23 September 2013

Side Effects

'Ablixa', one pill can change your life - just be prepared to deal with the consequences! Side Effects I have to say is one of the top films of this year. With a fairly Hollywood type cast, Jude Law, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Channing Tatum and Ronnie Mara, my first impressions were that this is just going to be a bit of a standard film with the names of actors carrying it. However Soderbergh proved me wrong. This is a gem with a strange Indie type feel that keeps your eyes transfixed to the screen, because if you look away even for a second you will run the risk of missing something integral.

So...the narrative revolves around depression. Deep, dark places you can't get out of, but fear not because 'Ablixa' is here to save the day supplied by Dr. Victoria Siebert (Zeta-Jones). A new drug in it's first few throws of trials but nevertheless apparently it is fit for consumption after Emily Taylor (Ronney Mara) has a tumbling breakdown and takes it to see if it would help. Well it does to a certain extent - before she starts sleep walking (or sleep cooking should I say) and oh yeah ends up committing murder. Oh spoilers alert, I am sorry! And I really don't want to give anything away as I would be spoiling it. Put it this way as the plot thickens and you become lost in the chaotic minds of the depressed, the twists and turns that part away from the initial plot will creep up on you quickly. The camera work compliments this branch away from reality making you fully aware that there is a camera and it did take a crew to make this film happen. I think we have Soderbergh to thank for that providing us with that utterly independent quality that so much cinema lacks today. Browsing through Soderbergh's work, it is evident to see how the film unfolds, with throw backs to previous work such as Ocean's Eleven (2001) and the hospitalized scenes from the more recent Contagion (2011), but by no means does this man borrow anything from his earlier constructions. Side Effects show us what he can really do. Enough about the director - Rooney Mara steals the show for me and gives her a chance to act without hiding behind all the piercings and tattoos she had in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) and equally Jude Law delivers a solid performance that he is more than capable of.

A cinematic experience that will linger - 5 out 5 in my book. 

Directed By Steven Soderbergh
106mins, 15 (2013)  

American Horror Story - Season 1

American Horror Story first came to our screens in 2011, with a story-line following a selection of characters who are directly involved in the cryptic, odd and creepy happenings in an old, haunted house.  After Vivian and Ben Harman are trying to recover from an infidelity incident they move away to try and start over - well they certainly moved to the wrong location to try and solve their problems! Don't get me wrong the house they have found is stunning but after they find out that the house has certain history that they were not warned about things start to get a little bit weird.

So where to start? We have a gay couple who were the previous owners, who were murdered in the house. The original owners were con-artists who lured young woman into the house so a practising doctor could experiment on them and then a few more families who also came to an end under the roof of this house. And not to mention the fact that everyone's ghosts are just lingering (and linger they do) around acting like they are still the owners of the house. With all of this going on, it's no wonder that after all the tormenting from these spirits that the main characters go slightly loopy. And with this only being a ten parter series, the characters go pretty crazy, pretty quickly. Despite being a psychiatrist, Ben Harman tries desperately to fabricate an excuse for all these odd things that have been happening to his family but ultimately he starts to see that there is something very wrong about what's going on. We have a house keeper who is in fact dead but still doing the cleaning, who appears to certain men as a desirable, saucily clad young woman when she is in fact an old hag and not to mention that a few of his patients he is treating who aren't actually there! If you are a horror fan, then this is definitely one to watch, it is utterly clever and original with story lines that will shock and haunt you. With brilliant performances from the entire cast - catch this one along with the second series which is arguably on par if not more impressive that the first before the third season hits our screens.

Directed by Various People
60mins, 18 (2011)


17 September 2013

Cloud Atlas

'Our lives are not our own, we are bound to others past and present, and by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future' (Sonmi-451). 'Cloud Atlas' takes you on a meaningful, mesmerizing voyage through love, death, laughter and most importantly through time and space. Based on the 2004 novel by David Mitchell the film follows suit by telling the stories of six time lines; seamlessly. Yes, you heard me - six! I know what you're thinking and it is certainly a lot to take in on first watch but well worth the confusion and disappointment you feel upon trying to interpret what you see before you. 

Many have perceived the film as being far too ambitious and to some extend I can see why. I do agree that the Wachowski's (The Matrix Trilogy) took a risk by taking on such a narrative, albeit they pulled through without fail. The cast is full of sheer talent (which always helps) with the likes of Halle Berry to Jim Broadbent, not to mention Hugh Grant, Jim Sturgess, Tom Hanks and Ben Whishaw, who took on the task of this journey. Amongst all the costume and fantastic make-up and prosthetic's, everyone on screen took on each of their different roles making them their own and most of all we didn't get bored with seeing the same set of actors appear on screen. Over the course of the film we visit different years from the 70's to the distance future and are whisked to various locations around the globe (don't worry, I think we are supposed to feel left behind!), from the vastness of the South Pacific Ocean to a cannibalistic, post-apocalyptic Island; where would you believe the entire set of time-lines all fall into place. This is a complete play on the theories of past lives, the afterlife and most importantly Karma. As journalist Luisa Ray (Halle Berry) states; 'Ever think the universe is against you?' and I'm sure that most of us have felt like that at one time or another. The crux is that everything happens for a reason. With every step, every action and every word uttered they will ultimately affect the other lives that we are bound to - very interesting theory, thumbs up Mitchell (oh, not  the writers, sorry guys!). 

When I heard there were six time lines, I honestly thought it was going to be a complete disaster. Throughout the first hour I was tempted to walk out due to certain plot lines becoming tedious and almost felt as if I was being thrown around and deliberately confused while watching - and no one wants that. Then Alexander Berner the films editor saved the day providing us with perfectly timed cuts and parallel edits between different plot lines that really compliment and link each story. 'Cloud Atlas' is ruthless, comical and intelligent with an outstanding score that will linger. With some slapstick, laugh out loud moments, especially from Jim Broadbent, some teary eyed scenes and a not so Hollywood ending (without giving too much away) for half the cast I thoroughly enjoyed this, even if I was puzzled by some plot lines. Definitely one I will watch again, purely to catch everything I missed the first time round due to the sheer brilliance of such an idea  - certainly one to catch on DVD. 

Directed by the Wachowski's & Tom Tyker
172mins, 15 (2012)

16 September 2013


I know I'm watching this one after all the hype and I was genuinely excited to finally be sitting down watching it - but what a waste of time! It really was shameful! I hear that was the message of this feature, however it's the only word that springs to mind when thinking back to what I saw on screen and trying to make sense of it. 

Tell me how long can you watch a guy battling with a sex addiction for? There was no story line, at least there was no depth to the fair and far between sub-plots that I deemed worthy of having more time devoted to them. There is only one reason (that I can see) why critics were raving about how good this was and that was down to the wise decision to cast Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan in the leading roles. The performances that were given (dare I say it) out of this world - certainly Fassbender when he wasn't getting lost in a prostitute and speaking actual words. But truly magnificent effort on both parts. This film is certainly not a light-hearted - lets put it on and save it for a rainy day type of film, this has some pretty heavy emotive content, so I guess the script gets points for that. Despite the fact I said the performances are riveting there is hardly any dialogue. Independent films such as Drive (2011) and earlier on Malick's Badlands (1973) which were equally perceived well by critics and audiences alike had minimal dialogue and also set in a complicated but romantic plot line. Films like these kind of set a trend but sadly I think Shame could have done with a bit more speech and less time under sheets. Don't get me wrong the sex scenes you see on screen were fabulously shoot. The cinematography was astounding and certainly credit goes to the editor Joe Walker for creating some very serene and slightly on the crude side but tastefully done love making. There was just something that didn't ignite that cinematic or indeed independent spark inside me - glad I watched it but won't suffer it again.

Directed by Steve McQueen
101 mins, 18 (2011)