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9 reviews in total 
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Up in the Air (2009/I)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
The Personal Touch Matters..., 16 June 2010

In a year that has been filled with anticipation surrounding 3D epics and generic disaster movies such as '2012' and 'Avatar', it was refreshing change to see an honest film which tells the story of one dysfunctional man and his rather alternative and shallow take on life. George Clooney's performance was the best I have seen from him in a while, and whilst his character was not always the most likable I found it very easy to engage with him. A particular highlight for me was his narration in the beginning of the film and his lectures which feature throughout. The most important aspect of the performance is that we see the characters love for the life that he leads and the pride that he takes in the work that he does.

Granted this movie may not make its way into history, but in the current global economic climate the subject matter is very close to the heart of all of us. One particular highlight is the use of real people who have lost their jobs in this recession being used as actors and talking about their experiences at the end of the film. This gives the film that you have watched a whole new depth of meaning and is a credit to Reitman's personal touch that are familiar with from 'Juno'.

Relationships are also a key feature in this film, particularly the one between Clooney and Anna Kendrick. The dynamic and chemistry between the two is always intriguing and for much of the film I was not sure who was teaching who, but Clooney eventually shows her that the personal touch is what is important. It was almost as if Reitman was sending a message to other directors such as Roland Emmerich, and showing them the quiet dignity of the smaller things in life.

Overall the film is well directed and the screenplay is good enough to keep you gripped without demanding too much from the cast, despite a great performance from Clooney himself. Other than that there is a small but solid performance from 'Jason Bateman' of 'Arrested Development' fame, I still eagerly await a good leading man role from him.

Four Lions (2010)
4 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
Chris Morris shows more than the power to cause offence in this brilliant film., 16 June 2010

This film represents everything it is to be British. I thought that the sense of humour that we are all so proud of had died, until I saw this utterly hilarious and daring film. Chris Morris of 'Brass Eye' fame, shows in his debut film that he does not only have the power to cause controversy but also to send an audience on an emotional roller coaster, so effortlessly striking a balance between feelings of disturbance and hilarity. The characters themselves are portrayed as humans and not as the faceless demons we all imagine terrorists to be. This in itself is a frightening prospect and challenges us to like and even sympathise with these men, caught up in something that they do not fully understand. Aside from this I believe it to be the most quotable comedy since 'This is Spinal Tap' and would argue that "Fuck mini babybels" easily stands up to "Turn it up to 11". Overall this film challenges one to look at the taboo subject of terrorism in an entirely different way and will in turn make you roll in the isles. I eagerly await Chris Morris' follow up.

4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Testosterone Fueled Romp Full of CGI Blunders., 16 June 2010

Having played many of the instalments of the Prince of Persia gaming series, I must say I was quite looking forward to seeing this film. Although it has to be said that I never really expected anything from it. I thought that going in with low expectations would be enough to get me through it, unfortunately I was very wrong. The film begins with the backdrop of a desert sunset and some very shaky digital writing, which may have been engineered by a child. The film then proceeds to introduce a whole host of CGI blunders in the form of snakes, slow motion back flips (every 2-3 seconds) and out of body time travelling experiences, culminating in an almost laughable shot of our hero surfing on a wave of CGI sand making lots of macho noises reminiscent of the Williams sisters in a Wimbledon final.

The film then proceeds to show us an ancient map of the world, zooming in upon Persia, patronisingly explaining to us that there once was a place called Persia...blah blah blah. This was a sign of things to come, with the film casually stopping to explain the plot at least every 5 minutes. This was clearly made an issue due to two things. The first is that the film is based upon a game, so there is no clear narrative and it does in fact feel more like watching someone play a video game. The second is an attempt to keep the children in the audience up to speed with the non-existent plot. There are ways of doing this that do not patronise your audience; a brilliant example of which can be found in Peter Jackson's 'The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers', in the scene where Faramir and his captain review there position on a map and make a plan. This helps the plot development, keeps the audience up to speed and doesn't patronise the audience as Mike Newell does. This also makes the film feel repetitive, which is then not helped by seeing the same fight scene replayed over and over again, followed by the same awkward 'almost' romance scene where our prince and princess exchange witty banter, explain what 'must be done' and are then interrupted.

Even with this films decent cast including a certain Ben Kingsley, it cannot be saved from its ultimately dull screen play, poor visual effects and non-existent plot. I firmly believe that this film was doomed to fail as soon as it was confirmed as a live action movie. I really believe that Disney and Bruckheimer could not resist the prospect of another 'Pirates of the Caribbean' cash cow, so they made it live action, when by rights it should have been a cartoon. All of the cheesy nonsense that we are subject to in this film would have worked if it was shot as a classic Disney cartoon. This would of course been forsaking seeing the beauty of both Gemma Arterton and Jake Gyllenhaal who I have to say are very well cast, as is Ben Kingsley who (spoiler alert!!) plays the most obviously covert Thunderbird villain of all time. If you watch this film with any expectations what so ever you will be disappointed, but if you want a fun film to take the kids to on a bank holiday I would recommend it...don't worry they will have no problem keeping up with the plot.

0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Perhaps Kurosawa's most underrated work., 16 June 2010

Throne of Blood' is Akira Kurosawa's screen adaption of William Shakespeare's Macbeth set in medieval Japan and in my opinion the best Shakespearean adaptation of all time. It is rare to see a film that takes a source material and does so much with it, whilst remaining true to the text. I obviously do not need waste time in explaining the plot as it is known to all (if not I would suggest acquiring a complete works for around £20/$25), so I will focus on the merits of the film itself.

Firstly, the film is very well cast and contains a stand out performance from Toshiro Mifune, who as many of you will know is present in most of Kurosawa's great works until their falling out after the shooting of 'Red Beard'. Mifune's performance in this film is one of the great oversights of cinema history, and in my opinion easily stands up to De Niro's 'Jake La Motta' and O'Toole's 'T.E. Lawrence'. The brilliant performance culminates in the most spectacular fashion with Mifune suffering a dramatic human pin cushion death at the hands of his own archers. Mifune manages to capture the look of desperation in a man that knows he is about to die, and uses the on screen energy he is so famous for to great effect.

In terms of direction we are truly watching the master at work. The use of wide shots of landscapes is truly mesmerising, and in many cases creates an overwhelming sense of suspense. This is a huge achievement in itself as creating suspense in a film where the audience already knows the outcome is no mean feat. There is extraordinary use of fast cuts and kineticism in the mise en scene which keeps the film going at a fast pace. This accompanied with brilliant tracking shots of peoples feet makes you feel like you are watching an action epic, when in actual fact there is very little in terms of action in the film.

Despite the fact that Kurosawa is also famed for his scriptwriting prowess, I believe that his main triumph in 'Throne of Blood' is his outstanding use of silence in scenes of dialogue. It is also very important to mention that whilst this film is fast paced, it is also subtle in the sense that rather than showing us scenes of murder, we are often left in another room for the culprit to return from the deed. Whilst at times this could be considered frustrating, the scenes are directed so well that it is a tool used to great effect.

Overall, I would highly recommend this film to any fans of cinema and/or Shakespeare. The performances are outstanding and Kurosawa's direction is the best I have seen from him. Many may disagree but as an adaptation I believe it surpasses his later and more recognised film 'Ran', which I would also like to highly recommend (review of Ran coming soon).

Forgotten Silver (1995) (TV)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Classic Mockumentary, 16 June 2010

'Forgotten Silver' is a mocumentary made by Peter Jackson that centres around the lost works of legendary fictional film maker 'Colin McKenzie'. As a prank it was executed perfectly, fooling a nation and even resulting in New Zealand's national museum contacting Jackson because they wanted to set aside space for a display of McKenzie's work.

Whilst this in itself is a great achievement, the film itself is also very well made. Jackson made this film on a shoestring and his direction of the 'old footage' was impeccable. Particular highlights for me were the shots of the first flight of a plane and the death scene which is 'caught of camera' showing McKenzie following a combatant of the Spanish civil war. The subtle comedy is brilliantly executed and it really is difficult to try and find something wrong with this film. I would highly recommend this film...if you can find it. It is very elusive, but I finally found a second hand Danish import from a man in the south of France...yes it really is that hard to find on region 2 DVD.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Classic Film, Classic Performance., 16 June 2010

My Left foot is a touching story about the life of Christie Brown, a very talented author, painter and poet who had severe cerebral palsy. The film is an adaptation of Brown's autobiography of the same name. For those of you who have not seen this film, make it next on your to do list. The whole film is engrossing from start to finish and contains dynamic characters and some of the best performances in cinema history. The film plays out through Brown's life chronologically, whilst he is waiting to make a public appearance. I'm afraid that is all I will tell you about the plot, you will have to see it for yourself, I would hate to rob you of such a truly remarkable cinema experience.

I will first focus on performances as they are so integral to the films prowess. As most of you will know, Daniel Day-Lewis won a Best Actor Oscar for this performance and never has one been more deserved. Many argued at the time that an actor with cerebral palsy should have been cast in the film, but these views were soon silenced after seeing how mind blowing Day-Lewis' performance was. He manages to portray so magnificently the feelings of frustration Brown felt towards platonic love and the ignorance of people that believed that his illness impacted upon his overall intelligence. There is really no more that I can say about Day-Lewis' performance, apart from see it for yourself. There are also brilliant performances from Huge O'Conor who plays young Christie in one of the best scenes in the film where he first uses his left foot to write and not to mention Brenda Fricker who also picked up an Oscar for he heartfelt portrayal of Brown's loving mother. All of the actors in this film walked the fine line of the portrayal of the disabled, and all of them simultaneously make you forget that the line even existed around 5 minutes into the film.

Although the film is almost hijacked by the performances of Fricker and Day-Lewis, there is also a lot to be said for the brilliant direction of this film. There are so many beautifully shot scenes such as Christie's first rejection by a teenage girl, his speech therapy and his falling in love with the doctor who tutors him. There are so many other powerful aspects of the film, non more so than the portrayal of Brown's siblings, who's love for him is so important to the tone of the film.

Overall the true triumph of this film is that it is not about feeling sympathy towards Brown, it is about empowering him and showing his creative genius to the world. This film will undoubtedly always be remembered for its performances and its portrayal of the life and trials of a true artistic genius.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Classic Romero, 16 June 2010

George A. Romero's 'Night Of The Living Dead' (1968) is undeniably a classic. To say that this film was made on a tight budget would be an understatement, it was literally made on a shoe string. Many people would argue that a low budget doesn't always mean a great film, and they would be right. I have seen countless examples of low budget films that were absolutely awful, 'Lesbian Vampire Killers' of last year is a great example. However, what a tight budget does is force the film maker to use all of their initiative and resourcefulness to try and make the film a success; if the film maker is good then the movie can be great without relying on a budget. Fortunately in George A. Romero we have the absolute master of the horror genre and a brilliant director, therefore the resulting film is one of the greatest horrors of all time and is still terrifying to this day.

There are many important aspects to this film, none more important than the use of Duane Jones, an African American man in the role of the hero or leading man. It was made towards the end of the Civil Rights Movement and was one of the first horror films to have a black leading man. This is excellent as it challenged the audience of the time to not only except this man as their equal but as their hero.

Another fantastic thing about 'Night of the Living Dead' is found in its simplicity. This is grass roots horror that pretty much rewrote the rulebook. Horror today in the main relies on special effects and before that relied on make up; an amazing example is Rick Baker's Oscar winning work on 'An American Werewolf in London'; however when watching 'Night of the Living Dead' you will notice that the 'zombies' do not generally have heavy make up on, and yet they still manage to remain scary. This is all to do with Romero's impeccable direction. Simple shots of hands grabbing people through boarded up windows have you screaming at the screen and guessing who is going to be ripped apart next.

Overall, it is rare to say a film is a perfect example of how good a genre can be but Romero's classic certainly does show how good a horror film can be. Many would still consider it to be the greatest horror of all time, I am not of this opinion, but it will still always remain on a pedestal in my mind due to its influence upon character archetypes, horror settings and future low budget productions.

4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Great Concept, Poor Execution, 16 June 2010

I would like to start the review of this film by admitting that it may be slightly biased. The truth of the matter is, I love Ricky Gervais...there I said it. I believe wholeheartedly that he is a comic genius; anyone who has seen The Office (UK) or Extras will know what I am talking about. I thought that was important to get off my chest as I am reviewing a film about the ability to tell a lie. Now onto the film...

For those of you who haven't seen the film, it is set in a world in which human beings never considered the concept of telling a lie. Ricky Gervais plays a loser down on his luck who one day invents the lie and therefore wields an extreme power. He goes on to invent 'the man in the sky' and fictional films, earning him great wealth and worldwide fame. The concept of the film is highly original and for that alone it is definitely worth a watch. It has to be said that whilst the concept of the film is impeccably good, I can't help feeling that it could have been executed so much better. The screenplay, whilst decent, is not the best that Gervais can produce and relies too heavily upon his brilliant delivery. This renders other characters in the film spectacularly unfunny in every sense of the word, with the exception of Jonah Hill, who gives a slightly above average performance.

As a die hard Ricky Gervais fan it was at times quite difficult to watch. The reason for this wasn't because the film is bad, it is more because it is far too polished and doesn't have any of the cutting edge humour that the rest of his work has contained. The closest he comes to that humour is his mocking of the bible which gives the film quite a strong message, this I feel is enough to bring it away from being your standard rom-com. Overall it has to be said that it is a decent film that is worth watching despite its fairly poor execution. "Oi! Brent" please go back to work with Stephen Merchant, he hasn't yet caught the Hollywood bug.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Is it a cult classic? Or is it a classic film about a cult?, 16 June 2010

Is it a cult classic? Or is it a classic film about a cult? The truth is that this film is the definition of a British cult classic. Recognition of just how good a film it is was a long time coming but it is now rightly recognised as one of the greatest cult horror films of all time. The plot centres around Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward) who is sent to a remote Scottish island governed by Lord Summerisle (Christopher Lee) to investigate the disappearance of a missing child. The plot itself sounds simple but in truth the film is a psychedelic erotic trip out from start to finish which is a really overwhelming cinema experience.

The film contains stand out performances from both Edward Woodward and Christopher Lee which adds so much depth to the film. Christopher Lee's portrayal of an apparently civilized man being the instigator of these pagan rituals is truly chilling, and equally powerful is Edwar Woowar's reaction to this in playing a Christian upholder of justice. The film is filled with scenes of eroticism and impromptu musical numbers which really should not work, but strangely enough they do. People appearing in strange animal masks should not be terrifying, it should be funny, but it isn't. The film itself is filled with contradictions of the horror genre and is itself a flawed film (hence why I have not given it 100%), but despite this it is still probably the most chilling film of all time and I love it. I love just how flawed it actually is and the fact that it still works.

If you have seen this film you will know that this is embodied in the encounter with 'The Wicker Man'; a fun filled occasion of music, dancing and sacrifice. All that is left to say is that this is a must watch film and one of my favourite horrors of all time. At the end on the film it gives you a feeling like no other film could...just pleased don't watch the remake by accident.