The Talented Mr Ripley

…it’s like the sun shines on you, and it’s glorious. And then he forgets you and it’s very very cold.” spoken by Gwyneth Paltrow in the 1999 psychological thriller film The Talented Mr Ripley by Anthony Minghella.

The Talented Mr Ripley is outstanding. It is fascinating to watch the skilled Tom Ripley (Matt Damon) deal with the horrific consequences of his endeavours. The Talented Mr Ripley follows Tom Ripley who is sent to retrieve a filthy rich and spoiled playboy; Dickie Greenleaf (Jude Law) from 1950s Europe. Unfortunately things do not go smoothly. Tom Ripley sure can forge signatures and impersonate people. Matt Damon plays the obsessed psychopath perfectly and I was continuously amazed by his performance. After establishing a (suspiciously) close friendship with the playboy millionaire, the plot soon twists into dark themes of unrequited love and obsession.

Stalky

Stalky stalky

When you find yourself sympathizing with sly, tricky and clever homicidal psychopaths, you can be sure that the performance is top notch. Gwyneth Paltrow plays the heart breaking role of Dickie Greenleaf’s girlfriend. My heart bled as she gets further entangled in the lies of Tom Ripley. However, it is Jude Law that really impresses. Dickie Greenleaf is amazing. He is gorgeous, charming and charismatic so much that one can understand the root of Tom’s obsession. As the mistreated Gwyneth so eloquently expresses, Dickie’s attention is sought after and when it subsides, it is difficult to handle. Dickie’s attention would drive anyone to homicidal behaviour. Tom Ripley would certainly agree. Losing

Let’s sum up why you should watch The Talented Mr Ripley. Ahem.

Number 1: Tom Ripley sure is a tricky one. Matt Damon delivers a career-best performance and gives new meaning to the word stalker.

Number 2: Gwyneth will have you sympathizing with her before long. No one plays the victim quite like old Gwyneth.

Gwyneth grows suspicious

Number 3: Watching the plot descend into darkness is truly fascinating. Despite how unnerving it becomes, there is a morbid fascination with how Tom Ripley outsmarts everyone.

Number 4: Jude Law is delightful. I want to be in San Remo with Jude Law. Like now. Like right now.

Number 5: The boat scene is truly moving and disturbing all at once. You won’t look at boat oars the same way ever again. The Talented Mr Ripley teaches us that hiring boats with psychotic stalkers is unwise.

Why would anyone hit this with a boat oar? I just don’t understand

Disturbing, ominous and thrilling, The Talented Mr Ripley should not be missed.

For more on obsessed homicidal stalkers, check out the trailer for The Talented Mr Ripley. 

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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

With the exponential success of its sequel trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit is an upcoming 3 part film series directed by Peter Jackson. The initial instalment of The Hobbit entitled An Unexpected Journey is being released towards the end of 2012. I was an avid fan of The Lord of the Rings back in its conception, however the first trailer for The Hobbit left me somewhat disinterested and underwhelmed.

Having not read the book, I am unfamiliar with the plot of The Hobbit. I watched the initial trailer and was confused at the amount of dwarfish humour that was occurring. The tone was considerably different to what I was expecting. Quirky and intrusive dwarves do not make for epic J.R.R Tolkien film adaptations. The Lord of the Rings changed lives when it was released and proved the Peter Jackson really was the hot new thing. The Lord of the Rings trilogy was a massive box office success and was praised by critics and fans alike. Do not get me wrong, I love Frodo as much as anyone else but it is suggested, from personal experience, that you do not watch all three movies in immediate succession. I recently watched all the extended director cuts which accumulated to something like 10 hours. It was intense. It felt like I was taking the ring to Mordor.

The pressures of entertaining

Anyway, I pray, that The Hobbit will not stray too far from the artistic style that was so successful in The Lord of the Rings. Let’s hope that the prequel trilogy will stay true to the J.R.R Tolkien roots. However, there is considerable evidence that The Hobbit will ultimately not disappoint. And of course is presented in list format. Ahem…

Number 1: Peter Jackson does no wrong. Peter Jackson is an outstanding director and besides The Lord of the Rings trilogy he is responsible for epic projects such as King Kong and The Lovely Bones.

Number 2: Expect eerie and moving Middle Earth music, hoera! Howard Shore is returning and is responsible for the related soundtrack. Put simply, this means we can expect the grandiose and emotionally stirring soundtracks so well attributed to Frodo and his quest.

Number 3: Gollum. That is all.

Number 4: One last thing that gives me hope is the fact that Ian McKellen and Cate Blanchett will be reprising their well known roles. Everybody loves Gandalf and Galadriel. Who can forget Galadriel’s freak-out when tempted by the ring in The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring? I certainly can’t.

Elf Queen loses her cool. Love it.

Anyway, my interest has finally been sparked. Let’s just hope there is less quirky-dwarf humour and more dragons.

Everybody loves dragons

For more on The Hobbit, check out the second trailer. Much better.

The Little Mermaid

Life is full of tough choices, innit?!,” spoken by Ursula in the 1989 animated musical fantasy The Little Mermaid by Walt Disney Feature Animation.

Here at Popcornography we love Disney. Old-school Disney was something remarkable back in the day and today there is nothing that quite lives up to the splendour of those Disney gems we grew up with. Disney films were meticulously crafted and complimented by glorious soundtracks of which Alan Menken was mostly responsible. God bless Alan Menken. Anyway the point is, Disney movies were the thing back in the day. Well before they were tainted by atrocious sequels like Timone and Pumba do New York or Aladdin 5. Whatever.

Today’s Quote of the Day is inspired by the films that characterize many childhoods and more specifically to the most villainous animated Diva that ever was. The tentacles, the voice, the attitude, the BOOTAY, the nefarious plotting and mermaid tormenting. It all works and we LOVE it.

Fabulous.

Popcornography just loves it when villains deliver sadistic monologues in song. For  glorious villainy goodness make sure to check out Ursula’s Poor Unfortunate Souls.

Man of Steel

We all know how Popcornography loves superheroes and aliens. So imagine the joy it gives me to write a preview for Man of Steel which combines both of Popcornography’s great loves. Man of Steel is the newest reboot of the Superman franchise directed by Zack Snyder which will be released around June 2013. You may recognize Zack as he is responsible for the over-stylised 300 and Sin City. Making movies that drip with artistry is kind of his thing, even if it does not always succeed. Think Sucker Punch. Apologies to Emily Browning who is totally my sister…

Anyway, reboots seem to be all the rage right now. First old Brucey got a reboot, then Spidey and obviously Kal-El (aka Superman) would follow suit. However, we must not forget that this is the second attempt at rebooting the Superman franchise. Superman Returns starring Brandon Routh, Kate Bosworth and Kevin Spacey was released in 2006 but was lame. I remember that cinema experience being marred by particularly heinous CGI effects. Besides having a few unforgettable scenes and Kevin Spacey (of course) Superman Returns was a great let down.

Man of Steel will deliver and here is why presented in the ever-popular Popcornography list format. Ahem.

Number one: Zack Snyder is so hot right now. His film style may be the saving grace for Mr Kent. Even the new and improved Superman emblem is ‘Snyder-fied’ and we like it.

That ‘S’ sure is Snyder-fied

Number two: Big names are everywhere! Russel Crowe plays Clark’s alien papa Jor-El. Kevin Costner and Diane Lane play Clark’s boring human parents. Amy Adams takes the role of Lois Lane which should be interesting.

Number three: When you are talking super-heroes, one needs a Christopher Nolan. Luckily Man of Steel has one. Christopher Nolan is producing and Popcornography is sure this will lead to great things.

And lastly,

Number four: Clark Kent is played by Henry Cavill who you may recognise from Stardust and The Tudors. Henry Cavill is so hot I want to spin in circles and scream. That is all.

Sexy Screenshot indeed!

Man of Steel will revisit the Superman origins in a more real and gritty fashion than ever before. Thanks Christopher Nolan. This coupled with Snyder’s directorial vision should result in a very interesting end-product. Just look at the trailer. People are fishing in the beginning to an eerie score. It does not get more real and moody.

The most popular of all super-hero characters may finally get the reboot it deserves. We can all only hope.

For more on Man of Steel, make sure to check out the trailer. Moody.

American History X

American History X poster

You think you’re the only one doin’ time, Derek? You think you’re here all alone? You think I’m not in here with you?!,” spoken by Beverly D’Angelo in Tony Kaye’s 1998 American drama film American History X.

Popcornography learnt a very important lesson this week. What it is you may wonder? The lesson is; despite how many times you watch American History X, it never becomes less disturbing. Re-watching it this past week, only served to bring back all the immense uneasiness that I worked so hard to diminish over the years. The profound and thought provoking film is today’s inspiration for Quote of the Day.

American History X, obviously hits close to home with regard to its strong theme of hate encouraged by racial prejudice. Very few countries can watch a film such as American History X and identify with as strongly as we South Africans do. American History X follows the lives of two brothers residing in Venice Beach in California. Daddy fights fire and dies due to an unfortunate incident involving black drug dealers. The murder of his father, leads Derek (the eldest brother) to become obsessed with the issue of racial prejudice. After Derek, brutally murders two black gang members he is sentenced to three years imprisonment for voluntary manslaughter. The story focuses around Danny, the youngest and impressionable brother, who begins to follow in Derek’s misguided footsteps. The entire Vineyard family’s descent into darkness occurs as a result of the hatred harboured by Derek and Danny. However, during Derek’s imprisonment he establishes an emotional friendship with a black inmate and ultimately learns to relinquish his inherently harboured hatred. Upon his release, Derek struggles to be reintroduced to his family and friends who are trapped in the now overpowering Neo-Nazi movement of Venice Beach. INTENSE stuff.

Edward is angry a lot of the time

The film is shot in a mixture of black and white as well as colour which serves to reiterate the strong themes the film carries. American History X received overwhelmingly favourable reviews and led to an Academy Award nomination for Edward Norton. In my opinion, this is certainly Edward’s most powerful and moving performance. American History X is moving for a number of reasons. Firstly, the inmate whom Derek befriends is the unsung hero of the story and provides much needed comic relief. Additionally, watching the family’s crisis explode is truly unnerving. In particular, Derek’s mother (Doris) gives a heartbreaking performance as she struggles to cope with the nightmare of murderous and imprisoned sons. Poor Doris. I’m sorry Doris. It wasn’t your fault.

Catching up with mama

Despite its profound message, American History X is never preachy but more visceral. Riddled with controversial themes, brutal violence, nudity and profane language, American History X is an awfully difficult experience to endure. So why in the world would you want to suffer through this? Popcornography implores you. Films as powerful as American History X are rare. These films are directorial visions created to challenge their audiences with powerful albeit unpleasant messages. In short, this film will trap you in a glass case of emotion. It is that intense. But don’t be frightened. American History X is spectacular, transcends entertainment and is totally worth it.

To get you through the daunting task of watching American History X, I have prepared a list. I like lists. I call it Popcornography’s guide to surviving American History X. Ahem…

Number 1: Edward Norton is really a nice guy in real life. Well actually I don’t know. But he sure doesn’t kill anyone in Keeping the Faith.

Number 2: In prison, when other people leave the shower that is your cue to ALSO leave the shower. We know this. Sadly, Edward did not know this.

Number 3: There is no defence against the strife of a battered woman. Doris will cry numerous times. It is okay. It is just a movie.

Number 4: The teeth-on-the-curb scene is coming. There is nothing you can do about it. Just embrace it.

Leave the shower Edward…

American History X shower

Get up, Doris 

For more on American History X, check out the trailer! 

Celeste and Jessie Forever

It feels like we have been hearing about Celeste and Jessie Forever, forever! The much anticipated indie ‘rom-com’ directed by Lee Toland Krieger was released in the US in early August and has yet to arrive in South Africa. The film stars Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg who recently appeared at the MTV VMA’s to further promote the film. Rashida you may recognise from The Social Network whereas you may recognise Andy from numerous popular SNL shorts performed over the years. When I heard about this film, I was sure it was going to boast a vast amount of slapstick humour due the Saturday Night freak’s involvement. However, upon watching the trailer I was pleasantly surprised.

The newly divorced lovers struggle to maintain their relationship whilst pursuing new love interests. The trailer implies that the movie is going to be far more melancholic and heartfelt than I originally thought. And you know how Popcornography loves melancholia. I expect we are going to fall in love with their unconventional relationship dynamic and it seems that the movie will provide social commentary on true love and the hardships of separation. I am not sure about you, but we here at Popcornography love a little relationship drama.

Cutesy, offbeat romance is the best kind of romance

You may want a list of reasons to watch this movie? Luckily for you, I made one. Here it is.  Ahem…

  • Cutesy, offbeat romance is the best kind of romance
  • It is refreshing to watch Andy be associated with something else besides his infamous “Jizz in my Pants” song…
  • Rashida is charming and we love her
  • Celeste and Jessie Forever has received favourable critical acclaim
  • Duh-rama!
  • Also Emma Roberts plays a Britney Spears type idol and Elijah Wood plays a gay-best-friend-esque role. Interesting!
  • But most of all we are so sick of hearing about this movie. Can we see it yet?

Please Andy. Less “Jizz in my Pants” and more melancholia. Thanks

If you are planning to watch a rom-com in 2012, it most certainly should be Celeste and Jessie Forever.

For more offbeat rom-com goodness check out the trailer! In fact, Popcornography insists.

The Village

“Let the bad colour not be seen. It attracts them.

Never enter the woods. That is where they wait.

Heed the warning bell, for they are coming”

Back in 2004, M. Night Shymalan was still a good director. Good is a vicious understatement, he was a genius. Unfortunately, The Village could be seen as the turning point in M. Night Shyamalan’s career. After The Village, there were movies about the planet being homicidal, women in water as well as little bald airbenders and it seemed that Mr Shymalan had indeed lost his mind. It pains me to say this, but old Shymalan has never recovered. The infamous writer, producer and director had already achieved success as the master story-teller behind The Sixth Sense and Signs. However, this fantasy thriller deserves its own special mention being the last evidence that Shymalan has/had directorial skill.

The most wonderful aspect of all early Shymalan’s early films was that they were far more multidimensional than simple horror stories. Ignorant people are forever saying Signs wasn’t scary and therefore it was “kak”. I will cut you. It is not meant to be scary, it is meant to be a story about faith. Similarly The Village is at essence a profound love story about lovers overcoming fear and adversity. People who want to watch scantily clad women being slaughtered are going to be very disappointed with The Village. Sure they both have EFFING scary moments but they are so much more than that. However, don’t be fooled and don’t get cut, The Village is a story about love.

Love is blind

“What good is it to tell you you are in my every thought from the time I wake? What good can come from my saying that I sometimes cannot think clearly or do my work properly? What gain can rise of my telling you the only time I feel fear as others do is when I think of you in harm? That is why I am on this porch, Ivy Walker. I fear for your safety before all others. And yes, I will dance with you on our wedding night.

So let’s break it down. Set in the late 19th century, a small community lives in relative peace surrounded, quite literally, by fear and the woods. A truce between the villagers and those they do not speak of is what sustains this way of life. Basically, hooded bush-monsters that have a thing for the colour red, terrorize the townsfolk into waylaying their travel plans. So the town’s vibe is secluded, safe and wholesome – free of greed and violence; or is it? The menacing plot unfolds as Joaquin Phoenix’s blind lover ventures into the woods to gather medicine from surrounding ‘towns’ and all the secrets start to unravel. Intriguing stuff.

The bush monster cometh

So then there’re these elders – leaders of the village who claim to have the best intentions of the community in mind.  No one does repressed authority quite like William Hurt and Sigourney Weaver. These elders breed. However, their children aren’t that easy to control. Lucius Hunt (played by the quietly brilliant Joaquin Phoenix) is the austere antithesis of the fear-based society. He is brave, sincere and honourable. Ivy Walker (The Help’s Bryce Dallas Howard) is the blind protagonist who ‘sees’ the world differently. Youthful and enchanting, Ivy embodies the innocence that the elders cherish in their village. They fall in love, it’s beautiful. Alas it’s short-lived.

Ivy Walker sure has a tough time

Startled elders

Indicative of their love and perhaps The Village’s strongest moment is the safety drill scene. This scene stands out as one of Shyamalan’s most beautifully crafted. Allow me to summarise:

  • The warning bell
  • Widespread panic
  • Ivy’s out-stretched hand in the dark
  • Sister pleading hysterically
  • Grunting, cloaked bush monster approaches
  • …the music soars and Lucius swoops in at the last minute. With their hands clasped they retreat underground. Very moving stuff.

Sister just wants Ivy to come inside

Adrien Brody plays Noah Percy – a developmentally challenged Ivy admirer. Brody does good. His performance of this pivotal character is deeply unnerving. It’s because of his actions that our blind heroine is thrust into the forbidden woods and beyond. Hysterically, she struggles to escape her fears as Shyamalan characteristically plays with our perception of what is real. You cannot help feeling sorry for the lost blind girl as she is stalked by monstrous beasts in the cold dark woods. The lengths Ivy will go through to save Lucius is truly touching. The love that drives her is awe-inspiring and makes this Shyamalan film one of my all time favourites.

This situation seems dire

If we know anything about Shymalan, expect a twist or two. Twisty, twisty.

Additionally, James Newton Howard’s Oscar nominated score was poignant and unsettling whilst enhancing these intense moments.

Listen to the beautiful soundtrack. Listen to it 

For more Village-y goodness check out the trailer!

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