So if you know me, then you know I like Shakespeare. Probably no surprise then that there’s one film version on the list, right?
Hands down it has to be Baz Lurhman’s crazy envisaging of Romeo and Juliet. The cast, the music, the look of it and I’d say pretty much ‘the everything’ are to love.
If Shakespeare’s language isn’t your thing then this probably won’t help you much, but if you’ve only ever tried reading it on the page then this might just change your view of the bard. As might the Richard Loncraine version of Richard III, which is also excellent, but Romeo and Juliet holds a special place for the success of the modern setting.
I still think it’s the best work that either Leonardo DiCaprio or Claire Danes have done and the use of music is inspired.
In a random bit of DVD hiring, I stumbled across a fantastic sci fi series called Real Humans (made in 2012). I’m only a few eps in so not sure how well it will progress, but thus far I’ve found it just so refreshing.
It’s not an action series, which is unusual enough for sci fi, but it’s also focused on what good sci fi should be… human responses to technology.
Set in an alternate now, where robots are revolutionising society, it explores the different impacts on humans through a series of human and robot characters.
It’s original Swedish title is Äkta människor.
Someone has found the ‘spear of destiny’, and the devil’s son is planning something big… but really this is Constantine’s story.
He’s a fighter for good; banishing demons and keeping the half-breed demons and angels in check with the help of his gifted friends. His is the only soul the devil will come to collect personally and the devil will come, because Constantine is damned.
A great story. Constantine is a great, tormented character. Gabriel is a very naughty angel. The devil, when we finally meet him is played beautifully by Peter Stormare.
The film has a good balance of humour, action, creepiness and drama. It has a solid cast. It also looks amazing, with almost everything staged like it would be drawn in a comic book.
Yes this is both a romance flick and a sports flick. Having said that, I should add that this film has an excellent script, a fantastic cast and it bursts with great characters.
So it’s more than a love story. It’s more than a ‘come-back’ story. It’s a really good light comedy about a man about to give up on his dream, and the difficulties of being an elite sportsperson for family, relationships and friendships.
It is also unashamedly upbeat.
Paul Bettany is just fantastic in this role.
I laugh every time I see it. I admit I do. Particularly when the new sheriff takes himself hostage in front of the whole town.
That scene sums up what you can expect if you’ve never seen this movie. It’s a classic Mel Brooks. You’ll either love it or hate it.
I love this film. It’s a gentle situation comedy with a sweet ending, which isn’t what you expect from movies about the mob.
When a low-level mob guy gets put on probation, he’s given the job of baby-sitting a man who’s about to admit to a crime he didn’t do. Of course the mob guy screws up and a lot of mistaken identity and lies follow.
Beautifully shot and with wonderful performances it’s a nice watch. If you’ve never seen it, check it out.
I like a good martial arts movie. One that has a good story to accompany the fighting, and I am a huge fan of Jet Li, so Once upon a time in China had to be on my favourites list.
The first of a series of films based on the life (loosely) of folk hero Wong Fei-hung, it is a romance, a story of martial art schools and a story of the disruption caused by the arrival of Westerners in China. With a little humour and some great choreography, I’ve found myself going back to it many times.
(If you’ve never watched historically set Chinese martial arts films, you really should give them a try. They have considerably more story than their insipid US counterparts, and a lot of them are very funny.)
Not everyone loves this movie as I do. It is a bit surreal, very silly and there are kittens in a pie. But oh how I love it.
Re-imagining Einstein as a Tasmanian apple farmer’s son who, among other things, splits the beer atom and invents rock-and-roll music it’s an unashamedly off-the-wall comedy. It also has one of the best uses of the 1812 Overture in a film.
And don’t worry, the kittens survive.
If you want to see excellent theatre, excellent acting and how Shakespeare can be given an accessible, modern staging without modernising the language, then go see Bell Shakespeare’s Henry IV.
I came away very impressed, and most of the chatter from the exiting crowd indicated I wasn’t alone. A simple grungy set. Live guitar and drums on stage. A really great use of costume. And John Bell doing an amazing Falstaff.
Falstaff – if you don’t know the play – is one of Shakespeare’s best comic characters. A devious, deceitful man who’s done his best to corrupt Henry IV’s son, Falstaff is funny and disgusting in equal measures.
But what I loved about this staging was the same actors playing multiple roles and doing it effortlessly. It’s a real joy to see such talent.
I tip my hat to Bell Shakespeare for making this a slightly gross (throwing up on stage, anyone?), totally un-politically-correct version. It’s also impressive to see actors doing such a long play (over 3 hours) with John Bell and Matthew Moore, who plays Prince Hal, on stage for almost all of that time.
Henry IV is one of my favourite plays (it’s actually two plays but often staged as a single work) because it’s a very funny drama. Not as outlandish as a lot of the comedies and not dire like many of the tragedies. And don’t be fooled, it’s not really about Henry IV – it’s about his son. While the action of much of the plot is driven by Henry IV’s actions, it is really the coming of age story of Prince Hal; the man who would be Henry V and beat the French at the battle of Agincourt.
For me personally, seeing Henry IV was a little nostalgic, as it was this same play that first introduced me to Bell Shakespeare many years ago. That version was the start of a love-affair with their productions. I thought it was great, but this new staging is remarkable.
It might seem like a bit of a cheat to bundle the original Chinese movie with the American remake, but in fact they are both fine versions.
When I saw Infernal Affairs, I thought it was a fantastic concept. Two young police officers start their careers. One is sent undercover into the world of organised crime and the other is on the payroll of those same criminals, essentially undercover as a cop.
The way the story plays out and the terrific resolution once they finally meet, makes this one of the best cop movies out there. Both versions show a fairly honest (I think) representation of violence, loyalty and conflict.
Aside from the core story, another interesting aspect to was the different ‘cultural’ endings. The Chinese version had two endings – the mainland unsurprisingly got an ending where justice prevails – but Hong Kong got a more ambiguous ending. The American version ends with, unsurprisingly, a bit of vigilante justice.
Personally I like the original better but the remake has a stellar cast. Take your pick.