I was saddened to hear the news this evening that icon of science fiction, stage and screen Leonard Nimoy has passed away. He was 83.
Nimoy was of course the legendary Spock from Star Trek, in both the short-lived TV series, the movie franchise as well as the recent re-boots (as future Spock) and was always a charismatic, at times dead-pan funny and always likable presence. He will be very dearly missed by the movie industry, Star Trek fans and many others. My thoughts go out to those closest to him.
This had potential going by the trailer, so on first sitting down I had high hopes. The fictional story of an age-old secret club founded at Oxford University (somewhat inspired it seems by the real-life Bullingdon Club), we’re at first introduced to a ‘right ol’ cad’ by the name of Lord Riot, who is caught doing the nasty with some duke or lord’s wife, and is subsequently killed – but his wild and drunken reputation passes into legend and so hence forth the club continues to present day, where ten rebellious over-privileged students must continue the not-so-honourable tradition set forth centuries ago.
A new kid on the block Miles (Max Irons) catches the eye of one member of the club and is soon seduced into joining, despite a growing love affair with the local good girl, Rachel (Jessica Brown Findlay) and it’s not long before these spoilt little shits are off on the mother of all night’s out. This was at first interesting and the relationship between Miles & Rachel rather absorbing, but once the riotous behaviour started, I was quickly zoning out and disliking pretty much everyone on screen. The problem is there aren’t any likable characters here (apart from Rachel) and even Miles who should be the moral centre proves unsympathetic as events quickly spiral out of control. The final location in an English country side pub seemed a bit strange also, with these rich bastards seemingly capable of ending up at much more grand places – but then again, the introduction of a father & daughter running the pub gave us normal folk someone to relate to I suppose. A throwaway line towards the end sort of summed up this movie’s main problem though … ‘they all look the same’ which basically means there isn’t a lot of depth to any of the characters, including a resentful room mate whose only reason for being an utter shit is because his brother proceeded him. Erm, ok.
This could have been a lot more, greatly needed more danger, sex and shock-factor .. and only really got interesting as it was about to end. A missed opportunity.
I’ve not really taken much interest in the Academy Awards this year, as I am getting increasingly underwhelmed by award ceremonies of late where it’s always the same names and the same kinds of movies getting nominated let alone winning anything. However on taking a casual glance at this year’s winners, I feel pleasantly surprised to see some deserving names getting mentioned.
I was wanting to see Birdman for a while but haven’t yet got around to it. At first I was intrigued as it was a come back vehicle for Michael Keaton, then I heard it was directed by 21 Grams auteur Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. So I am equally happy to report that the movie grabbed Best Picture along with a Best Director nod for Alejandro. In some of the other categories I was not surprised to see who won, such as Eddie Redmayne as Steven Hawkins in The Theory Of Everything … typical Oscar fair but I hear it’s an amazing performance. I was also pleased to see J K Simmons getting Best Supporting Actor for Whiplash – not overly familiar with the movie but he has always been a very underrated actor. I was surprised to see Patricia Arquette getting Best Supporting Actress – thinking this actress, her appearance in Boardwalk Empire aside, was a bit of a has-been. So very pleased for her also. I am also a growing fan of Julianne Moore so was happy to see her get the Best Actress nod for Still Alice, even though I’m not familiar with that film.
One disappointment I did have was that once again, the Best Animated Feature Film went to a big budget Hollywood animation (Big Hero 6), and the also nominated Studio Ghibli movie The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya was snubbed – but, I haven’t seen either so that’s just a personal gripe. Yet I was happy to see that The Grand Budapest Hotel did fairly well in the production design, music and costume categories, even if I’d have loved it to get Best Picture.
As I have mentioned on here a few times in the past, I love collecting Japanese statues, usually of the anime or comic book variety, and occasionally video game characters. My latest purchase was quite unique … from the bishoujo range based on illustrations from famed Japanese artist Shunya Yamashita but this time is inspired by horror movies. This one is based on the Freddy Vs Jason movie and possibly a comic book series, albeit with sexy females modelling themselves like the iconic horror characters. I love it!
I didn’t have a clue what to expect from this. I had heard that director Wes Anderson had his own unique style, that it starred one of my favourite actors, Ralph Fiennes and had been widely acclaimed and nominated for several Oscars. So I thought … it has to be worth checking out.
Narrated by an ageing hotel owner recanting his exploits as a bell boy taken under the wing of a charismatic and respected concierge, Mr Gustave (Fiennes) who following a wealthy woman’s mysterious death, comes into possession of a priceless painting and the disdain of her greedy family, headed by a snarling Adrian Brody. So follows a very entertaining ‘caper’ comedy as we follow an unlikely duo through various adventures.
Wes Anderson has presented here a real spectacle of a movie… it’s shot with a style that echoes the avant-garde look of French cinema ala Jean-Pierre Jaunet (Amelie, Delicatessen) mixed with the flourishes of Baz Lurhman (Moulin Rouge) via the technical perfection of Stanley Kubrick to create one of the best looking movies I’ve seen in a long time. It’s also for the most part presented in old-school 4:3 ratio, like that Oscar magnet The Artist and it works very well indeed. There is more character and personality in any five minutes here than most movies have in their entire running time. Also we get a wealth of famous faces all doing their bit in small but enjoyable roles from Edward Norton, Jeff Goldblum and Saoirse Ronan to Bill Murray. Add to this a great villainous turn by Willem Defoe … and this has it all. The story is fun and energetic and held together by a brilliant where-has-he-been Ralph Fiennes as the camp, poetic and lovable Mr Gustave – surely one of the most memorably creations in a while.
I had a great time with this, and it’s made me an instant fan of Wes Anderson – I love directors with such visionary appeal. Essential viewing.