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Only God Forgives (2013)
People are missing the point
It's a shame that people seem to be missing the point behind this film. However, on one's first sitting, it's easily done - Refn's style and pace may fool you into thinking this is a dull, slow film. The long, seemingly unending shots of actors staring into the distance may make you question Mat Newman's (the editor) talent. But what you really need to do is to look deeper into the film, because behind the extreme violence, the beautiful cinematography & production design and questionable reality, there is an interesting message. That message really depends on how you interpret the film, and differentiates from person to person.
For instance, Vithaya Pansringarm's character can be perceived in a variety of ways - a silent angel out to balance the injustices of his city, a delusional man who thinks of himself as God, or a vengeful cop who is simply out to do his job. Ryan Gosling's Julian can be seen as a confused soul who is out to avenge someone he clearly despised, someone who is bullied into action by his persuasive mother. Kristen Scott Thomas's excellent portrayal of Crystal, Julian's thoroughly unpleasant mother, acts as a wedge between the two of them. And the motives of each of these characters are questionable throughout.
It's certain that Refn's ninth feature film is not a simple crime drama as you might have expected. Its twists and turns will almost certainly surprise you, and it will linger on your mind long after the credits roll. It makes you question what was real and what was not in a way I've never seen in cinema before. And it really is a shame that a lot of people seem to completely miss the brilliance and genius behind it.
Man of Steel (2013)
The Start of Something Great
I've just got back from the cinema after seeing Man Of Steel, and I have one thing to say: it was absolutely great. I'm not taking that away from it. However, in my opinion, not as great as it could have been.
Let me start off with the positives, because there are a lot of them. You have to take your hat off to everyone involved for making this film work. And it does work, really well in fact. One of the film's best attributes is that is manages to ground Superman in our modern day and age, without it seeming ridiculous. This, Snyder nails perfectly. The cinematography in this film is noticeably Snyder-esque, and the camera movement reminded me a lot of 300, which isn't a bad thing. All of the actors involved nail their roles, and Cavill does a fantastic job of portraying our modern Superman. Hans Zimmer's score is unsurprisingly stirring and uplifting, and completes the overall package, just like he managed with the Dark Knight trilogy. And the action, well, the action is something else entirely. The CGI is the best I think I've ever seen, surpassing even The Avengers of last year, and the sound FX hits all the right spots.
However, it's not a perfect film. My biggest gripe is that I felt there was very little character development in any character besides Superman himself. I felt like, had someone stripped away all of the CGI and action, the resulting film wouldn't have been up to much. This doesn't mean I'm taking away any of the merits the cast & crew accomplished in the epic action sequences, because they really did take my breath away, but in the words of another critic, 'less could easily have been more'. I felt that the final standoff (not giving anything away) could have been easily halved, or even cut altogether, and the film would not have lost anything. By the end of it, the huge action scenes became somewhat dull, because I felt like I'd already seen enough of them. This is one of the things I loved about the Dark Knight trilogy - there is a fine line between character driven moments and action, a line which Nolan hit perfectly and one that I feel Snyder did not. I suppose that's what to be expected from a director like Snyder whose previous films have revolved a lot around action sequences. I hate to compare the Batman trilogy and Man Of Steel, but it's very hard not to.
Overall, Man Of Steel is not as good as it could have been, that's for sure in my mind. However, credit must go to everyone involved, especially the great direction from Snyder himself, for pulling off what could easily be the start of a fantastic new franchise. I look forward to seeing where they take Kal-El next
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Two hours and thirty-four minutes of pure enjoyment
Until recently, I was one of the few people on earth who had not seen this film. However, a couple of days ago, I finally ordered the Tarantino box-set and sat down to watch Pulp Fiction. The phrase "blown away" is thrown around a lot regarding a variety of things, but I can honestly say that I am not exaggerating in the slightest. There are so many fantastic things about this film, but I think one of the film's best assets is Tarantino's magnificently woven screenplay. Halfway through the film, I was wondering how Tarantino could possibly link all of the stories together to make some sort of sense, and then he managed to spectacularly. The characters and moments he has created in this film will be remembered for years to come. He simply breathes life into all of his characters, giving them their own personalities and showing a three dimensional side to every single person in the film, even the more minor characters like Zed and Fabienne. Vincent's slightly dorky, disorganised gangster was brilliant to watch, especially when he is looking after Mia; Keitel's "Wolf" was seedy and yet classy at the same time; Butch's sentimental motives were humorous given that he had just killed a man for his own selfish gain; Christopher Walken's short scene as Captain Kooks made me laugh out loud. Even character like The Gimp were interesting enough to leave you thinking about them for time afterwards. Credit must, of course, be given to the performances of every single actor and actress in the film. There was not a single performance that was slightly out of place or off key to the world around them. Every line was delivered with perfect timing, and it made Tarantino's already great screenplay even better. My personal favourite was Samuel L. Jackson's portrayal of Jules, although I don't think that's a very original choice on my part. The cinematography in this film is equally memorable, too. There was not a single shot, just like the performances of the actors & actresses, that was out of place or drew away from the experience of the film. The long, uninterrupted shot of Jules and Vincent walking along the corridor talking about Mia's foot massage before the infamous burger sequence was one of my favourites. To top it all off, the soundtrack is pure genius I can't help but feel like a bad-ass whenever I hear Misirlou by Dick Dale or Surf Rider by The Lively Ones after watching this film. Handpicked by Tarantino himself, I hear. An interesting point about this film is the fact that it has no clear moral story or message. This, I think, is one of the reasons that I, and many people, enjoyed it so much, because it is not trying to be something that it is not. It is pure enjoyment, and the text at the very beginning makes it clear that the phrase "Pulp Fiction" means, essentially, "Trash Story". The mystery surrounding the briefcase is most likely Tarantino's way of letting the viewer decide what is in the case themselves, making for some very interesting speculation. Despite being very funny and very enjoyable, Pulp Fiction still has its dark, less enjoyable moments, one of the most memorable involving Marsellus, Zed and a basement (need I say any more?). However, Tarantino still manages to make these dark moments funny and enjoyable, and certainly manages to make them memorable. For a very controversial film about the criminal underworld in Los Angeles, this film is surprisingly timeless. I can genuinely imagine people still watching it for many, many years to come, and for them to enjoy it as much as the original audiences did, and as much as I did. Pulp Fiction is fully deserving of all the awards and popularity surrounding it, and manages to make the same impact on new audiences nowadays as it did to the original audiences nearly 20 years ago. Quentin Tarantino has truly made something special a classic, you might say. It will go down in my opinion, and many others I am sure, of one of the best films of all time. One of the only flaws about it is that I doubt whether Tarantino will ever be able to top it...
2012 was a year set to be jam-packed with highly-anticipated releases, such as The Hunger Games, The Avengers (or Avengers Assemble), The Dark Knight Rises and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, to name but a few. However, for me, surprisingly it was a smaller, less anticipated project which caught my eye.
A fan of The Matrix and Inception (two of the most complex and impressively woven films I've ever seen), this interesting take on the future of our planet had me hooked from the first teaser trailer. An impressive cast, trustworthy director and an intriguing plot is what first comes to mind.
Let me tell you, I was most certainly not disappointed. The incredibly clever writer/director of Rian Johnson does a perfect job of setting the scene in the first half an hour or so, surprisingly keeping the fast pace and tension throughout the entire film. Joseph-Gordon Levitt and Bruce Willis do a magnificent job as the joint main characters and are complemented by Emily Blunt, who yet again proves herself to be a rising star, not just in Hollywood but the film industry in general.
The film's intertwining script is delightful. Each scene maps into the next with fluidity not seen for a long time in film making. The plot twists and turns (for which there are many, I might add, although I won't give anything away) hit hard when they are revealed.
Looper proved to me that you don't need high anticipation or an enormous budget to produce a fantastic film. Where ever you may be in the world, however remote or however busy, make sure to get to see this film as soon as you can. Because it all really boils down to the overall message of the film: how far would you go to protect your future?
What's all the fuss about?
You know what? I get this film. I get what Michael Bay aims for these films. He doesn't make emotional or deep movies. He makes action-packed blockbusters. This is what, I think, people have forgotten about the director. This film, unfortunately, doesn't try anything fresh for the franchise - it is still the same "end of the world" plot with a couple of plot twists here and there. The characters don't really develop at all - Sam is still looking for something he hasn't figured out yet (in this case, a job); Megan Fox, now out of the picture, has been replaced by Rosie Huntington-Whitely, who is still there to stare at when the plot gets dull, although does well in her first big film; Sam's mother and father are irritating as ever; Optimus is dramatic and always arrives at exactly the right moment. This doesn't make Dark of the Moon a bad film, it just doesn't take the franchise in any great leap whatsoever. It provides a fairly fast paced, action packed movie with awesome special effects and incredible set pieces - probably better to wait until it drops in price and pick it up then.