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Non-Review Review: A Most Wanted Man

For better or worse, A Most Wanted Man is going to be overshadowed by the passing of its lead actor. Philip Seymour Hoffman was a giant, a performer with a wonderful gift for bringing flawed and real characters to life, and A Most Wanted Man serves as his last leading role in a major motion picture. It is impossible to talk about A Most Wanted Man without talking about Philip Seymour Hoffman’s performance, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

It is a great performance, one that reminds the audience of why they loved Hoffman in the first place – Günther Bachmann is the sort of flawed human being that Hoffman played so well, given a great deal of depth by the late actor.

What's on the table?

What’s on the table?

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John Carter is Marred: Thoughts on Big-Budget Schadenfreude & Film Media Hypocrisy…

Everybody is talking about Disney’s John Carter. And not in a good way. It seems that everybody is talking about the project’s huge budget and poor marketing, with many news outlets taking an obscene amount of pleasure in declaring Andrew Stanton’s live action project dead on arrival. Some have even started making comparisons to Waterworld, another science-fiction epic with a huge budget that failed to find an audience. In the interest of honesty, I haven’t seen the film yet; I am cautiously optimistic, but I can’t help but worry about the film. Still, I can’t help but feel like this is an example of an hypocritical “damned if do, damned if you don’t” logic from film writers and journalists all over the web, who seem to be salivating at the prospect of a huge studio being humbled by a blockbuster that might mess up the landing. The irony being that these are probably the same people who frequently deride the “safe” and “obvious” choices for blockbuster films, bemoaning the fact that directors like Guillermo Del Toro aren’t given the budget to make the films they want to make.

Does anybody "get" Carter?

Does anybody "get" Carter?

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Non-Review Review: Platoon

I think now, looking back, we did not fight the enemy; we fought ourselves. The enemy was in us. The war is over for me now, but it will always be there, the rest of my days. As I’m sure Elias will be, fighting with Barnes for what Rhah called “possession of my soul.” There are times since, I’ve felt like a child, born of those two fathers.

Oliver Stone Charlie Taylor meditates on Vietnam

I honestly think that Platoon might be my favourite war film ever made. It’s almost certainly my favourite Vietnam film ever made, despite my considerable respect for Apocalypse Now. However, though Stone’s classic is steeped in allegory and metaphor (see the above quote), I think that it works better as a personal account of the conflict, rather than Coppola’s attempt to capture the surreal nature of the war on celluloid. Stone actually served a tour over there, and I think that there’s a lot of his own personal perspective poured into the film, which makes it feel like quite a raw and powerful piece of cinema.

War is dirty business...

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Non-Review Review: Wild at Heart

I’ve always had a soft spot for David Lynch, if only because – much like David Cronenberg – you always got the sense that his artistic vision was pretty unfettered by concerns about broad appeal or studio policy or anything like that. There’s a wonderful sense of freedom, in how he works. There’s a great quote from the guys at Pixar that they don’t make movies for kids, they make movies for themselves – if other people happen to enjoy it, well… that’s great too. That sums up a lot of what I respect about Lynch. Wild at Heart isn’t perhaps one of those moments where Lynch’s interests manage to overlap with truly great cinema (as they do, I would argue, for Mullholland Drive, Blue Velvet and The Straight Story), but it isn’t so completely scattershot as to be impenetrable, either.

Dancing in the... highways?

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A Polar-ising Ad Campaign…

I don’t know if our American readers are aware, but Willem Dafoe has been appointed as the voice of a BirdsEye advertising campaign. Basically, the advertisements see customers open the freezer to find a stuffed polar bear offering them advice. In Willem Dafoe’s voice. He praises BirdsEye and then warns threatens lets them know he’ll be watching. How this is not the stuff of nightmares, I will never know.

In fairness, Hollywood actors advertising overseas is a bit of a tradition (in fact, it’s the whole basis of Lost in Translation) and most are incredibly banal (Benecio Del Toro selling ice cream? Please!), but this one I thought was worth a mention just for the surrealness. Willem Dafoe scaring people into buying his brand of produce is well worth comment.

Non-Review Review: Daybreakers

It’s great when film makers find something original enough to play with. Daybreakers takes an intriguing little snippet most of us have probably had and dismissed while watching a cheap vampire film – “what would happen if the vampires won and became the dominant species?” – and stretches it out to a two-hour film. It’s a movie that’s bristling with all sorts of witty ideas, but the problem is that it never really takes the opportunity to lift itself out of the “trashy B-movie” category of vampire and futuristic military films. While there are some great notions and concepts at play here, they aren’t executed with a hint of finesse, instead played with the sort of skill you traditionally find in a hackneyed slasher movie. Which is a damn shame, because when the movie hits the right buttons, it really works.

Blood work...

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Non-Review Review: Spider-Man

It’s hard to believe in retrospect, but the movie that kick started the whole superhero movie subgenre is nothing but a gigantic, big budget B-movie. And, trust me, that’s a compliment.

I guess this is a web review (geddit?)...

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