Cinepub


31 Days of Horror 2: Walled In by Jamie

Part of what I was hoping to uncover during this 31 Days of Halloween adventure were some hidden gems, some little seen movies that were actually deserving ofway more attention. When I saw Walled In on Netflix, I hoped that it might be one such film. The premise seemed interesting. It was abut someone who trapped people inside walls and the image on Netflix showed a screaming woman buried up to her waist in wall. Awesome, I thought, already imaging a twisted psychopath surrounded by people wailing in horror as they were trapped halfway inside walls.

Unfortunately, this was not the film I got. It in fact takes place 15 years or so after a maniac trapped people inside the walls of a building and suffocated them by pouring concrete in with them. The film is, in actuality, an attempt to be every other film, lifting plot points, shots and even sounds from other films. Sometimes it’s Nightmare on Elm Street, sometimes it’s Psycho, sometimes it‘s The Shining. Sometimes it’s the tale of a woman haunted by the ghosts of those who had died in this building before her, sometimes it’s the tale of a psychologically damaged person torturing and tormenting another out of a twisted sense of vengeance. Walled In is many, many things but the one thing it isn’t is good.

It’s boring, the acting is about one degree above that in Birdemic, the plot is nonsensical at best and I fell asleep a couple of times, leading me to have to rewind the damn thing to try and see what I’d missed which served to only prolong my misery. I’ll admit that there were a couple of moments where I found myself a little engaged by the plot but these were few and far between. Overall a deeply disappointing experience. One pint out of five. Laterz.

Walled In

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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 Purge by Jamie

One of the problems with being a film fan in the 21st Century is that I often find myself unable to avoid knowing everything about a movie before it’s released. Twitter, Facebook and the internet in general have all left me with knowing perhaps a little too much about something before I see it. There are still, however, movies that slip through the cracks. The Purge was one such movie. I think I saw one trailer for it which I obviously didn’t really take much away from and then largely ignored its existence until it’s release.

On a week that I thought was pretty light on releases, I checked the Cineworld website on Friday and noticed that once again I had overlooked The Purge. I booked my ticket and decided to watch the trailer again. It was an interesting concept, I’ll admit, but nothing I was particularly excited about. Maybe something from a sub-par episode of Charlie Brooker’s brilliant ‘Black Mirror’ series. So it was with pretty much no expectations that I headed off to the cinema.

Now for those of you that don’t know, the premise of the movie is thus: It is 2022 and America has become a practically crime free utopia. The reason behind this is The Purge, one night of the year when all crime is legal. It’s a night which people look forward to with a mixture of excitement and fear, some relishing the chance to give in to their baser animal desires whilst others choose to lock themselves away behind state of the art security systems until the night has passed. The film follows the Sandin family who have made their fortune through selling said security systems. They have a normal night of waiting it out ahead but things go awry when their son lets a man who was being attacked into their home. Will they be safe with the man in the house and what will happen when those who had been hunting him show up to finish the job?

So what did I think of it? Honestly, I was pleasantly surprised. Things are perhaps a little too slow to start off with but once the plot really gets underway, the movie becomes increasingly tense to a degree that I don’t think I’ve really felt since the first ‘Rec’ movie. And while that first act of the movie is slow, it does set the characters up as a believable family which serves the movie well during those tense scenes later.

Now the film is not perfect by any means. There are aspects which have no real explanation. The son, for example has a watch with which he monitors his heartbeat but no reason is given for this and it seems as though it’s only there to serve as a prop for something which happens later during the scene. I get the feeling that the movie is trying to say something about society as well. The man who is attacked is homeless and wears dogtags around his neck, something which I thought would be addressed, like a kind of “Oh, isn’t it ironic that this veteran is being hunted after fighting to preserve the freedom these people enjoy” kind of thing, but it never is. The people hunting him are privileged kids just looking for a thrill and hoping to purge, an act which they see as their right as American citizens. So the message of the movie is something about the rich using the poor as an expendable resource and whilst the film certainly hammers at this message, pretty much saying that outright at points, it’s never one which really feels as hard-hitting as I’m sure the film makers intended.

Another problem with the film is that it’s overly predictable. Without wanting to give too much away, as soon as certain characters reappear during towards the end of the film, you know exactly what direction it’s going to go in. Still, to the film makers ‘credit, the ending plays out well and with a good deal of humour, particularly regarding just how awkward things would be once the night is over.

Still, over all this a strong thriller with a somewhat original concept and even in a crowded theatre filled with loud, noisy teens, the tension came through the screen. God, I feel old having just typed that last sentence… Anyway, I really recommend this film, though perhaps give it a little while or try and see it in a cinema which you know will be a little closer to empty. Three pints out of five. Laterz.

The Purge.



Review: The Great Gatsby by Jamie

Warning: This review may feature spoilers for a book that was first published in 1925 and that you can easily read in an afternoon…

In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.

“Whenever you feel like criticizing any film,” he told me, “just remember that all the movies in this world haven’t had the advantages that Jaws had.”

In consequence, I’m inclined to reserve all judgments, a habit that has led to the discovery of many curious hidden gems and also made me the victim of not a few films that were best left not viewed by the eyes of anyone.

And, after boasting this way of my tolerance, I come to the admission that it has a limit… I’m sorry, I’ll stop now. The point is that I saw ‘The Great Gatsby’ after reading/listening to the book and watching all four of Baz’s previous films. At the end of all this preparation I came to two conclusions. The first was that I really liked F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 book which is beautifully written and a mesmerizing account of regret, the decay of the American dream and unfulfilled hope and a stunning portrayal of decadently rich youths during the 1920s in America. The second was that for the most part I really like Baz Luhrmann films. There are quibbles here and there and none of them are making it into my top ten but for the most part all four films are entertaining in one way or another. So it was with somewhat raised expectations that I went into the Great Gatsby.

I shall spare you the normal lengthy synopsis because, as I believe I may have mentioned earlier, The Great Gatsby is based on a novel from 1925 which can easily be read in the course of an afternoon. Now the important things. Is it any good? Well, yes and no. As a film it’s certainly the kind of entertaining thing you’d expect from Baz Luhrmann. It’s bright, it’s brash, it’s glitzy and it’s glamorous. It’s a visual feast that’s at times reminiscent of ‘Moulin Rouge’. As an adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s book, however, it’s woefully inadequate. Sure, the major beats of the story are there but that’s all it feels like Luhrmann’s doing, making sure he hit’s the very basic beats of the story without any of the substance. It’s as though he brought in an exorcist that removed the soul from the story.

At it’s very worst, the framework of the novel feels like it’s being used as a means for Luhrmann to get from one elaborate, raucous set-piece to the next. At it’s best you’ll walk away from the film knowing what the story is without really knowing what it’s about.

In the novel, F. Scott Fitzgerald manages to make you feel something for the characters be it revulsion, sympathy or at times a strange mixture of the two which I have dubbed revulpathy. In the film I end up feeling very little for anyone, not that it’s any of the actors fault in particular. They’re all perfectly serviceable with the exception of Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway, Elizabeth Debicki as Jordan Baker and Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby. To me, Maguire almost seems like he’s just playing his Peter Parker but in 1920s era costume. Somewhere along the line, Maguire seems to have been the go to guy for wide-eyed naivety but to me he always just seems to come of more as something of a gormless buffoon.

DiCaprio, on the other hand, is on the other end of the scale. He does more than a serviceable job. He’s the one bright star in the film in that his portrayal of Gatsby is pretty damn great. Out of the whole thing, his was the character I came closest to caring about though still the nature of the movie left me just short of that.

As for Debicki, well, she’s actually fine it’s just that the character of Jordan seems to be almost completely cut from the story after Gatsby’s first party and any further relationship between her and Nick is barely even hinted at.

The same goes for other characters who have vital scenes in the book such as the Owl-Eyes and Meyer Wolfsheim, both of whom I would argue are vital to the books ending, who are here little more than cameos early on in the movie. Then there’s the case of Henry C. Gatz who is cut altogether. The fact that Luhrmann seems to pay far more attention to the beginning of the book rather than it’s conclusion just seems to add more weight to the accusation that the director cares far more about putting scenes of big, glitzy 1920s era parties, most of which occur in the first half of the book, on film than he does the actual story he’s supposedly adapting.

Then there’s the music. Oh boy. You see, these big, glitzy 1920s era parties all feature music which blends jazz of the time with modern hip-hop and other modern music styles. I can understand what they were going for. I get that you wanted to get across the point that hip-hop today is like jazz was in the 20s. And I liked the use of modern music in Moulin Rouge. It fit there because the 1900s of that film is portrayed as some kind of insane, cartoonish reality, it shows the characters as being really ahead of their time and it just works. This, however, is supposedly an adaptation of The Great Gatsby. It’s jarring. Really jarring and it completely took me out of the film every time. Don’t get me wrong either. For the most part, I really liked the music. It just doesn’t fit.

And so we come to the end the review and what’s left to say? Well, like I said, as a film it’ll keep you entertained and it’s pretty much everything you’ve come to expect from Baz Luhrmann but as an adaptation of such a wonderful book, it’s a miserable failure. There was nothing stopping Luhrmann from making an original film set in the 20s with an anachronistic soundtrack. Hell, he could have made it a spiritual sequel to Moulin Rouge and everyone probably would have been perfectly happy with it. Instead it feels like he wanted to make a film set in the 20s but didn’t want to go to the work of developing a story for it so he took The Great Gatsby and filmed the visually stunning party scenes he’d been dreaming of. Then he realised that shit, he’d probably better try and actually adapt the actual story too and he did so, paying lip service to it and stripping away anything that made said story special in the first place.

As far as I can tell none of the various attempts at adapting the book into a film have been particularly successful with F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald themselves famously walking out of the 1926 effort. Maybe a good adaptation will come some day. Maybe not. It eluded us this time, but that’s no matter — tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…. And one fine morning —
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

Two pints out of five. Laterz.

It's The Great Gatsby, Old Sport!



2012 Best Picture Round Up: Argo (Repost) by Jamie

It’s Oscar time again and the nominees have been announced so it’s time to review the ones I’m able to. Luckily, I already had one in the bag from last year. So here it is again, my review of Argo. Enjoy.

I’ve really been getting in to films based on historical events lately. I’ve watched a ton of them in the past couple of months alone including Ben Affleck’s “Gone Baby Gone”‘ which I enjoyed immensely. So I was pretty excited about the release of Affleck’s new film, “Argo”. Hell, throw in the fact that this also happens to be an historical event that has something to do with the film industry as well and it almost seems as though this damn film was made specifically to tickle my balls. Yes, it had everything that I could have asked for. So did I love it unapologetically like the movie/history geek that I am? Let’s find out.

The movie takes place during the Iran hostage crisis that stretched from late 1979 to early 1981 and deals with one specific event in particular, the so-called Canadian Caper because apparently missions where people risk their lives must have adorable nicknames. On the 4th of November, Iranian students took control of American embassy and took the staff hostage in order to protest the Americans given shelter to the former Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi ad have him returned to Iran to stand trial for crimes committed during his rule. Six hostages managed to escape and took shelter at the Canadian embassy and a plan was drawn up by the CIA and the Canadian government to try and get them safely out of the country. Tony Méndez, a disguise an exfiltration expert, came up with a plot to extract them. He employed the aid of John Chamber, a Hollywood make-up artist, to create a fake film production office. The cover story was that the six trapped in Iran were actually Canadians working on a film and they were in the country scouting for locations for a Star Wars-esque Sci-fi fantasy film, Argo.

And that’s about all I’m going to describer of the movie plot/actual events because to say much more would give away the plot. So, back to the original question: Did I love this film? Well, I cewrtainly enjoyed it but I did find it to be a bit slow going at points, particularly the moments where the trapped Americans are literally waiting around trying to get rescued. I suppose that this reflects the monotony of actually being trapped in a building for days on end and so in that regard I suppose it’s quite effective. Overall, however, this film was fucking awesome. Every time Ben Affleck directs something I’m always surprised by just how good he is. The pacing during some of the more intense sequences is impeccable. I was quite literally on the edge of my seat during some moments, so tense were some of the events that were playing out on screen.

There’s also a nice counterbalance to that intensity with quite a nice deal of humour provided by John Goodman as John Chambers and Alan Arkin as producer Lester Siegel. Not only are they great comic relief during some of the earlier scenes where they are trying to drum up publicity for a film that they know will be never filmed but that same humour actually comes to just rack things up later during one of the most tense scenes during the entire film.

If I have any complaint it’s that one I made earlier about some of the scenes just slowing things down a bit too much but really that’s a minor issue and about the only one I can really think of. I suppose it could be argued that the portrayal of Iranians is a bit one note, though I feel it delves deep enough into the politics behind their outrage that, whilst not outright justifying their actions, it certainly helps to explain them. So with all said and done, I’ll give Argo four and a half pints out of five. Now Argo fuck yourself and see it. Laterz.



Murder Week: Bernie by Jamie

I don’t know what it says about our culture that the first to movies I’m reviewing for Murder Week are comedies. Also not sure what the hell it says about me. Still, up on the docket today is another little known comedy which reunites “School of Rock” director Richard Linklater and star Jack Black by the name of “Bernie”. Now, there’s one thing that really kind stands out about this movie and that’s that it’s a comedy based on a real murder. And not a real life murder that happened two centuries ago as is the case with John Landis’ “Burke and Hare”. No, this was an actual murder that happened in 1996. Stranger still, the film contains testimonials featuring people from the town where the murder happened. So, yeah, I think it’s fair to say I’ve never really seen anything quite like this before. Now, there are spoilers ahead but it’s not really the kind of film that can be spoiled. The characters and how they react to the plot are far more important than the plot itself.

Bernie (Black) is the assistant funeral director in the small town of Carthage, Texas. His good and exceedingly giving nature has made him the most beloved member of the community, particularly the fact that he goes out of his way to ensure the well-being of the relatives of the departed. Due to this, he soon becomes the only friend of the recently widowed Marjorie Nugent (Shirley MacLaine), someone who is pretty much reviled in Carthage. It isn’t long until Nugent is abusing Bernie’s insanely kind nature and soon the poor man’s seemingly infinite patience begins to run thin. In a fit of blind rage, Bernie picks up a gun and shoots Nugent four times in the back. He finds he can keep the crime hidden for some time because of Nugent’s unpopularity in town. He finds that few people ask questions about her and those that do quickly take his word for it. He also begins to use Nugent’s money to help out people in town and using pretty much none of it for himself.

Unfortunately for Bernie, there’s one person who isn’t satisfied with Bernie’s answers and that’s Nugent’s Stock Broker. He brings in the District Attorney, Danny Buck Davidson (Matthew McConaughey) who quickly uncovers Bernie crime. Davidson suddenly finds himself in a bit of a bind. He quickly discovers that, even though Bernie is clearly guilty and has confessed to the crime, none of the townsfolk will convict him if they are on the jury. In an unprecedented move, Davidson requested that the trial be moved to San Augustine, not because he felt that Bernie would be convicted unfairly but because it seemed as though conviction would be completely impossible for a conviction at all in Carthage.

So that’s pretty much the plot of the film, though I’ll leave the result of the trial out so there’s something there for you to find out for yourself. I’ve got to say, I was pleasantly surprised by this film. Jack Black is playing a very different character from what he usually does and it’s a pleasant change indeed. He manages to pull off the loveable murderer brilliantly and for the most part, he plays it fairly straight with most of the humour from his character basically coming from just how unbelievably nice he is. Also worthy of note are MConaughey and MacLaine who are both excellent, particularly McConaughey as he becomes more and more frustrated with a town who has pretty much decided that they don’t care if Bernie has murdered someone.

The real star of this film and the main source of its humour, however, is the town of Carthage. The testimonials from the townspeople are just fantastic and the fact that Linklater decided to include them is truly a stroke of genius. It’s the gossip nature of this film that really sells it and the thing that really kept me watching what would otherwise be a serviceable if somewhat played out true crime film. You just cannot help but fall in love with these people as they express their love for Bernie. In particular there’s an older women who keeps on insulting Nugent whilst another woman just sits next to her laughing. It’s great.

So yeah, I would definitely recommend Bernie if you want to see a comedy about a true life murder. I’d recommend it if you want to see Jack Black do something different. And I’d definetly recommend it if you want to see something that you’ve probably never seen before. Four pints out of five. Laterz.



Review: Argo by Jamie

I’ve really been getting in to films based on historical events lately. I’ve watched a ton of them in the past couple of months alone including Ben Affleck’s “Gone Baby Gone”‘ which I enjoyed immensely. So I was pretty excited about the release of Affleck’s new film, “Argo”. Hell, throw in the fact that this also happens to be an historical event that has something to do with the film industry as well and it almost seems as though this damn film was made specifically to tickle my balls. Yes, it had everything that I could have asked for. So did I love it unapologetically like the movie/history geek that I am? Let’s find out.

The movie takes place during the Iran hostage crisis that stretched from late 1979 to early 1981 and deals with one specific event in particular, the so-called Canadian Caper because apparently missions where people risk their lives must have adorable nicknames. On the 4th of November, Iranian students took control of American embassy and took the staff hostage in order to protest the Americans given shelter to the former Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi ad have him returned to Iran to stand trial for crimes committed during his rule. Six hostages managed to escape and took shelter at the Canadian embassy and a plan was drawn up by the CIA and the Canadian government to try and get them safely out of the country. Tony Méndez, a disguise an exfiltration expert, came up with a plot to extract them. He employed the aid of John Chamber, a Hollywood make-up artist, to create a fake film production office. The cover story was that the six trapped in Iran were actually Canadians working on a film and they were in the country scouting for locations for a Star Wars-esque Sci-fi fantasy film, Argo.

And that’s about all I’m going to describer of the movie plot/actual events because to say much more would give away the plot. So, back to the original question: Did I love this film? Well, I cewrtainly enjoyed it but I did find it to be a bit slow going at points, particularly the moments where the trapped Americans are literally waiting around trying to get rescued. I suppose that this reflects the monotony of actually being trapped in a building for days on end and so in that regard I suppose it’s quite effective. Overall, however, this film was fucking awesome. Every time Ben Affleck directs something I’m always surprised by just how good he is. The pacing during some of the more intense sequences is impeccable. I was quite literally on the edge of my seat during some moments, so tense were some of the events that were playing out on screen.

There’s also a nice counterbalance to that intensity with quite a nice deal of humour provided by John Goodman as John Chambers and Alan Arkin as producer Lester Siegel. Not only are they great comic relief during some of the earlier scenes where they are trying to drum up publicity for a film that they know will be never filmed but that same humour actually comes to just rack things up later during one of the most tense scenes during the entire film.

If I have any complaint it’s that one I made earlier about some of the scenes just slowing things down a bit too much but really that’s a minor issue and about the only one I can really think of. I suppose it could be argued that the portrayal of Iranians is a bit one note, though I feel it delves deep enough into the politics behind their outrage that, whilst not outright justifying their actions, it certainly helps to explain them. So with all said and done, I’ll give Argo four and a half pints out of five. Now Argo fuck yourself and see it. Laterz.




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