Tuesday, 22 February 2011

010 - Alien (1979)

Well I've now watched the first 10 films, I must admit that generally, I've been quite disappointed. Let's see how Alien faired against my ridiculous ideals...

Considering it was made in 1979, the realism in the Alien creature is quite astonishing. On top of this, the writers have devised an ingenious way to make  the story have a great deal of validity and raise many issues.

Sigourney Weaver plays the lead role as Ripley, third in command on a freight [space]ship struggling to gain the respect of the men working under her while her superiors are off the craft. It tackles the issue of humanity's reliance on technology - a man who turns out to be a military robot is jeopardising the lives of all aboard because Alien holds such military potential. Lastly, the whole situation arose from what could be a "right to life" debate - should the Alien's host be left to die in quarantine, or do they hope to save him and risk the lives of all aboard (the choice made is obvious because there would otherwise have been no film).

The creature of the alien itself is very well thought out. The first sighting of it is as a parasite attached to a crew member's face. This parasite is in fact not killing him, but supplying him with oxygen whilst also laying an egg in his throat. This parasite cannot be removed because all of the Aliens' blood is "concentrated molecular acid". The parasite eventually falls off and dies and the new host is left feeling normal.
This instills a clever "calm-before-the-storm" feeling within the film right before the metaphorical defecation collides with the metaphorical air circulation.
Anyhow, the chest of this now content man explodes and frees an alien that grows within minutes from a rat to an eight-foot monster by living on nothing but spacedust aboard the ship... The biggest downfall of this story.

The ending of the film isn't particularly clever either. An extra 2-3 minutes are added on purely to show the tiny pants / tight white shirt / errect nipples combo. Sigourney Weaver pulls it off quite well, but it's still relatively pointless.

Overall, not a bad film.

Alien on IMDB

My Rating

Up nextAliens

Monday, 21 February 2011

009 - Alexander Nevsky (1938)

Alexander Nevsky is probably one of the most entertaining and worst films I have ever had the misfortune to watch. If you really are dead set on watching it, watch it in a large group and feel free to leave the room to make tea / pour beer / do gardening / go on holiday. The chance of you missing any action, talking or motion in your time absent is very slim.

Set in 1252, the film was made in 1938 and is clearly a Russian message of "Fuck off Germany, we beat you 700 years ago and we'll do it again". Clearly, the Germans were less entertained that I was, left the room, invaded Poland and missed the ending of the film.

The film's ability to shock awe and disappoint are fairly equally matched. There are scenes of throwing babies - real, living babies - off cliffs towards bonfires (I hope someone was ready to catch it... But hey, "In soviet Russia.." etc.). There are battle scenes that could rival The Lord of The Rings for both repetitiveness and length of time wasting the viewers' lives. Last (but by no means of least importance) I don't understand spoken Russian and don't understand written King James' English (especially when badly translated from 'Rus').

The primary entertainment of this film comes from the adventurousness of the costume designers, who decided that gilt ravens claws, hands (Hitler salute style) and ice creams would look good as helmets. I believe they also managed an early Darth Vader look for the Teutonic leader. This outlandish headwear is the best way to recognise the characters, who all have long hair, beards and a monochrome complexion. Having said that, I'm not sure the film-makers managed to distinguish so easily as characters frequently died, and came back to life ("Ice-Cream Man" as we called him managed to die three times).

All-in-all, if you REALLY insist on watching this film, make sure you invite 5 or 6 patient friends, have plenty of beer and fair amount of mind-expanding drugs.
It would be irresponsible for me to recommend any of that, but it would probably be the best entertainment you ever had.

My Rating:
(Had I not left for beer)

Up Next:

008 - Aladdin (1992)

Making an American film in 1992, setting it in the Middle-East, having only Muslim characters is surely a recipe for discrimination and contention. Disney have a reputation of discriminating and must be rewarded for their lack of it in this film (despite several changes to original lyrics and lines). Cleverly, all of the characters have an aspect of immorality in their nature, but many of them make up for it with good cause and outweighing likable traits - possibly being a hint that despite the overwhelming belief within American society, everyone is different.

Although being aimed primarily at children, there is plenty of entertainment to be had by more mature audiences. This comes mainly in the blue smoky form of Robin Williams' Genie and Jafar's sarcastic parrot, Iago.

Being a musical is fairly cleverly hidden withing the storyline. I recently watched "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" and was disappointed by the way the story paused in motion for the duration of the song, however Disney manage to tell the story in a little more colour through the use of song whilst also pleasing musical lovers.

My Rating:

Up Next:
Alexander Nevsky

Saturday, 12 February 2011

007 - Airplane! (1980)

I don't know anything about this film, but I do know this; it's downright silly.

I'll admit I tend to be quite silly, and very silly from time to time, but this film is too silly - even for me!

The storyline is simple, the lines are sharp and witty, and the characters are incompetent morons. It's much the same as any other spoof comedy but older and more innocent by modern standards. Think Monty Python with American accents.

The story is a cliche-driven series of events seperated only by throwaway comments taken literally. It centers around an ex-military pilot scared of flying (cliche) who spontaneously follows his airhost ex-girlfriend on a flight in a bid to patch things up with her (cliche) when everyone on the plane becomes ill, and he must overcome his fear of flying in order to save the day... cliche cliche CLICHE!

This film had its moments, but overall it didn't hold my attention.

Airplane! on IMDB

My Rating:

Up Next:

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

006 - The Age of Innocence (1993)

The Age of Innocence is shit.

If you value your life, don't watch this film.

I thoguht about holding back, but I'm currently one hour and forty minutes through this film and have realised that I have forty-odd minutes left. I write this now because I may not survive to the end. My throat is becoming sore because I am attempting to remove my head using the sharpest thing I can find - my phone.

I think my hatred of this film stems from it being a period drama, and my prejudice against the genre.

The film centres around a bunch of posh yanks, who want to be English. They are primarily 30-year-old virgins who come in their pants at the thought of seeing a wrist. They talk, walk and live slowly, and the pace of the film fits accordingly. In fact, pedestrian would be an increase in pace for such a film.

I'm not entirely sure of the storyline as I got distracted by the social aspects of the lives of the flies in the room at the time, and fell asleep for 8 minutes (I think). Then again, 8 minutes is a short time in this film.

Anyhow, I believe the story is such;
A group of liberal aristocratic Americans who live their lives by social conventions and do what they;re expected to (no, I don't get it either) talk slowly for hours before a man who looks like a beaky cross between John Bishop and Christian Bale is betrothed to a pretty hot woman (who, because of the period in history is retarded). However, he loves a woman - whose face is not dissimilar to Kylie Minogue's had it been run over by a heavy vehicle with deep tyre treads - who is going to be divorced and thus hated by all in their look-at-me-I'm-so-English society.

The storyline is reasonably clever, where Johnstian Bishbale is stuck in a situation he can't get out of. It's a shame it's hidden by the underlying wish for the audience to suffocate themselves, because it's truly quite ingenious.

The film covers many aspects:
People trying to be something they're not - Watch The Great Gatsby instead (or better still, read the novel);
A film genre with typical gender roles reversed - Watch (500) Days of Summer;
A slow, painful storyline - Watch Coronation Street;
A slow painful death by boredom - Watch women's football.

My Rating:
- Purely for the mildly ingenious storyline.

Up Next:

005 - After Hours (1985)

Okay, I admit I cheated our own rules. The film was one hour through, and I had to leave to go to karate. I then watched The Age of Innocence and came back for the latter half of the film.

Martin Scorseseseseseses'ses After Hours is - if I'm honest - a bit mad. It's one of those intoxicated journey home films like Dude Where'd My Car, The Hangover and Harold and Kumar Get the Munchies (Go To Whitecastle).

What's perhaps more peculiar is how the story is laid out as a mixed up puzzle whereby the protagonist walks through the lives of several different people (mainly insane women) he doesn't know and meets under different circumstances. He starts in a cafe, where he meets a girl who gives him his number. Later he calls the number, takes a taxi to meet her loses his money and the rest just escalates as he is entwined in the melodrama of these people's lives.

It's not a film I'd recommend to a friend, it's not a film I'd watch again, but I enjoyed it from start to finish.
My Rating:

Up Next:
The Age of Innocence

Sunday, 6 February 2011

004 - The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)

For a long time now, I have believed that Blu-Ray is an unnecessary technology. DVDs offer better sound and picture quality than their Filofax-sized VHS predecessors. I don’t believe that they gained popularity because of their improved sound or picture quality, but because of the practicality they offered over VHS tapes.

For the eagle-eyed amongst us, Blu-Ray films are a massive improvement, but for people like me who need thick glasses lenses and can’t hear from spending too long in front of large speakers at gigs, the difference is unnoticed. On top of this, HD films will soon be available to stream online straight to your TV.

People will still watch pirated films recorded from the back of a cinema with people walking around in front, fuzzy picture quality and monophonic sound. If sound and picture quality were so important to us, the industry wouldn’t have any threat from piracy.

And so I mention The Adventures of Robin Hood made in 1938.
4:3 aspect ratio - Check.
Monophonic sound -  Check.
Papier-mâché scenery – Check.
This is proof that you don’t need a high budget to make a good film. The castle sets could easily have been lifted from Legoland (ok, I admit Legoland didn’t exist in 1938). The sun was always shining and because of the limited camera technology, the colours often made it look akin to Disney’s cartoon. What’s more, it’s only 51 minutes long – much less than the 6 hours they expect you to survive in cinemas nowadays without sacrificing any of the brilliance. I think the lack of multi-trillion dollar special effects actually adds to the fight scenes. The sounds are natural and often tinny. Many scenes where men are jumping from trees (which were easily 8ft high) are more realistic than modern films in their simplicity of letting men jump from trees rather than having multi-link supar extra scoobydoobalix (I confess I completely made that word up) wires and harnesses that can’t be traced by cameras. Even if you could clearly see a rope, it wouldn’t matter. Theatre is hardly renowned for its use of CGI, and it’s been popular for millennia.
The content, storyline and direction of the film were all impeccable - as can be expected from many films of this era. The quick-witted humour, the innocent and playful fight scenes, the natural athleticism of the actors and of course, a ridiculous disregard for health and safety.
The acting – and the casting - is perfect, the wit is perfect, the storyline works, Robin Hood wears tights and the chain mail is removed using zips. It may not have the realism of Ridley Scot’s take on the storyline, but I bet it’s 10 times more entertaining and will take nearly an hour less to watch.

Another point I’d like to make on modern films (particularly ones with Russel Crowe in) : (See video)

The Adventures of Robin Hood on IMDB

My Rating:

Next Up:
After Hours (1985)