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Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa (2013)
This film is hotter than the sun...
I love Alan Partridge. Great show. Great character. He is a man for the ages... However, all series do not translate well into film, and if you're like me, you're hopeful but hesitant.
Well, I'm happy to say that the film preserves the characters, humor and dynamics of the show. Although in the first fifteen minutes or so I wasn't quite 'sold' that this is the Alan I know, the Alan I've come to love; the film really finds it's stride once the siege starts.
We've seen peevish Alan. We've seen cowardly Alan. It is only now--in this film--that we bear witness to heroic Alan, and I'll be damned if he isn't somewhat, reasonably heroic...
To sum up, the story fits Alan and doesn't venture outside it's station (a lesson that certain secretaries should learn well). It really plays to the series strengths and has some of the best Alan moments we've seen. All of that being said, I'm not sure how those unfamiliar with Alan Partridge will feel about the film, as it does cater to fans of the series for the most part.
Not cold, metallic and unfeeling...
Robocop (2014) is more of a re-imagining of the original story, rather than a simple remake of basically the same script. Here the focus is on the emotional and psychological stakes as much as the physical stakes for our lead character. There is more time taken to build a world and characters that live and breathe, which in turn makes for a better-rounded film. The effects of Murphy's transformation on both his family and his mind, make for a really interesting and less straight forward action flick.
The direction feels tight as does the script and cinematography. The actors really give their all in their respective rolls; there's not one performance that is dialed in. I liked Joel Kinnaman (who I hadn't seen previously) as Alex Murphy. He brought a gravity to the character I didn't expect. Gary Oldman is my personal favorite, as a doctor who finds himself sacrificing personal ethic for funding. Lastly, Michael Keeton plays the slimy CEO of Omnicorp Raymond Sellars, with relish. I was really happy to see him back in a larger roll again and he fits into this quite well.
I didn't even notice the lack of gore in this film and honestly didn't consider it until afterwards. There is action violence here and for me the PG-13 rating didn't really hurt it. However I doubt there's much here to appeal to a thirteen year old crowdyes there's actionbut the dialogue, character development and the underlying ethical questions the film raises are all geared toward more of an adult audience.
I went into Robocop expecting disappointment, but in spite of being at odds with it at the start I found myself swept up in what turned out to be a pretty engaging story. All-in-all (and I can't believe I'm saying this) I liked this film as much as the original. From the director on down to the actors you can tell they cared about this movie and gave their best. The film aims pretty high and for the most part succeeds.
Europa Report (2013)
Keep the mission alive...
Europa Report tells the story of a crew that is sent to Europa (one of Jupiter's moons) to collect data and find out if there is life there. I won't say anything else plot-wise, since I feel that less is more with this type of film.
The tale is told via the fixed cameras throughout the ship and news reports from earth. You could say the film almost has the feel of a documentary. This may make it sound like a found footage film, and I suppose it sort of is, but with a difference. There is no shaky camera work, thankfully, and the fixed positions are used to great effect throughout the film.
The special effects are realistic looking and seamless, so much so I didn't even think about them until now.
The acting is fantastic and comes across as realistic and natural. I was really pleased with the delivery of every actor.
With how well tread films of this type are, I thought that there was a very nice effort to create something unique here. My only gripe is that there are a few times at the start of the third act where things get less believable. Though disappointing, since I found the film to be very solid and grounded until that point in the film, it didn't injure the film irreparably. Altogether I found the film to be tense and interesting, with a very nice ending.
Though not quite as good as say, Sunshine or Moon, if you enjoy that type of film this is definitely worth checking out. Just don't go in expecting a creature feature or action film.
An unusual espionage type film...
'Cleanskin' stars co-stars Sean Bean as a secret service agent in pursuit of a new terrorist cell responsible for a recent string of bombings. Abhin Galeya co-stars as one of the terrorists in the cell that Sean Bean is pursuing.
Sounds simple right? Well, it's not all that easy. This is perhaps one of the more complex and thought provoking espionage thrillers I have ever seen. Which is in part due to the way it humanizes protagonist and antagonist alike. While within the first twenty minutes I thought I may be simply watching a low budget 'Taken', it became abundantly clear as the film went on that this is an entirely different type of tale.
The acting all around is fantastic. Sean Bean does a great job at turning the type of character we've grown to expect from these types of films into something really interesting, and he proves his ability in relaying his characters growing inner conflict. Abhin Galeya was unknown to me previous to this film, but truly blew me away. His acting is measured and restrained, which keeps you interested a character that (in less capable hands)might not have been interesting.
For those wanting a movie like 'Taken' or 'Born Identity', this definitely isn't it. However if you like political thrillers and films that challenge convention a bit, you may just walk away pleasantly surprised.
A drive to nowhere...
Drive is the type of film that just is. It didn't illicit any real reaction from me or offer any surprises. It's atmospheric, zoned out and trippy, but that does not mean it's good. If you watch lots of movies then you'll be sure how it's gonna end by probably the midway point. The acting is good, but there are a few characters that are miscast and feel out of place in the film. The film has very little momentum and lots of tension which by the end feel like it's squandered. I think this film is one of those cases where people call the director an artist; it has A-list actors---so it must be good right? I kinda disagree. The movie on the whole just left me feeling lukewarm.
La finestra di fronte (2003)
Facing Windows: a mystery, a love story and a parable
Facing windows is the story of Giovanna, a woman that has grown dissatisfied with her marriage and her husband. She secretly watches the apartment that faces hers and the handsome bachelor Lorenzo that lives there. Her life suddenly becomes more interesting when her husband brings home an elderly man named Simone, that cannot remember where he is from or who he is. As the search for Simone's home and past continues, she finds help from her handsome neighbor Lorenzo. Will she fall in love with Lorenzo? What is the secret behind Simone's past?
While this may sound like a steamy story of a dissatisfied housewife (the type that has become so overused in film), it is actually a very unique story that may not play out exactly as you are used to. All of these characters are brought to life wonderfully on screen and linger with you long after the film ends. It has a gentle message, something to chew on after the film is done, but it is more concerned with telling a beautiful story.
Great acting, cinematography, and a unique story make this a film that even the most cynical film-goer will enjoy.
Isolation: The ultimate in mammalian terror
Isolation is a film with a great small cast of characters, a bleak atmosphere and a soundtrack to compliment these things. It takes place on a farm and involves the genetic tampering of cows; things go awry and all hell breaks loose. I won't say more than that.
For its humble budget, the film manages quite well to capture the tense atmosphere similar to films like Alien and The Thing. However, the film carries its own weight without relying too much on homage/imitation. The cast is solid and believable; you learn just enough about each character to either care about them or hate them. Although the film moves pretty swiftly into the action, it's careful to tell a story and draw the audience in as well.
Although the plot may sound a bit silly, it managed to make me believe in it. The cinematography and location do indeed give a feeling of isolation, as does the score which is featured prominently from the opening credits.
I should warn that there are some intense moments of violence, mostly against animals. I actually found myself covering my face/eyes throughout a few moments (and I've never done that before). Needless to say, if you're sensitive to content like that, then this may not be a film for you. If, however you can get past that, you'll be rewarded with a pretty great film.
Who should check this out? People that miss bleak creature films like Alien and The Thing.