Tag Archives: LA

Gangster Squad by Ruben Fleischer (2013)

There are some films that leave a bitter aftertaste when you get back home from the cinema after the screening. It’s not that there is something wrong with them. But something isn’t right either.

This is a film noir – chapeaux bas to the idea. Well, there is a grain of Tarantino style goriness which was probably what caused a little bit of disgust to my taste.

It is an ensemble cast led by Josh Brolin, who has a good role – in general all is exceptionally well written. The dialogues work. The costumes are obviously spotless, the job of the set designer is indeed amazingly done.

It feels more like a music video than a feature length film. Maybe because too much has been presented in a shallow, simplified way. What in a classic film noir was unsaid and therefore not shown, here is depicted to the tiniest detail. A film noir is a genre where certain rules should be followed and even though Emma Stone does look like a cartoon wife of Roger Rabbit, I am not convinced by her acting.

Even Ryan Gosling’s character is uneven and unconvincing for whatever reason.

Josh Brolin is great and so is Sean Penn. Giovanni Ribisi also deserves a special mention. But overall – this is not a masterpiece.

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Sunset Strip by Hans Fjellestad (2012) #rdff

Sunset Boulevard is probably one of the most famous street names in Los Angeles. It is 1.5 mile long and the authors of this heartful documentary have put a visible effort into recreating its  history throughout the 20th century.

The Sunset Strip is presented gradually through archival material of non-existent today clubs, joints and meeting points. We witness personae such as Keanu Reeves, Johnny Depp, Sharon Stone, Sophia Coppola, the Osbourne family. They are usually talked about in documentaries, whereas here they are the narrators sharing their side of the story experienced in this strip of land.

Quite successfully the viewers get delivered a crafty cut of interviews, of archival footage all summed up by a juicy animation.

A great journey enabling those not lucky enough to be located in LA, California, to appreciate and visit the famous places.

Probably one of the strongest points of this film is that no-one is put in the position of an omniscient narrator, but rather all the participants learn about the history of the boulevard from each other – in arranged conversations.

Good one! Thanks Raindance!

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Numb by Harris Goldberg (2007)

Matthew Perry plays a depressed and detached from reality 30-something script writer and part of creative duo (the other half is quiet as never Kevin Pollak).

He is at a moment in life, when men his age go through their mid-life crisis. It seems Hudson never quite got over his adolescence until now. After having smoked one joint too many, he begins to suffer from a rare psychological condition, which practically disables him from normal functioning. He mainly sleeps and bores his shrink to deep REM.

A much welcome turning point appears when he meets Sara – the perfect idealised version of a woman-anchor, woman-saver, woman- iconic embodiment of forbearance and patience.

Perry is as far from his comic roles as possible and to a good change. His role is carefully led and credible. This film galloped through screens without much ado, go catch up if you can!

The melancholic drama carries an important message of the need for distancing oneself from everyday trouble to focus on the big picture and the general direction one needs to take going forward.

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Filed under Catching Up, film reviews

Drive by Nicolas Winding Refn (2011)

It’s a tribute to the art of cinema, cinematography, soundtrack, Quentin Tarantino, David Lynch, The Godfather and Los Angeles, California. A gem displaying the amazing attention to detail of the director and an incredible mastery of the cinematic tools.

Ryan Gosling plays a character who brings to mind a naive puppy who is unaware of its physical strength and wags its tail at any nice gesture from the outside world. Up to a point.

Slow motion, very long and slow introduction to the character’s world builds up to an unbearable suspense. This film has many good aspects. One of them is that despite a quite predictable genre, very few elements are easily predictable. Quite a few come up as a surprise.

The cast is carefully selected and has a surprisingly good chemistry. Notice the Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston.

Somebody said that this is the new Tarantino. It’s not. It is a brand new trademark of a brand new persona in Hollywood. Ladies and Gentlemen – remember this name: Nicolas Winding Refn.

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Filed under 2011 cinema releases, film reviews