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Tuesday, 29 September 2009

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Bronson




Apologies for the delay on my past reviews, but I have reviews for the movie for which this review is the subject and Paul Blart: Mall Cop coming up. Anyway, here is Bronson, a movie has been generating a great amount of it's attention due to it's notoriety, being labelled as a "Clockwork Orange of the 21st Century." And in many respects, I won't deny that that label is rather fitting, despite it being one of those typically cliche things that lazy critics will say about a movie. Story goes that this a biopic based on the life of British prisoner Charles Bronson, who has gained notoriety himself for having spent only four months outside of prison since 1974 and being labelled "the most violent prisoner in Britain." Now, the film is mostly fictional, which I have no problem with, seeing as how fiction can sometimes tell the truth to a story even better than fact, lies or not. That has to be got off the plate, for this is only partially based on the Concrete Coffin autobiography by Charles Bronson, which happens to be one of my favourite books. To start with the good, Tom Hardy gives a superb lead performance as Bronson, in what might well be the best lead performance of the year thus far. Putting on three stone of muscle in a strict training regimin, Hardy certainly looks the part of Bronson, and creates a terrifying and fascinating physical prescence out of Bronson, which perfectly appropriate for the mystery and almost superhuman persona which he has created for himself. Also, he displays the different facets of Bronson's psyche brilliantly. Having read his book, I do know a good bit about Charles Bronson's way of thinking and enigmatic persona. The key to Hardy's performance as Bronson is contrast. He contrasts his outright disgust with himself at times with the grandoise and charming persona he creates of himself justifying his belief with great humour. Also, he contrasts the violent and brutal phsyicality of Bronson with a delicately, if slightly subversive beauty to be found in his drawings. Hardy really does, use a cliche, become Charles Bronson. Also, the film's use of soundtrack is rather interesting, juxtaposing what is happening onscreen, often in the ironic sense, with some piece of music which in a strange way, because of the strength of it's ironic use, makes sense. Also, the cinematography is solid, shot well in digital video for a very low budget of £150,000. Despite an obvious lack of financial buck to sit back on, the cinematographers don't shy away from making the most out of it, capturing some genuinely great images onscreen at certain points. Finally, the film is very daring and brave, perhaps even groundbreaking to a certain extent with it's rather unflinching portrayal of violence and the brutality of prison life, but not without it's humour. The film shows extended scenes of intense violence throughout, but it's real brutality is the torment and destitude of a life which Charles Bronson is forced to live. While Bronson is certainly a very good movie, it is certainly not without it's flaws at that. The big flaw, which spreads off like a virus and contaminates numerous aspects of the production, is the fact that the film is completely over-stylised. Now, I mentioned the unflinching nature of the film, which is a style in itself, but the film attempts really to stick it's hand in every sweety jar of cool styles in order to play all their cards. Instead of what I feel should have been done, and focusing on the brutality with spurious uses of black humour, the film on numerous occassions deviates from material whenever it starts to get interesting, particularly with regards to exploring the more serious nature of Bronson's psyche. While the onstage Bronson narrating his own story is well-played by Hardy, it is a completely misjudged and inappropriate for the project concept which does nothing but make the film seem like some kind of music video on MTV. Things like this and the animation sequence are silly and pointless in my opinion, inappropriate to the film because there are so many different styles. The writing is frantic and deranged, like the mind of Bronson. Granted, maybe that's what they were trying to reflect, but surely they could have pulled that across better rather than having a bunch of bits mashed together. Clearly director Nicolas Winding Refn is having problems in controlling the beast that is his movie about Charley Bronson, and not that of the real beast himself. However, the film is certainly not without it's pros. It is, even with these annoyances, as an oddity, a very good film, with a behemoth of a performance by Tom Hardy that swallows up the entire film.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 7.8/10
The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Mesmerised by Hardy's performance

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Inglourious Basterds




And no, for those of you who don't know, that is not a typo, that is just as director Quentin Tarantino would say about the title, describing it as the "Tarantino way of spelling it," which pretty much sums up the entire mood of the film. Inglourious Basterds as I have checked has gotten a great amount of critical success, and those who are negative about the film are usually negative about Tarantino. To make this clear, I am currently neutral with Tarantino. He made two superb films in Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, I missed Jackie Brown, Kill Bill was sorely underrated and I really did not like Death Proof. This review will be conducted with a completely unbiased view, seeing as how I still have enough respect for Tarantino after the blip on his CV that was Death Proof. Most who have not liked this film are always slandering what is the quintessential Tarantino style, that of fast-paced dialogue, stylistically excessive violence and non-linear storylines. Whether he likes it or not, that really is the Tarantino style. Anyway, this is not about Tarantino style, this is about his latest film. The story, or stories for better of a word, summed up in as few words as possible goes, that in Nazi-occupied France, two different plots are formed to destroy the Nazi leadership, that of a young French Jewish cinema proprieter and that of the eponymous "Basterds." Didn't do too bad did I? Once again like many of Tarantino's films, this is an episodic film with different interconnecting strands tying together the story. To start at the start, and at the good, the first chapter "Once Upon A Time... In Nazi-Occupied France" is a stellar piece of film-making, and perhaps one of the best extended openings to a film in a decade. The chapter perfectly establishes the first of the many plot strands in the film and also manages to encapsulate the mood of the film in one extended sequence. Furthermore, it establishes the villain of the piece, Colonel Hans Landa, played by the magnificent Christoph Waltz just about as well as one could possibly. He comes across in this scene as absolutely terrifying and completely sinister, yet the entire time there is an ironic and twisted sense of humour to be found in the fact that he is so polite and controlled the entire time. Very much the opposite of the stereotypical screaming Nazi, Waltz delivers a truly original performance which subverts the original perceptions of an evil Nazi, and will doubtless be imitated by many. Also, for a scene that is simply just dialogue, the camerawork is excellent, capturing the essence and mood of the scene to perfection, but not without maintaining a sense of stylishness. Also, the section is written fantastically, particularly for Waltz's Landa, giving him a great stepping stone for the rest of the film. Unfortunately, with such an amazing opening, it is perhaps inevitably a tough job to live up to, but never did I think the film would go so off the wall. Nonetheless, the film is not without it's pros outside of that incredible introduction. Brad Pitt plays a very solid comical/serious role in the leader of the "Basterds" Lt Aldo Raine. Nailing the thick Tennessee accent, Pitt both manages to parody the typical portrayal of the "tough guy" role, yet injects it with enough humour of his own to make his performance stand out in a typical leader role that could have seen him well overshadowed. Also, Melanie Laurent plays the French Jewish Shoshanna to the best of her capabilities, even if the role is ultimately a stereotypical one that needs rewritten. One role which hasn't been mentioned by critics and I think has been sorely overlooked is that of Martin Luttke as Adolf Hitler. His Adolf Hitler is a brilliantly and deliberately over-the-top portrayal of the dictator which fits in exactly right with the mood and tone of the film, which is just plain insanity. Also, as mentioned, the camerawork is very slick and the cinematography and editing makes the film look the part, so from a technical standpoint, two thumbs up. However, this is where the gribes are going to start, and boy does this critic have a lot of gribes. To start with the pithy, will Tarantino please stop casting his friends in his films because they are his friends?! I mean, Eli Roth in a main role. Eli frickin "Holy Christ, it's that guy who made that crap torture movie, yeah, Hostel man," Roth is in a main acting role. It is a role written simply for the purpose of having Roth in the movie. All he does is look expressionless. In all seriousness, if you were to mistaken Roth's face with some unmoving totem pole, you could quite easily forgiven. He is not wooden, this is solid stone. Also, with all due respect to Tarantino, this stands as proof that the guy has literally gone insane. I mean, people say that the great Werner Herzog is a madman. Madman or not, and I believe not, he's an artiste, to say that Herzog is a madman alongside the anarchy that is witnessed onscreen in Inglourious Basterds is like comparing The Wizard Of Oz and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Here come the big grimes. For a start, the film is far too long and the script is completely unstructured and unneccessarily excessive. I'm not one of those people who likes my films prim and proper and unwilling to push boundaries, but this is not just overstepping the boundaries of sanity, this is quite dilligently defying all logic and meaning and is more close to the drawings of that of an inmate in Arkham Asylum. For starters, the film has way too many plot strands, and is at times like two or three different movies. An idea that came to my head just there was that Tarantino could have focused on one side of the story in each movie and attempted to make this movie his first franchise. Idea and a half eh? The worst example of this is the inclusion of the British in this film. This is a subplot which takes up between twenty and thirty minutes of the film, yet serves no purpose but to introduce Diane Kruger's character. Surely Tarantino has enough sense to write her in in a different manner? But no, he has been blinded by his own madness. In the scene in the British chapter in the bar, I in fact for the first time in ages felt the eyes going down and the dizzyness coming over my head. Yep, I very nearly fell asleep at Inglourious Basterds. With the film being as long as it was as well, I think if I fell asleep in this film I wouldn't have woke up, regardless of the noise and mayhem. Quentin, if you ever read this, I am sorry if I insulted you by calling you insane, but it's just that the first chapter was so tremendous and that I was so disappointed by the film's outcome after such great promise. Next time, in all seriousness, please please learn to compress your stories and make a lean mean machine of a film like we know you are able to. The story for Inglourious Basterds is too big for one film. That's why Kill Bill worked being released in two parts: as a four-hour piece together it works too, its just that you dedicate four hours to a story which is smaller than this story, which is two-and-a-half hours. Also, write less sub-plots as simple excuses to make time on the film. Finally, please don't rush your next film. Work on it and labour for it. This could have been your magnum opus, but instead you rushed too damn quickly to get the film out. I know you have been working on this film for the best part of a decade, but don't be so impatient. Paul Verhoeven had been working on 2006's Black Book since the end of the 1970's and spent six years after Hollow Man attempting to bring it to the screen before final realising his vision. So, in conclusion, while there is some solid acting, particularly from Christoph Waltz, who is certainly up for the end of year Best Supporting Male Actor awards, cinematography, editing and dialogue, the film is ultimately destroyed by it's structural flaws in it's script and plot and the uncontrolled anarchy which Tarantino presents onscreen, which is clearly a reflection of his direction and writing in this film.


On a further note, this has been hard for me to criticise, with my Dad having paid for VIP seats at the Oddyssey (£12 each!) and the fact that I do genuinely like Tarantino, so I hope you all appreciate the effort. Toodles!


The Thin White Dude's Reviews - 6.0/10


The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Deeply saddened and disappointed.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - District 9




Often lazily referred to by people as this year's Cloverfield, the phrase is nonetheless appropriate in many ways. Both are science-fiction films, both are directed by first-time directors in a documentary-esque manner, the films are produced by far more famous producers, J.J Abrams and Peter Jackson respectively. However, where Cloverfield was a romping adrenaline rush of a film, this here is a completely different beast. While Cloverfield exists really as an exciting entertainment film, this is far more dense and deep than last year's mystery film. The story goes that in Johannesburg in 1982, an alien ship suddenly appears and does not move, and the aliens inside must be kept somewhere, so a camp is built for them in order to keep them housed. The film is presented in a rather unique manner. In contrast to the much overly-used at times recent style in which films are shot with a digital camera in a documentary style, for while this is used for numerous scenes, it is also presented in digital film, faux interviews and faux documentaries, so as to create a story which is as grounded in reality as it possibly can be. Which is really what set's this movie apart from the rest of these films. While most attempt to ground their films in reality, they really more or less disconnect their audience from the action, whereas with this you completely involved. To start with the good of this film, of which there is a lot, I was greatly impressed by Sharlto Copley as Wikus van der Merwe. In what truthfully could have been a nothing role and merely an excuse for an effects movie to exist, Copley completely grasps this role with both hands reached out, giving a role that both surprised and impressed me with it's multi-facetedness. Copley improvises all of his dialogue during the eviction sequence, a sequence which is key to setting up the hypocrisies and three-dimensional portions of his character. Also, he is genuinely well written as a character otherwise, with his journey throughout the film giving him a rather interesting character arc, which sees him transform as a human being throughout the course of the film. Also, Neill Blomkamp does a brilliant job of directing this piece, especially as a first-time director. This is a project that even Peter Jackson, the film's producer would have found challenging, but Blomkamp makes the film's direction and focus seem so relaxed throughout. Another thing that is pulled off brilliantly here which done very rarely these days is that this is quite clearly a science-fiction as much about humans as it is aliens. The film's depiction of the suffering of the aliens is quite clearly a social commentary on slavery, with the way that the unwitting aliens are locked up and isolated and on xenophobia and racism in the way that the human's treat and exploit the aliens, such as the slang name "prawn" being used to refer to them as a result of their resemblance to the food. Also, not only is it a social commentary, a good one at that, it is a very scathing satire of capitalism, the arms trade and the security forces of America in general. This fits with the argument very much that only foreign directors can make satires on America, such as Robocop by Paul Verhoeven being the prime example. Finally with regards to the themes, it is also as much about human nature as anything else. The film suggests to the viewer, is it really humans who are corrupt, or are they corrupted by the world around them? It is questions like this which really challenged the viewer. Also, one thing that must be talked about and must be noted by producers, particularly in our current economic climate. Transformer 2: Revenge of the Fallen was made for a grand budget of $200 million as one of the most expensive films ever made. If anything, the visual effects in this are as good, if not better, and let's face it, guess which is the better movie. District 9 was made for a budget of $30 million small by Hollywood standards, yet the effects and action sequences hit with the panache of a movie of five times this budget. The production of this film is stellar on the part of Jackson, and he deserves commendation for producing a Hollywood blockbuster of a film at it's best and keeping the film relatively low-budget by Hollywood standards. This film and Cloverfield stand as proof that you can make damn good Hollywood blockbusters for lower budgets and beat at their own game by making damn good films full stop. Producers should be released ten of these films a year intead of bloated messes like the Transformers franchise. If you want to look at it selfishly and financially, The Transformers films were made for a budget $350 million together. Together they made over $1.5 billion. While District 9 is still is the cinema, with it's current $120 million gross, I think it will leave with $140 million at an estimate. If you made ten District 9's for $30 millions, estimated gross would be $1.4 billion. Oops, I'm sorry, the Wombles (my word for moguls, coincidentally, is quite like muggles) are down $100 million. Don't worry, because you've still got $50 million left, you can make another one, just to be sure. It's that easy. And, I forgot to add, with the $20 million left over you can make some really good low-budget films. Overally revenue at rough estimate: $1.8 billion. With money like that, I could fund my entire film career for life and have about nine tenths of it left over! Anyway, excuse the way off topic digression, we'll get back to District 9. Unfortunately we have come to that stage where I must point out the film's issues, of which there are few but halt the film's acension to the higher echelons of science-fiction. At 112 minutes, the films around twenty minutes too long, and a shorter film would certainly have made the themes which the film-makers are trying to get across come more to the forefront. Also, while the action sequences certainly are very impressive, they at times lack effectiveness and can be quite numbing, disconnecting us from the reality that the film is quite clearly entrenched, the best action sequence being between Wikus, the alien Christopher Johnson and the MNU operatives on their attack on the building. Also, at times the script is rather troubling, particularly as the film gets on, suffering from the old syndrome in science-fiction of such a strong film throughout hitting a real dead end. You just feel that while it is entertaining, the film really has just given up and decided to revert to the primitive excuses resorted to by the likes of Michael Bay and Tony Scott. Is it a masterpiece? No it is not, but it is certainly a great film, a genuine suprise and a real pleasure to watch, proving that 2009 might well be the year of the re-emergence of serious science-fiction with Moon also heading up that category. All and all, a good, solid film that really touches all bases (no connotations please) in the variety of film audience member's categories.


The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 8.6/10


The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Pleased

Saturday, 12 September 2009

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Let The Right One In




Here I have on my hands today is a movie which has been highly anticipated by myself and rather unique in cinema in that it's attention is not coming from resounding box-office success or awards or critical acclaim, but more on the power of word-of-mouth. Let The Right One In has been creeping around the whispers of film fans for much of the past year. As a result of these whispers and missing the film in the cinema, I eventually bought the book, thinking that this may well be just an alright book which has made into a greatly successful film. However, I fell in love with John Ajvide Lindqvist's book. The story itself is an absolute original, the likes of which are hard to come across these days in all forms of creativity, so there is already solid footing, with Lindqvist serving here as screenwriter adapting his own book. The story goes that young loner Oskar, an eleven-year-old Swedish boy in the 1980's, who live with his single mother, meets the mysterious Eli, who has moved in next door. A friendship develops between the two, with the discovery by Oskar with regards to Eli's strange habits that she is a vampire. While this is revealed by confession relatively well into the movie it's not exactly a spoiler, of which there are numerous plot twists and turns throughout, though none are really inappropriate. To start with what is good about the movie, let's start with the two young leads. The entire movie is laid upon the shoulders of the two leads in this film, and if these roles were to be unsuccessful and unconvincing then the whole movie would have been for nought. When casting the film, it took the film-makers over a year of auditions to find their two leads, something which is unheard of today with regards to a casting process. The meticulousness of the casting process has paid off to say the least. Kare Hedebrant gives a strong performance as the twisted and tormented young Oskar, creating a genuinely scary at times child but never unsympathetic despite his introverted and ocassionally violent tendancies. These aspects of angst and reclusion are really well contrasted with the more relatable aspects of his character, that of the inner child in everyone which we can all relate to. Also, Lina Leandersson delivers her role as the young vampire with great intelligence. Similar to the role played by Hedebrant, she must contrast a different aspect of her character, that of being a supernatural creature, with that of the character original being and instinct in many ways, the inner child. The aspect of childhood and inner child is explored brilliantly in this film, and both of the lead actors are certainly in the short-lists for my year-end awards for lead acting. Also solid with regards to this film is the direction of Tomas Alfredson, who truthfully brings to the screen, excuse the cliche, an unfilmable book. He has quite obviously done great work with the lead actors, making their chemistry and relationship work brilliantly and consistently throughout. Also, this is a film which does not go over-the-top with regards to it's direction. Alfredson directs with such restrain but dedication to the material throughout that one cannot help but admire what he has crafted, and himself is on the short-list for the year-end awards. Another aspect of the film which worked for me surprisingly well was the composition. Normally, while I do not like to say I like a specific type of composition, I absolutely hate it whenever films have scores which tell me when to laugh, when to cry et al. However, the score of this film, which is one of these grand scores filled with orchestra to convey emotion, actually fits with this film. It did not annoy me, and I was very concious of this throughout. I think that this score which was full of emotion perfectly fitted the delicate poetic romanticism which is prominent throughout, but is also reminiscent of Pan's Labrinyth in it's dark fairy-tale manner. Finally, the cinematography, while certainly nothing new or innovative, is perfect for this film and not over-the-top, once again perfectly restrained with story and emotion being key. So, I'm one is under the assumption by now they are reading a glowing review? Well you're right, but one can't help but point out one specific flaw which stops it from hitting the upper echelons of film. Yes, the film is certainly a masterpiece, but there is one specific flaw which really annoys me. In this story, there is a sub-plot which is in more detail in the book, which I have no problem with but here, the characters still play a key part to the story, but their characters are very two-dimensional, despite their key part in moving the story on and getting a great amount of screen-time. Now Lindqvist, while being perfect for the job of writing a screenplay to his book, has a tough job, which while at times admirably handled, particularly with regards to Oskar and Eli, is not entirely pulled off. Whereas the character of Hakan is stripped down brilliantly, removing an entire sub-plot involving him, but keeping certain elements which make his character fit in, the characters of Lacke, Gosta, Virginia and Jocke are merely there and completely undeveloped despite their significant screen-time in the supporting manner. While obviously things must be stripped down in adaptation, this aspect is not pulled off properly and proves to be a great annoyance. However, despite this Lindqvist screenplay is the nice, lighter and poetic side of the Let The Right One In story as opposed to the dark, brutal nihilism in which Oskar and Eli's friendship emerges. All in all, bare the odd screenplay problem, which should have been expanded, although it is hard to balance this between the focus on Oskar and Eli, the film is a masterpiece and a true original, bringing an amazing to life onscreen and exposing a modern-day fairy tale to a wider audience.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 9.0/10

The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Touched

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - The Taking Of Pelham 123 (Re-Post)


Excuse forgetfulness. Combination of hunger and crossness. Toodles. Oh, and on a further note, High School Musical 3: Senior Year was fantastic.
Okay, a long-belated review on my hands here, The Taking Of Pelham 123. Now, this film has some real good potential, and I'm not going to lie, I did go into the film with an open mind and heart, hoping that I would be pleasantly surprised. I mean, John Travolta, now I know he has made some real crap lately, but this is a guy who was brilliant in Saturday Night Fever and Pulp Fiction and to a lesser extent Face/Off, which I quite liked. Travolta is like Sylvester Stallone but worse in that he can say for all the crap he's made, he has given two genuinely great performances, but they are really the only reasons he is still famous, apart from flying aeroplanes and being the second most famous scientologist in Hollywood. Then we have the great Denzel Washington, who established reputation in the 1990's in indie films by Spike Lee, but also established his reputation as far back as 1989 when he won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Glory. Throughout the 90's he was one of the most consistent leading men in the world, and then it seems after he won the Oscar for Training Day, he seems to have hit a brick wall and put his feet up. Then we have the majesterial talent that is Tony Scott, creator of Top Gun and Enemy Of The State, and culprit for recent slew such as Deja Vu, which was the first recipient of my annual Ed Wood Award For Worst Film Of The Year, so in many senses Tony Scott really owe's me one. Not that that is a hard thing to do seeing as how his older brother Ridley is director of the likes of Blade Runner and Alien and Gladiator and a number of brilliant films so excuse the favourtism Tony. But anyway, story goes that John Travolta and his team of bad guys take siege inside a subway train and Denzel Washington, who plays an MTA dispatcher, and is the expert on the subways who becomes entrapped in this plot, a case of Die Hard syndrome, wrong day, wrong time, wrong place. Now, perhaps the best thing about this movie is the fact that this movie is a siege movie, so it limits the amount of destruction that Tony Scott can cause, so at least in some ways in this film he is under reigns and controlled. The best scenes in the movie really are the conversations between Washington and Travolta over the phone, showing a strong potential for a good solid film. Travolta, while being decidedly over-the-top with his performance throughout, adds at least some interesting elements and character arcs to what would be an otherwise uninteresting villain. Washington likewise plays his character of the everyman very competently. However, as I said, competently, in that they do seem to be acting rather lazily and just having a laugh while making a movie, not that that is a bad thing, but it does seem like a couple of really lazy performances. Most underutilised is the talents of James Gandolfini, who is a genuinely good actor, but is completely underused. And on the topic while we're here, there really is no point in Luiz Guzman being in the film. His role is a nothing role which could have been played by an unknown. The real problems with Pelham 123 are more or less the same case throughout every category in the film. Tony Scott, who I really hate, shows promise and control with solid direction in some scenes, proving he can indeed direct to some degree, but then he just inserts something as random filler. The worst examples of this would be the absolutely dreadful cutaways to the police cars attempting to deliver the money across New York. Now, I can be quite suspicious of the police sometimes, particular the American police, but I am pretty that no where in the history of the world has there been more incompetent police officers than those in this film. As they are attempting to deliver the money across New York, they are forever crashing into things and destroying their own cars. Also, another example would be the death of Guzman's character, who gets shot because a sniper has his gun aimed at him and accidently pulls the trigger because a rat bites him. A frigging rat! These scenes really only exist for the purpose of demeaning the audiences sensibilities completely. I can imagine production meetings on these scenes: "Now, here we'll insert a crash, oh, let's kill Luiz Guzman there, because quite clearly the audience will be bored if we let John and Denzel talk too much." Listen you damn idiots, we are not stupid and we demand proper films. I completely agree with Roger Ebert on this one, who said, "There's not much wrong with Tony Scott's "The Taking Of Pelham 123," except that there's not much really right about it." That is completely correct. The Taking Of Pelham 123 is not dreadful, but it is not good, just a really, really lazy attempt at feature film coming from "Hollywood's most successful." Piss off and crawl under a stone. I do not want to see any of you until I see a proper film.
The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 4.3/10
The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Pretty Angry!

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - The Taking Of Pelham 123

Okay, a long-belated review on my hands here, The Taking Of Pelham 123. Now, this film has some real good potential, and I'm not going to lie, I did go into the film with an open mind and heart, hoping that I would be pleasantly surprised. I mean, John Travolta, now I know he has made some real crap lately, but this is a guy who was brilliant in Saturday Night Fever and Pulp Fiction and to a lesser extent Face/Off, which I quite liked. Travolta is like Sylvester Stallone but worse in that he can say for all the crap he's made, he has given two genuinely great performances, but they are really the only reasons he is still famous, apart from flying aeroplanes and being the second most famous scientologist in Hollywood. Then we have the great Denzel Washington, who established reputation in the 1990's in indie films by Spike Lee, but also established his reputation as far back as 1989 when he won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Glory. Throughout the 90's he was one of the most consistent leading men in the world, and then it seems after he won the Oscar for Training Day, he seems to have hit a brick wall and put his feet up. Then we have the majesterial talent that is Tony Scott, creator of Top Gun and Enemy Of The State, and culprit for recent slew such as Deja Vu, which was the first recipient of my annual Ed Wood Award For Worst Film Of The Year, so in many senses Tony Scott really owe's me one. Not that that is a hard thing to do seeing as how his older brother Ridley is director of the likes of Blade Runner and Alien and Gladiator and a number of brilliant films so excuse the favourtism Tony. But anyway, story goes that John Travolta and his team of bad guys take siege inside a subway train and Denzel Washington, who plays an MTA dispatcher, and is the expert on the subways who becomes entrapped in this plot, a case of Die Hard syndrome, wrong day, wrong time, wrong place. Now, perhaps the best thing about this movie is the fact that this movie is a siege movie, so it limits the amount of destruction that Tony Scott can cause, so at least in some ways in this film he is under reigns and controlled. The best scenes in the movie really are the conversations between Washington and Travolta over the phone, showing a strong potential for a good solid film. Travolta, while being decidedly over-the-top with his performance throughout, adds at least some interesting elements and character arcs to what would be an otherwise uninteresting villain. Washington likewise plays his character of the everyman very competently. However, as I said, competently, in that they do seem to be acting rather lazily and just having a laugh while making a movie, not that that is a bad thing, but it does seem like a couple of really lazy performances. Most underutilised is the talents of James Gandolfini, who is a genuinely good actor, but is completely underused. And on the topic while we're here, there really is no point in Luiz Guzman being in the film. His role is a nothing role which could have been played by an unknown. The real problems with Pelham 123 are more or less the same case throughout every category in the film. Tony Scott, who I really hate, shows promise and control with solid direction in some scenes, proving he can indeed direct to some degree, but then he just inserts something as random filler. The worst examples of this would be the absolutely dreadful cutaways to the police cars attempting to deliver the money across New York. Now, I can be quite suspicious of the police sometimes, particular the American police, but I am pretty that no where in the history of the world has there been more incompetent police officers than those in this film. As they are attempting to deliver the money across New York, they are forever crashing into things and destroying their own cars. Also, another example would be the death of Guzman's character, who gets shot because a sniper has his gun aimed at him and accidently pulls the trigger because a rat bites him. A frigging rat! These scenes really only exist for the purpose of demeaning the audiences sensibilities completely. I can imagine production meetings on these scenes: "Now, here we'll insert a crash, oh, let's kill Luiz Guzman there, because quite clearly the audience will be bored if we let John and Denzel talk too much." Listen you damn idiots, we are not stupid and we demand proper films. I completely agree with Roger Ebert on this one, who said, "There's not much wrong with Tony Scott's "The Taking Of Pelham 123," except that there's not much really right about it." That is completely correct. The Taking Of Pelham 123 is not dreadful, but it is not good, just a really, really lazy attempt at feature film coming from "Hollywood's most successful." Piss off and crawl under a stone. I do not want to see any of you until I see a proper film.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 4.3/10

The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Pretty Angry!

The Return Of The Thin White Dude

Right to clear up, I have reviews for The Taking Of The Pelham 123 and Let The Right One In upcoming soon. Unfortunately I didn't get to review either of the Mesrine films because I bought the first one at the airport in France flying home, after being told the film had English language subtitles, only to find that the only "sous-titres" on the disc are in French. Real bummer. Nonetheless, I march forth and the above mentioned will be reviewed in the coming week.