Bound


Viewed – 18 August 2014  Blu-ray

In the nineties, I remember this being one of my favourite thrillers.  A gangster’s mol plots to steal $2 million from her mobster boyfriend after hooking up with the alluring ex-con in the apartment next door, who just so happens to be a lesbian.  This atmosphere-heavy and stylish movie was heralded at it’s time for it’s arty approach to a lesbian storyline and it’s cool twisty-turny narrative, helped immeasurably by great turns from it’s three main stars; Jennifer Tilly, Gina Gershon and Joe Pantoliano.

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The 1996 debut movie from The Wackowskis, who went on to craft The Matrix movies amongst others, their obvious skill is aided by superb work from cinematographer Bill Pope who makes the camera as much of a character as the people in the story.  At it’s heart this is simply a sexy thriller (with a killer lesbian sex scene), two attractive, albeit stereotyped females (could Gershon’s character be any more clichéd?) and an unhinged mobster straight out of the mobster handbook.  That being said the script is full of clever structuring and interesting developments (the plotting of the stealing of the money is shown at the same time as it’s being executed).  Although dialogue that perhaps initially sounded cool, now years later comes off rather corny (“I have this image of you – inside of me – like a part of me” – groan).  Also Tilly’s Betty Boop voice grates quickly.  Thankfully then this is so rich in style and tension, much of that doesn’t matter as I enjoyed watching these girls get one over on the mob.  Towards the end, I’d have liked a final twist, as it seemed to conclude too ‘safely’ given the knowing awareness of the rest of the movie.  It’s been compared to the more serious works of The Coen Brothers such as Blood Simple, although I’d call it closer to the noir thrillers of John Dahl, as in The Last Seduction.  Still one of the cooler movies of the nineties.

The recently released Blu-ray from Arrow video is above average.  The movie itself is in good shape, even if it’s subdued look, mostly consisting of greys and whites doesn’t dazzle in high def.  The music and dialogue on the other hand are both delivered affectively in a choice of DTS 5.1 or Dolby 2.0.  Extras-wise this is quite impressive, with several featurettes covering interviews with the cast as well as the crew.  Most valuable is an audio commentary, again from cast & crew, shedding plenty of light on the production.  Concluding this package is reversible sleeve artwork as well as a booklet and the movie on DVD as well.   Not too shabby!

Verdict:

(the movie)  3.5 /5

(the Blu-ray)  4 /5

Gamescom gameplay stand-outs


I have kept a close eye on this week’s games convention in Germany, Gamescom and some of the gameplay videos that have surfaced really impressed me.  I think there were some exciting reveals, even if the increasing focus on Indie titles leaves me a bit cold (I tend to find these budget games get a bit boring after a few plays…).  But I’m all for the blockbuster franchises and games like Call of Duty Advanced Warfare and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt looked very impressive.

My highlights though remain these two:

Quantum Break

Format: XB1

Developer: Remedy

 

Assassins Creed Unity

Format:  XB1 and PS4

Developer:  Ubi Soft

 

Sadly at the moment only AC has a release date (pencilled in for Oct 28) but Remedy seem to be keeping tight lipped about when we’ll get our hands on the very cool looking QB.  Either way, lots to look forward to for gamers.

Curse of Chucky


Viewed – 16 August 2014  DVD

I gave up on this series a while back after the embarrassingly bad ‘Seed of Chucky’.  However having enjoyed most of the other movies, that being Childs Play 1-3 and the very entertaining Bride of Chucky … I was willing to give this a go, especially as I had heard it was a back to its routes entry.  A paraplegic woman called Nica, living in an old house with her domineering mother, one day receives a strange package.  Yes someone has sent them a good guy doll, with no note to say who that somebody was. 

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A very basic premise this may well be and at first I was underwhelmed, but series creator Don Mancini, taking to the director’s chair delivers a well made, stylishly-shot and creepy stalk and slash horror that felt very much like the original.  We get a cute kid who see’s no wrong in a talking psychotic doll, and various supporting characters I enjoyed seeing bumped off one by one (gotta love the death by lap top…).  Some back story to the serial killer Charles Lee Ray was welcome with genre favourite Brad Dourif on fine form, getting more than just a speaking part for a change.  What was the big surprise however was kid sister Fiona Dourif (True Blood), playing wheelchair bound Nica with plenty of tough attitude and also proving the vulnerable heroine due to her disability. 

For a Chucky movie this sort-of reboots a franchise that was disappearing up it’s own arse, even if for a horror it’s packed with clichés, isn’t particularly scary and has a few moments that don’t make sense (the lack of cell phone signal, that post credits bit…).  But mostly this was a lot of fun.

Good to have you back, ya pint-sized little bastard.

Verdict:  3 /5

The casualties of war


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More than at the recent E3 event, the big wigs of the gaming industry, Sony & Microsoft have really pulled no punches when bitching at each other’s announcements.  The big news of course was Microsoft securing Rise of the Tomb Raider as an exclusive for it’s Xbox platforms (XB1 and Xbox 360).  This has pissed off it seems a big portion of the internet with Microsoft rushing to clarify the announcement by saying they paid for a timed deal with Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics … which basically means Sony fan boys may see the much-anticipated title arrive on their platform eventually.  Sony’s response to this?  They offered a statement saying ‘they don’t need to pay for exclusivity in their games’. Oh, and so Xbox owners can expect Uncharted on their machine soon then?  Yeah … thought not.

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It’s all very petty and a bit juvenile.  Microsoft did kind of mislead people by not mentioning the timed aspect of their deal, but then again – aren’t most exclusives timed these days unless they are first party?  Also I don’t really get the uproar surrounding such news as Microsoft need to have a few more trump cards up their sleeves to grab customers in the wake of PS4’s popularity … it’s just good business sense.  Tomb Raider made a real name for itself on PlayStation, granted and also on PC so I can see the frustration, but this isn’t just about several machines all enjoying a piece of the pie – this is a war, and one a big company on the scale of Microsoft aren’t going to lose without a fight.  So grow up everyone and realise that first and foremost … videogames are a business.  If you don’t want to lose out in some way, buy all the consoles.  I love Mario but don’t own a Nintendo console … see me blubbering?  No.  So trust your loyalty to a particular format and deal with the disappointment instead of moaning about it on internet forums.  It actually makes you look a bit silly.

I am interested in getting a PS4 later in the year, and like the look of some of it’s exclusive games (especially The Order: 1886).  I can live without them at the moment as XB1’s announcements are good for my general taste in games (loving the look of Quantum Break’s gameplay), and yes if Tomb Raider had been said to go to PS4 instead, I’d be pissed too.  But then that is why owning both consoles is the way to go this generation.  I understand many will not be able to afford it (and I can’t really) so like I said … stick by your decisions and let the games speak for themselves.  Competition is good for the industry, bitching is not.  Simple as that.

Dallas Buyers Club


Viewed – 13 August 2013  DVD

One of the big movies to come out of the awards season, nabbing itself three academy awards (including best actor).  Matthew Mcconaughey plays arrogant, Texan womaniser Ron, who discovers he has HIV following a trip to the hospital.  Narrow-minded and in denial, he goes on a journey of self discovery after the docs give him 30 days to live.   Soon he realises the drug that is being offered to patients is more harmful than good, and goes about seeking alternatives, that haven’t gone through the approval process.  Hence forth he sets up the ‘Dallas Buyers Club’, where for a monthly fee, people can get the necessary medicines, that he brings back from Mexico, Japan etc.  Along the way he meets a fellow HIV sufferer and transvestite, who goes into business with him and the two form an unlikely bond.

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Firstly this is an incredible physical performance from Mcconaughey, who’s weight loss for the role is nothing short of scary.  Adding to his presence is a bold and motor-mouth performance you might expect from him, making an at first unpleasant guy into someone you genuinely care for.  Supporting him is Jennifer (the best lips in Hollywood) Garner as a sympathetic doctor, and also Jared Leto, stepping into the limelight from a career of thankless roles.  I would have liked more detail on Leto’s character as he was the more likable performance, and the subtle bond between the two leads could have done with that one emotional punch you normally get from such ‘tragic’ dramas … especially towards the end.  Garner as a sort of love interest is under-written also.  However this remains a showcase for the talent of Mcconaughey and the true shocking lengths an actor can go to to deliver a very convincing portrayal.  It’s something to behold, I can tell you.  The same should also be said for Leto who delivers a similar physical shock-factor.

The movie sort of glosses over some of the finer details surrounding the illness, with death seemingly left to your imagination.  However as a daring and harrowing tale of a still scary virus, and the ignorance of government and hospitals where money seems more important than lives – this one will leaving you thinking for quite a while.

Verdict:  4 /5