Tag Archives: Movies

Movie review – Birdman

Well, that was a pretty exhausting couple of hours….

Birdman

Claustrophobic camera work, almost entirely in the dark innards of a Broadway theatre. Pounding drums and clanging cymbals a near constant sound-track. Intensely psychological narrative of an ageing movie actor, desperately searching for validation on stage whilst wrestling with his own alter ego.

This is not an easy watch. Last time I saw Michael Keaton was probably in Multiplicity, 18 years ago. A light comedy with a subtly heavier – almost Groundhog Day-like – message, he was cloned to help him cope with his busy life.

Since then, Keaton has starred in two Batman mega-hits, before opting out. Just like Birdman, although that was three.

So what’s real here, and what’s life imitating art?

This is a clever script, darkly acted, brutally directed, brilliantly shot and sound-tracked.

And it’s a lot more challenging than Multiplicity.

 

Adelaide – rooftop fun

Day 4 – Sunday, January 18

Chris, still with a vague trace of his Scarborough accent after 11 years in Adelaide, sucked in his cheeks when we said we were off to the Rocket Rooftop Bar & Cinema on Hindley Street. Like a dodgy builder quoting for your extension

“Are we too old?”, I probed.

I’m too old”, he fizzed back. He might have been pushing 30. Gill and I have played around with the 50s for quite a while already…..

“Drug den”?

No reply.

We’d just enjoyed an excellent supper at Bread & Bone on Peel Street, an atmospheric laneway off Hindley in downtown Adelaide. Chris had served us B&B Burgers from the short but funky menu – top quality beef patties wedged into soft brioche buns, layered with smoky bacon, kewpie mayo, lettuce and crisp, vinegary house pickles. Nicely washed down with Napoloene apple cider, all the way from the Yarra. And enhanced by cool music wafting around the shabby chic industrial space.

The disconcertingly narrow entrance to the Rocket Bar was guarded by a polite but wide-pupilled doorman, and led to a steep, dark flight of stairs.

“So have you got a film on tonight?”. The website was somewhat unhelpful, advertising that The Royal Tenebaums would be showing on Sunday 23rd November. We’d been told about this venue by some German girls we’d shared a few drinks with on our first night in Adelaide, but the omens were not looking good….

“Yes. Two Hands“.

“Great. What time does that start?”.

“7:30, maybe 8”.

“And how much are the tickets?”

“Nothing. They’re free”. Curiouser and curiouser…..

We were back at just before 7:30. The scary first flight of stairs led to a scuzzy landing, covered entirely with fading posters of presumably old rock gigs held at the venue. And then to another dark, scary, scuzzy flight. And another.

You know you’re always told never to judge someone by the way they look? Well, I will never judge a Rooftop Cinema by its dingy entrance and shifty doorman again.

Sure, the place was a bit scruffy but, as we emerged onto the rooftop and into late evening sunshine bouncing across the Adelaide skyline, we took in the cocktail bar, sizzling barbecue and Corona sponsored blue beanbags, and all was well with the world.

The movie didn’t start until almost 9, but after a couple of cold beers, free popcorn and a wickedly funny tale about criminal Aussies, in the style of Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, we didn’t care.

Earlier in the day, we’d taken the tram to the seaside suburb of Glenelg again for coffee and brunch, before a pretty amazing 10 km walk to Holdfast Bay and Brighton Beach. The outward leg mainly on the elevated promenade, with the return stroll on the soft white sand, waves of the Southern Ocean breaking near our feet and breezes providing some small relief from the increasing inland temperature.

 

Movie review – Her

Wow, those actor types are good at, well, acting.

The same guy who was mesmerising as Johnny Cash in Walk the Line, and victimised poor old Russell Crowe in Gladiator, is unrecognisable as a quiet writer in Her.

A bespectacled and mustachioed Joaquin Phoenix plays Theodore Twombly, a master of words and technology who crafts romantic letters for others, while his own marriage disintegrates.

But he does find real love with his new computer operating system. Yes, he forms a deep relationship with the Artificially Intelligent Samantha, who caters to his every need and understands him in a way no physical woman can. Understandable perhaps when voiced by a throatily sexy Scarlett Johansson.

I won’t spoil the way the story develops, but Her is a perceptive allegory for our technologically driven lives, and wholly believable despite the outwardly far-fetched proposition. Well, almost.

Directed by Spike Jonze, with outstanding urban cinematography by Hoyte van Hoytema and a brilliantly evocative soundtrack from Arcade Fire, this is a thought provoking film that will make you look at your computer with new eyes. And want to upgrade your operating system.

Movie review – Paddington

How useful it is to have young nephews and nieces.

Without Ben (10), Jessica and Lucy (5), Gill and I would have struggled to fit the movie-going demographic at the 10:20 am performance of Paddington at Guildford Odeon on a Tuesday morning, just before Christmas.

I can see the lurid Surrey Advertiser headline writ large: Paedophile suspect arrested at Paddington performance in Guildford. Handcuffed and led away in front of the shocked audience – average age 12 1/2 – Godalming resident Andrew Morris (57) was heard screaming “but I really do like marmalade sandwiches….”

What a great film this is, no matter what your age. It will appeal as much to my generation, brought up on the Michael Bond book, as it will to the current crop of wow-me-with-special-effects-or-leave-me-at-home children, spoiled by ever larger budgets and CGI trickery.

Having been the subject of countless books and TV episodes, Paddington Bear is coming to the big screen for the very first time in a magical adventure film.

With an all-star cast acting alongside Paddington, Michael Bond’s beloved creation is being brought to life by producer David Heyman (the Harry Potter films, Gravity), director Paul King (Come Fly With Me, The Mighty Boosh) and the Oscar-winning special effects team behind Gravity, Harry Potter and many more.

I won’t spoil the plot. Suffice to say that it’s a heart-warming tale of a talking bear leaving his Peruvian jungle home and arriving in England, in search of a new life and marmalade sandwiches. But London is not as friendly as an old explorer had led his family to believe…and there’s also the wickedly glamorous taxidermist (Nicole Kidman) to contend with.

A splendid cast – of both warm bodies and evocative voices – gives the live action story a magical soul. And clever injections of verbal and visual humour mean it appeals as much to 50 somethings as to 5 year-olds. Really.

Grab a child – preferably one you know – and see it now.

Paddington Bear Movie Poster

Movie review – The Theory of Everything

Thanks to the Times+ we saw a free screening of The Theory of Everything in downtown Camberley on a freezing Monday night in mid-December.

It tells the story of Stephen Hawking and his remarkable life, largely from his wife’s perspective. They meet as new students at Cambridge and he first starts displaying signs of Motor Neurone Disease (aka Lou Gehrig’s Disease or ALS) very soon afterwards.

The prognosis is that Stephen will live for another 2 years. At most.

The story of their lives from this point is told in a remarkably moving, and understated, way.

The acting from Eddie Redmayne as Stephen and Felicity Jones as Jane is Oscarly brilliant, with very able support from David Thewlis, Emily Watson, Maxine Peake and others.

Not on a par with Bad Santa for festive film fun, obviously, but highly recommended.

Spot the difference…..