Sunday, 29 July 2012

Modern Classics - Pulp Fiction

PULP FICTION


1994

18

Directed by Quentin Tarantino

Starring Uma Thurman, John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson


Back from the weeklong hiatus with a review of another modern classic, Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction!

This is one highly rated movie and controversial in some ways because some people don’t see what the fuss is about, others say they like it because they feel like they should and then you get the people who absolutely adore it. You’ve probably guessed already, but we’re in the latter of the categories.

The movie chronicles the lives of two mob hit men, a boxer, a gangster's wife, and a pair of diner bandits that intertwine in non linear tales of violence and redemption. Jackson and Travolta are genius together and deliver some of the most quotable lines imaginable. Thurman is an absolute delight to watch and there is a stunning scene in Jack Rabbit Slim’s which is one of the greatest movie moments of all time.

If you’re one of those indie people who like film you're going to say you love Pulp Fiction purely because it's so highly regarded. So we actually admire people brave enough to say "no I don't get it." Because we forget film is subjective sometimes. Pulp Fiction may seem like 3 stories that are randomly hashed together in a film to some people. Whereas we think it's a modern classic because the stories are not random at all and the film is not so much about the watch and the briefcase.

By definition Pulp Fiction is lurid throw-away stories sold to make money and for cheap entertainment. So in the films case, the drugs, indignities, crime and gore is the type of thing you would find in these types of books but the film is actually so much more than cheap pulp fiction.

Take Jules' quote for example…

"The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee."

At multiple times during the film they are all the shepherd, the weak and the evil. The characters trade positions and the moral is that no one is any one of these things solely. At different points in the movie, all the characters trade roles. Notably Honey Bunny and Pumpkin are very much tyrants at the beginning, yet as a result of a string of choices, they are in a very different position by the end of the movie. Therefore the stories are not random but illustrate the point that we could all end up at the mercy of someone else and conversely, someone could end up at the mercy of us.

Now that may all seem like drama school rubbish to you, but the witty script, magnificent camera work, superb soundtrack, iconic acting and Quentin's trademarks are very hard to discredit. Pretty certain most of you will have watched this masterpiece, but if not: go for it, Pulp Fiction is not just a modern classic, it's a classic.


Have your say: favourite Pulp Fiction character? You know where to comment!



Saturday, 21 July 2012

The Dark Knight Rises - Review

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES

12A

2012

Directed by Christopher Nolan

Starring Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway and Tom Hardy


Eight years on, a new terrorist leader, Bane, overwhelms Gotham's finest, and the Dark Knight resurfaces to protect a city that has branded him an enemy.

The wait is over, The Dark Knight finally Rises. And it did not disappoint. The Dark Knight films have become, in our opinion, the best superhero trilogy yet and the latest movie is an amalgamation of this. It’s the perfect balance between Hollywood action and character acting; this is, and has been, Nolan’s greatest achievement. The action is necessary and artfully crafted, there’s none of those senseless explosions that go on in a Transformers movie for 90% of the time. This movie is visually striking, emotionally gripping and clever – Nolan is never one to placate the audience and people seem to appreciate that. The plot is as intricate and twisting as ever which makes for some magical moments of revelation.

The film loses momentum ever so slightly in the middle which makes the ending happen very quickly but that's splitting hairs. The Dark Knight Rises even surpasses that of its predecessor (The Dark Knight) because it largely avoided any of the slower bits in the second act. Now we’re not a review site who sit there and discredit other critics reviews because they are, of course, entitled to their own opinion. But would Christy Lemire quit harping on about the length, that’s not a reason to hate a film, how old are you? Anyone with an average attention span will have no trouble keeping interested. People are throwing around the word ‘bloated’ which implies boredom, but no one complained at Inception which was practically the same length.

The casting for The Dark Knight Rises was en pointe. It has to be said, when Anne Hathaway was cast as Catwoman there was a certain amount of trepidation that she would be right for this role, but really we’re sorry we doubted her. Selina Kyle was perfectly feline without camping it up, subtly sexy and down right captivating with her skin tight cat suit and seductive drawl. Nolan’s Catwoman bought a lot of fun to a film that is otherwise quite steely.

Tom Hardy once again has shown why he’s one of the most talented actors of the moment. Even with most of his face covered he managed to portray so much emotion through his expressive eyes. Staying largely true to the comics he was a true mercenary, with a colossal physique to prove it, and say what you want about the voice, Bane is marvellous. An adversary who more than matches Batman’s strength, intellect and unlike the undirected chaos of The Dark Knight, has a real purpose.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt was especially impressive in a non showy way. He really made Blake his own, and became more than just a GCPD cop turned detective. TDKR is not devoid of emotion either, which makes the film all the more worthwhile. Some of the most touching aspects of the movie come from exchanges between Michael Caine and Christian Bale - to find Oscar worthy acting in a superhero movie is a rarity, in The Dark Knight Rises it’s present in abundance.  

The plot is fantastically relevant also. From economic collapse at the Stock Exchange to talks of terrorism, The Dark Knight Rises is firmly placed in reality which is all the more impressive for a Hollywood blockbuster. And it's this grounding that resonates strongly with the audience in an admirable way. Again, Christopher Nolan has managed to create a film that is visually immersive, thought provoking and superbly entertaining. This is a solid task on it’s own but when you add to it the pressure to match the dizzy heights of The Dark Knight it seemed like this movie could only disappoint. But it didn’t. And he rounded off a trilogy in an immensely satisfying way that left no loose ends or unanswered questions. The spectacular score, acting, effects and cinematography make for a proper cinematic experience which you'd struggle to match. 

The Dark Knight Rises is truly a masterpiece, it's breathtaking, suspenseful and utterly blood pumping. It seems fair to say that The Dark Knight definitely Rose.   

Rating: 10



Have your say - Was this movie worthy of full marks? You know where to comment!

Click here to see our correspondence from the European Premiere!

Thursday, 19 July 2012

The Dark Knight Rises European Premiere

Yesterday, Amateur Reviews was lucky enough to attend the film premiere of the summer in London's Leicester Square! The garden's were decked out with a giant bat head, a flaming bat symbol, massive screens and even Bane's tumbler was there.

The stars were out in force although sadly Michael Caine and Gary Oldman could not attend. Tom Hardy was first to arrive on the red carpet with his fianceƩ Charlotte Riley at 5:15 sharp, looking dapper in a trench coat to face the rain, he proceeded to stay out for ages making sure no one went home disappointed. Charlotte Riley happily signed autographs with personal messages, while Tom signed and posed for pictures with all the fans.

Marion Cotillard and Anne Hathaway looked stunning and it was quite surreal seeing them both in real life! They are even more beautiful in the flesh. Anne Hathaway was especially chatty and spoke to some of the fans in our pen about her singing in Les Mis! Notoriously shy Cillian Murphy also was happy to sign autographs, although sadly we did not get one - but he did steal someone's pen! Also in attendance was Douglas Booth who is set to play Romeo in a remake of Romeo and Juliette, he was incredibly lovely and down to earth.

On the disappointing side of things, Christian Bale and Christopher Nolan did not approach to sign autographs or take pictures and neither did Morgan Freeman, but this was to be expected. As well as this Joseph Gordon-Levitt did not sign much which was a shame because we were by alot of his fans... But we were incredibly lucky to even see these starlets in the flesh!

If the movie in anyway reflects the magnitude of the awesome European Premiere, it is going to be epic! Here are a few of the photos we managed to take, as well as the autographs we recieved! This post is going to be a little photo heavy, but it's better to have too many pictures from the event than too little.


Outside the Odeon Theatre at Leicester Square

A bill board outside the Odeon showing a face off between Bane and Batman

The immense bat head that also acted as a stage

Fans outside the theatre

The flaming bat symbol

Sneaky walk down the red carpet while the barriers were being set up

Alex Zane looking like he's about to start Singin' In The Rain

Bane's majestic tumbler - a worthy opponent to the Batmobile!


The gorgeous actress Charlotte Riley talking to the fans

Tom Hardy mid interview

Not sure Bane would be smiling this much...

Marion Cotillard looking stunning

Marion Cotillard signing autographs

British actor Douglas Booth

Anne Hathaway smiling with the fans


Joseph Gordon-Levitt doing press (left) and Morgan Freeman (far right)

The stoic back of Cillian Murphy

Charlotte Riley

Tom Hardy

Marion Cotillard

Douglas Booth

Anne Hathaway


Tuesday, 17 July 2012

The Dark Knight Rises - NYC Premiere

Fan boys and girls, the time is nearly upon us! The Dark Knight Rises premiered in New York City last night to very positive reviews, there have been a few not so positive ones (yes, Christie Lemire, we are talking about you) but only time will tell if Empire's 5 Stars are accurate!

Here are some of the pictures from the star studded event on the black carpet to feast your eyes on...

Joseph Gordon Levitt

Villain of the tale: Tom Hardy looking dapper

Anne Hathaway aka Catwoman

Tom Hardy and his fiance Charlotte Riley

Bruce Wayne himself, Christian Bale

Marion Cotillard looking stunning in angelic Dior.

The legend Morgan Freeman

Christian Bale and his wife Sibi

Monday, 16 July 2012

Batman: The Dark Knight Rises

Just an update on what's in the pipeline for this momentous week! As you all probably know, the third and final installment of Christopher Nolan's Batman Trilogy graces theatres this week and as promised, we're going to cover it all for you. The New York Premiere is tonight and pictures will be up in due course. As well as this Amateur Reviews are planning on corresponding from the London premiere this Wednesday so will hopefully have coverage from there. Our review of the movie will most likely be up on Saturday the 21st so make sure you pop back to read the verdict! We will then be off on a week long hiatus, so don't be surprised if the blog slacks for a while - until then, enjoy all that's to come!

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Shame Review


SHAME

2011

18

Directed by Steve McQueen

Starring Michael Fassbender, Carey Mulligan and James Badge Dale



Set in The Big Apple, Steve McQueen’s second movie follows the life of Brandon (Fassbender) as he deals with sexual addiction and the unannounced arrival of his sister (Mulligan).

This film has been terrifically difficult to review for the simple reason that it’s partly fantastic yet heavily flawed, therefore it is very hard to come down on one side of the fence. But the verdict was eventually managed.

On the positive side of things, the acting is superb. Michael Fassbender is something else. His portrayal of Brandon is a lot more reserved than a lot of the roles we have seen him in previously and it was clear he was pretending he was okay to the world but inside he was falling apart. Steve McQueen’s artistic flair was greatly appreciated, call it showing off, but those long takes he does that last for minutes without cutting are very impressive. Watch out for a stunning tracking shot of a run through New York City which is absolutely stellar. A member of the viewing party however commented that artistic flourishes like this don’t actually bring anything to the movie, but that can be greatly debated. The sex is handled well and is almost clinical but this is not a sexy film because Brandon remains cold throughout and there is no indication of love in any of it.

But here’s the thing, the whole film comes across a touch pretentious, which people feel the need to fawn over. It’s not the fact that the movie is about the edgy subject of sex addiction, generally it’s the fact the film over indulges. Was there any need for Carey Mulligan’s 12 hour singing session of New York, New York? Arguably yes, but it did seem unnecessary. Shame relies on the concept, Fassbender’s talents and McQueen’s directorial skill. It feels like the story came secondary to this as the movie was just a sequence of events. Although maybe that was the point, a real insight into someone’s life?

Also, it does seem strange that it’s not even stated that Brandon suffers sexual addiction, he could be construed as being really horny! He doesn’t feel shame and his life is not exactly falling apart yet. But again, that may be the point: he doesn’t know that it’s a problem so it’s never acknowledged.

Yet despite the criticisms, Shame is immensely mesmerising, thought provoking and brave. People use the word brave with regards to cinema too often, but to have Mulligan sing the whole of New York, New York (although pretentious) is bold. And it’s courageous to have Fassbender engage in half of the things he does, but it serves a purpose. Shame is a searing tale of emotional pain and modern addiction which is more than worth seeing.

This film could be an 8 on an artsy day, but as it stands Shame gets a regretful 6.5. More story and less pretence would’ve been top.


Rating: 6.5

Harsh? You know where to have your say Amateur Reviewers!






Monday, 9 July 2012

Michael Fassbender to star in Assassin's Creed film


It’s been a while since a movie news post, however after hearing about this little nugget of goodness, now seemed like a prime time!

The Bafta-nominated actor Michael Fassbender has been cast in a film adaptation of video game titan Assassin's Creed. The X-Men: First Class actor will prove his talent has no bounds as he is down to co-produce the movie as well.

Jean-Julien Baronnet from Ubisoft games gushed Fassy’s praises by saying "Michael Fassbender was our first choice," and called him "extremely smart, talented, versatile and committed." That sounds about right…

If sales of the video game are anything to go by (more than 30 million copies sold) it feels like this movie may just be a hit. The game is about a family of assassins and their conflict with the Knights Templar, which spans the Crusades, the Italian Renaissance and, in a forthcoming instalment, the American War of Independence.

And just because we can, here’s a gratuitous picture of the man of the moment: Michael Fassbender.



Saturday, 7 July 2012

Friends With Benefits vs No Strings Attached

In very quick succession last year, movie goers were treated with two very similar movies about casual sex. First we had February’s No Strings Attached starring Natalie Portman as a highly strung doctor who embarks upon a ‘relationship’ with script writer Ashton Kutcher. Then there was September’s Friends With Benefits which chronicled headhunter Mila Kunis’ bond with Justin Timberlake in New York City.

We’re going to highlight the fact that, unless you dig rom coms like this, there is no need to watch both. So which one do you go for? For us, the answer is clear – but to prove why we favour one over the other, here’s a movie show down!

THE LEADING LADY
NATALIE PORTMAN vs MILA KUNIS



Both very attractive ladies, but Mila has the edge. Not even the edge. She wins by a mile. For starters it's hard to believe that Natalie Portman would embark upon such frivolous behaviour in the first place, but generally the role doesn't sit too well with her: Mila is far more at ease and funnier too.

THE LEADING MAN
ASHTON KUTCHER vs JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE



This one was a lot harder to call, namely because both men are equally good in the films. However Ashton may just have it because he has more comedy moments than Justin.

Friends With Benefits has best female, and No Strings Attached has the best male. So which film in better? Ultimately it comes down to the fact that Friends With Benefits is significantly more funny, hipper, less cringeworthy, and although no less predictable, it's all together more entertaining. Also the cast is much more impressive in F.W.B - Emma Stone and Woody Harrelson are hilarious. Next time your scrolling through Sky Movies, opt for Friends With Benefits as it has won the battle against No Strings Attached.

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Have your say: do you think this verdict is fair or would you have gone the other way? We'd love to hear your comments below!

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man Review

THE AMAZING SPIDERMAN

2012

12A

Directed by Marc Webb (apt surname..)

Starring Emma Stone, Andrew Garfield and Rhys Ifans

Rebooted, reinvented, rewritten. Just a selection of synonyms used by director Marc Webb while trying to avoid the taboo word in cinema: remake. But let’s face it, The Amazing Spider-Man is precisely a remake of Sam Raimi’s film from 2002. Many critics have claimed that it is simply too soon to reinvent the franchise already, and part of Amateur Reviews agrees with that. However, from a Sony point of view, it makes perfect sense. To freshen up one of the only Marvel superheroes missing from Avengers Assemble before embarking on a sequel seems like excellent timing.

The plot shares the main back bone with Raimi’s previous offering: nerdy school boy who lives with his Uncle and Aunt gets bitten by a spider and develops web slinging talent. The difference being that Webb has tried to focus more on the individual characters and look further into Peter Parker’s back story. Trouble is, a lot of these extra plot threads which seem to make The Amazing Spider-Man different to your generic superhero movie seem to be lost by the final explosive act. But credit to Webb, he has incorporated some of the quirk from (500) Days of Summer and the exchanges between Parker and his love interest, Gwen Stacy, really capture the awkwardness of youth.

Our two leads are superb. Andrew Garfield is great, given the fact he’s a lot older than a 17 year old, he is extremely convincing in his mannerisms and posture. We all knew his was a fair actor after The Social Network, but Spider-Man has cemented him as one of the most talented youngsters currently working in Hollywood. As far as comparing to Toby McGuire’s portrayal, Garfield’s Parker is a lot edgier with better hair and mad skate boarding skills: but the same character spirit remains. Emma Stone stars as Gwen Stacy, daughter of NYPD policeman who is hunting down her beau. Stone concocts her signature balance between sex appeal and goof ball, terrifically endearing. Rhys Ifans is the villain of the piece, and it’s hard to hate him, as he only goes off the rails as he is so driven to do good. Still, he’s nonetheless impressive and different enough from the Green Goblin to be original.

The Amazing-Spiderman, as a stand alone film, is cracking. Except the issue is it’s not stand alone. Every other week it seems a new superhero movie is released. The Avengers was one tough act to follow, and The Amazing Spider-Man was not dramatically better than its predecessor, not to mention Iron Man, Thor and Captain America. The Amazing Spider-Man lacks what Nolan’s Dark Knight had by the bucket load: character acting, breath taking action sequences, darkness and a complexly intricate plot. Even so, this is a quality summer block buster, with good acting and some striking visuals, it’s good fun and so very worth a watch.

Rating: 7