Monday, August 23, 2010
Director: Phillip Noyce
Cast: Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber, Chiwetel Ejiofor
In My Own Words
Lets talk teaser posters and trailers. When I say teasers, that’s exactly what they are. They don’t reveal anything about the movie, or if they do, they only give you very little to work off. Not that it is a bad thing to let everyone know before the movie comes out what it is about because the majority of people want to know what they are getting themself into, but teasers create an air of excitement about the movie. I bring this up in this review because that is very much our first exposure to “Salt” was. The first poster released was a close up of Angelina Jolie’s face with the tagline “Who Is Salt?” What did this poster tell us about the movie? Besides the fact that Jolie is in it, nothing. Love her or hate her, there is no denying that Jolie has an amazing amount of star power. This is the first movie she has done since the birth of her twins, Knox and Vivienne and it is as though she never left. She is still box office magic whether people know what the movie is about or not.
Of course this tactic doesn’t work if a big star isn’t in it or if it isn’t a Disney movie. Disney is great at teasing. Let’s use “Up” as a case study. The poster and trailer for it reveal not much more than it is a movie about a man who lives in a house with balloons attached to it and his young friend and dog. The movie could go in any direction from there. “Inception” is also a great example of teasing. I would’ve given an award to anyone who could tell me what “Inception” was about after watching the first trailer released. It gave nothing away, but everyone was intrigued because there was Leonardo DiCaprio, it was directed by “The Dark Knight” director Christopher Nolan and there were some amazing special effects. I love the idea of teasers. They make the movie watching experience just that bit more exciting even before you step into cinema. Terrific marketing .
These are my own words and here is my review.
“Who Is Salt?” The perfect tagline and the question that bugs you for 100 minutes through “Salt” and will for days after you have seen it. It is so refreshing to see a smart action film, one that combines great special effects, a smart script and a tough female lead. It is rare that an action film will challenge you so psychologically and rely solely on special effects and bomb blasts to move the film along and keep the audience entertained. Not to say that these aspects of the film aren’t entertaining or hurt the film, because they certainly do not. Evelyn Salt. She’s a CIA agent who is blissfully married to an arachnologist. Or is she who the strange Russian man who has turned himself into the CIA says she is, a Russian spy who is on a mission to kill the Russian president?
There is not much more you can say about “Salt’s” plot without giving away too much about the film. It is brilliantly written and exceptionally well directed by Phillip Noyce. It is far more mentally challenging than one would expect it to be based on the plot summary. It is not a lazy film by all means and far from a mindless action film. Throughout the film, it is a struggle to see where the film is going as it is completely unpredictable, another sign of great writing and directing. The cinematography is very well done with some great special effects and action shots throughout the film. For once, an action film that is not based on an old TV show, old movie or a comic book. It stands alone as a great story in itself. It is almost as though writer Kurt Wimmer, took a politics and decided to throw some action into the equation.
The Noyce and Angelina Jolie combination proves to be a winning combination, as it did now over 10 years ago in “The Bone Collector”. She is perfectly cast as Evelyn Salt. Not only does she cover all bases that a female action star should, she also shows her true acting ability. Everyone knows Jolie is a great actor, she has shown her versatility in many of her films and this is just another one of those films. She goes between two extremes in this film and does brilliantly at all times. She creates a great deal of mystery and the film would be nowhere near as successful as what it is without her. It is interesting that this film was originally written with a male as the lead, and that male lead was to be played by Tom Cruise. When he pulled out, Jolie stepped in and the film was rewritten with a female lead. It’s hard to see how the film would have been as good with a male lead, and having Tom Cruise as the lead would have been too much of a flashback to “The Firm”. Schreiber is as good as he can be in his role as Salt’s business partner, Ted Winter, but is better in some parts than others. Chiwetel Ejiofor is very good as Peabody, changing the way the audience sees him throughout the film.
Although Jolie is Salt and is the star of the film, she is not the only part of this film that makes “Salt” a winner. It is extremely clever and very well made. It is not only action fans or Angelina fans that will enjoy this film. Although a mentally strenuous film to watch at times, it is completely refreshing and a tribute to Noyce and to Jolie.
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Scott Pilgram vs The World
Director: Edgar Wright
Cast: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin, Anna Kendrick, Chris Evans, Jason Schwartzman
In My Own Words
What is it about these teen flicks these days? The lead characters are always the nerdy, no-hoper boy who crushes after the girl of his dreams, and they will most likely get them and also lose them in the course of the film. The guy in these teen flicks will normally be either Michael Cera or Jesse Eisenberg. The girls vary, but they are very rarely the blonde bombshells. They are normally the smart mouthed brunettes who could rip the guys apart with their wit. Think along the lines of Kat Dennings, Emma Stone or Kristen Stewart. Has it always been this way? When I think about the teen flicks that were made when I was in high school and they were more about the girl, next door pining after the stud of the school. Ah, genre trends. Got to love them!
What makes a successful genre film? I’ll tell you what does...breaking through the mould and making people who aren’t fans of that particular genre sit up and take notice. I’m not a huge fan of westerns, yet there are some westerns that I love. “Scott Pilgram vs The World” may just be one of these films. It’s got all the elements that make it fit into the teen flick genre of today, yet it breaks through to be a film that not only teenagers and young adults will enjoy. I was lucky enough to have the cinema to myself today, and I definitely did LOL (laugh out loud) unashamedly. This film is just a good comedy, whether it is aimed at a younger audience or not. It’s one that I will probably hire when it comes out on DVD because I would really like to watch it and giggle again.
These are my own words and here is my review.
On the surface, “Scott Pilgram vs The World” looks just like just another teen movie. It is a teen movie, but it is not just another teen movie. “Scott Pilgrim vs The World” is perhaps the best teen flick we will see this year. It is well made, well written and very funny. Even though it is one of the better teen flicks, some older viewers will still find it a little too silly fand young for their liking. However, the silliness works and keeps the viewer interested. Scott Pilgram (Michael Cera) is a 22 year old who lives with his gay roommate, Wallace (Kieran Culkin), plays bass in his band and has caused controversy by going out with a 17 year old school girl. His life is turned upside down when he meets Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). As soon as the two start seeing each other, Scott is faced with Ramona’s seven evil exes whom he needs to defeat in order to have a peaceful relationship with his new girl.
As one might guess, this film crosses teen comedy with the comic book genre. Don’t be fooled though, it’s not an action film. Sure there are lots of fighting scenes, but no big bang special effects. The special effects are reserved more for bringing the elements of a comic book to the big screen. The result is a film that is loads of fun to watch. “Scott Pilgram vs The World” is actually a very well made film. The cinematography is very good and the editing is superb. The musical score is also very good, supplying a strong opening and some interesting choices throughout the film which work perfectly. The choice of Toronto for the films setting is a great choice and it is definitely on show here. Edgar Wright does a great job at directing the film and his actors. The script is witty and well written. There are jokes throughout the film that are plain, simple humour without being obscene or crude. The humour is what makes this film appealing to a greater audience than that of a run of the mill teen flick. It is humour that anyone, no matter how old they are, will find funny. Watch out for the Seinfeld reference in one particular scene that will have you giggling within seconds! There are only two noticeable faults with this film. One being that at times it can be very silly, as one might guess from the title and plot outline. It can also be a little too busy at times. There is a lot going on in the film. For some people it may be a bit too much to keep up with.
Michael Cera doesn’t really bring anything different to the plate than he does in his other films. It is a role that was made for him basically. He plays the hopeless, awkward Scott Pilgram very well, but it is nothing we haven’t seen before and doesn’t make this role very special. Yet, he is still likable. Mary Elizabeth WInstead also doesn’t have a very hard role to play, but does it well enough. Both Kieran Culkin and Anna Kendrick are hilarious in this film, and provide many of the laughs throughout. Ellen Wong also deserves credit for her role as Scott’s stalker-ish ex girlfriend, Knives. She plays out the role as the young, innocent, yet slightly scary schoolgirl very well and although she is meant to be annoying, it isn’t hard to develop a soft spot for her. Each of the characters have a great deal of character and are very well constructed. The audience knows who everyone is and remembers them all as a result of strong characterization and wonderful directing.
“Scott Pilgram vs The World” is two hours worth of fun and laughter. Somewhat silly, but it is a fun silliness. There is so much in the film to keep it interesting from start to finish. Finally, a teen flick not just for teens.
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Me And Orson Welles
Director: Richard Linklater
Cast: Zac Efron, Christian McKay, Claire Danes, Ben Chaplin
In My Own Words
For those who don’t know, I am a massive fan of anything old Hollywood. Anything about the movie business from its birth to the 1960’s I am in love with. Not that I don’t love movies in the time after the 1960’s (as it would be strange if I was as committed to Movie Critical as I am and I hated modern film), but I truly love the Golden Age of Hollywood. The stars, the films, the film makers and the style. Whenever a film comes out that has anything remotely to do with this era, it is something for me to get excited about. A film about Orson Welles? I’m there! Unfortunately, I would be surprised if many of Zac Efron’s fans who would have rushed out to see their heart throb’s new film would have known who Orson Welles was before they saw this film. Personally, I think the man was a genius. He was brilliant in “Citizen Kane”, “The Third Man” and “The Lady From Shanghai” and the man was at his best directing two of these three films. Although “Me And Orson Welles” isn’t completely true to life, there are many accuracies throughout. Firstly and most importantly, Mr Welles was known to be extremely hot headed and very hard to work with at times. He knew he was great at his job, but he can be forgiven considering he was as much of a genius as what he thought he was. For those of you who haven’t seen “Citizen Kane”, do me a favour. Hire it out and then try to tell me that he isn’t a genius.
Some of you may be asking “If you were so excited about the movie, then why did it take you so long to see it?” Well, believe it or not, it actually only taken me less than a week to see it without illegal download. “Me and Orson Welles debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2008, opened in the United States in March 2009, the UK in December 2009 and long and behold, Australia in August 2010. I have no idea why it took this film to get here, but it doesn’t look good for some movie patrons knowing this piece on information. My other half was very sceptical of the quality of this film, because his theory is that if a film takes so long to be released here, it can’t be that good.
Well, these are my own words and here is my review.
Orson Welles. The man was larger than life in stature as well as in presence and this is perfectly captured on the screen in Richard Linklater’s latest film, “Me And Orson Welles”. Adapted from the novel of the same name by Robert Kaplow, this film is light and fun, but is superior to other films which are seen as light and fluffy. It is able to bring a tear to your eye for reasons other than soppy romance scenes and has some stellar acting. 17 year old Richard Samuels (Zac Efron) is like any other school kid dreaming of acting stardom in New York City when he has an amazing stroke of luck and is cast in the newest Orson Welles (Christian McKay) production at the Mercury Theatre, Julius Caeser. The production looks like it is destined to be a failure due to the unprofessional nature of Welles and his over the top personality. Despite the pandemonium, Samuels falls in love with his new occupation and also with production assistant, Sonja Jones (Claire Danes). However, it doesn’t take him long to realise that the world of Broadway is not as pure as he would have liked it to be and that Welles is the man, in many different ways.
“Me And Orson Welles” is definitely a fun watch. It is not as heavy or emotional as it could be, but the film would not be as fun to watch if it was. It captures the true essence of Broadway in the 1930’s and has many accurate references to the time. It is obvious that director Linklater, screenwriter Holly Gent Palmo and author Kaplow did a great deal of research when piecing together the screenplay, which is evident considering “Me And Orson Welles” is a great period piece. The script it witty and extremely well written. However, it can be a little cheesy in parts and seem very rehearsed , rather than flowing the way a film should.
The characters in the film are all colourful and great to see on the screen. Zac Efron takes on a role in “Me and Orson Welles” unlike any other he has done before. At times he still oozes the same cheesy charm that has made him famous in the “High School Musical” trilogy, but then he also shows the making of a fine actor. He has moments of brilliant acting as the movie goes on. Though it would be great to see him in a film where he doesn’t sing or dance at all. However, he is perfect for the role of Samuels. The star of the film is undeniably Christian McKay. In only his first big screen appearance, he gives an amazing performance that Welles, the man, would be proud of. He uncannily resembles Welles physically, vocally and in attitude. He does something which every great actor should to do, he makes the audience hate him, and then love him. They want him to fail, but they also want him to succeed. McKay definitely deserves all the praise he has received. Ben Chaplin is also a standout in his role as cast member George Coulouris, as he gives a stunning performance.
It is refreshing to see a fun, but serious at the same time film to be released which has all the features of a backstage musical, bar the music. Fans of theatre will definitely enjoy this film, as will fans of Welles himself and of the Broadway of yesterday. Christian McKay carries the film with his brilliance and gives a performance which one will not be able to help remembering when thinking of Orson Welles. “Me And Orson Welles” may seem like an interesting choice for film maker, Richard Linklater, but definitely not a bad choice.