Sunday, 23 January 2011

Film-a-day 16-22 Jan 2011

Another regular feature I plan on updating every week is what film's I've been watching during the week. My plan for the rest of the year is to try and watch a film every day, or at least seven films in a week. I haven't done brilliantly this first week (this is more of the last 10 days really), but the plan is to update every week with a little review and star rating for each one. The best one of the week is here, the others are beyond the jump!

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977) ****/
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) *****
Star Wars Episode VI: Return Of The Jedi (1983) ****
Of course, what a way to start! While it's easy to pick out the bad parts of the trilogy, if you just let it wash over you and just enjoy it the good parts are brilliant and plentiful. Of course Empire is the best of the three, especially considering most of Jedi can be boiled down to Jabba the Hutt, Ewoks and a lot of shots of Luke Skywalker waiting to get angry enough to almost turn to the dark side. While it's not as easy to pidgeonhole A New Hope, it barely misses the five star mark and is as fine an introduction to a trilogy as there has ever been. But of course, The Empire Strikes Back is the best! It introduced Yoda, Lando Calrissian and Boba Fett and included the brilliant scenes of the battle on Hoth, the wonderful looking Cloud City and the classic training scene from Yoda on Dagobah. And that's just for starters. Superb!

This week was a bit all over the spectrum of film with Lord Of War, Safe Men, Inception and Dog Day Afternoon getting a look after the jump!

Safe Men (1998) **/
Don't take the star rating as a bad sign. While this film isn't brilliant, it still has some great performances within it. Firstly, an early Sam Rockwell is uneasy but delivers a wonderfully nerdy singer come safe cracker with a crush on his victim's daughter. Paul Giamatti plays quite a reserved role in the film but is as good as ever, while Mark Ruffalo pulls a superb comedic turn. The rest of the cast is slightly off with Steve Zhan and Josh Pais seeming almost entirely out of their depths, but overall the 90 minutes ticks along quite nicely with some brilliant uses of disco and soul music, even if some plots just burst out of nowhere and almost upset the balance of the film entirely. Almost, mind!

Lord Of War (2005) ****
I saw this originally because it was a Nicolas Cage film and I'm on a bit a run through of his filmography, but it's a little more than just a Cage film, because it's brilliant. It's two hour running time doesn't feel long and Cage himself is brilliant as the major villain of the piece, which is full of villains. What's great is that it's message doesn't drown the film like the usual topic related films but in fact raises it up to a higher level, the way a film like this should.

Inception (2010) ****/
It really is brilliant, and a second watch game me the reaffirming I needed. Every scene drips with excellence and intelligence, and Nolan proves himself yet again as an incredible, wonderful writer and director. Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Tom Hardy all shine throughout and Ellen Page adds a wonderful edge to the character Eames. As well as this, the effects team, who have quite an important job in the film are insanely brilliant and bring the whole world to life.

Dog Day Afternoon (1975) ****
I'd always wanted to see this film and now I finally have, I'm really glad. It's great, and Al Pacino is wonderful as the panicky Sonny and holds the whole film together superbly. What's great too is the real life portrayal of the hostages, who are of course frightened but react with humour, dancing and waving to the crowd that has gathered outside. They even begin forming connections with the bank robbers, which only speaks to the vulnerability of Sonny and Sal, as opposed to how bank robbers are usually portrayed on screen, which is the fearless, horrible muscle men with massive guns and an ingenious escape plan.

Carl England

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