Monthly Archives: September, 2012

Trailer for your Weekend: End of Watch

This film had pretty much flown under my radar. But then I saw William Friedkin, director of The French Connection, say on twitter that it was perhaps the greatest cop film ever. High praise indeed from someone who directed perhaps the greatest cop film ever! Check it out.

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The Bergman Files: Music in Darkness

“I just want to exist. Nothing more” – Bengt, the newly blind protagonist of Music in Darkness.

Ingmar Bergman’s fourth film Music in Darkness (1948) continues an unbroken run of love stories. This tale concerns the evolving love between Bengt, an upper class man who is blinded in the film’s opening sequence, and Ingrid from the peasantry. The film is at its best when this love is slowly building between the two main characters, rather than when showing  Bengt’s struggles to come to terms with his sudden blindness in isolation. These struggles are still there when she is also onscreen and the manner in which she helps him to take on this suddenly dark world give their relationship much of its tenderness and weight.

The first scene is a cracker. I mentioned Hitchcock in my review of A Ship Bound for India (1947), but this scene is even more reminiscent of the great man. Bengt is on an artillery range when a gorgeous puppy wanders into the range of machine gun fire. It seems like an age between rounds of fire as Bengt tries to lure the puppy to safety in what is an exceptionally tense scene. Eventually there is another burst of machine gun fire and Bengt crumples to the earth. What follows is a quite strangely brilliant, albeit a little out of place sequence as Bengt lays in a coma. It is a series of stark almost avant-garde imagery – an eye, writhing mud-clad tortured figure, and towering fish – that is quite unlike anything Bergman has produced so far in his first three films. When Bengt finally awakes he finds that he is completely blind, obviously a massive blow to the man. This is redoubled by the fact that his fiancée leaves him because of his newfound state. It is a little strange actually that more is not made of her leaving throughout the film. Into this life comes Ingrid, a member of the peasantry who works in the house where Bengt lives. The early part of their relationship is quite beautifully built up. It begins as a friendship as she goes to far more effort than anyone to engage with the blind man. She literally broadens the horizon of a world that has suddenly closed in around Bengt. This whole first part of the film is really wonderful. In his third film with Bergman, Birger Malmsten is acting out of his skin, perfectly conveying how it must feel to suddenly have one’s sight taken away. The love story meanwhile is a return to the more subtle slow building ones of Bergman’s first two films after the more melodramatic romance of A Ship Bound for India.

Music in Darkness

Promo material for the film.

As the film goes on, we discover that Bengt is a talented pianist and organist, hence starkly illustrating the quite wonderful title that the film has. After failing to be accepted into the Royal Music Academy, Bengt leaves his lodgings and gains work in a restaurant away from Ingrid. They part on bad terms after she overhears him calling her a “little wench” for some unknown reason after it is suggested they could eventually marry. Following this, she understandably refuses to respond to Bengt’s correspondence. After such a great start, I was disappointed that the film really petered out through a long middle section where Bengt and Ingrid are apart. Their separate character arcs are interesting enough, but they pale when compared to the masterful build of their relationship. The impetus that was given by their budding romance is only recaptured when they are once again united, this time with their future prospects in question given that Ingrid now has a new boyfriend. Again, the film excels as it explores whether our main couple will end up together or not.

A really excellent first third and a satisfying concluding final quarter sandwich something that is quite disinteresting. It is great to see the genuine tension on show, both in the opening sequence and also in a later sequence on railroad tracks. Also, Bergman continues to show that he is extremely adept as both writer and director at bringing his films to really satisfying conclusions. Just be prepared for this to be really rather flat throughout the middle period.

Verdict: Stubby of Reschs

‘The Bergman Files’ Leaderboard

  1. It Rains on our Love (1946)
  2. Crisis (1946)
  3. Music in Darkness (1948)
  4. A Ship Bound for India (1947)

Want to win two Bergman films courtesy of Madman Films? Just like or comment on this post to go in the draw. More details here.

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The Bergman Files: A Ship Bound for India

“The adult world is, with few exceptions, cruel hypocritical or at best indifferent” – Birgitta Steene writing about the worldview of Bergman’s early films.

Ingmar Bergman’s third directorial feature A Ship Bound for India (1947) tells the story of Johannes, a young man confronting the cruel adult world that Steene mentions in the quote above. In this film, that adult world is personified in the immensely unlikeable character of Captain Alexander Blom, Johannes’ father. In the film, Johannes returns to his home town after seven long years away. The early part of the film reveals a past love that had gone awry and the bulk of the film is a long flashback sequence which details how this occurred. Johannes lived on a salvage boat with his mother and father as well as a few other men who worked for his dad. Into this life comes Sally, Captain Blom’s mistress. That a man would so openly flaunt his mistress in front of his son and long-time wife, shows what kind of a character Captain Blom is. To put it bluntly he is an unmitigated and irredeemable prick of a man. It is not giving too much away to say that Johannes and Sally come to fall in love, and the film recounts the efforts of this young man to escape the cruel clutches of his father and make his own way in the world.

Erik Bergman (1886-1970), parish minister, fat...

Ingmar’s father Erik Bergman

The early parts of the flashback establish the two main male characters by contrasting them against one another. Johannes is kindly and quiet, exceptionally self-conscious of a small hump in his back. Conversely his father is a drunken jackass who gets into bar fights and cheats on his wife. This early part of the film shows that for all of his amazing talents as a director, shooting fight scenes was definitely not Ingmar Bergman’s strong suit. Captain Blom is not just a mean and cruel man, but a sadistic one. He loves the power he wields over everyone else in the film – his long-time crew, Johannes, his caring wife and his mistress Sally. He treats them all terribly for no other reason than he thinks that he can. However, gradually throughout the film, this hold that the Captain has over all of these people begins to weaken in one way or another. This manipulative man, who stirs up Johannes about his hump knowing full well how self conscious about it his son is, is truly one of the most unlikeable characters ever committed to film. It is well known that Bergman himself had a complicated relationship with his own father, so one has to wonder if that explains at least in part the character of Captain Blom. In many ways the emotional centre of the film is Alice Blom, Johannes caring mother and long suffering wife of the Captain. She is publicly humiliated by Captain Blom when he brings his mistress aboard. All she has ever dreamt of is a cottage in the country with her husband, and now that dream is being torn away from her. She illustrates her grief by recounting the heartfelt and symbolic story to Captain Alexander of when they first started out in the salvage industry and she operated the equipment that kept him alive underwater. She was literally responsible for him being able to breathe. Predictably, the Captain is entirely unmoved by the emotional pleas of this wonderful woman.

Johannes and Sally, who find love under the strangest of circumstances in this film. © 1958 Nordisk Tonefilm. All Rights Reserved

For me, A Ship Bound for India did not reach the heights of Bergman’s first two films. It is by no means bad, it just does not have the same heart running through its core. The love story between Johannes and Sally is rendered in a much more melodramatic manner than in the other two films which feature slow burn relationships that really build. My favourite aspects of the film thoughwere its nautical elements. The first real image of the film that we see is a ship being battered by a storm, and much of the film takes place on boats and the surrounding docks. There are plenty of shots of shipyards, boats and close-ups of ropes and propellers early in the film to set the scene. Success in this world is measured by one’s success as a seaman. Captain Blom puts his hunchbacked son down by scoffing at his assertions that he will one day be a successful captain himself. Johannes is lauded upon his return at the beginning of the film though because this is exactly what he has made of himself. This whole environment is a real change to the more urban or at least landlubber settings of the other Bergman films I have reviewed. The nautical aspect of the film also plays host to the film’s most riveting moment. In a Hitchcockian moment of tension, Captain Blom attempts to murder his son whilst he is underwater using the very old school diving apparatus. Great stuff!

 A Ship Bound for India is an interesting, but minor early Bergman flick. Overall, whilst I did definitely enjoy this film, it is a touch more obvious and does not have the same delightful subtleties that pervade both Crisis (1946) and It Rains on our Love (1946). By all means though, the film is still worth checking out to see Bergman’s film journey continue.

Verdict: Stubby of Reschs

‘The Bergman Files’ Leaderboard

  1. It Rains on our Love (1946)
  2. Crisis (1946)
  3. A Ship Bound for India (1947)

Want to win two Bergman films courtesy of Madman Films? Just like or comment on this post to go in the draw. More details here.

Like what you read? Then please like Not Now I’m Drinking a Beer and Watching a Movie on facebook here.
 

Trailer for your Weekend: Reacher

English: Director Werner Herzog at a press con...

Werner Herzog!!!

I could give you a whole bunch of reasons why Reacher is probably going to be worth checking out when it is released in January even though this trailer is somewhat middling. I could tell you about the awesome cast members or the very popular source thriller book series by Lee Child.

But let me break down for you nice and simple like why I will be rushing out to see Jack Reacher on opening day, and why you should be too. Werner Herzog plays the villain. Let me copy and paste that sentence in case you think you misread it. Werner Herzog plays the villain. Crazy as batshit Werner. One of the greatest living directors. A man who once lost a bet that saw him cook and eat his own shoe on screen. A man who’s explosive relationship with Klaus Kinski saw him create brilliant films such as Nosferatu (1979) and Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972) but also saw the director threaten to murder his star. For some reason, this guy is playing the bad guy in an action flick. I gotta see that.

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Trailer for your Weekend: Dredd

I’m not familiar with either the comic book source or the original film of Judge Dredd. But the first tiny bit of this trailer looked like really cool futuristic based action aplenty. Unfortunately, then it just gets… well woeful looking. Mainly cause people start talking and the script going on this is abysmal. Cringe worthy line after cringe worthy line. And as Jon from The Film Brief so rightly pointed out when I showed this to him the other day, they guy who plays Dredd is doing a hardcore Bale as Batman impression. I’ll probably go check it out, but with little anticipation after this preview.

No Man’s Land

In the university semester just finished (the last of my undergrad degree) I took a course on post-war European cinema. However, rather than focus on the biggest names and greatest films of the era, the course interestingly chose to consider films as reflections of both history and society.

English: A combo picture shows different stori...

Images from the Bosnian War, the conflict that No Man’s Land is set in.

One of the films that I was exposed to was Danis Tanovic’s No Man’s Land (2001), which is set in the Serbian-Bosnian war of the mid-1990s. The term No Man’s Land of course refers to the area in between opposition trenches on the battleground. Here, it also takes on a stark new meaning. Serbian soldiers, believing one of their wounded Bosnian enemies to be dead, set up a land mine underneath him. In an example of the unimaginable coldness and barbarism of modern warfare, their hope is that when his colleagues come and retrieve the body, they will be blown sky high. As it turns out though, the soldier is not dead and comes-to atop the live mine. In the bottom of a trench he is in the ultimate metaphorical No Man’s Land, caught somewhere between life and death. He is joined in this trench by a colleague, and a raw Serbian soldier, on his first day on the job. A majority of the first half of the film takes place solely in this restricted environ, down a trench. The three verbally spar and back and forth power plays ensue. There is a heated argument about who started the war and the entire situation is designed to function as a microcosm of the war proper and a comment on the futility of all wars. This first half of No Man’s Land functions better as a reflection on the nature of the Serb-Bosnian conflict than as a piece of actual filmic entertainment. The back and forth banter between the soldiers is enlightening, especially for someone like myself whose knowledge of the conflict is sadly limited. But it does not always make for entirely riveting viewing. It does at times feel a little too uneventful, like a few dudes sitting in a hole talking the whole time.

No Man’s Land DVD cover. Copyright Madman Films

From around the midway part of the film, the role of the UN peace keeping mission and the media is focused on a lot more, as they both get involved in the unfolding situation. I thought this would weaken the film further, as the main thing I thought it had going for it was the claustrophobic setting of a single trench and the manner in which it forced these two combatants into close quarters. However, the change actually enhanced the film. The interactions between all these parties, especially between the media and the UN really works, making the film more dynamic and enjoyable, whilst still retaining the thought provoking strengths of the earlier segments. If anyone comes out of this anti-war piece looking the silliest, it is the heartless anti-interventionist and bumbling UN force. This depiction of the UN really does work, and remains pertinent to this day. As Libya has more recently shown us, these are fundamental issues concerning peacekeeping missions and similar. Just when, if ever can they go in and intervene. Equally as interesting is the examination of the role of the media in a warzone. It is simply so intrusive on the media’s part, but in the end it feeds a market that laps up footage from the ‘ground’ and interviews with combatants. The film shows both the positive and negative aspects of having the media around in these kinds of situations. They can be manipulative and there to tell cheap stories. But also, the best kinds of media in horrible situations are able to shed light on atrocities, and help force the relevant authorities to take action.

This, like many, is a film of two halves. Don’t be turned off by the slightly too ponderous first half, as the second is quite a phenomenal piece of work. And closes with an ending that you will definitely not find in a Hollywood war film, that’s for sure.

Verdict: Stubby of Reschs

Progress: 59/1001

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Steamboat Bill Jr

Buster Keaton’s Steamboat Bill Jr (1928) takes place on the banks of the Mississippi River. Steamboat Bill funnily enough runs a steamboat on the river. His son, played by Buster Keaton, turns up following the arrival on the scene of a much larger steamboat, owned by the ‘big business’ cipher J.J. King who aims to render Bill’s boat obsolete. Father and son have not met since Jr was a small child. Bill, who happens to look a lot like Popeye, is downcast when he sees his son, considering him to be effeminate, weak and overall a bit of a dandy. Jr is keen to impress, but struggles with his father’s clear disapproval of various aspects of his persona, which he has formed far away from the river at school in Boston. The ashamed Bill attempts to get Jr to get a more suitable hat, rather than the beret that he chooses. This takes place in a rather humourous scene which self knowingly plays with the notion of Buster’s usual porkpie hat, continually making the audience believe that that is the hat he will end up in. It is a really very clever and modern scene actually.

DVD cover of the Aussie release of Steamboat Bill Jr. Copyright Madman films.

The film is fast paced, even for a Buster Keaton film, zipping from one scene to another. Like another of Keaton’s famous features Our Hospitality (1923), the story is a classic Romeo and Juliet one. A lady friend of Jr’s from school happens to be the daughter of Bill’s arch rival King. Enter the star-crossed lovers and warring families with King and Bill banning their progeny from becoming involved with the others’. It is a little strange though because after a fair bit of early focus, this romantic narrative thread falls by the wayside as Bill is placed  in jail (at the hands of King) and Jr has to attempt to help him escape. Through this period Jr does eventually earn the respect of his father, and the love story thread is picked up as he rescues Marion and her father King from the hurricane that rages at the film’s finale.

The story is a little slow, and it lacks the depth of The General (1927) or some of the nuanced comedic stylings of Our Hospitality. But thankfully, no one moves like Keaton. He is such a wondrous physical performer, the way he trips, falls and throws himself about. Rightly known for his big set pieces, Steamboat Bill Jrfeatures one that is very close to his greatest. In the middle of a hurricane, the entire front of a building falls on top of Buster. Luckily enough though, he is perfectly positioned and slips straight through the attic window as the building falls over him. It is a scene that has to be seen to be believed, and just reminds you how much films and stunts have changed over cinema’s 100 and a bit years. No doubting the safety improvements that have been made are incredibly important. But there is nothing like seeing a performer risking life and limb onscreen for your entertainment. These scenes of the hurricane destroying the township on the banks of the Mississippi are really impressive, utilising both miniature work and the destruction of full size sets. Also using some pretty powerful wind machines as well – Keaton has recounted how one of them blew a truck right into the river during filming.

English: Buster Keaton & Ernest Torrence in St...

Steamboat Bill Jr (Buster Keaton) and Sr (Ernest Torrence) lounging by the Mississippi.

There is a lot of joy in Steamboat Bill Jr and it is a very funny movie, but it lacks some of the panache and lasting resonance that characterises Keaton’s The General and many of his iconic short films. If this came from any other filmmaker I would no doubt rave about it. But it is unfortunate that despite being a fantastic film with a few utterly astounding Keaton stunts, Steamboat Bill Jr does live a little in the shade of his other work. By no means bad though, and still worth a little over an hour of your time.

Verdict: Stubby of Reschs

Progress: 58/1001

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The Bergman Files: It Rains on our Love

“There’s a simplicity about his films. They’re very beautiful, very well acted, but at the heart of it is a very simple approach to film-making, an idea that if you record things honestly enough, and in enough detail, even in situations that seem un-dramatic, there will be the ability to move people and show what is going on behind the surfaces” – Michael Winterbottom talking about Bergman.

The first shot of It Rains on our Love (1946) sees a group of people waiting for a bus in a torrential downpour. The bus arrives, and everyone gets on it, except for one person who continues to stand in the rain. This lone figure turns out to be the narrator. A character who will guide the audience through the film, and eventually take an active role in it. It is an intriguing structural device from Bergman. This narrator in the beginning points things out to the audience, only ceasing talking after pointing out one of the main characters, at which point the film shifts into the narrative proper. It is not his final appearance though. He appears later when all is going well to ponder aloud that surely things are going a little too well. Then, even more strangely, he appears in the all-important courtroom scnee right near the end of the film where he takes on an all important role in the actual story. It is a delight that the true nature of this man and what his actual role is stays somewhat oblique and is not entirely spelled out by Bergman.

The narrative follows Maggi and David, two young people with mysterious pasts who meet and fall in love. Their initial meeting takes place in a train station after she has just missed her bus. Penniless, she allows David to organise them cheap accommodation at the Salvation Army. They make love that night, and in the morning they decide to start a new life together. Just like that. And there could have been more build up here as it does not entirely ring true. But it is obvious that these are both desperate people, so they make this desperate attempt to create something between them. The nuance and depth comes as their secrets are slowly revealed by Bergman. After he breaks into a small cottage so they have shelter from another bout of rain, David reveals that he has just been released from doing time in prison. Much later on, after they have been renting this cottage for a while, it is revealed that Maggi is pregnant, and was to a man she did not know, since before meeting David. There is much uncertainty about what will become of the couple and their attempt to start afresh. There is a repeated dialogue refrain from the first half of the film. Maggi asks David “What about tomorrow?” to which he responds “That’s another story.” It is symptomatic of the uncertainty of their lives, and the difficulty of not knowing in any way what tomorrow will bring their way.

Barbro Kollberg as Maggi and Birger Malmsten as David. © © 1958 Nordisk Tonefilm. All Rights Reserve

The quote at the top of this article from British director Michael Winterbottom is on the cover of my DVD copy of It Rains on our Love. I think it is an apt one because in this film the ‘surface’ that Bergman is allowing the audience to peer behind is that of society, or more specifically Swedish society. Bergman strips bare the superficiality of society, ethics and religion through the responses of various people to the plight of Maggi and David. The harsh manner in which they are treated simply because social mores deem that a loving family carrying an out of wedlock child is something to be ashamed of is something they continue to be confronted with. Indeed much of the core of the film, especially its first half, is concerned with interactions between the ‘haves’ of society, and the ‘have-nots’. A small minority act with integrity, but overall there is a distinct coldness on the part of basically everyone towards the struggling couple. The couple who own the nursery where David gets a job encompasses both of these approaches. The owner is good to him, treating him with care and respect. In contrast, his wife eventually forces him from the job with here continual suspicion and accusations. David and Maggi’s generally good willed attempts to make a new start and escape their past are blocked at every turn by difficulties. Their landlord Håkansson is the true villain of the piece, he continually manipulates Maggi and David out of their money, by making them believe that he is a decent bloke.

It Rains on Our Love

Poster for It Rains on Our Love

When Maggi tells David that she is pregnant he is enraged, storming out into the street. However after some soul searching, and a little intervention from our narrator guardian angel, he realises the folly of his prideful response. So he undertakes a grand romantic gesture which seals their tender relationship, both narratively and in the eyes of the audience. From here on the strength of their relationship is the new core of the film, as we see their love continue to grow. They suffer great loss, which is shown in a scene which is intensely touching and emotional. But throughout they now share a stronger bond, one of love and of a united front against a cold, judgemental society. Much of the filmis engaging, but feels like a ‘smaller’, character study compared to his first film Crisis (1946). However, the lengthy courtroom scene at the end of It Rains on our Love is by far and away the highlight out of these two films. Both of the leads have been arrested, and essentially everyone who knows them sells them out. The only ones who do not are their few friends from the slum like area that they live in. It is due to these friends, and another narrator intervention that they have hope of a happy ending. But it is tense to wait and see which ending will befall them as Bergman makes both options seem equally as likely.

From an inauspicious start (the first night in the Salvation Army does not entirely ring true), It Rains on our Love turns into one hell of a love story. A story where the audience genuinely feels for the central couple and hopes that they can have a happy ending; and a story which is touching in the journey it travels.

Verdict: Pint of Kilkenny

‘The Bergman Files’ Leaderboard

  1. It Rains on our Love
  2. Crisis (1946)

Want to win two Bergman films courtesy of Madman Films? Just like or comment on this post to go in the draw. More details here.

Like what you read? Then please like Not Now I’m Drinking a Beer and Watching a Movie on facebook here.

Worth Watching August 2012

Worth Watching:

  • J. Edgar (2011), Clint Eastwood – Concerns a very complicated man and the way history remembers him, and by extension all men. DiCaprio is very good in the lead role and the old man makeup does not annoy as much as usual.  The ending features a twist of sorts, which features a really clever way of addressing memory and how one recalls their own achievements. A fantastic film.
  • Young Adult (2011), Jason Reitman – This is a very dark film, almost like a black comedy sans comedy. A great script sees Diablo Cody showcasing the writing chops that gained her so much recognition for Juno. Charlize Theron is very good as a troubled woman looking to recapture something from her past. Patton Oswald is equally exceptional, their relationship is like no other you will see onscreen this year.
  • Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter (2012), Timur Bekmambetov – My expectations for this were so low as to be non-existent. But it impressed, well at least for the first hour or so. Sorta ran out of steam after that. It looks cool, I thought the 3D really popped in this one. The whole film is built on some pretty solid characterisation which helps too. Despite the unimpressive looking vampires and battles, this is still a pleasant surprise.
  • Headhunters (2011), Morten Tyldum – The latest off the Scandinavian thriller production line comes courtesy of author Jo Nesbo. This was really interesting, truly unique in terms of both tone and character motivation. There is no hero, barely even an antihero, at least until the final quarter where these crystallise. A very interesting thriller with an extremely satisfying community.
  • Haywire (2011), Steven Soderbergh – A cracking action flick, set in beautifully shot locales by Soderbergh. Looks awesomely slick, and has some really nice pacing. More artistic than is standard, with cool use of music and black & white. There are some really effective looking MMA inspired action sequences to balance things out. Despite a not entirely satisfying storyline, the awesome cast ensures this is worth checking out.
  • Cosmopolis (2012), David Cronenberg – An examination of the capitalist ails of society presented in an original and episodic way. The film only falls down when it lingers in the last half hour, but an incredible final scene makes up for that. Robert Pattinson is brilliant as a young, isolated multi-billionaire in search of a haircut whilst Cronenberg shoots most of the film in surrealist close-ups. A real adaptation with much of Don DeLillo’s source novel present. Many found this too oblique dialogue heavy, but I think this is a clever, engaging examination of the film’s chosen themes.
  • V For Vendetta (2006), James McTeigue – A singularly original, very British graphic novel adaptation. An awesome cast of British performers support the excellent lead turns from Natalie Portman and Hugo Weaving. The story is in the classical dystopian mould, concerning manipulation, the repression of minorities and role of the police in society. There is also a cool structural countdown, making this a film which knows how to build to a crescendo perfectly.
V for Vendetta Graffiti 1

V for Vendetta inspired graffiti

  • The Sapphires (2012), Wayne Blair – The best thing about this is how it subtly weaves in issues such as the stolen generation, Aboriginal purity and the Vietnam War into the storyline, without beating you over the head with them. The film’s storyline is inspired by a forgotten piece of Australia History. Chris O’Dowd is utterly magnificent and the four band members are all really well brought to life, with Jessica Mauboy proving she has acting chops to go along with her singing ones. A rousing and well made tale.
  • The King is Dead (2012), Rolf de Heer – Man this is a dark film. Reminds me of a British era Hitchcock thriller… but you know, made 80 years later in Adelaide. A very suburban nightmare, a young couple buy a home next to the neighbours from hell. In what follows they attempt, not always successfully, to do what most would only ever think in order to solve the problem.
  • Ted (2012), Seth McFarlane – It is turning out to be a good year for comedy. This is a simple narrative, delivered through a firecracker script. Crass, extremely so at times, but even those parts make you laugh because of the charm with which it is all brought to life. The character of Ted looks phenomenal, he is a remarkable technical achievement. Jeff Winger in a smarmy supporting role and a wonderful teddy bear vs Mark Wahlberg fight scene round out the awesomeness.
  • The Campaign (2012), Jay Roach – This is pretty standard Will Ferrell fare. I’m a fan of his and this got me to laugh a fair bit. Despite being concerned with politics, there is nothing particularly cutting here. It’s all standard sex and Will Ferrell being bitten by a rattle snake jokes (the latter I found hilarious for some reason). Despite a short running time, it lags toward the end. If you have seen any Will Ferrell film, you will probably know what to expect with this.
  • Bernie (2011), Richard Linklater – I haven’t seen a film like this all year. Actually I don’t think I’ve ever seen a film like this. Tale of an assistant undertaker in a small town who befriends a widow and what happens when he feels increasingly imprisoned by her. Jack Black is in career best form with an awards-worthy turn. Matthew McConaughey and Shirley MacLaine offer sterling support. The true genius here is the usually tired mockumentary being reinvigorated by using real townsfolk. Their raw, real interviews add a real layer of depth to this darkly comic film which leaves you thinking long after it has finished. Make sure you stay for the credits.
  • Community: Season 1 (2009), Dan Harmon – I’ve generally avoided TV comedy. But this is a fantastic, clever show. A brilliant cast of comedy characters and scripting that gets more consistently hilarious as the season wears on. Some side splitting moments – Troy and Abed’s Spanish rap for example. Abed’s constant stream of self knowing pop-culture references also help to make this extremely fun viewing.
  • The Bourne Identity (2001), Doug Liman – Damon’s man who has lost his identity really made for a very different action hero. Cool, quick and realistic hand to hand combat scenes are fantastic to watch. The emotional and psychological depth that is here is a real point of difference to standard action fare.

Not Worth Watching:

Absolutely Nothing. A good month then.

If you only have time to watch one Bernie

Avoid at all costs Nothing – go and see it all.

Trailer for your Weekend: Cloud Atlas

Cover of "Cloud Atlas"

The cover of the film’s extremely popular source Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

 

 

I have not read the book Cloud Atlas, but from all reports it is a sprawling epic, challenging book. One of those unfilmable books that eventually get turned into a film. With the film being co-directed by the Wachowski brothers, and Tom Tyker we are in for something pretty strange and quite possibly utterly brilliant. But really who knows how it will turn out. Could be Tree of Life level brilliance or Love level nothingness. But with that huge cast of big names, this is probably one worth checking out when the time comes.