Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Podcast: Cinematic Dramatic - The 100th Disappointing Episode

The Dramatics reach the big 100! If only they had good movies to talk about. James Franco shouting spew and Tom Cruise stuck in poor Sci-Fi does not ease celebrations. That and there's no cake. NO CAKE!!! Oh well, there's still good memories to enjoy.

via GeekPlanetOnline: Cinematic Dramatic http://www.geekplanetonline.com/hosting/originals/dramatic/?p=episode&name=2013-04-22_cinematic_dramatic_4x25__the_100th_disappointing_episode_with_no_cake.mp3 Unfortunately, you will have to copy and paste the link to listen or use the handy links on the side!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Review: Oblivion

Year: 2013
Director: Joseph Kosinski
Screenplay: Joseph Kosinski, William Monahan, Karl Gajdusek, Michael Arndt
Starring: Tom Cruise, Olga Kurylenko, Andrea Riseborough, Morgan Freeman, Melissa Leo, Zoƫ Bell, and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.

Synopsis is here:

I've been living in Peterborough for two years now and it's only now that after visit upon visit of my local cinema, an employee not only spoke to me about what I saw, but engaged in a bout of verbal jousting. The sheer fact that the guy took his time to talk to me about Oblivion made the trip all the more fun, because while we disagreed with the movie somewhat ("it's one of the top five movies of the year!" he exclaimed), he at least showed me there was one person at the cinema who actually watched and enjoyed the product. When you ask the girl at the concession stand if they've seen a certain film and they respond with "I never knew it existed", things are more than a little disconcerting. 

The cinema usher was very quick to set me straight about my thoughts of Joseph Kosinski's second feature. I felt he was going to burst with glee when I stated I enjoyed JohnCarter more than this. The look on his face was one that said "I no longer care what you think now, my opinion is of higher value" but I stick by my wrong opinion. As a board adventure feature, I had fun with John Carter's energy, and the film isn't trying to be smarter than its audience. Oblivion meanwhile is clearly paying homage to many sci-fi films, but didn't have the spark to make me see past the gears and the mechanics of its thin screenplay. This is a film which could have subtext and subtly in it's well threaded themes, however when you spend this much ($150 Million) you’re not really going for that. 

You can't say, however, that the money doesn't end up on the screen as Kosinski's world building is his major threat. Far from the neon girders of Tron: Legacy, we are thrown into an earth that is desolate and yet astonishingly beautiful. Kosinski's broken earth is one you could wander for days. Pity it's then filled with flat fire fights and secondary characters that have little time to establish themselves. Cruise is at the height of his heroic maverick qualities but has little chemistry with at least two characters that would give me more faith in the plight. 

But in the end, I wasn't too bothered about the Oblivion's more derivative aspects. I was more frustrated in the lack of freshness Kosinski places within the story. The film's environment would give Prometheus a run for its money, but is not as interested in question asking. The film touches on matters we've seen in many sci-fi films of its ilk but instead goes for a more blunt, straight-forward approach. It turns down alleyways that other directors navigated with a better sleight of hand. No doubt those with a certain affinity for (or not seen) the other sci-fi texts Oblivion references may get a kick out of what it places on the table. For others, they may wonder why accented cinema ushers are getting so worked up about. 

Friday, 12 April 2013

Recent Outings #1 - Cinemart

I've recently written some reviews of some upcoming DVD releases, for the film review site Cinemart. 
Click on the the title/picture for the full review.


Set during an overcast summer in Dublin, What Richard Did is the hypnotic account of a popular middle class high school student who splinters the lives of himself and those around him with a wrongheaded act that has tragic consequences.

i, anna still

Gabriel Byrne plays Bernie Reid, a divorced detective (aren’t they all?), whose accursed insomnia allows him to encounter the elegant Anna (Charlotte Rampling). Reid places professionalism aside to become more involved with the woman, all the while leaving him more distracted from a difficult murder case.

Review: Evil Dead

Year: 2013
Director: Fede Alvarez
Screenplay: Fede Alvarez, Rodo Sayagues, Diablo Cody
Starring: Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, Elizabeth Blackmore

Synopsis is here

If there's one complaint I have with remakes, it is that there seems to be a belief that cash is a perfect match up to go up against an original product in which it basis was created around fearlessness, accident and dedication to the vision. The belief of traipsing over the first rendition is not new, nor is it one I completely disagree with. But films like The Evil Dead are a perfect example. The timing is off, acting iffy and at the worst of times the camera placement decapitates more heads than the axe does in the film itself. But it's budget limitation quickly becomes part of its essence. It is considered not only a horror classic, but a horror untouchable. A piece that should not be touched in order to be retouched, redone or remade. But of course in this day and age that means even less than before. 

So here we are with a remake of Evil Dead, something that many feel shouldn't be. Much like the name of one of the demons that appear within this redux, some will consider this an Abomination. It's understandable. It is definitely not your fathers The Evil Dead, particularly when it comes to delivering a general creepy tone. For all it's thrift, Evil Dead 81 placed hard graft in its general tone. Evil Dead 2013 isn't "scary" and for that it should have failed with me. Yet as a splatterfest, Evil Dead is not only out rivals the original with a plethora of plasma, but it's relentlessness delivery is a huge amount of fun. 

Evil Dead does more than enough to bring a certain degree of wildness back to mainstream U.S. horror. The comparisons to Cabin in the Woods are understandable, however, as subversive as Drew Goddard wink to the fans was, Evil Dead wishes to remind you that such movies can be played out without snark and still bring around enough abject weirdness to make it stand apart from some of the more drab modern counterparts. The films climatic moments are so brazenly absurd, that I was squirming excitedly in my chair with a disturbing amount of bloodlust. 

Not to say I didn't want the cast of ED2013 to all perish. Quite simply, the film lands us with a basic yet effective redemption tale with spirited and likeable cast that is able to generate more than a fair amount of suspense. I wanted to know how far we were going to fall down the rabbit hole. Its been a while since I've had that feeling with a gore film of this nature. The film isn't wildly original in its violence (the film borrows liberally from The Exorcist a little too much) nor should it have to be. The film's narrative appears to be more in line with Scream 4 in that the plot is skewed enough to give off the feeling that the demonic intrusions could flip on at any time. There's something disturbingly heartening about having a feeling which any of these old friends can be extinguished. But at least I felt like they know each other. 

It is true that the films slickness is evident in its visuals and set design. While not it doesn't hold the sickly Platinum Dunes palette that drives die hards mad, it could do with a bit more of the originals sweat and grime. You get the feeling that we may see more of this instagram "neatness" to proceedings however let it be known that Evil Dead makes enough of its own impression to imagery that many have gotten used to. 

There will be alterations that might not ring true (how I wish they found the tape), yet there's enough soul to be swallowed by this remake that covers itself with a brutal energy that may help snap some of us out of their found footage ghost story stupor. Evil Dead has set the bar. I now wonder how the delayed remake of Carrie will fair. 

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Review: Spring Breakers

Year: 2013
Director: Harmony Korine
Screenplay: Harmony Korine
Starring: Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Rachal Corine, Ashley Benson, James Franco

Synopsis is here

It's been a while since I left a cinema screen with pretty much every other viewer hating what they had just seen. I had to laugh as considering the film, it was almost an inevitable. Harmony Korine's arthouse, wannabe B movie didn't leave me so angry. Nor did I leave it feeling the opposite. Spring Breakers' shallow mixture of greasy glam and titillation left me lackadaisically indifferent. I feel this is far worse than some of the exuberant glee I've read or venomous hate I saw, because those feelings would be considered "the point" by the cool kids. Like I've hinted at before in this blog, I was never a cool kid so all you'll get here is shrugs.

From the start it seemed that the poor audience were set up for a fall. The trailers before the film were Scary Movie 5 and The Hangover: Part 3. The T.V spots and trailers give off a glimmering vision of neon, adolescent heaven, where every day is dubstep and boobs. Everything seemed to be trying to attract a certain type of audience expecting a certain type of movie. Korine isn't really interested in the gloss, although it does feature quite heavily. Spring Breakers appears to be more of a skewed, grubby version of The American Dream as seen by a girl group raised on slick surface and MTV.

Despite its gaudy dress up, Korine provides some interesting ideas.Themes of black masculinity and hedonism as religion creep up on you. Meanwhile; the film's imagery highlights the director’s love for the abstract and poetic. Dialogue and visuals are juxtaposed and repeated at different points providing a near cycular effect. These girls are bored of doing drugs and handstands in their dorms but feel that the change of venue provides a new philosophical bent on their snorting and amateur gymnastics. These circles ripple we see not only the small microcosm of the girls but of the violence they experience and the culture they wish to embrace. Spring Break is represented as a never-ending pulsing haven in which the beer never stops flowing and girl on girl action is always round the corner.

However, while the Skrillex and Clint Mansell soundtrack (remember the drum and bass in Pi?) do their best to keep the tone and energy up, Spring Breaker becomes fidgety, frustrating and over involved in its own importance. It's clear that Korine is having a massive joke about certain genre conventions and ideas but he doesn't seem bothered in his audience’s engagement. Don't expect much from the cyphers that are considered characters here. Much has been said about Vanessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez departure from their Disney roots, but Korine is more interested that the actors are who they are than placing any effort to make the roles they play stand out for any other reason. James Franco's Alien, strangely reminds me of Heath Ledger's turn in Lord of Dogtown, but unlike Ledger, I felt Franco does fully lose himself in the role. Squint a bit, and he's still James. 

An indulgent and fussy piece which mixes the divine (the girls doing ring around the roses with shotguns is an unbelievable image) with the tedious, Spring Breakers like Korine's earlier Gummo brings an honest and different look to typical proceedings. Unfortunately much like the head bending pieces of the likes of Lynch or even the aggressive manoeuvres Korine's own idol Herzog, the film does little to reach any emotional height. I don't feel that the film is "gash" or "shit", like I heard everyone else exclaim amongst leaving the theatre. The problem is I can't see me watching the film again to see if it's anything else.