Monday, December 5, 2011

I've Moved

If you have this page bookmarked, change the bookmark to for the new, basically exactly the same site.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Box Office Review - Tyrannosaur

Tyrannosaur is a movie about anger, and violence. It shows that anger and violence comes in many different forms, sometimes justified, and sometimes not.

The first time we see Joseph [Peter Mullan] in the film, in a fit of rage he kicks to death his own dog. It is never known why he is so angry, but to be sure, it had nothing to do with his dog. The next scene shows Joseph slowly carrying his dog home, then the next morning burying it in his yard. This isn’t easy watching the main character of a film committing a horrible act, especially at the beginning of a film, but the opening few scenes perfectly portray Joseph as a character. He is shown as a man capable of extreme brutality, though not incapable of showing compassion. This is important to know once the main story gets going. After a rage incident at a bar, Joseph stumbles into a thrift store run by a very Christian woman named Hannah [Olivia Colman]. The two end up developing a strange friendship, and it is revealed that Hannah has an extremely abusive husband played by Eddie Marsan.

If ever there was a character that deserved to meet a horrible, horrible end, it is the one played by Eddie Marsan. Before the character is even shown on screen, I hated him. Marsan has done many good performances before this, and his performance on Tyrannosaur is no different. Though his good side is never shown, it can be assumed that he is the type of man who can show himself as being good while in actuality he is a monster. In contrast, Joseph as played by Peter Mullan is a character who is completely honest. While his inability to control his anger makes him seem like somewhat of a brute, there is no evil inside him. The idea that this character is attempting to change his life is obvious, though it is never explicitly laid out in the movie. Mullan does little things throughout the film depending on who he is interacting that shows his character’s humanity. Stuck in between the uncomfortably evil performance given by Eddie Marsan and Peter Mullan′s very calculated performance, is actress Olivia Colman. She shows some incredible range as the character Hannah, and gives the most complex performance in the movie. Immediately I cared for her character, so it was hard not to feel uncomfortable during the more graphic scenes in the film.

Uncomfortable is probably an understatement here, as some of the scenes are extremely disturbing. The spousal abuse shown in the movie is very realistic, and pushes things to the limit of what I would be willing to view. These scenes never get overly graphic, but the malice in the scenes makes them painful to sit through. So painful in fact, I doubt I would be willing to sit through this movie anytime soon.

Tyrannosaur is the directorial debut of the actor Paddy Considine and he shows the experience of a filmmaker with a few films already behind him. The performances given by the actors are all confident and gutsy performances that should be applauded. All this confidence makes for a film that is effective, even though it isn’t an easy viewing experience. The film is emotionally devastating and inhabited my mind for days after. For sure this wont be for everyone, but it is an interesting and complex viewing experience.

A Gold Banana

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Box Office Review - The Descendants

I have never really liked an Alexander Payne film. Something about his movies just never clicked with me. Now after watching his newest film The Descendants, I am reconsidering my early judgement of his movies, and planning on going back through all of them. That is how much I enjoyed this film.

Set in Hawaii, Matt King [George Clooney] is facing crisis in all areas of his life. After an accident that puts his wife in a coma, he has to deal with his rather strange ten year old daughter Scottie [Amara Miller], his overly independent seventeen year old daughter Alexandra [Shailene Woddley], and an important land deal involving his extended family. On top of all this it is revealed that his wife is/was cheating on him.

Seeing as Clooney is now a man in his fifties, its nice to see him in a role as a father. His performance is as expected, very good. The character of Matt King is probably the most sympathetic character Clooney has played. GC doesn’t own the film though, as he is supported by solid performances by everyone. The two actresses play the Cloon's daughters with distinct and strong personalities that equally match, and sometimes run over his performance. As for my favourite performance in the film, that would be Robert Forster playing Clooney′s father-in-law. Looking like he has lived ten lifetimes since his amazing performance in Jackie Brown, Forster portrays an old man who has been beaten down by life. Seeing as he only has two scenes in the movie, it is impressive how he redeems his character right at the last moment, without any words.

I think it is safe to assume that the great performances in this are do to Alexander Payne′s direction. The development of the characters in this is done at a slow, but deliberate pace, and that can’t be an easy thing to do. There is a feeling in the beginning of the film that information is being withheld, but once things are revealed it is done in a natural way that doesn’t seem outlandish or forced.

The Descendants is a funny and sad film about family. Its story unfolds slowly and deliberately, and often there will be laughs in the same scenes as sadness. This isn’t an easy thing to accomplish, but Payne makes it feel effortless throughout the movie. I′m looking forward to going back through Payne′s filmography to see what I have been missing.

A Gold Banana

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Box Office Review - Hugo

It’s about time that Martin Scorsese made a family film. As Scorsese′s thoughts on the film The Thief of Bagdad are the reason that I sought out and now consider that film one of my favorites, it has been clear to me for sometime that Scorsese has an eye for great adventure. Unfortunately up until now we have only had amazing films of the adult nature from the master director, but now there is a reason to celebrate. Hugo is a family film that delivers classic adventure, beautiful set pieces, and a kid friendly message. It is also a Scorsese film 100%.

Set in Paris during the 1930s, Hugo Cabaret [Asa Butterfield] is an orphaned young boy living in a train station. His life consists of maintaining the many clocks in the station, spying on shop owners, and alluding the station inspector [Sasha Baron Cohen]. After being caught stealing from a toy shop owner named Georges [Ben Kinglsey], Hugo starts out on an adventure of a grand scale.

I didn’t know much about the film going in to it, and I’m glad that I didn’t. The film presents a rather intriguing mystery right a the beginning, and the way things develop is just fantastic. The kid that plays Hugo is more than up to the task, and goes toe to toe in scenes with Kingsley and Cohen as an equal. The best performance of the film goes to Ben Kingsley though. The way that his character Georges is developed is amazing to watch, and his monologue at the end of the film was nice and powerful. Sasha Baron Cohen provides most of the laughs in the movie, and it is good to see him in such a role.

Since the film is mostly set at a busy train station, there are many crowd scenes in the film. Smartly the movie focuses on a few of the regulars in the station. Richard Griffiths who played Mr. Dursley in the Harry Potter films, and Frances De La Tour who was also in the Harry Potter as Madame Maxime have scenes throughout the movie as a couple looking to court each other that are absolutely charming. Emily Mortimer also plays a small role as a flower seller, and Christopher Lee has a role as a book shop owner.

While most of these actors play small roles, in the end they all serve as a support for the overall message of the film. This being that everyone plays an important part in the world, no matter how small or seemingly unimportant. This is a good positive family message, but what affected me more was the more personal elements of the film. The elements that must have been pure joy for Martin Scorsese to indulge in.

Unbeknownst to me, a lot of this movie is about the creation of film making, and the power that films have. I would have never thought that the Lumiere Brothers would be mentioned in a family film, much less their film Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat be shown. Also the fact that the 1902 film A Journey To The Moon plays a significant role in the movie, is rather impressive. Throughout the film there are multiple recreations of scenes from films made during the invention/creation of cinema. Filming and constructing these scenes must have been an amazing experience for a director as obsessed with film as Scorsese.

Hugo is a family film that I hope will be accepted by the cinema going public. I can’t think of another film that has been released recently that is like it. To be honest, I can’t even think of the last live action family movie that I watched in the theater. Thankfully, I now have one to remember, and Hugo will be in my memory for a long time to come.

A Gold Banana

Friday, November 11, 2011

Box Office Review - Immortals

When discussing this film after watching it, there were some catchy ideas for starting this review thrown around. I came up with Much like the character in the movie who has his manhood smashed with a massive hammer, I to felt pain while watching Immortals. Now to be honest the film isn’t as bad as having your testicles annihilated, but I don’t any good things to say about it.

When I first saw the trailer for this film my thoughts weren’t very positive. The trailer gives the impression of a movie that is completely devoid of anything interesting. The action looked familiar, the acting looked bland, and there looked to be an over use of computer effects. This is a case when a trailer is a perfect interpretation of the film. The trailer is located below, and if you have any interest in seeing the film, please re-watch the trailer and decide if you could sit through that for an hour and a half.

Immortals is about a war between the Gods, and the Titans. Stuck in the middle are a bunch of humans, and Mickey Rourke. Henry Cavill plays Theseus, the one chosen by Zeus to save humanity. After Mickey Rourke′s gang of merry men kill Theseus′s mother, he embarks on a Star Wars like quest that includes a princess, and a monk who cut out his own tongue. His quest crosses path with people as uninteresting as himself, and then he makes his way to a Helm′s Deep like location to fight Rourke and his army. Now that probably sounds not interesting, and that would be because it isn’t. Not surprisingly, the performances are as pedestrian as the poorly written characters This goes double for Mickey Rourke. All he does is speak in his trademark barely above whisper voice and eat fruit. Rourke has done nothing since The Wrestler that is interesting, and Immortals should be added to that list.

Providing the characters with interesting sets and areas to inhabit might have helped the movie a bit, but the majority of the film looks like it was shot on a high school stage. The films setting seems like it would have better fit a mini series shot for the SyFy channel rather than a film with a big Hollywood budget. Most of the locations have straight flat walls, and that is about it.

I can't say that Immortals disappointed me, as I didn’t have high hopes for the movie. This being said, I figured it would have been a lot better than it is. Speed ramping of action scenes is a trend that needs to be taken into a cornfield and beaten to death with a baseball bat. I have no idea how to end my ramblings here, but I am done thinking about this film.

A Banana Peel