Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Life Of Brian

Monty Python was a name that all through the 1970s would have children and adults alike shouting "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition", "Spam spam spam spam", and many more, but in 1979, the Python team released a film that would have us all saying "He's not the Messiah, he's a very naughty boy!" and that film was 'Life Of Brian'.


Considered by most to be the greatest of the four Python movies, and in 2006's '50 Greatest Comedy Films' on Channel 4, it was awarded top spot.

The film tells the story of Brian, born in a stable in Bethlehem, who is mistaken for the Messiah. During his life, he falls in love, gets involved with a group of terrorists, paints 'Romans go home' on the walls of Pontius Pilate's palace, and is eventually crucified with a group of criminals, who end the film singing 'Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life'.


The thing is, the plot is not the point. Life of Brian is actually nicely researched film that chronicles a dirty, miserable, oppressive time when people were ready to worship a shoe if they thought it would get them a better deal in the afterlife. It sends up the ponderous Biblical epics of the 1950s and 60s, along with the whole of Judeo-Christian history. Of course, this led to the Church condemning the film, and some areas banning it entirely. This only led to a rise in its popularity, as it often does when something in the media is considered controversial, in fact, Sweden advertised it as "The film that is so funny that it was banned in Norway!"

So, as long as you're not easily offended, please give this film a chance if you haven't done so already. It will not disappoint.


VERDICT - ALRIGHT, I AM THE MESSIAH! NOW FUCK OFF!

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

1 - Don't watch the Watchmen

Some big changes

Well, some big changes have been made, both in life and to the site. I am going to be doing weekly film reviews, as well as a movie-based weekly satirical comic strip.

I will be trying to get each of these up over the weekends, but will start with them today.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

A thankyou

As I have already mentioned, this blog was for a university project which is now over. The blog will be continued even though the project is done, so don't worry about me vanishing.

I would just like to thank the various people who visited the site, enjoyed (or disagreed with) the reviews, and commented on them. It was such a great boost in confidence for this site to see the views heading towards 3000 when it was marked, and it was you people who helped me reach the final grade of 76 out of 80.

Make sure to keep coming back for new reviews, because I am not going anywhere!

So here is to you, everyone at London Met, everyone who knows me personally, or who was sent the link from a friend, to Kabuki Elvis (Joe), to Semolina Pilchard (Francesca), and a special thanks to the ever-patient B3tans who didn't moan when I kept posting the link to my site in the hopes of constructive advice from people who run websites for a living.


For the fans, a simple yet beautiful gift; me dressed as a dinosaur.


Friday, 27 March 2009

Scarface

In 1983, eleven years after finding fame as Michael Corleone in 'The Godfather', Al Pacino was becoming one of the most recognised film stars in Hollywood. He was receiving roles in all the big films of the time, but was remaining fairly picky about which ones he took. Oliver Stone offered him a role in his remake of a 1932 film classic. Stone's film became a classic in its own right, and that film was 'Scarface'.



The movie tells the story of Tony Montana, a Cuban 'political refugee' who moves to Miami, with plans to becoming the leader of a drug empire. Along the way, he loses a lot of people he loves, and succumbs to greed. He learns that crime really doesn't pay in the long run.

'Scarface' received 3 Golden Globe nominations, appears in the IMDB top 250 films, is ranked as the tenth best gangster film by the AFI (American Film Institute)

The film has been called a classic, terrific, "the movie every guy must see". And what word do I award it?

Over-rated.

The plot is all-over-the-place, not a single one of the characters is likeable, they are all two-dimensional, Pacino's character is ridiculous to the point of laughable, and, to be honest, the film is just not that good.

Yes, there are lots of men out there who are yelling at me right now, but they are the same men who like films with Jason Statham in them, films about motor racing, and films with no plot, but plenty of tits.

This film is NOT for people who want to see an intelligent gangster film. Stick with 'The Godfather' for that, or, better yet, the original 1932 'Scarface'


VERDICT - DON'T TOOT YOUR HORN HONEY, YOU'RE NOT THAT GOOD.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

The end of a (short and silly) era

Well gang, it has been fun, but things cannot last forever. My blog is being marked as we speak, and so I must say, to all the fans, I hope you appreciate the effort that went into this.

One film a day, that's 2-3 hours work right there, a day, on top of university!

This is, by no means, goodbye. I will still be reviewing films, just at a rate of one or two a week. If I kept going with one a day, I would kill someone, probably myself.

Again, thankyou for your support, it as meant a great deal.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory

"A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men."

Everything that Roald Dahl wrote was complete and utter nonsense. But what incredible, beautiful, bizarre, fantastical nonsense to grow up reading, and having read to you!



Charlie and the Chocolate factory was, without a doubt, my favourite book as a child, and remains very high up on my list. 'Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory' was, although not completely true to the book, still very 'Dahlian', after all, Dahl wrote the screenplay as well.

In the film, Willy Wonka runs a chocolate factory. His ideas were of a genius never seen before, and so people tried to copy them. Wonka was infuriated, and so shut down the factory. Now, decades later, Wonka is reopening his factory, and allowing five people inside to see the magic, if they are lucky enough to find a golden ticket.

This film is dark. As a child, there were scenes in it that genuinely freaked me out. Dahl's stories often have a surreal edge to them, and this has been kept in the film. Any children's film that shows the decapitation of a live chicken clearly has guts to go aganst convention.

It is very hard to find fault with this film, and so I must direct you to a peice of trivia. How much better would the film be if Willy Wonka had been played by Roald Dahl's first choice for the role? Who was that? Spike Milligan.


VERDICT - IT HAPPENS EVERY TIME, THEY ALL BECOME BLUEBERRIES.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Ed Wood

"My friends, can your heart stand the shocking facts about grave-robbers from outer space?" Ed Wood, 1958.

Edward D Wood JR was the worst director of all time. I am not exaggerating that, or being blazé, he was actually voted the worst by a jury of his peers.

He created films about transvestism, alien plans to make people rise from their graves, more transvestism, naked vampires, and transvestism. Since the mid-1980s, his films have gained a huge cult following, especially 'Plan 9 From Outer Space', but there is no denying that this is because they are well and truly awful.


'Plan 9 From Outer Space' (1959) Trailer

As a truly cult director of strange creepy films, who better to direct his biopic than Tim Burton? He did just this in 1994, with the film 'Ed Wood'.



The film (shot entirely in black and white) tells the story of Ed Wood, from the first script he writes, to the release of his 'best' film, 'Plan 9 From Outer Space'.

The first film Wood made was 'Glen or Glenda', a film based on his real-life struggle with transvestism, which he had been involved in since childhood, even admitting that, during the Second World War, he had parachuted into action wearing women's underwear beneath his uniform.

Tim Burton was incredibly brave to film entirely in black and white, but it worked perfectly. It had the B-Movie feel that Wood movies all had, and despite having millions of dollars spent on it, winning dozens of awards in the process, it feels like a very quaint small movie.

The film contains just the right amount of comedy, while still remaining quite moving in places, and staying true to Wood's life. Of course, it has the 'Burtonesque' feel about it, but, with this subject matter, it works.


VERDICT - CUT! THAT WAS PERFECT!

Finding Nemo

Disney have always ruled the market in children's films. People of all ages define their childhoods by what films they remember. My parents remember films like 'Jungle Book'. A friend's father told me about being introduced to jazz from seeing 'The Aristocats'.

Personally I think I grew up at the best time for Disney movies, my memories lined with screenshots from 'The Little Mermaid', 'Beauty and the Beast' and 'Aladdin', but I am sure that you always think YOUR youth had the best films to grow up with.

It is sad to think that my children won't see any new hand-drawn and coloured cartoons from Disney, but they will have a hell of a replacement with the films of Pixar.

In 1995, Pixar made the first computer-animated feature film ever, 'Toy Story', and it was a hit of epic proportions. Since then, they have become more efficient, and bring out one film a year, compared to one every two and three, that have consistently topped the box office, and taken more money than any other animated film (and often any film at all) that year.

In 2003, Pixar raised the bar for all future animations with the excellent 'Finding Nemo'.



In the film, a fish named Marlin (voiced perfectly by Al Brooks) loses his son Nemo, who he has brought up alone after his wife and other eggs are eaten by a barracuda.

Marlin, with the help of a friendly but dim-witted friend Dory, explore the entire ocean to find Nemo (now you know where the title comes from), along the way meeting sharks, jellyfish, a hippy turtle, and many other cameos played by unbeleivably famous people in parts with just a handful of lines.

Of course, being a Disney film, it all turns out okay. Marlin finds Nemo and they save the day, by freeing some fish from a net.

The film is about as good as a children's film gets. It has so many jokes delivered with perfect timing, for kids and adults, and it has plenty of important lessons to teach children without being patronising.

If you haven't seen it (and I don't know how you could have managed not to) then please do. It will make you very happy.


VERDICT - GRAB A SHELL DUDE!

I know, I am sorry!

Two days running with no review! I am afraid I was still recovering from the 24 hour review-a-thon. Good news is that last night I slept for 14 hours, my internal clock appears to be running at GMT for the first time in ages, and I am going to make it up to you lovely lads and lasses with two reviews tonight.

A certain someone has been bothering me to do 'Finding Nemo', so that's first up, followed by the cult Johnny Depp film 'Ed Wood'.


Enjoy!

Sunday, 15 March 2009

It ends...

Well, that's it! A 24 hour review-fest of epic proportions. 13 films in total I beleive?

I hope you have all enjoyed, and quite frankly, if you think I am going to be doing a review tomorrow, then you can sod off.

Goodbye!

Die Hard

Well, here we are people, our last review of the 24 hour film-fest. I know many people will be thinking "hang on, this is being posted at like, 10, 10.30, that' only 22 hours!" This is because the site saves the time I STARTED the review, and so the actual film and review ends at around Midday.

Anyway, on with the review. It's 1989, and all the kids in the playground are yelling 'Yippie Kiy Yay!'. That's right boys and girls, it's time for 'Die Hard'!



In Los Angeles, a Christmas party is held on the 30th floor of the Nakatomi Plaza office building. While the party is going on, downstairs, a group of German terrorists arrive and take the entire building hostage including its employees and attempts a huge robbery of over $600 million in bonds from the building's high tech vault. The only one who eludes capture is New York City Cop John McClane who launches a one man war in an attempt to stop the terrorists and save all hostages, including his wife Holly.

What takes place in just over 2 hours of film is such a great, textbook example of no-holds-barred, balls-to-the-wall dumb but fun violent action ever put on film. John McClane (Bruce Willis) slowly but violently works his way through around 30 bad guys (Really bad guys too. They have no redeeming features. Plus, they are those dirty foreign types too!).

It's not the kind of film you watch with your mum, but if you are looking for a film for having a few drinks with your friends, and want to end up yelling and cheering at the screen, then this is the film for you.

VERDICT - YIPPEE KIY YAY MOTHERF*%±ER!

The Breakfast Club

1985 delivered us some amazing movies. It was the year of 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off', 'The Goonies', 'Stand By Me', 'Back To The Future', 'Rambo' and 'Cocoon'....cancel that last one. It also brought us the now legendary 'Breakfast Club'.



It tells the story of five teenagers, all of whom have been given a Saturday detention for various different reasons. They are instructed by the arrogant teacher in charge to write an essay about who they consider themselves to be. Instead, they learn more than they ever thought they would. They learn about each other. The popular girl (Molly Ringwald) learns how badly she has been treating the nerd (Anthony Michael Hall), and how a troubled life has led to the bully (Judd Nelson) knowing nothing more than his attention-getting ways.

I have to say, I chose this, and the final film (Die Hard) based entirely on the fact they are two of my favourite films, and I wanted to end the marathon on a high.

This film is so funny, so clever, so touching. It really was written with teenagers in mind, and when you are growing up, there is nothing like knowing that at least one person out there understands how you feel. If you haven't seen it, please do watch it, it really does have an affect on you.

The only small criticism I have of this film is the real change for the better that occurs in the group is instigated by the smoking of a hell of a lot of weed, which doesn't really set a good example for the younger viewers!


VERDICT - MESS WITH THE BULL, AND YOU GET THE HORNS

Iron Man

It was the film of the year, the superhero film of the decade, 'Marvel's marvel'. The world waited with baited breath to decide whether a success or flop would come from 'Iron Man'.



Playboy genius Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) is the successful CEO of the Stark Industries, a weapon company founded by his father. His second in command is Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges), who worked with his father, and his loyal and professional secretary is Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), who is in love with Tony.

While in Afghanistan demonstrating the Jericho missile developed by his company, his military convoy is attacked and Tony is seriously wounded and kidnapped by a group of rebels that wants him to assemble a missile for their use. Tony stays with his abductors for three months and develops a powerful metallic armor to escape from the cave where he is kept. He decides to stop manufacturing weapons in his company under the protest of Obadiah, and dedicates his time to improve the armor, manufacturing it with gold and titanium and installing a propulsion system to fly. However, Pepper discovers that Tony was betrayed by Obadiah, who is using Tony's data to build prototype armor for himself, transforming it in the ultimate weapon.

The film is, without a doubt, the best Marvel comic movie there has been. Personally I think this is due to how likeable Tony is as a character. We can call him arrogant if we want, but there is nobody who can say they wouldn't love to be where he is. He is rich, powerful, loved by all, and on top of that, he can put on an awesome red and gold suit, and fly around!

Unlike so many superheroes, who have to protect their loved ones, and keep their identities safe, Stark is able to do as he pleases, announcing at the end of the film "I am Iron Man", and you will wish you were too.


VERDICT - YEAH, I CAN FLY

Maybe Baby

Ah, at last, a film in this review marathon that I didn't enjoy! You lot that recommended movies are too damn nice. You recommended to me films that you genuinely enjoyed and wanted my opinion on, and so, generally, these films were fairly good. Leave it to my better half to foinaly siggest a film thta I found boring, predictable, tasteless in an unfunny way and self important where importance is certainly not due.



Sam and Lucy Bell are a married couple who seem to have it all. Good looks, successful careers and an enthusiastic love life. The only thing they lack is the one thing they want most, a baby. They try everything in their efforts to get pregnant. New Age chanting, acupuncture, creative lovemaking, but all this hectic schedule achieves is them finding themselves getting more tired. Ovulation charts soon replace spontaneity, when the couple reluctantly put themselves in the hands of medical professionals. At the same time, as Sam comes to find his job increasingly unfulfilling, he sets his sights on writing a screenplay, but writer's block strikes. Encouraged to 'look within' by his hippie friend Druscilla, Sam is inspired. He will write a comedy about a couple trying for a baby! But Lucy is horrified at the idea, and forbids him to tell their story. Sam and Lucy's love for each other, the most important thing they both have, is truly put to the test.

Don't worry, I haven't gone soft on you, I purposely wrote that to sound corny, and like a soundbite, because that's all the film is. A big soundbite from all the films just like this. "Oooh, I love you, but you annoy me, and we can't have a baby, and you did something wrong, oh maybe we broke up but it's all OK now because we sorted it out somehow".

It's not worth the hour and a half for about 4 laughs.


VERDICT - MAYBE NOT

Mystery Men

In 1999, the film of the year was a sure thing, dozens of celebrities were signed on, and everyone was talking about it. When it came out, however, it completely flopped, and to an extent, I agree with the fate given to 'Mystery Men'.



In order to generate more endorsement revenue, Champion City's resident superhero Captain Amazing (Greg Kinnear) arranges for the release of supervillian Casanova Frankenstein (Geoffrey Rush), only to be captured by him. The city's fate rests in the hands of seven loser superhero wannabes: the fork-flinging Blue Rajah (Hank Azaria), the shovel-wielding Shoveler (William H Macy), the posessed bowling ball-hurling Bowler (Janeane Garofolo), the flatulent Spleen (Paul Reubens), the only-when-nobody's-looking Invisible Boy (Kel Mitchell), the mysterious Sphinx (Wes Studi), and the perpetually-angry Mr. Furious (Ben Stiller).

The best parts of the film comes from the comedy. A lot of the stars in it have a history in stand-up or sketch comedy and so have very good comic timing, and are very skilled in ad-libbing. Unfortunately, this does mean that some of the more heavily scripted scenes feel a bit flat. Obviously a scene that needs to stick to the script is likely to have important plot points in it, and so the flatness of those scenes make the whole plot feel fairly redundant.

It's still worth seeing just for a good few jokes, and Tom Waits reading his lines off his fingers.


VERDICT - I DON'T NEED A COMPASS TO KNOW WHICH WAY THE WIND SHINES.

O Brother Where Art Thou?

Roughly telling the story of Ulysses from Homer's Odyssey, The Coen Brothers 2000 film continued the brothers' very odd, but very successful series of films. I can safely say that there has never been a film quite like 'O Brother Where Art Thou?'.



In the film Everett (George Clooney) escapes from prison with the help of two inmates (John Turturro and Tim Blake Nelson) by promising them a cut of stolen loot that he hid before being arrested. Along the way, they meet a blind prophet who dooms their journey, sexy sirens, a 'cyclops' (a man with an eye-patch played by John Goodman), and a KKK lynch mob that nearly hangs them and their 'negro friend' Tommy (Chris Thomas King) who was rumoured to have sold his soul to the Devil at a crossroads at midnight for an incredible skill on the guitar.

To say Coen Brothers films are strange is like saying Britain is a little short on cash at the moment. They often stem from unusual or obscure stories, and break into tangents that are often hard to follow, but anyone who knows films knows that when a Coen brothers films come out, you should expect something very special.

It's well worth watching, but you might have to watch it more than once to understand everything.


VERDICT - I'M A DAPPER DAN MAN!

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Ghostbusters

"Who ya gonna call?"



Surely you have all seen this? The story is that there are some ghosts, and it is the job of Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, Dan Akroyd and The Other One to bust them.

The film proved to be a surprise smash of epic proportions. The makers found it very difficult to raise the money to make the movie, Ivan Reitman and Harold Ramis have always said that "the film would not get commissioned today, so we were very lucky at the time".

Despite this, the film was one of the most successful of the 1980s, and was voted the 28th best family film ever.

VERDICT - WE CAME, WE SAW, WE KICKED IT'S ASS!


Kick it, Ray Parker Jr!

Mallrats

"My cousin Walter once had to go to the hospital because he had a cat stuck in his ass"

This line opens a film that is the definition of 'there is no story, just situations put there to allow us more chances for jokes'. This film is 'Mallrats'.



In 'Mallrats', the two lead characters, Quint and Brodie (played by Jeremy London and Jason Lee), both lose their girlfriends on the same day. They go to the mall only to find that Quint's girlfriend is about to star on a dating show being filmed in the mall, and Brodie's girlfriend is being seduced by a horrible guy who owns a store (Ben Affleck) and they decide to help each other, and enlist Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and the film's writer/producer/director Kevin Smith) to get their women back.

The film did not perform well at the cinema, and I can understand why. Many of the jokes are tasteless, there is a lot of 'toilet humour', and lots of references to films and pop culture that some people would not have understood.

It was only when the film was released on VHS, and of course later, on DVD, that it gained a cult following that has allowed it to be counted amongst Smith's greatest, like 'Clerks', and 'Chasing Amy'.

I will admit, it's not brilliant, but it's fine. There are plenty of funny moments, but don't expect to be dazzled.


VERDICT - SNOOTCHIE BOOTCHIES!

Babe



'Babe'
tells the story of a pig who goes on to be the country's most successful sheep'dog', thus avoiding his owner's original plans to eat him.

Whatever your age, and whatever taste you have in movies, there is at least some enjoyment to be taken from this film. Also, if by any chance you have a child, and they haven't seen this, show it to them NOW! There are lessons to be learnt, while you secretly enjoy the singing mice. In fact, have some singing mice to enjoy now!



What I like about this film is that, as important as the story is, it's a nice 'little' story. Nothing hugely exciting happens, just view of life on a farm. Everything is very cute. The farmhouse looks like a cottage in Disneyland; the farmer's wife considers being 'vice deputy chairwoman of the official sheepdog trial voting committee her most important duty in life; everything in the house is manual, and when given a fax machine for Christmas, both the farmer and his wife look at it as if they had been given a spacecraft.

Please watch it, it is just lovely!


VERDICT - THAT'LL DO PIG

Withnail and I



Set in the 60s, Paul McGann's character (known only as 'I') lives with Withnail (Richard E Grant) in a rundown, disgusting hovel of a flat. Both unemployed, unemployable actors, they realise that the 'things' in their sink are more alive than themselves, and so must have a holiday. Withnail's old uncle Monty (Richard Griffiths) has a cottage in the country, and so they steal a key and head there. Only when they arrive does it become very obvious that they are not meant for a country life.

Rumoured to be a horrible shoot, where most of the crew became ill, the film could have fallen on its arse, but because of the strength of the performances, their ability to improvise, and the friendships built from none of them being 'divas', the film succeeded where so many similar films failed.

It is well worth a watch, but don't expect any lucid plot points.


VERDICT - I DEMAND TO HAVE SOME BOOZE!

Evil Dead 2

The first thing I should point out is that this film is not a sequel to Evil Dead, it is actually a remake, made 6 years after the original, by the same people. The first film was made with barely any budget, by a group of friends who didn't really know what they were doing, but it showed a lot of promise.

Enough promise, in fact, that they were given a budget of over 100 times the amount of the original, and told to make it for a mainstream market. What resulted was a disgusting, gory, hilarious, frightening, enjoyable film, Evil Dead 2.



Ash (Bruce Campbell) and his girlfriend Linda (Denise Bixler) arrive at an abandoned cabin for a romantic weekend away. Unfortunatly his girlfriend is promptly attacked by an unknown evil. She comes back to life as an undead creature, and attempts to kill him. She is finally defeated, but Ash is sucked through a time portal, landing in the middle ages, which is where Evil Dead 3 takes over from.

Although they had a much larger budget than the first film, it was still smaller than most films, and so there are little, charming moments where mistakes are made, that you forgive the film, very much like being able to see the strings in Thunderbirds.

It is a great thing to see. A director getting a chance to improve on his already good film, and make it great. I am sure if they were offered it now, they would find a way to mess it up, but Raimi, who was still very new to the business only improved it.


VERDICT - GROOOOVY!

Wayne's World

Party time, excellent!

It's not big, it's not clever, but it's funny. It's 'Wayne's World'.



Based on a 'Saturday Night Live' sketch from the early 90s, this film takes a satirical look at the rocker 'duuuude' culture of the time.

It's nice to look back on it really. In today's society the equivalent of these people are chavs. With this knowledge, isn't it lovely to reminisce about the rockers who got drunk in their own basements, and occasionally hung out in donut shops, compared to violent little hoodies with their flick knives listening to people shouting about their "bitches and chizzang in da hood and ting...fo shizzle"

Wayne and Garth are two friends who present a local TV show in their basement. In their spare time, they go to rock gigs, where Wayne meets Cassandra, the girl of his dreams. She is offered a record deal by Wayne's show's new producer, who wants to steal Cassandra. The 'dudes' win in the end, and all is well!

Again, this is another one of those films where the story isn't hugely important.

The comedy is still fresh 18 years after the film's release, and I recommend it to anyone looking like a simple, entertaining movie.


VERDICT - PARTY TIME, EXCELLENT!

Lion King

Just watch this first, please.



Anyone else gone all tingly?

That's what the film does to you. The music, the story, the beautiful animation. It's perfect. It feels more 'Disney' than any other film.

In 1994, when 'Lion King' was released, Disney films reached a new high, that took over a decade to be beaten.



I shan't bother too much with the plot, as you must all know it. Simba the lion cub thinks he has caused his father's death, although it was actually his evil uncle Scar. Simba runs away from home, meets Timon and Pumbaa, he returns home to find it in ruins because Scar has forced the lions to hunt for the hyenas. Simba proves his father's death was Scar's fault, death ensues and all is well again.

People don't love the film for the story though, we love it because of the music, incredible songs like 'Circle Of Life', 'I Just Can't Wait To Be King', and who can forget singing along to 'Hakuna Matata' when they were younger?

Timon and Pumbaa. I don't care if it's a children's film, they are hilarious. The comic timing they have is impeccible. There are plenty of jokes 'just for the mums and dads', and their Hula in drag has me in fits every time I see it.

There are so many reasons this film is the best selling movie of all time, with over 60 million copies sold on VHS and DVD to date.


VERDICT - IN THE JUNGLE, THE MIGHTY JUNGLE, THE LION SLEEPS TONIGHT....AH-WEEEEEEEE!

The Birdcage

In 1973, a French play opened, by Jean Poiret, about a group of drag queens saving the marriage of a young couple from the girl's uptight conservative parents. It was called 'Le Cage aux Folles', and in 1996, director Mike Nichols made a English speaking version called 'The Birdcage'.



Starring Robin Williams, Nathan Lane, and Gene Hackman, the story has been slightly changed. Williams and Lane star as a gay couple who own a very popular drag club in California, who have brought up Williams' character's (Armand) son from a failed straight relationship as their own. The son, Val, has gone to college and met a girl, Barbara, and got engaged.

Barbara's father is a far-right republican senator, and founder of the 'Coalition of Moral Order', who hates just about everyone except white, straight, male conservatives, and so cannot know about Val's 'parents'. Unfortunately, the two young lovers have already arranged for their parents to meet, and so so Armand and Albert must change their house, their style, their life, their names, and in Albert's case, his gender, to keep Barbara's family happy.

The film is, quite refreshingly in an age of emotional dramas, a true farce. There are people coming in through doors, looking shocked and leaving, people falling down, wigs slipping, running around the house, while the 'straight guys' (in every sense of the word) sit looking slightly confused but completely unaware of the insanity developing just a few feet from them.

The film received very mixed reviews. The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) praised the film for "going beyond the stereotypes to see the character's depth and humanity. The film celebrates differences and points out the outrageousness of hiding those differences.", while other gay groups found it too simplified.

I think what people seem to forget is that in the modern world, homosexuality should be so accepted, that jokes can be made about it without them being offensive. The film shows straight people as being uptight, and conservative, but can also laugh at gay men for sometimes being slightly over-dramatic. It is not neccessarily a stereotype. I am friends with several straight men, and can confirm that plenty of them act fairly 'theatrically'!

The film says that every gender, sexuality, and political leaning are ripe for parody, and doesn't feel the need to protect one minority as though they can't protect themselves.


VERDICT - WORTH WATCHING JUST FOR HANK AZARIA FALLING DOWN

And so, it begins.....

Enjoy!

Friday, 13 March 2009

Clerks

In 1994, a student, working in a convenience store, called Kevin Smith, made a movie. It cost $27,000 to make, which he raised by selling his comic book collection, borrowing $3000 from his parents, and maxing out his credit cards.

This film was Clerks, which went on to make $3 million in the cinema, and more than double that in VHS and DVD sales.



I am a real fan of this film, and these kind of films, where not much happens, and so everything depends on the strength of the story, and the jokes. Of course with this film it was not a choice to have very little happen, money just would not allow. But that seemes to help. Where it would have been so easy to fall down, the film stood strong.

Kevin Smith worked so hard on his script. The average script length is between 70 and 90 pages. The 'Clerks' first draft was over 170 pages.

The film relies very heavily on its dialogue, which luckily, is VERY sharp.

I know there are many people out there who watch a film or tv show and think "Wow, it's like this was made for me! It has references to all my favourite stuff, jokes that really match my sense of humour, and characters I can relate to", but I really feel this way about this film. The retro references are all spot on, the comedy is so biting, and the satire could be cut with a big political spoon.

In short, this film is the antidote to all these huge blockbusters with lots of explosions but not much else. As long as you don't mind bad language (F-word appears 91 times) then please watch this film. It means a lot to me.


VERDICT - PROOF YOU DON'T NEED A BIG BUDGET TO MAKE A GREAT FILM

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Flash Gordon

FLASH! AH-AAAAHHH!



This takes me back.

I saw this film when I was around 8 or 9 years old, and every time I see it, I feel about that age again.

I once had to explain it to somebody who hadn't heard of it, which was no small request. I think the answer I gave was somewhere along the lines of "the best peice of rubbish you will ever see". It's like if someone made "Carry On Star Wars"!

The story (not that there is much point to it) is that in the depths of space, Ming The Merciless decides to destroy Earth, just because he is bored. A fairly insane scientist called Hans Zarkov is the only one who realises this, and flies in his rocket, accompanied by an American football player, Flash Gordon, and Dale Arden, Flash's travel agent(?) to the planet Mongo, eventually leading a rebellion against Ming, thus saving the Earth.

Yeah, you're right, it's rubbish. But if you complain about it, you are missing the point entirely.


Here are some reasons that the film is 'craply fantastic':

*It has Brian 'If its worth saying, its worth shouting' Blessed in it.

*It has Timothy Dalton in it, who I think was the best Bond.

*Practically every 'alien' is played by a dancing midget.

*It has the line "Flash, I love you, but we only have 14 hours to save the Earth" in it.

*Queen do ALL the music in the film.


Now tell me that doesn't sound like a great bit of silly entertainment.


VERDICT - FLASH, AH-AAAHHH, HE'S A MIRACLE!

A finalised list of the '24 hour review marathon' movies

As you all know, starting on saturday at Midday, for 24 hours, I am going to reviewing movies solidly.

Thank-you all for your suggestions, I have taken several of them onboard, as well as ones that have been suggested to me personally.

Below, are the list of films, the times of which add up to 24 hours and 1 minute!


-Birdcage

-Lion King

-Wayne's World

-Evil Dead 2

-Withnail and I

-Babe

-Mallrats

-Ghostbusters

-O Brother Where Art Thou?

-Mystery Men

-Maybe Baby

-Iron Man

-Breakfast Club

-Die Hard


I hope you all agree I have chosen a varied selection of films, and you all enjoy the marathon!

Stephen King's IT

Other than 'The Shining', film adaptations of Stephen King novels often aren't very successful. It's fairly ironic that the second most successful film adaptation isn't a film at all, but instead is two television programmes pushed together, and is simply intitled 'It'.



In 'It', children in the small Maine town of Derry are being killed in mysterious, bloody, gory ways. Parents are scared to let their children outside, and are right to be scared. There is a 200 year old killer clown on the loose!

It is, of course, not a clown, but what turns out to be an evil monster who can take on the form of anything it wants. 'It' is usually seen a clown, as kids are attracted to it, before changing into whatever the child is most scared of, making the child too scared to move, so 'It' can devour their souls.

This happens every 30 years when the creature needs to feed, and when a group of friends hear that the same thing is happening from when they were children, they return to the town in the hope of destroying 'It' for good.

What is very hard to describe is the way the film is presented. Anyone who has read the book knows it is absolutely terrifying. I read it as a teenager and didn't sleep properly for weeks. There were times I actually had to put the book down because I was too scared. The film does NOT deliver this at all. Some bits of it are a little creepy, or gory, but nothing in the film scares you, but that's OK, because it is not meant to.

The makers of the film decided to change it from a horror to a drama, and you know what?

It works.

So what we have here is a drama about a killer clown, that is witty, romantic, fun to watch, and just sometimes a little bit creepy.

It's not amazing, but it is a personal favourite, just for the fact that small unimportant bits of the story have been left in by the film makers, just because they loved King as much as I do.


VERDICT - NOT ONE FOR PEOPLE WITH COULROPHOBIA!

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

The Goonies

After receiving a complaint that I only review the movies that are getting the most publicity, despite disagreeing, decided to change this view.

Today I am reviewing the 1985 cult classic, 'The Goonies'.



I remember watching this film as a child, and loving it. It tells the story of a group of children who find a treasure map, and go in search of the pirate booty, in the hope of using it to save their town, which is being bought to turn into a golf course.

What I didn't realise it that the version I had as a child, recorded onto VHS from the television, was a highly edited one, and that the original REALLY isn't for children!

In the original, the word 'shit' is used 19 times, scenes of more graphic violence were included, including extra details of the bullet wounds in a dead body the kids find in a freezer.

This film really is the definition of a cult film. Originally made for teenagers, it has a large adult following, people who love it now for looking back on the 1980s. People go and see special midnight screenings of it, special editions of it have been released, retro t-shirts are available online. It has a fanbase, and not many films nowadays can say they have that.

I think if this film was released now, it would do terribly, but in 1985, with the power of Stephen Spielberg behind it, who even gave his own money to help fund the production, it was (without wanting to sound clichéd) a truly surprise smash, and that shows, 23 years later, when people like me look back fondly on seeing it for the first time, and digging out the old VHS to watch as well as the 'Limited Edition Special 20th Anniversary DVD', just because the VHS holds more pleasant memories than the DVD ever could.


VERDICT - IF YOU HAVEN'T SEE IT, PLEASE DO. IT MAKES YOU FEEL LIKE AN ADVENTUROUS KID AGAIN.

Monday, 9 March 2009

INTERACTIVITY!

As you all know, this weekend I am taking part in a special 24 hour blogging session. I will be reviewing films constantly over the space of 24 hours, to see if I have it in me to do so!

I need your help. An average film runs somewhere between 1 and a half, and 2 and a half hours, and so I need at least 10, more likely around 15 films to review, and I am turning to you, the reader, to supply me with a list.

Please post a comment telling me what film you want reviewed, why, and who you are, so I can dedicate it to you.

Thanks guys and gals!

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Watchmen

Me and the missus have just got in from the cinema (after stopping on the way home for a healthy take-away burger), and I have to say, we both thoroughly enjoyed 'Watchmen'.



We did, however, differ on our introduction to it. I read the graphic novel almost a decade ago, and have lived in hope of a film there has been rumours of since the story's conception in 1986. My other half was introduced to it within the last few months as I refused to shut up about the film's upcoming release.

So, I have decided to give you two people's reviews of the film, as some of you may find a critique from a newcomer to the story more helpful than mine. I will review, obviously as Elementary Penguin, while my other half takes the guise of Semolina Pilchard.


ELEMENTARY PENGUIN


Alan Moore is a dark man.

In 1986, he dreamt up an alternative reality to our world, in which Richard Nixon had stayed in power, losing control of the Cold War, leaving the Earth on the edge of total distruction. But we can turn to our superheroes, can't we?

No.

The heroes have given up, when the general public violently protested against them, even killing some in the process. Some have become businessmen, some work for the government, and some seem to do nothing at all. Only Rorschach continues to patrol the streets, dealing out his special, ultra-violent 'justice'.

When The Comedian, an incredibly unpopular ex-superhero, is found murdered, Rorschach starts investigating whether an unknown attacker is bumping off 'the masked', dragging (sometimes unwillingly) his past team-members back into the dangerous career of crime-fighting.

The graphic novel has, on so many occasionals, been referred to as 'unfilmable', and until recently, I would have agreed. The story jumps 30 years into the past, then into the future, back to the present, without so much as a 'wobbly screen' flashback warning.

How wrong I was. The film acheives this perfectly. It remains true to the book, while feeling modern, despite being set 23 years in the past. The action is spot-on, the violence is graphic without being gratuitous, and the silk spectre has a very nice bottom.

It's better than any of us fans were ever expecting.



SEMOLINA PILCHARD

I have never read the 'Watchmen' graphic novel and to be quite frank up until a few months ago I had no interest in seeing this film, but after persistent requests to go and see it I was coaxed into doing so. I have watched most of these films which could be classified as 'superhero movies' (although I turned down seeing the Incredible Hulk with Eric Bana) and this is quite different.

'Watchmen' has the atmosphere of '300' and 'Sin City' (by the same director) but doesn't smack of the same stereotypical superhero movie where the world is saved by a caped crusader and all is well in the end. This film is dark. The characters in this film are unconventional superheroes, most of which have no special powers except from brute strength and sociopathic tendencies.

It's a good film in my opinion, but definitely not one I would show to young children. It is dark, adult and the polar opposite of films such as 'Spider-man' and 'Iron Man'.

'Watchmen' in my personal opinion is one of the best superhero movies to date combining pragmatic application of justice with some awesome action sequences and a hell of a lot of nudity!



VERDICT - WHETHER YOU ARE A FAN OR NOT, YOU WILL LOVE IT, AS LONG AS YOU'RE NOT TOO SQUEAMISH.

Friday, 6 March 2009

The road to 'Watchmen'

I am a nerd, of epic proportions.

Specifically, I am a nerd for dark graphic novels, sci-fi films, and rock music.

The upcoming 'Watchmen' film, 23 years in the making, is set to rock my world!



In 1986, Alan Moore wrote 'Watchmen', released as a 12-issue limited series comic book, which was later released as a single graphic novel. It instantly received rave reviews, hailed as the greatest graphic novel of all time, even being included on Time magazine's 100 top novels of all time.

Its popularity seemed to stem from its unusually dark premise, full of death and destruction. The superheroes can't fly or climb walls, they are just members of the public who want to change the world for the better, but it doesn't always work that way. Pages filled with blood, nuclear bombs, and excessive violence towards innocents shocked and intrigued people used to the camp bright coloured antics of Superman and the like.

I will be seeing the film Sunday evening, and the review will be up later that night. Until then, here is an awesome wallpaper (click it for a larger image), if you are a fan, and looking forward to it as much as I am!


Thursday, 5 March 2009

An apology, and an announcement.

I know, I am sorry. The blog is called 'Film Review A Day', and it's been ages.
Thanks to Virgin, my net has been on the blink, on and off, since I moved in in September, and it has finally given up the good fight, and gone to the Broadband provider in the sky.

Wireless was installed, and promptly joined the Virgin broadband in 'shit products heaven', before being dragged kicking and screaming to the real world, refusing to reach as far as my room, meaning I am having to work from the kitchen as I speak/type!

But wait, there is more.



Both because I think it's a great idea, and because I am very tired, and the internet is still not properly fixed, I will not be making up for the missed posts.
Instead, I will be continuing with one review a day, until next Saturday, the 14th, when between Midday then, and Midday on Sunday, I will be reviewing CONSTANTLY.

That's right, constantly. I will be watching a film, reviewing it as it plays, publishing the post, and instantly starting another film, for 24 hours. That should work out as somewhere between 12 and 16 reviews, in one day!

ALL I ASK IS FOR ANYONE WHO ENJOYS MY BLOG, TO SPREAD THE WORD. Send the link to friends, set it as your Facebook or MSN status, email people, because this will be a real experiment, and hopefully, something very special.

The countdown starts.....now.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Oh bugger...again

My net is, yet again, screwed more than Madonna was during the 80s, and so again I must apologise for a lack of reviews.
As soon as the problem is sorted, I will sit down on one of my less busy days, and fit as many reviews on as I can in 24 hours!

Thanks for reading.

Monday, 2 March 2009

"My blog is better than yours"

As I mentioned in my Oscar night blog, I have received a surprising amount of flak caused by blogging. I talked to my tutor, who is marking me for this blog (and who may I just add is an amazing tutor, and an all-round good person) and she suggested I actually wrote about the 'attack', since it is pretty bloody amusing.

Below, I lay out just a few tastes of his incredibly intelligent, lucid, not-at-all-ridiculous argument, based entirely around the fact that I said he was wrong for claiming women are only here to make men happy.

"What are you afraid of you chicken? Oh I know what - me. I don't judge you though! You do know I'm a better blogger than you and that's why you hind behind other people's blogs"

At this point, I would like to bring it to everyone's attention that out of his 12 followers, at least 4 of them are fake. That's right, all around the same time, 4 followers started accounts, and followed only him. They have no profile or contact information, and have done nothing. He started them himself.

"You see, I don't mind the criticism as long as it is a factual opinion and not that non-sense you keep writing about. And for your information, if it comes to blogging, I've got more readers, commenters, and profile views than you have. Does that tell you anything? If your little and unsocial twisted mind can't figure that out, I'll do it for you, MY BLOG IS MUCH BETTER THAN YOURS... And people like my blog, that's why they've actually made real comments on it."

As I have already said, a lot of his followers are people invented by him. What I didn't mention is that the majority of his comments are from the fake people. There are two comments from people that aren't him or me, and he has deleted one of them, because he didn't agree with what was said.

My favourite moment came from me saying I think he is so defensive because he is insecure.

"saying that my blog is better than your isn't a sign of insecurity, it's a fact. MY BLOG IS BETTER THAN YOURS..."

Isn't that exactly the sort of thing a VERY insecure person would say?

What makes me laugh the most is the 'friends' he speaks about, that support him. I can only assume he means the invisible friends he has invented who comment his posts, because everyone I have talked to that know him, have said things starting at "He does seem very insecure about someone being better than him at something" to "What a prick".


Anyway, that's my rant over, now I can get back to film reviews, on my site, which has a good few hundred more views than him....all done now.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Hellboy

Hello you beautiful people! As I have already mentioned, I lost access to the internet over the weekend, so apologies to anyone bothered by the lack of reviews, although if you were, you need to get out more. Today I am reviewing 'Hellboy', then will be reviewing two, count them, TWO films tomorrow!

So, Hellboy.



I know a lot of the people who read this are into sci-fi and comic books, so they might be a little bit disappointed by this review.

It's OK.

That's it really. It's nothing special, but it certainly isn't bad. The only good thing I can say about it is that it is fairly true to the original graphic novel. It's just a shame I never really enjoyed that either.

This is one of those films that, for me, fit into the unusual category of films I am fully aware is good, but I don't enjoy. I feel like this about some of what is considered the greatest films of all time. The Godfather, Se7en, Ben Hur, all sorts. I know they are good, but I just don't enjoy them.

Sorry!


VERDICT - WORTH A GO, YOU MIGHT LIKE IT!

Oh bugger...


Sorry folks! My net has been down for a couple of days, so I haven't been able to get any reviews up yesterday or today. Give it a couple of hours, I am reviewing Hellboy as we speak, and then I will do two tomorrow.
Ooh, I do spoil you!

Friday, 27 February 2009

Sunshine

HEY MR. BLUE SKY!

Danny Boyle is all over the news right now. He recently made a fairly low-budget film about the Indian version of 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?' set around shanty towns and gangsters. It was called 'Slumdog Millionaire', and just a few days ago, did very well.

Boyle is also well-known for directing 'Trainspotting', but a film that seems to have been roundly forgotten about, despite receiving very good ratings, was 'Sunshine'.



Set 50 years in the future, the Sun is dying, and a group of astronauts and scientists are taking a specially designed bomb to reignite it, after the first team failed in mysterious circumstances, 7 years previously. All is going well until a slight miscalculation puts the whole mission in jeopardy, and some very important decisions have to be made...

The film is good in that it shows a realistic view of a crew in trouble. There are a few heroics, but a lot of crew members just lose it, go insane, become suicidal, and want to protect their own hides instead of focusing on the greater good.

Unfortunatly, in my eyes at least, the good is far outweighed by the bad, strange, and the downright confusing. Shots are over-edited, and cut together like a music video from the late 80s, switching to a diagonal shot, an epiliptic fit-inducing jumble of frames referring to flashbacks, flashforwards, and apparantly images that didn't appear in the film at all.

I am not a genius, but I like to think I am fairly intelligent, and have a good attention to detail, but I could not follow this film. I wish I could tell you more about the later part of the film, but I can't! I watched it twice and still know nothing of what happened past an hour in!


VERDICT - MY BRAIN HURTS

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Futurama - Into The Wild Green Yonder

In 1999, Matt Groening, creator of 'The Simpsons', had a new show start on the Fox network in America, that series was 'Futurama'. It ran for 72 episodes, and despite receiving huge critical success and a huge fanbase, it was cancelled in August 2003.
In 2007, after four years of fans begging for a reunion, the team got back together in for a straight-to-dvd feature film, 'Bender's Big Score. This was followed by three more, 'The Beast With A Billion Backs', 'Bender's Game', and the film I am reviewing today, 'Into The Wild Green Yonder'



As much as I love the original series, I have to admit, the films have been a let-down. The writers seem to have struggled dragging a 25 minute episode out to an hour and a half film. The viewer can also tell that as it is a film, Groening's team have thought that the stories must be more epic than the episodes where nothing exciting had to happen to be entertaining. Luckily, for this film, they seem to have resolved that.

The script obviously had a lot more work done on it than the three before combined, as this film really does have an epic story, in which the entire universe must be saved by Fry (Billy West), and finally wins the heart of Leela (Katey Segal), with plenty of subplots and genuinely funny jokes for a change.

Don't get me wrong, in my eyes, nothing is going to surpass the original television series, but this final film definitely comes close, and before anyone asks, yes, it does leave the story open for a new season!


VERDICT - GREAT, BUT NOT AS GREAT AS THE TV SHOW

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Anchorman

YOU STAY CLASSY, READERS.

While reviewing 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off' yesterday, I was trying to think of today's equivelant of the aforementioned 'intelligently stupid comedy' of the 1980s.
I suppose the closest thing we have now are the Judd Apatow comedy films. These include 'Knocked Up', 'Superbad', '40 Year Old Virgin' and, of course 'Anchorman'.



The story is almost unimportant, but here is a brief outline. Set in the 70s, Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) is the anchorman of an all-male news team in San Diego, and how they deal with the introduction of a female co-anchor.

The important part of the film is the comedy. There are a lot of in-jokes that often pop up in other Apatow films, references to obscure songs, childish comments made during arguments, and many closely choreographed moments injected in amongst what would seem to be normal reality.

I like to think I am fairly intelligent, and enjoy mental stimulation from films, but I love a stupid film too, as long as it is well thought out. A lot of planning, and scripting, went into making this film seem silly and improvised. I also think what really comes through is how much fun the entire cast and crew had working together to bring this film to life.

VERDICT - ALMOST AS GOOD AS THREE FINGERS OF GLENLIVET SCOTCH AND SOME CHEESE

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Ferris Bueller's Day Off

BUELLER...? BUELLER...? BUELLER...?

I have reviewed some terrible films, some intelligent films, and some very heavy-going films. Now I have a chance to review a type of film that was very popular in the 1980s - the intelligently stupid comedy. Possibly the greatest of which is 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off'.



The film inspired so many teenagers, perhaps not in a very productive way, but it spoke to people.

In the film, we see Matt Broderick playing Ferris, a typical school-hating teenager with ideas somewhat above his station. He decides that on as beautiful a day as the one in the film, school is the last place one should be. Convincing his best friend to help him, and getting his girlfriend out of school by telling the principal that his girlfriend's grandmother has died, they go on an adventure...as long as they are home by 6pm.

The genius of this film is that it doesn't try to be genius. It doesn't try to have some deep meaning like every films seems to have to have, it just shows us exactly what we have always wanted.

As a species, we hate work, and love reasons not to go, and Ferris takes it further than we ever have done. He has the most amazing day one could imagine.
In a day, Ferris -

+ Goes for a very expensive meal, and manages to get it for free.

+ Goes to a baseball game and catches the winning ball.

+ Sings and dances on a parade float, causing the entire city to break into dance.

+ Drives a very rare Ferrari around all day, but unfortunately launches it out of a window, falling around 100ft to the ground.

He is allowed to live a life that others can only dream about, and because it is impossible to hate him, the audience immediately connects with him. We see ourselves having the nerves to do what he does, and it makes us happy.

Ferris is inside all of us, and we need to let him out.


VERDICT - A TRUE 80s GREAT

Monday, 23 February 2009

Oscars R Us

Well, the Oscars have just finished, and what can I say? I am ecstatic. Slumdog Millionaire won 8 awards, and deserved every single one.



I have to admit, and hope I do not get in trouble for this, I watched a live stream of it on the internet, due to not having a tv, and what really upset me was that during the night, messages of racial hatred appeared all over the message board, culminating in someone referring to it as 'Scumdog Millionpaki' (very witty, you idiots), causing the entire messageboard to be closed.

The same thing happened when Sean Penn won best actor for playing gay politician Harvey Milk. The words 'homo' and 'faggot' were being thrown around as if they were completely acceptable.

It upsets me that these films are made, costing millions of pounds, to show people that we are all equal, and some people just will never get the message.
I will not condone it, but I can partially understand if it came from an older person, as in their youth, being gay was seen as an illness, and people of different ethnicities all had nicknames, but it's the 21st Century now, surely our generation should not have these problems any more.

Right now, I am being physically threatened by a classmate because I pointed out his flaws in the argument that a woman's role in a relationship is to keep the man happy. Are these ridiculous views so deeply ingrained in people's minds that they are willing to physically attack me in an attempt to prove it? I don't suppose he would ever see the irony in that him thinking that about women has led to most of the girls in my university disliking him, while I get on with women very well, and am approaching my second anniversary with my girlfriend.

I would love to know if an opinion has ever been beaten into anyone, but I doubt it. Isn't it a huge coincidence that people with more liberal, balanced opinions tend not to be violent closed-minded idiots?

Friday, 20 February 2009

Our LOTR conversations

ELEMENTARY PENGUIN “There was just way too much focus on the battles and the 'epic' side of it, when the books focus on the smaller people, and their lives”

KABUKI ELVIS “In the books, the main focus was on the character interactions, I will give you that”

EP “And the last film specifically was so focused on the battles, I almost missed the bit where they get rid of the ring”

KE “Yeah, the last one definitely went overboard with the battle. But the average cinema-goer, not necessarily someone who read the books, would have felt short-changed were there not a huge battle to end it.”



KE “The films aren't meant to replace the books, they are not a successor, they are one person's interpretation of it. The existence of the films does not render the books worthless.”

EP “I totally agree, I just think that the films are an awful interpretation. Believe me, if I thought they were a replacement, I would be twice as against them as I already am.”



KE “I think the problem some people have had with it, a problem with all adaptations, is that when you read the book, it's all about your imagination, which makes the experience very personal. In films, the director's interpretation becomes the definitive, and if this isn't your interpretation, then, of course, you are likely to be drawn in less”

EP “Yes, this is exactly what I meant, I like my imagination creating my own view of the world, and these films ruined that”

LOTR : Return Of The King



ELEMENTARY PENGUIN

Oh good God, LOTR fans are not going to like me. This is the film that won eleven Oscars®, including Best Picture. Guess what? I couldn't bloody stand it! Every piece of narrative seems to have been replaced with a slow motion shot of an Orc being skewered.
I felt like Peter Jackson had gone into my imagination, looked at how I imagined the story, then pissed on it, and told me it was going to be an action film instead. This isn't Lord Of The Rings, it's Rambo with magic!

That's how I would sum up the whole trilogy really. LOTR is a fantasy, and Jackson stopped it being so, and for that, I am very angry at him.


KABUKI ELVIS

While I did enjoy the film, I can't help but feel the focus of the narrative was in the wrong place. In my opinion, the real story of the third book was in the relationship between Frodo and Sam with Sam being the real hero of the trilogy.
While the special effects that went into creating the epic battle that comprises most of the film are technically impressive, they do not make the film. While the book does contain in-depth descriptions of the on-going battle, the real details are in the characterisation, something the film misses out on.

Overall, I did enjoy the films, and still watch them every so often, as well as re-reading the books, which is my preference.


VERDICT - WAY TOO BUSY

LOTR : The Two Towers



ELEMENTARY PENGUIN

The second film in a trilogy usually proves to be the weakest. I adore Back To The Future, and even I find part two a bit dull.
'The Two Towers' definitely suffers this fate, especially in a trilogy about some dwarves walking to a mountain, you don't see the start of the journey, or the end. There is a feeling of complete non-achievement.
I could not believe how bored I was by this film. How anyone can watch the extended edition and enjoy it is beyond me.


KABUKI ELVIS

I agree with EP on this, that in a trilogy, the second film tends to be purely expositional, and so often prove to be the weakest of the three.
I still enjoyed the film, although not as much as the other ones because although the character interactions weren't as present as they were in the book, there was still enough to hold the story together.
I did feel the film was over-long, however, saying this can be a double-edged sword, since if you cut certain scenes, many fans would complain.


VERDICT - ALL WALKING, NOT GETTING ANYWHERE

LOTR : Fellowship Of The Ring



ELEMENTARY PENGUIN

As I said yesterday, I do not like the trilogy, but if I had to chose the best one, I would probably say this one. As the first film, a lot of it focuses on the set-up, the introduction to the characters and what to expect, and I like that, it's what the book did. It's probably the most loyal to the books of all the films, something I have made perfectly clear I like to see.


KABUKI ELVIS

As a fan of the books, I was apprehensive about the films, as I am with any adaptation from a novel.
Overall though, I enjoyed it, maybe because some of the aspects of the book appeared in the film in the exact way I had seen them in my imagination, and it felt amazing to see them presented in front of me in much more of an (unsurprisingly) cinematic way. I definitely think that this film is the most loyal to the book.


VERDICT - BEST OF A BAD BUNCH

Bloody hell!


Is it really 4.30am?! Me and Kabuki Elvis have been talking about 'Lord Of The Rings' for 9 hours! That's as long as the films!
It's bedtime, sorry folks. We have a LOT of material, but I am far too tired to sift through, type up, edit and post it tonight. I will do it as soon as I wake up, so if you are lucky, and behave yourselves, then you just might get two posts.

Sweet dreams my darlings.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Going for the big score

What is the most successful movie of the last few years?

What movie has won the most Oscars® recently?

OK, let me ask it this way. What trilogy of movies, mainly filmed in New Zealand, sitting at around a day in length if watched back to back, have been inexplicably popular, despite being painfully dull?


I don't know if it's a specific personality trait, but if anything, not just films, becomes very popular, I tend to automatically dislike it, or at the very least become very wary of it.
Having read, and genuinely enjoyed, the books while younger, my nervousness of being disappointed was off the scale, and sadly, I was correct to be nervous.
I cannot put into words how disappointed I was by these three dull, over-long, non-involving, pretentious poor excuses for films. It really did upset me, and anger me.

So, the review. When I decided to do this, I realised there was no way I could discuss the films, without being biased. There are three of them, they are very long, and I don't like them. Instead, today I am going to give you some links to 'LOTR' reviews by critics who I personally enjoy and respect. In the coming three days, me and another reviewer, Kabuki Elvis, will be discussing each film in depth, and publishing two short reviews, as well as some of our more coherent, intelligent arguments for and against the films.



'LOTR : Fellowship Of The Ring' reviews

Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle


'LOTR : The Two Towers' reviews

Philip French, The Guardian

Dan Jardine, Apollo Movie Guide


'LOTR : Return Of The King' reviews

James Berardinelli, Reelviews

Claudia Puig, USA Today

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Spirited Away

A TASTE OF THE ORIENT

Since I haven't done a review of an animated film yet, I thought I would start the ball rolling with easily one of the greatest animated films of all time, 'Spirited Away'.



Young Chihiro and her parents are driving to their new home when her father takes a shortcut through the woods. They find a deserted town that her father thinks is a theme park. Her parents sit down to eat the food there, while Chihiro wanders away to a giant bathhouse. She meets a mysterious boy called Haku who warns her to leave before nightfall, but she is too late and sees her parents get transformed into pigs. Haku tells Chihiro that she is now in the realm of the spirits and that her parents have eaten spirit food. She is hunted because she is a human and does not belong in the spirit world. Chihiro’s only hope is to go and see the scary witch Yubaba who runs the bathhouse and ask for a job. In return for giving her a job, Yubaba takes Chihiro’s name from her and calls her Sen. Sen is put to work cleaning where she is given the worst tasks. There she faces a stink spirit who is threatening to pollute the bathhouse and accidentally lets in a lonely monster that starts trying to eat everybody and everything. After Haku is fatally wounded while in dragon form, Sen must undergo a difficult journey to save him by returning a seal stolen from Yubaba’s twin sister Zeniba.

What is special about this film is how no person is portrayed as a simple villain. In fact, there are no villains. Just people going about their lives. It is the situation that creates the conflict, a very mature message to appear in what is essentially a children's film.

This is a film that is obviously not knocked off the assembly line like so many kids' films at the moment. The animation is creative and complex. It is a rare film where a great story comes together with superior production values, and one where people of many ages and cultural backgrounds can appreciate.

Spirited Away is an exquisite and extraordinary film from an animator who has no equal. There’s a simplicity of story at the heart of it, one where Chihiro’s child-like innocence and non-judgmentalness is seen as having a purity and truth up against everyone else who is blinded by greed or stupidity. The imagination of Hayao Miyazaki’s world, the detail it comes in and the quiet power of Spirited Away is stunning. Occasionally toward the end, the film seems a little hurried. Haku suddenly realizes his true name, the twin sister who put a curse on him is quickly revealed to be a good witch and Chihiro’s final test is passed with amazing ease, but Spirited Away has genuine beauty. It should be seen by everybody.


VERDICT - MAKES DISNEY LOOK DULL

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

The Dark Knight

SOMETHING A LITTLE MORE UP-TO-DATE

I has been pointed out to me that I often choose the more obscure, older, cult films to review, and since right now, the polls are saying you guys and gals want more reviews of new films, I thought I would choose one of the best film of the past year, 'The Dark Knight'.



There was a time when people thought it was crazy to try and have someone else take on the role of the Joker because no one could possibly fill Jack Nicholson's shoes. But after you see The Dark Knight you won't be able to think of anyone else besides Heath Ledger. Now Nicholson's Joker looks like a naughty clown while Ledger's Joker is downright nasty and disturbed (yet still oddly loveable). Ledger's maniacal performance as the psycho giving both cops and crooks nightmares is so riveting that it makes you sad for all the roles he'll never have a chance to tackle after he died at the beginning of last year just after finishing production on The Dark Knight.

Picking up essentially where Batman Begins left off, we find Gotham is marginally better off but still struggling with corruption and crime. Lt. James Gordon (Gary Oldman) is supposed to arrest the vigilante Batman (Christian Bale) on sight but instead he's been partnering with the Caped Crusader to try and capture a group of mobsters. It's difficult to determine who to trust but the new D.A. Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) is looking like the hero Gotham needs. Although Bruce Wayne is a little suspicious of Dent's intentions with Rachel (Maggie Gyllenhaal), Bruce's former love. But throwing everything into chaos and panic is the arrival of The Joker. He feels no loyalty to the other criminals in the city and seems solely interested in destroying all he can.

The Dark Knight is a very long way from the camp cheesy Batman of the 60s TV show with Adam West. Nolan continues the darkening tone that began with Tim Burton and Michael Keaton. Nolan and Bale take a sombre approach to their material to deliver a sleek, dark Batman for the new millennium. Nolan delivers a B-movie dressed up very elegantly as a respectable Hollywood drama - just one with kick ass action and a leading man in a cape. Confusing what it means to be a hero is at the heart of this film, and Alfred (Michael Caine) is constantly reminding us of the weighty choices Wayne has to make.

My only reservations are with the ending. Of course they want to set it up for the sequel, which has now been announced, and will contain the Riddler as the villain, but it just petered off into nothing. There were just a few too many loose ends for my liking.


VERDICT - IT'S AN ACTION FILM, BUT NOT AS WE KNOW IT...