Sunday, 18 October 2015

"The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby" (2013)

Following the death of their child, Eleanor(Jessica Chastain) leaves her husband, Connor (James McAvoy) and flees to her parents’ suburban home to try to begin again and find a new version of herself”.

I like the idea behind this movie and I think the characters are quite interesting. The fact that the same story is essentially split into two movies where we get to see Connor’s side of the story, then Eleanor’s side. It’s a very different way of structuring the whole story. They have another film that was released some months later titled "The Disapearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them" but really I don't see the point of watching that if you've already seen the the "Him" and "Her" stories, because it's literally the exact same story, exact same scenes. There is nothing different.

The “Him” version of the story - I did find this quite slow moving. James McAvoy is, as always, fantastic and his American accent is very good. It took me a while to adjust since I wasn’t used to him speaking like that, but it was good! It probably took me a little longer to fall into stride with his character, just because of this and I was distracted, but as usual I slip into his movies very easily. I think it was the dialogue or the manner in which it’s said that gave this film a very slow feel, almost mirroring how the characters themselves were feeling. Just sort of trudging through their lives, and we were trudging and meandering along with them. There’s a lot of silences after one speaks in this movie. I didn’t really like that because to me it felt awkward. I liked how the reason for this dilapidation in their relationship was revealed gradually through the film though, as opposed to up front immediately. I felt sorry for Connor’s character if I’m honest. I felt like he was trying to make some kind of amends and she was just not having it, but at the same time you can understand where she’s coming from too.


The “Her” version of the story – Same as with his side, I found this quite slow moving. But not quite as slow. I felt like more happened in this film. Even though there is a lot less of James McAvoy in this one, I think I preferred it for this reason. Jessica Chastain is a very good actress and plays this role well.

I would say that the order they're watched in is quite important. I would watch "Him" first and then "Her" because I guess to be fair you do find yourself asking a lot of questions watching the "Him" film, all of which are then answered during the "Her" film. So watch them in that order, I think you'll enjoy them more!

Yeah...I can’t say I’d be particularly mad about these movies personally, but I wouldn’t discourage anyone from seeing them either. It might be quite slow moving, but the acting is good, so I would watch them if just for that! 


Super-Man (2002)

Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire), a troubled student is bitten by a spider and takes on some of its characteristics. Deciding to use his new powers for good, he becomes a web-slinging, wall-walking superhero. Directed by Sam Raimi, and co-starring Willem Dafoe, Kirsten Dunst, and James Franco. Based on the comic book by Stan Lee and Steve Dtiko.

Spider-Man would have been the last major comic book character to have avoided big-screen treatment, therefore its potential was the subject of speculation and rumour for two decades. That is, until Sam Raimi finally brought Spider-Man to the cinema screen.

I only watched this very recently. I was surprised by how much I really enjoyed this film. It’s brilliant. I love it because it’s a lot more character-orientated than I thought it would be. While there are a lot of fight scenes (which are amazingly done and I imagine would have looked mind-blowing on the big screen), the story always comes back to the characters, which I loved. There’s just nothing complicated about this whatsoever. As usual, simple is always better!


Toby Maguire is fantastic. It’s amazing just how well he can play polar opposite personalities so well in the same movie. We’ve got the diffident and vulnerable Peter Parker, and then the bold and courageous Spider-Man. He does both parts equally convincingly and he is extremely likable as the hapless Peter Parker. I loved the gradual transformation his character makes. This was probably the film’s biggest success. Even the gradualness of the plot and the way the story is built. It’s perfect. The will-they-won’t-they romance with M.J. (Kirsten Dunst) is really touching, and even the relationship between Peter and his Aunt and Uncle is also quite emotional, particularly when both become victims of the Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe)’s tirade.

The film was nominated for two Academy Awards, including “Best Sound” and “Best Visual Effects”.

I recommend this movie 100%!


Wednesday, 14 October 2015

"Pay It Forward" (2000)

I think this is a really great film. For the most part maybe it’s a bit predictable, a bit sentimental and has the occasional clichéd moment…but it has a really important message that everyone would do well with seeing. That’s really why I love it! 

A social studies teacher (Kevin Spacey) gives an assignment to his class to think of an idea to change the world for the better, then put it into action. When one young student (Haley Joel Osment) creates a plan for "paying forward" favours, he not only affects the life of his alcoholic single mother (Helen Hunt), but he sets in motion an unprecedented wave of human kindness which, unbeknownst to him, has become a national phenomenon.

The story itself is different, original and one that provokes a lot of thought from the audience. This film has the potential to inspire you to be a better person. My only predicament with it is the ending. Not to spoil the film too much but I feel like it was completely random and frankly unnecessary. I feel like it just contradicts everything the film has been trying to hone into us beforehand. But I suppose it’s a judgement call…All that aside, I do actually believe it is a very underrated film. It's really worth the watch.

The three lead actors are all incredible. Haley Joel’s character, Trevor, is very similar to his role as Cole in The Sixth Sense. He seems to play the lonely-profoundly-thinking boy so well. For an actor his age at the time this film was made, he is really amazing, proving that he can hold his own equally amongst the adult actors. Kevin Spacey’s character had the most impact on me I think. He had very extensive burn scars and it was clear how insecure he felt about them. But Helen Hunt’s character, Arlene, didn’t consider them an issue, even thinking his avoidance was because he didn’t feel about her “that way”. I really liked this aspect of the plot. Kevin Spacey’s delivery of the moment we find out the reasons for his scarring is heart-breaking. This actor never disappoints. I loved the relationship between these three characters too.

The film didn’t run in chronological time, which I found a bit confusing. There were two plots essentially running through parallel to each other before coming together by the end. I’m not sure how necessary it was after. It was kind of interesting to see how they came together. It’s something to keep you wondering throughout the film. The plot otherwise is, frankly, quite predictable as I’ve said. But at the same time this doesn’t really matter because you’ll be so taken up with the acting anyway.

There are some very mixed feelings about this film. Some absolutely love it, some really hate it, while others are in between like me. I think it is worth viewing. But I would advise bringing the tissues and an open mind...


"A.I. Artificial Intelligence" (2001)

The first robotic boy programmed to love, David (Haley Joel Osment) is adopted as a test case by a Cybertronics employee (Sam Robards) and his wife (Frances O'Connor). Though he gradually becomes their child, a series of unexpected circumstances make this life impossible for David. Without final acceptance by humans or machines, David embarks on a journey to discover where he truly belongs.

This film is amazing. The imagination that went into it, the kind of world created, I loved it. I loved the sheer basicness of the plot. David’s main desire was to become a real boy because he wanted his mother to love him. The film makes many references to Pinocchio and in a sense, it is like an elaborate version of the famous fairy tale. The film was shot in 67 days. 

Haley Joel Osment is so fantastic in this film. It’s definitely one of his best. He’s extremely talented, for an actor that age, to do what he’s done. David’s character, being the central one in the film, is very interesting and important. Other androids, including Gigolo Joe, are made to look artificial with makeup and unmoving hair, but not David. He is considered to be the most advanced mecha of the corporation that made him. He appears so human that the belief is he may even be able to take the place of a couple’s sick child. This is not the case, however. It would be fair to say, while he is loved, it is more the love one has for a family pet, than another child.

There are so many heart breaking moments and emotional moments that I was on the edge of my seat for. The scene when the scrappier robots are taken captive and destroyed for public entertainment. The poor robots!! I had to pause these scenes several times because I was so afraid of what was going to happen or I didn’t want to watch it. There is a moment when David is in the ring and he started shouting “I’m David, I’m David”, I nearly started crying. I never cry for these moments.

Jude Law’s character, Gigolo Joe (a prostitute robot whom David encounters upon his journey), is kind of funny. There was a moment when David said they needed to find The Blue Fairy and explained that she was a woman, and Jude Law’s character suddenly exclaims in delight “I know women!” I admit I laughed out loud for that. I don’t know if one was supposed to...

And of course, you have to love Teddy, David’s insightful robotic toy! How could you not?

Robin Williams features in the film too as the voice of Dr Know, a robot Gigolo Joe takes David to when trying to find the Blue Fairy. I have to admit I didn’t recognise his voice when I was watching it!! I only saw his name in the credits afterwards and I had to do a double take. Robin Williams actually recorded his dialog for the film with Stanley Kubrick directing the recording session. He did it a long time before Steven Spielberg took over the directing. It’s really interesting how in another of Robin Williams’ films, “Bicentennial Man” (1999), he plays an android who wants to become human. Coincidence!

Director Stanley Kubrick was initially intended to direct this film in the early 1970s. However, the film could never get going because Kubrick felt that computer-generated imagery would not be effective or advanced enough for the character of David. At the time he believed that no child-actor could play David convincingly enough. As a result of this indecision, Kubrick handed the project over to Steven Spielberg. 

This film was the first to develop the use of the virtual studio. The technique allowed Steven Spielberg to walk through a virtual version of Rouge City with his camera and select shots. This technique was later used in The Lord of The Rings films. 

This will keep you thinking after the credits end. It’s kind of a bittersweet tale. You might like to have a box of tissues handy!! Definitely a must-see. 


Monday, 21 September 2015

"American Beauty" (1999)

This film is absolutely AMAZING. 

Directed by Sam Mendes, Lester (Kevin Spacey) and Carolyn Burnham (Annette Bening) are on the outside, a perfect husband and wife, in a perfect house, in a perfect neighbourhood. But inside, Lester is undergoing a midlife crisis, slipping deeper into a hopeless depression. He soon develops an infatuation with one of his daughter, Jane’s (Thora Birch) friends, Angela (Mena Suvari). Meanwhile, Jane develops a friendship with a boy next door named Ricky (Wes Betley), who lives with an abusive father (Chris Cooper) and videos her through his window. 

I love this film so much!! I really do. It is without a doubt one of the best you will see!

The narration in the opening scene by Kevin Spacey sets the atmosphere perfectly. I’m a fan of narration like this in movies anyway but whatever it was about this I liked a lot. Maybe it’s the fact he says “In less than a year, I’ll be dead” – That’s bound to peak anyone’s interest! You get a feel of how mundane this character’s life is from the word go. I like the aerial shot of the whole neighbourhood. I think it almost mirrors the character’s feelings of insignificance. You know, all the houses are the same, there’s so many of them and he is just one man in the middle of it all, nothing special. Then it immediately jumps to an aerial shot of this languid looking man sprawled across his bed as the alarm clock rings in an uncommonly tidy room. Your interest is heightened and despite not knowing much about him yet, your heart immediately goes out to him. 
Sam Mendes = brilliant director.

I love the manner in which we’re introduced to Lester’s wife and the neighbours. Just the way Kevin Spacey delivers his lines. I don’t know if I should, but I find it kind of comical. I also find Carolyn's sarcasm funny. There’s a lively feel to the script even though the character is feeling nearly dead inside. The writing in this film is incredible. I love the dialogue throughout the film.

However it does get the tiniest bit creepy kind of fast once it gets to the cheerleading scene and Lester begins fantasising over his daughter’s friend, Angela… And his wife is a horrible person! Once they were about to leave the school, finished for the night, and speaking to their daughter, she says to her “I was watching you very closely and you didn’t screw up once!” – What kind of mother says that to their daughter? No wonder the characters are feeling so oppressed living with remarks like that!! I can’t make up my mind whether the way Lester was talking to Angela in that scene was just weird or kind of comical.

The scene that follows is also slightly creepy. But one that has become one of the most iconic moments in film. We see Angela lying naked in a bed of rose petals…courtesy of Lester’s fantasies… The sequence manages to capture innocence and lust in a series of shots that could have been ridiculous but is instead artistically successful. While it is skilfully shot and not pornographic, it is still creepy when you consider the fact that Angela is only fifteen years old. However Sam Mendes has shot it in such a way that it never becomes paedophilic, despite the apparent perverted nature of the day dreams. Rose petals seem to be a common image throughout the film. Roses appear in quite a number of scenes from his fantasies, Caroline’s gardening in the beginning, to just in a vase in the background. Even the colour red actually appears quite a lot. The colour signifies lust, desire and danger which are basically the components that make up the story. I love the detail.

Then in the middle of all of this, we are also slowly being introduced to this creepy-stalker-camera-guy. (I don’t know what else you’d call him!) named Ricky. I like the way his aspect of the plot is built up. It’s done well I feel. You’re constantly kept guessing about what exactly he’s doing. I also love the way we are shown both house’s lives and then they become slowly interconnected. There’s a scene with him and Lester where they get high at the back of a building. Lester is attending a work party thing with his wife and is not enjoying himself to say the least. I laughed perhaps a little too much during that moment. But it was also the first time in the film where we saw Lester genuinely happy. You know, it was nice for him!

His character is kind of pathetic…at least in the first portion of the film. Because like there’s a scene a little later when he’s listening through the door to Jane and Angela’s conversation. Angela is remarking about Lester "If he worked out a little he'd be kind of hot" and she goes on about it trying to get a reaction out of Jane but he ran off down to the garage to find his old weights which it’s obvious he hasn’t used in years. I always feel embarrassed for him in that moment. But the way he runs across the corridor is hysterical! Kevin Spacey is a phenomenal actor.

What strikes me most about this film was how the creepiest guy, Ricky, of the whole lot of the characters, was probably the most profound. This film is very much focusing on the idea of how deceptive appearances or first impressions can be. He sees beauty where others don’t and that’s the whole point of the film and the title. There’s a scene where he has brought Jane home to his house after school and he asks her if she’d like to see the most beautiful thing he’s ever filmed. It turns out to be a bag blowing about in a breeze amongst some leaves. I love this moment. Just the gentleness of the music and the fact it was something so simple that everyone else takes for granted but he saw a beauty in it. I also loved it because I was so sure it was going to be a really clichéd moment of showing her a film he took of her, and I was just going to be like ‘for god’s sake’. But no. It probably doesn’t sound like much but if you watch it he explains why he filmed it: “That’s the day I realised there was this entire life behind things and this incredibly benevolent force that wanted me to know there was no reason to be afraid. Ever.”  I just love this scene. It’s probably one of my favourite moments in the film.

This is followed by the next best scene in the film! Jane arrives home and her parents have been in silence at the table until she sits down. They begin a very honeyed argument about the fact Lester quit his job. I love their dialogue in this scene. But what’s so brilliant is Lester finally stands up for himself properly once and for all. His daughter is about to go to her room, not wanting to be in the middle of their bickering, but he shouts “SIT DOWN!” and both women turn agog. He stands and makes a point of getting the plate of asparagus which he’d been asking for in between the bickering and being ignored, before sitting down again and declaring that he’s sick and tired of being treated like he doesn’t exist. He begins an overdue speech on the matter but is interrupted by his wife. He throws the plate of asparagus at the wall (not like angrily or anything) and tells her not to interrupt him again “honey”. Both women are completely in shock as he just sits down at the table again with a quiet and proud smile. I always feel so happy for him in this moment. I love this scene!! Apparently the throwing of the plate was improvised by Kevin Spacey and Thora Birch and Annette Bening didn’t know this was coming so their reactions are supposed to be genuine! This just makes this scene even more awesome!

Actually, as we're on the subject of best scenes in this film, there is also the one where Lester quits his job. That scene is epic. I mean...that is how it's done. It has to be mentioned! Also the scene when he is applying for his next job at the fast food restaurant, Smileys - Just brilliant. There are so many more too but if I started talking about them now I'd ruin the film for those who haven't seen it!!

As the film goes on you do begin to feel sorry for Carolyn too. She’s unhappy just as much as Lester is but expresses or deals with it differently. She describes herself as a victim and even though she’s partially the reason for the conflict in their household, she’s not wrong. All the characters are victims in their own way. This film actually really reminds me of “Revolutionary Road” which was also directed by Sam Mendes. They focus on much the same themes.

The directing and the editing is just absolutely amazing. Particularly in the scenes towards the end. It’s just incredible. I was screaming at the screen in horror the first time I watched it because I thought I knew what was going to happen but then while I was partially right there was still another shock revealed and I was just blown away by how the climax was constructed. It’s seriously incredible. You just have to watch it!! And whatever you do, don’t go onto YouTube before watching it!!!!

I like the music in the film too. Thomas Newman was the composer. He also composed the score for “Revolutionary Road”! There’s this one piece which plays at the beginning titled “Dead Already” and I just think it’s so perfect. It gives the film a lighter tone, fitting well with Lester’s festering cynicism and sarcastic undertone. The film won 5 Oscars including Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture. It also won 6 Baftas.

The only thing I have to say about an otherwise perfect film is the way it is promoted. I feel like the trailer and the stills make it look more like it’s going to be about a paedophile or some relation of porn, as opposed to an epic and well-constructed drama. Had it not been because of this initial impression, I probably would have watched it a lot sooner than I did. It put me off. But there you go! This is exactly the point being made throughout the film! One can’t simply judge something based on first impressions. One has to “look closer. Look closer.”!

 I could actually go on waffling about every single scene in this film, because there is a distinct brilliance to each one, but I’d only spoil the whole thing for those who haven’t seen it yet. So I’m going to stop here. I feel like this film teaches you that all you want in life can happen if you put your mind to it and take control of your own life as opposed to allowing others to control it. Do what you want to do and not what others tell you, you should do. It also teaches you to appreciate what you have before it’s too late. And to appreciate life and the world around you.

There are some twists. There are more turns. Between the directing, editing, writing, cinematography and acting, this film is seriously one of the best you will see.


Sunday, 13 September 2015

"The Usual Suspects" (1995)

This film is class!

"The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist," – words uttered by con-man Verbal Kint, as he refers to the enigmatic criminal, Keyser Soze. Throughout the film Verbal attempts to convince the police that the mythic Keyser Soze not only exists, but is also responsible for drawing Verbal and his four partners into a multi-million dollar heist that ended with an explosion in San Pedro Harbor leaving few survivors. The question is - Who is Keyser Soze? Directed by Bryan Singer, written by Christopher McQuarrie, and starring Kevin Spacey, Gabriel Byrne, Benicio Del Toro, Stephen Baldwin, Kevin Pollak, Chazz Palminteri and Pete Postlethwaite. 

I loved this film more than I initially thought I would. The first time I watched it I found it quite confusing between the complexity of the plot, and all the different names of characters being mentioned because they’re all quite ‘different’ names. But it’s so good! Apparently it all started with an idea from a movie poster of five of men in a line-up. So with a budget of $6 million, and over a shooting period of just 35 days, “The Usual Suspects” was born.

My favourite characters are probably Fenster (Benicio Del Toro) and Verbal. I love Kevin Spacey’s narration and he’s just an unreal actor. Apparently to make his disability seem more realistic, he glued his fingers on his left hand together, as well as filing down his shoes to make them look worn by his character's limp. But I just find Benicio Del Toro’s acting as Fenster hilarious. His unusual and slightly bizarre choice of dialect for his character was so unintelligible that the cast were encouraged to adlib reactions. Apparently Stephen Baldwin actually forgot his cue during one scene because he was unable to understand what Benicio Del Toro had said! And it's funny because his character wasn't written to have such an unintelligible dialect, it was Benicio Del Toro's choice for his character. It really makes the film though, I think.

The line-up scene was apparently originally written to be a serious scene. However the actors were laughing and messing around so much that director Bryan Singer had to put one of these versions in. – Just goes to show what editing can do! Blame supposedly lies with Benicio Del Toro's flatulence. You can see Gabrial Byrne smothering a laugh in the middle of the scene. I like this version better though. I don’t think it would have worked as well being serious because it shows the characters bonding, which is important for the scenes to come! But again, Benicio Del Toro’s delivery of his lines in this scene are just priceless. If I had to pick a favourite scene from the movie this is probably it.

The scene when they're all talking in the jail cell after the line-up is pretty funny too. I love Fenster's rambling in the beginning and again, the delivery of his lines are just priceless.

After Gabriel Byrne agreed to star in the film, he then backed out suddenly due to personal problems. The filming crew agreed to make the film in Los Angeles in just five weeks so that he could do it! Their effort was well worth it though because he's brilliant as Keaton. I'd heard his name before but had never seen him in anything until watching this film.

I think the film is considered to have one of the biggest twists of all time. It is pretty huge. The first time I watched it I had to read the plot on Wikipedia straight afterwards because I didn’t really believe it and had to make sure I was hearing it right!! Looking back at the clues it’s very well written. They’re all there but not obvious even when you watch it again. I love that.

The inspiration for the character of Keyser Soze was a real-life murderer by the name of John List, who murdered his family and then disappeared for 17 years. Lovely. They show the scene in the film when Keyser Soze’s family are murdered. I didn’t care for it. But it’s not really graphic…as such, because of the way it’s edited. I thought it was kind of clever. There’s another shot later on too actually after Keaton (Gabriel Byrne) has been talking to one of Keyser Soze’s associates that I really liked. Keaton is looking through the room the associate has entered and his reflection in the opposite window is revealed once someone’s shadow appears on the window. I don’t know if that description makes any sense to people but if you watch the film sometime you’ll know what I mean. I just thought it was cool; different.

The F-word is used 98 times throughout the film apparently. I would well believe that. Neither Bryan Singer nor Christopher McQuarrie realized that the film's famous line, "the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist", was actually a quote from French poet Baudelaire. The interrogation scenes were shot over a period of five days before the rest of the film.

This is such a great movie! You absolutely need to check it out! It’s one of the better ones for sure! 


Monday, 7 September 2015

"Rain Man" (1988)

Despite this film first opening with a disappointing $6 million in sales, within the following weeks it generated great word of mouth amongst movie viewers, allowing it to steadily climb to the number 1 slot until it became the highest-grossing movie of 1988.

When car dealer Charlie Babbitt (Tom Cruise) learns that his estranged father has died, he returns home where he discovers that he has an autistic older brother named Raymond (Dustin Hoffman) and that his father's $3 million fortune is being left to the mental institution in which Raymond lives. Motivated by his father's money, Charlie checks Raymond out of the facility in order to return with him to Los Angeles. The brothers' cross-country trip ends up changing both their lives.

This is such a good film! I can't imagine anyone not liking it. Just both the acting and cinematography are wonderful. I didn’t really like Tom Cruise's character, Charlie, but I don’t think you were supposed to! Money was all that was in the man’s head. Still, I loved the relationship that formed between him and his brother as the film progressed. There is a scene towards the beginning when the lawyer is reading the will to Charlie. Charlie replies in a moment of frustration, "I definitely got the rose bushes, I have definitely got the rose bushes." This foreshadows Raymond's extensive use of the word "definitely" later on. I think it’s interesting writing. Charlie is just so indifferent to least for the most part. He’s witnessed how good Raymond is with numbers but doesn’t appreciate it until it’s proven by a psychiatrist and even then he just uses Raymond for his own interest. He’s a very self-centred person. But this is what makes the movie so compelling to watch: seeing the relationship between the two brothers developing throughout the film. He does show moments of consideration gradually as he becomes accustomed to Raymond's needs and wants, and when he does it's quite touching. After all, he's not a bad person! He's just a bit hot-headed...particularly when it comes to money...

One of my favourite moments was when Charlie and Raymond are singing together in the bathroom of a motel during their excursion, after Charlie accidentally calls Raymond “Rain Man”. I think this was the moment Charlie began to genuinely care about Raymond. I also love the moment when Charlie decides to teach Raymond how to dance in Vegas. But the best quote from the film is surely when Charlie says “I had a father I hardly knew.  A mother I didn’t know at all.  I found out a few days ago that I have a brother and I want to be with him.

Both Jack Nicholson and Robert De Niro turned down the part of Raymond. Dustin Hoffman was originally to play the part of Charlie. However, after being moved to tears seeing a savant named Leslie Lemke (who is blind, mentally handicapped, and has cerebral palsy) play full concertos on the piano by ear, he decided to play the part of Raymond instead. He is absolutely fantastic. Yet, he was supposed to be very apprehensive about his own performance. But lo and behold, it garnered him a well-deserved Oscar at that year’s Academy Awards! Fun fact: the boy at the pancake counter is apparently Dustin Hoffman’s son.

I find it remarkable knowing that although they share co-screenwriting credit, Barry Morrow and Ronald Bass never met until the awards ceremonies they attended when the film started garnering awards. To me that just sounds crazy!

This is definitely a film not to be missed!


Friday, 4 September 2015

"Se7en" (1995)

When retiring police Detective William Somerset (Morgan Freeman) tackles a final case with the aid of newly transferred David Mills (Brad Pitt), they discover a number of elaborate and grizzly murders. They soon realize they are dealing with a serial killer (Kevin Spacey) who is targeting people he thinks represent one of the seven deadly sins. Somerset also befriends Mills' wife, Tracy (Gwyneth Paltrow), who is pregnant and afraid to raise her child in the crime-riddled city.

This film is unreal. It’s chilling, creepy, and written fabulously. I absolutely love the way it's constructed with the whole thing around the seven deadly sins being the backdrop for each murder. I think the way it’s done is really clever. I love how you can see how much thought went into the writing of the plot. But it’s so original! It’s horrible but bloody brilliant!

I love the title sequence in this film. I just think it’s really cool. Sort of creepy. I found this a lot easier to get into than other similar themed films. It’s quite graphic but without always being too graphic…if that makes sense! The writing feeds you the details without showing them to you directly. It’s all about the power of suggestion. Your imagination can go so much further. That’s not to say there weren’t some disgusting moments thrown in there. The Sloth Victim was pretty awful. I got such a fright during that scene the first time I watched it, it was terrible!!

Morgan Freeman is so easy to watch and is a really, really great actor. It's his expressions and demeanour in this film; I think the moments when he doesn't have dialogue show how skillful an actor he is more than having the dialogue. Brad Pitt was never an actor I was particularly inclined to watch but I have to say he was good enough in this. His character got a little annoying and there are moments I wish he'd just 'ssshhh'...but what can you do? I love that there’s a bit of humour thrown into the mix as well. It’s not all serious-murder-mystery. There’s a scene when Somerset is asked to dinner with Mills and his wife. During their conversation they all just break into laughter. It’s quite funny. I think it's Morgan Freeman's expression that's just priceless. Also, throughout the film Mills and Somerset don’t always see eye to eye so their occasional quips at one another can be quite funny too. 


But it’s Kevin Spacey who, despite only being in the film for like 2 or 3 scenes at most, completely steals the show. He is just unreal. His character, John Doe, kind of reminds me of Hannibal Lector in ‘The Silence of The Lambs’ but creepier and more intense…if that’s possible!! Both are quiet, calm and insanely intelligent, but underneath complete psychos. The scene when he surrenders is a perfect example of this demeanour. I love how he comes in quietly then suddenly screams to get their attention. It's kind of funny actually but it's also so creepy when you know all that he's done before walking in to them. I wonder if this scenes says more about the character than you think though. This person may have been ignored repeatedly his whole life, which could be mirrored in this scene as he walks into the room, covered in blood, yet is paid no attention until he screams. Now he has something to say and so he does it in a way he can't be ignored and people will listen. If he has experienced isolation like this he would have been simply observing people from afar and this would be how he came to his seven deadly sins conclusion, leading to his killing spree. I'm not excusing his behaviour but these are just my musings on the matter! He has an brilliant monologue towards the end of the film about the seven sins and how people are constantly committing them but the act is always overlooked. “It’s trivial” he says. When you’re listening to him you can’t deny the man might have a slight point…even if his means of rectifying the situation are horrifyingly backwards.

I've always felt Gwenyth Paltrow's character to be a bit out of place, but I don't really know why. I just could never get why she expressed such a need to befriend Somerset. It's just she speaks more to him throughout the film than she does to her husband despite how happy they're supposed to be. It's just the only aspect of the plot I could never grasp fully, which isn't really a criticism of the film, it's just my own pondering.

There’s a huge and shocking twist towards the end. I unintentionally spoiled it for myself through YouTube. Not knowing anything much about this film prior to watching it, I "cleverly" decided to watch a random scene just to see if it would be something I could get into…But I really picked the wrong scene…So I didn’t get the same impact as I probably should have, which I’ve always been disappointed about! Like everyone knows the quote "What's in the box?" and I knew of it too, I just didn't know at the time this was the film it was from... I bet not knowing the twist would have been absolutely amazing though! Oh well. Let this be a lesson for people, I guess!! Never go on YouTube prior to watching a movie!!!!!

Regardless, with or without knowing the twist, this is still definitely a film that needs to be watched. It’s incredible.


"The Life of David Gale" (2003)

Directed by Alan Parker. David Gale (Kevin Spacey), a college professor and long-time activist against capital punishment, has been sentenced to death for raping and killing a fellow capital punishment opponent. Four days prior to his execution, reporter Bitsey Bloom (Kate Winslet) has been asked to interview him. Over three days Gale proves his innocence through a series of lengthy flashbacks.  Laura Linney also co-stars.

I sort of randomly decided to watch this film yesterday without really knowing anything about it other than Kate Winslet and Kevin Spacey were in it, so I said ok let’s see what it’s like. But oh it was so stressful to watch. And heart breaking. I was literally at the edge of my seat towards the end. Not figuratively speaking, literally the edge of my seat with the tension. That’s only ever happened to me for one other movie and that was ‘Ghost’! I get far too engrossed in films…

I don’t regret watching it but I couldn’t sleep at all last night after it. I was sure I’d be having nightmares after the video tape scenes. They were talking about the murder and the rape but I didn’t think they’d show it and then they did so I got a bit of a land. It’s horrible. But that wasn’t why I couldn’t sleep. Ok it was part of it, but…This film just makes you think. I suppose much of its focus is around the death penalty and whether or not the punishment of execution is right or wrong. There was one scene in which a reporter was discussing the upcoming execution of David Gale and people were cheering. I don’t understand how someone can get so much enjoyment over someone’s death, no matter how evil a thing they may or may not have done. You hear of events like this happening some time back in history but you don’t think too much on it because you assume people have better morals today. After watching this I’m not sure has anything really changed. I just found it baffling. What kind of world do we really live in? Like Gale says, "No one sees a person when they look through that glass, they see a murderer and a rapist three days shy of his execution". But it’s not all about the death penalty either. This is merely one aspect. There is so much more to this film. It makes you think about your own beliefs as a person, how you would like to be remembered after you’re gone, the kind of life you lead, and most importantly the choices everyone makes. It also shows how powerful a person's belief can be.

Both Kate Winslet and Kevin Spacey are, needless to say, amazing actors. Unbelievable. I love when I get sucked into a film and really care about the characters. And these actors have a huge knack for that. Watching Kate Winslet’s face as she viewed the video tape was just…I wanted to cry with her. And she pulls off an American accent extremely well too. Kevin Spacey’s acting in this is just incredible. One of his best roles perhaps.

This is why I’m so torn between praising the film, or feeling completely infuriated by the whole thing. The story, while in my opinion was really well written, keeping you guessing and revealing its twists and turns at appropriate paces, is horrifyingly frustrating. Not to give too much away, but I found the ending both gauling and so unexpected. And this is the reason why I couldn’t sleep after watching it. I just kept going over and over it. Just...why? I can't fathom it.

The editing in the film is perfect. The use of inter-cutting is a huge aspect throughout and works exceedingly well. Particularly in the climatic scenes. The tension, as I’ve said, was almost unbearable and it was down to the use of inter-cutting as well as the accompanying music.

I thought it was a tough watch. I don't know if everyone will, at least quite as much! Other reviews seem to be quite mixed. I don't know why though because it is an amazing film. It will keep surprising you right until the credits roll! That is why my advice is don’t read too many reviews or look up too much about it. Just go watch it and have the experience yourself!


Thursday, 3 September 2015

"The Silence of The Lambs" (1991)

When the FBI fail to develop any leads as to the identity of a brutal serial killer operating in the mid-west chief Jack Crawford (Scott Glenn) assigns trainee agent Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) to interview convicted psychopath, Dr Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins). Crawford hopes to wrong-foot the dangerous cannibal by sending an unworthy trainee and Starling must attempt to gain profiling information from Lecter without revealing too much of herself. Directed by Jonathan Demme and based on the novel by Thomas Harris.

It’s been a few years since I’ve seen it and I’ve only seen it the once but I just thought I might as well do a review on it! But oh my, where does one start?

Ok. Technically I didn’t like this film because, I know everyone says that the conversations between Starling and Lecter are the best bits from the film; really tense and frightening or really great, but omg I found them kind of boring. Personally I just could not get into the film. I don’t really know why. I feel like it’s one that should have been really frightening to me because I don’t like this subject matter at all, like I just can’t stomach it really…But I thought ok I’ll give it a go since everyone seems to know about it and I just wanted to see what all the fuss was about. But no. I do appreciate the technicalities of it as a horror film and think it is well made and deserves all the praise it got for what it is. It is, after all, completely twisted, sick and horrifying. Certainly not for the faint hearted. There will never be another ‘The Silence of The Lambs’ that is for sure.

Anthony Hopkins plays Hannibal Lecter with a calmness that could make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. He’s so calm it’s intense and you can never be fully certain what he will do or what he will say or what he is really thinking. He is a psycho but insanely intelligent. Anthony Hopkins had the idea of Lecter dressing in white because it would remind people of dentists and doctors – people who made them feel automatically apprehensive. It’s a small thing but it’s clever! Anthony Hopkins invented the fast, slurping-type sound that Hannibal Lecter does. He did it spontaneously during filming on the set, and everyone thought it was great.  But apparently Sean Connery was, the director John Demme’s, first choice to play Lecter. I’m kind of curious to see how that might have gone…But at the same time I can’t really imagine anyone else playing Lecter to the level Anthony Hopkins did. Apparently when his agent rang him up in London to tell him that he was sending him a script called "The Silence of the Lambs", he immediately thought he might be going up for a children's movie. Oh how wrong he was… In any case, he received a much deserved Oscar for the role, as did Jodie Foster for hers. At 24 minutes and 52 seconds, Anthony Hopkins's performance in this movie is the second shortest to ever win an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, with David Niven in Separate Tables (1958) beating him by one minute.

Jodie Foster is very good in her role as Clarice Starling. Personally, I wasn’t mad about her in this film and I’ve never been able to figure out why because you couldn’t possibly fault her performance. I think it was just the character she was playing to be honest. Apparently actresses like Michelle Pfeiffer, Meg Ryan Geena Davis and Melanie Griffith were all considered for the part prior to choosing Jodie Foster. In the scene where Starling tells Lecter about the lambs if you listen apparently a small crash can be heard part-way through. Apparently a crew member dropped a wrench but Jodie Foster so liked the take, which she hadn't broken despite the noise, she convinced Jonathan Demme to keep it. Apparently, Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster only actually share four scenes throughout the course of the film.

The iconic or signature image of the moth over the mouth is actually quite interesting. At a glance, the moth head looks to be a skull, however if you look closer you’ll realise it is actually a piece by surrealist artist Salvador Dali, named ‘In Voluptas Mors’, depicting the arrangement of seven naked women to look like a skull. The title itself comes from a particular conversation between Starling and Lector. Lector has information about the serial killer Buffalo Bill, but won't give Clarice any clues about his identity until she shares some of her childhood memories. One of which was her memories of living near a slaughter house.

There are some horrible scenes in this film. Twisted, sick, god-awful scenes.  Anyone who has seen the film will recall the line “It puts the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again” – probably one of the most quoted lines in the movie. I remember there was one scene where I think a woman is being attacked in the back of a van. I literally just got up and walked out of the room during that scene. I wasn’t sticking around for that. There was another image that has remained with me ever since of a body splayed out on a wall, guts and gore for all to see. I did not care for that. More scenes too are pretty brutal. It certainly doesn't spare you anyway!! Buffalo Bill’s basement prison is the stuff of nightmares. But even just the whole concept and details within the story itself are…there isn’t even a word. It’s just sick. I find myself wondering how these sordid tales even get made in the first place. Urgh things like this are just everything that is wrong the with the world. Because I mean, if you think about it, it’s kind of appalling. It's almost like encouraging this sadistic behaviour. I know it's only a movie but I feel that surely that is beside the point.

Apparently Buffalo Bill is the combination of three real-life serial killers: Ed Gein, who skinned his victims, Ted Bundy, who used the cast on his hand as bait to convince women to get into his van, and Gary Heidnick, who kept women he kidnapped in a pit in his basement. Charming, right? Like I say this film isn’t for the faint hearted and it is details like this that were probably why I didn’t give it my full attention when I watched it in the first place. But jeez his character was psychotic. Of all the psychos concocted for the purpose of horror cinema, I would nearly say this Buffalo Bill fellow is the worst. He’s just…I don’t even know a word for what he is. I’m quite happy that my memories of this film are as vague as they are. I feel like I was lucky. Apparently the character’s famous dance scene was not included in the original draft of the screenplay, although it appears in the novel. It was added at the insistence of Ted Levine (who plays him), who thought the scene was essential in defining the character. I must be honest and say I found it so weird and I remember thinking to myself ‘what the hell am I watching?’ On a side and vaguely related note, apparently the final day of shooting on the climactic basement scene took something like 22 hours! That is just crazy.

As of 2015, this is the only horror film to win an Oscar for Best Picture. Only four others have been nominated: The Exorcist (1973), Jaws (1975), The Sixth Sense (1999), and Black Swan (2010). I think that’s amazing when you think about it. In fairness, it is quite possibly one of the most disturbing and harrowing horror films to have been made. Would I recommend it?  I’m not quite sure. I guess if you’re a big movie fan, it is one to see, or if you are simply an avid horror fan then it’s one you can’t really not see. My honest conclusion is that I didn’t like the film, but not because it was a bad film, technically it’s a harrowingly good film, my objection is just because of the subject matter.