Cinema City Film Quiz #113

[19 January 2014]

Winning Team:
Unfunny Face

Genre – Not starring Audrey Hepburn or Fred Astaire

Runners Up:
Stranger Than The Truman King
Genre – Oscar bait
We Need To Talk About Flubber
Genre – A serious Flubber sequel
Angels With Dirty Jokes
Genre – Café noir
We Don’t Give A Flying F-
Genre – Documentary about avian sanctuary clipping their resident flamingo’s wings
12 Years A Slave 4 U
Genre – Britney Spears tries to one-up Miley Cyrus by blacking-up and dancing in chains

ROUND I: Pre-Production
1. What is Bridget’s surname in Bridget Jones’ Diary?
2. What kind of stuffed animal is Ted in the film of the same name?
3. Which two actors played the title roles of Tango and Cash respectively? (one point per correct answer)
4. What was the title of Stanley Kubrick’s film about the Vietnam war?
5. How does Leonard document his investigation of his wife’s killer in Memento?
6. Klaatu is the lead character of which film?
7. Complete the following title: Shakespeare In.
8. Martin Scorsese’s remake of Cape Fear was released how many years after J. Lee Thompson’s original?
29 (1962 – 1991)
9. HR Giger was responsible for the design of which science fiction franchise?
ALIEN (point for Species)
10. Which film starred Kevin Spacey, Benicio Del Toro, Stephen Baldwin and Gabriel Byrne?

ROUND II: Filming [Comedic actors in serious roles]
1. Who played the lead role in Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind? Will Smith? Jim Carrey? Matt Damon?
2. Who directed Requiem For A Dream? Jim Jarmusch? David Lynch? Darren Aronofsky?
3. Philadelphia was released in which year? 1992? 1993? 1994?
4. Which of the following does not feature Robin Williams playing a character with the surname Parrish? Jumanji? One Hour Photo? Death To Smoochy?
5. How many sisters does Barry Egan have in Punch-Drunk Love? 7? 8? 9?
6. The penitentiary in The Green Mile shares its name with the title of a Nicole Kidman film. Which one? Cold Mountain? Stoker? Dogville?
7. Which comedic actor plays a producer of violent action films in the 1991 film, Grand Canyon? Steve Martin? Billy Crystal? Kevin Kline?
8. The following quote is from which Paul Newman film, “A 25% slice of something is better than a 100% slice of nothing”? Cool Hand Luke? Road To Perdition? The Hustler?
9. What item of clothing does Celie sell in The Colour Purple? Shirts? Shoes? Trousers?
10. Gene Wilder played a man serving a prison sentence for the murder of children in 1972’s The Scarecrow. True or False?

ROUND III: Post-Production
1. Excluding the two ships, how many locations are used in Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides?
THREE (Cadiz, London, Whitecap Bay)
2. What was the top grossing film of 1985?
3. The following quote is from which film “Rolls Royce Phantom Two. 4.3 litre, 30 horsepower, six cylinder engine with Stromberg downdraft carburettor. Can go from zero to100 kilometres an hour in 12.5 seconds. And I even like the colour”?
4. Gone With The Wind is presented in how many parts?
5. How many languages does Hans Landa speak in Inglourious Basterds?
FOUR (German, French, English, Italian)
6. The following is the poster tagline for which film, “Man has made his match, now it’s his problem”?
7. To Kill A Mockingbird is set in which decade?
8. What is E.T.’s final line before departing Earth?
9. Of the 28 Godzilla movies produced by Toho Studios, where does Godzilla Vs. SpaceGodzilla appear in the running order?
10. In Fever Pitch, Colin Firth’s character supports which team?

ROUND IV: Promotion & Release
1. What is Mario’s surname in the 1993 film Super Mario Bros. ? Scapelli? Russo? Mario?
2. What did Paul Thomas Anderson direct in 1999? Magnolia? Punch-Drunk Love? Boogie Nights?
3. Which of the following did not feature Marilyn Monroe? The Asphalt Jungle? All About Eve? Hot Blood?
4. The following is a plot synopsis for which Akira Kurosawa film: Two greedy peasants escort a man and a woman through feudal Japan, not realising they are a famous general and a princess? Rashomon? The Hidden Fortress? High And Low?
5. What is the cause of Mr. Dawes’ death at the end of Mary Poppins? A headline? A joke? Tuppence?
6. Which of the following is not a silent film? Sunrise: A Song Of Two Humans? M? The Golem?
7. What was the name of Jabba the Hutt’s little monkey lizard pet, in Star Wars: Return Of The Jedi? Max Rebo? Cad Bane? Salacious Crumb?
8. James Mangold’s 3:10 To Yuma is a remake of which film? High Noon? Gunsmoke? 3:10 To Yuma?
3:10 TO YUMA
9. What is the name of The Shawshank Redemption character who is one of the oldest convicts who is finally released, only to hang himself? Brooks Hatlen? Byron Hadley? Samuel Norton?
10. The actor who played Boy George in The Wedding Singer, is the same actor who played the man in the bathroom who attempts to kill Vincent and Jules in Pulp Fiction. True or False?
TRUE (Alexis Arquette)

Screenshots: The Hunt For Red October / Glengarry Glen Ross / Where Eagles Dare
Poster: Ben Hurr
Actor: Mark Strong


Money, Money, Money

Martin Scorsese

Leonardo DiCaprio
Jonah Hill
Margot Robbie
Kyle Chandler

Everyone talks about the ‘excess of the eighties’ and the drug-addled antics of powerful, money-hungry yuppies (see pretty much everything written by Bret Easton Ellis) but up until recently, audiences wouldn’t have been desensitised enough to actually see that kind of stuff on film. Point in case, if I pitched a film ten years ago which introduces the lead character blowing cocaine through a hollow biro tube into a hooker’s arsehole, I would be hauled out of the office. But with names like Scorsese, DiCaprio and Winter, who would dare oppose it? During a lunch meeting with his first boss, Jordan Belfort [DiCaprio] is told that in order to survive life as a stock broker on Wall Street, he must adopt the lifestyle. Sex, drugs, alcohol, masturbating, manipulation and most importantly, a clear conscience. Taking this to heart, Jordan starts his own company and builds his way from selling penny stocks to poor chumps to selling worthless stocks to the richest one percent of the population. In almost no time, Belfort creates an empire worth millions of dollars in practically non-existent funds. Of course, this attracts the attention of the FBI and before long Belfort’s success and extremely extravagant lifestyle is meticulously studied under a microscope.

This isn’t a documentary or a perfectly faithful rendition of Belfort’s life, it’s Terence Winter’s interpretation of it. Winter is like the Mamet for this generation, combining foul language, nudity, violence and shock value to produce a very interesting character study. Then we have Martin Scorsese, a true legend in his own right; if you look back at the diversity and success of his last few projects, his status of iconic filmmaker is more than apparent. And unlike greats such as De Palma, Coppola, Spielberg etc, Scorsese seems to be going from strength-to-strength. Having said that, the man has his flaws; always has, always will. Especially when it comes to editing. Favouring specific shots and deliveries over actual continuity, actors will literally leap around the set from shot-to-shot. A good example would be during one of the many sex scenes which clearly shows DiCaprio naked from the waist down, only to be completely clothed in the very next shot. It’s breathtakingly brazen and if anyone else were guilty of it, you’d shout amateur at the top of your lungs. But with the stories and performances this strong, nobody seems to notice or care. There’s also the running time of the average Winter/Scorsese film, which, summed up in a word or two, is pretty epic. Three hours isn’t exactly Gone With The Wind but because of the pacing, energetic flamboyance, ridiculous scenarios and continually maintained highs, you feel absolutely every minute of the running time. This movie is a fucking marathon for the senses.

Frustratingly, a story which sets out to satirise and analyse how greedy douchebags took advantage of the rich and the dumb, actually ends up glamorising them just a little too much. Through the dealings of brokers and bankers, the global economy shat all over itself and rather than hating and pitying these bastards, we find ourselves sold on their bullshit (again), muttering “Wow, he got away with it in the end, I wish I was like that guy. He had it all.” But this is the problem with a really good performance in the hands of a really good production team. You end up taking a controversial subject or individual and warping them into something interesting, or worse, appealing. One of the causes of this could be that the comedy elements outweigh the dramatic. Ultimately, that’s not a bad thing, if you present it too seriously you end up with Wall Street or Margin Call and audiences feel like they’re being lectured about something they don’t understand and had no part in but know they should feel shitty about it.. like a child at a funeral. What this film lacked was the other side of the fence. We witness and explore the entrepreneurs running the show but there’s no face of the common man because much like Goodfellas, the common man trying to make an honest living is a schmuck. Technically, this makes the film weaker but I’ll go into further detail about perception of events in my highlighted scene.

I love DiCaprio. I think the man is one of the finest living actors and every year he’s overlooked by various award bodies because of his Titanic/Romeo mainstream origins and it thoroughly pisses me off. So each year he seems to up his game in terms of acting quantity. Each performance is more elaborate, more over the top and every single one is exceptional. But he’s going to reach a point of explosion soon. There are only so many places you can go. From paranoid detective, to dream thief, to cross-dressing law enforcer, to racist slave-owner, to 20’s bootlegger socialite leading us finally to the most over-the-top performance of the year. In the hands of a lesser actor, this would be a three hour shitfest but DiCaprio makes it not only watchable but overwhelmingly compelling. But I really miss the subtle performances, one without tonnes of screaming and punching and midget hurling and boat sinking, so give him his damned Oscar so we can get him back into more interesting subdued roles. Jonah Hill always surprises me. From Knocked Up onward, I’ve enjoyed his comedic style but watching him in more dramatic fare is even more rewarding. Here he plays Belfort’s second-in-command, Donnie Azoff, an eccentric individual with the same pursuits, ambition and goals as Belfort but less of the intelligence and restraint. Jordan’s second wife, Naomi Lapaglia, is played by Margot Robbie. Now, I’ll openly admit, I made an immediate judgement about the 23 year old Australian actress and assumed she was simply there to look pretty and act awfully – like a Michael Bay leading lady. This was a really stupid mistake. Robbie plays her role amazingly well – it’s not exactly layered and her obliviousness to Belfort’s actions makes her appear stupid but I find her just as interesting as any of the leading females in Winter’s other works. The supporting cast are equally impressive (part of being a talented director, you attract an extremely talented cast), giving varied and hilarious renditions of stock broker caricatures.

Cinema is a very subjective creature. Each release should be graded on its own merit but also when held in contrast to films of a similar nature. For example, if I award a good action film nine out of ten, then a good drama nine out of ten, the two should not be drawn into comparison based on their score. I only mention this as the biggest complaint from the public seems to be that this film is bad because they don’t like the themes the movie explores. Which is like saying Schindler’s List is a bad movie because it made you feel sad. For all its revelry in debauchery and excess, The Wolf Of Wall Street is a finely crafted movie with a glorious set of lead performances and an outrageous narrative; an intensely clever comedy that depicts the individuals we put in charge of our money as potential Jackass hosts who have never experienced real consequence or punishment.

Release Date:
17th January 2014

The Scene To Look Out For:
After a long bout of sobriety, Belfort finally snaps when learning that his wife wants a divorce and will fight for custody of her children. Of the many dramatic scenes in this movie, this one stands out as the most serious. Watching Belfort with a candle up his arse, crashing a yacht or dragging his almost paralytic body down a flight of brick stairs is amusing but when he starts gut-punching his wife, stabbing drug-filled furniture and driving a car (containing his young daughter in the front seat) into a brick wall, you start to get a glimpse into the reality of his actions. The entire movie is dedicated to how Belfort perceives both the world and himself in it but this one standout moment really highlights the kind of character he actually is to the sober populace.

Notable Characters:
Rob Reiner hasn’t really featured in a film for maybe a decade. And in someone’s absence, you forget how good they are. Chevy Chase, Alec Baldwin, Robin Williams; a few years of no-shows or duds and you write them off, only to return in full-form. Reiner is very entertaining as Jordan’s foul mouth, short temper and rather unscrupulous father and while he only has a few scenes, each is surprisingly engrossing – his introduction while watching an episode of The Equaliser is particularly amusing.

Highlighted Quote:
“Well, basically, you know, if the kid was retarded I would drive it up to the country and just like, you know, open the door and say you’re free now. You know? Like run free, you know? …I’m just fucking with you, man”

In A Few Words:
“A very bold portrayal of the levels humanity will sink to when presented with opportunity, success, money and power”

Total Score:



The Extraordinary True Story Of Solomon Northup

Steve McQueen

Chiwetel Ejiofor
Lupita Nyong’o
Michael Fassbender

12 Years A Slave is the story of a free black musician living and working in New York in the early 1840’s, when he is tricked and sold into slavery by two duplicitous white men. So begins Solomon’s [Ejiofor] descent into the southern states of America and his mistreatment at the hands of his newly appointed masters. Witnessing the ease at which black men and women are tortured and killed for speaking out of turn, Solomon does what he must to survive, whilst barely clinging to hope of one day re-establishing his status as a free citizen.

A great deal will be discussed in the media as to the legitimacy and accuracy of this film’s narrative. A moot point if you ask me. Whether every detail of this story is historically correct or whether it was abolitionist propaganda is irrelevant. What is depicted in this film happens to thousands of enslaved peoples and has happened for thousands of years all over the globe. By comparison to things like Django Unchained (admittedly a very lavish revenge fantasy piece) the depictions of slavery in this film are actually quite tame. Sure, we have the occasional horrific whipping visuals, the commonplace lynchings or the surprising use of close-ups rather than portrayed eroticism during the rape scenes but it’s all presented as a matter-of-fact daily occurrence for these captive individuals, rather than a sporadic shock flare.

There aren’t a great many negative points to critique but they affect the final output so heavily that they should be addressed first. McQueen has only been in the public eye for the last few years and even then, only to those who have really been looking. Both Hunger and Shame are exceptional examples of masterful filmmaking from a director with a very keen eye and patient temperament. It is evident, however, that a lot of McQueen’s characteristic traits are absent or thoroughly subdued in this release, giving us Mainstream McQueen. Nowhere is this more prevalent than in the film’s opening which combines long, uncut takes and sporadic chronological jumps with interesting camera angles, subtle motion and absent dialogue – all of which leaves the first five minutes feeling rather disjointed. Personally, I believe audiences should be subjected to different types of filmmaking styles, rather than the simple paint-by-numbers execution they’re familiar and comfortable with but by meeting the studios/investors/potential audiences half way, it isolates the mainstream and frustrates the fringe. There’s also an underlying sense of self-righteousness and disregard that made the lead just a tad dislikeable at times. I know, an appalling comment to make, how dare I? But I’m simply highlighting that the story is so very much about Solomon’s plight, about his injustice as a free man. This is true, of course but it’s presented as if Solomon doesn’t believe himself to be the same as the slaves he is retained with (that’s a statement about equality as a species, I’m not saying he deserves to be enslaved). He fluctuates between swellings of superiority and pity to despair and wallowing. Not the most popular observation, I appreciate that but there is a certain callousness that is never addressed in Solomon, who is always trying to free himself, rather than his people. Sure, the end title cards talk about his work after his release (which is all good). I don’t know, maybe it makes him more human in that regard but the film doesn’t allow the audience the closure to see him helping his fellow man; which is a pity.

At first I believed the score to be both exquisitely terrifying and primal but during the softer moments of reflection, I furrowed my brow and was annoyed that the melodic tones were reminiscent of one of the themes from Inception; believing that this up-and-coming young musician had simply drawn on something familiar and was providing a sound that would sell well. Who was this defamer who could produce such powerful harmonies yet resorted to recycling chunks of orchestral lilts that we, as audience members, had already experienced in a different form? Hans bloody Zimmer? Well this changes the matter entirely. I still believe the roaring sections do exactly as intended but knowing the composer was Hans Zimmer leaves the entire effort feeling a little phoned in. Last year, Zimmer produced the best musical accompaniment of 2013 for Man Of Steel and this is the best he has to offer? Sure, it’s brilliant but I know he’s capable of better. Especially when he’s meant to be complimenting some of the finest performances of the year.

With films of this nature, we tend to focus on the wrong individual. So perfect and plausible is the central character’s suffering that sometimes we turn to the instigators of their affliction and commend them for delving to such a harrowing and horrid place, for reproducing such a lurid example of humanity’s disdain for itself. Which leads me to two specific points regarding the film’s performances. Firstly, we have to address the roles of Solomon [Ejiofor], the hardworking but brutally treated slave Patsey [Nyong’o] and the twisted malicious slave-owner Edwin Epps [Fassbender]. All three live and breathe their respective portrayed existences to the degree that you easily believe that there is no end to the film, no conclusion to the suffering, as movies bound by running time so often rush us to. Ejiofor’s inability to trust anyone or reach out to his fellow man for compassion is heart-wrenching and immediately rings out to audiences as one of the worst imaginable scenarios to be subjected to. Nyong’o working herself ragged day-in, day-out, only to be victimised by the lady of the house out of jealousy and spite is crippling to watch. And finally Fassbender’s vile, maniacal drunken antics are so loathsome but at the same time, so horribly real that we can’t help but despair for everyone around him. And that’s pretty much where my praise for the cast ends I’m afraid; after that we get into a very difficult type-casting area. Now, don’t get me wrong, the performances are brutal and without exception but that doesn’t mean they’re not obvious. Racist, bigoted southerners needed? Let’s get Paul Dano, Garret Dillahunt, Sarah Paulson and Paul Giamatti can be scary, let’s get him too. Oh and we’re legally obliged to include Alfre Woodard so let’s give her a really interesting character and not explore it. What about sympathetic southerners? Not all the white guys are evil. Hmm.. ok, fling in Benedict Cumberbatch, everyone loves him, people with sympathise him even if he is a slave owner. Which leads audiences world over to mutter “Oh look, there’s Benedict, can’t be all that bad, he’s Sherlock Holmes.” And don’t get me started on Brad Pitt, I’ll go into more depth about his character later. Again, I’m not irked by the performances, more the simplicity and lack of imagination in their casting. The only exception to the rule was Michael Kenneth Williams but that’s far too much of a spoiler to discuss.

Overall 12 Years A Slave is a very emotional and gripping character study told in a fairly conventional manner. There isn’t a great deal of new information presented about this particular time in history but that in no way detracts from its importance as a story. Does it deserve media accolades, praise and attention? Of course it does, the nature of the issue in question is vitally important and its presentation is one of an extremely high standard. I’m just a little disappointed by what could be considered avoidable oversights. In comparison, I had similar problems with No Country For Old Men, an absolutely glorious film that just sullied my enjoyment of the experience as a whole because of curious decisions made during production.

Release Date:
10th January 2014

The Scene To Look Out For:
I think anyone who watches this film will agree that the passage of time doesn’t seem to really be addressed. Despite the title, Solomon’s incarceration in no way feels like it spans twelve years. Having said that, one particular scene that really deals with the nature of time passing is the lynching scene. Unaccustomed to being spoken to so poorly, Solomon finally talks back to the plantation overseer, John Tibeats [Dano] and to avoid a whipping, gets into a bit of a fight. Gaining the upper hand, Solomon takes the whip and vents all of his frustration on the young man. Equally unaccustomed to such treatment, Tibeats leaves the plantation and returns with two men, set on hanging Solomon. At this time, Solomon’s life is spared by the head foreman, who sends word for the plantation owner to come. Most films would cut to his eventual arrival but McQueen chooses to leave us with this scene. The white workers feel this will treat Solomon a lesson and the black residents daren’t cross their masters, so he is left there, barely able to hold a breath, tiptoeing for several hours before he is finally cut down. It’s an intentionally terrible scene. A lynching was just part of life and Solomon’s suffering is treated with an almost deserved attitude because of his rebelliousness. It’s harrowing to watch but really forces the audience to appreciate a genuinely deplorable level of subtle inhumanity.

Notable Characters:
I often use this segment to highlight a key performance but for this movie I have chosen my least favourite character. The sense talking, forward thinking, hard-working, liberal Canadian, Samuel Bass, played by none other than the film’s own producer, Brad Pitt. Fuck you, Brad Pitt. Ego shouldn’t play a part in a film’s casting. Equality should spread to everything. “You can’t have Brad Pitt play a villain, he’s loveable-ass Brad Pitt.” Fuck that! He’s an actor! Actors and actresses should play both heroes and villains, clowns and romantics, ’cause those that do receive no end of praise (Denzel, I’m looking at you). I have no problem with a star studded cast but it immediately takes you out of the narrative. You’re watching Solomon defeated over-and-over, trusting white people, only to be dashed aside and then Brad Pitt turns up spouting on equality for all men and the evils of slavery. You know he’s going to save the sodding day, it’s just a matter of when. Urgh. There’s nothing wrong with his performance per se, or even the character’s dialogue, it’s the fact Pitt was playing that role. Pitt should have played the drunkard overseer who rats out Solomon, that would have been some decent acting.

Highlighted Quote:
“Laws change. Social systems crumble. Universal truths are constant. It is a fact, it is a plain fact that what is true and right is true and right for all. White and black alike”

In A Few Words:
“A thrilling marvel, beautifully acted and wonderfully presented but lacks McQueen’s signature touch and suffers from a fair amount of obviousness in its execution”

Total Score:


Cinema City Film Quiz #112

[05 January 2014]

Winning Team:
The Follicles Of Narnia: Gandalf Gets A Shave

Genre – Franchise crossing barber comedy

Runners Up:
Beird Science
Genre – Puberty comedy
Stroke My Beard
Genre – A hairy adventure
The Men Who Stare At Goatees
Genre – Erotic drama
Dick’s Van Dyke
Genre – Musical featuring Dick Van Dyke singing about his new beard
The Good, THe Bad And The Absent
Genre – An East Anglian Western

ROUND I: Pre-Production
1. According to the song, who are Dorothy and her companions off to see in The Wizard Of Oz?
2. Mr. Pink, Mr. Blonde and Nice Guy Eddie are characters in which film?
3. What colour is Doc Hudson in Cars?
4. “Freeze in hell, Batman” and “This is why Superman works alone” were quotes from which film?
5. The following actors have played the role of which British legend: Douglas Fairbanks, Errol Flynn, Kevin Costner, Carey Elwes, Russell Crowe?
6. How many Dirty Harry films were made? [bonus point for naming the actor originally intended for the title role]
FIVE [Frank Sinatra]
7. How many characters does Peter Sellers play in Dr Strangelove?
8. What was the title of the western directed by Clint Eastwood in 1992?
9. How many lost boys are there in Disney’s Peter Pan?
10. The Last King Of Scotland is set in which decade?

ROUND II: Filming [Movie Beards Special]
1. What colour is Gandalf’s beard in The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King? White? Grey? Black?
2. The Pai Mei sequences in Kill Bill, take place in which release? Kill Bill: Vol. 1? Kill Bill: Vol. 2? Kill Bill: Vol. 3?
3. What is the name of Brian Blessed’s character in Flash Gordon? Dale Arden? Prince Barin? Prince Vultan?
4. How many years is Chuck Noland on the island in Cast Away? 3? 4? 5?
5. Only one character, Ely, is given a name in 2009’s The Road. Who plays the role of Ely? Kodi Smit-McKhee? Robert Duvall? Guy Pearce?
6. The following quote is from which film, “If anything happens to me or my family, an accident, an accusation, anything, then first your son will disappear, his body will never be found. Then your wife. Her body will never be found either. This is guaranteed”? Syriana? Zero Dark Thirty? Body Of Lies?
7. In which of the following films does Jeff Bridges not sport a beard? Crazy Heart? The Fisher King? Tideland?
8. Which member of the Beatles cameo’d in Monty Python’s The Life Of Brian? Paul McCartney? John Lennon? George Harrison?
9. Of the 12 members of the American Antarctic Research Station in The Thing, how many have beards? 6? 8? 10?
SIX (MacReady, Childs, Clark, Fuchs, Windows, Bennings)
10. Die Another Day is the first film to feature a bearded James Bond. True or False?

ROUND III: Post-Production
1. Name any film directed by Ed Zwick.
TEN (About Last Night, Glory, Leaving Normal, Legends Of The Fall, Courage Under Fire, The Siege, The Last Samurai, Blood Diamond, Defiance, Love & Other Drugs)
2. Freder, Maria, Joh and Rotwang are characters in which silent film?
3. Randall Wallace has written four films, three of which were Braveheart, The Man In The Iron Mask and We Were Soldiers, what is the fourth?
PEARL HARBOUR (released 2001)
4. What percentage of the studio profit for a major release is made up of ticket sales?
20% (the rest is licencing, DVD sales and merchandising)
5. The following is the poster tagline for which film “When the end comes, not everyone is ready to go”?
6. The Sting was distributed by which major studio?
7. The Bridge On The River Kwai, 12 Angry Men and The Seventh Seal all were released in which year?
8. Which three actors feature on almost every poster for The Departed? (one point per correct answer)
9. What is the name of George’s partner in A Single Man?
10. The Pianist takes place in which country?

ROUND IV: Promotion & Release
1. What did Hitchcock direct in 1951? Strangers On A Train? Rear Window? Spellbound?
2. Who directed National Lampoon’s Vacation? Harold Ramis? Ivan Reitman? David Zucker?
3. Who played the title role in The Young Victoria? Emily Blunt? Charlize Theron? Rosamund Pike?
4. Who said, “We want to make good movies and make them cheap. The two are not incompatible”? Stanley Kubrick? Steven Spielberg? Quentin Tarantino?
5. Who composed the score for 1997’s As Good As It Gets? Hans Zimmer? John Debney? Alan Silvestri?
6. Colonel Jack O’Neill and Dr Daniel Jackson are the lead characters in which film? Stargate? The Hunt For Red October? A Few Good Men?
7. Which Star Wars film’s opening crawl starts with the following sentence, “It is a dark time for the Rebellion”? Star Wars? The Empire Strikes Back? Return Of The Jedi?
8. In The Elephant Man, John Merrick reveals he is literate and intelligent by reciting what? Psalm 23? Nothing Will Die by Tennyson? Iera son salita tutta sola from Madame Butterfly?
9. What colour are Rocky’s shorts when he fights Apollo Creed, in Rocky? White with red trim? Black with gold trim? Gold with red trim?
10. Edward G Robinson’s final scene before he died was a death scene. True or False?
TRUE (it was for Soylent Green and he died 10 days after shooting was completed)

Screenshots: The Fugitive / The Notebook / The Deer Hunter
Poster: Serpico
Actor: Adrien Brody


Everyone Hustles To Survive

David O. Russell

Christian Bale
Amy Adams
Bradley Cooper
Jeremy Renner
Jennifer Lawrence

Following the bad press David O. Russell received regarding his directing techniques (screaming at actors throughout production of I Heart Huckabees), he’s managed to re-establish himself as a credible force with the immensely successful The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook. His next feature reunited a lot of individuals who appeared in both movies and promised to be a raucous, glitzy, period con film. Upon its initial release in the States, American Hustle received almost unanimous praise in its acting, execution and story; an energetic character study coated in a thick, multi-layered, revolving story. For me, that’s how I would describe Goodfellas, so you can imagine my disappointment with this bland, bloated and frankly botched mess.

The story recreates the FBI’s ABSCAM entrapment, which lured various political figures into a scheme whereby they receive millions of dollars in exchange for bending immigration rules and unknowingly getting in bed with gangsters. That part of the story is fairly factual, everything else is more of an elaborate caricature. The chronological story opens with the introduction of seasoned conman Irving Rosenfeld [Bale], who meets and falls for Sydney Prosser [Adams], an ex-stripper trying to make a new life for herself. The two partner up and proceed to con desperate people out of their hard-earned money. In order to complete their duplicitous image, Prosser adopts the new identity of enigmatic British aristocrat named Lady Edith Greensley (with a fairly trite English accent, I might add). Despite his business and sexual relationship with Prosser/Greensley, Rosenfeld is in fact married to the highly erratic and thoroughly unstable Rosalyn [Lawrence] and adopted her young son. After a successful run, both are caught by FBI Agent Richie DiMaso [Cooper], who is eager to work his way up the hierarchy. As such, he immediately partners up with the two hustlers, in the hope of pursuing big-name arrests. Their initial target is the Mayor of Camden, Carmine Polito [Renner]. Polito is trying to get Atlantic City renovated but needs financial backing to get building started, establish jobs for the people of New Jersey and bring big business to the community. Utilising this, DiMaso sets up a phony investor in the form of an Arab Sheik, who will invest millions. Believing his job is done, Rosenfeld tries to back out, only to have DiMaso reveal he wants more investors and a bigger expose on corrupt politicians, using Rosenfeld’s family as leverage.

David O. Russell has stated in the past that he hates plot and feels the focus of a film should be character. It has also been well published that the majority of the performances in this film were improvisational. I have two problems with this. One, writers are smarter than actors. While there will always be a handful of incredible individuals, capable of producing some exceptional ad-libbing and improv (Brando and Nicholson spring to mind), they don’t have the coherent mindset of a writer. Which leads to problem number two, actors fight each other for screen presence. Given the opportunity to improvise, the majority will try to out-act the other and simple scenes will escalate erratically without going anywhere. So what you end up with is overall incoherency in favour of acting spectacle. All of which would be fine if the director was applying this rule to only one character – rather than all of them! We have constantly changing narrators; climactic scenes that run on too long, culminating in people storming off (’cause how else can they end a scene); weird camera movements, looking at hands, trying to follow the actor’s lead; muddled character arcs that paint the individual in a different light from scene-to-scene, giving them all an unhinged bipolar quality; and the main characters (the small time crooks and the FBI) end up looking like the bad guys next to the corner-cutting politician who is simply trying to provide for his community – the list goes on and on. Yet somehow, the quality of the actors involved means that despite all the ridiculousness, we still have a semi-entertaining finished product.

Despite all this bashing, the technical production side needs to be credited with immense praise. Not only did they replicate a late seventies, early eighties stylistic feel, they managed to make the film watchable. With rambling performances and a badly paced story, this movie should be a disaster but somehow you can follow what’s happening and the scenes have been well lit, shot and edited, giving us a handful of moments that work beautifully – the friendship between Bale and Renner, the fights between Lawrence and Bale, the negotiating between Cooper and Louis CK (more on that later); all of which are brilliant to watch as standalone interactions but feel out-of-place when slipped into a messy framework. What baffles me even more, is the universal acclaim this film is being lavished with. I’ve never believed that my opinion is worth more than anyone else’s and these reviews stand as an analysis rather than a recommendation but I just don’t get it. American Hustle is dull, over-acted, pretentious, irregular and if I’m honest, stupid. But go see it for yourself, send me emails, tweets, whatever, let me know what you thought. Maybe I’m being too critical… maybe that’s my job.

Release Date:
1st January 2014

The Scene To Look Out For:
As the film progresses, DiMaso engages in several conversations with his superior (Stoddard Thorsen played by Louis CK). In order to rein in the young and impetuous Agent, Thorsen tries to regale him with an anecdote from his childhood. Each time, DiMaso interrupts and each time Thorsen refuses to finish the story. This becomes a running joke and in the hands of two great actors and exceptional improvisers, these scenes provide some of the only comedic moments in the entire film.

Notable Characters:
Amy Adams. For the longest time, I simply assumed that I didn’t care for the roles she was playing but now I’m convinced I just don’t like her. I hated her accent, I hated her wardrobe, I hated her performance, I hated her character, I hated her motivation, I basically hated everything that she had control over and she is considered the leading female role. Maybe it’s biased, I don’t know, I still love what she produced in Doubt and The Master but I wasn’t alone when everyone in the cinema didn’t know how to react to her screaming maniacally on a club toilet. Explain that to me and I’ll see reason.

Highlighted Quote:
“I told you not to put metal in the science oven, what did you do that for?”

In A Few Words:
“Every now-and-then critics and award bodies will fall over themselves endlessly praising a single release that is, in fact, fairly average or sub-par. American Hustle is one of those films”

Total Score:


Reviews 2014

[26 December 2014] Exodus: Gods And Kings (2014)

[12 December 2014] The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies (2014)

[01 December 2014] Whiplash (2014)

[19 November 2014] The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part I (2014)

[06 November 2014] Interstellar (2014)

[09 October 2014] Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)

[07 October 2014] The Maze Runner (2014)

[01 October 2014] Gone Girl (2014)

[26 August 2014] Sin City: A Dame To Kill For (2014)

[12 August 2014] What If (2013)

[30 July 2014] Guardians Of The Galaxy (2014)

[14 July 2014] Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes (2014)

[10 July 2014] How To Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)

[09 July 2014] Transformers: Age Of Extinction (2014)

[29 May 2014] Edge Of Tomorrow (2014)

[23 May 2014] X-Men: Days Of Future Past (2014)

[14 May 2014] Godzilla (2014)

[22 April 2014] Calvary (2014)

[16 April 2014] The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)

[27 March 2014] The Double (2013)

[24 March 2014] Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

[06 March 2014] The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

[04 March 2014] 300: Rise Of An Empire (2014)

[13 February 2014] The Lego Movie (2014)

[11 February 2014] The Book Thief (2013)

[04 February 2014] Robocop (2014)

[15 January 2014] The Wolf Of Wall Street (2013)

[09 January 2014] Twelve Years A Slave (2013)

[01 January 2014] American Hustle (2013)