Monday, December 31, 2012

Life of Pi

SF: I wasn't totally sure what to expect as I haven't read the book, it never really appealed. However before going to see this I had seen the trailer about one hundred times which really put me off long before it was released. This might taint my view but I tried to keep an open mind. After all most Ang Lee films have brilliant cinematography and this film certainly delivered visually. The story is fairly simple, a young boy survives a ship wreck and is left adrift with a few animals. These sort of films are very hard to engage with because they tend to be character driven and not very fast paced. This however was a nice blend of quirky and endearing. The tiger is incredible, as soon as I got home I had to find out how much was real and how much was CGI, as I could not tell the difference at all. Even more impressive is that this is the guy playing Pi's first film; he'll be one to watch in the future. My main critique would be that the film whilst lovely didn't evoke any emotions (it is probably just me). On the whole Life of Pi delivers everything your expecting, it is a charming, beautiful story of hope. 7/10

50 Eggs: Wow I really disagree with SF's point about this not evoking any emotion...for me this is one of the most emotional films I've ever seen. I was exhausted by the end of it. Unlike SF I had read the book and whilst I rate it very highly, I think this film is even better. It's beautiful, funny, scary, upsetting and thought provoking. All the acting was great but for me Irrfan Khan stole the show in his supporting role as adult Pi - in one scene he actually took my breath away. The effects were also brilliant and it's the first film I've seen where I've actually felt that the 3D was improving it. If I have one criticism it's that I didn't like being spoon fed the meanings of the metaphors right at the dumbs it down a little and I don't remember the book doing that. But overall this is a triumph. 9/10

DonkeyB:  Titanic with animals - note that this is a review of the trailer not the actual film.

Overall: 8/10

Friday, December 21, 2012

Project Jen- He's just not that into you

I have problem with the italicisation
shouldn't it be: 'he's just not that into you'?
If I tagged everyone who was in this movie, I'd run out of energy for typing before I get to the review. Two degrees of separation news: Pacey's (from Dawson's Creek) big sister is in another film.

Diane Snyder and Warren Cheswick from Ed (which is one of the most underrated tv shows of all time) feature in the first five minutes.

Prejudices in the film (in order of appearance)

Racism (Africans in mud huts, seriously?)

Gigi and Alex (Diane and Warren) feature all the way through it turns out. They're the stars, it's their story really. Awww isn't that sweet.

This is a really hateful film, it's just horrible in every respect.

Jennifer Connelly (who I love) plays a character who may very well be a psychopath, not very well.

Jennifer Aniston is barely in the film, but she seems to have a job working with two of the other characters at a mail order spice emporium where they keep having to come up with 'copy' for nutmeg. I'm not sure whether this is supposed to be funny or ironic or something but it isn't. She's not very good, but it feels harsh to blame her.

Some traditional Blue Donkey film review rhetorical questions:

Everyone in it has far too much money, where does it all come from? What is the point of the inserted sections? Could Scarlett Johansson's character be more of a porn film cliche?

RATING: 1 Green Dress eeeuuuuchhhhh

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Chalet Girl

SF: I had been all set to watch Limitless but ended up seeing this and being fairly surprised. First it has some skateboarding - so I'm going to be in favor of that. Second, the film manages to be rather funny. Third I ended up rather enjoying it. There are a number of cliches and you could write the plot on a stamp but overall it is entertaining and isn't that the point of a film like this? Plus both Bills are always a treat 6/10

50 Eggs: I did a season as a chalet host a few years back, and let me tell you it was nowhere near as cushy as this film suggested! It was however a whole lot of fun, and the same can be said for Chalet Girl. It's is a definite Sunday afternoon film that made me laugh far more often than I expected. Felicity Jones also turns out to be a bit of alright too, which always helps. 7/10

DonkeyB: n/a

Overall: 6.5/10

The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey

SF: Here we are following Bilbo on his big adventure set many years before the events of Lord of the Rings. I am a huge Tolkien fan. So really it would take a great deal for me not to like this. Somehow with all the hype I wasn't that excited. The idea of three films baffled me and still does. First there was a great deal of padding out which seems unnecessary and probably rather boring for non-die-hard fans. However as expected the production value was pretty impressive and very much in keeping with the previous movies. Sadly, as it was filmed in 48 frames per second everything looked too real thus a bit more fake and CGI then it should have (edit - we saw it in 24fps but still looked more fake than LOTR - oh dear). Sometimes fantasy films need that ethereal air to the camera work, new Zealand does still look beautiful though. That all said, the acting was very good and on the whole I was pretty satisfied and didn't notice the running time as much as expected. I didn't leave the cinema desperate to see it again (as I had done with the previous LOTR films) but I did still enjoy it (yes even all the back story references to wider Middle-earth histories). An unsurprising 7.5/10

50 Eggs: OK so first off, the decision to make this into 3 films was a bad one, undoubtedly driven by dollar signs. On the other hand I think anyone who thought this could be done in just one film was being hugely naive. The book of the Hobbit was written in an entirely different style to LOTR - a single page of the former contains as much story as a chapter of the latter. Furthermore, matching the tone of the earlier films necessitated bringing in exposition from The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales. This is what Peter Jackson has done really well, adding flesh to the bones of the story, giving it added purpose and emotion that isn’t evident in the standalone book (which was after all aimed at small children). I was pleasantly surprised by this.8.5/10

DonkeyB: I think I should declare from the start that I am a Tolkien sceptic, a denier if you will. Middle Earth is not my thing. In Primary school Matthew Mold was reading The Hobbit and suggested I try it. I don't think I got beyond chapter 2. I have never even started Lord of the Rings- the furthest I have ventured is having to find a reproduction of a map as some sort of test of computer literacy as a fresher at Uni. I didn't watch the first Lord of the Rings film, I fell asleep twenty minutes in to the Return of the King (which I believe is the second film - edit - its the third film) and I have seen part of the ending to the last film once when it was on TV: I say part because it seemed to have at least five endings and I honestly can't remember how many of them I sat through.

It is therefore safe to say that I was never going to like the film very much. But by any standards it is far too long. I think it could quite easily lose 40 minutes. Obviously I don't know what more lies in store, but it seems unlikely that there is six hours more material to make up the next two films. For a start how many more cliffs can there be for some or all of the band of 14 to hang over?

On the plus side apart from the length and [Bilbo?] Bagginess of the film there isn't much to object to. It looks stunning, the acting is fine, the script is adequate, as a fantasy film it is hard to imagine anyone doing one any better. I'm not sure what purpose the film really serves though except to provide the first of three more films for Ring nutters to add to their Lord of the Rings marathons. 6/10

Overall: 7.33/10

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Project Jen- Along Came Polly

This is Part one of the Project Jen marathon.

Yey - also part one of camera watch - the wedding photographer in this film has a Nikon!

I can't make up my mind whether picking up the plot/story problems is being unfair. After all it is pretty obvious the film isn't supposed to be realistic. But, I do find the idea that there is such a thing as an expert risk analyst who's job is to type things into a computer programme, which then (presumably) applies an algorithm and tells him what to do, ridiculous.

The film is right about throw pillows, they are pointless. I personally find them even more annoying in hotel rooms where you end up having to leave them on the floor, ready to trip over them if you get up in the middle of the night.

Philip Seymour Hoffman's character provides the laughs- I think I counted two. Its not objectionable, the blind ferret isn't funny, and neither is the toilet scene.

On the plus side Jennifer Aniston isn't terrible, she's pretty, has a nice bum and the main character would be crazy not to prefer her to the other woman, which is what is required. At one point she makes a facial expression which displays, embarrassment, shock and that she might be enjoying something all at the same time which is entirely appropriate to the moment in the film.

Rating: I think I can say it gets 2 Green Dresses

Thursday, December 13, 2012

End of Watch

SF: After all the hype I had high hopes for this film. In many ways it was very satisfying, the acting is spot on and the setting seems to work, a good mix of serious, gritty, humour and at times disturbing. There are three particular moments that really surprised me (I'll let you guess which moments these are). I liked that the whole story didn't take place in one day or week but over a staged period of time. However there were just a few things that stopped this from being a great movie and left merely a good movie. Which is a shame as it had a lot of potential. Firstly the use of found footage as a medium, this is fine at times but if you are going to do this then you must stick to it relentlessly. Secondly not enough character depth and lastly not enough tension in the finale. 6.5/10

50Eggs: n/a

DonkeyB: It's an entertaining cop buddy movie. These guys see some truly horrific and depressing things, and do some downright stupid and undeniably brave things, which makes me think that maybe the film was trying to be gritty. My problem with it is it seemed too one dimensional, without ruining it ***SPOILER ALERT***, cops good, bad guys bad.

The other thing that film makers have to stop doing now is the found footage thing. It was getting old for me by the end of The Blair Witch Project but now it is seriously boring as a concept. It also fairly seriously undermines the story telling in this film, right from the start, I was thinking, 'ok so if Brian got that shot, who filmed that?' Why are the street gang filming what they do? What becomes of Brian's film project? Was he just making that up because he liked to film his life? He doesn't seem like that sort of character in the film.

We are surely not far away from the time when some bright spark film maker just out of film school makes a play within a play, with made up 'real found footage'. i.e. they shoot fake real footage to make a found footage film, but then use different actors who look a bit like the first set of fake real people to make the bits in between, so they can fake pretend that it is really a found footage film they have padded out with dramatisations and alternative angles.

I understood that concept I'm not sure anyone else will, which is good because that means they can't steal my up-its-own-arse-pretentious-film-school-project I'll never make.


Overall: 6.5/10

Project Jen- Update 12/12/12

This could be a momentus weekend coming up for Project Jen.

Love Film have delivered two; one, two, Jennifer Aniston movies to my door: Along Came Polly (on Blue-Ray- yet another tedious software update to sit through on my Sony Blue-Ray player before I can watch a film- welcome to progress everyone) and Office Space.

Finally a Jennifer Aniston film I am looking forward to seeing again, and Office Space- ok that was an old joke. That is not why this could be a momentus weekend though people, it could be a momentus weekend because in addition to these two films, I also have Love Happens and Leprechaun to see as well. That's right, it could be a four film weekend for Project Jen.

I happen to remember that Love Happens has Pacey's (from Dawson's Creek) older sister in it as a photographer who shoots Nikons. Get exited. And ready for camera trivia in a film review. Martin Sheen is in it too, and a parrot, I'm already readying the two degrees of separation news for Along Came Polly.

Its going to be massive!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Project Jen- The Switch

Of the three (yes three) Jennier Aniston and Jason Bateman films I've watched as part of Project Jen, this is the best so far. That opening sentence (and link) also counts as your two degrees of separation news.

Or it would have if I had written a review of The Breakup yet, however as I think about it I realise I haven't officially watched The Breakup as part of Project Jen. I watched The Breakup as a civilian.

Anyway, this is going to be a cruel sentence: finally we come to a role that Jennifer Aniston seems born to play, an attractive, older, single, career woman who is desperate to have children. I realise that pointing that out is going to be about the least original thing written in the whole of Project Jen, and that's a high bar to clear, but it cannot go uncommented on.

Bateman gets to play a character with much in common with his career defining alter ego from Arrested Development, so he is fine. Jeff Goldblum is funny as a charmingly sleazy friend/boss of Bateman. The script actually has some funny lines.

Its a rom-com which is passingly entertaining, mildly amusing and at least hints a little at romance.

Rating: 3 Green Dresses

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Silver Linings Playbook

SF: After reading the plot summary, I had reservations. I've learned not to expect anything new from cinema and had a feeling this would be no exception. 10 minutes in I had the entire plot summed up and if you see this film, chances are you will too. On the plus side I think the acting was solid. The blend of humour and some very serious issues were well developed. I loved seeing Anupam Kher in this and rather enjoyed the predictable but sweet ending. Would I watch it again, not likely. But because of the great summaries of some well know books it's worth 6.5/10

50Eggs: I'm sure that most of the hype surrounding this film is due to the headline actors both being rising stars, rather than the content of the film. And as I watched it I did find it odd that this physically flawless couple were playing people with mental health issues. I wonder why they didn't go with normal looking people? But then again that's probably me being prejudice. The film itself is a bit talky but funny and interesting. The last scene is great. 7.5/10

DonkeyB: It is not a film about mental illness (which I was worried it might be), it is a film in which characters have mental health issues. It was much funnier than I expected. It is definitely the best film I've seen with Bradley Cooper in it. Jennifer Lawrence is terrific, she's building up quite a resume but quite significantly this is the best Robert DeNiro has been in quite some time. Chris Tucker is perfectly cast. I really enjoyed it. 7.5/10

Overall: 7/10

Monday, December 3, 2012

Project Jen- Wanderlust

More two degree of separation news: There is a Raconteurs song on the soundtrack, Brendan Benson is/was in the Raconteurs, and he has a song in Along Came Polly. Paul Rudd is in this film just like he is in Friends and Object of My Affection. Alan Alda is in the film, he is also also in Object of My Affection. I have seen Object of My Affection, I remember it being not that bad...we'll see when it gets delivered; Wanderlust is awful.

Once again I spent a Saturday afternoon with Jen on the Blue Ray not making me laugh. Why is the film called Wanderlust? Its about two people who want to live in New York, who hate not living in New York but have to after the man gets fired. The commune in Georgia they end up in, is filled with people who live in a self-supporting community and rarely leave. What has Wanderlust got to do with it?

The film is filled with a whole load of impossibly irritating characters, based on chiched ideas and stereotypes and in the end the creepy spiritual leader douche-bag character turns out to be a stupid, venal arsewipe.

There are so many continuity mistakes that it starts to really grate. You do wonder at one stage whether they are putting them in on purpose but I'm pretty sure they are not.

Zero laughs, an occasional smile.

RATING: 1 Green Dress

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Project Jen - Update

SF: I fear that all these Jennifer Aniston movies are doing something to DonkeyB.
He was caught in HMV with this
OK I might have given it to him but I worry.

20 films still to come on Project Jen:
and the eagerly anticipated... Leprechaun 

It needs to be noted that £12 is too much to pay for these movies