Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Three Kings

Three Kings is quite a good film. It may be Hollywood and some of the Iraq/US Government issues arise, it is important to remember that it is a movie, and should not be taken for any more than that.

I have seen Three Kings a number of times, so naturally it is in my good books as a film. A quick look at the story, and it follows 4 soldiers towards the end of the first Gulf War. They find a map to the location of stolen goods, and gold from Kuwait by Saddam Hussein. Moral issues as well as a number of engagements with Iraqi forces result in the four men in danger and one held captive.

Through being with 'the people' or 'civilians' if you like, the men learn that there is more to life than gold, silver, nice cars, diamonds, etc. That the war was affecting the people who live there. The underlying theme is 'necessity' and that all people believe, in heart, that necessity is the most important thing at any given moment in time. What ever is most necessary to them at any given moment is always the most important thing.

By the end of the film, the soldiers (after losing one to a gun shot wound) discover that what is most necessary is to help some civilians across the boarder to refugee camps in Iran. Highly moral and dignified.

My class did not believe that Americans would do such a thing, but that really shows how little any of them know about the current war in Iraq. They are blinded by the 'truth' of the media, who really are there to make money for their networks. Sure, we are taking oil, but is that not justified by the deliberate burning death and destructions of defenceless civilians in a major city and in 3 states (9/11). You're damn right it is justified! Don't you dare tell me that it is not. I seriously doubt that any of the people who treated the film as pure fact, or how Americans would like to see fact portrayed, have obviously not been to Ground Zero in New York.

One comment topped it off for me. It was when a girl, who is very naive, stated that the film Black Hawk Down is about Americans invading a country. I will now quote a character from the film:
"Now we can either help, or sit back and watch the country destroy itself on CNN." Yes there were in Somalia to help the civilians, and because peace keeper troops were killed. Around 85 of them on one day.

The girl also said that the film features soldiers laughing. INCORRECT. I have it on DVD (3 disk version), and I grantee that there is not a single iota of laughing in that film. It is very serious about the tragic loss of fellow men. Also to never leave the fallen behind.

Black Hawk Down may be loosely based on the events of Mogadishu, Somalia, 1993. Though it is far from it. Characters were made up, and the real men had the roles of OCT 3rd 1993 changed. Sgt 1st Class Eversmon was actually in the Humvee Column for that event. He was not a foot soldier. - It really does show how unfortunately ignorant and naive we Australians can actually be. Go ahead and disagree with me, but it means that you are only lying to yourself at the end of the day.

Three Kings 4stars of 5 (4/5).

Black Hawk Down 5stars of 5 (5/5).

Thankyou, and this will be my final entry for COM123 for this term.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Shrek the Third

A comical children's story that has blended together many, if not most of the fairy tails in circulation today. Very cleaver and witty that can entertain all ages.

Shrek the Third is quite obviously, the third film of the trilogy to hit our screens. I went and saw it as the film we were meant to see this week was not airing, or something like that as told by someone on the Uni forums.

I had not really enjoyed the first Shrek, but I did see the second all those years ago and I did like that one. So I was happy enough to go and see this one. I'm glad I did, as I found myself laughing from the start to end. At times it was hard to stop laughing (fly on frog eye - go see it and you'll see what I mean). The film follows the trio of Shrek, Donkey and Puss in Boots as they search for the heir to the throne of Far Far Away. Though there is an underlying plot of acceptance for Shrek. He is to become a father (sorry for those who have not seen it yet, but a bit predictable anyway). Shrek has a strong inner journey of the mind and spirit.

The gags are often slapstick and right in your face. The plot and sequences are somewhat predictable, but we all must remember that it is in fact a child's movie. Thus the purpose for the structure and themes. The characters were already established and the writers were able to introduce new side characters with ease. The largest would have to be the prince, Arthur. Played by Justin Timberlake, he was the most annoying and boring character for me, though the animation made him appear real/ believable for the audience.

My favourite character, Puss in Boots returned with the talented and sensual voice talent of Antonio Banderas. He is truly the most 'adult' character. Thus the reason for his entertaining nature. I found the film as a whole quite funny and worth watching. Though it seemed to end rather quickly. It only runs for 1hr 25mins, which makes it the shortest of the three. I felt that the writers were rushing it just a tad, and trying to get the film from pen to paper to screen far too quickly. If the film had gone on for 10 mins longer I would have a more positive reaction to it.

After all, it is an animation which really is only limited by imagination of the creators. After all the previous two films had been international hits at the box office, so funding would not have been a problem. It leaves the question as to why it was so short at the end.

I did however like what was on screen, thus making it most likely this year's most entertaining animation film. I give it 3.5 stars of 5 (3.5/5). It loses points for being too short, rushed and after all, a child's movie. Though a funny one at that.


Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Bonnie and Clyde

*** I know I have not been writing about ever film I see in class, but I prefer to write about those that I rather enjoy, rather than criticize the ones that I don’t. Bonnie and Clyde is one of the best so far.

A 1967 film about the infamous Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow - the 1930s bank robbers of the Clyde gang. The film captures the essence of their short run from the law in the 1930s depression America. The real Bonnie & Clyde were more than happy to tell strangers of their short journey and adventures together, and were not afraid to document it. This was also carried into the film.

This is an instant favourite of mine from Screen StudiesScreen Studies as it was not only in colour, but a great action adventure film. The cast works very well together and the characters of Bonnie & Clyde are played out well. The setting of the 1930s is recreated brilliantly with the film aesthetics. The continuity between the film and the real Bonnie & Clyde is also superb. Only the death scene of the duo was slightly different from that of the real Bonnie & Clyde. Yes it was an ambush set up on the road side, and yes Clyde was shot in the head (killing him instantly), but Bonnie started the car and tried to make a run for it, only to be shot a number of times, screening out in pain, then dying as the car came to a halt.

In the film, the car is parked and remains there until the end. I was a little disappointed with the method the end of the film was played out in conjunction to the real end to the duo. But overall a great film. The soundtrack was overly 'Hill-Billy' but was well paced with the number of car chases and so forth. The guns did not sound very electronic and one could almost say that they used real gun sounds (almost). Very nice indeed. The film is well paced, great action for a 1960s film, and an overall strong story with an almost abrupt end.

I give it 4.5 stars out of 5. (4.5/5). A truly great film about a real pair of bank robbers.


Monday, June 4, 2007

Copying Beethoven

The film I saw over the weekend was Copying Beethoven. A film about the musical composer of the 18th Century, Beethoven.

The film had fairly good characterisation which helped to drive the piece along and it was very visually rich that made it interesting for me. All the shots were it the right places and the sets were decorated accordingly. However, it was not a very compelling story. A kind of average film. It did feature a pretty good montage opening and had me thinking that the film was going to be somewhat spectacular, yet somewhere along the way, that hope was lost and the realisation that it was going to be a good, yet average film came into view.

The film could have been conducted better to help the story. I don't know of how I would improve it if I was the director, but something tells me that it could have been improved somehow. Ed Harris was pretty good in his role, yet it was neither thrilling nor a spectacular achievement, which is much what I think of the film.

I don't really know what else to say other than the film was good, yet fairly average. Nothing to make it stand out against others on offer of late.

3 Stars of 5. (3/5) - Straight up average score, for a fairly average film.


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

LOST Season 3 Summary

Some of you will be familiar with the American ABC TV Drama/Thriller/Mystery/Adventure series of LOST. Some of you may not. Regardless, it is quite obviously an outstanding achievement from the creators Jeffrey Lieber, J. J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof. Many people who don't watch the show, say it is too random and there is no continuous plot and so on. I believe they only think that as they did not watch it from the beginning of Season One.

What could be more exciting than a Plan crash pilot episode of a series that really does start with a shocking bang. Not to mention that the show is set on a beautiful tropical island somewhere in the south pacific (actually filmed on Hawaii). LOST has an outstanding cast and crew that continues to deliver in suspense and brilliant characterisation.

It is one of those shows where every episode needs to be watched in sequence to truly understand anything. Thus the basis of its genre basing as a Mystery and a Thriller.

I found Season Three to be the best of them all. For a start, the most was revealed out of all the series made to date. As well as a now known perspective of "The Others" in which we learnt of a number of those character's pasts and presents. A few characters have been killed off this season, but they were killed off for a purpose, not like some previous series deaths. We learn much about the island and its secrets which becomes the basis for continuing to watch the show. The island secrets are some of the most extravagant and intriguing of them all. Season Three also saw the transformation of one of the series veterans John Locke (played by Terry O'Quinn) transform into a 'bad guy' character. The series saw a far more creative and visually rich take on the series which made it all the more enjoyable.

This was probably because ABC released a greater budget to the filming of the programme in Hawaii after the first two series success.

The series has around 10 episodes to go in Australia, and that is mainly because Channel 7 continues to delay the telecast and skip the show every few weeks to really drag it out. Though it has 23 episodes this time around, so I am not entirely sure what they are trying to do out of their little experiment.

Once again, the series ends on a complete cliff hanger that posse more questions than it answers, but if you ask me, that is the best way to keep viewers watching, and to keep a programme interesting.

I look forward to the premiere of LOST Season Four in February next year. Until then, I have the entire show (Season 1 - 3) so I might go back and review all the 70 episodes that have been crafted to date.


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Lives of Others

This week's movie was The Lives of Others. I was unable to see it, but I did take notes on the classroom feedback session. Here they are:

* It was easy to recognise how people's lives change over time.
* A poor presentation of the film, it looked pirated as it was on windows movie maker.
* Very good and strong characterisation.
* A strong ending, with a good design of tracking into the future of the main character to see how their lives panned out.
* A very humain look at life.
* Great representation/ examination of how power can protect people and make them appear 'above' others.
* A fairly bland soundtrack.


Monday, May 21, 2007

French New Wave

This week we watched examples of French New Wave Cinema, and I was not impressed. In fact, I really didn't like it at all.

The example movie was Breathless , and to be quite honest - it was a disaster as a film. I tried to get into the film, but with absolutely poor editing and a very weak plot, it failed in my eyes. My first question about the film would have to be : 'Who on earth edited this???'
As it sure doesn't look like any effort was put into that aspect of the film. An example of the... ehm... 'editing' is when the lead woman is being chased by someone, and then she just happens to bump into her lover on the street. Yes, he just appears in the frame - like a genie or magician. The entire film edit looks just like this, with countless influences from 'wizards' and 'magicians' that makes this editing appear to have been crafted by an infant.

Yes I am ripping this film to shreds, but it is all I can really say. An absolute mistake for a film, and it goes on my "worst movies I've ever seen" list. probably at number 7 (of ten).

I don't think it’s really worth rating, but I give it 1star of 5. It gets one for making onto the screen and not having every copy destroyed before now.


Monday, May 14, 2007

At It Is In Heaven

The film for this week was As It Is In Heaven. An interesting film that could have been better received my myself and fellow students if the aspect ratio of the screen was better. All the characters looked stretched and almost pixelated. The whole movie experience felt a little to 'pirated' for me which is why I am not writing a positive review. Sure under better circumstances I would probably rate the film higher. But just like an in class exam that depend on your future (HSC) that if you stuff up on the date to prove yourself, then tough. So I am going to be tough on this film.

I didn't like it. The main character had too many deep seeded emotions that just kept going on and on and on. The whole film followed one sorrow to the next. it may be seen as 'life' but we don't go to the cinema to see 'life' in fact we go to get away from it. The film subtly followed a circular motion which was interesting and for me, the strongest point in the film. I did like the fact that the main character built up a profile, but it was still a bit of a let down to see him fail constantly, or circum to failure.

All up, the ending was very good. The man tries to 'fix’ the very place where he grew up and to change those who wronged him in the past. But we all know that you can't change someone, but they must do it on their own accord.

I give the film 3 stars of 5 (3/5). Technically this film was poor, but an interesting circular story of one man's life.


Thursday, May 10, 2007

Double Indemnity

A perfect example of film Noir. Double Indemnity, the instant 1944 classic is already one of my most favourite films that we have seen in class to date. I have seen the same style, plot and form reshuffled countless times in today's modern day cinema, television and even radio cereals.

This Black & White marvel is truly an outstanding achievement as a film. I was engaged from early on in the film right though to the end. It is great to look at this film, as the roots of film noir in Hollywood. You probably know what it’s about, but it can be summarised to a story about an insurance reposition man, who allows himself to be talked into a murder/insurance fraud scheme that arouses an insurance investigator's suspicions. It is told as a narration throughout the film which I rather enjoyed.

I don't know what else to say about it other than it is defining example of the film noir genre and a perfect representation of mid 1940s to 1950s cinema in America and the world abroad.

I give it 4 stars out of 5 (4/5).
- Now I am looking forward to next week's film.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Spiderman 3

I walked into the cinema not really knowing what to expect. I knew that it was to follow the previous film (which I watched on TV two nights earlier). The movie had a fairly lengthy opening scene to bring everyone up to speed, and then it got straight into it.

The first action scene between Harry and Pete was great. I loved the way that the glider became a hover board/ surf board. Very cool scene indeed. In fact the pacing of the film was great for most of it. It was around the 2/3 mark, when the film took a turn for the worse. Peter Parker became 'emo'. This turned a visually rich film with great sound effects from a 4.5 star rating, down to a 3 star film. Everyone I know can't stand the emo thing, and they could have conveyed that Pete was changing in another way, other than making him some pathetic emo.

I didn't like the character of Spiderman to begin with, so it was just more reason no to enjoy him in a film. Though the emo thing only lasted 25mins. This was okay, I guess. But the whole structure of that sequence when Pete was emo had me looking at my watch. I also believed that my favourite character 'Harry' had just been killed by Pete. Not good.

Fortunately he wasn't, and came back to the 'good' side to help Spiderman defeat the two city menaces. That was very well done. Even when Harry died at the end. His death was okay at that point in the film. It did end very nicely. But it set the film up for a sequel. I think the producers should throw in the towel and call it a day on the trilogy. A nice end to a comic book series.

All up, the film had outstanding CGI and SFX that made the film very visually rich indeed. But the plot was somewhat predictable. To the point where I could count down 5 seconds from something happening that would drastically change the sequence. It is for the great visuals and sound effects that this film makes it across the line for me. I give it 3.5 stars (3.5/5). It loses a whole star for the weak plot, and the fact that Spiderman didn't die at the end.

Now that I have finished the review. I just want to mention that the actor who plays 'Harry' James Franco, looks an awful lot like James Dean. Don't you think? Not to mention that James Franco played Dean in a TV movie in 2001. Here are two images of them both. Try and guess who is who.