American Hustle does not fuck about setting out its stall. Its first glorious image is of a pudgy Christian Bale in a bathroom mirror, his face sheltering beneath a jacked-up haystack of atrocious seventies hair, methodically and painstakingly attempting to sculpt his ludicrous combover into a presentable form. It's immediately hilarious and tragic, and tells us that what we're about to watch is concerned with appearances, deceit, aspiration, unfathomable fashion choices and hair. Lots of hair.
As obvious an awards tilt as Disney knows Saving Mr Banks to be, it seems more of a mid-budget passion project. How better to venerate its beloved founder than have cuddly ol' Tom Hanks play him? But transparent self-promotion aside - this is Disney, after all - what's really interesting is how it plays out as white-washing advocacy for the process of Hollywoodizing a popular product, using emotion rather than reason to sweep you along and make you root for the studio. And the fact that the film is itself a Hollywoodization of true events.
Posted by Ali Gray
at 23:00 on 24 Nov 2013
Those awful people that weren't born until the nineties, or God forbid, the 'noughties' - what must they make of a man like Robert De Niro? Because even though you can buy his DVDs at your local newsagent and go online to download literally any movie he ever made in seconds flat, surely it's only fair to judge an actor on his recent output: say, from the last 20 years. De Niro has earned his right to be less choosy, obviously, and I'm not about to shit on the likes of Raging Bull, Goodfellas and The Deer Hunter, but The Family isn't so much indicative of a career slump as it is the kind of painfully average movie that makes you realise he's completely stopped caring.
As the trial of Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson rumbles on at the Old Bailey, not even the halls of Shiznit Towers are free from corruption or the grim face of malign editorial influence. "Please don't give it more than three stars," I was instructed by the editor of this organ, Mr Alistair Gray, in response to my email expressing how much I'd enjoyed Vendetta. "Or I'll have to close the website." But I refuse to be silenced. Vendetta is a four-star film, and I hereby stake my journalistic reputation on it. That's how you spell 'journalistic', right?
So now we arrive at the second film of the latest mega-successful young-adult-novel-turned-movie-franchise and this is where things can get tricky. It's easy enough to come up with an initial concept - boy goes to wizard school, girl falls in love with vampire, etc - but following it up with the beginnings of an epic saga? Much harder to do. Thankfully though, this sequel manages to accomplish just that, successfully furthering the story and delving deeper into the politics and ethical quandaries laid out by its predecessor. All this despite being - for the most part - basically the same film.
The assassination of John F. Kennedy on November 22nd 1963 is still a source of huge debate. As the 50th anniversary approaches, investigative journalist-turned director Peter Landesman cares not for conspiracy theories, second gunmen, magic bullets, grassy knolls or book depositories. Instead, he's just happy to brag about how much more he knows about JFK than we do.
'Exciting on paper' is a bit of an oxymoron. Nothing's exciting on paper. Books aren't exciting, unless you throw them at passing cars to make them crash. Cormac McCarthy is a man who writes these so-called 'books', and he's said to be very good at it. And so The Counsellor, his first original screenplay, with a first-rate director and cast, is tremendously exciting on paper. Trouble is, paper and film are very different things.
Posted by Ali Gray
at 07:00 on 24 Oct 2013
"How is space?"
"Space is fine."
Isn't it nice that superhero movies don't feel the need to take themselves seriously any more? Even Thor, the superhero with the most potential to be a massive space ponce, is – for want of a better word – smashing it. The Dark Knight trilogy was brooding and brilliant, no one is disputing that, but now that Batman has been put to bed, it feels like the real fun can begin. Marvel are on a hot-streak (if you ignore Iron Man 2, Incredible Hulk and shut up) and their Thor sequel sees that string of hits continue; The Dark World arrives in the same vein as Avengers Assemble
and Iron Man 3
i.e. laden with lots of fun, lots of laughs and so much charisma that even the minor characters matter. Who'd have thought a throwaway interaction between Thor and Kat Dennings' comic relief Darcy would end up being the funniest exchange of the movie?
Deep within a heavily armed camp in South America, a group of sober-living hippies under the influence of a safari-shirted old man known only as The Father, have relocated to begin a new life away from the evils of modern society – mediocre broadband speeds, ill-matching Tupperware lids, Starbucks constantly spelling their names wrong - that sort of shit.
Within the congregation of hemp-oil smelling beatniks is Caroline, the sister of Vice magazine journalist Patrick. Seeking to rescue his sister from the cult, Patrick travels to the remote commune with fellow Vice journalist Sam (AJ Bowen, the bearded guy from You're Next) and cameraman Jake (Joe Swanberg, also from You're Next) who intend to document the family reunion, expose this bizarre gathering and interview the charismatic leader. As you can imagine, things get much shitter from there.
Posted by Ali Gray
at 16:00 on 21 Oct 2013
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is impossible to dislike. The bastard. Attractive, talented, creative, industrious and brilliant at karaoke
, he's the kind of self-made leading man who you actively will towards success – as opposed to all the no-talent shit-for-brain himbos for hire who I actively will towards homelessness. Gordon-Levitt's directorial debut Don Jon is certainly an accomplished and confident first film, but I can't help but think a lot of the praise it's receiving is directed at its star and not its screenplay – subtract all the personal goodwill that Gordon-Levitt has banked over the years and Don Jon remains a good film, just perhaps not a great one.