The Shape of Water

January 28, 2018 at 12:58 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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A well crafted Guillermo del Toro movie. It is not a mainstream movie – more of a indie one. The staging, lighting, framing – cinematography (?) – and the costumes created a comic feel to the film. The good guys are ‘bright’, the bad guys are ‘black and grey’.

The plot at its most basic is a love story, that manifests itself as a ‘Romeo and Juliet’ story. Romeo is a ‘fish-man’; his ‘adoptive’ family a secretive US government agency; his home a secret US government facility – that is a huge tilt to James Bond (Dr No & You Only Live Twice). Juliet is a mute woman; but she is not a teenager; she works as a cleaner in the Base; she lives above a movie theatre that shows B-grade movies.

The film is a wonderful character study – or rather of various characters:

  • Elisa Esposito, played by Sally Hawkins, is the woman who falls in love with the prisoner, and breaks him out of custody;
  • Amphibian Man, played by Doug Jones, is the ‘asset’ ‘taken’ by the US government in the amazon; he is brave and noble, in the face of mistreatment and torture; he is curious and cultured; he has the mis-fortune to have lungs and gills – making him an object of interest as the space race heats up.
  • Giles, played by Richard Jenkins, is Elisa’s neighbour, down on his luck,  someone sidelined by changing world; but loyal; a reluctant accomplice to the ‘jail break’ – discovering a determination that he did not know he had.
  • Strickland, played by Michael Shannon, is the ‘man in black’; on the surface he is a loving family man, but underneath he is ruthless and remorseless – without a heart of gold.

Elisa sees the treatment handed out to the Amphibian, and sees that it is wrong. Both are unable to speak, so she teaches him sign language. Elisa and Giles represent humanity. Strickland embodies the dangers of focusing on ‘goals’ and ‘black and white’ thinking. He suppresses all emotions to get the ‘job done’. But the biggest betrayal is reserved for Strickland: when he finds that the system doesn’t recognise his years of faithful service.

Hawkins and Shannon turn in two outstanding performances. Jones, though encumbered by a full bodysuit is able to portray nobility and tenderness.

A film with an amphibian cannot be made without CGI and special effect, and there are plenty, but they don’t get in the way.

I enjoyed it. Worth a go, but not for children.


Jupiter Ascending

March 2, 2015 at 6:47 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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I went to see Jupiter Ascending the other day, and its worth a go. If you want to enjoy the great special effects see it at a suitably equiped theatre.

Warning: plot elements discussed.

This is a deconstruction of the Cinderella story: fairy godmother, step sisters, glass slipper, prince charming – they are all there, just a little mixed up.

Jupiter Jones, played by Mila Kunis, is Cinderalla. Jones does a lot of domestic cleaning. There are two brothers and a sister who are the Step Sisters. Caine Wise, played by Channing Tatum, is the Fairy Godmother and Prince Charming! Caine is a former genetically augmented soldier who gets Jones started on the road ‘to the ball’ and saves her life a number of times along the way (and afterwards). In another twist to the Cinderella story, Jones is also the glass slipper.

It is a space opera, full of boardroom intrigue, spaceships, explosions, and romance.

The Great Gatsby

June 16, 2013 at 10:23 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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Saw the remake of the The Great Gatsby the other night at the Embassy Theatre in Wellington.

Plot elements discussed

I have not read the F. Scott Fitzgerald’s book, nor the Robert Redford film, so I was not sure what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised. The 142 minute film held my interest and attention.

It is a love triangle as seen and described by the cousin of the girl. The ‘girl’ is Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan); the other points of the triangle are Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton) and Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio); and the cousin is Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire). The Buchanans are ‘old money’ and Gatsby is ‘new money’ – so ‘new’ that it is a little ‘dirty’. In the end it is Gatsby’s obsession that leads to his downfall, and it is Carraway’s humanity that is his.

The story is set in the 20’s – prohibition, colourful times, and jazz music. The scenery is amazing, conspicuous consumption by the rich is the norm: amazing gardens and every party a production. The rich are very self absorbed and isolated from everyday life.

I found that the 3D did not add to the story, at times it was a distraction.

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

May 29, 2012 at 7:42 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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An intriguing film; ostensively about transplanting salmon from Scotland to Yemen, but it is a romance and a journey of self discovery.

Ewan McGregor, as Dr Alfred Jones, and Emily Blunt, as Harriet Chetwode-Talbot, play the two main characters. He is a borderline autistic scientist seemingly more interested in fish (salmon) than people. She is a charming bubbly young advisor at a firm that manages money for very wealthy individuals – like the Sheikh Muhammed of Yemen. Kristin Scott Thomas, as Patricia Maxwell, the energetic get-it-done British Prime Minister’s PR advisor, rounds off the cast. She is like superwoman – mother and the PM’s smiling PR hatch-woman.

At first Dr Jones is against the idea of salmon in Yemen. But Harriet’s charming efficiency and the Sheikh’s sincerity (and the challenge of it all), wins him around.

The fact that this is viewed by some as eco-vandlism and a corruption of Yemen’s traditional ways is seemingly glossed over. That is, until, the protests get a bit extreme.

The path to true love is not smooth – a bit like salmon swimming up-stream. How does a bashful shy scientist compete with a war-hero?

The film is well made, with some fantastic scenery – mainly the fishing scenes. Everyone must have had compulsory fly fishing lessons !

The film also has an element of political satire: Mrs Maxwell cynically manipulates and manages the news cycle to inject a positive story about Britain and the moslem world – portraying a policy and decision making process driven solely by the need to keep the government popular.


August 30, 2010 at 1:03 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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What is a nice girl like Katherine Heigl doing in a film like this? Killers is an action thriller romantic comedy that spreads itself a little too thinly.

Still Heigl is easy on the eye – gratuitous bra scene in case viewers were looking at the decor! Ashton Kutcher is also easy on the eye. Lots of tributes to James Bond films: some subtle, some right out there. Catherine O’Hara as the alcoholic mum nearly steals the movie – O’Hara’s character is well played and left me wanting to know more about this women who is almost never seen without a drink. And for the 80’s nostalga buffs: there is Tom Selleck. I think he may have found a niche: stern former action man dad/uncle.

The film may come across as a bit light, but it left me with a terrific moral dilemma; is it ok to hire lots of assasines who get killed by the intended victim (in self defence)? What moral burden does the hirer have?

Enchanted (the trailer)

October 5, 2007 at 3:55 am | Posted in Film Trailer Review | Leave a comment
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Oct 5, 2007 by Film_Trailer_Hanger

This film seems like a film in the mold of Kate & Leopold, except that instead of time travel, there is inter-dimensional travel – from a story/cartoon to modern day New York. So we see a cartoon princess in a very ‘Disney’ kind of scene being cast into a pit by a witch – and she pops up in New York. Some kind of prince charming character and the witch cross over to rescue/finish her.

Seems pretty harmless; with a light look at the modern world through the eyes of a ‘foreigner’.

Based on the trailer I would be willing to see this film; I guess I like light romances.

This is a Trailer Review


Eagle vs Shark

September 30, 2007 at 7:40 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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Sep 30, 2007 by Film_Hanger

Filmed in Wellington, New Zealand: Titahi Bay, Plimmerton, Manners Street Mall, and maybe more; it was fun trying to figure out where the scenes were shot. The best was the Manners Street KFC.

Despite some very serious bouts of misfit-ness. It all ends happily.

The film is a little close to home, for most people; that might explain why there was less laughter during the movie. Most people have had bouts of misfit-ness, so some of the funnier scenes are tinged with ‘cringe’. American Pie this film is most definitely not – and a good thing too.


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