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14 out of 33 people found the following review useful:
Your grandfathers type of horror movie., 13 April 2012

The Cabin in the Woods has been pigeon holed as a deconstruction of the horror movie, a retro-styling of the genre... it's neither of those. Cabin in the Woods is, basically, a joyous celebration of the every horror movie ever made. And nothing more need be said. ... as we have to get to one hundred words however... is it funny? Yes, oh yes. If you've ever watched anything remotely horror related you'll laugh until your socks fall off. If you're a fan of mametesque dialogue you'll laugh til your socks fall off and if you were ever hoping Bradley Witford would again reach the dizzying comic heights of season 2 of the West Wing... you get the point. Forget spoilers - the first scene tells you everything you need to know about the movie - forget the trailers giving anything away - who cares - this is enjoyment de jeux. Fun for the sake of it. Every ten or so years someone pokes fun at the cinema in a way that no one else has done. The Great Dictator, Zelig, Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid, Scream... and now Cabin in the Woods. Trust me, you'll never take the line: 'Am I on speaker phone?' the same way again.

22 out of 38 people found the following review useful:
Flawed Beauty, 9 October 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

There's a lot to be applauded in the debut feature of Julia Leigh; not least of which the performance of Emily Browning who shows incredible talent and fearlessness in portraying a young woman who cannot connect to the world around her and who, essentially, is sleeping her way through life.

There's also a lot to be commended in Leigh's use of single camera, 'open' takes, allowing the actors to stretch into a scene and build emotional resonance over the arc of a scene; the same as theater. - the first scene shot for example was the death of 'birdman'. A scene that is both pivotal and incredibly hard on Browning. And not one you would usually choice for the first day of filming and it's a credit to both Leigh and Browning that it's pitch perfect.

Where it falls however, is in Leigh's use of film making. The single shot take is a great acting tool, but a weak and unnecessary editing one. The only two transitions used are seemingly 'cut to' and 'fade to black' and this doesn't help the audience in terms of emotional journey.

The use of symbolism, for example - the trail of berries, the open door, the house in the woods - lacks impact due to the single shots employed.

The aforementioned death of Birdman scene is transitioned to a mid shot scene of Lucy wiping tables with no visual clues as to why, leaving the incredibly painful, beautifully acted ending somewhat lost on all but the most observant.

We may, honestly, understand the ending. We may get the relationship of Lucy & Birdman. We may even accept her choices. But I don't think the film maker has done enough to help us enter the world and personas she has wonderfully.

Orson Welles famously tells the tale of his first day as director and being taken aside by the cinematographer who 'taught him everything he needed to know about film making in 12 hours'.

What Leigh needed here was a better cinematographer.

Biutiful (2010)
3 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Over indulgent greatness, 29 January 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

There's a lot to praise in Iñárritu's new movie. The acting, as expected is out of this world, not just in Bardem who is as brilliant as expected but in the scene stealing performance of Maricel Álvarez - who is incredible in her complex performance of a bipolar mother. In fact, there's not a bad actor here. From the bit parts of a cop on the take to the more central parts of the children (amazing complex performances by the child stars), Iñárritu knows how to get the best out of his actors. The realism is stunning.

However, the plot itself is less so. Bardem is dieing, sees dead people, is a criminal, a possible bad father - at least at the start - and poverty stricken. Any one of these would make a worthwhile movie but all three smacks of a writer unsure if he has the talent to pull it off.

There are also subplots explored but not required. The relationship between Bardem's character and his brother is an important and interesting one but as the movie - and the crucial ending - is about his relationship with children and their mother the time spent on it (a good 30 mins) seems pointless.

The Chinese racketeer with the gay lover is again worthy of it's own film but it's resolution bears no effect on the rest of the film and leaves us to wonder why the hell it happened like that (what was he paying Uxbal for? to kill his brother and the construction boss?)

All these points, and more, are both beautifully dealt with and lovingly crafted but the hour we spend on them we, the audience, would most readily take back as they advance... nothing. And tell us... nothing we're not already getting from the life of the main characters.

The message of the film seems to be that Bardem's Uxbal is a beautiful soul in the worst of situations and that while peoples lives may be a horror show, both he and the fantastically adroit Ige - wonderfully under-played by Diaryatou Daff - are beautiful people who do beautiful things for others.

The problem with this is that to get the point across, the writers do their best to paint Uxbal in the best of all lights. His sins are sins of Naivety not malice. He is to be pitied.

Leaving us wishing they'd cut all the other things and made his character that little less black and white and a little more interesting rather than... sad.

Like Babel before it.Iñárritu proves himself a master craftsman capable of getting the best out of unknown actors. Like Babel, he needs a better editor, especially at the script draft stage.

PS - Can anyone tell me; - Why do the dead people suddenly go all 'Ring' on us halfway through the movie? At the beginning they're siting and acting like normal people but suddenly they're all on the ceiling with twisted 'exorcism' limbs??? What's that about?

Falling (2005/II)
1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Indie. Very indie., 27 December 2006

There are budgets and then there are budgets. Any filmmaker who puts in the time, the effort and the imagination to make a full length feature film deserves all the credit they can get, but, as of writing, this has a 9 out 10 rating which, frankly can only have been given by those involved. The story shows promise. The pacing is right. But the actors are laughably bad - sorry, guys. the opening scene of the car thief? I'm no expert but to hot-wire a car you might actually have to do more than put your hands under the steering wheel - and the camera shots poorly chosen so that people have to cross them. I applaud, I applaud, I applaud the effort that no doubt went into this but it needed to be done in a theater first to hone the actors skills, to stop them overselling themselves on every shot and a 9, when Godfather gets 9.1 might be reaching a little bit. 2 stars out of ten. Someone hire the director. But you gotta be a fan to watch this one.