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Posts Tagged ‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’

We all have an idea of what a Christmas movie is, there are so many options – Traditional: It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), Miracle on 34th Street (1947 & 1994), White Christmas (1954) – Trendy: Die Hard (1988), Gremlins (1984), Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005) – Fun/Comic: Home Alone (1990), The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992), Love Actually (2003).  Alternative/Horror: Black Christmas (1974), Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010), Krampus (2015).  But if you step away from the usual suspects, what are the Christmas films you can act watch and enjoy:

G0 (1999): Christmas eve in LA is the setting for three interweaved stories. A drug deal goes wrong. A trip to Vegas goes wrong.  A pair of actors are forced into helping the police and it goes very wrong!  You get the idea. The connections between the three stories feel natural not contrived. The direction from Doug Liman (who went on to make some great and varied movies including The Bourne Identity and Edge of Tomorrow) walks the perfect tightrope, the film is well paced, well edited and knows when to use comedy and brevity. Full of great comedy moments from the taught, an witty script, but it is the great acting from the young (and little know at the time) cast elevate this film to near greatness.  But is it the a Christmas movie? For many people, Christmas is about family, in this year more than ever as many of us cannot be with extended families this year, the film shows us what family can be.  For these young people, their friends are there family, and this is what Christmas means to them. 

Eyes Wide Shut (1999): Set in the days leading up to Christmas; after his wife confesses that she was once tempted to cheat on him, doctor Bill Hartford is sent into a head spin and spends the night in New York meeting a strange array of characters. This culminates in him gate crashing a surreal ritualistic orgy.  Behind all the gloss and opulence and the dreamy surface this is a gritty and real story of love, sex and relationships.  Just like an  80’s yuppie in peril movie like After Hours, and Into the Night (both 1985), Eyes Wide Shut sends our “hero” into an odyssey that he didn’t plan and doesn’t really understand, and as a viewer it is always on the edge of reality and dream.  Beyond the setting, this another thing that makes it a Christmas movie, the plot, and the larger than life characters are reminiscent of Tchaikovsky Christmas ballet The Nutcracker. 

Batman Returns (1992): You would be forgiven for thinking Tim Burton’s Christmas masterpiece is Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), (directed by Henry Selick, not Burton) it is a great Christmas movie, but Burton’s best Christmas movie can a year earlier with his sequel to Batman (1989).  Christmas baby Oswald Cobblepot is born deformed and rejected by his parents and throw him into the sewer.  Thirty years later, now going by the name Penguin, he is introduced to the people of Gotham by millionaire, philanthropist, and crook Max Shreck.  The Christmas credentials of the movie aren’t that simple, we get a winter wonderland setting, but little else.  Characters are set up for redemptive story arcs  that don’t happen; there is no real story of good will or forgiveness, but what we do get is a slightly cynical dark satirical look of corporate culture and commercialisation of society.  If you don’t like any of this just sit back and watch the bets Batman: Michael Keaton, and the best supporting character in a comic book movie, Michelle Pfeiffer’s Selina Kyle/Catwoman.

This is by no means a definitive list, just a few movies I intend to watch. After that, if I am still looking for something to watch, I may consider: The Apartment (1960), Lethal Weapon (1987), Carol (2015).

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I am not going to review Iron Man 3, why bother there are probably already three hundred reviews online, most of them by better reviewers than me and some of them who actually got paid for the privilege! However I couldn’t let the movie come and go without passing comment, after all, it is a significant movie in the history of Marvel and given the significance of Marvel in recent movie history that makes it a significant movie full stop!iron man 3

When it was announced that Jon Favreau would not direct the third Iron Man movie no one would expect the chosen a director to be one whose only other movie was flop nearly a decade ago. However anyone who has seen the fantastic Kiss Kiss Bang Bang will know that Shane Black was the perfect choice. Possibly the first step in the resurrection and reinvention of Robert Downey Jr.s career. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang was smart, funny and dark, the perfect movie of Downey Jr. just like Iron Man. Better known as a writer, Black is responsible for the Lethal Weapon movies, The Last Boy Scout and The Long Kiss Goodnight as well as Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. It therefore comes as no surprise that he brings a lot of dark comedy to the charter, possibly even more than in the first two movies. This really works taking the movie to a different level, making it equally as good as, if not better than the first movie and certainly righting the wrongs of the second movie. It is also filled with other Black trade marks: kidnapping as a plot device, black comedy, set at Christmastime. But these are little more than window dressing and comfort blankets for the director. The real flair is the self awareness he brings to a character trying to rebuild himself.kiss kiss bang bang

I started writing something a few years ago (I don’t think I ever finished it) about how the characters in films (if they were real people in the real world) would go back to their daily lives after a significant event. For example, John McClane may be good at taking down a group of terrorists, but what’s he like as a detective doing a day to day job? This was touched upon in the third Die Hard movie but never explored. I didn’t expect to see it explored in a superhero movie through the eyes of the hero character, a brave and risky plot with a character that is seminal to the future of The Avengers franchise as well as the hugely profitable Iron Man movies. This is achieved through Stark’s inability to deal with the aftermath of the events of The Avengers. This along with a plot device that I won’t spoil, results in Stark spending a lot of time out of the Iron Man suit, this is a good thing and a brave choice. The film is at its best at these times. Without straying into reviews or risking plot spoilers, the villains are perfectly conceived and portrayed, there are also seamlessly intertwined with the stark/Iron Man plot. This is a movie written as a movie, a complete and integrated story and not one where a committee has listed all the elements and plot points that have to be shoehorned in.

Thor The Dark World

Back to the significance of the movie. The first Iron Man existed as a sci-fi movie set on the edge of reality, this places the character closer to The Dark Knight than Thor (leading to the question how will Batman fit into DC’s hero collective, The Justice League?), whose introduction, along with the rest of the Avengers marked a movement more towards total fantasy. Where the Avengers dropped the characters, if not the audience into this new world without warning, Iron Man 3, drags us back, takes a look at what happened then lets us move on. This is an important step for the franchise to take to give it a future, it creates a neat bridge between the world of the first Iron Man and the future of the franchise. And that is the important thing. A film has to exist in a believable world that obeys its own rules or it risks alienating or distracting its audience by taking them out of the story.

captain america and  black widow

So what next? The Avengers 2 is set for release in two years time and little is know about it yet. Before that Thor: The Dark World is in the can and will be in cinema’s towards the end of this year, early synopsis’ suggest a plot surrounding protecting Jane Foster from “the denizens of the dark world of Svartalfheim”. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is out next spring and is set to feature a prominent role for Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow. There is no sign of a further Hulk movie. This makes me wonder, where will the Avengers villain come from? Loki from the first Avengers movie had been introduced in the first Thor movie. Will the primary villain of the next movie be introduced in a similar way, in either Captain America: The Winter Soldier or Thor: The Dark World? I would suggest Captain America the more likely of the two simply for balance, and the balance of power in the collective. But then you have the curveball, Guardians of the Galaxy is set to go into production shortly and scheduled for release next year. It is being made by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures (owners of Marvel) and not a co production, will it exist in the same universe or cross over with The Avengers? In comic books the Guardians of the Galaxy originally existed in an alternate universe within the Marvel Comics continuity but now exists in the mainstream Marvel Universe with Tony Stark/Iron Man as a member. Only time will tell, but based on what I have seen so far I am looking forward to finding out.

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