Category Archives: Film
Limitless is based on Alan Glynn’s The Dark Fields and stars Bradley Cooper and Robert de Niro in a fight for the top actor in this film. Limitless is energetic and exciting but it lacks the script or the momentum to hold its own against other popular films of a similar genre. It is described as a techno-thriller and is another film among other blockbuster films that are adaptations from novels. It comes as no surprise to audiences that Limitless is a film that is more concerned with action, thrills and cost than it is with real dialogue, with real motivation or with a consideration of moral and ethical positions. Limitless could have been an impressive film, one that explores the neurological impact of enhancement drugs but instead it sells itself short in favour of action and excitement.
There’s no denying that this film is an exciting film, one that grips audiences as Edward Mora (Bradley Cooper) realises the potential of an enhancement drug known as NZT-42 which boosts his intelligence. It’s claimed that “we only use 20% of our brains and this drug can open us up to 100% of our brain” and, in taking this drug, Mora is able to publish a novel and become a millionaire in a matter of weeks. On his tail, however, are others who have had a taste of this drug and want more. The reason? Because the result of not taking the drug is sustained headaches, nausea and, in time, death.
When Mora is drawn to the attention of Carl Van Loon (Robert de Niro), a man who holds large shares in oil companies and is seeking a merger with another oil magnate, what follows is a series of events that are explosive and powerful. Mora is hunted for his large supply of drugs by a number of people, all the while realising that he is on the verge of collapse of his own supply dwindles. Mora is stalked, hunted and assaulted for this drug. It could have been done better. The film could have been done better. There is the exchange between Edward Mora and his ex-wife Melissa (Anna Friel) who we discover has taken NZT and is now “slowed” in her actions, although she doesn’t die. That’s the problem with the film – the script writers haven’t decided what the impact of the drug should be. Does it cause death or does it not cause death?
The truth is that for all the high-octane action it puts it, for all the effort it makes in terms of cinematography, done expertly by Jo Willems, director Neil Burger and producer Leslie Dixon have failed to make a convincing film. The film is little more than a series of events involving Edward Mora interspersed with sub-plots like his relationship with Lindy (Abbie Cornish). Even Robert de Niro’s character seems to have been put in the role to act as a propellant to the main plot – the impact and use of this drug. It’s true that the modern audience is looking for action thrillers, psychological thrillers and horror films but interspersed with those genres are the gems of the film industry like Mark Romanek‘s Never Let Me Go or Brad Furman’s The Lincoln Lawyer.
Films that are adaptations of novels should be looking at the message contained within those works. What Neil Burger and Leslie Dixon have done is to make a potential gem into another action thriller, another film that’s nothing more than chase scenes, expensive restaurants and the occasional gun fight. The film is good but it’s not great and it should have been. This film should have been great.
- Limitless: Movie Review (screencrave.com)
- Limitless (moviestew.wordpress.com)
- Movie Review: Limitless (2011) (pacejmiller.wordpress.com)
- ‘Limitless’ explained: ‘Instead of a nose job, a brain job’ (herocomplex.latimes.com)
- Video Interview: Limitless Director Neil Burger (cinemablend.com)
- Video Interview: Limitless Writer-Producer Leslie Dixon (cinemablend.com)
- Movie Review | Limitless Audio Film Review – Listen Now! (binsidetv.net)
The Lincoln Lawyer is the second film to be directed by Brad Furman whose début, The Take, was well-received by the public and by critics. It is a screenplay adapted from the best-selling novel by Michael Connelly and has at the forefront of its cast popular actor, Matthew McConaughey who stars as Mickey Haller. As the consensus at Rotten Tomatoes has stated, it is a legal courtroom thriller that is predictable and follows the conventions of the genre but is nonetheless set to be a popular and entertaining film among the audiences.The reason that this film will be so popular is because of the excellent acting of the lead actor, McConaughey but he is aided in his performance with notable performances from other popular actors and actresses including Marisa Tomei as Maggie McPherson, Ryan Phillippe as Louis Roulet and William H. Macy as Frank Levin.
The film can be summarised as a courtroom thriller that follows Mickey Haller as he looks to investigate and defend Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillippe) who is accused of GBH (Grievous Bodily Harm) against a woman who later turns out to be a prostitute. As the film progresses, it is revealed that Louis Roulet is a violent and aggressive man who targets women and has murdered them before. The problem for Mickey Haller is that a legal agreement known as “lawyer-client confidentiality” binds him to keep this information secret when Louis Roulet confesses his crimes. Herein lies the problem for Haller – does he risk losing his legal license to ensure the conviction of Roulet for this and earlier other crimes or does he defend a client who he knows is guilty of the crime?
We’d like to believe that the answer is obvious to us. It is better to ensure the conviction of Roulet and lose one’s license than to defend a man who we know to be guilty. For Haller, the decision isn’t so simple. It isn’t so straightforward. The reason? It’s because Haller convicted a man of murder who he now believes is innocent and was set up by Roulet for a similar crime. This is the major problem with the film. If Haller knows that there is a link between this crime and other crimes committed in the past, the moral action would be to confess to this. It is, one would hope, a reasonable course of action that future employers would understand that course and see it is a noble and moral thing to do. He would never be employed by a law firm but it does not limit his options in other films.
He does not follow this course of action. What happens is that Haller begins a number of steps that will make sure that Roulet is proven innocent of GBH and instead arrested for the earlier crime of murder. It is thrilling. It is dramatic. It is powerful. Despite all these things, it is still conventional. There is no intention by Brad Furman to surprise the audience and this could be because he wants to stay true of Michael Connelly’s novel or because he knows that the conventions of a legal thriller are popular with the modern British and American audience. The film, according to blog The Box Office Junkie, will be fighting for the top-spot with Paul (starring David Frost and Simon Pegg) and Limitless (starring Bradley Cooper). The predictions suggest that both Paul and Limitless will gross $15 million at the US Box Office with The Lincoln Lawyer a close third. Regardless of its success at the box office, it is an entertaining film and one that is deserving of the praise it is receiving.
- 8 Biggest Differences Between The Lincoln Lawyer Book And Movie (cinemablend.com)
- “Movie Review: The Lincoln Lawyer (Starring Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei, Ryan Phillippe)” and related posts (buzzfocus.com)
- Movie Review: The Lincoln Lawyer (blogcritics.org)
- ‘The Lincoln Lawyer’: in defense of a smart legal thriller – and a meatier Matthew McConaughey (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Ryan Phillippe Interview THE LINCOLN LAWYER (collider.com)
- Video: Matthew McConaughey Talks Levi and Court at Lincoln Lawyer Premiere! (popsugar.com)
- ‘Lincoln Lawyer’ review: Subpoena of surprises (sfgate.com)
With a host of stars including Matt Damon, Emily Blunt and Terence Stamp, ‘The Adjustment Bureau‘ was expected to be one of the strong performers in this month’s box office releases. Based on the Philip K. Dick short story, ‘The Adjustment Team‘, the film stars Matt Damon as fictional US Senate candidate, David Norris, in an election. When a picture is released that discredits his campaign, he prepares for his speech in the bathroom and meets Elisa Sellas, played by Emily Blunt. In this scene, there is an immediate connection between the two actors and it is boosted through the skilful acting of both Damon and Blunt. As a result of Sellas meeting Norris, he changes his speech and becomes a front-runner for the following election due to be held in 2010. One of the slight problems with this detail is that US Senate elections are held every six years unless there was a recall election, the senator dies or resigns. None of these are given as explanations about why an election is held on four years after Norris’ initial defeat.
What follows is a film that looks at three major themes: fate and the notion of free will; the idea of God and the power of love or the idea of ‘true love’. It is after this speech that we are introduced to ‘The Adjustment Bureau’ when Anthony Mackie, who plays Harry Mitchell, is meant to cause Norris to spill coffee on himself. Mitchell fails in this action and it results in Norris and Sellas meeting again, something that, according to the Bureau, is not meant to happen. The film now follows Norris and Sellas in their turbulent relationship as the Bureau seeks to keep the two apart while ensuring that both follow their own plans. It is here that we start to ask ourselves about the idea of free will, about whether there is an ‘individual plan’ that we must all keep to.
The film is both religious and philosophical in its discussion of this idea. When Mitchell is confronted with his superior, Mr Richardson (played by John Slattery), one of the questions that is asked by Mitchell is “Do you think this is right?” and Richardson responds “Not like I used to”. The lines suggest that there is a philosophical problem: if the Bureau does not have faith in themselves, how can others be expected to follow their own plan? It’s problematic and people will struggle with some of the ideas and questions that it poses to the audience. The Adjustment Bureau is one of the most interesting creations of Philip K. Dick, an organisation that controls and ensures that the lives of important people are kept on track. When Norris asks Mitchell whether the members of this organisation are angels, Mitchell responds “We’ve been called that”. The controller of this organisation, the Chairman, is a reference to the idea of “God” and the end of the film has a poignant line. When Norris and Sellas infiltrate the Bureau, they are confronted by Mitchell who tells Norris that “He has met the Chairman. We’ve all met the Chairman but he, or she, comes in different forms to different people.”
One of the minor stars of this film is Terence Stamp who is Mr Thompson, the superior of both Mitchell and Richardson. He is known as the “Hammer” because of his involvement in earlier cases and he causes mania and chaos for both Norris and Sellas. He is one of the major stars because he explores the idea of free will, God and the role we play in life. He creates a problem for Norris when he is forced to choose between success and love. The true star, however, is not Damon or Blunt. It’s Anthony Mackie who plays Harry Mitchell. He is a renegade agent of ‘The Adjustment Bureau’ and assists Norris and Sellas in their dream to change their plan to be together.
This is a film that is both a drama and a love story, a film that explores deep ideas but keeps the audience interested. Is it possible that the film could have been done without the romantic element, as with Dick’s original story? It’s possible but it wouldn’t have been as interesting, especially for the audience. The romantic element is crucial to keep the audience’s attention and I, for one, recommend this film wholeheartedly to those who are interested in pseudo-science-fiction films or romantic films.
- “Movie Review: The Adjustment Bureau” and related posts (lippsisters.com)
- THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU Video Interviews -Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Anthony Mackie (thepeoplesmovies.com)
- 7 Movie Clips from THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU (collider.com)
- 5 Reasons To See The Adjustment Bureau (hellobeautiful.com)
- The Adjustment Bureau: Fate vs Free Will (1prettybrowngirl.com)
- Writer-Director George Nolfi Exclusive Interview THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU (collider.com)
“How Do You Know?” has been described as a “state of the art romantic comedy”. It is difficult to imagine how a romantic comedy, or indeed any comedy, can be defined as “state of the art”. The film has no modern features or changes to the plot to suggest that it has improved or developed the genre to such an extent to award such an accreditation but it remains the fact that this is how it has been described. I view this film as nothing more than the addition of another film in the long list of romantic comedies to be otherwise consigned to the shelves of Blockbuster for sale.
The film stars Reese Witherspoon as a woman who has been dropped from the USA Softball team after dedicating her life to her career. At the age of 31, she is dropped from the team and becomes involved with another major character in the film, Owen Wilson as ‘Matty’. Matty is an American baseball player and professional athlete, making the relationship and dynamic between the two characters representative of the conflict facing Reese Witherspoon’s character, Lisa. She is witnessing success while being sidelined and consigned to watching it. In comes Paul Rudd as George, a down-on-his-luck corporative executive being investigated for stock fraud. He is honest, amusing and, at times, a whimper of a man.
As Rotten Tomatoes describes on its website, “How Do You Know boasts a quartet of likeable leads — and they deserve better than this glib, overlong misfire from writer/director James L. Brooks.” The description is apt and proper. It is not simply the likes of Reese Witherspoon and Owen Wilson, major components of past romantic comedies but the likes of Paul Rudd and Jack Nicholson who stars in this desperate attempt by both director and writer to meet some critical success. In a quarter that has seen the release of major title contenders such as The King’s Speech, The Fighter, Black Swan and The Way Back, this could have been a heart-warming success for avid cinema attendants. Instead, it is contrived, needless and will leave those starring in it wondering what it is that made them think this film would be a success.
The notion that this film could be described as “state of the art” is in the plot. It focuses on the careers and successes of two characters. Reese Witherspoon’s Lisa is seeking a new path in life. Paul Rudd’s George is being investigated for stock fraud. Neither are powerful or impressive plot lines. From beginning to end, this film holds a few laughs in store at the cost of different characters but there is nothing especially comic about it. It is too absorbed in its search for meaning. The ending is the biggest relief. The problem is that, coming from a male perspective, we expect something more realistic in films that concern the dynamic of human relationships. The idea that a woman would leave a multi-million dollar success for a man being investigated for fraud is neither believable nor realistic. The notion that a federal government would not discover the link between father and son in their investigation of stock fraud is implausible.
This is what is the main problem with this film – stretching our belief in the concept of love to its breaking point and then breaking it. We like to believe that this film would restore our faith in the heart-warming, gut-aching sentiment of romantic love but it merely reminds us that our own lives are not filled with the drama that the cinema appears to have us believe. Women of the world may find this film hilarious and heartwarming but I view it as an unsuccessful release in an otherwise successful quarter for the film industry.
- How Do You Know – review (guardian.co.uk)
- ‘How Do You Know?’ review: Director Brooks doesn’t (sfgate.com)
- How Do You Know (12A) (independent.co.uk)
- Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd, Owen Wilson and Jack Nicholson on “How Do You Know” – HOLLYWOODNEWS.COM INTERVIEW (hollywoodnews.com)
- 4 Clips from HOW DO YOU KNOW Starring Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd, and Owen Wilson (collider.com)
- What Went Wrong with Hollywood Romantic Comedies? (gointothestory.com)
‘The Way Back‘ has been described as a film of epic proportions, detailing the path taken by a dozen or so men as they escape from a Soviet labour camp to the distant land of India. As with all films of this nature, it is a powerful and emotive film that grips the viewer and engages them in a conversation about the dynamic of human relationships and explores the terrain that spans across different continents. Peter Weir, in his role as director, has created a film that looks at an important part of the history of humanity and does so with a cast of stars that are known more for their roles in action films than in epics of voyage.
With three major male actors including Ed Harris, Jim Sturgess and Colin Farrell all competing for the spotlight in this film, the expectation for most viewers will be a competition of male dominance. In ‘The Way Back’, the historical and factual nature of the film puts the characters in their proper places. Ed Harris plays a mysterious American imprisoned by the Soviet Union for his business tactics. Jim Sturgess stars as the main part and leader of the group in their daring escape from the Soviet labour camp. Colin Farrell plays a convicted criminal who follows the group into the wilds of Siberia with his knife called the ‘Wolf’. The three men succeed in drawing strength from each of their roles and strong performances.
Ed Harris is one of the strongest characters, the figure of wisdom and an elder in the film, putting a performance that deserves the critical praise and credit that it deserves and Jim Sturgess, while struggling at times to compete with the experience of Ed Harris, puts himself in a formidable place for nominations in upcoming award ceremonies. It is the performance of Colin Farrell that is the weakest, perhaps because he grows tired of a role in which he is known as the “bad guy” and he remains in the shadows of the two men throughout the film.
In the single female role, Saoirse Ronan stars as a young adult escaping from the clutches of the Soviet Union and appears later in the film and follows them in their trek across the continents. Her performance is strong and, as the only main female in the film, much of the focus on her reminds us of the importance of her role. What is surprising in this film is that there is no sexual tension and no dynamic between Saoirse Ronan and the other male actors. In a film about human relationships, Peter Weir appears to have ignored the notion that men travelling across thousands of miles might seek relief in the arms of a woman. Her role soon becomes a support to the men, and not as a self-supporting character.
The film, based on Slavomir Rawicz‘s acclaimed novel ‘The Long Walk‘, focuses on their travels across Siberia, the Gobi Desert, Tibet and the Himalayas. I am convinced the film is deserving of its praise but it does not have the “replay” functionality than many of the best films do. Once the audience has seen the film once, it is unlikely that they will wish to see the film again, if only because they know the ending and it is one of the longer films released in the first quarter of the year.
- “”The Way Back” – Peter Weir’s epic adventure starring Colin Farrell, Saoirse Ronan” and related posts (blogs.orlandosentinel.com)
- Colin Farrell & Jim Sturgess: ‘The Way Back’ Trailer! (justjared.buzznet.com)
- The Way Back: A Good Walk, Almost Spoiled (time.com)
- Director Peter Weir Exclusive Video Interview THE WAY BACK (collider.com)
- Jim Sturgess Exclusive Video Interview THE WAY BACK; Plus Updates on UPSIDE DOWN and ONE DAY (collider.com)
- Ed Harris Exclusive Video Interview THE WAY BACK (collider.com)
- Colin Farrell Exclusive Video Interview THE WAY BACK; Updates on TOTAL RECALL, FRIGHT NIGHT and LONDON BOULEVARD (collider.com)
Black Swan has been given seven Oscar nominations including the esteemed Best Actress for Natalie Portman. Is it deserving of the credit it has received? Is it doing the opposite of The Social Network – bringing high culture to the masses? Black Swan is more than a film about ballet but it is a central theme. It is the directive. It is the moving force. For those people who have never seen or never reflected on ballet, the commitments and the dedication, this is not the film for you. For those people who are fascinated by ballet, you will be submerged in a film that is both dark and thrilling.
The truth about Black Swan is that it is a film that is slow to start. The audience is bound to be unreceptive to the routine, the character development and the dancing that encompasses the first third of the film and this is going to put people off. It isn’t enough to have a film that is cumulative and climactic. Audiences need to be gripped by the characters and there is nothing of the sort in this film. Instead, Natalie Portman plays the part of a woman in the shadow of her mother, in the shadow of herself. She plays a woman who is innocent, dedicated and determined. To acquire the role of the Swan Queen, she must become another person.
That’s what Black Swan is about. It is about the psychological impact on intensive training, the pressure placed upon ballet dancers as they become absorbed in the role and what better example of this concept than Swan Lake. Swan Lake is a film about a woman trapped in the body of a swan by magic and love will break the spell. Her evil twin, the black swan, steals the prince from her and she kills herself. Natalie Portman’s character, Nina Sayers, faces a situation that is not unlike that of the plot. She believes that she is being followed and haunted by a doppelgänger, someone who is after her role – that person is Lily, played by Mila Kunis.
The two are engaged throughout the film in a push-and-pull relationship. Nina personifies the White Swan. Lily personifies the Black Swan. Vincent Cassel stars as the director of the production attempting to pull off a star-struck recovery for the ballet company and throws the two together in a furious attempt to see Nina become both characters in the production. The indications of the sexual tension and interconnectivity of the three characters is personified by frequent acts of sexual engagement between the three – Nina is seduced by the director to push her towards a darker side of herself, Lily and Nina engage in a homo-erotic relationship and Lily and the director are witnessed engaging in sexual intercourse.
What will haunt people is the change witnessed in Natalie Portman’s character as she shifts from a woman under the grasp of her mother, innocent and seeking perfection to a person obsessed with the notion that Mila Kunis’ character is seeking to fill her role, leading to paranoia, madness, suicide and death. The director, Darren Aronofsky, has done a superb job in forcing the audience to consider the possibility that there are two options – that Nina is becoming insane as a result of the role or that Lily is truly seeking to push Nina from her role. The ending, climactic and traumatic, is sure to shock and delight audiences who are fans of Swan Lake. The film is dangerous, tempting and sweet. Is it deserving of its nominations? For the sheer dedication of the actors involved, I believe wholeheartedly.
- FILM REVIEW Dark and perfect (tech.mit.edu)
- “Black Swan” and related posts (range.wordpress.com)
- Review: Black Swan (thejc.com)
- ‘Black Swan’: Dance of the Clichés (online.wsj.com)
The King’s Speech has arrived at cinemas with the critical acclaim and expectation that comes with such a star cast but people are asking whether it can meet the standards set by Aaron Sorkin‘s The Social Network or the upcoming Black Swan starring Natalie Portman. Both have been tipped for nominations but, for this writer, The King’s Speech has succeeded in creating a succinct blend of dialogue, plot and character development. Period drama has been a proven television and film success. The King’s Speech is not alone in the genre in its expectation for success with the likes of The Other Boleyn Girl and The Duchess receiving critical success at the box office and at award ceremonies.
The King’s Speech stars Colin Firth as George VI, a man facing a troubling speech impediment – he stammers. Geoffrey Rush stars as the eccentric but successful Australian speech therapist, entrusted to cure George VI of his speech impediment. The two are of independent success and other male combinations could have resulted in a clash of powers. In The King’s Speech, the two actors complement one another with their intelligence and their wit. It is impossible to escape the feeling that Colin Firth’s tipped nominations for the Oscars as the Best Male Actor is not without cause but that Geoffrey Rush deserves equal acclaim. There should be no reason his performance should not be awarded with nominations for Best Supporting Actor.
It is a film based upon the relationship between these two formidable men as George VI moves from the lowly prince in the shadow of his brother to the role of the King facing the powerful enemy of Germany at the beginning of the Second World War. The film has seen a historical event become a feature and focus on millions of people. When the film was released, it was based on the documents and factual accounts made available to the notable director of John Adams, Elizabeth I and The Damned United, Tom Hooper. The director has experience in the historical (or period) drama and this film shows him at his best – creating a film that is based more upon the relationships between the two men than the transition from Prince to King.
In the female roles, Helena Bonham Carter and Jennifer Ehle aid the two main characters as the stimulants of dialogue. I am convinced the supporting cast exists to support the development and fruition of the main characters and this is, perhaps, one of the few negatives about this film. Helena Bonham Carter deserved a greater role in this powerful and emotive film and the focus on the two men was a discredit to her skills as an actress. Nevertheless, the film moves forward and sweeps the audience along with it. It is a film that is filled with comical moments that are assured to make people chuckle with laughter, touched with a sweeping hand that ensures tenderness and affection and the power and grandiose that this film deserves.
With US Box Office earnings of £58 million and a similar sum witnessed in the UK, it is sure to become a box office success. Even before its release, it was tipped for Oscar nominations. Is it enough to tip The Social Network and Jesse Eisenberg from the top spot? Will Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours prove to be the dark horse? Will Natalie Portman in the Black Swan swing the judges their way? The reality is that the cinema box office has been too great a success in recent months to tell. We must all bow to The King’s Speech, to the performances of Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush and to the skills of director, Tom Hooper.
- ‘King’s Speech’ and ‘Black Swan’ dominating British box office (latimesblogs.latimes.com)
- The King’s Speech (endlesslyrestless.wordpress.com)
- The King’s Speech tipped for 14 Baftas (bbc.co.uk)
- The Making of ‘The King’s Speech’ (slashfilm.com)
Move out the way children, I’ve been waiting 15 years for this. Toy Story 3 was set to be among the highlights of the animation industry and must-see films to see in 2010.
Toy Story was first introduced to us in 1995 and is an American computer- animated family film, the first Disney/Pixar collaboration to be made and the first feature film in history to be made entirely with CGI. It captured people’s hearts and imagination of all ages and their ageless toys. Toy story is a fun and family based film, although the film delivers a meaning to all, it is how one receives it, which is personal. The story is based on a little boy, Andy and his found friends among his toys. However, Andy has no idea what goes on behind closed doors. For Andy’s toys come to life and have their own problems to deal with. Friendships are lost, questioned and earned. Overall one thing keeps them together till the very end, they will and forever be Andy‘s toys.
The voices of the characters are voiced by some well known actors, such as Tom Hanks who plays the main character Woody. The character Woody is a leader in mind, but loyal in heart. Woody craves the adventures and loves to prove himself worthy of his special place beside Andy, he is a quirky unlikely hero, but a loyal companion to all. Other voices heard are Tim Allen playing the role of Buzz Lightyear, a deluded toy who lives up to being a toy until he discovers reality the harsh way. Like Woody, he likes to lead, his judgement is slightly clouded, but discovers how to work alongside Woody and go on to develop a friendship.
In 1999 Toy Story 2 was launched and had enormous pressure to live up to. It was a chance to follow up on the shared devotion Buzz and Woody had with Andy.
It brought with it the opportunity for new characters such as Jessie the yodeling cow-girl voiced by Joan Cusack, who played the part of a loud, wild yodeling cow-girl enthusiastically and Bulleyes, the affectionate and memorable horse aligned with Jessie. The plot of this movie saw Andy’s friendship and Woody’s friendship compromised. Woody had a choice of two different lives and for once Woody’s friends were the ones coming to his rescue. It concluded with Woody choosing Andy again, but accepting the revelation of the known fact, play days were numbered.
It took the directors and producers over 10 years to decide to whether to make a third toy story. The third film sees a whole new element to Toy story, a darker reality. The element no one would like to discuss – when we grow up. Andy, that little boy we grew up with, those ageless toys that help him and us through the days or nights, packed away. Then we find ourselves at the present day, it’s Andy’s time to go to college, but is it the end of the toys too? Woody, Buzz and the gang have a plan, they stick by Andy whatever his choice, which soon collapses into panic when the gang are placed into a rubbish bag and Woody in the college box. Betrayal sinks in and the toys come to terms with their fate. They find themselves at a nursery and are overcome with the anticipation of play time. Woody fights for them to come back with him, but their longing purpose of being played with, is greater then their life-long loyalty to a child who has grown up without them. They find themselves on a new pathway, but was it more then what they bargained for?
They meet new toys that have hidden loss of their own and are not prepared to make room for resolutions. Woody finds it has to be his biggest triumph to rescue his friends. Throughout we find ourselves challenging our own emotions. We snort at Woody’s witty humour, we laugh out loud at Buzz’s expense and giggle at the classic family of the Potato Heads. We cry at the bond they hold for one another and the fears of loss and pain. We gasp trying to hold onto every moment as not to let us pass us by. Then it ends, with the uncertainty that this could be the end of their adventure, where Andy finds comfort in leaving his old companions with someone who may understand.
Toys are our element of what we were and perhaps who we were. The Toy Story films teach us that friendship can be found in the most unusual places and that we should always keep apart of our childishness among us.
- DVD: Toy Story 3 (U) (independent.co.uk)
- Toy Story 3 (mrmovietimes.com)
- Toy Story 3 Movie Review: Childhood’s End [Review] (kotaku.com)
At the beginning of Leonardo DiCaprio’s acting career I would have assumed his stereotypical all-American high school kid looks would have landed him in endless romantic comedy roles, but then his talent would have been wasted. Inception is possibly DiCaprio’s best film to date, and certainly gives rise to a few lesser-known actors too.
The release of Inception came eagerly anticipated after the film industry had run low on blockbusters for several months. Nothing had built excitement and expectation quite like it for some time. This, combined with its feature-length trailer showing off some impressive graphic creativity gave audiences waiting to see Inception high expectations long before its release. Could it live up to the hype? No. It exceeded it beyond anyone’s imagination as the best film of its genre to come out of Hollywood in countless months, perhaps years.
Inception is set in multiple realities, with the basis being a world which has the technology to access the human mind via manufactured dreams, with participants attached to a mechanical devise tying them into the same subconscious place. DiCaprio plays Dom Cobb, the father who is desperate to get back to his children but must undertake a mission of inception to do so, planting an idea in a person’s mind so deep that the individual believes it to be their own thought process.
Cobb’s hired architect, Ariadne follows Cobb into his own subconscious, to discover how he knows the process is possible, uncovering a further addition to the ever-evolving story and giving the film its love story without conforming to any typical romance plot, and instead giving the angle a dramatic and important part to play in the overall story. Fully expecting Ariadne to be Cobb’s new, younger, love interest, it was refreshing to find that her gender role played no part in this expected plot development. A moment of romance was seen in her involvement with another character, but even this was slight and inserted for subtle humour over romance.
Inception literally gave its graphic designers an endless world to play with, and what could have been glazed over as a few fine details in the forefront of each geographical scene really went all out with what I can only imagine as an unthinkable amount of work and effort. The importance of an architectural character was emphasised to really acknowledge the attention to detail in Cobb’s alternate reality. From the first structures and creativity of an entire city to the demise and destruction of each building, no effort was lost, and will be one of the things that really sell the DVD for fans of high definition. Thankfully though, Inception chose not to release a 3D version and instead remained focussed on the story the audience were there to absorb.
Inception’s director, Christopher Nolan delivers the excellence we saw from him in the Dark Knight, but with the added freedom of his own conveyance of plot, he brought the story to life in a way which will be recognised for a long time, and will no doubt further him still in the respect he will earn from his Hollywood peers.
There aren’t always a lot of films around which have an element of everything needed to make them work. Inception had the emotionally pulling love story mixed with just the right amount of action to be impressive without boring the audience into a passive mix of gunshots and explosions, ensuring boy and girl could go on their mutual date and both go home happy with their choice of film. Combine this with the thought-provoking drama and pure directional talent and Inception will struggle to find a large audience who won’t enjoy it.
If you’ve ever needed a film to illustrate the saying, ‘must-see film’, then this is that film. Its brilliance is unexplainable in a way that can only be understood after seeing it for yourself. Go and see it now, then go back and see it again.
Ken Loach is a prominent person in the history of film making. With a career spanning over 40 years, Ken Loach has continuously brought forward key social issues to the public eye. His dedication and contribution to cinema is profound. Indeed, it is quite difficult to think of any other British director who has had the same affect on cinema. As a result, any work about British cinema essentially has to include Ken Loach, for failing to do so would make it incomplete and useless.
The filming style of Ken Loach, as Graham Fuller correctly describes it, is that of a social realist, meaning that Loach portrays his films in a naturalistic way: mainly by using simple static, documentary type camera work and a realistic, complex dialogue. Like other social realists, Loach focuses on crucial social issues. His main attention has been focused towards the plight of the working classes, who are faced with the problems of unemployment, labour rights, and restrictive social mobility. However, Loach has also focused on other issues, such as abortion and the political and ideological battles of the Spanish Civil War.
Ken Loach began his filming career by directing television programmes during the 1960s, such as Z Cars. However, his first major contribution to both British cinema and social realism can be found in Cathy Come Home, which was filmed as part of the BBC’s Wednesday Plays. Cathy Come Home is the story of a mother, who along her husband and two children, are made homeless after being evicted because of their inability to pay the rent. During the course of the drama, we see how the relationship between Cathy and her husband breaks down and how she struggles to find somewhere to live for her and her children. The story concludes in the most harrowing way by having her children taken away from her by social services in a railway station. This ending is particularly distressing, for we see both Cathy and her children crying and screaming as the social services, in an almost brutish way, take the children from her.
Cathy Come Home certainly had an impact. It caused massive social uproar within the British public. So much that as a result the leading homeless charity, Shelter, was created to help those affected by homelessness. As Ken Loach progressed from television to film, his focus on social issues remained. His first major film, Kes, largely deals with the lack of social mobility that is available to the working class and how the educational system offers little opportunity. Like Cathy Come Home, Kes also finishes on a down note, where the boy, Billy, finds out that his older brother has killed his kestrel; which was the only means for him to express his talent and thus symbolises that like the dead bird, Billy has no chance of escaping his limited situation.
It is thus clear that Ken Loach recognises that for many people, there is no opportunity for them to resolve social issues for themselves. That is, they are largely stuck where they are with no hope of escape unless there is drastic change. This does not mean, however, that Ken Loach does not recognise humour in society. Indeed, his 1993 film Raining Stones has a considerable amount of humour.
His last released film, Looking for Eric, is his most comedic film and is somewhat of a divergence from his earlier work. The follows Eric, a middle-aged postal worker who is facing multiple crises in his life: he is separated from his wife and his two stepsons are disrespectful; with one of them being heavily involved with a dangerous criminal. As a result, Eric turns to smoking cannabis and seeks help from a poster of his idol: one of the greatest footballers (and the best French Philosopher since Sartre), Eric Cantona.
This is where Loach has moved away from his social realist roots, because what happens is that Eric Cantona actually appears to Eric, although he is the only one who can see him, and starts to offer advice to help him turn his life around. I won’t go into the full story here, but as a result of the help from the metaphysical Cantona, Eric is able to resolve his problems by getting back with his wife and stopping his stepson from being involved with the criminal.
For me, Looking for Eric is most definitely the funniest Ken Loach film. There are many scenes where Eric Cantona makes the film worth seeing.
But does the film work? The answer is no. For the trouble with Looking for Eric is that it fails to give a realistic ending to the very real issues that Eric is faced with. In reality, there is no absolutely no way that Eric Cantona could help Eric. Therefore, the possibility of Eric getting back with his wife and stopping his stepson being involved in crime is limited.
Consider it like this. Could Cathy in Cathy Come Home rely on her transcendent idol to save her from her plight of homelessness and stop social services from taking her children? No. Could David, in Land and Freedom, stop Carla from being shot and resolve the Spanish civil war by turning to his idol? No. In reality, can anyone turn to their idol when they face social issues such as homelessness, unemployment, or oppression? Of course not.
The fact of the matter is that Looking for Eric distorts reality. It blurs what is happening with what could never realistically happen. It deludes the audience in thinking that relying on fantasy will solve problems. Although living in fantasy may give relief to those daydreaming; but in regards to social issues, such hallucinations will not do.
Nevertheless, there is the hope that Ken Loach will return to form. As those of you who followed this year’s Cannes Festival will know, Ken Loach was a late entry with his new film Route Irish. The film follows a private security contractor, Fergus, who after returning to Liverpool after working in Iraq, seeks to uncover the truth about the death of his close friend. Clearly Route Irish seems unlikely to have the same comic undertones of Looking for Eric. Like most of Loach’s films, Route Irish is sure to be a dark, bleak drama which, like the Iraq war, will leave a sour after taste in the mouths of those you see it. Whilst dealing with the controversial issue of the war in Iraq, it would seem wrong to bring in a comedic and transcendental aspect to the film like Looking for Eric.
Despite being released for Cannes, Route Irish is yet to have general release. And at the time of writing, there is no set date either. Yet, when the film is released, it hopefully should highlight the issue of Iraq and what consequences we all now face with it. And I’m sure the Ken Loach can successfully force these issues into the public’s eye. Nevertheless, Loach may bring a surprise with Route Irish; he may add another dimension to his directing style for instance. After all, as the title of his 2007 suggests: “It’s a free world….”