“Eternal order is prescribed by the sacred engine: all things flow from the sacred engine, all things in their place, all passengers in their section, all water flowing, all heat rising, pays homage to the sacred engine, in its own particular preordained position”.
“A blockbuster production with a devilishly unpredictable plot”, says character Wilford in Snowpiercer. That is what this film, directed by Bong Joon-ho (Parasite) and based on the French graphic novel Le Transperceneige, also is. In this story, there is one post-apocalyptic world and one “self-sustaining” train makes it rounds around the world. On board are human survivors who are divided into strict social groups with one unfair regime governing them all. At the bottom of the social ladder (and the train), one can find the poor masses who are dressed in rags and survive on protein bars, and, at the top, there is the elite, consisting of a few individuals who ruthlessly preside over the masses, while enjoying the luxuries of life. When one man from the bottom of the train sparks the rebellious spirit in the masses, he does not even begin to imagine the complicated way to the top of the train nor what awaits him as he nears the real power propelling the train forward. Snowpiercer is not one’s ordinary action or sci-fi film; wrapped in philosophical reflections and delicately balancing humour and horror, and realistic action and allegory, the film defies expectations, requiring both a leap of faith and open-mindedness from the audience.
“They’re extraordinary, these special effects guys and stunt guys. To watch those craftsmen at work…There really should be an Oscar for stunt work. These guys are incredible and they’re so careful and so professional. And they’re artists. They do amazing things.” (Helen Mirren, British actress, quote taken from slashfilm.com).
The intention of this post is not to depress or offend anyone. As most of you will know, yesterday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts announced a new category of award called “Achievement in Popular Film”. My point is that, rather than devising this preposterous category, it would have been better for the Academy to finally recognise the invaluable contribution of stunt performers, who sometimes risk their lives to make a great scene for us all to enjoy. What follows are ten instances where the process of making an action film did not go as planned so as to demonstrate that film-making can be dangerous and, thus, the bravery, artistry and contribution of stunt performers (crew/coordinators) should be recognised. In no particular order:
1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2010) – DavidHolmes
David Holmes worked as a stunt double for Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) on the set of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows“. He was also a stunt double for Radcliffe on all previous Harry Potter films. He flew broomsticks being attached to wires, as well as performed various other “magical”, but dangerous actions. Tragically, on the set of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows“, when shooting an explosion scene, Holmes was thrown against a wall and is now paralysed from the chest down. He now races modified cars and has started his own production company.
“There is very little doubt that the forests cover traces of a lost civilisation of a most unsuspected and surprising character” (from a letter of Fawcett to the Royal Geographical Society, December 1921, Grann (2009) at 55).
Based on a great book by David Grann – “The Lost City of Z”, the film tells a true story of Colonel Percy Fawcett, an eminent explorer who believed that there was a hidden ancient civilisation to be found deep in the Amazon jungle and who vanished with his son in the jungle in 1925 while trying to prove its existence. This beautifully-shot film, directed by James Gray, tries to remain faithful to the timeline of the true story as it focuses intensely on the will and determination of Colonel Fawcett, played with dignity and zeal by Charlie Hunnam. The supporting cast is no other than Robert Pattinson as Corporal Costin and Sienna Miller as Fawcett’s wife, but the biggest appeal of the film is probably still the fascinating true story of one explorer on a mission to prove his cause. However, the film’s length is worrying (circa 140 minutes), and, although the film may shine sporadically as a “biography” film, it is largely disappointing as “a jungle adventure” movie. NB. As I will talk at length about the story, there will be spoilers.
Luca Guadagnino (“Call Me By Your Name” (2017) and “I Am Love” (2009)) is rebooting Dario Argento’s cult classic of the same name, and from the many plot similarities, it can be described as a remake (despite what actors may say). There seem to be both similarities and differences in the presentation: the music hints at the original, but some visuals are innovative. My favourite element here will be Tilda Swinton as Madame Blanc, a clever cast. It will also be interesting to see her character’s antagonistic tension and relationship with the character of Dakota Johnson. My concern is that I hope the film will remain dark and provocative with nice scary jumps, and not become too ridiculous. I am also disappointed with the cast of Johnson. She seems to be good here, but my belief is that someone younger with more remarkable features should have been cast in the lead role. Since it is Luca Guadagnino, a stylish and thought-provoking presentation is guaranteed. The original material is also intriguing, so it promises to be a good film.
Silver Screenings andWide Screen Worldare co-hosting the Time Travel Blogathon, and my contribution is the review of “Edge of Tomorrow“, a fantastic science-fiction film directed by Doug Liman and starring Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton and Brendan Gleeson. Relying on the now fabled “Groundhog Day” concept, “Edge of Tomorrow” is about a Major (Cruise) who is doomed to relive one particular day of the invasion battle with aliens until he is forced to find a solution to the infinite time loop and save the humankind from the destructive alien force.
Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
“The empires of the future will be empires of the mind” (Winston Churchill).
“What enables the wise sovereign and the good general to strike and conquer, and achieve things beyond the reach of ordinary men, is foreknowledge” (Sun Tzu, The Art of War).
“Edge of Tomorrow” is based on a 2004 Japanese novel “All You Need is Kill” by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. In near future, as Earth is being invaded by aliens, William Cage (Cruise), a Major with no combat experience, is ordered to go to fight the enemy as part of a landing operation in France. Cage is killed during the battle, but, surprisingly, finds himself again alive and well back on the day before the battle. The time loop then repeats itself, and every time Cage is killed, he again starts the day of the battle anew. Trying to get to the bottom of the situation, Cage makes an acquaintance with a Special Forces warrior Rita Vrataski or the Angel of Verdun (Blunt). Together they try to piece together the time conundrum and devise a method to defeat the enemy. As a time-travel movie, “Edge of Tomorrow” is simply great and it is fascinating to watch Cage waking up each day with the hope to make that particular day the one where he will be able to vanquish the aliens.
Kim at Tranquil Dreams and Drew at Drew’s Movie Reviewsare hosting this great blogathontitled “Ultimate 90s”, and I have decided to write an entry on Tim Burton’s “Batman Returns” (1992). It will be fair to say that I was practically brought-up on this film and, in many ways, this film reflects my understanding and experience of the 90s decade. Check out my review on Kim’s blogathon page or read it below!
Batman Returns (1992)
Three years after directing “Batman” (1989), Tim Burton came up with yet another Batman film “Batman Returns”. Visually stunning and well thought-out, the film is about the rise to power of Oswald Cobblepot/Penguin (Danny DeVito), who has been hidden away and shunned by society for 33 years in the city of Gotham. In his quest to become the mayor of Gotham, Penguin is unwillingly helped by a dishonest businessman Max Shreck (Christopher Walken) as the Penguin’s freaky followers intermittently wreck havoc on Gotham to discredit the present mayor and eventually make it look like the Penguin is fighting crime. Meanwhile, Shreck’s shy secretary, Selina Kyle (Michelle Pfeiffer), finds out too much about Shreck’s illegal activities, causing Shreck to try to get rid of her, and the result of his efforts is Selina’s transformation into a Catwoman. Bruce Wayne/Batman (Michael Keaton) is also not indifferent to the crimes orchestrated by the Penguin and is determined to stop the Penguin and his gang while having a love-hate relationship with Selina/Catwoman.
“What if you had to tell someone the most important thing in the world, but you knew they’d never believe you?” (Doug Carlin)
In 2006, the now lateTony Scottdirected a time-travel thriller “Déjà-vu”, starring Denzel Washington and Val Kilmer, presenting a story of A.T.F. agent Doug Carlin who starts to investigate the bombing of a ferry in New Orleans, but ends up embarking on a romantic time-travel mission to save the lives of many. Coming from a film director known for “True Romance” (1993) and “Enemy of the State” (1998), “Déjà-vu” plays all its cards right, and, despite perhaps failing to convince the audience of the plot’s technological advances, the movie still feels very “complete”, fun to watch and provides just the right amount of suspense to keep one intrigued until the very end. Read more
Directed by David Yates and written by J.K. Rowling, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” is a new film telling the story of Newt Scamander, the famous writer of the Hogwarts’ s textbook “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” in the magical world of Harry Potter. The film follows Newt as he arrives to New York City, U.S. with a suitcase full of magical creatures. When he inadvertently loses these same creatures, he incurs the wrath of the US Magical Congress, but, as it turns out, it becomes just one of his worries, as he partners with a Non-Maj (Muggle) Kowalsky and (ex)-Auror Tina to find his missing creatures. Especially stunning in an IMAX 3D, the movie is spell-binding, gorgeously portraying the wizarding world of the United States in the 1920s, and all the unimaginable creatures in existence. Recently, it has also become known that there will be four other movies in the “Fantastic Beast” franchise, all directed by David Yates.
Directed by Dominic Sena, “Kalifornia” centres on two couples and takes place on the road. On the one hand, we have an intelligent pair of up-and-coming journalists: Brian Kessler and Carrie Laughlin, played by David Duchovny and Michelle Forbes, who are in the midst of an important Serial Killers book project and who are eager to reach the coast of California in the hope of a better life. On the other hand, we have two beaten-down-by-life vagabonds: Early Grayce and Adele Corners, played by Brad Pitt and Juliette Lewis, who are easily labelled as “white trash” in the film and who are accustomed to the life of crime and delinquency, wanting nothing more than a ride across the US at someone else’s expense. A chance meeting between the two pairs sets an unimaginable chain of events.
For those who are unfamiliar with Sam Mendes’ work and its quality, ‘Skyfall’ may appear just like another action flick of some average quality, just another James Bond film full of the same old tricks recycled once again. However, this is the film of Sam Mendes, which means that this first impression is false. ‘Skyfall’ is a delightful surprise, which has the potential to exceed everyone’s expectations. The film is intelligent, stylish, funny and very well-acted. It is certainly better than the previous two films in the James Bond series. In this film, James Bond (Daniel Craig), badly wounded on the mission to Turkey and unfit for service, embarks on yet another mission to stop a former ‘00…’ MI6 agent from completing his evil plan.
David Cronenberg’s ‘A Dangerous Method’ (2011) is coming to the UK’s cinemas in February 2012, giving a good pretext to review one of the director’s most violent, action-driven and thought-provoking films – ‘A History of Violence’. Cronenberg excels himself in this film, blending a complex personality study and raw violence to a very satisfying result.
The film’s plot is straightforward. Tom Stall (Viggo Mortensen) is an ordinary, law-abiding family man who runs his own diner in a small town in the US. His settled daily routine changes when he involuntarily becomes a local community hero after protecting his employees from some vicious gun men. From then on, his family is stalked by members of an Irish-American mob who are convinced that Tom Stall is Joey Cusack, a man from Philadelphia with a violent past. His wife Eddie (Maria Bello), his son Jack (Ashton Holmes) and his young daughter all feel overwhelmed by the changes. After a shooting incident, whereby Tom kills one of the mob guys, Carl Fogarty (Ed Harris), Tom finally confesses that he was Joey in the past, but has left that life for good. Later, Tom receives a call from his brother Richie Cusack (William Hurt) telling him to come to Philadelphia to see him. Tom does just this, and after a confrontation with his brother, kills him. The ending, depicting Tom coming home from Philadelphia to find his family at a dinner table, is very thought-provoking because, although his children are seemingly prepared to forgive him, it is unclear whether his wife is capable of accepting him into her life again.