US Marshall Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) is sent to a mental asylum set on an inhospitable island with his partner Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) to investigate the disappearance of one of the patients. There, they meet Dr Crawley (Ben Kingsley) and Dr Naehring (Max von Sydow) and find that things are not what they seem.
I remember watching this years ago and really hating it – finding the twist extremely obvious and the whole thing quite annoying. I’m not a huge Scorsese fan, and was just a bit unimpressed. Then I heard it discussed on Plato’s Cave, the RRR film criticism show, and while they are all massive Scorsese fans, they said to watch it just as a thriller with a twist will be disappointing because it is deliberately so obvious. However, if you watch it with that knowledge and just enjoy the way it unfolds, you can really appreciate it. So, I gave it another go and, dammit, they were totally right. It’s very clever and intense and just great. I’m so glad I went back and watched it from a different mindset.
There are a group of mysterious creatures, trolls, who wear boxes, live underground, come out at night and scavenge through the small town they live beneath. And they have a boy, Fish (Dee Bradley Baker) who has ended up with them. Above the surface, a rumour has spread that they kidnap and kill children during the night, and evil Archibald Snatcher (Ben Kingsley), a lowly trashman with aspirations to join the elite of the town, vows to get rid of them all in return for a place at the cheese eating table. Then Fish meets Winnie (Elle Fanning) the daughter of one of the elite and she wants to use to him to finally get some attention from her father. Will evil destroy good and do we really care?
I loved the style of the animation, the dirty, ugly appearance of all characters and the gadgets and things involved. Yet I didn’t care for the story. I didn’t care about Fish, I didn’t like anyone else in the whole thing, I think I was supposed to like the Boxtrolls but I didn’t and I couldn’t wait for it to be over. No, that is a bit harsh. I didn’t like it, but I most definitely can see how other people would, and I did appreciate that it is not your usual, tedious, sweet kids story. A bit of grit is good.
The Boxtrolls was nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Feature of the Year.
Sacha Baron Cohen is Aladeen, dictator of a small, fictional country in Northern Africa. He ends up in the US, where he is ousted by his brother (played by Ben Kingsley… seeing him in this makes me feel like the great have fallen) and an idiot body double. He has to rely on the kindness of a man he had executed (don’t ask) and a girl who is smart enough to have a large ecologically friendly co-op in New York yet is too stupid to run in efficiently or to tell this offensive creep to bugger off (Anna Ferris as the extremely offensive to all women character, Zoey).
Yup. I didn’t like it. I have memories of Ali G being an amazing television show, of going to the film of Borat and laughing (although I walked out of the cinema feeling that I’d watched something pretty crappy), but I have avoided Cohen’s more recent work. I watched this because I’d heard the review on Plato’s Cave (this is a RRR film criticism podcast which I thoroughly enjoy. I don’t always agree; sometimes I vehemently disagree, but I always like what they have to say) and Thomas Caldwell had said some surprisingly good things about it.
Perhaps I’m over poo, torture and rape jokes. Perhaps I just like humour that is clever (though I do love slapstick). Whatever. The Dictator did not even raise a smile from me.
Hugo (Asa Butterfield) is an orphan who lives about the Paris train station, hiding from the evil Station Inspector (Sacha Baron Cohen), watching and stealing small parts from toy booth owner Georges Melies (Ben Kingsley) and rebuilding the automaton his father (Jude Law) was fixing before he died. Before long, Hugo befriends the god-daughter of Georges Melies, Isabelle (Chloe Grace Moretz) and they embark on the adventure of finding what the world hold, and what place they have within it.
It’s a sweet little story, tying in with some of the real history of cinema, but it just didn’t win me over. Why, I wonder? The story and characters were strong, and it was certainly beautiful. Perhaps it was the acting. I felt that the young lead was doing far too much eyebrow and mouth acting, like Daniel Radcliffe throughout the Harry Potter films. I think when you see films with amazing child actors, you know that there is better than this. I really had very little interest in what happened to Hugo, and I guess that is pretty important to the film. I think there was also the element of brushing over the ugly side of life; yes, the orphans were captured by the evil Station Inspector, but I didn’t feel the fear that they were trying to portray here.
Hugo won Oscars for Best Achievement in Cinematography, Best Achievement in Sound Mixing, Best Achievement in Sound Editing, Best Achievement in Visual Effects and Best Achievement in Art Direction. It was nominated for Oscars for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Achievement in Directing (Martin Scorsese) Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay (John Logan), Best Achievement in Film Editing, Best Achievement in Costume Design and Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score.
Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jnr) is having panic attacks brought on by the alien attack in New York (The Avengers). On top of this, there is a super criminal, The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) who is taking over the airwaves to threaten the President of the US. And then there are these glowing people. They glow orange, as though they are full of lava. It’s weird.
Iron Man Three was everything I wanted it to be. Really evil bad guys, Robert Downey Jnr being funny and sexy, Don Cheadle getting to do some cool running and shooting. I don’t like Gwenyth Paltrow as Pepper Potts, but I think that’s because this character is a bit wet, and I’d like her to be a bit more… something. It’s not that she’s not strong – she runs the company and she stands up to Stark like no-one else. I just don’t like her as a character. I do like Paltrow, and need to see her doing something better, thanks. Oh, and then there is Guy Pearce, and I really cannot say often enough just how much I love his acting. He’s just fabulous.
Stay through the credits – as with all of these recent Marvel films, there’s a little bonus bit at the end. Especially if you like Mark Ruffalo.