Monday, October 29, 2012
Last saturday night, there was a special screening of RoboCop held at the Bio Rex cinema at downtown Helsinki. The screening was of the unrated director's cut and in addition to the privilege of seeing this cinematic masterpiece on the big screen, director Paul Verhoeven himself was at the event to present the film to the audience.
When I first heard about this I almost did a goddamn backflip because this man is a hero of mine. I've always held these directors to the highest respect who not only are able to tell great stories, but also fully understand the techical aspects of good filmmaking by which I mean clever camera blocking, use of music, pacing in editing and so forth. In this toughest league of filmmakers, Verhoeven has always been a master and RoboCop was simply the first film to really demonstrate his genius in the US. All of his Hollywood films that've followed (Showgirls included) have been entertaining to say the least. Even Hollow Man, the film which made Verhoeven reflect his own motifs in American filmmaking and eventually return to Europe, is very entertaining, fluent and especially well made.
Now, granted, Verhoeven wasn't in Finland just to present RoboCop at the annual Night Visions film festival, but to promote his new book Jesus Of Nazareth co-written with Rob Van Scheers (author of Verhoeven's biography). At the screening Verhoeven kindly held two Q&A's, one before the film and one after. At this point I have to say that never in my life have I been more embarrassed to be a part of Finnish film audience because in the middle of the first Q&A some -and please pardon my French here- fucking douchebag interrupted the honored guest by yelling out "start the fucking movie already!". Luckily he was immediately put in his place by the rest of the audience (myself included). Afterwards, once the film had ended and the director was kind enough to continue with a thorough Q&A, he still stuck around happily for autographs and pictures with his fans. Not a selfish bone in the man's body.
The film was of course still an undeniable masterpiece and the evening as a whole one I shall never forget. Mr. Verhoeven, thank you for all your films, I will stay tuned for whatever might be coming next, and also thank you sincerely for the picture. A film buff such as myself really couldn't ask for a more grand experience.
RoboCop at IMDb
Paul Verhoeven at IMDb
Saturday, October 27, 2012
Directed by Sam Mendes
Starring Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Naomie Harris, Judi Dench, Ralph fiennes, Bérénice Marlohe, Ben Wishaw, Rory Kinnear, Albert Finney, Ola Rapace
As James Bond 007 celebrates 50 years, producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson release one of the best Bond films to date. Skyfall continues the new wave of Bond which started with the superb Casino Royale and continued with the somewhat lesser but still solid Quantum Of Solace.
Craig has fully and effortlessly inhabited the role and this time works with a director already familiar to him (the two collaborated on Road To Perdition). Visiting writer Paul Haggis (Crash) from previous two films has exited to make room for John Logan (Gladiator, Star Trek Nemesis). The script is brilliant and introduces some radical changes back to the feel and ultimately the look of previous Bonds over the decades although this will mostly be evident only in the last five minutes or so (take notice of M's office for instance). Bardem as the main antagonist is a stroke of brilliance. As an actor, he is a force of nature and though very subtle, he creates a truly memorable gay character rarely seen in mainstream cinema, not to mention in Bond history.
Skyfall jatkaa Casino Royalen rohkeasti aloittamaa Bondien uutta aikakautta ja vaikka keskelle mahtuikin hieman löyhempi Quantum Of Solace, niin tällä kertaa pienoiset ongelmat on jälleen korjattu ja lopputulos on yksi parhaimpia 007-elokuvia sarjan 50-juhlavuotisen taipaleen aikana. Craig on kolmannella kertaa jo täysin sinut hahmonsa kanssa ja tekee vieläpä tutun ohjaajan kanssa työtä (he tekivät jo aiemmin yhdessä elokuvan Matkalla Perditioniin). Javier Bardemin hankkiminen pääkonnan rooliin on nerokas veto, sillä näyttelijänä mies on kuin luonnonvoima ja elokuvassa hän luo hahmostaan ikimuistoisen, joskin hienovaraisen gay-miehen, joka varmasti muistetaan etenkin Bond-leffojen saralla. John Logan (Gladiator, Star Trek Nemesis) on korvannut kahdessa edellisessä osassa vierailleen käsikirjoittajan, Paul Haggisin (Crash) ja Skyfallin käsikirjoitus, kaiken vaivattoman hienouden lomassa, palauttaa myös lopulta Bondin melko lähelle sitä asetelmaa, jossa 007 on ollut jo vuosikymmenten ajan. Visuaalisesti kuin tunnelmallisestikin. Loistava elokuva ja ainakin omasta mielestäni yksi ehdottomasti parhaita 007-seikkailuja kautta aikojen.
Skyfall at IMDb
Directed by Olivier Megaton
Starring Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Rade Sherbedzija, Leland Orser
The first Taken caught eveyone by surprise back in 2008 and especially Neeson himself who in an interview revealed that he thought the film would end up going straight to video. The sequel feels a bit forced at times thanks to over editing but ultimately conquers the odds against it. This time it's not Neeson's daughter who gets kidnapped but the man himself by the relatives of the criminals he iced the first time around. It would be folish to expect anything deep and meaningful from Taken 2 but I'd say that everyone who's seen the original and wants to check out the sequel is very aware of this going in. It is a solid sequel because the one thing that made Taken such a joy was Neeson's unforgiving "set of skills" and they have not faded to the second installment and neither has the man himself.
Taken 2 at IMDb
Directed by Len Wiseman
Starring Colin Farrell, Jessica Biel, Kate Beckinsale, Bokeem Woodbine, Bryan Cranston, Bill Nighy
It's always a tricky business remaking cinematic milestones and though the original Total Recall made in 1990 would be easy to brush off as just another Schwarzenegger actioner, that wasn't the case. Director Paul Verhoeven along with a brilliant fresh script and cast created a truly original scifi thriller and this new version falls short of everything with the exception of some decent performances, great action and elevated production value. The remake really has no soul of it's own, even though one has been tried desperately to create. In my opinion the film basically works only because it obides by the rules of good remakes: be true to the original but throw enough of your own in the mix to keep the distance. In this the film succeeds but as hard as it tries, the remake of Total Recall can only be viewed as an entertaining action flick shadowed greatly by the original.
Alkuperäinen, vuoden 1990 Total Recall - Unohda Tai Kuole olisi tietämättömän silmissä helppo ohittaa vuokraamon hyllyssä vain yhtenä Iso-Arskan vanhana rynkytysleffana, mutta se olisi virhe, sillä kyseessä oli yksi omaperäisimpiä scifitrillereitä vuosiin ja vaikka tämä uusintaversio kuinka yrittäisi, se on tuomittu elämään esikuvansa varjossa. Uusi Total Recall esittelee paljon hienoja tulevaisuuden visioita, muutaman mukiinmenevän roolisuorituksen ja filmin tehosteet ovat henkeä salpaavan hienoja, mutta tätä ja hienoja toimintakohtauksia lukuunottamatta elokuvasta ei muuta käteen jääkään. Se on viihdyttävä toimintaelokuva, ei muuta.
Total Recall 2012 at IMDb
Total Recall 1990 at IMDb
Thursday, October 25, 2012
Directed by Phil Alden Robinson
Starring Ben Affleck, Morgan Freeman, Bridget Moynahan, James Cromwell, Ciarán Hinds, Liev Schreiber, Alan Bates, Ron Rifkin, Colm Feore, Philip Baker Hall, Sven-Ole Thorsen
I decided to give this fourth Jack Ryan film a look after a long while and it truly is a measure of how a decent action thriller is supposed to be made. Director Robinson has been known to make films of lighter genres (Field Of Dreams for example), but as he demonstrated with Sneakers back in 1992, he can easily pull off suspense and Fears is another magnificent benchmark of this. Neo-nazis are pinning US and Russia against each other by framing each other of terrorist acts and (in this film still up and coming) CIA analyst Ryan (Affleck) is the man to stop world destruction. Freeman's mentor to Ryan, Cabot beautifully reflects James Earl Jones' Admiral Greer from previous Ryan films while Cromwell and Hinds face each other off as presidents of the two fuming nations. You could cut the brilliantly built tension with a knife and the only small complaint comes from Affleck's mannerisms still on display at this point of his career. A special mention must be given to Jerry Goldsmith for a memorable and hauntingly beautiful score (as showcased below). A fifth self-titled Jack Ryan film is currently filming with Chris Pine as the lead, Costner lending support and Kenneth Branagh behind the camera. They better not fuck up the gold winning streak which has been going all the way from the superb The Hunt For Red October through Patriot Games and Clear And Present Danger to this. Here's hoping.
The Sum Of All Fears at IMDb