‘Hi, I’m Paul’, a lost, lonely extra-terrestrial states to befuddled comic book geek, Graeme Willy (Simon Pegg) in the wilds of the Arizona desert, Graeme’s best friend and travelling partner Clive (Nick Frost) having fainted in shock beside him.
Looking at the Oscar nominations (and Bafta winners), it isn’t surprising that this didn’t get a mention. After all, it’s not exactly awards fodder: psychotic 12 year old murdering junkies and using the c-word? Drug lords beating up said girl? Superhero films doing the most un-superhero like things? You would be forgiven for thinking that this is a dark, brooding film that is to be taken with the utmost seriousness at all times. You would be wrong. Kick-Ass was the most entertaining film of the year.
True Grit. A remake or not a remake? That is the question. Less controversial are the undeniably superior filmmaking skills of the Coen brothers, skills which underpin this cracking new adaptation of Charles Portis’ novel. When compared to Henry Hathaway’s 1969 John Wayne starrer, it’s arguably a much more accomplished and effective work, restoring the narrative tangent of the story and moving beyond barnstorming star-led theatrics, instead venturing into gripping character study underpinned by weighty Biblical subtext.
Jason Statham continues to prove he’s the Arnie for the i-Pod generation in The Mechanic. Just like the Austrian Oak, Statham boasts the sort of indestructible presence that cuts through the most idiotic of material, singlehandedly ensuring The Mechanic remains halfway watchable. Mercifully, director Simon West also has him retain his London accent, there’s no Pasadena by way of Peckham nonsense here.
As The Moon Shines Bright commences archaeologist Dr Thom Stukeley is reduced to making bite-sized instructional videos which he witheringly describes as ‘archaeology for the YouTube generation’.
Kim Ki-Duk is something of a machine: between his debut in 1996 and the time of writing, he has written and directed 15 films. 3-Iron, along with Crocodile, is generally regarded to be one of his best. The moody, romantic tone is perfectly matched with the sense of despair and longing, and the shimmering artistry lines up perfectly with the true original of a plot.
In this addition to the Will Ferrell/Adam McKay semi-improvised comedy collection it appears that a change of tac has been put in place. It seems that an actual plot has been stuck to, and while this will divide people, it does show that, to a certain degree at least, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Atmosphere is essential when creating drama. Some may argue conflict or characters are more important, but without the right environment for them inhabit, the film will only be two-dimensional. Downfall (Oliver Hirschbiegel, 2004) creates the most authentic sense of claustrophobia and apprehension that has ever graced a cinema screen, ultimately resulting in the most nail-biting drama and enhancing the terror of its subject matter.
Taking its signature character from what is (in my opinion) the greatest TV show ever made, In The Loop arrived in 2008 to relatively little fanfare. It’s no surprise, really. In these times of Due Date and the Hangover, a film that relied on the boring old world of politics and the actual engagement of the brain was never going to do fantastically. And yet critics loved it, drowning it in a sea of four and five star ratings. There was even talk of Oscars in terms of Peter Capaldi’s incredible performance as the ‘lovable’ spin doctor (although finding a non-swearing clip would be nigh on impossible). In short, I loved every sweary, angry moment, and I would even go as far as to say that this film is my favourite comedy of all time.
It’s safe to assume at this point in time that everybody knows the story of Aron Ralston, or at least the essential details surrounding the one 127 hours that would change his life forever. Ralston was a rock climber (and admirably, still is) who stumbled his way into the most awful of situations -trapped in a canyon, his arm crushed beneath a large boulder which has him pinned against a wall. It’s immovable and Ralston knows this, even as he desperately tries to fashion an escape. Eventually, he becomes resigned to the fact that if he wants to survive this ordeal, there’s only one way out. He snaps his arm in two places before sawing it off completely with a blunt pen knife.
Resisting the urge to spam the word ‘perfect’ 1,000 times, I sit at my computer to ‘review’ this mind-blowing film. Yet I must begin by sating that this film can’t be done justice by a review. It really, really can’t. It has to be viewed to fully get a measure of what it is like. It is also something of a Marmite movie -the reasons I think it is so good are the very same reasons as to why others loathe it.
TV viewers bemoaning the end of addictive high-concept US imports such as Lost, Prison Break and 24 should make a bee-line for The Walking Dead, the brutal new zombie series inspired by the survivalist comic book saga by Robert Kirkman. Developed for the screen by director Frank Darabont (Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile), the first series of The Walking Dead may have endured an uncertain genesis, but Darabont’s commitment to the show proved well-deserved, and the series has just ended its initial six-episode run on satellite channel FX -with incendiary results.
Romantic comedy would seem to be out of character for Ed Zwick, macho director of lavish melodramatic epics like Glory, Legends of the Fall and Defiance, until one scours his IMDB back catalogue and discovers About Last Night lurking in the wings. An intimate story of passion and affairs starring Rob Lowe and Demi Moore, it was the kind of small-scale project on which Zwick made his name; Love and Other Drugs marks his return to such material.
As I stepped into the cinema to watch this fantastic, sunny indie, I took a good look at the poster. This is touted as one of the best films of the year (Sight and Sounds November film of the month -no mean feat). And yet the poster shows nothing but a light-hearted, gentle film that won’t tax the brain-cells too much. But while there is a very sunny feel to the film, I think that there is something a lot more powerful hidden in here, waiting to get you when you least expect it.
2010 didn’t quite bring with it the same abundance of noteworthy films that 2009 graced us with. However, this year did see some stellar efforts, with the 10 listed below being the stand outs.
10. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (dir. Edgar Wright)
Adapted from the third book in CS Lewis’ landmark Narnia series, The Dawn Treader comes bearing the kind of unfortunate name that seems to pre-empt critics and audiences having their knives out. ‘Simply treading water’; ‘Fails to make a splash’ -the list goes on.
The most different apocalypse film for some years, Children of Men was both original and stylish films.
Those who’ve followed the buzz on The Tourist will notice it’s been lambasted to hell and back by critics and audiences alike. From allegations of zero chemistry between leading stars Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp to a so-called haphazardness in tone, it’s less Cary Grant than Cary Can’t, many have claimed.
This French film has become one the most famous foreign films to cross over in recent years. At once offbeat, different, and with lashings of fantasy splendour, this French film from Jean-Pierre Jeunet kicks the living daylights out of any other film from Hollywood, through sheer imagination, inventiveness, and a strange, almost schoolboy like, love.
Paignton film critic Tom Leins runs the gauntlet with an explosive selection of action DVDs: The Expendables, Death Race 2 and Deadly Crossing
Rejuvenated by the bloodthirsty fourth Rambo movie, Sylvester Stallone seems determined to indulge his most shameless crowd-pleasing antics during the remainder of his career. Ensemble action movie The Expendables (Lionsgate) represents the fruits of his recent labours.
You already know what My Afternoons with Magueritte (La TÃªte en Friche) will be like. It is excellently made, played with charm, and shot with lightness and light in mind. If you are planning on watching it, then you will certainly enjoy it.
One of the growing number of Torbay’s movie mafia, and sometime D+CFilm reviewer, Sean Wilson popped along to CINE‘s December gathering to find out what films the filmmaking networking event had in store.
In the Tony Scott school of hard knocks, it’s not content for a character to merely get knocked to the ground in a fist-fight. The fist must connect with the face from five different angles -preferably in slow motion once -before a hectic montage sees the body fall to the floor accompanied by ear-bleeding sound effects. If he’s feeling especially energetic, he’ll speed the camera up and then slow it down.
Some horror films are scary for their prosthetics and make up, carving ghouls which etch their way into your brain and invade your dreams. Others use lighting and music to create a gloomy, downbeat tone which makes for unsettling and uncomfortable viewing. Others just make you jump, and make you wary the next time you walk round the house in the dark. The Wicker Man does none of these things in a way that is particularly profound, or downright terrifying.
As far as the world of misleading taglines, trailers and marketing goes, Catfish might just sit at the top of a pile of movies that were intended for one audience but sold to a completely different one.