Cinepub


Review: To The Wonder by Jamie

In January 2012, Terrence Malick’s ‘Tree of Life’ was nominated for a Best Picture award. In my effort to see all of the nominees that year, I watched it. Needless to say I had some issues with it and by issues I mean it was one of the most tortuous viewing experiences I have ever put myself and, unluckily for them, the people who were with me through. I hated all two hours and twenty minutes of it and my very soul screamed for the sweet release that death would bring. And now it’s time for round two. Yes, new for the mind of Terrence Malick, it’s ‘To The Wonder’ a film that even star Ben Affleck says “makes Tree of Life look like Transformers.” I’ve really been putting this one off. I’m even writing this introductory paragraph before watching the film, something I don’t normally do. Fuck. Here we go.

Right. I’m back and through the magic of the internet, what seems like mere seconds for you felt like a lifetime for me. So, is To The Wonder a slow, ponderous, pretentious piece of visual poetry filled with people standing silently and barely coherent whispering? Is the Pope the head of an organisation that routinely tries to cover up child abuse? But you know what? I liked it. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not going to become a regular watch and it really took a while for me to get into it but something just clicked. There are messages here about love, hate, faith and God, many of which I disagree with but I weirdly, I still can’t hate this film.

When I say it took me a while to get into it, I mean it really took a while. For the first hour, I must admit I was considering turning it off but there was something every now and then that kept me watching. After that hour I became invested and weirdest of all? I fucking loved the last half hour.

If I could guess the reason, it’s the story. Whilst, for me, Tree of Life was a random blur of metaphysics, flash backs and flash forwards, To The Wonder had a coherent linear story which, whilst still being very much in the mold of Malick, I was deeply invested in by the end. The story revolves around a pair of lovers, Neil (Ben Affleck) and Marina (Olga Kurylenko), and just what the nature of their love and their relationship is as they go through happy times and not so happy times, fall apart and come together. There’s a subplot that runs concurrent with this involving Father Quintana (Javier Bardem), who is sometimes Marina’s council in the tougher times, and his own strained relationship with Jesus Christ and the people who look to him for guidance.

Now, I obviously can’t recommend this film for everyone but having said that I wouldn’t have recommended it to myself before watching it. There’s still a lot to dislike here for me and, again, it took me a long time to get into but once I got there, I was hooked. The fact that Malick’s films are beautiful doesn’t really need to be said but I’m glad I could enjoy this one’s story as well. Does this film make Tree of Life look like Transformers? Well, maybe since Tree of Life and Transformers share about the same coherency when it comes to plot but in terms of pretentiousness. No, the film that’s about the trials and tribulations that accompany love is not more pretentious than the film that reduces the birth of the universe and the evolution of life on Earth to precursor to a 1950s family drama and ends with Sean Penn entering pseudo-event or something.

Perhaps strangest of all is that this is the film that even Malick fans seem to have taken a disliking to. So yeah, I’m that guy. I’m the guy that hated Tree of Life and enjoyed To The Wonder. I dunno what to say.

Honestly, I’m still coming to grips with liking this film and trying to describe why I did beyond the story is proving difficult. Perhaps like the mysteries of love and such, it shall always be mysterious. Mystery. So, um, yeah. Give it a try, maybe. You might be glad you did? Three and a half pints out of five. Laterz.

To The Wonder



2012 Best Picture Round Up: Argo (Repost) by Jamie

It’s Oscar time again and the nominees have been announced so it’s time to review the ones I’m able to. Luckily, I already had one in the bag from last year. So here it is again, my review of Argo. Enjoy.

I’ve really been getting in to films based on historical events lately. I’ve watched a ton of them in the past couple of months alone including Ben Affleck’s “Gone Baby Gone”‘ which I enjoyed immensely. So I was pretty excited about the release of Affleck’s new film, “Argo”. Hell, throw in the fact that this also happens to be an historical event that has something to do with the film industry as well and it almost seems as though this damn film was made specifically to tickle my balls. Yes, it had everything that I could have asked for. So did I love it unapologetically like the movie/history geek that I am? Let’s find out.

The movie takes place during the Iran hostage crisis that stretched from late 1979 to early 1981 and deals with one specific event in particular, the so-called Canadian Caper because apparently missions where people risk their lives must have adorable nicknames. On the 4th of November, Iranian students took control of American embassy and took the staff hostage in order to protest the Americans given shelter to the former Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi ad have him returned to Iran to stand trial for crimes committed during his rule. Six hostages managed to escape and took shelter at the Canadian embassy and a plan was drawn up by the CIA and the Canadian government to try and get them safely out of the country. Tony Méndez, a disguise an exfiltration expert, came up with a plot to extract them. He employed the aid of John Chamber, a Hollywood make-up artist, to create a fake film production office. The cover story was that the six trapped in Iran were actually Canadians working on a film and they were in the country scouting for locations for a Star Wars-esque Sci-fi fantasy film, Argo.

And that’s about all I’m going to describer of the movie plot/actual events because to say much more would give away the plot. So, back to the original question: Did I love this film? Well, I cewrtainly enjoyed it but I did find it to be a bit slow going at points, particularly the moments where the trapped Americans are literally waiting around trying to get rescued. I suppose that this reflects the monotony of actually being trapped in a building for days on end and so in that regard I suppose it’s quite effective. Overall, however, this film was fucking awesome. Every time Ben Affleck directs something I’m always surprised by just how good he is. The pacing during some of the more intense sequences is impeccable. I was quite literally on the edge of my seat during some moments, so tense were some of the events that were playing out on screen.

There’s also a nice counterbalance to that intensity with quite a nice deal of humour provided by John Goodman as John Chambers and Alan Arkin as producer Lester Siegel. Not only are they great comic relief during some of the earlier scenes where they are trying to drum up publicity for a film that they know will be never filmed but that same humour actually comes to just rack things up later during one of the most tense scenes during the entire film.

If I have any complaint it’s that one I made earlier about some of the scenes just slowing things down a bit too much but really that’s a minor issue and about the only one I can really think of. I suppose it could be argued that the portrayal of Iranians is a bit one note, though I feel it delves deep enough into the politics behind their outrage that, whilst not outright justifying their actions, it certainly helps to explain them. So with all said and done, I’ll give Argo four and a half pints out of five. Now Argo fuck yourself and see it. Laterz.



Review: Argo by Jamie

I’ve really been getting in to films based on historical events lately. I’ve watched a ton of them in the past couple of months alone including Ben Affleck’s “Gone Baby Gone”‘ which I enjoyed immensely. So I was pretty excited about the release of Affleck’s new film, “Argo”. Hell, throw in the fact that this also happens to be an historical event that has something to do with the film industry as well and it almost seems as though this damn film was made specifically to tickle my balls. Yes, it had everything that I could have asked for. So did I love it unapologetically like the movie/history geek that I am? Let’s find out.

The movie takes place during the Iran hostage crisis that stretched from late 1979 to early 1981 and deals with one specific event in particular, the so-called Canadian Caper because apparently missions where people risk their lives must have adorable nicknames. On the 4th of November, Iranian students took control of American embassy and took the staff hostage in order to protest the Americans given shelter to the former Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi ad have him returned to Iran to stand trial for crimes committed during his rule. Six hostages managed to escape and took shelter at the Canadian embassy and a plan was drawn up by the CIA and the Canadian government to try and get them safely out of the country. Tony Méndez, a disguise an exfiltration expert, came up with a plot to extract them. He employed the aid of John Chamber, a Hollywood make-up artist, to create a fake film production office. The cover story was that the six trapped in Iran were actually Canadians working on a film and they were in the country scouting for locations for a Star Wars-esque Sci-fi fantasy film, Argo.

And that’s about all I’m going to describer of the movie plot/actual events because to say much more would give away the plot. So, back to the original question: Did I love this film? Well, I cewrtainly enjoyed it but I did find it to be a bit slow going at points, particularly the moments where the trapped Americans are literally waiting around trying to get rescued. I suppose that this reflects the monotony of actually being trapped in a building for days on end and so in that regard I suppose it’s quite effective. Overall, however, this film was fucking awesome. Every time Ben Affleck directs something I’m always surprised by just how good he is. The pacing during some of the more intense sequences is impeccable. I was quite literally on the edge of my seat during some moments, so tense were some of the events that were playing out on screen.

There’s also a nice counterbalance to that intensity with quite a nice deal of humour provided by John Goodman as John Chambers and Alan Arkin as producer Lester Siegel. Not only are they great comic relief during some of the earlier scenes where they are trying to drum up publicity for a film that they know will be never filmed but that same humour actually comes to just rack things up later during one of the most tense scenes during the entire film.

If I have any complaint it’s that one I made earlier about some of the scenes just slowing things down a bit too much but really that’s a minor issue and about the only one I can really think of. I suppose it could be argued that the portrayal of Iranians is a bit one note, though I feel it delves deep enough into the politics behind their outrage that, whilst not outright justifying their actions, it certainly helps to explain them. So with all said and done, I’ll give Argo four and a half pints out of five. Now Argo fuck yourself and see it. Laterz.




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