Marking the first of few belated reviews that will be hitting the page soon is Aronofsky’s Biblical epic, Noah. The films received some varied reviews, and I did approach slightly apprehensively. Though I’m a huge fan of Aronofsky, the sword-and-sandal historical epic starring Russell Crowe has had more than its fair share of duds, but boring casting aside I entered with an open mind and came out pleased with what had been produced.
Telling the famous story was never going to be an easy task, not least because of the minuscule length of its source material. Obstacle one would be to stretch this short story into a two-hour screen epic. What’s been added is a battle between two groups of humans, one led by Noah and including some giant rock monsters formed by angels and the other headed by Ray Winstone and a load a sinful heathens against the destruction of the entire planet. It is, as you’d expect, absurd and slightly mad but it manages to pull it off. The characters are very well drawn particularly Noah himself who is not shown as a holier than thou know-it-all but a troubled man battling internally with what he believes he must to for his God and what he feels is right for his family. He is far from perfect and as the plot bears on it becomes more and more apparent that he may, in fact, not be the hero his family once believed him to be. He’s held in place though by his wife, Naameh (Jennifer Connelly) who provides the films standout performance in a challenging role. Emma Watson also performs as would be expected and the rest of the cast, though not brilliant, just about hold things together. I found though that what gives Noah is real quality is the pacing and build of tension which is kept throughout its run time. The fight scenes are given a sense of urgency from Mansell’s score which is repetitive but highly effective.
When every other blockbuster is a superhero movie and the ones that aren’t a sci-fi it makes for a nice change to have something Biblical and Aronofsky does a good job of keeping the action alive while honouring one of history’s oldest stories and injecting it with a style not many other directors would be capable of. While Aronofsky purist will be pining for a more artistic affair this delivers on the levels you would expect of something on this scale.
When news of The Bling Ring first spread, I must admit, I actually got pretty excited. Not only has Sofia Coppola proved herself as a restrained and artistic director with the likes of Lost in Translation and Somewhere, but also because it boasted Emma Watson looking ridiculously fit as a rich Hollywood bitch. That aside though it did seem an interesting premise for a movie, based on the real group of teens who burgled celebrities homes by following their twitter feeds and finding the houses on google maps. But it also seemed an unusual choice for Coppola whose previous best outputs have been arty, sentimental affairs with slow moving plots, instead exploring human emotion on a more basic level. Perhaps that’s why, then, that The Bling Ring is ultimately a confused movie.
When it begins we are bombarded with some bass heavy music that sets up a super stylised vision of life for these teenagers growing up in Hollywood, surrounded by celebrity and greed. From the off, Coppola’s comment on social media is made clear and throughout the film facebook, twitter and smart phones are never far. One of the films most insightful scenes comes in the mid-section when the group go for a night out and there are moments where every single one of them are on their phones, an all too familiar scene for me! But while at points the film does make some very acute social comment what it doesn’t quite grasp is a mood and style of it’s own. As the robberies continue, getting larger and larger each time and things start to get a bit more serious for the gang we start to get these prolonged slo-mo shots of the characters standing on their own, or in one particularly strange moment the one of the characters singing into their webcam and while this attempt to change the mood could have been successful Coppola still attempts to keep this youthful pop video feel to the other scenes. Meanwhile the story gets lost amongst it all, having only read a few small articles about the real Bling Ring I was hoping for the movie to show me something I didn’t know, I was bitterly disappointed. It seems that plot wise Sofia has only just scratched the surface of what was going on in these guys minds. The long slo-mo’s worked well in other films like Lost in Translation because the movie was about emotions but here this is a movie about real people and she fails to give us a proper insight into their lives.
While The Bling Ring isn’t unenjoyable to watch and it’s cast does perform well with such a limited script and muddled direction (that said Watson’s accent occasionally doesn’t quite work) the movie doesn’t quite do what I had expected. There’s a much better movie to be made about this group of desensitised youths of the information age and Coppola doesn’t manage to dig beneath the surface.
There are very few people in comedy that reach the level of Superbad and Pineapple Express, writing duo Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, though, have managed to bring us two classic comedies and this month they follow them up with This Is The End. We’ll respectfully forget that The Green Hornet ever happened. The premise for the pair’s new movie sees a troupe of the finest comedy talents in the business all play themselves as they attempt to survive the apocalypse. The cast boasts Jonah Hill, James Franco, Craig Robinson Danny McBride, Michael Cera and Emma Watson and numerous cameos from other ridiculously famous people!
For me, This Is The End completely lived up to expectations and even surpassed them in some aspects. The movie starts off just as you’d expect with a montage of Seth Rogen and old friend Jay Baruchel getting stoned off their tits before heading over to James Franco’s showbiz party. It doesn’t take long before the end of the world starts to happen but before it does we’re treated to some of the funniest moments with Michael Cera abusing cocaine like Charlie Sheen and the laugh level is set from there on and never drops. It would be easy to criticise this movie for being too silly and while it hints at having serious moments about the world ending and everyone around them dying they never deliver and it comes as a bit of a shock at the end when they attempt to craft some kind of emotive reaction from you. But the films so likeable in other aspects it also doesn’t take much to look over its flaws and just soak in the comedy genius. Stand-out performances come from Danny McBride who is on top form really just being an asshole to the rest of the group and Jonah Hill who is completely self-important and patronising having won his Oscar, I won’t spoil anything for you but an Exorcist reference involving Hill provides another of the films funniest highlights. Emma Watson also brings a few good laughs but don’t be fooled by the trailer shes not any more than an extended cameo appearance really.
With This Is The End Rogen and Goldberg have struck gold for a third time with a hilarious stoner comedy that firmly places them at the top of the comedy world. The Worlds End will have to do something really special to top this.