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Death Proof: Kick Ass!

October 5, 2009

After my very disappointing experience with the film Taxi Driver (1976), I went back to the old faithful: Quentin Tarantino.
Death Proof (2007) is a little different. It has the dirty roughness that you expect from Tarantino films, but it was different. It had the same feelings of Reservoir Dogs (1992), but still, different. Death Proof (2007) is focused on 2 sets of 3 girlfriends and with no reason at all, the actions of Stuntman Mike and his attempts to get away with murder.

In each of his films, Tarantino allows the audience to get comfortable with long-winded conversation, time consuming arguments and mundane activities…then BAM!!! No time to brace yourself. All that you took for granted; small talk, girlie friendships, boy troubles, characters with all their limbs… is gone. Amazing.

After the first half of the film you already despise Stuntman Mike, then something amazing happens. I can’t actually tell you what happens, it would ruin the experience entirely, and I can’t do that to you. What I can tell you is that by the time the credits roll, you will feel great. You wont only have a smile on your face, you might also giggle.

Brilliant soundtrack too! Check it out!

Till next time,

S

Taxi Driver: 113 minutes I could have spent on something good

October 3, 2009

Over the weekend I saw Taxi Driver (1967), supposedly one of those movies you should see before you die. Honestly, I don’t see why this film has such a grand reputation.
If you haven’t seen Taxi Driver (1967), the film is about a loner called Travis Bickle who works as a taxi driver. Driving through the city of New York, we see what he sees; the dirt, the scum and of course, prostitutes. Throughout this entire film we are made aware of his odd nature. It’s obvious that he hates the scum of New York and deep within him is an urge, an urge to act on his hate. We watch as he buys guns, makes gun devices and cuts his hair. After seeing his obsession develop, we expect fireworks! Constant death! Crazy rampages! Instead Bickle kills a shoplifter by mere coincidence and kills two pimps. Whao0o0o. Sorry if I spoiled it for you, but if anything, I have just you from wasting 113 minutes.

I’m no violent-hungry movie lover, if anything I’m not attracted to this genre at all. But I feel that I made an effort for this film, due to its reputation, and its famous quotes and of course Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster and Harvey Keitel. The actors were great, but the narrative needed more.

I honestly believe that if this film were made in the last decade, it would be brilliant. It would be the love child of Taken (2008) and Falling Down (1993). The scum of New York remains to exist, the life of a taxi driver would be almost identical to one from the 70s. The difference? BETTER. More explosions, an engaging narrative and 113 minutes that I don’t want back.

Till next time

S

Funny People: a different (but good) Adam Sandler comedy

September 23, 2009

This week I visited my local movie theatre and saw Funny People (2009).
This is no ordinary Adam Sandler film. This film features the humour expected from Seth Rogan and Adam Sandler, however this style of humour is shadowed by sadness, regret and illness. Although this is so, the all star cast take you on an experience where humour is serious work and happiness is no laughing matter. I had trouble deciding who’s side I was on- the regretful cheating ex-boyfriend, the cheating but willing to change husband, the confused wife (with a mid-life crisis), or the young comedian who wants to help people make the right choice (who sometimes makes things worse).


After hearing an interview with the writer and director Judd Apatow, it becomes clear that this film illustrates a real experience. Judd Apatow’s experience in the comedy world, started as a teenager who exploited his high school radio station in order to interview and befriend comedians and of course his adult experience came from being a comedian, comedy writer, producer and director. On top of this, he lived with Adam Sandler during Sandler’s Saturday Night Live days. This experience alone would have written this film, as Apatow would have watched Sandler became a house-hold name over night.
Of course, the fact that Seth Rogan (the character, Leo Koenig) and Adam Sandler (the character, George Simmons) are both comedians, do help their characters but I believe Apatow’s real life experiences were the greatest influences within the film.

The protagonist, George Simmons share the same successful comedy and film career as the real life Adam Sandler. On top of this, Simmons also shares memories and experiences with Sandler. The film begins with a home video of a young Sandler prank calling a restaurant. This was no re-enactment. Then the film continues and the audience is illustrated various home videos of the young Adam Sandler performing stand up comedy. By illustrating these home videos, the audience cannot help but merge Adam Sandler, with the fabricated character of George Simmons. However, since Simmons is displayed as an arrogant demanding bastard, and Sandler is known to be easygoing celebrity, these characters could not merged completely. Nevertheless, by presenting old footage of young Sandler, the audience are able to relate to the character on a personal level.


One huge problem I had with this film is the fact that Judd Apatow’s wife, Leslie Mann, and their two daughters, Maude and Iris Apatow starred in the film. There is a scene where Mann’s character, Laura, puts on a DVD of Mable, played by Maude Apatow, singing in her school play. This home video looks legitimate, and illustrates Mable singing for a couple of minutes. Of course, this scene could have released a reaction like this: AWWwwWwwWww, she’s quite talented. But it didn’t. All I was thinking was that this scene was securing Maude Apatow’s future in the performance industry. Sad but true. There was no need for this scene, but it featured anyway and the audio from video also featured in the closing credits!

If you want a classic Adam Sandler film, then you might be disappointed. Try and remove these expectations and see the film! If not for the story, then for the jokes! Check out the trailer below!

Till next time

S

Up Up and Away!

September 18, 2009

This week, I saw UP (2009) in 3D!
If I needed one word to describe it, I would say ‘BEAUTIFUL’.
This is the tenth feature film where Disney and Pixar have combined their special (and very sweet) forces to create family-friendly entertainment.

What I love about this film, and most films in which Pixar and Disney have created, is the fact that they are not your usual kids story. From the moment UP (2009) began, I didn’t feel old or too young; it was as if this film as age-neutral. It never occurred to me that I was watching a film that is dominantly targeted at children.
Since the days of Toy Story (1995), Disney & Pixar have produced films that not only entertaining for children but also adults. I have no idea why it took the film industry till 1995 to do this! Why not entertain the parents who must pay for their ticket, their children’s ticket, plus popcorn and a coke! All it takes if a few discreet adult jokes placed in areas of the film that wont confuse the underage audience.


UP (2009) begins with the story of young Carl Fedricksen, whose love for adventure is dominated by his fear of it. He them meets young Ellie, a cute yet nerdy adventurer who takes a liking to Carl almost instantly. After we are introduced to this perfect pair, a montage begins. This montage was the most perfect moment in the film. With the simple technique of putting images to piano music, this montage opens your tear gates. We see young Carl and Ellie get married, face the pickles of life, grow old together, and face the inevitable heartaches. This scene is a perfect example of where the personal and emotional feelings of the audience member, together, enhance the cinematic experience. LUCKILY your 3D nerd glasses hide your tears, and no one will ever know!

The amazing element of this film is that the main character is an old man. For a film targeted to children a film about an elderly and bitter gentleman is not the first concept that comes to mind. When thinking about this, I recalled my first impression of the character Wall-E (from the 2008 film Wall-E), who always reminded me of Woody Allan. Maybe old unattractive males protagonists are the new favourite concept for Disney Pixar producers? Whatever it is, it worked.

The only criticism I have for UP (2009), is that I wished that Russel and Carl explored more of ‘South Africa’ and was given the opportunity to find more jungle creatures. It felt as if the jungle only consisted of an amazing rare bird and talking dogs.

This film takes an elderly man, who hates the idea of a ‘luxury retirement resort’, and a child, who desires a father-figure, and illustrates a growing friendship that seems somewhat rare in the real world.
If you love a creative and original storyline, then this is the one for you.This film is doing super well in the box office, but that doesn’t mean you should download it! The 3D experience is well worth your mulla! Plus, having 3D movies in regular cinemas is a great new concept and one that enhanced the animation experience!

Till next time,

S

District 9: Finally! An alien sci-fi, not set in America!

September 6, 2009

I was not interested in seeing this film, and during the days leading up to it, my interest thinned further. I booked the tickets for District 9 (2009) (for a Saturday evening viewing), on Monday, knowing perfectly well that Thursday is the official ‘new movie’ day and that Thursdays options might rub my Buddha better. Then when Thursday arrived films, such as The Soloist (2009), were released and for once in my life, I thought my anal organisational skills were crushingly disappointing!
I thought this was a terrible experience before watching the film, and I try to avoid this form of pre-movie experience as much as I can, but at the end of the day, I’m very happy I decided to see District 9 (2009)and I feel the experience did not affect me at all.

The film begins like a documentary. It’s shot with movie-quality cameras, however the footage is shot hand-held; a style of capturing that is usually reserved for home videos and school projects. Usually I don’t like this style of camera work (commonly known from the film Cloverfield (2008)) and I usually feel that it is not necessary as it doesn’t compliment the film. But District 9 (2009) was different. Having been filmed in the slums of Johannesburg, South Africa, this cheap-style of camera work, gave a real, rough and dirty foundation to the film. With scenes that displayed little movement from characters, the camera was placed back onto the stand, but this would only be for a short time frame, before the shakes return.
Throughout the entire film, there are interviews with various characters. These interviews give the viewer the impression, that Wikus van der Merwe (main characters, played by Sharlto Copley) is dead. We are introduced to Wikus, a nerdy pastels-wearing pencil pusher, a passionately employee of Multi-National United, the firm who controls and managers Alien relations for District 9. Wikus is a polite lovable man, but after being promoted, we watch his character grow confidant and his disrespect for aliens (also referred to as ‘Prawns’) starts to illuminate through his humane outer-shell. However after being infected with an alien virus, he not only becomes physically like an alien, but becomes more trusting and affectionate for aliens, or more specifically, an alien called Christopher.


This film makes its audience question how humane humans actually are. Sure, humans allowed these aliens to live on earth, but in what state? And for what reasons? It felt as if the government were only interested in the aliens for their extra ordinary weapons.
Although the aliens seems barbaric, eating raw meat and goat heads, they were never illustrated as conflicting amongst their own kind. On the other hand, Wikus’s father-in-law, a Multi-National United manager, was happy to kill Wikus for research purposes.

This is the only film of my generation, where I felt that the narrative wanted me to feel and support the Aliens in contract to the humans. I think my favourite part of the film was the fact that it wasn’t set in America, I cant see the film being filmed anywhere else other than Johannesburg. It was the perfect familiar and yet alien setting, for me at the least. I never considered that producer by the green-screen loving man himself, Peter Jackson, would have touched this project; its very different from King Kong (2005), or the Frighteners (1996). But obviously Jackson saw the potential, and understood that the world needed a different style of Science-fiction, alien Vs. human movie.

Check out the the interview I have posted below. Peter Jackson talks of this films originality, and I couldn’t agree more! The fascinating aspect of this interview is Jackson’s casual attitude about choosing the lead role for District 9 (2009). Check it out!

Defiantly give this movie a chance!

Till next time

S

Just a note

September 6, 2009

I must admit, that I try to avoid over-dosing on movie trailers before I see a film. I also do not listen/watch/read movie reviewers before I see a film, because I feel it leaves an impression that then affects my movie experience; better or for worse, its not for me.
I write this blog, not only because I love films and love talking about them, but also because I know people rather hear the opinions of others before paying $15 to see the film or hire the DVD. I also write this blog because, now that I have seen these films, I would love to hear the thoughts of others who have also seen them. So please don’t hesitate to write a comment and argue against me 🙂

Till next time

S

Inglourious Basterds: Has Quentin grown up?

September 3, 2009
One of the many very kool posters...

Friday night I saw the glorious Inglourious Basterds (2009). Based on a fabricated story of WW2 and the assassination of Adolf Hitler, this brilliant rewrite of history was a little different than expected, but not in a negative way, I assure you! The music was similar, Samuel Jackson was the narrator, but there was a feeling that shadowed the film. Was this Quentin Tarantino’s first grown-up film? Inglourious Basterds (2009) had a mature after taste; something that I have not experienced in other QT films. But after hearing the interview with QT about how this movie was in his head for more than a decade, I was able to understand how this film was a little different than the others. But why take so long? Why leave it on the backbench while making films like

Death Proof (2007)? There are two reasons that come to mind: QT and his fans were not ready for it and that QT wasn’t able to get away with rewriting history until now. Whatever the reason, I am happy that QT made the film. But I must inform you, if you’re not a fan of violence or scenes where the camera does not pull away at the icky bits, then this might not be the film for you….

The first scene began peacefully, at a dairy farm in France. We are presented with a perfectly green landscape; a scene that almost seems as if Tarantino copy and pasted from The Sound of Music. Col. Hans Landa (also known as the Jew Hunter) arrives at this farm with the mere purpose of finding the French-Jewish families that might be hiding at this French dairy farm. Landa speaks to the farmer respectfully in French, compliments the farmer’s three daughters, passionately illustrates his love for the farmer’s milk and then asks politely to continue the conversation in English (we find out later that changing the language to English was not only a great idea for the Western audience who don’t want to keep reading subtitles, but also so that the potentially hiding French-Jewish families could not understand the conversation). At the start of this English-based conversation, I almost convinced that Landa was a sweet man in the nazi uniform. I was almost convinced that Landa would walk out the door happily ignoring any hidden Jewish families, however, as conversation shifts and his tone remains pleasant, Landa’s words and pleasant facial gestures are almost instantly replaced by the features of a brutally cold man. Landa displays himself as the perfect gentleman among friend, then as a horrific cold bastard among suspicious men (and women).

I will stop here. I don’t want to spoil this scene for you. But what I will say is that this scene is brilliant at making the audience comfortable, then suddenly horrifying them. This scene ultimately bitch slaps the audience; waking them up to the fact that they are watching a Quenton Tarantino film; you will see pleasant highs and tragically violent lows, but what else did you expect? This scene is truly the best introduction for a dirty, graphic, and brutal film like Inglourious Basterds (2009). What I would like to add, I am amazed I have never heard of Christoph Waltz until now. Walts plays the character Col. Hans Landa, and I honestly cant think of any Hollywood actor who could have done a better job.

When watching an interview with Tarantino, Tarantino mentioned that the moment Waltz auditioned for the part, he had it, hands down. Performing in many German television shows and films, Waltz has been under the radar for too long. Guess how many languages he can speak fluently? Guess? FOUR! German, French, English and Italian. What a brilliant talent. Hope to see more of Christoph Waltz.

Last thing! My Last blog focused on little similarities from QT films. Well here are a couple more little notes to add to the list. There is a scene that features in the first half of the scene, where the inglorious basterds are standing in a forest with a handful of Nazi captives, where a song is played in the background. This song also featured in
Kill Bill Vol.2 (2004), and fits like a glove! On top of this, we all know that QT has a thing for feet! Why? Who knows? Never the less, the final scene that features the character Shosanna Dreyfus (played by Mélanie Laurent), Shosanna is shown beautifully in a blood-coloured dress, her hair fashionably styled and her skin glowing with nerves, and feet, lacking of shoes. Coincidently, Uma Thurman’s Beatrix Kiddo when she finds herself pregnant in Kill Bill Vol 2 (2004), and Thurman’s character Mia in Pulp Fiction (1994), both in her home and dancing at the 50’s styled bar, was shown shoe-less.

Till next time

S