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The Adjustment Bureau (2011)
I decided to watch this film after contemplating between a couple of other no-brainer comedy titles and what a good choice it was. Adjustment Bureau is an intelligent, interesting, different and emotional film. There are similarities to Inception in the concept but it's completely different in terms of characters and content.
Matt Damon was excellent as was his love interest, and it's a film that I think a lot of people connect with because we all want to believe in fate and free will's impact on it.
It's not as heavy going as Inception, which I really liked. It meant I could enjoy it as a pure movie experience, but it was intelligent enough to stimulate my imagination.
Excellent film with a great story. Must see.
Friends with Benefits (2011)
I was staying in on Saturday night and wanted to watch something light hearted and humorous. Friends with benefits seemed the perfect fit. Mila Kunis is usually talented and Justin Timberlake has done some good stuff. Add to it the glamour of NY and sharp comedy, things looked promising.
I lasted about 30 minutes. I don't know how they managed turn talent and sharp humour into something so annoying. Mila Kunis came across as a fake, arrogant brat and Justin Timberlake had about as much charm as a broom stick. I ended up just being irritated by a lot of things in the film. Such as when Mila Kunis asks Justing Timeberlake if he thinks she's pretty. This is Mila Kunis - voted the sexiest woman in the world for god sake. They both have glamorous jobs, look perfect and have perfect blend of humour and wit...just too damn perfect with absolutely no touch of reality. Not even a hint of chemistry between the two.
It's such a shame because Mila Kunis was excellent in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and her voice over work in Family Guy is brilliant. So I can only blame the director in this movie for turning her into such an annoying character. As for Justin Timberlake...bland, just bland.
Irritating film. Luckily, Predator was on and saved the evening. At least Arnie can do proper humour.
Great thriller with a dark edge
I have been a fan of Korean thriller/drama since the 'revenge' trilogy, so my standards have been set very high. I went into this movie hoping I wouldn't be disappointed and that it wouldn't try to be another 'Oldboy'...and I was pleasantly surprised.
There are a lot of clichés about the film, including reminders of 'Leon' in the sense of a brooding loner with a desperate connection to a little girl, but it really works. The police and the bad characters are also clichéd but in a good, convincing way. The story line about the brutality of the Korean/Chinese gangs and their complete lack of value for any human life is believable and sad.
Few things raised the film above other good Asian violent gangster flicks for me. The lead character was very well played. His portrayal of the 'man in solitary pain' was great and I'm glad there was no OTT outbursts to try and explain his character or history. The little girl was also excellent and convincing. Their relationship really works with some genuinely touching moments. Also, the fights scenes were well above other flicks I've seen. They were brilliantly executed and struck a good balance between violent but not OTT.
Overall, it was a thoroughly satisfying movie and I'm glad I chose it.
Chi bi (2008)
Epic and brilliant battle scenes
I was expecting the usual epic battle scenes and much visually stunning cinematography, and I got more than I expected. This film is truly epic and we haven't seen one like it come out of Hollywood for a long time. Sure there have been big budget films, but John Woo is an excellent director and gets the mix of spirituality, ancient Chinese wisdom and the action sequences spot on.
The battle scenes are awesome, well worth watching for these alone. The acting is good, nothing amazing, but it doesn't need to be, because it's all about battle tactics and stunning action.
Absolutely recommended for everyone, brilliant film.
Children of Men (2006)
Visually and mentally dazzling
I had no expectations going into this film as I hadn't heard anything about it, which may explain partly why I was so utterly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It's definitely one of the best films portraying an apocalyptic future. The Road is another similar film I enjoyed so much, but this was a little more action packed.
The camera work and the photography was excellent, the script was original and the action sequences were spot on. Clive Owen was as interesting as ever. He is not one of your conventional Hollywood leading men, which gives him a different dimension and I've always enjoyed his work. Michael Caine was utterly riveting as the lovable hippie and the rest of the cast is great. The star of the show however was Kee. Her performance was absolutely brilliant as the confused young mother with the street wise edge.
Overall, I can't recommend it highly enough. It's well acted, thought provoking and hugely entertaining.
I really didn't know what to expect when I watched this film the first time and having just watched it the second time, it hasn't lost any of its brilliance.
There isn't much of a story line (tribe gets captured for sacrifice only for one of them to escape) and the plot isn't much to ponder over. This isn't one of those films and a clever plot isn't what its about.
Gibson has taken an odd subject, such as Mayan tribal life and the notion of human sacrifice with paganism and made it into an utterly engaging and fascinating insight into their lives. There is excessive violence and shock factor, but it always seems to be out of necessity to portray the reality of human sacrifice and tribal behaviour.
There was creativity and invention throughout. The setting and the scenery was visually stunning and there were odd but mesmerising sequences (such as the jaguar chase, the underwater birth, the hunter speeding away from the pact, the diseased little girl, the brutal hunting scenes) that stand out.
I'm glad Gibson seems to be going against the dull Hollywood route and making movies that are challenging, out of the ordinary and different. This isn't a film that should make money on paper, but it's so different in its subject and the way it's made that the end product is fantastic.
Anna and the King (1999)
Good film but could have been much more
I knew nothing about the history of Thailand or the king portrayed in this film based on a true story when I watched it, so I approached it from a purely entertainment angle. It delivers as an entertaining, artistic and engaging film. The story line is interesting, the leading actor and actress are credible and the scenery is stunning.
Since then I have found out a bit more about the historical value of the king and his impact on the country. The teacher's influence on the king has understandably been exaggerated to suit the film's needs, but what I was disappointed with was the wasted opportunity to capitalise on the richness of the history and the significance of the events that played out.
The act of betrayal that the king experiences, the simply beautiful location, the spirituality of the king and his people and the political motives of the aggressors were all present, but the film tried to relate them all to the romance between the king and the teacher. They should have been tapped into in their own right and the romance shouldn't have been the primary focus of the film. I do understand that was the point of the film, but I think Hollywood's habit of looking for romance in everything meant they missed what would have been a great film without the need to rely on tried and tested method. I guess romance sells and film makers nowadays want to produce safe films that will sell, rather then genuinely explore interesting events, but this is one of those films where the director should have been braver and respected the audience's intelligence.
Still, as I said, it's an entertaining enough film, but I did not enjoy the, at times, cringe-worthy romance. Could have been an epic in my opinion but shame.
The Man Who Would Be King (1975)
Brilliantly adventurous with a poignant end
I love this film, it's a perfect rainy Sunday afternoon film to put your feet up to.
There are two reasons that make this such a memorable film. Firstly, it's the sense of adventure and discovering unknown lands along with the two leading adventurers. The madness and chaos of Indian markets leading to vast, unforgiving and exotic regions of northern Afghanistan and eventually Kafiristan was almost a documentary at times. The director's ability to capture the essence and atmosphere with each scene was a joy to watch.
Secondly, this was probably the best performances from Connery and Caine I've seen. They fit their roles like a glove. The chemistry and genuine sense of inseparable friendship was evident throughout. The light hearted manner in which they approach their goal of trying to conquer a mysterious, far away land by themselves makes it a far more fun film to watch. They don't take themselves too seriously yet their razor sharp humour and intelligence caries them throughout.
The two friends may have prepared themselves for all challenges along the way and overcome everything with humour and quick thinking. But can they prepare themselves for the eerie paganism of their destination and their own reaction to the huge responsibilities? It's one of those films that the term "They don't make them like that anymore" is applicable in every sense, without the cliché. Brilliantly ambitious film that should not be missed.
Låt den rätte komma in (2008)
As far as vampire flicks go, the film is nothing like I've seen before. The only other vampire film I thought was as original as this one was probably Park Chan Wook's Thirst (also brilliant).
The story centres around a young boy's relationship and growing friendship with a 12 year old girl, who turns out to be a vampire. He is bullied at school and she is fully aware of how different she is, giving them both a sense of isolation and drawing them together.
The cinematography was excellent. Picking a snowy, small town as the setting was a wise move in that it creates the dark and moody essence of the film. There is gory violence, but with real purpose.
The last scene is stunning. There is no glamourising or over-emphasising the violence, it's done subtly and brilliantly.
I very much recommend this film. Excellent.
Miyazaki at his best
I've seen this movie a few times now and it never fails to entertain. In fact, I take something different out of it, or notice something I haven't noticed before each time. There is so much clever animation going on that it is visually a stunning movie to watch.
Miyazaki is renowned for his imagination, but what separates him from other animators and movie makers is that he doesn't invent for the sake of invention or to show off his intellect. There is real purpose to every scene, every character, every set and every bit of dialog.
As others have stated, there are a lot of parallels and commentary on pollution, social etiquette, greed and consumerism, but it's done in such a subtle and clever way that it never comes across as preaching.
The music is perfect and to get the real essence of the film, you have to watch it in Japanese with subtitles. The story, about a girl who goes in search of her missing parents only to end up in a bizarre spirit world, is simple yet brilliantly told.
Animation is superior to most of the CGI driven animations from Hollywood. The fact that Miyazaki insists on hand-drawn material for his movies really comes across in the characters. There is real depth to the sequences. This was my first Miyazaki film and I became an instant fan, having now watched a lot of Studio Ghibli titles.
Overall, the movie is fantastic, storyline simple but clever and the animation is absolutely mesmerising at times. Great for kids and adults, don't miss it.