Portrait

Queries

A film diary or something

Recently Watched:

Not Fade Away
Sightseers
The Avengers
Airplane!
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Grease
Good Vibrations
Killing Them Softly
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows p. 1
Toy Story 3
Finding Nemo
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
The Wolverine
Short Term 12
Fast and the Furious 6
The Last Stand
Dale and Tucker vs. Evil
Kill Your Darlings
The Jungle Book
Captain Phillips
Wadjda
The Act of Killing
Coriolanus
The Fly
Hell Comes To Frogtown
The Wicker Man (1973)
The ABCs of Death
The Raid
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
The Selfish Giant
Catch Me If You Can
The Emperor's New Groove
Seven Psychopaths
The Avengers
The Silence of the Lambs
Philomena
Thor: The Dark World
ExistenZ
I Love You, Man
The Naked Gun
Rushmore
Blue Jasmine
Dazed and Confused
No Retreat No Surrender
The Kings of Summer
The Room
From Up On Poppy Hill
This Is The End
Commando
Total Recall
Jackie Brown
Star Trek Into Darkness
Knocked Up
The Re-Animator
Eastern Promises
The King of Comedy
Prozac Nation
Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa
Django Unchained
Hot Fuzz
Side By Side
The Bourne Supremacy
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
My Neighbour Totoro
Burton & Taylor
30 Minutes or Less
The Conjuring
Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade
Pacific Rim
Man On Fire
Woody Allen: A Documentary
The Talented Mr. Ripley
The World's End
A Field In England
Fair Game
Almost Famous
Groundhog Day
Extract
The Road
Magic Mike
Scanners

330. Limitless

Limitless has been something people have urged me to watch countless times, and I got the impression that it was a movie that surprised people by being better than decent and taking what could have been a standard star-driven thriller in slightly more interesting directions. My intuition seems to be close to the truth in this case, and it serves as another reminder for me that a movie is really affected by what you bring to it. If I had gone to see this when it was in the cinema I would have been surprised like many other people I know and would have talked much more favourably about it. My instinct to be critical when people over-emphasise the quality of something is sort of countered by being sick of useless predictable movies and wanting something more interesting, so I think I ended up lacking bias either way. It’s okay, nothing special. It gives the illusion of being special because it has very dull company. The story is Phillip K Dick-lite, and any story with a little creativity to it goes a long way when making a movie like this.

C

286. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

The shame about this is that if one element were removed from it, it might be a decent film. Even a good one. The unfortunate thing is that this one element is the protagonist, who is on screen for about 95% of the runtime. The kid in this movie must be the most head-bangingly awful obnoxious little shit I have ever come across in film. Some of the scenes with him are so extremely loud and incredibly close to such a poorly written, directed and acted character I felt like I was going to have a panic attack. It’s a shame too, as whenever the film takes the time to show Sandra Bullock, even for just a few minutes, I began to grow emotionally invested in the story. However she gets side-lined for something that seems to visibly embarrass Max von Sydow. Every time we leave her to go back to the Thomas Horn I wanted to shout at the screen ‘No! Go back! We’ve had enough of this, there’s something more interesting happening over there!!’ Sadly these calls were never heard. It’s baffling that this was directed by the man who made The Reader and The Hours.

C-

283. The Awakening

After two horror-related movies that didn’t even make it to C-, this is a real pleasure. I’m fond of both Rebecca Hall and Dominic West, who are good as I anticipated, but overall it’s just nice to see a horror that is decent. It’s not all about the jump-scares, though there are some, the important thing is that some of the scares are scary. There’s one key moment which creeped me out to the point that I felt a shiver run from my toes along my spine. The cinematography is pleasantly melancholic, and the construction of the movie on an emotional level is very good. The ending became a little bit too much to take in, it all made sense but required some disbelief be suspended.

C+

276. Drive (2nd Viewing)

Following the recent trend, Drive is a movie I was disappointed with the second time I saw it. I first saw it in the cinema and despite being forewarned it was very shocking in its violence, I was shaken by the sudden outbursts of rage from Gosling and amazed by just how darn cool the whole thing was. It’s still cool, and it’s still a well-made film, but my opinion that it is overrated by its fans feels reinforced now - it is what it is, and not much more. There are some things to unpack in terms of how the driver lives as if re-enacting a John Wayne film, how the tale of the scorpion and the frog is relevant, and Nicolas Winding Refn’s approach to violence in a movie as ‘like good sex’; but once you see that there’s not much else to talk about. It achieves what it intends to do, but I insist if you watch it then watch it somewhere with fantastic sound, because the sound effects are pretty much the best bit. My lack of a decent speaker system this time round detracted from the movie somewhat.

B+

255. The Adventures Of Tintin

Man I wish I was a kid when I saw this. It’s fun for adults, both me and my parents (I was visiting home at the time) had a good time with it, but there’s a childish wonder that helps process this sort of film - something my teenage years all but killed off. That’s a really depressing start to a review but it’s the best explanation to my slight ambivalence to this movie that I can muster. It’s incredibly imaginative and the best animation I have seen in a very long time. It’s really funny too, the plot is fairly interesting and the characters are interesting enough to spend the time with. My main problem with it is that it feels too long. It’s less than two hours but it feels like a lot longer than that, it definitely needed to be edited down.

C+

250. Crazy Stupid Love (2nd Viewing)

I watched this the same night as Easy A with my flatmates, and if I’m honest me and a friend kind of insisted on this one. I was pleasantly surprised by how good this movie was the first time round, but like with Easy A I was a little let down seeing it again. I guess it’s just admirable that the rom-com can be slightly thoughtful, have a nice simple message, and keep itself decent as far as gender politics go. It takes its time, which is a strange thing seeing as most mainstream comedies are more bawdy than anything else. I like how everyone’s actions have consequences, and no one’s character is free from evaluation - best evidenced in Ryan Gosling’s character; he’s self-involved womaniser who turns it all around when he finds something deeper, but Steve Carell knocks him down a notch which is fantastic. Not enough hollywood movies recognise the flaws of their characters properly. But in the end without the surprise of a refreshing movie of this kind, it’s only pretty good.

B-

228. J. Edgar

After hearing mixed reviews, plus the fact that such an award-contender didn’t get nominated at the Oscars, I had low expectations. I was pleasantly surprised, but it still has its problems. The biggest problem the movie has is Clint Eastwood, which is a surprise. The story is there (it turns out Edgar Hoover was closer to Norman Bates than most thought), the performances are there for the most part, but they are held back by the direction. DiCaprio isn’t up to his usual standard, but doesn’t half try. The make-up I found awful to begin with, but by the end of the film I had got used to it and it worked. The star of the movie for me is Armie Hammer. He absolutely killed in this and was its saving grace in a lot of ways. The movie doesn’t live up to him.

C

226. X-Men: First Class (2nd Viewing)

When I first saw First Class I was uncertain of certain aspects of it but for the most part enjoyed the experience. This time, however effective particular scenes are, I found it difficult to care at all. The only truly compelling thing in the movie is Fassbender as Erik Lensherr and his relationship with Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), and there isn’t nearly enough focus on this for it to be fully explored. This is the best adaptation of their relationship I’ve seen on the big screen, but one of the things that was great about it in the comic book and cartoon was that they’re old friends, their relationship is developed so quickly that it didn’t feel as important in the end as it should have. As well as this, the final action scenes I didn’t find exciting at all this time, which is strange as when I first saw it I was pretty much on the edge of my seat. There’s still the possibility of a great X-Men film (X2 remains the best) but this lacks a certain spark that I can’t really explain.

C

214. Jodaeiye Nader az Simin (A Separation)

I was looking up Roger Ebert’s review of this movie to get help explaining my opinion of it (as I usually do) and found that his response is exactly the same as mine, to the point that putting it in my own words wouldn’t even change it one bit. So here it is (edited):

A Separation is a film in which every important character tries to live a good life within the boundaries of the same religion. That this leads them into disharmony and brings them up before a judge is because no list of rules can account for human feelings. The film involves its audience in an unusually direct way, because although we can see the logic of everyone’s position, our emotions often disagree.

The movie takes place in present-day Iran, a modern nation that attempts to live under Islamic law. The film’s story has no quarrel with Islam, but it demonstrates that the inflexible application of the letter of the law may frustrate the spirit of the law. This is true in all nations under all religions and all laws. Laws are an attempt to regulate hypothetical situations before they may arise. If laws were replaced by principles, they might be a better fit with human nature.

That’s what you must know about the plot. The case ends up in the office of an official interrogating judge (Babak Karimi), whose task is to hear evidence and evaluate it. He is a fair man, open-minded, and all the witnesses testify as truthfully as they can. But none of them have possession of all the facts, and the findings must be in accordance with religious law. Nader and Simin are moderate Muslims. Razieh is so religious that she questions whether she can change the underpants of a man, even though he is so old and sick. What drives her is the family’s desperate poverty.

The writer-director, Asghar Farhadi, tells his story with a fair and even hand. His only agenda seems to be to express empathy. Although the judge may be tending against our own sympathies, we understand why he does so and may be correct to do so. That a director can make such a sympathetic film in such a troubled time is a tribute to his strength of character.

and my god isn’t that little girl cute

B+

213. Sleeping Beauty (2011)

I’m still trying to figure out whether Sleeping Beauty is feminist or sexist. It’s subject matter was always going to attract this sort of discussion, but I think I’m going to have to track down this analysis I heard about to understand exactly what my opinion of it is in that respect. It’s showing a woman’s choice to make the decisions she makes and if not that perhaps shows how little options she has in society as a woman; but on the other hand there’s an element of fetishisation to circumstances Browning’s character finds herself in. What counteracts this is the intentionally creepy atmosphere throughout, it’s so clinical in its sexuality it holds you at arm’s length and brings you in unexpectedly (for those that have seen it - smashed glass) - which is an extremely unnerving experience. It’s very well shot and Emily Browning is very good at certain points. I hate to focus on her appearance but she is just amazing looking in every frame of the movie, as far as petite women go she is just perfect looking.

C+