Monday, January 18, 2010

Come Fly With George

The 2nd half of yesterday's double bill was considerably lighter.  Although it had it's bleak moments here and there.  I wasn't quite sure what to expect from the film.  I'd heard good things on the grapevine but I wasn't convinced.  Hollywood comedies aren't usually my first choice of film.  I'm glad I decided to give it a go though.

Again, a good cast made this film an enjoyable watch.  Clooney had a role he was made for.  He can do the drier, subtler types of comedy better than most actors, especially from the Hollywood breeding ground.  I suppose it can only help that he's so good to look at.  All three main roles were played well.  The protegee seemed quite wooden at times but I'm pretty sure she played it that way.

The film deals with a delicate subject in any economic climate.  The current one surely makes it even more so. The fact that the film itself didn't come over as callous as some of its characters I think is down to the screenplay.  Which is very well written.  Whilst taking on some of your more typical film ideas it deals with them in a much more interesting way than the usual fare.  This cannot be described as a Rom-Com yet it contains elements of both.

I was impressed and will definitely be watching this film again in the future.  If you like some intelligent comedy, that's still easy to watch give it a try yourself.

4 out of 5 pawprints

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Wander Along The Road

Today's double bill began with The Road.  A film I was dying to see due to the massive amount of reviews heaping praise on it.  I haven't read Cormac McCarthy's book so I can only judge it as a stand-alone piece.

Spoilers are hidden at the bottom of the post where stated.  Please highlight to view.

I concur this is a brilliant film.  It will be one that I'll be waiting a long time to re-watch though.  It is a bleak experience.  I can't remember seeing a film that is this bleak throughout. This only enhances the film though.  For me, it's the most 'realistic' post-apocalypse vision I've seen on-screen.  I've heard that most of the film was filmed in New Orleans and Mount St Helens.  It's certainly the greyest film I have seen in a very long time.  It makes me realise how lucky I am to live in such a safe environment.

The entire cast is excellent.  There wasn't a bum note throughout.  There couldn't be a more perfect role for Viggo Mortensen.  I completely believed in his character throughout.  He must have been so drained by the end of this film.  Kodi Smit-McPhee is fantastic as his son.  If there was to be a weak point in this film you'd fully expect it to be him.  To play such a sad, downbeat role throughout the entire film is hard enough.  To do it so well is remarkable.  The fact that he has the lead role in the US remake of Let the Right One In negates a little of my ire.  Only a little mind.

Charlize Theron has a much smaller role but also plays it excellently.  She is the perfect foil for Mortensen's character and his attitude to the situation they find themselves in.  Her story is told in the flashbacks that are littered throughout the film.  They are used well though and add to the story without becoming distracting or being the be all and end all of the story.

Speaking of smaller roles the cameo players are excellent.  They must have put in a lot of preparation to get into character for the roles.  They weren't starry cameos either.  Just people they met along the road.  The calibre of their performances was suitable to a much larger role.  They really were an asset to the piece.

There is no definite setting for this film.  We're never told the time or the place.  This can only prevent it from ageing before it's time.  This film seems destined to be a timeless classic.

Spoilers below, highlight to view.

I couldn't see how we could gain any hope from this film and how it would end.  We had just a sliver or two given to us.  I was impressed with how we were given these.  Just before a very tense scene, which leads in Mortensen's character's death, we were shown a single beetle and a lone bird in flight.  Is this because they're further South.  That the film neglects to tell us.

The boy meets another traveller on the beach.  One which we, the audience, have a gut feeling we can trust.  We are relieved when he gains the boy's trust.  Massively so when his family are revealed.  The boy finally has 'siblings' and a dog for company.  We know that these guys are careful as they'd avoided contact until teh boy was alone after his father's death.  We have hope that things will get better.  But if they do we know it will still be a long, harsh road ahead.  This is no typical 'happy ending'

4.5 pawprints out of 5 for The Road.

Bobo The Free Running Cat

I saw this advert at the cinema today.  I saw two good films and this was the icing on the cake!

If there's a better advert made in 2010 I'll eat some of this myself.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Sherlock Holmes (Spoiler free opinions)

The 2nd part of last night's double bill was Sherlock Holmes a la Guy Ritchie.  A film I had mixed emotions about well before I arrived at the ticket booth.

There were many things that made me feel down about this film.  From the trailer I thought it would be Bond set a century in the past.  A mix that I worried wouldn't go well together.  I'm not a huge Ritchie fan.  I find his films too obvious and highly stylised in a style that doesn't suit my tastes.  The biggest low for me was Jude Law.  I just can't take to this man as an actor.  This probably stems from the horrendous experience that was AI.  I'm no Holmes expert but I would like the film to at least bring more of the Holmes I have taken from the books than the setting and the names.

On the plus side we had the setting, Victorian London.  Depicted with a mix of authentic setting (yay) and CGI (not so yay).  There were also 3 actors that I would cross quite a few streets to see.  Eddie Marsan who falls under the radar a lot but always seems to give great performances without stealing anyone else's thunder. Robert Downey Jr whose charm and charisma just makes you want to watch him, luckily he has the chops to withstand your gaze.  Then there's Mark Strong whose mere presence sucks you into the screen, I'd watch him mow the lawn.

Well, I was pleasantly surprised.  This was never going to be the best film ever made.  It was much better than I dared expect though.  It's a fun, if rather silly ride.  Leave your Holmes pedantry and high art expectations at the door and you should find something to chuckle at along the way.

The setting impressed me.  It felt real enough  to immerse myself in the world Ritchie has created.  I never really noticed the join between 'real' shots and CGI.  To be honest though I wasn't really looking for faults.  Unless a film is awful I'd rather go along for the ride than give my attention to nitpicking.  The credits were a great opening dragging you into the world that had been created for you from the flagstones up.  Straight away you understood where you were.  Although rather cheesy I did love the shots, early on in the film, of Tower Bridge being built.  Congratulations to Guy for getting an ad for The Punchbowl into the film too.  The statistics Holmes gives us on the bridge makes me think that Ritchie is as fond of his home town as I am of mine.  Irene Adler's costumes were lovely, McAdams must have relished wearing those gowns.  In fact all the costumes were great.  You wanted to reach out and stroke the fabrics.

The Guy Ritchie influence on this film wasn't too hard to find.  I do think however he managed to rein himself in just enough.  The fight scenes didn't go on for too long or seem too many irritate me.  They fitted pretty well into the story.

My biggest (pleasant) surprise was Mr Law.  He was perfect in the role.  Just a little stiff, often infuriated whilst still being likeable.  This film has broken my Jude Law  blanket ban.  If he can do the same with his next film I may eat my words from days gone by.

As for the actors, mentioned earlier, that I was looking forward to.  Well there's no surprises there.  This isn't my favourite Downey role but he's still good fun to watch.  I won't beat around the bush.  Jeremy Brett is 'my' Holmes.  This probably stems from the time in my life that his version was shown on a weekly basis.  I also like to think it's because he was so bloody perfect in the role.  If Downey had given us an imitation of the Brett/Rathbone kind of Holmes this film would have fell flat on its face.  This isn't Downey's style however.  he takes a role and makes it his own.  Probably the reason Ritchie chose him for the role.  He isn't a Holmes I ever expected to see but that makes it all the more interesting.  There's the odd note of Chaplin that sneaks into his portrayal but not enough to spoil the mood.

Eddie Marsan is as good as he always is.  Solid dependable with absolutely no vanity in his craft.  He plays the Lestrade as a self-important buffoon very well.  Mark Strong is great.  He plays his dark character excellently.  The part could so easily have become pantomime villain.  He was believable in the world created and knew just how to rein his performance in.

The one part of the film I hadn't put much forethought into was Irene Adler.  Rachel McAdams played her very well. I personally would have left her character until a later film in what will obviously become a franchise.  Her presence didn't detract though as I would have thought it would.  It was nice to see a female the equal of the hero.

I would say this film is a fun blockbuster.  Not perfect but a good way to spend a couple of hours.  There were later parts of the plot that I found plain ridiculous.  The ending was left more wide open for a sequel than Batman Begins.  I have to admit though, I'll be there queueing for my ticket to Sherlock Holmes 2: Holmes Harder.

3.5 pawprints out of 5

Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll (A spoiler free ramble)

Last night I had the opportunity to request "2 for Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll please".  Now it's not every day you get to ask for that (insert immature snigger here).

I am not an Ian Dury fan.  I hardly know anything about the man or his band.  My sole knowledge was limited to my love of "Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick" from childhood.  As much as I enjoyed this song I couldn't have named you another of theirs.  This lack of knowledge didn't stop me enjoying this film in the slightest.

The main draw to the cinema for me was Andy Serkis in what would be the first time I'd seen him in a leading role.  In the parts I've seen the man play he's never disappointed.  They may not all have been in great films but he was always good.  Hearing him interviewed by Mayo and Kermode only increased my interest.  He came across as a genuinely nice, down to earth , guy dedicated to his craft.

The preparation he put into the role was impressive.  Wearing an old-fashioned calliper for any amount of time wouldn't appeal to me.  He seems someone who puts his all into his craft without any of the arty pretensions I perceive in others.  It worked, I believed throughout the film that Serkis was Dury.  A weaker performance of the main role would have broken this film.  I believe that Serkis made this film as good as it is.  I will definitely in the cinema for his next role.

This isn't a luvvy bio-pic.  It depicts a character who has been through hell.  This doesn't give him any compassion for anyone else though.  He is painted as a selfish, often cruel man.  Who puts his own ambition and creature comforts before anyone else's needs or his responsibilities. He also gets his own way due to his charisma and the charm he can ooze when it suits.

The film doesn't pan out in a typical fashion.  It's not strictly linear, though it is easy to follow.  The use of music and animation really adds to the entertainment aspect of the film.  It seems perfectly suited to Dury's personality.  Though as I only have the film as a reference I have no idea how true this is.

All the cast do a good job with one minor exception.  Ralph Ineson was a little clunky.  I'm not sure of that was how he was supposed to be but the way he played the role grated on me.  Bill Milner yet again gave us a great performance.  This is maybe the first child actor I really believe in.  He seems very busy of late and for that I'm grateful.  He's definitely one to keep an eye on.

Overall I'd say this is a fun, sometimes very sad, story of a not very nice, interesting man who was a great entertainer.  I don't think he'd have fared well in 'the real world' but the fact that he overcame his disability to be known as a singer rather than a 'cripple' in harsher times marks him out for admiration in my eyes.  I would say it's a must for any Dury fan and a definite for anyone who likes a good film bio.

4 pawprints out of 5.