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TitleSinister

Number: Two Hundred and Forty-Eight

Director: Scott Derrickson

WriterScott Derrickson & C. Robert Cargill

GenreSupernatural Horror.

Released2012

Seen On: Cinema

Seen Before: Never.

Running Time110 minutes

StarringEthan Hawke, Juliet Rylance, Clare Foley, Michael Hall D’Addario, Fred Thompson, James Ransone, Vincent D’Onofrio

Favorite Moment: The argument scene between Ellison and Tracy.

Thoughts: It may not surprise you to hear that I am not a fan of the current wave of horror films. I enjoyed Paranormal Activity and the first sequel, I also enjoyed the Saw movies for their plot, but didn’t find them scary. A lot of horror movies, I struggle to care for. I watched The Woman In Black, and felt it relied on too many jump scares at times. Jump scares, are when something jumps out at the screen, which is a brief scare for the audience, i.e. a cat jumps out of a cupboard. This is lazy and generic, an attitude that showcases a writer and director unable to create a true horror film. So, when I heard that Sinister was getting critically acclaimed reviews, my interest was piqued.

First of all, a refreshing change was the choice of leading actor. Ethan Hawke is an Award-nominated  actor who is renowned for his performances in Dead Poet’s Society, Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Training Day. I myself had been blown away by his performances in Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. Here, he gives a weathered levity to his character, Ellison Oswalt, his actions hinting at the impact that his lifestyle takes on him. He presents a excited attitude, mixed with a minimal desperation, to the people around him, but, when by himself, his shoulders sag, his hands gripe for a whiskey glass, and his eyes droop with tiredness, eyes that seem to have seen too much already. His desperation to achieve success that he once had a taste of gives his character an understanding of, that allows the audience to believe in. When he makes a decision, whilst we may question the intelligence of it, we can understand why he would make THAT decision. Because we can understand Ellison’s mentality, as well as his gradual developing belief in what is occurring, the film works better. At times, we don’t need to see what happens, we can use his reactions as an indication of what is occurring.

The supporting cast is quite strong as well, Ellison’s relationship with Tracy, played by Juliet Rylance, is established early on, they love each other and Tracey supports him, but underneath the surface is a struggle to live, a weight of Ellison’s determination leaving their personal lives on a knife-edge. This leads to probably the best scene in the film, which isn’t a horror scene, but a scene purely between Ellison and Tracey where the emotion of what they have experienced has finally landed on them, and they argue with one another. It’s a rawer scene that relies on the human emotional that exists within them, and it impacts because we have seen elements of their characters in the build-up. The family side makes the audience care about them.

The horror side, now is two mixes. We have the build-up tension, where Ellison investigates the house he has moved into his family, a house that had several murders committed in years beforehand. He hears noises, looks outside, inside, and in the attic. As he investigates, the scene cranks up in tension, and the audience becomes on edge. Now and again, it turns out to be a jump scare, but other times, it turns out to be something real. Because the jump scares are infrequent, it feels better placed, allowing the audience a moment to breathe, as well as making the actual scares, that much more terrifying. On the other hand, we have the more violent scenes, the playing of several Super 8 footage, where Ellison discovers footage of people being killed. What helps these scenes is that, blood and gore is only hinted at, we rarely see the actual deaths, we see the build-up to the deaths, as well as the victims existing beforehand, in everyday circumstances. This allows the audience to equate these victims as true, everyday people, before seeing the shocking murders. This mix of horror allows each to have its own level of impact, as well attacking multi-facets of horror, not relying on one style. I enjoyed this style, as it gave the film a feel of a three-ring circus, i.e. if you don’t like the clowns, you can have the lion tamer. Here, we get the lion-tamer and the clowns, as opposed to just 90 minutes of a clown.

Whilst the tension builds up well, and the gore horrifies the audience, there is a negative: the villain. Oh, the methods it utilizes for its murders is fantastic, and when you briefly glimpse the villain, it’s creepy. When it’s in the background, it’s terrifying and uncomfortable. But when you see the villain properly…the design was questionable. There were some mild snickering at my cinema at the design of the killer, which definitely wasn’t the aim of the creators. It should have gone the way of Alien, where you never see the proper Xenomorph properly, just briefly in the shadows.  For the first 80% of the movie, you only get glimpses of it, which works brilliantly, but the 20% at the end, subverts the terror of the villain. Thankfully, the final 10 minutes of the film makes up for this, leaving the audience rigid in fear.

I would also like to give special mention to the soundtrack. Some of the best soundtracks instantly make a movie better. With Horror films, you have HalloweenJawsThe ExorcistMy first thoughts when hearing the soundtrack was that it reminded me of the TV show American Horror Storywhich would have sound effects in the background to accentuate the creep factor. At times, there could be nothing happening, and the music would have you on edge, waiting for something to happen! This is an example of a soundtrack giving weight to a movie, as instead of something forgettable in the background, it taps into your subconscious, so your mind is left waiting for something terrifying to occur. I was impressed by the soundtrack, and would recommend it to anyone who wants to scare someone else for Halloween.

Overall, as a horror film, whilst the story doesn’t contain anything new, it does create something different, putting a polished spin on a script that could have ended up with an unimaginative hack job. Here, Derrickson and Cargill reach for a better standard of horror, and instantly puts pressure on Paranormal Activity 4 to better it.

Rating (Horror genre): 8 out of 10.

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Title: The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford

Number: One Hundred and Fifty-Six

Writer & Directer: Andrew Dominik

Genre: Western Drama.

Released: 2007.

Seen on: DVD.

Seen Before: Twice before.

Starring: Brad Pitt, Casey Affleck, Mary-Louise Parker, Zooey Deschanel, Sam Shepard, Sam Rockwell, Garret Dillahunt, Jeremy Renner, 

Running Time: 120 minutes.

Favorite Performance: Brad Pitt as Jesse James

Favorite Moment: A beautiful shot, that epitomizes the amazing cinematography within a film, during a night time robbery.

Favorite Line: The final narration.

Thoughts“The Assassination of Jesse James” is a film that fell under the radar when it was first released, despite the inclusion of Brad Pitt. Since its release, its cast has gradually gone on to become some of the strongest, most popular character actors around, such as Sam Rockwell, Jeremy Renner, Garret Dillahunt, and of course, Casey Affleck. The choice of actors for each role leads to a magnificent ensemble cast, whose chemistry with one another creates a pulsating movie, the actors bounce off each other and you really feel they are bringing the best out of each other.

Brad Pitt portrays a soulful, poetically beautiful portrayal of Jesse, a man near the end of his life and struggling with the decisions he had made in life. The strong, charismatic actions, mixed with the self-deploring depiction, leaves Pitt as a fascinating character, possibly one of the most multi-dimensional characters I have seen in years. The mournful nature of his character is haunting.

However, the star of the show, and the true protagonist, is Casey Affleck, as Robert Ford. A seemingly innocuous character, his gradual metamorphosis into an angry, conflicted killer is a fantastically-paced character arc that draws in the audience, the quiet desperation to impress Jesse flowing into an angry unappreciated adult. The character could have been annoying, or frustrating, but Affleck is able to inject a sorrow into Ford, the audience left also conflicted at their feelings for him.

The pacing of the film may feel slow, but it allows an intensive examination of both the characters and the world they inhabit, meaning that the impact of the actions they take has more impact. This is backed up by a wondrous musical score which is so excellent, you could listen to it anytime. It has an element of melancholy as well as a reflective air to it, as scored by the awesome genius, Nick Cave. Dominik utilizes a cinematography brilliance that earned an Academy Award nomination, which is unsurprising, there is a dream-esque beauty to every frame of cinema, beautiful.

This is a film that requires patience, but you earn a wonderful appreciation in return for a film that knocks it out of the park in performances from the actors, musicians, director, cinematographers, and creates a distinctive movie that can be enjoyed by many.

Thumbs Up, 9 out of 10

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Title: Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Number: One Hundred and Fifty-Three

Directer: James Cameron

Writer: James Cameron & William Wisher Jr

Genre: Science Fiction Action.

Released: 1991.

Seen on: DVD.

Seen Before: Several times before.

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Robert Patrick, Edward Furlong, Earl Boen, Joe Morton

Running Time: 139 minutes.

Favorite Performance: Robert Patrick as T-1000.

Favorite Moment: T-1000 in a truck chases T-800 & John Connor on a motorbike.

Favorite Line: "Hey Janelle, what’s wrong with Wolfie? I can hear him barking?" "Wolfie’s fine, honey, Wolfie’s just fine. Where are you?"

Thoughts"Terminator 2" is often seemingly more of a favorite for fans than the original, they prefer the large set-pieces and action over the smaller, more haunting original. I’m the opposite, I enjoy the sequel, but there is always little bits that lower my enjoyment of the film.

First of all, the cast is very good again. No Michael Biehn this time, but Arnold takes center stage again, this time as the protagonist, allowing him this time to tap into one of his unheralded strengths, his comedic timing. His chemistry with Edward Furlong leads to some good lines and dialogue, however, it does veer slightly into the cringe section, for me, with dialogue such as “I need a vacation”, it makes the Terminator too human for me. Furlong does an okay job, he comes across as the right amount of shocked and in-over-his-head, and he gradually becomes more confident as the film goes on. Hamilton’s style is changed here to the equivalent of a PTSD war veteran, which shes does well, but it does leave her seeming very one-note in the latter half of the movie.

My favorite performance is that of Robert Patrick, here he comes across as a feline almost, a limber, fluid, cat-like entity, Patrick’s portrayal us very good and he fills a huge expectation, you can actually believe in him being a threat to Arnold. The best moments, are the quiet moments, where Patrick just quietly assesses the situation around him, his body shape reacting to the scene, he is just fantastic.

Which leads to the problem for me. There is probably a 40 minute space where the villain is completely forgotten whilst the heroes attack a science building. Whilst a magnificent set-piece, it is, in essence, a set-piece, that seems to have been included just because it could be. I feel like you could remove the entire sub-plot with Miles Dyson and to be honest, it wouldn’t matter at all. It would miss one or two great set-pieces, but the story itself, there is no change. When the main villain is completely forgotten for about 40 minutes, that to me feels a misstep.

However, the set-pieces in the film are some of the best in action history. Cameron has a magnificent eye for immersing the audiences into set-pieces, with classics such as the truck/car chase scene, the first meeting of the Terminators, and the T-800’s police shootout. It does like feel like a magnificent roller coaster, even if it feels like the roller coaster goes on 20 minutes longer than needed.

For me, this is a fantastic sequel that goes bigger and not in a bad way. It feels very akin to the difference between “Alien” & “Aliens”, it just so happens to be by the same director.

Thumbs Up, 8 out of 10

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Title: The Terminator

Number: One Hundred and Forty-Nine

Directer: James Cameron

Writer: James Cameron, Gale Anne Hurd, William Wisher Jr

Genre: Science-Fiction Action.

Released: 1984.

Seen on: DVD.

Seen Before: Several times before.

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Biehn, Linda Hamilton, Earl Boen, Paul Winfield, Lance Henriksen

Running Time: 108 minutes.

Favorite Performance: Michael Biehn as Kyle Reese.

Favorite Moment: The Terminator attacks a police station.

Favorite Line: “Come with me if you want to live.” Kyle Reese.

ThoughtsI can probably easily say ‘The Terminator’ is one of the best made films I have ever seen, as a science-fiction movie, an action movie, a horror movie. It combines several genres into a premise that interests and draws in the audience from the beginning. The exposition scenes are done fantastically in this film, throwing them into chase scenes so there is a natural unveiling of the backstory, as opposed to bogging the film down. The pacing of the film is instrumental to the success of the film, at no point does it feel padded, or slumping, it has a purpose and works because of it.

Arnold Schwarzenegger will always get the plaudits as one of the most terrifying depictions of an antagonist, he reminds me slightly of “Night Of The Hunter”, tapping into the unnerving style of Robert Mitchum. Arnold has a habit of slowly turning his head, as if his intelligence is analyzing everything around him. Arnold uses his stilted, accented dialogue to create an unnatural antagonist, and his hulking frame leads to a terrifying chase through several scenes. You believe he isn’t human.

However, for me, my favorite has always been Michael Biehn, I always felt he had the most difficult job, he was “Mr. Exposition”, and he does a fantastic job of creating of an interesting protagonist without being bogged down by the knowledge. His desperation and resourcefulness makes him feel very human and three-dimensional to the audience, he is the bridge between the audience and the world he inhabits, as he explains to Sarah Connor, so he does to the audience. He has a persona of a soldier, and easily transfers that idea of a man used to battle dealing with a world he doesn’t understand. A very understated, and under-appreciated role, from Biehn.

Linda Hamilton here plays the equivalent of “the final girl” in a horror film, thrown into a situation she isn’t prepared for, chased by a monster that can’t be stopped. The fact she turns out to be so important makes the character feel refreshing, and Hamilton’s innocence makes her a very endearing character. Hamilton’s main role seems to be the girl in distress, but in actual fact, her character arc develops her over the movie into a capable future soldier, thanks to her relationship with Reese.

Another fantastic inclusion is the soundtrack, it accomplishes at building up the atmosphere and has an instant air-punch to its style, a glorious musical piece that you can enjoy. James Cameron utilizes his directorial ability, mixed with a strong story, and believable performances. This is a classic piece of cinema, and probably my favorite of Cameron’s.

Thumbs Up, 10 out of 10

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Title: The Notebook

Number: One Hundred and Forty-Two

Directer: Nick Cassavetes

Writer: Jeremy Leven & Jan Sardi

Genre: Romance Drama.

Released: 2004.

Seen on: DVD.

Seen Before:  Several times before.

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams, James Garner, Gena Rowlands, James Marsden, Sam Shepard, Joan Allen

Running Time: 123 minutes.

Favorite Performance: James Garner as Duke.

Favorite Moment: Noah & Allie take a boat ride around the house, and the rain begins to fall.

Favorite Line: “Why didn’t you write me?” Allie cries at Noah.

ThoughtsI usually don’t enjoy romances, to be honest, I find them very repetitive. It takes a refreshingly different example usually in order to interest me, or a very well made one. This, has a bit of both, with the use of two storylines running parallel to each other, and some tremendous work on the film.

This is mostly a solid romantic drama, the relationship between Noah & Allie is slowly built up, and experiences tribulations before getting through them. But a refreshing change was the idea that they weren’t depicted as completely happy 100%, they regularly argue and challenge each other, which makes them come across as more believable. It also helps them build them as individuals but also equals, being properly in love.

Ryan Gosling is one of the best actors around at the moment, he just immerses so much belief into his character, and here, he portrays a teenage boy who falls for a rich girl during the summer, and whilst the character could have come across as quite fanatical, here, Gosling provides a warmth and heart to the character, which means the audience warm to him too.

Rachel McAdams is not only beautiful in an old-fashioned, graceful manner, but she always possesses an inner strength and determination which makes her come across as a strong, female persona, who the audience both admire and feel themselves falling for. I found myself both supporting the lovebirds and falling for them slightly myself.

However, I think it is the other storyline that truly cements this romantic film as such a strong one. James Garner & Gena Rowlands are beautiful together, Rowlands playing an old woman suffering from Alzheimer’s and Garner playing Duke, who reads a story to her about Noah & Allie. These are the scenes that feel fresh and draw me in most, offering a great range of emotion, and it is in their scenes that really hit home. Both storylines work well, however, it is the second storyline that leaves impact.

There is also some gorgeous cinematography, with the use of direction within the countryside and wondrous shots of the sun dawning over a river, leaves you marveling. This is another section that feels different and involving compared to most romance films.

I admit, I love this film, and will probably always find myself emotionally involved. It isn’t the classics that ‘Before Sunrise’ & ‘Before Sunset’ are, but it comes close.

Thumbs Up, 8 out of 10

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Title: The World Is Not Enough

Number: One Hundred and Forty

Directer: Michael Apted

Writer:  Neal Purvis, Robert Wade & Bruce Feirstein

Genre: Spy.

Released: 1999.

Seen on: DVD.

Seen Before: Few times before, but not for a while.

Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Sophie Marceau, Robert Carlyle, Denise Richards, Judi Dench, Desmond Llewellyn, Robbie Coltrane

Running Time: 128 minutes.

Favorite Performance: Pierce Brosnan as James Bond

Favorite Moment/Line:  James kills the villain in cold blood, softly saying “I never miss.”

ThoughtsI’m probably gonna point to this film as the moment that you started feeling the tiredness of the series. As number nineteenth, and the feeling they had to build on all the previous films, they tried to do something a little different, tapping into the ‘current events’, and making the villains terrorists & company owners. There is some good stuff here, that could have made a great film. There are also some sections that really lower the standard.

First, the gadgets are getting more ridiculous. There is an inclusion of a pair of sunglasses, which can be used as X-Ray glasses…okay, just a set-up for a ridiculous moment where James looks at women in a casino, seeing them in their underwear. Yeah, they also have guns, but really, this just begins to present Bond as a pervert, as opposed to sauve. Another gadget that annoyed me was a credit-card/key, which appeared out of nowhere. This felt like an opportunity where Bond could have demonstrated an old-fashioned ability as a spy, instead of being reliant on gadgets. This began to annoy me slightly at this point.

Also, I think the inclusion of Denise Richards as a nuclear physicist is one of the most ridiculous casting choices I’ve ever heard. I love the Bond films, I know that the Bond girl will inevitably end up in something skimpy, ala “Diamonds Are Forever” & “The Man With The Golden Gun”, but a nuclear scientist whose attire is a tank-top & shorts? Ridiculous. In addition, it doesn’t help that Denise Richards isn’t a magnificent actress, she’s…okay at very best. Here, I legitimately feel that her character could have been completely removed and it would better the film.

On the other side, you have Robert Carlyle, usually brilliant, doing a ‘not brilliant but solid’ performance as Renard, a terrorist who has a bullet in his brain, which is destroying his nerves, including his ability to feel pain. This is an interesting defect for the villain, which wasn’t squandered, but could have been done a bit better. Although it was a good twist to have Renard not be the villain, but the ‘Dragon’, the muscle to the main villain, which was a surprise. Sophie Marceau is a good Bond girl, she should have been the solo Bond girl, it would have offered a more emotional context to the film, rather than having her replace by Denise Richards. Marceau has chemistry with Bond and a strength with Carlyle, that makes her a fascinating antagonist. A female antagonist makes a major change to the Bond films, and I would like to see a maybe better version done in another Bond film.

ne good reliance, as usual though, is Pierce Brosnan. Even when the films are not great, he makes a believable, strong protagonist, and a good James Bond. You know from “Goldeneye” & “Tomorrow Never Dies” that he was good, so you can always appreciate that. And as usual, you have strong performance from Judi Dench as M, and a final, emotional scene with Desmond Llewellyn as Q, who always does well. There are also some okay set-pieces, the beginning pre-credit sequence wasn’t too bad, but most of the set-pieces had an element of labour to them, feeling tired.

This film is not a strong representation of the Bond series, but it is not the worst. It has some negative aspects that lower the standard, but there are some okay sections you can enjoy.

Thumbs Up, 6 out of 10

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"Goldeneye" Tank Chase scene.

"Goldeneye" is commonly held up as one of the best James Bond films, and this is one of the scenes why, just a cracking action scene, bit of humour, and Bond just being Bond. Love it.

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Title: 127 Hours

Number: One Hundred and Twenty-Three

Directer: Danny Boyle

Writer: Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy

Genre: Biographical Survival Drama

Released: 2011.

Seen on: DVD.

Seen Before: Never.

Starring: James Franco, Kate Mara, Amber Tamblyn, Clémence Poésy, Lizzy Caplan, Kate Burton, Treat Williams

Running Time: 94 minutes.

Favorite Performance: James Franco as Aron Ralston

Favorite Moment: The ending felt refreshingly earned.

Favorite Line: Aron’s “Good Morning!” speech to his camera as he gets weaker.

ThoughtsDanny Boyle is a brilliant talent in film, with several of his films being very memorable, such as “Sunshine”, “Shallow Grave”, as well as the awesome “28 Days Later” and pretty good “Slumdog Millionaire”. His ability behind the camera make his films very memorable, which means if you’re preparing for one of his films, you get the feeling you’re in for something good. Here, I admit, I prepared a little less expectantly, I wasn’t sure what standards “127 Hours” would have.

One thing that is very noticeable, very quickly, is how fast and kinetic the direction is, you are immersed into the high-octane style very quickly, and the camera is akin to a leaf on a wind, flying all around as it tracks the action. The distinctive style is very imaginative, and allows time to fly by much quickly.

James Franco is the main character, but also the only real character, the others are either passing people Franco as Aron meets, or flashbacks to important people in his life. For the majority of the film, you are purely watching Franco, and he shows some good charisma to keep the audience fascinated, whilst the flashbacks and his other actions suggest a selfish asshole, the entire film attributes to an epiphany. Seeing the extent to which Aron reaches to live through his horror is effective and surprising to the audience. By the end, Aron has become likable enough that you feel the emotion with him.

The hallucinations that are shown are pretty erratic and imaginative, it does mean the the supposed premise, which would have been akin to “Buried”, a film I did enjoy, is instead the complete opposite, probably only 40% of the film centers on Aron trapped, the rest are the lead up to the accident, the aftermath, and hallucinations, which surprisingly works very well.

For me, I am conflicted on the ending. I simultaneously feel that it was earned, and also feel the alternate ending is even better, as it allows a breather. However, the ending we are given is pretty good on its own merit, and it feels quite nit-picky to complain when I loved the ending as it was.

This is a film that speeds by, and then becomes measured, drawing in the audience and then immersing them into the story. I not only was impressed, but will be buying the DVD for myself.

Thumbs Up, 8 out of 10

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Title: Tomorrow Never Dies

Number: One Hundred and Nineteen

Directer: Roger Spottiswoode

Writer: Bruce Feirstein

Genre: Spy

Released: 1997

Seen on: DVD.

Seen Before: Several times when I was younger, but not for a few years.

Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Jonathan Pryce, Michelle Yeoh, Teri Hatcher, Judi Dench, Desmond Llewellyn, Samantha Bond, Colin Salmon

Running Time: 119 minutes.

Favorite Performance: Pierce Brosnan as James Bond

Favorite Moment:Bond and Wai Lin’s escape from Carver, including the bike escape.

Favorite Line:James to Moneypenny on the phone: “I always enjoyed learning a new tongue.” Moneypenny replies with “You always were a cunning linguist, James” and then places the phone down, turning around to find M stood there. Moneypenny: “Don’t ask.” and M replies “Don’t tell.” 

ThoughtsBrosnan continues his magnificent turn in “Goldeneye” with a more run-of-the-mill Bond feature here, but one that still holds up well. Brosnan has tapped into elements of Bond that makes him so interesting, the strong willed personality, the good fight scenes, quips that make you smile, and yet a slight cold-edge to his character. One of my favorite scenes is where he quietly sits in his hotel room, drinking vodka, with his gun next to him, waiting for Carver’s men to appear. That, to me, is a great representation of his character. Brosnan continues to impress.

I also really enjoyed the inclusion of Michelle Yeoh as Wai Lin, she could be the best example of a female equal to Bond, several times she saves him, she has one scene specifically showing her ability to kick ass, she has some good chemistry with Brosnan and holds up well as the Bond girl, one that really feels unique. She is better than Teri Hatcher at least, as Paris Carver. The storyline basis, of an ex-lover being used by Bond for his mission, was fascinating, but it just didn’t work as well as I expected. Hatcher’s emotions switched too easily, and I found it hard to like her. She looked beautiful, but had a slightly smug attitude.

I did like Jonathan Pryce as the villain, he was a very interesting choice with his reputation, and he offered a dramatic edge to the film. The character he played was different, and original, a new mogul who creates his own news with an attempted war. His idea of “words, the new war, and satellites, the new artillery”, had resonance in the present world, maybe even more than in 1997, which means the film ages well. He had a quiet, petulant aspect to his character, like a spoiled rich kid who always gets what he wants, which makes sense. I also liked his main henchman, Stamper, who was memorable in the tone of Onatopp in “Goldeneye”, a distinctive henchman that sticks in your memory, his reminiscence of Red Grant and Necros mixed with a more brutal manner, very well done.

Overall, the story was different, and whilst it may be polarizing, I liked the difference. I also thought the action was well done, especially the motorbike chase scene, which had some great moments to it. I also enjoyed the slow building of friendship between Bond and Wai Lin, it wasn’t an instant chemistry, it slowly developed through the film, which felt more natural. I think as a Bond film, this has a lot of positives going for it, and is certainly a good watch.

Thumbs Up, 7 out of 10

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Title: Eden Lake

Number: One Hundred and Fifteen

Writer and Directer: James Watkins

Genre: Horror

Released: 2008

Seen on: Youtube.

Seen Before: Never.

Starring: Kelly Reilly, Michael Fassbender, Jack O’Connell

Running Time: 91 minutes.

Favorite Performance: Jack O’Connell as Brett.

Favorite Moment:The quiet early moments between Steve and Jenny.

Favorite Line:"Follow the blood!" Brett.

ThoughtsEarlier this year, I saw the movie “The Woman In Black”, which was James Watkins’ follow up to this movie. This, year I also saw Michael Fassbender in “Shame”, as well as previously in “Hunger" and "X-Men: First Class”. There was even the inclusion of Jack O’Connell, who I loved in “Skins”, as well as in BBC Dramas “Dive” & “United" and "Harry Brown". This film was back before the films I’d already seen, so here allowed me to see the growing of Fassbender, O’Connell and Watkins in their respective roles as actor and director. But to my surprise, there was also Kelly Reilly, who I had only really seen in the Guy Richie "Sherlock Holmes" films, this was the first opportunity I had to watch her in a starring role.

This is the type of horror film that I enjoy, in that they take time to build up the protagonists, actually making them either as likable or at least emphatic, you actually care what happens to them when the horror begins, which is great, that instantly made it better than a lot of horror films for me. I also liked that the horror gradually built up, the first slightly worrying bit occurs about 20-odd minutes in, and gradually things get slowly more horrific, until the final half hour or so is terrifying. The good thing is, by then, the main couple, Steve and Jenny, have been crafted and made appealing for the audience, I know as I watch it they are doing silly things, but I like them because they seem caring and loving to each other.

Kelly Reilly and Michael Fassbender do come across as a loving couple, I think the fact that Fassbender is slightly frustrated and angry with the situation, something that you kind of want in life, whereas Reilly represents a more thoughtful, safer character, they carry the movie very well together. However, I also quite like Jack O’Connell’s character, he represents the fear that a lot of audiences have in current Britain. He had a slightly emotional scene in one moment, that created the dominoes effect for the rest of the movie, but as a villain, he actually comes across as terrifying and sadistic.

James Watkins wrote and direct this film, and it is a good debut film, Watkins demonstrates some intelligent work, and you can see why his work on building tension and creating good characters led to him being a favorite for several Hollywood films. I liked the dark element he brought to the table, there are no over-the-top villain attacks out of nowhere, the villains are both human and make mistakes, same as the protagonists.

Thumbs Up, 7 out of 10

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Title: Titanic 3D

Number: One Hundred and Fourteen

Writer and Directer: James Cameron

Genre: Epic Romantic Disaster

Released: 1997

Seen on: Cinema.

Seen Before: A few times when younger, but not for a few years now.

Starring:Leonardo Dicaprio, Kate Winslet, Bill Paxton, Billy Zane, David Warner, Kathy Bates, Victor Garber, Bernard Hill, Jonathan Hyde, 

Running Time: 194 minutes.

Favorite Performance: Leonardo Dicaprio as Jack Dawson

Favorite Moment:Jack sketches a picture of Rose wearing her necklace. What could have been a cringe scene came across as beautiful and alluring.

Favorite Line:"I’m sorry I couldn’t build you a better ship, Rose." Heartbreaking.

ThoughtsBefore I went into the cinema, I was certain I’d end up walking out at the end going “Just like Avatar, looks good, story ain’t great, unbelievable it made over a Billion dollars.” When I did get out of the cinema, I admitted to my friends my original thoughts, and my thoughts after were “Yeah, okay James, guess you didn’t do too badly with this one.”

The difference between Titanic and Avatar is that, whilst a lot of money has been spent on both, Avatar seems more centered on creating a realistic world that breathes and interacts, whilst Titanic tries to tell a good story in a unique situation. It starts off with an examination of the actual Titanic on the ocean floor, building up to an unveiling of the Titanic as it sets sail about forty minutes into the movie, so that when you finally see it, it looks beautiful and astounding. Cameron spends a vast majority of the movie building up the Titanic as an equivalent character, allowing us to witness the scale and wonder of the boat, whilst also seeing the teamwork and friendship between the vast members on the ship. Because so much time is given to depicting the ship and its crew and passengers, when the ship begins to sink, there is an actual emotional connection with the audience, which could have been one of the biggest problems. Not only that, but when a crew member or passenger dies, it often is one you have either already seen in the background, or had spent a bit of time with, so their deaths aren’t just filler, but effective.

The most obvious emotional connection for the audience is the love story between Jack Dawson, played by Leonardo Dicaprio, and Rose DeWitt, played by Kate Winslet. From their first appearance together, they have great chemistry, with several ad-libbed scenes coming across as very realistic and endearing, the relationship between two strongly developed characters feeling natural and developed, the both of them representing to each other a feeling of escape, as well as seeing a loving individual opposite them.

Winslet is not just beautiful, but also radiates on screen, the screen revolving around her as she deals with the frustrations and unhappiness of the world around her. On the other side, you have Dicaprio, who is wild and charismatic, brimming with confidence, he comes across as almost perfect in terms of the escape he offers Rose, but then again, it is her story. However, they bring the best out of each other in their screentime. Billy Zane comes across as a little stiff and over-the-top, but again, as Rose is telling the story, it makes sense he’d come across as an ass.

Some of the best aspects are the dark storylines that culminate by the end of the film, the suicides, the murders, the desperation of the passengers and crew, it feels more honest. The destruction of the show takes about an hour it feels, allowing the slow disintegration of the ship to impact upon you more.

This film actually holds up extremely well, with a great romantic chemistry between the two leads, a brilliant supporting cast (Kathy Bates, David Warner, Bill Paxton, Victor Garber, and several others especially), great direction that sells the scale of the picture, and beautiful special effects. The cinema trip was definitely worth it.

Thumbs Up, 8 out of 10

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Title: Goldeneye

Number: One Hundred and Ten

Directer: Martin Campbell

Writer : Michael France, Jeffrey Caine, Kevin Wade, Bruce Feirstein

Genre: Spy

Released: 1997

Seen on: DVD.

Seen Before: Several times when I was younger, not for a few years though.

Starring:Pierce Brosnan, Sean Bean, Izabella Scorupco, Famke Janssen, Judi Dench

Running Time: 130 minutes.

Favorite Performance: Pierce Brosnan as James Bond

Favorite Line:"I might as well ask if all those vodka martinis silence the screams of those men you’ve killed. Or if you find forgiveness in the arms of all those willing women…for all the dead ones you failed to protect."

Favorite Moment: The tank scene.

ThoughtsWith Timothy Dalton bowing out after two strong performances, and a six year hiatus since “Licence To Kill”, there was a lot of questions marks about this film. Is Bond worth bringing back? Will there be any stories left to make? Would Brosnan be a good enough replacement? Well, turns out the answer to all 3 was ‘yes’, big time. “Goldeneye” has been referred to as a favorite of the series by many fans, and I can completely understand why.

Pierce Brosnan makes a strong James Bond, he isn’t as vulnerable as Dalton, but he does offer a soft side to himself, as well as a feeling of regret over the actions in his life, as well as showing the charming charisma of Moore, and the brutality of Connery. His physical side, displayed in several fight scenes, brings a smile to my face as he looks capable in them. He also has a good charm to himself, as well as often giving good line readings of Bond’s quips, not descending into self-parody. As a first attempt at James Bond, Brosnan does an impeccable job.

Judi Dench as M is a great choice, she gives Bond attitude and keeps him on his toes, allowing a more interesting relationship between the two. Her chemistry with Bond is strong, and the scenes between them feel like the beginning of history to a relationship, which is refreshing. I also thought Q had good chemistry with Bond as well, Brosnan seemed to bring a more refreshed performance out of him, compared to some of his older performances. And of course, Miss Moneypenny, as played by Samantha Bond, represents a stronger female perspective, as akin to Dench as M, both are strong female presences’ in a series that sometimes didn’t demonstrate this.

The love interest, Natalya Simonova, as played by Izabella Scorupco, was also refreshing, as unlike other Bond girls, she kept Bond on his toes. He would save her several times, but she wasn’t afraid to burst his ego, challenge him, as well as offering her own abilities as a programmer, in order to help the two of them escape situations or survive other situations. I thought she was both beautiful and capable, which was the most refreshing element.

On the villain side, we had Alec Trevelyn, who was a brilliant villain. The film felt like it took several elements from “Licence To Kill”, a personal attack that impacts upon Bond, but here, they went smaller with it, having the betrayal occur with Bond, his friend Alec betraying him. Alec came across as not just a physical challenge to Bond, but also an emotional challenge, forcing Bond to come to terms with not only Alec’s actions, but his own. Sean Bean was a good choice, and his magnificent villainous turn would take a long time to surpass.

It also helped he was backed up by two good supporting villains, firstly, the red herring villain, Russian General Ourumov, who makes a fascinating early villain, his glances at his peculiar colleagues, his slightly mocking tone to Bond, and his authority over his men, build what could have been in most Bond films a solid villain, here, the lead-in to the better villain, Alec. This is what “Octopussy" and "Licence To Kill" attempted with their villains, here it succeeds. There is also the second villain, the sexual Xenia Onatopp, as played deliciously over-the-top by Famke Janssen. Her character seems to represent the shift from the old-fashioned Bond films to the feel of a more contemporary market, and she suits the film. I also liked the comedic elements of Boris, as played by Alan Cumming, who made an otherwise small role, that in other Bond films you’d forget easily, quite memorable.

However, the main props have to go to Martin Campbell, who does a stellar job here. His set pieces are some of the best in the series, i.e. the opening scene, and the tank scene, both two of the most memorable action scenes in living history. Campbell also seems refreshing in that the story and emotion comes first, having a scene late in the film dedicated to an in-depth conversation about Bond’s role in life between himself and Natalya. Campbell is the best Bond director, in my opinion, and Sam Mendes has a huge task in front of him to even rival Campbell.

This is one of the few Bond films, you don’t have to be a fan of Bond to appreciate. End of the day, it is just very good, and possibly one of a few select perfect Bond films.

Thumbs Up, 9 out of 10

2 notes

mListen to clips of Alan Silvestri's score for "The Avengers"

marielikestodraw:

Oh My God a good-old orchestra score soundtrack for the movie, yes yes YES. YEEEES.

Oh dear Jesus, this sounds like a meshed up edition of themes from “Batman”, “James Bond” & “Lord of the Rings” all together….I love it :D. Oh, and a dash of “Predator”! I already love this soundtrack :D.

(via captaintightshirt)

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Title: Licence To Kill

Number: One Hundred and Three

Directer: John Glen

Writer: Michael G. Wilson & Richard Maibaum

Genre: Spy

Released: 1989

Seen on: DVD.

Seen Before: A few times when I was younger, but not for a few years now.

Starring: Timothy Dalton, Carey Lowell, Robert Davi, Talisa Soto, Anthony Zerbe, Benicio Del Toro, Desmond Llewelyn, David Hedison, Robert Brown

Running Time: 133 minutes.

Favorite Performance: Timothy Dalton as James Bond.

Favorite Line: ”Pam, this is Q, my ‘uncle’. Q, this is Miss Kennedy, my ‘cousin’.” Bond introduces Pam and Q to each other, with Q replying “Ah! We must be related!”

Favorite Moment: Beautiful scene. James is told by Felix’s wife that he will be next to marry, and he quietly declines.

ThoughtsI was suitably impressed by Timothy Dalton’s debut, and here he was required to follow up a strong beginning with what could be one of the most difficult Bond films of all. There have been difficult films before with the Bond series, such as the first film, the first sequel, and any film that introduced a new Bond. However, the difficult section to this film is completely different: Bond leaves the service, and goes on a personal mission, to avenge the maiming of his best friend Felix Leiter & death of Felix’s wife.

I quite liked this new storyline, it offers something very different, and taps into the characteristics of Dalton’s Bond. He’s a much more human, vulnerable Bond, as opposed to previous renditions, and they back that up here, having him desperate and conflicted, determined to avenge his friend. Dalton spends most of the film concealing his anger as he deals with the villains, creating a shadier, more manipulative Bond.

Pam Bouvier, played by Carey Lowell is an interesting Bond girl, she is more physical and capable, utilizing abilities with guns and helicopters in the film. The good thing is it makes her feel more useful than most Bond girls, not just dependent on screaming & being rescued. Unfortunately, on the other side, you have it that she comes across at times as very petulant and unattractive as she was quickly jealous anytime the other Bond girl, Lupe Lamora, played by Talisa Soto, appeared. Lupe was quite beautiful and helped bring Bond into the villain’s fold, which made her more useful than half the Bond girls. However, out of the two, I preferred Bouvier, she felt like a foreshadowing to more impressive Bond girls in the future, despite her petulance.

I have to admit, I quite like the villain. Robert Davi plays Franz Sanchez as violent, yet honorable. He will destroy anyone he doesn’t trust or is against him, but if you are loyal to him, he loves you like a son, such as Dario, played by Benicio Del Toro. Sanchez’s actions in the film, cutting out Lupe’s lover’s heart, whipping Lupe, killing any henchman he becomes suspicious of, builds him up as a dangerous individual, with the possibility of attempting anything at any time. The fact he seems to simultaneously know much and yet is paranoid about everything, means he could snap at any time. Good Bond films have good villains, and he is a good villain. The fact he is basically a drug dealer and Bond is stopping his operations makes sense here as of course, the drugs is what gets Felix involved, and with Felix then attacked by Sanchez, it makes sense why Bond would go for him.

I also quite liked the inclusion of Desmond Llewelyn in a bigger role. He has great chemistry with most Bonds, and even has good chemistry here with both Bouvier & Dalton, so his role of helping them makes sense, working well as a three person team. I also think this was Robert Brown’s strongest performance as M, his confrontation scene with Dalton very explosive, with M coming across as an actual leader.

One of the best aspects was that with Bond having left MI6, instead of just killing everyone, he plants suspicions in each villain’s minds and turn them against each other. With the content of the plot and the villain, the violence is much more shocking than before, but that also makes plenty of sense, of course it would be violent in this way in such a dirty world. I know some people feel this isn’t the Bond they know and like, but I applaud Dalton for taking chances, and I do wish he’d appeared as Bond more often. A deviation from the usual Bond flick, but an emotionally driven revenge movie that is above standards.

Thumbs Up, 7 out of 10

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Title: Westworld

Number: One Hundred and One

Writer and Directer: Michael Crichton

Genre: Science-Fiction thriller

Released: 1973

Seen on: DVD.

Seen Before: Never.

Starring: Yul Brynner, Richard Benjamin, James Brolin

Running Time: 88 minutes.

Favorite Performance: Yul Brynner as The Gunslinger

Favorite Line: ”You talk too much.”

Favorite Moment: The chase scene between Peter and an ever approaching Gunslinger.

ThoughtsI had always known of this movie due to my Mum being a huge fan of it. She’d always say it was a classic, how Yul Brynner was awesome, and I need to watch it. Unfortunately it wasn’t until now I was able to see it for the first time. Well, it was certainly worth the wait.

What I liked most about the film was the build-up, I’d say easily 60% of the movie is dedicated to the two main characters, Peter (Richard Benjamin) and John (James Brolin), immersing themselves into ‘Westworld’, whilst at the same time, the backstage creators and researchers can detect a problem starting to originate in the robots used for the Amusement Parks. The fact the movie dedicates so much time to this build-up creates some unbearable tension, as you know shit is going to get bad, but you don’t know when. The inclusion of one small role, a wannabe Knight, offers a contrast to the two main characters, and help to also build up the tension.

So when the shit actually goes bad, you actually care about the main characters, as they’ve been built up as likable, fun, average guys, who are thrown into a bad situation. And it also helps that the villain, The Gunslinger has been built up so well. The Gunslinger, as portrayed by Yul Brynner, is unnerving and comes across as suitably robotic, his movements labored, his dictation, alien. When The Gunslinger follows the hero, and all you can hear, is the claps of his shoes, even without seeing him, you are nervous.

This is the type of horror/thriller film I enjoy, one that builds up the characters and tension, keeping on the edge of your seat, before finally throwing you in, the villains attacking, the heroes desperate, striving to survive, whilst you also, ACTUALLY like the hero. I definitely enjoyed this film, it doesn’t feel like a single moment is wasted, and I agree it is a classic.

Thumbs Up, 8 out of 10

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