Saturday, July 15, 2006

Brief Thoughts on three films I saw at the Cinema this week…

Because if I don’t, people might forget that this is actually a film site.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
It opened with a sequence of ran, fogginess and Keira Knightley looking bland. Quite an apt introduction to the entire film, I think, which has described by the friend I saw it with as “like The Matrix Reloaded, but with Pirates.” Yeah, so, it wasn’t overly impressive, although, to be fair to it, like the first, it was thrilling and entertaining at moments. Unlike the first, however, there were absolutely no laughs, and I seriously thought we were entering Bridget Jones II like territory when Depp said the line, “Why is the rum always gone,” because everyone in the audience looked at each other shiftily and groaned. Whilst we’re comparing it to other films, it was also a little like King Kong in how it tried to use any opportunity to show off what the creators could do with a computer, and as a result, the film was more a VFX spectacle than a proper movie. The script (which was co-penned by Collateral writer Stuart Beattie) was all over the place, and there was absolutely zero sense of pacing, character development or plot. Depp was good in his role, but we’d all been there, done that, with the first movie. Knightley and Bloom were terribly bland. The score was decent, but used many of the great tunes from the first, so there was not even an originality. And the final scene? I predicted it as soon as I heard the third was a follow on from second. Sloppy, sloppy filmmaking, and a desperate attempt to get bums on seats.

Banlieue 13
Now here was a film I liked! The plot was ludicrous, but unlike Pirates of the Caribbean, I was hooked for every minute of this crazy adrenaline-rushed ride. Violent and visceral, the film begins with a group of drug lord people coming to retrieve some stolen cocaine, only to find it has been flushed down the bath. Fighting, swearing and a bleak cliffhanger ensues. Then we’re sixth months into the future, where a cop has an assignment of getting into District 13 (the slums), and retrieving a stolen bomb. But he needs the help of someone. Anyway, not much point going into details of the plot (primarily because there isn’t one), this is a fun, brainless action movie with stunning martial arts sequences like they don’t make anymore. The ending surprised me (because it was happy, and the general film was rather bleak). Overall, a thumbs up from me. B+.

Thank You for Smoking
I’ve seen this one before. It’s a viciously amusing, amoral take on the world of spin, featuring Aaron Eckhart as the slimy spokesperson for cigarettes. Basically… that’s it, but there are an array of amusing supporting players, from Maria Bello’s “Mother Burgundy” (M.O.D. squad member: alcohol), Katie Holmes’ sly reporter and Rob Lowe’s Hollywood exec. This film takes us into the minds of those who work in spin, and we see what they do, how they do it and why they do it. Things pan out a little too conveniently to be completely believed (come on, this is a film), but overall, this is funny stuff. B.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

My 25 Favourite Songs of All Time.

I know I'm going to change some of this later, but for now...

01. Son of a Preacher Man (Dusty Springfield)

02. Hey Jude (The Beatles)
03. Hallelujah (Rufus Wainwright)
04. All These Things that I’ve Done (The Killers)
05. Under Pressure (Queen)
06. November Has Come (Gorillaz)
07. Lullaby (The Dixie Chicks)
08. Head Over Heels (Tears for Fears)
09. Talk Show Host (Radiohead)
10. Jackson (Johnny Cash & June Carter Cash)
11. Teardrop (Massive Attack)
12. Hands of Time (Groove Armada)
13. Black Horse and the Cherry Tree (KT Tunstell)
14. Too Young (Phoenix)
15. Romeo and Juliet (Dire Straits)
16. Sinner Man (Nina Simone)
17. I Want Your Love (Edwina Hayes)
18. Don’t Stop Me Now (Queen)
19. Momentum (Aimee Mann)
20. Jukebox Blues (Reese Witherspoon as June Carter Cash)
21. About Her (Malcolm McLaren)
22. Can We Still Be Friends (Todd Rungren)
23. A Love that Will Never Grow Old (Emmylou Harris)
24. Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk (Rufus Wainwright)
25. Let's Stay Together (Al Green)

Thoughts? Comments?

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Half Year Oscars.

OK, I've actually bothered to do mine, so here they are:

Gold: L'Enfant
Silver: The Cave of the Yellow Dog
Bronze: Mission Impossible III
Runners up: Thank You For Smoking, The Wind that Shakes the Barley

Cannes winners for 2005 and 2006 are both here.

Gold: The Dardenne bros. - L'Enfant
Silver: Michael Winterbottom - The Road to Guantanamo
Bronze: J. J. Abrams – Mission Impossible III
Runners up: Paul Greengrass (United 93), Ken Loach (The Wind that Shakes the Barley)

Gold: Cillian Murphy - The Wind that Shakes the Barley
Silver: Padraic Delaney - The Wind that Shakes the Barley
Bronze: Nicolas Hoult - Wah-Wah
Runners up: Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Brick), Aaron Eckhart (Thank you for Smoking)
5 very good performances, actually, especially the Wind that Shakes the Barley boys, who gave gut-wrenching, unforgettable performances.

Gold: Bryce Dallas Howard - Manderlay
Silver: Nansal Batchuluun – The Cave of the Yellow Dog
Bronze: Jennifer Aniston - Friends with Money
Runners up: Audrey Tautou (The Da Vinci Code)

All very "meh" performances here, Dallas Howard did a good job taking on Kidman's role, and Nansal Batchuluun was extremely adorable but didn't gave to do much.

Supporting Actor
Gold: Philip Seymour Hoffman - Mission Impossible III
Silver: Harry Dean Stanton - Alien Autopsy
Bronze: Willian H. Macy – Thank you for Smoking
Runners up: Billy Crudup (Mission Impossible III), Clive Owen (Inside Man)

All very amusing performances, but none really Oscar calibre. Hoffman was great as usual though.

Supporting Actress
Gold: Déborah François - L'Enfant
Silver: Maria Bello - Thank you for Smoking
Bronze: Catherine Keener – Friends with Money
Runners up: Frances McDormand (Friends with Money), Orla Fitzgerald (The Wind that Shakes the Barley)
Out of the Friends with Money chicks I could have nominated any; they were all fine. Déborah François is the only Oscar calibre one.

Writing, Original Screenplay
Gold: L'Enfant - The Dardenne bros.
Silver: Wah Wah – Richard E. Grant
Bronze: Slither – James Gunn

Writing, Adapted Screenplay
Gold: Thank You For Smoking – Jason Reitman
Silver: The Lake House – David Auburn

Where are yours?