Showing posts with label 2002. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 2002. Show all posts

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Gangs of New York

It’s been a couple of years since my last viewing of Martin Scorsese’s historical epic, Gangs of New York. It’s a movie I’ve seen several times since I first saw it in 2002 as my first ‘18’ rated movie at the cinema. It’s a film I’ve always had a lot of affection for. I found it strange then that on this particular viewing, the movie had lost a lot of its charm.

Loosely based on the 1928 book of the same name, Gangs of New York is a dirty and blood-soaked account of the various gangs which vied for control over New York City’s Five Points in the middle of the 19th Century. Focussing specifically on two characters, it takes historical context and real names, mixing them into a world of fact and fiction with some glorious set pieces and cinematic design. Having witnessed his father’s death at the hands of Bill ‘the Butcher’ Cutting (Daniel Day-Lewis) as a young child, Amsterdam Vallon (Leonardo Di Caprio) comes back to the Five Points as an adult to reap revenge. He finds the Points much the same as he left it; a squalid and rat infested mismatch of languages and races, the very thing which Cutting despises about the area in which he is King.

Saturday, 22 June 2013


While recently discussing beautiful actresses for last week’s Six of the Best feature, a friend asked if Monica Bellucci was in consideration for inclusion on the list. I had to be honest and say that although I knew the name, I didn’t know what the actress looked like and couldn’t name any of her films. I was told that she was in the film Irreversible, that it was horrible and that I should watch it. Again, like the actress, the film and its notoriety wasn’t unknown to me but I hadn’t seen it. The following discussion was filled with reasons as to why I should and shouldn’t watch it and I agreed with my friend bringing the film to work later in the week. I was warned however that under no circumstances should I watch it with my girlfriend. I was to wait until she was out or away or something, but just not in the house. Now I’ve seen the movie, I’m glad I heeded his advice.

Irreversible is a movie which wants to make you uncomfortable from the very get go. Its interesting title sequence features back to front wording which seems to slide off the screen as the ‘camera’ rotates like the hand of a clock while pulsating, barely audible noise plays over it. This infrasound has been clinically proven to create anxiety, revulsion and sorrow when played to humans and it successfully created all three in me. The plot uses a non linear narrative to tell of two men who attempt to enact revenge after a rape. Beginning at the end and finishing at the beginning, the film isn’t difficult to understand and it’s much simpler than the likes of Memento. The structure is fascinating and works really well to create at times, tension, panic, worry, and towards the end, a welcome sense of calm coupled with impending dread.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

The Mothman Prophecies

This 2002 supernatural thriller is based on the true events of a 1967 disaster that struck a small town in West Virginia. It wasn’t a film I’d ever heard of and had read nothing of it before seeing it. The DVD was leant to me by a friend at work. I have serious problems with the idea, plot, direction and acting but my enjoyment increased the longer I stuck with it. Despite finding little pleasure for most of the two hours, by the end I was satisfied that I’d seen a fairly gripping and occasionally interesting thriller.

Two years after his wife’s death, newspaper columnist John Klein (Richard Gere) is driving south from Washington DC to Richmond, Virginia when his car breaks down. To his shock he discovers that he has broken down far west of where he thought he was and is in fact on the West Virginia – Ohio border, in the small town of Mount Pleasant. The town is home to some unexplained apparitions and premonitions which mirror those that plagued his wife in the hours before her death. People even begin drawing pictures that look like her own and when the predictions begin to come true, Klein attempts to track down the strange Mothman who is spotted all over town.

Monday, 3 December 2012

The Two Towers

Following on from 2001’s The Fellowship of the Ring, the second instalment of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy finds the Fellowship disbanded. The plot follows what remains of the party in three separate storylines which barely cross paths. Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas set about trying to find Merry and Pippen while killing as many Orcs as they can along the way. The aforementioned Hobbits meanwhile end up in a strange forest full of giant tree herders known as Ents and Frodo and his companion Sam head on towards Mordor, determined to destroy the One Ring. It isn’t long though before they are joined by another companion, Gollum, the former owner of the ring, a creature torn apart by its power and hold over him.

Much like The Fellowship I loved The Two Towers when I first saw it but as my enjoyment of the first has diminished over time, the same can be said for its sequel, only more so. In terms of how much I enjoy the trilogy, this middle part is my least favourite, though not by much. This instalment also has themes which stretch beyond the reach of Middle Earth such as industrialisation and ecology. It also features a battle which lasts close to forty minutes and is considered by many to be one of the greatest ever committed to the big screen.

Friday, 30 November 2012

Punch Drunk Love

Paul Thomas Anderson’s third film and his shortest by some mark is Punch Drunk Love, a fantastically extrovert romantic comedy which combines shades of Coen-esque humour and dare I say Lynch-ian motifs of magical realism and dual personality. The film is unlike any romantic comedy I’ve seen before and personally I prefer it to the likes of There Will be Blood and The Master for which the Director is better known.

Although the plot is often a bit thin and sometimes incidental it concerns a lonely and occasionally awkward man called Barry (Adam Sandler) who owns a small business that sells novelty toilet plungers. Barry has the misfortune of having seven sisters, a situation which emasculates him and causes him no end of hassle and grief. One day while at work Barry witnesses a horrific car accident and suddenly ends up with a harmonium. That same day he also meets a pretty girl called Lena (Emily Watson). Sometime later, while lonely, Barry calls a premium rate sex line, a move which brings about a lot more pain and hassle than even seven sisters can muster.

Friday, 7 September 2012

The Royal Tenenbaums

I first saw this film when I was about sixteen on one of my frequent trips to the cinema with friends. When one of them told me about it I thought it sounded awful. I was used to seeing action and comedy films on a Friday night and didn’t want to sit through a film about some family and an old man dying. In the end the film completely shocked me and helped to introduce me to the joys of cinema, seeing passed the Friday night popcorn movies to which I was accustomed. It was also the first of many Wes Anderson films that I fell in love with. I often site Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver as being the film which opened my eyes to cinema but thinking about it now, this film did the same thing, albeit to a lesser extent, two years earlier.

Royal Tenenbaum (Gene Hackman) is thrown out of his house by his wife (Anjelica Houston) before their three genius children (Ben Stiller, Luke Wilson, Gwyneth Paltrow) reach their teens. This has a far reaching impact on all of their lives and none of the three grow up to fully reach their potential. Playwrite Margot (Paltrow) stops writing, Tennis champion Richie (Wilson) retires ages twenty-six after a breakdown and business guru Chas (Stiller) becomes overly protective of his own children following the untimely death of his wife. After years of being out of the picture, Royal decides he wants to become reacquainted with his quirky children but ends up going about it in all the wrong ways.

Monday, 18 June 2012


"Your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man"

A geeky high school kid, Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) is on a field trip to a genetics laboratory when he is bitten by a genetically engineered spider. Soon after he feels unwell but wakes up the next morning to discover that he is feeling better than ever, can see without his glasses and has new muscle tone in place of his once scrawny physique. Peter also discovers that his reactions are greatly heightened and that he is stronger and faster than ever before. After the untimely death of his Uncle, Peter decides to put his new found attributes to the test and adopts the moniker Spider-Man. This is just in time it seems as New York City comes under attack from The Green Goblin and only Spider-Man can stop him.

I saw this film ten years ago when it was first released and although I’ve never been into Comics, even I knew the Spider-Man origins story at that time. At the time I remember thinking that it was really good but after ten years I’ve changed my mind. Perhaps it is because the film has aged, maybe it’s because I’ve seen it before or maybe it’s just because it doesn’t match recent Comic book adaptations but this time around I was unimpressed.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Infernal Affairs

"Remember this, if you see someone doing something but at the same time watching you... then he is a cop"

Triad boss Hon Sam (Eric Tsang) sends a group of young gangsters to join the Hong Kong Police academy with the hope that they will infiltrate the department, rise through the ranks and help him to avoid the attentions of the Police. One of the most successful of these youngsters is Lau (Andy Lau) who ascends the chain of command rapidly. One of Lau’s fellow cadets Chan Wing-yan (Tony Leung) is expelled from the Academy but secretly becomes an undercover cop, hoping to infiltrate Sam’s Triads.

The film is full of suspense and suspicion as we go back and forth between the two moles, both trying to discover the other’s identity while keeping theirs hidden. The plot is highly original, complex and fascinating but it’s a shame I’d already seen Martin Scorsese's fantastic remake The Departed because I knew how things were going to pan out. Even though I knew the ending there were still enough differences and surprises to keep the action fresh. The film also feels much more like a Michael Mann film than a Scorsese.