Nobel’s Last Will

June 5, 2012 at 6:53 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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A chance came up to see a Scandinavian film – Nobel’s Last Will – the other night, and I enjoyed it. The scenes of Stockholm in winter and at night did not do the film any harm.

The plot revolves around three strong women: Annika Bengtzon (Malin Crépin), Kitten (Antje Traue), and Caroline von Behring (Anna von Rosen). Annika is a journalist – a crime reporter – mother and wife. Kitten, real name never revealed, is a professional killer. Caroline is head of the Nobel committee for the medicine prize. The three meet at the gala ball following the Nobel Prizes ceremony, and before the ball is over one will be dead, one will have been shot, and one will have had a ‘gag’ order served on her.

On the face of it, a Nobel prizewinner was the target of an attempted assassination by terrorists, but Annika is not sure.

The film follows Annika through a series of twits and turns till she confronts the mastermind behind the killings – as the film progresses the bodies stack up.

The film is in Swedish – with sub-titles. Which just adds to the feel of the film. The film and the Swedes are very different from the run of the mill Hollywood thrillers.

There are some nice touches: Annika tells a boy who has been bullying her son at day care that she will “kill him” if he threatens or hurts her son again. This showed me that she was not that different from Kitten!

See it if you get a chance. The fact that practically everyone looks very attractive in a Scandinavian way doesn’t do the film any harm 🙂

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The Adjustment Bureau

April 13, 2011 at 8:35 am | Posted in Dance Review, Film Review | Leave a comment
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I went to see The Adjustment Bureau the other day, being not sure what to expect, but intrigued by the idea of the an exploration of pre-destiny.

So Matt Damon plays David Norris – a man seemingly set on the road to be the President of the United States – if only he could control his impulses and win a term as a Senator. Then into his life come Elise Sellas, played by Emily Blunt, and he feels fulfilled and wishes to spend the rest of his life with her. But, ‘The Plan’ says that they do not spend their lives together: he becomes senator and eventually President; she becomes the contemporary ballet dancer of her generation and eventuallys the choreographer of the age.

So begins a series of attempts – by the shadowy Adjustment Bureau – to keep them apart. But eventually they end up together.

Terrance Stamp, John Slattery, and Anthony Mackie are members of the bureau who try to keep things to ‘The Plan’. Stamp is the trouble shooter brought in to ‘fix’ things, when Mackie and Slattery are unable to keep things ‘on track’.

Mackie is disallusioned – hints throughout the film that he killed Norris’s father and brother – and ends up helping Norris. This was a concept that was explored: if you ‘believe’ what won’t you do? It is Mackie’s character who helps Norris.

The Adjustment Bureau seems to be a thinly disguised body of angels. And ultimately the film lets the viewer down: there is no confrontation with the ‘Planner’ – no confrontation with God. There is a message from the ‘one who writes the plan’ saying that ‘The Plan’ has been amended to let Norris and Elise stay together. What niggles, is that they were suppose to stay together in all previous iterations of ‘The Plan’: the film sidesteps the ‘infailability of the planner’ corundum. The closing final message is a statement about free-will.

The special effects are very good, and everyone puts in a good performance. There is even some chemistry between Damon and Blunt. I felt Blunt was perfectly cast as Elise; even her dance sequences seemed ‘real’.

Winter’s Bone

January 18, 2011 at 12:38 am | Posted in Film Review | 1 Comment
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Went to see this the other day and was very impressed by the tight story and sparse feel of the film.

Winter’s Bone follows Ree – an Ozaks teenager, played by Jennifer Lawrence – as she looks to find her father, so that the she can keep the family home. Her father has put the family home, no real palace, but better than a cave, up as surity for him appearing in court.

Ree navigates the male oriented, closed society, in the hills looking for her father. Her father is no real gem, as he is more often away, living at the edge of the law. Indeed, many of the people Ree encounters are to some degree living on the edge of the law.

People are unfaillingly polite, and direct, and everyone stands by their word – if you don’t want to, don’t say anything. A place of walk softly and be prepared to use the big stick you carry, or be prepared to be hit by the stick the other person is carrying.

Much of the people people petitions – she has no stick and no man to front for her – are related to her. Family mean obilgations, not necessarily warmth. Her uncle and cousins at times seem as brutal towards her as non-family members.

As the film develops, we see that really tricky problems are dealt with by the women – often in the shadows.

Ree needs to hang onto her home to raise her two young siblings and look after her mentally ill mother. Even the army – escape route for many in poor circumstance – is not a way out: she is too young; and the large sign-up bonus doesn’t come through immediately.

In the end her courage impresses everyone – those watching and those in the film.

The Tourist

January 5, 2011 at 12:24 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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You are sitting on the train to Venice and a beatiful women comes up and down opposite you; she engages you in conversation and next thing you know you are having dinner with her. When you get to Venice you find yourself in the most amazing hotel. That is pretty much how the Film begins. You are Johnny Depp, and the women is Angelina Jolie.

Timothy Dalton, as Chief Inspector Jones, comfortably plays an ‘M’ like character – which created amusement everytime he was on screen.

Paul Bettany, as Inspector John Acheson, had the more difficult role of the Inspector obsessed with catching some tax dodger – over 780 million pounds! And Acheson will risk anyone’s life to do it – including yours.

The film has a nice role reversal of the ‘male agent uses innocent women as cover’ with Jolie doing the using and Depp the innocent.

Venice looks picture perfect – tempted to visit Venice on the strength of it being such a wonderful backdrop.

I can’t go into the plot much more as it would give it away. But don’t worry, only the very bad characters get killed.

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

September 29, 2010 at 8:39 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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I never saw the prequel, but I though it might be interesting.

It certainly explains the causes of and the current global financial recession very well, and for this alone, it is worth seeing the film.

Gordon Gecko, played by Michael Douglas, is the inside trader from yesteryear, released from federal prison, in upstate New York. You are never sure if he is reformed or just trying to get back into the game. We find out at the end.

There is host of shady dealers and bankers.

Shia LaBeouf and Carey Mulligan play the main characters. They are engaged; Winnie (Mulligan) is Gecko’s estranged daughter; and Jake (Labeouf) is her fiance. Jake is an investment banker. Winnie runs a not-for-profit news web site, and has a million dollar trust fund that her dad wants (back).

The move takes place at the tail end of the recession. Jake’s bank collapses, and as he tries to stay afloat and strike back at the bank that took down his, we see him discover his powers and the way the world really is. Winnie leave him.

In some respects this is a master-and-the-apprentice movie. Though at times it is not clear who is the master: Gordon or clearly sleazy Bretton James (played by Josh Brolin).

The end is a little unsatisfactory – Gecko reforms, and he gets back with Winnie, and she gets back with Jake.

Inception

September 6, 2010 at 1:23 am | Posted in Film Review | 1 Comment
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Spoiler: Plot details revealed !

I went to see Inception, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, the other day – I had a spare two hours.

The film is well made, with a complex plot. DiCaprio’s character litterally gets into people’s minds to steal secrets – as they dream. In the film, DiCaprio is hired to plant an idea – something that is suppose to be impossible. To do this DiCaprio and his team of dreamers will have to go deep into the target’s – Joseph Gordon-Levitt – mind.

The film is set in the target’s mind, inside a dream, inside a dream, inside a dream, … . It is all very complex. An additional complication is that the dreamers need to have physical control of the target’s body, to hook up instruments and inject a series of drugs.

Unfortunately, the end is telegraphed to the audience well before the end – does DiCaprio really get out of the target’s mind? or his own for that matter.

Oh the special effects – computer graphics – are very good.

Killers

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?

Knight and Day

February 8, 2010 at 1:29 am | Posted in Film Trailer Review | Leave a comment
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Prior to the screening of Avatar, the following trailer registered with me.

Feb 7, 2010 by Film_Trailer_Hanger

This action thriller stars Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz.

It looks like Collateral meets The Scarecrow and Mrs King meets Bird on a Wire – with Cameron Diaz in the Kate Jackson / Goldie Hawn character.

Lots of apparent action and Tom Cruise quietly sending himself up.

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Probably good for a rainy day.

Breach

September 22, 2007 at 6:20 pm | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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Sep 22, 2007 by Film_Hanger

Based on the true story of FBI Intelligence Analyst Robert Hanssen – who from 1979 to 2001 passed secrets to the Soviet Union.

This film follows the months in 2001 when the FBI suspect that Hanssen is the ‘mole’ and place FBI Investigative Specialist Eric O’Neill close to him. O’Neill is not told the real reason why Hanssen is being investigated and this initially leads to divided loyalties; and O’Neill forces his handler to tell him the truth.

The film explores loyalty at a personal level – O’Neill’s marriage is placed under great strain, as he cannot tell his wife the reason’s for his strange comings and goings. Why Hanssen who is deeply religious and apparent contemptious of the godless Soviet system yet spies for them is briefly explored: a combination of money and generally annoyance that he is ignored by the gun toting political bureaucrats

The film held my attention, but at times I found that it was not very believable. O’Neill has to lie to his wife and Hanssen – constantly. At time, the lies would not stand up to close scutiny. The pager that O’Neill’s handler gives him promises to blow his cover everytime it goes off.

I can’t help comparing this film with The Falcon and the Snowman, which I felt was slightly better.

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The Bourne Ultimatum

September 16, 2007 at 6:00 pm | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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Sep 16, 2007 by


Film Hanger

Paper Hanger Blog
Wellington
New Zealand

The Bourne Ultimatum

The third film in Jason Bourne’s quest to find himself. As usual with these kinds of film – action / thriller – I put my brain into neutral and cruised. The first 80% was one long action sequence and had one of the best fight-in-a-bathroom sequences I have for sometime. It got to the point where I wondered how it would end. How it ended was a bit of a disappointment. Bourne is the product of brain washing – by the flashbacks, using some Gregory-Peck-Manchurian-Candidate techniques. Despite the best that Bourne’s former colleagues can throw at him, Bourne wins through some spectacular fights and crashes. In the end, it felt like Die Hard (1,2,3 or 4.0) mets the Manchurian Candidate.

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