Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas

What can I say about "The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas"?

It certainly was nothing like I expected.

I expected a dark, stark, "rats in camps", with a strong Anti-Natzi ending. 

Instead I found this to be a romp through the war through the eyes of this interesting boy, Bruno.

Bruno is 8, and his Dad is an important soldier one who makes the world a better place. So as part of his Dad being so important they have to move to the country, something Bruno is not so happy about, because it means leaving his 3 very-best-friends-in-the-whole-wide-word, behind in Berlin. Upon arriving, Bruno discovers there aren't any other kids to play with so he goes exploring...

He meets Shmuel, a boy who is a farmer, who wears striped pyjamas. I won't tell you more, you will just have to watch it.

The lighting in the movie is modern, so right up everything looks bright, light and like it could be happening today. Although sets, costumes, props, cars, streets etc all look convincingly of the era.

The acting is sublime, Bruno (played by Asa Butterfield, more recently of Enders Game) has the most amazing eyes, and he uses them so well to convey his naivety, curiosity, disbelief, and fear. Shmuel (played by Jack Scanlon) has a stillness about him that just seems to clear the screen, he conveys the sense of loss that his character would have endured, but with just the right amount of confusion about what was really going on around him. No, he KNOWS what's going on intuitively but he hasn't really put it all together yet, and quite rightly  states he did nothing wrong, he's there because he's a Jew.

The sudden and unexpected ending, tore me apart and delivered just what a movie of this calibre should. That is, it made me think, reflect upon and more importantly feel that what took place in those camps in WWII should never have happened, and once again the message was driven home that we must be ever-vigilant to ensure it never happens again.

Although its target audience is not children, I think that mature Children aged around 10 and older would cope with this movie. The violence in it is implied, and a sense of innocence is conveyed with a darker undercurrent that came more from my adult knowledge of what was really going on. 

So if like me, you have put off seeing this movie because you thought you couldn't cope with it, think again... 

As always I'd like to hear your thoughts...

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Hunger Games - Catching Fire

I recently saw this movie twice.

I have read the books, and yes it makes a difference.

I don't know what you'd think of  Katniss if you haven't read the books, I suspect you'd think she's a bit thick.

This is a looooooong movie. I like long movies, plenty of time for character development, plot details, and hopefully great scenery.

Sadly I watched Catching Fire in THE most uncomfortable seats, in the MOST noisiest of cinemas ever. I was distracted by people starting to get up presumably to go to the loo. I was surprised, because it didn't seem all that long to me. I was engrossed in the detail of the plot. Having read the books at the beginning of the year I was being reminded of the plot's details as we went along. It seemed true to the book in the most part.

I found the acting ranged from satisfactory to excellent. One stand out for me was Maggs, played by Lynn Cohen, who has worked in a great body of works since the 80s but this time, she has no dialogue. She can only express herself with gestures, and facial expressions. Hollywood, being what it is, ensures the most challenged of us are covered by other actors filling in the blanks for us, in case we need it, but I found Cohen's acting left me in no doubt of what she was thinking and feeling. Truly very powerful.

Its easy to think that Katniss is a lot older than her years, and therefore she appears a tad dense, not naive and young, and just plain scared. In the book we are privy to her fears, her nightmares, her overwhelming sense of responsibility. Although an attempt is made to let us know she is fearful, I feel the sense of urgency and depth of fear is seriously lacking in the the movie, though I am at a loss of how they would portray it differently, without narration, or changing the plot in some manner.

The garish costumery and make up of the Capitol, remain interesting with gowns made of life like butterflies or dresses with hip lines that are reminiscent of the renaissance era (albeit with a much shorted hem line). Amazing shoes to be seen, and Katniss wedding dress transformation is something to be seen (nope not a spoiler - that's all I'm gonna say).

Filmed in Hawaii, the jungle scenes do actually look like one, most of the time.

This movie brought to life for me some of the things that I found lacking in the book, for example the arena seemed less clear when reading the description, however in the movie it made simple clear sense.

Its a must see, but if you don't like long movies, save your money, your comfort, the comfort of others around you and your kidneys and see it on the small screen. Let the fans enjoy themselves.

Saturday, November 30, 2013


I'm not sure whether it was the IMAX theatre experience, or that Sandra Bullock is a favourite actress of mine. Perhaps it is that this movie really is truly gripping, sit-on-the-edge-of-your-seat kind of stuff, but I suspect it's a combination of all these.

While I love science fiction, I rarely enjoy a plot that is supposedly plausible yet defies belief. This movie could easily have fallen into a tragic attempt at a suspenseful movie, however my experience of it today was far from this.

The movie opens with some statistics about space. It very clinically tells us that "life in space is impossible", this simply sets the scene for the movie. Doctor Stone played by Bullock is repairing something on the Hubble telescope, in an orbit around the earth, everything is peaceful, the view of the earth is amazing, and to quote "The Castle" you could "feel the serenity" of it. Next disaster ensues, and we are flung into scenes from the trailer. Suddenly she is detached and spinning out of control.

A series of plausible yet gut-wrenching scenarios follow and I found myself on a roller coaster ride between relief one moment and terrifying concern for this poor woman who although completely brilliant has been emotionally stuck in the one place for years. Will she ever learn to let go? Will she learn to grab a hold of a new life or will she give up and die? These are options actively explored within the plot.

Bullock holds he majority of the screen time in this movie, and convincingly distracted me from plausible yet, unbelievable circumstances her character endures.

I found myself sitting there, wondering "is anyone else here as convinced as I am? Will Pete think I'm silly for actually being sucked in by this movie" ... Turns out, Pete, the kids, and I all felt the same hold-your-breath suspense, that I haven't come across in a movie for the longest of times.

The scenery is convincingly set in space, I cannot tell you much more without giving away crucial plot points, suffice to say the anti-gravity was well done, bar one point that made me wonder about what suspension she had on her hips (couldn't find it). The physics in space is different than on earth, and as Gravity is non-existent things that start spinning NEVER stop, unless something else interferes with it, and I found myself being reminded of this time and again throughout the movie.

Costumes were correct as much as I can tell, one space suit pretty much looks like another to me. Since Clooney never wears make up there's not much to say about his, Dr Stone wouldn't have been wearing any in space, and for the most part Sandra looked remarkably natural which is also very nice for a change.

Overall I was surprised by this movie, as I did not think it would be something about which I would have much good to say. I wouldn't go see it again any time soon however due to the slight motion sickness I found myself experiencing from some of the scenes. If you usually find yourself experiencing this sensation then I suggest waiting for the video. However, if you've got the spare cash and can get to IMAX where it is still playing, go...and let me know what you thought. :-)