Saturday, 23 July 2011

'Horrible Bosses' - 2011

FINALLY, a new film worth writing about. 'Hangover', get the fuck out of here, 'Horrible Bosses' just owned you. All I will say about 'Hangover 2' here, is that it is DULL in comparison to this film. And you have to compare them, because they have the same basic concept - a trio of friends with a hard-to-reach, against all odds goal. Moving on...

Credit to the writers - Michael Markowitz, John F. Daley and Jonathon Goldstein, clever, tightly written comedy, with more unusual and risky jokes than we're used to seeing (Colin Farrell mocking a man in a wheelchair - brilliant). I applaud you.

Anything with Kevin Spacey is always worth a watch. He is one of the most creditable and successful actors in the world. From the first trailer, I knew I had to see it. I had a small doubt when I saw Jen Aniston, but...i'll admit it, she surprised me here. Looking sexier than ever, she played the part of the fiendishly, criminally dirty boss perfectly. She has found her new role in movies. It was great to see her doing something different, and more grown up, finally moving away from her innocent Friends era. It's been a long time coming. It was great to see talented and sometimes unexpected actors in smaller roles - Lindsay Sloane, for example, who I first remember in my memory as a friend of Sabrina the teenage witch, but has been popping up in many places recently (at least, more prolific places than 5-10 years ago).

The characters were what made this film stand out, and the actors all brought the characters to life. There was a genuine and natural chemistry that came across on the screen, and it made the characters distinctive and believable, even in their ridiculous venture. With other actors, the oral comedy could quickly become boring, cliche and redundant, but the performances from Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis and the rest of the cast all stand out from anything in recent memory. For me, Charlie Day requires a special mention; Many moments of comedy came from his quick and unhinged tongue. A small thing I really liked about this film is the few references to popular culture - very cleverly done; as a taster, there is a certain cut-scene which involved 'The Notebook' on a netbook and some teary eyes in the audience, and a stylish and subtle reference to 'The Great Gatsby' which goes almost unnoticed - there's also a fantastic, naturally edited scene between the three friends and Motherfucker Jones (Jamie Foxx) where they discuss the intricacies of a film that they may or may not have seen in relation to their predicament. Really nicely done.

The story itself is a dark comedy about three friends who decide to kill their bosses. The story beginning is textbook perfect, as we're introduced to each case individually (each situation brilliantly set-up and introduced), and then we are the fourth man at a table with the three of them, as they discuss the ins and outs of their working lives. One thing leads to another, and sooner or later we're seeing and hearing about rape, murder, assisted homocide, sexual harassment, loose fillings, blackmail and all that great stuff that I love. It's just fucking great to see a comedy that has low moral standards (as low as mine).

It's eventually wrapped up very cleverly and unexpectedly, just as you begin to think there is no end in sight (not that you're bored, but you're sort of expecting it and then it doesn't come). I won't spoil it.

The credits were great; fresh sounding soundtrack and it's always nice to have outtakes, to connect you more with the actors and the process, and then slowly bring you out of the movie 'disbelief' zone. As the final outtake broke into the black screen with the SUPER 'Horrible Bosses', I was still laughing and smiling. The film is a credit to all involved, and will not be forgotten for a long time.

I just hope they don't bring out a 'Horrible Bosses 2'.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Recent Viewings

Hello everyone, today i'd like to update you with some of my recent viewings and recommendations.

Distant Voices, Still Lives - A unique, almost special British film with the now passed Pete Postlethwaite, as a wife-beating father of two, in post-war Britain. Must see. Really something different, beautifully realised.

Au Revoir Les Enfants - This is a beautiful little french film set in Occupied France in a Catholic boarding school. It's a beautifully woven narrative about two boys - one a genuine Catholic and one a Jew in hiding - and documents their early differences, and their gradual friendship, followed by tragedy. Again, a really great film, can't recommend enough.

Four Lions - Really funny, with a strong - though sometimes contradicted - subtext. It's about a group of Muslim friends who are desperate to blow something - anything - up. Though they just can't seem to succeed.

Revolutionary Road - I decided to watch the film after reading the book. I'm a huge fan of Yates' work, but I was bitterly disappointed with the film. I don't think Kate Winslet deserved any awards for it, and it was a bad decision to cast her - she acted poorly, and out of character compared to the source material - either because the source was poorly adapted, or the film was poorly directed (funnily enough, by her Husband). Conclude what you will from that. Leonardo Di Caprio does well in the film, and pretty much holds it up. The ending also seemed rushed, and lost a lot of its meaning due to crucial scenes being cut from the final film, effectively destroying what I feel was the Authors intended conclusion. Aside from Winslet's poor performance (which isn't definitely her fault), the cinematography and music are stunning, and definitely well suited to the tone and pace of the story. Worth a watch, but not before anything else on this list.

Lady Vengeance - Beautifully filmed, but for fans of Old Boy (such as myself), maybe a little bit slow in the beginning, with seemingly superfluous scenes early on. However, once it's started, it's worth staying with for the excellently planned spiral of an ending. Recommend.

So go and watch some of these films when you get time - and check back soon, for my review of the brilliant Submarine.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

RIP Elizabeth Taylor

I will have to make more effort to see more of her films. It's always sad to see legendary actors and actresses pass, but in this case, the feeling is amplified due to her immense beauty and charisma, which was as radiant as ever, until the end.

I hope she's somewhere better off.

Click on the news header above, for the full story at IMDB.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

The Last Metro (1980)

The Last Metro is a wonderful French film made in the year 1980, starring Gerard Depardieu (in a relatively early role) and Catherine Deneuve (in a relatively late role).

The story is set during WW2 in Nazi occupied France, and progresses from just before the occupation of the free-zone, to beyond the end of the war. Marion Steiner is now running a theater previously run by her Jewish husband, who is in hiding. We later find out he is hiding in the basement, and she visits him nightly. He must stay there, concealed from the Germans for as long as it takes. Then Bernard Granger comes for an audition at the theater, and the story really gets moving. The pacing of the story is very well played, as little bits of information and revelations of character are revealed only when absolutely necessary; just as the audience is beginning to wonder what next?

That's the base of the story. It's great though, because it's about so many other things and has some very political themes, but it doesn't choke us with them. They are very much the undertone of the film. It's about small communities operating under difficult conditions. It's about the theater, and the community aspect of the theater, struggling to continue under occupation, in extreme circumstances (a new female Director/actress, also attempting to learn the financial side of things). Then, it's about love and friendships; how relationships are shaped during wartime. How some people take advantage of the difficult situation, even if it means going against their fellow citizens.

All of the characters have depth; fears, desires, motives. Even the supporting actors: the stage-hand, I forget his name, is insecure about his physical attributes (understandably), and lies to those he's worked with for years, to appear more succesful in love. Germaine, the supporting acrtress in their play, has an unbeatable urge to become a film and stage star, and seems willing to work harder than anybody else to succeed in that. The main characters are developed extremely well too.

The only controversy for me, personally, is the film's ending. It is very much open to interpretation. It's not that I have anything against open-ended movies, it's just that this particular movie seems to call for something more conclusive. We've come so far with these characters, and invested so much time in hoping that her Jewish Husband will live through the occupation, that we need to know who she decides to stay with. The final scene depicts Marion, her Husband, and her lead actor/lover, up on stage together. At first, it is just Marion and Bernard on the stage, enjoying the applause of the audience. Then, Lucas (the Husband) is brought up from his directors seat in the shadows, and she stands on the end, holding Bernards hand. She then makes it a point, to move between them, and smiles at them both, happily stuck in the middle. It is absolutely unclear which man she has chosen.

The only clue, is in the minutes preceeding the scene above. In their latest play, Marion and Bernard are again opposite each other. Barnard is a war casualty, and she is his lover or girlfriend. She visits him in the hospital, kisses him passionately, and then the play ends. It's either a nod to their new relationship status, or a hint that their relationship is still strictly professional.

Despite the unconventional ending, The Last Metro is a beautiful film. It has a setting which offers the plot extended meaning, and well developed characters. It's a celebration of the enduring nature of the theater as a form of art and entertainment. I would watch it again if the chance was offered, and I recommend it to anyone reading this blog. It's now one of my favourites from Director/Writer Francois Traffaut.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

General Update and Waffle.

Well, I apologise to my readers, if there are any! Almost two months since my last post. I've been having some serious ISP issues. However, I am assured an engineer will be out to me on the 30th of March to fix things, and hopefully i'll be posting regularly again after that.

So do not panic. Life has continued outside of the blog as normal. My start to this year has been odd. I feel like the greyhound who's burst out of his stall at the track, only to find a very well constructed brick wall across my lane...Enough metaphors though.

First of all, I want to mention Jane Russell. Another true Hollywood legend has gone and left us. And wasn't she stunning? My God. Wherever she is now, i'll bet doors are being opened for her.

Now, i've been crazy busy with University work. So much reading, writing and research to do. I've really been enjoying a few Authors. Hemingway (Fiesta), Yates (Revolutionary Road) and several playwrights. I've also been researching stage history, in particular Lorca and other European playwrights.

I've been watching a crazy number of movies; a riotous mix of old and new. Just to name a few -

Citizen Kane
The Killers (Ava Gardner, Burt Lancaster 1946)
Black Swan/The Wrestler
The Kings Speech
Mean Streets
The Godfather Trilogy (again)
Road To Perdition
Many Almodovar films
Pan's Labyrinth
And God Created Woman

...and so many more. It's ridiculous how many films i've devoured. Nevermind that i've watched the entire Sopranos boxset in six weeks. If this wasn't what I called research, i'd feel a bit sad about giving so much time to film and TV.

I have to give mention to the BFi Southbank for showing a beautiful little film, by Francois Traffaut, called Small Change. It documents the children, their relationships with each other and the adults around them, in a small town in France. I won't go into too much detail, but the film depicts various scenarios that we can all relate to, and made me feel very child-like and free.

Something that's been bothering me; why don't the people on The Wright Stuff (channel 5) shut their mouths? The morning after the Oscars, they're sitting there debating the validity of the awards, and their place in society...blah, blah, blah. I wouldn't mind if any of them at least had a passive interest in film, beside what they read about in The Daily Mail on their way home each day. But when they're coming out with true pearls of wisdom such as, "I suppose the Oscars are good 'caus they let you know what you should watch", they really should not be discussing the Oscars, or any other film awards/festivals/business. Ignorant fools. I may not be a fan of the Hollywood/Studio system, but that's where the ball got rolling, and that's where some of the best films of all time have been conceived. If you don't like the Oscars, don't watch them.

At the moment, i'm developing several ideas for ten minute plays for my Drama module. I'm very busy in general, trying to sort a few things out in life, but i'll be back with you and updating regularly, with in depth reviews and interesting blogs, as soon as possible.

I almost forgot, I finally found some time a few weeks ago to test my new camcorder and tripod. My wonderful girlfriend decided to be the subject. I've decided the camera will be adequate enough to begin work on producing some of my own short scripts. Here's the film:

Enjoy and comment/rate. Peace.

P.S. Boycott BT.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Bad News

Unfortunately, my first post of 2011 is to report the passing of a true, military legend. Here is a link:

I hope you all can spare a moment of thought for Major "Dick" Winters, as well as the other Veterans who pass away daily. They're from a generation quite seperate from ours, and without them, who knows what shape the world would be in today.

I urge everybody to read "Band Of Brothers", as well as "Citizen Soldiers", and then watch the acclaimed miniseries, to see the man "in action". The interviews with Winters are an absolute must, in understanding the mind of a proven combat leader, as well as a caring, understanding human being, in an extraordinary situation.

May he Rest in Peace.