Friday, 26 August 2011

Endless Summer

Inspirational Cinema at its Best by Lauonfilm

Lover: Taken from IMDB

"Just get the DVD and settle into your favorite chair, add some pals, a few kids, some snacks and a drink and you have the complete setting and the perfect film for 90 minutes to make you delighted with life for the next 90 days. I first saw the ES in 1964 when Bruce Brown came to Australia and would hire old cinemas on a night they were usually closed. He ran the film silent and spoke the narration over the microphone live in the theater! The word of mouth of this film was 100% as the entertainment value... and in a city thronging with teen surfers desperate to see their sport on a real movie screen, this film projected in 16mm in a crumbling 2500 seat suburban theater (struggling to stay open) was a joyous hilarious revelation that has us kids and older pals living the dream ourselves at our local beaches. This is a perfect piece of family entertainment and you are encouraged to get it see it show it and keep it to remind yourself at what fun life can be. It is a life reaffirming experience and we are all the richer as humans for having it in our lives. The only other two films I feel this strongly about, and they are so different as films... are the 30s musical ROBERTA and the new documentary THE BALLET RUSSE. A short film called THE RED JACKET is equally strong and humanist... each of these films will do for your senses and heart to elate you beyond your wildest wishes. The music score for THE ENDLESS SUMMER by the pop group the Sandals (!) is equally unforgettable. It is worth buying as a CD when you get the DVDs of The Endless Summer, Endless Summer 2 and other Bruce Brown comedy surfing documentary valentines."

Lovely to hear the history of this from a person who originally viewed it when it was released in cinemas. I’m also intrigued to watch the films that this reviewer feels are similarly heartfelt and interesting.

Hater: Taken from Amazon

"Bruce Brown's first Endless Summer is now mainly of historical interest. The age of the film makes no easy viewing at first. The sound is somewhat muffled, the music somewhat outdated and the camera work is that of the 1960s. However, I have seen the movie several times and each time it grew on me more, and I now like it. The story has no plot, the action is on the sport of surfing and the search of surf in the various countries visited. Bruce Brown's The Endless Summer is a good movie to have in your surf movie collection. Interestingly, Bruce Brown comments on the arrival of porpoises at a Durban beach that sharks and porpoises have yet to integrate in South Africa [stress placed on 'in South Africa']. Porpoises and sharks will not be found together in the water. To the finer tuned ear a clear comment on the racial policies in South Africa during those years. Bruce Brown's humour has improved in wit in his second Endless Summer which shows that his mind has definitely become younger over the years! The minds of surfers usually do."

I find it strange that this reviewer has said the film has no plot - this film follows two surfers as they continually travel Eastwards to various countries, in effect chasing the Summer, making it endless (hence the title). I thought this was apparent, but the viewer may not have grasped this! It’s also very evidently personal opinion whether the aged nuances of the film affects the viewing pleasure – I felt the vintage news-reel sound quality and nostalgic music added to the ambience of the film.

What Lauonfilm thought:
Endless Summer (1966) is one of those films that you just stumble upon, whether it’s been recommended by a friend or you’ve found on an obscure digital channel in the small hours of the night and decided to give it a try. I’d say 90% of today’s public would instantly ignore the friend’s suggestion or change the obscure channel. But if the subject matter of surfing / the exotic scenery / the high-wasted shorts intrigue you in some way and you continue to watch, then you’re in for a reward. Because before very long you’ll likely find that you are captivated, and have stumbled across a cinematic gem.

As stated above, this documentary follows surfers Robert August and Mike Hynson as they chase the Summer by travelling over several months from the shores of Senegal, along the West Coast of Africa to Camp Francis in South Africa, across to Australia and New Zealand, then to Tahiti and finishing in Hawaii. They meet locals along the way; even introduce the sport to several appreciative natives. We experience their excitement, skills and the beautiful sunrises and sunsets that they experience within the locations, and pop band ‘The Sandals’ provide a soundtrack to this which fits every scene perfectly, creating an upbeat and heartfelt atmosphere throughout.

What I loved about a film that is exclusively on the subject of surfing is that there is very little technical surfing information that only surfers would understand. At the beginning of the film I wondered how narrator Bruce Brown would continue at the same entertaining pace and deadpan tone for the full 95 minutes. He didn’t falter – my favourite comment of his being, “There was a young fellow out surfing that day who had a problem with a growth on his back. Actually his father fixed him with a life preserver so if he fell off he’d float. Face down. Dear old dad.” We are predominantly given access to what surfers think during their experiences, what they say to each other (Australians have the habit of claiming “you should’ve been here yesterday” to disguise their mediocre waves) and the tricks surfers use, along with geographical information about the various countries, the resident surfers and the skills that have made them famous. It’s interesting and often very passionate information.

This film does border on specialist though for obvious reasons, so a person uninterested in surfing, vintage films or documentaries, who maybe doesn’t appreciate beautiful scenery or likes their films action-packed, may not enjoy it. Personally I don’t think this is a film just for your “surf movie collection” though, and it will be added to my collection of inspirational films such as Touching the Void and Into the Wild.

A timeless and effortless gem.

Available on DVD
Running Time: 161 mins
Cert: U

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Dinner for Shmucks

Messy but fun

Lover: Taken from IMDB
“I haven't laughed this much since The Hangover. This movie was absolutely hilarious and exactly what was expected from Steve Carell. His character was just brilliant. Paul Rudd was excellent and offcourse the man who needs no introduction: Zach Galifianakis was at his best. I can see why some people wouldn't like this movie if their sense of humor did not like the Hangover then they will no like this movie. It had many clever moments, excellent comic timings, and very wicked storyline. Also if ur an office space fan then your in for a treat because Ron Livingston is in this movie and this movie had a lot of environment like office space and Ron Livingston had a new role which u fans will love. Overall I loved every aspect of this movie and wish there would be another movie with the same Steve Carell's role. “

I thought it was funny but definitely not that funny and the comparisons to The Hangover are unfounded.

Hater: Taken from IMDB
“The French original was a scream, which is why they bought the rights. Instead of subtitling the original, they went for a remake à la sauce américaine. Just as in the case of The Vanishing, La Femme Nikita, Un Indien Dans la Ville, Le Grand Chemin and a dozen other films (at least), the remake is just plain awful. Steve Carell is reprising the late and much-regretted role played by Jacques Villeret. While the latter was believable as tax inspector with an interest in building structures out of toothpicks, Carell as a half-looney artistic taxidermist is way over the top. Bollywood made a version which was watchable, but the Hollywood version is a mess. “

I haven’t seen the French original so thought I should put this one in, I do think it was a bit of a mess of a movie but sometimes being messy is fun.

What I thought:

It seems as Paul Rudd and his wise cracking everyman role take the limelight, he’s retaining all the likeable traits and none of the big laughs. His disenfranchised father in Knocked Up was one of the highlights of that movie and is just one of those roles that have made Rudd a fan favourite. Taking centre stage however, he seems to be losing some of the funny, he shard that stage with other actors in Role models and though he was great in I Love You Man most of the laughs are taken by Jason Segal.

Dinner for Schmucks for Paul Rudd is yet another step down into likeable but not funny leading man, leaving Steve Carrells zany approach room to breath. In this case that’s not so bad, in a film that’s subject matter relies heavily on the straight laced characters reactions to the oddballs it’s perfect. Based on a French original the premise is fairly simple, A dinner party where the guests have to bring the most idiotic people they know in an effort to have the most moronic. To the winner go the spoils and in our heroes case a better job and a bigger office on that elusive “floor”.

The success of this film falls on the shoulders of those playing the aforementioned shmucks, the dinner party in question is the zenith. It doesn’t disappoint for those with the right sense if humour. From Zack Galifianakis and his deluded psychic to Chris O’Dowd’s blind swordsman, all have their own laugh out loud moments. Credit should also go to Brit favourite David Walliams whose big time businessman is as ludicrous as the rest and Jemaine Clement in scene stealing from as an “out there” artist.

Of course the shmuck you’re supposed to care about is Carrells, I’ve spoken about Rudd now what about his screen partner? Well there’s no doubt you’ve seen him do this before (Brick in Anchorman) but if you like him doing that then there’s no reason why shmucks shouldn’t be one of the funniest films you’ve seen. From making dioramas out of roadkill mice to playing dead to avoid attack all are played with brilliant straight faced conviction.

Yes Dinner for Shmucks is just another in a long line of predictable buddy comedies and yes it’s another remake. However if you like silly humour and you like it done with a straight face, this is for you.

Available on DVD and Blu Ray (US import)
Running Time: 114 mins
Cert: 12

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Final Destination 5

Unoriginal, but doesn’t disappoint By Lauonfilm

Lover: Taken from IMDB
"I had low expectations when I entered the theater to see the 5th installment of the FD series, because the 4th movie was such a disappointment. But after watching it, I was surprised. First off,this movie was way,( and I mean), way better then the last two movies were. It was darker and had a lot of elements from the first movie, which I loved. I don't want to give away too much, but I do want to say that the last scene of the movie will leave you speechless. It had me thinking, "OMG, that was AMAZING how they came up with that twist." One last thing I loved about this movie was that it was well planned out and thought of, unlike the forth movie which was a joke and in my opinion, shouldn't have never been made. The deaths weren't rushed as opposed to the deaths in the forth movie, and it gave more screen time to introduce us to the characters. Note: I will say that there is one death scene in the movie that I didn't see coming, besides the ending. I recommend you see this movie. It might have the same theme as the first four movies, but unlike the first four, it's on a much higher scale."

I would largely agree with this review, and having not seen the third or fourth Final Destination offerings, I feel glad for having avoided them!

Hater: Taken from IMDB

"Final Destination 5 is the same movie you may have seen four times prior and of course if you have not then don't bother (with the exception of the very first film).
FD5 brings one new minor plot device to the series, kill or be killed, but this isn't nearly enough to distract the viewer from the fact every other sequence of events unfolds exactly as they have in the previous films. The acting here isn't anything special at all and the film is so predictable the only thing you're watching it for is how people die. If you're a gore-hound I could see you having some enjoyment from this film but otherwise skip it.Final Destination has not been reinvigorated with new life, it has no promising future, and at this point it is simply being created because it can be "milked" for a decent profit."

Kill or be killed was actually an interesting addition, I was unsure whether this devise had been used previously in the sequels. Yes, this franchise has been milked for profit, but this doesn’t mean the films cannot still attempt to entertain audiences – FD5 certainly gave it its best shot!

What Lauonfilm thought:

Okay, so let’s begin with the obvious. If you’ve seen any of the previous Final Destination movies you will know the plot of this film, so don’t get your hopes up – there’s no formulaic attempts at originality here. A group of youngsters escape a disaster and death sets upon them, picking them off one by one in elaborately gruesome ways. You know it, it works, they could improve on it but.....nah. However, given the unoriginality of the storyline, this film was actually a surprise. Simply in terms of how genuinely entertaining it was, with the unpredictable death sequences undoubtedly making the film.

I’ve found that comparisons are sometimes drawn between the Final Destination and Saw franchises, which aren’t really warranted: for a start the Final Destinations are a hell of a lot tamer, although the effects for the death sequences could easily rival the latter. In my opinion, the Saw sequels (I am not including the original in this, as it was genuinely a great film) and other “torture porn” films aren’t something that I always feel comfortable enjoying. At the risk of sounding insensitive though, with FD you don’t get the same awkward feeling from watching the characters meet their doom – the deaths in Final Destination 5 are often just plain funny in terms of how shocking and grisly they can be. They’re extremely over-the-top and, with advances in special effects, also very realistic. Final Destination films employ the invisible Mr Death instead of a psychotic serial killer to create elaborate chains of events that help the victims meet their inevitable, gory doom, which certainly adds range for more creative demises, evident within this film. And the additional casting of David Koechner (Anchorman / Talledega Nights), offering comic relief and Tony “The Candyman” Todd at his bone-chilling best, helps make FD5 that much more enjoyable.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an ardent follower of the franchise, or the horror genre in general. I enjoyed the first film, and tentatively viewed the second, but it seemed pointless continuing to watch the further instalments knowing what was in store every time and I’ll admit I lost some faith. However, this film has reawakened my love of the franchise, even made me fancy getting friends together for an FD marathon. The reason these films continue to get made is that people will continue to give them a chance. Whether they’re predictable or not plot-wise, audiences know more often than not that they will be entertained overall, and by offering a large budget and adding creativity to the mix, this certainly didn’t disappoint.

So in summary, original plot – no. Original deaths – definitely. Entertaining – absolutely. The best sequel since the first FD – quite possibly. As good without 3D – probably not, as guts flying towards your eyes does add a certain appeal. So see this film in the cinema while you can (or wait and watch on your 3D TV set if you’re lucky enough to own one).

In Cinemas Friday
Running Time: 92mins
Cert: 15

Monday, 22 August 2011

The Lovely Bones

A “Lovely” Film

Lover: Taken from IMDB
“This movie touches your heart, when you least expects. If you can relate your life with that of the girl then u can see the impact it creates. It can torn your heart down in pieces and still gives you something to cherish about it. Undoubtedly 1 of the best work in Hollywood ever.. "I was here for a moment, and then I was gone"”

I can totally see where this person is coming from, Lovely Bones is not just a film that contains the murder of a child it’s a touching study in grief and loss of a loved one.

Hater: Taken from IMDB
“Oh my! This was a horrible movie. It has been a while since I have seen one this bad. The acting was fine, everyone did a good job on that end, but the cut scenes to the acid trip land of Susie Salmon's "Heaven" were a waste of time. She never did anything there that impacted the story line. At least in "What Dreams May Come" there was a point to it. So here are some highlights of lack of logic and frustration for me:- Watching Mark Wahlberg, who they couldn't hide his frame under the 70's shirts, get beat up by a wimpy high schooler was completely bogus! - The ending with the icicle causing the killer to trip and fall off a cliff was horrible, watching Mark beat the crap out of him and throw him off a cliff would have been much better. - The LSD trip scenes of heaven were just plain boring. If Susie could have actually done anything to help her family that would have been good. - Mark's character welcoming his wife back after however long she had wimped out on her family was pretty bogus. - Mark's daughter holding the book of the killer to see his mom and dad have some fairy tale greeting and not saying, "Look, I found her killer, and he almost got me and may try again...Oh hi mom!" was completely stupid. - Many more..”

Although over the top and grossly exaggerated I can see where they are coming from. All the sequences in Susie’s Heaven do feel largely pointless if not however beautiful. I don’t think that’s a reason to write this film off though.

What I thought:

It’s a very tetchy area to get into when you adapt literature, especially when said material is so well loved. If there is one Director who is not afraid to get his hands dirty however it’s Peter Jackson, The man who took on Tolkien fanatics and won is the perfect man for the job. The Lovely Bones is the much loved story of Susie Salmon, an uncomplicated teenage girl who is tragically murdered. The story follows the aftermath; the family dealing with the grief, the police trying to catch the killer and of course the “afterlife” scenes with Susie as she decides whether to “pass on”.

In this day and age the murder of a young girl is also a subject that’s not comfortable to approach, fortunately for The Lovely Bones there is a lot more going on. Before you even start on the trippy sequences there is the family drama, with mother (Rachel Weisz) and Father (Mark Whalberg) both struggling to keep it together. Both play the roles excellently with Weisz’s character being largely unused and Whalberg showing us he can actually act, the latter becomes understandably obsessed with catching his daughters killer. In those scenes Marky Mark uses his usual angry spiel to play the father with some utterly convincing moments of manic obsession as he plagues the detective with phone calls and theories.

As far as acting goes The Lovely Bones has some fantastic muscle, Stanley Tucci almost unrecognizable and extremely hateable as the eponymous villain of the piece. Then there’s Susan Sarandon playing the boozy Nan and walking that fine line between tragic and funny superbly! Of course a lot of credit has to go to the casting of Saoirse Ronan as Susie Salmon, it’s such a stand out performance from someone so young, and her narration treating everything with such ambivalence it’s hard to feel anything but grief.

Then of course there is the issue of those difficult dreamy sequences in the afterlife, from giant ships in bottles to surreal landscapes it’s all quite the spectacle and the Director who astonished us with his Pelannor Fields handled each one with a sure hand. Subsequently every moment spent here is sublime with effects to match, however like the hater pointed out they can feel a little dragged out and disjointed from the story itself. It can make them feel pointless but then who are we to say what happens in the afterlife if indeed there is one, saying that she should be able to talk help her father for instance is like saying you want Unicorns to be friendly.

Lovely Bones should be viewed as a beautifully shot film about a young girl who lost her life tragically young, as she reflects on her life on the other side her family are left to cope. All of this watchable, heart warming and infinitely better than bloody “What Dreams may Come”!

Available on Blu-Ray and DVD
Running Time: 135 mins
Cert: 12

Friday, 19 August 2011

Cowboys and Aliens

And you thought Snakes on a plane had an obvious title……… By Martin Thomas

Hater: Taken from IMDB
"The plot had no cohesion making it difficult for many in the audience to get caught up in the film. That's a big surprise because if you don't empathize with the lead character, what's the point of an adventure film? Because of the director whom I really like, I had hoped that this would be better. I found myself trying hard to like the film but failing miserably. Despite the number of effects, they were very ho-hum as well. Favreau overworked and overthought this movie. What a shame but I guess the pressure was just too great.This disappointment reduces a collection of normally excellent actors in to roles in which they ham it up in mechanically orchestrated poses and predictable situations, not helped by a story that goes virtually nowhere coherent. There really wasn't smart source material to be had and the final product that hit the screen certainly proves that fact. All they managed to deliver was a mostly unfunny, unentertaining and silly romp in wasteoftimeville."

No plot? Really? Although I can see where they are coming from perhaps this viewer needs to ask themselves a question- exactly what plot were you expecting from a movie called Cowboys and Aliens? There are some Cowboys. There are some Aliens. They fight. To be fair to the movie, it promises nothing more than that, and what it does promise, it delivers. Whether or not you enjoy what it delivers is another point entirely…..

Lover: Taken from IMDB
"just saw the movie an hour ago. It's pretty damn good. I usually don't enjoy Science fiction films but this one is just a lot of fun to watch. The acting is very good all round , Daniel Craig , who strangely has most screen time yet not a lot of lines , acted very well. Harrison Ford is the best with the whole grumpy old man role. Olivia Wilde is .... gorgeous. Sam Rockwell acted as awesome as ever.The film also has a lot of good dialogues with quite some wit. The film has one or two instances which are kinda dumb (only one or two), but that shouldn't stop you from enjoying the film unless you're like those snobbish critics who believe that they are very intellectual and refuse to enjoy a film unless everything makes sense.This film is just a lot of fun to watch."

Some fair points made here, particularly the performances and the attractiveness of Olivia Wilde, but I have to disagree with the last point- its not ‘snobbish’ for a viewer to want a movie to make sense; it’s the least you should expect from any movie (unless you are massive David Lynch fan.)

What Martin thought:
So, one of this summers big blockbusters has arrived, and along with it, reasonably high expectations- A movie starring Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford? Directed by Iron Man’s Jon Favreau? With Olivia Wilde looking stunning? AND produced by king of the blockbuster himself Steven Spielberg? What can possibly go wrong? Well, quite a lot actually…….

First things first, there is that title. Stealing the title of ‘most obvious movie title…… ever!’ from previous champion Snakes on a Plane, Cowboys and Aliens has no pretensions to be anything other than a mindless summer blockbuster featuring, surprisingly enough, Cowboys and Aliens. And herein lies my main problem with this film- that’s all it is. Some Cowboys, and some Aliens. While it might seem churlish to criticise a movie titled Cowboys and Aliens for being nothing but Cowboys fighting Aliens- I’m going to.

But let’s mention the movie’s few positives: Daniel Craig play’s the strong silent type, and plays it well, but if that’s your type of thing- go watch Casino Royale. Likewise Harrison Ford, here clearly enjoying himself playing the no nonsense tough guy with a hidden heart of gold, but we have seen this done before, and done better- Indiana Jones, Hans Solo.

At a running time of 113 minutes, this movie simply does not hold your attention to justify two hours of your life. The set pieces are dull and a fine example of why CGI can not and will not ever replace a good old fashioned explosion. Although someone has clearly been studying (my polite way of saying plagiarising) HR Giger’s iconic Alien designs from the franchise of the same name, these aliens simply don’t work. They are a superior species with technology far beyond our comprehension? OK….. then, why the hell can they be killed by bows and arrows? An alien needs to be intimidating, the stuff of nightmares- something you can believe really is unstoppable and will kill you with ease (see Aliens, Predator etc), and herein lies my problem with this film; you are never really invited to empathise with the cowboys, feel that they are in peril, wonder ‘Jeez! How the hell will they defeat these guys?’ you simply sit, bored, wishing that the final set piece and inevitable victory for the good guys will hurry up. I don’t expect much from my summer blockbuster- have some witty one liners, preferably delivered by an engaging hero whom I wish to see succeed, a bad guy who places our hero in peril, and then throw in some explosions. Sadly, Cowboys and Aliens fails to deliver on any of these.

In Cinemas now
Running Time: 113 mins
Cert: 12

Monday, 15 August 2011

Super 8

Super Great?

Lover: Taken from IMDB
“When I went to see Super 8 I had pretty high expextations for this movie. Sitting in the theater I felt like I was watching one of Steven Spielberg's classics, like E.T., etc. The movie is fast paced, intense, and nostalgic but still managed to stay on topic. The movie was sprinkled with heartfelt moments. It shows the bonds of family and friendship. Leaving the film I had the story stuck in my head and for the next week I couldn't get it off my mind. So finally I made the decision to go see it again. Watching it for the second time I loved it even more. Films like this show that the movie industry hasn't lost its touch, no matter how many remakes it produces. Steven Spielberg and J.J. Abrams are the few directors that still make movies that mean something to the audience. This is a movie I will be buying. “

I agree completely with this review until the final 20 or so min of the movie, there I completely disagree…

Hater: Taken from IMDB
“Wish there was a 0 rating. The movie was absolutely awful, how many times will directors try to stuff ugly alien with amazing technology down our throat.Very slow narration and build up. Reminded me of Ang Lee trying to put a personality behind The Hulk. So many loopholes in this movie , we are to believe the thing kills its victims, okay it doesn't, what does it use them for? Just too predictable. We see the thing getting out of the train in the first bit and we have to almost wait an eternity to see its ugly head again, and its not worth it. For all the hype that was thrown its way it hasn't delivered, and anyone comparing it to ET, get a grip , a bit of bottle and see the doctor. The movies are poles apart. “

The comparisons to ET are justified but they are indeed poles apart and they are right the “monster reveal” is such a disappointing pay off.

What I thought:

If we are to believe what we have been led to believe by not just the PR with the posters, press releases and indeed the large majority of critics, we are watching a true postcard to the family flicks of not just Spielbergs’ career but that 80’s era. Sure enough Super 8 is a lovely story, the kids all well written and acted and so lovable you want to give them a cuddle. It’s got the right blend of adventure, comedy and “peril” that used to make these films so watchable. That is until the final third when I’ll be honest it feels like the writers just gave up.

The story of Super 8, being produced by Steven Spielberg has his fingertips all over it, a sad loss, a distant father and a group of friends. These young friends use a vintage Super 8 camera to make their own Zombie movie (much like the Director himself); during a shoot at a quiet train station they witness a train crash. Said train crash is spectacular and easily the best sequence in the whole film. Something escapes from the train and starts to terrorise this small US town, as the dogs run for the hills and people start going missing. It’s all very “been there got the t-shirt” however these early scenes are the best.

They are brimming with nice little family moments as the kids try desperately to get their film finished. Scenes with the “Creature” are very cloak and dagger only ever revealing very small amounts and the carnage it leaves behind. These early scenes are well written and directed, a nice dose of mystery with a feeling of Adventure as the kids try and get their film made (probably a movie itself without the creature). It’s the first two thirds of this movie that spell a perfect summer blockbuster. Then all of a sudden, like the damned train at the beginning it gets a bit derailed.

There’s a moment during the film, the army have stepped in and evacuated the town and everything’s going a bit crazy and it’s here the film gets confusing. I mean it’s easy to understand, just confusing because you wonder what happened to the film you were just watching. In the last climactic load of scenes you’re bombarded with what should have been great set pieces and heartfelt moments. Instead you have horribly miss judged moments between estranged fathers, exposition that feels made up on the spot and creature design that looks like a reject from the creature design from Cloverfield.

Nothings really explained with any real conviction and you’re supposed to just go with the ride, which would be fine if the ride was fun however just making the army’s weapons go haywire as an excuse to blow up the town doesn’t cut it. Super 8 is officially the most disappointing film of the year, the trailers, the early buzz the names involved it looked like Hollywood gold. The terrible sprint to the finish undermines all that went before unfortunately and leaves you hoping Cowboys and Aliens doesn’t do the same.

In Cinemas now
Cert: 12
Running Time: 112 mins

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Wasted On The Young

An Aussie Avenger By Lisa Holmes

Lover: Taken from IMDB

"Saw this at the Toronto International Film Festival. Thought it was stunning. A brilliant piece of film making. The story itself was compelling but also told in a way that did not reveal or signal. The use of dream sequences and flashbacks was great. The visuals were also outstanding, the underwater shots for me were unique. The large themes that were dealt with beyond the simple narrative made this film worth watching and it was done in a way that didn't hit you over the head. The music used also contributed greatly to the mood of the film. The choice to not show any adults, I recall only one teacher's voice but no shot of the teacher for example gave the film the Lord Of The Flies feel it needed to present this unique society which was an allegory for society at large. But all this done inside a suspenseful telling of a story that worked at the narrative level. Some very memorable line and scenes from this film. Loved it."

Hmm, visually there are some striking sequences in this film, memorable lines however? I’m not convinced, the large themes just about keep this film on track and on the right side of substance over style but there are certainly some issues with a Lord of the Flies reference. The action here is not depicting a gruesome descent in to primitive behaviour – instead it seeks to distance itself from the most violent scenes and views much of the emotion and physical action at a considerable remove. Not an entirely bad thing when you might not want to be creating ‘just another teenage thriller’ perhaps?

Hater: Taken from IMDB
"Australia has no adults nor authorities. This is a movie that at any time could have a realistic plot with the addition of post-teenage rationalism, but instead we are stuck with hormones and sterile egos.Is this what happens when there are no adults, no teachers, no authority figures, no police, no post-pubescent neighbors observing the self-servient and egotistical world of over-indulged, extremely privileged teens? This is Lord of the Flies redone with text messages. There is really no creativity here, no reality. The movie pits the brainiacs versus the jocks; the entitled versus the proletariat. Kudos to the acting skills of several of the members and the film crew did a good job. It's the plot that disappoints. There is no higher meaning, no layers to scrape away and discuss after the credits roll. This movie is obvious, superficial, and without redemption.Save time and instead of watching this, read something."

To easily dismissed and too easily swayed by the fact the story revolves around teenage protagonists and isn’t some kind of gritty urban drama, it’s much more classy than this reviewer thinks…

What Lisa thought:

Vacuous teen thrill fest, or stylish Aussie chiller with plenty of hidden depth? In short Wasted on the Young is both of these.
Set in a detached glossy and ultra modern world, inhabited by super rich teens devoid of any kind of social or parental supervision, reviewing this film in light of this week’s events feels like a very different exercise than it may have been last week. Personal and social responsibility is at the forefront of everyone’s minds right now, and some of this story resonates with ideas of violence, boredom and lack of recognition of authority.

The film has undoubted high productions values, it looks fabulous as it skips back and forward between fantasy and flashback using a washed out palette of blues and greys to differentiate from the bulk of the action. This at least elevates it above the usual round of teen movies.

Beautiful Xandrie (played by Adelaide Cummins, who looks strikingly like Michelle Williams) falls for computer geek Darren (Oliver Ackland) who just happens to be the step brother of the swim team captain and all round alpha male Zack (Alex Russell). So far so typical teenage film plot. But then a drug and alcohol fuelled party ensues at the brother’s sterile brick and glass home – they have been left to their own devices by their ever absent parents – and the film takes a darker turn.

One of the major stumbling blocks with the course of the film and in particular its ending is the almost gratuitous use of technology throughout, from indoor CCTV, to remote controlled devices. Whether this is a clever commentary on the increasing lack of physical contact between peers, the unreality of an action witnessed on a screen or via a live text feed, or as the ending seems to suggest, a unique method for the total abdication of personal responsibility.

Cyber bullying plays its part with Xandrie driven to her death by an online campaign, whilst Zack and the swim team are as idealised and feared as they have ever been. The implication being that social hierarchy is as impossible to surmount as it seems during our school days unless you have the backing of the nameless majority who have previously quietly accepted the status quo.

The most effective visual device is undoubtedly the use of the swimming pool throughout the film, visions of perfect bodies ploughing through seemingly bottomless black water, with eerie blue backlighting makes the solitary swimmers seem both single minded, and totally narcissistic. In this shallow world winning is all that matters.
Unfortunately it is the ending that lets the film down the most. What is apparently supposed to promote a chilling sense of detachment and acceptance of fate ends up cheapening the whole film and taking it in to pseudo-Saw territory.

I enjoyed this film even if it did not live up to its early promise. It looks good but the plot fails to pack the punch it is looking for. Ultimately the characters and the world they live in are just too shallow and too far removed from everyday life. They work well as beautiful, cautionary stereotypes. There have been better Australian films in the past year but Wasted on the Young is not a waste of your time, and it speaks volumes about a healthy and creative Australian film industry.

Available on DVD 15th August
Cert: 15
Running Time: 93 mins

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

New Film: The Guard

Looks a lot like In Bruge with Don Cheadle, however thats no bad thing In Bruge is a real dark horse of a movie!

Sergeant Gerry Boyle (Brendan Gleeson) is a small-town cop with a confrontational personality, a subversive sense of humour, a dying mother, a fondness for prostitutes, and absolutely no interest whatsoever in the international cocaine-smuggling ring that has brought FBI agent Wendell Everett (Don Cheadle) to his door. However, despite the fact that Boyle seems more interested in mocking and undermining Everett than in actively working to solve the case, he finds that circumstances keep pulling him back into the thick of it.

First his tiresomely enthusiastic new partner McBride disappears, then his favourite hooker attempts to blackmail him into turning a blind eye, and finally the drug-traffickers themselves try to buy him off as they have every other member of the local police force. These events unwittingly offend Boyle's murky moral code. He realises that he needs to take matters into his own hands, and the only person he can trust is Everett. And so the scene is set for an explosive finale.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Captain America: The First Avenger


Lover: Taken from IMDB
“I just got back from a special pre-screening (no they didn't show Avengers trailer but..) CA is awesome! I give it an 85 because there were some things they could improve on, but man was it awesome. I'd say Iron man is still #1, but CA is pretty dang close. It is par with Hulk and then comes Thor and IM 2. Yes I liked the Hulk, I couldn't figure out what fans didn't like about it, anyways another time. Great movie, I will for sure go see it again. I don't get why the critics are giving it bad reviews, I feel like they are now bias to comic book movies, or just don't understand what's going on in it. The only thing wrong with CA was that it wasn't 5 hours long, which makes sense, it was a little rushed, but whatever all the important pieces were there. It was great story telling, and man Chris Evans is Steve Rogers!!! The Red Skull was great too, an actual scary bad guy. And those of you who were worried, don't be there are Nazis and swastikas in it. It followed the comic almost perfectly, almost, you'll see what I mean, but I think for the movie universe it might just work out. The director did a perfect story telling job her, couldn't ask for anything better. I'd like to see some multiple emotional stories in a sequel as well as more bad guys. Anyways I'm pumped for Avengers (now we can see why CA is one of the greatest heroes in the Marvel Universe), and I will go see CA again tomorrow at midnight and again on Fri so hopefully I'll catch my Avengers trailer. This is one movie I don't mind paying for 2d or 3d, it's all about the story here”

Lots of praise and I agree the last Hulk wasn’t that bad at all! However it’s not as fool proof as they make out and the bad guy is anything but scary…

Hater: Taken from IMDB

“I didn't get what the fuss is all about until i saw the movie and realised it's a feel good movie for Americans then why bother releasing it in other countries . If ever there was a comic book movie not supposed to release outside u.s. it's this movie , a man covered in stripes branded with stars looking like an American clown fighting with dozens of Nazis,oh sorry hydra-what?,exactly . Overall this movie had no good action sequences to speak of , an almost forgettable climax , all our hero does is throw an olympic discus provided by howard stark and almost always looks like an average superhero with nothing special,either in charisma(contrary to batman) or powers(contrary to almost every other superhero). I left the movie halfway through , intolerable to say the least “

Well my first criticism here is the same with anyone who has said they left the movie half way through, you’re in no position to judge! Especially I might add when you mention the ending in your review!? The American thing was a worry I’ll admit but I think they pulled it off and I’ll tell you for why…

What I thought:

Let’s get the obvious comparisons out of the way; Captain America (aka The First Avenger) is not as good as Thor. The man wearing the American flag is not a bad film either; it’s well paced, really funny in places and has some kick ass set pieces. However there is a but and it’s a pretty big one unfortunately.

Captain America is a comic book movie about a boy who wants to fight the Nazi’s, he’s small, pigeon chested and with a list of ailments as long as his weedy arms. He is however an honourable man with the best intentions, he more than makes up for his lack of size with his courage and for that reason picked for a secret Super Soldier programme. He puts on a bit of muscle and becomes Captain America, a human being at the peak of human capabilities and then some. Off to fight the Nazis and his nemesis The Red Skull (snigger).

Firstly to the failing in this movie and the most laughable, these heroes are nothing without decent bad guys let’s face it. Thor’s Loki was a brilliant character and so well played, that’s not to say Hugo Weavings performance as the Red Skull is not good, in fact he’s perfect but even he is undermined by all this “Hydra” stuff. Now I know it’s in the comics but do they all really need to be wearing those ridiculous masks, making them nothing more than faceless disposable henchmen? Not to mention they’re faux Nazi salute (A ridiculous two fists in the air) getting sniggers from an audience every time they do it (in my cinema anyway).

Another thing that troubled me I will again need to reference Thor to explain, a mythical world, warring God’s and mystical powers seem a little far-fetched in this particular Marvel reality. Somehow though it was accepted and worked so well, this is because it was for the most part separate from our world, Asgard is easy to accept within its own reality. A “Deep Science” division of the Nazi party during one of the most documented times in recent history is not so lucky. Stop there you may say, Nazi’s have been used in such a way before, take the occult link in Indiana Jones? That however is more plausible. Their Nazi officers wear Nazi uniforms and call themselves Nazi’s, Hydra does not and in the words of Anne Robison “They are the weakest link”.

Despite all of the above I really did enjoy Captain America, its origins story is slow moving but with heartfelt moments that never really get too cheesy, focusing more on the character than his name and using his first use as a money making tool to dumb down the whole “American thing”. It’s also littered with really funny moments and I’m talking belly laughs, my favourite being Tommy Lee Jones announcing “I aint kissing ya!”. It also has some of strongest action in a Marvel film to date, Captain America has no advanced techno armour or some massive tool of the gods. He has his fists, guns, wits and of course a great big shield, this means ol cap gets the best opportunity for ass kickery in the whole Marvel Canon.

In Cinemas now
Running Time: 124 mins
Cert: 12

Monday, 8 August 2011

New Film: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

A brilliant one here Gary Oldman leads an incredible cast in this thriller.

The spy thriller features a stellar cast including Gary Oldman, Kathy Burke, Benedict Cumberbatch, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, Ciarán Hinds, John Hurt, Toby Jones, Konstantin Khabensky, Svetlana Khodchenkova, Roger Lloyd Pack, and Mark Strong. Directed by Tomas Alfredson (“Let The Right One In”) it is a Working Title production for STUDIOCANAL.

Set in the 1970s, TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY finds George Smiley (Gary Oldman), a recently retired MI6 agent, doing his best to adjust to a life outside the secret service. However, when a disgraced agent reappears with information concerning a mole at the heart of the Circus, Smiley is drawn back into the murky field of espionage. Tasked with investigating which of his trusted former colleagues has chosen to betray him and their country, Smiley narrows his search to four suspects - all experienced, urbane, successful agents - but past histories, rivalries and friendships make it far from easy to pinpoint the man who is eating away at the heart of the British establishment.

The screenplay is by Peter Straughan and Bridget O’Connor and the film, which was shot in London, Budapest and Istanbul is produced by Working Title’s co-chairmen Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner and Robyn Slovo. The executive producers are Debra Hayward, Liza Chasin, Douglas Urbanski, Peter Morgan, Olivier Courson, Ron Halpern and John le Carré.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

New Film: Warrior

The Inception scene stealing Tom Hardy takes on Ultimate Fighting before Bane in Warrior. Click on the link bellow for the chance to win a Mitsubishi L200 Warrior pick-up! via the films facebook page.

An ex-Marine haunted by a tragic past, Tommy Riordan (Hardy) returns to his hometown of Pittsburgh and enlists his father (Nick Nolte), a recovered alcoholic and his former coach, to train him for an MMA tournament awarding the biggest purse in the history of the sport. As Tommy blazes a violent path towards the title prize, his brother, Brendan (Edgerton), a former MMA fighter unable to make ends meet as a public school teacher, returns to the amateur ring to provide for his family. Even though years have passed, recriminations and past betrayals keep Brendan bitterly estranged from both Tommy and his father.

But when Brendan’s unlikely rise as an underdog sets him on a collision course with Tommy, the two brothers must finally confront the forces that tore them apart, all the while waging the most intense, winner-takes-all battle of their lives.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Cars 2

The Black Sheep of the Pixar family is back

Lover: Taken from IMDB
“Cars 2 is about Star race car Lightning McQueen and his pal Mater head overseas to compete in the World Grand Prix race. But the road to the championship becomes rocky as Mater gets caught up in an intriguing adventure of his own: international espionage. For Disney/Pixar this is much different compared to Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Cars, Up, Wall-E, Monsters INC., Ratatouille, Toy Story 2, The Incredibles, A Bug's Life, And Toy Story 3. All have been Wonderful Films. Cars (2006) has been rated as the lowest rating of Pixar. But i thought it was wonderful. Cars 2 has the same formula. If you don't like Larry The Cable Guy, you will not enjoy this movie. He outshines Lightning McQueen, by being the main character. this film comes with my highest recommendation.”

It is different from the rest of the Pixar Canon but this is not a good thing in this case and sadly Larry the Cable Guy’s turn as Mater is more annoying when the focus is on him, or is that just me?

Hater: Taken from IMDB

“How sad to rate this movie "awful" - but that's what it was. Really, I LOVE Pixar films - I even really liked Cars 1 - but this movie fails on so many levels. I saw this movie with my husband and he's in agreement - Cars 2 was not good. It was too busy and loud, so many things going on at once it all just sort of blended together. The trusty and likable old characters were relegated to the back burner, leaving Mater and some unlikable new characters to carry the show. I didn't give a hoot about the new characters, the plot was convoluted and lame, and it just wasn't funny. Honestly, I may have laughed once or twice, but that was it! It wasn't really geared toward young children, and the other adults in the theater seemed to be as bored as we were. Half way through the movie I found myself thinking "when is this thing gonna get better?" Then answer was - never. If you must see it, rent it and save yourself some money. Pixar - you owe us one for this stinker!”

Cars 2 however is not a stinker, the runt of the litter it may be but Cars 2 is still full of the pure wonderful inventiveness and complete immersion in its world that is a Pixar hallmark. I feel there is to much of one person’s bias here, which is fine it’s what these online things are for however when reading remember the only and best judge of a film is yourself.

What I thought:
When the first Cars came out it almost straight away became the black sheep of the Pixar family. It’s vehicular persuasion of its characters making them not as emotionally attachable. The story is not as complex or as layered making this the most kiddie friendly fair they ever made. Since then Cars has gone on to make lots of money through merchandising alone. The second was an obvious choice to make, in the eyes of the kids Cars is fun, easy to understand and an immensely rich environment to explore.
So what of the sequel, does it meet the expectations of the crowd it’s really aiming for?

Well for the majority yes, for such films I always look to the opinion of my twin boys. 5 years of age and the perfect judge of such things, when one during the film seems more interested in the projector I fear the attention grabbing habit of Pixar films is lacking here. Only a little as the only other interruption was for a toilet break, which you’d forgive a 5 year old. To the point however they laughed at the foolish oaf of a tow truck in the right places and looked on in awe when they put cars into set pieces that could rival the best of action directors.

So from their perspective it was a fun joyride that expanded hugely on the world for Cars that has been oh so lucrative of the people at Pixar and Disney. Adult viewers however will lose interest fairly quickly; Mater is a funny sidekick not a leading role, his usual horribly silly shtick grates on the nerves as the ever likeable but predictable Lightning McQueen takes a back seat. There are two strands running through Cars 2, one is a worldwide grand prix that McQueen is dying to win. All of that set against what is essentially a spy film in the cars world as Michael Caine’s Fin McMissle Blasts and “Car-Fu’s” his way through foes.

That part of this story is the most impressive and had it been the main focus would have been a blast, instead we are left with a left with a “what could have been” with a big goofy teethed grin.

In Cinemas: Now
Running Time: 106 mins
Cert: U

Friday, 5 August 2011

Source Code

Sci-fi how it should be

Lover: Taken from IMDB

“What a movie. The price is worth paying. This movie gets straight to the point. You know you see a lot of movies that waste so much time getting into a story. Not this film, virtually from the off, we are there, in the film. It's like there is no beginning, but middle and an end. Obviously you guys know the storyline so I'll not waste time telling you what it is about, just go and see it. It is a film that keeps you looking, you actually feel like you are 'in the source code' which is fantastic. The only downside to this film is that it feels short, it was 93 minutes but it simply flies by. Maybe that is a good thing? Shows how good this film was! GO CHECK IT OUT!”

The running time is a good thing, it’s sci-fi subject matter may ask to many questions of the viewer but the movie moves at a great pace keeping you on tenterhooks and your attention on the pressing matter of the train blowing up.

Hater: Taken from IMDB

“This movie shamelessly uses computer science (specifically computer programming) jargon (about 5-10 terms, like "specification", "drivers", "Source Code", etc) for a completely different purpose. For the kind of arrogant bullshit this movie presents (which is NOT science fiction, it's the new genre: bullshit fiction) it should be banned for reasons of subculture and attacking the sanctity of computer science, the most advanced and helpfull science we've got, the pinacle of civilization. The dialog is complete bs, not just because of the misused jargon, but mainly because it tries hard to be militaristic and "sf" (trust me, it's actually bullshit fiction).”

Labelling this film “Bullshit” and the filmmakers arrogant is as unfounded as claiming this person understands the reason a film is Science Fiction. I bet this person hates Star Wars because it’s to ‘far fetched’.

What I thought:
The real highlight of Source Code is the ever growing ability of Duncan Jones, a man who along with Neil Blomkamp (District 9) and Gareth Edwards (Monsters) have shown us just how cool and thought provoking Sci fi can and should be! His Moon was an excellent example of this cranium cranking science fiction that has been sorely missed from the genre. Source Code is what this man can do for a big Studio and thankfully it does not disappoint.

Our hero is Coulter Stevens, an American Pilot unwittingly part of a military operation called “Source Code”. The idea is to be transported into the last few minutes of someone’s memory, in this environment to be used to stop a Terrorist attack. He re lives the last 8 mins of a man on a train set to blow; his mission is to find the bomber. A fairly simple premise but completely chock full of ideas and moments for intense discussion.

That discussion could possibly spoil the film as the hater review may have pointed out for you, it’s full of scientific ideas that you can’t really get your head around but then that can be said for a lot of Sci-fi. This is where the running time and the pace comes brilliantly into place, moving the film along fast enough for you to keep your questions at the back of your mind. Really all your interested in is, who is it? How does he do it? How it’ll end? Source Code is a tight tense thriller with breathing space for a little romance, comedy and a little action thrown in for good measure.

On DVD and Blu-Ray: 15th August
Running Time: 93 mins
Certificate: 12

Monday, 1 August 2011

Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban

The bar had been set.

Lover: Taken from IMDB
“Alfonso Cuarón's masterful adaptation does the source material immeasurable justice by exploring its underlying concepts in an intelligent manner. Of course, it certainly helps that the aesthetics of the film are incredible, the acting remains stellar (and the trio of young actors handle their roles admirably), and John Williams offers an amazing (and eclectic) score. Character development is superb - Steve Kloves penned a great script. First-time and young viewers will likely enjoy the film for its merits based on plot and 'adventure' alone, but it takes multiple viewings and a critical eye to enjoy the abstract ideas and nuances. Cuarón himself credited the source material as being laden with real-world issues: oppression, racism, loneliness, power, friendship, justice and so forth. This is the Harry Potter film that stands on its own and as a tremendous cinematic achievement. It challenges viewers and yet doesn't patronize them or attempt to offer answers to all of the questions presented. For instance, the ending is bittersweet at best and retains a healthy amount of ambiguity. If you've never read the books or understood the acclaim of the series as a whole, watch Cuarón's 'Prisoner of Azkaban' and you'll understand why this entry is clearly the zenith of the seven.”

A good review, very true.

Hater: Taken form IMDB

"I am a devout fan of the Harry Potter series, however, when I saw the Prisoner of Azkaban, needless to say, I was utterly disappointed. I was offended with the way the director decided to portray the Dementor's Kiss. Dementors do NOT suck out the happy thoughts, and so causing the soul to come out of the mouth. This movie was a disgrace to the Harry Potter movies and I hope the director burns in Hell. Secondly, what the hell happened to the Quidditch Final?! Gryffindor winning that match is a major plot point and cannot be cut then filled with some stupid choir singing a rip-off of Shakespeare. Although not a main character, it was indeed a shame to lose Sir Cadogan. I appreciate that certain characters and scenes need to be cut from the final edit, but to totally disregard the main plot and replace it was some cheap imitation is unforgivable. Also, I was disgusted the way the director 'Americanised' this movie by making the students run around in non-uniform. Perhaps it would be a better idea to get someone who knows the British culture and ask him/her to direct instead.This movie is a total disgrace and should be remade by someone a lot better than Alfonso Cuarón.”

A “Disgrace” and the “Director should burn in hell”? Wow, that’s pretty harsh. This Harry Potter fan clearly getting their knickers in a twist over what are negligible changes from the book, the truth is they were never going to like it.

What I thought:
Azkaban as a book is a big step forward from Chamber of Secrets, It prepares the younger audience for the horror's that come. With Warewolves, Mass Murderers, Prisoners on the run and of course the Dementours. All of which had to be handled with the right kind of dread mixed with the magic of the first two. In came Alfonso Cauron and his almost dark fairy tale feel to the third instalment of the Harry Potter franchise. It is a testament to the Directors eye and the rest of the creative team that the style they went for stuck for the rest of saga. Take for instance Hogwarts itself, the entire look and feel of the place changed. The Whomping Willow was moved and a strange gothic stone circle appeared.

Ok so the films got more interested in realism as they went on, slipping more and more into our world to reflect Voldermorts almost omnipresence. Here is where this all started though and sadly in my humble opinion as a Harry Potter fan was never bettered. For me this style works wonderfully, the plot winds through what is effectively a thriller, with Serious Black as the ominous dark cloud over all preceding’s. The children starting to show some real maturity, the effects finally catching up with the likes of Buckbeak, various transformations and the Dementours all complete a great film.

It must be said I’m a little biased towards this book as my favourite character makes his first appearance. The shabby looking but oh so likeable Remus Lupin (I have his wand, no really I do), played to perfection by David Thewlis who gives Lupin just the right amount pathos behind those pale eyes. Of course that brings me to the adult casting which yet again excels, Gary Oldman as Sirius Black and Emma Thompson is Trewlaney is inspired casting!

The first wo Harry Potters were a wonderful joyride for kids but for anyone who’s read the books, Harry’s journey is far from those early days. Azkaban started off a whole new look and feel to the Potter series and set the bar for all subsequent entries.

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.