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A note-perfect interpretation of an emotionally-riveting novel that encapsulates perfectly the relationship between father and son in the most extreme circumstance. And it's this relationship that is the focus of the movie, rather than the environment in which the story takes place.
The minimalistic design of the movie is beautiful in it's simplicity yet astonishingly terrifying - a worst case scenario of the bleakest of futures, tucked away in the back of our minds. This matches McCarthy's writing style perfectly and the lack of Hollywood sheen that often contaminates book-to-film adaptations is refreshing.
As with the book, the focus is entirely on the characters. There is no explanation as to how or why they are in the situation they're in, which is always a brave move, and it really works well here.
I find myself drawn to, and affected by, father & son stories and this one packs a profound intensity unlike any I've seen before. The performances from the always-reliable Mortensen and newcomer Smit-McPhee are terrific. Even with such small supporting roles, Robert Duvall & Charlize Theron also leave their mark.
The Killer Inside Me (2010)
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A controlled performance from Casey Affleck in an oddly affecting semblance of graphic brutality and drama. However, without the hype-inducing controversy, this could well have been overlooked as just another above average drama.
That said, it's beautifully shot and very well cast. It's always good to see Elias Koteas & Ned Beatty plying their trade.
Inception (2 Discs)
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Christopher Nolan has a knack for making complicated movies seem effortless. His grasp of plot & story is second to none and he may be one of the most intelligent filmmakers working today. You only have to look at his short, 7 movie filmography to realise this.
To then have to follow up a worldwide phenomenon like The Dark Knight is no mean feat. Many directors would have crumbled under pressure and suffered at their own hand, turning out a mediocre next movie, forever to be remembered for their past glories. Thankfully, Nolan has done the complete opposite and in some ways, dare I say it, I almost prefer Inception to TDK.
What Nolan and his team have achieved with Inception is extraordinary. The concept in it's rawest form - entering the dream space of other people - is simple and has been touched on before - The Matrix, Dark City & the classic Dreamscape - but the way it is handled here takes it to the next level.
The next three levels, actually.
To go into too much detail would be criminal, much like the movie's protaganists, but suffice to say, if you think you know Inception from seeing the trailer, you are grossly mistaken.
The cast is fantastic too. I've never been a big fan of DiCaprio but, as has been said elsewhere, there are very few - if any - actors of his generation who could pull off a performace like this. I can't wait to watch Inception as a double-bill with Shutter Island.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is also surprisingly good. Having seen him most recently in (500) Days of Summer, I had him pegged as a rom com kinda guy yet here he has transformed into a brooding action hero and features in the films most impressive, and memorable, sequence that will literally set your head spinning. Tom Hardy is a genuine highlight - his take on Eames, the dapper, intelligent rogue with a very good aim, provides most of the humour.
Visually it's a marvel and it's very easy to assume that anything out of the ordinary in modern movies (and there's a LOT of out of the ordinary stuff going on here) is achieved with CG. Nolan is a master of his craft and knows when to use practical sets and techniques. It really does add a weight to the film and it's here that the movie really shines.
Hans Zimmer - working here with Nolan for the third time after the Batman installments - has created the perfect audio accompaniment. From the deafening horn blasts to the subtle underlying pulse to accentuate tension, the synergy it creates with the visuals is unparalleled.
Inception is a modern masterpiece. A labyrinthine experience that by it's very nature, deserves repeat viewing and will no doubt be hailed as a classic for years to come.
James Cameron's Avatar: Combi Pack (Blu-ray & DVD) (2009)
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As epic a piece of cinema as it's possible to get. The combination of Cameron & the geniuses at Weta is clearly a good one. There are some nods to his earlier movies which made me grin and another fantastic score from James Horner brimming with an eclectic mix of sounds.
The stand out is obviously the production design - Pandora is a beautiful location filled with all sorts of weird & wonderful creatures. To think it only exists inside a computer is mind-blowing. The motion-capture/CG work is simply breathtaking. The emotion on the faces is so good at times I could have sworn it was an actor wearing prosthetics.
As a fan of James Cameron, it's great to see him back on the big screen. As a fan of film, it's comforting to know that at least *someone* in Hollywood knows how to craft a blockbuster filled with effects without sacrificing the story.
It's worth noting that this release contains no extras. There is a plan to release a more comprehensive set later in the year - currently scheduled for November.
I'm sure this Blu-ray will look stunning, but if you're after the behind the scenes insight, perhaps best to hold onto your hard-earned cash for a while longer.
James Cameron's Avatar: Steelbook Combi Pack (Blu-ray & DVD) (2009)
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Star Trek (XI) (11)
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I remember watching episodes of the old TV show when I was younger but that was as far as my interest went. With this reboot, JJ has successfully reignited my interest in this slice of sci-fi legend.
It's a perfect example of an intelligent summer movie that has not only treated it's source material with respect but also, if reviews are to believed, satisfied an existing fanbase.
Fantastic effects, story & a brilliant cast.
The Wolfman: Extended Cut (2010)
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For a movie with as troubled a production as was reported, it's pleasing to see the finished article isn't a complete waste of time.
The casting is wonderful - Benicio del Toro as the lead was a great choice and the inclusion of Anthony Hopkins adds a commonality between this & Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula which probably bears the closest resemblance in terms of production design & overall tone. A mutton-chop sporting Hugo Weaving is fantastic and the supporting characters are very well cast with one or two familiar faces, including Art Malik hidden under a big bushy beard & Charlie Chaplin's daughter Geraldine as the gypsy Maleva.
Danny Elfman's score is suitably controlled - epic & sweeping for the scenes set on the moors & hauntingly beautiful for the more tender moments. Design-wise, it has echoes of Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow, with perhaps 50% less gnarly trees. The decay of Talbot Mansion is fascinatingly detailed and Lambeth Asylum would double as a fantastic Arkham!
Rick Baker's physical make-up effects are as flawless as always and it's great to know that he can still ply his trade in the now established era of CGI effects. He has a great cameo too.
As a fan of the classic Universal horror characters, I enjoyed this a great deal.
The Wolfman: Original Soundtrack
Danny Elfman - CD
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Inspired by the memorable themes used in Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula composed by Wojciech Kilar, Danny Elfman has created a quintissential horror score which matches the tone of the movie brilliantly.
At times, much like the title character, it is brooding and menacing, but also subtle and haunting when required - a delicate balance that Elfman strikes effortlessly.
At one point, Universal weren't pleased with his work and drafted in a replacement composer who orchestrated a rock-based score which would have been a complete mismatch to the movie if it had been used. Thankfully Elfman's work was reinstated.
If you enjoy the scores he creates when collaborating with director Tim Burton, you will enjoy this too.
The Gold Rush (Charlie Chaplin) (2 Discs)
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Simply extraordinary and very, very funny. One of Chaplin's finest films. Features the classic bread roll dance & shoe eating sequences.
For anyone looking for genuine originality in this era of remakes & re-imaginings, this is a good place to start.
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This Aussie mockumentary about a porta-loo plumber is a real gem and surprisingly doesn't rely on tasteless humour to deliver the laughs despite the pungent subject matter.
With an outstanding central performance from Shane Jacobson this is one not to be missed.