Author Topic: Jon's Random Reviews  (Read 63109 times)

Najemikon

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Brooklyn's Finest **
« Reply #165 on: February 04, 2011, 11:09:53 PM »
Brooklyn's Finest
2 out of 5




Brooklyn’s Finest? Not really. Oh, why do they use film titles that lend themselves to cheap puns? But in all seriousness, this isn’t very good.

Antoine Fuqua has had an odd career, with a couple of gems, like albeit flawed Training Day or unashamed actioner Shooter, but in-between he produces absolute rubbish, such as Tears of the Sun and especially King Arthur. Both of those films suffer from ambitious over-reaching and despite Brooklyn’s Finest seemingly cut from the same cloth as Training Day, it’s definitely the same problem.

Instead of giving us one, focused and gritty tale of a cop, he tries to give us three. Focus goes out the window and the result is awkward and desperate. We have loner Richard Gere as a regular cop a week away from retirement, forced to train new recruits. He’s jaded, cynical, alcoholic and emotionally dead, except for being in love with a prostitute, the silly sod. Then there’s Don Cheadle as an undercover officer who desperately wants out before he loses his mind. And finally Ethan Hawke plays a narcotics officer who has almost completely gone over the line, willing to do anything for cash so he can get his family into a better home.

They all inter-cut together, supposedly culminating on the same night, so you might be forgiven for thinking that the three separate plots might converge at some point, in some clever and insightful manner. Well, Pulp Fiction this is not. There are one or two minor overlaps and one more important scene that might just make you groan and that feels so desperate it ruins Cheadle’s segment, which had been the best of the three (strangely, that was the problem with Training Day). Gere’s plot ends up being the most satisfying, though it’s so ploddingly predictable, it hurts! And Hawke’s story line is a miserable experience from start through to its nasty, pointless ending.

All three leads do their best to put the fine in Finest and they might keep you watching. I did enjoy watching Cheadle and Gere, and Hawke did nothing wrong, but his story was so awful it detracted from his efforts. Wesley Snipes is great too. He pops up as a friend of Cheadle’s that he is forced to consider entrapping by Ellen Barkin, who has an dreadful character to play. A rabid Rottweiler would have been more subtle and would definitely have had better dialogue. A curiosity to see Snipes in a rare sombre role is as good a reason as any to see this film though.

All three plots are too weak, but two could have been bulked up into fairly decent movies on their own. They would have always been predictable, so joining them together seems like an attempt to hide them and make you feel like you’re watching something important and worthy. But it was done in such a cack-handed manner, it’s just pretentious and the almost complete absence of any tangible link is insulting. I could excuse it if there was some gratuitous action to balance it out, but there’s nothing.

In one scene, Gere visits his hooker friend and walks in on her and another client. Later she tells him, “I’m sorry you had to see that”. I know what she means, still, like Star Trek odd numbered movies, I’m now looking forward to Fuqua’s next project because it should be a cracker!

KinkyCyborg

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Re: Jon's Random Reviews
« Reply #166 on: February 05, 2011, 03:17:58 AM »
Ironic that I picked up this movie on Bluray today just mere hours before reading your scathing review...  :-\  Luckily i got it previously viewed and on the cheap.

Najemikon

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Re: Jon's Random Reviews
« Reply #167 on: February 05, 2011, 01:10:06 PM »
Sorry about that. :-[ Normally I always try to be optimistic, so even a "bad" review can still reveal a film worth seeing for some people, but I just found this films problems too fundamental. Still, it's worth bearing in mind, Antoine Fuqua is not an idiot making Date Movie 2. He is capable and ambitious and I feel the problems with his films are usually him trying too hard, but at least he's trying and he has a reason for making the film. You might even like it!  :laugh:

Najemikon

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A Single Man ****
« Reply #168 on: February 12, 2011, 03:18:30 AM »
A Single Man ****
4 out of 5



I hadn't wanted to see A Single Man; it wasn't on my radar and the trailer hadn't struck me as anything particularly outstanding. Add to this occasional reviews of Tom Ford's film that suggested his fashion background had influenced his direction a little too much, and I wasn't convinced this would be a must see.

Then, on one of the podcasts from Simon Mayo and Mark Kermode, I heard a clip of Colin Firth's opening monologue. It was so simple and poignant that I suddenly had to see it. Firth plays George, a man still grieving for his partner Jim (Matthew Goode), killed in a car accident months before. Since then he has been trapped in melancholy and the film follows what is, as he says, "kind of a serious day for me". He'll reminisce with his closest friend, neurotic Charly (Julianne Moore) and be intrigued by a young student (Nicholas Hoult).

Now I'm not cynical enough to believe in the idea that some films are structured specifically to win awards, but it is true that studios are cynical enough to release certain types of films to attract the right attention. This year it seems a sure bet that Colin Firth will win many awards for his performance in The King's Speech and from all accounts, they will be richly deserved. I haven't seen the film yet, but from the trailer, regardless of how brilliant he is, it seems to be the sort of role that Oscar loves. What I can say with confidence is that his moving and superlative performance in A Single Man should have received as much if not more attention. What he delivers is incredibly moving, with an affecting simplicity that is gently stripped away to reveal a complex character in quiet turmoil. If you have any experience of grief, you won't fail to identify with the elegant opening scene especially; his voice draws you in following a dream sequence and never lets you go from then on. Nor would you want to be let go! It is all the more impressive that he is never off-screen, but for the most brief moments, yet the film never feels claustrophobic and almost seems effortless.

Julianne Moore also proves her substantial skill and at least Firth was nominated last year. That she wasn't recognised is criminal. It is a brief role, but again, a complex character and she bundles up a lifetime into her portrayal of Charly. Utterly superb and on a par with Boogie Nights, a film I find overrated except for her. We only see the versatile Matthew Goode (Watchmen, Cemetary Junction) in flashback as Jim and he too works wonders with less screen-time and the relationship between the two men feels absolutely genuine. Nicholas Hoult is also excellent as an unpredictable enigma that George can't dismiss. While his might be the thinnest role of the main characters to play, Hoult still finds depth and works it with the merest expression. Strange how we have Brits playing Brits, Brits playing Americans and Americans playing Brits! Regardless, it is a perfect cast.

Perhaps we should consider that the lean and focused screenplay, so beautifully written, is the common factor for all of them. From the very start to the final moment, it is meticulous and focused. While it never loses it's sombre tone, it has an undercurrent of optimism throughout. The sparse dialogue, entirely free of exposition, is cleverly bolstered by various sub-texts that reflect the story. For instance, it is set in 1962 Los Angeles and America is suffering from Cuban crisis paranoia that gently highlights George's unique perspective. And what of his sexuality? Clearly it is his relationship with men that defines him, yet thank goodness that it isn't an issue the film feels a responsibility to. It is simply who he is and nothing more.

Tom Ford, who also wrote the film (along with David Scearce) adapting Christopher Isherwood's novel, directs his debut with an assured style that contradicts his inexperience, aside from some loose editing. Unless, that is, you want to say it is too good and suggests little personality or interpretation, but that's cynical considering his clear understanding of such sensitive characters. Future projects might reveal more, but Ford's direction here perfectly supports this screenplay this time and he employs some beautiful motifs, such as boosting the colour whenever the sombre George finds something worth paying attention to. As whatever thing it was drifts from the scene, the colour drains a little with it. You might find it obvious, but there is no denying it works and the tone is faultless throughout. Actually a Spanish prostitute demonstrates it perfectly; Ford films him like a model and he seems just a touch overdone, but the ever consistent pace and especially Firth's dialogue in fluent and seamless Spanish puts the substance back in. The balance is never lost here or anywhere else.

I usually somehow forget to mention scores, but no danger here. The final element of this spellbinding film is the haunting theme from Abel Korzeniowski and it is quite wonderful. I've left the DVD menu on while I write this so it keeps playing! Even in a short loop, it's very effective.

I would urge anyone who likes a well told story to invest their time in A Single Man. It is an easy watch, but its substance will take a hold and for viewers of a certain perspective it might haunt you in a most convincing manner.

Offline Antares

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Re: Jon's Random Reviews
« Reply #169 on: February 12, 2011, 04:37:29 AM »
This is another film that I've been wanting to see.

Mustrum_Ridcully

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Re: Jon's Random Reviews
« Reply #170 on: February 12, 2011, 10:21:30 AM »
Thanks for this review.
Just added "A Single Man" to my wishlist.

Najemikon

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Re: Jon's Random Reviews
« Reply #171 on: February 12, 2011, 12:22:59 PM »
No problem, I'm glad you're lining it up.  ;D

Najemikon

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Singin' In The Rain
« Reply #172 on: April 09, 2011, 11:05:51 PM »
Singin' in the Rain ***

Year: 1952
Director: Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen
Rating: U
Length: 99 Min.
Video: Full Frame 1.33:1
Audio: English: Dolby Digital: 5.1, English: Dolby Digital: Mono, French: Dolby Digital: Mono, Italian: Dolby Digital: Mono, Commentary: Dolby Digital: Mono
Subtitles: Arabic, Bulgarian, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Other

Silent movies are giving way to Talking Pictures - and a hoofer-turned-matinee idol (Gene Kelly) is caught in that bumpy transition, as well as his buddy (Donald O'Connor), prospective ladylove (Debbie Reynolds) and shrewish co-star (Jean Hagen).

Due to an interesting thread on another forum, I had the... erm, "opportunity"... to watch this supposedly glorious film. I’ve never been a fan of musicals, but any such generalised opinion can lead you to blinker yourself. All genres have different styles within so you should always be open to trying them. I’d never seen Singin’ In The Rain, so maybe this one was different. After all it tops the AFI 100 Years of Musicals list and is regularly seen to be a definitive example, so maybe it wasn’t ridiculously cheesy and entirely false.

Of course it was; it was a bloody musical, what did you expect? ;) Topping the AFI list just proves they have low standards in this category because Singin’ In The Rain is so typical of what I have come to dislike. I say “category” rather than “genre”, as I really don’t see what artistic rules it can possibly have when the films so often use the songs as a crutch or padding. They’ve always been made this way. At least The Sound of Music had a story worth following and one that largely allowed for spontaneous bouts of singing at the drop of a hat. You see, that’s the thing that has always infuriated me. The way one actor starts singing and dancing while his or her co-stars just grin at them, politely waiting for them to finish. It’s ridiculous!

The first big number in Singin’ In The Rain avoided this. Debbie Reynold’s Kathy (easily the least annoying character) leads a troupe of dancing girls at a party, so the set-up makes sense and I hoped it would stay that way. The story was ok too at first and setting it within Hollywood during the awkward transition to sound promised to be fun. In that respect, Jean Hagen is very funny as her squeaky voice threatens her future. By comparison, O’Connor and Pinnochio –sorry, Gene Kelly- are nowhere near as interesting and very over the top. No worse than an average comedy cast from the era, understandable as the genres were once bedfellows, but it just isn’t funny or ironic enough to break the feeling this thing has been produced to within an inch of its life. It’s all part of the myth though. Musicals have to hit a certain predictable comfort zone for the audience, or they just don’t work.

For a film about Hollywood, it has no bite at all, not even a knowing wink here or there. It’s full-on Hollywood fantasy and instead of a narrative, it’s merely a series of sketches. Neither it nor even the characters have any personality. By the time Cosmo (Donald O’Connor) sang “Make ‘Em Laugh”, I’d given up hope. Cosmo and Don were supposed to be a double-act, yet Cosmo doesn’t show the slightest problem with being shut out? I found that very odd, especially when they both dived in on a couple of numbers. 

Part of the problem reviewing a film like this is that the performances are undeniably brilliant (although the “Make ‘Em Laugh” sequence is overdone), but they belong on a stage. Then you wouldn’t have the weird feeling they’re performing for us, the audience, but then ignoring us between the songs. I found the last big number about Broadway near the can’t-come-soon-enough-end about Broadway to easily be the best one visually, with a great sense of depth and loads of colour. Unfortunately it also felt like they threw in everything they had left, without a care about pacing. It’s very messy and just drags the film on even longer than it needed to be. I did like the ending. Well, the bit on stage before the vomit inducing love song...

I know I’m wrong and musical fans will probably think of this film like cat-nip! So sorry about this review, which is hardly a balanced opinion for a prospective viewer. Normally I can consider how good a film is despite my own dislike of it, but a musical is definitely my cinematic blind spot so I just can't put it in context. I know that essentially they are supposed to be light frothy fun and I might as well have kicked a puppy! Even the very famous sequence of Kelly performing the title song couldn’t win me over. Oh, he’s a good mover, don’t misunderstand me, but… you know, Morecambe and Wise edge it for me!  ;D


Offline Antares

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Re: Jon's Random Reviews
« Reply #173 on: April 09, 2011, 11:35:09 PM »
That was the best review you've written so far. Every sentiment you expressed made me feel like the words were popping out of my own mouth. I hope you post it in its entirety, including the Morecambe & Wise sketch, at Filmspotters.

Offline Kathy

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Re: Jon's Random Reviews
« Reply #174 on: April 09, 2011, 11:42:54 PM »
Sorry boys but you're both wrong.  :tease:

It might be all that you say Jon, but I love this movie - it makes me happy.

When I watch it with my youngest niece and 3 nephews it makes them sing and dance. There can't be a more positive review for a film than one that touches the soul of children.


Offline Antares

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Re: Jon's Random Reviews
« Reply #175 on: April 09, 2011, 11:50:54 PM »
There can't be a more positive review for a film than one that touches the soul of children.

Kathy, you could film someone farting and it would also touch the soul of most children.  :tease: :laugh:

Najemikon

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Re: Jon's Random Reviews
« Reply #176 on: April 09, 2011, 11:53:17 PM »
That was the best review you've written so far. Every sentiment you expressed made me feel like the words were popping out of my own mouth. I hope you post it in its entirety, including the Morecambe & Wise sketch, at Filmspotters.

Nice of you to say, and yes, I have posted it in full.  ;)

Sorry boys but you're both wrong.  :tease:

It might be all that you say Jon, but I love this movie - it makes me happy.

When I watch it with my youngest niece and 3 nephews it makes them sing and dance. There can't be a more positive review for a film than one that touches the soul of children.

Kathy, I don't mean to be a cynic, but kids respond to Barney the purple dinosaur as well! Look, there are hundreds of films I'd recommend long before this. Top of the list, would actually be a musical! Mary Poppins. Next, Matilda. Number three, The Princess Bride. Number four, Hue and Cry. I could go on, but I would expect to reach Singin' In The Rain at about 342...  :training:

 :tease:

edit: I was about to post this before Antares' reply. I suppose we're coming from the same angle! Actually, Thunderpants would even make the list before this, somewhere around the 260 mark, probably. :hysterical:

Offline Kathy

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Re: Jon's Random Reviews
« Reply #177 on: April 09, 2011, 11:55:15 PM »
 :hysterical:

Offline Antares

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Re: Jon's Random Reviews
« Reply #178 on: April 09, 2011, 11:58:09 PM »
That was the best review you've written so far. Every sentiment you expressed made me feel like the words were popping out of my own mouth. I hope you post it in its entirety, including the Morecambe & Wise sketch, at Filmspotters.

Nice of you to say, and yes, I have posted it in full.  ;)

By tomorrow morning you'll be properly lambasted over there. I can't wait to see it, and then staunchly defend your observations.

Najemikon

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Re: Jon's Random Reviews
« Reply #179 on: April 10, 2011, 12:04:17 AM »
That was the best review you've written so far. Every sentiment you expressed made me feel like the words were popping out of my own mouth. I hope you post it in its entirety, including the Morecambe & Wise sketch, at Filmspotters.

Nice of you to say, and yes, I have posted it in full.  ;)

By tomorrow morning you'll be properly lambasted over there. I can't wait to see it, and then staunchly defend your observations.

Oooh, hope so! The initial reply has been balanced: Loves musicals, but never liked this one...