I tend to approach a movie directed by Christopher Nolan with a degree of expectation. Over the years he has earned his place as one of the most skilled directors around, with acclaimed works such as Inception, Interstellar and of course The Dark Knight trilogy. This latest has him attempt the spy / espionage sub-genre and you do get the impression he’d make a helluva Bond movie – but this gives the genre Nolan’s own unique spin. So how does it fair?
Before get to that let’s go into the plot. A CUA operative (John David Washington) gets embroiled in a complex plot to over throw a Russian arms dealer (Kenneth Branagh) who seems to have stumbled upon a top secret weapon that could mean the end of the world. This weapon has something to do with time inversion, where objects or people can be inverted so they work in reverse of perceived time, therefore manipulating the world as it see’s fit because it’s already happened. The movie has us grapple with this high-brow concept whilst delivering exhilarating, unique action set pieces (the freeway heist) I felt only a director of Christopher Nolan’s calibre could pull off. The plot is confusing at first as our protagonist tries to stop a mad man whilst grappling with the fabric of time itself. Yet it’s a time travel movie done in a way I don’t think we’ve seen before, … that’s head-scratching but also awe-inspiring, with all the necessary ‘aha’ moments when certain details fall into place. This is rather ingenious writing that I’ll admit to not really being clever enough to unravel on first viewing.
Beyond the complex ideas at play, there is also the matter of stunning IMAX photography, which is more plentiful here than in the director’s previous work aided by a reliance on large-scale stunt work, practical effects and grandeur. The movie globe trots from eye catching locale to eye catching locale and it all looks lush. Performances ranging from Washington’s cool as ice Protagonist to Brannagh’s scenery chewing villain are decent, even if plot exposition can get lost in line delivery that’s often mumbled (and occasionally drowned out by the movie’s score) The fact this movie is hard to follow is really it’s only failing. Otherwise it delivers action, scale and imagination that’s on a different level. Perhaps not Nolan’s best, but certainly up there with some of his other movies if given the attention it deserves.
Another entry in my growing collection of Brian De Palma movie reviews, this time the director’s much admired thriller from 1980. This is probably the movie that borrows most from Italian Giallo, a genre of stalk and slash thrillers made famous by directors like Mario Bava and of course, Dario Argento. It also borrows heavily from Hitchcock (especially Psycho), another of De Palma’s regular influences.
A house wife (Angie Dickinson) trapped in a sexually unfulfilling marriage, finds herself yearning for an affair and confesses as much to her psychiatrist (Michael Caine). However following a chance encounter at an art gallery that leads to a one night stand, the housewife is brutally murdered. A hooker (Nancy Allen) turns out to be the only witness.
A very of-it’s-time experience initially, with some explicit nudity and rather awkwardly handled sex making early scenes resemble a porn film. However once the killer strikes things shift into gear dramatically and De Palma’s cinematic flair spreads it’s wings. This is another movie that is visually captivating and often ingenious … a stand out art gallery sequence and a tense subway scene both showcasing a director at the top of his game. Add to this a murder-mystery plot that twists and turns wonderfully and even when you discover who the killer is, re-watching certain scenes reveal clever little details and clues. The acting is mostly adequate with even Michael Cain proving limited and at times a bit wooden … although Nancy Allen proves much more enjoyable. However like the Giallo the movie tips it’s hat to; acting and performances aren’t the big draw, more so tension and style and well, the occasional bloody murder. The movie lacks the body-count of a fully fledged Italian thriller, and retains it’s own quirks, with the inclusion of a geeky science student (Keith Gordon) and a stereotypical Police chief (Dennis Franz). As a package though this delivers a gripping narrative with some genuinely impressive sequences, worthy of it’s legacy.
The Blu-ray from Arrow Video boasts a rather soft-focus but otherwise clean image. Colours are rather muted and overall it’s simply acceptable with no real ‘wow’ factor. More note-worthy is the sound, with a dramatic, perfectly implemented orchestral score and crisp dialogue, both in stereo and a punchy 5.1 HD Master Audio. I should add that the movie is uncut for the first time in the UK. Extras are plentiful with several featurettes, including a detailed making of as well as a photo gallery. There’s also a detailed booklet included that covers the director’s influences and an analysis of the movie by critic Maitland McDonagh. Again no commentary from De Palma which would have been great but as it stands this is decent treatment for a somewhat forgotten classic.
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 spy spoof is nothing new, but placed in the hands of Matthew Vaughn who breathed a welcome injection of rebellious attitude to the costumed hero genre, with Kick-Ass and probably made one of the finest X-Men to date in First Class, I’d say we were in safe hands. A troubled teenager who just so happens to be related to a former Kingsman secret agent gets the chance of a lifetime to join the top-secret British agency just as a megalomaniac internet billionaire (Samuel L. Jackson) prepares to cause mass genocide. Cue plenty of gadgets, tailored suits and before you can say Mark Hamill cameo it’s all action, intrigue and tongue planted firmly in cheek.
Colin Firth, everyone’s favourite swarve English gent is perfectly cast as Galahad, the Kingsman’s top agent who single handily takes said troubled teenager Egsy (Taron Egerton) under his wing and helps him crawl out from under his Asbo lifestyle and housing estate surroundings to become someone capable of saving the world. Jackson plays a little against type as an (annoyingly) lisping villain but is clearly having a ball – even if his character is a tad too cartoony for my liking. The whole training stuff also gets rather predictable. Add to this a budget clearly spent on it’s decor, Michael Caine and designer-suits rather than decent effects (honestly, CGI blood, CGI explosions. Who ever said that crap looked any good?). But such shortcomings aside, director Vaughn pulls out all his nudge-nudge wink-wink tricks, bending and breaking genre conventions to throw in the odd surprise and a few slam-dunk gags (land of hope and glory?)..
It lacks the venom of Vaughn’s earlier Hit-Girl scene-stealing tour-de-force and clearly struggles with over ambition (the international locales can look noticeably fake, and action relies more on fancy camera trickery than genuine fight choreography). Enthusiasm counts for a lot though, and the cast, crew and excellent soundtrack (a fight played to the tune of “Give It Up” by K.C. & The Sunshine Band? Oh yes!) still make this worth a watch. Bond has nothing to worry about though.
Michael Caine is a British institution. Probably the most celebrated actor to come out of ol’ blighty, he has, over a long career been in some of the most iconic movies ever made and played some of the most memorable characters to ever grace the screen. Although these days I find it a shame he’s playing second fiddle to Christian Bale in the Batman franchise, at least it takes a British movie to put him back where he belongs.
Harry Brown is a retired ex-marine living out his remaining years on a crime infested housing estate overrun by thugs, with a high drugs & murder rate. Recently widowed, his only friend is an elderly man called Lennard, who himself is constantly in fear of his life from increasingly dangerous pranks. Before long though, Harry realises that the Police are not going to change things and he must take the law into his own hands, even if it gets him killed in the process. Caine is mesmerizing and believable as a man who has lost everything and faces up to the hoodie threat with vulnerability and convincing menace, obviously out of his depth and way past his prime, but with the willpower to take them on. Supporting him is a strong performance from Emily Mortimer as the Police Detective heading up the investigation who sympathises with Caine’s plight if not entirely condoning his actions. The cast members playing the hoodie thugs are less impressive, one-note scum bags with no real depth or personality, and I felt this was a missed opportunity to delve deeper into their lives and motives, and the remaining Police are portrayed as bumbling out-dated suits with little regard for public safety and more interest in ticking boxes and filing reports.
Daniel Barber’s movie has been compared to Clint Eastwood hit Gran Torino, but I feel this does both movies a disservice as they are about very different things, and although Harry Brown has a similar old man up against thugs premise, the violence and the rather sickening portrayal of sex and drugs, puts the movie in much darker territory than Eastwood’s on a whole heart-warming modern classic.
Overall though, this is a definite recommendation for both fans of Michael Cain and gritty Brit-thrillers.
Mensen maken de samenleving en nemen daarin een positie in. Deze website geeft toegang tot een diversiteit aan artikelen die gaan over 'samenleven', belicht vanuit verschillende perspectieven. De artikelen hebben gemeen dat er gezocht wordt naar wat 'mensen bindt, in plaats van wat hen scheidt'.