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Non-Review Review: The Great Gatsby (2013)

The Great Gatsby feels like candy floss for the soul. A little of it is tempting, even appetizing. It was a curious texture, a strange sense of lightness, but also curiously heavy. Appealing to look at, and fun to pick at, it’s not something to be digested in large portions. The opening fifteen minutes of The Great Gatsby pop and sizzle, as Luhrman blends stylish visuals with an inability to keep anything still. The cameras, the actors and even the scenery seem to be moving to a beat – one occasionally intruding on the sound track. Such energy and vibrance is hard to resist, but it’s also exhausting – as much for the film as the audience. Once the movie settles into its own style and routine, it winds up feeling a lot like its protagonist. You’re not quite sure it’s really there.

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12 Movie Moments of 2012: Running (Shame)

As well as counting down the top twelve films, I’m also going to count down my top twelve movie related “moments” of 2012. The term “moment” is elastic, so expect some crazy nonsense here. And, as usual, I accept that my taste is completely absurd, so I fully expect you to disagree. With that in mind, this is #8

It is quite common to see New York presented in an unpleasant light. After all, Martin Scorsese’s films capture the metropolis at its very best and its very worst, and there are countless gangster films devoted to exploring the dark underbelly of a city that is easily one of the most recognisable in the world. I have never been to New York, and yet I feel like – through years of film-watching – I have come to know the city almost as if I have lived there.

As such, I was surprised when Shame managed to offer me a somewhat novel take on New York itself. The city is as much a character in the film as any of Steve McQueen’s supporting cast. (Indeed, Carey Mulligan even gets to perform an extended version of “New York, New York” in tribute to her co-star.) McQueen manages to craft a distinctly unpleasant and uncomfortable exploration of the city without resorting to any of the trite clichés that one associates with the horrors of urban living.

Indeed, one long single-take shot of Brandon running within the confines of the city offered a more powerful sense of urban anomie and isolation than I have ever seen before, presenting a cold blue city completely indifferent and unaware of the millions of people living within the city limits.

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Non-Review Review: Shame

Shame is a masterpiece, a master class in cinema, and the perfect example of a director and lead actor working synchronously and seamlessly. The movie wouldn’t work without director Steve McQueen willing to push it as far as possible, knowing when to pull back and when to dive in, matched by Michael Fassbender’s fearlessness, throwing himself into a naked performance. (This is where I make a cheap joke about it being “in more ways than one.”) Shame is pretty much the perfect note on which to start 2012.

Stands out from the crowd...

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My Best of 2011: Drive & Neon Noir…

It’s that time of the year. To celebrate 2011, and the countdown to 2012, I’m going to count down my own twelve favourite films of the year, one a day until New Year’s Eve. I’m also going to talk a bit about how or why I chose them, and perhaps what makes this list “my” best of 2011, rather than any list claiming to be objective.

Drive is number one. Check out my original review here.

If I drive for you, you give me a time and a place. I give you a five-minute window, anything happens in that five minutes and I’m yours no matter what. I don’t sit in while you’re running it down; I don’t carry a gun… I drive.

Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive isn’t a revolutionary film. It isn’t bold or original or highly inventive. Instead, it’s just a wonderfully effective neo-noir with its vibrant colours and synth soundtrack calling back to crime films of the eighties, featuring a confident performance from Ryan Gosling as the archetypical male crime lead. Gosling is strong, stoic, silent, yet strangely sensitive as the eponymous stunt driver, who moonlights with various illegal extra curricular activities. Here, Refn manages to out-Mann Michael Mann, producing a film that seems more like the spiritual successor to Miami Vice than Mann’s own film of the same name. It’s a brutal, brilliant and stunning film. And, while it faced stiff competition from the second and third films on this list, it’s with some confidence that I recommend it as my favourite film of the past year.

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Non-Review Review: Drive

This movie was seen as part of Movie Fest, the rather wonderful film festival organised by Vincent and everybody else over at movies.ie. It was well worth attending, and I’m already looking forward to next year. Good job all.

Drive took home Best Director at the Cannes Film Festival, and it’s easy to see why. This pulpy retro crime thriller is an intense joyride featuring what might hopefully be a long over-due star-making role for Ryan Gosling.

Gosling has an impressive body (of) work...

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Non-Review Review: Wall Street – Money Never Sleeps

The words “too big to fail” are, understandably, bandied around quite a bit over the course of Oliver Stone’s Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. While they refer, of course, to the bloated financial institutions holding the world’s democracy to ransom, it’s hard not to get a sense that they could also apply to Stone’s film. The financial crisis continues to prove that Stone’s original Wall Street was a powerful condemnation of all-consuming unchecked capitalism, and one might assume that the timing is right for a sequel. Indeed, Stone’s attempts to make his movie reflect on the harsh economic climate are admirable – but one gets the sense that the director is unable to decide where to focus the camera. As a result, the film loses a lot of its punch as it jumps around from macro-economics to personal tragedies without thinking too much of the gap between them.

Family fortunes?

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Wall Street Guy

What with my review of Wall Street going up today and the release of Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, I thought I’d post this quick bit of marketing genius from the guys over at Fox. Basically, somebody in the marketing department must have discovered that they were releasing a Family Guy DVD boxset on the same day as the 20th anniversary edition of Wall Street, and though it would be hilarious to mash-up Gordon Gekko and Stewie Griffin. It’s a fun little clip, and it shows that the marketing at the studio doesn’t exactly take itself too seriously (after all, I doubt there was too much overlap between the two fandoms), but it works.