Limitless: a washed-up writer discovers a drug that can unlock the brain’s full potential, spectacularity ensues! Most memorable is some of the great photography and interesting filming techniques, the shots that go from block to block, colour contrast… The story’s also pretty interesting, and it doesn’t follow a particular formula too much. Knowing it’s a hack sci-fi story, the film’s played for both drama and laughs with a few massive WTF moments for no real reason (Ice Skates, blood etc) – certainly made for in interesting viewing! Bradley Cooper‘s just Bradley Cooper, but this plays to his strengths. De Niro plays a focker-esque caricature of the squinting macho male he’s done since nineteen oatcake – very disappointing. Despite being somewhat ironically limited (a single idea spun out a bit too thinly) Limitless is a decent, memorable, interesting popcorn action flick.
24 – Season 8: Quite a strange season. The episodes seemed to alternate between good and boring; but when it was boring it centres around the political aspect of the story, which bogs the entire season down and doesn’t have shit on the Palmer years. Because all the good people get killed off for dramatic effect the acting roster’s diluted beyond recognition. In the crap corner we have President Taylor. Dana Walsh, Rob Weiss, Charles ‘the human scrotum’ Logan, Kim Bauer, Meredith Reed… Most of the others are in the middle of the ring, sketchy at best – exceptions being rock solid Ethan Kanin, Michael Madsen super-typecast cameo and Dailia Hassan; who single-handedly blows the rest of the cast away with her intense performance. Jack’s looking older, but still talking ridiculously fast, and if there ever was a moral line he’s been treading for the past 7 years he finally flies over the edge – which sees his story change from the familiar risque agent to a full-on revenge rampage. Story-wise the plot-holes were more like black holes; Rene (real or fake?) infiltrating the Russian mob for five years… mmmmm, that wasn’t mentioned before, and the token mole was so rubbish and predictable. Given all of the memorable twists, turns, highs and lows through all eight seasons the ending was a very, very disappointing cop out, leaving the scope of the upcoming movie wide open. There were a few great scenes and turning points but in general we had seen everything here before.
Note: I’m actually relieved that it’s finally been axed because the show and format had ran out of ideas around season 3. It was like to watching a new pet grow up, have its glory days, then become lamer and lamer to the point where it needed to be taken into the garden and smashed over the head with a brick, for its own sake.
Art Race: 12 part documentary follows two artists, Ben and Kenny, as they travel from one American coast to the other, fully funded by creating and selling art on the road: the winner is the person with the most money at the end. Sounds like the most boring show on earth but this turned out to be a great watch. The artists were both interesting in their own ways and although there’s a favourite to begin with, you see them develop and change throughout the journey. They also meet a bunch of fascinating characters, local legends and aspiring artists on their way. Both trips throw up some of the most amazing images I’ve seen of America – from huge scenic aerial shots of the Grand Canyon to close-ups of crummy diners and shaggy villages off the beaten track. Finally, it’s captivating viewing seeing the rejection and the random acts of kindness the artists face on a daily basis, of course some people just want to get on TV but most others are genuine. Fascinating & original TV.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: A man lives his physical life backwards, from a pensioner to a baby while his mental age increases as normal – interesting premise. This reminded me a lot of Forrest Gump: extraordinary life, laced with American history, boats, war, walking troubles and romance all told in flashback. The main difference is that BB doesn’t rely on being fluffy and funny; it tackles the topic of death from the start, and was just a more modest, and believable (!) story. It does have some humour with the lightning strikes, Irish sailor, and general growing young antics. Every possible effect must have been used to make Pitt & Blanchett look young & old, and the scary pensioner-baby and man-child are like something from a horror film. My only big problem was the thick southern accents (particularly the mumbling woman on her death bed) a lot was lost in translation for me. The heavy symbolism and long runtime were also minor nags. Fincher’s on top form here and it could arguably be his finest film to date – tough call though. It’s a great story, brilliantly acted, powerful, engrossing and tugs at the heart strings.
Maria Full of Grace: (and Cocaine) follows the story of a typical Colombian chick with big hair that’s trying to make a fast buck as a drug mule: naughty, naughty! With the tagline ‘Based on 1,000 true stories’ I thought this was going to be a no-holds-barred affair like ‘Lilya-4-Ever’, however this misses a trick by keeping it safe, glossing over the potentially nasty bits. Several parts of the story were plain rubbish (U.S. Customs / Last scene) and the American Dream aspect was too much: it almost glorifies smuggling as a way of getting into the ‘States, and infinitely better prospects. Two of the lead women look so alike that it’s quite confusing when they share the screen. What isn’t confusing is how good Maria is, played by Catalina Sandino Moreno, and unquestionably the best thing about this as she effortlessly takes us through the good and bad times. It’s a powerful story, but could have benefited from being a lot rawer.