Archives for the month of: May, 2014

No. Although my boyfriend will disagree with me, so I guess if you like action regardless of story, then you won’t mind spending the cash.

I will follow the fold of comments already out there, and state that you probably should already have watched (and loved) the previous X-Men films to have any sort of enjoyment from this latest instalment.

And to be honest, you probably won’t need to watch it in the cinema, unless you want to support the franchise so they can get better direction and script for the next one.

 

Poster of X-men: Days of Future Pasts

The future and past founding fathers of X-Men. And Wolverine and Mystique who just never die. Ever. Maybe Mystique should get her own film too. At least now when she is played by JLaw

 

What is this film?

“X-Men: Days of Future Pasts” is the latest addition to a long line of X-Men films. If you count the Wolverine spin-offs, this will make it the seventh in total, the second of the reinvented X-Men where the story started from the beginning.

It is directed by Bryan Singer, who directed the first two films of the original trilogy. This initially gave me some hope that this film would recover what was lacking from “X-Men: First Class”, a movie that I found so bad I couldn’t shut up about it in the cinema. My boyfriend was thoroughly annoyed.

There are too many familiar faces in this movie, I will just name them by their character names.

 

Where does this movie start?

“X-Men: First Class” left us with Charles Xavier wheelchair bound after Magneto (also named Eric Lensherr) accidentally bends a bullet into his spine. He is determined to start a school for mutants. Magneto has left with a whole bunch of the other mutants, including Mystique.

“X-Men: Days of Future Pasts” starts with a gang of mutants we don’t already know who defeat some crazy, adaptable robots by transporting one of their party’s consciousness back in time to warn them of the attack.

The old gang of mutants from the original trilogy, find out about this skill and want to use it to send Wolverine back in time. He is to prevent the incidents that led to the rise in mutant hostility and the production of the robots that have now made nearly all mutants instinct.

Wolverine travels back to a moment in between “X-Men: First Class” and the original movies, so there is some time there where only comic book fans will know what was going on.

 

Is it worth a cinema ticket?

You would think that a large franchise like X-Men, with their spectacular effects and even 3D, would in it self make me want to recommend that you buy a ticket. And that was my presumption when I chose this movie for this month’s “Is it worth a cinema ticket?” entry.

Alas, this is not the case.

They forget that I want to feel something. Specifically I want to feel the community and friendship that made me want to go to Xavier’s school for gifted youngsters in the first films. That’s what made me want to be a mutant. That is what made me love the franchise.

I realize that the school is not up and running, and that where there before was a clean-cut divide between Xavier and his students, and Magneto and his minions, it is now a blur of different shades of grey as to who is with whom, who is good or bad.

But it should still be possible to find other elements that will drive home those feelings that this movie sorely needs.

 

Is it worth a 3D cinema ticket?

The 3D is not put to any good use other than to vamp up the ticket price. And that is only a benefit for everyone else but you.

I know that cheesy 3D effects make you loose the plot, are inadvisable and frankly belong in a theme park, but when you are surrounded by mutants with all different kinds of powers that involve things hovering in the air, I do find it odd that I didn’t find the 3D beneficial.

Just 2D it and buy a bigger size popcorn.

 

Is it entertaining?

My boyfriend loved it to bits. But then again he loved “X-Men First Class” so he is obviously blinded when it comes to X-Men (sorry beau).

To me, the fact that he loves it, is another notch in favour of the fact that only people who have already seen and loved the X-Men franchise, will recognize enough elements in the story to be satisfied.

There is a lot of: “Oh, who is that one again?”, “I loved that in the old ones”, “Yeah that ties up neatly with [insert fact].”

However, there is nothing wrong with making a movie just for the fans. As long as you have enough fans.

 

Why isn’t the movie good enough?

I love all the actors in the film; James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, Hugh Jackman, and of course all the other characters from the old universe.

So, this movie has all the pieces that I need to love a movie: great concept, exceptional talent and interesting relationship dynamics. They just don’t quite get there.

I want this movie to be better than it is. I want it to achieve the greatness of the reinvented Star Trek franchise. I want to be enraptures, sucked in, a believer.

Instead I am left mildly entertained and wanting to watch the old movies one more time to remember how good it used to be.

Fail.

 

What mood should you be in?

Unfortunately, the only mood you will be in need of is “Braindead Action Movie Mood”.

Perhaps be prepared for a slightly complex understanding of time travel and how that works in this film. It is fairly interesting and does create a sense of urgency towards the end.

 

Cool new mutant powers

For us who haven’t read the comic books, it is always a treat to see what kind of new powers we will witness in action. And it is often surprising powers that prove the most useful in combat situations.

Blink, an Asian mutant from the futuristic group of X-Men, can open portals anywhere. Now, this might only sound cool for escape situations or a lovely, flight-free vacation, but I will have you know that lil’ miss Blink knows how to use those powers to basically make every evil robot kill themselves.

In addition, we are introduced to Peter Quicksilver, who is very fast. And boy can you have fun with people when you are very fast. You can even break into the Pentagon, which in this plot is inherently useful and highly entertaining.

I, for one, also have some more respect for what Xavier can do with his powers. The visualisation of telepathic powers has been kicked up a notch compared to the old films. They come across cooler than before (although they are inherently the same).

Xavier is also not a 100 % good character in the new movie, a refreshing touch. I even read that there are some X-Men stories where he goes really dark, a dark side he constantly struggles to suppress. Now that would be something to watch.

 

Further watching

I did an X-Men marathon this week because of this film. I needed to be reminded of why I love these characters and that I did.

Which mutant power would you like to have (you can only have one)? I’m liking this portal conjuring power.

Next week I will take a look at a “Guilty Pleasure” movie. I define a “Guilty Pleasure” movie as a movie not considered great, often of the romantic comedy, comedy, slasher horror or brain-dead action persuasion, but which for some reason makes you watch it over and over again.

I will try and identify the elements of a “Guilty Pleasure” movie that make you want to watch them again and again and again.

Sign up and get an e-mail when my next blog post comes out.

 

The Young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) tries to open the Cerebro, where he can connect telepathically to any human on earth, after years of using a drug that favours his legs over his abilities.

The Young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) tries to open the Cerebro, where he can connect telepathically to any human on earth, after years of using a drug that favours his legs over his abilities.

 

Who am I?

I a freelance writer who likes to go to the movies. But I don’t like it when I waste my money on a bad film. I need to bitch about those movies. If I see a movie that is absolutely worth the trip to town, 130 NOK ticket (£13/$20), popcorn and drink expenditure, then I need to rave about it! And since I want to watch all the movies in the world, you can waste less of your time, check in with me and only watch the good ones.

In these New Release blog posts, I will pick a movie in the theatre in Norway at random, and tell you if it was worth a cinema ticket. It might be good, but does it deserve your time and money, and does it benefit from a big screen and a huge crowd?

I actually buy tickets myself (unless I can get my boyfriend to be generous) and don’t have the luxury of being invited to pre-screenings, so my New Releases will be a bit late. Hopefully they will still be in a cinema near you 😉

 

Why do I think I can talk about movies?

With an over average interest in movies since watching Star Wars as an 8 year-old, and with some background in the industry, I know at least a little bit about what it takes to get a movie made, and have loads of opinions about what makes them great.

But no matter my merits, it is whether or not you agree with my taste in movies (or my boyfriend’s, whose opinion will be noted if opposing my own) that will make these reviews beneficial to you.

 

Where can you find the film?

“X-Men: Days of Future Pasts” was released in Norway last Friday (23rd of May), and given the grand franchise, I don’t think we were late in release, so it should be in a local cinema anywhere.

The rest of the X-Men series can be found in practical box-sets for next to no money (it is 399 NOK for all 6 of them on Blu-Ray in my local DVD shop Platekompaniet)

 

If you like what I write, please give me a shout in the comments or sign-up to read my next “Guilty Pleasure” blog post next week 😉

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It had to be a Stephen King story line throning majestically at the top of the ever-changing ImDb top 250 list. And so “Shawshank Redemption” has done for quite some time, occasionally surpassed by “The Godfather”, but mostly up top where, in my opinion, it assuredly belongs.

So, why does this movie deserve to be the best movie ever made?

The-Shawshank-Redemption_20140518

What is this film?

“Shawshank Redemption” was made in 1994 by Frank Darabont who also made the prison movie (and Stephen King story) “The Green Mile”. Darabont reputedly got the rights for Stephen King’s novella “Rita Heyworth and Shawshank Redemption” for a dollar. Whether or not this is true, I think we can still assert that Darabont got it dirt cheap.

Notably, the title cut out Rita Heyworth because there was a lot of confusion with people in the industry thinking it was a biopic of the actress, who still plays a pivotal role in the film.

The film is about Andy Dufresne, played by Tim Robbins (who played in “Shawshank Redemption” 😉 ) who is put in jail for murdering his wife and her lover. He didn’t do it, although he assuredly wanted to. And so begins the story of how Andy works his way through hardships and evil wardens to survive in the godforsaken prison Shawshank.

All of this is told as seen through the eyes of Red, a standard Morgan Freeman character. And that is where the magic lies. Because you forget very easily that it is Red who tells this story. And Red does not know everything.

In this review, I am presuming that you have seen the movie (if not, shame on you!). There will thus be SPOILERS IN THE TEXT BELOW. You have been warned.

 

What makes it so good?

What makes “Shawshank Redemption” good, for my part, is the intricate plot and the consistency of the chosen style of filming and storytelling. This is an example of excellent use of voice-over narration, where is seduces you and betrays you. I also love the films use of colour.

Everyone always talks about how a good movie tackles an issue that is universal, and the best ones do it in a thorough way that permeates time and space. And this story of redemption, or revenge, on authority, on injustice and on the world in general, has ticked the hearts of the whole world. Notably it was nominated for seven Oscars, but won none.

An interesting fact about “Shawshank” is that it didn’t even make up production costs upon release in the cinema in the 90’s. My guess is that “Shawshank Redemption” is a hard title to sell, the proof being that almost every non-english speaking country has translated it to something completely different (notably Norwegian where it is called “Frihetensregn” or “The Rain of Freedom”).

“Shawshank” did however manage to become the most rented video of all time, according to Blockbuster, and will perhaps be holding onto that title forever more given that rental videos are nigh on instinct.

 

On the use of colour

The Oscar nominated cinematographer of this movie, Roger Deakins, has done brilliant things with colour in this movie that should be awed for its consistency and effect. The pale grey blue of the prison is so omnipresent and emotionally suppressing, it even helps us as viewers empathize with the prisoners.

The consistent use of this particular colour scheme also aids the significant scenes, that usually involves some act of kindness from Andy, to stand out. For instance when he barters a bucket of beers for his mates while they do roof work, there is golden sunshine bathing on their faces. For a few moments. Then back comes the pale grey blue.

More on the use of colour in film can be found in “If it’s purple, someone’s gonna die”, a book on the effect that colour choices have on our emotions.

 

Is it still relevant after 20 years?

Andy works for us like a Gandhi type of character. He doesn’t fight violence with violence, but with intellect. In the same way he doesn´t beat up the guys who rape him in the prison. He makes himself indispensable to the warden and then the guards beat them for him.

And even when the evil warden reveals that Andy will never get out of this prison, because the warden wants him there, Andy fights this injustice with a carefully mastered escape plan. And by taking all of the money he was stealing for warden. And getting the warden and the guards into jail themselves.

It all is perhaps the most perfectly satisfying revenge plot ever. And revenge never goes out of date.

 

Does it deserve the spot on the list?

No argument that this movie has a special hold the first time you watch it. When you watch the sweeping revelation of Andy’s genious escape,  it is like watching Ocean’s Eleven where you beat yourself up for thinking that you knew what was going on. You know nothing.

You can still watch it again and again. I recommend admiring the thoughtful colour choice and the carefully placed pieces of plot that eventually culminates in the ending, and how all those little pieces make you believe that Andy Dufranese could actually have accomplished this most perfect of prison breaks.

The reunion between Andy and Red at the end of the film, is only there because the studio insisted it be there. Like Frank Durabont, who wanted an open ending with Red heading for the Mexican riviera, I do not think this scene needed to be there. I would still know what happened. Because with an open ending you choose yourself, and this ending is the obvious choice.

Either way, I am glad this scene was shot. After so much dreary grey blue, and long minutes of being locked up in a fortress prison, it’s nice to feel the fresh sea breeze and glory in the bright turqouise 😉

This ending is probably why it gets a notch in the feel-good movie post. And to be honest, we all like a movie that makes us feel good.

 

What mood should you be in to watch it?

There is no surpassing the fact that this is a long movie. A full 142 minutes, or 2 hours and 22 minutes. And if you have watched the movie before, you can feel the minutes ticking away. It does get a bit long.

But if you HAVEN’T watched this movie before, it will enrapture you from the first moment you press play. Storylines will unravel and the evil will build in a natural and subtle manner that is elegant and a wonder to watch with new eyes. So wait until you have forgotten the plot, because you will, and watch it again with fresh eyes.

It is a serious drama, with a few entertaining characters and some laughs, but they are always killed immediately by the evils and dangers of prison life, of which there are many to be had.

For my part, the scene when Andy Dufranese locks himself in the wardens office and plays opera (the song is “Canzonetta sull’aria” from Mozart’s “Marriage of Figaro”.) over the loudspeakers is one of those pivotal, tear-jerking moments.

When you have a whole prison of scruffy, light-blue clad men stopping in their tracks and listening to an Italian Aria, you have a juxtaposition of culture that truly creates something beautiful. At least in my teary eyes. And I am not even a fan of opera. Yet.

 

Further Watching

If you want to watch more prison break movies, I would recommend some older ones that have far more joy in them. Both “The Great Escape” (1963), where a band of British prisoners of war, gang up with an unruly American to escape the unescapable prison, and “Stalag 17” (1953), a black and white movie which is the funniest of the bunch, have tremendous heart.

Notably they are both on the ImDb top 250 list, so I will talk about them later.

I would also recommend giving “Gilda” (1946), the movie the prisoners of Shawshank watch which has Rita Heyworth in it. It is not the most exciting of movies, but will give you a lot of know how. If you are a nerd like myself.

Don’t miss out on the next ImdB top 250 review. Sign up and get an email update when I post on my blog.

The-Shawshank-Redemption2_20140518

Who am I?

I do not work for ImDb, I just have a nerdy need to make sure I watch all the movies people claim to be good. In this way I can make up my own mind about whether or not they are a hype. This is not a per se a recommendation to you from the ImDb Top 250 list, but rather a statement about the movies on it that hopefully will make you want to watch the movie again, or watch the movie and make up a mind of your own 😉

 

Why do I think I can talk about movies?

With an over average interest in movies since watching Star Wars as a 8 year-old, and with some background in the industry, I know at least a little bit about what it takes to get a movie made, and have loads of opinions about what makes them great.

But no matter my merits, it is whether or not you agree with my taste in movies (or my boyfriend’s, whose opinion will be noted if opposing my own) that will make these reviews beneficial to you.

 

Where can you find the film?

I would recommend to buy this one. It looks good on a shelf and is a wonder for lazy Sunday evenings when you just want something good to watch. You should find it at any web or proper DVD-shop around. I will even give you a link to “Shawshank Redemption” on Amazon 😉 It used to be found on Netflix, but at the time I watched it this week, it was not there?

 

Once a month I will review the top 250 movies on ImDb and determine whether they still deserve to be there or not. I start from the top because there is less change in the top than the bottom of the list. Other Fridays of the month, I will look at “New Releases – which one is worth a cinema ticket“, “Guilty Pleasures” and “Unearthing the Best Movies on Netflix“.

All non referenced fun facts are from ImDb 😉

Sign up your email and get updates so that you won’t miss the next ImDb top 250 review. Next month we will have a look at “the Godfather“!

 

Ever wonder what to watch on Netflix? Every month I will give you a new movie recommendation that won’t be a waste of your time. Add my blog to your e-mail list and you will never spend hours deciding what to watch again!

This month’s best movie on Netflix is: Carnage (2011)

Carnage Poster

Carnage Poster

 

What?

“Carnage” is a comedy drama (a dramedy as I have seen some people call it) made by the infamous Roman Polanski. It sports a limited cast of four, but with an impressive line-up.

Kate Winslet (if you need a movie to know who she is, then shame on you) and Christop Waltz ( you know, the nazi from “Inglorious Basterds”) play the career couple invited to the Longstreet family apartment to talk about their son. Jodie Foster (the woman mind-fucked by Hannibal Lecter in “Silence of the Lambs”) and John C. Reilly (he is the go-to supporting actor, he is in everything, too much to mention), want them all to come to some sort of agreement about what they should do after their son was hit in the face by the other son, “armed” with a stick. He broke some teeth. It’s all very serious.

And on the surface it is all very polite and civilized. But of course this is going to change.

 

Why?

Any film that takes place in one location (the whole film is set in one apartment), with quality actors AND a good director is always worth a watch. If you need more proof that there is something magical going on, then look at the Golden Globes nominations both women received for their efforts.

Not convinced? Christoph Waltz will deliver increasing level of snarky lines, Kate Winslet will get drunk, John C. Reilly will snap from good guy to bad guy and Jodie Foster will on the surface be the image of a perfect humble housewife, but curse them all under her breath when they aren’t in the room.

When both me AND my boyfriend pay rapt attention from start till end of a film that is set in only one location, that means something has been done right. And it’s all in the story. No distracting visual effects or dazzling cinematography to lure you to keep watching here.

You should be in the mood for some comedy. In one way it is a serious movie, but the true value (or identification aspect) and humor of it is that you will see yourself in these characters, either as you know you would react, or as you imagine you would if you had kids. It is not a “laugh-out-loud” movie, it is a “snigger-to-yourself” movie (and I love those).

 

Who?

This movie is perfect for anyone who is in a couple, because you will have the most to identify with. Any parents, I can imagine, will also find themselves remembering similar situations with parents who are totally different to themselves, and how they try to deal with them.

It reminds me of an old movie “Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf?” from the sixties, although that one has a completely different theme, only the form of one location, four characters, is somewhat similar.

I would also recommend “Carnage” to anyone who is working in the film industry or aspiring to be. This film was shot in real time,with no breaks, and in one location. To do this and make a successful 80 min movie is extremely difficult, so watch and learn. Why doesn’t it get boring? On paper it should!

Also look out for a Roman Polanski cameo (without him being on screen) as the nosy neighbour.

 

Further Watching:

‘Did you like this movie and want to watch more?

Apart from “Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf?” (1966) which unfortunately can’t be found on Netflix, I would recommend delving into Roman Polanski. He has a distinct opinion and style that is captivating.

From the movies on Netflix, I would recommend giving the documentary “Polanski: Wanted and Desired” (2008) a go. It focuses on the incident in Polanski’s life when he was guilty of statutory rape and how that evolved into fleeing the USA and never being able to return, not even to receive his Oscar for “The Pianist” (2002). This man has survived the Holocaust and has had his pregnant wife murdered. It is interesting to say the least.

If you are not in the mood for a documentary, watch his political thriller “The Ghost” (201) with Ewan McGregor and Pierce Brosnan, where a freshly hired ghostwriter for the former prime minister of the UK, starts unraveling things he shouldn’t.  (“Polanskis Skyggen” is the title in the Norwegian Netflix)

 

Next week, I will be starting my new project where I look at the ImDb top 250 list and judge whether these films deserve to be there. Are they there because they actually are good in the modern viewer’s eyes, or are they there because people believe them to be of great quality because they were significant when they were released.

We will find out whether the movies can be stomached by 2014 eyes or should be left as a note in a film history book (or remade for that matter). We will start with number one (which has significantly fewer changes than number 250) and work our way up the list each month.

 

Don’t want to miss a review? Add yourself to my e-mail list and get an update as soon as I post. I will be posting every Friday 😉

So, I want to know? Which is your favourite movie that takes place in one location?

 

Two very different pair of parents.

Two very different pair of parents.

 

Who am I?

I do not work for Netflix. My boyfriend and I spend an awful lot of time trying to choose movies to watch on Netflix. Sometimes we stumble upon gems and those are the ones I would like to share with you. If you wonder about a movie, ask me, I will tell you if I have watched it or watch it for you (I’m a nerd, I want to watch everything).

 

Why do I think I can talk about movies?

With an over average interest in movies since watching Star Wars as a 8 year-old, and with some background in the industry, I know at least a little bit about what it takes to get a movie made, and have loads of opinions about what makes them great.

But no matter my merits, it is whether or not you agree with my taste in movies (or my boyfriend’s, whose opinion will be noted if opposing my own) that will make these reviews beneficial to you.

 

Why Netflix?

It’s not only Netflix. Once a month I will unearth the best movies on Netflix. Other Fridays of the month, I will look at “Imdb Top 250 – Do they really deserve to be there“, “New Releases“, and “Guilty Pleasures“.

I do take requests and love a challenge, so don’t be shy.

 

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