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Movies, Craft Beer and Geek Stuff

Movies, Reviews

Weekend Viewing: A round-up.

This weekend I watched some movies. Get a cup of tea and have a read of my mini reviews. Also, let me know if you like this format because I think it could be a pretty decent way to post in the future.

Unthinkable

Starring: Samuel L Jackson, Michael Sheen, Carrie Anne Moss
Directed by: Gregor Jordan

When an FBI agent Brody (Moss) and a black-ops interrogator, H (Jackson) are brought in to press a terror suspect (Sheen) for the whereabouts of three nuclear bombs, right and wrong no longer exist.

When conventional interrogation methods fail, high level officials authorise H to use his signature torture techniques to extract the information, no matter the cost. Sickened by what she sees, it is up to agent Brody to get the information and find the bombs before H tortures a man to death and the the values of a nation are irreparably tarnished.

It took me a day or two to figure out whether I enjoyed this movie or not, and that I suppose is the whole point. Like Hard Candy, Unthinkable toys with what you think you know about right and wrong and it does this very, very well. Sure the pace is a tad uneven and it can be a bit bull-in-a-china-shop in places but on the whole I really quite enjoyed it. Moss, Sheen and Jackson delivered commendable performances, even if some of the supporting cast left a little to be desired, and the direction was more than competent, acting as a great tension builder.

Verdict: starstarstarstar

If you enjoyed this, check out: Hard Candy, The Siege, The Sum of All Fears

From Paris With Love

Starring: John Travolta, Jonathan Rhys Meyers
Directed by: Pierre Morel

When handed his first “real” assignment, low-level CIA operative James Reece (who is acting as personal aid to the US ambassador in Paris) couldn’t be more thrilled… until he meets his partner. Trigger-happy, wise-cracking Charlie Wax leads Reece on a white-knuckle trail of destruction through the Parisian underworld and leaves him craving his desk job once again. But when Reece discovers he may be involved in the terrorist plot they are trying to stop, he realises he has no choice but to stick with Wax.

Like a cinematic meat-head, From Paris With Love packs a lot of punch with very little brains. Action, reminiscent of a ham fisted Jon Woo is drawn out by a ridiculous story and dialogue that would make porno script writers cringe. Travolta is too old to be doing this kind of thing and Meyers… well Meyers was okay but, let’s face it, you can’t polish a turd.

While not the best remove-brain-insert-popcorn movie ever made, From Paris WithLove did have its moments. Some of the fight scenes were exciting and some of the big explosion set pieces were pretty good too.

Verdict: starstar

If you enjoyed this, check out: The 51st State, The Big Hit

The Book of Eli

Starring: Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman, Mila Kunis
Directed by: Albert and Allen Hughes

Eli, a lone traveller makes his way across a post-apocalyptic America with  a book that holds the key to mankind’s salvation or destruction. When he stops at a small trading post for water Eli encounters Carnegie (Oldman) who is intent on obtaining the book to control the town’s population and branch out to other settlements.

Solara (Kunis), one of Carnegie’s captives, decides to help Eli reach his destination and make sure that the book doesn’t fall into Carnegie’s hands. The pair make the last effort to reach the west coast, pursued by Carnegie and his band of mercenaries but can they reach their destination in time?

Remember how Deep Impact and Armageddon were released pretty much at the same time and they were nearly the same movie? Well The Book of Eli was, bizarrely released at the same time as The Road. The only fundamental plot difference between the two movies is that Eli has a specific destination. The protagonists in The Road just had to keep moving. That said, I think I enjoyed The Book of Eli a little bit more. It wasn’t as subtle with its message but the pace was a lot nicer and the ending wasn’t so depressing.

At first I thought the movie was a little too Jesus-tastic but the more I think about it the more I realise The Book of Eli is as much of an indictment of organised religion as it is a case for its existence. Combine this interesting story with some intense action and threat and you actually have a pretty successful movie.

Verdict: starstarstarstar

If you enjoyed this, check out: The Road

A Serious Man

Starring: Michael Stuhlbarg, Richard Kind, Fred Melamed
Directed by: Joel & Ethan Coen

A Serious man follows Larry Gopnik, a Jewish college professor who watches his life suddenly unravel by way of a number of sudden unfortunate events. While looking for meaning in this troubled time, Larry not only finds no answers but stumbles into yet more misfortune.

Seriously odd-ball, A Serious Man is Coen Brothers through and through. This will most certainly not be for everyone but I was pleasantly surprised. While not laugh-out-loud funny you will find yourself identifying with how comically accurate a representation of day to day life it is. Not only this, you’ll find yourself exploring the ideas and undertones of the movie in your own mind for days afterwards and I don’t think I’m the only person who will want to watch it again in the future.

Performances were great all round and despite being a tad self-indulgent on the directors’ part the movie holds together very well.

Verdict: starstarstarstar

If you enjoyed this, check out: Burn After Reading, No Country for Old Men, Donnie Darko (trust me, you’ll get why after you watch it)

Dorothy

Starring: Carice Van Houten, Jenn Murray
Directed by: Agnes Merlet

When a court appointed psychiatrist Jane Van Dopp arrives on a remote island to investigate Dorothy, a troubled young girl accused of abusing a baby she was babysitting she soon discovers that not everything is as it seems with Dorothy or the community on the island.

What at first seems like a textbook case of multiple-personality disorder begins to reveal itself to be something all together more supernatural and sinister. Can Jane solve the mystery in time to save herself and Dorothy?

Not at all what I was expecting, Dorothy is a fairly decent concept for a film and offers a nice twist on the usual multiple personality story. Unfortunately a low budget, unrefined direction and underwhelming cast let it down. The strongest cast member was Jenn Murray who played Dorothy and five other personalities throughout the movie but even this was sketchy at best.

The film’s marketing job was a bit of an abortion, if I’m honest. The trailers, packaging and tag lines all set the movie up to be like The Exorcist, Godsend or Birth when in actual fact it has more in common with Raising Cain and Deliverance. The interesting premise makes Dorothy worth a watch… just.

Verdict: starstar

If you enjoyed this, check out: Raising Cain, Identity

Alice in Wonderland

Starring: Pretty much everyone you’d expect in a Tim Burton movie.
Directed by: Tim Burton

Tim Burton’s long-awaited re-imagining of the classic Alice in Wonderland sees Mia Wasikowska play Alice, a 19 year old girl who falls into a world from her childhood imagination to fulfill her destiny; to end the Red Queen’s reign of terror.

Although typically twisted and bizarre, Alice in Wonderland seemed to be a little too disjointed and removed from the source material. Proof positive that you can only mutate something so much before it becomes something else entirely. Burton did the exact same thing with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Things seemed to just happen that, I’m sure made sense in the mind of Tim Burton but to average Joe, just seem totally misplaced and random.

One saving grace was the level of acting on show. Depp and co. performed admirably and smaller performances from Alan Rickman and Stephen Fry went down a treat.

Unfortunately, this time Burton has gone a bit too far into the surreal and turned out something a bit naff and all over the place. I’d much rather see the likes of his earlier work such as Beetlejuice and Batman. Those were the real gems.

Verdict: starstar

If you enjoyed this, check out: The work of Salvador Dali

Like I said, let me know if you like this format because I’ve got a couple of days off work at the end of the week so chances are I’ll be doing the same again. I already have 44 Inch Chest and Splice ear-marked.

In a bit!

3 comments

  1. Rick - June 1, 2010 3:40 pm

    Great round up, I love these bite sized chunks.

    I’ve seen a lot of them but not A Serious Man, I’ll have to try and check it out this week.

  2. kym - June 1, 2010 3:59 pm

    Nice format, Dan, definitely a keeper.

    You have been busy this weekend. As Rick just said, I’ll have to see A Serious Man, it sounds good, and I like the Coen brothers a lot.

    Funny review of From Paris With Love, I like your humourous reviews. I saw that film and got bored. You definitely can not polish a turd hahaha!

    I’d (mostly) disagree with your review of Alice in Wonderland, but as you know, I love surreal entertainment so that is probably why. The acting did outshine the directing though!

    More please!!!

  3. Luke Jones - June 1, 2010 4:05 pm

    Bloody hell…

    Lazy weekend? =P

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