Titirangi Storyteller

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Posts Tagged ‘Violence

Doomsday

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Director: Neil Marshall

doomsdayposterAny minute now, the deadly ‘Reaper’ virus will strike Glasgow. London will respond by rebuilding Hadrian’s wall, abandoning Scotland it to its fate. Few will escape. Life will go on…

…Until the Reaper mysteriously resurfaces in London in 27 years. A team of crack military scientists, headed up by uber-fit Eden Sinclair (Rhona Mitra, Boston Legal), will venture into that forsaken territory in search of survivors whose blood will contain antibodies to be used as basis for a cure.

When they arrive they will find a land ruled by opposing factions – one group gone back to its medieval roots reoccupying castles and eking out a subsistence living, headed up by a psychotic Malcolm MacDowell.

doomsday_viperThe other has taken refuge in cannibalistic 1980’s disco-punk, led by MacDowell’s psychopathic son Sol (Craig Conway) who pales beside uber-girlfriend, Viper (South African stuntwoman Lee-Anne Liebenberg, virtually stealing the flick in her first feature role).

Anyone for a barbecue?

doomsday32This B-grade splatter-fest rips directly from nearly every post-apocalypse flick ever made, most notably 28 Days (2000), the Mad Max trilogy (1979-85) and Escape From New York (1981).

Where did they get those weapons? The petrol? Who’s growing food? Providing the drugs? Designing those fabulous outfits?

Who cares???

doomsday4Terrible, nonsensical, full of plot holes – but anyone who loves a good yarn with the sound turned up to 11 will not be able to tear their eyes away. In the spectacular final car chase, set to with Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Two Tribes”, Mitra drives a sports car through a bus, and I was cheering them on. Neil Marshall has stripped this flick down to the bare essentials – sex, drugs and rock’n’roll… It’s got  no class – but it’s got style and guts and a vision of the future no worse than the latest swine flu scare-mongers have got on offer. Bring it on!

Special features include three making-of featurettes and an entertaining commentary.

Written by Titirangi Storyteller

13/05/2009 at 12:13 pm

Lust, Caution

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untitledAng Lee is one of the few directors who can tackle virtually any genre, and with a few exceptions (2003’s The Hulk leaps to mind) come up with something marvellous if not exceptional (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, 2000,  Brokeback Mountain, 2005).

Lust, Caution is a slow-burning thriller set in WWII Japanese-occupied Shanghai and Hong Kong.

Wong Chia Chi (27 year-old Wei Tang in her film debut) is university freshman, abandoned by her father, and living with relatives. She has no sense of belonging – anywhere or to anyone. She joins a drama group who long to be part of the Chinese resistance and discovers an unknown talent..

lc11When the troup’s plan grows grander, she agrees to take on the role of a lifetime – seducing Mr Yee (Tony Leung), a corrupt government minister responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Chinese resisters. She will lure him away from his heavily armed security, so he can be assassinated.

This means Chia Chi must learn to dress, speak and also perform sexually – the way Yee would expect, not as a virginal university student. Of all the indignities she has to bear, I found this ‘training’ the most painful.

lc06Eventually she succeeds in her mission to seduce Yee, but any sense of control is immediately shattered. Though she never wavers from the purpose of her mission,  her encounters with the cruel and emotionless Mr Yee are the only time Chia Chi truly feels truly alive. She is longing for him as much as she longs to see him dead.

It is simply impossible to do justice to this film in a few hundred words. There is the complexity of Chinese politics in a time of occupation.  Chia Chi’s personal story. And then there is the issue of the thousands of women who’ve performed this wartime ‘service’ for their countries who, if considered at all, are more likely to be called whores than heroes.

At 2 hours and 39 minutes, Lust, Caution is long and the first half hour lingers over the manners and habits of the moneyed class. Joan Chen has a small but interesting role as Yee’s wife, caught up in gossip, shopping and mah jhong.

lc05Yet once the story begins to move it is riveting. The breathtakingly frank sex scenes (for which Tang was blackballed by the Beijing film industry) are unforgettable – and are the one caveat I offer before recommending this film. If you are even moderately easily offended, the sex scenes will likely take you out of your comfort zone – as much as they do Tang’s character, which is why they are entirely appropriate.

lc04Also included on the DVD – a making-of documentary with interviews with Ang Lee and the cast, including co-stars Joan Chen and Hong Kong heartthrob, Lee-Hom Wang. A truly miraculous film.

Written by Titirangi Storyteller

11/05/2009 at 10:21 pm

Pan’s Labyrinth

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untitledIt’s 1944, five years after the end of  Spanish Civil. The close of WWII in Europe is at hand.

Ten year old Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) and her heavily pregnant mother Carmen (Ariadna Gil) travel to a remote fascist outpost in the Spanish forest, where they will join her new husband, Capitán Vidal (Sergi López). A ruthless man, he is charged with dispensing the last of the rebels. Despite the risks to her health, he has insisted she give birth to his son where he is.

Capitán despises stepdaughter Ofelia, not least for her love of fairy tales. But deep in the woods, Ofelia has met a wondrous faun, who has given her three tasks to complete to prove her character. If she passes, she will be returned as a princess to her true home deep in the earth. Can she do it? Or will Capitán and the horrors of the real world devour her first?

pans_labyrinth_xl_04-film-aThis is one of those rare movies that pulls you into its heart so you share the suffering of each the characters. It is savagely brutal in the way classic fairy tales usually are, though this is balanced by the beauty of the otherworld.  (Note – this flick is much too violent for young viewers to handle! Don’t be misled by the little girl on the cover.)

pans-labyrinth-picsGuillermo Del Toro is a master of fantasy. In Blade II (2002) and Hellboy (2004) he brought comic book characters to life. Here he draws on his passionate love of classic fairy tales to create his own fantasy world, so delicately crafted the CGI special effects blend seamlessly and you are simply dazzled by all that unfolds.

pans-labyrinth-1The two-disc set is loaded with special features, including making of featurettes on set and costume design, cast and crew interviews, commentaries, storyboards and more. One of my favourite movies of all time.

Written by Titirangi Storyteller

30/04/2009 at 10:42 pm

New York, New York

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new-york-new-york-posterMartin Scorsese has made more than a dozen films set in New York, New York, but the one that bears the full name of the city was shot on a Hollywood lot – an homage to the MGM musicals of the 40s.
You can’t help wondering what he was thinking. It was 1977. The previous year he and Robert deNiro stunned critics and audiences with Taxi Driver and Travis Bickle’s improvised “You talking to me?” soliloquy. They return with DeNiro clad in oversized shoulder pads and spats, noodling a saxophone and bullying America’s sweetheart. This against a background of 40’s big band lounges and painted sets, with a full half hour of Liza Minnelli ‘starring’ in a musical movie-within-a-movie.
It bombed. The studio withdrew it, axed 40 minutes of music – and it bombed again. When it came to musicals, audiences wanted Saturday Night Fever or Grease. And if the story was brutal, Scorses himself had taught them to expect reality, not rough stuff mixed up in glossy sets and glitzy costumes.nyny3

30 years down the road, the timing of its release is irrelevant and Scorsese’s  musical passions have extended to docos The Last Waltz with The Band (1978), No Direction Home: Bob Dylan (2005) and last year’s Shine a Light with the Rolling Stones. He’s more than paid his musical dues and New York, New York is worth another look.

nyny5If it’s not one of Scorsese’s finest efforts, this movie takes chances, many of which play very well. DeNiro is loathsome as Jimmy Doyle, gifted saxman and borderline sociopath who sweeps the equally talented singer, Francine Evans (Minnelli) off her feet and marries her before she fully understands what she is getting into.  Their on and off-screen chemistry is palpable and much of their banter is improvised with the cameras rolling.

The two-disc set includes and introduction and commentary by Scorsese as well as interviews with Scorsese and Minnelli and the producers reflecting on what they loved about it as wnyny3_jpgell as why audiences hated it, alternate takes and alternate ending, deleted scenes, storyboards, a photo gallery and more. Best though, it comes with both the edited and original versions. If you’re a musical lover, glory in the Busby-Berkeley extravaganza. The rest of us however will enjoy studio’s cut much more.

Written by Titirangi Storyteller

29/04/2009 at 12:23 am

Shoot ‘Em Up

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shoot_em_up_movie_poster_onesheet83 minutes long, at least 60 of which are non-stop action! This tongue in cheek actioner starring Clive Owen, Paul Giamatti and Monica Bellucci is an assault on the senses, fuelled by a heavy metal soundtrack featuring Motörhead, AC/DC, and Mötley Crüe and barely enough plot to fill a fifth formers book report.

Owen plays Mr Smith, innocently waiting for a bus on a dark, lonely street when a labouring woman runs past, chased by a gun-toting thug. Dumping his latte, Smith follows them into an abandoned warehouse and rescues the woman, slaying the small army that is determined to kill her. Shell casings drop on her belly as she gives birth to a son. Smith shoots through the umbilical cord, snatches up mother and child and scatter-shoots his way out of the building.

shootemup2Unfortunately, mum takes a bullet in the head, leaving Smith with the newborn. Unfortunately, lead baddie Hertz (Giamatti) was wearing a bulletproof vest and rounds up a new army, which Smith dispatches as efficiently as the first.

For most actioners, this would be followed by at least ten or fifteen minutes of talk-fest back story. Shoot ‘Em Up is just getting started!

Baby is hungry. Smith heads to a brothel featuring a lactating prostitute, DQ (Bellucci). Servicing clients is one thing, but DQ declares nursing a baby is too kinky.

Hertz’s latest team of dead men walking convince her that Smith and bub are her best option and the mad-cap slaughter and mayhem continue as they discover why the baby loves heavy metal, who wants it dead and just how dirty American presidential politics can really get!

shoot_em_up_withTry taking this surreal actioner seriously and it’s possibly the worst movie ever made – nothing but gratuitous sex and violence. But Owen, Giamatti and Bellucci are first-rate actors revelling in a bit of low-budget fun. If you don’t mind the body-count, crank up the volume and lose yourself in its absurdity. It’s a sheer delight.

shootemup4Plenty of special features on the DVD, though I found I didn’t really want to dismantle the magic and find out how it was made. For those who do, there are interviews with the cast and crew, a look at the 200+ different kinds of guns used, an analysis of the endless stunts and commentary from the director.

Written by Titirangi Storyteller

26/04/2009 at 3:03 pm

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