Tag: Jodie Foster

MOVIE REVIEW | Inside Man (2006)

Inside Man

“More like taking a shower with two guys named Jamal and Jesus, if you know what I mean.”

Spike Lee has made some amazing movies, like Do the Right Thing, and Malcolm X and The 25th Hour.  He’s also made some real shit bombs, like Miracle at St Anna and Girl 6.  But good or bad, I always think of Spike Lee as a dude who makes “Important” movies.  Spike Lee doesn’t have things he wants to say with his movies, he has things he wants to shout with this movies.  Which is why Inside Man has always struck me as such an anomaly in his filmography.   Without seeing the actual movie, the trailers made it look like too much fun to be a Spike Lee joint.  Too much of a genre, suspense or even action movie to be a Spike Lee Joint.  Too much of an escapist piece of pure entertainment to be a Spike Lee joint.  All of these things make it sound like a really enjoyable movie.  Which is why it’s only taken me nine years to finally watch Inside Man.


Addressing the camera, Dalton Russell (Clive Owen) lets us know that he planned the perfect bank robbery.  A perfect bank robbery that we see played out as Russell and his men invade a bank one morning, dressed in painter’s overalls and masks.  Forcing their hostages to wear matching overalls and masks, the idea of identity and mistaken identity is immediately setup as the key to his plan.  As robbers and hostages are constantly mixed, matched and mingled, the robbers are able to disappear into the crowd in some way before the heist is even complete. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***AFI WEEKEND*** #52. Taxi Driver (1976)

“The American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Movies was selected by AFI’s blue-ribbon panel of more than 1,500 leaders of the American movie community to commemorate 100 Years of Movies”. Every weekend(ish) during 2015, I’ll review two(ish), counting them down from 100 to 1.

 Taxidriver3

“Someday a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets.”

Martin Scorsese has a real knack for bringing iconic characters to the screen.  Joe Pesci’s benefitted from this more than once, Daniel Day Lewis and Leonardo DiCaprio have several each under their belts, and there are notable one offs like Ray Liotta and Willam Dafoe.  But one man is responsible for more memorable Scorsese characters than anyone else.  Robert De Niro steals Mean Streets from Harvey Keitel, he won the Oscar for Raging Bull and is one of the most bizarrely sympathetic, terrifying, and goofy characters ever committed to film in The King of Comedy.  But above all of those, one De Niro role in a Scorsese movie reigns supreme; Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver.


Plagued by headaches and insomnia, Travis Bickle (De Niro) takes a job working 12 hour shifts, six days a week, driving a cab. This is 70s New York at its dirtiest, seediest and most dangerous, and Bickle is one of the few drivers who’ll go to any neighbourhood and pick up any kind of passenger.  The people and places he sees fuel monologues about the filth of the city needing to be washed away.  But he does see the odd bright spot, including Cybill Shepherd as Betsy. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***AFI 100*** #74. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

“The American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Movies was selected by AFI’s blue-ribbon panel of more than 1,500 leaders of the American movie community to commemorate 100 Years of Movies”. Every weekend(ish) during 2015, I’ll review two(ish), counting them down from 100 to 1.

 Silence

“You know what you look like to me, with your good bag and your cheap shoes? You look like a rube. A well scrubbed, hustling rube with a little taste.”

Airport book level thriller.  Over the top, trashy story.  Big acting, cheap thrills and the most pedestrian level of shocks. The Silence of the Lambs has all of that.  It also has five Oscars to its name.  And for all of that cheap, trashy over the top B-grade schlock, it more than deserves all of those Oscars and has aged amazingly well.


A serial killer nicknamed Buffalo Bill is on the loose, killing and skinning young women.  Jack Crawford (Scott Glenn) of the FBI decides that the incarcerated Hannibal “the Cannibal” Lector (Anthony Hopkins), a psychological genius, might be able to help them profile and find Bill.  Crawford assigns the job to fresh FBI recruit Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster).  In their first meeting, Lector is almost immediately inside her head and playing mind games. (more…)

***2013 RECAP*** MOVIE REVIEW | Elysium

Elysium-Movie
In 2009, Neil Blomkamp had a dream debut in the world of feature film making.  After seeing Blomkamp’s short film Alive in Joburg, King of the Movie Geeks, Peter Jackson, helped produce a feature length version that became District 9.  District 9 went onto great financial success, great geek success, and most impressively, great critical success.  Something as sci-fi and genre-riffic as District 9 rarely gets Oscar recognition outside of technical awards.  But here was Blomkamp, one film in and receiving Academy Award nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture.  So now, four years later, in the lead up to the release of his follow up, Blomkamp has been under just a little pressure to really deliver with Elysium.  And he does.


If you’ve seen District 9, you know what you’re getting yourself into with Elysium.  That’s not to say I found Elysium derivative of his debut, or a rehash.  What I mean is, Blomkap made such a real, convincing world with District 9, and has such a unique style and vision, that I feel like the two films are set in the same universe.  A Universe where the titular space station that motivates the people of run down Los Angeles in Elysium could almost exist on the other side of the same world as the Prawn populated slums of Johanessburg in District 9.

But enough of the District 9 comparisons.  Elysium is its own movie and shouldn’t be stuck under its predecessor’s shadow.  Matt Damon is Max Da Costa, a former orphan and former car thief who is trying to stay on the straight and narrow, working a mind numbing factory job, building robots that seem to have taken any other job someone like him might be eligible for.  It’s the year 2154, the “Haves” live on Elysium, a Garden of Eden space station of clean air, green grass, crystal clear water and a mansion for every person, complete with medibeds that can cure any injury or illness.  The “Have Nots” are stuck with Earth.  Dirty, desolate, smelly, slummy, depressing old Earth.

After an accident exposes Damon to massive amounts of radiation, he realises the only way to prove his five day life expectancy wrong, is to get onto Elysium and into one of the all curing medibeds.  The local black market and cyber kingpin, Spider, recruits Damon for one lost black market job that will lead him to Elysium and a cure.  Damon scores a super sweet exo-skeleton for added strength while also scoring a totally badass nemesis in the form of Kruger, a mercenary played by District 9’s Sharlto Copley.  Working for Elysium’s Secretary of Defence, Jessica Delacourt, played by Jody Foster, Copley is one of the most terrifying bad guys I’ve seen in a movie in a long, long time, and a million miles away from the bumbling, reluctant hero he played in District 9.

The story and sci-fi inventions of Elysium are a little complicated and convoluted at times, but in a good way.  It’s the kind of movie that makes you work a little, but the pay offs make that work more than worthwhile.  Some people have said they were disappointed by Elysium compared to District 9, but I’d put them on par.  District 9 made Neil Blomkamp someone who I was interested to see what he did next.  Elysium puts Neil Blomkamp on my list of directors whose movies I’ll see regardless of genre, stars or subject matter.

Elysium
Directed By – Neil Blomkamp
Written By – Neil Blomkamp

MOVIE REVIEW | Elysium (2013)

Elysium-Movie
In 2009, Neil Blomkamp had a dream debut in the world of feature film making.  After seeing Blomkamp’s short film Alive in Joburg, King of the Movie Geeks, Peter Jackson, helped produce a feature length version that became District 9.  District 9 went onto great financial success, great geek success, and most impressively, great critical success.  Something as sci-fi and genre-riffic as District 9 rarely gets Oscar recognition outside of technical awards.  But here was Blomkamp, one film in and receiving Academy Award nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture.  So now, four years later, in the lead up to the release of his follow up, Blomkamp has been under just a little pressure to really deliver with Elysium.  And he does.


If you’ve seen District 9, you know what you’re getting yourself into with Elysium.  That’s not to say I found Elysium derivative of his debut, or a rehash.  What I mean is, Blomkap made such a real, convincing world with District 9, and has such a unique style and vision, that I feel like the two films are set in the same universe.  A Universe where the titular space station that motivates the people of run down Los Angeles in Elysium could almost exist on the other side of the same world as the Prawn populated slums of Johanessburg in District 9.

But enough of the District 9 comparisons.  Elysium is its own movie and shouldn’t be stuck under its predecessor’s shadow.  Matt Damon is Max Da Costa, a former orphan and former car thief who is trying to stay on the straight and narrow, working a mind numbing factory job, building robots that seem to have taken any other job someone like him might be eligible for.  It’s the year 2154, the “Haves” live on Elysium, a Garden of Eden space station of clean air, green grass, crystal clear water and a mansion for every person, complete with medibeds that can cure any injury or illness.  The “Have Nots” are stuck with Earth.  Dirty, desolate, smelly, slummy, depressing old Earth.

After an accident exposes Damon to massive amounts of radiation, he realises the only way to prove his five day life expectancy wrong, is to get onto Elysium and into one of the all curing medibeds.  The local black market and cyber kingpin, Spider, recruits Damon for one lost black market job that will lead him to Elysium and a cure.  Damon scores a super sweet exo-skeleton for added strength while also scoring a totally badass nemesis in the form of Kruger, a mercenary played by District 9’s Sharlto Copley.  Working for Elysium’s Secretary of Defence, Jessica Delacourt, played by Jody Foster, Copley is one of the most terrifying bad guys I’ve seen in a movie in a long, long time, and a million miles away from the bumbling, reluctant hero he played in District 9.

The story and sci-fi inventions of Elysium are a little complicated and convoluted at times, but in a good way.  It’s the kind of movie that makes you work a little, but the pay offs make that work more than worthwhile.  Some people have said they were disappointed by Elysium compared to District 9, but I’d put them on par.  District 9 made Neil Blomkamp someone who I was interested to see what he did next.  Elysium puts Neil Blomkamp on my list of directors whose movies I’ll see regardless of genre, stars or subject matter.

Elysium
Directed By – Neil Blomkamp
Written By – Neil Blomkamp

MOVIE REVIEW | Manhunter (1986)

manhunter_fl

Michael Mann is possibly the most 80s director of the 80s.  Even though he only made three features in that decade, as the executive producer of the Miami Vice television series, he can take much of the blame for the clichéd look of the era that has been used in so many clichéd punch lines in the years since.  Watching Manhunter made me realise how familiar I was with his style of film making, without having really seen that much of Michael Mann’s work.


Probably most famous for being the Hannibal Lecktor movie before The Silence of the Lambs, Manhunter, based on the novel Red Dragon (not the confused with the Lambs sequel of the same name), follows an FBI agent, played by William Peterson, on the trail of a serial killer.  Also like Lambs, he hopes to use the incarcerated Hannibal Lecktor (Brian Cox) in his persuit.  Unlike Lambs, Peterson already knows exactly who Lecktor is, because he’s the one who caught him and put him in prison.  Where Jodie Foster was scared of the unknown of Anthony Hopkins’ Lecktor, Peterson already knows everything he ever can about Cox’s Lecktor and even has the scars (literal and emotional) to prove it.

Because this is Michael Mann in the 80s, the score is littered with synthesiser drones and each scene is drenched in a strong colour filter to let us know which side of Peterson’s world we’re dealing with at any given moment.  Subtly is not really a big concern of Mann’s and here every aspect, acting, dialogue, camera, editing, is turned up to eleven to make sure he gets his point across.

Peterson, the conflicted FBI analyst still reeling from is time chasing Lecktor gets to show his emotions by literally screaming his feelings and outrage when piecing together how his latest prey carried out his crimes.  His latest prey, known as the Tooth Fairy, is played by a creepy as shit Tom Noonan.  He’s somehow way more disturbing then Buffalo Bill in Lambs without getting as many blatantly horrific things to do.  Sure, Mann lets the Tooth Fairy pursue and seduce a blind woman for added menace, but even without that, he’s legitimately terrifying.

Despite being a flop on release, Manhunter has built a bit of a reputation as the better of the Lecktor movies.  In some ways I agree, Cox’s Lecktor is more subdued than Hopkins’, but in being so, loses some of the fun that added to the threat of Hopkins’ incarnation.  Jody Foster definitely gets a more interesting role to play as the protagonist than Peterson.  Peterson knows what he’s up against and has already been damaged by it.  His story is all about redemption and getting some control back.  Foster gets to play the wet behind the ears rooky.  Being so out of her element and more and more blown away with each revelation about by who she’s dealing with makes her a more relatable audience surrogate.

But it’s biggest achievement?  While everything about Manhunter screams 1980s, it still somehow manages to have a timeless quality to much of it and you can see why film studios keep going back to the Lecktor character and these stories.

Manhunter
Directed By – Michael Mann
Written By – Michael Mann