Sunday, 30 January 2011

The Green Hornet

Michel Gondry did this rendition of the 1966-’67 TV Series proud, sticking to the series in many ways but still modernising it and making it suitable for the audience of today’s society. Unlike many modern adaptations they modernise everything to a ridiculous extent and although they have upgraded the car, they have kept it to be a 1966 Chrysler Crown Imperial, they kept the clothes the same costumes and got similar features, such as the flipping floor to reveal The Black Beauty and the parting of the wall for the car to exit.
Irresponsible playboy Britt Reid (Seth Rogen) becomes the new publisher and owner of the Los Angeles' "The Daily Sentinel" after the sudden death of his father by an allergic reaction to a bee sting. Britt's party life is about to change when he has to take responsibility in life and him and his coffee-maker/driver/mechanics and kung fu expert, Kato (Rumoured to first be played by Stephen Chow but now Jay Chou) become friends. They later go on to stop a theft after vandalising Britt's fathers statue once they realise, whilst sitting in one of the many cars, how much they dislike him. They end up stopping a theft and saving 2 people. With the help of Kato, Britt starts a new career of fighting crime as the masked superhero "The Green Hornet", suggested by Kato as Britt’s idea was The Green Bee, hmm.
It being the 3rd feature-film and writing collaboration of Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen, including Superbad and the brilliant Pineapple Express, you expect the same sort of humour and stupidity from Rogen. That is exactly what you get.  Rogen plays this 28-year-old slacking, party and drink obsessed man living off his dad’s wealth; but once he is left alone he has to become responsible but still happens to end up as a silly and petty character, becoming a ‘hero/villain’. He uses his new found ownership of the paper to publicize the about the high-profile criminal that is The Green Hornet.
Kato on the other hand is a genius. He plays Britt Reid's valet, who doubles as The Green Hornet's unnamed, masked driver and sidekick to help him in his vigilante adventures, disguised as the activities of a racketeer and his chauffeur/bodyguard/enforcer; although Kato does most, if not all, the fighting and we see the Asian fighter plan out battles as they happen in slow-motion, visibly highlighting objects he can use to his advantage. As well as being the top crime fighter in the film he looks after all of Reid’s cars, fixes them and upgrades them. This is definitely where his expertise shows with the creation of The Black Beauty. It is clearly obvious that Kato does all the work and is the mastermind, whereas Britt is the incompetent fool. Kato does not, by far, receive the credit he deserves.
Lenore Case, played by the lovely Cameron Diaz, is hired by Britt as his assistant and researcher. She plays a knowledgeable journalist with a degree in criminology, perfect for their plans, which unwittingly basically becomes the back bone and brains of The Green Hornet’s actions without knowing that Kato and Britt are the ‘mastermind villains’. Doesn't have as big of a screen role as I would have thought but there we are.
A comical aspect of this film would have to be the role of Chudnofsky played by Christoph Waltz (Inglorious Basterds). Chudnofsky is the main villain in the movie but seen as a pathetic and a tad feminine character; that is actually pretty small but controlling over his army of men, this could show his weakness of several men against The Green Hornets 2, and he even asks for their help. He is a paranoid Russian gangster who rose to power and controls all of the crime in the L.A by planning to join all of the crime families of Los Angeles together to organize a "super-mafia." Many of the people he confronts, James Franco playing Danny ‘Crystal’ Clear for one, constantly mock him about how he is not scary, and this then leads him to follow in The Green Hornet’s footsteps by giving himself a nickname, Bloodnofksy. Except from green he wears red in order to appear more fearful and alarm provoking.
Like any action film there are the typical conventions of the lack of responsibility turning into a sense of drama that turns into aspects of control and power leading to the late night researching alone and fighting back harder and stronger, achieving a sense of accomplishment doing good. There is also, most typically, a thought to be good guy who turns out to be a baddie using the main role for blackmail and working for the enemies; found by the past truth and revealing a mischievous guy to be virtuous and respectable.
In terms of directing and editing there is a mix that reminds me of specific areas in other films, such as the ‘comic book’ and surrealist style of Scott Pilgrim when Kato comes to rescue to save Britt and kick all the criminals butts. Also a later part in the film with a fight between the goodies and baddies in the newspaper warehouse of ‘The Daily Sentinel’ reminds me of the scene where an enemy gets palpated through a newspaper generator in one of the Bond films, can’t pin-point exactly what one it was though. Don't worry nobody gets killed in such a gory manner in this film as it is a PG-13 but just the location and hiding behind giant paper barrels reminded me.  

However, there is a section where Chudnofsky/Bloodnofksy gathers his 'super-mafia' together and there are several split screen, don't get me wrong it is very creative the way it is done, but for me it was too busy and I had to reply the section 3/4 times to take in each area. Split screens are a big downfall in my books.
The Green Hornet is a little imprecise as it combines laughs with action, characters with explosions, and light comedy with unpredictable ominous humour. You see which parts of the film are the styles of Rogen and Gondry, but strangely their distinctive and different styles work quite well together, resulting in a slightly comical but confounded movie. I think the film could do with more a sting, it did lack comedy and interest in parts; however it is worthy of the hype it has collected. John Schwartzman’s cinematography skills really do show, and in a magnificent green light.
Result: 7/10 as it was more intriguing than first anticipated but don’t think I would classify it as a ‘must-see’ film.

Sunday, 23 January 2011


Horrific beginning, definitely took me by surprise with the sudden actions and not your usual weakness from Angelina Jolie. Within 20 minutes though, she is back to the action packed, risk taking Jolie we know to love; this dangerous woman who uses her initiative to get herself where she wants to go.
In terms of plot it is very good, things take you by surprise but I feel it all unravelled far too quickly, the film felt ridiculously short. Leaving it on an enigma code too kind of bugs me but would entice me to watch a sequel if ever there were one to come out; which it is rumoured in the next few years.
It is all about Evelyn Salt (Jolie) working as a CIA agent starting off a blonde business looking woman, even absconding she is in light beige colours, into this black haired, sort of mysterious dark character. She basically ends up going on the run after she is accused of being a Russian spy by a defector named Orlov (played by the Polish, Daniel Olbrychski), apparently out to kill the Russian President. All the while she is being chased by a fellow CIA agent Ted Winter (Liev Schreiber) and an FBI agent, Peadbody (Chiwetel Ejiofor). Theodore "Ted" Winter is in fact Evelyn Salt's boss and accompanies Peabody in catching and chasing down Salt when she goes on the run; all the while Ted is protesting her innocence. They work under the guise of Rink Petroleum and Gas, and he refuses to believe that Salt is actually a "Sleeper" Russian spy.
Parts make you really feel for Salt in the way that maybe she is just running to find and protect her husband and not because she is guilty, but then other aspects flip that thought by the actions she does in order to do as she wants. This film definitely has the tendency to change your original thoughts on the ongoing events, that's what keeps you watching till the end and then boom! Enigma. In that sense it is remarkable in making you desire to know what will happen next and getting you to want to watch a sequel just to find out, but if they do another enigma at the second film, if they make it, then man will it irritate me.
Some parts of action lack in physics, I know a lot do in films anyway but when she slides down an elevator shaft it annoyed me how easy it was for her. Unfortunately, was not at all as enticing as I originally had thought; slight disappointment, therefore really rubbing Salt in the wounds of my interest for wanting to watch this action-packed, fast-paced film.
Result: 7/10 for the brilliant story line, enigmas and cinematography, but lacking in deep interest and length, I think there should have been more to it or slowed it down a bit to create tension; was far too fast to be able to feel apprehension for Salt.


Being a massive fan of Christopher Nolan as it is, this film just heightens my love for him and his work. The fact that it manages to be both unmissable and maddening for its release doesn’t kill the immediate buzz, since half the film’s thrills consist of simply keeping up with it. Nolan’s plot is such that the second you overtake it, things start to fray. Also, to try and top a huge hit like The Dark Knight is a very tough job and imagine the pressure too! All I can say is this monster task for Nolan was well worth it, not just to direct it but to write and produce Inception. Wally Pfister's cinematography was just pictographic, went with the whole ambience of the film fantastically.
Where to start with this film? Well has definitely received the well deserved buzz for the most anticipated film of the summer, or the year! The movie’s fiendish; house-of-cards architecture has been a Hollywood state secret from the start. It is hard to review this film without giving too much away for the readers (that is if you haven’t already seen it), or even any minor spoilers and clues; if I do I sincerely apologise already as I won’t particularly ruin it but some parts of the story I have to describe it or none of this will make the slightest bit of sense.
Let’s start off with explaining what “Inception” actually is in the film; it is the process of imbedding a thought in the mind of a subject in such an incredibly subtle manner, that they end up thinking that they came up with it on their own. It is all part of a dream process that they enter into your subconscious; it is much more than a straight forward dream within a dream, it’s all the bits in between and your end thoughts. The beginning can be a minute of “I think I know what is going to happen” will be the minute you lose focus and get left behind, so go to the toilet before hand, save the bother.
Leonardo DiCaprio plays the main role of Cobb, a man who works with a team stealing corporate secrets from people’s minds while they sleep. He doesn’t just simply enter their dream and rummage for the secret. He has to create a whole new world, he requires an architect of some sort to create a world which looks real but cannot be real incase of memories of the unconscious coming in and messing up the settings, planned by the team to lead the subject where Cobb and the group want he/she to go. Cobb needs a team just in case something goes wrong so he goes in with Arthur, played by the lovely Joseph Gordon-Levitt who gives an intense and knowledgeable performance.  Another tremendous member of his team is Eames played by Tom Hardy. You always get a fun and reckless character, the one who wrecks the joint but is funny whilst doing it; well he is that character. Plays it excellently too, along with his intelligence to add to the seriousness of the movie.
The basics of Cobb’s character is that he has some ‘reality’ problems that involves him being apart from his 2 children for a long time and is hard for him to go back to the United States to see them; the reasons unravel in the film, but these problems crop up in the film and make it that bit harder to complete this mission set by Saito (Ken Watanabe). Cobb is a man who is found sitting in a hotel room with a gun in his hand watching his totem spin and watching it intently; he is ready to blow his brains out if the totem keeps spinning, proving that he is in someone else’s dream, in order to “wake himself up”. He has developed an obsession of this ‘world’ of dream invasion, as well as paranoia becoming of him. This continues throughout the film as he often spins the top to verify he is in reality.
This whole ‘mission impossible’, if you will, involves planting a thought in the mind of the son of a very powerful business man on his death bed, Robert Fischer Jr. (Cillian Murphy). To be honest I am still unsure of what the mission is actually for, even after watching it 2 times and concentrating immensely. As I have explained, each dream needs a world to go into involving an architect to generate it; this is where Ellen Page comes in, who plays a girl called Ariadne, found by Miles who, I think is Cobb's father-in-law; as well as acting as a mentor to him he looks after his kids and is also Ariadne's college professor. He is knowledgably portrayed by actor Sir Michael Caine. Being hesitant with the thought of this ‘dream world’ she leaves but has to come back to her intoxication and interest in being able to create a whole new world, an architect’s dream, she joins the team in order to complete this challenging duty.
This is where the concentration of yours really needs to step up a notch, it becomes exceedingly complex with all this layered processing just to make sure it works smoothly, making sure it actually does within the dream is a completely different ball game. The genius of Nolan’s work here begins to place you into these entrancing and mesmeric levels, one after the other, testing your attentiveness and understanding.
Although the rest of the team are oblivious to Cobb’s issues, Ariadne becomes aware of these deep emotional issues; and the fact that they are so deep that they could wriggle their way into the dreams of ‘clients’ may be dangerous in ruining the dream (again, more will be clear when you watch it). Within the film her portrayal of shock and disturbance is absolutely entrancing.
The ending is the big talk of the film; Nolan purposely makes the film go into some sort of ambiguous state to leave the viewer open to their perception and interpretation of that perception; in coincidently the two big themes of the movie. Especially towards the end where it opposes the question of “Is Cobb still dreaming?” to the audience, leaving you to think about every detail of the film, this is what mainly leads you to wanting/needing to watch it again. Genius!
I do like the fact that as Cobb spins the top (his totem) but then walks away from it before he can be completely sure he is in reality. It is almost like he has given up on this obsession of reality and extraction/inception, he couldn’t care as he finally gets to see his kids after a long period of time; gives up in the need to know “What’s real?” and just ultimately ends up accepting where he is as it makes him happy, no matter where he is, he is with his kids. That is his reality.
Being almost 2 and half hours long, I am usually droning out by then but due to its need of concentration the whole time, it keeps you on your toes and still buzzed when it ends. Goes at the perfect pace, not too slow that you catch up so quickly and have time to guess the next section but not too fast that you can’t keep up. Each stage is more fascinating and engaging than the last. The music also fits beautifully to help carry on the story and fit with the pace between each dream. However it is one of those films that requires multiple viewings to let everything sink in and try and figure it all out bit by bit. It will entertain you while at the same time challenge you. And for those of you going to see this based on your love of The Dark Knight: While Inception is a different type of movie. If you’re ravenous for a film that has action, secrecy and respects the audience, I highly recommend you go see Inception.
End result is a 10/10 for me. I found it exciting, enticing, thrilling, heartfelt and astonishing. Nolan did me proud!

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Blue Valentine

Blue Valentine is a love story but not your typical movie love story; it is in fact the opposite, an honest portrayal of a relationship collapsing. About love lost and told with past moments in time juxtaposed with present times. Infrequent with memories of romance between Cindy (Michelle Williams) and Dean (Ryan Gosling) contrasted with the failed marriage they presently lead. One night however, Dean observes their love and tries to save it with one night in a hotel. This is both upsetting and draining to see such compassion be lost compared with their past adorations.
There is no denying that both Gosling and Williams gave brilliant performances, very moving, heartbreaking and convincing. Their little daughter, Frankie (Faith Wladyka), was adorable whenever she was on screen, also a brilliant adaptation of a little daddy’s girl. Not your conventional family you see in happy films, this is 90% doom and gloom with aspects of happiness, not a film to go watch if you need uplifting.
The character of Dean is very protective of his wife and a loving father for little Frankie who he shares a heart warming bond with. You see his personality utilize within the first 10 or so minutes. At the beginning I originally thought it was Jason Lee from ‘My Name is Earl’, he looks like your typical old hillbilly but in a 30 yr old man’s body with a receding hairline. Although he swears quite a bit he is careful not to do it in the presence of his little girl. Immaturity but in a child friendly way, as well as being an emotional dedicated family man is the summary of Dean, with his moving and decorating job.
Cindy on the other hand is shown as a sort of sensible and serious woman who lacks love for her husband anymore; even though in the flashbacks she shows such sincere and captivating love. Right from the start you see Cindy almost loosing the glimpse of love she once shared between her and Dean. She, herself, is established as sort of a 'slut' (No nice way of saying that really, sorry) in one part of the film when it sort of shocks the audience as she doesn't seem the type at all.
Overall although the flashbacks were fun and nice to watch put side by side with the rest of the catastrophe of love, I still found myself checking the time all throughout the film, which for me, is a bad sign. There was a beginning continuity error that bugged me quite a bit, with the cigarette for example; I’m one of those observing people and it can be a curse. Though, the credits were lovely and I was relying on the music to make me feel the certain emotions the director which to conveyed. I did notice the song Dean plays of the Ukulele was titled “You Always Hurt The One You Love”, it really does sum up the whole film explaining why it was the trailers backing track. Although I found it to be dragged out a bit too much I can't hurt the film because it was true, deep and full of emotion.
Result: It still does manage to get a 7/10 from me; personal opinion.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Love & Other Drugs

Firstly Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway make a fantastic on-screen couple, very intimate; must better than when they were together in Brokeback Mountain. Maybe be because they not have Viagra on their side in this relationship. It is all about what they’re wearing, or what they aren’t wearing that gets everyone’s attention; but do be warned, don’t see it with a parent or someone who you’d find it awkward to watch some on-screen action with; just saying. It is a mash up of a socio-medical drama, a sex comedy, a drug-company advertisement and an illness movie; but we all prefer to keep it simple with a rom com.
Jake Gyllenhaal starts off as an electronic salesman, immediately very likeable, a laugh and one of those guys who works his charm on every customer. He then gets in some turmoil with his manager doing some sort of indiscretion, but still manages to carry on this undeniable charm in the world of pharmaceutical sales selling drugs for Pfizer, commonly confused as a fake company. This is where he meets Hathaway, a girl who matches him very well on the laid back approach in life. Firstly she attacks Gyllenhaal for tricking him to peeking at her breast in the Neurologists office, once she notices his supply of drugs in his car reassuring he isn’t in fact and intern but a drug rep; in her case a pervert. However you learn to see that she is one of those girls who knows every guy’s trick in the book but later on she actually beats Gyllenhaal to it and then matches him on it; go on girl. They are both two characters who dislike intimacy and start off as a fling, a sort of friends with benefits acts. It’s more revealing, physically more than emotional for the first half of the movie but that’s what keeps you seating for the duration of the movie; is there more ‘in the buff’ scenes? Does “love become a drug” for them?
Anne Hathaway plays a fun, sassy, confident and very free spirited Maggie Murdock who has the attitude of not letting anything strap her down, not in a kinky way. Her clothes speak a lot about her, one who knows she has the body but doesn’t care, is a careless artist who casually wears messy paint splotched dungarees with just a bra underneath. As the film develops you see this aspect that comes from within; the feeling every woman feels deep down inside no matter what age. Unfortunately she suffers from Stage 1 Parkinson’s Disease and once she embraces it she starts to feel so alive and not so alone; Jamie has other ideas once he meets someone whose wife has Stage 4. From here on in the film begins to be more serious. No matter how many
Josh Gad, who actually plays Josh Randall, Jamie’s younger brother, is hilarious. He may be a clever business guy but is an absolute fool in the real world. His “I’m going to wallow in self-pity” attitude makes him even funnier for his actions; you’ll understand more when you watch it.
Can’t quite decide if it’s more a girl film, the 2nd half sure is but 1st half; let’s just say it’s easy on the eye for both genders if you catch my drift. Can definitely see film critics’ slating it for its plot but it has got a different sort of twist, or should I say twitch.
Result: For all us girls who love a bit of romance no matter what the style or story I give it a 9/10. Cliché love story which would be the only let down but it’s cute and the humour makes up for it J

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Take A Swan Dive into the Blackness

Firstly I am not much of a fan of Ballet, it looks beautiful, cannot deny that but I have never had the intention to get all dressed up to go see one; it’s been that “I will one go someday, maybe not today though” sort of things in life. I know nothing about Ballet but the trailer immediately got me lured in to the huge crowd of people dying to see it.
It automatically entices you within the first 5 minutes, throwing its first enigma code straight in. Although you hardly hear the beautiful Natalie Portman speak in the first 15 minutes you get this sense of insecurity, compassion for dance and conquest to be the Swan Queen. The cinema verité at the beginning draws the audience in so well that you feel as if you are in it; you are Nina feeling every emotion she feels. In terms of cinematography Matthew Libatique is superb in this film to really capture the emotions of Nina and bring the audience in to the shock and disturbance.
The film concentrates on an extremely dedicated young Ballerina, Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) from New York with a very controlling mother, who dropped her dancing career for Nina, and quite a perverted dance teacher, Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel). She wishes to be in the limelight and be the new Swan Queen, after the company’s director, Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel), replaces his former star and “little princess”, Beth (Winona Ryder), as she has lost the magic needed to light up the audience and the stage. The one to stand out to Leroy is Nina, she is beautiful and perfect for the part of the White Swan, who is innocent and graceful, yet she lacks in her Black Swan, who is more devious and sensual. This is where the new dancer comes in, Lily (Mila Kunis), who is the personification the role of the Black Swan more to the extent Leroy is looking for. Nina tries to convince she can play both parts but he just isn’t so certain.
From here on in the tables start to turn and Nina becomes in touch with her Black Swan shall we say; I won’t ruin it for you as it really is a must-see film but let’s just say it takes you on a devastating, exciting, tense and emotionally draining journey. The thriller aspect of the movie is both deep and captivating. It came to a surprise for me as I felt it came in much later within the film. I feel that Lily really does speed up this thriller process for Nina though, introducing her to drinking, drugs and sex; not part of this innocent girls life. Although she is seen as the one stealing the role of Swan Queen from Nina’s perspective, her intentions to do so are never out in front of you, never really clear.
The score music for the film is magnificently placed; it works on each part as well as the next. Aronofsky directs this film to brilliance through such intense close-ups, again bringing you into Nina’s shoes, ballet shoes at that. As the credits rolled I was still in awe and stunned. I know everyone will be saying this but an Oscar is definitely in order for the terrific portrayal by Natalie Portman.
My only criticism would have to be some of the flaws in camera work, some cuts were too fast for the audience to take in and indulge, the final show of Swan Lake was performed yet we saw very little and mainly shots from waist up; but apart from this the story, the performances and acting was superb.
Result: Overall 9/10, I recommend you go see as soon as you possibly can.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

127 Hours Review

Danny Boyle has transformed such a gruesome true life experience for one man, into a ‘must-see’ buzz of adrenaline, gore and just overall genius. This film is based upon a gruelling real-life story of a 20 something guy, Aron Ralston, who went hiking and climbing in a spectacular stunning part of Utah, Blue John Canyon, and ended up trapped in a rock crevice for just over five days with his arm trapped between a wall and an immovable boulder.
The film takes us through this sympathetic and quite heart-wrenching experience, portrayed superbly down to every nerve, or should I say right down to the last excruciating and exhausting nerve, by James Franco. I must say he is magnificent in his close-up and extremely convincing performance which is both overwhelming yet exciting, playing an apprehensive Ralston as an adventurous junkie and sociable lonesome wonderer. After hours of frantic screaming, attempts to tug free with wasted shoving, filming of his time down there and trying to last on miniscule amounts of water and food, he is faced with one of the “tough decisions” that I am pretty sure none of us ever want to face, the choice to either amputate your own arm off with a blunt and dirty knife or lay there to starve to death. It is always tough to leave something of ours behind but an arm? that is by far the toughest.
The character of Ralston is firstly established as a ‘love life’ sort of guy, zooming along dusty orange trails, supported by a beautiful backdrop. Once Ralston has an encounter with two attractive female hikers, Kristi (Kate Mara) and Megan (Amber Tamblyn) who later on wouldn’t mind climbing into his pants at a party later that night that they promise Ralston, part of his reckless charm begins to develop when he takes the girls through a gap between 2 walls. He leaves the girls with “all you have to remember is that everything will be ok” before he plunges down into a pool of magnificent bright turquoise water surrounding by shelters of caves. Their level of adrenaline adds to the excitement and fear to then drop slithering down the rocks. Whilst on a high of adrenaline and joy from the female hikers, he struts off to continue his canyon journey.
This is the part where he becomes trapped, you watch him relive his past memories with lovers, friends and family and become to mentally challenge himself, to stay sane. Boyle brilliantly had a sense of Blair-witch style cinema verité filming himself and his experience down there, along with loving messages to his mother. Personally, at this point especially I felt such warmth and sympathy for this man, not just that he is stuck alone with a rock crushing his forearm, but the fact that he wouldn’t get to say goodbye, he didn’t tell anyone he was there, he is alone and thinking about his past, his regrets but also having a premonition of having a young boy if he gets out. You really feel for him, you feel with him, that his sense of masculinity and strength is being scratched away to leave us looking at this scared little boy inside. Reciting his life and the thought that everything led him to this moment; that was quite emotional, feeling that he thinks he deserves it for his selfish ways that he looks back on.
The scene that I don’t think anyone was expecting to be so horrific, I sure wasn’t, was the cutting of the arm. The sound of the bones crushing and breaking through the harsh movements of his body twisting round the boulder, the gushes of blood and the final cut of the nerve pinged by the knife. This brutal scene could be seen as not for the squeamish, yet it’s not a prolonged section, cut short as a matter of speaking.
127 Hours is 90 minutes of heartfelt emotion that Boyle and Franco deserve for every minute. Although it does sound very basic with one guy most of the time and he cuts his arm off, end of; it is all about this character, profiling him for his past mistakes, his future wishes and his unbelievable sense of courage that gave him the chance to re-examine his life. It is a remarkable story of perseverance, strength both mentally and physically and just pure bravery.
Overall result would have to be 9/10. An overwhelming cinema experience fantastically brought across by Boyle and Franco, in all aspects of film and emotion. Only downfall would be the split screens in the middle and beginning of the film, some look good but others looked too 'busy' and my eyes were everywhere.