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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

In Time

To make up for all my lateness recently, here's my review of In Time, which opens world wide this Friday. 

From Channel24

What it's about

In a future where people only age up until they turn 25, at which point they have to work for more time if they want to live for longer than the next year, Will Salas, an ordinary working-class stiff, suddenly finds himself suspected of murder and on the run from "The Timekeepers" (the primary law enforcement of the period) before he is presented with an opportunity to redress the balance between the immortal "haves" and the "day to day living" have-nots. 

What we thought

Science fiction at its best is a genre of allegory. By placing its stories on distant planets and far flung futures or through its use of impossible sciences and technology, science fiction uses its fantasies to comment on our own world and our own lives. For all of its numerous faults, the best thing about In Time is that it fully embraces this idea.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Fright Night (2011)

My second review from Channel24 this week of a film that I really, really like.

Also, I will be starting to use a far less clunky star-rating graphic, which should hopefully make the ratings themselves far clearer. Hopefully, I will get round to bringing all my old reviews in line as well.

These new graphics come courtesy of my good friend Chaim Ehrlich so you have him to thank for making this blog just that much more user friendly. Thanks again, Chaim!

What it's about: 

A remake of the 1985 horror-comedy cult classic in which a teenager tries to convince his friends and family that his next door neighbour is actually a vampire.

What we thought:

Fright Night may be yet another in a long line of cynical attempts to cash in on beloved horror films from other countries (The Ring, Let The Right One In) or Hollywood's own past (take your pick) but this is one remake that actually equals or surpasses the original in every way. Every way, that is, except for one – and it's not what you might expect.

Killer Elite

The first of two films I reviewed for Channel24 this week...

What it's about:

A retired elite special-ops agent (Jason Statham) is called back into action when his friend and mentor (Robert de Niro) is taken captive and the only chance of freeing him is to dispatch the three highly trained assassins responsible for the deaths of the captor's sons.

What we thought:

"Based on a true story". If ever there was a phrase that has no place in front of a Jason Statham movie, that particular stamp of "respectability" must surely be it. Statham's stock in trade is over the top, hyper-real action films that allow him to show off his considerable charms and physical prowess without allowing silly things like real-world physics or believability to get in his way. Killer Elite, however, has the dreaded "based on a true story" emblazoned all over its trailers, movie posters and advertising – to say nothing of the beginning of the film itself – and is pretty much doomed from the start.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Roundup of New Films Released over (like most of) October 2011

I have a couple more Channel24 reviews to post and I'll get to them shortly but here's a roundup of a bunch of films that I haven't gotten to over this month. I should be back on a regular schedule this week but until then, here's some of the films that were released this month. And one that wasn't!

Before getting onto films that were actually released this month, here's one that was oh so wisely pulled from the schedule at the last minute. Hopefully that will be it for Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star (picture on the left is, in fact, not the poster, but I think it represents the film more faithfully) but just in case some idiot does decide to release it on DVD or show it on TV, consider this an official warning to stay the hell away from it. It's clearly the worst film of the year and I doubt that's going to change any time over the last few months of 2011. Simply put, this "comedy" about a young schmuck who finds out that his redneck parents were huge porn stars in the '70s and decides to try and follow in their footsteps, is essentially Boogie Nights as reimagined by a bunch of subhuman man-children with the collected IQ of 3 and all the sense of humour of - well, a worse-than-usual Adam Sandler film. Yup, this grotesque abomination was co-written and produced by Sandler and stars Nick Swarsdon, a man so cosmically unfunny as to make Adam Sandler look like George Carlin. It's just atrocious.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Johnny English Reborn

I'm a bit behind in terms of films reviews but here's my latest review from Channel24. Coming soon, as well, are some capsule reviews of the last couple of weeks at the cinema.

What it's about:

Johnny English (played by Rowan Atkinson) is back – and this time the unlikely spy has to stop a group of assassins from assassinating the Chinese premier.

What we thought:

Johnny English Reborn is total rubbish. This, I'm sure, will come as a shock to absolutely no one – certainly not those of us who sat through the first film way back in 2003. And, yet, when you get right down to it, the Johnny English films' severe deficiency in the quality department really shouldn't be the given that it is always assumed to be. Not only do both films have solid supporting casts, they also have in Rowan Atkinson one of Britain's greatest comedic talents. Even putting aside Mr Bean, Atkinson has proven in Blackadder and numerous stand-up and sketch-comedy acts that he is a brilliant comedic master, equally adept at verbal and physical comedy.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Rolling Stones - Some Girls Live In Texas

While seemingly the entirety of Johannesburg's population under the age of 35 were attending Coldplay's massive one-night-only stadium concert, I found myself enjoying a rather different concert experience. Cine 2 at Sandton City's multiplex is normally host to press screenings that Ster Kinekor hold for their 3D releases but last night that by now very familiar - and, it has to be said, rather nice - cinema offered up something a whole lot more interesting than a pointless stereoscopic conversion of The Lion King. I don't want to speak ill of what I'm sure was a great concert-going experience for Coldplay fans (personally, I could take them or leave them) but I can't imagine it being more electrifying than this woefully under-attended showing of a previously unreleased concert film that caught The World's Greatest Rock and Roll Band in one of their most interesting, not to say best, creative periods. Sadly, this was only one of a small handful of showings for this great film so its unlikely that South African audiences will get another chance to catch it on the big screen (though, Americans, at least, will still have that chance come 18 October) but it is due for a DVD/ Blu-Ray release towards the end of the year so consider this an advance review of a set that is bound to be a must-own for all dyed-in-the-wool rock and roll fans.                

Also published on Artslink

It's hard to believe what a difference 6 years makes. The previous archive Stones live release, Ladies and Gentlemen: The Rolling Stones captured a period in the Rolling Stones' history when they were sitting right on the top of the world, living up to their self-appointed - but well-earned - label as the Greatest Rock and Roll Band in the World. Touring their magnum opus, Exile on Main Street, Ladies and Gentlemen includes everything you could want from a rock and roll show at the time: great songs, virtuoso musicianship and, lets be honest, a certain level of pompous, self-important seriousness that flourished in the heyday of prog-rock and jam bands.

Cut to 1978 and things are rather different. The intervening years between '72 and '78 saw The Stones - as well as the genre they represented - undergo some fairly serious, tumultuous changes. As Keith Richards became more and more drug-addled, the Stones' critical standing was hurt by a string of albums that, though perfectly good on their own terms, were a serious step down from the giddy heights that the band consistently reached between 1968 and 1972. Meanwhile, The Stones' stage shows more and more captured the state of rock and roll at the time: overblown, fatuous and musically irrelevant.

Enter the punks.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Roundup of New Films Released 30 September 2011

Another seriously underwhelming week at the cinema...

I have no earthly idea how Inside Out managed to get a theatrical release, when so many vastly superior and more obviously cinematic films go straight to DVD (especially if the film in question comes from the UK, oddly enough). It's not that it's a truly awful film, it's just so drearily by-the-numbers that there really is no need for it to exist at all. The plot, about an ex-con (played surprisingly competently by wrestler Paul "Triple H" Levesque) trying to go straight after a decade in prison only to get pulled back into his old life by an old friend, has been done to death and there is little in the way of invention, wit or real emotional potency to hold one's attention. It's really not surprising at all that is has been relegated to a small handful of random cinemas throughout the country as it's hard to believe that anyone would go out of their way to pay to watch this on the big screen.