Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Run Jason Run

Paul Greengrass picked up the Bourne franchise one movie in and ran with it delivering one of the most critically acclaimed blockbusters in years with The Bourne Supremecy. Here he repeats the trick. Those of you not enamoured with the first two there is nothing to change your mind. The rest of you strap in, turn on and prepare for a vicious assault on your eyeballs by Greengrass' trademark shakey-quasi-documentry-car-smashing-knuckle crunching-edit-edit-edit-blink-edit style.

The film is not without its flaws. There is a problem early on with Bourne's motivation. No one is chasing him any more, he is chasing them, chasing answers, chasing his past, so one watches a lot of running and punching and shooting but with little sense of direction, Bourne either running towards or away from the enemy on a whim.

When the characters do sit down for a moment to have a chat it is good stuff, adding a real pathos and weight to Bourne's quest and adding meaning to the chase scenes. In this way the film is well structured, getting better and better as it goes along, so you end up leaving the cinema on a real high. In a summer of dull cash-in sequels this one stands out as a proper film, well worth a watch.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

I'll be back

Rome, 1982, Mr. James Cameron is lying on his back in a hotel room having a fever dream. The dream is vivid, frightening and irresistible. Mr. Cameron would later profess his love of nightmares. This particular nightmare was about a robot and it would prompt him to write "the definitive robot story" because "no one had really done it before."

The imagery arrived in his head fully formed: a metal endoskeleton emerging from flames, piercing red eyes zeroing in on its target. The story was simple, streamlined and practically wrote itself. Largely reminiscent of another film about an unstoppable killing machine that had happened ten years earlier, except this one was gonna get you even if you stayed out of the ocean.

An accident in casting meant that the role, originally offered to Lance Henrikson, went to an Austrian bodybuilder who would later further his plans for world domination and blur the line between fantasy and reality in the early years of the 21st Century by becoming the Governor of California.

A B movie upon release the film found its audience on video, a new technology which was bringing cinema into the home in the early eighties.

It would later become the basis for the most expensive film of all time, T2: Judgement Day, a seminal work in the area of CGI, which, in the early nineties was opening up whole new worlds of possibility for filmmakers, storytellers and artists.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Spider-pig, Spider-pig, does whatever a Spider-pig does...

The Simpsons finally arrive on movie screens and I'm pleased to say it's a top quality bunch of stuff. Funny, witty and clever in a way recent series' of the hit TV show haven't been. But what really sets it apart is the welcome return of Oscar winning screenwriter James L Brookes. Brookes brings an emotional core to the writing that helps ground the lunacy, giving anchor to the general spirit of playful silliness. The fact that you are occasionally made to care about the characters is what makes The Simpsons better than Family Guy will ever be.

Of course, The Simpsons is a comedy so it needs to make you laugh: sight-gags, slapstick, witty observations, liberal sarcasm, broad satirical swipes at current political hot-potatoes, all present and correct. Sure the ratio is skewed, twenty minutes of spiky (haired) cynicism followed by one minute of family and reconcilliation and all that other good stuff, but when that's been your holding patter for 17 seasons on the small screen its not a habit that's easilly broken.

Which brings us onto the films biggest problem. It's not really a film, structurally, you do feel the gears clunking around the twenty minute mark when they have to expand the format. But in a film that has so many laugh out loud moments its a minor quibble.