Saturday, 13 August 2011

Exit Through The Gift Shop: Street Art.

Watching Exit Through The Gift Shop has really opened my eyes to the new craze that is known as street art. Prior to watching I had heard a little bit about Banksy and seen some of his work, but this has really made me more aware of the actual talent that is involved in the art form.

A lot of hard work and risky dedication goes into making this graffiti so wonderful. As well as Banksy, there are many artists out there who have made a name for themselves stamping their trademarks all around the world.

Space Invader uses old pieces of Rubik Cubes to create images form the classic arcade game. His pieces can be found on buildings, walls and bridges everywhere.

Shepard Fairey's 'Obey Giant' campaign has become a national phenomena, intended to raise curiosity and make people question the relationship they have with their surroundings. His trademark piece has taken the basic outline of Andre the Giant and simplified it down to give it the menacing, intriguing attire that Fairey has become known for.

The work of MBW or Mr Brain Wash - the man that Exit Through The Gift Shop centres around. Thierry Guetta is a man obsessed with filming everything. He has no purpose or reason for this, he simply does so because he likes to capture the moment. Cousin to Space Invader, he soon becomes fascinated with his art and the work he does throughout the city. Thrown into the world of street art, Thierry is obsessed with the workings and technicalities that take place in order to ensure the piece is displayed in it's fullest form in various places throughout the city. After capturing several renown artists, Thierry becomes obsessed in his mission to track down Banksy and capture the makings of his work. Call it luck, fate or coincidence, but the two just so happened to be magically thrown together.

Banksy encourages Thierry to showcase some of his own works (above) in a gallery show, which proves to be an instant success, making MBW the new must have piece for any contemporary art collector.

Exit Through The Gift Shop is a very fascinating documentary. The footage that Thierry has collected makes for excellent viewing. It is really special being able to witness the making of some of these contemporary artist's greatest works. Although the form of art is obviously sketchy in terms of legality, the documentary really helped to highlight the dangers the artists are faced with and the serious risks should they get caught. Even though Banksy helped make the documentary and featured in it...he was very cautious at concealing his identity, facially and vocally.

Through the means of one man and his camera, we really are able to see a charming insight into the intrinsic and amazing world of street art. There can be no qualms as to why this saw a nomination at the Oscars, however I do believe that it's more of a one trick pony. It is a documentary that I found insightful and enjoyed to some degree, but one that I am not likely to view again in the near future. It by no means is my favourite of the year. I would regard Catfish much higher, but perhaps that's because the medium behind that are more accomplished in film making and so were able to produce a more elegant, well rounded piece.

My eyes now on will be peeled for the works of street artists. I hope to see a Banksy in real life one day. A very unusual talent that is heavily under appreciated by the masses. I give the documentary overall a 6/10.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Leonardo Dicaprio

If any of you know me, then you will understand just how much I love this man. I am honestly surprised it has taken me this long to write a tribute to him.

Leonardo Dicaprio has been firmly on my radar since the release of Titanic, however that was only ever because of his boyish charm and good looks. It took me until I was about 19 (2years ago) to truly see this man in a different light. Although I must admit that he has aged very gracefully, the reason he is now firmly on my radar is due to the immense talent he possesses.

There can be no doubt that Dicaprio is one of this generations finest actors. By tracking his filmography you can see the amazing talent he had at such a young age and how from there he has grown from strength to strength. Although he made many appearances throughout his teen years, his first most notable performance would have to be his portrayal of Tobias Wolf in This Boy's Life. Working alongside one of Hollywood's most established actors, Robert De Niro, there is no doubt that Dicaprio had to act his ass off in order to help carry the film, a challenge that he was more than ready to accept and conquer.

After having the honour of starring alongside such a great, Dicaprio succeeded in doing so again a year later, with Johnny Depp in What's Eating Gilbert Grape. Although I have a firm hatred for Juliette Lewis, there is still no doubt that working alongside established actors as such must have been an intimidating prospect. Dicaprio's portrayal of an autistic boy Arnie was however exceptionally good and is without a doubt one of my favourite performances of his. His stellar talents were not gone unnoticed as the Oscar season saw him nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. A nomination he undoubtedly deserved.

Although after this Dicaprio added some more great roles to his repertoire including the desriable Romeo in Lurhamann's Romeo and Juliet, and working alongside Meryl Streep in Marvin's Room, it was Titanic that gained him the attention of the rest of the world. 

Dicaprio embodied everything that we want from a romantic hero. He possessed the right look, the right physique and combined it together with the right amount of charm. Although Kate Winslet's performance was stunning, there is no question that for every girl watching, Dicaprio stole the show for them -  creating an instant, intensifying amount of lust. As well as holding a firm place on bedroom walls, Dicaprio had firmly asserted himself in Hollywood.

After working with the amazing Danny Boyle in 2000 for The Beach, Dicaprio followed in De Niro's footsteps and signed up for his first collaboration with Martin Scorsese. Gangs of New York is everything you would expect from a Scorsese film and almost as far away from Titanic as you can get. Dicaprio showed he was willing to embrace a new direction, much similar to Depp when he decided to collaborate with Tim Burton. Proving he was versatile and capable of tackling more diverse roles, Scorsese has kept a close relationship with the actor teaming up with him on later projects including The Aviator, Best Picture winner The Departed and more recently Shutter Island. All of which hit box office success and let Leo prove to the public why he deserves to be as highly regarded as he is today.

Edward Zwicks 2006 film Blood Diamond pushed Leo in the direction of the Oscar buzz again. It is impossible to believe that anyone who has seen him in this can deny how phenomenal he is in it. Sadly, up against a lot of amazing competition, Dicaprio was left yet again without the Oscar he truly deserves. However it is a very safe and likely assertion to assume that with his career flying even higher than before and continuing to soar, he will one day get his Oscar.

Not only did 2010 see Leo dominate in Shutter Island, but it also saw him star amongst a phenomenal cast of talented young actors in Christopher Nolan's massive summer mind-fuck-of-a-blockbuster Inception. The public reception that Inception received was hugely positive. There is no doubt that Dicaprio is very wise when making the choices that is right for his career. He works alongside very respectable members of Hollywood thus only enabling him to move further forwards rather than heading in reverse. Every decision Dicaprio makes enhances his career and judging by the calibre of directors he's worked with, he is obviously a highly regarded and valued actor in Hollywood.

What's next for Leo?

He is heavily rumoured as the villain in Tarantino's new flick. Working alongside Tarantino seems like another smart move for Dicaprio. I am very excited about seeing how he will tackle this new style and adapt to role.

What would I like from Leo?

Aside from marriage and beautiful children, I would love to see him collaborate with Darren Aronofsky. Dicaprio is amazing at portraying an unstable psychological state of mind. He blew me away in The Aviator doing such and there is no doubt that the artful direction Aronofsky gives would heavily compliment Dicaprio's acting style. But whatever he does, I have every confidence that he will not disappoint. He is a true great and has contributed masses to the film industry. I look forward to his AFI lifetime acheivement award which in another twenty years he will undoubtedly deserve.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011


Everything about this idea captivated me. It projected the idea of an interesting premise made for fun viewing. Whilst I did find it pretty entertaining, there is a lot wrong with this film. It would seem that Limitless indeed has it's Limits.

Neil Burger tries to capture the story of writer Eddie (Bradley Cooper), whose life has become one mental block. He is struggling to start his new novel, keep his girlfriend and retain any fulfilment in his life. This all changes when he bumps into his ex wife's brother, who offers him a pill unlike any other. With nothing to lose, Eddie takes this pill which soon unlocks his brains potential making him capable of remembering things he thought he'd forgotten and giving him the motivation to accelerate his life into a higher gear. Obviously with so much potential, Eddie's career soon moves past novel writing into bigger and better things. However, this isn't all as it seems, with severe side effects to the pill and a high demand from dangerous people in the know of the drug, Eddie's path doesn't run as smooth as he hoped.

The problem with Limitless is that it tries far too hard to be something it's not. It tries to be sleek and stylised which although works to some degree, is used in a far too obvious and heavy way making the film seem quite tacky. Some of the fast camera movements looked cheap and actually made me feel quite nauseous. As a result, a lot of the sophistication within the script was lost.

The script is well constructed. I liked its structure and I liked the interaction between characters. It retains a lot of wit but doesn't try to be a comedy. I quite liked the way it deals with drug addiction. It's quite refreshing to see this about a fictitious drug as it makes the issue seem a bit more original. It's just a shame that this wasn't executed to its full potential. Burger's repertoire is sparse. Although I enjoyed The Illusionist and think his efforts on that were praise worthy, he clearly still has a lot more to learn in the world of filmmaking.

Most surprising to me was that I actually liked Bradley Cooper. I thought he did a pretty good job. We can clearly see his transformation not only through appearance but also through his character portrayal and it has opened my eyes to the potential he might have to be a more rounded actor. The supporting cast was pretty standard. Obviously Robert De Niro was faultless. It's nice to see him relaxing after his intense career and taking on some easier, more light-hearted roles. Abbie Cornish who played Lindy, Eddie's love interest is a tough one to decipher. I don't think it's fair to criticise her greatly because she wasn't bad in her role, but there's something about her I just didn't really like. I didn't warm to her character, I didn't sympathise with her anxiety towards Eddie and I didn't really care what happened to her. So I guess, Cornish probably is to blame in some way for this. Perhaps I would have liked her if it were another actress or perhaps we're just not supposed to care much about her, since it's all scripted around Eddie.

So whilst Limitless didn't give me Goosebumps or have me gagging for its DVD release, it was still fairly entertaining. I really liked the concept of it and it managed to keep me engaged throughout. So although it tries too hard and fails to even get close to its full potential, I'd recommend it for a watch - I just wouldn't urge people to rush out and spend money to see it. 5/10

Joy Ride (Road Kill)

Love and Other Drugs

(500) Days of Summer

Wow. What a very intelligent film. What I was expecting from 500 Days of Summer was a great, entertaining romantic comedy, however what I got was so much more. As it stresses at the start of the film, this is not your average romantic comedy, which in my opinion is so God damn refreshing to hear.

In short, the story follows our protagonist Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and the 500 days that follow after meeting Summer (Zooey Deschanel), a girl who is amazing in every way but doesn't believe in relationships.

This film is incredibly charming. The script is extremely well written and delivers a very engaging premise full of wit and an amazing demonstration of character development. Director Marc Webb has definitely gained my attention. It's a shame his filmography is very sparse, but he demonstrates great promise to his future productions. His direction is incredibly unique and quirky. He manages to fully project the tone the script presents, keeping the stories uniqueness apparent.

The whole film is greatly complimented by the support of solid actors. Zooey Deschanel is amazing in her portrayal of the character Summer and manages to radiate the special qualities Tom sees in her. She is quirky but likeable. Joseph Gordon-Levitt steals the show though. He is definitely the right choice for this role and really demonstrates why we should respect him as an actor. The anguish and raw emotion that is poured into his character is so believable and incredibly touching. He creates a very empathic character, which I believe should greatly be credited towards the charm of the film.

The soundtrack to this is perfect. It suits the tone of the film incredibly well, allowing it to stand out as the quirky romantic comedy it is. The choice of artists that are used follow the mainstream Indie scene, which gives a gentle nod in the direction of Summer's character and how she differs from the pop-culture sheep.

This film is artistic in a subtle and intelligent way. Every component in this film has been produced just right. I was incredibly impressed with how good this film was and how great a job Marc Webb has done. I would highly recommend this film. For me it was a bit of an emotional roller coaster but one that I enjoyed every minute of. It was highly engaging and very heart-touching. A firm favourite. 10/10


Cloverfield has never really been a film I'm that bothered about, I only watched it because I had to for an assignment. But that being said, I actually really really enjoyed it.

I think the plots pretty simple and most people probably know what it's about anyway. But basically New York is under attack by an alien monster and our protagonists are trying to escape. The format of this film is used through the means of the hand-held camera, very Blair Witch esc. This keeps us at a personal level with the characters and makes the action more engaging.

It is safe to say that there is not an awful lot to this plot. It simply seems like an echo of the 911 terrorist attacks, however that being said, I have to say it is still very engaging. Once the monster attacks, the action is constantly fast which makes you unable to switch off. The chaos is paralleled with the unreliable camera source, which simply allows the story to feel a lot more real.

I wasn't necessarily blown away by any of the actors but I didn't hate them either. Most of the lead characters are averagely hot, so I guess they help to hold your attention somewhat. Rob (Michael Stahl-David) and Beth (Odette Yutsman) are both pretty easy on the eyes.

The ending was naturally predictable but that doesn't really matter because this film isn't really about creating twists or leaving you surprised. The main point of the film is to simply demonstrate the monster in our society. How destructive things we depend on are, technology being the main point of reason.

So yeah, I would definitely give Cloverfield a watch. It's very short, (just over an hour) and its filled with mindless entertainment. I don't think I need to give anymore reasons than that. I've already stated that the actors aren't ugly, soooo I'll leave it with you. 7/10

Road to Perdition

Road to Perdition is quite a slow film, but director Sam Mendes packs it full of poetic beauty making it seem worth while.
In short, the story follows Mike Sullivan (Tom Hanks) who is a hit man to crime boss John Rooney. However after his son Michael witnesses one of his killings, he finds himself on the run trying to save his and his son's life, as well as still seeking revenge on those who have wronged him.

So as stated before, this film is a visually stunning piece of cinema. Mendes does a fantastic job with this film and manages to allow us into Michael's mindset, making us understand his fathers relationship with him. He creates a very visual dark tone to the film's entirety, which is a fantastic subtlety that keeps with the plot's content. I particularly loved his use of rain as a motif. It became very emblematic of the dark surroundings within the world of the film and was a great use of pathetic fallacy.

The story itself is an interesting one. Everything about the synopsis screams action, however Road to Perdition is far from that. Whereas running away and revenge are important aspects of this film, the main focus is the relationship between the father and son, and Michael's progression into becoming the echoes of what a good father should be. This allows us as the audience to get emotionally involved on a much deeper level. I think this level of emotion is an important one to have as otherwise the slow pace of the film would get the better of you.

The acting in this is superb from all parts. I don't think it's possible for Tom Hanks to give an unbelievable performance. He was cold and callous at the start but started to radiate some warmth through as the plot progresses. He really is a mark of some of the greatness modern day Hollywood can produce. Paul Newman was outstanding, as was Daniel Craig. I loved how he managed to generate distrust from the introduction of his character, Connor. There was something very subtle written across his face that beautifully sold us his mindset. However, it was the performance of Jude Law as Harlen Mcguire, which I was taken to more. His character is in very little compared to the other leading names, but I was so impressed with how creepy and disgustingly callous Jude Law could be. Anyone who has seen Law's performance in this can't deny that this is deserved praise.

Mendes's film would not have worked without a Thomas Newman score by its side. He is a simply fantastic composer and his score to this is amazing. In a short few seconds, Newman captures every feeling that is present on screen. He allows us to feel the sorrow in a gentle way that keeps the docile movement of the film in tact. (SLIGHT SPOLIER)His main theme to this film comes into play towards the end of the film when Mike takes revenge on Rooney and his gang. This whole scene is the mark of truly talented people. The complete use of non-diegtic sound and the absence of any other during the gunfire really regurgitates the emotion inside of you in an involuntary surge of awe. It makes you physically feel the atmosphere and become totally engaged in the scene.

I have given this the rating I have because although it was visually amazing, heart-wrenching and had one of the best scenes I have seen for a long time, it didn't generate as much enjoyment as I thought it would. It is definitely something I would watch again but not something I am in a hurry to run out and buy. I think the slowness of this is a benefiting factor of that, which although completely works with regards to this film, is not something I personally can fully engage and immerse myself into for 2hours. 7/10