American Beauty (1999, Mendes)
I don’t really know what to say. Kevin Spacey is seriously seriously incredible, Mena Suvari is pitch perfect (can’t believe they ever considered giving Kirsten Dunst her role is that some kind of sick joke?), Annette Bening plays restrained/crazy better than I’ve ever seen it, and Sam Mendes is just a complete visionary for bringing this beautiful piece of art together.
American Beauty has a sinister mood the entire way through - the story is told in medias res (i.e. the ending is revealed at the beginning) in order to put the big twist out of the way so that we’re able to take the film’s wider messages a little more seriously, which, for me, is a smart move - there’s still an element of the mysterious, but it’s much easier to take in all of the film’s other sentiments about self loathing and self liberation, which are as much a part of it as the story itself.
Mendes’ direction take its time - especially Spacey’s reaction shots, which are long and measured and drawn out which is hugely enjoyable to watch, and the simple, carefully composed cinematography which purposefully jars uncomfortably against the claustrophobic action - but it pays off. American Beauty never feels too slow: it is a thought provoking and singular piece of cinema that gets the very best out of every one of its performers, and one of the few that can truly call itself a masterpiece.
Die Hard (1988, McTiernan)
my boyfriend Luke luvs Die Hard and since I let him have a little say about Super 8 he has been hankering to write a guest review on da blawwwg. It is tentatively that I hand you over to him for his thoughts on the best Christmas movie of all time:
DIE HARD is the first in a QUADRILOGY of ALL ACTION films starring one JOHN MCCLANE, RENEGADE COP from New York fuggin City - and is now largely accepted as the greatest film ever made amongst academic circles. Here the protagonist JOHN (Bruce Willis in career best) faces the task of winning back his wife with the great perm; but OH NO it ain’t gonna be easy cos the building she works in has been taken over by Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) with a beard who is hellbent on breaking into the vault to steal some bonds or some other loosely thrown together motive. But hey, John ain’t gonna go down without a fight, and so follows an intense cat and mouse chase between John, his vest, and 12 German terrorists.
Some great things about this film are the sheer number of expletives (motherfucker), the gradual transition of McClane’s vest from crisp white to camo green and brown (to just hairy sweaty chest) and the haircuts of the terrorists. Also when John drops a bunch of plastic explosives down a lift shaft and blows up half the building (motherfucker). In film lernin terms this is the story of an ALL AMERICAN HERO overcoming ADVERSITY and GERMANY to get back his ALL AMERICAN WOMAN (don’t say I never teach ya anythin), but on a more human level, we can all learn something from John’s glass filled feet/struggle and get one step closer to understanding the real meaning of christmas.
YIPPI KI YAY MOTHERFUCKER
(coming soon: Die Hard II, Die Hard III, Die Hard 4.0)
This has been a review by Luke McGuire. I am so sorry.
August 19, 2011 at 2:26pm
Twilight (2008, Hardwicke)
I haven’t been watching very credible movies lately have I? This was on TV, so shoot me. 3 years later, the best things about Twilight remain Anna Kendrick and the baseball scene which I maintain is beautifully shot. I’m not going to go into the negatives because thinking about that is already giving me a headache.
The Inbetweeners Movie (2011, Palmer)
The nub and gist is basically that I cried laughing twice, and I am a tough nut to crack re: lolling. If you liked the TV show (I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t), you’re guaranteed to like the movie. Even if it does all get a bit soppy and formulaic 3/4 of the way in.
Salt (2010, Noyce)
This film is indefensibly shit. That is all I have to say, it really does suck that bad.
Super 8 (2011, Abrams)
I’m just going to go in at the deep end and say it - this is THE blockbuster of Summer 2011. I expected a standard kids action adventure movie (albeit one that would certainly be more visually pleasing than the usual fare), but what I got for my money was a genuinely heartfelt, sad, funny and overall nuanced piece of film making that certainly isn’t aimed at children.
Super 8 follows Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney in his first ever role. It doesn’t show.) and his friends as they make a zombie movie using a Super 8 video camera. One night whilst filming, the group witnesses the crash of a high speed train carrying suspicious cargo, and becomes embroiled in a series of events which ultimately brings them closer together etc etc. It sounds so incredibly simple and Goonies-ish (NO BAD THING) but what really takes the whole film up a notch is the accomplished performances of its young central ensemble, most notably Elle Fanning - as the beautiful and unattainable Alice Daynard, who agrees to be part of the boys’ movie - who is honestly a dream to watch (I realise I sound like a dickhead when I say that but srsly just watch it and you will understand): amidst all of Super 8’s impressive effects and comic touches, my favourite of the movie’s scenes remains one between Joe and Alice, as they watch slides of Joe’s dead mother together. I don’t remember the last time I saw acting so honest.
However, despite these frankly amazing performances from such young actors, Super 8 wouldn’t be the full package without the inevitable special effects and CGI. A creature movie through and through, the eventual alien doesn’t disappoint (I shat myself on about 3 different occasions it is so creepy) and the explosions are as big as you like -and I like ‘em big. The whole affair is just so wonderfully epic and Spielbergian (Big Steve has clearly had a huge influence on Abrams’ story, but despite this, the director’s own vision of a hazy, nostalgic 1970’s suburbia stays perfectly intact; it’s a great combination) that it’s pretty much impossible to criticise - the feeling of satisfaction I got at the end of this movie was unlike anything I’ve experienced before (I even got a nice warm feeling in my tummy!) and really I just can’t recommend it more. Just like, don’t take your kid brother/sister, it’s effing frightening.
PS; my boyfriend wanted me to add his review of the movie: “Super 8?? More lyk SUPER GR8 AMIRITE???” (he likes puns just humour him)