Advertisements
    Advertisements
  • Following Us

  • Categories

  • Check out the Archives









  • Awards & Nominations

  • Advertisements

Non-Review Review: Darkest Hour

Darkest Hour is a powerhouse performance nested inside a fairly formulaic film.

In terms of plot, Darkest Hour is very much a familiar cinematic biography. Building off the template cemented by writer Peter Morgan on The Deal, The Queen, The Special Relationship and Rush, this is a film that explores its subject through the lens of a single event. The plot of Darkest Hour unfolds across May 1940, in the shadow the Second World War. It charts the life of Winston Churchill from the resignation of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain to the evacuation of Dunkirk. It is tightly focused, and perhaps the better for that.

Winston, Loseton.

In many ways, Darkest Hour feels like a collection of pop culture standards. Churchill is such an iconic part of European history, and this month was so crucial, that audiences have almost reached saturation point with narratives documenting key moments in the life of the statesman. Darkest Hour cannot help but evoke shades of everything from The King’s Speech to The Crown to Dunkirk, all of which share some sense of the same time and place. Darkest Hour simply combines a lot of pop culture Churchill into what amounts to a “greatest hits” package.

With that in mind, it should be no surprise that Darkest Hour is elevated by the central performance from an almost unrecognisable Gary Oldman. If pop culture has synthesised Churchill’s history to a collection of “greatest hits”, then it is the delivery that truly matters. Oldman carries the film home.

Two-finger salute.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Non-Review Review: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Constructing a satisfying sequel is an artform unto itself. It is something that requires a great deal of skill. As with any aspect of filmmaking, building off an earlier film is a very difficult thing to do. Producing a sequel comes with its own set of artistic risks and challenges, its own obstacles and hurdles. Navigating those potential problems and finding a way to meet (and even surpass) expectations without straying too far from the framework of the original film is difficult.

As with making any movie, there are existing frameworks and structures that do a little help make navigating those problems a little easier. Perhaps the structure of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back is the most obvious example. Using the trust established by the first film, the ensemble are split up to carry different strands of the plot, revealing scattered pieces of a larger whole, before reuniting for an epic finalé. Bryan Singer used this approach for X-Men II and How to Train Your Dragon 2 also followed it.

Playing him for a chimp, eh?

Playing him for a chimp, eh?

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is in an interesting position. It is a sequel to a remake; a remake of a film franchise that was originally iconic and influential, before dying a slow and humiliating public death as the series diminished and collapsed. Not only does Dawn of the Planet of the Apes come with the expectations of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, it comes with the revived expectations of the entire Planet of the Apes franchise; expectations restored by Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes chooses a very clever structure for this sequel, loosely following the sequel framework typified by Christopher Nolan’s work on The Dark Knight. This is a very clever approach, and it pays dividends. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is an ambitious and exciting sequel, a wonderful post-apocalyptic epic and an engaging moral parable.

Going ape for it...

Going ape for it…

Continue reading

Non-Review Review: RoboCop (2014)

José Padilha’s RoboCop reboot is much better than the lame duck attempt to adapt Total Recall a few years back. It’s a functional action film, structured well enough to stand on its own two feet as a science-fiction thriller. There are the obligatory explosions and CGI, but there’s also a clear enough story populated by reasonably well-drawn characters with just the faintest hint of social commentary at the core. It is solid and functional on its own terms, even if it suffers in comparison to its source material.

Robocop 2.0...

Robocop 2.0…

Continue reading

Winners of the 2012 International On-Line Film Critics’ Poll

The International On-Line Film Critics’ Poll has just published the winners of their 2012 poll. I was honoured to take part, and I was very glad with most of the results. You can read the nominations here, but the winners are listed below. The superb Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was the biggest winner – winning Best Film, placing on the Top Ten Films, taking home Best Director, securing Best Actor for a very deserving Gary Oldman, along with Best Cast and Best Adapted Screenplay to boot. A host of other wonderful films (including The Master) did very well as well.

Results after the jump.

Looks like we're all Smiley's people...

Looks like we’re all Smiley’s people…

Continue reading

Whatever Will Happen to the Caped Crusader? Thoughts on Batman After Nolan…

To celebrate the release of The Dark Knight Rises, July is “Batman month” here at the m0vie blog. Check back daily for comics, movies and television reviews and discussion of the Caped Crusader.

So, what now?

Christopher Nolan has rounded out his Batman trilogy with The Dark Knight Rises, tying up and resolving the arc he set up for Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins almost a decade ago. It has been a long and rewarding journey. I certainly think that Nolan’s accomplishments here deserve to be compared to other truly exceptional pop culture trilogies like The Lord of the Rings or even Star Wars. He told a complete story for the character, from the beginning through to the end. So, a week after he released the final part of his trilogy, people are wondering: what now? How do you follow a series of Batman movies like that? What next for the Dark Knight and Warner Brothers?

Speaking for myself, I can only hope that it’s something completely different.

Out of Nolan’s land…

Continue reading

Not Quite Total Recall: Taking the Paul Verhoeven out of Paul Verhoeven Films…

I’m actually a pretty forgiving guy when it comes to Hollywood rebooting and remaking older films. After all, these newer films don’t diminish the original. It’s fantastic if a writer and director can boldly reimagine an established property like Christopher Nolan did with Batman Begins, but there’s no big loss if the film fails. We’ll just collectively forget about, return to our cherished DVD copy of the original and there’s no real problem. So I actually don’t mind Hollywood returning to familiar themes, plots, characters, settings and ideas. However, with Hollywood producing a spate of blockbuster remakes of cult Paul Verhoeven films, I can’t help but wonder if they are completely missing the point.

Head wrecking…

Continue reading

Non-Review Review: Leon (The Professional)

What makes Leon so fascinating is the combination a wonderfully disturbing script that puts a novel and unsettling twist on that “suddenly a father” subgenre, Besson’s understated direction, Eric Serra’s atmospheric score and a trio of fantastic central performances. The movie is never less than completely engaging, especially when it’s being very deeply uncomfortable. The movie is very much a “messed up”portrait of the survivor of a family massacre and her unconventional surrogate father figure, with the difficulties that both have adapting to their situation, although it’s probably Gary Oldman’s powerhouse villainous performance that you’re going to leave the film thinking about.

Leon is a bit daunted by the scope of fatherly responsibility...

Continue reading