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.

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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…

 

 

 

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.

 

 

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).

Dredd

dredd

Oh dear, this film…

Do you like action for the sake of blowing things up and killing people? Do you like wooden acting by otherwise good actors? Do you like pretty explosions and scenes of drug taking? Do you like excellence in lower face acting? If you answered yes to all of these I suggest you see Dredd. Otherwise don’t.

I like action films it’s true so I didn’t hate Dredd but I would’ve liked a bit of character development or even a story line I couldn’t see coming a mile off. Dredd is disappointing. I’m not even sure this version outshines the Stallone version, except it has to just because the explosions are bigger and the action grittier.

Karl Urban makes it through the whole film not taking his half face helmet off thereby becoming the world’s best lower face acting actor. Not a good thing unfortunately. You can only see his mouth so no clues as to what’s going on in there. Basically Karl spends a lot of time pouting or keeping his mouth in a perfectly straight line. Not wooden at all, no sir. On the other hand his girl sidekick who’s name I’ve forgotten leaves her helmet with her motorbike so we get to see all the girly extremes of her experience. Pfft. Apparently she’s less psychic with her helmet on but personally I’d have it with me because everyone is trying to shoot judges so stupid girl really.

Dredd 3

dredd 2

Karl Urban's wide range of lower face acting skills exemplified.

Karl Urban’s wide range of lower face acting skills exemplified.

This is basically a fortress defense game on film except the ‘good guys’ are already in the fortress and are destroying it from the inside and the baddies are defending the fortress. Start at the bottom, work your way to the top, kill everyone you see and destroy everything you can – the bigger the hole in the walls the more points! At the same time the baddies are destroying everything while trying to kill the judges. So destruction really.

I like (in terms of the imagination not in terms of wanting to live in this future… I’ll stick with my now thank you) the dystopian future imagined in Dredd, a place where drugs are illegal but give the only form of escape from the horror of a poor existence, regular people are trapped by poverty and the most violent arise to rule the slums. This kind of future feels kind of real as the gap between the poorest people in the world and the richest grows and grows. It’s not hard to see slums developing where gangs are the law and the law just stays away. It is very bleak and very dark. This is a large scale version of places that I’m sure very much already exist.

Lena Headey is reasonably good but she’s basically playing Cersei Lannister with bad hair, a scar and no money. Her character is in charge though which makes for a different take on gangs I suppose but the character is poorly developed and could have been played by a man or a woman really.

Oh dear, this film…

Karl's emotional reaction to this blog entry.

Karl’s emotional reaction to this blog entry.

Purple Rose of Cairo

purple rose

Woody Allen’s love story to the movies – everything about the movies. From  characters and script to passing over your money for a ticket and sitting in a dark theater while munching popcorn. This description makes it sound like I liked this film but I didn’t really fall for The Purple Rose of Cairo.

Set in depression era USA our heroine escapes her mundane life, abusive unemployed husband and lack of money by buying a ticket to dreams or as we prefer to call them, the movies. She sees the same movie over and over again and eventually falls in love with one of the characters on the screen. Everything goes a bit cray cray at this point as the character jumps through the fourth wall and into her life. As far as I’m concerned everything went to poop right about that moment.

Maybe it was a dream but it would just be too convenient. The whole thing is played seriously  (as far as I could tell – maybe I was meant to laugh – I didn’t). Maybe I just don’t get Woody Allen movies.

I like the idea of movies meaning so much more than just moving pictures used to while away the hours, to me they are pure escapism and I love to immerse myself in the stories. I really think with a good film we can change our brains for a few hours at least and lose our worries. Some films have affected me for days afterwards (not just failure to sleep after a horror film either). I love that, unless the film is French and sad, then I hate that…

I would have loved to love this movie (and you baby) but it just didn’t work for me. Maybe if the characters had been a little less abrasive but then that’s the calling card of Woody Allen movies really. A new motto for Woody Allen movies – “Abrasive characters R us”… probably not a good selling point.

I wonder how people really spoke back in the depression era. The movies always depict the American twang the same. Know what I mean doll? Was it always high pitched and annoying (especially the women -eep!)? Was that considered cute or something? I wonder how Australians talked during the depression era – “Crikey, that’s a whopper of a croc mate!”. No, sorry, that’s 90s Crocodile Hunter Australian.

Anyway, The Purple Rose of Cairo was not my cup of tea or cuppa joe or whatever they drank in depression era New York. Not my cup of warmed water from a jar then.

River’s Edge

river's edge

Here’s a dark little ditty about unfeeling Generation X youth not feeling much at all and slowly zoning out of life. It’s as if they’ve all taken Valium and are just getting on with things while half asleep. When one of their number is killed by another member of the gang none of them can really feel much more than apathy which they realise and it’s devastating. Welcome to River’s Edge

The killer is never quite sure why he killed he just wanted the girl to stop talking. He didn’t love her, it wasn’t a crime of passion, it was just death. The dark apathy shown by these kids throughout the film is really sad and kind of scary. They decide they need to protect their mate but at the same time are conflicted by the fact that another of their friends is dead and the killer has no remorse. In fact he just tells them and then shows them the body. Their lack of reaction to her dead naked form is a truly devastating moment.

There is a sense of dread throughout River’s Edge which is odd because we know about the murder from the first scene. The dread derives from the inability of these teens to do anything combined with the driving need for something to be done. It’s like waiting for a bomb to time down to zero but not bothering to stop it even though you could.

The main character (wotshisname) is played by Keanu Reeves. This was back in 1986 so I figure it’s early days for Keanu (pre Bill and Ted’s, pre Dangerous Liaisons). I crush on Keanu Reeves – it cannot be denied. Every time I see him in a film I get a little thrill and I may as well be 16 again. I realise this is horribly wrong as I am very well aware that the man can barely act. He is an emotionless void of stiffness in almost every movie. Sometimes that works because that is what the character is like. Sometimes it does not. In River’s Edge I am not sure that either thing occurs. The character is meant to be stiff and emotionless… but Keanu still seems really stiff and emotionless. I get that teenage girls would like him because WHO WOULDN’T?? So the romance makes sense but unfortunately I don’t think Keanu was the right bloke for this role. Of course, I don’t care because I love him forever and ever.

Further along the ‘not the right person for the role’ path was Crispin Glover as the overbearing patriarch of this little group of zoned out teens. He sucked. Not just in character but in massive over-acting. He was really annoying and repeatedly removed me from the movie because I just could not understand why anybody would have him as the leader of their pack. Also his hair is the worst mullet ever. I could never follow someone with hair like that. The weird thing is it kind of looks like a wig. Why, director, why?

Crispin Glover

“I’m really sad because the director made me wear this terrible mullet wig. Not because I’m over-acting or anything…”

I’m very glad that in the end us Gen X-ers didn’t turn out so bad after all. We all got over our sad sack ways and got on with the important stuff… at least that’s what I comfort myself with… (OMG! What will we do when these arseholes run the world?!? Hang on – they already do! Watch out for the Gen X apathy apocalypse y’all!)

Living in Oblivion

living in oblivion

This movie is an oddball. A movie within dreams within a movie about making a movie with dream sequences. It’s hard to keep on top of the reality and the dream while watching a movie being made as if in a dream world itself. The blending of film and reality is blurry with actors being called by both their names and their character’s names as well as the crew bringing in their problems from home into the filmmaking experience.

I have no experience of filmmaking but I can imagine that directing a film, if Steve Buscemi’s character is anything to go by, is a bit like herding cats. Cats with overbearing egos and a massive belief in themselves and their abilities… oh, just like cats really.

Have you heard of this one? I obviously had because it was on The List but apart from that I didn’t know what to expect. Living in Oblivion is an unusual beast. It is a surreal look into the world of directing an alternative film while wrangling actors, sound guys, camera operators, mothers, dealing with blowout from relationship breakups and sexual encounters – the lot – even Tyrion Lannister (sort of).

We get to watch Steve as the director maybe going nuts or maybe not. Actors come and go while trying to put their stamp on his film and because they are the ‘names’ Steve has to work around them. Clearly the movie making experience takes over all their lives to the point that reality blurs and work becomes dreams (I hate that!).

What I liked about this film was the clever use of black and white for dreams but also for the eye of the camera. There are also a few excellent moments with actors re-shooting the same scenes over and over. One in particular stands out where Catherine Keener begins by giving an amazing impassioned performance but by the umpteenth take is no longer feeling it. That must be pretty much  what it’s like. Acting would be quite draining after a while, doing the same things over and over again.

There is no action and no real outcomes, just movie making. I really liked this film but I’m not sure why. It felt like watching a play and also like reading a short story. Maybe because you’re dropped in after the beginning and leave before the end – there’s more to be said and done but you don’t get to see it.

Interestingly this is written and directed by the same person, Tom DiCillo. Can you imagine how meta it must have gotten while directing a film you wrote about being a director directing a film? Meta!

The Dark Knight Rises

DKR

What can I say about The Dark Knight Rises? I can say it is very full of action. Very nice. I can say it is very full of Christian Bale. Very nice indeed and I’m sorry to see him leave the role. I can say it has one of the oddest speaking baddies of all time. Bane – you are weird.

What is with the way Bane speaks? He’s got his Darth Vader mask on so I get that it’s hard to speak and he’s quite breathy (time for Bane’s French lounge album release?) but why does he over articulate and over emphasise some words? I actually found it quite funny. I went about doing Bane impressions for a couple of days – “What do you want cat? Are you quite comfortable there? Can I pat your belly?” (You’ll have to add your own Britishy breathy Baneness if you really want to feel it.) Bane’s way of speaking is not sinister it’s silly. He is a tough and strong bad guy, stronger than Batman, and a real foe for the B-man but his voice is just ridiculous. Darth Vader works, Bane doesn’t.

I never quite understood why Bane is like that either but that was probably down to a small patch of sleepiness about halfway through DKR. I may have had a large meal and a couple of glasses of wine before sitting down to watch which, with the incredible length of this film, may not have been the best idea. Still I thought a Saturday night action film was the way to go. I’ll blame my couch, it is just too comfortable.

Also, we need to speak about Catwoman. What happened to Catwoman? I liked the deviousness and the willingness to do what needs to be done to get what she wants but there was no mystery and no strength of character. Just because we know what Catwoman is meant to be doesn’t mean we shouldn’t get a fully-fledged character revealed in the film itself. Anne Hathaway did a great job with limited room to move, not just because she was wearing the world’s most impractical leather jumpsuit, in terms of character development, but that is down to her skill as an actress. I liked the Michelle Pfeiffer Catwoman she really was bad/good and very catty. Let us never speak of the Halle Berry Catwoman…

My nostalgic favourite Catwoman - Eartha Kitt!

My nostalgic favourite Catwoman – Eartha Kitt!

I really liked the last 20 minutes of this film where it all comes together and you get a little bit worried and things make sense. I didn’t really like the last minute or so where we are spoon fed a gazillion happy endings (yes, exactly a gazillion…). I would have liked to have SEEN less and worked out more but I don’t think leaving it to the audience was much of an option in this one. Not much brain power required to watch DKR.

Overall this is an action film and Christian Bale is in it so I liked it but the second one is the best.