Archive Page 2

04
Apr
09

‘A Clockwork Orange’

1971
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Starring: Malcolm McDowell, Aubrey Morris

Never Underestimate The Power Of Revenge
Kubrick’s classic adaptation of the novel by Anthony Burgess. A timeless dystopian adventure told through the eyes of ‘Alex DeLarge’ (Malcolm McDowell); fond of rape, assault, general ‘Ultra-Violence’ and Ludwig Van.
Alex is caught at the scene of a night out of ‘Ultra-Violence’; he is convicted of murder, and sentenced to 14 years in jail. After 2 years, he is subject to an experimental abhorrent therapy called ‘The Ludovico Treatment’ designed by the government – But can the government really get a firm grip on society?

It is common knowledge that this film involves heavy violence, and thus great perturbation. But this trepidation is mostly incurred due to the more implicative aspects of the story later, and how it satirically latches onto the real world through poetry, artistry and vague surrealism.
The physical violence is more so in the early portions of the film, to give an insight into the inner workings of ‘Alex’, and is done so with great imagery.
‘Alex’ is defined to be a very basic human, but basic in the sense of primal urges and instincts. His instincts are a distorted sense of primitive nature, and he seems to prey upon the weakest members of modern society, as well as a simultaneous display of immense courage and power. This, in fact, shows ‘Alex’ to be some form of coward in a way. Though, despite that, he is still an incredibly frightening character who seems to be near enough devoid of any emotion unless subject to any form of serious negativity.

The objective behind the film flips in the middle, the first half of the movie or so highlights the basic flaws of human nature; that despite the generic civilised placation of modern society, there is no way to rid a person of all archaic proclivities that have been amidst since the dawn of time. The key to counteract this being mental self control, but only due to contemporary hierarchical civility.
‘Alex’ appears to have no self control; he displays no interest in anything other than ‘Ultra-Violence’, sex, and Ludwig Van. This makes him the perfect candidate for ‘The Ludovico Treatment’.
The government view the deterioration of society, and consider ways to fix it. Looking for good within the bad, and therefore turning attention towards the penal system…Reforming criminals, for ‘the good of society’. The film makes an excellent definition of good and bad, as well as the implications of ‘The Ludovico Treatment’; “Goodness comes from within, goodness is something to be chosen; when a man cannot choose he ceases to be a man.”

‘Alex’ is an extreme form of the modern day teenager, 38 years and this is truer than ever. There is a distinct lack of parental control within the family, the youth are getting increasingly desensitised to forms of violence and sex to the point where they are not shocking or perturbing, but exhilarating and entertaining. The government are consistently launching various campaigns to put an end to all forms of criminal dilemmas, ironically often using scare tactics incorporating forceful perturbation. Not to mention discouraging foul speech via the fallacies of “Political Correctness”.
These disturbing methods are that used in the film, to fight fire with fire, by pacifying a violent man by using imagery not dissimilar from the acts he has caused. Although, an interesting point to make, is that during ‘The Ludovico Treatment’, Beethoven’s 9th was played over some of the video played to ‘Alex’ – He deemed this as more of a sin than the actual imagery itself, and makes you contemplate the actual depth of his immorality.

Later on, after ‘Alex’ has been brainwashed, he suddenly becomes a victim of his previous actions. He even resorts to crawling in the mud, in the pouring rain, and ending up at the residence of someone he tormented before prison; someone who would love vengeance, bringing about the question as to whether the rest of civilisation is actually any better than criminals, once again, bringing to light the point of self control.
Crawling in the rain; an image of sympathy, one would assume, but not at all. ‘Alex’ makes a clear point that he begins to loathe in self pity, but only self pity, and doesn’t expect it from the audience. This is just as well, for he is incredibly undeserving, as shown in the opening scenes of the film.

The opening scenes contain the most violent imagery; but it is incredibly captivating. The violence feels as if it’s choreographed like a dance, rather than a fight scene, and the songs played during such acts give a heavily ambivalent sense of enthrallment and disgust. Is it due to modern desensitisation that we are unable to break our gazes from such horrific and extreme acts of indecency?
The film overall is remarkably captivating, even in scenes of simple dialogue, and make for a totally absorbing film. The dialogue can often be incredibly poetic, and ‘Alex’s narration is pleasing to listen to due to the incredibly well mannered execution of his speech. Poetic dialogue can sometimes be a hard thing to achieve in a film, it can often come out as contrived, forced, or out of place. But ‘A Clockwork Orange’ gives a fantastic balance between forms of dialogue.
Each vitally important character has a very distinctive manner of conversing, their own unmistakable niches and nuances making for a vast set of colourful and unique characters. For example, a detective who has quite a high-pitch piercing voice, or even ‘Alex’ who is very posh, and only swears once or twice using the word “bastard” descriptively.
The film is not only beauty in text, but beauty in appearance. Kubrick obtains some incredibly unique and wonderful shots, as well as general imagery within certain scenes. The milkbar for example, is awash with metaphorical imagery; the matt white nude female statues, the black walls with white text, the generic fascination with milk. As well as the iconic outfits of the ‘Droogs’: all white, with black hats.

This truly is an unmistakably iconic film, its controversy is blatant, and it’s deserving of its cult status. As long as there is governmental rule over society; the films message will most likely never die out, and this is why it will remain a timeless classic.
An incredible, well manifested ambivalent contradictory mix of beautiful captivation, and tormenting trepidation – 10 out 10.

Please Visit: Tecurious

02
Apr
09

‘Duplicity’

2009
Director: Tony Gilroy
Starring: Clive Owen, Julia Roberts, Paul Giamatti, Tom Wilkinson

Like The ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ Remake, With Less Casinos And More Egotism
‘Claire’ (Julia Roberts) and ‘Ray’ (Clive Owen) meet each other in Dubai, at a US Consulate. They connect, spend a night together, and then she does something highly suspicious to him. We fast forward, and learn that they are now working together in a bid of corporate sabotage to receive a nice big pay off.

The title suggests convolution, this is what you get, but intrigue you do not. The film’s opening scene builds itself up very quickly, it gives the impression that this is going to be a fantastic film, and makes you think that if you don’t enjoy it within the first 20 minutes or so, you will later on. This is achieved primarily by scriptwork, mostly by the immediate chemistry between Roberts and Owen, and is further encouraged by some cinematographic choices which don’t seem to have the effect that they should.

The film initially progresses quite slowly; leaving the audience fairly clueless for quite a long time, and the only device used to explain elements of mysterious plot development are via the insistent use of flashbacks (mostly consisting of infatuation between the two main players), which go from anywhere between 3 years and a few weeks back from the current moment in time. The use of flashbacks is not always a bad thing, but it often depends on how they are worked into the script. In this instance; it feels like they were fairly pointless, and the quantity got quite annoying, this is mostly because there didn’t seem to be a reason for it. There was no reason why the film couldn’t tell the story in a more linear fashion, and try to capture the audience in some other, more inventive, method.

The film doesn’t seem to give you much to think about at all, judging simply by the title, you’d expect to have your brains in gear, but this isn’t really the case; all you have to do is pay attention and follow the story. The main story seemed to be all there was to this film, there were very few (arguably; if any) sub plots, and there seemed to be some kind of failed undertone; a satirical stab at competitive corporations, which only seemed to vaguely crop up here and there, and didn’t seem to make any distinctive point towards anything in reality.

There is a very evident awareness that this film isn’t too sure of itself, in the sense of the genre and audience at which it is trying to appeal to. There is a lot of vaguely nauseating romantic scenes between Owen and Roberts, and this is counteracted at various points with attempted tension along the lines of a thriller. Additionally, there were a few instances of comedy delivered through dialogue, though most attempts here were pretty lame and there only seemed to be one scene which was very ‘laugh out loud’ funny. Cumulatively, these elements don’t mix well together, and made for a particularly messy mix of genres which is quite disappointing.

The acting overall wasn’t too bad; Julia Roberts is fairly solid in her role but nothing special. Paul Giamatti gave a brilliant performance, as did Tom Wilkinson. Clive Owen is very surprising however; personally, I was unsure of what to expect, I’ve always seen him as a fairly mediocre actor who gives good performances in his roles but is often very familiar, as well as this, I’ve often felt him best suited to action roles, such as ‘Shoot ‘Em Up’ as an extreme example or ‘Sin City’ as a more appropriate one. ‘Duplicity’ has no action, it is more thriller orientated in structure, and it’s surprising to see Owen thrive very well in such a role. There are still certain nuances to his performance which give off a very customary vibe, but he displayed a certain set of uniqueness to his role here and there. One particular scene he shone in is where he masquerades as a man from Tennessee, which he executed very convincingly. Kudos to Owen.

One fairly nice aspect to the film, however, is that it is fairly (if only amorphously) redolent of the old crime caper films of roughly around the 60s, however, it doesn’t quite live up to any of them. If I had the option of watching this, or anything from previous decades with equally reputable cast members, I would choose something from previous decades.

‘Duplicity’ just doesn’t even live up to basic expectations, the film has clearly been designed to entertain, yet struggles to do so. The film behaves in a manner which feels as if it should have some deeper meaning to it, some kind of subtle connection to reality, yet as mentioned, this simply isn’t worked upon. Furthermore there is a great contempt for all the characters involved, there is no established reason for why the audience should care about anything that happens during the course of the film.

This film is 5 out of 10; the performances from Giamatti, Wilkinson and Owen were brilliant, but the film reeks of narcissism. Also, ironically, if you pay to see this on the big screen; you will be duped. Despite that phrase being admittedly very platitudinous, it really is true.
This isn’t a film to go rushing out to see, there really isn’t anything special about it. If you want to see it, I advise you wait for it to hit your TV screens in a few years, then you won’t feel like such a victim of the title.

Cross-posted with: Tecurious

02
Apr
09

‘Hayden Reviews’ is now on ‘Tecurious’

Dear all,

I was recently contacted by the runner of a website called Tecurious

Filled with all kinds of wonderful articles on new technology, music, anime/manga, movies and more!

The site’s runner contacted me requesting to post my reviews onto his website, to which I happily accepted. I have now made arrangements to cross-post with the website, and I advise you all bookmark this website http://www.tecurious.com/ as well as a set up its RSS feed to receive regular updates on all it’s posts.

I hope you all enjoy Tecurious, as well as my existing and future reviews!

Cheers,
Hayden Purcell

29
Mar
09

‘The Last Kiss’

2006
Director: Tony Goldwyn
Starring: Zach Braff, Jacinda Barrett, Rachel Bilson

‘What Is This, Some Sort Of Sappy Love Story For Women?!…I Think Not…’
Remade/Reworked from the 2001 film ‘Ultimo Bacio, L’, written and directed by award winner Gabriele Muccino (‘Seven Pounds’, ‘The Pursuit of Happyness’), ‘The Last Kiss’ shows us the story of ‘Michael’ (Zach Braff), and his friends, of how their lives progress and any dilemmas faced ahead. ‘Michael’ is in a committed relationship with ‘Jenna’ (Jacinda Barrett), they’ve been together for 3 years and are about to have a baby, in an influx of confusion over the way his life has planned out, fate delivers ‘Kim’ (Rachel Bilson) to ‘Michael’, and impulses start developing within him. Soon and sure enough, implications arise as she tries to seduce him.

Now, clearly, as the title and brief synopsis suggest, the first impressions of this film through text make it sound like some ‘smultchzy’, weepy, emotional film aimed at women and sensitive males in which people love, have problems, love again and thus; happy ending. But this simply is not the case with this film, with such pre-conceptions it becomes easy for expectations to be exceeded rather soon.
Initially this film seems like nothing special, we have some rapidly established characters, yet with minimal connection to the audience. This is fine, and you’d expect this to develop throughout the film; but it seems as if this doesn’t develop quickly enough. After being briefly introduced to our characters and the central plot, we are at a wedding, and it is here where ‘Michael’ meets ‘Kim’.
The immediate chemistry between Braff and Bilson seemed to be not that disparate to the chemistry displayed between Braff and Natalie Portman in the highly acclaimed film ‘Garden State’, this is slightly disappointing, but only to those who have seen the film in question. This chemistry, however, successfully veers off into something more unique and intriguing as the film goes on.
Also, in its opening scenes, there is nothing that shouts “I am great!” There are few nice shots and it’s generally aesthetically ordinary. Much of the acting is fairly quotidian with the exception of a handful of cast members, and the script promptly seems quite plain with some nice bits of dialogue here and there. Yet with all these obvious flaws outlined very early on, there is still something quite captivating about this film, and at first thought, it’s hard to pin-point exactly what it is.

As mentioned, there is much to be desired of the acting; all the cast performed their roles very well, but there always felt like there was something missing in their performance. In particular, Rachel Bilson (‘The O.C.’), who seems somewhat unconvincing at times.
Braff gives a fantastic performance however, especially in some heavy scenes nearer the end of the film where he irrevocably portrays his emotions and facial expressions.
Casey Affleck is quite surprising too, having not seen him in anything before myself, I expected him to be on par with his brother Ben Affleck in terms of acting ability. Casey is convincing in his role, he doesn’t quite surmount his brother, but he definitely shows some promise, (despite his peculiarly effeminate voice.)

One of the films underlying themes is how we treat our dreams and aspirations, as well as how we deal with the common dilemmas of modern day civilisation. It makes a point of arguing what is worth fighting for and why, as well as displaying the options of running away. You don’t necessarily learn from these points, but for certain people it’s not impossible to assume that it could put some viewers’ individual real-life problems into some form of perspective in terms of how they’re dealing with them. This is a great aspect, be it intentional or fluke.
Though despite this, some character actions and behavioural traits don’t seem to make complete sense. For example, ‘Kim’ knows that ‘Michael’ is in a committed relationship, yet she tries to seduce him anyway, and personally I can’t comprehend why you would try to aide and incur the self sabotage of someone’s relationship for personal gain. This made ‘Kim’ a mystery, and gives a very ambivalent feeling towards her, being that you enjoy aspects of her character, yet at the same time dislike her actions.

This goes for most characters though; there is a great deal of ambivalence and even contempt for a lot of the cast, and in the films early moments it’s hard to see why. As the film goes on, or more specifically, near the end, you realise something about the characters, and the artistic intentions with the characters involved. Throughout the film the contempt and ambivalence for the characters is consistent, assumedly this would be a bad thing, but this is in fact not a mistake. The only reason this is felt is because the mind expects to have a specified emotional attachment towards each of the characters dictated to it by the film. But this is one of those surprising elements; the film does not care whether you like the characters or not, it has a complete disregard for your personal feelings on how you wish the events to turn out as well as how you desire the characters to behave. The film basically says “Here is a story for you, but I don’t care if you like it or not”, the reason for this, is because every single character, good performance or not, is just incredibly human. Every character has a certain level of good qualities as well as a great deal of flaws, none of the characters are perfect, and none of them claim to be. This realisation makes any discontentment towards the characters vanish.

In this instance, the film fantastically avoids being predictable, as well as being some kind of ‘feel good’ escapist film to enjoy every once in a while on a weekend afternoon. The film convincingly tells a story of human life, and common modern social behaviour in adulthood.
This overall makes for a very surprising film, and at the end you’re left feeling very satisfied, and the feeling that you greatly enjoyed the movie. Even though the acting and cinematography leave much to the imagination at times, the films avoidance of escapism and its unpredictability just make this film rather unique and highly enjoyable.
It may require you stick with it however, but either way, 8 out of 10 for originality!

24
Mar
09

‘Magnolia’

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Starring: John C. Reilly, Tom Cruise, Julianne Moore, William H. Macy

Got 3 hours to spare?
The six degrees of separation state that you’re never too far away from amazing people, extraordinary things happen everyday to loads of people, and it’s something the human race often take for granted. ‘Magnolia’ highlights this point of presupposition and expands on it, in quite a beautifully captivating style; giving us a glimpse into numerous peoples inattentive intertwined lives on a seemingly ordinary day in South California.

This is a film that hasn’t really set out to be anything ground-breaking or magnificent, but while prevailing in that to certain individuals, this film is just quite ordinary; but not in a bad way. The film is filled with many characters who are, basically, really ordinary people; the sorts of people whom you may even come across (or have come across) during your life, which makes for a set of characters which are easy to get along with.
This is a strange aspect, when contemplating it, the characters actually aren’t really all too well established; yet at the same time, are established really well.
A handful of characters are introduced in the beginning, in a nicely paced and well edited sequence. Each character instantaneously displays a certain nuance of their personality which, to the viewer, consciously or subconsciously gives away a great deal about them, and who they are. During the course of the film, these traits are sustained, and are also subtly developed, bringing about new depths to characters, whilst also distorting certain preconceptions developed in their initial insertion.

The opening is fantastic, well shot and well edited; giving us a few examples of the way in which fate works, and how nature can pan out. After this the pace slows down a little to introduce the first of our characters, but it is still an acceptable and engrossing pace. However, after approximately 20 minutes, the momentum seems to notably decelerate as we delve into the early actions of certain people. While it is clear the pace has slowed down, it doesn’t seem to phase too much, this is mostly down to the brilliant cinematography, which alone is arguably strong enough to keep the viewer enthralled, if nothing else. Though, later on the progress picks up; during the course of the film it is realised that the pacing is a little inconsistent at times and seems to elevate the viewers interest, but for what reason?

There are several aspects to the film which seem to unnecessarily pique the intrigue of the audience, the most discernable of which is the soundtrack. This is a particularly messy element, whilst there are some nice compositions and songs chosen throughout; their combination, overlapping and crossing over can be a little disconcerting. The compositions are the biggest culprit here, the ambient music created gives a false sense of suspense, tension and intrigue by being oddly climatic. On first thought it is insignificant; the film is gripping enough to the point where it’s not impossible to forget about time, and how long you’ve been watching it. But when it feels like it’s coming to an end an hour and a half before it actually does, it starts to drag on.
About 1 hour and 40 minutes in, is the point at which it starts to feel a little laborious, but this is only due to the extrinsically momentous compositions.

Also, the heart of the film seems to be built upon character psyche; while there are some early distinctions shown, as mentioned, it takes quite a while to fully crack into the complete mindset of the characters…Possibly too long. Though, disdained from this, the acting is very solid and the character relationships are phenomenally entrenched.
One particularly surprising performance is from John C. Reilly, he is an actor who has been around for years, but is mostly recognised lately for his roles in the comedy genre such as ‘Talladega Nights’, ‘Walk Hard’ and ‘Step Brothers’. Having personally only ever seen him in ‘Talladega Nights’, I didn’t think Reilly to be anything that special in terms of acting ability; but his role as ‘Officer Jim Kurring’ in this film, is amicably convincing and well performed, especially the subtle negativities to the characters traits.
Generally the performances are convincing and well performed by a pretty talented cast compiled of familiar faces (but not in a daunting sense, such as ‘The Departed’). The only clear exceptions are Julianne Moore and Tom Cruise, whilst Moore can give some nice performances, there are certain moments where she is a little unconvincing, similarly for Tom Cruise. It is no secret that I have a personal contempt towards Cruise, but there have been certain instances where he has been tolerable (and dare I say; good.), however in the instance of ‘Magnolia’, he is being exactly what I’d expect; an over-actor. His early introduction is fairly tolerable, he displays tendencies typical to his real-life stereotype, and being the over-actor he is, he exaggerates upon these things and becomes the eccentric, energetic, arrogant and vaguely misogynistic ‘Frank T.J. Mackey’. Whilst initial appearances are tolerable in terms of acting ability, it is not until later where he displays some emotion. This emotion starts off as adequate, but then veers off into something a little bathetic.

The best part of this film, however, is the relationships between certain characters and the style in which they banter, communicate and behave with each other. There is something very natural and fascinating about this, and makes it a joy to see any character; in particular, an early scene between Macy and Alfred Molina, as well as a scene between Reilly and a young boy.

Overall, this isn’t a bad film. There are some nice issues raised, particularly that of child stardom (Which has proven to still be a hot topic today, specifically Miley Cyrus), as well as ‘gold digging’ and general depression. Whilst there is a lack of strong connection between audience and character, it works perfectly, making characters seem more natural and more human. This makes for some genuinely touching emotional scenes as well as some sympathy, and perhaps even empathy for certain characters. This makes for a script that works really well with some nice dialogue. But the major drawback of this film is the unnecessarily climactic soundtrack here and there, as well as the length which is roughly 180 minutes. Personally, I’m torn between the length; on one side it worked brilliantly in slowly unfolding the workings of each character, as well as telling their stories, yet on the other hand it feels like it could have been tremendously shorter. Despite this, this film is a solid 8 out of 10. It’s definitely worth making the time for…Even if you despise Tom Cruise.

17
Mar
09

‘The Departed’

2006
Director: Martin Scorsese
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio

An All Star Cast, And A Fantastic Story – Perfect……?
‘Billy Costigan’ is a cop who goes deep undercover as a mole within a pack of gangsters. Similarly, ‘Colin Sullivan’ is under the gangsters’ payroll to rat out the cop’s next move towards arresting them…Only ‘Sullivan’ works as a police sergeant.
It’s not long before trouble is stirred on both sides, and a race is on for both sides to unearth their mole first.

With a fairly gripping premise, this makes for anticipatory enthrallment; and with the legendary Scorsese at the helm as director, it is only natural to expect great things. On top of this, the film has won 4 Oscars, some of which are; “Best Motion Picture of The Year” 2007 going to producer Graham King, and Scorsese also received his only ever Oscar for this film for “Best Achievement in Directing”. Though there has been some debate as to whether this film deserved it, or whether he should have received it for his earlier (and some say, better,) films.
As well as this there is an all star leading cast consisting of Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin and Ray Winstone. With such an expensive and mostly talented cast, it is only natural to expect a great film with fantastic depth.

The all star cast is, in fact, distracting during the opening sequence. While the beginning had some great dialogue and fantastic shots, the amount of cast members introduced in the setup take you out of the story from the off. Each time a new famous actor comes onto screen, the mind wanders off into the realms of “Oh that’s Alec Baldwin!” or maybe even “Now where have I seen him before?” This makes it tricky to take in the story in the introduction and engage your mindset into the films situation.
However, you naturally get used to it, but by this time it is possible that it could become taxing to comprehend certain early character actions or reactions, as well as parts of the story. Thankfully (mostly due to the films length), it is easy to connect yourself back into the story and identify with certain characters.

While it is nice to see an all star cast in some films, this isn’t the case in a film with such a convoluted plot as ‘The Departed’. There are many character nuances and actions which are crucial, and really need to be identified clearly. This is not the case with all, however, some felt like they could have been a lot deeper.
In spite of this, there are certain characters that are very well established, as are their connections with others. If able to disregard the initial overload of acclaimed cast, the opening becomes a very interesting setup, and a great introduction to some roles.

Mark Wahlberg, plays a stereotypical renegade ‘asshole’ cop by the name of ‘Dignam’. For this, he was nominated for an Oscar in the category of “Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role”. Thankfully he did not receive the award. Whilst Wahlberg is not a bad actor in general, he definitely did not match up to other cast members within this film. His performance was inconsistent, albeit acceptable, but there were numerous instances of dodgy line delivery; mostly down to his undeveloped accent.
However, within the celebrity cast there were some great performances. The best, in my humble opinion, is the performance of Leonardo DiCaprio who plays ‘Billy Costigan’. This is one of his early roles within adulthood, and he gives a superbly convincing performance. As many will probably agree, in his younger years he seemed like a talentless young boy who just had a pretty face, for this reason many people had a great dislike towards him for the amount of mainstream work he got based possibly on his looks. I will admit; that I used to be one these people who didn’t pay any specific attention to his ability to act in his early career. Often when attention was paid, there didn’t seem to be anything special about him. ‘Blood Diamond’ was the first film I saw him in, in which he behaved as an actual actor; I gave him a chance, and was shocked at what he has become. After seeing ‘The Departed’, there is a whole new level of respect for DiCaprio; he is not just a pretty face, he does have fantastic talent.
DiCaprio gives a stellar performance in this film, and it is easy to get really involved in his character, who is in a worse situation than to his counterpart ‘Sullivan’ (Matt Damon). Resultantly, it becomes somewhat effortless to develop a sense of fear for him.
A connection along similar lines is also attempted to be established with Damon’s character, although trying to insinuate different emotions. Unfortunately this connection is lost due to Damon’s sub-par performance. Whilst (like Wahlberg) he is generically not a terrible actor, his performance just feels too familiar in this film, much like his character in ‘Good Will Hunting’ just with a different accent, which is fairly disappointing. Despite this, his role is a strong solid one and is well established, it’s just that it’s a little hard to care about him sometimes down to his performance.
Nicholson also gives a superb performance, somewhat reminiscent of his portrayal of ‘The Joker’ in Burton’s ‘Batman’, yet giving his character his own unique spin. This works well, and Nicholson gives a brilliantly convincing performance to a great character.

The whole theme of the film has a very evocative aura around it, very implicative of the old epic gangster films such as ‘The Godfather’, or perhaps one of Scorsese’s previous gems ‘Goodfellas’. This film seems to take movies such as that, but bring it into the modern day, and make it contemporary. Although the story in ‘The Departed’ is a bit deeper, and more convoluted than the aforementioned examples, it separates itself from being directly affiliated with such films. In this sense it is cleverly written.
The scriptwork is fantastic, the story flows really well. While it takes a while to get used to the shifting of storylines, the film does become pretty absorbing, captivating and genuinely intriguing in its nature, mostly down to its brilliant cinematography and excellent use of camera angles. Added to this, there are some fantastic lines of dialogue; in particular the opening line delivered by Nicholson’s character; “I don’t want to be a product of my environment. I want my environment to be a product of me.” As well as this, there are some funny lines of dialogue, which initially make the film seem quite humorous. The film starts with some very comedic undertones, which make any and all initial scenes of violence seem a little black, but can also turn into something a little more impacting when the realisation hits that it’s not supposed to be funny. While this is a nice aspect, it seems to dwindle as the film goes on. It would have been nice to keep this undertone, as it added a unique punch to the scenes displaying violence.
Although, despite some great performances, a great story and a well developed script; the film doesn’t cumulatively feel as if there is that much to it. There is a main story, and a severely underplayed and vaguely interesting sub-plot which seems a little disparate from the main plot. This can make a few scenes less enthralling, but not really that tedious. Certain scenes just feel less important to character and plot development. Additionally, there is only the one sub-plot; for such a long film it would have been nice to have a lot more to the story than just the enticingly convoluted, yet empirical, ‘good cop/bad cop’ structure.

Overall, this is a rather prepossessing film which happily and easily keeps you watching throughout, as well as sustaining interest in the story. However, it doesn’t really feel that unique. By the end, there is something about it which just feels a little too familiar, and this is possibly down to its recollective aspects. Despite this, there are some pleasing performances, and the cinematography is very visually gratifying. This film also engages the mind in terms of following the story, and makes for a very interesting watch.
With some fantastic aspects as mentioned before, this film is 7 out of 10. When its elements are good, they’re brilliant; but when they are bad, they are just sorely disappointing and detract from the films mood. But it’s definitely worth watching, and is fantastically entertaining.

09
Mar
09

‘Dark City’

1998
Director: Alex Proyas
Starring: Rufus Sewell, William Hurt, Jennifer Connelly, Kiefer Sutherland

“You Are Not Who You Think You Are.”
A man wakes up in a bath tub, with absolutely no idea of who he is or how he got there. He soon finds himself accused of being a serial killer, and pursued by strange men with bright white faces. He sets out on a mission to find some answers; but before too long, he finds himself part of a much more sinister plot.
Director Alex Proyas (‘I, Robot’, ‘The Crow’) directs this Burton/Gilliam-esque portrayal of understanding the essence of being.

This is very well compiled movie, with some great undertones to it. The opening is pretty gripping, in which a lot seems to happen and is somewhat subliminal in content. It is very fast paced, and erratically cut together so that it doesn’t spend too long on each scene, this doesn’t often give you time to consciously take in what happen, but the mind still registers what is going on.
These erratic visuals make for an incredibly surreal opening; it is imperative that you allow yourself to suspend disbelief, and brace yourself for science-fiction mayhem. This setup is reflective of the protagonist ‘Murdoch’ (Rufus Sewell), being that neither the audience nor the main character understand what is going on at all. Lots of questions are asked, and it isn’t until about 40 minutes in that the first question is vaguely answered.

However, the length of time to answer even one question does not feel like a long time. Due to the pacing and the whole manner of execution in the first 40 minutes, it is easy to forget about time (considering you are at least accepting of such a genre of film). This is aided very well by some fantastically designed sets, lit perfectly to emulate the title and storyline of the film. Due to this, it is onerous to reference parts of the film without spoiling much of the plot.

The plot is surprisingly deep for a film of its genre, with certain underlying themes as well as visuals which are slightly reminiscent of Terry Gilliam’s ‘Brazil’. It deals with the concept of what truly makes us human, and judges how unique we really are as a species. This is not only an aspect dealt with directly in the plot, but also has the potential to make you think about it too. The development of this plot is also superb, amidst the fast pace, the progression seems to be quite gradual.

The acting talents were pretty inconsistent around this film, whilst there were some good performances; there were also some bad ones which detracted from the flow of the film at times. The film itself is remarkably gripping due to its pacing and visual intensity. But the acting takes you out of this. In particular, Kiefer Sutherland; while his character is a pretty strong and solid character, Sutherland just simply isn’t convincing in his role. He seems to be trying to hard too be disparate to the roles he has performed before, as if trying to set himself up as a character actor, but unfortunately he fails with horrid consequences. Jennifer Connelly is also fairly mediocre; she gives a fairly bland, empty performance and is somewhat disappointing.
Despite this, when the acting’s good…It is really good; Richard O’Brien for one gives a fantastic performance as a darkly sinister villain, whilst also adequately incorporating his much loved element of camp behaviour.
Rufus Sewell shines too, in the beginning he seems fairly unsure, but as the film goes on he gradually emerges to give a very interesting and plausible performance. Similarly, William Hurt gives a great performance too.
These performances make for some good tension and suspense throughout; being that the plot is quite secretive in its build-up, it is hard to predict some actions as the film moves along.

While there are some great visuals in cinematographic terms, as well as good performances and an intriguing story; there are some parts of the script which don’t seem to fit, being that certain parts of dialogue are quite cheesy, in a bad sense. The line “I have Murdoch in mind” (which doesn’t make sense here) is quite a paltry piece of speech. When watching the film it will be obvious why it has been noted.

The special effects are also quite enjoyable, but they start to become overused by the end of the film. The climax to this film is somewhat a little dissatisfying and predictable, at which point tension and suspense becomes negligible. It is a surprising climax to have given the nature of the rest of the film, and due to the content of the climax, it is also somewhat tedious in its execution and brings the film down substantially. However, after this there is a great final scene in a visual sense.

Overall, this film is pretty entertaining and not a typical film of the sci-fi genre. This is definitely one for fans of the genre, especially those who enjoyed ‘Brazil’ or ‘The Matrix’.
With some great performances, and a generally good script this is a highly entertaining and engaging film which requires some brain power to follow (which is often refreshing with a film of this style). This is 8 out of 10, unique, creative and visually enthralling. It is also heavily suggested that it be viewed in a darkened room for optimal impact.