von_geisterhand: Monika küsst Jörg. Sie liebt ihn. (kiss)
Okay, there are is a spoiler of sorts in this text. It is, however, not related to the end joke. You will more or less know the controversial joke at the end of "Kingsman", if you've seen the trailer and/or have a reasonable knowledge of classic Bond-films.

The problem is a more basic one )

*Okay, and maybe for the odd person in the audience to go "Oh, can we have another shot of that cleavage, please? Man, I'm totally freeze-framing this on DVD!"

The Hobbit

Dec. 23rd, 2012 04:29 pm
von_geisterhand: (Default)
The short version is: If you liked Peter Jackson's take on "Lord of the Rings", you will probably also like his "Hobbit".
The following will be me moaning on a very high level, only talking about all the things I found difficult about the film while the bottom line remains that I was entertained for nearly all of three hours, might well rewatch the film in 48fps and am looking forward to the next sequel.

Which brings us to the first thing I am feeling sceptical about:
"Lord of the Rings" turned three fairly long books with loads of appendices into three very long films with loads of endings. "The Hobbit" will attempt to turn one normal-length book into three very long films. Leaving cynical thoughts of the likely financial considerations aside, I have to admit that "An unexpected journey" did quite well in terms of padding out the story with other pieces of Tolkien and the obligatory added references to the other trilogy. Now, I could have lived without those, keeping "The Hobbit" autonomous but can see why the decision was made to link trilogies. A legion of fanboys and -girls all over the world probably felt their elven swords glow. And to be fair, it worked. I can even see another film scratching at three hours repeating the trick. Another two films still feels somewhat excessive but I am looking forward to being proven wrong.

The 3D looked alright. There were some of the typical "Gee! Gosh! Golly!-pans, zooms and effects but for the most part I felt that the 3D was used to give the scenery more actual width and depth. The whole thing would have worked just as well in 2D, though. Maybe 48fps will convince me of the third dimension but so far it is at best a slight bonus.
I did not like the increased use of CGI for characters and scenery. Yes, technology has marched on but really the only computer-created character that truly felt real was Gollum, with the Goblin King being the least convincing character.

For reasons that are still not clear to me I also thought that the dwarf make-up was somehow lacking and not much better than the make-up used for Gwildor in "Masters of the Universe" in 1987. at first I also feared that the musical interludes and scenes of young-audience-orientated tomfoolery would spoil my enjoyment of the film but thankfully they kept that at an acceptable level.

The journey continues....

Tideland

Dec. 19th, 2012 12:09 am
von_geisterhand: (Default)
I finally got round to watching the copy of "Tideland" [personal profile] dingsi sent me ages ago. It was an experience. I, like undoubtedly many, many other, was not terribly impressed by Mr: Gilliam's previous film "The Brothers Grimm" and so I was sincerely hoping that "Tideland" would reintroduce some of the weirdness I loved "Brazil" and "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" for.
And in that respect, "Tideland" did not disappoint. It is probably not too bold a claim to suggest that "Tideland" is Mr. Gilliam's weirdest film in a while, if not ever.
After her mother* dies from a drug overdose, young Jeliza Rose and her father travel to the country in oder to live amongst the plains and fields of an unspecified and arid piece of the American landscape. Here, in the abandoned house of his mother J-R's dad very soon also buys the farm in the intravenous way, a fact Jeliza-Rose remains blissfully unaware of due to her incredible naivité. J-R explores the surrounding area accompanied by her "friends", four doll's heads with distinct personalities she carries on her fingers, running into Dell, an imposing, one-eyed woman looking like a post-apocalyptic gunslinger and her brother Dickens, who looks and acts like a lost member of "Texas Chain Saw Massacre"'s Sawyer family.
And with that, we have now set the scene for a heartwarming story of a young girl escaping her terrible surroundings through the power of fantasy. You know, like in "Pan's Labyrinth".... :-D

I'll stay vague but this gets slightly spoilery )

It is a bold film, and a ride. I cannot think of any other major director who would have dared tackle the material in this way but much like "The Road" it will divide audiences.
Personally, I don't mind it being so dark but would have wished for it to be slightly more of a narrative and not exclusively a mood piece.

* Jennifer Tilly at her white-trashiest.
von_geisterhand: (Default)
I made it to the Fantasy Filmfest again this year and despite the fact that I did not watch quite as many films as I wanted to and also despite the fact that the films on offer were not quite as good as in past years (Yes, yes, I know that there is a contradiction hidden in here.), it was a delightful experience once again.

And here are some of the films I managed to see:

Grabbers: Tentacled alien monsters attack a remote irish island and it is up to two Gardas, a drunk, a posh doctor and a landlord to defeat them.
The premise is already silly and with Richard Coyle (of "Coupling"-fame) starring, I expected a silly film. Unfortunately, it only just about met even those expectations. Bluntly put, the film has one idea beyond the basic premise but has no real idea what to do with it, let alone develop the characters or tell a thrilling stories.
Positive aspects include pretty decent CGI, a (comparatively) interesting and strong female character and a "Yay!"-worthy "Aliens"-reference, but all in all it's a film to be watched with others while drunk and possibly with somethis else to watch afterwards.

Killer Joe: A young Texan needs money to pay a debt with a mobster, so he hires a hitman to kill his mother in order to collect the insurance. Things don't go to plan and the killer might have his own agenda.
It's based on a play (Not that you could tell until the last scene.), starts slightly generic but soon picks up to become quite weird and interesting. Matthew McConaughey makes up for all the dreadful romcoms he has been in by being the coolest killer in quite some time, while Gina Gershon is given a role so trashy it would normally end up being played by Jennifer Tilly. Juno Temple gets the most out of a part which might have turned into a real cliche in other hands. It comes recommended but is not for the fainthearted.

Excision. About a young woman with a definite interest in anatomy but little interest in fitting in at school.
Difficult mixture of what is at times a satire of small-town America in parts (including John Waters as a priest charged with counselling the protagonist), an actually quite moving look at a difficult family at others and a look into a seriously disturbed mind (complete with glossy dream sequences full of gore and naked models). In the end it does not fully satisfy on anyof those levels but for those looking for something out of the ordinary, it is definitely worth a look. You might not see a stranger film this year.

Comedown: ASBOs go to party in an abandoned tower block, only to find it not quite abandoned. People die.
Yawn. Absolutely generic and trying to make up for its lack of tension with gore. Next!

Stitches: A clown (Ross Noble) who died during a children's birthday party returns from the dead years later to take his revenge.
There is a sequence in the last third of the film where it seems like it is briefly thinking about having a plot and possibly introducing a smidgen of peril/tension. Then it goes "Nah! Fuck it!".
The film has the thinnest of plots, none of which stands up to any kind of scrutiny, the characters are quckly sketched and their interactions (except for the obligatory love interest) are negligible. In effect the film just needs to set up the party and the clown in order to give Ross Noble to chance to deliver puns and kill teenagers in cartoonishly extreme ways.
It was the funniest thing I have seen in a while and reminded me of Funny Man. Absolutely bonkers and worth watching together with others.

The Possession: A young girl buys a wooden box with strange hebrew letters on and soon finds herself at the arse-end of a possession.
Okay, I have to differentiate: The film is solidly made, glossy, well acted (particular praise to Jeffrey Dean Morgan as the father and Natasha Calis as the possessed girl) and ticks all of the boxes normally required, even if it's not particularly scary or terribly well-scripted on any level.
My problem with it is that the author and director clearly know all the films about the subject matter that came before (in particular "The Exorcist" and "Drag me to Hell" and even bits of "Constantine") but I know those films, too, and know that they were much, much better. There really are no surprises or thrills to be found here and films that use the "Well, you know, kids go a little crazy when their parents divorce" and the "Evil young girl" (Because we know that girls going through puberty are basically possessed by evil spirits) tropes in order to explain why parents do not notice that there is something wrong with their child have already pretty much lost in my book. Not worth it.

The Aggression Scale: Mob hitmen come to wipe out a family but find that the young son of the family may well be more than they can handle.
You remember "Home Alone"? Imagine that played straight with a more violent and very resourceful Kevin. "Home Alone: First Blood" actually describes it pretty well. The film is not perfect by any means but well executed with a good concept. Definitely worth a watch.

Inbred: A group of young offenders on a re-socialisation programme take a trip up to rural Yorkshire. Not all the locals are friendly.
It will do for Yorkshire tourism what "House of 1000 corpses" did for Texas. Setting everything up takes a while but once it gets going, it is deliciously bonkers. Ee by Gum! :-D Consider that a recommendation.
von_geisterhand: (misanthropy)
Contains spoilers for the first part and some cryptic stuff for the second )

In summary: "The Descent" (UK cut) did not need a sequel and it sure as fuck did not need this one.
As a standalone film it is.... well, generic but adequate, I guess. Maybe it would be okay as part of a whole night of DVDs.

*sigh*

"Watchmen"

Mar. 6th, 2009 05:02 pm
von_geisterhand: (the geisterhand)
So years and years of discussing and wondering and pondering and expecting came to an end yesterday when the film version of "Watchmen" finally went on general release over here.
And I really liked it. As somebody who has only done one concentrated full reading of the original comic (and quite a trip that was, let me tell you) but read a fair bit of the secondary literature as well as re-reading bits and pieces, I have decided that all the hype was pretty much deserved and that this quite simply is the best Alan-Moore-adaptation done so far now*.

If you have not read the book, here be spoilers )


Obviously, the book adds many more layers, asks many more questions and gives you more to think about but that really is something that books by their very nature have an advantage on compared to mainstream films. There also is no question about Zack Snyder being very interested in things looking flashy (What do you expect from the man who brought you "Himmler's wet dream" "300"?) and maybe the film is a little bit "style over matter" but I did really like the fact that the story pulled no punches and tried its best to not turn into run-of-the-mill Hollywood fare (while referencing Hollywood: "Ride of the Valkyries", anyone?).
I mean, imagine this having been done by Michael Bay with Arnold as Dr. Manhattan. See? Scary, innit?

So, full marks.


*Kicking "V for Vendetta" into a deserved second place. But then I guess you could also argue that the list pretty much ends there. "From Hell" is an interesting film in its own right but only really adapted certain assumptions Moore made about the murders. A "proper" adaptation of the book surely would have been a documentary with a certain amount of re-enactments.
And "LXG".... come on, let's be honest here. The film took a number of characters Moore also used in "League of extraordinary gentlemen", added some and then did a stupid story with them. Calling this an "adaptation" is using the term very loosely.
"Constantine" and "Swamp Thing" will be completely disregarded here, although they have their merits.
von_geisterhand: (bruised)
Because I lack the resolve of Mr. [livejournal.com profile] carnaaki, I cannot help myself but wanting to share my impression of that film with the lot of you.
First of all, because this sort of question tends to pop up sooner or later, yes, I have read the book, I thought it was great and Alan Moore, IMHO, is one of the best authors in his field alive today. On the other hand, I never got to like the film-version of "From Hell" quite as much as I thought it might deserve. Reading the book did not make me like it more, but at least I realised that it was probably not possible making a film that would do it justice, anyway."From Hell" needs its footnotes and annotations and these things are difficult to do on film.
"League of extraordinary Gentlemen", on the other hand, could have made a very good film. Shame that the result made me think I had just seen the worst film of the year. Wrongly, as it turned out a few weeks later when I saw "Van Helsing", but "LXG" is a true piece of shit in its own right and particularly compared to the graphic novel.
So my hopes for "V for Vendetta" were not very high, especially when I heard the rumour that they wanted to use the old "Germany won the war"-trick to explain the rise of fascism in the UK.
Still, I had to see, I had to know. And fortunately, I was not disappointed.
Yes, the film could have been a fair bit better and you do feel the american influence very strongly in some parts, but on the whole, it is reasonably clever and does not wimp out from the moral dubiosity and violence of the book. Yes, the Finger-men towards the beginning get away with their lives, but a vendetta is a revenge of blood and blood is being shed in this film, oh yes.

Here be SPOILERS )

In the end, however, it somehow works, it makes for an interesting two hours, even if I felt like they had to majorly rush things towards the beginning to fit everything in. But it works, even "Valerie" makes an appearance. This is not a conversion in the way that "Sin City" is, but, with all due respect to Mr. Moore, who decided to disassociate himself from this production, this is, without a doubt, the best conversion of one of his books so far.
Now somehow just has to impress me and come up with a version of "Watchmen" able to beat it.
I am not that optimistic, though.

England prevails!

*As per usual, the question of "What exactly is going to happen the next morning?" is not being answered.

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