Movie Review – Quickie Edition IV

Balls of Fury – bwahahaha! :D Love this kind of movie that doesn’t take itself seriously at all. ★★★★

Rush Hour 3 – Can you ever go wrong with a Jackie Chan movie? Makes the first two Rush Hours look like paragons of plot complexity in comparison, but it is the same old formula and it works, by and large, for a laugh at least. ★★★

You Kill Me – I’d heard practically nothing about this movie until I saw the posters for it around London, but with Ben Kingsley and Téa Leoni (I’ve had a crush on her since Bad Boys), assassins, mafia and a darkly comic atmosphere to it all… err… well, ★★☆ anyway, and it is a bit of a different story.

Aladdin – Disney classics are infinitely rewatchable, even at this age, and Aladdin is a paragon of the genre. Robin Williams rocks in ways uncountable, and Jasmine is the Disney princess with the mostest. The story is mostly tightly paced and the animation excellent – makes you wonder why 3D is pretty much the only game in town these days. ★★★☆

The Darjeeling Limited – Slightly ponderous, but mostly thoughtful and quirky in a way that does keep your attention. I’ll pardon the fact that Darjeeling is almost directly opposite (in the east) to where the movies was shot (in Rajasthan to the west). Superb and non-exploitative. Adrien Brody wins, I think, out of the three. ★★★☆

Run Fatboy Run – Simon Pegg, need I mention, knows how to do a Brit comedy. While this one isn’t as laugh-out-loud funny as Hot Fuzz, it does have a little more of the heart-touching part to it. Pegg plays a man who runs out on his pregnant wife, and 5 years later tries to win her back from a super-competitive suitor by running a marathon – and as the title might suggest, he’s not exactly fit. Also stars Dylan Moran – need I say more? :) ★★★★

Interview – Steve Buscemi writes, directs and stars in this 80 minute pure character study alongside Sienna Miller. It’s far from action packed, but has drama aplenty as Buscemi’s down-on-his-luck journalist takes on Miller’s soap-actress-with-attitude. Feels a little dirty – a little like Buscemi just wanted an excuse to spend a few nights close-up with Miller :) ★★☆

The Shortest Day

There’s something ethereal about a low, thick fog that somehow leaves the night sky mostly clear. The halos of the street lamps contrasted with the bright moon overhead as the chill really set in.

It was the shortest day of the year, and I was walking over the Thames, thinking of how I was doing much the same thing 6 months ago on the longest day of the year, too. The contrast was a sharp one – London then seemed almost green, a neo-bohemian city which could cater to any need.

Now however, people were marching across London bridge, near identically wrapped in long dark coats, scarves and hats, hands firmly in pockets or in gloves. The trees had long since dropped their leaves, and the only green to be seen was ground-hugging. In the morning it would be coated in a layer of frost.

Behind, the lights of the city lit up parts of the fog, signalling key districts still lively as the office towers emptied. Cars rushed past nearby, leaving swirls in the fog from their wake. The idea of a white Chirstmas, of a cold end to the year, was suddenly less strange.

All those Hollywood stereotypes made sense, as the long darkness of the night and the chill wind makes you want to do nothing other than staying inside, warm and in the company of others, or perhaps just that one special other.

I’d have second thoughts about leaving here, but ultimately, the rational part of my mind spoke up again, reminding me that I had a choice, one that others who have lived here a lifetime take at the drop of a hat.

But, for a moment longer, the idea lingered, tempting.

Err

I live! Just.

Stuff has been happening, but nothing blog-worthy (or blog-able), and no ponderous thoughts have been appearing either, which leads to a general twiddling of thumbs.

So what does one do when one has nothing to discuss? One… talks about the weather. And can I just say once more, it is bloody freezing up in this joint. When the footpath is covered in a thin layer of frost-ice in the morning, and your breath mists instantly even during midday, it’s cold. When you’re walking to work at dawn and the sun sets shortly after lunch, you know it’s not exactly cheer-inducing.

The only consolation is that at least the sun can be seen – it’s not a constant grey sky with drizzling rain, as promised by the usual pattern. That is a double-edged sword though, as clear sky means colder, and with the sun holding little warmth, it’s no wonder people retreat inside at the earliest moment. I’m not sure what it means to feel warm just naturally, anymore…

Holidays coming up! woohooo~!

Movie Review: The Golden Compass

Ok, I get the idea of alternative universes. I even dig the concept of a semi-steampunk world where people’s souls are ‘outside their bodies’, and exist as anthropomorphic animals that may or may not have the ability to speak (dependent on the importance of the character). I can even follow the idea of Nicole Kidman… well, when she is dressed as fine as that, I can follow her pretty much anywhere.

But. This movie, I did not get.

Where to begin? The introduction is all of 10 seconds before we’ve zoomed into the world of Lyra, a pre-teen English child – and if you’ve any idea of English fantasy novels, you will instantly click onto the fact that this protagonist is going to be our key character.

Let’s take a moment to look at that here. What is it about the English children in English fantasy stories that make them the ones that are pivotal to everything? For some reason, they’re imbued with a sense of indestructibility and of instant disregard for order, and manage to pull off feats which would be unthinkable for the ordinary grown-up. Yes, it is fantasy, but I’m detecting a cultural pattern here.

Lyra here comes from the Harry Potter school of heroism, running off with little preparation or foresight in an effort to save the world from itself, nobly assisted by a varied cast (that includes one angry polar ice bear, of all things voiced by Ian McKellan) who rush to the child’s aid regardless of the potential cost to themselves and the stupidity of the child which got them into the situation in the first place.

But I’m not here to critique the world of English fantasy literature; The Golden Compass – adapted from Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy – is the first of three movies, although you never get that indication from the film itself, which is questionable restraint on the part of the producers, given this is nowhere near as renowned as The Lord of the Rings.

From one who hasn’t read the source material, this better be the one that establishes the characters over the plot, because if the next two lack as much exposition as this one it’s going to be a bit of a mess. The entire movie feels a little like it’s there to introduce the characters and the world, with action aplenty to keep it interesting. However, it ends up feeling like you’re skim-reading, trying to get to the good bits – it doesn’t help to explain the world and how it works, and so the menace of some of the bad guys is played down, simply because we’re not given a clear picture of why they are menacing.

Nicole Kidman has a decent amount of screen time, but Daniel Craig appears all too briefly for such an intriguing character; Eva Green too makes far too little impact. Dakota Blue Richards does well, but she is a child yet, and yet to grow into acting quite within the range demanded of her in this movie.

Overall, puzzling. It intrigued me for its setup, but with most walking out of the movie scratching their heads, its merit is questionable yet. If it improves with the second volume… who knows. Read the books, I say.

★★