The album Biophilia was release a couple of years ago, met with rave reviews. In her acclaimed concert tour, with a mini narration by David Attenborough, Biophilia not only conquered in portraying the artists latest album, but ranged into a back catalogue of tunes. Adorned in an exquisite outfit that mirrored both extra terrestrial and interstellar life, yet honed in on the earthly elements, Bjork performed with enough passion that enthused out of the Icelandic singer’s vocals. Awash with a sea of an affectionate and excitable audience, all cheering along to the set list, this was a concert movie unlike any other.
Nature, music and technology are melded together is the sound of Biophilia. For the concert filmed at Alexander Palace Björk is joined on stage by a percussionist, a tech guy, a menagerie of specially designed instruments and an Icelandic choir. These instruments were especially designed by the singer for the recording and performance of the album. These are wonderful inventions – Gravity Pendulum Harp, Sharpsicord, MIDI controlled pipe organ, Gameleste and musical Tesla coil. I’m a bit of a geek about musical instruments so I could have just watched these for the entire film.
The fabulous live show not only looks amazing but sounds it too. There are very few artists like Björk who can capture and captivate such a large live audience through her charisma and stage presence alone. The images, going out on huge screens above the stage during the concert, are periodically merged in with the performance. The weakest point is when they take centre stage. The images themselves are not strong enough as a whole to command the attention, and you feel like you’re missing out on the live action. Indeed, the most powerful and beautiful moment is when Bjork is on stage to perform Solstice just supported by the Gravity Pendulum Harp.
The concert footage is superbly filmed, using great angles and perspectives to augment inclusiveness of the venue. Resplendent in cobalt blue make-up and a colorful afro wig, Björk is a truly enchanting performer. I’ve seen very few concert films which can hold a torch to Biophilia Live.
A professional poker player falls deep into underworld when he takes an unexpected wager from a mysterious high roller. Eads is Jack, a professional gambler and expert at just scraping by. His talents also include constantly disappointing his ex-wife and daughter, as well as running up huge debts to the wrong people. Jack’s primary debt is to Carl and the amazingly named Paulie Trunks. These two barely-in-the-film heavies could have been uninteresting stereotypes, but the casting of Jones and Seagal livens them up immeasurably – even just because they become amusing. Carl is an MMA trainer who calls everyone “son”, while Seagal play his mob boss as some kind of guru. Think Brando if he grew a ponytail and took yoga too seriously.
And while we’re learning about Jack and his lifestyle the film manages to keep your attention with a likable performance from George Eads. Jack may not be the most dependable person in the world but behind the wide-boy image and cheeky banter is a heart of gold and Eads manages to sell us on Jack very easily and quickly, and once he meets up with Duffy the film steps up a gear and the heart of the story is revealed.
However, once the the pivotal moment occurs the film slows right down and begins to lag as the aftermath of Jack’s actions plays out. Ted Levine is introduced as Lewis, another part of the criminal gang Jack has crossed, and adds a little bit of off-kilter menace but the story seems to fall back on convention as Jack mooches around trying to figure out his next move. Even the late-in-the-game second appearance of Steven Seagal doesn’t do much to shift things along, his generic mob boss voice providing a little humor but whether that was intentional or not isn’t quite clear. Vinnie Jones is always better when he does his quiet intimidation act rather than shouting and swearing his way through any given scene and that’s what he does here, although if he wasn’t in the film at all it wouldn’t really make that much of a difference.
For the most part Gutshot is entertaining enough and having Steven Seagal and Vinnie Jones in supporting roles instead of being in the thick of the action was a wise move. Production-wise the film looks great with some slick and colorful visuals, the acting is pretty good and the story set-up is fantastic and really draws you in, but the final act really feels like a slog to get through, especially as the end result is fairly predictable and unremarkable. Nevertheless, if stylish crime thrillers are your thing then Gutshot isn’t the worst example you could invest 85 minutes of your life in.
It’s a slow pace and if you like bells and whistles and CGI rather than real life and emotions then don’t bother with this… it’s a gripping, sad, heartbreaking and heartwarming tale or triumph over adversity, courage and strength of spirit with an ending that if you don’t have a tear in your eye then you are dead inside. The story is unique and interesting, and is told with a series of flashbacks to Eric Lomax, our protagonist’s (Firth), experiences of WW2. As the film is set in fairly dreary locations (prison camps and drab apartments), it’s not the most visually exciting thing to watch, and the edit/pacing leaves a bit to be desired – at several points, we find the present-day Eric Lomax (Firth) suddenly transported back to his POW camp in Asia without anything to clue us off as to whether he travelled there (a single plane shot would’ve done it) or, as in at least one case, is hallucinating.
It’s during a train ride that he meets Patricia Wallace, a recently divorced and well-read woman. During their marriage, Patricia soon discovers that he still suffers from his traumatic past and is still haunted by his Japanese torturers. A gripping story, subtly and respectfully filmed. There’s no use of a lot of action-packed scenes or terrible horrifying images of tortures. It’s rather the lack of it that causes an oppressive feeling and that gives you an idea of the terrible conditions in which these POW’s were living. The nightmares Eric had sometimes and his comatose state of mind was performed in an impressive way. The story jumps back and forth between the past and the present, and delivers sometimes real postcard-images: like the loving couple on the beach with an umbrella flying away or the images at the end of the movie with the finished railway in Burma. These beautiful images are in stark contrast with the sordid and degrading images of the shown Japanese camps. The hopeless situation, the emaciated bodies of the dead tired workers who succumb during heavy forced labor, inhuman conditions and the constant torture and punishments they faced. A tarnished image of the Japanese: cruel, callous, ruthless, extraordinarily hard and sadistic. A black page in their history they seemingly got away with easily. It is as if they torn that page, burned it and tried to forget about it as soon as possible.
While it might look like a romance, this is only a small portion of the movie and viewers should be warned–there are a few intense images you see in Eric’s flashbacks–imaged of the ghastliness of war and war crimes. This is why the film is rated R, though I really think it is appropriate to show to teens provided you watch it with them and discuss what you’ve seen. All in all, a great example of a film with a bigger budget and some very big name actors who managed to impress me–though it somehow failed pretty miserably in the box office. Perhaps it wasn’t marketed well, perhaps folks were put off by the idea of a man suffering with PTSD…all I know is that for Firth and Kidman, it’s among the best work they’ve ever done and is an incredibly moving film.
What I saw was a well written, directed, acted true story that did not stray from the path of the woven tale that it was telling. Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth are well cast together, they bring this strong story to life sympathetically that only they can. As a northerner it was lovely to see many scenes of Berwick and Lindisfarne which was a bonus because now a days some films are shot in another country and try to fool the viewer that it was shot in the original place. This film touches on some strong areas that may be taboo but it does not shy away from them but handles them sympathetically that only this story can. A credit to all parties involved may you receive the accolades that you deserve from this excellent tale of forgiveness that highlights a 360 degree view of this war and it’s impact that resounds through the decades and generations.
During the chaotic final weeks of the Vietnam War, the North Vietnamese Army closes in on Saigon as the panicked South Vietnamese people desperately attempt to escape. On the ground, American soldiers and diplomats confront the same moral quandary: whether to obey White House orders to evacuate U.S. citizens only–or to risk treason and save the lives of as many South Vietnamese citizens as they can.
This documentary was extremely well made and it includes some never seen before footage of the chaotic evacuation from Saigon. For an hour and a half I was glued to the movie screen. The story telling is excellent and it includes words from both the Americans and the South Vietnamese. Perhaps it would have been interesting to add a perspective from the North Vietnamese who were storming the city and why they allowed the helicopters to leave without challenging the evacuation. All and in all and excellent documentary and one that I enjoyed very much.
Rory Kennedy is a masterful story teller, and has combined that talent with historical accuracy in this engaging and truthful documentary. Having been a former AP reporter in Vietnam, I can verify that the US evacuation in 1975 is a little told story—a critical element of the war story, but often disregarded in the annuls of this war. But the evacuation is a catalyst for Ms. Kennedy to recreate the dynamics of how easy it is to get into war, but how difficult to get out. For Vietnam veterans, often not wanting to talk about their war experiences, Ms. Kennedy deftly interweaves the soldiers stories who were there, with an out of touch US ambassador who refused to believe that Saigon would ever be defeated, to a Congress that blocked any more funding to support a falling regime.
But the soul of this story is how they all were morally and personally torn by leaving behind many of their Vietnamese counterparts who could not be evacuated in a very hasty and uncoordinated US departure. To add another original dimension, one of the US Kirk navy men had hours of 8mm footage of the evacuation that was uncovered in his attic and remastered by Ms. Kennedy for use on the documentary. One of our soldiers spoke for many of our troops when he said “that he sometimes even dreamed in Vietnamese.” In one of the same, this may have been a small part of the war’s history, but at the same time epitomized the entire war in 98 minutes of drama, skilled cinematography, stunning resolution and sound, and the riveting pain of war. As an educator and child advocate, I would urge that this be used as a resource in every social studies, history, and political science class rooms in the country.
When you see a movie directed by The Grudge, you would expect something of similar standards. The concept of the movie is very interesting, and the characters are quite well-developed, given that the whole of this movie takes place on a plane. I was interested in this movie because i was interested in how a horror movie would happen on a plane. The characters in fact needed to be interesting and they were. I thought the trip should have started in Japan to provide a contrast and some extra interest at he beginning. The trip would have been better departing Tokyo and proceeding to the States. Actually it would have been good to see a few more Japanese characters in it since it could have helped make it an extraordinary movie rather than just a competent movie. I am being careful not to write spoilers. I will mention that a couple of the devices had been used before and one or two of them had been used a couple of times too often before.
t’s your typical passengers on a plane horror film. If you’ve been watching the genre for longer than a month, and you have an IQ over 70, you’ll be able to guess the ‘twist’ ending, which has been beat to death (pun intended.) This movie is one of the poorest attempts at horror I’ve ever seen. The premise itself isn’t terrible, but the execution is what is god awful. First off, the acting is bad all around which is weird because there are a lot of names in this movie, but everyone is just a walking stereotype with nothing much to contribute. The suspense in non-existent and the scares of the jump scare variety and they are not even trying with those kinds of scares. If you didn’t know it was from the director of The Grudge, don’t worry because the director still uses the water and long haired ghost he loves so much here as well. Then there’s the twist that is completely predictable where I can seriously bet that a ten year old who hasn’t seen a horror movie in his life would know how it would end.
At about 80 minutes, it’s a short film that feels much longer with a far too lengthy opening act and very little happening to fill up the remaining short run time. Interesting to see a few scenes incorporated from the classic Twilight Zone episode Nightmare at 20,000 Feet, which is infinitely better than this. Come to think of it, so is the old 1973 TV Movie, The Horror at 37,000 Feet. This one has the look and feel of a half-assed direct-to-video product, despite some effort from the game cast. No spoiler or spoiler warnings are necessary–you’ll have figured it all out long before the big “reveal.”
It’s sad that the whole concept for the movie (which is actually VERY GOOD) got ruined with such a bad sound editing and sloppy CG because, other than that, this could had resulted in a very good movie. In fact, i would go and say that this movie is 10 times more interesting than non-stop, but non-stop was better presented because it actually had a good sound editor and CG effects. I’m sure this same movie filmed with the team that made non-stop could had resulted in a wonderful cinema experience, right as it is, non-stop is professionally filmed but mediocre at best and this movie has a very well developed idea that gone wrong in the process of doing it.
When alleged international arms dealer Viktor Bout was arrested in 2008, the media had a field day. Called a “merchant of death” and fictionalized by Nic Cage in Lord of War, Bout made fantastic headlines, especially in a terrorist-sensitize post-9/11 climate. But Bout claims he’s just a business man. Yuri Orlov is from a Ukrainian family in Little Odessa, NY. As a young man he has an epiphany witnessing a Russian mafia hit. Being an arms dealer is the path to success. He finds that he also has an innate gift for his chosen profession. He enlists his brother Vitaly into the business. Yuri truly becomes the Lord of War supplying arms to anyone and any country for a profit. He also acts as an independent agent for undisclosed countries supplying arms to “freedom fighters”. One gets the drift. Yuri eventually hits his stride and becomes very successful and very wealthy. He marries his trophy bride, has a son, and lives in a luxury apartment in Manhattan. All the while he eludes the grasp of Interpol Agent Jack Valentine by keeping three steps ahead. Predictably Yuri’s world comes crashing in upon him. In a powerful scene with Ava who purposely ignores what her husband really does for a living, Yuri has a conscience meltdown.
Bout is undoubtedly a larger-than-life colorful character. One of his many excesses was his love of his video camera and whilst it made for some very intimate and extraordinary footage for this film, he also shot footage when he was cavorting with several warlords and some very shady despots, and that provided damning evidence when the Authorities decided to go after him. The D.E.A. set up a covert sting operation in Bangkok where it was alleged that the shipment of arms he was selling were intended to be used to kill Americans, so he was arrested and extradited to the US where he was made an example off by being given a excessively long jail sentence.
The decision to use home video footage adds a lot of color to the film. As mentioned before, this is a portrait of a man. When documentaries or biopics are made about men like Viktor Bout, the subjects themselves are rarely featured and we learn about them through people know knew them. Because we hear so much about the horrific things that the subjects did, they are no longer people – they’re more like figures, legends. While Bout is in jail and obviously unavailable to be interviewed, the home video footage speaks for itself and shows us that Bout is a person just like us all.
There’s no denying that Bout is a charismatic man and that his life story is incredibly entertaining. Not unlike The Wolf of Wall Street, the film doesn’t outright moralize or judge it’s subject. They don’t spoon feed the audience perspectives and opinions. Viewers have to work all that out for themselves. We’re dealing with a convicted arms dealer, so if you consider Bout to be an unfairly entrapped man that’s probably because you’re not considering the implications of his actions. If Bout didn’t think about that either, that’s irresponsible megalomania bordering on insanity. To allow that ambiguity into their film is a boldly admirable move by the filmmakers. However, whether this subject deserves that treatment is a reasonable question… that’s difficult to answer.
I saw this for the first time today. True, it is very ‘artsy’, I’ll give Matthew Barney and Bjork credit, they are creative and it seems they are definitely soul-mates. I do have this somewhat ‘love/hate’ relationship with Bjork. Some of her music and stuff is amazing and great, other creations of hers are just plain out unlistenable. As far as a person goes, I applaud her for her outspokenness, but she seems like she is also a very rude and arrogant person. And the fact that she admits to getting ‘roaring drunk’ frequently, drinking a liter of vodka every week since she was a teen, is not very flattering. Of course her uniqueness and style is great, but sometimes it can get downright ridiculous, childish, and obnoxious. And she’s been in fights at airports, not once but at least twice. When you read her interviews, she often contradicts herself and she just comes across as annoying and boring. And she used to be really pretty. She looks quite old in this film and now, and she certainly isn’t aging gracefully. Doesn’t she know, drinking is just going to make her age faster? OK, enough about Bjork, onto the film and soundtrack.
I knew this was going to be avant-garde, I respect that and I love many avant-garde artists. I wish I knew what kind of drugs I should take before watching this, so maybe I would understand it better. I admit, the photography and scenery are very beautiful, and many of the images are very startling. I didn’t really understand this film, maybe a few things I did, but most of it, no. I guess I did kind of appreciate the ‘cannibalistic/transformation’ scene towards the end. Some people find it ‘disturbing’, well maybe I’m jaded, I’ve seen much more ‘disturbing; in many other films. Besides, if you are familiar with Bjork or Matthew Barney, you know something at least slightly ‘disturbing’ is bound to surface somewhere. For the most part, it was just confusing and boring to me.
The soundtrack is quite awful. I’m glad I didn’t buy it. There may be a few decent tracks, but mostly very boring, the ‘music’ has no beat, no rhythm, no melody, no structure, it usually just has what sounds like random notes being blurted from whatever instrument is being played at the time. Not memorable at all. I did like the Japanese vocalist towards the end of the film though, that was quite unique.
This film was long, way too long. I had to force myself to sit through this. I won’t say the film was utter garbage, but I’ll just say it wasn’t for me. It had almost no meaning for me that I can recall. It was just too long, too abstract, and too inaccessible for me. I like to get to the point and stop beating around the bush. I’m sure some Bjork fans will really love and appreciate the film and soundtrack, and others are sure to be disappointed. I just don’t see myself ever sitting through 2.5 hours of this again or listening to the soundtrack while driving down the road or while I’m chillin’ out at the house smoking weed. I’m afraid you gotta have something a lot more potent than weed to enjoy this ‘art’.
If you’ve ever yearned for a movie where Keanu Reeves shoots a lot of people, it is time to rejoice, as the comeback for Reeves is in full effect. But as most of the other thriller movies, dramatic happenings are a little much and it may bother you. But as compared to other movies of this genre, it has an average amount of this problem! This is a good choice if you want to watch an entertaining movie and it will really entertain you. Let’s just put it this way…You wouldn’t like John Wick when he’s out of retirement. When Russian mobsters kill his beloved dog, retired hit man John Wick returns to the game he played best – and brings bloody vengeance with him.
The directorial debut from Chad Stahelski, best known as a well-regarded stunt coordinator. This movie is about motion and action and shooting people in the head, not chatter. John Wick has enough John Woo visuals to engage action die-hards because John Wick is a well known fan of and expert at shooting people in the head. I’m talking so much gun violence. It’s precise and nasty and delivered by the calm hands of Reeves’ Wick, who is as efficient as he is deadly. It is what makes him extremely terrifying both to his enemies and allies. Clever takedowns are marked with smooth glides and subtle touches. There aren’t any excess cheat cuts that let directors falsely ramp up the adrenaline while distracting from a fight. If the camera angle changes or there is a cut in the action, it’s almost always to get a better view of what is actually happening in the fight.
Between this film, last year’s 47 RONIN, and MAN OF TAI CHI, Reeves is finally embracing a B-movie career that works to his strengths. It seems like he’s finally content in knowing his acting limits and plays the “man with no name” gun-slinger type with a quiet and almost zen LE SAMOURAI tone. The primary thing everyone needs to know is that it’s an amazing action film that spends a nice amount of time winding up its main character.
Since this is a high-octane action movie and not an existential treatise on the willowy stages of grief, there was no gaping wide open door of a final scene leaving the audience wondering ‘What’s up with that?!?’ Keanu Reeves was good in the lead role, the several one-liners were very cleaver and kept a sense of humor in a plot with plenty of violence and too close for comfort realism. This movie was good, it was entertaining, well acted, and should be viewed and enjoyed by all who watch it. Bullets pierce and smash through flesh, and Reeves is their master and commander. This might just be the last great action film of 2014. Recommended.
Good Morning, Vietnam has the uncanny ability to surprise. At around the hour mark, I was convinced that the film, while funny and impossibly kinetic and energetic in tone and performance, was solely sticking to this act of energy, while maybe touching but not capitalizing at the apparent possibility of an emotional subplot. Sure enough, director Barry Levinson and writer Mitch Markowitz manage to work in a seriously believable and touching bout of sentimentality to a picture so manic one doubts that it could possibly fit comfortably inside of it. The film is the perfect blend of manic, disposable energy and tender drama that it becomes a film to seriously commend in many different departments.
Robin Williams is at the film’s core as Airman Second Class Adrian Cronauer, who arrives in 1965 Saigon to work as a DJ for the Armed Forces Radio Station. He meets and takes a liking to the straight-laced and genial Private First Class Edward Montesquieu Garlick (Forest Whitaker), who also takes a liking to Cronauer after seeing what the man can do with a microphone and a broadcasting signal. Cronauer’s radio broadcast, contrary from the archetypal and uninspired transmissions the bases were used to hearing, are irreverent and fun, with lively bursts of energy and unpredictable wit coming directly from the mind of its radio DJ. This leads him to be immensely controversial with his peers. However, Cronauer becomes supported and rejoiced by his students who attend his English language learning class on a frequent basis, proving that while he does things differently, the man has the incredibly ability to connect and to inspire.
It should be dually noted that Williams exercised the practice of improvisation while performing his wild-and-out radio shows in Good Morning, Vietnam, for it shows extreme comic energy, timing, and capability. Williams indefatigably, zealously delivers monologues of true power during his radio shows, zipping by with unprecedented comedic speeds, with jokes so sneaky and quick that you’re bound to miss at least a few. His character Cronauer doesn’t even a cohost for his radio show, as he is the sole provider of such indescribable energy and fun in the film.
Furthermore, Williams works to illustrate Markowitz’ more sentimental and emotional second half, which isn’t as emotionally manipulating as one would expect. Rather than carelessly paint a second half so somberly, immediately following a goofy but thoroughly enjoyable first half, Markowitz carefully constructs scenarios and characters for us to latch onto as likable souls victim to a senseless, brutal war. After an hour of Williams’ rampant comedic delivery, despite it being incredibly enjoyable, I was expecting the entire film to only vaguely come to an emotional or even dramatically investing second half. As Markowitz goes on, however, he totally creates a wonderful climax and conclusion to the film. In addition, let it be known that Williams works tirelessly to detail the emotions necessary for the film to succeed. He transitions ever-so naturally from manic energy to humble and sentimental, effectively but commendably illustrating a drastic divide in emotions so beautifully. The performance at hand rightfully earned him an Oscar nod and affirmed a potentially skeptical audience of Williams’ incredible on-screen energy.