World 1-1 Review

World 1-1 Review

World 1-1 is an amazing video game history documentary movie created by the team made up of Jeanette Garcia and Daryl Rodriguez, two awesome, young but thorough movie makers from Miami. Although World 1-1 automatically might make you think of the world start screen from Super Mario Bros., the film is actually about what I call the rise and fall of the original Atari (I would have probably called the film The Rise and Fall of Atari). The film covers the birth of video games from their origins in scientific labs, onto games being played on what at the time were time-shared supercomputers, to the creation of arcade video game machines, and onto the rise and fall of early video game consoles (video gaming at home).

world 1-1 movie poster

To say the film is thorough would be an understatement although the movie mainly focuses on arcade and console game development. Although I love this film a lot, I can criticize that it barely touches on what was going on in the home computer field, which although Nintendo saved the console gaming market (probably what World 1-2 will be about), home computers also saved video games and people’s interest in electronics and computers with great machines such as the Commodore 64, Atari computers, and later Commodore Amiga (much before IBM clones and DOS become popular).

Getting back to what makes World 1-1 so great, the film has many great interviews with not just most of the important people that worked in Atari and Activision but also many interviews by people who work in Microsoft (and other important companies) and many famous people in the video game world such as arcade specialists and many of what I consider to be experts in video game history. This movie is like entering a time machine and seeing what it was actually like to have worked at Atari. There are many great stories of crazy things that would happen or also recollections describing how many breakthroughs came about. Some of the interviews also talk about the important business decisions that took place both from the managerial perspective and how the engineers and the rest of the employees responded to such decisions. Just like everything in life all things must come to an end and the movie deals with the death of the original Atari corporation in a very classy and dignified manner.

I highly recommend you view the movie as part of what I call some of the best movies and shows in video game, internet, hacker, and computer history such as: Pirates of Silicon Valley, Micro Men, Middle Men, The King of Kong, The Social Network, TRON, Takedown, Silicon Valley, and Halt And Catch Fire. World 1-1 and those shows and movies are what I call to be essential to watch if you a true interest in video game history. Chances are that if you’re reading this you already have such an interest.

You can buy the movie directly from the creators’ website or you can even get it over at Steam.

If I have to give the movie a numerical score I would say it’s a 9.5 out of 10. Stop reading this and go watch it NOW! 🙂

Here is an interview we did with the creators from when they were trying to get the funding for the film:

Here is a further interview we did after it got funded. It talks more about the making of the film:

The Space Invaders: In Search of Lost Time

The-Space-Invaders

The Space Invaders: In Search of Lost Time

Director: Jeff Von Ward
Studio: Wooden Horse Productions
Released: 2013

Distributor: Amazon Instant Video – $3.99 (7-day rental) or $14.99 (buy movie)

Synopsis: The Space Invaders: In Search of Lost Time will take you inside America’s hidden game rooms and into the hearts and minds of those who have made it their mission to enthusiastically preserve these important cultural touchstones.

The-Space-Invaders

Let’s get straight to it – as an arcade junkie, this film well and truly fed my need for retro gaming nostalgia. Jeff Von Ward has created a masterful film in which he tracks down and interviews some serious arcade collectors, like Jon Jamshid, who has amassed an impressive 180 machines!

The collectors share their passion for preserving these historic machines and the connection you feel with them is instantaneous – from scoring their first machine, their real estate woes, to the lengths they go to seek their next arcade hit.

You will be amazed by the number of machines that are stored in basements and garages (as well as the stories behind them all!). You will be blown away by the dedication of these collectors and their respective arcade setup, especially Peter Hirschberg’s Luna City Arcade – an amusement heaven.

The-Space-Invaders

Interspersed throughout the film is some amazing archival footage, including Damon Claussen’s appearance (with his mom!) on the Starcade TV game show. The flow of this film, from start to finish, feels natural and just right.

From the moment I sat down to watch ‘The Space Invaders: In Search of Lost Time’, I did not move nor blink (that may be a slight exaggeration) until the last credit was shown. Whether you are familiar with the arcade machines or not, this film is for anyone that has a nostalgic bone in their body, or would just like to find out what makes serious collectors tick.

Verdict: ‘The Space Invaders: In Search Of Lost Time’ is a wonderful film that should not be missed. Mr Jeff Von Ward, you deserve an Oscar!

Jeff reports that the film has just been picked up by New York City based digital entertainment curator, FilmBuff. FilmBuff has successfully distributed niche documentaries such as ‘Exit Through the Gift Shop’ (the doc or anti-doc on Banksy) and ‘Super Size Me’.

The Road Review

The Road - Movie

The Road (2009)
Director: John Hillcoat  Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Robert Duvall, Charlize Theron, Guy Pearce, Michael K. Williams
Certificate: 15  Running Time: 107 Minutes

Tagline: “In a moment the world changed forever”

Let’s face it – as a race, we Humans are pretty stupid. For all our marvelous inventions and innovations, we still have all the violent and aggressive instincts inherited from our less-evolved relatives down through the ages and it’s only a matter of time before we end up destroying ourselves. A good few film-makers have had this notion before and the results have been mixed – for every Terminator or Mad Max there’s been a Steel Dawn or The Postman, but this latest effort comes from a very highly-regarded source. Adapted from Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer-prize winning novel of the same name, The Road is another post-apocalyptic drama, but rather than featuring wars or heroic deeds, this film is simply about a man and a boy and their struggle to stay alive.

The Road - Movie

Indeed, the cause of the devastation is never explained although it certainly doesn’t take us long to see what sort of state the world is now in. Some sort of natural disaster is a possible cause but it’s more likely the world’s idiotic leaders engaged in some sort of thermo-nuclear exchange, for the world inhabited by the unnamed Man (Mortensen) and Boy (Smit-McPhee) is a bleak, desolate, and grey one, largely without any hint of redemption. We see glimpses of Man’s past life via flashbacks, both shortly before and shortly after the ‘event’ which wiped out much of the life and all of the civilization on the planet, but a vast majority of the film follows Man’s efforts to lead his son down the road of the title to presumed safety at the coast.

The Road - Movie

Despite being devoid of animal or useful plant life for the most part, however, the world isn’t completely deserted. During their travels, in between foraging in deserted buildings for food or anything useful, they do occasionally encounter other people. Some are in a similar situation to them but others have more sinister intentions, including, of course, armed gangs looking to take food, possessions, even people by force. Being forced to live almost every moment in, at best cautious fear and at worst terror and despair, is something that’s hard to even imagine, but seeing the world through the eyes of Man and Boy, you can understand why his wife gave in a long time ago, and that’s testament to the amazing job by the filmmakers. There are plenty of cameos to be found here (an almost unrecognizable Robert Duvall is particularly good) but understandably dominating the screen time are the characters of Man and Boy, so they needed to be portrayed by top actors.

The Road - Movie

As most of us will know already, Viggo Mortensen is a consistently fantastic actor, and one who takes his roles very seriously, so it’s no surprise to find here that he is thoroughly convincing as Man who, while resourceful and intelligent, also struggles desperately to raise his son in completely unthinkable circumstances. Young Kodi Smit-McPhee, too, exudes both innocence and naivety as vulnerable Boy, but also seems wise beyond his years at times as well. This isn’t a film for the ‘graphics tarts’ – near enough the entire film is shot in gloomy shades of grey and brown, but the way the bleak landscape has been captured does a superb job of conveying the desperate plight faced by the protagonists. Buildings crumble, trees gradually topple, as the world gives up trying to support us and fades into nothing. The film does paint a terrifyingly convincing picture of what life really could be like in such circumstances. It’s hardly a feel-good film and it’s not too re-watchable either, but it’s so well made, and acted and packed with emotion, you’ll be hooked while it lasts.

[youtube width=”600″ height=”480″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hbLgszfXTAY[/youtube]

RKS Score: 8/10

Obscure Film’s Football Soccer Special

Green Street HooligansI decided to have a football night, watching 2 recent football themed films. First, Green Street Hooligans, the gritty realistic modern classic starring Frodo Baggins as an American who comes to England and joins the West Ham “firm” of football hooligans. Right. A couple of things wrong with that last sentence; I’ve watched hundreds of films, I have readily believed that a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away Mark Hamill could act. I have watched, spittle mouthed, as Rocky beats Mr.T (bad example as Lt. Barkley regularly knocked out Mr. T with a glass of milk, but I press on regardless). I have even believed that Battlefield Earth was an actual film, but Hollywood has pushed me too far this time.

They want me to believe that was a cockney accent Charlie Hunnam had in this film? Mother of god… Think Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins trying to impersonate a Eskimo and your nowhere near how bad his accent is. It’s a damn shame, it completely detracts from what otherwise was a decent film.

The basis of the story is actually not very far from a real modern classic, Fight Club and examines the thrill of the fight and honor amongst thieves. Sure, it’s predictable, you know in the first 2 minutes what’s going to happen in the last 2 minutes and it feels tacked on, but the middle bit is enthralling.

But, if you want to talk about predictability, let’s have a butchers at the second film Goal! The Dream Begins. It seems America is pulling out all the stops to try and get the massive cash cow that is professional football a foothold in the States. They tried Prime Time TV, they have tried introducing it into the college curriculum, with little success.

Bring on the Hollywood.

I am not going to insult your intelligence here. A poor Mexican illegal immigrant boy with asthma from L.A. with football talent has a shot at the big time, with a chance to play for Newcastle United (any cracks about big time and Newcastle being in the same sentence will be duly ignored). You can fill in the rest. You seriously can. Think of any cheesy rags to riches cliche you want, I can virtually guarantee it’s in there somewhere.

I can see the planning meeting for this film.

Director: It’s a story about an All American who becomes a soccer star.
Studio Mogul: Yeah, you know we kinda tried this years ago with Stallone, he played a, what they call them, Goal saver? In that war film, Bridge over River Kwon? Whatever, anyway it did nothing for soccer.
Director: Kwai?
Studio Mogul: Why? I don’t know why, probably because Steve Mcqueen didn’t make the jump.
Director: It was the Escape to Victory, McQueen was in The Great…
Studio Mogul: Shut-up. Look we are looking for a film about football that appeals to the mass market, all American boys? Nobody likes them, We need to decrease his image.
Director: OK how about a poor American boy?
Studio Mogul: Good good, Okay I think we need to increase his ethnicity 30%.
Director: Alright, how about a poor Mexican immigrant American boy?
Studio Mogul: We’re on the same the wave length here, make him an Illegal immigrant.
Director: OKay.
Studio Mogul: There’s still something missing, we are not appealing to the differently abled market, the statistics show those cripples make up 10% of our audience, that’s big bucks, you think we could make him an amputee?
Director: Um, probably not, how about we give him asthma?
Studio Mogul: Perfect. OKay, Adidas wants him to kick the winning goal in the last minute of the game of the last game of the season that will win them the world series.
Director: It’s set in England, in the domestic league, they only play teams that play England, not the rest of the world.
Studio Mogul: Your point?
Director: Can’t we stick with the original plot were the bloke who plays the new Umpa Lumpas is now the leading hard man of Milwall’s firm, storms the pitch and breaks the stars legs? Nobody is going to believe that he kicks the winning goal in the last minute of the game of the last game of the season that wins that wins them the world, I mean takes them to Europe? It’s Newcastle for Chrissakes!
Studio Mogul: You’ve seen Rocky? Now get on with it!

Anyway, all that said, its chock block full of cameos. The matches are shot well and I ended up punching the air when he, oh wait, I’m not going to spoil the twist at the end.

I enjoyed both of these films and recommend you to see Sin City at your earliest convenience.

Pirates of Silicon Valley movie review

Pirates of Silicon Valley movie review

Steve Jobs and Bill Gates

If you care at all about computers or technology or business or the future, this is a movie you MUST watch. The movie goes hand in hand with other amazing technology business movies such as Micromen and The Social Network. This movie shows you how the megacorps we know as Microsoft and Apple started, according to writer and director Martyn Burke. It was also based on the book “Fire in the Valley” written by Paul Freiberger and Michael Swaine. I’m not saying it’s exactly what happened, but it’s close enough. I used to obsess as a kid wanting to know the exact details of the true history of something but I’m not a time traveler so such details no longer bother me.

It’s easy to watch the movie as they have multiple copies of it on youtube.

The movie shows two camps: Apple with its technology loving engineers and hippie turned businessman turned devil and Microsoft with its college nerds who love to play poker and jocks turned executive geniuses. You get to see Steve Jobs go from this rebel non-conformist into him signing over his soul to the devil to then becoming the devil himself. Gates is just ambitious from the start and his ambition never wanes.

Like all pioneers, nobody at their time took them serious or understood what they were trying to do. They were creating a revolution in technology, in the way we live our lives (especially if you’re a computer person like me). Think about where we would be without the personal computer. Even the things that came after, like cell phones, smart phones, laptops, mp3 players, the internet, social media… none of that would be possible without the work of engineers and businessmen such as these. I’m not saying they were the definite cause for all this but they were major contributors. We must also accredit other people such as all the fine people at Altair, Commodore, Atari, Nintendo, IBM, Sega, Sinclair, Acorn, and more.

Back to the movie… The movie shows both sides eventually doing whatever it needs to get ahead. The movie is not called The Super Nice Nerds of Silicon Valley, it’s The Pirates. Yes, they WILL cut your throat if you are in their way to success. Now, I’m not saying they’re as evil as wall street or the banks that just robbed the world, but they’re no saints!

A recurring theme in the movie is to get people to want what they don’t really need necessarily, which you might not even have yet but you want them to want it, creating demand (and getting the money to get it made).

One of the most important scenes is at the 1977 tech show when Gates tries to talk to Jobs, explaining what they were doing at Microsoft, only to get blown off by him, which in turn starts part of their war against each other.

The best part of the movie is probably when Microsoft sells DOS to IBM. I’ll let this clip speak for itself:

The other best scene of the movie is when Apple gets the GUI from Xerox. I couldn’t find a video of that clip to post here. It is also really interesting when an Apple employee confronts Gates telling him that instead of Apple thinking IBM is big brother that they don’t realize that Microsoft is their true enemy. He points this out to Jobs while he was trying to woo the Apple employees during a conference by showing them the famous 1984 Apple commercial.

Microsoft had the foresight to see that without software the hardware did nothing. Sure, you could have the most incredible monster machine but if nobody can do things with it, who would buy it?

Gates reminds me a lot of myself. He is characterized as being a very good poker player, the kind who will never let you know how good or bad of a hand he has and will make you make the wrong decision. Especially in the beginning, he uses a strategy of making you think that he has many business deals going on, when in reality he had none. Both sides did that actually. He got in trouble with the law, especially speeding (that’s me!), and doing other crazy things (not so much me, well, actually…) such as wrecking his friend’s car. Throughout the movie and in real life, he is a very competent negotiator.

Steve Jobs was just evil to me all throughout the movie. In real life, I still don’t like him, which is funny because I hated everything Microsoft for many years when I was younger, but in reality I didn’t like how he reacted to being informed at the number of record suicides at the Foxconn factories, which make a LOT of Apple products. The transformation this movie shows goes from stoner hippie to egoist pioneer to evil business genius. I just think he’s a real asshole. Through the movie he kept denying that his daughter Lisa was actually his.

Throughout the movie, the characters I enjoyed the most were Steve Wozniak (the Woz) and Steve Ballmer. I felt bad for the Woz because he just wanted to create and then he had to deal with all the drama and bullshit from Jobs, as well as seeing Jobs putting down people and destroying the Lisa. Woz was always trying to do the right thing, like not fuck his friends out of stock or treat employees like subhumans. I felt terrible for him when he quit the company after Jobs had pretty much created a civil war inside Apple (Macintosh vs everything else). Ballmer was just a total trip. He was this crazy jock that would always have the common sense, especially when it came to getting girls, that Bill Gates and Paul Allen did not have.

As a movie critic I give this movie a score of 7 out of 10. As a computer geek I give this movie a 9 out of 10. I think Micromen was a much better movie, about a similar topic. The music selection throughout the movie is excellent and I was really shocked by this as this was a made-for-TV movie. Noah Wyle as Jobs just blew my mind, which you might know as the science teacher from Donnie Darko. John DiMaggio was great as Ballmer, which is a real treat because he is usually known for his voice work in cartoons such as Futurama and also voice work for many video games.

Go watch it.

Get Lamp

Get Lamp

Get Lamp,  is a documentary about video games. Old video games. Mostly old video games. Mostly old video games that do not sport graphics and are not to be played on consoles. Actually and to finally get to the point, it’s a documentary about a very special kind of text-only video games: interactive fiction (or text adventures). A documentary about the most literary and rewarding form of digital gaming so far and the only genre to truly and fully challenge ones imagination and intellect.

What’s more, Get Lamp is a brilliant and quite impressive -both in scope and execution- documentary, that, carrying on with the themes of impressiveness and brilliance, also makes for a rather great movie. After (not so) extensive field testing I can actually assure you that even people who couldn’t care less about any form of interactive entertainment whatsoever, thought it was fascinating and were actually moved to give Infocom’s Planetfall a try.

Get Lamp was directed and produced by Jason Scott, the same person that was responsible for the BBS Documentary, and the same person that apparently traveled throughout the US in a quest to conduct almost a hundred interviews, that were eventually molded into the basis of the documentary. Among the interviewed, you’ll find such impressive names as Don Woods, Scott Adams, Ian Bogost, John Romero and almost everyone from Infocom, as the movie takes viewers on a mostly chronological trip through the history of interactive fiction, stopping only to focus and expand on the important bits, in what can only be described as an excellent whole. This main feature comes in interactive (something like a simple but well-implemented choose your own adventure thingy) and non-interactive flavors and covers the genesis, rise, fall and current evolution of the genre.

[youtube width=”600″ height=”480″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRhbcDzbGSU[/youtube]

But you think I’m over-reacting, don’t you? Well, I could be, though the truth is that Get Lamp is very well shot, masterfully presented and quite extensive in its coverage. It also sports some amazing production values, filling two DVDs with hours of greater and smaller features and featurettes, comes in a beautifully illustrated case (complete with a fantastic coin), features a written intro on text adventures by Scorpia, and even provides gamers with more than a few interactive fiction offerings and a variety of other digital goodies. Oh, yes, and everything is fully subtitled too.

Actually, the only thing lacking and my main gripe -both regarding the main feature and the tons of extras- is coverage of the European and generally non-US text adventure. Now, I do understand that traveling to Europe would have been far too costly, but the omission of Magnetic Scrolls, Level 9, Zenobi, Delta 4, Gilsoft and a variety of other classic publishers and developers was quite a bit disappointing, especially as Get Lamp is such an immensely enjoyable and frankly brilliant offering.

To grab your own copy of Get Lamp, simply follow this very link to its official website. Anyone ever interested in interactive fiction will simply have to own the thing.

The Secret Of My Success

The Secret Of My Success - Movie Screenshot

The Secret Of My Success (1987)
Director: Herbert Ross  Starring: Michael J. Fox, Helen Slater, Richard Jordan, Margaret Whitton, John Pankow, Christopher Murney

Certificate: PG  Running Time: 106 Minutes

Tagline: “There’s no such thing as an overnight success. Brantley Foster took two weeks”

I’m sure most of us had a pretty good idea of what we wanted to do after school or college but those lofty career aspirations don’t always work out how we planned. A similar problem befalls the star of this feel-good 80’s comedy. Landing the lead role fresh from the success of Back to the Future, Michael J. Fox stars as Brantley Foster. Aiming to escape the confines of the Kansas farm on which he grew up, Foster graduates from college and moves to New York after lining up an apartment and a decent executive position. After arriving for his first day at work, however, he finds himself laid off before he’s even started after his new employers fall victim to a hostile takeover. Having no luck with subsequent interviews elsewhere, his last chance is to ask him uncle for help, Howard Prescott (Jordan), who just happens to be CEO of the Pemrose Corporation…
The Secret Of My Success - Movie Screenshot

After impressing ruthless ‘Uncle Howard’ with his determination, he lands a job in the company mail room where he becomes friends with Melrose (Pankow), but finds himself longing for one of the executive ‘suit’ positions instead. He soon starts reading the company memos he’s been delivering and finds that the company is apparently not being run very well. When he chances upon a ringing phone in a newly empty office (thanks to a recent Howard firing), he seizes his chance and assumes the identity of a new executive, Carlton Whitfield! Now struggling to manage two jobs at once (amusingly switching between appropriate sets of clothing in the elevator), he must evade the suspicious eye of mail room boss, Rattigan (Murney), keep his alter-ego secret from Howard, and all the while trying to fend off the affections of his amorous aunt, Howard’s wife, Vera (Whitton), and win the love of financial expert and ‘fellow’ executive, Christy (Slater – Supergirl).
The Secret Of My Success - Movie Screenshot

Yes, it all sounds like fairly typical 80’s tomfoolery, and it does require a certain suspense of belief for much of its duration, but fortunately it has a decent enough cast to save it from potential mediocrity. The charms of Michael J. Fox were already well known by this point after his popular turns in Family Ties and Back to the Future and this role could’ve been (and probably was) written for him. It doesn’t take much for him to get you on his side you’ll have great fun while there as he flits back and forth between his two personas, talking business and cracking droll jokes with equal aplomb. The other standout character for me is that of ‘Auntie Vera’, featuring a fabulous turn from Whitton with her continual (not to mention inappropriate!) lusting after her nephew (don’t worry, they’re only related by marriage!).

The Secret Of My Success - Movie Screenshot

Helen Slater, previously best known for playing ‘Supergirl’ (chortle) is also great as Foster’s love interest (or rather, the one he’s interested in!) and the two have good chemistry. At first cold and serious, she gradually warms to his affections while Richard Jordan, who also has designs on her, is pretty amusing as the company’s slimy and ruthless yet ineffective leader. John Pankow is likeable enough on best friend duties too but Fox is the star of the show here and he’s… well, the same as usual really! That’s no bad thing though, it’s almost impossible not to like him in any of his roles and this one is certainly no exception, it’s just a shame his on-screen career was cut so short.

The Secret Of My Success - Movie Screenshot

Likeable characters are important in any film but how much you enjoy this film depends largely on your ability to look past the obviously implausible plot points. Luckily for me, I know little of the subjects at hand which makes it easier for me to ignore the liberties taken by the writers, and the result is one of my favourite films. The fantastic soundtrack also helps, featuring 80’s classics like ‘Walking On Sunshine’ and of course ‘Oh Yeah’ by Yello (which plays during a superb ‘late night sneaking around’ scene involving the four main characters) and lots of other great songs, all of which add even more charm. Yes, it’s a bit silly and yes it’s not terribly realistic, but it’s a damn funny and hugely enjoyable piece of fluff and one of the best feel-good movies around.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cot5rEGcDek[/youtube]

RKS Score: 9/10

The Tourist

The Tourist - movie screenshot

The Tourist (2010)
Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck  Starring: Angelina Jolie, Johnny Depp, Paul Bettany, Timothy Dalton, Steven Berkoff, Rufus Sewell

Certificate: 12A  Running Time: 102 Minutes

Tagline: “It all started when he met a woman.”

Angelina Jolie is hot. There, I said it. You probably weren’t aware of that until I just mentioned it but it’s actually true. You’re lucky I was considerate enough to enlighten you too as it’s this hotness which seemingly forms the basis for The Tourist, which, incidentally, is also a remake of French film, Anthony Zimmer. And therein we already have a problem. To say Hollywood has a patchy history as far as remaking films is concerned would be putting it mildly, but French films seem to suffer this fate even more than most (witness the horror of the ‘Taxi’ remake for proof of this). Combine this with the alarming amount of flip-flopping around the goodness-knows how many directors and stars did, joining the project then leaving soon afterwards, and it sounds like The Tourist was a disaster waiting to happen. With the likes of Jolie and Depp attached now though, it can’t be that bad surely?

The Tourist - movie screenshot

As you might expect, given its origins, there’s certainly an intriguing premise here. Apparently a master criminal, Alexander Pierce, is on the run after having stolen $2 billion from a British gangster. Scotland Yard is eager to catch him as they want a sizable chunk of his swag as tax and have charged Inspector John Acheson (Bettany) with catching him. In his crosshairs at the start of the film is Pierce’s (ex?) girlfriend, Elise (Jolie). Hoping that he eventually makes contact with her, they watch her like a hawk as she goes about her daily routine in Paris, and it seems they’ve got their break when she receives a letter, apparently from him.

The Tourist - movie screenshot

Knowing that the police suspect he has altered his appearance, he asks her to take a particular train to Venice and “find someone my height and build and make them believe it’s me”. As you may have guessed, Elise’s subsequent stroll through the train culminates in her attaching herself to Frank Tupelo (Depp), an American travelling alone after the breakup of his marriage who, we must assume, looks rather like Pierce. He is instantly drawn to Elise (as is every other male in the entire universe if this film is to be believed!) which immediately brings him to Acheson’s attention, not to mention that of Reginald Shaw (Berkoff), the gangster searching for his missing loot along with his various henchmen!

The Tourist - movie screenshot

Whether it’s a good film or not, there’s one thing about The Tourist that’s impossible to deny – it sure looks nice! Jolie and Depp are hardly the most horrifying actors to look at under normal circumstances but here they’re decked out in some very classy attire for the most part, especially Jolie. Pretty much every scene takes place in some gorgeous location or highly ornate set too, from Paris and Venice themselves (the latter of which looks particularly stunning) to swanky hotel suites and restaurants, a posh ball (the dance kind, not the spherical kind). Hell, even the Scotland Yard offices feature a nice fusion of elegant, antique furniture and high-tech computers and devices!

The Tourist - movie screenshot

Unfortunately, however, the aesthetic splendour of The Tourist is pretty much the extent of its creative endeavours. It’s basically a pretty chase movie, but since the chasees spend much of their screentime together, they really need to have good chemistry and regrettably they do not. Jolie (complete with passable English accent) is a picture of refinement throughout but that’s about all she does, while Depp, occasionally bordering on Captain Jack tomfoolery, is initially convincing as the out-of-his-depth tourist of the film’s name, but seems to grow accustomed to his predicament a little too easily. Everyone else is just along for the ride really, with the possible exception of Shaw. While maybe a bit stereotyped, he does also have a genuinely menacing air about him. Maybe the problem with the The Tourist is simply that it looks so nice, the rest of it couldn’t hope to keep up. Actually that’s a bit harsh, but it could’ve been so much better, and I didn’t like the ending at all. Watch it to give your eyes a treat, but don’t go in expecting an intelligently-crafted thriller. They seem to have left that in France.

[youtube width=”600″ height=”480″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5XtbLezJtMg[/youtube]

RKS Score: 6/10

The Runaways

The Runaways Moive Review
The Runaways (2010)

Director: Floria Sigismondi Starring: Kristen Stewart, Dakota Fanning, Michael Shannon, Stella Maeve, Scout Taylor-Compton, Alia Shawkat, Riley Keough

Certificate: 15 Running Time: 106 Minutes

Tagline: “It’s 1975 and they’re about to explode”

The 70’s must’ve been a fascinating time to live. Granted, I saw some of its years but I was far too young to notice anything much and had to discover it all later on. Among these things was music. A lot of music. The decade is now remembered for many reasons but one of the prevailing legacies of the 70’s is not only the number of talented musicians to emerge, but also the amount of innovation and new styles that appeared. The end of the decade is probably most famous for the punk explosion but their preceding years were also notable. I’m sure pretty much everyone has heard of Joan Jett but I for one was far less aware of the band in which she previously performed – The Runaways.

The Runaways Moive Review

She was pretty much born to be a rock star. From an early age it was Joan Jett’s (Stewart) ambition to form as all-girl rock band, and after intriguing record producer, Kim Fowley (Shannon), with the proposition after a chance encounter, it starts to look as if she may get the chance. Elsewhere, the vulnerable, 15 year-old Cherie Currie (Fanning) is busy dealing with her difficult home life as best she can, including entering a school talent show as a glammed-up David Bowie. Meanwhile, having added a drummer and bassist to Jett’s guitar skills, Kim is on the lookout for a ‘Brigitte Bardot’ style frontgirl. As luck would have it, she just happens to be among the revellers at a nightclub where Joan and Kim are scouting for suitable candidates.

The Runaways Moive Review

And so began The Runaways. From their first rehearsal in a small trailer to their first tour to their first record deal… it’s all captured here in glorious period detail. Obviously their story is greatly condensed, and some liberties have been taken with the subject matter, as confirmed by the real Cherie Currie in a recent interview. The trio of Jett, Currie, and Fowley dominate the screentime with remaining band members Sandy West (Maeve), Lita Ford (Taylor-Compton), and Robin (Shawkat) relegated to the sidelines somewhat. However, some delving reveals at least part of the reason for this. West sadly died in 2006, so obviously couldn’t participate in the film, Ford refused to participate, and Jackie Fox apparently wasn’t even asked to for some reason, and didn’t appear in the film – the fictional character of Robin was created in her place.

The Runaways Moive Review

Given the prominence of the three main characters in the film, and the challenging roles they were required to perform, their casting could make or break this film. Happily, they are all outstanding! Shannon is superb as the slimy, lecherous Fowley but it is the girls who are most impressive. Kristen Stewart is of course the girl of the moment, what with the huge success of the Twilight films, but she’s been acting a lot longer than that. She really looks the part as born rebel, Jett, and her dedication and determination to see her dream reach fruition is clear to see. Even more impressive is Dakota Fanning as Cherie Currie, the author of the book on which the film is based. I don’t know about anyone else, but the last time I saw her, she was a young girl of 11 in War of the Worlds. It was a good bet she’d soon turn into an attractive young lady, but the transition seemed sudden. Here she is strutting her stuff in lingerie, singing sexually provocative songs (and yes, it is her singing), and even sharing a girl-on-girl kiss. Her immense talent as an actress has been evident since she was half the 16 years she was when this was filmed, but it’s still strange that it even is her we’re watching. She should go a long way.

The Runaways Moive Review

The birth, rise, and inevitable fall of The Runaways is well known to some and unknown to many, but regardless of your knowledge of the 70’s music scene, it’s a interesting story from a fascinating time. Sure, stories like this have been done to death but this is definitely one of the better band biopics around. The quaility of the acting alone is worth the price of admission here, but director and screenwriter, Sigismondi, has skillfully recreated a slice of the 70’s here with a fantastic atmosphere (helped by the soundtrack, of course). Yes it feels a bit rushed, and if you have no interest in music from the era, the acting along may not hold your attention by itself, but the majority of viewers should enjoy this one a lot.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHpEJ749TRM

RKS Score: 7/10

Whip It

Whip it - Movie Screenshot

Whip It (2010)
Director: Drew Barrymore Starring: Ellen Page, Alia Shawkat, Drew Barrymore, Juliet Lewis, Kristen Wiig, Marcia Gay Harden, Jimmy Fallon, Eve, Zoe Bell, Landon Pig, Carlo Alban, Ari Graynor, Andrew Wilson, Daniel Stern

Certificate: 12A  Running Time: 102 Minutes

Tagline: “Be Your Own Hero”

She’s been entertaining us in one way or another for most of her life, whether by her acting or her ‘extra curricular activities’, so I suppose it was inevitable that the delightful Drew Barrymore would eventually turn her talented hand to directing. But what sort of film would she choose? A romantic comedy like The Wedding Singer? Brainless action like the horrific Charlie’s Angels? Or something similar to one of the many serious drama’s she’s starred in? Actually, no. It turns out to be something quite different. Something akin to the small-town American indies of which I’m so keen, but most other people haven’t heard of.

Whip it - Movie Screenshot

Whip It is set in the world of the Roller Derby, which, to be frank, is a sport I had never even heard of before seeing this film. Nonetheless, it’s an amateur contact sport practised primarily by women and contested by two teams of five each. Four players from each team begin racing around the oval track before the remaining member of each team known as ‘jammers’ start from further back. The jammers then have to race round and round the track attempting to pass as many members of the other team as possible. The players on that jammer’s team attempt to clear a path for her while the opposing players try to stop them. For each opponent successfully passed, that team scores a point.

Whip it - Movie Screenshot

At the start of the film, however, Bliss Cavendar (Page – Juno) had no more idea what Roller Derby was than I did. She is a directionless 17-year old living in a small Texan town called Bodeen. She is shunned by the ‘cool kids’ at school, has an unsatisfying job in a fast-food restaurant called the ‘Oink Joint’ where her only friend, Pash (Shawkat – Arrested Development), also works, and she has no real interests or goals. Her mother, a former beauty queen, pushes her into entering pageant after pageant, and she goes along with it despite not really caring about them. During a shopping trip with her mother, however, Bliss encounters some roller derby players distributing fliers.

Whip it - Movie Screenshot

Immediately intrigued, she and Pash lie to their parents and travel to Austin to watch the roller derby clash between arrogant champions, the Holy Rollers, and perennial losers, the Hurl Scouts. After meeting Hurl Scout, Maggie Mayhem (Wiig) after the derby, she is invited to attend a tryout. After a bit of practise she attends the tryout where she discovers she is one of the fastest skaters around and is offered a place on the team! The only problem from here is trying to improve the losing attitude of her new team and dealing with the building rivallry with Iron Maven (Lewis) and her Holy Rollers. Around the same time as all this, she meets budding rock star, Oliver (Pigg), at an after derby party with whom she immediately hits if off. However, with so much of her time now being taken up by her new pursuits, her friend and parents are forced to take a back seat.

Whip it - Movie Screenshot


As I said, I had no idea what a ‘Roller Derby’ was before I encountered this film, but if it’s anything like this, it looks pretty damn entertaining! It’s an interesting subject on which to base a film, and Drew Barrymore, who also has a co-starring role as fellow Hurl Scout, the violence-loving Smashley Simpson, looks like she’s having a fantastic time, both on-camera and off. The diminutive Ellen Page is as lovable as always (okay, maybe not Hard Candy!) as Bliss, showing once again she’s more than just a little cutie – despite her being a bit selfish, she’ll still have you cheering her all the way. Whilst perhaps a little sterotyped, Pigg also does a decent job as confident, brattish rock singer, Oliver.

Whip it - Movie Screenshot

The main players are all well supported too. I’ve long been a fan of Juliette Lewis and she’s bang on form here as the cocky and ruthless star player, Iron Maven, and the other players including Eva Destruction (Graynor), Bloody Holly (Bell – Death Proof), and Wiig as Bliss’ new friend, Maggie Mayhem, are all great fun to watch. Before you ask, yes there are some males in the film too, although not many! Andrew ‘brother of Owen and Luke’ Wilson is the Hurl Scouts team manager, Razor, who takes great pride in his ‘playbook’ (which of course the team dismiss as nonsense) and event compere, Johnny Rocket (Fallon) has a lot of fun with his innuendo-laden commentaries. Bliss’ parents (Stern and Harden) do a lot with their limited screen time too, with the latter suffocating Bliss with her controlling ways while her father just sits back, happy to let his wife be burdened by her. Lastly, lovely little Alia Shawkat has grown up a bit since I last saw her in Arrested Devopment but she’s still endearing and makes a great ‘best friend’ as Pash. Hope to see more of her soon.

Whip it - Movie Screenshot


The bottom line is, I watched this film because I liked Ellen Page in Juno and was intrigued to see Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut, plain and simple. I’m not sure what I went in expecting, but this definitely wasn’t it! However, to say I was pleasantly surprised in an understatement – the events depicted are entirely inconsequential to all but those most directly involved, but that doesn’t stop this film from being an absolute joy to watch for it’s entire length. This is exactly the kind of film I like – well cast, good acting, decent story, etc, but beyond all that, interesting, earnestly portrayed characters that you actually find yourself caring about. Special mention must also go to the absolutely fantastic soundtrack. As is often the case with movie soundtracks, you’ll probably not have heard of half the bands here, but the songs are almost all great and perfectly selected for their scenes, with the roller derby songs in particular suiting the action to a tee.

Whip it - Movie Screenshot


So, Drew Barrymore’s career as a director is off to a damn good start. Considering those involved, I was expecting this to be a pretty entertaining film, but it ended up being an even more thoroughly enjoyable 100-odd minutes than I thought, and one that I’ll undoubtedly sit through many more times! I’m sure it won’t appeal to all – it’s not a sugar-coated chick-flick or a gun-laden blokey action film. What it is, though, is the best film

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQGPdXnb2Gg
I’ve seen this year so far…

RKS Score: 9/10

Always movie Review

Score: 9 out of 10

I randomly found this lost 80s gem by Steven Spielberg and it is well worth the watch.

Check out the Always trailer here:

The movie is a remake of the 1943 movie A Guy Named Joe but Jesus, what a remake. The premise of the movie is that there is a team of pilots who help fight forest fires with their airplanes by flying their planes as close to the top of trees as possible and they rain down on the fire to help ground fire fighters. What ends up happening is that the main character Pete Sandich (Richard Dreyfuss) is in love with his tomboy sweetheart Dorinda Durston (Holly Hunter) but their life gets shattered when Pete’s airplane explodes after he helps save the life of his best friend Al Yackey (John Goodman). Pete dies but another dead soul Hap (Audrey Hepburn) explains to Pete that to resolve the karmic cycle he must help out another soul just as another dead spirit helped him become the ace pilot he was. He is charged with helping out the newbie pilot Ted Baker (Brad Johnson) which is kind of a goofball, which also happens to fall in love with his old girlfriend. Quite a dilemma. Nobody can see Pete but he can influence crazy people, animals, and people indirectly by inspiring them if his ghost gets emotional enough.

What a premise for a movie! Sure, people have seen and for many years thought Ghost (1990) was probably the best ghost love movie of all time. I would disagree with them. This movie has the Spielberg charm and style all over it. Many, many scenes have that classic style of shot that seem almost like a painted picture, like a work of art. Let’s just say that if you are a fan of Spielberg, especially 80s Spielberg’s films and works such as the Indiana Jones ones, E.T., Amazing Stories, and Empire of the Sun, you will love this film.

This movie was magical. Hey, I’ll admit it. It made me cry and hey, they sure don’t make movies like this anymore. Since I watch everything, including stuff that you wouldn’t expect a bitter person like me to watch, if you are a girl I would say put this movie in the same group of movies as obviously Ghost (1990), P.S. I Love You (2007), Somewhere In Time (1980), What Dreams May Come (1998), and The Time Traveler’s Wife (2009). Maybe even the Notebook (2004). Still it does feel more like a really long episode of Amazing Stories. Sort of like the movie episode for Amazing Stories, the one called The Mission (1985).

I found this to be the most moving performance by Richard Dreyfuss for a movie that was everything except a straight up drama. I would classify this movie as being an action movie, comedy, fantasy film, and drama. It has something for both male and female viewers of all ages and there are many things one can learn and feel by watching it. Yes, a kid might not know how to deal with death but it is a fact of life and this movie shows death in a great light. Death is not always the end, it’s sometimes the beginning, and sometimes it’s a chance to put things right, even if nobody living will know about it. Would you love somebody enough to lose them? To let them go?

Always 1989 Richard Dreyfuss is a ghost

Limitless Review

Limitless Movie Review by Honorabili

Score: 8 out of 10

First, the trailer:
I’m hesitant to post the trailer because it pretty much ruins the movie. It doesn’t really ruin the movie to the point of giving away the ending BUT it does include scenes showing part of the ending so if you’re like me in the sense that you can usually extrapolate what the whole movie is about, do not watch it. The trailer is the following, if you are still curious about it:

The story consists of a struggling alcoholic science fiction writer that through a coincidental encounter with his ex brother-in-law, which is a drug dealer, he gets access to an experimental drug that lets you unlock one hundred percent the potential your brain has rather than using the measly ten to twenty percent that we all do. Think of it like Flowers For Algernon except that instead of him being literally retarded he is an above average, although unmotivated, individual who is boosted even further.

The director’s style keeps a really good pace as there pretty much is never a dull moment in the movie. Although there are other science fiction movies out right now, like Battle: LA and Sucker Punch, this movie I found to be more exciting than those. The movie feels more like a modern day Twilight Zone episode then let’s say an Outer Limits one.

Limitless movie Bradley Cooper Eddie Morra

There are a few parts that you might think “Oh well if he’s so smart how come he hasn’t thought of this” but the movie covers its bases well as it continues. I get pretty critical of movies where the character has super intelligence yet they haven’t yet done the first thing I thought of with my inferior brain. There are just about two plausible endings for a story like this and the movie does pick one of these rather than leave you confused and questioning what you just saw.

The movie does engage you and does make you think. Would you take a shortcut to become successful? Would you do it even if it endangered your life and maybe the lives of the people around you? Are you smart enough to outsmart entire organizations that have more power than you but might not be as clever? How far are you willing to go for success? How would you feel about yourself if the only way you were really successful was by taking something that turned you into a super genius? Who can you really trust if you have something that will make anybody succeed in life but most others will want to get their hands on, at any cost?

I did like that the movie correlated intelligence and motivation as one of the main factors a person needs to succeed in life as opposed to just coming out with one idea, whoring it out, and being an asshole like many other movies do, like Middle Men or The Social Network, which are both movies I love.

Anyways, before spoil the movie for you, if you have to watch a movie in the movie theatre this weekend, this is the obviously good movie for you to watch, and if you’re reading this in the future, I would say at least rent and view this film. Some of you might even want to add it to your film collection.

Robin Hood

 

Robin Hood - Movie Poster

Robin Hood (2010)
Director: Ridley Scott Starring: Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, Mark Strong, Alan Doyle, Scott Grimes, Kevin Durand, Danny Huston

Certificate: 12A Running Time: 140 Minutes

Admittedly I don’t buy the movie magazines like I used to but this one seemed to pop up out of nowhere for me! Once I found out about it though, the expectation and excitement immediately began to surface. How could they not? What film fan wouldn’t be at least intrigued by the prospect of another Ridley Scott / Russell Crowe collaboration to begin with, let alone a Robin Hood one? Perhaps it would end up being a big ol’ Summer Blockbuster along the same lines as the fantastic Gladiator! Or would it be a more cerebral piece like American Gangster? One things’s for sure – anyone expecting a retelling of the classic tale is in for a surprise, for the yarn this film spins is in effect a prequel to that oft-told legend.

Robin Hood - Movie Screenshot 1

It’s fitting really that, what with the influx of comic-book, superhero films since the last Robin Hood film came out, you could consider this an ‘origins’ film of sorts! The story, you see, harks back to the days of Richard the Lionheart and the Third Crusade. When the King (Huston) is killed in battle while returning home to England, the party sent to take his crown home is ambushed by Sir Godfrey, a traitorous English knight who has French allegiances. Stumbling across the aftermath of the attack having recently gone on the run is an archer by the name of Robin Longstride (Crowe) and some of his friends, Allan A’Dayle (Doyle), Will Scarlett (Grimes), and Little John (Durand). Amid the bodies they find a wounded knight called Robin Loxley who, in his dying breath, asks Mr Longstride to return his sword to his father in Nottingham. Taking up the identity of his fallen namesake, he and his friends set course for home.

Robin Hood - Movie Screenshot 2

Before taking the sword back however, Robin must deliver King Richard’s crown to the Royal Family whilst hoping his ruse isn’t discovered. There, he witnesses the coronation of the arrogant and ruthless King John who immediately sets about imposing his will on all and sundry. Once Robin arrives in Nottingham he meets Loxley’s now-widowed wife, Marian, and his aged but wily father, Sir Walter Loxley, who asks Robin to continue impersonating his son in order to protect the family lands from new taxes imposed by King John. And so, whilst attempting to maintain this deception, he finds himself becoming increasingly involved in the affairs of those around him, and as he does so he ends up further and further down the path that lead to him becoming the legendary hero that we all know today.

Robin Hood - Movie Screenshot 3

To be honest, this isn’t the film I was expecting it to be when I first sat down in the theatre. As far as I’m aware, there are two versions of the Robin Hood legend doing the rounds. One has him as an aristrocrat turning to crime after losing his wealth. The other has him as a commoner taking up the fight to help those around him. This film goes the way of the latter, making him a lowly archer in the Plantagenet army before becoming embroiled in matters beyond his control, resulting in unintended outlaw status. I’m sure both versions would’ve made entertaining movies, but I think the route the filmakers have opted for here allows the audience to better like Robin and even identify with him to some extent, with Russell Crowe putting in his standard high performance. He portrays his Robin as humble and honourable yet courageous and holds the screen as well as always. His friends (the future ‘Merry Men’) don’t get a great deal of screentime but are likeable too and provide him with frquent opportunities for entertaining banter.

Robin Hood - Movie Screenshot 4

Talking of characters getting little screentime, the traditional Robin Hood bad guy, the Sherriff of Nottingham (played by Matthew MacFadyen) gets barely a handful of minutes with which to make an impact, but his performace is promising for any potential sequels. Getting far more screentime as far as bad guys are concerned are Marc Strong as the sneering (and scarred, of course) Sir Godfrey, the traitorous English knight, and Oscar Isaac as the slimy Prince/King John. The latter in particular makes full use of his screentime and ends up with the most memorable Scott bad guy since Emporer Commodus. Slightly surprising is the choice of Maid Marian. Far from the elegant lady of privilege seen depicted elsewhere, this Marian is a humble, downtrodden wife struggling to manage the family farm in her husband’s absence, and Blanchett plays her as such – a tough and strong-willed, yet world-weary woman.

Robin Hood - Movie Screenshot 5

So, it’s a fairly unorthodox take on the Robin Hood legend all in all, and I’d say it’s better for it. Scott’s direction is near flawless as always, and the script by Brian Helgeland, one of my favourite screen writers, is for the most part top notch. I wouldn’t really say this was a typical summer blockbuster – it’s probably a bit too grown up to be comfortably labelled as such, but it’s definitely a top quality, action-packed adventure, and the surely-inevitable sequel could be even better!

RKS Score: 8/10