17 Dec 2015

STARWARS The Force Awakens


I liked it.

I am not going to talk about anything specific, but JJ Abrams makes this film work. The Force Awakens is definitely a Star Wars movie.  


The story is the swashbuckling adventure that fans both want and need. It is both poignant and funny in all the right places, with plenty of action. New characters are introduced and they work. Daisy Ridley, John Boyega’s performances are great and they not only fit seamlessly into the canon, but they are appealing. You care about them. The old favourites are back with a vengeance. Harrison Ford steals every scene as Han Solo, and there seemed to be a genuine affection between Solo and Leia (Carrie Fisher) which fans will find endearing.


Abram used little CGI and lots of physical sets and costumes which gave the movie a verisimilitude the prequels just did not have. He also made a film that could appeal to a younger audience without resorting to making it about kids (apparently Lucas intended to make the same mistakes he made with Episode one by focusing on children. This is Star Wars, not Goonies for space dammit!). Abrams has really focused on bringing this film, and the franchise back to its roots.

Episode VII; The Force Awakens is a story about family, the legacy of family and the impact and struggle that children can have with defining their own identity while living up to the expectation of the new generation.
My one criticism is that Abrams may have played it too safe and that at a certain point in the film it became a little predictable.

The crowd I was with seemed happy, and I think that Abrams’ has set up a successful franchise for the future. It was definitely entertaining and fun. 

18 Nov 2015



Many people are talking about Paris. First there was shock and sadness as we became aware that 129 people were killed, and more wounded. 

But not just Paris, two days before that horrible night suicide bombers in Beirut killed 43 people and wounded 249 people. 

What can I say? What can I say that hasn’t been said by more eloquent people or by those more directly involved than I?

I wasn’t going to say anything to be honest, but then I started to notice little things, like articles about how some states in America are refusing to take in any Syrian refugees because of the attacks. Articles about how if you exhibit any sympathy for Paris you are probably a narcissist, or insensitive because you do not acknowledge what happened in Beirut, or if you do you are still insensitive because, what about Africa? and the list goes on.

Here are my thoughts, for what they are worth.

A few months ago I was on my honeymoon in Paris with my beautiful wife.   We scrimped and saved and went without so we could have a dream honeymoon together, and I am pleased to say that we did have a fantastic trip. 

However after seeing where the attacks were, I realised that had the timing had been different, that could have been us. One or both of us could have killed, and that makes me think. 

 I love Paris, it is everything it promises.  I have never been to Beirut, but I know it shares a couple of things with Paris. The first was that once, in happier times, it was once known as the Paris of the Mediterranean, until it was torn apart by war. The second and most important thing Beirut shares with Paris are that it is filled with people. 43 of whom did not deserve to have their lives stolen by a couple of idiots. 

One person who died was Adel Termous, a young father of two, who tackled one of the suicide bombers and saved dozens of people when the bomber prematurely set off his bomb.


Mr Termous’ life mattered, everyone else that was killed in Beirut and Paris, their lives mattered.  If you think what happened in Beirut and Paris was horrific and you want to donate to various charities to provide assistance you can. 

What happened in the last few days is horrible and it can seem that there isn’t much we can do to help or to show we care. But we can, we can light a candle in the dark, hug our loved ones, be nice to our friends, be nicer to strangers, just be courteous is a good start.

That is why if you want to show people that you wish to show solidarity to the people of Lebanon by posting stuff on FB or twitter then do it. If you want to post a picture of peace, or prayer or whatever, then do it. Any symbol or act that shows that you care about the people in our world is a positive act. 

People may say that you are jumping on a band wagon but so what? Have you ever been on a band wagon? I haven’t but it sounds amazing. One, it’s a wagon, and who doesn’t love a good wagon. 

 Bill Watterson rocks

Two, it has a band on it! How awesome does that sound! I mean think of an awesome band, and you are on their wagon!


So let’s take a moment to care about people, and ignore those petty comments or articles that might try and sabotage you.  

On a more fun note if you are feeling a little blue from all the horror in the world watch an uplifting movie.  Here are some suggestions: 

  • The Muppet Movie
  •  Zombieland
  •  The Lion King
  • Amelie
  •  Love Actually 
  • The Breakfast Club
  • The Princess Bride
  • The Blues Brothers
  • Dirty Dancing (my wife's suggestion)
  • The Lego Movie
Just remember people matter, you matter, and as Bill, that great philosopher said “Be Excellent to each other.”






          


23 Oct 2015

The Martian



Has Ridley Scott finally made a decent Sci film? Let us see.

Synopsis:

During the manned Aries three mission to Mars, a freak storm causes the mission commander (Jessica Chastain)  to abort the mission early and leave Mars. But while the team is evacuating Mars one of the team, Botanist Mark Whately (Matt Damon), is supposedly killed. The rest of team reluctantly leave and head for Earth.

Except Mark survived the storm. After taking stock of his situation, Mark determines that he might be able to survive until the next manned mission to Mars if he can contact NASA.

Ensue Martian hijinx.



I find Matt Damon is one of those actors whose characterisations are for the most part all pretty similar regardless of his role. I don't necessarily have an issue with this, it is just if you like Matt Damon then you will enjoy this film.  The film does have a very strong ensemble cast with Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jeff Daniels, Jessica Chastain and firm favorite Sean Bean. Here's a spoiler Sean DOESN'T DIE! The supporting cast gives reasonable performances, however, the film's focus is firmly on Damon and his trials on Mars and you might find that rest of cast a little subdued. 

The Martian is a science fiction castaway story which focuses on a balance of science and politics.  While Mark Whately "Sciences the shit" out of his problems, NASA has to weigh and balance public opinion with its fragile budget.  But  I think what make The Martian work is that the film is all about problem-solving. How do I do this, or how can we make this happen. It is interesting and highly engaging, and Damon does give a good blend of drama and humour to keep it interesting. 



While the plot doesn't contain a lot of surprises the story still manages to carry tension and avoids melodrama. Mark does not have a wife and children waiting for him at home, so we thankfully avoid any cliches. As for the science, well if Neil deGrasse Tyson is on board, then that is good enough for me.  It has drama, and elements of humour and it keeps you fully entertained until the end credits.

As it is directed by Ripley Scott it is beautiful well-crafted film and as such worth seeing on the big screen. Scott effectively turns the deserts of Jordan  into the alien  face of Mars. 

I really enjoyed this film, and I think that it is worthy of the hype. 




29 Sep 2015

Chappie


It has been two months since I have written a post and I apologise to you, both my readers, for my tardiness. However, I have not been to the movies for a while as I am about to become a father.

Huzzah us!

Unfortunately as I am not independently wealthy I have had to cut back on a lot of luxuries in order to prepare for a wee mouth to feed; wine that costs more than $11, leaving the house other than to go to my public service job, and sadly, regular visits to the movies. But speaking of bringing new life in the world I just watched Chappie. 

Synopsis:

In a dystopian future the Johannesburg police department has deployed robots to help them manage skyrocketing crime (although this sounds more like a Utopia for J-berg really).  The deployment of the "Scouts" is incredibly successfully, and Devon (Dev Patel), who created the Scouts, is now looking at the next step in robotics and computing, Artificial Intelligence (A.I.).


Devon, frustrated by his employers refusal to recognise his dream, steals a broken Scout and drives off to test if his A.I. programme would work. However a gang of thieves kidnap Devon as he is leaving with the stolen Scout, in the hope that they can use him to disable the robotic police force.  Devon explains that he can’t ‘turn off the Scouts remotely’ but if he lets them activate the broken Scout with his test programme it could help them.  

Ensue Robotic hijinks.

Chappie is written and directed by Neill Blomkamp who previously brought us the magnificent District 9, and the exceedingly disappointing Elysium.  Thus it was with mixed feelings that I sat down to watch Blomkamp’s next film.  I have to say I was surprised how film drew me in. Blomkamp’s depiction of Chappie from the moment he was turned on, all the way through his development was, for a lack of a better word, enchanting. You cannot help but love Chappie. I felt the same way about Chappie as I did about Wall-E, it was hard to justify the affection I had for this childlike robot but there it was. Blomkamp’s depiction of Chappie learning and experiencing life as a new sentient being was truly inspiring.  

This was helped byYo-Landi, a gang member who even though she is a violent thief, Yo-Landi recognises that Chappie is a vulnerable child, and her maternal instincts kick in. Yo-Landi starts to love Chappie so do we as the audience.  

However while I watched and enjoyed this I couldn’t help but find this film starting to seem very familiar. Then the parallels with the 1986 film Short Circuit became more and more apparent.  If you haven’t seen it, Short Circuit is a 1986 comedy about an experimental military robot that gets hit by lightning and comes alive. Sure the premise is similar, and I can forgive that, but about a third of the way through Chappie, I felt as if I was now watching Short circuit.  


And the similarities to other films do not stop there. There is also the obvious parallel to the 1987 Sci-fi classic RoboCop, which is about a cop, who after being mortally injured has most of his body is replaced by robotic parts. But overcomes his robotic programming and regains his humanity. Sure, this is a little familiar, but not that similar. However the bad guy in RoboCop (well one of them) was a big merciless robot known as the Ed-209. The bad guy in Chappie is Devon’s rival at Tetravaal, Vincent Moore (Hugh Jackman). Vincent is an ex-soldier turned engineer who has developed a huge robotic drone, the Moose, to be deployed by the police.  The Johannesburg’s Police, though, are happy with the Scouts and feel that Moore’s Moose is to over powered (it can shoot down planes.) The thing is the Moose bears a striking resemblance to the Ed-209.
ED-209
 
Moose


Now all of these are slightly minor criticisms. Of course a movie about a robot policeman becoming sentient is going to be compared to any movie about robots. Is the Moose modelled after the Ed-209? Probably, and while Chappie’s similarities to both these films is more than obvious and a little jarring it is not it’s biggest problem.

Blomkamp is a great action director and his sympathetic portrayal of Chappie is simply marvellous. However his focus on Chappie’s story come at the expense of most of the other characters. Dev Patel is a simple two dimensional caricature of Chappie's creator. Patel is a great actor and his talent is simply squandered. The same goes for Sigourney Weaver. Michelle is a bit part, and apart from attaching Weaver’s name to the movie there seems little point from her being in it. Which is a crime really, as Weaver is a good actress who gets no scope or opportunity to show it.

Hugh Jackman is the same. His character, Moore, seems lacking, and his motivations confused and simple. He resents Devon because of the Scout's success at the expense of the Moose, sure, but given the current climate and scientific debate about the future deployment of Robots in combat situations over human controlled drones I feel that Blomkamp missed a major thematic opportunity here. 

That aside Moore’s Moose is a ridiculously overpowered weapon with little practical application in urban police work, but it seems perfect for the military. It seems weird and stupid that a company that specialises in manufacturing weapons doesn’t think to approach the military with the Moose? "Hey boss I have created his heavily weaponised drone that can level a medium sized town. Let's make it a policeman!" Chappie also suffers from villain overload, with Moore and Hippo vying for the top spot, with Hippo becoming quickly irrelivant to the plot. 

The end, which I will not discuss here,  makes no sense at all. Thematically or logically. Yes the premise of the film asks us to suspend our disbelief with Robots and A.I., which we do because the narrative gives us a world in which we can believe this is the reality. However the end goes completely off the reservation buth plot wise and thematically. 

Blomkamp made what could have been a great film about A.I. and sentience and also compassion and then ruins it by bringing up the theme of what is consciousness? It is almost like he didn’t know quite know how to end the movie at all.

While it starts strong and Blomkamp depiction of Chappie is probably the best example of the genre ever, the movie suffers from plot holes, wasted actors and a ludicrous finale.


Four Monkeys. 

8 Jul 2015

Fury, or how I felt when I watched this film


Brad Pitt stars in and produces this David Ayer movie about a tank crew in World War II. I was not going to write a review about this movie as I watched it ages ago on a flight to London. However now it has appeared in the DVD stores (my first instinct was to write video store) I feel I should.

Warning this review contains spoilers.

Synopsis:

It is 1945, and Sergeant Don 'Wardaddy' Collier (Brad Pitt) and his crew operate a Sherman tank in the final push to Berlin. Even though the Nazi's are losing the war, the allied tanks are still suffering terrible losses against the superior enemy tanks. After a recent battle Don lost a member of his crew who has been replaced by Norman (Logan Lerman), a young green soldier who was trained in administration. Don has to bring Norman up to speed to ensure the success of the mission and safety of his crew.

Fury feels like a cross between Saving Private Ryan  and Inglorious Bastards. But it can't quite reach the heroism of Ryan, or be as entertaining as Tarantino's Bastards. Instead, you have a group of characters who you have little sympathy for, with suspect and highly ludicrous motives.


Norman's first experience in combat is to (unsurprisingly) freak out. When he is ordered to shoot a lot of bodies, he panics and freezes. Determined to make a man out of Norman, Don forces Norman to murder an unarmed German prisoner of war. I imagine the scene was to add some 'grit' to film, or to show how even good men do bad things for the greater good, or maybe a visualisation of the "horrors of war". But it was just a pointless murder.

Next the crew enter a town which is controlled by child soldiers and their merciless SS masters. The inclusion of child murdering SS officer is a feeble distraction to the vile thugs inside the tank. Ayer hopes that by presenting the audience with a more horrible person that Wardaddy and his murderous and rapey crew will seem more heroic. They don't.

There is also a weird scene in a village where after the allies 'liberate' it from the SS, the US soldiers go on a bit of a rampage. Don decides to take Norman through another initiation  of manhood. He takes the young soldier into the home of a pair of young women. There he sets up house and has a shave. Then after some fear and awkwardness Don says to Norman, referring to a young German girl,  "If you don't take her into that bedroom, I will".  I suppose this is meant to be a scene where Don is seen to be civilised man and a father figure to Norman. And for killing a bunch of Germans as they entered the village, Norman now gets to have a girl as a reward. However no matter how the film portrays this scene, Brad Pitt's character is threatening to take the girl if Norman doesn't!  While the girl pulls Norman into the bedroom, does she really have a choice? To compound this the rest of the crew turn up angry that they were not invited to this party. One of the crew tells a weird rambling story about killing horses while the there is a palatable tension reminiscent of the rape scene in  Deliverence.  It is a horrible scene and highlightsthe characters vileness. 

Oddly the highlight of this field trip of nastiness is Shia Labeouf! Yes he is the solid moral compass of the group, and also gives a stand out performance. The best thing about Fury is his character. I think that says a great deal.  The other highlight is a tank battle between four US Sherman tanks, and one German Tiger tank. The scene was exciting and well shot. I am not sure that it was very accurate, but it was great action. 



The final scene is a battle between Don and his now broken tank and a large company of elite Nazi soldiers. It is ludicrous and tiresome. I remember reading Commando comics as a young boy which were based on more feasible outcomes. The elite Nazi forces, shown to be armed with specific anti tank weapons  decide to battle the immobile tank by  apparently packing away their anti tank weapons and then running in a column towards the main guns over and over again. It is only after most of the Nazi's are killed that the decide to take out the antitank weapons and use them ineffectively at a large stationary object. 

I found the movie to be stupid, cliched, ludicrous, but most of all horrible. It was just a tiresome piece of  theatre which failed on almost every level. 

Two Monkeys from me

22 Jun 2015

Jurassic World




Great Freya's braids another sequel? According to the Den of Geek there are currently 139 movie sequels in the works.

Yes the studio in it's infinite wisdom is carrying on the Jurassic Park Franchise with Jurassic world. Although now that I have seen the film I have to admit that Jurassic World is different from most movies which are number four in a franchise.

Jurassic world is great!

Let me give you a synopsis.

It is has been twenty years since the first film. Ingen (the company behind Jurassic Park) has taken control of the islands and has been successfully running Jurassic World, a living breathing dinosaur theme park for the whole family.  But while the company has finally realised John Hammond's original dream, the world is now used to the spectacle of "real" dinosaurs. The park is losing money slowly, and in an attempt to bring in more visitors to the park, Ingen has decided to make their own dinosaurs. Bigger, and scarier than any nature could make.

What could possibly go wrong?


Enuse screaming and bloody hi-jinx!

Jurassic World is  marvellously fun. And while the movie has come under a lot of criticism  about the way dinosaurs are depicted, the movie is unapologetic. It is explained that the dinosaurs in the park are genetically designed to appeal to the public, and have been made to a look a certain way to boost the company's profits.  Given that this is made quite clear in the movie I don't really undertsand the criticisms about the movie. The whole premise of the story is that the company is playing god with genetics for profit, not science. 

Like any classic sci-fi movie, the ironic warning about man meddling with science to his detriment (read monsters eating people) has been the over all theme of the Jurassic Park franchise. Certainly with the first movie. However, despite the re-appearance of the wonderful Sam Neil (yes I have a cultural bias here), the franchise severly lost it's way with the third installement (dumb Spinosaur) . 

But like Batman BeginsJurassic World  succesfully breathes life into a dying idea.  But unlike Batman it doesn't start from scratch, it recaptures all the brilliance of the first film. Jurassic World is  a homage to Jurrasic Park.  And unashamadly so. In fact if you want to go see Jurassic World,  I seriously suggest you watch  Jurrassic Park  before you do, so you can see and appreciate all the little nods to the first film. 



To sum up, the movie is a giant blockbuster spectacle with Dinosaurs and Chris Pratt. It is funny, scary and full of redemption. If you loved Jurrasic Park  go see Jurassic World   on the big screen. And take the kids because who doesn't like dinosuars devouring people!

Seven and a half Monkeys from me.

28 May 2015

FURY ROAD



In 1979 the first Mad Max film rocketed onto our screens. An Australian grindhouse cult classic set in a dystopian future where lawlessness prevailed over the attempts of the road warriors to keep the peace. Next was Mad Max 2 in 1981 where the world has moved on from social collapse to a full on post nuclear apocalypse wasteland, and then Beyond the ThunderDome in '85 continued Max’s story.  Twenty years later and with Tom Hardy as Max we get the next instalment of Max’s adventures.
Some spoilers follow....
Synopsis
Max is captured by a desert culture run by a warlord known as Imortan Joe. Joe has access to a reservoir of water which he uses to control the local people. The majority of the population are dying of radiation exposure due to the historical nuclear war, and Joe hopes to breed a healthy legacy with a large harem of girls he has imprisoned. One of his warlords Imperator Fury (Thoron) recuses some of Joe's “brides”  and escapes into the wasteland. Joe, desperate to have his property back sends out his army of ‘war-boys’  packed into a high octane vehicles.  Nux (Holt) is a sickly war Boy and is using  Max’s using Max as a living blood bag, to keep himself alive. Not wanting to be left out of the bloody flaming glory that awaits, Nux straps Max to the front of his  car and joins the war boys in trying to stop Furiosa, and bring Joe back his brides.  After losing the main war band in a massive desert storm. Max escapes Nux and joins up with Furiousa.

Ensue a visual assault full of hijinks
At first glance the plot of Fury road appears to be very similar to Mad Max 2. While both films centred around a war band of post-apocalyptic raiders chasing Max as he tries to escape in a truck through the desert,  the films are really quite different.  While Mad Max 2 (or the road warrior in some countries) was a straight forward narrative,  Fury Road has a subtext. Furiosa’ s liberation of Joe’s brides and eventual redemption reflects how women can escape abuse and take control of their own lives. Over the course of the film the brides have escaped their fate as chattels for the purpose of breeding to become free.  I can see how this film is empowering to women, especially any that have been the target of abuse, bullies or other scumbags.

However while Fury Road has that subtext it is also a wild and wonder assault on the senses. Writer and Director George Miller has created a highly stylised film full of non stop action. In a way it is every film Michael Bay has wanted to make, but can't because he has too many hang ups and tries too hard.  Mad Max Fury Road is utterly relentless in it's pace and story. I think the best analogy is if Jack Black made a live action version of wacky racers set in the world of his game Brutal Legend!


I must admit I was horrified when I first heard about this film. But that was when I thought this was a terrible remake. It isn't. It is the same writer and director that brought you Max, and he is continuing Max's adventures in the best possible way. Tom Hardy is a great Max, and he has signed up for more movies.  Fury Road  will stun you, and possible make you wonder if you had a good time, or you just got carjacked.


I say both!

8 Monkeys

20 May 2015

Mean Teddies rocks!


In an age where the remake is standard fair many of my friends ask me the same question "have people run out of ideas?"

My answer is no, but with the ever constant fear of failure, studios often go with what they see as a safe bet. Much in the same way as our free to air TV is flooded with Reality TV.  This is reflected in the many sequels and remakes that are in production currently. The remake of Gremlins for example.

But all is not lost, while cruising the Internet I found this cool short animated film created by Tyler Novo, on Jake Vipers cool site Epicstream




There are artists out there creating, and while they create we will always have cool things to watch and enjoy.

I love it and hope you do too.

16 May 2015

Avengers 2


Controversial, classic, and a reasonable sequel.


The Marvel series of films has, for the most part, been highly successful. The Avengers series has taken a group of comic book superheroes and created not only one successful franchise, but successful franchises for the individual members of the Avengers team (excluding Black Widow and Hawkeye who the studio have not felt fit to give them their own movies). This is the second of the Avengers films.

Please note there are some small spoilers.


Synopsis
Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow, Hawkeye and Thor are officially the Avengers team, battling bad guys around the world. During a mission fighting HYDRA in the fictional eastern bloc country of  Sokovia, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) AKA Iron Man has a spell placed on him by the Scarlett Witch, who with her brother Quicksilver, are fighting the Avengers.
Tony has a vision that the Avengers will be killed and he is responsible.  With that vision firmly in his mind he  wants to develop a self-aware  super android who can replace the Avengers, and thus ensure Earth's safety.  Sadly, like Dr Victor Frankenstein before him, his dream goes awry and Ultron turns out not to be Earth's saviour, but the vehicle of its destruction.  Only the Avengers can defeat Ultron, but Ultron creates rifts in the team which might not be able to be healed.
Dun dun DUN!

I am not sure as to how true this story is to the comic books, but from my understanding the current line-up of Avengers is not the classic line up. With the introduction of new characters such as Vision and the Scarlett Witch, Avengers 2 is a return to the fundamental ‘historical’ avengers of the Comics. The whole film as more of a comic feel to it as well with the cinematography of the major fight sequences.
Wheldon has tried to right the imbalance with Hawkeye and Blackwidow by giving them a sizable part of the story over Thor and Captain America. I liked this and it fleshed out the two characters for me.  Also it was clear that Whedon intended to kill Hawkeye as soon as you were introduced to his wife and family. Whedon was setting Hawkeye up like Goose from TopGun, who got cooked later on.  How that plays was clever, but may leave hearts broken.

The script retains some of the humour from the first film to counter the drama. The moment between Captain America and Thor was very well done.  James Spader as the voice of Ultron was cool, he was the perfect choice as the villain and despite being just a voice brought a nice presence to his scenes.
All in all the film was a good sequel, and set the ground work to continue the franchise(s) onward.  However I am unsure what Avengers 3 will be about or look like. If there is a new set of Avengers I will not be as keen to see it. I am simply not invested in those characters.

7 monkeys.

15 May 2015

I'm ba-ack

Well yes slacky McSlackerson is back.  A hiatus due to taking my beautiful wife to Europe on our Honeymoon and then suffering with post Honeymoon doldrums (this is a real thing by the way not like Smurfs, Fibromialgia or the trickle down effect.) and general laziness has lead to a lack of posts.


But I am back and will soon post my opinion about the new Avengers movie. But to tide you over until then here is a picture of a comic that I think I can get my teeth into!


Yes according to this post Dark Horse comics have created this wonder of the modern age. I for one will be looking out for it. 

And for the record I always preferred Betty. 



5 Mar 2015

Bayghazi or Fifty

Movies are a wonderful medium to convey ideas. Through spectacular visuals, evocative music and sound, a well written and intelligent movie can do more than entertain us. We can be moved, and inspired. We can love, hate, laugh and cry. Sometimes all from the same film. A great film can be more than fun, it can enrich us.



Important films tackle important events or issues, social, political, cultural or historical. They can shine lights on dark places, or educate us through empathy and informed dialogue. This is what  films can do. However we all know that some films are simply tell an entertaining story, and that is very important too.

Today I am not going to be disccussing either of these sorts of movie. 


American Sniper was a popular film. No let me rephrase that. American Sniper was a successful movie. I have not seen it, but by all accounts it was well crafted and had great performances from Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller. However while many liked the film and saw it as a man who had blind faith in a cause at the expense of his family, it has also been equally criticised for being a fairy tale account of the Iraqi war and the man the film depicts. Some of my friends who have seen said the film said that it made them angry about it being a propaganda piece and a justification for the Iraqi invasion. 

Personally I can’t really comment as I have not seen it.

On 11 September 2012, a large group of militants attacked the US compound in Benghazi, Libya, and a second US compound nearby. Four men were killed including U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. The events of those events still resonate through American politics today. 

When studios or big producers see a formula then they quickly capitalise on it.The financial success of American Sniper is instrumental in events like Benghazi being made into a movie. If American Sniper was, at best, a high dramatized version of real events, then what can we expect to see with the upcoming two (yes two) films about Benghazi. Obviously people have decided to make movies about the tragic events of that day, and who will be creating a film about this unfortunate event? Well the Hollywood Reporter writes that there are two people who have purchased the rights so far, and they are.....
  1. Michael Bay
  2. Dana Brunetti
You are probably still reeling from the prospect of Bumble Bee and Optimis Prime battling with Libyan Militants to wonder who Dana Brunetti is? If you just clicked on the link you have just learnt that Mr Brunetti is one of the people that brought you  Captain Phillips  and Fifty Shades of Grey. 

Wicked!

Michael Bay has experience with depictions of historical events. He previous created his highly successful 'version' of the attack on Pearl harbour, and I see no reason why he won't treat the events at Benghazi in September 2012, with the same respect. Although now that he is more successful and influential, I can definitely envision that the Libyan Militants are actually members of the foot clan who are ruled over by Shredder aka Megatron.

Of course if you feel that you want a depiction of Bayghazi (working title) with less Giant Robots ( I know the concept of less giant robots seems insane, but consider Transformers 3), then perhaps we can consider the alternative?
It is Optimus Prime with a sword riding a dragon! How can this not be cool? Oh wait they Bay'd it. 

The more human story of a young female intern, Bella Swan, no Anna Steele, no Um Betty Iron, being taken hostage by a cool charismatic vampire, no um Businessman Um no I mean Militant leader. After he takes her hostage he shows her his dangerous world of sadomasochistic ideologies. But Bella DAMMIT, I mean Betty cracks through that cold exterior and releases love and exposes his humanity to the world. And then I guess he kills the ambassador? I understand that the fan fiction I mean screen play is under way now. 

Fifty Twilights of Benghazi makes more sense to me as a story. I mean you have a stalkerish misogynistic male character monitoring and trying to control the female characters every movement and there will be cables ties!



So the first story is going to be brought to you by a man whose concept of inventive narrative is a petrol bomb, and has the overt agenda of destroying the childhood of an entire generation. The second man brought you the creative retelling of a Captain Blighesque character into a sympathetic and empathetic hero, and in a innovative sweep provided audiences with a movie that was simultaneously creepy and disturbing while at the same time ludicrously cheesy and boring. To be fair that take some talent.

So yay boom crash yawn.  I suspect that one or both of these films will be released just in time for the 2016 US presidential election. Given Hilary Clinton's position as Secretary of State at the time of the attack in Bangahzi, these films will be an interesting foil to her campaign. Although it could backfire and make her look like a genius. Who knows?  

I am probably making a big call but I suspect that despite the events behind these films neither of them will convey any important evocative messages, or even be entertaining.  

But do not dispair, do not frown. Help is on the way. 

and here it is! and this!

Ok I am off to Europe this weekend with my wonderful and darling wife.  We intend to eat drink and be awesome. Thus I will be away for a while so please watch films, watch great films. And if you can't watch great films, watch dumb movies that are so bad they are awesome with your friends.  

And to all those who read this, I hope that every day you watch something, or read something that makes you be or feel awesome. 

28 Feb 2015

LLAP


 Leonard Nimoy has passed away at 83. Nimoy was a writer, director, poet, photographer, singer (of sorts) and last, but not least, actor.

He appeared to me to be a gentile man, who was enthusiastic about his work and his fans. Of course he is best know for his iconic role as Spock in Star Trek,  and also for writing one of the readings at my wedding. He may not have had intended that poem for my wedding, but I am sure he would not have minded.


"My folks came to the US as immigrants, aliens, and became citizens. I was born in Boston, a citizen, went to Hollywood and became an alien."

Nimoy seemed to have a certain gravitas and cool that he retained despite who was sharing the screen with. But he was certainly more than a on screen presence. He had a masters degree in Education, and his writing was sensitive and insightful and witty. No doubt a reflection of the man himself.

Here is his final tweet:

A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP

Leonard Nimoy leaves behind a wife, two children, six grand children, and a horde of saddened friends and loyal fans.  

22 Feb 2015

A selection of DVDs

Having just watched episode one of Vikings, (which if you have not watched yet you should) I thought I had better catch up on my blog. 


Huzzah!
My lovely lady and I had a night in and watched a few DVDs.  

Calvary (not Cavalry)
Calvary is John McDonagh's new film. He previously wrote and directed The Guard, starring Brendan Gleeson.   I really enjoyed the wit and style of The Guard, and when I saw that McDonagh had a new film starring Brendan GleesonChris O'DowdKelly Reilly, and Dylan Moran, I could not wait to watch this new and clever Irish comedy. 

I was horribly horribly wrong! 

Calvary is dark reflection of modern Ireland. The film takes place in a small Irish coastal town, which is plagued by unemployment, and what businesses remain face the threat of foreclosure by the banks. Gleeson plays Father James, a good priest who struggles to hold  his community together as they question the purpose of the Church in modern times. James is also trying to reconnect with his suicidal daughter. On top of all that a man has threatened to kill him in seven days time. 

Gleeson is excellent, and while his journey is bleak it is still a wonderful film. McDonagh may paint a depressing picture of modern Ireland, but it is still a work of love. The film is highlighted by Ireland's natural beauty, and at it's core Calvary is a film of hope.  But only after great sacrifice. 


I completely recommend it, but do not make the same mistake I did, that just because a film stars an ensemble cast of great comedians, that it is a comedy. I suspect that misreading the title was instrumental.


 Magic in the Moonlight

The most recent film by Woody Allen. With the success and acclaim of Midnight in Paris, Allen's new film is set in the roaring Twenties and stars Colin Firth, and Emma Stone. Firth plays an accomplished stage magician who spends his free time unmasking frauds and spiritualists. His friend Howard comes to him with the tale of a young girl (Stone) who Howard believes might be the real thing. Stanley travels to the south of France to investigate this girl before she marries the son of a wealthy American family. 
No Emma I am not jumping in the bloody fountain. 

Stone and Firth carry this film in their performances. Firth follows Allen's frenetic directing style of leading men well, but remains sympathetic. Firth did a really excellent job, and was the perfect choice as Stanley. The scenes are colourful and romantic and Allen uses the beauty of the South of France to every advantage.  

At it's best Magic in the Moonlight is a light and whimsical romantic comedy that is simple fun. I am not really a fan of Allen's films, and I didn't overly enjoy it. But if you are a fan of Woody Allen, you probably find it charming and fun. Certainly after the heavy drama of Calvary, my lady definitely needed a film like this. 

Dracula Untold

This movie is the origin story of the infamous Count Dracula, before he was a vampire he was a prince. But Dracula Untold  is neither a horror nor a historical film.  Luke Evans plays Prince Vlad Tepes who balances the welfare of his people with the demands of The Ottoman Empire. Young Vlad was taken hostage by the Turks, and raised by them until he returns home. This is of course pretty much true. However there are several departures from the real Vlad Tepes history.

But I am not going to discuss the historical inaccuracies because this is not an historical film. What it is is a simple attempt at an origin story. With such an iconic character the creators were really taking a risk with this story, and I don't think it paid off.  The story was average and undeserving of the real
Vlad, and the Count.

The appeal of this film is solely in its cast. Luke Evans outstripped the script and story as the young prince determined to save his people at any cost, and once his shirt was off, his abilities were obvious. Glib comments aside he really was very good. Charles Dance, who is making the most of his time on Game of Thrones, camps it up with an enjoyable performance as the monster. Dominic Cooper as the evil Turkish prince also looks like he is having fun.



As entertainment it was fine, simple movie fun. The cast were good, the action and cgi effects were entertaining. I imagine that devoted fans of history or Dracula might not agree, but over all it was OK Yes the story was average and could have been much better, and Dracula Untold won't win any Oscars, but if you want to just relax and switch off . and it might keep you from having to watch Jack and Jill  which can only be a good thing.