Posts Tagged ‘ Ben Kingsley ’

Quick Reviews: Marie Antoinette (2006), Iron Man 3 (2013), The Living Daylights (1987), The Iceman (2012), The Unknown Woman (2006), Star Trek Into Darkness (2013), Licence to Kill (1989), Man of Steel (2013), This Is the End (2013)

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Marie Antoinette (2006)

Brilliantly funny hipster period piece. Extremely well shot, directed, acted, everything, especially the first two-thirds. Loved it. Sofia Coppola is a female Kubrick in a way; truly the best mainstream female director working today, and one of the best directors to come out in a long, long time. Better than her father, at least, who’s certainly no slouch himself.  The woman has such a strong filmmaking voice, maybe even a born filmmaker. She’s not for everyone, I’m sure, but man, to those who get her, what a treat. Who says women can’t make good films? Not this guy. Not anymore, at least. Strongly recommended.

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Iron Man 3 (2013)

Wacky action film that doesn’t always work. Weird plot, kind of goofy, stupid. Guy Pierce is good, as is James Badge Dale who plays his second banana, and the little kid, and Ben Kingsley of course, despite the SHOCKING BIG REVEAL in the second act. It’s entertaining and has its moments, but I didn’t like it as much as I enjoyed the second one. It’s just silly when you get right down to it, especially compared to the sort of realism the series established in the first two films. And what was with the “fire-breathing” scene? Dumb. Eh.

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The Living Daylights (1987)

Awesome, epic Bond. Romantic and sweeping; really takes the series to a whole new, totally unexpected level. It’s the Lawrence of Arabia of Bond films. Great acting all around too, especially from Timothy Dalton who certainly looks the part. He’s not as good as Roger Moore, but he’s definitely very good in the role. Better than Connery, that’s for sure. And the Bond girl is actually not just the eye candy for once, not totally at least, and the plot is so easy to follow. And what a great ending action set piece! Just a truly great piece of filmmaking, and one of the reasons I’ve fallen in love with this series. Strongly recommended.

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The Iceman (2012)

Decent, very well acted film with a premise that keeps things interesting enough despite the thing’s lack of conflict and plot for almost half its running time. Michael Shannon is brilliant as the sociopathic hit man, as are Ray Liotta and Chris Evans. Just extremely well acted all around. The editing is a bit odd at times though, and could have used some more stationary shots, and the dialogue is kind of clunky here and there, but nothing too terrible. The film is just a simple, solid, straightforward story with no big surprises or revelations or insights of any kind. It could have been deeper, sure, but it works as it is, I guess. Good, but not great. Watch for the acting.

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The Unknown Woman (2006)

Disturbing, rape and violence filled film I knew nothing about going into that left me crying and shaking in a corner by the time it was all said and done. The main character is really good here, especially considering what she’s put through. Granted it’s all movie “make-believe,” but man, those must have been quite the hellish scenes to shoot. The story itself is sick and disturbing, yet full of passion and immense, almost overwhelming sadness and longing. And it’s all held together by a strong emotional backbone that helps elevate the thing to a state well above what would otherwise be little more than exploitation.

But man is some of it hard to watch, especially the horrific flashback scenes of…I don’t even know what they were exactly. And that’s what makes the thing so frightening; you don’t know what happened to her exactly, or how she ended up where she did. You just get a few glimpses of it, some pieces of the puzzle, but you’re never told exactly what or why or how. I also really enjoyed the film’s distinct style and pace, and what a great, suspenseful first act. The ending didn’t make a whole lot of sense, what with the whole **SPOILERS** jail aspect, **END SPOILERS** but whatever. Pretty damn good film, but really hard to watch. Recommended, if you have the stomach for it.

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Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

Pretty damn good, brainless sequel to a movie I hated. Yes it’s stupid and the plot makes little to no sense, like **SPOILERS** how the hell there wouldn’t be any space ships to provide security around Earth to prevent the kind of thing that happens at the end of the second act of this movie from happening, **END SPOILERS**, but so what? It’s fun and entertaining and well acted, and it has some pretty great moments of action, like the **SPOILERS** warp drive chase sequence where the Enterprise is blown apart and people get sucked into hyperspace. **END SPOILERS** Awesome. And so much running. Everything is frantic and fast paced and flashy, like living in a world run entirely by Apple, and that Benedict Cumberbatch, man, what a villain. Just mindless fun. Not sure why I enjoyed it way more than I did the first, but it was a definite improvement. Recommended.

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Licence to Kill (1989)

Violent, brutal Bond that reminded me a lot of Scarface. It’s very different, but not in a bad way, though it did take a while to get used to. It’s just a lot more grisly and violent and downright gory than most other Bond movies, with lots of mutilations and scenes torture and dismemberment. A sign of the times, I guess. There’s also a lot less sexism here, which I imagine is another sign of the times. And what a great end battle. Pretty good Bond, though very different.

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Man of Steel (2013)

An okay, overwhelmingly chaotic film with a few good moments here and there and some great action, though way, way, WAY too much destruction and death for a PG-13 film, especially at the end. And what was with all the 9/11 imagery? What the hell, Hollywood? Stop using tragic real life imagery to infuse your dumb, otherwise lifeless action movies with a sense of unearned emotional gravitas. It’s manipulative, lazy, and, frankly, a bit immoral. This isn’t a historical piece, folks, it’s just a stupid Superman movie. The guy flies around in a pair of tights, for crying out loud. No need to bring September 11th into it.

The editing too is quite terrible; it’s just too quick, and makes the whole thing feel like a two and a half hour commercial. There’s no sense of pause, no moment for any of the characters, and, in turn, the audience, to breathe. As a result, every scene of this movie feels exactly the same. Everything is shot at you at breakneck speed, faster than a speeding bullet, you could even say, har har. But seriously, there’s no tension, and very little suspense. Terrible, terrible editing. And such a stupid plot.

But it’s not a terrible movie, not completely. Like I said, it has its moments. It’s also very dark, especially at the end when Superman does something to someone you don’t quite expect a benevolent superhero to do. It definitely plays around with the mythology of the character, and I can see why some people would be angry with it, though I thought most of the changes it made were for the better. Still, it’s not a great movie. Not the worst thing in the world, but it certainly could have used a hell of a lot more work, namely with its editing.

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This Is the End (2013)

What the hell did I just watch? Ridiculous and clunky and way too long and self-indulgent. Very little of the film works once it kicks into gear after about minute 20 or so, and what does work makes very little to no sense. The film feels like it was written by a bunch of 12 year olds, and shot on a budget of $500. The cinematography/editing is awful and the mythology the thing tries to establish is spotty at best and highly inaccurate at worst, as much as a comedy about a bunch of celebrities stuck in the middle of the apocalypse can be inaccurate, that is. But, it has its moments. It’s very funny throughout, and some of the acting is pretty damn good, not just from Danny McBride who of course steals every scene he’s in, but also from lead Jay Baruchel who’s actually a pretty damn good actor. Why don’t people put him in more stuff? And the CGI actually doesn’t look half bad for a comedy. Not half bad at all.

But man, what a terrible story, and so poorly directed. Ugh. Felt like I was watching a student film at times. At least we get to see **SPOILERS** stupid James Franco and fat ugly untalented overrated Jonah Hill **END SPOILERS** bite the dust in a series of gruesome and twisted ways, the latter especially. Certainly didn’t see that coming. Not a great film by any stretch of the imagination, but not terrible. Has its moments, but not something I’d recommend going to see immediately. Or ever if you’re not a fan.

Transsiberian (2008) – 3.5/5

Choppy Hitchcockian suspense type film with a weird plot that is deeper and more involved than you’d expect but way too ridiculous and poorly written to take seriously.

The thing is all over the place, often relying on coincidence and over the top scenarios to forward the crazy multi-layered plot it so desperately tries to convince you is otherwise firmly grounded in reality. It’s as though the film wants the respectability of a serious suspense thriller and thinks stuffing itself full of wacky action set pieces and dumb, over the top scenarios are the perfect way to go about it. Granted most of the dumb ridiculous stuff doesn’t take place until the last half, and the first half is somewhat interesting at times, though, again, not that well written, but a decent beginning is no excuse to get even lazier with your plot.

The acting is also kind of all over the place. Emily Mortimer is fine, as is Kate Mara who is real pretty here, and gives arguably the best performance, “best” being used loosely in this case. Woody Harrelson, though, is miscast. He’s not bad, he’s just not very convincing as this supposed **SPOILERS** wimpy reserved type whose skittish nature helped reform Mortimer’s character’s “bad girl” persona into something dull and watered down. Mortimer herself never struck me as someone who used to have a “bad” side to her either, and, though she manages to pull it off for the most part, I never quite bought it completely. **END SPOILERS**

Overall, not a terrible film. Entertaining at times, but too ridiculous at others, especially in some of the choices Mortimer makes near the middle and end, and the crazy coincidences/scenarios that play out with **SPOILERS** Ben Kingsley’s character. **END SPOILERS** Some of it “just plain don’t make sense,” as they say, while most of it is just stupid. The script tries to do too much in too lazy a manner, and the end result is a big, occasionally interesting but mostly idiotic mess.

The Wackness (2008) – 4.5/5

This movie was ridiculous. Ben Kingsley snorting Ritalin and having sex with Mary Kate Olsen in a phone booth? Some actor from an old Nickelodeon show peddling weed? Not one, but three graphic sex scenes involving Olivia Thirbly? Good God, this movie has it all!

All joking aside, this was an interesting movie. A bit too stylized at times, but still very much enjoyable. And the acting, man, what great acting, especially from the main character. Where did this guy come from? He reminded me of a young Ryan Gosling. If he keeps this up, I see an Oscar in his future. And in what other movie are you going to see Ben Kingsley bear a striking resemblance to Harvey Keitel for no reason whatsoever? Nowhere, that’s where.

And did I mention Olivia Thirlby’s multiple, somewhat graphic sex scenes? Go watch this film!

Hugo (2011) – 3.5/5

Sighh. A brilliant movie lost amid a sea of over plotting, awkward acting, terrible pacing, an overabundance of uninteresting characters, and more clichés than you can shake a stick at. Yes, a stick! It sure does look pretty though, probably one of the most beautiful ever made, and there are moments here and there that are simply too brilliant to dismiss. It’s just a shame they’re stuffed in with a lot of other needlessly boring, tedious ones.

The film is a mess, plain and simple. There’s just too much going on. For people who thought Dead Man’s Chest was stuffed, this movie is in some ways even worse, with all the sub plots and red herrings and dead ends, and a story that just goes on and on in a slow, hair pulling manner, and scenes unfolding without rhyme or reason. The first half of this film has barely even anything to do with the second half, save that the characters and locations are all the same. It often feels like two halves of two very different movies smashed together and taped at the seam. Both could have been great films alone, but together, it doesn’t work at all.

It doesn’t even make sense stylistically. Why steam punk? It looks great, granted, and the first 15 minutes or so of the film are gorgeous and brilliant, but it has nothing to do with what the movie eventually ends up being about. And worst of all, it’s dull. Scenes unfold in such a slow, awkward manner, with characters slowly talking on and on about obvious, uninteresting things that lead to nothing. The middle of the film is particularly bad at this, ugh. I couldn’t tell if this was due to the writing or directing or acting, or an unfortunate mix of all three. I know Martin Scorsese knows what he’s doing behind the camera, so I’m going to assume his shooting a film in 3D for the first time threw him off. It doesn’t explain the terrible writing, though, or the acting.

Overall, ughh. Like I said, it has its moments.The visuals are spectacular, and some story elements made me go, “that’s genius!”, but those were mostly at the beginning when things were still fresh and new and full of possibilities that are never realized. There’s a lot of terrible acting here, especially from the two leads who aren’t totally awful but seem off somehow. Every scene with them together felt wrong, unnatural. And I never noticed what giant lips Chloë Moretz has. The things take up nearly half the screen! Just kidding. She does have giant lips though.

But Sacha Baron Cohen is the worst here. Terrible character, terrible acting. He’s more of a performance artist than an actor, it seems. And his whole romance subplot, ugh, awful. All the little subplots actually were terrible, unnecessary, clichéd, and could have easily been cut to very necessarily speed things along. Ben Kingsley was good though, as were most of the adults save Baron Cohen.

It’s unfortunate because I’m certain that, with some work, a brilliant movie could have emerged out of this mess. It’s original at least, and gorgeous, and has its moments. But ultimately, no, not good. Watch if you like steam punk stuff that has little baring on the plot, or if you like pretty, hollow visuals, or you want a fantastical, disjointed crash course lesson on the history of filmmaking. If not, I can’t recommend.