Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Rare Imports #5: Infernal Affairs (2002) Review

Infernal Affairs is a 2002 Hong Kong cop thriller. Directed by Andrew Lau and Alan Mak the film stars an ensemble cast of Andy Lau (House of the Flying Daggers), Tony Leung, Anthony Wong (Hard Boiled) and Eric Tsang. The film would go on to spawn 2 sequels and an English language remake, The Departed, which would win the best picture Oscar.

Centering around its two main characters the plot follows inspector Lau (Lau), a triad mole in the HKPD, and Yan (Leung), a police mole within Hon Sam’s (Tsang) Triad division. We initially see the characters in their younger form being selected for infiltration but then fast forward to the modern day where both organisations begin to suspect the traitor in their midst. This leads to a cat and mouse chase with each mole attempting to identify the other before their respective organisations find out, resulting in a shocking climax.

Infernal Affairs plays on its complex and cerebral plot with great flair and style. Creating maximum tension from its premise, the film challenges you to think about the situation at all times and subverts the notion of heroes and villains. At various points of the plot you’re required to think about whether the mole is acting in the interests of their undercover organisation, their original organisation or, indeed, their own interests and this makes for a crime thriller far more gripping than most.

To compliment this, the film is beautifully shot against the neon Hong Kong backdrop and perfectly scored with a dramatic stringed score reminiscent of the finest mafia films. The actors on display, well known to the Hong Kong market but lesser known in the west, turn in outstanding performances. From the morally conflicted Yan to the manipulative Lau, from the battle worn superintendent Wong (Wong) to the explosive Sam, all the characters are incredibly well crafted and portrayed.

It’s very predictable to say that a foreign language original is superior to its western remake, but when you consider that The Departed is a critically acclaimed film beloved by most, you start to get a sense of how special Infernal Affairs is. Rarely do cop thrillers (eastern or western) require quite so much concentration and even more rarely are they so rewarding in return. Ingenious in its concept and flawless in its execution, Infernal Affairs demands to be watched.

What did you think of the film? Do you prefer the departed?

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

New DOTPOTA Poster and TV Spot

Two new pieces of DOTPOTA marketing have emerged today in the form of a new poster and first tv spot. The poster seems to echo baby Caesar from the first film whereas the tv spot only contains one thing you need to know about...apes on horseback! Yes, after a fleeting reference in the first film, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes appears to bring back the Ape cavalry made famous in the original series.

What do you think of the new poster? Are you glad to see the horseback apes return?

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Carrie (2013): Review

Carrie is a 2013 supernatural horror remake. Directed by Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don't Cry) and starring Chloe Moretz (Let Me In, Kick Ass) and Julianne Moore (Hannibal). The film is a remake of the Brian De Palma classic and based on the same Stephen King story.

Much like the original, the film follows the teenage angst of Carrie White (Moretz), a troubled girl who has been abused so much by her schoolmates that a telekinetic ability has been awakened. To add to her troubles, Carrie is also abused by her rabidly right wing, religious mother (Moore) who regularly berates her and locks her in a small cupboard for being a “sinner”. After the opening sequence of the film (which will be familiar to fans of the original) some of the more ruthless students are banned from the prom, leading to a cruel plot to humiliate Carrie White and unleash her telekinetic rage upon the town.

The main problem with this remake is a misjudgement in tone and a miscasting in its lead actress. The beauty of Sissy Spacek’s Carrie White is that she was frumpy and weird enough to sympathise with but still somehow relatable as a girl next door type. Moretz, on the other hand, is an objectively pretty girl and no amount of “uglifying” can lead me to fully invest in this incarnation of the character being an outcast or freak. The tone and look of the film is markedly different to the original, which you’d expect considering how firmly rooted in the 70s it was, but for me this seemed to lean towards the melodramatic and overblown. This is summed up particularly well by the film’s ludicrous take on the original’s infamous shock ending.

Having said that, I do feel that the film’s climactic “prom rage” sequence does somewhat improve on the originals by virtue of its bigger budget and less than subtle effects. From levitation to pyrokinesis and some impressive automobile based telekinesis it makes for a much more intense and climactic payoff to the rest of the film and far closer to the plot of the original novel. The only other thing on offer to hold the viewers attention is Moore's spot on portrayal of Carrie’s demented mother. Piper Laurie’s Performance in the original is a tough one to top but Moore puts a lot of energy and zeal into the character making it equally as memorable in this incarnation.

It almost seems cliché nowadays to say that this is a pointless remake of an iconic 70s horror film but I’m afraid I’m going to have to opt for this opinion once again. The original film is not only an iconic adaptation of one of King’s finest creations but one of the jewels in DePalma’s auteur crown. Peirce wisely avoids a shot for shot remake but ends with a mostly dull retread, perhaps the modernising of the story will appeal to modern day teenagers but for me there really wasn’t much to see here.

*** 3 stars

What did you think of Carrie? Was it faithful to the original?

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Full Godzilla trailer

The highly anticipated full trailer for Godzilla 2014 has finally been released! After a breathtaking teaser trailer back in December expectations were high but this rachets the excitement levels up to a head exploding level. The combination of Bryan Cranston delivering a passionate speech over epic disaster scenes and well disguised glimpses of the big G himself continue to give me faith that this reboot has been very carefully judged and balanced. This continues to be my most anticipated film of the year, if not the decade, check out the trailer...

What do you think of the trailer? Are you looking forward to the movie?

Monday, 24 February 2014

"The Sacrament" trailer

A new red band trailer has emerged for the upcoming Ti West film "The Sacrament". Re teaming West muses Joe Swanberg and Aj Bowen fresh off their appearances in You're Next the commentary format follows a film crew's attempts to locate a missing person amongst a sinister cult. I've never been a Ti West fan and the cult bar has been set high in recent years with Sound of my Voice (2012) and Gareth Evans' excellent segment in V/H/S 2 (2013). Check out the trailer...

What do you think of the trailer? Are you a Ti West fan?

Friday, 21 February 2014

New Godzilla poster

Legendary pictures have released a brand new Godzilla poster. Seeming to take one of the most impressive vista shots from the trailer we see the big G looming large over the San Francisco skyline. Although some fans have jumped to the conclusion that Godzilla is twice the size of a skyscraper I would tend to think think this is more of a visual and symbolic statement. Only three short months until Godzilla is unleashed in cinemas on May 16th!

What do you think of the poster? How big will Godzilla actually be?

Saturday, 15 February 2014

"Joe" trailer

A trailer has emerged today for upcoming indie drama "Joe". Directed by David Gordon Green (pineapple express) starring Nicolas Cage (leaving Las Vegas) and Tye Sheridan (Mud), the film is adapted from Larry Brown's novel of the same name and centres around an unlikely father figure in the titular anti hero. For my money, Cage hasn't turned in a serious dramatic performance since 2005's Lord of War (although his genre work has been more than entertaining) and I can't wait to see this critical return to form for the man that won an Oscar nearly 20 years ago. Check out the trailer...

Are you looking forward to this? Can Cage really make a critical comeback?