D4D

In the firing squad when the revolution comes

Archive for the category “Cinema”

Logan

As expected (and hoped-for), Logan turned out to be bloody good – and succeeded in all the aims that the writers and director had gone for.

It’s a superhero/comic-book film that doesn’t work to the normal stereotypes. Most importantly, it’s one where you don’t need to have seen any of the other X-Men or Wolverine films before seeing Logan. It’s more a stand-alone film that just happens to occupy the same space as some of those movies.

In many ways it’s actually more of a Western than a superhero film, and that’s no bad thing in my book.  They make a lot of connections with Shane, but it could just as easily have been Unforgiven. There’s a kind of bitterness to the whole film, both an anger at getting old, and an acknowledgement that it’s happened – and also a huge sadness about it.

In the case of both of the major characters, age is hitting the things they’re most valued by – Charles Xavier, always valued for his intelligence/genius, is suffering from dementia (among other things), and Logan’s regenerative ability is fading, leaving him sore, scarred, and hurting in ways he’s never had to get used to.

The next generation is ably served by Laura (AKA X-23), played by Dafne Keen, who is frankly awesome. She doesn’t speak for the greater part of the film, but the emotion and feeling she conveys in a glare and an eyebrow is nothing short of stunning.

Obviously, if you hate superhero and comic-book films, Logan won’t change your opinion.  If you’re open to them, it’s one that is well worth seeing.

Wicking Away

So yes, last night I went to see John Wick Chapter 2 at the cinema. If nothing else, it amused me that they were putting on the preview release of this on Valentine’s Day, as it’s just about the absolute antithesis of a romantic film.

I really liked the first John Wick film, which was a bit of a sneak hit that people hadn’t really been expecting.  It’s exceptionally violent – as you’d kind of expect from the basic premise of “a retired killer comes back to avenge the death of those important to him” – but also highly stylised and stylish, with stuff shown in ways that hadn’t really been done before.  It was also helped by the fact that the directors ( Chad Stahelski and David Leitch ) are both ex-stuntmen, who know what works and what looks good. They brought that experience and energy to the original, and continue to do so for the second chapter.  It also made a decent amount of money ($86m from a $20m budget) so a sequel was always likely to happen.

Wick 2 is written and directed by the same primary people (although no David Leitch this time) and managed to keep all the same primary cast, while also adding in some pretty high-powered names along the way.

Happily, it is just as insane and violent as its predecessor – if you’re not into that type of film, just don’t even contemplate going. I have no idea how it got away with being a 15 certificate, but it did, so there we go.

Again, it’s also hyper-stylised, with an individual style and look, as well as building up an ample mythology that will (I suspect) take it into a third (and probably fourth) film with ease. It also looks like it’ll do better than the original – at the time of writing it’s already made $44m on a $40m budget, and that’s before the UK release. Indeed, it only came out in the US on 30th January, so it’s had two weeks there, and made its money back already. Not bad going.

So yeah, worth seeing, assuming you like the same sort of ridiculous rubbish as I appear to…

 

Attention Span

Yesterday, there was a bundle of news coverage about Apple’s supposedly-upcoming “Cinema Mode” for iPhones and iPads as part of the next iOS release.

This will (again, supposedly) allow people in cinemas – and other darkened environments, one assumes – to check their phones without disturbing those around them, mainly through use of a ‘dark’ colour-scheme, so the display doesn’t glow like a lighthouse.

In fairness, this annoys me on a regular basis at the cinema – there’s always some fuckknuckle who wants to check stuff while ‘watching’ a film, leaving their phone’s volume up, or some other piece of vacuous self-centred idiocy. But really, a phone mode to cater for that?

It irritates me that so many people now seem to be utterly incapable of sitting for a couple of hours and watching a film. There’ve been a couple of films I’ve seen recently where it seemed like everyone else was eating popcorn (or sweets, or both) from rustling paper bags throughout the film, and/or then sodding off out to the toilet and whatever else.

As has been noted before, I really don’t understand people. I don’t get why someone would pay to see a film, spend even more on food and drink, then either not be able to sit through the film without breaks, or without checking their phones. If you’re going to do all that, why not wait til it comes out on disc/download/TV and watch at home, where you can pause, rewind etc., and not worry about missing bits while you go to drain your microscopic bladder?

Mind you, I also don’t understand why cinemas insist on putting all their food/refreshments in noisy paper bags. Surely there must be another option by now? A fabric version or similar? Or larger bags/tubs that allow hands in and out without touching the sides?

Birthday Weekend – Aliens

For the birthday weekend, once I’d done Le Manoir on Saturday, and Dinner for lunch on Sunday, it was time to make my way down to the Royal Albert Hall, which was showing Aliens on a big screen, accompanied by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra performing the soundtrack.

Aliens is one of my favourite films, and one I’ve seen far more times than I’d care to admit – both the original release and the Director’s Cut / Special Edition. But I hadn’t seen it on a big screen for a proper cinema-style presentation, and definitely never with a live soundtrack!

And it was great. I’d wondered how they’d do soundtrack/music from the orchestra while keeping the dialogue and other sound-effects, and there’s obviously been a fair amount of work involved in doing this. I assume that the music soundtrack is on a different channel (or whatever) from the other bits of audio, so it’s more a case of ‘not playing’ one track, but I don’t know.

Regardless, hearing the music live enabled me to notice bits I hadn’t appreciated before – subtle in the recorded version, obvious live – such as the drum roll that’s used for all the more militaristic scenes, and other small thematic pieces along the way.

I thoroughly enjoyed the entire thing – well, except for the seats, which were some of the most uncomfortable in Christendom – and now really want to see other films show in the same way. It’s bloody brilliant.

Swiss Army Man

Last night, I went to see Swiss Army Man – and it’s definitely the strangest film I’ve seen in a long time. I’m glad I got to see it, though.

The first five minutes tells you pretty much everything you need to know – Hank (Paul Dano) is a man alone on a deserted island, trying to commit suicide, and a corpse (Manny, played by Daniel Radcliffe) washes up on the beach. The corpse is loudly deflating, which disturbs his final moments, until he realises that he can use this farting corpse as an escape from the island, and rides him like a jet-ski out to sea.

And that’s just the start.

It’s worth pointing out that if you’re easily offended, just don’t even contemplate seeing this film.

But it’s not just gross-out fart jokes and weird stuff with a corpse. That would be too simple. There’s a *lot* more to this film. It’s strangely emotional, and says quite a bit about modern manners and squeamishness as well as about solitude, loneliness, and how people are.

In truth, I came out wondering what the hell I’d just seen – but also glad I’d seen it.  Even having seen as many films as I have, I really have no valid reference points for describing what it’s like.  And that’s an even harder task when also not giving anything away about the film.

I liked it, but I didn’t. I could see it again, and I’d come out just as confused as I currently am about it. There’s a lot of good stuff, and certain images will definitely last longer than they perhaps should.

I think it’s too much to call it ‘thought-provoking’, but it’s also not dumb, and there is stuff that keeps echoing back afterwards.

In short, I just don’t know about this film. I’m hard-pressed to recommend it, because it’s just *so* odd. But it’s also not bad, and if it weren’t so odd I’d say yes, go and see it.

A very Marmite “love it or hate it” film, I think.

Ridiculously Organised

So far, this year has been pretty non-stop with travel, visits, concerts and idiot day-trips (mainly to see concerts) and I’ve kept on saying that I must calm things down a bit, build in some time for myself and so on.

And I’m trying to, I really am.

But then cool stuff comes up that I want to go to – which means I now have plans all the way through this year. Not every weekend, or anything similar – but there’s already stuff planned right the way through to December.

The latest one, last night, was finding out that the Royal Albert Hall is doing a showing of Aliens – with the soundtrack performed by a full orchestra, as a celebration of the 30th anniversary of its release.  Even more fortuitously, it’s on the weekend of my birthday. Oh, I am so there.

And so yes, tickets are booked for it. I’d already got stuff booked in for December as well, so as it turns out, November was the only month this year without something already booked in.

Now my main challenge will be to not book up the rest of the year, and suddenly realise I’ve had ridiculously few ‘downtime’ weekends. Again.

CGI

Over on Twitter this morning, I saw this image, a behind-the-scenes photo from Pirates of the Caribbean, showing the actors in their motion-capture suits, that allows CGI stuff to be added afterwards and move the same way the actor does.

Pirates of the CaribbeanNow what interested me the most was that the entire outfit – clothing etc. – was also all applied in CGI. And that had never actually occurred to me. I got that the various faces/tentacles/prosthetics were applied by CGI, but for some reason I’d never clicked that the clothing was all computer-generated as well.

Ain’t progress grand?

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