Archive for the Films Category

Lesbian Vampire Killers Review

Posted in Films, Review with tags , , on 5 March, 2009 by J-Man

 

Best. Film. Title. Ever. These are my thoughts as I look with joy at the tickets to Lesbian Vampire Killers clutched in my claw-like hands. Full disclosure: I know Matt Horne, so while I may be slightly biased, I did in fact enjoy Lez Vamp Killers. The super-secret-film-biz-people-only screening meant I was sitting amongst some of the most cynical people in the industry, and despite the fact most of them are cold husks of the people they used to be, soulless automatons desperately trying to claw their way into Cannes or Tribeca (the ones doing so bathing in the waters of glory, the others roaming the streets sorrowfully, devoid of a distributor), most of them did in fact laugh out loud (or LOL, as the internet would say) at the jokes in LVK.

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The plot is a piss-take on your generic vampire story; vampires have taken over an isolated hamlet, and a descendant of a warrior must slay them to free the yadda yadda yadda. Thankfully Homosexual Blood-seeking-creature Slayers understands that this stuff will instantly bore even the most devoted vampire fanboy, so within the first five minutes we have half-naked lesbians making out, hilarious decapitations and of course the obligatory lesbian sex jokes.

While usually I dislike the generic piss-take film, Female-loving Blood-drinker Hunters manages to pull it off without resorting to the god-awful jokes you’d find in something like Epic Movie. While Corden plays the usual recently-fired-slacker, he does it with such a degree of charisma and acting that my cynical preconceptions evaporated within the first 20 minutes. Horne acts as the foil to Corden; the over-sensitive and polite guy being exploited by his girlfriend. The fact that he acts so meek at the start means his jokes at the end are all the more funnier.

Corden generally overshadows Horne comic-wise but in acting ability they’re about equal, and work well as a duo. The other actors, specifically MyAnna Buring and Paul McGann are competent, but never equal the main duo.

Not to say the entire film was great; it clearly is very, very low-budget. The scene in which Horne gets dumped appears to be have filmed in an empty wooden shed, the main cottage where they stay looks like its made out of cardboard, and all the forest sets look the same.

However, this is only noticeable when you look closely at the film. The direction pretty much covers it up well, with shots mainly being on the actors, and there are few static shots that are long enough to let one truly see the sets.

What the direction couldn’t cover up, however, is the awful special effects. Still, if you’re coming to a film called Lesbian Vampire Killers expecting something with the special effects of The Dark Knight, you should probably take a reality check.

No, these flaws are all acceptable, but the main problem is more evident; the script. It was perhaps a little under-developed. After the fourth scene of the two running through a forest being chased by (admittedly sexeh) vampires, I was starting to get a little bored. For me the first half was the best, where we still had the amusing dysfunctional relationship between Horne and his girlfriend, as well as the hilarious group of pretty-but-dumb art students. If they had perhaps fleshed the script out, and had the characters being picked off with more than just a few scenes in between, I would have been on the edge of my seat throughout, as it is I was entertained, but the ending just didn’t live up to the beginning.

In short, see it with friends, and don’t take it too seriously. As a light-hearted comedy, it’s great.

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BAFTA Results

Posted in Films with tags , , , on 8 February, 2009 by J-Man

Disappointing. Slumdog Millionaire swept the board, nabbing several BAFTAs, including editing, which is extremely annoying, because I wanted Lee Smith of Batman to get it. In Bruges received only 1 award, and Rourke nabbed Best Actor. Still, there’s the videogame BAFTAs in March to look forward to.

In Defence of Mr. Bale

Posted in Films with tags , , , , , on 5 February, 2009 by J-Man

So, pretty bad, eh? There’s been tons of people on forums condemning him for this, so here’s my official defence of him.

First off, the life of an actor is stressful. Bale might have done this scene over half a dozen times before this, and he specifically says this is the 2nd time the DP (Director of Photography has done it. “It”? What is “it”? I hear you ask.

When an actor does a (especially intense) scene, the crew is expected to be extremely silent. In fact, they don’t yell “lights, camera, action”, they yell “silence on set, rolling, action”, to make sure everyone is aware of what’s happening. The crew is then expected to stand still, so as not to distract the actors. The DP decided to check a light in the middle of Bale’s scene, which to be honest, certainly is amateur-ish. Especially when the DP does it, as he’s meant to be the second-in-command to the director.

Bale also could have worked for several hours before this, and it might have taken several takes to get each scene, so stress is understandable.

You might also notice the wimpy director’s voice in the background. If an actor goes nuts, it’s  the director’s job to calm them down. Having a guy that sounded as patronising as that probably would have pissed me off as well.

EDIT: Here’s a remix.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Posted in Films, Review with tags , , , , , on 2 February, 2009 by J-Man

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This is one of those films that without a doubt, certainly and absolutely, will divide people. Its like Burn After Reading in that its an observation of human psychology, politics and philosophy (although in Burn it was more about morality). Here’s the premise, without spoilers: 2 american tourists go to Spain, are approached by Javier Bardem, and offered a weekend of wine, candle-lit dinners and… well… sex.

The plot progresses from there, the 2 american tourists acting as each other’s foil. Vicky (Rebecca Hall) is the sensible one, with perfect ideas of what she wants from love, and Cristina (Scarlett Johnasson) is the wilder, bisexual one, with a more Nietzschean approach to love, resigned to suffering, but knowing she could obtain some happiness from it.

Throw in the womanizing, bohemian Javier Bardem as Juan Antonio, and the neurotic and crazed Penelope Cruz as his ex wife, and you have a pretty damn good romantic drama, with love quadrilaterals, depressing looks at the committment involved in marriage, and philosophical bitterness.

Bardem and Cruz absolutely nail their roles, creating a completely believable yet dysfunctional couple, who’s desire for Cristina add another dimension to what could have been a plain ol’ three-way love triangle.

Woody Allen brings great direction, creating a beautiful portrayal of rural Spain, but this is eclipsed by the story, which takes a dominant role over the aesthetic part of the film.

Some called this a return to Woody Allen’s classic humour, but I totally disagree. Not once did I laugh (not necessarily a bad thing), compared to Love & Death where I giggled every other sentence.

So why will this film divide people exactly? It’s the ending, and it brings to mind There Will be Blood. You’ve invested in the film, care about the characters, want some conclusion, and it’s just open-ended and vague. Now as a film buff I can deal with that, but others won’t. They’ll stomp their feet and wonder why its not a happy ending, and how nobody’s learnt anything, and that its the directors job to literally tell you what happens, giving no room for any personal creative thought.

So let me simplify things; this isn’t a conventional film. Neither was Blood or Burn, and this is in the same vein, so if you didn’t like those two (brilliant) pieces of cinema, you’re not going to like this one.

However, the soundtrack is absolute gold, with spanish guitars and female vocals singing tales of love (pienso, hablo poco espanol) over the well directed film. There’s no numerical rating for this one, because it will most certainly be different for each viewer.

A look back at 2008

Posted in Films, Gaming, Literature, Music, TV with tags , , , , , , , , , on 2 January, 2009 by J-Man

Music:

Places like this – Architecture in Helsinki

An absolutely brilliant album by an absolutely brilliant band. The only songs I disliked where Feather in a Baseball Cap and Underwater. The first was the only down-beat song in the album, and felt oddly out of place. The latter was extremely repetitive and slightly boring at the end. However, Like it or Not and Lazy (lazy) stole the limelight, and are possibly the two-most listented to songs on my iPod.

Tweekend Advance – The Crystal Method

A slight let-down. I heard Name of the Game in the film “Tropic Thunder” and thought it was my thing. However, the album was full of overly-similar and underwhelming beat-driven songs. Disappointing.

Films

In (fuckin’) Bruges (wit’ you?!)

Absolutely brilliant film, definitely the best of the year. In case you’re wondering why I haven’t posted recently, it’s because I went to Bruges, inspired by the film. Colin Farell is brilliant as the insolent yet charismatic protagonist, with Ralph Fiennes playing the English boss. Although the music was dodgy in parts, it was fantastic.

in-bruges

Waltz with Bashir

Another brilliant film, and definitely shocking at the end. Slightly repetitive in that there’s perhaps too much action, but otherwise was great.

The Baader-Meinhoff Complex

This one follows the story of several terrorists/freedom-fighters as they try to survive imprisonment in a judicial system. It’s interesting in that makes the protagonists morally ambiguous. I found myself warming up to a few of them, despite terrorist activities.

Burn After Reading

A very funny and well-directed observation of human morals and motivation. Criticised by many for a confusing story, its strength lies in the fact it doesn’t actually have a conventional plot. It’s just a bunch of characters and their reactions to what’s happening around them.

Literature

Catcher in the Rye – Salinger

At one point the USA’s second most taught book and most censored peice of literature, it’s brilliant. It’s a semi-existentialist look at a disenchanted teenager’s visit to New York after being expelled. It’s written superbly, and had me hooked from start to end.

Consolations of Philosophy – De Botton

A short, but incredibly useful philosophical book that shows the reader how philosophy can help in day-to-day situations with things like anger, lack of money, unpopularity, inadequacy, difficulties and the end of romantic relationships. It’s well written, and was apparently turned into a TV series.

The Trial – Kafka

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I read the graphic novel version of the book, which is a surrealist tale of beauracracy and sex, as well as having incredible visuals. It’s confusing in some points, and depressing in the end, but it’s a great read, and I strongly recommend.

Che: A graphic biography – Spain Rodriguez

Another great graphic novel, this one about one of the best communists ever; Che. It displays his life from start to finish, fighting the good fight against American imperialism. Slightly biased in that it shows few of his mistakes, but one of the best things about him was that he admitted his mistakes when he made them.

Games

There’s a massive Steam sale on, which lasts until the 2nd (tomorrow), with games reduced to frankly silly prices. Bioshock is £3.50, and Trials 2, which I got, is £1.50. It’s one of those infuriating, yet hilarious games, and Chris Livingston sums up the feeling at 1fort.

Aside from that, I’m slowly becoming disenchanted with the FPS, thanks to IGN. So instead, I’m substituting my usual fare with some indie greats, like N, in which you a play a little ninja jumping around 2-d levels. No, don’t run away. The beauty is that when you perform moves perfectly, leap past the enemies trying to hit you with lasers, and then jump on top of a block hurtling towards you at a lethal speed and use it as a lift, everything seems incredible. It makes me look forward to Mirror’s Edge far more.

TV

Dexter

Another succesful series, but yet again I have the feeling the writers will soon run out of ideas. However, now that Dexter’s married he has to juggle living with a family with murdering villains. Some people say it’s formulaic and Dexter is put in a good light because he only kills bad people, but the point is he kills bad people because it’s easier for him.

Robot Chicken

Another teensy-tiny series by Seth Green, but this was alleviated by the release of the second Star Wars spoof. Utterly hilarious again, I hope they keep making ’em as good as this.

Other Stuff

Barack Obama

Bout frickin’ time. Nevertheless, if any thing at all goes wrong in 2009, Fox News will pounce at the chance to slander him with all their dirty republican abilities. Note: I fucking hate Fox.

Bruges

Was fun. I was there for three days, and it was certainly not a shithole. It’s weird though. It’s like the town is split into three. In the south you have the big streets, dirty markets and a few nice parks, in the middle it’s like a gothic medieval town with cathedrals, canals and squares, and in the north it turns into a quaint little french town. Brussels, on the other hand, is undoubtedly a shit hole of epic proportions. It feels like the dirty end of Tottenham Court Road everywhere you go.

Quantum of Solace Review

Posted in Films, Review with tags , , , on 24 December, 2008 by J-Man

Verdict: Utter genero-action film.

Quidditch of Solarium

Oh boy. This is gonna be a tough one. Maybe I should do a Zero Punctuation thing, and make this into a mini-podcast of my hatred for this film. Then again, my microphone is broken, so I’ll make do with this keyboard. This is basically a lesson in how not to make a Bond film. Go back to the Sean Connery days of Bond, and there are 3 things that are apparent in every film; social stealth, gadgets (including cool cars), and finally a certain level of suave-ness. Quantum of Solace has none of these. There’s not a single scene without action, which I would usually appreciate, but the fact this means a sacrifice of story and character development means I began to loathe the non-stop gunfest that is “Quantum.”

Moving on, Daniel Craig is the most unenthusiastic Bond I have ever seen, trumping my deep-seated enmity towards Pierce Brosnan. Aside from the non-stop pouting, he’s now a cold-blooded, merciless terminator. In every other scene he either kills innocent policemen just trying to do their job, or performs some feat that would require the strength of Hulk Hogan to do in real life. An example would be when he sends a motorcycle flipping through the air by simply slapping the handlebars with his palm. Or when he snaps off a metal doorknob with apparently no effort. Finally, if you’re going to have Craig scarred, bruised and bloody after every scene, make sure there’s continuity. Last time I remembered, you can’t heal multiple lacerations to the face in less than 24 hours.

In fact, I no longer classify the Bond series as original. The fact that if you put Quantum of Solace and Bourne Ultimatum together and can’t see the difference (like me) greatly pisses me off. And they didn’t even plagiarise correctly! Where Ultimatum had a strong story which actually provided proper motivation for the protagonist, Quantum of Solace provides the plotline “Holy shit there’s some baddies in some South American country let’s go shoot them!” As for the use of “all 4 elements” that the director never shuts up about in his interviews, no-one gives a shit whether the action is at sea or on land, as long as it’s good. In fact, it seems they’re trying to compensate for the dire story by throwing on so many novelties that it just gets boring. Director: If you switch to a different country every 10 minutes, you lose the effect.

Well, I’m past my preferred word count of 400, but you need to be warned about this film. Even if you didn’t go to the cinema to see it, and are just wondering whether to pirate it or not, don’t. Actually, do. It’ll rob the director of the money he doesn’t deserve. Note: this is in no way an endorsement of piracy, just a joke. *Cough*

Waltz with Bashir review

Posted in Films, Review with tags , , on 20 December, 2008 by J-Man

In short, this is my film of the year. It’s consistently brilliant throughout in every way I can think of, and it definitely sits among my top 10 films.

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In my typical fashion, I’ll deal with the technical side first:

fucking brilliant.

Moving on… Nah, I kid. The artwork is gorgeous, using my favourite technique of all time; using colour to represent emotions. The washed-out yellowness at the climax of the film suited it perfectly, and the frequent use of this brings beauty to what could have been an entirely bleak film. The animation is great, although it isn’t rotoscoped the animators have still been able to show emotions on the faces of all the characters.

In fact, the film is solely based on characters, rather than events. The centre of the plot is a former Israeli soldier with amnesia, pushed into searching for his past through hallucinations of a certain massacre he witnessed. He does this by talking to other people who were involved in the war, and thus allows the film-makers to explore different narratives and storyline while still relating it to the protagonist of the film.

It can be bleak in parts, depressing in others and uplifting in none, but that doesn’t stop it from being emotionally affecting and moving. I think an 18 rating is too high, there’s only 1 scene with sex, and the worst part is the real pictures of the massacre. I’m going off-track here, but surely images of an event that actually happened shouldn’t be concealed from us. Sadly genocide happens, and we can’t just pretend it doesn’t for the childrens’ sake.

Anyway, the film wraps up nicely by showing us the reality rather than the hallucination. It’s a deep film, and I recommend you see it. Definitely worth a BAFTA, hell, even an Oscar.