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, 18 October 2011

Johnny English Reborn


Eight and a half years after the 2003 original, bumbling British spy Johnny English (Rowan Atkinson) has spent five years training in offensive and defensive combat in a remote part of Tibet, after botching up a job in Africa. However, he is soon called back to MI7 to stop the assassination of the Chinese Premier (Lobo Chan), encountering a secret organisation with people in MI7, CIA and KGB.

Just as witty as the original, the film is a fast-paced piece of farce throughout, and unlike its predecessor doesn't at any stage resort to semi-graphic and overly gross toilet humour, which one grows tired of in this wave of contemporary comedies, and is therefore fairly refreshing. The screenplay also does a superior job of spoofing spy films than the original by including more gadgets that result in quite over the top, slightly goofy and altogether amusing consequences, as well as Johnny first encountering the KGB Agent (Mark Ivanir) on a golf course in a farcical parody of a memorable scene from Bond film Goldfinger (1964). The screenplay does, however, resort to a running gag about a killer cleaner (Pik-Sen Lim), which is initially amusing, but eventually becomes predictable, with running gags being the cliche so many comedies tick the box for unnecessarilly, but aside from this it is a decent screenplay, which achieves what it sets out to - spoof spy films in a piece of farce.

The actors are a generally mixed bag, but a lot of this can be attributed to the fact that most of the screenplay focuses on the only character from the original - Johnny, while most other characters are substantially sidelined. Atkinson really steals the show as Johnny with strong comic timing and delivery, as well as lots of energy, really giving it his all as he has always done. The majority of supporting characters, however, are very one-sided and get little development throughout the film, most especially Gillian Anderson as the new Pegasus, who despite being sophisticated in the role, is playing a character who is too much stiff British upper lip stereotype, and never breaks away from this. In this film Johnny's right-hand man is Tucker (Daniel Kaluuya), and this no-nonsense guy is a nice contrast to the borderline servant that was Ben Miller's Bough in the original, but this character does move fairly slowly through the film, although Kaluuya does a reasonable amount with such an underdeveloped character. However underdeveloped the characters are though, the cast portray the stereotypical British stiff upper lip and sophistication very well.

Flawed the film may be, but it is entertaining, and quite an impressive result for what was made with a lowish budget. Many characters are underdeveloped, but stereotypical British sophistication remains, and at the end of the day this is Atkinson's show throughout, thanks to his love and enthusiasm displayed in his comedy from start to finish.

Rowan Atkinson, Gillian Anderson, Rosamund Pike, Dominic West, Daniel Kaluuya, Richard Schiff, Tim McInnerny, Stephen Campbell Moore, Pik-Sen Lim, Togo Igawa, Wale Ojo, Chris Jarman, Mark Ivanir, Lobo Chan, Benedict Wong, Andrew Woodall, Williams Belle.

Friday, 14 October 2011

'Glamour of the Gods: Hollywood Portraits' Exhibition

Several weeks ago - the fact I'm a born again procrastinator means I have taken this long, a habit I need to get out of - I went to the National Portrait Gallery in London to see an exhibition called Glamour of the Gods: Hollywood Portraits portrait photographs and film stills from the early 1920s to the mid 1950s that promoted Hollywood stars, and my word what a stunning private collection it is.

It truly shows a range of beautiful/handsome people, including Carole Lombard (1908-1942), Joan Crawford (1905-1977), Jean Harlow (1911-1937), Cary Grant (1904-1986), Rita Hayworth (1918-1987), Marilyn Monroe (1926-1962) and Grace Kelly (1929-1982) in posed portraits.
There are also a number of film stills, including Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977) and Jackie Coogan (1914-1984) in The Kid (1921), Lilian Gish (1893-1993) in The Wind (1925) - a stunning shot that really captures the effect blowing wind creates on dusty sand, Vivien Leigh (1913-1967) in Gone with the Wind (1939), Farley Granger (1925-2011) in North Star (1943), Marlon Brando (1924-2004) in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), and James Dean (1931-1955) in Rebel Without a Cause (1955). There are even some comical photos such as a photo around 60 years old of Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980) directing the MGM Lion with such authority - based on Hitchcock's reputation it's hard to say which of the two was more scared.

The exhibition also shows the process of creating the final photo, which highlights the fact that no Hollywood star looks in real life like they do in their portrait, with a before and after photo of Joan Crawford, with the original showing her natural freckles and frown lines and the brushed up final image showing her the way all know her from her films - perfect smooth skin into her 40s.

It is a very interesting exhibition with some truly beautiful photography, but those of you able to get there had best do so soon as it ends on Sunday October 23rd. I'll now leave you with my favourite image from that exhibition of Louise Brooks (1906-1985), which is possibly the most stunning artistically...

Monday, 3 October 2011

Did my Summer Box Office Predictions come true?

In June I predicted that the three most successful summer 2011 blockbusters (not counting Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides) would be Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, Transformers: Dark of the Moon and Cars 2, and said I would wait till the end of September to see if these came true. Only three days late. With Harry Potter and Transformers I was correct, as they have grossed $1.325 billion and $1.118 billion respectively. I referred to Harry Potter as a "guaranteed money maker" - statement of the flipping obvious anyone? - and predicted Transformers crossing the $800 million mark, but I never thought it would cross it as much as it did. Cars 2 I predicted $700 million, only for it to get $550 million. I predicted $700 million as it has a big fan base, but after the literally explosive trailer many parents must have decided against taking their kids, plus the mixed to negative reviews must have had a part to play. I think it's safe to say I was 50/50 in my predictions.