Legends Unite

Peter Ramsey

Chris Pine
Alec Baldwin
Hugh Jackman
Isla Fisher
Jude Law

The film opens with the ‘birth’ of a mystical unseen being, named Jack Frost [Pine], who was born out of cold and darkness, pulled into the light by the moon and gifted with all the powers of winter. For centuries he has caused mild panic and mayhem with his icy touch and cavalier attitude. We are then introduced to the established lore that minors are watched over by the four guardians of childhood, who preserve innocence and wonder: Nicholas St North [Baldwin], E. Bunnymund [Jackman], Toothiana and Sanderson Mansnoozie; or as they are more commonly known Santa Claus, The Easter Bunny, The Tooth Fairy and The Sandman. In preparation for Christmas (a good eight or nine months away), North believes the evil Pitch [Law] is planning something wicked to instil fear in the hearts of children all over the world. Under the guidance of the man in the moon, North and the other four guardians enlist the help of Jack Frost; who, being no fan of rules and regulations, is reluctant to help. During his recruitment, Jack learns that children’s teeth retain memories and that in order to discover his own past, he will have to unite with the big four and combat the Boogeyman.

The film works on the very simple ensemble premise of what if X knew Y and what if they were all charged with a special purpose: to protect the children of the world. Sort of like The Seasonal Avengers. Thankfully, rather than simply adapting the origin stories in William Joyce’s books, the script is set in the present, with the current guardians firmly rooted in their respective duties and routines. In a way, this expands the universe of the setting and opens audiences up to a bigger experience than just a cheap throwaway film and a series of generic tie-in merchandise. Subsequently, Rise Of The Guardians has more heart and sincerity than most Dreamworks family releases, reminiscent of 2010’s How To Train Your Dragon. I wouldn’t say it’s nearly as good but that’s only because the story itself is a tad lacklustre. This point, however, is probably the movie’s biggest failing. As encompassing and engrossing as the characters and concepts are, the actual narrative is a little dull. Passionate, yes, entertaining, very, but still dull.

The casting is one of the film’s strong points, with knockout voice acting performances notably from Alec Baldwin and Hugh Jackman, both of whom are fed line after line. This does, however, leave a bit of a void when it comes to Chris Pine and Isla Fisher. Pine does his best and heads the project with reasonable gravitas but Fisher is simply relegated to the female element, which is a real shame. I’m not saying she’s particularly two dimensional (’cause in all honesty, they all play the same joke a little heavy handedly), she’s just disappointingly underused. Then there’s the villain. I’m not the biggest Jude Law fan but he has managed to surprise me on occasion and when he finds the right role, he really soars. Whilst being menacing and malicious, Law is fantastic, angry and terrifying, less so. Hissing with venom, Pitch is brought to life as a sinister and ancient evil but when he’s thundering with rage and spite, Law’s range falls short, almost as if he’s holding back. In earnest, the silent characters have just as much personality (if not more) than the voice cast, proving the range and skill of the animator’s contribution. Three examples of this are the fourth (arguably fifth) guardian, the sandman, who animates his thoughts into sand sculpture pictionary, the diligent but cantankerous yetis and the mischievous incompetent elves. The latter two of which should be generic minion-esque extras but are actually as captivating and developed as the main characters.

Technically, the film is relatively well crafted. The colours are rich, the detail is clear but there’s a lack of overall scale that should really solidify this feature as a bold epic. I can only attribute this to the overall style of the characters and environments, which favour a smooth, cartoonlike aesthetic. Which is unusual as Rise Of The Guardians employs the cinematographic mind of Roger Deakins as DP consultant for lighting, depth of field, colour saturation etc. Which all clearly affects the film’s final look but it never really achieves the dizzily stunning heights of the imagery produced in Rango. Alexandre Desplat’s score adds to the scale, bleeding melodic harmonies and towering symphonic engagements with grace and ease.

To sound anti-climactic, this is a very nice movie. Underneath the surface there’s a whole world of potential stories but this initial kick starter is just good. Certainly better than the majority of tat that’s released under the deceptive guise of “family entertainment” but not nearly the most challenging or impressive, which is a shame as it had the potential to be.

Release Date:
30th December 2012

The Scene To Look Out For:
The flashback which tells Jack Frost’s origin was actually rather pleasant. From the way the film opened, I pretty much expected something along those lines but that didn’t mean I wasn’t pleasantly surprised by how well it was handled. I’m trying not to just openly spoil the whole thing and give away the story but essentially, Jack relives his memories and as such realises he was once human. The majority of unimaginative writers would use this opportunity to waste a few scenes away while the lead broods on his family and searches them out or some nonsense but Jack is simply elated to remember who he was. As I said, surprisingly pleasant.

Notable Characters:
Alec Baldwin in this kind of role is delightful. Being able to run with a ridiculous accent and a spin on an iconic children’s figure really draws on Baldwin’s SNL affiliations and reminds us how insanely funny he can be – as if 30 Rock wasn’t already doing that. I’m not sure how children will view the concept of a sword-wielding Russian in a red and black coat and ushanka rather than the familiar rosy-cheeked, Coca-Cola swigging, old geezer.. but if they accept Tim Allen, they’ll accept anything.

Highlighted Quote:
“Look at the pretty teeth with blood and gum all over them”

In A Few Words:
“Uniquely drawn characters and a brilliant concept let down by meandering storytelling and commendable but less than awe inspiring visual effects”

Total Score:



Happiness Therapy

David O. Russell

Bradley Cooper
Jennifer Lawrence
Robert De Niro
Jacki Weaver

Pat Solitano [Cooper] has spent the last eight months in a psychiatric facility, after he caught his wife in the shower with a colleague and beat the man within an inch of his life. Pat was diagnosed with unchecked bipolar disorder, severe mood swings and a violent temperament. As such, he lost his job, his house and his wife, who took out a restraining order against him. The story opens as Pat is released to private custody, permitted to stay with his parents, providing he take his medication and attend regular therapy sessions. Despite his arguably ‘normal’ mannerisms, Pat lacks a filter and speaks his mind without forethought and occasionally becomes irrational and inconsolable over the smallest thing. Pat is driven to the point of obsession, believing he can win back his wife by getting into better physical shape and maintaining a positive outlook. While having dinner with friends, Pat is introduced to the recently widowed Tiffany Maxwell [Lawrence]. Tiffany’s husband was a police officer and after his death, began acting erratically owing to post traumatic stress. The two form an odd friendship and Tiffany agrees to help Pat contact his wife, if he agrees to perform in a dance contest. Meanwhile, Pat’s father football obsessed, Pat Snr [De Niro], is convinced that his team are losing because his son won’t spend time at home; a subplot which grows out of control as Pat Snr’s main source of income is through gambling on said games.

Many actors jump at the chance to portrayal a character suffering with some form of mental illness. They do this not to spread awareness or because they believe in the project but largely to ‘push themselves’ as an actor. They’re also aware (as are their agents) that playing a character of this nature is Oscar bait. So what you end up with is a fairly average script about a serious illness that’s brought to the screen by great acting – and by ‘great’ I mean big, not good. In the same way that Russell’s last film, The Fighter, wasn’t about fighting, this movie isn’t really about mental illness, it’s about familial drama and new relationships. Bradley Cooper has officially proven that not only is he able to act but he has absolutely no business in films like, The Hangover: Part II, especially when he’s capable of producing something so meaningful and impressive. With the synopsis above and the information that Cooper was playing the lead, I would instantly dismiss this film and curse the moronic casting director for hiring that grinning dick bag. But his portrayal of Pat is so subtly layered and compellingly funny, that your heart bleeds for this guy and his ridiculously futile quest. Then there’s Jennifer Lawrence, who will be heralded as one of the finest young actors working today. I knew she was good after she appeared in Winter’s Bone but this is simply breath-taking. It’s not the hissy fits, the screaming, the manipulation or the seduction, it’s the fact that you genuinely wouldn’t be able to tell that she was only twenty one when this was filmed. She clearly has a great deal of fun in the role but there’s a wealth of maturity brought forth which makes the defence mechanisms completely plausible.

I’ll admit, this film probably isn’t for everyone. Not necessarily because of the story, more the subject matter. Certain audience members simply aren’t mature enough or in the right mindset to handle a plot of this nature. They might find it amusing but in trying to replicate dramatic mood-swings, without pandering speeches by a helpful on-screen guru to take them by the hand and explain everything, people will find it disorientating and jarring. But these people are idiots. Sorry, they are. If they can’t keep up, fuck ’em. Too many movies lower the bar to cater for idiots. But I’m digressing far too much here. Let’s leave the speculation aside and talk about the actual negative points because there are a few. First of all, there’s the relatively odd, clunky title. You’d be surprised how something as simple as that will damage a film’s success but Silver Linings Playbook is dumb and does not transcend US borders; shame. Secondly, we have the horrifically bland poster campaign which, again, tells you nothing and an only stand to hurt this film’s success. Finally, there’s Danny Elfman’s phoned-in, almost dismissible score. Granted, independent films of this nature almost completely rely on musical tracks from equally independent musicians and there’s very little for a composer to actually do but I barely noticed a score, which is unfortunate.

God, I hate writing reviews for films that I really love. Give me a shitty movie and I’ll tear it to shreds, or even a movie I had hoped would be good but turned out to be disappointing or a wasted opportunity, I’ll illustrate why it failed. But a movie that is delightful and charming in every regard? There’s only so many ways you can profess your love for something without sounding saccharine and insincere. The characters here are so desperate to succeed, so desperate for you to want them to be happy that you can’t help but be drawn in. Empathy for characters is a rare thing these days – nobody wants to see others happy – and despite so many attempts, the desired effect falls flat. We don’t want our heroes and idols to succeed all the time, if would only serve as a reminder of how crappy our own lives are. So we get cynical, we sneer at forced emotional connections and actor after actor devoid of credible chemistry in ridiculous scenarios. But that’s where Silver Linings Playbook is different; it’s pure on-screen escapism but the perfect combination of phenomenal performances, masterful direction and an amazing screenplay makes it feel so very real. Literally every cliché tick box is checked and I still loved every second of this movie and THAT is a statement.

Release Date:
23rd November 2012

The Scene To Look Out For:
Desperate to catch up on the reading list that his estranged wife is teaching, Pat ploughs through Hemmingway’s A Farewell To Arms, finishing in the early hours of the morning. Turning the last page and clearly unhappy with the end, Pat looks up and exclaims, “What the fuck!?” before hurling the book through the window and proceeding to his parent’s bedroom to passionately discuss the plot. I think this was the exact moment when I realised how good this film is. Pat’s disdain for tragic endings and despair that people aren’t happy with a positive end to a story greatly upsets him and it feels almost like a precursor nod to the audience, stating if you have a problem with how this film is shaping up, ask yourself why. What’s wrong with a happy ending if it’s done well?

Notable Characters:
Without a doubt, Cooper and Lawrence are the stars and their performances are quite brilliant but to completely ignore the supporting ensemble cast would be a massive mistake. Robert De Niro is on excellent form and this is possibly his best performance since 1998. Equally, Jacki Weaver plays the every-mum beautifully with compassion and innocence. Julia Stiles, John Ortiz and Shea Whigham are on pitch form in their minor capacity but still manage to hold your attention while on-screen and Chris Tucker is actually funny. It’s worth reading that last statement again and really taking on board the weight of what I’m saying there.

Highlighted Quote:
“My problem is I tell the truth.. you’re just really mean”

In A Few Words:
“Despite the silly title, this is an incredibly funny, shocking, gut-wrenching, tense, beautiful and genuinely heart-warming offbeat romantic comedy. You owe it to yourself to watch it”

Total Score:


Cinema City Film Quiz #84

[18 November 2012]

Winning Team:
I’ve Got A Dirty Hobbit

Genre – Confessional drama

Runners Up:
Count Scooby-Dooku
Genre – Cowardly vampire-dog solves mysteries
We Don’t Have A Team Name
Genre – A last minute panic

ROUND I: Pre-Production
1. Sleepy Hollow is mostly set in which small US town? [bonus point for naming the city its also set in]
2. Which actor created the silent character, the tramp?
3. In The Shining, which two letters of ‘REDRUM’ does Danny write backward? (one point per correct answer)
R / D (arguably M and U count)
4. What is the name of Tarzan’s female companion, as seen in several adaptations?
5. What was the title of the 1992 film in which Maggie Smith played a Reverend Mother of a convent housing a witness to a murder?
6. Basil Rathbone is known for his fourteen on-screen appearances as which literary character?
7. Who directed Forrest Gump?
8. What was the title of the sequel to Interview With A Vampire?
9. In which year was Harvey released?
10. “Everybody runs” was the poster tagline for which Steven Spielberg film?

ROUND II: Filming [Christopher Lee Special]
1. Which role did Christopher Lee play in The Lord Of The Rings trilogy? Gandalf? Aragorn? Saruman?
2. Which of the Star Wars prequels did not feature Christopher Lee? The Phantom Menace? Attack Of The Clones? Revenge Of The Sith?
3. Christopher Lee appeared in which Bond film? For Your Eyes Only? Diamonds Are Forever? The Man With The Golden Gun?
4. Christopher Lee first played the role of Dracula in what year? 1948? 1952? 1958?
5. Excluding The Hobbit, documentaries and other upcoming releases, how many films has Christopher Lee appeared in? 193? 286? 419?
6. Christopher Lee played the role of Comte de Rochefort in how many films? Two? Three? Four? [bonus points for naming the films]
THREE [The Three Musketeers / The Four Musketeers / The Return Of The Musketeers]
7. Which of the following individuals has Christopher Lee not portrayed? Grigori Rasputin? Fu Manchu? Abraham Lincoln?
8. Christopher Lee played Dr. Catheter in which film? Charlie And The Chocolate Factory? Gremlins 2? Police Academy: Mission To Moscow?
9. Christopher Lee has only appeared in one Steven Spielberg film. Which was it? 1941? Close Encounters Of The Third Kind? Something Evil?
10. Christopher Lee is the only actor to play both Jesus and Lucifer. True or False?

ROUND III: Post-Production
1. Flagstone is the main town in which Sergio Leone film?
2. In 1973, Jimmy Stewart named which of his movies as his favourite?
3. In the James Bond universe, what does Q stand for?
4. Which film won best picture at the 73rd academy awards (2001)?
5. How many films have been directed by Ron Howard?
6. Seahaven is a coastal town inside a giant arcological dome in which film?
7. To Kill A Mockingbird is based on the novel of the same name by which author?
8. The following is a quote from which film, “Excuse me, I think the word you’re searching for is space ranger”?
9. Raging Bull covers the career of Jake LaMotta to and from what year? (one point per correct answer)
1941 / 1964
10. Malcolm Crowe and Cole Sear are the lead characters in which film?

ROUND IV: Promotion & Release
1. Due to stricter filming rules, each time King Kong was rereleased (five times in total) certain scenes were cut. Which of the following was not one of the cut items? Kong undresses Ann Darrow then sniffs his fingers? Kong clumsily slips about on a frozen lake? The crew of the venture are set upon by giant spiders?
2. In 1957’s Gunfight At The O.K. Corral, who played the role of Morgan Earp, Wyatt’s younger brother? James Doohan? William Shatner? DeForest Kelley?
3. Who directed 1963’s ? Federico Fellini? Michelangelo Antoninio? Bernardo Bertolucci?
4. Who played the role of Patton in the 1970 film of the same name? James Coburn? Lee Marvin? George C. Scott?
5. Audrey Hepburn won her only Oscar for her role in which film? Roman Holiday? My Fair Lady? Breakfast At Tiffany’s?
6. How many hallucinatory individuals does John Nash see in A Beautiful Mind? Two? Three? Four?
7. The original last line of Arsenic And Old Lace was the same as the play “I’m not a Brewster, I’m a bastard” but this was changed because of the Hays code. What was it changed to? I’m a nobody? I’m a son of a sea cook? I’m whoever I want to be?
8. What colour is the tree of life’s sap in The Fountain? Red? White? Amber?
9. What did Stanley Kubrick direct before Paths Of Glory? Fear And Desire? Killer’s Kiss? The Killing?
10. Michael Caine’s stand in for Get Carter (in which he played gangster, Jack Carter) was coincidentally named Jack Carter. True or False?

Screenshots: Grosse Point Blank / The Negotiator / About Schmidt
Poster: The Edge
Actor: Bette Davis


The Epic Finale That Will Live Forever

Bill Condon

Robert Pattinson
Kristen Stewart
Taylor Lautner

In the last film, Bella [Stewart] the whiney human marries Edward [Pattinson] the whiney vampire, gives birth and becomes a vampire herself – all of which I thought could have been covered in twenty minutes. Part II opens with Bella enjoying her new vampiric existence and seemingly having no problem with the transition or controlling her immense overpowering urges (if the first film is to be believed). Her newborn, the appallingly named Renesmee, being neither human nor vampire, is rapidly ageing and concerns grow as to how long she will live. Further complications are added when Bella discovers that werewolf Jacob [Lautner] has involuntarily ‘imprinted’ on her baby and has some sort of (and I quote) “wolfy claim” on her. The revelation of this is particularly amusing as Kristen Stewart doesn’t exactly do angry very well. Then out of spite or some sort of selfish impulse, Jacob exposes the crazy world of vampires and werewolves to Bella’s father, Charlie [Billy Burke], who deals with this knowledge EXTRAORDINARILY well. Everything begins to slowly settle down when one of Edward’s ‘cousins’ witnesses the young Renesmee. Thinking she is an immortal child (a child that has been bitten and turned into a vampire), Irina [Maggie Grace] informs the governing vampires, the Volturi. Seeing this act as a criminal offence, they raise an army and journey to America to destroy the Cullens and all who stand with them.

Just as a pre-review statement, rather than continually stating ‘there are spoilers embedded in this paragraph,’ we’ll just assume this whole thing is riddled with spoilers, ’cause let’s face it, you either already know what happens or you don’t care, either way, this breakdown shouldn’t bug you.

After my horribly scathing review for Breaking Dawn: Part I, it’s hard to believe this movie is brought to us by the same director. I’m not saying it’s good (because it really really isn’t) but it’s a completely acceptable film. Guillermo Navaro’s cinematography is rich and crisp and Carter Burwell’s score is an elegant mix of haunting tones and heart-pounding waves of symphonic bluster. Then there’s the third act, which was the most pleasantly surprising element of any Twilight film to date containing an astonishingly good fight sequence, befitting of any big budget film. Bold, well organised, simultaneously interesting and engrossing, it was.. it was a riot. Granted, it started very badly with a lot of familiar posturing and Michael Sheen acting like a long-haired weirdo but the actual fight itself was pretty impressive. It did get me thinking though; I don’t know how much of that sequence was present in the book, as its clever design seems wholly out of place with the rest of the franchise, even if the whole thing was nothing more than a vision of the future. Having said that, I thought Alice’s powers didn’t work when werewolves were involved (See? Despite the fact I have not enjoyed these films, I have been paying attention) so maybe it was part of the book, who knows? Finally, the closing credits were a very nice touch. A curiously tender look back at those involved with the entire saga over the last five years.. not the montage, that was wanky nonsense, the ‘Twilight’ credits, treating the whole franchise as an enclosed experience, rather than five stand alone pieces. Cinematically speaking, it was a commendable move.

Ok, enough fawning, let’s get onto the obvious; we need to talk about why this film was a fucking mess. At one point it was suggested that as this film would be viewed through Bella’s eyes as a vampire, the whole thing should be in 3D. In a way, that actually makes a lot of sense, even if 3D is bloody stupid. Thankfully, Condon would only do it if the appropriate 3D cameras were used, rather than a post production conversion and the idea was scrapped. But that still meant that they had to represent how a vampire sees the world somehow. Cue vamp vision! Bella awakens with super sensory powers and every minute detail is heightened WITH ZOOMING! Look over there at that rug THEN ZOOM IN ON THE FIBRES! What about that spider weaving a web? ZOOM IN ON THE FUCKER! GET IN CLOSE! WOOOOOW! WHAT UP, SPIDER? Then there’s the super speed running nonsense, which has never looked good; a combination of blurry backgrounds and wire work weirdness. And another deplorable sex scene! One that actually confused me more than the last film. Previously Edward tore the room to pieces WITH THE POWER OF THEIR LOVE MAKING but he was apparently holding back. So now they’re both vampires and can go at it like furious rhinos, right? Well.. no.. it’s sort of tender looking and nothing gets broken. Not that I’m saying it should, I’m just annoyed by the lack of consistency and mixed messages. And the dialogue! Oh, the dialogue is so bad! The one-liners are just as atrocious as ever, wall-to-wall agony with secondary school level elegance. There’s also a creepy CGI/animatronic baby thing but as the later digital effects weren’t hideous this time round, we’ll glaze over that as an unfortunate bump. But the biggest problem I had has been the hardest pill to swallow from the very first film. We are still expected to believe that a.) Bella is an appealing person and b.) She’s some super awesome girl – no one else thought so but deep inside, she knew she was different.. ARGHH! The same shit annoyed me in the Harry Potter and Star Wars franchises but at least they explained it with ‘didn’t know their lineage.’ The apparent message here is ‘shy girls make shit-hot vamps in terms of strength and speed but also control’ so don’t worry if people think you’re weird. Nauseating teen wank bullshit!

The fact that Lee Pace made an appearance really upset me. The way they completely wasted an incredibly talented actor highlighted the awful way the entire series treats supporting cast: here’s a name, here’s a face. Don’t be silly.. they don’t need a backstory or individual personalities! Fool! Just look at their pretty face, bug eyes (thank you contact lenses) and blank expressions! What more could you want? Bar a series of brief flashbacks in Eclipse that explored some of the Cullen’s history, everyone fades in and out of obscurity with relative ease. This time around, however, it’s not simply enough to separate the names and faces, these people also need super powers! There has been mention of certain vampires receiving dark gifts or something but I didn’t think they were super fighting powers. Alice can see the future and Edward can read minds and.. er.. well that’s it. I don’t think anyone else has a power. Good thing Carlisle knows plenty of people across the world who can assist with their X-Men like abilities. Seriously, controlling the elements? Fuck off. Also when does a shield become some memory vision projecting thing? And how does she simply evolve like that by practice alone? Or does this fall under the aforementioned ‘she is the special chosen one’ category? And how did she have that before she was a vampire anyway? And how comes the shield doesn’t work on her daughter’s memory forcing power? And.. why the fuck do vampires have magic powers!? AND WHY DO THEY SPARKLE IN FUCKING SUNLIGHT!? AND EXACTLY WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON!? *ahem* Sorry.

This whole series has been an absolute turd. From start to finish, the only highlights were Burwell’s melodic score, a mediocre third film and a big battle finale, which I’m still convinced wasn’t in the book. Breaking Dawn: Part I was fan-service filler, trying to cram in as many cast cameos as possible before bowing out, Part II wasn’t badly paced but even then, still failed to explain what makes Bella so bloody special and ended the whole thing as neatly as possible. How this series has made billions of dollars is genuinely beyond me.

Release Date:
16th November 2012

The Scene To Look Out For:
I’ve already prattled on about the battle scene, so what else can I draw your attention to. How about the scene in which several members of the cast give Kristen Stewart a breakdown of her acting in the first four films? No? Oh, the medieval flashback. Yeah, that was reasonably interesting. To emphasise the whole ‘we’ve been around forever’ bit and to explain the concept of an immortal child, we are treated to a reasonably interesting flashback which illustrates the Volturi’s merciless execution of a child and the one who spawned it. It’s fairly short but a welcome break from the same old routine.

Notable Characters:
Shit.. I’ve got nothing. The main characters are hideously annoying and highlighting the supporting cast would be pointless as they’re little more than underdeveloped cameos. Fuck it! Washington! Washington and Canada are my favourite characters.. of the entire series! The only thing that has been consistently entrancing and flawless is the wooded mountainous backdrop. British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest are pretty impressive and seeing them utilised so much is pleasing.

Highlighted Quote:
“Ok, I got it. Move around, blink, slouch”

In A Few Words:
“The Twilight saga finally takes a giant step to being something worth watching but it’s a moot point as this is the last film in the series. Too little, too late”

Total Score:



Join Us

Paul Thomas Anderson

Joaquin Phoenix
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Amy Adams

The film opens during the closing weeks of World War II. Freddie Quell [Phoenix] is an alcoholic and sexually obsessed veteran, suffering from post traumatic stress. Adjusting to civilian life proves difficult with Quell unable to maintain employment or social relationships owing to his excessive drinking and sex-obsessed manner. Furthermore, he brews his own alcoholic concoctions consisting largely of various chemicals. In a drunken stupor, Quell stows away on the boat of Lancaster Dodd [Hoffman], an author, doctor, physicist and the leader of a philosophical/pseudo-religious movement called The Cause. Freddie is ’employed’ by Dodd, who sees something in him, convinced he knows him from a past life. As Quell journeys with Dodd, he learns about The Cause and pledges his loyalty to Dodd. Unfortunately, the only way Quell can really manifest this is by producing powerful intoxicants and learning about the strange interview-based techniques of ‘the processing’. Despite his best efforts, Quell continually slips back into his old habits and cannot fully grasp what Dodd is preaching but he finds it comforting. Other members of The Cause, namely Dodd’s wife, Peggy [Adams], find Freddie unpleasant and fail to understand Lancaster’s attachment to him.

First and foremost, this is not a story about L. Ron Hubbard or Scientology. Having said that, the similarities make it incredibly hard not to draw comparisons. What Anderson has done, is to take the base aspects of a newly formed quasi-religious movement and immerse a very impressionable, mentally unstable individual deep in that environment. It has been noted that during times of war people pray with excessive desperation to the gods they know; after wars, new gods appear. With so many veterans developing post traumatic stress after World War II (and WWI but people didn’t really know what to call it) a whole generation of young men and women sought out new guidance and leadership, new servitude from a more physical manifestation of religion; which saw the rise of cult, especially in the US.

At the centre of this release are the immensely powerful performances, not only from the two leads but also from Amy Adams – who will no doubt be overlooked by several critics and observers. Hoffman plays Dodd with a curiously enigmatic and completely affable side that really draws you in. Despite all the nonsense and self-important gibberish he’s spouting, you can’t help but listen to every single word. This, of course, makes it all the more shocking when he makes his swift transition to disorientated and hostile when questioned by various detractors and government officials. Phoenix, on the other hand, plays Freddie in a horrifically memorable manner. Crippling awkward and absolutely impossible to predict, he concocts a fascinating study but I’ve expanded on Phoenix’s performance below. The movie is also gloriously shot and very Kubrickian in its style, much more so than anything Anderson has produced to date. Whether this is to do with the choice to film in 60mm or his partnership with Mihai Malaimare, I couldn’t say. A certain contributory factor that staples this style is Jonny Greenwood’s score. Having already produced blisteringly good musical accompaniment for There Will Be Blood, Greenwood’s work here strides into the foreground and proclaims itself of equal importance to any of the main cast and deservedly so.

Personally, the reason I enjoyed The Master so much, was the layered symbology. Freddie’s behaviour and interaction with Dodd creates a beautifully impressive analysis of an ape-like man’s reverence and fervent devotion to what he believes is a divine figure; acting out in the only way he knows how, frequently disappointing his ‘master’ but always falling back on his primal ways. And following his incapacity to understand what has transpired, he attempts to emulate and preach what he’s experienced with a very limited understanding of the reason behind it. Essentially, this film feels like a relationship between man and God, with neither coming out positively. God (Dodd) takes great pity on his favoured creation but also revels in his actions, hoping he can lift himself up and become something greater. Upon failing him, time and again, Dodd lashes out and belittles Quell. And the cycle repeats. Then we have Freddie’s proficiency with science (in his distilling alcohol with varied results) which intrigues Dodd but after it threatens his status, he tries to turn Freddie away from it. There’s also the possibility that this film is an analysis of id, ego and super-ego, represented by the central trinity and the journeys out to sea. This implies that Dodd is in fact ego, the organised, realistic part of one’s psyche, his wife is the critical and influential super-ego and Freddie is the psyche’s animalistic instinctive side. All of whom have difficult relationships and in the end the ego and super-ego venture out to sea and the id is left, comfortably stranded on the beach, finally rejected.

Does all of this make the film good? Partly. As a subjective artistic analysis, it’s profoundly interesting but as a structured narrative piece, it’s bloody hard work. But in theory, people should almost be expecting that. Anderson’s films are incredibly esoteric, focusing more on human interaction, behaviour and drives, as opposed to simple narrative devices. Subsequently, they have a tendency to abruptly finish, leaving the audience a little bewildered. Especially if they were led to believe this would be a simple expose on Scientology – which it blatantly isn’t. For Anderson fans, this will be another fine addition to his repertoire, for film connoisseurs, this will be a talking point of great debate but for the average cinemagoer, this will be a cryptic letdown.

Release Date:
16th November 2012

The Scene To Look Out For:
During Freddie’s first processing interviews, he giggles, answers flippantly and passes wind but somehow enjoys the experience of being analysed, being given the opportunity to candidly reveal and retread his past. Dodd’s droning questions, repetition and intensity continue and Quell finds himself desperate to impress and succeed. Revealing unpleasant but honest memories, thoughts and opinions, Quell is able to reach a thoroughly cathartic state and in doing so, pledges fealty to Dodd and his methods. The whole scene is captivating from start to end; a real credit and example of these stellar performances.

Notable Characters:
Freddie Quell is, for lack of a phrase, terrifyingly believable; a truly haunting figure, rarely seen on-screen. As an imperfect being, seeking guidance from an equally imperfect being he is an ugly, skinny, misshapen shadow darkly reflecting humanity’s worst elements. His quirks, traits, posture, voice; everything is layered so beautifully to create a wholly credible damaged individual. As this is his first real performance since the deceptive I’m Still Here, it’s hardly a surprise Phoenix has immersed himself in such an overtly ‘acting’ role but, it has to be said, he does it very well.

Highlighted Quote:
“What a horrible young man you are. This is acting like an animal.. a dirty animal that eats its own faeces when hungry”

In A Few Words:
“Mr. Anderson produces a very singular type of film and The Master is firmly rooted in his patented style. As brilliant as the performances and analytical elements are, the narrative is lacking and the movie seriously suffers because of it”

Total Score:


Cinema City Film Quiz #83

[04 November 2012]

Winning Team:
The Motorcycle Princess Diaries

Genre – Anne Hathaway as Fidel Castro, who discovers he’s the sole heir to a European country and has to receive etiquette lessons from Julie Andrews

Runners Up:
Better Off Red
Genre – Comedy horror set in communist Russia
Full Marx
Genre – Romantic comedy
When You Wish Upon A Death Star
Genre – A stormtrooper daydream
The Scatmen Brothers
Genre – Horror

ROUND I: Pre-Production
1. What type of animal was Simba in The Lion King?
2. What colour was the shark in Jaws?
3. How many points are there on Jack Sparrow’s hat, in the Pirates Of The Caribbean series?
4. How many James Bond films has Daniel Craig appeared in to date?
5. Who was the lead actor in The Last Of The Mohicans?
6. Nightwatch and its sequel Day Watch were filmed in which country?
7. Which came first, the Men In Black TV series, film or comic book?
8. Disney’s Peter Pan was released in which year?
9. Blousey Brown, Fat Sam, Tallulah and Dandy Dan are characters in which 1976 musical?
10. What was the title to the sequel of 1987’s Stakeout?

ROUND II: Filming [Communists In Film Special]
1. The Killing Fields is set in which country? China? Laos? Cambodia?
2. Which of the following is not a subtitle to Steven Soderbergh’s two part drama about Che Guevara? Revolutionary? Guerrilla? The Argentine?
3. Which actress played the eponymous role of Frida Kahlo in 2002? Salma Hayek? Penelope Cruz? Sofia Vergara?
4. What does JSA stand for in Park Chan-wook’s film of the same name? Justice Strike Airbase? Joint Security Area? Judicially Sanctioned Army?
5. What colour is the ink that Dreyman uses to type up his article on suicide rates in East Germany, in The Lives Of Others? Red? Blue? Green?
6. Of Sergei Eisenstein’s silent communist trilogy, which was the first to be released? October? Battleship Potemkin? Strike?
7. Which of the following did not appear in Good Night, And Good Luck? Jeff Daniels? Robert Downey Jnr? Chris Cooper?
8. What is the item that Lee Jin-seok finds among his brother’s possessions that causes him to break down at the end of Taegukgi (Brotherhood)? Silver Pen? Gold Watch? Wooden Sword?
9. The following is the poster tagline for which film: “In our time no foreign army has ever occupied American soil.. until now”? Silent Night? Hamburger Hill? Red Dawn?
10. Robin Williams ad-libbed all his broadcasts in Good Morning, Vietnam. True or False?

ROUND III: Post-Production
1. How many feature films has Roman Polanski directed to date?
2. What two nicknames does Ned Ryerson give to Phil to identify himself in Groundhog Day? (one point per correct answer)
3. 1997’s The Brave was which actor’s directorial debut?
4. How many films feature both Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller?
5. Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks have appeared on screen together in three films. Name them. (one point per correct answer)
6. A toy version of the Miyazaki character Totoro cameos in which Toy Story film?
7. Of the 14 crewmen of the two shuttles in Armageddon, how many live to see the end of the film?
8. Who directed The Evil Dead trilogy?
9. Director Doug Liman approached Russell Crowe and Sylvester Stallone before eventually casting Matt Damon in which film?
10. What did Tim Burton direct before Charlie And The Chocolate Factory and after Planet Of The Apes?

ROUND IV: Promotion & Release
1. Who plays the leading lady in Dial M For Murder? Vera Miles? Grace Kelly? Tippi Hedren?
2. Which of the following is not one of the two Gecko brothers in From Dusk Till Dawn? Seth? Richie? Scott?
3. What is the name of the man Tony kills at the start of Scarface? Emilio Rebenga? Ernesto Gonzalez? Esteban Huerta?
4. What is the running time for Singin’ In The Rain? 96 minutes? 103 minutes? 115 minutes?
5. Which actress played the lead role in 1935’s Annie Oakley? Barbara Stanwyck? Jean Harlow? Olivia de Havilland?
6. What is the acronym for the leaked memo highlighting the pros and cons of going to war in In The Loop? PIP PWIP? PWIP PWIP? PWIP PIP?
7. What is the subtitle to The Human Centipede? Flesh And Fantasy? First Sequence? Full Flesh Thorax?
8. Which of the following Stephen King novels was not adapted into a movie by Rob Reiner? Stand By Me? Dreamcatcher? Misery?
9. During the closing shots of Se7en, Detective Somerset quotes which Ernest Hemingway novel? The Old Man And The Sea? A Farewell To Arms? For Whom The Bell Tolls? (“The world is a fine place and worth fighting for”)
10. Despite the title, there are no funerals in Four Weddings And A Funeral. True or False?

Screenshots: Escape From New York / Tomorrow Never Dies / Anchorman
Poster: The Princess Bride
Actor: Alec Guinness