Saturday, May 24, 2014
What I have been watching this week
Falling ill has its advantages like getting to watch some great and not so great movies! Here are 4 flicks you ought to watch too.
Godzilla (2014/Gareth Edwards) – This 2014 new reboot is a class act – with great special effects, fantastic cinematography, stupendous action sequences but one missing element - Godzilla. Yes, you read it right! Unlike what the teasers and trailers promised, Godzilla is pretty much absent throughout the movie not until it’s already the half way mark. And when you do finally see him, he is not the angry, berserk monster you would expect but the friendly beast out to save humanity from the MUTOs (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organisms). Maybe the idea was to pay homage to the traditional Japanese TOHO movies (with Godzilla as the savior of mankind) but for many fans like me who were expecting something fire and thunder bombastic, it’s a big letdown. Anyway, it’s not that all bad and with no big name stars in this vehicle except Godzilla, you never know what’s coming!
American Hustle (2013/David O. Russell) – Let me put it straight. Though based on the 1970s FBI Abscam sting operation, this is not really the con movie it sets out to be but more of a character study of the 5 protagonists and their internal machinations. Christian Bale is Irving Rosenfeld (based on the real life con man Melvin Weinberg) and he is a standout in this role with his balding pate, failing health and a bulging waist line. Christian Bale is living proof of how far some actors will to get into the character literally and movies like this (and The Machinist), reiterate his strengths of what a fine actor he is. Amy Adams is his partner in crime, the hot, conning damsel who cons for a higher purpose in life and Bradley Cooper the insecure but over ambitious FBI agent on their trail who entraps them to entrap bigger fish or so it goes. You also get support from Jeremy Renner in a rather unusual casting as the mayor with a golden heart but its Jennifer Lawrence as Bale’s hyperactive and unpredictable wife who literally steals the show. Robert De Niro is largely wasted in a potentially explosive character that’s never explored beyond his 5 minutes of screen time. However, the club scene when he speaks in Arabic is stellar! Though it has it flaws, this is still a great watch just to relish the 70s scenery and the antics of Bale, Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence!
Wer (2013/William Brent Bell)– It’s been a while since you had a great werewolf movie and this independent horror thriller from the director who gave us the Devil Inside(2012) and Stay Alive(2006) turns this genre upside down with interesting results. A deformed man is accused in rural France of ghastly murders and in his defense, comes our heroine – A.J.Cook, her work partner Chuck’s Vik Sahay and her ex boy friend researcher Simon Quaterman. Is the deformed guy the dangerous killer that he is accused of or an innocent persecuted for his odd looks. I wont spoil it further for you. From a rather sedate start, that had me almost hit the forward button, the movie suddenly picks up steam and becomes quite engrossing. However, the last final act is sort of a lame cop out but I would still recommend you watch it for the bloody fun!
Snowpiercer (2013/Joon-ho Bong) – The advantage of international travel is that you get to see some movies first than others, especially if you live in the US or UK. Touted as one of the most expensive South Korean produced English movies, this sci-fi thriller was on my watch list for a long time for 2 reasons – it’s based on a famous French dystopian graphic novel Le Transperceneige written by Jacques Lob, Benjamin Legrand and Jean-Marc Rochettewiki and its directed by Joon-ho Bong who gave us fantastic movies like The Host(2006) and The Mother (2009) in his first English debut. With a great cast including an almost undecipherable Chris Evans, the amazing Tilda Swinton (in one of here best performances), Ed Harris, Jamie Bell, John Hurt and Korean superstar - Song Kang-ho, this actually could have been better. Sadly, the intentionally multilayered script suffers from many contradictions and inherent flaws in scince & logic making Snowpiercer a odd mishmash of kinetic action, sepia toned sci-fi and silly eco-activism. As a hard core sci-fi fan with high expectations on this, I was a tad disappointed but regular fans will probably gloss it over.