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Archive for March, 2014

After reviewing every film I saw for a year back in 2010 I tend not to write many reviews especially for big movies where everyone including far more eloquent writers than me have their say. This doesn’t stop my own occasional musings. WARNING to anyone who hasn’t seen the movie, there are spoilers ahead.Captain America The Winter Soldier

The Marvel movie has suddenly grown up. Captain America: The Winter Soldier plays like a 1970s political thriller, a theme that is fuelled by the presence of Robert Redford. The great thing about the movie is how it has done this without losing the fun of other movies within the franchise. This 70’s style has been well publicised and discussed but it goes deeper than that. 70’s thrillers were all about uncertainty and paranoia and that is what we get here, but its a different type of paranoia. Where in the past we looked outwards, these days it is all about looking inwards. Can we trust our own governments? This is a post 9-11 paranoia, a surveillance state paranoia. This makes the film a powerful allegory for a time and therefore a historical document that it will be interesting to look back on many years from now.captain-america-robert-redford

It would be very easy to film about the fish out of water as Steve Rogers adapts to the modern world. As well as avoiding this, the movie actually makes a joke of it with Rogers making a list of things he has missed that people recommend to him. It appears that there may be regional differences. The version I saw included the 1966 World Cup final and Sean Connery, I have heard of a version that includes Oldboy. Instead of letting this idea overpower the plot it is kept constantly there but in the background. Through the involvement of Captain America the modern world is constantly held up against “The Greatest Generation”, this is where the idea of doing what is right rather than what is easy or what is expected comes from.steve rogers list

In the spirit of leaving an audience wanting more, there are at least five characters in the movie I would like to see get a more prominent role in a future film or even their own film:

  • Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson)
  • Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson)
  • Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell)
  • Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders)
  • Agent 13 (Emily VanCamp)Black Widow Nick Fury Peggy Carter Maria Hill Agent 13

Who is Sharon Carter / Agent 13 (Emily VanCamp)? Steve Rogers’ neighbour “Kate” unsurprisingly turns out to be an undercover S.H.I.E.L.D. agent assigned to protect Rogers. A little online research tells me that in the comic books (I have never read any Captain America) the character was originally the younger sister of Peggy Carter but a change in continuity turned her into Peggy’s niece.

Throughout the movie Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow: (Scarlett Johansson) is seen wearing a necklace with an arrow on it. A possible reference to the archer Clint Barton/ Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) who she was clearly close to in The Avengers. I guess we will find out more in Avengers: Age of Ultron and the announced Black Widow movie.black widow arrow necklace

Did everyone spot the Pulp Fiction joke? If you didn’t take a look at Nick Fury’s gravestone “The path of the righteous man. Ezekiel 25:17.”

The mid credit stinger is an interesting one. it introduces two character referred to as The Twins. They are clearly Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Pietro Maximoff / Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) who have already been for : Age of Ultron. The interesting thing about the characters is how they will fit into the Avengers universe. As mentioned above, I haven’t ready any Captain America but have read some X Men. In the original comic books Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are the children of Magneto. As such a different version of Pietro Maximoff / Quicksilver is set appear in X-Men: Days of Future Past played by Evan Peters. With the mutant part of the Marvel universe under license to Fox it was only a matter of time before they both lay claim to a character.

The conclusion of the film sees what is effectively the end of S.H.I.E.L.D. as we know it. I am sure a future film we see a rebirth, however until that time, how will it affect Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) and his team in the TV show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.? The continuity of the show appears to run alongside the movies, episode 8 The Well is set in the aftermath of the events of Thor: The Dark World. Clearly the show can exist outside the continuity of t.he movies, however to make such an effort to run them alongside each other they are clearly going to remain that way. This leaves some interesting plot possibilities. Agents of shield

Captain America: The Winter Soldier represents the mid point of Marvels Phase Two. Iron Man 2 was the only misstep in Marvels “Phase One”, with this in mind I am looking forward to the the next two instalments: Guardians of the Galaxy (Aug 2014) and Avengers: Age of Ultron (May 2015).

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Captain America Blogathon

captamericablogathonCaptain America: The First Avenger saw Steve Rogers’ transformation into Captain America. It ended with him being frozen and defrosted in the modern world. In The Avengers he was too busy saving the world to think about what he had missed, but there is a brief moment of downtime at the start of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. As you would expect people keep recommending things to him, he appears to keep a notebook to these recommendations. I thought it would be fun to suggest a few films that he missed between 1943 and 2011. It seemed like a good idea for a blogathon, so here are the lists from other participants:steve rogers list

Novia from Polychrome Interest

Anna from Defiant Success

Josh from The Cinematic Spectacle

Brittani from Rambling Film

Jack Deth from flixchatter

Ted and Ruth from Flixchatter

ninvoid99 from Surrender to the Void

Mette from LIME REVIEWS and STRAWBERRY CONFESSIONS

Caz from Let’s Go To The Movies 

Wendell from Dell on Movies

Beatrice from Big Screen Small Worlds 

Andrew from A Fistful of Films

Domestic and Damned from Coffee and Casseroles

 

And finally my own three lists:

 

If I have missed anyone or if you want to join in send me an email (address in contact section above) or comment below.

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captamericablogathonCap’ is clearly an action guy so for my third list of recommendations I have gone for action movies:

Enter The Dragon (1973)Enter The Dragon

Raiders Of the Lost Ark (1981)Raiders Of the Lost Ark

The Terminator (1984)The Terminator

Aliens (1986)sigourney weave aliens

Lethal Weapon (1987) Lethal Weapon

Die Hard (1988)die hard

Point Break (1991)Point-Break Utah and Bodhi

Hard Boiled (1992)hard boiled

The Matrix (1999)The Matrix

District 13 (2004)District 13

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captamericablogathonFor those who didn’t see my original post, one of the extended trailers for shows a pocket note book where Steve Rogers makes a list of things people have recommended he should catch up on in the time he was frozen (1943 and 2011). The idea of the Blogathon is to recommend ten movies to him.

The guy was frozen for seventy years, he may want a little cheering up, so for my second list I have chosen just comedy movies:

Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)Kind Hearts and Coronets

Some Like It Hot (1959)some like it hot

The Apartment (1960)The Apartment

Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979)Monty Python's Life of Brian

Airplane (1980)Airplane

The Blues Brothers (1980)the blues brothers

National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983)kinopoisk.ru

The Man With Two Brains (1983)The Man With Two Brains

The Naked Gun (1988)The Naked Gun

The Big Lebowski (1998)The Big Lebowski

And finally bonus pick, a pre 1941 film that he probably missed: The Great Dictator (1940)The Great Dictator

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captamericablogathonFor those who didn’t see my original post, one of the extended trailers for Captain America: The Winter Soldier shows a pocket note book where Steve Rogers makes a list of things people have recommended he should catch up on in the time he was frozen (1943 and 2011). The idea of the Blogathon is to recommend ten movies to him.

I intend to do a few lists, this is my first, all of the films depict key events of the time. They are also all really good movies.

Bicycle Thieves (1948) or The Third Man (1949) – The aftermath of WWIIBicycle ThievesThe Third Man

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)-  Civil rightsto-kill-a-mockingbird

Woodstock (1970) – WoodstockWoodstock

American Graffiti (1973) – youth culture and rock and roll musicamerican graffiti

The Right Stuff (1983) – The Space RaceThe Right Stuff

Platoon (1986) – Vietnamplatoon

Schindler’s List (1993) The HolocausSchindler's List

Good Night, and Good Luck. (2005) McCarthyismGood Night, and Good Luck

United 93 (2006) – 9-11United 93

The Social Network (2010) -The Internetthe-social-network

Thanks to everyone who has posted already. I will get a list up at the end of the week. Anyone planning to take part email or message me with a link. Thanks to Ruth from flixchatter for the banner.  

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The Twilight Saga (2008 – 2012) is loved and loathed in equal measure, it does however give us a different type of vampire in a different type of vampire movie. Here are a few more vampire movies with original ideas.

Sunlight in Nosferatu (1922)nosferatu

Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens translated as Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror; or simply Nosferatu (1922) directed by F. W. Murnau and starring Max Schreck was adapted from Bram Stoker’s Dracula the names were changed, not to protect the innocent, but because the studio did not obtain the rights to the novel. They didn’t even use the word vampire, instead replacing it with Nosferatu. Despite being an adaptation, Nosferatu has some original ideas, one of them has become a mainstay of vampire movie ever since (except Twilight). Sunlight. In the original novel Dracula avoids daylight as he is weakened by sunlight. Orlok (as he is called in Nosferatu) is destroyed by sunlight.

Kung Fu vampires in The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974)The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires

Blade (1998) reinvented the vampire movie, not as a horror but as an action movie. The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974) was a co production between Hammer Studios and Hong Kongs Shaw Brothers Studio. Having lost its way from Scars of Dracula(1970) onwards a change was needed and in The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires was certainly a change. Relocating the story to China and utilising the skills of both legendry Hong Kong action director Chang Cheh and Roy Ward Baker, a veteran of several previous Hammer films. The result is a bonkers 83 minute action horror that is both brilliant and original.

Realism in Near Dark (1987)near_dark

Vampire movies are fantasy as any movie containing a fictional species is, however vampire stories tend to be more complicated than that. With stories of good and evil, darkness and light, they are often more religious or spiritual stories. The weapons that destroy vampires often signify purity, they include crucifixes and holly water. Near Dark takes a different approach. Essentially a modern day western, a dustland fairytale were salvation comes not from a mysticism but from a blood transfusion.

It’s fun to be a vampire in The Lost Boys (1987)jun 52

Those who only know Joel Schumacher as the director that killed the Batman franchise in the 90’s will be surprised by his pop culture credentials. As a twelve year old , The Lost Boys was amongst my favourite movies. Although the conclusion is the usual good over evil scenario we have come to expect from a vampire movie, the hour leading up to the conclusion is exactly what the tagline promises: Sleep all day. Party all night. Never grow old. Never die. It’s fun to be a vampire.

Melancholy in Interview with a Vampire (1994)Interview with the Vampire

Based on the novel of the same name by Anne Rice is the story of Louis de Pointe du Lac (Brad Pitt), a man who following the the deaths of his wife and child has lost the will to live. Offered death by the mysterious Lestat de Lioncourt (Tom Cruise) he instead asks to live and in return is given the eternal “life” of a vampire. What follows is a an existential story based around the melancholy of an unusually long life. Not a completely original idea but probably the best example of the idea.

30 Days of Night in 30 Days of Night30 Days of Night

Ever since Nosferatu vampires have seen vulnerable to sunlight so why did it take so long to set a vampire movie in a place with no sunlight? 30 Days of Night was originally an unsuccessful film pitch, in 2002 it became a three issue graphic novel mini-series written by Steve Niles and illustrated by Ben Templesmith. Five years later it became a movie directed by David Slade. Both comic and movie tell the story of the fight for survival as a group of vampires descend on Barrow, Alaska during its month-long “polar night”.

What happens when the food runs out? in Daybreakers (2009)daybreakers elvis and edward

Vampires are mysterious creatures that exist in the shadows, it is often the case that they appear in movies without the other characters knowing of their existence. But what happens when vampires are take over the world and become the dominant race? Simple they run out of food and that’s the premise of Daybreakers (2009).

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In the early 90’s Ralph Fiennes, then in his early 30’s became an apparent overnight star. after years on stage his first big break was in the TV show Prime Suspect. he then went on to a lacklustre adaptation of Wuthering Heights with a sadly miscast Juliette Binoche who was far too French for the part. Then out of nowhere came his career defining performance of Amon Goeth in Schindler’s List (1993). He was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar, I have never been able to comprehend how he didn’t win. This was followed by a starring role in Robert Redford’s Quiz Show (1994) and Kathryn Bigelow’s Strange Days 1995. Both of these were interesting parts that demonstrated Fiennes’ range. He came to the attention of a lot of people with The English Patient (1997), the second of three movies he appeared in to win best picture Oscar, the others being Schindler’s List. The film also reunited him with Wuthering Heights co star Juliette Binoche. I am happy to report both were perfectly cast this time. Ralph Fiennes Schindler's List

In 2005 he reached a whole new audience when he played Lord Voldemort in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, a role he would reprise in all the remaining film series. The interviews that he did around the films suggested he had little knowledge or interest in phenomenally successful film franchise. His directorial debut came with Shakespeare’s tragedy Coriolanus. Fiennes also took the leading role, a man with a great dislike of being praised, a trait that it has been suggested comes from the belief that the acceptance of praise may be an admission that he places value on others opinion of him! An interesting character for Fiennes to chose. Despite this varied array of work, one thing he has never been accused of is being funny. Having heard him in many interviews he clearly hates the publicity machine that goes with the industry, preferring to let his performance do the talking. In fairness he was very funny as Harry in, In Bruges. This however was achieved by playing the part deadpan straight complete with a preposterous accent. He also had some funny moments in Strange Days, but that was more an uncomfortable laugh out of pity and despair.Ralph Fiennes Coriolanus

None of this prepaid me for Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel. totally camping it up, Fiennes gives a note perfect performance. The history of movies has shown that comic actors taking on serious roles (Adam Sandler in Punch-Drunk Love, Bill Murray in Lost In Translation, Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting and Dead Poets Society) has been far more successful than straight actors trying to be funny. I don’t know and will probably never know if his impeccable timing is down to Fiennes’ performance of Andersons direction and editing. The film is hugely over stylised and is all the better for it, this is probably what allows Fiennes to escape the shackles and confines of the parts he normally platys. Allowing his young co-star Tony Revolori to play the straight role Fiennes appears to be having fun with the part.GHB_9907 20130130.CR2

I’m not sure Ralph Fiennes can step effortlessly from comic to dramatic performances like Jack Lemmon and Alec Guinness did but I would certainly like to see him in a few more comic roles if the results are anything like The Grand Budapest Hotel.

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