Before I Go To Sleep


Viewed – 14 February 2015  Online-rental

This is rather unique for me, reviewing a movie where I am particularly familiar with the book it is based on.  S J Watson’s taught psychological thriller was a riveting read, and so naturally the prospect of a movie adaptation was quite exciting.  Then I learnt of the casting.  Not for a second did I picture either Colin Firth, Mark Strong or especially Nicole Kidman in the shoes of characters that were so interesting and well written in the novel.  Yet I approached this with an open mind.

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Kidman plays Christine Lucas, an amnesiac who every morning she wakes up has to re-learn her life and who her husband is and her she is, before it is wiped again when she goes to sleep.  She was in a terrible accident according to her husband Ben (Firth) and it’s not until she receives a morning phone call from a psychiatrist, Dr Nash (Strong) that she starts to piece together her life in the hope of discovering exactly what happened to her.

It’s a good premise, not that original granted but gripping.  Sad then that the performances here let the show down, despite the principle leads acting credentials.  Lines and scenes are delivered very wooden, especially by an overly sincere Mark Strong and even Kidman who should be able to tackle this material with ease, seems overly pathetic and weak.  The movie is also in a hell of a rush to get to it’s conclusion.  It covered the major plot points so quickly I found it a challenge to keep up.  It jumps from one situation to the next so fast knowing exactly what was happening or feeling much of anything was impossible.  The book had time to create mood, explore emotions more deeply and form relationships.  The friendship between Christine and her estranged friend Claire is portrayed very matter-of-fact where in the book it was a pivotal part of the story and the bond between the two characters was clear.  Also the slightly flirty, will-they-won’t-they relationship between Christine and Dr Nash is very poorly explored and doesn’t come across as convincing either – the scenes where he says they may have feeling for each other, or the hug in his car felt incredibly forced.

With more attention to the little things, perhaps better casting and well, better direction this could have been an excellent thriller – but sadly it’s anything but.  Stick with the book.

Verdict:  2 /5

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Alphabet Movie Meme


I saw this idea initially over at The Sporadic Chronicles Of A Beginner Blogger, although the idea originates from this blog:The Drama Llama and well I thought it was pretty cool.  Below you will see my choices and I heartily recommend you have a go yourselves!

Anticipating Movie Of 2014

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Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes

I was very impressed with how ROTPOTA turned out… really well done origin tale of the whole ‘apes mythology and made me anticipate what comes next immensely.  That anticipation has died down in the few years since, but now it’s finally due out this year … I can’t wait.

Book Adaption I’d Like To See

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Before I Go To Sleep

I didn’t realise it was coming out, and as I am not an avid reader, of the very few books I have read, last year I got around to Before I Go To Sleep … a wonderfully thrilling and gripping story about a woman with 24hr amnesia, and the mystery of those in her life, who can be trusted and who is telling the truth etc.  The movie has Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth in it, very much NOT how I saw it, but will be interesting to see how S J Watson’s text translates to the big screen.

Celebrity I’d Most Like To Meet

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Arnold Schwarzenegger. 

I tried and failed to read his autobiography last year (will I pick it up again?) but have always been an admirer, not just down to his movies, but also his political career.

 

Dream Director / Actor Pairing

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David Fincher & Ellen Page

One of the best directors around right now with one of the best young actresses right now.  ‘Nuff said.

Essential Classic Film

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Taxi Driver – one of the most thought-provoking and daring movies of the 70s with  a superb Robert DeNiro and a stunningly convincing Jodie Foster.  Love it.

Favourite Film Franchise

I actually don’t think I have a favourite right now…titles like Lord Of The Rings, Star Wars etc come to mind, but firstly is ‘Rings a franchise?  Oh and Star Wars has disappointed me too many times to be a favourite.

Genre I Watch The Most

Thriller – I was going to go for drama, but I think I find myself watching crime movies, action, something with a bit of danger, violence or mature themes in it a lot… gritty you might say, so yes thriller kind of covers all those.

Hidden Gem

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Hmm, by this I’m guessing something fairly obscure that not many have heard about?  I’ll go for Let The Right One In … yes marginally famous but believe me, most who don’t have an awareness of world cinema (and have only seen the dire remake) will not know about this one.  And they really should do … now!

Important Moment In My Film Life

First time I watched Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction.  I remember bringing it home from the rental store, on VHS and thinking I had something very special in my possession.  It remains my favourite movie of all time, endlessly watchable and has inspired my style of fiction writing and my love of great dialogue and the crime / gangster genre a whole.

Just Right Movie For A Rainy Day

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The Back To The Future Trilogy

I’ll go for these as they are easy watching, very easy to enjoy from the start, not overly deep, serious or complex and when not in the mood for anything else, superb fun. 

Kiddie Movie I Still Shamelessly Enjoy

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The Lion King

… a great story, beautiful hand-drawn animation and memorable songs!!

Location I’d Most Like To Visit

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The Shire … I mean, who wouldn’t?  Beautiful, and such lovely houses!

Marathon I First Attended

I haven’t ever done a movie marathon … to my recollection.  I don’t think I have the attention span.

Netflix Movie I Actually Watched

V/H/S – which I enjoyed a lot.  Strangely the last Netflix movie I saw too, if you don’t count documentaries.  I do intend to rectify this though as there are a few movies I plan on watching.

One Movie I Saw In Theatres More Than Once

I actually don’t think this has ever happened.

Preferred Place To Watch A New Movie

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Difficult one … I love the cinema, but technology being what it is now, I’d say the home get’s my vote.

 

 

Quote That Inspires Me

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This is your life, and it’s ending one minute at a time’ and pretty much most of Fight Club as well.

 

 

Remakes (Friend or Foe)

Neither

I don’t have a problem with remakes in theory, as long as they bring something new to an old idea, not just re-tread the same ground, often resulting in a poor imitation.  Which is often the case.

Snack I Enjoy Most

Anything chocolate based.

Twist That Boggled My Mind

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Hmm how to say this without a spoiler…so I wont… but pretty much the best goes to Twelve Monkeys.

Unapologetic Fanperson For

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Martin Scorsese … but who would apologise for that?  He’s amazing.

 

 

 

 

Very Excited For Award Show Season?

Mostly ‘meh’ … good movies rarely even get a nomination, let alone win, with some exceptions.  I’ll check out the winners and be happy if something I think is good walks away with something… but otherwise I’m not overly bothered.

Wish I’d Never Watched

Seed Of Chucky

How to kill a perfectly entertaining franchise … or at least I thought it had…until I heard of Curse Of Chucky.

XXX-Movie I Watched At A Really Young Age

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A Nightmare On Elm Street … scared the crap out of me, and I loved it!

Your Latest Movie Related Obsession

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Studio Ghibli

I love this style of animation, endless imagination, wonderful art and personality.  I haven’t yet seen a Ghibli movie I haven’t liked … and several I have loved.

ZZZ-catchers

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Anything with Harry Potter in the title … just does nothing for me and I am proud to say I have never watched even one of them.

Stoker


Viewed – 08 July 2013  Blu-ray

I was in two minds when sitting down to watch this.  Firstly feverishly excited as it marks the American / English-language debut of one of my favorite directors, namely Korean auteur Park Chan-wook.  He made for me one of the finest trilogy of movies I have experienced, the critically acclaimed cult thrillers known as The Vengeance Trilogy (Sympathy For Mr Vengeance, Oldboy and Lady Vengeance) and along with the unique vampire love story Thirst – he has impressed me time and again.  Now coming to that second thing, trepidation – I was nervous that something would be lost in translation in his swap to American mainstream cinema … would all the reasons I admire his talent, be cast aside in favor of the usual studio interference, with pretty much the only thing saying it was the same director, being his name on the credits?

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Well rest assured, this is every bit as imaginative, eye-meltingly beautiful and intelligent as I could have hoped – if not more so.  Alice In Wonderland’s Mia Wasikowska plays India Stoker, a loner school kid mourning the recent death of her father when her uncle, who the family have had nothing to do with for years, makes an appearance and moves into the family home.  Soon he’s warming up to India’s mother (a stepford wife like Nicole Kidman) and trying to befriend India – who has her own suspicions on this new found uncle’s agenda.

From the off the photography and just sheer imagination with camera work, editing and scenery are eye catching and clever as hell.  Think perhaps Tim Burton meets Roman Polanski via David Lynch, and you may get an idea.  The movie is moody but has a cheeky personality, aware of its own style without overwhelming, and delivering three very different, very memorable performances.  Matthew Goode (Watchmen) is eerily charming as India’s uncle, and Kidman retains her usual sexiness whilst also exposing a wicked step mother alter-ego, meaning she really should play more villainous roles.  The star here though remains Wasikowska, who was perfect as Alice but seems ideally cast here as the darkly disturbed India … a performance that echoed early Winona Ryder for me.

But I wasn’t here for the cast … I was here for Park Chan-wook and along with frequent collaborator, cinematographer Chung-hoon Chung, he’s created a work of art … the look is both creepy and beautiful at the same time, and even on the backbone of a typical psychological thriller plot (from Prison Break’s Wentworth Miller) this is much more than the some of its parts.

The kind of movie you really need to sit down and wallow in, and above all else … enjoy.

Verdict  5 /5

The Kubrick Project: Part Four


So now we come to what is probably the director’s most misunderstood work…

Eyes Wide Shut  (1999)

As a swan song for an acclaimed director, especially one of such grandeur as Kubrick, his final film was always going to be a bitter pill to swallow.  His final film?  Stanley Kubrick is dead?  This can’t be!  So Eyes Wide Shut in my opinion became a victim of its own hype as much as its legacy to the great director’s body of work.

Pairing (at the time) heavy weight real-life husband and wife Nicole Kidman & Tom Cruise as a high society couple on the brink of collapse, where Kidman’s bitter and unhappy stay-at-home wife spills out all her past longing and regrets during one drug-influenced argument, forces respected doctor Cruise to attempt to find himself in that same feeling of desire and temptation like his wife had confessed, therefore getting psychological revenge without actually being unfaithful.

This complex exploration of relationships, the values of marriage, monogamy and desire was wrongly hyped as some sort of dirty movie during its publicity, with a focus on the glossy Hollywood couple shedding all their inhibitions and going native for their adoring fans.  Of course as this is a Kubrick film, that is only a tiny part of the story, and really the nudity, eroticism and sexually-charged atmosphere are played down, with more of a focus on jealousy, mysterious secret societies (the hierogamy / Freemason inspired mansion orgy), and the dangers of straying from the path.

Stylistically and in the choice of music, this still feels very much like a Stanley Kubrick film, despite the 12 year gap between this and Full Metal Jacket.  I find it fascinating, dream-like and a bit surreal (some of the quieter moments feel like a David Lynch movie), and throughout its beautiful to look at with some of Kubrick’s best cinematography stealing the show.  I also understand why its come in for the amount of negativity that it has – it was marketed all wrong, its not really a film that falls into any particular genre – its not sexy, or thrilling, but more thought provoking and gently eerie – and really apart from Kidman’s cruel vocal confession, the acting is subdued and nobody really comes away particularly impressive – but then again, this was more about the mood and the look and the things we don’t see – the mystery of  it all, and in that respect it triumphs.  Give it a chance and it’s intricacies will be revealed.

 

The special edition houses a for the first time ever fully anamorphic, wide screen and digitally remastered version of the film (completely uncensored here in the UK) in 1.78:1 ratio.  The picture seems a bit soft and lacking in detail, but the grand cinematography still impresses.

We also get a second disk with several exhaustive documentaries not just on the movie (which sadly is only briefly explored) but also on the life and work of the director himself, with interviews from fellow directors as well as Cruise, Kidman and Sydney Pollock.  Overall a good package.

Click to enlarge images (contains nudity):

         

    

Stanley Kubrick Special Editons box set


I am happy to announce that Warner Brothers are set to release digitally remastered special editions of acclaimed director Stanley Kubrick’s finest films.  This box set will include the following, complete with extra features such as archive footage / interviews and also Stanley Kubrick documentary ‘Life in Pictures’.  Either way, for fans of true cinema…this is a must!

2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY

A CLOCKWORK ORANGE

THE SHINING

FULL METAL JACKET

EYES WIDE SHUT

The set is due for release on 3 March 2008

Each film is also to be made available individually, in deluxe packaging.  Also I will be offering complete reviews of each film, as well as the documentary.  These will include thumbnailed screenshots for each.  Be prepared.