Monday 28 November 2011

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol IMAX Preview

I'm going to have to confess that I have never seen Mission Impossible 2 or 3, and whilst I am a fan of the original, I have stayed away from the sequels fearing the worst. Despite this, I was not going to turn down the opportunity to take a look at two scenes from Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol that have been filmed using IMAX cameras and were being previewed over a month in advance of the film's general release. It seemed strange heading to the cinema just for twenty minutes, and I was baffled that some people had stocked up on drinks and popcorn, (where would they find the time to finish their extra large combo?) but I was glad that for once I didn't have to worry about needing the toilet half way through the film.

Brad Bird has taken up the helm for this fourth outing, which may seem questionable at first seeing as his previous films have all been animations, but there is no denying that they have all been fantastic films and he definitely has a flair for imagination and creativity. If he can transfer these skills to his first live-action film then there is no doubt that he will deliver a high-octane thriller that should live up to the rest of the series.

Before we were shown two scenes from the film, a short introductory clip from Brad Bird was screened in which he set up the back story for these scenes. To cut a long story short, Ethan and his crew are in deep shit and we were about to witness their attempts to navigate through some very dangerous situations on the incredibly large IMAX screen, which stands at approximately eight storeys high, and I would be lying if I said I wasn't even a tiny bit excited at this point.

As the action rolled, we were introduced to Cruise's team as they are travelling towards the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building, located in Dubai. It is not long before they infiltrate the building and ascend to a dizzying height, with the very impressive camerawork bringing this experience to life on the IMAX screen, and at one point, as the camera circled the building overhead, I gripped my arm rests very tight as I was convinced I was going to fall out of my seat! We were then treated to a number of immensely satisfying shots as Ethan attempts to scale the building from the outside and nearly plummets to his death on several occasions. Nothing brings action to life so well as an IMAX screen, and Mission: Impossible -Ghost Protocol is perfectly suited to the enormous size of the screen, with the aerial views of the Burj Khalifa likely to instill vertigo in even the most hardened thrill-seekers amongst the audience.

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Saturday 26 November 2011

Film Review - Parked

Heading into a film without knowing anything about it beforehand is something that i rarely do these days but I decided to take a punt on Parked by doing exactly that, and boy was I impressed.

This exceptional downbeat Irish drama looks at the life of a homeless man who lives in his car as he takes up residence in a rarely used car park overlooking the sea. Fred Daly lives a lonely existence, and his reluctance to communicate with the few people in his life starts to fade following an encounter with a young man in a similar situation to his own as they begin to strike up an unlikely friendship.

Both men have their problems; Fred struggles to interact with others whilst his new companion Cathal hides a number of secrets that could have dire consequences if he does not face up to his grim reality. Their interaction leads to some hilarious moments as the generation gap between the two neighbours (Cathal also resides in his car) reveals some differences in their outlooks on life, and this contrasts perfectly with the melodramatic mood that permeates throughout the film. I am reluctant to give away too much of the plot as I would love for you to experience the film as I did, it contains a number of surprises, some pleasant and some not so pleasant but they all add up to make Parked an essential watch.

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Friday 25 November 2011

Fallen Icons - Christian Slater

Here is a brief Biography of the Icon…

Born in New York back in 1969, Christian Slater had a great head start as an actor thanks to his showbiz family; his mother Mary Jo was a casting agent and his father Michael Hawkins was an established actor. It was not long before he made his debut in a tv soap aged just seven years old and he was soon sent to a performing arts school where he honed his talents as a stage actor.

Deciding to drop out of school as a teen to pursue his acting career, Slater definitely made the right move and it wasn't long before his Hollywood dreams began to come true as he worked his way through a number of films and eventually landed the part of a crazed psycopath in Heathers, which gained him a lot of female attention and cemented his position as an actor to watch out for. Following on from this Christian Slater became a hugely popular actor in the early 90's with his fantastic performances in critical and commercial successes such as Interview with a Vampire and True Romance gaining him even more fans and propelling him towards stardom. It appeared that the sky was the limit for the bright young actor as he reached his mid-twenties, what could possibly go wrong from here?

What went wrong?

It was the success of Slater's career that led to his downward spiral, the excesses of his growing fame caused a number of run-ins with the law and whilst his acting career continued to thrive up until the mid nineties the film offers eventually began to dry up. His first serious encounter with the police took place in 1989 when he drunkenly tried to outrun them in his car, hit a lamp-post and ended up kicking an officer. Nice work Slater.

Future events in the mid nineties led him to spending time in jail with his offences including boarding a plane with a gun in his luggage, attacking his girlfriend whilst under the influence of cocaine and biting a police officer on his stomach! This crazy behaviour coupled with his poor career decisions led to him taking on a number of unforgettable roles, with few of his post 1994 films being worth your time. Whilst he has eventually managed to move away from the bad-boy image that took over in his twenties, Slater has struggled to emulate his earlier successes.

Where is he now?
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Wednesday 23 November 2011

Film Review - Take Shelter

There seems to be a new apocalyptic film out every other week lately and whilst most lack originality, every once in while a film comes along with a fresh perspective on the genre, Take Shelter is one such film, but does it deliver?

Focussing on the build up to a possible global disaster, Take Shelter looks at the life of Curtis, a family man who experiences visceral dreams and nightmares that appear to predict a forthcoming catastrophe. Throughout the film we are unsure if these visions really are prophetic or if Curtis is suffering from the same illness that affected his mother when she was his age, and it is the answer to this mystery that drives the narrative forward as Curtis delves deeper into his past whilst the visions that plague him become more profound.

Michael Shannon is perfectly cast as Curtis, he has been blessed with a face that always looks confused and this is a fitting characteristic considering his character's uncertain state of mind. Although it is a great performance, I can't help feeling that the Oscar buzz surrounding his role is any more than hot air, Shannon's explosive outburst halfway through the film is phenomenal but he spends most of the movie staring into the sky, completely mystified by the onset of gloomy weather.

The sunshine in Curtis' life is his deaf daughter Hannah, who he will do anything to protect and is one of the key reasons behind his decision to build the titular shelter that will keep his family safe if his predictions of a catastrophe ring true. Jessica Chastain is excellent as the glue that keeps the family together when her husband begins to show signs of instability, despite her doubts as to his seemingly crazy obsession with creating a shelter in their own back garden.

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Thursday 10 November 2011

Five Films that Define Me

When faced with the most difficult question you could possibly ask a film fan ‘What’s your favourite film?’ I tend to stutter and mumble for a while before coming to the conclusion that there is no way I could choose just one film that pinpoints my obsession with cinema. Choosing five films to define myself by is no mean feat either, but I have given it a go, and here are my choices:

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

one flew over the cuckoos nest 1 Thursday List   Tom Bielby   Top Films That Define MeI remember picking this up on DVD some years ago in HMV; a wise old man resembling Obi-Wan Kenobi was browsing through the films next to me when he stopped and uttered those magical words; no, not ’Use the force Luke’ but ‘That’s the best film ever made’. I had never met him but for some reason I had no doubt that he was speaking the truth (this was probably a Jedi mind trick) and promptly brought the film with no idea that it would soon become one of my all-time favourites. Grounded by Nicholson and Fletcher's Oscar winning performances, this captivating drama set in the confines of a mental institution is a deeply poignant story that should be compulsory viewing for every film fan. The humour throughout is note perfect, and Forman does an excellent job of combining the elements of comedy with more emotionally charged scenes in order to reel the audience in before tugging at their heartstrings. I have lost count of the times I have watched this film, and wish I could go back to the man who intervened in HMV, shake his hand, and take him for a pint.

A Clockwork Orange

A Clockwork Orange 004 1024x621 Thursday List   Tom Bielby   Top Films That Define MeI would happily include almost all of Kubrick’s films in this list given the space, but seeing as I am limited to five; it had to be A Clockwork Orange. Based on Anthony Burgess’ controversial novel, the story follows Alex, a manipulative teen gang leader who has an unhealthy obsession with Classical music and ultra-violence, much to the horror of the adults in his life. Withdrawn from distribution by Kubrick himself due to acts of copycat violence attributed to the film, A Clockwork Orange’s notoriety precedes it, and even today, fourty years after its initial release, the film retains its shock value. I was the tender age of fourteen when I first watched A Clockwork Orange at a friend’s house and ever since I have had an unhealthy obsession for controversial films that push the boundaries of cinema - if they've been banned, then even better.

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Wednesday 9 November 2011

Film Review - The Awakening

Ghost stories that rely on subtle scares and unsettling atmospheres are usually far more effective than films which rely on gore and elaborate death scenes to frighten the viewer, and it was with this in mind that I had been anticipating Nick Murphy’s feature length debut, The Awakening, a traditional ghost story that takes place in 1920s England.

 Rebecca Hall plays Florence Cathart, a scientist who specialises in uncovering fraud mediums who prey on people that are desperate to reconnect with their deceased loved ones using spiritual methods. After an enthralling séance scene sets the mood, Florence is called upon to investigate the disappearance of a young boy who vanished under mysterious circumstances at an isolated boarding school. On her arrival she is introduced to a number of suspicious characters who inevitably turn out to have troubled pasts that hide dark secrets, and Florence eventually begins to wonder if ghosts really do exist.

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