Saturday, August 24, 2013

five and a half movies

hi there

over the last few days i have had chance to see a good deal more movies than is currently usual. well, on a plane your choices are to sleep or watch films. i would imagine that all who wanted to see what i watched saw them weeks if not months ago, but you never know - on the off chance that my views are of any interest, here you go!

blogger has taken to loading the posters in a somewhat alphabetical way, so that's the only reason the films appear in the order that they do.

a qualified comedy masterpiece was the Alan Partridge film. i laughed pretty much from start to finish, and laughed hard. so will, i would dare to state, any Alan Partridge fan who watches this.

and there's the qualified problem. whereas i had only seen two episodes of the Mid Morning Matters world in which this film is set, i had seen everything else Partridge, and thus was quite comfortable with random characters and references. i would be surprised if anyone who saw this film without any prior knowledge of Steve Coogan's creation made any sense out of it at all.

no doubt people inclined not to be nice about Steve Coogan see him turning to his most celebrated charater as a last ditch, desperate attempt to get a film career going. Coogan has not had the greatest run in cinematic adventures, with only 24 Hour Party People being a truly great movie. to that allegation, i say so what? it's what the fans want, and it is what he's very good at. i sat in a cinema with people roaring with laughter at this film. if it makes him and his fellow creators a pile of money, and gives a boost to his film career, so much the better.

i have so far only watched the first 50 minutes or so of The Canyons, hence the title of this blog post. i am, to be honest, unsure if i am going to ever revisit and watch the remainder of the film. i really wish i could say i only saw the first half of it because of time constraints. alas, in truth it is because it is a really, really, really bad film.

Bret Easton Ellis is someone who had enormous goodwill with readers. his first three novels, Less Than Zero, The Rules Of Attraction and of course American Psycho, basically set him up as one of the most important writers of his generation, perhaps the greatest American writer since Tom Wolfe. his impressive efforts to erode that goodwill - the mess of Glamorama, the incomprehensible Lunar Park and the downright lazy Imperial Bedrooms - has seen many wonder how he was ever any good in the first place.

his notorious twitter account is something that many follow under the impression that it is some sort of parody account. alas it is not. i hold a fear that if he ever wrote another novel, it would be a stream of who tweeted who, who flagged who in a status and who tagged who online. nothing in The Canyons took any of that fear away at all.

i am aware that i've not said much of the film itself at all. there is so very little to say. it's all Trust Fund kids and wannabe stars yet again, with the added twist of everyone staring at their mobile phone more than anything else. casting Lindsay Lohan and adult film star James Deen does, sadly, turn out to be a cynical effort to generate interest rather than anything bold or inspired.

sit back and milk those royalties, Bret, for any more of this will probably see the royalties run dry.

i still have a tendency to be wary of, and indeed put off watching, new Quentin Tarantino films. after such great promise, in particular with his debut Reservoir Dogs, he appeared to wish to become a parody of himself, what with the dire Kill Bill films that many have convinced themselves were any good and the truly awful Death Proof. happily, unlike Mr Ellis above, he managed to stop the rot and deliver a masterpiece in the form of Inglorious Basterds. happier still is the film Django Unchained, which is just one amazing film. i will need, and certainly intend, to watch it a few more times, but my initial impression is that this film will be considered Tarantino's masterpiece.

with this film being several months old i imagine just about everyone who wants to see it has, but if you have any lingering doubts all i can say is go ahead and watch it. this easily features his greatest ensemble cast since Pulp Fiction (the strong perfomances in Inglorious kind of covered one or two dud performances) and his best written work since the up until now for me unequalled brilliance of Reservoir Dogs. it's brutal, barbaric, foul mouthed and offensive at times, but my word is it all worth it.

on, then, to Iron Man 3. i suppose the best review i can give it is "not bad at all", which might be a bit of a slap in the face to it, considering the money spent on it, but isn't intended as one.

after the entirely anonymous, forgettable nature of the second film, it was great to see them revisit what made the first film work so well with the characters here. Robert Downey Jnr would seem to have nothing at all but respect for the fact that the title character has made him several hundreds of millions of dollars and gives a performance as good as he can, which is very good indeed. the same cannot, to highlight one flaw in the film, be said of Ben Kingsley, who you suspect was more bothered about ensuring all British or Commonwealth citizens involved with the film called him 'Sir' than he was about what he was doing in the film. this is addressed to a degree by the presence of the ever great Guy Pearce, giving a performance better than his part was written.

the action sequences surpass the high standard set by that whole Avengers movie, and seem to make it a tough act for the imminent Captain America and Thor sequels to follow. a big problem is the amount of times we have to see 'Iron Man in peril', though - there was not a lot of suspense to be had when we know he is in Avengers 2 in a few years, but nonetheless they go right ahead and try to put him in "he might die" situations. there is a total lack of tension in these scenes, no matter how hard they try to create some.

oh, and a word of warning or advice - the "end scene" after the credits is well worth it. as in it is easily the best, funniest end scene of any of these Marvel films so far.

my cousin Andrew was very excited about the film Oblivion. so much so that he tried to advocate me just going right ahead and investing in the blu-ray of the film before i had even seen so much as a trailer, so confident was he that it is a masterpiece. ahem.

i happen to like Tom Cruise a great deal in films, and i could not care less for his off-screen shenanigans or beliefs that seem to get so many worked up. but i am not any sort of apologist for him, and do not subscribe to the idea that this film is in any way brilliant. poor and dull are the first two words that come to mind.

basically this is a confused mash-up of Moon, I Am Legend and to an extent Independence Day, borrowing in parts from Planet Of The Apes. it does not work in any way, shape or form at all. the worst thing it does is take Morgan Freeman and make him a blatant "older Morpheus out of Matrix" homage character.

Tom Cruise can do much, much better than this. his staggering perfomance in Minority Report underlined that he can give his great acting skills over to elevate science fiction into classic cinema, but he seems to have no interest in doing this here. the only time he ever seems interested is in a bizarre motorbike sequence that appears to be an odd tribute to Top Gun.

many thanks indeed to Mike Llewellyn for pointing me in the direction of the film Seven Psychopaths. sure, one or two have told me that it was good, but when Mike sends me a message out of the blue that says "watch this film" then that's a guarantee it will be something magnificent.

i was interested to see how director Martin McDonagh would get on with a second film. his first, In Bruges, was an impressive reworking of Harold Pinter's The Dumb Waiter that felt like it would be difficult to top. he just about does it here.

plot? something about an alcoholic writer, a deranged serial killer and kidnapping the dog of the local mobster. all really rather secondary to the post-modernist like knowing comments made within the film about the film and the impressive range of sub-plots that randomly fire up.

of most interest here are the outstanding performances. if In Bruges was Colin Farrell's greatest ever work, well, this is a close second. Christopher Walken gives a performance here that reminds one of his three greatest roles, i.e. The Deer Hunter, The Dead Zone and True Romance. Woody Harrelson again delivers another example of why he should really get more respect as an actor than he usually enjoys, and it remains that Sam Rockwell appears incapable of ever being bad.

Seven Psychopaths is strange and off the beaten track, but well worth watching.

well, there you have it. if those reviews have helped anyone, splendid!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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