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I love all mediums of expressive art, but I tell a story much better than I paint or play an instrument etc.
I don't have a particular favourite genre of film or story-telling and unlike most artists, I have nothing against popular culture. (i'd rather try and change it, than moan about it)
I feel people don't give enough attention to films that aren't in English. Which is strange, because less than one fifth of the globe speak English as a first language? But hey-ho
I'm in the middle of making my first micro-budget film and hoping eventually to get a commission to write and/or submit for a studio.
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The Monuments Men (2014)
A lack of everything..
Uneven, unfunny, plainly dull, poorly acted, lacking any recognisable narrative structure, completely devoid of discernible artistic/directorial style and just a big waste of everyone's time.
Oh the irony that the film tells the story of saving works of art! but I'd suggest they'd have needed an act of god to save this piece of rubbish.
There was nothing at all to redeem this nonsensical flick and I'm sure GP's would soon be prescribing as a cure for insomnia if the effects weren't so severe as to actually risk educing a coma.
Give it a wide-birth or give it a watch the night before something important, you'll thank yourself.
I rarely eulogise about big –budget cinema nor do I exalt the virtues hyped-up films with big marketing budgets, I find them all too often under-cooked. Rush is certainly the exception to the rule.
The characters are fully formed, the plot is purposefully driven and the script is nicely punctuated with recurring humour and clearly developed acts that move the story forwards while retaining a sense of it's self.
If you don't know the story already, then you're in for a treat. If you do; then you've the opportunity to get the full visceral fly-on-the-wall experience of what was happening behind-the-scenes (artistic licence seems to be within a fair margin of error).
Ron Howard seems to flit between the sublime and the ridiculous, with Rush most definitely being the former rather than the latter.
The casting of Hemmsworth as Hunt was always going to cause ructions, but to my taste he manages to effortlessly embody everything about the racing "superstar"; from the 70s swagger to the clipped speech pattern Hemmsworth delivers a memorable and driven performance.
The real star of the show however is neither Howard or Hemmsworth, but the excellent Daniel Bruhl as Austrian racing legend Nikki Lauder. Having been an admirer of talents for a while, it was only a matter of time before the promise shown in Goodbye Lenin, the Edukators, Inglorious B's etc led to leading roles in major international productions. His performance in Rush is as measured as it is passionate and (admittedly helped by the story) it's Bruhl who comes out with the most credit.
With an admirable lack of profanity Ron Howard and counter-parts have skilfully delivered the best racing movie in many a long year.
Rush is a film made with enough craft to draw you in and entertain you, and far more than enough guile to keep you intrigued long after the credits have rolled.
Man of Steel (2013)
So close but yet so far
Superman seems to be a character that has always split opinion, so to have an equally polarising director like Zack Snyder directing the film was always going to be a recipe for intrigue and interest.
I've read a lot of reviews on here where people scream superlatives about the delineated narrative structure or use sentences like 'finally a Superman film to be proud of' (yada yada yada)...
The truth is that these statements are undeniably true and yet also irrevocably false. Tough to figure? I agree.
Essentially while there is a lot to like about the story, the direction, Henry Cavill, Kevin Costner et al, there is still a lot missing, Too many scenes that are never established, too many careless shots inserted haphazardly amongst the beauty the adorns the rest of the piece, too many jerky and off-kilter lines in the script that take you out of yourself and make you realise that you're just watching a movie and nothing more.
I still hold BATMAN BEGINS up as the greatest super-hero film to date, but MAN OF STEEL felt like the best bits of WATCHMEN, mixed with the worst bits of DARK KNIGHT RISES.
Overall, it's not a convincing narrative, nor a very carefully constructed movie and yet, it does have some rough edged beauty to it.
So much to like, yet so much room for improvement.
Unique and Beautiful
Don't expect a Jason Bourne spin off with mass appeal and tons of action. Its cold hearted and slow paced demeanour won't win it the affections of the action-junkie fraternity, but then; who really cares? Hanna is as beautifully bold as Driver, Revolver and Memento and is shot as gorgeously as anything Joe Wright has done before.
If you're genuinely into movies that challenge preconceptions and are stylistically innovative then check Hanna out.
Anyone with half an open mind will doubtlessly be able to distinguish Hanna's merits.
It's a breath of fresh air....
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
The Dark Knight Rises is a mishmash of at least three different Batman Comic story-arc's combined haphazardly into an incoherent mess.
The whole thing reeked of poor storytelling, an unclear vision, an overly bloated story and having to apiece raft of characters.
The photographic direction is interesting in places but all together doesn't have asense of its self or any consistency.
Nolan also gives the audience almost no credit to figure out anything for themselves, feeling the need to film an explanation for every question that is posed and thus very much dumbing the movie down.
It's not the worst movie ever, it has plenty of redeeming features. It just certainly doesn't even come close to matching the heights of Inception, Memento, The Prestige or Batman Begins.
Robin Hood (2010)
Irresponsible story-telling and direction.
Will the real Ridley Scott please stand up?!
I lost count of the number of times I had to think to myself 'let it go, it's just a movie'. Which is really this film's biggest failing, you don't believe you're there, you don't get engrossed in the story and in the end you don't really care about the ending.
Yes it does have some interesting neo-twists on the old fable, but they still only help lift the film from being rather poor to very average.
It's not dreadful, in fact some of it is shot very beautifully. These moments however were all too fleeting and often segmented by tired unbelievable scenes that served little or no purpose and really didn't act as any sort of conduit for forthcoming events. As with a lot of Mr Scott's more recent efforts, bits of it work and bits of it don't.
It's just a shame that Ridley tore apart a classic and couldn't reassemble something better with the doubtless wealth of talents at his disposal.
The Invention of Lying (2009)
An opportunity missed
I read the script for this film a little over two weeks ago and found myself chortling along at the inane subtexts of the comedy and the deadpan insanity of the world created. The script was crafted beautifully and had enough heart and delicacy to allow you to forget the lunacy of the concept. I really looked forward to seeing what would likely be a very good film.
How wrong I was. It was a shambles.
I don't know who's idea it was to dumb down the film and change a lot of the context in it but it just ended up a completely wishy-washy mess of a movie. There was no explanation, there was no build up, there wasn't even a decent level of consistency to the characters.
Ricky Gervais obviously wrote this script with the purpose of playing the lead. For the sake of the project however, someone should have had a word in his shell and told him to hand over the reins to someone else. He doesn't fit in at all, he sticks out like a sore thumb, the way he plays the part undermines the rest of the film incredibly.
Not that Gervais (who I am a massive fan of) is not the only problem. The film has changed from being a journey of discovery (in the script) to a plain, badly made, romantic film, so bad that it insults the term rom-com.
There are vital omissions from the story-arc of the script, which change the tone. None more so than the end of the film which, in script form highlights the various character developments achieved in the story and leaves you feeling positive. Rather than the false & less than humorous finale that I was made to suffer.
I really can't recall a time I've been so disappointed in a film.
That Gervais can write and act fantastic comedy is not in doubt but this was a shambolic own goal.
Avatar: The Matrix meets Braveheart set in Fern Gully; with traces of the Phantom Menace.
A couple of years ago I found myself wondering what had ever happened to that once great director James Cameron? You know the one; he produced a string of hits, Titanic, T2, True Lies, Aliens. He had managed to circumvent the artistic divide somewhere between critical acclaim and box office success. Whatever happened to him?
Basically, Avatar happened.
It was an acorn of an idea that; like anything worth investing time in, has taken many many years to bring from infancy to adulthood. A real labour of love that has made a lot of recent waves in the media for setting new records for budget requirement and length of post production. All of this coupled with the kudos that goes with a James Cameron project, mean that the goalposts for success both critically and financially, were going to be set pretty high....
As a film Avatar works fairly well, it sets it's building blocks on very firmly established sci-fi ideals and ensures at all times that no matter how imaginative the storytelling; the realm of reality that has been crafted is consistent and believable.
There are a lot of nuances that would have you believe Avatar has scrounged strong plot moves and ideals from several other films and on the whole this has to be accepted. Avatar cannot be considered a wholly original or innovative sci-fi movie. In my mind I can set aside some of this 'borrowing' by clinging on to the fact that the first draft was apparently written a long time before some of its predecessors were ever conceived. This however does not excuse any of the stylistic elements which make Avatar look very much like an homage to The Matrix, The Phantom Menace and the Halo franchise.
There is an amalgamated feel to Avatar which is all its own and if you can forget that you are seeing a fairly straight forward, unidirectional story unfold before your eyes; then I think there really is something in there for everyone.
From pretty much the first scene it was fairly obvious what was going to happen to Jake Sully and how the character would develop within the realms of the story. However the was still enough drama, action, romance and political overture to keep me enthralled for the majority of the movie.
there is a 30 minute segment in the middle of the picture which judged against the rest, could be considered a little dull. However even this section could never be considered lifeless or without heart, nor would make anyone turn the movie off or leave their seats. In truth this part of the narrative is almost unavoidable and within the realms of the characters provided is absolutely inevitable. There is a certain school of thought, that would lead me to believe this part of the story is deliberately slow burning to allow the magnanimous crescendo at the finale to be accentuated, however I have to temper that opinion by saying that it still won't be to everyone's liking.
There is a message in Avatar that is obvious and makes no excuses for its self and to a large extent; no excuse is needed. The overtures it makes have been made for as long as mankind has been in existence and there are very few people in the world who would be blind the problems it attempts to highlight.
The acting throughout the film is universally excellent. It is now obvious why Sam Worthington is such high demand after only a very short carrier thus far. Sigourney Weaver reignites her relationship with James Cameron demonstrating the vigour that came before. She acts as a good foil for Worthington throughout. The undoubted star of the show however, isn't actually an actor or actress but the CGI created 'Nytiri' voiced excellently by the increasingly impressive (and busy) Zoe Saldana. The effects department have obviously taken extreme care to ensure the complex delicacy of the character is obviously but subtly presented on screen (it's a real triumph).
Whilst the story isn't pulling up any trees (sorry that's a pun) or filled to the brim with new ideas, the CGI team have mastered the images presented absolutely faultlessly. It really could be considered an evolutionary step forward in digital media and green screening. Through 120+ minutes of entertainment their expertise can never be questioned.
So whilst there are overly corny moments that will have some audiences rolling their eyes and there are periods of sentiment and political overture that are laid on a little thick; these slight errors in judgement can be forgiven because the overall attainment level of the film far outweighs the slight glitches.
A masterpiece of storytelling? No. But a memorable, enjoyable, inoffensive and likable motion picture? Yes, most certainly.
Diary of the Dead (2007)
Diary of the dire.
I've been a Romero fan for as long as I can remember but for also for as long as I can remember I haven't seen any film as bad as Diary of the dead.
It's a complete disaster from the first minute to the last. There are some of Romero's trademarks; like misplaced laughs and typical scene's of gore along the way, but all in all it's a film with no direction and more importantly no purpose.
It's often too easy to lay the blame for a poor movie at the solely at the directors door, however in this instance I can find no other vent for my anger. What was he thinking!?
He's tried to intertwine several different movie concepts and ended up with a preachy, comedic, mockumentary about a bunch of characters that the audience really doesn't give a damn about.
The film makes obvious overtures about the way society is heading but then follows it up with a preachy voice over from a witless film student and a slice of comedy to try and keep the audience in their seat.
The plot is atrocious; the characters have no redeeming qualities and there is nothing in the 90 odd minutes that you can possibly identify with. To add insult to injury, the actors seem to be taking things seriously, when in fact if they'd played more tongue in cheek, they might have better fitted with the absurdity of their actions.
This film is not a comedy, not a horror, not a documentary, not a social statement, not an annalistic tale of morality and not a B-Movie. It is a mishmash of different movie making ideas haphazardly thrown together to create an uneven tale of a bunch of idiots who think they are a lot smarter than they are.
Please, please don't make me watch it again!!
Flight of the Conchords (2007)
Good one Dave. Ohhh, you're a legend Dave.
I guess the general rule is that in any 1st season of a comedy there are going to be highs and lows. However this could be the exception to the rule. It was brilliant from start to finish. Anyone lucky enough to listen to the Conchords radio series in the UK or to have seen their HBO one night stand slot will not be disappointed. The humor is subtle and at times could be likened to the UK version of the office with Rhys Darby in the David Brent role (band manager Murray). Bret and Jermain satisfy audiences with their witty repertoire of songs and inane banter, all while the world around them seems to make less and less sense. Superb. A must see.