Wednesday, 28 July 2010

So I watched this last night...

Punch Drunk Love has to be one of the best American independent movies made in the last 10 years. And that's not because I worship the ground Paul Thomas Anderson walks on (although I do, but that's besides the point).

I guess the reason I like it so much is it's complex yet simplistic approach to the tired romantic comedy formula. Inspired by a real life story about a civil engineer who stumbled upon a lucrative frequent-flyer promotion, the film springs this seemingly shallow conceit to life. Adam Sandler plays Barry, an emotionally troubled business man who discovers a marketing loop hole, where he can essentially travel anywhere in the world if he buys $3000 worth of pudding. This is the catalyst that sparks a series of exciting and scary new experiences into his life.

The whole film revolves around the idea of change: his desire to start wearing a suit, his new passion to play an abandoned harmonium, and the ability to become romantically involved with someone. It's sometimes scary (the phone sex line sub plot), and full of self doubt (his anger issues), but you always come out stronger for it.

But it's not just the whimsical metaphorical poetry of the film that makes it a masterpiece. It's the down to earth, fully realised, well written characters that make the film as magical as it is.

I mean, who hasn't had a conversation with a loved one like that? Barry is essentially the insecure, angry teenager in all of us: silent and awkward one moment, then a fit of rage the next. No one could have done a better job of portraying him than the King of Perpetual Adolescence himself, Adam Sandler. The only sad thing about watching this film is realising he's gone back to films like this:

You're better than this, Adam!

Sunday, 25 July 2010

The much awaited Western update

I realise I wrote about my new found fondness of the Western genre a whole 2 weeks ago, but didn't follow it up with anything. This was partly laziness, and partly because it wasn't very interesting. Needless to say, I have been watching westerns like a massive sex pest who's just discovered Internet pornography. Here is a summary of the things I've learnt:

Shane (1953) - It might seem quite shallow to select a film because one of your favourite comedians briefly mentions it in one of his stand up's, but that was the reasoning behind watching Shane. The film tells the story of weary gunslinger who attempts to leave his shady past by settling down on a family ranch, but is forced to face local tormentors. From the golden age of Hollywood westerns, it doesn't disappoint on good ol' fashioned Western sensibilities: dramatic gun draws, bar room brawls, and annoying little farm kids. I was actually surprised at how violent the film was, considering most other 50s Hollywood films are comparatively very tame. I think the words 'enjoyable romp' spring to mind, but it probably deserves more kudos for it's ability to entertain a young movie cretin 60 years on.

Jack Palance: one bad mother f*cker.

Unforgiven (1992) - I must admit, Eastwood has become a bit of a hero of mine recently. Even though most people giggled in the cinema when Clint was taking down LA gangs in 2008's Gran Torino, I couldn't help but hope I would be that awesome at 78. But it wasn't until I saw Unforgiven that it really sealed the deal. Brilliantly directed, perfectly acted; this film is a classic in every sense of the word. Far superior to the somewhat dull Leone films of the 70s, this slow brooding redemption story is an absolute joy. Think it might even get a highly coveted place in my top 5 movies of ALL TIME. *shock face*

Clinty, where have you been all my life?

3:10 to Yuma (2007): I was originally going to write about the The Proposition but David Wenham's voice annoys me so much that I couldn't bear to recommend that film (although it is very good). Luckily, 3:10 is also very good, as Bale once again proves he can pretty much play any role under the sun. What does let the film down, however, is the stupidity of a certain character.... MASSIVE SPOILER ALERT, PLEASE AVOID THE NEXT PARAGRAPH IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THE FILM....

So after Bale and Crowe have run through a village full of about 50 gun wielding maniacs and amazingly manage to escape unscathed, Bale gets Crowe on the train. Does he run? Does he duck for cover? No! He stands there looking up at Crowe with his silly gormless face, well in the knowledge that there are 5 deadly assassins behind him. Maybe it shows the quality of the writing that I cared so much at why this character had to die. Or maybe it just cheats the audience into a bigger emotional reaction to have the hero fall at the last hurdle (and incidentally, the smallest hurdle).

Maybe you should, I don't know, RUN FOR COVER OR SOMETHING.

Anyway, 8/10. Plus Ben Foster should play more camp bad guys in future.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Possible Merchandise Idea for Inception

The Inceptor Fan!

Why Extract pesky smells from your kitchen when you can Incept them!

Want your kitchen to smell like freshly cooked bacon
without having to cook the damn thing?
Then the Inceptor Fan is for you!

Simply set your fan to one of the 3 options:
Smoky Bacon
Chili Con Carne
And there you go! Smelly food smell is freshly pumped into your kitchen.

Includes a lifesize face picture of Leonardo DiCaprio featuring memorable sayings from the film such as:
"Never recreate from your memory. Always imagine new places."
"Negative emotions are trumped by positive emotions."
And, of course
"I know how to find secrets from your Mind, I know all the tricks!"

Sunday, 18 July 2010


So it's 2.15am and there's no way I'm going to bed without gathering my thoughts after seeing Inception. Much like a dream, I already feel my thoughts slipping away.

If you haven't seen Inception yet my advice to you would be to go in blind. I'd seen so many trailers, clips, and reviews that I knew half of the tricks already. In fact, if you're reading this and haven't seen it, I'd suggest you stop right now. Although I will try to keep it as spoiler-free as possible.

Once you look past all the baffling concepts of shared dreamspace and aggressive subconsciousness (you'll see what I mean), the narrative is a simple one. Dom Cobb (Dicaprio) must lead a team of dream experts on one last job if he has any chance of seeing his family again. It's not really a massive departure from his previous film, Shutter Island (in fact the final scenes are eerily similar), but he does a good job of being the emotional anchor for the film. The other characters are merely there to support DiCaprio, as they lack any such depth in their backstories. Not to say they don't do a great job of providing the film with comedy and charm (Levitt and Page are particularly noteworthy), but this isn't their movie. The only disappointment was the wasted talent of Cillian Murphy, whose character was nothing more than a walking suit.

To be honest, reviewing Inception feels like reviewing a dream. It really depends on how much you accepted the 'reality' at the time. This may be the biggest problem with the film. Accepting the numerous and ambiguous rules that the film throws at you with such lightning pace is not an easy task. Nolan brushes past some of the most complex notions with just a simple line of dialogue and expects the audience to come along for the ride (or, as a repeated line suggests, a leap of faith). The one logic I found hardest to accept was the idea of limbo; I won't go into detail, but it is the sole reason why there is any sense of drama in the film. When this isn't believable the whole film comes crashing down much like its decomposing dreamscapes. Luckily, the film is so well written, directed, and acted that you can't help but completely immerse yourself in Nolan's lavish vision.

One thing is for sure; the film looks fantastic. The dream concept allow Nolan's amazing knack for set pieces reach a whole new level of choreographed action scenes and surreal landscapes. I would loved to have seen the production team's faces when they were told they needed Joseph Gordon Levitt in an anti-gravity gun fight set in a hotel lobby. Just like seeing The Matrix for the first time, there were literally moments when my jaw hit the floor and my childish wonder took hold of me. This is an obvious testament to what a saving grace Nolan is to the Hollywood machine, as he redefines the rules of the 'Summer Blockbuster'.

And that's exactly what it is: an amazing summer blockbuster. Not a masterpiece. The logic behind the film simply lacks any sort of depth to be considered philosophical. Don't get me wrong, it's thought provoking, but not in the same way as Memento or The Prestige really challenged ideas of morality and existentialism. However the spectacle detracts from these flaws with such grace that you won't mind. I have never seen 3 different action scenes taking place all at once feel so naturally blended.

I'd need to see this film again if I was to decide on any sort of score. All I know is, it is the best way to kill 2 and a half hours this summer.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010


Great new director/actor partnership, or IDENTICAL TWINS!!!!????

(Note: these 2 looked a lot more similar in my head than they do in real life, dang)

Monday, 12 July 2010

The Incredible Sulk

If you've been hiding yourself under a proverbial rock for the last 48 hours (or watching the football like most normal people), you'll be blissfully unaware that trouble is brewing at Marvel studios over the casting of the new The Avengers movie. If you don't know by now, Marvel studios is using several superhero characters from their brand of comic books (Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Black Widow, Thor, Nick Fury, Hawkeye, and Captain America to name but a few) to feature in one big superhero movie, which is sure to make like a gazillion bucks.

Only trouble is keeping the continuity from the previous films, which is proving more difficult than expected. It all started on Saturday when it was officially announced that Edward Norton would no longer be playing the role of Bruce Banner, after his previous outing in 2008's underwhelming The Incredible Hulk. Marvel Studios President of Production, Kevin Feige, released a statement featuring sly little digs at the actor such as "The Avengers demands players who thrive working as part of an ensemble" and "need for an actor who embodies the creativity and collaborative spirit of our other talented cast members". Basically saying Norton's not a team player.

No, not this Avengers. But probably going to be just as shit.

This was not greeted well by Norton's agent, Brian Swardstrom, who within 24 hours released a statement responding to Feige's accusatory comments, which suggested Norton and Marvel were both very keen on him being part of the project. "This offensive statement from Kevin Feige at Marvel is a purposefully misleading, inappropriate attempt to paint our client in a negative light... Edward was looking forward to the opportunity to work with Joss [Whedon] and the other actors in the Avengers cast... Feige’s statement is unprofessional, disingenuous and clearly defamatory. Mr. Norton talent, tireless work ethic and professional integrity deserve more respect, and so do Marvel’s fans."

Oooo. This is now officially more interesting than the World Cup final.

The latest update is that Joaquin Phoenix has reportedly been approached for the role, and is now "mulling it over". Seems an odd choice considering the whole decision over Norton was more than likely to do with money, whilst Phoenix won't exactly be a cheap option. Marvel seem to be in rush to announce their new Bruce Banner in time for Comic-Con in 2 weeks time, so lets hope they don't start throwing offers around to just anyone.

In their hastiness, Marvel will probably cast someone awful like *gulp* Orlando Bloom.

Personally I think the whole The Avengers movie premise is absurd. Spiderman 3 fell into the trap of having too many characters, and that was only 4 superheroes. Imagine 10! As much as I trust and respect Joss Whedon, It'll be a fucking mess.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

A New Frontier

I must confess, I have never been a fan of the Western genre. Much like golf or The Eagles, it's always seemed like something your Dad had to get you into. The only western I've actually seen is Sergio Leone's Once Upon in the West, which is highly regarded as one of the best westerns ever made.

I didn't get it.

Maybe it was the 3 hour length, or the agonisingly long shots of people's eyeballs, or the somewhat wooden acting courtesy of Charles Bronson. Who knows, it just wasn't a genre I was in a hurry to revisit.

The Eagles. A band only a father could love.

Having recently played a certain computer game for 30 hours straight (do I need to mention which one?), I now have an invested interest to give the Western another chance. But where to begin? This is new territory for me. There are literally hundreds of films out there waiting to be discovered and potentially loved.

I have decided to split the Western Genre into 3 notable categories: The old west, The Clint Eastwood era, and Modern. I will watch a distinguished film from each category and put them to the Snobbery-of-Rich test and see which one comes out top. A little Film experiment. Anyone else excited? Nope? Well alrighty.

John Marston. If Carlsberg did Cowboys.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Ghostface in trouble?

It hasn't even been 24 hours since I last wrote about it, but my hopes of Scream 4 being any good have already been shattered. It has been reported that Kevin Williamson (who wrote the good Screams, 1 & 2) is currently busy with other commitments (aka fallen out with the production) and Ehren Kruger has been brought in to 'tinker' with the script. Having no clue who he was I checked out his credits on IMDB, and they include Transformers 2 (!?), Reindeer Games (!!!?), and none other than Scream 3 (!!!!!!!?). Oh well, lets hope the Scream 5 & 6 scripts don't get bludgeoned to death right before filming.

So reviews have started coming in for Eclipse, and whilst it's apparently not quite as bad as New Moon, it's not quite as good as Twilight either (averaging a 3/5 rating). Can't say I'm surprised. Having watched the first 2 movies (I was on a plane, ok!?), I don't think anything can be as bad as New Moon's 2 hours of endless teenage sulking, whereas Twilight was surprisingly watchable. And according to the trailer there's a big Vampire Vs. Werewolf showdown. My money's on the Werewolves. Seriously, how could they not win?

Talking of Vampires, Let Me In (the remake of the Swedish Vamp Flick, Let The Right One In) has just been released a trailer. I have nothing to say except IT LOOKS EXACTLY THE F*CKING SAME. ahem.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

A retrospect on this week's news...

The New Harry Potter Trailer.... it's all very exciting isn't it? If the trailer is anything to go by it will be 4 hours of dramatic music, shit loads of CGI, and a never ending climax. Just like Return of the King then.

Andrew Garfield as Spiderman.... I've never seen him in anything so I can't really comment. I mean, he looks like a Peter Parker type character, doesn't he? The only thing that troubles me is his age. He'll be 30 by the time the inevitable Spidey sequel comes out. Wasn't the whole point he was meant to be a younger Spiderman? Or are they planning to reboot this dying franchise again and again until no one cares?

Scream 4 and the hundreds of moderately famous people involved.... I have to admit, I have a bit of a soft spot for the Scream series (except 3, obviously). And the fact that Kevin Williamson is coming back to write is almost as exciting as unlimited ice cream factory at Pizza Hut. So why do I feel this is going to be a mediocre rehash of the first one? Probably because Williams/Craven's last venture, Cursed, was god awful!

And if you don't know the cast: Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox-Arquette, David Arquette Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere, Marielle Jaffe, Rory Culkin, Nico Tortorella, Erik Knudsen, Marley Shelton, Mary McDonnell, Alison Brie, Anthony Anderson and Adam Brody. Literally hundreds!