Cinepub


Review: The Fighter by Jamie

Boxing is a sport I’ve never been that interested in. After watching this film, I think I understand why. If boxing was shown on TV in the same way it’s shown in films with great close-ups and dramatic camera angles, I would watch it every time it was on. Sadly it’s generally just watching two people punching each other. So I guess what I’m saying is I don’t really like boxing but I really enjoy films about it.

So, The Fighter is based on the true story of Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg), his half-brother Dicky Ecklund (Christian Bale) and the various other people in their life. Dicky was known as ‘The Pride of Lowell’ (Lowell, Massachusetts, the town where they both live) after he fought Sugar Ray Leonard. He’s currently having a documentary about him being made by HBO which he hopes will enable him to make a comeback. Micky on the other hand has been that successful in the boxing world. He’s managed by his mother Alice (Mellissa Leo) and trained by Dicky a combination that probably hampers his chances more than helping them.

You see, having tasted success and not really doing much with it, Dicky has slipped into using crack, something which his mother seems to ignore, at least at first, because it’s clear that Dicky is her favourite son. Because of his addiction, Dicky is regularly late for training sessions with his brother leaving him at a bit of a disadvantage when it comes to fighting. Also his family don’t seem to know exactly what is best for Micky’s career, convincing him to fight an opponent who is heavier and taller when his scheduled opponent drops out due to illness. Micky loses badly which prompts him to give up on boxing altogether so he can focus on real life and a relationship with Charlene Flemming (Amy Adams).

Alice arranges another fight for Micky but he brings up an offer he’s received to be paid to be trained in Vegas. Dicky, desperate to keep his brother nearby so he can continue working with him, offers to raise the money and pay Micky instead. He goes about this in a… let’s say technically very illegal manner which leads to a brilliant chase scene where he’s pursued by the cops. Micky get’s involved when he sees his brother being brutalized by the police and the two brothers are arrested though not before a policeman breaks Micky’s hand with a truncheon. Micky is freed and Dicky is sent to jail.

That’s about where I reckon I’ll leave the synopsis since it’s pretty much where the trailer gets up to and going any further is going into spoiler territory.

So what can I say about ‘The Fighter’? Well, it’s a pretty amazing film to be honest. Yes, it’s Oscar season so you’re probably gonna see a few of these reviews around here at the moment (Although the only other one I’ve really seen is True Grit so maybe just one more). The performances are amazing and much has already been said about Christian Bale. Yes, he is brilliant in this and deserves the nominations he’s gotten but I’m quite surprised that Mark Wahlberg’s performance seems to have been overlooked somewhat in all the things I’ve read about it.

It’s Wahlberg and the relationships he has with the other characters throughout the film that provide the real depth to the film… Hmmm, that’s not fair. Bale is indeed a massive part of it, especially his addiction to crack. I suppose a better thing to say is that this is both actors doing what they do best. Wahlberg is very good at being understated and it can be hard to see how good of a job he’s doing compared to the much more frantic and bombastic character that Bale is playing.

Adams and Leo are also great, particularly when they are on screen together (along with the seemingly thousands of sisters that Dicky and Micky have). The tension between them is so thick you could cut it with some kind of cutting device. They both feel as if they know what’s best for Micky and they genuinely seem to hate each other because those ideas are in such conflict.

The plot of the film is actually pretty much secondary to the development of the characters which, to be honest, is probably a good thing. The story is interesting and all that but it plays out quite predictably. Of course, it is based on a true story so I suppose that was the way it had to play out but without the great depth giving to the characters this would have honestly been a rather standard sports film that probably wouldn’t be getting as much attention as it is.

Right, that’ll do. Man, I hate reviewing films I liked because I have to reign myself in from giving too much away and then I feel as though the reviews are short and lacklustre. Ah well, never mind. Four pints out of five. Laterz.



Review: Black Swan by Jamie

There are some things in here which might, possibly be considered spoilers. Hard to tell with a movie like this.

Ballet. It’s a thing that people apparently watch and enjoy. I don’t really understand why. Seems to me that if you don’t know the story of the show you’re going to see then you’re watching a bunch of people dancing and prancing about on a stage. In essence you need to have the show spoiled in order to understand the show. Maybe that works for some people but as a movie fan it doesn’t really make much sense to me.

Still, I’m not gonna say ballet is the worst thing mankind has ever done. That is mime. Seriously, fuck mimes. No, I can see the artistry in it and understand the hard work that people put in in order to become really good at it. I’m sure the same could be said for mimes but I mean it, fuck mimes. I’m assuming that’s why people go to the ballet, to see the craft performed well by people who have worked hard to achieve that level of skill. Maybe the story doesn’t matter at all. Again, these are just my musings on why people watch it. I could be totally wrong and the story could be very important. In fact, it probably is. Hmmm, I just seem to be babbling.

So anyway, ‘Black Swan’, the latest film from Darren Aronofsky, features ballet fairly heavily. It’s the story of a young ballet dancer with an over-bearing mother, a demanding teacher and a talented understudy. Yeah, I know, it doesn’t sound that great but wait because there’s more. You see this girl, Nina (Natalie Portman), has a problem in that she’s incredibly reserved and always striving for perfection. She wants the lead in the ballet company’s latest production of ‘Swan Lake’ and whilst her reserved nature is perfect for the role of the White Swan she also needs to perform the role of the Black Swan which calls for a far more loose and sensual performance which the director, Thomas (Vincent Cassel), doesn’t feel she can pull off. Far more convincing for the role is Lily (Mila Kunis) who is exactly the kind of free spirit that Nina isn’t.

Still Nina gets the part even though she doesn’t seem to make much progress in becoming more wild and carefree. That is until Lily shows up at her door and takes her out for a night of wild abandon, much to the chagrin of Nina’s mother Erica (Barbara Hershey). They drink, they screw around, they take drugs, they apparently go back to Nina’s for a bit of girl on girl action… Yes, there’s a scene where Mila Kunis goes down on Natalie Portman. Five pints out of five. Laterz.

Ok, fine. There’s more to the story than that. Basically throughout the entire film there’s an undercurrent of a growing madness within Nina’s mind. It appears as though she’s had mental issues in the past, apparently a self-abuser in the form of scratching herself deeply on her back. This behaviour seems to manifest itself again and with it a new kind of paranoia. Is it the stress of the role playing out in her mind? Is it the dark side of her personality finally trying to break free of years of repression, finding a crack to escape through due to her trying to access it in order to successfully perform the part of the black swan? Whatever it is, the madness begins to show itself by her beginning to believe that she is physically transforming into a black swan, beginning with a rash near her scratch marks that resembles the skin of a bird, eventually growing to a point where she feels as though she’s growing feathers or her legs have bent backwards like those of a swan.

Obviously the film builds up to a massive ending that I won’t spoil here because you should probably go and see this film. I’ll say it’s a very, very good film, hell probably even a great film but it is not a perfect film. Yes, the performances are brilliant although there were times where Natalie Portman’s character was so pathetic that I found her to be a touch annoying and stretching the limits of believability. Still, the dancing is impressive as much as I, a man who knows practically nothing about ballet, can judge such a thing. It’s clear that both Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis spent a long fucking time preparing for this role.

The camera work is also incredibly impressive and features a number of techniques that you’ll probably recognise if you saw ‘The Wrestler’ and it’s clear to see that Darren Aronofsky considered making this a companion piece for that film. There are shots that follow the character from behind and there are shots that manage to focus on the character rather than the choreographed performance that they are giving (dancing in Black Swan and wrestling in ‘The Wrestler’. Yes, wrestling is largely choreographed) which gives you a sense of what the character is feeling whilst they do their thing.

And like I said as damn fucking good as the film is, it’s not perfect. There are times when it seems a bit slow, particularly to start of with, though it’s never so bad that you lose interest in what’s going on. There are also times where it pushes the boundaries of weird and yet at the same time doesn’t seem to go far enough. That may seem like a particularly odd sentence but it’s something I can’t really explain unless you’ve seen the movie. There’s also the ending which, without being spoilery, I’ll just say that I wish certain events had played out a little differently.

Finally my biggest issue with this film is a rather personal one so I’ll understand if you don’t agree with me. I have a terrible aversion to anything bad happening to finger or toe nails and fuck if there aren’t like a thousand separate occasions when horrible shit happens to nails in this movie. Ok, I may be over exaggerating that a little bit but still, there are times when I just couldn’t look at the screen. Again, I know it’s entirely my problem but I’m just saying, if you don’t like bad shit happening to nails then there are gonna be a number of times when you look away during this movie, wincing in pain and trying not to throw up.

Despite this, it is a really, really amazing film. I’m not suddenly gonna develop a deep interest in ballet or anything but I did look up black swans on Wikipedia for a bit. And seriously, if you’re a dude don’t let the fact that there’s a lot of ballet in this film. Things get seriously fucked up including a really fucking horrific scene involving Winona Ryder in a hospital. And don’t forget, Mila Kunis goes down on Natalie Portman. Still, I don’t think it’s as good as The Wrestler and I think a lot of that has to do with the main characters. Mickey Rourke’s character in that film is a genuinely likeable character who’s going through a hard time whilst Natalie Portman’s character in this is sometimes just so pathetic that I found it hard to sympathise with her. Overall four pints out of five. Laterz.



In The Not Too Distant Future: RoboCop 3 by Jamie

RoboCop 1 Review is here, RoboCop 2 review is here

Ok, so here’s the review of the third film in the series, the one which I said would be up the day after the review of the second film. I don’t know why but for some reason when ever I say something will be up the next day, they rarely ever are. I should probably just saying that they will be. Seems to be more likely that I’ll keep to my schedule if I don’t plan on having one. Anyway, let’s begin.

So, RoboCop 3 was made in 1993 and was directed by Fred Dekker. Now the first thing you’ll notice if you take a look at the UK DVD box set is that, whilst the first two films are rated 18, this film is a 15. Gone are the scenes of extreme violence that had been kind of a hallmark of the first RoboCop films. You won’t see anyone’s hand explode or any surgeons removing the brain, eyes and spinal chord of someone like we’d seen previously.

Also gone is Peter Weller, the role of RoboCop this time being played by Robert John Burke. It’s really disappointing. Burke doesn’t have the mechanical movements anywhere near as well as Weller, he doesn’t pull off the character as well, though there’s less for RoboCop to really do, and his mouth is blatantly different. That’s not really something that can be helped I suppose. Speaking of people’s mouths when they’re wearing masks, doesn’t Christian Bale have a weird little puckered mouth that the Batman mask just accentuates? Maybe it’s just me.

It does have to be said though that without the RoboCop helmet, Murphy does still look quite a lot like Peter Weller. I don’t know if Burke actually resembles Weller that much in real life or if it’s prosthetics of some kinds since they obviously made moulds of Weller’s heads for the earlier films. I guess I’ll never know since there is neither a making of or a commentary included on the DVD and I really don’t care enough to search around the internet trying to find out.

So let’s get down to the plot then. What is RoboCop 3 about? Well, this time OCP, with it’s brand new CEO played by Rip Torn, is trying once more to build Delta City where Old Detroit still stands. This time they are being aided by a Japanese company named the Kanemitsu Corporation who have bought a controlling stake in OCP, so I guess they’re not so much being helped as they are being bought out and continuing with the old companies plan. Or something. I don’t understand business.

In order to carry out this plan OCP has created a new armed force in the guise of the Urban Rehabilitators who are headed by the very English Paul McDaggett (John Castle) who it will turn out is the pieces main villain. That’s right America! Never forget who your first enemies were! And one day, when the time is right, our tiny island nation with will claim back what is rightfully ours! Ahem. Sorry about that. Seem to have gone quite mad for a second there. Where was I?

Oh yes, so the Urban Rehabilitators, or Rehabs for short, are going in to Old Detroit and forcibly removing people from their homes. A few homeowners don’t take too kindly to this and decide to form some kind of Rebel Alliance. They go underground stockpiling weapons and the like and are accompanied by one of the most annoying movie character archetypes of all time, the genius kid who’s unfeasibly good at using computers. God I hate those characters. The character of Lex and her l33t hacking skillz are one of the few things that annoyed me about Jurassic Park. So if it annoys me in a good movie, then you know that in a film that I’m not particularly fond of, it’s really gonna piss me off. And it does. Immensely.

Anyway, whilst RoboCop is trying to defence some of these people from Rehab agents, his long-time partner Lewis is killed by Dagget. This leads to RoboCop joining the resistance along with his ladt scientist friend who maintain him, herself having grown disillusioned with the terrible things OCP are doing. In the end the resistance is also joined by the Detroit Police Department and a war occurs between the resistance and the Rehabs. RoboCop gains the power of flight, Dagget is killed and the day is saved.

The main problem with this film is that it feels like a pale imitation of the rest of the series. Once more the interludes from the news team are back but now they don’t seem anywhere near as effective as they once were. I’m also tempted to say that if there had never been RoboCop 1 and 2 then this would be a mildly entertaining, mindless sci-fi action film but those films do exist making this just a piss poor entry into the series. One and a half pints out of five.

So that’s it for a look at the RoboCop films of yesteryear. So how good are they at representing the futuristic world we now find ourselves in? Well, let’s take a look at the robots/cyborgs first. The series features cyborgs in the forms of RoboCop and RoboCain. Both were amalgamations of mechanical and organic parts. Now, we’re not exactly at the level where we can recreate these kinds of cyborgs but we’re certainly progressing. There are digital eyes, robotic arms which wire into the nervous system and, slightly more worrying given the ways in which the company tried to control their cyborgs in the series, an entire array of remote controlled animals.

As for robots, well, robots have certainly come along way since their ancestors crawled out of the primordial ooze in the forms of devices such as washing machines and vacuum cleaners. There are bands made up of robots, BIGDOG, the frankly disturbing looking robotic beast of burden and once more, an entire array of robotic animals. There are even robots you can have sex with. Warning, the following video is probably not suitable for minors or people who are disturbed by people talking about the wonders of having sex with something that looks like an ugly plastic corpse:

All I know is that I’m not putting my cock anywhere near something that is described as having motors, servos and something called an accelarometer. So yeah, we’re clearly not at ED-209 level of robotics either although ED-209 did shoot the shit out of people so maybe that’s a good thing.

Still, as I said in the first RoboCop review, we’re not really sure exactly when these films are supposed to take place. I supposed that they were probably set somewhere between 2000 and 2050 simply because of the things that have changed and the things that haven’t, so there’s still 40 years worth of scientific discovery and development to go and, honestly, at the rate with which discoveries in these fields are occurring, I wouldn’t be surprised if maybe we had caught up with the technology of RoboCop within that time period and that would be cool.

So I suppose I can’t really finish this without talking about the proposed remake of the original RoboCop. Well, I was actually kind of interested in this one what with the news that Darren Aronofsky, director of 2008’s awesome ‘The Wrestler’ was slated to direct. This seems, however, to have completely fallen apart thanks to MGM wanting the new RoboCop to be a 3D film. Aronofsky has no interest in making such a film and rightfully so. The story of RoboCop is interesting enough that it doesn’t need a shitty gimmick like 3D. I can just imagine a ten second head-on shot of ED-209 as he sprays thousands of 3D bullets into the audience. Oh what fun it won’t be. So yeah, I guess you could say my interest has wavered ever so slightly with this news. I just hope MGM and Aronofsky can come to some kind of agreement and make the awesome remake that RoboCop deserves.

Well, that’s probably it for RoboCop. Laterz.




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