When I went to see Clint Eastwood’s Changeling, the female company I was with were in tears at the end of the film, however I was not as affected by the story because I lacked the mothering instinct embedded in all women to empathise with Angelina Jolie’s character as a mother. Spike Lee’s 25th hour strikes a similar chord but from the opposite side of the gender division. Because the relationship here is between father and son I understood how women must feel watching Changeling. The film’s climax occurs with an incredibly emotive and beatifully deliverd dialogue from Monty Brogan’s (Edward Norton) father, James Brogan (Brian Cox) and it is this troubled relationship that provides us with the backbone of the story, despite how unaware of it we are throughout the entirety of the film up until this point, which can merely be regarded as the set up for this final scene.
25th Hour tells the story of the last day of a man’s freedom before he is sentenced to seven years in prison. We are not asked as an audience to feel sympathy for this man, his crimes were making money off other peoples suffering as a New York drug dealer. He even says himself he should have pulled out of the dealing while he had the chance and while he was ahead but greed got the better of him and before he knew it, it was too late and police were knocking on his door. Although not feeling sympathy is challenging for us because we see his caring side, such as when he rescues a dog close to death on the street and the relationship with his girlfriend Naturelle (Rosario Dawson).
The narrative revolves around his closest friends, Jacob Elinsky (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) and Frank Slaughtery (Barry Pepper), throwing him one last night of debauchery even though the mood turns from a night of dancing and partying to friends downing whiskey at the thought of one of them leaving for seven years and threats being made to Monty by his boss, platitudinously named ‘Uncle Nikolai’.
The characters of Jacob and Frank contrast the reality of the dark nature of the modern day world with the dark nature and surrealism of Monty’s drug dealing. This is because although Frank is a stockbroker and Jacob is a high school English teacher, Frank is a self proclaimed womaniser who exploits others for his own gains, he is aggressive and narcissistic yet so similar to Monty. Jacob always seems uncomfortable in his own skin in 25th hour, he always seems like he has got something to hide and this becomes ever so more apparent when he makes a move on one of his students showing us that his underpaid, overworked job gives him some sense of punishment for possessing immoral thoughts. So all in all the three make the perfect group…or imperfect group I guess.
Films abut mental illnesses are tricky, they’re tricky to make because one word wrong and you’ll have a political correctness lawsuit on your hands, and they’re tricky to watch because you’re never sure what sort of reaction you’re supposed to have, was it funny or is that just how the crazy person acts? Is it O.K when the insane man kills someone because he doesn’t know any better? But what if you don’t know if the person is crazy or not? Obviously if someone comes to you and says they’re from a planet called K-Pax, 1000 light years away from Earth, then you automatically dismiss them as insane. But not with Prot (Kevin Spacey).
Prot seems to come out of nowhere but the rational part of your mind will tell you that he just walked there. Prot has moments when you think, this is a definitely an alien from K-Pax, such as the scene in the science museum and he intricately sketches the orbit of his planet in a solar system none of the top astronomers in America know about. But then there are moments when we can’t believe it, for example, the discovery of Robert. However throughout all of this, there’s a desperate hope that Prot is who he says, this is because it is inevitable that throughout the film you will develop such a strong relation with the nutjob. Why wouldn’t you? He’s such a sweetheart! This is probably why the first hyponosis scene is so difficult to watch, I was gripping the edge of my seat hoping that I wouldn’t uncover something I didn’t want to hear.
As mentioned above Kevin Spacey’s portrayal of Prot is such a sweet character, which is contrasted at first with Jeff Bridges’ character as Dr. Mark Powell, Prot’s psychiatrist. The beauty of this is that throughout the course of the film we see not the patient transform into a healthier person, but the doctor, a wonderful piece of irony.
One person that definitely deserves a mention when it comes to Iain Softley’s K-Pax is cinematographer John Mathieson. In K-Pax we see and incredible use of lighting, and I don’t mean lighting as in shadow casting and lighting certain characters more than others. I mean the use of light refraction. Prot doesn’t see light like most people, he can see all the way up the spectrum to ultraviolet light. Light plays such an important role in this film because that is Prot’s method of transportation, and Mathieson splices light through whatever object he can, notably seen through the Psychiatric Institute paperweight on Powell’s desk, and also is represented in the artwork in the psychiatric ward.
The film, however, is very rushed at the beginning, and then slows down as it gets past about halfway, characters and plots are thrown at you so early on it’s difficult to take it all in. Both the characters and story have good development but it is not very well spread throughout.
K-Pax is kind of like the exact opposite of Fight Club, not in the sense that it’s not good, but in the sense that his name’s Ropert Porter, not Robert Paulsen. So give Prot a chance, he comes in peace.
I had a Film Studies lecturer who told me that films are a barometer of the time that they are in, using 1940s America and the Film Noir period as an example. Although it may seem tragic to admit, David Fincher’s ‘The Social Network’ is a pretty damned accurate representation of the past decade or so. You can deny it but as one Stanford student says; “Thefacebook is freakishly addictive!” and it has had a massive impact on social structure for over 500 million people.
The story of Facebook is not quite as simple as it may appear, it wasn’t just born and then immediately took off. The story behind Facebook started with a very offensive website called Facemash built by Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg), which compared two female students of Harvard, and the viewer had to click on which one was hotter. He then argubly stole the idea for Facebook from Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss and Divya Narendra and a lawsuit ensued. There was also a lawsuit from Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield). The film is played with a non-linear narrative between these two lawsuits using flashbacks to tell the story behind the cases. Although these were factual events, the real Mark Zuckerberg claims the real creation story was a lot more boring. Ultimately however this is not a film about Facebook, Facebook is just an element of the story.
A huge amount of attraction to this film comes from the witty, fast paced dialogue written by Aaron Sorkin. Although it’s not mentioned we gleam a suggestion that Mark Zuckerberg’s character is mildly autistic and uses his brilliant mind to outwit and insult just about every other character, which is largely the basis for the films humour. Most of the main characters in this film seem to have very bland boring personalities but this was an important aspect because the idea of this seems to be to represent what Facebook has done to society driven by social status.
Now anyone that knows Sean Parker will know that from the age of 7 his father had taught him computer programming, Justin Timberlake’s character does not seem like the type of man who had his father teach him programming from the age of 7 but the type of man who had his father take him to Amsterdam to lose his virginity to a prostitute at the age of 7. He plays a smooth, good looking man who we have little evidence that he knows the first thing about programming, or about anything for that matter. However his character is nicely contrasted with Jesse Eisenberg’s portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg who seems to want the exact opposite of Sean Parker but thinks that this man is the way to get what he wants. He gets it, but at a price.
Don’t be put off by the concept of The Social Network, Fincher and Sorkin have produced a modern day masterpeice here and a true reflection of the society that we all bask in so comfortably.
First of all let me just state that I was blown away by the visuals in this film, I am often misinterpreted when I present my views on Avatar. I have never seen such breathtaking imagery in a film, the notoriously brilliant CGI in Avatar will truly take you away to another world. With floating mountains so fine touched and giant blue Pocahontas style aliens seeming as realistic as the person sitting next to you in the cinema, James Cameron’s Avatar is a beautiful cinematic experience, and I could genuinely watch this film on mute forever.
I say ‘on mute’ forever because tragically there is a huge let down with what is being described as ‘the ultimate cinema experience’. This let down is the narrative of the film (which is a fairly essential part of making a hollywood blockbuster!) As well as directing, James Cameron also wrote this film which was a mistake, perhaps some of this huge budget should have been used hiring a good script writer. The turn of events are less than surprising and not once was a sat on the edge of my seat wondering what was going to happen because the storyline is so predictable, as a result I was bored for the majority of the film not really paying attention to anything other than the graphics. There are several holes in the storyline, most notably we’re not even told why the humans are so desperate to obtain the unobtainium, no pun intended. Which would have been nice as maybe then we could see both sides of the story. Not only that but, Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) never even bothers to explain to the Na’vi why the humans are infiltrating their planet, which was his mission in the first place and the point of the whole film. Probably because he’s to busy showing the audience all these beautiful places with his new blue broad, Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) which once again shows us that Cameron was more interested in making a beautiful setting rather than having an enticing plot.
The actors in this film performed very well for their parts and were very suited to the characters, especially Sam Worthington who we see with his patented ‘only positive emotion on my face will be a subtle twitch in the left hand corner of my mouth in one scene’ style of acting, which was perfect for the role as Jake Sully because after all, his brother had just been killed so we weren’t to expect him to be all sunshines and lollipops. However the little character development in this film leaves us not caring for anyone in it, the only person who we really get a background of is Jake himself, and even that is pretty vague. As for every other character we gain little knowledge of what they are like individually.
I have seen this film in both 3D and 2D and I feel the same way about the 3D in this film as I have in every other film I have seen in 3D, and that is that 3D has not been developed enough yet to market it as anything particularly special. It is merely a distraction from what’s on screen, as you try to work out what is meant to be happening up close and far away. With any luck, the whole 3D phase will not last long in cinema or at least be developed further to make it worthwhile charging extortionate amounts of money for it.
Avatar is unoriginal, uninspired and definitely not worth watching more than once. If you really can’t get enough of Pandora, then watch the trailer for the film on youtube, that way you’ll be able to enjoy the remarkable graphics in this film whilst still saving 3 hours hours of your life which you can spend watching one of the decent films that Avatar ripped the storyline off.
The word synecdoche means substituting a more inclusive term for a less inclusive one. So what does this mean in the way of the title?
Ultimately nothing. It’s implied meaning relates the idea in the film of creating a scale model of New York in a giant warehouse, but who are we to say what’s in the warehouse is not more real than the world outside it which becomes apparent to theatre director Caden Cotard (Philip Seymour Hoffman).
When first watching Synecdoche, New York it becomes difficult to work out what it is your watching because it sure as hell doesn’t feel like a film, it appears that you’re just watching some guy live his life, and the truth is, that’s all the film is. It replicates all the struggles we go through each day, day in and day out – fear of death and disease, marriage & divorce, even the colour of his poo. Cotard is obsessed with the idea that theatre should be as brutally honest as life and not lie to the audience, this is the inspiration for his masterpiece. He takes actors and across several decades has them come to work and play a person in his life.
Slowly the play takes over his life, for example when the man playing him goes to kill himself he’s sure he is just playing a section of Caden’s life and doesn’t think he will actually kill himself, when the actor does then he yells at the corpse about the fact that he didn’t do it in real life. The play becomes to much for him and he must take a break from his life, where he switches places with the woman now playing him and he is no longer Caden Cotard. Showing how he controls his reality, and perhaps shows his incapability of dealing with his problems in the outside world which are slowly making their way into his makeshift world.
The acting in this film is extraordinary (argubly most of the actors had an easy time as all they had to do was live their lives on camera), Phillip Seymour Hoffman delivers a harrowing performance as the depressed theatre director which is contrasted perfectly with Samantha Morton’s performance as the chirpy yet slightly creepy Hazel, and the character’s relationship development between the two is beautiful thanks to being written by Charlie Kaufman (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) who also directed the film.
This film is difficult to watch at the beginning, but as the characters develop they are so easy to relate to and emphasise with, by the end of it you will have cravings to watch it again, and do so because it is equally as pleasurable the second time, and the third and so on. Soon enough you begin looking at your own life and start thinking; “That’s my Hazel” or “That’s my Sammy”. This was Charlie Kaufman’s first film as a director, and that combined with his skills as an accomplished script writer makes an unstoppable emotional force that must be watched.
Wow, you rarely find a film that makes you say that these days. But the work of Christopher Nolan never ceases to amaze, and he has really outdone himself this time with his eight year long project; ‘Inception’.
As mentioned, it is rare to find a film with that real wow factor these days. But it is also rare to find a film that challenges you on an intellectual level not just a visual level, and to find a film that engrosses you so deep in the storyline that it becomes impossible for you to take your eyes off the screen long enough for you to take a sip of your drink. However, Inception does just that, and I guarantee you that when it’s finished you’ll never dream the same again.
It is difficult to describe what Inception is about in so few words, but I guess it starts with ‘extraction’. This is a futuristic technique where you steal information from peoples subconscious by intercepting their dreams using a PASIV Device (Portable Automated Somnacin IntraVenous Device) which places you inside the other persons dreams. To perform extraction well you must be an extractor and Dominic Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is the best. All Cobb wants is to get home to his family which he can’t for reasons explained later in the film. When one of his extraction jobs goes wrong he is picked up by the businessman Saito (Ken Watanabe) who offers him one last job in exchange for redemption. To do this job he must perform ‘inception’, which is to go into someone’s subconscious and not take information but plant an idea. This is very difficult, because a person always knows when an idea is from someone else, so to make the idea stick in Robert Fischer’s (Cillian Murphy) mind they have to go deeper into his subconscious than the team (except Cobb) have ever gone before by creating dreams within dreams. The only issue with this is that if you die whilst under the sedation you need to go that deep into someone’s subconcious then you do not wake up like most dreams, you go into limbo; a state of raw infinite subconscious where you can get lost and lose grasp of what is real and what it a dream. The likelihood of this then happening is increased by Fischer being trained against extractors like Cobb entering his mind by having his own personal army waiting to attack the extractor and send him to limbo.
Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance in Inception has been criticised by many, however this tends to be criticisms found in forums spurted from general narrow mindedness. The all star cast consists of; DiCaprio (the extractor), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (the point man), Ellen Page (the architect), Tom Hardy (the forger), Cillian Murphy (the mark), Ken Watanabe (the tourist) and Michael Caine (Cobb’s father). Each of these actors and several others I haven’t mentioned commit to their roles with such passion and dedication. The actors selected for the parts compliment the direction of Christopher Nolan in a way that turns this film into a behemoth of entertainment.
If there is to be a must see film of the year, this is certainly it, and I would encourage anyone of any age to stop reading this and get down to your local cinema to watch Christopher Nolan’s latest masterpiece.
I thought I’d make my first official review of the last film I went to see at the cinema. The Karate Kid.
My initial thought was should I go into the cinema with high expectations? After all the original was one of the best films to come out of the 80s. The answer was obviously no, because in actual fact this film seems like a world away from the original Karate Kid and not just because it’s in a different country. The change of setting to China made a really nice change but it seemed a bit scattered, so you could not pin-point particular places in relation to one another, for example we can’t work out where the school is compared to Dre’s home and all these streets seem to just lead to wherever Dre wants to go as if they were the green fireplaces in Harry Potter.
This was just one of the many reason why this film made shoddy work of the name ‘Karate Kid’. The main character in this was named Dre Parker played by Jaden Smith, who we all know as the son of Will Smith. I wish I could say his acting reflected that of his fathers in films like ‘I Am Legend’ or ‘Enemy of the State’. But tragically it reflected more like Smiths role in Hancock, god awful. Jaden plays the bratty child that refuses to accept the changes in his mothers life, which at first is endearing and we feel sorry for the poor child who has been through a lot after his fathers death but as it gets about halfway through the film and his acting acquires no emotional depth whatsoever he becomes boring to watch. Then there is the creepy kissing scene between Dre and Meiying (Wenwen Han) which seemed a pointless and unsettling addition to the film, maybe if Meiying didn’t look significantly older than Dre it wouldn’t be as weird for the kids, but better still if they were both significantly older then this scene would have worked.
Dre Parker’s training time-line in The Karate Kid took away a huge sense of realism from the film. For example clearly he was trained well to fight and he did that just as Mr. Han (Jackie Chan) taught him, but I don’t remember Jackie Chan teaching him to do a standing kick the moon and boot someone in the face which as a freerunner, trust me, takes years to learn. Dre also seems to break the pure logic of biology as he stands up walks onto the arena and ends up winning the tournement with, brace yourself, a broken leg!
I understand that the whole idea of the film based on the ‘zero to hero’ idea but director Harald Zwart instead created the idea of ‘zero to superhero’.
However there is one point about this film that prevented me from walking out, Jackie Chan performed his Mr. Miyagi style role beautifully, his character seemed to have some odd emotional issues but that was largely down to the writing rather than the acting. Chan made the character of Mr. Han seem more present in the film which is something that seems to be missing out of most of the American films he has starred in and it was great to see him genuinely perform with the skill that we haven’t seen from him since his days as the drunken master.