Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Smashed - Trailer

As a massive fan of Aaron Paul and Breaking Bad, I couldn't wait for his appearance in a Hollywood movie. Yes, he's popped in a few small roles previously, but the massive critical and eventual commercial success of the show was bound to open doors, as it has for his partner in crime, Bryan Cranston.

Anyway, this looks like a great choice for the actor most famous as a meth addict and cook / dealer Jesse, that was have come to know in BB. A brutal tale of star crossed lovers struggling with alcoholism, Smashed looks like everything I'd hoped AP would show us, intelligent, character driven drama. It's out now in cinemas in the US, and lets hope it follows very soon here in the UK.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Review: The Ides Of March

I have avoided writing reviews for some time. And, when I became of The Ides Of March last year, on its' release, I avoided it too.

There was something about the notion of Hollywood liberal and UN Ambassador George Clooney and his actor pals doing a self congratulating movie about the death of American liberalism that just turned me off. But I read it wrong. This movie is far more nuanced, a fascinating a character study, and an analysis of the corruption of the human being inside the Machiavellian US political machine.

At the heart of it is not Clooney (who directs, but doesn't even really appear until several minutes in, and then only sporadically), playing Governor Mike Morris, a Presidential Candidate going through the rigours of a Democratic Primary election in Ohio. It's his campaign staff, namely heart-throb of the moment, Canadian Ryan Gosling as Steven Myers, his second in command, who the action centres on, and his development from idealistic political ingĂ©nue to cynical insider.

While the movie begins with Myers helping his boss Paul Zara, played with effortlessly and gracefully by Philip Seymour Hoffman, when the campaign hits a snag, he embarks on an affair with beautiful young intern Molly Stearns (Evan Rachel Wood), 10 years his senior, who precociously seduces him.

But it's when he gets an offer from the rival campaign manager Paul Giamatti, and discovers a secret about Morris's personal life, that things begin to unravel, and his deep emotional bond of loyalty to his boss is questioned.

I have to say, I enjoyed this movie more than I thought I would, and it's partly because of the highly skilled, effortless performances, great direction, and a wonderful story. It changes direction unexpectedly, but it perfectly paced.

The sense of corrupt system in which only the manipulative can survive is perfectly communicated, and little touches like the supporting performance and sub plot with the Marissa Tomei's journalist character, underscore the sense of younger, innocent people being chewed up and spat out by older, more cynical souls. Or worse, becoming like them, and trading their innocence for advancement in the process.

Movie Hack Rating 4/5.

Buy Ides Of March on DVD USA

Buy Ides Of March on Blu Ray in USA

Buy Ides Of March on DVD in the UK

Buy Ides Of March on Blu Ray in UK

Friday, 20 April 2012

Review: Cabin In The Woods

Movies often arouse a variety of emotions in people, as is their intention, but fury is an unusual response. 

But that's exactly what I felt this afternoon when I spent £8.80 of my own hard earned money to watch Cabin In The Woods, the Joss Wheldon produced/written horrommedy (Geddit?), which was hotly hyped by the wonderful Christy Lemire and her cohorts on What The Flick. I respect the collective opinions of Messrs Matt Atchity and Alonso Duralde, and Mme Lemire so much that I went to see the movie on their recommendation. Oh my how you let me down guys!

The attractive and capable cast is not the problem. Innocent heroine Dana (Kristen Connolly, pictured, right) is the lead protagonist of the movie, and joined this journey into wild woodlands by Thor, or Chris Helmsworth (pictured, left), who can be seen camping it up elsewhere in the current Avengers movie, and who plays an all American jock/ part time sociologist (this is supposed to connote emotional depth apparently). Meanwhile Anna Hutchinson plays The Slut, Fran Kranz* the fool/ stoner, and male model Jesse Williams plays against type as the scholar. 

If these seem like unfair tropes, the standard fayre of horror movies, this is because Cabin In The Woods intends it to be so. It's very much a post modern deconstruction of the horror movie genre, begun by precursors like Scream, a decade ago, when viewers began searching for more cerebral horror as the thrills of the overly familiar genre were perceived to have run dry. 

CITW ups the ante in its self-awareness by making inevitable zombie family resurrection and gradual death of the cast the product of an international conspiracy of a murky underground organisation that chooses 5 young people each year to be human sacrifices for some otherworldly beings that hold the planet to randsom.

The perfunctory manner in which the characters were drawn and dichotomy between this and the underground shenanigans of men and women sat at computer monitors and banks of dials and switches making it all happen made me furious. 

A horror movie should work first and foremost as a movie, and this didn't. A movie must have an emotional heart, and I spent much of the time not caring about anyone on screen once I realised the makers of the movie did not. The Dana character played by Connolly is supposed to service this purpose, but once you realise the authors of this movie are hell bent on unfolding a ridiculous conceit, you cease to care even about her, given the contrived nature of her surroundings.

In conclusion, then, Cabin In The Woods is a movie which is short on horror, heart, and comedy, and this renders its attempt at being cerebral irrelevant.

Movie Hack Rating: 1/5

* The only thing in this movie that doesn't suck.