Archive for February, 2009

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

February 21, 2009

CCBB, as I shall refer to it here, is another darling of the current awards judges. Even if I hadn’t known that before I went in it would soon have been obvious that it would be as you watch the film. There are the interesting and varied characters from all walks of life, who are still all have hearts of gold under their various rough exteriors. There is a tale of a life that was touched by others and touched back. A story of disability fought, of love overcoming great odds, courage in battle and life in general, all with great historic events as a back drop and some obscure tale unrelated tale running parallel as some kind of commentary.

This had multi-oscar winner written all over it and as such I was ready to lash out in hatred and bile just automatically. However I have to say that it wasn’t that bad really. It went on forever though, and for the majority of it Brad Pitt had minimal make-up on i.e. was between the ages of 25 to 50 and the fact he was living backwards could quite easily have been forgotten. Much of this section was a little dull, it must be said. The beginning 45 minutes or so were interesting up until he ended up in Russia when it went downhill and didn’t really pick up until the overly quick ending. Another problem I had was with the now overused and somewhat clunky use of the narrator reading a memoir in a hospital. This added virtually nothing to the story apart from 20 minutes or so which could happily have been cut from the mammoth running time.

However the film was good in parts and generally well acted. If you like the other sentimental films of similar genres, particularly the likes of Titanic, Forest Gump and other such you will like this film. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lot better than Titanic but it’s not my kind of thing. Sorry.

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Doubt

February 21, 2009

Before I describe in some detail why I disliked this film (which I guess should have a spoiler warning!!)  I should say some points in its favour. It is very well acted by everyone in the cast. There isn’t a single weak performance, though I found Amy Adams did slowly more unbelievable the more of her you saw. It is also fairly well directed which is why I can understand why it is up for awards, however I won’t be watching it ever again.

This is because I was bored. Really quite bored for the majority of the film. Obviously with a title like Doubt you expect uncertainty and unfinished business, but that kind of thing needs to be done very carefully and this just didn’t balance it well enough. As Mark Kermode pointed out in his review, the level of doubt shown in this film isn’t really particularly high. Quite soon in the film the main area of doubt is brought to light and, while there is no real proof either way, it seems quite obvious which side is right, and from then on the film seems to be more about a search for evidence. Fair enough you say, that’s often how detective stories run, but rarely in detective stories do they tell you in the title that the case won’t be solved!

Also for a film called Doubt and set in a religious setting there was basically no religious content. I’m not asking for evangelism or anything like that but doubt in a religious context can give a really powerful story on a human level. As it was there was basically no Christian content above being nice to people, and it portrayed Catholics as belonging to basically 3 groups. People who go to mass but don’t care otherwise, people who are anti-women and potentially homosexually kiddie fiddlers and people who believe all modern inventions are evil and that are so stuck in tradition that they won’t help others in danger except through the rigid channels provided by the church. Now there probably are these people in the church, particularly of the first catagory, but not a single character in this film, with the exception of Amy Adams, was likeable, and even Amy was all wishy-washy, ‘everyone’s nice really’.

Basically, if you’ve seen the trailer you know about the story, and unless you have an interest in behind the scenes life in a 1950’s American convent school I can think of little reason in the story to watch this film. Phillip Seymour Hoffmann is brilliant as always and the others no doubt deserve their nominations for awards, I only wish they could have been in a more interesting film.

Underworld: Rise of the Lycans

February 10, 2009

This film didn’t have much to live up to following the appalling rubbishness of Underworld: Evolution. I actually liked the first one quite a lot though repeated viewing has tired me. Rise of the Lycans explores the back story of the series and though someone told me they thought it was the best of the series so far I have to differ. It is certainly better than Evolution but the first one still reigns supreme for me.

The story of Rise of the Lycans is covered in a couple of small flashbacks in the original and frankly there wasn’t much more that needed to be said. Basically I think your choice of favourite Underworld film comes down to a very simple choice. If you prefer automatic weapons choose 1, for swords and crossbows choose 3. If you have severe bad taste in film problems then choose 2.

P.s. I recently found out the huge scary black guy who plays a werewolf in the films and only really grunts, actually wrote the scripts… weird!

Slumdog Millionaire

February 10, 2009

Ok so by now everyone knows this is not really a feel good film, at least not all the way through, though there are several light hearted sections. This film was great and I think probably the best film I have blogged about so far. The style of using who wants to be a millionaire to go through his life was well thought out and conveniently the questions linked into his life in a chronological order, but then thats films for you.

It certainly reminded me in places of City of God, an awesome film about life in Brazil’s favella slums, but Slumdog is certainly more upbeat, not that that would be hard. I know basically nothing about the life of the poor in India and from what I’ve heard there is a real basis of truth in the film’s depiction of this. This poverty running alongside the richness of certain individuals and the shiny cleanliness of the TV studio highlighted the suffering but also the happiness of the film. You have to see this if you haven’t already.

The Reader

February 10, 2009

Whoops. It’s catch up time again. I saw the Reader a couple of weeks ago and it’s now won awards and everything. I’m not surprised it’s won some awards really cos it was a pretty good film, though I think I would have expected the young man to win awards more than Kate “naked again” Winslet. The last film I saw her in I think was Titanic which sucked but won lots of awards and she was in the buff in that too… is there a link?

Frankly the scenes with Kate revealing all in the Reader are virtually pornographic full on sex scenes which I thought were unnecessary and could have been covered in a similar style to the old “hand on a steamy window” motif from her previous work. Really it’s the second half of the film which is best and that had me gripped, so overall its worth seeing though probably not with your parents.