Tag Archives: Christian Bale

SD/Movies – Getting Schooled, Getting Drunk, Knowing Stuff & Getting Whacked

Old School/The Hangover

We watched “Old School” based on the enthusiastic recommendations of our friends. These friends, it’s worth mentioning, are the ones who recommended “Euro Trip” all those months back, and despite the various movie triumphs we’ve had based on their suggestions since, the old wound runs deep!

Old School“Old School” doesn’t clear up the scar tissue, but it at least alleviates the remnant pain a little.

Luke Wilson, Will Ferrell and Vince Vaughan shamble their way through a mildly raucous movie that isn’t quite shocking enough to be a screwball romp, but isn’t sharp enough to be an insightful relationship comedy.

There are a few pretty good laughs scattered through the movie, and Wilson and Ferrell give likeable performances… Even Vaughan’s totally amoral oiliness has it’s charm.

The film is a little all over the place, though, never sure which of its plot threads or elements are really the point, and as such it doesn’t hold together all that well as a movie – there are plenty of decent quotable moments, but the sketchy pacing makes the whole thing fall a little flat.

The Hangover - Zach Galifianakis“The Hangover” features an almost identical character dynamic to “Old School” – and if we go back further I guess we’d find similar archetypes at play in Todd Phillips’ earlier “Road Trip” – but with the newer movie the writer and director have a clearer sense of where the movie’s strengths are than they did with “Old School”, and the rolling motion of the plot – the search for the impending groom through the fog of a devastating (read “awesome!”) stag party – gives it a pace and clarity lacking in the earlier one.

The Hangover - Heather GrahamIt also has frankly more impressive talent in the reluctant-straight-fall-guy and out-of-control man-child roles – Wilson and Ferrell do good work, but Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis shine in “The Hangover”. If doing a sterling job at playing a handicapped or mentally ill character can usually be considered a fast track to award recognition, it seems a shame that Galifianakis will probably not get consideration for his lovably perverse and broken odd-ball here. His performance is what makes the movie stand apart from other similar romps, giving it most of its shocks, as well as any pathos present.

Mind you, as fun as “The Hangover” is, it’s not a classic, and the above observation could easily be said of the brilliant Bobcat Goldthwait in the not so brilliant “Police Academy” movies.

“Old School” is available at Amazon on DVD for £4, or packaged with “Anchorman” for £5!

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SD/Film – Public Enemies

Very quickly, while I’m in front of the computer and it’s in my head – we saw Michael Mann’s latest, “Public Enemies” on Wednesday…

public_enemies_poster02It was alright.

I’d like to be more enthusiastic about it – Mann is one of the best directors around, and while a lacklustre cinema experience might be understandable from most, from him it’s a terrible dissappointment.

The film boasts some great actors delivering good performances from a script with some nice flourishes but not much cohesion, and there’s something off about the structure of the film that means there are lots of odd little off-cut bits of plot or scenes hanging off in various places.

In fact, the film generally feels a little unfinished. The sound is often patchy – so often that you actually really notice when it comes together for the impressive gun-battle set-pieces. Editing and frame composition, too, are inconsistent, and these are factors over which Mann normally has complete and thrilling control. There are only a few bright and inspirational moments of cinematography, and too often they are wrecked by shaky camera work which doesn’t suit the scene.

Oddly, Mann has created a film that is more frenetic and disorienting in the moments that the viewer is supposed to be calm during than it is in the frantic moments of battle or passion.

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