Jason Bourne


Viewed – 29 November 2016  Blu-ray

By this stage in the supposedly dead Bourne franchise, following the commercial and critical failure of ‘Legacy’ (which I actually liked) you wouldn’t think we’d see Matt Damon play the eponymous rogue agent again.  However most likely a big pay cheque and some fan anticipation lured him back and here we have Jason, formerly presumed dead after ‘Ultimatum’ getting back in touch with Julia Styles’ ex-CIA agent.  She’s uncovered info on Jason’s deceased father and that he may have been involved in the government programme that Jason was in before Jason lost his memory.  Wanting to uncover more and quickly learning that CIA chief Tommy Lee Jones may have the answers, soon Jason is back hiding from cameras and a particularly deadly assassin (Vincent Cassel).

Jason Bourne

I liked how this mixed the usual Bourne formula with some relevant and topical themes, such as a side plot involving a social media guru clearly modelled on Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook.  Damon as always is brilliant and nails Bourne’s character again; deadly but vulnerable and well, he kicks ass like nobody else (I’m looking at you Mr Bond).  Cassel was a nice surprise too, one of my favourite French actors and here he’s particularly ruthless.  Jones, whilst looking old still chews up the screen and is perfectly cast and although Julia Stiles is a bit under-used she helps bridge the gap between the third movie and this fifth entry.  For a Bourne movie it’s a tad formulaic, ticking all the boxes (ooh look a female agent takes pity on him…again) and well we get the expected car chase.  Helps though it’s probably the best chase in the franchise through the neon glitz of the Las Vegas strip.

For fans of the franchise, this is a strong, highly-entertaining entry full of tension and style, even if it does little to truly warrant it’s existence beyond ‘let’s do another one’.  Regardless I had a ball with this and you might too.  Recommended.

Verdict:  4 /5

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To disturb or intrigue?


henry-portrait-of-a-serial-killer

Over the years, running this blog and beforehand, I have stumbled across, sometimes sort out and watched some pretty messed up examples of modern cinema.  The world as we know it can be pretty freaky and strange, and the movie industry is a place where some directors like to explore the darker realms of story-telling.  Below are just a few of the most powerfully disturbing movies I have seen, some of which have had a lingering affect on me as a movie fan.  So take a trip with me into the heart of darkness and into some movies that are certainly not for everyone … simply put, approach these with a great amount of caution.

Audition

Takeshi Miik’s simple story (on the surface) of a world weary film maker in search of his ideal bride; jaded from the usual dating scene he chooses to hold a series of auditions for a role that does not exist.  Suffice to say the seemingly gentile woman he finds hides a much more sadistic side to her personality.

Most disturbing moment:  the man in the cloth sack.

The Untold Story

Based apparently on a true story of a restaurant owner who murders his family then serves them up as ingredients in his pork buns – is one of the most notorious Category III movies in Hong Kong.  Anthony Wong, no stranger to powerful roles plays the main character and is in some of the most graphically violent scenes I’ve ever seen.  Most shocking is the slightly comical tone, which makes events all the more difficult to tolerate.

Most disturbing moment:  a family gets massacred.

Irreversible

Clever in structure it may be, as it is told in reverse, starting with the end credits before proceeding to a nightclub murder and leading up to (or flashing back to…) a brutally drawn out rape scene.  Vincent Cassel and Monica Bellucci headline the cast in this stylish but utterly harrowing story of revenge.

Most disturbing moment:  death by fire extinguisher.

Scum

Alan Clark’s unflinching take on British boys borstal life made a name out of a teenage Ray Winston, but it’s no holds barred tone and graphic violence makes it notorious.  In some ways it can be seen as a cool hard-core brit flick, but has a horrible warning message for young offenders everywhere.

Most disturbing moment:  rape in a greenhouse.

Eden Lake

A British horror in an unconventional sense has a young couple visiting their favourite secret getaway by a secluded lake – until a group of delinquent youths choose to crash the party.  Harrowing because from a British point of view, these type of youths exist on housing estates, in run down districts etc … and it’s a scary thought that if coming into their territory you may just be fighting for survival.  Violent and shockingly believable.

Most disturbing moment:  setting the boy on fire.

Martyrs

I have spoken about this notorious French horror before, but it remains one of the most difficult to sit through movies of all time.  Two girls seeking revenge stumble upon a cult hell bent on discovering evidence of the after life, by pushing their victims to near death through prolonged torture and martyrdom.

Most disturbing moment:  discovering the tortured woman.

Sleeping Beauty

A woman (Emily Browning) struggling to pay her way through college takes a job as a hostess at an exclusive gentleman’s club.  However when she is there she is told she will be drugged and go to sleep in a bed, and when she wakes the morning after, she will be paid … but isn’t aloud to ask what happens in between.  Weird, freaky and utterly unpleasant.

Most disturbing moment:  the old man shouting obscenities to an unconscious, naked girl.

Sympathy for Mr Vengeance

The first part of Park Chan-wook’s acclaimed vengeance trilogy, this tells the story of a deaf and dumb guy trying to raise money for his sister’s kidney operation.  However his terrorist girlfriend talks him into kidnapping a wealthy business man’s daughter in order to get a ransom.  Things go from bad to worse and well, vengeance is seeked not just from the business man but also the deaf guy in a movie of powerful acting and even more powerful violence.

Most disturbing moment:  torture by electricity.

Funny Games

A family’s idyllic holiday is interrupted by two seemingly nice guys who stop by to borrow a cup of sugar – then  subject the family to a series of humiliating and cruel ‘games’ at gunpoint.  Director Michael Haneke’s powerful movie was remade under the same name in America and starred Naomi Watts.

Most disturbing moment:  breaking the fourth wall.

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer

Made a name for it’s star Michael Rooker and is a powerful interpretation of the real life crimes of killer Henry Lee Lucas.  Along with his friend Otis, Henry goes on a series of murders, until after a while their fun is interrupted by the arrival of Otis’ trailer-trash sister.  Suffice to say this serial killing duo don’t take too kind to company.  Brutal, very realistic and all the more disturbing for it.

Most disturbing moment:  home invasion on VHS.

So there you have it.  Movies that span the gamut of shocking, violent and powerful.  Some are classic examples of extreme cinema at it’s best (Martyrs, Sympathy…) and some are just plain horrible (Sleeping Beauty).  I would say if you are at all squeamish or some movies can play on your mind, then avoid the list above … but if like me you like to test yourself, see what is out there, then, still with a degree of caution … the movies above leave their mark regardless of your bravery.  You have been warned.

AUDITION FOR THE TICKET 24 JULY 2009 TOP FIVE HORROR FILMS

Black Swan


Viewed – 07 February 2011 Cinema

This has gained quite a lot of attention during the run up to the awards season, with star Natalie Portman tipped for a clean sweep.  She stars as virginal ballet dancer Nina, desperate to land the lead role in a grand staging of Swan Lake.  With aspirations to step into the recently vacated shoes of former star Beth (Winona Ryder) whilst all too aware of envious glances from young new comer Lilly (Mila Kunis).  Yet she has to impress director Thomas (Vincent Cassel), whose methods to bring out the perfect performance from Nina border on sexual harassment.

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Mesrine: Part 2


Public Enemy Number One

Viewed – 27 Jan 2010  Blu-ray

Set a few years after the climax of Killer Instinct, we meet Jacques Mesrine (Vincent Cassel) now more of a celebrity and outlaw than the gangster, understudy of the past.  Mesrine is now his own man, and is once again committing bank robberies, living life on the edge and getting his name in the press.  It’s not long though before he’s back in court, awaiting sentencing and charming the pants off the jury.  Yet his crimes are undeniable, and even though he escapes custody several times, he’s eventually banged up and looking at a twenty year stretch, where he pens an autobiography and befriends an inmate with plans of escaping once again.

Vincent Cassel’s portrayal this time around of this larger-than-life character is much more showy and charismatic, bringing to life a criminal you can’t help but admire, despite the ability to cold-bloodedly execute a reporter, turn against the women in his life or alienate himself from friends due to outlandish scheme after outlandish scheme.  You get the impression that Mesrine had ideas very much above his station, and as he began to believe his own hype, you realise his days are numbered. 

Jean-François Richet’s energetic and (surprisingly) even more entertaining follow-up to Killer Instinct is every bit as well executed as that movie, and is packed with powerful performances and edge-of-the-seat tension.  This time around the man behind the myth is more thoroughly explored, and scenes such as the prison visit from his daughter show the emotion and the good person behind the bravado.  It’s obvious Mesrine was not an evil man, and as an exploration of not just a criminal but as a person, this one can not be faulted.

Verdict:  5 /5

Mesrine: Part 1


Killer Instinct

Viewed – 23 Jan 2010  Blu-ray

Vincent Cassel could probably be called France’s answer to Robert DeNiro, with a lengthy career in some of the country’s biggest (and often) most controversial movies.  Many will probably however know him from David Cronenberg gangster flick Eastern Promises, as well as Oceans Twelve & Thirteen.  He’s definitely one of my favourite foreign actors.  This time, in arguably his most high profile role, he plays the part of real-life career criminal Jacques Mesrine, a former soldier in the Algerian army who on returning home finds it difficult adjusting to a normal life living with his parents and holding down a day job, and is soon lewered into a life of crime, under the guidance of local gang boss Gerard Depardieu.

This first movie in the epic life of one of France’s most notorious criminals, plays as a straight forward gangster story as our anti-hero goes from heist to heist, bedding women, fathering children and being flung in and out of prison – all the time living on his witts.  Despite several instances where he tries to ‘go straight’, it’s not long before he’s involved in another crooked deal, and for me came across as a very ballsy, reckless man with little respect for anyone but himself.  Yet with Cassell, he still makes what should be an unpleasant character, likable, as he oozes charisma and screen presence in the grand tradition of Al Pacino out of The Godfather, a movie this most closely resembles.

Directed with skill and no end of style by Jean-François Richet, this is both absorbing and entertaining, that although violent at times, never reaches Goodfella’s territory, and is mostly restrained, which I think goes in its favour – this is a character piece afterall.  At times I did lose track as the years fly by, and even what country Mesrine was in sometimes was left a little vague, yet this has plenty of raw intensity, quality acting (including a very good Gerard Depardieu), and some powerful moments … leaving me thirsty for part 2.

Verdict:  4 /5