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Monday, 9 June 2014

Bad Peace

Hey!

I always keep bouncing around the idea of changing this blog into something else entirely and after a friend of mine changed hers up recently, I was thinking of following her example and do the same with mine.

The idea isn't exactly new but over the years I've found that this blog has become a much better platform for me to just talk films. Maybe it'll just become film exclusive? Or maybe it'll be a new site entirely?! We'll uhh... see.

I know I need to change the look of it like the banner and stuff though. I'll get around to it...

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When last I wrote, I said that I'd started reading Gone Girl. It is now June and I've already finished the book. It's a pretty engrossing read, I'll admit, but everything leading up towards the ending (which includes the ending itself), threw me off a bit and, well, it really wasn't quite up to my liking. I'd like to think that there's something in there that I'm missing but I'm not so sure.

That said, David Fincher's adaptation of the book will certainly be an interesting one and its not hard to see why Fincher would agree to make a film like this. It's essentially Fincher interpreting Revolutionary Road and feels like it could be a "lesser" Fincher film, I think.

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Look, I love professional wrestling and I'm not even gonna defend myself for liking it cause I think it's pretty fun and rad. Went to support Melbourne's local wrestling scene recently and attended Melbourne Championship Wrestling's hallmark show, Ballroom Brawl, held every year for the last five years at the Thornbury Theatre.

Great show... So great that I practically lost my voice at said show from far too much yelling. I mean just look at me being an idiot in that highlights video (about seven seconds in!). That is the face of someone impassioned by the insanity of it all.

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Treat yourself! I figured I needed some new Winter gear so hey, why not get a few jumpers, ey? Throw in an official Japanese Blu-ray copy of tokyo.sora and I'm pretty darn set for now. All I need is like one outfit for every season... Also, if you haven't already follow me on Instagram! I mean, if you want. No pressure.
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WHAT I'VE BEEN WATCHING



MY SWEET PEPPER LAND: First thing's first! I reviewed Kurdish film, My Sweet Pepper Land for Meld Magazine recently and really recommend everyone to go see it at the Nova when they can! It's so damn great and I was really taken back by how well-made and original the film felt. Read my review for a better idea of the film and my thoughts about it!

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ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE: After being on a Jim Jarmusch high this Summer (thanks Astor Theatre!), Only Lovers Left Alive shot up to my must-watch list and as much as I wanted to like the movie (and there's plenty to like), overall it felt like a bit of a bore to me and I'm not sure how this happened!

Let's face it; Jarmusch's films don't always rely on narrative to push it forward. His films rely on drifting, wayward loners and outcasts with very little, if any, story to tell. Like hey, this should totally be my kind of movie, right? I dug Stranger Than Paradise a lot for that very reason. But here, with Only Lovers Left Alive, the film left me wanting a more. A lot more!

Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston are great in their parts, as is Mia Wasikowska (she is killing it right now in everything) who plays against-type here in a scene-stealing role as Tilda Swinton's young vampire sister. The choice to move the action in Detroit is an inspired one though. Maybe I'll have to watch this film again.

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THE DOUBLE: Hello again, Ms Wasikowska! Richard Ayaode made a huge splash in cinema with his feature film debut, Submarine, back in 2010 but that was four years ago (oh...). Four years later, the former IT Crowd star has followed that up with The Double, a film that's supposed to be an adaptation of a Fyodor Dostoevsky novel but isn't (oh!).

That's all well and good but for a film that tries to be clever and fun, the whole thing felt so... boring. I mean yeah, you've got some cool classic Japanese tunes in there (still scratching my head over the inclusion of it though) but Ayaode's story of doppelgängers is one that failed to capture my attention. Despite some pretty visuals, The Double is an ineffectual follow up to what was a very captivating debut in Submarine.

While I wouldn't say the cast here is wasted (including the gang from Submarine who all turn up in bit parts here!) the film feels neutered of any charm that a 'comedy' like this ought to possess. That's three for three with independently made features I've been super interested in seeing that have now disappointed me (this, Only Lovers Left Alive and The Grand Budapest Hotel!).

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GODZILLA: Boy did this have a sweet hype train! After teasing everyone with an abundance of footage that made this particular incarnation of Godzilla appear closer to the first film (while honouring its follow ups), Gareth Edwards re-tooling of the 'King of Monsters' isn't quite as flash as I was hoping it to be.

Most of the criticism towards Godzilla has been in favour of the less than stellar human elements of the film which, in my opinion, is a fair observation to make though you can also argue that the human characters in any Godzilla film is rarely remembered. The film's enormously talented cast is stunted throughout the film (save for Bryan Cranston who, despite being in the film only for the first portion of it, really does an incredible job of selling his character's story) and even Godzilla himself feels like a side-attraction in his own movie.

However, it's very clear that this movie is its own Godzilla film and certainly feels worthy enough of inclusion with the Japanese entries. Also when Godzilla finally does appear and fight, its a huge payoff. HUGE!

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HOW TO MAKE MONEY SELLING DRUGS: Yeah if that title doesn't grab your attention, I dunno what will. As you can imagine, this doco demonstrates how you can go from being a street-corner hustler to being a drug kingpin in several 'easy' steps.

Its focus is definitely not as far-reaching as similar drug documentary, The House I Live In (one of my top films from 2012) but there's still plenty of fascinating little tidbits and stories from actual dealers and hustlers that give this doco a personality of its own. Further complementing this is the hierarchy of the drug trade which in the film is established as a video game (each rank referred to as 'levels' complete with video game bleeps and bloops).

The subject matter can lose focus at times (towards the end, the doco enters more serious territory and lambastes alcohol and tobacco industries) but its an otherwise entertaining piece that further emphasises America's baffling war on drugs.

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BRINGING OUT THE DEAD: Wow, talk about an overlooked Martin Scorsese film! Why is Bringing Out The Dead not more talked about as one of Scorsese's greats? Whenever he and screenwriter Paul Schrader get together, magic happens (Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, anyone?) and if anything, Bringing Out The Dead is essentially a spiritual successor to Taxi Driver which is perhaps why I adore this film so much (fun fact: Taxi Driver is in my top films of all time, shhh). So what if its not huge on story?

There's enough to mine from this rich film which features a great performance from the often derided Nicolas Cage (who blends the perfect amount of crazy Cage and good Cage in this) and overall is just a great trip into madness and redemption.

It might not be a popular opinion with many but I sure as heck loved Bringing Out The Dead and would love to see a double between this and Taxi Driver one day at the Astor (or maybe just bring the Astor to me and have it at home, y'know?).

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THE HUNT: Well, damn. I mean, really. Damn! Isn't it nice to just take a chance on a film and be more than surprised by its outcome?! I can't imagine what the feeling was like for critics to see The Hunt for the first time and champion it as one of the best of last year.

The Hunt, which was nominated for an Oscar in Best Foreign Language Film this year, is a hugely impressive film that stars Hannibal's Mads Mikkelsen in a role that'll make you completely forget about the fact that he plays a suave cannibal on a hit TV show in America!

The film is incredibly challenging and asks a lot of hard questions about the circumstances that surround paedophilia allegations made against men. A shockingly great piece of social commentary, as well as a great story in itself, this Danish feature is strongly comparable to the films of great modern Korean director, Lee Chang-dong. Lee's films are often character studies that feature small-town drama but with a novelistic and epic scope. Mikkelsen is fantastic and this film does not leave your mind for a second. Essential viewing!

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MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING: Joss Whedon's post-Avengers film is a mighty step away from the spectacle of Marvel's flagship comic book team as the nerd-king focuses his attention on something less likely to attract the attention of die-hard fanboys - William Shakespeare.

Whedon's modern-day adaptation of one of Shakespeare's most famous plays sees Whedon reunite with many of the people he's worked with in this past (from series' like Angel and Firefly as well as The Avengers). The most noteworthy member of Much Ado About Nothing's cast is the delightful Amy Acker who charms her way into the film and so effortlessly delivers Shakespearean English which is no easy thing to pull off, I should think. Easily the most committed and convincing actor here.

That said, the film itself feels extremely disjointed most of the time as attention is given over one story than the other. The Shakespearean English doesn't help either (sorry, not cultured enough) especially when it feels like the actors are just saying the lines without understanding how they ought to be delivered.

It's not as good a movie as I was led to believe (considering all the praise it got from everyone I heard from!) but it has its moments. And not much of a comedy either, I reckon.

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MISTAKEN FOR STRANGERS: If I'm being completely honest, I had no idea who The National was before seeing this documentary. I had no idea they were kind of a big deal so it certainly helped that the film was able to put emphasis on that as it provides some great backstage access to the band.

The documentary sees Tom Berninger, a budding filmmaker and child-at-heart, follow his brother Matt Berninger, the lead singer of The National, as he and his band embark on a world tour.

It's not quite your traditional rockumentary and is perhaps more closer in tone to something like Anvil: The Story of Anvil (which I freaking love) where the heart of the film lies in the relationship that's shared between Tom and Matt. It's a moving story of brotherly affection and the effect fame and celebrity can have on an extremely ordinary family (Tom and Matt's mother is a painter and their father is presumably a carpenter as he's seen cutting wood).

I really liked this doco and I love the fact that it was only about 70 minutes long and knew exactly when to move on and when to stop - smartly paced filmmaking at work here!
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And that's all for this blog post. So I dunno why it took me til now to check out more of Jhene Aiko's music but I finally have and yeah, she's pretty great, I think. This is from her EP, Sail Away, and features Childish Gambino on the track (who I believe she's dating? Or was dating?). I dunno, I dig it. I like her light voice too, kinda reminds me of Aaliyah. Kinda. 


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