Tag Archives: Reviews

Review for “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas”

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

There’s something particularly peculiar about the adaptation of this particular novel. A children’s book with very adult themes, the story is told from the perspective of the narrator, an 8 year old boy who moves to Auschwitz with his family including his Nazi superior officer father, but without understanding the reasons behind the move, nor exactly what it is that his father does there. The story is revealed to the reader at the same pace as the lead character, and therein lies the problem. Not only has The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas been translated into 34 languages around the world, and remained in the Irish Bestseller’s List for over a year, the film has to take a different slant towards the story. Telling a story from a perspective is one thing, but showing it is something else entirely.

The film does take a fair amount of time to get going, especially considering its rather meagre running time of 94 minutes, but once it arrives at its destination, the sense of foreboding ratchets up constantly. As Bruno, the inquisitive boy always looking for adventune, Asa Butterfield delivers a performance that can be placed among the ranks of the Fanning’s and the Joel Osmand’s of the world; kids with scarily too much talent for their age. But even surpassing him is Jack Scanlon as Schmuel, aka The Boy, who’s expressions rarely fail to be set to either confused depression and rampant fear. The image of Bruno, son of the Soldier in charge of one of the Auschwitz concentration camps, trying to play a game with Schmuel, who doesn’t understand why he’s being treated so badly beyond knowing that its because he’s Jewish, across a barb-wired electrified fence is striking, and just one of the many images that will remain in your memory long after the film is over.

Outside of the children, the adults all step their game up. David Thewlis plays the German soldier/father with suiting subtlety, being impossibly creepy as a loving father all the while knowing exactly what his happening in his back garden. Vera Farmiga outdoes herself as the mother of the family, trying to keep a loving household together in the midst of such a violent atmosphere. And Rupert Friend is absolutely terrifying as a rage-fuelled soldier with a possible murky past of his own.

Director Mark Herman knows how to play down a situation and let the story speak for itself, and has proven himself fully capable of such in the past with small hits like Little Voice and Brassed Off, but here he seems overtly aware of the story’s power and where it is all inevitably heading, and underplays the entire thing to such a degree that for the most part it seems like nothing is ever going to happen. But lurking beneath all the scenes of emotional ambiguity and personality revolutions, there is a constant sense of dread, and while we may not know for sure, but we all know that this can not end well. The climax still retains the same power that the book had, perhaps even more so thanks to a fantastic score by James Horner.

But in the end, the movie will leave with the feeling that while very competently made and well acted, it was a 5 minute climax that merely required a 90 minute build up. Everything that had gone before was secondary to how it was going to end. In this case, where we got was the most important part, not how we got there.

Seven Out Of Ten

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New Contender For Worst Film Of 2008!

Washington Post: “Mike Myers is anti-comedy . . . that is, if one presumes comedy ought to be smart, new, surprising or, yes, funny.”

NYTimes: “A whole new vocabulary seems to be required. To say that the movie is not funny is merely to affirm the obvious. The word “unfunny” surely applies to Mr. Myers’s obnoxious attempts to find mirth in physical and cultural differences but does not quite capture the strenuous unpleasantness of his performance. No, “The Love Guru” is downright antifunny, an experience that makes you wonder if you will ever laugh again.”

Rotten Tomatoes: 16%

Chicago Sun-Times: “Myers has made some funny movies, but this film could have been written on toilet walls by callow adolescents. Every reference to a human sex organ or process of defecation is not automatically funny simply because it is naughty, but Myers seems to labor under that delusion.”

MSNBC: “A movie endlessly amused with its own stupidity — to the point where Myers actually laughs at his own jokes, and shots of other characters breaking character to giggle are left in, as though this were a “Carol Burnett Show” sketch — “The Love Guru” is a soul-draining waste of 90-plus minutes.”

Wow….. Seriously, WOW! We knew it wasn’t going to be doing the Oscar rounds, but its kinda surprising that its THIS bad. Mike Myers style of comedy isn’t for everyone, but he’s never had problems finding fans before. And this is the first film that he had a hand in that wasn’t a smack-in-the-face hit, having already penned the Wayne’s World and Austin Powers franchises. But we can probably expect more negativity heading his way, especially since he just announced that he is writting and starring in the remake of classic 40’s flick The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty.

Review for ‘Wanted’

Wanted poster

We were on the fence. The trailers were OTT, but that can be good sometimes, right? Surprise summer hit? Guilty pleasure? Balls out, unapologetic action? A ripped McAvoy against ever-sexy Jolie?

Oh well.

After some initial roof-top assassination hi-jinks, the opening act, establishing Wesley (James McAvoy) and his drone-like existence, drags on a bit, seemingly trying to incorporate Office Space into the mix. When the action does pick up, there are elements which are so frenetic and blurred that any real sense of what’s going on is somewhat lost.

Wesley is eventually introduced to The Fraternity (the opening title cards having informed us that they were formed by a group of “weavers” 1000 years ago. Yes, weavers), led by Sloan (Morgan Freeman), with the likes of Fox (Angelina Jolie) and the Gunsmith (Common) in tow. This segment is possibly the film’s best part, following Wesley’s journey from breaking free of his cubicle-bound job to his initiation by the Fraternity members. He learns how to handle knives, take a punch, curve a bullet and ride a train. The violence here is real and proper, fist-to-face stuff, with Wesley having to lose his whiny, anxious tendencies and, in his own words, “grow a pair”.

Once Wesley is ready for some proper action and the Fraternity’s work is revealed to him, there is a dubious morality at play. Possibly to be expected from a group of assassins, but, some brief soul-searching aside, the issue isn’t really addressed. It’s telling that Fox’s line from the trailer – “kill one, save a thousand” – has been edited from the film’s actual line – “kill one, maybe save a thousand”. Maybe? Lovely(!) Even the neo-Cons in the American adminstration try to sell us better odds than those when condoning torture. A comic book adaptation is probably not the best place to look for subtley and logic, but if the Fraternity’s cause is questionable, then it becomes even harder to buy into the over-the-top set pieces which follow.

As for the acting, McEvoy, as ever, is good. His character isn’t initially all that sympathetic, but he grows into the role nicely. The shot (also in the trailer) of him all topless and buffed is a nice little payoff for the ladies! Although slow-motion doesn’t flatter his features. Jolie is fine, she’s just not given a whole lot to say, her remit just requiring her to carry out increasingly fantastical stunts. Freeman is just phoning it in really, but isn’t helped by having the unoriginal “join us” speeches and having to explain the truly crazy shit (the loom?!). And giving his character few curse words doesn’t add edge, it merely jars.

Bekmambetov’s direction is fine for some of the slower paced scenes, but there is too much jump-cut editing and slow-mo overall. Heightened reality is one thing, ridiculous is another. Wanted is a film which takes itself too seriously and doesn’t really have the goods to back it up. You can applaud an 18 cert and out-and-out action/violence all you like, but there’s no hiding from the total and utter silliness of much of this film. I’ve never read the comic book nor am I that familar with it, but the film should stand on its own merits regardless of source material.

Terrence Stamp (playing enigmatic bullet-maker Pekwarsky) has already spoken to MTV of his character’s potential for a sequel. This may be wishful thinking/speculation on his part, as the story doesn’t naturally lead to an obvious sequel. Nor has it provided enough substance in this outing to justify one.

four out of ten

May’s Top 5 Movies

He Says:

One: Iron Man

Despite its kinda bland directing and far-from-original plot arc, this is still the best of the summer blockbusters so far. And only goes to further prove Correct Opinion’s theory that Robert Downey Jnr can make anything watchable. Also, it was nice that Paltrow and Sex Appeal sorted out their differences and decided to work together again.

Two: Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull

As kinda disappointing as it was, this was still alot of fun. But, now we’re serious now, if The Beef gets to take over the Jones series, there is going to be hell to pay. Absolute hell.

Three: Sex And The City

I could lie and say that May was a really bad month for films (which it kinda was) and thats why this is even in my top 3, let alone top 5, let alone that I went to see it. But I’m not gonna lie; it was good. It was funny. Deal with it.

Four: Speed Racer

I can already think of several people who will be spitting venom when they see I’ve put this on here, and thats cool. This film is most definitely not for everyone. If we went back decades to when The Wizard Of Oz came out and went to see that film then, I’d imagine those same people would have hated that back then too. Not that I’m saying that this is on par with The Wizard Of Oz, but it shares the whole “you either go with it, or you don’t” mentality to it.

Five: Outpost

This is better proof of how bad a month it was, since this film is far from fun. But still, it was kinda fun, in a diverting, laugh at and then laugh with mess of a movie. And Rhona Mitra is haaaaaawt!

Special Mention: Its been a bad month for comedies; Harold And Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay, Made Of Honour, What Happens In Vegas…., Smart People, all horendous.

Review for “Sex And The City”

He Says:

While it was on TV, Sex And The City was up there will the likes of Will & Grace that any straight forward male wouldn’t be caught dead watching. But, just like in that episode of Seinfeld, if you hooked any of those straight forward male’s up to a lie detector machine, the truth would come out, and they would have to admit that, yes, they did watch it, and yes, they did enjoy it. And not just because of the boobs.

The show was laced with wit, humour and real emotions, with four women at the core finally shown as real women are (or at least as close as a form of light entertainment can allow) and the bad guy in every relationship’s breakdown isn’t always the guy. And so, several years after the show’s end, and once all the pay packets have been finally agreed upon, the movie is upon us. And so, the real question; how can a straight forward guy enjoy this film without relinquishing his masculinity? As it turns out, its not that hard.

As of late, comedy’s have been a strictly male affair. All the best comedies from perhaps the last ten years have been boys own stuff, from American Pie to Superbad, Anchorman to Wedding Crashers, Knocked Up to Forgetting Sarah Marshall, girls have been pushed to the supporting characters on the big comedic screen. And while Sex And The City isn’t a straight forward comedy, it is one of the funnier films of 2008 so far. That being said, it suffers from The Simpsons Movie-syndrome; its good and all, but its basically a couple of episodes strung back to back, and after how great the episodes used to be, it doesn’t add up to the sum of its parts.

Quick plot outline; Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) is happily living with Mr. Big (Chris Noth) and they are about to tie the note. Samantha (Kim Cattrall) is happily living out in L.A. with her big time model/actor boyfriend Smith (Jason Lewis). Charlotte (Kristin Davis) and her husband Harry (Evan Handler) are happily married with their adopted asian daughter, and finally Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) is still happily married to Steve (David Eigenberg) with their young son. But, as things often do, when everything is going happily ever after, plot twists will make sure it doesn’t stay that way for long. Without giving anything away, bad things happen to nearly everyone in the film which make them reassess their situations in life, lessons are learned, cocktails are drunk, and men are had sex with.

The actresses each own their roles by now, and there’s not a dud turn between them, with a special shout out to Kristin Davis who can make anyone laugh with one raised eyebrow, and almost runs away with this film with her highly tuned comedic timing placed into some well written comedic situations. There is very little different from this film than there is to the show, except its exceptional length, at almost 2 and a half hours. And that for some reason, Samantha, the trademark sex addict of the show, doesn’t get a proper sex scene, with all the more explicit scenes going to Miranda instead.

The major drawbacks to the film is its episodic nature, which shouldn’t be such a bad thing, given the high quality of the episodes, but it does cause a ebb and flow in interest in the film itself. There are also about fifteen too many clothes changing montages, and for the most part, the men in the show are the villians of the piece, with barely a non-despicable male between them. And for all the talk of new entry Jennifer Hudson making a splash, hot off her star making turn in DreamGirls, she barely gets a look in here, and seems to be primarily used to tell the audience that it is now possible to rent out expensive handbags.

So, in summation, its funny and sad and well acted and is nice to look at. But its got the depth of a paddling pool and at the end of the movie you’ll be buggered to notice if there’s been any real progression in the story from when it started 150 minutes earlier. And most men will “hate” it.

Six Out Of Ten

Indy 4 is Good/Not So Good/Bad

The Good (from IMDB):

“I can strongly say that Spielberg has gone out on top and brought back one the most beloved cinematic heroes around for one more time…… Here he returns to the basic fundamentals of the lost arts of practicality and just plain good old fashioned genuine storytelling.”

The Bad (from /Film):

“During the whole of the movie, there was not a single moment that I thought our hero Mr. Jones was in any sort of peril or even significant inconvenience. In most cases, you were so many steps ahead of the characters that it was really just an arduous wait for them to get through it.”

And The Ugly (from AICN):

“For those of you that feel that the new Star Wars movies robbed your childhood, expect some molestations from Uncles’ George and Steven…… In short, this is the Indiana Jones movie that you were dreading.”

Well, uh oh! That doesn’t bode well. At the very least, we know that the movie will make at least a billion dollars in the worldwide box office, and thats more important than it being any good, right? I mean, why else spend more money and time on the marketing aspect of a film than the making of a film itself, right?

Just kidding. But it probably won’t be as bad as some of the leaked reviews online would have us believe. Spielberg seems incapable of making a bad movie, just varying levels of disappointing ones, and we’d better brace ourselves for this one. Correct Opinion won’t have its own official review until the 19th of May, so you’d all better wait until then for a more detailed, perspectivized (yes, its a word. yes, we just made it up) review on this years most anticipated movie.

review for ‘cloverfield.’

here are two kinds of people in the world. the first are the one’s who have seen the first teaser trailer for the then unnamed movie in front of ‘transformers’ last july, and have been totally hooked up in the whole viral marketing campaign ever since. the rest are the people who will walk into this movie with absolutely no idea what its about, and are probably still wondering what kind of advertiser makes a poster without putting the name of the film on it. and as fun as the following the ins and outs of the marketing campaign for ‘cloverfield’ has been, it’ll be almost impossible not to feel a pang of jealousy towards those who are coming into this movie blind. for that is the best way to view this movie; knowing next to nothing. so its probably better that you don’t read the rest of this review…… still here? okay then. produced jj abrahms (‘lost’, ‘m:i-3’) had a killer idea for re-booting the monster movie genre, and gave to his friend buddys drew goddard (‘lost’, ‘buffy’) to write and matt reeves (who’s last film was 1996’s ‘the pallbearer’!) and direct. kicking off from the going away party seen in the first teaser trailer, the audience are kept in the first-person viewpoint of a handheld camera, a la the blair witch project. ten minutes in, manhattan is vibrating, and then exploding, and the news reports are claiming earthquakes, while the party-goers are blaiming terrorists. then the army comes in, starting a mass-exodus of the new york island….. of course, everyone knows its a monster. and the initial attacks of the monster are quite terrifying, based entirely in the randomness of the creature and the panic of the people on ground level. the plot is hardly worth mentioning (its basically just a set up to keep the main actors in the same location as the monster), and while the actors all do their best with their respective roles, its all secondary. all that really matters is the director’s surprising mastery of the action scenes. from a collapsing bridge, to the army’s first retaliation, to the white knuckled run through a blacked-out subway tunnel, every scene is laced with fear. a cliched statement it may be, but this truly is godzilla for the 9/11 generation. never throwing a knowing glance at sub-realism, there is no suspension of disbelief here, as everyone involved shoots from the hip, almost as if they’re making the united 93 version of a monster movie. and its this unsettling realism that marks this film out as one of the more intelligently entertaining movies of the decade so far.

eight point five out of ten