Category: Film

Film Review: Avatar

Posted on by 5WC in Film

I’m not exactly sure why I never saw Avatar on the big screen. It just obviously wasn’t meant to be and in fact, it was only recently that I watched it at all. The reason being, that as director James Cameron virtually reinvented this modern stereoscopic 3D trend for the film, it seemed wrong to view it in any other format, and that meant waiting for me to get a 3D TV!

It is also the film that you can use to best sum up why I started my films reviews on this blog. Avatar is not actually a film about blue aliens at war with nasty humans who are intent on mining their natural resources, but rather, a social commentary by James Cameron about how the west invades the east because they have something we want. Or to put it another way: it’s America versus The Middle East over the control of oil, plus a few other things woven into the mix. Read more

Film Review: 21

Posted on by 5WC in Film

I think it’s fair to say that however multicultural and diverse the film industry may be, the overriding geography that comes straight to mind when you think of mainstream movies is America and more specifically Hollywood. Which means that gambling and it’s portrayal on screen becomes a strange juxtaposition of illicit taboo and acceptable secret due to America’s interstate differences and varying attitudes to gambling. This unease towards a simple monetary bet, more often than not, forces the focus of attention away from the actual betting and instead twists everything into just another story about stealing lots of money, a “little man taking down the bank” monopoly heist tale. And 21, sadly, really is no exception.

It doesn’t run away from gambling quite as much as some movies set in Las Vegas do, it is happy to shuffle cards and bet chips but it also is desperate to be something more. It wants to show you it has depth and a personality and tries to keep your attention on the characters and not on the cards and for me, as a result, it ends up becoming simple losing focus. 21 is actually inspired by a true story, there really was a MIT blackjack team that over two decades counted their way to worldwide financial success. But 21 doesn’t have the time to look that widely at the truth and so shrinks everything to fit and rather that making a film that worked, it just left everything feeling very compact and condensed. Everything seems to happen at a million miles an hour, and nothing is ever really expanded or explained. They simply show, imply and hope you accept. Read more

Film Review: Love Is Strange

Posted on by 5WC in Film

I remember hearing nothing but good things about Love Is Strange. I even vaguely recall that it was released at around the time as another, more box office, love story and in the same way that The Duke of Burgundy was highlighted above 50 Shades Of Grey as being the better dominance movie, Love Is Strange was lauded as the more amorous tale. Even though for the life of me I cannot remember the other film in the equation.

So when Love Is Strange appeared on Curzon’s Home Cinema service memories were relit and watching the trailer it looked to be a clever and interesting idea with themes and discussions of bigotry, love and romance all interlinked. It didn’t seem to be a risk. I was expecting a deep, thought provoking piece of narrative film making. But I was wrong, I was very wrong. Read more

Film Review: Jurassic World

Posted on by 5WC in Film

So, this is essentially the biggest film, in my life, in recent years. What is, for want of a better description, part 4 in the Jurassic Park franchise, Jurassic World is the one film that I have been waiting for this year more than any other. I fell in love with the big screen, and films in general, thanks to its original sibling. I was blown away by the sheer spectacle of it all and I dragged my parents back to the cinema in 1993 three times, desperate to relive the adventure, the emotions and the story over and over.

So, I have been worried about the latest incarnation. As I wrote in my snippet about it in the movies I want to see post I was “tinged with anxiety” towards it because the trailer seemed to imply a world too far removed from the original. A disconnected copy rather than an extension. The trailer just looked like they’d taken my memories and sterilised them; and that made me wonder whether I’d come away from the film having tainted something I hold so dear. So panicked towards what the final product would be, I have literally avoided every review, opinion or discussion on the film to date. I didn’t want anything to sway me or influence me until I’d seen it. And so, along with 4 other people, I donned my 3D glasses and took in the very first 9.40am showing on the opening day of release! And having finally seen the film, I can say that I truly don’t know. In my head the simple opinions are clear, I love it, but when I think about it more, when I look at it a bit deeper I seem to just find problem, weakness, or issue. Read more

Film Review: The Bling Ring

Posted on by 5WC in Film

It’s been a very long time since I have detested a film quite as much as The Bling Ring. Honestly, I truly struggle to think of any redeeming feature in it, everything about it: the plot, the characters, the tone, is just wrong. Granted, I’m probably not its target audience, after all I don’t care about Paris Hilton, celebrity parties, or the latest fashion trends, and so don’t understand the draw towards that lifestyle, but the glitz, glamour and risqué frivolity implied by the trailer is nothing but a smoke screen to a film that is pathetic, shallow and simply wrong.

My first problem with The Bling Ring is the tone it takes to the plot. I felt it almost wants to idolise crime. It is a film which centres around breaking into people’s homes and stealing their stuff. It’s nothing more than 90 minutes of adolescent burglary. That’s bad enough, but it plays this out while almost trying to justify it as a bit of fun. It talks to you as if this is somehow cool, or OK. And it’s not. It’s criminal. If you have an ounce of decency in your body it is impossible to connect to this film in any way because whatever angle you look at it, however you view it’s simple story and characters, the bottom line is this: they are breaking the law; and that is something I don’t want to join them in. I don’t want to take part. In fact, I want them to get arrested. Read more

Film Review: Inside I’m Dancing

Posted on by 5WC in Film

To a lot of people movies, cinema and films just evoke imagery of franchised Hollywood blockbusters. Computer generated worlds funded by massive budgets and populated with a handful of seemingly removed from reality superstars. But they are missing out on so much. On the films that feel independent of Hollywood. That look rural to the urbanisation of the big screen. That have a narrative point and linger inside and that, provide emotional response rather than just visual stimulation.

Inside I’m Dancing is one of those emotionally charged films. Missed by so many because it’s about real people, prejudice and what it means to be alive and not robots having a fight. I do not know how I first came to see it, but I can still clearly remember the moment, playing out on a small laptop screen, completely blown away and I can even still feel how it made me feel. Returning to it now, after a very long break (I have leant to it so many friends it’s taken a while to return), every emotion was freshly stirred and as strong as ever. Read more

Film Review: Gattaca

Posted on by 5WC in Film

I listen to two film podcasts, one from the writers of Empire Magazine and one from the BBC presented by Simon Mayo and Mark Kermode, lovingly known as Wittertainment. The BBC’s flagship film podcast includes a “TV Film Of The Week” feature, which as an almost running joke, is usually a film being broadcast at approximately 2.30am on Film4. And whilst in the age of digital video recorders that isn’t really an issue, it does somehow cause me to forget about it. As if mentally a film broadcast that late is a TV Listing afterthought and not actually worth watching whatever they claim.

However, this week James King sat in for the holidaying Mark Kermode and picked a film that I’d never heard of, on a channel I wasn’t sure I could receive, but, at a time I would actually be awake for. It seemed rude not to investigate it further, and when he then lauded it as it a “beautiful and touching piece of smart sci-fi”, it seemed to make sense to watch it. Especially as it stars Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman and Jude Law who have all gone on to do OK for themselves! The film in question being Gattaca. Read more

Film Review: Up In The Air

Posted on by 5WC in Film

When you watch a lot of films, as I do, it becomes apparent that you weave from title to title primarily by director or actor more than genre. There are, of course, times when you’ll simply be in the mood for a comedy, or a thriller, or a bit of action but primarily, it’s a case of finding a performer you like and working through their back catalogue until they get over shadowed by somebody else driving you onto a new path. At the moment it’s obvious that I’m currently being drawn to Anna Kendrick: Pitch Perfect, Pitch Perfect 2, 50/50 and now Up In The Air all being watched in the last month alone.

I have to admit though, I’d never heard of Up In The Air until I was flicking through Kendrick’s filmography, which is actually somewhat surprising because it’s rated highly and with a cast that includes: George Clooney, Jason Bateman, J.K. Simmons and Zach Galifianakis, as well as Vera Farmiga, who received an Oscar nomination for her performance, part of me would have expected it to seen it, or even heard of it before now! Read more

Film Review: 50/50

Posted on by 5WC in Film

When it comes to finding a topic with which to poke fun at and use as a foundation for a comedy Cancer is probably not going to spring straight to mind. In fact, I’d even bet that there are people out there who feel that it should be constantly off limits, that it is wrong to even imagine laughing at a life touched by the illness, let alone actually doing so.

But that’s exactly what 50/50 does. It takes the difficult and distressing subject, one that people find painful and instantly sobering, and reminds you what is important. That no matter how broken the bigger picture may seem, it’s the little pieces that create it. Those happy memories, moments of compassion and simple jokes that make us who we are and give us the strength to live our lives. Read more

Film Review: Danny Collins

Posted on by 5WC in Film

You’re a musician and John Lennon writes you a letter. Only he doesn’t know where you live, so he posts it to a mutual address to be passed onto you, only this is an actual letter from actual John Lennon, so it’s kept, hidden, instead of delivered and 40 years pass before it finally reaches you. It’s a clever idea and potentially the start of an interesting story. And best of all? It’s actually true, Danny Collins is a folk singer called Steve Tilston and John Lennon really did write him a letter.

And it’s a great opening idea, the letter gives Danny Collins the ability to go narratively where ever it likes, to tell whatever story it wants. The only thing is, the letter turns out to be such a non event in the film, it’s history and significance so glossed over and ignored, that it felt more than just forgotten. It felt like false advertising. I wanted them to make more of the letter and not use it as a brief and passing door into a plot that has been constantly rolled out and recycled throughout film history. Danny Collins is not a film about music, or the words of a Beatle, but rather a simple tale of seeing and finding the important things in life. The bigger picture of it all. John Lennon simply provides the epiphany. Read more