Tags: film

Dublin

Film 2008

Yes I'm still doing reviews of 2008. I only managed 28 films last year, as recorded on 52 Film Challenge. Barely over halfway!

1. I Am Legend - Misjudged CGI but darker and less linear than expected.
2. Charlie Wilson's War - Political black comedy with Sorkin's trademark wit.
3. No Country for Old Men - Quiet, deliberate and gripping. Great dialogue.
4. Sweeney Todd - Every inch a traditional musical, just a really macabre one.
5. 3:10 To Yuma - Interesting characters but the ending feels unearned.
6. Flags Of Our Fathers - Thoughtful but meandering.
7. Letters From Iwo Jima - Beautiful and powerful though not quite a classic.
8. The Lives of Others - Bleak yet life affirming.
9. Iron Man - Effortlessly propped up by Robert Downey Jr.
10. Michael Clayton - Numb but quietly satisfying thriller.
11. Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull - Nostalgic but misjudged.
12. Cloverfield - More like a First-Person Shooter than a film.
13. Jumper - Even more under-developed than you'd expect.
14. Enemy of the State - Flips from conspiracy thriller to actioner much too abruptly.
15. The Wind That Shakes The Barley - Strong IRA tale with an awkward second half.
16. Hollywoodland - Noirish and melancholy. In a good way.
17. The Bourne Ultimatum - Consistently entertaining but never raises your heart rate.
18. The Dark Knight - Hardboiled organised crime flick with supervillains.
19. The Searchers - Stunning cinematography but dated and uneven.
20. Hellboy 2: The Golden Army - Fantastic art design, cartoonish characterisation.
21. Transformers - Moronic.
22. Them! - Admirably naturalistic, but very slow.
23. Pi - a deeply weird, stylistically beautiful movie.
24. Futurama: The Beast With A Billion Backs - hilarious in places, but runs out of steam.
25. Wanted - so hugely over-impressed with itself you just want to slap it.
26. Seraphim Falls - a sparse Western about vengeance and forgiveness.
27. The Day The Earth Stood Still (the remake) - preachy but still interesting.
28. Quantum of Solace - Decent Bond flick, but always in the shadow of Casino Royale.

We also caught up with a fair few rewatches. Over the Christmas period I ended up watching A Muppet Christmas Carol, Patrick Stewart's A Christmas Carol, and Bill Murray's Scrooged. That's quite enough epiphanies for one year.

Dublin

At the Movies

The second trailer for Watchmen is out. (There are some new posters too.) I know that movie trailers are filled with Lies, but impossibly it looks like they may actually have succeeded in adapting the graphic novel for the big screen. That's a very nice trailer indeed. Director Zack Snyder's 300 was so slick and hollow that I do worry whether this will turn out to be an exercise in obsessive visual style over substance, but some of the dialogue scenes in the trailer hint otherwise. The source material is far richer and more thematically complex than 300 (which is, when all's said and done, a fairly trite, macho, sexist and homophobic work). What's clearly intact in the Watchmen trailer is the deconstruction of what it means to have superhuman beings or vigilantes in a more flawed, realistic and political world.

I notice that the film is R rated, which is a bold move since that'll severely restrict its potential audience. By comparison, The Dark Knight was a 12A (even though that nasty little pencil scene alone should have pushed it to a 15 for me). The fact that they've gone with such a box-office-denting rating shows at least some artistic integrity is involved. Also the official Watchmen site currently crashes my browser. Yes, that's how hardcore this film is.

Quantum of Solace director Marc Forster will direct the movie version of World War Z from a script by J Michael "Tin Ear" Straczynski. Not 100% sure what to make of this but my wife loved the book and the script has at least one glowing review. jms is also scripting a remake of Forbidden Planet, an idea so wrongheaded that even he thinks he's walking on hallowed ground.

Finally, an image has been released of the new Starship Enterprise from the semi-reboot Star Trek movie. Casual viewers would probably shrug and say this looks exactly like every other picture of the Enterprise they've seen. Devoted fans have unleashed the kind of lack-of-perspective hate-storm not seen since Daniel Craig's hair was deemed to be the wrong colour for Bond. (Although at least that fan implosion focused on the main role, not just a bit of hardware.) I kinda like the new design myself, but I don't love it. It's growing on me. There's also an image of an earlier generation of starship from the movie, as well as heaps of cast images. It'll either be awesome, or an utter disaster.

Dublin

Bleargh

The moment I started my holidays last Saturday I started coming down with the lurgy. Funny how often that happens. So even though I'm on holiday this week I'm also bunged up and feeling like the back of my throat has been sandpapered (or, occasionally, chiselled). Since I'm not up to much therefore, here are a few things that, in my delirium, I mentally logged as worth telling someone. You be the judge.

The saga of Tom McRae's website continues. It's now in Australia. No really.

This story about the MMR vaccine scare on Bad Science is actually an excerpt from Ben Goldacre's new book. It's also a fantastically rational account of how irrational the media can be in their quest to sensationalise a story.

Frost/Nixon is a movie that wasn't on my radar. What were the chances that anyone, let alone Ron Howard, would make a Hollywood movie out of David Frost interviewing Richard Nixon? It's hard to know what to make of it. The trailer paints the film as a mixture of political drama and David vs Goliath feel-good story, in the general neighbourhood of Charlie Wilson's War. Michael Sheen looks great as Frost, and Frank Langella seems okayish as Nixon. Other eclectic cast members include Oliver Platt (White House Counsel Oliver Babish on The West Wing) and Matthew "Tom from Spooks" McFadyen. (Plus it has Kevin Bacon in it, so given how ubiquitous Michael Sheen is this should blow the Kevin Bacon game wide open.)

No Heroics is a new sitcom centred around off-duty UK Superheroes. The trailer looks surprisingly okay, albeit sex-obsessed, particularly given that this is airing on that great sitcom purgatory, ITV.

Lastly, what is up with those camera zooms that punctuate Evan Davis's every sentence at the start of Dragon's Den? It's like the camera operator just ate an entire keg of Smarties and can't calm down.

Dublin

Books 5 to 9

I last did a books post waaay back in February. It's fair to say my pace has slowed a bit since then, but I'm still doing much better than last year.

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Between the two Chandlers and the Chabon I feel like I've been on a bit of a crime kick recently. Since I'm currently reading the fourth Marlowe novel it doesn't look like it'll end any time soon.

(Films 9 to 19 are here.)

Dublin

Snubs, stubs and subs

The Wire star hits out at Emmys. Sergeant Ellis Carver thinks the Emmys are ignoring his show, and rightly so. I still can't believe that The Wire has never won an Emmy. It does at least have a single nomination this year: Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series for its final episode. Maybe that means it'll get the 'lifetime achievement' sympathy vote.

Fresh from last month's Ben Folds gig, we now have tickets to see Counting Crows supported by Ben Folds in December. This is good. Counting Crows' latest has some strong return-to-form stuff on it but has left me a bit cold overall. Nonetheless the combination of Crows and Folds is pretty much a slam-dunk. Folds has a new album Way to Normal out on 30th September which sounds a good deal more up tempo than anything he's done since the first couple of Ben Folds Five albums.

Hot on the heels of The Dark Knight (spoilery review here) there are preview screenings of Hellboy 2: The Golden Army on 5th August, so we have tickets to see that too. This is double plus good. My Cineworld Unlimited membership is a process by which I willingly allow Cineworld cinemas to scam £12 from me every month in return for me not going to the cinema. To add insult to injury, even though I only found out about the screenings through their Unlimited newsletter, my membership doesn't let me book advance tickets. So I've paid for the tickets. I really should cancel that membership...

The trailers for Hellboy 2 look a bit mediocre but I sense there's a good film hiding behind the crappy marketing. Plus I like the comics and really enjoyed the first flick and Janet is a sucker for dark mythological faerie types, so really the film is pandering to us shamelessly.

Dublin

Ooh

Not entirely sure about this poster as a design, but how perfect is Zachary Quinto as Spock?



That's Eric Bana with the tatoos, although it's pretty hard to tell. Plus Chris Pine as Kirk and Zoe Saldana as Uhura. TrekMovie.com has more details.

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In unrelated news, today City Link delivered a parcel, to our door, while we were in. They knocked and rang the bell. I believe this means the apocalypse is nigh.

Dublin

Trailers

Assorted movie trailers:

Watchmen. The trailer is a strange mix of extremely faithful images, overly stylised slow-mo and slightly unreal visual effects. I think I sorta like it. (EDIT: now working.)

Outlander. A spaceman crashes in an ancient norse village while hunting an alien creature. The Vikings do battle. The Vikings are led by John Hurt... ...I *know*. I may have finally lost my grip on reality but this looks really entertaining, in a "Vikings vs. Predator by way of Chronicles of Riddick" way.

Terminator Salvation. This looks surprisingly promising for an unnecessary sequel, but really it's just a mixture of Christian Bale and some images taken wildly out of context. A teaser trailer in other words.

Quantum of Solace. Hmm. Could be good. I loved Casino Royale, and it feels a bit strange saying this about one of the longest-running movie franchises in history, but it remains to be seen if they can catch lightning in a bottle a second time.

Oh and of course not forgetting:


Dublin

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Will Ferrell and Sacha Baron Cohen are making a spoof Sherlock Holmes movie (as Watson and Holmes, respectively). This is almost certainly a bad idea, but as usual they failed to run it past me before greenlighting the project.

Meanwhile Guy Ritchie is making a not-spoof Sherlock Holmes movie. Or not intentionally spoof, anyway, since this is the previously reported "sexed up" version emphasising Holmes's bare-knuckle boxing skills. Insert "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Jackets" joke here. On the other hand Robert Downey Jr. is playing Holmes, which makes me all intrigued. And afraid. And intrigued. And afraid.

Meanwhile David Simon will be following the incomparable The Wire and the upcoming Generation Kill miniseries with Treme, an HBO pilot for a series set in post-Katrina New Orleans; details of which can be found in this excellent and detailed article about Simon in the New Yorker (which contains some spoilers for the fifth season of The Wire).

Joss Whedon has an online webisode supervillain-musical thing called "Dr Horrible's Sing-along Blog" starring Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion and Felicia Day. Trailer, article and review. It looks strangely awesome.