Welcome

Welcome to this blog of my film reviews. Some have been drafted carefully on paper, others I have sat and typed. I'm going to make it clear right now that I don't expect you to agree with my (re)views, or to like my style of writing. However, I want my views to be just out there and open, as a person who wishes to express himself from deep within. Feel free to comment and debate with me, but I do ask that you are civil and not harsh, as any comments which are basically swear words and insults will automatically be deleted. Also any text that is in orange (and often bold) is a Hyperlink to either a source, or a previous post for background reference.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Platoon



*****

Set in 1967 this savage, yet moving look at the Vietnam War is seen through the eyes of 19-year-old soldier Chris Taylor (Charlie Sheen). Chris is a middle-class boy who has dropped out of college to serve his country, and naturally the horrors he faces scare him witless. His letters home (narrated by Sheen in a spookily similar way to how father Martin Sheen did in Apocalypse Now seven years earlier) detail his relationships with the fellow grunts in his platoon (played by a large ensemble including Forest Whitaker, Keith David, Francesco Quinn, Kevin Dillon, John C. McGinley and Richard Edison) and the two sergaents - hippie Elias Grodin (Willem Dafoe), who smokes weed to escape reality, and dangerously violent Bob Barnes (Tom Berenger) - both of whom appear to be fighting each other for control of the platoon and Chris's innocent soul.

Director Oliver Stone fought in Vietnam himself and relates the film to his own experiences as a young soldier. Each scene he directs from every possible view point so that the audience never knows where the next attack may come from, causing a tense atmosphere and severe feelings of unease and discomfort, which are greatly heightened by the bone-chilling main theme music Adagio for Strings. This really makes you feel as if you are there, watching the horrific battles engulf you. Along with military advisor Dale Dye, Stone delivers a series of gripping images of war - one with no hero, Hollywood or otherwise, only a patriotic boy becoming disillusioned by all he believed to be fighting for, a role that Sheen packs with powerfully heartfelt emotion in a very underrated performance.

This is both a personal triumph for Stone and also the best film (in my view) that he has ever made. Stone shows just how talented a film maker he is with Platoon and it is truly a shame that the only other films in which his directing skills have shone so much are Born on the Fourth of July (1989), JFK (1991) and Natural Born Killers (1994).


1986.
15.

Stars: Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe, Forest Whitaker, Francesco Quinn, Kevin Dillon, John C. McGinley, Richard Edison, Keith David, Reggie Johnson, Mark Moses, Chris Pederson, David Neidorf, Johnny Depp, Corkey Ford, Corey Glover, Tony Todd, Dale Dye, Bob Orwig, Kevin Eshelman, James Terry McIlvain, J. Adam Glover, Ivan Kane, Paul Sanchez.

Oscars: Best Picture (Arnold Kopelson), Best Director (Oliver Stone), Best Editing (Claire Simpson), Best Sound Mixing (Richard D. Rogers, John Wilkinson, Simon Kaye, Charles Grenzbach).
Oscar Nominations: Best Screenplay (Oliver Stone), Best Supporting Actor (Tom Berenger), Best Supporting Actor (Willem Dafoe), Best Cinematography (Robert Richardson).

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Sin City



****

Frank Miller's renowned graphic novels are finally being brought to the big screen in this glorious crime thriller.

Co-directed by Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller full-length graphic novels That Yellow Bastard, The Hard Goodbye and The Big Fat Kill are all adapted for the big screen. That Yellow Bastard sees disgraced ex-cop John Hartigan (Bruce Willis) making it his one purpose to protect Nancy Callahan (Jessica Alba) from deformed paedophilic rapist Roark Junior (Nick Stahl). The Hard Goodbye sees super-powerful ex-con Marv (Mickey Rourke) killing his way through Sin City's criminal underbelly to avenge the death of his lover Goldie (Jaime King) and to torture to death her killer, silent cannibal Kevin (Elijah Wood). The Big Fat Kill sees serial killer/vigilante Dwight McCarthy (Clive Owen) stop at nothing to protect the prostitutes of Old Town after they kill violent deranged cop Jack Rafferty (Benicio Del Toro) and get caught up in a war with a group of mobsters lead by the monstrous Manute (Michael Clarke Duncan).

This film truly captures the essence of the graphic novels perfectly by keeping to that contrasting black and white style throughout and make it that bit more beautiful by adding splashes of colour, such as bright red for blood.

The characters are played to perfection by an outstanding ensemble of stars. Rosario Dawson plays the role of head prostitute Gail ferociously and passionately. Elijah Wood and Nick Stahl are very spine-tingling as their respective antagonists. However, the most memorable performance is that of Mickey Rourke's Marv. In equal measures Rourke's performance intimidates the audience due to his toughness and ferocity (he took out seven armed cops with only a chopper, survived being shot by at least fifty machine gun bullets and had to be electric-chaired twice at his execution) and sympathize as Marv has a soft centre deep down and is greatly affected by his mental illness.

Also, opening the film with the adaptation of short story The Customer is Always Right really builds up the rest of the film in those three short minutes due to the beautiful visuals of it and through the tenseness Josh Hartnett creates as assassin 'The Salesman'. This is just one of a number of contributing factors that, for me at least, elevate this film from blockbuster to a very powerful piece of film making that remains true in both story and style to the graphic novels - heck the screenplay is almost word-for-word the text of the graphic novels.


2005.
18.
Stars:
Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, Clive Owen, Jessica Alba, Rosario Dawson, Benicio Del Toro, Nick Stahl, Jaime King, Elijah Wood, Brittany Murphy, Alexis Bledel, Devon Aoki, Michael Clarke Duncan, Powers Boothe, Rutger Haure, Carla Gugino, Makenzie Vega, Michael Madsen, Josh Hartnett.

Online Film Critics Society Awards: Best Supporting Actor (Mickey Rourke), Best Cinematography (Robert Rodriguez), Best Editing (Robert Rodriguez).