Spy (2015)

September 15, 2015 Leave a comment

Spy (2015) PosterWritten and directed by Paul Feig Spy is about a CIA assistant who gets placed in the field in an effort to stop the sale of a nuclear device.  From the poster the film looked like it would be a dull, unfunny and generally unremarkable film. On watching though this cynical assumption turned out to be entirely untrue and I am pleased that I was wrong.

As seems to be the flavour at the moment Spy is a spoof spy film, paying homage to tropes that have becomes synomomous with spy films from the start of the 00’s and earlier, before they became gritty like Casino Royale (2006) and the Bourne films (2002 onwards). There are fights, gadgets, quips and explosions but they are mostly tongue in cheek. It is nice that the film does not mock the genre to the point it becomes a farce ala Austin Powers International Man of Mystery (1997), instead it leaves some elements where the comedy is dialed back and some well acted scenes are allowed to come to the forefront. This is often the action scenes which serve as pleasant palette cleansers between story advancement and moments of more brevity and light-heartness.

In the action scenes the film seems to have drawn influence from Jackie Chan films, featuring physical comedy in physical combat, placing a frying pan on her head to deflect a knife stab while pulling a slight face is an example of such. The comedy is also brought from the excellent casting of Jason Statham who plays a caricature of himself, a gruff agent who is self assured, confident but whom is not quite as good as he would imagine himself and combined with his blue language drew laughter on multiple occasions. [Also any film that references Face/Off (1997) gets some early appreciation from me.]

The casting of the film is also one which raised a few eyebrows as they were announced, while Jude Law as a super smooth covert operative is not surprising or shocking the British cast who made it into the film was. Miranda Hart and Peter Serafinowicz both took fabulous roles and helped lift the film as the friend and very hands-on Itialian agent respectively. It is pleasing to see strong performances by Brits in American films without them being type-cast. [It is possible that there are some other Brits I have failed to notice but, C’est la vie.] Mellissa McCarthy taking the titular role as the Spy fitted it brilliantly, her timing was great and when she had to appear crest-fallen she pulled it off with great poise though she has many moments of mirth in the film.

The film is not a particularly complex one, but it does not set out to be one, it is entertaining though and one which could be re-visited at a later date. While it may lack the star power of Kingsmam: The Secret Service (2014) the film is more restrained in its asperations, aping the level of threat of Mission: Impossible (1996) opposed to GoldenEye (1995), with a more modest and real level of danger the movie seems to laughing with its source material rather than at it.

It is funny, has some good bits of action and does not take it self too seriously. If you are after an action film and want something light and a bit different pick up Spy and have a watch.

[The music for the film also featured a performance from the 2007 Ukraine Eurovision Song Contest, causing me great amusement and led to me playing the song on a trip I took to Edinburgh.]

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Categories: Films Tags: , , , ,

Child’s Play (1988)

Bad guy curses the cop – also stock sound effects for bullets?

If this took place now would the killer go into an ipad or something?  Because I’m not sure toy shops exist as they do in this film. – Also how big is this toy shop?  More to the point why would they re-sell this bloodied toy?  That now should have been blown up.  Police is invincible.

Obnoxious child making breakfast.  If this child had already seen the show how doesn’t he know about the toys?  Already don’t like this kid – he made his mother breakfast on his birthday?  Who does that?  — Perfect timed news broadcast.  Child is not happy about getitng jeans, no one is suprised.  How expensive is the freaking toy?  $100

Okay so this explains how the kid gets the doll – Boss is a dick – who’d have thought of it.  Suprised he isn’t eating an apple.

How often is this show being shown?  At 6:00am and at 17:00?  I thought she had to go back to work. – Perfect timed news broadcast.  Wouldn’t this killer be really irked about  having to live with a kid.  Hurrying the child up to go to bed?  Odd.

She’ll ruin her eyes reading in the dark.  eye level cam – chucky moves hella fast – curious if they used CGI or an actor for the out of focus shots of chucky.  Why would it be Andy?  Jump scare.  Jump scare – How late is this shop open till?  No one is going to be buying jewelery at like 23:00 – the store is empty and she’s making a bloody phone call.  Further a childs hammer isn’t going to be able to cave in a skull – no – it’s a freaking hong kong hammer – one tap sends her spinning so hard she flys out of the window.

No one stops the mother coming into the building – she just says she lives here and no one stops her – she also just flounders around the house and none of the cops care.  Cop says he’s homoside – she doesn’t think she’s dead?  This guy has no bedside manner and her falling out the window didn’t kill her – it was either the stopping or the being hit with a hammer.  Also cop doesn’t know what foot prints are.  He doesn’t know what he’s implying?  Questioning a child without a lawyer present.  Asking the woman who just got here what happened.  Also he just kicks out the police – doesn’t seem to care if they’d done their job or not.  Child is better detective than detective.  Cop seems to consider the doll was on the counter.  Cop partner is a dick.  There is no following of procedure in this film.

– Note on decor – looks authentic enough.  Kid says Chucky?  with an upwards inflection – kinda annoying.

Kid is told by doll he was sent from heaven – Child is more perceptive than adult woman.  – Doll needs to sleep.

Why is this kid taking a doll to school?  We weren’t allowed to bring toys to school expect on special days.  No one stops child leaving school, or says anything about him being on the transport.  How’d he pay for this?  The 80’s were a different time.

Child leave new toy on the chair in the middle of no where and oh, what a suprise the doll pegs it.Squalor with rats all over it – why are these the safe houses people choose?  Some how this house still has gas going through it?  That would have been shut off.  More gun sounds (by gun I mean laser)   Dude almost shoots the kid but doesn’t.  Explosion is way out of proportion.

Once again child is being questioned without a lawyer.  Okay – lets leaving the doll that’s threatened his life?  No?  Really your going to keep the freaking doll?  Has inflation been that bad that $30 is more than you can bear to lose even though this thing is threatening you kid?  And now we’re going to take it home and threaten it?  Waiting for doll to disaper when out of shot?  No?? Well done – I didn’t expect that.  Based on the mass of the thing IT SHOULDN’T BE ABLE TO DO A DOG F+ THING!  Don’t give up your advantage by going to it’s level.

And jump scare?  No – Doll torture?  Doll fights back.  That’s hillarious!  It did the deeper voice thingy!  A classic.

Halfway point – doll is alive and running free and now she goes to tell the detective – that doesn’t seem crazy in the slightest.  How is this classy jewlery store open till the small hours of the morning not a good place to be at “this time of night?” that shop seems to be freaking 24 hours.

Looking for the peddler we’re going to cut out the diolouge why?  Replace it with light if errier jazz and a montage of homless people shaking their head?  Really were’re going to have a rape?  No good guy cop shows up at perfect time – then threatens him rather than charging him with rape?  Where you going?  grab off?  Why would you tell a person that you killed a strangler?

Incredible leap of logic that the killer is now in the doll?  Really this cop is just telling her where this killer lived and he is now going to be persuaded to help her?  She is definetly coming off as crazy.

Doll behind driver – why is he stomping on the acelorator also what mass does this doll have and what hurts him?  Stunt driver looks nothing like cop

Why didn’t the doll just kill him?  Okay if they are playing up the evil killer bit.  And a gun shot throws chucky back – where’s the density of things? Also if he can’t be hurt why is he running?

Why did the land lord let him do this to the room?  It’s just sreaming out “here’s my crazy plan” Damballa? The detective didn’t think any of this creepy or suspect?

Voodoo dude is suprised by his own sucess.  Okay we know that he can be hurt – there is some exposition.  Rather than tell the evil dude you’re going to be turning him over to the police you could just pretend to help him and then voodoo him.

Keeping the child locked in a prision cell?  How awful is this place?  Also no windows?  It’s the middle of winter and dude is chilling with an open window with just a shirt?  Also chucky falls for the pillow under the bed technique.   Is this child drunk?  Doll fight pt 2? Doctor is a dick. Medical shock device can just kill you.

Hiding in cupboard.

Categories: Musings

The Runners (2013)

October 19, 2014 Leave a comment

I run, not particularly long runs and not all year round, mostly in winter when riding the bike isn’t so tempting.  I tend to listen to audiobooks or podcasts when I run, just to break the monotony of it all, because moving forward and raising one leg then the other can be rather dull, though at least when done out doors the scenery moves unlike when practiced on a treadmill.  Running isn’t as romantic a sport as boxing seems to be at least for cinema, I can only really recall Run Fatboy Run (2007) ft Simon Pegg as a film where running is the central plot, that is fine though as it leaves it as relatively untouched area for short and independent films.

The Runners (2013) is a short film that interviews runners, while they run.  By asking the questions and getting the answers while the stars are in motion we are given rather candid answers to some nice open questions which give a small insight into the psyche of those who don the lycra and take to pounding the streets.  There isn’t a judgement made by the film makers to the answers which allows for the audience to make up their own mind and how they would answer the question.

The premise is demonstrated at the beginning of the film when they ask if they can film the runner and ask some questions, we then cut to various runners in different times of the year being asked various questions, though the actual question isn’t heard by the audience, the response from the runner allows that to be inferred.

The film is broken up with establishing shots of Victoria Park and of runners.  The minimalist design of the film is nice and clean which helps make a connection between the runner and you.  Without adding in information like the name of the runner, the date of the run there is nothing to distract you from the answers being given and prevent you from bonding with each person who is talked to.

For a film about ten minutes long I don’t know if there would be any reason to not recommend watching this, while you may not agree with all the answers, you are not asked to.  As the whole thing is available on YouTube to watch I’ll provide a link and allow you to watch it, it’s better than watching another “Fail Compilation Video 2k14”.

 

Snowpiercer (2013)

October 5, 2014 1 comment

snowpiercer-international-posterEarth has frozen, everyone is dead and the world is a white barren place, well almost.  There is a small number of people left aboard a perpetual motion train that circles the globe.  This train has a class system, closer to the back the lower the Caste System, with the more affluent passengers riding closer to the front of the train where the inventor of the train Wilford (Ed Harris) has been raised to the status of a living deity.  The plot of the film focuses around the revolution that the tail passengers start in an effort to gain control over the locomotion engine.

—Possible Spoilers Below—

The film has a vibe of Terry Gilliam in some of the characters who contrast heavily with the main cast.  The tail passengers (those at the end of the train) all have a very grubby and grunge aesthetic with comparisons to the Matrix characters once they’ve jacked out of the machine being apt.  The antagonists however are wearing bright livery with a design that seems to borrow heavily from 1950’s high fashion with long coats and fur.  This clash of cultures works to show how different the living conditions are for those at either end of the train.

Once the revolution starts it works it way through the train and we are treated to some brisk action scenes that remind me of the raid in that the action is brutal but doesn’t seem to revel in itself the way something like hostel does, its utilitarianism in the damage doing enough to convey the destruction and primal energy but stopping short of becoming indulgent or pornographic.  The camera work varies through several unusual shots for the film including a first person sequence which acts as a pleasant palate cleanser.

The film does at points seem to be heavy with its message but that doesn’t prevent the film from being enjoyable and there are sufficient hooks in the plot to keep you asking what is happening and just how far down does the rabbit hole go in the film.  Once your shown the squalor that those in the tail live in you are then shown a rather unpleasant representative or two of the head of the train and from that point you know exactly who you’re rooting for.

The film is enjoyable, it keeps the main plot moving and throws enough surprises in to keep you from becoming bored but the run time does seem excessive and near the end the film does seem to slow before the climax but these are forgivable in a surprising film that for me at least came from nowhere.  If you get the chance to see it I’d tell you to take that opportunity.

Categories: Films, Geekery Tags: , ,

3 Days to Kill (2014)

3 days to kill posterCIA agent falls ill on a mission, discovers that he has terminal cancer and goes to spend his last days with his estranged daughter and wife.  While in Paris he is contacted by a CIA handler who wants him to finish his last mission, in exchange for some sort of miracle/experimental drug.  The film then follows Ethan (Kevin Costner) as he attempts to mend his relationship with his daughter while hunting down The Wolf.

Now, when I saw trailers for this film I was given the impression that this was an action movie, some thing along the lines of a retired cop coming back for one last mission, with gun fights, action, explosions, car chases and one liners. This film instead decides to spend more time showing Ethan rebuilding his bond with Zooey, his daughter.  Now while I’m not against this type of drama being in an action film I don’t really want the central part of the film to be eaten up with it, nor did I really need to see Ethan kick a bunch of youths who are about to do unspeakable things to his drugged up daughter only to be told that she didn’t remember what was happening in the toilets.  The film seems to be two distinct parts, the CIA work parts, shooting and violence with some interesting quips along with some wired strip-tease theatre and the family man trying to make up for lost time with his daughter and wife.  Now either part on their own would have been okay and I guess I’m more upset that the film didn’t make it clearer to me that this wasn’t Taken or it could have been an attempt to describe the work life balance that these agents have and the fact that you can’t take this work home with you but it didn’t feel like a cohesive film to me.  It had the feel of two scripts mashed together to make an overly long film with some scenes that felt entirely out of place.

Lets talk about the action, once again the film feels disjointed here with some scenes showing highly efficient and blunt action, men getting shot once, going down and staying down, but then the film, for no reason other than plot reasons, will have characters escape from a situation that should have killed them, or at the very least resulted in them having some injury, being left unscathed.  This breaks immersion for me, I am happy for your characters in a film to be tough enough to hit by squarely by a speeding car, fall of a bridge onto a paved floor and be fine, but only if this is consistent with what I’ve previously seen.  Don’t allow your characters to do this after everyone else is incapacitated by a light punch, it seems cheap and feels it as well.

On the note of cheap, lets mention the product placement that is rampant in this film.  You’d have to be blind not to notice it and it, like the note on violence above, breaks my immersion in the film, it’s okay that no one says, “Peugeot” but you have Ethan drive one of their cars, buy his daughter one of their bikes and stick a giant poster on the walls of the Metro for the scene.  It’s the same as the way that Ethan’s Samsung phone keeps being in shot in a manner that just doesn’t feel natural.  The S4 or S5 is a common phone and it is great but the way it’s being held just looks like an advert which irks me because it doesn’t seem in character.  As Ethan collapses due to his brain cancer he pulls out his phone, and I think uses some voice command to dial his handler.  It just doesn’t seem in character, he could have used the just dialled list as she was the last person to ring him but no they use some ham-fisted move to place in a subtle pump for Samsung.

As we approach the end of this, another issue I had with the film is they dangle death just in front of Ethan simply so he can be persuaded to work for the CIA again. Ethan in one scene is being told he has a few months and will not see Christmas, well that doctor needs to hang his head in shame as some syringe with a mysterious liquid seems to keep Ethan alive, it’s probably stem-cell research combined with babies blood and unicorn saliva, hell it’ll probably let him see another millennia if that’s what the plot required.  The medicine existing is not my reason for being upset, it’s a mcguffin that keeps the story moving and gives Ethan a reason to work for the CIA again, my grievance is that once again it comes off as uninspired, it is used to give this happy ending to a man who should be terminal ill and instead because of this drug he is as healthy as a spring chick.

The scenery was generally good, I mean it’s Paris, the European equivalent of New York it seems, if some thing is going down over in Europe it’s probably going to be in Paris, it looked nice and there was good contrast between Ethan’s apartment and that of his partner, who it seems never got a divorce of had anything going on as she stayed married to this man despite moving across the world, a contrast of basic items and luxury, we didn’t get treated to an extended tour of Paris which is a change but no one used the Louvre as a ramp which is a negative in my mind.

Luc Besson has come a long way and while I often like his films this time I feel it missed it’s mark.  The plot as a whole is disjointed, the action mismatched and the characters for the most part not all that likeable, Ethan does have development but it honestly feels forced and rushed.  The side characters are interesting and provide some light relief, in fact the jokes made by the support cast are quite good, Besson shows his talent when you get moments like the French police being unhelpful and screaming while watching a football match on an old CRT.  These moments though are not enough to carry the film and it ultimately feels like it missed the mark and overstayed its welcome by about half an hour.

As a sub point the director is simply McG, who after looking up is a great producer, but as a director, I think he has room to develop.

 

Hellraiser (1987)

HellrHellraiser-Posteraiser is the directorial debut for Clive Barker, it focuses on Frank who having found a bunch of BDSM alien/demons decides that being torn to literal pieces isn’t for him so he escapes and gets his ex-lover, who is now living with his brother, to kill people so that their blood will rejuvenate him.  This plan is ruined when the Kirsty (The brothers daughter) finds the cube that opens the gateway between worlds and alerts the Kinky-Pain-Alien-Demons that Frank has escaped and she can lead them to him if they’ll let her go.  The final third of the film is the resolution between Frank, the daughter and the aliens which ended up seeming a little cheesy at the end.

The scope of the film is quite limited, it is just Frank trying to escape his own personal hell and Kirsty trying to not end up in the same place.  Sure some people get killed but the film never veers into telling us that the world is danger or that if Frank isn’t sent back to his “Kinky-Kage” he will cause Earth to be invaded.  This contained plot is refreshing in a world where every film has such grand scope, by focusing on a small group of characters we get a chance see them develop.  Julia for example goes from reluctant helper to willing accomplice, which does earn her some comeuppance near the end of the film, its the kind of growth that is lost in a film with a cast of dozens.

Probably the most notable or memorable part is the special effects, the make-up on the Cenobites (the correct name for the Bondage-alien-things) is fantastic, their deathly pale skin contrasts strongly with the red of their gaping wounds, the make-up on Frank, who spends most of the film as a skinless man is similarly brilliant.  The whole asthetic of the delapidated house and bleak background scenery really does help strengthen the idea that the Cenobites and their pain/pleasure is an escape or release from the mundane and ordinary world.

Near the end of the film Kirsty discovers that the puzzle box can send the Cenobites back to their own world or at the very least away from this plane in what feels like an heavy handed way to have a happy ending, a door lintel falling on one of the antagonists further adds to this feeling which mars the end of the film.  Perhaps I’m overly cynical or just don’t like happy endings, but if Kirsty and her male friend had been taken I’d of been just as happy as if they stayed alive.  The film closing with a scene similar to the opening one however is much appreciated as it allows you to think that the cycle will continue, and seeing as they made several movies it’s safe to say that they did.

I’d suggest watching this if you’re filling in some horror genre blanks or want to see some neat make up effects but the script and acting didn’t stand out as amazing to me, though both served as good enough vehicles to advance the plot.  By not explaining much about the Cenobites or showing them to a great amount we aren’t bored of them by the time the movie ends, instead we are intrigued and want to know more about them, something that modern films could do a little more.