Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Keeping a similar feeling to 2006's Blood Mountain, it's epic in everyway! Check out under the pic for a link to a huge 1000x1000 version. Current release date is March 24th with the first single, Divinations apparently coming out on the 27th of Jan in the States...so in just a few hours then.
Mastodon are one of my current top three favourite bands and have been since late 2005. CtS has been a long time coming. Blood mountain blew me away and if I had too choose, it would be a contender for my fav album in the 00's so far. Early reviews of CtS have pointed to a much more rock based, prog sound (which was always going to be the case), which just makes my expectations even higher.
Expect gushing and/or unapproved man-love for the lads as the album release date gets closer....How sweet would this look on a vinyl??
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Unconventional director Darren Aronofsky has shaped a documentary-like film with The Wrestler, and like the central performance is unflinching, gritty and driven by severe emotion. It is debateable whether the character of Randy is a likeable one, but you are not really asked to choose anyhow. We follow him through his present day-to-day life and the film’s major achievement is that you cannot help but empathize with him - as if it was real life. As if The Ram is a wrestler in our world. In that sense too, the film avoids sentimentality but still manages to be profoundly affecting and at times, painful to watch.
The deft cutting is reminiscent of earlier Aronofsky films, Pi and Requiem for a Dream, and works well here to keep the pace brisk and break up potentially tedious dialogue-free scenes, as well as adding energy to ones such as when Randy is working behind a supermarket Deli counter. A subtle, precise acoustic score from Clint Mansell blends appropriately amongst the eighties hair metal Randy holds so dear, ultimately confirming that on a technical level, The Wrestler is scarcely flawed. The wrestling matches themselves flow with authenticity. It’s a credit to both Rourke and Aronofsky for not flinching during the handful of fights shown - making them feel real was essential, and they‘ve completely succeeded.
Exploring a relatively uncharted world in cinema, scriptwriter Robert D. Siegel gives us material that on the surface does resemble a clichéd story, but praise must be given to the eye for detail towards the underground wrestling circuit he demonstrates. It effectively kills any chance of formula pulling us out of Randy’s psyche of frustration and eventual acceptance of what he believes his life to amount too. Struggling to complete any relationship he has besides the ones he shares with his loyal fans, it’s seeing Randy risking his life trying to hold on to that what makes him feel human the most, which is genuinely heart-breaking. It's also what make The Wrestler an unmissable film.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Jonze’s vision has been under a cloud of “complications” it seems since it began production almost a good two years ago. This was always going to be a film with a heavy post-production period, but rumours of the studio initially rejecting the director’s first cut, requiring re-shoots and worst of all, potentially replacing Spike, seemed to have turned out to be just that; rumours. Even so, the film was pushed back too over a year from its initial release date. Jonze never commented, but words from the studio’s execs and one Forest Whittaker (he voices one of the Wild Things along side Tony Soprano himself, James Gandolfini) claiming all was well, was….well, reassuring.
For a film based on a seemingly important chapter in wine history, Bottle Shock’s major flaw is its almost forced elements of the relationships between its leads. It is not that padding such a distinctive story with dramatic liberties is bad, more that it is just not done that well here. A film like this does need something to keep the interest of non-wine aficionados in the audience, so the idea is acceptable, but the script fails to deliver a little more than a few solid moments of comedy and drama amongst a traditional Hollywood relationship arc. It is nothing you haven’t seen before, but its positives make it worth a watch (only once) with Rickman and wine fans certainly getting the most out of it.
Themes of opportunity, love, growth, life and death are consistent as we follow the unambiguous linear storyline, constantly moving forward. Engaging and quirky characters interweave the film throughout, with roundly excellent performances from all involved. Beyond Pitt’s effortless essay of Benjamin, Blanchett again proving she is the best female actor working today, Taraji Henson’s Queenie and Jason Flemyng as Thomas Button, deserve to be mentioned. The narration used to tell and introduce is delivered as well as one could have hoped with Pitt’s New Orleans’s drawl finely convincing.
I recoiled initially from the chosen narrative, of the journal being read by Daisy’s daughter to her on her deathbed. Beside the fact that this device brings unwanted comparisons to the vastly inferior, Forest Gump (note the same screenwriter here), a cut back to Daisy’s hospital room in present day, too rue or explain her regret about a certain situation, started to grow slightly tedious and almost into muddy cliché. Luckily Fincher pulls back before it becomes a nuisance or overly sentimental. It’s a close call, and I perhaps would rather have just seen the story unfold without it.
If you find yourself a bit too cynical too endure the message it provides of simply enjoying life and it’s never too late, it would not be so surprising, but you would be missing a wonderful experience. One that proves Fincher is someone who won’t be pigeon holed and without doubt, one the most interesting directors working out of Hollywood today.
Friday, January 16, 2009
Thursday, January 15, 2009
With the exception of 2006’s Lady in the Water, they’re never as unpleasant as some claim to be (I'm talking to you, The Village haters), but at the same time and despite dropping the twist gimmick, he seems to have hit a major wall in the last few years when it comes to finalizing his pictures. His latest oeuvre, The Happening, does contain a fresh take on the epidemic idea (ludicrous or not - and if you say it is stupid, then you must also dismiss a bunch of now regarded 'classics' of similar ilk), but in the end it can only be considered ordinary at best. So it seems Night is well and truly unable to re-create what he achieved in his most impressive work, Unbreakable.
The big question is though, was his breakthrough film, The Sixth Sense, that good anyway? If you believed the critics, he was the second coming of both Spielberg and Hitchcock. While it was interesting and original, it hardly has replay value. Perhaps the man, who arguably set the re-invention in motion of ‘the twist’ in mainstream cinema, gets a bit too much attention then. Shouldn’t we just drop the bar for the little guy already? It could be people ripping him to shreds or tripping over themselves in overstated praise, but the bottom line is, he is only a genre director with "Hitchcockian" ambitions, so why can’t he just make films without such scrutiny? Being egotistic is not enough to justify it, because there are HEAPS of egotistical filmmakers in Hollywood who don't cop it as much.
I consider the guy a decent storyteller, so I always walk into one of his films with only really that in my mind. I don’t think Night has really done anything to permit the size of the spotlight that’s on him is my point, but he’s no hack either. Brett Ratner is a hack. Woody Allen is an auteur. Stanley Kubrick is a master filmmaker. M.Night Shyamalan is none of the three really, but I understand it is easier to criticise than to praise. Maybe he should just focus on his strong point - the idea and conception, and then let someone with their feet closer to the ground take over. But he’s afraid to fly! He should be the most grounded filmmaker working today!
Part Two, the Captain's review of The Happening coming soon..