Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Apart from a disappointingly mundane and cheesy ending, the film offers plenty to say on the reality of love and sex and everything in between. A tight script effortlessly interweaves through a fantastic cast and the film has a fresh take on romance than is usual for a film of this type. Who says romance is dead?
"Crazy, Stupid, Love." Trailer
Monday, September 26, 2011
From it's credits of retro indie beats mixed with pink font you know there is something striking in store. Gosling plays the Driver with no Name who works as a Hollywood stuntman while moonlighting as a getaway driver at night. His life is one of solitude and never getting too close to anybody. That is until new neighbour Irene (Carey Mulligan) moves in with her son and the two strike up a relationship. As the Driver begins to melt his hard exterior and get close to this new family, his violent past comes crashing back into everyones lives. Along the way, supporting characters are filled out by fantastic character actors from Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston (his usual reliable self), Ron Perlman (having great fun), Oscar Isaac (about the only one who escaped from Sucker Punch untainted) Christina Hendricks (fans of Mad Men will not be happy with her limited screen time) and the usually typecast Albert Brooks. Brooks in particular is mesmerizing. Usually seen in childrens fare and nice guy roles, here he plays the psychotic main antagonist to fantastic effect. Interestingly, he is infused with layers making his violent actions all the more shocking and unpredictable. Surely an oscar nod can't be far off? And then there is Gosling. Given little to no lines throughout, Gosling gives a hypnotic and quietly powerful performance and one that is sure to be remembered in cult circles for years. Winding cast his film perfectly and everyone delivers in their respective parts. That is, apart from Mulligan. A usually fantastic talent, she is never less than entrancing in anything I have seen her in prior. Unfortunately here she seems distractingly miscast and is given little or nothing to do. One minor flaw in a fantastic film. Spontaneously prone to breaking out in hyper violence as it is in 80's synths, the film is certainly one of the more memorable you will see. Gorgeously shot and impeccably acted, Winding Refn has crafted one of the best of the year with scenes that will stick with you for a long time after. An art house version of an action film and one that is filled with as much quiet moments of introspection as it is in gun fights and car chases. Channeling the vibe of Bullitt and early Michael Mann, Drive is every bit as exciting and interesting as that might expect. While it's title might suggest revving auto parts; what it in fact refers to, is the driving force behind decisions and what consequences they may take.
Stylish, exciting and frequently adrenaline pulsing stuff, this takes the stale notions of what a crime movie might usually entail and turns them into a far more interesting and memorable experience. It may not be deep, but Winding Refn handles the atmosphere perfectly and delivers one of the sure to be favourites of the year.
Sunday, September 18, 2011
The eagerly awaited teaser for the latest in the [rec] series has finally debuted online. A teaser in the true sense, this gives next to no plot details away and only a few tantalisingly gruesome images for the gorehounds. Taking the action out of the old apartment block that [rec]'s 1 & 2 so ably used in their stories, this time the action is transplanted to a wedding just down the road. Secrets are still in abundance, but you can be rest assured that director Paco Plaza (co-director on the first two: Jaume Balagueró is helming number 4 on his own) will have plenty of tricks up his sleeve and pack the film with the same rollercoaster ride of fear the series is renowned for. [rec] 3 is due for release in it's native Spain in March 2012.
Monday, September 12, 2011
Through it's found footage mockumentary stylings, director André Øvredal has great fun in exploring the various types of troll, their behaviour and just how they have managed to exist all this time without the public knowing about them. Like the aforementioned Rare Exports it is also very refreshing to see films coming from somewhat smaller countries and competing with Hollywood in the broad entertainment stakes. While The Troll Hunter certainly had a small budget, it still delivers it's fair share of 'money shots' through the escalating set pieces and troll attacks. The film is a monster movie of sorts, as each of the trolls tower imposingly over our hero with each desperately eager to drink the blood of a Christian man. Hans is hilariously unfazed throughout. Wisely, the film doesn't take itself too seriously and this is personified in Hans. To the film makers and the audience, the events are frequently amazing and yet to him, it is all in a days work. The designs and effects of each troll is wonderful and original, giving valuable personality to many of the different creatures. The sound design must be applauded also for adding to the nuance and tension so that while the camera might not pick up what is stalking them, the various thuds and stomps let the audience know that something big and imposing can never be too far off. Alas, it's basic format seems to be the films main drawback. While it was obviously chosen as a means to paper over any budgetary concerns with the monsters, it seems that the 'found footage' format' is only growing old at this stage. Sure the film offers plenty of hair raising moments with great effects, but that is only ever followed by endless scenes of Hans driving through (admittedly stunning) Norwegian fjords and landscapes along with the dreaded Blair Witch patented effect of 'shaky cam running through the woods as something chases from behind'. Surely a more traditional narrative approach could have worked better while still keeping it's minimal effects to the basics. Don't forget that for Jaws the prosthetic shark on set barely ever worked which led to Spielberg having to come up with ever more ingenious ways of personifying danger without ever showing the monster. You don't need poorly shot shaky hand held camera for the audience to visualise themselves in the situation.
A frequently fun and exciting monster movie. Norway competes with Hollywood and for the most part admirably succeeds with it's effective low key CG effects and designs. It's themes and main character are original and it is only in it's mockumentary format that shows the genre is growing ever more tired and which takes some of the steam out of proceedings.
"The Troll Hunter" Trailer
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Eisenberg stars as Nick, an underachieving slacker/pizza delivery boy. Playing fast and loose with a very crude screenplay, it is nice to see Eisenberg ditch his usual nervy, love lorn and misplaced genius persona and give Nick an air of apathy about him. If previous Eisenberg portrayals had the problem of caring too much, then Nick cares too little - about his life, his job and his friends. He suddenly finds he cares a lot more than he thought when bumbling and incompetent local bums Dwayne (Danny McBride) and Travis (Nick Swardson) strap a bomb to his chest and order him to rob a bank for them. Sure Eisenberg still retains his usual 'Eisenberg-iness', but he casts an air of palpable panic to Nick and grounds proceedings in his drama. As the two would be criminals Mssrs. McBride and Swardson are their usual reliable selves. Swardson usually only shows up in bit parts or brief comedy sketches elsewhere, so it's nice to see he has the chops to deliver a genuine full rounded character without growing tired before things end. McBride gives another one of his 'red neck asshole' performances that where he not so pitch perfect doing it, would have grown stale long ago. Contrasting their plight with Nick and his best friend Chet's (Aziz Ansari) is nicely handled. Chet is the only one left to turn to when Nick finds himself in his predicament. As his partner and accomplice, it is great to see Ansari finally get the break out role that any followers of his will know, was a long time coming. Eisenberg and Ansari have great chemistry and in that bank robbing scene alone, we see how well they play off each other. In fact, the comedy builds steadily throughout, only heightening as events get more and more dangerous. So as things get more and more farcical, the laughs grow bigger and bigger. Fleischer delivers a funny, fast paced, thrill ride comedy and doesn't dilly dally as things are quickly wrapped up in no time. In fact at a sheer 80 minutes, it's running time is one of the reasons it all works so well. It's cast do great work with their profanity-laden parts and Fleischer proves that Zombieland was no fluke. Sure it's not big or clever, but it sets out to deliver laughs across a high concept format and it delivers in spades. It's cast ensure that the jokes keep on coming and it's short running time is enough to distract you from any glaring plot holes or contrivances. All the film wants you do to is sit back and laugh at stupid people doing stupid things, so why should you fight it - especially when it's got a killer car chase set to this.
It's not going to win any awards, but Fleischer's film delivers jokes by the bucketload. Naysayers of any the cast before will find nothing revolutionary here, everyone else will be laughing too hard to notice. Short, sweet, punchy and very entertaining.
Sunday, September 4, 2011
Focusing on the minutiae of British suburban life, we open on Jay (Neil Maskell) and wife Shel (MyAnna Buring). Locked in a passionately violent marriage, the stress of bills and mortgages are taking their toll as their young son Sam (Harry Simpson) watches on helplessly. So far, so regular, until we discover Jay has the far from regular job as a hit-man. Eight months after what seems a disastrous job in Kiev, Jay reluctantly takes on another job with cohort and best mate Gal (an excellent Michael Smiley): the titular list. Of course in films, that 'one last job' is never a good idea and pretty soon, the two find themselves in increasingly murky territory as each hit on their list leads them down darker alleys. The cast are all uniformly excellent. Wheatley and the cast spent almost as much time improvising various takes as with scripted material and the result is incredibly effective. Maskell and Buring's relationship is painfully conveyed to almost too realistic effect. A couple that bicker and fight, only to make up seconds later; it is obvious to everyone but them, that they should not be together. At the heart of things however, is Jay and Gal. As the two embark on their murderous road trip, they paint a memorable couple. Killers with their own set of moral codes; they are fiercely loyal to each other. The two actors do a fine job in making the audience believe the bond between the two. Their core relationship also leads to some of the more wittier moments; never too far off it seems and perfectly breaking up all that tension and misery in between. However, as the List becomes unofficially longer, and the boys realise they are in over their heads there is only more and more unresolved questions stacking up. Who exactly is the man who hired the guys in the first place? Why do Jay's targets continually thank him before each murder? What exactly is that mysterious symbol scribbled on the back of the mirror in Jay's bathroom? All and none of these questions are answered. Mystery surrounds every corner of Wheatley's story and while he may not give a solid answer to any of them, you can rest assured that he has provided enough hints prior to let you connect the dots. It is also safe to say a second viewing will be almost as enlightening as the first, and help clear up some of the mystery. Throughout, Wheatley effortlessly builds tension. Though not much at all may be happening, there is a sea of violence just waiting to explode at any time. All this is only built on by the films atmospheric soundscapes, breathing deep unease into the images. Overall the film is an incredibly peculiar chiller. Not outright horror, drama or crime/thriller, it is hard to categorise. Instead of this being a hurdle, the film uses this confusion to build a very original and disturbing tale, although definitely not for everybody. If you let the film work on you, by the time the lights come up you may be shocked, confused and just a little bewildered, but no less stunned. But don't listen to me, you're better off taking the film on it's own merits and finding out for yourself.
A frequently disturbing and odd film that effortlessly blends genres to stunning effect. Some will bemoan the lack of cohesion come it's end, but everyone else will be taken on a very uneasy and murky ride through the underside of British suburbia. Darkly comic and very unsettling, it is an experience you might not be able to shake soon after.
"Kill List" Trailer