“Being Good At This Job Isn’t Very Beautiful…”
Brad Pitt. Marion Cotillard. Robert Zemeckis. Add into the mix screenwriter Steven Knight, best known for Eastern Promises and Peaky Blinders alongside a range of lesser work such as Burnt and last years’ unbelievably dire Seventh Son, and Allied could be regarded as a much anticipated meeting of the majestic, with all factors of the film’s main quartet being able to hit full stride when needed. Unfortunately for Zemeckis and co,. Allied isn’t exactly a work of cinematic art, in fact, it is far from it, with the film’s impressively strong beginning being offset by a shabby middle and end, alongside some strange plot decisions and an ending so fluffy it wouldn’t be amiss in a Disney movie. As for the film’s narrative, Allied follows the relationship of Max (Pitt) and Marianne (Cotillard) who fall in love after their success during a mission within German-occupied Morocco in the height of the second world war. After returning to London, Max is told some grave news regarding his recently wed wife, grave news which shakes his life to the core.
As is the perils of modern day cinema, if you’ve seen the trailer for Allied, which wouldn’t be much of a surprise seeing how it seems to be absolutely everywhere at the moment, you’ve basically seen the majority of the film, albeit the movie’s climax, a climax which isn’t entirely much of a shocker in itself, and this is a fundamental issue regarding the film’s overall quality. IF the big reveal wasn’t blasted at the audience before they’d even set foot into the cinema, maybe the attraction of Allied would have been less so but this may have been made up for in terms of shock factor when the reveal was made in the actual film. Who knows, and more importantly, who cares. Allied isn’t the best work to come from the likes of Robert Zemeckis, the man behind fantastic work such as Back to the Future and Forest Gump, and instead is rooted somewhere between the likes of What Lies Beneath and The Walk. A solid, if rather hokey, thriller sums up Allied but hey, hokey is good sometimes.
Overall Score: 6/10
“We’re Going To Wait Until They Feel The Pain, Until They Start To Bleed…”
To say Adam McKay was the last person on my mind to be at the helm of a film regarding the events leading up to and beyond the financial crisis of 2007 and into 2008 is quite a monumental understatement. Although previous movies of McKay, including Step Brothers, The Other Guys, and of course, Anchorman, have left with me with a fundamental sense of believing American comedy is well and truly heading down the toilet, The Big Short is a movie that tackles a ridiculously complicated subject matter for a member of the lay public without a background in hard economics, and throws in a surprisingly effective comedic element, one in which proves, when diverting from teeny-angst rubbish which has encompassed his previous selection of movies, that in fact, Adam McKay can in fact be a successful director in the hard-nut genre of comedy. With a strong band of actors such as Christian Bale, Steve Carell and Brad Pitt, The Big Short is a movie of a highly enjoyable pedigree, if one that ever so slightly goes over your head in a “I’m so much smarter than you fashion,” but hey, who the heck knows what a credit default swap is anyhow?
Based on the book of the same name by author Michael Lewis, The Big Short details three intertwining stories of events proceeding the financial crisis of 2007/8, beginning with Christian Bales’ slightly exuberant and wholly unsociable Dr. Michael Burry who predicts the impeding collapse and leading on to Steve Carell’s Mark Baum and Ryan Gosling’s Jared Vennett, all of whom are attempting to benefit from the ticking time-bomb of the US’s fraudulent housing market system. Like 99% of cinema goers who will go and see The Big Short, most of the film, I can freely admit, I was completely baffled, with the film being jam-packed with speech and set-pieces that make absolutely no sense whatsoever, with talks of hedge funds, CDO’s and subprime lending meaning absolutely zilch, and to be fair, it shouldn’t, I’m not exactly a top end economist. Thankfully, and critically, The Big Short knows this. Although its’ attempts to try and explain goings on with weird impulsed celebrity cameos just feel plain wrong, the film’s baffling nature is ultimately put to one side due to the sheer power of its’ actors and the swift nature of its’ comedic quips.
Star of the show is no doubt Steve Carell, whose character not only feels like the most three-dimensional out of the key components of the film, but it is a character that most people will find it easiest to associate with, especially in a stand out scene in which Baum is told straight-faced about the sheer unbelievable nature of the housing market by the creator of synthetic CDO’s, one of the core instruments in the downfall of the economy, a scene in which we witness Carell change from a state of interest to one of sheer shock and disgust. It’s a great scene and one in which embodies the hatred behind the capitalist, greedy nature of the US economy. If The Big Short makes you feel anything by the time the credits roll, it’s one that mirrors the state of Baum in such a scene. Hatred. Shock. Disgust. Feelings not aimed at the film in any sense, but feelings that are aimed towards the top one percent, those who watched millions fall to pieces around them whilst they sat and watched, earning profits in the process of doing so. The Big Short is not perfect by any means, but it is a film that encourages you to feel, and that, it sure did. Comedic in places, but straight-faced come the end, The Big Short is The Wolf of Wall Street reversed, attempting to show the sheer horrendous effects of greed and selfishness in a way that is enjoyable and entertaining whilst satirising the corporate nature of the US in the 21st century. Hollywood 1, Wall Street 0.
Overall Score: 8/10
In December of last year when I worked on the list of stuff I shall be keeping an eye out for, I noticed an unnamed David Ayer project featuring Brad Pitt, Shia Labeouth, Jon Berthnal, Logan Lerman and Michael Peña as a five man tank team during world war 2 in Nazi German towards the tail end of the conflict. Seeing we haven’t had a great war film in many years, the concept of approaching the conflict from the tank teams perspective was rather intriguing. As my love for Brad Pitt kept growing, my excitement for little titbits of news and information was building huge expectations in my mind. The trailer alone helped solidify what I was going to think of this film and to put it simply, the film was great.
During WW2, Nazi weaponry was typically far more advanced and their tanks were tearing into US units with ease. The tale doesn’t have a narrative that drives the movie like an action movie. Documentation springs to mind with its portrayal of the lives of those who fought in these tanks and the hardships they went through. After loosing their machine gunner, the Fury team were given Norman (Logan Lerman), a young man with no combat experience, 8 weeks in boot camp, never been in a tank and never killed before. Quite common in the time but we follow him as he is forced into the deep end with a crew of hardened fighters who don’t take kindly to having a weakness in the armour. The main character appears to be Norman. Over the 2 hours his character changes vastly and to see the conflict and infighting that gets him to where he needs to be is really engaging towards the audience. In this short period of time, we follow a boy become and man and what it makes of good men and the pain they went through to do their job. The final act is where the real action sets in with a convoy of tanks making their way too hold off a possible German advance but soon gets whittled down by a German tank. Upon defeating it, Fury stands on its own and carries its orders out until they hit a mine and lose one of the tracks. During repairs its found that Nazi forces are moving down the road and the final decision to fight or run is made. If I were to spoil it here, I don’t feel that would be fair. It ends rather dramatically with a blaze of glory and a barrage of emotions which I can only describe as epic. With its character driven story, it can feel a little slow towards the beginning when Norman is reluctant to do much but it grows even bigger with each step he takes.
From what I’m aware, the tanks used for filming were genuine vehicles and a great addition when you consider the over saturation of CGI in modern media. Visually the movie was great. I didn’t see any CGI that wasn’t the obvious blood splatter and shots on the tanks. Everything was fantastic in the visual department. The only issues that I do have were a few of the goofs. More down to the cutting and editing but switching from day to night in one cut was rather jarring. With the ringing of bullets and the roars of engines, the sound was clear and crisp. Enough to excite but not to deafen. Although with excitement we normally have music to help ramp the scene up. I don’t remember any of the songs and nothing really captured me enough to return home and search for whatever song was used (although I now probably will) like I enjoy and that’s a real shame for a movie that has prided itself on great cinematography and prop work.
There really isn’t much to talk about in the case of acting. We have a group of actors that have already proven themselves as adequate in many of their other appearances. Although Logan stands as the main, Brad Pitt steals it from him with a far superior performance and Shia was rather good. With his recent outbursts and nutty-ness, his career was in real turmoil but he has certainly managed to pick it up and be a part of something to really be proud of. The rest of the cast were brilliant too. There’s really no fault on their part. So my overall conclusion is that the movie is brilliant. The goofs can be forgiven but they are rather drastic and shows sloppiness by the cutting crews and there were some rather lengthy chunks of space that felt rather empty that didn’t achieve much for the flow. I seriously think the movie deserves all of the praise it is getting and I look forward to getting it on DVD with a few little extras and maybe a directors cut. My score for Fury is 8/10
Ever since the release of the teaser trailer, I was hooked. Checking back at IMDB on a regular basis to see any information about a release date, turns out you guys in America received it before us in the UK, I was only mildly peeved but then I remembered that we got Iron Man 3 and Thor so…yeah. HA!…
Anyway, after all the hype, I noticed a low score for it on IMDB and fairly mixed reviews. Trying to keep positive, we hurried to the release, only to come out wondering what on earth just happened. (Update – I just watched Prometheus and I’m just as confused). From what I can fathom, The Counsellor is about a partnership between “Counsellor” (Fassbender) and Reiner (Javier Bardem) who have expanded Reiner’s already booming drug business. Something goes wrong and their cartel connections decide to go around killing them. In terms of realism, the outcome is no where near what would typically happen. Portraying everyone as philosophical, highly educated players doesn’t really aid the movie in any form. If you do any research into these topics, the majority of the players have crawled from the bottom and lacked a lot of support and wouldn’t experience such literature.
So, the film’s story didn’t make sense and the cinematography reflects this. It shows a higher interest in the way the movie looks rather than flows. You jump from America to Europe, with not so much as a warning. Time apparently passed rather rapidly but you struggle to get to grips with the lay of the land. Visually, the movie is gorgeous. The blood, gore and shit (yes. Shit.) looks real and the crap certainly made me gag once or twice while the chopping off of the dudes head was epic. The focus and lighting on screen were beautiful and lavish set pieces really push the representation of being young and rich. Yet, there was many continuity errors throughout and they would stick out obtusely like a whore at a dinner party.
One of the redeeming factors for the film is its scripts. Even when they are being philosophical, what they are saying is strong and really resonates (even when factually wrong at points). A personal favourite is even in the trailer and said by Westray (Brad Pitt), “If your definition of a friend is someone who will die for you, you don’t have any friends” – It’s phrases like this that pop up continually throughout the movie and really pose moral questions in a thriller. It just doesn’t fit into the perimeters of the movie, which if the story was stronger, perhaps it could have really flourished. but then you have the screen play reering it’s head and pissing on the parade. We have scenes that are so obscure, not even Tarrintino would think of it. Malkina (Cameron Diaz) has sex with a Ferrari. You may be asking how, turns out rubbing your junk over the windscreen while doing the splits constitutes sex. I think the quote best describes it, “It was like one of those bottom feeders, sucked to the glass”.
Swiftly moving on, my final attack is at the acting. With A-listers everywhere, top quality acting is supposed to be insured, but we do have Penelope Cruz who only gets jobs because she’s willing to go that step further (sex talk with Fassbender and a weird ass opening scene of him, shall we say – “munching the rug”). Personally, I’ve never been keen on her as she lacks a lot of emotion and I can’t see the sexual attraction of many. My favourite was Brad Pitt, typically he gets a lot of grief for a few bad moves over the years but recently, he has stepped up his game (E.g – World War Z). Being given a cowboy middleman to play, you can’t expect much from him but he oozes with swagger. The minor mannerisms make his character, from the way he puts his hat on too the way he talk. It’s brilliant. At the end of the movie, Fassbender looks like he’s been on a children’s TV show and got gunked, spluttering snot everywhere without a care in the world. It’s almost cringe worthy then he did so well up to this breakdown. Javiers accent is killer and fits the role he plays as a psycho business man. With an accent like that, I feel he can play a criminal any day, just look at Skyfall! (I guess it helps that he can act too). Oh, let’s not forget Diaz who plays a psycho gold digging bitch with a wealth of knowledge and some cheetahs that fuck off when they get bored. Yeah, she played it fairly well, but I think many people could do it.
In total, the film was really weak. Most likely a flop or just about breaking even in the long run. Probably will be showing on BBC 1 at midnight in 10 years and ITV in 5. So, if you don’t fancy paying for it, it’s not long too wait. The movie deserves a 6/10. Putting my critical head on, you really do feel let down coming out of the movie when you haven’t had it explained to you. There’s very little excitement and you would think that a movie of this scale wouldn’t have so many cock-ups throughout.
I shall let you know now, I have no idea how to review this movie. My irrational phobia of zombies made this movie had to concentrate and the fact that I watch very little horror/thriller movies, gives me little, if any understanding of the genre and style it works in. But I shall give it a stab!
As you could probably have guessed, World War Z is based on a book which depicts the rise of an infection that mutates humans and creates the walking dead. It’s a simple plot, but the focus is more on the tension that can be built, alongside acting. The basic premise is the simple part.
Attention falls primarily on top of the tension builders. For instance, a scene – which is eerily reminiscent of Dead Island’s hotel scenes – we are working through the tight spaces of a lab with little weaponry and at a crawl to avoid zombie attention. Music builds at the right points, silently enough that it fills the scene without being obvious and every environmental sound pricks your hair up. The perfect mix of music and scenery made the whole cinema quiet, my sweaty fists crushing my girlfriends hand as I squeeze uncontrollably.
However, there is instances where tension is diminished and can be somewhat laughable. The dormant zombies do very little apart from repeating a movement continuously. As ominous as this sounds, a zombie bumping it’s head against a wall, just looks stupid. It doesn’t create a sense of mindless killer. We also come face to face with one which isn’t biting but acts like a hamster or rabbit which it munches on a carrot. The performance was laugh worthy, due to it being way over the top but the make-up was unbelievably realistic.
On the topic of performance, Brad Pitt’s was good; not amazing, but good. For the majority of the movie, the camera is focused on him and what he is looking at. We do also get a few variations from Brad, but we don’t connect to them very well as the have no character development and very little line. The characters that do stand out are the adopted son, and the family. The adopted son, comes out of nowhere and does nothing, the youngest daughter screams continuously while the eldest chooses to ignore instructions and almost get themselves killed and finally the mother. I swear down, this women just wants her husband dead and is extremely stupid! (You will see why, if not comment and I will tell you! xD)
On a final note, the cinematography is great, framing on certain scenes cut out things that are quite sick which helps keep a low age rating, but also factors out the excessive Tarrintino blood. We also have little snapshots of what Pitt is observing, all of which are clues for him to piece together – or the audience if you can work it out before him. Another scene is one of the first zombie encounters in Korea. The lighting of the plane, mixed with heavy rain and the screeches of ensuing zombies makes the scene incredibly vivid and the whole area sticks in your mind as one of the best sets I have seen.
So, I feel that my overall rating will have to be 7/10. Its smart use of the camera and the thrill-ride of a journey which had my heart pounding and my girlfriends hand throbbing were all great bonuses, but you do feel that certain characters are an annoyance, zombies behaviour is entertaining and the story was a little sparse.