Hanna 2011 (Mini Movie Review)

So, I watched Hanna (2011) (directed by Joe Wright) yesterday and am pleased to report it lived up to my expectations.

Not sure why it made me reminisce on a few older films, as if it paid homage to tiny aspects of each; Run Lola Run (1998) – the fast paced style and the running of course, The Last Samurai (2003) – training in the woods, Under the Mud (2006) – no idea why this came to mind when watching Hanna, perhaps the vaguely surreal inclinations within the movie style, The Fifth Element (1997) – the idea of captivity and experimentation, Universal Soldier (1992) – genetic interventions, Leon (1994) – assassination and the father/daughter relationship, The Bourne Identity (2002) – intelligence, pursuit, and some similar looking filming locations. The list could go on, because Hanna made me think of films that I like, and was in no way trying to imitate them. I know a film is good when it contains elements of some of my older favourites. It made me think of Nikita, and also a book called Shade’s Children, a futuristic world where children are not allowed live past their 14th birthday.

In the film Hanna she is the young lead, trained to be a perfect assassin, and having to fend for herself when sent on a mission to end it all. Saoirse Ronan is brilliant in every film she appears in, but here we get to see her full talents flourish, she is so comfortable immersing herself in a character, yet easily makes the audience uncomfortable with her disconcerting stare suiting her character perfectly. Hanna was well cast, Eric Bana as Hanna’s father, Cate Blanchett as a villain. It all tied together perfectly in a dark, subtly surreal journey hinting at the disparity between fairy-tale fiction and grim reality. Hence, Hanna’s attentions to the Grimm’s Fairy Tales, which emerge in the plot throughout. The film gripped my attention, and forced me to emote conflictingly, as tumultuously as Hanna’s emotions and adaption to the outside world were portrayed. The soundtrack, thanks to the Chemical Brothers, was intense, complimentary, industrial, electro, akin to Nine Inch Nails in parts, and gave the film a modern edge. It added to the stylistic shooting, and artsy cinematography, at points making it feel like a well made music video, but without the music detracting from the plot.

Go see it!

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Killer monkeys?

Monkey Shines

Image by ProfessorMortis via Flickr

If you haven’t seen Monkey Shines (1988), then you definitely need to. This George A. Romero film is hilarious. It was a box office flop, mainly due to Orion Pictures re-cutting it in studio against Romero’s wishes. But ultimately, what do you expect of a film about a killer monkey?

It’s one of those films that is so bad that it’s good. It tells the tale of a quadriplegic man whose best friend gives him a pet monkey to take care of him. The specially trained monkey also happens to be a lab experiment, injected with all manner of things to increase its intellect. The bond between the wheelchair bound master, and super clever monkey, means they share a telepathic connection. The monkey can feel all of its master’s resentment to people whom have wronged him….and monkey has the power to do something about it.

Below is a sketch I did today:

Like my photo?

Pictured: My boyfriend. By: Me.

I killed your partner, so The Tournament begins

After watching The Tournament(2009) I am left mostly unaffected. But the film wasn’t trying to be emotionally powerful, so I suppose this near impartiality is acceptable.

It’s what you expect an average gun-slinging assassin movie to be; without any of the awesomeness the Kill Bill movies had, but with a prompt pacing, vendettas, and a slight twist. Despite being predictable, and not exceeding any expectations, it was nicely cast, acceptably made, and there were no drastic errors.

DON’T watch if you’re looking for something stylistically new, emotionally/intellectually engaging, or rivetting enough to hold you on the edge of your seat.

DO watch if you appreciate guns, lots of them, and explosions. Also if you’re familiar with The Vampire Diaries, you would be pleased to know that Ian Somerhalder plays an assassin called Miles Slade. I do genuinely think he’s a really good actor, and of course Kelly Hu and Robert Carlyle are great.

Erm dude, where’s your skin? Cabin Fever 2 and American Movie

American Movie

Image via Wikipedia

Cabin Fever 2 was just what I expected; boring, amateur, and dragged on too long. That having been said, the animation/cartoon snippets in the title sequence and at the end were very good. I also liked the gore, and enjoy seeing bratty High School teens die (who doesn’t?).

The best part by far was Mark Borchardt as Herman the cab driver. At first I thought I was going mad imagining that it was him, but no it’s definitely Borchardt from American Movie (you have to see it if you haven’t already, truly one of the most hilarious films).

In Cabin Fever 2 he just basically plays himself, he is such a character in reality. “Dude” being the most heavily used word in his vocabulary. He belongs in way more movies, don’t you think?

She got a blog at last!

Hands in the air - in concert

Image by marfis75 via Flickr

http://geminibe.wordpress.com

My old school friend Rebecca (more commonly referred to as Bexy) finally got herself a blog. I say this not just as her friend; her writing is really easy to absorb, uplifting, and above all genuine. She’s really one of the most decent people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. So it’s cool to know that even though we live far away, and hardly see each other anymore, I can stay connected to her on here. I’m really excited to see her next post, her first is so rich and full of free thought.

So, to my very few readers, and even fewer commenters, go and check her out! You won’t regret it.

You think Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is just hype?

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Image via Wikipedia

I deliberately resisted reading the whole book before watching; I read enough chapters to love the book, but avoid clouding my judgement of the film. I was hoping for another Swedish gem, something I could enjoy as much as I loved Let The Right One In (not the remake).

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (“Män som hatar kvinnor“), was directed by Niels Arden Oplev and based on Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy. I loved the story telling within the film, the tale itself is irresistible, as is the heroine Lisbeth Salander (played by Noomi Rapace). But again that is mainly credit to the book, not necessarily the filmmakers.

I admit the film was atmospheric, held my attention, and the story seduced me. But some chunks of the tale felt like they were included only to appease the book’s fans. For example, we probably didn’t need such routine intervals of Lisbeth’s past. Her past is vital of course, it grants context, but so much of it added nothing to the plot, and felt like it was there just to break the pacing between sub-plot and main-plot.

We could have instead been teased with briefer hints and flashes to her past. But I suppose they wanted to find a balance between her tortured past and tortured present. It felt too prescribed, too calculative, trying too hard to force us to see everything of what she is, rather than letting us interpret. I suppose I found it mildly patronising.

I was not offended by the more graphic scenes, which I won’t reveal as I don’t like spoilers. I actually liked the fact that she was portrayed as a strong, independent female. Her dynamic with the journalist Mikael Blomkvist (played by Michael Nyqvist) was effective, and there wasn’t anything startling wrong with the film. It just wasn’t everything I had hoped for.

I should refer back to the film I mentioned before. Hoyte Van Hoytema was responsible for the cinematography in Let the Right One In, his style is subtle but irresistible. Whereas The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, despite not being poorly filmed, certainly had no distinctive style or anything visually new to offer.

I think The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is living proof that the books are always better than the film. But I am glad they made it into a film, because it means more people are encouraged to read the books, which I have found to be excellent. I would recommend watching this film, but don’t do so if you’re expecting something groundbreaking or revolutionary.

Eat shit? The Human Centipede

Promotional poster for The Human Centipede (Fi...

Image via Wikipedia

One of my best friends, Marie, stayed over this week and watched The Human Centipede (directed by
Tom Six) with me.

The worst (best) part was Dr Heiter, played by Dieter Laser. He was truly creepy looking, and his acting made you feel like perhaps he was this scary in reality too. The film was about his being a surgeon; he used to separate conjoined twins, but then becomes fixated with joining living things.

Naturally, this leads to his ideal of a human centipede, connected by sewing their mouths to each others butts, so that they share one digestive track. Implausible in the long-term, and hilarious, so I was glad when one of the three victims died from infection. That was the most medically accurate part.

The film was not scary, but hilarious. I just couldn’t stop laughing at what idiots the characters are. One of the two female leads had the chance to escape, but hides instead of smashing the window to escape straight away. And the Japanese guy, played by Akihiro Kitamura, who is also a captive, actually stabs Dr Heiter with a scalpel, but only in the foot and leg. He goes crazy and bites him, but instead of using his chance to kill the crazy Doctor, or knock him unconscious at least, he chooses to just attempt to run away (difficult with two girls surgically attached).

I had no real sympathy for the characters because their survival instincts were poor, I like it when characters truly try their best and are beaten down, but these three were mainly moronic and therefore deserved it. The very few chances they had to escape they wasted completely.

As ridiculous as this film was, it’s worth watching because it’s one of the funniest films I’ve seen in a long time, and wasn’t too badly shot.

The Collector, watching alone in the dark :(

About to watch it, then will fill in a review here.

“Paris Hilton mauled to death” [Terrible Thursdays]

Mug shot of Paris Hilton.

Image via Wikipedia

“I’d punch Paris Hilton in the face, she’s so far up her own arse, and her voice is the most annoying I’ve ever heard.” – Gill, at lunch today.

Many people share Gill’s view, because Hilton is famous for being famous, which equals infamous. This means we have to hear about her new love interests; her most recent being Cy Waits. And we have to see her smug smile all over the magazines as she laughs off the recent Las Vegas cocaine bust. And don’t even mention her attempts in the film industry.

Just by writing this blog I am hypocritically perpetuating her infamy. And these little facts I’ve included are things I know but simply never wanted to know. Because I absorb media, and she’s all over it, I am forced to hear about her.

I really don’t care about whether she’s a nice or deep person inwardly; her vapid media presence is what bugs me. I can’t hate someone whom I do not know, but I can see why Gill and many others can.

So, on this Terrible Thursday, my evil thought is about the funniest ways in which Paris Hilton could die. Note: I do not wish anyone’s death, I’m just thinking about the funniest titles that could crop up in the media announcements of her death.

Example: ‘Paris Hilton mauled to death by pet piglet’

So, if you dare, what do you think is the best way she could die, or funniest news headline?

Dear John, sob stories don’t ensure a great movie

Cover of "Dear John (Limited Edition Blu-...

Cover via Amazon

Despite my reluctance, I just watched Dear John (2010), directed by Lasse Hallström. This is because my friend Katie insisted.

It’s not entirely fair for me to slate the filmmakers just because I did not enjoy it at all. My lack of enjoyment came mainly from the fact that I’m not a stereotypical girl who falls for the lead male every time, or dreams of that kind of thing. I have everything I need in that department. I do like films about love, but they must have something more to offer.

So, aside from getting people to relate to the smushy love scenes, what else does this film have to offer?

Well, my favourite aspect was John’s father, played by Richard Jenkins. He has always had an affinity to play loner roles, and fatherly ones. Six Feet Under, the Television series which ran from 2001-2005, is a good example, with his role as Nathaniel Fisher.

I loved his fragility, it evoked more feeling from me than Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried‘s love scenes ever did. His coin collection made a great metaphor throughout the film, and was like another character.

Sympathy tactics are not enough to make a great movie for me though, it did not change the fact that the film was predictable, relatively shallow, and did not fully convince me. Despite all-round acceptable performances, Richard Jenkins was the only fully convincing part.

The Wolfman, Ruthbug’s Review

The Wolfman (2010 film)

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve decided to at last review The Wolfman, directed by Joe Johnston.

It lacked the charm of older supernatural movies, but offered a modern take, and the atmosphere was mildly reminiscent of Sleepy Hollow.

Emily Blunt and Benicio Del Toro made great performances, and had obvious chemistry. Needless to say Anthony Hopkins was on usual top form.

Best Parts: 1) In the forest when Del Toro (in wolf form) catches up with the gentleman stuck in a bog, the man tries to shoot himself in the head before Del Toro kills him painfully, but there are no bullets left, so he has his head savagely sliced off by the wolfman.

2) I loved the trippy montage within the asylum.

Visually impressive, well cast and atmospheric, but it didn’t grip my attention the whole time, and I am still trying to work out exactly why. It felt like there was an ingredient missing, or perhaps it was just too long, like not enough butter stretched over too much bread. The plot twists did not feel very surprising, and I do not think the film offered anything new to me. Still, I don’t have any serious complaints, and think it’s worth watching.

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Multiple personalities and Shelter

Shelter (2009 film)

Image via Wikipedia

[contains mild spoilers]

It’s nearly 4am and I can honestly say I haven’t been this spooked by a film in a long time. I just watched Shelter (2010), directed by Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein. And written by Michael Cooney.

Julianne Moore, whom I adore, plays a forensic psychiatrist whose patient (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) has multiple personality disorder…or so she thinks.

The fact that each of his multiple ‘personalities’ are that of actual murder victims, causes her to question herself. An inward battle between science and religion reigns as she tears through experimentation and research, finding nothing that makes sense to her.

What starts out as a psychological thriller becomes supernatural horror, which was quite interesting as it works as both. Some people complained about the ‘switch’, but in actuality there was no transition needed; it was always evident that this was more than just a man with multiple identities. Maybe some people are just a little slow in the brain tank. The filmmakers even showed the supernatural darkness very early on in the plot, leaving no doubt in anyone’s mind other than Julianne Moore herself.

I was impressed with Jonathan Rhys Meyers’s handling of the multiple roles, especially when he had to behave as a little girl crying after her wounded mother. He had the hardest task of balancing the many characters that made his part.

The film had a subtle style which never intruded on the plot; every voice over or scene transition was smooth, and the music haunting in all the places it needed to be. I did wonder why only the spine was fully changed when each of Meyers’s identities switched, whereas everything else was left the same, but I guess that doesn’t need to be explained. The convenient thing about supernatural genres is that they minimise the need to explain what is synonymously unexplainable, or without reason.

8/10 is a very fair rating I think. But I wonder if maybe I was only so jumpy during because I am sleep deprived, and alone in a cold dark house.

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Cannibals and Snowboarders

Today I watched Scarce (2008), directed by Jesse T. Cook and John Geddes, a film about a group of snowboarders on vacation. During a snow storm they are forced to seek refuge, but little did they know they are safer out in the storm. The people who grant them refuge are cannibals, surviving on what they ‘hunt’ throughout the winter.

Overall a pointless film with a very slow start, but the effects were cool, especially because it was on a low budget. I mean, of course I only watched it for the blood; I wouldn’t sit down and watch a film with that premise if I were looking for an intellectually challenging experience.

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