movies:Burn After Reading

October 23, 2008

Burn After ReadingCowen Brothers

The words ‘caper’ or ‘farce’ come to mind with this movie as it is a simple plot with lots of characters whos paths cross in strange, unpredictable ways which leads to missunderstandings.

While this isn’t an overly violent film when the violence does happen it is a bit graphic and there’s a lot of swearing, but other than that I just found myself giggling all the way through it.

It’s that kind of film – not really obvious belly-laughs more a constant level of giggling under your breath.

The cast of George Clooney (Harry Pfarrer), Frances McDormand (Linda Litzke), John Malkovich (Osbourne Cox), Tilda Swinton (Katie Cox) and Brad Pitt (Chad Feldheimer) were outstanding.  I found Brad simply fantastic as playing so ‘out of character’ for anything I’ve seen him do before that I was in stitches every time he was on screen.

I do like Cowen brother‘s films and something that came to mind from this one was the names they come up with for their characters, organisations and things in their films – I forget the name of the detective agency mentioned briefly at one point in Burn After Reading, but the sound of it made me smile.  Is this a Cowen Brother‘s trade mark : “Lebowski” “Barton Fink” and “Chet” from Barton Fink (the Chet scene from Barton Fink is the funnyiest scene from the movie)

Quote: “Report back to me when it makes sense.”

movies: 12 Angry Men

September 13, 2008
Rather than watch “dancing on X-factor celebrity saturday night special” I stuck on a DVD I picked up for only £4 this week.  The 1957 box office flop which has become a classic 12 Angry Men.   A claustrophobic jury room drama which brings out incredible performances from all the cast is on the face of it a simple story about 12 men trying to decide the guilt or innocence in a murder case that we as the audience never get to see.

Other than two brief scenes at the start and end of the movie everything takes place in a hot and stuffy jury room, where tempers flair and personal prejudice are come on display. Gradually through the movie one by one the jury members begin to doubt their original opinion of the case which initially looked like a foregone conclusion.

I had planned to get several things done while watching this in the background, but was captivated from the start.  The performances are outstanding from all the cast, who you will recognise from other movies of the time even if thier names aren’t as familiar as Henry Fonda and ‘that bloke from Quincy‘.

The direction, camera work and lighting were also fantastic with simple things like a sudden rainstorm making it dark and requiring the lights to be turned on just as sides voting balance one another.  I also noticed that as the film went on there were less long shots and more closeups, on IMDB trivia this is explained as:

“At the beginning of the film, the cameras are all positioned above eye level and mounted with wide-angle lenses to give the appearance of greater distance between the subjects. As the film progresses the cameras slip down to eye level. By the end of the film, nearly all of it is shot below eye level, in close-up and with telephoto lenses to increase the encroaching sense of claustrophobia.”

Great film, spelbinding, didn’t get anything done.

Movies: The Dark Knight

August 10, 2008

The Dark Knight

This is probably the simplest review I’ll ever write…

Great movie, go see it !!

The only thing that needs added to that is a warning that it is far more violent than its 12A certificate suggests.  The acting is superb, the setting and set pieces, everything is fantastic.  Go see this movie!

Movie: “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian”

July 5, 2008

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian   [ contains some spoilers ]

A simple tale of love between a young prince and a 113 year old queen… or something like that.

This is the second film version of CS Lewis Chronicles of Narnia.  So, is it as good as the first one? – no it’s better I didn’t really like the first one too much.  

Is it as good as the book? – no, books are almost always better than the movie version but usually take longer.

There certainly isn’t as much walking in the movie as there is in the book but nothing is really lost through this and there is a lot of waiting about wondering where Aslan is when you know he is going to show up.  And actually I think the little loving glances between Caspian and Susan were unnecessary, there wasn’t enough to make sense, its not in the book and there was no need for a relationship in the story…

Apart from that little moan it was great.  There were a lot of differences from the book but I really like the way the tales of Narnia have been transfered to the big screen.  The main battle sequence was fantastic as it is always interesting how they portray how different creatures work together and fight according to their kind.  

One thing though that I thought about while watching this – if the Chronicles are such a ‘christian allegory‘ shouldn’t the Narnians be wondering around with WWAD bracelets?  Even though the answer to What Would Aslan Do  would always be ‘turn up late and roar a bit’.

Things I blog about…

June 4, 2008

When I moved from my old web site to this blog (Jan 2006 by the looks of this) the main reason was to have a place that I could easily and quickly access from anywhere to remind my self of things – links, useful resources, reminders of handy software, etc.

Obviously because of the nature of blogging it also means that I can stick up posts to remind my self of various things – tags with Food tend to be places I’ve eaten, Movies are films I’ve watched or movie related, etc.  and there are all those odd things that you find that might be of interest to others or yourself at some point in the future.

For some reason when I started I created a separate page for ‘BOOKS’ which was where I kept a reminder of what I had read and stuff I wanted to read (to keep track of a series).  This has become too long and cumbersome so I’m going to start blogging these. However, this means I either keep what is there, delete it all or transfer it here.  I’m going to do the latter – so the next few posts may be a little boring.

Movie: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

June 1, 2008

OK, I’ll start with no spoilers. It’s good to see the Indiana Jones character back, wish they had been making more of these as the characters are so fun and it is kind of ‘boys own’ comic book style. I also really liked the way this was shot (at first) the opening scene was very classic Hollywood come film noir with the low angle wide shots switching to extreme close up. Obviously the music was great, you’ve got to keep suspending disbelief over and over, and the running jokes referring to Indiana’s age is all good stuff.

I even thought I spotted a Wilhelm Scream (first time I actually noticed it on first viewing) so checked with IMDB and indeed “WILHELM SCREAM: Boy with stack of books in library about to get crashed into by bike.”

Now, The Spoilers – If you’ve NOT seen the film don’t read any further – go have fun don’t expect too much…

I waited until after seeing the film before reading Simon’s comments on this movie and I’ve got to agree to some extent. This movie “jumped the shark” for me during the STUPID impossible fight on the impossible cars traveling through the impossible jungle. It went on far too long with more and more silliness going on, too long and spun out just daft and no need for it to have been done so badly. Raiders of the Lost Ark was a great film, I don’t think it had that comic book style at all – sure it was ‘Hollywood’ in that any normal person getting dragged behind a truck wouldn’t get up and get on with the fight, but it didn’t simply throw away any sense of being on this planet…. you can’t jump around from car to car, stand and have a sword fight on the back of a speeding car – not to mention that the car is supposed to be off-road! So at that point we switch from fantasy to comic book and I think that’s when I lost interest and realised this movie wasn’t living up to my expectations.

So I’m not going to go in to all the other things I didn’t like about the movie, it wasn’t (by a long shot) the worst film I’ve seen. It is worth catching, just don’t expect too much – which is a shame.

These film makers should learn from their mistakes – I give you the Star Wars prequels – so if you are going to bring well loved characters back to the screen they owe the viewer a good and well made story. This story was OK (at a push), but not great.  As Simon said, the original films had supernatural elements, but this was “never entirely revealed in the films (much as the X-Files would later make its signature) made them vaguely thoughtful and compelling. Meanwhile, this latest offering goes right over that line with no apologies.”

So, on one hand it’s nice to see Indi back, but I do wish it had been in a better film.

movie: sound of music

September 24, 2007

I think I must have seen this but it is the sort of sickly sweet musical I don’t really like, and is so much pastiched now that I don’t know if I’ve seen it or just know all the bits. However, after a rendition of a song from this movie today I was sent this link to a re-cut trailer for The Sound of Music

Now I want to watch it.