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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

DADADA DA DADA DADADA DA DADADUM!

MOVIE ROUNDUP!

Yes, I've seen a few movies in the last week or two, and here are my lightning quick reviews. Because, after all, who needs more in-depth film reviews when one or two sentences should let you know if you'll like it, right?

Right!

Plus, I don't have long...

APOCALYPTO

Mayan civilization is rotten at it's core, and cannibalising itself for the sake of sacrifice and slavery. Our man in the country Jaguar Paw gets nabbed along with his buddies (after his village is destroyed), and taken to the city. He escapes. Cue jungle chase.

A lot of people say this film is nothing more than a pretty decent action movie, and that's certainly what it becomes. But Gibson does a good job of setting up the characters, particularly in giving time to the day in day out lives of the villagers. He even gives some lip-service depth to the main bastard, who probably could have cruised on pure nasty fucker charisma (or "fuckerisma" as I will now coin the term). So you do give a damn when things go to shit.

As for not really saying anything, Gibson is subtle like firecrackers in church; the first half does have more to say, and it's pretty blatant. Greed, class, consumerism, and, interestingly, organised religion are all getting the Mad Mel treatment, and it works fine. You, like Jaggy and his buddies, are disgusted at (historically inaccurate apparently - but how would I know really?) the corrupt heart of Mayan civilisation. And once his little soapbox is out of the way, we get one of the best jungle adventure matinee movies you ever saw, with quicksand, jaguar attack, spiky traps, snakebite, and waterfall action!

This is going on a little long. In short: not perfect, but very entertaining. Much better than the Jesus flick. And don't take the kiddies, because the gore is pretty strong. Bounce, bounce, bounce a head.

THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND

Oh wait...

A compelling tale of the ruling days of Idi Amin. Told from the viewpoint of an overprivileged Scottish doctor who goes to Uganda in search of adventure, and becomes the right hand man to an increasingly crazy dictator. Handles the subtle shift in tone very well as Amin becomes more and more paranoid, and young Dr Garrigan gets further in over his head. Great performances (Whitaker will get and deserves an Oscar, for what it's worth), great direction, and yes, that is Agent Scully, continuing her smart reinvention as a quality British Actress .

THE FOUNTAIN

Pretentious claptrap? Many people reckon so. Captivating, old-fashioned, theme-driven science fiction story of the kind we don't tend to see anymore? I think so. One of the most gorgeous films you'll see this year? Without a doubt. Go and see it. It's only 90 minutes, and if it's not your thing, you can just kick back and pretend you're watching a music video, or a self-help DVD, or lying on your back in a cinematic swimming pool, or something.

Oh, and Hugh Jackman impresses me more all the time.

THEM (ILS) *

A French couple based in Romania live in a big old house in the woods just outside of Bucharest. Then one night, somebody wants (and gets) in. And that's about it. This film is a tad over 70 minutes long, and I loved every fucking minute. All done in a very lo-fi manner, and more than a little inspiring. The actors are both terrific, and I really found myself cheering them on, wanting them to survive this horrible situation.

Some people are saying that the ending kind of falls down when it is revealed who "Them" actually are. I say they need to put down the crack pipe of internet hype, and take up my competitively priced syringe of go with the flow.

BABEL

That's pretty much the look on most people's faces throughout this film, except for a Mexican wedding and a Japanese club scene. And even the latter ends with that face. Don't get me wrong, I love this film, but it needs to be said.

Anyway, I thought Amores Perros was genius, so I was quite disappointed in 52 Grams, which on the whole left me rather cold. Very stylish, well acted and so on, but just a little too aloof and sterile for it's own good I thought. I was pleased, then, to find myself totally sucked into this world-spanning story of communication and lack thereof. Without exception, every performance is spot-on, and although the link from the Japanese end is a little tenuous, it all holds together very well. All the threads are involving, which is a nice change for this kind of multi-strand thing.
So, if you're in the mood for something that leaves you feeling a little introspective, this should fit the bill.

Okay! A bit scattershot, a bit rushed, but a bit like me really.

Adios!

*Yes, that's right. I'm such a man of the world now, I can say "Them" in French!

8 comments:

  1. I think Babel is the film I have least wanted to see after watching the trailer, EVAR!

    This is no impulse emotion either, I must have been subjected to that trailer every time I've been to the cinema in the last couple of decades. Who's paying for that shit?

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  2. wooser4:12 am

    Andrew is...

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  3. 21. 21 Grams. Although 52 Grams would have been more than twice as good.

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  4. Anonymous1:51 pm

    Them sounds pretty decent, and I will check it on your recommendation. I tried watching Apocalypto, but as the opening scene looked like it was gonna involve a pig getting snuffed, I left the auditorium. Bit soft like that.
    If you do want to watch something truly terrible, then I'd nominate Zombie Lake, available at regular DVD vendors and on sale for just £2.99 at Liverpool St station's Impulse shop. Made with a budget of possibly £200, it has a cast of 30 (including just six zombies), contrived nudity and a knifefight between two nazi zombies. Never has 75 minutes of my life been stretched so long..
    chalonj anika

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  5. Nathaniel5:50 pm

    I saw The Last King Of Scotland. I liked it a lot. It was far less heavy than I'd anticipated, a real entertainment. I think Forest Whitaker's a terrific actor (apart from in The Crying Game) and is great in this. He's one of the few actors who even manage to change their their entire stature between roles. A real chameleon (pronounced "shameleon") as Jeremy Irons would say. The Academy voters seem to love a "big" performance so they probably will give it to him, but I'd rather see him get for something else (did he not get one for Bird?). These big performances really seem to be winning Oscars hand over fist of late and hamming it up really seems to be paying dividends. I think people are starting to believe that's what good acting is. I suspect that'll be the only reason Eddie Murphy could get one for Dreamgirls (AVOID). Don't get me wrong I enjoy a good Ham more than the next man. I'd like to see O'Toole Esq get it for Venus.

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  6. "Ils" means They in French, not Them. The French for Them is Eux.

    Your friendly neighbourhood pedant.

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  7. Oh damn, turns out I'm just a man of Total Film translations. But: eux, or leur? I guess, in the context of a one word title, eux is the one.

    Anyway, go test nuclear weapons in your own back yard....

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