Archive for November, 2010

Four Lions

Posted: November 25, 2010 by curlyshirley in Film
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Popcorn rating: 3/5

Popcorn review: Four Lions aims for glory but you won’t go out smiling.

This filmic outing from the genius behind Brass Eye (Chris Morris) was billed as controversial before it even hit cinema screens. Expectations were high. Not only was it tagged as hilarious, it was going to hit hard, it was going to hit home, it was going to make us all sit up and listen. Yip, there was a lot riding on this (dare I even say it) Jihadist comedy about aspiring suicide bombers in mundane old Sheffield…

Ah, Jihad and comedy, not exactly happy bedfellows. I take it this one was a bit of a shocker? Ermm, no. Well, thought provoking then – taking the mick out of suicide bombers, making us see the real people behind the terrrorists, that’s a bit naughty at least? Well, sorry, nope, don’t think soo…. Funny? At least its funny yeah? Meh. Well, OK, to be fair, Four Lions is very good. The dialogue – just like the idea – is sharp, it has the odd giggle (particularly during the end credits) and it does have some excellent surprises along the way.

Thought it’d be good.So, buying the DVD then? Erm, no. Sure, it’s good, a bit of a romp really, but well…If it was anyone else I could forgive Four Lions for rambling on a little too long, I could overlook characters that are more idiotic than funny, I could forget the awkward sentimentality of “tell them I was smiling”.

But it isn’t. It’s Chris Morris. And, as my teachers used to say, I expected a whole lot more. Sorry.

Reviewer: curlyshirley

Rebirth of a Nation

Posted: November 25, 2010 by a1zaz in Film
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In a nutshell: American History X, Y and Z!!!

Popcorn rating: 3/5

Deemed by many as one of the most powerful American movies of all time, The Birth of a Nation, an anti-black, pro-Ku Klux Klan propaganda piece caused uproar when released in 1915 by D.W. Griffith. Presenting the KKK as heroes and Southern Blacks as an inhumane threat to civilization, the movie is still used today as recruitment material for the Klan. To highlight its power in modern society, it was voted into the National Film Registry in 1993, and then in 1998 was listed at number 44 in “Top 100 American Films” by the American Film Institute.

Rebirth of a Nation is DJ Spooky’s 2004 reply to Griffith’s depiction and in true DJ form is a ‘remix’ of the original. Aware that a detailed remake was not needed as society has come on leaps and bounds since 1915, Spooky used the project to rework various scenes from the original, bringing them to life with a dark musical score, critical captions and, at times, amusing graphics to highlight certain expressions and scenes.

Rebirth is undoubtedly a powerful movie in its own right. Spooky’s decision to not reshoot any scenes or characters and instead manipulate, or remix, the wrongs off Griffith’s work adds a twist to his portrayal. Interestingly, Spooky decides to strip away much of the historic backdrop to most of what is going on – there is, for example, little reference to the civil war. He instead focuses, really focuses, on characters, thoughts, dialogues and scenes.

In closing, it is worth saying that although most people should watch this film, it is better to go in with your eyes open and be in the right frame of mind. I stumbled across the movie after a friend invited me to an exclusive screening at The Toronto International Film Festival’s home, The Lightbox, where Spooky hosted the movie, musicians performed the soundtrack live, and Spooky held a Q&A session. Without much knowledge of what I was about to watch, I was left moved, even a little disturbed. The movie, and Spooky himself, got a huge thumbs up from legendary Canadian writer Margaret Atwood, but what has stuck with me is how certain aspects of the original movie are still very prevalent in today’s society – particularly with certain powers that be, and how intelligent and educated people can still lazily and almost blindly follow them. This is a movie blog so I shall say no more!

Reviewer: a1zaz

Winter’s Bone

Posted: November 25, 2010 by aoifewantonmovielover in Film
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In a nutshell: It’s noir country for young women – gritty, realistic, lethargically paced: just like Transformers 2, then.

Popcorn rating: 4/5

A gritty exposure of America’s unseen underbelly may seem an odd choice of viewing for a transatlantic flight – especially when they have Twilight’s Eclipse on offer – but the punishing air pressure and limited leg room only enhanced viewing of the gorgeous Winter’s Bone.

Debra Granik’s second feature takes you to Missouri’s Ozark mountains; an America far away from McDonalds and the affluent high rises. In a tight-knit community struggling against the elements, residents survive the bleak conditions and the crippling poverty by cooking and using crystal meth, affectionately known as ‘crank’.

As sole carer for her much younger brother and sister, 17-year-old Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence) must contend with raising them and taking care of her catatonic mother. When the sheriff arrives at their door to tell them that her errant, meth-abusing and manufacturing father has skipped bail after placing their house as surety, it’s just another blow. If he doesn’t arrive at a hearing the following week they will be turned out of their home. Determined to track him down, Ree begins knocking on doors and as the initial frosty reception she receives grows more threatening, she starts to suspect his disappearance may be permanent.

Adapted from Daniel Woodrell’s – who coined the term noir country – novel Winter’s Bone is steeped in mystery, malevolence and blessed with a strong lead in Jennifer Lawrence; coming to a multiplex near you soon in the X-men reboot.

Cinematographer Michael McDonagh captures the stunning, foreboding beauty as Lawrence’s Ree – understated and courageous treks through a cold climate and an even colder reception from her ‘relatives’.

Focusing on family, community, strength and survival, Winter’s Bone does not play for thrills, despite being thrilling. Instead it assumes an unhurried and underplayed canter and succeeds with a walloping impact. At times beautiful while grisly, always powerful yet subdued, Winter’s Bone is a challenging watch, but haunting and worth the emotional investment. In-flight meal optional.

Reviewer: aoifewantonmovielover

In a nutshell: Dark, tense and a little bit nasty, definitely not one to watch with grandma.

Popcorn rating: 3.5/5

Less than five minutes into ‘The Disappearance of Alice Creed’ and Gemma Arterton, one of Britian’s rising starlets and regularly judged one of the most beautiful women in the world, is tied naked to a bed.

Cue rolling of eyes, but this isn’t just another gratuitous boob scene from a director hoping to get bums on seats.  Arterton, is seems , has taken on the role of the titular Ms Creed, and stripped down for artistic reasons. ‘I am a serious actress’, those beautiful, terrified, exhausted brown eyes emote into the camera. ‘I really am more than the embarrassing dross that was Clash of the Titans’. And, to be fair, she is damn good.

From the very off, The Disappearance of Alice Creed burns with a sinister undercurrent. This is everyone’s nightmare. This is your sister, daughter, wife kidnapped, stripped , gagged and chained to a bed. These kidnappers are seriously mean. They don’t talk that much. They are violent. And they definitely don’t ever smile. Ever. No, The Disappearance of Alice Creed will not leave you feeling warm all over.

But it does, successfully, work hard to keep you glued to the screen with a tight, twisting plot and excellent performances from its pared down cast –  especially the morally torn Martin Compston as the slight Danny.  It looks good too with the stark, minimalism that is almost becoming de rigueur for indie flicks.

Of course, it isn’t perfect . Does the world really need  another psychotic kidnapper coupled with an unsure but oh so pretty accomplice?  Would anyone look that good after being kept chained in a room? Probably not, but overall this tight, tense thriller is well worth watching.

Reviewer: curlyshirley