Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Bridge On The River Kwai

 The BFI ( British Film institute ) has this film at number eleven of the greatest British films ever made. The AFI ( American Film Institute ) has it as the thirteenth greatest film made, ever. Which ever way you look at it The Bridge on the River Kwai is without question a great film. When you look that such greats as The Godfather, Gone With the Wind, and Citizen Kane are deemed to surpass it then one just knows, when watching it, they are viewing something of genuine greatness.

 When I say The Godfather surpasses it then it is high praise indeed!  Kwai may be thirteenth, and The Godfather third, but in all reality there is so little between them it is almost impossible, if not pointless, to say why with any certainty. I'm saying this just to put into context just how great Kwai is as it deserves to rated as one of the very best films of all time. It reminds me of my uni assignments. An A+ was 20/20, whereas an A was 18/20. If The Godfather is an A+ and 20/20 the Kwai, is a 19/20. There really is so little between them as they are both as flawless as a film can get.

 The film is based on the novel by Frenchman Pierre Boulle. I have read it, but a least twenty years ago now. I didn't actually think much of it then, but must read it again being somewhat older, and hopefully wiser. I have never actually seen the movie in its entirety before. When it played on telly many moons ago, and I was much younger, its length and pacing, was too much for me to see through to the end. Things have certainly changed because the other night I sat in absolute awe of this greatest of films.

 I rented the double disc which has a thirty minute documentary on one which goes into the making of the film. It is well worth seeing because it is incredible the troubles this film ran into. When you realise as much you can only marvel at how the final product turned out. It is testament to all involved and their professionalism. Many great films have under gone such problems, and we can only wonder how such quality came out of adversity. Casablanca is a classic example, how good a film is it when compared to the behind the scenes goings on?! I do recommend a viewing of this short piece because it is certainly interesting especially if you watch it immediately after the film. It is interesting to note that Pierre Boulle was not consulted in anyway scriptural. The film is only based on his novel and not a straight making of it, ( even though it follows it fairly faithfully ).

 I've always been aware that Alec Guinness was awarded an Oscar for his performance in Kwai. But what is interesting is he was never considered for the role being quite literally the last resort!! When you watch the film with that in mind it really shows how fortunate it was for posterity he actually got the role. I have been a particular critic of the Oscars over the years. They are deeply flawed and too political in nature at times ( as are all the other major awards ). But they do often get it dead right. Alec Guinness' Oscar win for me personally is one of the greatest ever. Period.

 Kwai is a great film but it is Guinness' performance that makes it. It is unquestionably his film and rates as one of the greatest acting performances ever filmed. There have many Oscars awarded for sub-standard performances, and Oscars awarded for performances that weren't an actors best, but with Guinness it was dead right and shows how Oscars should be awarded. For the right
performance at the right time. 

 Alec Guinness may have put in a stellar performance but he was a pain to direct!! David Lean was a fine director with some very good films under his belt. Guinness felt the book was too anti-British and yet Lean did not. He and Guinness clashed many times over how his role as Nicholson was to be played. Guinness wanted Nicholson to be light hearted and amusing. Lean wanted him to be a quintessential English 'bore'. Lean prevailed, and it is to his credit as his view was correct. He got the best out of Guinness even if he wasn't happy with the character. He deserved his Oscar undoubtedly but Lean must take a huge amount of credit for Guinness' success.

 Interestingly Lean got so annoyed with Guinness that when he was finished he told him to 'fuck off' and was glad to have an American actor in Holden coming as he'd be less trouble!!! Holden provided one problem though because he had a very hairy chest and had to have it shaved each day before shooting!! He was apparently highly embarrassed by this. I have always been somewhat cold toward Holden as an actor. He is superb in Kwai but the AFI has him in their top twenty American actors and yet Paul Newman isn't there. I rate Newman a far superior actor than Holden, but that is the thing with best ofs etc, as they are only opinions and not set in concrete. They are really nothing more than fun ways of judging.

 Sessue Hayakawa, the Japanese actor who plays Saito was over sixty at the time and considered too old for the role. Having watched him I could not believe he was over sixty!! I think he is superb even though as an actor he brought his own problems. The main one being his lack of English as he was a mainly mainstream Japanese actor. He had enough to learn his lines but what he didn't realise was he had to know when to use them in a scene!! Lean pulled his hair out as he had to prod Hayakawa to say his lines at the correct times. It all seems farcical and I can only wonder at how this film was ever made!

 In its day Kwai was an incredibly expensive movie to make. It's $3 million budget seems almost laughable now but in 1957 it was huge money. This was well before CGI and there were no special effects of the type we take for granted today. This makes the film have an almost timeless air as Kwai hasn't dated visually as many films have from the same era. Again the behind the scenes stuff is really interesting. The blowing up of the brigde they only had one chance of capturing for instance. There were scenes that had to be filmed in the river itself and Lean was almost drowned at one stage. The train in the final scenes actually de-railed and all sorts of drama ensured to get it back on the tracks so the bridge blowing could be filmed.

 The bridge itself may look good but I believe is engineering nonsense. Apparently the makers wanted a bridge that was more asthetically pleasing than those actually constructed during the war. The film is riddled with historical in-accuracies which in their time caused much controversy, but I say that being based on a novel, and not actual fact, then its artistic license prevails. As a film it makes no pretence to historical acuracy. It certainly isn't demeaning to those who were prisoners of the Japanese as Boulle based the novel on his own experiences as a prisoner of war.

 Normally I'm a stickler for historical accuracy if a film is based on historical events. Kwai is very loosely based on the Burma Railroad. Much controversy arose when it was released regarding the portrayel of Nicholson. In the film he is depicted as collaborating with the Japanese in building the bridge. He does, but he has the motive of keeping the men disciplied, and to prove a point to the ( initially ) sadistically minded Saito. For right or wrong. Saito himself mirrors very well the prevelant Japanese view to prisoners of war. If they surrendered then they shamed themselves, and hence forfited thier rights.

 The film also doesn't depict the awful conditions the prisoners were kept and worked under. In 1957 it was deemed unsuitable for audiences to view such condiotions. It is somewhat sanitised and much of the critism of the film must be dis-counted as it is strictly fictional. Even though Nicholson helped the Japanese build the bridge in all reality under the real  circumstances the sabotage and deliberate slowness of the work did happen. The allied soldiers done their unmost under the conditions to not co-operate.

 The whole film is superb from start to finish. For me it has two stand out scenes. The first being when the prisoners are marching into the camp whistling that famous of tunes the Colonel Bogey March. It is a Great War tune that apparently had some quite ribald lines. It was whistled as they entered the camp as an 'up you' to the Japanese as the lyrics were mocking of Engalnd's enemies. The secongd great scene is towards the end when Nicholson and Saito meet on the bridge. Nicholson goes into his army carrer with his back turned to Saito. Guinness argued with Lean over having his back turned but Lean prevailed saying it would turn out just right. I think he is right and I think cinematic history has proved him so also. It is for me personally one of most favorite cinematic scenes.

 Like all the truely great films it not only has several great and memorable scenes it has a memorable line. Who can ever forget 'Madness, madnes' as the very final words of the film after the bridge has been destroyed? Nicholson may find something of re-demption in questioning himself as he falls onto the detonator saying 'what have I done?', but 'Madness, madness'' sums up the whole film in two words.
 The Bridge on the River Kwai is certainly a film with an interesting history behind it. It follows the novel very well except the book sees the bridge un-demolished. I strongly suggest you get the two disc set and watch the documentary on the making. After you do you'll only sit back and admire the film even more. It was made under some trying conditions in Sri Lanka, and yet the end result became one of the greatest films ever made. What a triumph over adversity, and when you realise that Alec Guinness was virtually a last gasp choice for the role of Nicholson you can only shake your head in wonder because of the fact he put in one the very, very best Oscar winning roles EVER.

  I absolutely loved every minute of this film. It has a run time of 161 minutes but it is perfectly paced. At no time does it drag or bog down. It is one of those films that you don't want to end!! For all the controversy in the end this film is, and will always remain, a masterpiece of the cinema. It has dated extremely well like all truely great films do. If you haven't seen it then I recommend you do. It is a film that is so good you can only wonder at why films can't be made as good any more. It is a very good example of not only a true cinematic epic, but is what real film making is all about. I would dearly love to have the opportunity of seeing it on the big screen where it belongs.

The site of the bridge in 2004
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The actual Bridge on the River Kwai in Thailand taken in 2004. The steel trusses are from Japanese war reparations as the originals were destroyed by Allied bombing during the war.


Wednesday, April 27, 2011


 The weather here has been absolutley atrocious so I decided to nip into the local theatre during the late afternoon instead of later at night. I didn't fancy driving there at night with it pissing down the way it has been and sitting in a theatre half wet. It would not have made for a pleasant experience.

 With Thor I wasn't expecting a great deal. I found myself un-interested in the trailer but knew my butt would be there no matter the impression the trailer gave off! To be honest I'm getting somewhat weary of these buble gum movies and yearn for some real quality cinema.  Unfortunately the only theatre that can scratch that itch is closed for major renovations so I'm somewhat stuck for choice.

 In saying that though I did venture out to Havelock North to see the brillianty moving Holocaust drama Sarah's Key last week which went someway to easing my appetite. But I want more!! I have struggled to write a review for Sarah's Key, and have made several atempts and faltered each time. It is a superb film and I want to get my thoughts of it right, and put into words in a way I can be perpetually happy with. It has been damn difficult as a truely great film isn't the easiet to critiqe and write up.

 But to Thor!!  It is the school holidays and the theatre was pretty much packed with kids. Oh great I thought to myself. But actually this lot of youngsters were quite well behaved and I didn't notice them throughout the movie. That is a good sign because I always believe if a movie isn't engaging the kids then it is either rubbish, or a bit too mature for them. Thor has covered both adult and childrens bases extremely well. It has enough to engage an adult, and isn't too complex for the youngsters. It is a difficult balancing act to achieve, and all credit to the makers as they have done it very well.

 But in covering both bases some of the dialogue was a bit lame and some lines were real clangers!! I did groan at times at some of the lines, and was somewhat embarrased at how awful they were. The movie itself isn't complex and very simple to follow and again emphasises the all things to all patrons. It isn't too complex for the kids or patroningly weak for the adults. I suppose in this day of CGI visual apearances are seen to cover any acting faults. There is some pretty average acting, but some of the lines are pretty ordinary which even Marlon Brando, on a good day, couldn't get anything good out of. But I suppose in being all things to such a cross section of audience these things can be accepted. I certainly did even though I somewhat critise them. But isn't that the point of a review? to critque the good and bad instead of just saying,  'good' or 'crap?? The dialogue must be seen within the context of what the movie is trying to achieve, which is namely bums on seats, and providing entertainment for all patrons. I do think Thor does that, and more then well.

 Anthony Hopkins shines, and maybe his star power prevailed, because his lines are superior and the old war horse is very gogd in his role. He has the age and bearing of a king, and as an actor the voice of authority needed for the role. He is head and shoulders above the rest of the cast. In saying that though the others aren't terrible, it is just the lines they have been saddled with that is the problem. They are somewhat simplistic which gives them no real chance of depth or expansion. They are just to be spoken adequately enough so as to be put into the movie. No more, no less. Maybe with the amount of money spent on the CGI there wasn't enough left for adequate real time acting or a better dialogue writer.

 The CGI is nothing new as such. Much of it I found reminded me of Lord of the Rings in styling. This isn't a bad thing as such because they certainly set the bar. But somehow I found myself yawning. Visually spectacular it was, yes! But I'm somewhat bored with the assault of CGI on my senses at the moment. Thor doesn't really provide anything new or sensational visually, but it is still a rollicking good watch and you do get your money's worth.

 Ultimately Thor is pure entertainment for a very diverse audience. I commend the makers for achieving such a balancing act. Some of the dialogue does unfortunately clang,  the kids won't notice as such but the matures will, I groanedbut let it go because I see where the makers have gone with this There is some good humour thrown in and I did laugh many times, it is aimed at us oldies, which again is all things to all patrons. Having Kenneth Branagh on board has certainly helped. I think his influence has lifted this from what could have been a very poor outing into something far superior. It isn't great I will say right now. But I shudder to think of what we could have got instead.

 In all Thor is a very entertaining watch and a perfect movie for when the weather is bad! It is CGI heavy with nothing really new, but in this day and age it is better than alot I have seen. If I had to grade Thor I would give it 7/10, and that for it's entertaintainment factor alone as if one is really honest it doesn't provide anything new or particularly dazzling, and some of the dialogue and its projection isn't, lets say, memorable! A good entertaining watch but ultimately another CGI super hero movie that is fairly much a one watch experience. 

I may appear heavily critical but Thor is worth seeing!! I  certainly did enjoy it and really have no gripes becuase I got more than I was initialy expecting. That is always a bonus isn't it?!! It provides for all and you will be entertained. Just don't expect The Godfather and you'll get what you paid for. In many respects it is the perfect movie for just sitting down in front of with the brain in neutral after a day of un-appreciated slavery from your employers.

Click here for a synopsis and more:

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 And here for the official site:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Hobbit....some thoughts.

 As you are all no doubt aware Tolkien's The Hobbit is to made into a movie. Well not a singular movie but two. Since that announcement I have been pondering this, and after some views I have read elsewhere I thought I'd sit down and air my own.

 I was delighted to know that Guillermo del Toro was to direct, and Peter Jackson to produce. del Toro for me would have brought another take on Middle Earth. I felt it was a good move because if Jackson had directed then the distiction between Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit would have too close, and ultimately led to a feeling of nothing new. For a wealth of reasons, all due to some real bullshit from the Kiwi actors involved, the whole project floundered. It is a disgrace to the New Zealand film industry that greed got in the way, and took intervention from the government no less to straighten out.

 Because of this del Toro had to quit as he couldn't sit around doing nothing as he has other projects to go on with. Shame on you New Zealand as his loss is The Hobbit's loss. I'm sure Peter Jackson will do a more than adequate job, but I do fear it will be more of LOTR.

 The other thing that worries me is the book isn't exactly complex or particuarly long. I cannot for the life of me see how making two movies is justified. It is nothing more than a money grabbing excersise. I'm concerned at how much artistic license Jackson is going to take in having to stretch a realitively short book out over two movies. He is surely going to add much to flesh the whole story out . If he does then for me The Hobbit will be a nonsense. One movie would surely have sufficed.

 Peter Jackson is a reasonable movie maker, but not great. LOTR was a triumph to be sure, but all he done was put onto the screen Tolkien's vision. The Lovely Bone's was a poor movie, and to be honest a butchery of the book. CGI is not enough to make a movie and Bones was a severe disappointment. It was an ambitious book to make into a movie but Jackson did stuff it up some what. With all the problems The Hobbit has gone through I'm sure Jackson will still put out a reasonable product. But I still can't help but feel that one movie was enough and I sincereley hope it looks different to LOTR.

 In many respects with the loss of del Toro Jackson is now in a no win situation. I feel no matter what he gives us he is going to be heavily critisied. The Hobbit, for all its problems, is now like a the proverbial albatross. He has to contracually make it. I just wish del Toro was still on board as I think the project needed a different visual approach to give a slight differentiation between LOTR and The Hobbit. But all said and done I do hope that the movies don't fail, but at this point in time I can't help but feel concern at what we will see. After all the problems maybe Jackson's heart isn't in it as it once was, and it may be seen in the final product. I just don't want more LOTR, and with del Toro we would not have got that.

 You outside of New Zealand may be interested to know that Jackson for some time has bandied around his desire to make a version of The Dambusters. He is an avid aviation buff, and I know he has personally interviwed ex-Bomber Command crews who flew Lancastors. He has also studied the plans of the said bombers, etc. At this point in time I don't know where the project stands as The Hobbit's problems have over shadowed all else Jackson wise.
 With the Dambusters Jackson for me shows why I don't rate him as a great film maker. He DOES NOT make films from original sources. He makes films from novels or other people's material. del Toro made Pan's Labyrinth which is a totally original film in everyway. For me Jackson should attempt the same thing instead of relying on CGI and famous novels books to make movies from.

 In another aside Jackson's film studio, which he funded from the success of LOTR, is just a short distance away from where my mother grew up as a kid during the late 40's, fifties, and early 60's. It is in the same road in Miramar, a suburb of our capital Wellington. It is by all accounts a huge complex. I haven't seen it yet, but many of the movies made today involving CGI are created there without much of the world knowing.

 Just a short dis-cousre! It may or not be of interest but I just wanted to put down in words some of my own views as much as for others to read as to get them straight in my own mind.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


 The first thing I noticed about Traffic is that it is now an eleven year old movie. I didn't bother with this when it was released because I'm not overly fond of Michael Douglas. When he and Catherine Zeta-Jones were married, and they constantly appeared in the tabloids, I liked them both even less. So Traffic was a movie I avoided much to my dismay, as after this, my first watch of it, I wish I had ventured into a theatre to see it back in 2000. My god how the years have flown by, we are into a new decade and yet I can vividly re-call Traffic when it was released in theatres across New Zealand as if it was only a matter of months ago, not years.

 Steven Soderbergh in Traffic has produced a very realistic and thought provoking look into drug trafficking. It highlights the trade within the American market for narcotics through varying points of view, from the traffickers, law enforcement, users, and an American judge charged with finding ways to stop the trade. The movie shows these four angles cleverly by concurrently running viginettes that swap between each protagnist. None of the characters actually meet, and Soderbergh has masterfully adopted a differing look for each individual story line within the movie. This was to show a clear distinction to the audience between each storyline. It is a superb technique and works well.

 For instance Benicio del Toro plays a Mexican cop who isn't bent or involved in the drug trade. His scenes have an almost yellowish tinge to them to show the heat and dustiness of Mexico, and to give an air of corruption. del Toro was nominated for an Oscar for his role and again, after watching this movie, I can't believe I haven't taken notice of, or seen, his talent before this year. For me, in a movie with so many big names, his is the stand out performance.

 If you enjoyed Eastern Promises ( about the sex slave trade ), and the quite brilliant 21 Grams, then I'm sure Traffic is for you. It mirrors Eastern Promises in having a valid point to make even though within a fictionalised format, and 21 Grams in the way it uses vignittes to tell four stories within one movie. The movie runs close to three hours but it is so well constructed that the running time is barely noticed. It is a very engaging movie, and one where the viewer is never bored or distracted. I'm pleased that such an important issue as the trade in narcotics has been made into such a creditable movie. It could have been sensationalised and twisted into nothing more than a propaganda excersise, but it has been shown it its true light from all angles, from the pusher to the end user. It is gritty stuff, utterly un-glamorous, and a realisitic reflection on the pain and suffering that narcotics inevitabley bring.

 I'm not overly fond of Michael Douglas but in Traffic I will give him his due. He plays his part very well as a judge given the task at looking into ways of winning the American governments so called 'War on Drugs'. I'm no expert on the subject suffice what I have seen on the news, in documentaries, and in current event magazines like Time, etc. What I gathered Douglas' character was charged with. He starts with heavy expectations on his shoulders, and alot of political baggage to endure with it. One can't help but feel if America's politicans are serious about stamping out the drug trade, or more interested in their own agendas. It isn't a good look at those in power, and the viewer quickly realises the enormous mountain the U.S faces from within that makes them their own worst enemy in winning the war. 

  At the sharp end is the DEA, amongst others, who are entailed with carrying out the enforcement and interdiction of the drugs coming into the country. They face an almost insurmountable job, and again the viewer can only sympathise with them as they battle the greed and pain of the trade. Don Cheadle is superb as one such agent. He is honest and wants to see an end to the trade. But as much effort as he puts in he knows the U.S is losing the war. To be sure he keeps pushing on but it comes home how hopeles their job is without the bite, and real political will and commitment needed  from the powers that be. One character, a small time seller who is witness protection sums it up thus to his protectors, ' Don't you know, the governement knows it can't win and gave up trying long ago'. 

 This character is about to testify against a big U.S pusher who had been seen arrested earlier in the movie. He has a contract put out on him so as he can't testify. The amount of money involved in the trade enables the hit to happen. Again the movie shows the dirty, and grim side to the trade. Greed has the ability to look after itself and the big dealer walks free. Catherine Zeta-Jones is his wife. Intially she confesses to knowing nothing of her husbands 'business' activities. But the longer he is jail,and the harder her finacial situation becomes, she involves herself. She likes the life style her husbands money brings her, and doesn't want to let it go. She goes to Mexico to keep the 'business' going. Again the greed of the trade is shown as is the sheer amount of money involved. This is the movies whole point as to why the U.S is struggling with the trade. Vast amounts of money, and a market that wants to be supplied.

 I particularly liked Traffic. It has a serious message and it tells it in an extremely credible way. It had to, for if it didn't then the whole movie would have been dis-missed, and a chance to show the misery of the drug trade would have been lost. It is easy as a viewer to fall into generalisations, Mexico this, Mexico that, the U.S that, etc, etc, and so on, and so forth. But the movie does attempt to show where the exact problems lie without overall generalisations. I liked how Douglas' daughter becames an addict on the very drugs he is charged with stopping. It is a good touch, and shows how drugs aren't just a scourge on the poor, but of all society whether rich or poor. It shows how the poorer classes are involved in the trade because of the money on offer, and because as far as the big pushers are concerned they are expendable. There are plenty more poor from where they came from.

 And it isn't just the poor in the U.S. del Tor's character risks his life to give the DEA information on a corrupt Mexican military officer in exchange for a baseball pitch so the local children have hope, and can see a future outside of selling drugs. The movie ends with him watching Mexican children playing baseball. It is a poignant ending, and a quietly subliminal one, as it shows sometimes the simplest of solutions will out do problems that millions and millions of dollars won't.

 This is a very good movie. Not only is it credible, but it is extremely well made which only emphasises the message. It is an unblemished look at the drug trade, and the pain and misery it brings. The amount of money involved from an insatiable market are at the core of the problem. The movie shows there is no quick fix or easy solutions, and superbly shows the trade from those high on top on both sides, the U.S politicians and law enforcement agencies on one, and the big pushers on the other. Then it goes to show the misey of the trade as black Americans in ghettoes are shown selling, and the results of addiction that show no remorse or distinction to the lives it ruins.

 Traffic is a very fine movie and I do recommend it to all. It is extremely well made with a lot of care and attention to deal to give it realism and credibility. The cast is excellent, with del Toro being a stand-out. As a movie to watch Soderbergh has used some really good touches, especially in the use of colour to distinguse between each story line. I liked how he switches between each without confusing the viewer . It is a well crafted movie with a powerful message, and well worth three hours of your time to watch. I was highly impressed because such a dis-tasteful and foul trade was clearly depicted without histrionics. In short it is an unblemished look at a trade that may make vast sums of money, but it also brings nothing but heart break and misery to all those on the end of it.

 Click here for a synopsis and more:

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Dances With Wolves

 Talk about out of sequence. I watched this several weeks ago on a Monday night, or more to the point early into the wee hours of Tuesday morning. It is was the director's cut and it is close on four hours long over two discs!! Now this one definitely played here in Napier. I can remember why I didn't see in it at the local theatre as I was in hospital being sliced and diced. So missed it this Kiwi did on the big screen, and you know has taken me twenty one years to finally see it!! After last weeks viewing I am a very, very disapponited person to have missed this on the big screen because this is an absolute big screen must to be seen in all its majestic glory.

Where oh where does one start to review a film like this?? I have heard all the raves and reviews but they could in no way prepare me for what my eyes and senses were subjected to. Some movies were just born to played on the big screen and this is one. All the way through I wished heartily I was in a theatre with a private showing. As great as it is one the small screen the big screen is its true domain, and if I could see just one truely classic film on the big screen then Dances With Wolves would be my number one choice. It is quite simply breathtaking.

 I  found this to be as close to flawless a film as it is possible to see. But in saying that there are two, and although minor, I will get out of the way first before extolling the many virtues of this, one of the truely great American films, ever. The film starts with Costner's character ( John J. Dunbar ), waking up in a hospital lucky to have avoided his wounded foot being amputated. He is an officer in the Northern army during the Civil War, and is dis-illusioned by it all. He attempts suicide by riding right in front of the Confederate lines, twice. Each run sees him unhit, and yet his actions provide the Northerners with heart , who charge the Confederates, and rout them out of their positions. An officer who saw Dunbar's actions considered it an incredibly brave action. He seees to it that Costner doesn't lose his foot to the saw bones and grants him an appointment of his choice.

 The problem for me with this scene is it is somewhat melo-dramatic and not really realistic. If a soldier wants to kill himself he has all he needs in his rifle of pistol. Either that or he would enlist in a forlorn hope or other suicidal type mission. To just ride out of his own positions is laughable because his own side would have shot him for attempting to desert. The scene should have seen Costner perform an heroic deed on the battle field, instead of the implausible suicide attempt. It is a small detail and one of only two small flaws within the whole film. The battle scenes were very good, and replicated the Civil War very well. The initial scene is only twenty minutes or so long, so its flaw is quickly forgotten as the film moves west and well away from the war. It is important though because it explains how, and why, Dunbar ends up alone at Fort Sedgwick. By choice.

 The second flaw is the acting of Mary McDonnell who plays a white woman ( Stands with a Fist ), who has grown up with the Sioux after being abducted as a child. She is used a a translator between Dunbar and the tribes medicine man, Kicking Bird. The premise of a white woman raised as a squaw isn't new or the problem here. Unfortunately McDonell just isn't convincing enough as an Indian raised person even though she was nominated for an Oscar. Look at Paul Newman in Hombre to get a comparison performance. Newman is incredibly convincing as a white man raised as an Indian. Of course Newman was one of the truely gifted actors and McDonell isn't in the same league. Right throughout the film she jarred me somwhat in being somewhat unconvincing. It is a challenging role to be sure, but her, and the premise of Costner riding in front of the Confederates in a suicide attempt are the only complaints I have in a other wise perfect film.

 Once the preamble of the first half hour or so is over the movie really gets to where it should be ( and where the viewer wants it to be ). Dunbar arrives at Fort Sedgwick to find it delapidated and abandoned. Costner as Dunbar is totally alone, and he starts narratting to the viewer his experiences. At first he is scared by the isolation and unknown of the prairie. His only companion is his horse, and then a wolf that starts to hang around but forever just out of touching distance ( He nick names it 'Two Socks' for its two white front feet ). Dunbar quickly comes to love his new life, and writes so in a journal he keeps. The isolation suits him and he feels no real need for human contact.

 He slowly repairs the fort and is mystified by the fact he hasn't seen any indians. This all changes one day when a few Indians try and steal his horse. Form here on in Dunbar slowly gains contact with the local Sioux and an uneasy bond starts to form. Many of the younger Indians don't trust him even though he finds an ill Stands With A Fist and brings her to the village. It is the tribes medicine man, who being somewhat older and moderate, who attempts contact and communication with Dunbar. He knows full well with one white man on the prairie then more will follow. He feels Dunbar is an honest man and if he can communicate with him then he can find out what is in store for his people.

He orders Stands With a Fist to translate for him and Dunbar. She is reluctant but does so. Dunbar and Kicking Bird quickly form a friendship based on mutual respect and understanding. Kicking Bird keeps attempting to pry from Dunbar information on when other white men will turn up and what will happen when they do. Dunbar is reluctant to divulge such information because he knows the attitudes of whites to the Indians. As he is accepted more and more into the tribe he writes in his journal , which is narrated to the viewer, 'everything we know about these people is wrong'.

He has a hiccup along the way after white hunters slaughter many buffalo leaving few for the Indians. The Indians retaliate and kill the white hunters. Dunbar is appallled and realises there is still great distance between him and the Sioux peolpe. Dunbar marries Stands With a Fist, and all but abandons the fort to live with the tribe. He learns their language and customs. He even arms some of the tribe when most of the braves are attacking another tribe and helps drive them off. And then, in possibly the best scene of the whole movie, he also paticipates in a buffalo hunt with his rifle. He saves a young Indians life and is basically admitted into the tribe as one of their own. He is given the name Dances with Wolves because several of the Indians had seen him frolicking with Two Socks months before.

 He and Kicking Bird make a pilgrimage to a holy site where Dunbar finally divulges his fears to Kicking bird over what will happen when the whites come. Kicking Bird says that is what he suspected. We then see Fort Sedwick populated by a group of soldiers. Dunbar tells the tribe they must move on and returns to the fort to get his journal. He is captured and treated as a traitor because he refuses to become a translator. He is beaten and tauted for 'becoming Indian'  He is arrested and hauled off back to civilisation for trial for abandoning his post. He is freed after the wagon is ambushed by the tribe. On the way he witnessed the shooting of Two Socks as it followed him in the wagon.

 Up to now the movie had been superb, but the last half hour really set it off as Dunbar's world collapses. All he has learnt to love is destroyed. The wolf is killed ( a very sad scene), and the soldiers bring with them all the brutality, ignorance, and destruction Dunbar knew they would. He sees before him the end of the Indian way of life, and the end of the frontier as an era. It is extremely poignant. For me the whole movie just lead up to this ending.

 What a truley masterful movie Dances With Wolves is. Once Dunbar reaches the fort the whole movie opens up into one incredible viewing experience. It is superbly narrated by Costner for much of it as he is totally alone. The cinematography is simply breathtaking, and great testament to the almost timelessness of the movie. Dances with Wolves just hasn't dated visually which brings home to the viewer its inherent quality. The colour of the praire, and of the Indians is beautifully realised. It is hard to believe that this was made twenty one years ago as it is still extremely fresh looking. I sat through its almost four hours in total awe, and with every scene just wished that I was in a theatre because this is a movie the small screen can do no justice to. I sincerely hope that one day I will get to experience this movie on the big screen because that is where its majesty can be fully appreciated.

 It is hard to believe now isn't it that the name Kevin Costner is now spoken with dismisal, and almost derision? In the 1990's he was a big name, and it is amazing how far he has fallen. Some say Waterworld was his undoing, and yet it wasn't a bad action/drama. It was a commercial flop but it was a big budget entertainer and a movie I genuinely liked. The money for such an expensive movie of course came from his success with Dances With Wolves. Even if Costner has fallen from favour he has left the cinematic world with this masterpiece, and to that I'm thankful.

 Has Costner ever been better in a film? I seriously doubt it. What I particularly like about him as an actor in this is that he is never egotistical or over bearing. I never felt a 'I'm Kevin Costner' vibe from him. If he'd started that then this film would have failed. It's great strength is Costner became the part, and left all the Hollywood nonsense at the door. He cannot be praised enough for his performance, and it is a reminder of the force he once was.

 All in all Dances With Wolves is unquestionably one of the greatest American films ever made. For me it brought home the Indians true plight more than any movie of its type before or since. It shows that they were not indiscriminate savages who killed for the hell of it. In most cases they were a quite gentle people with a deep set pride and dignity. It is no wonder Kicking Bird feared for the future of his people. He knew the white man were going to be like a plaque, and subsequent history has shown us they were.

 As a movie I have two minor quibbles which I have alluded to. McDonell had a very challenging role and done very well in it. I just felt unconvinced by her, and yet the whole movie is so strong that it doesn't effect it in anyway. You may disagree with me and that is ok, it is just something I took away from the movie and must comment on. I say to you get the director's cut and put aside four hours to watch this. Believe me you won't be disappointed as the four hours will not feel like four. The movie moves along very well without any slow spots or the need, let alone feeling, for the fast forward button.

 This is a truely magnificent movie, Brilliantly realised, filmed, acted, and produced , it thoroughly deserves to be recognised as one of the true greats of American cinema. If you haven't seen it then do your self the favour and do so. A truely magnificent, beautiful, thought provoking, emotional, sweeping epic, quite simply cinema at its best.

Click here for a synopsis and more:

 And here for more:

And here for more:

 I don't pretend to be any sort of expert on the North American Indians or their plight. What I saw in Dances With Wolves has tied in with what I have read though. If you are interested in two reasonable books on the subject then I recommend both:

Crazy Horse and Custer, and Undaunted Courage, by Stephen Ambrose.

 Crazy Horse is yes, about 'that' Crazy Horse of Little Big Horn fame, but Ambrose also details very well the attitudes and mis-conceptions the whites had in regards to the Indians. Dunbar is shown in the movie to refer to this. Undaunted Courage is about the Lewis and Clark expedition. Lewis kept a very detailed journal. In it he describes the various Indian tribes he encountered. His observations are very much mirrored in the movie. Both books are extremely readable as was Ambrose's style. His later books, such as Band of Brothers, were never of the quality of his earlier writings, and these two works are two of his best in my opinion.

Fast and Furious Five

 I must admit to being extremely sceptical about a fifth outing of the Fast and Furious movies. I've never been a great fan as they are nothing more than full tank empty head outings. The fourth instalment was poor to say the least, and I groaned when I saw a fifth movie was about to be released. Even worse I read earlier today there is to be a sixth one made!! Apparently....apparently! it is to the LAST one last . Ha.... heard that one before haven't we!!

 So I trundled down to the local theatre somewhat trepidly as I didn't really want to sit through another boy racer epic of awfulness. But do you know what?? Fast and Furious Five isn't too bad!! To say it is superior to the last is an under-statement, as it cleans the floor with it! I was honestly surprised how good it was. Good?....well maybe not good but certainly very, very entertaining, and I definitely got my money's worth in that regard. The session I went to was over full, and I was just about the oldest there. Not quite, but damn close. The majority was older teens, and twenty somethings. Judging from their reactions they left feeling entertained, having gorged on fast cars, hot babes, guns, explosions, and all sorts of other mindless entertainment.

 This has actually been released in New Zealand before the U.S. The poster we have here is different and I couldn't find our one to post as a comparison. The one I have put up is from the U.S release I believe. It was released here in N.Z today, 21.4.11, and will be released in the States 29.4.11. So little old N.Z is one of, if not the first, country in the world to see it! Just a little bit of trivia for you. It is interesting because some movies released in the U.S or the U.K/Europe can take upwards of four months before release here, and yet at other times movies are released down under before the bigger countries. ( like Paul ). Go figure!! ( I have a feeling to that True Grit was released here to before anywhere else in the world. I could be wrong but I re-call a big name movie about that time being played here first before any where else ).

 Also the title I believe is different in some countires. Here it is Fast and Furious Five, whereas in some countries it is to be titled Furious Five Rio. Again go figure!! So how 'good' is this fifth instalment? Well in short is a vast improvement over the last and well worth seeing. I cannot believe that I am sitting here typing those words after my initial reservations. The movie starts where the last finished. I instantly thought 'Here we go'! time for the bullshit to start. And it does. The first forty five minutes are cliqued crap and don't set up your opinions, or expectations, for the rest of the movie well at all. It is a shame because from there on in the movie is a ripper of an actioner.

 Did I mention the word crap? It is of course the usual Fast movie with plenty of absurd stunts, which are truely spectatcular, but will have you groaning in almost embarrassment. The dialogue is rubbish as to be expected, the plot is also rubbish and unoriginal. But it is still very entertainting as this is a no brainer at its very best. You won't be challenged to use a pun..just sit back and enjoy the ride!!
And it is a good ride. For its flaws, holes in dialogue, and such like, Fast and furious Five belts along at a good pace only tripping up several times. But it recovers sufficiently enough for it not to be noticed. The highlight of the movie is the stealing of a vault, and the susequent chase scene through the streets of Rio. Absolutely spectaculer with mayhem and carnage galore. For the quality of the movie as a whole this scene is well worth the entry price alone to see. It is very good and surprisingly long. You get more than your money's worth out of it.

 There isn't much more to say. It is far superior to the last three sequels, which isn't hard considering the limited acting skills on offer, and premise of a bunch of aging streets racers on the run. If you go in with the brain turned off you won't get anything less than expected. It is standard fare but it is worth seeing none the less. As stated the vault scene is a ripper and I do believe you will enjoy it, and be pleased you went along and spent your hard earned cash. Basically, just buckle up people, and enjoy the ride...but leave your brain at the door cos you ain't going to need it!!

 No links I'm afraid!! Because it hasn't been released State side there are no reviews!!!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Scream 4

 I just had to get out of the house!!!!!!! That is basicaly the only reason I went over to Hastings to see this fourth instalment of the Scream franchise. Cabin fever I was a suffering from a badly!! So I bit the financial bullet and trundled on over to the 6.00p.m screening. At 7.54p.m I wandered out actually quite pleased I made the effort as I was going to forego Scream 4 and maybe, just maybe catch it on DVD. The scary thing now is that the only release this week is Fast and Furious part 1 million!! I thought I wouldn't see Scream 4 and am adamant that I won't torture myself through more Furious and Fast garbage to the eyes and senses. But guess what folks! I'm sure my forty year old butt will be planted in a theatre this Thursday watching the ten millionth instalment of this boy racer rubbish!!

 Well first and foremost I thoroughly enjoyed Scream 4!! I don't know what I was expecting when I went as it has been ten years since the last instalment and I can't really re-call much about any of the movies in the franchise. Oh!! I lie...Iwell remember Drew Barrymore's butt in a cute pair of knickers as she ran around outside screaming. Don't know why that would stick in my do you??!! There are a few other bits and pieces but generally horrors aren't my thing, and have to be fairly remarkable to stick in my grey matter. The first Scream was very original, clever, and bloody scary. But the fourth doesn't offer anything new and is not even remotely scary.

 In many respects I enjoyed it more because of the lack of scares and jumps. It was more comedic in approach and there was a plethora of really great horror movie references. I particularly liked the start with the girl who states she hates the Saw franchise and the 'Gorno' genre. It is a tounge in cheek jab at the genre and mirrors the opinions of many, myself included. Then that great Kiwi lass Anna Paquin has a jab at slasher films in general and their inherent cliques. All she gets is a knife in the guts and told to shut up because she 'talks too fucking much'! What made me laugh about Paquin is she is suposed to be a teenager and yet she is near on thirty!! Some of the other girls were well past their teenage years and looked like what they were, mutton dressed as lamb. It is always a major piss off to me when movies about teens have actors/actresses in their mid-twenties or so posing as teenagers. It looks stupid and is inherent to the horror genre. Maybe it was intentional in Scream 4 but it always bugs me.

 The lovely Emma Roberts is just twenty and fits the part perfectly. At first I couldn't place her and then it dropped as I sawher in Hotel For Dogs on telly several weeks ago. I didn't actually watch it. I just saw a part of it as I waited for something else. She is quite yummy and I was all too disappointed when she wasn't on screen with her nubile little figure and cute face! Even after a visit with a knife, a picture on the wall with her cute little head, and a glass table she looked tasty! The three main protagonists to my mind are looking a bit sad and dreary, so Roberts' new blood and youthfulness was a real tonic. As it became apparent who was the baddie/baddies I was truely surprised, and would never have guessed who it was.

 Overall Scream 4 offers up nothing new. The murders aren't original and really unimaginative. It isn't scary and there is no tension or frights. It isn't Scream like at all. But it's great strength is in the constant horror movie references. There were so many I couldn't even begin to list them, but I was laughing from one scene to the other at the in-house jokes and references ( one I did pick up on was a reference to 'silly Japenese doll faces', a clear jab at The Grudge, The Ring, and One Missed Call, all re-makes from their original Japenese movies ). It may not be original but it has still retained the franchise's ability to poke fun at its own genre, and do it extremely well.

 Our three protagonists haven't really changed. Gail looks a bit weather beaten, Sidney still somewhat distant, and Dewey is just Dewey. I believe that this fourth instalment is the start of a second trilogy. A second trilogy?? How can part four be part of a trilogy??!! The first three were supposed to be it but somehow, like all successful horrors, it has been stretched to a fourth outing. I fervently hope this is the last but deep down I doubt it. There will be another but it'll be are-boot without Neve Campbell and co. I'm afraid on the basis of Scream 4 from here on in each succesive movie is going to be worse and the whole franchise will become an embarassment. Let it go now, and let Scream die as some of the best, and most intelligently made slasher movies ever made. They deserve it.

 Neve Campbell is something of a hypocrite in making Scream 4. I read last week in an interview she gave that she is annoyed at the amount of sequels and re-boots Hollywood churns out each year. Whilst I agree with her sentiment entirely it was rich coming from an actress who has just made a fourth sequel herself!! Way to go Neve!! Put that foot in your go girl!!

 All in all Scream 4 is great fun and much better than I was expecting. But it offers up nothing new, and in all reality is somewhat pointless. Neve Campbell's Sidney sums it up in one of her last lines of the movie (which is by far the best and most poignant ), 'you don't fuck around with an original'. It took all movie long for this great line to come out. Unfortunately Scream 4 should have taken its own advice.

 As an aside to anyone who may be interested. I have noticed that most reviews of Scream 4 have been written around the same time as each other. So it may have been released world wide on the same date which is an unusal occurance. It was released here in NZ last thursday. Normally movies have seperate release dates world wide so if this was released on virtually the same day world wide it is quite unique.

Click here for a synopsis and more:

And here for the official site:

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Oh no!!

 My goodness it has been almost a week since I last made a post...what has happened?? I've been rather busy interposed with a bit of no posties for me!!
 Thursday past is the first Thursday night in many, many years I have not made my weekly pilgrimage to the flicks. I couldn't believe it, and struggled to remember how long it has been since that last happened. The problem being is both Rio and Paul were released on Thursday and yet I had seen both at their respective advance screenings. So here I sit not knowing if seeing them early was such a good idea or not because I got the shakes onThursday night at about 7.30p.m, which is my usual time of leaving home for my weekly session.
 For some reason Scream 4 isn't playing here in Napier but is over in Hastings. I'm not overly fused on seeing it, and am humming and arring over it. There are some interesting films over in Havelock North but the price of petrol has gone beserk, and it is getting a bit prohibitive to just nip across like a few months ago. With the ticket being about $15.00, and petrol on top, it can upwards of $25.00 plus to go to the flicks out of town.
 So there you have it. Not a very good week for this movie goer at all!! What is even worse is I haven't even read a single word of the three books I'm trying ( unsuccessfully ) to read simultaneously. Even posting in my other blog has gotten to the glacial stage! I can get by with missing a movie or two, but I can't live without books which are bigger passion than cinema, so when not reading, this Kiwi is not happy!
 But never fear, I will be back into it soon. I watched several DVD's several weeks ago and have a few draft copies in progress, so all is not lost yet, and I'll be back in action soon. So stayed tuned!!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Layer Cake

 After coming home from Paul I turned on the telly and caught the end of Die Another Die. I absolutely love the Bond movies and will watch each and every one of them to death. It was ironic that TV 1 followed it up with future Bond, Daniel Craig, in Layer Cake. Strangely enough I had never heard of it before Saturday night and intially I wasn't going to watch it. But when the Cult's Sanctuary opened up proccedings I was hooked, and I'm glad I was because this isn't too shabby a crime drama.

 I really like Englsh crime movies. I really liked RocknRolla from three years ago even though I'm not big on Gerald Butler. Also, The Bank Job, with the ordinary Jason Statham was quite a good recent release to. I think what it is about the Brits over Hollywood is the absence of guns. There are guns in Layer Cake but not to the extent a Hollywood crime movie would go to. Daniel Craigs's character even tells us he hates guns and only resorts to carrying one when things get seriously messy. It is so damn refreshing. The poster is somewhat mis-leading and the only gripe I have about the movie.

 Layer Cake is the movie that is credited with landing Daniel Craig the role of Bond. I really do like him as an actor and as Bond. As I watched Layer Cake I couldn't believe that it was a movie that had completely slipped under my radar. Besides Craig, it has a stella line up of very good U.K actors who are tailor made for a crime movie. Michael Gambon though looked a bit ridiculous with a fake tan but was seriously chilling as an educated, but totally ruthless, unscrupulous crime boss. The whole cast is very good and some play characters outside of the norm. Ben Whishaw is usually a bit wishy washy in character choice but here he is very good as a minor unstable crim. 

 The overall plot isn't that original as Taratino done something very similar in Jacky Brown. It is basically one of playing two sides off against one another to save one's own skin. Craig plays a likeable, clever, and low profile cocaine dealer. After his last big cocaine deal he wants to retire but has his plans dashed by a big crime boss who involves him in a private feud with another crime boss. Even worse, he is pulled into a big ecstasy deal he wants no part of because the seller is a loose canon and unreliable. Craig's character narrates all to the viewer. It adds a nice dimension to the movie as we can't help but root for him as his world implodes.

 The whole thing goes quickly pear shaped, and he is frustrated at his inability to control his own fortunes. In many respects the viewer feels sympathtic even though he is a crim. He has been very careful and low profile in his dealings, when suddenly it all implodes and he is at the mercy of others. It isn't a situation of his own making or choosing but one of being involved in the underworld. His situation sees him having to break his own rules to save himself. He starts carrying a gun ( even though he hates them ) because his name is in-correctly connected to the theft of the ecstasy from a bunch of Serbian war criminals.

What a mess, and he is staggered by how it all unravelled so quickly. The movie is very subtle in how Craig's character shifts from being the victim ( a victim within the criminal world? ), to the victimiser. At no time do we hear him plot his revenge. We see his initial attempts to get things off his back and they look like they are bungled. His attempt to kill the Serbian hitman fails and he looks stupid. But quietly he works on things, and even though they look like bungles they are carefully thought out and stage managed to appear so. As all the parts and intrigue fit together he deals with each problem by playing side against side.

 When he starts this the movie really cracks open and becomes a really good crime drama. I really liked the playing off of sides as at no time is it apparent Craig is the manipulator even though the viewer suspects. The best scene for me was when he delivers the ecstasy to Gambon who sits him down and explains the facts of the criminal world to him. He tells him to let it all go because he has the smarts to become really big one day. It just isn't his time, and getting screwed over is part of the game when you are a little man. The title of the movie, Layer Cake, is explained in terms of the layers within the criminal world. Craig understands, even though he is seriously pissed off by being a pawn,  and leaves. We then see the esctasy being hijacked by the dealer he intially tried to sell it too. Right to the end the play offs continued and Craig's character tidied up all the ends beautifully.

 Layer Cake was a far better movie than I was expecting. I like the Britishness of it even though there is a bit to much 'gun' in it, ( probably to make it more appealing to American viewers ). The plot of play offs within a crime movie isn't exactly original, but here it is less obvious as the viewer is lead astray in believing things are bungled when they are in fact cleverly staged parts of a plan. There are also some interesting things to note in this movie. Daniel Craig's character is never named and just called X in the credits. Also the title of the movie isn't displayed until about ten minutes in. They are unusual and add an air of thoughtfulness and quality to the movie by adding something a bit different. The soundtrack is really cool too, and just adds that certain 'something'.

This is a fine British crime drama and well worth watching. The performances are all strong, as is the plot as it slowly reveals itself. My initial feeling of passing it up and going to bed was thankfully wrong and I really enjoyed this movie from start to end. It is in the traditon of Lock, Stock, and Barrel, and to a lesser extent RocknRolla, and is a really good look into the criminal under world and all its inherent dangers and dis-honesty. The proverb of no honour among theives comes to the fore as does crime doesn't pay. Just watch the last scene because X is not allowed to retire no matter how good his intentions. He is a criminal and get a criminals end.

 A good solid crime movie and well worth your time. Recommended.

Click here for a synopsis and more:

Saturday, April 9, 2011


 Who's Up For A Close Encounter?

Finally, o finally, Paul has landed on our shores. Well not quite, as this was an advanced screening and it's nation wide release won't be until this coming Thursday. The trailers left no doubt as to which way it would swing comedy wise but ulimately Paul lacks a certain 'something'. It provides plenty of genuine laughs, but somehow after it had finished I felt strangely unsatisfied.

From the start Paul suffers a severe handicap as it will always have Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz hanging over it's head like a big black cloud. This taints the viewers impression on what to expect from it because as a movie Paul isn't in the same league. Edgar Wright is missing and it somewhat shows. Without him Frost and Pegg just don't have quite the same bite, and things flounder a bit. It is comparable to watching Blackadder without the input of Ben Elton ( isn't it my English readers??!! ). There are plenty of laughs, but it is through crudeness and plenty of swearing, but I found it wore somewhat thin, and it couldn't be sustained enough to be constantly funny.

In many respects Frost and Pegg have made a mistake in making Paul. It would have made more sense to involve Wright and make it into one of their Icecream trilogy movies. They have tried the same recipie of Shaun and Hot Fuzz in parodying zombie and cop movies, but besides some alien movie references, and tounge in cheek jokes, it falls flat. Even having Sigoueney Weaver turn up in an 'alien' ( get it??! ) movie wasn't enough bite to work.

So first up Paul is flawed. But not so flawed as to be totally dis-missable. Like all comdies the viewer will have their own favorite line or moment. I particularly liked the god versus creationism parody and how Paul enlightens a biblebasher, converting her into a foul mouthed want to be fornicator! I was honestly killing myself anf yet my fellow Kiwis were somewhat sub-dued. Typical!! Bloody conservatives, even within comdey they think there are some subjects that are in-alienable and shouldn't have the piss taken out of them...unalienable...good one!!!! I'm personally a very strict atheist so Paul's send up of god was right up my alley!!

 The crudeness I found made the male patrons laugh and yet not the females. I suppose not having 'space balls', or 'junk', meant they failed to appreciate the humour of having those bits. Or maybe it was those bloody conservatives again?! Unfortunately the genital jokes came too often and showed the flaw of the humour. It relied too much on little boy humour to generate constant laughs. Sure it was funny when Paul said 'his' is considered small on his planet, but it went on for too long and I couldn't help but feel where was the alien in it all. Paul is rude and crude but once that was established it should have been let go and the humour moved on. In saying that though my favorite scene was Paul pulling an alien brown eye at the resident bible basher!! Noticeably the conservatives didn't find that funny either. What the hell were they doing there anyway??

 All the alien jokes are there from anal probing, ( which Pauls denies they do, 'What, I've got nothing better to do than harvest farts?' ) to Star Wars, E.T, X-Files, etc, references, and a classic Encounter of the Third kind scene. It is to be expected as this is an alien movie but for me it was too little and over shadowed by the crudeness and swearing. Fuck, fuck this, fuck that, fuck you, fuck off , fucking wanker, yo fuck nuts, etc, fucking etc. Where was there any time left for alien jokes? It got to the point where whenever Paul spoke you knew what was going to spew from his mouth.

And again we hit a problem. Paul is voiced by Seth Rogen and I can't stand Seth Rogen. In Paul his lack of talent shines through as it seems as if all he is ever capable of is swearing. Was it intentional, or did Rogen tell the producers to get stuffed I'm not doing complicated dialogue as I'm really incapable of such but too much of a dick to actually admit it? I'm afraid I find Rogen unamusing, and even though Paul is a rude crude, dope smoking character, Rogen just pissed me off. His lack of comedic talent is exposed in Paul as there is far more to comedy than the word fuck and toilet humour.

 Jason Bateman though is an actor I like even though he'll never be Oscar material. He plays these dry roles well and in his character there is something of a twist ending which in hindsight I should have seen. His two accomplises are a pair of bumbling idiots who at times outshine Paul. They are pillocks to say the least and their comdey efforts are a real relief from Paul's potty mouth. They provide many good laughs which you thank god for, becuase they do break up the monotony of listening to Rogen's swearing. The bible-basher Paul converts also resorts to constant swearing and even her intially funny attempts at profanity wear a bit thin. Too much is too much, and Paul got itself caught in a rut with the constant crude language.

When reading this I may give the impression of having not liked Paul. I did, but unfortunately for everything I did like the flaws were too strong to ignore and left me with an overall feeling of being unsatisfied. The premise is superb and there is so much scope within making an alien comdey in lines with Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. The problem here is too much was concentrated on crudeness and not enough on alieness. Look at Hot Fuzz for an example. There is little swearing and it cannot be denied it is a cop movie even under the giuse of a comedy. Paul doesn't deliver enough alien, and just becomes another potty influenced comedy. It is funny and there were parts I genuinely liked, but it lacks what Edgar Wright could have brought to it and this is Pauls' ulimate failing. It just lacks real bite and serves up a dose of what could have been.

 Still worth a watch and full of chuckles but...but ...but...and there is its let down, but. Besides the but Paul could have been so much more. Funny up to a point but just lacking real satisfaction overall. And whatever you do don't watch it in a theatre with a bunch of Kiwis because they are far too conservative and all you will hear is yourself laughing!!!!!!!!!!!

Click here for a synopsis and and more:

And here for more:

And here for the official site: