Monday, 26 July 2010

FILM REVIEW: Inception

Fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinally - I am proud to announce a film that has achieved the honour of FIVE CHEESES! Blimey, I'm going to have to make a new jpeg, and everything. After months of chewing through fodder, and the occasional almost-but-not-quite-there, I've found a film I can find no fault with, a film that as it stands is my absolute fave of 2010. Something else is going to have to impress me an awful lot to topple the sheer astonishing brilliance of Inception. (And also I might add, a film I've been looking forward to for yonks that actually hasn't let me down! So thank you very much Mr Nolan!)

I'm not going to tackle the intricacies of the plot too much in this review because they are complex, but suffice to say if there was a plot hole you'd have to be looking for one. Christopher Nolan understands perfectly the idea and the world of the dream/subconscious and cleverly anticipates and creatively revels in a multitude of situations and consequences. I was floored and in awe at the attention to detail, and also appreciated the way it was explained within the narrative to us as viewers. I have to admit after the first sequence (a little action before the plot really unfolds) I was a little wary of how hard it was going to be to keep up with it all. But the introduction of new personalities to Cobb's clique - particularly Ellen Page's character - meant we were never in the dark. It was challenging, but then the best films are.

I lovvvvvvved the idea of going into people's dreams and seeing how the unconscious rules. As I have mentioned before on the blog it reminded me a lot of Scarlett Thomas' The End of Mr Y, although instead of it being a vast troposphere where you can jump from person to person, Inception concentrates on the subconscious of just one person, but also further explores the deeper levels of this, the notion of a 'dream within a dream' and also introduces the world of 'limbo' - which wasn't exactly the barren wasteland I had been imagining it to be. It just makes me wonder (again in awe) how Christopher Nolan thought all this through, how long it took him to shape together this idea. There must have been a lot of charts and graphs involved, that much I know!

My favourite scene was probably when Cobb shows Ariadne (hee, I love it! The princess who helped Theseus back through the Minotaur's labyrinth. You can just imagine the character thinking to herself, "wow, what a unique name I have. I shall have to become an architect!") how to manipulate the dream landscape, and the effect this has on his subconscious. The world folding back onto itself it one of those defining images of modern day cinema, just like the lorry flipping in The Dark Knight - it's just incredible to watch. Then following her as she makes bridges rise, and creates new doorways into other worlds - it's so good it makes you want to cry. I really hope Nolan or someone else as skilled and talented can touch upon this concept again because it's crying out for more interpretation and story. Or ideally someone could just secure the film rights to The End of Mr Y....

Really enjoyed all of the cast in this, especially Marion Cotillard who I thought pulled off creepy extraordinarily well - she was excellent as the fragile, emotionally deluded wife and the scene and dynamic between her and Di Caprio when she jumps to her death is enormously powerful to watch. Again, Leo does a solid enough job of leading the ensemble, but as with Shutter Island he's overshadowed by the film. There was some great camaraderie between Joseph Gordon Levitt and Tom Hardy's characters, but it did feel like Michael Caine's character had just been written in there for the hell of it (whose dad was he supposed to be anyway? They were all different nationalities! /only qualm).

I want to talk a little about the ending because I honestly think people are reading far, far too much into it. When the totem is spinning and the camera settles on it to create the final shot of the film, it distinctly makes the noise that it's about the topple over, while the jaunty music in the background conjours up the image of a cartoon character grinning as he tip-toes exaggeratedly over to his victim. In other words, CHRISTOPER NOLAN IS JUST TEASING US! Of course he would love us to think "oooooh. OOOOOH. It's a dream! Maybe the other world was reality. Maybe everything is a dream!" but then you wander into the realms of being clever for clever's sake. Nolan just cut the final scene short because he can. He's the director. A cheeky one at that!

148 minutes that never drags, filled with story arcs that compel, amaze and sober you: Inception isn't just the film of 2010, but it's an inspirational masterpiece from the mind of one of the finest filmmakers living today. Little wonder it's already ranked number three in the IMDB top 250 films of all time.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Meet the Sucker Punch girls!

I've been keeping my eye out for news on Sucker Punch, the new film from Zack Synder (300). And now we finally have some pics of the girls - looking fabulous. I love all-girl cliques with misfit names and dark secrets (as you should all know by now). Here they all are:

I'm a huuuuge fan of Abbie Cornish - can't wait for this! Trailer to follow hopefully (it does sound completely bonkers).

FILM REVIEW: The Killer Inside Me

Slightly delayed review (I saw this in mid June!) but in a way the extra time has been good to sort out in my head what I really felt about The Killer Inside Me - and after being so excited about seeing it I have to say it was a huge disappointment.

Now, it got really positive reviews elsewhere, so it doesn't necessarily mean it was a poor film overall and no one got it. It's just that I didn't come away from it with that enthused, energised feeling I was so hoping to have - I just couldn't understand what it was trying to be. There were moments of true nastiness, but there were moments of comedy too, and the music in particular didn't do much to create a mood, only blur things. The comedy could have worked (see American Psycho) but the film didn't seem to commit to it - it was just thrown in here and there, so you're left feeling neither horrified nor morbidly bemused. Just apathetic. Perhaps for me, it was because this was my first Michael Winterbottom film, and perhaps I don't get how he visualises his films. To be honest this isn't a great platform to start from.

The film just starts. That's also what caught myself and a lot of other people out - there's no prelude or throwaway scene at the beginning to latch onto and slowly let yourself in. You have to concentrate immediately - and with sound so poor it was a headache to keep up. Casey Affleck's drawling Texan accent didn't help matters, but the dialogue was so low and mumbling it was almost impossible to keep up with what was happening there and then, let alone try and pick up on the dropped hints and stories to help work out the character of Lou Ford. The film didn't drag as such, but there was a lot to go over and clarify at the end. The unreliable narration didn't help clear matters much either, as you started to wonder what events had actually happened, ala American Psycho. But I didn't mind that too much, I like when things are left ambiguous.

The cast were all excellent, especially Casey Affleck who continues to go from credible to insurmountable. He won't win an Oscar for this, but it's another building block to add to his tower. A good film also for Jessica Alba, who isn't being a dumbass starring in a dumbass film for a change. The scene where she is killed was uncomfortable to watch (I did turn away from the screen a few times) but I was also glad it happened so early on in the film and we weren't just checking our watches every five seconds wondering when "the Jessica Alba scene"'s going to be on. It meant we could put it out of our heads and focus on watching the rest of the plot unfold. Kate Hudson was alright, nothing too special.

I wish I'd read the book before seeing the film. I think I would have understood and followed things a lot better, and it would have provided that greater depth I felt was lacking in this film - or perhaps I just missed it under someone's breath. The Killer Inside Me does its best to portray one of fiction's most brutal characters, but ultimately not in a cohesive and engaging way.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Death, Rape, Permanent Death...and a Pregnancy

It's been a couple of weeks* since the TV finales aired, plenty of time to digest What.Just.Happened, and in the case of Lost to say goodbye (sob, sob). They didn't disappoint in terms of high drama and extreme plot points: for some it was the culmination of a story that's been simmering since the beginning of the season, and for others it came like a sucker punch out of left field - not nearly as satisfying, but good for the tweens who squeal OMG because they haven't seen this happen to a character a billion times before in the 90s. No, I don't want to get sarky and cynical about it, but the finales at the end of the 2009-10 year have hardly been "game changing" (take note producers who want to set themselves up for a fall). They all had brilliant moments: three of them made me cry - one of them non-stop; two of them made me cringe, one of them made me shout things at the screen, one of them lied to its audience, and one has been lingering on my mind ever since it finished. But only one was perfect.

Read on as I pin-point the key moments of the finales, the characters who won and lost, and the decisive overall rating...

*er, by that I mean months


Recap: Crazy but dull Jen is pregnant with Ryan's baby, but when he offers to be there as a father she tells him to eff off; he continues his "downward spiral" with drink and drugs, getting bladdered at the end of school party and then stealing and drunkenly driving a shuttle bus around town. There is no subsequent omgz car crash; Dixon and Ivy yawwwwwnnn and a horrible press your fingernails into your face excruciating "romantic" moment in a Planetarium... he escapes his rowing family to sneak off to Australia with her for the Summer; Liomi break up (NOOOOOOO!); Navid and Ade have a spilling out feelings moment over the school TV channel which is no where near as lovely as it sounds and get back together again, but inexplicable pop star lover still wants her to go on tour with him; Teddy and Silver unfortunately still exist; Harry is fired as Principal after he is found to have covered up Dixon breaking into the school; Liam finishes his boat, and takes it on a debut trip with whiny verging on escaped mental patient Annie...who then confesses she is a murderer. AND GETS A HUG FOR IT. Ugh. She leaves to tell her parents the truth, who are busy having a blazing pre-divorce row; Creepy but Amazing Jasper sees the whole thing and jealously burns down Liam's boat. Cue punchy punchy. And finally a dumped and dejected Naomi seeks refuge in the school when her car won't start... and ends up getting raped by the teacher she cried wolf on. Oh this poor child. Oh, and the school is also on fire.
Best Moment: Cry wolf rape! Obviously it's horrible, but I'm intrigued about the way it might go, as Naomi when she eventually does tell will face dozens of uninterested faces who will just think she is lying again to get Liam back. So that has potential to be quite heavy, and hopefully give AnnaLynne McCord something juicy to work with (even though she is brilliant at being a self absorbed shallow bitch). Unfortunately, if 90210 handle it with the same amount of care and consideration as the Annie hit-and-run storyline, then it will descend into a farce and Naomi will be over her trauma by Christmas. (on a side note, the producers have said the Annie storyline is now concluded and won't be brought up again in Season 3. WTF?! Which brings me onto...)
OMFG: Annie gets away scott-free after confessing she ran over and killed a man, and then left him in the road as she drove away. Oh, and got the car fixed so no one would notice. I cannot even begin to express my disgust at the whole debacle.
They spend more time as a show on bland Teddy and his inane tennis career than they do on murder. And no one yells at her for it, no one stares back horrified at a girl who has lied for an entire year and also managed to be completely at ease with what she's done. It's incredulous. I was beginning to warm to Annie in the first half of this season, and loved the fact she was an outcast. But somehow - by doing absolutely nothing - she has become a redeemed character again. Well screw that, I hate her even more than I did in Season 1. I only wish she had been on that boat when Jasper had set fire to it.
Well Done: er, no one. You were all awful.
Oh, Fuck Off and Die: Half the cast. Naomi, Liam, Silver (without Teddy), Navid (without Ade) and Debbie can stay.
Please Come Back: Jasper! I hope we haven't seen the end of him because he is endlessly watchable.
Head In Hands: the Planetarium scene was just all kinds of wrong, and implausible.
Closing Thought: I bet the original finale was better.


Gossip Girl

Recap: Georgina returns to the Upper East Side claiming to be in big trouble with the Russians...but she's actually pregnant. With Dan's baby. But who knows fo sho with that crazy mothafucker?; Somehow Serena and Dan are having angsty hidden feelings for each other AGAIN (this is so boring by this point, and verging on incest) and have dull-as altercations with Nate, ending in a break up; Blair gives into the 'signs' and goes to meet Chuck at the top of the Empire State Building...but she's too late; Dorota and Vanya have baby! Lovely; Rufus decides Jenny is too far gone and tells she she's leaving New York to go and live with her mother; a depressed Jenny and Chuck wallow in each other's company and Chuck takes Little J's big V...just as Blair comes in to tell him she wants to get back together. Chuck is delighted, and Jenny sneaks out of the defiled love nest. Broken (but not to the extent of sympathy) she confides in Eric what has happened, who then tells Dan; a now reunited Blair and Chuck beam with happiness for a few moments and he even makes a move to propose to her...before Dan in a hugely unoriginal and predictable moment lamps him one; Blair finds out what Chuck has done, and is devastated. She screams at Jenny to leave, and tells Chuck she never wants him to speak to her again; Jenny leaves, and Serena and Blair now newly single head off on a Thelma and Louise type adventure to Paris; Chuck is mugged in Europe, and while trying to protect the engagement ring he was going to give to Blair is shot and left for dead. Oh, and Nate becomes a ho. Hilariously.
Best Moment: Anything with Chuck and Blair. I was actually really enjoying the finale, with Chuck actually 'going there' with Jenny, and the breakdown of relationships that followed that. Obviously I want Blair and Chuck to be together and happy and rule the kingdom, but when they fight and cheat and lie it's so ficcy and wonderful. I also found the fact that he was going to propose added so much more emotional weight to the whole exchange - proof that he really loves her. The getting shot part at the end was horribly tacked on and unnecessary melodrama the episode could have done without. That's what brought the finale down for me, along with...
OMFG: Georgina's is she or is she not pregnancy, which I HATED and made me want to smash my head through the laptop screen. It was like a scene from a soap opera. I think all the ex Sunset Beach cast members that have been starring this season have had a really unhealthy impact on GG!
I hate, hate, hate that they've done this. Even if she's lying about it and has a fake baby bump, I still hate it. I hate the way it was revealed - it was so crass. Ughhhhhhhhh it makes me want to attack things.
Well Done: Dorota and Vanya! I love them so much.
Oh, Fuck Off and Die: Dan. With Nate, and Vanessa, and Rufus and Lily. All in a horrible plane crash. The end. (I maintain Serena could still be interesting without the guys around).
Please Come Back: Well, Chuck's obviously not going to die - he's by far the best actor on the show, only trumped in the overall stakes by Leighton Meester. I hope we get more of Blair's mum and Cyrus because they're so fun together. Oh, and Hillary Duff! I really liked her character.
Head In Hands: Seriously, Dan and Serena again? I thought we'd done this a billion times already?
Closing Thought: This show needs its mojo back, because it's been floundering for too long now.

5 ½/10

Recap: Chuck tells us the history of the Impala in 'intervals' to the main plot - it's cheeseorama; Dean agrees to Sam's plan to say yes to Lucifer and then jump into Hell, and Sam tells Dean not to try and save him if he dies and go lead a 'normal apple pie life'. Dean gives him that look which says not on your nelly Sammy; Sam says an emotional goodbye to Cas and Bobby and stalks out Lucifer; unfortunately for the brothers he knows about the Horseman's rings, and Plan A is out the window; Sam says yes to Lucifer, and Dean opens the Hell gate for him to jump in...but Lucifer takes charge of Sam's body; Dean wants to know what the next step is, but Cas and Bobby are defeated. Not wanting to give up on his brother, Dean seeks out the place of Lucifer and Michael's final battle. Lucifer (Sam) and Michael (Adam) meet. As they wrestle with their emotions, Dean turns up to confront them. Cas, in an amazing moment of genius disposes of Michael, but much to Lucifer's anger. He clicks his fingers and Cas explodes in a bloody mess. Then if it wasn't horrific enough, he then breaks Bobby's neck. HAND OVER MOUTH IN SHOCK ALERT!; Dean tries to get through to Sam inside but Lucifer pummels him to a bloody pulp (it's very distressing, this eppy). But as he's on the verge of killing him, Lucifer catches sight of a tiny plastic Army figurine that's been jammed in the Impala - and the emotions attached to it bring Sam to the surface (oh yeah, told you it was cheeseorama). Mustering up all the power he has left, Sam opens up the Hellgate. Michael reappears and tells him not to jump, and as they fight they both tumble in and the hole closes; in the aftermath of losing his brother, a slumped Dean is surprised by an alive again Cas, who heals him and Bobby; Cas returns to Heaven to assess the damage, and Dean says goodbye to Bobby. He then drives to Lisa, and she welcomes him into her home...but as he sits enjoying a meal with her and her son, underneath the streetlamp outside, Sam is watching.... Oh and Chuck was God. ALL ALONG.
Best Moment: The end scene, trying to decipher the look on Sam's face. Is he upset Dean hasn't tried to save him, and actually listened when he said go and leave a normal life? Is he jealous of Dean? Is something else preying on his mind, something he has to tell Dean? Does he know something terrible we don't? How long has he been away, anyway? It was powerful, and a little spooky.
OMFG: THEY KILLED BOBBY AND CASTIEL! And then brought they back to life again. Ho hum.
Well Done: Castiel finishing Michael: "Take that Assbutt!" So many tears.
Oh, Fuck Off and Die: Lisa and her son. Seriously, I want them dead by the end of the season opener. I don't understand why a once encounter with her has suddenly become the main focus and desire of Dean's life. If they wanted it to be an authentic impossible love then they should have given more thought to it. Stupid show.
Please Come Back: Well, Misha Collins signed on for Season 6, so all is well and good in the world there. Hopefully Jim Beaver will stick around too. And for God's SAKE bring Daddy Winchester back! Just for one millisecond of an episode!
Head In Hands: all the Imapala schmaltz. And adding in the "key" fact of the wedged Army plastic figurine so late in the game. It spoiled what was otherwise a charged season finale, although it was easy to tell how the real programme ending finale should have gone, and the bits that were tweaked just so it could go a sixth season - that was a little clumsy. The fact that Supernatural has been moved by the CW to Friday nights just confirms we've reached the scramble after the peak.
Closing Thought: Is Sam Season 6 Buffy? And if so, will there be a musical episode?



Recap: Oh jeez, I'm not going to go through the whole bloody lot of it. Plus, it spoils it for the numpties who never watched Lost and now it's all come to an end may take advantage of the peacefulness and curiously go and buy all the boxsets to see what the ongoing fuss was about. I hope they do, because the ending was wonderful. I know a lot of people hated it - generally a lot of people who had guessed it correctly five seasons ago and were waiting to be trumped by something off the scale. But I loved it, and I cried so, so much. For what it's worth, here's my interpretation of it all: I think they all died in the original plane crash. I know a lot of people don't, including some people who worked on the show, but I think the onus on soulmates is very relevant here. By and large, the passengers didn't know each other when they got onto the plane, but I believe they were supposed to. When the plane crashed on the island, the island became purgatory - a place for the passengers to work out their past grievances and to also gravitate to their soulmate (culminating in all those tear-wrenching reunions we had in the final episode, gulp). The ones who died, or came to terms with the lives they had led on earth moved to The Church - the bus stop if you will - quicker than the others who were finding it hard to let go. Finally, Jack is the last one to let go, and finally enters The Church where he reconciles with his father, and everyone can 'enter the light'. Except of course Ben, who decides he isn't ready yet. People will disagree with me, but that's the way my soppy head looks at it.
Best Moment: or best reunion shall we say? For me it was Charlie and Claire. They've always been a genuine presence, and with Charlie's death a few seasons ago and Claire's deterioration, their spark has been missing from the show so it made their reconnection even more powerful. But Jin and Sun were a close second (their death the episode before under the boat was emotionally draining. Their commitment to one another was almost achingly perfect, except for the nagging feeling that they have a daughter to raise goddammit, don't be selfish!)
OMFG: Locke was new Jacob all along. I honestly didn't see that one coming, so when Jack tells him "it should be you" I was a gibbering mess.
Well Done: Desmond - solid to the end, brother.
Oh, Fuck Off and Die: bloody Shannon. I don't understand how it could be her and Sayid at the end as the "true couple" when they only spent a brief amount of time together, and Sayid's love for Nadia seems much more potent. Bah.
Please Come Back: erm, the whole show?
Head In Hands: well my hands were in the tissue box for the most part.
Closing Thought: I knew they were going to end with Jack's eye closing, but it was still magical. In fact, the whole editing and flow of the final two episodes were an absolute feat of television, and an experience that will certainly never weaken on future watches.


So that's the 2010 season done and dusted. I wonder what tricks we have to look forward to in September? 

A New Mousing Hole

Good news everyone! I've taught the house to have internet.

Actually I've had the internet for a couple of weeks now. What a lazy mouse I've been! The longer break I have from my blogging the more stuff just piles up. Well it's time to rub my tiny hands together and get to it, 'coz there's lots to talk about and too much stale cheese to wade through.

Firstly, a treat. A lovely fresh new look to the site thanks to the new Template Designer from Blogger Buzz (I promise not to go on about how much better WordPress is anymore. I love you, Blogger). It's hard to find a background which fully reflects everything I bang on about, but this was quite shiny, and rest assured I'll be changing it around every few months anyway as they add more and more content.

Also you may have noticed a new look at the top of the blog - and a mysterious "Is it out yet?!" titled tab which says 'coming soon'....oooooOOOOOoooo... it's almost like Lost. But what it is really is a place to put all the exciting new films that are coming out over the next few months when I first hear about them at festivals, so when (if) they get their actual release date I won't forget about them. I mentioned putting one up a while ago, so here it is! Well, soon. And I'll probably change the title as well, as it's a bit naffingtons.

What else?... well, I'll finally get round to posting my review of the 2010 season finales - not that anyone cares now! Still a good while away from the autumn start up dates though, so hopefully this will read as a nice PREVIOUSLY EVERYTHING THAT WAS HAPPENING ON THIS SHOW piece.

Have a very, very delayed review of The Killer Inside Me to come also, as well as my thoughts on Inception and Toy Story 3. Hurray, the cinemas have started to get interesting again!

I'm also going to try and talk a bit more about books and the theatre, because I'm letting the side down just focusing on the screen based stuff. So hopefully a more cultured experience awaits you....when I get round to it all.

Ahhh, it's nice to be back!