From the Bowie-spawn director of the genius debut film Moon (2009), Duncan Jones’ Source Code is the sort of movie I can really get my teeth into. A film that makes you think – and a sci-fi too! Jake Gyllenhaal is universally brilliant and the on-screen chemistry between his character and that of Michelle Monaghan (Gone Baby Gone) gives you something emotion to drape the plot around. There is little to fault about the rest of the performances – other than Dr. Rutledge (Jeffrey Wright, The Manchurian Candidate). Simple and effective in its cinematography and direction, we are transported into the confused existence of Captain Stevens (Gyllenhaal, Donnie Darko), a helicopter pilot who finds himself repeatedly transported into a simulated reality in order to prevent a terrorist attack in the future. Stevens spends his time between the simulation and a strange capsule as he tries to work out what the hell is going on – both on the train and with himself.
As the bright light of the Oscars begins to fade, I thought it might be time to reflect on how pompous and conceited the movie industry really is. To that end, let me present to you Politicoid’s thoughts on the most overrated movies of the year past. Every one listed is a bona fide case of pure drivel, but somehow they manage to get rave reviews. Hopefully one day I will get paid to write glowing reviews of utterly shit movies, too (anyone..?). Or perhaps there is a conspiracy to provide critics with completely different movies from the ones released to the public?
There is an outside chance that I am just wrong. As a sceptic, I should at least entertain the idea.
Idea entertained. Thesis rejected. And on with the show…
Flight tells of the redemption of terminally smashed airline pilot Whip Whittaker (Denzel Washington, Training Day) after he miraculously saves 96 passengers from almost certain death. Beset by investigations into the crash and his culpability for it, Whip must confront his addiction and the moral dilemmas overshadowing his inevitable salvation.
So, the good stuff: Denzel Washington acts Denzel Washington in fine style, as per usual, in a film which is flawless in it’s cinematography, if somewhat straight-laced in style. The opening scenes have you bolted to your seat – the crash scene is riveting, even as your ability to suspend disbelief is challenged. And… er, on to the bad stuff…
Zero Dark Thirty tells the story of the hunt for, and execution of, America’s deadliest foe – Osama bin Laden. There has been much controversy surrounding the release of Zero Dark Thirty. This is one of those films which are inextricably linked to their moment in time, and the strength of feeling surrounding the issues involved was bound to generate some kind of media frenzy. Kathryn Bigelow has herself termed the film ‘journalistic’ in style and substance and it has been this assertion that has hyped the media balloon.
There is, in a sense, a kind of journalistic documentary-style integrity to what she has produced (given the known lack of integrity in journalism, despite the stated aims). But it is, ultimately, a movie. The plot centres around Maya (Jessica Chastain, Lawless), a young CIA field agent charged with finding the elusive binLaden. The synergies between the different forms of incoming intelligence and between the main characters form the matrix that binds the film together – and effectively so. Continue reading
Quentin Tarantino’s latest revenge movie comes hot on the heels of his last success Inglourious Basterds. Just in case you’re worried about spoilers, I will treat the plot summary, er, summarily. We follow the blood-spattered antics of ex-slave Django (Jamie Foxx, Collateral) and bounty hunter Dr Schultz (Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds) as they search for Django’s missing bride, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington, The Last King of Scotland), in antebellum America. It all gets very violent and Django gets to kill a lot of white guys, which he enjoys intensely.
Django is played wickedly by Jamie Foxx, and Waltz’s Dr Schultz was brilliantly played and hilarious to boot, in a similar way to his Col. Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds.
The Spielberg-directed drama telling the tale of the great emancipator’s struggle to pass the 13th Amendment provides an intriguing, if unexpected look at the entrails of the democratic process in civil war-era North America. In the true-to-life style of Schindler’s List, it represents another excellent directorial feat from a matured blockbuster film maker. There is so much to say about this movie, I doubt I will be able to fit it all in.
The opening scene has us join Abe in a slightly implausible chat with some of the soldiers fighting for the union. At once it sets the stage for the tale to be told, but had me worried that the rest of the movie would be filled with over-cooked Hollywood reverence and patriotism. Thankfully, my concerns were unfounded and although the film has the production values of a blockbuster, it does not attempt to fit the mould of recent times. Spielberg has made no attempt to cram our cortices with adrenaline just to hold our attention, but thankfully uses his skill as a director and the excellent script to keep us riveted. Continue reading