Showing posts with label paul giamatti. Show all posts
Showing posts with label paul giamatti. Show all posts

22 November 2013

Review - Parkland

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Stars: Zac Efron, Billy Bob Thornton, Paul Giamatti, Tom Welling, Marcia Gay Harden
Director: Peter Landesman
Release: 22nd of November 2013
Rating:  15 (UK)

Fifty years to the day that US President John F. Kennedy was shot, cinematic recreation of these events, Parkland, hits UK cinemas. There are little words to describe Peter Landesman's film other than a vapid, tasteless attraction that is neither compelling or insightful.

This ensemble piece follows the lives of several people who were dragged into the chaotic events spurred on by the assassination of John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas. Among those that Parkland follows are a young doctor (Zac Efron), a local man who catches the assassination on film - Abraham Zapruder (Paul Giamatti), and Robert Oswald (James Badge Dale), the brother of assassin Lee Harvey Oswald.

Shot in a manner that is so bitty and frantic, viewers are unlikely to be compelled or emotionally connect with any of the stories in Parkland. Characters and rushed on-and-off the screen like show ponies with far too much going on to grasp any cohesive human element of the story. The talented cast is squandered on undefined roles, characters presented with little to depth that exceeds the surface-level value of their costumes.  Despite the fast-paced chaos unfolding on screen, Landesman's film is remarkably dull and unfocused with a runtime that feels double its stated ninety minutes.

Parkand also feels like a rather tasteless affair, packed with unintentional laughs and toe-curling moments of crass details. Among these are Zac Efron's young doc pounding on Kennedy's bloody chest and yelling "No! Leave them on," when a nurse attempts to remove his boxers (a misguided attempt to give the President some dignity, which Landesman and co. had long since destroyed). There is also a blood-drenched Jackie Kennedy clutching a piece of 35th President's brain-matter, and Jackie Weaver's camped-up comic-relief Mrs. Oswald barking in her Southern drawl that her kill-ah son is an und-a-cova spy.   There are plenty of occasions when you may question if John Waters and Divine could even have produced a picture of such bad taste.

Why was a film like Parkland was needed? The events of Kennedy's assassination are heavily-documented in documentary and feature-film form. Not to mention the thousands of magazine articles and online features that have appeared and fed into the assassination and its myths. This is not going to prove insightful to the casual viewer, the history buff, or the conspiracy theorist.

Parkland squanders its impressive cast in this unfocused, tasteless, and boring recreation. With little depth and insight, Parkland can only be described as a mess.


Andrew McArthur

18 March 2013

GFF 2013: John Dies at the End Review

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When I hear cult-auteur Don Coscarelli is working on a new film I get pretty excited, I read a synopsis and my excitement grows, Angus Scrimm (the Tall Man!) signs on for a cameo and I find out the film is based on a book reputed to be “unfilmable”. I swoon in my soul.

What you’ll notice first is that Coscarelli hasn’t sabotaged his aesthetic in taking his closest step into the main stream; the general look of the film and its cast, which includes the fantastic Paul Giamatti, may scare away some seasoned fans of that garage-feel of his early films. Don’t fret however, there’s plenty of his usual nonsense crammed in John Dies at the End to make up for that.

If there was a genre called fucking with the future, or unravelling the universe, then John Dies would definitely be a perfect example; it aint time travel and it aint really anything else. You just have to see it and try to let it happen. Essentially it’s the story of a new street drug that pushes the boundaries of human physics, and how two friends are dragged into a mess of alien invasion through the drug, but it’s so much more. It’s like a more elaborate Phantasm on acid.

John Dies flaunts Coscarelli’s signature black humour (see Bubba ho-Tep), those tooling-up sequences he deploys in all his films, a general feel of badass at more than a few points, and enough weird to do you the year. However, the film frequently threatens to be too bizarre for its own good and that will distance some viewers, at points it stretches patience especially in the last twenty minutes where any idea of acceptable narrative seems to boil off and leave a multi-coloured, fantastical, and wholly silly residue. If you consider this amidst the context then sure it pulls off. Time travel, supernatural encounters, aliens, and drugs, it’s difficult to criticise a film for being silly when there’s so much going on.

Chase Williamson and Rob Mayes hold their own throughout as Dave and John respectively, a pair of Coscarelli heroes if ever there was. Giamatti is great, as a wry and doubtful journalist, Doug Jones (he plays all your nightmares in del Toro films) pops up as an alien, and Clancy Brown plays an egocentric exorcist. Special mention goes to Glynn Turman as the cynical old-school detective caught up in something he doesn’t understand. Three guesses as to who I sympathise with most.

Earlier I mentioned context: that’s an important word when you consider Coscarelli’s CV. Don’t question his world too deeply, you won’t get answers, don’t pull a ridiculous face when things get crazy, because I promise it will get weirder. Sit back and watch, enjoy, savour every stupid moment courtesy of a sharp script and a director obviously having the time of his life.

The embodiment of the “Marmite Film”, John Dies at the End will polarise audiences and perhaps even Coscarelli fans. It is entirely unforgiving in its embracement of the bizarre, silly at times, hilarious at others, conceptually intriguing, and above all entertaining. Miss it if you dare.

Scott Clark


Rating: 18
Release Date: 22nd March 2013 (UK)
Directed By

6 November 2012

Cosmopolis DVD Review

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There’s some kind of law about using the word existential when reviewing a David Cronenberg movie, you sort of have to really. So let’s get that out the way early on. What we’re dealing with here are some very grand themes including sex, death, capitalism, emotional dysfunction and detachment.

Based on the 2003 Don DeLillo novel, Cosmopolis sees Eric Packer moving through streets of an unstable Manhattan, shielded inside his cork lined limo for a haircut he’s convinced he needs. All the while his downfall is being engineered behind the scenes by the very capitalist system he helped to create? Or is it?

The film itself has a futuristic retro feel to it; the towering glass and chrome of Manhattan take on a menacing look as Packer slides through the streets in the silent cocoon of his soundproofed limo.

Better known for his visceral horror, Cronenberg here manages to invoke a kind of creeping dread that permeates the film. The only difference this time is that the danger is intangible, created by the likes of Packer those like him who have been responsible for the financial crash of the capitalist system. They are the de facto rulers of the world, as they control the data on which capitalism rests. Conversely, the world outside of his window erupts into violent riots by the disenfranchised masses her helped create. It’s a startling juxtaposition.

Pattinson’s performance is superb. His bleak detachment from reality is icy cold yet he manages to get the nuances just right. He could so easily have overdone this character and descended into a caricature of manic ticks and gestures. There’s also a long list of cameos from some of the greats as they enter and exit Packer’s life, leaving behind them some exposition as they go.

In summary, Cosmopolis is an extremely cerebral film; heavy on the dialogue with a gnawing sense of dread you can’t quite put your finger on. It often treads a fine line between film as social commentary and entertainment but for the most part doesn’t take itself too seriously.

This is Cronenberg back to his best.

Vikki Mysercough


DVD/BD Release Date: 12 November 2012 (UK)
Directed By:David Cronenberg
Cast: Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, Sarah Gadon, Paul Giamatti, Kevin Durand
Buy Cosmopolis:Blu-ray/DVD