Saturday, 14 February 2015

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)

To be honest I didn't really notice the filmmaking particularly because I was so engrossed by the story. Which probably means that director Francis Lawrence did a great job. Not amazing, I like to think I might have noticed that; but clearly good enough to be commissioned for the next two movies.

As with the first film, the cast were all solid: Jennifer Lawrence is a great Katniss; Woody Harrelson is very believable as the drunk, jaded tribute; Stanley Tucci is brilliantly smarmy as the game show host Caesar. Most notable new additions to the cast are Jeffrey Wright and the excellent Philip Seymour Hoffman. Once again Toby Jones is criminally underused, but I guess in a story with such rich and diverse characters it's hard to meaningfully fit in everyone you like.

I haven't read the books so I can’t really comment on the merit of the adaptation, though I’m beginning to think that perhaps I should read them. One thing I did notice was the lack of triptychs. They featured heavily in the first film, presumably mirroring the way the public viewed the games in the different sectors; but here they were notably absent.

I can’t really think of much more to say, which I’m sure is a good thing. I did really enjoy it, I should probably watch it again to be more critical. But, you know, that's just, like, my opinion man.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

The Three Musketeers (2011)

There is absolutely nothing to recommend this film at all. There is none of Paul W. S. Anderson's sometimes visual flair, no interesting characters (Mads Mikkelsen's Rochefort and James Corden's Planchet are possible exceptions), nothing exciting happens and the story is just two episodes of Dogtanian stuck together (with a shoehorned in Fistful of Dollars joke) with everybody speaking in their own accents. Even Christoph Waltz' performance is flat.

Real rubbish.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Nightcrawler (2014)

Nightcrawler is one of those films that gets under your skin; indeed it crawls into you and makes you feel slightly dirty for enjoying it so much.  It is a film that I thought was very much inspired by Drive, and indeed Jake Gyllenhaal is as unpredictable at the titular character from Nicolas Winding Refn’s 2011 film.

Jake himself is superb; a wiry, gaunt, intense anti-hero; he is singular in his purpose & determination, and though the first few scenes demonstrate what he is capable of we are forever worried about just how far he is prepared to go.  As Lou Bloom, Jake is quite unpredictable; the scenes with Rene Russo often bristle with tension and anticipation and we're never sure where the conversation will go.  He also gives a superb soliloquy as he is giving his demands to Rene Russo’s news editor, and certainly deserves his BAFTA nomination for Best Leading Actor.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Science in the Movies

As scientists we get a pretty hard time of it.  If we’re not struggling for publishable results, or being misquoted in the press about our research; then we’re being portrayed as über-geeks in The Big Bang Theory or with cinema-screen foreheads and clipboards in adverts (I’m looking at you Tefal).  Some of my non-science friends still call me boffin. If that isn’t enough, our subject matter, our interest, nae, our passion can be treated with such cavalier contempt in films.

As I see it, there are several issues to address here.  There is a fair amount (as you might expect) of bad science in movies; however there is also some good science (or at least the director has made an attempt to grasp some basics).  Quite often the scientist is the voice of reason (though the incidence of anyone paying them any attention is rather less); more often than not however, the mad scientist is the preferred flavour.  Finally I shall give some thought to the stereotypes that are perpetuated in the movies and whether there is any likelihood that it may change.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Interstellar (2014)

Does it say something about my taste in movies that the two movies I really wanted to see this year were purely because of the director?  The first was Godzilla.  I was so impressed by Gareth Edwards’ debut Monsters (2010) that I was really excited with what he’d do with Japan’s most famousest monster.  The only other film on my definite hit list was Interstellar.  I’ve been a fan of Christopher Nolan ever since I first saw Memento (2000) and was desperate to see a film of his out in space; especially since Gravity (2013) blew me away last year.  I wasn’t disappointed.

I should point out that there are a couple of spoilers in this review.  I generally try not to spoil anything in my writing, but if you’re anything like me, you won’t read anything to do with a film that you want to see and form your own opinion on.  So, to infinity and beyond!