22 June 2015

The Red Balloon, 1956 - ★★★★

Always nice when a film turns out to be as good as you expect it to be. Actually forgot I'd already seen it.

June 22, 2015 at 10:16PM

Anna Karenina, 2012 - ★★½

The staging is always fascinating but the story failed to engage.

June 22, 2015 at 11:03AM

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, 2011 - ★★★

I wasn't a fan of the original film, I thought it was an uninteresting story told in a very televisual way with nothing apart from graphic scenes giving it reason to be on the big screen. I kept forgetting that David Fincher directed this remake and put off watching it for quite some time. Fincher can't do much to improve the story but at least this version is interesting to look at.

June 22, 2015 at 11:00AM

18 June 2015

Jurassic World, 2015 - ★★★★

It's often (correctly) claimed that Jaws isn't about a shark and it follows that Jurassic Park probably isn't about dinosaurs. Jurassic World is about the dinosaurs and the theme park created to contain them. In fact, the film itself is more like a theme park ride than anything else and whilst it's an incredibly fun and exciting ride it never feels like it's going to stand the test of time like Spielberg's classics. Despite that, Colin Trevorrow deserves a huge amount of credit for directing something this big and enjoyable as only his second feature length film (after the excellent Safety Not Guaranteed).

Early on we learn that dinosaurs are now considered passé and although they are kept off screen for while there is no fanfare when they are revealed. However the new Indominus rex is kept in the shadows and slowly revealed just like any good monster should be. It may be CGI but for a lot of the film it is treated as a physical creation. It was a relief to see that the CGI had significantly improved from the early trailers and throughout the film it's mostly handled well. There is one sequence that doesn't really work, let down by poor CGI and trying to show too much; it could be playing homage to a Hitchcock film but a similar sequence was far scarier in the 1960s.

There's no denying that the film becomes increasingly ridiculous throughout but this never took anything away from my enjoyment. It's hard to defend the many things wrong with the film and I really wish that either the script or characters were a lot smarter. The biggest problem however, is that there was one moment that really stood out and I thought this is definitely going on my scenes of the year list, but the next day I couldn't think what it was. Perhaps I am just getting old but it's more likely that this is just mostly forgettable fun.

June 17, 2015 at 11:42PM

07 June 2015

True Romance, 1993 - ★★★★½

With the video release of Reservoir Dogs held up by the BBFC it was True Romance that was my first introduction to Tarantino. At a time when I was really getting into film it felt important to me and feels familiar although that is probably more to do with the screenplay which was given away with a film magazine at the time.

More than 20 years later this still feels like Tarantino's film but it looks like a Tony Scott one. That's not necessarily a bad thing but the 80s style direction does frequently hold back the forward thinking vision of Tarantino's voice that would go on to redefine cinema.

Great performances, great actors, funny, action packed, wonderful costumes and music. I can't help but wonder how the non-linear script would have turned out but to quote Marty McFly "I guess you guys aren't ready for that yet. But your kids are gonna love it."

June 07, 2015 at 09:43AM

8½, 1963 - ★★★

Another one to admire rather than actually enjoy. It was a relief to overhear people and see other reviewers who didn't "get" it and claim it was a "hard" film. Individual moments are great but as a whole it doesn't hang together. Often it feels self indulgent and lacks any control, this should be a good thing but sometimes artists need to be told what isn't working.

Earlier this week after seeing A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence I wondered if that material would be better suited to a series of short films rather than a feature. Despite that, Pigeon held my interest throughout in a way 8½ just couldn't.

Perhaps seeing it in a fresher state rather than at the end of a difficult week (or even just a second time) my thoughts would be different but on this viewing was a disappointment.

June 07, 2015 at 09:28AM

02 June 2015

A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence, 2014 - ★★★★

Finally I watch a Roy Andersson film in the right mood and it all clicks into place. As with the other films in the trilogy there are moments that work better than others. This time I felt there was more of a connecting path through the vignettes which helped maintain interest. I'm still not sure if a feature length film is the best way to present this material but individual components are surreal, funny, strange and sad and quite often wonderful.

June 02, 2015 at 11:34PM

Mad Max: Fury Road, 2015 - ★★★½

I kept waiting for this film I've been hearing so many great things about to start but I'm not sure if it ever did. That's not to say it's not enjoyable experience because it absolutely is. I just found the first half to be noisy; not just in volume but having no real idea why anything was happening. Once the plot takes a literal u-turn and the objectives are clearer I did enjoy it a lot more.

It is incredibly well put together and even though I've now read lots about how important the physical effects and stunts are I still thought there was too much distracting CG (but perhaps it wasn't CG after all). Ditto for the 3D, a few superfluous shots appear to be there only for the 3D version.

Today my memory of the film is better than my actual experience watching it. When I watched this montage of "The General" with Junkie XL's score it made me want to watch Fury Road again.

Next time I do watch Mad Max without expectations I think I'll like it a lot more.

June 02, 2015 at 11:06PM