Tyrannosaur (2011)

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Okay, gunna start this one off by saying this review is not for the faint of heart, I had to grit through it myself to be honest. Tyrannosaur (2011) is a British realist drama, written and directed by Paddy Considine, very much in the style of British director Shane Meadows. Tyrannosaur is a very harsh realistic drama, for a very harsh world. I mainly decided to watch it as I’m a fan of Paddy Considine’s acting and was curious as to his directing style, also the film did relatively well at Sundance.

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Joseph (Peter Mullan) is a damaged, harrowed individual who’s self-destructive nature has lead to the boring life he now leads that contains nothing for him. In the opening scene of the film, Joseph is outraged at his misfortunes at the bookies, as kills his dog as a result. He immediately feels remorse, and buries it. Continuing this downward spiral he meets Hannah (Olivia Colman) a charity shop worker who prays for Joseph and tries to help him. At first he rejects her, however they keep interacting regardless, as he asks her to pray for his dying old friend. Joseph claims Hannah doesn’t understand what life is like for him, yet she suffers constant abuse from her husband, including assault, rape, urination, and at one point she claims he inserted glass inside her so she couldn’t have children. She moves in with Joseph for the time being, as they fight, as she claims he is the only one she can run to. Joseph takes her house keys as she sleeps and goes to confront the husband, only finding his dead corpse. As the narrative climaxes, we see Joseph as a reformed man, wearing a suit, changing his ways, as we see him on a train. In the final few shots we see Joseph go to meet Hannah in prison, showing his affection for her.

The corrupt, perverted husband apologizes.

The corrupt, perverted husband apologizes.

That was kind of a messy synopsis by me, but it’s often difficult to effectively summarize these real life domestic dramas without drumming over excessive detail. Obviously you expect this kind of harsh statement about the world, and how people can be from social realism, but at the same time, Tyrannosaur doesn’t contrast these damaged, victimized individuals to any concept of normality, and the amount of reprieve in the film is bare glimpses if that compared to the amount of wrong we see. Joseph as a character, is very well played by Peter Mullan, incredibly distant, silent, yet so emotionally unstable. I did have a lot of empathy for Joseph, while knocking down the shed, trying to forget about his dog, as it prayed on his mind. I think the trouble I had with Tyrannosaur was the characters aren’t very consistent  they seem to change and shift all the time, and it doesn’t really show them develop, the moments of crisis when they are forced to change at people. Like the end for example, when we cut from Joseph getting revenge and brutally slaying the pitbull with what we assume from the silhouette, is a baseball bat to, a changed man who practices religion. Surely the film should be about the reformation of this man, if it’s truly trying to be a social realist film, which of course it is, yet it just builds up to it, then shows it there rather abruptly.

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The title of the film, I was expecting to have some deep meaning, however, it’s simply the nickname Joseph referred to his wife as, as she was a diabetic, and slowly killed herself by eating unhealthily, so he used to lambaste her for it, joking that when she walked downstairs, the walls would shake, and his tea would ripple, like Jurassic Park. Hence the film poster, showing a Tyrannosaur in the ground, referring to Joseph’s dead wife. Tyrannosaur seems like it wants to have some kind of social message, yet it doesn’t seem what, everything seems awfully contradictory to something else. Violence doesn’t solve everything, but Joseph is never punished for his violent sins. Is this because he repented in the eyes of god? Hannah killed her abusive, perverted, psychotic husband, but was punished all the same, in prison. Thus i’m not too sure what Tyrannosaur is really trying to tell us, other than just being a vaguely interesting take on a kitchen sink mellodrama, which I think would be dismissing it at surface value.

An uncomfortable scene.

An uncomfortable scene.

Tyrannosaur certainly was an intriguing and an interesting film, however as a cinematic experience I certainly can’t say it was enjoyable, it was harrowing, rather saddening with little justification, and I really had to pace myself watching it. Can’t like em all I suppose, if you have any views yourself on Tyrannosaur I’d be happy to hear them. Until then, Tweet me @Sams_Reel_Views if yah like, or Like/Comment/Follow for more of my content. Until next time, amigos.

– Sam.

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Cloud Atlas (2012) or ‘Experimental narrative, and it’s flaws’.

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Hello there, and welcome to Sam’s Reel Views. Today we look at quite a big, controversial piece of cinema as we take a look at Cloud Atlas. Cloud Atlas is a German film, written, produced, and directed by Tom Tykwer, Lana Wachowski, and Andy Wachowski. At roughly a hundred and 2 million dollars, Cloud Atlas is easily one of the most expensive films ever made. It’s a ‘german film’ but ultimately it’s a piece of world cinema, being shot around the world, containing American, British, and Chinese actors, depicting a number of races, and worlds too. It’s billed as a ‘Drama and Science Fiction’ film, which is true but ultimately far too narrow a description to apply to such a diverse and varied film. The film very much has an ensemble cast, starring among many names, Tom Hanks, Hugo Weaving, Halle Berry, Jim Sturgess, Jim Broadbent, and Susan Sarandon. The narrative contains 6 very different stories, that basically effect each other in chronology, the majority of the character playing a different character in each. What’s more odd is we don’t see the stories in any odd chronology or sequence as the stories inter-cut constantly showing snippets of each before progressing. A very nice and artistic concept, but ultimately flawed in it’s execution.

The futuristic world before 'The Fall'

The futuristic world before ‘The Fall’

‘The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing’ follows a man visiting Africa securing a slavery contract as during the journey back he befriends a slave who stowed away on the ship. During the journey a doctor treats him for a parasitic worm, however the doctor is slowly poisoning his patient in order to steal his belongings, as the slave he befriended saves him. ‘Letters from Zedelghem‘ follows a bisexual musician, who works as an understudy for an old withered, hag of a musician. He threatens to steal his work, as the young man shoots him, finished his symphony before killing himself, moments before his former lover finds him. ‘Half-Lives: The First Luisa Rey Mystery’, I didn’t really follow, I didn’t really understand exactly what was happening in those segments. Something about a conspiracy? and an assassin? ‘The Ghastly ordeal of Timothy Cavendish’ follows a publisher, who is shook down for money, when he runs to family for help, though he is imprisoned in a nursing home instead. He escapes, and writes his memoirs, and lives a happy life. ‘An Orison of Sonmi’, is about a clone, who is essentially an artificially made human worker who is freed by the commander of the revolution in a dystopian society which gradually leads to his death, and her execution. ‘Sloosha’s Crossin’ an Ev’rythin After’ follows a primitive valley men who tries to protect his daughter from an evil shamanic tribe, when he is aided by a woman from a selection of people who are still technologically advance following the events of ‘The Fall’. 

The beautiful 'Neo-Seoul'

The beautiful ‘Neo-Seoul’

So the positives first. The cast is excellent, each one portrays their multiple characters perfectly, and it really shows off the talents of each and every one of them. In particular it shows some rather unconventional roles for Tom Hanks, and Hugo Weaving which is a nice change of pace. The setting, choice of filming location, and aesthetics are all great, with some really beautiful stills. However, unavoidably the problem in Cloud Atlas is pretty glaring, the way it’s shown. The 1 minute cuts or so with it not focusing on a storyline for more than 2 minutes at a time causes major attention span issues, and sometimes I just missed things because it’s hard to really understand what’s happening the whole time. It causes a really big demand from the audience, but not only this. As a result, it’s hard to really build tension, emotion, and ever the confusing thing is seeing an actor in one scene, then another, and when it’s bundled into a hard running time of 2:52:00, it’s rather hard to really appreciate as a great piece of cinema. Some of the stories are bland, mainly the non-futuristic or dystopian ones, and some are incredible so in many ways it is hit and miss, the editing is certainly interesting as you’ll see scenes with kind of similar emotions paired with each other.

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What ultimately is Cloud Atlas about? well, the directors have said in many interviews that there’s no definite meaning, and it’s all for individual interpretation, yadda yadda and so forth. However, my view is that it’s ultimately about story telling. And how we can influence one another. You see a traveller’s journal, who influences a singer, who writes a letter a journalist reads, who is published by a publisher, who’s own book is made into a film, and so on, and that’s the main narrative link between the stories. Other than that there’s probably something to be said about diversity, or some quip that tragedy, death, and happyness will always be factors in life no matter what the context or origin from which we originate. 

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Cloud Atlas is a piece of art, with incredible visuals, acting, score and writing. However the way it’s told is a real divider for audiences, it drives the piece from a segmented narrative, into artistic avant garde cinema which certainly isn’t for everyone. To be honest, watch it, and understanding and trying to maintain the narrative strands in my mind was a chore, and it definitely drained the experience for me, as opposed to if the segments just ran in order, in wholes. However, If I do have one thing to say about Cloud Atlas is that you definitely should watch it for yourself and judge. Anyway that’s it for this time, I return with Annie Hall tomorrow. Until then, thanks for reading, please Like/Comment/Follow if you feel inclined, and thanks. 

– Sam

The Hunt or ‘Jagten’ (2012)

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‘The lie is spreading’. Hmm.

So, today we’ll be looking at The Hunt (2012), a danish Drama Film directed by Thomas Vinterberg, and starring Mads Mikkelsen, although most of you probably know him as ‘Le Chiffre’. I chose to watch this, due to it’s ridiculously high acclaim, and a curiosity for Mikkelsen as an actor with many saying it’s the turning point of his career, which is quite a statement considering the danish actor was the primary antagonist in Casino Royale (2006), and is now starring in TV show Hannibal, as the title character himself. The hunt is a brutal film, and if i’m honest I had to stop at several points just because it was incredibly emotionally draining, and if I had seen it at a cinema I would have been in tears at points. My expectations were fairly unknown, I loosely knew about the narrative but hadn’t really read much, basically because it’s hard to read about Danish cinema by chance.

Lucas (Left) Walking Klara (Right. Before it all happened.

Lucas (Left) Walking Klara (Right. Before it all happened.

The narrative follows Lucas (Mads Mikkelsen) a quiet, school teacher who is still recovering from a divorce, and constantly battling with a marred ex-wife to be able to see his son. A lot of people classify him as ‘lonely’ around the tight-knit, quiet danish community, and things begin to get better for Lucas as he becomes intimate with fellow nursery worker Nadja, as they date. He also (the narrative isn’t clear how) gains full custody of his son, as he is told he is soon to live with his father full-time. Lucas often finds Klara (Annika Wedderkopp) daughter of best friend Theo (Thomas Bo Larsen) away from home, as he offers to walk her home once, then to school, as she seems to like Lucas, and enjoys walking with him, and his affectionate old dog Fanny. However, things take a turn for the worse for Lucas, as Klara seems infatuated by him, and kisses him on the lips, he asserts that this is only appropriate for her parents and thinks nothing of it. Later that day, a fellow teacher talks to a rejected, melancholy Klara who claims that Lucas showed her his penis, inspired by hearing older kids talk about genitals. As a result, things get massively out of hand, until Lucas loses his job, custody of his son, the right to shop at the local supermarket, his girlfriend, the respect of all of his friends as a result of a stupid white lie.

A passionate embrace as sparks fly between Lucas, and Nadja.

A passionate embrace as sparks fly between Lucas, and Nadja.

Things really hit rock bottom as someone throws a rock through Lucas’ window, following it he looks inside a rubbish bag on the lawn, to find his dog dead, with rob tightly tied around his neck. He makes a stand at certain points, headbutting a butcher, and demanding his groceries. He also goes to the church for mass, as practically the whole town stares at him, as he glares at old friend Theo, who finally realizes his friend was telling the truth the whole time, from the sheer nihilism he sees from a man who’s lost everything there is to lose. The narrative climaxes, with a cut to a year later, showing his son coming of age for a hunting license (bringing the double meaning of the film’s title to a full circle), as we establish that Lucas is re-accepted into society now it’s realized he did nothing wrong. It’s implied he’s living with his son, and with Nadja, and they’re now a happy family However, he’s almost killed as someone shoots at him in the wilderness, but misses, establishing that while things are better for Lucas, and he’s accepted in society, what he was once branded as, will ever haunt him.

A wounded Lucas, beaten by the staff of a supermarket.

A wounded Lucas, beaten by the staff of a supermarket.

Vinterberg is an incredibly good director judging from The Hunt, and you can certainly see why it got the praise it did at Cannes 2012, including a best actor award for Mikkelsen which was definitely earned. Mikkelsen plays the character, as dissonant, and accepting of his fate, knowing ultimately there’s not much he can do to help his situation, apart from grit through it. It becomes more and more tragic as he begins to reject his girlfriend Nadja and the family he has left. Overall a lot of the performances were solid, particularly the son, and Lucas’ son. As an viewer I felt actively angry, and enraged at genthe the teacher who fired Lucas, and reported the incident who ever said her self that the girl has a vivid imagination, and yet claimed that it almost certainly wasn’t the case. The mother also completely neglected to see the truth, when her daughter admitted ‘I may have said something foolish’, which is just absurd considering a man’s life and career hangs in the balance and she chose to completely ignore this.

Some beautiful landscapes for aesthetic purposes.

Some beautiful landscapes for aesthetic purposes.

The Hunt heavily mentions the idea of a repressed, and planted memory, given the scene in which Klara is asked about the situation, she is under heavy duress, and pressured by two adults, who ask her closed questions which clearly want her to respond yes to, a child clearly not understanding the ramifications of this, and just wanting to leave the conversation as quickly as possible. The Hunt isn’t necessarily saying the issue is taken…too deeply? it’s more saying that due to the overbearing nature of the media these days we’re ready to publicly hang anyone without being rational, particularly towards a man who is liked in the village, who is everyone’s friend. The implication that ‘children’ don’t lie, is a misunderstanding of the child psyche’ at best considering how children misunderstand things, and are so impressionable particularly to adults. The Hunt is incredibly gripping as a story, I think it’s something embedded in us that wants to see justice be delivered, and it’s hard to not feel an overwhelming amount of sympathy for Lucas particularly in scenes with his son. One thing worth mentioning is how the public to severely torture, maim, attack, and exile Lucas from society, but the whole case is thrown out in court, in relation to many other kids telling the same story with details that don’t exist, like being in Lucas’ basement, when he doesn’t own one, which shows the intense hysteria, even then. 

Probably the most haunting still of the film, as Lucas buries his old pup fanny.

Probably the most haunting still of the film, as Lucas buries his old pup fanny.

The Hunt is a highly emotive film, of controversy, over-reaction and injustice. It also captures danish cinema, and it’s reduced elements of construction, to make realistic films like this have a really earthy texture, and verisimilitude. It’s a beautiful hand-crafted work with good performances, and superb direction, but it is not for everyone. Definitely not for the weak of heart. Watch this is you feel like some human tragedy, otherwise, give it a miss, and perhaps watch the film where Mads Mikkelsen is the villain, not the one where everyone else believes he is. Next time we continue with Part 4 of my dissection of Woody Allen as an auteur. Please Like/Comment/Subscribe. I really appreciate it. Cheers.

– Sam.

Babel (2006) or ‘Cultural Diversity, and non-linear narrative’.

'Listen' An odd tagline, yet incredibly deep.

‘Listen’ An odd tagline, yet incredibly deep.

Babel (2006) is an International Drama Film, from Auteur Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. Starring Brad Pitt, Rinko Kikuchi, Cate Blanchett, and Gael Garcia Bernal. It is the third in the ‘Death’ Trilogy, a trilogy based on inter-narrative strands, with multiple stories mainly revolving around human tragedy. The films are known to be incredibly well written, with the dialogue often containing a lot of dramatic irony in regards to the other stories, and also very subtle links that weave the different narrative strands together. I’d been meaning to see Babel for a while, and I was certainly not disappointed.

An interesting shot, showing how two of the narratives are subtly interlinked.

An interesting shot, showing how two of the narratives are subtly interlinked.

There’s a lot going on in Babel, so instead of covering it all i’ll dissect small differing parts in detail. The main narrative strand is based on two brothers in Morocco as their dad gives them a rifle, to shoot coyotes which’ll stop them killing the family’s livestock. There’s some rivalry as one of the brothers can’t work the rifle and doubts it’s authenticity, as the other proves it does work by firing at a coach full of American tourists. The bullet pierces the glass as Susan Jones (Cate Blanchett) is hit, as Richard Jones (Brad Pitt) tries to find medical aid for his wife, mostly unsuccessfully as he fears for her death whilst the embassy struggles to dispatch an emergency helicopter due to political reasons. This segment manages to really remain tense with some rather touching human drama, with a brief but effective performance from both Brad Pitt, and Cate Blanchett. There’s some very subtle irony in the fact Susan is clearly mildly xenophobic and cautious during her travels, yet she’s the one who’s shot to reinforce those beliefs. The film is very much about diversity. Cultural, ethnic, biological, or otherwise. In the story of Richard and Susan Jones, we see a lot of rather subtle political bickering between the two government as the U.S declares the attack a terrorist attack under assumption, while the Moroccan government lividly claims it is not. That’s why Babel is so deep as a film, the mild political things, radio broad-casts and TV’s in the backgrounds of scenes really knit the narrative together, and foreshadow each other. Also, everything is just unmistakably realistic, and human. A minor detail in the Moroccan section I liked, was the sheer lack of empathy the other passengers had for Susan as they begged and pleaded to leave without the two, completely uncaring for Richard that his wife very nearly died. It really captures one of the motifs in Babel in microcosm, that we don’t understand each other as a race.

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Ultimately as the name would suggest in a probable reference to the religious passage, Babel is about speech. Whether we literally don’t understand each other, due to language barriers or otherwise, or a literal lack of human empathy and understanding, via politically or in response to authority or the law. Could also be interpreted as a film about different cultures, languages, races, and how we become to be, and how we’re all different. The segment that takes place in Japan focuses on Chieko Wataya (Rinko Kikuchi) a deaf-mute teenager, who wants male attention but struggles as she finds it basically impossible to talk. The narrative focuses on her mother’s passing and suicide and the strained relationship with her father as a result, as she falls for a detective interested in a brief sub-plot related to her father as she attempts to seduce him but fails. The segments involving Chieko are very sad, as the scenes very effectively draw sympathy and pity from the audience as she desperately attempts to fit in. Chieko being deaf, is very much the centerpiece to the narrative that kind of unites all of the motifs. She cannot hear, which relates to speech, in turn people can’t understand her, both figuratively and literally in terms of her hand-signs, and think of her as estranged due to her lack of hearing and thus treat her as an outcast. Maybe it’s stretching too far, by suggesting that she is a metaphor, or symbolism for human-kind or at least the minorities, she is different as a result of being treated as an outcast, not as a result of herself.

Aid comes just in time for Susan and Richard Jones.

Aid comes just in time for Susan and Richard Jones.

Some of the narrative strands and view-points are weaker than others, and I can’t honestly say I was emotionally gripped during all of it, I felt fairly passive during the whole Mexican side of the narrative, I just didn’t really find it touching or emotional compared to the others, rather just fairly straight forward. However while you can consider the narrative strands on their own, and as loosely tied together as this world motif, this piece of global cinema involving these three drastically different cultures, and characters, struggling with different issues in my eyes it defines Babel as an experience, not necessarily something to delve into academically or try to explain. Films about the human condition, and just sections of life, pages of someone’s journal, a few footsteps in someone else’s shoes are hard to define because they’re so identifiable in nature as they feel so real. Dialogue becomes speech, actors become characters, and genres ultimately become meaningless. As if the label ‘Drama’ in anyway could define a film like Babel so vaguely. Babel’s one of the first films to move me in a while, and I wholeheartedly suggest you watch it if you haven’t seen it. I hope you enjoyed the review this week, should be more frequent for the next few days, also keep an eye out for some lengthy academic articles i’ll be writing. Please Like/Follow/and Comment, and for now i’ll leave you with this hauntingly beautiful piece of score from Babel. Cheers!

– Sam.

A Few Good Men (1992) or ‘A false victory’.

A Few Good Men

A Few Good Men is an american drama film/courtroom drama directed by relatively praised directed Rob Reiner, starring Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, Kevin Bacon, Demi Moore, and Keifer Sutherland. I’ve been wanting to watch it for a while, it’s generally well known for Colonel Jessop’s character and Jack Nicholson’s excellent execution of the character. Overall I was fairly unphased by A Few Good Men, particularly at it’s ending, as I don’t really think it stuck the landing, especially with the film being kind of hypocritical and wrong in it’s ideology. With a rating of 7.6 at IMDB, and a metascore of 62, the film is ranked fairly well, and was very much praised by critics.

Officer Kaffee (Left), and Commander something or rather (Right)

Officer Kaffee (Left), and Commander something or rather (Right)

Lt. Daniel Kaffee (Tom Cruise) is a cocky lawyer, working for the navy in what the film implies is his first court case. A marine at a military base in Cuba wants to transfer due to his poor treatment, and his ailing health. He writes several letters to different authorities telling them he will disclose the name of a soldier who committed a crime in Cuba by illegally firing over the fence post, if they agree to transfer him. Colonel Jessop (Jack Nicholson) learns of this, and in a meeting with two of his lower downs, agrees that Santiago can’t be transferred and that they were going to train him, as he leaves Lt.Kendrick in charge (Keifer Sutherland). As a result, Kendrick commands two of his squad to ‘code red’ Private Santiago, which is essentially a disciplinary hazing as they gag him, and shave his head, however as a result of poor health he dies, and the two marines are convicted of murder, attempt to murder, and misconduct as marines. Daniel must take the case, and cannot deal as the marines refuse it, as he goes to work against prosecution Capt. Jack Ross (Kevin Bacon). Until inevitably, Daniel must chance his career by risk of getting a court martial by accusing Colonel Jessop in his pursuit of the truth.

The two marines Accused of murder.

The two marines Accused of murder.

One of the reasons I wasn’t particularly impressed might have been due to the majority of the screen-time following Tom Cruise and Demi Moores characters, with Cruise being an annoyingly smug hot-shot lawyer who’s a bit of an ass, with Demi Moore being a naive quite frankly stupid person, considering she’s apparently head of Internal Affairs? which is kind of absurd, and no it isn’t misogyny it’s just bad writing/bad performance. The film is two hours long, with the first half being rather interesting, with the second-half being strictly confined to the court room, it’s realistic of law procedure but not exactly entertaining until it brings tension towards the climax. A Few Good Men is a good premise, and has some good performances and certainly some good scenes, however I didn’t like it entirely as it’s far too cliche’ and Hollywood, it’s far too much of a 90’s movie. Particularly in that, it’s moral doesn’t really make sense, for a film that seems awfully triumphant at the end? The film is very much in debate about the idea of code reds, but Jessop has a completely valid point, that he was training him to be a competent soldier by what ever means necessary.

Col. Jessep: Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who’s gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinburg? I have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago, and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. That Santiago’s death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way, Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand a post. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to.

Kaffee: Did you order the Code Red?

Col. Jessep: I did the job I…

Kaffee: *Did you order the Code Red?*

Col. Jessep: *You’re Goddamn right I did!*

That’s the clincher, the existence of a cruel, harsh, bastard like Jessop, who’s been at war for years, seeing men kill other men may not be ideal, or pretty by Hollywood’s standards but it certainly was and is necessary. And the death of Santiago also isn’t ideal, and anyone dying is sad, and it may be heartless to say Jessop’s views as Santiago’s death is an expenditure of his duty but ultimately it is. Maybe i’m a sucker for a well-written villain but I find it hard to agree with Kaffee particularly with the line  ‘I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it’. A well-taught harvard boy isn’t going to guard the country, they need a cruel, foul, heartless tyrant to do it, because that’s what years of the military service and death around him has forged. It’s a real shame in A Few Good Men that the only realistic characters are villains, and ultimately they get punished for doing their job, not by the book, but ultimately it was never their intention to kill Santiago, unless i’m really missing something. Especially with after Jessop’s arrest we get such a cliche’ ‘OH LOOK WE DID IT! AFTER ALL!’ ending, with some of the most cliche music i’ve ever heard and ridiculous dialogue as Kaffee’s client salutes him.

The infamous Colonel Jessop

The infamous Colonel Jessop

A Few Good Men has some decent performances, and is well-written. But the ideology isn’t for me, I like dark, or tragic endings because they’re more realistic, memorable and real. Ultimately that’s where Cinema has gone since the 90’s, dark and edgy and an ending like I suggested probably would have been rejected by most american audiences at that point in time, as A Few Good Men really is a product of the 90’s. Regardless, I enjoyed it, and it’s worth watching even if  you don’t agree with me. Please Like/Follow/Comment, until next time. Cheers!

– Sam.

Fool’s Day Bonanza The Wicker Man (2006)/The Room (2002)

'No, I definitely can't see that giant wooden effigy that's fucking right behind me'

‘No, I definitely can’t see that giant wooden effigy that’s fucking right behind me’

So, The Wicker Man (2006) is a um.. its uhhh.. ummmm. It’s a film. That’s what it is, it’s certainly a film, by Director Neil LaBute (Never heard of him either), Starring Nicholas Cage (REJOICE). I’m reviewing it primarily for your amusement, and no other reason, as most of us will know by now it is pretty awful.

Mmmm...Jeff Goldblum's Nipples. <3.

Mmmm…Jeff Goldblum’s Nipples. <3.

The uhh..narrative. Involves.. Edward Malus (Nicholas Cage) receiving a letter from his former wife Willow who left years ago with no explanation as she explains their daughter Rowan has gone missing. Thus Edward sets out for the small mysterious isle in order to find his annoying small child. That’s um, that’s pretty much the entire story. No really, that’s pretty much it. Oh, and Willow invited him there primarily so they could have a sacrifice in their pagan ceremony, in which they set fire to a giant Wicker Man, with him inside. However, as opposed to the original version, this one doesn’t have any real plot, double meanings, mysterious symbolism or interesting characters, it’s pretty much just shit. You may ask, ‘well why is it shit Sam?, Tell us!’, well I suppose I can. The film has basically no gumption, cohesion or direction on it’s way to it’s fairly expected set piece climax, that basically is the only thing in the entire film which vaguely ties it to the original film. Between the last ten minutes, and the first, it’s basically just Nicholas Cage mainly beating up pagan women, and girls, whilst trying to find his daughter. Also the whole ceremony, and the ‘mystery’ is pretty much entirely obvious due to the hideously overacting talents of the horrible extras that appear in this film. The music is also horribly cliche. So basically the entire film in microcosm is in that clip right there. So in summary it is shit, watch it for a laugh, if you want. But probably don’t. Umm. Well that was quick. Ummm..suppose i’ll review something else? for you lovely people. Ummm.. uhhh..

DerekDeal_TheRoom

Yep, this is actually happening. Rather like this poster, against all odds.

The Room (2002) is a ‘Romantic Drama’ film. Yep, that’s it’s genre, and i’m sticking to it. From Actor, Director, Producer, and Writer Tommy Wiseau. The film follows banker Johnny (Tommy Wiseau), as he begins to expect Lisa (Juliette Danielle) of cheating on him, with trusted friend Mark (Greg Sestero). Sure, I could go into the film’s many, many sub-plots are they’re pretty immediately abandoned as soon as they’re mentioned. The whole drugs thing with the Chris R character was just completely ignored and unfinished, with no real clarification of what happened. Peter’s character who is apparently quite important to the narrative and was reportedly supposed to bring some sort of twist or important catharsis to the finish, didn’t. This was apparently because he ran out of time, and he was unable to film the last scenes so his dialogue was just wiped. Why this was remotely a good idea? who knows. Not to mention with Lisa’s mother getting breast cancer, only for it to NEVER BE MENTIONED AGAIN. That’s pretty much the narrative, couple, man suspects woman cheats, and she does, etc.

Chris Tucker at the Oscars 2013, receiving an award for Best Actor. Well done Chris. <3

Chris Tucker at the Oscars 2013, receiving an award for Best Actor. Well done Chris. ❤

Right..Textual analysis. Okay. There’s an incredible amount of hilarious irony in The Room. Johnny’s suspicious of his girlfriend cheating on him, when basically every male in the film comments about her being attractive, in particular one character who appears in frame, to say one line about her, to then never say anything again. The film could arguably be incredibly misogynist through several lines, just a sample for you here:

Mark: Yeah, man, you’ll never know. People are very strange these days. I used to know a girl; she had a dozen guys. One of them found out about it… beat her up so bad she ended up at a hospital on Guerrero Street.

Johnny: Ha ha ha. What a story, Mark

Mark: Yeah, you can say that again.

Yeah….wow. What a story, MARK. Ultimately the film does manage real romance, and sexuality, with some really naturalistic, sexually-charged dialogue.

Lisa: I just wanted to hear your sexy voice. I keep thinking about your strong hands around my body. It excites me so much.

Yep, that’s good stuff. While this maybe slightly laughable, the ending scene is very serious, and does manage to really pull some emotion and reaction from the audience during it’s shocking tense conclusion :O

Lisa: I’ve lost him, but I still have you, right? Right?

Mark: You don’t *have* me. You’ll *never* have me. You killed him.

Lisa: Mark, we’re free to be together. I love you. I love you!

Mark: Tramp. You killed him; you’re the cause of all of this. I don’t love you. Get out of my life, you bitch!

Wow! What a great script and dialogue, MARK. Pahahaha. In summary, watch the Room it’s hilarious, and definitely worth the 90 minutes, because it’s fucking hilarious that someone thought this was a good idea. I might even go as far to say, it’s one of the best films ever ma-

Almost lost my head for a moment there, what was I thinking! So A bit of a silly piece for today, but that’s all in good fun! hope you enjoyed it! please comment/follow/like, and be sure to let me know if you liked it, and maybe i’ll do a few more silly reviews. And right-o Major, Time for a cartoon!

Cheers!

Sam.

Flight (2012)

flight2

Flight (2012) is American drama film, by Robert Zemeckis, starring Denzel Washington, with appearances from Kelly Reilly, John Goodman, and Bruce Greenwood. I decided to watch Flight primarily because the trailer caught my eye, and Robert Zemeckis is certainly a good director. It’s very much a character piece, and this intrigued me given Denzel Washington’s usually squandered talents on fairly dull, bland, generic films such as Man on Fire, Deja Vu, as entertaining as that can be sometimes, Denzel definitely outdoes him self in Flight. It’s a film focused very much around his character, his development, and who we know and think Whip Whittaker is, and that demands a lot of pure acting talent, which he does provide with some good, solid directing by Zemeckis.

A very tense scene in which Whip flips the airplane.

A very tense scene in which Whip flips the airplane.

Flight is essentially a moral conundrum. Whip Whittaker is an incredibly gifted commercial flight pilot, with an incredible taste for alcohol. He drinks the light before a flight, the morning after, takes cocaine and drinks vodka on the plane from the trolley whilst still managing to save almost everyone’s life. The appropriate authorities get involved, and with a blood-test prove that Whip had been drinking and had taken cocaine, however, with some help old pilot friend Charlie (Bruce Greenwood), and a lawyer provided for him (Don Cheadle) the report is thrown out due to improper equipment usage. However ultimately, Whip must face his alcoholism and those around begin to leave him one by one, until he must decide if this is a secret he can take to the grave with him, and be a free man, or if he will be truthful, and face a serious prison term. 

A strong attempt at trying to resist

A strong attempt at trying to resist.

Denzel Washington is good as Whip Whittaker, he’s fairly low-key, often quiet and reserved, which is fairly natural for an older man with an ex-wife who only contacts him for financial needs, whilst his alcoholism slowly eats away at him inch by inch. Two love interests in the narrative really add some emotion to the film, the first being Katerina Marquez (Nadine Velazquez) a flight attendant on the same flight as we see them both that morning, as she tragically dies in the crash helping a child back up to his seat, as the airplane inverts. The other is Nicole (Kelly Reilly), an addict he meets in the hospital who he is quite taken with. They share some semblance of romance while Nicole with no other place to go stays with Whip, eventually leaving him due to his problem as she turns sober. There’s some symbolism in the fact, that Whip confesses to his problem when he’s asked if he thought Katrina drunk the vodka on the flight, out of emotion for her that he wouldn’t slander her name, or so we assume. The film faces alcoholism as a serious issue, with Whip basically having a drink in every scene of the film, completely reliant and dependent on his vices. At points it could be said the story is a bit conceited and unrealistic, in the handling of the case, but i’m willing to forgive it as it’s necessarily in the build to the climax, in which Whip’s posed with the question can he continue to lie and shift the blame on his dead former-lover?

Video footage Whip sees on TV, of the crash.

Video footage Whip sees on TV, of the crash.

I guess Flight’s flaw if anything is, a bit too much happens. In this way, there isn’t a lot of focus on the things that are happening around him, and certain elements could definitely do with more developing. For example, Nicole was so eager to move in with a stranger, and was just a junkie in the beginning of the film, desperate for heroin and coke, but after she moves in she’s just immediately sober within a scene or so. It’s odd in her characterization that she’s so quick to judge Whip for his vices in this way, not to mention Whip’s son and ex-wife who continually appear in the dialogue of the film but only appear once. It seems like some of the narrative sub-plots could use trimming in Flight, but overall it still delivers as a very emotional, clarifying, moving, and mentally engaging piece of cinema. The score’s particularly interesting with a mixture of poppy pop-culture tunes in lighter scenes, with elements of orchestra during the tension and emotion. 

The moment of truth.

The moment of truth.

In summary, I quite liked flight, quite an aesthetically pleasing, and a very digestible film with some very thought-provoking dilemmas, with solid direction, dialogue, and characters. If you haven’t seen Flight, see it, really shows Denzel at his best, if you’re a fan. For now i’ll leave you with this trailer, until next time! As always, please Follow/Like/Comment, I really appreciate it. Cheers!

– Sam.