Archive for October 2010

Top 5 Disappointing Films by Sam

October 27, 2010

How disappointing are disappointing films. Yes, I know that seems like a fairly obvious observation, but nonetheless, have a think about, and it is very true (despite its blatancy). When you ponder the thought, a film that is disappointing obviously had you excited prior to watching the film for it to be disappointing – does that make sense? So therefore, not only is it annoying to watch a movie that isn’t good, but when you expect it to be good and it isn’t, then it’s even worse – disappointing some might say.

 

You’re right, enough complication, and more list making.

 

Onwards!

 

 

5. Public Enemies (2009)

 

I was somewhat nervous about this film when I heard Mann had indeed decided to film it in the HD format rather than traditional 35mm film, as I think only very few films are suitable for this look, and a 1933 Crime Drama film definitely does not suit the look. I was right, and I found the way it was filmed really detracted and distracted from the overall film.

 

Not only that, but the story was a little bit choppy, with prominent characters being killed off by word of mouth and rather offhandedly, as if the writer or director didn’t care too much for keeping the audience in on what was happening.

 

Whilst it wasn’t a bad film per se, and featured a brilliant ensemble cast, particularly with Depp in the lead role, who was outstanding as usual, I just think it could have been a whole lot better, and in the end for me, it was quite disappointing.

 

4. Year One (2009)

 

I saw a clip from this film quite early on before its release. It featured Jack Black and Michael Cera watching a fight between Adam Cross and Paul Rudd who were playing Cain and Abel respectively. I found it to be hilarious and instantly was anticipating the release of the film.

 

When the film was released some time later, my interest has somewhat waned, and I never actually got to seeing the film at the cinema.

 

It was only when I received the DVD of Year One for Christmas that I was able to watch the film. The only scene that I remember laughing at was the one I had seen previously, and by then (as you can imagine) it wasn’t as funny as when I had first watched it. There may have been some slight chuckles elsewhere, but the were awkward chuckles at best.

 

I must inform you that I had to turn the movie off about 3 quarters of the way through, to which the group watching it with me happily agreed, as we could not bear anymore.

 

It was tough watching what I thought was going to be one of the great comedies of 2009, become one of the few movies I have turned off before it has finished.

 

3. 10, 000 B.C. (2006)

With Roland Emmerich at the helm, the director of such films as Independence Day, The Patriot and The Day After Tomorrow, and being on the trail of Mel Gibson’s film, Apocalypto, a great film in my opinion, I thought 10,000 B.C. had something massive going for itself. I was wrong.

 

The acting was horrible, the script was poor, and it seemed like the only decent element were the Visuals. Very disappointing.

 

2. Miami Vice (2006)


Another Michael Mann film. Mann has made some strange decisions in his career, with one of them choosing to direct Miami Vice. Again, with a budget of roughly $135 million, a cast including Colin Farrell and Jamie Fox, and with a director such as Michael Mann, this film had great potential. It turned out to be one of the most boring, inconsistent films I have seen in a long time.

 

1. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)


I know this is the second list this movie has appeared in, but I can’t leave it out of this one, because it simply was such a disappointing film. It had all the potential that the first one produced, the same director, same cast and a massive budget, yet it failed miserably.

 

 

I’d love to hear of some of the most disappointing films you’ve seen, let me know in the comment box below!

 

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Top 15 Male Performances on Screen by Sam

October 11, 2010

I must say, this has been one of the more tougher lists to compile as there are so many outstanding male performances – of which, even with the research I conducted to shift my memory back through the films I’ve watched over my “not so long” lifespan, there will be many I will have forgotten.

Please bear in mind I have not seen every movie created (so far), and so therefore there may be some people missing from this list that perhaps enrages you at the fact they are not there, and this is simply because I haven’t seen that particular performance.

Additionally, I would like to say that I have combined a few movies (under the same performer), as I cannot set the two apart, and would struggle not to include them in the list.

Enough jibber jabber, let’s get rolling.

 

 

15. Don Cheadle – Hotel Rwanda (2004)

 

Whilst I was aware he was a ‘good’ actor, Don Cheadle really showed that he is great actor with his role in Hotel Rwanda. The emotion that he brought to the plate was incredible.

 

 

14. Brad Pitt – Fight Club (1999)

I am a big fan of Brad Pitt, and I would not have said the same thing 2 or 3 years ago. I have watched a lot of his movies of late, and have really appreciated the great acting skills this guy has. Fight Club is a great performance, and he sold his character amazingly.

 

 

13. Ryan Gosling – Lars and the Real Girl (2007)

 

It was only on the off chance that I was able to see this movie, and Gosling delivers a stellar performance as the socially awkward ‘Lars.’ He nailed the emotional aspects of the character and brought all his mannerisms to life.

 

 

12. Johnny Depp – The Pirates of the Caribbean (2004)


Johnny Depp is a lot of people’s favourite actors, and it’s because of the way he transforms what we know Mr. Depp’s personality to be like, into these crazy, completely different characters. Depp delivered probably his best character to date as Captain Jack Sparrow in The Pirates of the Caribbean series.

 

 

11. Kevin Spacey – The Usual Suspects (1995)

The late 90’s was a brilliant time to see Kevin Spacey at work. Spacey’s work in The Usual Suspects was masterful, and he portrayed the handicapped character of Roger ‘Verbal’ Kint very convincingly.

 

 

10. Anthony Hopkins – The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Sir Anthony Hopkins total amount of screen time in The Silence of the Lambs amounts to roughly 16 minutes, give or take, which therefore makes his performance the shortest amount of screen time to win a Best Actor Oscar at the Academy Awards. Need I say more?

 

 

9. Mathieu Amalric – The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007)

This is a beautiful film about a man, who has what is referred to as “locked in syndrome,” which is complete paralysation, yet the brain is fully functioning. Mathieu Amalric doesn’t say much for the most part of this film, but nonetheless, he delivers a great performance.

 

 

8. Adrien Brody – The Pianist (2002)

Brody delivers a very realistic and frightening portrayal of a Jewish man during World War II. Adrian Brody really made a name for himself in this movie, and proved this by beating 4 other Oscar winners to the Best Actor prize at the 2003 Academy Awards. Not only that, but Brody is the youngest winner of the Oscar too.

 

 

7. Edward Norton – Primal Fear (1997)

Edward Norton is a fine actor, and debuted his film career with this film, and as a result of such a convincing portrayal of Aaron Stampler, a young choirboy convicted of murder, his career sky rocketed, and rightly so.

 

 

6. Leonardo DiCaprio – The Aviator (2004)/Blood Diamond (2006)

 

Leonardo DiCaprio is without a doubt one of my favourite actors, as I am convinced he cannot give a bad performance. I couldn’t decide which of his performances were better or more convincing, as both were outstanding, so I put them both in. Give this man an Oscar already.

 

 

5. Michael Clarke Duncan – The Green Mile (1999)

Michael Clarke Duncan gave one of the most emotionally driven performances I’ve seen in my life in his portrayal as a convicted death row inmate, John Coffey. His performance garnered him an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor, but in my opinion he should have won.

 

 

4. Forest Whitaker – The Last King of Scotland (2006)

I hired The Last King of Scotland on a night that I was bored, and didn’t expect to see a brilliant performance given by the, then relatively unknown to me, Forest Whitaker. He was amazingly convincing as the corrupt dictator, Idi Amin, and deserved his Oscar for Best Actor.

 

 

3. Tom Hanks – Philadelphia (1993)/Forrest Gump (1994)

Tom Hanks had an awesome decade and a bit with his film career, starting with Big in 1989 through to his performance in Cast Away in 2000, Hanks garnered 5 Oscar nominations, winning two for his performances in Philidelphia and Forrest Gump. Again, both of these were so great that I had to include them both. Hanks’ performance as a man suffering with AIDS is extremely realistic, and his performance as Forrest Gump, an ordinary man in extraordinary circumstances is brilliant, and proves Hanks is one of the greatest actors of our time.

 

 

2. Denzel Washington – Glory (1989)

Hanks’ supporting performer in Philidelphia is Denzel Washington, another one of my favourite actors. Every performance of his is extremely convincing, and I was forced to pick one out of the many I have seen, and just recently I was able to watch the Civil War film, Glory. A magnificent film, and Denzel’s performance is mind blowing. He earned an Oscar win for his performance, and rightly so.

 

 

1. Heath Ledger – The Dark Knight (2008)

I can honestly say that I was blown away at the performance Heath Ledger gave as one of Batman’s greatest villains, The Joker. Heath Ledger was no longer Heath Ledger when he stepped into the shoes of The Joker, and at no point was I aware that this was someone “acting” the part of The Joker, it just was The Joker – a rare achievement. It was a big loss to the acting world when Heath died months before The Dark Knights release, as you could tell he was only just beginning what could have been a series of spectacular performances. In his short, but substantial acting career, Heath became a legend of the screen.

 

So let me know your thoughts, where you disagree, where you agree. I love hearing them.

Over to you.

 

 

Wall Street Money Never Sleeps Review by Dave

October 11, 2010

The Wall Street film phenomenon is twisted. Both the 1987 original and now the 2010 sequel ‘Money Never Sleeps‘ hold out two hands. In the first there is a world of high finance, corporate raiding and the aspirational materialism and glamour that is held out as a consequence. In the other, a very solemn and tangible sense of emptiness- the kind that naturally follows from the accumulation of the aforementioned excess. Understandably, to offer the film as a cautionary tale- which I believe is intended- both sides of the contentment-equation need to be held side by side. But does this aspirational lifestyle need to be ‘sold’ to such an extreme? I guess we’re dealing with Gordon Gekko- an iconic beacon of risk and punctuated extravagance- so there was not going to be anything half-hearted.

 

Gekko & Jake

Gekko & Jake discuss Winnie

 

Timing of the releases

Upon some brief research there was something rather peculiar about the release dates of the two films. The original was released in late 1987, only months after the stock market crash- which, at the time was the largest single daily fall since 1929. Seems like a good time to release a film about Wall Street, right? Yes and no. Sure, the economic climate was well in need of a cautionary tale about the perils of greed and blind ambition. Yet, when devastation occurs, it does not seem especially engrossing to want to revisit the ‘wreckage’ as such; let alone pay money to visit the cinema to watch it on the big screen. This explains why, critically Wall Street (the original) performed very well, but box-office-wise, it was not an overwhelming big hit. Having said this, it did not perform poorly.

‘Money Never Sleeps’ was very much in the same category: being post Global Financial Crisis. Again, and particularly in the US, who would want to re-observe the wreckage that occurred when countless individuals lost houses and investments as a result of the corporate greed that is captured in the film? It makes me wonder about the motives behind the production. Granted, the notion of ‘striking while the iron is hot’ may apply to some things- but maybe not so much when it comes to global financial crisis. It’s not exactly the most natural thing to celebrate and tell your friends about. The chances of a resulting viral-word-of-mouth situation occurring, in such cases like Avatar and Inception was very unlikely.

5 things I liked

1. Michael Douglas

There is absolutely no denying the brilliance of the man. The timing of his delivery, his piercing eyes, and his general poignant presence were perfect. He has an uncanny means of delivering lines that would otherwise come across as cliché, yet the words emerge with such depth and philosophical intensity. It’s a rare and amazing skill. There is a scene where Douglas as “Gordon Gekko” delivers a speech after leaving jail. After discussing the current climate of finance, he offers three words of warning and advice (SPOILER ALERT): “…. (as the audience wait is eager anticipation)…. Buy… My… Book….”. The audience busts out in laughter and applause. Only Douglas could pull this off.

2. A Few of Shia LaBoeuf’s scenes

I was naturally a little worried about LaBeouf and his ability to fit into this iconic genre. However, as it turns out, he has a great deal of intensity of his own. Whilst there were a few ‘relational’ scenes that i thought were a little ‘bleh’- a technical word meaning ‘lackluster’ for those uninformed. One scene I really liked was when Jake (LaBeouf) was attempting to gain a moral positioning of the tycoon Bretton James (Josh Brolin). SPOLIER ALERT. Jake asks: “So what’s your number?” Asking ‘how much money would you need to just walk away from the world of corporate finance?’. Bretton hesitates before answering: “…More.” The scene was performed well.

3. Boardroom scenes

There were a number of epic scenes where all the big finance players sat around a hug dark-stained wooden boardroom alongside US treasury to brainstorm solutions to the financial situations that they were facing. The lighting was dim. The colours were deep and rich. The characters were multiple and very interesting. These scenes displayed well the very intensity of these behind-the-scenes deals whilst picking up on the very human element of big business. These scenes were great in exhibiting the frailty of the human condition.

4. The Outside Cinematography

Being a film about Wall Street, there was a great deal of opportunity to capture the beauty of the urban architecture and high-rise landscape in New York. There was numerous scenes of sweeping (and extended) helicopter shots, beautifully displaying the glassy, tinted high-rise structures that are truly ‘Wall Street’. It’s rare for such an opportunity to exist to really focus in on this aesthetic. Of course, it’s so fitting as the attractive and glossy exterior is often no more than a front covering the true ‘moral hazard’ that exists underneath. Yet, with this below-the-surface discussion aside, the camera work on the urban landscape in New York city was superb!

5. The Circumstances surrounding the Production & Promotion

In August this year Michael Douglas appeared on David Letterman and announced that he had stage 4 throat cancer. The timing could not have been worse considering his final production and (later) promotion schedule. Yet amidst this terrible news, Douglas seemed buoyant and determined. It was incredible to have such as public figure openly discuss their potentially terminal condition, along with fears, and still continue as normal. It is unknown when he received this diagnosis exactly, but there are a few scenes in Money Never Sleeps when Gekko considers the value of time. He actually makes a reference to ‘cancer’.

Undoubtedly, the film will stand for much more than a sequel and a cautionary tale. In my mind, the film is all about character. Douglas takes the cake.

I give the film 4 out of 5 reels.

4 Film Reels

Buried Film Review by Sam

October 10, 2010

Here at FilmStank, we pride ourselves on keeping our blogs and reviews as spoiler free as we can. When writing a review for Rodrigo Corés’ film, Buried, the task becomes a little difficult without ruining the entire movie for you, the reader. So, be aware that in the following review I will appear to be skimming the edges, and not really delving into the thick of it, and that’s just simply because – I am, in fact doing that. It is for your own benefit.

 

Let’s see how we go.

Okay, so the film was made on a small budget (in Hollywood standard’s at least) of about 2-3 million dollars, and this becomes quite apparent. In fact, my guess is that they spent most of the budget getting a big name such as Ryan Reynolds, and then used the rest for whatever else they could get their hands on. It payed off, getting Ryan Reynolds, who delivers arguably the most standout performance of his career yet, and really thrusts himself into the character of Paul Conroy, a truck driver who has been buried alive.

The way that this film was made, using one on-screen actor, one location and one set really helped sell the story that the film centred around. All these elements gave that “realistic” tone that a film with a similar story using more elements would struggle to achieve.

 

At times I found myself breathing heavily, trying to preserve my breath as Reynolds’ character did the same. I felt somewhat enclosed and got a great sense of that claustrophobic atmosphere Cortés was obviously trying to achieve. The tone and the mood of the film were achieved through Cortés’ great use of cinematography and muffled sounds.

 

Finally, the soundtrack that so elegantly backed what was being displayed to the audience on screen was more than appropriate, employing the use of just simple strings that built the tension when necessary, and played nothing. The silence in this film was all-important. A well thought out score.

 

At this point, it is with great regret that I must stop. I have squeezed out as much writing as I possibly could without giving any crucial plot points away, and to write anything more could risk repetition.

 

A simplistic yet elegant film.

 

4 out of 5.

4 Film Reels