May Movies

Carriers (3/5)
is a film about a group of young people trying to survive the arse-end of a pandemic virus. It could have easily been disgorged by Stephen King and might have been a little more eventful if it had. Borrowing a lot from similar films, especially I Am Legend (but there’s no zombies – sorry folks!), it is an okay film with no distinguishing marks. It concentrates on the interplay between the four main characters – two girls, one boy and one complete arsehole played by Chris Pine, and pretty much all the predictable things you can think of happen. That said it is well acted and shot.
Red Cliff (4/5)
This is a crazy ass historical drama by awesome director John Woo, and yes before you ask there are some doves. I am not sure how historically accurate it all is but there’s some great large scale war action and some sea battles to boot (das boot?). The characters are the usual types you get in martial arts films with the exception that the two female leads are actually three-dimensional which is to be applauded. It is well worth a looksee if you liked things like Lord of the Rings or Kingdom of Heaven. (4/5)
Crazy Heart (4/5)
 
This is a film about a boozy country and western singer played by Jeff Bridges, and also starring the odd but lovely Maggie Gyllenhaal. He won his first Oscar for his performance. I am not entirely sure why. It is a good performance but it is no better than any of his other performances and was somewhat reminiscent of ‘the man’ in The Big Lebrowski.  The film is really good and you don’t have to like the music to watch it (although it helps). His singing is good as is Colin Farrel’s (who plays a more successful C&W singer), although Colin’s miming (to his pre-recorded track – I checked the credits) is piss poor at times. The ending of the film was a bit flat for me, but hey ho, you can’t have everything.
Lemming (3/5)
This was a peculiar French film about an engineer, his wife, his older boss and his slightly odd wife. The younger couple find a lemming trapped in the u-bend of their kitchen sink which isn’t the oddest thing that happens in the film and the cute little rodent serves as a metaphor for their lives as the story progresses. There is a fine line drawn between dreaming and reality and typically for a French film some extra-marital activity.Charlotte Gainsbourg is the young wife and Charlotte Rampling is the boss’s creepy wife who is a bit nuts and haunts the younger couple. Don’t want to say any more than that. It’s a small, but interesting film.
Finally got round to watching Ip Man and Ip Man 2 recently. These films are a semi-biographical account of Ip Man played by Donnie Yen. Ip Man was the master who trained Bruce Lee in Chinese martial arts specifically Wing Chun which mixes defence and attack in the same moves.
The first film concentrates on the rival schools in the enigmatic  Ip Man’s home town of Foshan renowned for its martial arts masters. Ip Man doesn’t run a school but is widely known as the best fighter in the town. He spends a lot of time practising and not a lot of time looking after his young son. He is well-off (for some reason not explained) and doesn’t have to work but then the Japanese invade and take over and everything is turned on its head. Ip Man gets to beat up lots of Japanese soldiers which would have probably gone down well in front of a Chinese cinema audience in much the same way that films such as Inglorious Basterds are enjoyed in the West.
There seems to be an excuse for a fight at every corner and there is an obligatory boss fight at the end of the film before an injured Ip Man and family escape to Hong Kong.
Ip Man 2 picks up pretty much straight after the first film and is I think a better film. Ip Man finally decides to set up a school largely based on the fact that it is the only thing he knows how to do and has to make money to pay the rent. However he has ignored the way things are done in HK and puts resident big-man Master Hong Zhen Nan’s nose out of joint (excellently played by Sammo Hung). He has to fight on top of a large table with as many Masters who wish to challenge him and he falls off the table he cannot open his school. Suffice to say (with a lot of wire work) he is not defeated and Nan grows a grudging respect for him over the course of the film.Enter the enemy – in this case not the Japanese army, but the English ex-pats who run the show (quite literally) in HK. An English world boxing champion is visiting (for reasons not thoroughly explained) and proceeds to piss everyone off and beat up Ip Man’s best pupil, and kill Nan much like Apollo Creed in Rocky 4. Obviously IP Man has to kick his ass in return to restore national pride in much the same way as he does in the first film. In a rather cheesy scene at the end a young Bruce Lee turns up and asks to be trained only to be told to come back when he’s older.
I thoroughly enjoyed both films because I like martial arts films in general and these two had reasonably believable plots (possibly helped by having to include certain facts from the Master’s real life).

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