Cinema City Film Quiz #118

[30 March 2014]

Winning Team:
Pussy Riot

Genre – Investigative documentary/disaster movie

Runners Up:
The Men Who Stare At Pussies
Genre – Thriller about make-up artists who make people up to look like cats
Cats In America
Genre – A perfect coming of age comic-book caper.
Cat On A Cold Metal Floor
Genre – Veterinary porn
Genre – An alien clown falls in love with a computer

ROUND I: Pre-Production
1. How is Ted Danson’s character related to Macaulay Culkin’s character in Getting Even With Dad?
2. What type of animal is Flipper?
3. Who played the role of Bruce Banner in The Incredible Hulk?
4. What is the name of the character that introduces the title characters to the time travelling phone booth, in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure?
5. In Meet Joe Black, Brad Pitt plays death. Who plays the elderly gentleman he has come to collect?
6. There’s Something About Mary was released in which year?
7. Jailbird is the name of prisoner transport plane in which film?
8. Who directed the 2007 science fiction Sunshine?
9. The Last Emperor is Bertolucci’s biopic about the last Emperor of which country?
10. Which seasonal holiday are Steve Martin and John Candy trying to get home for in Planes, Trains And Automobiles?

ROUND II: Filming [Films which feature cats in prominent roles]
1. Mr. Bigglesworth appears in which film series? Iron Man? Twilight? Austin Powers?
2. What was the name of the cat in the 1965 film That Darn Cat? BC? TC? DC?
3. In An American Tail, the Mousekewitzes emigrate to which US city? Washington? Atlanta? New York City?
4. Who voiced the character of Puss In Boots in Shrek II? Gael Garcia Bernal? Rodrigo Santoro? Antonio Banderas?
5. The 1993 film Homeward Bound was a remake of a 1963 film. What was the title? Rainbow Valley? And Then It Happened? The Incredible Journey?
6. Which of the following was the main poster tagline for Cats & Dogs? Whose your best friend? Witness the secret war? Things are going to get hairy?
7. In Whisper Of The Heart, what colour is the Baron’s polka-dot bowtie? Black/Gold? White/Green? Red/Yellow?
8. The Aristocats (1970) was made on a budget of how many million dollars? 2? 3? 4?
9. What was the title of the first film to be released on blu-ray before DVD? Oliver & Company? Little Fockers? Bolt?
10. Jones the cat is mentioned or referenced in all four of the Alien movies. True or False?

ROUND III: Post-Production
1. Which film featured Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill and Will Ferrell?
2. How many times does Robert De Niro say “You talkin’ to me?” throughout his monologue in Taxi Driver?
FOUR (Don’t try it, you fucker. You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? Well, who the hell else are you talkin’ to? You talkin’ to me? Well, I’m the only one here. Who the fuck do you think you’re talking to?)
3. What did Stanley Kubrick direct in 1975?
4. By what name is the actor Kong-Sang Chan more commonly known?
5. Who played the role of D’Artagnan in the 1921, 1973 and 1993 adaptations of The Three Musketeers? [one point per correct answer]
6. What was the name to the three shark props in Jaws?
7. Which actor replaced Vin Diesel in the xXx sequel?
8. What is the title of the 80’s film in which John Cusack’s character contemplates and has a few attempts at suicide?
9. What is Lloyd Christmas’ job at the start of Dumb & Dumber?
10. Which film featured John Cleese, Whoopi Goldberg and Cuba Gooding Jnr?

ROUND IV: Promotion & Release
1. Which of the following actors is not Canadian? Dan Aykroyd? Michael Cera? Judd Nelson?
2. In which film did Audrey Hepburn say “I hate this nightgown. I hate all my nightgowns. And I hate all my underwear too”? Breakfast At Tiffany’s? My Fair Lady? Roman Holiday?
3. During The Machinist, Reznik is reading which book by Dostoyevsky? The Double? The Brothers Karamazov? The Idiot?
4. Who wrote the screenplay for Patton? George Lucas? Brian De Palma? Francis Ford Coppola?
5. Which of the following actors has played Marc Anthony, Buffalo Bill, Henry VIII and a monkey? Kirk Douglas? Richard Burton? Charlton Heston?
6. On the poster for The Cannonball Run the lead characters are grouped around a red car, two race flags and a speed limit sign. What is the speed limit written on the sign? 35? 45? 55?
7. What is the name of the rating site Zuckerberg constructs at the start of The Social Network? Facepad? Faceblend? Facemash?
8. For the downpour scenes in Rashomon, Kurosawa noted the rain wouldn’t be seen by the camera. How did he get around this issue? Used large mirrors to reflect the rain drops? A glass pane was erected in front of the camera to catch and stream the rain? He died the local water supply black and used that?
9. Which Steve Martin comedy is a remake of 1964’s Bedtime Story? The Jerk? House Sitter? Dirty Rotten Scoundrels?
10. Paul Thomas Anderson was locked in contract to direct a sequel to Magnolia but adapted most of the story into Punch-Drunk Love instead. True or False?

Screenshots: Armageddon / The Perfect Storm / Equilibrium
Poster: Quiz Show
Actor: William Fichtner


Everything You Are. Everything You Are Not.

Richard Ayoade

Jesse Eisenberg
Mia Wasikowksa

Simon James [Eisenberg] is the ultimate introvert: closed off, devoid of confidence, unnoticed by all. He works long days at a tedious unfulfilling job, only to go home to a small empty apartment. His only real interaction is with his forgetful, coarsely blunt mother and spying on a co-worker, Hannah [Wasikowska], through a telescope in his bedroom. Despite working solidly for the last seven years, he is invisible to his colleagues and shown little more than common courtesy by his boss (even if he can’t actually remember that his name is Simon, not Stanley). After being ejected from a mandatory office party – which feels fairly tame but to a socially anxious individual can be a crushing experience – Simon notices a new tenant in the building opposite; a gentleman who looks exactly like him. He quickly dismisses the encounter and returns to work the following day, only to be introduced to a new employee, James Simon [Eisenberg], who is an exact physical duplicate of Simon but characteristically antithetical. The two start out as friends, with James bringing out Simon’s unkindled rebellious side but this quickly turns and Simon starts to feel that James is in fact taking over and ruining his life.

The idea of a double, doppelganger or fetch is a folklore legend that appears in various cultures around the world. The notion that someone, usually unseen by others, witnesses an echo of themselves is usually a prelude or an omen to an approaching death or grisly demise. In cinematic fiction, we’ve had quite a few features dealing with the nature of duality and schizophrenic manifestation but Ayoade’s take on it is extremely beautiful, curiously funny and at times heartbreakingly cutting. In the same way that Kafka bluntly asserts Gregor has transformed into a giant bug in The Metamorphosis, we are simply told to accept this fact without question. No explanation will be given. No supernatural or medical angle is addressed (unlike in Dostoyevsky’s book, which has a very finite close). It’s this confidence (if that’s the right word) that takes the audience by surprise and either hooks or loses them. For those that are transfixed, you’re merely brought along for the ride, helpless to escape, helpless to intervene – much like the timid Simon.

Despite this only being his second feature, Ayoade has surrounded himself with an exceptional wealth of talent and in doing so, has managed to achieve something that most independent filmmakers spend their whole life dreaming of and chasing. The production design is wonderfully detailed and stylistically reminiscent of Brazil: based in an inescapable dreamlike environment littered with technology, fashions and architecture that doesn’t exactly fit into any particular nation or time period. Coupled with Erik Wilson’s shadow-heavy cinematography, The Double is gifted with a very unique look which cements its nightmarish setting. Despite this, with so many simple social comedic and tragic occurrences, even the more extreme and farfetched elements feel somehow relatable. The editing is also beautifully paced, demonstrating a life of horrific misery and isolation, littered with comedic intervals and finally interspersed with incidents and conversations that frankly can’t happen or be real. It’s also evident how much time has gone into plotting and creating the detailed level of sound. The mixing and design are rhythmic and run with a clockwork repetition but seem rooted in the cold mechanical surroundings that the characters inhabit. Laced over all this is Andrew Hewitt’s amazingly haunting and almost operatic score. Combining heavy piano chords and stabbing strings, the music is both perfectly fitting and tensely oppressive.

Actors love the opportunity to play multiple roles; they can’t help themselves. Like greedy, angry babies they crave more attention, more focus and more exposure. But when a good actor is presented with this opportunity, he can achieve something really transformative and delightful. Much like Michael Cera, we’re used to seeing a very specific type of performance from Eisenberg and allowing him to visit the polar extremes of that introverted and extroverted nature is not only very impressive, it’s addictive to watch. Both the lives of Simon James and James Simon are presented with a voyeuristic honesty. We’re shown their strengths and failings and not so much asked to judge their actions and decisions but appreciate that in all of our good intentions or fantasised outcomes, external perception and reality corrupt and ruin them almost every time. Then there’s the aloof Hannah, played by Wasikowska; the ethereal dream girl of every reclusive guy, a woman who seems to mirror his loneliness but somehow keeps an optimistic outlook to the whole thing. On top of that we are given a cavalcade of talent in the form of short supporting roles and cameos, all of whom fill this unbelievably drab fictional existence with seeming ease.

With this and Submarine under his belt, Ayoade no longer needs to prove himself to anyone. As an artist and a filmmaker he has shown not only great potential but immense talent. Like a young Jean-Pierre Jeunet or Terry Gilliam, it’s hard to ignore the long, bright and illustrious cinematic future sprawling out before him.

Release Date:
4th April 2014

The Scene To Look Out For:
For whatever reason, the scene that has lodged itself in my mind most firmly is in fact just a simple moment, no more than two or three shots. During his many voyeuristic telescope sessions, Simon often witnesses Hannah sketching simple little doodles, then tearing them to pieces and blowing them into the garbage chute. With a rabid drive, Simon runs downstairs, crosses the small courtyard into Hannah’s building and uses a makeshift wire hanger hook to retrieve the pieces and reassemble the picture. The scene I’m referring to, however, is when Hannah finally catches Simon in the act and in his desperate blind panic, all he can do is hold the hook in his hand, wide-eyed and timidly explain, “I haven’t done anything wrong.”

Notable Characters:
This film is Eisenberg’s. No one else really gets a look in. Of course, the supporting roles are very well handled and the little cameo parts are very entertaining but it really comes down to the fact that Eisenberg presents the audience with two distinct individuals and carries the entire running time on his shoulders.

Highlighted Quote:
“I like to think I’m pretty unique”

In A Few Words:
“A clever, funny, dark and subversive feature, filled with great performances, gripping cinematography and a marvellous appreciation of the importance of sound”

Total Score:



In Heroes We Trust

Anthony Russo
Joe Russo

Chris Evans
Scarlett Johansson
Samuel L. Jackson
Sebastian Stan

It’s growing increasingly difficult to review Marvel films. I feel like a scratched record continually singing their praises. Over the last six years the comic-cum-film studio has established a solid formula for adapting some of their best loved properties and characters, combining solid action sequences, entertaining performances and interesting stories. I’m not saying they’re perfect, far from it, they still have a long way to go before being accepted as serious cinema but Marvel has managed to achieve something with superheroes that no other filmmaker has even come close to: evolving the genre. As an avid reader of comics, I know there’s more to them than just capes and punching but for so long the general conception was that you could never step outside an origin story set in a single city. Through the last few MCU releases we’ve sampled science fiction, fantasy, war drama and now political thriller, all with a superhero twist – and it’s this refusal to be categorised and compartmentalised which is a real credit to these productions.

Discovered and defrosted by SHIELD, Steve Rogers (aka Captain America played by Chris Evans) is now a soldier without an army or a war to fight. Following his involvement in the battle of New York (see Avengers or every single bloody episode of Agents Of SHIELD) Rogers is effectively seen as SHIELD property and gets to work protecting American interests. Over the last few years he’s been working with a covert team codenamed STRIKE and fellow Avenger, Natasha Romanoff (aka Black Widow, portrayed once again by Scarlett Johansson), running missions and generally following orders passed down by Nick Fury [Jackson]. The film opens with a routine mission, the result of which irks the Captain when he discovers that members of his team have separate (some would say conflicting) objectives. Feeling out of place in an organisation built on espionage, Rogers tours his own exhibits at the Smithsonian and even meets with veteran and PTSD counsellor Sam Wilson [Mackie]. Underneath all of this, a dark and twisted plot has been developing and after an attack on a high ranking SHIELD agent, the pieces begin moving quickly and suddenly Rogers finds himself not only a pawn but a target. The film then kicks into high gear, resembling more of a cold war spy drama than a straightforward action flick.

With its poignant exploration of the political and militaristic regimes that have shaped the first decade of this century, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a slap-in-the-face wake up call for audiences; specifically because it’s only when we’re given an external perspective that we really analyse the things we cherish and protect. In the West, we consider our freedoms and liberties the envy of the world but the price we pay to maintain them is extraordinary. I’m not even talking about the big stuff like bugged phone calls and international invasions, I’m talking about personal compromise: Facebook, Instagram, Netflix. Our lives, preferences and choices spread electronically across the globe, believing we are volunteering select information willingly and freely, only to discover said information isn’t as secure as we once believed and our options are more limited than advertised. This is the world that Steve Rogers has found himself in, one of endless compromise and subterfuge. A world where the enemy could be anyone and those calling the shots are equally shadowed and mysterious. For a series of films about bad guys trying to take over the world it shouldn’t feel like such a bold move but when you remove the camp, moustache-twirling villain, it suddenly becomes very real and action farce becomes a subtle and surprisingly mature political statement.

One of the defining characteristics of the Captain America character is his unwavering black and white ethical and moral spectrum. There is good and evil and that’s the end of it. He has little time or tolerance for a world of all engulfing grey. This is the hardest element for both comic writers and filmmakers to convey. In the wrong hands, this comes off as arrogant, condescending and nauseatingly naïve. But from Brubaker’s run in print and Chris Evan’s portrayal on film, you genuinely believe this man is incorruptible. He’s everything America could and should be: strong, honest, tolerant.. a leader. SHIELD, on the other hand, is everything America has become. Maybe it’s the current political climate or simply a credit to the acting but the entire cast have a weight to their expressions, a shared look of disappointment and shame. As Cap catches up on the highlights and horrors of the last few decades (he keeps a list of key points) he can only feel regret that he wasn’t there to help guide and shape it and desperately wonders if the freedom he was fighting for was worth it and even achieved. Emoting all this while delivering energetic fight sequences is an incredible achievement and Evans continues to be one of the finest credible pillars of the Marvel cinematic universe. Then there’s the inclusion of Anthony Mackie as Wilson/Falcon, who exudes infinite respect for Rogers as a fellow soldier, rather than holding him aloft like a gilded trophy or aiming him like a weapon as so many others have. From his introduction in the very first frame to his appearance in the final scenes, he’s a solid addition that reminds us not everyone in this shared fictional world has to be super powered to be a true hero. Speaking of new inclusions, Robert Redford’s performance as Alexander Pierce is sublime. It’s been a long time since Redford has displayed anything other than lacklustre mediocrity (I openly admit I missed All Is Lost) but he brings a sense of authority to the story and elevates what is effectively a simple supporting role; sort of like Marlon Brando in Superman. Of course, all this is without addressing the second titular character. Sebastian Stan’s Winter Soldier is a spectacular threat. I love the character from the comics and since the announcement of a live-action Cap film years ago, I’ve been waiting for a strong Winter Soldier presence. Now that we have it, I’m not at all disappointed. The look and feel of the character isn’t exactly hard to replicate (long hair and metal arm) but the desperate confusion behind his eyes, which quickly gives way to a blood-chilling death stare, is keenly impressive. And again, similarly to Evans, Stan has to achieve all this while moving with extreme skill and precision like a merciless anti-Cap. My only complaint would be the running time (approx. two and a quarter hours) can’t accommodate more Winter Soldier.

CGI: the utilisation of computers to generate images that are simply impossible to synthesise. As a filmmaker and critic, this is what I earnestly believe. If you can build it, shoot it, make it or replicate it there’s no reason for CGI. Seemingly, this is an opinion shared by the Russos, as every stage of this movie’s production design is marvellous. The costumes are simple yet respectful of the source material. The sets and locations are iconic and expansive. The props are a beautiful plausible mix of technological gadgetry, high-powered weaponry and comic book fantasy. The list goes on. Sure there are plenty of larger than life visual sequences that have computer enhanced imagery (not to mention some incredibly simple and subtle adjustments to age and weight) but the majority of this movie looks and feels completely real and for that reason, we suspend disbelief for the more grandiose developments. But as with every Marvel release, it’s not all sunshine and roses. Once again, we come back to the same two points that really cripple these fine films. Firstly, we have the score. When it was announced that Henry Jackman was producing the music for Winter Soldier, I was giddy. His work on X-Men: First Class alone was superb and most importantly memorable. Outside of Brian Tyler’s Iron Man 3 score and Alan Silvestri’s Avengers theme, everything’s been a bit bland; perfectly serviceable but lacking in definition. Say what you want about Man Of Steel but it’s difficult to argue the quality of Zimmer’s score. Same problem stands here. There are some splendid arrangements and melodies but overall the finished product lacks real presence. The second point, which may be contested by almost everyone reading this, is the ever expanding Marvel cinematic universe. To date, Marvel have done a stellar job stringing their films together and introducing new characters with supporting or cameo roles in preceding films but by placing two separate additional scenes in the middle and after the end credits, they’re starting to pull centre focus. This leads to people leaving the cinema talking about the new characters in a final one minute sequence (rather than the two plus hour film they’ve just watched), not to mention the constant whining about why every conflict can’t simply be resolved by the Avengers. In other words, audiences are getting greedy and complaisant. Furthermore, the jump-on factor is stretching far into the distance. In decades to come, if people want to get up to speed with Black Panther 4, they are going to need to go all the way back to 2008 and watch Iron Man to fully appreciate how everything came into being. We’re spoilt and subsequently fawning over the minutest details rather than appreciating the fact that we have not one but two really good films about a guy dressed like a flag flinging a metal shield at bad guys.

With Guardians Of The Galaxy on the horizon, shaping up to be an amazing and fun cosmic flick, not to mention the guaranteed box office powerhouse that is Avengers: Age Of Ultron, Marvel’s reach is quite frankly unparalleled. And if we can expect more scripts, acting and direction of the calibre demonstrated here, it’s hard to imagine a.) an end to their reign or b.) how anyone else could challenge them. Which, as a comic fan makes me nervous.. because what I’ve just described sounds a lot like the origin story of a super villain. Dun dun duuuun! Only time will tell.

Release Date:
28th March 2014

The Scene To Look Out For:
**When I say spoiler within, believe me**
Don’t make me choose! There are so many wonderful elements to this story from huge set pieces to tiny interactions and they’re all equally grand. But if push came to shove, I would have to say either the first close-quarters fight between Rogers and the Winter Soldier, which was brilliantly paced and expertly executed by the two actors, or the return of Arnim Zola. I won’t go any further than that. Arnim Zola!

Notable Characters:
There are so many great elements to this ensemble but the fact that Johansson finally fits as Black Widow is a wonderful accomplishment. Romanoff is such a fascinating multifaceted character and I’ve been equally surprised and disappointed that her appearances in Iron Man 2 and even Avengers were not on par with the male leads. Here she’s fleshed out, given more of a personality, her skill is evident but with it is an adaptable facade and humour that makes her a captivating mystery.

Highlighted Quote:
“Hail Hydra”

In A Few Words:
“Another fine Marvel sequel that excels and fails in exactly the same manner as its fellow sequels. Marvel are on the verge of true greatness if they can only correct a few tiny elements”

Total Score:


Cinema City Film Quiz #117

[16 March 2014]

Winning Team:
Don’t Call Us Junior!

Genre – A documentary about clowns

Runners Up:
Don’t Call Us Junior!
Genre – Indiana Jones is able to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland because there are no snakes
Magnum PI And The Missed Role
Genre – Pantomime about a moustached fool who misses the opportunity of a lifetime
Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Murdered Franchise
Genre – The boy is back and this time he’s brought his dad
It’s Not The Years, Honey. It’s The Parsecs
Genre – Docu-drama account of the life and times of Han Solo
One Of Our Airplanes Is Missing!
Genre – Hilarious Disney farce set in Malyasia
Indiana Phones And The Temple Of Goon
Genre – Indiana is a phone salesman trapped in a shopping mall full of idiots
The Grand Budapest B&B
Genre – Horror

ROUND I: Pre-Production
1. What word does Kyle Reese use to identify the time-travelling robotic hitman in The Terminator?
2. In which film does Robert Carlisle play an out of work steel worker who turns to stripping?
3. What colour is the Millennium Falcon in Star Wars?
4. John Travolta and Nicolas Cage famously appeared as one another in which film?
5. What is the name of the Oscar winning song by Berlin, used in Top Gun?
6. What is the name of the jewel (or necklace) worn by Rose Dewitt Bukater in Titanic?
7. Who played the lead role of Sabrina Fairchild in the 1954 film, Sabrina?
8. The characters Mikey, Mouth, Data, Brand, Chunk, Andy, Stef and Sloth go by which group name?
9. How many symbols does one need to dial a gate address in Stargate?
10. Damien is the sequel to which horror film?

ROUND II: Filming [Indiana Jones]
1. What is Indiana Jones’ first name? Henry? George? Steven?
2. How many Indiana Jones films does the character Sallah appear in? 1? 2? 3?
3. The Staff Of Ra features in which Indiana Jones film? Raiders Of The Lost Ark? Temple Of Doom? The Last Crusade?
4. What was the working title for Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom? Temple Of Death? Temple Of Despair? Temple Of Destiny?
5. Which Indiana Jones instalment does not include monkeys? Temple Of Doom? The Last Crusade? Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull?
INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE (Chilled monkey brains and CGI monkeys)
6. Which actress played the role of Elsa Schneider? Kate Capshaw? Karen Allen? Alison Doody?
7. In which film does Indiana Jones reach for his pistol, only to find it missing? Temple Of Doom? Last Crusade? Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull?
TEMPLE OF DOOM (an odd call-back as it’s set before Raiders)
8. Despite playing his father in The Last Crusade, how many years older than Harrison Ford is Sean Connery? Twelve? Fifteen? Seventeen?
9. Which of the following is the correct order for the Last Crusade challenges? Breath Of God, Word Of God, Path Of God? Word, Breath, Path? Path, Word, Breath?
10. The actor who plays Toht in Raiders has a brief cameo in Last Crusade as Himmler. True or False?

ROUND III: Post-Production
1. Which four actors have played the role of Jack Ryan on film? (one point per correct answer)
2. In Saving Private Ryan, General George Marshall uses a letter written by which US President to justify the retrieval of Private Ryan?
3. Who directed Caddyshack, Analyze This and Bedazzled?
4. What is the title of the 1989 film about insurance salesman pretending their deceased boss is still alive?
5. In 2001, Javier Bardem, Tom Hanks, Ed Harris and Geoffrey Rush lost out to which actor for the best leading role Oscar?
6. What is Benjamin Willard’s rank in Apocalypse Now?
7. How many crew members serve on the Nebuchadnezzar in The Matrix?
EIGHT (Morpheus, Trinity, Cypher, Switch, Apoc, Tank, Dozer, Mouse)
8. What animal is used as a hood ornament on Stuntman Mike’s various cars in Death Proof?
9. The following quote is from which film, “Not everyone can become a great artist but a great artist can come from anywhere. It is difficult to imagine more humble origins than those of the genius now cooking at Gusteau’s”?
10. Which film starred Christian Bale, Gerard Butler and Matthew McConaughey?

ROUND IV: Promotion & Release
1. Which of the following shots was not in the trailer for Cast Away? Tom Hanks shouting WILSON!? Tom Hanks and Helen Hunt kissing? The last shot of the movie?
2. Which of the following 50’s films was not a musical? Winchester ’73? Calamity Jane? South Pacific?
3. Which film won the best animated feature Oscar in 2012? Rango? Toy Story 3? Brave?
4. Who composed the score for Desperately Seeking Susan, Fried Green Tomatoes and Skyfall? Thomas Newman? James Newton Howard? Harry Gregson-Williams?
5. Which actress starred alongside Cary Grant in North By Northwest? Eva Marie Saint? Kim Novak? Grace Kelly?
6. The following was the poster tagline for which film, “More entertaining than humanly possible”? The Muppet Movie? ET: The Extra Terrestrial? Basil The Great Mouse Detective?
7. What is Brian’s surname in Life Of Brian? Cohen? Liebowitz? Steiner?
8. How many films has Wes Anderson directed? 8? 7? 6?
9. Which Disney animated feature was released in between 101 Dalmations and The Jungle Book? The Sword In The Stone? Sleeping Beauty? The Aristocats?
10. Two hundred and forty people walked out of the premiere for 2001: A Space Odyssey, claiming they had no idea what was going on. True or False?

Screenshots: Days Of Thunder / True Grit / Godfather Part II
Poster: Deep Impact
Actor: Robert Duvall


A Tale Of Love And Art

Wes Anderson

Ralph Fiennes
Tony Revolori

Describing the aesthetic of a Wes Anderson film to someone who’s never seen one (or trying to defend it to someone who doesn’t care for it) is incredibly difficult. You find yourself using words like surreal, beautiful, shockingly touching at times, funny, innocent, naïve, etc, maybe even drawing a comparison to the whimsy of Georges Melies. But it’s not that Wes Anderson’s movies are set in a quirky alternate universe but the characters that populate them perceive their setting very differently from the average human being. This, I believe, is the key to Anderson’s signature style. And personally, if you don’t love, worship and adore every one of them, you’re dead inside… but that’s just my opinion.

At its heart, the story is about a writer conducting an informal interview with a very lonely looking guest in a very rundown looking hotel. As the man’s tale unfolds, we learn that he was once a lobby boy at that very hotel, some thirty five years earlier and would later inherit the entire place, along with a vast fortune. The lobby boy in question is an immigrant refugee by the name of Zero Moustafa [Revolori] who serves under the direct tutelage of the hotel’s eccentric concierge, Monsieur Gustave H [Fiennes]. In addition to Gustave’s excess of personality, he has a penchant for liaising with older woman (specifically, rich, insecure, blonde, older women). One in particular, Madame D leaves the hotel and subsequently dies of suspected murder. At the reading of her Last Will and Testament we learn that Madame D has left her most prized possession, a portrait of a young boy holding an apple, to Gustave. This starts a chain reaction of events that traverses all over Eastern Europe as World War II slowly begins to escalate and sees Gustave and his ever-faithful lobby boy evading psychopathic henchmen, the military, the police and prison guards. As the film progress, it becomes clear that her unscrupulous son, Dmitri [Adrien Brody] has murdered her to advance his inheritance and intends to frame Gustave for the crime.

As with every Wes Anderson flick, the pacing and production design are very unique and unforgiving. If you can’t handle intermittent title cards, choppy time jumps, novelty models and miniatures (that aren’t trying to be realistic but feel reminiscent of shadow puppetry), extreme close-up cut aways and sporadic font usage, then you’re going to effectively hate this movie. But if you’re willing to suspend disbelief, the film surreptitiously lures you in with pretty pictures and humorous performances before springing something utterly horrifying or delivering a resonating pathos without the audience being consciously aware that a pluck on their heart string is imminent. It’s a beautiful thing to be a part of and a real badge of honour for the skill that both cast and his crew exhibit. Anderson is a very visual director. The way scenes are lit, framed and arranged is akin to that of a painting and the camera is almost always stationary or shot at simple straight angles. But more than this, subtle methods are employed to immerse you in the story’s flow. Point in case, this film takes place in three flashbacks, each of which has been shot with a different aspect ratio for each time period. A fact which should be hideously jarring but somehow magically bleeds together without really being noticed. But at an even more surface level, the costume design is lavish and delightful, the hotel itself undergoes a major refit from its decadent thirties look, to its drab (and very orange) sixties design. The whole thing is a marvel. This is also the third time that Alexandre Desplat has scored an Anderson production and it’s hard to imagine anyone else taking over instead. The partnership is so perfect and his music really does reflect what’s going on visually; not just matching the timing of the events but really working in parallel with the depths of the images and performances – giving the audience both a sense of enjoyment, foreboding, dread and delight in one scene.

Something I enjoy greatly about ‘Anderson relationships’ is that the story’s partners and young lovers are played so very passionately, without clumsily traipsing into unnecessarily overt and nauseating territory. Often getting married young, intensely loving or hating each other, producing children they find unusual or eccentric but equally love or hate with the same passion. It’s just a delightfully comical melodrama that takes the simple nuances of daily familial and romantic interactions and emphasises the more ridiculous aspects. People wonder why so many actors work with (or want to work with) Anderson and I believe this to be the answer. Getting to portray such intense characters who emanate such staggering control, only to lose it in a delightfully comic and Woody Allen-esque manner, it’s something genuine actors crave. And no matter who is added to Anderson’s vast stable, they all immediately feel like they belong. Thus the acting is stellar. From the leading roles, to the smallest cameos, to the offbeat supports, everyone has a unique role that conforms to the overall feel of the collective ensemble performance. None more so than Fiennes elaborate concierge, rife with personality traits, a fondness for finery and an expansive vernacular. This performance is seconded only by the compressed passion and loyalty exhibited by the largely unknown novice Tony Revolori. Revolori, despite being incredibly young and unheard of by the masses, is a very gifted and talented individual and feels extremely at home in this fast-paced, quick-tongued environment.

Of course, the movie is far from perfect. Like all strong directors, sometimes one can be too present in one’s own film. The narrative is coherent enough but when you remove the twee elements, we’re left with a very simplistic and underwhelming story which ends very abruptly. What’s more, the film jumps back three times in flashback form: starting with a young girl at a grave, then back to the author of the book she’s reading (and the dude in the grave, incidentally), then a younger version of said author and finally back to Zero’s story. All well and good and all neatly done but as a framing device, there’s not a lot of resolution. We see how the older Zero finishes his story, leaving out vast strides of time which are admittedly irrelevant but then we don’t revisit the later elements. I appreciate it’s a moot point inserted for the novelty of it but that’s kinda my point. I forgive this of Anderson, as I forgive Scorsese for his shocking disregard for scene continuity but should I? Am I praising something that is inherently flawed (even in a minor way) because I admire the director’s work? But this is the limit of my complaints. Everything else is so wonderfully on form that if you were too travel back in time and inform me that Anderson’s next production was terrible, I would only be able to ask, “How? The man’s being true to himself artistically.. he can do no wrong.”

Release Date:
7th March 2014

The Scene To Look Out For:
**horribly blunt spoiler**
Tricky. For a film made up of exquisite little standalone treats, it’s taxing trying to select only one. One moment that stood out for me, in the way it was shot, cut and acted would be the demise of Willem Dafoe’s character – a psychotically determined henchman named J.G. Jopling. After a brilliantly filmed chase scene down a race piste, Gustave is clinging for dear life on the edge of a cliff. Jopling silently walks up starts stomping on the ice. Without losing his charming politeness, Gustave informs Jopling that he hates him more than anyone else in the whole world. As Jopling continues stomping, Gustave seems to accept death and starts to recite poetry. At the height of the scene, Zero appears and shoulder barges Jopling to his death. There’s something despicably brilliant about the whole thing that leaves you chuckling at something very serious but all the while reminded, it’s just a bit of silly fun.

Notable Characters:
Without a doubt, Ralph Fiennes is the centre attraction. Gone are his early 2000’s appearances as a weird rom-dram lead and following the close of the Harry Potter franchise, his presence is almost always guaranteed to be villainous. Thankfully, The Grand Budapest Hotel allows Fiennes to be so wonderfully silly. Immediately the works of Peter Sellers comes to mind, with a man who can commit himself so thoroughly to a particular role and deliver something different, inspired and entertaining. You can call up absolutely any of his character traits (the fondness for long-legged poetry, his particular brand of perfume, his effete nature, his strict moral and ethical code, his momentary lapse of etiquette with a crass outburst) and it would instantly bring you back to a specific scene which revelled in it beautifully.

Highlighted Quote:
“I want to press charges. This criminal has plagued my family for twenty years. He’s a ruthless adventurer and a con artist who preys on sick, old, mentally weak and feeble women like my mother… and he probably fucks them too”

In A Few Words:
“Fantastical, elaborate and glorious, The Grand Budapest Hotel is just another fine example of what can be achieved when a director carves out their own style without worry or concern for appealing to the dull masses”

Total Score:



Seize Your Glory

Noam Murro

Sullivan Stapleton
Eva Green
Lena Headey
Rodrigo Santoro

A friend of mine recently summarised Zack Snyder’s legacy as essentially a series of two hour long music videos; all style, no substance. While I believe there’s a little more to it than that, I can’t deny that Snyder has paved the way for copycat filmmakers to take these slick stylistic elements and base an entire movie around a collection of “cool shots.” For all its faults, 300 was somewhat unique. It built on the accomplishments of Sin City and at the time gave the audience a baffling new presentation of the common action film. Subsequently, it was a huge success. Revered and parodied, for better or worse, it’s earned its place in cinematic history (for the time being). One thing 300 did not need was a follow up. Yet eight years later, here we are.

While the story struggles to find where the narrative begins (at the end of 300, before that, afterward, who knows?) we’re treated to a rather tedious opening monologue from Queen Gorgo [Headey] about why the Persian army invaded in the first place. But there must have been a distinct fear that all this retreading of familiar ground and boring dialogue may lose the audience, so they depict Athens burning to the ground. No, still not enough. I know! Let’s have a bare-breasted woman struggling in the grip of two men. She’s not being raped or killed, just struggling.. in slow motion. There we go. And so 300: Rise Of An Empire opens with large flopping tits. In IMAX. Sets the scene for the following hour and a half really. But I digress. After a botched introduction, we are presented with the origins of the god king Xerxes [Santoro] and his most powerful commander, Artemisia [Green]. At the same time, we’re shown a simple Greek soldier who became an Athenian hero, Themistocles [Stapleton]. With the more interesting confrontation (Xerxes/Leonidas) already spoken for, the writers turned to these second pairings for another combative excursion ..BUT THIS TIME ON BOATS! There’s no plot here to speak of, Artemisia’s fleet tries to get a foothold on Greek shores but Themistocles’ meagre forces manage to utilise superior tactics to fend them off. Rinse and repeat.

Taking place before, after and during the events in 300, this movie really doesn’t feel like a sequel, prequel or remake. You can rightfully bemoan reboots and sequels all you like but at least the audience has some idea what they’re getting themselves in for. Rather than forging its own path, this movie essentially takes the formula of its predecessor but shifts the action to boats.
All too often we’re called back to the events of 300. “I came to see Leonidas.” “He is consulting with the oracles now.. you remember? That bit with the trippy underwater dance thing? Yeah, that’s happening right now.” “Do we have anything interesting to see while I wait?” “There’s a bunch of burly dudes punching each other in the face over there.” “Nah, I’m good.” Not to mention all the cameos. To expand on Artemisia’s story, she’s found and saved by the messenger from the first film – the guy kicked into the pit. No need for that whatsoever but it makes the audience think of the first film and everyone involved hopes that a modicum of that release will somehow rub off on this one by simply showing us archival footage. My favourite reflective moment was when they try to reminisce about 300’s most iconic moment (THIS IS SPARTA). The Queen explains to Themistocles that a Persian messenger came to seek terms but that he was rude and soon he learned that.. this is Sparta. The same absurd tactic is the reason I couldn’t get into Agents Of SHIELD; always banging on about ‘New York.’

Despite all the fawning over the original, there’s not a great deal of consistency here. Queen Gorgo silently weeps over her husband’s funeral pyre and resents Themistocles for entertaining the notion of pursuing the Persians. I don’t get that. The first film implied this was not only a woman of action and conviction but a Spartan: a race of individuals who live and breathe for war. The line, “Have we not given enough” seems hideously out of character. But then this is a film who’s casting calls are based solely on looks and the ability to shout and grunt while displaying finely-toned abs rather than.. you know.. act. The only person who somehow manages to get any acting done (outside of simply saying the line and hoping to God the words come out in the right order) is Eva Green but I’ll expand more on her performance later. With all these petty performances and little story for them to build on, the entire effort feels monumentally flat, leaving only the cinematography and computer generated effects to shine. There’s no denying the film is visually lavish; hyper reality history with impossible locations, sets and costumes but still they make for interesting production design. The fights are pretty well choreographed (providing you like that slow-motion emphasis on every single hit) and steer clear of any battle fatigue one may experience. Having said that, I’m kinda sick of the CGI blood spurts. I have no qualms with the quantity or graphic nature of globules of claret splashing everywhere but I cannot abide how fake they look. There is, however, one element that not only improves on the original, it’s actually very good by its own merit. I confess, I don’t care for the works of Tyler Bates, I find his music touches on some really interesting themes but takes the easy, familiar route rather than producing something noteworthy and truly memorable. Tom Holkenborg (I have no intention of calling him Junkie XL) on the other hand, is a more than capable individual who has been working in the background with the likes of Hans Zimmer and Harry Gregson-Williams and his score is genuinely enjoyable. The character themes are distinct, the tension builds beautifully, the chaos and discordance resonate with a beautiful harmony and the entire culmination is one of the only pleasing factors of this entire movie.

300: Rise Of An Empire is a one trick pony that plays to its sole strength as often and as solidly as possible. Considering the entire film is achieved in a green-screen environment, it’s undeniably very impressive. However, once you take that element out of the equation, you’re left with a weak and feeble release. The story is abysmal, the acting is ropey, the direction is basic mimicry and the editing is adequate at best. For a one hundred and ten million dollar production, that’s simply unacceptable. Sure the film will do well and it’ll happily make all its money back but I pray this franchise is dead and buried now. Let’s not revisit this same style on various time periods throughout history, let’s not try and bring it to a modern era setting, let’s just.. just stop now. Ok? The gimmick is pretty good but until you get a good story to selectively inject it into, why not set it to one side for the time being. Thanks.

Release Date:
7th March 2014

The Scene To Look Out For:
After being branded with overtones of latent homosexuality by deriders, critics and anyone with eyes, the sequel to 300 felt the need to establish itself as super manly, whilst including super manly hetero sex. This led to what can only be described as one of the worst sex scenes I’ve witnessed in big budget cinema in a long, long time. I hate sex scenes in films. I find them unnecessary, unrealistic, brief and pointless. This was an entirely different animal. What starts off a simple parley quickly evolves into a violent sexual ordeal with lots of grunting, shoving and.. most distressingly.. choking. I mean, not actual choking, they just grab each other’s necks a lot – something that I am convinced has originated in pornography. A few of the teenagers in the screening audience got extremely involved in the scene, leaning forward in the row in front of me and as the segment was reaching its climax, one of them couldn’t contain himself any longer and shouted (actually shouted) “Yeah! Choke the bitch!” I’m far from a prude and I’m not about to start harping on about the responsibilities of cinema but fuck me, that’s a bit of a shitty reaction. There’s a lot wrong with this movie but almost all of it could be excused or at least tolerated if it weren’t for this dismal display.

Notable Characters:
I like Eva Green. Underneath her raspy voice and constantly smoky eyes is an actress who is actually quite capable. I especially liked her in Kingdom Of Heaven and Franklyn but here she somehow manages to give both the best and worst performance of the movie. Ranging from enigmatic and powerful to campy and ridiculous. The film clearly benefits from her presence and in the hands of a lesser actor the final result would have been a lot worse and yet it somehow is.. in her own hands. Strange really.

Highlighted Quote:
“Sit on your golden throne and watch the battle from the safety I provide you”

In A Few Words:
“Pallid and unimpressive fare that mimics everything from 300 bar the charm. So very not worth it”

Total Score:


Cinema City Film Quiz #116

[02 March 2014]

Winning Team:
Revenge Is A Dangerous Motive

Genre – Fantasy adventure involving cats

Runners Up:
The Castration Of Jesse James By The Coward Roberta Ford
Genre – The clue is pretty much in the title
Genre – Baby making without Gravity in a lift
I Spit On Your Gravity
Genre – Steve McQueen relentlessly pursues the man who pillaged him
Revenge Is A Dish Best Served Cold
Genre – Suffragettes exact revenge on men who insist they belong in the kitchen by sabotaging meals
No Country For Old Women
Genre – Soft porn
Time Bandit Queens
Genre – Six cross dressing dwarves travel through time avenging people who look down on them
A Time To Chill
Genre – Lawyers on prozac

ROUND I: Pre-Production
1. Name the film in which Patrick Swayze plays a ghost.
2. How many Toy Story films have been made to date?
3. What is the name of Butch Cassidy’s partner?
4. Tony Stark goes by which superhero alias?
5. Who directed The Prestige?
6. Which actor was nicknamed The Duke?
7. What is used as a source of power in Monsters Inc?
8. The Breakfast Club was released in which year?
9. What type of animal is Dunston, in Dunston Checks In?
10. Who does Stephen the Irishman claim he can talk to, in Braveheart?

ROUND II: Filming [Films in which women exact revenge on men]
1. What was the title of the remake of I Spit On Your Grave? Look Who’s Spitting On Your Grave? I Spit On Your Grave? Grave Spitters?
2. When released as a single film (rather than in two parts), what was the subtitle of Kill Bill? The Bride’s Tale? The Whole Bloody Affair? The Vengeance Special?
3. What is the name of the fourth friend (played by Stockard Channing who dies at the start of the film) in The First Wives Club? Cynthia? Elise? Annie?
4. What is Carrie’s surname in the film of the same name? Collins? White? Nolan?
5. Other than black, which colour is seen most on the Jurassic Park poster? White? Red? Amber?
6. Who starred in the lead role in The Brave One? Nicole Kidman? Jodie Foster? Renee Russo?
7. Christopher Walken’s character in Batman Returns is named after the actor Max Schreck, who famously appeared in which silent film? The Birth Of A Nation? Nosferatu? The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari?
8. What is in the sack in the middle of Asami’s apartment, in Audition? Five cats and two dogs? A mutilated man? A bomb?
9. Which of the following served as a producer on Kick-Ass? Guy Ritchie? Brad Pitt? Robert De Niro?
10. In addition to the standard edition of Lady Vengeance, there is a Fade To White version, which starts off in full colour and desaturates as the film progresses until it is completely black and white at the end. True or False?

ROUND III: Post-Production
1. What does Kee name her new-born son, in Children Of Men?
DYLAN (named after Theo’s son)
2. The following quote is from which film, “Again we see there is nothing you can possess which I cannot take away”?
3. In (500) Days Of Summer, Summer and Tom’s relationship ends after watching The Graduate. On what day does this take place?
4. The Nite Owl killings in LA Confidential are named after what?
5. In The Shining, which letters of REDRUM are written backward? (one point per correct answer)
D / R
6. In 1989 Michael Mann directed L.A. Takedown, then remade it years later as what?
7. The memory erasing firm Lacuna Inc are the central company in which 2004 film?
8. What is the nationality of the deceased members of the second Antarctic research station, in The Thing?
9. What is the generic term given to the fictional flying cars seen throughout Blade Runner?
10. The consigliere is used several time in The Godfather. Spell consigliere. (one point if close, two points if accurate)

ROUND IV: Promotion & Release
1. Who played the title role in Dr Zhivago? Rod Steiger? Alec Guinness? Omar Sharif?
2. What is the name of the newspaper in Delicatessen? Bleak News? The Black Mirror? Hard Times?
3. How many minutes pass before anyone speaks in 2001: A Space Odyssey? 15? 20? 25?
4. What are Jeffries’ (played by James Stewart) initials in Rear Window? TD? LB? SC?
5. The following quote is from which film, “I never thought I’d live to see eighteen. Isn’t that dumb? Every day I look in the mirror and say, ‘What, you still here?'”? Sixteen Candles? Rebel Without A Cause? Varsity Blues?
6. What is the name of Sam Spade’s ill-fated partner in The Maltese Falcon? Fred Dobbs? Miles Archer? Philip Marlowe?
7. O Brother, Where Art Thou? is set in which year? 1937? 1939? 1941?
8. Who directed The Seventh Seal? Ingmar Bergman? Werner Herzog? Erich Engel?
9. In the Ealing comedy, The Man In The White Suit, what does Sidney Stratton (played by Alec Guinness) invent? Fibre that repels dirt? Radio for talking to God? The padded cell?
10. Whilst filming Angels With Dirty Faces, the six Dead End Kids once cornered Humphrey Bogart and stole his trousers. True or False?
TRUE (they stopped acting up when Cagney hit a few of them)

Screenshots: The Witches Of Eastwick / Thelma & Louise / Dead Man Walking
Poster: The Client
Actor: Susan Sarandon