Sunday, 29 November 2009

Movies This week...

Arthur (1981) **
The International (2009) **
knowing (2009) **

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Recent Movies...

I've been away from the internet for a couple of weeks which is why I still haven't posted my review for A Christmas Carol (coming shortly) or my recent movies. Never mind, here we go...

A Christmas Carol (2009) ****
Anvil! The Story of Anvil (2008) ***
Bachelor Party (1984) *
The Boat That Rocked (2009) ***
Gentleman's Agreement (1947) ***
Hitman (2007) *
In The Line Of Fire (1993) ****
L.A. Story (1991) ***
The Maltese Falcon (1941) ***
Observe And Report (2009) *
The World's Fastest Indian (2005) ***

Monday, 9 November 2009

The Men Who Stare At Goats (15)

Jeff Bridges, Kevin Spacey, George Clooney, Ewan McGregor; with such a stellar cast, The Men Who Stare At Goats delivers a level of star power greatly misaligned with its rather slight budget. Unfortunately whilst the actors impress, the film fails to fire on all cylinders, resulting in an enjoyable but ultimately forgettable experience.

As a genre, The Men Who Stare is hard to pin down. Part indie comedy, part biography, the film falls somewhere in between, mixed with a healthy dose of political satire which, in the recent gamut of anti-war propaganda, appears rather ineffectual by comparison. The premise itself is deliciously tantalising and does offer a few decent laughs, but the stubborn allegiance to the source material means that we are never offered the comedy set-pieces one would expect as cast and crew sit deliberately along the mainstream sidelines. Instead of side-splitting comedy and crazy antics we are left with a few nice moments and an awful lot of waffle.

The first act is enjoyable enough but as the number of flashbacks increase one can’t help but feel that the entire feature is little more than a trailer for the real film. In fact, towards the finale it becomes apparent that the film has failed to deliver on providing a story at all, despite the promise of one throughout McGregor’s narrated back story and set up. The cast is generally strong (although McGregor’s American accent is, as in Robots (2005) rather forced) but Bridges and Spacey are woefully underused and this highlights yet another failure of the film to take advantage of the tools at its disposal.

Although in style The Men Who Stare could be mistaken for a Coen film, albeit with a more high-concept approach, it lacks the duos inclination for strong characterisation and as such provides only pale imitations of the actors greatest moments; Jeff Bridges is the Dude, George Clooney the paranoid agent from Burn After Reading (2008), while the intertextual significance of Ewan McGregor as a Jedi warrior is blatantly apparent. Funny then, but for a more pleasurable comedy experience, try the Coens instead.


Movies This week...

Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) ***
The Men Who Stare At Goats (2009) ***
The Wizard Of Oz (1939) ***

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Fantastic Mr Fox (PG)

In all honesty it has not been easy to reconcile my love for animation with the decidedly poor quality displayed in Wes Anderson’s latest. Even as a fan of the director I could not quite get my head around the dated, inexpressive animation and only after many trailer viewings did I begin to warm to it.

His masterpiece this most certainly is not, but it’s bloody good fun all the same. In fact, in terms of pure entertainment this is by far his strongest film since Bottle Rocket (1996). Anderson’s trademark offbeat humour is magnified by the absurdity of talking animals which actually provides a far more comfortable outlet for comedy than any of his previous works.

Despite the lack of child-snaring gimmicks so typical of modern mainstream animation, Fox somehow manages to strike a perfect balance between family friendly and slyly adult – the use of the word “cuss” to replace swearing being just one of several risqué but clean comedic gems. Perhaps most impressive is the way in which Wes Anderson has retained his auteur-istic charms despite moving to a radically different medium. The extended takes, static camera shots and unnatural blocking are all present, along with uncomfortable silences, bizarre verbal exchanges, folk music... and Bill Murray.

However, Fox isn’t perfect. The whole affair moves far too briskly as if Anderson feared the onset of restlessness from the younger audience members. Oftentimes the film sags under its many subplots much like in the horribly unfocused The Life Aquatic (2004) and it becomes quite difficult to recognise the original Roald Dahl novel underneath all the decoration. Still, story problems aside, there is no denying that what Anderson has achieved during his sojourn into the realms of animation is nothing short of fantastic.


Monday, 2 November 2009

Movies This week...

17 Again (2009) ***
Dan In Real Life (2007) **
Escape From New York (1981) **
Heathers (1988) **