Cinepub


Review: Fifty Shades Of Grey by Jamie

I entered the booking number into the automated ticket dispensary, fingers trembling with apprehension and a sense of growing dread despite the alcohol coursing through my system, the result of a couple of hastily downed pints at the bowling alley opposite in order to try and steady my nerves. The kind of nerves that anyone would experience when willingly putting themselves through a masochistic experience such as this. My mind was a blur as I waited in line for refreshments, a large coke on my mind, something large enough to try and help me endure the two hour torture session I was about to submit myself to. Finally it was my turn. I ordered, fingers fumbling with my money as I handed it over. Could the person behind the counter sense my fear? Did they know what it was that I was here to do?

“I LOST A BET!” I yelled, slightly drunkenly, at the man who was taking tickets. “Ok…” He replied, a confused look upon his face until he saw the name of the movie on the ticket that I handed him and he chuckled knowingly, tearing it and informing me that I would be in screen one, seat M17. Of all the lies I had thought up to try and save face in front of the ticket collector, I lost a bet was the one that had suddenly come to me in my moment of panic. He bought it, I thought to myself, smiling and safe in the knowledge that this perfect stranger who I would almost certainly never have another social interaction with knew that I was not here of my own choice. I entered the screening room, the doorway decorated with a number of black, grey, lighter grey and white balloons. Apparently the party industry never anticipated a day when they would actually need balloons in a massive variety of shades of grey.

The screening room was packed, a few couple sprinkled through here and there and frankly a lot more men than I’d anticipated but the majority of the crowd were older women, the kind that apparently didn’t realise that porn was widely and freely available on the internet.Perhaps it was my imagination but I could almost swear that the scent of ancient vaginas lubricating themselves for the first time in years out of anticipation for what was to come permeated the room. Pity the poor bastard who had to clean this place afterwards. I tried to keep my head down and was distraught to find that my seat, seat M17 which I had chosen thanks to it’s position next to the aisle, was currently occupied by a creature that I could best describe as Jabba the Hutt in a sundress. Best not to disturb this beast, I thought, and took the seat opposite, still on the aisle, and hoped that no one would claim it for themselves. Eventually four teenage girls came and sat in the four empty seats next to me and it looked like I was safe from having to move or attempt to meet the sundress wearing Hutt in hand to hand combat. And so I settled in to watch Fifty Shades of Grey…

What can really be said about E.L. James novel Fifty Shades of Grey that hasn’t already been said? We’ve heard all the criticism, that it’s domestic abuse tarted up as kinky sex, that it has as much to do with realistic BDSM as The Care Bears Movie II: A New Generation (Not the first Care Bears movie, the BDSM scenes of which were extensively researched and portrayed in as realistic a way as possible) and that it’s poorly written with characters being little more than cardboard cut-outs with the internal monologue of pasta. Some of us, myself included, know these criticisms to be just because we’ve actually read the damnable thing. I read it because I’m a glutton for the worst entertainment has to offer and wondered if reading a bad book could be as enjoyable as watching a bad movie. Spoiler alert, it isn’t. It’s a lot longer and good luck trying to get a bunch of friends round for a drunken reading of Fifty Shades of Grey. Anyway, with the way that this book has been slammed by critics, laypeople and kink enthusiasts (And I mean slammed as in criticised not as in, you know, a good way) alike, the world was left wondering if a movie adaptation could be any better. Well it is.

Yes, Fifty Shades of Grey: The Motion Picture is better than Kinky Twilight Fanfic Fifty Shades of Grey: The Novel but please, don’t get your hopes up that this is the great BDSM work of fiction that the world has been clamouring for. Saying this movie is better than the source material it is based on isn’t much different that saying a rhinoceros with two legs has a better chance of survival than a rhinoceros with no legs. I mean, it’s technically probably true but the difference is negligible at best. The story is still largely the same story which means that it’s weak though it does have the advantage of not being narrated by it’s main character Anastasia Steele and her fucking “inner goddess” so we’re at least saved from that indignity.

The film tells the story of the aforementioned Miss Steele who ends up interviewing handsome young billionaire Christian Grey in place of her room mate who has fallen ill. There is an immediate attraction between the two (apparently) and he is soon stalking her, tracking her phone using GPS and picking her up while she’s drunk and bringing her back to strange hotel rooms and changing her clothes while she is passed out. You know, love. It is as the plot, well, progresses I guess that Anna learns that Christian has special tastes when it comes to the bedroom. He sleeps hanging upside down and often leaves the bed in the middle of the night. Could it be that Christian Grey is in fact the mysterious Batman who stalks Gotham’s criminals at night? I kid of course. Christian is actually in to kinky sex which could only really be shocking to post-menopausal grandmothers and people who’ve never heard of the internet in this day and age. A few bland sex scenes later and we’re left with Anna wondering if she can really go down this sexy path and also knowing that if she doesn’t she might just lose Christian forever! Whatever will she do? Will you care? No. No you won’t.

Ugh. Ok, let’s get in to the meat of this thing. Why is Fifty Shades of Grey the movie better than the book even if it is only marginally so? That, as near as I can tell, rest on the shoulders of two people. Director Sam Taylor-Johnson and Anastasia Steele actress Dakota Johnson. Taylor-Johnson, it seems, didn’t take the material as seriously as the author did and so she thankfully injects it with a slight camp, tongue-in-cheek tone the story sorely, sorely needed. She knows that she’s making a movie based on trash and so she’s going to have a little fun with it and that is much appreciated by those of us who have forced ourselves to see it.

Dakota Johnson is the real highlight of the movie though. She takes what was a weak-willed, personality-less character in Anastasia Steele and actually gives her some agency and, most importantly, a sense of humour. She’s quick witted and smart and Johnson has a real sense of comedic timing which really works to her advantage. Whereas the Anastasia Steele in the book feels as though she’s being manipulated and cajoled into doing things that she doesn’t really want to do through some stupidly blind love for an abusive partner, this Anastasia Steele actually feels as though she’s in control and is allowing things to proceed as she wants and at her pace. It’s a stark contrast and one that’s really important if you’re going to bring this story to the big screen.

As for the bad, well, there’s Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey himself. Well, perhaps bad isn’t the right word just kind of left without much to do beyond say fuck a few times and fret about Anna. Oh, and I guess he broods a few times too. What I’m saying is that he isn’t really giving much to work with here and that which he is given leaves him feeling much more like a charicature than a character, especially when placed up against the much more wilful Anna that inhabits the screen version of this story. All his assertions that he wants to make her his come of as silly rather than sexy or steamy. And he ends up just seeming like a complete tool, perhaps even moreso than if he had the love-blind, meek, enabling Anna opposite him. Perfect example is a scene where Christian is explaining his sexual inclinations. Anna asks if they can still go on dates, watch movies and such to which he replies “That’s not really my thing.” There is a moment’s silence in which Anna looks a little upset prompting Christian to ask her to keep an open mind. Excuse me? Did your character just say that he’s absolutely not interested in what the other character wants and then accuse the other character of being closed minded because they weren’t interested in what he wanted? Wow.

As for the other characters, ummm, yeah. They don’t really matter. As for plot, well, it’s a slight improvement over the original but it’s still the same basic thing. Nothing actually happens in this movie. Why would it need to? Our main character begins a relationship with a billionaire. Anytime the plot needs to move forward, he throws money at it. Job done. And when the movie wasn’t being tongue in cheek or the romance was trying to be taken seriously, well, let’s just say I spent a lot of time checking the time and figuring out just how much time I had left and as I already mentioned, the sex scenes were just kind of bland and it wasn’t helped by the fact that one of the girls in my row couldn’t stop giggling through each and every one.

So in the long run, this movie was not as bad as it could have been but that by no means makes it good. I’ll say that, since it’s fair to compare this to Twilight due to it’s fanfic roots, it is better than all but one of the Twilight movies (that one being the last one. Thanks Michael Sheen!) and that is largely because Dakota Johnson > Kristen Stewart. Hell, this movie even managed to get a couple of laughs out of me. Still I can’t recommend this to anyone . If you want romance with a hint of sexiness then… well, fine. I guess there isn’t a dearth out there particularly for female audiences. But if you want porn, then the internet is out there and those things can have some pretty deep story lines sometimes I hear. One and a half pints out of five. Laterz.

Foxcatcher



31 Days of Horror 1: In The Mouth of Madness (1994) by Jamie

It’s the most wonderful time of year, the time when killers stalk, monsters hunt and ghosts haunt. When the deep, dark fears that dwell within the collective mind of mankind are given form and allowed to roam free on our movie screens. Yes, once more ‘tis the season of Halloween. To celebrate this year, I’ve decided to engage in an activity that I’ve seen a number of people indulging in, namely watching a horror film a day for each day of the month of October or should I say Spooktober! No, my legal team have informed me that I should not, in fact, say Spooktober. Ever.

Anyway, my criteria for this 31 Days of Horror thing is rather simple. Pick a horror film I haven’t seen, watch it and then review it. Of course, this can garner a mixed bag of results. Some movies can be so painfully middle of the road that they just kind of aren’t worth reviewing. Still, I shall soldier on regardless safe in the knowledge that there’s at least a new ‘Child’s Play’ film in my future. Anyway let’s begin with John Carpenter’s Lovecraftian tale ‘In The Mouth of Madness’.

One of my biggest regrets, other than not attempting to have sex with Scarlett Johansson that one time I was in the same room as her, is the fact that I have never read any of HP Lovecraft’s works. Every now and then I’ll get it in my head to but then I look at his bibliography and the arguments about a suitable reading order online and I eventually give up. Still I have absorbed at least a passing knowledge of the Lovecraftian mythos from the general pop-culture milieu and one day I will finally settle on where to start and actually indulge. Until then, I figured that maybe ‘In The Mouth of Madness’ might be a good place to look to satisfy that longing for eldritch abominations that I seem to harbour. Sadly, it kind of wasn’t.

Not to say that I didn’t enjoy the film, I did for the most part. I just think that perhaps the pacing was a little off. Hmmm, let me begin at the beginning. The film basically follows the recollections of John Trent, insurance fraud investigator, as he tells the story of how he came to end up in an insane asylum after attempting to find out what happened to horror author/Lovecraft surrogate Sutter Cane who has vanished just before his new book ‘In The Mouth of Madness’ is due to be released causing his rabid fans to partake in a bit of rioting.

The trail of clues that Trent uncovers leads him and Cane’s editor to a town that fans of the author’s books may be familiar with. Will Trent find Cane and his new manuscript and is there any truth to the rumours that Cane’s work can turn people mad?

Now like I say, for the most part I did enjoy this film. Sam Neil plays Trent and he can play a man unsure of whether or not his sanity is slipping away with the very best whilst still managing to maintain an air of scepticism in his portrayal. The film also isn’t short on classic Carpenter style with the film bringing ‘The Thing’ to mind on more than one occasion and even reminding me of a less comedic ‘They Live’ at times.

My main problem with the film is the pacing. It just doesn’t give enough time for the tension to build properly. It feels as though there’s an attempt to make the film feel like it’s about the slow, creeping rise of insanity and the realisation that reality may not be as real as you thought but the film moves too fast for that feeling of tension to ever really build and in the end, you can’t help but feel slightly disappointed because of that. Still, this is definitely one for Carpenter fans who may have overlooked it. Three pints out of five. Sorry that this review is a bit truncated but the idea for this came late and now I must sleep to be refreshed and ready for another spooktacular review tomorrow!… What’s that? Never use the word spooktacular either. Fine. Laterz.

 

 

SPOOKTACULAR SPOOKTOBER! MWAHAHAHAHA!



Review: The Social Network by Jamie

Some small spoilers but I’ve tried to keep it relatively spoiler free, nothing that isn’t really obvious from watching the first third of the film or so.

Facebook has irrevocably changed the way human beings interact, either for the worse or the better. It’s hard to tell which. It ensures that we can stay in touch with old friends who it’d just be difficult to keep in touch with otherwise but then there’s always the odd report of a paedophile setting up a group so they can get pictures of kids. Whether true or not (and I tend to lean towards not because it’s my experience that the internet creates the ultimate herd mind, a mass organism that has all of it’s fight or flight instincts multiplied by billions compared to that which you’d experience in a single human being. If you don’t understand then just ask Tommy Lee Jones in Men In Black), these reports certainly help to bring into question just how good of a thing Facebook is. But rarely is the question asked How is Facebook? The reason that that question is rarely asked is because it’s poorly worded. A better question would be where did Facebook come from? And that just so happens to be the subject of this film ‘The Social Network’.

Now I remember when their was first talk of this film being made and everyone, including myself, were basically saying “A film about Facebook? That’s fucking retarded! Who the hell’s gonna see that?” It didn’t matter that David Fincher was directing or that Aaron Sorkin was writing. It just seemed like a film about a website was a really stupid idea. And on reflection it would be a really stupid idea if that website wasn’t Facebook. The reason that Facebook is the exception is, as I stated, it is a world changing thing but more importantly it’s the way in which the website came to be that is fascinating.

Still, even knowing that the movie was about the complicated relationships behind Facebook, I wasn’t completely sold. The trailer pissed me off a little. What with the whole choir version of Radio head’s “Creep” it just seemed so pretentious and so self-important for a film about the founding of a website. Still, I had thought the same thing about the trailer for ‘Frost/Nixon’ and that ended up being a film that I really loved. The proof I decided would be in the pudding and, as it turned out, what a fucking awesome pudding.

From the opening film where Mark Zuckerberg (Jessie Eisenberg) was having a war of words with his girlfriend to the films final resolution, I was fucking hooked. The story is twisty and turny, filled with betrayal and intrigue. It’s hard for me to even begin this review.

Ok, so the basic plot is Mark Zuckerberg breaks up with his girlfriend, hacks Harvard’s computer network and creates Facesmash, a website that allows people to compare girls at the university whilst blogging nasty things about his ex. The website goes viral and within a few hours, Zuckerberg has managed to crash the entire Harvard network. He is reprimanded by the school but his actions gain the attention of the Winklevoss twins (Arnie Hammer) and Divaya Narendra (Max Minghella) who approach him with an idea for a new social network, completely exclusive to Harvard, allowing friends to share photos and keep in touch and that kind of thing. Zuckerberg agrees to help them.

As he’s working on the site, however, he comes up with his own idea. It’s similar to their idea but greatly improved allowing for greater user participation and a wider range of features. He calls it ‘The Facebook’ and launches it with the financial aid of his friend Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) who becomes the manager of the business side of The Facebook. Eventually the website expands beyond the grounds of Harvard which attracts the attention of another internet pioneer, Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake) the creator of Napster who finds himself having fallen on hard times due to being sued by pretty much everyone in the music industry. It’s here when things really start to expand and soon everyone is rich.

Of course the Winklevoss twins and Narenda haven’t exactly been too pleased with all this as they feel that Zuckerberg basically just stole their idea. Finding no help from Harvard’s higher ups, they send a cease and desist letter and pretty much leave it at that as one of the twins is really reluctant to sue. That is until they find out Facebook has spread all the way to England. Then it’s litigation time.

Meanwhile Zuckberberg basically screws over Saverin who also decides to sue him and Zuckerberg suddenly finds himself fighing two cases.

It’s these trials that are basically the framework of the film with all the other stuff provided as flashbacks. It’s handled really well all though the first time the film left one trial only for the flashback to end in another I was a little confused though it didn’t take long to figure out what was going on. It’s a really interesting way for this film to play out especially if, like me, you haven’t read the book it was based on ‘The Accidental Billionaires’. You know that Zuckerberg is gonna screw over the twins and Narendra, at least from their point of view, and it’s fairly obvious how but you can’t figure out just how he’s going to screw over Eduardo who, to be honest, seems like the only real friend that Zuckerberg has due to his… somewhat abrasive personality.

So yes, it’s time to talk about Jesse Eisenberg’s portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg. Well, for years the standard joke has been that Eisenberg is basically the guy you get in your film if you can’t get Michael Cera but in ‘The Social Network’ he really shines. I honestly couldn’t see Michael Cera pulling this off. The way he portrays Zuckerberg as this arrogant, selfish, self-centered… Hell, basically sociopathic individual that for some reason you still feel something for is amazing.

Hell everyone’s amazing in this film. Andrew Garfield stands out as poor Eduardo who sticks with Zuckerberg through everything despite his personality and is ultimately discarded. In fact the scene when he is finally just screwed over by his best friends is one of the most heart-breaking things I’ve seen since maybe Toy Story 3. I didn’t cry this time but I think I was actually close.

Even Justin Timberlake surprised me as Parker, again someone who, like Zuckerberg, should be truly, truly unlikeable but there’s something about him that just you just can’t fully hate him. Oh, you can hate him more than Zuckerberg but still there’s something just kinda likeable beneath all of his doucehbaggery.

Fuck, everything in this film was great. The plot and the way it unfolded, the score by Trent Reznor, the way Eisenberg handled the quick, snappy dialogue, the fact that one guy is playing both twins and you would swear that, no, they must’ve just cast twin…. Everything. Go see this movei. Drop whatever it is you’re doing right now and go see it.

On top of everything else there is a personal investment in this story. We all use Facebook. That’s just the way life is now and to see it’s origins and to see how it spread and became this major force in our lives, well, it’s just incredible. See it. Five pints out of five. Laterz.



Review: The Social Network by Jamie

Some small spoilers but I’ve tried to keep it relatively spoiler free, nothing that isn’t really obvious from watching the first third of the film or so.

Facebook has irrevocably changed the way human beings interact, either for the worse or the better. It’s hard to tell which. It ensures that we can stay in touch with old friends who it’d just be difficult to keep in touch with otherwise but then there’s always the odd report of a paedophile setting up a group so they can get pictures of kids. Whether true or not (and I tend to lean towards not because it’s my experience that the internet creates the ultimate herd mind, a mass organism that has all of it’s fight or flight instincts multiplied by billions compared to that which you’d experience in a single human being. If you don’t understand then just ask Tommy Lee Jones in Men In Black), these reports certainly help to bring into question just how good of a thing Facebook is. But rarely is the question asked How is Facebook? The reason that that question is rarely asked is because it’s poorly worded. A better question would be where did Facebook come from? And that just so happens to be the subject of this film ‘The Social Network’.

Now I remember when their was first talk of this film being made and everyone, including myself, were basically saying “A film about Facebook? That’s fucking retarded! Who the hell’s gonna see that?” It didn’t matter that David Fincher was directing or that Aaron Sorkin was writing. It just seemed like a film about a website was a really stupid idea. And on reflection it would be a really stupid idea if that website wasn’t Facebook. The reason that Facebook is the exception is, as I stated, it is a world changing thing but more importantly it’s the way in which the website came to be that is fascinating.

Still, even knowing that the movie was about the complicated relationships behind Facebook, I wasn’t completely sold. The trailer pissed me off a little. What with the whole choir version of Radio head’s “Creep” it just seemed so pretentious and so self-important for a film about the founding of a website. Still, I had thought the same thing about the trailer for ‘Frost/Nixon’ and that ended up being a film that I really loved. The proof I decided would be in the pudding and, as it turned out, what a fucking awesome pudding.

From the opening film where Mark Zuckerberg (Jessie Eisenberg) was having a war of words with his girlfriend to the films final resolution, I was fucking hooked. The story is twisty and turny, filled with betrayal and intrigue. It’s hard for me to even begin this review.

Ok, so the basic plot is Mark Zuckerberg breaks up with his girlfriend, hacks Harvard’s computer network and creates Facesmash, a website that allows people to compare girls at the university whilst blogging nasty things about his ex. The website goes viral and within a few hours, Zuckerberg has managed to crash the entire Harvard network. He is reprimanded by the school but his actions gain the attention of the Winklevoss twins (Arnie Hammer) and Divaya Narendra (Max Minghella) who approach him with an idea for a new social network, completely exclusive to Harvard, allowing friends to share photos and keep in touch and that kind of thing. Zuckerberg agrees to help them.

As he’s working on the site, however, he comes up with his own idea. It’s similar to their idea but greatly improved allowing for greater user participation and a wider range of features. He calls it ‘The Facebook’ and launches it with the financial aid of his friend Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) who becomes the manager of the business side of The Facebook. Eventually the website expands beyond the grounds of Harvard which attracts the attention of another internet pioneer, Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake) the creator of Napster who finds himself having fallen on hard times due to being sued by pretty much everyone in the music industry. It’s here when things really start to expand and soon everyone is rich.

Of course the Winklevoss twins and Narenda haven’t exactly been too pleased with all this as they feel that Zuckerberg basically just stole their idea. Finding no help from Harvard’s higher ups, they send a cease and desist letter and pretty much leave it at that as one of the twins is really reluctant to sue. That is until they find out Facebook has spread all the way to England. Then it’s litigation time.

Meanwhile Zuckberberg basically screws over Saverin who also decides to sue him and Zuckerberg suddenly finds himself fighing two cases.

It’s these trials that are basically the framework of the film with all the other stuff provided as flashbacks. It’s handled really well all though the first time the film left one trial only for the flashback to end in another I was a little confused though it didn’t take long to figure out what was going on. It’s a really interesting way for this film to play out especially if, like me, you haven’t read the book it was based on ‘The Accidental Billionaires’. You know that Zuckerberg is gonna screw over the twins and Narendra, at least from their point of view, and it’s fairly obvious how but you can’t figure out just how he’s going to screw over Eduardo who, to be honest, seems like the only real friend that Zuckerberg has due to his… somewhat abrasive personality.

So yes, it’s time to talk about Jesse Eisenberg’s portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg. Well, for years the standard joke has been that Eisenberg is basically the guy you get in your film if you can’t get Michael Cera but in ‘The Social Network’ he really shines. I honestly couldn’t see Michael Cera pulling this off. The way he portrays Zuckerberg as this arrogant, selfish, self-centered… Hell, basically sociopathic individual that for some reason you still feel something for is amazing.

Hell everyone’s amazing in this film. Andrew Garfield stands out as poor Eduardo who sticks with Zuckerberg through everything despite his personality and is ultimately discarded. In fact the scene when he is finally just screwed over by his best friends is one of the most heart-breaking things I’ve seen since maybe Toy Story 3. I didn’t cry this time but I think I was actually close.

Even Justin Timberlake surprised me as Parker, again someone who, like Zuckerberg, should be truly, truly unlikeable but there’s something about him that just you just can’t fully hate him. Oh, you can hate him more than Zuckerberg but still there’s something just kinda likeable beneath all of his doucehbaggery.

Fuck, everything in this film was great. The plot and the way it unfolded, the score by Trent Reznor, the way Eisenberg handled the quick, snappy dialogue, the fact that one guy is playing both twins and you would swear that, no, they must’ve just cast twin…. Everything. Go see this movei. Drop whatever it is you’re doing right now and go see it.

On top of everything else there is a personal investment in this story. We all use Facebook. That’s just the way life is now and to see it’s origins and to see how it spread and became this major force in our lives, well, it’s just incredible. See it. Five pints out of five. Laterz.




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