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Immensely good conclusion
Having re-watched this on the sofa just the other day i might have been forgiven for thinking my father would perhaps with nothing else to do, sit down and watch it with me and see if he became hooked. His gripe with the lord of the rings is 'its too much fantasy to the point where you can just make any old nonsense up'. I sort of see his point, since the army of the undead in this film was pushing it as far as what i was willing to accept was concerned.
That said its possibly the only thing that tests my patience in this brilliant brilliant film. The pacing was perfect, the narrative flowed back and forth from each character so smoothly in the previous instalment that we sort of took it for granted here and knew what to expect. All the same kudos to Jackson for giving each character enough screen time for us to continue our emotional investment in them. As much as i loved the scenes with Aragon etc, the film is all about frodo and sam to me and i remember in the cinema just being on tender hooks wanting to see how gollums plan would unfold. I think it would have been cool to have a few extra scenes with frodo sam and gollum just showing how gollum is manipulating frodo against sam. Sam asks for the ring but there's no guarantee this would have happened. It would have been cool to see gollum putting sam up to it rather craftily beforehand.
The acting is great and some of the playfulness that the previous instalment had going for it (mostly from Gimli) is not lost, despite a darker film all round. The effects as ever from weta are perfect. For anybody who hasn't seen this film, it's obviously part of a trilogy so don't watch it without having seen the other two. I recently watched the Hobbit and i just don't see it anywhere near the quality of these films. I really hate the obviousness of the CGI in it compared with these films and the fact that the plot feels little and not so important. To conclude my father didn't stay and watch the film having got bored, but still it was worth a go.
The Expendables 2 (2012)
If you didn't like, well what did you expect?
So with the release of the Expendables we witnessed a film that possibly can't be repeated in terms of scale. The reason lies with the over the top preoccupation with 'the action flick' in the 80's. So in bringing all these iconic figures of the action genre together the expendables evokes nostalgia among the older audiences while the ignorant can claim they want to see the new Jason Statham film.
Indeed my study of film on an academic level has led me to be called a snob somewhat. But, i'm the first to admit i enjoy a tongue in cheek film if it claims not to be anything other. When watching the film I know for a fact that it's written purely for entertainment purposes and nothing else. A popcorn movie. Any critical acclaim would be ludicrous. The films (both this and the first one) openly mock the ridiculousness of the 80's action flicks with outrageous shootouts and a collection of more testosterone than a sperm bank. If Stallone had sat down and claimed the expendables was the best script he's collaborated on one could only assume he's been taking the Spielberg tablets of Indy 4 (note; why i hate films like Indy 4 and Die Hard 4....they're supposed to be more serious whereas expendables you have to take it with a pinch of salt for what it is).
One thing that did get on my nerves though was perhaps the scenes involving Arnie. The references to Terminator with the uttering of 'i'll be back' brought a smile at best the first time; but to murder it time and time again at every opportunity got a bit annoying, and ultimately i ended up wishing he'd get shot for it. Considering Arnie was possibly the most famous of the action hero's of the 80's (along with Stallone...take your pick, it's between them two no doubt) i'd have liked to have seen him involved in the film properly and not just for comedic purposes.
Also he really looks long in the tooth compared with Stallone who's anti ageing cream could probably rake in more than the gross of Rocky. He's a tank and fair play to him, he looks amazingly good for his age.
Should they make an expendables 3? Probably not. I think people would get a bit bored of the chedderness of it, and besides the charm of nostalgia will have worn off by then. However if they did go ahead, i certainly won't protest and it would be interesting to have the full set with the inclusion of Steven Seagal. All in all, if you like dumb action flicks, this will do nicely. But don't tune in expecting an ambiguous and thought provoking film, and be disappointed when you don't get one. If you are then for shame.
Gosford Park (2001)
A bit overbearing
From what i remember of this film, its a pretty disorientating experience to watch. I cant imagine what the Americans make of it (since at least some of the cast though not immensely famous, some Brits may be familiar with). Since the film has no real global names (owen aside) i found it immensely difficult to keep up with since i was often thinking "right so who is this now" or "right who are they talking about here". In truth while i don't dislike the film , i find its the type of story fitting for a drama series; if you're British you'll understand me when i say, the type you'd find on ITV. It's just a little overbearing to throw 20 different characters at the audience and expect them to know exactly who's who and exactly whats going on at all times.
Live Free or Die Hard (2007)
7.5 or something on here.Im really not seeing it
Why didn't i like this film. I think its an accumulation of factors. To start with the plot just didn't seem very 'Die Hard'. Secondly the story of John McClane in my eyes had run its course and to bring him back again to me was just farcical. I think the original appeal with the character was that while Stallone and Arnie were constantly producing action films with surreal characters that were so hyper masculine it seemed cheesy and well...just not believable, Die hard offered something different. The character of McClane is the everyday cop who happens to have just been caught up in the middle of a mess and feels obliged as a policeman to sort it out. McClane appeals because he's realistic.
Granted with two more instalments it seemed unlikely of wrong place at wrong time would strike again which it did in Die Hard 2 (kind of why die hard 2 isn't really great either in my book), but with Die hard with a vengeance being about revenge i also accepted this. To become embroiled again just isn't believable.
Moving back to my point of Die Hard being realistic in comparison to Rambo, whose destruction of a hundred soldiers with a machine gun single handedly is farcical, Die Hard 4.0 (why not just 4...why the point O at the end. 4.0 is 4...lord knows. This annoys me) demonstrates McClane taking out a helicopter with a car (at will mind...he could do this a hundred times and in his sleep) and muttering "i was out of bullets" as though its no big deal. I've seen this film once and as i sit here writing this review i think it was around 2 years ago, maybe longer, but from what i can remember; Die Hard 4.0 (remember when they release die hard 5 now, they have to put the point 0 at the end so that it makes sense and is avant garde)...Not for me thanks.
Youuuu are my number one Guy!!!
Given the pre-assumptions of audiences regarding what to expect from this film prior to its release, this film must have shocked all those expectant of a nod to the 1960s camp TV show Batman. On the contrary to this assumption, Burtons masterpiece (still my favourite Tim Burton film to date) creates the Gotham that was intended for Batman, and explores the emotional baggage of the man behind the mask Bruce Wayne.
Must credit goes to the scriptwriting here, which intertwines the back story of Bruces parents tragic death with the story of Batman v Joker. The Joker played brilliantly by Nicholson in the role he was born for proclaims 'you made me' before Batman retorts 'you made me first'. While Nolans recent exploration of the dynamic between Batman and Joker portrays a playful game of cat and mouse, Burtons meek instalment takes it to a more personal level.
While Keaton is amazing as Bruce Wayne, the lonely millionaire who's haunted by his tragic past, Nicholson steals the film from him. Every scene the two share is an example of Nicholson owning Keaton at acting. Not only that, he's so so funny as a psychotic i cant think of anyone better for the role (Ledger is certainly more devilishly menacing, but Nicholson definitely brings humour to the role more naturally. Maybe its just me, because Nicholson tickles me in the Shining. The guy just cracks me up when playing a psychotic).
While Burtons Gotham as stated earlier presents us an abstract environment (now something of a niche in hindsight) clearly nodding to German Expressionism, it is also symbolically suggestive of a dangerous environment; one that needs Batman.
The film isn't flawless though, since Bruces love interest Vicky Vale (Kim Basinger) proves to be one of the most irritating characters in film with constant screaming at every opportunity. Aside from this i cant think of any other flaws in truth, anything comparative with Nolans trilogy of realist Batman would seem unfair to use for criticism, since Burton is Burton and has his own approach to the character, much like Nolan is Nolan and has his own. I think upon viewing you wont disagree Burton has hit the nail on the head here in approaching Batman and taking away the perception of Batman as the camp 1960s superhero.
Pulp Fiction (1994)
The most interactive film around!!!
As Tarantino states, its not confusing. You have to watch it but thats all he asks. And if you do you'll become embroiled with the most self reflexive film around. Cluttered with inter textual references to pop culture e.g pilots,Marilyn Monroe,Fonzie etc Tarantinos sublimely definitive post modern film highlights its artifice and as such we are suckered in.
While the prudish may squirm at a 'immature celebration of violence' I personally applaud the profound approach of Tarantino presenting us with such outlandishly gruesome violence (pieces of brain etc) that we can do nothing but laugh. And for that reason. It's not realism. Nor does it try to be. On the contrary the surreal is celebrated here. You need only watch the scene involving Butch's selection of weapons in a standard corner store (a hammer, a chainsaw, a samurai sword) to realise Tarantino's playful homage to some of his favourite genres isn't halted by a reductive realist approach.
While the narrative is a little disorientating on times, the beauty of it is that the audience become involved in the film more-so; it's their task to piece everything together. An interactive movie if you will. Tarantino being a film buff clutters his film with homage to some of his favourites. The dancing sequence involving Travolta evokes such nostalgia among movie fans for his roles in Greace and Saturday Night Fever, though is originally a nod to Jean Luc Godard for his approach of just stopping the film in full flow for a musical sequence. The briefcase with the light inside echos that of Kiss Me Deadly; a classical noir while Walkens tale regarding the watch mirrors the character from The Deer Hunter who was captured in Vietnam.
On to performance. Travolta an unlikely choice at the time people forget does wonderfully well as our on screen stand in. He's constantly behind what's happening (the motif of events changing dramatically with every visit Vincent makes to the toilet is one often mentioned)and plays catch up alongside us since the narrative is so ridiculously spontaneous spinning off in unexpected directions(who on earth would have seen a rape scene ensue from Butch and Marcellus storyline, or Mias unexpected O.D- that wasn't on the cards was it). Jackson is the man as always playing Mr Cool here perfectly and Willis already a household name by this point brings credibility to the film, all the same his segment of the film is my least favourite. Possibly because of the playful immature banter between the two supposedly professional hit-man is just too funny. I just love the fact that in Tarantinos world, two dangerous murderers are brought down to bickering school children, scared to death of the thought of Jimmys wife arriving home. Not of the police, but of Jimmys wife. Surreal, but thats the beauty of this film. Simply has to be watched. One of the best films you'll see. I love Inglorious Basterds but i cant decide whether it tops Pulp Fiction. Either way both are amazing. Watch this film.
Licence to Kill (1989)
a very adult 007
Just re-watched this film after quite a while. I really forgot how good this one was. If i had to rank the 23 films in order of preference, License to Kill would certainly be up there (my favourites being goldenye, goldfinger, thunderball, and of course From Russia With Love) but this probably comes next.
My dad really hates Dalton as Bond and believes he overacts in the role that requires the guy to simply 'be cool'. I agree to a certain extent Dalton does throw more emotion into Bond here, but i'd say its warranted; his closest friend has just been amputated by a shark while his wife killed on her wedding day. Reference to Bond being married is made early in the film and no doubt seeing the parallel fates of Felix's wife killed on her wedding day, and that of Bond's own wife shot on her wedding day, would evoke emotion from even the sternest of characters. So basically what I'm saying is, yes Dalton acts a lot more than the others, but with good reason in this film.
At times early on this felt like an 80's cop film to be honest, with the plot embroiled in narcotics and a plain and simple drug lord as the villain. Sanchez is a great villain because whenever Bond is around him under the alias of a hit-man, you genuinely fear for Bond. You never got the sense of danger with Roger; raise an eyebrow and retort a cheesy line in the face of danger and he's out of trouble. Like i said the plot involving a drug lord seems very grounded considering what Bond had brought us before this, but thats a pro rather than con. It was just getting silly at times during Rogers tenure (through no fault of his own might i add, in case you think I'm hating on Roger) and Dalton brought things back down to earth a little.
One thing that bugged me, the canoodeling (yes i said canoodeling) in the boat following the bar brawl. Bond's literally just met this person yet their getting it on. But you know, Bond is often cluttered with surrealism so a little here doesn't damage it too much i suppose. 8 out of 10 for me.
This Means War (2012)
Decent i suppose
Having just watched this means war, its fair to say its exactly what i expected beforehand, a light hearted spy comedy with some amusing moments. Problem is, i don't think either of the main actors should play parts like this. Hardys track record of late playing more serious roles may be a little boring for him, hence the switch in genre here, but lets be fair nobody is going to finish watching this film and claim "Hardy really should do more comedy instead of what hes been doing". You just know there's a dozen actors who are more fitting for this film than these two guys. Its not just that the wrong actors are cast, but there seems a lack of chemistry as a result between the two and scenes of antagonism between the two don't appear as cynical as you'd expect. Don't get me wrong, this is a comedy so there shouldn't be a massive bust up and quarrels ensue, but i'd like to actually believe the situation a little more. Better chemistry between the two would make everything all the more credible.
With all this in mind, the two aren't on screen together all that much and the films narrative plays out as 'one goes on a date, the other goes on a date, one ruins a date, the other ruins a date'. And repeat. You basically know something is going to happen as a consequence of the scene directly previous.
Through abuse of power both men set teams onto 24 hour surveillance to get to know the girl better and discover their flaws. The abuse of power is an interesting aspect and one of the best moments of the film comes from Hardy hijacking Pines feed about famous art paintings. I thought this was the highpoint, very funny.
Since a standard rom/com film has been done to many different interpretations, the spy element is a refreshing idea and its a shame the potential for the idea was realised to the max. So since both are spy's, the films subplot must contain a bit of action for our female lead to become damsel in distress for the films climactic scenes. My problem with this is so little attention is paid to the subplot it needn't be there in truth. Ideally had the script been better the romantic plot and action plot would have inter wined more neatly.
I thought at the end of the film, a cool but maybe corny ending would have been for whichever she chose, to refuse the continue the relationship having seen their friend hurt by her.
This film isn't bad and has some humorous moments which is why i'll rank it 6/10. It has its flaws with casting (compare the chemistry in wedding crashers to this if you're not convinced) and a lack of realisation for its potential (i kinda felt this about the producers as well...i heard the plot, thought it had great potential, and it didn't quite deliver as expected) but overall if you're about the house and bored, there's no harm in tuning in if it were ever to be on TV.
Citizen Kane (1941)
The Father of Film Noir
For over 70 years now Citizen Kane has been regarded a cinematic masterpiece. So would it shock you to learn that its immediate reception was largely negative. Of course it would. But not for reasons of legitimate value, since the films content is a mirror image of the media tycoon William Randolph Hearst, who was incensed by the film, it was attacked with pitchforks by newspapers all owned by Hearst. Thankfully years later the film is appreciated for what it is. The finest work of an avant garde filmmaking genius in Welles.
Lets start with the element of mise en scene (the techniques employed to combine visual elements e.g lighting, camera movement, setting and camera techniques such as montage to parallel the on screen narrative). Firstly to create the complex and materialistic Kane, Welles puts in a first class performance a seasoned actor would be proud of. Since this was Welles' first feature film, its even more astonishing that his input stemmed top to bottom and worked to such perfection. With all this in mind it's understandable a young up and coming filmmaker would want to be expressive in his work, but its unbelievable that all works to such accord. But as stated, its the cinematic techniques and the little things we ordinarily don't place emphasis or attention to that impress.The use of extreme camera angles is noteworthy in symbolising the sway of power in exchanges; Kane is occasionally framed from extreme angles- low visually making him overpowering and mirroring the on screen events. Aside from this the use of shadow and chiaroscuro lighting parallel the on screen narration, e.g the enigmatic Kane is often filmed in shadow symbolic of the private and emotionally detached Kanes dark persona and the enigma behind 'rosebud'.
Setting is another important tool in conveying a story and Citizen Kane not only showcases the perfect settings but its inventive camera-work perfectly complements the environments to maximise their effectiveness. A good example of this is in showing Kane standing at a window when his adoptive father speaks with him. The window appears overpowering next to the minute Kane in the distance, but with just a few steps forward Kane appears overpowering to the camera framing as he speaks of his own vision for building an empire. All appear irrelevant and you may read and think I'm reading too much into these little bouts of symbolism and visual parallelling narrative in aiding the story but one thing is for certain is that these are no accidents and are absolutely deliberate.
A little about the story. Charles Foster Kane is dying and his last word uttered is 'rosebud'. Immediately the press attempt to uncover the significance of this and a reporter is sent to interview the nearest and dearest to Kane throughout different periods of his life. The narrative unfolds from the non linear technique of flashbacks and the use of montage is deployed in conveying the jumps in time at different points. One of the most interesting concepts about telling the story in this method is that its more expansive in fleshing out the protagonist Kane; since each storyteller has a different perspective of their own on Kane, each contributes to humanising and dehumanising him accordingly.
If I had to place this film into a particular Genre is would categorise it as drama, the transformation of Kane from youthful millionaire with good intentions to selfish materialistic recluse dramatic and extreme. To preach, the film takes a swipe at the rewards and benefits of capitalist America at the time, Kane quoting 'if i hadn't been rich, i might have been a great man'. Profound and innovative it is with money and power undoubtedly being the catalyst for Kanes unpleasant transformation.
Supporting performances are all top notch from Everett Sloane, Joseph Cotton etc are the icing on the cake making this film near perfect in truth. I highly recommend giving this film a go, and cannot think of any reason to dislike the film. Even if this isn't your cup of tea, nobody can deny its creative flair, such was the innovation that it spawned a whole new genre in film noir.
Der Untergang (2004)
Downfall- The most comprehensive study of Hitlers final days
Whatever your opinion is of this movie, nobody can deny to create a film with Adolf Hitler the protagonist is a largely transgressive concept. With such a brave approach comes the degree of fictitiousness involved with the films narrative. Since very little is known of the events to occur within Hitlers bunker director Oliver Hirschbiegel has the task of piecing together what little is known with his own vision of Hitlers final days.
To start the film offers an array of impressive performances; Bruno Ganz's erratic Hitler perfectly transcends the mere perceptions a perspective audience has when watching the film. He really is awesome. And in honesty he has to be; the basis for the films credibility lay solely on Ganz's performance, but thankfully he delivers to thundering applause. Taboo it may seem humanising somebody whose actions are distinctively 'inhuman', it's still the most accurate portrayal to date; Robert Carlyles overzealous effort, decent but not believable due to farcical overacting.
For the supporting cast Traudl Junge, the secretary to Hitler is indeed portrayed inaccurately as a more virtuous, innocent and sweet young girl which sparks criticism from among those educated toward Nazi Germany. However the important motif of innocence is resonant throughout the entire film; children are left to defend Berlin (ignorent to the knowledge they haven't a chance of survival), and the innocents of Germany ultimately are left to face the consequences of the previous generations wrongdoings, while the real perpetrators cop out through suicide and hiding. Though the anti semitism of German society and atrocities perpetrated by the Germans during the war aren't as comprehensively addressed as say Schindler's List its important to address this film for what it is; the story of Hitler and national socialism's final days.
Well documented is propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels' murder of their children inside Hitler's bunker and this is one of the more uncomfortable scenes of the film, reinforcing the theme of the innocents paying the price. Goebbels and his wife's suicides bear resonance to the status quo sentiment felt by all Germans at this dreadful period; there is no life beyond national socialism.
To categorise this film into a genre is a tough task but i'd call it a drama more than anything with action sequences sparsely present. Sounds good on paper right? Well i'll try to place a balanced viewpoint in reviewing this film so lets address the reasons perhaps the film may be limited or perhaps just not for you.
1. To somebody perhaps not a keen enthusiast of History the lengthy scenes and claustrophobic feel of the film (with very few settings) this film may feel a bit of a drag at times. You may however find learning a little is beneficial.
2. To somebody overly educated in Nazi Germany the few historical inaccuracies may just be too much to overlook.
3. As my brother put it upon entering my bedroom and witnessing me watching Downfall, "Why are you watching that for, its not in English". An extremely fickle criticism in my eyes but subtitles aren't for everybody.
Overall despite this hugely pessimistic outlook on a topic widely controversial, anybody even remotely into films should watch this. Even if you're not a WW2 buff or dislike drama, this film's narrative is largely unrivalled in content, making it by and large a unique film i would recommend to anybody. 8/9-10.