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Somehow, after seeing The Zero Theorem I have a little niggle that this
particular Terry Gilliam film will not reach the status of Cult Movie.
Mr. Gilliam filmmaking meritocracy has given us plenty to pick our brains'. His pedigree has surpassed the test of time and continued to thrive on their own individuality. As a visual-auteur, Mr. Gilliam has made what can be best described as cult films, take your pick, but, with the passing of time, I really do think that his latest edition to his repertoire may have, not by spite, simply slipped away into the abyss of standardisation.
This final instalment simply seems to be lacking in high-end originality, such is the irony to his auteur status here, The Zero Theorem does contain some fine points that delve, while not too deeply, into the human soul, the rest, the visuals, are your typical default Gilliam traits. What depth that is here is undercut by the Gilliam symbols.
We look into the life of one man who is disillusioned to the point of fear and apathy and with his want of the answer to the ultimate question; he dips into loneliness, depression and frustration. What makes the narrative more painful, that is for Qohen Leth not the viewer, is that the answers are, and have always been, staring right in front of him all along, and wisdom rather than knowledge added with the correct amount of strength and courage is all what is needed to have the ultimate question answered.
A nice little film whose mission is to fill the (Qohen Leth) heart with confidence and relinquish personal demons. Quaintly passable but as a standalone film it feels all too trite and with great sadness this edition to the Mr. Gilliam camp may be his weakest link which in hindsight may also be lacking in strength and courage to warrant it as a cult classic.
Personally, I was really disappointed by this movie, it seemed to fail
to have what I would call courage & conviction to play its part in the
myth that is Robocop. While having a setting of more than just a theme
of Cops & Robbers, it delves into the world of corporate business that
has a hold on the whole shebang. This is a lightweight contention that
has a simple story of family, corruption, science and revenge;
all-well-and-good, but it still lacks any grit that constitutes this
type of genre. The lack of any no-holds-barred grown-up action lets it
down that in turn makes this more of a Saturday Matinée than a Midnight
Movie. This was an experience without spirit, and at times predictable
filmmaking, you simply saw what was coming next albeit in the script
department, no originality and far too bland to warrant any real
What, too, lets this film seem more than tedious is its touch of extreme narcissistic values on its repetitive characteristic that it has to perpetually tell the viewer that there is only one Nation and that within this one nation, and its one peoples', there is the only one alternative to this new, futuristic Brave New World. Its stance here quickly becomes sour and reaches the point of obnoxiousness that never recedes. This is more than reflective psychology but a dim look into an attitude that conveys a world of narrow vision and one-dimensional traits.
The character's are too clichéd, too stereotyped; bland and, once more, one-dimensional, while Mr. Oldman and Mr. Keaton do do their jobs finely but add no real depth to the score, the remainder are too easily forgot. The use of Samuel L. Jackson's Pat Novak, can, at best, be described as a wasted exercise; this go-between is an unnecessary attempt to project this films narrative further. This not only fails at its job, but also could well have diluted the films mainstay. Whilst the action sequences' and effects' are slightly passable it, while not too surprising and exciting, is barely holding the whole piece together, it slips quietly under the radar, only popping its narrative head up more than often to remind its viewer who, exactly, is its target audience. To conclude it is a weak project that could have being firing on all cylinders but instead tends to backfire due to the lack of any real want for the film to finish first at the finish line.
This gig sold-out within an hour of tickets going on sale at the venues
box-office (November 14th) and it being, too, the first time the
Coliseum had held a concert of this type. This culture clash did have
its differences, particularly between the hippie type Rock audience and
the Opera Houses' rather well-to-do traditional staff and their
policies of etiquette.
The shot footage, here, was originally intended to be used for a forthcoming film entitled "Tommy" but the quality of the footage was deemed too poor and, in the end, the "Tommy" project was postponed (what footage was used can be seen in the 1979 film "The Kids Are Alright"). With such a show of this era, the era of Townshend wearing his white boiler suit and Daltrey's tassel's and flowing locks, this was the period when the band were at its tightest, its heaviest and its most energetic, with pure dynamism and control, your average Who gig would average from two to three hours. The night they played this 2500 seater was no different, this set spanned two and a half hour's. We see the Who performing "Tommy" (this being the first time the rock opera had been filmed) some seven months after the album had been released, and this performance here, as part of their tour of 1969.
Using several 16mm cameras (three in the stalls, pit and on stage) and due to the dark and grainy cinematography within the film for the fact that the lighting was set-up primarily for the theatre and not Rock music, some of the concert was unable to be captured, the music and soundtrack were recorded on a two-track recorder. With each camera only capable of holding twelve minutes of film does give the whole visual experience some sense of amateurish feel, to the point of it looking like a poorly directed bootleg. This all adds to the flavour of the times and gives the impression of a raw and rough & ready deliverance with what can seem like poor editing and irritating screen-jumps that comes with this mixed bag of rock, opera, theatre and stage.
Within the combination of poor visual quality, iffy edits and dodgy seque's, this really is a spectacular event that only rises the temperature the further the show drives along. Where this film lacks in visual expertise it certainly makes up for the fact that this, still, elaborate and dexterous rock n' roll performance and in its own unique way is highly individualistic simply because of the trappings of its settings. This may be your standard late sixties Who concert but this, too, is a film that stands out from the norm. Yes, we have four individuals strutting their collective stuff, but we also have a tremendous attribute to the virtues of Rock music and even if this piece had been sitting in the vaults for thirty-eight years, ironically, age has not withered and rotted away the energy of the performance nor has it eroded the attitude of its major components.
By the time Adolf Hitler (b. 1889) had written Mein Kampf (My Struggle)
he had already surmised that at least half of Germany's problems during
World War 1 were due to the lack of vision and skill to use and project
propaganda, to give it its political tag, enlightenment. This, the
method of control of the mind, body and soul to enhance its people to
complete dominance, oppression and obedience of the Will through fear,
hatred, paranoia, to the point of xenophobia. Hitler had learned his
lesson with extreme interest and with the onslaught of his uprising to
the days of his decline he had used the medium of the moment; film.
Dr. (Paul) Joseph Goebbels (b. 1897), Hitler's appointed minister for Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, had total control over all mediums, and film and cinema were to be his greatest ally. (Worthy of note here is the David Welch book "Propaganda and the German Cinema; 1933-1945" that delves into the mind and machine that is both Goebbels and his highly controlled medium which analyses major German propaganda film and documentaries of that era).
Here, with reel one, with A Film Unfinished, we see the birth of an idea that bears fruition but is never completed; the title of this film, within this documentary that is being examined is, simply, called The Ghetto. With no dialogue, no sound but simply a moment caught in time, it is, on first viewing, an account of life within the Ghetto of Warsaw: good, bad or indifferent. It is with this in mind that we are given an account of several interwoven worlds; we are shown the rich, the poor, the destitute and those with, seemingly, influence all congesting in one tiny mass of land, three square miles, committing to weddings, parties, funerals, a circumcision and life, all 400,000.
What A Film Unfinished tries to dispel here is the fact that with the finding of a second reel, later, the whole process before now looks very much tainted and dubious, Ms. Yael Hersonski has uncovered a conspiracy of fear and total obedience within the Warsaw Ghetto, conducted by the Nazi propaganda machine. Breaking the myth that what we have witnessed beforehand has been nothing more than a fabricated, constructed and manipulated tool to express how the Nazi regime and in particular, the Jewish community here, were living life happily, freely and independently.
This valid point of photo manipulation begs the question "What can we believe?", if this second reel had never been found would we still, with extreme caution perhaps, take the whole scenario for granted? What Ms. Hersonski has done is to discharge the myth of life, not so much as in the Ghetto, but the Nazis' point of view of life within its streets, with the account of first hand witnesses' and to have, too, an account from one of the Nazi camera crew. All making their point very well, an elaborate hoax.
What cannot be covered up with lies here is the squalor, deprivation and hunger that conflicts with the affluent rich that coincide with this open prison, this, just may have been the image that the Nazi propaganda machine wanted to project, a polar opposite of a community living side-by-side. To steer both resentment and disgust for these people by portraying them as weak and at the same time a selfish race.
The scene in which children caught with food under their clothing and forced to empty their pockets, seeing the food spill out onto the street, is both heartbreaking and at the same time untrustworthy, again, one has to be careful in judging what we see, as we have now become aware that not all we see is accountably factual. This is the power of the medium of film and this, too, ironically, is the power of Ms. Hersonski work here. Raising questions that need to be asked, has the documentary film ever been so poorly placed, so exposed to the point of questionable doubt. Can we truly believe in what we are seeing, even with today's medium playing its role in contemporary societies? There is only one possible simple answer, one possible simple solution, trust not in what you see on the screen but trust more in what one has to say, to hear and to experience. This is where the true documentary lies.
What makes this National Coal Board (NCB) film so wonderful is the way
in which it portrays Britain's proud and industrious industry some two
years after their initial national strike, by the National Union of
Mineworkers' (NUM) against the NCB, for better pay conditions. These
actions brought Britain to its knees with a three-day week, power
shortages and ultimately bringing down the Tory (Conservative)
Miners, directed by Peter Pickering, goes deep into the mines and the homes of those living in Bagworth, Leicestershire and is an account of life within this mining community and more particularly, the way-of-life deep within the collieries themselves. We are, too, invited into the living rooms of the women who also live this life and who bear testimonies, apprehensions and concern of their men who day-in-day-out work in these extremely poor conditions.
Told in voiceovers by the miners' themselves as the film journeys with them into the dark abyss of cages, pit-helmets, machines and coalface. We are given first hand accounts of the vast experience, for example, of how and why the mining environment would, and does, transcends life rather than it being oppressed in factories with the comradeship of the mining community. This is more than an insight; this is an education on pure British, blue-collar working class life, as dirty as the job may be this documentary is a refreshing look into a bygone age of 1970s Britain.
By the time, this nostalgic timepiece had been shot and the years had gone by, it was then the decade of Privatisation and the 1980s. The Conservative government, spearheaded by Margaret Thatcher, had sold, and closed, most, if not all, of the mines, another major strike had come and gone (1984-85) and this time it was to be the miners' who would lose, and with pits closing and miners losing their jobs, the epicentre of communities crumbled from within the homes themselves.
There are no more working mines left in the British Isle's and what there is are now only disused mines, working museums, empty lots, parking spaces, homes or shopping centres etc. The once "from generation to generation" mentality, as depicted within this film, had now wholly evaporated and that is the real, sadly, the only, purpose of this tiny snippet of English culture, to highlight a once thriving industry that held strong believes and with its working colliery was also the backbone of this thriving, living community.
Inside the realms of the English kitchen sink genre two films that revolve around the lives of the British mining community, that are worth a mention here, are Brassed Off (1996) and Billy Elliot (2000), two very different films but one central axis and, also, the tongue-in-cheek parody of the then Alternative comedy set that was The Comic Strip Presents with their own special brand of humour and irony and their personal interpretation, of the 1984-5 strike, that is called The Strike (1988). This is why Miners is such a valuable archive, of an era of pride, prosperity and optimism, there is no tone of malice or bitterness here; these are men who want to work and are proud to work on these coalfaces. This is more than an invitation to an inside look at an English workers' environment, this is, too, a wonderful and reflective monument of a golden age that does this culture proud whose, now, epitaph has been written in the sands of time.
The survivalist horror film genre, the concept of humans hunting other
humans, for whatever purpose, never strays onto the path of uniformity.
While the undercurrent motive remains largely very similar, it is a
well presented and interesting genre. Classics such as Turkey Shoot
(1982), The Running Man (1987), Hard Target (1993) and the greats' that
are Battle Royale (2000), Predators (2010) and Hunger Games (2012) do
show that there is variation, imagination and interest in this
Director, writer and editor Thomas Szczepanski has tipped his toe within this genre pool and has given a slightly surprising attempt at human confliction. Alex, a small-time reporter is under pressure to find that big scoop and with the sleazy backdrop of porn shops and strippers comes across an extremely secretive and brutal sport of where those who can afford to pay can afford to play, play that game of cat & mouse. Where the result is death and the rule of the game is there are no rules.
What makes this particular venture interesting is the way in which the unfortunate subjects' are enrolled into this elite den of depravity; kidnapped by feature-less white masked wearing thugs in monochrome outfits. Then after finding themselves tied & gagged with tongues cut out, and forced to, literally, run for their live, with each carrying their own purse of value, whoever slays the rabbit will venture in its worth.
This bears more than a feeling of foreboding; it actually accentuates the power of the situation that this reporter has naively placed himself. The whole experiment toward this genre does a fine job in building a steady rapport with Alex and empathising to his plight with the horrors with which he bears witness.
Being a French production, we should at least feel that we are in for a bloody treat while the production values are cheap and the location settings sparse. Whilst not comparing this expedition to the likes of other French Masters' as Martyrs (2008), La Horde (2009) and La Meute (2010), for example, but The Hunt does have its own values in shock, repulsion and bloodstained sequences to match the biggest of budgets. What also propels this feature further is the musical score by Fabio Poujouly, which really drives the action and sickening predicaments to another level and gels the fear and butchery together.
An independent venture, The Hunt is not a bad attempt, and too, not a poor one either, with seemingly restrictive finances it does do what it can in that it repels and disgusts, and thus, too, by doing its utmost to entertain becomes another drop in the ocean of the survivalist horror film genre.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Seeing Mark Hamill in the film Sushi Girl (2012) it was time to see
just how well he had adapted outside the realms of the Star Wars
franchise and into the wider circles of movie-making. Airborne, does,
as first, seem a real low-budget turkey, while the settings and cast
are somewhat minimal in stature the whole project here comes over as a
well-executed and entertaining movie. While the character development
may be a little thin on the ground, but there are a varied type and
style of character here to give a broad outlet of play, it is the
guessing-game and red herrings and plot diversions and masking what is
really going on under the surface that keeps this film on tender hooks.
This is throwing the hot potato around, not enough to confuse, but just
enough to make distractions and assumptions, playing, and coxing the
viewer into believing what they see is what they get. In addition, a
very good musical score projects the tension and atmosphere to its
relevant level that gives a good result all round.
A group of characters' embark on a plane journey, from England to the USA, in some very poor weather conditions, and that's just the start of their troubles, as there are just as worrying concerns inside this metal-bird as evil takes control, in both its spiritual form and the physical. So continues the passing of claustrophobic paranoia and mystic legends that entwine to bring an exciting adventure in the sky.
The plot itself is quite sufficient to keep the ball rolling, even if its weakest points are all too obvious. With the likes of Alan Ford (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels - 1998), Billy Murray ("The Bill", Stalker - 2010), Andrew Shim (Dead Man's Shoes - 2004, This Is England - 2006), Julian Glover (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade - 1989, The Halloween Kid - 2011 short) and Mr. Hamill, pushing it along with their respective personalities and charisma. It all makes up for a fun and rather exciting bout of tension and claustrophobic action. The resulting effort by writer Paul Chronnell (b.1968) and director Dominic Burns (b.1983) have created an impressive little number here and while no turkey this film does hold its own and can feather its bed in accountability for this particular genre.
Very roughly based on the great fantasy adventure writer Jules Vernes'
(1828-1905) work, we have a contemporary setting of a family torn by
absent fathers, missing grandfathers and wannabe step dads and growing
pains of teenage angst. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island is your
average film with its average plot that not only consists of one young,
and rather rude and insolent, adolescent who insists that travelling
around the world in search of his missing grandfather and the Island of
mystery without parental guidance and consent is quite the norm.
In contrast to this, we have Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as the stepfather, Hank, who is trying to break down barriers and connect with his stepson Sean (Josh Hutcherson) who is more than determined, and preoccupied, to finding his mystery prize. Mr. Johnson plays the role with little ado but can be, too, charismatic and hold a strong screen presence which holds the whole thing together.
The use of Michael Caine as Alexander is a strange one though; it is never really explained as to why Sean's grandfather has an English accent as apposed to the American accents from the rest of the family. In the end, Mr. Caine does a good job as old adventurous gramps and the cocky side to his nature soon becomes apparent when Hank turns up and the war-of-words between these two alpha males soon changes its tone to mutual respect and camaraderie. It is very much the male-bonding type movie here, all differences are soon quashed, and the true adventure begins.
Luis Guzmán (The Hard Way, 1991, Traffic, 2000, Mystery Men, 1999) as both Gabato and comic relief and his daughter Kailani (Vanessa Hudgens; Sucker Punch, 2011) as love interest and eye-candy fit in perfectly to the proceedings. We see Mr. Guzmán with the best lines, which defuse the tension between the two adults and their family rivalries, not to mention the horrors of the Island itself. Curiously enough, though, Luis Guzmán is nowhere to be seen in the films publicity shot, in particular, concerning the main headliners' running across the lizard eggs and being chased by said lizard.
The negative aspects of this film can be seen in its actual narrative, in the way that it is simply too short a story, the concept here is superb but a long way off the mark from its true roots. The sad thing here is that as soon as the adventure begins, as they enter the island, and meet old gramps, they are thrown into turmoil and the holiday is over, they are looking for an escape route. No true adventure and no time left to explore the island proper, where the real adventure, no doubt, begins. This, literally, non-stop episode feels flat and is the weakest link in the chain, too bad that they, and the viewer, could not have seen more of this mysterious island and seen more of an adventure.
There are films out there that are more inclined to be honest to the novels own narrative and maybe a try of Mark Sheppard's (2110), Cy Endfield (1961) and Russell Mulcahy's TV movie of 2005 interpretation of the Jules Vernes 1874 novel may seem fitting. Brad Peyton's version is okay, in as such that this is more directed as a family adventure and this is its heartbeat that rings throughout and no bad thing either, rather than the adult theme the original dictates. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island does not raise-the-bar but in the ladder of evolution may only just be starting to climb itself out of the primeval bog of Jules Verne's classic fantasy adventures.
This late 1980s cult movie is reminiscent of the 1950s B-movie sci-fi
genre with films such as Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) and The
Blob (1958), Killer Klowns from Outer Space is a marvellous updated
version of the time when this genre thrived on the fear of alien
invasion, usually Martian, and small town, usually American, paranoia
of the unknown.
The unknown here being the films main source of thrills and entertainment, clowns from outer space, coming to earth to use humans as food. It is not only the films main narrative here that enthrals, but also the way in which these extremely evil and unsettling looking clowns go about their business. Killer Klowns is a tree-way-split, as we have the invading clowns and the battling teenagers who are, too, at odds with the Cove Crescent local Law enforcement such as the charismatic John Vernon (1932 - 2005) (Dirty Harry, 1971 & Animal House, 1978) who plays the rough, cynical and generation-gapped cop Moonie who shines with pure style, determination and personality.
We also see the clowns artillery that is, of course, circus based, all those nice and pleasant circus toy's and attractions that have become associated with fun and games are turned around and used as deadly weapons of war, all unnerving as we see each unwitting victim drawn into the trap that has so treacherously been sprung. Killer Klowns is not only a horror science fiction tale but also an entertaining comedy that bring freshness to this genre, albeit, too, the killer clowns persona and imaginative and bizarre surroundings that perpetuate the feel of certain dread and foreboding. Clowns are cute, cuddly, funny and romantic; these Klowns are quite the reverse and are not too proud to show it. The biggest personality,though, within this film has to be the ultra-strange flying saucer, in the guise of a large circus Big Top, and the labyrinth of deathly corridors and monster, literally, surprises. It's all so confusing and bewildering to the eye and is more than an integral part of the films proceedings. Along with its eerie electronic soundtrack, and the way that it can turn it itself around from its black comedy tones and delve into the world of the surreal that never leaves the creepy atmosphere of the superb soundtrack of the 1950s science fiction B-movie; superlative, imaginative and worthy of this franchise's respect.
With only the option to seeing this film in 3-dimension, The Darkest
Hour, here, should have its name extended to the darkest eighty-nine
minutes, this movie, pushing the gimmick of 3D as its, seemingly but
not, only interesting niche, this film, as a whole, simply does not
push and open boundaries in, ironically, any way other than the films
main theme would have you believe.
Its agonising cinema having to sit through a wafer-thin plot. Weak and shallow at best, and with elusive characters that are quickly dismissed as quickly as they arrive, no feeling of empathy here but a shiver of apathy and less than mediocre sensationalism that this genre should at least bring with it. The golden age of sci-fi has firmly turned to rust and eroded completely with contemporary filmmaking, even to the point pushing for the happy ending between the Olivia Thirlby's Natalie and her finally finding that her mother is alive and well; sentimental mush that showed no guts or bravery to be worthy of an honest science fiction movie. With these one-dimensional beings that live in this 3-dimensional world, it is all too easy watching and never raises-the-bar to any level of contention, passive cinema is what we have here.
While an interesting concept, invisible invading creatures come to earth killing all they encounter to steal the worlds minerals, enhancing the films narrative to a degree of depth and dread would have steadfast the excitement levels to a higher plain. The Darkest Hour misses the mark completely and turns itself into a edifice of dull repertoire that has the charisma and style of a dead light bulb.
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