Divergent (2014)

Directed by Neil Burger, starring, Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Jai Courtney, Miles Teller, Zoe Kravitz, Kate Winslet and  Maggie Q. A great war has happened and now a community has been divided into different factions. Tris discovers she is in fact a divergent, a rare person but one who does not fit into the new world.

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Robin Williams (1951- 2014)

 

Throughout my life there has always been that one source of absolute humour and kindness, the type that reduces you to tears and aching sides. Read more of this post

The Double (2013)

Directed by Richard Ayoade, staring Jesse Eisenberg and Mia Wasikowska. A government worker finds his boring life has taken a weird twist in the form of a doppelgänger  working in the same office. <!–more–>

The only information I had of this film previously was a short trailer showing a potentially clever film, experimenting with two people with the same identity, who not only appear at the same time but are also aware of each other.

So what could have been an intelligent idea, instead turns to a piece showcasing  boredom, depression and the how unoriginal everything is. What should be the pivotal point of the film is the Jekyll and Hyde, Fight Club type motive that the two characters portray which could be a more artistic view on the traditional story. However nothing about these characters is vaguely original which is as frustrating as it is predictable.

The only other frustrating part is that the vaguely interesting explanation that comes at the end, but by this point you are too bored and depressed to care about the characters nor to any explanation about why this has happened.

After watching this film, I looked at the reviews, wondering if the feeling of dislike was mutual. Only to discover how other critics are raving and praising this film, this is something I do not understand.

For the first thirty minutes of the film we are subjected to boredom, depression and even suicide. There is a certain artistic aspect of the film which could be interesting and lead into something more mysterious, a point we never reach and you are continually bored and confused at some aspects that make little or no sense.

Perhaps I have missed the point of this film, more maybe I have been a tad too harsh, if that is the case then comment below.

OVERALL ** Eisenberg and Wasikowska are excellent, but even they cannot save this depressingly dark film.

RECOMMENDATION-  Simply avoid this and watch something more meaningful and impacting.

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Directed  by James Gunn, Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker and Karen Gillian.

Marvel’s first venture into space, and explores the wide universe with its new strange mix of people.<!–more–>

Guardians Marks the first step into space and the last film to be released before Age Of Ultron and the end of phase two. Though we may have witnessed other worlds like Asgard, this really feels like the first massive space adventure from Marvel.

Over a year ago Marvel announced its next big idea, Guardians, to an audience who were some what unaware of the group of five, myself included. However having now read several volumes of the comics, I can see clearly why Marvel choose them and I admit they are now some of my favourite story arcs currently.

The translation to the big screen is seamless, Gunn has proven himself very capable, much like Whedon with the Avengers, of balancing and translating a group of characters instantly over to the big screen.

Indeed he has stayed true to the mythology of the comics incredibly well, achieving more then previous  previous Marvel Films. He has more to work with now as we go deeper into space and are allowed mentions of references to the comics which would not have been possible before, while exploring subjects only merely glimpsed or referenced previously.

Without giving any spoilers away though difficult. For those, like me, who have been watching this interconnected series of film, this is essential viewing as some very large moments happen here that can not be missed.

The casting is perfect, as each character is allowed to be portrayed very accurately from its source . The music is a key point of this film and is utilised perfectly and is a nice change from the music we are used to with Marvel.

Gunn is already confirmed for the sequel and it’s not hard to see why. Unlike The Avengers, Gunn did not have a chance to slowly introduce us into Guardians with a film devoted to each characters before seeing them together. However he managed to introduce each character without over shadowing another.

OVERALL ***** This perfectly balanced group of heroes shows to be one of Marvel’s best films and manages to both entertained and use the source material to its best.

RECOMMENDATION – Essential viewing for those following the expanding Marvel film universe, also excellent entertainment for anyone not familiar with them. However I would not bother staying for the post credits scene.

For those of you who are comic book readers and have yet to pick up and issue of Guardians,  I implore you to do so.

BoyHood (2014)

Directed by Richard Linklater, Staring Ethan Hawke, Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette and Lorelei Linklater. The story follows Mason from the age of 5 until 18.
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Under the Skin (2013)

Directed by Jonathan Glazer, staring Scarlett Johansson and following the story of a woman who seduces men by the roadside late at night in Scotland.

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Jonathan Glazer is a uniquely powerful director whose skills within films are outstanding and yet for some reason I had never heard of him. His only other piece of well-known work is the critically acclaimed Sexy beast. I was absolutely in awe of this film; both from a narrative point and from its production values.

Some might compare this to a film like Drive in the way little is said yet the film narrative and photography speaks volumes, I feel this is somewhat better performed.  Set in Scotland, Johansson’s character drives around picking on isolated men and easy targets to bring back to her ‘nest’. For me what was so striking about this film is it IS connected to some of the best and oldest stories; the mythology is quite clear with its connection to Sirens.

Sirens are mythological creatures from Greek stories. They existed out in the ocean and would seduce sailors passing by with their irresistible, however once the men dived into the water to swim to their prize the rock and rough seas would kill them. The sirens themselves would be beautiful voluptuous desirable women. Johansson is the perfect fit for such a character, with an hourglass shape and a very alluring English accent.

For a film containing a large amount of nudity, both male and female, it is refreshing that none of them are flaunting huge built bodies, instead they are all more realistic then we have seen in recent Hollywood years.

The filming itself is fantastic because it is so simple; these are not state of the art cameras but simple cameras filming incredibly familiar scenes around Scotland, thus drawing you in.

The narrative of the film relies heavily on the audience being able to interpret correctly what is happening as the script is kept to a minimal with rare moments of speech. This proves effortless because of the mystery surrounding the events at the beginning you want to know more and understands. Though towards the end it begins to tire and comes to a close becoming dull and repetitive.

Johansson is mesmerising in this, showing her true skill as an actress by being able to hold the audience physically with her acting.

I won’t pretend I understand everything that happened, though my comprehension of the film was adequate for my own enjoyment but for such a complex film I feel a lot of it should be left to debate and interpretation.

OVERALL***** An outstanding piece of cinema, that was unexpected

RECOMMENDATION – This is not for everyone.  Some of the scenes people may find too horrific to watch, though not violent it is the implications that horrify you. For a film lover, this is definite must watch as the skills presented here are fascinating.

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

Directed by Wes Anderson staring Ralph Fiennes and Tony Revolori. The story follows Gustave H and Zero Moustafa as two working members of the Grand Budapest Hotel and their many adventures during the war.<!–more–>

There are certain directors who have very particular styles, because of this you only need to watch the first 10 minutes of their film before you recognise that style and realise who is directing. Wes Anderson is one such director, whose clear styles and camera work have become his trademark as well as the general odd but lovely feeling you get from watching.

What makes this style so particular is its artistic flair without being over used or pretentious, despite the plot being some what mad.

In particular I find the camera work very clever, while a lot of the scenes are simply people walking through corridors the camera work allows the simplest of scenes to grab your attention. By constantly changing the camera angle this technique makes us keep watching, apose to long scenes with no change in camera work or point of view. It is because of this clever technique that the film never feels slow or boring, but always high in action even in scenes where people are simply being chased.

There is a total silliness to some scenes which instead of looking badly edited are actually incredibly funny because they are absurd, an example of such without spoiling anything is the chase scene.

For such a large cast with so much happening, Anderson manages to balance it all very well, and while it is a nice surprise to see Bill Murray appear, then leave it takes nothing from your enjoyment of the film. Possibly because  Fiennes and Revolori are engaging to watch.

OVERALL ***** There is a good balanced mix of humour and reality of the time this is set, but the artistic value and techniques used make this an excellent film.

RECOMMENDATION- If you have never watched a Wes Anderson film then you are in for a treat, then go and watch Fantastic Mr Fox, and if you have then this is one of his best.

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