Elysium: in the near-future humans are divided into the haves and have-nots; with poverty and crime rife on a polluted earth and the 1% (!!) enjoying an idyllic and disease-free lifestyle in a giant space structure. I think this is about health care in America, although can’t be sure… To cut to the chase, I don’t believe that this is in the same league as District 9, but partly because a lot of the film’s tone and aesthetics appear to lean heavily on the ‘look and feel’ of Bloomkamp’s previous film. The story is also quite similar although less of a subtle political under-current, and more of an in-yer-face affair. While it’s bigger, brighter, shinier, and louder than his previous film, Dirctric 9 takes a lot of the wind out of Elysium’s sails, as you feel like you’ve seen a lot of this before – and in the end, it just gives you with a craving for prawns.
Repo Men [Blu Ray]: when organ replacements are bought on hire purchase, people who miss payments have said organs removed by repo men. Jude Law is in the future again, hanging out with cyborgs again, sporting an awful accent… again. Live Schreiber is a snake oil salesman / shark in a suit… again. So the casting’s not very imaginative. Storywise, it hurts your head to watch such an incoherently directed film: three months pass in 5 minutes. One character goes from rich to unwell, to a hobo, then finds hobo love, then becomes an action hero, then a blood fetishist… Then from out of nowhere someone gets a conscience. It’s generally hard to know what’s what in the mangled plot, as well as how much time has passed and what’s supposed to have happened between the scenes. There’s some heavy flow gore (done well), cheeky product placement, a ridiculous voiceover, and it’s the only film I’ll probably ever watch and shout “Scan her tits!” at the screen. Things eventually pick up with a semi-redemptive OTT knife-and-saw fight near the end, followed by an insane blood orgy and a half-decent ending that made me add a 1/2 mark out of pity. The other two points are for Whittaker and the soundtrack. Blu Ray picture and sound are both solid – but just don’t waste your time with the film! Repo Men is a classic case of great idea with batshit terrible execution; rendering it the definition of idiotic.
City of God: documents around a decade of life in a Rio De Janeiro favela (slum). It starts with 30 minutes of back story then dips in and out of flashback for the rest of the movie. To emphasise the violence in the hood the film’s pretty brutal in parts – ‘hand or foot’ and Knockout Ned scenes are particularly rough. Unfortunately, what’s supposed to be the film’s most crucial scene (in the nightclub) was ruined by strobing lights. For me, the main guy Rocket is a too easy-going: he never really seems to care much about losing his girl, then his job, then some family – and doesn’t want revenge. It’s probably about 20 minutes too long too. The overall message is that everyone, from respectable citizens through to the tiny children, ends up being pulled into the self-destructive criminal / gang lifestyle – and it’s hammered home through pretty much every character’s story progression. The critics said that Slumdog was better than this… and they must have been high. City of God is a well-told, pretty slick, cinematic epic that’s often called ‘the Brazilian Goodfellas‘ (bold statement). It’s definitely a must-see for fans of crime and world cinema.
Also, if you liked this the same director went on to do Blindness – well worth checking out.
Blindness: Julianne Moore plays the only sighted person in a compound for the quarantined during an epidemic of infectious blindness. Best part: lots of out of focus shots, conga lines, people walking in to things / falling over and random nudeness. Worst part: Children Of Men esque level of prophetic future gloom. As the quarantined spend longer in their prison human nature drives events to desperation, then worse, and worse… and worse. Depending on your disposition the film will become overbearing or hyper-dramatic – I landed in the latter camp, and despite the bleakness, couldn’t believe how much the last hour reeled me in. The camera’s used interestingly throughout, to convey certain people’s point-of-view, which enables you to feel right in the action. The underrated Mark Rofallo is ace, and Bernal plays a great villain and Moore pretty much mopes for the duration, but pulls it off quite well. The tone ends up somewhere between an inspiration and a critique of human nature. Blindness is an awesome idea, pulled off reasonably well. Check it out if you like your drama extra strong.