Saturday, October 31, 2009


Yes I'm a bit late in seeing half these movies....that's half the point I suppose.

Anyway, as most people already know (as I did) Seven is a disturbing psychological thriller starring Brad Pitt (David Mills) and Morgan Freeman (William Somerset). More importantly, it stars Kevin Spacey (yay) who is always great, even when he's playing a chilling, bald psychopath called John Doe. John Doe decides to kill seven people in seven days in seven ways using the seven deadly sins - culminating at, you guessed it - 7pm on the seventh day.

I'm not a huge fan of psychological thrillers because so many of them are fluff, but this one was *good*. The smaller parts (and by this I mean onscreen time) are well acted and reasonably well developed. Paltrow was truly lovely as Tracy Mills. She was immediately likeable and sympathetic, not the usual bland and forgettable 'wife' character whose name you don't even notice. Spacey, as the killer, was good of course. It's a fine line to walk when playing someone as sadistic as John Doe, he needs to remain just that little bit understandable for it to work.
And frankly you have to like it just a little when the killer plays the 'chorus' for a few minutes and you're a wee bit silent because *some* of the stuff he says in between the crazy talk, is true.

Seven is mostly about how crap the world is. Somerset, Mills and John Doe are like a triangle of reaction to this crapness. Mills is the typical gungho, slightly naive, leap before you think type who still ultimately believes it isn't all quite so bad, Somerset is like one big sigh of resignation and John Doe is 'screw that, let me show you just how bad it really is and let me enjoy showing you'. In other words, you can fight it, stop caring, or go insane. Or in the case of Seven, fight it until those who've already gone insane, break you down.

Is it all really this much doom and gloom? Well yes. No one wins except maybe John Doe just a little, and the world really is full of people overdosing daily on those seven deadly sins. Of course it's also about perspective - Doe's insanity means he can't quite understand that being a little vain, being overweight and being a hooker, is not quite as bad as torturing and maiming to make a point about how nasty we all are.

Unlike most movie killers, Doe doesn't have a backstory or an identity. He literally skins himself so he has no fingerprints, he's that gungho about remaining all mysterious. The lack of backstory works because of our very annoyingly human need to know why why why.... the fact we can't even really begin to understand how someone gets to be like this makes him more terrifying, not less. Interestingly it is Mills (Mr. Enthusiasm) who doesn't care why, whereas Somerset (Mr. Sigh) always has. Perhaps we all walk the same triangle and end up at different points depending on what happens to us or where we are in life.

Overall, Seven is a great movie - gruesome, cerebral and chilling in all the right places.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

8 Mile

Geezus, how did this movie get such (reasonably) positive reviews?

Now I freely admit I can be a sucker for a crappy movie. Book snobby I am, movie snobby I am not.

Yet this??

What was wrong with it...? Did I care about Rabbit? No. He just looked sullen a lot. In fact, I have no idea what his smile looks like. His mother was a nicely done cliche of white trash. His ex girlfriend? Well we don't care about her because we saw nothing of her. Brittany Murphey's character? She has sex with him and pouts a lot....great.

The real point is, I didn't care about any of them. I laughed out loud at the seriousness of two grown men staring each other down for 2 minutes, GLARING at each other....and then instead of having a punch up, they basically try to out do each other with rhymes.

I'm not anti rap, I'm really not, but come on. You've got to see the funny side of human beings when they go around punching each other up because one guy thinks up words quicker than the other guy.

Yes yes, I know there are significant cultural and social problems behind such behaviour and behind the movie. Poverty isn't funny! But I am not going to cry over some white rapper trying to get out of a trailer and into a record store.

And more importantly, it was *boring*.

Basically this is just like one of those awful 'dance' movies but with Eminem and a lot of motherfuckers.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Jasper Jones - Craig Silvey

With a zillion blogs out there reviewing novels, music and the like, it can be difficult at times to know if your opinion is actually....your, opinion.

So without sounding particularly clever or unique, these are my thoughts. This review *does* contain spoilers.

Jasper Jones is not really my kinda novel. It's set in 1960's Australia, and is basically a whoddunnit/coming of age mix of Twin Peaks (who killed Laura Palmer, sorry Wishart??), To Kill A Mockingbird and Stand By Me.

Jasper Jones is narrated by Charles Bucktin, a likeable teenage boy who is approached by Jasper Jones one night at his bedroom window. Asking Charlie to follow him into the bush, Jasper reveals a very very dead teenager called Laura Wishart, hanging from a tree. As Jasper is half white, half aboriginal and considered the town naughty boy, he understandably (and rightfully) predicts that he will be blamed for her death. The boys decide to sink Laura to the bottom of the river and go looking for the real murderer, and things go from there.

There are lots of things to like about the novel. As many have already said, the banter between Charles and his Asian best friend Jeffrey Lu, is often very funny. Cute little passages about who really is the best superhero, Batman or Superman, punctuate the novel and really do ring teenage boy-true. Jeffrey is a little cliche and one-note in his characterisation, but he's so likeable and well drawn, that you can forgive Silvey for that.

Jasper himself, who is the misunderstood outsider, is flat and one dimensional. Other than the fact he was happy to sink his girlfriend's body to the bottom of the river to save his own ass, he never does anything remotely controversial, interesting, or surprising. He's so good that he's boring.

Charlie himself is more rounded. I don't always know what he's going to think or do....other than talk a lot.

One of the reoccurring themes in the book is the burden of knowledge, common to most coming of age stories of course. After Charlie sees what he cannot unsee, he goes to the library and ends up reading countless stories about murderers and crimes. Like everyone who suddenly realises the world can be a very shitty place, Charlie wants to know why. But there are no real answers, and the revelation of what really happened to Laura on the same night he finds out a few unsavoury parental secrets, serve to swiftly end Charlie's childhood.

Overall, the read is pretty quick and entertaining, I just couldn't really get too excited about it.