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Mr. Turner (2014)
How not to make an interesting biopic
A great biopic tells the story behind the story so that we learn about how things came to be. Instead what we see in the story of Mr Turner is a collection of well known stories linked together with no exploration beyond these onto the screen.
William Turner created some of the greatest landscape paintings that inspired generations after him. We know the stories, in particular how we was lashed to mask in storm so that he could be inspired to his fabulous Steam Boat in a Storm painting.
Except we know that story. We know the painting. It is interesting to see it on the big screen, but the movie contributes nothing to our understanding of this event.
In the same way it contributes nothing to the whole story of Turner's life other than some little snippets that are loosely linked together. We don't see his youth, his inspiration, his great struggles.
This is nothing but a collection of anecdotes rather than a story or a movie. .
The Wizard of Lies (2017)
Pointless long movie with good acting
Bernie Madoff perpetrated one of the great financial frauds over a period of nearly 20 years, with unethical practices dating back to possibly the 1970s that laid the foundation for his grand Ponzi scheme. However instead of looking at the rise of this, we are instead treated to watching a group of overly rich people mostly get embarrassed and stressed out being caught out.
While it is great to watch Robert De Niro's fantastic understated and nuisances performance, what you really have is a long 2 hour movie that drags on and on.
Should we feel sad about how rich people suffered because of their involvement in such an enterprise? Should we feel too concerned about the Madoff family who benefited by working for Bernie instead of doing their own thing? Of course not.
Give this one a miss, it won't really inform or entertain.
The Man from Earth (2007)
A movie for the pseudo intellectual
So the story starts with the going away party for John Oldman who decides to tell his friends the "story" of his life, which turns out starts in the cro magnon period of humanity.
Basically John claims to be immortal and has lived for 14,000 years.
Okay, so the whole thing is, we are like his friends, do we believe his story or not? What is history, how can we know what has happened in the past, and so on.
It is a movie of talking heads, which might be interesting if there was a little more to the story, like actually understanding of history or human nature. In the end he isn't telling this story for any particular reason, nothing is solved as nothing is really challenged.
What is worse, rather than leaving us guessing, which should have been the point, they decide to resolve it for us.
An interesting film, but basically wasted and disappointing. For people who like to talk about stuff that doesn't matter.
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015)
Different is sometimes bads
I know that a lot of people like this movie, but there are good reasons why it flopped.
The concept comes from the TV series where an American CIA agent and a KGB agent work together to do some vaguely defined task (there is a nuclear bomb or something, but I am not exactly sure what they plan to do with it).
Most of the movie involves people sitting around talking. engaging in pointless dull banter and petty pathetic bantering. Pretty much nothing that happens in the movie is movie the plot forward.
The action is dull and also does little to advance the plot, which is why they made it so stylish.
Overall a great 30 minute TV show stretched to the length of a feature movie and it suffers for this. While there are lovely subtleties in this movie, none of them really pay off.
To put it another way, here is a movie that tries to be different, fails to entertain most people, and blows away a small group of people.
The Book of Life (2014)
Please don't waste your time
The movie tells the story of a group of Mexican clichés where the only jobs in Mexico are bullfighter, bandit, mariachi, general, useless beautiful woman or useless peasant. Much of the plot involves people choosing between which Mexican cliché they will be.
Also every talks English with terrible Mexican accents.
In the end it represents Mexican people as other, both in their life and in the way that they look.
Worse yet, the story is incredibly clichéd and boring. Destiny, choose, following in your fathers footsteps or make your own choice, blah, blah, blah.
The whole banal plot line is dependent on racial stereotypes of Mexicans. This makes the story both predictable and uninteresting.
Slow West (2015)
Not slow west, silly west.
So a young Scottish lad travels across the American West looking for Rose, his love. Only Rose is a wanted outlaw for some reason.
Now this is a west of fertile lands, forests and rivers, not the desert. So this movie has that going for it. But it is also the west where everyone is mean nasty and shoots each other.
In reality the West would was made up of people of all levels of education with many different backgrounds. Most people would work together and help each other out.
But that doesn't make for a "gritty" movie. People would prefer that the movie is fake and nasty than nice and realistic.
If the movie had stopped trying to realistic and actually showed what was real, it would have been more interesting.
Black or White (2014)
A dull boring grey
So the plot goes like this. A child whose father is black and mother is white has been raised by the child's white grandparents since she was born because the white mother died during child birth and the black father is off somewhere doing drugs.
When the white grandmother dies the black auntie decides that she can't be raised by a crusty old white guy and launches a baseless legal action to obtain custody. Then of the course the black father also turns up, acts like an A-hole and now wants to pursue custody.
So you have pointless legal showdown with almost no drama, few plot twists and even some lack of understanding of legal proceedings all to show the audience why a crusty white alcoholic is better than a black family.
Flight World War II (2015)
Intelligent low budget flick
I am a huge fan of low budget movies and Asylum, who brought us Sharknado along with movies that are apparently rip offs of bigger budget Hollywood movies and that movie where a giant shark bites an airliner flying at cruising attitude, is the studio that does low budget flicks. But the inside information on Asylum is they kind of take themselves pretty seriously and not all mega sharks and rip offs. But, like this movie, they have that old sense of suspension of disbelief without suspension of all reason that modern Hollywood movies require.
So the plot is pretty basic, a commercial airliner is sent back in time by a weird storm and ends up flying over WWII. Luckily there are 2 world war II historians on board to help identify this issue.
Okay this is sort of a spoiler but based on some of the reviews of this movie, it is needed. The time line they are sent back to is not 100% the same as ours. So all the critics talking about the historical inaccuracies, well that is a plot point in the movie. Yes, this movie is intelligent and has a subtle but well explained plot.
It is a low budget film, so you only see a handful of passengers on the plane, the CGI all looks like CGI, but you don't mind, because all of it adds to the story, rather than trying to wow us, and the acting is TV soap opera standard.
This is a movie that is more of an TV show episode in depth, so it is not one of the great low budget flicks, but it still is an interesting story told cheaply.
Æon Flux (2005)
The movie has nothing to with the original, but it could have been better if it did.
Turning the brilliant Aeon Flux animation (not anime...it is not Japanese) into a movie is a fantastic challenge. The original work is about a morally ambiguous female character wearing impossible g- string armor who run around killing vast numbers of male antagonists creating lakes of blood, usually for the purpose of stealing something we don't really understand for purposes that are not stated. Oh and she usually dies at the end of each episode.
The movie makers simply ignore this challenge and use the name for a character and plot which probably didn't have anything to do with the original while managing to include a few minor references to the source material.
So as a fan of the original I have to take away points for misusing the name Aeon Flux.
But then knowing that before seeing the movie, the question is, how does this movie fare?
When it is a stylish movie with great action sequences, dull acting, annoying plot, pointless voice overs and silly love stories.
If the movie had channeled the spirit of Peter Chung and cut all the dialogue and voice overs and this might just have been a decent movie.
Project London (2013)
Tries hard, fails harder.
Okay, now first confession, I am a big fan of low budget movies. Many of them manage to produce something amazing and so when I heard about Project London I had to check it out.
Basically the plot is that humans have made contact with an alien race and they have helped humans unleash their potential. Which is basically the ability to project our will on things. Eg, if we will the TV to change channels it will, or if we want to fly a mech or kill someone, we can will it. But if the potential can take on a will of its own beyond the person who had the original idea.
First with the positives. It looks pretty good in some ways. The designs for the monsters, mechs etc. I mean nothing spectacular, but more original than most stuff coming out of Hollywood today.
The negatives is everything else. The actors are fairly dull, the plot convoluted but pointless, the incidental props and costumes are stupid, the jokes lame etc etc.
What it comes down to is maybe attempting too much. Worth checking out though if you are a fan of low budget cinema.