Saturday, August 23, 2014

Film Review - The Thomas Crown Affair (1999)

A remake of the 1968 film which starred Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway (who also appears in this remake) and directed by John McTiernan, the story here sees Thomas Crown (Pierce Brosnan) hijacking a priceless Monet painting said to be worth 100 million dollars which catches the eye of the Insurance Officer assigned to the case named Catherine Banning played by Rene Russo.

I really had fun with this version of Thomas Crown and there are three people responsible for this:

- The first is John McTiernan himself and he is clearly having a ball here as he keeps a very firm hand on the whip and gives the film a real sense of movement and as a result there isn't a wasted frame of film here at all and it's nice to see him cut loose like this in the way that he did in Predator, Die Hard and the Hunt for Red October and it's a big big shame Brosnan didn't recruit him to direct Die Another Day as I can only imagine how much better that film might have been with a proper action director in the captains chair.

- Speaking of Brosnan, he is the 2nd reason this film works very well as he is so smooth and slick and charming here that I couldn't help but think "Why didn't the post Goldeneye James Bond films he made capture this quality" as the post GE Bond films just saw him going through the motions whereas here he gives a great performance.

- And lastly I have to talk about Russo who is just wonderful in this role and just with a few facial expressions gives you so much in terms of how her character is feeling in that particular moment and she is also every inch Brosnan's equal in the mind games the two characters play with each other, it was such a shame to see her so criminally wasted in the recent Thor movies.

Sadly however the film's second half is not as strong as the first and at times it gets a little convoluted and lost in itself in terms of what is going on and although it wraps itself up well a part of me would have liked a more clear cut way there.

But hey that's only a quibble compared to the fun on show here and fun I had whilst watching it, 3 out of 5.

Film Review - The Player (1992)

The Player is directed by Robert Altman and stars Tim Robbins and Griffin Mill, a Hollywood studio executive who hears a lot of story pitches but one day he is sent a Postcard that says "In the Name of All Writers, I'm Going to Kill You" which sends Griffin mad as Hell and determined to find who is responsible.

The Player is simply terrific stuff and I just loved sitting there watching it unfold, Robbins is superb as Mill and along with his work on the Shawshank Redemption and Jacobs Ladder he proves that he can be one of the best actors going around, I also really loved the performances by Peter Gallagher and Brion James as two of the other studio execs as well as by Vincent D'Onofrio as a frustrated writer and Whoopi Goldberg as a Pasadena detective.

But I have to also talk about the script by Michael Tolkin and on who's novel this is based as it is incredibly clever in its mixture of satire and insight and I wonder if Altman's long experience as a director up to that point helped him as well as while I was watching this film I started wondering "I wonder if that is how it really goes down as it would feel right if it did" plus there are some fantastic cameos that really made me laugh.

So yeah I had a big smile on my face watching the Player and any film fan owes it to themselves to check it out, 5 out of 5.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Film Review - The Hundred Foot Journey (2014)

The Hundred Foot Journey is the tale of an Indian family who leave Mumbai to make a new life for themselves in France near a Village, one day they come across an abandoned area that they believe is perfect to build an Indian restaurant, the only problem is the French restaurant across the road led by Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren.)

I don't have an awful lot to say about this movie but I will say that it is nicely charming in its own way and not too dark in its tone to put off some viewers, Mirren is her usual likeable self despite the bitchy French accent and Om Puri is very good here as the Indian Papa and the bickering between the two provides a lot of the film's best laughs.

I also enjoyed the performance by Charlotte Le Bon as another French Chef though one word of warning is that do not see this movie on an empty stomach as during it you will be hungry and will also want a big lunch afterwards.

So that is all on the Hundred Foot Journey, it does what it says on the box, Mirren and Puri are fun and it's a light hearted feel good film that will also make you want to eat afterwards, 3 out of 5.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

On the Air Episode 2: GOOOOOD MORNING GALAXY!

GOOOOOD MORNING GALAXY!

That is the title I have given my 2nd Radio show which I pre recorded last week and went to air on ABC South East SA last Friday.

In it I talked about:

- Remembering Robin Williams and Lauren Bacall
- And So it Goes
- Lucy
- Guardians of the Galaxy

As with the 1st episode to listen to it right click on it and Save to your Computer, enjoy.

http://blogs.abc.net.au/sa/2014/08/friday-flicks-with-simon-waite.html?site=southeastsa&program=south_east_mornings

Friday, August 15, 2014

Film Review - Expendables 3 (2014)

Expendables 3 is the third film in the series and again stars Sylvester Stallone as Barney Ross and this time he comes up against an old enemy named Stonebanks (Mel Gibson) who may well be the deadliest enemy the Expendables come across as well as their most personal.

I have to confess sitting in the Comfy Chair that I was kind of looking forward to this movie primarily because I like the old school 1980s Action film probably more than I do the Superhero stuff we've gotten a lot of recently and also the addition of Gibson to the cast as I always like seeing him on screen despite his off screen problems in recent years, did this one shoot its way to victory or die fighting the good fight?

Well to be honest I thought the film was pretty average, don't get me wrong it's not horrible by any means of the imagination but nor is it that great burst of old school Action filmmaking that the first Taken with Liam Neeson was or the 2012 Judge Dredd reboot with Karl Urban both films I think recall that era a lot better than this series does and this one returns to the style and tone of the first film which is more Stallone driven than the second film which had a very fast moving plot and a terrific climax whereas here like in the first film there are a fair few slow parts and the action climax isn't very exciting and runs on a little too long.

Another problem this film has is its villain and despite Gibson's absolute best efforts and he looks in great shape for the role which prompted the natural question "Why did you turn down Mad Max 4?" he doesn't really get an awful lot to do here apart from smile and scheme and punch and kick and frankly another action star could've easily filled his boots in that role, Harrison Ford also gets very little to do when he like Gibson should've been a very exciting addition to this series.

And thinking about that makes me sad somewhat as rumours have surfaced that the Highlander himself Christopher Lambert may be joining this series in a future instalment and I can only hope and pray that he gets a meaty role as Connor MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod deserves nothing less.

Probably the best new additions to the series and about this film are Wesley Snipes and Antonio Banderas, Snipes gets the bulk of the laughs here and shows that his time in Jail for Tax Avoision (Avoision it's a crime look it up) has kept him in good shape while Banderas looks terrific, really lean and mean and both of them I thought were the best thing about this film.

So sad to say, Expendables 3 is very average watching and for me it's hard to recommend it, go and see Guardians of the Galaxy instead, 2 out of 5.

Monday, August 11, 2014

O Captain Our Captain: Remembering Robin Williams

When I woke up this morning to check the usual headlines that I do each day, some very very sad news was among them and that was the sad news of the passing of Robin Williams.

And it was certainly news that made me sad as I had always enjoyed seeing him in a movie over the years even if the film itself wasn't that great and one of my favorite roles of his was as Professor John Keating in Peter Weir's wonderful film Dead Poets Society, a role that proved he had a great knack for doing dramatic roles as well as doing comedy and that end scene just well it's hard to not to feel emotional while you're watching it.

But my favorite role of his if I had to pick one would have to be as the Genie of the Lamp in Aladdin, a role that really suited his fast paced comic vocals very well and in some ways helped to change the face of famous actors doing voice over work in animated movies afterwards.

Aladdin also was a very formative movie experience for me as a child and I can still remember the first time I saw it as if it was a video waiting to be put in the machine, it was an afternoon for sure and my class was gathered in the local Library as one of the other kids had brought in Aladdin for us all to watch (sorry but no names) and I was hooked right then and there with its comic energy, great songs (the two Genie songs were performed by Robin himself sometimes after a long day filming Hook for Steven Spielberg where he was on wires) and terrific characters, one of those being Robin's Genie.

I feel like I don't have a lot more to say after that so I'll finish up by saying that Robin Williams was a terrific comic and dramatic talent and the film going world as well as those in it just won't feel as fun or exciting without him, may he Rest in Peace.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Film Review - Lucy (2014)

Lucy is the new action film from Luc Besson and this time he's donning both the writing and directing Hats and this one stars Scarlett Johansson as Lucy who gets caught up in a Chinese Drug Ring and a packet of CPH4 in her stomach in order to transport it, meanwhile a Doctor played by Morgan Freeman believes that humans can only 10% of their full brain potential and with the right kick, could reach 100%.

Lucy for me was okay, I liked it on the whole but the more I've thought about it the more unmemorable I find it to be, Johansson does her usual bottom kicking routine she does as the Black Widow but I didn't find it as enjoyable as seeing Liam Neeson kicking everyone's bottom in Paris in the first Taken mainly because that wasn't expected when we first saw it and Freeman does his usual fine job though I did think of him doing Vituvrius from the Lego Movie at times.

The film also has some interesting ideas about a person's brain potential but the 3rd act takes that and makes it as preposterous as the recent Johnny Deep film Transcendence and I was reminded of that film when this one was over and not in good way.

So all in all Lucy is okay but nothing special and is worth a cheap ticket Tuesday matinee, 2 out of 5.