Thursday, 28 January 2016

The Big Short

Looking good, Batman
Dir: Adam McKay
Starring: Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling

Narry Borman saw the great housing crisis of 2007 coming from a mile away, and put all of his stock into Findus Crispy Fingers. NB has literally thousands of boxes of them stacked up in his garage, but he knows, one day, they'll all come crawling back, begging for those crispy delights.

Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, and Steve Carrel (among others) also saw it coming, and wisely chose to 'bet' against the market, which meant that when it crashed, they got rich.

Even after watching The Big Short, I'm still not exactly sure how. What I do know is that the financial system is a house of cards, and that it's being rebuilt again. What fools! After the next big crash, Findus will be the next currency, Findus!!

Christian Bale steals the show, as always, although he's looking a bit buff for a banker (showing him doing some press-ups does not explain that level of buffness, Mr. McKay). The others are great too, although, as Mark Commode said, "a bit wiggy."

The two things I didn't like about this film were: annoying cut scenes where celebrities 'hilariously' explained complex financial terms; and the over-use of blue language. Both of these detract from a film that is otherwise stylishly made (almost no soundtrack, btw, which makes it all the more 'real') and well edited.

Rating: Good

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Happy Go Lucky / Laura / All or Nothing

Dir: Mike Leigh
Starring: Sally Hawkins

Not as trite as it first appears to be (when has Mike Leigh ever been trite?!). Sally's performance keeps a great balance between positive thinking and deeper-rooted sadness, and Eddie Marsen'is unnerving as the driving instructor.

Typically ML, everything blows up in your face just at the right moment.

Rating: Good

Dir: Mike Leigh
Starring: Timmy Spall

NB's not too sure if this just too grim to really be enjoyable. Tubby James Corden eats beans on the sofa while watching TV all day. The family's divided. Everything's pointless.

Neighbours live similar lives, but some with better perspectives.

Typically ML, everything blows up in your face just at the right moment (did I say that already?).

Rating: Good

Dir: Otto Von Pringlemaker
Starring: Gene Tierney... and some other people

This tasty little film noir plays all its cards just right: a murder, a complex plot, a beautiful dame (do dames come any more beautiful than Genie T? An extra picture just to be sure), and a cop on the trail of all the loose ends.

Sure, the script hasn't aged too well, but it's "of it's time," and all the better for it, because Laura will transport you back to the 40's, highballs, gats, whaddyaknows, trillbies and all.

Rating: Great

Thursday, 14 January 2016

A Simple Life

Dir: Ann Hui
Starring: Andy Lau, Deanie Ip

Some movies indulge in sentimentality like a lonely guy in his mid-30s might indulge in an all-night session of Call of Duty.

A Simple Life doesn't do that (at least not at first). It draws you in, with it's intricate relationship between Lau and Ip. And then it breaks you down with it's story of appreciation and loss.

It also depicts an interesting side of life in Hong Kong, and it shows some amazing cantonese food, like boiled ox tongue.

Rating: Good ox tongue, good film

Tuesday, 12 January 2016


Dir: Chris Petzold
Starring: Nina Hoss, Ron Zerfold or something

SPOILER: Ahhhh, what an ending. What an ending. What an ending. Again, what an ending!

Beutifully shot in post-war Berlin, Phoenix is a tasty little film that NB enjoyed from start to finish. Everything just seems a bit "wrong" with the life of the protagonist, and the story she's being told. And it really plays out very well, taking you through drama, romance, thriller and documentary.

Great performance by Ron Zenfold, or whatever his name is too. That guys got charisma.

What an ending.

Rating: Great great!!


Sub actor Frang Rigowski (right) steals the show
Dir: Seb Chipper
Starring: Laia Costa, Frederick Lau

Two things we all know already: this film was (quite incredibly) shot in a single take; Nihls Frahm and DJ Koze provide the music.

Take away those two things, and you've got a decent film that starts well, gets dull, then ends a bit too stereotypically for NB's liking.

The first 30 minutes are great at capturing the (ahem) zeitgeist: in da club, lonely, but having fun, meet some people, get caught up in some craziness, etc. Then, in typical Chipper style, it all gets a bit lost, like the film isn't sure what it wants to be.

I was left feeling a bit bored by the end. Plus I didn't like the actress much.

Rating: Good

45 Years

45 Years includes this sage observation about why women can
hold it together at weddings and funerals, but fellers burst out
in tears: we keep it all inside every day.
Dir: Andrew Hey
Starring:  Tom Court Nay; Charlotte Rampling

Imagine being married to someone... for 45 years... then finding out they had someone else on their mind the whole time. Sure, even if you have "one true love," and that person is taken from you, you still have the right to move on and marry, right? Yes, yes you do. But the upshot is that you have to forget about that first person and be sure that the one you marry is your "one true love." Court Nay makes the fatal mistake of living his life cautiously, with the shadow of his first love behind him at all time. When this is revealed the tragic Rampling, it's too much to bear for the audience and the cast and the crew and everyone. It's a life wasted, but the waste isn't found out until the end. That feeling of sickness deep within your stomach. It's possibly a uniquely British thing. That pent up emotion that we never speak of. Holding thoughts and ideas inside us, eating us up; we ignore them but they're there. Mike Leigh's the real master of tapping into that uncomfortable explosion of emotion, pent up like the steam inside an espresso machine. And he does it with comedy. Andrew Hey makes a good go of it, too. The overbearing heaviness of 45 Years contrasts nicely with the everyday scenarios of eating, shopping and planning a party. It's pulled off as well as could be so that the final dance is almost unbearable in its dull sense of renewal. It will make you wince, but we should all take away the lessons on offer here: don't go walking in the Swiss Alps.

Rating: Great

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

What Is True Love?

Megan's dad was a pretty good character...
a non-demanding failure... easy to identify with

Dir: ?
Starring: Liz, Megan, Zach, John

What Is True Love? What Is It? This movie should give you some idea, although the answer is actually subtly presented.

Because the main part of the movie is dedicated to the all-American story of some young, pretty New Yorkers who make good/bad decisions and suffer/enjoy the consequences. All the time, Liz (the main character) wears her hairband without flinching.

While NB can't relate to the Americanisms in this film (i.e. the rather flat conversations and the heavy use of cliches, etc.), the principles seem to be quite universal: Problems/qualities that appear before a marriage will still be there afterwards. If you've got dandruff pre-wedding, you're going to have it post-wedding. And Zach has "dandruff" in the sense that he is a vacillating, unsure young man, who is constantly divided until his passive aggressive nature causes him to explode.

In contrast, John, who is almost too perfect (handsome young man, pro photographer, spiritual giant, etc.) takes things slowly and it pays off for him and Liz. That's nice.

One of the things that stands out for NB is this: Zach has the ability to sound genuine, but his lifestyle and priorities didn't back up his words. John, on the other hand, had clear goals and lived by good standards, although he didn't have the volatile charm of Zach, at least not on the surface.

But the real message, as NB pointed out earlier, is snook (sneaked?) in about half way thru when the old man says: "It's never too late... if they're willing to act unselfishly." Liz and John's example shows that, but it's not clearly stated except for in that one line.

What does NB know, tho? He's only been married 12 times. Not a great track record.

PS. NB finally figured out the strange ethnicity problem of Megan and her parents (they're different colors!). When Megan goes to the court to get a divorce, her old man says that they haven't been there since she was 7. Megan was either (1) adopted or (2) the child of her dad's first marriage.

PPS. Check out the alternate ending, where John doesn't invite Liz to the cinema, and Liz continues to be single for the rest of her life, wondering "what if" she'd gone with Zach.

Rating: N/A