A-Z challenge – update 2


Well I’ve reached letter L, so that means six more movies under my belt. As you’ll be aware for F I went with Alfred Hitchcock forgotten classic ‘Frenzy’, and then for G I gave the original Swedish version of ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’ another watch. Damn, that’s a great story with a stand out performance from Noomi Rapace, and yes I must watch that new Dragon Tattoo movie that came out recently with Claire Foy in the lead role. Next up was H where I went with a Harry Potter movie as previously reviewed, which was er… ok. Following this for I was the brilliantly mind boggling ‘Interstellar’ from Christopher Nolan, an intricate sci-fi movie that remains a real tear-jerker for me (that scene with Matthew McConaughey watching the video messages!). Then we came to J which was the blockbuster classic and still a favourite, ‘Jurassic Park’. That music! That T-Rex attack! Still so effective.

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang

I’ve just now for K finished watching ‘Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang’ a movie from writer/director Shane Black starring Robert Downey Jr that’s very much like Black’s other murder/mystery action comedy The Nice Guys, and whilst it’s not the easiest movie to follow plot-wise … the dialogue, likeable characters (including a super-sexy Michelle Monaghan) still made for a great time.

I have a working list I’m picking from and some titles on that list are getting swapped in and out, and yes that June 30 end date is nearing ever closer so I really need to get moving. I’ll of course, report back again soon.

Craig.

Dazed and Confused


Viewed – 25 January 2015  Blu-ray

Dazed BluThis for a long time has been my go-to movie to just chill out and relax with.  Something about this 70’s set high school comedy-drama just feels very comfortable.  I’ll put this on occasionally because hell, I enjoy being in the company of these characters probably more than any movie I can think of.

Set on the last day of school this follows the (mis)adventures of various school kids as they go to parties, hang out, drive around, cause a bit of mischief, contemplate their futures and learn a little bit about themselves along the way.  You could say the main character is a freshman called Mitch (Wiley Wiggens) who is one of several targets for drop out thug O’Bannion (a before he was famous Ben Affleck) who likes to spank these kids with a softball bat as some sort of ‘initiation’.  Mitch gets into various encounters and we follow his story but at the same time we have quarterback ‘Pink’ who’s trying to figure out if he’s going to stay on in the college football team, and along the way we meet several other fascinating and interesting personalities like super-sleazy but super-cool Matthew McConaughey and a stoner hippy chick Mila Jovavich.

Dazed

I think there is a character in this movie for anyone to relate to, someone was one of these characters when they were at school – were you the cool guy the girls all looked at, or the geeky kid that just wanted to fit in, or someone in-between?  That’s the magic of this and add Richard Linklater’s assured, very authentic and (clearly in love with the subject matter) direction, mixed with a soundtrack to die for (Ozzy, Deep Purple, Cooper…they’re all here) … and I think this is one of the best high school movies ever made – if not THE best high school movie ever made.

Dazed MitchThe Blu-ray that I imported from the U.S. may not be the bells-and-whistles Criterion release (I reviewed the Criterion DVD release HERE).  Yet this Universal edition boasts a picture full of fine detail even if the colours lack a little vibrancy (but seem to suit the 70’s look and feel).  However the big showpiece here is the soundtrack with clear dialogue, decent use of surrounds and most importantly the iconic music given major, thumping treatment to really show off your speakers (has Alice Cooper’s School’s Out ever sounded better?).  Extras are rather limp however with no commentary and little more than deleted scenes and a music feature that you can bring up with Universal’s U-Play mode.  Very disappointing for a movie that that for me, is a stone cold classic.

Verdict:

(the movie)  5 /5

(the Blu-ray)  3.5 /5

Insterstellar


Viewed – 08 August 2015  Blu-ray

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.

Insterstellar 1

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 enoughInsterstellar 2 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.

Verdict:  5 /5

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.

AMF_7277 (341 of 376).NEF

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

86th Academy Awards


So the Academy Awards has been and gone and did I take much interest?  Not really.  Awards ceremonies over the years have returned increasingly diminishing results,oscar I mean isn’t it all just about what movie has the best PR??  Many movies, many very good movies have often not even got a nomination, let alone had a chance at winning – and the ones that do?  Not always very deserving.  Looking at the results below, I would say it’s been a fairly predictable year.  12 Years A Slave getting best picture?  Considering the subject matter it was a simple choice, probably hitting home more than Captain Phillips.  Cate Blanchet was very good in Blue Jasmine, even if it seemed a very academy-friendly performance.  Leonardo DiCaprio, Martin Scorsese and The Wolf Of Wall Street never stood a chance – too much tits & coke.  Oh and who didn’t see the technical and directing nods going to Gravity?  That movie’s marketing campaign was all about the experience, the visuals etc.

Yet I mainly haven’t taken an interest in this year’s awards (or awards season) as simply put, I haven’t seen a great majority of the movies nominated, so difficult to really give an opinion.  I hope to see Dallas Buyers Club at some stage, because of being a growing fan of Matthew McConaughey and Gravity is on my list for the near future (look out for a review sometime this weekend).  So I will leave you with this year’s main winners, a few of the smaller categories omitted, because really, who concerns themselves with those?

Best Picture

12 Years a Slave

Best Actor in a Leading Role

Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)

Best Actress in a Leading Role

Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)

Best Animated Feature

Frozen (Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee, Peter Del Vecho)

Best Cinematography

Gravity (Emmanuel Lubezki)

Best Directing

Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón)

Best Foreign Language Film

The Great Beauty (Italy)