Filed under: Arts, creativity, movies | Tags: blue valentine, Bradley Cooper, Derek Cianfrance, ryan gosling, the plave beyond the Pines
Sorry ladies. Although Derek Cianfrance’s (Blue Valentine) latest movie again features Ryan Gosling he spends the vast majority of it fully clothed – the vast majority that he features in, that is, because by the end of the first act we see the last of his presence as Bradley Cooper moves into centre stage for Act 2. He too largely disappears from the action for most of the third Act, to be replaced by his and Gosling’s onscreen sons.
This is nearly an excellent movie.
Although it’s long, the final third is spoiled by trying to cram too much action in and ends up becoming not just implausible but slightly confusing – not helped by the ludicrous “in the hood diction” of Emory Cohen who is decidedly outplayed by his nemesis Jason, played brilliantly by Dane DeHaan.
Gosling plays a wheel of death motorcyclist who, becoming disaffected with the touring life, stumbles upon an ex-conquest Romina, played by Eva Mendes (Gosling’s real life partner). In discovering that Mendes has borne Gosling’s son but is shacked up, alongside her mother, in the home of new fella Koli (Mahershala Ali – convincing and understated performance – one to look out for) Gosling first goes all doey eyed then sets out to stake his claim on his son Jason.
Being penniless (he’s jacked his job in remember) he has to earn some dough to impress Jason’s mom and so begins a short and haphazard spree of bank robbery alongside doped up partner Robin (a star of the show turn by Ben Mendelsohn).
This inevitably ends up going wrong and introduces us to a new main character, the copper with a conscience, Avery, played by Bradley Cooper. Cooper is gradually emerging as a Hollywood A lister after his Oscar nomination for Silver Linings Playbook and The Hangover. And in this he is excellent; studied and calm as the stool pigeon at the centre of a police corruption ring. Bent cops? Who should we cast? Ladies and Gentlemen let’s invite Ray Liotta, the face of supreme evil, in for a brilliant cameo.
So unfolds what is almost like a second movie. One in which codes of morality, trust and integrity cement the movie’s philosophy. He neatly challenges our ideas of who the good guys and the bad guys are and this is what propels us into Act 3.
As if these grand themes and this strong narrative drive is not enough Cianfrance is not over. In the third reel he moves the action forward 15 years to show that what goes around comes around and Cooper and Gosling’s sons run into one another in unlikely circumstances. Now we really do start to question who, if anyone, can claim moral superiority.
It’s an ambitious movie mostly well directed but without the taughtness of Blue Valentine. Gosling and Cooper appeal greatly and between them have a great deal of screen time. Mendes slips in and out quietly and unremarkably and Liotta and Mendelsohn do their best to upstage the stars. Ultimately though, my feeling is that Cianfrance has bitten off a little more than he can reasonably expect to chew, which is a shame because there is much to commend about this movie. It certainly represents value for money and is recommended despite its obvious flaws.
Filed under: Arts, books, creativity, movies | Tags: filth, irvine welsh, james mcavoy
When did you last see a film poster that had an “idea” in it.
James McAvoy going to extremes in Irvine Welsh’s Filth.
I love the career ladder made up of Cocaine.
Filed under: creativity, movies | Tags: elijah wood, Flashdance, Franck Khalfoun, maniac, oedipal complex, thriller, torture porn, video nasties
Just a steel town girl on a Saturday night
Looking for the fight of her life
In the real time world no one sees her at all
They all say she’s crazy
There’s a cold kinetic heat
Struggling, stretching for the peak
Never stopping with her head against the wind
She’s a maniac, maniac at your love
And she’s dancing like she’s never danced before
She’s a maniac, maniac at your love
And she’s dancing like she’s never danced before
It can cut you like a knife
If the gift becomes the fire
On the wire between will and what will be.
Strange to think that these lyrics from Maniac, the number one hit from Flashdance, were actually written for the 1980 “video nasty” original of this movie.
23 years later director Franck Khalfoun has remade Maniac as a far glossier art-house offering. Its main feature is that it’s shot almost entirely point of view by the main protagonist, schizophrenic and enthusiastic scalper, Frank Zito played by Elijah Wood. Why Wood chose to play this part is anyone’s guess. It’s as far from The Hobbit, Lord of The Rings and Happy Feet as anyone could begin to imagine, but it’s to his credit as an actor that he has chosen to do so.
It’s a curious movie. Billed as truly terrifying and extraordinarily sick, the truth is it’s not nearly as bad as the so called “torture porn’ that’s graced our screens of late. In fact with its classy soundtrack by “Rob” with echoes of 2011′s Drive and 70′s thriller noirs and its interesting use of what appears to be a form of tilt shift photography it’s a really interesting technical achievement.
Wood carries the whole thing off well, he never milks the part and he’s almost a sympathetic character as he quickly ravages the sexually active female population of Los Angeles and uses their hair as the finishing pieces to his collection of vintage mannequins. Clearly he has issues with his mother’s promiscuity which has sent him into such an Oedipal lather and she doesn’t come out well in his estimations.
Overall it’s interesting rather than brilliant.
It won’t get much of an audience but it’s most certainly recommended if you have the stomach for the more graphic moments.
Filed under: Arts, creativity, movies | Tags: ang lee, bengal tiger, christianity, hindu, is there a god, life of pi, muslim, oscars richard parker, pi, religion
I'd be tempted to give life of Pi this score out of 3 (3.14159265 358979323846264338327950288419716939937510582097494459230781640 6286208998628034825342117067982148086513282306647093844609550582 23172535940812848111745028410270193852110555964462294895493038196 44288109756659334461284756482337867831652712019091456485669234603 48610454326648213393607260249141273724587006606315588174881520920 628292540917153643678925903600113305305488204665213841469519415116 09) but it so annoys me when people talk about giving 110% that I just can't do it. So, instead, I'll just have to settle for an old fashioned 9/10. Now, let's get this straight. Life of Pi has just shown that there is life left in 3D. It may be, on the whole, a gimmick but the exception can still prove the point. Only two movies have made the 3D entrance fee worth the extra IMHO, Avatar and this. It's a tough movie for bibliophiles to even want to see because the book is so magnificent (in my all time top ten probably) and many I've spoken to who love it equally are just downright scared that Ang Lee was going to blow it. The odds were strongly in favour of that happening because it's a pretty full on philosophical workout. So full credit has to go to Fox pictures for shelling out $120 million on the ultimate movie gamble. How Ang manages to retain the existential angst of the book AND make a blockbuster movie that holds the attention from start to finish (yes, including the pretty turgid first 100 pages) is not only anyone's guess but a cinematic achievement of considerable merit. It's the storytelling that wins the day but it's wrapped up in cinematography of the very highest order. So many times one gasps out loud at what's on screen that it's like a day out in a theme park. Surely the Oscar for this is certain to go to Claudio Miranda (Fight Club, Se7en, Zodiac, Benjamin Button). The acting is universally good but it's the tiger, Richard Parker, and his four legged companions that really steal the show. CGI has never, ever been this good. This might sound like it's the technology that carries the movie but don't think that. It's an honest, stunning exploration of the true meaning of life, religion and truth and it’s an absolute must see. I would not discount it winning best movie come early March and I certainly wouldn't grudge it. Ang Lee's finest hour.
Filed under: Arts, creativity, movies | Tags: 1949 LA, gangster squad josh brolin, Ganster movie, la, ryan gosling, Sean Penn
Oh dear. Why did I go to see this when one could see very clearly that it was likely to be guff?
I know, it’s because my wife and daughter wanted to drool at Ryan Gosling. They needn’t have bothered.
But I can help you, dear reader, to avoid the same mistake. If you’re reading this after its theatre release and preparing for an evening viewing it on TV, don’t, watch a programme about paint drying instead.
Shot throughout as if it’s an Instagram it’s very obvious that style is more important than substance, yet Zombieland, Ruben Fleisher’s, 2009 movie debu,t was cracking and hilarious.
This is neither.
Why Sean Penn (who nearly pulls off the role of “ruthless mob king, Mickey Cohen” in 1949 LA) chose to take on this role is anyone’s guess. It’s certainly not a career high. and Ryan Gosling has finally blotted an almost pristine CV by camping it up as a very dodgy philanderer.
Avoid at all costs.
Filed under: Arts, creativity, humour, movies | Tags: african american slavery, black slaves, Django unchained movies, entertainment, ku klux klan, oscars, quentin Tarantino, Samuel L Jackson, spaghetti western
I’m not qualified to comment on the historical authenticity of Quentin Tarantino’s fully committed depiction of black American slavery in 1858 but I’m as qualified as anyone else to share with you why I, personally, think this is another significant contribution to one of the greatest movie directing careers of all time.
With Django (the D’s silent you know) Tarantino cements his position in the top 10.
This is epic, just as Kill Bill (1 and 2) was, and proves that long movies don’t have to be padded out indulgences. It grows in its impact with every scene and ends up a classic.
Spike Lee has problems with the depiction of slavery and I have to respect that as I, like Tarantino, am Caucasian. At times it does seem to mock the plight of America’s black slaves but I feel sure that Samuel L Jackson (virtually unrecognisable) and Jamie Foxx saw more than a wage in choosing to star in it and I’m sure too that the judges of the Black Reel Awards which have given it six nominations are qualified to judge it on its merits as opposed to its politics.
Although described as a (spaghetti) western this is really a movie about slavery and not since ‘Roots’ has African American slavery been so prominently featured on screen. Tarantino does not shy away from the subject matter or the vernacular of the time. “Nigger” is used over 100 times in the script and not just by the slaves. I had to refer to my copy of Filthy English: The How, Where, When and What of Everyday Swearing by Pete Silverton to establish whether or not MotherF@£$%er was currency in 1858 but there is evidence that points to its validity. Just as well, because Samuel L J can’t really get through a movie without saying it repeatedly and he does so again, liberally.
There’s an early scene in which predecessors of the Ku Klux Klan hunt down Jamie Foxx, the freed slave and “black man on a horse!” who is bounty hunting with ex Dentist, Dr King Schultz (played entirely idiosyncratically by Christoph Waltz), their depiction is so funny that one has to question whether or not it’s really acceptable to laugh so uproariously at a subject matter so taboo; but that’s Tarantino’s gift. It’s also his gift to spoof genres, mock convention (and history) mount lavish killing sprees and generally have a grand old time no matter the subject matter and that’s why we love him so.
Django is great fun, some say it’s too long but for me the movie simply got itself into a place (a little slowly I’d say) that fans of Tarantino would want to stay for hours.
Leonardo Di Caprio has not been this good since The Departed, (strangely not an Oscar nomination) and Jamie Foxx acquits himself well in a low-key, black Eastwood type performabnce. But it’s Waltz that dominates in the acting stakes and his Oscar nod is fair reward. There’s only one Chrisoph Waltz that’s for sure (and there’s plenty of it if you care to look – 101 acting roles to date to be precise.)
So, a little flawed (the start fails to quickly engage in gear) but unique and brilliant. Go see it and forget the politics. It’s a movie.
Filed under: Arts, creativity, movies, music, Rants | Tags: anne Hathaway, les mis, Les MIserables, Tom Hooper, Victor Hugo
I’ve seen Les Mis twice on stage. It’s too long. Fact.
But I was interested in what would happen on screen and hoped that Tom Hooper’s horribly fussy direction of the King’s Speech would not follow him into this. I hoped but my wish was unfulfilled.
Tom Hooper puts the blown into overblown in everything he does. The Damned United wasn’t a patch on the book, The King’s Speech is simply the most overrated movie of the past few years and this, well put it this way, if Anne Hathaway hadn’t been in it I’d have been asking for my money back.
Let’s deal with the positives first (shouldn’t take long).
Anne Hathaway’s performance, as Fantine, is mesmerising, especially in her death scene at the end of the first reel. It’s a shame because the movie dies with her. And it’s all the more remarkable that Hooper will have two Oscar winning performances under his belt from two lousy movies. As I said; remarkable.
In places (Hathaway’s death scene in particular) the hand held camera work with a LOT of focus pulling (necessary because of the narrow depth of field and low light) works magically. It’s incredibly intimate, yet at others it’s just plain annoying (and repetitive).
Next the sound. I could hear every lyric from start to finish which meant that, unlike the stage play, it was easy to follow the (turgid and unlikely) story easily.
But the sound is actually one of my biggest gripes. Yes it was brave, and in parts very good (Hathaway) to make the actors perform the numbers for real, but by focusing on clarity of audio the incidental sound had to be dropped with the result that almost the entire movie sounded like it had been recorded in a recording studio and consequently appeared entirely fake.
Now the rest of the bad news.
The sets are horrible. Entirely unconvincing from start to finish.
Hugh Jackman is unbearable to watch (his singing voice is unlistenable).
Russell Crowe is appalling, but not as bad as the double act that is Helena Bonham Carter (surely her worst performance ever) and Sacha Baron Cohen who just plain sucks.
Eddie Redmayne left me totally cold but I’m sure the ladies will like his boyish good looks. But nah. He sucks too.
The direction is mawkish in the extreme which makes the child parts nauseous and heavy handed.
I could go on but I don’t want to bore you and I know that nobody will like this review on IMDB because nobody likes critical reviews on IMDB. Ah well.
Filed under: Arts, creativity, movies, stories | Tags: American Hostage crisis, Argo, Ben Affleck, Brian Cranston
Before today I honestly can’t think of anything I would have had to say about Ben Affleck, good or particularly bad. He’s one of those Hollywood A-Listers that just doesn’t feature on my radar. Dunno why, he’s been (starred) in enough half decent movies to make an impression. And a lot of turkeys. A journeyman pro I guess would be my description.
Not any more.
Because Ben Affleck can direct. Boy can he direct.
Argo is tight as a drum from start to finish, features one of the most suspenseful scenes (more of a reel than a scene) that I’ve ever seen and he commands the screen as the movie’s star in such a low key way that he’s almost not there. And yet he is. Resoundingly.
Argo is almost immaculately conceived, scripted, edited, sound-tracked and acted. There are laugh out loud moments and moments of such supreme tension you just can’t bear to watch. The resolution is extraordinarily moving for two reasons. It’s majestically underplayed and the music is perfectly pitched.
The ensemble cast of six hostages, Affleck, John Goodman (back on form with some right good lines), Brian Cranston (making a bid to be America’s oldest acting superstar), Alan Arkin (really? really is that Alan Arkin?) and a bunch of smaller parts play their parts universally well.
But this is all about Ben Affleck at the end of the day. His third director’s role proper has nabbed a Golden Globe nomination for best Movie, director, supporting actor (Arkin), and screenplay; of these surely Director is within range and maybe best movie.
Anyway, my advise is, go see it and make your own mind up because IMHO this is an outstanding movie only equaled by The Master and End of Watch in 2012 (that I’ve seen).
Everything that The Master lacks in plot terms Argo delivers in spades. Argo doesn’t have the impact of a Seymour Hoffman or Joaquin Pheonix performance but it is none the worse for it.
If you dislike hand held camera work stay away.
If you dislike child led philosophy stay away.
If you dislike the American Dream stay away.
If you dislike fantasies stay away.
If you dislike originality stay away.
If you dislike cinema in which your brain needs to engage stay away.
If you think cinema is great art on occasion and can make a difference from time time to time see Beasts of the Southern Wild. (****the Oscars).
Filed under: Arts, creativity, humour, movies, music | Tags: (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), 007, adele, Ben Wishaw, bond, Bond 007, Bond Skyfall, daniel craig, james bond, Javier Bardem, Sam Mendes, Skyfall
To begin with I must state that I am NOT a Bond fan. But I have an open mind and of all the Bond movies I’ve seen in my time (many) I have to say that I thought Daniel Craig’s Casino Royale was probably my favourite. I chose not to see Quantum of Solace; a movie with a name as ridiculous as that had to be hiding something and it seems my gut feel was right given its poor reviews. But Skyfall seemed different. Certainly the advance reviews have been excellent and so I turned up on opening weekend willing to be impressed.
This is, by some margin, the finest Bond film I’ve ever seen. Although it has its faults (it’s a little too long) it scores points in nearly every department; the acting is universally excellent, The plot and script suitably overblown but flecked with humour and humanity throughout. Outrageous chases and set pieces (the rooftop motorbike chase just about winning price for most audacious chase scene I’ve ever seen).
But it’s what lies at the soul of this film (and it really does have a soul) is the cast. In particular we see the cloth lifted on what motivates Bond, his back story and in particular his upbringing. It’s this that starts to flesh out his (and more unexpectedly Javier Bardem’s) relationship with M who although as feisty as ever actually develops into quite a sympathetic and interesting subplot.
The film is excellently directed (by Sam Mendes!) with a theme (yes a Bond movie with a “theme”) about age and the battle between tradition and modernity running through it like a stick of rock (occasionally clunkily so). This allows the production team to have great fun with old Bond gadgetry (and music) alongside the very latest in technology – an obfuscated living data network being at its centrepiece which allows a new and ridiculously young looking (he’s actually 32) Q to be introduced in the shape of Ben Wishaw (Perfume).
But its Daniel Craig’s complete mastery of Bond as a character that is setting the movie industry into overdrive and not surprisingly. In the movie, in tune with the theme of age and aging, he’s almost not fit for purpose having “taken one for the team” possibly once too often. He’s on the verge of breakdown at the movie’s outset and takes the requisite, and to be expected, barrage of beatings as it unfolds, emerging at its denoument just about in one piece and ready for action with whatever lies in store in the next instalment. It’s an interesting dimension and works well with Judi Dench’s excellent central performance as M.
Craig is the complete Bond. Rugged, handsome, athletic, suave but with more steel than any since Connery and, to my mind, he’s a better actor than Mishter Cool himself.
As the face of not one but two major film franchises (The Girl with…) he’s solid gold and, for my money, worth every penny of it.
I also like Adele’s theme music.
Filed under: Arts, creativity, life, movies | Tags: Arts, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, entertainment, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Looper, Looper timeline, sci fi, transportation
Let’s get this straight. Looper is not, as many say, “the Matrix of the 21st Century” it’s “Sliding Doors with Guns.”.
It’s a clever attempt to play with the concept of ‘what might have been’ on a very grand scale (although, interestingly, not, as I was expecting , on a mind boggling scale).
It’s a big movie but it’s not one that, had it failed would bring the studio to its knees and I kind of liked that. Clocking in at $30,000 ain’t really that big a deal.
It’s set in 2047 in a now ragged USA with China having taken ascendancy in the world. I liked the fact that director and writer Rian Johnson (Brick) doesn’t turn it into Blade Runner but adds a few neat sci-fi tricks (like flying motorbikes). Loopers are “disposal men” of their future selves who are sent back from 2077 for, well disposal,. They are called Loopers because the film is all about time loops. 2044′s Loopers are disposed of 30 years hence (and they know it) by themselves hence “Closing the Loop”, but occasionally it goes wrong such as here where Joe (our Hero played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) has to close the loop on himself (Old Joe played by Bruce Willis). But it all goes Pete Tong and so we now have two Joe’s on the go.
You can skip the next para if you’ve not seen the movie because it’s a spoiler.
Personally, my view is we have three because Cid, the child that young Joe encounters in the second half of the movie is, in my opinion, his younger self. Which makes the sex scene he has with Sara (Emily Blunt – Cid’s Mum) interesting because that means he’s having sex with his own mother.
OK, back to the review.
Young Cid (a remarkable performance by 5 year old Pierce Gagnon) has Telekinetic powers and a temper that makes Linda Blair look merely snippy in The Exorcist.
I could go on but won’t because there’s a lot of detail to consume.
Suffice to say it all pans out cleverly; the various loops are closed in perhaps unexpected ways and we are left with a movie that is clever, well acted, slick and genuinely original.
It’s a definite recommendation. 8/10.
Filed under: Arts, creativity, humour, movies | Tags: comedy, drama, entertainment, gaming, society, Ted
I’m not going to dwell on this .
Ted is so funny you actually have to look behind you to check if anyone else in the cinema is actually phoning the police to report you for having thoughts that are
c) socially unacceptable
The good news though is that between the bits where it is so funny that you should actually hand yourself in for treatment/councelling it’s really rather dull.
So as the film progresses you’re like “this is a ten man” to “this is a two man” (ah, only if you are sad as me that I think in IMDB mode at every movie I ever see.
So it’s like 10, 2, 10, 2, 2, 2, 9, 5, 10, 2, 2, 2, 10, 9, 2, 2, all the way through and the average of that is about 6 so I’ll give it a 7.
It’s really funny (but boring).
The “I can smell your wife’s pussy from here” by a Teddy Bear in a job interview gag is outstanding.
Filed under: creativity, movies | Tags: Andrew Dominick, Ben Mendelsohn, Brad Pitt, film noir, James Gandolfini, Killing them softly, mafia, Ray Liotta, Vincent Curatola
Andrew Dominick’s masterpiece was The Assassination of Jessie James by The Coward Robert Ford. (his second movie after Chopper). It’s a movie of near perfection and, like Killing Them Softly stars Brad Pitt.
This is a more ensemble movie not in any way dominated by Pitt (great as his performance is). Ray Liotta, James Gandolfini and Vincent Curatola (Sorpranos), Scoot McNairy (Monsters), Ben Mendelsohn, Richard Jenkins (the Father in Let Me in) all play pitch perfectly.
There’s only one female part in the entire movie; a cameo spot for an angry black hooker that is lucky not to join the list of victims that this very funny black “nuevo noir” delivers.
At the end of the first reel one of the stars takes such a beating in the pelting New Orleans rain that you actually physically flinch with every blow (if you can bear to watch). It’s visceral and it’s as real a beating as I’ve ever seen on screen (better even than the great monochrome De Niro beatings of Raging Bull – this is the real deal in HD colour).
Set against a constant backdrop of Obama and Mitt Romney slugging it out for the 2009 Presidential Election the steady stream of newsreel footage replaces a great deal of what might have been music score and appears to represent the civilised violence that Pitt prefers as a killer with a conscience.
Killing Them Softly refers to Pitt’s disdain for killing people at close quarters that he has a relationship with. So given that one of his targets identified by Richard Jenkins the New Orleans Gangland procurement Officer (“it’s just so “corporate” these days he says, referring to the decision making on mafia death sentencing, in a laugh out loud moment) is known to Pitt he suggests bringing in a fellow killer , the, as it transpires, totally washed out and alcoholic Mickey, played to perfection by James Gandolfino. OK, it’s a bit Tony Soprano and Gandolfino is undoubtedly typecast (but so’s Liotta). But, hey, who cares. It doesn’t matter because every second on screen with Gandolfino’s tics, breathing, sighs, lip licking and world weariness is gold, pure gold (maybe even outside chance of Oscar Gold). It’s not much more than a cameo in truth, and he drifts off into the ether as the film resolves itself, but it’s pure magic.
This is a shocking movie. In many ways as tough, goddam fearless and just plain horrible as last year’s Drive.
It’s not as sexy but it’s as brutal and heartless with its killing and it’s arresting from start to finish.
It’s a worthy addition to the great cannon of mafia movies; Goodfella’s, Godfather, Casino, Scarface without the family scenes. It’s a great 8 out of 10. But Jesse James is even better.
Filed under: creativity, life, movies, music | Tags: aimee mann, Golden lin, Magnolia, pt anderson, venice film festival, Venice Film Festival Golden Lion, Wise up
…from one of the best films ever made (Magnolia) by the greatest living American Director (Paul Thomas Anderson) and featuring one of America’s greatest pop singers (Aimee Mann) who is 52 today.
Happy Birthday Aimee.
Oh, and here’s to PT winning the Golden Lion tonight at the Venice Film Festival.
Filed under: humour, life, movies, Scotland, swearing | Tags: comedy, John Henshaw, Ken Loach, Kes, paul lavety, The Angels' share
Wow, Ken Loach’s 21st movie (might be more) further deepens his fondness for documentary style movie making in Scotland. As a child I was supremely moved by Kes. My Uncle took me to see it as a 7 year old and it scared me. The anger and bitterness of a Northern life of poverty, dominated by a glowering Brian Glover as the bullying PE teacher and the innocence of the lead character played by David Bradley left me all aquiver. Since then I’ve followed Loach almost universally. Riff Raff, Raining Stones, My Name is Joe, Carla’s Song, Looking for Eric. All brilliant. All gritty, all uncompromising.
Looking For Eric raised his box office bar by ingeniously casting Cantona and described as a comedy it had the odd laugh, but was no comedy. And this in some way compares.
This man is a national treasure.
And, so, to a movie billed as a proper comedy.
Well, it is very, very funny. Paul Lavety has made sure of that with a brittle acerbic, cynical script that bowls along spewing expletives faster than you can say “see you next Tuesday”. The plot itself is a little fantastical but you can forgive that because the performances are extraordinary, not least by British TV stalwart John Henshaw in a career defining role. In some ways it’s Henshaw’s movie and the denouement, which features him, is extremely moving.
I said it was a bit fantastical but the overall effect is fantastic. At one moment gut wrenchingly violent. The completely believable East end of Glasgow Gang culture that it’s set amidst is quite shocking at times, and at others it’s laugh out loud especially with its liberal use of top notch gratuitous swearing.
Don’t take your mother (although my mother had been the week before me and loved it!).
This is a great movie. A certainty for award victories and a life affirming way to spend an afternoon or evening in the cinema.
8.5 out of 10.
Filed under: creativity, movies, Rants | Tags: Hal Hartley, Life Just is, london
Ironically this is the opening line of Alex Barrett’s directorial debut “Life Just Is.” Ironic, because that was exactly my feelings as I thankfully exited the cinema on the movie’s debut at the Edinburgh International Film Festival an hour ago. It’s trying to be a Hal Hartleyesque slice of modern London Life. It’s trying to reflect the ebb and flow of post University existence amongst a group of token flatmates and pals (a la This Life)>
I mean really; A black guy, a gay guy, an existentialist “nutter”, a pretty posh girl and a Northern Irish lass that doesn’t have to confidence to exist and is going to hell and back in a relationship with her new and much older boyfriend. Does that tick enough boxes?
I say it’s trying to be these things, but all it is trying. It’s turgid, tormenting, tumescant tosh.
Really it is.
Pretentious doesn’t even begin to describe how, err, pretentious this movie is.
The acting is at times naturalistic but more often than not simply wooden.
The camera work is so slow that on occasions you wonder if you’re actually watching the rushes.
There are many scenes of Tom (Nathaniel Martello-White) walking to work so slowly that you wonder if he’s actually disabled only to realise he has to walk that slowly so that the dolly can keep up with him.
Avoid this boring self-indulgent claptrap at all costs.
Filed under: Arts, business, creativity, movies | Tags: Alien, Michael Fassbender, Noomi Rapace, prometheus, ridley scott
“In space nobody can hear you scream” proclaimed the poster for Alien.
Even before you stepped into the cinema back in 1979 you knew, you’d read, you’d heard that you were going to be wincing with fear and disgust. When John Hurt’s chest was ripped open by a baby monster you did scream. It was, and still is, a monumental movie.
Fast forward 33 years and the “cinema event of the year” arrives with reel after reel of preview film but little in the way of proper reviews. No talk about what the content was. I feared it was a studio ploy. Keeping the film away from the critics because it wasn’t that good. And then, right at the last minute the reviews appeared. “Hmmm” that was the general consensus. So I went to my local multiplex in a state of anxiety. Could it possibly live up to the hype?
Right let’s get one thing out of the way right from the off. 3D does not make movies better, arguably the opposite, as directors strive to create set ups that allow them to show off the technique. The only 3D movie I’ve seen that even remotely benefits from the exercise is Avatar. Prometheus just doesn’t need it.
By now you’ll know the basic premise of the movie. Say what they like, but it IS a prequal to Alien and the obsession Ridley Scott has with the creation of man, religion, Darwinism and all such borders on the insane. It makes for some laboured moments and overblown plotting. The movie overall is too long (a common mistake these days) and lacks both pace, at times, and screams.
This simply does not scare you like Alien did, but apart from those criticisms it is a fine theatical experience. It looks astounding, it has good central performances from Noomi Rapace and Michael Fassbender and adequate back up from the rest (although Kate Dickie is hopelessly miscast).
It’s a good film. Just not a patch on Alien. There’s an obvious sequal standing in the wings but I guess we’ll have to see how this fares at the box office before taking the plunge because this ain’t a cheap exercise ($120m – which incidentally is only half what Avengers Assembled cost)
Filed under: advertising, Arts, creativity, humour, movies, photography | Tags: 50 for 50, mark gorman
Filed under: Arts, creativity, movies | Tags: A separation, Drive, Extremely Loud and Incredibly close, Gary oldman, George Clooney, hugo, Midnight in Paris, Money ball, oscar nominations, Oscars 2012, Project nim, Senna, the artist, The Descendants, The Help, The tree of life, War Horse
Oh dear. It’s not a great year, is it?
Nine nominations for best film and none of them were;
- Drive – The Best US movie I’ve seen this year
- Senna – The Best documentary I’ve seen this year, and not even a nomination for best documentary (or for Project Nim)
- A Separation. The best film I’ve seen this year, although it does get, and must surely win, best foreign movie and remarkably it has broken out with a best Screenplay nomination. Why not best movie then?
Instead we are left with;
- The Artist – nice but ridiculously overrated
- Hugo – often derided by the critics but leads the way with 12 nominations overall
- The Tree of Life – Great in parts, abysmal in others
- War Horse – after initial good noises largely slagged off in the press and written of as sentimental tosh.
- The Descendants. Will see it next week when it opens. Sounds like a good movie that’s nothing more than that.
- The Help. Oh please.
- Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Not much to go on this one but it’s a surprise choice and a 25/1 outsider.
- Midnight in Paris. A return to form by Woody but has largely sentimental and fairly forgettable by all accounts.
- Money ball. A baseball movie. Enough said?
If I was pushed to vote I’d say The Tree of Life (because I haven’t seen The Descendants yet).
It won’t win.
At least the lousy Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy didn’t make it (12 BAFTA’s, I ask you) and Gary Oldman might as well save the air fare because he ain’t got a chance against Clooney for best actor.
Filed under: Arts, creativity, family, life, movies | Tags: Bobby Sands, carey mulligan, extreme aggression, journey to hell, maze prison, Michael Fassbender, new york, self harm, self indulgence, sex addict, shame, Steve McQueen, suicide
There’s a scene early in Shame where Michael Fassbender languorously wanders, completely naked, through his flat and stands at the toilet before slowly micturating as we watch voyeauristically. It sums the film up. Pish.
Hunger, McQueen’s debut, was my movie of 2008. McQueen and Fassbender pulled off a coup with a brilliantly thought provoking and totally engaging story about Bobby Sands and the dirty protests in the Maze prison in Belfast. It was a horrifying journey to hell and back with a miraculous central peformance by Fassbender.
This movie attempts to do something similiar, performance wise at least, by stripping Fassbender back literally to his skin.
It’s a story about unsaid things. Clearly Fassbender and his sister (Sissy, played by Carey Mulligan) have a past that has severely damaged them emotionally and their onscreen relationship hints, at times, of near incestual closeness but this is kept at bay by extreme aggression to each other.
Sissy is a self harmer, Fassbender a sex addict. Neither evoke any sympathy whatsoever, because McQueen has set out to make a movie that moves glacially and observes the action with a remoteness and aloofness that is chilling and utterly unengaging.
The truth is, this is a self absorbed piece of film making that leaves one cold, in fact, pretty bored actually.
It’s unsympathetic stance towards the central characters actually ends up with you not caring by the end.
A cold, uninvolving self indulgence of a movie that I’d recommend avoiding.
Filed under: Arts, creativity, humour, movies, photography | Tags: 1.37:1 ratio, Berenice Bejo, feelgood movies, George Valentin, Jean Dujardin, John Goodman, michael Hazanavicius, Peppy Miller, Silnt movies, the artist
It’s been a long wait for this much heralded movie, the notices from Cannes were enthusiastic to say the least and early user reviews on IMDB have anointed it with must see status.
So, I went along today with an open mind and a hope that it justified its early 8.5 rating on our esteemed website. I have to say that it doesn’t but there is much to love in this delightful movie novelty.
First off, this is a novelty. Once you’ve enjoyed its fare you are left wondering “what exactly was the point of making that” because it has no real “agenda”. I saw no political, religious or cultural allegory. What I saw was a lovingly crafted, beautifully photographic, gorgeously scored, excellently acted, arthouse homage.
It’s kind of a big idea but without an idea, instead it’s a film built around executional excellence and in that respect is often near to perfection with some lovely retro cinematography and illusions.
There’s a particularly nice touch when Peppy Miller’s movie opens in a cinema called the Reine (an in joke and nod to the production company that made it, La Petite Reine I suspect).
I didn’t know the story before I saw it and I won’t spoil it for you here because the story is fairly slight and not that big a deal, it’s merely the skeleton for a series of set pieces and fun.
It’s held together principally by the delightful Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo), an up and coming “talkies ” star who worships the ground that fallen idol George Valentin (surely a nod to Valentino) played brilliantly by Jean Dujardin walks on. However many scenes are stolen by the delightful Jack Russell terrier who is Valentin’s only constant soulmate throughout the movie.
There are also two good cameos from American actors John Goodman, as the studio magnate, and James Cromwell, who you’ve seen literally hundreds of times without perhaps realising who he is, as Valentin’s loyal manservant.
It’s shot in a, 1.37: 1 ratio that these days, is virtually unseen, but was the format of choice in the 20′s. This, for me added further authenticity, as do the beautiful credits, captions and monochrome photography.
Sound is used cleverly throughout and the final scene had me grinning from ear to ear.
I really liked this oddball movie. No it’s not one of the greatest ever made and I doubt will do much at The Oscars outside of the technical categories but it’s a great hour and a half and an unusual and worthwhile feelgood movie experience.
Filed under: advertising, Arts, books, business, creativity, family, gigs, golf, humour, life, movies, photography, Scotland, stories, theatre, tv, videos, work | Tags: 2011, 2011 in hindsight, best of 2011, gibberish, mark gorman, review iof 2011
2011 was rather less fraught than 2010. I didn’t work to such ridiculous extremes, and the year end saw my portfolio change quite considerably compared to 12 months ago. Three big new clients at year end were Maidsafe, Vets2 and Front Page Design, all autumnal starters and all brilliant to work with. My STV contract finally came to an end after three years but its been great and I am very grateful to them for all the work.
Some old troopers still stand by me; 60 Watt, Paligap, The Usability Lab, Corporation Pop, Ampersand and LA Media, with occassional work from a small number of others.
To you all; slainte and have a great 2012.
If my golf was bad in 2010 it beggared belief in 2011. I gave up my membership at Dundas Park and clearly that did not have a galvanising effect on my game. I was shit awful on both trips of the year and even my winter game has been poor.
We didn’t go away as a family in 2011, for a variety of reasons but I had the holiday (maybe an exaggeration to call it that) of a lifetime in June when Ria and I went to Glastonbury. To say it was memorable would be something of an understatement. There is one abiding memory of it, I have to say…the bogs.
But there were other memorable sights and moments, like this…
Which brings me onto my musical highlights of the year.
My best of CD which you can have if you like included these tracks…
In a good year for music my song of the year, without question, was Video Games by Lana Del Rey.
My albums of the year were;
Bad as Me by Tom Waits (overall my favourite record)
Let England Shake by PJ Harvey
You and I by The Pierces
The English Riviera by Metronomy
A creature I don’t know by Laura Marling
50 Words for Snow by Kate Bush
Hotel Shampoo by Gruff Rhyss
Build a Rocket Boys by Elbow who also performed the gig of the year at Glastonbury (closely followed by King Creosote at The Liquid Rooms)
A different Kind of Love by Bombay Bicycle Club
21 by Adele
I did a lot of cinema in 2011…
Here’s what I thought of what I saw in my IMDB profile…
Two ten out of tens and a few nines show that it was also a good year for movies. In retrospect I plump for three as my best of the year
A Separation and
On TV This is England 2008 moved me to tears and was by far the year’s greatest offering. I liked Top Boy too.
I didn’t read a great deal this year but have really enjoyed
The Brothers Sisters by Patrick DeWitt.
The Childrens Hospital by Chris Adrtian.
And Filthy English, The How, Why When and What of Everyday Swearing by Pete Silverton.
But the best read of the year by far was…The Guardian which I grow deeper in love with.
This was a big year of theatre for me. I reckon I saw at least 20 different productions but easily the stand out was Dance Marathon in which Jeana and I and Chris and Liam danced our asses off for five hours before I was told I was relentless by the Producer. We also had amazing nights at The Kings for James Cordon in One Man, Two Guvnors and The Lyceum for both Dunsinane and Age of Arousal.
This year was sadly marked by way too much illness among our friends for me to want to dwell on but Matt, David and Jenny I am thinking of you now.
Also, we lost James King, Joyce Cambell and Fiona Pirie from FCT and Rachel Appolinari at the outrageous age of 19. RIP all of you. xxx
All of the family have blossomed in the past year, thank God, and long may it continue. In particular Amy has shown an almost exponential growth in confidence and skills in many different areas.
2012 is University year for Tom and Ria should they both choose to go down that path.
And so, to 2012. It’s the year I turn 50, Amy 21, Tom and Ria 18 and I aim, with Pete the Meat, to lose at least 50 pounds each before we turn 50 in May. We are raising money to do so and you’ll soon hear of our plans.
Thanks for being my reader once again in 2011. My year end Technorati rating was an all time high closing in on a top 1% of all the blogs in the world rating.
16,000th out of 1.2 million.
Filed under: Arts, creativity, movies | Tags: (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), daniel craig, dav id Fincher, Hollywood v sweden, roomi rapace, Rooney Mara, steigg Larson, swedish movies, Trent reznor and Atticus Rose
For the second time in as many years Hollywood has come out to face up to the competition from outstanding Swedish cinema with remakes that, at the time of announcement, seemed indecently hasty.
Cashing in, one might conject? Maybe so, as the movies in question, “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” and “Let me in” could both be accused of copying the Swedish originals quite closely.
So, Boxing Day in the UK saw the much anticipated Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, stateside version, hit our screens and boy does the US cinema industry once again show that it can hold its own against European art house with some ease.
The original (Swedish) movie, which was adapted from a mega hit novel by Steigg Larson, was outstanding.
This reviewer gave it an IMDB score of 9.0. So how does this compare?
In a word. Admirably.
Indeed the US version actually communicates the story slightly more clearly than the Swedish adaptation (and that’s not a comment about subtitles).
The fact is, David Fincher is on fire and he has once again crafted a thriller that sits proudly alongside Se7en.
The film opens with a thundering, and truly awesome, cover of Led Zepellin’s Immigrant Song by Trent Reznor and Atticus Rose (the Social Network) – there’s a nice touch early in the movie when Lisbeth’s go to man for forgeries appears wearing a NIN T shirt – and the opening credits, again like se7en are worthy of an Oscar in their own right. Brilliantly mixing oil and flame (a theme that bookends the movie) they set the scene to perfection.
Black. Black as you can get.
You’ll probably know the plot if you’re reading this so I won’t go into it; it’s a complex and interwoven tale of historical murder and modern day defamation mixing religion, Nazism and extreme sexual torture, but it’s all handled with a restraint that makes it all the more shocking in a directorial masterclass by Fincher. With the exception of the brutally bad Benjamin Button, Fincher is building a body of work (including The Social Network, Fight Club, Zodiac The Panic Room and Se7en) that makes him the current king of the thriller and one of the best and most reliable directors in Hollywood.
Daniel Craig is very good in this but Rooney Mara blows him away with a performance every bit as good as Roomi Rapace’s in the Swedish version.
This is a languid, but often shocking, storytelling experience. It’s a great movie. Sure, it’s only really a pseudo cop film but it’s got everything that anyone loves about great film making could hope to see in a luxuriant 156 minutes.
Filed under: advertising, creativity, movies | Tags: paranormal activity
Filed under: Arts, creativity, movies, music | Tags: Harry Nillson, Magnolia, One Aimmee Mann
Did you see what I did there?
Filed under: Arts, creativity, movies | Tags: Evan Rachel Wood, gearge Clooney, Marisa Tomei, Oscar winners, Paul Giamatti, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, ryan gosling, The ides of March
The Ides of March is to the USA what Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is to England.
Each country’s respective A teams line up to impress us with what they can respectively muster.
It’s a hopeless non contest. Aided mostly by the fact that the American material is richly plotted and deeply absorbing whereas the English mire themselves in dense sub plotting that renders the whole thing indigestible.
The Ides of March is outstanding. George Clooney, overlooked by many critics in this role because he is not always the centre of attention, plays Governor Mike Morris, a Democratic presidential canditate (complete with Obamaesque marketing materials) so well that you would unquestionably believe it if Clooney announced tomorrow that he was running for the real presidency. And hell, if Schwarzeneger can run California and Reagan was good enough for the White House; why not Clooney?
So let’s clear up one thing from the off. Clooney is immense. Clooney is one of America’s greatest ever movie actors and this is a subtly downplayed ‘best of George Clooney’ performance. Not only that; he directed it, wrote it and produced it. Is there nothing he can’t do?
Playing opposite King C is his heir apparent, Ryan Gosling. Gosling is the central fulcrum of this brilliant movie but he has a safety blanket of complete and utter class: Phillip Seymour Hoffman as his world weary boss, Paul Giammatti as his boss’ direct adversory, Marisa Tomei as a grubby Wall Street Hack, Evan Rachel Wood as the love interest (well, love would be stretching it. Let’s just call it lust.). All are superb, and it’s great to see Giamatti not playing a buffoon for a change.
But let’s focus on Gosling for a second. Gosling can not put a foot wrong right now. I fancy him for at least two Oscar nominations this year for this role and for Drive. He has so stormed the Hollywood A list as to make it his own (Clooney beware) and you see him only getting even better if he can keep his eye on great roles in truly great movies. In Ides of March he sweeps through the movie with ease, just as in Drive he starts out all likeable and decent but as it progresses his darker side emerges. I the case of Ides it all centres around his “affair” with 20 (or is it 19) year old intern Molly Stearn played seductively By Evan Rachel Wood.
It seems that interns are both forbidden fruit and fair game in equal measure (Monica Lewinsky anybody?). Her sleeping with Gosling (who plays Morris’ deputy campaign manager Stephen Myers) sets of a chain of events that it would be unfair of me to reveal. Suffice it to say the last half hour has more twists and turns than a slinky on a spiral staircase. It’s gripping.
This is a very fine piece of modern American cinema, the fact that is adapted from the stage makes it well crafted and honed to perfection. Expect serious rewards in the Ides of February in the Kodak Theatre.
Filed under: creativity, movies | Tags: Albert Brooks, Cannes Film Festival Best director, carey mulligan, Cliff martinez, Drive, Giorgio Moroder, kraftwerk, mafia movies, mob movies, movie violence, murders, Nicolas Winding Refn, Ron Perlman, ryan gosling, violence
I’ve managed to miss every single one of director Nicolas Winding Refn’s previous movies (Bronson being perhaps the best known) and typically his scores are mediocre on IMDB, which suggests his perchance for violence (he cites Texas Chainsaw Massacre as an influence) has divided his audiences to date.
Not so in this one.
At the time of writing Drive is recording a whopping 8.4 on the movie bible score meter.
And with justice.
Refn now sports a Cannes Best Director gong on his mantlepiece and it feels justified because this movie has been crafted to within an inch of its life. This is a real director’s labour of love; from The Michael Mannesque, super saturated, ultra crisp LA at night cinematography to the uber mannered acting, fantastic casting, sparse as Ebeneezer Scrooge’s pantry script (he wrote it) and ASTONISHING soundtrack (surely the Oscar winner already).
It’s languid, propped up by very little dialogue but driven by the aforementioned score that oozes class, from the opening and closing songs to the underscore by Cliff Martinez that builds tension relentlessly. It’s a tribute to the 80′s with echoes of Moroder, Kraftwerk, Eno, early Human League and more recently My Bloody Valentine and Mogwai. Astounding. That gets a straight ten in my book.
But of course that’s not what everyone’s talking about.
They’re talking about Ryan Gosling as the unnamed, unblinking, unflinching eponymous driver.
Ryan Gosling is amazing in this movie and while there are brilliant supporting roles from the touchingly understated Carey Mulligan as the love interest, Albert Brooks (nasty as the lead baddie with a tiny little bit of a heart) and Ron Perlman (neanderthal, wicked, compelling…gorgeous in a way) it’s Gosling all the way. The performance of his career surely (great as he was in Blue Valentine, and I’ve not seen him in the much lauded Ides of March yet, but I will) he commands the screen with not a blink of his eye from start till end, well actually at the end there is a wee blink. This is a tour de force performance and I loved it.
The violence is excellent. Slow to come to the boil but shocking and visceral upon arrival.
The driving is not overdone. Chase movies (except Ronan) are so tedious.
The love story is well developed but never gets in the way.
And the moral? Heroes come in all shapes and forms because this is surely a hero movie wrapped up in a complex web of antiheroes.
Very strongly recommended. 8.5 out of 10.
Filed under: Arts, creativity, movies | Tags: charlotte Gainsbourg, Charlotte Rampling, john Hurt, keifer Sutherland, kirsten dunst, lars von trier, Tristan und Isolde, wars
Ahhh. Lar Von Trier.
The ex Enfent Terible that was the darling of the critics only to upset Bjork and have them pretty much universally turn against him.
This movie has largely been slated by the critics despite Kirsten Dunst’s best actress award at Cannes.
Me? I loved it. His best film in a long time and up there with both Breaking the Waves and Kingdom.
It’s far from Dogme, that’s for sure, with its absolutely thunderous score from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde being one of the movies main focal points. It’s a powerfully moving musical theme that picks out the more arresting moments in a film that is bracketed by ‘epic’ whilst the meat of the sandwich is a languidly paced examination of the relationship between two sisters as they deal with one of their depressive tendencies.
Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg both put in excellent shifts as the (highly unlikely it has to be said) sisters. I’ll be honest, you do have to make quite a leap to see this pair as real life sisters but once you are over that you can just enjoy the film for what it is.
Dunst plays a role that could have taken her into the field of major histrionics and self searching angst, but she carries it off with such a lightness of touch that she really does grab the audience sympathetically, Gainsbourg is a seriously good actress in a fine role well suited to her personality. She too could have overplayed several moments in the movie, but holds back suitably.
The men, for once in a Von Trier film, have the less sympathetic roles. Keifer Sutherland as the partner of Gainsbourg and father of their child spends more time acting like a boy scout leader that husband fearing the end of civilisation as he plots fun and games with his young son played sweetly by Cameron Spurr.
Like Mallick’s recent Tree of Life (with which several comparisons can be made) it’s an oddly compartmentalized affair (the aforementioned bookends are high octane sci-fi – initially in the vein of 2001 Space Oddessy and latterly in the style of Danny Boyle’s vastly underrated Sunshine). It’s in the main meat of the film that styles particularly diverge.
The first Act is Dunst’s story as she endures her deeply dysfunctional wedding day – way too much hand held camera for my liking that contrived the action a little but gave Dunst the chance to develop her story of depression – John Hurt and Charlotte Rampling as her deeply unpleasant parents get really nice cameo roles to play around with.
Act two is her sister’s story, here the cinematography is much more relaxed and often breathtaking.
Dunst continues to draw the plaudits as she emerges from her depressed catatonia as the world heads rapidly towards apocalypse in the shadow of a giant planet headed for collision with earth.
It is the planet, Melanchonia, that gives the movie its name and its theme.
For some the whole movie, at 135 minutes, may be too long. For me, it was perfectly paced and the slight twist at the end of the tale was deeply satisfying and ultimately enthralling.
Strong recommendation. 8/10 maybe 8.5.
Filed under: movies | Tags: benedict cumberbatch, British movies, Colin Firth, Gary oldman, john Hurt, kathy Bates, Mark Strong, The Brits are coming, tinker tailor soldier spy, toby Jones, Tom Hardy
Even though I did not gawp as Sir Alec Guinness enthralled the great British middle classes in the late 1970′s in the famous BBC adaptation of John Le Carre’s celebrated novel, and indeed not having read the book, I nevertheless approached this much trumpeted British “classic” with enthusiasm.
My anticipation was grossly misplaced. It is a tedious and turgid celebration of Britain’s Cold War spying fraternity that is so badly plotted that to the uninitiated it has the transparency of a potato.
If anyone can tell me what the hell was going on in this self indulgent nonsense I’d be grateful. On second thoughts, don’t bother, I don’t really care.
We Brits do get so chipper about our occassional foray into big news cinema and so the arrival of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy has been trumpeted loudly and uncriticaly in the British (mainly broadsheet) press.
The King’s Speech too was credited with far greater quality than it actually delivered.
This is just a mess.
There is little to fault about the acting from a fine ensemble of British character actors who all carry out their duties perfectly well, generally in a half light that occasionally works cinematographically and sometimes just makes the action plain gloomy.
The art department excells however with excellent period details from start to finish.
Director Tomas Alfredson’s first movie, Let The Right One in, is as tight as a drum and is beautifully realised – in stark contrast to this nonsense.
I can’t honestly remember the last time I was quite so bored in a cinema and I blame, principally, the screenplay for this because it assumes its audience knows the detailed storyline and makes no effort to introduce novices to the basic premises of what the story is actually about.
How a film with so many twists and turns, flahbacks (way too many) and references can be boring beats me. But it is.
Unless you know the book or the TV series well, avoid like the plague.