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Posts Tagged ‘Jessica Biel’

When I received a DVD in the post from the rental company I subscribe to I was a little disappointed as I didn’t remember adding it to my watch list, however I was pleasantly surprised by The Tall Man resulting in the question: why didn’t it get a cinema release? So for the first time in two and half years I give you an entry into my “DVD Gems”.

A small mining town in Washington State is slowly dying since the mine closed. Amidst the desolation the towns children are slowly disappearing one by one, the police and the community have no idea what is happening beyond the presence as a mythical “tall Man”. Everyone appears to have given up and the local police are inept, only Seattle detective, Lieutenant Dodd (Stephen McHattie) and young nurse (Jessica Biel) have any life or vigour remaining. Beyond that it wouldn’t be fair to spoil any of the plot.the tall man

There was a time during The Tall Man that I thought of Martyrs (2008). Having sat down to watch the movie with no prior knowledge or expectations I didn’t realise at the time that the two movies share a writer and director in the shape of the darling of the New French Extreme, Pascal Laugier. With this in mind it is even more surprising that the movie didn’t find its way into UK cinema’s. Not as good as Martyrs but more accessible and less extreme it could have easily found an audience amongst horror fans, however it isn’t actually a horror movie although it shares many themes and tropes of the genre. It is a well paced and well constructed atmospheric thriller far from a horror shocker. For fans of the genre, it is a perfect case of “bait and switch” but I won’t say how, that would ruin it. There are twists and turns in the plot, the most daring of them isn’t necessarily daring in its reveal as much as how early in the movie it happens. To its credit, it keeps you hooked beyond this point and keeps you asking questions about what is going on. It has its problems, chief amongst them is the stereotypical and clichéd small town setting with its stereotypical clichéd characters. This however is integral to the plot and as distracting as it can not be avoided.the tall man jessica biel

Director Pascal Laugier and director of photography Kamal Derkaoui have created a stunning looking movie. The photography if very dark, even in the daytime, this helps evoke a feeling of desperation and despair in the dying town. The sets perfectly give the impression of a setting a generation shy of becoming a ghost town. This fits well both with the thriller aspects of the movie as well as the underlying social commentary. The cast is perfect with Jessica Biel giving a suitably intense and low key performance. Stephen McHattie plays a suitably grizzled detective. Jodelle Ferland (who looks more like horror/thriller queen Danielle Harris every time I see her) acts as narrator but also plays a part that strings the elements of the story together, she does a great job.Tall-Man Jodelle Ferland

The film is at its best and its greatest achievement is when it expects audiences to think about what they have seen and how they feel about them. It leaves its conclusion open. I don’t mean unfinished or even ambiguous, just open. This isn’t a David Lynch movie where we question what we have seen and what it means, It gives us a series of events that by the end, the facts are clear and without question, however the morality and meaning are left for the viewer to decide. The overriding theme and the question it poses were asked a few years ago in a very different movie (I won’t name it as it will give too much away), while the other movie in question was better, it was also more closed in its opinion. As with the other movie most people will draw one of two conclusions, however it is possible to like or dislike the film on its own merits regardless of which camp you are into, the movie isn’t preaching one idea or the other, it is asking a question. This along with the plot twists may be what is putting some people off. If you feel cheated by plot twists of like being told what to think avoid this film.the tall man Stephen McHattie

If you reed the numerous (and somewhat mixed) reviews on Rotten Tomatoes or IMDB you would be forgiven for thinking the movie is incoherent thanks to the plot twists, I am happy to report they are wrong! There are twists and turns in the plot, while they may or may not be surprising, but they are never incoherent or hard to follow. Far from a classic but certainly a memorable entry into the genre and far better than many that get a cinema/theatrical release.

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Following the release of The Expendables 2 earlier this there was a lot of buzz about an all female Expendables. At the time I speculated on the stars of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s who could star in it, but given the action movies from this year I thought I would look at it from a different point of view. Who are this years top female action stars?

If you remember the original Total Recall (Sharon Stone) has one good action scene before getting killed off. In the remake director Len Wiseman has extended the part and cast his wife Kate Beckinsale, she reciprocates by playing the part with relish and being the best thing in the movie totally eclipsing Jessica Biel’s Melina. Beckinsale also stars as Selene in Underworld: Awakening, back for a third time in the fourth installment of the vampire v werewolf franchise. It is possibly the weakest of the series but Beckinsale still does a great job. Resident Evil: Retribution is the latest in Another franchise that has lasted longer than anyone thought possible, the reason to keep watching, Milla Jovovich. From successful franchises to ones that can’t get off the ground; although not a financial success, Dredd is a big improvement on the previous attempt to make a Judge Dredd movie, Olivia Thirlby’s rookie judge Anderson gives the movie a new dimension and direction.

The star of the original The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Noomi Rapace has made the jump to Hollywood. Elizabeth Shaw is the central character at the heart of Prometheus, she is no Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) but still makes a compelling star. I first saw Naomie Harris in 28 Days Later… 10 years ago, she has had a few decent roles in the decade that followed she has had the odd good role, its great to see her get one Eve in Skyfall. Anyone who has seen Winter’s Bone would probably agree that Jennifer Lawrence was the only person who could have played Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games. A reluctant hero, she may not have the ass kicking credentials of Gina Carano or Kate Beckinsale but she has more grit and determination than any actress/character on this list. Lawrence also appeared as Raven / Mystique in X-Men: First Class, with The Hunger Games first sequel Catching Fire due out next year and X-Men: Days of Future Past in 2014 expect to see a lot more of her. Its also worth remembering Rebecca Romijn’s all action take on the part to give an insight on where the character is going.

Given the amount of hits this site has received in the last few years from people searching for “Anne Hathaway Catwoman” its fair to say Anne Hathaway’s Selina aka Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises has been the most anticipated female action role of year. I’m not sure she has replaced Michelle Pfeiffer as the ultimate Catwoman but she certainly didn’t disappoint. The other highly anticipated, big budget franchise movie of the summer was The Avengers (aka Avengers Assemble here in the UK). As a regular human I was concerned at what Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) would have to do in The Avengers surrounded by gods, monsters and super solders not to mention a billionaire playboy with a powered suit of armour. As it turns out her and Jeremy Renner’s Clint Barton / Hawkeye are at the heart of the story and are both brilliant.

The biggest action star of the year (male or female) came out of nowhere, former mixed martial arts fighter Gina Carano as Mallory Kane in Haywire. There is something old-fashioned about Steven Soderbergh’s action revenge thriller Haywire, using long takes, still cameras and short lenses that give lots of depth of field. This is the perfect showcase for Gina Carano to show of her fighting ability. It takes the movie back to a pre Bourne time for action movies and has resulted in a love it or hate it reaction. Whatever your thoughts it looks like we have seen the birth of a new action star. An honourable mention for Melissa George who impressed again in last years A Lonely Place to Die, she doesn’t have any movies coming out this year but is currently starring on BBC1 in Hunted. The show is formulaic in the style of Spooks but she is really good in it.

Other performances that didn’t make the grade but are worth a quick mention are: Although there was nothing wrong with her performance Nan Yu’s Maggie in The Expendables 2 was a caricature rather than a character. Kristen Stewart was actually quite good as Snow White but the film wasn’t up to much and she was totally overshadowed by Charlize Theron. Rihanna looked good in Battleship but the film was pretty crap and the girl can’t act. Wrath of the Titans was marginally better than Clash of the Titans and Rosamund Pike is reasonably good as Andromeda having been given a much larger role than Alexa Davalos in the first film. Maggie Grace managed to avoid getting Taken in Taken 2 but she more than makes up for this by being held hostage in Lockout. In both movies she does have a few action scenes. Combining this with a part as a vampire in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 she may be moving more towards action roles.

Did I miss anyone out. Can anybody recommend any movies or performances I have missed from the past year?

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