29 July 2014

Joe, 2013 - ★★★½

A rare occasion when a trip to the cinema is justified to see a Nicolas Cage film. As Joe, Cage is genuinely fantastic and an intriguing character and the rest of the largely non-professional cast are just as good. Over two hours it's clear that things aren't going to well but there's a dark pleasure in watching things slowly self destruct.

July 29, 2014 at 10:01PM

28 July 2014

Jaws, 1975 - ★★★★★

The final screening of Sneaky Expeirence weekend at Leeds Dock with high hopes that the promises of sorting out the sound would be met. The beach and BBQ were still present and actors portraying more familiar roles (the mayor reassuring us that it was safe to go in the water). A small shark fin made an appearance in the water and casued suitable panic but was really too small to be that effective - they're gonna need a bigger shark.

Indoors to the film, to a new room and sound system. More re-enactment and photo opportunities with the caught (inflatable) shark. After a few false starts the film got underway and it remains as great as it always has been. I'd not seen Jaws properly until a few years ago and I've seen it at least twice since and it's pretty flawless.

The greatness can best be described by me deciding that, after a few beach side drinks, a trip to the toilet was in order. I'd wait until the next quite moment in the film to make the trip. I was waiting until the end credits. Not a single moment is wasted throughout the entire film. I'm starting to wonder if Jaws will become my summer equivalent of It's A Wonderful Life of films I watch on an annual basis.

July 28, 2014 at 02:06PM

The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, 2004

This screening was part of a water/shark based Sneaky Expeirence weekend at Leeds Dock. The mood was set before the film by a small beach, deck chairs, BBQ, a David Bowie impersonator and some actors pretending to be characters from the film (the problem being it was so long since I'd seen the film I wasn't sure who they were supposed to be). With a mood suitably set we all headed inside to watch the film, unfortunately sound problems meant most of the film was inaudible (not helped by the noisy hot tubs). Things were salvaged a little by turning on the subtitles but by this time most of the audience had left.

I like lots of what I saw (and struggled to hear) but it seems unfair to give this screening a rating and so it's left on my long list of films to watch again.

July 28, 2014 at 01:56PM

Haywire, 2012 - ★★★½

Soderbergh is one of a few directors who seems more than capable of tackling any genre (Richard Linklater being the most obvious other ). Haywire starts of as a normal action film but quickly turns in to all star thriller more akin to something like Traffic. The difference being that every once in a while the plot will stop for an action sequence where Gina Carano kicks some ass. The fight sequences are great because they feel real as do most of the action sequences which lend the entire film a sense of realism so often lacking. The story is somewhat inconsequential but also does little to detract from the enjoyment.

July 28, 2014 at 01:47PM

22 July 2014

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, 2014 - ★★★★

Who'd have thought that one of the biggest films of the year would be a largely subtitled, Shakespearian tragedy about a rebel uprising and the futility of war (with CGI Apes).

Nice to see Andy Serkis getting the top billing for a great performance. The effects work better than Rise because it's mostly the apes world so they never look out of place. Godzilla may be more of a roller coaster ride but this is likely to be the smartest mainstream film of the year.

July 22, 2014 at 09:54PM

21 July 2014

Rise of the Planet of the Apes, 2011 - ★★★★

Three years later and the "special" has already faded from the effects. Not that it matters because all of the apes are filled with character and feel real even if they do look out of place (especially the younger Caesar) in the real world. The story is told economically which means everything flows along quickly so it remains enjoyable without questioning the flaws (are there really that many apes in the San Francisco area?).

The trailer for Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes is great and this prequel (not to mention Filmspotting describing Dawn as a Shakesperian action film) has only got me more excited for the new film.

July 21, 2014 at 11:37PM

14 July 2014

Boyhood, 2014 - ★★★★

As the glowing reviews of Boyhood started flooding in I began to worry that this was going to be another one of those films that everybody else loved and I didn't get. I desperately tried to lower my already fairly high expectations with the hope that I would come away as elated as everybody else. Sadly that didn't happen. I liked Boyhood, I liked it a lot but I was constantly wondering when the magic was going to happen which would make it truly special.

There's no denying that it's a remarkable achievement although not as unique as people think with Michael Winterbottom employing a similar technique for Everyday a few years back (although Linklater must have started earlier). I couldn't help but think back to the documentary American Promise, which I saw earlier this year, following two boys over a similar time period. The highly flawed documentary focussed on education but was the fact I'd already experienced those boyhoods on film preventing me from being awed by another childhood being depicted on screen. Of course there's a huge difference between fact and fiction but how much of Linklater's film is to do with the film making experience and capturing the factual side of growing up. Would the film be receiving the same praise if it had been made in a more traditional way with different child actors and make up?

Like Under The Skin (another film that I didn't especially enjoy on my first viewing but has stuck with me like nothing else throughout the year) Boyhood feels like more than just a film. The wonderful way in which time just passes by from one moment to the next make it feel like you have experienced the life rather than just watched it. Nothing may appear to be happening but at the same time the most amazing things are taking place.

There wasn't really much about Boyhood that I disliked. Like most films it could've ended sooner, although everything in the closing scenes works so well. Throughout the film I thought the sister was a much more interesting character and would have preferred her to be the focus - but that would be a completely different film. I suspect (and hope) when I revisit the film I'll experience the magical spark that everybody else is feeling but it just wasn't there for me on this viewing and I'm still trying to come to terms with that disappointment.

July 14, 2014 at 11:02PM

13 July 2014

Parkland, 2013 - ★★★

This was a lot better than I was expecting after seeing a slew of negative reviews. Since a school project on JFK I've always maintained an interest in the 35th President, the assassination and conspiracies but this genuinely felt like a fresh take on that fatal day. At times the film feels televisual (and watching the impact on various bystanders of a major event sounds like a great idea for a TV series) but solid performances from a great cast kept me engaged.

July 13, 2014 at 10:33PM

Monty Python and the Holy Grail, 1975 - ★★★★

It's always reassuring when a film you like but haven't see for such a long time holds up. It's still funny with more jokes and memorable lines that I'd ironically forgotten came from the film.

The Sneaky Experience set up wasn't great, with limited and uncomfortable views of the small screen although this was compensated by an enthusiastic audience.

July 13, 2014 at 03:23PM

06 July 2014

Don Jon, 2013 - ★★½

A disappointing debut which never manages to be anything more than mediocre. Crude and repetitive but a much worse problem is that none of the characters are likable apart from Julianne Moore's and the completely wasted Brie Larson.

July 06, 2014 at 09:40PM

03 July 2014

The Zero Theorem, 2013 - ★★★½

Another great film to watch at Glastonbury because directly after the screening I was wandering around the Gilliam-esque Shangri La area. Seeing a corporate hell in real life only added to what I'd seen in the film. It's a shame there isn't more depth to the film on it's own but it's still quite an experience and looks fantastic on what I assume was a small budget.

July 03, 2014 at 06:37PM

20 Feet from Stardom, 2013 - ★★★★

Watching this at Glastonbury Festival was a great way to see the film and get an even better appreciation for the backing singers throughout the rest of the weekend. I thought most of the film was really great; full of magical moments, great characters and quite moving (watching it in a tent must explain how the dust kept getting in my eyes). Towards the end the subjects started covering the same ground and it started to feel a bit repetitive which made me wish they'd left some of it out (it also was quite uncomfortable sitting on the ground which didn't help).

I don't understand the criticisms that it isn't a well made film but perhaps the flaws were easier to overlook in the special viewing environment. Personally I think it was a more worthy Oscar winner than The Act Of Killing which may have been more interesting and worthwhile but also left me feeling manipulated whereas this just left me elated.

July 03, 2014 at 06:22PM