Monday, 23 February 2015

Oscars 2015 LIVE BLOG AND STUFF! (thought i'd be too lazy but nah).


01.18. No red carpet shenanigans from me this year sadly troopers. a) because i needed some sleep, preparation for life beyond Kodak and b) because i love everyone and i truly believe everyone looks beautiful and stuff.


Emma Stone. First Pic. The stars aligned. She'll rip me a new one for not blogging the red carpet. Whilst stoned.

01.25. I don't know if I prefer Winkledawg or Alex Zane. I've decided. Actually I prefer the woman who's on the panel who doesn't know anything about film. Because she "loves fashion". Long night ahead.

01.30. We're going to be talking about Nightcrawler when the evening finished. Coz t'was robbed. But yes, Boyhood.

01.32. Best and whitest. Loving NPH already. 


01.35. Jack Black was made for the Oscar ceremony. DELLLL TAAAAACCCCOOOO. 

01.40.

Blogging is difficult from a phone. Bad decision. Best Supporting Actor to JK Simmons is about to be announced. Usually JK Simmons wins these. That was a jk. Loved Ed Norton, but loved JK Simmons even more!

And the actor goes to...I mean Oscar....I mean Lupita!


01.50. 20 minutes in, 1 award handed out. So that means this will finish at 2pm tomorrow. Problematic. That's ok though because Maroon 5 are on stage to allow me to...

01.51-01.54. zzz


01.56. I'M UP. I think let's do some technical categories please! Achievement in Button Sewing. Or Costume Design. I'll not demean. Has to be GBH doesn't it?!

Yes, the Grand Budapest checks in.

02.01. GBH takes Make-up and Hairstyling too. Mainly based on Adrian Brody's nonce in this picture. That was nutso. I dream to achieve such horizontally challenged madness one day...

02.10. The Best Foreign Language Film category this year is really strong..happy with Ida or Leviathan but Ida should win. And does. On a related note, why is there a bosanova/jazz backdrop to the collecting of this award? So so random. And pretty patronizing. LOVE THIS SPEEECHHHH! Two swells and still going on!

02.15. WELCOME TO THE SUCK.

02.18. Cotillard is EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!!!!!!!!!


As i was saying, Cotillard is transcendence. Not Johnny Depp, transcendence, because that would mean she would be laughingly cerebral and the third act of her life would be confusing and pointless but the other kind of transcendence.

Anyway.


DARKKKNESS.
NO FAMILY!!

02.25. Someone needs to create a Vine of Kerry Washington's walk to the podium. It's world changing. Live Action Short and Documentary Short. I watch so many films each year I should make time to watch more shorts. The Phone Call takes Live Action Short and Crisis Hotline for the Documentary Short.

Hayao Miyazaki received an honorary Oscar.  I'll just take the fact that millions of people just saw the catbus for the first time ever.


02.46. The sound categories! Is this where I get to say INTERSTELLAR, I COULDN'T HEAR ANYTHING! Whiplash was made for sound mixing..and editing too actually so should win that one too except it's not nominated so gunfire, strategically placed, takes it. 

02.52. Actress in a Supporting Role. This is Patricia Arquette all the way and rightly so. Although whenever Laura Dern turns up in life one can be happy.



Yay L'Arquette FTW (and a standing ovation). And that was before her brilliant speech. Love this woman, lefty feminist rants are the best. P.S. It was https://www.givelove.org. 

03.00. Beyond the Lights. Was a Best Actress nomination in there somewhere. It's ok though because we have Rita Ora to take us through the next few minutes instead. 

03.01. zzz (part 2). where's amazing amy to slit this thing. Weirdly this Oscars seems more relaxed but less risky and out there which considering how safe the previous have been is saying something...maybe we need a Will Ferrell /John C Reilly duet to perk things up.

03.04. Interstellar's visuals were stunning so it should win and...does.

03.07. I've seen the animated shorts!! that makes me a film snob and more the makes up for live action short braindeadness. Loved the animation for Feast. 

The winner is...Feast. Woah I should've put some dollars down on these predictions. Although I could've had an extra 2 hours sleep if I knew I'd be 100% so far. But then again I would've missed Channing Tatum play with a Lego Oscar.

Talking of Lego...

03.10. The Best Animated Feature. If Isao Takahata comes up on the stage I will wake up everyone in this building. But Lego Movie will win. 

Yep it was Big Hero 6. Looking forward to watch it. Still 100%. Supposedly really good so shouldn't be downplayed.


03.21. Best Production Design. Going out on a limb here...Grand Budapest Hotel perhaps? Although Mr Turner's set design was an epochal and subtle wonder.

03.25. The first really interesting category tonight. Cinematography. Wonder if Lubezki will win again..I say yes! But wouldn't be surprised if this is on the GBH train again. Nah Chivo wins it! Two years in a row. He's the best around. Should've won for a few others too...Tree of Life especially.


03.31. Streep introducing the In Memoriam segment.



03.44. Whiplash takes it for Best Editing. Probably an incorrect stat but doesn't the Best Editing award pretty much always guarantee Best Picture?! Whiplash winning would be absolutely insane.

03.51. Documentary Feature. Citizenfour. Was pretty much the biggest doc out there this year. And really good too. Shout out to 'Life Itself' the documentary on Roger Ebert which wasn't nominated but was my fave of the year (and so I can mention it!).

Did he just say Best Original Sauce? I think so.

04.00. Great staging for 'Glory'. Last song I think before the...nope Gaga next. This year's show is feeling really long compared to normal. Yawn.




04.06. Woah emotional and funny moments there. A decent NPH joke followed a teary Selma cast, Pine, a standing ovation for a song and then Travolta back on stage with.......Idina Menzel. Hilarity ensues. 'Glory' wins Best Original Song and livens the night up.


04.14. I don't want to watch a Sound of Music montage :s. Now Gaga is performing. Seriously what the bloody hell is going on Isaacs? Did someone die in the cast? Is there a new version on Broadway sponsored by AMPAS? Don't care. Don't care. Don't ruddy care. Gaga is dressed in a formal dress tonight not made of meat, or not in some sort of quail egg. A minor victory. For some reason she gets a standing ovation. OHHHH ITS BECAUSE JULIE ANDREWS IS ONLY PRESENTING BEST ORIGINAL SCORE. Love it when it adds up. Pure sexual tease there.

Let's face it, hollywood needs its grand dame Brits.

04.24. After all that...I love the Interstellar soundtrack. Bombastic. But Desplat did some fine work too. Who wins for GBH. Imitation Game is going home empty handed. Desplat was always going to win for something.

04.30. Big 6 coming up!

Eddie gives it up straight for Best Original Screenplay. I'd like to see Nightcrawler win this but obviously love Boyhood. Birdman takes it...awesome film but I'm feeling the Boyhood non love now. Which is sad. For me anyway.

04.34. Best Adapted Screenplay. Again another annoyance here. Gillian Flynn not being nom'd for her adaptation for her own novel, Gone Girl, is silly. Haven't a clue what will win this. Probably The Imitation Game. Yes. Still 100% in my predix coz I'm a G yo. Really hoped that team would at least get one award.

Yet another wonderful speech. Had a few tonight. In other news, if I had enough devices id have taken at least 10 photos of...

Julianne Moore's Tears. More valuable than the tears of the last unicorn on Earth. 

04.41. BEST DIRECTOR. Please be Linklater. Please. Please. Please. Please.


Inarritu. Great filmmaker. Well done to him. I think the Academy had the opportunity to award a rare acheivement in film history but it didn't so that's that.

04.49. Actor in a Leading Role. Redmayne's to lose but Birdman is on a role. Still think it's Redmayne's though.


And so it be.

04.54. The award for Best Julianne Moore goes to (it's a repeat joke, you know like what I did earlier, time is a flat circle don't you know).

Wait, McConnaisance is on stage.


One of the best actors in the game for years. Finally wins one. Fist bump emoji. 

05.04. And on this note I say goodnight...

Oh, Best Picture.

I think you all know what I want. But Birdman would be worthy too. And Selma. 


Birdman wins! Great night for that team! What a film! And on to another year of greatfilmmaking and exciting and life altering moments in cinema!

Thanks for reading!





Saturday, 24 January 2015

Oscar Bait Reviews!! (The Theory of Everything, Birdman, The Imitation Game, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Boyhood)

Favourite time of year? Christmas? Easter? Eid? Diwali? Transfer Deadline Day? 28th day of each month? Unlikely.

Its awards season! It's wonderful, frustrating, meme-worthy, a one trick pony and cant-take-your-eyes-away-for-a-second-ly ravishing. Today marks the start of the va-va voom period in the awards season calender where things get serious (sorry Golden Globes, although this was worthy)..


The PGA (Producers Guild) are announced today so we're now at the point where we shall see if American Sniper in on target to upset Boyhood which lets face it is humpty dumpty sitting on a bald golden wall.

Selma is the only film of this year's Best Picture nominees not to be released as yet. Thatll be on the 6th Feb. I'm still behind on American Sniper and Whiplash also so will make time to watch those in the next week or so.  The other five I have seen 11 times between them in the cinema since they were released so maybe I can bust open an opinion or two on them in the next few paragraphs...

The Theory of Everything

Where better to start than the most immediate viewing, The Theory of Everything. 

The unavoidable start point in all this is the remarkable physical transformation of Eddie Redmayne as one of those most beguiling and storied presence' of the last half century.  Redmayne portrays the intelligence and wit of Hawking with a nuanced, precise interpretation which is interwoven into the main narrative of the dissolution of an untenable marriage.  Felicity Jones, playing Hawking's first wife, Jane, provides a fine emotional counterpoint to Redmayne's Kodak theatre pyrotechnics.


As pleasant and well acted this picture is however, I can't get away from a nagging feeling that a film titled 'The Theory of Everything' even though positioned as a double entendre of sorts aims less for the stars than maudlin sentimentality which while solidly earned, should have been the base plate for a film of wonder and ideas.  A higher plane melodrama is still a melodrama and bolder choices in the writing department may have produced more interesting if less universal results.  Of course there's a limit to this creativity as the screenplay was adapted from Jane Hawking's 'Travelling to Infinity; My Journey with Stephen' which provides the framework for a more introverted and introspective narrative. 

Ultimately as much as there is to commend about the performances, with Redmayne turning out a career performance which is up there with the top 4/5 of the year, I found myself left somewhat frustrated by a lack of ingenuity that does a slight disservice to the grandstand expectations the film sets out for itself at the outset.

GIVE ME STAGGERING!

Grade: B-/C+ (6.5/10)

Birdman

Or the unexpected virtue of timing.

From the outset there was a ravenous buzz.  The Venetians were seen coming out of festival screenings with bellisimo murmurs. And yet after that initial critical steam train burst through the limited release dam there was an almost subdued collective exhale. Would the bubble burst, would it continue to grow.  It continued to grow. And why not?

Birdman is everything one would wish a Best Picture nominee to be.  It is full of technical glee, outstanding and varied performances, stunning cinematography, edge-of-the-seat editing, a playfully inventive score.  In many ways it seems just to begin with that score.  Mixing Mahler with percussive elements is a pretty novel idea but it's not just a stunt. Everytime this marmite melange lifts it head above the parapet it serves as a timely reminder of the film's gleeful self-awareness.


And who to portray that central struggle of art vs commerce than Michael Keaton?! If you were to read about this inspired piece of casting on its embryonic IMDB title page you would think this was purely a stunt. But what director Alejandro Inarritu (21 Grams, Amores Perros) and his team of collaborators are able to acheive with this fantastic blend of stunt and Brechtian' wisdom.

With such fizzy sherbet antics on display, a lesser auteur would be satisfied with creating a head-spinning merry-go-round and faking the outcome (so to speak) but Inarritu was somehow able to approach the landing with integrity and honesty and in doing so elevate his picture into something Fellini and Bergman would be proud of. Much of this IS due to Keaton's performance which is at turns bombastic, naive, pathetic and empowering.

That's not to say the film is perfect. For example the theatre critic, Tabitha, played dryly by Lindsay Duncan almost feels too acute a portrayal of artistic antagonism. It's very on the cuff and perhaps a little too black and white for a film that deals in shades rather than monotones.  But taken as a whole, this is as fine an example as English-language cinema has provided on a critique of self and in doing so in an inventive and thoroughly original manner.

Grade: A- (9/10)


 




Thursday, 25 December 2014

Lists of Favourite Things

Wow last post in April.

I'm tempted to say work took over, life took over, people took over, depression took over, jubilation took over. Not a bit of it. It was a bumper year for my own film and musical discoveries. In fact considering the plight of mankind this year, these little gems provided a smidgen of entertainment and insight into the human condition, enough to remind that there is often art and artistry to be found in the most unexpected places.

Without further ado...

Albums of the Year


1. Perfume Genius - Too Bright
2. Sharon Van Etten - Are We There
3. D'Angelo and the Vanguard - Black Messiah
4. Run the Jewels - Run The Jewels 2
5. Sun Kil Moon - Benji
6. Swans - To Be Kind
7. Todd Terje - It's Album Time
8. Grouper - Ruins
9. East India Youth - Total Strife Forever
10. The War on Drugs - Lost In The Dream


Films of the Year


1. Boyhood
2. The Wind Rises
3. The Grand Budapest Hotel
4. Mr Turner
5. Nightcrawler
6. Calvary
7. Two Days, One Night
8. Gone Girl
9. Leviathan
10. The Lego Movie

It would be a wonderful feeling to expand on these a little. But as it is Christmas Day, being social becomes place de jour.  I expect to blog more frequently again now that I have wifi (thanks Soph). 

Birdman, Inherent Vice, American Sniper, The Theory of Everything will all be on the radar in the next few weeks so let's see where this goes!

Happy Holidays!








Friday, 18 April 2014

Locke & Calvary Reviews!


Happy holidays to everyone! It's been a while since I last posted but before the summer season kicks in here are a few joys to sink one's teeth into... Following this there will be reviews on the final Miyazaki 'The Wind Rises' as well as a few interesting looking blockbusters in May.  Those won't include 'The Amazing Spiderman 2' because the best Spiderman sequel was made 10 years ago and these reboots are seriously yawnsome...

Locke

Tom Hardy, who already feels like a veteran to these eyes, is an actor's actor so to speak.  His voice carries a chivalrous gravitas that has lead itself to roles as sinister and volatile as Charles Bronson and Bane (Hollwood loves it's British villains).  But what does that mean for Hardy? Betwixt Nolan' vehicles and the odd misjudged rom-com (THIS MEANS WAR, THIS MEANS WAR, this means snooze...) when was the last time Hardy was asked to restrain his over/underact?  That's not to say this is an inbuilt flaw of the actor's but for me it's easy to ask 'why so typecast'?

Which brings us neatly to Locke.

The title here is a signifier for what is to come, the aforementioned star the all-compassing presence in a briskly paced thriller/character drama of sorts.  This is the 'Tom Hardy in a car for xx minutes' that some of you may have heard but of course only superficially.  Without giving too much away, phone calls drift in and out (before stacking upon one another) building to a climax which is both tense and paradoxically lilting.


Needless to say my opening gambit acts as a non-sequitur in this case.  Hardy is stunning in a performance full of restraint and poise.  The journey is broken up with clever switch ups that while creating a diversion from the unfolding narrative.  This is experimental cinema of a high order and not to be missed.

Rating: 8.5/10 (B+/A-)

Cavalry


Brendan Gleeson epitomizes the very nature of the underrated actor.  His work since his true breakthrough role in 'In Bruges' has always been at the very least dependable and at his best darkly comic and grounded in a of-this-world sensibility.  This is Gleeson's second feature with director John Michael McDonagh, following on from 2011's 'The Guard'.

At the time of it's release, 'The Guard' felt like a relatively influential moment in recent Irish cinema, however in hindsight it's a fun film filled with memorable moments but not a particularly cohesive cinematic statement.  It remains a solid enough watch but not enough to sate the palate.


An Irish priest is met in discretion by a young male looking to repent his sins.  The man vows to kill the priest as killing a good priest will make people notice (I won't give away why he wants to kill priest however...).  What follows here is a beautifully shot picture that allows scenes to breathe in a way that 'The Guard' was not interested in (the framing of each shot is a far more mature approach to direction from McDonagh).

The bleakness of what is on show will certainly put of 90% of viewers and there isn't some moment of catharsis here to apease all that comes before it (although such ideas are subjective).  Gleeson has spoken recently of how he has struggled to come to terms with the exhaustive nature of the after effects from this performance and his nuanced soul-dripped turn is the anchor to a vessel that has no right to glide as smoothly and artfully as this one does.

This is the return of Irish cinema as a force to be reckoned with in 2014 and with a few dominoes collapsing onto one another this could brew an awards storm for Gleeson come the turn of the year but for now i'm just glad it exists because in its bleakness is an honesty and forthright 'je ne regrette rien' attitude that is both bold and brave.

Rating: 9/10 (A-/A)

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Oscars 2014 Live BLOG!!!!!!!!!!.

Screw it.

I start work at 5am but I figure I can't miss a live blog for those sorts of technical reasons (although if I miss Best Picture that would be hilarious).
23.39 - Red Carpet E! hyperactivity soon.  This is what E! lives for right?
23.43 - I've seen 8 of the 9 'Best Picture' nominees this year.  The one I haven't will be pretty evident in      around 60 minutes time.
23.48 - Anyway so it's Lupita Nyong'o happy hour (over 2 hours maybe 4) so first a little collage of this year's Q.U.E.E.N rocking her now patented one-colour-block-rock.


23.59 - Alex Zane.  Claudia Winkleman.  Alex Zane.  Claudia Winkleman.  Steve Martin.  We soldier on. P.S. No one (of note) is on the red carpet yet apart from a Sky News representitive/ Kristen Wiig impersonator who seems to have lost the top half of one half of her dress.  Actually it looks quite sexy.  I will now eat some Digestives (R). Fuelin'.
00.09 - Sidney Poitier is the first to arrive on my live feed.  They're going for golden oldies first (golden baldies later, that was too easy).  Poitier is living on the edge of calm/forgetting where he is.
00.20 - Obligatory home city culture spot plug.

video

00.25 - Sally Hawkins. feeling 'insane', looking spangly.

00.28 - Lupita.
block of colour
00.31 - Naomi's hair looks like it has been sculpted for hours.  You could lift it up and place it on a plinth.  McConaughey is hanging around.  This is his night right? Especially as he'll be on two shows at the same time.  Time travelling. Sky now talking about Lupita, 5 minutes too late boys and girls.  Apparently wearing your hait up is the "in thing".  Also Olivia Wilde is "very pregnant".  Insight.  Ooh Delpy. Delpy is HAWT because she doesn't give a shit.
on a plith
salmon shoe in
jlaw's rule of idiosyncracy
1.07 -  Now blogging in my suit. This is news.
1.14 - Slightly flagging here.  As you can see I'm not quite the man of many words yet.  Introspective moments going on.  Also let's start already!  Cate was just interviewed, no one better out there ladies and gents.  
1.17 - Bradley Cooper is now an Oscar Nominee. Weirdness but he's hilarious in American Hustle.  GET IN THERE! First on screen bantz, Jonah coming in and hijacking his interview and now his mum is on the act.
first bantz


1.22 - Amy Adams is usually a highlight, bit safe today.  Kate Hudson looks fab but she hasn't been in anything great since Almost Famous so she's walking DOWN THE WRONG AISLE.
1.26 - Red Carpet done. A slog this year.  Time to predict Ellen's jokes.  Jordan Belfort/ Wolf of Wall Street/ Hollywood. George Clooney in space. American Hustle and hair.  Basically safe but will charm your woolies off until the break o' dawn.
1.30 - It's GOLDEN!
1.32 - Why the hell did the camera just pan to Joseph Gordon Levitt there mid June Squibb shot?!
1.34 - Get in there DeGeneres, pretty dark Liza Minelli joke right off the bat!
1.35 - "Between you you've been in 1400 films and 6 years of college".
1.40 - "Possibility No 1 - 12 Years A Slave wins Best Picture.  Possibility No. 2 - You are all racists."

First award of the night...




1.41 - Best Supporting Actor - Jared Leto - A tremendous performance, especially so considering the number of films Leto has acted in the last few years i.e. close to zero.




1.47 - Everyone loves Jim Carrey. Everyone. Introducing random as hell 'animated heroes' segment.  Is this for the kiddies before they go to bed?! Oscar pushing the 'lets-snag-all-demographics-above-and-below-the-sea-line' approach.
1.48 - Pharrell doing his thing.  Let this go on for 24 hours.  I want to see what Sandra Bullock looks like when her hair has been fooked by the humidifier.  Pharrell has come out to dance with Lupita, Meryl and Amy (yes, i'm on working a first name basis).
This filter shows that I clearly believe this is an insta-classic moment:


1.57 - Best Costume Design - The Great Gatsby - Catherine Martin
2.01 - Best Hair & Make Up - The Dallas Buyers Club - Adruitha Lee, Robin Mathews. Still a bit bizarre that American Hustle wasn't nominated here.  TDBC worthy winner though.
2.12 - Best Animated Short - Mr Hublot.  I think i'm 4 for 4. Either i'm a genius or it's predictable as hell.
2.14 - Best Animated Film...really hope 'The Wind Rises' wins. I predicted it but it won't though.  That'll be Frozen but as Miyazaki has retired and is one of the GREATEST LIVING DIRECTORS IN THE WORLD it would be lovely and all. Frozen takes it.
2.20 - Best Visual Effects - The most obvious winner of the night, Gravity.
2.24 - Karen O time! She's with Mr Koenig! This is the Vampire Weekend lead singer, Oscars.  Ya think you could've mentioned that fact?!
2.30 - Best Live Action Short - One day i'll watch all the shorts before an Oscar ceremony. You know as preparation. Helium wins.
2.33 - Best Documentary Short - The Lady in Number 6. Cute documentary short, worth checking out if the chance arises and the exact opposie to what I feel the winner in 'Best Documentary' will be.
2.37 - Best Documentary - 'The Act of Killing' may just be the best film nominated tonight full stop.  It's that innovative. Of course a bit of Weinstein star dust and '20 Feet From Stardom' wins. 'The Act of Killing' maybe just way too intense for the Academy's aromatic tendencies...
2.49 - Best Foreign Language Film - The best film of 2013, 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' isn't nominated but 'The Great Beauty' wins and it was pretty terrific!
2.54 - Sorrentino to Tyler Perry. Now that is magnificence. On to Bono and his Merry Ants.
3.05 - Here are 4 versions of the same photo (well...)



3.07 - Best Sound Mixing - Gravity. Evertime I hear the words 'Inside Llewyn Davis' I think of how the Academy managed to shaft the Coens and that brilliant film.  Gravity's sound mix and edit was fantastic though.  It should win the editing prize also.
3.09 - Best Sound Editing - Gravity. And it does.

The next biggie!





3.13 - Best Supporting Actress - JLaw vs Lupita.  Wow if JLaw wins, but really this is Lupita's.  Best performance in the best 'Best Picture' nominee. Yay Lupita! Wonderful wonderful speech. Wonderful wonderful Oscar moment.





3.25 - While Ellen hands out pizza to Kerry Washington (et al), I put on a tie.
3.27 - http://www.ranker.com/list/the-7-greatest-_real_-bill-murray-stories-ever-told/kristin-wong
        - Shout out to Harold Ramis!
3.28 - Best Cinematography - Gravity - Emmanuel Lubezki. Gorgeous.  Also glad Roger Deakins work in Prisoners was recognised, always a class act.
3.30 - Best Editing - Gravity - Easy to call this a Gravity steam train but all these techies are expected so far.
3.43 - Don't put Cumberbatch on 'Best Production Design' he's the future don't you know.  The Great Gatsby which now has more wins than Inside Llewyn Davis, Captain Phillips, Philomena, Nebraska, Her and American Hustle put together. That's not an opinion, just the fact of the matter.
3.47 - Ooh look more heroes. What is with this? I'm not sure what the end game here is.  Will Philip Seymour Hoffman be remembered at the end as some sort of superhero in disguise? Because he was.

3.49 - I'm leaving for work, so no pictures for a little while.  It should be interesting trying to blog and travel at the same time.

So interesting in fact it is now...

20.47.  This is unofficially the longest Oscar blog in the history of Oscar blogs.





By now anyone who cares about such things knows that Cate Blanchett won the award for Best Cate Blanchett.  The Screenplay awards went as expected although it was a toss up in the 'Original Screenplay' category with 'Her' edging out 'American Hustle'.

Also at this stage most will know of Matthew McConaughey's night stealing acceptance speech. It has to be checked out.  It's a fine philosphical, narcisstic, child like mess.  Ruddy wonderful.  I now know that apparently this was the highest rated Oscars in a decade (up 10% on last year) so clearly loads of folks out there were loving the chilled out vibe (mainly Ellen causation).

I'll probably look back at the winners/losers in more depth over the next few days. For now zzz. 21 hours and out.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Not Toying About, Not Winging It, Better Than The Sum Of Its Parts and Other LEGO Based Puns - The Lego Movie Review


Commercial toy movie tie-ins suck. I mean there are no two ways about that.  Battleship... Transformers... GI Joe...

I'll stop right there because you know where this review is heading, sweeping the rug from under your feet and telling you how, yep, AWESOME, it is.  Phil Lord and Chris Miller have been building a solid resume with 'Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs' and '21 Jump Street', although i'd be the first to say they that although they weren't straight up classics they were enjoyable in their own way.

Emmet, is an ordinary lego man/pawn who does everything by the book (literally).  He's the guy who is one in a countless LEGO team.  No one remembers his name, while he remembers everyone else's.  One day he..blah blah blah backstory blah.  From then onwards its backdrops aplenty, characters both hilarious (Batman, Spaceman) & hilarious (Good Cop, Bad Cop) and visual swish upon visual swoosh.

'The LEGO Movie' has a narrative sure, but smartly that's just a vehicle for the film's overall message, creativity vs rules and boundaries.  There are plentiful pop culture references and in-jokes all the very opposite of cynical.  Many Lego mini-figs also make appearances (with one half way through the movie particularly hilarious).



I'd rather not give too much away as half the pleasure is in finding things for oneself.  Looking to the background for gags which will sate the palate of adults beyond the physical comedy (which is also playful and inventive) which will keep the kids entertained.  Beyond that I'd certainly say that the film has something to say on society, politics and the place of art, a showcase for an individual's voice, as a force to be cultivated or contained.  I think that rhethoric is best to wash at the back of the mind while there is so much boundless fun on screen but it's certainly a relevant factor for those seeking it.

The ending is also a part of the picture that will perhaps divide audiences, but I think most will have been charmed and seduced within the first 30 seconds of the start and so most will go with it with an open heart, almost forgetting that this IS a toy-related movie, that WILL ensure that LEGO will be laughing to the bank in all sorts of ways.  I have concerns that the hastily announced Lego Movie 2 will suffer from an inevitable backlash as the mindset will change for that film but for now this is a magnificent surprise which I can't wait to watch over and over and over again.

For a film that seemed like it would be a passing irrelevance only a month ago thats a rare magic indeed.

Rating: 8.5/10 (B+/A-)

5 Years, 50 Films: The Conversation


Anyone who has been to film school 101 will be able to tell you about Francis Ford Coppola's great works of the 70's. Three of those have, it seems, an automatic place in the great pantheon of cinema.  I love the fourth the most.

'The Conversation', positioned between the first two chapters of the Godfather trilogy, is that very rare breed of cinema that resonates in greater volumes the more the years pass. Harry Caul (Gene Hackman), plays a wiretapper caught in the crosshairs of an hour long conversation between a couple as they amble around a congested square mumbling words and phrases to one another laced with fear and secrecy.

Being "the best bugger on the west coast" isn't particularly what makes this film so great.  Ostensibly, this is a taut thriller with a big twist (a dirty word these days), but and its a big but, this is a character study dressed in a thriller's clothes.  Caul is a private man, one who prefers his own company and is awkward around women.  The privacy and the paranoia over protecting it is the very same as those whose he is detangling.  This is someone who is truly great at his chief skill but tragically lacking in every other department.



Considering the great performances by Gene Hackman (of which there are many) this is certainly on the opposite of the end of the spectrum dynamic wise.  Here is a man whose inner turmoil speaks louder than any external rage.  At any moment there is a tension that remains for the viewer that everything could boil over and a clattering of violence would be laid upon all in front of him.

Without overstating the obvious connections to the modern world and our evergrowing fastidiousness in protecting what we believe to be ours, battling against the 'open and connected',  a fascinating angle of this film, not withstanding Hackman's performance, is that here is a man at the very centre of the society in which he operates who understands the world via a technological standpoint.  It would seem to me that Harry Caul was a precursor for me, you and much of today's world;

Ordinary people making our point through a mask; filtered voices trying to make sense of it all.