The Walk


Viewed – 20 February 2015  Online-rental

I wasn’t expecting to like this and had heard little fan fair other than it being the adaptation of the amazing story of French dare devil Philippe Pettit’s courageous tight rope walk between the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in 1974.  The remarkable achievement was the subject of a critically acclaimed documentary a few years back, Man on a Wire which I had wanted to see but never got around to.  So this movie is my first real exposure to what I consider one the most amazing things a human being might do in his life time.

The Walk

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, sporting a jarring but actually not bad French accent plays Philippe and he narrates the movie not just in voice over but back and forth presenting it from the statue of liberty with the view of the World Trade Centre in the back ground.  It’s a quirky but welcome approach to story telling and I found it gave the movie a light hearted, spirited nature in the way director Robert Zemeckis is famed for.  We get to see Philippe’s humble beginnings as a street performer, being mentored later on by Ben Kingsley’s circus veteran, and falling in love with local French girl Annie, a busking musician.  Along the way to realising his dream to tight rope walk between the iconic towers, Philippe gathers various colourful characters to be his ‘accomplices’ and I was very much along for the ride also.  What a fascinating and at times quite exciting story.  Zemeckis’s eye catching direction has a decent pace and plenty of intrigue, what with the shadow of the towers looming both figuratively and literally, and building up to ‘the walk’ is pretty nerve-racking.  Levitt is good if slightly caricature-like as Philippe but delivers a performance that is equal parts likeable and nuts.  The eventual walk itself is also incredibly vertigo inducing and brilliantly realised.  Although some of the obvious 3D shots distract at times.

Ben Kingsley for such a screen legend is under-used however and the initially interesting relationship between Philippe and Annie seems to run out of steam for no particular reason towards the end.  Also the movie curiously ignores some of Philippe’s other stunts such as a tight rope walk between the towers of Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1971.  I’d have also liked some sort of nod to the tragedy that occurred on 9/11 but the movie chooses to avoid it entirely.  Yet with the backdrop of an incredible true story and the wonderful visual spectacle on show topped off with solid performances … I still had a great time with this.

Verdict:  4 /5

Sin City 2: A Dame To Kill For


Viewed – 01 July 2015  Netflix

Brace yourselves, this might get kind of rant-like.  I was a fan of the original Robert Rodriguez / Frank Miller directed Sin City, a comic book adaptation that broke the mould and helped pioneer a new way of making movies.  Yet converting a gritty, noir-ish graphic novel to the screen was never going to be easy, especially due to Frank Miller’s distinctive monochrome art-style, and although the overly bleak tone prevented the movie for me being a stone cold classic, the end result was still an incredible achievement.

sincity2

This long awaited sequel however struggles almost from the start to reclaim that movie’s refreshing style or energy despite bolting together a series of plodding stories with characters that, apart from a few returning faces, fail to linger in the memory.  I was shocked to find Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Eva Green and Josh Brolin being cast, faces that I had immediately imagined as perfect for this dark, violent world; delivering performances that felt either clichéd or half-assed.  I mean Green has to get naked for the majority of her storyline to make much of an impact, and her femme-fatale character just seemed tiresome.  The same could also be said for Brolin, who looks the part and indeed plays the part, but is pretty much what Mickey Rourke’s character was all about in S C #1, and when you consider we still have Mickey Rourke’s Marv here (how…I mean, really – how?) his whole existence seems pointless.  Don’t get me started on the re-casting of Miho.

So the movie finally puts all it’s money on the slow burning revenge plot of young stripper Nancy (a still hot, feisty Jessica Alba) whose plot at least has some real drive, but by then it’s a strong case of too little, too late.

Rodriguez who has been off his game for a while now, does fill the movie with plenty of (white) blood, gore and some cool, if short lived action and the whole comic-book visual style still works a treat.  With better writing and more fire in it’s belly, this could have equalled … no, surpassed what came before.  But as it stands A Dame To Kill For was just poorly thought out and mostly forgettable.  A genuine shame.

Verdict:  2 /5

Sin City 2 trailer


Although I regard the original Sin City with mixed feelings (admiring the style and action, not so much the overly bleak tone…), this trailer for the long awaited follow-up is looking rather cool…  Surprised was I to see Bruce Willis and Mickey Rourke making an appearance, but more Jessica Alba is always a good thing.  New casting choices of Eva Green and Joseph Gordon-Levitt also make this a must see.

Looper


Viewed – 16 October 2012  Cinema

The trailer sold me on this.  The ticking pocket watch, a great concept and frenetic action.  This follows the story of ‘Looper’  Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) a sort of hired assassin who kills mob targets who are sent back in time so there is no trace of them in the future.  Joe makes a living this way, quick executions, clean disposal and lots of silver bars to add to his savings.  Only one problem – one day a target is sent back, and it’s him – 30 years older.  Can he kill his future self (Bruce Willis), or choose not to and face the wrath of those he works for?

This is an intelligent and superbly played sci-fi thriller.  Gordon-Levitt may have a slightly odd Willis impersonation going on, but as a particularly gifted actor, still manges to pull it off, handling action, emotion and some brain-melting plot developments with ease.  Veteran Bruce Willis is also good; determined and somewhat ruthless in his quest … of which I wont spoil for you here, but just to say – he came back for a very good reason.  Additional support is also decent, with a sexy but wasted Piper Parabo as a hooker and Brit actress Emily Blunt almost steeling the show in the later stages.

Director Rian Johnson has delivered a damn clever and resoundingly fresh take on the age-old time travel subject, injecting shades of Mad Max, The Terminator and to some extent Cronenberg’s Scanners, whilst still retaining his own identity and flavour.  The action throughout is shot with attitude and style, and I even found some elements disturbing (telekenesis … shudder), making events really get under my skin – not expected.

One of the finest movies of the year.

Verdict:  5 /5

500 Days Of Summer


Viewed – 19 January 2012  Blu-ray

Romantic movies sometimes have a funny effect on me.  Perhaps it’s because Hollywood’s idea of love is often fairy tale and perfect, when in real life, it can be anything but.  Do we really need another movie about some loved up couple and their perfect life together?  Then I began to realise this movie was different.  It’s not your conventional boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, things are fine for a bit, then things go wrong … before finally, it all gets going again, and happily ever after … yada yada yada.  No this quirky, cleverly written romantic drama takes a keen look at a modern relationship and paints what you might call a unconventional but wholly believable interpretation of love … and all the confusion that can come with it.

Inception’s Joseph GordonLevitt is very good as the love struck office worker who falls for a girl who doesn’t have his rose-tinted idea of love, played perfectly by the very likable Zooey Deschanel (Yes Man, Elf).  Their story takes place over 500 days, and the movie jumps back and forth and in between to give the viewer an entertaining and often very clever story full of good dialogue, a convincing romance, and plenty of keenly observed ups and downs.  Director Marc Webb has delivered a sharp and often surprising drama (the post-coital dance number a particular highlight), that although lacking the comical spark of the similar High Fidelity … still managed to leave this viewer with a knowing smile on his face.

Verdict:  4 /5