review: Benjamin Button


THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON
*****
DIR: DAVID FINCHER for PARAMOUNT PICTURES
STARRING: BRAD PITT, CATE BLANCHETT, TARAJI P. HENSON
10.02.09
Screenplay by ERIC ROTH based on the short story by F. SCOTT FITZGERALD
Cinematography by CLAUDIO MIRANDA, Original Score by ALEXANDRE DESPLAT
Editing by KIRK BAXTER & ANGUS WALL
Budget: $160,000,000 Gross Revenue: $329,809,326

While booking the tickets for this Oscar-winner, I tried not to look at the length of it. A whopping hundred and sixty minutes (okay, not that whopping, but pretty whopping considering the trailer gave away the whole plotline). I also tried to clear my mind before I entered the theatre (empty, save for a few raucous teens who had snuck in) – I didn’t want this review’s lines to be blurred by my love of David Fincher’s vibrant cinema. But, I found myself in tears by the time poor Binjamin Buttin was seventy.
       Brad Pitt, head buzzing with Angie and the babies, seemed to have perfected Benjamin’s doleful gaze, and it was monumental editing and directing that, if you noticed, kept the same angle reappearing around ten to fifteen times throughout the film. Although we somewhat weighed down by partial prosthetics and a few tubes, Blanchett’s performance, too, was highly commendable in the most awkward of places, however much it slacked in what an actor might say was the easiest, least diverse spot to play. Even the girls who played young Daisy – particularly Dakota Fanning’s kid sister Elle – belted out little slices of red-haired sweetness. But if you’re watching this one for the acting, I suggest that you pay particular attention to Taraji P. Henson. After being mesmerized for a little while by her screen presence (and being able to imagine her in my room, telling me off about the state of it), I was embarrassed to leave the cinema not having known her name before I entered it. Now, I haven’t seen Vicky Christina, but I know where I would’ve put that Supporting Actress Oscar.
     Backed by a notably stylish score, this loose adaptation had the most wonderful one-liners crammed into the one hundred and sixty minutes – yes, I repeated that. You know why? Because it’s a short amount of time to cram so much exuberance into. With faultless art direction, and one of my favourite aspects of a movie, cinematography, this picture is a masterpiece, stumbling only at the hurdles of the limited genre – only sensitive males allowed in, please. The editing, in particular, makes you feel almost as though you forgot something. Did David pull a splicing-Tyler in this one? We certainly hope not; a good movie should never ever, and must always leave you searching for vital flaws. Were there any?
       Let’s see. There’s a hummingbird in the earlier parts of the picture, and the CGI’s a little unrealistic
   
  And yes. That was all I could find.
With a vast gallery of accolade (but somewhat disappointingly overshadowed by Slumdog Millionaire’s feed-the-children begfest at the Oscars, the Globes, the BAFTAs and the SAG’s) – every award is well-deserved. If you’re intelligent, romantic, and ready to be surprised by the tears that spill (and trust me when I say surprised: it’s very good for the stone heart that wants to melt for an evening), then trust me when I say that your ticket fee, babysitter’s wage and the cost of dinner will all by very much worth it by the end of the night.
     You’ll even sleep better for having encountered it.

review: Harry Potter 6


HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF BLOOD PRINCE
****
DIR: DAVID YATES for WARNER BROTHERS
STARRING: DANIEL RADCLIFFE, RUPERT GRINT, EMMA WATSON
19.07.09
Screenplay by STEVE KLOVES based on the novel by J. K. ROWLING
Cinematography by BRUNO DELBONNEL, Original Score by NICHOLAS HOOPER & JOHN WILLIAMS
Editing by MARK DAY
Budget: £150,000,000 Gross Revenue: (unknown, pending as of yet)

Let's start at the start. The Harry Potter franchise is one of the biggest earners of the late twentieth and early twenty first century - you have to live in a cave if you have not heard of Harry Potter. Every piece of merchandise begins selling in days, the books have been on bestseller lists for years, and the movies are very highly critically acclaimed (at least the last four). If you saw the Order of the Phoenix, you will not be disappointed by the Half Blood Prince.
      Let's also get the negatives out of the way first; inevitable things that everyone will have a problem with, and that will be set aside. The teenage portion of the cast aren't hugely talented, particularly Bonnie Wright, Emma Watson and that random Devon dude who plays Seamus Finnigan. Do not, for a moment, think that the talent of these teens is a hurdle that the Half Blood Prince finds difficult to overstep - it's not. Secondly, it's a film based on a novel. They're going to miss crap out; they'll cut scenes and things will look different to how they did in the reader's imagination. The interpretation may stray disappointingly, and things might turn out better than you thought they might have. Some of these things will let you down, particularly if they're major edits. Thirdly, the attention to detail in this film was not as thorough as it had been in the last three movies. For example, when we see the outro shot of Weasley's Wizard Wheezes, the ginger bloke with the purple top hat? Yes, you remember him. There's a white rabbit on his head every other time he takes his hat on or off. But wait - not in the outro, there isn't. There is no rabbit in the outro. At all. And yes, David Yates, I am petty enough to call you on that one. Not because it matters much that you missed one tiny insignificant detail, it just feels like the standard of detail is slipping. Is it? No.
      The ending is as disappointing as the beginning is beautiful; the back of this movie is too strong to let a slipped disc break the fan's heart, and the sheer epic euphoria of the approaching adventure lights up the darker corners of this film, but it would have been nice to have a bit of a climactic battle like we were promised in the books (that's perhaps the biggest let down). Oh, and the funeral. There was no funeral. 
      We can forgive poor Mark for editing that part out, and there are a few key plot hitches that we miss, too. Tonks was supposed to rescue Harry at the beginning, there was supposed to be a showdown between Hermione and Rita Skeeter, Sirius' will was left unaddressed, the Dursleys were left in the dark; but, from a non-fan, average-consumer-audience-no-strings-attached point of view, these script edits kept the film concise and digestable.
      The script was, first and foremost, stunning. Cleverly written, witty where it needed to be, and elegant in other places, there are moments were the words spoken alone will pull tears out of your eyes (I'm thinking Horace's fish moment in Hagrid's hut, people). Reading other reviews, you'll know what professional critics mean when they say that Yates has humanized this production, given it warmth, earth, a human touch and something quite funny. Every scene has its own character, and everyone can find a distinct favourite. If you want mine, check out the attack on the Weasley house, and despite Ginny's acting, Harry's first real, in-love kiss. 
      Delicious Cormac McLaggen is even convincing, and the adult cast is, as always, faultless. The cinematography is beautiful, with the usually eclectic, imaginative art direction and colouring and especially costume design. As a result of this, the characters are not only cartoon, but they go down in history, making this film as visually satisfying as it's rumoured to be. The score will find a home on my iPod as soon as possible, and it's worth spending your money on a cinema ticket and then a deluxe dvd with special-features. Once you know the story behind that big screen (congrats DanRad and Mickey Gambon, who did that hardcore horcrux scene with nothing but a few glass mounds, a huge green screen and no harnesses) - you might find even more respect for that cast, who had to make up most of the material they were working with in their minds.
     Mind-numbingly and incredibly human, this film combines magic and hormones in the most respectable way. It's a must see for the summer; prepare to have your heart warmed, to have a few tears, a few shocks, a few laughs and a few lukewarm scuffles between wizards. You won't be upset knowing that they did the cheesy falling-in-the-air thing when Dumbledore died, too. Kudos, Yates: you made the magic happen this season. The Half Blood Prince is so close to home that whether you like it or not, you'll go from Harry Potter fan to muggle-in-the-know within ten minutes of that gorgeous opening sequence.

review: Hancock


HANCOCK
***
DIR: PETER BERG for COLUMBIA PICTURES
STARRING: WILL SMITH, CHARLIZE THERON, JASON BATEMAN
21.07.09
Screenplay by VINCE GILLIAN & VINCENT NGO 
Cinematography by TOBIAS A. SCHLIESSLER, Original Score by JOHN POWELL
Editing by PAUL RUBELL & COLBY PARKER JR.
Budget: $150,000,000 Gross Revenue: $624,386,746

The movie begins with what we've been waiting for for a long time. A funny, dramatic adult superhero film with melancholy themes but witty writing and clever use of unoriginal ideas. Berg turns the norm (super strong, fast superhero with the ability to fly) into the ultimate anti-hero; something that viewers all over the world love to see. From Bruce Wayne to Tyler Durden, the anti-heroes are the ones that have our attention, whereas Superman could only be seen as a commercial, generic flick. Hancock is an almost-homeless, callous, crude drunk with a knack for heights and throwing whales back into the ocean. He doesn't like saving the world, but it's a job that needs to be done. So, funnily enough, he does it.
    Smith's performance is, as always, commendable. With such blockbusters under his belt as the Pursuit of Happyness and I, Robot, you expect him to pull out a belter with this one, and seeing him cuss a fat man on a train line is as funny as it is convincing. Bateman is also as adorable as ever, with a seemingly ordinary character with a golden heart. Charlize Theron in this one, though, disappoints. She's been in the Italian Job, and she won an oscar for Monster, but what was she doing right here? At the start of the film, she's just another layman who has negative feelings towards Hancock, which already spurs negative feelings, but when we find out the reason for this, we want to leave the movie theatre and demand our money back.
     At this point in time, the plot is revealed - an unexpected twist, but not one that's pulled off easily, leaving the viewer with the feeling that they've been betrayed. This isn't a charmingly mysterious movie; it's just one that keeps the darkness concealed for long enough to keep you interested, and then turns on you with a very Twilight-esque, Harry Potterish theme. John Hancock is three thousand years old, and Charlize Theron is his sister slash wife.
    I didn't get it, either. And you won't ever get it, because the actual storyline of the film isn't uncovered, ever. it's not an edgy cliffhanger that has you gripping the ends of your seats, it's just something that leave the audience befuddled and slightly annoyed. 
   The technical aspects are very good. With sufficient and sometimes above-par attention to detail, even the way that Hancock flies (which is as though he's throwing himself carelessly into the air, from the angle of his limbs) is very well done. The director of photography is also very clever, using handheld HD cameras almost all the way through; it's a daring move, and sometimes it does feel home-video'd, but for the most part, the colouring and quality is visually satisfying. With plenty of one liners and sometimes a touching script, the writing is almost faultless. The acting is quality, the movie is good - the storyline is pathetic. 
     Unfortunately, this film's beginning and middle just aren't good enough to carry it through with a terrible climax and ending. They're weak and let Berg down, which is why out of two hundred and three reviews, 39% of them were good according to Rotten Tomatoes, so I'm not alone.
     Despite an edgy and comical beginning, this film fails to deliver the action-packed, lighthearted satire that it promised in the trailer. The only fantastic part of the crew were the ones that executed the public relations- and marketing- side of things, which is ironic, seeing as that's all we thought the movie was about. The mistake that Columbia made was that they thought the audience wouldn't be satisfied with a zero-to-hero plotline. I think they think we wanted more, but clearly, the masses say, we didn't. So please, keep it to yourself.

review: Prince Caspian


THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: PRINCE CASPIAN
***
DIR: ANDREW ADAMSON for WALT DISNEY PICTURES
STARRING: BEN BARNES, GEORGIE HENLEY, SKANDAR KEYNES, WILLIAM MOSELEY
21.07.09
Screenplay by ANDREW ADAMSON, CHRISTOPHER MARKUS and STEPHEN McFEELY
Based on the novel by C.S. LEWIS 
Cinematography by KARL WALTER LINDENLAUB, Original Score by HARRY GREGSON-WILLIAMS
Editing by SIM EVAN-JONES
Budget: $225,000,000 Gross Revenue: $419,651,413

The Chronicles of Narnia are known for their epic dialogue and stunning backdrops, and for this last, the movie did not disappoint. The scenery was breathtaking, and so one would expect - locations included China, Slovenia, Poland and Ireland. They also had a brilliant novel to adapt, so why on earth didn't they manage to take C.S. Lewis' beautiful tale and turn it into something visually spectacular? Who knows.
     It's definitely not one for the adults, because the first thing that strikes you is how obviously animated and CGI'd every little thing is. Not one important item is left for the camera to seek out and exposed, and so we must concentrate less on Karl and more on Sim - our post-production man. It is evident at first, second, and third glance that this shit wasn't filmed in front of a camera - the real movie-making took place in a Mac studio. The art direction in some of the smaller sets is really quite well done, but the costume design and make up is yawnworthy. Andrew Adamson was perhaps so focused on adapting a script, producing a movie and directing it all at the same time that he didn't take care for attention to detail; there were no defining touches seen, and nor were there any risks taken by this crew. The first literary franchise you compare this one to is Harry Potter, and unfortunately, Prince Caspian fails miserably in comparison. Prince Caspian himself is portrayed weakly, and his accent is clearly not perfected by a vocal coach at eloquence lessons - they try and make him sound Spanish, I guess, but it turns out a third Irish, a third Scottish, and a third Brazilian. There are some moments where his performance pulls through but before then and after then, Barnes is an ordinary actor who might need a bit of stage experience before he comes back to this sequence of films.
      As for the rest of the cast, you won't hear a peep out of me - the Pevensies are played by a talented bunch, and one who has definitely stepped up the acting is now not-so-young Skandar Keynes, who plays a wonderfully witty, slightly annoying and incredibly charming King Edmund. Georgie and Anna aren't too bad as Susan and Lucy either, and despite the lingering impression that Will Moseley is very, very gay in King Peter's tough knightsuit, he can't be complained about. Especially considering most of these kids were shoved in front of a greenscreen half the time and told to imagine some floating trees, or something. 
     Sometimes, the CGI isn't too bad; there are some moments where real and imaginary aren't definitive, could be one in the same, but there are some moments where we see something so ridiculously cartoon that we can't understand who would want their film to look so tacky. You had two hundred million dollars, Adamson. What the fuck are you playing at? It's alright if you spend the money and it turns out spectacular, but you can't say a movie's expensive if you haven't spent the stuff properly.
    The editing is very good with the material we are presented with; the beginning of the film, the dynamism of the shots in the quieter, darker scenes make this film worth watching. Although the epic battles are forced to be so (they drag out for longer than seven minutes at a time), you can't help but cheer. This one won't please the kids who haven't read the book, or who know nothing about it, and so cannot compare or analyse anything, but are just presented with a prettier 'Saving Private Ryan'. This film also isn't adults; it's for the span of children from nine to eleven who know a bit of this and that, have seen the Harry Potters, and are still forgiving enough to see past the awful animation and overdoing of the fight scenes.
     Poorly executed and under-imaginative, don't watch this one if you're an art freak; you will be disappointed. If you've recently watched Twilight and you want someone to restore your faith in young actors, be my guest, because this will do so. If you've just watched Twilight and realized just how much Catherine Hardwicke worked on the production, and want to see the same thing with Andrew Adamson - don't get your heart broken. Wait a few weeks. 
     I suppose it is worth watching for the few reasons stated above, but this adaptation is not faithful, and it's not careful.
     Prince Caspian is the DVD you switch on to keep the kids quiet on a lazy sunday afternoon - it's just there for the sake of being there.  

review: I Am Legend

I AM LEGEND
****
DIR: FRANCIS LAWRENCE for WARNER BROTHERS
STARRING: WILL SMITH, ALICE BRAGA
22.07.09
Screenplay by AKIVA GOLDSMAN and MARK PROTOSEVICH Based on the novel by RICHARD MATHESON 
Cinematography by ANDREW LESNIE, Original Score by JAMES NEWTON HOWARD
Editing by WAYNE WAHRMAN
Budget: $150,000,000 Gross Revenue: $585,349,010

Well done, Francis Lawrence. Well done. I don't know whether to give this one four or five stars, as above, but we'll settle for four. I am Legend is breathtaking; if you like zombie movies, it'll be lukewarm. The CGI, the images of the diseased in this film are slightly poorer upon a second look, and yes, for that aspect, the climactic scene of I am Legend looks a lot like the climactic scene in I, Robot, but we're not complaining.
      The plot, you'll have figured out within the first three minutes of the film, is that scientists discovered the cure to cancer that is 90% effective on all humans; it develops, mutates into a virus, and wipes everyone out in the world. I see that you're skeptical already, and so was I (especially after having watching fucking Hancock). But what quickly materializes is the originality of this movie - unfortunately, I haven't read the novel, and so this review will only ever be from an ordinary viewer's point of view, which is a shame, as I feel less informed. Anyway; within the first hour, it seems like an arthouse horror. There is very little background noise, and indeed, this film is not score-heavy, and the scenes are organized spectacularly - at least half of the post production of this film was incredibly successful. What we see is a man completely alone in the world's most famous, and perhaps now most desolate city, and Will Smith's performance is wicked - touching, a little nuts, and purely realistic, he is completely engrossed in the role, something that was probably aided by his own daughter's appearance in the film (we like Willow, we do). 
     Despite the fact that you can kind of tell what's CGI and what isn't in this film, and that it's completely fiction (well, not completely, because the concept is remarkably close to home), it is realistic. New York City is not a dark, gruelling, cruel place with rainstorms constantly and loads of clouds for zombies to hide under - the film is set in a beautiful space of time in a sunny September. This isn't your typical zombie movie. And yes, everyone was killed in three years, and fungi and flowers started growing in the cracks in the roads pretty quickly, but let's not pick at that. People, workers, cars: they're all successfully erased, and it looks honest. Smith isn't a bulletproof genius; there are small touches in this film that make it scarily human. For example, when Smith is hanging in the air after being caught in a trap, and when he cuts himself free with his swiss army knife, he does not gracefully land on his feet. He lands on his back, and accidentally stabs himself in the thigh when he falls. You wouldn't see that in a film starring Chad Michael Murray.
       The predominant theme of loneliness is strong and persistent, and life is, as usual, cruel to Will's character. What we want at the end is for Smith to come back to life after having found a cure for zombie-ness and then for the scene to cut to twenty years later, where we see thousands of children holding hands and singing Hakuna Matata, but we won't see that. Tell you why? It's a good movie, that's why.
     The beginning of the film is slow, as Lawrence seems to be pushing the lonely angst theme a little, without leaving enough clues to keep us interested, which means that although the editing is of exceptional quality, more than half of this dramatic thriller is Will running around NYC with a gun. Alright, so it's a bit more mellow than that, but you'll find yourself disappointed when the film is cut short with an explosive animated climax. Scene organization = Five stars. Time management = Three stars.
   What is also to be appreciated is that this film is not oversexed. Not even a littlesexed. The most erotic scene is probably Smith working out with a sweaty six pack for around twenty seconds, and after that we don't see anything that has any remote sexual tension at all. The cinematography and art direction is gorgeous, the writing is fluid, fitting, and almost flawless, and the acting is strong. You have to give it to this guy; he's alone for three quarters of the film with no one but his dog and a few psychotic semi-dead people, and he manages to hold grace and absolutely smash it. 
     Scientists, fans of the books, especially cynical people, phD's, you will find things to pick out, but my verdict is: you don't see movies like this nowadays - it's worth your time, worth your money, worth watching. It's just simply a great film.

 

review: Transformers


TRANSFORMERS
***
DIR: MICHAEL BAY for DREAMWORKS & PARAMOUNT PICTURES
STARRING: SHIA LaBEOUF, JOSH DUHAMEL, MEGAN FOX, JOHN VOIGHT, TYRESE GIBSON
23.07.09
Screenplay by ROBERTO ORCI and ALEX KURTZMAN  
Cinematography by MITCHELL AMUNDSEN, Original Score by STEVE JABLONSKY
Editing by PAUL RUBELL, GLEN SCANTLEBURY and THOMAS A. MULDOON 
Budget: $150,000,000 Gross Revenue: $708,272,592

The first thing you think when you hear the word 'Transformers' is a rather large car-turned-robot with a horny Megan Fox sitting quaintly in the palm of its hand, right? Well, after watching it, the image will be of Optimus Prime holding Linkin Park as they play 'What I've Done' for the closing credits. 
      The best thing about this movie is probably the sound quality - the audio is clear, well edited and the background score is by the same guy who did Pearl Harbour. Whether you're supposed to cringe or cover your ears or shout along with the noise, it's well done all the same. Dubbing, mixing, even the voices of the transformer robots are mixed well, though the flimsy script means that nothing sounds as epic as it's really supposed to. Yeah - about that script? There don't seem to be many lines in between the bashing and banging and clanging. Transformers is, first and foremost, a very noisy film. If you don't like the sound on this one, then don't go and see revenge of the fallen - the New York Times said it was like being hit over the head repeatedly by a saucepan in the movie theatre. It's not witty, and it's not badass, no matter what Megan Fox says. 
    But it is enjoyable. Despite a let down on Fox's part (sometimes - I'm not saying she was all bad), and that annoying blonde Australian girl, the quality of the acting is particularly stellar. Duhamel and Gibson deliver some great stuff, and we're glad to see, for once in our short lives, the US military doing something good in an action movie. Shia's good, too, although we wonder how long he's going to be playing the geeky kid with dirty magazines under his mattress. John Voight makes a surprisingly long and very pleasing appearance, too, and the robots do their best to make the script sound as fantastic as it isn't.
     The great, hunkering battles last a lot longer than they're supposed to, so you find yourself tuning out quite a lot and checking the time. When is this going to end? Are we done yet? But before you get too bored, the battles really do stop, and it's all cool again, except for the fact that Fox's flaky manicure and costume design is slightly off-putting. Indeed, the art direction is unsuccessful until you reach Shia's house, which is something of a fairylit dream. 
     Again, it's a good one for the kids, but if you're over thirteen years old, it'll stretch your eardrums and level of patience. You have to be an old fart not to appreciate... 

______________________________________

fuck it. i'll finish it later.  

review: Twilight


TWILIGHT
***
DIR: CATHERINE HARDWICKE for SUMMIT ENTERTAINMENT
STARRING: KRISTEN STEWART, ROBERT PATTINSON, PETER FACINELLI, TAYLOR LAUTNER
1.08.09
Screenplay by MELISSA ROSENBERG Based on the novel by STEPHENIE MEYER 
Cinematography by ELLIOT DAVIS, Original Score by CARTER BURWELL
Editing by NANCY RICHARDSON
Budget: $37,000,000 Gross Revenue: $382,133,300

I'll not waste your time on this one. Twilight is worth watching - not fantastic, certainly not fantastic, definitely bordering on the four-star mark, which is high praise, but six out of ten, is, unfortunately, all us stubborn, cynical teens can give it for now. Catherine Hardwicke's direction, is as was seen in Thirteen and Lords of the Dogtown wasn't too bad. In fact, the opening sequences of Twilight are incredibly well done. The cinematography (which loses its vigour three quarters of the way through with shoddy hand-held shots, and then picks up again towards the end) loosely resembles that of 'Into The Wild'. Like Sean Penn's masterpiece, the setting and art direction in Twilight are gorgeous, which means, for the most part, it's visually remarkable. We see Portland and Washington in a blur of teal, blues and the rest of a cold palette, and exceptional attention to detail is paid in other, more important areas. What we're not happy about are the things you've already heard of: Catherine may know a thing or two about awkward teen angst and the human mind, but she knows shit about visual effects. Summit just didn't dish out for green screen or CGI, which, you think, is reasonable. It's a good film for thirty seven million, but when you find out the entire post-production of 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button' was done on a macbook and you can still see Pattinson running with a harness strapped on? That kind of makes you want to kick babies. Just when you think the running couldn't get any worse, he starts climbing trees and shit. Basically, there aren't any excuses to be made: visual effects are awful, and as abovementioned, the camera loses way too much focus sometimes, irritating the eye.
         But going back to attention to detail? Boy, is Hardwicke thorough.  There are finishing touches on every tiny little thing; from the wings on Edward's back when Bella first enters Biology, to the pile of antique journals lying about in his room when he has her tour his house for the first time. When it comes to being human, this film is faultless. Absolutely perfect. Although not always talented, there are so many levels to the vast chemistry between characters, it's unbelievable. The Cullens (even though we were skeptical about every single one when they were all cast) seem as though they really have been hanging out together for decades. Charlie and Bella are the most flawless father-daughter duo in the world - in fact, Billy Burke's appearance on screen seems to enhance Stewart's performance in the best way possible. It's pleasing. 
    The chemistry between Robert and Kristen is nonexistent. 'Nuff said. Stewart seems slightly complacent and makes little effort to blend into her role; she appears the awkward, stuttering teen she is in real life. Granted, Bella Swan is clumsy and plain, but Kristen's bony, particularly boyish portrayal is much more severe than probably originally intended. You couldn't see Kristen's Bella with blushing cheeks and that legendary hair, and you can't envision her in the future in white with a child. Not soft, not vulnerable, and she does not once shed a tear - reluctantly, she makes crying faces but there's no moisture. 
    The cast and crew's evident effort to turn Bella into an arse-kicking bra-burner failed. Pattinson, on the other hand, is commendable. Like most of the cast, you have to look past the shitty special effects and flaky make-up, but once you are past it, it's good. Oh, sorry, and you have to look past the parts where he's trying to play a beautiful, immortal boy. Robert seems consumed by the need to play someone gorgeous, and his insecurities are pretty evident in the way that he has to purposely flex his muscles and pout to keep himself within Edward's comfort zone. When he's not that boy, and he's playing the witty boyfriend you could have a good laugh and a flirt with, he's definitely worth the tenner to see the film.
    Special mentions go to Billy Burke (again), and Peter Facinelli, who's performances are by far the best in the movie. Facinelli is absolutely perfect as Carlisle Cullen and could only be improved on in the tiniest ways, that, so far, I'm completely unqualified to pinpoint. Like Kristen, Billy's put a new spin on Charlie - moustachio'd, protective and a bit macho, it works. It sure as hell works.
       With poor sound mixing but fantastic editing, and a seriously awesome soundtrack, you can watch it with your favourite aunt and your best friend. Unfortunately, technical aspects interfere with the film's delivery, such as perfectly beautiful scenes being ruined by the constant, uniform and clunky score written by the now (hopefully) unemployed Carter Burwell. Elliot Davis is 65% phenomenal, 35% fuck the fuck off. As thorough as she is with detail, Hardwicke isn't always as careful when it comes to the technology; you're always looking around to see if you can find a stray XLR cable lying about.
       So it's a good thing that this movie's about a teen's internal turmoil, and little else.

long road

review: Slumdog Millionaire

SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE
***
DIR: DANNY BOYLE and LOVELEEN TANDAN for FILM4
STARRING: DEV PATEL, FREIDA PINTO, ANIL KAPOOR, IRFFAN KHAN
12.08.09
Screenplay by SIMON BEAUFOY Based on the novel by VIKAS SWARUP 
Cinematography by ANTHONY DOD MANTLE, Original Score by A. R. REHMAN
Editing by CHRIS DICKENS
Budget: $15,000,000 Gross Revenue: $360,032,690

Eight oscars. Eight. Did it really deserve all those? No. Did it deserve a lot of them? No. Unlike most of the viewing audiences of this movie, I am able to ingest Slumdog Millionaire from both sides of the spectrum. I'm an Indian-British girl reviewing an Indian-British movie, and at first I wondered why the entire Eastern world actually criticized Boyle and co. You watch it, and you know why. 
         Unfortunately, I have to break the news to all of you: it's a little mean, and it'll burst your bubble. Many of my friends - educated, older people, walked out of the cinema feeling enlightened and insightful. Inspired by India, because this movie is so goddamn honest. Another ridiculously realistic piece of work by Boyle, paralleling 'Trainspotting' in its' cringeworthy realism. Now, I hate to break it to you, but.. Slumdog Millionaire? It's not even subtitled properly. Which leaves you a little pinched towards Danny Boyle, because we're left feeling a little betrayed (as we were when we heard that all that one of the child stars was earning as £25,000. And many people turned around to me and said 'that's more money than her friends will earn in their entire lives put together. WHAT THE FUCK? LOOK AT HOW MUCH THIS MOVIE EARNED. YOU COULD AFFORD MORE THAN 25K, DANNY). Many of the notions in this film are quite inaccurate, slightly dishonest and overtly misleading, but it's not as plain to see if you haven't been and experienced that sort of India by yourself. The technical aspects are, however, somewhat commendable.
       The consistently average cinematography is occasionally highlighted by blooms of colour, making this film gorgeous to look at sometimes. The screenplay is absolutely god-awful, to be particularly frank with you (no teenager in India has ever heard of the word 'pussy', we assure you), and we must again mention the small matter of fact that a lot of the time the subtitles were not correct. The acting in this movie is probably the thing that stretches it so far. All the child actors in this film are undercredited for fantastic performances that are produced, probably the result of the only streaks of honesty in this production. Particularly good are Freida Pinto, gameshow host Anil Kapoor, and sometimes police officer Irffan Khan. Dev Patel's performance is not awful, but not spectacular. The editing and sound mixing, Chris Dickens' work, are probably the only intricate technical works, making Slumdog Millionaire evidently low-budget. We can't fault it for making the most of this teeny-tiny amount of money (in the movie industry, that is); as abovementioned, it is a goodlooking piece of work. Surprising, as most films with a budget like that end up straight to DVD. Kudos, Boyle.
        As much as we hate to admit it, it cannot have been easy to give such a large group of uneducated, young 'slumdogs' direction, and to put such little material to such good use, so we must say that we're sort of happy that Danny won the 'Best Direction' oscar. We can't say the same for 'Best Picture'. Though it is a proper feel-good film, with stupidly unreal plot (we'd put this in the category of 'Hancock' and 'Twilight' for the content) - the harsh reality is that boys like Jamal Malik would have died of blood poisoning or HIV before he had the chance to get a job in a call centre and talk to irksome Scottish people. 
      Good on A. R. Rehman (who I've grown up listening to) for the Golden Globe, the Oscar and the BAFTA, but we've heard better from him; one of the best-selling artists of all time, it's a shame that he had to put his composition into a British film before he gained any recognition. 
      Maybe I'm being harsh? And, had Slumdog Millionaire not recieved so much arse-licking from every other critic ever born ever, I probably would have applauded it. Unfortunately, the case is (and let's be honest about this), if you don't sing its' praises, you're racist. Right? I mean, that's what they think. If it had not won so much at the Academy Awards, it is realistic enough to say that many people would have been accused of favouring a film by another worthy director, but one who has not worked in a foreign country, such as David Fincher or Christopher Nolan. The most competative Oscars in years could have been shared out, awards distributed amongst all the other deserving, hard-worked productions, rather than dishonestly swept up by Slumdog Fucking Millionaire. Yeah, I did try and watch the movie without being biased. And here's the bitter, bitter, really honest truth.
   
         It was alright.


alright, this is from our hearts.

Thank you for spending your lives with me.

She gripped me with lust for just a moment. Her wandering fingers granted me humble permission, and when I kissed her neck hungrily I felt like a monster. It was consensual, yes, but it was nothing short of rape. She tried to smile as I tickled her dainty hips, but her chest convulsed for reasons I couldn’t see. My stamina reduced quickly at the bleary-eyed, numb blanket that engulfed her cool body, but I was already half way there. So I carried on thrusting, thrusting, thrusting. I pulled her arms around me, her limp, clammy hands stroking my back encouragingly. My heart almost broke for her sweetness. I ran my nose along the length of her neck, the muscles in her long thighs contracting as her body reacted with my continued penetrations. She was so closed and unwilling that she squeezed it out of me whether she liked it or not. I opened my eyes as the quivering began and the motions started. It had never been particularly euphoric with Fallon, but the climax came and went quickly as I saw the expression washed over her doll-like features. Her eyes were wide, locked on the ceiling, calculating the time it would take me to finish up and go to sleep. Her lips were pursed so as not to make a sound, brows furrowed with the strain of my bulk inside her.

She smiled as she caught my eyes, but I rolled off her before she said a word, wrapping a towel around myself. Over the course of our twenty year courtship she had seen me properly naked a total of five times. I changed in another room, never slept naked or showered in her presence, and during our rare and brief intercourse, I was covered by sheets or clothes. Usually, I was shrouded by darkness. Precisely because I didn’t want to see that look on her face – not the one I had imagined during lovemaking – the “I want you” look. She was thinking “You’re only my friend”. I let the hot water drum over my freckled, never-quite-adult, always-gangling body. I was exhausted from the effort of trying to get her to fall in love with me tonight. I had been charming at dinner, funny on the drive home. She smiled when I kissed Ellie goodnight. But I suppose trying to seduce her was just too far. I kneeled in the shower, sat in the bath; let the rain come down on my skin. I wouldn’t mind if she beat me with a pole or cut me with a knife, because it was just skin. Just flesh, just my lifeless body anyway. She was inside my head, though; inside my heart. I had considered the possibility of loving someone – anyone else. I tried and failed to feel anything more than fatherly or brotherly affection to women. I tried to see the same sort of beauty in women, fifteen years younger, fifteen years older. My age, my juniors, my seniors.

There was something else in my head, too. Something sinister creeping over my senses and covering my eyes with a thick fog – I hadn’t smelled the mossy sent of Ellie’s ebony curls for half a year now. The jasmine that Fallon usually emitted had been lost on its way to my soul. Brain banging with the migraine that tormented it so readily, I retched into the shower silently, gripping the handrails for support. The fog in my mind blackened. I couldn’t see, I lost my balance. How humiliating, to die in the shower. Not as humiliating as having a fit in it. I fell back into the ceramic and shook, shook, shook. Shuddering with the weight of my sickness, my pupils disappeared into my head. Heel in the plughole where water usually disappeared, in the same sort of way, water crept up at my sides and began to fill the bath as I shook, shook, shook. I stopped, very aware of where I was, head pounding with the fall I had taken. I looked at the water, shimmering with my still, ordinary reflection. The body I had worked so hard to tone so as not to repulse my unwilling wife was not beautiful, not matter how I tried to make it so, no matter that she rarely saw it anyway. And from now, it would only get worse.

I knew exactly what to do, and how to do it. It was a cliché I was conforming to – it was how every Jacobs man before myself at left the world. I didn’t care about the afterlife, I tuned out when Ellie and Fallon discussed angels. They sat around the living room as though they were naughty children with meaningful secrets, while I, clueless, balanced a script on my knees and tried dually to survive. All I wanted was out, now. I locked the door behind me, numb, quiet, knowing she had not waited, but was showering in the plush bathroom down the hall. She would labor over her body. She’d never guess why she scrubbed herself so hard after we ‘made love’. She was too good for resentment. I took her blunt, clean black stick of eyeliner, hands shaking as I wiped the mirror clean with my moist hands, straining, straining as always, not to make a mess of this. Don’t make a mess of it, Scott. Don’t fuck it up. I had heard nothing but this mantra for the last forty three years, endlessly resounding in my cluttered mind. I tried to make the note small and discreet as possible, but large enough to grab someone’s attention, before letting the eyeliner back into its place in her little bag of toiletries.

I cleaned the bathroom as the water level began to rise, made sure every detail was in place. Made sure I had no excuse to turn back. After that first meeting with Dr. Rourke, I had re-written and filed my will. Sixty percent to Fallon, forty percent to Ellie: the extra ten percent that Fallon had was hers to give to Ellie when she wished – the third car, my old scripts. I figured as I scrubbed the floor spotless that even if one of these ends were left loose, it wouldn’t matter to me. I didn’t want to look back. I didn’t even want to survive in event of a recovery; my existence was the most meaningless matter that bothered to clutter this earth. I was impeccably groomed, my hair brushed even though the water would muss it. My fingernails clipped, my stomach full. It was a good way to die, I guessed. I stepped into the water and lay peacefully underneath the surface, not struggling as the water filled my throat and airways, body convulsing naturally as it fought for life. It needn’t, I thought. If Fallon brought herself to sort through my things, she would see the hundreds of letters I had penned to her and Ellie containing my thoughts and feelings, the dated letters I had kept hidden for years and continued to hide. A convenient goodbye. Try as I might, there was no smile on my face as death’s warm fingers laced my own.


kate save the queen

beautiful people

okay, so i've written another one, but this makes a little more sense, seeing as this is the beginning. jaimey and his family are vampires, but i'm not giving away more than that.

There was a little talk. Not much, though it was drowned out anyway by the sound of the children’s hollering on a Monty Python comedy video. Supposedly. It wasn’t funny in the least – was it necessary for us to watch this tosh? The video began with a newborn falling out of a woman’s dress. Mrs. Whitney tried to teach us through the use of ‘media’ about contraception. “Can’t you have your balls cut off, Daddy?” asked a child on screen. Megan cringed next to me. Switch off.

         R.E. Why was I taking this class again? I had a masters in philosophy, and I was sitting here learning junior-level Catholicism. Goodness. I began to comb through the conversations, in the next class, in this. I picked up Libby’s musical voice: “They’re just like Jaimey and his fam. Shit me. I want to look like that.” Frowning, I listened on. “There’s four of them,” Said she, not too proud to have been indulging in such gossip – Megan was kind to her. “Two boys and two girls. Creepy,” She breathed.

 

 
 


 

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