Friday, March 26, 2010
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Thursday, March 11, 2010
I have enjoyed both Olyphant and Mitchell's work for some time now. They regularly appear in these genre films, but always turn up decent, watchable work, and this is no exception. Olyphant's cool gait and Mitchell's expressive features provide the main reasons why you keep with the film, despite all the stupidity going on around them. They are ably supported by the various townsfolk, but at the end of it all, it is their love and steely determination that sees you watching through to the bitter, bloody end. It was to my suprise upon seeing the end credits, that I noticed that Breck Eisner had directed the film. It seems he has put the disaster of his 2005 Matthew McConaughey starring adventure film 'Sahara' (both in the court rooms and its box office performance) behind him. The mayhem is well handled and maintained throughout the films brisk running time. Our protagonists move from small burst of action to small burst of action every few minutes and this suprisingly does not become tiresome. In fact, taken for what it is, and you can get a certain level of enjoyment out of the film.
Its main problems lie in its plot. It wisely never attempts to complicate or deepen things, but this ends up meaning that the film becomes quite slight and forgettable. Imagine 'Tremors' crossed with the little seen 2006 thriller, 'Right At Your Door'. Fun for its duration, but will not stick with you in same way that it possibly could have. Sure the film is violent and tense, but Eisner never fully explores the idea of your loved ones turning on you in such a terrifying manner. In fact, he could have made the whole affair much nastier if he wanted it to stick with audiences better. This is not to take away from the film. I have always had a soft spot in my heart for those 'small American towns that get destroyed' movies that come along every now and then. Done right, and you can get a nice, little tense thrill ride, much of what exists here. The film is being marketed as a horror. In fact it is rare to see American films nowadays that truly scare. This is no exception. It's tense, and features some nicely inventive death scenes, but never, for one second did I nervously look over my shoulder for fear of those who might be behind me on my walk home....
Short, fun and tense. Perfect date movie fodder, but don't expect to suspect your friends and neighbours as anything other then they are when it's all over.
Film Trailer:(Be warned, it actually gives away a lot of the best scenes and films plot)
"Say what you want about Mel Gibson, but the son of a bitch knows story structure!" says ‘ South Park ’. Has Mel Gibson been really gone 8 years from our screens? Since 2002’s ‘Signs’, he has taken a self imposed break from acting, deciding instead to direct a few violent, subtitled yarns and drunkenly comit the odd hate crime. Has it been that long since he has not been seen in front of a lens? Apart from his mug shot that is? Well folks, fret no more as the anti mullet, Anti-Semitist is back, with this, quite possibly the most pedestrian of thrillers seen in a while. Even South Park, it seems can get it wrong sometimes.
We open on a haggered, familiar face in a crowd. Yes, he looks slightly older, yes, his hair is slightly greying and yes, despite the various scrapes and dust ups it is soon to endure, it does retain its beautiful shape, but folks make no mistake, Mel Gibson is back. So after collecting his daughter and a not very convincing reunion it is not long before a violent attack on her own doorstep that she is left lying in a pool of her own blood as her father (Gibson) looks helplessly on. Bad move bad guys, Gibson here is a Boston Police Detective, and VERY pissed off. What follows is ‘Taken’-lite, as Gibson’s Tom Craven, attempts to take down everyone and anyone involved in the death and cover up of it, from assassins, fellow police officers, senators, and some multi millionaire businessmen. Craven ‘just doesn’t give a shit anymore’! Along the way we meet the always welcome sights of Danny Huston, who may or may not be a corrupt businessman, and Ray Winstone as…..wait, what does Winstone actually do during this movie? Some unexpected and nasty deaths included, with Gibson going from ‘sad’ to ‘mad’ and we have a movie that’s not so much ‘bad’, as just……. ‘meh’. Martin Campbell, the man who reinvented James Bond twice, with ‘Goldeneye’ and ‘Casino Royale’ directs here like he couldn’t care less. All the more surprising as it was he who directed the British Mid 80’s Programme that the movie is based on. So was this a labour of love for the people involved? Why else would Gibson come back from his hiatus, or Campbell return to his roots? Wow, something must have really gone wrong along the way. Robert DeNiro, it seems had the most sense he’s had in a few years when he walked off the project after a few days…..
The movie is not as clever as it may think. In fact, it plods along from one incidental episode to the next, without ever seeming like its going anywhere. Everything is obvious from 30 minutes or so into it, so all that’s left for the audience is patiently waiting for Gibson to get his information, or get angry or upset at someone. To be fair, when things seem to be skewering off the rails, it is Gibson that keeps you watching. No one does 'wild eyed, scarily crazy unhinged man', quite like him. It was nice to see him on the screen again, and it actually made me miss him. My God, what I would do to see him get some sense, reunite with George Miller and strap on the leather boots one last time as Max Rockatansky. Danny Huston seems to be making a name for himself playing shady businessmen, and Ray Winstone has literally the most pointless part to a movie I have seen in quite some time, so what does it all add up to? Well it’s no travesty, by any stretch. In fact it’s far too routine and safe to be completely shite, but what’s surprising about it, is that no one here really seems to care about the film. As a result, the film is completely forgettable; perhaps it seemed fun when you were hungover, but in the cold hard light of day it can’t possibly stand up to scratch.
So Mels grand return to acting equals a pointless thriller. Although your enjoyment of it depends on how you find a scene that pretty much plays out as follows-Inspector Chief: ’You can’t work this case on the death of your daughter, you’re too close to it!’ Detective Gibson: ‘I have to, I’m the best Officer here.’ Inspector Chief: ‘Oh yeah, OK, you’re back on the case!’ Oh, and your Dad will love it.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Adapted from the novel by Dennis Lehane (writer of ‘Mystic River’ and ‘Gone Baby Gone’) ‘Shutter Island’ is an intense and sometimes devastating journey inside the fractured psychosis of the human mind. Set in the mid 50’s it centres on DiCaprio’s US Marshall, Teddy Daniels’ investigation into the case of a missing patient on an island, housing dangerous psychopaths and criminals. No one here is prepared to talk and both Daniels and his new partner Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) can find no allibies. To make matters worse Head Psychiatrist, Dr Cawley (Ben Kinglsey) and almost everyone else on the island seem to be covering up potential information and housing some dark secrets….. To reveal more about the plot would do a great disservice to both DiCaprio and Scorsese, not to mention screenwriter Laeta Kalogridis for expertly weaving an intense psychological thriller.
What I can say, is that with every collaboration Scorsese and DiCaprio seem to be besting their last, and this is no exception. From DiCaprios performance here, it is easy to see why he has become Scosese’s new muse. It is quite possibly his best performance to date; one that balances raw anger, heartbreaking emotion and sanity loss - sometimes all at once and you may not even know what he’s actually doing for most of the films running time. It’s very courageous on his behalf. Why Paramount moved the picture outside of the Oscar nominations is anyones guess-in a perfect world, DiCaprio would have been walking home with the little gold man on March 7th. Partly in fact why the movie succeeds as well as it does is down to its cast. As mentioned, DiCaprio yet again excels, but is joined ably by Ruffalo, who while not at first seems to be doing much, is in fact housing far more complex emotions and nuances in his performance. Kingsley as well gives another solid turn which is pretty much to be expected from the ‘Sir’ with almost anything he does these days. Michelle Williams make great use of her limited screen time with one scene in particular that leaves you reeling. Also nice to see genre favourites Ted Levine and John Carroll Lynch popping up, actors who just by their history in similarly themed movies, you can tell that something is not quite right.
This might not be the straight forward exercise in terror as some might have originally hoped from its trailers. No, while there are plenty of deranged inmates to terrorise both DiCaprio and Ruffalo (one dark and nighmarish scene in Block C springs to mind), it is actually the unstable mind and it how it can be the most fragile of all things that Scorsese is interested in. This shares themes with many of the mans movies ranging from ‘Taxi Driver’ all the way up to the recent ‘The Aviator’. So sure, from the outset, this might seem to be new ground for Scorsese, but come the climax, there is no doubt you were in anyone else’s hands but his. Unfortunately, the films climax, while earth shattering in its effectiveness is not as clever as you might have been led to believe and for some might be considered a little cheap. The film can also be quite cold and emotionless for most of its running time. Scorsese employs a radical cutting technique with his editor Thelma Schoonmaker, which harks back to her work on ‘Goodfellas’, ‘The King of Comedy’ and ‘Bringing Out The Dead’. Of course you have to know Scorsese to know that you’re in experienced hands and that all is there for a reason that will eventually pay off. This might not work as well for the less patient viewer. Other problems include the fact that various characters seem to come and go throughout the film, (hello and goodbye Patricia Clarkson and Jackie Earle Haley) although this can be down to the films climax and is therefore debatable. Scorsese has more than enough flair and confidence to keep us watching, though make no mistake, ‘Shutter Island’ deals with some intense and tough themes. Scorsese does not make it easy on the viewer from its many weird dream sequences, fractured editing and plotting that may seem ‘all over the place’ to some.
However, Scorsese delivers a far deeper film than the one I was initially expecting. Robbie Robertson (of The Band) and Scorsese hand picked various previously established score music from various different sources and the effect is stunning-the images and many of the music themes work beautifully together. Cinematographer Robert Richardson also creates a blue hued dystopia-creating some of the most beautiful, and disturbing imagery of Scorsese’s career. So what it may come down to is a basic mystery, thriller. Scorsese and DiCaprio elevate it above its genre confines to the 1st great film of 2010.
You may not know where it is taking you for most of its running time but by its heart wrenching and devastating climax you will know there is only one master.