Thursday, 28 July 2011

Inspire! by Simon Maier


So a second book to review and hopefully I can make a habit of this, It’s a honour to get a look at fellow film writers work. Inspire is chock full of quotes from cinema and theatre and the idea of these quotes is of course to inspire. It takes you through the last 10 decades of these industries setting the scene for you with a short history on the decade and takes you through films and plays of the era and quotes them explaining why it’s inspirational.

That was a very boring and uninteresting way of putting this book but sadly that’s all the book really is. Reading through it as a film fan it’s often a good book to reminisce with the writer (Simon Maier) and agree whole heartedly that this film was an inspiration. It does end there however with the writer spending more time on exposition than he does with this own commentary. This is a shame as the writing is interesting and sincere, with genuine moments of insight into the speeches he quotes.

Of course with a book of this nature it will divide people, the key is in what an individual person is inspired by. Not everyone for instance can take inspiration from Schindlers List, its dark subject matter leaving some people feeling morose rather than inspired. This means that the book will be di jointed for people reading it, for those that disagree with the writer its even herder. With no where near as much personal writing about why he thought it inspirational; it’s hard to argue with that.

It should be said that Inspire! Is written by a prolific events manager and confident public speaker, it’s also published by a Marshall Cavendish Business. This for me sais all you need to know, meant more of a business motivator that genuine comment on inspiration on screen and on stage it misses the mark for anyone fanatic about film.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets

Pigeon Steps

Lover: Taken from IMDB
“Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is a huge step on from the first film. In the Philosophers stone we were introduced to the the world of Harry Potter and given a taster of what lies ahead. In the Chamber of Secrets the main story line for the series of books really starts to be told. It is much darker and sinister than the first film and Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint give good performances and give us a glimpse of the fine actors they are becoming. Kenneth Branagh and Jason Isaacs are perfectly cast as Gilderoy Lockhart and Lucius Malfoy and truly bring the characters from the book to life. Mark Williams as Arthur Weasley while under used in this film is going to be great in the next few as his character has more to do. The Cinematography is again superb and somehow the Quiddich game is better than in the first film. A fine sequal to the first film and should dispel any notion that the first one was just a one hit wonder. A firm 10 in my book.”

I wouldn’t say it’s a ten however it does have some perfect casting.

Hater: Taken form IMDB
“Okay I Saw This In Cinema's & I Pretty Much Walked Out When They Found The Entrance. The Plot Is That Harry Potter is in his second year of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. He is visited by a house-elf named Dobby and warned not to go back to Hogwarts. Harry ignores his warning, and returns. He is still famous, although still disliked by Snape, Malfoy, and the rest of the Slytherins. But then, strange things start to happen. People are becoming petrified, and no-one knows what is doing it. Harry keeps hearing a voice.. a voice which seems to be coming from within the walls. They are told the story of the Chamber of Secrets. It is said that only Salazar Slytherin's true descendant will be able to open it. Harry, it turns out, is a Parsel-tongue. This means that he is able to speak/understand snakes. Everyone thinks that it's him that has opened the Chamber of Secrets because that is what Slytherin was famous for. OMG I Feel Like Taking A Power Drill To The Bottom Of My Chin & Seeing Where It Goes After That. Rating 1/10”

It’s another one of these reviews that spends its whole time giving you the plot then saying its rubbish! Please don’t take any notice of reviews like this.

What I thought:
This was a slow step forward for a franchise that had a long way to go, from its fluffy beginnings characters are now getting hurt and dealing with man eating Spiders and Snakes. The adult themes are important as they push forward the main focus of the story; Harry’s ultimate destiny. This one falls for the same reasons the first does, with some ropey effects (check out the animatronic Fawkes or Dobby the house elf) and of course our three heroes are still maturing as actors as well as characters.

Again it has some inspired casting, Kenneth Branagh steals every scene he’s in and Jason Isaacs oozes sinister. It has the same things that push the first film; it’s still full on family fun, funny in places and like the DVD Sais contains “minor peril”. It was pigeon steps right up till the end with the look and feel of the series, the third however steered it well in the right direction…

Friday, 22 July 2011


Without doubt one of the finest Directorial debuts I have seen

Lover: Taken from IMDB
“We had the pleasure of seeing and listening to Richard Ayoade in person at last night's screening at the Glasgow Film Festival. I am normally a bit scared of coming-of-age movies, mainly because of potential cheesiness and annoying child actors but Submarine managed to an accurate, funny portrayal of the hell of teenage UK school life. There were some slightly Adrian Mole-esque moments but that's not a bad thing. The audience at the screening seemed to think that the whole thing was a rip-roaring comedy and laughed at points which were obviously supposed to be more poignant or sad. Overall, however, the tone is one of wry comedy at the horrors of growing up and even subjects such as brain tumors & divorce are treated as lightly heartedly as possible. Don't be put off that Ben Stiller's production company was behind funding the film - it has nothing in common with a Hollywood teen movie. One of the best British films we have seen”

It is as good as this review sais it is, very good points made too.

Hater: Taken from IMDB
“Dear Mr. Aoyade: The hero in your film tells a victim of bullying that it will make her stronger. I can tell you for a fact Mr. Aoyade that bullying does not make you stronger. It destroys a person. It destroyed my life. Your "hero" also says that during the two week romance with Jordana they picked on the weak. Oh, you must be a wonderful person to advocate for the harassment of those who can not stand up for themselves. Tell us Mr. Aoyade, do you kick dogs? Do you advocate racial hatred? Do you beat your lovers? Do you smack children? These would seem to be characteristics that you find amusing based on the action of your "heroes". Also, the movie wasn't funny. If I hadn't arranged for a group to go see the film and felt a responsibility, a word whose meaning I'm sure is unfamiliar to you Mr. Aoyade, I would have walked out of the film in the first five minutes.”

This review is hilarious; it’s just a film for Christ sake. If you were bullied at school I sympathise with you but by no means is Richard Aoyade on a personal mission to offend and hurt you all; Terrible over the top review.

What I thought:
From the opening scene you know your watching a quietly brilliant piece of cinema, dialogue is sharp and to the point, cinematography is simple and very easy on the eyes. Richard Aoyades postcard to youth is first a comedy and secondly coming of age drama. Our hero is Oliver Tate a kind of ‘inbetweener’ whose nerdy enough for geek cred but popular enough to have roughish friends. He does have ideas above his station, delusions of being the subject of a movie where everyone loves him. When he’s used by a fellow pupil (Jordana) to make her boyfriend jealous, Oliver stands up for her and so find himself a girlfriend.

It’s about so much more than the relationship running through it and one criticism aimed at the film is that this relationship does seem dampened by other comings and goings. Those other things are solely based around parenting, from cheating mothers to the big C, both characters are dealing with situations at home that at certain points take precedence. All of this I think only adds to the relationship as it affects the way they are together. Another possible criticism is Paddy Considines’ rather pantomime performance; I guess you’ll make your own mind up but I think it suits the character and that rather impressive mullet. However it’s all beside the point, this film is exploring youth through the world weary eyes of a comedian.

In that sense it’s a wonderfully funny film with some genuinely touching moments, snapshots of the main romance to small little touches like the parents dimmer switch. It all comes together in what is one of the most impressive debuts from a director I have seen, Aoyade has a firm grip on cinematography, script and squeezing out extraordinarily impressive acting from child actors.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Harry Potter and The Philosophers Stone

Humble beginnings

Lover: Taken from IMDB
“I was free from any anticipation for this film being not overly impressed by the fantasy genre. This film redeems itself above other sorcery films with its old fashioned English ambiance being greater than arch and portentous fantasy. Unlike other fantasy films the directors face the challenge of a highly critical audience of children who are more familiar with the books that they are & waiting expectantly for their favorite part of the book and would tear the director to ices if he was there in their anger such omissions. Any changes in the film would be seen as desecrating the fantasy world that Rowling created. “

On reading this a second time I realised it was actually a review for the second one, however I’ve kept it because I believe the first part make one good point; that about omissions angering the majority of audiences.

Hater: Taken from IMDB
“OMG Kids Praise This Series, Holy #### Is This Awful. The Plot Is That It is the tale of Harry Potter, an ordinary 11-year-old boy serving as a sort of slave for his aunt and uncle who learns that he is actually a wizard and has been invited to attend the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. Harry is snatched away from his mundane existence by Hagrid, the grounds keeper for Hogwarts, and quickly thrown into a world completely foreign to both him and the viewer. Famous for an incident that happened at his birth, Harry makes friends easily at his new school. He soon finds, however, that the being a wizard world is far more dangerous for him than he would have imagined, and he quickly learns that not all wizards are ones to be trusted. Now Thats Done The Acting Is Crap (People Might Complain That This Is Their First Movie But If These Kids Were In A Uwe Boll Movie It Would Be Worse Than Any Others. All In All A Crappy Movie Rating: 1/10”

A horrible review that spends the majority of the time giving you the synopsis then slating the child actors and saying the series is awful!? We know the kids are ropey infact the acting from the kids has been up and down the entire series, however whether or not that ruined the film for you is up to you.

What I thought:

Looking back at the first in the series you can see just how far they have come and how drastically the style changed. Chris Columbus hugely kiddie friendly fair is just that, like the book it’s more fun loving and fancy free. Seeing this new ‘wizarding’ world through the innocent eyes of Harry Potter is a delight as the film is chock full of lovely little details; So what if some of the effects are little questionable or our three leads acting largely unconvincing, its good fun.

One thing however that this series has always nailed, partly I suspect to J.K Rowlings excellent writing is the casting of the adult supporting roles. Right from Dumbledore down, played here by Richard Harris all of the actors completely flesh out these characters that will shape the future and indeed the destiny of the “boy who lived”. It is hard to ignore the sometimes terrible acting especially from Radcliffe and Watson both of whom don’t look at any point to have shaken off the face they had when told they got the roles. Rupert Grint is more natural; holding his own with some of the funniest line in the film but even here suffers in the more dramatic moments.

Going back to what I said this does not spoil what is a wonderfully fun joyride for the kids, easing these children slowly into a world that does not shy away from massive adult themes that include torture and murder. This by the way is the fire in my series of Harry Potter reviews to celebrate the ending of the franchise, it will concluded by a little feature about the boy wizard and his legacy.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Animal Kingdom

Matriarchal madness

Lover: Taken from IMDB

“This is a superb movie, with tension building from start to its very clever finish, and an excellent plot. The characters and acting are all beautifully realised. Yes, the characters are not particularly likable or interesting people and they seemingly fail to learn from their actions, but this is the whole point. The opening scene, in which young Josh is more interested in a TV show than his mother dying before him, pretty well sums up this family. As such, they are much more believable as people than most characters you will see in a movie or TV show. Overll, a huge contribution to film, and as good a crime movie as you will seen anywhere”

It is s simple story but the real pleasure in this film is the character exploration.

Hater: Taken from IMDB
“I heard good things about this film, but alas, after watching it, I realised that, like so many other Australian films, it's just dull. Slow, boring, well-filmed and dull. If this is the "animal kingdom", then the animals are either dying of disease or stupidity.
The dialogue is average; the story is okay, but very slow, and nothing really lifts the pace in any way. It should have been a stronger, faster film, but instead it traded that for an half-assed character-driven film that limps along. The cinematography is okay in itself, but there's nothing that makes it an iconic Melbourne-set film, which it should have been.
The lead character, 'J' appears to be slightly retarded. The Cody brothers are amateurs, and it's surprising that they lasted as long as they did. We're told that the Cody brothers are drug dealers, and bank robbers, but we never see any of that.
It won an award at Sundance, which I think reflects the quality of other films on offer. It's great that an Australian film has done reasonably well, but unfortunately it represents the entrenched Australian film industry mindset - slow, dull, and without appeal. A 45 minute film stretched to 90 minutes. “

I’m not going to say too much other than they clearly missed the point.

What I thought
When they talk about crime families in the entertainment industry you’ll hear the Corleoni’s or The Sopranos, You should now add The Cody’s. Though a world away from their Mafiosi counterparts the set up is the same with a manipulative matriarch sitting atop a pyramid of male testosterone, Like The Godfather or indeed Tony Soprano. The mother has an edge unlike any of her peers however, looking at her boys through rose tinted glasses and using a mother’s lover to manipulate them to all manner of things including murder.

The plot and set-up are simple enough, when Josh’s mother passes away due to an overdose he must move in with his aunty and the infamous Cody brothers. It’s not long till him and his girlfriend is embroiled in the seedy life of drugs, crooked cops and retaliatory killings. From that point on the film is filled with tense and completely unpredictable scenes as the family spirals out of control. The film itself is understated, filmed simply the pace never going faster than a crawl but then it never needs to.

Animal Kingdom is a powerhouse in the Crime genre, not for gunfights or interesting heists not even cool characters. Its power is in the analysis of the family unit and the way they cope with comings of goings of this choice of lifestyle. The mother of course played impeccably by Jacki Weaver is the real talking point; her Oscar nommed portrayal is as scary as it is fascinating. Animal Kingdoms slow pacing and the fact it has no big bangs mean it won’t appeal to everyone however I strongly suggest everyone check it out, concentrate on the relationship between a mother and her homicidal sons.

About Me

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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.