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Jessopjessopjessop
QUOTE (maian @ Jul 20 2009, 02:02 PM) *
Shockingly, I agree with you. My disappointment stemmed more from the lack of exploration of what cloning meant to society at large. Sam seemed to know that clones existed, otherwise he wouldn't have reacted quite as placidly as he did when he saw the other Sam, yet in the final moments of the film it suggested that there were hearings regarding Lunar's use of clones, but I couldn't help but think that if a society existed which allowed cloning then that society would not have any problems sending them off to do dangerous work in the way that Lunar did. Maybe it's the deceit involved that generated such controversy, but the film left me a little frustrated.

*Gasp!*

It certainly seemed as though the clone concept was a plot device rather than something to be explored in itself. It may have been better to have had many clones working together from the start, and dealing with identity and mortality that way. As it was, neither Sam was greatly surprised, and that anti-climactic reaction meant such a pivotal discovery was rendered less effective for the audience.

Anyway, the trailer made out a more psychological edge to the mystery, and it would have been more interesting to have multiple Sams as members of a split personality or psychotic apparitions brought on by his declining mental and physical health, than the way cloning was dealt with.
ipse dixit
QUOTE (maian @ Jul 20 2009, 02:02 PM) *
Sam seemed to know that clones existed, otherwise he wouldn't have reacted quite as placidly as he did when he saw the other Sam

I didn't think that. Sam 2 was shocked and confused when he found Sam 1, and then angry as he deduced that they were clones; Sam 1 did seem to take it in his stride a bit better than one might expect, but I assumed there was a reasonable time lapse between his dazed question "Is there someone in the room with us?" and him finding Sam 2 with the punchbag, during which he probably freaked out, talked to Gerty, calmed down. Though it's not used (as far as we're aware), we know cloning technology already exists; alone in space, ill and injured, Sam might as well just accept it. Anyway, the alternative would be to spend twenty minutes with them pointing at each other, shouting "oh my fucking god, what the hell?! Look at you - what the hell?" before the narrative moved on, which have been a bit tiresome.
Jimmay
All of this black is incredibly annoying when the film everyone is talking about isn't showing anywhere near you!
sweetbutinsane
QUOTE (widowspider @ Jul 19 2009, 07:47 PM) *
That's pretty much what I thought, with the addition that the girl playing Lavender Brown is a comic genuis. Brilliant performance.


She scared me. laugh.gif
maian
Apologies to Jimmay for the additional black, but:

QUOTE (ipse dixit @ Jul 20 2009, 03:07 PM) *
I didn't think that. Sam 2 was shocked and confused when he found Sam 1, and then angry as he deduced that they were clones; Sam 1 did seem to take it in his stride a bit better than one might expect, but I assumed there was a reasonable time lapse between his dazed question "Is there someone in the room with us?" and him finding Sam 2 with the punchbag, during which he probably freaked out, talked to Gerty, calmed down. Though it's not used (as far as we're aware), we know cloning technology already exists; alone in space, ill and injured, Sam might as well just accept it. Anyway, the alternative would be to spend twenty minutes with them pointing at each other, shouting "oh my fucking god, what the hell?! Look at you - what the hell?" before the narrative moved on, which have been a bit tiresome.


See, I can't get on board with that reasoning; to me, there is a world of difference between knowing that cloning is possible and accepting that someone could have created a perfect clone of you, bearing in mind that such an endeavour would require them to have either cloned you from birth, the only way that such cloning could avoid degeneration of tissue that occurs to Sam 1, or they created a clone from your latter-day tissue which would require incredibly s advanced techniques. Maybe I'm reading too much into this (his readers sardonically ask ''maybe?'') but the assumption of both Sams to reach the conclusion that they are clones says, to me, that they exist in a society in which cloning is either known to be possible or is actively practiced, which raises questions about the ethics and mores of that society; if they practice cloning to such a refined degree, is it done secretly? If so, why does Sam seem to take the existence of a clone in his stride at all? It's not a conclusion that one would readily jump to, especially if you know that your mental state is compromised. If not, why would people be outraged by their use in dangerous jobs since, to me, that seems like the only reason you would create clones, other than perhaps for organ harvesting?

Topsy-Turvy (1999)

This is how good Topsy-Turvy is; I have little interest in the works of Gilbert and Sullivan, I could probably (badly and incorrectly) sing you the opening bars of ''Three Little Maids'', yet I was completely engrossed in Mike Leigh's telling of their reaching of a creative impasse and the subsequent creation of The Mikado, one of their most famous works. It's an incredibly detailed and layered film; it delves into the creative process, particularly what it is like to work with a close collaborator, but also goes to great lengths to illustrate the period in which it is set in fairly frank and unvarnished terms. The performances throughout are marvelous, mixing quiet and focused turns from Jim Broadbent and Allan Corduner as Gilbert and Sullivan, respectively, with wonderfully exuberant turns from Timothy Spall, Andy Serkis and others. In a sense, Mike Leigh gets to have his cake and eat it since he gets the double pleasure of depicting the creation of a great comic opera and staging that same opera, so the film is able to move from pared down scenes of ruminative drama to musical setpieces, either in austere private studies or on ostentatious, lavishly realised stages.

I should like to amend the opening sentence to say that I had little interest in the works of Gilbert and Sullivan, since I now yearn to discover more. I think it may very well be my favourite Mike Leigh film.
maian
I hate to double-post, but my complete thoughts of Moon can be found here for anyone who is interested. I've kept it as spoiler-free as possible, so anyone who has not seen the film will not have it ruined for them by the act of reading my review.
Jimmay
The Transporter

I've had this sitting on my shelf along with its sequel for about a year and have never gotten around to watching it. I'd seen the begining a few times though but never all the way through. What a silly silly film with a serious swiss cheese of a plot and lashings of gay all round. The dialogue makes no sense, the relationships between the characters are bizzare and so is Ric Young's face and the Physics!! Oh the Physics! Still, it's brilliant and exactly what I fancied watching last night. Looking forward to watching the next one.
Sostie
QUOTE (maian @ Jul 20 2009, 11:29 PM) *
Topsy-Turvy (1999)

... I think it may very well be my favourite Mike Leigh film.


For me it's not even close to my fave Leigh films - Life Is Sweet, Naked, High Hopes. Actually, despite being a good film I might go as far as ratiing at the bottom...even below Career Girls!
(I should add I haven't seen Vera Drake or All Or Nothing)


QUOTE (Jimmay @ Jul 21 2009, 10:10 AM) *
The Transporter

I've had this sitting on my shelf along with its sequel for about a year and have never gotten around to watching it. I'd seen the begining a few times though but never all the way through. What a silly silly film with a serious swiss cheese of a plot and lashings of gay all round. The dialogue makes no sense, the relationships between the characters are bizzare and so is Ric Young's face and the Physics!! Oh the Physics! Still, it's brilliant and exactly what I fancied watching last night. Looking forward to watching the next one.


You could have Stath Film Top Trumps..

Silliness: 8
Plot Holes: 7
Gayness: 8
Physics: 3
Entertainment: 9

I think Transporter 2 would trump most of those scores.
Jimmay
QUOTE (Sostie @ Jul 21 2009, 10:26 AM) *
You could have Stath Film Top Trumps..

Silliness: 8
Plot Holes: 7
Gayness: 8
Physics: 3
Entertainment: 9

I think Transporter 2 would trump most of those scores.


Does a low physics score mean that the physics in the film is bad or good because jumping over a 2 foot wall in a car from a standing start should rack that score up a hell of a lot? Also, I'd like to see how much more gay it could get when you have naked oil wrestling followed by kissing a man underwater. And what was that weird hand touching thing which was never mentioned again.
Sostie
QUOTE (Jimmay @ Jul 21 2009, 10:32 AM) *
Does a low physics score mean that the physics in the film is bad or good because jumping over a 2 foot wall in a car from a standing start should rack that score up a hell of a lot? Also, I'd like to see how much more gay it could get when you have naked oil wrestling followed by kissing a man underwater. And what was that weird hand touching thing which was never mentioned again.


The lower the score, the less realistic the physics. Transporter 2 certainly has a few low scoring moments. I think the kiss just gives the first film the lead on the homo-eroticism scale.
logger
Wild At Heart

I was going to watch Day of the Dead on tv but it was the remake and not the original as advertised, so I watched this instead. I don't think anyone could have played Sailor but Nic Cage, he's incredible. It's sad what he's become now.

It's also the first time I've noticed that Crispin Glover is Jingle Dell.


QUOTE (Sostie @ Jul 21 2009, 10:26 AM) *
Gayness

I read somewhere recently that the character was originally meant to be gay. Although that could be internet rubbish.
Sostie
QUOTE (logger @ Jul 21 2009, 11:18 AM) *
Wild At Heart


Probably my favourite David Lynch film. Damn funny as well.
maian
QUOTE (Sostie @ Jul 21 2009, 10:26 AM) *
For me it's not even close to my fave Leigh films


I'd like to amend my statement to read ''of the films of his that I have seen, I think it may very well be my favourite Mike Leigh film. I've not seen enough to make a judgement about his career as a whole, but from what I have seen it proved to be a highlight.

QUOTE (logger @ Jul 21 2009, 11:18 AM) *
I read somewhere recently that the character was originally meant to be gay. Although that could be internet rubbish.


Mark Kermode said that on the radio some time ago as well, which either means that it is true or he reads the same internet rubbish as you do.
Kick in the Head
I was going to quote the Moon-related posts, but that would be 'spoiler tag' central. Instead I thought the fact they deduced and accepted they were clones was indeed refreshing, and I don't think the film was meant to be twist-based - it got it's emotional kicks from the gradual realisation of both Sams what it meant rather than a quick super-reveal. There was a doomed inevitability to it all that allowed the more unconventional and unexpected (such as Gerty being, well, nice) to shine through. I do feel that the film could have done without the 'news chatter' as it does make the clone issue a fuzzy one, and would have made a stronger ending with Sam 2 heading to Earth with no idea of what would happen 'returning' to a place he'd never been to or even if he would survive the trip - and of course, the grim fate of his short lifespan. Without that little bit of chatter, it would have been better. But for me it was a minor issue and I loved Moon all the same.

QUOTE (Sostie @ Jul 21 2009, 11:27 AM) *
Probably my favourite David Lynch film. Damn funny as well.


Possibly mine too, but my Lynch-loving friend thinks it's his worst. But then again, he hasn't seen Wizard of Oz.
Serafina_Pekkala
QUOTE (maian @ Jul 20 2009, 11:29 PM) *
Topsy-Turvy (1999)


I disliked this film throughly and I can't recall why now but i gave up and have no desire to go back. It is like an emotional memory more than anything. I don't mind his early stuff (Meantime, Abigail's Party, Nuts in May - which is funny) but something about Mike Leigh's later works rubs me up all wrong. I don't get him at all. And the high praise aout realism makes me all confused. There is something very contrived and patronising about a lot of his stuff.

Maybe I am broken.
maian
QUOTE (Kick in the Head @ Jul 21 2009, 11:38 AM) *
unconventional and unexpected (such as Gerty being, well, nice) to shine through.


That was probably my favourite little moment in the film. He really seemed to be playing up to expectations, and in doing so made the subversion of the stereotype genuinely surprising. I kind of wish that there was more of that in the film.

QUOTE (Kick in the Head @ Jul 21 2009, 11:38 AM) *
I do feel that the film could have done without the 'news chatter' as it does make the clone issue a fuzzy one, and would have made a stronger ending with Sam 2 heading to Earth with no idea of what would happen 'returning' to a place he'd never been to or even if he would survive the trip - and of course, the grim fate of his short lifespan. Without that little bit of chatter, it would have been better. But for me it was a minor issue and I loved Moon all the same.


That is exactly what I thought, too. That little burst of noise was pretty much where all my problems with the film come from. It just raises too many questions about the wider context of the film that ultimately frustrated me and soured the film. Not hugely, but enough that my enthusiasm was tempered in the final moments.
logger
QUOTE (Sostie @ Jul 21 2009, 11:27 AM) *
Probably my favourite David Lynch film. Damn funny as well.

QUOTE (Kick in the Head @ Jul 21 2009, 11:38 AM) *
Possibly mine too, but my Lynch-loving friend thinks it's his worst. But then again, he hasn't seen Wizard of Oz.

I wasn't a big fan of it for a while, it seemed too obvious, but I have to say it's now one of my favourites too.
Shack
Slumdog Millionaire

It was all set up to be a massive disappointment given the plaudits but to be honest, I really enjoyed it. There were a few parts of the story that weren't really explained (why he chose A., some of what happened to Latika and the bit where he got on the show) but overall it was a really well made and interesting film.

The negative is really that I don't think it was the best film made last year or that it has deserved all the recognition it has received. Perfectly nice and enjoyable, but not award winning great. 7 or 8 out of 10 rather than 10 I guess, which left me feeling disappointed because I'd expected more.

Like buying a chocolate cake and discovering the icing is a bit too sugary. You still eat the cake and enjoy it, just not as much as you wanted to.
ipse dixit
QUOTE (Kick in the Head @ Jul 21 2009, 11:38 AM) *
the grim fate of his short lifespan

Is Sam dying because he's a clone, or dying because the space station and work/environment exposes him to hazardous conditions (which take about 3 years to kill you)? Adam pointed out that the symptoms seemed similar to radiation poisoning. If that was the case, then the new Sam might be ok now he's away from there.
maian
I assumed that it was the fact that he was a clone and that his body was decaying at a faster rate than most humans since he would have been grown at a much faster rate. Assuming that the first Sam was created fifteen years before the start of the film, since there four or thereabouts shown going into the disintegrator and Eve was 15 when Sam 1 spoke to her directly, none of the clones could have been created any later than 15 years before, so they would age and die much quicker, in a similar way to Dolly The Sheep. Also, if there was a radiation leak, I'd imagine that GERTY would have done something to save Sam. He was programmed to help him.
Kick in the Head
It's never made clear in either case. It's possible that the reason they get clones to run the Moon base is because it's unfit for man and they needed a quick solution to solve the energy crisis. But agree that if it's a problem with the base itself, a leak or something (I think Sam mentions a few things going wrong with the base but can't remember if he goes into the impact the problems would cause) would be more likely than just the conditions themselves because of the rapid degradation. I still think the three-year lifespan holds up better - it makes more sense in terms of themes of clone exploitation and ties in with Jones' own Blade Runner loving.

Nice to see a film you can talk about in detail intelligently rather than turning discussions about plot points and themes into frenzied "I'm right, you're wrong!" ARGOOMENTZ!!!11111!
dandan
more 'moon' - i liked it... - related blackness...

hmm, i guess i looked at the whole cloning aspect from a different direction...

i took it as three years and you pretty much just deteriorate, probably with some help from the environment...

i wasn't arsed about the whole reveal - i took it that sam one was so calm, at first, as he assumed that he wasn't a clone and his placid nature, stemming from three years of gerty, pretty much allowed him to accept it with a minimum of fuss being expressed.

did you all assume that the original sam had been cloned post his three years, so that the clones would have the necessary skill set to keep the station running?
although, would you then wonder why sam two couldn't play ping pong, carve or realise he was a father?

who was the girl that sam one kept seeing? she kinda looked a little like eve at the age she is seen at the end of the film, but it really doesn't make sense for that to be the case...

i wasn't too keen on the radio at the end, but i still enjoyed it and would definitely say that its strength comes from the gaps it leaves...
logger
Shaun of the Dead

Liz is a bitch. She gets bonus points for being one of those women who look like they'll be dirty though.
maian
La fille sur le pont (The Girl On The Bridge)

Adele (Vaness Paradis) is a young woman who, after a series of unfortunate relationships with men best described as 'bad company', finds herself standing on a bridge, preparing to through herself into a river. Just before she is about to let go, Gabor (Daniel Autiel) says that he thinks she is about to make a terrible mistake, and offers her the role of being his assistant. Assisting with what, you ask? Gabor is a freelance knife-thrower, and he is in need of someone to get knives thrown at them.

I decided to check this out after listening to a podcast about the work of the director, Patrice Leconte, and I loved it. It's a gorgeous looking film shot in stark black and white and the two leads are perfect. I'd heard the film being compared to the work of Fellini, primarily because it deals with circus performers and a degree of similarity in the visuals, but the tone of the film in its story and acting reminded me more of late-80's/early-90's Pedro Almodovar. The story is distinctly melodramatic and aspects of it, most notably the links made between the thrill of having knives thrown at you and sexual excitement and the uncommented on psychic connection between the main characters reminded me very much of Matador.

Very good, but probably not for everyone.
PrincessKate
QUOTE (maian @ Jul 23 2009, 01:09 PM) *
La fille sur le port (The Girl On The Bridge)

Pont, surely?
Shack
The Good The Bad The Wierd

Really reallllllllllly enjoyable knockabout Asian western. Some really laugh out loud moments as well as lengthy and well staged gunfights.

Top notch.
maian
QUOTE (PrincessKate @ Jul 23 2009, 01:12 PM) *
Pont, surely?


Yeah, but who cares about the French, anyway?
PrincessKate
The French, possibly the Canadians.
Haitians?
maian
QUOTE (PrincessKate @ Jul 23 2009, 01:45 PM) *
The French, possibly the Canadians.
Haitians?


The French are too aloof to care about themselves.
Julie
QUOTE (PrincessKate @ Jul 23 2009, 08:45 AM) *
possibly the Canadians.


Not on the whole, unfortunately.
Sostie
HANZO THE RAZOR: SWORD OF JUSTICE
First of the Hanzo trilogy which began in 1971 which apparentley was a major influence on the Shaft and Dirty Harry series. A quaint little Japanese film about a lawman who will see justice done despite the corruption around him. He dishes out swift justice with his weapon, after managing to extract information from key female players using his other "weapon". Yes, because as well as his mighty fighting skills and his respect for law, Hanzo has a huge cock! There's a whole scene where where he keeps his beast at bay which adds a whole new meaning to the phrase "beat your meat". Like a lot of Japanese films there is an element of "odd". In this film that includes a rather excellent funky soundtrack.
monkeyman
I have the Hanzo boxset, I think the internal cam was the best thing about it all laugh.gif

It was odd seeing Zatoichi (Shintaro Katsu) doing the things he does in this film.
Sostie
QUOTE (monkeyman @ Jul 24 2009, 01:15 PM) *
I have the Hanzo boxset, I think the internal cam was the best thing about it all laugh.gif


Picked it up this week, so I hope to get round to seeing the next two this week
maian
The first hour of Antichrist, at which point I realised I was bored and had better things to do so I walked out.

I can not therefore offer up a review of the film, but I can say that the first hour is crushingly dull. I'm seeing the remaining forty minutes later, so I'll offer up some thoughts on the whole package later.
Omniscia
Cat People

Strange little film. It clearly wants to be a steamy, erotic thriller, with a strong sci-fi/horror undercurrent, but it's undone by poor plotting, aimless direction, and oft-underlit cinematography. You can't really appreciate what's going on because the film explains far too little, and what you can figure out is bloody hard to see. And any sexiness is strangled in the crib by the lack of chemistry between the leads, plus the profusion of blood and gore that accompanies any such goings-on.

It does have some neat matte paintings, though, but they're mostly confined to the obtuse, ineffective prologue. Malcom McDowell is suitably bizarre. And there's a great Giorgio Moroder score pulsing throughout (with a little room for Bowie over the end credits).

It's the sort of film I can imagine David Lynch doing quite well by. But, as it stands, it's worth viewing strictly as a curiosity.
logger
Kung Fu Panda

'Salright.


Major Dundee

Charlton Heston leads an army full of criminals, Confederate POWs and general scum on a mission to hunt down a rampaging Apache tribe and wipe them out. This being a Peckinpah film it's more about being a two-fisted monkey-man than anything else and whilst it is his usual violent romp it does feel a little like he's stuck making a studio western. In the end it kind of falls somewhere between the two. It's enjoyable enough, it's a lot better than it could have been, but it's not one of Peckinpah's best.
maian
Babe: Pig In The City

Like a Tim Burton film if he wasn't so up himself. Really quite magical; it's overly stylised and in stark contrast to the first film, but I was really taken with it.
sweetbutinsane
Big Fish

Loved it.

The grass so green. Skies so blue. Spectre is really great!

The Poseidon Adventure

Cheesy, but better than the remake.
Shack
QUOTE (sweetbutinsane @ Jul 26 2009, 07:29 PM) *
The Poseidon Adventure

Cheesy, but better than the remake.


The Poseidon Adventure is AMAZING. I love it.

Deep Rising

Big squidy type monster starts eating people during a planned hostage type situation on a cruise liner.

Painfully bad in places, disgustingly great in others.
Sostie
QUOTE (Shack @ Jul 26 2009, 07:57 PM) *
Deep Rising

Big squidy type monster starts eating people during a planned hostage type situation on a cruise liner.

Painfully bad in places, disgustingly great in others.


I'd go with just "great". I adore that film.
Sostie
I LOVE YOU MAN
A lot more "gentle" than I expected. Entertaining, mainly due to the Rudd Factor.
Sean of the Dead
Moon
I really liked it and now I can read all the spoilers too, ho ho ho.
It was sort of like The Parent Trap in space.
omni
The Hurt Locker

Finally saw it. Tense and incredibly personal war film. If you can find it, watch it. Jeremy Renner kicks ass.
wampa1
QUOTE (Sostie @ Jul 27 2009, 11:28 AM) *
I LOVE YOU MAN
A lot more "gentle" than I expected. Entertaining, mainly due to the Rudd Factor.

I take great pride in jumping on the Rudd bandwagon way back when Clueless came out. The guy is completely rad.
logger
I'm still not sold on him.
Serafina_Pekkala
Ipse met Rudd and said he was brill. In our house, that's gospel.
maian
QUOTE (omni @ Jul 28 2009, 10:12 PM) *
The Hurt Locker

Finally saw it. Tense and incredibly personal war film. If you can find it, watch it. Jeremy Renner kicks ass.


My work is getting it next month. I've already seen it (and fucking loved it, an astounding film) but I can't wait to see it on the big screen, rather than a tiny telly in my mate's living room.

The Man on the Train

My second Patric Leconte film in as many weeks and, despite how much I liked The Girl on the Bridge (or Door, thanks to my mangled French), I liked this one even more. Johnny Halladay, who is apparently a French pop star, plays a career criminal who comes to a small town to do a job. When he arrives, he meets a kindly old man, played by erstwhile Don Quixote, Jean Rochefort, who offers him a place to stay for the night. Over several days, the two form a friendship as each recognises something they yearn for in the other; Hallyday wants the quiet, leisurely life that Rochefort has, Rochefort envies Hallyday's exciting, fast-paced lifestyle.

It's a fairly measured film that isn't in a hurry to get anywhere, which is perfectly fine since the comic timing of the leads make each scene a delight, whilst the overall thesis of the film, which a common one, is well done and it winds up being a tremendous piece of cinema. Really very good.
Atara
QUOTE (wampa1 @ Jul 28 2009, 10:18 PM) *
I take great pride in jumping on the Rudd bandwagon way back when Clueless came out. The guy is completely rad.



As did every girl with eyes
dandan
lucky number slevin - i bet it was that mouth that got you that nose...

slevin kelevra (josh hartnett) arrives at his friend nick's apartment to find him out of town. after a nice visit from, neighbour, lindsay (lucy liu, some less pleasant visitors call round and drag him off to see the boss (morgan freeman); no, not bruce, but the head of a criminal gang, who thinks slevin is nick and wants him to pay off debt by killing the rabbi's (ben kingsley) son. no sooner has slevin arrived back at nick's, when two of the rabbi's men turn up and drag him off to see their boss; needless to say, nick owes him money and he wants it back. quite a predicament...

first things first. i don't think that i've ever seen a film which has spent so much of its budget on wall coverings. lucy liu looks cute in a nice bit of knitwear.

right, now for the rest. this is a bad film. a sub-tarantino affair, where 90% of the narrative and dialogue is just terrible. there are no real surprises; in fact, as the opening scene ended, a fellow viewer commented that "everyone is dead", to which my response was "everyone apart from the little kid, who is going to grow up to be josh hartnett and take revenge". which, is what happens; if the director or script writer thought that this would come as a surprise for their audience, then i guess they don't give them much credit. actually, thinking about the rest of the film, they clearly don't...

besides the general crapness, director paul mcguigan has chosen to bookend every scene with aerial, time-lapse and digitally filtered shots of new york, and tried to add style visual flair to flashbacks and exposition sequences, of which around 90% are just unnecessary dressing.

so, apart from lucy liu, some nice wallpaper, a couple of funny lines and couple of nice shots of new york, there's not really that much on offer.

a bit pooh...



k-20 - the fiend with twenty faces...

the text which opens the movie sets the scene pretty well, so i shall borrow it...

"attention, this is a special news bulletin. the headquarters of the imperial army and navy has announced on this day of december 8th at 6am that a peace treaty has been signed with u.s. and u.k. forces. the onset of world war has been avoided.

a past where world war II never happened...

the 'new nobility' established in the 19th century continues today. this has created an extreme divide between the upper and lower classes. changing occupations is forbidden. people may not fall in love freely and must marry within their class.

a phantom thief known as k-20 or the fiend (kaijin) with 20 faces has gripped society by stealing priceless objects from the rich.

japan, 1949, teito - the imperial capital"

and so, famed detective akechi (toru nakamura) is on the case, trying to track down the aforementioned thief, who taunts akechi by telling him where he will strike next: in this case, at the formal ceremony, announcing the engagement of akechi and, society princess, yoko hashiba (takako matsu). meanwhile, on the other side of the tracks, the naive, yet talented, circus performer, heikichi endo (takeshi kaneshiro), is employed by a tabloid to take covert photographs of the event. however, when the camera that heikichi has been given turns out to be the trigger for a bomb, he is captured and charged with being k-20! how will he clear his name and what is the real k-20 up to?

well, that was fun: the film is a nice mixture of steam(or should that be tesla?)-punk, sherlock homes, lupin, masked-villains, noble crime fighters, family secrets and dashing heroes. plus, there's an annoying little kid...

there's nothing really new or special about 'k-20' which, for me, is where the appeal lies; there's no post-modern ironic twist or knowing, self-deprecating gags, just a solid slice of adventure, with drama and a touch of romance thrown in for good measure. and, clocking in at two and a quarter hours, director shimako sato manages to blend these elements together, throwing in more adventure or an action set-piece, whenever the pace of the film threatens to drop.

kaneshiro, matsu and nakamura, make for a trio of solid leads, but find themselves on equal par with the design of the film. sure, some of the cgi isn't brilliant, but it is always passable and the look of teito, of houses, offices and the costume design are all top notch.

good stuff...



beer wars - america's beverage...

anat baron makes a documentary about beer. well, beer in america. you're probably thinking; 'what do american's know about beer? american beer sucks' etc etc. and, if you were referring to anheuser-busch, miller or coors, then you'd be right. but, and it's a little but, almost half of the 8% of beer which is drunk in america, which isn't brewed by the aforementioned corporate giants, is being made by small, independent, craft breweries.

baron, whilst delivering a potted history of beer in america, an analysis of the three tier system and generally chatting about beer, focusses on the micro breweries and those people who are passionately struggling to bring better beer to the u.s. of a. concentrating on sam, the head of the dogfish head brewery (a success story for craft brewing), and rhonda, who is struggling to get a foot hold in the market with 'moon shot', a caffeinated beer.

the result is a very entertaining documentary; there's a nice cocktail of shaking one's head at corporate greed and crazy legislation, which essentially maintains the power of the big three, whilst nodding along the small time brewers who seem to be driven by a love of good beer, above anything else.

good stuff...



miao miao - who doesn't love cake?

ai (sandrine pinna) is a high school student who lives with her father (?) and really likes cake, despite the fact that her attempts at baking are usually very poor. when she meets miao miao (ke jia-yan), an exchange student from japan, the two start to become friends; when miao miao reveals her baking prowess, the friendship is cemented.

one day, after school, when miao miao sets out to find a cake shop, but finds a music shop in its place. when she enters, she hears a song her grandmother used to sing her and, after a couple more visits, finds herself attracted to the shop's owner, chen fei (fan wing); despite the fact he's a touch moody and seems incapable of removing his headphones...

this is, in some ways, a strange little film; it manages to be quite sweet, cutesy even, but also kind of bleak and depressing, despite the tone of the film erring toward the former. this probably makes the film appear more light-weight than it actually is. one cold say that it's a sub-shunji iwai tale of friendship, unrequited love and the difficulties people have expressing themselves; with the three central characters all having a really hard time of communicating and accepting how they feel about the people they fall in love with.

it's not a great film, but it was certainly an enjoyable watch and i did like it. oh, and sandrine pinna is rather cute.

i'm off to eat cake...



moon - nine-hundred and thirty-eight. approximately...

sam bell (sam rockwell) is approaching the end of a three year contract and is looking forward to going home. that's not really surprising, considering that he's been stationed on the moon, with his only company for the last two years and fifty weeks being gerty (voiced by kevin spacey), his station's computer. the isolation seems to have been getting to sam, and he begins to feel that going home in two weeks time may not be as simple as it seems...

that's pretty much all i knew about the film when i went to see it, barring the fact it was directed by zowie bowie, sorry; duncan jones. and, that's all i'd suggest that anyone knows when they head to see it. knowing more won't ruin the film for you, but i'm pretty sure a first viewing, with minimal knowledge of the narrative, is much more enjoyable than having an idea of where the film is going. that's not to say that there are huge twists or radical plot points, of which any knowledge will be detrimental, but getting in to the easy pace of the film and allowing the gentle unfolding of events to happen before you, is a pretty pleasant experience. that's all i'll say...

the film is, in essence, a drama, tinged with science fiction. as you may have guessed, i'm not too keen on discussing plot points, but i shall say that i really enjoyed the way that jones handled this film. sure, it's far from perfect and there are some questionable elements here and there, but the fact that not every gap is filled and the audience is encouraged to think about the world beyond the film is, in my mind, a very good thing.

speaking of very good things... sam rockwell. mr rockwell is an actor who i always enjoy watching, but he's usually found in supporting, character driven roles: here, he's pretty much in every frame of film, and that's nothing but a good thing. kevin spacey, who is not someone i find particularly watchable, contributes the voice of the computer, and he does it very well.

which leads me seamlessly into saying just how much i enjoyed the production design on this film. the station where sam is based, the use of gerty's emoticons, the miniatures used on the moon's surface, the costumes and all of the films other visual aspects are rather ace. i read that the writer's strike meant that a lot of the talent at shepperton were going through a pretty dry spell, so jones was able to bring in some top notch people for a pittance. good work...

any hoo, a very enjoyable watch...



x-men origins : wolverine - nice stick...

logan (hugh jackman) and his brother victor (liev schreiber) are mutants. yep, right weirdos who heal after being wounded, plus logan has big sharp bones which appear from his hands, whilst victor can make his fingernails grow into claws. ooh. after fighting wars and killing and maiming, the brothers end up in prison, only to be rescued by stryker (danny huston) who adds them to his team of mutants who travel around the world killing people. logan soon tires of the killing, but when victor kills his girlfriend (lynn collins), he takes stryker up on his offer of help.

as if by magic, and lots of adamantium, logan is transformed into wolverine - grrr! however, when it is revealed that stryker was just using logan as a test case and that he's actually going to kill him, wolverine goes wild and escapes. time to find victor and get revenge.

oh. my. god. this has to be the shittiest film i've seen for ages. it has almost no redeeming features, at all. when an all to brief appearance by dominic monaghan is the highlight of the film, you know something is rotten. on the whole, the cast, the script, production design and the special effects are all dreadful. the film takes itself far too seriously, with jackman's brooding 'oh, look at me, i'm an animal' moaning, and any injection of comic relief is so forced and lame, that it makes you wish that you had your own adamantium claws to ram through your own skull, just to make it stop.

the action sequences and special effects are almost totally uninspiring, at best, and just crap on the whole. lots of people should hang their heads in shame for actually helping this film arrive on the silver screen. and, i'm not even a fan of the 'x-men' comic books - if i was, i'd imagine i'd be reduced to a puddle of rage.

avoid, avoid, avoid.
NiteFall
Shaolin Soccer

You know, if football was actually like this, I might start watching it.
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