American film critics Siskel & Ebert put it on their list of the ten worst films of 1980.
Watched a couple of movies yesterday…
First was The Oxford Murders with Elijah Wood and John Hurt… Ugh…it was AWFUL!
but then for something in a lighter and funnier tone, The Grand Budapest Hotel. Loved it… I hadn’t seen it since it was out in theaters and had forgotten just how great Ralph Fiennes and the rest of the cast were. Just a fun romp as they say!
I think it’s one of Moore’s best performances
Just watched an excellent movie…
I guess I could narrow down my all time favourite directors to Leone, Kubrick, Lynch, Woody Allen and (not in order of preference) John Carpenter.
So when I read that the off again-on again remake of Carpenter’s nihilistic cult masterpiece Escape From New York was back up and running with a new Director attached, Leigh Whannell, I tracked down his latest movie Upgrade.
It’s the kind of movie, full of style and invention that deserves an in depth review, but I don’t want to spoil it, nor bore, so I’ll keep it brief(ish), suffice to say that it’s an impressive second feature.
Apparently the budget was a mere half a million dollars, but at no point do you see this limitation. He obviously knows where to put the cash and how to exploit the budget, rather than be limited by it. That’s a very attractive quality to interested studios.
When you stand back and look at Upgrade it’s a trope fest, but he plays it out with such canny awareness of this and passion for the medium that nothing ever really feels like a cliche. Instead it’s an immersive ride to a dark and highly palausible (thanks to his writing & direction) near future.
It’s been compared to Venom with it’s host/parasite theme, but be assured it’s a far better movie. Venom has Hardy and some funny asides in the host/parasite relationship to boast of. But where Leigh Whannell turns trope into fresh thrills, Venom’s are merely cringeworthy cliches. If people really still bought dvds Venom would go straight from screen to bargain bucket. Upgrade could well become a cult gem and much later a prophetic warning.
Whannell has a good visual style and knows how to marry it to the right music. His shot selection allows the edit to ‘show, not tell’ and his mise en scene is cluttered and sparse at the right times to inform the viewer with no more, no less than they need in order to focus on what’s important.
…Many a new director starts out with great mise en scene (as much a symptom of a tiny budget, as artistic choice), but then when the studios throw money at their new talent for the next feature mise en scene is one the first casualties, as the director crams every scene with detail just because they can.
The same can be said of story and the number of integral characters. John Carpenter is one of the few directors to have resisted such temptations and pressures as his success grew. I hope Leigh Whannell can do the same.
To sum up Upgrade in the laziest way possible, it’s Venom meets Knightrider with a hefty dash of prime Cronenberg and the aesthetics of Drive.
I can absolutely see why he’s been tapped for Escape From New York and I’m excited and impressed with the executive nouse to make that match. He’s also a Blumhouse rep and they are probably the most exciting outfit opporating in Hollywood right now. While their Halloween sequel ultimately fell into the trap of an over cooked finale that nullified The Shape’s supernatural terror, the rest of the movie was a masterful excersice in how to pick up from the maestro, Carpenter and not frack it up. Blumhouse are obviously well aware of Whannell’s talent since he’s also rostered to helm their Dark Universe remake of The Invisible Man after EFNY.
My one concern for EFNY is that Luther writer Niel Cross is still down as it’s scribe (he worked on the previous remake attempt that was to be directed by Rob Rodriguez).
While Cross can nail sadistic urban serial killer scenarios better than anyone, his dialogue is often hackneyed, his story telling is utterly predictable and his characterisations rely heavily upon a narrow set of tropes that he repeats endlessly and seemingly in leu of the will or ability to give them a third dimension. His scripts play out like he’s been to many a writing seminar and simply colours in between the outlines of technique they’ve furnished him with.
Luther’s had some great moments and beats, but they float in a swamp of cliche. Let’s not even mention his recent diabolical BBC ‘drama’ Hard Sun. I fear that unless Whannell does a serious pass on the EFNY script he’ll be pushing mud uphill as he tries to un-cliche Snake Plissken and un-telegraph the narrative.
Not a dissimilar state of affairs to my hopes on CJF and the Bond 25 script.
I want that phrase as a tattoo now.
A Star Is Born
I never thought I would write this sentence: Lady Gaga is a terrific actress.
Also: I absolutely loved this movie, consider it not only as one of the best films of last year but the last decade - and Cooper is a fantastic director and actor.
Why could a remake of this overfamiliar story move me so much?
This movie was amazing. I’m not a Lady Gaga fan either, but this was a great film about artistry, addiction, two people caring for each other, the music business, and mental health. With Sam Elliot, Dave Chapelle and Andrew Dice Clay (yes, Andrew friggin’ Dice Clay) as a supporting cast, this movie has lots of extra additions that enrich the story. I know lots of guys that hesitated to see this movie only to rave about it and all admit having a tear in their eye by the end.
And that Bradley Cooper directed it, an actor that voiced a space raccoon in his previous outing, is all the more impressive. It also kind of reminded me of the Jeff Bridges vehicle Country Strong a bit. I’m not gonna say Bradley Cooper was snubbed by the Academy, but this was an impressive directorial job, let alone debut.
The green book
Great, old fashion Oscar bait that knows exactly how to tug those heart strings (excuse me while I wipe a tear away - credits just rolled).
The script and direction handled the tricky subject matter perfectly imo. The lead performances are really outstanding. Can’t recommend this feel good movie enough.