Sunday, 30 October 2011

Film Review: AMERICAN BEAUTY (1999)

American Beauty - poster Director: Sam Mendes
Running time: 117 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 18

Genre: Drama
UK Release date: 4th February 2000

Watched on Sky+ Sunday 30th October 2011.

PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.

I saw this film many years ago and I remember it being rather great. As it came to the top of my list again I decided to give it another go and I’m very glad I did! It’s better than great, it’s truly excellent! I can’t say I’ve enjoyed a film more in a very long time! Some extraordinary characters, brilliant performances and an excellent script combine to make up one of the best films to come out of Hollywood in the 1990’s by far! But enough of my praise, here’s a brief summary before I praise it some more.

American Beauty - 3 Lester Burnham has a boring job and lives with his wife, Carolyn, and daughter, Jane, in sweet suburbia. Family life is far from happy for any of them; Carolyn is cold to Lester and he finds that hard to take. Jane doesn’t find it easy to fit in and thinks her parents are freaks. She has one friend, Angela Hayes, who becomes an object of affection for Lester, much to Jane’s disapproval. Things take a turn when teenager, Ricky Fitts moves in next door with his repressive father, Col. Frank Fitts, USMC and mother, Barbara. Ricky likes to film everything with his video camera and he eventually introduces himself to the Burnham’s. He and his father are about to have a big impact on their lives, much bigger than any of them could have imagined. I’ll leave it there or the Spoiler Police will be sending me away to an asylum (again).

American Beauty - 5 Alongside a, now iconic, musical score by Thomas Newman, there is also a great collection of contemporary songs used in the film. Beautifully made with not one wasted scene, a rare thing these days. As far as performances go, well, nobody put a foot wrong. Kevin Spacey was brilliant as Lester Burnham and Annette Bening played his wife Carolyn to a tee! Thora Birch as Jane Burnham, Wes Bentley as Ricky Fitts and Mena Suvari as Angela Hayes were all excellent! I must also give honourable mentions to; Chris Cooper as Col. Frank Fitts, USMC, Peter Gallagher as Buddy Kane, Allison Janney as Barbara Fitts (I had forgotten she was in it), Scott Bakula as Jim Olmeyer, Sam Robards as Jim Berkley and Barry Del Sherman as Bard Dupree.

American Beauty - 2 I think I liked this movie even more this time around. Since I started documenting the films I’ve watched, I’ve come to appreciate the filmmakers’ art more and more. And I think it is because of this I have a greater appreciation when I see something that I can admire not only for how it makes me feel, but also for the skill of the people that put it out there. It’s a film I would recommend to anyone that loves film, it is one of the best films I’ve seen this year and will easily make my top ten… Highly recommended.

My Score: 9.3/10.

IMDb Score: 8.6/10 (based on 358,207 votes at the time of going to press).
http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0169547/

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88/100 (based on 152 reviews counted at the time of going to press).
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/american_beauty/

If you’re crazy enough… You can find me on Facebook at:
http://facebook.com/andy.steel3

American Beauty - 1 FAVOURITE QUOTES:
[first lines]
Jane Burnham: I need a father who's a role model, not some horny geek-boy who's gonna spray his shorts whenever I bring a girlfriend home from school. What a lame-o. Someone really should just put him out of his misery.
Ricky Fitts: Want me to kill him for you?
Jane Burnham: Yeah. Would you?

Brad Dupree: [reading Lester's job description] "My job consists of basically masking my contempt for the assholes in charge, and, at least once a day, retiring to the men's room so I can jerk off while I fantasize about a life that doesn't so closely resemble Hell." Well, you have absolutely no interest in saving yourself.
Lester Burnham: Brad, for 14 years I've been a whore for the advertising industry. The only way I could save myself now is if I start firebombing.

Ricky Fitts: It was one of those days when it's a minute away from snowing and there's this electricity in the air, you can almost hear it. Right? And this bag was just dancing with me. Like a little kid begging me to play with it. For fifteen minutes. That's the day I realized that there was this entire life behind things, and this incredibly benevolent force that wanted me to know there was no reason to be afraid, ever. Video's a poor excuse, I know. But it helps me remember... I need to remember... Sometimes there's so much beauty in the world, I feel like I can't take it, and my heart is just going to cave in.

…and there are so many more I wanted to put in…

American Beauty - 4 LINKS:
Official Site: http://www.dreamworks.com/ab/
Trailer:

Film Review: FALLEN (1998)

Fallen - poster Director: Gregory Hoblit
Running time: 124 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15

Genre: Crime/Drama/Thriller/Horror
UK Release date: 13th March 1998

Watched on Sky+ Sunday 30th October 2011.

PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.

I have seen this film before and pretty much enjoyed it. Noticing it in the TV schedules recently, I thought I’d give it another go and put some thoughts down about it this time. A film that is not widely hailed as a horror film, I found it both atmospheric and quite menacing. To me a good horror film pays on the audiences’ fear of the unknown, and this film does just that. I’ll tell you more after this brief summary.

Fallen - 4 When serial killer, Edgar Reese, is about to be executed, he asks to speak to the detective that caught him, John Hobbes. Gloating at Hobbes, he begins to speak in some foreign language and finally bursts into song; The Rolling Stones, ‘Time is on my Side’. Thinking nothing of this, Hobbes proceeds to witness the execution, but it’s not the last he’ll see of Edgar Reese, or is it Edgar Reese? A day later Hobbes is called to the scene of a murder, a murder that has all the hallmarks of Edgar Reese. Does he have an accomplice, or is there a copycat out there? Either way, it’s a puzzle that has to be solved and one that will lead Hobbes and his partner, Jonesy, down a very perilous path. I won’t say any more or the Spoiler Police (demonic branch) will be possessing my family and turning them against me.

Fallen - 5 A well made film with a very interesting narration and a delightful twist at the end. Great performances all round, especially from Denzel Washington as John Hobbes, John Goodman as Jonesy and Embeth Davidtz as Gretta Milano. Honourable mentions go to Donald Sutherland as Lt. Stanton and James Gandolfini (with an outrageous moustache) as Lou.

le temoin du mal I very much enjoyed this film although it did fall a little flat about two thirds of the way through and I did find it a little over-long. Other than that I found it quite an intelligent film that keeps you guessing right until the end. It’s one that will be overlooked by many (low gore factor), but one I would encourage any horror fan to watch. It has quite a slow pace, but don’t be deceived, it’s quite enthralling if you give it a chance… Recommended.

My Score: 7.6/10.

IMDb Score: 6.8/10 (based on 30,255 votes at the time of going to press).
http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0119099/

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 40/100 (based on 55 reviews counted at the time of going to press).
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/1080990-fallen/

If you’re crazy enough… You can find me on Facebook at:
http://facebook.com/andy.steel3

Fallen - 2 FAVOURITE QUOTES:
[first lines]
Azazel: I wanna tell you about the time I almost died....

Azazel: Time is on my side. Yes it is.

John Hobbes: There are moments which mark your life. Moments when you realize nothing will ever be the same and time is divided into two parts, before this, and after this... Sometimes you can feel such a moment coming. That's the test, or so I tell myself. I tell myself that at times like that, strong people keep moving forward anyway, no matter what they're going to find.

Azazel: [Last lines] Like I said before. I was beaten. I was battered, tired and neaten by a detective John Hobbes. It's disturbing that you were alive for a thousand years and you realize that you're actually going to die, because some self-righteous cop thinks he’s gonna save the fuckin' world. Yes, a demon can die, and Hobbes finally knew how to beat me at my own game. Oh, I forgot. I was gonna tell you the time I "almost" died, seeya 'round.

LINKS:
Trailer:

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Film Review: THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNETS’ NEST [Luftslottet som sprängdes] (2009)

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest - poster Director: Daniel Alfredson
Running time: 178 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15

Genre: Mystery/Thriller/Drama/Crime
UK Release date: 26th November 2010

Watched on DVD Saturday 29th October 2011.

PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.

Stieg Larsson’s ‘Millennium Trilogy’ comes to a conclusion with this film. All the threads from the previous two films are drawn together as Lisbeth Salander is put on trial for the attempted murder of Alexander Zalachenko. But there is more intrigue lurking under the surface and it’s up to Mikael Blomkvist to root it out. I quite enjoyed this conclusion to the trilogy, plenty of old scores are settled, but more of that after this brief summary.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest - 4 Lisbeth Salander is about to go to trial but there are shady characters working in the shadows trying to prevent that. These are old men, men who have been involved in her case for many years, men who have a vested interest in keeping her under wraps. When it becomes apparent that moves are afoot to silence Lisbeth, Mikael Blomkvist and his team at the Millennium magazine are alerted. Blomkvist had already decided to do an entire issue focusing on Lisbeth’s story and, to this end, he has managed to get a mobile phone smuggled to her in hospital. She uses this to write her own story, and also to get help to find out just who is behind the moves to silence her. There is much more to tell, but I’ll leave it here or the Spoiler Police will be fabricating evidence against me (again).

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest - 3 This was, again, a very well made film that brings about a very satisfying conclusion to the trilogy. Although she doesn’t feature very much in the first part, I thought Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander, again, stole the show. Michael Nyqvist, of course, did an excellent job too as Mikael Blomkvist. Also worthy of note were; Lena Endre as Erika Berger, Annika Hallin as Annika Giannini (Lisbeth’s lawyer), Jacob Ericksson as Christer Malm, Sofia Ledarp as Malin Erikson and Anders Ahlbom as Dr. Peter Teleborian.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest - 5 Not as good as part one but better than part two, I still found this quite heavy going. At times it was almost like watching a Swedish version of ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’. And that’s hard enough to follow in English! Even so, the courtroom scenes were excellent, with Lisbeth turning up with excellent Mohican hair and dressed all in black. All this added to the character and gave credence to what she was about to say. On the down side, it did lack a little edge; you never truly felt any of the main characters were really in any peril. But I digress, its well worth persisting with as the payoff at the end is well worth the wait… Recommended.

My Score: 7.3/10

IMDb Score: 7.0/10 (based on 13,973 votes at the time of going to press).
http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt1343097/

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 52/100 (based on 123 reviews counted at the time of going to press).
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/the_girl_who_kicked_the_hornets_nest/

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest - 1 FAVOURITE QUOTES:
None available…

LINKS:
Official Site: http://millenniumfilmtrilogy.com/
Trailer:

Friday, 28 October 2011

Film Review: THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE [Flickan som lekte med elden] (2009)

The Girl who Played with Fire - poster Director: Daniel Alfredson
Running time: 178 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 18

Genre: Mystery/Thriller/Drama/Crime
UK Release date: 27th August 2010

Watched on DVD Friday 28th October 2011.

PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.

The second part of Stieg Larsson’s ‘Millennium Trilogy’ comes to the screen and there’s no let-up for many of the characters from the first instalment. This time it’s Lisbeth Salander who has the spotlight turned on her past. Again, I watched it in Swedish with subtitles and again I found it quite intriguing. I will tell you more after this very brief summary.

The Girl who Played with Fire - 1 A new story for the Millennium magazine brings Mikael Blomkvist into the world of human trafficking. This time it’s women from Eastern Europe being smuggled into Sweden for the sex industry. When a reporter and his wife are murdered, Blomkvist is devastated to learn that the murder weapon has Lisbeth Salander’s fingerprints all over it! Claiming her innocence, he proceeds with his own investigation into the case. At the same time, Lisbeth Salander, having returned to Sweden, also has an angle on the case. The evidence points to a mysterious character known as ‘Zala’, someone from Lisbeth’s past. As the net tightens, she must confront her past and exorcise some demons. I will leave it there or the Spoiler Police will be framing me for too much exposure (again).

The Girl who Played with Fire - 5 Very well made with a very brooding musical score by Jacob Groth. As ever, both Michael Nyqvist as Mikael Blomkvist and Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander did an excellent job. Also worthy of note were; Lena Endre as Erika Berger, Yasmine Garbi as Miriam Wu and Peter Andersson as Nils Bjurman.

The Girl who Played with Fire - 3 I found this a much more complicated plot than The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, there seems to be more twists and turns in this one. Also, it’s a very ‘wordy’ script, which makes it quite hard to watch with subtitles, especially given its length! Even so, I did enjoy this thriller, maybe not quite as much as the first one, but enough for me to want to complete the trilogy. So, despite being a tad (& a half) too long, I still enjoyed this complicated, brooding thriller… maybe not as much as part one, but still enough to deem it… Recommended.

My Score: 6.9/10

IMDb Score: 6.8/10 (based on 20,648 votes at the time of going to press).
http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt1216487/

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 69/100 (based on 147 reviews counted at the time of going to press).
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/girl_who_played_with_fire/

The Girl who Played with Fire - 6 LINKS:
Official Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/girlwhoplayedwithfire
Official Site: http://playedwithfirefilm.com/
Trailer:

Film Review: TANGLED (2010)

Tangled - poster Directors: Nathan Greno & Byron Howard
Running time: 100 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): PG

Genre: Animation/Adventure/Family/Comedy
UK Release date: 28th January 2011

Watched on Sky+ Friday 27th October 2011.

PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.

I thought I’d start my day off with something easy to watch, given a bit of a rough head this morning. Checking what I had recorded, I decided the one that would be easiest on the grey matter was ‘Tangled’. I was right… I was also delighted with my choice! Nothing like as bad as I was expecting, although it wasn’t perfect, Disney have come a long way in the last few years and appear to be on the right track to producing something really great in the next few years. But enough of my nonsense for now… More after this very brief summary.

tangled - 1 Having been kidnapped by Mother Gothel as a baby, Rapunzel is kept away from the world in a hidden tower. The only way in or out is to climb up her long golden hair. It is her magical hair that holds the secret to why Mother Gothel stole Rapunzel away… but I’m not going to tell you about that here. Just as Rapunzel is about to turn eighteen, a man, Flynn Rider climbs the tower trying to evade some palace guards who are chasing him. He has stolen something from the palace and they want it back. Each year on her birthday the sky is filled with magical lanterns and Rapunzel wants more than anything to go and see them. But Mother Gothel has made her afraid to go outside. Can she persuade Flynn to take her to see the lanterns and, more importantly, can she overcome her fears of the outside world. I think that’s enough to whet your appetite for now… don’t want the Spoiler Police chasing me down and throwing me in a dungeon again.

tangled - 2 Beautifully animated with some really great songs (& some not quite so great) to take you along the journey. This is a really well made family film with some really nice touches. The voice talents of Mandy Moore as Rapunzel and Zachary Levi as Flynn Rider were both excellent. I thought Donna Murphy played the evil Mother Gothel very well, particularly the songs. Honourable mentions go to the voice talents of; Ron Perlman as Stabbington Brother, M.C. Gainey as Captain of the Guard, Jeffrey Tambor as Big Nose Thug, Brad Garrett as Hook Hand Thug, Paul F. Tompkins as Short Thug and Richard Kiel as Vlad.

tangled - 8 The comic relief was supplied by a horse, Maximus and a chameleon, Pascal. There is also a band of thugs who help the unlikely pair on their journey; they have the best musical number in the show (IMO). In fact, this film did have the ring of an old fashioned musical about it and I must admit, I did enjoy that aspect of it. On the down side, I thought everyone looked a little bit too ‘Disney cute’ for my liking. The eyes way too big and the waistlines way too thin… it doesn’t look right (to me) I’m afraid. That aside, I did enjoy this film (in 2D) though… Recommended.

My Score: 7.7/10.

IMDb Score: 7.8/10 (based on 60,662 votes at the time of going to press).
http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0398286/

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89/100 (based on 179 reviews counted at the time of going to press).
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/tangled/

If you’re crazy enough… You can find me on Facebook at:
http://facebook.com/andy.steel3

tangled - 6 FAVOURITE QUOTES:
[first lines]
Flynn Rider: This is the story of how I died. Don't worry, this is actually a very fun story and the truth is, it isn't even mine. This is the story of a girl named Rapunzel.

Rapunzel: Something brought you here, Flynn Rider. Call it what you will... fate... destiny...
Flynn Rider: A horse.

Flynn Rider: [sword-fighting with Maximus] You should know that this is the strangest thing I've ever done!
[Max flicks the frying-pan from Flynn's hands]
Flynn Rider: ... How 'bout best two out of three?

tangled - 9 LINKS:
Official Site: http://disney.go.com/disneypictures/tangled/textonly/
Trailer:

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Film Review: ROUTE IRISH (2010)

Route Irish - Poster Director: Ken Loach
Running time: 110 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15

Genre: Drama/War
USA Release date: 18th March 2011

Watched on Sky+ Monday 24th October 2011.

PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.

I have been a bit of a fan of the work of Ken Loach for a while now, ever since I saw Kes (made in 1969, but I saw it much later) and more recently Looking for Eric (2009). This one, although still good, failed to quite hit the mark (for me). There were several aspects of it that seemed incomplete. I’ll tell you more after this very brief summary.

Route Irish - 2 Whilst working for a security firm in Iraq, in 2007, Frankie is killed. His best friend, Fergus, is devastated and feels there is something not quite right about the circumstances of his death. A former mercenary himself, he begins his own investigation. Enlisting the help of Frankie’s widow, Rachel, and an Iraqi musician, Harim, he begins to piece together the events leading up to Frankie’s death. I won’t say any more or the Spoiler Police will be shooting at that taxi I’ll be taking home on Thursday night. Oh, I should also mention, just for completeness, that ‘Route Irish’ is the code name used for the route between Baghdad Airport and the Green Zone.

Route Irish - 5 Set in Liverpool and with an extremely gritty edge to it, there are no punches pulled in this realistic drama. Of course budget constraints mean most of the action has to take place in the UK, but there is a fair bit of archive footage of events in Iraq at the time to fill the gap. Be warned though, some of it is quite graphic. As far as performances go, well, both Mark Womack as Fergus and Andrea Lowe as Rachel were excellent. A lot of the dialogue is ad-libbed and I thought they both did an excellent job! John Bishop, better known as a comedian here in the UK, plays Frankie (in flashback) and he did a pretty good job too. I thought Talib Rasool as Harim was very good as well.

Route Irish - 3 Over all, it just failed to hit the mark. I think I found the ending a bit of a let-down but sadly I cannot talk about it here. It did have its good points though and I did find it quite enthralling up to a point, but it was a little too long for me. It’s a shame because I really wanted to like this one, but then you can’t have everything I suppose. I will still deem it worthy of a viewing, but be warned of a lot of swearing and some graphic content.

My Score: 6.4/10.

IMDb Score: 6.3/10 (based on 1,051 votes at the time of going to press).
http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt1528312/

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 73/100 (based on 26 reviews counted at the time of going to press).
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/route_irish/

If you’re crazy enough… You can find me on Facebook at:
http://facebook.com/andy.steel3

Route Irish - 4 FAVOURITE QUOTE:
Sorry… None available…

LINKS:
Trailer:

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Film Review: CASINO JACK (2010)

Casino Jack - poster Director: George Hickenlooper
Running time: 108 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15

Genre: Drama/Biopic/Politics
USA Release date: 17th December 2010 (limited)

Watched on Sky+ Sunday 23rd October 2011.

PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.

I must admit I knew nothing about Jack Abramoff before seeing this film. I’m guessing his story caused quite a scandal in the corridors of power in Washington DC at the time. I have never taken much of an interest in American politics, it seems very complicated to me and this film hasn’t really changed my view. It’s opened my eyes somewhat, but it only goes to show just how cutthroat a business modern politics is! I will give you my thoughts on this one after a very brief summary.

Casino Jack - 1 This film tells the very recent story of Jack Abramoff and his associate, Michael Scanlon. They were lobbyists under the Bush administration. Their job was to find companies or organisations that wanted or needed changes in legislation. They would then, for a substantial fee, approach the various politicians they needed to get the job done. The wheels were often greased with large donations to re-election campaigns or similar. All of what I’ve said so far is, I believe, perfectly legal. The film tells us about their dealings with various Native American tribes and how they defrauded them out of large amounts of money in order to secure gambling rights. There is more to tell, but I’d better leave it there or the Spoiler Police will be charging me with misconduct.

Casino Jack - 2 Although I found the film a little hard to follow I did enjoy the performances or both Kevin Spacey as Jack Abramoff and Barry Pepper as Michael Scanlon. As I’ve already said, US politics is not a beast I usually confront and I’d like to say that this film convinced me otherwise, but sadly it didn’t. I found most of the characters quite despicable (no real surprise there though) and the way they go about their business quite deplorable. The film itself is pretty well made and the plot does make sense after a while, after several of the threads begin to pull together. I can’t exactly say it had me gripped, but it was quite well made and Kevin Spacey did a pretty good job in the leading role. Sadly it’s not one I’d recommend unless you’re really into American politics, or really have to see all of Kevin Spacey’s films.

My Score: 5.4/10.

IMDb Score: 6.3/10 (based on 6,457 votes at the time of going to press).
http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt1194417/

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 36/100 (based on 90 reviews counted at the time of going to press).
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/casino-jack/

If you’re crazy enough… You can find me on Facebook at:
http://facebook.com/andy.steel3

Casino Jack - 4 FAVOURITE QUOTE:
[first lines]
Jack Abramoff: You know, I do a shitload of reading and studying and praying, and I've come to a few conclusions I want to share. People look at politicians and celebrities on the TV and the newspapers, glossy magazines - what do they see? "I'm just like them." That's what they say. "I'm special. I'm different. I could be any one of them." Well guess what, you can't. You know why? Cause in reality, mediocrity is where most people live. Mediocrity is the elephant in the room. It's ubiquitous. Mediocrity in your schools. It's in your dreams. It's in your family. And those of us who know this - those of us who understand the disease of the dull - we do something about it. We do more because we have to. The deck was always stacked against us. You're either a big leaguer, or you're a slave clawing your way onto the "C" train. Some people say Jack Abramoff moves too fast. Jack Abramoff cuts corners. Well, I say to them, if that's the difference between me and my family having the good life and walkin' and using the subway every day, then so be it. I will not allow my family to be slaves. I will not allow the world I touch to be vanilla. You say I'm selfish? Fuck you! I give back. I give back plenty. You say I - I got a big ego? Fuck you twice! I'm humbly grateful for the wonderful gift that I've received here in America the greatest country on this planet. I'm Jack Abramoff. And oh, yeah, I work out every day.

Casino Jack - 3 LINKS:
Official Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/casinojack
Official Site: http://casinojack-movie.com/
Trailer:

Film Review: THE AMERICAN (2010)

The American - poster Directors: Anton Corbijn
Running time: 105 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15

Genre: Crime/Drama
UK Release date: 26th November 2010

Watched on Sky+ Sunday 23rd October 2011.

PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.

First of all, sorry it’s a bit of a short review this time… So many films, so little time! From the same director who brought the most excellent (IMO) Control (2007), this deliberately slowly paced thriller is quite a treat… if you’re in the mood. Don’t get me wrong, it’s far from perfect, but I’ll tell you more about its faults later. Here’s a very brief summary first.

The American - 2 After an incident in Sweden, assassin Jack is told by his handler, Pavel, to hide out in a small town in rural Italy. Now calling himself Edward, whilst there he is commissioned to manufacture a weapon for the mysterious Mathilde. He also forms friendship with the local priest, Father Benedetto and more than a friendship with a prostitute, Clara, but his enemies are closing in. There, short and concise… I can only hope the Spoiler Police are happy with that one! Don’t like the thought of them sending someone after me.

The American - 4 The film hangs very much on the performance of George Clooney as Jack/Edward and he really nails on a great one here! Also worthy of note were; Violante Placido as Clara, Thekla Reuten as Mathilde and Paolo Bonacelli as Father Benedetto, all were also excellent. An honourable mention goes to Johan Leysen as Pavel.

The American - 3 A very slow and deliberate pace to this film makes for an absorbing watch. I know many will not agree, but I found it quite entertaining. As I said at the beginning, it’s got some faults, one being that I found the occasional subtitles very hard to read. A very small font tucked away at the bottom of the screen really didn’t work! Apart from that, quite an enthralling plot drags the audience in and takes them into Jack’s dangerous world. I liked it!... Recommended (but it’s not for everyone).

My Score: 7.0/10.

IMDb Score: 6.5/10 (based on 36,480 votes at the time of going to press).
http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt1440728/

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 66/100 (based on 206 reviews counted at the time of going to press).
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/american/

If you’re crazy enough… You can find me on Facebook at:
http://facebook.com/andy.steel3

The American - 1 FAVOURITE QUOTES:
Pavel: And above all... don't make any friends, Jack. You used to know that.

Father Benedetto: A man can be rich, if he has God in his heart.
Jack: I don't think God is very interested in me, Father.

Clara: [speaking to Jack] You are a good man but, you have a secret.

LINKS:
Official Blog (by Anton Corbijn): http://focusfeatures.com/profile/anton_corbijn
Official Site: http://focusfeatures.com/the_american
Trailer:

Film Review: CONTAGION (2011)

Contagion - poster Director: Steven Soderbergh
Running time: 106 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 12A

Genre: Drama/Sci-Fi/Thriller
UK Release date: 21st October 2011

Watched at the cinema Saturday 21st October 2011.

PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.

I only decided to go and see this one after hearing a review on the radio. Prior to that I was undecided because I hadn’t really heard much feedback on it. But having made the decision I settled into my seat at my local cinema and hoped that those guys on the radio knew what they were talking about. Well, it started and went along quite calmly… I wasn’t too bothered; the various threads of the story were being introduced at this stage. It’s still fizzing along quietly for quite a while before things start to get a bit exciting. From then on it does pick up the pace a bit and I could finally see what the guys on the radio were talking about. Here’s a new (and improved) summary before I give you more of my thoughts.

Contagion - 4 It all starts on Day 2. A woman, Beth Emhoff, is at an airport, returning home from a trip to Hong Kong… and she’s not feeling well. From here we see outbreaks in various parts of the world and we begin to pick up other threads. In Atlanta, Georgia the head of the CDC, Dr. Ellis Cheever, begins to see a potential problem and sends one of his agents to Minnesota where help is needed. A blogger, Alan Krumwiede, picks up on the story and uses it to enhance his reputation online. We pick up the story on the sick woman’s husband, Mitch Emhoff, and his daughter, Jory, (from a previous marriage) and how events affect them. At the World Health Organisation in Geneva, Switzerland an official, Dr. Leonora Orantes, is sent out to Hong Kong to try and discover the source of the outbreak. There are more, minor, threads to this story but these are the main ones. As to the plot, well I really don’t want to say too much about that or the Spoiler Police will be measuring me up for a rhesus monkey suit.

CONTAGION I have to say that Steven Soderbergh assembled a really great cast for this one! Almost everyone who’s anyone has a role (it seems); Gwyneth Paltrow as Beth Emhoff and Matt Damon as Mitch Emhoff were both excellent, as was Laurence Fishburne as Dr. Ellis Cheever and Kate Winslet as Dr. Erin Mears. I thought Jude Law did a great job as Alan Krumwiede (despite a very strange accent). Also worthy of praise was Marion Cotillard as Dr. Leonora Orantes; she was her most excellent best (as ever). Honourable mentions go to Elliott Gould as Dr. Ian Sussman and Bryan Cranston as Lyle Haggerty.

CONTAGION It’s a slow burner but it does eventually pick up. It won’t be to everyone’s taste, but I quite liked it, mostly, it must be said, for the acting talent on display and their abilities. I’m sure lesser known actors would have done a competent enough job but this cast takes it to another level. I did feel that there was maybe one too many threads to follow, but it’s all done quite well as we see the effect this global virus has on society. There is a bit at the end which explains how the contagion started and I really wish that scene had been missed out; it wasn’t relevant (to me anyway). Over all though, an interesting film that’s quite slow to start with, but picks up pace eventually. A stellar cast gives it a boost but it’s really a very well made ‘B Movie’ with aspirations (IMO)… Even so… Recommended (although it won’t be to everyone’s taste).

My score: 7.2/10

IMDb Score: 7.2/10 (based on 12,586 votes when this review was written).
http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt1598778/

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 84/100 (based on 209 reviews counted when this review was written).
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/contagion_2011/

Contagion - 2 FAVOURITE QUOTES:
Dr. Ian Sussman: Blogging is not writing. It's just graffiti with punctuation.

Alan Krumwiede: It's a bad day to be a rhesus monkey.

Contagion - 5 LINKS:
Official Site: http://contagionmovie.warnerbros.com/index.html
Trailer:

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Film Review: EASY A (2010)

Easy A - poster Directors: Will Gluck
Running time: 89 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15

Genre: Comedy/Teen
UK Release date: 22nd October 2010

Watched on Sky+ Saturday 22nd October 2011.

PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.

As some of you may know, I’m not big on comedies. It may be because I have a peculiar sense of humour, but, for the most part, what Hollywood thinks is funny is usually antipodean to my opinion (bet you’re looking up what ‘antipodean’ means now). I’ll still keep trying them out form time to time though… you never know, there just might be someone out there in ‘La La land’ on the same wavelength as me! And so we come to ‘Easy A’; a teen comedy (not encouraging so far), all about a girl of (alleged) easy virtue (still not encouraging, but hey, I’ve come this far…). Well, despite many misgivings, I must say it wasn’t half as bad as I thought it might be (& that’s high praise from me!… for a comedy). Now, since I’ve been accused of giving too much away in my plot summaries, I will just give you the very briefest outline of what it’s about (you’ll probably get more from the trailer than I usually give away… but, (sigh), if I’m getting complaints I guess I’d better pare it down a tad or 12).

Easy A - 1 Olive Penderghast is at high school and she lies to her friend, Rhiannon, about sleeping with a boy (for reasons I won’t go into). As they do, rumours spread like wildfire, and before she knows it, Olive finds herself with an unwanted reputation. The question is… what is she going to do about it?... So there you go, the new and improved ‘outline’… Hope you liked it and I didn’t spoil the entire movie for you… If I did then you have my profound apologies.

Easy A - 6 I said earlier that I didn’t find this film too bad, well, I might even go so far as to say I actually enjoyed parts of it quite a bit! I thought Patricia Clarkson as Rosemary (Olive’s mother) and Stanley Tucci as Dill (her dad) provided a great comic foil for her character. Her favourite teacher, Mr Griffith, played by Thomas Haden Church, and his wife, played by Lisa Kudrow, also added another dimension to the piece. Of course, it was Emma Stone, as Olive, that held the whole thing together, and I thought she put in an excellent performance. Honourable mentions go to; Malcolm McDowell as Principal Gibbons, Penn Badgley as Woodchuck Todd, Amanda Bynes as Marianne, Dan Byrd as Brandon and Aly Michalka as Rhiannon.

Easy A - 5 A witty script with some great dialogue made a welcome change from many recent (so called) comedy efforts I’ve seen spewed out of ‘tinsel town’ in recent years. It also has a pretty good soundtrack with some tunes even I recognised! There is a minor problem with it though… The way Olive chooses to deal with her problem is dragged on a bit too long and after a while it gets a bit monotonous. Fortunately it picks up though and it got saved from a lower score by a rather cool ending (sorry… no clues). Over all, although not perfect, I found this a witty, pretty well written and entertaining comedy… Recommended.

My Score: 7.1/10.

IMDb Score: 7.1/10 (based on 61,651 votes at the time of going to press).
http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt1282140/

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86/100 (based on 174 reviews counted at the time of going to press).
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/easy-a/

If you’re crazy enough… You can find me on Facebook at:
http://facebook.com/andy.steel3

Easy A - 4 FAVOURITE QUOTES:
[first lines]
Olive Penderghast: The rumours of my promiscuity have been greatly exaggerated.

Woodchuck Todd: Screw all these people, Olive!
Olive Penderghast: Haven't you heard? I already did.

Rosemary: Not to mention how have you been dressing this past few day. No judgement, but you kind of look like striper
Olive Penderghast: Mom!
Dill: [to Olive] A high-end stripper, for governors or athletes.

Easy A - 2 LINKS:
Official Site: http://www.sonypictures.com/homevideo/easya/
Trailer: