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The Homesman (2014)
The sound of Oscar's clinking in Mr.Jones ears.
Started off well, then the central focus of the film shifted and it lost me. If, in telling an authentic western, the director has to make the story meander a little OK. But to lose it's way and end up making an egotistical, self satisfying, self indulgent eulogy to himself? If this is what it takes then, this director has made a classic of the western genre. ( If Mr.Eastwood can do it then why can't Mr.Jones? )
The films 'hanging the protagonist' at the half way point, and continuing the film essentially and implicitly 'for and about' Mr.Jones - leaves you perplexed and disappointed in Mr.Jones decision making. Possibly it worked in the novel. But the way it's portrayed on film, it just seems odd?
Was Mr.Jones relishing the movie goers tears, at the sudden loss of Ms.Swanks character? Was her death, supposed to be the sound of Oscar's clinking in his ears?
To centre so strongly on her, before killing her off. It just didn't fit the tale being spun. Made the rest of the movie uneven and strangely off kilter from then onwards. The sudden focus on Mr.Jones ( near characterless up to that moment ) felt ill fitting and credulous.
Suddenly on his own, we are shown the 'redemption' scene where Mr.Jones and his chaperon's aren't allowed food and rest. How he deals with that... is indicative of the movie's problems. Why was that scene there? and why did the heroine hang herself? Where did that come from? Why did three women in such a small town all lose their sanity - at the same time? Everything within the story, felt fabricated and fanciful.
The script should probably have been about her, her journey and completing it. Without her, the film seems misogynistic. All the female characters that we see for ninety percent of the movie irrevocably lose their sanity? The outward signs of the 'madness' of each of the women was cinematically vivid and startlingly detailed. But what was the point to it? That the 'old west' was harsh on women? but fine for men, as long as they're unfeeling simpletons?
Leaving the story chopped in two, killing off the heroine and making Mr.Jones
a little cinematic swan song. Didn't work for me and ruined
what was potentially an interesting production up to that point. No wonder Hollywood wouldn't back this films making
and Luc Bessons ( ill-advised ) French company stepped in to fund it. It's not all bad, but as a whole
it falls apart and should never have been made. Possibly a more experienced director, and not so egotistical... would have known this?
Space Station 76 (2014)
Ron Burgundy in space
What a waste of a production! Of all concerned... time, energy and resources.
Even Anchorman (Ron Burgundy) needed an anchor! Some kind of a story arc to strap the 'funnies' onto. This film felt like a drawn out sketch, a ten minute comedy routine, stretched to it's very suffocation point.
It ran it's length, with no sense of urgency or that the story or it's characters were going anywhere. Just one unfunny and stilted scene after another. The film, like the interiors of the station, all felt cheap, non atmospheric and anti-cinematic. Yes, the CGI was well... CGI, and the sets, a cross between Space 1999 and Red Dwarf - were, if somehow lifeless... were still of their period. But the acting, was... directionless. You really can tell, that no one had any fun whilst making this movie.
And talking of laughs? ...were there any?
I don't know, if from seeing the poster... anyone is expecting 'Guardians of the Galaxy' type mayhem? But a very stilted and unfunny 'Ron Burgundy in space' impersonation... is what you'll feel you got.
The Longest Week (2014)
Vin ordinaire pour la semaine
Within the hundred and twenty minutes of this film, I felt like nothing happened. Nothing memorable or of value to 'me as a viewer' had transpired. I ran through any possible recollected scenes or images, looking for anything to stand out. But was left with nothing... though, a small desire to write this.
I have always been appalled that 'Whit Stillman' has ever gifted us with his talents. His pretentious films ( ...and now television ) hail as shallow, as the artifice that he envisions for his characters to prance about in. Couple this, with a hatful of 'Wes Anderson' nobs and shouts... his own ( inimitable? ) fetishes, anxiety disorders and stilted filmic-stylings, and you are left with a view of the world that nobody can recognise. You are left with an impenetrable wall of unknowable characters, doing unimaginably odd things, for no apparent reason? Now wash this down, with a little light sprinkling of Woody Allen ...and the film drifts from likable, off and away into the rain clouds of despair.
The film does self-referentially ( in a sort of metafictional way ) allude to these shortcomings... in the scene where the 'now redeemed hero' reads from his novel. And explains that this, is his sophomore effort and will be meet with mixed reviews ( that it's derivative of Fitzgerald and Edith Wharton ) That it was 'just' ...a 'homage' of styles.
The director/writer is obviously telling us, that this movie is derivative of those filmmakers he loves and sort to imitate - These being Stillman, Anderson and Allen. ...and that to be held akin to them, is all that he was after. And we will all probably agree... he has definitely achieved this? But a film bogged down, being inspired by three such virtuoso talents, should at least bring something new for us to see? Not just the Dudley Moore, (1981) film 'Arthur' with unapologetically unlikeable WASP actors. Why couldn't it have had the frenetic energy of say, the cult classic 'A New Leaf' (1971) Elaine May/Matthau film? So, if you want to see an unmemorable, unoriginal, homage to Mr.Stillman, Mr.Anderson and Mr.Allen... then you're in luck.
But remember, that this movie supposedly sat on a shelf for two years... is understandable.
The One I Love (2014)
Solaris without the sci-fi
Starts off well and then dips it's toes straight into complete 'pedestrian' nonsense. It feels like a play, adapted or 'expanded' for cinema. With only two protagonists, the actors have to be good - or at least convincing?
Miss.Moss, I like her, can relate to her, imagine her to be sparky and interesting off screen. She's not the greatest actress, but I'm sold on her.
Mr.Dull, sorry, Mr.Dulpass on the other hand well, what kind of actor is he? A comedian, an anti-hero, an everyman or a leading man. Is he a good actor, is he even likable? My opinion, for what it's worth is that maybe he should stay behind the camera, or well away from cinema altogether? There are two of him in this film and that's 'two' too many.
The film is pleasantly shot, it feels like a sophomore effort, or a clichéd film school... "got to have a twist"project. If you can't fathom the ending, by half an hour in mark... you've probably had a recent lobotomy.
yes, the person we might 'magically' want our partners to be, isn't actually who they really are. So, if they were suddenly our 'idolised image of perfection'
they wouldn't be, who they once were. In fact, our loved one... would now be a stranger to us. But I don't think you need this film and especially the presence of Mr.Dull, to tell us this.
Assaulted from beyond the stars!
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. episode - 'The Double Affair' unwinds slowly to reveal a ludicrous plot. (But I suppose it kept the kiddies amused in the mid-sixties) This first series episode, with all of it's B&W monochromatic charm. Is not meant to be taken seriously, and that was probably for the best.
The story revolves around the 'otherworldly' idea that a 'power source' has been discovered, ( that makes nuclear weapons obsolete ) and that the only way to utilise this enormous power, is to build a bomb? Why? Well kiddies, so that our beloved Earth is not to be "Assaulted from beyond the stars" as Mr.Solo, so wryly points out.
This intimating of an imminent Alien attack to which a pithy, matriarchal female scientist says "It is more than a theory, but less than a proved fact" (I could of easily of told her as much) Leads to a secret 'code' being sent half way around the world. This deadly 'code' unleashes the terrifying bomb. The code has to be carried of course, on a commercial jet? ( An incredibly bizarre 'switching' of brief cases is made on board - which has to be seen to be believed ) Once the code is safely in the vault, the Aliens are done for. ( Then all we have to do is get those pesky aliens down into the vault )
We see Mr.Solo's cosmetically altered doppelgänger ( As seen in so many other 'special agent' related series - including a couple of times in the Bond series of films ) take centre stage for most of the episode. Brought into being by U.N.C.L.E's arch-nemesis 'Thrush' ( Which I can tell you is nasty, but not deadly ) They want the code and the bomb ( but not the Aliens obviously ) This leaves us strangely, seeing most of this episode through the doppelgänger's viewpoint and it's confusing should we really be rooting for him, or the original? Or is there any difference between the two of them?
As for Mr.Kuryakin, he's a walking mannequin throughout. ( Revealing how excruciatingly boring this job must actually be - if it weren't for Mr.Solo's coquettishness intonations ) Mr.Kuryakin supposedly relentless intellect couldn't even fathom the real from the simulacrum, given their special relationship and working camaraderie? Again, is he permanently comatose from the prosaic nature of the job? And apart from his 'surreal 'early run-in with a couple of 'crazy-eyes' toy robots, he's just blond scenery. So it's up to Mr.Solo, to go completely solo, on this particular show.
But never fear, all of your questions will be answered Will Mr.Solo be destroyed by the auto- destructing 'astro observatory'? Will he deactivate the Austrian bombshell that was Senta Berger? How many deadly 'karate chops' can one episode harness? by the episode's end.
And finally, as this weapon is kept safe in a vault deep underground. Our austere female scientist warns "a word of extreme caution, you must remain at a safe distance from the vault. The electro- magnetic-gamma-rays, create a kind of rapture and an hypnotic effect that causes anyone that looks directly into it, to throw themselves into the vault"
So, stay away Aliens
You have been warned!
The Signal (2014)
You're not in Kansas anymore Dorothy
This definitely contains spoilers baby!
Take the supposedly 'Internet obsessed' (Now dated and long dead) phenomenon of alien abductions, area fifty-one and add in, the 'know it all' 'super-computer-literate' to make an hour and half's entertainment. I think that this movie tries taking the 'hokum modern myth' of 'Alien Abduction' and has some fun with it. Aiming it at the computer literate and hoping that they identify with the protagonists, rather than with those middle-America Munchkins. I unfortunately started viewing, already knowing too much about it.
( Don't you feel that all movies should be seen without the aid of trailers or pre-reading professional or amateur reviews 'Like this one' - period. )
For knowing too much in advance - spoiled the ending and most of the journey getting there. I had a list of questions steadily accumulating, as the movie went on... like, what accident exactly befell our hero? Why was the female protagonist just a MacGuffin. Why did she seem to serve no purpose, but to further the plot and have no intrinsic value in and of herself? Why were these advanced alien cyborgs retrofitting bionic limbs onto dangerous humans? - yet somehow forget to add this same advancements onto their own forms? and, what possibly useful observations could they make, by adding these enhancements in the first place? ( Mars Attacks! - anyone? ) Why did these same aliens ( with at least thirty years worth of experience of adduction and torture) on finding relatively smart humans, let them so clumsily escape? and what causes them to suddenly decide to kill off... the rest of the parochial humans ( Hicks ) in their game reserve? How does our sneakily slow moving head scientist alien 'Damon' catch up with our 'road runner' fast human at the end? etc, etc... But I don't think any of this really matters.
Though, after seeing a film like Duncan Jones' 'Moon' - my main problem with the film is
that it's an adrenaline rush movie and therefore has no 'after' appeal. Unlike say Moon, I wouldn't watch this again. It you were to go back and then think it through, it would surely seem formulaic and fall apart. But as a sort of 'The Wizard of Oz' film, seen in reverse
and as an hour and half of 'brain freeze' entertainment, it's OK and probably worth seeing the first time around.
Ironside: The Deadly Gamesmen (1972)
It's all about the scenery
On first viewing this episode, I was taken by the main protagonists home. About which, I later found out was... 'The Ennis House' designed by Frank Lloyd Wright (Los Feliz, CA) It's been used in countless films, before and since ( Most notedly Bladerunner ) It's a star in it's own right, and makes for an unusually 'chunky' backdrop to any scene. With it's ancient Mayan temple themed, forbidding blocks and palatial size. Oh yes, the episode... Noel Harrison ( Famous for singing 'Windmills of the mind' and son of Rex Harrison - whom each won an Oscar for 'best song' - one after the other, Noel in '68 and Rex in '67) plays a deadly game of cryptic chess across San Francisco. Great, if you like that kind of thing... but especially worth watching for the 'Ennis House' location scenes.
A short film with no brakes
This isn't really a documentary about bikes. This is a brief and insular look at those various individuals, that prefer to ride fixed wheeled bicycles in California. A documentary about personalities by definition, should probably have some interesting personalities to cover. This is where the film fails. We glimpse some of the dealers and then
ultimately those addicted, the users. It skims over the history and delivers us directly into the hands of each individual rider. It is a well-made, technically proficient forty minute film. But those chosen to feature in it, are so laid back
as to be comatose. This leaves the film empty. We witness a posse of riders that like to cycle around getting drunk. We meet Martin, Marino and Gabriel, who like to anger drivers by 'snaking' around them on busy roads. Possibly because, they ache the big city messenger scene from twenty years ago. But there is no 'up' in this film, no message. Just a look at uninteresting individuals, doing something inanely physical with little or no genuine pathos or poetry. Like a BMX stunt video or some surfers
you know, just surfing. As Martin says ( and I'm paraphrasing ) "There's a divide between going fast or doing tricks, it's cool to jump off of things, but let's get back to going fast" It's not a protest film for clean, efficient transportation or the like
Just a very short film about 'NorCal/SoCal' youth getting into a fix... about the 'gnarly' side of being brake-less on a bicycle in California.
Heart String Marionette (2012)
Mentally, a juvenile film - adults should avoid.
Two hours of the worst kind of computer animation imaginable. Bad story, terrible animation, awful models and annoying sound and effects.
The story is one dimensional and juvenile, the animation is way behind rudimentary. The models are just stick figures and the characters just nod their heads back and forth... instead of lip syncing. Generally, the animation style is laughable.
This wasn't made by an artist or a poet. It isn't a brand new Brothers Quay or Tim Burton'esque. It was made by a warped individual spending far too long in front of his PC. Truly a dire experience with absolutely no redeeming qualities. Give it a miss, unless you like gawking into the darker 'rancid' recesses of the human psyche.
Columbus Circle (2012)
A cab ride to nowhere *Spoilers*
*Spoilers* One of the most bizarre main stream movies ever made. Cops letting suspects go, forensic evidence plot holes, Voodoo computer wizardry by novices, Women who dye their hair perfectly in minutes... the silliness of this movie just doesn't end. If you can actually struggle through this... entire 'MacGuffin' of an ethereally plotted movie. If you can cope with the incredible and not too subtle changes in character psychology. So blatantly written, in order to move to the films inexplicable denouement. Then someone please tell me, how does the main protagonist, whom we are told has no personal identification whatsoever... expect to board a plane?