Category Archives: Movies

Our Kind of Traitor

 

Our Kind of Traitor is a 2016 British spy thriller film directed by Susanna White and written by Hossein Amini, adapted from John le Carré’s novel of the same name. Starring Ewan McGregor, Naomie Harris, Stellan Skarsgård, Damian Lewis, and Alicia von Rittberg, the film was released in the United Kingdom on 13 May 2016 by Lionsgate.


Review:
A tense and slowly paced thriller that relies on plot and character motivations rather that stunts and effects. Ewan McGregor and Damian Lewis are the stars, with Lewis adopting a rather strange buttoned down accent. Like other LeCarre thriller it focuses on international banking and its corrupting influence in the modern world.

One other name I did recognize was Mark Gatiss, who is also a novelist. I had read his Dr Who book ‘Nightshade’.

Cast

 

Paris Monsters

A Monster in Paris (French: Un monstre à Paris) is a 2011 French 3D computer-animated musical comedy fantasy adventure film directed by Bibo Bergeron, produced by Luc Besson, written by Stéphane Kazandjian, distributed by EuropaCorp Distribution, features the voices of Sean Lennon, Vanessa Paradis, Adam Goldberg, Danny Huston, Madeline Zima, Matthew Géczy, Jay Harrington, Catherine O’Hara, and Bob Balaban and based on a story he wrote. Some aspects of the film are (very loosely) based on Gaston Leroux’s novel The Phantom of the Opera. It was released on 12 October 2011.


Review

Wonderful film full of charm, music and a double romance. The animation is smooth and graceful and really makes the characters come to life. There are also elements of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’.  Recommended.

Bourne Again

Jason Bourne is a 2016 American spy action thriller film directed by Paul Greengrass and co-written by Greengrass and the film’s editor, Christopher Rouse. It is the fifth installment of the Bourne film series and the direct sequel to The Bourne Ultimatum (2007). Matt Damon reprises his role as the main character, former CIA assassin and psychogenic amnesiac Jason Bourne. In the film, Bourne tries to uncover hidden truths about his past, now remembering who he truly is. The film also stars Tommy Lee Jones, Alicia Vikander, Vincent Cassel, Julia Stiles and Riz Ahmed.


Review:

The plot doesn’t really matter in this movie as it’s not that good. There is something about Jason revealing his past and a social media company involved with the CIA.

It’s also an excuse for Bourne and co to visit various locations around the world. There is a long chase sequence at the beginning of the film involving motorbikes. It would be good if you could follow the action but it seems to be necessary to  cut to people watching cameras and narrating the action. What happened to Show Don’t Tell ?

Then there is the shaky camerawork. It’s on during action sequences, conversations and even when just looking at a cellphone. And it’s annoying – very annoying.

For this reason this is just an average movie. Not much of a plot, little understanding of character motivations and backgrounds but lots of action, crashes and an overwhelming soundtrack.

 

Anna Karenina

Anna Karenina
by Leo Tolstoy (1875)

The novel was published in serial installments from 1875 to 1877 in the periodical ‘The Russian Messenger’. Tolstoy clashed with editor Mikhail Katkov over political issues that arose in the final installment therefore, the novel’s first complete appearance was in book form in 1878. Widely regarded as a pinnacle in realist fiction, Anna Karenina recounts St. Petersburg aristocrat Anna Karenina’s life story at the backdrop of the late-19th-century feudal Russian society. Having considered War and Peace not a novel, Tolstoy considered Anna Karenina his first true novel. Fyodor Dostoyevsky declared it “flawless as a work of art.” His opinion was shared by Vladimir Nabokov, who especially admired “the flawless magic of Tolstoy’s style,” and by William Faulkner, who described the novel as “the best ever written.” The novel remains popular, as demonstrated by a 2007 poll of 125 contemporary authors in Time, which declared that Anna Karenina is the “greatest book ever written.”


After reading ‘War and Peace’ on a Palm Pilot over the 2008 winter, I had anticipated also reading this novel. However the public broadcast of the 2012 film by Joe Wright was an alternative and shorter means of absorbing the story.

A lot of the story takes place on in a theatre, with actors changing the scenery between each scene. It’s a device not seen before and at first is a novelty but soon becomes distracting.

The best part of the film is the production design, costumes and score. The music really takes over at times, making the film a visual and audio feast for the senses. However the main problem is the story. This is surprising given the screenplay by Tom Stoppard. There is never a sense of involvement with characters. Their backgrounds and motivations are not clear and the result is that the story comes across as a cheap melodrama.

Having red War and Peace, I know that Tolstoy put more into his books than this. Maybe the story would be better told as a miniseries. There have already been seven TV adaptions, so maybe one of these is better than the film.

In the end this film it was a case of style over substance and after an hour it became boring and I gave up.

Recommendation: Read ‘War and Peace’

Star Trek Beyond

Star Trek Beyond is a 2016 American science fiction action film directed by Justin Lin from a screenplay by Simon Pegg and Doug Jung.
It is the thirteenth film in the Star Trek film franchise and the third installment in the reboot series after Star Trek Into Darkness (2013). Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto reprise their roles as Captain James T. Kirk and Commander Spock, with Pegg, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, John Cho and Anton Yelchin reprising their roles from the previous films, with Idris Elba and Sofia Boutella joining the cast.

This is one big flashy eye candy of a movie. It moves along at a good pace, only slowing down for the humorous interactions between Scotty and Bones. But ultimately it’s about a big baddie and how the crew of the Enterprise take him down. For this reason it’s very forgettable and doesn’t have any of the SciFi themes that previous Star Trek stories took on (with varying success) . For this reason it gets a 3/5.

 

 

Finding Dory

Finding Dory is a 2016 American 3D computer-animated comedy adventure film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. Directed and co-written by Andrew Stanton with co-direction by Angus MacLane,the screenplay was co-written by Victoria Strouse and Stanton. The film is a sequel to 2003’s Finding Nemo and features the reprised voices of Ellen DeGeneres and Albert Brooks, as well as the new voices of Hayden Rolence, Ed O’Neill, Kaitlin Olson, Ty Burrell, Diane Keaton, and Eugene Levy. Finding Dory focuses on the amnesiac fish Dory, who journeys to be reunited with her parents. Along the way, she is captured and taken to a California public aquarium, from which Marlin and Nemo attempt to rescue her.

I wasn’t going to see this film at the movies, but With a 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes I gave in and went. Turns out to be a great film. Ellen DeGeneres is even better here than the original. Playing a fish with short term memory loss, she goes from crazy kinetic to some very touching moments near the end. The best aspect of the film is the story, just when you think it’s winding down to a conclusion, in comes a few plot turns and everything gets very ‘Mission Impossible’ before a predictable ending.

As usual, the GCI is brilliant, the water effects being very realistic.

The film was proceeded by a short called ‘Piper’ about a bird. So effective and realistic was the CGI, the opening scenes looked to be actual photography on a beach.

The animal designers made the animals very anthropomorphic. This did stretch credibility a bit, especially the larger fish (notably the shark and whale). However the Octopus was the best designed and possibly the best animated animal I have seen in a CGI movie.

Slumdog Millionaire

From the title and what I knew of the film it was about an Indian  boy who comes from the poor streets to win on ‘Who wants to be a millionaire”. As the outcome is already known, the story is actually about the story of the main protagonist Jamal. His journey from small boy to getting a laboring job as tea-boy at a call centre. The film is more about India and the wealth gap that persists to this day.
Slumdog Millionaire is a 2008 British drama film directed by Danny Boyle, written by Simon Beaufoy, and produced by Christian Colson. Set and filmed in India, it is a loose adaptation of the novel Q & A (2005) by Indian author and diplomat Vikas Swarup, telling the story of Jamal Malik, age 18, from the Juhu slums of Mumbai. As a contestant on the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? who is able to answer every stage correctly, he is accused of cheating. Jamal recounts his history, illustrating how he is able to answer each question.
Regarded as a sleeper hit, Slumdog Millionaire was widely acclaimed, being praised for its plot, soundtrack and direction. It was nominated for ten Academy Awards in 2009 and won eight—the most for any 2008 film—including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay. It won seven BAFTA Awards including Best Film, five Critics’ Choice Awards and four Golden Globes.

1990 Films

Best films of the year 1990

Here, in the order I saw them are my films of the year.

ARIA
Best combination of music and film since Bruno Bozzello’s film
“Allegro Non Troppo”.

Abyss
Since Aliens 2 I have waited for the next James Cameron film.
Although not as good as Aliens 2, still one of the best this year. I
think that the film could have been just as good without the alien
involvement at the end. As for the ending, a real let down. However if
it is re-released in it’s uncut form I will see it again. For me, this
film shows Cameron as currently the best director at the suspense-action genre.

Earth Girls are easy
Best comedy (American). Even if it is directed by a pom (Julien
Temple I think).

High Hopes
Best Comedy (British). At least I think I’m supposed to laugh at
the English class system being ripped into.

A Dry White Season
Best drama. A success in that it doesn’t give a rose-coloured end.
Sobering viewing.

Hunt for Red October
Best war film. Almost believable, suspense film.

Total Recall
Science Fiction film of the year. The boys at industrial light &
magic really pulled finger for the effects in this film. Probably cost
more to make than our national deficit.

Robocop 2 & Die Hard 2
Great cardboard cut-out characters fighting against all odds.
Die Hard wins the award for the most imaginative way to destroy an
aircraft. The end of Robocop has the best stop-motion animation work
done since Linda Hamilton survived the metal monster in Terminator.

Dick Tracy
If I was pressed for a film of the year it would be this
one. Much better than the over-rated Batman, the cinematography and design of this film is flawless. This film is a statement of the art of
the film maker.

Turkey of the year :
Navy Seals
Nothing but a vehicle for Tom Cruise. The action scenes contain
zilch in the way of suspense. By the half way mark I was bored and
had already guessed the end.

And while I am on the subject, I can still not see what anyone saw
in “sex, lies and videotape”. This was the most boring American “art”
film I have ever seen. Very self indulgent, the characters appear to come out of a psychology text.

 

O Brother Where Art Thou

This a very strange Cohen brothers film. The best thing about it is George Clooney. He’s smart, cocky and likeable as a criminal escaped from the chain gang. The story is ‘inspired’ loosely on Homer’s Odyssey even if the main protagonist is switched from a hero to anti-hero.   It’s difficult with the depictions of American southerners  to work out if they are supposed to be accurate or caricatures. More mildly amusing than  comedy or drama.

O Brother, Where Art Thou? is a 2000 adventure film written, produced, edited, and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, and starring George Clooney, John Turturro, and Tim Blake Nelson, with John Goodman, Holly Hunter, and Charles Durning in supporting roles. Set in 1937 rural Mississippi during the Great Depression, the film’s story is a modern satire loosely based on Homer’s epic poem, Odyssey. The title of the film is a reference to the 1941 film Sullivan’s Travels, in which the protagonist (a director) wants to film a fictional book about the Great Depression called O Brother, Where Art Thou?

One of the notable features of the film is its use of digital color correction to give the film a sepia-tinted look. Joel stated that this was because the actual set was “greener than Ireland.” Cinematographer Roger Deakins stated, “Ethan and Joel favored a dry, dusty Delta look with golden sunsets. They wanted it to look like an old hand-tinted picture, with the intensity of colors dictated by the scene and natural skin tones that were all shades of the rainbow.” Initially the crew tried to perform the color correction using a physical process, however after several tries with various chemical processes proved unsatisfactory, it became necessary to perform the process digitally.

Warcraft: The Beginning

Warcraft (alternatively known as Warcraft: The Beginning)is a 2016 American fantasy film directed by Duncan Jones and written by Jones, Charles Leavitt and Chris Metzen. It is based on the Warcraft video game series and novels set in the world of Azeroth. The film stars Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper, Toby Kebbell, Ben Schnetzer, Robert Kazinsky and Daniel Wu. The film portrays the initial encounters between the humans and the orcs and takes place in a variety of locations established in the video game series. The film was first announced in 2006 as a project partnership between Legendary Pictures and the game’s developer, Blizzard Entertainment.

It’s only got 29%  on rotten tomatoes, but it’s certainly not a bad film. Anyone looking for an old good vs evil plot will be disappointed. The Orcs are portrayed as equal to the Humans in deceit and heroism.  The CGI is outstanding, with large sweeping vistas and detailed city-scapes. The best thing about the film is the action, which has a real thump and intensity to it. The costume and art design is very faithful to the games. The story is about the Orcs leaving their land and invading the Human realm through a portal. It’s 2 hour length is well paced and the ending leaves space for a sequel.