DVD Library Mission #12 – The Rum Diary

I’m slightly concerned with the more roles Johnny Depp takes, the more he’s making a bit of a parody of himself. This film is okay; I enjoyed the lion’s share of it but it has a frustrating, unsatisfactory ending and does feel like it meanders a little too much in parts.

A fine choice for a rainy day viewing but don’t go out of your way to see it.

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DVD Library Mission #11 – Half Nelson

Oh, Ryan Gosling. The human version of a duckling (or in this case, baby goose) that turned into a swan. Anyone who has seen the pictures of Gosling in his Mickey Mouse Club days knows he was an awkward looking child but what a man he’s grown into. I don’t know a single woman who wouldn’t, and he has unashamedly the straight man’s allowable crush.

With that perv-ing out the way, I love this movie. Gosling gives such a subtly effective performance as Dan Dunne as does his sparring partner, Shareeka Epps. It doesn’t rely on any clever tricks of filmic storytelling or special effects, it just tells a simple story two interweaving lives and it’s lovely.

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DVD Library Mission #10 – Dredd

Maybe it works in my favour that it’s been so long since I saw the original Judge Dredd that I don’t really remember that much about it but after hearing some searingly harsh reviews on Dredd, I wasn’t expecting much. I bloody loved it.

It’s action from the get go and for a performance involving no use of the upper half of his face, Karl Urban does a great job with his perpetually down-turned mouth at being both menacing and slightly cheesy. Olivia Thirlby is one to watch – after her fantastic turn in Juno, she ups the ante as the rookie Anderson here. She was a very watchable face.

The film has a great villain and great plotting. I watched it in blu-ray and it was worth every penny – it looks beautiful. If you find yourself at a loose end one evening, I highly recommend it. After all, each film needs its own judgment time (sorry).

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Movie – The Place Beyond The Pines

Urgh.

I was so looking forward to this film. The critic’s reviews were all glowing, the cast looked incredible and the trailer was well put together. What can I say apart from it’s my first big disappointment of 2013.

The Place Beyond The Pines is mesmerising, in parts. There are 5 minute sections scattered throughout the film that caused such a surge of emotion in me that I tried to convince myself all the way home that they saved the rest of it. Sadly, they really didn’t. It feels overly long and it’s massively convoluted. I really wish the 3 screenwriters had picked one of it’s three sunsequent father and son stories, and really focussed their efforts on that. As it is, it feels like three half-written films thrown together to try and make one complete one. And it doesn’t work.

In between the moments of brilliance, are long stretches where I was bored; looking at my watch not quite believing that the 15 minutes I had just watched wasn’t an hour. The cast all put in a good effort – Bradley Cooper, for me, being more of a stand-out than Ryan Gosling who is billed as the star.

I’m in no rush to see it again. And to be honest, the more I think on it, the more I think I sort of hated it.

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Movie – Iron Man 3

I love Iron Man. I even quite liked Iron Man 2, despite its less than stellar reviews on release. I adored Stark’s 2 minute cameo at the end of The Incredible Hulk (Norton version). And The Avengers/Avengers Assemble was my favourite film of 2012. All bodes well for Iron Man 3.

It’s a good film. It’s fun, it’s full of action and much, much funnier than I was expecting. However, the switch from Jon Favreau to Shane Black is obvious from the get to, and whilst that’s not necessarily a bad thing, the very fact that it felt so organically different to Iron Man and Iron Man 2 jarred me a little. Once past that though, I had a good time.

It’s brave that Stark is so much more out of the suit than in it is this film. Despite the quick-witted writing and Downey Jnr’s typically excellent showing, I found myself urging the action scenes on. The ability for the suit to be put on and knocked off (very easily!) in individual pieces was exciting to start with but a little tired by the end. I did love all three villains and the supporting cast in Paltrow and Cheadle are strong in their own roles.

Enjoyed it but didn’t love it – a solid start to a year full of mega blockbusters that I can’t wait for (Man of Steel, Star Trek Into Darkness, Thor 2 just to name a few)! I definitely recommend you catch it on the big screen.

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DVD Library Mission #9 – Gattaca

Gattaca wasn’t overly well-received when released; I think mainly because people were expecting an action-driven sci-fi epic. Instead, what they got was a slow-burning thriller pulsing with heart. Putting the mis-branding aside, it really is a very good, and massively under-rated, movie about dreams, love and friendship.

Ethan Hawke gives an quietly emotional performance as Vincent, supported by a well case Jude Law; which is hugely complimentary coming from me as I don’t generally enjoy Law in anything. Closer is really the only other film where he sings off the screen for me.

If you’re one of those people that watched Gattaca once and was disappointed, I urge you to give it another go, casting any expectation aside. Despite a bittersweet ending, it leaves you full of hope and an appreciation for the basic good in human beings.

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DVD Library Mission #8 – Inception

When this film was released, it had everybody talking – critics and public alike, and the general consensus was that it rocked. I was less giving.

I thought the film looked amazing and it was led strongly by Dicaprio (to be fair, when is he not fantastic?) and supported by a stellar cast (it helps massively that I want to do naughty things to both Tom Hardy and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and a mahoosive girl-crush on Ellen Page). But too many holes in the plot niggled at me, and I couldn’t help but keep questioning why things happened a certain way and when. Now I’m certain that is in fact the way that the film is meant to make you feel but to me, it was just annoying. I left the cinema therefore feeling frustrated.

Having said all that, when re-watching this at home (on stunning blu-ray) I was blown away. It’s almost as if, remembering somewhat was meant to happen helped the film. I was more forgiving of the holes. In honesty, I didn’t question it half as much – I just enjoyed the ride and completely loved every second.

I also changed my mind about whether or not he’s dreaming at the end…but I’ll keep that one to myself :)

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Bookshelf Mission #5 – The Story of O by Pauline Reage

Holy cow.

Call me a prude if you will but this story shocked me to very core. Having finally made myself sit through the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy (and find them highly amusing if not at all sexy), I was told that for some true erotica, to turn to this.

That was quite possible the worst recommendation in the world. That is not to say this is a bad book. It isn’t. But I would never personally categorise it under erotica as to me, it isn’t remotely sexy either but for very different reasons.

Fifty Shades of Grey isn’t sexy because, in my opinion, it’s not terribly well written. The Story of O isn’t sexy because as I turned the pages, riveted mind you, I grew more and more appalled that any woman (fictional or not) would allow such things to happen to her as they do in this book; and not only that, but to take pride in these things happening. It’s entirely alien to me. But it’s written so well that I finished it, whilst still horrified, entirely believing that this sort of thing happens in the world.

Do not be fooled into thinking this is erotica. But do read it if you haven’t. It’s astounding stuff.

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Bookshelf Mission #4 – Hanging Hill by Mo Hayder

This is my first go at a Mo Hayder novel – they come highly recommended.

I found the book a bit hard to get into but once a couple of chapters in, it was all systems go. I’m not certain if this is a reflection on the writing but once all the various threads starting weaving together, I was so desperate to get to the end and find out who the ‘baddie’ was that I was speed-reading whole passages rather than savouring it word for word. I guess the gripping plot more than makes up for a willingness to not forego the actual text.

It’s a very clever story and keeps you guessing right ’til the end. The final few lines will leave you begging for more. I’m told it’s not one of Hayder’s best; needless to say I’ll definitely be giving her other books a go.

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DVD Library Mission #7 – Tombstone

I haven’t seen this film in probably about 15 years so I really had no memory of it. For some reason I had it in my mind as being fantastic…it really kind of isn’t.

Don’t get me wrong – it’s a good romp, if a little uneven in momentum with no real defining moment. The actors do just fine, with only Val Kilmir given some fun text to work with but nobody really shines. All in all, the film is okay. I certainly won’t feel deprive if I don’t see it again for another 15 years.

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