Cinepub


Last Year In Film: The Hottie And The Nottie by Jamie

I can’t think of many films that have actually made feel physically ill. I can watch the most horrific scenes of gore-laden violence and not feel sick. There are times however that something pushes me over the edge and makes me feel a little bit woozy. One scene that sticks out in particular is the scene in The Fly when Jeff Goldblum is pulling out his finger nails. There, I just dry heaved whilst thinking and writing about it. Thankfully it’s just one scene. The problem is, you see, I have a major problem when it comes to nails and the disgusting things that can happen to them. Even talking about them can bring me close to puking. It’s weird, I know, but that’s just the way it is. Still, at least it was only one scene and the awesomeness of the rest of the film helped me to overcome it.

This particular film has a running joke early on involving the titular Nottie’s infected toe nail. I knew from the first time it was shown on screen that I was going to have a problem here. I could feel the bile rising in my throat and when the joke finally got to it’s conclusion, the toe nail flying off and getting stuck on someone’s lip, I had to pause the film and go stand by the toilet for a few moments, just in case. I didn’t throw up in the end but it’s still the furthest a film has ever pushed me towards it, so let’s just say I was in a pretty bad mood for the rest of it.

Ok, that’s that out of the way then. The rest of the film is pretty much the usual vapid, pointless gross out teen comedy with one exception. This usual, vapid, pointless gross out teen comedy stars Paris Hilton! And boy does she suck! I’ll give you a moment to insert your own Paris Hilton/Sex tape joke here. Ok, we done? Let’s move on. How does Paris Hilton keep getting work? Seriously?… Fine, insert your own Paris Hilton/Blowjob joke here. Let’s continue. Paris cannot act for shit. Every line she delivers is flat, with only the tiniest flicker of what might be emotion but probably isn’t. There’s also the problem that she’s playing a character who apparently cares about people who are less fortunate and less attractive than she is and I’m sorry but I just can’t but that for one second. And really? Is Paris Hilton that attractive? There’s something about the shape of her head which just seems odd to me. Also I’m a boob man and Paris is definitely lacking in that area.

Now to be fair, the rest of the cast were alright, nothing stellar but passable and there were a few moments when I couldn’t help chuckle a little, in particular when the main character comes to a costume party as Speed Racer complete with the Mach 5 around his waist. In general, however, this movie left me feeling kinda pissed off. After all, the main message seems to be “Hey, ugly girls, everything will be alright as long as you clean yourself up good, get your teeth fixed and get your mole removed. Then men will be able to look past your physical appearance and see the good person you really are underneath.” Still you can maybe give the movie a pass on this just because the Nottie is so ridiculously hideous and beleaguered with so many hideous physical problems that it becomes pretty goddamn ridiculous. You could maybe give it a pass but I choose not to. Fuck you movie. Fuck you. Damn, I wonder how many times I’ve used that phrase in these Razzie nomination reviews. Probably too many times. Still only two more of these Worst movie nominations and then we get to go back to the Oscar nominations. And really, how bad can The Happening and The Love Guru be?

So the rating. Well, it wasn’t as bad as Disaster Movie or Meet The Spartans but it was still pretty fucking awful. I guess I can give it one pint out of a possible five maybe just for the Speed Racer costume. Laterz.



Last Year In Film: In The Name Of The King: A Dungeon Siege Tale by Jamie

There are tales as old as time. Tales of bravery, of good versus evil, of kings and wizards. Then there are tales of people with plastic personalities, wearing plastic armour and fighting with plastic weapons against men in rubber suits who move as if there balls are always uncomfortably caught in their underwear. Uwe Boll’s In The Name Of The King: A Dungeon Siege Tale is the latter.

I suppose I should begin by saying I’ve never played Dungeon Siege so I have no idea how faithful this film is to the game so there’s that. What I can say, however, is that I have seen the Lord of the Rings trilogy and my guess is that Uwe Boll has certainly seen them as well. There are shots, costumes and even an actor directly lifted from the fantasy epic and as you watch it, there’s something you simply have to admit. Uwe has some massive balls. For it does indeed take massive balls to so relentlessly rip off a series of films that everyone has seen, received almost universal acclaim and then stand back and still consider yourself a director of any worth. Yet Uwe does and he’ll fight you if you say otherwise.

Anyway, the films about Farmer, a man so called because that’s what he is, who must rescue his wife and avenge his son after an attack on his village by the murderous Orc hordes… Sorry, I mean Krug hordes. The Krug army is controlled by evil wizard Ray Liotta who is playing Saruman wanna-be Gallian. He has a base in a volcano, like Mordor and beneath it is a big lava filled foundry, like Isengard. This is where Farmer and his companions, Norrick played by Ron Pearlman and Bastian played by someone else, must travel to if he ever hopes to see his wife again.

Meanwhile King Burt Reynolds decides to fight this new menace by sending out his armies and stuff. He’s betrayed by his nephew Duke Fallows, played by Matthew Lillard. Oh God, I’m getting bored just writing this synopsis. Anyway, Farmer finds out he is Burt Reynolds’ son and true heir to the throne of the Kingdom of Ehb or something. Then Fallow kills the King and the armies of man join up with the tarzan-esque Elves who go on to assault the land that would be Mordor. Farmer kills Ray Liotta and all is right with Middle-Earth… I mean Ehb. Oh, John Rhys-Davies plays Merick, the kings Magus. Yep, somehow he got roped into this shit. Maybe he just really like getting payed to LARP or something. Oh one more thing. There are ninjas in it too. Make of that what you will.

This film wouldn’t even be in the so bad it’s good if not for two people, Ron Perlman and Matthew Lillard. Ron Perlman always brings a smile to my face, no matter what piece of shit he’s in. Hell, he was the best thing about Alien Ressurection. As for Matthew Lillard, well, what can I say about Matthew Lillard. His over the top portrayal of Duke Fallow is so fantastically awful that you can’t help but enjoy it on some level, though I guarantee not the level intended. Everything he does is terrible. He minces through scene after scene overacting to a ridiculous degree, his accent not helping at all. In fact it’s the accent he puts on which reminded me of another performance that made another bad film so bad that it was good, the heroically stupid role of John Travolta in Battlefield Earth, my own personal yardstick by which all other terribly hilarious performances are measured.

Unfortunately, Lillard isn’t in the film nearly enough during it’s two hour running time to make this really worth watching but I will say this for Uwe Boll. Terrible as this film is, he did actually manage to make a film. It has a plot, actors and direction. All of them terribly, terribly poor but it’s still more than you can say for Meet The Spartans and Disaster Movie. Well done Uwe, you get a whole pint out of a possible five.



Last Year In Film: Milk by Jamie

As a straight, white male I don’t think I can claim that I have ever been oppressed. In fact in the entire history of my people you might have to go all the way back to the Roman invasion of Britain to even attempt to make a claim of oppression and a fairly flimsy claim it would be too. What hardships our people faced when the Romans brought us roads, sanitation and mosaics. To be fair though, they did call us wild savages and laughed when we painted our faces blue. That had to sting. Bastards.

So it’s with some trepidation that I come to Milk, the story of 70s gay rights activist and politician. It’s the same problem with films about black civil rights. I can empathise with the people in these films, be disgusted by the actions of the oppressors and I certainly believe that every one is entitled to the same rights as everyone else, regardless of race or sexual orientation but as a member of the group who’s never really had to deal with fighting for our rights, I find it kind of hard to relate to these films sometimes. Not the fault of the films of course, just a circumstance of birth.

With Milk it was even more challenging because, in general, the history of the gay civil rights movement isn’t as extensively covered as that of the black civil rights movement. I could probably name you quite an extensive list of films covering that topic but for films about the gay fight for equality, I could name two and they are both about the same person, this film and the documentary that preceded it, The Times of Harvey Milk, and I’ve only seen one of them.

Anyway, on with the film. It opens with archive footage showing the police raiding several gay bars during the 50s and 60s before going onto the story of Harvey Milk, a gay man living in New York during the early 70s on the day before his 40th birthday. A chance encounter with Scott (James Franco), a younger gay man, leads them both to move to San Francisco for a change of scene. It’s here that Harvey first develops an interest in politics and a hope for the improvement of the lives of gay people in America.

After several unsuccessful attempts to be elected to the position of city supervisor for his district, Harvey finally achieves his goal and becomes the first openly gay man elected to public office. It’s at this point that he meets Dan White (Josh Brolin) a man who he seems to get on fairly well with at first and the men come to an agreement to back each other during votes, in particular White asks Milk to support him on preventing a mental health institute from being built in his district. Harvey changes his mind after finding out more details about the proposition and White becomes determined to oppose him at every turn, leading to his own political downfall. Meanwhile Harvey goes on to greater and greater things, successfully leading the opposition to Prop 6 which would have banned gay people and those who support them from becoming teachers which further deepens Dan White’s feelings of failure. I won’t spoil the ending but if you know the true story at all, and chances are you probably do, then you know what’s coming anyway.

So what is there to say about this film? Well, the performances for one were all brilliant. From Sean Penn to Josh Brolin (who I think I’ve liked in everything I’ve seen him in since The Goonies) to every supporting character. Each actor brings something great to their role, no matter how small it is. The big question is, of course, should Sean Penn have won the Oscar for best actor? Well, I’m still not to sure about that. I’m kinda torn between him and Frank Langella as Nixon at the minute. Penn definitely deserved to be recognised for his portrayal of Harvey Milk but there’s just something that Langella brings to the former President that I feel would have been equally justified had he won the award.

Perhaps the most important thing about the film is the impact it had on me. Well, it certainly made me appreciate the struggle of the American gay community during those tumultuous times and provided me with enough history to help me understand just why the world is the way it is today and the part Harvey Milk played in that. And the ending is incredibly touching, particularly when mixed in with the archive footage. Which brings me to another good point. Throughout the film the action is interspersed with archive footage from the time and it’s far, far less jarring than the faux documentary interviews in Frost/Nixon. That being said I still think Frost/Nixon just beats Milk by a tiny margin as a slightly more enjoyable film. All in all, I certainly recommend Milk and I’ll give it four pints out of five.



Last Year In Film: Frost/Nixon by Jamie

I am an all round geek. A jack of all geek trades and a master of none and one of the facets that makes up that geek whole is political geekery. I first started to become interested in politics around the time that George W. Bush came to power as the president of the United States and so my interest has always been with American politics, which is far, far more interesting than our rather underwhelming British system, and in particular the dark, shadier side of the political scene.

It should be no surprise then that Richard M. Nixon is a particularly fascinating figure to me. His name has become synonymous with political corruption, scandal and abuse of power. There are many who blame him for thousands, even millions, losing faith in the democratic establishment and the political process. The Watergate scandal shook the American system to it’s very core and even today it’s ramifications are felt, so much so that the suffix -gate is attached to almost every political scandal.

Three years after Nixon resigned from the presidency, Nixon agreed to be interviewed by British talk show host David Frost, for the sum of $60,000 and 20% of the profit. The film Frost/Nixon, directed by Ron Howard and starring Frank Langella and Michael Sheen, tells the story of those interviews. Now, I’ll admit it doesn’t sound like the most exciting subject matter for a film but bear with me.

This film is fucking awesome. I cannot impress upon you just how good it is. I remember seeing the trailer at the cinema, possibly before Oliver Stone’s W and I was instantly interested but the trailer did give me the impression that it was heavily, heavily overly dramatised and I’ll admit that having seen the film it most certainly is but to be fair what do you want? It’s a movie, it has to have heightened drama.

The performances are incredible. Michael Sheen is perfect as portraying the young David Frost, a cocky playboy type filled with confidence who you should probably find annoying but he remains insanely likeable. Sheen also has Frost’s voice down perfectly and, if it weren’t for the fact that I’ve grown up knowing Frost as the older gentleman he is today, I’d probably forget I was watching someone else portray him.

Frank Langella delivers a powerhouse performance as Richard Nixon. Ugh, I feel disgusted with myself having read that sentence. Let me try again. Frank Langella fucking rules as Richard Nixon. There much better. He manages to convey a strange mixture of devious intelligence, ignorance and genuine sadness to create a Nixon who is so more compelling than the one-dimensional prick who people are generally thinking of when they talk about the former president.

Rounding out the cast are Matthew Macfadyen as Frost’s producer John Brit, Oliver Platt as journalist Bob Zelnick, Sam Rockwell as journalist James Reston Jr, Rebecca Hall as Frost’s love interest Caroline Cushing and Kevin Bacon as Nixon’s Chief of Staff Jack Brennan. The cast is all pretty good but Rockwell and Bacon really stand out. Rockwell plays Reston as a man who clearly feels as though Nixon has twisted the very concept of Democracy and must be made to confess and Bacon is great playing a man who’s dedicated to Nixon until the end and seems to genuinely believe that the former president is a great, great man that the American people never appreciated as he deserved.

The film runs to about two hours but it never loses it’s pace, even during some of the long pauses during the interviews themselves. In fact these pauses are integral to the interviews, particularly during the last one and manage to rack up the tension as if you were watching a kind of Mexican stand-off and in a way you are. Several times throughout the characters refer to the interviews as battles and that’s the way they seem especially, once more, that final interview about the Watergate scandal. The only difference is that instead of guns they are using words.

Now, if there’s one complaint I have about the film it’s the occasional intrusion of the main storyline by short little, pseudo-documentary interviews. It features the actors portraying the characters discussing the events that have just happened in the film and at times it can really take you out of the film. It’s certainly an interesting idea and at times, it can work by giving a sense of the story going on around the main storyline without intruding on it with unnecessary sub-plots but at times it can come off as superfluous and some of these scenes feel almost like they were just used as padding to build up the running time.

Ooh, now I think of it, there is one complaint I’ve heard and that’s the historical accuracy of the film, in particular the Watergate interview. I can’t really speak to that, I’m afraid as although I have the interviews on DVD I haven’t watched them in a good few months and I have the recall of a goldfish who has repressed most of it’s memories. Probably should have watched them again before I watched this. Nevermind. I’ll probably watch them again later and if it turns out that the Watergate interview is radically different from the way it’s portrayed in the film then those intrusive interviews will probably take me out of the film even more than they did before.

All that having been said though, I really do recommend this film particularly if you have even a passing interest in politics. It really does manage to give you a sense of how people felt about Nixon at the time and just why distrust towards the system, particularly in America, is so rampant today. I can’t wait for the sequel Frost/Skeletor in which Frank Langella reprises his role as the The Evil Lord Of Destruction and answers tough questions on whether or not he let down the people of Eternia during his ill-fated invasion of Castle Greyskull. Until then I give Frost/Nixon four and a half pints out of five.

Laterz.



Last Year In Film: The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button. by Jamie

Today sees the beginning of a new recurring segment on Cinepub, Last Year In Film. The concept is fairly simple, watching and reviewing all the Oscar and Razzie nominated films of 2008. And I do mean all of them. It’s going to be a massive undertaking and I hope that I can manage to pull it off before the end of the year. With that in mind let’s begin with the backwards-aging, Gumpesque saga known as The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button.

Directed by David Fincher and starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, Benjamin Button tells the strange tell of the titular character who is born with what appear to be the signs of old age. His father, horrified by the baby’s appearance and the fact that it caused him to lose his wife during childbirth, abandons the baby on the steps of a New Orleans old folks home.

It soon becomes clear that Benjamin isn’t just one of those children with that extreme aging illness. Rather it seems as though he is actually aging backwards. Throughout his backwards life he has encounters with many interesting character’s and experiences the odd important historical event. He also experiences loss from a slightly different perspective and seems to gain a unique outlook on death, told as he was how he would die when he was a very young child.

The first thing you notice about this film is just how much it’s like Forrest Gump because that’s pretty much what it is but instead of being a little slow, the protagonist ages backwards. The similarities are striking. There’s a love interest who’s a free spirit who just wants to enjoy youth and not be tied down by their stodgier male counterpart until the good times have to come to an end (In Jenny’s case a son and terminal illness, in Daisy’s a severe leg breakage that ends her dancing career.), There’s the kindly mother figure who will try and do anything for their son and there’s the gruff alcoholic who he goes to war with whilst also being a boat captain and who seems to truly treasure his friendship. Fuck, there’s even a scene where Benjamin declares how he managed to get paid doing something he’d gladly do for free.

Despite all that, however, I really, really enjoyed this film and I think most of it is down to Brad Pitt and the character of Benjamin himself. In Forrest Gump, the character seems to stay exactly the same, almost oblivious to the changing world around him. Benjamin, on the other hand, seems to change quite a bit over the course of the film and, probably due to his odd condition, seems to adapt better to the changing world around him than anyone else. As Benjamin gets younger, he retains the knowledge that he has accumulated over the years and so, when he finally ends up looking like he’s in his twenties, there’s a wisdom in him that his appearance belies. Just like Benjamin himself says when he replies to Daisy’s comment about how young he is: “Only on the outside,”

There is, however, one major problem with this film that I cannot let go of. If you knew a dude who aged backwards is that the kind of thing you’d keep to yourself until you were on your deathbed? Hell no! You’d tell everyone you goddamn knew or at least I would. It’s like surviving the Titanic and never telling anyone about it until some treasure hunters decided to look for some precious stone that nobody knew you owned. Seriously.

Anyway, the special effects are great, the story’s pretty good if somewhat recycled and the acting is pretty much awesome all round and you’ve always gotta love a film that lets you hear the Louisiana accent for prolonged periods of time. I had a little trouble following it at first, unaccustomed as my ears are to it and the fact that my laptop speakers are shit, over the course of the film I got to grips with it. So there you have it. I’m sure some people will find the film a bit slow, maybe even tedious but it kept me pretty much hooked all the way through and the ending where Benjamin is finally going through childhood is truly, truly bittersweet. I’ll give it four pints out of five.

Laterz.




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