A unique and intelligent political drama documenting the use of… MoreA unique and intelligent political drama documenting the use of advertising tricks in the 1988 NO to Pinochet campaign. The film is great on so many different levels. Firstly, it represents what Chile was like in the late 80's, the contrast and fear of the people and the realities of Pinochet's dictatorship. It also shows how certain people did live comfortably and how conformity was brutally upheld. It shows the power of advertising, ironic in a sense that as evil as we know capitalism can be, the same advertising techniques it uses did bring down a dictatorship. The idea of using the same propaganda Pinochet was using against him was a work of genius, even though it seems obvious in retrospect. The film highlights how this was successful in 88 but it also highlights the fact that those same tricks are now used on us everyday to obey and consume, leaving us elated and then a little bit disturbed. An eerie euphoria. The cinematography technique used is fantastic. By using the same cameras that were used in the late 80's, the film immediately feels credible, much like in advertising, it's fits the product perfectly. Every aspect of the film has been thought out thoroughly and executed perfectly. The use of archive footage within the film is so effective, it has never been done so well in my opinion. Pablo Larrain shows off every aspect of the craft of film making so well, he makes it look easy.
Pop psychology is never a good place to start a film but as stupid as… MorePop psychology is never a good place to start a film but as stupid as it is, I still quite liked the idea of nurse Betty's post-traumatic TV soap obsession. Renée Zellweger plays endearing quite well, so her character it is safe to say was good enough to carry the film. It is all the other characters that ruin it. The great Crispin Glover is given a terrible role that was beneath him, Aaron Eckhart was miscast and Chris Rock and Morgan Freeman's characters had major continuity issues. The conclusion to what started as quite a fun and original story was such an anticlimax it felt like the writers just ran out of time. What was the reason for Charlie's obsession with Betty? How did Ballard find Betty? Why did Roy Ostery come with Ballard? How did Betty rent a flat and get a job with no ID? So much of the story made no sense at all, the fact it won Best Screenplay at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival is a complete mystery to me.
Much like the first film, there are moments of genuinely funny comedy… MoreMuch like the first film, there are moments of genuinely funny comedy but these are fleeting. In the first film Harold and Kumar look for the best munchie following a night of heavy smoking, in Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay they try to deal with a much bigger issue; deconstructing stereotype and prejudice. It's a hell of a jump. I'm guessing they chose a deeper, more philosophical subject due to it being the second association when one is 'high' on marijuana after 'getting the munchies'. A film about stereotypes that overlooks it's own use of stereotype could be looked upon as post-modern brilliance. That or poor writing. It's pretty offensive all round although I doubt anyone can be that offended when it's obvious that the makers know very little about the subjects they're sending up. Indeed, I wonder if they've ever smoked Cannabis/had sex/driven a car/drunk a beer etc as it all seems to have been written by a 12 year old.
There is a good story lying somewhere within this frustratingly… MoreThere is a good story lying somewhere within this frustratingly misjudged drama. The cliches come thick and fast, it seems once you've seen one LA cop portrayed in the movies, you've seen them all. Some scenes are better than others, some are particularly intense and of quality but each one is let down by the following scene that is either filled with misguided comedy or dire dialogue. I like both Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña but neither ever convince in their roles as cops, neither do the other actors for that matter. The ending of the film is just plain abysmal, ruining any bit of quality the film had already achieved. Can we have something new please?
A largely fictional but very enjoyable version of the Annie Oakley… MoreA largely fictional but very enjoyable version of the Annie Oakley story. For all of its historical inaccuracies and unfortunate stereotyping it is hugely entertaining, thanks mainly to Barbara Stanwyck's energetic and likable performance. I was actually quite surprised by the level of acting, expecting over the top performances and unnecessary theatrics. The scene in which Annie gets shot in the arm was handled brilliantly, I can't help but think a modern day telling of this part of the story would be somewhat milked and overcooked.
The Maggie or 'High and Dry' as it's also known as, is one of the… MoreThe Maggie or 'High and Dry' as it's also known as, is one of the later and lesser known Ealing Comedies. It's a simple premise but full of as much charm as you can get in a comedy. The Maggie's rag-tag crew are what makes the film, no less so than the Skipper played perfectly by Alex Mackenzie. Director Alexander Mackendrick is remembered for many of his other, more successful films such as The Man in the White Suit, The Ladykillers and Sweet Smell of Success but The Maggie is his greatest achievement when it comes to timing, pace and editing in my opinion. Nothing is rushed and everything is subtle, the action happens five seconds after you expect, adding to the overall charm and comedy of the story. An unappreciated gem.
The Fighting Kentuckian is a fairly disappointing affair. It's not the… MoreThe Fighting Kentuckian is a fairly disappointing affair. It's not the best of the western genre and certainly not the best of John Wayne. I like director George Waggner but more for his TV work, most notably Batman. It is historically inaccurate and never, ever convincing. The acting is hammy to say the least, the action never really works and the story lack fluidity. The only reason why it is worth watching is to see the bizarre but quite brilliant pairing of John Wayne and Oliver Hardy. Oliver Hardy steals the show, even though his screen time seems to have been greatly reduced and it's made fairly obvious who he is (and why he was cast) by the reactions to every scene he's in which are over the top and what you'd expect from a chat show host after a special guest performance.
High Society is a much loved classic but in all honesty, the story… MoreHigh Society is a much loved classic but in all honesty, the story line is fairly awful. I'm usually the first to say, bad story = bad film, but this is one of the very few exceptions and for good reason. It's impossible not to love the introduction and epilogue given by the great Satchmo himself, Louis Armstrong, Grace Kelly's final and in my opinion, best performance as Tracy Lord and Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra, singing together and representing the new vs. the old. That wonderful scene whereby Crosby acknowledges Sinatra as being the new wave of crooner is just wonderful. All that and some of the musicals best songs, including one of my favorites; "Well, Did You Evah". It's pretty hard to resist.
Meet Me In St. Louis represents the big Studio Musical at its best.… MoreMeet Me In St. Louis represents the big Studio Musical at its best. That said, you either love this kind of thing or not. It's not really my kind of thing but I cannot fault the great music numbers, the big colourful sets and the overall production. The characters are actually very well written although a few performances are a bit two dimensional. It's a wonderful example of the best of cinema in the era though, it is also heaped in Hollywood history, for example without Meet Me In St. Louis there would be no Liza Minnelli. It represents a rich and glorious time in cinema that we are unlikely to see in the same way again, like it or not, it can never be reproduced or matched in either charm or grandeur.
It is questionable whether Paul Raymond really deserves a film biopic… MoreIt is questionable whether Paul Raymond really deserves a film biopic but after watching it I'm glad there is one. At no point does the film glorify who he is or what he did but the fact remains that he was very rich, powerful and part of the rich history of London's Soho. It's very Michael Winterbottom and for once (erm, twice), Steve Coogan was perfectly cast, although not initially an obvious choice. Who doesn't want to know what used to go on behind those darkened Soho doorways, who knew Ringo Star dabbled in interior design? At the very least it's nice to know where it all started to go wrong in this debauched and dirty city that I love. Not perfect (it's not at all accurate historically) and not for everybody but an interesting watch. Interesting enough for me to have just ordered Vicar Edwyn Young's 'No fun like work' book from my local book shop anyway.