Sunday, May 29, 2016

Nostalgia Critic--Is Eyes Wide Shut Just Artsy Porn?

Valid points by Nostalgia Critic: when does film cross over from being art to being porn?

Where is the porn-line? Can we cross it? If it's art is is still porn? Is there such a thing as "Art-porn"?

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Movie Review: Nice Guys

Advanced showing, 116 minutes

Director: Shane Black, Crime comedy drama

Accurate trailer? Yup.

Really enjoyable basic buddy-cop movie set in dirty sleazy 70s LA.  Borrows from 70s cops shows, and movies such as Boogie Nights, LA Confidential and Guy Richie's later works.

Entertaining script well delivered with great chemistry between the recently out of sorts Crowe and the in-form Gosling, backed up by a good ensemble cast.

The only disappointing performance came from Kim Basinger, whose performance I strongly suspect has been heavily edited out.

The action is snappy, the dialogue clever but not pretentious and harks back to Black's previous work on Lethal Weapon and even As Good as it Gets.

The lack of obvious special effects shows a great restraint on the part of the director--it would have been tempting to have huge explosions and Matrix style slow motion. The only time physics was defied was in the revelation that bullets do not pass through car trunks and wooden doors--forgivable.

I thoroughly enjoyed it in story and film making terms.

A classic? Not quite, the ending is oddly unfulfilling and the climactic action scene is a bit convoluted, so a 9/10 from me.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Not Looking Forward to Ghostbusters...with Chicks

I'm with the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man. I'm not looking forward to the Ghostbusters remake, with women, if the trailer is anything to go by.

Why would you need to do that? Wait for the subtle blackmail of critics--don't like it? SEXIST!! MYSOGYNIST!! YOU SEXIST PIG, HOW DARE YOU NOT LIKE THIS MOVIE WITH STRONG, INTELLIGENT AND FUNNY WOMEN??!!??

Let's make a pact now....let the Union of Cinema Critics and Know-It-All (UCCKIA) call this movie rubbish if it's rubbish, and good if it's good.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Darth by Darthwest, Hitchcock Meets Lucas

Someone has way too much time on their hands.

Movie Review: Where to Invade Next

2016, Documentary, 110 minutes

I was sitting in McDonald's wondering why, despite not sharing Michael Moore's politics and being very wary of his editing policies, I really enjoyed this movie.

...and then it struck me: As I ate my hash-brown, contemplating the downfall of western civilisation, I watched some rapper (dressed the same as the same rapper) telling me over and over to  "lean back...lean back...lean back..." (that's what counts as lyrics these days). This song's video looked and sounded exactly the same as the last one, and the same as the next one. Money for nothing and your chicks for free.

Yes actually, I AM a cultural snob, I'm quite happy looking down on this crap, because it is crap.

For once it's good to watch a movie, any movie, that is unabashedly polemic and isn't made by a committee of executive producers. New York, London, Paris and oddly San Francisco seem to be destroyed anew again and again and again, until....this year...a hero will rise. Sponsored content masquerading as a movie.

When once Edwyn Collins complained that there were too many protest singers, not enough protest songs, now there's neither.

The concept is a simple, but very interesting one--America has spent billions sending its troops around the world to invade the scum of the earth, and has managed very little tangible gains....why not "invade" countries with high standards of living, or socially progressive policies and cherry pick them, taking this plunder back to America.

As a piece of documentary film-making the film stands up well. The medium is one in which Moore can spread out and shoot. Equal parts comedy, mockumentary and political statement, and Moore delivers a fun easy to watch and ahem pretty convincing argument.

Yes, I'm sure that this is edited ....extensively to give the required tone, and I'd want to fact check the hell out of this but at least it's funny, and thought-provoking and doesn't expect you to go into a coma in your seat.


Thursday, May 19, 2016

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Movie Review: The Man Who Knew Infinity

2016, 108 minutes, written and directed by Matthew Brown

Accurate trailer? Not really.

I was actually left quite disappointed and flat by this film. It manages to turn fascinating (TRUE) subject matter--one of the greatest mathematicians of the 20th century is a lowly self educated clerk from Madras, sent to pre World War I Cambridge-- and make it as uninteresting and traiatitious as the Cambridge fellows it predictably demonises.

I am unsure in which sense I am most disappointed--as a film enthusiast or as a mathematician, since it seems that writer and director Matthew Brown does not understand mathematics, and instead sets about making a trope filled fish-out-of-water biopic in which even the camera angles are straight on and uninteresting. Imagine "Eddie the Eagle", but with real talent and none of the snow.

Shall we number the cliches? There is the lonely outsider, the doubting parent (complete with hidden letters; which never happened), the over-bearing but well meaning father-figure who oversteps his boundaries and learns a valuable lesson himself, the patronising imperialist racist, the stuffy aristocrat who refuses to see that enough data?

Worst of all is my personal pet hate--some professor looking at a page of algebra and instantaneously declaring it a work of unparalleled genius. My Coke Zero nearly headed towards the screen.

Ramanujan's single greatest love was mathematics, and the obscure but then-burgeoning field combinatorics, so why is there a sum total of 10 seconds devoted to explaining the mathematics? Why do we never see into the mind of the mathematician at the peak of his autodidactic powers? Why are audiences allowed to leave the theatre without knowing how important Ramanujan's work would be in the computer age, and to later geniuses such as Turing?

Good Will Hunting has already been made, why, oh why would you need to remake it when you have the real thing, and far better actors?

There are so many squandered chances in this film and I hold director Brown responsible. Film direction is a series of choices and Brown's choice to ignore the intellectual, play down the professor-student dynamic, gloss over so many things is baffling to me. The much lower budget 2014  independent Tamil-language "Ramanujan" does a much better job of opening the man's head, possibly because it is Indian, and is rooted in the Indian soul.

Worst yet is the inaccuracies of the film--all sorts of liberties are taken with the truth that simply don't need to be taken: 10 minutes into the film we are informed that an apple tree on Trinity College's Great Court is the very same that produced the apple which landed on Newton's head. There is no apple tree there, the apple did not fall on his head, and it didn't happen in Cambridge.

Why would you do that? Don't they know that we boffins are by tautology pedantic? I'll forgive you for fudging the maths, I'll forgive you for fudging the film--but to fudge both? Inconceivable!

This isn't a bad film, but it is certainly within a standard deviation of the mean average. 5/10

Friday, May 13, 2016

The Art of Silence, Martin Scorsese

Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull takedown by Mr Plinkett

All Movie Trailers Are The Same!!

Movie Review: God's Not Dead II or: Cha-ching Amen!

All film, by virtue of its very nature, requires that the audience suspend disbelief and buy-into the world being created.

In order to fully understand the intentions of this made-for-Sunday-TV movie we have to understand the fallacy of the straw-man. This fallacy states that, instead of allowing your opponent to put there case, you put forward an easily refuted argument on your opponent's behalf, and then dance around in triumph when, surprise surprise the straw-man falls.

Don't expect balance, nor deep debate, nor much in the way of evidence. All you're getting is sermonising.

This film is to drama what Michael Moore is to documentary.

The required suspension of disbelief for this movie is so great as to render it as farce in places. We are expected to believe that non-christians hate former and current members of the military, bring civil liberties cases for economic benefit and for future admission to prestigious universities.

Most of all we are expected to believe that christians are a subjugated, persecuted minority, beset on all sides by a hostile power that would poison and destroy Arkansas.

The centre plot of the film is that a high-school history student is asked whether Martin Luther King may have used the bible as part of his belief in non-violent protest, just as Gandhi had done. The question and answer was completely in order: King and Gandhi were religious figures, they were well read in biblical script, and it's a historical fact that King in particular would quote directly from the Bible.

It speaks to the paranoia and the non-understanding of the film makers to believe that any reasonable person could take offence. I'm an atheist myself, and I had no problem with the question and answer.

Which is a pity because the separation of church and state is a real issue, and it's an issue which has grey areas, and a court case-set film to air those issues could be a good film and high art...but 'To Kill a Mockingbird' this ain't.

Where there could be debate--we got proselytising. With the storyline set in stone and the final conclusion of a last minute miracle all the more inevitable, the film lumbers between parallel plots (a Chinese missionary convert, a family recently bereaved and a potentially interesting note on whether the sermons for preachers may be subpoenaed; hint: no, they can't) until the most predictable conclusion since the Egyptian Queen found Moses in the bushes.

As a film this limps along. The technicals are all professional, with a bare minimum of work. The whole movie is filmed in the same light-level and type usually reserved for TV shows. Apparently no shadows in Arkansas?

The stock background movie is at once trite and grating--again taking its lead from Sunday TV--there is slow music for when you are supposed to be happy, low music for when a baddy is on screen and flutes for when a character makes a personal break-through with their lord and saviour...

The acting ranges from Melissa Joan-Hart's single facial expression to Ray Wise's comically dreadful over the top performance as an atheist, god-hatin' christian hatin' prayer hatin' evangelist civil rights lawyer.

Most of all, this 2 hour long film fails, not because of its message and hammy production--it fails because it's just a boring, ironically soul-less piece of film making. In all, not a bomb, definitely manipulative and definitely worth a wide berth.

Final score: 2/10

Monday, May 9, 2016

The Room (2003) links page, featuring "OSW Boys Job The Room"

  • Amazingly this film cost $6million to make.
  • Tommy Wiseau wrote, directed, produced, funded, promoted and starred
  • Wise filmed the entire film with 38mm AND HD video cameras side-by-side, each with different crews. 
  • Even then, Wiseau fired both crews mid-way through
  • 2 characters quit midway through the film
  • Actress Juliette Danielle refused to do a second sex scene with Wiseau, and this scene had to be spliced together using out-takes from the first sex scene. 
  • None of the actors saw the full script, instead receiving their lines at the start of the day, leading many to believe that Wiseau wrote them the night before.
  • Wise has since tried to claim the film was in fact a dark comedy, and he was in on the joke--no-one is buying it. 

...and here's a run-down on Tommy Wiseau from the Huffington Post.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Movie Review: Angry Birds, the Movie

Advanced showing, in theatres 12 May, in US theatres 20 May

95 minutes.

Accurate trailer? yeah, pretty much.

Most video games that have been made into movies have been complete cinematic disasters (see: Mortal Kombat, Super Mario Brothers and Star Wars:The Phantom Menace) so I was really expecting this, a movie based on a game app for my phone, to suck big time.

I was pleasantly surprised--it has chosen to make a coherent cartoon land based on the iconography of the game, rather than do a "Pixels". The result is a standard 3-act movie of set-up, challenge and resolution; there is never a time when they need to pander.

They even have Black Sabbath in their soundtrack. How can you hate a montage with Paranoid?

I loved and hated this movie--the 5 year old in me loved it, the adult me was sitting there wondering what I was doing with my life. Wouldn't Ant-man die when he shrank? What am I going to do with the bodies now?

The result is that my reaction is a warm, empty and ambivalent void. Is this all there is? Where's my wife and family? What if I die here?

As a cartoon it works, there's plenty of Hannah-Barbera-esque frantic action and chuckles, and for the adults there's enough in-jokes that Mum will enjoy. Just not enough to fill out 95 minutes.

With that said, at the end of the day, this is a novelty act.

So, I'm going to split the difference, and give it a pass score. Its saving grace was that it was 95 minutes long with a minimum of exposition and no moralising. It felt like it was Saturday morning all over again.

Score: 6/10

Top Ten Edits of All Time?

I think they mean best cuts rather than editing...I tend to think the apartment scene from City of God is better than the opening sequence...

Thursday, May 5, 2016

So Now you Know...Aspect Ratio

I actually never noticed the aspect changes in Grand Budapest Hotel. They are in a way an appropriation of old time movies.

You might not notice it...but your brain does.

Movie Review: Captain America, Civil War...Avengers...Iron Man...The Guy with the Arrows..etc etc etc etc

Marvel Studios 2016

Directors: Joe and Anthony Russo

Rotten Tomatoes score as at print: 92%

Accurate trailer? Yup, pretty much.

The biggest point of this review requires a spoiler--so spoiler alert from the get-go.

This movie has pretty much the same storyline of Superman vs Batman (or is it Batman vs Superman, who cares?). But whereas the DC Comic civil war fails, this one succeeded.

Whereas the violence of Superman and Batman was nasty and "dark" and artsy, this was frantic, fun and actually took the storyline along with it. Whereas the Capped Crusader's movie was incredibly serious, self absorbed and simultaneously petulant, brooding and confused, this was paced, frantic and enjoyable. Long, but enjoyable. Not perfect, but enjoyable.

Oh Superman! Why hath thou forsaken me?!?

Aside from the fact that we are now at peak-superhero, my biggest gripe with this genre is also present in this movie: this annoying trope of have 2 characters exchange clichéd explanatory dialogue about what their motivation is.

At some stage in all these movies there will be some weepy schmaltzy sad story about how one of the character's parents told him that he was destined to do great things, before tragically dying, and how there "hasn't been a day go by..."

These scenes are always filmed in that painful shot/reverse-shot style, with soft piano music gently telling us that this back-story is supposed to be sad, and that we are supposed to empathise with the character.

It's cheap, it's exploitative and that's why I hate it. Well, it's one of the reasons I hate it--the other is that it's just so boring. Please stop it Hollywood.

Anyway, the real kick in this is watching the Avengers split and then are forced to fight. The action is manic, and frantic and the filming reflects this; the 180 degree rule is deliberately broken, the sense of position disrupted, angles mixed, edits cut sharply and the perspective in the epic scenes is kept small, inviting intrusion from outside interference.

Unlike the DC fare also, there is a clear and objective motivation behind both the characters and the factions. 6 weeks after seeing Superman, I'm still not sure why Lex Luther did what he did, or why Superman was such a dick about it.

There's snappy dialogue and humour (does anyone remember laughter?) in this that mirrors the comics.

There is one thing which does confuse me about this film, and it's not even with the film's in the American censor's rating. It gets a PG-13 because it contains "action and mayhem". Oh no! action AND mayhem?! We can't let anyone under 13 see actually, real mayhem, even with a balanced diet of action.

So overall worth seeing? Yup.

One final thing--my butt hurts. I have butt-hurt. This movie is a little shy of 2 and a half hours long. It is worth it to go to a deluxe cinema with comfortable seats.

Also, make sure that your 3D glasses are clean. Mine were slightly foggy around the edges, you know, and they annoyed me a little. If you have kids with you go see it in 2-D--there is a lot of action (and mayhem) and the combination of action, mayhem and 3D I could see creating upset little kids out there.

Rating: solid 8/10