Boy

Boy2010movieposter

I forgot I already watched this movie until I started to get flashbacks during the (apparent) second watching. The flashbacks were a little freaky as I knew I’d seen the scene before but couldn’t remember anything of what was to come. Then I thought maybe these were scenes that I’d seen in trailers – but how had I seen so many? That was  when I remembered the one thing that could cause this confusion – wine. That’s right, I watched Boy after a long lunch filled with good food and good wine (apparently).

I would have told anyone who asked me if I’d seen Boy that I hadn’t. That is how well wine can make you forget. (Why is it then, that if you say/do/are something stupid when you’re drinking wine, you wake up in the middle of the night replaying it over and over again in your mind? I wasn’t even that stupid and nobody else remembers it! Oops, overshare…).

I also think I fell asleep for a while during the infamous wine soaked first viewing of Boy but that is less a reflection on Boy than a reflection on wine…

More Boy less wine… that does not sound right.

More Boy the movie shall we? Taika Waititi directed Boy. You may know this director from other films he has directed including Search for the Wilderpeople and What We Do in the Shadows. Yes, that’s him. Google tells me Mr Waititi will be directing the next Thor film.That is good.

Boy is lovely. You should watch it, but don’t drink wine beforehand. Drink your wine afterwards as you discuss the amazing New Zealand countryside, the role of fathers in a boy’s childhood, the role of Michael Jackson in everyone’s childhood and wonder at the complaint “not crayfish for dinner again”…

Awesome I F*in Shot That

AIFST

In 2004 the Beastie Boys recorded their sold-out show at Madison Square Gardens. They handed out about 20 cameras to people in the audience hence the ‘Awesome I F*in Shot That‘ of the title. Apparently AIFST was directed by Adam Yauch (MCA) although, as it’s a movie of a concert and MCA was on stage, I think the direction was a bit hands off. (MCA used the name Hornblower – see above poster for quote regarding that.)

Usually I would avoid concert movies like the plague. Even when it’s a favourite band I find them tedious. I don’t really like watching video clips either. I either want to see the band in concert or just listen to their music. Having said all of that I loved AIFST!

I was lucky enough to see the Beasties live during this concert tour so it brought back some excellent memories of an excellent gig. I almost touched Mike D! But I didn’t because nobody wants randoms touching them – creepy. And I danced so hard and sang along so hard and had a great time in general. I’d loved them so long and was finally at a gig! So, good memories – yeah!

Beastie’s certainly put on a good show and this movie catches them at a real high. It also captures the crowds love for them. Having the cameras in the crowd gives a grungier, closer feel which works well and makes a nice change from the perfectly presented concert. Don’t worry there are also the usual cameras onstage etc, it’s not all hand-held, you’re not going to vomit.

The Beasties know what we want and we get it, but this one’s interesting as it’s not just them as MC’s but as musicians. You get a bit of everything from them. Plus, OMG, Mix Master Mike – mad skillz! And for a little extra fun we get some back stage shenanigans. Lovely.

I really enjoyed this movie. I guess I was pleasantly surprised. I got carried away with it and it was all over in a flash. At the same time I am unlikely to ever watch it again because it’s still a concert movie.  Whatever critique that made me put this on my must watch movie list obviously hit the nail on the head.

Bringing it all home, of course, is the fact that MCA has passed away since this movie was made. This is it. This is the Beastie Boys and they’re a little bit wonderful.

RIP MCA.

Battle Royale

br

I am quite convinced that whoever the woman is who wrote The Hunger Games saw Battle Royale before being ‘struck’ by the idea of Katniss Everdeen. The similarities are surely not just coincidental. Children battle to the death on an isolated island (or arena for THG) with the weapons they are given/can find.

It’s not exactly the same but the basic story is definitely very familiar, however, in Battle Royale the government chooses a naughty class of children to be the sacrifices. It’s not random death selection like in THG. From there on it’s pretty much the same. Lots of kids you don’t feel much for get chopped to bits by other kids you don’t feel much for and the kids you do get to know try to avoid killing as much as possible but have to do it to save themselves now and then.

There’s a little romance thrown in to Battle Royale in between the insane violence – not sure why, there’s nothing nice going on here and you know everyone’s going to die, right? As if you’d be thinking about boys/girls at this time. Although it’s a while since I was a teenager so maybe kids these days are all into bloody destruction matched with romance?

Battle Royale is really violent although not in a very realistic way. It’s a mean film though. There isn’t any weak conquering the mighty to be seen and those you think might make it through the battle to the death are just as likely not to.

BR is pretty gross and pretty wrong but I think it’s got quite a bit to say about authority and the role of government in making laws that are good for some but bad for others (really bad in BR) and usually bad for the people who have the least power to do anything about it. Maybe I’m reading a bit more into it than the writers intended but if I saw it at all I’m pretty sure it’s there – I’m not the best at finding hidden meaning in anything. At the same time it seems just as much an excuse to get Japanese girls to beat the shit out of each other while wearing school uniforms and still managing to be manga cute while, of course, the blood sprays in every direction.

There’s no happy ending here and a lot of the death is really quite gruesome. If you can handle splatter splash heads off kind of gore you might just like Battle Royale. Don’t watch it if you don’t like blood or if you don’t like to see the blatant meanness underlying the entire story or watching a film while knowing it’s never getting any better or that general feeling of dread when you know it’s all going to hell in a handbasket but you’re sitting in your living room and you probably don’t need to keep watching.

Also this film is in Japanese with subtitles. Also this film does not have Cary Grant in it, which is disappointing but something I’ll probably have to get used to when it comes to movie watching…

Bringing up Baby

bringing up baby

While I clearly love Cary Grant… films. I didn’t really like this one. I’m used to suave Cary not bumbling comedy Cary and maybe, just maybe, what was funny 80 years ago ain’t quite so funny anymore. (I think maybe we’ve all heard this one before.)

While it’s not black face lows (see my many issues with The Party…), Bringing up Baby is gender stereotype lows while at the same time trying to screw with gender stereotypes, I also think it may be homophobic with a little animal cruelty chucked in – hmmm, happy fun watching times with a hint of overthinking it – so me!

Here we have the ever wonderful Katherine Hepburn (whose acting chops clearly run to pretty wonderful comic timing that I’m sure had audiences rolling in the aisles but alas, not me) playing the lovelorn spoilt girl child against Cary’s straight man (so straight he’s a scientist) piece of candy. So here is the gender swap – we don’t have a bumbling man trying to woo a super model, we have Kathy trying to woo Cary. Unfortunately, what we actually get is Cary trying to get a job done and Katherine stalking him and even for a while abducting him. Not funny.  And if you think about chucking the gender swap around again, really quite awful.

It may be my modern sensibilities (yes, I have sensibilities it’s not just a Jane Austen thing) but if you swap the gender of two characters in a film and you end up with a horror film it’s probably not that funny in its original form.

I tried to put this from my mind and think of audiences back in the day and how risqué seeing Cary as the chased and Kathy as the chaser may have been but it just kept coming back to Stockholm Syndrome and that’s not good. Basically, Kathy becomes so obsessed with Cary she ruins his life and then Cary falls in love with her. Not good.

Again, maybe I’ve seen too many spy cool Cary films and too many feminist icon Kathy films. I am so not happy about Bringing up Baby. If this was a modern day film and Jennifer Lawrence was Kathy and (who’s good looking enough for Cary?!? I’m going to go with an Aussie here because I’m Aussie and solidarity y’all, but actually he’s no Cary Grant but at least he’s in her age range) Liam Hemsworth was Cary – this would be a psychological drama. I’m thinking Misery here people – not funny…

I’m sorry if you love Bringing up Baby but I can’t separate ‘me’ enough from films to see what audiences thought was funny back in the day (that day was in 1938 BTW). I wish I liked it better because it always comes up in lists of all time classic films (probably why it was on my list) and the actors really are wonderful but much like my experience of The Party I can’t drop my ‘me’ enough to enjoy.

Bringing up Baby is, and I repeat, not funny. Cary Grant is, and I repeat, freakishly hot for a dead guy or maybe it’s just ‘me’.

CAry Grant

Rrrrrr, smokin’ hot.

Notorious (1946)

notorious

Aah, a Cary Grant movie – delicious Cary Grant movie…and Ingrid Bergman… delicious Ingrid Bergman movie…

Alfred Hitchcock… confusing Alfred Hitchcock movie…

Notorious has Nazis and spies and beautiful women and beautiful men (well a Cary Grant anyway and a lot of old white men wearing suits) and is confusing.

Notorious is a good film but it’s not great. I’ve seen better Hitchcock films like Vertigo (my fave!) or, well, most of the other Hitchcock’s I’ve seen really.

Notorious is pure noir which is a little bit lovely. Cary Grant is suave and mysterious and Ingrid Bergman is clever and gorgeous. Her character isn’t dumbed down and she is strong in her own right. She isn’t just there to get fridged. She is a beautiful love interest though.

If you like black and white films and noir you’ll love Notorious. Cary Grant is at his spymaster best – keeping it cool and (figuratively) killing the ladies. The Nazi storyline feels a bit odd to me. Was Brazil a Nazi hideout I should have known about? They were certainly living the highlife in the film. I needed a WWII hand book to explain it to me.

Here’s another thing – how did Ingrid make a roast chicken dinner in a hotel room in Brazil? Is it just because she’s Ingrid and she can do anything? Why is a home cooked dinner the most romantic thing? Roast chicken is pretty amazing though so chicken and romance – maybe it’s a noir thing? I need to rewatch all the noir films and look for the chicken…

Notorious is a gorgeous noir fest and you should see it. Especially if you sometimes crush on dead guys…

 

 

 

Taxi Driver

Taxi_Driver_poster

I think I left it too long to see this one. For so many years I’ve heard what a genre changing classic it is but maybe now I’ve seen too many films that have been influenced by Taxi Driver and now it feels familiar.

I enjoyed Taxi Driver but I wasn’t blown away by it. It doesn’t seem to have stood the test of time in the same way as Apocalypse Now (which I also took way too long to see but still loved it = blown away!).

It’s great to see De Niro in full form acting Travis Bickle is a fully developed character whose slightest twitches convey so much more than just the dialogue. De Niro inhabits the character and while it certainly becomes clear Trav has some serious mental health issues, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for him and really just like him. I think this is all down to De Niro. Jodie Foster is also brilliant, it’s hard to believe she was so young when acting such a difficult character and just doing it with such maturity. I’ve known she’s amazing for quite some time but it’s still incredible to see her as Iris.

I love that New York is its own character in Taxi Driver. So dirty, so dank, so seedy. No wonder Trav goes off the deep end when all he sees is dark and dirty New York haunting his rear vision mirror with its filth, both literal and in the people of New York jumping in his taxi late at night to do the dirty deeds they can’t do during the day.How gross that he has to clean the ‘gunk’ (shall we say) off the back seat of the taxi at the end of his shift…. euwwww.

Taxi Driver is a surprisingly slow movie, the final scenes contain the only action and that is all over very quickly. I wondered while watching how much of these final scenes were in Travis’ head? Did he really shave his head or was everything he did with the shaved head a ‘dream/fantasy’? Because in the very final scenes of the movie he’s back at his job with a full head of hair and as if nothing has changed. How do you kill two people and then everything goes back to normal? He was saving Iris from a shitty life but he also murdered people in cold blood. Sure they were jerks but killing a jerk isn’t a defence to their murder (should it be?). A bloody happy ending (literal not swearing) is all it comes down to and it was a bit hollow for me.

I liked lots of things about Taxi Driver, it’s a good film and it’s great to revisit De Niro at his strongest (not the Dirty Grandpa De Niro thank you…) but overall I don’t really get what all the fuss is about. I should have seen it sooner.

 

 

 

Argo

argo

So I was completely spoiled on the story of Argo from the get-go as most viewers probably were. I read a reasonably detailed article about the true events Argo is based on at around the time Argo was released so I knew the outcome of this movie. Nonetheless this is an excellent action film that carries you on it’s stressful progression all the way.

Suspense is hard to achieve especially when a lot of your audience already knows the story. Somehow Ben Affleck (Director and actor in this one) pulls it off. I think it probably has a lot to do with having good writers on your side as well. One of whom is the person who actually pulled off this insanity for the CIA. Also, you can’t see Ben’s chin which is my favourite type of Ben.

It’s a treat to see a version of the CIA portrayed which is full of people who actually seem like they might exist (sorry Ethan Hunt and Mr Bourne (whatever his first name is… I’m going with Bruce, I know it’s not Matt anyway)). Bearded Ben plays a bloke who seems like someone you might know or work with, he’s smart and he’s good at playing it straight but it’s because it’s what he does for a living not because he’s the Batman (…I know…). His boss as played by Brian Cranston is even more realistic and flawed. He’s caught between the job and the politics.

Still, the action arises from their ‘everyday’ charms and their need to save a few people from a horrible fate. It is also the politics/doing-your-job dichotomy that a lot of the suspense arises from. It’s very cleverly done.

I remember some of the controversy in Iran from when I was a kid but I had absolutely know idea how dangerous and scary it got, especially for US citizens. I certainly remember those pictures of the Ayatollah staring down from the TV. Beardy Ben does a good job of overlaying true footage from the events and the new scenes for the movie. It is a true story and it doesn’t hide from it or glamorise events (as far as I can tell). They even cast actors who look like the people who became trapped.

The true fake movie story was well portrayed and, as ever, Alan Arkin shone through the screen (as I struggled to remember his name!) as the producer who faked his way through all the Hollywood fakery to produce a fake film. Go CIA! Best worst plan ever!

I actually chose a very relevant time to watch Argo as there is a strong Star Wars influence throughout. The fake film is basically a rip off and with all the hype about Episode VII at the moment it jumped out at me even more. The influence of Star Wars on Hollywood hasn’t really faded much at all. (Okay, I love Star Wars, sorry not sorry.)

The main issue I have with Argo is that the fake movie was never made. It looked tragically awesome and a lot worse has been made in Hollywood since Star Wars started the craze for Sci-Fi Fantasy in action movies.

 

 

River Queen

River Queen

Hey! Look at me! I’m writing a blog entry! It’s been so long… I blame sitting in front of a computer at work for my lack of interest in sitting in front of a computer at home. But today I am at home sick so rather than watch another movie I’m writing! Woot! (It might stop me scratching… yeah – think on that…)

So, I watched River Queen (no not The African Queen – that’s a different movie which is really quite a bit better in my opinion but actually completely different except for the part with a boat on a river and a beautiful landscape and a woman falling in love with a man she probably shouldn’t but that’s every second movie really apart from the river bit).

I liked River Queen but it was too long but it was pretty and kind of sweet (except for the blood and death etc) so I’d give it a thumbs up.

It’s set in New Zealand which I also give a massive thumbs up though I’ve never been there. It looks amazing! You thought it looked good in Lord of the Rings et al? River Queen wins that battle. If you don’t want to visit NZ after watching this film then fair enough really – but it made me want to.

River Queen is set in 18somethings NZ when the Maori people tried really hard to make the English people leave. Yet  this white girl falls in love with a Maori boy and everything goes a little awry as she tries to navigate two completely different cultures (OMG! It’s a river and she’s navigating cultures! What is she the Queen of?!?). She’s pretty cool and makes some good decisions but I’m not sure a white woman in 18something NZ would really do quite as well as this woman does no matter who loves her.

It’s quite gritty and dark with some gruesome battles and no holds on the horror inflicted on locals by invading armies. It’s hard to watch at times because I couldn’t help but wonder at how easy it was for one group of people not to see another as ‘people’ (continuing crappy issue unfortunately).

Also Kiefer Sutherland is in this, speaking Oirish which I could barely understand and you get to see his bum. Thumbs down on that.

 

 

Catfish

Catfish

While it’s an all real life documentary, Catfish is also a disturbing, creepy, almost thriller of a documentary. From the first moment Nev makes friends with a little girl on the internet who is a painting prodigy you just know it’s all downhill from there. Even if you already know what Catfish is about, it’s 5 years old and there’s a TV show based on this experience, it’s still really stressful as you wait for that oh so obvious penny to drop for Nev and his mates.

Meeting this little girl online who sends him presents and emails him but refuses to talk on the phone is weird and, I think now, any of us experiencing it would think so too but Nev is a little naive and trusting and maybe we were all a little less likely to jump to the ‘scam’ scenario before this doco was made.

It is so awful when a ‘sexual’ relationship starts with the little girl’s adult big sister – sexting and late night phone calls and all – we all know it’s not real but at the same time , who is she? Why is she doing this? Is she real, is the little girl real? What’s freakin’ real?!?

There are some real cringe moments in this doco and the makers (especially Nev) were really brave to put them in as they are horribly embarrassing. As it all comes tumbling in on itself and Nev starts to realise how far the subterfuge has gone it’s impossible to take your eyes from the screen. I had to know!

When you do finally meet the culprit/s the intrigue doesn’t let up as you wonder how far the film makers will go to dig up the truth. Somehow they manage to find out all the facts but never attack or degrade the culprit. You can watch this and kind of understand the imperative this person felt to behave this way. It’s sad really and the film makers know it, so they don’t push too hard – it’s really well done.

The layers of intrigue here are really well developed and then stripped away. It’s a clever doco on an important subject. It’s just so easy now for people to create fake lives on the internet and envelop innocent others in a web of deceit. We hear stories about it all the time but watching this documentary makes you realise that just about anyone can fall for this when the deceit is so intricately woven.

All parents should make their kids watch Catfish – they will be completely weirded out but they might learn a little bit about not trusting everyone you meet on the internet (and not just because their parents told them).

Darwin’s Nightmare

Darwin's Nightmare

I’ve been finding it so hard to keep on top of this blog stuff and watching all the movies on my list. It’s quite overwhelming. But I’ve decided to give it all a red hot go (without causing myself a whole lot of stress… hopefully). Maybe I can also drop the quality of my writing (no comments on that one please…) so I can write faster. Anyway if this is the quick and dirty version of me blogging I may just click out a few low word blogs. For example – new blog on Dredd would be “Nope” and for Darwin’s Nightmare it would be “good but needs to be shorter” but I’ll add more shall I?

This is one of those documentaries that create life conundrums. Do I keep doing something or do I stop? Who benefits and who loses?  Basically it comes down to “is it better to keep buying a type of fish which is destroying an environment or do you stop buying and take away the only livelihood of an entire country”? Yes, that kind of life choice conundrum. There are so many – Do I stop buying clothes made in Bangladesh (one of many countries I could choose) where people work 7 day weeks in terrible conditions or do I keep buying clothes made in Bangladesh so those people working in terrible conditions at least have jobs? I could go on but I won’t because this is supposed to be about Darwin’s Nightmare.

Back to the doco – the Nile Perch which we all buy (in just about every country apparently, except Tanzania where the locals can’t afford it!), has destroyed the waters of Lake Victoria. It’s an introduced species which has eaten all the local fishes and is now cannibalising its own littlies for food. Ewwww, right? So it’s completely destroyed the water quality because all the small fish that ate the algae are gone and the water is becoming polluted with algae and Nile Perch poop.

At the same time these fish are the only source of income for Tanzania (except for prostitution it seems). There are some people who have profited from Nile Perch fishing but they didn’t look like locals.

This is an interesting doco, in parts, it could have been really good but it’s just too long and the director keeps himself completely out of the picture which can work but I thought here there was explanation needed. At one point a woman was talking about how lucky she was to have a job (and not have to be a prostitute for the fishermen) while she was hanging out fish carcasses covered in maggots and walking through maggoty entrails (sorry, and yes, it was really that gross) but because the director wasn’t making an appearance I have absolutely no idea what job she was doing or what was going on with the super gross fish carcasses.

Darwin’s Nightmare really will make you think about the effects of worldwide consumption on third world countries but it also leaves you in a conundrum with regard to the actions you take in spending. Unfortunately though it would have been a whole lot better to watch this over an hour on a tv show like 60 Minutes than to go movie length and I really hope someone told this director to explain themselves in future.