Friday, 19 July 2013

Invasion Of The Beer Snatchers

Back in 2004 the world was introduced to the film stylings of Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and Edgar Wright with zombie comedy, Shaun of the Dead. Three years later they were back with police caper, Hot Fuzz. After six years of waiting, the third instalment of the Cornetto Trilogy is here. This is The World's End.

In June 1990, on the last day of school, five friends went out to celebrate. Their aim? To get through the golden mile - a selection of twelve pubs in one night. The group is made up of Andy, Oliver, Steven, peter, and their old leader, Gary. However, they only managed to make it through ten pubs. Jump forward to 2013 and Gary is adamant that the boys give it another go, though this time there may be more to worry about than just being sick or passing out. It seems a larger threat is present in the small town and the guys are going to have fight together, through all of their personal strife, to get to the last pub... Or even to survive!

'What happened last night?'

The only real way to understand the acting abilities of Frost and Pegg is to watch all three films in the Cornetto Trilogy back to back. The World's  End provides a complete role reversal for the two of them with Pegg becoming substance abusing screw up, Gary, who is obsessed with the legend he once was, and Frost playing a serious lawyer with a wife, job, and a seventeen year long sober spell. But with no context of their previous roles, you would believe this was their natural home. Pegg is completely reckless, stained by his disillusionment and does not show any real care for his friends, but somehow is still has a power over them. Frost is almost like your friend's dad. He seems nice enough and when he is mad, he still plays it fairly cool. The rest of the five musketeers are great as well. Freeman, an estate agent, is sensible and smart, often falling at the butt of jokes, but not afraid to fight back unlike Peter, played by Eddie Marsan. Peter is the weed. He hides from fights, but you get protective over him. His brief back story will no doubt hit home in many hearts through his wonderfully powerful, if not simple, performance. And Paddy Considine, as Steven, flicks on the line of the prick of the group and the most logical, perhaps because the audience are encouraged to view him from Gary's perspective - a rival for the ladies. 

'Fuck it'

Edgar Wright has proved time and time again that he knows what he is doing in film. Pegg and himself know no limits when it comes to writing a comedy that is completely a genre film, but also hilarious. The fight scenes, much like Wright's Scott Pilgrim, are beautifully orchestrated and choreographed in every detail. One particularly funny fight has Gary attempting just to get through his pint but constantly getting interrupted. The jokes work in every way conceivable. The physical comedy is the stuff of legend, the sight gags are extremely clever, and there is some inventive swearing that would make Malcolm Tucker proud. All this being said, it starts of a bit slow. Having five characters to introduce clearly proved to be a challenge. Once they get going on the adventure, it is constant fun, but it feels like the film needed to shift up a gear just a little sooner.

Despite leaving the already twice successful routine and heading in a different direction, The World's End has everything you could hope for from the final part of the Cornetto Trilogy. Comedy, the beating heart of friendship, barbie doll like creatures that splurt blue blood. It is a wonderful creation. And for drama nerds, keep an eye out for the scene that gets a bit Brecht.

Best Bit? All the fight scenes are wonderful. They're like watching painstakingly rehearsed dances.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

On The Airplane - Part 1: A.I.

There is almost a limitless supply of films in which artificial intelligence has reached a point bordering on humanity. Mostly, this does not have a good outcome. But what if robots did  not plan an uprising and instead served their purpose of assisting their owner and fulfilling their basic purpose. This is Robot & Frank.

Frank (Frank Langella) is a retired jewel thief. He has done his time in the slammer and now his memory is failing him. he can barely see his daughter Madison (Liv Tyler) and his son, Hunter (James Marsden), is always nagging him. Frank enjoys going to his local library to his friend Jennifer (Susan Sarandon) and he often shoplifts from a local store. That is until Hunter insists on buying him a robot companion to look after him. Frank, naturally, claims he needs no such help and wants nothing more than to get rid of the thing. However after Hunter gives him no choice, he finds the Robot (voiced by Peter Sarsgaard) has skills that will provide Frank with joy, assistance, and trouble.

The future of libraries... All digital.

With any film like this, there is a real challenge presented to the protagonist: the majority of their interaction is with an object. Langella pulls this off with absolutely no flaws. Advertised as a comedy, but Langella's performance is truly touching as well as side splitting. His comic timing is impeccable; every single gesture is planned and precise. This also applies to the more heart wrenching moments. We get an insight to all the aspects of old age from the enjoyable cynicism to the outright isolation and loneliness that comes with it. For Langella, it is something as simple as a swallow or a blink to portray every thought that crosses his mind. Almost a one man show that breaks every aspect of the emotional spectrum. A phenomenal performance.

'Well aren't we an odd couple!'

As a whole, the film is made incredibly. Visually, it is a joy; a beautiful blend of colourful comedy with dark, dismal drama. The soundtrack perfectly compliments the film, as it should do. The score is meant to emphasise emotions, not create them. But what prevails most here is the writing. Not just a well crafted script with a host of great dialogues, it is also one that evokes a range of emotional reaction from the audience.Grab a hankie, this comedy draws tears.

A wonderful piece of cinema that hits all the right spots. Touching, hilarious, and extremely well created. Open a spot on your favourite films list.

Best Bit? Watching two robots try to converse like normal humans is one of the funniest moments in cinema in a while.