Posts Tagged ‘ Danny Boyle ’

T2 TRAINSPOTTING

T2 Trainspotting
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Admittedly I was initially nonplussed by the original Trainspotting feature due to being more impressed by the novel and preferring subsequent stage productions- particularly those at the Edinburgh Fringe over the last two years- but time has mellowed my original weary scepticism and I now wholly appreciate that it is a landmark film of its time; those are the very qualities which clouded my first impressions incidentally.
Anyway who could resist a film which boosted the careers of Iggy Pop and Lou Reed bringing them to the attention and subsequent prominence to a whole new generation?
This sequel, re-introducing the original characters from Irvine Welsh’s book, therefore has a lot to live up to and this is it does to some extent although it offers nothing new nor any clear insights into what returning to your past actually means.
Re-assembling the original cast of Ewan McGregor, Jonny Lee Miller, Ewan Bremner and Robert Carlyle as well as the superfluous addition of Kelly Mac Donald – whose scene is so incongruous it feels as if it is there simply for the sake of giving her a scene. Helmed once again by Danny Boyle this gives the film some additional kudos and a sense of the past merging with the present. However I felt now, as I did with the original production, that Ewan Mc Gregor is all out to sea with his performance and once again is the film’s weakest link.
However both Ewen Bremner as Spud and Robert Carlyle as Begbie are excellent in their roles and Jonny Lee Miller always has his charisma to help him through but the real star of the film is Edinburgh itself.
Never has the city looked so appealing on-screen and even in the more desperate scenes when the city’s underside is used to show its deprivation. It also helps having local characters such as Bradley Welsh in the role of a sauna owner cum gangster type and Garry Fraser as second unit director as well as a host of Edinburgh faces as extras giving the whole thing a local flavour. Even the much maligned trams make what must be their film debut.
The plot, for what it matters, revolves around Mark Renton’s ( Mc Gregor) return to Edinburgh and the people he ripped off for thousands twenty years before. The following action revolves around him setting up another scam and being pursued by an unforgiving Begbie who let’s say hasn’t let twenty years mellow his anger or his thirst for vengeance.
To anyone nostalgic for the thrills the original film provided at a time when ‘Cool Brittania’ ruled our pop culture and Trainspotting flew the Scottish flag high and proud then I would wholeheartedly recommend this film as it will awaken the lost youth of those days. On its own merits though T2 Trainspotting can hold its head high although the remix of Iggy Pop’s Lust for Life at the films dénouement is unnecessary; some things should be left as they are and need neither remixed nor a sequel!
One thing that irked me however was if the film is set twenty years on from the original film which was set in the mid eighties why was there such a proliferation of smart phones which were nowhere near as ubiquitous around 2005-2006 as they are in this film. Just a minor detail but a detail nonetheless!

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STEVE JOBS

Steve Jobs
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Danny Boyle’s biopic about the Apple mogul is an intensely irritating film about an intensely irritating man.
An excellent cast meets an excellent screenplay but somewhere down the line the two never gel consistently enough to create a substantial whole. Certainly Michael Fassbender in the title role alongside an almost unrecognisable Kate Winslet, as Joanna Hoffman as his right hand and anchor person, buoy the whole film ably assisted by Seth Rogan, Jeff Daniels and Katherin Waterston in supporting roles
. Meanwhile Aaron Sorkin’s dialogue rivals his work in ‘The Social Network’ about that other socially inept genius Mark Zuckerberg with its relentless pace and offhand witticisms and observations.
The film revolves around d three pivotal moments in the Jobs legacy: the launches of the Macintosh in 1984, the Cube in 1988 and the iMac in 1998 when the global denomination of Apple really began. Each scene is set with fraught background details as the personal and business worlds of Jobs often collide, collapse and restructure around the unveiling of his latest creations and efforts.
How these different facets of Jobs interact and impact on his decisions and reactions reveals the driven nature of the man and how very often genius swims upstream alone against difficult currents whilst those around him are content to drift downstream at a leisurely pace. Belief in oneself is the central message of this film and if it pisses everyone else off in the process then that is merely collateral damage.
There are many fraught and intense confrontations throughout the film and often it feels as if you are actively involved in the arguments and the whole thing becomes quite exhausting. I am unsure whether I can wholeheartedly recommend this film to anyone despite its merits as often the pacing and high-octane delivery becomes a little too tiring and relentless.
I can however recommend that you don’t attend with anyone who has a short attention span and finds the intricacies of a sophisticated and demanding dialogue difficult, as you may find it accompanied by much seat shuffling, sighing and exaggerated yawning as I was. Sorkin’s script and Fassbender’s portrayal however are beyond reproach however irritating other aspects of the film may be and these factors alone make it a decent watch if not a wholly satisfying one.

TRANCE

Trance

Trance2013Poster

 

After parachuting the Queen out of a helicopter with James Bond during the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony Danny Boyle had a tough act to follow with his next film if he wanted to top that with something wholly unexpected. Unfortunately the film he chose to follow up that career highpoint, Trance,  is a successful stylish effort-everything seems to be shrouded in tonal blues, designer greys and classy taupe- but often this impeccable stylisation outweighs the content. Often the film trips itself up by trying too hard to deliver the unexpected that the viewer feels so uninvolved by all the second guessing that the credibility needed to convince or engender any emotional response fails to materialise.

It is also a film which seems to inhabit the same universe and genre as notables such as Inception, Sourcecode and Soderbergh’s last film his apparent swansong Side Effects whilst also deploying the Bret Easton Ellis method of employing an unreliable narrator, or in Trance’s case several unreliable narrators as you are never quite aware of who is delivering a viewpoint at any given time. It suffers the same fate of the Soderbergh film by being a late entrant into the field and lacking the charisma a DiCaprio, Gyllenhaal, Tom Hardy or Marion Cotillard brought to the former two films mentioned. Trance’s leading man James McAvoy is capable and wears his Armani cashmere and Joseph fine knits with aplomb but  is not quite strong or convincing enough in the role for you to either empathise or sympathise with his character, Simon.

The convoluted plot centres on an art auctioneer, Simon, with a gambling problem which has accrued huge debts and the only way out is to borrow the money from an underworld type Franck-Vincent Cassel- who in return utilises Simon’s position and services  in a heist involving the theft of a Goya painting valued at £27 million. Trying to outsmart his accomplices Simon has an insurance policy of his own and manages to conceal the painting before Franck gets his hands on it only to end up in a stand off which results in him being knocked unconscious and suffering from amnesia. The obvious thing-in movies anyway- is to consult a hypnotherapist, Elizabeth Lamb (Rosario Dawson), apparently chosen at random to try and endeavour the whereabouts of the missing masterpiece.

What follows is a stalk through labyrinthine like corridors of various subconscious minds which have so many twists and turns it is often difficult to decipher who is relating what, though this turns out to be an important plot device. Are Elizabeth and Franck on the make trying to dupe the others or are Simon and Elizabeth in cahoots or is any of the aforementioned a lone operative trying to outsmart the others?  The issue of trust is constantly raised throughout and the viewer also learns not to trust what is unfolding on the screen at any given time.

An intelligent film which perhaps is a little too smug of its own accomplishments- alongside the immaculate stylisation it also has a superb soundtrack by Rick Smith of Underworld which drives the narrative almost as much as the dialogue and on many occasions threatens to drown it out- but manages to feel compact and never outstays its welcome. Like Soderbergh’s Side Effects despite all the fancy mind trickery and second guessing it eventually feels the need to explain its own plot in the most pedestrian and straightforward manner by having a character relate it to us in a monologue. This, in effect, feels laboured and despite its cleverness leaves holes in the plot.

Essentially Boyle’s attempt at creating his very own Hitchcockian Vertigo or North by Northwest, it has the style, panache and soundtrack to bolster its standing, it however lacks the charm of these classics and thus remains cold, distant and slightly aloof although still highly watchable.