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Posts Tagged ‘Oldboy’

A little late with my movie of the month following a busy weekend, here are the contenders, just five new movies and two classic reissues:

Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw – The Fast and the Furious long since stopped being The Fast and the Furious and became Mission Impossible, if you accept that you will probably enjoy their latest outing.  It isn’t exactly good, but it is really great fun.  Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham are likeable stars, Idris Elba is having great fun as the villain, and Vanessa Kirby is sensational.Fast & Furious Presents Hobbs & Shaw

Oldboy – Back in cinemas for one day only, one of my all time favourite movies is as great as ever.Oldboy

Blinded by the Light – Based on the memoir of Bruce Springsteen supperfan Sarfraz Manzoor: Greetings from Bury Park: Race, Religion and Rock N’ Roll.  The tone of the film doesn’t always work, not knowing if it wants to commit to being a musical fantasy or not.  The young leads are great and its use of music of The Boss is great.Blinded by the Light

Pain & Glory – Many of Pedro Almodóvar’s movies have elements of autobiography, particularly about his relationship with his mother.  This may be his most autobiography and is certainly about his mother. Penélope Cruz is as great as ever in a small part.  Always underrated as an actor, Antonio Banderas gives the performance of a lifetime; it’s a shame Oscar is blinkered to subtitles! The film features something in the final act that I would call a revelation rather than a twist, it is truly sublime. Pain & Glory

Apocalypse Now, Final Cut – I first saw Apocalypse Now in my early teens, and loved it.  A few years later I saw a scratchy old 35mm print on the big screen, it was even better. The Final Cut offers a longer version of the film (but around 20 minutes shorter than the Redux version), with a runtime around three hours.  More significant than the cut, is the print, a 4K transfer from the original negative; I saw it on IMAX, it looked amazing! Apocalypse Now

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood – Quentin Tarantino’s return to form.  Rather than try and distil my thoughts into a paragraph, take a look at THISonce upon a time in hollywood dicaprio and pitt

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark – Teen horror, that lacks any real horror or scares.  It is generally fun with likeable characters, and a couple of good performances.  The film looks fantastic with excellent production design and photography. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

As always I excluded re-releases for movie of the month, this leaves two contenders.  In most moths Pain & Glory would be a clear winner, but looses out to my Movie of the Month:movie of the month once upon a time in hollywood (1)

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Dom 5There is a little academy you may have heard of who plan to announce the nominees for their film awards this week, I think they call them the Oscars.  Before that we have the Seventh Annual Groovers Movie Awards.  As ever all categories, eligibility and winners are decided by me:

Best Movie: Blade Runner 2049: Blade Runner (1982) didn’t need a sequel,  not only is this movie a worthy sequel, but it continues the story that enhances rather than diminishes the original, continuing, even expanding on the themes.  As you would expect from director Denis Villeneuve and cinematographer Roger Deakins, it looks amazing.  A love it or hate it type film; like the original, it may have underperformed at the box-office, it will find its audience in time. Blade+Runner+2049-1

Best Director: Chan-wook Park for The Handmaiden.  A labyrinthine tale that never loses its focus and always holds the audience’s attention.  Based on Sarah Waters novel Fingersmith, this adaptation sees the setting change from Victorian England to Japanese occupied Korea, making the most of the setting, the film looks amazing.  Possibly Park’s best movie since Oldboy. Chan-wook Park for The Handmaiden

Best Actor/Actress: Casey Affleck won the academy award for Manchester by the Sea, a result I certainly wouldn’t argue with.  Jessica Chastain gave to fantastic performances in Miss Sloane and Molly’s Game. Casey Affleck and Jessica Chastain

Best Dialogue: Aaron Sorkin (writer/director) Molly’s Game.  In his directorial debut, Sorkin is helped by his actors: Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner who makes his machine gun dialogue sound amazing. 'Molly's Game' New York Premiere

Best Editing: Jonathan Amos and Paul Machliss (editors) Edgar Wright (writer/director), Julian Slater (sound designer), for Baby Driver.  I have always been an advocate of the idea that the best editing is invisible.  Baby Drive breaks this rule with very conspicuous editing; there are long takes, single take tracking shots, quick cuts all done in time with the music.  It could have been a disaster, it’s actually a masterpiece.   Baby Driver

Best Comedy: The Death of StalinArmando Iannucci made an interesting choice with his cast using a mix of British and American accents in this story of the power struggle in the days that followed the titular death of Stalin. Farce and satire in equal parts, with a really dark undercurrent, the risk pays off, it is brilliant and hilarious.The-Death-of-Staling-Banner-Poster

Special Award: Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson.  This special award is for making interesting movie choices.  A decade ago Stewart and Pattinson became two of the biggest stars in the world thanks to the Twilight movies.  Choosing to work with directors including: James Gray, David Cronenberg, Olivier Assayas, Kelly Reichardt and Woody Allen.  They have continued making interesting and extremely good movie:  Stewart worked with Olivier Assayas for a second time with Personal Shopper, while Pattinson made Good Time with The Safdie Brothers. Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson

Fandango Award: William Oldroyd, Alice Birch, and Florence Pugh – Fandango was writer/director Kevin Reynolds debut (and best) feature, and the first notable movie for star Kevin Costner. It gives its name to this award for the best breakout film-makers of the year:  William Oldroyd, Alice Birch, and Florence Pugh are director, writer and star of Lady Macbeth respectively.   The captivating movie is the first feature for Oldroyd and Birch, and the first starring role for  Pugh.William Oldroyd Alice Birch Florence Pugh

Dom 5

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Happy new year. As always, the first post of the month is the review of the previous month and the Movie of the Month award that goes with it:

Saving Mr. Banks: The true story of Walt Disney’s battle to make Mary Poppins despite the objections of author P.L. Travers. Most notable for fantastic acting and less sentimental than you would expect.

SAVING MR BANKS

Carrie: Remake of Brian De Palma’s classic horror movie based on Stephen King’s novel. Julianne Moore does a good job, Chloë Grace Moretz gives a good performance but is miscast. There is nothing really wrong with it but it’s a shadow of the original movie.Carrie

Kill Your Darlings: Daniel Radcliffe plays Allen Ginsberg in this story of the origins of the “Beat Generation”. Well made and well acted but probably one for fans of beat literature and not casual moviegoers.Kill Your Darlings

Nebraska: Alexander Payne’s family drama disguised as a road movie. Bruce Dern is perfectly cast and gives the performance of a lifetime. Look out for the Oscar nomination.NEBRASKA

Homefront: Jason Statham stars in this revenge action thriller written by his Expendables co star Sylvester Stallone (screenplay). Not a great film but Statham does what Statham does making for a fun film. James Franco, Kate Bosworth and Winona Ryder appear to be having fun. Based on a novel by Chuck Logan, there are another four films in the series, sequel?Homefront

Getaway: Ethan Hawke plays a former race-car driver tasked with driving around an unnamed eastern European city causing traffic chaos in order to save his kidnapped wife. Selena Gomez and a customised Shelby Mustang provide support. It isn’t much good but like Homefront its good fun.GETAWAY

Oldboy: If you saw this movie in isolation you would probably think it was an original and interesting thriller. However Spike Lee’s movie just doesn’t work when compared to Chan-wook Park’s original masterpiece. Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen and Michael Imperioli are all good but Sharlto Copley and Samuel L. Jackson look like they have stepped in from a different movie.Oldboy

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: after being underwhelmed by The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, I was pleasantly surprised by this second outing. Jumping straight into the action and not letting up for most of 161minute runtime.THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG

47 Ronin: A surprisingly good retelling of the legendry tale of the 47 Ronin (as depicted in the 1941 movie of the same name) with the addition of Keanu Reeves. Despite the high fantasy trailer, this is actually a traditional samurai movie with a couple of fantasy elements added for modern taste. It is surprisingly good.47 Ronin

All Is Lost: did you see last months movie of the month Gravity? Imagine the same story set at see instead of in space and you have All Is Lost. It isn’t as good as Gravity, but Robert Redford’s performance is sensational.all is lost

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty: Star/Director Ben Stiller and Writer: Steve Conrad retell James Thurber’s short story in the modern age. Stiller is both unusually restrained and funny. A surprisingly good movie that I enjoyed far more than I thought I would.the secret life of walter mitty

I could have changed my movie over the month with virtually every film I have seen this month. Although not terrible, Carrie and Oldboy were a waste of time and you would be better off watching the original movies. Homefront and Gateway were the most fun and Nebraska was the best film. But those who have read previous examples of this post will know being the best isn’t always enough to be Movie of the Month. The movie of the month is the uplifting and surprisingly good (and funny) The Secret Life of Walter Mitty:The Secret Life of Walter Mitty Poster

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the secret life of walter mittygravityNEBRASKAHBT2-fs-140204.DNGall is lostID_D47_17954.dngSAVING MR BANKSHow I Live NowOldboyEnders Game

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If you take a look at the top ten grossing movies of the year so far there are seven sequels (Iron Man 3, Despicable Me 2, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Monsters University, Fast & Furious 6, Oz The Great and Powerful, Star Trek Into Darkness) and a reboot (Man of Steel). World War Z (based on a book) will probably be knocked out of the top ten by The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smug leaving Gravity as the only original property to bother the top ten. Do audiences only go in large numbers to see sequels of franchise movies or do studios only commit large amounts of money to existing properties that a ready made audience? The $825million taken by Christopher Nolan’s Inception proved that a totally original movie could make money, however it would probably never been given the green light if not for the $1billion The Dark Knight took. As cinema prices creep up and audiences become ever more selective, studios become more cautious making it a self fulfilling prophesy relegating most original ideas to smaller films. With this in mind, here are my top five original movies of the year. Original movies, not a sequel, prequel, remake, re-imagining or reboot. Also, not based on a book, comic book or true story.

Stoker: In the year that the remake of Chan-wook Park’s masterpiece Oldboy limped onto cinema screens Stoker proved to be Park’s best film since Oldboy. The original screenplay was written by actor Wentworth Miller. A weird, beautiful and sublime blend of melodrama, psychological thriller and coming of age drama. Budget: $12,000,000 (estimated)stoker

Gravity: Alfonso Cuarón’s space adventure about a pair of astronauts trying to find a way home after a collision in space is a truly stunning film and the first film that should be seen in 3D preferably IMAX 3D. Budget: $100,000,000 (estimated)GRAVITY

Prisoners: Great acting from ensemble cast and stunning photography from Roger Deakins combine with taught direction French-Canadian director Denis Villeneuve making his English-language debut elevate this from a genre movie with an overt subtext to a really good film. Budget: $46,000,000 (estimated)Prisoners

The East: An original story of the murky world of private intelligence firms and an environmental anarchist collective. Written by director Zal Batmanglij and star Brit Marling. It is notable for great acting and its dark melancholic tone. Budget: $6,500,000 (estimated)The East

Pacific Rim: To call Guillermo del Toro’s monsters vs. robot movie original would be a stretch as it appears to be based on every other monster movie/comic book to have gone before it, however it isn’t directly based on any other previously produced work. It makes the list ads it is just great fun, pure and simple. Budget: $190,000,000 (estimated)PACIFIC RIM

Mud – the continuing renascence of Matthew McConaughey.
The Counsellor – Cormac McCarthy’s first screenplay is far better than has been reported
About Time – Charming and funny time travel comedy from Richard Curtis.
Blue Jasmine – Cate Blanchett, deserves an Oscar.
Elysium – Neill Blomkamp’s Sci-Fi action drama lacks subtlety but is still good

Check back at the end of the month to see how many of these movies make my top ten of the year.

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When visiting my parents or talking to then on the telephone they often ask what movies I have seen, if I respond with the name of a film they haven’t heard of my mom, knowing I watch a lot of foreign language movies will ask “is it foreign”. On more than one occasion I have given the somewhat flippant and slightly rude response “yes, American”. It is funny that a movie made five thousand miles away in Hollywood is familiar and not foreign because it is in something similar to “The Queens English”, and yet something made across the channel in France, still on the same continent as England, is in some way foreign and exotic. Maybe we are two nations joined by a common language and not divided by it as George Bernard Shaw quipped. Whatever the reason, as we step below the surface of these idea we find an interesting thing, filmmaking does exist beyond the bright lights of Hollywood, both in Europe and in the rest of America.Mean Streets The Terminator Blood Simple Memento

When I talk about American independent cinema it isn’t just the obvious and seminal movies like Easy Rider (1969) (Dennis Hopper) or Two-Lane Blacktop (1971) (Monte Hellman) or the small no budget movies that you have never heard of. Think of some of the biggest name directors working today: Martin Scorsese, James Cameron, Ethan and Joel Coen, Christopher Nolan, then look at their independent films Mean Streets (1973), The Terminator (1984), Blood Simple (1984), Memento (2000) . Sam Raimi may be making money movies for Disney now but it all started with Evil Dead (1981) and Evil Dead II (1987). Would George Lucas have made Star Wars (1977), if he hadn’t already made THX-1138 (1971) or the hugely profitable American Graffiti (1973)? Then there are directors like David Lynch, Quentin Tarantino and Darren Aronofsky that are just more comfortable outside or on the edge of the system. There was a time before he started believing his own publicity that Kevin Smith was the darling of the indie scene thanks to the cult status of Clerks (1994), but before that came Richard Linklater’s Slacker (1991). A day in the life of various social outcasts and misfits held together by loose strands and an even looser narrative, the style and the realistic dialogue became a blueprint for a generation. Linklater wasn’t seduced by Hollywood instead he remained in Austin and two years later he came up with Dazed And Confused (1993).Dazed And Confused Clerks THX 1138 Evil Dead

The same can be said for foreign language cinema, it isn’t all about weird esoteric art house movies, there are many accessible movies not in the English language. Not that the weird esoteric art house movies are a bad thing, they are just not the best place to start. The test as to if a movie is accessible and worth seeing is simple, would you watch it if it were in English? If the answer is yes, it is worth a look. There were two movies that seemed to cross the language barrier that came out within a year of each other just over a decade ago: Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) and Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Amélie (2001). Many of the people who watched and enjoyed them wouldn’t normally have seen a movie in another language. There have been some interesting examples too; the French thriller Tell No One (2006) is very American in its style, no great surprise, it is based on an American novel (of the same name) by Harlan Coben. A Hollywood remake was supposed to have been made but it doesn’t appear to have materialised yet. The same can’t be said for Anything for Her (2008), it took just two years for the American remake The Next Three Days to hit cinema screens. Both Tell No One and Anything for Her benefited from the presence of actresses familiar to English speaking audiences Kristin Scott Thomas and Diane Kruger respectively. On the subject of remakes the terrible Queen Latifah movie Taxi (2004) is a remake of a great French movie also called Taxi (1998). It has spawned three sequels (the first of which is also really good) the movies are notable for lots of things including significant early roles for Marion Cotillard.Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Amélie Tell No One Anything for Her

When I first saw Oldboy (2003) it immediately became one of my all time favourite films. I didn‘t expect it to have gained the following that it has, I also didn‘t think Hollywood would dare to touch it, but they have the American remake of Park Chan-wook’s vengeance movievis in production and is set for release later this year, it is directed by Spike Lee. The other movie that plays well to British and American audiences is Run Lola Run (1998). It put its German star Franka Potente and director and Tom Tykwer onto the international stage both have worked in American and their native Germany many times since. But I can trace my first experience of a foreign language movie back a little further than that. In 1990 I read a review of a film I really wanted to see Nikita (1990). At fourteen years old I didn’t have a chance of getting into see it at the cinema to see the eighteen certificate movie, but a couple of months later (when I was fifteen) renting the video was surprisingly easy. Its impact in America was such that it spawned a Hollywood remake and two television series. Its director Luc Besson’s next two films Léon (1994) and The Fifth Element (1997) were in English.Oldboy Run Lola Run Nikita Taxi

I have done little more than scratch the surface of independent and foreign langue movies, but I hope I have inspired at least one person to look below the tent-pole blockbuster and popcorn movie and towards the smaller films that don’t get all the publicity. Many of them will get limited runs in big multiplexes but others are harder to find, but if this means you are also helping to support your local independent cinema’s it’s an added bonus. As you grow to love them as much as I do you will look deeper and further back at older movies and a whole world of cinema will open up to you. I know that I am to a certain extent preaching to the converted as many readers are film fans and bloggers themselves and are far more cineliterate than me.

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Another strong decade, 2004 and 2009 only just missed out.

2000: Almost Famous, Battle Royale, The Claim, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Memento

2001: Mulholland Drive, Donnie Darko: Amelie, Training Day, Y Tu Mamá También

2002: City of God, 28 Days Later, Talk to Her, Hero, Punch-Drunk Love

2003: Oldboy, Kill Bill vol 1, Lost in Translation, X2, Azumi

2005: Sin City, Batman Begins, The Descent, Good Night and Good Luck, Serenity

2006: Pan’s Labyrinth, Casino Royale, Children of Men, Miami Vice (I know I’m of about three people who like it), The Departed

2007: Juno, No Country For Old Men, The Orphanage, Death Proof, Into the Wild

2008: The Dark Knight, The Hurt Locker, In Bruges, Let the Right One In, Gran Torino

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