jencat: (crow)
2014-09-15 07:48 pm
Entry tags:

The Guest, and harking back to the classics

To be fair, there's not a lot of stuff sitting at 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, and even fewer of those are deliriously trashy horror thrillers. Even the supremely awesome You're Next is way down at 74%, so.... it's not like I didn't go into The Guest with expectations. That it then got described as 'imagine the Terminator moved in with Sarah Connor, rather than trying to kill her...'

Oh hell, yes please.

And then have the lead be played by a former Downton dude, and it just seems like someone is making very odd choices. Awesome choices, as it turns out, but.. odd.
Read more... )
jencat: (crow)
2013-06-24 05:04 pm
Entry tags:

World War Z

I.. really can't bring myself to copy Trailer Guy and pronounce it 'World War Zee'. Just can't, dammit.

Having said that, there's a lot to recommend spending a couple of hours watching Brad Pitt jet around the world with great difficulty trying to solve the Zombie Apocalypse. This isn't Brad in full-on charm mode, or even particularly acting. If anything, having such a big star seems a little odd for such an everyman role (even if said Everyman is a super competent former UN Special Investigator dude). But hell, I was won over by this film the second Mireille Enos announced "I picked up flares" and pointed out a handy helicopter landing spot.  Oh my god, a normal couple actually working together, being sensible in the face of the Zombie Apocalypse and taking turns to be quietly awesome with hardly any dumb rescue scenes. You never see that in these films. Given that it starts with one of those tooth-achingly annoying 'perfect family' scenes right at the start, it could have gone very, very wrong.  Brad does of course get marked down for not looking where he's going whilst driving a car very fast through a Zombie Panic but, y'know, it all evens out.In fact, once they're done keeping their own kids safe, Brad & Mireille then go start adopting other war orphans(and that article about how WWZ is a very obvious metaphor for Brad Pitt's real life - where the zombies are actually paparazzi and the triumph of the third act is that everyone ignores him - is too on the nail to ignore really).

This film kinda pushes my buttons because most of the characters are sensible, pretty competent and - even better - don't need to be rescued. Or if they are being rescued, it's probably by someone whose life they already saved about ten seconds ago.  Or they just quietly sacrifice themselves for the greater good, but it's not exactly played for OTT sentimentality, more to hone the sense that the Zombie Horde has overwhelmed them like pretty much everythig else in its path. It has quirk - bicycles! inopportune phones ringing! random Welshness! - and the visuals are pretty fabulous. It also manages to avoid the urge to pile on the sentimentality at every turn, but - and this is unheard of for a zombie film - also doesn't leave you inherently depressed about the world ending.  28 Days Later kind of pulls it off, but soo much trauma beforehand! Even Shaun of the Dead is a bit too much of a downer for me (although weirdly, I can cope with it in books: The Reapers Are The Angels and White Horse are two of my favourite post-apocalyptic and they're both zombie-fied).I can just about cope with the Dawn of the Dead remake but I have to intensely ignore the very end where practically everyone croaks. I keep trying with The Walking Dead, and at some point I will finish season two, but I seriously don't have that much time in my life to devote to something that depressing.
jencat: (crow)
2013-04-04 11:48 am

Once (is probably enough)

I admit my first reaction to finding out that Once, my all time favourite indie mumblecore almost-romance with awesome music, was being adapted into a stage musical was mostly bewilderment.  This is not a film you watch roaming around random Dublin locations being filmed with shaky-cam and think damn this needs to be a show. But I'll also admit I was intrigued by the fact the original people involved (and when I say involved, half the reason the film is so fascinating is what was happening in real life around it) all turned up at the premiere and were saying they were happy with it. I mean, they should know, right? And then it transfered to Broadway and won all the Tonys, and then it came over here in the last couple of weeks, and there are posters everywhere and I thought, what the hell, it's still at preview prices. Because, not cheap at full price and I've learned to avoid shows I'm not sure I'll love because so much money.

Some background? One of the first things I did when I visited New York in 2007 was find somewhere showing Once, because I'd been waiting to see the bloody thing for months already and it didn't get a UK release for ages after that, either. And it was brilliant. And then you add in the way the casting was kind of fated (what would it have been like starring Cillian Murphy? I can't even think. Probably a bit like watching Jonathon Rhys Meyers in August Rush?) because how much of what you're watching is Glen Hansard, and how much is what was written? Because the songs are his and Marketa Irglova's anyway, and they are the film. And the film pushed them together in real life, and then they broke up and it's all such an odd story.
It was highly amusing watching them at the Oscars that year, because it looks a lot like they're not even speaking to each other right up to the point where they have to go up on stage and actually accept the award.

And I knew I shouldn't have rewatched the film two days before going, because comparisons are probably not going to help, but... I'm not sure I would have loved the film quite so much had it done the story the same way the show does. And that bugged me beyond reason. During one scene I was literally slunk down in my seat with embarrassment at the dialogue (well, a couple of scenes, actually).  Not that the film doesn't have slightly cringy bits, but they're like that because they're awkward - not because someone keeps decided to make loud declarations vocalising the subtext all the time. I can't help thinking it's a worrying sign that we both walked out and said we wanted to watch the film again to, er, take the taste away a bit.

Is that just what you have to do to make something into a musical? I mean, the first time I saw Wicked was a teeny bit similar - lots of muttering about Disneyfication (especially when 'As Long As You're Mine' began.). And then they changed the end!! But, importantly, Wicked came from a book - a fairly nasty, pitch black meditation on fascism and propaganda in the context of Oz. They made it into a brightly coloured, slightly sarky and tween-friendly comedy about an odd-couple friendship with a bit of the propaganda stuff chucked in for colour. And then Stephen Schwartz wrote some awesome songs. 'Defying Gravity' always gave me goosebumps, even when I didn't know the song; and I went away and played the soundtrack on repeat (because there's a reason it's one of the biggest shows around. Those songs burrow into your brain and never leave.) and I saw it again and loved it. And I've watched it once a year ever since, including once on Broadway and once at the original theatre in San Francisco. And it's a show that changes drastically depending on the cast (what I wouldn't give to see Julia Murney again. And if anyone plays Fiyero remotely camp *glares at Adam Garcia*, it doesn't work at all.).  My point is that Wicked's trump card as a musical are the performances and the songs, and the lightness.  Once... doesn't have any of those advantages over the source material, so I'm left wondering what the point is?

Don't get me wrong - the music is still awesome; of course it is. And everyone sings and plays beautifully, and it looks lovely. But the music is obviously inherited as is from the film, for the most part, and is already awesome. The staging, really, is the original concept here, and it's lots of fun and a nice interpretation of the cobbled-together comraderie in the film (the evening jamming session around the table, definitely).  There's a lot of energy on stage; a nice tension from watching the band glide on and off from the sidelines and try to keep up with the prop/scene switches - all that is definitely in the spirit of the original story.  That, and seeing the music performed live, are the only reasons you'd really go see the show rather than just watch the film, surely? Because what they do to the characters (and by extension the story) is actually painful. I get why there's padding - it's a short film, and musicals have to at least pretend to provide more value for the vast amount of money the tickets cost. But the fact it feels like padding is what bugs me.

It's not so much that Girl is now the original manic pixie dreamgirl (although that is by definition irritating) but that she's now the catalyst for the entire plot. Loudly, and pushily. With an entire back-up chorus of loud, irritating Czech flatmates (and the one-liner about Fair City was amusing in the film; it's bloody done to death now).  Part of the joy of the film is watching two people push each other, reluctantly, out of their comfort zones without even wanting, or meaning, to. Now we have a near-suicidal, annoyingly passive Guy being pushed around mercilessly as a personal mission by Girl. And he never does a bloody thing for himself. Not so interesting, anymore. The plot isn't changed so much as the characters' motivations - once you make Guy ready to walk away from his guitar(!), the entire thing is undermined, and she barely changes at all (performing 'The Hill' umprompted is the worst part. It's supposed to be a moment of reluctant revelation because Guy asks her for a song, and she hesitantly chooses one about how she's not well matched with her husband. Done without prompting, it just becomes one more song).

I don't care that they changed things. I care that they changed things that made the film meaningful. Adding in speeches about following your dreams and how much someone means to you doesn't make the show any more meaningful, it just strips it of the delicacy that made it unusual. And while the 'I love you' subtitle is cute, I had no clue until I read it on Wiki this week that she even says that in the film, and it never really mattered. The more literal translation of 'It's you I love' is much better phrasing too in in the context of the conversation, but hey. I hesitate to put it quite like this, but it feels... Americanised? Overly sentimental, certainly. And you have to acknowledge that there's a huge jump from moving from Dublin to London, and Dublin to New York, and it makes the end feel much more final. It does kind of leave you with the feeling that, could they have gotten away with it, they would have had a go at rewriting the ending. Really, after all those bellowed declarations of affection, I wouldn't have been surprised one little bit.
jencat: (crow)
2013-03-13 11:39 am
Entry tags:

Cloud Atlas, if the spirit moves you

See, it's barely even worth writing about Cloud Atlas, if only because the only thing you can say relates to how it made you feel. And it either makes you feel, or it makes you feel like you can't believe you just wasted the last three hours sitting though such a monumental dose of batshit crazy. I will say I've happily sat through it twice and wasn't bored for a minute. In a three+ hour film, that's kind of incredible. It's also a film that I can't actually recommend to a single person I know in good conscience, because seriously, who else has my kind of tolerance for massive amounts of doomed romance (and this adaptation is crazy about the romances), shedloads of gore and Matrix-level action SF. The Cavendish and Luisa Rey parts are pretty easy to sell, but the rest of it... True-true, as the Hawaii sequence would have it. I kind of want to see it again.

Read more... )
jencat: (brain)
2013-01-16 01:02 am

Dredd. Just because.

Obviously I do watch other films. Like, somewhere around 60 films at the cinema last year (that's not even counting multiple trips to see Avengers. And Dredd. And TDKR) because I splurged on LFF quite a lot. So the fact that I'm still going on about Dredd after nearly six months is, um, significant?

See, it even puzzles me... I really shouldn't be the target audience for this film. And yet I apparently am, given that I adore nasty, gory ultraviolent films where the main characters are relatively bad people trying to survive ('bad' is necessarily relative, but all the protagonists have at least attempted to kill several people) but what they're trying to survive is even worse; and there's a central couple who are hyper-competent people but it's really not about them getting together at the end. And they tend to have lots of guns. Going by this standard, I am expecting great things of Pacific Rim, which also features giant freaking robots. It took me a while to work out that Dredd actually falls into the same mini-niche as Pitch Black(even if Fry doesn't quite make it; she also doesn't quite manage to kill the rest of the cast in the crash either though),and one of my all-time favourites, Predators.

Yeah, I really shouldn't be the target audience for that one either, but now I've actually lost count of the number of times I've happily watched Adrian Brody and Alice Braga running around a jungle expertly shooting nasty aliens. Predator is massively fucked up and I kind of adore it (you do of course have to ignore the massively reductive racial stereotyping and general ickiness of most the characters, but it features some wonderfully odd conversations along with being pacey and snappy, deliciously horrific and OMG Lawrence Fishburn's fantastically nutty cameo is worth watching for alone).  Royce wouldn't be interesting without Isabel acting as a counterbalance, and Isabel's just too freaking non-psychopathic to survive there quite so long without him to watch her back. So there.

Pitch Black even has three interesting female characters heading it up. Ok, two of them get killed off to prove various points, and the third one is a kid who spends most of the film pretending to be a boy and idolising a psychopathic serial-killer, but hey - one of them is also Aussie Aeryn Sun! Obviously Vin Diesel completely steals practically every scene he pops up in, because he's a sneaky bastard like that, but he wouldn't have nearly as much traction if he wasn't up against Radha Mitchell's conflicted pilot. I mean, she starts the film by trying to kill the entire rest of the cast in a vain attempt to survive the crash she's piloting - and nearly succeeds. And then has to spend the rest of the film acting like she hasn't tried to sacrifice everyone to save herself, right before the delightful hammerhead dinosaur things decide to finish the job for her, and then she has to freaking save them all over again.

The notions of 'killer' and 'coward' are bandied around an awful lot between Fry and Johns and Riddick, before the whole junkie thing comes out - and yes, Fry is a coward who then proceeds to make amends for the entire rest of the film and save everybody else several times over. I mean, she could have been allowed to survive it, but it wouldn't have been nearly as powerful (that ending was in my head for weeks afterwards).  Johns is just, well, a chicken-shit junkie red-herring designed to distract us from Riddick's innate awesomeness by being all blond and heroic-looking and initially nice to Fry. And Riddick... well. He spends the first half of the film apparently finding cool places to pose freakily in the background, and then the rest of the time being an unbearably cool smart-arse. His redemption is pretty heavily won at the cost of Fry (WE DO NOT SPEAK OF THE SEQUEL) but it's Fry's choice, this time, to not make somebody else a sacrifice to keep herself safe (even if they are Riddick). She doesn't necessarily throw herself in the path of the monster as such, but she does go out knowing it's a risk - and it's mostly because Riddick tried to make her choose to leave the others behind already, and she nearly caved (and then they mud-wrestled).

Much, much rambling on Dredd )
jencat: (dessert spoons)
2012-10-29 05:10 pm

London Film Festival 2012: Overdoing it a tad.

I've done the LFF for quite a few years now (I'm thinking since 2004, because Mirrormask was the first one I saw, and that would tie in nicely to seeing a clip beforehand at SDCC in 2004. I think.).  And I've been building up the number of films I see each year, around and about actually trying to work for a living dammit.

But this year - hell, this year I didn't really have anything else going on at all.  Empire's Moviecon stuttered out of existence with absolutely no announcements (because last year was a case of Expansion: UR Doing It Wrong. And this year apparently we had the Olympics or something, which are obviously kryptonite to film cons? Who knows.). And obviously, having given up on SDCC completely, *sob*, it's not even worth planning a repeat trip to SD anytime soon.  I'm studiously ignoring the fact that I seem to be planning a trip to Atlanta next year that may miraculously coincide with Dragoncon, but there you go.

The obvious solution was to focus all my time and energy and non-existent money on blitzing LFF like a mad thing. So.. I kinda did. As in, 29 films in 11 days. Some days there were four films, some days there was one. Most days there was also work. Hell yeah.
(There may be actual reviews, when I have my brain back/some more sleep).

For now, there is Stuff I Have Learnt:
  • Films with cute dogs are generally better if the dog has its own Twitter account (Boonee in Starlet, the Shih Tzu in Seven Psychopaths. Let's not talk about The Wall. Because I may start with the nihilistic sobbing all over again.)

  • Films with threesomes are generally godawful pretentious wastes of time. Sadly they were also my opening and closing films (Dead Europe, Kiss of the Damned.). Next year I really, really have to find something more reliably enjoyable to end on, like, say Seven Psychopaths.
  • The films you nearly knock off the list because they look a bit odd/generally meh... will probably turn out to be some of the most enjoyable films of the festival, if not the entire year (Starlet, Aiyyaa), or the most interesting (Lore, The Patience Stone). Or I may totally forget that it's by the same director as something I adored previously and not even book a ticket until the last minute when I finally cotton on (White Elephant). All amazing stuff.
  • In fact, anything you make a massive effort to see will sadly not be worth it (Hyde Park on Hudson. AKA, the Mayor's Gala, minus said Mayor. A gigantic, expensive waste of time for which one tiny bar of Green &Blacks, Icelandic mineral water and 2 minutes of Bill Murray in person were really not fair compense for no Boris and an irritating film. Ahem.)
  • Other things I was desperate to see (Painless, Helpless) were watchable but slightly disappointing.   Robot & Frank started well but I had such problems with the ending and how it treated dementia that it soured everything else.
      Beasts of the Southern Wild was beautifully shot, amazing cast, had an incredible soundtrack with some lovely moments, and had me sobbing by the end - but was never quite going to live up to the hype somehow.  Mainly, it didn't all quite hang together, and I don't feel the need to rewatch, which is my marker of a truly great film.  Seeing Hushpuppy (sorry, Quevenzahe?) on stage afterwards was magic enough though - that girl is absolute gold dust.
  • The only one that was on my top watch list that actually earned its place was the truly amazing Imagine. Which hasn't been picked up by a distributor, but I would watch again in a heartbeat, and make everyone I know watch it too. Fantastic stuff.
  • It was also a good year for films that were a little bit Amelie -  Aiyyaa, most deliciously, sets out to be a Bollywood Amelie (along with a billion other things), stealing great chunks of the soundtrack (and moped rides), and succeeds brilliantly, but also Imagine, in a far more unlikely way.  It had the same mentality; the 'times are hard for dreamers'; small pleasures, and whether it does more harm to try and make the world a more liveable place by denying reality to some extent. The fantasy, spliced with a great deal more tension and trip hazards....
  •  There are some truly awesome cinemas in London which I didn't even know existed - number one being the Hackney Picturehouse: a bar entirely redecorated with a white wrap in honour of Beasts of the Southern Wild, complete with quotes, auroch 'cave paintings' and a large wooden sign saying 'The Bathtub'. So much love.
    They also stock proper gourmet popcorn, ice lollies and icecream along with the usual rubbish (not cheap, obviously but then my salted banoffee Urban Ice and salted caramel popcorn were instead of dinner so that totally doesn't count), and their main screen is a smaller scale equivalent of the Sky Screen at the O2 - for an arthouse cinema it's huge and has incredibly steep seating so you're not constantly peering through someone's bouffant hairdo while developing DVT (like, say, the hellhole that is Odeon West End).  Sadly it's a 40 minute bus ride from work (no tube stop!), whereas the West End is 15 min by tube, so hard to justify making the trip...
    The Everyman cinemas - the Islington Screen on the Green this time - are also brilliant (armchairs with drink tables and a full bar at the back of the screen? Don't mind if I do.) if rather easy to fall asleep in (during Silence) but equally handy to nip out to the loo directly from the screen if you're in the midst of a major hysterical sobbing fit  and want to clean up a bit (um, The Wall).
    Brixton's Ritzy is also rather nice - hell, Brixton was actually quite nice, considering I'd never been there before. Although on a day when the only tube line running there was closed, it took a bit of ingenuity to actually make the trip.
  • So far as my hit rate goes - there were far more perfectly pleasant if unmemorable films than there was stuff I actually hated.  Films you adore are always going to be few and far between, and, um, you have to kiss a lot of frogs. Also, sacrifices had to be made in terms of time/money, and stuff that was about to come out in the next month was more justifiable to do on general release - I wanted a festival screening of Beasts for the atmosphere and Q&A, basically.  I still feel I'm going to love Argo when I do finally see it, but it can wait. Rust & Bone I'm not sure, but it's getting a wide enough release. 

jencat: (brain)
2012-09-16 11:59 pm
Entry tags:

Still all about the Dredd, not so much the 3D

So: apparently Dredd is still stuck in my head, considering I saw it again within the space of 4 days... in 3D this time, which was mostly pointless aside from a few pretty exploding glass/blood/wtf slo-mo scenes.  3D is never getting any less murky, and I'm not seeing it anymore clearly than I ever was (GP lenses: never not racking up light flares and halos, what a surprise), so not entire logical.  But it was still a lot of fun... I'm still watching the trailer on Youtube (after seeing it twice already, wtf?!) And I kinda wanna see it a third time, which so did not expect to happen.

So, yeah, this is my overthinking all the minutae, I'm-getting-a-bit-obsessed slightly meta essay about Dredd. Again, did not see this coming.

much, much rambling on Dredd )

It's been a really, really good year for films so far.. I don't think I'd ever hit four repeat cinema trips for anything until MI4, and then Avengers went and made it a new record of 5 within a few months - which was almost odd, because a lot of what I could see were the problems first time I watched that.  Except you came out wanting to see it again right this second - so, two viewings in 4 days that time, and it just kept racking up.  And it never got boring, or repetitive, and if anything it gets better - which is good, because the DVD is arriving tomorrow :o)
jencat: (hello)
2012-09-10 02:10 am
Entry tags:

Dredd vs The Raid...

I wasn't particularly caring about seeing Dredd until the last lot of trailers kicked in - because, let's face it, I am old enough to remember the Stallone abomination of the 90s. And it was.. well, Dredd. And I'm not the target audience for 2000AD, whatever.

But the trailers... First off, La Roux never gets old (I'm still obsessed with the obscure game trailer that used another random mix of that song, because it's always awesome.).  And then there was the slo-mo... Which was shiny and pretty, and hey, I've sat through nearly everything Tarsem's done quite happily because of the crazy pretties, so no excuse really.  And honestly, it sold itself really really well - simple story, great talent involved doing what they do best (Karl Urban beating people to a pulp? check! Lena Headey being head bitch? double check!)

And as it turns out, I was really in the mood to see something like this.  Last weekend's double bill of Total Recall (good fun, if a bit meh, and some batshit crazy concepts of the laws of physics) and Expendables 2.... well, no, really, I can't believe anyone professionally wrote that script and got paid for it. Or that Simon fucking Con Air West directed it. Or that any of the cast were ever highly paid professional megastars at any point, whose films I used to mostly quite enjoy, because it felt like an excrutiating very expensive panto and I can't believe I stayed to the end. Ahem.

Dredd, though... I'm so impressed it lived up to the trailers. It was beautifully made, bone crunchingly gory (I have never seen so many bodily fluids fly through the air in slow motion in my entire life), and actually interesting stuff. It took a lot of risks - going for the 18 cert and sticking with it, when Chris Nolan is getting away with 12As; Karl Urban spending the entire film wearing the helmet, oddly enough - but it has that rare ring of authenticity to it.  Halfway through it suddenly dawned on me that this was showing the same scrappy enthusiasm about the source material as Avengers does; the kind of heady fanboying that infects the audience (if you're me, anyhoo. Lots of the reviews don't seem to get this, which is sad. Having said that, I hit a new record of 5 cinema viewings for Avengers, so hey).

What ruined a lot of reviews was the default position of "it's got the same plot as The Raid! Shame that came out first!" Well, hey, The Raid was awesome - bone-crunchingly impressive as a martial arts showcase, with the crazy headspace of a Welshman making an Indonesian beat-em-up.  It's just that, if you've actually watched The Raid, the genre focus is so different to Dredd that there are only the barest moments of comparison.

 Raid is about a guy being sent into a situation he doesn't understand, who just so happens to have mad fighting skillz that means he has a chance of surviving it when it all goes to hell, with a little soapy melodrama chucked in to heighten the tension.  It works like gangbusters, mostly in a whirl of fists and feet and bullets and heads being put through walls, plus the lead is scrappily adorable, with a lot to lose if he fails.

Dredd is altogether a different beast - it's the fun of watching an unstoppable force hit an unmovable object, and seeing what's left when the dust settles (gorgeously, in super slo-mo).  Dredd knows exactly what he's doing; he doesn't panic, doesn't lose faith in his own skill set, and will not stop so long as he's still breathing.  He has a fair bit in common with the Terminator, on occasion - no background necessary (and there are a couple of scenes that nod at the T1 similarities, which entertained me no end).  

We have Anderson being all cute rookie with shaggy hair and a very nifty sideline in brain melting for the emotional side of things. And that's all it needs.

I was so won over because it ends up being such an elegantly-made film - the plot twists as much around Anderson's first-day-on-the-job hesitant decision making progress (do love Dredd telling her how 20% of new Judge's don't survive their first day - way to inspire!) as Dredd's normal ineffable reaction to enforcing the law. There is nothing more to it then Dredd gets saddled with assessing Anderson, she decides they investigate the Peach Trees murders; they make an arrest rather than another execution and Ma-Ma locks them in to take them out. Things spiral, mostly in slow-mo. Things that would be spelled out in less clever films are left to be subtle here (leaving more time for bone-crunching, obv).  It's been pared down and it's all the stronger for it, so kudos to Alex Garland.  Methinks he's a Dredd fan; Karl Urban certainly seems to be, and it's strangely fun watching him determinedly re-set his mouth back to the trademark scowl every time he's forced to talk.

So, basically, I kinda loved it.
jencat: (brain)
2012-05-31 01:14 am
Entry tags:

In which I am disappointed in McThor and the Eight Dwarves...

Was I looking forward to Snow White & The Huntsman?  Hell, quite a lot yes - and I wasn't even tragically disappointed in it until it hit the last hour, and the sinking feeling kicked in that oh shit, they really aren't going to salvage this one. BASTARDS. Ahem.

I'm still trying to convince myself it wasn't all bad.  Some of it was even interesting, right?

    massively spoilery ranting )

    I think maybe this film bugged me quite a lot, and I need to see Avengers again to take the nasty taste away...

    jencat: (crow)
    2011-12-25 08:11 pm

    Mission Impossible: Now with 57% more awesome... (and it only took 16 years)

    How much do I love MI:4? Well, I seem to have seen it twice in a week so far, and today's rewatch was quite possibly the reward I'd been promising myself for surviving an insanely family-intensive Christmas.  I could quite happily watch it again but there's kinda The Artist (and possibly Puss in Boots) to catch first, just to be reasonable.  (I do appear to be watching Knight & Day on dvd at the mo, though, as apparently my brain is craving breezy Tom Cruise action flicks right now.).  I blame Brad Bird.

    massive spoilery ramblings for MI:4... )

    Posted via LiveJournal app for Android.

    jencat: (hello)
    2011-11-24 12:51 am
    Entry tags:

    Immortals, and an interesting approach to Greek mythology...

    Actually, sod it, I sat through Immortals mostly going "ooooohhh, pretty."  I was entertained.  At no point did I start nodding off (which has been happening recently in anything remotely boring, thank you Tintin and, bizarrely, Troll Hunter).

    I will say, expectations were pretty damn low.  This was averaging, oooh, one star in a lot of the reviews I'd read.  But it was Tarsem. Doing something approaching a 300 redux.  And it was absolutely batshit crazy cracked up fun, but it still managed to be approximately 70% less silly than *shudder* Clash of the Titans.

    This is because: 
    1. Tarsem.  Who probably can't direct his way out of paper bag story-wise, but my god the man has an eye for... well, anything baroque or ridiculously gorgeous (the random oil soaking! Bonkers genius!).  The screen practically glowed dammit.  Visually it was utterly stunning; the 3D worked subtly and nicely even on the tiny west end Odeon screen and I will happily watch it again at some point just to see all the heads exploding in slo-mo.  Hell, all the everything exploding in slo-mo.  There was rather a lot of that.

    2. Henry Cavill.  Yeah, I will believe the dude can be Superman.  Hell, I'd believe he can do just about anything, because he carried this entire freaking film single-handedly despite atrocious dialogue and minimal help from the script, and he was just lovely.  f 
    vaguely spoilery )
    jencat: (Default)
    2011-11-07 11:45 pm
    Entry tags:

    Contagion, and being no fun

    Eesh, it's been such an odd week.  And showing no signs of getting less odd, unfortunately...

    Last night I kinda reluctantly went to see Contagion (it's hard to say no when I just had The LFF Splurge), and it was... more than a little meh, really.  I think I read Steven Soderbergh had about a gazillion edits ranging from 3 hours to, er, half that - and went with the slimmed down version.  

    Erm, yep, you can tell.  Want to see a whole bunch of Oscar winners faff about momentarily before disappearing without explanation? Then you should totally catch Contagion. Or.. not, obviously.  

    I mostly didn't want to see it because it looked fairly po-faced and depressing, and while it does like to pile on the close ups of icky dead faces , it's weirdly just po-faced and pretty shallow.  .  
    slightly spoilery )
    jencat: (dessert spoons)
    2011-10-27 05:52 pm
    Entry tags:

    LFF 2011, part the first (and a half)

    Apparently I didn't take into account quite how brainmelting it would be trying to do LFF the way I have this year. *note to self for next year: TAKE MORE TIME OFF WORK...!*

    My brain is still kinda off running around the plains of Armenia/a spooky Cumbrian boarding school circa 1921, and yet there are, like, patients to deal with and letters to be typed. Obviously I may as well start with the interesting stuff (so, completely backwards then)...

    The last double-bill kicked off with The Awakening, which at some points had the potential to be utterly fabulous, and at other times was content to tick along as a kind of sub-The Others/Sixth Sense bog standard Ghost Story With a Twist. The fabulousness, as best seen in the first 20 mins, was Rebecca Hall dashing about Edwardian London being Florence the Kickass Lady Ghost Hunter/Writer.  Really, we do need more of this particular bit immediately.  Whenever the film got occasionally annoying after that, I distracted myself by theorising about a TV show where she disproves hauntings/fights crime on a weekly basis - preferably with Dominic West's adorabubble severely traumatised WW1 vet/kindly teacher Robert as her sidekick. 

    Honestly, at that point it was a little bit like Sherlock with an awesome girl. And GHOSTS. What's not to love?

    slightly spoilery for The Awakening )

    The thing being is that this film is still in my head a couple of weeks later - for all it's many imperfections - and it's out on Friday here.. Armistice Day, nicely.  So I may have to go see it again.  

    The very last festival film this year was HERE (the fact that it's 'arthouse' is about all the explanation you're gonna get for the vaguely unnecessary use of CAPSLOCK, but what the hey).

    Actually it was utterly lovely, for all that it risked being fairly alienating, and I have pretty much zero knowledge of Armenia (except about the Turkish massacre about a century ago, oddly enough).  There's a nice American boy doing satellite map engineering in Armenia (part of which is disputed and has never been mapped properly), and he runs into a slightly flighty Armenian photographer who's back home  briefly on a grant and slightly reluctant to reconnect with her family, who can't really understand that photography can be an actual career.  And then they run into each other again, by pure chance, and take a little road trip to the disputed territory... Well that's one version of it.

    Read more slightly spoilery ramblings )

    jencat: (through the door)
    2011-10-15 01:09 am
    Entry tags:

    LFF.. festival time again!

    Yay!  the 2011 London Film Festival kicked off again this week, and this year was the point I finally cracked and snapped up the BFI membership the month before booking opened.  Yeah, it's £40 but theoretically I can offset this against the BFI ticket discount if I go once a month (or something. It sounded plausible!).  But most importantly, I got in for the first week of ticket booking...!

    To be honest, I was somewhere in Florida minus internet (ok, I was at Wet'n'Wild in Orlando...) when booking actually opened, but I managed it a day later when the sleep deprivation started to ease off a bit and I could actually work out the hideously complicated arrangements that ensue when I try to fit in a dozen films and actual work (plus family bdays!) into 3 weeks.  Oh, obviously I'd spent a couple weeks beforehand plotting my theoretical schedule, but that doesn't even nearly take account of stuff selling out practically instantly.  Or, indeed, the fact that I wasn't at work and needed to get an okay to take time off for the daytime showings...

    The final list settled at this 9 - which is still minus a couple of things I would love to see, and have had to admit defeat on for the moment.  Also, next Sunday night is still up for grabs between a bday and queuing for standbyes for Mitsuko Delivers (which lost out to The Awakening in the daytime slot battle.  What can I say, the latter had Rebecca Hall and Dom West being spooky!):

    Today:  50/50more later...

    Monday: Where Do We Go Now?

    Tuesday:   Tales of the Night

    Weds:  Let The Bullets Fly
                 Miss Bala

    Thurs:  Nobody Else But You

    Mon:  Martha Marcy May Marlene

    Weds:  The Awakening

    2 American, 3 French, 1 Lebanese, 1 Chinese, 1 Mexican and 1 Brit (and not sure about HERE...)
    I dashed out of work in a mad rush to make the lunchtime screening of 50/50 in what I thought was plenty of time, only to discover a queue stretching halfway down Leicester Square to collect tickets, and much panicking... In the end they herded all the folk for that showing to the box office first with a minute to spare (it started late anyhoo) and we weren't allowed to collect the rest of our festival tickets (which I still don't have, dammit!).  Teeny bit more stressful than i anticipated, but hey, I'm still in shock that a Seth Rogen film made me cry...!

    The best way I could think to describe it was in the vein of Up In the Air, but with cancer instead of redundancy being the Big Awkward Subject.  Also, Anna Kendrick :o)

    slightly spoilery for 50/50 )

    jencat: (Default)
    2011-07-24 10:40 pm
    Entry tags:

    (no subject)

    Y'know the thing I shouldn't have done last week? Watched Agora. Sod the fact I've been wanting to watch it for absolutely ages, it actually turned out to be frickin' relentlessly depressing... book (well, scroll) burning, mass murder and religious oppression of every shade,

    slightly spoilery )


    jencat: (brain)
    2011-04-24 07:38 pm
    Entry tags:

    catching up on the flicks...

    I've been making an effort the last few weeks to actually go see some films for a change, after a few months of not really bothering - it's been a mixed bag, but mostly not so bad.

    Seeing as Source Code was something I'd been looking forward to for absolutely months, it turned out to be a partial success - spoilery ramblings )

    jencat: (dessert spoons)
    2010-12-05 01:01 am
    Entry tags:


     I seem to have been reading a lot of worryingly deep and meaningful stuff recently, but obviously that way lies sheer craziness and thus I tend to stick to burbling instead about the terribly inconsequential things (because, honestly, the escapism and narratives fixes are all that's standing between me and a prescription for antidepressants some days.)  I'm fixated, sometimes, by where the line gets drawn between what matters and what should not - it does not matter, of course, where a word goes in a sentence, or whether you get to use a semi-colon Just So.  But a part of my brain seems to derive so much pleasure from the particular words, and how they fit and do not fit, that I have convinced myself that it must be at least some measure of the entirety of civilisation somehow... and it, is, logically, to  a point.

    Hmm, what matters...  that Russell Crowe is officially No Good at picking films any longer.  Having caught the preview of The Next Three Days for free, I'm officially glad not have have paid for the damn tickets.. 

    Read more... )
    jencat: (Default)
    2010-04-10 12:58 am

    a little light ultraviolence

    So: I saw Kick-Ass a couple weeks ago at previews, and it predictably rocked, which was something of a foregone conclusion but still a lot of fun getting there :o)

    Obviously all the good stuff we saw at the presentations last year were present and correct; but in context they take on slightly different aspects... yep to all the ultraviolence; but for the most part the ultraviolence is only how they let you see Mindy, and it's completely comic, played for the breathless, manic silliness that's wholly designed to make you squeal and gasp. It's the counterpoints that get you; the real, real violence that doesn't cut away. 

    And the Daily Mail, reliably, wrote exactly the review everyone expected them to write (double page spread, 'Crime Against Cinema', one star, etc, etc, ad infinitum..) and so completely missed the point that it was quite painful. 

    kick-as... )

    But then I finally saw The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo last night, which was a teensy bit traumatic for my liking, and, well.. eh. I haven't read the books, admittedly, (apart from a tiny extract from Hornet's Nest that completely spoiled the whole twist about Lisbeth's background)  but there has been something a little fascinating about the real life drama going on after Stieg Larsson's untimely death so I was interested to go see the film after all the rave reviews. 

    Heh.  It wasn't badly made or acted (Noomi Rapace was simply extraordinary) but some of it did feel like you were being repeated punched, over and over.. Dragon Tattoo... )

    jencat: (Default)
    2010-03-21 12:03 am

    what's that willpower thing again...?

    Cos I've come to the conclusion that I've got some kinda.. deficiency... in it. Or something.  I'm also 4 eps behind in Lost, which is frankly shocking considering it's the final season.  Probably the spoiler that Charlotte came back and had some whole kinda thing with alt!Sawyer rather than Dan has pushed me over the edge, and I'm really hoping there's not gonna be a repeat of the whole BSG thing where I still haven't seen the last 12 eps, or Razor, or The Plan,  mostly cos it ended up heading in a direction that made my brain zone out...

    (Seriously, the current ad break is making my head hurt... they're playing what I could swear is Mumford and Sons on a tv ad for  And just switched off for a break from rewatching The Devil's Whore, and I'm suddenly hearing John Simm doing the voiceover for an Orange ad.... My brain is suitably confused.)

    (apparently I also have issues with, er, focus too..)

    The reason I'm also watching TDW  again now is that I went to see Solomon Kane last weekend (after a marathon sour cream chocolate birthday cake baking session, long story), and was oddly impressed considering it was a Euro-stock-fantasy with a tiny budget that takes itself very seriously indeed.. but there was, equally oddly, distinct flair in the visuals with a real sense of plague-ridden, Puritan-esque England where it rains all the sodding time.  Basically, it's earnest, grim, dour, definitely indebted to LOTR and seriously atmospheric. Also, there are demons. And zombies!

    This would probably also be a good moment to mention that there's also a lot of James Purefoy being all noble whilst mostly dressed in leather trousers, finding lots of excuses to go topless

    lots of spoilery Solomon Kane/Devil's Whore ramblings )

    Hmm...also I finally saw Avatar in Imax 3D, was highly impressed, and before that got a tad upset when it didn't get Best Picture at the Oscars (hey, I stayed up til 5.30am watching the wretched thing, and while I would be spitting blood if Kath Bigelow hadn't got Best Director, I think the amount of work that went into Avatar, how impressive the finished product turned out to be, and the amount of success it's had does actually deserve to be recognised as well.)  It's quite extraordinary how much better it is in Imax, and after the inital 3D clips at Moviecon last year made me kinda ill.. Hell, I sat there like a little kid with a big grin on my face the first few minutes as it zoomed over the forest, and actually went to brush away the falling ash after Hometree burned.  I honestly can't see 3D very well normally (apparently the Imax glasses and wearing contacts make a big difference) so it was fantastic stuff.

    Aaand now I need to stop blathering and go get some sleep... tomorrow would be my next writing retreat and last time was not a great success due to my fabulous sleep-deprived zombie interpretation...!

    jencat: (legend of seeker)
    2009-11-01 10:59 pm

    omg so much stuff

    kinda starting to learn my lesson... the laptop has to stay off on weeknights if i want to get to bed anytime before 1am.  It was a little bit ridiculously obvious when i was getting three hours less sleep (and digressing, but wtf Sky One seems to be re-enacting the Austen Powers/sausage/milkjugs scene for a trailer about a nudist show?! Decidedly odd, in context). Also, the Avatar tv adverts kicked off today... only 6 weeks to go?

    Aaand, today I've been online for about a million hours. Muscles may well be atrophying, i probably wouldn't even notice, but I have finally managed to watch the first 4 eps of Stargate Universe. 

    SGU ramblings )

    And, dammit, just noticed The Village is on. 

    Village love )

    Whew, while I'm staying up late yet again, I may as well post all the stuff I haven't bothered with for the past few weeks... 

    Legend of the Seeker spoilery finale ravings... )

    Also... Ah, I accidentally ended up booking tickets to the Mayor's Gala showing of Bright Star at the London Film Festival week before last, and have been raving about it to anyone who stands still long enough ever since. But it was brilliant!   

    Boris! )Bright Star )