Climax


Viewed – 31 July 2019. Online rental

French director Gaspar Noe made ‘Irreversible’, arguably the most disturbing and unpleasant movie I’ve ever seen. So sitting down to this generally well-received drama, I was understandably cautious. Yet I’m also someone who likes to challenge one’s boundaries and I do have a love for French cinema. So thought I’d give this a go.

What story there is focuses on a group of free-spirited dancers who all seem part of a group who hang out and dance in a club that blasts rave music where they can feel free to let themselves go. Only thing is as the night progresses people start feeling ill and begin acting crazy as if their drinks have been spiked. I’ll admit it was at this stage I began to get interested as up until then this fairly plodding, about nothing in particular movie was doing nothing for me.

Gaspar Noe, his direction like an observer of the mayhem that unfolds, however ruins a potentially provocative, unhinged idea by lingering way too long on various moments. His long-takes whilst initially impressive in style quickly out stayed their welcome – a longer than necessary series of talking heads as the opening, various moments of chatter and banter that go on far too long, all culminating in contorting and convulsing bodies on a dance floor that’s like something out of a nightmare – which goes on and on and on. I get it, its a decent into drug-fuelled hell, and is performed convincingly but even with this it doesn’t go far enough to achieve much of anything. Noe’s-weak attempts to comment on birth, sex or death. just come off pretentious also.

Incredibly arty, self-indulgent, good camera work, impressive dance moves, but ultimately … rather boring.

Verdict: 2 /5

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T2: Trainspotting


Viewed – 28 January 2017  Cinema

A sequel I was both looking forward to and slightly dreading.  The set-twenty-years-later follow up to one of the defining, cult British movies of the nineties that seemed to not really require a sequel, but here we are presented with one anyway.  I’ll admit to being intrigued by where the characters might be now, what their lives have involved over the years etc. and where things might go next for them, especially considering how the last movie ended – with Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor), having been involved in a drug deal, making off with £16,000 cash from under the nose of his so-called friends.

Trainspotting 2

It’s this betrayal that the movie for the most part hangs onto, and well, Renton’s homecoming to Edinburg is not exactly met with open arms.  Sick Boy (Johnny Lee Miller) & Spud (Ewan Bremner) find themselves not really having amounted to much, and blame much of that on Renton, be it his fault or not.  Also there’s the matter of the homicidal madman Francis Begbie (Robert Carlisle) to contend with, who quickly escapes from Prison and doesn’t take long to learn of Renton’s return.  Let it be said, this is a very different beast to the 1996 original.  That hedonistic and sleazy portrait of drug culture was filled with clever surrealism, bags of energy and iconic music in a way that made it the cool movie of the time.  This isn’t really attempting any of that despite a strong reliance on nostalgia for much of it’s flavour.  This is as much a snapshot of modern-day society as it is a celebration of another time.  Every character seems to be stuck in a rut, hopelessly looking back and reminiscing and er…holding grudges.  Carlisle steals the show for the most part, revelling in the Begbie persona that stood out so much in the first movie but hasn’t changed or developed one iota.  Sad he even get’s a chance to be more than a one note psycho towards the end, but the movie chooses not to go there.  With nobody having really changed, from Sick Boy’s blackmailing schemes and Spud (surprisingly the only character who goes on a ‘journey’) still being on drugs … I gradually began to wonder what the point of it all was.

There’s several exciting and funny moments with plenty of personality, a new, culturally relevant ‘choose life’ speech, and memorable music cues from The Prodigy, Wolf Alice and more … but with an overwhelming theme of middle aged men hating their lives and being trapped in the past, this ended up rather depressing.  Fans of the original should definitely check this out, and it was still fun to spend time with such colourful characters again.  Danny Boyle’s direction was also consistently eye-catching (if a tad trying too hard) … but despite such efforts, ultimately this fails to justify it’s existence.

Verdict:  3 /5

Scenes that make the movie


I’ve been thinking about this idea for a post.  Ten memorable scenes from some of my favourite movies of all time, or simply great moments that make a particular movie going experience stick in my head.  This may become a continuing series as I recall other great moments…but for now, here are ten stand out moments from great movies:  Minor spoilers.

Akira

Teddy bears & hallucinations.

Akira Gif

As a telepathic Kaneda post-brush with an infected child of the Akira experiment, recovers in hospital, he begins to experience terrifying hallucinations where teddy bears and toys comes to life as his powers start to manifest in horrifying ways.  One of the defining moments of this complex and ground-breaking Anime.

An America Werewolf In London

Stick to the road

AAWIL Moores

Two back packers after stumbling into local watering hole The Slaughtered Lamb are ushered back out into the night, with simply the warning of ‘stay on the road, keep clear of the moores’ – which they subsequently ignore and are soon stalked by a blood thirsty werewolf in John Landis’ still superb 1984 horror classic.

Blue Velvet

In Dreams

Blue Dean

Amateur detective Kyle MacLachlan gets a little too close to nut-job mobster Dennis Hopper who takes him for a visit to his cross-dressing neighbourhood friend Dean Stockwell, who lip-syncs to Roy Orbinson’s timeless classic in possibly one of David Lynch’s most freaky and brilliant scenes.

Boogie Nights

Disco montage

Boogie Nights

As former nobody Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg) rises to infamy in the seventies porn movie industry, we are treated to this fabulous disco montage, cut seamlessly with various shots of Dirk ‘in action’ or receiving awards and culminating in a wonderfully choreographed dance number with fellow stars Reed Rothchild (John C Reilly) and Roller-girl (Heather Graham).

Eyes Wide Shut

The secret sex party

eyes wide shut

Only in a Stanley Kubrick movie can a high society sex orgy come across as creepy and surreal.  The master film maker in probably his most misunderstood work, presents the viewer with a secret society that Tom Cruise manages to sneak inside of and witness the debauchery of most-likely high profile dignitaries with various high class call girls.  All to a haunting, incredibly eerie score.

Goodfellas

Paranoia, drugs and guns

goodfellas paranoid

In the final act of the movie an increasingly paranoid Ray Liotta, struggles to juggle family responsibilities with fencing guns for Robert DeNiro and avoiding what he thinks is an FBI helicopter during the day from hell.  Expertly edited for maximum tension and intensity by the grand master Martin Scorsese.

Monsters Inc.

A chase through the doors

monsters-inc

After discovering the main villain’s evil scheme, Billy Crystal’s motor-mouthed Mike and John Goodman’s lovable Sully are chased by Steve Buscemi’s dastardly Randall into the inner workings of the Monsters Inc. facility and through a plethora of doors into the human world.  Exciting, inventive and visually stunning.

Pulp Fiction

Jack Rabbit Slims

pulp gif

In a mob movie with pop-culture quoting wise guys and a soundtrack to die for, who’d have thought one of the best scenes would be a night out between John Travolta’s mob hitman and gangsters-mol Uma Thurman?  Culminating in the world famous Twist Contest.  Sharp dialogue, a highly memorable setting, and an after-math that segway’s into probably the other best scene in this movie.

Saving Private Ryan

Omaha Beach Landing

After visiting the final resting place of hundreds of soldiers, an elderly veteran recalls his experience with tears in his eyes – switch to the shocking beach onslaught in Omaha in 1944 as thousands of troops fight against impossible odds.  A stunning opening to one of the greatest WWII movies ever made, with star (Tom Hanks) and director (Steven Spielberg) on blistering form.

Trainspotting

Clubbing to Blondie.

transpotting

Taking a break from ripping people off and doing drugs, Ewan McGregor’s Renton finds himself on a night out with friends, hitting the clubs and listening to Heaven 17 and Blondie (or Sleeper doing a marvellous version of Atomic), where he meets Diane (Kelly MacDonald) and leads to a montage of sex, alcohol and pulse-pounding music in Danny Boyle’s break-out gem.

Do you agree with my list?  Have favourite scenes of your own?  Leave your comments below or link to your own lists…

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

Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas


Viewed – 01 May 2014  Netflix 

There was something about this movie upon it’s release and over the years that has always made me stay away from it.  The bizarre appearance of Hollywood actor Johnny Depp as famed drug addict / journalist Hunter S. Thompson, the always cautionary ‘unfilmable novel’ cliché and then the combination of drugs and Terry Gilliam – one of the more out-there, albeit skilled surrealist directors around.  It seemed a bad combination.  Yet now with this challenge and as a long time admirer of the former Monty Python member, who still for me made the best time travel movie ever conceived (Twelve Monkeys) – this finally had to be worth a look, right?

fearandloathing

Depp as mentioned plays Thompson, going under various names in a three day drug fuelled road trip to and through and back again from Las Vegas along with his attorney (Benicio Del Toro) to report on a motor cross race in the desert in 1971.  With a back drop of the Vietnam war, president Nixon and the hippy counter culture … this had plenty going on, but finding much entertainment in it was a struggle.  This was Gilliam on acid, and for a director who already is Tim Burton on acid – that’s saying something!  Hallucinations, a wealth of oddball characters, drugs, gambling, more drugs and basically two hours watching two utterly risible people not quite kill themselves (or anyone else they come across).  Depp’s performance is like a Tex Avery cartoon, over the top jittery, with a one tone drawl (not helped by the cigarette filter permanently hanging out of his mouth) and is loosely aided by an animalistic, borderline psychotic Del Toro.  Cameos by the likes of Cameron Diaz, Christina Ricci and a nearly unrecognisable Toby Maguire prove fun … and a soundtrack covering (amongst others) classic hits from The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan turn out to be the biggest plus of this total head-f**k of an experience.  By the end credits I actually felt like I’d been on some sort of trip … and not a particularly good one.

Gilliam’s direction is technically impressive and truly creates the feeling of a doped out, paranoid and trippy journey complete with unconventional camera angles and bizarre effects work (hotel guests turn into reptiles and eat each other, or have an orgy – I couldn’t be sure) … so hat’s off to him for that, but I watch movies either to be entertained or to learn something … and I didn’t get much of either out of this.

Verdict:  2 /5