Viewed – 14 August 2012 Blu-ray
As a fan of David Cronenberg for many years, I will normally seek out anything he does. Although he has stepped away from his horror background of late with thrillers A History Of Violence and Eastern Promises, he has maintained throughout an expert eye for emotional character pieces, none more so than this absorbing drama.
Michael Fassbender is Carl Jung, a Psychologist working in Switzerland who comes across a young woman suffering from hysteria (Kiera Knightley) and turns to famed professor Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen) to help in her treatment, leading to the beginnings of psycho-analysis. Although the subject fascinated me, I was surprised to be drawn in so deeply by this well acted and interesting movie, which has three strong performances from its leads, especially Fassbender in a very complex role as a man torn between his professional ethics and his sexual desires. Mortenson is also very good as Freud, although for such a famous name, is a little side-lined. Knightley, although effective as the troubled Sabina Spielrein is somewhat over the top, with her constant gurning and facial tics bordering on comical. Doesn’t help that her accent is also pretty ropey.
For a David Cronenberg movie this may be lightweight (the s&m aspects of Spielrein’s condition are only lightly explored), but his often used themes of human psychology and sexuality are a perfect fit, and along with some simply beautiful locations (the architecture and settings of Vienna and Zurich enrich proceedings) and compelling performances, I found this very enjoyable.
Verdict: 4 /5
Viewed – 05 June 2012 Cinema
When news hit that acclaimed director Ridley Scott (Gladiator) was revisiting the franchise that made his name, Alien, with a movie set before that legendary sci-fi horror – understandably the movie-viewing public sat up and took notice. I had been awaiting it from the early word a year or more back, and with some interesting casting choices, anticipation built gradually, until when finally sitting down to watch it, I had to stop myself from cheering at the screen – especially when the title appeared in full Alien-franchise style, letter by letter. Nice.
Two archeologists discover evidence of a race of beings from another world having made contact with ancient civilizations on earth, and so become involved in an expedition aboard the space ship Prometheus to land on an unexplored planet that may hold the secret to the birth of mankind. Noomi Rapace (The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo, Sherlock Holmes 2) heads up a recognisable cast featuring Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender and Idris Elba. The first thing I have to say about this, is it took a long time to kick into gear, and the first half of the movie was very talky, cave wondering and to be honest, a little boring … thankfully by the second half the proverbial shit hits the fan and it became more of a thrill ride. Rapace holds her own next to bigger name stars, and proves a leading lady to watch. Theron on the other hand seemed wasted as a stiff collared commanding officer considering her physical beauty (showcased in a gratuitous exercising moment), whilst Fassbender came off perfectly creepy as Android ‘David’.
When the movie focused on Rapace however, it found its voice and any scene with her livened up proceedings no end. If it wasn’t for the trudging first half this would have been better, and the story certainly offers a new perspective on the Alien mythology, even if it left me with more questions than answers. The movie also had a tendency to overlook some glaring scientific implausibilities (scientists landing on a planet without sending probes first? Then taking their helmets off?). So to conclude … an entertaining but flawed return to a franchise that for a long time has struggled to get back on track. Perhaps Ridley left it too late?
Verdict: 3 /5
Viewed – 08 June 2011 Cinema
I didn’t get around to seeing the most recent X-Men movie, Last Stand, mostly due to poor reviews and a change of director from Brian Singer to Brett Ratner. Yet the other night, I did manage to catch about half an hour of it on TV, and thought it looked pretty decent. This was enough to re-educate me on all things mutant for this latest instalment. Following the story of how Professor X and Magneto first came to know each other, Patrick Stewart is replaced by James McAvoy, and Michael Fassbender steps into the shoes of Ian McKellen. Joining them is also a wealth of new mutants, and some familiar faces, including a young Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence instead of Rebecca Romijn). Kick-Ass director Matthew Vaughan also offers his considerable directing-chops this time around.
Viewed – 16 March 2009 DVD
So this one starts out like any other run of the mill horror, where a young couple go for an idyllic weekend in a remote beauty spot, and are soon set upon by undesirables. Now before you switch off and start reading some other website, this isn’t quite as formulaic as you might think, as this Brit set horror has the frightening prospect of teenage kids as the enemy, trashy, tough talking scum bags who at first appear as idiotic, immature kids, then something all the more terrifying when events spiral out of control.
The stand out performance here is the gutsy heroine Jenny (Kelly Reilly) who despite being a primary school teacher, soon turns into a violent vigilante as the film nears its end, and I was completely gripped. The young cast of hoodies are first rate and believable (I even think I’ve come across their kind at various points in my life), and especially if you are a working class Brit, they will be all the more disturbing. This is savage and unrelenting stuff, with some absolutely shocking violence and intense atmosphere, that will drain you right up to its shocking conclusion.
Horror movies are much nastier these days, that’s a certainty, and sometimes I wished they would just ‘let up’ on it for a moment … but no, there is no escape, and you will either love it or switch it off half-way through. It really is that kind of movie.
Verdict: 3 /5