Monthly Archives: January 2015

Big Hero 6 – Review

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by David Roberts

Out at the end of this month is the Disney film which also happens to be a Marvel comic but isn’t part of the MCU. Big Hero 6 features the voices of Ryan Potter, Scott Adsit, Daniel Henney, T.J miller, Jamie Chung, Damon Wayans. Jr., Genesis Rodriguez, Maya Rudolph and James Cromwell. It’s cute, heartwarming and hilarious just like you would expect from Disney at this point and is the 54th Disney Animation film. Big Hero 6 and is preceded by a Pixar short called Feast which is equally as satisfying and is almost unbearably sweet and enjoyable. It’s almost worth going to see Big Hero 6 just for Feast. Fortunately BH6 is also amazing by itself.

Feast

Feast is a Pixar short about a man and his Boston terrier Winston. Though it’s more about Winston and food. The relationship between Winston and his owner is very exciting for the tiny dog as he is giving increasingly lovely amounts of unhealthy but great food, like bacon, eggs, burgers, cupcakes and meatballs. They are best friends so much so that he gets promoted to having his own seat at the table. Suddenly though Winston finds a new person in the house, and Winston is back to the floor eating just vegetables and dried dog food with parsley on top. A few months pass and everything goes back to normal and the lady owner is gone. Though Winston realises that his owner is upset and decides to do something about it.

It’s fair to say that I smiled so wide that the top half of my head slid off and into my popcorn, it is such a sweet and lovely story you would be hard pressed not to cry with joy while watching it. Even just because you are becoming more aware that your metabolism is slipping away and there was a time when you could once enjoy that much food without having to apologise to yourself and everyone around you.

Big Hero 6

Based in the alternate timeline of the world where Japan has rebuilt San Francisco after a major earthquake in 1906, San Fransokyo is home to a boy genius and scamp called Hiro.. A bit like a Tony Stark for the under tens he has a passion for robot fights, hustling and gambling. Hiro introduces himself as a force to be reckoned with when it comes to robotics and AI by destroying a professional robot fighters prized bot. His brother Tadashi convinces him to visit the school he himself spends time at to encourage Hiro to do something more useful with his skills in engineering than upsetting people who are definitely killing children at some point.

Slightly suspicious that the school will be loads of people sitting around learning things he already knows he becomes reticent, but pops in for a wee nosey and gets addicted. Everyone in the room is developing something amazing and he wants the opportunity to do that, particularly after meeting Baymax, his brothers huggable paramedic robot. You won’t be able to sit for very long before you start to imagine what it would be like to hug it. The 3d Effects of the following scene in the Convention of Clever People are really sharp, I felt like I was really there in the animated glorious room for the first time since using 3d, though I had been travelling since 7am and was possibly hallucinating slightly from sleep depravation.

The convention is also an audition to get into the school and Hiro arrives with what promises to be an incredible breakthrough in robotics, making at least a few people very eager to make use of him. Moments later the school explodes killing a member of the class. After this it becomes somewhat of a revenge story featuring a collection of fun lovable college age kids as superheroes. Fred who I refer to as Freddy Fourth Wall, is very enthusiastic about being in an origin story and a revenge plot line and assists with the creation of the team, which I assume is Big Hero 6, because there is 6 of them now.

The film is incredibly well written, heartwarming without being cringe inspiring, it is a film abut dealing with grief and morals and some pretty heavy things for a children’s film while at the same time being light hearted and hilarious. I had tears streaming from my face at points, as Baymax’s diligence and love of his job allows him to be lovable and funny without resorting to giving him too much of a human personality, Scott Adsit absolutely nails this character. The ‘low battery’ version of Baymax is one of the funniest and well acted things I’ve seen in an animated film and I’ve watched more than 3 of them. Baymax’s relentless helpfulness really makes his character an innocent in the whole thing and you could be forgiven for feeling like he was being manipulated in some way. Normally this would be were I would say “On the downside…” but I really can’t think of anything about Big Hero 6 that I didn’t love and I absolutely suggest that you go and see it with anyone who will go.

Metropolis – Dmytro Morykit – Review

MDM

by David Roberts

Back in 1927 when the world was black and white, less people knew who Hitler was, most people could remember Oscar Wilde dying and films were starting to gain traction as a popular art form. A standard had been realised and experimentation had begun both with plot and with cinematography. A German film maker called Fritz Lang had had so much success with Metropolis that he had been hand picked by Hitler to spear head his propaganda campaigns (which he declined while running away to France understandably). Metropolis is rumoured to be Hitlers favourite film, it could be of course because of the amount of control and the leader in this film had over the public. The lead actress, Brigitte Helm, didn’t like to be associated with the film, but when you’re Hitler’s favourite actress from about 1938 onwards you’ll probably not want to brag about that.
Fritz Lang decided to Metropolis and it was ground breaking achievement. Now it’s hard to understand why this film was so important if you watch it after the matrix for example or some more up to date reference, but I’ve been watching nothing but silent movies for the past month, so I was very excited to it as it is said to be the world’s first feature length sci-fi film.

Metropolis is based in a dystopian future, and within seconds of its first scene it has Orwell, Aushwitz and Bioshock plastered all over it which is odd since these things all happened a long time afterwards. The film, which I’ll get to, is only half the reason I was in the crescent art centre this evening. The main half is a man who has decided for whatever reason to write and arrange an incredible new soundtrack for the film. Coming in at approx 2 hours Dmytro Morykit brings the film to life in a haunting and engaging fashion. Despite sitting perfectly lit and only feet from the cinema screen Dmytro Morykit somehow blends into the background while still lifting you and leading you through the sinister Metropolis that gave the film its name. Many people have done versions of this including Adam and and Freddy Mercury and this relatively modest musician has written a beautiful work that sits comfortably amongst gods. If you are in the future reading this and Dmytro has become a multi billionaire and is now living in the moon I suggest you get the dvd and Spotify this one. Press play at the same time on both just like with the dark side of the moon and the wizard of Oz you crazy stoners. Assuming you can still get Spotify and it hasn’t been replaced by something else. Like your favourite albums being released in healthy gluten free food or something.
Despite the hiccups and technical difficulties at the beginning the first half of the film before the intermission was very interesting, really capturing the mood and somehow the feeling of the future through the eyes of people in the past. For me the Tango Tease is one of the best things that Dmytro did, and the particular night I saw him the second half, he was for want of a better phrase, on fire. Even now listening back to the music I enjoyed that night it is perfectly listenable and beautifully played but on the night I forgot where I was and was just floating on a cloud, and I’m not sure if you’ve ever tried to watch a silent movie but most of them don’t as much grab your attention as they are a visual lullaby that was probably awesome at the time. A lot of the tracks are reimaginings of his own early compositions that have now found a home in Metropolis and some were freshly written for this project and it is incredible start to finish.

Dmytro is playing in the Waterside Theatre on the 20th January 2015 and then he is back to London.

American Sniper – Review

Second Tier American Sniper

by David Roberts

I’ve just been let out of a press screening of American Sniper. It stars Bradley Cooper and was directed by Clint Eastwood. It based on the life of Chris Kyle the deadliest sniper in American history, and is a very powerful, very difficult to think about film. I didn’t really enjoy it, but I also can’t say that it wasn’t a good film. It has upset liberals everywhere and caused many right wingers to don their ‘America Fuck Yeah!’ t-shirts without a shred of irony. Is the film worthy of it’s praise or criticisms…it’s hard to tell for either.

The film begins with Chris (Cooper) coming home to find his girlfriend enveloping some naked man that Chris is instantly sharp enough to notice isn’t himself. So he kicks her out and a flash back ensues to show that he was raised. His father makes it clear that there are three types of people in the world people who do what they are told and get pushed around and are bred for their wool (Sheep), people who attack or take advantage of the sheep and dress up as grandmothers to trick little girls (Wolves) and finally sheepdogs who have the purpose of protecting the sheep from the wolves. He is also told to always be a sheepdog. Up until the point of the terrorist attacks on US embassies Chris has been a rodeo cowboy but decides to enlist to become a Navy Seal.

The film soon becomes about Chris becoming the best sniper there ever was plus a deterioration of his personality as he becomes more jaded and destoryed by having to decide wether not shoot children who are holding dangerous weapons. The effect it has on his family is very obvious and detrimental, as Chris is constantly on edge about keeping his family protected from what he’s had to see while at the same time wondering how everyone can just walk about as if nothing is happening while there are such dangerous people out there killing al his friends. The first negative thing I can say about the film is that there is absolutely no attention given to character development, while in films like Boyhood there was always implied growth between scenes there was very little personality in the characters in the film. However it’s also very possible that my inability to connect with his wife and his friends, and therefore not really care when they died, is the point. Maybe it was over shot a wee bit, but maybe the fact that he barely knew his family and friends was worse, knowing again that this was a collection of, apparently very accurately told, true events.

The liberal part of my brain sees an American Sniper shooting all the brown people that he can, the film has depicted every single person of the Islamic culture as either being terrorists, or related to a terrorists plot. Someone’s hiding weapons, someone gives a wee call to someone to tell I’m in arabic to kill everyone in sight, and the real scary bad guy is depicted as a bond villain, with no reason to live other than to be evil. It also is stated at some point that though Chris has killed over 160 people that he didn’t feel bad about any of them and he just wished he’d killed more.

On the other side it is a war zone and has been evacuated, of course everyone here is going to part of an insurgence. The religious extremists are more upset about the children getting killed before they can kill the americans than they are about the children getting killed. And yeah if someone is running towards group of your friends with a bomb, or trying to drill a hole through your son’s head it doesn’t matter if the government just want oil or what have you, those are your friends and you have a gun.

Some people have been very upset about the divide on this and part of me wanted to be more annoyed because I knew that I would not be able to do that mans job even if it was absolutely necessary. Sienna Miller who plays the wife of Chris in the film has said that she hasn’t heard much of the criticism but even Mother Teresa could be criticised by somebody.

Get a copy of Hitchens’ book here

Now I’m sure she meant even the most innocent of people could be criticized and not even this lying, money laundering crook specifically.

How ever you look at it this is a great film, Bradley Cooper was excellent, you could barely recognise him, the film is powerful and like it or not it will leave you feeling extremely strange somehow. The photographs of the real Chris Kyle’s funeral during the credits followed by complete silence really reminded me of leaving a funeral and was haunting. It made me want to kick and punch and scream about how horrible the world is and that it isn’t fair but I just slunk off home quietly and confused. Then got caught in torrential rain and was more concerned about the hole in my boot that I’d just discovered.

4/5 – which is amazing for a film that I don’t think I enjoyed.

Whiplash – Review

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by David Roberts

Dugga dugga dush. Dugga dugga dush dush. Dugga gudda dush. Out this week is Whiplash, a new film by Damien Chazelle, a relatively new kid on the woodblock. The film stars Miles Teller as a jazz drummer who, as a student at the best music school in the country, finds himself falling under the tutelage of Mr. Fletcher played by J.K Simmons in disguise as Max Shreck in Nosferatu. Also starring Paul Reiser, Melissa Benoist, Austin Stowell, Jayson Blair, and Kavita Patil Whiplash is a a film about motivation, talent and skill that will flay you emotionally and have you coming back for more.

Andrew Neiman (Teller) is, and always has been obsessed with drumming, learning to control his paradiddling before he learned to control his pant piddling and has ended up being accepted into the finest music school in the United States. The finest music school in the world has got one of the most dangerous but effective teachers with a habit for verbal and physical abuse, he’s a sociopath but picky and this makes people very determined to get his attention. The relationship Neiman has with his teacher looks optimistic as Fletcher promises to star in this film as a musical Mr. Miyagi but ends up being more of a percussive Pai Mei, beating his students within a inch of their self esteem, sometimes pushing them too far but always getting the best out of them.

Whiplash is an unrelenting film that explores a very real dark side to the world of music while also demonstrating the kinds of sociopathic perfectionism people can expect of themselves and others. It’s fair to say, I think, that anyone that has ever been serious about learning an instrument has had a Mr. Fletcher in the back of their mind telling them to ignore their friends, their family, attractive members of their preferred gender until they get this picking technique, or arpeggio perfect. Or until they’ve learned to sight read in just one summer while also trying to teach themselves circular breathing so they can master the didgeridoo only to find out they didgerican’t and are found in a cupboard weeping atonal squeaks through an ocarina.

There isn’t a moment in the film wherein you feel you can relax, like someone at the hands of an abusive lover I could feel myself enduring the pain for those moments where Fletcher does something nice and tells Neiman how awesome he was at that very moment, without being able to enjoy a single breath of the positive moments because you know that Fletcher is going to come back to ruin everything. Fletcher could easily be a metaphor for a dangerous drug, as you watch Neiman sacrifice his life for increasingly smaller amounts of praise, you see him taking bigger risks to not lose it, knowing that it’s always slipping away.

If I was to say anything negative about it, it would be that the two main characters though effortlessly and flawlessly presented by Teller and Simmons, are slightly unbelievable, but that’s not to say I haven’t met some shockingly unbelievable characters in real life, a good number of which were musicians in one way or another. While celebrating jazz and the single minded drive that some people get for mastery, Whiplash has floored me, which is hard to do now, and it’s fair to say that when the Oscars come around that at least one of them will have J.K Simmons written on it. It also feels necessary to remind you that this is Chazelle’s second film, and most writers and directors will get nowhere as close to a masterpiece in their whole career.

I give Whiplash 5/4 at 150 bpm

Wild – Review

wild-reese-witherspoon

by David Roberts

We are in the middle of a season wherein films that are made to win Oscars are everywhere. Wild is a film starring Reese Witherspoon that is unrelentingly oscar winning material. It contains heroin, mental disability, a sad animal plot line, death of a family member, artistically shot sex scenes and casual but non tacky nudity, someone finding themselves, divorce and everything else you expect from an oscar nominee, which at the time of writing I am merely speculating on. As is often the case, the trailer heavily undersells it, get a group of your best friends and go to your cinema like some Dawn of the Dead zombies at a near by mall until they let you in to watch it.

Cheryl Strayed (Witherspoon) has decided, for whatever reason, to walk the width of the United States of America, known as the Pacific Crest Trail or PCT. Seemingly trying to find herself she organises an appalling amount of luggage and walks. Don’t worry if it seems that a film about someone walking one thousand miles like this will be boring and tedious, as Peter Jackson has made about seven billion dollars making films like this with significantly less believable characterisation. It was a strong character driven film and seeing as at least three of the characters were the same woman you are left feeling like you have walked a thousand miles with her, less tired but equally as disorientated. I was left feeling that my life was not as interesting as it was when I went in but also a lovely feeling that comes from knowing that my mother is still alive.

The opening scene is none other than my worst nightmare, which is Cheryl ripping off her own toenail, at this point I raised both my hands to my face, turned thirty degrees to my right and squealed like a young boy who had an earthworm put down his shirt. Unfortunately I then ran screaming from the cinema.

The trail that she walked is a beautiful vast landscape displayed at various degrees of weathering, it seemed odd that it wasn’t focused on very much, but in hindsight I’ve realised that it was a brave attempt at making the film about the character and not taking the easy way out by making the audience go ‘Oooh’ every time Cheryl crossed the street. The film was subtly stylised in a way that you would normally associate with a dream sequence or flash back, and considering that the event is a story that is being told by someone this is perfectly executed.

The camera doesn’t notice the beautiful backdrops until Cheryl does, so you don’t get to stop and smell the roses until she stops. The nano flash backs that get triggered every now and then flash up on screen like someone dropping a box of old photographs, gradually slow down until they are properly fleshed out memories that she can deal with one at a time. This gives the film the feeling of a meditation, as if Cheryl is gradually tidying her thoughts and getting to know how it is she feels about her mothers death and her divorce and Mexican food.

I feel this film could be analysed and dissected until every second of it was understood and assessed, but simply watching it is like meditating, but having someone aggressively meditate at you. I felt Cheryl’s fear every time a male character came out’ve nowhere, I basically accused them of being rapists which is sexist against at least men and probably women, but I think that cancels out somehow. It is an appallingly good film and you should go and watch it before all the Academy Award accolade’s appear on the box that will put you off. It’s very intelligent and beautiful and will definitely cause you to think about your life as I was talking about it for hours after it was over. It is Reese Witherspoon’s finest work, best thing she’s done since Walk The Line and I would be surprised if she doesn’t become a lot of people’s new favourite actress.

You are more intelligent than your friends are, you know it and I know it, so go and see this before it’s cool and you can continue to feel that way.

For all the Britain First followers on Facebook, there is boobies in it also, that should keep you entertained, I think they might even be able to offer you something to colour in at the cinema also. Though there are many different coloured pencils all mixed in together, which I know you would all hate if you could read this.

I’m going to be so bold as to give it a 5/5

Taken 3 or Tak3n – Review

taken3

by David Roberts

Fulfilling the seemingly endless prophecy that a film isn’t a film until it is three increasingly tedious films is Taken 3, Tak3n or as all the cool kids are calling it Tak Threen. Liam Neeson is back as the man with the worlds longest catchphrase! This film is not good, that’s the short version for the long version keep reading. Written by Luc Besson a man who was once awesome and is increasingly becoming Michael Bay with the special effects Tak3n out. Tak3n is to Taken what Brick Mansions was to District 13. A handful of reasons to stop letting Luc Besson do anything ever again.

The film begins the same way these films always begin, with Liam Neeson going to see his daughter Kim and bringing her something or saying something that acts as a cute reminder of how out of touch he is as a parent. Dressed as somebody’s dad Neeson arrives at Kim’s door with a stuffed panda which she doesn’t take the time to appreciate because she has just Tak3n a pregnancy test stick and has lost one life. The first thing that comes to my attention is that they have misunderstood why people enjoyed the first one and actually believe that we were interested in the plot. There must be about forty minutes before a fight happens or a gun shot is fired and it is nothing but fast cuts and implied action from there on in. The thing that is Tak3n in this film is the life of the wife from the previous two films and Neeson has been framed for it.

It’s very possible that they tried to do their own version of Gone Girl (one of the years best films) but have instead made their own version of every action cliché ever. I assume the film script reads (action film)2 = (action film trope)2 + (action scene)2. The pythagorus’s theorum of tedious script writing shows that in this case the hypotenuse is a big streak of foul smelling morning pee all over what was a fantastic stand alone film.

After realising he has been framed he escapes and grabs a phone and calls his daughter and gives a short speech that sounds like a man with acute memory loss trying to remember the cool speech from the first film. Something to the effect of

“Hey Kim. Don’t worry everything’s ok. Well it isn’t your mum’s been murdered but don’t worry. I don’t know who these people are, I don’t know where they are, but I will find them and I will leave their milk out till it goes all lumpy”

The camera angles for the few fight scenes contained in the film focus on the expressions of the faces of the men involved avoiding any attention to the interesting bits, clearly pandering for a lower age rating. It’s fair to say that by trying to make a film about murder, revenge, guns and martial arts without showing any violence would be hard to do well, and this film perfectly illustrates what happens if you don’t know what you’re doing. There haven’t been that many films that I’ve seen wherein people have laughed at what were intended to be tense moments but this is the second one and not even the last king of Scotland could save it.

The film is nothing more than a parody of Taken, where the original had fluid hand to hand combat, perfectly constructed drama and balanced intensity Tak3n has soiled the memory of the original and I can’t forgive it for Tak3n that away from me (that last one’s ok because of my accent.)

2/5 at a push. Tak3n the piss.