Shadow Dancer (2012) – Views

Shadow Dancer looks great, proper serious thriller based around the troubles in Belfast during the 90’s. Always a bigger basher of Northern Irish ‘troubles’ films but to be honest this looks great. Hard to expect anything else from James March. A foreigner(Cornwall) coming in to do a ‘troubles’ film always gives me goosebumps and a ranty blog. This however with its cast, grimy cinematography and what looks like a decent twist and turn plot with a hint of romance could be a real cracker. Look forward to seeing it.

America’s Sweethearts (2001) – A view

I shall advise you not to watch America’s Sweethearts as John Cusack puts in a better performance in the below 20 second clip than he does in an hour and thirty minutes of America’s Sweethearts boredom.

 Thought I would give an overly horribly reviewed rom-com a go, its got Julie Roberts and John Cusack so it has to be half decent. You would hope so anyway. The film is slow to start, patchy throughout and a complete bore. Surprisingly though Catherine Zeta Jones is actually rather good…..lolz no she aint she’s shocking……..Avoid if possible.

Coriolanus (2011) – A view

Having not watched a Shakespearean film/tv adaption since that glorious 1997 adaption of Macbeth with my old favorite, Brian Blessed. Coriolanus had a tough act to follow.
I am not a Shakespeare fan so this story was unknown to me but it soon neatly unfolded with weird mother son connections and betrayal as one would expect from an Englishman’s pen.(I jest)


The story that we see is that of the soldier Coriolanus fighting to protect Rome from its enemies and then be rewarded by being put forward as the senate. At this point in the film I was beginning to sway (mentally not physically) as to if I would enjoy this, it started to dry up and the long rambling Shakespearean dialogue was beginning to take its toll as I would frequently zone out.
Then came along Jimmy Nesbitt. Have to say I was impressed by the full cast, some great performances but for me James Nesbitt really caught my eye and ear. The Northern Irish accent seemed to suit the Shakespearean dialogue so well and his sneaky role was played to perfection.
There then is a bizarre Jeremy Kyle style TV debate and it is decided that Coriolanus is to be banned from Rome. It all happened so quickly and some bizarre character changes happened far to fast but what happened next for me was the best bit of the film. We see Coriolanus as he is by himself heading to find his sworn enemy Aufidius. Throughout the film we have had close up shots of Coriolanus in battle or in anger showing his aggression, concentration and frustration but now we get wide open shots but beautiful delicate diegetic sound of footsteps and birds. This is framed by beautiful greys and blue as he walks through open landscapes and depicts his confused, lonely and betrayed character.

Coriolanus then gives his life over to his enemies and asks that he may seek revenge with them upon Rome. People come ask them not to, his mum, wife, son and cleaner arrive, crying talk of wombs etc and then he decides to sign a peace treaty. Its all very nicey nicey. Oh yeah and then he gets stabbed to death by the men he had just fought along side. Thee End.

Overall as I said before a brilliant cast and was only disappointed by Jessica Chastain who plays her role as Coriolanus’s wife perfectly but it is pretty much the exact same role as Mrs. O’Brien from The Tree of Life. The loving caring wife who does no`t say to much and always seeks to impress. She is perfect for it but would like to see her in some different roles. I haven’t seen her in much else though so should not be tough on her, great actress.

Over all great film, misleading trailer which literally has used only the dialogue that is not Shakespearean to make it seem a bit more relevant. The violent and gruesome scenes could be cut back a bit, no need really and they do not show some beautiful cinematography and instead focus on the fighting side. Id give it a solid B+. Trailer is below give it a watch and let me know what you think.

Grabbers (2012), Shadow Dancer (2012) and Irish Film- A pre View

Now I am not a big fan of horror, it is one of those genre’s I find cheap, tacky and inappropriate. In recent years films like Saw, Paranormal activity and HC (Not even gona write it) have flown past me without as much as a glance to see any. I have no interest in seeing that sort of gore, perhaps from my moral standpoint but also because watching people getting killed aint really that great.

This whole viewpoint may be turned upside down however,  staying away from stereotypes, cliches and that cheap tacky look comes an Irish Horror, Grabbers.

“When an island off the coast of Ireland is invaded by bloodsucking aliens, the heroes discover that getting drunk is the only way to survive.” Grabbers (2012)

Oh wait nope, I was wrong. Here is hoping there are a few dopey Garda, loads of sheep, a few leprechauns and a member of the IRA. It wouldn’t be so bad if this was another Shrooms (2007), you remember it? No? Good.

The issue I have is that this is representing Irish film along with Shadow Dancer (2012) at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival . Shadow Dancer is set in Belfast so I dont have to confirm that indeed it revolves around the IRA.

When is Ireland and Northern Ireland films going to get away from its tacky stereotypes and make a real leap into the future. There are enough films about the troubles or about rural Ireland with dopey Garda and weird locals. Its about time we stood up and took ourselves seriously because its sure nobody else will if we keep churning out the same stuff.
I know there are a lot of people making some great short films in Northern Ireland but they aren’t getting the same sort of funding as these stereotype films. Maybe I am wrong in thinking we need this? Its just my thoughts as I am sick and tired of seeing pretty big budgets going into rural or trouble films.

Anyway I havent even see as much as a trailer for either of the films and I am sure they are rather entertaining, but I shant be rushing to watch either but will be interested to see the reviews from Sundance.

Margot at the wedding (2007) – View

vFound out this week during to much “Wes Andersoning” that Noah Baumbach was a co writer on The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. I also enjoyed his directing style after watching The Squid and the Whale. So I decided to give another film he has directed a look see.

I was not expecting much due to a certain Mr. Jack Black acting in it. He gets on my nerves. This came to fruition but yet was not the main reason behind me disliking the film. The film starts off with Margot heading to her sisters wedding with her son. She is of course running away from her husband and it just so happens her sister is getting married near to where her co-author and ex-boyfriend lives. Her sister Pauline (Noah Baumbachs partner in real life) is marrying Malcolm (Jack Black with a mustache), a useless waste of space style artist with a load of ‘problems’ like everyone else in the film. There is a tree and a weird family next door and Margo’s son, Claude falls in love with the babysitter. There is a gay couple who have an autistic son and there are family arguments regarding this. The film is really just awkward scene after awkward scene. Its not really enjoyable at all and feels like some bizarre alternative reality. I reckon its just representing a messed up family.

My problem is though that Noah Baumbach only makes films about messed up families. In Margot at the wedding, we get a whole bunch of messed up people all messing each other up a bit more. The film in places makes very little sense and some scenes are just unnecessary and completely pointless yet very provocative and creepy. A large proportion of the dialogue is unnatural and bizarre leaving you feel sorry for Noah Baumbach if this is some sort of child hood life reenacted.

His other directed film I have seen The Squid and the Whale touches on similar family relations and bizarreness. This lead me on to then even analyze The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou which whole plot revolves around Ned Plimpton (Owen Wilson) being Steve Zissou’s (Bill Murray) lost son. Another family relations mess up.

I do not mind directors touching on their own experience, it can make scenes more believable or make stories funnier. When it comes to a director just rehashing the same story in a number of various locations however, it gets a bit tiresome.

I dread to think what Madagascar 3 is going to be like with Noah Baumbach working on the screenplay. Rumour has it that Alex the Lion and Marty the Zebra have the same dad. Its a roller coaster of emotions with numerous mentions of self gratification and random nods to affairs. Kids are gona love it.

Lets give Margot at the wedding a solid 0.5/5 .

Blue Valentine (2010) – View with a Grizzly Bear free mp3 download

Had heard great things about this and with a certain Mr. Gosling in it was hard not to give it a watch.
The story is of a young couple’s journey. It spans across from their early days of meeting to years down the line in more uncertain times, flicking between various days from their past and staying with the one day in the present. This “time travel” juxtaposition is captured beautifully by the use of a super 16mm film camera during the youthful days and then a RED one digital camera during the present day shots. This is pretty brave I have to say but it works really well with the textures being so different in the two stages of their lives.
As per usual in all my reviews I have to point out that the film a mere £1million helped by the director Derek Cianfrance not getting paid for the film and instead paying the taxes on what he should have got paid just to be able to make Blue Valentine.

On to the film, beautifully shot with so really powerful and emotional scenes that you would expect from any romantic drama. It has a lot of your typical cliche’s but it looks great doing them so you can accept them. My only quarrel with it during watching was understanding what the problems where in the relationship. I struggled to grasp what was wrong but I feel there are a number of hints of Cindy(Michelle Williams) not being happy through out. I was expecting to see something big, for the two stages in their lives to

meet and us to go ahhh thats why she is so unhappy. We also have a number of other small subplots that really leaves the viewer confused as to what may be going on. I think it is very much left open ended on all front right down to the ending. This gives each viewer a chance to, depending on their out look on life, to decide how it all finishes up and what actually went wrong or right. As Dave Sexton put it “Did it have to be such a downer?”
Another aspect of Blue Valentine that drew me in was the score done by one of my favorite bands Grizzly Bear. What an amazing soundtrack, taking a lot from their Veckatimest album they bring a strong emotion to the already intense scenes. I think that similar to the Tron sound track I could watch this film with my eyes closed and still enjoy it. Overall its a solid 4/5 from me, yeah there a few dogey scenes but nothing a quick eyes right cant fix.

Here is a free mp3 download of Cheerleader from Grizzly Bears 2009 Veckatimest album, give her a listen.

The Tron’s (1982) (2010) – A view

Rather a while ago I re-watched a classic, the film that influenced the game, that influenced the film, that influenced the brand. Tron.
I do love a bit of dogy computer graphics but still pretty mind blowing for its time with the moral plot of good verses all things big corporate and evil.
I then decided to take it upon myself to watch the new Tron, Tron Legacy.
This is devoid of any plot, any decent character background or really anything of substance but who cares have you seen the grid scenes and heard the daft punk sound track? I would review these films in some depth but for some reason there was a question picking at me.

Would Hitchcock use daft punk? I know pretty ropey thought process going on there but that’s what I came away with after watching Tron Legacy. I know that Hitchcock (auld Al as I call him) was at the forefront of using design and of course beautiful music to perfect effect. Just look at his use of Saul Bass in Vertigo. You may even remember a post a while back I did on Saul Bass Influenced tron posters so perhaps there is a tangible link between Tron, Hitchcock and Daft Punk.
I would love to see Hitchcock given the technology of today, we can only think what he may have been able to achieve with green screens and bands who dress like robots.
Perhaps however he would have snubbed the new technologies and stuck to traditional forms of special effects but I cannot feel that psycho could have been the only acceptable use of 3D in a film ever.

I think that I could watch Tron Legacy blindfolded and still enjoy it solely based upon the non-diegetic sound. Did this lead to perhaps Daft Punk taking away from the  film or was it a case that Tron Legacy was a beautiful visual and audio delight with about as much depth as candy floss. I feel I am siding with the later as it would be hard to take away with something so dangerously lacking in any form of substance. I am of course an old school Tron fan and my wrists have been bleeding tonight from playing Tron on my phone but I really think that Tron Legacy delivers. It is a true visual treat and had they just remade Tron it would have got put down even more so.
Here is hoping they come up with a brand new concept for the sequel that we just know is……

Coming fall……

the legacy continues….

and continues…..

and continues.

5/5 for original trontasticness and a solid 2/5 for that long Daft Punk music video that had some Tron scenes in it.

The Lives of Others (2006) – A View

Took some advice and watched “The Lives of Others” last night. A insightful, interesting and beautiful film based on the Stasi(The Ministry for State Security) in the GDR(German Democratic Republic).
Set in the early 80’s it lends itself heavily upon the style and fashion of the orange and browns of the 70’s. There has been critiques that this heavy use of over stylized locations but I say it works. It dosent go over board in a visual way or rely heavily on it such as I felt was the case in ‘A Single Man’ by Tom Ford (Another recent watch, set in the 60’s).

The character development throughout has you hating, frustrated and confused at many but I feel it is all essential and the plot behind the film could easily be mistaken for a true story. I am not a major war film fan but I do have an interest in something which I never experienced in my life time and that is East Germany. It is curious to delve into this world and I feel that this is the best representation I have seen. Based on the fact I have seen ‘Goodbye Lenin’ as the only other example minimises the choice.
My only issue with the film which left me some what disappointed has to be the ending. (Dont worry no spoilers). I feel it lacked a lot of power with the final scene. The film is a full fiction so there is no need to  have that sort of ending. I feel it is a some what copout a stupid ending that left me frustrated as the film had been so great up to that. I thought the actors were all superb and that the lead role, Ulrich Mühe as Hauptmann Gerd Wiesler. Was perfect as the sneaky and quiet Stasi officer playing the role I felt to a T.
The film which set a record for the number of nominations for the German Film Awards (11) was made on a budget of €1.6 Million($2 million) which is rather impressive to say the least. All of the props are genuine Stasi equipment borrowed from museums and collections which must have saved a lot but the true beauty of the film is the actors. All of the actors supposedly accepted 20% of their usual salaries as to be able to make the film. I think that speaks for itself about how great they felt this story was but also how important it was that this film was made.
I have to stick a pretty high and genuine 4/5. The ending was a major disappointment but dont let me be the one to stop you watching it, just stop it 5 minutes from the end and you will be fine.

The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (2007) – A View

This film is the story of one of the most iconic arcade games in history, Donkey Kong.

 It also consists of a lot of young geeks who look like in the 80’s they found out that it was possible to grow facial hair.

It then brings us into the mid 00’s where these geeks are well still exactly the same, just less hair.

 The main story revolves around the bizarre character of Billy Mitchell who is the current Donkey Kong Champion. He set the world record in 1982 and nobody has come anywhere near beating it in the past 20 years…..

Un till a new comer by the name Steve Wiebe bursts onto the scene with a home taped high score breaking game on Donkey Kong in his garage. The Twin Galaxies empire is in uproar at this new gamer coming in and accusations and conspiracies start flying about. The young challenger must come and prove himself on the big world stage.

The live head to head challenge for the Donkey Kong world championship title was set up and the young upstart was ready to rumble family and all but where is the old champion…..
Great documentary and really sucks you into the world of Arcade gaming (I have to admit to have a quick search on ebay). I think they did a great job at capturing both sides of the story but do feel Billy Mitchell certainly comes of the worst for representation but I personally feel that is deserved. Well worth a watch if you like gaming, geeks, barrels, documentary and bitter arcade game rivalries. Also Mark Alpiger (Crystal Castles Champion) is hilarious. Well deserved 5/5 and a watch this film sticker to go with that.

Catfish (2010) – A view

Contains spoilers. If you havent seen this film go watch it if yes continue reading.

Its a gewd bit ironic how I came to watch this film. I was trying to figure out who a person in someones profile pic on facebook was and went into their profile. They had a few films that I thought, they are pretty gewd and then they had Catfish so I thought this must be gewd too.
So I watched it the other night and it blew my mind. This year I have seen a number of great documentaries but nothing comes close to this. I was inspired, freaked out, intrigued, scared, excited and most of all gripped the whole way through.

I had watched a trailer and it seemed like the story to me was about a fella who was in a relationship with a girl online…..started watching it and he is making friends with an 8 year old girl, yeah I did start getting worried and the OH started giving me looks. *please dont let it be one of those films* I was worried as I had made her watch Capturing The Friedmans, on the premise it was about the Number 1 New York children’s entertainer(which it is might I add). Anyway it soon transpires that this eight year old painter Abby who has been sending our lead Nev painting of his photography has a nineteen year old sister Megan. This soon blossoms into an relationship via that wonderful site Facebook.

The films really sucks you into the relationship and it gets rather intrusive of it and you at times feel a little awkward. This soon changes over a Tennessee stud. What really intrigued and hooked me in was the fact that this whole documentary is so heavily based on a great story. I really enjoyed the way the whole thing was filmed and as you can see it was not as if they had great equipment, merely a great story. This whole interaction between camera men and actor within the doc brings a whole new dimension that I feel extends the excitement and nervous anticipation of the meet up. I loved that the camera men are just as freaked out if not more in some places than Nev.

The climax to the film with the meeting of Angela is so weird. The bizarre ending of the painting along with a discussion on how she lied and tricked him is amazing and just blew my mind.

If you havent yet head on over to and click on “enter nev’s world” really interesting perspective with a lot more features and photos and actual conversation on it. Bizarre.

It has to be one of my favourite documentaries in the last while and have to give it 5/5.

Dancer in the Dark (2000) – A view

Dancer In the Dark

Decided to watch this after having it recommended to me by a number of people, always with the tagline of ‘its a bit weird’. I think this sums it up pretty perfect. Great simple plot that drags you in with a real emotional pull without over doing it, beautiful hand held camera work to bring you into the intensity of the scenes and then the use of multi camera on the singing scenes (Oh yeah thats right its a musical).

Weird camera angles during singing scenes.
Have to admit I am not a big fan of musicals and it is hard to get great acting and great singing you usually are stuck with one or the other (aka Once). I think Björk really pulls it off in this though. Although some of the songs aren’t going to be sung in the shower some dark morning in November they are suitable and poignant for the film.
Björk doing her thing.

I was pretty taken a back by the final scene which made me like the film even more due to the fact it is really a critique of musicals. I think this is added on to by the plot of the drama society doing ‘The Sound of Music’. Overall great film, not for everyone but well worth a watch. A high 4* on the 5* scale. I feel that perhaps the production quality could have been a little bit better in places but with a rumoured £12million budget I expected better.