A sound engineer named Jack, working for a small time movie company stumbles upon a conspiracy after witnessing what at first looks to be a freak car accident whilst out recording sounds. However after rescuing a woman he finds in the crashed car, he reviews his recording and realises someone must have shot the vehicle’s tire, and it wasn’t simply a ‘blow out’.
John Travolta stars as Jack, in this thriller directed by Brian De Palma (The Untouchables, Dressed To Kill). This was an absorbing story, with a very good Travolta, aided by De Palma regular Nancy Allen. What grabbed me instantly was De Palma’s direction – he uses split screen, imaginative camera work and clever editing to their fullest to deliver a very unique look and feel. Alongside movies like Carrie this is probably up their with the director’s best. The murder-mystery plot is also a fascinating one, but does get a bit silly at times, with a slightly uneven tone. An extended chase towards the end, whilst creative and visually impressive, also stretches plausibility.
However this was above all else really entertaining, aided by solid performances (including a memorable John Lithgow) and pacey, stylish direction that makes for a firm recommendation from me.
The Blu-ray from the U.K. division of The Criterion Collection has a newly restored image that has plenty of detail. It’s a bit overly dark in night scenes and there’s a lot of grain, but for a movie released in 1981 it’s in great shape. The soundtrack in DTS HD Master Audio is very clear with only occasional echoing in certain dialogue scenes. The soundtrack, one of the movies highlights is very effective throughout. Extras consist of several interviews, consisting of new and archive material. There’s also a behind the scenes photo gallery and a detailed booklet with an essay by critic Michael Sragow. I’d have loved a commentary but sadly there isn’t one. Other that that this is a great package and a must for fans.
I went into this with expectations dialled down mostly because I don’t consider the 1989 adaptation of Stephen King’s novel all that great. However, a remake is a chance to improve upon a concept so there’s every reason to hope this one fairs better. A doctor (Jason Clarke) and his family move to a rural town and soon befriend the kind old man across the road (John Lithgow) who eventually introduced them to the Pet Cemetery in the woods, located on the family’s land. However following an unfortunate incident involving the pet cat and a lorry, the old neighbour suggests burying the animal beyond the pet cemetery. So of course, the cat comes back and sets in motion a spiral of increasingly macabre events.
The movie quickly resorts to cliches like ‘we should never have moved here’ way before that sort of thinking seems reasonable. Also, John Lithgow surprisingly fails to have the screen presence of the originals Fred Gwyn with delivery for such iconic lines as ‘the soil of a man’s heart…’ and ‘sometimes dead is better’ coming off rather half-arsed. However Jason Clarke is decent aided by a memorable turn from Jeta Laurence as his daughter. Flashbacks to the wife’s memories of twisted-spine sister ‘Zelda’ is also cranked up in the freakiness and jump-scares department and really, turns out to be the movie’s most disturbing aspect. Also changes to the final act help explain-away some of the more ludicrous developments of the original, but also come off as even sillier somehow.
So this remake wasn’t terrible and at times genuinely scary, but like the original … I can’t help but feel that the concept is overall flawed.
Something is wrong with our planet, the fuel or food supplies are drying up and everyone is acting like the place is doomed. Farmer and former astronaut Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) lives a quiet existence on a farm with his son and daughter, until following stories of a ghost in his daughter’s bedroom, Cooper discovers a communication signal hidden in the dust and various books falling from the shelves. The strange anomaly leads them to follow co-ordinates one night that leads them to a secret underground NASA base. Headed by Michael Caine, that’s where Cooper is then given the opportunity to return to space on a mission that just may be the answer to mankind’s future.
Give it to director Christopher Nolan for tackling big ideas. No stranger to presenting bold concepts to the viewer, as we saw in the dreamscape epic Inception, and this sci-fi drama is no different. We get black holes, deep space, other dimensions and strange new worlds. Yes McConoughey is boldly going where no man has gone before, and I was fully along for the ride. He is supported well by Anne Hathaway as a scientist and fellow astronaut, and the ideas at play here were particularly fascinating, borrowing to a large extent from Stanley Kubrick’s seminal 2001: A Space Odyssey but throwing in enough personality and visionary-wonder to stand on it’s own. This is a stunning looking movie, Nolan using his various locations and his love of I-Max to wonderful effect, and various scenes just swept me up in their sheer majesty (the tidal wave…the ice planet etc.). This is helped no end of course by Hans Zimmer’s at times intense and sweeping score. Trust me watch this on a decent sized screen in surround sound and you’ll be blown away.
I can’t say I understood it all, and it get’s rather mind-boggling towards the end – in a good way. Yet with a strong, emotional performance from McConoughey and good turns from Caine and also Jessica Chastain who turns up half way through, I really got a kick out of this. It’s long at over two and a half hours, but it’s profound questions on humanity, love and life needed time to breathe, and so I can’t say I was bored one bit. One of my ‘movies of the year’ without doubt.
The 1968 Charlton Heston movie that spawned several sequels as well as a television series, is rightly regarded as a classic, and although a re-imagining by Tim Burton a few years ago attempted to breathe new life into an old idea, the franchise that had once been Box Office gold seemed dead and buried. Until now. With a take on the story from a fresh perspective, director Rupert Wyatt has done the unthinkable – made Planet Of The Apes relevent again.
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