Sunday, 26 February 2017

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - La La Land

Directed by: Damien Chazelle

Produced by: Fred Berger
Jordan Horowitz
Gary Gilbert
Marc Platt

Screenplay by: Damien Chazelle

Starring: Ryan Gosling
Emma Stone
John Legend
Rosemarie DeWitt

Music by: Justin Hurwitz

Cinematography by: Linus Sandgren

Editing by: Tom Cross

Studio(s): Summit Entertainment
Black Label Media
Impostor Pictures
Gilbert Films
Marc Platt Productions

Distributed by: Summit Entertainment

Release date(s): December 9, 2016 (United States, limited)
December 26, 2016 (United States, wide)
January 12, 2017 (United Kingdom)

Running time: 128 minutes

Country: United States

Language: English

Production budget: $30 million

Box-office revenue (as of publication): $368, 960, 065

Today's movie up for review is La La Land, the latest film from Damien Chazelle and in my opinion the film that will win the Academy Award for Best Picture. Following on from the success of his 2014 film, the superb Whiplash, Chazelle dived headlong into this passion project of his, for which he wrote the screenplay in 2010, but for a long time was unable to find a studio willing to finance the production. After Whiplash became a low-budget and rather profitable runaway hit, Summit Entertainment and Black Label Media agreed to finance and distribute the film, giving Chazelle a solid mid-range budget, but also virtual artistic autonomy with none of the studio-imposed changes suggested by past prospective investors (including changing the male lead into a rock musician). So, now we have La La Land, a musical starring Ryan Gosling as Sebastian Wilder and Emma Stone as Mia Dolan, a struggling jazz pianist and an aspiring actress who whilst pursuing their respective dreams meet and fall in love in Los Angeles. Got it? Good! 

To start off with the good, I want to highlight the two central performances of Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. Now, it's obvious that the both of them are two highly talented actors who themselves are more than capable of pulling off great roles, but in this case I think it is important to discuss the both of them together. Not only are Gosling and Stone able to hit off the individual emotional beats for Sebastian and Mia in their solo scenes and numbers, but together they shine with the kind of onscreen chemistry that cannot be manufactured; it's a case of either you have it or you don't, and boy do these two have it. Throughout the duration of the film, they dance, both literally and metaphorically, la valse à mille temps, encapsulating within their interactions all of the heartbeats in a relationship, Stone's feisty, spirited and determined Mia bouncing off of Gosling's somewhat neurotic, aloof but nevertheless charming Sebastian bouncing off of one another as we move with them through their trials and tribulations, joys and jubilations in the pursuit of their respective dreams. Comparisons have of course been made between the likes of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers for the excellence displayed by Gosling and Stone for their rapport as far as the musical numbers, and I don't think it's undue, because notwithstanding the superb choreography, the two dance and sing not only with the prowess of natural talent, but with a key understanding of their characters and how they're supposed to interact with one another. As I've iterated, individually they're superb performances, but together they elevate each other completely. I suppose that this being a musical, and a great one to boot, that Justin Hurwitz's score deserves mentioning. Who am I kidding, of course it deserve mentioning, it's bloody terrific! Hurwitz has created a musical ensemble of numbers which no doubt instantly earn the status of 'iconic,' and I don't use that term lightly either. Jazz is many ways the marmite of musical genres, in that people have a real love-hate kind of reaction to it. I for one am an admirer of jazz, it's theory and aesthetics, but I couldn't say that I'm a great enthusiast, truth be told, although I'm getting more into it the older I get. My mother on the other hand absolutely hates it, and around my household it is known as 'the four-letter j-word,' as though to utter it is an obscenity in her presence. However, she went completely with this film, and I think that is a testament to the dexterity of the music, in that it wasn't just jazz for jazz's sake, but that the instrumentation and song structure fit the emotional tone of what was going on with the characters in the story. When I'm reviewing films, I often listen to the music from them, not only because I'm sonically inspired and find it conducive for my writing in general, but also to conjure up the echoes my emotional reactions and instinctive gut feelings about a given work. Ultimately a review is a poor replicant to the real thing, but anywho, it's a method of mixed results which can be a chore in the case of a particularly bad film, but one that works, and in this case it makes expressing myself a pleasure. The music maintains the spirit and essence of jazz whilst also being incredibly catchy, fun, memorable and is a mirror that reflects the drama of what's going on with the story. Numbers like City Of Stars, Audition (The Fools Who Dream), Another Day Of Sun, Mia & Sebastian's Theme, heck, even John Legend's Start A Fire (a deft and subtle take on uninspired, emotional bland genre-crossover music aimed at a mainstream audience) are memorable. The whole thing is wonderful. Also worthy of mention is the mise-en-scene of the picture. The reason it has been nominated in so many categories at the Oscars is because it delivers a high standard in lots of different ways. The production design of the sets, the costumes and the make-up/hair, have a rich and varied colour palette, but as I have iterated throughout, are appropriate to the characters and the story. The cinematography and the editing are also finely-balanced. With the long takes, the cinematography highlights the extent of and the level involved in the sheer craft that comes with the film, both from the sense of the characters and those who have built up this world around them. Also, it is not without it's own stylistic flourishes. It's a beautifully lit film shot in CinemaScope, and the lighting and deft camera movements change in order to suit the alternating tone in a given scene. As regards to editing, Tom Cross has done a meticulous job of splicing together this work, ensuring that it maintains a grounded quality, that ultimately, while it is a stylistically brilliant film, it is also a film that remains an intimate mood piece that is in a state of flux; the way in which the whole thing is put together makes it seem alive, constantly moving, ever-changing. We are dancing with Sebastian and Mia throughout this living work of art. Knowing me I've probably left someone out, but the last person I need to flag up for praise is Damien Chazelle, the architect behind this piece. I'm so glad that Chazelle did not have to compromise his vision, that the years of sticking to his guns and going with what his heart told him have paid off. Obviously there's a thematic continuation of sorts from Whiplash, in that it's another film that uses Chazelle's beloved jazz as a foundational base to depict a relationship between two people, although unlike Whiplash's tempestuous mentor-student tete a tete of Andrew Neiman and Terence Fletcher here we have the romance of Sebastian Wilder and Mia Dolan. Once again, he has given us a dynamic duo, whose brilliant relationship will rightfully take it's place alongside the likes of Rick and Ilsa. This is a film worthy of mention alongside Casablanca when people talk about great Hollywood romances, and that is down to the storytelling prowess of Chazelle's heartfelt and timely screenplay. Also, as a director Chazelle excels, in that not only are there so many different factors to take into account here for him to keep control of, but Chazelle would also have had to have restrain himself. With the autonomy that he was granted here after the success of Whiplash, he could have made a massively self-indulgent picture that was designed for his own personal enjoyment, as opposed to a picture designed for the wider entertainment of audiences. It's happened to filmmakers before, just look at George Lucas, Michael Cimimo, M. Night Shymalan, Kevin Costner and different people behind great films who've made one work which had disastrous consequences for their career. This could have happened here, but instead he takes the ball and runs with it. At thirty-two years old, Chazelle is swimming gracefully with the sharks, and we are privileged to have a real artist in Hollywood who has the ability to pull off something like this. La La Land is a triumph and a phenomenon, and I loved it. 

Now, just for sake of argument, even though the film is (drumroll, please... thank you!) a masterpiece, there are as usual a thing or two I've to flag up. he one thing I could say that might be challenging to some is the fact that the film is a musical, which believe it or not is off-putting to some people. Me, I love them, Singin' In The Rain and some of the Laurel and Hardy films being among my favourites, but my Dad was put off by the prospect of La La Land completely on the basis that it wasn't "his cup of tea." It had no impact on my personal opinion, but little things like this are always worth considering. In the case of masterpieces, as always, I find it hard enough to differentiate and decided between them in terms of which I prefer. Of the films I've seen and reviewed so far from 2016 (there's a whole glut and my best and worst of the year to come), La La Land is the third (after The Witch and Victoria). Ranking the three, I thought that La La Land was better than The Witch, and on any other year it might have been my best film, but I thought it was just marginally inferior to Victoria. Very marginally in fact, but when I put the two up against each, it more often swings in favour of Victoria. That's not a knock on the film itself, but that's just where I stand on this one.

Well, there you have it. Despite the fact that I think some people might be put off on the basis of it being a musical and that I found it to be marginally inferior to Victoria, La La Land is a masterpiece. Featuring two superb lead performances from Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, it delivers a high standard of excellence in nearly every regard, from the brilliant musical numbers by Justin Hurwitz to the splendidly-realised mise-en-scene to Linus Sandgren's beautifully lit cinematography, which highlights the choreography, performances and design aspects, the stitching together of it all by editor Tom Cross, writer-director Damien Chazelle has given us something really special. It's a dazzling depiction of the pursuit of dreams, a classical Hollywood romance and a melancholy mood piece with all of the grandeur of the great musicals of old. It's a throwback, and yet Chazelle is forward-looking enough to see the bigger picture, and through his story give us something new in the process. It is just a wonderful, wonderful piece of work, and I hope it has great success at the Academy Awards, because to see legitimately great films do so well on a big stage is important to all of cinema.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 9.6/10

The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Busy (there's never enough time in a day to fit in all the things that you'd like to get done, is there?)

Friday, 24 February 2017

The Thin White Dude's (Capsule) Reviews - The Green Inferno

Directed by: Eli Roth

Produced by: Eli Roth
Miguel Asensio
Nicolas Lopez
Christopher Woodrow
Molly Conners
Jason Blum

Screenplay by: Guillermo Amoedo
Eli Roth

Story by: Eli Roth

Starring: Lorenza Izzo
Ariel Levy
Daryl Sabara
Kirby Bliss Stanton
Sky Ferreira
Magda Apanowicz
Nicolas Martinez
Aaron Burns
Ignacia Allamund
Ramon Llao
Richard Burgi

Music by: Manuel Riveiro

Cinematography by: Antonio Quercia

Editing by: Ernesto Diaz Espinoza

Studio(s): Worldview Entertainment
Dragonfly Entertainment
Sobras International Pictures

Distributed by: BH Tilt
High Top Releasing
Universal Pictures

Release date(s): September 8, 2013 (TIFF)
September 25, 2015 (United States)
February 12, 2016 (United Kingdom)

Running time: 100 minutes

Country: United States

Language: English

Production budget: $5 million

Box-office revenue (as of publication): $12, 931, 569

Under the knife here is Eli Roth's The Green Inferno, a film that originally screened for the first time back in 2013 at that year's Toronto International Film Festival, but which, due to the financial difficulties of production company Worldview Entertainment, saw Open Road Films pull the intended fall 2014 release. It didn't end up getting a theatrical release in the United States until fall 2015 through the efforts of Blumhouse Productions, and wasn't released in the United Kingdom until February of 2016. So, even though it was finished quite a good time ago, hopefully this gives a little context as to why I'm reviewing this film which for all intents and purposes is nearly four years old. This film, inspired by and purposefully intended as an homage to the late-1970s and early-1980s cannibal boom of Italian cannibal-themed movies, sees Roth directing a story about a group of college-based social activists going to the Amazon rainforest to stop a logging company from obliterating the local environment and tribal communities, when what do you know, they are abducted and help captive by a cannibalistic tribe. Got it? Good!

Starting off with what the film does good, the cinematographer Antonio Quercia takes advantage of the visual prowess that comes with the location shoot, and shows them off in all of their glory. Also, for all the nastiness of some of the film's imagery, it cannot be said that there is some very skilful and picaresque shot composition here. Speaking of nasty, there are a number of instances when the brutal violence in the film is used to strong effect. There's a particularly grotesque sequence which serves as the characters and our introduction to the world of the cannibal tribe in the film which I do have to admit had me dry-heaving. There's no shying away from any of it, and it is all graphically brought to life with some excellent make-up and special effects, and because Roth designs the film as such that the tension is drawn out before we are thrown right into the thick of things, it does come across as legitimately horrifying. Also, there is a high standard of costume and make-up used to realise the members of the cannibal tribe, so there's another good thing. Finally, while not given a particularly strong character to deal with, I cannot deny the commitment behind Lorenza Izzo's lead performance and that there could be potential for better things in the future.

Which, of course, brings me to the negative side of things. Admittedly, The Green Inferno is not a bad movie, but it is, for all of the suspense of it's first half, a rather dull film that fails to live up to it's promise. As far as the script goes, once you get past that sequence I just mentioned, it's all downhill from there, as the film peaks too early, and frankly there isn't enough character development to keep me engaged in the story. Also, when it comes down to plot, there isn't really one of particular significance to talk about. The central twist which is meant to serve as the film's 'great revelation' is quite clear to see a mile off (I think it was somewhere around the twenty-minute mark I mentally called it), so it's also fairly predictable, and Roth and fellow-screenwriter Guillermo Amoedo just resort to going into a cheap bag of lowest common denominator tricks. It's the cinematic equivalent of getting the slapped in the face with a dildo; just because it's shocking and/or outrageous doesn't mean that it's a credible plot point or carries anything of intrinsic value. As regards to actors, it's a shame that none of them get the ability to do anything worth talking about, but that's not necessarily their fault, given that on paper they are written as two-dimensional wafer-thin tropes. At one point, there's an exchange between characters as to why one won't eat the food the natives give them to keep them alive, to which the character responds "I'm a vegan," a throwaway line that's almost like "oh yeah, of course, haha, that it explains everything." Admittedly, as a vegetarian I'm slightly biased, but it's indicative of the cheap, lazy attitude and approach that is taken towards these characters. We are supposed to be caring about them and their plight, not picking up stupid prejudices and misconceptions about people who don't eat meat! As I said, I can't get overly annoyed and don't think it's a bad film, but it's frustrating when you know that Eli Roth has potential to do something good with this interesting premise that carries with it political implications and instead drops the ball.

Righto, there you have it. While I do think there are things worthy of merit with The Green Inferno, specifically the cinematography, the make-up and costume design, the drawing out of it's first half and some well-executed violence, with one particularly grotesque sequence an indicator of what could have been, ultimately the film as a whole is still lacking. It's not a bad film, but it's dull and tedious, featuring no engaging characters, all of whom are underdeveloped, a predictable plot you can see a country mile off and a degree of lazy, lowest-common denominator perspective that doesn't give the film any real intrinsic value. It may be striving after the likes of Ruggero Deodato's Cannibal Holocaust, a troubling film in it's own right (regardless of what it adds to their work, no filmmaker should stage and film such acts of barbarous animal cruelty), but one which has a thought-provoking social commentary and is years ahead of it's time as far as narrative filmmaking. The Green Inferno, disappointingly, is lacking in that department.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 4.1/10

The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Getting there

The Thin White Dude's (Capsule) Reviews - Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Directed by: Gareth Edwards

Produced by: Kathleen Kennedy
Allison Shearmur
Simon Emanuel

Screenplay by: Chris Weitz
Tony Gilroy

Story by: John Knoll
Gary Whitta

Based on: Characters created by George Lucas

Starring: Felicity Jones
Diego Luna
Ben Mendelsohn
Donnie Yen
Mads Mikkelsen
Alan Tudyk
Jiang Wen
Forest Whitaker
Riz Ahmed

Music by: Michael Giacchino
John Williams (original themes)

Cinematography by: Greig Fraser

Editing by: John Gilroy
Colin Goudie
Jabez Olssen

Studio: Lucasfilm Ltd.

Distributed by: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Release date(s): December 10, 2016 (United States, Los Angeles Premiere)
December 15, 2016 (United Kingdom)
December 16, 2016 (United States)

Running time: 133 minutes

Country: United States

Language: English

Production budget: $200 million

Box-office revenue (as of publication): $1, 051, 757, 527

So, here is my take on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the latest instalment in the recently-revived Star Wars movie franchise, and the first of the spinoff project which are now becoming known as the 'Star Wars Anthology' series, which will also see the likes of a young Han Solo movie. It means that the fans get satiated with at least one new Stars Wars movie every year for the foreseeable future while Disney make a ton of money off of the brand. Rogue One is set immediately before the events which occur in Star Wars: A New Hope, and stars Felicity Jones in the lead role of Jyn Urso, who alongside a group of rebels band together on a mission to steal the plans for the Death Star, the Galactic Empire's new superweapon. Got it? Good!

Starting off with what I liked about the film, from a technically standpoint, as perhaps is to be expected, Rogue One excels. It's a visual treat, and between the effects, cinematography, production design and costumes, it delivers a wonderfully-realised mise-en-scene. Bring that together with the sound quality of the film, and what we have is something that gets across that what is occurring onscreen, particularly in the action sequences, which are spectacular in their own right, is something of great scope. Speaking of sound, Michael Giacchino is a welcome addition to the film's aural palette. While the legendary John Williams' original themes remain, Giacchino, one of the best working composers out there, plies a not-dissimilar method to that of his work on Jurassic World (taking over, once again, from John Williams' originals), weaving the motifs in and out of his standard rousing orchestrals, giving us something that is both new and familiar at the same time. Also, given the quality on display and that it's the first Star Wars film not composed by Williams, it gives Rogue One something of a unique sonic feel. I would also like to praise the central performance from Felicity Jones. Admittedly, I'm somewhat biased, given that I first praised her more than half a decade ago for her work in Cemetery Junction, but it has been great to see her transition from that to Academy Award nominee (for her role as Jane Wilde Hawking in The Theory Of Everything) to the lead actor in a major blockbuster. Her Jyn Urso is a powerful character, but also there is a fair degree of complexity to the part. She displays courage, grit, determination, and a loner's streak is clear there, and yet in the most subtle of ways, we never forget that this is someone who went through a tremendous amount of childhood trauma. As the protagonist, she carries the film with a great performance. Finally, I admire what they are trying get at with this film and the direction that this rebooted Star Wars franchise is taking. The multi-cultural diversity and the lack of a gender bias (this and The Force Awakens were both female-driven pictures) is pleasing to see and an example of how Hollywood should be looking at things. Furthermore, they are trying to be topical and relevant, not forgetting that while they are space opera films, the proof is in the title, and that they are also most definitely war films. This and The Force Awakens have delivered so far in that regard. 

Now, I did like Rogue One and think there a fair amount things to like about it, but I do think it is a flawed work and has it's moments of trouble. The first thing I should address, just get rid of the elephant, is the whole CG recreation thing. On this one, I'm in the nay camp. Yes, I know it may seem necessary to the story, but surely they could have written around it and just creatively thought their way out of these predicaments. Furthermore, I think there's something ethically questionable about using the likeness of actors in this way after they have passed away. Why don't I just start putting calls into Marlon Brando's estate because hey, 1950s Brando a la A Streetcar Named Desire, The Wild One and On The Waterfront is my idea of a great leading man? But that wasn't my big problem with Rogue One. To me, the central issue is the tone of the film, in that it seems to have an identity crisis going on. On the one hand, it tries to fit into the epic space opera of the franchise, and on another it's going for a much darker way of looking at things. Also, is it a science-fiction/fantasy spectacle or an action-packed caper? I think it tries too much to do all of these things, and instead of a delicate balancing act, it kind of glances over the top of them all. Furthermore, the actual story itself, while well-executed in some aspects, is nothing we haven't seen before in many other movies. It follows a very predictable and at times tedious plot trajectory, and most of the characters (bar Jyn), despite being played by seasoned actors, are two-dimensional and don't give those portraying them enough to do because they're underdeveloped and lack any real arcs to talk about. It's not enough to throw at me these moments catering towards fans of the franchise. Yes, it's cool that x shows up, but I need more to get me to go completely with it. Finally, while it's obvious Gareth Edwards can direct action sequences (Monsters and Godzilla both feature some spectacular moments), I have begun to wonder whether or not he's becoming a sort-of go-to studio gun-for-hire they can depend on to deliver their big-budget pet projects.

Rogue One is a troublesome piece of work. Although I obviously fall into the nay camp on the whole CG-recreation thing, there are other problems with the film. It has a very predictable and at times tedious plot trajectory, and most of the character, despite a cast of seasoned actors, are left underdeveloped. Also, Gareth Edward is like Jekyll and Hyde here, given that it's obvious from here and his other works that he knows how create amazing moments, but I've begun to wonder about whether or not he's becoming a studio gun-for-hire on their big-budget pet projects. That being said, it is still a good film. Whatever issues I have, it's a technical marvel, with great cinematography, production design, visual effects and costumes creating a wonderfully realised mise-en-scene, the overall sound quality contributing to the makeup of that world. Michael Giacchino is a welcome addition with his musical compositions, and Felicity Jones is terrific as protagonist Jyn Urso, delivering a performance of real complexity and carrying the proceedings upon her shoulders.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 6.9/10

The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Recharging batteries

The Thin White Dude's (Capsule) Reviews - Everybody Wants Some!!

Directed by: Richard Linklater

Produced by: Megan Ellison
Richard Linklater
Ginger Sledge

Screenplay by: Richard Linklater

Starring: Blake Jenner
Zoey Deutch
Ryan Guzman
Tyler Hoechlin
Glen Powell
Wyatt Russell

Cinematography by: Shane F. Kelly

Editing by: Sandra Adair

Studio(s): Annapurna Pictures
Detour Filmproduction

Distributed by: Paramount Pictures

Release date(s): March 11, 2016 (South By Southwest Film Festival)
March 30, 2016 (United States)
May 13, 2016 (United Kingdom)

Running time: 116 minutes

Country: United States

Language: English

Production budget: $10 million

Box-office revenue (as of publication): $4, 608, 655

Today's film up for review is Everybody Wants Some!!, the latest film by writer-director Richard Linklater. For those of you who don't know, I love Linklater and think that he is one of the best filmmakers of his generation, and certainly at this stage he'd have to be considered among the greatest of all-time. He has at least four masterpieces to his name in Dazed And Confused, the Before trilogy (which I'm counting as one overall work), Waking Life and Boyhood, the latter of which won the 8th Annual Clockwork Award for Best Film from yours truly, as well as several other notable pictures like Slacker, A Scanner Darkly and Bernie. This newest work is considered by Linklater to be a "spiritual sequel" both to Dazed And Confused and Boyhood, and leading an ensemble cast is Blake Jenner as Jake Bradford, a college freshman and hotshot high-school pitcher in the fall of 1980, whose exploits we follow as he moves into the house of his roommates and other members of the Southeast Texas Cherokee college baseball team. Got it? Good!

To start off with the good, the acting all-round from the ensemble cast is on form, but I'd like to flag up a few in particular. Blake Jenner is a strong lead, and Zoey Deutsch, who with five releases in 2016 has had a hell of a year, has great chemistry with him and establishes herself firmly in the position of someone who can be relied upon to play the sweet and humorous comedy queen. Glen Powell, with a look not dissimilar to Gary Oldman in The Firm, plays an engaging charismatic rogue, and Wyatt Russell really breaks out in the part of Willoughby, the team's resident stoner-cum-philosopher. I'll always say this as well for Linklater, as I suppose it is a trademark of sorts for him as a writer, but he has one hell of an ear for dialogue, and this is no exception. It contributes greatly to the makeup of the film, and adds to the gallery of characters, who Linklater also writers not as tropes, although they are based upon them, but as real human beings. It's one of the things that separates him from his contemporaries. As is to be expected from Linklater's work, there is a great soundtrack in there, with Brian Eno, Gary Numan, Devo, Van Halen, Queen, Pink Floyd, Hot Chocolate, Blondie, Frank Zappa, ZZ Top and our very own Stiff Little Fingers making timely and appropriate appearances. It's also a very good-looking film, with Shane F. Kelly giving the film a glossy glow which highlights the retro/nostalgic feel that they are trying to go for. Finally, Linklater as a director is someone who directs with passion, trying to give distinction in some way to each of his films while they still most definitely have a recurring beat that is one of his own. 

That being said, there are a number of things that I think deny this the status of being a great movie. Namely, I feel that while Linklater's script is solid when it comes to dialogue and characters, when it comes to plot it comes across as old-hat. I don't mean old-hat as in I've seen in before in Linklater films, which I suppose I have, but more that the story itself doesn't head in any new directions. There are no new revelations, things that I don't already know. I didn't feel I came out enlightened the way I did with a number of his other works, or that there was any great emotional resonance to the piece. Also, Sandra Adair, normally a great editor, I feel could have flexed some of that muscle and ironed out the folds a little more. At nearly two hours, it's too long, and I know I sound like a broken record on this one, but one hundred minutes didn't create much bother for Linklater with some his earlier films.

In conclusion, I feel that Everybody Wants Some!!, while lacking the emotional resonance or succinct fine-tuning of Linklater's best work, is still a worthy work. The ensemble cast was strong, I think that Linklater has an ear for dialogue and an innate understanding of how to turn tropes into legitimate characters, there is a terrific soundtrack, the film is well-shot and Linklater is someone who directs with passion. Even a second-rate Richard Linklater film is still going to be at the very least a very good film.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 7.8/10

The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Tired (should really be letting my mind rest, but what the hey!)

Thursday, 16 February 2017

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Victoria

Directed by: Sebastian Schipper

Produced by: Jan Dressler
Christiane Dressler
Sebastian Schipper

Screenplay by: Olivia Neergaard-Holm
Sebastian Schipper
Eike Frederik Schulz

Starring: Laia Costa
Frederick Lau
Franz Rogowski
Burak Yigit
Max Mauff
Andre Hennicke

Music by: Nils Brahm

Cinematography by: Sturla Brandth Grøvlen

Editing by: Olivia Neergaard-Holm

Studio(s): MonkeyBoy
Radical Media
Westdeutscher Rundfunk

Distributed by: Senator Film (Germany)
Adopt Films (United States)
Curzon Artifical Eye (United Kingdom)

Release date(s): February 7, 2015 (Berlin International Film Festival)
June 11, 2015 (Germany)
October 9, 2015 (United States, limited)
April 1, 2016 (United Kingdom)

Running time: 138 minutes

Country: Germany

Language(s): German

Production budget: N/A

Box-office revenue (as of publication): $3, 191, 971 (only ten territories accumulated)

Today's film up for review is Victoria, the German picture from director Sebastian Schipper, which gained a fair amount of international attention for being shot completely in a single continuous take. It was actually my Dad who flagged it up to me a while back, so even though I saw it about a month ago and am only getting round to reviewing it now, it has been on my radar for some time. Widely acclaimed and receiving several gongs at the 2015 German Film Awards, including Best Feature Film, it was one of eight films shortlisted by Germany for submission into the 88th Academy Awards' Best Foreign Language Film category, but was disqualified because of the high percentage of English dialogue, which we'll get to in a bit. It was released in the United Kingdom back in April of 2016, and so therefore it is eligible for me to review. Story goes that Victoria (Laia Costa), a young Spanish girl from Madrid who has recently immigrated to Berlin, does not speak the German language well or know anyone in the city, is working for a meagre wage in a cafe, leaves a nightclub around four in the morning and bumps into a group of four young men who were denied entry to the club. They invite her for a walk, an informal guided tour of the city, steal some alcohol, smoke some weed, and quickly become acquainted with one another. However, behind the happy-go-lucky exterior appearances, something deeper, darker and more sinister is going on with the young men, and by virtue of association Victoria is drawn into a plot which will make this an important night for all of them. Got it? Good!

To start off with the good, I'll just get out there and address the elephant in the room: the cinematography in this film is absolutely extraordinary. Now I might be biased, given that I'm a champion of the long take, most famously Bela Tarr's The Turin Horse was my favourite film of the year whereas my friend absolutely hated it. The whole one-take thing has been done before, but recently it has become somewhat in vogue with Birdman having won Best Picture a few years ago, but the work here by Sturla Brandth Grøvlen is on another level altogether. Notwithstanding the technical mastery, which shows a deep understanding of imaginative, cinematic storytelling through the techniques employed, but the outright physicality of being able to accomplish this is really something. It's almost a performance in itself to be able to hit all of these beats appropriately, capturing everything that is going on onscreen. It's also much more remarkable when you take into account the restrictions placed on the production. Sebastian Schipper was forced to film a 'jump-cut' version in order to get financiers on board, in case he couldn't get the 'true one-take,' but after that was filmed over ten days, the budget only permitted three attempts at the single take, the third one of which is the final film. The fact that there are all of these exterior influences, with so many different things going on, any one of which could have caused the thing to fall flat on it's face, and yet somehow it remains seamless, is an incredible feat beyond any technical wizardry. Another part of what makes the film so immersive are the stellar performances by the cast. The four young men, 'Sonne' (Frederik Lau), 'Boxer' (Franz Rogowski), 'Blinker' (Burak Yigit) and 'Fuss' (Max Mauff), are all well-fleshed out and characterised. Each of them are distinctive and unique in their own ways, with different personalities and reactions to the predicaments they end up in. Some people will respond more positively to ones over the others, and vice versa, but I found them all to be a likeable charismatic band of misfits. At the centre though of course is the titular character in a superb lead performance from Laia Costa. I thought that she was absolutely empathetic and charming, projecting the energy of a free-spirited young woman whose life is at present unfulfilled, beautifully communicating to the audience that this is very much a multi-faced individual who despite having a determined streak and the spontaneity to do something wild, is also not without elements of fragility, carrying around with her the crushing sense of her hopes and expectations having been defeated by life. She does all of this with eloquence, not only with her multi-linguistic skills, her dialogue flawless despite English not being her first language, and the beauty of her expressiveness. Costa takes a challenging role and makes Victoria not only one of the best protagonists in recent film memory, but also makes her come across as something not on the written page, but as a real human being. That indicates a vivid and instinctive understanding not only the character but of how acting can operate when at its best. Also contributing greatly to the overall proceedings is the score by Nils Frahm. For years, the musician, who mixes electronic and classical music and has a unique approach to plying his craft as a pianist, held out film offers for "something real special." The Berlin composer not only brings his own stylings to the table, but he maintains the consistent flow and pace of the film. The score created by him and his team is the heartbeat of the picture, matching the mood and feeling of what is happening at that present time. As such, there are moments when the music comes to fore, and mixed with the cinematography and acting there are some truly transcendent moments which go beyond that of many other films, reaching higher levels and plateaus, so much so that although what is happening might be something fairly ordinary, all of these pieces together create a composite which makes it extraordinary. That to me is the true essence of art, and helping merge these things together subtly, editor Olivia Neergaard-Holm deserves a lot of credit. Although obviously the quality of each of these other elements is more in the forefront, behind all of this is required a smart editor who doesn't let them take away from one another. Finally, although to my shame I can't say I was aware of director Sebastian Schipper beforehand, I can certainly say that he now does indeed have my undivided attention. This is the work of a director of complete and supreme control, who understands not only the technical and logistical problems that need to be ironed out with a project which comes with such challenges, but also, like his lead actor, has a key understanding of the essence of storytelling. Wisely, the film's script was only twelve pages long and he gave the actors the opportunity to improvise their dialogue. As such, even though the film is masterfully choreographed, Schipper obviously mapping out with his DP all the necessary beats and whipping his actors up, preparing them all for the elaborate staging of the thing, it still feels authentic, almost akin to the great Italian neorealists or that of cinema verite. It's executed so well that, unlike a lot of other films with long takes that have me going "Wow, that was well-executed" or "Gee, that's creative lighting," I was rarely, if ever, consciously thinking about the craft, concerning myself primarily with the story.  Furthermore, the film also has a lot to say about life, dreams and relationships, with rich, dense thematic content that truly rings home. Victoria is a unique and wonderful film which does so much, hits so many beats. On the one hand, it's an escapist, almost romantic coming-of-age story, on another it's a straight genre film, dramatic crime thriller that is at parts wholly nerve-wracking and by all accounts it ends up being an essential work of high artistic value and transcendent quality. 

Now, as you can tell, I loved the film. That being said, there are a couple of things I have to flag up which I have to say aren't necessarily negative criticisms on my part but are elements that could detract from others' enjoyment that I have to take into account. I don't think that the so-called 'language barrier' is an issue, because for one thing if you have a problem with foreign-language films on principle for anything other than a learning disability you need to do yourself a favour and ingratiate yourself with the wider cultural stratosphere. If anything, it's a plus here, adding another level to the drama and intrigue, for if you are not a German speaker, you, like Victoria, have another degree of separation. I think that some people may find the whole one-shot thing a bit challenging to buy and not be able to disconnect it from notions of it being a technical gimmick as opposed to storytelling device. Also, at one-hundred and thirty-eight minutes, it's not like they've went and made a short, relatively accessible experiment that's about an hour-and-a-half long. With this running time, you do have to put yourself down and invest the time into watching this one. Don't get me wrong, it's totally worth it and a highly rewarding experience, but the fact that you have to do it could be off-putting for some. 

Regardless, with those things levelled and laid aside, Victoria is a masterpiece. To me it is a representation of what is good about cinema and art in general, how it can move you, how it can make you think, take what it has to say and carry it about with you. It's an excellent example of the experiment spirit being played out and executed with deft awareness and a keenness towards cinematic storytelling. It follows a series of patterns, no little action not having consequences for the bigger picture as a whole, the single take paralleling this sense of synchronicity and it all being interconnected. In every major department, from the performances to the cinematography to the editing, the musical compositions and the direction are all of a high standard, and the passion that these artists have invested into producing this work can be felt with the final product. I absolutely loved this film, and have seen many of the other great works that have come out this year, I think that this may very well be the best film released in the UK in 2016.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 9.7/10

The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - In stitches (trolling people on my Facebook in between writing this has given me great amusement)

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - David Brent: Life On The Road

Directed by: Ricky Gervais

Produced by: Ricky Gervais
Charlie Hanson

Screenplay by: Ricky Gervais

Starring: Ricky Gervais
Ben Bailey Smith
Andy Burrows
Tom Basden
Jo Hartley

Music by: Ricky Gervais
Andy Burrows
Chris Martin (contributions)

Cinematography by: Remi Adefarasin

Editing by: Gary Dollner

Studio(s): Entertainment One
BBC Films

Distributed by: Entertainment One

Release date(s): August 19, 2016 (United Kingdom)
February 10, 2017 (United States)

Running time: 96 minutes

Country: United Kingdom

Language: English

Production budget: N/A

Box-office revenue (as of publication): $5, 511, 343

Today's film up for review is David Brent: Life On The Road, a comedic mockumentary movie written, directed, produced and starring Ricky Gervais in the title role. David Brent is the character that, despite a long career of numerous ventures, Gervais is perhaps still best known for, having played the part in the mockumentary sitcom The Office, which of course since it's run ended in 2003 has had a long-lasting life of it's own, and has inspired a whole franchise, with versions of the show being developed in the United States, France, Germany, Canada, Chile, Israel and Sweden. Also, I may as well just get out of the way that I am a fan of Ricky Gervais' work, in case you think there are any leanings or bias' here. He has emphasised during promotion for the film that this is "not an Office film," but instead explores "much more into his private life... and we really get to peel back the layers of this extraordinary, ordinary man." So, story goes that Gervais' David Brent is now a sales rep for a bathroom supply firm Lavichem, with colleagues who have a mixture of reactions to his antics, from sympathy to good humour to disgust and outright anger. Brent decides to take a month's unpaid leave, using money from his pension to assemble a band, and cover the costs of a tour to pursue his dream of being a rock star. Simple premise, m'kay? Got it? Good!

To start off with the good, Gervais' performance as David Brent is spot on. I know, I know, some of you are probably thinking I'm being a fanboy, and maybe I am (just a little bit), but it is a genuinely great performance. We know that he can handle comedy, and Gervais is a master of the execution of his own particular brand in this genre. He has great delivery and excellent timing of his lines, but he's also a great physical performer, conveying a lot through his body language. One of the things which he does well that isn't highlighted often enough, and is done well in this film, is his ability to turn it up a notch and be somewhat serious for a bit. He stays true to the idiosyncrasies of the Brentmeister, but we can see, especially because of his physicality, the light shining through the cracks in his impenetrably enthusiastic facade. He shows his signs of weakness through small gestures, and lets the audience see that this is a classic case of the tears of a clown. Then he recovers himself, and bounces back into being jolly in an almost bipolar manner. That is the mark of a great performer. As I have indicated earlier, this is a very funny film. There are obvious comparisons to be made with This Is Spinal Tap as we see things go tits up with Brent in a number of different situations over the course of the film, this ramshackle band playing some outrageously bad music. Gervais wrote most of the music, with contributions from Andy Burrows, who plays the drummer in Brent's Foregone Conclusion band, and the songs are a great balance of being catchy and listenable but also cringeworthy and deft parodies of a variety of influences. Incidentally, Ben Bailey Smith, who plays Dom Johnson in the film, seems like a real talent, both from a musical performance and acting standpoint. The social situations and the awkwardness of everything that's occurring makes for something both relatable and humorous. That doesn't mean that it is one of those comedies without gags, because it has many. If I had to gauge things with a proverbial Laughometer, it would be high, because I was pretty vocal throughout the film. There's some wonderful dialogue in the film that is just music to my ears, given my own tendencies as a dialogue-heavy writer. But it's not all just one-liners and humorous sketch-scenes. This brings me to another point, in that Gervais writes comedy which feels more real and empathetic to the world around us rather than the over-the-top guff that over-saturates the comedic market, particularly in the American market. All of what is happening in the film is going on for a reason, and contributes to the overall story and the message that it is trying to convey. In a world full of rubbish like Fifty Shades Of Black and Dirty Grandpa, it's nice to see that someone still has a sense of remaining grounded, knowing when to pull back and show restraint. So many comedic performers who have this degree of artistic control over their material tend to over-indulge themselves (I'm looking at you, Adam Sandler...), but Gervais is the opposite case and if anything it makes the humour feel refreshing. This is a charming, heartwarming, and very, very funny film.

That being said, and I'm not going to attack this because I do rather like it, there is one issue that does detract from it's overall quality. Don't get me wrong, I still think it's great, but it isn't a masterpiece in the way that Ricky Gervais has done before alongside Stephen Merchant with The Office or Extras. Heck, it's not his best movie either (that would go to the horrendously underrated and overlooked Cemetery Junction, which I reviewed all the way back in 2010). I know that Gervais, for all of his no-BS approach, is an artist whose works are full of sentimentality, and while that itself is not a problem, indeed, it's part of the charm of his work, ultimately it tends to make things at times predictable. Okay, I'm looking at it from a standpoint of someone very familiar with his work, but I think that many of those who would be unfamiliar could still see the development of the story coming a country mile away. I'm not going to be snarky and make some stupid attempt at punning wit on 'Foregone Conclusion' seeing as I like the film, and because frankly some other lesser critics who've went for the easy joke have probably done it about four or five times already. Just saying... Anywho, what it boils down to I think is that while the dressing around it is strong, so they came for the large part get away with it, it doesn't change the fact that it's a fairly rudimentary story that we have seen done umpteen times before. As well done as it is, no amount of good material can hide that.

So, those are my thoughts on David Brent: Life On The Road. While I stand by my reservations regarding the predictable and rudimentary base that he is working from, Gervais has crafted a great comedy. As a performer, he excels, he has a great understanding for humorous situations and as a director shows a restraint uncommon among the contemporary powerhouses in comedy. As such, it ends up being a pleasant change of pace from the dreck that we are force-fed day in, day out. It's charming, heartwarming and very, very funny.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 8.1/10

The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Good good (everything's good good these days! These reviews used to take forever. Now with all the energy I can bang 'em out in a couple of hours and make time to do more shit later on work wise!)

P.S. Thanks Ricky for the inclusion of David Bowie's Fashion. I miss him too.

Friday, 3 February 2017

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice

Directed by: Zack Snyder

Produced by: Charles Roven
Deborah Snyder

Screenplay by: Chris Terrio
David S. Goyer

Based on: Characters from DC Comics

Starring: Ben Affleck
Henry Cavill
Amy Adams
Jesse Eisenberg
Diane Lane
Laurence Fishburne
Jeremy Irons
Holly Hunter
Gal Gadot

Music by: Hans Zimmer
Junkie XL

Cinematography by: Larry Fong

Editing by: David Brenner

Studio(s): RatPac-Dune Entertainment
DC Entertainment
Atlas Entertainment
Cruel And Unusual Films

Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures

Release date(s): March 12, 2016 (China, Beijing premiere)
March 25, 2016 (United Kingdom and United States)

Running time: 151 minutes

Country: United States

Language: English

Production budget: $250 million

Box-office revenue (as of publication): $873, 260, 194

Today's film up for review is Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice, the follow-up to Warner Bros' Superman reboot Man Of Steel, but really, as the second film in what is now known as the DC Extended Universe (they are clearly patterning this after Marvel's successful model), is essentially a kickstart for their plans for getting together the Justice League. Just to give this a bit of context, although it grossed over $870 million, a whopping figure by any standards, it was still considered to have under-performed at the box-office (at least, perhaps, by the Marvel and Disney billion-dollar standards), suffering a historic dropoff in first to second weekend grosses and most notably, it was absolutely savaged by film critics and while more casual audiences may have enjoyed it, I can say that a lot people were also very disappointed. Me being me, because I don't really get excited about big movies anymore, I end up watching them in my own time, but I remember when this came out all the hype around it and my Facebook just blew up with various friends of mine getting genuinely angry about this movie. Along with the likes of Dirty Grandpa, it's a leading contender at the Golden Raspberry Awards this year, and to cap this little devil off, I really didn't like Man Of Steel and have a testy relationship with Zack Snyder as a filmmaker at best. While I like 300, I think he mishandled Watchmen and the only time he was ever given the responsibility of coming up with an original project he presented us the abomination that is Sucker Punch. So, with all this in mind, and avoiding it for about eight months, I have to say much as I tried to be open-minded, I went in almost prepared to hate this one. Long story short, because there is a lot of story, in the fallout of the destruction in Metropolis caused by Superman (Henry Cavill) in his battle with General Zod in Man Of Steel, he has become a controversial figure, and billionaire Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck), based in Gotham City and who has been operating for two decades as vigilante crime-fighter Batman, sees Superman as a potential threat to humanity. At the same time, Superman's alter-ego Clark Kent learns and is appalled by the methods of justice employed by Batman, and seeks to expose his identity. I'm not going to go into all of this, but it's a bit of obvious, through various convolutions involving Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg), Lois Lane (Amy Adams), United States senator June Finch (Holly Hunter), Russian terrorist Anatoli Knyazev (Callan Mulvey) and more, plus the mysterious presence of an all-observing antiques dealer by the name of Diana Prince (Gal Gadot), to quote Phil Lynott, "there's gonna be a showdown." What? Come on, I mean, it's in the title, get it? Good!

To start off with the good about the movie, although you might be of the opinion that I'm going to crap all over this one, I surprised myself watching it by finding that I was at certain parts actually enjoying it. By the time I'd finished, I said to myself, "you know what, it wasn't all that bad. It was decent enough." I think that the addition of Chris Terrio to the writing side of the film was a smart move. Much as I think David S. Goyer has done some good work in the past, his best work often comes from working with others. Man Of Steel was a solo job, and it turned out to be a complete and utter snoozefest. What Terrio adds to this movie is a sense of the exploits of these fantastical characters existing within the real world. It can be choppy at times, but you can tell that here they are really going for something with the thematic content, to explore the moral and ethical implications of what is occurring over the course of the film. Speaking of depth, I think that Henry Cavill has improved leaps and bounds in his part as Superman/Clark Kent. I was, admittedly, rather negative on his depiction of Supes in Man Of Steel, thinking has was dull and charmless, but he seems to have grown well into the shoes of the character, and carries himself with more confidence and weight, so good for him. I think that for all the negative press concerning his casting in the buildup to it, Ben Affleck was a good choice for Batman. His older, world-weary and slightly out-of-touch interpretation is a different version of the Caped Crusader than we've seen before on the big screen. The presence of Affleck gives legitimacy to the role, both from a mental and a physical standpoint. Other cast members are good in a supporting capacity, such as Gal Gadot, Amy Adams, Holly Hunter and especially Jeremy Irons, whose casting as Bruce Wayne's long-suffering butler Alfred Pennyworth may be among the smartest moves made in the entire production, because every time he's onscreen he's great. Also, for all of my negative feelings levelled at the oftentimes too glossy, music-video feel that Zack Snyder enforces upon him, some of Larry Fong's work here is very good. Admittedly, there are the odd silly bits of gimmickry, but left to his own devices to shoot a film Fong can do just fine, because there are some gorgeous pieces of cinematography. I'm specifically thinking of colour contrasts and shot composition in scenes like Superman's congressional hearing. Some of the action sequences too look good and are engaging, so the film is not without it's stylistic flourishes. The score by Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL is an interesting combination of two contrasting styles battling it out with one another not dissimilar to the conflict going on in the movie itself. Zimmer is, of course, one of the great masters of traditional film composition, but as we've seen through his career, not above expanding his horizons and experimenting with new soundscapes. As such, there's a harmony between him and Junkie XL, who outside of his work as a DJ and multi-instrumentalist has made a name for himself over the past few years in film composition, which is strangely intriguing aurally. It'd be interesting to hear what they can come up with in the future. I'd be a liar if I didn't say that there were times I was impressed by the overall production value of the piece. I can't really fault it from the standpoint of visual effects, production design, costumes, props, make-up/hair and stunts. It's a big, $250 million film, and, as it should be, the efforts of those who have laboured long and hard in those departments, have been put it up on the screen, so that's another positive. All in all, these strengths were enough to keep me relatively interested. It was a very pleasant surprise given all the negative things that I had heard about, I was at different genuinely entertained. 

That being said, while I don't think that it's as outrageously bad as everyone else says it is, I can't go so far as to say that Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice is a good movie, because for every bit as good as it can be, it is in equal measure an unholy mess. I alluded to it earlier in the synopsis that there was a whole lot of plot, and while it may be easy to dismiss that as the perspective of a lazy writer, the fact is is that not only could I have spent ages writing down anything resembling a basic outline, but that I also had to thoroughly scour the Wikipedia article to be sure that what I was writing was correct. There was so much plot that I had forgotten whole characters and sections of the film! Normally that is the stage when you kind of perk up and think "gee, maybe this is kind of overkill," but it keeps going, and going, and going, and going, and... you get the picture. Obviously, the drive is to lay the groundwork for the DC Extended Universe ASAP but it gets a bit out of hand, and you get the impression that cutting out certain subplots could have trimmed that waistline a little and brought the gluttonous two-and-a-half hour running time down to two hours (though of course, Snyder being Snyder, has instead went the other way and brought out a three-hour 'Director's Cut' out on DVD, whatever the hell Director's Cut even means anymore). Another point I'd like to bring up is that I thought that the whole interpretation of the Lex Luthor character was a real misfire. Now, Jesse Eisenberg is a perfectly capable actor, but the way the part is put down on the script is to have him modelled after the wave of the young, entrepreneurial tech wizards of the information age, but with a case of a determined, egomaniacal streak bordering in sociopathy. Unfortunately it comes across as a less-controlled, more blown-up version of Eisenberg's brilliant turn as Mark Zuckerbeg (who from what I understand is a lot nicer a person that his onscreen depiction). I know that's a fairly unoriginal comparison, but the fact is is that it does not feel right, I feel it doesn't fit into the mix of the overall proceedings. Speaking of which, one thing that did make me cross was the choppy editing. Admittedly, I'm sure a lot of this is written on paper in the script this way, but what needs to stop is all this cutting away in the middle of action sequences to other things that are occurring simultaneously. At least, if you're going to do it, time them appropriately, so that you're not distracting and detracting from what's happening. Instead, I found myself at various points waiting for them to cut back to whatever particular development I was more interested in. I can only imagine that poor David Brenner, being given such an insurmountable task of trying to make logical sense of all of this ended up like Bob Geldof's Pink in Alan Parker's film of The Wall, making strange designs out of different completely unrelated objects on the floor of his apartment. Finally, although this is a clear improvement on Man Of Steel (in retrospect, I actually think that film was worse than the 4.0/10 rating I gave it back when it came out. It was rubbish), it's all over the shop, and that's because of Zack Snyder as a director, and because of Charles Roven and Deborah Snyder as producers. Admittedly, it'd be hard for this mess to be faultless, but I think there is something there and that a more capable filmmaker could have handled this property much better. Snyder instead is incredibly over-indulgent throughout, wanting to do too much but as a result not getting a much of anything done at all. I know obviously that Deborah Snyder (his wife) and Charles Roven trust him enough to deliver a competent movie, but competence simply isn't enough and if I was his producer I'd be slapping him on the back of head and telling him to knock it off with some of that crap. We want great films, not competent ones, and it genuinely bothers me when someone like Snyder has his name emblazoned on the marketing material, trailers and posters as a 'Visionary Director' when real artists like Guillermo del Toro have had to struggle for four or five years at a time to get a project off the ground. Okay, rant over!

Well, as you can see, I've had a fair amount to say about Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice. Normally, a film of this standard wouldn't have registered as particularly significant to me, but because of it's high profile, the divided (at best) reception and the very nature of the beast itself, it stands out as an exception to the rule and is worthy of debate. Perhaps that is yet another positive. And, yes, I know some people might not be happy with my thoughts on this one, but I don't think it is a bad film. It's an unholy mess with a ridiculous amount of over-convoluted basil exposition nonsense, has a major character/villain whose interpretation is botched, choppy patchwork editing that can't do enough to hide the over-indulgence of Zack Snyder as a filmmaker, but it's still a decent film. It has two solid central performances, Chris Terrio's addition to the creative team keeps it grounded in a sense of reality amidst some admittedly preposterous moments, it looks good enough, there's an intriguing score by Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL and there is a high standard in the overall production value. It's all over the place, but at best it's a mildly entertaining romp.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 5.3/10

The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Hungry (that's what it said in my review for Man Of Steel. Not in the physical sense this time, but mentally I'm hungry, always.)