Review: Vacancy

Vacancy

This movie was probably designed to be a wonderful mix of Psycho, Peeping Tom, Wolf Creek and Breakdown but it fails to come anywhere close to any of its’ antecedents. It’s not even the bastard child of those movies it’s the runt of the litter of bastard children.

Don’t bother with this one I found it to be only mildly disturbing and though it’s just 80 minutes long it barely held my interest. It was a very pedestrian example of the genre and they seemed to waste a number of opportunities for shocks along the way.

Review: Taking Liberties

Taking Liberties

Most important UK documentary of the decade? Perhaps. Whilst it is not as well made as the Adam Curtis documentary The Power of Nightmares it is very powerful and has a hell of an impact. I only wish more people would see it, but I have a feeling that it will only end up preaching to the converted as those in the know are the only ones that will go to see it.

However if it inspires anyone and moves them to action then perhaps it be said to have succeeded. It made me rethink my decision no to join the march against the War in Iraq, I knew at the time that the government was committed to war and would not be swayed in that by any number of marchers but perhaps I should have stood up to be counted amongst those opposed.

Review: Zodiac

Zodiac

I’m in two minds about it.

Part of me thinks that it was really tedious but another part thinks that it is magnificent extremely well made film. Perhaps it is just that it’s a magnificent extremely well made tedious film.

I will definitely have to see it again and next time hopefully without an audience that is full of teenage boys who were obviously bored out of their minds having been expecting something more along the lines of Seven or something.

It is wonderfully intricate and almost overly obsessive about the minor details. David Fincher the director seems as obsessive about the details of the case as his protagonist Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal).

I think Procedural Harry is a very apt description. In many ways it feels like the cinematic equivalent of something like The Wire and perhaps would have benefited from the wider scope that 10 hours of television gives so that the lives of the characters outside of the confines of the case could be more widely explored.

But then these are not just characters in a film they are real people with real lives they may wish to keep private, nevertheless I would have loved to have seen much more of Mark Ruffalo’s character David Toschi.

I’m almost certain this is a masterpiece but it will need further viewing for me to decide.

Review: Children of Men

Children of Men

Really fantastic movie that was tightly paced and wonderfully directed. A beautifully rendered dystopia. Great performances by the actors and I didn’t even hate Clive Owen in it which makes a change.

It occurred to me also that V for Vendetta should have been filmed this way. Far more convincing portrayal of a future totalitarian British dystopia.

Review: Thank You For Smoking

Thank You For Smoking

A satirical comedy on the machinations of the tobacco industry it stars Aaron Eckhart as Nick Naylor a spin doctor and spokesman for the The Academy of Tobacco Studies.

Aaron Eckhart’s character is brilliant he almost had me convinced that I should buy a pack of cigarettes when I left the cinema.

The great state of Vermont will not apologise for its cheese!

Brilliantly black comedy. I love the way that you never actually see anyone smoke in the movie as well.

I also watched Russian Ark yesterday, well about half of it. Jeez that’s a fucking boring piece of pretentious bollocks. I think my major problem with it was the character of the French diplomat, he was incredibly annoying and sapped any enjoyment I may have had.

Review: Romance and Cigarettes

Watched Romance and Cigarettes this afternoon.

Odd film, a comedy musical starring James Gandolfini, Susan Sarandon, Kate Winslet, Steve Buscemi and Christopher Walken amongst others. It didn’t completely work but the acting and characterisations were great. Some laugh out loud moments particularly some of Buscemi’s and Walken’s lines.

I’d recommend people see if they get the chance but I wouldn’t go out of my way to watch it, particularly if like me you have a crush on Mary-Louise Parker she’s dead sexy in it.

Review: V for Vendetta

Just got back from watching the movie adaptation of V for Vendetta. I have mixed feelings but it was enjoyable and a lot better than I had feared it might be especially given my feelings for the previous adaptation of a comic that was close to my heart Hellblazer which became the painful Constantine.

I thought that Hugo Weaving was very powerful as V and Stephen Rea did a great job as Inspector Finch. Natalie Portman was merely adequate as Evey and her accent was not as awful as some have written but she was a little wooden in her performance. I thought Stephen Fry was remarkably good also, other characters such as Chancellor Sutler were too poorly written to allow much from the other actors in the cast.

The movie lasted two hours and yet it felt like a lot had been edited out. There was very little characterisation outside of the central few main characters all the others seemed like stereotypes painted in broad strokes. Some events such as what happened that night at Larkhill which enabled V to escape were glossed over as was Finch’s visit to the derelict Larkhill.

I think the general mood of the film was established well, it was visually stunning and there were a number of very powerful scenes especially the fingerman’s shooting of the girl and the subsequent uprising of the townspeople.

In many ways the movie felt like it was set in some parallel universe version of Britain rather than a dystopic near future of our own Britain, possibly due to it being an American production. The Britain of the movie was very twee and a little off, Rupert Graves as a copper using the word “chummy” when apprehending V, eggy in a basket and the Benny Hillesque TV satirical attack on the Chancellor.

A number of things in the movie make me feel like the points of the original graphic novel were lost or misunderstood by the writers. V was too overly made to be identified with Guy Fawkes who in the introductory scene is portrayed as a freedom fighter rather than the religious nutcase that he actually was. I thought that the Guy Fawkes mask in the graphic novel was a useful disguise which was merely appropriate given the date of key events in the story and a shared interest in blowing up public buildings. But the motivations of V and Guy Fawkes are in no way the same.

In fact Guy Fawkes has more in common with the Islamic fundamentalist terrorists our society is being made to fear at the moment. The character of V is different but is no hero either really he is a force for change through destruction, rebirthing society by destroying it’s institutions so something better can be born out of the ashes.

The surveillance aspects were altered and there was no sight of surveillance cameras in the movie odd given their ubiquitousness in modern Britain and given the totalitarianism surely there should be even more in evidence. Plus the populace do not seem cowed by the authorities, living in constant fear of speaking out of turn. Certainly this so called dystopia is to my eyes a lot deal better than we can really hope to expect several years down the line from now once we have a National Identity Register, cameras that can scan our faces to identify us and track our movements and legislation that gives the ruling party pretty much free reign to do whatever it wishes.

Review: Syriana

I saw Syriana today and I’d have to agree with every single point that my friend Abhi made about it. He wrote:

Syriana is a brilliant film. Deeply flawed in some ways (packs in too much material and some characterization suffers as a result, as does the film’s lucidity) but the strengths render these quite irrelevant IMHO. There are some brilliant performances (Clooney is sublime, even with limited screen time) and the screenplay is ambitious as all hell. Its about time a movie like this came along. Its scathing and realistic and unabashedly political and pulls no punches. Also features one of the more stomach churning torture scenes I have seen.

The issues of corruption and US foreign policy influencing domestic policies in Middle Eastern states is a complex one and too much to fit into a movie of this length but I think it managed very well to cover all it’s bases even if that meant that the pacing was off at times and characterisations were broad strokes for many characters.

I think the message is more than just that oil companies act reprehensibly. Of course they do they are large multinational companies they’ll do whatever turns a profit and to do that as an oil company means corrupting or influencing governments. The message also is that our governments let them behave this way because it is believed it is in the best interests of our nations (both the US and the UK) for them to do so. This is kind of paralleled with the movie The Constant Gardener but in that it is pharmaceutical companies.

Review: Wolf Creek

Wolf Creek

I think Wolf Creek is more disturbing for the fact that it was a small budget movie the acting seemed naturalistic and the whole production lacked the Hollywood gloss.

I wasn’t as impressed as I thought I might be having heard so much good stuff about it but thought there were some really good moments in it.

Got me to wondering though about how different is Mick from the normal member of society. Can he just be written off as a psychopath or would many blokes put into a similar isolated environment and given the opportunity to get away with horrific crimes do exactly the same?

Plus the other side of the equation having been abducted but then gotten free somehow what would the average person do? Would they flee, save their friends or would they seek out their abductor to get act out some retribution?

In Liz’s situation after she’s shot Mick in the neck I think I would have made sure he was definitely dead. If the gun was empty now I’d find some tool like a spade and gave the bastards head until it was just a smear of gore on the floor.

Reading the user comments for the movie at IMDB is quite interesting as there seems to be a large split between those that loved it and those that thought it was rubbish.

Also it seems many users are not understanding the concept of being based on true events not actually meaning that it is totally accurately portraying the events that really happened.

I also admit the TRUE STORY part had me intrigued as I’m sure they could not make this stuff up. At the end however, and this is the big spoiler, one guy does escape. However he was incapacitated/unconscious and unseeing of all the other torturing and chasing going on for the whole ENTIRE movie, and the authorities reveal how none of the bodies were ever found, nor was any evidence, or a bad guy. So how the hell is this a true story? This only victim that escaped certainly didn’t know what happened, other than his friends did not return. That pretty much leaves the director/writer or whoever to make the whole thing up. Right? Think about it if you’ve seen the movie.

Okay mate how about you look up the meaning of the phrase artistic licence and then read the following about Ivan Milat, the real Australian serial killer upon which the killer in the movie was loosely based.