Category: 50 Film August


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The final film I watched on this challenge was another 2000’s independent film which somehow seem to have become the most popular films inside the fifty.

 

Violet & Daisy follows two teen assassins who struggle to balance murder with their girlhood – what lets the film down however is that it struggles to find its own identity and wants to be Pulp Fiction.

 

Right from the start this is clear as the two girls discuss trivial matters in the opening scene moments before committing a brutal murder – the film also adopts a non-linear narrative jumping between characters in a similar fashion and to be honest feels incredibly forced.

 

The script is a complete muddle with the girls acting like mature women one second before suddenly reverting to being stupid little girls the next – this makes t difficult to connect with the characters and enjoy the film.

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The film does star James Gandolfini as one of the girls targets and his performance is the highlight of an extremely mediocre film.

 

Story – 2/5

Style – 2/5

Technical – 4/5

Enjoyment – 2/5

 Screen shot 2014-08-31 at 11.54.41Shallow Grave is Danny Boyles first feature film and it shows what a great talent the man is as it is a great piece of intelligent, bloody and tense cinema. The film follows three flatmates (Ewan McGregor, Christopher Eccleston and Kerry Fox) who discover their new flatmate dead and surrounded by cash. Rather than summon the police they instead mutilate the body and take the money for themselves.

 

As the film plays out the characters become changed by the events and start fighting amongst each other leading to several twists in a chop and change ending that is thrilling to watch.

 

The films use of colour to heavily stylised with reds being used constantly throughout as foreshadowing reference to blood and murder. It looks fantastic and this is helped by the use of some very creative camerawork and fantastic performances.

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Shallow Grave is very much a film in the same vein as Trainspotting and is just as enjoyable if not more so to watch.

 

Story – 4/5

Style – 5/5

Technical – 4/5

Enjoyment – 5/5

Total – 18/20 = 9/10

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As this 50 Film Challenge comes close to the end I decided to delve into Studio Ghibli animation for something fresh and interesting and definitely got what I expected.

 

Ponyo could be seen as a Ghibli adaptation of the Little Mermaid; it follows a young boy who saves a dying fish – Ponyo – who turns out to have magical powers and uses them to become human herself; causing a shift in the earths gravitational pull and putting the whole of mankind at risk.

 

However good the story is, is not important as it is the look and style of the film that makes it a wonderful experience. Every frame looks unlike anything you’ve ever seen and the water effects are particularly dazzling. You are truly drawn into this strange underwater world of magic and potions and truly emphasise with Ponyo’s love and want to be human.

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Story – 4/5

Style – 5/5

Technical – 4/5

Enjoyment – 5/5

Total – 18/20 = 9/10

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High Tension or ‘Switchblade Romance’ as it was called on its UK release is something of a rulebook for gore and horror. The story of the film has literally nothing original about it and simply follows all the rules of 70’s and 80’s horror only with better effects.

 

This lack of story however does not make the film a bore as the action is still intense, creepy and strange. There is lots of blood and special effects for some amazing looking murders and some fantastic set pieces spotted throughout.

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It may be a bit cliché but High Tension is still highly enjoyable.

 

Story – 1/5

Style – 4/5

Technical – 4/5

Enjoyment – 4/5

Total – 13/20 = 6/10

 

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As a fan of the first Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs I was unsure where a sequel could go direction wise without feeling forced and as soon as the film began you can see the filmmakers also struggle with this.

 

The story of the film is basically a set-piece for jokes and that is fine for the most part. The film is packed full of food based puns alongside some great animation including the fantastic addition of living food animals or foodimals. The creatures and entire food world they live look fantastic almost like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on drugs and it is these wonderful visuals which make the film enjoyable.

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Story – 2/5

Style – 5/5

Technical – 4/5

Enjoyment – 4/5

Total – 15/20 = 7/10

 

 

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Manic is a claustrophobic film set in young offenders psychiatric hospital, it could easily be described as ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’ with kids and that is by no means a bad thing.

 

We follow Lyle (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who has just been committed to the hospital due to his frequent anger issues. He obviously fights against himself and the authority figures at the hospital (Don Cheadle) claiming that nothing it wrong when it is clear he has the issues. It is only through the help of the other patients that he finally starts to see his problems.

 

Screen shot 2014-08-31 at 04.33.44The film makes use of handheld camera constantly throughout which whilst obviously the style is a little nauseating at points as it shakes around in constant close-up. This is pinned by great performances from a majority of the cast making for an extremely emotional and claustrophobic drama.

 

Story – 3/5

Style – 5/5

Technical – 3/5

Enjoyment – 3/5

Total – 14/20 = 7/10

 


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Sunshine Cleaning is a film which doesn’t seem to know exactly what it is. Whilst well-made and performed there is a sense throughout the film that is almost genreless; I was unsure whether it was a dark comedy or a drama and this confusion ultimately led to boredom from the story, the characters and the realist film style.

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The story follows two sisters who after struggling to make ends meet find a gap in the market by setting up a crime-scene cleaning company – cleaning up blood etc after people have died. The film then reacts to the way in which they each respond to their situation and gives an insight into all areas of each of their lives.

 

As I have said before the film is boring and muddled and not worth the time to watch.

 

Story – 2/5

Style – 3/5

Technical – 3/5

Enjoyment – 1/5

Total: 9/20 = 4/10

 

50 Film August – 43: Gardens Of The Night (2008)

 

Gardens of the Night is a slow-paced drama tackling the dark subjects of child abduction and homelessness. The story is in two halves the first following a young child who is abducted and the second showing how she copes with the trauma in later life.

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The first half of the film is extremely interesting and very carefully measured… whilst it doesn’t put on gloss on its subject matter it doesn’t hide away from it either and contains some brutal imagery and content. It is an extremely uncomfortable experience that is epitomized by a great performance by Tom Arnold as the obsessive abductor.

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The second half of the film is a little disappointing as it fails to build on the intense mood and reverts to an almost standardized view on homelessness which although still dramatic is not as intriguing as the first half and seems to drag.

 

The film raises valid points about child abduction and sexual abuse and I am glad it was made to bring the issues to a wider audience.

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Story – 4/5

Style – 3/5

Technical – 3/5

Enjoyment – 4/5

Total – 14/20 = 7/10

 

Seeing it has been a long time since I have watched a ‘proper’ Jim Carrey film and with Liar Liar being the only major one which I haven’t seen I decided to cross it off my list and enter the world of Carrey’s slapstick.

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And what a world it is. Right from the opening scene Carrey is on true form performing beautifully with frantic speaking and multiple facial reactions leading to great jokes. Sure the story is lame (Carrey’s son makes a wish that his dad can’t lie for a day) but that doesn’t matter because this is film isn’t about where its going its about how it gets there.

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Story – 2/5

Style – 3/5

Technical – 4/5

Enjoyment – 4/5

Total – 13/20 = 6/10

RUNNER RUNNER POSTER 

Runner Runner marks a film that should be good when you look at the cast and the plot. Justin Timberlake, a broke college student who is conned whilst online gambling attempts to track down the person who stole his money (Ben Affleck) and finds himself offered a high end job in organised crime.

 

The problem however is that the film tries too hard; yes it should be good but every tiny moment feels forced from the dialogue, the actors performances even the camera movements. The film has been made to the book and is technically sound in almost every aspect but it has no creativity, at all.

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So if you are looking for an example of a Hollywood thriller then this is the answer as it does exactly what it says on the tin – no less and definitely not more.

 

Story – 2/5

Style – 3/5

Technical – 4/5

Enjoyment – 2/5

Total – 11/20= 5/10