‘Return of the Jedi’ DVD 23/11/2008

Still a total joy. Nothing more to say. Completely magical.


‘There Will Be Blood’ DVD 22/11/2008

‘There Will Be Blood’ is remarkable. As I said in my original review back in February, there are only a small handful of movies each decade that transcend the art form like this. It’s this year’s masterpiece and the best film of Paul Thomas Anderson’s flawless career.

PTA and Daniel Day-Lewis have crafted the perfect performance. It’s iconic. It’s hilarious. It’s terrifying. Daniel Plainview is to this new century of film what Hannibal Lecter and Michael Corleone were to the last.


‘Quantum of Solace’ 20/11/2008

It came as little surprise that ‘Quantum of Solace’ improved greatly on second viewing. The opening two action sequences still irk me as overly derivative of another recent action franchise, but the story played out better. Knowing the beats that were to follow made it an all together more pleasurable experience. It’s still no ‘Casino Royale’, but it’s a league ahead of ¾ of Pierce Brosnan’s output.


‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’ 19/11/2008

‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’ is beautifully written and performed, but so unremittingly devastating as it draws to its conclusion that few will wish to view it again.

It has been suggested in the past that this sort of material warrants a bleak outlook and that to tone it down would do it a disservice. Though I don’t disagree, the sheer horror of the films final moments render it more an exercise in torture than a form of entertainment.

It’s both wonderful and awful.


‘Zack and Miri Make a Porno’ 18/11/2008

The supporting cast are superb across the board. The dialogue is as sharp and observant as any Kevin Smith has written in the last ten years.

It’s his best film since ‘Chasing Amy’


‘Max Payne’ 17/11/2008

The highpoint of ‘Max Payne’ was listening to a middle aged couple argue in the queue. The gentleman in question was insisting to his wife that Mark Wahlberg had played Jason Bourne. This amused me.

I feel sorry for director John Moore. He has turned his hand to several genres, but every film he has directed has been a failure. They aren’t spectacular failures worthy of discussion and mockery, but forgotten mediocrities content to slip off into HMV bargain bins within months of release.

For some reason it is always snowing in ‘Max Payne’. This is never explained.

Mark Wahlberg looks slightly constipated in ‘Max Payne’. This is also never explained.

Supporting characters (including Ludacris as a detective and a fat Chris O’Donnell) illogically float in and around scenes. The purpose of most is never explained.

The film is bad. Quite bad.


Ps – Nice production design though….

‘W.’ 09/11/2008

I quite liked ‘W.’

I liked that Oliver Stone has finally escaped the habit of making unwatchable films, I liked Josh Brolin’s performance and I liked that it wasn’t a liberal polemic.

I’m not sure how accurate it is as a biopic, but it was enjoyable enough to warrant repeat viewings.


‘AI: Artificial Intelligence’ DVD 08/11/2008

AI is an interesting career juncture for Steven Spielberg. Visually astonishing and carrying a familiar fairytale narrative (for all those who have seen Pinocchio, at least), it is most memorable for balancing the strengths for which Spielberg is known with far bleaker thematic material.

The Berg machine is in full force. Every cast and crew member does their job to perfection, special mention going to John Williams and Janusz Kaminski. As the film is set in the future, Kaminski’s annoying habit of over lighting to a metallic shine actually works for once.

The film is split into three distinct acts. Much could be written about each but this is no editorial. Each has something significant to offer, but it is the emotionally devastating finale that resonates.

Depending on your perspective, the infamous final 20 minutes act either as a saccharine reminder of Spielberg’s worst indulgences, or a cold and fascinating adventure into human (or should that be mecha?) misery.

As AI was finishing up production, Spielberg was already prepping ‘Minority Report’; another science-fiction picture. The two work well as a couplet (as do the also back-to-back ‘War of the Worlds’ and ‘Munich’). In both cases one is the more esoteric and thought provoking, the other the more conventional and audience friendly.


PS – I love Teddy.

‘Thir13en Ghosts’ DVD 02/11/2008

‘Thir13en Ghosts’ is garbage. It’s mildly entertaining as an exercise in how to squander capable actors and a solid idea, but aside from some nice makeup and nifty set design it drifts between tedious and embarrassing. Only for genre fans.


‘Quantum of Solace’ 02/11/2008

‘Quantum of Solace’ is more interesting in concept then in execution. I’m all for the idea of a direct sequel to ‘Casino Royale’ that probes Bond’s despair and desire for revenge, but not when done so scrappily and frenetically.

I like the idea that the Daniel Craig Bond actually has drive and motivation (unlike the preening Bond’s of yesteryear), and I’m all for these motivations being the primary concern of the film, but the problem is that ‘Quantum of Solace’ exists solely as a vehicle for a half dozen action sequences held together by a skeleton plot. Again, this wouldn’t be a problem if the action sequences in question were exciting and well choreographed, but Marc Forster and gang ape the Bournesque shakycam style with none of the assurance and editing finesse of that franchise. Consequently these scenes, most especially the opening car chase, are a disappointment.

Daniel Craig continues to be the best actor to have played the character but I fear for him falling into the Pierce Brosnan trap in which the performance is far better then the film that surrounds it. Here’s hoping the next film ditches some of the less desirable stylistic flourishes of this sequel and returns to a classical style, complete with standalone narrative.

It’s a good film but it’s not as good as it should have been.


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