Wednesday, 30 January 2013

An Evening With Mark Duplass

So today I have decided to sit down and watch a marathon of films that star Mark Duplass or have been directed by him and his brother. This post will be updated throughout the day as I have seen each film and written a short review.

So I started with Baghead which was directed by Mark Duplass and his brother Jay. The story is about four struggling actors who retreat to a cabin to write a screenplay. One of the ideas is about a serial killer who wears a bag on his face. Trouble starts when the script becomes real life and the group find themselves being stalked by Baghead. The style of the Duplass brothers is the most interesting quality of the film, it feels like a found footage film with the amount of shaky camera shots and quick zooms, this adds to the scariness but we never forget who are the filmmakers of this piece. I enjoyed the film and I liked its take on the horror genre,a  genre I am not particularly a fan of. The only problem was that it was too obvious where the storyline was heading which took away some of the scares but not all of them. It was a pretty good film to start my evening but nothing really special, I am giving Baghead a rating of 3/5.

The Puffy Chair
This is more like the Duplass brothers we now know . Though it may not be that apparent at first with Mark Duplass not being as likable a person like some of the characters we have seen him play. The film is about Josh (Duplass) and his girlfriend Emily who go on a road trip to pick up a puffy chair for Josh's dad's birthday. On the way they pick up Josh's brother Rhett and the three of them end up going on a life changing journey about love and relationships. The film looks like a documentary with not a lot of shaky cam and not a lot of change in the captured image as to the one we see on screen. Thankfully the acting is good enough to pull this off and a lot of the time it feels like a home video. If it wasn't for the editing and soundtrack then you could easily   mistake it for one. Even the problems are very real and it can be very powerful, and then you get those sweet moments that really make the film. You end the film feeling like you have been through a similar journey with the characters and you feel good. Something I love about all the films Mark Duplass is associated with, that is why I am giving The Puffy Chair a rating of 4/5.

Your Sister's Sister
Now you may have already seen me rave about this film, it was actually number 4 on my top 10 films of 2012. Watching it again is just as good even though you know what is going to happen. The idea is so simple yet effective, the plot goes like this 'Iris invites her friend Jack to stay at her family's island getaway after the death of his brother. At their remote cabin, Jack's drunken encounter with Hannah, Iris' sister, kicks off a revealing stretch of days.' The themes are similar to a Duplass brothers directed movie but the director Lynn Shelton makes it her own piece at the final product is something that I fell in love with (twice now). Mark Duplass is the 'nice guy' character again and pulls it off... again and this one of the reasons I love seeing him on film. I also believe this to be one of Emily Blunt's best performances as she just feels so real in this, one of the reasons she is one of my favourite actresses. The film is very interesting and will leave a lot to talk about once the credits start rolling. It can be little slow in places but over all this is a really lovely film which I am rating a 4.5/5.

Safety Not Guaranteed
I LOVE THIS FILM. You may have already seen it at number 2 on my top 10 films of 2012, this movie is awesome. Everything about it is perfect and it is the best feel good film out of all the films I have seen today. I doubt I will ever get tired of this film. Mark Duplass's best performance and his character is the one I most want to be friends with out of his work. The imagery, the soundtrack, the incredible story, I love it all. If you don't know already Safety Not Guaranteed's plot goes like this; Three magazine employees head out on an assignment to interview a guy who placed a classified ad seeking a companion for time travel. kIt really is such a great film and I recommend everyone should watch it, I haven't met someone who doesn't like it yet. I am giving Safety Not Guaranteed a big fat juicy rating of 5/5.

Thank you for joining me on my Mark Duplass movie marathon. Other works of his I have seen at a different time include Jeff Who Lives At Home and Hump Day, both of which are great and I recommend.

What do you think of my reviews, do you agree with them? Are you a massive fan of Mark Duplass or is he overrated? Please comment below.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Django Unchained

Revenge isn't clean but it sure does look and sound good. Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained came out in the UK at the weekend and I have finally watched it after the agonising wait, during which it got great reviews from the its release in the USA. I am a big fan of Tarantino, everything he does looks amazing and the man writes dialogue that is so intelligent and witty, it is out of this world. Django Unchained is not an exception in his great line of work and may just be one of his films since Pulp Fiction.

Once you get into Django Unchained you are in for a ride, a very long ride. But it will be worth it. The plot goes like this 'Former dentist, Dr. King Schultz, buys the freedom of a slave, Django, and trains him with the intent to make him his deputy bounty hunter. Instead, he is led to the site of Django's wife who is under the hands of Calvin Candie, a ruthless plantation owner.' It's a crazy film that won't be for everyone but if you are a fan of Tarantino then, like me you will come out of the cinema a very happy person. The film is full of great moments, my particular favourite being a scene where members of the KKK are moaning about the masks they have to wear, the scene is comedy gold.

After a few small roles over the last few years it feels good to see Jamie Foxx back and being in the main role as Django and doing a mighty fine job of it as well may I add. Other additions to the cast include Christoph Waltz who is just as good as he was in Inglorious Basterds maybe even better. Leonardo DiCaprio plays the evil plantation owner and he plays evil so well and still manages to make you laugh along the way, he surely is one of the best actors of our generation and Tarantino's dialogue just helps to make this performance extra special. Kerry Washington puts on her best performance of her career as Django's wife, whilst Samuel L Jackson is no longer that cool dude you want to be friends with, this time he just plain evil and also gives off an incredible performance. The only exception of great performances is Quentin Tarantino's cameo, usually I don't mind his place in his films but this time it didn't seem right. Apart from that though it is a pretty amazing cast! The first half of the film does seem as if it belongs to Christoph Waltz, with Jamie Foxx playing second fiddle but by the second act you will know why this film is called Django Unchained!

Be warned this film is very violent, but you probably already knew that. Tarantino does not hold back in trying to show us how bad it was for black people during this era in the United States. This may be controversial but it sure does help make you feel for the characters in this brutal world that once was ours. In some scenes it literally looks as if it is raining blood with the amount spilt on camera. I am usually good with violence on film but even I had to avert my eyes in places, especially in scene which contained 'mandingo fighting'.

The film looks great and Tarantino proves that he is not playing safe when it comes to working the camera. The camera moves around the place in ways that are rarely seen on film anymore, he isn't afraid to experiment and the film gives off the fun pulpy style that the rest of Tarantino's work has. The guy pulls of several crash zooms that are just really enjoyable to watch. 

One of my favourite things about this film though was the soundtrack. It was different and all over the place but it worked! Tarantino really knows how to pick the right songs for his work, I doubt anyone else could fit a 2Pac song into Western/Southern movie. It makes the whole experience a lot more enjoyable and I found myself smiling away at the back of the screening.

Another thing that made me smile was the dialogue. Yet again Tarantino has a his way with words and creates some brilliant speeches and one liners that are interesting and funny at the same time. Thank god he was able to casta ctors who were able to get the timings perfectly and create some really great moments in the film.

There are not many flaws in this film apart from the cameo from Tarantino himself. If I was to be picky I would say that the film went a bit 'Peter Jackson' at the end and had a few too many places where the movie could end. But apart from that I loved this film! That is why I am rating Django Unchained, 5/5.

What did you think of Django Unchained? Please comment below.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Quick Reviews #1

Recently I have been finding it harder to get reviews out to you because of time constraints and the recent workload that \i have had to have been working on. Therefore I though that every now and then when I can't write a large review for film, instead I could do several short reviews. So today that is what I have done, I put together a short review for the films I have seen over the last few weeks. This ISN'T how I am going to be doing all my reviews from now on, but only when I don't have enough time to compile a large one for you! So please read and enjoy:

Life of Pi
Definitely one of the most visually stunning films I have seen in a while. Life of Pi is a film about an extraordinary journey of a young boy, Pi, and survival at sea with fully frown Tiger named Richard Parker. The film really is a triumph of film making and I found myself at many points wondering 'how would they have filmed that!' The tiger alone is a magnificent creation of live footage, animation, puppeteering  and motion capture. The story is very powerful and is held together by the wonderful performance from Suraj Sharma as Pi. The film has been nominated for 11 Oscars and for once I can see why, I have no doubt that they will not go home empty handed. There is little that isn't great about Life of Pi, some people do just see it as a boy and a tiger in a boat for an hour and half but I never felt like there was a dull moment in this film. The ending however is some what a bit of a let down when you finish the incredible journey but does make sense in the long run. There are few obvious looking CGI moments but they do not take you out of the film. Life of Pi is a masterpiece in film making and I am giving it a rating of 4/5.

Being John Malkovich
After falling in love with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind I decided to write an essay on screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, whilst doing this I watched one of the previous films he had written, that being; Being John Malkovich. Yet another weird and wacky film from an incredible screenwriter, this film is definitely one of his most bizarre works and just like Gondry was a good match for Eternal Sunshine, Spike Jonze is the perfect match for this film. I love the characters in all of Kaufman's work and these are his most interesting as they all have massive flaws that make them almost unlovable. There isn't really hero and a villain in this piece and that I like very much. John Cuzack is almost unrecognisable in the main role and is by far his best performance ever. The film goes to some strange places and you will never know what is going to happen yet, it really was one of the most creative films I have seen and already I am trying to find time to see it again. A truly excellent film and one that I am giving a rating of 5/5.

The Dictator
Although Borat and Bruno were not examples of great filmmaking they were however great fun and very funny. The Dicatator unfortunately is neither of these things. Sacha Bara Cohen creates yet another interesting comic character that is out to offend as many people as possible, this time he takes a more Hollywood route by actually giving the film a scripted story, something I think let the film down. I was hoping for more funny but there weren't that many laughs that had been seen outside of the trailer and the whole thing felt very forced and slapstick, not anything new which I thought Borat and Bruno brought to the plate. The film was also too long and was very obvious as to where it was going. Unfortunately not good enough, therefore I am giving The Dictator a rating of 2/5.

Beasts of the Southern Wild
This film was a funny one for me, on one hand it looked amazing, had a great ensemble of performances and touching story. On the other hand though, I didn't really get some of the more mystical elements of the world that the film was set in. Especially the 'beasts' that are featured in the film which sometimes didn't always make sense as to what their point in the film was apart from be symbolical. I can see why this film has been nominated for many Oscars but I personally have seen better films in the field that I feel deserve the accolade more then Beasts of the Southern Wild. The film was quite hard to follow at times but the story was heartfelt but I think I may have gone into the cinema with my expectations too high, I came out thinking I had seen better indie films in the last year, so therefore I am giving Beasts of the Southern Wild a rating of 3/5.

Rust and Bone
Now here is a film that I believe has been snubbed by the Oscars this year! How is this film not in the best foreign film category, this is Oscar bait! The story of a single father making a living for his child by street fighting and body guarding who falls in love with a whale trainer who ends up having her legs amputated in accident during one of her Shamu type shows. The performances are great and the cinematography is excellent, the story is very interesting. It may not have been the best movie ever made about disability and love but I believe it deserved a place on the Oscars nomination list. I enjoyed Rust and Bone very much and I believe it went to some dark places that Hollywood is yet to feel comfortable with. Some very interesting stuff going on here, I am giving Rust and Bone a rating of 4/5.

Silver Linings Playbook
Now here is a film I wouldn't have thought would make an Oscar nominated film, not because it isn't good but because it is mainly a romcom, a very good romcom! I guess Jennifer Lawrence needed a Oscar for something considering she has been so good in everything she has been in! Bradley Cooper also gives his best performance yet as mentally ill Pat. Robert De Niro is finally back on form here as well and gives one of his best performances in ages! The film is a real feel good and very funny, definitely romcom that both sexes will like and maybe one you can watch over and over again. I can't really flaw this film, all I can say is that it doesn't quite compare with some of the other romcoms out there but it sure does a good job. I am rating Silver Linings Playbook 4/5.

What did you think of these films? Let me know by commenting below!

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Review of 2012

Happy new year people! Shall we start the year with my review of the last one? 2012, what a year it was! My top ten films list may just be the hardest I have had to compile! Other lists include my top 5 TV shows of the year and my top 3 albums of the year. So please take a look at my post and I hope you enjoy my review of an outstanding year of film! Starting with my top ten films of 2012:

10. Liberal Arts
Funny, charming and very sweet. One of the films I saw at Sundance London and it sure did leave an impression. Check out my review of this film and the festival here: Sundance London

9. Dredd 3D
The biggest surprise of the year. I saw this film just to pass away time one day whilst waiting for my phone to be repaired. I went in with low expectations but came out very happy! It was super cool and featured some of the best 3D I have seen. Read my full review here: Dredd 3D

8. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
I didn't realise how much I missed Middle Earth until I saw the first part of The Hobbit earlier last month. A very good film but unfortunately the higher frame rate let it down a bit, making it only 8th in my top 10. I wonder if the second part will make into my list for 2013? Read my full review here: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

7. Looper
The most original sci-fi film of the year! Featuring some excellent performances and a very smart storyline that changed the way I felt about each character all the time. An example of brilliant film making. Read my full review here: Looper

6. The Hunger Games
Being a massive fan of the book, I was extremely happy at how faithful the adaption was on the big screen. An excellent approach to a film that could have been a disaster. A standout performance from Jennifer Lawrence and top notch direction from Gary Ross. Although I am worried for the sequels, at least this film was awesome! Read my full review here: The Hunger Games

5. Skyfall
The best Bond film yet! An excellent way to celebrate 007's 50th anniversary! I couldn't have asked for anything more from Skyfall! Read my full review here: Skyfall

4. Your Sister's Sister
The first of two films starring Mark Duplass in my top 10 list. The guy sure knows how to play lovable losers. I am a sucker for new takes on the romance genre and this film is one of them. A great film with some great performances from all 3 leads. If you haven't seen it, check it out!

3. The Dark Knight Rises

Not as good as The Dark Knight, but Christopher Nolans final Batman film was nothing less then spectacular! A great finale to one of the best trilogies we have seen. I feel sorry for whoever has to take on the next Batman film. Read my full review here: The Dark Knight Rises

2. Safety Not Guaranteed
Mark Duplass's second film in my list and second on my list! Another film I saw at Sundance London and what a treat it was! An awesome and heartfelt film that every time I've watched it has never failed to put a smile on my face. A well deserved second place! Read my review of the film and the festival here: Sundance London

1. The Avengers
The ultimate superhero film! Never before have I been so happy and excited in the cinema and the feeling has not declined every time I have seen it! The ultimate geek feast for your eyes! I could not have wished for anything more. The best film of the year and one of my favourites ever! Read my full review here: The Avengers

Some of you may be surprised to see that The Amazing Spider-Man did not make the list considering I am a giant fan of the character. Although I did not think it was a terrible film, I was however disappointed with it. A good film, but not the best of the year. There were loads of films that could have made the top 10 in 2012. It was such a good year for films and lets hope 2013 can continue the trend!

2012 wasn't just a good year for film, it was also a great year for TV. Here are my top 5 TV shows of the year:

5. Doctor Who Series 7
Matt Smith continues his brilliant run as The Doctor. The latest season shows off why, in my opinion, he is the best man yet to play the time lord. Not every episode was amazing but the majority of them were awesome. I look forward to the second half of the season coming later this year.

4. Sherlock Series 2
The first season was good, but the second was on another level! Sherlock proved Benedict Cumberpatch and Martin Freeman were top class actors, and look where it's got them now. We're going to have to wait a little while for the third series as they are only just about to film the episodes this month. I for one can't wait!

3. Game of Thrones Season 2
Game of Thrones is Lord of the Rings but the adult version. This show brings the fantasy genre to a new level. Truly is one of the best shows on TV and it has some adorable looking dragons. Such an epic TV show!

2. The Walking Dead Season 3
After some people disliked the second season (not me), the creators really tried their hardest to make the third season much better. And their hard work really paid off. Season 3 has created some of the best TV moments I have ever seen and has even reduced me to tears in parts. The Walking Dead is something special indeed.

1. Breaking Bad Season 5
I have never been so hooked on a TV show in my life! This show is the reason that posts have been slow for the last few months on the blog! Well that and University life! Breaking Bad is like nothing I have ever seen before, the story lines are great and the characters are awesome! Such a clever and truly incredible TV series and the latest season has been no exception. I can't wait to see the final 8 episodes coming this summer. I highly recommend!

Now on to my favourite music albums of the year:

3. The Killers - Battle Born
Although it wasn't everything I had hoped for from my favourite band, it still had some great tunes!

2. Mystery Jets - Radlands
The Mystery Jets change their tune a bit in their latest album, which has a very American feel to it. Maybe because it was produced over there! Very catchy!

1. The Vaccines - Coming of Age
The Vaccines take first place for a second year in a row! Both the band's albums have been great, I hope they will only get better!

Well that concludes my review of 2012, I hope you enjoyed it just as much as I did! 

Did you enjoy 2012? Do you agree with my lists? Are you looking forward to 2013? Feel free to comment and share with me your top films of year!

Thanks for reading! Happy New Year!