Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Half arsed one sentence reviews.

Zack and Miri make a Porno - 7/10

Definite saturday night fodder, but that doesn't mean its not rather good.

Pride and Glory - 8/10

Intricately built story with some stellar acting.

Gomorrah - 8/10

Dark and gritty, the real Italian underworld.

Pineapple Express - 8/10

Not as funny as Superbad, bit more slapsticky.

I really wanted to properly review all these, but its exam time and not got enough spare time. So there, it is four premium half-assed reviews.

Saturday, 8 November 2008


In keeping with my reviewing just after watching, here is Oliver Stone's new film W.. About the life and presidency of George W. Bush. Still got a lot of back reviews to do, but they are all going to be short as they are gradually slipping from my mind.

Dubya. This film surprised me, in a few ways. The first being that Oliver Stone was able to make what is a rather impartial biography of George Bush Jnr. The second being Josh Brolin's excellent portrayal of the man himself and the third being Thandie Newton- which I'll get to later.

Looking first at the film as a whole, it is well shot, with good costumes, set, acting, everything. But then, nothing really happens. The fact is, that despite all his gaffs and mis-quotes, George Jnr. presidency never really had the excitement of a Watergate or an assasination. At times it begins to feel like sitting through a lecture as we are stuck in the middle of long political debates and discussions. It's just that George W.'s life wasn't really suited to a biopic. As a result of this, Stone tries to focus more on his relations with his father and with God. These sections provide the most interesting moments in the film, dealing covertly with his alcoholism and portraying a very typical American family unit.

On to Josh Brolin. He is in a word, brilliant. I was intially very sceptical when I heard he was attached to the project, however, he does excellently at replicating Bush's mannerisms without having it turn into a characiture. He also succeds in showing a softer side to Bush, in his treatment of Bush's dealings with his wife and God.

Now Thandie Newton, what is she doing with her voice. Admittedly, I've not heard Condoleezza Rice speak that often, but I am pretty sure she does not sound anything like Thandie Newton interpretation. After, just having praised Brolin for avoiding turning his Bush into a characiture, Newton comes along and does a SNL impression. She is usually one of my favourite actresses as well.

Final word, cause there is too much noise and I want to watch Life is Beautiful. Good film, hindered by a bad president on which to make it about. Had Brolin's performance been in a different film, I think there could have been Oscars a calling.


Monday, 3 November 2008

Quantum of Solace.

New James Bond, so all the other reviews I've been meaning to do have been bumped down. 

Quantum of Solace.

The difficult second movie.  So is it as good as Casino Royale? No, but it is still good, just a few wrong turns have seen Bond's latest outing slip below the admittedly high standards of Casino. The problems start near the very beginning, with the first chase scenes, Marc Forster adopts the Bourne ideal that all actions scene should be filmed with very lots of close-up shots and that there should be a ridiculous amount of cuts in a short space of time. This provides a headache more than anything and was the primary reason for me why the first two Bourne movies were so bad that I didn't even watch the third.  Fortunately, Forster changes tack later on in the film and begins to include some wider, longer shots that were a great relief and made for much more appealing action sequences. The other problem with this Bond movie is the plot. It seems to leave quite a lot unexplained and I felt that the end of movie had a very rushed feeling about it.

On to the good points then, the main one being Bond himself, or rather Daniel Craig. He manages for me to perfectly portrays Bond's psychological struggle and his attempts to find his Quantum of Solace. Daniel Craig really makes this movie what it is, and is already for me one of the best Bond's ever.  Olga Kurylenko is also quite excellent, she is a different sort of Bond girl, less of a shag 'em and bag 'em type and more of a real character, with development. One scene in particular where she is reliving a traumatic childhood memory is excellent, her eyes convey brilliantly the characters fear. Mathieu Amalric is also very frightening as a suave sophisticated 'villain'. This is helped I think by him just being a pretty scary looking guy in the first place anyway. The rest of the cast are just there as filler for me, even Judy Dench doesn't really make a lasting impression. 

I feel had they given themselves another half hour of screen time, then used it develop the plot rather than blow more things up this could have been even better than Casino Royale. However, they didn't, and it isn't, so there you go.


Burn After Reading.

It's now been far too long since I actually seen this movie but I shall attempt to write about it all the same.  Laziness is my biggest fault and it is now showing through quite clearly in my output on this blog.  Ahwell, it is just basically for myself anyway.

Burn After Reading.

I have never known a Coen Brothers movie to divide opinion in my friends as much as this one.  All the girls hated it, and all the guys loved it.  That is not to say that this is a guy's movie, a bit gory at some points for some people maybe but no more so a thousand other movies around just now.  The girls main complaint was that there 'wasn't a plot,' which I can understand to an extent as the movie does leave a somewhat hollow feeling.  But the point is this is not No Country for Old Men, this is a comedy and as a comedy I thought it was the most genuinely funny Coens movie I have seen.  It delighted me to hear that they wrote the script for this at the same time as No Country... taking one day for one script and the next for the other, writing Burn After Reading when they needed something a little more light-hearted to work on.  And that is exactly what this movie is, a little more light-hearted than No Country.  Sure it won't win Best Picture, but that does not stop it being a rather good movie.

George Clooney and John Malkovich are the two strongest performers for me, managing to make the outlandish twists and turns of the script feel real and grounded.  Frances McDormand is good also, but there is just something about her that I don't really like.  That sounds harsh, probably because it is but there you have it.  The same goes for Tilda Swinton, although a little more justly I feel as she is somewhat one dimensional in this film.  Brad Pitt is a difficult one for me in this film, he is the source of most of the laughs, but I feel took the dull-witted stupidity of his character too far and ended up losing the grounded feeling brought by Malkovich and Clooney.

Well, as expected from the Coens the movie is brilliantly shot and paced.  They constantly change the pace around in a way that with lesser directors could become disorientating, but somehow just adds more to the experience I feel.  I did say this would be a long one, but I have left it too long now, I need to try and write these a lot fresher from the movie.


Friday, 24 October 2008

Ghost Town.

I'm trying to write these reviews a little more fresh from the movie, as I have been waiting a few days sometimes before writing them and it just means my thoughts stew together and get convoluted.  It seems that usually I think clearest just after having seen a movie, even if later on I don't always agree with myself.  So, despite having a few backdated reviews still to do, I am going to review Ghost Town as I have just came out of it.

Ghost Town.

So here is Ricky Gervais in his first title role, playing, well himself... if he was a dentist.  He does it rather well and is the funniest and best thing about the movie, however, he is sitting firmly in his comfort zone of uncomfortable awkward comedy.  Other than the laughs provided by Ricky Gervais the rest of the characters just seem superfluous, Greg Kinnear is just plain annoying most of the time, and Tea Leoni is only really there to provide something more 'real' for Gervais' comedy to bounce off of.  
As for the story, it is not good.  It borrows from many other movies, and feels distinctly similar to many others.  It all goes a bit midday Tv movie complete with cheesy lines and happy endings (I don't feel like that is giving too much away, it is a 12A after all.)  One scene in particular gave had me and my friend in hysterics as it seemed to be taken directly from the forgotten classic that is Just Like Heaven.  It was entertaining and diverting enough, you just felt at some times like they would shut-up with some of the dialogue and get to where you knew they were going with the plot.

All that being said, it was quite an enjoyable experience, I like Ricky Gervais and even the predictable and soppy story couldn't put that much of a dampener on the movie.


It seems that I have seen a lot of average movies lately, don't worry review of Burn After Reading is forthcoming, just have to psyche myself up for that one, as I think once I get going in will be hard not to ramble off into infinity.  

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Stone of Destiny.

Stone of Destiny.

Stone of Destiny is a story about Scottish Patriotism.  It is a story set in Glasgow, and Glasgow Uni no less.  It is a story about getting one over on the english.  And it has Pippin from Lord of the Rings in it.  It would be impossible for me not to like this.

And so like it I did, despite the underdeveloped characters, the questionable script and the dodgy 'wee highland lass' accent of Kate Mara.  It was just one of those films that made you smile, infectiously, you just couldn't help it.  Saying all that though I was rather pleased with Charlie Cox's performance as the cheeky chappy leader of the group, Iain Hamilton.  It saddened me that I knew nothing of the taking of the stone before seeing this film, although perhaps that increased my enjoyment of it.

This was never going to be a classic, but I for one just couldn't help liking it.  Perhaps best not to take it too seriously as I think, being a PG and all it is best viewed in a light-hearted manner. 


very short review, just lost the train of thought I had and decided it was better ended there than being dragged out.

Il y a longtemps que je t'aime.

Il y a longtemps que je t'aime - I've loved you so long.

Incase you haven't guessed, it is French.  And it is a typically French film, although that is not a bad thing.  On the contrary, I think some of the films coming out of France just now are excellent, and this one ranks right up there with them.  Although not quite in the same league as say La Vie en Rose or Amelie Poulain, it never claims to attempt to scale the same heights that those two did.  Instead it is a very muted, psychological, character study, explaining closely the family relationship and how it can be stretched and tested.  

Kristin Scott Thomas is outstanding in the leading role, and it is her journey which keeps us interested throughout.  Some may complain that it moves to slow, but I think any greater pace would be misleading and detract from the main focus of the film; her re-emergence into society.  Elsa Zylberstein is also brilliant as the more 'adjusted' of the two sisters.  Portraying an emotional counterpoint to the somewhat steely character of Kristin Scott Thomas.  I think it is the excellent performances of these two that give the plot life, they stir up great amounts of empathy in the viewer and make us believe in the story.

There is a notion in film theory of the complete viewer, where our attention is taken completely be the screen and no other noise, or movement enters our mind.  Never more so have I felt this than with this film, perhaps the fact that there are subtitles there means a greater concentration is required on the part of the viewer, but not once did I turn and say something to the people I was with.  I think that it is in achieving this that the real strength of this film can be observed, it is not the perfect film, but it is a very good story, well told and brilliantly acted.


Monday, 20 October 2008

How to Lose Friends and Alienate People.

In a fit of productivity I have decided to write another review.  Immediately after having written the Step Brothers one!  I know, I know, crazy stuff.

How to Lose Friends and Alienate People - Simon Pegg does America.

Having seen the trailers for this movie, I did not hold high hopes for it.  I think I only went to see it to see how Simon Pegg would function outside of his the niche he has managed to carve for himself.  I realise there has been Run, Fatboy Run - which I have thus far vehemently avoided watching and Big Nothing - which I have thus far unsuccessfully tried to erase from my memory, but this for me is his first proper Hollywood outing.  Despite its British Film Council and Film Four funding I still can't see any movie with Simon Pegg, Kirsten Dunst, Gillian Anderson, Jeff Bridges and Megan Fox as being anything like independent.  

Whole paragaph gone and I haven't even started to say what I thought.  Perhaps that is because my thoughts can be perfectly encapsulated in one word; meh.  At moments it was funny, at moments you felt some sort of empathy for the characters, but far too often it seemed like a lot of things I'd seen before but not quite as good.  I think I could've just watched the first ten minutes, went had a pint, came back for the last five and not really needed any catching up.  It's a rom-com, we know what happens, and then it does, and this is fulfilment?  This movie is consigned to the easily forgettable stuff that is churned out over and over again to entertain couples.  It is just that, a second date movie.  Not one for the DVD collection.

-no star thing, its only been two minutes-

Quite a short review actually.  Any excuse for that picture of Megan Fox.

Step Brothers.

It has been a week or so since my last review.  General laziness on my part, but hopefully I will keep this more updated from now on. 

Step Brothers - A return to form?

Will Ferrell has went downhill lately, following the excellent Anchorman and Talladega Nights his movie went into a bit of a slump in my opinion with Blades of Glory and the distinctly average Semi-Pro.  It is perhaps a symptom of this downturn in form that has seen the Set Rogen, Judd Apatow, Evan Goldberg group to emerge so triumphantly.  Step Brothers, however, is most definitely a return to form as it sees him reunited with John C. Reilly and has them both performing at their comic best.  Ok, its not the most nuanced of plots and it never even attempts to make any grand statement about life, but that is precisely why it works.  It is just plain funny.  Gut wrenching humour at its finest, this reminds why for a while we flocked to see anything Will Ferrell name appeared on.

The support cast are all excellent also, with Adam Scott in particular playing the annoying brother so convincingly that most of the movie I wanted to punch his smiling face almost as much as the characters.  Although, that might have something to do with his likeness to a certain Mr. Cruise.  

I'd like to think I was planning a long in depth review here, but the truth is there isn't much to say about Step Brothers, except that it is the perfect saturday night movie.  One I could watch again and again and still find funny.  Let's just hope Will Ferrell can follow this up with another one to rival Judd Apatow's lot.

I know I said I'd make fancy star things, and at one point I will...maybe.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

First Review: Tropic Thunder.

So I was thinking of how I should rate these movies.  The classic 5 star system, or some sort of percentage system, or even try to be 'unique' by pilfering Roger Ebert's 4 star system.  Well, I've decided to follow the IMdb and go for a 10 star rating thing.  I chose this because it means I can have more variety in my scores - because you can get an excellent 4 star movie and then a only great 4 star movie - without having the annoyance of giving a precise percentage mark.  In these reviews I will attempt to give away no more of the plot than what is revealed in the trailers, as it is a personal gripe of mine when reviewer give away twists of any sort.

On to the review.

Tropic Thunder surprised me.  It wasn't particularly good, it just wasn't the complete off-the-mark flop that many of my friends had led me to believe.  That being said, I do feel -  having recently watched Pineapple Express - that Ben Stiller and Justin Theroux could've just allowed for more jokes to shine through.  At times they seemed caught between slapstick and satire.  A prime example of this being the 'trailers' at the beginning of the film, surely over the top action films and rappers turned actors is easy fodder, but the audience I was a part of barely chuckled.  Often it felt as if there was a perfect set-up for a joke but no real punchline.  No real bite.  

On to the performances and Downey Jnr. shines through strongest, bringing back memories of the hilarious Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.  Whereas, Jack Black and Ben Stiller seem muted and at times unsuited to the whole thing.  Ben Stiller just seemed out of place with bulging muscles and a tank top, I'm far too used to seeing him bungling his way through awkward situations and tripping over his own words. (I realise he was both bulging and tanktopped in Dodgeball but in Tropic Thunder it is much more understated.)  I also thought that Jay Baruchel and Brandon T. Jackson both held their own remarkably well alongside their more famous co-stars.  However, Tom Cruise and Matthew McConaughey both just proved a nuisance and annoyance every time they came on screen.  It felt like such a missed opportunity for the writers, here they have Tom Cruise playing a bald, fat, hairy, sweary man, who dances and they fail to make it funny.  Perhaps American audiences or perhaps my dislike of all his recent performances has made me biased, I'll leave up in the air. 

Anyway, quick summary as this is my first review and it is now 4 a.m.  Tropic Thunder feels like a missed opportunity, in the hands of more experienced writers I think it could have great.  But, as it is it only manages to get past average.  A good way to spend a hours with friends it certainly is, but not one I personally will be reliving. 

-later on I promise to make a nice wee image for the stars here, just not right now-

reivews upcoming: Step Brothers