Fab Feb Films?

In terms of films I watched in Februrary my viewing was been dominated by old films that I got on Bluray for Christmas and catching up on stuff that I missed at the cinema last summer via rentals.

I go to the cinema infrequently. I can’t abide having to spend about £7 to sit with a bunch of people I don’t know in a room which is usually too cold, smells of BO and in which the sound is turned up way too high. I am all for the ‘home cinema’ experience where the room contains people you love (there is a significant other if you were wondering), only smells of farts that I have generated (or if rose flavour the sig. oth.), where the sound is as perfect as it can be in a front room scenario and last but not least the film has a PAUSE button (and sometimes if required a REWIND).
So in no particular order here we go –
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (9/10)
I have owned this on VHS, DVD, Director’s Cut DVD and now on Bluray. I didn’t like the director’s cut; I thought most of the extra stuff was pointless. As for the film itself I love the script and the way it is filmed. The soundtrack is also tip-top. The only downside would be that some of the acting is a bit wooden. Sting for instance as (who I would judge as being) the main character’s bar owning father is woeful. In fact I can’t remember ever seeing Sting act apart from maybe recently in Life’s Too Short on BBC2 where he played himself. The ending of the film is obviously a bit of steal from the original Italian Job – a bridge hanger rather than a cliff hanger. Years ago this was infinitely quotable, not so much now, although the ‘it’s a deal, it’s a steal, it’s the sale of the century…’ line was used at least twice in (vaguely) normal conversation this year as I recall.
Snatch (8/10)
Another January Sale / Christmas purchase. It didn’t seem fair to my slowly growing Bluray collection to buy Lock Stock and not also buy Snatch on Bluray. Snatch to my mind is a superior film but with a less interesting script. okay, I agree Brad Pitt’s accent is nowhere, but I’ve seen Big Fat Gypsy Wedding on Ch 4 and it’s not that far off. Anyway he’s a ‘carny’ not a ‘gypsy’ if that makes any difference. Working as I do for a German owned company, ‘Ze Germans’ gets used quite a bit in terms of quotes, plus ‘I need a shite…’ and ‘me ma needs a caravan…’ whenever I visit North Wales. Again the soundtrack is great and the acting is hit and miss. Snatch Vader is hilarious – http://youtu.be/SKBJBr0Oewg. Worst part of the film for me is the twins who work in the jeweller’s and simply cannot act.
Rock ‘n Rolla (7/10)
Bought this on DVD for £3 I think. Didn’t think it warranted buying on Bluray, but recall watching it on rental on that format. Tapped it, unwrapped it and watched it one evening recently after the other two above (it’s another Guy Ritchie film if you didn’t know). The acting is great in this one, but the story is a bit lacking. The lead actor goes on to pop up in numerous other films most notably Prince of Persia as one of the prince’s brothers. I like the guy. Also in this film is a chappy who is really getting lots of work (he’s in the next film down, another GR film) and I saw him in the Green Lantern as well bless him.
Sherlock Holmes (7/10)
Halfway through re-watching this as the SigOth fell asleep with 40mins left on the clock. It’s her Bluray so you’d think she’d had stayed awake for it. It’s RD Junior for God’s sake. Anyway, hmmm…. as a punchy, punchy action film I liked it, as a Sherlock Holmes adaptation I disliked it. Junior’s accent is horrible at times, alto not as bad as K Reeves in Dracula. I loved Sherlock on the BBC and just found myself making comparisons to that (even though the time periods are different). Loved the special effects in this film, but didn’t think the ‘atmosphere’ was quite right, and Jude Law appeared to be playing the same character he always plays, again – see The Talented Mr Ripley for more of the same.
Pulp Fiction (10/10)
Wow. Haven’t seen this in a while, although it is in my top ten faves of all time. Soundtrack and plot are brilliant. I love Bruce Willis so it helps that he’s in it. Infinitely quotable as well. Uma Thurman looks great even with drugs dripping out of her nostrils. There was a lot of talk around Tarantino at the time being a purveyor of violence, but all I’ll say to that is no-one forced you to watch the film, if you didn’t like it go and look at some pictures of kittens instead. it makes me laugh that Kill Bill was way more violent and that the same people that moaned about Pulp Fiction probably died while watching Kill Bill as they suffered from head-exploding sensory overloads like in Scanners.Travolta and Jackson were also great and although there is a claim that Travolta’s career was ‘relaunched’ by this film I don’t think he ever did anything that came close to how good he was in this. I’m not a disco fan.
12 Monkeys (9/10)
Bruce Willis, Brad Pitt, time travel what’s not to like? I love Terry Gilliam as a director; he has an eye for detail sadly lacking in others, and is great at creating textured atmosphere’s that feel grimy and real. Okay, so Bradly is a bit over the top in his One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest lunatic role, but his character is the main comedic character so it’s acceptable in my opinion. I like to think that with this film Source Code would never have been made. When the pitch was being made did they say ‘it’s like 12 Monkeys without the monkeys and on a train’ much like the cliche Hollywood pitch of ‘it’s like Die Hard but on a bus…’
Inglorious Basterds (8/10)
I have to admit that I fell asleep during rewatching this and Sigoth stayed awake, damnit! I do find this film a little slow and I’m not talking about the opening scene where the farmer is hiding Jews under his floorboards – that is pitched perfectly so the tension builds and builds and the main Nazi character (see Green Hornet below) is brilliant. Did he win an Oscar – I think he did? The ending is ridiculous but applaudable, and talk about violence… jeezus.. they make Swiss cheese out of the guy’s face. But the guy is Hitler so that’s okay. Was that a spoiler… oh dear…
I would have liked it if they had made more of the individual characters in the team and I was disappointed that BJ Novak The Office (US) didn’t have a bigger part to play. I thought Mr Pitt was great in this – he always seems to play comedic roles better than serious roles.
Green Lantern (2/10)
Of all the films in this selection this was the biggest pile of plop. In fact it is one of the worst films I have ever seen and how the story/script got green lighted (‘scuse pun) is beyond me. It’s almost as if they just assumed that because it was a comic book conversion it would do well and that little effort needed to be put into it. Oh woe is me. The only actor who I feel sorry for for appearing in such drivel is the guy out of Sherlock Holmes and Rock ‘n Rolla who was actually quite good despite the lines that were coming out of his mouth (Mark Strong – he’s also in Kick Ass). The worst bit for me was when they make a ring out of pure fear (al a The Lord of the Rings) and then don’t reference it again. Silly. i did watch the director’s cut / extended edition (like a fool) so maybe that bit was cut out of the theatrical release? I’ll go back and gives scores out of ten just so i can give this 2 – and that’s for the effects.
Sucker Punch (7/10)
Saw this one a couple of days ago. I toyed with the idea of going to the cinema for this one, but couldn’t be arsed in the end. Having seen the trailer at the cinema (around Avatar time I think?) and then now having seen the film I have to say that the trailer makes it look like a completely different storyline. The storyline of the film is a lot more interesting. All the fantasy sequences are just that – they occur inside the main character’s head. I thought the CG, especially digital doubles, was excellent and I’m a big Brazil fan so it was nice to see a giant samurai warrior in action. There’s a lot of eye candy in this film and I don’t just mean the girl’s manga styled costumes… although it helped. I’m undecided whether this is a buyer, although I might try and get hold of the soundtrack which has some great cover versions on it and the awesome Army of Me by Bjork.
The Green Hornet (8/10)
Not to be confused with the woeful lantern of the same colour. This is a comedy because it is meant to be a comedy not because the filmmakers sucked ass. Seth Grogan is his usual self and I think he is funny. His side-kick kicks serious ass and the gadgety car is excellent. I’m a big fan of kung fu films, Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan etc. and comic book conversions so I really liked this. It is definately more of a buddy movie than most and does follow the ’12 point plan’ of Hollywood plotting almost to the letter (but then so does Kick Ass and that’s great). if it works don’t fix it. The director Michael Gondri was a big draw for me as I loved his pop videos for Kylie and The Chemical Brothers and The White Stripes and the excellent The Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and not so great but still okay Be Kind Rewind. Please forgive my spelling – it’s a  blog!!
Ghost In The Shell 2.0 Redux (7/10)
Without this film The Matrix would never have been made or the excellent animated TV show of GITS for that matter. This is not a remake of Innocence (GITS 2) this is a reworking of the original film. 3D CG is mixed in with the old 2D stuff which has been recoloured and the sound has been remixed to some fancy HD multi-channel format.
I have to say I was disappointed with the redux, although I rate the original highly (I’d say at least 8/10 if not a 9). The sound and colour is great but the addition on the 3D stuff jars awfully. I also forgot how lame sounding some of the script is and the voice talent is pretty poor. However the story and the imaginative sprawl on the screen puts it up there with Akira in my opinion.
Fight Club (10/10)
Love it, love it, love it. I am Matt’s happy eyeballs and brain. Ed Norton and Brad Pitt are brilliant together. Fincher is a great director (another one who started out doing pop videos and commercials if I’m not mistaken) and Helen Bonham Carter’s character makes a great Nemesis for ‘Jack’/Tyler Durden. I have watched this multiple times and every time I seem to spot something else.
I have a friend who shall remain nameless to avoid his embarrassment who on seeing the film said t me, ‘I liked it, but I thought the twist at the end was unnecessary….’ OMG!
Again, I recall that the trailer for this film really sold it wrong and in fact I was put of seeing this at the cinema, which is a great shame. However, I guess they couldn’t give too much away. it would be like The Sixth Sense trailer telling you that Brucey baby is a ghost, and yes I am one of those unfortunates who had that spoilt for me, before I saw the film…
Kick Ass (8/10)
I know someone with a very good amp and and HD projector. So Sigoth and I went around to his house to rewatch this. I got it for the silly price of £6 on Bluray from a supermarket. Strange.
Anyway, like I said I love comic book conversions although admittedly I had not read the comic book until after I had seen the film. It follows the zero to hero formula closely but there’s enough humour and good characters for the writers to be forgiven, in actuality in comparison to the comic book the plot is tighter and better structured. The star of the show is obviously Hit Girl – the bo of Daily Mail readers across the country. Stick to the kittens ladies, leave the glorified violence for those that like it…
I think the ‘revenge’ story is one of the best film script templates to follow and as a subplot to the evolution of the main character Kick Ass it is delivered brilliantly. The soundtrack is also great.
Captain America (7/10)
The plug for the Avengers film starts before the film has even begun as the subtitle is ‘the first avenger’ if I’m not mistaken. But that’s fine as long as they deliver on the promises made in The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Iron Man 2, and Thor. It is an exciting prospect. Unfortunate that Ed Norton won’t be coming to the party.
I liked this film a lot more than I thought I would, not being a huge CA fan and all. The special effects are almost flawless. The bad guy played by Hugo Weaving is really bad – Agent Smith eat your heart out – and the imagined Nazi technology is a big can of cool beans. Some of the film was bizarrely reminiscent of The Pacific HBO TV show and I suppose that gives it a bit of authenticity amongst the fantasy. I also liked the ‘look what we’ve found buried in the ice’ bookends (see The Thing, Alien versus Predator, and at least one if not two (if you count ‘look what we found on the beach’) episodes of The X-Files for more of the same).
Thor (7/10)
I did used to read the comics and points are deducted for making Thor a young body-builder type – I remember him as an old crotchety surgeon with a walking stick (that turned into his hammer when required). However the cast is great and the design and effects score really high on the eye-candy-onomitor. The 12 point plot template is once more followed with aplomb. I keep going on about it, if you want to know more I recommend Christoper Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey.
Someone in the art department must have watched The Day the Earth Stood Still at some point for the design of the ‘robot’ thing that comes down for a fight during the film. But it was distinctive and not, to (mis)quote someone else ‘like watching someone shaking up a drawer full of cutlery in your face…’ which leads me nicely on to…
Transformers 3 (7/10)
The Dark of the Moon? is that right, not to be confused with the Pink Floyd album with the prism on the front. Someone told me Michael Bay apologised for Transformers 2, and quite right, it was pretty rubbish apart from the set pieces of Bayhem and Megan Fox’s lovely boobage.
I thought this film was a vast improvement with a couple of exceptions. Number one, the female actor who replaced the Fox was rubbish. Number two, just because you can animate fluids spraying, dripping, glooping out of CG robots doesn’t mean you should – I think it detracted from some of the fight scenes especially since this effect was not in the other preceding movies. I found myself thinking ‘so now they have blood and spit’ hmm… the point? I don’t know.
Saw 7  (3/10)
I think it was seven I lose count. I liked Saw, Saw 2 and Saw 3 and then it just got silly. For me watching them is just to see how rubbish they can be. The blood in this one for instance has a distincly pink tinge to it. This is supposedly the final chapter, thank the lord. It ties up all the loose ends and comes full circle back to Saw. In the series there were some definate
uniquely clever pieces of plotting / film-making, however by this point it has descended into gore filled crap. The effects are laughably bad at times and the morality of the first few has gone by the by. While not as deplorable as Hostel 2 which I found extremely distateful, this film and its recent predecessors just appear to be glorifying bloody torture for the sake of it.
Even I (see previous comments re violence in films) was disgusted and disappointed at what gets filmed these days. Pass me the kittens. Or a cute owl: http://youtu.be/rPQrMPyWaRg

Time Crimes (6/10)

This was on Film 4 (for more details see here:http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0480669/). It’s a low budget Spanish film which is very tightly plotted and given that they are working on the basis that you can’t alter destiny during time travel then it ultimately plays out as quite predictable. I enjoyed it though. If it ever got remade by Hollywood then it would probably involve a lot more bangs and crashes and end up being billed as a serious take on Back to the Future. I hope they leave it alone.

The Descent 2 (5/10)
The original gave me the heeby-geebies. This one not so much. It picks up where the last one ended and the surviving character ends up going back down into the tunnels and caves that she so desperately fought to get out of previously. Smacked a little of Aliens in that respect.

There is still a feeling of claustrophobia and the ‘shit pit’ scene is a glorious piece of film making, but the story is too predictable and the logic to some of the decisions made by the characters is flawed. I would only watch this if you really enjoyed the first film and want to see more of the same. It’s no better and doesn’t really add anything apart from a feeling of disappointment.

The Ghost (5/10)

Another Film 4 offering starring Ewan McGregor as a ghost writer for an ex-PM who bears a few similarities to Tony Blair (played by Pierce Brosnan) in that he is criticised for putting troops into an unjust war in the Middle East. Suffice to say the CIA are involved. I remember reading a book of the same title and roughly the same plot although I’m sure it pre-dated
the original Gulf War, not sure if it’s based on the same book, and I’m too lazy to check. The film was okay but not overly engaging, and that’s probably why I forgot it on the original blog entry.

Primal (3/10)

Another Film 4 offering which sounded interesting in the synopsis offered on Sky+. Shame it didn’t turn out that way. there was a lot of fake teeth and jumping around and an evil rabbit which could’ve come straight out of Monty Python’s Holy Grail. It also featured tyre munching insects ensuring the cast couldn’t get out of the dangerous place they found themselves in – really weak screenwriting. The effects were so awful it was funny and again some of the logic behind the character’s decisions was really silly. I couldn’t understand why they just didn’t start walking and continue walking down the road on which they had arrived rather than stay to get systematically dismembered and deaded. Shame.

Thirst (7/10)

Another Film 4 offering that I watched recently is a two-hour Korean film about a priest who becomes a vampire directed by Old Boy director Chan-wook Park. I didn’t know that he was the director at the time and so that wasn’t the original draw. I have to admit the synopsis on my TV Guide told me it had sex and violence in it and of course I hit the record button immediately.

So what to make of it? Well, it’s not as good as Old Boy for a start, and there’s a few reasons why.

It was unclear to me what disease the clinic to which the priest (Kang-ho Song) goes was trying to cure and how he knew afterwards that he had vampire blood transfused into him during his time at the clinic. Yes, there’s a scene where it happens, but he was too busy puking up his own blood to notice what they were doing to him. perhaps I missed some subtitles along the way.

The idiot son of the woman who houses the female love interest (the not altogether unattractive Ok Bin-kim) in the story is woefully acted. It is at best comical. This makes his scenes when he supposed to have come back from the grave to haunt the lovers ridiculous rather than creepy. However, I think the actor Ha-kyun Shin was playing it for laughs at that point as the bit where he is sandwiched between the priest and the girl while they try to have sex is hilarious.

The real meat of the story for me came rather too late in the preceedings – this is where the body count started to stack up after Ok Bin-kim’s character becomes a vampire too. It is the strained relationship between priest and now no longer fawning lover which is the most interesting aspect of the film. It seemed that too much of the film was spent leading up to this point and then not enough time was spent exploring the changed dynamic between the two characters before the rather predictable end.

At times the blood and guts of the film were rather sickening to watch, but it was by no means a gore-fest. The wire-effects wre cleverly done and not over-used and the finale while predictable was both amusing and poignant.

All in all it was an interesting take on a tale that has been done to a death of late, and there were a few scenes that were vaguley reminiscent of the awesome Audition in terms of their creepiness.

Because I am in a rare good mood I will give it a generous 7/10.

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