Month: August 2013

End of Watch (2012)

Much like Chronicle and Cloverfield, both of which use a handheld feel in their films, End of Watch is no different. It gives a documentary feel to the film, much like one of the many cop shows you see on the television. It focuses on two police officers, Brian and Mike, working on patrol in LA, mainly South Central. A place burdened with black and Hispanic gangs.

Brian and Mike (played by Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena, respectively) are first seen in action chasing down a car. Eventually when the car is pulled over, they are open fired on and Brian and Mike are only left with the option to kill them. After a few cases they are solved by the duo, it leads them into a trouble that involves them with the Mexican Cartel and the drug running they operate throughout South LA.

However, these are not the only cases we see during the film, the duo are seen reporting to cases involving missing children, but also saving children from a burning house. Eventually one of the cases see the duo rescue a vast number of people trapped in a house that would’ve been sold via human trafficking means. This starts the dangerous path with Brian and Mike and the Cartel. They are even warned by a very muscular man with a gun, that they’ll get bit if they keep “tugging on the tail of the snake”.

Eventually, Brian and Mike are ‘greenlit’ to be killed by the Cartel after their arrests disrupt the operations of the cartel. As expected, they are coaxed in by the cartel which leads to a shootout involving both parties. Of course, they’ll be no spoilers, but the ending is somewhat disheartening. Especially the closing scene.

What is rather enjoyable about this film, is the relationship between Brian and Mike, whom when not on duty spend an awful lot of time together. Not only are they partners, they are best mates. Sharing intimate details about each other’s lives, throughout there is repeated lines of them being brothers and doing anything for each other. Including taking care of the corresponding friends family should anything happen.

This relationship, coupled with the shot style (which I’ve always enjoyed, personally) holds the film together which doesn’t have a solid storyline. It’s very brief and very guessable. The film standing at an hour and forty minutes, much of the film is filled up with cases they take, that are connected with the Cartel, significant events in the duo’s lives, like the birth of a child and the marriage of Brian and Janet (played by Anna Kendrick). Other than that, screen space is mostly taken up by the conversations of Brian and Mike – mostly being about drivel that could be put down to improvisation. There is definitely an apt amount of crime and drama within the film, consisting of drive-by shootings and the investigations with dead bodies around them. Not forgetting the police officer being stabbed in his eye and someone nearly being killed by a Hispanic man. It’s all very graphic at some points, and shows that this could possibly be the real world of Hispanic gangs in LA. However, it’s an enjoyable film all the same if crime films are your cup of tea with a dose. Of graphic scenes.

3/5

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Untouchable/The Intouchables (2011)

Untouchable brings together the rather unlikely friendship of Philippe and Driss. The former, a vastly wealthy man bound to his wheelchair due to paralysis from the neck down, the latter a man from the projects. Philippe (played wonderfully by Francios Cluzet) is interviewing for a new carer, with the humdrum of people citing their references at Philippe, and Driss (Again a brilliant performance by Omar Sy), who looks completely out of place in the waiting area, storms in before his name is called. His reason? He is tired of waiting because he is simply wanting a signature so he claim benefit without any interest for the job that he is being interviewed for.

After leaving the supposed interview, an insight to Driss’ life is revealed. He goes home to the projects, a run down block of apartments, where he lives with five or six children running around his feet in a very small apartment. A woman returns, who is assumed to be his mother, is unhappy about the fact he has been missing for six months without hearing from him. Consequently, because of his actions, Driss is kicked out of the apartment.

Driss returns to Philippe’s house for his signature so he can retrieve his benefit, but he is shown around instead of being given his paper. Confused as to what is happening, when he meets Philippe all becomes clear and he is bet that he doesn’t last two weeks caring for Philippe. As it is mentioned that many of the applicants don’t even last a week. This begins their relationship, which shows change, at the beginning a melancholy looking Philippe, is now smiling and laughing with Driss as the rest of the story unfolds. The significance in this relationship is highlighted when Philippe meets with a friend, and says Driss will offer him no pity and Philippe counters that is exactly what he wants.

“That’s exactly it. That’s what I want. No pity.”

Regardless of these ideas that street guys will offer him no pity, Driss becomes compassionate towards Philippe, and genuinely caring for the man. But not only for Philippe, he starts to care for Elisa and her problems, urging Yvonne to try and enjoy herself, especially with the gardener. The companionship that Philippe and Driss form is a real human spirit triumph, in the sense two people from opposite ends of the spectrum can form a bond that good, is impressive. They start to enjoy each other’s company to the point where they become friends, and share details about one another. Ultimately they have a lasting effect on one another.

This effect is that the pair try new things, like Driss, after his earlier astonishment at a painting being sold for 41,500€, begins to paint himself. He manages to paint one and even sells it for 11,000€, with the help of Philippe, but Driss has an effect on Philippe also, with letter relationship with Eléonore. It seems odd to Driss how they only converse through letters, so being proactive, he phones her up and puts Philippe on the phone, much to Philippe’s dismay, but it begins the next step in that relationship. Now Philippe is constantly talking to Eléonore, so much so, that Driss comments that he’s a chatterbox.

The tale of this pair's friendship is wonderful.

This relationship between Driss and Philippe, has all sorts of value to it, but one of them is a comedic value. Mainly because of Driss’ mannerisms towards Philippe, from handing him the phone, to tell him he should be throwing snowballs back. But this involved with the real care that Driss uses with Philippe shows the relationship is something to be cherished also, as is evident when Philippe becomes melancholy again when switching through carers, after Driss leaves with family matters that need to be resolved.

It’s such a genuine film, and it being based on a true story (even though it would’ve been just as enjoyable had it been fictional) the film is such a feel good film. The relationship and bond that Philippe and Driss create and maintain is brilliant. The film all in all, is one to be recommended. The feel good fact of the story, coupled with the humour, the sensitivity shown by Driss towards Philippe regardless of the no pity idea is brilliant. And both of the main roles are wonderfully acted by Francois Cluzet and Omar Sy.

4/5

Chronicle (2012)

The film being at a whopping 80 minutes, it’s hard not to think “I may as well give it a watch”. This is what happened and after hearing good things about the film from various people intrigued me more. It being on demand for my convenience too also helps things.

Chronicle begins with Andrew Detmer (played by Dane DeHaan) looking into a mirror through a camera which is filming and we hear his father trying to get through the door. He then films his mother, who is ill in her bed. Ultimately this first, 10 or so minutes are more about their characters, Andrew the one getting bullied at school, who avoids parties and drinking. His cousin, Matt, the one telling him about parties and what not, it becomes apparent that Andrew is a social reject so to speak, constantly getting bullied at school and getting into confrontations. At home, Andrew filming himself working on a light fixture, gets punched in the head by his father, showing his home lifestyle is no more glamorous than his school life.

After the party confrontation, Steve Montgomery, comes to find Andrew to film this hole in the middle of nowhere, with his camera. When in the hole, they find this crystal type structure which sends the camera into a distortion and makes the trio collapse and bleed from the nose. The aftermath appears to have given the three of them powers in the sense of controlling inanimate objects. Such as stopping a baseball mid flight directed at Andrew’s face. Not only this, they have become a close friendship group, which is apparent through a voice-mail left by Steve’s girlfriend. This show an improvement of life by Andrew, who is smiling and laughing with his new buddies and their powers.

Ultimately, this film can come under the superhero genre, because the three guys have these powers, of what is believed to be telekinesis. As expected, when the film wears on their powers get stronger, meaning they can control bigger things with more ease, and even begin to fly. Like in all movies with powers, there’s the good guy, there’s the bad guy. Unfortunately, Steve doesn’t fit into either category as he is killed by a storm. In the classic ultimate showdown, Andrew and Matt face off. Good vs bad. But I won’t spoil which one is which.

Also, I spoke to people about the filming of Cloverfield and many said they disliked it, I really enjoyed it. Chronicle is similar in the sense that everything is filmed via a handheld device or camera, or police car cameras (in the finale, anyways). All this, tied into the around 80 minutes run time, has what it takes to be a good movie. Although some of the film is cliché in the idea of superhero movies, some of it branches away with a different ideal. As they don’t really intend to save anybody, they simply just have fun with the powers they’ve been given, like an odd, but fun scene where they are playing catch whilst floating in the clouds.

3.5/5

Pleasantville (1998)

I had previously watched this film before, but seeing it on LoveFilm I thought I would watch it again. And so I thought I hadn’t posted for a while, so why not post on Pleasantville. A rather peculiar film.

Now the opening shows us Pleasantville that David (Played by Tobey Maguire) loves to watch and in particular, there is going to be a marathon of the show which is set to take place the forthcoming weekend. Then the words ‘Once Upon A Time..’ appear before a coloured, very modern, school scene takes place which a very awkward David (Maguire) ‘talking’ to a girl, before it shows us that he’s actually some distance away from said girl, who is talking to someone else.

Some distance away from the Pleasantville lifestyle, three teachers are seen lecturing the class on the unemployment rates, sexual diseases and of course, global warming. All very real scenarios that the youth would learn about during high school. Later, whilst David is watching Pleasantville (reciting it word for word) in the background, his mother can be heard arguing about the custody of the kids.

As expected, David is not an only child, he has a sister, Jennifer (Played by Reese Witherspoon) who differs greatly from David, (She is popular, whilst David seems like a geek/nerd etc) as she is smoking and asking the popular guys out. David and Jennifer eventually collide about the TV about a conflict of their shows being aired at the same time. A rather odd man turns up on their doorstep and essentially puts them in the show, much to the shock of David and Jennifer.

The two worlds begin to collide as they enter the show, David and Jennifer, now in show Bud and Mary-Sue struggle to understand the society. This is begins in particular when Jennifer (Witherspoon) is on a date with Skip Martin (who is played by the swell Paul Walker), and it turns upside down when she decides to introduce him to sex. This begins a rumble in the jungle that is Pleasantville.

Also this begins what I really enjoy about this film, as when people begin to emulate the behaviours of Jennifer, colours begin to appear around Pleasantville. Which I must mention, is in complete black and white, including David and Jennifer. It’s an odd effect that begins with the youth that disappear down Lover’s Lane, as the they become accustomed with the image that surrounded David and Jennifer at school. As more of the citizens begin to succumb to the modern ways, plants, cars and other object begin to turn into corresponding colour.

As Jennifer refers to, the fire brigade at Pleasantville is useless, as nothing sets on fire, or burns for that matter. Until, in a very odd, cringe-worthy scene where Jennifer tells her in-show mother about sex and masturbating. Then, Betty tries this and upon climaxing, a tree sets on fire outside much to the shock of everyone. It’s a very odd, weird scene as I said, however in the next scene Betty has become coloured, after doing this.

As more and more people become coloured, the mayor Big Bob, realises this is an issue and decides to issue a code of conduct in which people are banned from visiting Lover’s Lane, playing certain music, and of course painting with colours. The scenes that continue are very reminiscent of say, the blacks vs whites riots, for example the courtroom with the colours upstairs and the others downstairs and also, shops turning away any citizens that are coloured. Peculiarly during all, only significant events colour David and Jennifer. And these events, coupled with what colours everyone else, leads me to believe that people are only coloured when they feel alive, or feel different about themselves. In essence have a new lease of life makes the people change colour. For example, Jennifer wakes up coloured when she has spent all night, reading and studying, which is an opposite of her character in the real world.

Ultimately, it’s an enjoyable watch regardless and one I would definitely recommend, especially as this is an easy watch. And if you want to see a sure swell Paul Walker, then you need not look no further. The story, coupled with visual effects put in place make it a solid film, but don’t me wrong, it’s not a must-see before you die film, just an entertaining watch. Nothing more, nothing less.

3.5/5