourious Basterds (2009) - Confusing in parts, French & German in others. Slow burner but the ending picks it up - ****

It's Complicated - Not Meyer's best but still a decent couples film - ***

Law Abiding Citizen - Very fun all out thriller - ****

P.S I Love You - Effective Rom-Com but one for the Ladies - ***

Paranormal Activity - Not believeable at all. Whatever's pestering them picks the wrong spots. - *

Sherlock Holmes - Dull, Boring but it's a good job Downey's in it - **

The Descent Part 2 - Like the first but worse. - *

The Fourth Kind - Stupid Alien Film - *

Twilight - Yeah, you know what it is. - ***

Twilight New Moon - Like the first but with Werewolves - **

Vantage Point - A little repetitive but an all round decent film - ***

Later today I'll be watching The Hurt Locker and seeing either The Road or Up In The Air tomorrow. 

Saturday, 9 January 2010

2010 Oscar Nomination Predictions.

Ok, Lets try it again. I'm gonna (once again) do my best to keep this blog up to date with Cinema & DVD reviews and odd bits here and there.

So in order to start fresh here are my 2010 Oscar Nomination Predictions. I won't say who I think will win in each category because I'll leave that till when the official nominations are released. Just take this as "If the Oscars where up to me" These are based on other award nominations and personal preference.

Best Animated Feature
Fantastic Mr. Fox
Monsters Vs Aliens
The Princess & The Frog

Best Original Screenplay
(500) Days Of Summer
District 9
Inglourious Basterds
The Hurt Locker

Best Adapted Screenplay
The Lovely Bones
The Road
Up In The Air
Where The Wild Things Are

Best Supporting Actress
Anna Kendrick - Up In The Air
Mo'Nique - Precious
Penelope Cruz - Nine
Vera Farmiga - Up In The Air
Zooey Deschanel - (500) Days Of Summer

Best Supporting Actor
Christoph Waltz - Inglourious Basterds
Matt Damon - Invictus
Stanley Tucci - The Lovely Bones
Zach Galifianakis - The Hangover
Zachary Quinto - Star Trek

Best Actress
Carey Mulligan - An Education
Gabourey Sidibe - Precious
Marion Coutillard - Nine
Meryl Streep - Julie & Julia
Sandra Bullock - The Blind Side

Best Actor
George Clooney - Up In The Air
Jeff Bridges - Crazy Heart
Joseph Gordon-Levitt - (500) Days Of Summer
Morgan Freeman - Invictus
Woody Harrelson - Zombieland

Best Director
James Cameron - Avatar
Jason Reitman - Up In The Air
Kathryn Bigelow - The Hurt Locker
Lee Daniels - Precious
Quentin Tarantino - Inglourious Basterds

Best Picture
(500) Days Of Summer
Inglourious Basterds
The Hangover
The Hurt Locker
Up In The Air

I would say that the Best Supporting Actor category is my main fantasy section but I think each deserves it.