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Non-Review Review: The Impossible

The Impossible looks and sounds fantastic. It is very well put together by J.A. Bayona. Cleverly opting to use practical effects wherever possible, and shooting on a gigantic water tank, Bayona provides a visceral experience worthy of any blockbuster disaster movie. Indeed, were The Impossible based on fictitious events, it might be enough to make it a powerful and emotional film. Unfortunately, as the film is so desperate to let you know (placing “true story” captions at the beginning and the end of the movie), The Impossible is based on the true story of a tsunami that caused untold damage to Thailand displacing up to 60,000 residents.

Without spoiling anything, The Impossible ends with the shot of a plane crossing the ocean, a voyage home. There’s no real sense of any of the lasting consequences of the truly horrific disaster that befell the countries in the Indian Ocean.

It's a washout...

It’s a washout…

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Watch! Trailers for The Impossible and Song for Marion…

I love me some Terrence Stamp.

Okay, a lot of that love is rooted in the fact that he was cinema’s best comic book supervillain for well over a decade, playing the iconic Zod (of “kneel before…” fame) in Superman II. However, as I grew older, I came to love spotting Stamp in all manner of roles – whether serious, comic, subversive or even random. Whether it’s small roles in comedies like Yes Man or Bowfinger, or leading performances in films like The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, I just have a massive fondness for Stamp. (It’s a fondness, I must confess that extends outwards to other British actors of his generation, including Malcolm McDowell and Patrick Stewart.)

Anyway, I just received this trailer for Song for Marion, and it looks like it could be fun. Stamp plays a grumpy old man who gets involved in his wife’s choir. Oh, and Christopher Eccleston plays his son. It’s strange, but somehow brilliant casting. Anyway, the clip is below.

There’s also this trailer for The Impossible, starring Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts. It’s the story of a family struggling to survive the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. I’m very curious to see how this plays out, because it’s a premise that really needs to be handled with a great deal of care.

Non-Review Review: Haywire

Steven Soderbergh is an interesting film maker. Even when his films don’t really come together as well as one might hope, you can’t help but admire some of his bold ambition. Contagion was probably one of the boldest major releases of last year, and it was always fascinating even when it was just short of brilliance. Haywire falls into a similar trap, with some nice ideas, some great scenes, but nothing that really melds into a particularly compelling film. Indeed, Soderbergh’s spy thriller is messy, undoubted as the director intended – but it doesn’t seem like a highly-energised kinetic mess so much as poorly-plotted and muddled mess. The result is a film that is occasionally invigorating, but also quite infuriating.

On top of it...

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Thinking Outside the Box: When Does Reality Subtext Overwrite Fiction?

It happens every so often, to the extent that I’m actually quite used to it. I’ll be either listening to Michael Jackson on my headphones, or mention in passing a bit of trivia, or name the musician as one of the most impressive of all time. And, undoubtedly, there will always be someone who will retort with, “Yeah, but he was a pedophile.” And that will be that – pretty much everything that Jackson has accomplished will be a moot point. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not arguing one way or a nother, I just feel a little bit curious as to where the line between what happened in real life can prevent or undermine an artist’s work.

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Non-Review Review: The Ghost

The Guardian once made a point that what distinguishes British writers from their American counterparts is that they simply refuse to ascribe to simplicity would could be blamed on malice:

The conspiracy theory has become an off-the-peg solution for ­writing about politics in ­Britain – to the detriment of writing, politics and Britain. If The Wire had been made here, its hero McNulty would have discovered that Baltimore’s problems were not the result of a shortsighted political culture, or the weakness of ­human ­nature, but were the fault of one property ­developer in a polo-neck.

It’s an astute observation, rendering The Ghost a very British reflection on the most turbulent legacy of a recent Prime Minister.

How will Lang keep his spirits up?

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Non-Review Review: I Love You, Phillip Morris

I Love You, Phillip Morris has ‘niche’ just oozing from every pore. Although it’s obviously comedic, there’s more than a hint of Carrey’s dramatic aspirations in the air. Cynical film viewers will suggest that this movie, with two recognisable actors in a gay romance, has missed Oscar season by a few months. It’s based on a true story, which rarely bodes well for a comedy. It’s a movie that’s it’s very easy to by smug and cynical about. Which is a shame, because it’s really a very charming and effective romantic comedy drama.

Carrey on...

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Awards Season Forecast…

It’s summer time! That means blockbusters, comic book movies! It’s comic con time! That means more blockbuster and more comic book movie gossip! It seems that everything from the Tron viral campaign to the impending release of the Alice in Wonderland teaser is generating a lot of buzz. And quite right, too. We do live in the era of the geek. However, once we get into autumn proper, there are more prestigious films approaching. Looks like the studios are sticking to the tried-and-true “cram as many Oscar contenders as you can into the least amount of time” method, and there’s a huge schlock of films coming out. Here are just some of the main ones I’m looking forward to during awards season.

Starring Morgan Freeman? Check. Directed by Clint Eastwood? Check. Story of an iconic figure? Check. Story of triumph over adversity/prejudice? Check. Set in the past? Check. Oscar Gold? Check.

Starring Morgan Freeman? Check. Directed by Clint Eastwood? Check. Story of an iconic figure? Check. Story of triumph over adversity/prejudice? Check. Set in the past? Check. Oscar Gold? Check.

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Carrey On: Jim Carrey’s Eternal Oscar Pursuit Less Likely Than the Man on the Moon?

It was Jack Nicholson himself who reportedly recognised Jim Carrey as the Jack Nicholson of his generation. That’s high praise indeed, particularly when you consider the size of Nicholson’s ego. It’s true that Carrey is a very talented actor – his slapstick ability is unmatched in the modern day and age, and he seems able to invest a huge amount of humanity in his dramatic characters. Still, despite my faith in his dramatic abilities, I’m not sold on the Jack Nicholson comparison. Partially because Carrey looks far less scary than Nicholson does (Stephen King famously denounced The Shining because he felt that the audience never doubted Nicholson would go axe-crazy), but also because despite Nicholson’s prolific Oscar track record, Carrey has yet to secure even a nomination. Maybe I Love You Phillip Morris will be that film.

Carrey is very good at doing fake smiles...

Carrey is very good at doing fake smiles...

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Non-Review Review: Deception

I was feeling a little under the weather last night, but we decided we’d stick on a family film at the house where I stay during the week. Browsing the telly listings, we found a film none of us had heard of starring Ewan McGregor and Hugh Jackman. We didn’t hesitate: how bad could a movie starring those two charming actors be?

Well, I’m not in the business of rhetorical questions, preferring pithy answers, so: very.

Deception is just terrible. Really. It goes on and on and on. And then on some more. Let’s establish a little mood. Now, let’s have a montage! And is the bad guy’s scheme or the heroes last minute escape or the heroine’s triple cross anything the audience doesn’t see coming? Nope. It’s con-movie-by-rote. I’m not surprised that the movie didn’t make it to cinemas.

McGregor and Jackman make the most of being hopelessly miscast. Jackman seems for too smooth for an aggressive (and, it turns out, pervy) street hustler. McGregor fares better as the accountant on the road to self-discovery. But only slightly.

And it just. doesn’t. end.

The only deception worth note is that played on the suckers that actually paid to see this movie.

Would you look at that? I’m in the majority on this!

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Deception is one of those con-man themed drama/thrillers that were popular a few years back, starring Hugh Jackman (X-Men Origins: Wolverine, The Prestige) and Ewan McGregor (the Star Wars prequels, Moulin Rouge, Trainspotting, Down with Love). It was released in the UK and the USA on the 28th April 2008, but I never saw hide-nor-hair of it in any local cinemas.