Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Poltergeist

A family suburban home is haunted by evil forces must come together to rescue their daughter after the apparitions take her captive.  


This film is a remake of the original Poltergeist which was directed by Tobe Hooper - but between you and me Steven Spielberg most likely directed it. This new film might be the scariest thing 13 and unders have yet seen, just as the original was, for our parents back in 1982. Who might as well find it an enjoyable trip down memory lane. I believe the reason to remake a movie is whether the idea was really cool and the movie may not be that good. This is the opportunity for a horror movie to eliminate the horror cliché of previous decade, such as this little girl who for I don't know what reason is not afraid of ghosts and demons. Because when you are 4 years old and your closet is filled with demons talking to you, you don't stay there waving at them. Ghosts and demons are not cool at all. I would be done and running to my parents peeing my pants if something similar happened to me; and I think that's how it should be. 


Sam Rockwell provides welcomed bits of comic relief and pairs nicely with Rosemarie DeWitt as the parents. The children are especially well cast as well as Jared Harris. Yes, they've been given trendier names (Dana, Carol Anne and Robbie in 1982) because this is clearly 2015 Poltergeist after all: pivotal TV becomes a big ol'flat screen, iphone, GPS devices and a drone camera come into play. Characters are all functional. Moreover, the best part of this movie definitely is Sam Rockwell. I've started to appreciate this guy very recently as before I couldn't pin-point exactly why I didn't like him; but he really is a fantastic actor. I believe Poltergeist was an original and unique thing when it came out in 1982 but now every horror movie pulled something out of it and all those bits and pieces have been seen many many many times. 


Finally, there's not much to complain about here. Except that, as with a lot of revisited classics, the story is definitely not as revolutionary as you remember it. For veterans it will be more like scary but pleasant nostalgia. Plus, at a certain point in the film I accepted the fact that it doesn't recapture the fright of the original. It over relies on cgi, there's so much of it and it's not that good. It doesn't look real which doesn't make it scary. Realism. This is what made Insidious and The Conjuring so frightening to me. The movie was entertaining but nothing really creeped me out. Even the clowns scene didn't scare me - and god knows that I hate clowns - because I saw the jump scares of it in the trailer. The end is really abrupt. I was disappointed because I obviously watched the original and most of the clever sequences and effective scares are all basically from a movie that already exists and is directed better so what is the purpose of this movie? Most likely the answer is: TO MAKE MONEY. Do we really needed this remake? 


Overall, do yourself a favour and check the original first. All I can give you is the best reason ever: Steven-freaking-Spielberg.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

The Gunman

A sniper on a mercenary assassination team, kills the minister of mines of the Congo. Terrier's successful kill shot forces him into hiding. Returning to the Congo years later, he becomes the target of a hit squad himself.


The Gunman stars Sean Penn and is brought to you by Pierre Morel, director of the very first and still best Taken film. Sean Penn looks fit in this movie and I’m pretty sure he spent more time out of his shirt than in it on screen; even in the final scene he wears nothing but trousers and a Kevlar vest with nothing underneath. There’s only one place where this outfit makes sense and it’s in an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie of the 80’s. This was a fun “action” movie but unfortunately not for long, it’s a very depressing drama with hardly any action in it for almost the entire second act. The film’s best scene is actually its opening one, when Sean Penn’s character gets to do some sniper things; but he spends most of the rest of the movie, looking at his ex-girlfriend, looking very sad and having conversation why their relationship didn’t work out in the first place. The trailer makes you hope this film is going to be this intense suspenseful sniper drama with lots of action while what it truly is, is a few quickly edited action scenes among a ton of soap opera drama. Moreover, the action scenes don’t suffer from shaky cam but almost every time there’s a fight, the cut to shot takes place directly upon impact and we get a sound effect, which is making those scenes difficult to focus on. Plus, Sean Penn doesn’t work out as an action star despite his great looking body. He’s not really selling the action seen as well. This film was given so little time to his character and we are supposed to start caring about him as the main part of the movie evolves around his health and people who try to kill him. There’s no reason to care about any of these characters as they’re lifeless and dull. Javier Bardem character could have been played by anyone; he’s nothing like the James Bond villain we’ve seen before. Finally, there was couple of scenes that were actually pretty intense but then it begins to drag again for half an hour. This movie goes on and on and it’s more and more boring.


Overall, The Gunman is an incredibly disappointing movie.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Spy

A desk-bound CIA analyst volunteers to go undercover to infiltrate the world of a deadly arms dealer, and prevent diabolical global disaster. 


Spy is directed by Paul Feig and stars Melissa McCarthy, Rose Byrne, Jude Law and Jason Statham. This film is a pretty cliché spy movie regarding the plot, we've seen it all; but I enjoyed it anyway! Spy female focus allows for a different and more knowing kind of parody. Surprisingly there are good action scenes, as often in spy comedies they got the job done somehow and we're all here for the jokes. Moreover, McCarthy is extremely lovable here with a sweeter, softer performance, very different than what we're used to from her. She's a genuine force of nature, there should be a hurricane named Melissa. she's funny and she also can be mean and angry from time to time. Plus there's a certain progression of her character as she gains confidence through the movie, which gives her her most nuanced role to date. Ultimately McCarthy kicks some ass as well as Jason Statham, who is flat-out hilarious in his deadly serious Chuck Norris like monotone monologues - I was crying with laughter - which contrasts beautifully with her expressive energy. Finally you can see coming the third act pivots from miles away but intentionally so. Adding to the humour a series of breathlessly entertaining scenes that make you realise how rare the combination of female hero and female villain is on screen. Without ever making a big deal of its gender dynamics, Spy is an empowering breath of fresh air for female driven comedy. 


Overall, Melissa McCarthy is very funny, I enjoyed the back and forth of the movie, it's en exciting good time.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Inside Out

After young Riley is uprooted from her midwest life and moved to San Francisco, her emotions - Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness - conflict on how to navigate a new city, house and school


Inside Out premiered at the Cannes Film Festival last May. This film creation is pretty brilliant. Joy's control of Riley's charge start to slip and Sadness begins to go a little rogue in central command, tampering with her core memories turning them from happy to melancholic ones. The cross country move or the approach of puberty might be the explanation, but the emotions don't seem to work as they always have before. Writer's intentions are interesting and introspective in a sort of mourning of childhood innocence, in an elegant and iconic visual metaphor to really understand every emotion a person can go through. This concept that as we age, life throws more complication at us and our remembrance of things past becomes more emotionally complicated. It is simple, profound and inventively conveyed. Inside Out displays a really good story about growing up and understanding that life is quite a complex thing. It also promises to forever change the way people think about the way people think.  


Moreover this film stuffed every little moments in the brain world with great ideas and gags, using extraordinary events to help a girl grow up as her family moves. That may be why the film is so engaging. There are enough clever references to every concrete, real-world experiences to keep it from flying off the rails. Too often, movies that introduce wildly fantastical parallel worlds never find time to fully explore them; the way Dorothy explored only one corner of Oz in the 1939 film. However, here they were clever enough to find a right balance between context and story, i-e not spending too much time with the emotions and deprived the film of actual experiencing of those feelings, which come from connecting with Riley and her family. They achieve to go that deep in every aspect of the movie in such a short amount of time. Plus, artistically they gave this retro look to their characters; that fits perfectly Pixar's cutting-edge technology, blending vintage style with lightning and texture options previously unavailable to animators. From the vivid colours to the way the story always comes back to parent-child relations, it plays equally well to both demographics. In result viewers can't help but imagine a similar dynamic operating in their own heads. 


Overall Inside Out isn't just a step in the right direction or simply a return to form, it's among the smartest, funniest, wittiest and saddest films in the Studio's history.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Jurassic World

Twenty-two years after the events of  Jurassic Park, Isla Nublar now features a fully functioning dinosaur theme park, Jurassic World, as originally envisioned by John Hammond. After 10 years of operation and visitor rates declining, in order to fulfil a corporate mandate, a new attraction is created to re-spark visitor's interest, which backfires horribly.


"Welcome to Jurassic Park" those words disclaimed and the music will be graved into my memory forever. When I saw the first Jurassic Park I had my mind blown, it was like cinema has been reinvented decades before and coming to life right in front of me. It made generations want to be directors, actors, writers: story tellers. It was a breakthrough movie with the use of technology and new cgi. Jurassic World depicts (at first) everything John Hammond wanted this place to be and it's fully operational. Here, the film renews the experience and transports us where Jurassic Park took us 22 years ago; capturing only a fraction of the original film's overflowing awe and wonder though. I didn't go to this movie hoping it to be better because lets be honest: it won't, ever; but just hoping it would be good. The 14 years-layoffs since the last one may have helped to ease the mind of antiseptics. In fact, Universal's big summer action release is sufficiently "toothsome" to make audiences everywhere happy for a return visit to a once-wild world that looks as safe as a Disney ride. The first wise move was to pretend that The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) and Jurassic Park III (2001) never existed and that the world depicted here descends directly from Spielberg's 1993 adaptation of Michael Crichton's novel. This line of reasoning takes us to the current star attraction of the park, in the form of a gigantic sea creature that zooms straight up out of its pool to swallow in one bite a big white shark: a spectacle which inclined to interpret as a ingenious admission by Steven Spielberg as to how far the world has moved on since Jaws. 


This film is as its core a caution about the dangers of trying to keep up by doing always bigger, better and faster. From the beginning, fuelled by Michael Crichton's big brain, Jurassic Park has always been a debate about the boundaries of science and here it explored further. It's an example of scientist's being so preoccupied with whether they could that they stopped thinking if they should. It's at once a sharp comment on our been-there-done-that generation which so quickly gets bored with the new and a genuinely menacing monster movie. The same thing could be said for our cinema industry and the global corporates that dictate the films we get every year. This movie lays out a really clever and thinly veiled critique about nowadays blockbuster mentality. Jurassic world features a story about humankind's fallibility and inclination to bring destruction upon itself. Plus, there's something about director Colin Trevorrow's approach that marks him as a humanist rather than a director determined to hammer you into submission. Characters wise, Bryce Dallas Howard appears as the third generation of damsel in distress with a light touch of feminism, quite like Kate Capshaw in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984). They set up a stereotype of the uptight and over controlling girl, to knock it down afterwards; while nodding to our contemporary views, as we get a heroine who can take out a dinosaur with a stun gun and also run very fast away from them in heels. It's not hard to see why Joss Whedon tweeted, that early footage of her made him think of "70's era sexism". It doesn't help that, rather foolishly, she spends the entire film in high heels; even sprinting in them, in one slow-mo sequence. More importantly, Chris Pratt is a sort of velociraptors whisperer, appealingly playing a watered-down Indiana Jones type of guy. With his charisma on screen he cements his reputation as movie's new leading man, giving a tremendously likable performance as Owen: easy going and relaxed, somewhere between Harrison Ford and Tom Hanks. If Guardians of the Galaxy Peter Quill was Pratt's Han Solo, then Owen is his Indiana Jones. He completely blew me away.


Treverrow opted for a Spielbergian slow build as we don't see any dinosaur until roughly 20 minutes in the film. Moreover, he needed something new: enters the genetically engineered Indominus Rex. If a character noted early on in the movie that "no one is impressed by a dinosaur anymore" let me tell you that you should have seen my face as I enjoyed every bit of them on screen. The problem is not that dinosaurs have ceased to impress but that dinosaurs and too few good characters alone are not enough to sustain us in a sophisticated blockbuster culture that has the emotional landscape of Inside Out, the fugitive craziness of Fury Road and the all too human ape leader Caesar in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Those movies are as bold in their storytelling and as rich in their emotional stakes as they are in their visual aspects. There are lots of characters and lots of subplots that doesn't really belong in the film which create storytelling flaws, where the story goes back to less important characters such as the two brothers and their family problems, then you're like "Can we focus on our core here?!" Besides the self aware old fashion thrill and heroism, the romance when it flares, is swift, unexpected and makes the heart leap. Furthermore the dinosaurs themselves have rarely looked better than they do under the direction of VFX supervisor Tim Alexander and it's what makes Jurassic World  such a breathless summer entertainment.


The blend of animatronics and cgi is also seamless as you might expect: Trevorrow clearly understood the need to feel the textures of the original movie which is just as important as hearing that marvellous John Williams' score again. However there must be a little too much of cgi as Spielberg mostly used it in wide shots and animatronics in close ups or during interaction with characters, whereas here there must have been a lot of scenes involving actors looking at a tennis ball. The joy comes from watching a new director on the summer blockbuster scene makes an impact. Trevorrow gives the movie a warmer, brighter touch and is closer in feel to the original Jurassic Park, to which he even littered sly callbacks that may have made me want to cry happy tears. When it comes to crafting action sequences he is impeccable, his staging is clear, understanding depth and perspective like few other blockbuster directors. The grand finale smack down felt like the classic old movie and is every bit as beastly as Godzilla or Pacific Rim. Finally, Michael Giachinno's score skillfully takes certain hints from John Williams' prior series work but develops a pronounced character of its own as well. They crafted a bigger, faster, noisier dinosaur opus designed to reclaim its rightful place at the top of the blockbuster food chain.


Overall Jurassic World marks the most notorious park in movie history reopening, bigger and cooler than ever in thrilling and terrific style. This film is fresh without being a slavish copy of the original. A bit disappointing from a character and story perspective, but dinosaurs work very well and there  are lots of great action that remind us why we loved the original Jurassic Park. Enjoy the ride!

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Far from the Madding Crowd

In Victorian England, the independent and headstrong Bathsheba Everdene attracts three very different suitors: Gabriel Oak, a sheep farmer; Frank Toy, a reckless sergeant and William Boldwood, a prosperous and mature bachelor.


Far from the Madding Crowd is directed by Thomas Vinterberg and stars Carey Mulligan, Matthias Schoenaerts, Michael Sheen and Tom Sturridge. A light of feminism is the only addition in the most recent adaptation of Thomas Hardy's novel. Immediately, the opening narration from the central character about her desire to maintain her independence in a patriarchal world suggests that this adaptation will assume its point of view throughout the film; but there's no further narration and we are left with the task of trying of trying to figure out what this woman's true priorities are. When he reviewed Hardy's fourth novel in 1874, Henry James complained that "we cannot say that we either understand or like Bathsheba. She is a young lady of the inconsequential, wilful, mettlesome type" who "remains alternately vague and seems always artificial". This critic has already gotten the better of all three previous attempts to put the novel on the screen. This time the basics are honoured in a reasonable way, if not exciting. It more conventional and more accomplished though. Thomas Venterberg brings a fresher perspective on these very ingrained cultural references that we have in our European history. In fact, this movie depicts rich details of rural life, the splendour of nature often underlined by a noted wit, nicely served on both side of the camera. Carey Mulligan succeeded in providing some answers. Her Bathsheba is prudent, discloses no more than necessary, to the great frustration of two of her suitors. She cannot be cajoled or sweet talked or negotiated. Moreover the gentlemen who orbit around her present themselves in full-form and so are men of no mystery whatsoever. I have to admit that I may have fell in love a little bit more with Farmer Oak's character as he's consistently by her side from the beginning, he's a loyal at times and also admirable of bravery. I had never read the book before I knew it was going to be released, but reading it I was struck by how modern and ahead of her time in this Victorian context Bathsheba was. She knew from the beginning that her life wasn't going to be defined by men. It's rare to find an heroine especially in the Victorian era, not seeking a husband as she doesn't really know if she wants to be married or not. It's extraordinary what Hardy wrote as watching it as a film now, it feels so contemporary, it says a lot about our culture. 


Overall, this tale of sheepherders and farmers in a Britain that no longer exists can't be expected to get the pulses racing of today's masses, but youngish female and literary nerds happy with romantic melodrama should form a solid core audience.