One of the handful of DVD’s out this Monday, check out my review for one of my favourite pieces of cinema from this year so far!
Never Le Me Go
Never Let Me Go is a tough film to review, because unlike a lot of films where I can discuss a great deal of the plot without giving too much away, this film is one of those kinds where it twists and turns throughout. So to give anything away would be like revealing the final spoiler to films like Sixth Sense or Shutter Island. So if my review of this film seems brief then please forgive me, but use what I do tell you about the film and the performances given by the young cast, and my overall opinions, to decide whether you should see it or not.
As the prologue rolls across the screen you could be forgiven for thinking this is some sort of sci-fi flick. All it shows are a brief couple of paragraphs outlining that, in the early 1950s and 60s, a way was found to cure thosee incurable diseases of the world, and that people were living more and more into their 100s of years than ever before. And that’s really as far as that idea goes to begin with. You find out more over the course of the film, and a lot of what is going on if left for you to work out. Every new question you have is answered almost as you have just managed to piece it together in your own head, which really surprised me as I normally like to think that I am a step or two ahead of the average film.
But this film is anything but average. Mark Romanek’s film, scripted by Alex Garland, and adapted from the original novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, is a beautifully profound insight into life, love and death. The cast and crew behind ‘Never Let Me Go’ truly deliver a piece of cinema that demonstrates the best and very worst of human behaviour, the beauty of a love that, although stunted, lasts the lifetime of the character involved, and the pure heroism of accepting the responsibility of fate.
A lot of people will say the film is morbid and saddening, but despite the melancholy tone and bare, understated feel to the entire production, the story is memorable and almost uplifting when thought about afterwards. It’s a film that you will love or hate, but you won’t necessarily know which until some time after the film has ended. It took me and my friend a good couple of hours, and a bit of thought and discussion, for us to really get a feel for the film. I came out of the film knowing that I liked it. It was the why that baffled me for a little while.
Though the film has been tipped for very few of the higher nominations this awards season, it is quietly brilliant in a way that, the reward for the actors and crew, is probably the enjoyment of the few people out there who will love this film for what it is. I saw this in the premier screen at the cinema, and it was less than two-thirds full, and probably a quarter of those people walked out over the course of the film. Most were complaining that the film was boring or that nothing was happening. And although the film has a slightly uneven pace at times, it is anything but boring.
Insightful is the word. It really delves in to what makes us human, and brings up so many thoughts and conversations and topics that you don’t have every day, and suddenly find yourself discussing, literally, matters of life or death following the film. This is what Hereafter SHOULD have been going for and completely missed the mark on last week, and Never Let Me Go didn’t need a Tsunami or Matt Damon to get the messages across.
Strong, noteworthy performances from the younger cast, who played the pre-teen versions of Mulligan, Knightley and Garfield, not only set up their respective characters nicely, but got the mannerisms and looks for their respective older counterparts down perfectly. Andrew Garfield (form the Social Network, and also the new Spiderman film) standouts out as Tommy, and Keira Knightley is strong as always as Ruth. But I, like many other reviewers have agreed, felt it is Carey Mulligan who steals the show as Kathy. Quietly passionate at every turn, and never once is her part over or under played.
The film does play out slightly differently to the book, which does go for the big reveal at the end of the story, whereas the film lets it slip halfway through, but many fans of the book have been fans of the film. It is almost as if you need to go into the film within the mindset that you are watching a foreign film. ‘Never Let Me Go’ is that different sort of disturbing in modern cinema, and certainly doesn’t try and take a backseat to the emotion and power behind the script, even if the middle third of the film just inch along a little slowly, as mentioned earlier.
Mark Romanek is, my reputation, an outstanding music video director, and ‘Never Let Me Go’ is only his second feature film, although you wouldn’t know it. Romanek shows a maturity and patience behind the camera that is not only rare for young filmmakers but for veteran ones as well. His use of focus leads to one of the most beautifully shot films of the year so far.
And that really is all I can say for ‘Never Let Me Go’. It’ll be a definite DVD purchase for myself (27th June), but some less brave readers out there may want to rent it first. The pace as tone is reminiscent of the relationship scenes in Brokeback Mountain, quiet and slow-paced throughout, but continuously riveting. So if you enjoyed that, or have a fondness for slower paced foreign films, with a twist, than ‘Never Let Me Go’ will be for you.
Yes the iPod Touch is very pretty and shiny, but it is needed for work! I promise.
Okay, mostly work. First new title for me to review on it is iShot Pirates for iPhone, iPad, iPod and so forth. It’s a neat little game but need to spend a bit more time with it. This is a review for MidLifeGamer.Net so will not feature directly on this blog, but I will link through to it.
It’s been quietish on the news front, I am looking to do daily updates of mini-bulletins (like I do on my radio show) and am in the process of planning this out. So every day there will be one main news blog, with a bit of movie news, game news, music news and anything else that might be of interest.
Reviews still to come this week: The Fighter on DVD (I promise this will appear at some point), Bad Teacher and, if I get through some more of it, Dragon Quest IX, and of course the aforementioned iShot Pirates.
Next week is a little quieter on the movie front, as I only need to catch up with Bridesmaids, and then of course Transformers 3 hits down. But there is a lot of new music next week from Beyonce, a live album from Biffy Clyro, and plenty of DVD reviews I can get up as well, including Never Let Me Go, amongst others.
All this and a new 12 hour a week gym regime. Wunderbar.
Guess who got their new (free) iPod Touch today! Haha! Proper update later this evening, the gym is calling to me!
Okay, a little later than expected (forgive me for wanting sustanance after my gym session), but here it is, my review for the umpteenth Superhero movie of the summer.
Well, another week, another Superhero movie. I feel like I should be getting a card stamped for every one I attend. Maybe after I’ve seen nine of them I can force someone else to go and see the tenth. I will give some credit to Green Lantern for being different to the rest of the Superhero films that we’ve seen so far this year. It is more kid friendly than Thor or X-Men: First Class, and has a far lighter tone than both of those films as well.
Ryan Reynolds is playing Ryan Reynolds doing an impression of someone pretending to be the lead male of the film, Hal Jordan, a test pilot with a penchant for being a womaniser, as well as one of those guys who you would get along with but secretly curse for his good looks and talent and oddly deeper-than-usual voice. Seriously, I don’t know if Reynolds was trying to channel Christian Bale from the newest Batman movies, in which Bale’s voice is so gravelly you could pebbledash a house with it. It sounded unnatural coming from Reynolds, and sometimes it slipped back into his normal, much higher, voice that we are used to from his comedy workings from the past fifteen years or so.
Anyway, the film opens with a big set up for future events, with Hal testing some big fighter jets with female co-star Blake Lively. Her father owns the company that produces these military jets and she is his next in line from all accounts. Blake manages to do better in this film than Natalie Portman does as her character in Thor, if only because at least Blake’s character, Carol Ferris, and Hal Jordan have known each other for some time, and have some chemistry built in already. Portman’s chemistry with Thor was barely one peg above the chemistry exhibited by herself and Hayden Christiensenn in Star Wars Attack of the Clone. But Blake Lively is the absolute antithesis or her ridiculous surname. She may not be useless but by lord is she blander than porridge oats mixed with dishwater.
It is shortly after the unsuccessful test flight, that Hal Jordan is chosen by a fallen and injured purple alien, known as a Green Lantern, to become his successor and protect this neck of the Milky Way with a fabulous suit and tacky ring. My problem is that the alien that crashed, having been attacked by the film’s main baddy-more on that in a moment- sent out his ring to find a successor. It takes barely five minutes to pick up on Hal, having seemed to be bored of searching for someone after the first couple of square miles of wasteland and rivers nearby. Hal’s subsequent training on the digitally created planet Oa, home of the Green Lantern Corps, the place where all the Lanterns from al the races of aliens across the universe live, is equally stunted, but there is no doubt in your mind that those five minutes of training would undoubtedly mean he would save everyone and win the day, despite being faced by space Kraken.
Yes it would appear Kraken are not restricted to pirate films these days. And just about everything is ten times cooler when you place the word “space” in front of it. Parallax, a former guardian for the Green Lanterns, who then turned to the dark side (or in this case, the yellow side) was sealed away many years ago because he wanted to use the bad, yellow power of fear as oppose to the good, green power of will. I wonder if there is some grey power for not giving a toss. Anyway, as it turns out the purple dude who crash landed on Earth was the guy who sealed Parallax away, and, actually, you know what, I can’t say Parallax without thinking it is some sort of rectum paralyzing drug to ease the problems of constipation… But it’s okay because we have another baddie in town…
Well sub-baddie. Parallax Lite, if you will. In fact he may as well have not been there at all. They could easily have done more setting up of the main baddie, more exploratory insights to the world of Oa, or Hal’s relationship with Carol. But this is a film which already feels like 75% set up for this film, and possibly more to come, which then just fizzles out towards the end. Peter Saarsgard gets a mention for his role as Hector Hemmond, a scientist who, it would seem, is meant to be the same age as Hal and Carol, but looks like he should be about 40-something. I don’t whether this lot all went to school together, but Blake Lively character looks ten years younger than Ryan Reynolds’ (as she is in real life), yet they were childhood friends/sweethearts-to-be, so am not entirely sure what’s going on there. Hemmond has some mildly villainous parts, but is soon screwed over by Parallax and just spends most of his time on screen screaming at anyone that so much as mentions the words “daddy issues”.
Finally, the 3D and CGI, as that’s what you obviously all care about in my reviews these days. I would put Oa just a point or two below Asgard from Thor, if purely because we don’t get to see nearly as much of Oa. The CGI Green Lantern suits looked fine and I wish the comic book fans would stop spewing out impossibly low scores for this film just because the costumes aren’t the same as the comics. I did my research (don’t know quite where I found the time) and, yes, Hal Jordan had a green, zip-up jump suit kind of deal, but he eventually had a suit made of the energy from the ring of power. Would we really have wanted to see Hal Jordan get undressed and redressed every time he wanted to get into his green trackie bottoms and top? Okay the mask looked a bit naff, and some of the effects overall seemed outdated, with the childishness of Spiderman 3 and the outdated quality of Spiderman 2. I couldn’t stop watching the back of Ryan Reynolds neck when he was in the suit, as it kept moving around like he was being consumed by a sheet of snot.
So, a recommendation for Green Lantern? Why not? Go for it. I enjoyed it more than Thor, it was a different tone to X-Men and will undoubtedly be forgotten about in a few weeks time when Captain America comes out. Oh, and stay ‘til the end of the credits. I foolishly forgot that no film can end these days without pulling this stunt, so sit tight and wait for the teaser for an inevitable sequel.
No idea who sang that lyric, it’ll come to me at some point.
I am currently writing to you from my bed, because I feel like I slept on a pile of bricks as oppose to anything resembling a mattress, but I must make haste and travel to Felixstowe for my radio show this week.
Special features LIVE today will be my reveiws for The Dragon Haven, The Beaver and Dragon Quest VI, which of course many of you will have read here on my blog, but feel free to listen to this week’s feature review- Green Lantern, which will be posted shortly after the show if you do not get a chance to tune in.
107.5fm if you are local, or Here for the link to listen to me stream live through Media Player/iTunes etc. I am Live from 2pm GMT/BST, and will be featuring my reviews, as well as news from the entertainment world this past week, the Buff Releases for the coming week, the Mailbag and the Trailer of the Week!
I will be on Twitter (@buffreviewshow) and Facebook (/buffreviewshow) throughout, so feel free to ask for shout-outs and song requests if I can slip them in! See you at 2pm!
At time of writing, it has been approximately fifteen minutes since the end of The Beaver, starring Mel Gibson and Jodie Foster, whom also made her directorial debut in this film. I needed to get this review written up nice and sharpish, so without further ado, here is the review for one of the oddest, yet most heart-warming, pieces of cinema I’ve seen this year.
Well we might as well get the plot synopsis out of the way with first, as any of you who’ve not seen anything about this film prior to it’s release last Friday, will and are fully entitled to be slightly confused by the trailer and the film’s concept. In fact, if you take out the titular rodent in question (second largest rodent after the capybara no less, thank you Wikipedia for that nugget of information), the film would play out as a very ordinary, incredibly familiar film that is simply acted better than your average 2.4 children destruction of a family affair.
Mel Gibson is Walter Browne, CEO of a failing toy company, the reigns of which were given to him by his dead father in place of anyone with any sort of competency. Walter has lost his way in life, and his already strained relationship with his wife Meredith, played by Foster, as well as a distanced connection with his two sons, Porter and Henry. Walter has severely lost his way in life, and is dealing with severe depression, which leads to a handful of failed suicide attempts within the first few minutes of the film (nothing too graphic, it was almost Laurel and Hardy in style). Prior to the failed attempt on his own life, Walter is dumping some of his personal belongings from the banged up car he is rattling around in, making room for necessities such as whiskey, scotch, bourbon, vodka and so forth. In the dumpster he comes across a (surprisingly clean looking) beaver hand puppet.
Flash-forward to post-shower-rail-related-comedy-moment, and Walter wakes up with the hand puppet attached to his hand (naturally), and finds it talking to him, or finds himself talking to himself through it, or, whatever, complete with a cockney-mockney accent. Actually, I would go as far as to say that the accent wouldn’t be out of place in an episode of Eastenders, and gives Shane Richie a run for his money in terms of cheeky chappiness, but with a darker side. Think Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins, if every so often Bert would stop humming a tune while sweeping the chimneys and mutter something under his breath, before booting a nearby pigeon off the rooftop and onto unsuspecting children down below.
With the Beaver on-hand (someone find me a snare drum and a cymbal) Walter turns his life around, restoring himself in the eyes of his wife, co-workers and youngest son. Not so much with the eldest son, but he is too busy in a completely different film altogether which only tangentially links to the Mel Gibson side of the movie by proxy of being on the screen at the same time. It isn’t as jarring by the end of the film, and of course the message the film is trying to get across emanates throughout every character, major or minor, but it was almost a depressive teen movie being shown during a depressive adult movie. I guess I have to look at it as the father living through the Beaver, and his son living through other people (he does their homework and assignments and whatnot for good money.
The introduction of the Beaver to Walter’s family is, naturally, tentative at first, but they believe it is part of a psychological process prescribed by a doctor. Why they seem to believe this is beyond me, it’d be like prescribing daily doses of Bert and Ernie to combat the flu. What I fail to believe though is that none of his employees find it odd, and are all very accepting of their CEO existing through what is essentially a brown oven mitt with eyes and teeth. I tried to suspend my belief as best as possible, but in the end I just couldn’t accept that EVERYONE was okay with this, and that no one sent for the men in white coats and the biggest syringe of Valium (or animal tranquilizers) they could carry. I had the same problem with Foster’s character, it seemed she couldn’t grasp exactly what she had to do to try and help his husband through this. There is a scene about halfway through where Meredith and Walter are on an anniversary meal, and the entire film just flips on itself!
The second half of the film soon loses a lot of the light-heartedness that was present early on, and on a pivot goes from light to sinister. Make no mistake: this is a film about depression. This is not a look at family life in general, or the use of puppetry in the media, or a teenager boy-meets-girl flick. The last thirty minutes of The Beaver makes this fact very clear, and manages to overshadow any doubts and issues I had with the earlier parts of the film. Viewing Walter’s rapid decent and escalation through the side effects of depression, and the effect this has on his family and his health in general, was truly powerful and a real shock to me. The scores and plaudits this film has received have ridden, and indeed been amplified, by that third act.
With stunning performances from a varied cast, in age and in experience, ‘The Beaver’ is a real treat, but is a niche film for an incredibly niche market. Very few people will end up seeing this in cinemas, which is a shame, but I hope that this review will convince a few more of you to go and check it out. With it’s unique view on the topic of depression, and great blend of light comedy and dark, thought-provoking drama, this comes with a huge recommendation from me. It’s just such a shame it is being lost amongst Thor, Pirates and the huge selection of other big blockbusters.
I’m not overly fond of animated sequels…
And now, with ‘Puss In Boots 3D’, arriving in November, we have found our first (I think) Animated-Spin-Off. Initially, when this was announced at the start of the year, I was incredibly sceptical. However, upon seeing this new trailer, I feel a bit more comfortable of the idea. Although Zak Galifianakis is voicing Humpty Dumpty in this, so if the whole shindig turns out to be a PG version of The Hangover I shan’t be impressed…
The film has more of a feel and flavour of westerns and the Zorro films that have inspired the character of Puss, (and, of course, in which Antonio Bandares once starred) as oppose to the pure fantasy and fairy tale themes that ran through the Shrek saga.
It was originally planned as one of those straight-to-DVD films, but after the release of the third film the direction changed, as it was set to be a full release. Antonio Bandares commented, after the release of Shrek Forever After last year, that he had completed his voice work for the film.
Full trailers are expected to be shown during the summer before most other animated and children’s films released. Check out the latest trailer below.
Hitting the gym pretty hard at the moment. Don’t quite know where I am finding the time, but it’s happening. Anyone finds out about any extra hours going in the day, please let me know, I could do with at least two extra hours for being witty and generally charming alone.
Anyway, gym session meant less writing/reviewing done today, however I have picked up a copy of The Fighter, so I think it is only fair I give it a re-watch (the opening credits are rolling as I write this blog), and then post a decent review for it tomorrow!
Also on the chopping block this week: The Beaver (seeing it at the cinema tomorrow), Green Lantern and Bad Teacher (seeing both of them on wednesday) and Dragon Quest IX (I’m making good headway on it, much faster than DQVI was). So that’s three film reviews by week’s end and a DVD review, might give a good week of my time to DQIX before reveiwing it, and of course there may be other DVDs/Videos that will crop up. Another Year, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and City of Lost Children are all on the ‘Hurry Up and Bloody Well Watch Me Pile’…
New poll went completely out of my mind, so will stick one up tomorrow morning. Need something nice and juicy to get the voters coming in!
Ooh, choices for tonight are:
City of Lost Children on VHS (special review request from a friend)
Another Year on DVD (courtesy of LoveFilm)
The Day The Earth Stood Still on TV (bleh…)
And failing all of the above,
Dragon Quests 6 and/or 9 for the DS.
Ooh, decisions decisions! =D
(Also, Battlestar Final Season is sitting in the DVD player already, so might just give that a go!)
Anyway, last bit of business for the night. ‘The Fighter’ is also out on DVD tomorrow, but my computer has lost my review for some reason. Will try and rewrite it as best as possible, and get it posted by tomorrow evening! Night all!
Muppets were a big part of my childhood. If there was a TV show or film or game or toy made by Jim Henson that I didn’t own, well it didn’t exist! And now, with mixed delight, a new revamped and hopefully rejuvenated team are back, bringing the Muppets into 2011!
There was a teaser trailer out two weeks ago, but the full trailer has recently been released online! Thought I’d post it up here as I got a good reaction to the Harry Potter Trailer I posted earlier this week.