April 22, 2013
In my geekiest post to day, I argue about whether Star Trek is better than Star Wars.
(tl;dr, it is.)
As with many things, a lot comes down to childhood. I grew up in a house in which Star Trek was beloved and Star Wars, not hated nor despised, just didn’t feature massively to the same extent. I grew up watching The Next Generation (TNG) on TV, and The Original Series (TOS) on recorded episodes. Here was a world of possibility, and familiarity. The possibility of what the future may hold – of faster than light travel, of transporters, of holodecks, of mysterious aliens and exciting adventures. And yes, this may be also true of Star Wars largely, but I’ll come to that. At its core, Star Trek is a positive ideal. It puts forward the philosophy that humanity can achieve unity; that it can overcome the difficulties of our time and work together for a common cause, create things of wonder and unbelievable technology, and do it for the advancement of knowledge and human understanding. And it does it while defending itself admirably against enemy alien forces. At its core, Star Trek is about humanity. read more »
April 15, 2013
The last time Pierce Brosnan was in a film where he travelled to a European country for a wedding, it broke box office records and he was singing. Love Is All You Need is unlikely to do the first, and has none of the latter. It does overuse “That’s Amoré”, but that’s the only clichéd thing in it. It’s touching, bittersweet and real in a way that Mamma Mia could only dream of being. The only other similarity is that both films are directed by women which, sadly, is still a notable thing in the film industry. Susanne Bier’s last film won an Oscar, and it’s great to see female directors getting recognition and, hopefully, inspiring more women into the male-dominated film industry. read more »
March 31, 2013
This is a reflection upon the film, not a review as such, and therefore contains discussion of plot points which may be considered spoilers. In the manner of the preceding reflections, this a serious look at the film, even though I recognise that this film is obviously a comedy. Sometimes comedy deserves serious treatment, and this one more than many others.
Upon its release, The Life of Brian or Monty Python’s Life of Brian to give its full correct title, was, like many religious films, picketed as controversial, banned from being shown by some councils, and generally misunderstood. This is the film to use when you want to differentiate between blasphemy and sacrilege. Life of Brian speaks out and challenges the precepts and ideals of organised religion; it does not speak out against God. read more »
March 30, 2013
This is a reflection upon the film, not a review as such, and therefore contains discussion of plot points which may be considered spoilers. Although, y’know, it’s not exactly an unknown story with a shock twist ending…
I am going to ignore the controversy surrounding the director and his well-publicised views and how they impinge on the story at the heart of The Passion of the Christ to focus more keenly on the story itself.
In films like The Greatest Story Ever Told or Ben-Hur, the story of Christ is given an historical setting and told in a bleached way, which betrays the truth of the violence in the story. The bible is guilty of that same smoothing-over of the story, not dwelling on the suffering, or not being entirely apparent what the depth of that suffering was. “He was scourged” does not quite get across the level of violence that that implies. Mel Gibson’s film does not flinch or shy away from the horrors of the days leading up to the crucifixion. Some complained at the extreme violence as being akin to those films of the “torture porn” sub-sub-genre. But I cannot help but feel that they are missing the point, somewhat. It was violent. It was horrific. And in an unforgiving depiction, we see the horror of Jesus’s last hours. read more »
March 30, 2013
This is a reflection upon the film, not a review as such, and therefore contains discussion of plot points which may be considered spoilers.
Religion, and specifically Christianity, is often depicted in one of two ways on film. It is either shown as absolute, unquestioned and unquestioning, or it is seen as a source of ridicule, to be mocked for its shortcomings and shortsightedness. Both viewpoints fail to see further than what is immediate. On this weekend, where Christians across the world recall the death and (spoilers) resurrection of Christ, and atheists the world over enjoy four days off and some chocolate eggs, I thought I would take three films that look in various ways at the central belief of Christianity.
Martin Scorsese nearly took holy orders to become a Catholic priest. His struggle with faith is apparent in many of his films, but none more keenly than in his 1997 film Kundun and the 1988 film I am looking at here, The Last Temptation of Christ. Based upon the novel of the same name by Nikos Kazantzakis, the film begins with a disclaimer to quell the Christians who wilfully miss the point that states that the film is not based upon the gospels, but upon this book. read more »
March 22, 2013
In a world where things starting with “Star” were both fast becoming jokes, it seemed impossible to imagine a reboot. If only Hollywood had had a remarkable success with rebooting some other series which bad become laughable, like Batman or someth….oh. So, if the mantra was more real, darker, for Nolan’s Batman, the mantra here was more real, lighter. Maybe with some lens flare. Scratch that; lots of lens flare.
JJ Abrams: “did somebody say lens flare?” Quiet, JJ. read more »
March 11, 2013
It broke all the rules. Riker had a beard. It’s an even numbered entry to the series. It starred up-and-coming actor Tom Hardy. IT WASN’T SUPPOSED TO BE LIKE THIS. It could have been something. It coulda been a conte….well, yes. read more »
January 29, 2013
Reservoir Dogs. Pulp Fiction. Jackie Brown. Kill Bill. Death Proof. Inglourious Basterds. Just look at that list of films. Regardless of what you think of his fifth film (or sixth, depending on how you’re counting) it is difficult to deny that Quentin Tarantino has quite an astonishing filmography. And irrespective of how you consider the motormouth director himself, what is undeniable is the passion, the excitement, and the sense of purpose put into everything he does. This is not a dispassionate director churning out films for cash; this is an impassioned man, raised on a diet of pure cinema, making films that he wants to make and which, if we’re lucky, we like too. His films fizz and crackle with ingenuity even while they rest squarely on the base of cinema itself. Films about films; cinema about cinema. Tarantino takes film-lore and beats it into something new, distinctive, and undeniably his. I would rather one director who makes films they want to make, the way they want to make them, even if I don’t like them, than a hundred who make better films at the compromise of their own vision or integrity. read more »
January 29, 2013
After a startling debut, David Lynch turned to a traditional narrative, but of a story so bizarre that you’d think it was directed by David Lynch if it weren’t true. … Oh.
John Merrick was born with hideous bodily defects; massive loose skin all over his body, a swollen and misshapen head, a malfunctioning arm. He was, quite literally, a freak. Until a Doctor (Anthony Hopkins) takes him out of scientific curiosity and gives him not only a home, not only a life, but an existence devoid of shame or fear. read more »