Discussion in 'Media Discussion' started by Professor Irony, Jun 15, 2016.
Did you say Hello to Jason Isaacs whilst you were there?
Really fascinating story on offer showing how salesman Ray Kroc met Mac and Dick McDonald who were running a burger operation in 1950s Southern California, he was impressed by their system they had in place and saw a potential franchise in the making. So he manouvered himself into a position to take the company from the brothers and create himself a million dollar empire. Michael Keaton delivers an entertaining performance with his character bordering that fine line between ambition and greed. I know some people were mad that Keaton's character wasn't potrayed in a more villanoius manner, but I think it's far more interesting giving him more balance as it allows you to think more about whether his actions and morals were right or wrong. It's not without it's flaws but I feel pretty well informed on subject matter I wasn't too familiar with, also I've had the urge to have a Hamburger for the first time in a few years, so I guess it's a success on that front!
For all the acclaim heaped upon the iconic, expressionist interpretation of Dracula, I honestly found it a bit ponderous. There are some truly striking individual images, and it's plain to see the massive influence this film has had on pretty much every subsequent adaptation of the story, but I found it lacking in tension for much of the running time - it only really came (briefly) to life during the final 20 minutes. Perhaps a better score would have helped (I think the version I saw is not the preferred one), but I missed the aggressive strangeness of Dr. Caligari and the epic grandeur of Murnau's later Faust.
Have you seen Sunrise? That's my favourite Murnau film. In fact, it's one of my top 10 films ever.
Haven't caught that one, but I'll be sure to check it out - I really enjoyed Faust.
Train to Busan
For all the faults of the genre, I am an absolute unabashed fan of Zombie films, and Train to Busan may be one of the best I've seen. What it gets right that so many of its ilk gets wrong is that the characters are actually likable. I know this sounds like a pretty basic and simple thing to mess up, yet so many zombie movies just do not do, with most characters just ending up as fodder for the zombies to tear apart in spectacularly gory ways. Here, they actually set up the characters right, introducing the audience to them before the zombie stuff actually starts, as well as the character dynamics and relationships. The big comparison in my mind is to Zack Snyder's 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead, as both had a couple in, where the woman was pregnant. In Dawn of the Dead, the couple barely even seem like a couple, they have nothing in terms of chemistry, and when they die, it might of well have not mattered. In Train to Busan, we see the couple talking before the outbreak, we see them lightly teasing each other and being playful, and they just seem like a real, genuine couple. It's amazing what difference this makes, because it actually means the scenes where the characters are in danger have tension, unlike most Zombie movies where you kinda root for the zombies just to see the next death sequence. Honestly, if you like Zombie movies at all, this is certainly one to check out. Although it's got great characters and a really emotional core, that doesn't mean it lets up on the gore or anything like that, and provides all the usual carnage you'd expect, with some really great makeup and effects work to boot.
Breaking Bad: The Movie
[The following post contains spoilers for Breaking Bad]
So, I was browsing through reddit this afternoon, as I am want to do, and I stumbled across a post that sounded ludicrous. Someone had taken the entire five seasons of Breaking Bad, which clock in at around 41 hours, and edited it into a 2 hour 7 minute movie. Well, I just had to watch it. Honestly, whilst it isn't terrible it's about as kneecapped as you would expect it to be. You do get all the major beats of Walt's story, but the pacing is horrifically rushed. If you've seen the show, the fact that Gus shows up in less than half an hour should be setting off all kinds of red flags. In fact, the first four and a half seasons are blasted through in about an hour and a quarter. The last hour or so, which is entirely focussed on season 5B fairs a lot better, but is still fairly rushed. In order to fit all five seasons into such a short amount of time, anything non-essential is gone. No Badger, no Skinny Pete, no Tuco, no Crazy 8, no Hector, no Ted, no Lydia, no Jane, no Andrea and Brock. Todd, Mike Marie, and, to a lesser extent, Saul, are essentially cameos with the amount of screen time and significance they have. A ton of the most memorable and iconic scenes are also cut, including "I am the one who knocks", "Say my name", "No half measures", the train heist, Walter blowing up that building to get his money back, disposing of the bodies from Season 1, the boxcutter scene, anything with the Fly, Gus' death, Mike's death, etc. Hell, the cutting of Andrea and Brock actually makes the events of Season 5 make little sense. Since anything to do with the Ricin is removed, the catalyst for Jesse turning on Walt and teaming up with Hank just isn't there, as there's nothing Walt has really done to earn such disdain. Jesse in general is the one who gets shafted the most in this edit, as practically any scene where Walt isn't present is cut, essentially ridding him of any kind of arc or development.
So yeah, whilst I really admire the effort, the amount you have to remove just makes it nowhere near as good as the series is, and shouldn't be used as a substitute. You get the main gist of it, but what makes the series so great is lost in the process. I won't link to the movie here, since fan edit's are pretty dubious in terms of legality, but you can find it on Vimeo easily enough if you're curious.
Author: The JT LeRoy Story (2016)
Recently broadcast on BBC Four's Storyville as The Great Literary Scandal: The JT LeRoy Story
Author is the incredibly interesting documentary telling the story of Laura Albert, who adapted the persona of incredibly disadvantaged youth Jeremy "Terminator" LeRoy to speak to a counsellor and upon being asked to repeat the persona. After a while Laura is asked to write by a councillor, leading her to write works of fiction as the persona, under the pretence of autobiography. JT leads a vastly different life to Laura, claiming to be the sexually abused transgender son of a truck stop prostitute, whilst she is several years older and a mother of one. The film mostly follows the the bizarre story of her after she transitions to writing outright works of fiction under his name. With this leading her family and friends to play this unique cast of characters backing JT up and even JT himself. Eventually, after being mentored by significant counter culture figures and becoming an overnight literary hit, she ends up mixing with, and occasionally confiding in, several notable celebrities, including Courtney Love and Bono.
Laura keeps extensive recordings of telephone calls and a lot of the documentary is devoted to playing back these recordings, with the cassettes in vision. This provides a fascinating inside view and combined with interview footage from her perspective helps us to see an outside view that you wouldn't normally have from just the media coverage. It's a long build up to the inevitable reveal, but for my money the film didn't devote enough time to that reveal.
Aside from a few cursory mentions, the film never dives into the effect of her lies. We never really hear of the potential impact of lies, or whether those that related to the book felt betrayed. Though the film is also quite limited in how it portrays the effect her writing had on the general public and those that related to it's themes of disadvantage and hardship.The film staunchly keeps things from her viewpoint, which helps us to sympathise with her, but prevents it from ever engaging in any kind of debate. This was particularly disappointing given the themes of the film are still hugely important. Should art be separated from the artist? Is all art created through a fictionalised persona? Does it matter if art is 'truthful', and can art ever be 'truthful'?
Ultimately, Author doesn't have the answers, and isn't really asking the questions. Definitely worth a watch, but maybe wait for it to appear streaming or see if it's repeated on Storyville at some point. 7/10.
Kong: Skull Island
Not a film I had much interest in, until Mark Kermode pitched it as "the Lost World by way of Apocalypse Now". After that, they had me at 'hello'.
The much debated anti-imperialist subtext doesn't amount to much more than a few jibes at the US sticking its nose where it shouldn't, but the juxtaposition of WWII imagery with that of the Vietnam war definitely gives the film a interesting period flavour to pair with its quirky visual style. It doesn't make the most of its many plot devices, and the characterisation seems skewed towards John C. Reilly's character at the expense of everyone else, but it's an entertaining romp, during which I was certainly never bored.
Watched My Brother the Devil earlier tonight. I'd watched about 15 minutes of it years ago but turned it off assuming it was just yet another stereotypical Bullet Boy esque 'road' uk gangster street drama. I was totally wrong though! Waaay better than I was expecting. A beautiful film.
The only thing I don't really get is the title.
The Equalizer (2014)
Denzel Washington is on fine form in what is an efficient, but grim revenge thriller that sadly lacks the kitsch spirit of the original '80s tv show. The improvised weaponry is amusing, but I think the attempt to sell Washington's character as a heroic do-gooder rather falls apart in the last act, where the film finally failed to keep me convinced that he wasn't equally as monstrous as the gangsters he dispatches.
Separate names with a comma.