Category Archives: G

Review: Gyo : Tokyo Fish Attack

Gyo : Tokyo Fish Attack is certainly one of those films that you get to the end of and think ‘well…that happened’. There is an awful lot of weird stuff going on here. I mean, aside from the fish growing metal legs and invading all the major cities of Earth. I mean, it might be a treatise on the global issue of overfishing, but then again, it might be about the dangers of genetic modification, it might all be Americas fault, but then, maybe it is saying war is terrible. One thing is for certain though, as with most good horror movies, having sex is a cardinal sin and no one can blame your friends for abandoning you to your fishy grave when you engage in carnal pleasures. Or can they? 

The basic premise here is fish, and…octopuses (octopi?) have somehow spouted legs and are invading the land. They obviously want to eat all the humans, or this film would just be about how awesome post invasion sushi became, but more than this, they infect anyone they touch with a terrible virus that condemns them to a big ‘ugly mess’ death. The dominant themes are friendship, love and our moral obligations to each other in the face of a giant fish invasion. But to be honest everything is so unresolved and weird that it could mean anything really. Watch it for the badass sharks eating stuff on dry land then spend a good hour trying to work out what it all meant.

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Guardians of the Galaxy

I, like most other people I think, rather enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy. It is an almost vomit inducing happy movie. It is all about being friends, even if your friends are homicidal cyborg type people, little furry things, and big strong guys. It is all led by a typically good looking guy with nice hair, but we’ll forgive them that – can’t stray too far from the ideals now. The story isn’t overly complicated, good looking guy has something which a lot of bad people want, and he has some chums who help him keep hold if it. There is never any real peril, even when it seems as though everyone might die they are not really that close to actually dying. Just getting a little frosty or shot or put in goo or blown up or whatnot. It’s a feel good movie that ramps up its feel good by pretending to be all irreverent and ‘Footloose’ but in reality is about vague notions of inclusivity and being nice to people, all lovely fun concepts for everyone to embrace. Fun fact, Vin Diesel plays a giant tree type guy who only says one (or two) words throughout the whole film. Must have been the best pay check ever.

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The Grand Budapest Hotel

Wes Anderson has this film making thing locked down. He has realised that, no matter how much money you have to spend on making things look pretty, looking pretty doesn’t always mean looking realistic. As a consequence there are all sorts of fantastic and magical settings in the film, the fictional Republic of Zubrowka has something of the fairy-tale about it, Ludwiggian castles and paper cut clouds. It’s not the real world, but it’s a beautiful place to visit. The story is equally whimsical, it has interesting things to say about loyalty and friendship, fascism, folly and greed, but these things come second to the story. It’s an adventure that would fall into the category of epic were it not about so few people. Ralph Fiennes plays M. Gustav, a man who delights in the pomp and unashamed aesthetic of the world that he occupies, able to see through its slight ridiculousness and remain in the face of all things polite, kind and gentlemanly. By his side though, and the real star of the story is Zero (Tony Revolori) who begins the story as Gustavs humble lobby boy, and ends it his saviour. The best thing is Revoloris straight faced acceptance of all that goes on around him. Above all though, this is the first film I have watched in a while where I didn’t want it to end.

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The Guard

The Guard strikes me as the sort of film critics describe as ‘a gem’, a suitably non committal phrase utilised primarily when there is a clear realisation that something is good, very good, but when the writer has absolutely no idea really why that is the case. Critics do, overwhelmingly, love this film, as do I. However if you read their reviews they are completely all over the place in terms of how they are speaking about the film. This is because The Guard is a kind of genre smorgasbord, a vague whiff of detective movie, buddy pic, fish out of water story, action comedy, it has a little of everything. Bleak jokes about the IRA, murders and murderers, as well as a default weather somewhere between cloudy and just about raining means no one is discussing this in purely comedic terms, it probably has something to say about just about every pressing cultural and political issue in Western Ireland, though I’d be hard pressed to weed out all those references. Equally, it does follow a fairly traditional buddy pic formula, but there is ample time for an out of his town FBI agent to get resolutely disheartened with his surroundings. I think we need to think about it in a new way. The film is good because it is a good, not because it is good at being anything in particular. Maybe every review of the guard should just read ‘Very, Very, Good.’ At least then there would be a better quote for the poster than ‘A Raucous Comedy’, which ironically is about the only genre driven assessment of the film which seems incorrect.

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Grey Wolf : Hitler’s Escape to Argentina

‘Grey Wolf : Hitler’s Escape to Argentina’ is the least enigmatic title you’ll hear today. It is a docu-drama about, you guessed it, Hitler’s supposed escape to Argentina at the end of WWII. He didn’t die you see, in a move that marks him as significantly more cowardly than his (actual) course of action, he ran away. What a little shit. Needless to say, there are quite a lot of issues with this film. Starting with the obvious, that title. It leaves nothing to the imagination. Now, we live in a post Titanic world, whilst that film serves as a bastion of predictability in a volatile world, at least that wasn’t actually called “Titanic : It sinks”. To help out the film makers when they try to tell this film overseas I have come up with a few better potential titles. They are as follows: ‘HITLER : ALIVE’ – Short, to the point, and straight up scary, I’d watch this in an instant. ‘Return to Castle Grey Wolfenstein’ – To get the early 2000’s video game crowd interested, they are all grown up now and never met anyone to reproduce with (because: gamer stereotype) so have all the money. Finally, ‘Hitler’s Summer Kampf’ – which beside being in brilliantly bad taste is significantly better than ‘Grey Wolf’ which sounds like an action movie with an aging cast, plus the laboriously boring “Hitler’s Escape to Argentina”. If you are going to make an exploitative, ridiculous film like this at least name it
appropriately. One doesn’t need to watch the film because clearly its going to tell me that Hitler, fully the most hated man of WWII, didn’t in fact die in a bunker as his reich collapsed around him, but went and escaped to Argentina. He really, probably, almost certainly, probably, didn’t. There is an attempt to imply that the FBI were aware of all these nefarious goings on and let it go. One was not fully paying attention at this point (snoozing) but it is safe to say, the reasons given fall under the category of farm waste. The second issue with the film is perhaps a little more nuanced. It is based on a book, which apparently is far more detailed, as if more detail were needed in the telling of this annoying little story, which in turn relies in the eye witness testimonies of … eye witnesses. The film is structured in such a way that each of these eye witnesses basically voice overs their section of the story, so there is pretty much zero diagetic dialogue. This has two side effects. The first is that every time a new person starts speaking their name is written across the screen, even if we have heard them eight or nine times. The second, far more vexatious side effect is that, aside from the voice over, it is essentially a silent film, with exactly the sort of over zealous, flamboyant acting that silent films are famous for. Hitler’s friends in Argentina come off like a sort of collection of incongruous clowns, mugging and gesturing at each other as if emotion can only be conveyed via the medium of over zealous facial expressiveness. Finally though, what it comes down to is Hitler. No one is a fan of Hitler. I mean, say one was in the pub, slightly half cut, and woozily leans over to ones chum and stating “Hitler didn’t kill himself you know, he went to Argentina and lived there in a big old house then died… like, when he was old. He went all mad with the guilt and that as well”, thats interesting, thats a conversation starter, thats a way to awaken you and your drinking aide from an alcohol induced intellectual fug with a rousing “No bloody way, who says? there is no way that is true” before googling it to find out that only four ‘eye witnesses exist’. The point is, it doesn’t, shouldn’t, take 94 precious minutes to convey this idea. If it is true, so what? The asshole escaped justice by offing himself anyway, and the film implies that whilst he was shacked up in a pretty nice place in Argentina he hardly lived the life of riley even if he didn’t end it all in 1945, what with everyone in the world hating him, being betrayed by his own men, and generally losing his mind (one hopes from guilt). Telling this story isn’t going to make anyone feel any better about the man. Lets go back to that title attempt: “Grey Wolf: Hitler might have escaped to Argentina, where he died”. Now you don’t need to watch the film.

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Gravity

It is an unprecedented situation, my anger at a film has becomes so all encompassing that I feel I must return to it a second time in light of new and disturbing information. This piece contains spoilers. My original issue with the film was the disconnect between the apparent care and attention given over to carefully constructing the space craft, and the complete disregard for any sense of a realistic storyline. Since a discussion with a work colleague about the potential physical impossibility of Kowalski (Clooney) floating off into space like that, I found my suspicions confirmed by this article http://www.vulture.com/2013/10/astronaut-fact-checks-gravity.html alongside all manner of other darker implications. Now this astronaut says he actually quite liked the film in spite of these inconsistencies, but I wonder if he would have felt the same way if he realized Ryan Stone was a space assassin? Of course none of this will argue that it is not an amazing story of survival against the odds, but it might make you question why Stone was in space at all. It all really stems from the moment when she lets Kowalski go, to float into space and eventually suffer a horrific, cold, airless death. Bullshit I hear you call, even if the characters forward motion had been stymied and they could simply have pulled themselves back to the ship, and even if Kowalski would simply have floated in a stationary position when he was let go he did tell Stone (Bullock) to let him go, Stone is no assassin. I have also since been reminded that even if Kowalski had farted it wouldn’t have provided the thrust to send him careening off into space, it would merely have stunk up his space suit. So lets look at the facts. We know from later in the film that Stone is especially susceptible to hallucinations when she is running out of oxygen – and this is certainly the case when she is in this life or death situation. It is possible that here she is simply hallucinating a serene calm Kowalski, when the reality is that his is shouting to her “don’t let me go, please, don’t let me go”, her oxygen starved brain is simply hallucinating a convenient coping strategy with the murder she is about to commit. Why would it be murder though? Could she not simply be the victim of her own hallucination? Potentially, but other things in the film point towards her being a hired space assassin. The fact checking astronaut points out that someone with that little training would unlikely be allowed on the mission at all, wouldn’t be involved in a space walk, and would usually be bought in at short notice to fill a very specific role. That very specific role here is the murder of Kowalski. It is evident that Stone has received far more training than her position would imply, given her ability to save herself, but note that her skills are very limited to only those required to get herself back to earth – a space assassin training program would unlikely be concerned with the complexity of space travel when it serves such a limited function, her training is limited but absolutely in line with her needs. There is that back story, the one where she has no family and no friends and lost her daughter in a car crash, it sounds a lot like someone with nothing to lose, it sounds like an assassin. Clearly the space debris situation was not part of the plan, but notice the point when Kowalski is murdered. As far as Stone knows at this stage the escape pod in the space station will allow her to return safely to earth, the point when she lets go of Kowalski he serves her no further purpose having safely returned her to the ship. Only a cold calculating assassin would make such a choice, she requires his help no more so she completes her more sinister task. So what about that other hallucination, the one where Kowalski returns from the dead to tell her how to get home. Stone is not the perfect assassin, it is a simple manifestation of her guilt and the fact that she was falling in love with her victim, he did after all have beautiful blue eyes. Guilt nearly consumes her and she contemplates taking her own life, despite having the knowledge to get herself to the second space station. What is more important about this hallucination though is that it is seen from outside of Stone, from a third person perspective – and yet we still see the hallucination exactly as she does. This, importantly, means that the whole film is being told from Stones perspective, but not the first person, she is telling the story, but potentially at a later date as a memory, or, I prefer to believe, in the debriefing room at her assassin employers. Effectively, as a memory she can alter the story in any way she pleases. Which brings us to her employer. There is only one motive as far as I can see. Kowalski points out his desire to beat the current record for time spent space walking … the current record holder simply cannot let that happen.

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Gravity

Gravity is a big bag of rather infuriating contradictions. It is undoubtedly an amazing looking film, a huge part of the marketing was concerned with how long it took to make, to get every minute detail correct, the effort involved in making the whole thing believable. But really, it sort of feels like it would have taken a studio with a little more cash to throw at it a couple of years at the most. Its like the only reason this thing took so damn long was because someone made it all out of paper mache in their garage. This physical aspect of it though is believable, I have no idea what the inside of a Russian spacecraft looks like, but I trust the film to have got it right. What patently isn’t believable is the storyline. It would be difficult to spoil the film for you, from the word go its fairly clear what is going down, but its not revealing too much to say that the main character must have the luck of literally a billion lottery winners, to get to the end of this film. Except for one specific moment which is so infuriatingly close to defying the laws of physics that I cant even begin to describe how angry I am with it. Anyway it is a series of “oh shit…this is bad, how will this end up” tension building moments interspersed with some not tense kind of annoying moments. Nothing inherently bad there, everyone likes tension. Unless they have bladder problems. And you do have to have moments in between the tension or it is like watching Paranormal Activity and rather than enjoying it everyone leaves feeling a bit sick. So. The back story begins in the realms of non existent, then ramps up, honestly, ramps UP, to a “I really could not care less” sort of level. I couldn’t care less because it is such a lame attempt to get the audience to invest in the worst possible way. It crossed my lips: “well just die already!!”. With all their time tinkering with pretend spaceships they sort of forgot to write a story that you can really care about and had to resort to sort of cliche emo rubbish to get you to give a crap. I for one would have enjoyed this so much better if they had spent the same sort of time, with the same attention to detail making a movie where someone just kicks space butt, no fantastic luck needed, just turns up in space, does awesome space activities, hovers around being amazing then comes back to earth. There is even less story line there than Gravity, but that film would rule.

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Gin Gwai

Cornea transplants! Exciting stuff! Just the concept grosses me out, generally taking bits of people out and replacing them is weird, its even weirder when you think about the currently unavoidable truth that the replacement bits came out of dead people! Creepy. I mean, bloody amazing, fantastic, life saving etc, I am absolutely for advocating putting your name of the organ donation register if you have not already, its not like you’ll need those damn corneas. I always figured if they were cutting out all my organs it would be a sure fire way to avoid being buried alive too, which is probably … a really negative experience. Anyway, the film is all about a lady who has a cornea transplant, regaining the ability to see after losing her sight as a child. However, unless you thought this was going to be a heartwarming tale of sight restored, the world she sees is not quite the world the rest of us see. It is much much creepier. To explain more would really require explaining the whole plot, which is actually far more convoluted than the “has cornea transplant, sees creepy shit” concept would imply. The creep factor ramps up in the middle then sort of fizzles out towards the end, it could have gone way further – but what it does is by no means bad. That all of the main characters are quite likable is a bonus too. I felt a bit more concerned for our leading lady because she seemed like such a nice person – the grandmother she ends up staying with whilst she recovers is great and the sister only seems like a bit of a bitch because she is so intent on babying someone she seems to have largely left alone to deal with her blindness. They all felt like great characterisations, I wouldn’t say they made the whole thing more believeable, but they definitely made it more entertaining. As entertaining as cornea transplants should be anyway.

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The Good, the Bad, the Weird

This ridiculously good film is mostly a homage to just about every western you have seen, but then imagine those westerns in a sort of dirty orgy with some Yakuza films, some martial arts films, some buddy pics … then you are sort of getting close. But is more than just a Tarantino-esque mash up of cultural references, not least because its Korean, and it doesnt give a shit that googling “Korean Westerns” doesnt bring up much more than… well… The Good, The Bad, The Weird. Ostensibly this is set in Manchira just before the second World War, but the excuse used to get three men racing across the country in persuit of one another, whilst various gangs and the Japanese army get stuck in as well is not really that important, what is important is that its insanely good fun. (Clearly) the film revolves around its three titular characters, their back stories begin to tie them togeher as their paths cross in persuit of a legendary treasure map. Much like the setting and the time frame though this is mostly just an excuse to get from one amazing (and outstandingly violent) action sequence to another. But to say the film was a collection of frenetic set peices alone would be to do it a disservice, its coy about its heart, but it has a big one and you cant help but love everyone in it just a little bit, even the bad guys have such a lot going on with them they could make a thousand prequels just explaining how everyone came to be just where they are. The fact that there is literally only one line for a woman in this film is a slightly worrying aspect. However I am overlooking it in the same way that I never discarded the films namesake “the good, the bad and the ugly” amid cries of sexism – that said a film that puts a 1940’s assasin in a suit thats sharper than a porcupies dick is probably not that concerned with temporal accuracy, nor can it be said to stay true to its inspiration. However this was largely due to it taking that inspiration and making it much cooler, really I couldnt help but love this film, I’ll forgive its wrongdoings because in the first ten mins a guy gets squewered with a spear. Its outstanding.

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The Gingerdead Man

This film spawned (always spawned when talking about horror or sci-fi) two sequels, which frankly amazes me because it was obviously a real struggle to find material to fill the barely over an hour run time of this first outing. If we are going to put genre labels on it the comedy should come before the horror, because you’d really have to have some sort of irrational fear of baked goods to find this remotely scary. To say it stars Gary Busey is an overstatement as well, because he is relegated to voice actor in the first five minutes. But these are non-issues really, its a shlock take up of the horror genre and you get what you pay for, which is preferably as little as possible. You can tell it was fun to make, and a couple of the actors manage that feat of being very convincingly unconvincing, just hinting that maybe it is only because they are great actors that their acting is so awful, I particularly liked the bad boy love interest, his sensitive side was buried under literally one layer of aggression and indifference. This isnt Scary Movie, it doesnt mash as much genre reference into its short run time as possible, content to just let the protagonists run around what must be the largest bakery in America whilst a little asshole of a gingerbread man torments them, the film makers are not trying to be clever, they are just having a good time. The best thing about the film is what is apparently required to make a gingerdead man. I have listed below:

To make – One Gingerdead man, and aprox 5 Normal Men

Make up one dough mix as normal
Add in gingerbread mix – must be delivered by mysterious hooded figure
Add the blood of your best friend – this friend must be of the opposite gender but your relationship cannot be sexual
You’ll need the soul of the evil man who killed your brother you’ll need to make sure you use an electric oven, because somehow his soul has to travel through the electrical grid, one presumes it got in there as the was electric chaired to death.

If you can get all these things together, and I know that is a big ask, you’ll also need a massive gingerbread man cookie cutter. I mean huge, like literally, if people eat gingerbread men this size regularly we cant ask why we are becoming increasingly obese. In fact, if every cookie tried to kill you it might be a great way to lose weight, not only would you be put off eating it in the first place, but as you ran away from its sugary death threats you’d get a little excersise.

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