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: 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: Independence Day

Posted on by 5WC in Film

It’s scary to think that it’s nearly 20 years since Jeff Goldblum declared “Check Mate” and Will Smith told the world that he just had to get himself an extra terrestrial space craft as aliens flew 90 billion light years to come down here and start a fight. If we are currently living the era of the comic book franchise then Independence Day comes slap bang in the middle of the testosterone filled arms race of the 1990s when it appeared that the films were directed solely at men and the bench mark for a good story was not the cast, the script or the plot but rather how much petrol you could ignite and how big an explosion you could make. Con Air, The Rock, Armageddon, Jurassic Park all arriving as I neared my teenage years and along with Independence Day, cemented my love of cinema not through exquisite refinement but rather, simple visual action; and throw away one liners.

And I loved it, I remember seeing Independence Day in the cinema and being enthralled, I brought it on VHS (in a case that had an explosive lenticular cover) and even up-scaled to DVD when it was released on that. But I was young, and influence by a good fire ball and dreams of saving the day. I didn’t look at movies as I do now. I didn’t question plot holes, poor acting or implausible twists. I simply watched the film and got swept up in the entertainment. Read more

Film Review: The Bone Collector

Posted on by 5WC in Film

I was captivated the first time I ever saw The Bone Collector. So much so, that I actually spent time looking, hoping, it was possible to get hold of a copy of the book used. Not the novel on which the film is based, but rather the book that appears on screen. Sadly though, the book is just a prop, but that didn’t lessen the impact of the film. In fact, I’d go as far to as say that The Bone Collector was the first film that truly grabbed me.

I really do rank it as one of my all time favourite films, I just have a love of psychological thrillers, those dark sinister tales that aren’t true horrors, with in your face blood and violence, but rather simmer away, niggling inside your mind, playing on basic fears. The power of scaring through the unknown, through panic anxiety and suspense. Read more

Film Review: Evolution

Posted on by 5WC in Film

To this day I am still not exactly sure if Evolution is meant to be a serious alien comedy or a parodying spoof. I think I have this problem because the tone of the film is one that feels almost as if they are making a joke of a joke, and therefore, you never quite feel fully trusting of it. Nethertheless though, I still thoroughly enjoy it.

I do wonder though if my mistrust in its intentions is actually born out of the fact that for every hyper real situation, plot hole or clichéd one liner you still have to accept that the basic idea of the film has just enough plausibility to make you think that it’s actually possible. Ludicrously silly but possible. Read more

Film Review: Tiptoes

Posted on by 5WC in Film

It’s fair to say that from time to time we all go through phases, we all go through those periods where we become almost obsessed, locked if you will, to a specific actor or genre. We only watch romantic comedies or animated classics or franchise films. Often we don’t like to admit to our random addictions, I grew up on Adman Sandler’s back catalogue and went through a phase where I couldn’t get enough to Kate Beckinsale. Serendipity, Brokedown Palace, Tiptoes and even Pearl Harbor.

It’s been a while since I last watched Tiptoes. It’s one of those films that for want of a better description is shy. It sits, happily, in my DVD collection always keeping its head down, it’s arm lowered, never really wanting to make eye contact when I’m searching for something to watch. I can’t explain why, but it somehow feels to me like the child in class, desperate for the teacher not to call out their name. And I don’t understand why? Because while it’s not the type of movie that will shake the core of the ground upon which I stand, it’s a pleasant movie that deserves a bit more courage. Read more

Film Review: I, Robot

Posted on by 5WC in Film

There are times when you just need to accept that you aren’t in the mood for high drama, thought provoking debate or overly long stories. There are just times when you need to stick your feet up, let nonsensical special effects take over and lose yourself in a story far removed from modern life, or normally, human existence.

There are just those evenings when you need to let the unimaginable take you away. And usually that means letting Will Smith into your life. Originally I had planned to watch Independence Day, but it’s rather impressive running time and the culmination of a long week meant that alien invasion was sidestepped for robot intelligence. And so, Friday night’s film was: I, Robot. Read more

Film Review: Wanted

Posted on by 5WC in Film

Wanted is apparently based upon a comic book series, but from what I can understand, it’s basically just title and character names, because the comic book series is far more padded, more thought out and elongated than the film, that simply borrows the ideas behind a few characters, hires Angelina Jolie and James McAvoy and calls it a movie.

Wanted is also one of those films that you come away from not knowing whether you’ve actually liked it, enjoyed it, or somehow become devoid of all emotion. All you are sure of is that you haven’t hated it. You haven’t been bored. More than that though, it manages so say virtually nothing either. It opens box after box, scattering everything around with no intention of tidying up and still, you walk about, not fussed about the lack of care, sense or answers is shows. Read more

Film Review: Cloverfield

Posted on by 5WC in Film

I can still remember vividly the first time I watched Cloverfield. I’d been given it by my brother as a present and, not being a large horror fan had put off watching it for one reason or another for a long, long time, until one sleepless night, I ended up lying in bed watching it on my laptop PC.

I also remember, coming away from that initial viewing wondering why I’d been so stupid to put it off for so long. In Cloverfield I found a movie that simply blew me away, it was implausible yet profound, scary yet entertaining and I fell asleep afterwards having expected a cheap and tacky movie about alien invasions and instead, come away having found what I thought was a potential little gem. A tale that really shook me by the rawness of it all. Read more

Film Review: Nick And Norah’s Infinite Playlist

Posted on by 5WC in Film

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist is just another in what is essentially just a long production line of mid teen romantic comedies. A formulaic movie which sticks to the recipe and never rocks the boat. The result is a film that is entertaining, uplifting and enjoyable but at the exact same time, somehow subconsciously monotonous because it provides nothing new.

That doesn’t mean I dislike the film, in fact it’s the opposite, it’s ranks a lot higher than some in the genre, but I never fully commit to it. Everything just feels a little bit too perfect. That little bit too good to be true. The solution just a little bit too obvious to the question it explores. I almost feel tricked into a story that can never happen. I buy into it, I get swept along for the ride, but ultimately I never relax into the film and I never fully commit to the plausibility of the plot. I just never believe it would actually happen, but seeing it on screen still makes me long for it. Read more