Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Film Roundup - November

       After a super-long hiatus, I’m back - with the November Film Roundup!
Hopefully I can keep this a regular thing once again so I don't have to resort to ridiculously long roundups like this and this.

       So what have I seen in November? First up is Nitro Circus: The Movie, very similar to Jackass but purely stunt driven rather than the ‘doing-stupid-things-just-for-the-hell-of-it’ nature that made that series so popular. But that's not to say some of these stunts aren’t stupid. The majority of the things on show here will leave you utterly slack jawed as many are not only ridiculously dangerous, but some even being truly inches away from death – all captured on film for your entertainment.
       Perhaps it apes the Jackass formula a little too much (the cinema version was also presented in 3D, the film starts with an awesome choreographed multi-stunt set piece, each member of the team is introduced by name and the banter and feeling of camaraderie is very similar), however you have to admire them for taking things to the next level – often to places that the Jackass members would never dare to go. Johnny Knoxville himself is interviewed at one point and even he admits the Nitro Circus guys are crazy.
       Highlights include: a bike jump between two stupidly tall buildings, getting a car to crash and roll over seven times, a launched base jump and an Angry Birds reconstruction (but using humans). Worth a watch at least once.

       Also worth a look is Lake Mungo, an Australian mockumentary about a family who after losing their daughter in a drowning accident are convinced that they are being haunted by her ghost. Fans of more traditional horror movies will probably find it extremely slow paced and boring, but stick with it and its eerie presentation will definitely start to seep under your skin.
       Sure, a few of the character’s motivations don't seem to make sense at times and admittedly the scariest part is via a more traditional ‘unexpected sudden scary sound’ method of delivery, but the haunting score, intimacy of the home video footage and interview-heavy style of the film makes it extra creepy. Just like the Blair Witch Project, if you happened to catch this on TV late one night and watched it not knowing it was a work of fiction you would probably have to leave the light on when you go to bed, such is its feeling of lingering dread.

       Speaking of dread, despite its title, Clive Barker’s Dread lacks sorely in said commodity and instead relies on ‘eww that's icky’ or ‘damn that's harsh’ to get its horror on. Following the story of a group of teenagers doing a ‘fear study’ as part of a school project, things predictably take a darker turn and spiral out of control.
       Its messy, low budget, not as philosophical as it wants to be and can’t really compete with the Saw films of this world in terms of gross-out stakes. Not really worth the time to watch, even for horror fans. The ‘axe-cam’ is a cool idea though. Not to be confused with this Dredd, which was actually quite awesome.

       Last up we have Notorious, a biopic of the late rapper Christopher Wallace, AKA Biggie Smalls AKA The Notorious B.I.G. Being a fan of his music but not being too knowledgeable of his life story, I thought I would give this a look. Following his upbringing in Brooklyn, through his rise to fame, right up until his tragic drive-by murder which may or may not be linked with his East Coast/West Coast rivalry with Tupac, the film dutifully charts it all. Despite being a genius on the mic, his treatment of women throughout doesn't do him any favours, even though I suspect the filmmakers have already toned it down from reality a little to make his portrayal a tad more sympathetic.
       Jamal Woolard is excellent in the lead role (his vocal delivery is pretty uncanny) and there is strong support from most of the cast. As good an actor as Anthony Mackie is though, he did not look anything like Tupac, which took me out of the experience a little.
       All in all a decent effort but a lack of any real tension in the story (you know how it's all going to end anyway) makes this seem more like a decent TV movie. One for Biggie fans only perhaps...

       Catch you next time!

11 Dec 2012

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