What I’ve Been Watching: May 18 – May 31

Last week I failed, so here’s a 2 week long edition:

STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS (2013)

Star Trek Into Darkness (3)

“Just like with many second chapters these days the highlight is the villain and Cumberbatch doesn’t disappoint. Every moment he lingers on a screen is a moment we all wish was at least 50% longer when it’s over and for a myriad of reasons. Part of me even wishes he was just playing his version of Sherlock and I’d be happy enough, but this is probably better.”Read my full review here

BAD EDUCATION (2004)

Bad Education (1)

“The film structurally broke itself in half; just as it does out main character of Ignacio (Nacho Perez). It’s split between the story of the Ignacio as a child being abused and Angel making this movie/Ignacio’s adulthood taking his revenge. This allows for the film to be taken in two separate levels, and at the same time for it to be segmented completely.”Read my full review here

THE WIND THAT SHAKES THE BARLEY (2006)

The Wind that Shakes the Barley (2)

It won the Palm d’Or in 2006 and it kind of deserved it. A rough film about the creation of the IRA in the 1920s in order to rebel against the English oppressors the film doesn’t allow you to leave it with any light feelings.

TASTE OF CHERRY (1997)

Taste of Cherry

For the last year or so I’ve been systematically falling head over heels for Kiarostami’s filmmaking and this might be the one that made it official. With this small film of a man seeking assistance in this small task to help him be at peace after committing suicide Kiarostami is able to create an air of mystery and also intrigue into every conversation that plays out like a perfect story in itself.

THE HANGOVER PART III (2013)

The Hangover 3

Why didn’t I listen to the internet when it told me this was bad. I loved the first Hangover, I liked the second a lot, this movie barely even looks like a Hangover film if I’m being honest. While all the jokes aren’t as much of a retread it plays heavily on Chow and it just falls flat constantly. I just didn’t feel anything throughout the film. It’s boring that’s the worst thing one can say about a comedy.

THE GREAT GATSBY (2013)

The Great Gatsby (2)

“The film’s visual study of class separations is also something that I can’t help but behold. Seeing the separation between George (Jason Clarke) and Tom (Joel Edgerton), Carraway and Gatsby, and eventually Gatsby and Tom create a sense of iconography that this film will be remembered for. This is mainly due to the fact that all these moments are created completely visually. The way that Luhrmann frames George when Tom comes to visit him in the “Valley of Ashes” – a place that seems to exist just for the working ‘constructing’ class – is one that never equates them. When we see Gatsby looking down upon Carraway (a not so lower class individual) from his window; or when Gatsby and Tom finally meet knowingly of both parties we’re finally given an even shot that changes as the film reveals its own mysteries.” Read my full review here

ALL ABOUT EVE (1950)

All About Eve (3)

“Even when the film reaches its climax and we’re given this cyclical nod with Eve in her hotel room after having accepted her award with a very Margo-like demeanor; very somber and slightly disgusted with her reality it should be cliche and annoying but it works.” - Read my full review here

REWATCHED

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With not much to think about popping in The Departed gave me a lot to look at. I adore this film so much, and I loath it’s original. There’s something about the cat and mouse game of Damon and DiCaprio that I can never get enough of. I’m pleased that there probably will never be a sequel to it.

I was lucky enough to receive a review copy of one of my favourite films by Miyazaki films this past week on blu ray, My Neigbor Totoro. The film remains a visual masterpiece but somehow I felt the narrative lacking this time around. However, it remains a fantastic movie nonetheless.

Something inspired me to have a revisit of Morning Glory and Red Dragon two much maligned films for being just meh… I feel like I’m slowly agreeing with the world. Morning Glory still has enough light-hearted fun to it that I’m willing to be okay with it, but Red Dragon just felt weirdly dull to me, it’s a movie where we get to remember how fun it was to see Anthony Hopkins being a psychopathic character but now I’m just happy I can see Mads Mikelson do that on TV.

Having a TIFF remember night revisiting Cloud Atlas and Seven Psychopaths which I saw last year in Toronto was great. Both films made my Top Ten of 2012 list and they still work so well for me today. I feel I may have understated how much I adore Sam Rockwell in Seven Psychopaths previously, but his scene describing his scripted “final shootout” is just so amazingly great I can’t imagine anyone saying a bad word about this movie.

In preparation for the next chapter of the Furious Franchise (or is it the Fast Franchise?) I revisited The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift and Fast Five. Both directed by Justin Lin reminds me why these succeeded where other Fast films failed, Lin managed to make the driving sequences interesting. Lin creates visual spectacle the way that we generally like for action scenes to be grandiose and a big roller coaster ride.

Also for the sake of podcasting I rewatched Fish Story which all of you should watch.

My count for the year of 2013 is updated to 95 First time watches (24 from 2013); 79 Rewatches; 174 Total Films

Top Ten Mark Wahlberg Films

Mark Wahlberg, most affectionately called Marky Mark whenever he’s on a bad run, is an actor that over the years has been able to iron out a successful career out of a lot of mediocre performances in a lot of great films that eventually either parody him or just try their best to ignore him as much as possible. This is not to say that he’s a bad actor, but rather usually not asked to do much (for what reason we can’t truly know).

Here are my Top Ten Films that just happen to have him in it:

10. Shooter (2007) (dir. Antoine Fuqua)

Not much to say about this one. It’s pretty much the bottom of the barrel and nothing shines too brightly in this film, besides Pena‘s great supporting role. It’s a trite suspense action film through and through where the action is made boring since our protagonist is a sniper.

9. Invincible (2006) (dir. Ericson Core)

Here’s a film that I won’t spend a lot of time defending publicly but somehow just happened to watch it in the right time and settings because I totally bought into it. I’ve recently rewatched pieces on TV and been barely impressed, but I’m honestly a sucker for the underdog sports story so it deserves a mention at least.

8. The Italian Job (2003) (dir. F. Gary Gray)

It’s the remake of the 60s classic where the make it into an overdone Oceans’ Eleven remake remake instead of what it originally was, which is a ridiculous comedy with most importantly – starring Michael Caine. However, it’s still a fun adventure film with a few really fun characters, including Jason Statham before he became the untouchable action star he is now.

7. Three Kings (1999) (dir. David O. Russell)

The first of Wahlberg and Russell‘s collaborations and not even Ice Cube could ruin this film is how fun it really is. It manages to mix war into a misers tale of three soldiers out to pick up a few extra dollars before heading home.

6. The Big Hit (1998) (dir. Kirk Wong)

This is the film of Wahlberg‘s that if I was being 100% biased I would just through at the top because it’s the version of Mark Wahlberg that I at times think is my favourite. He’s the ridiculous 90s action star in a film that makes little sense and tries even less to actually do so. We get quotable lines and physical gags that work so well that once you see it you’ll never forget it. Extra points for having Lou Diamond Phillips in your movie.

See Top Five Wahlberg Films>

Double Feature Recommendation: Ghett’A Life

This weekend the latest “all Jamaican” production was released in theatres. If you’re thinking about seeing the film or interested in my take check out my review here.

However, I’d like to take a moment to rather push you in a brighter direction as it were and ask you, instead of spending your cash on a film at the cinema where the crowd is going to quite rambunctious and difficult to get along with, to stay home and see the amalgam that will give you a far superior version of Chris Browne‘s latest effort.

The story of Ghett’A Life is about a teen in the inner community who wants to become a national class boxer for Jamaica. However, along the way he has the gang violence spurred on by politics as well as a highly segregated community stopping him from fulfilling his dreams. So taking those elements, gang mentality and sporting film I’d like to propose a Martin Scorsese fueled double feature for the weekend:

 

Raging Bull (1980)

I doubt there’s a man out there willing to say a bad word about this movie. It’s one of those movies that you list when someone decides to enter your conversation and talk ill of Robert De Niro. It is one of the greatest sports films ever made, while being a biopic that I’m not sure how factual it is but seems to be quite psychologically brutal to sit through. There’s the relationship between the brothers, the husband and wife, the man and mistress and even the man and his community (which just happens to be the local mafia). If you’ve made it this far in life and missed out on this movie it’s time for you to see it.

The Departed (2008)

Here’s the remake of the Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs. While some may argue that Scorsese has done better crime films, I tried to find a movie where it evenly shows both sides working towards each other (the cops and the robbers, just like the PNP and JLP in Ghett’A Life just not as well executed). This is hands down one of my favourite Scorsese films and I doubt he’s going to surpass this level of greatness ever again.

Let me know what you think of the Double Feature.

Infernal Affairs vs. The Departed: Where The Original Is Really The Bad First Draft

One of my favourite movies of the last decade is Martin Scorsese’s The Departed. The Departed is a remake of the Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs. For the last, however long, I’ve been hearing nothing other than the usual “oh the original is better” kind of talk from everyone.

This past weekend I finally sat down to watch Infernal Affairs and all I can honestly say is that Scorsese did it better. In The Departed Scorsese took the time to actually set up these characters for us by showing us how they both ended up on the other side of the gun and for what reasons over a period of near forty-five minutes. In Infernal Affairs Chen (the role of Billy Costigan in The Departed) is undercover in a matter of less than ten minutes with a series of flashbacks, voice over and a series of quick cuts and shoddily explained back-story. The film’s setup is completely rushed and feels more and more as you go along like the entire film was made solely so that they could get to the final plot twist or I don’t know what. The film’s entire meaning was lost to me while I saw a ridiculously under-produced version of the finished product.

I’ve yet to delve into the sequels – which I intend to do in coming weeks – but somehow I feel like Hong Kong’s style of filmmaking got in the way of the movie being good. There’re things in this movie that I notice in other Hong Kong films that I feel just didn’t work in this story. One of those things is that when every so often the film wants to transition from one scene to the next the scene will end on a frame and it will linger there and a half minute later dissolves into the next scene. It’s just poor filmmaking. I know when I sit down to watch a 90s John Woo film to expect these kinds of things, but with a film as revered as this I’m disappointed.

Why The Departed works and this doesn’t has to do with the fact that The Departed takes its time and every scene which people probably thought “that’s a really cool thing for the character to do” Scorsese allowed the scene to actually fit into a fluid plot rather than just stick out and seem like we’re watching a sketch comedy short where we have to assume so much in order to get the eventual pay off.

Part of me is just mad at myself. As much as I complain about Infernal Affairs I wonder how my feelings would be different if I had actually seen it before I had seen The Departed. While I honestly feel that the remake is far superior to the original I have no way of telling if my reaction to the original would’ve been this negative at the time. With that said, that’s what I think and that’s that.

What do you think of The Departed vs. Infernal Affairs Discussion?

 

1001 Films: The Departed (2006)

This has been one of the most difficult films for me to review. It’s not that there’s not much to say, but somehow since it’s one of the few films which I’ve watched numerous times before this point of reviewing it I’m not exactly sure how to express how I truly feel about the movie without actually falling into a fit and just over and over start typing without stopping that this movie is “fucking awesome”.

When I first saw the film in 2006 I loved it, today I think it’s gotten even better. The roles of Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) are great. It’s even better when you come to the obvious realisation that there’s no difference between them. It’s just like the line that Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson) delivers early in the film, what I’m saying to you is this: when you’re facing a loaded gun, what’s the difference?”, which is completely right. Right and wrong is one of the many things which remain relative. While from an objective point of view one may frown on the sort of business that gangsters do, most of  their techniques are very similar (if not the exact same) to that of the rest of “law abiding” society.

The film takes you through a cat and mouse story of these two informants implanting themselves into opposing organizations. Sullivan is a mole for Costello who’s found himself a nice job in the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) of the Masschusetts State Police and Costigan is a mole for Capt. Queenan (Martin Sheen), from the undercover section of SIU, in Costello’s organization. The film allows for the two of them to play a game of who can find who first.

While Costigan and Sullivan play this game, we have a slew of great actors and characters that fill out their lives. Sullivan has Capt. Ellerby (Alec Baldwin) and Madolyn (Vera Farmiga), and Costigan has Staff Sgt. Dignam (Mark Wahlberg), Mr. French (Ray Winstone), Fitzy (David O’Hara) and Sean (Kevin Corrigan) which makes all the little moments work so well. Sullivan has to deceive his boss, Ellerby, that he’s being helpful to the police while at the same time being really helpful to his real boss, Costello, and also trying to find a real life with Madolyn; and when you take a look at Cotigan’s side of the coin he’s trying to deceive Costello while helping his boss, Queenan, and trying to figure out his own life since he’s lost everything worth caring about, after the death of his mother.

The film is a deep character study of these two characters and in every regard it’s great. The film succeeds at making you start to root for the bad guy and the good guy at the very same time while trying to guess what’s coming next and still surprising you when you get there. If for some reason you’ve overlooked this one, it’s time you get it out of the way and fall in love with it just like everyone else.

IMDB says 8.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes says 93%
I say 10/10