Friday, April 5, 2013

Friday Night Movie Reviews

It's the first Friday of the month yet again, so it's time for us to fill your eyeholes with snack-sized movie reviews! Join us under the cut to see what we were watching this month.

Cloud Atlas (2012) by Luke

The Wachowski’s most recent over-the-top offering, Cloud Atlas, is aggressively divisive. Hailed as either a work of genius and an interminable turd, it’s three unrelenting hours of incredibly dense storytelling (and editing) as we cut back and forth between six vaguely linked stories spanning from 1849 to a post apocalyptic future. This is further complicated by a troupe of actors performing multiple roles, often switching age, race and/or gender under crushing layers of prosthetic make up.

It’s a lot of hard work and to be honest I was ready to up and leave after the first frustrating half hour, but there was always that tiny spark of interest that kept rejuvenating me to persevere just that little bit more. A big part of this is the Wachowski’s ability to create memorable images, and it was the story of the future clone that ultimately sucked me in, and by the time I entered the third hour I was actually pretty wrapped up in the film, finding it engaging and affirming in its own weird way. But you have to get there first, and I think many viewers will collapse along the way.

I think the truth is that Cloud Atlas is best enjoyed with some prior knowledge, and it was a trip to Wikipedia that assisted in orientating me through the stories. Understanding where and when each story is set beforehand goes a great way towards helping you navigate through the treacherous stretch at the beginning. I will say, though, that Cloud Atlas is not a puzzle, nor is it a work of dense sci-fi. The six stories do not really interconnect and at times quite tonally different. In fact if you watched all six in order - without any intercutting - then you’d probably be left underwhelmed. It’s really just the editing and the score that links them together and I was quite impressed with the way the Wachowski’s played around with this in unexpected ways. It’s a grand experiment, even if it doesn’t always work. There’s some wonderful moments to be found but you have to REALLY want to find them.

Forecast: Cloudy with a chance of Atlas. Thanks for all the extra Hanks.

Ted (2012) by Jeff 

I'm a fairly unabashed Seth MacFarlane fan. I still watch Family Guy, and while American Dad and The Cleveland Show don't really do it for me, his Oscar performance reminded me as to how much I like his offbeat, offensive brand of humor.

Ted is effectively a Family Guy episode with Peter as a stuffed bear. The movie even makes that joke at one point, but it's pretty true - the bear sounds like Peter Griffin, is a little stupid, and yeah. It's effectively Peter, which makes the movie effectively a long Family Guy episode. Even at around an hour and a half, it means there's not a lot in the substance department (especially since the movie doesn't have the weird asides that the cartoon has) and that means some rather draggy points.

The movie wasn't bad, but I'm not sure I can really say it was good. Ultimately, even as a fan, I could have probably gone without watching it and just seeing the thunder buddies song on YouTube.

In Bruges (2008) by Jacinta

Four days off over Easter was a good excuse to knock a few movies off my ‘to watch’ list, and I sat down to watch one that I’d been keen to see for the last 5 years, but just never got around to. In Bruges follows hitmen Ray (Colin Farrell) and Ken (Brendan Gleeson) around Bruges, Belgium as they hide out after a job gone wrong, awaiting further instructions from their hard-nosed boss.

I’d heard nothing but good things so I was expecting a lot, and this movie delivered. It’s a black comedy and swings smoothly between hilarious (with many of the jokes being extremely un-PC) and sombre. The petulant Ray is the highlight for the first half of the movie, with his hatred of the ‘shit hole’ Bruges and fascination with midgets, though it’s Ralph Fiennes who steals the show in the end. It’s rare to watch a movie where you genuinely enjoy every single character in it. From the main players right down to the guy who sells them their tickets to a tourist spot, no character is treated as just a space-filler.

Now that I’ve finally seen In Bruges, I regret leaving it so long. It isn’t exactly a light hearted crime romp, but nor is it a really heavy-going effort. It’s a very entertaining movie with lots of fast, snappy dialogue and great characterisation. Highly recommended.

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