Cinepub


2012 BEST PICTURE ROUND UP: Django Unchained by Jamie

Finally the UK has the chance to see the latest revenge epic from Quentin Tarantino. It’s a formula that we should all be pretty familiar with at this point. Take an established genre and weave a stylised revenge narrative through said genre’s filter. It was the kung-fu genre in Kill Bill, the World War 2 genre in Inglorious Basterds and it’s the turn of the Western (or Southern as it’s being promoted) in Django Unchained.

The film essentially follows the story of Django (Jamie Foxx), a slave freed by the German dentist/bounty hunter Dr King Schulz (Christoph Waltz). Schulz frees Django because he has need of his help hunting down some of his targets. Along the way Schulz makes Django his partner, training him in the ways of the bounty hunter with the promise that, when the winter passes they will go and free his enslaved wife who Django became separated from as punishment for trying to escape from a former owner. In order to rescue her they must travel to the Candyland plantation owned by Mandingo fighter trader Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio).

That’s probably about as bare-bones as I can keep the synopsis without giving away too much away so let’s get in to the meat of the proceedings. Django Unchained is Tarantino at his Tarntino-est. That’s probably the best way to sum up this film in a simple, single sentence. Basterds was the film that showed what he could get away with up to a point and Unchained is his next logical evolution. It’s the kind of film that no one else in Hollywood could get away with. In fact, if anyone else had tried to make this film it probably would have resembled something more like Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, a low budget affair which would have gone largely unwatched and rightfully so. With Tarantino at the helm, this is pure unadulterated awesome. Everything is over the top and it’s beautiful to revel in.

It has everything we’ve come to expect from the director. Gratuitous violence, excessive bad language, extreme nods to exploitation cinema (including an appearance from the actor who originally portrayed Django) and Samuel L. Jackson. It’s all here. Again, these are all elements that could add up to nothing more than a shitty B-movie under the eye of anyone else but amongst all these elements, Tarantino also manages to include an incredibly engaging story that’s beautifully shot and a joy to watch.

Perhaps one of the most enjoyable things about this film is that Tarantino removes one of his most common reference points by the time period this film is set in: cinema. Now obviously the film is still peppered with cinematic references throughout but this time it’s merely through style. There’s no dialogue referencing film as there is in everything else. Hell, even Inglorious Basterds has it in spades. And yes, overall I think this makes Unchained all around a better film with Tarantino really having to focus on the script without having the particular crutch of characters just discussing film and film philosophy for minutes at a time to fall back on.

I guess I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the controversy surrounding the film. Yes, the word ‘nigger’ is used a lot in this film. It’s uttered 110 times to be exact. I can see how some people would find this offensive and it’s probably that style that I mentioned earlier that would make it seem that way. If this were a sedate, “serious” movie like Amistad which gets a sheen of legitimacy because it’s based on an actual historical event and portrays the horrors of the slave trade without the filter of exploitation film making. It’s because Tarantino makes his movies in this particular style that his decision to use the word so many times can be seen as gratuitous as his use of violence. It’s in this film, however, that the bad language does serve a purpose. It’s a representation of what the South was like during that time. Would it be OK to show white people treating black people as nothing more than property but not have them using racial slurs? It’d be unrealistic. Yes, you can be politically correct and all that jazz but what you can’t do is whitewash a politically incorrect past. To do so is to belittle the suffering of the people who lived through those times and to learn absolutely nothing from that shameful past. It also helps from the point of view of the film in making the revenge aspect that much more satisfying.

Hell, this review is getting all over the place a bit now so let’s try and wrap things up a bit succinctly. This might just be Tarantino’s best film yet. The music is, as always, great particularly that opening theme. It looks amazing with the kind of beautiful shots that often make Westerns just incredible to look at. The performances are all pure class. I was going to say that Waltz and Jackson in particular stand out but honestly everyone is on the top of their game with DiCaprio playing the charming yet sadistic slave owner Candie with almost mustache-twirling finesse and Foxx playing Django slightly subdued, yet with dreams of vengeance always simmering beneath the surface, which is a nice counterbalance to everything else that’s going on. (Jackson is great though. It’s nice to see him playing someone other than Samuel L. Motherfucking Jackson.) This might also be the funniest film the director has done is a while with the proto-KKK scene in particular standing out. If I do have one criticism, it’s Tarantino’s cameo. His Australian accent is fucking terrible. I mean, really, really bad. But thankfully it’s a small scene.

So yeah, in summation, fuck me this film is great. It’s really fucking great. It absolutely deserves it’s best picture nomination. Go and see it. See it now. Five pints out of five. Fuck me, what a great fucking film. Laterz.

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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: The King’s Speech by Jamie

Royalty. As a British person I spend at least twenty-three hours a day thinking about it, even whilst sleeping. My morning begins by sorting out my pound notes by denomination and saluting the picture of the Queen on each one before singing the national anthem to the government issued poster of her that comes in a variety of different versions including a tasteful swimsuit edition.

As such it was my duty to go and watch The King’s Speech, a film about our current monarch’s father, George VI (Played by Colin Firth in the film) , who took over the position of King of England after his brother (Guy Pearce) abdicated the throne to marry a twice divorced American woman. The story of the film begins long before the abdication crisis, though it certainly plays a pivotal part in the plot, at the 1925 Empire Exhibition where the then Prince Albert, Duke of York has to give a speech at exhibition’s closing. Unfortunately the speech is a bit of a failure thanks to the Prince’s severe stutter.

After several unsuccessful attempts to try and fix the problem with various different treatments, his wife Elizabeth, the Duchess of York (Helena Bonham Carter) gets him an appointment with an Australian speech therapist by the name of Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush). The film then follows the two as they try and fix Prince Albert’s condition both through exercises and trying to get to the psychological root of the problem. It also charts the growing friendship between the two, overcoming difficulties together such as the aforementioned abdication of Edward VIII, the Prince becoming a King and just what such a position means in a time when the title doesn’t really denote any kind of real political power.

That’s pretty much all of the synopsis I really feel like going into because I honestly want to spoil as little of this film as possible. I know some will say that you can’t spoil a film based on a true story but fuck you. Not everyone knows the story. I knew elements of it like the whole abdication thing but I didn’t even know that George VI had a stammer so that was new. It’s not really the kind of thing that’s taught in history class.

So how was the film? Well, I was honestly surprised by just how much I enjoyed it. Everything just seemed to come together. The acting was of the highest order, though I’ll concede the fact that there were times when Colin Firth could have reigned things in a little bit better but that’s a very, very small criticism of an otherwise near perfect performance. It was certainly nice to see Helena Bonham Carter playing someone who wasn’t bats hit insane or just weird for the sake of being weird and Geoffrey Rush was insanely likeable as the Australian who started of as a simple speech therapist and became the friend of a King.

It was also shot and directed wonderfully as well. There are a lot of shots of people just talking without much else going on but that’s fine for me. I’ve always been someone who has valued good story telling over flashy visuals and this film was put together in exactly the right way for the story being told. Not that there aren’t some interesting things going on. There are two scenes in particular that stand out, one where Albert is talking to his brother about Hitler during a party and another when Logue and the Prince are walking through a park in an incredibly foggy London discussing the possibility of Albert becoming King.

Also I don’t if it’s simply because I am British but found the subject matter far, far more interesting than I thought I would. I’ve always been interested by history but when I first heard about what the film was about I’ll admit it sounded a bit boring but I was very, very wrong. It’s fascinating to see the days of Britain gone by, back when we still had the last remnants of an Empire, so-called ‘colonials’ were looked down upon somewhat and things in Europe were starting to take a turn for the worst. It was also interesting to see get a glimpse into the private lives of the Royal Family, even one from the past. Of course, some things are changed for dramatic or artistic reasons. For example I did think it was a bit odd just how involved Winston Churchill was during the films climactic scenes considering he wasn’t Prime Minister yet and, indeed, wikipedia reveals that he wouldn’t have been involved at all but he’s a historical character that the audience would recognise far better than most of the people who were actually there so I can understand his inclusion.

If I have one criticism, and to be honest it’s not really this films fault, it’s just how many good British actors have been involved with the Harry Potter franchise and therefore show up in this film as well. I suppose it’s not really a criticism but it was somewhat distracting and it just took me out of the film a bit. I mean you’ve got Dumbledore, Bellatrix and that dude who turned into a rat all in this film and yeah… I suppose it’s my problem, not the film. At one point I was half expecting a flash back to the King’s younger years where he was being played by Daniel Radcliffe or something. Again, just a thing that bugged me personally.

Oh, and one final thing before I forget, the film is very, very funny. A hell of a lot funnier then I was expecting but it also has a lot of heart and at no point is the stammer itself ever really used for a cheap laugh, though some of the techniques used to attempt to cure it certainly are. Well, not cheap laughs. Good, awesome and I assume expensive laughs or something.

So yeah, when all’s said and done, I really, really enjoyed this film and heartily recommend it to everyone. Everyone. And the Queen enjoyed it as well saying she was “touched by a moving portrayal of her father” so I am literally duty bound to give this film five pints out of five. Laterz.



Review: Piranha 3D (2010) by Jamie

Light Spoilers Ahead

Well, we’ve finally come to the end of the Piranhathon and I have to say, thank fuck for that. I am getting pretty damn sick of fucking piranha at this point and I’ve only actually seen one good film out of four so far. Will Piranha 3D be the shining saviour that can make everything ok again?

Well holy fucking shitballs, yes! Yes it can! Now I was a little sceptical going in to Piranha 3D simply because of that 3D bit at the end there. I’ve never really had 3D work properly for me. I don’t know if it’s been were I’ve sat in the cinema or if because I have to wear normal glasses beneath the 3D pair or what but for some reason, it’s always left me feeling a little bit off and with hideously aching eyes, especially after Toy Story 3 which just seemed to give me hideous eye strain for about a week afterwards.

But Piranha 3D worked perfectly! And what’s more, Alexandre Aja seems to get what 3D is. It’s a gimmick and it should be treated as such. James Cameron can bitch and moan about how 3D is the future of cinema as long as you don’t do what Piranha 3D does but he’s wrong. 3D is a gimmick, Piranha 3D treated it as such and it was the first 3D film I’ve enjoyed because of the 3D rather than in spite of it. Avatar just looked like World of Warcraft to me.

Anyway, I suppose I shouldn’t really give too much of the plot away since it’s still a fairly new release but I’m going to issue a spoiler alert right now anyway. Spoiler alert: Piranha eat some folk. That’s about it, honestly. There is a lot of build up where you sort of learn a few things about the main characters, although now that I think about it you don’t really learn that much. Most of the build-up is actually spent on jokes about Spring Break, booze, boobs and porn with the occasional moment where it’s made clear that our main male teen character (Steven R. McQueen) likes female teen character (Jessica Szhor) but none of it really matters. It’s all building up to the slaughter.

Ok, I’m not gonna bother with plot anymore, though like I said, that’s pretty much it. Let’s talk about everything else that makes this movie awesome. First off, it has nudity. A ridiculous amount of nudity. In fact if I would be surprised if it wasn’t the nudity that got this film an 18 in the UK and an R in the US rather than the violence and gore. There’s a scene of Kelly Brook and Riley Steele swimming naked underwater for what seemed like ten minutes. It was a bit confusing because the natural way to end that scene is with a vicious piranha attack but they just surfaced and were fine. Still, nudity.

Piranha 3D also is chock full of blood, gore and severed CGI penises. Alright, it’s not full of severed CGI penises, there’s just one but its pretty amusing. Still, the piranha attacks and the people related death that occur as a result of them trying to escape the piranha are over the top, creative, uber-bloody and just plain fun to watch if you like that kind of thing. I won’t say anything about any of the death in specific I’ll just say that they should easily satisfy a gore-hound. Piranha 3D also manages to keep in with the tradition of the original Piranha by having the odd single death here and there but really going for the massive attack, that is piranha attacking huge groups of people en-masse. It makes for a fantastic scene filled with churning water, frantic bodies and floating body parts. Also that water turns redder than you’ve ever seen it turn red in your life. It’s fucking awesome.

Finally a word about the cameos in this film. First off you’ve got a couple of porn stars. Always nice to see and they actually have some of the best deaths in the entire film. But the two greatest cameos since Zombieland belong to Richard Dreyfuss and Christopher Lloyd. Richard Dreyfuss basically reprises his role of Matt Hooper from Jaws in the opening scene of this film, sitting on his boat, drinking Amity Beer and singing “Show Me The Way To Go Home”. Then the piranha come. It’s awesome. Then we have Christopher Lloyd playing what is essentially an ichthyologist version of Doc Brown from Back To The Future. Hell they even throw in a little time travel joke with regard as to when it would have been a good time to stop the piranha. Sadly though, he does not say “Great Scott!!!” which would have stood out like a sore thumb but would have been entirely appropriate in this movie.

I’m sorry I haven’t gone into as great detail with this film as I did with ‘Mega Piranha’ yesterday (a fucking 2500 word essay on Mega Piranha!!!) but I think this is definetly one you’ll want to just check out. It’s big, it’s loud, it’s politically incorrect and it’s proud. This film knows exactly what it is and I’d say it does for the B-Movie what The Expendables does for the action movie. See it. See it on the big screen in 3D. You won’t regret it. Four and a half pints out of five. Laterz




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