Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Prometheus Plot Holes

Warning, this post is literally nothing but spoilers for Prometheus. I mentioned in my review that the script had numerous plot holes, and I really need to vent them out, so I’ve listed them below. Do not read this until you’ve watched the film, and if anyone can fill the holes in for me please go ahead. I repeat, do not read this post until you have seen the film.


Don't ask me how, but I managed to get a ticket to the Cast & Crew Premiere of Prometheus at the Empire Cinema in London's Leicester Square last night. Though it was disappointing not to see director Ridley Scott or the cast, who are probably saving themselves for tomorrow's red carpet Premiere (a part of me was hoping I'd get to sit next to Charlize Theron, you can probably guess which part), the experience of going to see a film with nothing but film fans and people who respect the art, in a stunning cinema, was amazing, even if there was a bit of a post-movie crowd crushing to retrieve handed-in phones afterwards. Plus, I saw it three days before the rest of the general public, which makes me feel special. 

 In 2089 a group of scientists, led by Shaw and Holloway (Noomi Rapace and Logan Marshall-Green) discover ancient cave paintings on the Isle of Skye depicting giant humanoids reaching up to 6 orbs in the sky. The drawing matches others found all over the world, and point towards a distant planet that may hold some key to the origins of mankind. Four years later, the scientists arrive at the planet LV223 as part of a 17-man crew aboard the Peter Weyland-funded ship Prometheus. Once there, the crew find traces of alien life, but are the answers they receive the ones they were hoping for?

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Through A Glass Darkly

I rarely watch a film I literally know nothing about, and I must say it's an unsettling experience. I've witnessed people walking up to a cinema and asking "What's playing today?" in shock and awe. "How can these people not know about the film they're going to see? Who are these people? Have they left the house just to see any film, rather than planning, sometimes weeks in advance, to go and see a specific film?" are often thoughts that run around my head and occasionally out of my mouth as the clerk at Odeon reels off a list of the current blockbusters and horrors  for the third time to a pair of elderly women in front of me in the queue, clearly looking for something starring Clark Gable. On occasion, and as happened recently with Time Regained, I will pause a movie I know nothing about some way into it, to have a quick check online or in the 1001 book, to give me some idea of what I'm supposed to be watching. If I do this, it's not generally a good sign, as a) I'm as yet unsure of what the film is about, and b) I'm clearly bored. This was not an option with Ingmar Bergman's Through A Glass Darkly though, for I watched it streaming via LoveFilm, and I find that if I pause it for more than a quick toilet break, the damn thing refuses to load unless it plays from the beginning, so I had to sit it out and find out what I was watching afterwards.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Unlisted: Invictus

South Africa, May 1994. Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman) was released from prison 4 years ago, and has just been elected as the country's president. Amidst a nation-wide racial clash, Mandela believes that the key to a united country could lie within the national rugby team, the Springboks, and their captain Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon).

Mandela's plan, it seems, is for the Springboks - a team so despised by the black population that they instinctively root for whoever is playing against them, and who hadn't been doing terribly well before Mandela got involved - to win the Rugby World Cup in less than a year's time, though experts believe they'll get no further than the quarter finals at best. The Springboks, with only one black player and a uniform of apartheid's green and gold, find themselves in a position where their president wants them to be cheered on by the entire mixed nation, so embark on a PR campaign involving playing and teaching rugby to the poor black kids from the slums of the country. Going in, I thought his plan would have been to create a team comprised of 50% blacks and whites, thereby creating animosity as to whether the players were recruited for their skill or the colour of their skin, but in effect his plan was... nothing. Other than some inspirational speeches, standard marketing techniques, a slightly more intense training regime and an admirable cause, the aim seems to be just to will the team to win. Much like Million Dollar Baby, I could have done with some more time spent on the reasons behind the success, not simply showing it.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Last Tango in Paris

This is one of those films that I've often heard mentioned, but never knew anything about, other than it had Marlon Brando wearing a long camel coat, and some degree of nudity. This is true on both counts, though 'some' could be something of an understatement, as barely a scene goes by without flesh being exposed, love being made or pleasure being administered by a character to themselves.

Our leads are Paul (Brando) and Jeanne (Maria Schneider, at the time a somewhat inexperienced actress). After several near-meetings and glimpses on the street and in a bar, she goes to rent an apartment that he has already entered. Without knowing one another's names, or anything else, the two engage in a burst of passionate, impromptu sex, before embarking on a relationship centred around the apartment, despite troubles in their personal lives and an obvious age gap of at least twenty years.


I always seem to end up watching horror movies on my own. Very few of my friends, and definitely not my girlfriend, actually like scary films, and though my Dad likes a couple my Mum always essentially banned them from the house (Carrie is her least favourite film of all time, possibly the main reason my Dad still has it on video back at their house). And so it was that I ended up watching Ring, the Japanese 1998 original, alone. It's subtitled, which rules out the only people I know that would have been willing to watch it with me, but as I was expecting something thoroughly disturbing, bordering on terrifying, I made sure to watch it first thing on a bright and sunny Saturday morning. I even left a curtain open to stream in some sunlight, just not the one that gives glare on the screen.

I've seen the remarkably successful Gore Verbinski US remake of this film and found it thoroughly underwhelming and forgettable, so much so that going in I couldn't really remember much about it, other than the basic plot and at some point it involved a well, so I was actually largely looking forward to this viewing, to see what all the fuss was about.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Million Dollar Baby

The second part of my Clint-Eastwood-directing-himself-and-Morgan-Freeman-in-a-supporting-role double bill see Clint take on a genre he's never really (that I know of) looked at before, the sports movie (please feel free to let me know if he has, I'm often wrong about these things and he's been working for an awfully long time).

If there's two criticisms that can be lauded onto Eastwood, it's that he doesn't direct happy stories or portray more than one character. He's not renowned for making lighter films with happy endings or playing people who aren't grumpy, stoic curmudgeons with their trousers too high, and his streak continues here. I know he's made a few lighter films (Paint Your Wagon, Every Which Way But Loose) but I haven't seen them, and I'm guessing he plays the grumpy, stoic, possibly singing straightman to a comically messy primate who never stops annoying him. Again, please let me know if I'm wrong and recommend any films where he flashes a smile, once.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Top 5... Movie Grandads

Today is my Grandad's birthday, happy birthday Grandad! If he knew what the Internet was, he still probably wouldn't be reading this, but in tribute let's have a look at the greatest Grandad's on film (spoiler alert).

5. Grandpa Joe (Jack Albertson), Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
On the surface, Joe seems to be a pretty decent grandparent - he never loses faith in Charlie and accompanies him to the chocolate factory upon his grandson's finding of the last golden ticket, but there are many reasons why he isn't higher on this list. Firstly, he's been in bed, unmoving, with Charlie's other three grandparents, for many years, complaining of a medical condition preventing him from working, whilst his daughter (or daughter-in-law, I'm not sure) slaves away all day, every day to provide for the entire family. Secondly, his undying faith that Charlie was going to win a ticket is only acceptable because Charlie did in fact win. The entire first half of the film depicts the chances of Charlie finding a ticket as so remote, that it's nothing short of an astronomical miracle that he finds one. Had he not, it's likely that his hopes had been built up so high, mainly because of his grandfather, that it'd be surprising if he didn't end up with some kind of a complex. Thirdly, Joe's antics within the factory almost cost Charlie and his family the life of their dreams when he coaxes Charlie into drinking the Fizzy Lifting Drink (not to mention threatening what little life he already had with that giant fan). All that being said, as a grandfather he isn't too bad, and does seem to be a lovely man.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012


The first part of my double bill of Clint-Eastwood-directing-himself-and-Morgan-Freeman-in-a-supporting-role sees the American icon define the genre that not only made him the prolific star he is, but that he has almost singlehandedly kept alive since it's surge in popularity in the 60s and 70s; the western.

Unforgiven sees Eastwood as William Munny, a former hardened killer reformed by the love of a good women and the birth of his two children. With his wife dead and their herd of pigs stricken with fever, Munny accepts the offer from young upstart The Schofield Kid (Jaimz Woolvett) to kill two ruffians who cut up a whore after she laughed at one of them having a small penis. They team up with Munny's former partner Ned Logan (Morgan Freeman) and head out to the town of Big Whiskey, lorded over by Gene Hackman's occasionally violent 'Little' Bill Daggett, where other hired killers, including Richard Harris' English Bob, are also heading to claim the bounty.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Unlisted: Bridesmaids

As usual, I'm a little late to the party with this review. I've heard a lot of good things about Bridesmaids, and as usual the great deal of hype has built up my expectations, so I'd anticipated a comedy that proved something I've always had my doubts about; that women could be just as funny as men. I don't mean to be misogynistic, I'm just terribly good at it, but I've always preferred male comedians to female, and you've got to admit that there's a hell of a lot more of them. Plus, my girlfriend (who also isn't funny) watched this film last year and said she didn't enjoy it, which is usually a sign that I would.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Body Heat

In a balmy summer heatwave in the American Deep South, the not-terribly-good defense lawyer Ned Racine (William Hurt with a 70s pornstar moustache) makes a random encounter with wealthy, sultry Matty Walker (Kathleen Turner), who is unhappily married to Edmund (Richard Crenna), a good man who is always away on business. Ned and Matty begin an illicit and steamy affair, and both decide that they'd be better off financially and romantically if Edmund were no longer around, so Ned, with the help of Mickey Rourke's criminal consultant, sets out to murder him.

What sets this apart from the rest of the noir genre it draws obvious inspiration from is the copious nudity and sex scenes between the two leads, which are excessive even by today's standards, as well as several shots of Richard Crenna in his underwear that I could have done without.

Friday, 18 May 2012

The Conformist

It's probably not much of a recommendation to say that, only a month after having watched it and having read the notes I took at the time, I cannot remember much about this film. The plot was incomprehensible, mainly because the narrative was chopped up and flitted between with little to no acknowledgement, and if I hadn't read that it was about a hitman I'd probably never have known.

Our protagonist is Clerici (Jean-Louis Trintignant), a fascism-supporting, recently engaged man with a sordid past, who desperately wants to fit in with society. So jumbled up is the structure of the film that I'm reluctant to say anything that happens, as I can't be sure of the order shown during the runtime, so if there are spoilers within this review then I apologise. 

Top 5... Movies I Should Like Less

Last week I took a look at some of the movies of which the general consensus is they are classics, but I don't necessarily agree. As promised, this week here's the flip side to that coin, the films that I love, but others may think I'm a little stupid for doing so. These are basically guilty pleasures that I really should know better than to enjoy, but that doesn't mean watching them can't stick a goofy grin on my face and make me forget whatever other crap is invading my life.

5. Con Air
I'd argue with many people that this isn't actually a bad film, it's just highly implausible and tremendous fun, when a band of some of the most dangerous criminals in the world, led by John Malkovich's Cyrus 'The Virus' Grissom, take over the plane transporting them to a new prison. Nic Cage is our justifiably law-breaking Navy seal hero catching a ride home with his ridiculous hair, and John Cusack the only man on the ground who believes in him. The cast is as impressively diverse as the film (Ving Rhames, Danny Trejo, Mykelti Williamson, Dave Chapelle, M. C. Gainey, Colm Meaney) and Steve Buscemi plays a cannibalistic paedophile. Who (SPOILER) gets away. As in, he's free. In a casino, gambling, in public. We're told he once drove around wearing a young girl's head as a hat. Earlier in the film, he has tea with a little girl playing with a doll, and later we see a smashed tea cup, the girl nowhere to be found. So, presumably he killed her, possibly eating her? This is the oddest scene to put into an action film, especially when you consider Buscemi's Garland Greene isn't in the top 3 antagonists! And did I mention he gets away? And no-one seems to be looking for him?

Thursday, 17 May 2012


A buddy cop movie with a seasoned old hand so close to retirement they're already scraping his name off the door and his hotshot, firebrand young replacement, this couldn't be further from another Lethal Weapon. Yes, one's a family man and the other's a loner, one is prone to anger and the other a methodical, careful detective clearly too old for this shit, but where Richard Donner's 80's staple is an entertaining, action-packed romp, this is something much darker.

After a disturbingly evocative opening credits sequence enriched with depth and meaning on repeated viewings, we meet Morgan Freeman's detective Somerset, picking up his last case, a sickeningly masterful serial killer with a penchant for the seven deadly sins, the same day as Brad Pitt's Detective Mills arrives to replace him. That's as much setup as there is, as we follow the mismatched detectives from crime scene to crime scene, via their headquarters and areas of research, with Somerset whiling a night away poring over books in the library, whilst Mills take a brief glance at the Cliff notes.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Unlisted: Avengers Assemble

Ugh, typing that name made me feel so dirty. Avengers Assemble. Ugh. There was nothing wrong with just The Avengers, no-one was going to go in expecting umbrellas, bowler hats and catsuits, and even if they had been, they'd have got something better anyway. Plus, 'Assemble' is possibly the least exciting word to ever appear in a movie title since The Adjustment Bureau.

Now chances are this isn't the first Avengers review you've read, hell chances are this isn't even the first Avengers review you've read that starts off by telling you it's not the first Avengers review you've read, seeing as this is one of those movies (let's not kid ourselves by calling it a film, this is for entertainment purposes only) seemingly designed to be discussed at length on the Internet. We've sat through 4 years of 5 prequels, and for literally years the Internet has been lying in wait to rip apart this inevitable car crash of a movie. Which makes it something of a surprise that not only is it not bad, it's bloody good.

Sunday, 13 May 2012


I've just reached 20,000 page views! I'm sure you don't care, but to me this is a moment I'd like to share with you. Let's all just take a second to bask in what this milestone truly means.

Finished? OK. The part about this that perplexes me is that, at present, over 10% of those page views have been for Billy Elliot, a review that up until recently had spelling mistakes in it. Why is it so popular? well mainly because when you do a Google image search, the picture I've used comes up pretty early on, but hey, a view is a view.

Thanks to everyone that's been visiting my site, I appreciate you taking the time to read my opinions and ramblings on films. Here's to the next 20,000 views!

Time Regained

As much as I'd like the title of this post to actually be in reference to a blog update, whereby I'd allowed myself more time to watch these films than the allotted five years, alas it is in fact the title of a 1999 French film about the life of novelist Marcel Proust. The film is as thrilling as that sounds, and holds the position of the biography I've seen that, after having watched it, I know roughly the same amount about it's subject as I did before watching, and all I knew beforehand was that at some point or other he'd written something. 

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Mad Max 2 The Road Warrior

If the recent UK petrol strikes had gone on a little longer, chances are we'd have seen something not too dissimilar to the events here, in George Miller's 1981 sequel to 1979's Mad Max. Mel Gibson reprises his role of Australian cop Max Rockatansky, but the world he lives in is now a barren, chaotic land left ravaged by a worldwide war, leaving the survivors desperate for any fuel they can find. 

Max and his dog roam the landscape looking for gasoline, eventually hearing about an enormous stash not too far away, and so with the guidance of a deranged nutcase with a flying machine ("It's my snake, I trained it and I'm gonna eat it."), set out to find it, but alas the compound within which the gasoline is kept is not only heavily guarded, but is also being laid siege to by a ruthless gang of miscreants.

Whilst this is certainly an improvement on the original movie, there are still a lot of things here that don't make sense. For starters, the motivation for every character is to end up with more fuel, yet all seem to expend an awful lot more than they need to in order to get any. Whole fleets of cars and motorbikes are sent out on scouting missions, showboating and jumping as they go, and even the compound uses a bus as a gate. If fuel is so very precious, why are they all so eager to waste it?

The costume design has progressed from the previous film, and now the rebel gang has an even greater passion for leather, bondage and ass-less chaps than Max himself. The depiction of a lawless, structureless society is well done - one of the gang's cars is a cop car, suggesting that it's not just the general population that has lost it's mind - and Max readily eats cold dog food, straight from the tin. There's better characters too, including a feral kid with a deadly boomerang (played by the brilliantly named Emil Minty), and there's some decent action and chase sequences. The epic finale, with the gang attempting to seize a petrol tanker trying to travel 2,000 miles to paradise, does get a little samey after a while, but is impressive nonetheless. The arm-mounted crossbow though is probably the least threatening weapon I've ever seen.

Fortunately, Mad Max 3: Beyond Thunderdome isn't on the list, but this one is deserving of it's place. It's by no means the greatest dystopian future survival movie, but it's still an enjoyable watch, and certainly has it's moments.

Choose film 7/10

Friday, 11 May 2012

The Eagleman Stag

Procrastination can often lead to wonderful discoveries of hidden gems, and so it was today as I put off writing a shorter review of The Avengers for my girlfriend's online magazine in favour of just generally meandering around the Internet (my full Avengers review will be here on Monday). Browsing on I found a link to a delightful stop-motion short from 2010 entitled The Eagleman Stag. Winner of the 2011 BAFTA for Best Short Animation, this monochrome rumination on life and time is breathtaking, and I dread to think how long it took to produce. Within a scant 9 minutes it contains sly humour, philosophical musings and elements of fantasy in it's depiction of significant moments in the life of an eventual taxonomist and his obsession with making moments count.

The film can be watched here, and I thoroughly recommend it.

Top 5... Movies I Should Like More

There are many things that keep me up at night, tossing and turning into the nether hours. Normally it's that I'm wasting time sleeping when there are so many other things I should be doing (I'm one of those people with a neverending To-Do List, the first 10 or so items on which are generally Write Posts), or that I'm wasting my life watching films instead of actually living. Sometimes it's my neighbours two-year-old (their second child is due in two days) or that niggling feeling at the back of my mind that I've forgotten something I've supposed to have done (more often that not: set an alarm). But now and then, I can't sleep because I'm stuck thinking why, just why, do so many people rave about a film that I just can't get my head around. This list is predominantly comprised of such movies, that the majority of movie nerds seem to love, yet for some reason or another just don't do it for me. Don't get me wrong, none of these are bad films, I've just never lifted them up to the levels of greatness so many others have.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Unlisted: Cowboys and Aliens

Apologies again for the lack of recent posts. I've been in hospital again for the past few days (where I managed to watch this film but do little else). All being well my extended medical excursions are now complete, and I can get back to watching films and writing posts. Hopefully there'll be a steady slew of posts over the next week or so, as there's about twenty from the List that I've watched recently and haven't reviewed yet. Right, back to today's feature:

With a title like Cowboys & Aliens, a certain level of expectation is accrued before watching. Along with approximately equal parts ranch hands and space travellers; their respective genres of horse opera and sci-fi melded neatly together, there surely must be a hefty dollop of fun, because the premise is more than a little ridiculous. Yes, it's just as plausible as any other alien invasion flick, for why necessarily would beings from another planet arrive in present day, but the very notion of cowboys on horseback, with lassos and pistols, taking on intergalactic creatures capable of space travel and ray guns is just insane. So whilst I'd heard mediocre reviews elsewhere of this film, I at least expected to be entertained and amused throughout.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Top 5... Movie Fish

It's Richard Jenkins birthday! But as I've seen literally only six movies I remember him being in, it wouldn't be a very fair list, especially seeing as I've yet to get to The Visitor, which is supposed to be one of his best. Apparently he's in The Core, The Man Who Wasn't There and Intolerable Cruelty, but I'm guessing they weren't major roles. (5. One Night at McCool's, 4. Step Brothers, 3. There's Something About Mary, 2. Burn After Reading, 1. The Cabin in the Woods, Worst: Hall Pass)

So instead, it's also Alexander Gould's birthday! Who? He voiced Nemo in Finding Nemo, and today he turns 18 (God I feel old). So to celebrate, let's look at some of the movie world's greatest fish, and I'll try not to take them all from Finding Nemo. Warning, this list contains spoilers.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Up in the Air

Jason Reitman's third directorial outing, after the stellar Thank You For Smoking and the good-the-first-time-you-watch-it Juno takes two done-to-death plot conceits - the business-set rom-com and road movie odd-couple - and reinvigorates them to be not only modern, but impressively timely.

Up in the Air is much more in keeping with the structure of Smoking, as we follow a successful, charming but morally dubious and emotionally detached businessman discovering that his perfect life may not be as ideal as it seems once women step a little too far into it. Previously it was Aaron Eckhart's fast-talking cigarette peddler Nick Naylor, here it's George Clooney's professional corporate downsizer Ryan Bingham, jetting around the country to fire people when their own superiors don't quite have the balls. And with the economic climate and unemployment rates where they are now, no other film could be quite so prescient.

But it isn't just that this film rings true with modern times. Clooney channels his inner Cary Grant in the role he was seemingly born to play, whilst Vera Farmiga is wonderful as his female equivalent, Alex. The real surprise though is Anna Vendrick. Formerly most famous as Bella's best friend in Twilight, here she shows real comic ability and acting prowess as Natalie, the bright young whippersnapper brought in to downsize the downsizers, aiming to revolutionise the business by doing it all online.

The cast is rounded out by some Reitman regulars, including Jason Bateman, J. K. Simmons and Sam Elliott, as well as Danny McBride, Melanie Lynskey and Zack Galifianakis, and a gaggle of non-actors portraying essentially themselves when they were fired, with Reitman instructing them to dwell on their own experiences in some moving moments.

The best scenes involve the principals just sitting down and talking. Be it Ryan and Alex comparing the weight of their loyalty cards, or Natalie learning that, as you get older, your expectations of life lessen to more realistic goals, the script is insightful, sparky and above all else funny. I was a little annoyed at seeing Sam Elliott in the opening credits, and seeing his cardboard-cutout as the Chief Pilot in an airport signposting that, at some point, his character was going to crop up somewhere, but that's another of those things that only really hurts the film nerds.  Some of the metaphors are a little heavy-handed (at one point Ryan's family literally doesn't fit into his suitcase) and the ending feels like a series of devastating gut-punches that kind of spoils the mood, but each one feels perfectly justified and necessary.

If you don't settle too deeply into the subject matter this is a fun comedy with a great script, and even if you do it's still thought-provoking and entertaining stuff. I await tracking down Reitman's latest offering, the Charlize Theron starring Young Adult, with anticipation.

Choose film 8/10

Thelma and Louise

Two girls, a turquoise 1966 T-Bird convertible, a weekend vacation at a friend's cabin up in the mountains, what could go wrong? Well, in Ridley Scott's feminist road movie, a heck of a lot, as henpecked housewife Thelma (Geena Davis) and her world-weary waitress best friend Louise (Susan Sarandon) head out from their humdrum lives on more of an adventure than they bargained for, after a run-in with a would-be rapist at a country bar of ill repute.

The titular roles could not be more different, yet both remain well rounded characters, thanks in part to the able performances by the two leads. Though it is the men that seem to shepherd our heroines on the run, they always find a way of fighting back or turning the tables, be it on Harvey Keitel's cop on their trail (assisted by Stephen Tobolowsky!), Michael Madsen as Louise's boyfriend Jimmy, Brad Pitt's first major film role as clothes-shedding hitchhiker J.D. or Christopher McDonald as Thelma's boorish husband Darryl, eager to get his wife back so she can start making his dinner again.

There's some great comedy - Darryl unable to watch his beloved football because the cops tapping his phone are too engrossed with Cary Grant in Penny Serenade - and though the story and ending may have been ruined by an overabundance of pop-culture spoofs and references, it is still a very good story. The accents begin to grate after a while, particularly Davis' pronunciation of Loo-eese, but try to look beyond that at a journey that starts with an accident, and builds to become two strong female characters exploring their own limits, surprising themselves and everyone else.

Choose film 7/10

The Class

Filmed in a real school (and mostly in a real classroom) with an unprofessional cast all playing versions of themselves, Laurent Cantet's semi-improvised near-documentary follows Mr. Marin (François Bégaudeau), a French teacher at an inner city school as he tries to connect with, further and inspire a class of 13-15 year olds. Bégaudeau co-wrote the script, and stars in his first acting role essentially playing himself, for he used to be a teacher, so it is no surpirse that his performance is wonderfully naturalistic, as are those of the multi-cultural students he presides over.