Eye in the Sky

May 7, 2016 at 11:41 pm | Posted in Film Review, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2057392/ ostensively a film about drone warfare, but really, the Trolley/Tram Dilemma brought to the screen – the ethics of killing one innocent in order to save many.

Helen Mirren in Colonel Katherine Powell, British Army, in command of a mission to capture two British Islamic Terrorists in Kenya. The Kenyan Army and Security Services are proving ‘boots on the ground’, and the US Armed Forces are providing air support (a Predator with two Hellfire missiles and amazing optics) and targeting assessment.

Terrorism may have gone global, but so too has the response to it. It is a bit alarming: smiting the enemies of the state as a video game.

The film sets out the issues, and leads the viewer down a nice ethical and moral corundum.

Mirren/Powell is the calm voice in the drone pilots ear: “do it now lieutenant” and “fire again”. The film also explores the outcome versus the process debate; the people participating in the mission are not necessarily bad people, they are doing their jobs, they push back as much as they can. Another chestnut is explored: following orders – legal orders. Being a multi-national mission, there are many outcomes, differing risk appetites, and processes to satisfy. The whole mission is an exercise in consensus building – both before the mission is approve and as the mission proceeds.

The mission moves very quickly from ‘capture for repatriation-and-trial’ to ‘shoot-to-kill’; the terrorists are not just meeting, they are about to launch a multiple suicide-bomber attack.

Worth seeing: the film creates tension through the actors being confronted by an ever more narrow and harrowing set of options, the drone effects are amazing, Mirren does a fine job, and this was Alan Rickman’s last film (before he died).

The Hundred Foot Journey (Film)

September 6, 2014 at 4:33 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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I saw the film of the book – The Hundred Foot Journey – the other day and really liked it. I like films that involve food. The film is also a romance – between two chefs.

Warning: plot elements discussed.

The film is many things: a new immigrant story; a romance (more than one romance); food and cooking; things that divide; and things that unite.

The film starts violently, political unrest in Mumbai (India) causes the Kadam family to flee to the West. A timely brake failure sees them settle in the south of France. This violent beginning introduces a violent undertow that takes some time to dissipate – but things do settle down for the good.

Hassan Kadam (Manish Dayal) is literally a gift to cooking from the gods; trained by his mother in their famiy’s traditional methods and recipes; he is the creative force behind the family’s newly opened restaurant – the Maison Mumbai; he is also able to teach himself cordon bleu cooking from books; and so cross over to a totally different style and tradition of cooking. Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon), who cooks in the one Michelin star restaurant across the road lends him the books. As per the title, the film is full of crossing over scenes and analogies. The various characters are forever crossing the road to each other’s restaurant, on some mission or other. At times, “two houses steeped …” seemed to be burned across the screen.

When Marguerite and Hassan meet for the first time, at the Kadam’s broken down van, one knows they are destined for each other and that they will be together: when Marguerite introduces herself to Hassan, she is side lit by the sun, and she is radiant, and he is of course breathless.

Food is important to the Kadams – especially to Hassan – the texture and the taste. They have much in common with the French – who at first don’t know what to make of them. Marguerite’s causal supper that she serves up to the Kadams, after rescuing them, is full of colour and flavour – and it is all local. The audience can tell that the Kadams have food a place they could find many affinities.

For migrants, food is a link to home, to memories of family and friends. The Kadams cling to their traditions. Only Hassan seems willing to try things French. Hassan ends up cooking in the French restaurant – his gift is shared with the world. His fusion of two cooking styles sets the gastronomic world on fire. But in the end it is a traditional Mumbai dish that reminds him of who he is and what is important.

The film is about many journeys: the Kadams physical travels, the Kadams integration into the local village; the locals’ acceptance of these new arrivals; and the journey of food, of east meeting west.

Helen Mirren and Om Puri play the heads of the two respective maisons – to a slightly predictable outcome.

A must see for foodies.

RED 2

September 27, 2013 at 9:58 pm | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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Warning: plot spoilers.

This sequel picks up a few months after Red [1] finished: Frank (Bruce Willis) and Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker) are settling into a safe, if dull, suburban routine. Then Marvin (John John Malkovich) is blown up in the Costco car park and it is all go.

There is a nice touch with “You can’t always get what you want” playing at the funeral – just like in The Big Chill.

Anthony Hopkins is Dr Bailey – the baddy – and I though it was a nice touch for him to get back into the action/spy genre – an early foray was “When eight Bells Toll“.

A running gag is that everyone keeps giving Frank relationship advice! Sarah is not settling into the relationship – because Frank packs her in cotton wool. She just wants to be a kick-ass like Victoria (Helen Mirren) and Katja (Catherine Zeta-Jones).

Katja is an old flame of Frank’s, and her re-entry into his life causes some extra tension in the relationship. Katja and Frank have the most amazing driver swap sequence – possibly ever.

Mirren tends to steal the film with here restrained performance.

Its a bit violent, but worth a go.

RED

November 22, 2010 at 12:35 am | Posted in Film Review | 1 Comment
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I went to see the film RED the other day. RED turns out to stand for: Retired Extremely Dangerous.

The main charaters are played by some very accomplished actors: Bruce Willis, Mary-Lousie Parker, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, and Ernest Borgnine. It is a pleasure to see them working hard at producing such polished charaterisations of 2-dimensional characters. The comic book origins have not been directed out and it is great to see the actors gently parody themselves.

It looks like everyone enjoyed themselves. The gratuitous use of automatic weapons seems to have particularly fired up Helen Miriam’s character; or was Miriam fired up?

The plots is a little convoluted and contrived – as fitting a dark comic story revolving around retired CIA assassins. At its core, it is a ‘putting the band back together’ movie. Retirement sits heavily on the old killers and they all welcome a chance to relive their youth (and kill again).

Helen Miriam is perfect wearing a white fur coat and carrying a sniper rifle as comfortably as one’s favourite formidable aunt might carry gardening shears.

Bruce Willis is Frank Moses, the former number one assasin at the CIA, who is so bored with retirement that he strikes up a chance connection with some one in the US government pensions department. Sarah Ross is ably played by Sarah-Louise Parker, a capable women who has been forced by the vagarities of a unrewarding life to travel only through spy thriller-bodice-rippers. Director , Robert Schwentke, shows restraint with the Anne character – in that she does not transform into another violent character (in a movie populated by violent characters).

John Malkovich, plays the nutty character: “11 years of mind control experiments”, “I don’t like to spend too much time in the open – satelites”. He is great.

It all ends well – for the ‘band’. As with movies of this genre, it ends badly for the bad-guys !

Could this be some kind of handing over of the torch moment? Karl Urban plays William Cooper – the CIA’s current number one assassin. Inevitably Moses and Cooper go head-to-head; Cooper is good, but Moses still has it (just). But does this mean that Urban will star in a series of action thrillers that cement his place in movie history?

Good to see Borgnine get an outing – to be honest I though he had passed away. He has a small role playing the part of a CIA records keeper, buried in a secret vault.

National Treasure : Book of Secrets

January 9, 2008 at 12:00 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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Just been to see this film.

Jan 9, 2008 by


Film Hanger

Paper Hanger Blog
Wellington
New Zealand

The film is the continuing adventures of treasure hunter Bejamin Franklin Gates (Nicolas Cage), his on-again-off-again girlfriend Abigail (Diane Kruger), his side-kick Riley (Justin Bartha), his father Patrick (Jon Voight). This time we are introduced to his mother ! – Emily Appleton, played by Helen Mirren!!

Asside from the injection of Helen Mirren, it all seemed a bit formula. The Gates family name needs to be cleared, and before you know it, we off on a treasure hunt. There is the usual car chase and Riley gets a little character development.

I have to confess that I am a Helen Mirren fan, and felt those scenes with her were definitely the better ones!! At 60+ she is still attractive and gives her character a fullness that some the other minor characters lacked.

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