Sunday, 31 January 2010

Up in the Air - Life's what you make it

Up in the air is a film I've been looking forward to since I saw the trailer (although I swear it was called something different), It just connected straight away. I later learned that it was directed by Jason Rietman which only increased my anticipation. Hes been involved in two well received films ('Thank you for smoking' and 'Juno') already and clearly is a man who picks his projects well. In fact I really should sit down and watch both those films properly and not just catch parts of each now and again. That said, they do capture my attention whenever they appear on the screen.

This film is no different. It engages the viewer through it's simple story telling and comedy moments. It's been touted as a romcom, but such simple genre pigeonholing does not do it justice and would probably scare off too many viewers. Because beneath the story there a lot of messages and things to make you think. It's a story about how people live their lives and how one man's milk is another man's mustard (is that even the saying???) Moments of doubt are not always a call to change anything.

All this is told from the point of view of an 'emotionally detached' man (George Clooney, playing himself if you ask me. Is he emotionally detached??) who flies round the US firing people for a living. That in itself provides most of the comedy moments with some fabulous cameos. Plus if you've been fired, replaced, removed then you will get some great mileage from the crap that comes out of Clooneys mouth. That's when he's not delivering killer lines like 'I'm not racist, I stereotype. It's faster'.

All in all a great movie. But not a romcom, a lifecom. Jason Rietman = Kevin Smith with broader appeal and a much cooler Richard Curtis.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Crank: High Voltage - Rock and Roll

Crank 2 picks up pretty much from where Crank left off. In fact it picks up from exactly that point. That itself doesn't make a lot of sense, but then this is the story of Chev Chelios and much like a an episode of Dallas, you know your audience will accept it all at face value.

So what we have here is a crazy ass showing of stunts, mayhem, chaos and bad language (well offensive actually) and story telling of the up most stupefied. Possibly everything that Postal wanted to be but could never be as it was hampered by Uwe Boll and didn't start the legendary Statham (I am yet to see the Boll/Statham collaboration though and didn't I say that about Crank)

So as is the tradition of popcorn movie making, the sequel takes all the extreme elements of the predecessor and expands them into an even more mad movie, almost as mad as this and well madder than the opening 15 minutes of Dead or Alive (which in my head I'm sure was mad). You want highbrow subtext then look elsewhere, but........, film, video game, There has to be a thesis in there somewhere, in fact if the opening frame of the movie had been Stathams eye blinking open then we may have had oscar worthy material here ;)

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Apollo 13 - Are there still people who don't think we went to the moon??

NASA space program. OK I'm hooked. A brilliant flick form the 90s bought to us by Ron 'Richie' Cunnigham-Howard about the ill fated and thus, aptly named Apollo 13 space mission. Well you can see where the conspiracy theorists get a foot hold. Number 13, what were the chances?? It launched at 13:13, Lovell's wife dropped her wedding ring down the shower. But this all happened, and its only Hot Shots that we have to blame for any doubt in coincidence. Wendy I can Flyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!

Still, I'm missing the point. This is a story based very much in fact and filmed that way also. The sets and costumes and attitudes are spot on for the time (60s/70s America). Time was spent creating the sets, such as the Lem and mission control to ensure their authenticity. It all looks fantastic. The CGI used to create the Saturn 5 rocket launch (wow) and Subsequent space scenes are amazing and are still looking great today. Their scale and majesty just as immense as the actual event.

Howard is probably the only director that could bring this dramatic tale to the screen as it's all so American feel good at the same time. It never distracts from the drama though. We Were Soldiers had the wives club bringing widows the bad news in between the war drama and it didn't work (laughable in fact). In this it adds to the character development and the viewer is more involved for it.

Space and Paxton (even in non OTT mode) Brilliant!

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Jennifer's Body - Falling apart at the seams

Now before I start I must add that I think I fall outside of the 99.9% of the world who think Megan Fox is hot. I don't get the obsession. I remember when I saw Transformers and commented to someone that it was just 'Okay and could have done without the human element subplot'. They quickly chipped in with ' yeah, maybe, but...Megan Fox!!!!' She's far from ugly, but then so are many people.

So to the movie.....

It's a good little flick that maybe hovers (not flys) inbetween a required audience. It's not strong enough to be a horror, it's not hip enough to be teen high school and it probably wants to be too clever. That said, to me it fell into the realm of Heathers and The Faculty for watchability and that means it's got rewatchability too. I didn't really know what to expect when I switched it on and that maybe helped a little. Plus it's got a great soundtrack. Anything with the White Lies on is a winner for me.

Friday, 15 January 2010

The Day the Earth Stood Still - Can you sleep standing up??

Looking for a reason to slag off the remaking of classics??? Trying to find that Ammunition??? Look no further. How to ruin a classic. And that's what the original is, a Black and White BBC2 Teatime classic.

This on the other hand is poor. It doesn't grab you at all. In fact it looks and feels like a Stargate SG1 episode at times. I mean look at the poster, if that's not a M.Knight Shyamalan looking number then I don't know what is. That would be OK if

A) It was


B) His films were still good.

Seen it all before. I can't even be bothered to paragraph correctly. Meh!

Monday, 11 January 2010

Seraphim Falls - Boom Boom Shake Shake the Room

Take two top actors and put them in a gritty chase drama in the Wild west and you should get a good movie. Luckily, you do with this. Brosnan shakes off the campness of Mamma Mia (probably, I don't know when that was made) and Neeson continues on the bad ass image from Taken (probably I'm not sure when that was released, maybe this was the start) as they both portray two evil men driven by war and vengeance. As with most westerns of the last 20 years it really shows how down and dirty those times were, where if you weren't on your guard 24 seven you probably wouldn't be around long.

There's not a lot of love on show between any of the characters and if it wasn't for the epic scenery on show you might not really care about anything, but it kind of brings the whole thing together. And it's not like the characters aren't developed well, it's just that they're nasty. Easily one of the most 'filmic' movies I have seen in a long time. The end is very clever and left me wanting for it to just carry on..... or at least find a few more down right dirty westerns to watch.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

The Hangover - Re-Rewind when the crowd go bo selector

One of the most popular and successful comedies of 2009. Why?? Todd Philips, that's why. From the director of Old School and Road Trip comes another winner. But, as with all his films, at first glance it just seems average. TP is up there with Judd Apatow for me. Maybe not trying to be quite as clever, but just as funny. His films are just full of 'moments' lots of them that just gel with each other to make a brilliant film.

The Hangover has lots of them. The Doctor scene, Mr Chows voice, The 'this isn't the first time I've found a baby' line, in fact any scene with Alan. Pure class. It plays serious and stylish from time to time and you wonder if it was trying to be like 'Very Bad Things', but there's no way it could have been. It's just a comedy film trying to pull away from the Teen only audience. All his films are. No preaching, no moral, just laughs.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Fast & Furious - And a bit ridiculous

I love the F&F franchise. I really do. The car racing, the car fronting, the car chasing and the background crime story. All in wonderful day glow imagery. Brilliant. Needless to say, I was very excited about the arrival of number 4 in the series. Even Vin was back in the lead after his cameo in number 3.

Alas all the hype about the reuniting of the original team was a big let down in the end. A bitch crazy opening scene was all there really was to get excited about. It was stupid enough to send out warnings. Where were the colourful cars, where were the watchable car chases? Through underground caves in the dark does not work.

Not so much a bad film as a poor addition to the franchise, like Alien Resurrection, Terminator3, Home Alone 3 &4 (who knows, never bothered to watch em, but no Culkin and no Christmas so no point). Thing is, sequels of popcorn movies should simply be more of the same for me.

Stomp The Yard - Politically correct 'Guilty pleasure'????

When I first saw this movie I could not stop laughing. It is so serious, like the dance version of 8-mile. But where as that film features rappers, who do scare me (guns and drive bys and all that), this film features 'stepping' and well to do youthful Americans.

Thing is, whilst I laugh, and I do, I Belly laugh (It's so serious), I still can't help but be drawn into the film. It looks great, it's very cliched, but it looks great. Very much a movie. But oh so serious. And so much fronting. It's very much a movie about fronting. And then there's the gayest scene since anything you saw in Top Gun. Like it's trying to say 'Hey we're dancers, but we're buff and we're hard!'

But it is still highly recommended by me to you, for all those reasons above and so many more. So many movies fail in the presentation side. This movie wanted to tell a story about Dance, so it employed Actor/Dancers, or Dancers/Actors. What does this mean to you and me. No close ups of feet or wide angle distance shots, that's what. Love it.

None of the above is a joke by the way, for any doubters who know me too well.