Friday, 16 December 2011

Men Who Hate Women

Considering The Social Network was my favourite film of last year, and that this film had possibly one of the best trailers ever made, my anticipation for David Fincher's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was somewhat... high.

Before you can comprehend the film has even started, Fincher rams into 5th gear with an intro that would put some of the best James Bond opening credits to shame. What follows is a highly stylised, highly cool (if slightly unnecessary) remake of Niels Arden Oplev's 2009 Swedish original.

Visually, the film has more in common with Fincher's latest efforts than the days of Seven and Fight Club. Dialogue is snappy, editing is lightning fast, and every shot could be considered as a piece of art (this film is just screaming for Blu-Ray). The film doesn't hold any punches with the original source material either; as Fincher delicately put it when commenting on the possibility of an Oscar: "there's too much anal rape in this movie”. All these factors mean there is plenty that are improved upon the 'made-for-TV' original.

There has been some critical concern about whether Rooney Mara can live up to Noomi Rapace's fantastic interpretation of the 'fiery' Lisbeth Salander. I can safely assure you that she is every bit as fearsome, vulnerable, and downright badass as her predecessor. Younger in age and lighter in frame, Mara carries a certain fragility that was missing in the Swedish version - making the 2nd act of the US version a lot more shocking.

However, as much fun as the film is, it does feel like a step backwards for Fincher. Not quite a shot-for-shot remake (à la Gus Van Sant's misconceived Psycho update), but there is simply not enough to make it stand out in it's own right. Even some of the composition of locations/characters looks exactly the same - which begs the question: did this really need a remake? And don't even get me started on Daniel Craig's accent (or lack of one).

Sick of Christmas films? This is the perfect antidote. Just don't expect another The Social Network.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Films that are ruined by their own genre

Whilst recently watching the first half of Mark and Jay Duplass’ 2008 film Baghead, I became completely enamoured with its cast of characters and the intricate love-quadrilateral between them. However, I knew this wouldn’t last forever. In a lazy attempt to branch out into a different genre, the Duplass brothers decided that this would be a horror movie. Consequently the second half of the movie is ruined by a murderous figure running around with a bag over his head. Whilst I love the horror genre, if it is not handled with great care (see The Shining), it can descend into meaningless wobbly camera shots and high pitched screaming (see Blair Witch 2).

This got me thinking about other films that could do without their own genre...


Let’s face it. Monsters wasn’t a critical success because of it’s (admittedly impressive homemade) alien SFX. What made Monsters so great was the undeniable chemistry between its 2 leads – Scoot McNairy & Whitney Able - who are, unsurprisingly, a couple in real life. So when the aliens do start blowing shit up, it’s actually a distraction from the story’s main hook – the will they, won’t they dynamic. Don’t believe me? Just watch the last 30 seconds of the film.

Attack the Block

What starts off as a rather unique urban dramedy, quickly descends into a messy exercise of cheap CGI tomfoolery. The only reason Joe Cornish’s Attack the Block comes away with any redeeming features is its cast of unlikely heroes. But given there’s an imminent alien invasion, we get very little time to actually learn about the characters – making them the two dimensional cut outs they always had the potential of being. Hopefully Cornish will stick to one subgenre in his next feature.

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

Don’t get me wrong, I adore Edgar Wright’s unashamed love letter to the slacker generation. But I can’t deny that there’s a part of me that wishes the film didn’t include the 'evil exes'. “Say what!?” I hear you say. But seriously, the story doesn’t need it. Scott Pilgrim already has a pretty interesting life: 2 hot girls on the go, a band on the verge of stardom, and an army of hipster friends. Does he really need to fight 7 evil exes as well, just to make the story interesting enough!? I think not.

For the sequel, how about: Scott Prilgrim Vs. Normal Existence? Catchy, I think you'll agree.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Gimme Shelter

Cutis has a good life. According to his best friend Dewart anyway. What he doesn't know, however, is that Curtis has been having recurring nightmares about a coming Apocalypse. For the sake of his wife and deaf daughter, Curtis tries to keep the dreams under wraps. But when he starts building an underground storm bunker in the backyard, people begin to ask questions about his sanity.

Regardless of what the ending may or may not be, Take Shelter is a film about mental health. 90% of Curtis' conflict comes from within, bubbling away under the surface (with much credit due to Michael Shannon's performance). His character doesn't revel in being a visionary vessel, and is in fact ashamed of his gift - torn between being a good father/husband and preparing for apocalyptic doom.

With Curtis' mother having given in to mental health problems at a similar age, he seems convinced that his problems are mental, but still cannot deny what he sees. This deals with a really interesting question: Is self-awareness really enough to snap out of psychosis? Throughout the film, Curtis walks a lonely tight rope of sheer belief and self doubt.

It's a shame then that Shannon's performance isn't given a script with more conviction. The film does a great job of holding our sympathy with Curtis, even when he is seemingly throwing his life away. But the last 20 minutes makes a huge compromise on its premise - delivering mixed messages about what we've just seen over the last two hours.

Despite this, Take Shelter still provides a powerful lead performance and some fantastic visual elements, making it a no brainer for rental.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011


To celebrate here is the best Matt Berry GIF ever made:

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Just a suggestion

With its one year anniversary rapidly approaching, I have a great idea for Fox Searchlight to help promote the re-release of Danny Boyle's magnificent film, 127 Hours.

I call it The 127 Hours Experience...

Cinemagoers will have their right arm strategically placed between the cup holder and seat, thus becoming trapped for the entire duration of the film (94 minutes). They will have access to approximately 350 ml of water (the same amount Aaron Ralston had), and a variety of other gadgets and gizmos to help free themselves from their seat.

An artist's impression.

After the showing the participants are given a fake, bloody hand for their troubles.

Classy, I think you'll agree.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

The Internship Diet

As some of you may or may not know, I have recently taken up an internship at the independent film distributor Soda Pictures (views here are of my own yada yada yada). Whilst being an excellent use of my time (and also a great way to piss off the parents), it has also given me an awesome, albeit unintentional, weight loss programme. Just follow these simple steps:

Step 1

Give up your well-paid, stable job and move to the unforgiving city of Londonian to pursue your unrealistic dreams. Ideally you’ll have an older, more successful sibling to put you up for a couple of months or so. That’s what they’re there for!

Step 2

Avoid any sort of public transport, even if you have to run to work. The tube is a rip-off and smells.

Step 3 – Breakfast

Tesco Wheat Biscuits. Not sure what the difference is between Weetabix and Tescos Own Brand – but honestly, how do you fuck up bonded wheat!? And double your amount of breakfasts by only having one a day!

Step 4 – Lunch

No money = less food. Simples! Tesco £2.50 meal deals should sort you out with just enough calories to reach the end of the day without collapsing from exhaustion.

Step 5 – Dinner

Reheat. Reheat. Reheat. Even until the bastard looks unrecognisable from its original conception 4 days prior.

Add marathon training on top of that and you’re well on your way to super model stardom/an eating disorder!

Sunday, 23 October 2011

We Need to Talk About Kevin

Much like the book of the same name, Lynne Ramsay's We Need to Talk About Kevin is a slow burner. Filled with repulsive (but effective) imagery of stale food and red stained houses, WNTTAK takes it's time before tackling the real meat of its story: How does a 15 year old boy commit mass murder?

In fact, Kevin doesn't even utter a single word until 30 minutes into the running time. The film, instead, focuses on the mother, Eva - played perfectly by a disconnected Tilda Swinton. Shifting from present day, where Eva lives a sheltered and nightmarish existence, to chronological flashbacks of Kevin's upbringing. Disorientating at first, the film finally finds a suitable rhythm with which to tell the story - making the inadaptable nature of the book seem all the more impressive when watching the film.

The beautiful thing about WNTTAK is its ability to be its own beast. The depth and slow brooding nature of the book are imaginatively recreated on screen via Ramsay's uncanny eye for the sinister. Innocuous actions, like Kevin making a strawberry jam sandwich, are turned into painfully creepy insights into the mind of a sociopath. This is helped immensely by a mesmerizing performance by Ezra Miller, who turns Kevin into the Hannibal Lecter of a new generation.

As for enjoyment, the 112 minute running time will feel like 5 hours of intensive hard labour. But for sheer psychoanalytical depth and breath-taking cinematography, WNTTAK cannot be beat.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Too old for this shit

Just like Courtney Cox's face, Scream 4 is fooling no one. A once great franchise has been brought back from the dead, only to be fucked up once again.

Scream 4 starts out surprisingly well. A few cheeky misdirections in the first 5 minutes give it the same unpredictable feel of the original. This soon, however, descends into tedious observations about Hollywood's recent trend in rebooting old franchises. And the fact that Scream 4 even takes the time to point out the flaws in rebooting old horror films, makes it even more inexcusable when it makes the same mistakes.

It's like a child shitting on the carpet, then having the child calmly explain to you why shitting on the carpet is wrong.

Yes, all the old cast and crew are back (Campbell, Arquette, Cox, Craven, Williamson), but their once youthful talents appear tired. Desperate, even. Williamson's script, in particular, crams in as many web 2.0 buzz words as physically possible (drink a shot everytime someone says the word 'blog', I dare ya). But worst of all, the films have become the very thing it has been trying to satirise all these years - there is absolutely nothing separating the Scream franchise from it's own fictitious OTT 'Stab' franchise. For example, instead of screaming for help or doing anything remotely 'human', characters will spout witty one-liners just before they meet their inevitable and bloody doom.

It appears that all of Scream's charm and wit died with Randy in the second installment.

If there's going to be a backlash on the whole meta craze, it begins with Scream 4.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

The 3 worst slanty angle offenders

What's the most heinous cinematic crimes? Needless B-list celebrity cameos? Plot twists involving time travel? Adam Sandler? Close, but it's actually slanty angled scenes. A desperate and cheap way of creating 'drama', the most primitive of camera techniques is somehow still in existence today, and is even used by some of Hollywood's most prolific directors. Let's name and shame.

1. Carol Reed - The Third Man
I guess we can forgive Carol as he used slanted angles before it became a horrible cliché (and even used it to great effect). But he has a lot to answer for...

2. J. J. Abrams - Star Trek
Abrams, however, is less forgivable. Why did this scene need a sweeping corkscrew shot? It's a Vulcan courtroom, not a rollercoaster, 'J' (if that is your real name).

3. Michael Bay - Everything
I spotted about 5 examples in the Transformers 2 trailer alone. When Judgement Day arrives, Michael will be first to feel the firey wrath of the Cinema Gods.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Wednesday, 21 September 2011


If you've seen Nicolas Winding Refn on BBC Breakfast describe violence like 'fucking' (see here), you might think that this was a rather gratuitous use of the word from a seemingly unapologetic European director. But once you see Drive, there really is no better way to describe the instantaneous nature of violent outbursts depicted in his latest movie.

Ryan Gosling (some dude from The Notebook) stars in this highly stylised heist movie, about a good intentioned stunt driver who gets mixed up in doomed robbery. In order to protect the ones he cares about - a single mum (played by the ever-so-sweet Carey Mulligan) and her child - he must go after the ones responsible. The mild mannered driver is consequently thrown into a world of brutality and questionable loyalties.

He drives... apparently.

Ironically, Drive does not feature any fucking or sexualised elements, and instead focuses on Gosling and Mulligan's softly spoken words of affection. And whilst its use of violence verges on the pornographic, it never stops being conscious of what it's trying to demonstrate - the monstrous capabilities of the desperate. The (unnamed) Driver is simply a man with his back against the wall, and is therefore at liberty to do anything. So violence that might be considered quite tame in a normal gangster movie (Scarface, Godfather etc. etc.) is earth shatteringly shocking in Drive because of its unassuming protagonist.

Of course, a lot of reviews have been focusing on the use of 80s chic in the movie (the awesome music and Miami Vice-like opening credits), which is cool but gimmicky. Despite the LA setting and the occasional homage to car chase movies of the 80s, there really is no need to give Drive this faux-identity.

But Refn has undoubtedly created something quite unique from an extremely tired genre, which is no mean feat nowadays. Bravo.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Howl - Blu-Ray Review

I've never seen so many hipsters in one movie.


Thursday, 1 September 2011

Competition Time!

I've sweded myself into my 5 favourite movies of all time. To be in with a chance of winning a piece of tat from my very own personal DVD collection, simply email with the names of the films. Good luck 'n' that.

Thanks to everyone who entered! And congrats to Oliver McPhee (the sly dog) who won a brand new copy of Taken on DVD!

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

One Day: not as good as the book

Fact: they removed Emma's glasses from the marketing materials. Fascists.

It seems a given these days that directors will struggle to make worthy adaptations of well-loved books on the big screen (unless your name is Peter Jackson, of course). Sometimes this due to the miscasting of lead characters, or re-writes of the screenplay, but in One Day's case it is down to the format of the book itself. Having a chapter devoted to each passing year of a 20 year story works great on the page, but just feels rushed on screen.

There are other missteps as well. Hathaway is miscast (although she tries valiantly to make it work) and key plot points are missing. But these are nitpicking in comparison to the scene by scene, year by year structure of the film. Whilst the book could use throwaway lines to subtly hint the future of our 2 protagonists, the film has to use every single line of dialogue as a means to drive the plot forward. This is due to the time restrictions of the film -107 mins (and to be fair, if it were any longer, I probably would have tried to choke myself with my own popcorn).

This means the complexities of the book (loneliness, infidelity, love) are boiled down to simplistic issues that can be found in most so-so rom-coms. Even the characters become cartoonish caricatures of themselves in order to keep up with the breakneck pace of the movie.

However, Lone Scherfig (An Education) does inject some genuine affection into the film, and Jim Sturgess makes for a good Dexter. So whilst it's not a complete disaster, the fantastic source material has been slightly wasted on an average film adaptation. Fingers crossed Richard Linklater will remake it into a HBO series.

Friday, 26 August 2011

I have a life... honest

Whereas most people on a Friday night would go out, get drunk, and kiss each other's face off, I spent the evening compiling my favourite 'bad British accents' from movies. This was inspired after watching the trailer for One Day and hearing Anne Hathaway's attempt at a Yorkshire accent (just listen to the way she says 'top', it's quite incredible).

Anyway, I'm gonna go out tomorrow and have fun. I swear.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Where I compare The Inbetweeners Movie to my own miserabe experiences

My best mate Jamie shows off his new Simpsons towel in our Ayia Napa holiday apartment. "Almost lost his shorts in the Rip Tide, Man!" Bart exclaims, on this shoddy piece of rip-off merchandising. And this towel would only lead the way for one of the most nauseating and deafening 2 weeks of my life, way back in 2005.

So, as much as I love The Inbetweeners, I was also slightly dreading the inevitable comparisons the movie would make with my own 'lads holiday'. Nevertheless, I had high hopes that this would be the sign off that Will, Jay, Simon, and Neil deserved. And it certainly doesn't disappoint.

The director's brief: 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it'

Apart from some flashy camera movements (most noticeably on the club strip), there is nothing distinguishing about the style of filmmaking. Which begs the question: why a movie? Why not a TV special? Mike Skinner apparently composed the original score, but there is absolutely nothing here to indicate a substantial budget or unlimited resources. Instead, the magic is purely what we have on screen: the undisputed chemistry between the 4 lads, and their pitiful attempts at attracting the attention of the opposite sex. This is where The Inbetweeners Movie shines: observational comedy at it's best. From the awkward unison dancing, to the awful 'morning afters', nothing has captured the modern youth of Britain so succinctly as The Inbetweeners.

This is obviously all great news for us fans, but it's unlikely to convert non-believers. There's nothing here that we haven't seen before in previous episodes (except Jay's cock perhaps). Even some of the new characters, especially the girls, are carbon copies of characters in the original series. And given this was the final outing for the likely lads, I was expecting more of a sentimental tone to the proceedings. But what do you expect from a movie that features 4 teenage boys trying to clean a turd out of a bidet?

So if you find the word 'gash' or 'bender' amusing, this will undoubtedly be the quickest 97 minutes you will spend all summer. However, those who are easily offended need not apply.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

How to quit your job… according to the movies

As the economic situation becomes an ever worsening nightmare of epic proportions, I thought it would be a good time to quit my steady well-paid job, and pursue my dream of working in the film industry. There’s no point reasoning with me, I am an idiot.

However, my rather underwhelming resignation only reminded of how films misrepresent quitting your job as some sort of manic display of contempt for everything their employer’s stand for. Here’s how the movies expects you to burn your bridges...

Insult your boss

From: American Beauty (1999)

Let’s face it, who hasn’t wanted to call their boss a ‘bongo-head’ and play their head like a drum at some point or another? Never has it been bettered than Lester Burnham’s speech in American Beauty: “My job consists of basically masking my contempt for the assholes in charge.” Risky? Yes. Bold? Yes. Realistic? Probably not.

Flip out

From: Jerry McGuire (1996)

Reminiscent to Arnold J Rimmer’s ‘I am a fish’ routine from Red Dwarf, Tom Cruise shows us the dignity in being fired. This scene is a personal favourite of mine because I could totally see Tom Cruise doing this in real life.

Tell everyone to go f*** themselves

From: Half Baked (1998)

Succinct and to the point. Just don’t expect a good reference.

Beat yourself up

From: Fight Club (1999)

Not the most conventional of quitting routines, but it certainly leaves an impact on the previous employer. And hey, you might even succeed in your little blackmailing ploy!

Monday, 25 July 2011

"They should have sent a poet."

Can I be a pretentious knob for a moment? Thanks.

Having watched The Tree of Life over a week ago, I still find myself pondering over the many intricate details of the movie.

How did Malick recreate a family that's so pitch-perfect that it's hard to believe these people are actually actors? How did Brad Pitt convey about 70 billion emotions in a single glance? How does this film wrap up the meaning of existence in a measly 139 minutes?

This isn't a film in the conventional meaning of the word. If you let it, it is a meditation on the human soul, God, the Universe, and everything inbetween. Let it wash over you.

Yes, even the dinosaur bit.

Monday, 11 July 2011

The Creepiest Scene in Cinema History

For a film that has virtually no gore, extreme violence, or 'big scares', The Night of the Hunter certainly doesn't skimp out on the creeps. Robert Mitchum plays Reverend Harry Powell with the perfect balance of sinisterness and charm (but never OTT), in this 1950s classic. Go seek.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

The Secret in Their Marketing

Having watched the highly acclaimed Argentinian crime drama The Secret in Their Eyes the other night, I am still reeling from what a fantastic film it is: well paced plot, heart-wrenching themes, awesome twists. It pretty much has everything. Then I turned to the DVD cover and realised why it had taken me so long to watch the damn film. THE DVD COVER IS F*CKING TERRIBLE.

Misleading DVD covers have been a bit of a bugbear of mine ever since discovering the awful design for Noah Baumbach's Greenberg. And it appears The Secret in Their Eyes is the latest victim of this most heinous of film crimes. Lets have a looksee.

1. Why does it look like a Bond film? This is a film about loss and dealing with the past. So is the exploding 'Golden Eye' really necessary?

2. Why is Esposito holding an (obviously photoshopped) gun? Yes, there are a couple of guns that are used very sparingly this movie. But NEVER does this particular character even come close to holding a gun. Why!?

3. It's not a Thriller. Even though The Daily Express quote would have you believe this is some sort of fast paced Bourne type techno-thriller, it is actually a fairly slow and thoughtful crime drama.

4. Seeing Stars. "It is foreign, but look at all these stars! It must be good!" - idiot shopper

5. Free Digital Copy. So f*cking what?


Tuesday, 28 June 2011

A more innocent time

I watched Brief Encounter last night. It is a delightful 80 minute story of a married woman falling in love with a man she meets at a train station.

But with films such as Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon running the international box office these days, here's an artists impression of what Brief Encounter might look like if it were remade today:

It would be 3 hours long and the two leads would be played by giant robots. AWESOME.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Green Lantern? More like Green Bland-ern. Get it!?

Okay, so I've been very wrong about every superhero movie this year so far. First off, I predicted Thor would be the worst thing since Spiderman 3. Then I foresaw Green Lantern being the BEST film of the year. And as for Captain America, all bets are off.

Whilst Green Lantern isn't completely terrible, it doesn't help itself by being mediocre in nearly every department. It feels like a very paint by numbers superhero flick, with no real hint of originality or desire to 'break the mold'.

The main fault lies with the script, which I presume was written in an afternoon (inbetween Neighbours and Hollywoaks). Characters are clunkily thrown together at pivotal moments, the romance is so drab it's not even worth mentioning, and all of the characters are so unbelievably stupid. For example, a sophisticated (and seemingly immortal) alien race decide to embrace the power of fear in order to destroy it, EVEN THOUGH one of their peers did exactly the same thing and ended up trying to take over the entire galaxy. Yes, very sophisticated.

It's a real shame because the film does have potential. It's got Ryan Reynolds (badass), a great superhero, and some awesome action scenes. Even the Fear Vs. Will dynamic is an interesting concept. But modern audiences just aren't stupid enough to care for a superhero simply because they make the odd quirky one-liner.

Must try harder, Hollywood.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

A Shameless Love Letter to Kristen Wiig

If you've seen Bridesmaids advertised on a bus or on TV, you might think that the marketing is suggesting that the film is going to be a second-rate 'The Hangover for girls'. And in some ways you'd be right. It relies upon the same crass breakdowns of gender relationships and stereotypes that The Hangover uses. But if you think this film is going be second-rate, you're sadly mistaken.

Sure, its got some gender exclusive jokes ('aren't men crap in bed' and 'women really like weddings'), but for the most part I found myself laughing harder than most of the females in the audience. Why? I LOVE Kristen Wiig.

Ever since her catty appearance in Knocked Up, I have developed a serious comedy crush on this woman. From her appearance in Flight of the Conchords (as the awesomely named Brabra) to 2010's underrated Whip It, Wiig always manages to steal the show with ease. And its no different in Bridesmaids. Her ability to convey subtle annoyances with just a single wince of the mouth, but also be hilariously outrageous (attacking a giant cookie for instance) testifies to what a true comedic genius she is.

Plus, she's like mega hot.


Monday, 6 June 2011

I like to get deep sometimes and think about Einstein

I'm not going to pretend I know much about spirituality or Eastern philosophies. But every so often (especially after witnessing a Terrence Malick film) I find myself asking the big one: "Life. What's that all about, eh!?"

With Tree of Life on the verge of release in the UK, I thought I'd share some of my favourite philosophical scenes. Enjoy and ponder.

There is no spoon - The Matrix

We all need mirrors - Memento (Spoiler)

We are not enemies, but friends - American History X (Spoiler)

The Dude Abides - The Big Lebowski

Life's Waiting Room - Waking Life

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

3 Reasons Attack the Block Doesn't Work

Before you throw rotten fruit and put me in the gallows, let me first explain that I adore Joe Cornish. Having been an avid fan of the Adam and Joe TV and radio show since a wee nip, I feel a very special affinity with the 2 uber-geek comedians. It then pains me to say (as predicted in a previous post) that Attack the Block is just 'so-so'. Let me explain.

1. The Story's Rubbish - I know it's unfair to expect an Alien invasion movie to have a plot like Citizen Kane, but when the backstory feels like something they came up with on the day, the whole film is reduced to a shallow exercise of 'what looks cool'. The Thing, Aliens, Predator - all have intriguing and compelling origin stories, and therefore we yearn to know more. Apart from being aggressive and horny, there is nothing to the aliens in Attack the Block. Which conveniently leads me to my next point...

"They're, like, floaty plant creatures."

2. The Aliens Aren't Scary - This would be fine if the movie concentrated more on being a comedy rather than a horror film. However, the film sacrifices comedic moments in order to shock it's audience, but the only scares the film achieves are cheap 'jump' tactics. The aliens simply don't have the realism or threatening appearance to warrant any serious horrific moments. I want my aliens to look like ugly motherf*ckers, rather than a stylistic cartoons.


3. Unsympathetic Characters - Even though the young cast of unknowns are extremely impressive, I really didn't care when one of them bit the dust. This is mainly due to the fact that 'the youths' mug and threaten a woman with a knife at the beginning of the film. I know we're meant to see past their faults as fragile insecurities of growing up in a harsh South London, but 88 minutes simply isn't a long enough runningtime to demonstrate this turnaround. Even the supporting cast are a bunch of unsympathetic cannon fodder.

Nick Frost's character: bit of a dick

Don't get me wrong, it's a fun movie with some great dialogue and booming soundtrack. But perhaps Cornish should have spent more time crafting his own story, rather than creating a hybrid film that satisfies neither the alien, horror, or comedy genre.

Note: I should win a f*cking award for not mentioning Shaun of the Dead.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Trailer Talk: Revenge of the Scrutiny

X-Men: First Class

If you were worried that X-Men: First Class was going to be as dreadful as the posters would have you believe, think again. An international trailer has been released for the hotly anticipated X-prequel, and it is Epic (note the capital ‘e’ there).

Unless you've been living in a media proof bunker for the last 6 months, you'll know that X-M: FC takes us back to the origin story of Charles and Erik (aka Professor X and Magneto). Y'know, before things got awkward. Set against the Cuban Missile Crisis, the film seems to be having a lot of fun mixing real historical events and X-Men lore into a twisted version of the 1960s. Kind of like Watchmen.

We catch brief glimpses of Nicholas Hoult and Jennifer Lawrence as the young Beast and Mystique. But it appears director Matthew Vaughn has focused the film’s attention on the troubled friendship between Charles (James McAvoy) and Erik (Eric Fassbender). In the trailer we see how they first meet, their developing friendship, and the inevitable differences they begin to display. I have a lot of respect for McAvoy’s acting talents, but I think Fassbender's brooding and unruly portrayal of a young Magneto might steal the show. “Peace was never an option” – anyone else think Fassbender would make an excellent Bond?

What struck me most about the trailer was the scope of the film. Juggling complex relationships, self discovery, and a heavy political context; have they overstuffed this origin story? With talks already underway for a sequel (and potential new trilogy), let's hope they leave some plotlines left for the series to explore.

Cowboys Vs Aliens

If you were like me and thoroughly unimpressed with Jon Favereau’s extended Avengers teaser, Iron Man 2, then you’re probably not too bothered about his latest Blockbuster romp either. However, those clever clogs up in Hollywood have dreamt up an idea that combines BOTH the Western genre and the Sci-Fi genre. OMG. I mean, Serenity technically did it first, but whatever.

Set in the 19th Century Wild West, a spaceship lands and tries to take over the world. All that stands in their way is a posse of cowboys, including a mysterious lone ranger with amnesia (Daniel Craig). Harrison Ford stars/grumbles alongside Craig in the first Bond vs Indiana Jones showdown since The Last Crusade. If this sounds like a novelty film, that’s because it is.

However, if there’s one thing it’s got going for it, it’s the action. From start to finish the trailer is a 2 and a half minute thrill ride of intergalactic proportions. Luckily it retains a good balance of CGI spaceship spectacles and good ol’ fashioned gun slinging. And the rocking soundtrack (a Favereau trademark) gives the film a nice tongue in cheek b-movie feeling to the whole affair. As for the performances, Craig once again pulls out the ‘tough man with a conscience’ role, and Olivia Wilde heats things up as the potential love interest.

But it shouldn’t go unmentioned that it contains possibly one of the dumbest lines of dialogue in recent memory: “You know who you are. You just have to remember.” Jeez, thanks Olivia.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Little White Lies

Not to be confused with the independent film magazine.

Little White Lies
(or Les petits mouchoirs, if you insist on being pretentious) is this year's 'must-see French film'. This is mainly because us English folk can only stand watching one subtitled film a year. And whilst it is certainly very well observed, it's 154 minute running time is a gross overestimate of an audience's attention span for a dromedy.

Starring an impressive ensemble cast (including everybody's favourite token French chick, Marion Cotillard), it is a story of a group of friends who make the rather unethical decision to go on holiday whilst a dear friend of their's recovers from a horrific car crash. However, the seemingly pleasant holiday spirals into a mass of revelations and confessions - potentially ruining all of their friendships.

"Look, it's that token French chick!"

Despite the film being about quite a repugnant group of self-obsessed people, there is a lot to enjoy from this movie. The comedic elements are superb, especially from François Cluzet's character Max, who spends the whole film trying to exterminate an intruding family of raccoons. And some of the relationship storylines are heartbreakingly well observed. But by the 3rd act the story finds itself in a viscous loop of repeating the same scenes again and again. So much so that the film loses all emotional impact by its finale, which should have had the whole audience in floods of tears.

Cut this film down by an hour and you'd have a 5 star movie. But as it is: 3 and a half stars. Great Soundtack though...

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Source Code

Sci-fi used to be a dirty word amongst the general cinema-going populace, connotated with images like this:

However, ever since Zowie Bowie's (aka Duncan Jones, but I refuse to call him by his 'normal' name) directorial debut, Moon, hit cinemas in 2008, Sci-Fi has been going through somewhat of a renaissance period of late. From Nolan's Inception last year to Burger's Limitless released a couple of weeks ago, we have been spoilt with some very interesting reinventions of the contemporary Sci-Fi movie. Lucky for us, Zowie is now back with his difficult 2nd album; Source Code - a high concept, big budget Sci-Fi thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal. Some might scoff and cough the words 'sell out', but this is by no means the dumb Hollywood produced mess that you might be expecting.

Using science we can see how the modern Sci-Fi movies weigh up.

An on form Gyllenhaal plays Colter Stevens, a military helicopter pilot who mysteriously wakes up on train to Chicago. His confusion is only short lived, however, as the train quickly erupts into a ball of flames, which then reveals his true location: a secret military bunker with no means of escape. To go into much more detail would spoil the excellently paced drip-fed plot, but rest assured, things are explained with [fairly] logical conclusions.

Zowie has created an extremely tight and ambitious film that crosses a multiple of genres; from thriller, to Sci-Fi, to comedy, to romance. The comparisons with Moon are quite apparent but not over-whelming: main male protagonist finding himself in a bizarre scenario with a clear desire to escape the controlling forces that be. But there is much more of a central romance theme in this film, and thanks to Michelle Monoghan it is startlingly real and compelling - regardless of the shallow set-up. I feel if this film was left up to a more 'traditional' director, the romance would have be sidelined for a more action packed (and probably shite) affair.

The ending might implode from cheating the very laws the film sets out to establish, but only a true Sci-Fi geeks will turn away in disgust. The film deserves such a finale - no matter which way you look at it.