Category Archives: Movies

Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell.

 

A book sitting on my shelf, waiting for me to read at my leisure, has now become must read soon. Because if it’s anything as good as this movie trailer suggests it may be, then Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell, could very well be the best book I’ve read in a long, long time.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9DhJsPW862k

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The Daily Whatever: On James Bond and ‘Skyfall’.

So now we know. After three years of negotiation, the 23rd installment of the longest film series in history is now in production. The “will-they-won’t-they” confusion is at an end, and by this time next year, cinema goers all around the world will be able to make up their own minds as to whether Skyfall is any good or not.

The signs are good. Daniel Craig returns to the role and will continue to add steel to the coveted role of 007. It’s my feeling that this will be his last performance as James Bond. Give it socks, Daniel! Go out with style.

We have Oscar-winners galore. Dame Judi returns as M (maybe her last performance, too), Javier Bardem will be the bad guy, and Sam (American Beauty) Mendes steps into the director’s chair. This should be an intriguing prospect. But something has me worried. Before the official unveiling of this project’s title, a Sky News reporter suggested that Skyfall would be concentrate less on action and more on characters.

To this I say: What. The. F**k?

This is James Bond, movie people. We fans want action, gadgets, girls and exotic scenery. Okay, the last two Bond films featured a return to basics form of storytelling. Nothing wrong with this. But the problem would appear to be preferring one style over another. I have no problems with intelligent storytelling; in fact I demand it. But if I want a spy story that explores the nature of the business and why people keep secrets, I’ll go see Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. (I did, and it was brilliant.) With Bond I want something else. Escapism, danger, derring-do, humour, and a script that won’t insult my intelligence in the same way Die Another Day did. With Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, a balance was found and I would like this to be maintained.

But I still want to see stuff get blown up, okay?

100 Words, 100 Days: Day 72. On Smiley.

No, not the emoticon but the character: John Le Carre’s famous spymaster, George Smiley. Coming out of a screening of the recent adaptation of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, I thought about fictional characters authors are most famous for. Fleming has Bond, Lee Child has Jack Reacher, Conan Doyle had Sherlock Holmes.

For people of a certain age, Sir Alec Guinness’s portrayal of Smiley was the benchmark by which Gary Oldman would be judged. But now Le Carre’s creation has a new lease of life, and  I would love to see him return for another adventure.

Classic characters will live forever.

 

100 Words, 100 Days: Day 64. On Spy Stories.

With the release of the movie version of John Le Carre’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and the return of Spooks to the BBC (its 10th and final season), there is, for me, a renaissance of the spy thriller. The Bourne trilogy of movies resulted in a more pared-down, gadget-free James Bond, focusing more on the people involved in the business of spying than outrageous plotting.

You see, spying is a sleazy industry: keeping secrets from some, extracting them from others, without letting your emotions get in the way. It can come at a price, though.

You may lose your humanity.

 

100 Words, 100 Days: Day 16. On Tommy Lee Jones

Tommy Lee Jones is one of those rare actors that can take material, whatever its quality, and add a certain je ne sais quoi to it. Whether he is the leading actor in the piece (No Country for Old Men) or a supporting one (The Fugitive), Jones’ mere presence adds gravitas and a macabre sense of fun.

Take Captain America, for instance. Already a decent enough flick, but the addition of Jones gives lines like “Whatever’s on your mind, now would be a good time to keep it to yourself” added oomph.

Give this man another Oscar now, damn it!

 

100 Words, 100 Days: Day 13. On Reboots

Rise of the Planet of the Apes arrives in our cinemas shortly. It’s yet another attempt by the moneymakers of Hollywood to ingest life and interest in a franchise that was cut dead by Tim Burton’s 2001 reimagining of Charlton Heston’s classic original.

By all accounts it looks alright – but I still think film producers are lazy. I could bemoan the lack of originality and risk-taking in the film industry but it would take a post longer than 100 words to get my point across.

As it stands, I may or may not go see it. What about you? Do you care?

 

The King’s Speech: A Personal Consideration

I went to see The King’s Speech this evening with a friend. For those of you who don’t know too much about it, the movie tells the story of how King George VI overcame his speech defect – he had a stammer – and led England through World War II. He struck up an unlikely friendship with his speech therapist, an out-of-work actor called Lionel Logue, and it was through this friendship that the monarch gave his defining speech to the nation on the day war broke out. This post is not a review of the movie; although Colin Firth (as George) and Geoffrey Rush (as Logue) deserve what awards that undoubtedly will come their way (including, hopefully, an Oscar or two), my never-ending love for the force of nature that is Helena Bonham Carter (who plays Queen Elizabeth) grew deeper. I’ve never had a crush on a royal before – but I do now. Tim Burton, you are one lucky guy.

When I was younger I had a stammer. I remember all too well an incident at school when I was asked to read out a passage in French during class. It was there, written out in front of my eyes, ready for oration in front of the class. But the words wouldn’t come out. If anyone sees the movie and recalls the very first scene where Prince Bertie (as King George was known to his family) is about to give a speech, you will know that he is struck dumb, to the obvious embarrassment of his wife, servants, subjects and himself. I know exactly how he felt. There is nothing more painful, more humiliating that knowing how to speak, but failing to do so. That was my lot in my early teenage years. In primary school, certain sections of unthinking morons bullied me for it; but in secondary school, I was enabled my friends and teachers to come to terms with it. I didn’t go to a therapist because I didn’t know they existed. It didn’t always happen, though; there were times when I was able to read aloud in front of the class. But I suppose a lot depended on where my head was at the time.

And then it went away, all on its own. In my late teens, I was on live TV, participating in televised Mass for RTE, reading from a Bible in front of camera and whoever watched Sunday morning Mass on television. I spoke on stage, too, as part of song and dance show with my class mates and girls from another school. (That’s when I discovered women, by the way.) But my crowning moment occurred when I was in college.

I announced my candidacy for President of the Students’ Union, and so I was required to speak at the Hustings. For a man with a history of freezing at inopportune times, this speech was fraught with danger. But I gave the speech of my short political life. For five minutes I was brilliant and I was elected by a landslide. To this day, any time I have to speak in public and I’m feeling nervous, I look back to those times (especially that day in college) and realise that nerves are natural to the best of us. I just take a deep breath and then get on with it.

Now it comes back every so often, mainly at times of stress, or when I’m tired – or when I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about. What I do then is slow things down, organise my thoughts and carry on. I find making a joke about it lightens the atmosphere considerably. So there you go, that’s my personal take on what is a marvellous film. Do yourselves a favour and go and see it.

Note to Colin Firth fans (of which there are many): He is fantastic in this film, but he does not take his shirt off. Thank you for reading.

“Let The Right One In”: The Book vs Movie Debate

Last night I did something out of the ordinary. I watched a movie adaptation of a book that I had finished the night before. Normally I wait a while before seeing such an adaptation. I feel that the novel is too fresh in the readers mind, and therefore the movie as an independent creation can’t be properly appreciated. But I’ve grown impulsive of late. My recent post about The Name of the Rose is testament to this.

Anyway, the book was Let The Right One In, a realist romance drama with vampires. Now before you go all Twilight on me and close this page, let me say from the outset that this book is as far from Meyer’s product as a duck is from an albatross: same DNA but a different species altogether.

LTROI was written by Swedish novelist John Ajvide Kindqvist and it tells the story of an unlikely friendship-cum-romance between a 12-year-old boy, Oskar, and a centuries old vampire, in a 12-year-old body, called Eli. Oskar is bullied in school and harbours fantasies that one day he will kill his tormentors. His mother tries her best to raise him, his father having long since left, but Oskar is a handful. Through a series of events, he meets Eli and together they face up to their personal struggles and eventually come to terms to the cards life has dealt them.

Put like that, it doesn’t sound too exciting, does it? But that’s where you’d be wrong. I’m deliberately trying not to spoil the pleasures for those readers who have yet to savour Lindqvist’s book. As it is a vampire story, there is horror – plenty of it. There are characters in its pages the reader hopes they’ll never meet in real life: bullies, pedophiles, alcoholic fathers, egomaniacs and madmen. The vampire and her friend are the most sympathetic of all. But not once in his novel does Lindqvist make a false step. This is ‘kitchen sink’ drama. The vampire hunters in this book are people like you and me. They hurt, they abuse themselves and others, they hope life will treat them well. Without giving too much away, the story doesn’t end well for everyone. But there is a happy ending of sorts for the two children.

Now to the movie. The problem with all adaptations is what to leave in and what to take out. What makes LTROI the movie work so well is that Lindqvist adapted his novel for the screen. The author himself knew what would work on the big screen and what could justifiably be put aside. Gone is much of Hakan’s (Eli’s protector) back-story as a convicted child abuser; it’s barely hinted at in the movie. Much of the novel’s police procedural is gone. Lindqvist thought it would slow the pace down. For a 110 minute movie he made the right choice, I believe. Hakan’s vampirism is gone, too. Once he’s dead in the movie, he no longer reappears. In the book, he keeps coming back. He’s the real monster in Lindqvist’s novel. I would have liked to have seen more of Hakan.  If I have one quibble with the movie it would be this. But needs must.

Because my memory of the book was so fresh I had no difficulty in following the movie. But I don’t think anyone needs to read the book in order to appreciate what Lindqvist and his director Tomas Alfredson produced. The two young actors, Kåre Hedebrant (Oskar) and Lina Leandersson (Eli), are exceptional. They were 11-years-old at the time of filming, and the subject matter can make for some uncomfortable viewing – but the pair pull off a difficult job, Lina especially.

Any reader of horror worth their salt should read the book and see the movie. They are two sides of the same coin. It was a pleasure (sometimes visceral) to see Lindqvist’s vision on the screen.

Typical of all things Hollywood, producers got whiff of LTROI and have released a remake, called Let Me In, directed by Matt (Cloverfield) Reeves and starring Kodi Smit-McPhee (from The Road) and Chloë Moretz (Hit-Girl from Kick-Ass). From what reviews I’ve read, I believe that the film makers did a great job. They changed the principal character’s names and moved the action from Blackeberg, Sweden to New Mexico, but kept everything that made the original movie special. Unfortunately, it appears to have died a death at the box office. Maybe it was one vampire movie too many. It’s a shame. But if and when it comes over this side of the Atlantic, I’ll check it out.

I’ll leave you with trailers of both movies. Thank you for reading.

“Fight Club” Director Tackles Facebook

image: blog.wikeez.com

David Fincher, the acclaimed director of Fight Club, Se7en and Zodiac, is tackling the birth of perhaps the most important aspect of everyday Internet use: social networking; specifically Mark Zuckerberg’s launching of Facebook.

The tagline is innovative: “You don’t get to make 500,000,000 friends without making a few enemies.”

Being a fan of Fincher’s work, I look forward to seeing how this movie plays out. You can view the interactive trailer at Mashable.com here.

Let me know what you think.

Adam and Eve: The Next Internet Sensation

The following is a short movie about pick-ups and how they’ve evolved over the decades; from the smooth and almost chivalrous attraction of the 20s and 30s, to the “free love” variant of the 60s, right through to the YUPPIE Blackberry type associated with our modern age.

This is film, less than 10 minutes long, is the creation of John Sanders, Erin Hunter and Mark Perry. It came to my attention via a friend, Ryan Hunter (whose sister is the woman in the film). Please feel free to share this the rest of the world. I think it’s great.