Posts Tagged ‘Movie’

Five minutes into this movie, and I was struck by something – not the saliva dripping lollipop that the guy behind me had just chucked – but rather that, in order to truly enjoy this film – you need a brain. I’m not saying that any grey matter will do, monkeys for example – probably not a fan. But if you go into this film with misconceptions about what to expect, then you are already destined to fail. Zero Dark Thirty charters the years spent after 9/11 by various CIA operatives to track down Osama Bin Laden. Before this film even hit theatres, people were calling it nothing but ‘Liberal propaganda’ and ‘biased junk’. I can see why people would assume that was what Zero Dark Thirty is, but on closer inspection you can clearly see that neither the Bush regime, nor Obama’s time in office is particularly looked upon well.

Firstly, we’re shown the darker side of the USA’s war on terror… the side that made the papers and outraged millions – torture. Watching the prisoners suffer made me uncomfortable – and after all, what kind of world would we live in if it didn’t. They may be terrorists, or at least suspected terrorists, but seeing anyone scream in pain, especially when based on real events, made me uneasy. After Obama came in, the torture went out and was replaced with a slow moving system – that possibly cost lives. Maya, played by Jessica Chastain, pushed and pushed to get the intelligence she’d gathered taken seriously. But the people above her were often more worried about looking bad politically if it was the wrong call. And so yes, the torture portrayed did make Bush look bad. But at the same time, throughout the movie they make the point that they wouldn’t have the lead which led to Osama without it.

Now, with all the controversy out of the way, let’s get to the actual film. Zero Dark Thirty is at times hard to follow, but so it should be. If the average Joe could understand the plot easily, well then it wouldn’t be a true representation of the obstacles overcome by these extraordinary individuals. The film basically follows Maya, as she is dropped into Pakistan having been recruited to the agency straight from High School. She’s committed, and you see that from day one. Unsurprisingly she gets ridiculed for her age and her looks, and finds it difficult for people to take her seriously. This toughens her up and by the end of the film she is very much a woman I wouldn’t want to mess with. The sass she had at the beginning of the film, very much morphs into a hardened shell. Chastain is probably at her best. While I haven’t always rated her highly, I definitely feel she stepped up to the plate in what must have been a huge daunting task. Her performance as Maya is likeable but not enough to deter you from the main premise of the movie – the hunt for Osama. Kathryn Bigelow allows just enough of Maya’s personality to shine through to endear her, but doesn’t allow the movie to become all about ‘Maya’s hunt for Osama’; because it is very much a team effort.

Director Kathryn Bigelow also managed to bring home the reality that these are real people. We live in a society glamorised by Hollywood, and it is easy to forget sometimes that the CIA aren’t the really like ‘Borne’ or ‘Bond’. They are real people, with real families who are trying to keep the world safe. I found that a little unsettling. It was a dim reality that showed how vulnerable we are, that there isn’t some great power out there to save us. Because, they don’t always succeed.

But Zero Dark Thirty is ultimately about when they did succeed. And by the end of the film, we are shown the assault on Osama’s compound in Pakistan. The use of night vision goggles, interchanging with the dark made the whole scenario seem more unsettling. And while the men who went into that compound seemed ultimately bad ass, you also had the same sense of realism. They weren’t superheroes. They were just doing a job.

Overall, there is a good performances all round for the ensemble cast. I was particularly impressed with Jason Clarke and Jessica Chastain. And I think, with all things considered – and how wrong this movie could have easily gone – this is a solid film that fairly and accurately portrays the hunt for Osama. An engrossing watch.

8/10

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James Bond – arguably the most famous franchise ever. You say Bond – people say James Bond. That’s just how it works. Over here in the UK, we love ourselves a bit of Bond. Of course we do, what’s not to love? He’s British, he’s tough, handsome, charming, and he fights for Queen and country. A lot has changed over the last fifty years – but Bond’s appeal certainly hasn’t wavered.

That being said, don’t underestimate how much Sam Mendes Skyfall has done for the franchise. Daniel Craig’s films had been lack lustre up until now. True Bond fans were not impressed that the hero they knew and loved, was morphing into an uncharming, grumpy, gadgetless Bourne wannabe. The die hard fans longed for the days of Pierce, with his cheesy one liners and his irresistible charm. And so when Skyfall  was announced, I’m guessing I wasn’t the only one who was sceptical. I was pretty much about ready to give up on Bond. As far as I was concerned, there hadn’t really been a good proper Bond film since Pierce Brosnan’s Die Another Day. But there were hopeful signs – Adelle signed on to record the infamous Bond song – meaning we were back to having Diva’s with big voices instead of ageing pop stars – something even Pierce’s movies often lacked. Then we were treated to some even more promising signs. Not only was the classic DB-5 returning to the screen, but along with it was Daniel Craig actually making a witty retort. Thing’s started to up…

When Skyfall eventually came out, for me it was everything I’d hoped for and more. From the get go it felt like a Bond film. There was laughs, just the right level of cheesiness and action from start to finish. But more importantly, there was M.

Dame Judi Dench has for a long time now been a redeeming factor. Dench often steels every scene she is in, and as a character, M’s relationship with OO7 is one that has been intriguing from the get go. Choosing to have a Bond film that had as much M as it did James was always going to be a risk, but with Dench at the helm it was a calculated one. Dench gave a thrilling performance, which, in turn brought out the true essence of Bond in Daniel Craig. There was a grumpy love to their relationship, and despite the quips and arguments, you got a real sense of who the front line of defence for our country was – the rule breakers and the renegades like OO7 and M.

Also, for the first time in a long time, every aspect of the Bond film was tied up. The plot made sense, there was links to the past and foreshadowing for the future of Bond. We re-met characters old and new, and had a truly disturbing Bond villain, played so effortlessly by Javier Bardem. If you were still in doubt of the films authenticity, you were treated to explosions on the Tube, James running down London Streets, and explosions that rippled the London skyline. Even the finale took place deep in the highlands of Scotland, instead of the usual backdrop of some Russian base, or a fortified island. The whole film is quintessentially British. And while it may not appeal to the foreign fans of Bond as much as it could have, I think Sam Mendes was determined to bring back everything that he felt made Bond Bond.

And I think it was essentially that aspect that makes Skyfall not only a great Bond movie, but one of the best. If your a true Bond fan, and like me grew up watching the worlds favourite spy and all that came after him, you will love Skyfall. And for the first time in a long time, I’m no longer worried about the future of Bond. Instead, I’m certain he will be a feature in cinema’s everywhere for another at least another 20 years, if not another 50.

 

Teeth is one of those movies that comes around from time to time, and you see the trailer – and there is only really one appropriate response – What the fuck?! 

But the concept is just so God damn strange, and so bizarre that you just have to watch it. Teeth is about a young and pure woman, who discovers she has an unusual adaptation that sets her apart… Her vagina has teeth. I know. It’s ridiculous. And disgusting. “They based a whole movie around that?!” I hear ya… it’s bizarre. Yet somehow intriguing. And if you get passed the gross factor, Teeth is a lot more than it seems. Not only is it darkly funny, but it is probably the most memorable black comedy of the last five years.

Jess Weixler plays Dawn, the dentally endowed teen who has chosen to take a vow of purity and chastity. Dawn is passionate about her promise, and speaks out to persuade others to take the vow. However, when she meets the boy of her dreams she begins to question herself. It is soon after then that she learns of her ‘gift’ and how handy it can actually be.

The whole premise of the film is absurd, but the comedy is so understated it works. Mitchell Lichtenstein, the director, knows entirely the kind of film he is making, resulting in a black comedy that doesn’t take itself too seriously and keeps the audience drawn into the plot. There are good performances all round, particularly from Weixler and John Hensley – who plays Dawn’s idiot and infatuated step brother.

By the end of the film, Dawn has transcended from innocent and terrified teen to a complicit and conniving scorned woman. But it is the dark laughs that make this a film worth watching, and it is that which sets it apart from anything remotely similar.

Overall, a pretty fascinating movie that is difficult to take your eyes off, no matter how much you may want to. I guarantee that, by the last act, if you’re male – you will be holding your special place; and if you’re female – you’ll be googling vagina dentata just to see if this shit is possible… Scarily, it is by the way. 

A 6/10. Check out the trailer below.

If you haven’t spent the last five years in a coma, you will probably be familiar with the urban legend of the Slender Man. There is much debate about where the myth actually comes from… Trolls spend hours upon hours trying to convince the internet of their theory – but the general premise is that there is a man, with no face who sort of looks like the Silence from Doctor Who – except you remember them – and well, you get the gist; he’s terrifying.

Not TODAY slenderman!

However, contrary to what is suggested by the misleading trailer, and the Snakes on a Plane-esque title, The Tall Man has absolutely nothing to do with Slenderman. Not a pickle. Those sneaky people over at the production company surely saw all those over superstitious teens coming. So if you going into The Tall Man, expecting a Slenderman movie, move along. This is not that film (although, I hear they are working on that).

Source: examiner.com

The Tall Man isn’t even really a horror movie, as much as the trailer tries to convince you otherwise. It is so much more than that. In truth, it is really a story of two halves, and two genres. The first half of the movie is your typical horror/thriller story with the strong female protagonist in the form of Jessica Biel. What follows in the latter half, is much more in the mystery genre. Everything we thought was true in the first half of the movie is turned on its head, and what we are left with is a smart film that even leaves you pondering a moral dilemma.

That is why The Tall Man is unlike all your average popcorn fright films. It has a conscience as much as the characters do, and Pascal Laugier has managed to craft a concept that could have been predictable and uninteresting on its own, into one of intrigue. To boot, there is a few jumpy moments on the way, and Jessica Biel gives possibly the best performance I’ve seen from her. Especially considering the undulating moral viewpoints we see of her throughout the film. But it is Jodelle Ferland who steels the show as the mute neighbourhood kid who seems lost in plain sight. Still in her teens, Ferland is already a pretty large acting force, and I forsee a bright Oscar coloured career in her future.

Overall, the Tall Man will have you asking questions hours after, and it impresses in how much it delivers itself as a solid little thriller. My only down points are that the plot was a little slow towards the end, meaning the end climax wasn’t really a climax at all. But other than that, a good solid mystery thriller.

A respectable 6/10.

 

Before you get confused – I said Foxfire not Firefox. Thankfully no one has become that creatively barren that they feel the need to document the history of the web browser. There is hope for us all.

I’m going back in time just a smidge today in order to review Angelina Jolie’s seriously intense Foxfire. Never heard of it? Well you wouldn’t be alone. It is one of the first films she ever made, and isn’t even available on DVD in Europe much to my pain. The film follows four teen girls who would normally not associate with each other, brought together by the transient Legs (Jolie) who inspires them to stand up for themselves. The group learn a lot about life and friendship along the way, and also about their sexualities. And it is a story of female love and friendship.

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Angelina Jolie has played several intense characters over her long career. But none are more intense than Legs. It isn’t just Legs blatant lesbianism, which inevitably initially intimidates members of the group, that makes her intense. But it is also her fearless attitude intertwined with her fragile vulnerability. It’s a match up few could play convincingly, but it oozes out of Jolie’s pours with ease.

Legs is the catalyst in the chain reaction. She spends most of the middle of the film pretty silent, riding the wave of anarchy and teenage destruction that she started. You get the feeling that that is what Legs lives for in a way. She brings people out of their normal selves and then watches them. But her intentions are definitely not negative. While she may have gone to the school initially looking for trouble, when she found her group of girls – she cared about each one of them intently. And was even willing to kill for them.

After the group overcome a common foe, a bond is formed. It is a bond that is unbreakable once it had started. The girls were ‘running with foxes’ – a note made by their principal – and it meant they were a pact, loyal and protective until the end. But with the foxes comes the carnage. The girls, once they felt persecuted for righting a wrong, set about doing increasingly more reckless things. With the notion of “why not…?” they had free reign on what they could achieve together, and a lengthy suspension to experiment.

Possibly the most intense scene of the film involves Legs, semi-nude, tattooing a fire into her right breast in order to remember the night forever. Jolie’s effortless acting means there is a extremely believable transition from feisty transient to vulnerable young woman, who has been brave enough to expose herself to these virtual strangers. The girls reaction is of shock, awe and then agreement as they all get matching tattoos too. And despite Legs lesbianism, the scene isn’t sexual – just sensual and gives a real feel of sisterhood.

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Like all the best teen films, Foxfire is funny and warm when it wants to be, and it will make you laugh out loud. The chemistry between the five leads makes the film and I often found myself longing for my own teenage pals.

The end of the film ends with a choice for Maddy, the girl closest to Legs. She is forced to choose between her old life and the unknown adventure she could have. At first glance it could be seen as a choice between her love of Legs, and playing it safe, but really that’s only half the story. It’s the classic tale of youth. We’ve all sat back and wondered about what would happen if we ran away somewhere. If we had an adventure that never ended and surrendered the up and coming responsibilities of adulthood. Really, Legs was that reality. But I ultimately think it was the realisation that Legs was running from herself and her own life that made Maddy choose…

Overall it is a classic 90s movie with a lot of messages, a big heart and buckets full of coolness even after all these years. A definite must watch for any Jolie fan.

8.5/10

Well I didn’t think it was possible – but SVU just got weirder. This week we dived into the world of body mortification. Its a world that I went 22 years without realising it existed. And could have gone another twenty.

After Rollins goes for a breather outside a bar, she hears a girl screaming and then sees a cab drive past with the unwilling girl inside. She chases the cab, getting a vin number, but eventually it drives away. Eager to rescue the girl, the team dive into finding her – thinking that he’s the cabbie Sikh whose been raping women. It turns out, from closer inspection of CCTV footage that its not the guy and eventually the team realising they are dealing with something totally different and new when the same girls severed leg – no need to get an eye test, you read it right – turns up in a fisherman’s catch. Eventually the team are lead into a world of body mortification, self-mutilation and ritual amputation. That’s a lot of -ation’s that I don’t wanna know anything about. Eventually the girl turns up dead, and the team delve deeper in trying to find what has now become a homicide case.

Now, apart from the obvious, the thing that disturbed me the most about “Strange Beauty” was the hooker who let a dude cut her leg off for $25,000. Seriously? You want/need drugs that much that you let someone cut your leg off?! Also, the thought of being kidnapped and then waking up to find you have such an important limb missing gives me chills. Not to mention the fact that the guy who was committing the crimes was doing it to make them more beautiful, unlike his mother who lost her leg in an accident, he was making them better. Its pretty twisted stuff. And it sort of reminded me of the absolutely shockingly bad Lindsay Lohan movie – ‘I know who killed me’. If you haven’t seen it, seriously don’t bother. But it is similar in the way that it features a serial killer who slowly, over time, chops off his victims limbs when they are still alive. That was only less disturbing than LiLo’s acting, but still shocking all the same…

The thing that was good about this week’s SVU is it was something different. Its sounds terrible but I am not easily shocked by SVU any more. They have covered all their bases when it comes to sick, perverse and horrifying crimes. So to see something new – well it surprised me. Not necessarily in a good way, but I was surprised all the same.

law & order svu sttrange beauty ice-t kelli giddishThen there was the character developments in this episode. Now there wasn’t a lot – but there was some hinting on the part of the writers. Previously, new girl Rollins disclosed to Liv that something bad happened to her in Atlanta and because of it she had to move. In its context it sounded like an attack of some sort. But the writers left it there. Rollins, her gambling habits aside, does seem to have a few underlying issues from what I’ve noticed this season. And in “Strange Beauty” it was revealed that whatever happened to her was the result of something someone high up the chain of command did, and that Rollins was keen to shake it off as nothing, and that she shouldn’t have taken it personally. I’m sure we’ll be hearing more of that as time goes on, and I’m certain we’ll be seeing more of her old captain.

In other news, SVU has been renewed for another season! I must admit, when Chris Meloni left, I didn’t think we’d get another season beyond season 13. But I really do think they asserted themselves, and did a good job. Both Danny Pino and Kelli Giddish have settled in really well, and I like both of their characters. I understand a lot of people were upset when Chris left. But its TV. This stuff happens and you have to move on. SVU is still a great show without him, and one of the best cop drama’s ever. It would be a shame if people stopped watching just because there is no more Elliot. I’m sure Chris wouldn’t want that.

So overall, a good episode, if a little disturbing. Shame we had no Munch, he is painfully underused. But I’m looking forward to next weeks finale…!

What the hell is Cragen doing in that promo…?!

NB. I just remembered that the killer in that LiLo flick, I know who killed me, froze off there limbs. I think. Yeah its kind of a blur. So not so similar but reminded me of it all the same… I’ll stop now. 

Let me know what you thought of this episode, and SVU’s renewal in the comments section!

Sometimes I think that if guys like Freud, Plato and Thomas Aquinas (take that A-Level philosophy, I still remember some shit…)  were alive today, they wouldn’t be philosophers, they’d be movie reviewers. You can interpret more about human behaviour in the two hours it takes to watch a movie than you ever could evaluating 100 patients. I also think they’d like Desperate Housewives…

Anyway, a prime example of this 2 hour pop psych eval, is the movie The Experiment. If you know anything about this movie, well then I’m already expecting your ridicule. Why? Well because this movie is a remake of a German film. I know right… Shock horror, I’ve stabbed you all in the back! I revealed that I hate remakes, in fact I despise them and suddenly I’m throwing this very notion back in your faces… Well – no. Firstly, this is a true story and it was also a book. Therefore I wouldn’t necessarily call it remade… Just reimagined. And I know that is the same lame excuse movie studios give every day when they make piece-of-crap remakes… But I’m actually being sincere here. So give me the benefit of the doubt if you please.

So to the movie…

What’s it about?
Adrien Brody finally puts in another credible performance as a pacifist member of a social experiment in which 26 men are locked up together in order to simulate life in a state penitentiary (thats prison to you and I…). The twist? Well a number of the men are chosen to be guards of the prison, and are told no violence is allowed, yet they must make sure the inmates abide by a set of rules. If these rules are broken, they can punish, but not harm… The interesting part was being told that if violence did occur, then a siren and a red light would go off, the experiment would end and no one would get paid.

What they didn’t realise was that the experiment wasn’t about simulating prison at all but rather about whether ordinary, none violent people would maintain a moral compass rather than assuming the red light would tell them when they’d gone too far. The short answer is they didn’t. Each horrific act of psychological, physical or sexual torture was justified by, “If we had gone too far, the red light would have gone off.” In just 3 days, the chilled, friendly system was broken down and people assumed their primative positions as predator, oppressor or leader. And the worst thing was, they did so willingly and with enjoyment.

Let’s break it down…
Forest Whitaker played the leader of the guards who began the movie as a smartly dressed friendly guy who had probably never even raised his voice in anger before. So why the huge change? Well it wasn’t necessarily a big jump for him. His flashbacks showed a man who spent his adult life mentally abused by his invalid mother. He didn’t know how to stand up for himself. So when he was finally given the opportunity to take back some of the control he had so desperately craved for – he took it, he enjoyed it (to the point of sexual arousal) and he quickly spiralled out of control, both physically and mentally. Climaxing with all of his counterparts, who had initially been abusers along side him, telling him he was crazy and out of control – which is ironic given that is the one thing he craved. Messed up – I know.

However, out of all the guards, the only one I’d consider to have possibly been dangerous before even entering the experiment, it would be Cam Gigadnet’s character. He was what can only be described as a sex addict long before the film introduces him. Am I saying all sex addicts are dangerous? Of course not. But the backbone of this movie is that these individuals are placed into a manufactured high pressure environment. Which brings out the worse in people. Just as Forrest’s character was pushed and spiralled into a psychopath addicted to humiliation and control – Gigadnet’s became a sexual offender. However, it was a trait high on the surface all along. This was demonstrated by him in the beginning of the experiment,when he singled out his victim and tried to get him to expose his genitals. All it took was for him to get the opportunity to act on those violent urges for them to surface. Which they did.

Another interesting concept was Adrien Brodie’s character, nicknamed (against his will) 77, also spiraling, not into abuse but into a feeling of injustice. This is a man who said he didn’t even condone violence if the rapist/murderer of someone he loved was set free. And yet, 5 days into the experiment he is viscously beating Whitaker – who was most definitely the manufacturer of his suffering, which included head shaving, having his head shoved into a toilet and being urinated on – into a bloody pulp. It is here, when both guards and prisoners are acting at their most primative, and after one prisoner has already been killed, that the red light finally flashes. And then, as the door opens allowing escape, in the cold light of day, they are all seen to be equals again. Although they are most definitely not the same men.

Brody returns to his girlfriend, also a pacifist, looking like a broken man. And the two easy weeks that he thought he’d be spending in some simple psych experiment, made him face challenges and demons that he had before criticised and ridiculed.

The film was summed up nicely in the last few lines. When asked by another ‘inmate’ whether he still thought they were not like monkeys referencing an animalistic and primative nature, Brody replied “No, as we have a choice.” The choice in this instance being to forget about what it is that makes us human.

Overall, a solid thought provoking movie.
7/10