Unthinkable: a converted muslim, posing a nuclear threat to America is captured – how far will the government go to get the information they need against the clock? Having heard nothing about this before finding it on LoveFilm I was surprised at how topical, dramatic, fast-paced, controversial yet very believable the film was. It’s also very well directed, featuring massive issues like human rights, torture, the ‘greater good’, constitutional rights, threat to America – yet yet it never gets preachy, as all sides to each argument are explored, and you ultimately have to make up your own mind as to what’s the ‘right’ thing. There’s also some pretty graphic and genuinely unbelievable scenes inside the torture chamber – especially when the specialist interrigator (Sam L Jackson) gets going. The acting is great all-round – but with a cast this strong it’s a shame that the SFX are so terrible (explosion LOL). This film ultimately plays far more successfully on the fears, realities and situations of contemporary America than two series of Homeland have, and this is just over the length of two episodes. Unthinkable is an unbelievably smart, neat, tight little film that – for whatever reason – seemed to be a total flop: it’s clever film-making serves up an enjoyable, thrilling, thought-provoking picture. What more could you ask for?
Tron Legacy: 3D – sequel-ish rebooty mish mash, in relation to the original sci-fi epic Tron; and almost 30 years in the making. First off, the story is atrocious, convoluted and a shoddy excuse to bombard your eyes with cutting-edge special effects. Not necessarily a bad thing as the CGI is great, and there’s plenty of sly little nods to the definitive Sci Fi flicks; Matrix, 2001, Blade Runner, original Tron etc. The 3D element (particularly in the computer) was impressive and added to the big, loud, bold & fast action sequences. I enjoyed how the Technical/I.T./Computing terminology and detail is still tight, however this is a bit of problem because the film tries to balance this (appealing to the sub-culture of computer geeks – like the original) with a blockbuster movie – which was alienating to technophobes as it doesn’t hold back with the jargon. The story also relies on viewers seeing & understanding the original to fully ‘get it’. Bridges is alright but essentially plays a watered-down PG version of the Dude. CGI Bridges was so life-like that I bet some people couldn’t tell he wasn’t real. Oh, and Michael Sheen was ridiculous as a Bowie rip-off. The Daft Punk soundtrack was spot on; booming and atmospheric in all the right places. Despite the visual opulence, for an epic big-budget studio film it all feels quite hollow, and purely there for aesthetic reasons / franchise-based ticket sales. Other than the action sequences (essentially graphically updated from Tron), and a couple of scenes that make you think “awesome!” there’s not a whole lot else to take away from Tron Legacy.
Midnight In Paris [Unavoidable Spoilers]: Woody Allen brings us more misunderstood middle-class artisan-intellectuals with relationship trouble. The idea of the central MacGuffin of this film (travelling back in time and meeting historical figures) didn’t bother me much; but as someone who’s not very literary literate it all got a bit wanky pouring familiar name after familiar name on to the screen as if the audience would lap up the theatricality of it all. The only character I liked from the entire cast was Adrien ”Rhinoceros!!” Brody, everyone else just played pretty grotesque caricatures. Owen Wilson’s does his schlubby moping vagina act again, would love to see him try something different. As with any Allen film, there’s some nice tourism-friendly photography and vision from behind the camera, and a token trampy ragtime soundtrack to tart up the audio. For me, it’s just another stock Allen film – watchable and mildly entertaining – unless you majored in English, then it will undoubtedly be your film of the year.