12 Monkeys (1995) Film Review

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It’s 2035. Back in 1996, a massive proportion of the world’s population have been killed by a deadly virus and those remaining have retreated underground. Here, they send ‘volunteers’ to collect samples from the surface, but have also developed time travel technology and send people back in the past to gain information about The 12 Monkeys Army who they believe caused the disaster. When prisoner James Cole (Bruce Willis) is sent back, he ends up in a mental institution alongside Jeffrey Goines (Brad Pitt) and being treated by psychologist Kathryn Railly (Madeleine Stowe). Consequent visits change attitudes until there is more than one fight happening.

This is an extremely beautiful film. The future is horrible, the present not much better. (Or should it be the present is horrible and the past is not much better – it’s challenging talking about time travel). The story is typical Gilliam in that it is not typical of anything at all. Any time you think you know what is happening, things twist and turn and change. I saw this film several times back in the late nineties, but haven’t watched it for ages. Seeing it now gives me a different idea on the end, though I am still not sure on quite what happened.

12 Monkeys was nominated for Oscars for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Brad Pitt) and Best Costume Design.

 

Mr and Mrs Smith (2005) Film Review

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It will be the film always known as the one that brought Brad and Angelina together… or the film that split Brad and Jennifer up. It’s not that much of a shame, because it’s not a brilliant a film.

The premise? Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie play a husband and wife who are both assassins, though neither suspect the other. Then they both go out on the same kill and ruin the job for each other, and not long after that, they are both trying to kill each other.

What worked? The couple in therapy, bored with each other, then becoming attracted again once blood lust was in the air. The running and shooting and explosions were very good. The concept was pretty ace, and there was some awesome technology. It was fun, and I do like my action with some comedy, so tick and tick.

World War Z (2013) Film Review

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A mysterious plague has suddenly hit the world, with little information being disseminated. People are turning into zombies, and not zombies like I’ve seen before. They are super fast – not just running, but zapping. The population of the world is rapidly disappearing, and the only way Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) and his family are able to be evacuated is that he is an ex UN guy who specializes in war-torn areas, and the UN want him back. The film follows Lane as he travels the world attempting to discover anything that will help them survive.

If I’ve never made this clear, I am not a horror film lover. I don’t like being scared, I don’t generally chose these types of films. But I’d heard World War Z was an excellent book and had translated well to film. What’s more, it wasn’t totally gore-fest, but looked at the choices people made, more about characters and relationships. There is most definitely some gore-fest elements, but a lot of the time, the zombies are too fast to see an awful lot. What it leaves you with is an awful lot of suspense, and that almost killed me. It is just so tense and magnificent. The CG is definitely worth noting – especially my favourite part, which was the whole Jerusalem wall part. It’s on the trailer. It’s fantastic.

I’ve requested the book from my library now, because the idea of a zombie book fascinates me.

Killing Them Softly (2012) Film Review

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There’s an illegal card game that is protected by the mafia, run by Markie(Ray Liotta). Previously, Markie had arranged a hit on this game, thinking no-one would suspect him – which they didn’t but later he ended up coming clean. The other mafia folk forgave him for being a nice guy. The mafia’s nice like that. Another dude, Johnny “Squirrel” Amato (Vincent Curatola) takes this opportunity to hit the game again thinking that the automatic suspect will be Markie. He uses a couple of hired hands; Frankie(Scoot McNairy) and Russell(Ben Mendelsohn). The mafia is not happy, and send a couple of hitmen to resolve the situation (Brad Pitt and James Gandolfini).

I reckon that a lot of people will love this film. It’s got that kind of coolness about it. I think it is a very good film. Not for me, I’m afraid; I was mostly bored. Very excited to see Ben Mendelsohn getting more roles, I’m a huge fan. His presence didn’t save the film for me, but I did enjoy it.

Babel (2006) Film Review

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Sadtacular, sadtacular. Oh, so so so sadtacular. Babel is by director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu who also made Amores Perros and 21 Grams, and I could not bring myself to watch it again. I wanted to; unless I know a film extremely well from multiple viewings, I don’t like to write about them. But I started to watch this and just couldn’t go through it again. Just seeing the two young boys on the hill with the rifle. Oh, no.

Babel tells several stories that overlap during the film. There is the story of the family living in the hills of Morocco who herd sheep and buy a gun to kill the jackals. Then, there is Richard Jones (Brad Pitt) and his wife Susan (Cate Blanchett) who are travelling through Morocco when disaster strikes. Back in the US, their children are being looked after by Amelia (Adriana Barraza), their undocumented nanny from Mexico. She needs to get home to a family wedding, but the children’s aunt does not arrive to take care of the children, so she takes them with her. Finally, there is the Japanese story, which follows deaf teenager Chieko (Rinko Kikuchi) who is struggling to fit in and develops a crush on a police office she believes is investigating her mother’s suicide.

Every story is heart-wrenching. Some parts of the stories go exactly the way you’d expect, but then suddenly, they will veer off into sadtacular land. The film is very good. But totally heartbreaking, and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to watch it again.

Babel won the Oscar for Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score and was nominated for Oscars for Best Achievement in Directing, Best Achievement in Film Editing, Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Adriana Barraza), Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Rinko Kikuchi) and Best Writing, Original Screenplay. It won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Drama and was nominated for many other awards.

Moneyball (2011) Film Review

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Before I watched this, I was told that it was all about baseball, money and statistics, but that it doesn’t matter if you don’t know about the sport because it’s a good story. That’s a load of baloney. There are some things that you need to know about. Like, for example, in baseball players can be traded or dropped anytime during the season. That’s pretty crucial. Plus, there’s a whole of technical sport talk that I don’t know about, and really don’t care about. All of this made for a pretty boring film for me.

Brad Pitt plays Billy Beane, who organizes the buying and selling of players for Oakland A. He encounters Peter Brand(Seth Rogan) who is a new, young guy working for a rival team. Beane can see the value of the thinking of Brand, and so buys out his contract and between them they try to change the way people think about baseball.

Sound interesting? Perhaps it might be to you. I can’t fault the performances at all, but as far as subject matter and scripting is concerned, I was just totally lost.

Moneyball was nominated for Oscars for Best Acheivement in Film Editing, Best Actor in a Leading Role (Brad Pitt), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Jonah Hill), Best Sound Mixing and Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay.

Tree of Life (2011) – Film Review

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I can see why many people think this is a life changing film. I can see why it inspires people to reflect on their own life and their place not only in the world. I can see that it is very, very beautiful. I still didn’t like it.

For me, this wasn’t a feature film; it was an experimentation in alternative methods of storytelling. Sort of. There wasn’t really a story, but an exploration of a life. Or several lives. I got somewhat confused between who I was watching at times, and why. And the whispering – it was like watching a Hungry Jacks ad from the mid-ninties. I could have used less of the whispering and even a bit less of the constant overpowering music. Whilst many people will find this a beautiful film that changes their lives, I reckon that there are equally as many people who will find this film wanky, annoying and far too long. But, if you hate it that much, even ninety minutes will be too long.

It would be beautiful to watch this film at an outdoor cinema in some gardens on a balmy evening with a lot of wine – unless you don’t like it. In which case, you may get kicked out for shouting obscenities at the screen.

It’s been a couple of days since I watched the film, and while I still didn’t like the way it was structured or appreciate the point of it, the beautiful images keep flashing into my head. And I’m enjoying them, despite myself. But one thing keeps coming back. What the hell was all that with the dinosaurs and stuff about? It was awesome, but why was it there?

Tree of Life was nominated for Oscars for Best Achievement in Directing (Terrence Malick), Best Cinematography and Best Motion Picture of the Year.