Wednesday April 11, 2012

127 Hours (2010)

I knew nothing about this film on starting it. I think this is actually a pretty neat idea, no concept of what genre it is, what other people think of it, no expectations at all. It could have been a stinker Hollywood formula teenage drama for all I knew. Thankfully it wasn't. If you know nothing about this film, perhaps you should stop reading and come back when you have seen it. My only hint is that it's worthwhile.

Right, the rest of you. It started off with lots of scene setting while I played "guess the genre" And "guess the budget". Loads of interesting split shots that I suppose conveyed high energy and action. I was worried it would turn out to be like some surfer movie except set in the desert (man goes tramping in Grand Canyon) The main character , Aron Ralston, however was played by James Franco. To me this was a good sign as just about everyone who starred in Freaks and Geeks seems to have gone on to half-way decent to very good films. Despite the certain fears of both genre and to be honest, who lent me the film (great guy, just not sure if our tastes will align), it seemed quite engaging. But after the 10-20 minutes of scene setting, it became apparent that something awful or weird might happen. Would it be out of left-field like Quentin Tarantino's From Dusk Till Dawn (I was fortunate to not know what was ahead of me in that film too)? Or would it be suddenly scary? Or was something gruesome or just horrible about to happen?

Well it happened, he fell down a canyon and though he wasn't injured from the fall, a rock came with him and pinned his right hand. The rest of the movie is how he attempts to deal with this and how he gets out. It's a true story too. The cinematography is creative. Certain shots convey so much. The acting is brilliant. James Franco was convincing and emotive.

This was a gem of a film because of the skilful acting, directing and cinematography. The story is interesting (and a little sad) too however lets be honest, it could have gone so wrong. But it didn't. Highly recommended movie.

No Spoilers here.

    Wednesday April 11, 2012

After.Life (2009)

Continuing seeing movies that I know nothing about I put this on not knowing what to expect. It became clear that it might be some kind of horror flick but as I had not looked it up I was still open to the idea that it was just a film, not a genre. This idea makes me realise how constraining the whole idea of genre is. Sure it's useful, but it's a double-edged sword. Why can't a movie have certain elements then just.. not? Perhaps the Directing book will tell me why not.

The film is about a woman who dies in a car accident after a fight with her fiancée. She "wakes up" in the funeral parlour and can talk to the funeral director who appears to have a gift of being able to talk to the dead. However she isn't convinced that she is really dead and nor is her fiancée who tries to get access to the body but can't because he isn't "officially" her fiancée. As the film goes on we're not sure she is either. The uncertainty continues right to the end of the film though it leans heavily towards one side for the observant. I imagine if coming into this film expecting a horror you'd be quite disappointed. In fact the film seems low grade for a couple of reasons, one is it seems to give so much away with dialogue but later it seems that this is all to build up more mystery later on. Another reason is some of the shots just seem a tad too forced to show a naked Christina Ricci rather than help the story.

It wasn't spectacular film but it kept me occupied. It wasn't awful, perhaps a little slow and with flawed execution but still watchable.

    Wednesday April 11, 2012

Cocaine Angel (2006)

This follows a short period of time of a junkie and his junkie friends. I wasn't expecting much because I did look this up (quickly) on IMDB and noticed it had something like 4 stars (out of 10). Certain shots and scenes were a bit amateur-looking. I was looking for flaws like that of course thanks to the rating. However the film grew on me. Some of the actors weren't quite convincing, but the main ones were quite passable. I found the deadbeats in the film plain infuriating. They reminded me of a mashup of people I have unfortunately encountered from time to time, though none of them junkies, but sharing certain traits. It makes me ponder where the line between being some kind of junkie and just being a dick head is. I personally think drug use and addiction gets the blame far too often when the underlying cause is that the person is really just a self-centred idiot. Perhaps- no, I really think- they walk around us all the time. Sure, drug use might push them over to behaving in an unacceptable manner, but the truth is they weren't far from that anyway. Why blame the drugs then?

Even with more legal drugs we see this. Alcohol gets the blame for people who become violet or disruptive in town. I happened to see 3 fights on the street as I was walking home on Saturday night (I live in the city). But when I drink, I don't get violent. I don't get sad and pathetic, I don't get disruptive. If I did any of those things, I'd stop drinking. Not hard is it? No, people who take substances and then do stupid shit are just generally stupid in the first place.

Rant over. The film. It was low budget and ruined in a couple of places by bad actors. The story, I'm not sure how realistic it was, but the low class hopeless people I found entirely believable. I've met people like that. It's depressing. Generally it comes from poverty mixed with... a background of poverty I suppose. The people in this film seemed to be a mix of those people and like the main character, people who just became like that after falling from a great height. After seeing countless examples of the main character just being an annoying jerk, it cuts to home movie footage of him being normal with a wife and kid at the beach in a previous life. Makes you think a little bit.

All up, low budget but not a bad film. Certainly better than a Michael Bay blockbuster.

    Friday April 20, 2012

Alien vs Predator - Requiem (2007)

Like eating... a burger king breakfast when you normally eat real food. I imagine after a while you'd get used to it and dislike anything real. However for anyone else it's not really digestible. I can't quite put my finger on it, everything is so formula. I was watching the cinematography and even that is like... bog standard. Everything you'd expect. You know an idea has reached a certain level of saturation when even this film makes reference to it, for example a crew of survivors are directed by some general or government rep or whatever to the centre of town for helicopter pickup and one of the survivors thinks that is fishy because it's full of aliens. Are they being directed to ground zero of a mass nuclear extermination (and... why)? This leads to a rift in the group and one woman who seems to represent some innocent conservative type says "but they government wouldn't lie to it's people!". Yes the idea just got dumb.

I can't say much good about this film really, I mean, yeah, kudos to the SPFX department I suppose and to everyone in the whole crew for producing... exactly what the money men told you to make. You did well on that. I'm sure 14-yr-olds everywhere (and 30-year-old socially inept guys with figurine doll collections) loved it. Well I can say one thing I suppose. It had a teenage love interest thing happening, a unpopular guy who represents that the target audience think they are, except this guy wouldn't go and watch this movie in his spare time, get a clue; and a cute girl who obviously was friends with him when they were kids but she blossomed and started dating all the nasty jocks. Anyway she drops her nasty jock (who gets ripped up by an alien of course) boyfriend and... well you know how this story goes if you've ever seen say, Transformers (ugh that took me 2 very forced sessions to finish). Well, halfway through the film she gets wiped out. It almost made it look like the film held no prisoners for the sake of fairytales. Of course, it's target audience will willingly let the love interest die for some gore all the while to a Pantera (or some modern equivalent) soundtrack I suppose. That's why they are all dateless.