Thursday, 30 June 2011

The Silent House

All filmed in one continuous shot!

Lover: Taken from IMDB

“From its first scene, La Casa Muda establishes an excellent atmosphere of horror and anguish thanks to the rural locations and the efficient "hand-held" work which brings it a semi-documentary style and makes us to "live" the characters' point of view in order to experiment the horror. And during the second moment...There is no second scene! The whole movie was filmed in a long continuous take (supposedly), something which might be a bit baffling on the beginning. But I could immediately "get into" the screenplay, and that became into an essential factor in order to emphasize the suspense which was achieved this modest horror film, which might not be great, but which kept me very interested and entertained.”

Modest is a key word when thinking about this film, a good review for an effective horror.

Hater: Taken from IMDB

“The movie sucks, no scares and no one is confusing! I do not recommend that attended, because, frankly, it was a waste of time my 10 minutes that I'm even spending for comment on the feeling I had when watching a movie as bad as this! At no moment in the film he scares you. and you expect to jump from his chair with that movie, sleeping is better, who knows, you take a trip dreaming! Good movie is "The Grudge" (just watched the two, still have not watched the three). You'll jump! Another good movie that does not alarm, but it is a terror that gives you chills, with Jack Nicholson's "The Shining" (1980). These movies are so great! Another I recommend is "Misery"(1990). All these, I'm sure, who have not watched, will enjoy! Note: 1/10”

Comparing it to The Shining and Misery is massively unfair and unfounded. The fact they make no real point about why they thought it “sucked” speaks volumes.

What I thought:

I’ll talk about the technical achievements first, The Silent House as you may have already guessed was filmed in one continuous tracking shot. When normal movies shout action it could just be for a couple of minutes maybe even less, this film did away with it and what strikes you first is just how much of a logistical nightmare that would have been! For this reason alone The Silent House is a technical work of genius, luckily its actually very creepy.

Because of the nature of the shoot the passage of time may be a bit of an issue for some people, personally I think it made it feel more real that you were really in it with them. The camera following the action frustratingly doesn’t always follow your eye line, again this might be frustrating for some people but I like it. I’ve always been a firm believer in What you don’t see is more scary and by these standards I’m loving this film. One scene in particular using just a Polaroid camera to light up a pitch black room is excellently uncomfortable, the scares equally so!

The film is not without its faults and as predicted it’s the sacrifices they made for the continuous shoot. Certain parts seem to drag further than is necessary, without the breathing space of cutting; the pace of the film is a little muddled. Another thing it loses is time for exposition, this means trying to piece together what’s happening with only little clues. You may get what’s been happening in ‘The Silent House’ but I was a little baffled.

So there you have it, a technical tour de force with some incredibly effective creepy moments and scares. It is only dragged down by its biggest selling point with little or no time for anything else it might be hard to swallow for some.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

The Survivor

Past it’s sell by date

Lover: Taken from IMDB
“Saw this movie while in the USA in the eighties. Much better and more believable than any of the later run-of-the-mill films I've seen, Stephen King and the like. It might be said that The Survivor is a forerunner to Carrie, also an excellent and scary movie. I remember vividly a scene where a paparazzi photographer is developing a shot of a totally burnt face, and where gradually a pair of large, staring eyes appear, driving the scoundrel out of his mind. I believe that I remember this scene as well as anything from that period of my life, although it's twenty years ago. There's no happy ending to the story, so the spectator ends up with an uncomfortable knowledge of evil and a feeling of tragedy. This film ought to be given another chance with the public. This film really was an eyeopener, and subsequently I've tried never to miss a new Aussie movie.”

This review is a little more favourable than I am, however the film is superbly atmospheric.

Hater: Taken from IMDB

“Part of an ill-fated two-picture deal (alongside Harlequin) that Robert Powell signed in the wake of Jesus of Nazareth's success, Australian horror movie The Survivor is a fairly good idea undone by clumsy writing and rushed execution, although the film looks like it's either been heavily edited or they ran out of money and couldn't film everything in the script. Ideas are left hanging, motives unexplained and characters disappear after fleeting introductions (third-billed Angela Punch McGregor gets a single line in one brief scene). Powell's pilot is the sole survivor of a crash on take-off and as he falls under suspicion during the crash investigation, those exploiting the tragedy (most notably an unscrupulous photographer) start to die at the hands of the dead victims and Jenny Agutter's psychic tries to enlist his help in giving their spirits peace before the body count rises. All of which sounds much more interesting than the execution, as David Hemmings' direction veers more to the competent than the inspired, though a replay of the spectacular crash scene near the end is highly effective.”

You can tell that the film is strangled by a small budget, like this review says it means that some characters are underused. I don’t think this means it’s a terrible movie however, Robert Powell is a dependable lead and the film is laced with an ever present trace of dread.

What I thought:

The biggest problem with The Survivor is simply how dated it is, filmed in 1981 the music is just one. A lot of dated soundtracks grow with time, Halloween for instance; its soundtrack is still incredibly effective. The music in Survivor undermines the scariest scenes, the sound effects help to keep up the creepy mood though, just audible screams from the doomed passengers work to keep the mood sour. There are a few jumps but either due to lack of budget or the directors’ choice it shows little of the grim side of the story.

This either works for you or not, asking you to use your imagination a little is tough with early 80’s style, direction and music. Sadly I think this film is past it’s sell by date; I think it would have been very effective. Its story precedes things like The Sixth Sense, as does the twisty ending which shows promise. Sadly not enough if watched today, this so called ‘Ozploitation’ film just doesn’t work in the recent these times.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

X-Men: First Class

First Class indeed!

Lover: Taken from IMDB
“WOW!!! Mathew Vaughn has done it again! This absolutely wipes the floor with x men origins wolverine and X men the last stand, and in my opinion is even better then x men 1 and 2. The story is so well told, all the characters are brilliantly fleshed out and every one of them either has a really interesting character arc or is just awesome or funny. The script is perfect ranging from effective humour, to really dark but emotional scenes (especially a stand out one in a concentration camp), the action is both inventive and astounding with some very clever uses of powers. But the best thing about this is how well every character is explored and how they show some real depth here, in my opinion this is even better intellectually then the dark knight. Everyone gives a great performance too. Nicholaus Hault brings pain and frustration to the character of beast expertly, as does Jenifer Laurence to the character of mystique. but ultimately this is a film about Charles and Erik and when they need to James Mcavoy and Michel Fassbender really display magnificent acting capabilities and presence, the film charts those two coming together as friends and then falling apart, and it does so brilliantly and there performances cement this. I cant recommend X- men first class enough See more”

It is a great film and I loved it to, better than X-Men 2 or The Dark knight? No

Hater: Taken from IMDB
“8.2 out of 10?...seriously? the first x men was OK...the second was bad...the third was a bag full of puke...wolverine origins was a rape....but this one is worst than any of the other x men movies. What's wrong with this pile of garbage? 1- Professor X and Mystique are related? WTF 2-Alex Summers and not Scott? Why? Scott Summers is one of the original X Men, not Alex 3-Where is Angel? I mean Warren Kenneth Worthington III not that little butterfly girl. 4- Where is Iceman? 5- Where is Marvel Girl? What a silly plot. Hollywood can't make good movies anymore. They take a good source and just violated the fans with some stupid adaptation. What's with the romantic relation between Beast and Mystique? Where that came from? Mystique mated with Azazel and that's where Nightcrawler comes from. Stupid movie. I have no idea why the rating is so high. The Wolverine cameo was kind of cool though.”

I’m a bit annoyed really, every criticism aimed at this brilliant film is from fanboys upset that the history of The X-Men has been re written for this film. Firstly who cares if the film is this good with two brilliant central performances! Secondly Marvel rip up and re write their own universe so many times in the comics, why can’t their films!? Looking at this review, firstly X-Men 2 was hugely better than the first and one of the best comic book films ever made, all the other points are clearly from a snotty fanboy who’s got his knickers in a twist because it’s not X-Men the way he wants them. Steer well clear of these kinds of reviews.

What I thought:

Now first let me say that I am one of these fanboys, I like reading comics and The X-Men has always been my favourite. This means I have an interesting perspective on the films, The first X-Men was acceptable but from a clearly action shy director, however he shook off those fears and X-Men 2 was superb. The Last Stand and Wolverine got wrapped up in the how many mutants can we shove in here and make it look fun thing, thus it sacrificed any character development or the ever present themes of discrimination. First Class is exactly what you would expect, a whole new start for a franchise that was dying on its feet. The film itself relies heavily on our two main characters, that complex relationship between Professor X and Magneto is prime ground for exploration.

Thankfully the casting has been spot on, Michael Fassbender being the stand out, his good looks and charm used superbly to make a young magneto a kind of rouge James Bond character. In the early scenes and one of my favourites he plays with the powerless humans as he seeks revenge for his parents. James McAvoy however plays it a little safer; aside from the flirting and using his powers to pull women it’s very much the self-righteous and wise performance of Partick Stewart only with hair. However it is a very good performance and the chemistry between the two drives the film through what could have been its more slowing moving scenes.

There was always going to be danger tying it in with Bryan Singers X-Men, the obvious ones being the inclusion of Cyclops YOUNGER brother, Mystique and Prof X being semi related and How Professor X is able to walk at the end of Wolverine but not at the end of this? I’m sure there are more however I don’t care the films too good to care; it’s obvious that Havok is related to Cyclops just in a different way from the comics. There’s the issue with Mystique but I think she’s key for the breakdown in the relationship between our two Charles and Eric. There there’s the walking; Wolverine was a poor film and I would happily delete it from the franchise if I had the choice.

If you’re an X-Men fan or a fan of comic books it all depends on how willing you are at accepting that this universe has been played with to fit into what is a very good film. Using the 60’s setting to breathe life in give it the perfect excuse to explore the side of X-Men you haven’t seen the “yellow spandex” is in and looks great, it’s also arguably the funniest of the lot.

With new that they are going to do a second I’m very excited and hope they try and bring in some more old school villains. I’d love to finally see Mr Sinister or maybe even Apocalypse (though that would be tough), So I say shove all the fanboys X-Men: First Class is just a great film go and see it and please Mr Vaughn can we have some more?

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Harry Brown

Lover: Taken from IMDB
“This film accurately depicts life in modern Britain today. Not the image of a flowing rolling countryside of middle class England which is often depicted in typical international films but one of an inner city "sink" estate - Elephant & Castle in London - with all of its associated problems. I saw the film last night and it brought back all the memories I have of having lived in similar circumstances. Michael Caine is excellent, this is probably one of his best films and I expect film nominations for his role. The film gives a gritty but realistic view of the life most people live on the sink estates of Britain, all are there through no choice of their own, but some are aware of the conditions they are forced to live in. I don't think we'll see the British government promoting this film as it portraits the country in a very bad light, though, if you are not from Britain and would like a taste of what some of us have to put up with I recommend you see this film. Overall, a very well put together film which will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up at times. Well done Michael and all of the team.”

I’ll agree on the acting front and the fact the film has some gritty realism but accurately depicts life in modern Britain? That’s up to you I guess.

Hater: Taken from IMDB
“And the basic moral message of the film is that revenge is cool. It is that sick. This film doesn't reflect modern social ills but rather it actually encourages them. Micheal Cain has no problem in shooting kids without any attempt to arrest them or use non lethal force. He makes himself judge, jury and executioner - exactly as bad as the film tries to show the gang members as being. In one particularly sickening scene he forces a young whimpering lad whose only crime was to witness a killing and lead the boy to his death as a human shield against the other boys. And we are meant to applaud this? Harry Brown is genderist, fascist, classist and racist filth. Do not soil your mind by even watching it.”

The question about applauding this movie is up to the way you view this film, like my friend always used to say “It’s all relative”

What I thought:

Not a week goes by in London without hearing about some stabbing or shooting, whether they are gang related or not. A lot of Londoners, me included have become a little desensitized to this kind of news we hear about it so much. Harry Brown was inevitable, Gran Torino showed us a similar movie, where a geriatric old timer decides to hand out good ol-fashioned justice to the wrong doers. The problem we have here is where the lines are drawn; in one hand we have a dark gritty film that put’s a face to youth and the run down estates. In the other hand we have a revenge tale, less interested in exploring the issues and more interested in gore, violence and sticking it to those ‘bloody hoodies!’.

Harry Brown is an ex-marine (aren’t they all!) whose has already lost more than any man should have to cope with, when the local gang of hoodies stab his only friend it pushes him over the edge. Harry then goes on a trail of destruction, taking down drug dealing rapists, torturing a youth and gunning down another. By this point you know next to nothing about the people standing in the way, the part of this story that is sadder than Harry’s. These young offenders who have been brought up at in the wrong place at the wrong time, some abused and most abandoned, most of these kids aren’t evil people. They are bored with no sense of responsibility for who they hurt, who is really to blame for them; Parents, Teachers, The Government or maybe society itself? The society where a staple of British cinema like Michael Caine Ruthlessly takes them out?

It’s a very blurry film as you may have guessed but that means that it does have its good points, Michael Caine Is brilliant at it, giving a real sense of loss and bereavement and making Harry Brown a completely real character. The scenes where the wannabe gangsters are taken out do come with some relish but it’s a guilty kind of relish, how many times have we heard about someone we know being hurt by these people and wanted to give them more than just a policeman’s justice. It’s that kind of feeling this film plays to most.

Though entertaining enough to watch, Harry Brown is a disappointment, it had a chance to give two sides of a coin. Giving us a poignant display of how harsh modern day Britain can be, instead it’s just a guilty pleasure of a revenge flick with a great central performance.

Monday, 6 June 2011


Avoid like a biblical plague

Lover: Taken from IMDB
“Look let's be up front, if you're here reading about what Legion could be, we both know what you are looking for. Legion is awful/awesome. It is quite possibly the least logically sound "A" movie (as opposed to "B" movie) I have ever seen. Which is wonderful, it was exactly what I wanted. We're talking Angelic sepoku, one handed Roc, car wrecks that kill adults but don't bother babies, that guy from Tokyo Drift terrible. Thankfully, it is not self-aware either. All too often you go into a terrifically abysmal movie and you end up with some middling abomination of meta-this and that. No no, Legion took itself seriously and delivered a must-see for fans of bad movies. If you like it nasty, you're not going to find much worse/better.”

I’d agree if there wasn’t some underlining themes of human nature and other pap that just make it a shit film.

Hater: Taken from IMDB
“It was awful. It was a complete waste of money. The best part of the whole movie was when Dennis Quaid died. Almost everyone in the theater clapped when he did. The effects were equivalent to Pacman arcade games that I used to play back in the 90's. I felt like the whole movie was just a cheap imitation of Constantine with Keanu Reeves. I couldn't figure out if certain parts of the movie were supposed to be funny or if the acting was just so cheesy that they were. I like how the previews made the movie look way more awesome than it really was. I highly recommend everyone to not see it, or Day Breakers either for that matter.”

I will defend them on the effects, describing them as “Pac-man” is an extreme exaggeration.

What I thought:
Legion depends on one thing, just how silly do you like your action films. If you don’t really care for plot with any real cohesion, or cardboard cut-out characters you couldn’t care less about and ropey special effects then you may like it. It’s an Old-Testament style Apocalypse and God has decided he’s had enough, he appears to have us all possessed by demons and lead by Gabriel. That’s all very well however Gravity defying Grannies who decide they want to eat before despatching the innocent is a little hard to swallow. That’s if you’re still with this storyline, after that its demon children, and Angels kicking each other about.

All the while you’re supposed to watch, believe and feel sorry from some real dreary acting and badly written characters. From dysfunctional family, religious cook dried up men and gun toting reluctant gangster. Every one you’ve seen before, everyone you know where the story is going. With such a silly idea I’m not sure legion could have ever been a good film, it needed spectacular set pieces and comedy that winks to the audience. Instead we’re supposed to swallow a whole “doubting of faith, questioning humanity” theme; it all runs so shallow you don’t blame God for wanting to wipe the lot of them out.

Only bother with Legion if you have nothing else to watch, or it’s the last DVD on earth, actually not even then.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

The Joneses

They lost the point

Lover: Taken from IMDB

“One of the few times I've been able to leave a full-price theater thinking that it was totally worth it. I hadn't seen any previews or trailers (watching TV on the web means that my ad exposure is *very* skewed), so I had only the teensy summary on the movie theater website to go by. Thus, I can't speak to others' criticisms of the movie not living up to the hype. It's not super-dark, and I don't think that it goes far enough to be considered truly satirical, particularly given the fact that some of the characters experience a type of redemption, but it's one of the most self-aware movies I've seen in ages. I tried to think of more movies like TYFS to include for comparison, but am coming up short. Therefore, all I can say is that I'd love to see more movies that merge cynical/comedic/dramatic elements so thoroughly.”

A lot of long words and each of them fully justified.

Hater: Taken from IMDB

“I believe David Duchovny must have joined the Opus Dei or some other sort of Christian fundamentalist organizacion. Californication could have been the perfect series for the politically incorrect but became a lame excuse to promote family values. He now does The Joneses, a movie that teaches us that a man can turn a FAKE family into a REAL one (or sort of) and in the process we also learn how important it is to have a family. Well, I have nothing against family values but I don't need them slammed on my face every time I turn on the TV or go to the cinema and that is why I believe this movie is crap. Also, there is no character development, you never learn why he, the stallion, is in love with her or why she falls for him. You can giggle two or three times but don't be fooled by the IMDb or whoever marketed this movie, this is no comedy, it is just rubbish. One out of ten and only because I can't give it a zero.”

No one’s forcing you to go to the cinema or keep the channel on when you’re watching these so called “family values”, so stop bloody watching. More importantly stop writing completely useless reviews!

What I thought:
I had no idea about what this film was about before seeing it and I think it made it so much better than it would have been had I known. Seeing this fake family selling seems like such a no-brainer of an idea. The perfect marketing, a family who seem perfect, and the kind of family people aspire to have and buy all the things we want. In that’s sense it’s not just some skewed family values but a comment on shameful consumerism. Sure there is a romance going on there but it’s sidelined for the majority of the running time by the characters (mainly our fake father) going from being happy in their shallow lifestyle to discovering that there’s more to life.

The darkness that has been spoken about is not as dark as you would think, the watery moment passes by without really as much dramatic as you would imagine. At that point in the film it becomes a little disjointed, I thought I was watching a smart satire about the dangers of consumerism and by the final third it’s clear I should have been watching the blossoming fake romance at the head of the family. It’s not that the romance isn’t believable between David Duchovney and Demi Moore; it’s that it never really seems like the focus.

A shame really because I think the film makers missed a chance to make a really thought provoking film. With the talent involved as well it should have been brilliant but by the end we are given what could have been the ending of any Jennifer Anistion headed lame rom-com.

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"Films are Loved, Films are hated. I'm here to help you decide where you stand..." I also do web work including a good knowledge of HTML, ASP, using the adobe web package and a strong understanding of SEO, Google Analytics.