Saturday, 29 June 2013

[MINI MOVIE REVIEWS] - June 2013


Leonardo DiCaprio in Great Gatsby with cocktail glass
My problems with The Great Gatsby are mostly centred around the visual style, which feels anachronistic and misplaced. Ofcourse, the obvious answer is, "that's Luhrmann's style, what do you expect?" but the flashing lights, campy aesthetics and contemporary music completely detract away from what is a tragic love story. Leonardo DiCaprio, as usual, is fantastic and I completely bought into his performance but it felt like he was in an entirely different film at times. The rest of the cast are like an over-eager bunch of amateurs putting on a village play after they've raided their mother's make-up stash. Story-wise, there just isn't sufficient depth and I came out of the film feeling cold. Mulligan's doe-eyed character, Daisy Buchanan, was painted as a bitchy villain when she's far more sympathetic in the novel. In the end, Luhrmann shoots himself in the foot by focusing upon superficial elements


Michael Douglas holding Matt Damon's hand in Behind the Candelabra
When it comes to movies, I'll watch anything but Steven Soderbergh's Liberace biopic really tested my boundaries! I went into the film blind, only knowing that Michael Douglas and Matt Damon play lovers and that Douglas' portrayal of the famously-flamboyant pianist was getting a lot of buzz. First off - the performances are staggering, brave and a breath of fresh air. Mark my words, you have never seen Douglas and Damon like this before. The narrative itself drags sometimes with less interesting parts of Liberace's life slowing the pace. I was also slightly frustrated by Soderbergh's directorial choices. The man is obsessed with deep focus and strange, low angle camera shots! Despite these niggling criticisms, the performances save the day, creating an irresistibly engaging and often quite moving, film. Oh and look out for Robb Lowe as a seedy, money-grabbing Hollywood plastic surgeon!

Man of Steel's expository sequence on Krypton is dazzling with immersive CGI, intriguing set designs and exciting action. If the rest of the film had carried on in this vein, I'd be heralding it as one of the greatest comic book adaptations of all time. However, when we crash-land upon Earth, the story starts to become standard blockbuster fare. Zack Snyder's Superman reincarnation is at its strongest when exploring Clark Kent's true origin through a multitude of flashbacks. As Superman, Henry Cavill is everything he needs to be. I was most impressed by Michael Shannon though, who makes for a nightmarish, physically intimidating Zod. Sadly though, the action just isn't very exciting. Because Zod and Superman are pretty much indestructible, there's very little tension as they smash their way through a whole city. These men can seemingly withstand any level of beating and it becomes tiresome. Man of Steel is a satisfying summer blockbuster but it could've been so much more.


Now here's a film that ended up being far better than I expected. The Internship see's Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn, two archaic, behind-the-times salesman, compete with a bunch of nerdy upstarts and tech-geeks for a highly coveted job with Google. If you buy into the premise and let yourself have fun, The Internship will deliver the goods. Compared to some of Vince Vaughn's previous disappointing efforts (The Watch, Couple's Retreat) this film actually has some memorable, witty moments and doesn't simply rely upon lewd physical humour or crass language. I laughed out loud more times than I can remember and I'm quite a hard person to please! Some have criticised the film for being a two-hour, self-congratulating marketing campaign for Google. Perhaps those people are onto something because as soon as I got home I Googled (what else am I gonna use?) around for one of those sweet propeller hats (no luck though, if you know where to get one, drop me an email!)

THE ICEMAN

Michael Shannon looking at himself in the mirror in The Iceman


And lastly, the best film I saw in June - Michael Shannon's The Iceman. This is the astonishing, true story of Richard Kuklinski, a young family man who moonlighted as a hitman for notorious mob bosses throughout the 70's and 80's. He successfully kept his double-life a secret from his wife and young daughters until he was finally arrested in a major sting operation in 1986. This film is all about Mr Shannon as he delivers an acting masterclass. He easily switches from brooding, cold serial killer to doting father and husband. It's the ultimate story of a chameleon. Shannon is accompanied by other wonderful actors, from the usual mob faces like Ray Liotta and John Ventimiglia to a moustache-toting, greasy-haired David Schwimmer (!!) and Captain America himself, Chris Evans who also has a flair for the hitman game. The Iceman is overall, a very well-told, well-made movie that I'd highly recommend to crime fans. It's no Goodfellas or The Departed but it's still a quality piece of gritty cinema.




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