Thursday, 26 March 2015

March Watch List

1. Chappie

I've seen mixed reviewed for this film about A.I and child development and I'm surprised. I thought this film was brilliantly executed. On the surface, its about a creator and his creation and how people can corrupt an innocent for their own gains. Then there is a deeper message, is a child corrupted by its family and the people it associates with or is it just circumstantial, the environment. To bring down crime in Johannesburg, the police are made up of human offices and robotic humanoids. The success of the robot offices brings success to Tetravaal, a weapons manufacturer and the creator, Deon. Deon then creates artificial intelligence giving a robot emotions and he ability to form opinions but after he is kidnapped by a street gang who forces him to 'wake the robot up' so they can use it to assist in their crimes. Chappie is born. Sharlto Copely plays Chappie, voice and motion capture too, and he is brilliant as well as being the director Neil Blomkamp's favourite having appeared in his last two features.  There is heart in his film as well the enjoyment of seeing corruption of innocence seen through the eyes of a child/robot. There have been talk of a sequel which would be a shame as this film and story stands well alone. I should also mention that Hugh Jackman, as the ex-solider turned weapon designer is quite good as the weird villain who wants man operated machines on the streets instead. He is so far removed from the typical muscle crazed hero its delightfully refreshing. With a mixture of non actors and professionals, the characters gel surprisingly well together, on screen at least. 4/5

2. Fifty Shades of Grey
Let's be clear, I've not read the book, nor will I ever read the book but I saw the film because I thought, if I'm going to make fun of this film or criticize it in any way, I should at least watch it. My opinion at the end, it is neither great nor bad. I can understand fans of the books would be annoyed by a few things, namely the fact that the book is explicit (so I'm told) and the film barely breaks the 15 certificate. The filmmakers had the opportunity to go all out and they didn't. The hype around the book has been tamed down that it becomes more about the relationship that the s&m scenes. The relationship is also annoying but that is a character fault not the actors. Ana and Christian are the main focus of the film, the supporting characters who appear every now and then are used with small effect, they do not move the story along, all the work is left on the leads shoulders and their up and down relationship, will be sorted out in the sequels. This film very much felt like a long intro. But saying all this, the two leads had chemistry at least. 2/5

Seals, folktales and beautiful 2D animation, of course this film was aimed at someone like me. The story is about Ben and his sister Saoirse and their father, the lighthouse keeper. After the death of his mother, who died presumbly during childbirth, Ben has always been hostile towards his younger sister who at age 6 has still never spoken a word. But when Saoirse discovers a white coat and lead to the sea by mystical fairy lights, there she discovers, after wearing the coat, she is a Selkie. After being discovered on the sea shore the next morning, the children's visiting grandmother insists the children live with her in the city. The defiant Ben decides to escape and make his way back home with Saoirse in tow. They journey home and discover and meet fairies of the myth and legend as well Saoirse's destiny and importance between worlds. Its beautifully animated and the story, so simple yet brings out all emotions. The seal and folklore aspects just the film all that more enjoyable to watch. 4/5

4.  Suite Fran├žaise 

My friend and I went to see it like it was like any other war drama, but after the first viewing we were hooked. The film's end felt like we were left in suspension and for me disbelief that it ended. Again, I've read mixed reviews about this film, centered around the German occupation of France in 1940. A regiment is sent to a town outside Paris and how the residents and he soldiers live along side each other. We became obsessed with this film and story, as we both read the book the film is based on by Irene Nemirovsky, who was writing the novel just before she was taken to a labor camp for being Jewish. The film is heartbreaking above all but it was also interesting to see a different aspect to the war. Set just when Germany defeats France and takes over, the Germans are the enemy but are seen to be civil until one of their own is murdered. Along side the main story of occupation, there is a romantic element. A German officer, Bruno is billeted with Lucille and her stern mother in law, Madam Angellier. Her son is a POW and she treats her tenants with contempt. Bruno and Lucille share a bond through their love of music but it is, as always, an ill fated romance. Played with such subtly by Michelle Williams and Matthias Schoenaerts, the relationship is not sweet but delicate and works so well on screen, just wish they had longer scenes. The story's outcome and the outcome for several of the characters featured in the film is changed and ultimately damned by one selfish person. From this point on the story descends into the usual, way a war film does, its frustrating but not disappointing. By my friend and I reading the book, we searched for answers to see if we missed something. We both felt that the romance needed further attention and I personally felt the sting of the ending. I don't wish this often or ever, but I hoped for a change of ending from the book. And no matter how many times I watch, love, despair at the film, it will never change. Directed by Saul Dibb with the elegant touch that he previously had in The Duchess, I should have know I would have been depressed with the end. If you're wondering about the title, it is the name of the music that Bruno is composing throughout the film. 4/5

5. Seventh Son

I'm sorry but I gave this the lowest possible score as it didn't even hold my attention. The myth behind the story is far more interesting than the actual film. It's not a surprise that this film is based on series of books. I think the studio who made it was hoping for a franchise to bloom but I really can't see it. It will most likely go the way of Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant, The Dark is Rising, Vampire Academy and Eragon, all based on book series aimed at young readers and tweens. None of them got a sequel. Dystopian adventures seem to hold the winning formula but those are also running short. The Seventh Son was bland and not even Jeff Bridges playing Jeff Bridges could save this film. Plot, young man destined to save the world from darkness and a powerful witch becomes to the apprentice to a Jeff Bridges who is a 'Spook' someone who can vanquish evil things. That's the premise and I'm sure you can all predict the end. Oh, and they make sure to leave room, just in case a sequel is made. 1/5

6. Zero Motivation

After seeing the trailer on Apple trailer, this was during festival season, I was hooked. A comedy about women during military service, perfect. But where the trailer made the fill look purely like a black comedy, the film was more about friendship and the comedy was slightly thin on the ground. The film is split into 3 chapters, 'The Replacement, The Virgin and The Commander'. Each section follow the day to day life at the military base of the women, mainly, who non-combatants, working the admin office. Zoar, is on the surface lazy and refuses to make an effort and Daffi just really wants to leave the base for another in a better location. I did laugh at some of the mishaps and the scene where the entire office is stuffed full of shredded paper but otherwise there are some quite disturbing stories within the base, one involving a suicide and one of the women being possessed by a ghost. I would reccomend the film but be aware its not an outright comedy. 3/5

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