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Casino Royale (2006)
Shaken, and stirred.
I'm not a huge Bond fan, that I will admit right from the start. I was dragged to see many of the Bronson films in the mid-90's to satisfy my Mum's admiration of said actor rather than to enjoy it.
I managed to secure a preview of "Casino Royale" thanks to my housemate; I'd seen a few trailers thanks to the Ford and Sony adverts and thought I'd go along for the hell of it.
When Daniel Craig was announced as the new James Bond, I was indifferent - Personally I was bored of Pierce Bronson's character - by all intents and purposes he resembled a "good" Bond but like many have said before me, towards the end the gadget reliance and cheesy lines had become tiresome. So I was looking forward to an entirely different incarnation of the Bond we know and love.
I was mocked as a woman going into the film under the impression that I was watching the title for the pure anaesthical reason of Craig, which I will not deny was easy on the eye. But the film is so much more than that.
Gone is the sequences that relied heavily on the gadgets provided in the preceeding Bond's - this was a gritty, high impact film that focused very much on an attitude and ego to overcome the odds. Craig fits the Bond status perfectly. He took the script and ran with it - the fight sequences are fantastically shot and dealt with without the need for invisible cars and the other guff Bronson's character had issued.
The relationship Bond had with M really complimented the film - Her reluctance to let him continue in the role after the Embassy cock-up was followed throughout the film; at the start M wanted his head on a plate, and by the end she was ready to place him in the next mission.
The scenes with Vespa (played brilliantly by Eva Green) were entirely believable. I was mildly concerned to see a Bond become so attached but it was for the right reasons. Although Bond is the sort of character that is a "shag em and ditch em" guy, the relationship with Vespa, although predictable was scripted and acted fantastically. For those saying Eva Green made a "poor" Bond woman because she wasn't the "atypical" type, that's just crap. Vespa was beautiful in a very unassuming way, which was wildly different from the likes of Denise Richards and Halle Berry.
The arrogance and egotistical attitude of Bond, played perfectly by Craig made the film. Suave and sophisticated, but gritty and rough was a good combination and something I felt the preceeding Bond's never properly grasped. Casting Craig as Bond was the best thing the franchise could do to perk the interest once more.
I give the film a healthy 9 out of 10 - a point knocked off simply because my arse was aching by the end - at 144 minutes although I wasn't bored, expect numb buttocks and for the love of God, get a seat with leg room to enjoy the film at it's maximum potential.
12 Angry Men (1957)
12 Angry Men...12 Individual Opinions...classic.
12 Angry Men; The simplicity of this film, I believe, prevents it from being named in lists of best ever movies. I was surprised but equally glad to see it ranks #17 here, but have also seen it unfairly omitted from several other polls of modern times.
What really strikes you about this film is that the entire sequence is shot in one room. The moment the court attendant locks the doors, you can feel the tension of twelve individuals merging under the surface. The film isn't about spending vast sums of money on creating a blockbuster, nor does it feel the need to explain every last detail about each of the characters portrayed. Perhaps these key differences are exactly the reasons "12 Angry Men" strikes one as so effortlessly brilliant.
One of only two shots outside of the room is at the beginning, with the exasperated judge calling for the adjourned verdict from the jury. You have a closing shot of the young boy on trial before the twelve men assemble themselves into the sticky, humid room to consider their decision.
The movie doesn't take a long time to get started. Questions are raised instantly and answers are given. Juror #8 (played by Henry Fonda) instead glares in a moments reflection onto the street below as the other eleven men give their first impressions willingly. It is clear from the conversation that the majority who have spoken are convinced of the boy's guilt, with many of them keen to come to a final verdict as soon as possible.
Instead, upon the first vote, Juror #8 goes against the grain of everyone else and decides to pitch his verdict of not guilty to the astonishment of his fellow jurors.
What happens next is 80 minutes of passion, pain, conflict, and conclusion.
What I find remarkable about the character of Henry Fonda is although he is not convinced of the boy's guilt, he is also equally not sure about his innocence. As he poses questions and figures out answers, it is clear that he is realising these facts at the same time as everyone else. In the depths of his mind, he has ideas surrounding why the boy might be innocent but needs to formulate them, and he is able to do that via the other jurors, even the ones that put up a fight. As he finds more reasons to doubt a guilty verdict, his reflection allows the other eleven men to do the same.
With each revelation, and the testimonies brought into question, you can feel the passion of twelve individual opinions. Whilst some of the jurors were not so outspoken, they still played a part in peeling apart the layers of badly constructed trial. Whether it was a personal experience (such as living by the El Track, or wearing glasses) or just an view of one man, they all fitted together in a jigsaw that eventually, couldn't be disputed. As the film reached the climax, so did the heat, finally erupting into a violent storm that reflected the tension in the verdict room. In particular, it was parallel with the clash between Juror #3 (played fantastically by Lee J. Cobb) and Juror #8 (Henry Fonda) - 8 being the stand alone verdict of Not Guilty to begin with, and by the end, 3 being alone in his verdict of Guilty, before breaking down.
The film was beautifully directed, shots of the intense weather, the cigarette smoke drifting away and the passion of the twelve men in deciding their verdict reflected in their perspiration collaborated effortlessly with the script. There was no need to delve any deeper into the characters, build exaggerated story lines or become unnecessarily violent. All it needed was twelve men, with different backgrounds, to explain themselves.
Come to life...
This film won't change your life. You won't switch off the DVD and feel as if you've reached the pillar of amazement. But in some way, you do. You almost want to live in that era; you want to wear bowling shoes and drive a motorcycle down a deserted US road with a Mannequin on your back.
It's not an intelligent film, the gags are slightly cringe-worthy and while the stereotypical gay parody can be funny it can also annoy you. Felix, the security guard with Rambo the dog does make you want to switch off the DVD and go and watch something with some more substance but don't. Hold back, and watch the magic unfold.
Kim Cattrell makes this film light up; she is entirely believable as a soul who feels she hasn't lived and any moment of madness is relished. You can imagine her as a frustrated, contained soul in a birdcage who wants to be free, and Andrew McCarthy brings that out in her. McCarthy, although is often slated on acting ability actually plays the role well as a failed artist with questionable sanity once Emmy (Cattrell) comes to life.
It is very much an 80's film, with an embarrassingly bad (but at the same time good) soundtrack that compliments the films message. It is a love film (in an amusing way) and definitely not a comedy, but it is amusing and worth watching just to relax and appreciate the 80's era.
The Amityville Horror (2005)
I find it amusing that people are basing the rating of this movie as to how well it scares instead of a proper critique; for example one that actually portrays a film properly.
I've not seen the original first of all. I went into watching this movie knowing very little about the factual basis behind the "true" story of the Lutz family but never the less, still came out feeling like I'd wasted 80 minutes of my life.
As I collected more evidence on the case in question, I felt deprived that instead of focusing on the ACTUAL crime that happened at the house, they decided to concentrate on a false claim made by the Lutz family in the aftermath of the DeFeo killings. It has been widely stated that the Lutzes only sold the story about the supposed spirits in the house haunting them because they were in debt. I think the movie makers should have paid a little more attention to this before they tried to make a film out of something bogus and calling it "true".
A film that paid more attention to the DeFeo family in particular the rumours about the family themselves would have made a far more compelling and interesting movie. True, it might have not been as scary or gory but at least it would have had some depth or intelligence to it to reconstruct what happened that night in 1974. Oh, I forget one crucial thing. People want to see this garbage. People find stupid, perpetual horror/humour of this kind amusing. Hence the "rave" reviews. I agree with whomever said the people rating this movie so high are probably those that are underage and have just sneaked out to their first "scary" movie like I did with Scream in 1996. Amityville Horror does nothing different from all the mock horrors out there at the moment; The Grudge etc and although yes, in places, it has a few "wet your pants" moment I would hardly base a film on that alone.
It was a shame, as I enjoyed the actors in particular Melissa George. But this really is a waste of money unless you want to be scared with a couple of girlfriends and a bowl of chips. Which really, considering the actual events of Amityville in 1974, is a pretty poor excuse to make a film.
Dirty Dancing (1987)
Still a favourite...
*Contains Spoilers* I rarely write comments. In my 20 years of viewing films and at times, over-analysing them to the despair of my partner, I have very rarely decided that a film in my eyes, is worth viewing 10+ times.
Dirty Dancing - 1987 a low budget film was released, set in the summer of 1963 and focused on a teenager, Baby Houseman (Frances), her older sister Lisa and their parents visiting a Summer Camp, which was hosting it's final year. Baby was everything Lisa wasn't. Lisa loved fashion, dating and boys. Baby wanted to become a Peace Embassendor, enjoyed reading and didn't have many social interactions. She was the under the watchful eye of her father and did everything she could do to please him.
This all changed in a matter of a few months for Baby Houseman. The prim and proper Daddy's Girl that never answered back found an outstanding hobby she excelled in, new friends and most importantly, her romance with Johnny Castle. Drafted in to take the place of Penny, Johnny's usual dance partner, the two struck a friendship up and within time, fell in love. The relationship was banished by Baby's father, and despite forbidding her to have anything to do with "them", Baby continued to see Johnny behind her fathers back. Her father is under the impression that Johnny is responsible for Penny's abortion - a child that was in fact fathered by Robbie, a med student doing a summer job in the resort and who was attached to Lisa. Jake Houseman refuses to talk to Johnny for this reason, and also is unaware of the fact Baby asked for money from him in order to fund the abortion.
Johnny is then accused of stealing from one of the residences who he had a previous fling with, and who is jealous of his relationship with Baby after catching them unawares. Max, the owner of the resort approaches Jake and talks of sacking Johnny, which incites Baby who knows full well he is innocent as they were together. This is Baby's coming of age; admitting to herself she is love, and admitting to her father that she knows the man she loves is innocent because she was with him. In the end, as predicted, she announces his innocence to protect him and keep him in a job at the resort, which is his only income. She falls out with her father, her family, most of the resort and even then, Johnny is still fired for having a relationship with a resident (Baby). One of the most poignant moments of the film is Baby crying to her father, apologising for letting him down, as well as the moment Johnny leaves the camp.
It is at this moment that you realise what is perhaps the most heart warming part of the film is. The way in which the characters all learn something from each other; Johnny realises that not everything is black and white, that people do not exist in this world to use him. Jake realises that his daughter is growing up, and learns to accept her choice. Even Lisa, the stuck up, spoilt sister of Baby learns that her sister needs her unconditional love and another moment in the film is when Lisa is comforting Baby after Johnny leaves. But Baby's plight is perhaps the most important - A girl who never stood up to her family; sheltered, spoilt and socially awkward. A girl who learnt to dance, learnt to embrace love and sociology, and a girl who learnt that sometimes no matter whether things are correct, they will always finish wrong. The two central characters rely on each other to figure these things out - Without each other they would have carried on for an undetermined time living a life where they knew no different. Some say this is a soppy, pathetic documentation of "love". I'm not sure if even the love story is the most significant factor here; I truly believe (or hope) the emotions run high for the viewers that enjoy this film is because of the massive change that happens to the characters personalities. The way they "grow" in just a few months. The way that they know whatever happens from this moment on, nothing will ever be the same again. This is why the film never fails to make me cry. The chemistry between Baby and Johnny (even if the actual actors themselves fought on set) is explosive - Even when they are practising and Baby frustrates Johnny with her ineptness. Everything clicks into place, and the ending moment is magical. What is worth noting in this film is for all those that bash it for being too "slushy" is that no "I love you" notion is utter during the film. When Johnny gets up on stage to announce his "return" and final dance, he is almost professional in his display of affection and love for Baby. He doesn't over-gush with sentimentality - Which I think is the same for the film.
I admit I don't watch this every month like I know some fans do, but every time I do view this, I think it captures the innocence of Baby, the angst of Johnny and the acceptance of Jake perfectly. It shows a time before the Vietnam War, the downfall of the American Government after JFK's assassination and before the "swinging sixties" revolution brought on from the likes of Presley and the Beatles.
A 9/10 from me - A timeless classic.
I went to see this movie on the back of a somewhat biased attitude to actor playing Peter Parker, aka Tobey Maguire. In fact, I was more than shocked to discover in the fall of 2000 that this usually unconventional, low-budget actor had decided to sign onto what was rightly expected to be the blockbuster of 2002.
In turn, I was reluctant to see the movie, thinking it would signal the end of Maguire's charm as an emotional, empathetic character that he had displayed either intentionally or not in his other films (Wonderboys, Cider House Rules etc).
I need not have worried. In spite of the fact Peter Parker is cast as a vulnerable, retiring character at the start of the movie, and although he always maintains this sense of selflessness throughout, Tobey, in my humble opinion gave the role something that perhaps another couldn't. I felt he took the fiction of Peter Parker and his characteristics and made them into reality - Tobey adopting the actual personality he would have considered Peter to have if he were a real life person. I feel Tobey didn't just "act" the role, but he "became" it. I felt his on screen performance was totally believable and coming from someone who has seen his previous movies on several occasions, this is no small feat. I thought Spiderman would be the demise of Maguire as an actor, and although the hype since has somewhat clouded many judgements, he has proved he is still in tune with his emotional connection to characters he plays (Red Pollard in Seabiscuit, for example) in roles since.
My bone of contention with the movie is the slightly unorthodox Green Goblin. Spiderman was, although not realistic to the point of true life (after all it is a comic book adaptation), plausible. Although Da Foe was cast well, I felt the overall attitude of the Goblin was somewhat embarrassing. True, he was set to become Spiderman's rival, and I suppose one could argue this had to be set at an overall age (therefore, in spite of the age certificate, teenagers had to be able to relate in some way) but I felt some of the "comical" moments made the movie seem too tongue in cheek. In some ways it is hard to "connect" with a movie if the plot line is removed from real life (i.e., somehow I don't think we will get a teenage boy strip down to a spandex suit and save the world) but the script behind the action scenes (Parkers ongoing conflict with his feelings for Mary Jane, his initial shock at realising the potential of his power, Norman's duel personality and helpless denial against evil) was well done if slightly cliché. However, although the ending was somewhat predictable (Mary Jane confessing her love for Peter) I liked the fact Peter was able to distance himself knowing the feats and responsibility upon him, and able to quash the potential relationship. Had they fallen into bed and gone on from there the movie would have certainly been ruined under contradiction and it has set things up well for the sequel.
I also liked Mary Jane's reaction to her kiss with Peter. Many of my peers who watched the film at the same time as me didn't understand the relevance to what she had done, other than she had just kissed the man she loved. But to me, I feel Mary Jane knew that kiss somewhere, and although she doesn't recognise the deja vu to the point of pinning that person down, there is a very interesting realism to take into Spiderman 2.
So, overall, I enjoyed the film mainly for its casting. You might not get a deep sense of life from it, but as far as action movies go, I think it's pretty decent.
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Silencing the Lambs
No matter how many times I watch this film, I always get the deep sense of brilliance taken from the first time I watched it.
This is certainly one of the better films of our generation - In light of the a-typical "horror" movies of today, Silence of the Lambs is in a considerable class of its own. Although gruesome in parts, it perfectly balances the sense of fear and psychological reliance's the different characters have upon each other.
The play between Lecter and Starling (Hopkins and Foster) is a duo that rarely is seen on screen, and was utterly plausible. Starling walks into Baltimore as a trainee FBI agent (and as others have commented before me, this perhaps is the only bone of contention, the reality or lack of henceforth of a training agent being assigned to the case) and you feel she leaves Lecter's cell a completely different person. Relenting all the pressure people have hyped around Hannibal "Cannibal" Lecter she reaches him with no airs and graces and willingly accepts the feat. The relationship develops into something on a level of trust, Clarice recognising Lecters needs and desires, and when he escapes towards the end of the film she is aware and sure he will not come and find her. This is the kind of rapport they built up during the movie, almost the blind leading the blind. Lecter had a sense of dependency on Starling as much as she had upon him, although she to a more extreme extent.
Hopkin's and Foster play the characters with absolute precision and to this day I know anyone else having been cast in those roles would have not found themselves anywhere near the on-screen chemistry (platonic, of course) that the aforementioned actors had. Hopkin's is in a class of his own as the mentally inept yet frighteningly intelligent Lecter and Foster is equally magnetic as the vulnerable, shielding Starling trying her hardest to face the horrors in front of her. Her reliance on Lecter is more than just meets the eye - Her main priorities were to deal with the "Buffalo Bill" case but you can see having spoken to Lecter on numerous levels she took a sense of knowledge and experience out of it. The connection on an emotional level was fantastic to watch, especially as Lecter purges out Starling's memories of her troubled youth. Foster, in particular, played this part wonderfully.
My favourite scene is most probably when Clarice is visiting the home of one of "Bill's" victim, and whilst looking around the rooms she notices the closet, adorned with fabric reading in dress making. Realising what Bill is doing to his victims (and without trying to give too much away) she immediately phones HQ and the desperation in her voice as she tries to articulate her discovery is the first in many climax's the film offers.
Behind the clear thriller sense of the film and the tendency to sit on the edge of your seat (the first time you watch it, you will have a completely new concept of a "thriller/horror" movie, especially if you are seeing it for the first time from here forth) the stories of the character weave so well together and as well as enjoying the build up of suspense, you also come to appreciate the characters themselves. In my humble opinion the prequel and sequel of Silence of the Lambs didn't get near what this 1991 excellence gave to the audience.
A definite 9/10.