Archives For cinema

After a relatively uneventful summer and autumn in the world of cinema, someone has decided that November is finally the time to make up for this cinematic drought with interest. Not even halfway through the month, we’ve had three long anticipated blockbuster releases: Thor: The Dark World, Gravity and Ender’s Game, with Hunger Games: Catching Fire‘ as the fourth, following in a fortnight. Cannes festival winner Blue is the Warmest Colour is also shortly due for release, as is the controversial biopic The Fifth Estate and the remake of the horror classic Carrie. Indie success The Green Bicycle and a Norwegian ski movie Supervention have already been showing for a couple of weeks.

I’m puzzled by the decision to release so many big blockbusters all at (nearly) the same time, particularly two epic sci-fi movies. Gravity and Ender’s Game were both released last Friday (a week after Thor 2), giving the latter a major disadvantage, having received less buzz in advance and only being screened in the smaller cinemas not occupied by screenings of the former. This is something of a personal disappointment, seeing as I’ve been anticipating Ender’s Game for two years now and would have liked to have seen it being given better odds at becoming a success. At any rate, I will make an effort to see as many of these as I can, even if budget alterations will have to be made accordingly.

Happy November!

Quite a few big titles coming up this month. I have tickets to see ‘Wreck-it Ralph’ today, which should be a lot of animated, closet nerdy fun. Another movie that I have been very anxious to watch ever since its first screening in Cannes nine months ago, is the danish ‘The Hunt’ (‘Jagten’), starring Mads Mikkelsen, which I expect will be devestating but brilliant. The director, Thomas Vinterberg, was behind the heart-wrenching dogma success ‘The Celebration’ (‘Festen’, 1998), in which child-abuse was also the topic, only reversed.

February releases I’ve been looking forward to:

Other releases worth mentioning: ‘Lincoln’, ‘Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters’, ‘Anna Karenina’, ‘A Good Day to Die Hard’.

February has started off pretty slow in the movie watching department. After a fairly ambitious 7 visits to the cinema in January (four new titles and three classics), and despite the list of watch-worthy releases steadily growing, the last couple of weeks has left me in something of a winter hibernation mode where movies are concerned. Well, to be honest, my priorities have had to be elsewhere. An interesting Netflix stunt, therapy sessions and this totally insane whim that had me signing myself up for a French exam (apparently, therapy is only so effective), has held most of my attention lately.

House of Cards

What I have gotten around to watching this month, has been about as varied as it gets. As I mentioned, Netflix pulled an interesting stunt at the start of the month, by releasing the entire season of a new VoD-exclusive series, ‘House of Cards’. I can happily confirm it really is worth watching, and as such quite the marketing stunt for Netflix. A sassy political drama series with a great script and engaing character development, this is the best show to have been released for quite some time. Of course you’d expect a certain level of quality when the cast list is composed of the brilliant Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright. Spacey plays a bitter, calculating and clever politician with a plan (a role we already know he’s nailing); Wright plays his equally calculating and cool-headed wife. Kate Mara is the up-and-coming journalist who pushes the boundaries of morality in her pursuit of recognition.

As for movies, I’ve only watched two this month. The first is last year’s remake of ‘Dredd’, which despite limited expectations and all reason, I was actually a little disappointed by, as I had let myself be convinced that it at least possessed a certain amount of self-irony, which in the end I felt it lacked. Still, as Saturday past-midnight entertainment it served its purpose more or less satisfactorily, not least because of the endless [sleep-deprived and wine-induced] fascination of a very diffferent-looking Lena Headey (Cercei in ‘Game of Thrones’).

Meanwhile, several movies have snuck their way into Norwegian cinemas, and the second movie, and this month’s first cinema visit, is one I have been feeling extremely ambivialent about for a long time, due to my 16 years worth of memories and associations tied to the source material: namely the screen adaptation of ‘Les Misérables’, in musical format for the first time. Expect a full, rambling report on this in a separate post. For now I will say that it didn’t have quite the emotional impact on me that I’d hoped, but there were some award-worthy (and indeed nominated) performances in there that completely blew me away.

Anne Hathaway in Les Miserables

As for the other February releases I’m anxious to see, I will put them up in a separate post tomorrow.

Argo (2012)

‘Argo’ (2012) is the almost unbeliavable story about an unconventional rescue mission in Iran in 1980. Initiated by the CIA and with the help of the Canadian government, a fake Hollywood movie production was staged in order to smuggle six American diplomats out of the country during a violent riot. This masterly suspenseful thriller caught me somewhat by surprise and soars right up among my favourite movies of 2012.

“This is the best bad plan we have… by far, sir.” Jack O’Donnell, Argo

Grim, scary, provoking: this was two intense hours at the cinema. I nearly held my breath throughout the entire movie. Thankfully, the outstanding screenplay has also been spiked with some clever and nicely timed jokes to loosen up the otherwise unbearably intense story, which allows you to ease up and exhale in between the nail-biting suspense.

Ben Affleck once again demonstrates his skills behind the camera, and now truly has my attention as a  director. I’ve never been a fan of his acting performances, and even though he showed promise as a writer through ‘Good Will Hunting’ (1997), his poor choice of movies to appear in hasn’t done anything to spark my interest in him. However, after having directed ‘Gone Baby Gone’ (2007), ‘The Town’ (2009) and now his third big success, in which he also does a great job portraying CIA agent and man of the hour Tony Mendez, I’m beginning to realise that this is a man worth paying attention to.

Argo (2012)

9/10.

Seven Psychopaths (2012)

Hilarity!

Writer and director Martin McDonagh follows up his schizophrenic work of genius ‘In Bruges’ (2008) with an ensemble movie in the same style. ‘Seven Psychopaths’ too has the characteristic clever, snappy and frequently nonsensical script and the unpredictable, outrageous characters as his debut film, only on an even bigger scale: everyone single character here is batshit crazy. They all also happen to be equipped with deadly weapons. Inevitably, havoc ensues. The plot is in the style of Snatch’ (2000) or ‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’ (2005), with multiple storylines, which are all – more or less – tied together at the end. I will need a rewatch to piece all the details together.

The acting performances are what you’d expect of an ensemble of this calibre: flawless. I love seeing Colin Farrell back with McDonagh, as this kind of movie is where he gets to demonstrate that he really does have talent (note that his performance in ‘In Bruges’ won him a Golden Globe). Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken and Woody Harrelson all do what they do best, and they’ve all got it down to a tee.

This multi-layered, gun-slinging psycho fest could easily turn into a big mess, but McDonagh has a firm enough grip on things that it doesn’t loose its way entirely, even if it isn’t rounded off quite as neatly as I’d have liked. It is an ambitious movie which falls a little short of being as brilliant as I would have loved to see it, but which was a blast to watch.

7/10.