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Saturday, 15 August 2009

The Thin White Holiday

The Thin White Dude's Reviews has been put on hiatus for at least two weeks, for I will be on holiday for the next two weeks. However, when I get back there is a guaranteed review for The Taking Of The Pelham 123 and while I'm in France I will attempt to see the two Mesrine films or at least something French. As someone famous once said, 'til next time, that's all folks.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Burma VJ: Reporting From A Closed Country



To open up this review, I must at least make further reference to the fact that I think that this is the year of the documentary film. With work such as Tyson, while certainly flawed, and the masterpiece Anvil: The Story of Anvil, this has already proved to be a great year for the documentary film. However, with the arrival of Burma VJ, it will prove to be an exceptional year. The premise of Burma VJ is that the film is shot entirely on amateur footage in Burma, a country ruled by a military dictatorship, with extreme suppression of the media, around the time of the September 2007 peaceful protests against the opression of the regime which Burma has been ruled under since 1962. Now, released at the start of last year, Sylvester Stallone's film Rambo was the first film in an English language to really show light the regime of Burma, if unsuccessfully due to the nature of the violent regime being used as a plot device for the film's action. However, with Burma VJ, I am very glad at the fact that quite an obvious issue of human rights has properly been given the light it deserves. This film is very important and sh0uld be released on wide release, if just to inform people of the hideousness of the regime. Very much the counterpart to Anvil, in which Anvil is very a little story, Burma VJ is a big story of a great issue which clearly needs to addressed. However, in a manner similar to Anvil, this documentary film is the kind of film that would be massively lauded if it was a piece of fiction. Throughout the film, through the efforts of undercover journalists, who generally have cameras hidden inside a bag, we are thrown into a world who's door's have been closed to the world. Also consistent in the piece is the unending tension as the camera takes us through the overcrowded streets, in which many government employees are in plain clothes near indistinguishable from the rest of the country's inhabitants. Interspersed with phone calls and recreations of the attempts of members of a suppressed and banned news station to get this footage to the public in order to cause uprising, this proves to as tense and almost in the vein of classic conspiracy thrillers from the 1970's. A number of critics have cited the recreations as a means of undermining the actual footage. I do not believe this does so. I believe that it highlights the human emotions rampant throughout, and the recreations create a coherant story of the struggle of the Burmese people against the regime. It also helps highlight the neccessity for freedom of speech in the press and the power of the medium of technology and film these days. Many people who see this will be moved to activism as a result in my opinion, and the fact that this film has in fact has been able to be made highlights just how signifcant film is in our world, particularly in highlighting the injustices and human rights situations around the world. Also, whenever the protests are actually going on, you feel so great and so triumphant at the unity of humanity against oppression, particularly when the government agents attempts to take the journalists covering the events into detention but the monks supporting the protest encircle them. Director Anders Ostergaard has crafted a piece which is of significant importance and for which he should be very. This film, which encapsulates so many different emotions, good and bad, should be preserved as a time capsule of the triumph of the human spirit and unification over the forces of evil.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 9.4/10

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Burma VJ: Reporting From A Closed Country

To open up this review, I must at least make further reference to the fact that I think that this is the year of the documentary film. With work such as Tyson, while certainly flawed, and the masterpiece Anvil: The Story of Anvil, this has already proved to be a great year for the documentary film. However, with the arrival of Burma VJ, it will prove to be an exceptional year. The premise of Burma VJ is that the film is shot entirely on amateur footage in Burma, a country ruled by a military dictatorship, with extreme suppression of the media, around the time of the September 2007 peaceful protests against the opression of the regime which Burma has been ruled under since 1962. Now, released at the start of last year, Sylvester Stallone's film Rambo was the first film in an English language to really show light the regime of Burma, if unsuccessfully due to the nature of the violent regime being used as a plot device for the film's action. However, with Burma VJ, I am very glad at the fact that quite an obvious issue of human rights has properly been given the light it deserves. This film is very important and sh0uld be released on wide release, if just to inform people of the hideousness of the regime. Very much the counterpart to Anvil, in which Anvil is very a little story, Burma VJ is a big story of a great issue which clearly needs to addressed. However, in a manner similar to Anvil, this documentary film is the kind of film that would be massively lauded if it was a piece of fiction. Throughout the film, through the efforts of undercover journalists, who generally have cameras hidden inside a bag, we are thrown into a world who's door's have been closed to the world. Also consistent in the piece is the unending tension as the camera takes us through the overcrowded streets, in which many government employees are in plain clothes near indistinguishable from the rest of the country's inhabitants. Interspersed with phone calls and recreations of the attempts of members of a suppressed and banned news station to get this footage to the public in order to cause uprising, this proves to as tense and almost in the vein of classic conspiracy thrillers from the 1970's. A number of critics have cited the recreations as a means of undermining the actual footage. I do not believe this does so. I believe that it highlights the human emotions rampant throughout, and the recreations create a coherant story of the struggle of the Burmese people against the regime. It also helps highlight the neccessity for freedom of speech in the press and the power of the medium of technology and film these days. Many people who see this will be moved to activism as a result in my opinion, and the fact that this film has in fact has been able to be made highlights just how signifcant film is in our world, particularly in highlighting the injustices and human rights situations around the world. Also, whenever the protests are actually going on, you feel so great and so triumphant at the unity of humanity against oppression, particularly when the government agents attempts to take the journalists covering the events into detention but the monks supporting the protest encircle them. Director Anders Ostergaard has crafted a piece which is of significant importance and for which he should be very. This film, which encapsulates so many different emotions, good and bad, should be preserved as a time capsule of the triumph of the human spirit and unification over the forces of evil.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 9.4/10

Monday, 3 August 2009

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Moon




Okay, in the fallout of my movie review explosion, I managed to see two more films in the space it has taken to finish them, and the first of these is Moon. Now Moon has gotten quite a good bit of hype of publicity as an independant film and being the first movie in quite some time to tackle straight science-fiction for quite some time. Also garnering attention is it's director, first-time filmmaker Duncan Jones. Now I'll get this out of the way quickly out of respect for Jones, who really has strived to make his own name as a creator, for many years he was more famous as Zowie Bowie, also known as the son of David Bowie. Now, anyone who has been in my company for at least thirty seconds probably knows that with regards to my music tastes that David Bowie is probably the closest thing that will come to as a god for me, so put it this way, poor Duncan had alot to set himself apart from, especially in this viewer's eyes. However, I feel that Jones himself here is the best element in the film altogether. This is the kind of film I would love to make for a debut. As the head creative honcho on this project, Jones shows great restraint to pull Moon into the realm of current science fiction which usually revolves around robots hitting each other and explosions, and keeps Moon entreched in the realm of intelligent science-fiction. Unlike the only other real intelligent science-fiction movie of note recently, Sunshine, the film does not stray from it's original concept and instead remains firmly entrenched in the ideas which make the film so strong in the first-place. Also, now I will not spoil this as when I went in I did not see any trailer's or promotional material, but merely as an intelligent science-fiction fan. There are numerous plot turns throughout the film, the first beginning around the end of the first act, twenty-five or thirty minutes in. Now, one thing that certainly deserves to commended is the structurally perfect screenplay by Jones and Nathan Parker. With Jones coming up with the original ideas, twists and turns, Parker's additions to the screenplay in keeping the film consistently interesting as Sam Bell, played by Sam Rockwell, the only human precence throughout the entire film, moves through the plot and discovers more and more behind what he has been told by his employers as he is out his working post, The Moon. Parker gives some excellent dialogue for Bell as a character throughout and GERTY, the cliched onboard computer system which is very HAL and Mother. Which brings me to the performance by Sam Rockwell. Rockwell manages to maintain composure in what would surely be a difficult role and as someone who is more or less acting the entire film by himself, really shows maturity in this performance. The little nuances in his performance as the Sam Bell character are very interesting, and the fact that he does not perform Bell as extremely extroverted or over-the-top is a wise move on his part as an actor, for it fit's in with the fact that this is intelligent sci-fi, with ideas being put across, particularly those which focus on human emotion emotion. Also, on the technical side of things, cinematography is solid and the artistic direction, while not unique, certainly adds an element of depth and realism to an otherwise fantastical idea. Finally, the editing is top-notch, fitting in brillaintly with the film's top sound design. However, there are one or two elements which really got to me with Moon. For starters, while certainly satisfying, I felt the film's payoff, the ending, could have really been worked upon better. That does not mean it is a bad ending, it's just that with what has preceded, you really do feel that maybe there should have been more thought put into the climax. Now, the one thing that did really annoy truth be told was the score. Alot of people have been claiming that the score by Clint Mansell was great. I don't believe it was personally. I do not think that the score was appropriate for the film, and whenever I was watching the film in the cinema, I found the score rather intrusive, which is one thing a score should never be. That does not mean Clint Mansell is a bad composer by any means, I mean Clint Mansell was the recipient in my last years Best and Worst of The Year for the award for best comosition, I just felt the score was inappropriate for this film. However, while I did have certain issues with Moon that stop it from being a masterpiece, this is certainly an accompished and solid piece of work for which all as a finished project all involved should be proud.


The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 8.8/10