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American Gangster (2007)
Ridley Scott tackles yet another genre, and re-invents it.
You won't find a more versatile director than Ridley Scott. Alien, Blade Runner, Thelma & Louise, Black Hawk Down, Gladiator, Hannibal, Kingdom of Heaven DC and Now American Gangster. A film that rivals Scarface for Raw Power, and Tightly wound storytelling. As for Versatility, the mans catalogue speaks for itself, each one of those films are acclaimed in their respective genre's.
Densel Washington nails the role, giving us a frighting yet like-able characterization of Frank Lucas, Crowe also nails his respective role without a hitch.
Not more to be said, its amazing with the subject matter how beautifully it unfolds.
Recommendation: GO S E E IT N O W
I Am Legend (2007)
Mesmerising, we've seen this before....but not like this
I am legend is one in a string of brilliant genre pieces to come out this decade, visually stunning, poetic, philosophical, together with a heart wrenching performance from Smith and a genuine curiosity into the human spirit.
The story is basic, very basic. And it's Will Smith that really raises it to the level of brilliance from average. It's a very layered performance, darkly funny, haunting and isolating, Smith as usual pulls it off to a tee.
The creature effects are decidedly average, it's when they can't been seen and it's dark that they do their best work.
Director Francis Lawrence really bring a sensitivity back to the genre film, his stylish debut, 'Constantine' proved him to have exiting potential. One can't wait to see what the future brings.
Great production values are let down by editing, script and Fox fascism
High expectation was had for the film. Many where worried that problems would arise from the takeover by editor Nicolas De Toth from Xavier Gens by the power of Fox. Never heard of De Toth, he's famous for editing Live Free or Die Hard down to a PG-13 Rating. Despite the fact that 'Hit-man' is has an official hard R rating, This quarrel is not with the lack of violent content, but the incredibly poor editing, which intern, spoils that fantastic cinematography. Another issue with the film comes at the end involving Scott and a certain side character that certainly could have been trimmed out of the film. Out of Nowhere Scott's lines appear obviously dubbed, for what reason it is unknown, as well as the other, a rather pointless character, whose lines ensue laughter at the strikingly obvious poor dubbing. Don't get me started on the story, the continuity and geographical issues, the awful Russian Accents. Not Even a hugely entertaining performance by Timothy Olyphant can save that fact that this cut of the film is flawed, and has obviously been tampered with by Fox. Now one can be curious to see the Directors cut, It felt like a good hour of material was missing, whats worrying is that material probably doesn't exist. time will tell whether it was the fault of Genns that the film was not cognitive. For some reason the editing in the action sequences was more than adequate, like De Toth has simply cut parts of the original cut with white flashes. Despite, Olyphant, Scott and some great action, Hit-man really is the best straight to video flick ever brought to the big screen.
Recommendation: Set your expectations low, quite low, in fact.
Sheer Unbridled terror, An amazing expansion of a Classic
Eye rolls where in abundance at the very though of Rob Zombie in the directing chair, But upon the release of the metal legends directing debut 'House of 1000 Corpses' in 2003 many where thoroughly entertained by the glorious ode to 70's grind house horror. It was incredibly fresh, with a touch of irresistible dark humor. But most impressive where his abilities to balance sheer horror with humor, it was impossible to look away from the screen. Now after a well received 'House' sequel, 'Devils Rejects', Zombie plows into highly sensitive fan turf and re-vamps one of the great horror masterpieces of John Carpenters Reign. The Result...WOW.
Halloween 2007 is one sick puppy, bloody, full of obscenities, very foul language. The first half hour is a different approach from the original, it explores Michael, his mind, and his decent into madness in such realistic ways, it really does add to the climax. The human element brought to Myers never wavers in his ability to terrify.
The Performances are generally good, the child actor playing Myers is brilliant, and Scout Taylor-Compton performance as Laurie strode was that of genuine blood chilling terror, it was highly convincing. Need i not mention the amazing Malcolm McDowell of Clockwork fame who is having great fun here.
I really enjoyed, Halloween 2007. It really expanded upon the mythology and was a genuinely frightening film, with fantastic use of John Carpenters story, and original music score. My advice is to realize Rob Zombies unbridled respect for the genre and material and appreciate his passion unfolding on screen. It really shows, but be warned, the film takes risks which some of weak stomached disposition may waver from.
Recommendation: A passionate remake, prepare yourselves for the wrath of Michael.
The Hills Have Eyes (2006)
Technically brilliant...but morally unsound
I have to say i'm an avid horror fan, i think horror movies are fascinating in the way they satisfy the senses that audiences are unable to admit to. Human beings are fascinated by violence, and not just anyone, all humans, it is in our nature to be violent.
The Hills have eye's is the remake of the relatively unknown 70's cult horror film by Wes Craven. The remake has all the ingredients of a great horror film, superb performances, great cinematography, great music. Now tell me what element is missing from that list?
I had already heard beforehand of the films graphic content, and had prepared myself for the absolute worst, Cinema is an experience to be had, Jumping into controversial material is a great joy personally.
One scene and one scene only spoils this film for me, the rape scene, it is despicable. In fact the whole trailer scene, the first attack, is most awful. It crosses the line. The film is not all that original, and i wasn't having fun while watching the film, i found it to be verging on sadist porn. The final half hour though i thrilling, but it is out weighed to the down points.
Recommendation: Well.....Not recommended
30 Days of Night (2007)
Dark, moody, stylish..IGNORE the haters
I didn't think i could get exited by watching a vampire movie ever again. All the greats have made fine use of the mythology, Francis Ford Coppola, Neil Jordan, Steven Norrington, Guillermo Del Toro and lets not forget one of the greatest F. W. Murnau.
30 Day of Night, is a delightfully nasty horror, which has once again has wet my appetite to see those whom are fanged back on celluloid. These vampire's are just scary, no sexual innuendo, they are just plain beasts.
The films Comic book origins are quite evident through the film, one of its main draw cards is that it looks beautiful, the cinematography is fabulous, the punchy electro rock score used is effectively scarce during the film, silence is the films most potent suspense weapon.
The Cast is great, Josh Hartnet Putting probably the best performance of his career, but it's Ben Foster who really steals the show, I've never seen a actor possessed by their own character to that extent since Anthony Hopkins and Lector. Mellisa George is perfectly fine, i wasn't blown away, but Danny Huston was superbly Menacing, his presence in the film was foreboding.
Now to the films few flaws, the amazing build up, that incorporated the mystery of what exactly was going on in the town was swiftly ripped away by full on carnage, this was a little distracting, but soon the suspense returned.
I have to recommend this film, i don't really understand why people arn't liking the film. It's very old fashioned in its approach, most probably why it is so brilliant. give it a go.
Recommendation: If you call yourself a horror fan, you really shouldn't dislike it
To begin with, wolf creek was a solid horror film, certainly not mainstream, quite a challenge to watch, rather sordid and macabre, pretty much unwatchable, though i admired it's stylish look, and its daring. Rogue has the same sort of appeal, though it is far more accessible, the suspense is brilliant, keeping the crock hidden for most of the show, this makes the film hugely successful, but little glimpses, a tail, a missing tourist, who was there only a second ago, really makes the film one that makes you laugh that giddy fear laugh we all know. This film had my nerves in a stitch and it was all brought together by a heart pounding finale. Another thing that really proved affective was the films realism, the crock looked very real, was of plausible size, but most definitely wasn't small. if you love the old school suspense tricks of Alien (i stress this film is not in the same league) then this is definitely a good night at the movies.
Recommendation: nothing can really prepare you
Inland Empire (2006)
one of Lynch's Best, i love the atmosphere
It's a lynch film, anything can and will happen. I saw this at a screening at the Prince Charles Theater in London, while i was working over there. On another note i think it is atrocious that Australians have to wait so long for the release of films. Back to the film though, If you've made it this far, you are most probably a lynch fan. Laura Dern has come a long way since blue velvet, she is so fantastic here. I love the DV cinematography, the lighting, the music, and Jeremy Irons is also fantastic here. The film is remarkably scary and unpredictable. It's like a drug trip through hell, which only Lynch can provide.
Recommendation: For lover of Alternative Cinema
Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)
Great Sequel, Get the German Version if you can
Great sequel, though i did only watch the German extended edition i got over ebay. Extended by over 5 min's, what a difference, more gore, more consistent editing, better story flow. It continues the story from the first film and sets up brilliantly for Resident Evil: Extinction. The atmosphere is spot on, its moody, there is so much action it is almost exhausting. In either case i enjoyed the German version much better than the western cut. There is not much really left to say, only that this trilogy is going strait onto the cult shelf, its all about chicks, guns and monsters. It doesn't waste its time trying to patronize us, just simple fun with likable characters, and great lines. Pure trash fun.
Recommendation: Get the German cut!!!!!
Glorious Taboo strippage 'lets get felashed'
Seth Rogan, talent is all i can say. A cast of talented unknowns, a dynamite script. A damn good time, there are some films that give off no indication as to why they are so loved, like the Rocky Horror Picture Show as an example. Superbad's main card is that it is, strikingly honest in it's comedic situations, it's a film that anyone who was ever a young male, can relate too. Though females may find little humor in this film, men will be in stitches. I can see countless offended viewers that may walk out of this film offended, shocked. It is all an act, it's just too true for them to handle. That policeman may not be entirely perfect, that boys do have penis' and girls do have vagina's. That sex is good, that the moments that the world tells us to forget are the best times of our lives. Enjoy Superbad for it's glorious political incorrectness.
Virdict: Bring out the lubricant!!!!
28 Weeks Later (2007)
Rip roaring, Genre explosion, takes the series to a whole new level
28 Weeks Later, the sequel to the Danny Boyle art-house horror cult smash, was at the bottom of the list of movies one would look forward to. The first film was, in my opinion, an overlooked classic, it was raw, realistic and the performances from Cillian Murphy and troop where tour-DE-force. The thought of American's invading a British horror film made many worried, and it was quite distracting throughout the film, but it doesn't suffer much from it, and the film-makers wisely don't take it too far. Very much like Aliens (the action packed sequel to Alien) 28 Weeks Later is much more action orientated, and elevates the mythology of the first film to a whole new level. There are some truly thrilling moments in the film, some of the highlights being the napalm detonations, and night vision sequence in the subway, the night vision sequence is easily one of the most terrifying moments in cinema this year. The script is of high caliber, but is does have some frustrating moments, particularly the fact that most of the problems the characters face, are due to lack of communication between the characters. But these quibs are minor. Other impressive mensionables is the two young leads, who have the almighty task of carrying the film, they do a fantastic job. The film also smartly re-uses God Speed You Black Emperor and John Murphy's superb rock score, and the all round style of the first film is maintained, the only difference being the first film was shot on DV, this one on film. If your a fan of the first film, you'll go ga ga over 28 Week's, it's the quintessential blood soaked adrenaline rush, and one of the best sequels i've seen in a long time.
Verdict: Bring a seat to hide under.
The Graduate (1967)
Nominated for seven Academy Awards, and winner of Best Director, 'the Graduate' first and most importantly is a very funny film, with historic Career high performances from Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft, it's one of those films that is just simply brilliant. The performances were naturalistic, so ahead of there time, and the storytelling is so unpredictable and unorthodox. It's gushing with black humor so subtle you might miss it if you blink. 'The Graduate' is storytelling at its best, thanks to Mike Nichols perfect direction. It really is a hard film to put a lid on, it's a film that re-invents comedy genre to this day and in some ways has not been surpassed yet. Just go see it!!
It's been a while since we've seen a decent sci-fi, firefly was an exception, but not quite special enough. finally a film that that can be held up with 2001 and Alien unabashedly. Established director Danny Boyle of Transpotting fame has crafted a memorable spiritual film experience. It's thought provoking, arty, terrifying, visually stunning and not to mention, a pure white knuckle adrenaline rush.
The cast is brilliant with Asian cinema superstar Michelle Yeoh and the brilliant Cillian Murphy all putting in powerhouse performances.
Another plus is the fantastic score by Underworld, a fat electro beat fest.
This film is a indisputable classic, and quite alternative, hopefully it will gain due attention and box office.
Verdict: 100% Fresh, Classic Sci-fi
Changed from an R18+ to MA two weeks before its release i can see why such a rating as R would have been considered, 300 is many things, a shameless and fun blood bath, an emotional commentary on war, a commentary on currant world events, a piece of history turned into mythology and the ultimate entertainment for bored males, film geeks and fan boys.
I won't lie to you, 300's premise is simple, but it is by a masterstroke that all elements come together to make cinematic magic. For starters no one else but Gerard Butler could play the role of Leonidas, secondly butler and the rest of the cast perform wonders, particularly Aussie actor David Wenham, thirdly the digital production design and cinematography have to be seen to be believed.
300's is neat little bundle of Adrenaline and testosterone weaved into a two hour package. The emotional last stand of the 300 is rousing and beautiful scene.
300 is a fantastic film destined to be a classic, and remembered with 'Sin City' as the cornerstone of digital film-making.
Verdict: Just shut up and go see it NOW!!
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
A True classic of psychological horror
Out of every horror film ever made, nothing has dug itself into my personal fears, to such and extent, as The Blair Witch Project. upon my first viewing i was aware that this documentary style horror film was entirely fiction, yet that didn't stop me from being genuinely frightened. It is a criminally underrated film, often critically snapped for being a giant cheap gimmick or scare tactic, also, the rather grim, terrifying and unrevealing conclusion left some disappointed. Yet having the mystery unrevealed is what makes this titles so compelling, what is hunting down these characters and why, what form does the presence take, what is the meaning of all these signs, rocks and symbols, it is this confusion that creates the claustrophobia and fear. that feeling of impending doom is maintained throughout the piece. The amateur actors are simply fantastic, applying Stanislavski method acting techniques to give their performances vivid realism. This film really has to be seen to be believed, just don't expect a blood bath, or an all out scare fest, this one is a pressure cooker of suspense, tension and claustrophobia, its a slow builder and requires a patient viewer.
Two words: Madonna Rocks
This concert is the type of concert that only comes around every twenty years or so, Madonna's Confessions on a dance floor era will certainly be remembered as one of the high points of her career. She's 48 and she looks simply divine, she keeps up with the dancers that are almost twenty years her junior. I am also very glad to report that all the songs were sung live, which is good because she actually sounds better live. Each song was so unique, the visuals where stunning. The performance of 'Live to tell' was fantastic and had me awestruck, 'Isaac' was exotic and gorgeous and was rich with political symbolism, the Arabic horn, the American eagle set free. I particularly liked the rockin performance of 'I Love New York', i almost stood up in my lounge room and cheered when she told her critics to suck George Bushes ****. And then again i was impressed by the 70's inspired music (inferno remix). This Spectacular decedent Concert made a fan out of me.
Verdict: Highly Recommended with a Capital H.
Hannibal Rising (2007)
Lecters epic journey, One of the best thrillers in years
I, an avid film lover, and admirer of the series of both the books and of the films, went into this adaption with extremely low expectations. My first impressions were they were just flogging a dead cow, but alas i was taken aback by the superb production values, beautiful cinematography and Gaspard Ulliel's chilling, Oscar worthy performance as legendary gentleman cannibal, Hanibal lector, First and for most director Peter Weber's smartest casting choice. Thomas Harris once again provides us with sickeningly delicious story of twists and turns, ambition and revenge. Another smart move on Webbers behalf was to petition Harris to write the screenplay. Smart choices around make for a fascinating thriller. This film is not a cash in, but a film that stands tall in the Hannibal legacy.
Verdict: Highly recommended, but not for the squeamish
The Elephant Man (1980)
This film really shows off David lynch's versatility as a director, it is both heartfelt and disturbing in it's brutal cruelty. John Hurt is amazing as John Merrick, he injects so much innocence into the character, His first words on screen will absolutely melt your heart. It is a dense film, with some areas hard to sit through, but it is well worth it. It also cleverly layers themes of vanity and the concept of true beauty into the people outside Merrick's world. Hopkins is also brilliant, displaying a great deal of subtlety. The Black and White photography is beautiful and perfectly compliments the story. This is a very moving story, from a very brilliant film-maker.
Recommendation: "Bring a hankie, Masterpiece"
Wild at Heart (1990)
What is this guy smoking?
Wow! I liked the film, although it descended into soft core porn in the first 30 Min's, the story and symbolism was all spot on. I really don't see the need for sex scenes in this movie, although in my favorite lynch movie 'Lost Highway' i thought the sex scenes were quite appropriate. Warning! This movie goes from sick, to sicker, to downright disturbing and is not for the faint hearted with graphic violence aplenty. It's interesting film, but it's just so typically lynch. I am becoming a tad bit sick of the randomness of his narratives. Not being one of lynch's best movies, it still is riotously entertaining romp. The performances of Cage and Dern are fantastic, and the film has a brilliant and Moving finale. What the film has to do with the Wizard of OZ, well don't ask me, Just sit back, watch, and soak in some of that pure lynch madness.
Recommendation: Bring weed!
Lethal Weapon (1987)
The Golden Age of Action Film's
Lethal Weapon, an undisputed classic of the action genre featuring amazing performances, sharp script and some great action. But the real success comes off with the amazing chemistry between Gibson and Glover. The eighties was a great time for the action genre, just to name a few classics, Batman, Predator, Aliens, Die Hard, Terminator, all of which where phenomenally successful and have shaped the action genre right up until this day. I was able to watch all these films from about age six, which means i basically grew up watching these films, they contain probably some of the greatest memories from my childhood, Lethal Weapon was one of those movies i could relate to, due to my life circumstances. Regardless of my own opinion of the film, It really is a classic of the Action genre, anyone who was captivated by the eighties golden age will have surely watched this film, pure magic. Highly Recommended!
A great big movie, without a soul
Its seems that fantasy is the currant rage with motion pictures, what with obviously the hugely successful Lord of the Rings Trilogy and the Great but flawed Chronicles of Narnia adaption, and also Next year the Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig starring Golden Compass Trilogy. Well eragon is entertaining claptrap at best, but as a motion picture it suffers from wooden acting and an very cheesy screenplay. Even some of the effects are low-par. There is also some shocking continuity and plot holes. Is Eragon a cheap rip-job to make some money in the wake of the fantasy craze, yep. With great actor's like John Malcovich, Jeremy Irons and Robert Caryle, you would think that this prestige would satisfy, but their performances are surprisingly wooden. The lead character eragon comes off as a fudged pretty boy. There were so many moments to make fun of, particularly the unintentional gay innuendo in the screenplay. The only light in this film is Sienna Guillory, who does her best to create a competent heroin. Eragon is a great big movie, with no soul.
Recommendation: Avoid at best, but makes for a great comedy.
The Deer Hunter (1978)
A great film, that will leave you speechless
Realism, is the card that this tour DE force has to play. Its bold juxtaposition of before/after is incredible and effecting. After about an hour of introduction, the wedding scene (which would seem to run too long but is the set up for the emotional conclusion) and the short hunting scene, the film jumps abruptly into Vietnam, and to one of the most powerful scenes in cinema history. The Russian Rullet sequence is possibly one of the finest pieces of acting i have ever seen, absolutely infamous. It is a very sad film, but also a beautiful one, an ode to forgotten hero's.
Recommendation: bring a hankie...yes, even the guys.... Masterpiece.
Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
Stanley Kubrick's last lavish journey.
CRUISE, KIDMAN, KUBRICK a sizzle fest of some of the most successful entertainers of the 60's, 70's, 80's and 90's would (not surprisingly) be taken as a publicity stunt, luckily the hype and the film are both one in success. It's brash sexuality is sure to deter some, but Kubricks craft is undeniable. Floating tracking shots, lush costumes, colours, images and performances, grace the screen in Kubricks big Arovour film.
Cruise plays Dr. William Harford, who becomes ensnared in a dangerous erotic foray after his wife (kidman) admits sexual longings. Harford spends a long night on the town, plunging deeper into doubt, fear, self discovery and eventually a sexual rabbit hole.
The picture is drenched in nudity, mostly unnecessary and degrading to the actors, Also the film is slightly too long, and so it loses its punch slightly by its second viewing. EYES WIDE SHUT is by no means Kubrick's best work. But it still stands on its own as a bold masterpiece.
The Machinist (2004)
A great ode to the classic days of Polanski and Repulsion
A great film, albeit a little predictable. Christian Bale is brilliant in this film, his abhorrent weight loss is the most disturbing aspect. The film follows an insomniac, Trevor Reznik, and the paranoid mystery that plagues him. After a horrific work related accident, due to the sudden appearance of a mysterious stranger, Resnik is thrown into a spiral slide to either madness, truth or both. This film is not particularly original, but it does have a soul, at times it is painfully predictable, at other times, terrifying because of it's unpredictability. It won't go down as a classic of the genre, but is instead a nice rental. Recommended!
The Prestige (2006)
Nolan not a one trick magician
My goodness, Christopher Nolan is on a roll, after his stellar, mind-bending debut 'Momento' and his superb Batman Re-invention, Nolan has paused to show his versatility before embarking on The Batman Sequel 'The Dark Knight' to give us 'The Prestige'.
It's a dark,almost Shakespearian film about two Magicians, both friend's and rival's, who's passion for the performance of magic turns into a bitter obsession to outwit each other. This obsession becomes a dangerous cat and mouse game of intrigue, jealousy, after a tragic event, but what is illusion in this deadly game, and who is fooling who.
The first thing that must be commented on is the magnificent script by the Nolan brothers, complex and impeccably executed. Secondly A superb cast. Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman, Michael Cain, Scarlett Johanisson, David Bowie, the cast does a magnificent job, particularly Bale and Jackman. Bale in an intense and cold performance, Jackman flawlessly switching from vulnerability to intensity with ease. It's also nice to see Ziggy Stardust himself working those acting chops in a welcome performance, playing against type.
I can't recommend this film enough. Intelligent, sophisticated, Hollywood film-making has returned.