Friday, 20 February 2015

Facebook film reviews - Collected 2

All my Movie Reviews Under one Roof - part 2 - The Return of the Riding Robot 3

Jesus Christ I'm lazy. Last time I did one of these was like September last year or some shit. What's up with THAT yo?

So I'm continuing my little angry facebook review series, starting with January 2014. The last two years have just been terrible, just - just awful for movies. Don't get me wrong there's been flotsam amongst the jetsam but let's face it, that's all just overside bilge in the end.

Anyway, this is where my reviews start getting longer, so I'll let these angry little fuckers do the talking. Like a group of elderly piranhas discussing their penises.

Thor 2 : The Dark World of Thor part one - January 2014

Tazer's Thor 2 : The Dark World of Thor part one review : meh.

Muddily shot without any of Kenneth Branagh's wit or clear, confident direction, all that's left is a joyless film-fart that slavishly follows formula and convention. Some truly shoddy direction, flabby editing and duff pacing means the film lacks any of the original's bite and zip. It chugs along throwing noise and splashy fx at the audience, without a single bit of intelligence, wit, or discernable plot. Befitting a director clearly more suited to TV crap, with the exception of Liam Hemsworth's brother and the man with the child in his eyes as Loki, the acting is laughably awful with some terrible, terrible line readings. And Natalie Portman is just a vacuum. That is to say, she sucks. I like Kat Dennings though. Like, a lot. Like, a real lot.

Loki is a character that has long outstayed his usefulness beyond the box office. The trailer really went to town selling the Loki and Thor angle to the point that it seemed like that was going to be the movie; don't be fooled it's less than ten minutes of this overlong mess. Why bother hiring Doctor Who to play the bad guy and then cover him in make-up and vocal fx to the point that he's completely unrecognisable? And obviously that irritating twonk from the Sky advert's star ascended between films coz for absolutely no reason he gets ten times the screen coverage that he did last time around, this time sans mask. And - spoiler alert - why bother with the "Loki dies" thing if you're going to drop it three minutes later? We already know they're onto a gold mine with this guy, so just don't bother. Do something creative instead. Gah.

Go and watch Machete Kills. That may be a crap mess of a movie but at least it's entertaining.

A year later and a I still hate this movie. Several Marvel movies later and I have become sick of the lack of drama in these movies and the sentimental manipulation of the audience. We know people are sad when someone dies, states Marvel, so we'll kill off a main character. Then bring them back to life instantly. Because we know how much the audience loves this character. Marvel has become a formulaic shit blast across the cinematic landscape.

A field in England / 44 inch Chest - January 2014

So two very different, very flawed, but interesting British films viewed today - Ben Wheatley's "A Field in England" and Ray Winstone starrer "44 Inch Chest".

Fascinating to note that one film is in need of a strong script, and the other in need of a decent director! Field in England has a terrific stylist in Wheatley, whose previous films were tight, dark and driven; some terrific performances from the likes of Reece Sheer
smith - but christ is it dull, empty, pointless and a waste. Trying to aim at sixties and seventies style psychedelic trip movies, it just footers around doing very little for way too long, before farting onto the screen with the stupidest editing, and most obviously underthought of endings, and a banal ambiguity, there to confound but only frustrating the viewer. A low budget waste of a strong cast and a terrific director.

44 Inch Chest comes from the writers of the peerless Sexy Beast, but without the credibility of director Jonathon Glazer. An AMAZINGLY beautiful script ( anyone who knows my writing knows I am mega influenced by the likes of Mamet, Stoppard, and Bogosian and these guys are fast becoming influences too ), a superb cast giving it great "cahnt!!", an excellent set-up, let down by TV-esque framing, on-the-beat editing, and far too stylised performances. Like watching a stage play re-recorded for BBC, it's stagey for all the wrong reasons ( if you think how Reservoir Dogs transcends it's staginess with intelligent, stylish direction, measured editing and pitch perfect performances ) and a disappointingly bland version of a script that I bet reads like dynamite.

Interesting, flawed, and ultimately dull movies. Better than Avatar though.

Killing them Softly / Only God Forgives / Beyond the Pines - February 2014

So there I am watching Killing Them Softly when it occurs to me that the last two movies I watched were ALSO pretentious, vacuous, violent if stylishly shot gangsta movies! 

Only God Forgives is an over-shot underwhelming dog of a movie, ostensibly following an almost mute ( the best kind ) Ryan Gosling as a sort of drug dealer with a heart, wandering around Bangkok waiting to fight God. Nothing happens, and then some violence happens, and then Kirsten Scott Thomas is probably a child abuser or something. God takes a sword from his back and then sings Kareoke and all the time I'm watching it I'm thinking "jeez, I must watch Drive again, that was a really good movie."

Beyond The Pines is a strikingly well shot over-lapping, deep-themed cops-and-robbers movie that goes on forever and ever and ever and has absolutely nothing new to say about anything. So silly it has at it's heart a bank robber who is also a rodeo motor-cyclist, it deals with microcosm corruption and the sins of the father, spins around in deliberate circles, and then just keeps on going to the point where even the score gets bored and starts thinking about other things. There's some actors in it, and they are in front of the camera for parts of the movie.

Killing Them Softly believes that it's about something important - it believes that it's making a commentary on capitalism, and as such has distractingly daft clips from the Bush vs Obama debates throughout ( making a kind of pointless and under-developed comparison between the criminals of the state, and the criminal underworld ). So Brad Pitt's dad is an enforcer, out to kill a couple of low-lifes in slow motion, while wandering around a lot and speaking in epitaphs. There's a bit with James Gandolfini, and there's a bit with Ray Liotta. Both could be cut out and it would make no difference to the movie. It plods along, distractingly aloof and coolly distant until the end where Brad Pitt's dad makes some speech about America. Then it ends.

All three movies are very well shot, performed in that way actors do, and all have pretentious, thuddingly un-subtle, tell-not-show scripts. All of them seem to think they're saying something profound, and as such and mind-numbingly hilarious at times.

Time to watch something silly I think.

Ach, time has eased my feelings towards Only God Forgives and The Pines. I still think they're hilariously pretentious but I can get aboard the arty-farty train and enjoy them all the same. Killing Me Softly on the other hand - it's just pants. Distressingly, everyone looks old and past it throughout the movie, and not in a that's-how-the-director-intended-it kind of way, just in a Family Guy, Aw that's a shame kind of way.

Cloud Atlas / Another Earth  -  March 2014

Maybe it's just that I'm going through m'dvds in order that this is happening, but themes are interestingly coming out in the pairings of flix i'm viewing.

Watched Another Earth and Cloud Atlas today, two films on opposite scales of the budget spectrum, both musing on what it is to be human, knock-on consequences, unsettled love, and the possibility of something else, "out there."

Another Earth is a low budget indie movie starring and written by the talented Brit Marling. On the night that a second Earth hoves into view orbiting "Earth 1", a young lady drunk drives through a sickeningly happy family, killing mam and child and leaving husband fighting for life. Four years of prison later, the damaged, quiet and regretful girl arrives on the doorstep of the man whose life she destroyed, and with the backdrop of this second earth and it's existential meaning looming, she gently tries to make reparations. This is my second viewing of Another Earth, and it's definitely a grower. Still plagued by wibbly wobbly, sloppy-zoom, indie-digital student lensing, the writing and performances are intelligent, quiet and raw. There's a lovely under-throb of meditation on what it means to be who we are, and how we deal with consequences, that bubbles underneath. And it has a pretty much perfect ending.

Cloud Atlas is a massive budget mess of a movie that defies EVERY kind of description yet, oddly, continues the discussion of themes started in Another Earth. I LOVE this movie, it's bold, stupid, hilariously awful in parts and strikingly emotional in others, funny, dark, and massively unsubtle in its discussion of BIG THEMES!!!! Following several time-lines and several characters, mostly performed with sometimes ludicrous commitment ( Tom Hanks Colin Farrell impression I'm looking at you ) by the core of eight or so performers in various forms of prosthetics and fx, using it's looping structure to discuss consequence through reincarnation, this is actually very intelligent film making. Thoughtful, cleverly structured in it's back and forth, and with some very well placed clues, story, plot and character repetitions that pay back on second viewings. It IS dumb at times, the tone veers all OVER the damn shop, no one really convinces as anyone other than themselves, and there's something slightly uncomfortable about whiting up Halle Berry but refusing to black up any of the white characters. But it works, it ties together, and it looks gorgeous.

Both films offer interesting treatise on the nature of humanity, and the lives lived beyond death. Both are well worth a watch, and both well worth watching in a double bill.

Man of Steel - March 2014

So here's Tazer's conundrum today, rewatching all his films in order as he still is. He has a lot. 

Is Man of Steel the stupidest or the cleverest comic blockbuster to come out in the last while? Granted it doesn't have much competition in the Marvel cartoons but still - this is a film that EITHER implies that the whole of Smallville and everyone he's ever worked with knows that Clark Kent is Superman and chooses to ignore it ( a very cool concept in my mind ) or is so stupid in it's plot-holes that IT chooses to ignore how obvious it is that Clark Kent is Superman. A third possibility hinted at is that without the suit and personality, he just blends into the background. That's kinda clever in itself, given his Clark Kent persona at the Planet. Or stupidly mistreating the audience.

Also, is it really clever and kinda cool that the whole movie shows Clark holding back on his powers, from dealing with bullies to dealing with the military, and then lets him explode in a teenaged orgasm of mega-destructive violence at the end? Or is it just blatantly stupid in its disregard for logic, and would rather blow shit up and is simply adhering to the Spielberg rule of waiting til the opportune moment.

ALSO, is it really clever that Zod kills Jor-El at the beginning then lectures Superman that while it haunts him to this day, he would kill him again to save his people, only for Superman to do exactly that to Zod at the end ( cue much gnashing of teeth from fanboys coz Superman, ya know did thum killingths ), which then seems to haunt him, or was that accidental?

Did anyone notice by the way that there's two actors from Dollhouse in this? I did. I'm clever. And stupid too because I liked Dollhouse. It was crap but I still liked it. Blow me.

Is Jor-El's appearance as Casper the friendly ghost a clever reference both to the sins of the father and to DNA and chemical memory, or a weirdly stupid throwback to Marlon Brando's contracted appearance throughout Superman The Movie?

I'm so confused.

ps - WHO is calling him Superman?

pps - Amy Adams is cute. Fact.

Gravity - March 2014

So Tazer has finally sat down and watched Gravity on the small screen, prompted by some massively negative reviews of it, a backlash on the massive levels of giddy hype surrounding it in the picture house flix.

First off – you don't need an Imax experience. Put the film on your lap top, plug in ear phones, switch off the lights and stick the laptop on your chest. You'll get the same experience.

Second off – this film is nowhere near as bad, and nowhere near as good as people have been saying. Honestly, it's not. It's an okay movie. It's pretty okay.

As befitting the director of the peerless Children of Men, the shooting style is fluidly beautiful. The “photography” stuns, the shots of earth against space believable, and the feeling that there is a camera out there floating around the “actors” palpable. The biggest problem with this style, in fact is that it draws attention to itself far too often and becomes cartoonishly swirly at times. It LOOKS amazing but after a while I found myself watching the “photography” and not really caring what was going on. It never seems quite believable because it's forcing itself on you the viewer, never more so than the opening scene which, after a while I found myself going – yeah, ok, i get it. We're in space. It's hard to think of a better way to do it, but it often feels show offy.

People have pointed out the ludicrousness, the computer game logic of the story – in particular the space station sequence. Fact is, this is your film folks, this is your set-up. It is judged so that we understand why the space station is so damaged; the debris hit it, the people left it, and now it's damaged. If it didn't wait for Sandra Bullock to arrive before it did it's thing, where would the film be? Is it REALLY enough just to have her floating around space for the duration? Wouldn't that be a pretentious art movie that NO ONE would want to see? Where would it get it's returns from?

The cartoonish and awful dialogue and characterisation are what ruin it in the end. People keep telling each other to conserve oxygen, then ask them questions to keep them talking. People keep talking hollywood backstory crap when in reality, technical jargon would be the order of the day and would help serve the tension. It's safe to say no one speaks like that, but it's even safer to say astronauts don't talk that way when they're in space. It's so awful in fact that I spent the movie cringing, especially when ever Danny Ocean's Twelve opened his trap. The acting, to be fair is not bad, but the truth is by casting Sandra “Rom Com” Bullock a large part of the tension is lost by virtue of her cinema background. She's good, but she's a movie star. And so I don't believe it. Clooney coasts but there is some sense in casting him as a solid, confident under pressure, easy presence. Again though, his movie star persona doesn't work as an astronaut and it takes me out of the moment.

There are far too many references to other movies, from Jaws to Alien, Sunshine and onwards. We get it, there have been other films set in space ( inner and outer ). Get on with it.

The music and sound work is excellent, keeping the tension without drowning it out, filling the void of no-sound-in-space with some excellent percussive work especially during the second debris moment.

On the whole the fx work is truly impressive but there are details and moments that take me out; obviously-cgi floating seat-belts wibbling in the background, wires that look pixely, the visors in the spacesuits sometimes looking – wrong; floating debris oddly lit or just odd looking. It's an impressive vision hard to pull off any other way, and in the main it holds up but there's just too much CGI detail thrown at us. It's like a Peter Jackson movie sometimes.

It's a pretty okay movie with some good moments and some bad moments. To get money to pull off the many technical achievements a movie like this requires, you need to cast movie stars. That automatically makes it a cartoon. You need to have them talking because, well, they're movie stars with recognisable faces. That means it doesn't matter what they're saying. It's a means to an end and that's the main problem with the movie - beyond the achievement it's hard to know why it exists. But it does, it's a cartoon, and it's watchable.

That's the way to look at it in the end, a not bad cartoon.

All right brothers and sisters, I think that's enough to be doing with right now don't you? Hope you enjoyed, hope they made you laugh or throw biscuits at your dog in the vague hope that the dog understands that you're not feeding the shit little bastard but actually expressing a heap of anger about something you read online and are now throwing a biscuit at it in order to express said anger heap.

Fuck it, I don't care. Next time round, I'll be expressing indifferent fury at Avatar.

Like someone who is the first person to ever have done so.

Ciao for now.


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