Archive for December, 2010

The Tourist

Posted: December 12, 2010 by curlyshirley in Film
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In a nutshell: A colour by numbers “romp” through Venice. Best avoided.

Popcorn rating: 0.5/5

Angelina Jolie? Phwoar. Johnny Depp? Phwoar, I mean come on, who wouldn’t want a bit of Captain Jack Sparrow eh? Well, whoever signed up this aesthetically pleasing duo  for The Tourist musta been laughing all the way to the bank. Guffaw, guffaw, they probably went, rubbing their grubby mitts together in anticpation of all that lovely moolah. Well, ha ha, the joke’s on them ‘cos this is crap! Or, hold on, it probably did make a packet and it’s still rubbish? Can that be right?

The story begins with lots of lovely shots of Jolie looking posh and unflustered in beige in Paris while being watched 24/7 by police who are searching for her embezzler husband Alexander Pearce (he’s nicked £2billion and owes a hefty £744million in taxes). Anywho, that’s the set up done and dusted. Cue Jolie meeting Depp’s “sweet” Minnesota maths teacher on a train and lots of mistaken identity attempts at humour and action ensue.

Unfortunately, both Depp and Jolie have neither the expected on-screen chemistry or the charisma they have shown elsewhere  to give this bland thriller any sparkle. In fact, like Venice itself, there seems to be an expectation that the physical beauty of both actors is probably enough to keep everyone interested. Word to the wise, it won’t and it didn’t.

Sure, Jolie does her best to smoulder on screen (fail), Depp tries to win hearts playing ordinary but lovable (fail) and Paul Bettany does a plausible job but appears to be acting in a completely different (and better) movie. Eventually it all comes to a predictable end and you can go home, which is at least one good point.

Reviewer: Curlyshirley

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Eat, Pray, Love

Posted: December 11, 2010 by curlyshirley in Film
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In a nutshell: Self obsessed American bird whines her way around the world in a self indulgent love fest. Then falls down a mine (sorry, no, not really, but we can hope).

Popcorn rating: 0.25/5

Eat, Pray, Love is one of those heinous chick flicks which Hollywood pumps out in its annual bid to mortally offend the whole of womenkind (SATC1 AND 2, most anything with Katherine Heigl in, I mean you).

The plot is simple. Julia Roberts’ wealthy writer Elizabeth is unhappy with her superficial life of wealth, beautiful friends and success so decides to head off to “find herself” in the cultural poverty of Italy, India and Bali. Women who have been fighting for equality and freedom across the globe die a slow and painful death.

Eat – In Italy Roberts immediately befriends other independently wealthy, beautiful people and they gather regularly to eat everything on their plate (really, they don’t leave a crumb – the horror, horror!) and tell each other how wonderful they are. But this is Italy mind, not America, so she has to slum it in a Bohemian style flat in the middle of the city complete with a huge balcony, rather than a real palace.

Pray – Feeling like she hasn’t loved herself enough with all that food, Roberts imposes upon the kindness of an Ashram in India where she successfully manages to turn someone else’s sadness into another of her many issues.

Love – In Bali Roberts befriends a medicine man who, in the sole highlight of the film, can’t actually remember inviting her back (as she suggests) when she first visited him. This is merely a clever ploy to drive her away methinks but, damnation, it fails. Julia is very sweet of course (can’t hate Julia), she has a big toothy, private dentist smile which everyone loves and she doesn’t even mention medicine man’s bad teeth…though she does ruin a few precious texts he has asked her to copy for him.

Then, what fortune, Roberts is run over by sexy, husky Brazilian Javier Bardem. Unfortunately, she lives, gets drunk, is stalked by Bardem and is generally loved by all and sundry. She is still unhappy but eventually, after much stalking and intense stares, she realises she does love Bardem because he is just as ridiculous as she is. Truly, they deserve each other.

Even writing about the smelly pile of used pants which is Eat, Pray, Love enrages me so, if you will excuse me, I would like to find some cultural stereotypes to befriend while wittering endlessly on in a pseudo soothing voice. What else does a gal need?

PS – The 0.25 is because the film looks purdy. I originally had it scored as 0.5. But that was too much.

Reviewer: Curlyshirley

Inception

Posted: December 11, 2010 by curlyshirley in Film
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In a nutshell: A breathtakingly stylish movie with a twisting plotline; perfect for a night in with a pizza and beer.

Popcorn rating: 4/5

Director Chris Nolan (Memento, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight) seems to have reinvigorated cinema of late with movies for audiences who want more than the usual bland CGI action fodder. A new concept, Inception was a gamble, an expensive gamble for studios who like to play it safe, and having opened with a healthy $60.4 million (US and Canada) Box Office earnings in its first weekend, the gamble has certainly paid off.

Of course box office success and a good film are not always one and the same thing. Think The Expendables. Think Titanic (sorry, but it really was dross). See what I mean?

Fortunately, Inception does have the kudos to pull off the rep. It is confusing, irritatingly so (especially if, like me, you engage obsessively in forums regarding what exactly the ending meant – is he still in the dream? But the kids haven’t changed – or have they (Nolan says they have)? And does the totem really fall after the end credits?) but it overall it is a good movie. That may sound like condemnation by faint praise. It isn’t. In a year of some truly dire offerings,  Inception is a shining example to Hollywood that movies can be intelligent and still get bums on seats.

Leo di Caprio as Cobb, the dream agent whose life we get entangled within, pretty much plays the character he played in everything he has been in over the past three to five years. No matter, his brooding, furrowed brow works fine here, it’s not an Oscar contender kinda role after all. The story, the set pieces, the delightful lack of CGI does all the work.

That’s not to say the cast aren’t outstanding. Juno prodigy Ellen Page is excellent, if annoyingly smug, as student Ariadne and the remainder of Nolan’s chosen ones are all engaging without ever taking the shine off the star (which is, of course, the magic of dreams – a city folding in upon itself anyone? A Paris cafe exploding around a patient couple? The crumbling city of the future etc etc). The magic of Inception is that the sheer beauty of the scenes unfolding before your eyes with a frenetic energy is entwined within a sharp, twisting plot that will keep you guessing long after it finishes.

There are flaws, of course. Di Caprio supping soup in the opening scene is overplayed and Michael Caine merely phoning it in as Di Caprio’s weary mentor are all slightly jarring but are not enough to damage the whole.

Overall, Nolan seems to be unbeatable at the moment and, with the rumour mill currently in overdrive for Batman 3, he will hopefully continue to deliver and inspire for many years to come.

Reviewer: Curlyshirley

In a nutshell: Neither macabre nor funny, if you really want to see it, at least wait till it’s on
Sunday afternoon telly

Popcorn rating:1/5

Burke & Hare Director John Landis has a pretty envious CV of quality comedies under his belt (Animal House, The Blues Brothers) as well as a few lemons (Blues Brothers 2000 anyone?). Unfortunately, with Burke & Hare, he’s be back in the citrus fruit section with a missable, boring and excrutiatingly unfunny “black comedy”. The
titular pair, portrayed by everyman Simon Pegg (playing Simon Pegg) and a hammy Andy Serkis, were a pair of grave robbers back in 1820s Edinburgh who started a new career as serial killers, earning their wages by selling said cadavers to Dr John Knox. Dr Knox dissected the bodies as part of his anatomy lectures. That’s the crux of the
story and, as you can tell, so far, so dark. Lovely jubbley.

Up the close and down the stair,
In the house with Burke and Hare.
Burke’s the butcher, Hare’s the thief,
Knox, the man who buys the beef.

Scottish children’s rhyme

While murdering rarely lends itself to comedy, films such as the wonderful Arsenic and Old Lace prove
that such black tales can be done, and indeed done well with a wonderfully light, tongue in cheek touch. Unfortunately, while Landis’s Edinburgh looks the part with lots of grime and muddy hues, Burke & Hare is not thrillingly naughty. In fact, it is when it strives for laughs with overplayed slapstick that Burke & Hare is at its most tedious. Of course, while it isn’t funny, Burke and Hare may have worked if it was either A. An intriguing portrayal of what is a
remarkable if ghoulish true story or B. A dark, creepy tale of shadows and nefarious goings on. It is neither. And an interesting cast which includes Pegg’s old comrades in arms, Jessia Hynes and Michael Smiley, alongside Isla Fisher, Tom Wilkinson and Tim Curry fail to ignite even a spark of interest or humour.

My advice? Don’t bother. The time you spent watching this would be much better spent hoping someone from the
Psychoville school of creepy (yes, I mean you Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton) takes up the tale and does it some justice.

PS – The 1 rating is for the at least passable Northern Irish
accents from Pegg and Serkis.

Reviewer: Curlyshirley

TRON: Legacy (in 3D)

Posted: December 6, 2010 by curlyshirley in Film
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In a nutshell: The story is cobbles but check your brain at the door and soak your senses in TRON. Let the games commence.

Popcorn rating: 3/5

TRON: Legacy is not perfect. The first shot of a “young” Jeff Bridges in all his CGI glory is just, well, creepy and the ‘son of the creator’ plot has so many holes you may as well have knitted it yourself out of some leftover wool.

But who cares? Nobody ever really thought the story was going to win awards. No one that heads out on a cold winter’s eve to see TRON: Legacy will be out for something as mundane as a plot.

You are there for the grid. And the grid, my geeky friends, does not disappoint.

After a few meandering set-the-story scenes (and that weird “young” Bridges CGI thing) you are soon in the virtual world of TRON and what a world it is. From its zippy, neon lines to the stylish blue and white glassiness of Flynn’s castle in the mountains to the sheer dexterity of its death games, everything about this computer generated world screams: “I am stylish. Got that? OK? Sty.Lish. Yip. That’s me.”

If you value looks over substance, then lie back and wallow in how gloriously, menacingly chilling it all looks. Enjoy the frantic games, the uber cool unicycles, the spinning discs and the mesmerising, speedy elegance of the unbeatable Tron. Giggle at old Flynn’s 1980s lingo (did he just say “rad?”) and Michael Sheen’s OTT Castor. Drink in the harsh, dystopian cyber beauty of it all.

Then pick up your brain at the door, leave the cinema, grab a beer and talk about how awesome it all was. How you wouldn’t mind seeing the first one now. How it all a got a bit Messiah at one point, which was kinda weird. How you’re glad you saw it in IMAX/3D because TRON: Legacy on DVD just won’t be the same. Even if you have got a 54” 1080p TV in your living room. Which says it all about the plot.

Then you can talk about all that other important stuff. Like war and politics and budgets and stuff. Or, if you were a computer game, what would you be?

Reviewer: curlyshirley

In a nutshell: The boy wizard faces his destiny, fans are left hanging but way-hey! The studios make a recession-busting fortune.

Popcorn rating: 3/5

The end is nigh. But don’t worry too much, it’s not the “end” end…not just yet anyway.

To do justice to JK Rowling’s final doorstopper in the series, studio Heyday Films have split the action into a two-part extravaganza – and Director David Yates sets his cards from the off, as Bill Nighy’s Minister of Magic Rufus Scrimgeour intones into the camera: “These are dark times, there’s no denying.”

The fun at Hogwarts is over…in fact, we are leaving lovely, warm, safe Hogwarts behind altogether as our trio go on the run and smack into danger, intrigue and a new battle against eVil.

And, what with chasing horcruxes, growing up, the first flush of love and the rise of old “nostrils” and his Death Eaters …Deathly Hallows – Part 1 is a busy affair. Fortunately, with the luxury of a second instalment to play with, Yates is in no rush to bring the magic to an end.

At just shy of two and a half hours, Part 1 explodes with a dramatic (and frightening) sequence dropping us smack into the action but unfortunately stalling and stop-starts dominate the remainder as Harry & Co. run/disapparate/meander (delete as appropriate) from scene to scene.

Overall, Deathly Hallows is not so much a build-up for the final battle in Part 2, as an exercise in schizophrenic pacing.

However, when it’s on the money, it’s absolutely thrilling. Standouts include:

  • The trio infiltrating the now corrupt Ministry – a section delivering laughs, tension and horror with aplomb
  • A closing act chase in a forest with the frenetic intensity of a Bourne film
  • Ben Hibon delivering a beautiful animation sequence for the fable of the Deathly Hallows.
  • A cast which brings so much prime acting talent from this side of the pond together in a range of adorable, horrible and altogetherwonderful characters (Bonham Carter, Mullan, Fiennes, Thewlis, Walters, McCrory, Spall, Rickman, Staunton, Coltrane..etc)

The less said about Harry and Hermione’s homage to Strictly Come Dancing the better.

Boding well for the final instalment, Part 1 is an uneven but extremely entertaining appetiser. Harry’s game remains spellbinding stuff.

Reviewer: AoifeWantonMovieLover