Sunday, May 30, 2010
Another great legend is gone. Dennis Hopper left behind a colorful resumé of films and TV as an actor and as a director. He will no doubt be best remembered for his roles in films like Speed, Easy Rider, True Romance, Apocalypse Now and Blue Velvet.
Personally I'd pick the following four roles of his career as my favorite: the diabolical cop-turned-bomber Howard Payne from Speed ("Pop quiz, hot shot!"), father of Christian Slater's character in True Romance and especially that legendary dialogue between his Clifford Worley and Walken's Sicilian gangster ("Your ancestors are niggers, uh-huh."), the Donald Rumsfeld inspired Kaufman in George A. Romero's magnificent zombie comeback Land Of The Dead and finally as Victor Drazen in the first season of "24".
Dennis Hopper at IMDb
The video below doesn't have the best picture and sound quality, but these performances are legendary and the script was written by someone called Quentin Tarantino. If you haven't seen True Romance, seek it out, now. And skip this video, it contains heavy SPOILERS!
Friday, May 28, 2010
Directed by Oren Moverman
Starring Ben Foster, Woody Harrelson, Samantha Morton, Steve Buscemi, Jena Malone, Eamonn Walker
The Messenger deals with the branch of the US Army that's said to be the hardest one.. the Casualty Notification Team. You can probably appreciate the reason. Foster plays Staff Sergeant Montgomery, a war hero who gets assigned to the unit alongside Harrelson's Captain Stone. As it happens, Montgomery falls for one of his subject's widows (Morton), which is understandably frowned upon.
The subject is a touching one and The Messenger truly is a war film, but just of a different kind. Just as Platoon and Saving Private Ryan made us happy not to have been there on the field of battle, The Messenger deals with human emotion on the home front. It is horrible enough to be damn glad you don't have to be the one delivering the news to the next of kin of these fallen soldiers. As strong as the script of the film is, this effort rests on the shoulders of Foster and Harrelson, two professionals at the top of their game.
The Messenger on voimakas ja tunteikas filmi kahdesta sotilaasta, joiden tehtäväksi on langennut ilmoittaa ihmisille heidän läheistensä kaatuneen sodassa. Nämä tilanteet ovat raskaita katsoa ja elokuva lepääkin vahvasti ja ansioituneesti kahden pääosansa harteilla. The Messenger on sotaelokuva kuten mm. Platoon, mutta eri näkökulmasta.
Directed by Michael Moore
Michael Moore is a controversial figure to say the least. He is of course known for sticking up for the blue collar worker, but also accused of distorting or getting his facts wrong. What you think of the man himself or his movies, is irrelevant because ultimately what matters and is an unquestionable fact is that his heart is in the right place with his quest for the truth behind 9/11, US health care and the outrageous outsourcing of hard workers when the businesses themselves are making HUGE profits.
Capitalism: A Love Story is Moore's look at the finacial breakdown and the people who benefitted from it and of those who were destroyed as a result.. for the latter there are synonyms, the poor and the middle class.
Greed is a powerful motivating factor. There was no need to bring this point across with a documentary. For some people, that is. The every day person is usually blind to the world around them and basically only cares about the day ahead going to a certain nice flow and ease. They don't want to think how the system that's supposed to take care of them has abandoned them years ago, because what could they do? Realistically? Not much. And if they could, they are too busy and tired from their nine-to-five job and family to pick up a sign and join a small demonstration against these money men who keep running to the bank. This is the case in the States, but although we have it better here in Finland, don't for a second think that it couldn't come to that way over here as well. Who's to say that it hasn't started or isn't already.
Kiistellyn dokumentaristi Michael Mooren elokuva maailmanlaajuisen laman alkujuurista ja tutkimus ihmisistä jotka hyötyivät tilanteesta ja heistä jotka menettivät kaiken. Filmi on surullista ja aidosti masentavaa katseltavaa ja oli itse Mooresta sitten epäilevää tai kannustavaa mieltä, niin sydämensä ainakin on oikeassa paikassa, kun mies ryhtyy ristiretkelleen työläisen puolesta.
The beautiful and emotional track from the terrific film, Hellboy II: The Golden Army
Hellboy II: The Golden Army at IMDb
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Directed by Scott Stewart
Starring Paul Bettany, Dennis Quaid, Lucas Black, Tyrese Gibson, Kate Walsh, Kevin Durand, Doug Jones
What a weird film. Legion is a cousin of sorts to the Schwarzenegger wham bam End Of Days 'cause you once more have the religious, age old battle between god and evil, but instead of personal struggle of belief, it's here fought with automatic weapons.
Bettany plays the archangel Michael, who comes down to earth on the eve of the apocalypse to protect a holy child who's supposed to bring salvation to humankind. They take a stand on a remote gas station in the middle of nowhere. Demons and biblical plagues are a plenty and if your cup of tea happens to be supernatural action, Legion just might be for you. In other case, maybe it's better to keep strolling on the selection down at the local video store. Legion is fun in terms of entertainment, but anytime a film dealing with religious beliefs doesn't take ANY kind of stand either way, it's a bit of a disappointment.
Legion on viihdyttävä, mutta ei kovin fiksu toimintaelokuva tuomiopäivän kynnyksellä käytävästä taistelusta hyvän ja pahan välillä. Demoneita ja raamatullisia vitsauksia riittää ja pelkän hyvin toteutetun toiminnan ystävät saattavat saada kicksinsä, mutta Schwarzeneggerin End Of Days-tyyppinen yliluonnollinen vs. konetuliaseet on melko tylsä asetelma, jos mukaan ei ole leivottu edes hitusta kritiikkiä.
Monday, May 17, 2010
Directed by Christian Alvart
Starring Ben Foster, Dennis Quaid, Cam Gigandet, Antje Traue, Cung Le, Norman Reedus
Quality scifi is always welcomed in this house hold. Pandorum uses old recipes, but manages to cook something that feels fresh. There are mixtures of Alien, Red Planet and Event Horizon (E.H. director Anderson was a producer on this) in a setting that sees Foster's Bower waking from his hypersleep to a ship infested with cannibalistic mutants. Their mission originally being to head over to a new Earth-like planet in order to set up a human colony.
This all sounds familiar, I know, but luckily director Alvert is able to create a genuine atmosphere of fear of isolation and for the unknown and makes us fear the most used consept in horror movies once more.. long dark corridors.
Even though the consept itself has been seen many times over it is also thanks to the magnificent cast that this space nightmare pulls it home with high remarks. Especially the always reliable Foster (30 Days of Night, Hostage) is in top form and Quaid handles his own subplot over the character's demons respectively. The suppoting cast sadly remains as just that.
Pandorum on parasta scifiä miesmuistiin. Pimeät, ikuisuuksiin jatkuvat käytävät herättävät taas tehokkaasti ahdistuksen henkiin ja pelko tuntematonta kohtaan, sekä eristäytyneisyyden tunne on rakennettu kohtalaisen onnistuneesti. Parhainta filmissä ovat silti pääkaksikon, Quaidin ja etenkin Fosterin suoritukset. Asetelmassa ei toki ole paljoa alkuperäisyyttä, mutta kuten sitä on jo aiemminkin todettu niin väliäkö tuolla, jos vanhoista aineksista saa loihdittua jotain tuoretta.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Directed by John Hyams
Starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren, Andrei Arlovski, Corey Johnson
This film falls firmly into the "who would've thought?!"-category. By no means is it a work of art, but rather another one of those guilty pleasures.. though that should really not come as a surprise.
Van Damme continues his "comeback" after JCVD with his third installment (fifth all together) of the UniSol-franchise. It's welcomed surprise too because the last time Van Damme played his Luc Deveraux was in 1999 with the horrible piece of shit that was Universal Soldier: The Return which saw him fight an all-powerful super computer. This time it's terrorists who take the former Chernobyl plant as hostage and threaten to blow up an abandoned reactor releasing a new cloud of radiation unless their brothers in arms are released blaah blaah blaah. Who gives a shit, right? We just wanna know if the Muscles from Brussels is still in condition to take on the assignment and luckily he is. He's done a good action film here, but was this worth passing on Stallone's upcoming The Expendables? That remains to be seen.
There's also the obvious question as to how come Lundgren is back, since his character was very very dead at the end of the original film. Quite simple really: they don't give a reason, he just is. His part is only a little one, but the time he spends on screen is fun all the way, including a nice re-match of course. I personally don't follow the wold of the ultimate fighting, so I can't be that excited about "The Pit Bull" Arlovski, but for what it's worth, he's not bad though not anything special either. Director Hyams does a nice job with his action scenes and shows more potential than his director father Peter Hyams (working on this picture as the director of photography) who's probably really seen his best days professionally (2010, Narrow margin).
Van Dammen comeback JCVD:n jälkimainingeissa jatkuu tällä uudella osiolla miehen suosituimpaan leffasarjaan, jossa hänet on viimeksi nähty yli vuosikymmen sitten. Toiminta jyllää ja miehen potku nousee edelleen, joten jos vain sillä on merkitystä niin tästä tuskin kehkeytyy suurta pettymystä, vaikka saagan paras on edelleen Roland "Independence Day" Emmerichin ohjaama alkuperäinen vuodelta '92. Hyvää krapulaviihdettä, jos ei muuta.
Directed by Ricky Gervais & Matthew Robinson
Starring Ricky Gervais, Jennifer Garner, Louis CK, Rob Lowe, Jonah Hill, Tina Fey, Fionnula Flanagan
The Invention Of Lying has a very fresh and clever premise: it takes place in a world where mankind has never learned how to tell a lie and Gervais' character, Mark invents it and he can do pretty much whatever he pleases from that point on. The end result is that the script is clever (call me a pessimist, but I really think that most of us really think horrible shit about others inside our heads like the people in this film who just say them out loud [observe the trailer below]), but mostly not too funny which was after all what they were aiming for.
The film has quality cameos from such professionals as Edward Norton and Philip Seymour Hoffman and there is fun to be had. For instance, the film takes a brave stab at religion when someone close to Mark is dying and to ease their despair he tells a lie about a good place where we all go after death and as a result people everywhere start to think of him as a messiah. What that implies of course is that religion is a lie. Once again, clever, but here again they forgot that they were making a comedy and there's not much humor drawn from the delicious set-up.
Then there's the love affair between Mark and Garner's Anna. He has a huge crush on her and even though she likes him back or possibly even more, Anna can't get over the fact that their offspring would most likely look chubby with a snub nose considering his physique (because she is always brutally honest as is everyone else except Mark) and right there we have the set-up for the romance in the movie, which doesn't really work because Anna remains a shallow, grade-A bitch through the movie and where Mark could've fallen for a woman who loves him for who he is, he chooses to chase her. Of course in real life, if you have strict standards like she does, go with them if that's what you need to get your rocks off, but it really doesn't work as a romantic storyline in a movie, now does it?!
Elokuvassa on näppärä lähtökohta, joka on että eletään maailmassa, jossa ihmiskunta ei ole koskaan oppinut valehtelemaan ja Gervaisin hahmo, Mark, saa päivänä eräänä tämän oivalluksen, jonka jälkeen kaikki on hänelle mahdollista ja saatavilla. Ihmisten pohjimmainen itsekkyys ja pinnallisuus saa avoimen käsittelyn, kuten uskontokin omansa, mutta vaikka lopputulos on mietitty kivasti läpi, ei se valitettavasti ole kovin hauska. Eli nokkela komedia, joka ei vaan tarjoa monia nauruja.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Directed by Matthew Vaughn
Starring Aaron Johnson, Chloe Moretz, Nicolas Cage, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Mark Strong
I really went in with high expectations, since the one movie magazine in which I trust more than anything else, Empire, gave Kick-Ass a full five stars. And luckily that was pretty close to home. This is a wild and outrageous comic book film, that has the BALLS to be something truly different. First, it's heavily R-rated which gives the script free range to do anything it fucking well wants to and second, it has a gorgeous career making performance from the 13 year old, foul mouthed Moretz as Hit-Girl.
Johnson plays Dave, a guy fed up with the crime and scum infested city he lives in, but more importantly, he can't believe there aren't any real-life superheroes to stand up to that scum. He gets a costume and decides to be the one to tackle evil and manages to score some publicity. This is where armed-to-the-teeth Big Daddy and his daughter Hit-Girl step in and together they start cleaning the mess up. This, however doesn't sit well with Strong's gangster who begins to hunt them in turn.
Kick-Ass would be basically a very ordinary Disney family film, if the filmmakers wouldn't have had the vision to go with a fresh perspective and include harsh, even gory action scenes. It's thanks to this vision that Kick-Ass is easily lifted above the standard tosh that are films such as Daredevil and Ghost Rider. The script is laced with funny set-ups and the whole thing just has an easy going laid back flow, which allowes you to really relax and enjoy the show. Besides, Moretz's Hit-Girl really cannot be praised enough. This is a sweet looking 11-year old, gun toting heroine who can curse the sailors out of a waterfront bar! "Okey you cunts.. let's see what you can do now!"
Kick-Ass on hulvattoman nokkelan käsikirjoituksen ja rohkean goren siivittämä supersankariraina, joka ei pahemmin kumartele poliittisesti ja rahallisesti korrekteille vaatimuksille siitä mitä tällaisen elokuvan pitäisi olla. Elokuvan ehdoton kerma on Moretzin täydellisesti tulkitsema, 11-vuotias Hit-Girl, joka kiroilee kuin seilori, vetää rosvoja turpaan ja toivoo isukilta synttärilahjaksi perhosveitsiä! Minäkin haluan tuollaisen mukulan!
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Starring Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns, Giovanni Ribisi, Adam Goldberg, Barry Pepper, Jeremy Davies, Vin Diesel, Paul Giamatti, Ted Danson, Dennis Farina, Nathan Fillion
Saving Private Ryan is most likely the most realistic war movie ever made. On the other hand, how can I say that, since I don't remember being in the midst of WWII and witnessing it first hand?! Well, I guess i can't. However, watching this film I can say that I'm very glad I was never there.
My first memory of this film is seeing it on the opening night in Helsinki's then #1 theater Bristol and being irritated about the quiet murmur that was among the audience as the soldiers were nearing the Normandy beach in the film. The audience just wasn't paying attention.. and then.. the ramps dropped and the hale of heavy mahcine gun fire shredded the soldiers to a pulp. And it wouldn't stop for the next half an hour. And finally the audience was fucking quiet! Their hands frozen midway between their mouths and the box of popcorn. The devastation that just exploded before their eyes was MASSIVE. Just like the film itself.
Private Ryan loses his brothers in combat and being the last of the siblings alive, he gets a free ticket home from the front.. only problem is, no-one knows where he is in this massive war campaign. Que Hanks' squad of soldiers who get the mission to go out and find Ryan. But how many lives is it worth to find one man and bring him home?
Saving Private Ryan is very well written and directed. It tackles some very heavy questions without being preachy or giving the answers. They leave it for you to decide, which honestly is a quality lost on some filmmakers, but not Spielberg who rarely ends up standing on a soapbox, no matter how personal the subject, like in the case of World War II. Where as Platoon wonders the horror of war, Ryan does the same, but with a more emotinal point of view.
The all-star cast performs like a well oiled machine, with the supporting squad members emerging with no difficulty from behind the big names. Especially the cowardly Davies (TV's "Lost", Ravenous), sniper Pepper (Enemy of the State, 25th Hour) and the squad medic Ribisi (Avatar, The Gift) remind why we love seeing their names on the closing credits. Shit, at least I do!
Spielbergin sotaeepos on upea, tunteikas tulkinta ihmisen hinnasta ja toveruudesta. Siitä on syystäkin tullut sotaelokuvien klassikko säälimättömän ja miltei inhottavan realistisen otteensa takia. Elokuvan tullessa ensi-iltaan, näytöksiin kunniavieraina kutsutut WWII-veteraanit saivat sairaskohtauksia filmin alussa kuvatun Normandian maihinnousun yhteydessä, sillä se toi hieman turhan realistisesti kokemansa kauhut uudelleen silmien eteen. Saatan kuulostaa nyt hieman karkealta, mutta jos tuo ei ole rivien välistä luettava suositus elokuvalle, niin mikään ei ole.
This video is NOT a trailer and contains heavy SPOILERS!
Monday, May 10, 2010
Directed by Rob Marshall
Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Nicole Kidman, Kate Hudson, Marion Cotillard, Penélope Cruz, Judi Dench, Sophia Loren, Fergie
It has been said once or twice before, though not here, but I just don't warm up to musicals. Never see the point in them. Even Sweeney Todd wasn't my cup of tea and that was an R-rated one from the Burton/Depp-dream team.
The story follows Day-Lewis' film director in 1960's Italy as he's trying to get a new project off the ground while balancing the relationships with the women in his life. It's not too exciting and ultimately I didn't care about a single character, except for one.. his wife, played beautifully here by Cotillard.
Since I just can't seem to get into these films as easily as you normal people, I'm not sure if my vote really counts because I don't understand or simply am not able to appreciate the medium of the musical. See it for yourself. The decision is yours.
Musikaalit eivät ikinä ole uponneet tähän paksuun kalloon, enkä ole nyt edelleenkään nähnyt sellaista, johon olisin tykästynyt. Lasketaanko Disneyn piirretyt musikaaleihin? Joka tapauksessa, tämä on suurta lahjakkuuksien haaskaamista, sillä käsikirjoitus ei ole kiinnostava ja osat on täytetty pääasiassa vankoilla ammattilaisilla, mutta ainoastaan Cotillard selviytyy puhtain paperein lopputeksteihin. Saa nähdä mitä ohjaaja Marshall loihtii seuraavasta projektistaan, neljännestä Pirates Of The Caribbean-rainasta.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Directed by Mark DiSalle & David Worth
Starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dennis Chan, Dennis Alexio
An unbelievable movie. I think anyone reading this can already appreciate the fact that Van Damme isn't exactly known for his acting chops, correct? I mean the man's actually called Muscles from Bussels. So to criticize his acting in this spectacular questionmark of a movie would, I guess be beating the man while his down.. so let's get started with that.
This being an action film, whatever story there might be is in place just to give a reason for the fight scenes, but I can tell you right now, there hasn't been a movie in quite a while that has made my day like Kickboxer. There can be no greater enjoyment on a cloudy day than watching Van Damme trying to get through a dramatic scene. With him crying, for Christ's sake. For instance I personally love Jack Black's work, but he has to pull off all the stops to equal the comedic power of this man in "action".
The "story" follows Van Damme's Kurt as he's training to become a powerful fighter in order to avenge his brother's challenger who left him paralyzed. What follows is a good handful of crappy eastern fighting philosophy and endless arrays of fighting and training montages. It's like Kelsey Grammer put it so fittingly about Van Damme in an episode of Frasier: "Bullets are useless against a man who can kick really high".
Kickboxer is at times amusing camp entertainment, but not a good guilty pleasure because they never once take the joke far enough, unlike in, say Rambo 2 & 3.
Van Dammen kulta-ajan tuotos on tahattomasti hauska ja paikoitellen viihdyttävä ryminäraina, jonka camp-arvo ei kumminkaan riitä aivan vatsanpohja-nauruihin saakka. Väliinputoaja.
Directed by Robert Luketic
Starring Katherine Heigl, Gerard Butler, John Michael Higgins
The calculating studio machine behind these American romantic comedies coughs up again and the result is exactly what they must've concluted the meeting with that greenlit this script: "Well shit, at least it'll make it's budget back and rise the status of it's leading stars". There cannot've been ANYONE down the line who went "What a great fucking script! So fresh and original! We must do this damn thing immediately!".
The story follows Heigl's TV-producer who's awkward with men and can't get a single one of her dates to like her. Que Butler's chauvinist TV-personality who stirs the whole thing up and teaches her how the mind of man works. Any guess as to how this film's going to end for these characters?!
Predictability isn't this film's main flaw because there's nothing wrong with using old ingredients for creating something fresh out of them. It's the plain and obvious feeling you get, of the satisfied studio execs sitting around, puffing their big, fat stogies and laughing their asses off while giggling "See? You don't really need to work on the script! They'll eat the half boiled egg too!". Because that's what these movies feel like: half-assed works of work, not passion. What little humor comes out of this movie are a couple of amusing setups and whatever charisma Butler has.
Wanna see a good goddamn romantic comedy? Turn to the Brits and watch Notting Hill or Love Actually. Now those are good romantic comedies. Oh, I did forget the genuinly good effort from the States that is Sleepless In Seattle. Credit where credit is due.
Romanttinen tusinatuote, johon on yritetty puhaltaa henkeä hieman erilaisten lähtökohtien avulla, mutta silti lopulta seuraten kuluneita polkuja. Harlekiineja lukevat romantikot saanevat tosin tästäkin tarvittavan annoksensa, mutta meidän muiden on kenties parempi tukeutua brittien ja tarkemmin ottaen Richard Curtisin pettämättömään tuotantoon, kuten Bridget Jones, Merirosvoradio tai Rakkautta Vain.
Monday, May 3, 2010
Directed by Peter Jackson
Starring Mark Wahlberg, Saoirse Ronan, Rachel Weisz, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci, Michael Imperioli
Honestly, I don't know what I was expecting out of this film, that almost feels like a vanity project from it's esteemed director. The Lovely Bones is by no means a bad movie, but at times you do find yourself wondering what is the point of it's existence, because all Jackson seems to want to bring across are the magnificent visuals and not much anything else.
The story follows Susie Salmon, a schoolgirl who falls as a victim of Tucci's serial killer and she ends up in the space between our world and heaven, while her family desperately tries to find the man responsible for her demise. The film is luckily not without emotional punch and at times Susie's wild adventures and journeys in the afterlife are truly touching, though mainly capturing thanks to the imaginative (and in this case, important) use of special effects. As effective as Susie's new world is, if you want emerge your mind into a world that's not ours, I'd personally still recommend the impressive visual masterpiece, The Cell, over this.
The absolute best that the film has to offer are Susan Sarandon as the chainsmoking, bottle hitting and cool grandmother of the Salmon's and especially Stanley Tucci in his Oscar-nominated performance as the killer from across the street. His performance is what I personally find respectable in an actor: the ability to be truly something different and transform yourself into that other character with new mannerisms.
Kaikista aivottomimmat LOTR-fanit tulevat aina antamaan Jacksonille kaiken anteeksi, mutta totuus tästä meillä Oma Taivas-nimellä kulkevasta elokuvasta on, että se on auttamattomasti vain keskitasoa ja sitäkin upean visuaalisen kekseliäisyytensä ja parin loistavan sivuosasuorituksen ansiosta.
Sunday, May 2, 2010
I cannot think of a better subject to kick off this blog with. Ok, it's not a movie in a sense, but fuck it, it's my blog, right?
After having just seen this DVD for the probably 5th time now, there has not been and most likely will never be another production that captures the craziness, terror and sadness of the Bush administration as effectively as this Broadway-play-turned-into-HBO-DVD. And before you raise your hand in objection, no, Oliver Stone's "W." didn't even come close. Farrell IS the former President of the United States and the show itself is a fitting, well written and very funny farewell for the perfect interpertation of a figure that's quite tragic actually.
The production covers most of the major milestones of Bush's presidency and his cabinet doesn't get a free pass either, which is justified to say the least. Besides it's fun to point out the celebrities from the audience, including.. nah, to hell with it, you do it yourself.
Will Farrell hautaa kenties tunnetuimman ja rakastetuimman tulkintansa kunnialla ja loistavasti kirjoitetun satiirin puitteissa. Suositellaan jokaiselle Farrellin fanille ja jokaiselle jolla ei ole ollut pää pensaassa Bushin kausien aikana.