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Wednesday, 15 December 2010

"How's retirement, Frank?"

I never thought much of this film prior to viewing it, as many others might not have either, but if you have even the slightest inclination to view this, you must! The story is typical, nothing special about the basic plot synopsis, but the delivery and the interesting plot twists keeps it fresh and interesting. The humour is hilarious, mostly a subtle humour that is apparent throughout the entire film, in nearly every scene.

Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Brian Cox, and Karl Urban all excel, as would be expected. It is refreshing watching Bruce Willis star in another action film, alongside Mary-Louise Parker (the gorgeous mother in Weeds) no less. John Malkovich plays the paranoid role quite astonishingly and Helen Mirren firing large weapons, including a gatling gun, is amazing! Every name above plays an equal part in the film, which is amazing. I never had so many characters in a single movie that I highly enjoyed equally. Remarkably done with talent seeping through the actors and vividly portrayed on the screen.

Don't expect this film to change the history of all films, but expect it to exceed in entertainment. If you give it a chance, you won't be disappointed. It's definitely a Friday night flick, something that is easily enjoyed.


Saturday, 20 November 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010)

"The boy who lived..."

After having seen HP6, I honestly didn't have great expectations in this one. I guessed it would be darker and scarier, as every HP movie has been darker and scarier than its predecessor. But HP6 was such a patchwork of scenes that didn't give you the feeling of a coherent work - I was afraid the even more complex story line of HP7 would make an even less coherent movie. However, I must say it was definitely a wise decision to split the 7th book into 2 movies. HP7 can take time to explain and introduce all the characters that are necessary to the plot.

I love the way Voldemort and the Death Eaters are portrayed in this movie. They are no longer just anonymous caped figures. You can see them interacting with each other, discussing and well... being human. Well, I'm always a big fan of the blurring of these clearcut good/evil categories in Fantasy.

As the book is split into 2 parts, all of a sudden, there's also time for little embellishments I hadn't realized I had missed in th earlier movies! For example, I loved the scene so much where the feather floated through the air when the fairy tale of the Three Brothers was being told. Also drawing style that was used during the story was really amazing. This HP movie was the first of all that finally gave me the same feeling as Lord of the Rings did: Boy, this is not just some guys slavishly adapting a book into a movie, but they're actually autonomous artists and they have ideas of their own! And I don't mean they changed the whole plot (I wouldn't like that)! But (mostly visually) they did more than just bring across what's in the book.

This also expresses itself in the decision not to include the childish Harry Potter musical theme (at least I didn't hear it, correct me if I'm wrong) from the first movie that sounds like "Wow, everything's so magical here!" That tune was fine for the first movie, but as Harry got older and the movies got darker, it kind of felt like they had to force this theme into every movie several times even though it didn't really fit any more. Now the soundtrack, too, has finally grown up. And I loved it! Last but not least, the acting was brilliant! The tense atmosphere between Harry, Ron and Hermione really came across. Also with all the doppelgänger scenes, you always still saw from their movements and behaviour which character was which though they were in disguise in a different body.

All in all, as the title says, this is a excellent grown-up movie and I can recommend it to everyone - except kids! If you have little kids, please don't take them. This movie has far too many scary scenes and little comic relief! Plus, the plot is quit complex including lots and lots of minor characters. It's really no longer a movie targeted at kids, even though it's still labelled "Harry Potter".

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Morning Glory (2010)

"Refreshingly sweet"

Rachel McAdams leads the way in this surprisingly refreshing flick as the workaholic television show producer, Becky, who lands the job of organizing "the worst morning show ever". She only has a short time to save the show's plummeting ratings, and in doing so must battle with low worker morale, conceited anchors, poor working conditions, as well as her own inadequacy in dealing with guy-problems. Desperate for a change, she recruits the legendary newscaster Mike Pomeroy, played by Harrison Ford, who is less than willing to cover any story he does not consider "worthy of his reputation".

The film brings not just a comic story of working with grumpy people, but the beautiful emotional tale of a girl who realizes her dream of being a television producer and, by pulling everyone together against the odds, creates a family in the process. But where the story is rather run-of-the-mill, the chemistry between the impressive cast is the movie's redeeming quality. Across the board, acting was fantastic. Rachel McAdams should be commended for her frustrated role as Becky, and has proved that she has much more to offer than a just pretty face. Harrison Ford, perhaps the true star of the show, fully embraced the character of Pomeroy did a wonderfully fantastic job being grumpy, conceited, and an all-around "asshole".

Morning Glory is a nice tale that will leave you with a sweet taste in your mouth. Combined with some real solid acting, this is not a movie you'll regret checking out!

Friday, 5 November 2010

127 Hours (2010)

"A must see"

Gripping, intense, and emotional would probably be the three best adjectives to describe Danny Boyle's 127 Hours. I'll admit that when I first heard the news that someone had a literal panic attack during the screening at Telluride, I was super excited to see it, as it could only have meant that the film was truly genuine and amazing. My assumptions were correct, as Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy (who also wrote the Slumdog Millionaire script with the director) put together another great film, this time with the challenge of one actor on screen for the entire movie. For those of you unfamiliar with the movie, 127 Hours tells the story of real life climber Aron Ralston (Franco) and his struggle to survive after his arm gets trapped under a boulder while mountaineering near Moab, Utah.

Going into a film like this, one would wonder how a movie with one actor and essentially one filming location could entertain an audience for about 90 minutes. Well, Danny Boyle did an excellent job of keeping people glued to the screen without taking away from the film and boring audience members. With his funky style of directing, amazing camera shots, as well as his ability to bring so much information and life into a one man show, Boyle tackled this daunting task beautifully. The directors uses of Ralston's fantasies, hallucinations, comedic relief, and the character's will to live all helped keep audience members interested, and wondering how and when this man would survive such an catastrophe.

Now to the leading man of the film, James Franco. I will admit, before this film I had never seen Franco give an awe-inspiring performance in any film really, but 127 Hours was his calling card. People should take notice, because this guy can really hold his own both on screen and off. Franco gave a fantastic performance in this one, and really made the character of Aron Ralston believable to the audience (which is what good actors do). He played the role seriously, but also gave the audience the much needed comedic relief, evening out the intensity of the film with a little bit of good humor. This isn't an easy role to portray for any actor, and it seemed as though Franco tackled it with ease, playing a disgruntled and challenging Ralston, and the different moods and emotions he feels while being trapped.

I would be insane not to give credit to both Simon Beaufoy and Danny Boyle for writing another excellent screenplay. Unlike their previous film, Slumdog Millionaire, which was an excellent screenplay, this one stands out more simply because of the limitations they had when writing it. Essentially, it was a dialogue prepared for one man to speak to himself for about 80 minutes, mostly through his hand-held video camera.

This movie is getting the granny apple A it deserves; the combination of great directing, writing, and an amazing performance by James Franco, truly make this film a remarkable one. The ability to overcome challenges and limitations, like Boyle did in this film, is what I believe separates the great directors from the good ones. Furthermore, the pace, intensity, suspense, and even Boyle's added humor, all add to the amalgamation of this films success. The films funkiness, brilliance, and realism faze out the idea that there is only one actor on screen sitting in the same location for almost the entirety of the film. The real life Aron Ralston summed the film up perfectly during the emotional Q&A session at the end of the film saying "Humans have no idea of their true potential or what the are capable of, given the situation they're in."

Sunday, 31 October 2010

The Book of Eli (2010)

"Stay on the path."

Upon first viewing the trailer I was immediately giddy to see a new post-apocalyptic film in the vein of The Road Warrior. Being a fan of the genre, one must get used to the repetitive "lone wanderer" theme so prominently used. I figured this film would go through the same formula, but prepared to enjoy myself.

Yes it did use the lone wanderer as a driving plot device, and yes it did bring the arbitrary twist. Yes all the survivors are short on t-shirts, but live in a wealth of leather and goggles. Yes everything in this film looks like and feels like a typical post-apocalyptia. But the substance of the story is far more powerful then I could ever have expected.

Without giving away too much, yes the film is essentially a Christian metaphor. Eli seems to be protected by some mysterious force, guided by "God" to head west. But it's what the meaning behind this admittedly bizarre plot that makes this film so great. It truly is a film about faith and believing in one's self. Using the dreary post-apocalyptic backdrop, the film is able to contrast this powerful message with the harsh landscape. Even amidst such despair, one can rise and accomplish anything. In a world slowly becoming apocalyptic itself, this message is much welcomed.

The other aspects lending to the power of The Book of Eli are its technical aspects. The cinematography is simply beautiful. Moody slo-mo shots abound with wonderfully toned colors. Everything looks dark and dead, the sun beating down endlessly on the dusty dunes. The soundtrack adds immensely to this feeling, using soft ambient chords and blasting action-scene drums when necessary. Overall The Book of Eli is an excellent film itself and an excellent spin on the post-apocalyptic genre.

Oh yeah, and Denzel Washington actually manages to pull off the part of a wizened, old bad ass.