Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

October 29, 2010

I have never seen the original Wall Street film, though I have heard good things, and so was a little worried that I wouldn’t understand all the references. Fear not, for as long as you know that Michael Douglas said “Greed is good” you will be fine (unless I missed something!).

This is a film about how everyone on Wall Street is horrible, that somewhat shoots itself in the foot from the very beginning by making the main character they want you to empathise with, someone from Wall Street. In my opinion actually they first made the mistake of making that someone Shia Le Beouf. How does he keep getting jobs? In WS:MNS Shia plays an arrogant, money driven, ambitious young trader with some morals, though this generally means he’s much the same as he was in Transformers or Indiana Jones, but this time he has to wear a suit.

The film spends quite a lot of its time showing you some of the nasty side of Wall Street, though strangely, everyone Shia knows is actually really nice and caring and the bosses, apart from his one, are all pantomime villains. There are some good scenes in this to be fair, particularly the meetings between bankers and government over the bail-out, but the longer the film goes on the more caricatured the “baddy” becomes and the more you realise the trailer was very selective in showing the more action and anger based clips rather than the meetings.

Spoiler Alert!

The film’s major weakness was the ending. It was awful, one of the worst I’ve seen in ages. A happily ever after that fixed absolutely everything possible, was overly saccharine and didn’t fit the film. The villain of the piece is exposed, the romance is back on, his fiance’s business is suddenly taking off, her wayward father and his wayward mother both suddenly realise the errors of their ways and successfully get their lives back on track and are shown getting along wonderfully together at their grandson’s 1st birthday party, at which all of Shia’s former colleagues from throughout the film are suddenly really happy, playing with young children and laughing and joking with each other, which seemed odd given they were investment bankers and traders in a recession, from rival companies who had hated each other and were in danger of losing their jobs.

All of this good cheer seemed particularly bizarre given that all the top bankers (bar the one who crossed Shia who ended up in jail) were still in charge. The back stabbing crooks, who the film had made a real effort to show had basically ruined the whole country, were still controlling the banks. Obviously necessary really as this part at least is “inspired by real events” but then why have a ending so happy even Disney would be ashamed?

This film felt a bit of a mess, like it was unsure what it wanted to be. A story about the power and love of family, a documentary about power hungry bankers, a tale of redemption or an episode of Scooby-Doo. These don’t make for comfortable bed-fellows and while I wasn’t actually bored I didn’t really care. When Frank Langella’s character died, so did my interest in this film. Sadly that was less than 30 minutes in.

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Chrysalis

October 29, 2010

Chrysalis is a French sci-fi thriller I picked up cheap on Amazon whilst randomly browsing and it appealed to me in a way many Matrixesque films do but with the added bonus of being French and cheap which tipped the balance for actually making the purchase (though the film turned out not to be a Matrix clone at all).

The first thing that stands out about this film is the near constant use of a grey filter in the now seemingly mandatory style required by action led dystopian future visions ala Equilibrium. It is an effect I quite like in moderation but it was too much even for me.

The plot involves criminal gangs, shady business dealings, government intelligence agencies and a street fighting, maverick cop who just won’t give up on his case. Oh yeah, and mind altering, memory storing machines in a future Paris. The sci-fi input therefore is really more of a maguffin, though obviously memory altering does play a major part.

The film is quite stylish though not particularly high budget and on the whole the story moves along reasonably quickly with fairly obvious twists and turns. Bonus points are earned by the very impressive hand to hand fight scenes, which are some of the best “believable” action I’ve seen in a long time. On the downside there are minor sub-plots that don’t seem to be answered and I was left with a feeling of not quite having understood what was happening. The weird memory flashback edits also confused me as they showed some stuff that was still to happen as well as memory, but no mention of seeing the future was made.

On the whole this is a fairly good film that perhaps aimed a little too high and failed to achieve all that it intended but overall its successes outweigh its faults.

Books You Should Read (or so I think)

October 18, 2009

Basically this is a list of my all time, extra special, favourite books, but more than that books that I want you to read because I hope that one day they can mean as much to you as they do to me and maybe they could change your life. That sounds like a grandiose claim and it’s rather clichéd but everything should change your life a little, I just hope these are good ones. (Also there are loose rules I am using on this list i.e. one book per author though I will list other recommendations by them too)

Perdido Street Station by China Mieville (also The Scar, Iron Council, King Rat, Looking For Jake and Un Lun Dun)

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

Diamond Dogs by Alastair Reynolds (also Revelation Space, Redemption Ark etc.)

Salt by Adam Roberts (also Polystom)

1984 by George Orwell (also Animal Farm)

That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis (also Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, The Great Divorce, The Problem of Pain etc.)

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (also Xenocide, Speaker for the Dead, Children of the Mind, Traitor)

The Truth by Terry Pratchett (also all Discworld novels)

Wilt by Tom Sharpe (also Wilt on High, The Wilt Alternative, Wilt in Nowhere)

The Reality Dysfunction by Peter F. Hamilton (also The Neutronium Alchemist, The Naked God, Pandora’s Star, Judas Unchained)

Bad Science by Ben Goldacre

I will update this list as and when I think of more. You might notice a fairly heavy sci-fi leaning in the list but that’s because that’s a fair majority of what I read. Try it, you never know you might like it!