Brittany Runs a Marathon
John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum
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Based on a popular manga about the exploitative and terrifying underbelly of the culture of beauty models and teenage icons that grace the magazine covers in Japan. Faultless airbrushed skin, bright colours and striking poses hide a dark strain on those constructed and marketed pieces of flesh, it what the narrative wants to capture, however the film itself has the airbrushed skin, bright colours and striking visuals but it is empty and lifeless in a jumbled narrative that is all over the place.
The director, Mika Ninagawa, herself coming from a background of photography and there are some really great visuals. There are these 5-6 minute collages of image and sound that really work, creative a real visceral feel bursting with energy but once these collages stop and narrative kicks in, there is corny dialogue, bizarre plot inclusions and a hell of a lot of seemingly pointless junk. Sometimes I felt that the only reason why a scene was included was just to provide a striking visual rather than move the plot in any positive direction.
Then there is the ending, the movie builds to this really strong climax, working on its striking visual strength, but it doesn't end there and 3 different endings come after it, all dreadful and cringe-worthy. Just like the rest of the film, impressive visuals eclipsed by terrible storytelling.
If there ever was fitting film to match Abbas Kiarostamiâ(TM)s quote âI donâ(TM)t mind if someone falls asleep while watching a film, as long as they dream about it afterâ? it is BelÃ¡ Tarrâ(TM)s most recent and apparently swan song film. It is one of the most boring, dull and sluggishly paced film that you will have watched but it has more resonance than a 8.0 earthquake. It shatters your perceptions of humanity and forces you to rebuild, or convince yourself that life isnâ(TM)t totally meaningless.
The withered faces, the brush of wind, the struggle of light and the potatoes, potatoes, potatoes create monotony that Tarrâ(TM)s marvellous one take shots guides through the viewers eyes, into their brain and forces them to contemplate. There are moments of grandeur in the mundane too every time Mihaly Vigâ(TM)s monstrous, lingering score drifts in like a weight on your concious.
It is a film relentless in itâ(TM)s forever grey filter of the world and is something Nietzsche would be proud of. The movie in fact starts with the story of Nietzsche seeing the a horse being beaten which put a halt on all his though and put him in bed till death. Evoking this BelÃ¡ Tarr calls the end of his illustrious career by showing us the dire state of humanity that Nietzsche was lucky enough to see and tempting us to follow in his footsteps.
John Hillcoat is a director who is travelling in an opposite direction, refocusing after creating a masterpiece instead of trying to create one. The Proposition was his masterpiece and in the wake he hasn't seemed to get the balance just right. He demonstrated with The Proposition that he is a director that can bring a distinct vision to screen, and in The Road, his vision is nothing but bold. But with where The Road I felt suffers was the imbalance in the aesthetic which took control from the characters and narrative, Lawless' balance is equally distorted.
Lawless is his most accessible film and he has sacrificed his vision for a more appealing and buckling action which is brutal but doesn't have the same visceral physicality that is in The Proposition, but an entertaining ferocity. Nick Cave's script also seems to sacrifice its fine wine acquired taste for a more popcorn clichÃ (C) smack, but that said it is an entertaining watch from start to finish.
You don't have much invested in the characters or the story, but you can't take your eyes off the sudden excessive spouts of violence and macho dialogue. This is helped by the great character performances, especially from the slithery Guy Pearce. This is very much a macho driven film, with the two females nothing but eye candy and love interest, but on this note I have to admit Jessica Chastain proves that she is a proper movie star. Last year she was in so many great films where she gave wonderful, subdued performances but here she is asked to be sexy and needy, a typical female Hollywood role and she does pull that off too.
I was entertained and felt the punches being pulled but I didn't really care why those punches were being pulled, I just enjoyed seeing violence with the bouncing soundtrack which is fantastic. Hopefully John Hillcoat will have more flexibility to do a visionary piece now this was such a hit.
Now, this may be an average score, but thatâ(TM)s not to say it is a completely average film, I was increasingly disappointed as the film unfolded rather than not completely bored. The first 20 minutes sets everything up so well, the chaotic city is carved out so well, the over-stylized gleam actually works to the tone, the gut wrenching violence was refreshing and most importantly the character of Judge Dredd was an brilliant portrayal.
It was all set up, and I thought it may become a fantastic exploration into this dire world where we will see the issues and morality of judge, jury and executioner. When he is paired with his new recruit, I thought a complex plot would unfold on the corruption of the city and the law, an almost police procedural with a whole, heavy, bloody and glitzy twist.
Unfortunately the plot descends after 20 odd minutes into, coincidently, the exact same plot of â~The Raidâ(TM) and instead of visceral and beautifully choreographed hand to hand combat, it is a series of bullets, bullets, bullets and the odd explosion. For a mindless action film, it does the job, but there is so much potential here that I couldnâ(TM)t once turn my mind off and enjoy. Replace the character of Judge Dredd with any generic action character and the plot would not be affected.
While shooting this film, Sergio Leone wanted rain to start during a scene so he waited for god to start filming, and when he did it did rain. This is visionary piece of film making by an artist who knows what he wants to achieve, which is the unachievable scale of American social history. Leone has crafted every scene that was so distinctly storyboarded in his mind that it transfers to the screen like the fruits of the most beautiful apple tree. But every apple is rotten, infected with worms and stinking with a rich odour, but Leone captivates you so much that you want to pick every apple and check if has at least one good bite. There are no likeable characters, and some of their actions are so vile but you are engrossed in their story for the entire 4 hours run time. Without giving anything away, he takes such incredibly bold steps in narrative, only such an established and invested director could achieve. The non-linear format is marvellous, and it flows in wonderful transitions and even if you're not always up to speed you huff and puff until you catch up. That is just the way the film has been created, let alone the magnificent performances through the whole cast with Robert De Niro the mesmerizing nucleus. The only nit picks I do have is that I sometimes got lost in it's scale and characters but it just makes me want to watch it again. It is a true artistic epic cinema and is a tragic story that it was completely destroyed by producers on it's initial American release.
The snappy chemistry between all the characters and 'Wesley' and 'Woody' never gets old, maybe just a little irritating. I like this film, it is just fun. Even though it never seems to tackle any issues that it may hint on raising, who cares it is just plain silly enjoyment. There is a weird change from Basketball to Television game show during the final act, but the mood of the film is so tongue-in-cheek, even if it is accidental I don't take any faults serious and take it in my viewer strides.
If you have never seen a Todd Solondz film than you will probably enjoy this alot more. My problem with it is that it feels Solondz is very indulgent and lazy fitting this film together with pieces that he has shown us multiple times before. Not one time in this film is there that fun house balance of over the top darkness and comedy that is in 'Happiness', it is either just awkward or flat. It is very very predictable which is one of the worst things that a Solondz film should be.
I really liked 'Another Earth', I thought it was full of indie charm and Brit Marling to be a terrific screen presence so I was really looking forward to her next film. She co-write this too with director Zal Batmanglij, and for what it is worth her performance as the mesmerising prophet of the cult is great. She still is in my eyes a fantastic screen presence and one to definitely keep an eye out for over the next few years. Unfortunately, unlike 'Another Earth' the screenplay does not have the indie charm factor, but instead is frustrating like an annoying vague hipster who doesn't really know what they want to say, but strings together just enough cool words to hopefully sound prophetic. There is a lot that is built up in the first two chapters that purposely never get answered in an attempt to be vague, ambiguous and interesting. It did not work for me, because I don't think the first two acts were strong and interesting enough to carry a vague final act, I saw the first to acts as supporting roles for a hopeful, climactic finally. However, I may not have enjoyed this film but I still am really eager to see what Brit Marling does next.
This is the first film on my list of 'films to watch AFTER I have read the book' and it is a narrative of twists and turns so whatever you watch or read first it has a major impact on whether you watch or read it after. Saying this, even though I knew the climax, watching the film I still felt every bit of tension and lingering dread that the book captures in vivid description. This is a huge credit to Polanski, the film is crafted both in mechanically efficient way in production, but so fluid in artistry and guile. However, the true diamond of this picture is Mia Farrow's performance. She is fantastic and you can not take you eyes off her, she blankets herself in gripping dress of suspense. A great film, and one of the best in it's genre.
A thoroughly enjoyable and frighting piece of cinema that lives up to its reputation. However, even though it maintains a creepy presence throughout, I do find the actual characters quite flat and uninteresting (except the detective, who is really just bit part). This alongside the fact I felt that I saw too much of the horror at times took away from the overall creepy presence. Other than that it is well scripted, well paced and superbly directed by William Friedkin.
There is a lot about this film I like, but also, I ask myself the question of whether it is the play or the way it has been transferred to film. I think the reason why I feel 'Killer Joe' is Friedkin's better Tracey Letts adaptation is because when watching that, you can see it is a play unfolding, and it still holds the fantastic dialogue of Letts, but it also has the power of telling you the story through the cinematic lens. With 'Bug' I think some of the dialogue and focus of intensity of the dialogue could have been helped out more by Friedkin's direction, as he does in 'Killer Joe'. Nonetheless, this is a fascinating film that is really well acted and has a final 20 minutes that you can not ignore.
There is a really good film somewhere here. Unfortunately, a lot of that film seems to have hit the cutting room floor. The cast is so good, all fantastic actors and they do all perform, but there is so much missing that monologues and climactic seems of many of the supporting characters seem out of nowhere because there hasn't been much to build it up on. This unfortunately reduces a lot these high dramatic scenes to questionable, jarring scenarios. An example being Lucy Lui's breakdown, but although many other characters may have been shown feeling the strain, hers wasn't. And Bryan Cranston is in the final cut of the film for about 2 minutes, literally. I think Tony Kaye tried to keep the ensemble cast balanced as background leaving Brody to shine, but in doing so, leaves only Adrian Brody to shine briefly. I think this film would have worked so well if Tony Kaye was as brave a director as Sion Sono and decided to screw convention and make this film 4 hours long to give dedicated time and effort to all the supporting cast, coz all of them were great characters that did not have the time they deserved. He could have done that or he could have just stayed out of the editing room and got in a proper editor. It is a shame, still there is enough interesting things going on to keep you watching and to an extent engaged, even if it is at time incoherent.
A film with this hype is so hard to review. even though I have given it 7, which is really good, and I did really enjoy it, but it will still seen as though I am slating it. There is so much praise to give to this film. I will keep this *spoiler free*. The struggle which Bruce Wayne goes through is so well paced, and so boldly paced for a box office film. And Bane, I thought Tom Hardy was fantastic, he was oozing power, control and 'political undertones' in his intelligence. A really rich performance which perfectly contrasts the frail, 'broken bat' that Batman appears to be in the film, wearing leg braces, struggling to move and even being not as sharp as the previous instalment (set 8 previous years according to the film). I even was pleasantly surprised by Anne Hathaway's Catwoman. It was really well executed and she performed it great too. The action set pieces are super exciting, and again the minimal use of all out CGI makes it so visceral. The ending is very satisfying too, it felt for most of a perfect wrap to what has been a great trilogy. My problems with the film however that make me prefer the previous ones is that firstly, I felt the script, especially for building narrative in the first half hour was at times really flat. I was being told exactly what is happening in blunt, melodramatic fashion. For example there is a monologue that Alfred says, it is well typically emotionally delivered by Michael Caine, but there is a heavy use of the score and a clichÃ (C) flashback which just reduces the performance completely, or when Bruce talks about Rachel, he spells out exactly what he feels in a clear sentence, there is no craft in the dialogue in a few of these early scenes...I think the reason this is because Nolan doesn't have time to subtly built exposition. Even though the film is almost 3 hours long, the amount of time, characters, relationships and plot points it covers is vast. He is fitting too many comic books into one that even with his incredible skill as a director to layer huge narratives into order, Nolan struggled to keep it concise yet have it feel to develop naturally. At times the character of Batman/ Bruce Wayne was so engulfed in all the narratives around him he seems the shallowest he has in all 3 films. Still, even with these flaws, there is so much that is right and there is no question it is a fantastic cinema experience, a fantastic superhero film and though the film as a whole may not be the best in the trilogy, it ends in a very satisfying way.