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Wednesday, 26 September 2012

The Thin White Dude's Movie Of The Month: August 2012 - Ted



A hilarious highlight of the summer season that wins you over within the first few minutes. Boasting a solid script that is put over by an unquestionably great lead performance by Mark Wahlberg, Seth MacFarlane's feature film debut is good fun. The animation and sound synchronisation between the live-action Wahlberg and the CGI bear Ted is flawless, contributing to a superior comedy that certainly isn't lacking where originality is concerned.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 7.8/10

Runner-Up: This Must Be The Place - Little Miss Sunshine-esque in tone, featuring a memorable protagonist in Cheyenne, played by a subtle and nuanced Sean Penn. Very funny film.

Second-Most Deadly Disease: The Expendables 2 - Republicans-'R-Us in this back-slapping monstrosity of a film, made more terrible by the fact that I actually enjoyed it.

Avoid Like The Plague: Chill - A consistent but uniformly pants and underwhelming horror film. Credit where credit is due to Serge Rodnunsky though.


Monday, 24 September 2012

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - This Must Be The Place



Directed by: Paolo Sorrentino

Produced by: Francesca Cima
Nicola Giuliano
Andrea Occhipinti

Screenplay by: Paolo Sorrentino
Umberto Contarello

Story by: Paolo Sorrentino

Starring: Sean Penn
Frances McDormand
Judd Hirsch
Eve Hewson
Kerry Condon
Harry Dean Stanton
Joyce Van Patten
David Byrne

Cinematography by: Luca Bigazzi

Editing by: Christiano Travaglioli

Studio(s): Lucky Red
Medusa Film
Indigo Film

Distributed by: Element Pictures

Release date(s): May 20, 2011 (Cannes Film Festival)
August 24, 2011 (France)
October 14, 2011 (Italy)
March 21, 2012 (Ireland)
April 6, 2012 (United Kingdom)

Running time: 118 minutes

Country(s): Ireland
Italy

Language: English

Production budget: (N/A)

Box office revenue: $11, 647, 000


Hey hey, folks. As seems to be the usual procedure, you can probably tell by now I've been a bit on the slow front, in case I haven't yammered on about it already. So, after this review, which will be my last for the month of August (yes, August!), I'll proceed forward with a Movie of the Month and cracking on into the month of September. I can guarantee reviews for Dredd and Samsara, and somewhere along the lines there'll be something for Chronicle, so ladies and germs, as ever, in case I haven't said it before (and in case I have said in case already!), keep your eyes posted.

Right, so, today's film is This Must Be The Place. It is the new picture from Italian director Paolo Sorrentino, who had made a name for himself in the international film world with films such as The Consequences Of Love, The Family Friend and Il Divo (not related to the Simon Cowell pet project of the same name). Starring Sean Penn, who was impressed with Sorrentino's previous film at the 2008 Cannes Film Fesival, of which he headed the jury, This Must Be The Place follows Cheyenne, a rich, middle-aged rock star living in Dublin. Bored with retirement, he heads to New York to be reunited with his dying father, only to arrive too late. Jaded at ther poor relationship and his failure to reconcile with him, he sets out to travel across America to find the SS officer who persecuted his father in Auschwitz during the Holocaust.

To start off the review, almost with a disclaimer given the plot synopsis, this is not a po-faced existential drama, okay. I think it was very wise for Sorrentino and his fellow screenwriter Umberto Contarello to go for a more humorous tone that might be expected of this type of film. In essence, it is a comedy along the lines of Little Miss Sunshine, as it has elements of drama but is kept entertaining by the comedic side of things. There are some genuinely hilarious moments that rely not on gross-out humour, but on the amusing events that can happen in our everyday lives. Scenes involving the lead character in day-to-day routine activities, such as wandering around in a shopping centre and supermarket become nice little pieces of situational comedy. Most of this is down to the larger-than-life Cheyenne, who is written terrifically on paper, but truly succeeds due to the performance of Sean Penn. It is the least overt 'Sean Penn' performance I have seen in years, and the mellow, quiet Cheyenne is a complete portrait of nuances. Little things like his blowing of the one strand of hair that never seems to stay in place, his bizarre stop-start squeak of a laugh, and his soft-spoken way of speaking. Above and beyond the great job the make-up, hair and costume department have done with him, Cheyenne is made whole by Penn's naturalistic acting. Also worthy of mention in a positive light is Luca Bigazzi's innovative cinematography. There are quite a few long takes, but in virtually none of them is the camera static. The scene that I thought at first was going into overkill at the David Byrne concert sees the camera eventually swoop round and bring its focus on the solitary figure of Cheyenne, looking rather sullen in the midst of the performance of This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody). Bigazzi's long takes emphasise the efforts of the actors craft, and tell us, through engaging camera movements and without ramming it down our throats, the emotional angst of Cheyenne. As such, in this vein I must congratulate the tact with which editor Christiano Travaglioli has cut the film. The long takes are one of the film's unique characteristics, and a more slash-happy editor could have ruined the effect created by them. Finally, as a director Paolo Sorrentino maintains a certain level of control about the overall proceedings. This Must Be The Place could have been a really messy film, but the fact that Sorrentino focuses (for the most part) on the characteristic that make the film stand out from the pack means that he should be applauded. 

These kind things being said, there are a number of issues involved with the film. Just as a sort of preface, I'll try not to sound like I'm repeating myself, but these are issues that have been cropping up time and again in films this past month. For starters, I have a few problems with the screenplay. It's not bad, it might even be a good screenplay, but there are some issues. I think Cheyenne's meeting with all these minor characters in what is essentially a road movie is occasionally troublesome. Most of these encounters cover the same ground that we have went over before, and structurally the screenplay repeats itself, like a number of shots late in the film, over and over again. It means that although the film is pretty consistent, it is also cursed with an inherent repetitiveness. Perhaps Sorrentino should have delegated more power in the collaborative process to other people, as auteur/writer-directors sometimes get too involved and can't objectively judge their own material. Also, an this is where the broken record comes into place, I was frustrated by the use of the music. Don't get me wrong, I like Talking Heads (in particular More Songs About Building And Food), and This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody) is used well in the film as an appropriate anthem, but I thought the other music was uninspired. Also, the music interjected too much in the traditional style of film scores, and thus like all of art's great paradoxes, the right places to put a score become the predictable wrong places. Furthermore, it did reek a bit of the Emotional Heartstrings Orchestra. Sorry, David, the scales of my own personal sense of justice have spoken!

Despite these problems, This Must Be The Place remains a very good film. Sorrentino as a director keeps a good level and control, doing his best to flag up the film's unique characteristics. In particular, the tone of absurdism is an inspired decision, making what could have been an incredibly po-faced drama become at heart a whimsical, playful comedy with some dramatic moments. These scenes are often elevated by the strength of Luca Bigazzi's cinematography. The driving force here is of course the character of Cheyenne, who not only is well-written on paper, but wonderfully realised in a restrained, subtle and nuanced performance from Sean Penn.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 7.5/10

The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - A strange one (for some reason I don't feel like I don't have much to do)

Monday, 17 September 2012

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - The Bourne Legacy



Directed by: Tony Gilroy

Produced by: Frank Marshall
Patrick Crowley

Screenplay by: Tony Gilroy
Dan Gilroy

Story by: Tony Gilroy

Based on: The Bourne series by Robert Ludlum

Starring: Jeremy Renner
Rachel Weisz
Edward Norton

Music by: James Newton Howard

Cinematography by: Robert Elswit

Editing by: John Gilroy

Studio(s): Relativity Media
The Kennedy/Marshall Company

Distributed by: Universal Pictures

Release date(s): August 10, 2012 (United States)
August 13, 2012 (United Kingdom)

Running time: 135 minutes

Country(s): United States
Philippines

Language: English

Production budget: $125 million

Box office revenue (as of publication): $198, 917, 000



Well, as you can see, activity has been slow for the month of August now that it is mid-September. I've got a review for this and This Must Be The Place on the way, and then I'll be posting my Movie Of The Month for August. However, despite this sporadic at best reviewing, I will be getting back to Queens in the next week or two, with a QFT Membership card on the ready and about £30 worth of vouchers for the Strand cinema. So, for reviews on Dredd and Samsara, the latest picture from Ron Fricke, who I am a big fan of, keep your eyes posted.

Rightio, the film up for review today is The Bourne Legacy. An oddball case right off the bat in that this is a 'Bourne' film minus Matt Damon's Jason Bourne, it conjures up an interesting debate as to whether or not a series can continue without the main character, much less a recasting a la The Amazing Spider-Man. Also, lets face facts, it certain wasn't necessary to continue this story that came to a definitive conclusion with 2007's terrific The Bourne Ultimatum. This time round, Jeremy Renner is cast as Aaron Cross, an agent of Operation Outcome, a department that works upon the physical and mental abilities of their operatives via pills referred to as 'chems.' Cross is in Alaska for a training assignment while the activities of Jason Bourne expose Operation Blackbriar and The Treadstone Project, leading CIA director Ezra Kramer (Scott Glenn) to hire Eric Byer (Edward Norton) to oversee the CIA's operations from here on. Byer's tactical line is to tear the whole Treadstone project to the ground, including the agents working for it, and so we enter familiar territory of the lead hero running and running and running and running...

But that slightly sarcastic tone is not to say that it's a bad movie. In fact, I would go so far as to say that The Bourne Legacy is a good film. For starters, there is a strong enough cast at work to lend the film some credibility to the proceedings. Jeremy Renner is always a satisfying screen presence, and depicts Cross with a sense of pathos, and appropriately conveys his character's identity crisis without tipping over into too much melodrama. Also, as far as a physical performance goes, it's pretty solid. Ed Norton is good as Byer, and I think he's just about the best candidate for a go-to guy who can talk very fast about a lot of different topics and make it sound like he knows this stuff like the back of his hand. The standout here though is Rachel Weisz. It requires great skill and charisma to take what is essentially a nothing part and put it over as legitimate, and she does this tremendously. Bringing the same likability to her character that we saw from her in the first two Mummy films (though minus the gags and plus an American accent), she makes the character of Marta Shearing engaging. Other elements of The Bourne Legacy are worthy of mention. Robert Elswit's cinematography is interesting, in that he is speaks disdainfully of shooting in the digital photographic process, so what we find is that takes his aesthetic of shooting on film and applies it to what is essentially a digital franchise. It makes for an artistic contrast, particularly where editing is regarded, and the clarity and quality of the image, doing his earnest to capture the action for us, ensures that The Bourne Legacy might well be the best-shot film of the series. Also, with a big-budget production, comes big-budget production values, with the film's overall design and mise-en-scene looking terrific, keeping the series firmly entrenched in the real world. Finally, as ever, the stunt team do an excellent job. If there's one thing that I think a lot of fans warmed to with the Bourne films, it was that the fight and chase sequences were almost always physically performed, especially in the wake of so much special effects. The choreography in this film's extended action sequences is just stunning, and while this is an occasionally erratic film, never once during its actions scenes was I bored. You can feel the impact, and I have to admire that, at least spiritually, Tony Gilroy and co have attempted to retain the real world aesthetic set out by the previous films.

That said, while I credit Tony Gilroy for retaining much of the spirit of the Bourne series, I cannot wholly credit him for his work here, as there are a lot of inconsistencies in terms how engaging the film is at various points. Now, it is obvious that a lot is going on here, but Tony and brother Dan Gilroy's screenplay made me ask myself the question (that I should have to ask I first place) "Do I really care what is going on?" My answer for that was no. Throughout the film, I was bombarded with a ton of information, what's going on, how this relates to that which was going in the previous films etc. There is just way too much going on, and the only bits I can really remember were the action sequences and the film's quieter, more human moments, usually featuring Renner and Weisz. That sequence with Cross walking in solitude in Alaska is a strong opening, and I will credit the film's dialogue, but structurally it is all over the place. Furthermore, the film just ends without any true sense of finality, both in terms of plot and narrative sense. Unfortunately, this is a fault that can be laid at the feet of writer-director Tony Gilroy: it's not a bad job, but it was not as good as it needed to be. Also, while not an overt problem, John Gilroy's editing is at times a bit too fast on the cutting, more so in the non-action scenes. Finally, and I know followers of my reviews will say I'm nitpicking, but James Newton Howard's score is poor. Sometimes it is nice to have an action sequence without music, as opposed to punctuating every punch, kick and O-soto-gari that Aaron Cross pulls out of his repertoire. Also, the film's quieter scenes aren't really that quiet, with the score always a lingering and generally bothersome presence. I like James Newton Howard, but this was too much Emotional Heartstrings Orchestra.

Despite these obvious glaring issues in direction, screenplay structure, a lack of emotional involvement, choppy editing and an over-indulgent score, I still find myself in retrospect thinking that The Bourne Legacy is a good film. There's some strong acting, particularly from Renner and Weisz, Elswit's cinematography is perhaps the best of the series, the production design is great, and as per usual, a Bourne film is the measuring stick for quality stunts and action choreography.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 6.3/10

The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Busy (between reading Gogol's Dead Souls, a screening and discussion on Ron Fricke's Samsara at QFT, work with EventSec, getting reading to head back to Queens, I'm leading a full existence right now)

P.S. WWE Night Of Champions 2012 had one of the best endings to a PPV in ages. Loved it!

Monday, 10 September 2012

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Shadow Dancer




Directed by: James Marsh

Screenplay by: Tom Bradby

Based on: Shadow Dancer by Tom Bradby

Starring: Andrea Riseborough
Clive Owen
Gillian Anderson
Aidan Gillen
Domhnall Gleeson
Brid Brennan
David Wilmot

Cinematography by: Rob Hardy

Editing by: Nina Gold

Studio(s): Irish Film Board
BBC Films
UKFS
Element Pictures
Unanimous Pictures

Distributed by: Paramount Pictures (United Kingdom)
ATO Pictures (United States)

Release date(s): January 24, 2012 (United States - Sundance Film Festival)
August 24, 2012 (United Kingdom)

Running time: 101 mins

Country(s): United Kingdom
Ireland

Language: English

Production budget: (Unavailable)

Box office revenue: (Unavailable)



Hey hey, folks, the wheels are still rolling on (did I use this cliched metaphor in my last review as well?), and I'm keeping myself busy. I've got The Bourne Legacy and This Must Be The Place on the queue to be reviewed and I'm looking forward in particular to one movie: Dredd. Judge Dredd is one of  my favourite characters and is the ultimate badass, so I've got high hopes for the new movie. I'll try my best to be unbiased on this one, but I'm not making any guarantees, I'll probably be marking out like a freak! Keep your eyes posted for that one in particular!

Today's film here is Shadow Dancer, the new film from James Marsh, who directed 2005's The King. Primarily known for his documentary films Wisconsin Death Trip and the award-winning Man On Wire, this film is a return to fictional territory. Shadow Dancer follows Collete McVeigh (Andrea Riseborough), a member of the I.R.A. who is forced to become an informant for M.I.5. Set in 1990s Belfast, we're talking about the tail-end of The Troubles, but we are still in that 'Troubles Territory.' I'm always fascinated by the representation of Belfast from the outside looking in, especially given that not many films are coming out of Belfast made by people who have lived there. That said, I'm a believer in the outsider theory. I mean, Robocop is the best movie about Reagan-era 1980s America, and that was made by a Dutchman! If I was to recommend movies about The Troubles, I'd mention Alan Clarke's Elephant and Paul Greengrass' Bloody Sunday, both of whom are Englishmen. Nevertheless, The Troubles are a touchy subject to this day over here, and although I'm supposed to be unbiased, I was worried about getting pissed off at the depiction of my hometown and it's residents. We'll leave the opinions to the bulk of the review!

So starting with the good, I thought that Andrea Riseborough gave a great lead performance as Collete McVeigh. She has a lot of things to deal with character wise, and handles them all with restraint and finesse. She refuses to tipple into over-dramatic territory, always infusing a reality and believability to the character. Constructing a wise, intelligently constructed portrait, Riseborough is the centrepiece of the film, and deserves praise for doing this part in such a brave way. Also good on the acting front is Clive Owen, who's pretty much always, no matter what the project (just look at Killer Elite), a reliable screen presence. Although he may be considered too old now, I still think he could be a great James Bond. Rob Hardy's digital cinematography also contributes to the film's sense of location and place in the real world. Shaky-cam cliches are absent here, and we are able to see what is going on throughout. Also, Hardy's work is engaging, so that we see these conversations go on many different ways. When the camera is moving, it is done with a documentarian's agenda in mind, a high-point being a terrific shot that lasts roughly two minutes, following a planned hit. In the same sense, I was pleased that the editorial department employed the same aesthetic, so the movie remained consistently technically throughout. Finally, I respect the fact that director James Marsh has shown some tact, both in addressing touchy subject matter, but also in ensuring that Shadow Dancer is at least a consistent film and that there is a level of control exuded.

Shadow Dancer is a consistent film, and while this makes it an admirable film, it is also a uniform film, in that it doesn't have enough to make it stand out from the crowd. For instance, the script, while not bad, is murder-by-numbers and although put into the context of 1990s Belfast, has been done time and time again, and in better ways. I knew just about every which way this film turned before it did, and even the proverbial twists and turns that come with the triller genre did not surprise me at all. Also, while I think Riseborough's Collete is good, none of the other characters onscreen are developed well enough for the actors to give solid performances. When you realise that it's Gillian Anderson and Aidan Gillen onscreen, you can't help but think their parts could have been developed more. Furthermore, the uniformity means that it does got occasionally boring in parts. Also, this movie is afflicted with a terminal case of the Emotional Heartstrings Orchestra. This overly broody score by Dickon Hinchliffe, which frankly would be bad in its own right, is at clash with the aesthetic set out by the technical departments and direction. Although it features newer instruments, this is the kind of score that in the 1940s would have been more appropriate in a Hollywood melodrama. It's completely out of place, and gives a stinky air of contrivance to what might otherwise be engaging scenes. 

Despite these outstanding flaws in the music and screenplay department, Shadow Dancer is still a good, satisfactory film. James Marsh's direction is solid, and I have a lot of respect for the aesthetic set out in the film's technical department, most specifically in the editing and the cinematography. Clive Owen is a great actor, but Shadow Dancer's centre is a terrific lead performance by Andrea Riseborough, who puts over this film's legitimacy in a part that is complex, interesting and wise in its restrained believability.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 6.1/10 

The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Great (the craic was good round my birthday celebrations!)

P.S. That's not the Newtonards Road!


Monday, 3 September 2012

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - The Expendables 2



Directed by: Simon West

Produced by: Avi Lerner
Danny Lerner
Kevin King Templeton
Les Weldon

Screenplay by: Richard Wenk
Sylvester Stallone

Story by: Ken Kaufman
David Agosto
Richard Wenk

Based on: Character created by David Callahan

Starring: Sylvester Stallone
Jason Statham
Jet Li
Dolph Lundgren
Chuck Norris
Terry Crews
Randy Couture
Liam Hemsworth
Jean-Claude Van Damme
Bruce Willis
Arnold Schwarzenegger

Music by: Brian Tyler

Cinematography by: Shelly Johnson

Editing by: Todd E. Miller

Studio(s): Nu Image
Millenium Films

Distributed by: Lionsgate

Release date(s): August 16, 2012 (United Kingdom)
August 17, 2012 (United States)

Running time: 103 minutes

Country: United States

Language: English

Production budget: $100 million

Box office revenue (as of publication): $135, 059, 000



Right folks, ears ringing like a mawfo after last night's great gig at The Warzone Centre in Bruce Street: nothing like three hours of hardcore punk to get all that excess energy out of your system, I slept like a baby when I got home. The Lobotomies, Droppin Bombs, Skeleton Crew, Runnin Riot and 1000 Drunken Nights gave us a cracking night. So, if I sound like I'm digressing or don't seem to be interested in this review, it's because my head is here, there and elsewhere. Still, keep an eye out for my upcoming reviews. Posted! Comprende? (Damn no accent English thing bringing out the grammar bitch in me!)

Today's film up for review in the viewing gallery is The Expendables 2. In the past, I have accused (quite rightly) of being easy on Sylvester Stallone, and I have no qualms about the fact that I am an unashamed, completely biased fan of the big, brash, live-action stunt-filled and borderline homo-erotic action movies of the 1980s/early 1990s. To me, these are action movies with balls and testosterone, and even the bad ones put most of todays action films, full of CGI and self-important pomp and circumstance, to shame. I like my action movies to be morally suspect and in your face, they're so much more fun when it comes to political arguments. I say most, but then I remember we still have Christopher Nolan. So, Stallone, he of Rocky, one of the greatest dramas ever made, he of First Blood, one of the best action movies ever made, he of The Special one of the..... scratch that one while I admire the gathering tumbleweed. I like Stallone, but after seeing the first Expendables, even with the benefit of a helping of Budweiser and Pringles, I was rather disappointed. Yes, the meeting between Stallone, Willis and Schwarzenegger was cool, yes, Mickey Rourke's monologue was a standout moment, but goddam is it a poor movie, and not even an entertainingly poor movie like Norbit or something. With Simon 'CON AIR!' West at the helm, I was willing to give The Expendables crew a fresh start to impress me. This time round, after a mission goes wrong, resulting in the death of one of their own, the returning Expendables embark on a revenge mission against Jean Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme), a rival mercenary who is threatening the world with deadly weapons. Nuff said about the plot!

Shooting from the hip about the good of The Expendables 2, the tonal shift of the film from the first is a welcome move. The original was a film that reeked of self-importance and completely contradicted the aesthetic set out by Stallone as a director. Here, I get the bald, shameless and morally suspect action movie that I wanted. I mean, it is absolutely ludicrous how much these guys love each other. Every line by Schwarzenegger seems to be in some way a Terminator reference, and Chuck Norris' appearance even makes reference to the Chuck Norris facts, for goodness sake. Me and my good friend at Danland Movies were very vocal in our opinions, even while were in the cinema, because there are just so many 'Oh My God! They Aren't Going To? Are They? Yep they did!' moments throughout. However, even if they are slapping each other on the back and licking each other's backsides, that's the way I like it. Simon West's change in tonal direction is more than welcome. Technically the film is well-made. I know I'm a luddite, but I respect the fact that they have opted to film the stunts live-action, and the action scenes are hard-hitting and brutal. You really do feel the impact of the punches, kicks, gunshots and explosions, and the stunt team and production designers/demolishers have done a great job here. Also, Shelly Johnson's cinematography is strong, and I like the fact that you can see everything that's going on and appreciate the clear, crisp tones of the locations and the stiffness of the action. Editor Todd E. Miller works on the same aesthetic as Johnson, (wisely) not going for the way overused 'Bourne' style of editing. No crazy and excessive use of fast cuts, the editing instead appropriately reflects what we are seeing onscreen. On the final parts of the good, this is no acting masterclass, but I'd like to flag up a few of the performances that I liked. Jason Statham is my personal favourite of The Expendables crew, and he reeks of charisma in every scene that he's on. Also, you realise just how damn good Bruce Willis is when he's given a good part. It reminds me of Clint Eastwood the way his voice makes this rather cumbersome dialogue sound like poetry. Willis is one of the most underrated actors in film history, and he stood out here. Schwarzenegger's part is absurd but amusing, and I think Jean-Claude Van Damme ate up the opportunity to play an antagonist for a change. Aside from the character's terrible name (Jean Vilain. A 'villain' played by JCVD. Great pun there guys!), he's an engaging and philosophical bad guy who at the end of the day is still in great shape and throw a roundhouse kick or two.

So, look, there was a lot I liked about The Expendables 2, and while I have to confess that I rather enjoyed the film, there were a lot of problems with it. For instance, I know it ain't chopped liver, and I don't expect chopped liver, but some of the script is absolutely terrible. The dialogue seems to be a never-ending rally between Basil Exposition plot explanation and various action-movie/star references. A certain amount of back-slapping is alright, but when you're devoting whole scenes of the film to it, with the actors trading their respective famous lines, it becomes beyond funny. Also, characters pop up for the sake of giving a bit of screen time to Chuck Norris, Arnie et al, and it serves no purpose to the story whatsoever. Furthermore, while I think the movie is less serious this time round, once again it features Stallone's propagandistic portrayal of the poor peasants struggling against evil bad guys out for money and blood lust. I mean, he's been doing this 'Poor Peasant' stuff for years, but every film he has wrote since Rambo in 2008 features the Poor Peasant routine, and it's just getting old. Sergei Eisenstein got away with it because the first time round he made Strike! and followed it with The Battleship Potemkin, two very different movies. There isn't much of a difference between the latest Rambo instalment and the two Expendables features, and I want to see something fresh! On another note, I am not a fan of Brian Tyler's music here, much less in many of the other films he has scored over the years.  In fairness, at the start of his career he did good work on films like Frailty, Bubba Ho-Tep and Bug, but for the past six years, I've had to review movies with his scores in them, and they are nearly always uniformly rubbish. They are the epitome of the Emotional Heartstrings Orchestra aesthetic, and you feel like he is reading a Film Composition For Dummies manual while he is writing this stuff. It is just lazy, banal, murder-by-numbers stuff that would be parodic if it wasn't so tragic that he thought of this stuff as acceptable to put on film. It is soul-destroying for someone who really appreciates the sonic landscape of a film to hear work so poor. Please, Brian, make some good music in the future, so I can take back what I just said. I like a challenge and someone who puts up a fight in a bid to prove me wrong!

The Expendables 2 is another of cinema's great Jekyll and Hyde's. On the one hand, I know it is absolutely pants, politically incorrect, morally suspect, has a shoddy script, a terrible score, and (I've just remembered) normally my ears are fine with Stallone, but I couldn't understand much of what he, Jet Li or Dolph Lundgren said (though Lundgren was pretty funny). However, I rather shamelessly enjoyed the movie, for all it's bald honesty and crazy 'Republicans-R-Us' attitude. It's a technically sound film, with some great stunts and design, solid parts for Statham, Van Damme, Willis, Schwarzenegger, and features a welcome change in tone. Director Simon West can be thanked for this, and I look forward to what they can do in future instalments. 

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 6.0/10

The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - A-ok (whether or not you're happy to know is another matter!)