This Must Be the Place is a film which frustrated me. In amongst its less appealing aspects are some great camera work, interesting ideas and flawless deadpan performance from Sean Penn but this is all stifled by a script which doesn’t know what it wants to be and despite introducing some heavy topics, doesn’t have anything to say. The film centres on an aging and bored American Rock Star called Cheyenne (Sean Penn). Cheyenne, still dressed in his Goth rock attire, shuffles around his Irish Mansion and into town where he stares aimlessly at supermarket shelves. His lack of vigour is stark contrast to the joyful expressions of his wife Jane (Frances McDormand) who occasionally attempts to remove the gloom from her husband’s life. One day Cheyenne decides he is going to attempt to reconcile with his estranged father and travels back to New York to see him. Arriving too late he instead takes it upon himself to go on a road trip and track down the 90 year old ex-Nazi who persecuted his father in Auschwitz.
Friday, 5 April 2013
Saturday, 26 January 2013
Arnold Schwarzenegger always promised that he’d be back and ten years since his last leading role he is, in Kim Ji-woon’s Action movie The Last Stand. For Arnie in front of the screen, little has changed. He may have lost some bulk in certain areas and gained some in others but his strengths and weaknesses remain constant. He remains a compelling screen presence and can still kick ass with the best of them but his acting hasn’t improved. I had no intention of seeing The Last Stand until I found to my surprise that its Director was one of my favourites, Kim Ji-woon, the highly accomplished Korean Director of the Asian-Western The Good, the Bad and the Weird and the grisly I Saw the Devil amongst many others. So, I got up at 8:30am on a Saturday and with my girlfriend away for the weekend, braved the snow and took a bus to our local multiplex. It’s safe to say that Schwarzenegger isn’t the box office draw he once was and there were 329 empty seats in the auditorium. How do I know that? Because I counted them during a first half which is full of needless exposition, crummy dialogue and weak characterisation. Things liven up in the second half but I’d been better off staying in bed.
Wednesday, 23 January 2013
Nominated for four Oscars and the winner of one, Cool Hand Luke is an anti-establishment tale of triumph of spirit set in a Florida Prison Camp. Highly decorated but jaded war veteran Lucas Jackson (Paul Newman) is sent to prison for two years after drunkenly destroying parking meters. Life inside the camp is tough but Luke endears himself to his fellow inmates thanks to his ‘never give up’ spirit and lust for life. Following a couple of failed escape attempts though the prison guards come down hard on Luke and life inside begins to take its toll.
I’d never heard of this film before a couple of weeks ago when a friend recommended it and subsequently lent it to me. Grateful as I am, had I never seen it I don’t think I would have been too bothered. For me Cool Hand Luke is a decent prison movie but nothing more. I rarely found the conditions or treatment of Luke to be overly harsh until one scene mid way through and apart from the gruelling work, life inside the jail didn’t seem that bad. What the movie gets across though is a spirit of refusal to give up or bow down which not only sits well with the 1960s period in which it was made and set but also continues to work well today.
Sunday, 9 December 2012
Director Martin McDonaugh’s difficult second album, Seven Psychopaths is the Irish Director’s follow up to the 2008 sleeper hit In Bruges. The massively disjointed plot concerns a screenwriter called Martin (Colin Farrell) and his inability to complete his latest script which he has titled Seven Psychopaths. His writing is hampered by a drink problem and his disruptive friend Billy (Sam Rockwell), a dog kidnapper. One day Billy and his friend Hans (Christopher Walken) kidnap a dog belonging to gangster Charlie Costello (Woody Harrelson). Martin’s script begins to take shape as he encounters more and more psychopaths but the three friends end up on the run while trying to escape the Mob.
I’ve been looking forward to Seven Psychopaths for a long time and when I first saw the trailer a few months back I instantly watched it again because I loved it so much. It’s with a heavy heart then that now having seen the film I have to report that it’s a bit, average. There are some clever ideas in there and some great little vignettes but on the whole there is far too much going on. Several times I thought to myself “That would make a good movie” but then it was dropped instantly. Despite several good performances, some great direction and a few funny moments I left feeling underwhelmed.
Wednesday, 30 May 2012
"You just... disappeared. And now I'm working here. I hear your voice all the time. Every man has your voice"
Four years after going missing Travis Henderson (Harry Dean Stanton) walks out of the vast
desert. After collapsing in a saloon a doctor treats him and discovers his
brother’s business card in his wallet. Travis’ brother Walt (Dean Stockwell)
to meet his brother and has many questions for him. Travis appears to be mute
however and doesn’t eat, sleep or talk for days. When he finally opens his
mouth it is revealed that he remembers little about the last four years. Dean
takes Travis back to his Texas
home where he and his wife Anne (Aurore Clement) have been looking after Travis’
seven year old son Hunter (Hunter Carson) since Travis’ wife Jane (Nastassja Kinski)
left him with them and disappeared herself. Travis has to try and re-assimilate
himself back into every day life and reconnect with his young son before
setting out to try and find his estranged wife. L.A.
In many ways this film reminded me of director Wim Wenders 1976 film Kings of the Road. Both films take place mostly on the road in quiet, almost desolate places with two characters who barely know each other. This film is more about the family unit and loss but is equally as good. The film won the Palme d’Or at
as well as
numerous other prizes and it’s fantastic. Cannes
Sunday, 6 May 2012
"I got you, you son of a bitch!"
With Prometheus just a couple of weeks away I thought it was about time I filled one of the most unforgivable gaps in my film history and finally watch Alien. The crew of the Nostromo are in stasis on a return trip to Earth, carrying a cargo of mineral ore. They are awakened early by the ship’s computer as it has intercepted a transmission for a nearby planetoid. Upon investigation, crew member Kane (John Hurt) discovers what appear to be eggs inside an unidentified ship. A life form hatches out of one of the eggs and attaches itself to his face. Returning to the Nostromo the crew try to detach the creature from Kane’s face but with no success. A short time later the creature removes itself from Kane and the crew find it dead. While preparing to go back into stasis for the return to Earth something extraordinary happens that unleashes an even greater threat to the ship and the crew.
My first thoughts were that the Nostromo reminded me of so much I’ve seen already. It is obvious how much influence the film has had on subsequent science fiction. The living quarters reminded me of the film Moon and in just about every other scene I said to myself “That’s just like Red Dwarf”. Everything about the film’s design was excellent. The ship felt large and real and the creature design was incredible. Considering the film is now over thirty years old, the latex or prosthetics that were used looked really good. Even now. Obviously some aspects of the film have aged noticeably. The computers for instance look as old as they are. This isn’t a major problem though as anything older than about five years or without a touch screen looks aged.