Showing posts with label Willem Defoe. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Willem Defoe. Show all posts

Sunday, 17 February 2013


Lars von Trier’s censor terrorising, award winning 2009 horror film Antichrist was the first film I saw from the Danish art house Director and its beauty, graphic violence and almost pornographic visuals left me stunned for days. For the last couple of years I’ve been trying to get my girlfriend (who disliked Melancholia more than I did) to watch it, in part because I knew it would disgust her. Much to my relief it did. Antichrist is one of the most violent and certainly the most sexually explicit film I’ve ever seen but it isn’t simply a trashy exploitation Tits & Guts horror, it is a well crafted, beautifully made and deeply traumatic horror film.

Antichrist begins with a prologue featuring a married couple who are never named (Willem Defoe & Charlotte Gainsbourg) making love in super slow motion. The scene is filmed in black and white and using a camera capable of capturing a thousand frames a second. While the couple pound away their young son climbs out of his cot and heads towards an open window before falling to his death. The couple enter into the grieving process in very different ways with the husband taking a clinical approach while the wife spirals deeper and deeper into depression. The film is divided into chapters which mirror Gainsbourg’s emotional state with Grief being followed by Pain and Despair. The couple make the decision to relocate to a cabin in the woods but the wife’s emotional state takes a dark and bloody turn for the worst.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

The Hunter

The Hunter was a film I began to hear good things about late last spring but was unfortunately unable to find a screening anywhere close to my local area (which happens to be the third largest city in the UK). In the end I probably saved myself a needless trip to the local Art House Cinema as although featuring some decent moments and a good central performance, The Hunter isn’t a film worth writing home about.

A mercenary/hunter (Willem Defoe) is employed by a shady European biotech company to travel to Tasmania and track the illusive, presumed extinct Tasmanian Tiger. The animal, which hasn’t been seen in the wild since 1930 is believed to have had a venom in its bite which was capable of paralysing its prey. The company, Red Leaf, wish to extract that venom for use in their biotechnology business. When he arrives in Tasmania, the hunter stays with a family who have recently experienced loss and attracts the unwanted attention of local loggers who are fearful for their jobs.

Saturday, 6 October 2012


Platoon takes us through a tour of the Vietnam War through the eyes of the fresh and idealistic young volunteer Chris Taylor (Charlie Sheen). We follow Taylor from his first day in Nam to his final battle accompanied by voice-over which expresses his thoughts, worries and ideas. The film appears to accurately portray the day-to-day life of a soldier in the jungle and promotes the views of the monotonous nature of infantry warfare which is punctuated by moments of extreme violence. Platoon creates an environment for its cast whereby the characters fear not only the Vietcong and jungle but also each other as tensions and rivalries run high and suspicion spreads like wildfire. Personally I think it is one of the finest war movies ever made and it went on to win four Oscars including Best Director and Best Picture at the 59th Academy Awards.  

Friday, 21 September 2012

Fantastic Mr. Fox

When I first saw Fantastic Mr. Fox at the cinema in 2009 I fell asleep. I think this is the only time I’ve ever slept through a film and although there were mitigating circumstances I still feel bad as Wes Anderson is one of my favourite Directors. I’ve loved all of his pre Mr. Fox films and Moonrise Kingdom is one of my favourite films of 2012 so far. One of the reasons I fell asleep three years ago was because I was bored by the film but due to my love of Anderson’s work I felt the need to go back and reassess it. Unfortunately my first viewing experience was very similar to my second; the film bored me and I consider it Anderson’s worst film by quite some distance.

Based on Roald Dahl’s book of the same name the plot centres upon a fox (George Clooney) who despite promising his wife (Meryl Streep) that he would stop killing farmer’s chickens for a living, can’t resist one final spree in which he goes for three local farms, run by the meanest farmers around.

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.

Monday, 12 March 2012

John Carter

"Good God... I'm on Mars!"

Civil War veteran John Carter (Taylor Kitch) is on the run from the law and takes shelter inside a cave in which he discovers gold. Before he can mine it however a man appears as if from nowhere and attacks him. Carter kills the man and repeats his dying words. Suddenly he is transported to a strange world where he has the ability to jump great distances. He is met by a four armed green man and taken back to his city. To cut a very, very long story short, John Carter has been transported to Mars and gets embroiled in another civil war.

The first thing I have to say about the film is that Disney should never have changed the title to John Carter from John Carter of Mars. This was done for the ridiculous reason that Disney executives believed that the Mars part of the title would put people off as not everyone wants to watch Science Fiction. They were obviously unaware that Avatar is the highest grossing film of all time and that 16 of the top 20 top grossing films of all time contain at least some science fiction or fantasy elements, whether it be Orcs, Wizards or Robots beating each other. The decision makes no sense. All one has to do is see the poster or trailer and it is pretty obvious that it is a sci-fi film. The first word spoken is ‘Mars’ for heavens sake!

As for the film itself, it starts with a funny and exciting chase across the Arizona desert when the action is suddenly transported to Mars which looks realistic (although I’ve never been). Carter meets a Thark which are well designed creatures with a well thought out an interesting culture and story. From then on, I kind of lost interest in the story. Carter meets a beautiful princess (Lynn Collins) who is on one side of the war and he decides to help her. The problem is that you learn very little about the two cultures involved in the Civil War. You have no real reason for backing one over the other except one has a beautiful princess while the other has Dominic West in Xena the Warrior Princess’ hand me downs and a blue laser weapon.

The large battle scenes lack the heat, intensity and passion of say Helms Deep in The Lord of the Rings and are over in a matter of seconds. And because you know so little about the protagonists, they just feel like faceless pixels. The entire quest theme of the film is flat and dull. Carter spends much of the film trying to get back to Earth but the character isn’t interesting enough for you to care if he does or not. The costumes the human like character wear feel very Conan the Barbarian and as a result feel a bit dated and cheap. The film isn’t camp enough to pull the look of the costume off. On the plus side, the design of the film as a whole is excellent. The CGI is also excellent. As I mentioned, the non humanoid aliens look terrific, as does their pet, a dog like creature that happens to be the highlight of the film. The cities look detailed and sumptuous and the ships feel mechanical and real. Unfortunately the film reminded me too much of other, better films such as Star Wars and Gladiator and that just made me think “why am I not watching those instead?”

While the film is really just a simple love story intertwined with the search for ones identity, it is complicated quite a bit by the number of names, species and words which the script creates. Some people have complained about this and while it is a bit confusing and off-putting at times people forgave Star Wars its Jedi, Sith and Midiclorians and Harry Potter’s Dementors, Muggles and Horcruxes so perhaps John Carter deserves a break in this respect. Perhaps the reason it has got so much flack for its Tharks, Xavarians and Sab Thans is because the story isn’t compelling enough for the audience to want to take notice of what all of those things are and understand what they mean. The script itself is ok but hardly in Sorkin territory. There is quite a bit of cheesy dialogue. Usually I’d overlook that in an action sci-fi film but when the writer has also been responsible for penning Toy Story, Finding Nemo and Wall:E its inexcusable. Andrew Stanton is better than that. His scripts are usually funny, flowing and flawless but that is not the case here.

Taylor Kitch is well cast as John Carter. He pulls of the Civil War veteran part of the role well and his confusion on Mars is funny while he is great in the action sequences. Lynn Collins, although beautiful is wooden as Princess Dejah and Dominic West seems to be playing the bad guy with Flash Gordon levels of camp which unfortunately the rest of the film doesn’t have. Perhaps it would have benefited from not taking itself so seriously. Willem Defoe is great as Tars the Thark and Samantha Morton equally excels as his daughter Sola. Mark Strong is scary and intimidating as bad guy Matai Shang. Andrew Stanton’s direction is better than his writing. He makes the leap from animation to live action well and has created a believable world populated at least in part with interesting creatures and characters.

In the end, the film didn’t keep my attention for long enough and the characters lacked the depth to make me worry about their fate. It ends very strongly though and I would go back to the world for a sequel.    

  •  Additional - I have no opinion about the 3D in the film as I've given up with 3D on the whole and saw it in 2D. I'm fed up of paying more for an inferior product.