Monday, 28 May 2012

My Week in Film: May 28, 2012

Oh man, a monkey walked into my wrench works of the Week in Film post! I totally get confounded by wanted to always have this up on Monday morning, yet not wanting to write it on Sunday. I apparently want to shimmy a hole in the space time continuum to write it somewhere mystically between the two. Alas, until I do that (and I will!) I'll just be a little later this week than I'd like.

That was the first monkey of the week. The second was that I haven't seen any new theatrical releases since last week. I had all the best intentions of check out some special screenings but more monkeys flew into those plans. But, that doesn't mean I didn't see anything. When monkeys try to play with your life, just clear them away and take a crack at the good old Owned/Unseen pile. That's what I did and got through two choice selections from my pile including Indonesian action flick/journey film Merantau & science fiction drama Code 46.

First up Merantau (dir: Gareth Evans, Indonesia/2009), which I was really looking forward to as it stars Iko Uwais and is directed by Gareth Evans who brought us the absolutely fantastic film The Raid (now The Raid: Redemption) which I fell in love with after seeing it during TIFF 2011. It was the Midnight Madness opener, but I opted to see it during the day (which actually ended up being pretty awesome - see why here), and since then I wanted to see their first film Merantau. Now, I've not had the best track record when I go back to watch earlier action films as I find you usually get great action and everything else can be, well, not so great. So my expectations were pretty low, just hoping for the good action.

Low and behold I should have held those expectations higher as it's an overall great film with a wonderful journey story of coming into ones own, which is what the title of Merantau means. So, and action film and a journey film. Shannon was a happy film watcher, that's for sure. I loved the sentiment of the story and the whole do-good attitude, even when faced with trouble and turmoil. Yep, I'm going to buy that every, single time. Every time. Of course you are probably wondering about the action aren't you? About seeing more of the gorgeous martial arts form of Silat, yes? It was awesome. And plentiful. And daring. All of the action is very believable, incredibly skillful and fantastically entertaining. I was actually kind of worried at a few of the stunts, but thankfully the DVD has a lot of extras to explore which after the fact calmed down my "omg, did they just like DO that?" freak-out moments. Extremely impressive and very entertaining, Merantau way exceeded my expectations. Iko Uwais is unbelievable, so fluid and powerful as a martial artist and also a strong actor. Fans of The Raid will also recognize Yayan Ruhian who plays Eric here, and Mad Dog in The Raid who is also fantastic. Be sure to check out the extras on Merantau for lots of behind the scenes, production journals, delete scenes, stunt work and choreography to screen fight comparison. Great film. Enjoyed every minute of it.

Switching gears completely I then took in the science fiction/drama/romance Code 46 (dir: Michael Winterbottom, UK/2004), and I'm not all that sure where I heard about this one first. It's high-concept science fiction but in a very accessible/near future-like world so I'm thinking it's one of those ones that hit festivals and rippled through all my science fiction-y film friends and I'm glad it did as it was excellent. It stars Tim Robbins and Samantha Morton and as a lot of it is about the concept, I don't actually want to say too much, but it definitely works with the power and perception of rights and freedoms as well as choice, fate and risk. There is also a beautiful and daring feel to the film, one that's hard to pin down and place but is ever present. There is also a truly worldly setting that is intriguing and curious. I'd highly recommend it to any fans of science fiction, speculative fiction and/or themes of choice, fate and destiny.

Those two where a bit of a bizarre pairing, but their common factor beyond going from unseen to seen was that they were both awesome. Now my 2012 Owned/Unseen List is up to 5/20 seen. One quarter of the way there, and not yet halfway way through the year. Not bad. But more importantly, I loved the films.

Countdown Update: Bondathon and Countdown to Prometheus

I also continued my marathons this weekend taking another chip off the Bondathon with Thunderball and continuing to Countdown to Prometheus with Aliens 3 (or CUBED as my family calls it). With the Bondathon I was starting to get a little leery only 3 films in after not liking From Russia with Love and being unimpressed with Goldfinger, but Thunderball gets everything back on track in the best way. I should admit to the fact that I love water and therefore was over the moon (or under the sea) happy to see how much of Thunderball uses water and has a substantial amount of scenes underwater. Totally cool. Plus, some great action as well in a more traditional sense so it reeled me right in and kept me glued to the screen for the entire 2+ hours. Then I headed out into space with Aliens 3 and wow, I really love this movie too. I've seen it many times, and it's extremely tense but it's so good. It's much grittier than the first two Alien films but it's also gutsy and different, both visually and story wise, and it has one heck of a different setting and cast of characters. I know it doesn't get as much love, and I'm not quite sure why although often when you go 'different' you lose some of the flock. I can imagine the fact that the majority of the cast has strong accents may be a barrier for some ears, but the acting os so good you surely get the sentiment of what these fellas are trying to convey. It does lead me over the bump of the films in the series that I like though, and sadly just leaves me with Alien Resurrection to watch, which I am not particularly fond of. Hopefully the revisit will spark something new to enjoy. As always, I attempt to remain eternally hopeful.

Remember to check out my Bondathon and Countdown to Prometheus Vlogs which are posted on Wednesdays, or listen to my reviews on Fridays on The Movie Moxie Podcast.

This week I'm hoping to get out to the extreme tourism/horror flick Chernobyl Diaries. Let's hope that happens!

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