City of the Lost Children

If you have not yet seen the film, there may be some spoilers in here for you!
Or I will stab you in ze eye!

I bought City of the Lost Children a few years back after enjoying both Amelie and Delicatessen, due to the stupid no DVD release in the UK I had to import it. But I find it possibly one of Jeunet’s best contributions to a film for its fantastical proportion.

I was flabbergasted, flabbergasted!!! To find one soul on the imdb forums that claimed to believe that Jeunet and Caro’s stylings were similar to that of Tim Burton! :O I think not my dear friend! Look up someone like Gilliam and you will know that Burton’s imagination is very limited when looking at other directors.

Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro–directing Delicatessen together before Jeunet went off to do Amelie and A Very Long Engagement- Starring Ron Perlman (One), Daniel Emilfork (Krank), Judith Vittet (Miette), Dominique Pinon (les clones/scaphandrier), Jean-Claude Dreyfus (Marcello) and Genevieve Brunet/Odile Mallet (la Pieuvre)

Hmmm, well the story mainly follows One (Perlman); whose little brother has been taken by the Cyclops, who sell their children to Mademoiselle Bismuth who then takes them to a far away lighthouse, where a group attempt to steal their dreams, in an attempt to slow Krank’s ageing process. One forms a partnership with Miette (a young girl) who helps One to locate his brother. The film is hard to explain, but it very much reliant on chains of events, one particular scene is most obvious with this. But if you think about everything that happens in the film, everything is related.

Once again, like with The Seventh Seal, I find it hard to ‘sell’ foreign films –knowing few people that would be willing to watch a film with subtitles. But if you enjoyed Amelie then you should love City of the Lost Children. I suppose I can recommend it to lovers of elaborate fantasy films, and perhaps people that are willing to watch an enjoyable film dubbed *shudder*.

Besides starring many usuals of Jeunet and Caro, City of the Lost Children most notably stars Ron Perlman (who could not speak a word of French) who fits his usual role of the big strong guy; his character being relatively slow but kind, but he did a good job nonetheless. Perlman aside, the film boasts a large cast of strange and interesting characters, another favourite of mine being Mademoiselle Bismuth –the rather short woman- who just delivers one of the funniest lines (IMO) in the film. Other comments I suppose I could add, was that on Dominique Pinon, whereas in Delicatessen he is great, but six (is it?) clones of him is a little too much.

The screenplay is great, inside the film there are some completely absurd lines, as well as some very strange occurrences, and the film itself could be noted as surreal in many aspects. The story itself of course ends in happiness, with many (most probably un-expectant) twists and turns along the way.

Four words: “I’m allergic to steel” made the film for me, although you have to wait right up until the end to hear it, but my oh my is it worth the wait! Hilarious I tell you!  Other reasons for which I love the film I feel are primarily based upon its roots as a film relying on a chain of events. The sole reason that I like the Final Destination films are for the same reason, it is always great fun to have something completely unexpected happen… just because a bird pooed on a car.

Bad points are always hard for myself to locate, I suppose, if its relevant enough I do not like the film for not getting a general release on DVD much like Svankmajer’s films *shakes fist* Otherwise I cannot think of a thing.

The film is great, and although I cannot say that I have watched many French films, it is one of my favourites, due to its fantastical manner, the same very reasons that films like Brazil, Baron Munchausen and Big Fish will always remain close to my heart.

Cptalbertwesker Rating –8/10
A greatly enjoyable fantasy film comparable in style and proportion to that of Terry Gilliam, with some strange interesting characters, it is only a shame that there is no official release of it in the UK.

The Seventh Seal

If you have not yet seen the film, there may be some spoilers in here for you!  
If you have not seen it, then I recommend you do; known as a masterpiece of cinema, it is indeed quite good.

As visits to the cinema lately have been slow I have decided to partake in the reviewing of films that I have watched at home.

I bought the seventh seal on a whim in an Ingmar Bergman collection in the MVC closing down sale; for £20 cheaper than it should have been I was not going to back away from the offer.

Directed by Ingmar Bergman –of Ingrid Bergman- Starring Max von Sydow (Antonius Block), Gunnar Bjornstrand (Jons, squire), Bengt Ekerot (Death), Nils Poppe (Jof) and Bibi Andersson (Mia, Jof’s wife).

If you do not know the film by name, then you may perhaps know it from the film that started the ‘play death at chess’ (or play death at other games: Bill and Ted) idea implemented into a film.
The Seventh Seal is a haunting film, which I suppose could best be described as very philosophical, questioning the existence of God and showing the level to which a person may attempt to escape death. The story follows Jons and Antonius Block riding back to their hometown after waging war in the crusades. Antonius is confronted by death, declaring his time up, wanting more time to understand  life, he challenges Death to an on-going game of chess. Satisfied Jons and Antonius continue on their travels to find Sweden overrun with the plague. With my short description it may not sound that exciting, but granted it has its funny moments, as well as its sad moments.

Now of course with such as profound film there are drawbacks that would perhaps turn people away, starting off its black and white, and then of course the film is in its native language of Swedish, and do not get me started on watching foreign films dubbed because its just silly.

What can I say, if you ask me every actor was superb, I did think the devil witch girl was a little strange, but with characters like Jons, Plog, Antonius and Death you cannot get any better, I do not believe that I’ve been able to say that every character was enjoyable in a film before. But in this case it is very true.

With characters like Jons, the squire, lines were sometimes quite a handful, and with what was probably a direct translation from Swedish some lines sounded a little complicated and hard to follow, but the story itself was great, and shall be recognised as a great film for decades to come.

With such a great introduction to Ingmar Bergman’s work I cannot wait to see some of his other films. The characters were akin to that of Kurosawa’s, each character being endearing, and completely engrossing, their goals were clear, and there were quite a few laughs to be had regardless of it often being slated as boring. I must say the mention of the phrase ‘you can’t beat death’ just makes me remember what was probably the funniest thing I have ever seen with death (regardless of the serious context of the seventh seal)

Being as picky as I am I must say there were some cross fades that looked a little iffy, as well as a few other technical things. But otherwise the film was flawless, though I must say I did not like the song that Jof and his wife sung, truth be told, I found it a little annoying.

My overall comment has to be that this film is not for everyone, but if you feel like watching a pretty good film set in the middle ages questioning the existence of god, you can not go wrong! I suppose if you wanted to go so far, it’s a classic film, that Final Destination’s plot could be loosely based on, the fact being that Death always wins. No matter how skilfully we plan our moves or how determined we are to win, we can never beat Death.

Cptalbertwesker Rating –8/10
It took me a while to get a hold of the film and then watch it, but it was well worth the wait, and I was not disappointed with what has been hailed as one of the greatest films to be produced in Sweden.


Howl's Moving Castle

If you have not yet seen the film, there may be some spoilers in here for you!  
If this is the case, I will.. you know I cannot even think of what I will do. But I can say that the first film of the year was a good one!

Seeing Howl’s Moving Castle was spontaneous, doing some homework I found that they were showing it, and we (me and Catherine) knew we had to go see it; after the Odeon, decided that they wouldn’t show it.
Of course, the experience could have better, if I had not decided to… watch the Japanese version with subtitles.

Directed by Hayao Miyazaki–of much fame and renowned for his great films, depicting many walks of life, always idea for both children and adults- Starring Christian Bale (Howl), Emily Mortimer (Young Sophie), Jean Simmons (Old Sophie), Billy Crystal (Calcifer), Lauren Bacall (Witch of the Wastes) and Josh Hutcherson (Markl).

Howl’s moving castle is probably the third Miyazaki film that I have laid witness to, and all of the films that he is involved in are superb. There is some anime out there which is ok, but everything Studio Ghibli throws out is magical, it has the flare of a great animation. The moment you sit down and watch the first few minutes, you know that the film is going to take you on a fantastic story, be it sad, funny or haunting.
HMC is a little on the side of magical arts that I do not usually care for, but nonetheless I digress.
HMC follows Sophie, a simple hat maker from a small town that has never seen the sea before. One day she is saved by Howl from some soldiers that were harassing her, Howl flies her to safety but inevitably gets her wound up into even bigger danger. Becoming cursed by the Witch of the Waste to be the 90-year old woman that she sees herself to be, after being cursed she runs from her simple life to the wastes, until she takes up home in Howl’s moving castle. The film to me seemed to be an exploration of age, as well as the normal fairytale love story, with a happy end, alongside a bit of war and conflict added to created an all round top movie.

One thing that I love about films like Princess Mononoke and much the same with HMC is that it is an animation (meant for children) but adults can relate to the situations, and there is material in the violence and screenplay that makes it both a clever and disturbing movie if you are an adult, although I did find that many people in the cinema were laughing at parts most probably intended for children to enjoy.

In comment to the actors, I loved Jean Simmons as Sophie, it may have just been partly because I loved her character; but Jean Simmons gave the character this quality that I just fell in love with. The same also has to be with Lauren Bacall’s Witch of the Waste. This is another reason to why I love Ghibli films; you can fall in love with almost every character. As usual I cannot complain for the actors, as I would be complaining about their voices. Everyone was pretty good, although I felt that I preferred Markl’s voice in Japanese.

As for the story, I feel as though there was not really much of story. There were ideals; fighting the war, ageing, love etc but in all these separate ideas were formed together to make a great –albeit confusing- journey, rather than a story. But the screenplay itself was good; I pretty much felt that I was watching the same film, with the same dialogue. (This sometimes can not be said about translated dubs)
So.. why did I like the film? Firstly I love the style that Ghibli draw, it always looks like it belongs in a fairytale (not deformed like some anime, or too detailed like some animations), then there are always the lovable characters, (Calcifer, Witch of the waste, the weird dog, turnip man). The stories picked when creating a Ghibli movie are always top notch, the level of mysticism, and imagination that can be drawn out from one story is always used to itself potential, and stories and always complete, so that when the film is over you are satisfied with the result.

Well as for bad points, one shared opinion seems to be that of confusion. Many critics at the release of HMC said that it’s really a film for a child, because as an adult they did not understand anything that was happening, now with this I do not agree. But there was a degree of confusion that I felt with all of the curses floating around, especially that of Howl and Calcifer’s. Nothing else to say.

Overall is was some nice Miyazaki, perhaps not as focused on the war as much as his other films, and perhaps not as engrossing as Princess Mononoke, but some great memorable characters, and situations. A fun film that all the family can enjoy, although like most Miyazaki films it has its ‘scary’ animated parts, which if I were a kid, would scare me a little.

Cptalbertwesker Rating – 8/10
Very strange to watch anime at the cinema, but great to see all the other people that would venture forth on a cold Monday night, to see a ‘cartoon’. Good o’ to the Civic theatre to upping their seats, although they could invest in a quieter projector.


2005 Review

2005 Review

With a new year coming into play I feel it required that with all the reviews I have written, I should make some form of a review; recalling some of the high, and low points of the year in my own opinion, in regards to the film scene.
This year has been a particularly striving month for me, partaking in the cinema almost every week, up until a month ago.

High points of the year

I used to frequent the cinema about once every couple of months, if there was anything showing. But after this years experience, I can only hope that 2006 will prove just as fruitful of some great ‘different’ movies.
This year we had some “BIG” titles released, with the finale of the Star Wars saga, we all hoped for the best, and other than some nostalgic feelings, I got exactly what I should have expected. Other big name titles such as Spielberg’s War of the Worlds, a great new addition to the Batman series and a new Dead film, the year proved successful for big box office movies.
But it also shone for some less mainstream flicks, the likes of Downfall, Broken Flowers and Crash, lovingly fulfilled my need for material not created for ‘everyone’ and I must say I was pleasantly satisfied, and I do not believe I can say there are many films I am hoping for out of the New Year.
Until I hear what is coming that is… I wish to see Capote, Good Night and Good Luck, and if I set my mind to it, the list would probably be quite long.

So oh excellent Wesker, what do you rate as the best films of the year, we all so wish to hear. Well then here you are.
Please, if you feel comments should be made, I will gladly listen and contemplate, though I will probably not change my top ten.

  1. Serenity

  2. Sin City

  3. Batman Begins

  4. Downfall

  5. Crash

  6. War of the Worlds

  7. The Island

  8. Broken Flowers

  9. Cinderella Man

  10. Star Wars Episode III Return of the Sith

This is based on films that I have watched at the cinema. There were a host of other films that were released this year, which I sadly could not see, and was disappointed due to this. Else wise I would have gladly watched the likes of The Avaitor, Closer, A Very Long Engagement, Hotel Rwanda, The Jacket, Howl’s Moving Castle, Oliver Twist, The Constant Gardener and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. So sorry if you liked these films, and please do recommend me any others you thought were exceptionally good.

Low points of the year

Alongside the good, there’s always gotta be the bad, and in cinema, nothing is any different. With the films released that I enjoyed there was always the ones I would never touch, Son of the Mask, Herbie: Fully Loaded, Be Cool, Are we there yet? Four Brothers, Goal!, Madagascar. Now do not get me wrong, I have never seen these films, nor do I wish to. I am basing it solely on how they look. Usually when I see a film I already know that there’s a chance that I should like it. I do not like to waste my money, seeing something I will not enjoy, and I definitely do not believe in leaving the cinema while a film is showing.
So here it is, for you to bicker and moan at me, my top ten… did not wanna see them, in my opinion they look like they may suck, of 2005.

  1. Doom

  2. Goal!

  3. Four Brothers

  4. The Man

  5. Be Cool

  6. XXX2 State of Union

  7. The pacifier

  8. Herbie: Fully Loaded

  9. The Dukes of Hazzard

  10. Madagascar

I couldn’t really care less of the films I put in this list, and in fact I had to choose out of about 20 or 30 films. So moan and pout all you want, I ain’t gonna be touching these films unless I’m strapped to a chair forced to watch.

“Is that all for the year?” I hear you say… why no not at all. Besides watching films I do many other things, like playing video games and watching some television (oh the life I lead!) and I feel I must mention a few of the discoveries I have made this year, on great pieces of media.

I have been watching quite a lot of television series, with many getting me hooked.
So for all of those interested I recommend you;

Tru Calling

I thought that they were all rather good. Also if any one has any recommendations, I am hoping to watch Prison Break, and was wanting to get ahold of some episode of Jeremiah. So if you know anything on around about this level, please tell me.

Video games!! This year has been busy four new consoles out! Those being the Xbox 360, Gameboy Micro (If it counts) the Nintendo DS, and Sony’s PSP. It has also been rather good in terms of some very intriguing games, namely the most excellent PSYCHONAUTS!!!! As well as some solid titles like Condemned, Call of Cthulhu, The Movies, Fahrenheit and some other jems.

The year, much like many has also said goodbye to many great people. So let me just say, may you all rest in peace.

Will Eisner                     (1917-2005)
Hunter S Thompson               (1937-2005)
Anne Bancroft                (1931-2005)
Richard Whiteley                (1943-2005)
Ronnie Barker                (1929-2005)
Eddie Guerrero                (1967-2005)
Richard Pryor                (1940-2005)
John Spencer                (1946-2005)
Vincent Schiavelli                (1948-2005)

One last note that I feel that I just have to mention. Not usually do I get to discuss films with people outside myself, or maybe Catherine, (Not including the excellent university interview I had) but while overhearing a conversation. A fellow sixth former, went and asked…
“Whose Robert De Niro…” I was speechless, anyway. I thought it was funny and had to be mentioned, apparently she didn’t realise who Brad Pitt was either.

So there you have it. My review of the year is done and dusted; I wish you all a happy new year, and many great ones to come.