Saturday, 24 March 2012

Left in the DVD player- Soylent Green

Are you sure you want to eat that little green tile?

As soon as my good friend Rufus described to me the plot and that it was made in the 1970's, I knew I would like it.In a bleak,over populated New York in  2022, Chartlon Heston stars as a homicide detective who,with the help of his old companion (Edward G Robinson in his last film) discovers the dark secret behind the popular Soylent Green food substitute that has a grip on the swelling population.
The director Richard Fleischer, with the aid of inventive set design and crude but lovable special effects, paints a rather bleak but somewhat not inaccurate picture of the near future which I totally bought into as I watched on. In every scene the actors are clammy with sweat due to the global warming, with the exception of the 'furniture'-idealistic young women who escort the millionaires and float around in their apartments who enjoy the spoils of money. The whole film has that atmosphere can be detected in other 70's classics such as All The Presidents Men, Marathon Man and The French Connection,that grainy,earthy paranoid thriller atmosphere which I simply cannot get enough of. Heston is convincing as always a detective who ends up going deeper and deeper into the seedy underbelly hidden behind the exterior of bureaucracy and the enigmatic Soylent company which seems to pull all the strings. However it is Edward G Robinson who steals every scene he is in, as the ageing Sol Roth who aides Heston in his investigations and yearns for the past when food was plentiful and paper was easy to come by. When I discovered that it was Robinsons last film before he died of cancer shortly after production finished, it makes the his last scene suitably  poignant,which is by far the best scene in the film.
Having not read the Harry Harrison book it was adapted from, I don't know how faithful it is,but it doesn't seem to matter. It is a finely crafted film with a a conclusion that has not left any of its punch 39 years later.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Steady as she goes.The excellence of the steadicam shot.

After watching Alfonso Cuarons Children Of Men a few days ago,I was reminded of how much I love the Steadicam shot.Here is a snippet of my favourite one,Russian Ark.

I URGE YOU to watch this film in its entirety.100mins of one single shot.Technically brilliant and visually arresting,once seen,never forgotten.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Left in the DVD player-Drive Angry

Nicholas Cage? Satanic Cult? Lots of driving around the U.S? SIGN ME UP!

The latest offer from the writer of  Jason X and  My Bloody Valentine doesn't let you down-that is,if you are looking for a film that has Nicholas Cage escaping from hell to seek revenge on the cult leader who murdered his daughter and stole his granddaughter.It as crackers as you think it is.

Cage is in his element as an unstoppable Milton (see what they did there) who intends to drive,in a very angry way to seek justice for his daughters murder at the hands of Jonah King,the leader of a satanic cult who just happens to know how to open up the gates of Hell.Hot on Cages heels is The Accountant-played by the ever excellent William Fitchner, who is the only one to get close to Cage in the bat-shit crazy scale in the film.
It's full to the brim with lots of fast paced,kinetic set pieces and a rather impressive car chase in late in the second act.A few good cameo's throughout the film support Cage and Heard as the traverse the American south which brings a digestible episodic  feel to the film and gives room for David Morse and others to join in the fun.As you watch it,you get the feeling that everyone involved in the film has their tongues firmly in their collective cheeks,and if watched with such a mindset,it is one of the most entertaining films of the past year,if only I saw it in 3-D...ah well.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Breaking Bad-Season 1 Review

With my expectations already high before actually watching an episode,doubts started creeping into my mind whether it would be any good at all.After watching the first season,all those doubts are now dashed-but it didn't happen instantly....

The opening of the pilot is one of the most attention grabbing ones I have ever come across and delves you head first into the action,demanding that you watch on to find an explanation to the carnage just witnessed.The 'cold open' is a trick that gets used time and again throughout the season,effective at best but frustrating after the fourth episode in a row.

The first episode does its job well and sets up the main characters of the show pretty well and evenly,with obvious emphasis on high school chemistry Walt,played by the ever excellent Bryan Cranston (who went on to win an Emmy for his performance) as he deals with the news of finding out that he has inoperable lung cancer,his pregnant wife Skylar and disabled teenage son Walt Jnr. His decision to team up with a former student of his,Jesse (played by Aaron Paul-also excellent) after seeing the financial benefits of selling crystal meth is the 'breaking bad' moment which sets up the rest of the series  and thus,the show is born!

As the series went on I found myself looking forward to the Walt and Jesse scenes-whether it's when  they are in the camper van cooking meth,disposing of melted human bodies or stealing barrels of chemicals.This,for me is when the show is strongest,the writing is precise and the performances of Cranston and Paul really reach their heights.Not to take anything away from the rest of the show,but i must say if it wasn't for these key scenes, I probably wouldn't have watched on .

I was struck with the amount of humour that peppers the show,pleasantly struck that is.As I pointed out in my Currently Watching post,like the shows subject matter,the humour certainly has a dark tone.For example the scene with Walt and Jesse stealing the barrels of Methanine (totally misspelled) is dealt with well paced farce to the point where it almost resembles a Laurel and Hardy sketch-any other moody drama with a scene like this would undoubtedly ramp up the tension and seriousness.Not to say that the drama in the show is at a loss because of this-in one of the episodes,Walt finds himself having to decided whether to release or  kill a drug dealer that they have caught and tied up in their basement,and it is truly one of the best 15 mins f the show.It is scenes like this,and the shows (I hate to use this word) originality in plot and well rounded character evolution in the series that kept me watching.

Overall the show finally won me over in the last two episodes of the show,which were by far the strongest in this premier season.If anything,my expectations are even higher for season two and I am quite excited to watching Bryan Cranston acting everyone ever the table again.More Walt and Jesse scenes please!

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Currently Watching-Breaking Bad season 1

A show that has been on the radar for quite a while now,but never really been in a rush to watch.

Mild mannered,law abiding high school chemistry  teacher Walter White (played by Bryan Cranston) learns that he has an inoperable type of lung cancer and instead of letting the cancer waste him away to nothingness over the limited amount of time he has left,he decides to team up with a former student Jesse (Aaron Paul) to cook and sell crystal meth to financially secure his pregnant wife and disabled son after his death.

Expectations from the show before watching;
  • Cranston to act everyone else in the show under the table.
  • An original look at how cancer is dealt with in a television show.
  • Super tense scenes dealing with the human condition.
So Far...
I was quite surprised about how funny it is.Not Arrested Development quick gag funny,but more along the tone of Six Feet Under pitch black comedy.For Example in an episode I watched recently,Walt and Jesse have to deal with a melted down human body burning itself through the levels of Jesse's house.Bleak and Hilarious to watch at the same time.The overall tone of the show is well balanced and not too tense that it spoils the enjoyment of watching it,yet,5 episodes in and it hasn't got me rushing to watch the next episode.More on the show as I watch on.

Monday, 5 March 2012

This blog will hopefully serve as an insight to the viewing habits and borderline obsessions that I occasionally have with Films,Directors,Television Shows,Books and Comics. All i hope is that you enjoy my thoughts and feelings on said subjects as I will have writing about them.So lets set the tone...