Sunday, 29 August 2010

What's Eating Gilbert Grape (2003)

My rating: 8.5/10.

What's Eating Gilbert Grape is one of those real gems you unexpectedley find. It is amazing to watch how incredibly fantastic Leonardo Dicaprio was during his late adolescence and before his prime. There can definitely be no doubt about whether he deserved the Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. He truly is a demonstration of what a good actor is. Someone that starts off with amazing potential and just manages to grow and develop into the mature actor we know him as today.

The film depicts a working class family in the one-street town of Endora. The Grape's consist of two sisters Ellen and Amy, and two brothers Gilbert (Johnny Depp) and Autistic Arnie (Dicaprio). As well as trying to look after their morbidly obese mother Bonnie, they are also striving to live without a real father figure, lack of a decent wage and the highley dependable Arnie. Our hero Gilbert, being the 'man' of the house is the one that has to sacrifice any want for much of a social life or romance in order to work, whilst simultaneously look after an unpredictable Arnie. This becomes the norm until the freespirit Becky (Juliette Lewis) arrives in town for a few days allowing Gilbert to grasp onto a new direction of life.

Swedish director Lasse Hallstrom really manages to effectively portray the mental claustrophobia of Gilbert's life. He heavily depends on a range of close ups of the character's as the main way of emotion. Luckily the cast is made up of very talented people and so they are able to effortlessly produce Hallstrom's desired reactions with their facial expressions - allowing the subtelty of the film to shine through.
Johnny Depp is of course fabulous. With already having cemented himself into the film world as an established actor, his performance in this really highlights the reason why he's there. His character is believable and he doesn't try too hard to make us like him. It is the reserved method of acting that we see, which allows the creation of the empathy.
I wish I could say the same for Juliette Lewis, however I'm just not a fan. She seems to be the same in everything I've seen her in (which admittedly isn't a great deal) and that 'same' is a monosyllabic, bland, emotionless bore. I just didn't warm to her character at all and felt she offered nothing more to the role than what was written on the script. When she spoke, I felt she sometimes made it sound like her character also had mental difficulties. But aside from her, the rest of the cast were great.

With the location being so small, this film risks the danger of the setting becoming boring, however this definitely does not become the case. Hallstrom efficiently uses the scenery and turns the recurring props into motif's. In doing this, it means the character's are forced to dynamically encorporate them into their portrayal. Matches for example is one thing in particular that Gilbert often uses which also becomes an integral component that drives a lot of the plot's substance forward.

The music to this deserves a lot of credit for the endearing nature the film possesses. It's not a big score, or a bizarre, unexpected arrangement of notes. In keeping with the rest of the tone, it plays with a lot of subtelty as well as providing a softener effect to the harsh realities that the film is showing. It is a beautiful charmer that completely draws you into the world and I believe without it, the film would force you into more of a downward struggle.

Overall, I think this film is a greatly underplayed piece of cinema that highley deserves to be seen - it truly is a great watch. If you don't see this for the story or the film itself, I strongly urge you to see it for Dicaprio and Depp. I think their performances alone are engaging enough to keep your attention throughout.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2009)

My rating: 9/10

Well, I finally got round to watching Niels Arden Oplev's phenomenon and my god what an incredible phenomenon it is.

As most will probably already know, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is the first installment of the adapted 'Millennium' Series. The story is centred around the unresolved disappearance of Harriet Vanger some 40 years prior. Loving uncle Henrik is sure that she has been murdered by one of the Vanger family members but after so many years of investigating, has come up dry. He employs Mikael Bloomkvist to investigate further, and with help from Lisbeth Salander they begin to discover the shocking truths about the Vanger family's past.

Aside from the fantastic scripting, what I enjoyed the most about this film was Oplev's incredible use of lighting. The mood of the scene was captured so effortlessly by the way he displayed the light. He created a shadow effect on objects and character's in many of the scenes which seems like a key device to use within a mystery thriller to portray the unknown. The whole film itself had a dark tone about it that feels necessary in order for it to keep with the genre. It was interesting to see that after the mystery had been solved, everything became much brighter. This use of pathetic falacy is such a simple device but one that I feel always proves to be effective.

As mentioned, another thing I loved about the film was the screenplay and the story line we get from the novels. I particularly enjoyed seeing the development of Lisbeth's character. Her scenes at the beginning of the film with her sadistic boss initially seemed to be a bit unnecessary, however as the story unfolds it becomes quite clear why there is a need for them to be there. Her actions at the end are rectified by her past. I believe that had we not seen this past, her character would seem flat and we would lack understanding as to why she behaves in the way she does.
The actors playing the leads, Lisbeth and Mickael were both fantastic. They were believable as their characters and they provided us with the sense of wanting to go on the journey with them - which is pretty much all you need.
My only flaw with the story would be that the ending felt like a bit of an anti-climax. (SPOILER) After Mickael breaks into Harold's house, he seems far to willing to volunteer the information he knows about the previous killings and the Vanger family. It seemed to me that someone who a moment ago felt that he should keep everything between himself and Lisbeth, should not then go spilling everything to Martin Vanger...regardless of how certain he is that the killer is Harold. The fact that simultaneously, Lisbeth is discovering Martin is indeed the villain we know that Mikael has divulged information to the wrong person. For me, the way that it was Martin who the information was told to, just seemed like an easy and a slightly lazy way of getting the story from where it was to the big finish in the cellar.

I thought the use of music was great. It went against the obvious creepy, mystery thriller stereotype by opting for something that sounded more upbeat. I really liked this mechanism as it enhanced the films pace and gave it a real sense of 'thrill'. The cinematography was fantastic. Some of the Oplev's scenes were really beautiful and breathtaking at points. It all just seemed to look visually perfect on screen.

The very end of this film was very clever. It effortlessly set up it's sequel 'The Girl Who Played With Fire' enough to inform us of what the film will be about but without giving us any idea as to what the actual content will contain.

All in all, this film is by far one of the best films I have seen this year and if the rest of the trilogy live up to the high bar that TGWTDT has set, then in my opinion, it will definitely go down as one of the greatest trilogy's made!

Sunday, 22 August 2010

The Human Centipede (First Sequence)

My Rating: 5/10

Well...what a very strange film. I gave this a fresh rating because I think it doesn't deserve to be rotten and isn't actually ALL bad.

The Human Centipede is pretty much as the title suggests. A great German surgeon captures two lost American girls and a Japanese man holding them captive in his cellar. He then proceeds to create the first human centipede, sewing them together mouth to bum and removing their knee ligaments meaning they are unable to stand up.

As weird as it sounds, this was actually quite entertaining and in parts pretty gruesome to watch purely because the concept is such a sick idea and had me clentching my bum and covering my mouth for the most part because unlike the characters in the film....I could. There are a lot of sick moments in the film that purely are designed to incur your gag reflex. For example, because they are sewn together the two at the back are forced to feed off the excrements of the person in front. So as you can imagine, seeing that happen is pretty disgusting.

Obviously, this film has plenty of flaws and will never win any awards or ever be highly critically acclaimed however with a concept like this it's not really going to. If anything, a group of mates had this sick idea and decided to make it for their own entertainment. It follows the classic horror/gore film conventions with the characters stupidity and the seemingly invincible villain but it wouldn't be much a film if it didn't.

If you're a fan of horror/gore then I would definitely reccomend this as it is an intriguing and entertaining watch and you would certainely never have seen anything like it before.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Moon (2009)

My rating: 6/10

After having heard a lot about this film, I was very intrigued to watch it. So when I saw it on TV I thought I'd give it a go. Whilst I wasn't blown away by this film, I still found it pretty good.

Moon offers a very original script, we are shown our protagonist Sam maintaining the computers for a new source of energy found on the moon. His contract lasts three years and he is up there by himself with the exception of his computer companion Gerty. After suffering an accident, Sam wakes up to find things are strange, he encounters another form of himself who claims to have only been on the project for a week. With a lot of confusion both Sam's start to try and figure out what is going on.

So as you can see, the premise for this film bares no similarity to anything else we've seen. A lot of dependence is placed upon our lead Sam (Sam Rockwell) but luckily that pays off. Rockwell keeps our attention and focus without making us ever feel the need for any other stage presence. Kevin Spacey (Gerty) provides us with a very creepy form of a robot, he is very reminiscent of HAL (2001: A Space Odyssey) We immediate gain the sense of distrust from him.

While on the surface, Moon appears to be a big Sci-Fi mystery thriller, it beholds a lot of darkness about it. Issues of mistrust and anguish bubble deep below and come out in the physical demonstration of the two Sam's fighting. It seems like this could be construed as a metaphor for insanity and what being completely isolated for that amount of time can do to your mind. Another example of this would be right at the beginning, Sam sees something that isn't actually there. Although because it is very insignificant to the rest of the plot, it is easily brushed over and forgotten about.

The music gives way to the eerie atmosphere of the film as well as the loneliness. Many of the notes were single crotchets played by themselves which creates a direct parallel to the Sam's situation and feelings. As well as loneliness, it almost felt creepy which highlighted the substance in the plot.

This film was rated a lot higher by the majority than what I have given it but I feel I have my reasons for this. Although original and engaging, like I mentioned before - it didn't blow me away. There were moments I felt like I should be emotional but just didn't feel anything for the character or situation. The ending for me felt messy and rushed, but maybe that was just me not liking the mystery aspect that was retained until the end. As well as this, I felt it had it's flaws. (SPOILER...) Sam had been through all this anguish to find out the truth, and once he'd found it out he wanted to go back to earth and uncover the lies. But he was willing to leave another clone behind doing the job he'd been awoken to do. Why does he not think that clone will uncover the truths like he did? Surely that would create EVEN more mess?
Another reason why I haven't rated it as highly as most others is the fact I don't really want to watch it again. It's not a film I would buy on DVD or look forward to a second viewing of, a first viewing was enough for me. But it entertained me and so I feel it did its purpose. I would truly rate this a 65% although obviously that isn't possible!

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Last Chance Harvey

My rating: 6/10

Last Chance Harvey is a very endearing film. The Director/Screenwriter Joel Hopkins has quite a sparse repertoire but that aside, he is able to create a film that beautifully responds to the obviously great performances of Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson.

The film itself is fairly simplistic. We are introduced to both our leads Kate (Thompson) and Harvey (Hoffman) separately and are given the necessary background of their life. The main point that is vital to come across is that they are both very lonely people. Kate receives regularly phone calls from her mum and is only too willing to talk, and Harvey is clearly still at a job where his presence is no longer required. Harvey flies to London for his daughters wedding and realises that his presence there no longer seems required since his daughter's Stepdad has replaced that role in her life.
Although Kate and Harvey have had a couple of minor encounters before, they meet properly at the airport bar and form an unlikely friendship.

So the film as a whole is nothing spectacular or amazingly exciting, but like I said before it is endearing. Hopkins script is charming and witty in a nice subtle way. I think the characters are charming and intriguing. This mainly has to do with both of their age. Neither of them are young, or have had great experiences with relationships and so the development of this one with each other makes an interesting watch.
Hoffman and Thompson are able to portray a great kind of awkwardness which is another element that adds a real charm to the film. It is a nice quality to see on screen as this kind of awkwardness is usually depicted most in teen romcoms. Harvey and Kate's first kiss for example is the epitome of an awkward first kiss. But this is nice as it shows how inexperienced and out of touch the two character's are at forming a romantic bond.

Hopkins has chosen some very pretty settings for this film which just adds to the whole appealing nature of the film. Dusk is a common setting, where the sky is pretty. The background often shows a wonderful shot of a beautiful scenery which provides the feeling of romance. The music adds to the charm and gives the film a very uplifting, happy feel. Although a different composer, it is very reminiscent of The Holiday, probably because of the feel good and endearing vibe that it sends out.

The small sub-plot that is included featuring Kate's mum and her Polish neighbour provides a lovely essence and break point to the main. It is a nice layer to add that shows your time for love is never over. This being a message I think is emphasised throughout this films entirety. The wedding of Harvey's daughter demonstrates the ideal path and age of love, Harvey and Kate provides a longer path, and Kate's mum shows that there may be a few wrong turns but affection can still be found.

For me, this feels like a tamer version of An Affair to Remember. The vibe of the film feels the same, especially with the obvious snatch of idea where Harvey tells Kate to meet him in a certain place at a certain time, but doesn't show up due to an accident. I say tamer, because the distance, time and heartbreak that follows in An Affair to Remember is quickly brushed over in this film, providing a quicker ending. But the relationship before this happened hasn't developed that deeply and so seems probable that these things would happen quicker.
Although I enjoyed this film and loved the emotion and charm that it brought, I do feel that it could do with being longer. It felt like it was over before it had really began. The relationship didn't seem to have been given enough time to develop properly and it all seemed like it was forced to happen too quick in order to fit a specific time span (exactly 90mins).

Overall though, it is a lovely film. Hoffman and Thompson provide their typically good performances in showing us two older people finding love later in life. Although the script is not spectacular, it has a nice unique wit and allure to it that simply provides a smile. It's a nice story with nice characters and overall it just makes you feel nice inside. Although I may not be rushing towards a second watch, it is definitely worth a first!

Ferris Bueller's Day Off

My rating: 9.5/10

Ferris Bueller is definitely the ultimate teen comedy around. It is one of those films that can be enjoyed from pre adolescence to heavily post adolescence!

The story is simple, Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) is the best in skipping school and getting away with it. With his best friend Cameron (Alan Ruck) and his girlfriend Sloane (Mia Sara) he basically just does all the things that anyone would do if they could. From singing in a parade, to scamming an expensive restaurant to driving a vintage Ferrari.

So as you can probably expect this film is filled with fun. There are no complexities to it, it's just a light-hearted comedy formed for your enjoyment. Naturally, the skipping school isn't AS easy as they'd have hoped since the school principal is determined to catch him out, as well as his jealous sister who detests the favouritism Ferris receives.

This is undoubtedly one of Broderick's most iconic roles. He plays the youth with such perfection you can't help but get sucked into Ferris's world. Every guy who watches this film will want to be Ferris, and every girl who watches this will want to be Sloane. It is truly a very engaging, feel good film that is very cleverly written.

Ok, so where's the substance? The substance is there in the form of Cameron. He is a depressive youth who misses a lot of school through 'illness'. The film retains some nicety as we see his story play out and reach a resolution.

This really is a must see film. There are may iconic scenes and characters that have been ripped off by many programmes. And as well as this, you cannot avoid the 'Ferris Bueller' references and jokes in many of the other programmes that Alan Ruck is in.

The Tagline to this film was, "While the rest of us were just thinking about it...Ferris borrowed a Ferrari and did it...all in a day". Is there any more needed to be said to capture the essence of this film?

Saturday, 3 July 2010

The Lion King

My rating: 10/10

Ok, so first of all I will start by saying that this is my ALL TIME childhood favourite. I have watched it more than I could possibly count and even bought it on DVD when I had it on video just because it felt criminal not to.

So, it may seem like the review I am writing is obviously going to be biased towards my childhood attitude. However I think that that cannot be further from the truth because anyone who has actually seen this film CANNOT deny how brilliant this film is in everyway.

I will give a brief outline but I am assuming the vast majority of the population have seen this at some point in their life. The lion king follows a young cub 'Simba'. Heir to a thrown that he is manipulated to believe he does not want by his evil Uncle Scar, Simba runs away from his family and friends. Growing into a man with his new best friends Timon and Pumbaa guiding him he eventually ends up going back to claim what is rightfully his.

The Lion King was left to the hands of Disney's C Team as everyone else was sceptical of the idea and didn't think it would be a success. It was the first Disney film that was completely their own idea and what a fantastic job they did of it. The storyline in itself is just incredibley original and manages to be very engaging, humorous and emotional.

All of the character's are amazing and very strong. We are provided with some very famous voices as well that just improve the stength of them even more, Jonathan Taylor Thomas/Matthew Broderick (Simba), Rowan Atkinson (Zazu), Whoopi Goldberg (Shenzi), Jeremy Irons (Scar), James Earl Jones (Mufasa).

The music...Elton John? Need there be anymore said? One of the best soundtracks in a Disney film. Written perfectly to suit the whole mood and feel of the film and its characters. The Circle of Life as an opener? Engaging and sets up the story so brilliantly. 'I Just Can't Wait to be King' being my favourite Disney song of all time. I Defy anyone to not love that song! 'Can you feel the love tonight' - magical song which is perfectly parallel with the magical setting. 'Hakuna Matata' one of the best songs that sums up the sillyness and comedic essence of two characters.

You have probably picked up on my love from this film as even when I'm typing I cannot contain my enthusiasm and love towards it. It is overall such a beautiful film. The storyline is brilliant and it brings up so many emotions. We become attatched to Simba's character as we see him grow physically as well as, as a (I want to say person but I'm thinking the correct word to use here would be Lion?) The songs just capture the essence of the story amazingly and the balance between seriousness and comedy is done to perfection.

This is without a doubt the best Disney film. With regards to the sequels...number 2, fairly entertaining worth a watch. Number 3 - ATROCIOUS! It completely spoils the concept of the first film.

Get Him to the Greek

My rating: 6.5/10

I absolutely LOVED Forgetting Sarah Marshall and so there was no way in hell that I would not go and see this film! What made it even better was that my friend managed to get free tickets to the preview of it!

I was not let down by my high preconceptions. This film just kept on delivering to me and surpassed my expectations. We are thrown into the world of the famous rock star Aldous Snow (Russell Brand) from the beginning and get a quick fill of his life and success. We are then presented with our second lead, Aaron Green (Jonah Hill)as he proposes the idea to his boss Sergio (P Diddy) to host an Aldous Snow reunion concert at 'The Greek'. So, our inciting incident has happened. Aaron has been told he has 3 days to get Aldous Snow from London to LA in time for the concert. Sounds simple, but naturally this film does not follow the rules of simple. Aaron is thrown into a world of Sex, drugs and wild parties which is inevitably completely out of his comfort zone, and inevitably going to provide a lot of laughs.

Get Him To The Greek in my opinion is non stop funny. Having already been acquired to the character of Aldous Snow in Sarah Marshall, there is no question about what to expect. Jonah Hill plays the sort of awkward character you'd expect him too and so the film just delivers with a combination we know will provide a conflicting comedy.

There is no denying that this film is predictable in every way possible, but that works. It is not designed to be a thriller with lots of twists and unexpected turns, it's designed to make us laugh and it is more than likely that at some point it will do so.

I understand that when writing this I am writing fresh from my first viewing of it. I am already aware that this will no doubt have the 'Borat' effect on me. By that I mean, I thought Borat was a continuous laugh out loud film when I saw it at the cinema, however it failed to amuse me as much when I watched it again. Even so, I don't think that factor should falter the film's credibility.

One of the most surprising factors that I was not expecting this film to contain was P Diddy's good performance. His role as Sergio was actually pretty brilliant and I don't think many people would expect him to perform as well as he did. It is this reason as well why the film surpassed my expectations!

Ok, so if I liked it THAT much...why have I only given it 80? The reasons for this is simply because, yes. It is a good, funny film, however as much as I enjoyed it I don't think I can place the quality of it in the same ranking as the likes of LOTR, Shawshank and the other many greats that are out there. It would feel criminal for me to give it 100 because it entertained me with it's comedy, when other films take my breath away so much more with the amazing creativeness and the quality of every other aspect that is putinto it. Get Him To The Greek would be an absolute flop, if it were not for the casting and the script. They are the only good things about this film. And a good job too that they manage to work.

But overall I would recommend this to anyone who has a good sense of humour and appreciates this style of comedy. I won't be rushing out to see it again any time soon, but that is simply because I don't want to ruin the great memory the first impression has left in my mind!

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

The Game

My rating: 4/10

After being impressed with David Fincher's dark film noir, 'Seven', I expected great things from this. What I got however, was an impressive, original idea, and an intriguing mystery all carried out with an unimpressive script and a big lack of momentum.

In 'The Game' we are presented with an uptight businessman Nicholas, (Michael Douglas) who after being given an unusual birthday present by his less than average brother (Sean Penn) becomes the player in a very extreme, real life game. As the game unfolds we see Nicholas's slow descent into the mind of a paranoid madman.

As you can see, the idea retains a great amount of originality and sounds like the perfect mixture for an intense thriller. I wish that I could say that this is what is delivered. It starts off very slow in an attempt to set us up with Nicholas's character. Although it is necessary to see Nicholas's mundane uptight lifestyle, this becomes pretty mundane to watch. Flash forward several long minutes later and the game begins. At this point, we see Nicholas receiving a key through the elaborate use of a clown outside his house as well as instructions on the rules of the game.

Once the action starts properly, the film feels very promising. However as it begins to unfold, it just becomes a bit boring and not that engaging. Whereas with 'Seven' the intrigue and chase of the film leaves you in a state of anticipation as to what is going to happen next, The Game manages to bare no such resemblance. It became fairly predictable and was frustrating how Nicholas's character kept changing. One minute his house had been broken into and although freaked out, he seemed pretty aware that this had something to do with the game. As the audience this made me aware of everything else and how anything could be part of his game - something that it seemed Nicholas had already worked out. Nicholas's however didn't seem to retain this sense of wariness even though we had already seen these snippets of his madness. This is one of the factors that I found hard to believe. His character is an investment banker, and so trust is something that he cannot afford to rely on too much in his job. However he seemed pretty quick to trust those he didn't even know. It seemed to take him far too long to get to the point where he didn't feel he could trust anyone.

I was quite impressed with the way it ended. I have to admit that I had been fooled as well. However for me, it seemed a far too elaborate scheme just to try and teach him a lesson. I mean, I think if I had been through an ordeal of being shipped off to a foreign place, thinking my whole life had been destroyed, thinking I'd shot my own brother and then being so messed up I wanted to kill myself in the same way my dad had done, that someone simply saying "It was all a game" just wouldn't really cut it. I fail to understand why this would make you relieved and suddenly absorb the insanity that had newly spouted. Fair enough, it certainly would teach you a lesson not to be so uptight, but I think that the rest of your life would be spent recovering and being in a constant state of paranoia. I just didn't find it believable at all.

So overall, although I did enjoy the actual concept and SOME of the 'thrill', I think it was executed very poorly and it seems like the writer was more concerned with 'wowing' the audience with the twist, that they lost all sight of the other details that should have been important to this film.

Lucky Number Slevin

My rating: 7/10

I have to say that for saying when I watched this I hadn't really heard much about it, that I was very impressed!

McGuigan's thriller depicts a mistaken identity scenario in which we see our protagonist, Slevin (Josh Hartnett) mistaken for someone else by two powerful mob bosses. To say much more would be too telling of the plot so I will refrain from revealing any more.

This film paints a very complex idea onto an intelligent script. It maintains clever dialogue that allows our attention to be held throughout its entirety. Ok, so I will admit that although engaging some of the wordy dialogue used does seem a bit unnecessary. It comes across as if it's trying too hard to be sophisticated and clever when really it doesn't need to be as the rest of the film gives it its elegance.

I really enjoyed the direction and cinematography within this film. It has a real beautiful, elegant Sin City feel to it that allows the visual vibrancy to remain engaging. It maintains a quick pace and an air of swiftness is shown between each shot that draws a parallel to the smooth nature of our main character, Slevin.

Slevin's character is great. He is a really charismatic, likeable guy that makes it fun for us to watch and gives us a want to help him. He is a smooth talker but also reatains the form of a clumsy happy-go-lucky person. On our first introduction of him we immediately form empathy as we see his bad day go from worse to catastrophically disastrous. It seems an important thing to be able to feel this for him so immediately as our relationship with Slevin is important, although we don't necessarily understand this importance until the end.

Lucky # Slevin is a very engaging film. The major theme "mistaken identity" in which it draws on is done so on so many levels and we are demonstrated this in a physical, metaphoric and personal way. The cast is great, seeing the likes of Morgan Freeman, Bruce Willis, Ben Kingsley, Josh Hartnett and Lucy Lou all performing to a great standard. It is a really good visual film to see and gives you so much to think about throughout that you are completely drawn into its world.

I was very impressed with what I saw as prior I did not have that high expectations and I definitely think that the camera tricks and editing will become even better on a second viewing since I will already understand the plot!

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Shutter Island

My rating: 8/10

This film had already been sold to me since the very first advert I saw of it on TV. On realising it was the newest release of Martin Scorsese, I didn't feel the need to find out anymore about it. As a result I went to see this film with only two expectations. The first, that I would see Leonardo Dicaprio and the second, that it would be a thriller based genre.

We are thrown into the beginning by seeing our protagonist Edward, (Dicaprio) showing lots of anxiety relating to sea sickness. As a result of being thrown straight into this feeling, we are allowed to feel the sense of uneasiness that we will continue to feel throughout the entirety of the film. We are introduced to Edward's partner, Chuck, soon after in which we see them both arrive on 'Shutter Island'. It is this point that we understand Edward is a federal marshall sent to investigate the disappearance of one of Shutter Island's mental patients.

The film then sends us on a wild goose chase full to the brim with mystery and intregue. We embark upon Edward's journey in which he uncovers conspiracys within the hospital staff and in his attempt to escape and spread the truth about the lies that have been covered up over the years.

Although this film is quite long, it is still a very exciting watch. There is a lot going on throughout it's entirety and we are constantly finding out more about the truth of the characters and the system at Shutter Island, as well as finding out more about Edward's traumatic past.

Scorsese's essence is apparant so much within this film that it is hard not to draw comparisons with the likes of 'Cape Fear'. Both feel quite disturbing to watch and involve particular scenes that are eerie and make us feel uncomfortable. His camerawork is brilliant in following through with the mystery in very subtle ways. He allows suspense to build up and at various points takes his time when revealing a new character, by involving a slow pan until we meet said. The wary way in which this is done can almost be seen as a parallel to the caution that we know is felt by our lead character. It is these subtle details that are included and just slightly add to the whole feeling of the film, that make people like Scorsese become even more credible to me.

It is quite a chilling film to witness at some points with the inclusion of violence, mental health, rats and many moments that are quite scary. However all these things feel necessary in order for the plotline to become more accessable and in order to keep the pace at a fast level of movement and intensity.

The ending, I love (but don't worry I won't spoil it for you) as it leaves us to question. Endings like this are brilliant as it forces you into a discussion about the film after the viewing. And like this film, the more you reflect upon it, the more you realise how good it truely is. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who can appreciate complex storylines and enjoys a good thriller. My expectations that were already high, soared even higher after I had viewed this, I feel I can say with great pleasure it is a very comendable film. Great actors. Great director. Great soundtrack. Great editing. Go see for yourself.

Monday, 8 March 2010


My rating: 9/10

I distinctly remember the release of this film in 2007, and this is for two reasons only. The first was the recently reformed Take That's latest song being the soundtrack to the trailer, and the second was the fact it starred Claire Danes in it of whom I recall thinking that I had heard nothing of since 'Romeo and Juliet' in 1996. The fact that it was only these two factors that remained in my mind shows how much of a rush I wasn't in to go and see this film.

The Second time this film came about into my life was when my dad brought it home on DVD. My mother and himself sat down and watched it one evening and my dad (who's opinion on film I greatly respect) told me it was good. Even so, I still felt apathetic towards it. Had I been in the room with them, then I would most definitely have watched it. However I was not, and so it remained that I did not watch the film.

Flash forward three years later, 'Stardust' makes it's terrestrial premier on Channel 4. Having seen it advertised all week, my boyfriend and I decided that we would watch it. To say the film is good would be an understatement. I have no idea why I had been apathetic towards this film for so many years!

As the name might suggest, Stardust is a very magical film. The film's concept is of a supernatural realm called "Stormhold" that is just on the other side of a wall keeping it separate from England. Our protagonist "Tristan" crosses this wall in an attempt to capture a falling star for the girl, Victoria, who he is devotedly in love with. Although Tristan finds the star, "Yvaine" who is actually a girl, fairly easily, he is not the only one who is after her. Amongst Tristan vying for Yvaine's possession is the decaying witch Lamia who seeks her for eternal youth and immortality, and Septimus. Septimus desires Yvaine as she is wearing a necklace that will be the key to him gaining his father's throne to rule the land.

Yvaine quickly learns of the dangers she is in if she should end up in the wrong hands, so trusting Tristan they set off back to "Wall village" so he can prove his love for Victoria before sending Yvaine home. They encounter a few different people on their adventure, gaining capture aboard Captain Shakespeare's ship (Robert De Niro) and suffering at the hands of the witches. But of course they're journey comes to an end and we eventually see the magical conclusion that we desire.

This film is enchanting from the start. Each corner it takes leaves you burning with desire to see what will happen next and what more magic will arise from this beautiful unknown world. The cinematography is amazing as it creates perfect visually stunning framework that draw parallels with the stunning world of Stormhold and the magnificent fantasies of our minds that it acts out. It is enriched with originality and the complex yet simple script is truly refreshing and brilliant.

The cast is great and has many well known names in, however our protagonist's (Danes and Cox) have been doctored to be more unfamiliar names which I firmly believe is a clever mechanism for drawing us into the characters's likeability instead of being drawn to our own personal opinion's on the actor. With the likes of Ricky Gervais playing a merchant and David Walliams playing one of the dead brothers, we are shown a lot of familiar British comedy that makes the film seem more endearing as we can see the real depths the British writers have managed to incorporate.

Although admittedly there are a few moments which seem a bit too easy, take the moment where Lamia is destroyed, and some which you may think predictable, it still does not hinder the amazing essence the film has as a whole. It's such an exciting adventure to follow and the pace continuously moves quickly that there is not a point that we can look away as in doing so we risk missing something intrinsic to the plot. It leaves you with a great feeling of warmth and magic as well as a big silly grin on your face, and as a result I would most definitely recommend it.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Disney Pixars "Up"

My rating: 9/10

Despite the Oscar nomination and flood of great reviews this film received, there was a very big part of me that still failed to retain any enthusiasm to watch it. It wasn't until my boyfriend forced me into sitting through it with him that allowed me to give it some time. As it turned out, I loved it!

The start is fast with very little dialogue. Although initially this seems a bit unnecessary and strange, it is intrinsic in order to set up the true beginning of the story as well as aiding the purpose behind it. The first introduction of Ellie's 'Adventure Book' is an important part of the rest of the story and so it is necessary for us to understand the idea's and the formality of the book so we can understand the path, our protagonist, Carl chooses to take during the film.

Up is a story about an elderly man who strives to fulfil his deceased wife's lifelong dream of living in "paradise falls" in South America. And so in a bid to achieve this dream, he lifts his house in the air with the aid of helium balloons and flies it to his destination.

Of course this journey is not made easy, as what kind of story would it be if it were? Mid flight, Carl realises he has accidentally set sail with aspiring wilderness adventurer, Russell. Russell is an annoying child with the ability to talk somebody into an early grave. However his positive energy and continuous good nature allows him to be instantly and constantly a very likeable character. His willingness to help Carl even though Carl has shown no warmth to him is truly heart-warming and it is this reason he warms his way into our hearts.

Naturally when they arrive in South America, things don't go smoothly when they are faced with the antagonistic force of Carl's childhood hero, Charles Muntz (Christopher Plummer) who has set his team of dogs out to wipe Carl out at all costs.

Up is a very unique, heart-warming story that touches the surface of many emotions dealing with grief, anger, comradery, betrayal and above all things love. It is truly an engaging story that anyone can enjoy. With talking dogs and a flying house, what child would not love this? It is filled with simple, innocent jokes that both adults and children can enjoy. And the level of depth within the characters is something that allows a great empathetic connection making it a very beautiful and lovely film to watch. The soundtrack is perfectly suited to the film. The music is beautiful and uplifting which creates a direct parallel to the characteristics of this picture.

Sunday, 7 February 2010