Thursday, 25 December 2014
Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Friday, 12 December 2014
Oh, and also, the second unit director on the Hobbit is also none other than the godfather of motion-capture, Andy Serkis himself. If you are at all interested in movies, you have probably heard people championing him for an Academy Award, first for Gollum, now for his work on Caesar. So in the spirit of a fair discussion, I want to put together the main arguments for both sides, pro and con.
Serkis himself has always stated that to him, motion-capture is basically a digital costume. He argues that he does the same thing other actors do, only his costume and make up gets put on later. There really is no point in arguing with that, this is the way it works. I would even go so far as to say motion-capture-acting is arguably harder in some aspects.
First, any actor, when asked will tell you that being in a costume is a huge help to get into a character. Playing Elizabeth Bennet gets a bit easier once you are in a dress that fits the period and on a set that is designed carefully by professional set-designers. In motion-capture, you have a grey motion capture suit with funny balls attached to it and a green screen. At least that is the way it used to be, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” was the first movie to actually take the motion-capture equipment, which is huge, on set, into the woods… and it was awesome. But still only grey suits.
And now imagine you have to become a dragon. No other actors, no set, just a director who tells you what’s good and what isn’t. The point is, everything has to come from your own imagination. That is insanely hard.
The second part is the kind of roles motion-capture enables. Acting students do a thing that is called animal studies, where they have to study an animal’s behavior and imitate it. Jack Reynor tells a great story about how he, pragmatically, as all his fellow students were studying monkeys or elephants, picked a turtle and spent the rest of the class being lazy. Because there really isn’t a way that this is something that would actually ever come up in a normal acting career, right? I mean, voice-work for sure, but actually having to play an animal on screen? Well, there is now.
For every great performance, actors look for a way into a character, shared experiences, things the actor can empathize with and then imitate. Well, what experiences do you share with an ape whose mother got experimented on, leaving you with a rapidly growing brain? Serkis had to look in completely different places for his performance than actors usually do.
So if motion-capture is like a good costume and is really as hard as I just laid out, (and please don’t take this as me saying normal acting isn’t hard in comparison, it really is) then why hasn’t Serkis got an Oscar yet? What is keeping the Academy from finally giving him the recognition he deserves?
Well, it’s basically one argument, and sadly, it is a very good one. It is true that you can compare motion-capture to a costume that is put on after the actual performance, but therein also lies the problem. If you put the costume and make up on digitally after the fact, what keeps a director from asking the effects team to change details of the performance? This reportedly happened on “The Two Towers” a few times, and that is an understandable reason to ban this from any best acting category.
However, don’t despair yet, as Serkis and other people working in the field are very aware of this concern and try everything to work against these allegations. For “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”, featurettes aimed at showing how closely the animators adhered to the original performance were released, showing Serkis and Kebbell (Koba) in their motion capture suits and their finished ape form, side-by-side. Of course, until they release the full movie in this format, there is still room for allegations of cherry-picking the moments that support their cause, but we can see a development into a good direction here.
Overall, I believe that we will see motion capture work being recognized next to conventional acting at some point in the near future. Will it be this season, for “Dawn”? I hope so, but I’m not putting any money on it yet. There are a lot of people arguing for it, studios, actors, directors and animators, but the opposition is still strong as well and their argument is a strong one.
Wednesday, 10 December 2014
Scandinavian thrillers are often hit-or-miss. They can either be boring, joyless affairs, painstakingly slowly dragging from scene to scene, telling stories that have been told one too many times. Or they can be breathtakingly dark, shocking and disturbing affairs, bleak in their atmosphere and not exactly life-affirming. “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” falls into the latter category, as does this film.
Our main characters are a work-a-holic detective, Karl, a man who has nothing but his work, and no joy in life, who neglects his son and spits verbal vitriol at anyone who dares address him, and his partner, Assad, a Muslim in a country that has some seriously racist tendencies. There is also a significant role for a female homeless drifter, whose involvement in the story ultimately leads to its chilling conclusion.
So we can check interesting characters, what about the story? A thriller without a good story doesn’t work, but luckily, this one has got you covered. While the story doesn’t necessarily impress by being unpredictable, it is not at all boring or unoriginal.
And what we see is portrayed in such a way that it grips our attention even if we expected it. This is one of the strength of those northern thrillers, they don’t pull any punches. None of the characters comes out of this with their moral integrity unscratched. Karl’s failures in connecting with his son are handled skilfully, no missed soccer practices in this film. There is a hint that Assad starts a relationship with the wife of one of the suspects. And Kimmie Lassen, the mysterious women, is unhinged and violent.
And that’s just our protagonists… the villains in this movie show such a disregard for life, it creeps you out from the first time you see them in action.
Overall, this is a good thriller, although it is certainly not for the faint-hearted.
Sunday, 7 December 2014
In the review section, we take a look at the latest movie news, from Bond to the Suicide Squad, tell you about the movies we've seen recently and give some recommendations for movies that you can catch at the theatre or on DVD.
Wednesday, 3 December 2014
Wednesday, 26 November 2014
Sunday, 23 November 2014
Once again, we changed the format of the podcast so you can either just listen to the discussion part, which deals with TV this week, or skip to the review section immediately, to hear about news and reviews.
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Tuesday, 18 November 2014
So an architect, a software designer, a psychotherapist, a violent drug addict and another guy time-share a loft... already looks like a bad joke, nothing to do here for me.
"The Loft" is a remake of the belgian film "Loft", by the same director, Erik van Looy, starring Karl Urban, James Marsden and Wentworth Miller. It revolves around a group of friends who buy the titular loft together as a refuge from their prying wives... and to have sex with random women. One morning, they find an unknown woman lying dead in their bed and now they have to figure out who did it.
This is a stylish movie. Nobody can take that away from it. The movie is all about sweet interior design, sharp suits and classy parties. It's got some pretty sweet camerawork, with a lot of extreme close-ups, emphasising the mystery aspect of the story, urging you to take a closer look.
Only if you do that, odds are you're not going to enjoy it. The story is so fragmented, in an attempt to confuse the viewer through structure. It works, but not in a good way. The movie basically consists of numerous flashbacks inside of flashbacks. The outer framework is set in the interrogation rooms of a police station, where the five friends are being worked on, trying to figure out what actually happened. Then there are the flashbacks to the same morning, when they found the body and debate who did it and what to do next. And then there are the flashbacks that go all over the place, ranging all across the last year, from the first time they enter the loft up to the actual deed that got them into this pickle. Those go completely unannounced, without any idea why they are important, who's telling their story now, or is anyone?
The movie clearly goes for a "Rashomon" style, hoping that you start to question what the different characters say, start being suspicious of them. However, it does such a poor job of laying out its Red Herrings, throws out all subtlety and puts up big neon signs instead that say: "Did you see that? Might have been him... just saying."
It also never follows up on any of the suspicions it so clumsily tries to sow. So when we find out that one of the characters does not have his key on him, the movie doesn't use that to build mistrust, but instead uses it for one quick burst of anger only to move on to the next thing. This actually happens for every single one of them, like clockwork.
And that's the next point... the characters. They are shockingly one-dimensional. Everyone gets exactly one character-beat and can then repeat that as many times as he likes. There's the womanizer, the drunk, and the white knight, you get the drill. I don't even want to put any blame on the actors, because it's very clear that there are simply no good characters in the script. The one who gets by far the most out of his character is Mathias Schoenaerts, who is an excellent actor. If you haven't seen him in "Rust and Bone", you need to check that film out, it was one of the best films of 2012. He plays the lowlife half-brother of James Marsdens character, a role that doesn't make that much sense in the setting of the story, but what he does, he does well.
My final point of contention is a bit more specific, going into the story. It's full of plot holes, but this was the worst for me. The movie features a main cast of maybe ten people. The wives hardly count, some of them don't get any meaningful dialogue at all. Instead, time that could have been spent fleshing out the characters is used on setting up this huge false lead. If you don't want to know, skip to the next paragraph, but honestly... so the flashbacks involve a lot of fancy parties, and on every single one of those, we meet either a corrupt city council member, a corrupt real estate agent or both. Might that be a part of the mystery? Well, let me save you the time, it isn't. None of it matters. And seriously, to get to that conclusion, you need about twenty minutes. By the third party, those two are set up as the bad guys so clearly that you know, if you've seen a single thriller before, that they are not guilty. But the movie goes even further than that. They aren't even involved or of any consequence at all. And that's basically the complete first half of the movie. None of it matters even one bit.
And that's about it. A stylish thriller that is not very thrilling and even less satisfying. Use the time that you could have spent on this to watch "Rashomon," a truly great movie that shows you what this movie wanted to be.
Tuesday, 11 November 2014
Sunday, 9 November 2014
We are also proud to present our new format. Yes, after a lot of consideration, between enjoying movie discussions so much and trying to keep the podcast under an hour, we just decided to split it, giving you about half an hour of discussion and about half an hour of news, reviews and recommendations. Today in the reviews section, Interstellar, dark thrillers, drama and an unlikely christmas movie. Listen Music - Listen Audio Files - Podcast #5 - DC vs. Marvel -... Music Hosting - Listen Audio Files - Podcast #5 - DC vs. Marvel -...
Saturday, 8 November 2014
Thursday, 6 November 2014
Sunday, 2 November 2014
Overall, as Film Noir deal in archetypes anyway, his character in my opinion could have just been replaced with some version of a femme fatal, whom this movie desperately lacks.
My final gripe with the movie would be that, in the hands of a more experienced director, there was a lot more atmosphere to be found in the material. If you are going to be as obvious as this movie is about what it wants to be, there is no shame in reflecting that in your style. What we get is absolutely serviceable, but nothing special.
Overall, "A Walk Among The Tombstones" is a fine piece of entertainment, different from what we usually get these days, and I want to see more of it. If there are going to be sequels however, there are still areas that need improvement.
Tuesday, 28 October 2014
I just came out of the cinema after watching "The Inbetweeners 2". Two weeks ago, I watched "Think like a man too". Both of these movies claim to be comedies. They do have all the stuff that makes a comedy too, I suppose. The Inbetweeners features four pathetic losers looking for sex. Sounds a bit harsh, but I can't put it any other way. It's American Pie with Brits in Australia. It's also complete and utter shit. "Think like a man too" is somehow even worse, a Vegas comedy that features Kevin Hart, a token white couple and no jokes.
Comedy these days has become the laziest genre in Hollywood. Even worse than Horror, which is already terrible. These days, filming a comedy means either having someone like Kevin Hart do a stand-up routine in front of a rolling camera or lightly editing a bunch of people improvising. There is actually going to be a rerelease for "Anchorman 2", same movie, completely different jokes.
That doesn't necessaryly have to be bad. "Anchorman" has a cast full of funny people, there is no denying that. If it works, it works. But sadly, most of the time it doesn't, and even then, it's still lazy. Yes, Kevin Hart may be a funny guy, but seeing him in a movie reminds me of Chris Rock. He's rather funny in the movies he's in, but in the end, it's just an extrapolation of his on-stage persona, which is a million times funnier. To make a really funny movie, you need more than a funny actor.
You need a funny director, a funny screenwriter, a funny soundguy, a funny props department. In every other genre it seems to be understood that a movie is more than just the person on-screen. Most comedies these days forget that.
Now I don't expect every director to be Edgar Wright, who is the best comedy director these days, by far. But you don't need to be an expert in framing, the use of music or witty match-cuts. Just show a little bit more creativity.
There are still some people out there that make good comedies, and luckily they have great success doing it, so I'm not giving up on the genre. Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the Coen brothers, recently Martin Scorsese and arguably Quentin Tarantino all know how to amuse an audience with more than just a string of bad jokes.
At this point I could list some of those ways, but someone else, who knows much more about movies than I do, has already done it better, so here's a link: Every Frame A Painting
Remember when we had movies like "Airplane!", "The Naked Gun" or "Top Secret!"? You might think these movies are pretty funny, but dated and kind of stupid... I know I used to do that. But then again, have you seen Scary Movie? You could go for the movies that actually tries to be inventive,
Compare this to this and tell me which is funnier.
So yeah, I'm done with boring comedies. The whole idea of the genre is to entertain, and if your movie can't manage that, then you should consider a different line of work Tim Story. And I know that tastes are different, but quality stays the same.
Sunday, 19 October 2014
Thursday, 25 September 2014
Apart from those two things "A Dame to Kill For" is actually a lot of fun. Despite being in it a little bit too much, Rourke is amazing to watch, Josh Brolin shows once again that whatever actor came before him in a role, he can match up to it. With the help of some prosthetic make-up, he even looks the part towards the end of his story. Gordon-Levitt has some of the best lines and fits the story like a glove. However, the real standout is Eva Green, chilling and dangerous, the epitome of desirability. Once again starring in an adaption of Rodriguez work, she shows once again that plays dangerous women like no one else in Hollywood.
Oh, and be sure to check out Cinemartians review over here.
Friday, 19 September 2014
Tuesday, 9 September 2014
Sunday, 7 September 2014
Friday, 5 September 2014
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Thursday, 4 September 2014
Friday, 29 August 2014
Also, if you haven't already, check out Cinemartians review over here.