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50 films challenge

    Music and Movies

    50 Film Challenge #5-8

    January is always a busy month at the cinema as it seems to be when all the Oscar films are out in the UK.  It’s also why I ended up at the cinema eight time this month.  Here are the other bunch of reviews…

    5. Gangster Squad

    With a mob king virtually ruling the streets of LA in the 1940’s, a group of street-hardened cops are tasked with a clandestine operation to clean up the streets, but there’s one rule: no badges.

    This film could’ve been so much more than it was and yet some how that didn’t matter so much.  It was certainly watchable and nice to see Gosling and Stone reunite, but the plot was a bit gangster-lite.  The gloss of the film makes it difficult to take it seriously as the portrayal of the mob, but will hopefully encourage people to see out some grittier films. 3/5

    6. Les Miserables

    Set during the French revolution this epic based-on-a-play-based-on-a-book tells the tale of Jean Valjean, a man searching for redemption whilst being pursued by a ruthless policeman.  A rags-to-riches tale, when Valjean agrees to take care of a young girl his life changes forever.

    Presumably another example of translating from the stage straight to the screen this film attempts to employ the tricks of the theatre and in so misses some interesting plot details (particularly Valjean’s journey from outcast to respected and wealthy factory-owner).  Overly long and lacking in any real narrative plot this certainly has some emotional issues but they feel exploitative.  But Hugh Jackman’s performance is superb however. 3/5

    7.  Wreck It Ralph

    Video-game baddie Ralph is fed up of being the outcast in the game he has played for decades.  Taking matters into his own hands he escapes and goes game-hoping across the arcade in search of a way of being accepted.

    An entertaining film with cameos from retro computer game characters that are sure to keep the adults as interested as children, this is an adorable blend of humour and heart.  Ralph is a great character, labeled as the baddie he just wants to be accepted.  An utterly charming film (as is the short film shown before). 4/5 

    8. Zero Dark Thirty

    Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow turns her attention to the CIA’s decade long hunt for Osama Bin Laden.  CIA agent Maya arrives as the tides are changing, torture as a method of gaining information is on the way out as the agency is forced to resort to conventional tactics which are at times hampered by man power and vast amounts of data.

    Despite being a film where the ending is know, the film works much like a slow-burning thriller that builds to a cool but edging will-they-won’t-they.  At 2hrs 37mins this is another ‘bladder-buster’ of a film but each minute feels worthwhile.  Chastain is a great lead, although the hints of her background (recruited straight out of high-school and almost single-minded in her determination) could’ve been explored a little more.  Despite criticism the film gives a considered look at the use of torture in evidence gathering and a lack of jingoism makes this one film well worth seeing. 4.5/5

    Music and Movies

    50 films in 2013 challenge and first reviews

    I’m a big fan of the cinema, which is probably why I ended up there 38 times last year.  This sounds a lot, but with one of those Unlimited cards and a slight Batman obsession it didn’t feel like it.  In fact it felt like I should’ve gone more.  So in 2013 I’m aiming to…in fact I’m aiming to go 50 times this year.

    I’ve bought a notebook to record each of the visits, but I’m also going to blog very short reviews here, because if the internet knows I’ve challenged myself to go 50 times then I kinda have to do it.  Why 50?  Well it’s a nice round number for starters, but that’s one a week with a two week holiday (or a two week break for when the only thing showing is Furious Paranormal Extreme Sawing VII or whatever crap is on).  Oh and it totally counts if I see more than one film in one visit because cinema days are awesome, but I’m not sure whether seeing the same film does yet.  I guess there are still a few things to figure out.

    I’ve made some good progress…

    1. Rise of the Guardians

    The Immortal Guardians, including the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, Sandman and the Tooth Fairy, require the help of Jack Frost to defeat the evil spirit Pitch Black / Bogeyman who aims to infect the world’s children with fear.

    Despite being a film squarely aimed at kids this film was surprisingly enjoyable.  Hugh Jackman’s Easter Bunny with anger management issues and the yoda-like Sandman are particularly favourites as the team battle to save hope, belief, imagination and joy of children worldwide.  Leaving cynicism at the door this is fun-filled and sure there are some plot holes, but ultimately enjoyable. 4/5

    2. Playing for Keeps

    Gerrard Butler plays an ex-football superstar who has never really learnt to deal with life off the pitch.  As he arrives back in the hometown of his ex-wife and son he tries to bond with his son through coaching the local football team, where he also catches the eye of the local Soccer Moms.  But can he convince his ex-wife he still loves her before she marries someone else?

    Squared fairly in the romantic comedy genre this film was trying to be so much but ultimately failing.  Well known actors like Catherine Zeta-Jones, Uma Thurman and Dennis Quaid are criminally under-utilised in a film which just never really hits its mark.  Someone needed to go through this script with a red pen because it could’ve been a lot better.  Falls into the nothing-better-to-do afternoon on the telly viewing if you’re going to watch.  Shame really. 1.5/5

    3. Life of Pi

    Adapted from the best-selling novel by Yann Martel this is the story of a young man whose family set sail for the West in search of a better life, only for him to survive a shipwreck which sees him stranded on a lifeboat with a bengal tiger.

    Largely believed to be an unfilmable book, Ang Lee does a decent job of making this a watchable film, but ultimately I still think it’s one best left to the page.  The fantastical, magical realism of a man and a tiger adrift was beautiful but lacked much real sense of fear.  An enjoyable twist to the tale is lost in what is a juddering ending which doesn’t give the audience time to consider the alternatives.  Ultimately a visual display which is worth seeing if only for the tiger, but probably best to read the book. 3/5

    4. The Impossible

    Based on a true-life tale of one family’s fight to be reunited after the Boxing Day Tusnami in 2006.  Maria, Henry and their three sons are holidaying in Thailand when a wall of water destroys almost everything in its wake, splitting the family and leaving behind an incredible devastation.

    A brave story of a terrible natural disaster is let down by a terrible music placement.  The scene-setting calming waters are interrupted by a farcical Jaws-like theme and deeply emotional scenes are ruined with imposing, ill placed tunes.  Aside from that the film has great casting, particularly that of Tom Holland who plays Lucas, a character who steals the show.  The gratuitous shots of Naomi Watts is disappointing, as is the film’s treatment of the indigenous people who seem to exist only as help for the westerners, even in the aftermath when thousands lost their life.    An attempt at giving a more identifiable view to an overwhelming natural disaster which just fell short. 2.5/5