Bit of a quiet month … not many movies on the horizon, but do have a few reviews in the pipeline … such as the newly released 25th Anniversary Blu-ray of classic comedy / fantasy The Princess Bride. Also I have Pascal Lugier’s somewhat ignored but (in certain circles) well received Tall Man. I’m betting because it isn’t about women being tortured (!), it’s sneaked under the radar of fans of French shocker Martyrs… Also there has been a recent Studio Ghibli season on television (Film Four) and a few titles I haven’t yet seen (Kiki’s Delivery Service, My Neighbour Totoro) have grabbed my attention.
What have I been up to? Well, work has been very hectic in the run-up to the bank holiday. I am so glad it is the weekend, where I have family visiting and (hopefully) chocolate to be consuming. Either way it will be one of the more lively weekends in recent times. In the coming weeks (months) some works nights-out should be fun and with several video games on my ‘must complete’ list like Halo 4 (loving it) and back-burner titles like Dead Space 3 and Hitman Absolution, I have more than enough to keep me occupied. Also on the horizon are several yet to purchase titles that have recently come out (the previously mentioned Tomb Raider, and of course Gears Of War Judgement, God of War Ascension and Bioshock Infinite) … only more free time and endless money stops me from grabbing these at the earliest convenience.
Hope you all have a lovely Easter!!
Viewed – 14 March 2013 Blu-ray
Actress Marion Cotillard (Inception, The Dark Knight Rises) is fast becoming my go-to actress for interesting characters and performances with real depth. Doesn’t hurt she’s also damn sexy. On hearing about this Bafta nominated drama, I leaped at the chance to see one of the more talented actresses at the top of her game.
Cotillard plays Stephanie, a marine biologist working at a sea life park who trains performing Orca whales. Following an altercation at a nightclub, she meets down-on-his luck bouncer Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts), a single father living with his sister, struggling to make ends-meet. Then disaster strikes as Stephanie is involved in a terrible accident, which puts their friendship and slow burning love affair to the test.
Beautifully Directed with realism and emotion by Jacques Audiard (A Prophet) this boasts a very believable and heart-wrenching turn from Cotillard and a raw, unpredictable turn by Schoenaerts that although being a film that isn’t about the big moments, but more two damaged people (Stephanie physically, Ali emotionally) … I was still swept up in the story. It’s a bit slow at times, but with remarkable effects-work (I won’t spoil for you in what way) and some genuinely powerful moments (Stephanie practicing her whale training moves) – it’s not hard to see why this has had so much said about it. For a French movie, smattering of sex and violence are almost a given, but the movie never goes too far, helping the performances shine as a result.
Verdict: 4 /5
- ‘Rust and Bone’ not quite deep enough (triblive.com)
- Marion Cotillard: Working with a grumpy killer whale was terrifying (metro.co.uk)
- Rust and Bone by Jacques Audiard (hkauteur.wordpress.com)
- Hidden Depths: Jacques Audiard’s Rust and Bone (notreallyworking.co.uk)
What an interesting result, eh? Some of my predictions from earlier were correct, but as expected many were way off. Oh well… Congratulations to the winners and maybe next year for the losers…… Winners are in RED, my predictions are in BLUE.
“Beasts of the Southern Wild”
“Silver Linings Playbook”
“Zero Dark Thirty”
“Lincoln“ Tutt tutt, thought this had it in the bag!
“Life of Pi”
Best Supporting Actor:
Christoph Waltz, “Django Unchained” YAY!!!!
Philip Seymour Hoffman, “The Master”
Robert De Niro, “Silver Linings Playbook”
Alan Arkin, “Argo” Damn…
Tommy Lee Jones, “Lincoln”
Best Supporting Actress:
Sally Field, “Lincoln”
Anne Hathaway, “Les Miserables”
Jacki Weaver, “Silver Linings Playbook” Damn, so close!
Helen Hunt, “The Sessions”
Amy Adams, “The Master”
David O. Russell, “Silver Linings Playbook”
Ang Lee, “Life of Pi” I got it!! Yay!!
Steven Spielberg, “Lincoln”
Michael Haneke, “Amour”
Benh Zeitlin, “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
Daniel Day Lewis, “Lincoln” Predicted!! Ok, that was an easy one!!
Denzel Washington, “Flight”
Hugh Jackman, “Les Miserables”
Bradley Cooper, “Silver Linings Playbook”
Joaquin Phoenix, “The Master”
Naomi Watts, “The Impossible”
Jessica Chastain, “Zero Dark Thirty”
Jennifer Lawrence, “Silver Linings Playbook”
Emmanuelle Riva, “Amour” Oh well….
Quvenzhané Wallis, “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
Was pleased to hear Quentin Tarantino won for Best Original Screenplay, but disappointed that yet again, a Pixar movie got the Best Animated Feature Film nod, for the otherwise forgettable Brave … must have been a weak year in that catagory.
Viewed – 02 February 2013. Blu-ray
I am not sure why I’ve taken so long to see this acclaimed entry in famed Japanese animation house Studio Ghibli’s cannon. Telling the story of a young woman who is cursed by a witch and turned into an elderly lady. As a war ravages the city where she lives, she takes refuge in wizard Howl’s legendary moving castle. Can she lift the curse, or are Howl’s own problems more pressing?
Directed by studio head Hayao Myazaki (Ponyo, Princess Mononoke) and boasting quite boundless imagination and visual beauty, this is one of those movies that you can easily lose yourself in. The story is utterly charming, told gracefully and packed with ideas. Voice acting from Christian Bale, Emily Mortimer and Billy Crystal (as a lovable fire demon) amongst others is also enjoyable and although at nearly two hours it can feel a bit hard going, this remained classic fantasy storytelling that kept me glued throughout.
I think compared to similar Ghibli movie Spirited Away; being based on the children’s novel by British writer Diana Wynne Jones helps it break free from the studio’s otherwise very Japanese style. Sometimes the bizarreness of Ghibli can leave me cold, but that wasn’t the case here. Although, what was that war about? Never the less, an enchanting, very well made and totally gorgeous evening’s entertainment.
The blu-ray from Optimum is very pleasing. The image is vibrant and sharp. Some slight juddering during fast movement seems evident occasionally but not very noticeable. The soundtrack in DTS HD Master Audio is immersive and full of little details, with the music and quality voice acting all impressing. Extras consist of several featurettes, including Myazaki’s visit to Pixar as well as behind the scenes voice over footage. Sadly many are in 1:33:1 format so we get ugly black boarders either side of the screen.
(the movie) 5 /5
(the Blu-ray) 4 /5
Viewed – 08 December 2012. Blu-ray
I am only marginally aware of the movies of Japanese director Shinya Tsukamoto. I recall viewing his rather crazy, but visually amazing Tetsuo: The Iron Man some years ago and thought he was Japan’s answer to Cronenberg, what with his body-horror imagery. This latest and for some long-awaited offering explores the slowly disintegrating sanity of one young woman, Kotoko whose severe paranoia and mental illness causes her to self harm and struggle not only to cope with everyday life, but also that of raising a child.
At the centre of this movie is a startling performance from actress Cocco (also co-writer), who appears to be a talented singer, expressed with how Kotoko finds peace by singing and dancing. This is powerful and at times very disturbing, with Tsukamoto’s direction convincingly exploring the mind of a woman gradually going insane … complete with hallucinations, chaotic camera work and incredible sound design. Scenes of self-mutilation as well as violence towards a man who becomes infatuated with Kotoko, are tough to watch so if squeamish, approach this one with caution.
It’s horror but not in the traditional sense, and all the more powerful for it, with echoes of Takeshi Miike’s Audition at times. Occasionally the intensity bordered on unbearable and it does go to very dark depths to get its point across – but this was still an impressive examination of a very difficult subject. One for those who like to moved, pushed and affected by their movies.
Verdict: 4 /5
- I Am Iron Man! Tetsuo And The Cinema Of Shinya Tsukamoto (thequietus.com)