AN EMPIRE OF WORDS


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Shame (2012)

This film marks the second partnership of Steve McQueen and Michael Fassbender, but also Steve McQueen’s second stint at the helm of a film (excluding shorts, that is). His first tackling the extraordinary tale of the hunger strikes in Ireland, featured Michael Fassbender in the leading role. Again, Shame has Fassbender as top billing, as Brandon. Shame holds no bars and the depth and detail involved is not for the those who don’t enjoy graphic scenes.

The film opens on the regular routine of Brandon, waking up, ignoring the messages left by his sister and then engaging in sexual acts. Brandon is then called a disgusting human being, but this is during a meeting and not directly aimed at Brandon, but it sets a bar due to what Brandon gets involved in. He continues with this lifestyle, even sleeping with women picked up in bars in random places like an underpass. This lifestyle is all disrupted when Sissy (Carey Mulligan) comes to stay at his apartment for an indefinite amount of time.

Carey Mulligan's Sissy

Carey Mulligan’s Sissy

Brandon has difficult holding a relationship with Sissy and hiding away his addiction from Sissy, as she discovers his porngraphic material stash and him performing sexual acts with himself in the bathroom, a certain strain appears, but then it can all change when they both realise they need each other. To say Steve McQueen’s focus during this film is Brandon’s sexual addiction would be wrong. I would say, the focus primarily would be the strains that begin to appear with Brandon and his sister, and his colleagues as he tries to engage in a relationships with then.

In a turn of events, he does attempt to have a relationship with a co-worker, Marianne (Nicole Beharie) where Brandon’s true feelings surrounding relationships appear, as he believes it’s a unnecessary institution, whereas Marianne believes quite the opposite, despite this, they still seem to have an attraction toward each other. He attempts to expand this relationship but cracks and then ends up indulging in his addiction again. This marks a downward spiral for Brandon, and brings us round to the ending, which was a shock and untimely, but it fits in with the mood of the film.

Michael Fassbender as Brandon

Michael Fassbender as Brandon

The film holds its own at just over 100 minutes, but it doesn’t feel that long. We see Brandon’s privatised life at it’s height, then at it’s seediest and the film starts where it began, Brandon on the tube, staring at the same woman, however it is left to the mind of the viewer as McQueen never lets on what happened next.

Set in New York City, some of the films shots are full of beauty, this coupled with the films score makes the film nigh on perfect. However, that being said, this film will be like marmite for majority of people. I’ve read over reviews, some love it, some hate it. I for one, love this film and just think the whole package is brilliant. Steve McQueen makes this addiction that Brandon has, hard-hitting, almost revolting at the measures Brandon goes to fulfill his desires. Carey Mulligan’s role was played to perfection (and as an extra she sings my favourite song), but  I wanted to know more about the character of Sissy, my only imperfection would be the sole development of Brandon, but then the subject matter suggests why this was so.

My advice would be to take this film with a pinch of salt, as you may not like the graphic scenes that McQueen shows, but illustrates Brandon’s lifestyle, and this is what McQueen is trying to do, and the effect that this can have on his friends and family.

4/5


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Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013)

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and there I was watching the sequel to the first Anchorman that became a cult classic, with it’s quotable fashion and hilarious originality. Adam McKay directed the original project and what became an excellent partnership between Will Ferrell and Adam McKay. Fast forward to 2012, when the news of the sequel gained traction and it soon became a reality when we first saw the trailer.

Needless to say I was very excited. Anchorman 2 picks up a little way after where the first left out, with Ron (Will Ferrell) and Veronica (Christina Applegate) both are still presenting the news as co-anchors but they now have a child together and are married. Ron is fired and Veronica is promoted to the top bill, Ron is then reduced to insulting dolphins, until he recruited for the first of it’s kind 24 hour news channel.

Of course, there are new characters introduced throughout the film, as the sequel takes place in the big apple of New York and not the familiar landscape of San Diego. Of course, the old Channel 4 news team is re-recruited as Ron left for the big time. So of course, the originals are there Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), Champ Kind (David Koechner) and the seemingly overused Brick Tamland (Steve Carrell). A portion is spent summing up what happened to them and what they are doing now, Brian being the most successful, and Brick reading a eulogy at his own funeral. (Hmm.)

“You know what they call bats? The chickens of the cave”

The new cast introduced include Linda Jackson (Meagan Good), who is the African American running the show at GNN and seems intent on getting the point across she is a strong independent woman, much like Veronica in the first one, but more “full-on”. Jack Lime (James Marsden) the chiseled featured rival of Ron’s for the top spot in the news room. And of course, Brick’s love interest Chani (Kristen Wiig) in the overplayed scenes that just seem to drag on in awkwardness in times.

Brick with Chani in one of those awkward scenes.

Brick with Chani in one of those awkward scenes.

Standing at just under two hours, the film feels longer than that, especially with some of the long drawn out sequences, it doesn’t feel like we’ve seen, or what we used to in the first film. Most of the comedy is overused or reused from the first, like “by the beard of Zeus” is taken and reshaped many, many, many times.

That being said, some of the comedy is excellent in places, but this mainly brought on by Ron Burgundy’s on-screen presence, like his encounter with Veronica’s lover after they’ve split up. Some of the comedy I found came from the elements from the first one, but twisted, not simply reused. This film has a lot, and I mean a lot, of cameos, but it’s excellent. It works. My favouite has to be Drake’s cameo at the start of the film, for some reason it is rather enjoyable.

I started to dislike this film before it even had appeared in the cinemas, simply for the amount of press that was used. Anchorman 2 invaded the sports networks, websites (Even IMDb was changed to IMDburgundy), this amounted to the extent of not being able to escape the actual film. The extraordinary lengths they went to publicise this film, even Will Ferrell being in character to announce the official news of the sequel, to them doing interviews in character. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for this kind of stuff, but to when I can’t escape it, I’m not.

But I’ll end on a good note.

The Channel 4 news team are back together.. With perms.

The Channel 4 news team are back together.. With perms.

What’s an Anchorman film without the news team fights? This is where the majority of the cameos are introduced, which I won’t ruin as some are simply brilliant. As far as it goes, this film would get the King of Cameo’s award for this year, beating This Is The End. All in all, as far it goes this film is very, average. As much as I hate to say that, the reused jokes and the length, doesn’t seem to fit and doesn’t feel like the first. But that was always going to be difficult to contend with, right? It’s a bold sequel, because at times it is enjoyable, but I doubt I’ll be running out to buy this on DVD.

3/5

This post is my 50th on my blog, so thanks for reading and staying with me all this time!

Also, I’ve attempted to change my writing style, for those who are regular readers, do you prefer it this way, or the old way? 

Thank for reading, and if you’ve seen this film, did you feel the same way? Or did you enjoy it? Let me know in the comments!


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A Few Christmas Films

It’s getting to that time of year now, where we see the Coca Cola advert on the television (You know exactly which one I’m on about) and the Christmas spirit is starting to appear. Personally, movies have always been a source of Christmas spirit, so here’s three that I think fit that idea.

Home Alone

Who doesn’t love this film? Although it may not spread the Christmas spirit as much as the other films, it still works. Kevin, played the youthful Macaulay Culkin, is left at home by accident when his family leave for the airport in a rush for their winter vacation. This is when the Wet Bandits descend upon the neighbourhood and target the McCallister’s house. Harry and Marv (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern) trying to infiltrate the house becomes a hilarious mistake as Kevin bravely tackles life by himself and of course, defends the house from the Wet Bandits. At the end though, Kevin does wish to spend Christmas with his family which is a nice underlying story as they eventually do spend Christmas day together.

“You’re what the French call ‘les incompétents’”

Home Alone

How I’d Look Like Waking Up To Find My Family Missing

Elf

There is an incredible love for Will Ferrell dressed as an elf, roaming around New York looking for his real father in Elf. Buddy the Elf (Ferrell), is a child who crawled into Santa’s sack and has been living in the North Pole, however, due to his true nature, he is sent to New York to search for his father. Much like Home Alone, there is a lot of comedy, but the Christmas Spirit is found more in this film as Buddy continually makes Christmas an extravagant holiday and also bringing his family together for Christmas.

“The Only Way To Spread Christmas Cheer Is Singing Loud For All To Hear”

"SAAAAANNNTTTAAAA!!!"

“SAAAAANNNTTTAAAA!!!”

Polar Express

This is my personal favourite for getting me in the mood of Christmas. A boy, who is voiced by Tom Hanks (as most of the cast is) is questioning the existence of Santa but boards a train heading for the North Pole on Christmas eve. Ultimately the tale is his change from this boy who questions Santa’s existence, to a boy who believes in Santa and is rather excited by the prospect of Christmas. This filled with the songs during the film admittedly does give me that Christmas feeling, not forgetting the finale with the huge Christmas tree and the reindeer with the bells.

“To the North Pole, of course! This is the Polar Express!”

The Finale, Rather Colourful and Christmassy

The Finale, Rather Colourful and Christmassy

The Grinch Who Stole Christmas

I am of course, talking about the Jim Carrey non-animated The Grinch film. This one is one of those quotable films that I do occasionally enjoy to watch. It’s of course about a girl who is trying to find out information about the Grinch who lives atop the mountain looking down on WhoVille. The Grinch (Played by Jim Carrey) hates, loathes, detests Christmas and everything about it, when he finally comes up with the idea to steal Christmas from the Whovians. (Spoiler) He unexpectedly has a change of heart and ends up celebrating the holiday with the very people he loathed at the start.

“Oh the Who-manity”

One Of My Favourite Scenes In The Movie

One Of My Favourite Scenes In The Movie

A Side Note – I haven’t actually seen It’s A Wonderful Life, or Miracle on 34th Street, but I have plans to amend this tragedy. Honourable mentions for the Christmas films include Home Alone 2 (Of course), A Muppets’ Christmas Carol, A Christmas Carol and Love Actually.

Another Note – I completely forgot about Jingle All The Way and The Santa Clause. But I would never include Bad Santa as I dislike the film and all it’s cheap laughs, and I do not consider Die Hard a Christmas film in the slightest.


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Place Beyond The Pines (2013)

It’s the second partnership or Derek Cianfrance and Ryan Gosling after Blue Valentine (which I have not seen yet – I intend to though). This one is led by an bigger cast of Eva Mendes, Bradley Cooper, Ray Liotta and Rose Byrne.

This film can essentially be broken up into three parts due to the events throughout the film. The first act is probably my favourite. It opens with a wonderfully long, unbroken shot of Luke Glanton (Ryan Gosling) walking to his motorbike for his ball of death show. When he enters the tent it is clear he is a bit of a local celebrity with the attention paid to him, even kids call for his autograph after the show, which he signs Handsome Luke in block capitals.

This is where we meet Romina (Eva Mendes) a past fling for Luke, after the second night of the show, he goes back to her house to visit her to learn he fathered her baby, named Jason. Luke, faced with a dilemma decides to stick around for the sake of Jason. Needing money, he gets a job for minimum wage, but it not being enough he decides to rob banks with his boss, using his motorcycle and riding into the back of an unmarked truck. These scenes in particular are fascinating to watch.

Trying to provide for Jason, Luke and Kofi eventually get into an altercation and Luke is arrested. Which is odd, as when he smashes Kofi’s face with the tool, he tells them to call an ambulance and calmly waits for it to arrive, instead of making a getaway, like the outlaw he is meant to be.

“If you ride like lightning, you’re gonna crash like thunder” 

During his last robbery, Luke is chased down by beat cop Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper) who chases Luke into a house and has a standoff with Luke in which Avery shoots first, but Luke shoots back and fall out the window and is killed. Something I did not expect, as Ryan does have the top billing in the film. I thought that it would be the full film of bank robberies and Bradley Cooper pursuing him. This essentially ties up this first act of the film.

After recovering from his injury Avery is starting to be hailed as a hero cop, even though he did shoot first. But learning that Luke fathered a son, Avery begins to become visibly distressed handling his own son, and when his cop buddies come to his door, he learns something else about the force being corrupt, led by Deluca (Ray Liotta). Placed on the evidence room, as he is welcomed back into work, he is asked to help out guys by taking some cocaine from the evidence locker. When he tries to report the money to the police chief, he dismisses this and states it’s not his problem, but Avery’s.

Avery Cross

Deluca scares Cross into helping him get the cocaine which he responds with recording the conversation with one of Deluca’s buddies and takes it as part of blackmail and wants to be made assistant district attorney. An investigation is made into the police department and the arrests of Deluca and his crew are made. This would then end with a 15 years later where Avery’s son, AJ is now grown up and wanting to live with his father instead of his mother, who are now broken up. This comes at the time of Avery’s fathers death and we learn that Avery is making a run are attorney general.

The last part of the film coincidentally is about the two teenagers, AJ and (you guessed it) Jason. Avery finds out about their companionship and tries to immediately put a stop to it. AJ and Jason continue to be in cohorts, but only due to the owing of money between the two. Jason also learns about his real father and quizzes his mother on it too.

Now I won’t spoil the ending of what happens, but the third and finale is a probably the weakest part of the film and feels very, rushed. Overall, the film has a bit of everything. The action sequences from the bank robberies, to the drama involving Avery and the corrupt officials. As mentioned, the ending is probably the weakest point, as well as the story. The story is a lot of be dragged out over the 140 minutes run time.

If you’re expecting just a solid film of Ryan Gosling robbing banks on a motorcycle, then needless to say this film is not for you. It delves deeper, and the character development over time changes to suit the environment they are living in. AJ is a kid who is going off the rails and Jason can be seen as a kid who is already off them.  I largely enjoyed the fact that in the trailer, you saw Ryan Gosling robbing banks and Bradley Cooper pursuing him down and when watching the film there’s a lot more than what meets the eye. All in all, I enjoyed many aspects of this film, admittedly, it does wear thin entering the last half hour, but it is still very enjoyable.

4/5