Cinepub


Review: Inseparable by Jamie

Every now and then you hear about a film that you just have to check out. For me, ‘Inseparable’ was one of those films. All I really knew about it was that it was a Chinese film that starred Kevin Spacey and featured superheroes somehow. Yes, Kevin Spacey dressed somewhat like Batman was more than enough to get me on board. I wasn’t really sure what to expect maybe just another run of the mill superhero flick with a Chinese flavour or perhaps an outright Chinese rip-off of ‘Kick Ass’ but I certainly wasn’t expecting the film I got.

Danny Wu stars as Li, a man who has suffered some recent tragedies and as a result he’s having some trouble with his marriage and at work. How bad are things going for Li? Well, let’s just say that the film opens with his attempted suicide which is cut short by the intervention of his ex-pat American neighbour Chuck (Kevin Spacey). Whilst Li is depressed and morose, Chuck is carefree and all about living life. He keeps a secret garden on the roof of their apartment building and enjoys fine, large cigars. He’s that kind of guy. Through his new found friendship with Chuck, Li begins to finally enjoy his life again and decides it’s time to do something good with his life.

Li’s wife Pang (Gong Beibi) is a news reporter and a recent undercover investigation that she had gone on revealed that a company which manufactured a folic acid supplement for pregnant women was doing so without actually putting the folic acid in it and so Li and Chuck don their superhero costumes and go to bring righteous justice upon them.

That’s all I’m really going to say about the plot because really, this is a film that I think you should see for yourself. The film is never really breaking any new ground in terms of what’s happening plot wise but it’s the way it delivers the action in a quirky, charming way that makes it a must-see. Besides, in the end the plot isn’t really what’s important here as you realise that this isn’t just some Kick Ass rip-off but rather an examination of the character of Li and just how deeply the tragedies in his life have effected him.

Perhaps the best part of the whole thing is Kevin Spacey. He’s here doing something which I sometimes think people forget he can do very well, playing cool, calm and collected. It’s something he’s definitely brought to Netflix’s ‘House of Cards’ and it’s something that’s on full glorious display here. It’s almost as though his character from ‘American Beauty’ survived and moved out to China. Hell, all of the actors do a great job which is particularly important in the terms of viewing this as a character study.

In summation Inseparable is a film that doesn’t bring anything particular original in terms of plot but brings a lot in terms of character and emotional depth. It manages to swing deftly from comedy, drama and even psychological thriller. It’s a little bit Kick Ass, a little bit ‘Fight Club’ and a little bit ‘He Was A Quiet Man‘ all wrapped up in a neat, quirky little package and I heartily recommend it to everyone, so grab yourself a copy and enjoy. Four pints out five. Laterz.

Inseparable



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



2011 in Film: Number 3 : The Dilemma by Jamie

Oh, Kevin James. Kevin James, Kevin James, Kevin James. Those two words strike fear into my heart. I have never seen a film that starred Kevin James that was in anyway worth watching. It’s not fair to say I hate the man, though he certainly doesn’t make it any easier on himself by releasing shit like Paul Blart: Mall Cop and Zookeeper.

So it is with no small amount of trepidation that I watched The Dilemma, a film starring James, Vince Vaughan, Jennifer Connelly and Winona Ryder. It’s a relatively good cast, aside from James, to be fair though Vince Vaughan certainly has his off days. The basic premise of the story is that Nick (James) and Ronny (Vaughan) are two best friends and partners in an automobile engineering company. They’ve developed a new type of electrical engine which makes the noise of the muscle car engines of the past. They need to get all of the kinks out before a big meeting with Dodge that could make or break their company.

At the same time, Ronny is planning on proposing to his girlfriend Beth(Connelly) and whilst checking out the botanical gardens that he thinks will be the perfect place in which to do that, he spies Nick’s wife Geneva (Ryder) making out with a different man, Skip (Channing Tatum). This understandably shocks the fuck out of Ronny and he finds himself in the titular dilemma. Should he tell his best friend? Confront his cheating spouse? Would telling him bring more stress to a friendship that is already strained by the importance of the deal with Dodge? Yes, it certainly is a dilemma indeed.

Anyway, the rest of the film is filled with the kind of wacky misadventures that you’d probably expect from this kind of film, many of them ending with Ronny getting injured in some manner. I suppose the moral is if you don’t do the right thing then really you’re only hurting yourself. His sneaking around trying to catch Geneva out also has the unintended consequence of making all of his friends and family think that he has fallen back into an old gambling addiction that he apparently had. Still, this is a pretty formulaic film and I’m sure you can guess how the whole thing ends.

Along with all of these shenanigans, the movie seems to throw in dramatic and emotional scenes, creating tonal shifts that could cause whiplash. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt about movies in January it’s that they are generally released at this time because the studios don’t seem to have much faith in them and it seems to me as though the number one reason that they lack that faith is because the movies don’t seem to know what they want to be. I guarantee you that if this had just been a straight up comedy featuring James and Vaughan, it would have received a later release date. I’m not saying it would have been any good, it just would have been released later.

Perhaps the part of this movie that I enjoyed most was Channing Tatum. He is actually a genuinely funny guy and his few scenes in this film actually made me laugh more often than not. Good for him. He’s made me really kinda wanna go and see 21 Jump Street. Other than him though, the film, whilst not particularly terrible, isn’t in anyway recommendable either. On the whole, it was a little better than I thought it would be but not by a lot. There are major problems with the plot such as it being too formulaic, too predictable and it also doesn’t really address the fact that Beth’s infidelity isn’t her fault alone with Nick clearly having some part in the break down of the relationship. Maybe if you catch it on TV it might be worth a watch but that’s the only time I’d bother. Two pints out of five. Laterz.



Review: 50/50 (2011) by Jamie

Cancer. It’s a subject that you might not think works that well in a comedy unless it’s in something like South Park. Is there a way to do a touching yet funny film about such a serious condition? Well, it turns out that there is as demonstrated by the subject of this review, ‘50/50’.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Adam, a man who’s life is acceptable but not particularly extraordinary. He doesn’t drink, he doesn’t smoke, he has an attractive, if somewhat emotionally distant, girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard) and he works at a local radio station with his best friend Kyle (Seth Rogen). So, like I said, nothing special but an agreeable existence. One day his whole life is turned upside down when he goes to the doctor to get some test results to find out what’s been causing his recurring back pains and he’s informed he has a rare form of cancer with a 50% survival rate. To help him deal with this he is sent to a trainee psychologist (Anna Kendricks).

And that’s about all I can really say about the plot without giving away too much in terms of spoilers. Needless to say that Adam goes through several stages of grief, anger, acceptance etc, all whilst trying to deal with the experience of going through his ordeal with cancer in his own way, generally trying to rely on help from the people around him as little as possible despite their own efforts to try and help him in their own way. Kyle tries to get Adam to use his illness to his own advantage by using his friend to help him pick up girls whilst also encouraging Adam to do the same. The character may seem a little selfish at first but it becomes clear that he really does care about his best friend and is basically just doing what he can to keep his spirits up.

There’s also Adam’s somewhat overbearing mother (Anjelica Huston) who, due to a lifetime of worrying incessantly about her son, Adam tries to push away (as kindly as he possibly can) even though this is a time in his life when he should really be seeking her care and love. This is made all the more difficult, and somewhat heartbreaking, because Adam’s father is suffering from Altzheimer’s and so, as Anna Kendrick’s character puts it “she has a husband she can’t talk to and a son who won’t.”

To sum up, ‘50/50’ is a film that manages to take a very serious subject, cancer and the way it affects the sufferer and the people around him, that manages to make it both funny and sweet. It made made me laugh and also brought a few tears to my eyes, especially the scene where Adam is talking to his parents right before he goes in for his surgery (but then again, I realise I‘m a massive pussy who cries at the drop of a hat in films. Fuck, I cried when I watched Jurassic Park in the cinema recently when the main theme played for the first time). I think it’s definitely challenging ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ as my favourite film of this year. Sure, it’s a bit saccharine at times but it never really goes too over the top in the sappiness department. It also has a pretty fine soundtrack. Seriously, if you watch one comedy about cancer this year, make it ‘50/50’. Five pints out of five. Laterz.




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