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Hazel

What films have you seen recently?

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I think the film hinges on Rule 32 - Enjoy the small things. No big survival story in a post-Zombie world, just remembering to enjoy the small things that make us human.

Sure, I found that a positive element to the film as well. It was simply that

 

In spite of their intelligence and care, they choose to fire up the glaring lights and blaring sounds of a funfair, which of course then attract every zombie within a mile.

 

Actually, that's reminded me of something else that grated somewhat. How is all that electricity being produced...?

 

Sounds like I ought to be contributing to your excellent new cinematic gripes thread!

 

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A few to catch up on -

 

Exam ** - A British 'psychological thriller'. 8 candidates are invited for an interview for a high-powered, high-paying job. They are ushered into a closed room, paper on the desks, pencil on the desk and Colin Salmon doing his best to be scary and intimidating. They must not wreck their exam papers or they'll be disqualified. They must not leave the room or they'll be disqualified. They must not speak to him, the invigilator, or the armed guard at the door or they will be disqualified. There is one question and one answer. Any questions? Ok, they have 80 minutes.

 

They sit and turn over their papers. Which are blank. One aspiring career girl starts to write her manifesto "I believe I am the best person..." and gets promptly escorted from the room by the guard.

 

And so leads a rather quick and rather predictable fight to be the one that gets the obscure job. And the weirdo in the corner...well...predictable as I said. And Jimi Mistry doesn't convince at all as a hardened gambler.

 

Predators ** - The third instalment. I never did see the second one, won't either, mainly because I bloody love the original and you just can't top that for laughable machismo. This time it's a game. Several disparate people are plucked from their real lives, as soldiers, criminals, triads, gangsters, and a doctor, to be parachuted onto an other-worldy planet where the predators roam, hunting these people down all in the name of sport. I can think of a collection of red-blazered posh gits that could benefit of a similar scenario.

 

Adrien Brody leads the pack of humans, never quite believable as a Special Forces soldier. I quite enjoyed The Shield and Justified's Walton Goggins though as the criminal. It's nonsense start to finish.

 

The Road *** - Crikey, I knew this was going to be bleak and maybe I made the mistake of making this our Saturday night family popcorn flick but holy hellfire, I felt like my very soul had been ripped from my belly. Most of us have read the book - father and son in post-apocalyptic journey with a few lows and a couple of highs on the way. Bleak, bleak, bleak but Viggo Mortensen as the dad was pretty spectacular. And bleak.

 

Furry Vengeance * - My neighbour recommended this. And when I didn't watch it, she sent it round with her kids when I was looking after them for her and we had to watch it. Brendan Fraser (Do you remember Airheads Brendon? Do you? How we laughed. Laughed. Really, we did. (sob)) works for a faux 'green' housebuilder and he moves his family to a forest area to clear it and build houses. The animals that live in said forest take umbrage at this and fight back with hee-lair-i-ous consequences. Brendan Fraser has grown in recent years, and not as an actor. Velveteen tracksuit, that's all I am saying.

 

Dorian Gray ** - You may have noticed that I am reading the book just now, so I thought it would be a terrible idea to watch the recent film of it. I was right. Heavy on the hash and sex, very light on the psychology. And a bloated Colin Firth harrumphing his way around the seedy streets of London.

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good points about Dorian Gray.

 

i really felt the violence and the drugs in it was too much. I gave it a generous 3.

 

in the past week, i've seen Whip it (not bad. but without ellen page, this would have been nothing), Juno (well 3rd time to see it so. good move)

 

and then yesterday in the cinema, i saw two films. one in the morning and one in the afternoon

 

in the morning i saw the town. this was ok.

 

in the afternoon, i saw winter's bone which is about a 17 year old girl who when told by the sheriff (played by garrett dillahunt who had previously played the deputy in no country for old men) that her father was out of prison on bond (he is a crystal meth manufacturer) and as part of his bond, put the family home up as bond) so if the father doesn't show up in court, the family lose the home. so the girl who is the person who looks after her brother and sister (12 & 6) (her mother is unwell) sets out to look for her father to save the family home. Jennifer Lawrence gave a brilliant portrayal of the 17 year old girl. based on a book by daniel woodrell (i've not read it) but now i intend to

set in the ozark mountains. this is really good film and

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And what? And what? :D

 

i would highly reccomend it

 

so, i was building suspense ;)

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Nightmare on Elm Street - My hubby accuses me of having a rose-tinted view of the horror films that I watched every weekend as a teen. Halloween, Friday the 13th, The Evil Dead...he thinks that they are and were absolute crap and that I just view them through a nostalgic haze. So when I heard that they were remaking my second favourite of the slasher movies with my second favourite slasher, (Halloween - Michael Myers - (sigh)), I was both terribly excited and terribly worried. Hubby said "it's got to be better than the original". He was wrong and he'll even admit that.

 

The remake of Nightmare on Elm Street is a messy, frantic, and hurried waste of space. Build suspense? Forget about it. Let's start right in the middle of a horrifying nightmare and keep the pace from there. A growing awareness of the horror? Nah, let's just make all the friends immediately knackered and solid on their belief of the shared nightmare. A tightly paced plot? Nah, let's just fire along at breakneck speed without time allowed for reaction, throwing in the iconic scenes from the original movie as fast as we can get them in. A checklist for making sure they are included? Great idea!

 

Now, I loved Jackie Earl Haley's Rorschach in Watchmen. I loved Robert Englund's Freddy Kreuger: sadistic, mean, scarred, sinewy, perverse, sexy (I know - don't say anything) and most of absolutely enjoying every minute of his time. Haley's Kreuger looks like a fish. An alien fish. He growls out terrible dialogue almost with a sigh of boredom.

 

The makers attempt to flesh out the character by explaining more of Freddy's background and why he did what he did to the residents of Elm Street. This doesn't matter and was quite unpleasant really. Englund's Freddy was a great slasher because he was a bit of a boogeyman. A lot of a boogeyman. Filled with revenge for a vague reason - he was 100 times scarier.

 

And the worst thing of this monstrosity. The real horror? The lasting, horrific implication of this terrible film. Rooney Mara. She plays Nancy. She is bloody awful: wooden, unemotional, uninvolved, a blooming awful performance. And why is this so terrible? Because she is lined up to play Lisbeth Salander in the Hollywood versions of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo films. Jeez.

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I saw Tomorrow, When the War Began a few weeks back. It's quite good considering it's based on a book (the first on the Tomorrow series by John Marsden). Movies based on books are rarely as good as the books, but I was surprised at how well this movie was done. Yes, there are bits missing, and some changes were made, but nothing major. I'm not sure if it's been released anywhere but Australia yet, but I would definitely recommend it, along with the books.

 

I also recently watched a Taiwanese film called Secret, directed by the musician, Jay Chou. I often don't enjoy romance movies, but I really enjoyed the music in this film, and being a piano player, I immediately wanted to learn the time travel theme.

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I took myself to see Donkeys yesterday, which is the second of the Advance Party 'trilogy' of films, following four years on from Andrea Arnold's Red Road. The Advance Party idea is one by Lars von Trier that envisions the making of three films, all set in Scotland, each made by a different first-time director, and using the same characters, as specified by Danish director, Lone Scherfig. Red Road was a home run, as far as I was concerned, and so the eventual arrival of Donkeys was to be seen, in my eyes, as an event...of sorts.

 

The idea of the Advance Party may as well be scrapped now as the characters have been rearranged, their backstories rewritten, and their circumstances altered. Jackie (Kate Dickie), the CCTV operator in Red Road now works on the checkouts at Somerfield, the daughter lost to her in the car crash instead twelve years old and living with her (the husband remains dead) in this film; and there's the new story of Martin Compston's Stevie; plus the near writing out of Tony Curran's Clyde, giving him less screentime than Hitchcock ever indulged himself.

 

But the film's not so much about our pre-defined characters, instead being about Jackie's father, Albert (James Cosmo) - one of life's losers, if by his own hand - who leaves everything in a mess. Planning to leave for Spain with his friend (Brian Pettifer) he decides, after a health scare, to make amends with the unforgiving daughter who blames him for the death of her husband. The results are a bittersweet mix of poignant exchanges and comedy that work well, but overall, being part of the Advance Party, the film stands in the shadow of the mightier Red Road. It's perhaps not the fault of director, Morag MacKinnon, but that it doesn't carry the full emotional impact the previous film did.

 

It's a tightly packed story, with occasional coincidences that strethch its narrative, and the short running time makes one wonder what hit the cutting room floor and why. As an entertainment it works, but it as part of a trilogy it suffers from the status of its predecessor, which is the cross that this will have to bear, which, with donkeys being beasts of burden, makes its title rather apt.

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Daybreakers -Watched this one with my boys as they like vampire flicks as much as I do. This one at least has the benefit of being a little different and the vampires are not sexy in any way whatsoever. Set on 2019, the thing that most vampires in film aspire to has happened. Call it the aftermath of Richard Matheson's I Am Legend. The vampires have taken over the world and are living 'normal' lives, albeit it at night. The world has evolved to serve the vampire population. Business, schools...the world is busy at night and asleep during the day.

 

But humans are in the minority. Like a handful of them. Relatively speaking. And the vampire army/government hunts them down to put them into farms to provide blood for the vampire population. But the supply is in fast decline. Only 20% blood content is offered at the beginning of the film cutting down to 5% later.

 

Ethan Hawke is a haematologist working at Sam Neill's corporate firm, trying to find a substitute. He greatly dislikes the farming of humans and the fact that humans will die out as a species in a matter of weeks.

 

He stumbles upon a band of human survivors, one of which, Willem Dafoe, was a vampire but was cured of vampirism when he accidentally got burnt in daylight, but was put out quickly. So between them they conspire to cure the world. It's reverse vampirism as when vamps fees on cured vamps, they become human, then vamps feed on them, become cured...

 

It was a good film, not great, but watchable and had something interesting to add to the vampire story. I liked how the vampires sat in a middle ground here - not human, but if they went without blood they quickly regressed to a monstrous state, and the vampires hated these creatures as much as humans, so ordered them killed. They didn't like the true picture of what they were.

 

The Lovely Bones - Oh how I wish Peter Jackson had stuck to the drama side of this story. Susie Salmon is murdered at 14 by a neighbour. From heaven she watched her family unravel and come together again in the wake of her death. She also watches as the net tightens around Mr Harvey, her murderer.

 

The dramatic episodes of the story are very well done - Susie's capture, her family unravelling, the suspicion falling on Mr Harvey. But, the landscapes, the happy ones that is, of Susie's heaven were just horrendous. Sickly sweet, dayglo, airbrushed prettiness, schmaltz, sugar, candyfloss clouds...I hated it. Toward the end, as Susie meets the other girls that fell at the hands of Mr Harvey, the landscapes darken and are much more bearable. But...no...I just hated the 'heaven' as designed by Jackson.

 

Kudos, though, to Stanley Tucci - he terrified the bejesus out of me as Mr Harvey. A brilliantly terrifying turn.

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I think I mentioned that a Sports Illustrated article I read said that the story in "The Blind Side" was not all that unique. Here is an article from an online magazine that I read that confirms that fact.

 

http://www.slate.com/id/2270482/

 

I love Josh Levin (the author of the article). Not only does he write interesting articles about sports, but he's also an LSU fan.

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Went to the cinema last night with the boys to watch Despicable Me. Gru is a villain and is under pressure to be the villain-ist villain around. He has new competition from Vector, a nerdy villain who has just stole the Great Pyramid. (Psht! It's behind his house painted blue with clouds.) So Gru decides to steal a shrink ray gun, shrink and capture the moon. But Vector steals it from Gru. Gru tries to steal it back but Vector's house is a missile-protected fortress. The only people he lets in is 3 wee girls, who live like Orphan Annie at Miss Hattie's Home for Girls, selling cookies for cash.

 

Gru decides to adopt theses girls, infiltrate Vector's house, get the ray gun, and shrink the moon. But inevitably the girls worm their way into his heart and ultimately he has to choose between being an arch-villain or being a daddy.

 

It's cute. There are some funny bits and the animation is terrific. The minions are the highlight of the piece though. Steve Carell does a great job with Gru's Russian/Germanic/Polish voice and Russell Brand is just recognisable as Gru's mentor, Dr Nefarious. The kids loved it though. Youngest (5) very nearly deafened the audience with his laughter.

 

One thing - we watched this in 3D and to be honest, I've quite liked the 3D aspects of other films I have watched in 3D, but Despicable Me makes full use of the medium and to great effect. It doesn't make the film better, but it does make the experience more satisfying.

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A few recent viewings -

 

Ninja Assassin - My boys begged me to rent this as they are obsessed with ninjas and assassins. To have both in a film was just pure gold to them. So I rented it and sat down to watch it with them not expecting to like it very much. But I loved it. It's complete nonsense of course, but very slick and very watchable with a central character you just want to be.

 

The improbably named Rain, plays an orphan who was raised by the domineering tutor of a secret ninja training school. The boys and girls are brainwashed and taught various skills by a brutal method from a very early age. Our hero falls for one of the girls, a freespirit who has resisted the teachings of the school. When she runs away, another boy, the nemesis of our hero brings her back to the school and executes her.

 

Fast-forward a good 10 or so years and a government researcher thinks she has uncovered a string of assassinations that share a common link - the deaths are attributed to an ancient ninja group. As she investigates, her and her boss, come into increasing danger. But there is one renegade ninja prepared to help.

 

It's all a bit silly really, but Rain is excellent in the role and I totally believed he could be a ninja - he certainly looks capable. The action sequences are superb and thankfully there isn't a reliance on body-wires/hoists for the stunts. It's pretty cool really - especially the ninjas coming out of the darkness.

 

The only thing I would say is that the film is, I wouldn't say violent because none of the violence feels real or gritty, but it is gory. Comic book gory that is. Lots of severed body parts and literally, literally vast fountains of cherry-red blood. Laughable though.

 

Love Happens - Why did I put this on my rental list?! I have no idea or memory of doing so. Still, it came through and I watched it. Aaron Eckhart plays a man who is a hero on the self-help circuit. His USP is grief-counselling following the death of his wife. As he helps others heal their sorrow, he buries his deep. He drinks, he denies, he ignores.

 

His manager books a conference in Seattle, the one place Eckhart didn't want to go to because his wife died there and her parents, who he has avoided for 3 years, live there. But he has to do the work and through it he meets the enigmatic Eliose played by the not-so-enigmatic Jennifer Aniston. I have trouble believing that she is quirky and interesting. Funny and adorable, yes. Quirky or interesting, no.

 

And so, Eliose and her odd little ways make Eckhart face his grief, reconcile with the in-laws and find love again.

 

Happy ever after.

 

Piranha (3D) - Didn't watch it in 3D though. This film really is a hoot. The makers know this is B-Movie territory and try very hard to make it so bad it's good, so bad it's funny, so bad it's genius. And it's not - it's so bad it's crap.

 

Elisabeth Shue is a cop of a seaside town. Chief Brody if you like. Hundreds of teenagers descend for summer lovin'. She leaves her eldest son to look after 2 younger siblings. He goes off with a porn director to help shoot his next Wet'n'Wild film. A cast of which includes Kelly Brook...and her boobs. Savage cannibal piranhas attack in various frenzies and 'Brody' tries to get to her children.

 

The gore is graphic, bloody and waaaaay over the top - and this is coming from someone who adores a bit of gores. The 'laughs' come from stupid snippets of dialogue: "they took my peeeeenis!"

 

That all said, it is worth watching the first 5 minutes. Richard Dreyfuss, little boat, singing 'Show Me The Way To Go Home" as his boat gets sucked into a whirlpool and he gets munched on by the fish.

 

We're gonna need a better film.

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Saw Buried a week ago - was really impressed; an intriguing way to keep the audience wanting to know what could possibly happen.

 

Really looking forward to Saw 3D this week - sad I know, but a real guilty pleasure. :D

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I haven't commented on what I've been watching for a long while (well, haven't been commenting on much at all! Sorry!)

 

So, here's a brief catch-up on the notable flicks chez Dave over the past few months!

 

Disappointments

 

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus - Crikey I was looking forward to this. My raves about the trailer are somewhere on the coming to a screen near you thread. But what a let-down.

 

I love Terry Gilliam's work, but it's patchy and this was a particularly threadbare patch. What a shame it was Heath Ledger's last film and whilst it's tempting to argue his untimely demise wrecked the film with the resulting changes to the story, actually I found the sections with Ledger to be amongst the least satisfying. It was simply very dull, with brief moments of Gilliam's usual imaginative flair.

 

Alice In Wonderland - I love Tim Burton's work, but it's patchy and...

 

Hmmm. Familiar territory. Burton often doesn't do well in my books when he re-works familiar stories - Planet of the Apes, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and now this mess. Carroll's original is delightful because it doesn't try to be linear or conventional and thrives on intelligent wordplay and conceits. Here Burton tries to develop a clear narrative mission loosely inspired by the original characters, but they just don't work in those terms. Plus he's besotted with Johnny Depp and so builds up the Hatter's character in a way that can't be supported.

 

Visually impressive but intellectually and emotionally flat.

 

Pleasures

 

Shutter Island - Dark, atmospheric, tense and clever. I very much enjoyed this psychological thriller that was beautifully acted and filmed. For such a long time I wanted to mock Leonardo DiCaprio but for so many films now he's proven me wrong.

 

Didn't see the twist and whilst when it initially broke I felt it couldn't work, the explication, together with a more careful think about what had gone before sold me completely.

 

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs - I'm a sucker for animation but I wasn't expecting to like this very much. The concept sounded too goofball and the clips of the animation too 'artificial'.

 

Oh I was very wrong. This was a great movie and I don't think there's another that's made me laugh more. As with the best of this type of film, there was also some sharp satire woven in along the way. Very satisfying.

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Saw Buried a week ago - was really impressed; an intriguing way to keep the audience wanting to know what could possibly happen.
I wanted to see this until I read that it's a terrorist/goverment kind of plot. Which spoiled the premise for me.

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I rented "A Single Man" and watched it Saturday night. I had been making turkey stock for Thanksgiving and had to give it time to cool, so I was eager to see an engrossing movie.

 

The movie is about a day in the life of a man named George Falconer. It takes place in 1962, 8 months after the death in a car accident of George's partner of 16 years, Jim. We see flashbacks to their life together and the inability of anyone in his life to recognize the depths of his love and loss, which I found heartbreaking. So all of his mourning has had to be internal, hidden. But he also encounters great kindness and caring, sometimes from unexpected people. I think that's why the movie ends the way it does, with a combination of hope and loss.

 

I was a very small child in 1962, but much of the clothing, looks, and environment looked familiar to me. I wish I had watched it with my daughter, so that I could see her reaction to rotary phones, etc. I also loved the house that George lives in and wish to live in it myself, even if it is in California. I enjoyed those aspects of the movie just for themselves.

 

But what I really enjoyed was the acting. Colin Firth is in every single scene, often alone (the character is, after all, a single man) and therefore really had to carry the movie. Which he did. He was amazing. I have enjoyed him in everything I've seen him in (beginning with Mr. Darcy, of course), but his performance here was on another plane from anything of his that I have seen. The other actors were terrific, too. The man who played Jim was very good and I found the scenes of their first meeting and falling in love to be very touching and believable.

 

The two encounters near the end of the movie, when George appeared very slowly to be coming out of his numbing grief, were the most poweful for me. The first was a very short, non-sexual encounter with the young Spanish prositute (played by a Spanish model that Tom Ford has used in his publicity named Jon Kortajarena). George asks the young man a lot of questions about his life, treating him with respect and kindness. The second was with a young student named Kenny Potter, who treats George with caring and kindness that George desperately needs. There was a lot of kindness in this movie that helped counterbalance some of the socially-accepted cruelty that George encounters.

 

I very much recommend this movie. I rented it, but I think I may have to buy it so that I can watch it with my husband and daughter (sequentially, so that I get to see it 3 times).

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i saw the kids are all right yesterday

 

the characthers are the Lesbian parents of two children, the two children and the sperm donor.

 

it was funny and i enjoyed it apart from some scenes. over all well worth watching apart from some scenes i didn't like.

 

one thing i did notice was in one scene, one of the parents was drinking from a cup which had said "World's Greatest Mom" which when you consider there are 2 moms in the familly, is interesting that that cup was bought which singles out one mother as being the greatest ;)

 

have i made sense?

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I am going to Harry Potter tonight and then again next week when my daughter is home from college.

 

But, I just watched "The Ghost Writer." I had read and enjoyed the book, so I wanted to see the movie. I thought it was very good. I got spooked (so to speak) during the movie and I knew what was going to happen! Also very atmospheric--the house, the ocean, and the remote setting all seemed to be characters in the book.

 

I liked Ewan McGregor in this movie more than I have in some of his other movies, where I found his acting too stylized. No one in my family agrees with me on this, I might add. But I thought he was good in this movie. I thought Pierce Brosnan was excellent--I never expected that he would play a jerk so effectively. And Olivia ???, who plays his wife, was excellent. I would recommend it.

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