Django Unchained

Django UnchainedSo this Friday the time finally came to watch Quentin Tarantino’s new film, his follow-up to 2009’s Inglorious Basterds. As always the films production was the subject of loads of media scrutiny, everyone vying to know what Tarantino’s dreaming up next. Django sees another change in genre for the auteur switching from the World War II setting to that of the great plains of the Wild West. The plot follows Jamie Foxx’s Django, a slave who is recruited by travelling bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) who takes him on as an apprentice of sorts. Django then tell Schultz of his past and the heart wrenching story of how he got split from his wife, the pair then make it their mission to retrieve his wife from the hands of oppression but standing in their way is Leonardo DiCaprio’s Calvin Candie.

With all Tarantino’s films the dialogue is always so impressive its quite scary and Django is no exception. Much like Inglorious’ twenty minute bar scene Unchained features a tension building masterpiece as Schultz and Django negotiate with Candie over dinner. There is never a second where the talking feels talkie. It is all just massively entertaining. The acting by all involved just compliments Tarantino’s script almost perfectly. Jamie Foxx, although faltering slightly at times, provides us with an utterly lovable hero who it is impossible not to route for. On the other side of the spectrum DiCaprio sizzles as the films prickly antagonist, here Leo is different from anything I’ve seen him do before adding a deliciously evil camp quality to his villain and further proving himself to be one of the greatest actors of our time. But as with Inglosrious Basterds its Waltz who completely steals the show as Schultz, the camera is drawn to him and as a viewer you would be happy if it never left, every single line he says is as close to perfect as acting can get ensuring that a no point during the films lengthy running time do you even consider turning away from the screen.

The masterfully crafted shooting scenes are so ridiculous but handled so masterfully that the make for the most entertaining action sequences of recent times leagues above what you get in the straight-up actioners such as The Expendables. Tanrantino manages, again to create a film so entertaining that I can’t see anything ever beating it. This is his best work since Pulp Fiction.

 

Fear Revolution Squad – 16.01.13

I better start by apologising for basically taking a week off from blogging but it was my birthday so what are you gonna do about it? I have, though, over two weeks managed to give you a nice spread of media reviews. They kicked off with my review of Channel 4’s recent mini-series The Fear. Which was followed by Only Revolutions which completed my reviewing of all Biffy’s albums, watch this space for my review of their new album Opposites which is out in just over a week. Then finally we moved back on to movies with my review of Gangster Squad.

Well please do look around the blog and any comments you may have are greatly appreciated. Today I’ll leave you with Arnie:

Gangster Squad

GANGSTER SQUADSo last Friday was my birthday and as part of my celebrations I went to go and see Ruben Fliescher’s new movie, Gangster Squad. Boasting an all star cast that includes Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Josh Brolin and Sean Penn there was much to get excited about for this mob movie. It seems the critics didn’t get what they wanted but in my opinion they were looking for the wrong things.

The story line is very similar to The Untouchables something which probably didn’t work in the movies favour because it reminds the audience of one of the all-time greats. This is the films biggest problem, I think reviewers got the impression Gangster Squad was attempting to be the next Untouchables, they were expecting an epic crime opus on that kind of level. What they got was something completely different, and I think Fleischer has actually hit the nail on the head.

Everyone knows its near impossible to meet the quality of some the entries into the cops-chasing-mobster genre that Gangster Squad doesn’t even attempt to compete with them and in doing so comes out a much better movie than it would have had it tried be one of those movies. It is instead happy to give the audience some pure wish fulfilment. Character’s are hardly built upon at all, what we’re worried about here is guns, girls and clinical coolness, most of which is delivered to us on a silver platter by the effortlessly cool Ryan Gosling. It would be an injustice for me not to mention how much Emma Stone was a highlight particularly when in full-on Jessica Rabbit mode as pictured above. All the cast seem to have a ball here, all completely happy to be charicatures rather than fully fleshed characters. No matter what the critics say this movie is one of the most entertaining I’ve seen in a long while and it deserves more credit than it has got.

 

Only Revolutions

OnlyRevolutionsSo Biffy Clyro’s new double album, Opposites, will be upon us in exactly twenty days meaning the time has come to review their last studio effort, Only Revolutions and thus leave you with a review on every Biffy album to date. Released back in 2009 Only Revolutions had the almighty challenge of following up the bands most successful album, Puzzle, making it their first release as a huge commercial band. They had the task of pleasing their old fans and new ones in an album that was expected to be a big commercial success.

It has since become the bands biggest selling record further cracking the mainstream and bringing the Scottish trio to the forefront of British music. It received good press as well, the album has a score of 79 on Metacritic and was nominated for the Mercury Prize in its year of release which further boosted its sales. Despite all this, though, I have to say it is my least favourite album of theirs. My friends who knew back when this came out may call a hypocrite now because when it came out I made a rather rash statement that it was their best but like me explain how my mind has changed over time.

Biffy’s first three albums all had a much more raw underground sound that gave their music a lot more depth making it more rewarding on repeat listens. With Puzzle a lot of their more heavy sounds were no longer present but the record itself worked as a whole better than anything they’d done before which sort of made up for the lack of hard rock. Only Revolutions on the other hand, seems as if the heavier stuff is still missing and the album is not as much a complete piece as Puzzle feels. It is their only album of theirs which has some dud tracks such as Many of Horror and Know Your Quarry both of which are bland and far too normal to portray Biffy’s famous awkwardness, perhaps pushing the band in a more mainstream less interesting direction. Having said that there are tracks here as well that are quite the opposite fully showing how weird the group can be making for much more interesting and unique listening, Born on a Horse, Cloud of Stink and Whorses for example but all of which still lack the real visceral punch that was present on Infinity Land and its predecessors. It comes as a surprise as well that despite said tracks giving you a bit more of a taste of authentic Biffy the stand-out track is the acoustic track God and Satan a song which features some of Simon Neill’s most interesting lyrics to date but it seems a shame that a band I previously loved for their heavy tracks have lost a certain edge making the album as a whole feel disappointing.

From some things I’ve heard from Opposites I think we can expect a good mix of old and new Biffy styles, perhaps the choice to make it a double album will provide the band enough scope to fully flesh out both of their creative sides, perhaps Opposites could be the bands true masterpiece, we shall have to wait and see, watch this space for my review once the album’s out…

 

The Fear

The Fear

 

Channel 4’s four-part miniseries tells the story of Richie Beckett (Peter Mullan), a Brighton-based entrepeneur who has a history of organised crime, and his two sons  Matty (Harry Lloyd) and Cal (Paul Nicholls). The series begins as a fairly normal British crime story with our three protagonists getting themselves involved in some less than savoury goings on but it’s not really until episode two that the show gets its own unique identity. The difference being that Richie is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s causing him to lose control of his actions and memory, his reformed personality starts to merge with his ruthless past and his worsening memory means he doesn’t know some of the crazy stuff that he’s doing through it all.

The performance from Mullan is the shows greatest triumph as he masterfully portrays both sides of the character. On the one side he’s a violent, unpredictable mob boss who doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty and on the other he’s a poor, old man trying to do right by his family but can’t because of the state of his mind. It’s not really till the final episode that we see the character’s full sensitivity. Unfortunately his supporting cast are not quite of the same calibre, both Lloyd and Nicholls are often unconvincing and nearly always generic in their roles and are completely eclipsed by Mullan. I found I didn’t care about these two only their dad.

Overall it’s the shows inconsistency that means it doesn’t fill it’s potential. While the idea of this character falling further in dementia and the way it is dealt with is superb the other areas of the plot just don’t have enough about them to be memorable. All the criminal goings-on feel bland and un-inventive. What is an incredible premise for a programme is unfortunately not fully realised by it’s more generic plot areas. The ending as well seemed a bit of a let down. For The Fear there is as much to praised as there is criticised ultimately making it an entertaining watch but nothing much more than that.

Killer Sunny Show – 02.01.13

So in the post-Christmas I got round to watch the last few episodes of the latest series’ of two of my favourite sit-coms in the world. The first was the eighth series of Peep Show and the second was, coincidentally, the eighth season of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. And sandwiched in between the two I watched William Friedkin’s comedy drama Killer Joe.

Well I’ve kept this one short for once and I’ll leave you with this fantastic new Tim Burton-directed Killers video: