Archive for February, 2010

Okay you cunts let’s see what you can do now!

February 23, 2010

Tuesday 23rd February 2010

Kick-Ass (2010)

Before you ask, yes – the rather crude line you read above was exclaimed by the cute as a button 11 year old Mindy (AKA Hit Girl) you see above you. Shortly before she brutally massacres a room full of gangsters. I’m talking decapitations, limbs flying all over the shot.

It was, to be quite frank, fucking brilliant.

Yes it’s questionable that we should be take such enjoyment from the sight of such a young girl exclaiming the worst of all profanities and performing such acts of violence (and lets be honest, what comes out of her mouth is literally nothing compared to what she does with her feet and fists). And sure its kind of sad when you think that it wasn’t that long ago that you’d never in a million years hear ‘the c-word’ in a picture – I even blush at writing it here – but now it comes out of the mouth of a sweet 11 year old girl (actually played by 13 year old Chloë Moretz – not that it makes a difference). But hell this is a comic book movie, its OTT, it pushes the boundaries of believability, and actually – and I wasn’t even going to go here – but a reasonable number of 11 year old girls these days probably do say such things and worse. Hopefully, they don’t chop people up with ninja swords and shoot the crap out of people but like I say, we’re pushing the boundaries of believability here.

Lets be honest Hit Girl completely stole the show, and in my eyes is one of the most brilliantly enjoyable characters ever commited to celluloid. I’m almost 30 and I feel like I want to plaster my walls with Hit Girl posters. One way or another everyone is going to be talking about her. The Daily Mail will no doubt have a few things to say about her and I seriously worry about the movie’s potential in the more conservatively minded US of A because of her role, but maybe the world will surprise us all. One things for sure – everyone in the packed out Odeon Leicester Square screening I was in were going nuts for Hit Girl. She literally got about three ovations as the film progressed and many more belly laughs. Not because its cute to see a young girl swear and hurt people, but because she was a perfectly crafted, cool as a cucumber character. She was brilliantly written and, for such a young actress with such a demanding role, absolutley brilliantly performed. This was a truly career defining role and Moretz barely seems to break sweat, totally knocking it out of the park. I truly hope her career goes from strength to strength and doesn’t go tits up like so many child actors. Decent turns already in 500 Days Of Summer and Not Forgotten suggest that hopefully she’s got what it takes.

I don’t want to spend the whole time rabbiting on about Hit Girl and Chloë Moretz though. Aaron Johnson (Dave Lizewski / Kick Ass), Nicholas Cage (Damon Macready / Big Daddy), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Chris D’Amico / Red Mist), Clarke Duke (Marty) all performed their roles near-perfectly. Nick Cage’s apparently ad-libbed Adam West take on Big Daddy was hilarious, and this was a role that almost made me forget Ghost Rider and that sickmaking moment when he exclaimed ‘Let’s Ride’ in the latter film.

On the subject of comic books, the fact that I haven’t even mentioned the original Mark Millar comic yet, surely says something of what high regard I hold this film in. Yes comic book adapatations are rarely great, but this one arguably even surpasses the comic. (Am I being to effusive enough with my praise here?) I think the fact that the film gestated roughly at the same time as the comic, and that the script for the film was written before the comic had even completed its initial run certainly helped. The film takes all the best bits of the comic – the nice post-modern touches and the harshly brilliant violence – and fleshes them out and basically runs wild them. So bowled over was I with the strength of the adaptation that I almost approached screenwriter Jane Goldman, who was sat behind me with husband Jonathan Ross and family, and gushed forth with praise. I managed to maintain my composure though.

Bottom line is I left the film completely overcome with childish glee. There are so many moments when you just want to pump your fists in the air and scream YES YES YES over and over. I spoke a lot recently of experiencing a similar sort of childish glee after seeing Avatar on 3D Imax – that kind of feeling that you just don’t get that often at the cinema as an adult. Imax Avatar was cinema as spectacle and I loved the cinematic experience of it all, but as so many people have commented the plotline of Avatar was nothing short of warmed up Disney. Kick-Ass on the other hand was the complete package – a lesson, if you will, in how all blockbusters really should be made. It had everything – the acting, the characters, the writing, the laughs, the action scenes (Jeeesus – the action scenes! We’re talking John Woo-esque mind blowing stuff here). Bare in mind also this was a pretty much independently funded film done outside the studio system – (lets be honest – no studio would have allowed Matthew Vaughn such freedom). Hopefully if this film is the success it truly deserves to be, it will give studios and producers a much needed kick up the ass when it comes to making event pictures. Making a blockbuster doesn’t necessarily have to mean leaving originality and any sense of tangible storyline at the door. Shock bloody horror!

It really is hard for me to be so effusive with my praise. Those who know me, will know I’m a tough marker and a tough man to please when it come to cinema. But as joyous, thrill-riding, shit-kicking, smiling from ear to ear cinema goes Kick-Ass well… kicks ass. Kicks every kind of ass. Everywhere. Ever.

And if you need any more convincing – about a third of the way through the movie, in one of the comic book store scenes you can see in the backround a lanky dude wearing a backback lumbering along the pavement outside the window of the store. And that my friends, is your humble writer, and how proud I am to be part of such a fantastic film (albeit quite possibly the smallest part ever). This time next year…

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Keep living no matter how tough it is.

February 12, 2010

11th February 2010

Ddongpari (aka Breathless) (2009) and Invictus (2009)

*CONTAINS SPOILERS*

There really are not many better experiences in life as I see it as those moments when you’re watching a movie (or listening to a record, reading a book – whatever for that matter) and suddenly it just washes over you that you’re experiencing a work of brathtaking genius. It happens rarely, especially – in my opinion – in contemporary cinema. But for me I think it may have happened this evening with Ddongpari. Its a brutally harrowing piece of work in which the audience is essentially asked to ally their sympathies with a man – Sang-Hoon –  who routinely labels everyone c u n ts and beats on all and sundry including young women. I loved that we were dumped with this guy as the anti-hero, because you’d never in a milllion years see the same thing in Hollywood. Sang-Hoon sure is a nasty piece of work, but sure enough come the end of the film I found myself heartbroken at his demise. Not least because of the film’s fundamental motif that life and all its inherent pain and nastiness is ultimately cyclical. This is tempered somewhat by the hope of redemption that we are offered at the end and the coming together of one family, and hopefully the end of a grim cycle. It is of course with sadness that we realise that it is only Sang-Hoon’s death that allows this cycle to be broken. But the manner of Sang-Hoon’s death only passes the cycle from one family to another. Thus the repetition spreads like a societal disease.

The pre-destined doomed nature of the film really gave it air of a Greek or Shakespearean tragedy. And it made me wonder why it is that most Korean films I have seen seem to be so doom-laden.  I don’t claim to know much about South Korean society, nor have I really seen enough Korean cinema to make such sweeping generalistaions, but there just seems to be a certain bleakness that permeates the cinema. Saying that, the last film I enjoyed as much as Ddongpari was Angela Arnold’s Fish Tank which along with her previous effort Red Road are not short of bleakness themselves and they we’re shot right on my doorstep here in the UK. Maybe it’s just me that craves such harrowing cinema!

I followed this by catching Clint Eastwood’s Invictus. Only really because I want as ever to do the full sweep of the Oscar noms, and also because I have my monthly pass to the Genesis. In other words I wasn’t otherwise especially drawn to the film. Obviously the end of apartheid in South Africa was a wonderful thing and the symbolic resonance for a divided nation that the  Springbok Rugby World Cup win represented was all well and good. But as for the tone of this film I found the societal comments  really rather too sickly to handle. And like with most sports movies you got the goosebumps at certain points but I found the rugby bits of the film, some of which were very long, about as stimulating as I find rugby in general. i.e. not in the slightest. Its not a real game and I have no time for it whatsoever. They don’t even use a proper shaped ball.

Oh and considering Morgan Freeman seems to have coveted the role of Nelson Mandela half his life I felt he actually completely dialled in that performance. Oscar winning it was not.


Prison – it is fascinating

February 5, 2010

Thursday 4th February 2010

Une Prophète (2009)

Trying to get back into the habit of writing a blog. Especially now everyone seems to be doing so. Went to see Une Prophète tonight at the Gen. It wasn’t prefect but it was very good. Slightly over complicated and ever so slightly overlong but pretty pretty good. Tahar Rahim is brilliant as Malik – a young illiterate criminal who manages to climb his way almost to the top of the pecking order…. blah blah I can’t be bothered to explain the plot of the film – I’m tired and really you should just go and see the film yourself. Rather than listen to my reasons why you should – but then what is the point in me writing this blog at all. I don’t know.

Above all the film just indulged my latent fascination for prison and my wish that maybe in another life I might be a misunderstood bad guy. I know exactly what I’d do to get by if I ever found myself in prison. On the first day in the yard I take out the biggest and baddest sucker in the yard. Everyone else will either think I’m completely badass or completely mental – either way they’d probably steer out of my way. I wonder if you could do a prison fantasy camp? I’d be all over that. Like if you could spend say two weeks in prison, experiencing all the cool stuff like gang fights, the hole, shivvings and what not, but none of the rapey stuff.

I’m obviously just far to easily influenced by anything and everything that I consume. When I watch detective movies I want to be a detective – but really nothing is cooler than being a proper criminal. And I’ve just watched a cool criminal at work and I want to be just like him. Not a shoplifting crack addict mugging old ladies, but a proper high class career criminal taking down scores…

Jeez I’m starting to sound like Danny Dyer. This is probably the least intelligent blog entry I’ve ever made. I’ll instead leave it to the experts, from the greatest crime movie ever made:

Vincent Hanna: So you never wanted a regular type life?
Neil McCauley: What the fuck is that? Barbeques and ballgames?