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Friday, 31 July 2009

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - The Hangover (Repost)


Sorry about the repost, I forget to add the poster to the film. And don't take any of the high horse biblical crap seriously. For reviews sake, you'll understand. Peace out. The Thin White Dude.
And here is the final movie in The Thin White Dude's Reviews Explosion, The Hangover. Now, to give a little bit of context, this is the comedy sleeper hit of the year, which has not only made large amounts of money financially, but also has mysteriously for this type of film, garnered a fair amount of critical acclaim, with reviews such as "one of the most enjoyable comedies of the year" and "an excellent bromantic comedy" (catchy pun, ey?) being garnered upon this film. However, I feel it is time to hand me the reigns to my horse, as I ride through the deserts of the film world, and deliver my sermon from atop a mountain, what is my opinion of The Hangover. Anyway, plot is basically, three lads, each of them of varying personalities, go to Las Vegas with their friend who is getting married, and have one last night of excess before he surrenders himself to the horrors of marriage. Now, the problem, and the Macguffin of the film, is that their friend gets lost in the ensuing mayhem, and must find him before the wedding, hence the film's title. Now, I'll be fair and pragmatic here and open with what is good about the film, the script's dialogue is certainly witty and full of laughs, the kind one would associate with hanging around with a group of close friends. Each of the personalities comes across very well as a result of this dialogue. Also, and perhaps the best thing about the movie, is the role played by Zach Galifianakis. Effectively an exaggerated and comedic version of Dustin Hoffman's Raymond Babbit from Rain Man (a point smartly referenced on more than one occassion in the film), he plays this role rather well. It is no acting masterclass, but it is certainly a step ahead of the cardboard cut-out cliche that this kind of character has become, and his character is often found to gain the most laughs and most sympathy, thus he becomes more three-dimensional thanks to Galifianakis' performance. Also, some of the gags around which the movie has been clearly constructed are genuinely funny. For example, the fact that the men are lambasted with the baby in what is in many ways a pastiche of Three Men and a Baby is pulled off quite well, and is an intelligent subplot which helps tie together the film with many of the other subplots and helps each of the character's come out as distinct personalities. Also, the fact that the men cannot remember the night before at all and piece it together like a puzzle is an interesting idea, leaving the discoveries of their previous night's exploits to bring the odd gag. Which is where I start to unleash the angry Old Testament Dude. Whenever I say that there is the odd gag, I mean just that. Unfortunately for this film, which is clearly one of those "laugh out loud, we're so absolutely hilarious" films, the gags often fail to rub off and come across on me. Maybe The Hangover is an acquirred taste, but for me it is by no means an intelligent comedy. Now, for those who think when I say "intelligent" comedy I mean sophisto-satire comedies like Dr. Strangelove, I do not mean that. I think that Animal House is an intelligent comedy, which is the film which is probably responsible for this and the recent upsurge of these films, but we will get there later. To start, I said that some of the gags come across well. I think that the gag with the baby is great, the initial mystery behind the tiger is funny and the idea of them forgetting everything is smart. However, the movie does not really work on anything bar attempting to make the gags be as ridiculous and over-the-top as is possible. Words of advice to the screenwriters, they did not come across properly because you did not work on the bits in-between the "whoop-whoop" laughs, which compose of much of the film. The other two leading characters are poorly written and as a result their performances by Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms are completely unconvincing and nauseatingly boring. Also, the structure of the film is all wrong completely, causing everyone to be suspensed in space-time continuums of moments of excessive boredome and dullness. Also, Todd Phillips fails to keep control of this film, all the more proving his flaws as a director, which have come out before in his previous works, all more or less the same film. He needs to try something else as a director, because this stuff while it makes money, certainly does not make classics. What every happened to the likes of this gross-out, over-the-top comedy classics such as Animal House, American Pie and even the recent Superbad. How come a minority of films are able to thrive so well as brillaint films, and the audience are willing to eat up horrible pastiche's which do nothing more but remind them that these are not the same as those classics? I am sick and tired of the recent upsurge of these "Dude, Over-the top" comedies, because the jokes are all the same, and if they are done right, that's acceptable, but so marry fall flat on their backsides and fail, asking for mother to come and pick them up for comfort. I hate them. Also, why is Mike Tyson in the film? After having seen Tyson in which he is sick of the way people see him as a thug, in this, playing a piano and singing "In The Air Tonight" is an obvious contradiction and is sadly twistedly ironic and tragic, and punhing Zach Galifianakis in the face enforces peoples view of him as a damaged animal who is psychotic and borderline unapproachable. In conclusion, while boasted some very witty dialogue, the odd funny gag and a good performance from Galifianakis, the rest of the film is boring, the script is rubbish, the other two leads are poor, and Todd Phillips needs to reconsider his occupational position in the near future.
The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 4.1/10

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - The Hangover

And here is the final movie in The Thin White Dude's Reviews Explosion, The Hangover. Now, to give a little bit of context, this is the comedy sleeper hit of the year, which has not only made large amounts of money financially, but also has mysteriously for this type of film, garnered a fair amount of critical acclaim, with reviews such as "one of the most enjoyable comedies of the year" and "an excellent bromantic comedy" (catchy pun, ey?) being garnered upon this film. However, I feel it is time to hand me the reigns to my horse, as I ride through the deserts of the film world, and deliver my sermon from atop a mountain, what is my opinion of The Hangover. Anyway, plot is basically, three lads, each of them of varying personalities, go to Las Vegas with their friend who is getting married, and have one last night of excess before he surrenders himself to the horrors of marriage. Now, the problem, and the Macguffin of the film, is that their friend gets lost in the ensuing mayhem, and must find him before the wedding, hence the film's title. Now, I'll be fair and pragmatic here and open with what is good about the film, the script's dialogue is certainly witty and full of laughs, the kind one would associate with hanging around with a group of close friends. Each of the personalities comes across very well as a result of this dialogue. Also, and perhaps the best thing about the movie, is the role played by Zach Galifianakis. Effectively an exaggerated and comedic version of Dustin Hoffman's Raymond Babbit from Rain Man (a point smartly referenced on more than one occassion in the film), he plays this role rather well. It is no acting masterclass, but it is certainly a step ahead of the cardboard cut-out cliche that this kind of character has become, and his character is often found to gain the most laughs and most sympathy, thus he becomes more three-dimensional thanks to Galifianakis' performance. Also, some of the gags around which the movie has been clearly constructed are genuinely funny. For example, the fact that the men are lambasted with the baby in what is in many ways a pastiche of Three Men and a Baby is pulled off quite well, and is an intelligent subplot which helps tie together the film with many of the other subplots and helps each of the character's come out as distinct personalities. Also, the fact that the men cannot remember the night before at all and piece it together like a puzzle is an interesting idea, leaving the discoveries of their previous night's exploits to bring the odd gag. Which is where I start to unleash the angry Old Testament Dude. Whenever I say that there is the odd gag, I mean just that. Unfortunately for this film, which is clearly one of those "laugh out loud, we're so absolutely hilarious" films, the gags often fail to rub off and come across on me. Maybe The Hangover is an acquirred taste, but for me it is by no means an intelligent comedy. Now, for those who think when I say "intelligent" comedy I mean sophisto-satire comedies like Dr. Strangelove, I do not mean that. I think that Animal House is an intelligent comedy, which is the film which is probably responsible for this and the recent upsurge of these films, but we will get there later. To start, I said that some of the gags come across well. I think that the gag with the baby is great, the initial mystery behind the tiger is funny and the idea of them forgetting everything is smart. However, the movie does not really work on anything bar attempting to make the gags be as ridiculous and over-the-top as is possible. Words of advice to the screenwriters, they did not come across properly because you did not work on the bits in-between the "whoop-whoop" laughs, which compose of much of the film. The other two leading characters are poorly written and as a result their performances by Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms are completely unconvincing and nauseatingly boring. Also, the structure of the film is all wrong completely, causing everyone to be suspensed in space-time continuums of moments of excessive boredome and dullness. Also, Todd Phillips fails to keep control of this film, all the more proving his flaws as a director, which have come out before in his previous works, all more or less the same film. He needs to try something else as a director, because this stuff while it makes money, certainly does not make classics. What every happened to the likes of this gross-out, over-the-top comedy classics such as Animal House, American Pie and even the recent Superbad. How come a minority of films are able to thrive so well as brillaint films, and the audience are willing to eat up horrible pastiche's which do nothing more but remind them that these are not the same as those classics? I am sick and tired of the recent upsurge of these "Dude, Over-the top" comedies, because the jokes are all the same, and if they are done right, that's acceptable, but so marry fall flat on their backsides and fail, asking for mother to come and pick them up for comfort. I hate them. Also, why is Mike Tyson in the film? After having seen Tyson in which he is sick of the way people see him as a thug, in this, playing a piano and singing "In The Air Tonight" is an obvious contradiction and is sadly twistedly ironic and tragic, and punhing Zach Galifianakis in the face enforces peoples view of him as a damaged animal who is psychotic and borderline unapproachable. In conclusion, while boasted some very witty dialogue, the odd funny gag and a good performance from Galifianakis, the rest of the film is boring, the script is rubbish, the other two leads are poor, and Todd Phillips needs to reconsider his occupational position in the near future.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 4.1/10

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Anvil! The Story Of Anvil




To open up this review, all I have to say is that it is about bloody time, eighteen films into the year of reviews, that I finally arrive at the first masterpiece of the year. And that is by no means an understatement. Apologies if I am not exactly leaving the review to much open interpretation, but in case you haven't caught on already, I am about to speak very gloweringly about this film. Between this and Tyson already, this is certainly proving to be a good year for the documentary film. Anyway, to build a little bit of background context, Anvil were a reasonably successful thrash metal band at the beginning of the 1980's. However, as this film documents, over the years their success has waned, but unlike many bands whose decline has forced them into retirement, Anvil still remain. This film is a story of that journey. Really, in my honest opinion, like any good documentary, Anvil tells an interesting story. However, one of the rarest things which is nailed in a documentary is the fact that it is so interesting a story that if it had have been a piece of fiction, it perhaps would have been worse. Steve "Lips" Kudlow, lead vocalist and guitarist for the band, is very much an extravagant character, and is the driving force of the band, very much your stereotypical rock vocalist, almost a parody characiture. With his unending enthusiasm and giant heart, whereas as a film character he would be annoying, as a real person, his determination wins us over. Robb Reiner, the band's drummer on the other hand, is very much a representation of the audience looking upon the spectacle. Often very sick of rock and roll and questioning why he still does it despite their obvious failures and lack of financial gain from it, the reason it seems he stays with the band is because of loyalty to his childhood friend and love for him and the band. The way that the film portrays the two is very much in the manner of classic film duos, inseperable from the other, like one living entity, each with their own traits contributing to the composit. Put it this way, I had cried by the half-an-hour point in the film, and by the end of the next half-hour, I had cried again. Anvil is a really human story which is completely accessible and easy to understand, even for those who are not metal fans. The themes approached in the film (yes, themes in a documentary), include that of determination, hardship, friendship, dreams, and each are pulled off with great savvy. I think that a large part of the credit for the end product of the documentary has to go to director Sacha Gervasi. Having served as a roadie for Anvil on three different tours in the 1980's, it is pretty obvious with the way that they are portrayed that he is a fan of the band. However, Gervasi, unlike director James Toback of Tyson, directs this documentary with an even balance, even suggesting throughout the film at a number of stages that part of the problem for the band's decline was the band themselves, a very daring move for a documentary. However, I think that Gervasi's further scrutiny and the band's frankness seem to let the more challenging material come to light, particularly in the interviews with Anvil's close family and friends, who are more or less in consensus that they have failed in their dream. The band however, continues to drive on. Gervasi captures this portrayal of the invulnerability of the human spirit brillaintly, but there also other contributors to be acredited. In my opinion, much of the film's success also belongs to the work of the film's editors, Andrew Dickler and Jeff Renfroe, who do an absloutely fantastic job of keeping the film short, sweet and very tight with a lean running time of only ninety minutes including credits. However, you do not feel that a moment of this time has been wasted. Every moment onscreen is appropriate and you feel that with the way the editing work has been done, making the film uplifting, tragic and humourous, often within one scene, that if the film had been chopped in a different manner, it could have ended up leaning more towards only one of those audience emotions. However, Dickler and Renfroe work let's the film dip into all of those emotional pots. In conclusion, I read a review on Rotten Tomatoes by Tim Robey of the Daily Telegraph. He says that this will not slight the Citizen Kane of the genre, Some Kind Of Monster. Sorry Tim, you are wrong. Some Kind Of Monster may be the Lawrence of Arabia of the genre, but this is the Citizen Kane of the rocumentary genre. It is an absolute masterpiece, and already a shoe-in for this year's Best Picture nominations of my own. I cannot remember of the last time I roared at that the screen wishing for the band's triumph. Any film that conjure these emotions from someone in my opinion deserves to be recognised, and in my opinion, it is also one of the best film's of the decade. In case you still don't know, I like this film.


The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 9.7/10

Monday, 27 July 2009

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince




Next on the platter for the reviews explosion is Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the sixth film in the series based on author JK Rowling's bestselling books. The Harry Potter series (books, films, merchandise) are truly a phenomenon in every sense of the world. At the start of the millenium, the three main merchandising phenomenon's in film were The Lord of The Rings series, the new Star Wars trilogy and the Harry Potter series. Only Harry Potter has lasted this long, and even more surprisingly perhaps, will continue to last, for trends often tend to die hard, to use a pun. Anyway, here we are with this new film, a continuation on from the fifth in the series with director David Yates once again at the helm, who is now scheduled to take the series through to it's finish. David Yates, despite having a CV which consists of British TV work, took the helm of the previous film, The Order of the Phoenix. Despite having previously established directors at the helm of the series, the producers took a risk which paid off with recruting Yates, and it seems to have paid off. Having not seen The Order of the Phoenix, which is currently the most critically acclaimed of the series, I was pleasantly surprised with what Yates has done to the series. Whereas Chris Colombus injects a sense of wonder to the first two, Alfonso Cuaron creates an atmosphere of surreality and Mike Newell attempts to insert emotionality into the series, Yates seems to be able to multi-task these three qualities well, which is perfect for the film's as the books' material becomes more challenging. The film is frequently gripping throughout and thoroughly interesting, pacing itself reasonably well enough for a two-and-a-half hour film, very much in contrast to that other two-and-a-half hour film directed by Hack. With the material getting more challenging, this latest Harry Potter really is one of the few franchise sequel which stands by it's word in "it's like the last but darker" and has material to completely justify it. The original gang of Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson once again play their signature roles with great gusto, and are some of the few franchise players who do not become more annoying as they go along in the series, retaining audience interest. Also, good once again in Alan Rickman as Severus Snape, still dividing audiences as to whether or not he is a villain. I think personally that the best performance though is by Michael Gambon, though that is perhaps expected considering the material. His portrayal of Albus Dumbledore is the best of the series, particularly in nailing the father/son relationship that has developed between he and Harry as the series has progressed. For me really though, despite good direction and acting, the most top class aspect of the film was it's cinematography by Bruno Delbonnel, made famous for his work on films such as Amelie. Alongside Red Cliff this year, the cinematography in this film is genuinely amazing and fits in well with the plot and themes of the story, with the film being edited now in such a way that in the middle of a deep intense scene, the film will cut to an appropriate image so that the audience can more easily, but not too easily, let us access a train of thought regarding the themes previously unaccessible. This, along with the fact that what is real becomes indistinguishable from an effect, is done brilliantly due to the moody lighting and rather inventive hue that seems to resonate as a colour tone over the viewfinder throughout. To point out the bads of the film, it unfortunately does at times seem overly long. Whilst no film should seem overly long, some of the material seems to do nothing to advance the characters or move the plot along. In saying that however it is paced but than Public Enemies, and uses it's time in a better manner. Another issue for me with this film is the fact that there are so many great actors involved, and you do feel at times robbed of the fact that some of them are giving performances which are rather dull. For example, despite having very minimal roles in the story, Helena Bonham Carter and Robbie Coltrane give interesting performances in their respective roles, whereas Maggie Smith and Julie Walters failed to come across in that manner to me. Also, with regards to the script, it is tight as a whistle, despite being a long film. With such good material, I feel re-writes would be appropriate because at times it feels too long, and at others you feel some material could be expanded. For example, some actors play their characters well, but their characters, for example Bonnie Wright and Evanna Lynch, but I feel the material is left dead in the air, so the film is quite unbalanced. Finally, and this really annoys me, why do people who make franchise films even if they do have good material, not intend to make a masterpiece instead of a mere crowdpleasing effort which will eventually be forgotten. With such strong material, and perhaps this is biased coming from someone who liked the books, I feel that something of much greater emotional depth could have been gained from this film. However, despite these feelings, I feel that this film is really something to enjoy, and parents, be warned taking underage children, because the material is at times quite challenging. I feel that quite often in the film, it is thrilling, with solid acting, direction and some of the best cinematography I have seen this year, so in conclusion, very good and certainly worth a watch.


The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 7.8/10

Sunday, 26 July 2009

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Bruno




Also known as the Sacha Baron Cohen Film Which Just Happens To Be The Most Highly Anticipated Comedy Of The Year. This film marks the return of Sacha Baron Cohen in a leading capacity, and with this riding on the cotails of his comedy masterpiece Borat, it is inevitable, rather unfortunately, that the two will be compared, rather than being able to stand on their own two feet. Both are shot similarly, plot actually is slightly similar, although jokes and characters are different, so for Cohen, who has put alot into this film, it is make or break. To kick off with the positives regarding this film, who can fault the performance of Sacha Baron Cohen in this film? Whilst certainly not as prolific as most of his peers in comedy such as Will Ferrell and Jack Black, Cohen is a complete perfectionist in creating his characters and bringing them to life. He is one of the rarest comedians in that nowadays comedy is a genre like the science fiction/fantasy and horror genres, in that the genre's status has been reduced to a lower level of standard by many critics and members of the film community. I cannot say that part of it isn't the fault of the comedians at times, in that there is a lot of crap out there. Cohen as a comedian however, is a genius, an exception to the rule, both critically acclaimed and universally embraced by a loving audience. The attention of course, he completely deserves. A completely flipside to the racist Kazakhstani Borat, here Bruno is a flamboyant Gay Austrian reporter, so Cohen is playing a completely different ball game (really no pun intended, I know it sounds terrible considering the topic matter). Nonetheless, this is certainly right now my favourite lead acting role of the year. Cohen completely deserves recognition for his genius. Also, the dialogue which he has written for the character, alongside his fellow screenwriters Anthony Hine, Dan Mazer and Jeff Schaffer, makes sure that every little mispronunciation and tick (such as the mispronunciation of "Ich," the German word for "I," instead of saying the word itself) is spot on and helps Cohen completely perfect another unique and great comedic character. Also, Larry Charles once again proves to be an appropriate director in collaboration with Cohen. Having directed Borat, Charles employs much of the same directorial techniques in this as he did in Borat, proving that old tricks can still work if done appropriately (nod to all directors). And to end really, some of the gags are absolutely fantastic. There are some moments in the filmwhich are genuinely rip-roaringly hilarious throughout, but I do not wish to spoil them, for I feel that the best thing with this is to go in blank. After having loved Borat, I purposefully avoided trailers for this film, so as to not let my hype levels go too much in one direction. It is in this manner that I think the film would work best. While certainly in my opinion a great comedy, Bruno is not without it's flaws. Now really, I hate to do this, but I must compare this to Borat in some way because despite obvious differences, there are many clear similarities. For starters, at times I feel with regards to the gags in the film, while many are genuinely hilarious others do seem to be there for pure shock value. I think that the screenwriters were under genuine pressure to follow up on audience expectations on Borat, and so instead of taking time to write more elaborate and creative gags, they do after resort to the most obscene or disgusting option possible (and that is no exaggeration). It;s not that it is too far, I was not bothered by that, it's juist that it does disrupt the balance of genuine humour and shock value, and at times leans too much into the latter without forgetting the neccessity of the former's precence. It is a fine line to balance, and at times they do end up running into issues as a result. Also, unlike Borat, which is a film in which you do by the end despite near-insanity throughout end up rooting for the character. For me personally, I felt that Bruno was a character that was perhaps less devoloped by Cohen and co, and so that for me is a real problem, because a lack of emotional connection or empathy with the characters is one of the main reasons these previously mentioned genres often never get equal represention or accreditation. Borat does this perfectly, and that was proved by the fact that even in the traditionally conservative USA, that he was lauded in numerous critics as the recipient of their best actor award and his winner for Best Actor at the Golden Globes. Unfortunately though, I do not believe that Bruno is as dense, or will be remembered as fondly as Borat. However, there is much to be enjoyed from this film, and it is miles ahead of what stands for a "successful comedy" in cinemas these days. Sacha Baron Cohen gives a brilliant performance, the scripted dialogue is solid, most of the gags are very funny and Larry Charles does a great job on keeping control of the anarchy. Or, and one more thing, in a similar role to that of Ken Davitian as Asamat in Borat, an unknown foreign language-speaking actor is cast, and in this film, Swedish actor Gustaf Hammarsten gives a charming performance as Lutz, who you really sympathise with more than Bruno. Anyway, good movie, watch, blog out!


The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 8.2/10

Friday, 24 July 2009

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Public Enemies




In the midst of the summer blockbuster period in which we are often subjected to absolutely ghastly work such as Transformers 2, which only makes money because we have all been hypnotised into some joint lobotomy to watch it, we do got the odd decent, enjoyable blockbuster to help even out all of the rubbish of the day. And quite frankly you wouldn't expect any less from Michael Mann. Mann, while not all of his films are consistently great, they are certainly consistently watchable, and are sure multiple rungs up the ladder on hacks like Michael Bay and what is now considered to be the standard for "blockbuster" movies. He is one of the few working directors who is consistently making interesting films, with an ouevre of work including films such as Manhunter, The Last of the Mohicans, Ali, Collateral and one of the my favourite films ever made, Heat. So yes, I am a fan, as I'm sure you have gathered from my context. So what we have here is Michael Mann directing a film on the the 1930's Great Depression-era, basing it around the activities of Chicago's most famous and notorious gangsters, particularly the activities of John Dillinger, played by Johnny Depp, and the FBI's pursuit of him, led by Melvin Purvis, played by Christian Bale. To start up with what is good about the film, and I know I'm loyally flying the flag for the same old ship, but Michael Mann truly is the best thing about the film. He truly is an auteur in the best way possible, and successfully juggles the job(s) of writing, producing and directing this film. The script is classical of Mann, an ensemble cast of characters each with their own distinct arcs and the dialogue is perfect. If there is one thing that Mann always does best with his scripts, it is the fact that he truly understands ever aspect of the human personality and it's traits. Also, his direction is tight, keeping the film interesting throughout, and it never really wavers into the area of being boring, despite being a two-and-a-half hour epic. Saying, Mann isn't exactly out of his comfort zone with this epic. As producer, along with his other jobs, he manages to be the single driving creative force to get his movie rolling, something which is not seen much in cinema these days, harking back to the behemoth creative forces in auteur cinema, such as his (and my own) inspiration Stanley Kubrick. To get to the acting side, Johnny Depp and Christian Bale deliver competent performances as the leads. Granted, neither are going to win any awards, but they do their jobs competently, with Bale certainly delivering his best performance since Rescue Dawn by default. With all due respect to Bale, who I believe is one of the best working actors in the world, he needs to get off of this two-year slack from giving the great performances we are used to seeing from him. However, in my opinion, the best performance in the film is by English actor Stephen Graham as Baby-Face Nelson. Graham, despite being in such a small part, plays Nelson brilliantly. He nails his accent spot on, and could easily pass for an American, despite being an Englishman. Having previously proved himself in smaller roles in films such as Snatch and with a meatier role, giving the best performance of his career so far as Combo in This Is England, Graham once again proves that he is a force to reckoned with as an actor. His performance makes one think what if Michael Mann had decided to focus the attention of the film on Baby-Face Nelson rather than John Dillinger. Also, the cinematography, like most of Michael Mann's films, is top class. While at times the digital photography doesn't look as well as it could, it is an interesting take on the material. Also, the editing is very well done, particularly the sound editing which make the brillaintly staged gun battles seem all the more realistic and nerve-wracking. However, while Public Enemies is a very good film, it does have numerous flaws. For starters, the three actors who dominate the film, Depp, Bale and Marion Cotillard, do not in my opinion give worthy performances. Depp and Bale jsut merely seem to be a precence and nothing more, and probably not through her own fault, Cotillard's character is poorly written as she struggles to attempt to elevate the character from the unfortunate cliche that it is. Also, while Mann has written good dialect and interesting characters for most of the script, unfortunately it feels overly long. I feel that with re-writes it may have worked, but there is at least twenty minutes of film onscreen which merely serve as exposition and contribute a pittance to the overall film. Also, structurally the film is all wrong. Now, I'm not going to babble about the numerous historical inaccuracies, but if you are going to take artistic liberty, do it for the right reasons. In conclusion, my opinions are that Michael Mann will continue to be a great director and Stephen Graham deserves better roles, but all in all, I am not clashing swords with this film, and I believe that there is much to enjoy from a venture to the cinema to watch this film.


The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 7.2/10

Thursday, 23 July 2009

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Seven Pounds




Okay, here we have the mystery movie released at the start of the year starring Will Smith. Now, this is an interesting case in that upon the movies initial release, the plot details were kept a secret, particularly peculiar in that it is a film starring the biggest box-office draw in the world. The movie's plot details were kept more secret than Cloverfield, and I must admit that even after the film's release, the plot still remained a mystery to me. Also, the fact that it was released around Oscar-period was raising eyebrows, with rumours flying that Will Smith was going to be nominated for another Oscar for his performance. Now in my opinion, Smith is good in the film, but he is not great. It is rather a shame, because Smith is such a talented actor, and in my opinion he will become one of the biggest celebrity's in the world in the next decade, and surely win at least one Oscar as he continues to star in greater films with better roles catering to his obvious abilities. Unfortunately here, what we have on our hands once again is a case of what I call the "Will Smith Syndrome," in that he picks projects which unfortunately fall flat on their face, with their main merit being the fact that Will Smith is involved i.e Hancock and I Am Legend. But here, Will Smith is not even the main merit. Personally, I feel that the best acting performances come from the supporting roles by Rosario Dawson, who proves once again she is one of the best young female actresses in the world, and Woody Harrelson, who enforces once again the fact that his prescence in any film is a testament and always a good thing for any project, no matter how big or how small the role. Also, a testament to the film is how the film's big reveal(s) come in at the end of the film. The last ten/fifteen minutes of the film are exceptional and far better than what has preceded. This is mainly achieved by the competent editing work of Hughes Winborne, who splices the film together well so that the hints leading to the end are kept closely under wraps, giving a genuine surprise, the likes of which are hard to come across these days. However, unfortunately, despite the fact that there are numerous qualities involved in the film, including the last fifteen minutes, the film unfortunately seems to balance upon them and instead seems to lean on them as an excuse to let the rest of the film be unbalanced. For starters, while the ending is pulled off effectively, the script is unfortunately muddled up all over the place. It is a daring task to attempt to pull a plot of this fashion off. The only time I recall it ever really completely working was Memento. With this, it becomes muddled up horribly, and instead of being genuinely interesting, it ends up being at times rather boring. Also, director Gabriele Muccino, who also directed Smith in The Pursuit of Happiness falls to do a competent job of keeping control of the piece, instead letting it fall on it's face. The worst thing about this film is that it had been clearly released with Oscars in mind, but instead it is more or less doomed to fade into obscurity, for the film is too dull for cult film fans to watch, and the film is too far out for the Academy Awards to acknowledge. So all in all, the film really exists without any purpose or contribution to film whatsoever, and is merely an average film at best.
The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 5.4/10

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Bride Wars




On one hand, what we get is some genuinely enjoyable movies this year, such as Drag Me To Hell and Red Cliff, and on the other hand we got absolute rubbish such as this filth and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. If this is a good thing, then I will simply say that it is not as bad as Transformers, but saying that I think I was too easy on that film because it is just terrible. Nonetheless, the serving is not the robust beast that is Transformers, but instead the salad, vegetarian meal that is Bride Wars, and never was that metaphor more apt. Actually, it might be too apt, because if you were to compare Bride Wars to a meal (rich coming from me), it would probably be the sole of a fisherman's leather boot. As in, it is completely tastless, is rough around the edges, and smells horrible. Anyway, context, context, context, Bride Wars is this film with an absolutely brilliant setup in which two young girls meet in a hotel, one being poor and the other growing up without parents, and they both witness a wedding, and the both grow up dreaming about weddings and getting married to the perfect man. Now, I may not be of the female of the species, but I want someone to actually respond to my post here and correct me and tell me that Bride Wars is an accurate depiction of women and that they themselves like the protagonists, have spent their entire life preparing for a wedding. One of the worst things about this film is the fact that this is a film which all girls between the ages of eight and thirteen are bound to see, and even if they do not identify with the protagonists' wish for weddings, they will become brainwashed into thinking that this is what they should be thinking about and growing up way too soon. Kids, enjoy your childhood while you have it. It is already getting shorter with teenagers now localing pubs and whatnot (I should know), the last thing we need is an eight year old admiring wedding dresses instead of playing with their toys. It is such a rotten film because of this kind of message. I'm not saying getting married is a bad thing, I'm just saying that no one should be forced into this kind of thinking. Bride Wars is like that kid amongst a group of friends who is effectively a bully and through peer pressure makes you feel bad for doing things you don't want to. It is a movie like a drug dealer forcing heroin upon you, regardless of the fact you want to do it or not. A fair enough rant, but there's more. The acting is completely vacuous and terrible, the gags and the dialogue are simply not funny, and it is quite frankly a horribly structured film. Manhola Dargis of The New York Times puts it brillaintly when she wrote that she wondered what would have become of the film if they had have explored the lesbian subtext suggested at the beginning of the film. Now that would have been an interesting film. Get new writers for re-writes to change the jokes and dialogues so that not only do we have a comedy, we have a brilliant satire on an often boring genre and a big two fingers up to the New Right establishment in America. That would be fantastic. But it's not. It's propaganda "the family, marriage, no children or sex before marraige et al." The best things about Bride Wars are the fact that it is only about eighty minutes long and the fact that there is an unexpected twist at the end, probably because of what has preceded was so bad, but even still the manage to flip the tortoise belly up in the last scene. All in all, a bad, bad film. Screw you Kate Hudson!
The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 1.5/10
Watch Dr Mark Kermode's review of this film on YouTube.

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Tyson: The Movie




Here I have the first movie for assessment in my reviews explosion, Tyson: The Movie. For the sake of a little background context, Tyson is a documentary which is based upon the idea of taking interviews with the former world heavyweight boxing champion "Iron" Mike Tyson, and editing footage together so that he in many respects is the narrator of his own story and journey. It is an interesting concept that is really a make or break idea, and director James Toback pulls that off rather well. The moments that I felt that Tyson works best is whenever he is speaking frankly about his career and when editor Aaron Yanes expertly splices together the footage of his career with these often powerful and emotional interviews. In the interviews with Tyson, Toback as the interviewer manages to extract information from "Iron" Mike like no one ever has before, effectively destroying his persona as a ferocious and despicable human being as he has been portrayed in the past. In a manner which is thoroughly consistent throughout the piece, Tyson is portrayed as an animal, more a product of his troubled upbringing than anything, and is a human being who is completely out of touch with his own and other human's emotions. I think for me the most shocking and harrowing scene in the film is whenever Tyson is speaking of the death of his trainer and surrogate father figure "Cus" D'Amato. In this scene, in which most human beings would well up and cry, Tyson does not do so. He instead makes these very shocking noises which infrequently cause him to hesitate as he attempts to convey his emotions into words. Structurally as a documentary, the film is very sound and smooth, is not overly long, and seems to put all of the correct pieces in the right places. However, unfortunately, and this is rather unfortunate because what is good in this film is great, the film is knocked off balance by some inherent flaws. For starters, as an interviewer, Toback does not bother pushing Tyson for further scrutiny on some of the more challenging material which has brought his behaviour to question in the past. Instead, he lets Tyson merely pour everything out. Call me coldhearted, but for me, if this is to be the real inside view of "Iron" Mike Tyson, then I would prefer some stronger scrutiny. Also, because of this, the film instead decides to take the perspective of sympathising more with the subject, rather than offering a neutral perspective and letting the viewer decide their opinions on Tyson, so for me, the direction of the interviews is at times very flawed. Final problem with this film also ties in with the fact that this is called Tyson: The Movie. Now, if this was a feature length film with an actor portraying Mike Tyson, then this would be excusable. Also, the fact that the film leans more to one side of the story on Tyson would be excused more if it was a film and not a documentary. A documentary should remain neutral, offering both sides of the coin for viewer opinions. Also, the film is credited as having been "written" by James Toback. This altogether could lead one to question the credibility of the film altogether. The example is taken particularly with these horrible snippets of scenes in which it focuses on Tyson's face with dialogue such as "I am a monster, I am a beast, I will destroy you," and you are thinking, this is either fighting talk taken from previous interviews, or he has been coaxed by Toback into saying this. There done. Despite it's numerous problems with regards it's scrutiny by Toback, the film is saved greatly by the frankness and honesty of the interviewee and the editing work of Aaron Yanes, giving us a thoroughly interesting, if one-sided outlook on the person that is Mike Tyson.
The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 8.0/10

The Thin White Dude's Extreme Reviews Explosion!

For those reading, I have certainly not been slacking, but I have in fact broken my elbow and have for an unfortunate period of time been rendered unable to type. I am after a month out of my cast, but still am going to be attending physiotherapy for the rest of the summer. Nonetheless, the show will go on, and there are a great amount of movies to assess. Eight movies will be reviewed over the next few days. The movies are as follows: Tyson: The Movie, Bride Wars, Seven Pounds, Public Enemies, Bruno, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Anvil: The Story of Anvil and The Hangover. Peace out!