Friday 16 June 2006

Sin City (2005) - ickleReview (cinema)

Robert Rodriguez adaptation of Frank Miller's graphic novels, which successfully captures the look and feel of comic books. Shot mainly in black and white with stark light and dark, and stylized use of primary colours. The violence is graphic and brutal without being stomach-churning; it's quite funny most of the time. The best performance is by Mickey Rourke as Marv, an ugly beast of a man who can take and give a hell of a beating, determined to avenge the murder of a prostitute called Goldie (Jaime King). The plot - in keeping with the genre - is quite episodic and appears to be three isolated storylines. In the end, however, they weave together.

Nugget: great visuals and mostly fun, although at 124 minutes it was probably 20-30 minutes too long to keep my attention throughout (yet that might have been because I was a little tired and hungry).

Monday 5 June 2006

United 93 (2006) - ickleReview (cinema)

Paul Greengrass recreation of the United Airlines flight that crashed in Pennsylvania on 11 September 2001. Tension builds slowly cutting between the hijacked plane and air traffic control centres. Tremendously exhausting to watch, but very well done. The scene of the storming of the cockpit by the passengers is particularly well shot with shaky hand-held cameras. Greengrass really captures the panic and confusion caused on the ground and in the air. It already felt like you were watching a film with the live news coverage on the day. Greengrass makes you feel like you're an eyewitness. There's no bullshitting character development. Most of them remain strangers without backstories.

Nugget: a tasteful and important film.

The Poseidon Adventure (1972) - ickleReview (TV)

Disaster movie in which a big ship capsizes in a tidal wave. Gene Hackman leads a team of survivors towards escape through the engine room in the hull. The original version of which the new Wolfgang Petersen Poseidon (2006) is a remake.

Nugget: scared me much more when I was a kid.

Thank You for Smoking (2005) - ickleReview (cinema)

Aaron Eckhart plays Nick Naylor, a lobbyist for big tobacco in this satirical comedy. He can talk his way out of anything, a sultan of spin. Very funny movie.

Nugget: go see it!

Sunday 4 June 2006

The Conversation (1974) - ickleReview (video from TV)

Francis Ford Coppola film (between The Godfather Parts I and II). Gene Hackman plays Harry Caul, a surveillance expert who works for private clients. He records a conversation in a busy public quad in San Fransicso between a man and a woman, triangulating with three different receivers and piecing the tapes together with sophisticated (for 1974) reel-to-reel audio equipment. He does not know what the conversation means, but his client, The Director (Robert Duvall) and his assistant (Harrison Ford) won't tell him. He fears, however, for the lives of the man and the woman and feels guilty for what he has done, not knowing the consequences.

Caul is a lonely man. His apartment is bare - stripped of personal possessions. He doesn't like people to know that he has a phone in case it gets tapped. His door has three locks and an alarm. He sits alone at night playing his saxophone to a backing record. He has an odd, secret relationship with a woman who seems to be stowed away in a basement apartment all day waiting for him. When she starts asking too many questions, he breaks it off. Gradually, he becomes more and more paranoid and suffers from nightmares and visions about the couple he has spied on.

The audio from that conversation is repeated throughout the film, slowly acquiring its meaning and significance. The soundtrack is crucial to the film's atmosphere - particularly that alien distortion when the mics aren't picking up the conversation properly.

Nugget: at 113 minutes this is perhaps a little too long. Uncomfortable viewing at times during Hackman's panics. Featuring the Worst Jacket in Movie History: Hackman's shapeless grey raincoat that sticks up at the back.