Sunday, 8 April 2012

No Country for Old Men (2007)

Rating: 8.5/10

"[first lines] 
 Ed Tom Bell: I was sheriff of this county when I was twenty-five years old. Hard to believe. My grandfather was a lawman; father too. Me and him was sheriffs at the same time; him up in Plano and me out here. I think he's pretty proud of that. I know I was. Some of the old time sheriffs never even wore a gun. A lotta folks find that hard to believe. Jim Scarborough'd never carried one; that's the younger Jim. Gaston Boykins wouldn't wear one up in Comanche County. I always liked to hear about the oldtimers. Never missed a chance to do so. You can't help but compare yourself against the oldtimers. Can't help but wonder how they would have operated these times. There was this boy I sent to the 'lectric chair at Huntsville Hill here a while back. My arrest and my testimony. He killt a fourteen-year-old girl. Papers said it was a crime of passion but he told me there wasn't any passion to it. Told me that he'd been planning to kill somebody for about as long as he could remember. Said that if they turned him out he'd do it again. Said he knew he was going to hell. "Be there in about fifteen minutes". I don't know what to make of that. I sure don't. The crime you see now, it's hard to even take its measure. It's not that I'm afraid of it. I always knew you had to be willing to die to even do this job. But, I don't want to push my chips forward and go out and meet something I don't understand. A man would have to put his soul at hazard. He'd have to say, "O.K., I'll be part of this world." 

First time I sat down to watch this film was during the time I was getting an education in filmmaking myself. I still remember that I had just been taught the magic of film sound and sound mixing in movies, so I was eagerly delighted to watch this film in my local cinema theatre in Bristol (UK). I had heard beforehand that it had quite a few shocking moments in it, but since I had read absolutely nothing about the story, I went in not knowing quite what to expect. All I knew, was that I had a growing antipathy to the Cohen brothers for some inexplicable reason. And then I saw this film...

First of all let me give you a taste of what the story's about:"In rural Texas, welder and hunter Llewelyn Moss discovers the remains of several drug runners who have all killed each other in an exchange gone violently wrong. Rather than report the discovery to the police, Moss decides to simply take the two million dollars present for himself. This puts the psychopathic killer, Anton Chigurh, on his trail as he dispassionately murders nearly every rival, bystander and even employer in his pursuit of his quarry and the money. As Moss desperately attempts to keep one step ahead, the blood from this hunt begins to flow behind him with relentlessly growing intensity as Chigurh closes in. Meanwhile, the laconic Sherrif Ed Tom Bell blithely oversees the investigation even as he struggles to face the sheer enormity of the crimes he is attempting to thwart." (

One of the really greatest things that the Cohen brothers have managed to succeed with this film is their sheer loyalty to the book. 'No Country for Old Men' was written by Cormac McCarthy and was visually translated by world-renowned directors Joel and Ethan Cohen who also co-wrote the script. The fascinating thing about this story of corruption and vanity is how truthful the two brothers stayed to the novel. In filmmaking is not an easy task to translate a very hefty on-words novel into images and sound. The Cohen's surpassed any kind of expectations that McCarthy may have had when he was giving them the right to make his novel into a film.

Apart from the very loyal and stoic attention the Cohen's gave to this film, they also were able to create the word of the 1980s wild-west Texas, and re-create the long-lost values of a long-forgotten era where morality and corruption were shaking between an uneasy balance. The Cohen's have long played on the themes of leaving the modern man take life in his own hands and make the tough choices between a life of crime and morality, but with this film they circulated even more to the idea of a world where heroes do not get to be victorious and the villains do not get the retribution of their ill-doing.

The most frightening moment of all is the absolute silence and serenity that with-holds the villain in the story; Anton Chigurh, who is performed by spanish-born actor Javier Bardem, who also got to win an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. His portrayal of this ultra-villain is merely a testament of the growing corruption of the new-age, and what evil is able to conquer with a little patience and planning.

Equally well is the portrayal of the semi-hero of the story, Llewelyn Moss, who is performed by world-acclaimed actor, Josh Brolin. No matter how bad the story begs for retribution for the equally corruptive nature of Llewelyn, the reality hits him harsh and at the end gets the better of him.

It would be of course careless of me not to mention the real gem of the story; the struggling small-town sheriff who longs and idealizes the long-lost glories of getting his fairy-tale ending, of the villain getting what he deserves and the hero getting his victory (wealth and love). This beautifully performed role is portrayed by world-class actor Tommy Lee Jones, who once again his macho-cop character is looking to give an absolution to what has been done wrong in the world. Whether he succeeds or not that is something you will have to sit down and watch to find out.

This story is a tantalizing tale about the injustice and the raw reality of the vanities of how human nature fails to avoid temptation and falls prey of his own idolatries (in this case the money, as often is the case). The Cohens have done a superb job letting their camerawork extend their need to translate the words into images and let the silence throughout the film, fill in the high-tense emotional moments. Laconic language and moments of pure realism are a few of their key trademarks as directors, but also something that establishes them as visionaries of a tale full of human greed and corruption.

Excellent film to watch if you're in the mood for a good'ol crime of the west. Do not be shocked if you do not find that justice does not exist in this film. Some stories are plain truthful.

Sincerely hope every film-goer enjoys this film as much as I have.

Have a good Sunday afternoon!

No Country for Old Men (2007)

Friday, 6 April 2012

Jeux D' Enfants aka Love me if You Dare

Rating: 8.6/10

"Cap ou pas cap?" - "Game or no game?"

This film for me is the ultimate romantic film of the last decade. It was after all made by the experts of romantic love...the French!

As the poster of the film also suggests this film is wickedly delicious. But let's take things one by one shall we? First of all the script. The wonderfully written script of writer/director Yann Samuell who did wonders in his creation of the two main characters. A rather complicated plot to follow but with much wit, raw honesty, humour and a lot of love in it, he poured all of his magic into the creation of two very complex but also unique contemporary characters that would overcome most anything human to be together. Based mostly on the allegoric themes, the dialogue is among the wittiest most intellectually challenging dialogues I have ever come across in a romantic comedy. Having had my share of rom-coms, this one stands out from the lot by far.

Of course it all comes down to the two main protagonists who bring to life these two powerful characters; Julien and Sophie. This for me is the ultimate representation of romantic love and cruelty all rolled into one. Guillaume Canet and Marion Cotillard, who incidentally nowadays are rumoured to be a couple in real life, have done a superb job by performing these two characters. Albeit unknown till then to the wide international public, these two young and fresh actors from France, grasp these two characters with energy, passion and magic and give their simply best in making sure the audience is entangled with them from the very beginning of their introduction. Whether you love or hate them, whether you understand their motives, their actions or even their dialogue it pays of little consequence, as at the end they make you fall desperately and hopelessly in love with their story. Yes, it is that sweet and transcendental.

The musical soundtrack in the film pays homage to the beloved French music legend Edith Piaf (who incidentally is later on performed in La Mome by Cotillard herself). Alongside the visual imagery, which is full of allusions and childlike references, the direction takes you on a wonderful unexpected  and quite unconventional romantic journey of two of the most sadistic romantic couple to have been written for the screen. Albeit the cruelty and the inexplicability of the two character's motives of their actions, this is one of the most powerful and match-made on-screen couples of the last two decades.

Without giving further too much away of the story, below is these tale of these two "star-crossed" lovers:"As adults, best friends Julien and Sophie continue the odd game they started as children -- a fearless competition to outdo one another with daring and outrageous stunts. While they often act out to relieve one another's pain, their game might be a way to avoid the fact that they are truly meant for one another." (

This is not a film simply for the chick flick or rom-com lovers. It is a film for film lovers in general, as it holds many wonderful visual and performing moments. Good to watch it with loved ones (not just your other half), 'cause above all the thing that counts the most is love.

Happy screening everyone!

Jeux D'Enfants (2003)

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Oldboy (2003)

Rating: 8.8/10

"Laugh and the world laughs with you. Weep and you weep alone."

Let's talk about film style; there will always be an Asian, and in this case a Korean, who will do it better than you. Not a statistic, but a much proved-fact.

The reason to the above statement is well proven by Chan-wook Park's 2003 film, 'Oldboy'. What's the story about? The story is about an average man, who "is kidnapped and imprisoned in a shabby cell for 15 years without explanation. He then is released, equipped with money, a cellphone and expensive clothes. As he strives to explain his imprisonment and get his revenge, Oh Dae-Su soon finds out that his kidnapper has a greater plan for him and is set onto a path of pain and suffering in an attempt to uncover the motive of his mysterious tormentor." (

The plot does not reveal itself from the beginning. It is indeed one of those well weave-plotted stories that it will come to light little by little leave very little time to the viewer to react and digest what'd just happened in the story-line. With an amazingly cleverly written script, the themes of vengeance, paranoia, psychosis, freedom and self-awareness are made possible into the big screen.

When first watching this film, the viewer might not even grasp two fifths of what really is going on. So a second and third watch would be advisable. Park make's sure that the more closely you look into the story, the more entanglements you will realize there are. Besides the "killer" narrative of the plot, Park entrusted his camera crew with the creation of a world full of psycho-bizarre elements and giving subtle but also aesthetically beautiful hints on the film noir genre.

'Oldboy' is specifically placing its hopes on the story line, the exquisite cinematography and the well adapted performance by lead actor Min-sik Choi. His role echoes that of Guy Pearce's in Memento, but Min-sik Choi gives another sour taste to what could happen to a man who's freedom and his whole reality is turned upside down. Psychosis and paranoia are among the twisted emotions that one will get out of watching his character closely. Painful emotions are what collide with trying to make sense of what the character should and what he must do to survive in a world that others have placed him in.

The performances are top-notch, to say the least, but what really grabs the audience is the retribution of both the leading characters and the plot itself. Park does not fully prepare the viewer for the horrors that will have to faced once the truth unfolds, but let's them question on the motives and the moral integrity of how the characters act.

'Oldboy' is nowadays hailed as a cult classic; not so much for its stylistic performance but also for the very intricate cinematography and technical aspects in general. The way the camera-work relates to the psychological factor of the main character's actions is one of the best, and well-enhanced frame-works in the film industry.

With quite a few infusions of action moments and a very paranoid and also stoic script, 'Oldboy' manages to shock and captivate even the most demanding cinema-goers.

Watch it with mates, whilst in the mood to be blown-away and let your mind run wild whilst watching it, as the possibilities are endless!

Enjoy the film!

Oldboy (2003)

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Margin Call (2011)

Rating: 7.1/10

"There are three ways to make a living in this business: be first, be smarter, or cheat." 

I happened to stumble on this film whilst I was watching the Independent Film Spirit Awards 2012, when Zachary Quinto introduced this film as a collective work among the cast and crew and the effort it took for this project to take off.

Personally I went in with limited expectations, knowing that as an Indie film I should expect the new 'Wall Street' phenomenon. What it did intrigue me though it was indeed the collaborative work among the cast. A high profile swarm of actors such as Kevin Spacey, Demi Moore, Zachary Quinto, Penn Badgley, Simon Baker, Paul Bettany, Stanley Tucci and world-class thespian Jeremy Irons make for a challenging project to try to avoid not watching.

The story talks about a "respected financial company is downsizing and one of the victims is the risk management division head, who was working on a major analysis just when he was let go. His protégé completes the study late into the night and then frantically calls his colleagues in about the company's financial disaster he has discovered. What follows is a long night of panicked double checking and double dealing as the senior management prepare to do whatever it takes to mitigate the debacle to come even as the handful of conscientious comrades find themselves dragged along into the unethical abyss." (

The story may not be the most andrenaline-based story-line ever, but it possesses some features which extricate the talents of newly come actors, such as Zachary Quinto (Heroes, American Horror Story), who was also one of the producers of the film, and Penn Badgley (Gossip Girl).

The true element that elevates this film is the time-span of the story-line. Due to the fact that the plot takes place for about a time-span of about 12 hours, this film is very character-based, giving the viewer a variety of glimpses into the psyche and mannerisms of each character. Moments of quite desperation, of frantic realizations and shocking corruption.

Demi Moore's come back role, as the bitchy high-rank analyst is a well-sowed implentation to the story, as it gives you that realistic edge of the corporate high street of the man-made business of Manhattan and the limited room it has for a female partnership into a billion-dollar corporation.

With Kevin Spacey to a yet-again-selling-my-soul-to-the-devil-for-money this story takes on a different dynamic as to how and what a corporate head would feel in a very perplexing and corrupted situation.

This story makes it real if you let yourself think of the high-end stakes that were involved in a company like this at the beginning of the 2008 crisis. The direction albeit it plain and with no great gimmicks of glitz to offer, does present a more humane side of things into the character's background.

Albeit it very well advertised and with a solid effort to make its way into the Indie film line, this film will not offer so many thrills as one would expect, but a more of an in-depth aspect of what might have gone down to a number of companies out there during the economical crisis.

Watch it if you find an interest to see an aspect of the economical crisis of 2008.

Hope you enjoy the film!

Margin Call (2011)

Monday, 2 April 2012

Grease (1978)

Rating: 8.2/10

"Why, this car is Auto-matic. Its System-matic. Its Hyyyyydro-matic. Why, its Greased Lightning!"

Whilst America was in a turmoil over the war with Vietnam in the late 1970s, another genre seemed to bloom out of nowhere, reminiscing the golden days of Hollywood-land; 'Grease'  is the word, as Frankie Valley would sing in the intro of one of the most well-known musicals of all time.

'Grease' was not just a musical of the time, it became a trend, an escape from the suppression that the youngsters felt in the 1970s. What truly is amazing about 'Grease' is that beyond all of the dancing and singing it had a very real message to deliver to its contemporary audience; friendship lasts a lifetime and it can overcome even the most adverse situations.

Starring the very hankie-macho type John Travolta, alongside the newly-presented-to-Hollywood-lan Australian actress/singer Olivia Newton-John. The pair is a match-made in heaven. Fantastic chemistry, witty exchanging of vocals, spirited plot-line of high-school kids of the 1950s.

'Grease', not only offers a trendy and unique style of musical numbers but also it set up a whole trend based on the production design with it's sp8nky fashion and it's leathery costuming. Bouncing through the screen are all the good-old-cheesy-comedic scenes without them being too far-fetched or tiresome, even for today's audience. The spark between all of the cast members is resonating in the big screen and it made for a timely atmosphere between groups of friends.

Albeit the film version is based on the original stage version of the Broadway musical, it did not fail to become the top grossing film of 1978 and was for quite a few years the top grossing film behind Jaws (1975) and Star Wars: Episode IV - New Hope (1977).

The story is "A musical about teens in love in the 50's! It's California, 1959 and greaser Danny Zuko and Australian Sandy Olsson are in love. They spend time at the beach, but when they go back to school, what either of them don't know is that they both now attend Rydell High. Danny's the leader of the T-Birds, a group of black-jacket greasers while Sandy hangs with the Pink Ladies, a group of pink-wearing girls led by Rizzo. When they clash at Rydell's first pep rally, Danny isn't the same Danny at the beach. They try to be like each other so they can be together." (

The cast, the costumes, the music, the dance, the friendship, the love...everything in this film is a cult classic and it would be an overwhelming task to try to get it out of people's minds with a remake (hopefully Hollywood will not be that naive or greedy), since it's been well imprinted for the iconic style it brought.

Watch it if you love the 50s, well-made teen flicks, music to shake your boots off, and singing that will make you dance and feel happy! Albeit it not everyone's cup of tea, it is a classic musical and a favourite one.

Enjoy the music!

"-'Dany: Sandy!'
 -'Tell me about it, stud.'"

Grease (1978)