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Review: The Host by Jamie

Spoilers Ahead! You have been warned.

Fresh from poisoning the minds of one generation of young girls and another generation of creepy older women, the deranged writings of Stephanie Meyer are brought once more to the silver screen in the form of ‘The Host’. This time Meyer takes on the world of parasitic aliens ala ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ and I know what you’re asking already: “Does she bring the same level of creepiness to these alien parasites that she brought to Vampires and werewolves what with the silently watching a girl sleep in her room and the falling in love with a baby after it’s been torn from it’s mother by it’s father’s vampiric fangs?” Don’t worry dear reader, all will be revealed.

The story itself concerns a future in which most of humanity has been invaded by a race of aliens who lodge themselves somewhere near a persons brain and take over their body. There are few non-infected humans left, scattered around into various resistance groups. One girl, Melanie, is trying to get to one of these resistance groups with her younger brother Jamie and her boyfriend Jared when she is captured and has an alien implanted inside her. This alien, calling itself Wanderer, is questioned about the memories stored inside Melanie’s mind in an effort to try and find the resistance’s location.

Not all is right with Wanderer however. It turns out that Melanie is special and has such a strong will that she can’t be entirely subsumed by Wanderer which causes conflict in the mind of the alien. This conflict is played out by Wanderer talking to herself whilst Melanie’s voice is dubbed over with some of the worst voice over acting I have ever heard in my life. It’s incredibly over the top and makes the whole concept of the movie seem even more ridiculous than it already is which, and I remind you that this is a movie based on a novel by Stephanie Meyer, is already pretty fucking ridiculous.

Wanderer/Melanie manage to escape from the other alien infected humans and find their way to the desert base of the resistance led by Melanie’s Uncle Jeb. She is instantly met with mistrust but eventually, as more and more come to realise that Melanie is still alive inside her and that she is different from the other aliens, Wanderer comes to be accepted by the group and her name gets shortened to Wanda. This, of course, leads us to the romance that Stephanie Meyer is so renowned for making awkward and weird. In the Twilight series we had the love triangle between Bella, Edward and Jacob and in The Host we have a four-way romance. What is that? A love square? A love quadrangle? Whatever. We have Jared who is in love with Melanie and eventually Wanda falls for another resistance member by the name of Ian. Of course, since Melanie and Wanda share a body the whole thing is very awkward and silly with Melanie occasionally taking control of her right hand to slap Ian when he’s kissing Wanda and the like. You know, the kind of thing you might see in a wacky body-sharing comedy like ‘The Thing With Two Heads’ or, you know, an adaptation of Stephanie Meyer’s adult romance novel ‘The Host’.

All the while Wanda is being sought by an alien called ‘Seeker’ because we might as well keep things simple for this movies intended audience which I assume is the severely brain damaged and those who like to keep fire as a pet. The other aliens tell Seeker that she should just give up, after all the resistance is small and will eventually die out by itself. It’s just not worth bothering with. It turns out however that Seeker is hunting Wanda because she too is having problems controlling her host and so she wants to find Wanda in order to… Well, I’m not sure actually. I’m sure there must have been some reason. Meanwhile Wanda finds out that the resistance are cutting the parasites out of the infected and killing them in order to try and make them human again. She is disturbed by this and instead shows how to do it in a way that leaves both host and parasite alive, an operation they eventually carry out on Seeker, sending the parasite back to the stars.

Anyway the whole love quadrangle is resolved when Wanda is removed from Melanie and placed in a braindead body, thereby bringing life to a body that had none. And so everything is wrapped up in a nice little package and the movie ends with more aliens and humans learning they can live together in harmony thereby giving hope to the future of our two species or some bullshit.

Jesus Fucking H. Testicle Blasting Christ this one was a struggle. As a film fan I’ve poked my fair share of fun at the Twilight series but, honestly, those things are fucking masterpieces compared to this piece of shit. I tried taking notes during it but they eventually just devolved into me writing THIS IS THE STUPIDEST FUCKING THING I’VE EVER SEEN over and over again. At least you can have fun taking the piss out of the Twilight films, I will give them that and Michael Sheen is awesome for the small amount of screen time he has but this… This isn’t even worth sitting through to try and make fun of it. There’s just nothing redeeming here. It’s a poorly acted, poorly written, though admittedly nicely shot, mess. Friends I have gazed into the mouth of madness and what I found waiting was The Host. Nothing really makes sense. The aliens claim that of all the bodies they’ve inhabited humans are among the trickiest because of their strong physical desires. I assume that they’re talking about our sex drive which, assuming that they’ve inhabited other species that reproduce sexually, should be a pretty common problem throughout the universe. Sex is what drives any species that reproduces that way, for fucks sake!

There are two problems which I consider to be insurmountable when it comes to this film. The first is that this is actually a fairly interesting concept. A human and an alien sharing a body and the complications they face could make for a really good film but here the story is so lacklustre and the whole thing is handled so poorly that it results in one of the worst science-fiction movies that I’ve ever seen. The second problem is that this film shares a title with an awesome 2006 South Korean film and now whenever I say “The Host is awesome!” I’m going to have to qualify that I’m talking about that film and not this pieces of shit.

Half a pint out of five because, again, it is shot quite nicely. Has Stephanie Meyer written anything else of consequence? Not really? Good. Hopefully that’s the end of that chapter. Laterz.

The Host

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Review – The Hunger Games (2012) by Jamie

Warning: Possible light spoilers ahead.

There is a reason that I’m only now getting around to reviewing this film. I, like so many others who had no familiarity with the books, heard about this film and immediately saw it as nothing more than a terrible rip-off of our precious Battle Royale. Yes, we all felt pretty high and mighty with our ability to reference one of the most well known Japanese films that didn’t have a giant radioactive lizard in it. Weren’t we clever?

Of course, the idea of people being forced to kill each other wasn’t even really original when Battle Royale came out. Hell, the Romans were doing it even before Jesus Harold Christ was getting up to all kinds of japery in the desert. Yes, the idea of kids having to do it was a bit original but , although not forced to do so, children have been killing each other on a deserted island since at least 1954 thanks to William Golding. The point I believe that I’m belabouring here is that nothing’s original. At this point in human history, it’s all just variations on a theme.

The other reason that it took me so long to finally get around to watching this was the running time. This film is two hours and twenty-two minutes long. That’s a good chunk of time for me to dedicate to a film that I only have a passing interest in. Still I recently watched all of the Best Picture Nominees and most of them were long and I was only really interested in three of them, hence why my reviews for them kind of dried up. Honestly, I haven’t watched a film just for the sake of watching a film in a long time. It’s either been watching for the Oscars or watching terrible films for various bad film podcasts. I needed to watch a film just for the sake of watching a film. I decided to finally visit the nation of Panem.

The most basic synopsis I can give is this: In the future, America has become the dystopian nation of Panem, a nation made up of a capitol inhabited by the wealthy class which is surrounded by twelve districts, each one filled with an underclass who perform the various tasks required to keep the country going such as farming, mining, fishing etc.

A long ago rebellion of these poor folks was quashed by the Capitol and led to the formation of the eponymous Hunger Games in which each district must provide one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in a televised death match of which there can be only one survivor. The tributes, as they are called, are chosen on a day called ‘The Reaping’.

During the Reaping for the 74th Annual Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) of District 12’s younger sister is chosen on her first time being eligible. Katniss decides that she can’t allow this and volunteers to go in her place. And so she and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) are chosen to represent District 12 in a fight to the death.

There, I think that’s a fairly nice description of things. Now, I suppose the thing that surprised me most about this film is how much, for the most part, I enjoyed it. It’s actually a fairly decent entry into the ‘people forced to kill other people for the entertainment of others’ genre.

What I enjoyed most about the film was the amount of world building that went into it. I love me some world building. It’s one of the reasons I love Star Wars. Lucas can’t write dialogue for shit but if there’s one thing that he can do well it’s create a universe that’s satisfyingly different from out own whilst still being familiar. That’s something that The Hunger Games does to great effect too. It’s possible to see that this world could have descended from our own and there are obvious parallels to our history. The inhabitants of the Capitol are a class of people who don’t have to work. They wear ridiculous, unpractical costumes and watch TV shows about children killing each other because, well, what else are they going to do? I got a real opulence before the fall of Rome vibe from the whole thing. Oh, and if it turns out that this film is right and the future we’re headed for is one were “Gay Parisian Disco Clown” becomes a fashionable style then I too will be volunteering to enter the Games.

Yes, the setup of the world is really, really excellent and had me hooked into the film’s premise quite early on. The two leads playing District 12’s tributes are both excellent, Jennifer Lawrence in particular has an undeniable likeability that seems to come through in everything I’ve ever seen her in. The tertiary characters in these early scenes are also great with Woody Harrelson as an alcoholic former Games winner, Elizabeth Banks as one of the aforementioned Gay Parisian Disco Clowns, Stanley Tucci perfectly portraying a schmoozy talk show host and even Lenny Kravitz surprisingly bringing a nice emotional centre to the whole affair.

Unfortunately not everything can be great and things kinda go down hill once the actual show itself starts. Everything in this section of the film seems a bit rushed and I can imagine it’s all expanded upon in a great deal more detail in the book. Katniss forms relationships in this section that, in the time frame they develop within, seem completely unrealistic. I’ll admit that I believe that one of these relationships is merely played up for the cameras as Katniss believes it will give her a better chance of survival and I hope that the sequels prove this theory to be true or I’ll be greatly disappointed.

There’s also some really dodgy shaky cam, particularly during some of the very early scenes that almost had me turning the film off before I’d even begun to watch it due to it making me feel a little queasy. Yes, I’ll accept some shaky cam during an intense action scene but when you’re literally just showing an old, bearded man eating then I don’t think it’s really required. On the subject of filming techniques, there are also several times during the film were Katniss is injured or stung by hallucinatory wasps and the filmmaker decides to warp or cut the audio completely and play about with the focus for entirely too long. Again, this is fine maybe once during a film but if you repeat this trick one too many times it starts becoming nauseating rather than disorientating.

There’s also the problem that the film is a 12A and you’d think that that’d be detrimental for a film where many of the characters are supposed to slaughter each other but honestly there was a lot more violence shown than I originally expected and though you don’t see that much, it kind of works to the films advantage as the brief flashes of a stabbing hand and a scream actually cause your mind to fill in the blanks which, as Jaws taught us, is always more terrifying.

Oh, I do have one last criticism. Ropey looking CGI dogs with man faces? Piss off. They probably have an explanation in the book but they certainly don’t in the film and so they just come off as the director realising he’s run out of time so he really needs to wrap things up quickly.Oh, and the uniform of the peacekeeprs looks very low-budget early 70s sci-fi. Not really the kind of thing you can get away with in a post Stormtroopers world.

So there you have it. It’s not a film without flaws but I was pretty entertained throughout. I feel a lot of this is down to Jennifer Lawrence and just some genuinely interesting world building. I might even give the books a read now since I’m sure they expand on that aspect to an even greater degree. So yeah, if you’ve got a free afternoon or evening you there are worst ways you could spend your time. Three and a half out of five. Laterz and may the odds be ever in your favour.

TheHungerGames



Holy Moly: Left Behind: The Movie by Jamie

It is my understanding that Kirk Cameron was once in an American TV show called ‘Growing Pains’ which, as far as I can tell, never played in the UK and for good reason. Just watching a video of the theme tune makes it seem as though it’d be a sickeningly sweet show were people have feelings and learns an important lesson. I could be wrong. It could all be about a serial killer who kills people by stretching them on a rack and his struggle to keep his family in the dark about his secret life. Still, that saccharine shit doesn’t really play over here in the UK. We prefer miserable or slightly dodgy characters in miserable or bizarre situations. Just look at some of our most popular sitcoms. Only Fools and Horses, One Foot In The Grave, Blackadder, Red Dwarf and Fawlty Towers. None of them have a sickeningly sweet character in them. The closest you’d really get is Del Boy from Only Fools and Horses but even he is pretty much a complete arsehole though his heart is often in kind of the right place.

Anyway, that got away from me a bit there. My point was I didn’t really become aware of Kirk Cameron until he started using TV and the internet to minister using his Way of the Master program or whatever the hell it is. I came to enjoy Kirk, not because he opened my heart to Jesus but because he was clearly a bit mental. Hell, he appeared in a number of my favourite YouTube videos such as ‘The Atheist’s Nightmare’.

Yes, it’s wonderful that God designed the banana so perfectly for human consumption. Except, of course, God didn’t make the banana that way. Man did through the same kind of guided evolution that we used to create domesticated animals and grains. Still good try. Also what if you don’t like bananas? What if you like pineapples? Does God hate you? Anyway, that’s all beside the point. My point is that I already had a pretty low opinion of Kirk Cameron (though his recent statement that jumping to the conclusion that all those birds falling out of the sky meant it was the end times was ridiculous raised it a little) before I decided to give this film a watch, but hey, I hadn’t seen him act so who knows? Maybe he’ll be good.

Well, he isn’t though I honestly couldn’t say if it’s because of the terrible script or just him. The movie is set at the beginning of Armageddon, the time that some Christians believe will signal the end of the world and the return of Jesus or something. It begins with all the believers being called up to heaven leaving their clothes behind and a bunch of confused people who have to clean up the mess caused by their sudden disappearance. Seriously, cars crash when their holy drivers are called away to paradise and all other manner of accidents occur. It’s a lot to clear away for us simple non-believers. Yeah, thanks for that God. Asshole.

Still, the film begins a little before that. We meet Buck (Kirk Cameron), the world’s most awesome reporter as he’s interviewing an Israeli scientist, Chaim Rosenzweig, about his miracle breakthrough in strains of wheat that will grow practically anywhere! Of course, two evil members of the evil UN want to get their hands on the wheat hoping it will lead to world peace and world unification and so it’s a bad thing in this particular film. The evil UN members basically bribe the scientist by promising that if he gives them the formula for the wheat, they’ll rebuild the Temple of Solomon in Israel, which they are apparently unaware is another sign of the end times. In doing this they’ll control the world’s food supply and therefore profit. Oh, evil UN members! Is there nothing you’ll do to unwittingly bring about the end of humanity?

Anyway during this interview a massive Arab air strike attacks Israel. Buck and Chaim escape to what seems to be an Israeli War Room which is out in this random patch of desert for some reason. Suddenly the jets start randomly exploding completely by themselves. Buck goes outside to report on these events and an old guy comes and babbles about something bibley.

There’s also this secondary plot about this pilot and his family. His wife’s a believer so she get’s raptured along with his son because children are all innocents in the eyes of God or something. So he’s left with his daughter who I think is a Christian’s idea of what a rock chick looks like. She has a nose piercing you see! Holy crap! I wouldn’t be surprised to find out she’d also done the pot! Anyway Buck meets the pilot on a plane whilst the rapture occurs and… Oh, Jesus fucking Christ. It’s so incredibly dull! Ugh, come on. Just push on.

So Buck goes and begins to uncover the truth behind the scriptures and the predictions of the bible whilst the pilot comes to terms with his wife and son’s disappearance, coming to terms with his own lost faith. Buck also finds out about the conspiracy regarding the special wheat and goes to the UN to try and save Chaim from making a terrible mistake. The new leader of the UN, Nicolae Carpathia, is outraged that the two evil UN members, who were apparently his mentors, where behind this evil scheme. He calls a meeting of the UN or something and Buck is brought in to watch because Carpathia wants him as his new media minister or something. Ugh… Not long now.

Anyway, Carpathia kills the shit out the two evil UN members in front of everyone else but then seems to erase everyone’s memory of it. Everyone apart from Buck’s because, you know, he’s awesome and that. Carpathia also announces that this will be the beginning of seven years of world peace which is the same amount of time that some Christians believe there’ll be troubles on Earth before Christ returns. Oh, and Carpathia is the Anti-Christ.

So there, you go. That’s Left Behind: The Movie. I haven’t read the book so I can’t compare it to that but I can say that it’s a pretty goddamn terrible film. It looks like it was made for television by someone who really, really fucking hates television. Like hated it so much that they wanted to punish it by making it appear on it’s screen. But no, apparently this thing was released in actual cinemas and watched by actual people. I mean… fuck.

There are a number of things I could say. I could go into how poorly written the thing is. Characters introduced without any earlier mention only to provide an ‘exciting’ thing to push the story forward. The terrible, terrible dialogue. For example, I’m fairly sure that if people suddenly disappeared, the people left behind wouldn’t watch their language quite as much as they do in this. For fuck’s sake people say heck instead of hell! Millions of people have just vanished and people are saying heck? It’s a world inhabited by Ned Fucking Flanders’! How the hell did anyone get Left Behind? Aside from that, the dialogue is just stilted and unnatural and often crammed uneasily with characters telling other characters that the bible is awesome or Buck is awesome.

I could mention the slightly smug attitude that characters have towards other nationalities or religions. It’s never expressly stated but you get the impression that everyone kinda looks down on the Jews or the Arabs in this film, happy in their security that, even though this is a work of fiction, they’re all good Christians who’re getting raptured right up to heaven when this shit goes down for real. I could go into the fact that the writer’s of this shit seem to have a bizarrely over-inflated notion of just how powerful the UN is. You honestly think they’re going to take over and create a one world government and end all war forever and ever? They couldn’t even stop the invasion of Iraq. The UN is a bunch of people sitting around and bickering with no real power to stop any major world power from doing what ever it wants. Seriously though, is a one world government such a terrible thing? Seemed to work out pretty well in Star Trek. Once we’d sorted out all the world’s problems and gotten together as brothers and sisters we could address the very pressing issue of finding hot alien women and fucking them. How is that not awesome?

I could even go into how terrible the acting was. Again, I’m not sure if it’s just because of the terrible script or the fact that these people have no acting chops. It was just awful. In fact, the only guy I really liked was the Anti-Christ. At least he looked like he was having some fun with his role. Everyone was just treating it so ridiculously seriously that it was laughable. As for the special effects, well, it was almost approaching “Birdemic” level during the initial air strike scene but this was made in 2000 or I assume a tiny budget so I have to cut it some slack. This movie was just painful to watch. Half a pint out of five for the Anti-Christ who, as I say, brought some entertainment to the whole horrible affair. Laterz.



Review: Kick Ass by Jamie

Every once in a while a film comes along that defines where we are as a shared culture in the Western world. ‘Kick Ass’ is not that film. ‘The Dark Knight’ possibly is. A grim, pessimistic comic book film about a terrorist loose in a major city and the heroes who seem almost powerless to stop him. Though ‘Kick Ass’ is not that film, it is still fucking awesome.

There, I’ve pretty much shot my load already and revealed exactly what I thought about this film. Go see it and thanks for stopping by… No, I suppose we should get further into it. Ok, so ‘Kick Ass’ is about a guy who thinks the same thing that I’m sure most superhero fans have thought throughout their lives, why is it that no one has decided to dress up and just be a superhero? Unfortunately the sad fact is that people have already decided to do that and I’ll let you judge just how ‘super’ they are from this news clip:

Despite that the premise is still solid. Dave Lipetsk (Aaron Johnson) is the character who has this thought and, one wetsuit purchase from eBay later, becomes the titular superhero Kick Ass. He doesn’t have any superpowers to speak of, just his disguise, a couple of clubs and an ambition to help those in need. Naturally things don’t go well and, on his first attempt at stopping crime, he is stabbed and hit by a car landing him with six weeks in hospital, metal reinforcements to his skeleton and damaged nerve endings which allow him to take beatings a little better. He also makes the medics who take him in to promise not to tell anyone about his costume leading to people believing he was found naked which then leads to a rumour being spread around his high school that he is gay. Sounds bad but it actually allows him to get closer to the girl he’s always had a crush on, Katie (Lyndsy Fonseca), who has always wanted a gay friend.

As the film goes on Kick Ass really becomes more of a secondary character and the plot focuses more on Damon Macready (Nicolas Cage) and his 11-year old daughter Mindy (Chloë Grace Moretz) who take on the personas of costumed vigilantes Big Daddy and Hit-Girl in order to take violent revenge on Mafia Boss Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong). And by violent revenge I do mean violent. Limbs fly, shotguns are fired directly into heads at point blank range and all manner of other marvellously over the top deaths are portrayed on screen. Make no mistake, Big Daddy and Hit-Girl make this fucking film.

I’m not gonna go much further into plot for fear of spoiling the film for those who haven’t seen it. So let’s just focus on a few of the details, performances and even the controversies surrounding this film. Let’s begin with that man I’ve certainly had my fair share of problems with in the past, Nicolas Cage. Nicolas Cage is really doing annoyingly well these days and fair play to him. It’s annoying because it makes continuing on with my video series ‘Cage Rage’ talking about how terrible Cage is really difficult. That’s two films now that Cage has been awesome in lately, this and Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. Seriously Nic, what the fuck? You’re the only actor I know who does better films when he’s desperate for money.

So what of his actual performance, I hear you ask. Well, let’s just say that he manages to make you believe that he is a character who is clearly abusing his child through the way he is bringing her up in order to be a lethal, tiny assassin and yet he really, truly loves her. It’s just that his world view has been so warped by the events that have occurred that the only way he really knows how to express his love is by raising his daughter in this fashion. Also when in costume he does a brilliant Adam West-esque voice that is a joy to sit back and watch. Also I can see myself quoting the line ‘Oh Child, you always knock me for a loop!’ for some time.

Now to the most controversial character in the film, Hit-Girl as played by Chloë Grace Moretz. Yes she’s an eleven year old, yes she slices and dices villains with incredible ease and yes she utters the word ‘Cunt.’ Now a certain film reviewer in a certain British newspaper (Christopher Tookey of The Daily Mail) has also made certain claims that the film sexualises this 11 year old. Frankly I can help but be somewhat concerned about Mr Tookey if he was in anyway sexually aroused by this little girl in the least sexual superhero costume I’ve ever seen on a female character from comics. He also mentions that the girl also appears dressed in a school girl outfit with pig-tails. Dear God! Someone of a school going age wearing a school girl outfit! Someone alert the people who deal with this sort of thing!

He also mentions the mental abuse that Hit Girl goes through at the hands of her father. Well, Mr. Tookey, might I point out some examples of Superhero’s doing this sort of thing to younger sidekicks throughout the entire history of comics. Green Arrow and Speedy, Captain America and Bucky and perhaps the most popular superhero duo who have been gracing the comics since 1940, Batman and Robin. You’re really going to tell me that Bruce Wayne taking the freshly traumatised Dick Grayson under his leather wing and putting him in harms way on a regular basis isn’t tantamount to some kind of child abuse. Kick Ass is just as much a commentary on that stalwart of the genre as it is an entertaining action flick.

It manages to pastiche and reference the world of comics throughout it’s running time which makes sense given the nature of the film. When Kick Ass first begins training for his new role as a crime fighter there are several direct references to the first ‘Spider-man’ film where Peter Parker is first experimenting with his powers. One scene in particular stands out. Remember that scene where Tobey Maguire becomes a weird computer game character and begins leaping from roof-top from roof-top? Well, Kick Ass is about to do the same thing, running right up to the edge of the roof before stopping and deciding not to go through with it. There’s even references to ‘Scarface’ and the original Tim Burton ‘Batman’ film. It’s a geeks dream.

It is most important to remember though that the characters in ‘Kick Ass’ aren’t just carbon copies of characters we’ve seen in other comic book films. This isn’t ‘Superhero Movie 2’. The characters are actually well-rounded, well written and each have genuinely engaging and believable motivations for the actions they take. It’s kind of a spoof of the comic book genre in the same way that ‘Shaun Of The Dead’ was a spoof of the zombie genre. Yes it’s taking a few pot-shots at the genre but it’s lovingly done and with an actual story and actual characters. And that’s why you should go an see it. Four and A Half Pints out of Five. Laterz.



Last Year In Film: The Reader by Jamie

A quick warning, spoilers ahead.

The Reader is the charming tale of Hanna Schmitz, who meets a fifteen year old boy, Michael Berg, fucks him over the duration of a summer and getting him to read to her before leaving him. Years later he becomes a law student and, whilst sitting in on a trial, learns that his former lover is a Nazi war criminal who is sentenced to life in prison for not letting three hundred Jews out of a burning church. Michael grows up to become a lawyer and Ralph Fiennes who is conflicted due to his love for a Nazi war criminal and a decision he made during the trial which potentially caused her to have a harsher sentence. In his guilt he records tapes of the books he used to read to her when he was fifteen. Using these tapes Hanna learns to read and write and begins to send Michael letters which he refuses to reply to. After twenty years Hanna is about to be released from prison and Michael is contacted and informed that he is the only person Hanna has been in contact with and that he has to take care of her. So he goes to see Hanna and is very cold with her. Hanna seems to take umbrage with this and kills herself. So there you go a basic quick summary and what a cheery summary it was too.

So, The Reader then. It’s the one film out the best picture nominations that I was probably the most dubious about. From what I’d heard the story sounded as though it could be a little slow and really not up my alley. In fact, I went into this film expecting to hate it. Well, I’m ready to admit right now that I was wrong. The Reader was a truly fucking fantastic film. The story was well paced and always managed to keep my interest. The acting was amazing and I was quite pleased to see that they didn’t go overboard with the German accents though this did seem to occasionally result in the accents slipping slightly, especially in particularly emotional scenes. Perhaps the biggest surprise for me was the appearance of my favourite Swiss actor Bruno Ganz as Professor Rohl, Michael’s law professor at Heidelberg University. If you don’t know who Bruno Ganz is then I suggest you stop reading this review, go and watch The Downfall in which Ganz plays Hitler during the final days of Nazi Germany and then come back.

The film’s fairly unique in that it’s the only film about the Holocaust that I can think of that deals with the horrific events without ever being set at any time during World War II itself. This provides a unique opportunity in that it really deals with German guilt after the fact and the feeling of the first generation born after the atrocities and the massive burden that they have inherited as a nation from their parents. This is particularly poignant from Michael’s point of view as he is so disgusted by the acts that Hanna has committed that he cannot bring himself to present evidence that may make her sentence more lenient, a decision that will leave him conflicted for the remainder of his life.

Perhaps the strangest part of this film is that Hanna seems to be far more ashamed of her illiteracy than the crimes she committed during her time as an SS officer. In fact she only ever hints that she feels even the slightest bit of remorse for her role in the Holocaust, leaving the viewer completely unsure of whether she’s remorseful or not. This makes her a character that it’s very hard to feel sympathy for and, perhaps to some degree, that’s the point. Maybe you’re not supposed to feel sorry for her. After all she was complicit in one of the most horrific events in recent history. On the other hand, you’ve also known her as a person for the first part of the film, before you find out about her past, and as such you’ve seen that she’s capable of love, kindness and understanding and you also know that there is no way she could have possibly written the report which leads to her harsher sentence. It pretty much leaves you as conflicted as Michael is himself.

So I guess all that’s left to say is was Kate Winslet deserving of her Best Actress award at the Oscars for this role? Well, I can’t really say yet as I haven’t seen the performances of the rest of those nominated yet, so it’ll have to wait until I’ve watched all of those but I will say that she is excellent in this film and it’s surely mostly down to her performance that you feel anything for what should be an unsympathetic character at all. It’s also worth mentioning the episode of Extras that Kate Winslet was in where she mentions that if you really want an Oscar than doing a Holocaust movie makes it pretty much guaranteed. Interesting stuff.

Anyway that’s about it. Over all I give The Reader four pints out of five.

Laterz.




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