Da 5 Bloods
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I May Destroy You
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Lets just say that this manages to be different enough but at the same time a follow on to the original and for this alone Blade Runner 2049 deserves to be applauded.
I confess to be huge fan of Christopher Nolan's work and whilst a good film Dunkirk left me a little underwhelmed. Maybe my expectations were too high after seeing all of the very positive reviews. I was lucky enough to see this on an IMAX screen and the look and feel of the film is superb. Shots of the RAF in full flight particular really stood out. However, I found the multiple concurrent stories difficult to follow at times although making events in a war confusing might well have been Nolan's intention.
My biggest gripe with Dunkirk is that I didn't get enough of a sense of the epic scale of the evacuation. For example 300,000 - 400,000 troops rescued by what felt to me like only a handful of civilian boats seemed understated to the extreme. The few allied boats that were there seemed to only serve the purpose of being blown to pieces although it has been explained to me that they were severely restricted. I particularly liked the RAF part of the story and especially how this chapter ended as it would have been very easy to go all Hollywood with this. I was also a fan of how it suggested that despite being allies with the French they were most definitely down the pecking order when it came to rescue with a deep seated suspicion clearly evident amongst the British.
The best DC film since The Dark Knight. This is mainly due to the two central performances. I cannot remember seeing the camera love someone as much as it does Gadot.
A life form is found on Mars and is cultivated in a lab on board a space station that is in orbit around the earth. It begins to evolve and change in an unexpected way that puts the crew in danger and that's about all I can say really without giving anything away.
I was really surprised and impressed by this film and it has the kind of ending that I tend to love in a story. I've seen many references to Alien and whilst there are some similarities Life has enough in it to differentiate it from that classic. There is also influences from films such as Gravity. I think that one underlying difference is that unlike Alien, the crew's plight is entirely self-inflicted and this changes things for me. Mankind meddles with nature and this is what could happen. Some scenes very brutal and graphic with nice use of effects in zero gravity.
The cast is good and the more I see Jake Gyllenhaal the more I am impressed by him (e.g. Nightcrawler and Southpaw). Also pleased that the captain from the marvellous Sunshine (Hiroyuki Sanada) is in this.
As far as zombie films go there is nothing ground-breaking about Train to Busan but it is nethertheless very well done indeed. It reminded me a little of the excellent 28 Days Later in that the story is more about the relationships forged by those trying to survive the outbreak. Also to its credit is that the story doesn't necessarily go the way you expect it to.
Very sexually explicit, violent but an interesting premise with a decent cast. You would think these are all good things but High Rise was way too weird for my liking. It is very possible that reading the book would help appreciate this more but films such as Snow piercer did a much better job of the hierarchy of society metaphor that this is trying to highlight.
The building that Laing (Hiddleston) moves into represents society with the rich at the top and great unwashed at the bottom. All is well at first but the friction between the floors turns ugly with the distance between the haves and the have nots growing with order failing and the building suffering as a result.
Plenty of (very nearly) naked Hiddleston and a line from Sienna Miller (with a horse) that almost made me spit out my wine weren't enough to save this film for me but others may well differ. Also add to this eating horse and dog and some dog drowning into the bargain. The story just felt overly muddled and went way over my head in all honesty.
I loved Cloverfield and as a result was looking forward to this. Always a danger as my high expectations are rarely realised these days. 10 Cloverfield Lane met these throughout until the very dodgy ending but this did not detract from my overall enjoyment.
In Cloverfield the earth is invaded by space monsters and this film is set against the backdrop of this. In the midst of it all "kicking off" Michelle (Mary Winstead) is involved in a car accident and wakes up in a room where she believes she is being held against her will (maybe the handcuffs are a valid reason for this). Howard (John Goodman) explains to her that this is not the case so who are you gonna believe?
Thought provoking stuff which highlights the cult of celebrity and the best and worst of human nature.
A sportstar placed on a pedalstool by the public to the point were he believed himself to be above the rules and laws that apply to most others. Someone who at the height of his sporting prowess shunned his fellow mans struggles only to heavilly lean on this emotion when the situation suited. Wrong on all sides and nobody emerges with any real credit. What this series achieves in my opinion is as much of a balance than it possibly could. A situation where even some of the right intentions are clearly wrong.
Nowhere near as bad as people are making out yet still nowhere near as good as it could\should have been. Zack Snyder owes us all.
My Mum is from the generation of people that still like to think that the world was a better and safer place when people like the Krays were around (tell that to Jack the Hat McVities family). None of those child molesters or dodgy types as she would say so how ironic that one of the brothers turns out to be one of the very same. I've never been too keen on the glamourisation or romanticism of murderers or criminals and Legend did nothing to alter this. Hardy is very good but then he usually is at everything he does and I liked the look and feel of the film which was convincing throughout. However, the film is just missing something. Maybe it's just that although I liked the interaction between the two brothers I just couldn't warm to either of them. I also didn't care too much when people got bumped off or put in prison. I suppose the person I liked the most was Ronnie Krays mother in law (Tara Fitzgerald) who was not intimidated by the Krays and wore Black in protest to the wedding of her daughter Frances. Using a line that wouldn't be out of place in the film.........she's a quality bird who doesn't mess.
Do your best to get over Joseph Gordon-Levitt and the worst French accent since the English undercover Policeman in Allo Allo and you will be rewarded. I've often said that one good scene does not make a film but The Walk proved to be an exception to this. When Pettit (Levitt) performs the walk across the twin towers it is nothing short of incredible. Yet again I wish I had seen this part in an IMAX cinema as I've heard reference that it is the best use of IMAX and 3D since Avatar.
Philippe Pettit earns a living by street performing but has a dream of doing something out of the ordinary, something truly unique and artistic. He stumbles across an article about the construction of the World Trade Centre which is soon to become the tallest building in the world and decides that he will walk a tightrope between them. He encounters Papa Rudy (Ben Kingsley) who runs the local circus and hires him to oversee and mentor his progression. He meets a fellow street performer in Annie (the outrageously pretty Charlotte Le Bon) who becomes his lover and a major source of encouragement. As a test run he hangs a rope between Notre Dame's towers and walks it. Then comes the main event which is planned and carried out with the precision of a bank heist. The towers are very close to completion and Petit knows that he has to make the attempt before this happens to be able to realise his dream.
I've been a fan of Gordon-Levitt ever since 3rd Rock from the Sun and being involved in 500 Days of Summer and the Christopher Nolan films means that he is in significant credit with me. Despite this I think that some will find him irritating in this maybe even preventing some from persevering and reaching the worthwhile finale. Ben Kingsley is as solid as he always is and Le Bon is also very likable. I particularly liked his friend and accomplice Jeff (César Domboy) who suffers from Vertigo and of course you just know that this fear is going to be of significance somewhere along the line (pun intended).
I saw the very good documentary Man On Wire some time ago which catalogues this feat but from what I remember Petit became obsessed with it to the point where he became unlikeable and intolerable. This was also a major factor in the breakup of his relationship with Annie and although this is very briefly touched upon in The Walk it is not given as much importance as it perhaps should have. Maybe watch Man On Wire to fill in the gaps and watch this for the main event itself. The fact that the towers are no longer there gives an added mystique to this achievement as it is something that can never be done again.
Why climb Everest? As the universally respected mentalist George Mallory very famously remarked....."..because it is there".
I remember having a disagreement once in a pub with someone who described climbing Everest in this day and age as a "corporate jolly". Two hundred corpses in the Death Zone still there to this day tells me otherwise and this film touches on the beginning of ascending Everest as a business. The summit basically has its own weather system and typically in any year only allows a small 2 week window to get up there (and back). Add the problem of congestion from too many climbers with too little experience and no general organisation and everyone is at a greater risk.
The story basically follows a number of expeditions up to the summit. Most are different nationalities and the parties we follow are rival companies who offer tours to the summit lead by Scott Fischer (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Rob Hall (Jason Clarke). Everyone has their own different reasons for attempting the climb. Both Fischer's and Halls parties have a journalist among their number and they are determined to reach the summit to avoid any adverse publicity. The problem is that risks are taken that wouldn't have been otherwise and it has consequences for everyone involved.
Everest looks phenomenal and the mountain is without a doubt the star of the film, many scenes are shot with IMAX cameras and I really wished I had seen this at the BFI IMAX. I've a long held fascination with the highest mountain on Earth and this film reignited this. What made it all the more interesting to me is that it is a true story and having looked into this afterwards most of the bits that you might think have been jazzed up in the name of Hollywood actually did happen and some of the more unbelievable parts of the true story haven't been included. Although it's very good I do feel deep down that this film could have been something even more given the source material. A different style of film I admit but watch Touching The Void to see what I mean by this.
I think JJ Abrams has managed to perform the same trick with The Force Awakens that he did very successfully with his Star Trek reboots. What I mean is this is nothing new on the others in the franchise but he hasn't meddled too much with the bits that we like. It has the look and certainly the feel of Episode 4 and there are so many nods to this throughout that fans will recognise. Like Episode 4 it has a bar scene (with a band), a Jedi mind trick, a droid central to the mission, a massacre that changes everything and parental issues. There's more that I cannot recall right now but this is no bad thing.
A couple of questions did spring to mind, firstly, who has the contract for building Death Stars in the Star Wars universe? Whoever does must surely be considered the wealthiest and most powerful entity out there. I also have a question about the design of space stations in the Sci-Fi universe and why do they insist on building razor thin walkways with no rails and a perilous drop either side? Isn't there such a thing as the Intergalactic Department for Health and Safety? If so then they need to stop sipping on Pan Galactic Gargleblasters at lunchtime and up their game.
The flow of the film is very slick with excellent action sequences (esp. in IMAX) and it doesn't feel like a two hour plus film. Performances are good with perhaps Daisy Ridley (Rey) being the standout as it was difficult not to warm to her. Kylo Ren was also a decent baddie and what The Force Awakens does is introduce new characters, reintroduce old ones and setup things for the next one so hopefully (as with Star Trek) the best is yet to come.
I found the central character Amy the GeezerBird unlikeable throughout and this proved a problem for me in TrainWreck. Other than the fact that she was very unfussy about who she slept with I couldn't work out why anybody (other than family) bothered with her. She wasn't kind, considerate or sensitive in any way and yet she somehow attracted some nice blokes. This alone in most cases would be a showstopper but what rescues it a little is the cameos in the film. Jon Cena (yes, the wrestler) is funny and his "I look like I ate Mark Wahlberg" line was particularly funny. I also enjoyed Daniel Radcliffe and Marisa Tomeis black and white arthouse film cameo. It reminded me a little of the black and white film mickey takes in the marvellous 500 Days Of Summer. LeBron James (yes, THE) also not bad at times and as for Tilda Swinton, well you really have to see her in this to believe its actually her. Amazing work on the makeup front.
In not a huge fan of Judd Apatos work (Bridesmaids and Get Him To The Greek excepted) and I'm not familiar with Amy Schumer's stand up (I hear she is a comedian when not exposing herself for calendars). Maybe this point is key, if you are a fan of either or both, then the chances are that you will enjoy this. It's just that Trainwreck suffers from not being my cup of tea but when all is said and done this may be a good thing.
Whilst definitely better than its RottenTomatoes score suggests Child 44 should be a lot better than it is when you consider its very talented cast.
Set in 1950s Russia the theme throughout is that there is no crime in paradise. Except that there is and if this really is paradise then it's a million miles away from most people's idea of it. My idea of paradise is of a fruit machine at a poolside with a lingerie clad beauty serving me a pint of mild and 20 Woodbines whilst a dwarf runs around on a cock horse (too much Happy Gilmore influence). What this period does have is some severe haircuts, grim weather and some damn fine coats supplied by the military.
Leo (Tom Hardy) is a Ukrainian orphan (his parents lovingly starved to death by Stalin) and decorated war hero. His wife Raisa (Noomi Rapace) is a cold fish who does not love him. This is obvious to everyone except Leo and his party piece is telling the tale of how he stalked her on the train and how she even tried to evade him by giving a false name upon their first encounter. I half expected alcohol and roofies to be involved and a chat up line something along the lines of "Does this smell like Chloroform to you?" but Leo is an honourable man at heart so we will have none of that caddish behaviour. Leo eventually falls foul of the state for performing his job in a right and proper way whilst the son of his closest friend dies in suspicious circumstances on a train line. An accident concludes the state and why should we doubt this. Leo is then sent to the salt mines of Siberia or somewhere similar where he teams up with Colonel K from DangerMouse (Gary Oldman). Together they try to solve the case whilst avoiding the attention of the seemingly omnipresent authorities.
The cast is truly excellent and ive a lot of time for the likes of Hardy, Rapace, Oldman, Vincent Cassel and Paddy Considine. Except that the sum of the parts should have provided a much greater whole and Child 44 is a let-down in this regard. Also too long and slow at over 2 hours in length but I usually find that says a lot if you feel this way about any film that you are watching. My final thought to half quote a song from the 80s, Nice cast shame about the pace.