Kill Bill Vol 2: (Blu Ray) retribution continues at a slower pace as the back story is given more attention. This installment starts off as it means to continue, totally rip-off retro: effects, music, voiceovers, homage, etc. The story’s very strong until the last 45 minutes when it grinds to a halt, feeling drawn out with heavy conversation and that stupid truth serum. I’m not a huge fan of Tarantino’s ‘natural dialogue’. It’s not Kevin Smith bad but still quite annoying, and it really bogs down the end of Vol 2… On the upside there’s still some great cinema to be had; parts like the blacked out buried alive scene utilising big sounds to strike fear in to you are movie gold. The acting is top notch again, from Uma through to the let-himself-go Bud, sharp-as-ever Bill and the (still) foxy Elle Driver – it helps that all characters get good screen time to develop. The Blu Ray is absolutely stunning; close-up skin, face, hair and clothing detail will blow you away – even in the intentionally grainy Pai Mei scenes. The sound’s also fantastic, again making it worth the upgrade. It’s definitely the weaker stand-alone film, but when viewed back to back with Vol 1 it’s a great conclusion to one of the most epic revenge tales committed to celluloid!
Slumdog Millionaire: modern twist on the rags to riches tale as an Indian kid from the slums lands up on a game-show. There’s a lot of stock themes throughout the film; good cop / bad cop, sensible sibling / criminal sibling, life-long obsession with girl etc. Despite this Slumdog’s an entertaining story – handling and highlighting some of the best and worst aspects of growing up in India effectively. The characters are all quite memorable and it although it gets a bit far-fetched in parts it still works pretty well. For me, the growing-up section of the film was great to watch (the child actors were fantastic), but the latter part – love story – was insipid and seemed to take forever to finish. Somehow everyone looks cross-eyed, the English-Indian accents were bizarre and I couldn’t believe I made it through an Indian film without a ridiculous dance scene – never mind. Secretly wished it would have been an ‘Unusual Suspects’ ending, and he was cheating all along… no such luck. Decent film, but don’t believe the rave reviews, or that this is the ‘real’ Mumbai. Escapism!
One Day Removals: Two removal men see their day go from bad, to worse, to worser, to – how do you say it… ah… ‘fucked’! Being a low-budget, local, film I didn’t really know how bad it would be, but was totally surprised when it turned out to be pretty damn professional. For a sub-b movie this punches above its weight. A really good black comedy, with quite an original story and enough laughs to make it enjoyable. The effects and gore are impressive, the sound mix is solid throughout and you can tell that a lot of effort has gone in to it. Unfortunately, only Scottish people will be able to completely understand this as it’s in the full-blown local dialect. It’s also the most sweary film I’ve seen in a long, long feckin’ time! The news spoofing and court montage are great, but it’s worth picking up the DVD for the ‘Sewary Edit’ and out-takes alone. You can buy the film here, and it would a great gift for any homesick Scottish / Aberdonian people you know!
The Host: creature feature from South Korea. Starts off like a trendy comedy horror, with awful over-acting, but gets more serious as the story progresses. There were a few awesome moments of suspense, but in general it didn’t seem to know whether to be funny or serious – ended up an eclectic mix. The music also conveys this, being spot on in parts, but totally ridiculous in others. The start and end are great, action-packed and when the film really comes to life, although the mid-section isn’t as good, coming across as drawn out and filler. The most outstanding part of this film was the monster, and the special-effects. Other than the very end it’s amazingly convincing and looked great. Some good, but predictable jumps along the way, and why is it that people in films like this always fall over when they’re running for their lives?! Mini political agenda regarding media hysteria, chemical warfare, failure of ‘the system’ and western criticism but it’s never really in your face. Far more focus on the family than the monster. Great action and tedious backstory but don’t really understand how it became the biggest Korean film of all-time, reasonable attempt nonetheless.
Diary of the Dead: maybe the first mainstream FPS horror? (It’s pre Cloverfield) Mostly filmed on 2 hand-held cameras, which surprisingly lures you right in to the action and gets the blood pumping. The atmosphere created is great, but does rely on some cheap jumps and music. It’s all a bit ‘horror 2.0’, frequently citing the ‘web, hits, bloggers, hackers, kids and how they can beat the mainstream in an emergency, which was a bit cringey. Also states people behind the camera (aimed at the media) have no limits & can’t stop filming, no matter how bad the scene in front of them gets. It’s self-referencing, with old-school broadcasts tying it in with the original film, while making a nod to resident evil (the game) as well as highlighting zombie / b-movie clichés. Above this it features the coolest deaf Aumish guy in the history of cinema! All-in it’s actually quite clever, in trying something new and modernising the franchise. It was generally poorly received so most people must be expecting a generic rehash. Much better than Land.
Haggard: Bam Margera and his Jackass / CKY pals make a feature length – sounds stupid? It is, but it’s actually a pretty good effort. Above the stupidity, there’s actually lots of good laughs, gross-outs and funny set-pieces. There’s also a load of skate-superstar cameos throughout the film. The 5.1 mix is unusually heavy on the rear speakers, so all dialogue – loud and soft – is crystal clear, but feels unbalanced. Loads of lame pseudo-music/skate videos to flesh out the running time, which is unnecessary because the film loses it’s way in the last 20 mins. It’s also more watchable than the original CKY videos. It may not go down as a comedy great, but don’t dismiss it on the grounds of it being attached to Jackass because it’s surprisingly good.
Paris Lockdown / Truands: an underworld crime film that half follows the ups and downs of two hitmen, as well as a myriad major and minor gang characters. It ticks all the boxes of a gangster type film; money, guns, cars, drugs, wimin’, feuds, violence and so forth. Despite this, the film never really gets going and because there are so many criminals and dealers in the story that you don’t get to know anyone well enough to want them to come out on top. The one thing I learn from this is that in Paris, money talks and nobody gives a shit about anything else! While it’s a good, watchable film, it’s definitely one for the boys – but if you’re wanting a proper continental ‘Goodfellas’ check out Romanzo Criminale instead.