Film Review: Prisoners

2 Comments

There’s nothing like a thriller where Hugh Jackman goes mad, Paul Dano gets tortured AGAIN (what is it with that guy?) and Jake Gyllenhaal rocks an undercut to really improve your Tuesday night.  Plus, I had a choc top.  Winning all round.

Prisoners is based in a gloomy American town in the middle of winter, when Keller’s (Hugh Jackman) young daughter, Anna, and her friend go missing.  Assigned to the case is Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) who quickly arrests Alex (Paul Dano) a shifty-looking guy who was driving the RV that the girls were last seen playing on.

Only thing is, Alex won’t admit to kidnapping them – and he doesn’t seem to have the intelligence to pull off an abduction – and so he is released.  Unfortunately for him, Keller is certain that Alex knows where the girls are, and he is determined to make him talk – even if it involves severe torture methods (actually, I can’t really think of ANY torture methods that aren’t severe).

What I liked most about this film is that, while it was a thriller, and therefore contained far more intense acts, twists and bad guys then most kidnappings, it still brought up the horrific emotions that a person must feel when their child goes missing.  While most of us (I would hope) wouldn’t resort to the extremities that Hugh Jackman’s character did (e.g. water torture), his melodrama showed all of us how terrified and useless a person must feel in that situation.

What scared me even more is that it is so easy for a child to go missing, and wind up literally just around the corner in someone’s basement.  I’m relatively certain that this film went into production before the three abducted girls were found in Cleveland, but it turned out to be a lucky, if somewhat awful, coincidence for them that highlighted how close by a person may be.

Overall the actual production, acting and direction of the film was good, but nothing outstanding.  I always enjoy what Jake Gyllenhaal brings to a character, and while I’m a fan of Hugh Jackman, sometimes when he plays these roles he gets a bit ‘I am man, hear me roar’ (or turns into Wolverine, whichever analogy works for you).  And while the storyline was a tad predictable (massive rain falls, overcast sky etc), the ending did satisfy me and I didn’t feel like I was left hanging.

Perhaps most importantly, I thought this was a thriller that wasn’t too terrifying to detract from the overall storyline, and the questions and emotions that a topic like kidnapping does bring up.  Usually I get terrified at the drop of a hat, but Prisoners had just enough scariness to keep me on the edge of my seat, but enough thought-provoking aspects that I wanted to discuss and analyse it long after it had finished.

For anyone who is a fan of thrillers or of films that make you think, without making you think THAT hard (you know what I mean), then Prisoners is a film that I would recommend for you.  Probably not great first-date material, but if you have someone that you can easily hide behind during the more intense moments, then best to drag them along too.

Have you seen Prisoners?  What did you think? Are you a fan of jake Gyllenhaal or Hugh Jackman? What do you think of kidnappings that occur regularly in America?  Let me know!

Film Review: Les Miserables

21 Comments

Considering the film’s title literally translates to ‘The Miserables’, I knew I was in for a somewhat depressing 2 and a half hours.  And yes, turns out the French Revolution, while, ahem, revolutionary, also stemmed from a lot of people living poor, miserable lives.

Not exactly the cheeriest topic for a musical, but onwards and upwards, if not to please the late Victor Hugo, then to check out the always visually appearing Eddie Redmayne.

The Plot:

The musical is separated into three sections, dating in 1815, 1823 and and 1833.

The film begins with the central character, Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) being released by police inspector Javert (Russell Crowe) after serving as a slave for 20 years (5 for stealing a loaf of bread, 15 for trying to escape…unfortunate). However, he is put on parole indefinitely, and during this time he finds that he is treated as a social pariah and cannot begin a proper life for himself.  It isn’t until he hits rock bottom, stealing silver from a Bishop, that Valjean chooses to destroy his papers, avoid his parole and begin a new life for himself.

1823:

Eight years on and Valjean has become mayor and factory owner.  During a visit to his factory he witnesses a fight between Fontaine, who is sending money to her illegitimate daughter, and the other factory workers, who want her fired.  Despite being unfairly dismissed, Valjean fails to do anything about it, instead helping a man who is being crushed by a fallen wagon.

Driven by poverty, and her need to provide food for her daughter, Fontaine is driven to prostitution, desolate in what her life has become.  When Valjean encounters her again, she rages at him, accuses him of ignoring what occurred at his factory, and leading her to the life she lives leads.  In retribution he vows to take in her young daughter, Cosette.

1833:

Cossette (Amanda Seyfried) is now a young woman, who spends most of her time with Valjean, who is still in hiding from Javert.  When out one day however, she sights Marius (Eddie Redmayne) and they instantly fall in love.  Only thing is, despite being young and wealthy, he’s also leading a group to fight in the revolution.

Isn’t that always the way with love at first sight?

What was right:

  • The singing:  I’ll be the first to admit that at times I don’t really get the point of musicals.  So many of them have the problem of having a storyline, stopping and singing for no good reason for ten minutes, and then resuming the storyline.  And well, clearly my impatient self just doesn’t understand why (lack of fine upbringing I’d say, blame my parents).  This wasn’t the case with Les Mis.  While there was singing, in fact probably 95% of the film was sung, I wasn’t annoyed by it, and I think it’s because it was all relevant.  While there were the big numbers everyone’s heard before, with the full orchestra, choir etc, most of the time it’s them just singing their dialogue.  In fact, there’s rarely any spoken words at all.  Furthermore, Les Mis was the first film to be sung ‘live’ as in, shot, sung and edited, without the (heavily edited) singing put in afterwards.  While this did mean that often the actors didn’t hit the notes perfectly, it simply added to the realness and grittiness of the film, fitting considering it was set during the mid-19th century.
  • The editing:  While it was originally a book, Les Miserables is more well-known for its translation into a play, which director Tom Hooper acknowledged with his direction.  There were clear acts and scenes throughout the film, which added that extra touch, particularly combined with the aforementioned ‘live’ singing.
  • The acting: While people have said that some of the acting was melodramatic and over-the-top, I thought the actors were spot on.  It’s a musical about the french revolution, that’s how it’s meant to be.  OK, yes Anne Hathaway hammed it up for her approximate three scenes, and everyone is saying she’s gunning for an Oscar, but damnit, when you cut off all your hair, lose a tonne of weight, hold a note AND manage to express so much emotion simply through a look, then yes, you kinda deserve an Oscar.  Other notable performances were Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen, the cunning, comic and very awful inn-keepers, and Russell Crowe, whose portrayal of Javert just made me want to kick someone.
  • Amanda Seyfried’s singing:  Who knew this gal could sing so well?  And to think she was once known as Karen from Mean Girls, who couldn’t spell orange.  Bless.
  • Hugh Jackman.  Can this man do any wrong?  He plays a mutant with claws in X-Men and we loved him; he plays a playboy serial killer in Scoop and I loved him, and now he’s successfully won everyone’s hearts over as a filthy, gaunt ex-convict.  What a star.  And proud to call him an Aussie too.
  • Eddie Redmayne.  Oh hello.  While at times your singing was a bit off, and you hard it rather easy compared to the rest, Eddie Redmayne, I am a fan.  Basically, what I’m trying to say is that, I’m shallow, and you provided a touch of attractiveness to an otherwise very grim and dirty film.  Cheers.
  • Eponine’s character.  Considering she was the crazy inn-keepers daughter, plus she was in love with Cosette’s man, I guess Eponine was meant to be the ‘bad guy’.  However, I didn’t get this at all.  She helped out Marius when she needed him to, and led him to Cosette, despite pretty much breaking her heart in the process.  Can you imagine that?  Not to mention, despite being a woman who is a part of a truly selfish family, she is one of the first to lay her life down in honour of the revolution.

What was wrong:

Pretty much the only thing I had wrong with this film was that it went for 2 and a half hours, and my bum got really sore.  Also, while the film was depressing, at no point did I feel the urge to openly weep (a sign of a good heart-wrenching film). Perhaps this says something about myself (e.g. I have no soul) but I found there was something, just a touch, that was missing, despite the swell of emotions the film obviously contained.

 

Overall, this is a film I would definitely recommend watching.  The acting is superb, the song’s catchy and enjoyable, AND there’s eye candy.  In fact, I think I enjoyed Les Mis so much I may have to get my lazy bum into gear and organise to see it as a play.

Have you seen, sung or read Les Miserables?  What did you think?  Great storyline?  Too long?  Justice to the play or the book?  Let me know!

Director Profile: Christopher Nolan

10 Comments

I decided on a new segment for the blog, which basically allows me to wax lyrically about all the people in Hollywood I like.  Go with it, OK?  First up is Christopher Nolan, and really I should of titled it “Director, Producer and Writer Profile: Christopher Nolan” because this guy is a freaking superstar overachiever.  Seriously, can you imagine who was his best friend in film school?  It’d be like being Ron Weasley, except he probably didn’t get to end up screwing Emma Watson.

Moving on.  Christopher Nolan was born in London on the 30th of July, 1970; where he was raised by his English dad and his American mum.  Which meant he got to spend his days between London and Chicago; two awesome yet freaking cold and windy cities.  He went to university at University College London (UCL), where he was the president of the film society from 1992-1994, despite the fact that he graduated in 1993.  He met his future wife (who he married in 1997), Emma Thomas, there, and since then they’ve had four children together, and started their own producing company, Syncopy Films.

Now, onwards and upwards for the movie section:

Following-1998:

Nolan’s first feature film, which I admit I have not seen (bad film-goer *slaps wrist*), was done with a three thousand pound budget.  Read: artsy, cheap, yet freaking awesome (I assume, considering it kinda kick-started his career into motion…almost as though it was starting a set in motion…sorry, couldn’t resist).  The story follows a young, aspiring writer who takes to following random people on the London streets, as he continually struggles to come up with a story.  As in other films to come in his career, Nolan used a non-linear storyline to tell Following, which he filmed on black-and-white 16mm stock.  Nolan tried to film the feature with as little money as possible, so scenes were often heavily rehearsed before filming took place.  The film stars actors Jeremy Theobald and Lucy Russell.

Momento-2000:

And so the confusing, twisty film style of Nolan begins to take shape.  Momento, starring Australian actor Guy Pearce, follows the story of Leonard Shelby, a man who has anterograde amnesia, so basically he can’t store new memories.  The film consists of two sequences; half the scenes are shot in black-and-white and these are shown chronologically, while the other half consists of colour sequences that are shown in reverse order.  The two sequences ‘meet’ at the end of the film, producing one common story.

Confused yet?  That’s cool, most people still seemed to enjoy it with a 92% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, a $40 million box office taking, and an Academy Award nomination for both Best Original Screenplay and Film Editing.

Insomnia-2002:

Insomnia, which stars Al Pacino, Robin Williams, and Hilary Swank, is one of the few Nolan films that weren’t something brand new (we’ll get to Batman don’t worry), as it’s actually a remake of a Norwegian film.  Saying that, trust Nolan to re-do some obscure European film when he decides to re-make something.

Two Los Angeles detectives are sent to an Alaskan town (where the sun conveniently doesn’t set) to investigate the murder of a local teen.  Things quickly turn to shit though when one of the detectives ends up shooting the other (whoops) and is then plagued constantly by the guilt of it…and what’s worse, due to the constant daylight, he develops…insomnia. Duh. Duh. Duh.

Haven’t seen this one either (sorry), but apparently a whole bunch of people did, as it managed to take in $114 million at the box office.

The Prestige-2006:

Now THIS film I remember watching.  I also remember being really ridiculously confused for the majority of the film, but that could of been because I was 17.  Also, I was probably checking out Hugh Jackman.  The Prestige also stars Christian Bale and Michael Caine, who consequently went on to star in the Batman Trilogy together; with Michael Caine also appearing in one of Nolan’s later films, Inception.

The Prestige follows two competing magicians in the 19th century, as they try to one up each other with different tricks, which ends up spiraling out of control as they try to out-do each other.  Throw in Scarlett Johansson, David Bowie playing Nikola Tesla, and a twin brother and a whole bunch of dead clones and you have the plot line.

Sorry if I ruined it for you, but trust me, it’s nice to have a heads-up with this one.

Like in his previous films, the storyline is non-linear, but it also has the extra factor of using meta-fiction.  The Prestige was released a year after Batman Begins (which we will get to) and it starts to show how Nolan is developing as both a director, but more importantly, as a screenwriter.  Which shows in a later film he wrote, directed and produced.

Inception-2010:

When Inception came out, I found out it went for about 2 and a half hours.  So I didn’t see it.  I have a short attention span, and cinema seats can be really uncomfortable, and people don’t like it when you talk…anyway, so I only saw this film recently.  I think I had had about half a dozen friends threaten to beat me up so I did it.  Watched Inception that is, not get beaten to a pulp.

After watching it, I kinda got the point.  Inception, which stars Leonardo Di Caprio and Ellen Page amongst others (killer cast, I must say), follows a group of people who have the ability to incept dreams…where they can either find and steal ideas, or even better…plant ideas into that person’s mind.  Basically, a really tricky version of mind-control, that allows Nolan to use a shit load of special effects.

So what was so good about this film?  In short, it was something different.  In the past 5 or so years we’ve come across some amazing films, yet so many of them have been re-makes, sequels, novel adaptations,or ‘based on a true story’.  It’s hard to come across a story that is original but also freaking cool.  Can you imagine using people’s dreams for your own gain?  Can you imagine a world where you can’t determine what is real and what is dreaming, and more importantly, not caring?  Gah.

Plus, since it was directed by Nolan, who by this stage had a fair amount of weight behind his name, Inception had a pretty massive budget of $160…which meant, a helluva lot of special effects.  Not to mention the heavy-weight cast, that also includes Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Marion Cotillard…all of who went on to act in The Dark Knight Rises.

And it ended up pleasing both critics and film-goers; the film grossed over $800 million, and it went on to win Academy Awards for Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing and Best Cinematography, as well as nominations for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Score and Best Art Director.

THE BATMAN TRILOGY:

Batman Begins-2005:

The first of three films, to set up a legendary, and much anticipated trilogy (let’s be honest, the Batman movies before Nolan put his touch on them were awful), Batman Begins tells the story of how Batman became, well, Batman.  We follow Bruce Wayne be trained by the League of Shadows, and return to Gotham city where he has to stop Scarecrow (the previously mentioned Cillian Murphy) from infecting the entire city with fear.

Out of the three film, this is clearly the inferior of them.  Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it is a set up for things to come.  Plus, we get to see Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman act in the same movie together…seriously, does it get much better than that?

The Dark Knight-2009:

The infamous one.  The Heath Ledger film.  The film that made him go insane, take too many pills, and sadly end his life many, many years too early.  Yep, that’s the kinda reputation The Dark Knight had as it was being released.  And you know what?

It. Didn’t. Matter. At. All.

This film grossed over a billion dollars, and Ledger’s hands-down phenomenal performance caused movie-goers jaws to drop.  Including yours truly.  His ability to play a character who is so far over the edge, yet so evil, was dead-on.  Also, I would like to thank Ledger’s performance of The Joker, which was so terrifying, that it justified to the general public why I found clowns so terrifying.  NOW DO YOU SEE WHY?

The other aspect of this film that’s a stand out was the psychological storyline that The Joker put the residents of Gotham City through.  What would you do?  Would you kill one innocent (although, annoying) man to save a hospital full of the sick?  Would you kill a boat full of people on the chance that they might kill you?  These are the questions that are raised in The Dark Knight, which helps the film to stick in your mind long after it finishes.

The Dark Knight Rises-2012:

The finale. The big one.  The film that was 7 years in the making.  Sorta. And, dare I say it, the best film of the trilogy.  Yes. I went there.  As I’ve given more detail in a previous post, for me this is the best film because it encapsulates everything that’s good about Nolan as a film maker.

He uses a killer cast, full of actors that he’s used previously. Tom Hardy. Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Marion Cotillard. Anne Hathaway. And the heavy weights; Michael Caine. Morgan Freeman. Christian Bale.

He has the money to back up his love of special effects: it had a budget of $250 million.  So we got to see special effects at its best; a personal favourite was watching the football field collapse in slow motion.  Chilling almost, wasn’t it?

The storyline.  While it had its moments of sheer ridiculousness (broke my back recently, it’s all good, let’s just make this impossible jump almost no one else can achieve), it was also spot-on from a political and social perspective.  Social anarchy to achieve social and welfare equality?  It makes you wonder whether or not it’s possible, doesn’t it?

So there you have it.  The Best of the Best.  Which of Christopher Nolan’s films are you a fan of?  Do you think he peaked in his career?  Do you like his devotion to his favourite actors?  Let me know in the comments!

batman director-christopher nolan

In my mind he looked like Christian Bale. Apparently not-(image taken from http://www.masonmallory.files.wordpress.com)

Film Preview: Les Miserables

22 Comments

It seems that December 26, 2012 is the day of blockbuster films based on what many consider are the greatest books of their generation.  Great Gatsby.  The Hobbit: Part One.  And Les Miserables.

First published as a novel, by Victor Hugo, in 1862, Les Mis is considered to be one of the greatest musicals of all time, and has been adapted many times over for the stage..but yet, never, until now, for the silver screen.  Originally, way back in 1988 Alan Parker was considered as a director, but then in 1991 it was passed onto Bruce Beresford.

THEN, it ended up in ‘development hell’, and wasn’t considered at all until 2005.  Why the heck it took them another seven years to make the film is beyond me, but hey, that’s Hollywood for you.  But despite 24 years of stuffing everyone around, it may be worth it, since it’s being directed by Tom Hooper, aka the guy who did The King’s Speech.  So you know, he’s very English and proper and excellent at winning awards and what not.

The film stars Hugh Jackman, as Jean Valjean, after he is released from the Toulon prison after being stuck there for 19 years…for stealing bread (believe or not, this type of thing actually happened) and Russell Crowe as Inspector Javert, a police officer who is hellbent on getting Valjean back in prison (because we can’t have people stealing bread).  Anne Hathaway plays the famous Fantine, a struggling factory worker whose life basically turns to shit as she tries to bring up her illegitimate daughter Cosette, whose played by Amanda Seyfried.

The supporting cast also includes Helena Bonham Carter and Sasha Baron Cohen, both of whom I’m surprised to see on the cast list since it’s neither a Tim Burton film, or a film that involved pissing off millions of people.

Personally, I haven’t read the book (which I realise is pretty sacrilegious, but come on, it’s really, really long), or seen the musical, but I know the songs.  And while Susan Boyle will unfortunately always be connected to I Dream A Dream, there is no doubt that the musical score and songs of Les Mis are what carries it.  Despite the pretty depressing storyline (the title does literally translate to The Miserables), people are continually inspired by it.

So really, the biggest question is…can the cast sing?  In the trailer below we hear Anne Hathaway sing I Dream A Dream and, well…it could be worse, but let’s be honest, it could also be a lot better.  And can Russell Crowe sing?  Anybody know?  Worst comes to worse, we can ride on Australian pride whenever Hugh Jackman takes the screen.

Are you excited for Les Mis?  Do you think it will do justice to the book, and the musicals?  Do you think it will be better than The Great Gatsby or The Hobbit?  Let me know!

The Secret Circle

2 Comments

Here at Set In Motion we get a little bit excited whenever an up and coming Aussie pops up on our screens in an American TV show.  Partially because of national pride and partially because, damnit we produce some fine good actors (not to mention some very yummy boys.  Hugh Jackman, Xavier Samuel, Ryan Kwanten…).  And we’re extra excited at the moment because not only are one of our bright young things in one of CW’s new television shows, but it’s none other than Phoebe Tonkin, who plays the lovely Fi in Tomorrow, When The War Began.

Phoebe plays Faye Chamberlain in The Secret Circle, a new TV show created by Kevin Williamson, who is also the mastermind behind The Vampire Diaries (read: same sorta thing, cute guys, lots of twists etc etc).  This show is also conveniently based on the book series by L J Smith, who sounds familiar because she too is behind TVD.  The story surrounds a group of teenagers in the small town Chance Harbor in Washington and newly-orphaned Cassie who moves to the town after her mum dies.

So what’s the twist? Well…these teenagers are also budding witches, and now that Cassie is in town they’re circle is complete and they can get up to all sorts of voodoo.  Only problem?  Some bad guys (ie: the parents) want that power for themselves…to the point that they will kill to get it.

Da da dummmmmm.

Phoebe’s character Faye, while essentially NOT a bad guy, plays the rebel girl in the group and uses her powers for her own selfish desires which essentially leads to bigger problems.  And considering that Phoebe’s other main character to date was Fi from Tomorrow, When The War Began it’s nice to see her play the bad girl…and play it well!

What do you think? Have you seen The Secret Circle?

the secret circle

Naughty teenagers?-(image taken from http://www.spinoff.com)

Pay Up Or I’ll Chop You Up

Leave a comment

If he were in character, I’m sure this is EXACTLY what Michael C. Hall would have said when he started negotiating with Showtime people about his contract.

Basically, the man wants more money.  At the moment his contract with Dexter is set to expire October 2nd (when season six starts) so if he so wants to he could run away and never chop up a single bad guy every again (saddest. thought. ever)

For the record,  I looked it up and Michael C. Hall earns about $350,000 AN EPISODE (knew there was a reason why I loved him…)  Yes.  This is a huge, ridiculous amount of money.  But let’s be honest.  Actors are used to being paid a huge, ridiculous amount of money, and usually the amount is even more huge and ridiculous.  Charlie Sheen when he was on Two and A Half Men anyone?  (And just between you and me, let’s be honest, who does more work between Charlie Sheen and Michael C. Hall?)

In conclusion.  Pay up Showtime guys because I don’t want Dexter to finish.  Not yet.  I need to come to terms with it emotionally loonnnnggg before it happens.

But will Michael C. Hall quit Dexter?  Well…maybe.  At the moment there are rumours circulating that he is seriously considering taking the lead role in the Broadway production of Big Fish.  Supposedly, Hugh Jackman was the man for the role but he’s got other stuff he’s got to do (or something like that).

Now,  I understand why Michael C. Hall would be perfect for Broadway.  He can sing.  He can dance.  He can act.  Plus, look at him.  He wouldn’t even need to be able to do those three things.

But…if he’s on Broadway then he can’t be on my television screen, chopping up bodies.  And I don’t live in America so no Broadway for me.  Tough decisions…

What do you think?  Do you think Michael C. Hall should be paid extra?  Or should he return to Broadway?

Let me know!

michael c. hall

Stay on my TV-(image taken from http://www.sports.rightpundits.com)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 88 other followers