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Posts Tagged ‘Ocean’s Eleven’

now you see me movie posterOn Monday evening I attended a preview screening of a mystery movie at the Birmingham branch of a large cinema chain. This wasn’t an opening this weekend cynical attempt to distort the box-office, but a genuine preview of a movie that doesn’t open until for another two and half weeks. I have done this in the past when I have been invited to a preview screening and have seen some great films that I knew little or nothing about including Intacto (2001), The Pianist (2002) and The History Boys (2006). I have also seen some terrible movies that I wish I hadn’t seen including Party Monster (2003) and Dreamgirls (2006). This was different, it wasn’t an invitation only event, it was a well publicised packed house. While waiting for the for the movie to start I got talking to the person next to me, it turned out he actually worked for the cinema and even he didn’t know what the movie would be. He found out about five minutes before the res of us but was sworn to secrecy. When the movie was revelled I did wonder if the man wearing the “Games Games Games” T shirt and the man in the Facebook T’shirt already knew or if it was a coincidence. I took my usual place in the centre of the first row of stadium seating and noticed the front rows were filling quicker than the back rows as you would expect for a big movie. A true sign of a movie geek/loving audience! The other noticeable thing about audience was how well the followed “the code of conduct” there was no talking during the movie and little, noise/smell of food distracting from the enjoyment of the movie. I did wonder when booking by tickets how many people would turn up to see an unknown movie at 8:15 on a Monday evening, especially given the fact the weather outside had begun to resemble the summer that we are allegedly nearing the middle of. The aforementioned near full house, in one of the cinemas largest screens answered my question. So the experience was a good one but was the movie?

In a word yes. Don’t get me wrong, Now You See Me  isn’t a masterpiece that will live long in the memory, but it was a fun crowd-pleasing movie that was perfect for the occasion:

Four stage magicians/illusionists calling themselves The Four Horsemen appear to rob a bank in Paris without leaving the stage during a live performance is Las Vegas. An FBI agent and an Interpol detective team up to track them down with the help of a man who has made his name and fortune revealing and debunking magic tricks.Now You See Me The Four Horsemen

It comes as no surprise that director Louis Leterrier made his name with action movies (The Transporter 1&2, Unleashed, The Incredible Hulk and Clash of the Titans). The movie only has a couple of ig set piece action scenes, but they are particularly well handled. The movie also plays out at a breakneck pace with its near tow hour running time flying buy. This has two effects, it keeps the audience interested but it also stops them thinking too much about the holes and implausibilities in the plot.now you see me Mark Ruffalo Mélanie Laurent

The cast is great with Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson having a lot of fun with the characters as does Mark Ruffalo. Mélanie Laurent is wasted but does what she can with in part that promises much but actually doesn’t do much. It’s a similar story with Isla Fisher and Dave (brother of James) Franco who only really have one good scene each away fro the stage shows. The supporting cast includes Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine who are perfect for there small but significant roles. The greatest issue with the movie is the fantastic cast; it helps highlight who thin and underwritten the characters are. The charisma and likeability of the actors prevents it form being a disaster. In lesser hands the audience would not buy into the movie of feel anything for the characters, however better characters could have resulted in a more memorable movie like The Sting (1973) or Oceans Eleven (2001 not 1960).Now You See Me Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine

As mentioned the plot is thin and implausible, but again it gets away with partly because of the cast, partly the pace but mainly because it packs so much into two hour. There are plenty of twists, turns and reveals, some you will see coming, others you probably won’t. This in itself is a clever metaphor for illusions and stage magic. The characters keep reminding us of distractions and illusions, so the overriding plot of the movie is a whodunit, that keeps reminding us that it is a whodunit.

How much you like the movie may depend of how much you saw coming, too much and it would be dull, too little and you just weren’t watching it, but ultimately it’s the performances particularly from Eisenberg and Harrelson that will win you over. I don’t give star rating any longer, if I did it would probably be a solid 3 out of 5. It isn’t the best movie I have seen this week, but it is one enjoyed and I will have no problem in recommending it to friends when it opens next month. And that can be the only reason for the preview screening. There were no questionnaires to be used for publicity purposes. The only reason I can see for the cinema previewing the movie is for word of mouth and to give something back to their most loyal customers, keeping them happy loyal.

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Mixtape Movies Image 2Inspired by the idea of cover songs, I have gone a little from my own brief of movies that fit together concentrating more on memorable remakes, but like a true mixtape they still sort of fit. I have excluded films where I haven’t seen both versions so Tony Scott Man On Fire (2004) misses out as I haven’t seen Elie Chouraqui’s 1987 Original, the same goes for The Maltese Falcon (John Huston, 1941) as I haven’t seen Roy Del Ruth’s 1931Original. I also excluded directors remaking their own movies so no Heat (Michael Mann, 1995), The Man Who Knew Too Much (Alfred Hitchcock, 1956) or The Ten Commandments(Cecil B. DeMille 1923) all miss out. What we get is six very different movies across at least five genres:Mixtape Movies - Cover Songs

Airplane! (Jim Abrams, David Zucker & Jerry Zucker, 1980) an interesting inclusion on the mixtape; the original Zero Hour (Hall Bartlett, 1957) has basically the same plot (and even some of the same dialogue) but is a straight disaster movie, the remake is comedy classic thanks to perfect deadpan delivery and some great sight-gags.

A Fistful of Dollars (Sergio Leone, 1964) the original samurai movie Yojimbo (Akira Kurosawa, 1961) is a true classic, not only is it A Fistful of Dollars its equal, but it also turned Clint Eastwood from a TV actor into a moviestar. Despite settling a plagiarism suit with Akira Kurosawa, MGM/United Artists have never actually acknowledged that Dollars is a remake of Yojimbo.

Twelve Monkeys (Terry Gilliam, 1995): Strickly speaking Terry Gilliam’s Sci-Fi classic is inspired by rather than a remake of La Jetée (La Jet?e, Chris Baker, 1962) but I will take any excuse to recommend both movies. For those who don’t know, La Jetée is made up of a series of stills accompanied by a haunting voiceover.

Ocean’s Eleven (Steven Soderbergh, 2001): Ocean’s Eleven (Lewis Milestone, 1960) is a classic 60’s Rat Pack caper movie, except there is a problem, it isn’t very good. Not only is Soderbergh’s remake a lot funnier and a lot more fun than the original but it has a cast including: George Clooney. Brad Pitt. Matt Damon, Casey Affleck, Andy Garcia and Elliott Gould.

The Thing (John Carpenter, 1982): Question: Was the 2011 movie The Thing a remake or a sequel, Answer, who cares it was rubbish! The original, The Thing From Another World (Christian Nyby, 1951) is well worth a look if you havent seen it, but the 1982 John Carpenter version is a classic.

Wild Card, the wild card is King Kong (Merian C. Cooper & Ernest B. Schoedsack, 1933). Forget the numerous sequels and the 1976 and 2005 remakes (directed by John Guillermin and Peter Jackson respectively) and go for the classic stop motion original starring Fay Wray.

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