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Non-Review Review: Trance

Trance is a dirty, messy little film. I’m not talking in terms of gore or graphic violence – although there is a surprising amount on display here. Instead, Trance feels like Danny Boyle is trying to get back in touch with his roots, the sort of stylishly shot, haphazardly structured and uncomfortably candid films from his earlier career. Boyle has, after all, gone from an underground auteur to a part of the cinematic establishment.

After all, we’re no longer talking about the director you constructed such grubby little pleasures as Shallow Grave or Trainspotting. Danny Boyle has an Oscar on his mantelpiece for Slumdog Millionaire, and a two nominations for 127 Hours. This is a man who organised and oversaw the London Olympics last year. You don’t get more legitimate or mainstream than that. Trance reads like an attempt by Boyle to prove that he hasn’t ventured too far away from his cinematic origins, and can still turn out a grubby little niche thriller starring a cast of sociopaths just waiting for an excuse to turn on one another.

Trance lacks the broad appeal of Slumdog Millionaire or even 127 Hours, but I’d be lying if I said I could resist its trashy pulpy charms. There’s a thrill here in watching the cinematic sleight of hand, observing as a veteran master of illusion proves he still can handle the old standards. It isn’t anything new or revolutionary, and there’s the constant threat that it might unravel at any given moment, but the thrill of Trance is watching Boyle trying to hold it all together. He doesn’t quite make it look effortless, but he gets there in the end.

It's a frame!

It’s a frame!

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Non-Review Review: Welcome to the Punch

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2013.

Welcome to the Punch is a weird best, a sort of a hybrid that runs on a engine built of mismatched parts. It’s very clearly a distinctly British film. the presence of Mark Strong and James McAvoy attests to that, let alone the supporting cast composed of people like Daniel Mays, Jason Flemyng, Davide Morrissey, Peter Mullen and Andrea Riseborough. However, it’s constructed in the style of an American action movie, with lots of guns, explosions and chases. It’s a very strange cocktail, and Welcome to the Punch suffers because it doesn’t blend the strength of both schools of thrillers. It feels rather clumsily, and rather hastily, thrown together without any real thought as to what the final composition might turn out like.

Top gun...

Top gun…

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Non-Review Review: X-Men – First Class

X-Men: First Class is easily the best thing to emerge from Bryan Singer’s X-Men movie franchise since X-Men II, all those years ago. Jane Goldman’s smart script and Matthew Vaughn’s confident direction help inject life back into the franchise that stirred up this current superhero blockbuster fad, providing one of the finest examples of the subgenre. Although the movie does occasionally veer a little bit too close to (and, once or twice, right into) camp, it’s also a clever, brave, bold and exciting action adventure, which provides the best characterisation of the series to date.

We've got it covered...

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A Good Poster for X-Men…

If you were on the inter-webs yesterday, you might have had the grave misfortune to stumble across Michael Fassbender’s face superimposed over Sir Ian McKellen’s crotch and James McAvoy’s eyebrows being cut short by Patrick Stewart’s wheelchair arm in a vain attempt to promote X-Men: First Class, which must have the worst marketing campaign in the history of cinema. However, in order to help you forget those images (I never will), Last Exit to Nowhere tweeted the below epic X-Men posted from Eric Tan. It has nothing to do with actual movie, but it still manages to fit the whole “nostalgic” thing the movie’s going for (albeit fifties instead of sixties).

Superb.

On the other hand, I do quite like the (relatively) more subtle European posters which don’t feature Michael Fassbender’s face superimposed over Sir Ian McKellen’s crotch and nor James McAvoy’s eyebrows being cut short by Patrick Stewart’s wheelchair arm.

Now That’s First Class: X-Men – First Class & Superhero Nostalgia

I have to admit that X-Men: First Class is a movie that I find myself in a wild state of flux over. At times, I’m delighted by the sensational casting, the fantastic director and the wonderful artistic design that we’re seeing. However, I am equally curious as to what the point of a prequel is, or why Bryan Singer jumped ship so quickly. At times, it’s one of my most anticipated movies of the coming year, while at others it’s just another film awaiting release. Somewhat lost amid the announcement that Bane and Catwoman would be the villains of The Dark Knight Rises, Fox released a slew of information about their newest X-Men film last week. looking at eth photos, I can’t help wondering whether the superhero movie genre is on the cusp of the nostalgia-fest which has swept their comic book counterparts in recent years.

He always had a magnetic personality...

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And They Lived Happily Ever After? Will Gnomeo & Juliet Have a Happy Ending?

It started out like Romeo and Juliet, but it ended up in tragedy.

– Milhouse Van Outen

I have to be honest. I studied Romeo and Juliet in secondary school and I just didn’t get it. Not the fancy-ass language or the outdated words, but the appeal of the play. Seriously? This piece of work right here is frequently regarded as one of the romantic pieces of literature ever written? A play about a teenage fling which ends in suicide? Where Romeo falls for Juliet on the rebound and they never get to spend any time together? Where a convenient third-act quarantine serves to lead to the play’s tragic conclusion? I never really got the appeal of the work – I mean, it was good and smart, but it struck me as a lot more cynical and bitter than most seem to think it is. And so this trailer for Gnomeo and Juliet arrives, and I’m wondering – will a whole generation of children end up scarred by the image of gnome suicide?

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Suspending Your Belief: Age Before Beauty…

It’s strange, isn’t it, what will break our suspension of disbelief? I mean, we’ll accept (while watching Superman) that a man can fly around in his underwear, but the fact he advertises his weakness to kryptonite in a public interview is distracting. Or we’ll somehow buy into an archeologist who searches for the holy grail and encounters all manner of occult phenomenon, but when it comes to aliens extra-dimensional beings… well, a lot of us call foul. Still, I’ve been thinking a bit of late about the really quite weird fascination that movies seem to have with age and recasting.

Grasping at straws to keep Patrick Stewart on board...

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