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110. L.A. Confidential – Christmas 2018 (#107)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guest Phil Bagnall, The 250 is a fortnightly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users.

This time, a Christmas treat. Curtis Hanson’s L.A. Confidential.

In fifties Los Angeles, three very different police officers discover their lines of inquiry converging as they uncover a deep and sprawling web of corruption and inequity.

At time of recording, it was ranked the 107th best movie of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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Non-Review Review: The Rover

The Rover isn’t quite a post-apocalyptic road movie. A title card places the story “ten years after the collapse”, but it’s never clear what exactly “the collapse” is. Buildings still stand. Trains still run. Telegraph polls are still connected. Cars still drive. Military units still offer some small semblance of law and order. This isn’t a world that has collapsed, it is the decaying structure of a world still struggling to stand.

The Rover is a starkly beautiful and haunting film, one that says a lot with only a few scattered words. It’s unsettling not in its portrayal of a world that is dead, but instead in its attempt to capture a world struggling to keep breathing.

As the world burns...

As the world burns…

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Non-Review Review: Lawless

Lawless is, like director John Hillcoat’s other films, the story of people shaped (or mirrored) by their harsh and unforgiving surroundings. A prohibition crime thriller, Lawless feels more like the story of local people fighting fiercely to resist the taming influence of more “civilised” outsiders who believe themselves inherently superior to the “dumb hicks” who have made this terrain livable. “It is not the violence that sets men apart, it’s the distance they’re willing to go,” Forrest Bondurant tells his brother at one point in the film, and Lawless seems to respect its lead characters for refusing to feign civility and to at least acknowledge the innate violence of their existence. It’s thoughtful, powerful stuff. Not without its flaws, it’s still an interesting exploration of man’s capacity for violence.

Sadly, though undoubtedly quite sage, this Forrest never once suggests that “life is like a box of chocolates…”

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Non-Review Review: (Seeking) Justice

The premise of Justice (or Seeking Justice, as it is named in the States) is not fundamentally unworkable. The basic plot seems almost like an affectionate homage to Hitchcock, with people essentially trading motivations for murder, with a mysterious organisation (known as “the Organisation”) offering people a chance for revenge against the person who hurt them – but with a caveat. If they do you a favour, you will have to do them a favour later on. It’s not a bad premise for a revenge thriller, but the problem with Justiceis that it takes itself far too serious, and expects us to do the same. What could have been a cheesy-yet-enjoyable thriller becomes an overly long and self-important waste of time.

Cage rage!

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Non-Review Review: Prometheus

Prometheus is an impressive science fiction thriller. Indeed, its weakest link is its attempt to “line-up” with Scott’s original Alien, as its own interesting ideas end up caught up in an attempt to throw knowing winks and nods towards an overly eager audience. “look! green gooey possibly acidic blood!” the movie seems to cry or “gee! that illustration looks familiar!” The problem is that these feel like distractions from a plot that is compelling and fascinating when explored on its own merits. Still, it feels like a worthy science fiction film in its own right, a fitting hybrid of Scott’s Alien with his Blade Runner, daring to pose interesting existential and philosophical questions about humanity’s place in the universe.

David is a piece of work…

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Prometheus Unbound: Sir Peter Weyland Speaks…

I am looking forward to Prometheus, as are most film geeks out there. Ridley Scott is returning to the shared fictional universe he created with the original Alien to tell an incredibly ambitious science-fiction epic, with a tremendous cast and a huge budget. We don’t know much about it at the moment, and that’s not a bad thing. I’m always a sucker for a clever piece of viral marketing, and this video appeared on-line today. it wasn’t leaked to film sites or geek news. It was published on TED.com, an on-line forum for “ideas worth spreading”, where today’s real-world luminaries share their thoughts on the problems of the day. Sir Peter Weyland, one half of the fictional mega-corporation Weyland-Yutani, has provided us with his own talk, from the year 2023.

Directed by Luke Scott and written by Damon Lindelof, this is a light piece, featuring Guy Pierce and some CGI. However, it very shrewdly does several things. It explains and contextualises the title, even if it wasn’t too much to guess that hubris and ambition would play a major role in a science-fiction film named for the guy who stole fire from the gods. It gives us a glimpse of the film’s universe, and provides connective tissue, explaining how we got from today to the gigantic futuristic universe. It even ties itself to Lawrence of Arabia, no mean feat.

It’s well worth a gander.

And here’s Sir Peter’s official biography, for those looking for a bit more context:

Sir Peter Weyland was born in Mumbai, India at the turn of the Millennium. The progeny of two brilliant parents; His mother, an Oxford Educated Professor of Comparative Mythology, his father, a self-taught software Engineer, it was clear from an early age that Sir Peter’s capabilities would only be eclipsed by his ambition to realize them. By the age of fourteen, he had already registered a dozen patents in a wide range of fields from biotech to robotics, but it would be his dynamic breakthroughs in generating synthetic atmosphere above the polar ice cap that gained him worldwide recognition and spawned an empire.

In less than a decade, Weyland Corporation became a worldwide leader in emerging technologies and launched the first privatized industrial mission to leave the planet Earth. “There are other worlds than this one,” Sir Peter boldly declared, “And if there is no air to breathe, we will simply have to make it.”

Non-Review Review: The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: no more f%$#ing Abba!

The Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert is one of those wonderfully fun and upbeat little movies that often can’t help but draw a smile from even the most cynical of viewers. Despite a somewhat bitchy and frothy exterior, the film is a charming little road movie about a quirky little pseudo-family unit making their way through the heartland of Australia.

Bus-ted...

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