Tag Archives: twists and turns

Killing Bono (Not Literally)

What would it have been like growing up living in the shadow of Bono and U2? Well Neil McCormick, author of Killing Bono: I was Bono’s Doppelganger knows exactly what that feels like. And his book turned out to be quite a good movie based on his experiences. With a huge interest in seeing Robert Sheehan in a role other than Misfits, I sat down to check out Killing Bono. In an odd turn of events, this is one of those films of one-upsmanship. I find McCormick’s character to be intriguing and tragic, especially with his circumstances and the adversity he faces. So let’s blast out to some U2… and Shook Up.

In the late 70’s, Paul Hewson, soon to be known as Bono (Martin McCann) and his friend David Evans (The Edge) would form a band that would sweep the world, in a similar fashion to The Beatles. Neil McCormick’s brother Ivan (Robert Sheehan) was recruited at first by Bono, but it was Neil’s (Ben Barnes) decision to keep him from the band. Holding this secret inside, Neil will do anything in his power to beat Bono and his fast rising star. With travels to England, a few

A little bit of Martin McCann as Bono.

relationships, and some fiddling around with record producers, It is up to Neil to prove to his brother and everyone that his mistakes were made for a reason.

And it’s a long journey from the bottom to the top (or as close as it gets). This movie has some twists and turns (on a downward spiral), and leaves you realizing that it doesn’t matter if Neil succeeds, it is up to him to do what he thinks is best for himself, and realize he cannot choose for others. He can only  be as good as he himself can be. Now there’s a bit of some moral wisdom to dish out at the end of a film.

A little taste of the McCormick brothers!

I had only seen Ben Barnes in a few things before he burst onto the scene in this film. Stardust and Prince Caspian in the Narnia series to name the few. But this is one of those out there roles for Barnes. He’s all over the place, he’s ecstatic, he’s cocky and ready to roll at any moment. This is a hard role to pull off if you don’t have the personality for it, but Barnes does a good job of it. I wouldn’t have minded to see Robert Sheehan in the pivotal role, but this was all good all the same.

But my what a young actor Robert Sheehan is turning into in the world of movies. First there’s his strange appearance in Nic Cage’s Season of the Witch, and then followed by this movie? Soon he’ll make a name for himself as a period piece actor in the American film world. And I hope his unforgiving comedy will be able to come across the “big pond” in order to become a mainstay in America. I see big things for this young star, and I wish him the best.

Pete the ridiculous record exec.

It is rather unfortunate that this is Pete Postlethwaite’s last performance before his death. This actor who I will always remember as the whimsical man who gave James the seeds that would send him on his journey in James and the Giant Peach. In this film, he’s a bit of a different character. Pete plays a garishly homosexual landlord with a penchant for large parties. Helping Neil and Ivan along the way in London, it is Pete who brings together Gloria (Krysten Ritter) and Neil as Karl, Gay Landlord Extraordinaire.

That’s some great hair there, Robert.

And you can’t forget Peter Serafinowicz as Hammond, the ridiculous record producer. First he was Pete, the dick roommate in Shaun of the Dead, but he has gone on to do some great T.V. work Look Around You and various other writing and starring in British television. He was the voice of Darth Maul for god sakes! What an accomplishment! This strangely wonderful man is just the kind of quirky actor this film needed.

Oh, and we have to talk about the soundtrack! This movie didn’t directly feature any U2 tracks, this features all original (or did Neil make it?) music for the film, or something or other. And I really enjoyed the music. Ben Barnes had a great musical performance and really captivated what it meant to be a popular band in the 1980’s. Couple this with a combo of darkish humor and drama, and you have a film about triumph and revenge. I’d give this film a watch for any U2 fans. 6.9 out of 10.

Let’s get some dark eyeliner on and hit up this club.

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Black Death: The Medieval Wicker Man

In a movie undeservedly put under the radar, it came as a surprise to me after watching Black Death that it wasn’t a more well liked and well known film. Among a handful of other medival pieces on Netflix (such as Ironclad, and Season of the Witch – review coming soon) this one, I would say, stood out as the #1 spot on the leaderboard. I mean, come on, you got Sean Bean as the lead. He puts his own amazingly remarkable mark on any and all medieval period pieces he does (Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones). So its time to delve into those boils and see what’s good.

This movie starts (and focuses) around the account of a young monk in training. All around him, Osmund (Eddie Redmayne) sees the pestilence of the plague as a blight from God himself. As the movie begins, we even discover that he himself was being tested to see if he caught the plague. As a devastating disease that just took hold of his Church by the throat, Osmund finds himself in turmoil. His new found love Averill

Ulric and his gang at a witch burning. Monty Python style.

(Kimberley Nixon), something the Church wouldn’t approve of, must leave the confines of the monastery and find safety in a forest village far from the reaches of the plague. She promises to go, but will only wait for Osmund for 7 days.

With this separation between human love and the love of God, Osmund must make a choice to choice (although it would be frowned upon if he left the Church at all). Upon praying to God for some sort of sign on which way to go, Ulric and his band of merry men roll up hard to the Church to find a guide.

There are repenters in every one...

There is talk of a necromancer in a swamp somewhere near where Osmund is familiar with. Double whammy for him? He can meet his wench on the way. Overjoyed at the excuse to peace out (deuces style), he volunteers to lead Ulric. After some minor preparation, they head on out.

Here’s where things get sticky. Some people die, some people may (or may not) have the plague, and this village they find in the swamp, hasn’t been touched by the plague. So Sean Bean and his boys suspect witchcraft. And they’ve brought some deadly torture devices to get some confessions and drag home one witches corpse. Utterly decieved, Osmund has no choice but to go on this miniquest for God and his way of life.

The travelling troupe.

I don’t want to reveal too much about the ending, but think The Wicker Man. it doesn’t matter which version (Cage or no Cage) but watch that first and prepare for the medieval version afterwards. It’s not all that uncommon, I’m sure, for a movie to be inspired by another, and I found this version of a society that’s not what it seems to be quite unnerving. Upon looking into this movie, I got worried they’d introduce some B.S. magical element into the story. And I wasn’t having that from a movie that came from a very real place. (Speaking of real, we’ll have to talk about the realness that is Season of the Witch.)

Sean Bean. Witch hunting.

Luckily, I was spared and the movie satisfied me like a goat-wrapped Snickers. And you wanna know who stole the show? It wasn’t Sean Bean. He gave his great performance as his stock Boromir character. It was good, no doubt, no doubt. The real ingenious lay in the true to life performance from Eddie Redmayne. A relatively young actor I’ve not heard much from (other than the big works he’s done that I haven’t seen yet) has been doing period pieces like its his job. I mean, My Week with Marilyn? Who but the Redmayne is lucky enough to do that? But what I really felt about his acting is that he wasn’t faking. He looks like a normal person (of the time period) and I felt his true anguish and terror. Nothing felt forced. It was a spot on acting job.

But I do give Sean Bean his credit. I know that every time I watch a Sean Bean

The evil wench, Carice van Houten.

film, I’m getting a true to life, Shakespearean performance. He cuts no corners when it comes to true acting. On some other levels I found John Lynch’s role as Wolfstan to be riveting. As the older and wiser 2nd in command, Wolfstan tries to protect all that he can and do so with kindess. That kind of heartfelt performance comes from some attention to detail. A little nod to Andy Nyman, a pretty funny guy who applied some dark comedy to Black Death. This was a big turnaround role for me last seeing him as the portly and spunky friend of a friend in Death at a Funeral (the real one). I mistook Johnny Harris, the big old badass with twinblades for Eddie Marsan, and if you’re familiar, you may understand my mistake. Both bald, both bearded, both decent actors.

Will love find a way in such dark times?

As with most adventure movies like this (not exactly adventure, I guess I mean questing), you get to know all the characters in the travelling party a little bit. But not enough to really care whether some of them live or die. I mean… Griff and the mute guy Ivo in this movie? One had boils and one couldn’t talk. Not much was lost when they were killed. Not to say their characters weren’t important, it’s just with movies like this, you can tell the expendables from the not so. So when it comes down to the last guys, then you feel the heartache.

And with this classic film form in mind, the storyline bloodily zips along to its conclusion. Some twists and turns and some witches who burn, the transformation of Osmund is the final result of this film. Told in an almost brutal, Gerard Butler in Beowulf kind of way, a bit of magic never hurts to mix in. This movie delivers how its supposed to and makes for a fine period piece. I’ll give it an 8.1 out of 10.

Truly symbolic.

 


Puella Magi Madoka Magica: The Darker Side of a Magical Girl

Alright, I have to tell everyone now that, out of all the genres of anime out there, I am the least fan of magical girl anime. And the prospect of sitting down to watch this anime kind of gave me the willies. The misconceptions on magical girl anime run abound in our society and in Japanese society. Sailor Moon: A bunch of girls transforming without the power to beat the bad guy without the help of Tuxedo Mask. The Powerpuff Girls on Cartoon Network and their original, scarier version of transformation from Powerpuff Girls Z. I mean, come on, those transformations take forever. And the bad guys are a joke. Mojojojo? (I gotta say, Him is the only good bad guy from that series.) But then I was presented a show that completely breaks the stereotype of what exactly defines a magical girl anime, even though it clearly stays in the boundaries… to an extent.

In the town of Mitakihara, there exists a school in which Madoka Kaname, Homura Akemi, and Sayaka Miki, three young middle school students, exist in a world of evil. All around them, evil spirits known as witches cause havoc and chaos in the best way they know how. Murders and suicides. And the only way these beings can be stopped is by the power of the magical girls. And the only way these girls can become magical is through the power of through Kyubey, a creepy cat-like alien that will grant your wish.

Kyubey. Screw that little freak...

And that’s where the twist comes in. After encountering Mami Tomoe, a veteran magical girl who has lived the life of a magical girl, the true weight of just exactly what it means to fight the witches hits them. Sayaka and her love interest clashes with the use of her wish and his disability, and Madoka and her indecision leaves conflict in her wake throughout the show. The ending is slightly confusing, but there is a constant element of danger that is ironically juxtaposed (my least favorite word to use, sorry) against the comically drawn witches of innocence and childish fantasy. It all works out in the end, as expected from a magical girl anime, but not in a way that leaves everyone in a win-win situation. With that breath of fresh air achieved in 12 episodes, an amazing amount of twists and turns are evilly inserted in a short amount of time, really breaking away from what I would consider a bland form of anime into a more interesting one.

You know what caught my eye the most? The animation in relation to the witches. Every time in which the magical girls had to interact with the witches in their world, I was blown away by the different animated styles of the witches. Either crayon colored whimsy or a collage of layered paper, I was intrigued by the clash of anime and art. The fluidity of the two worlds combined was stylistically stimulating.

Some of the more interesting artwork in Madoka Magica.

The pain and anguish behind the show that permeates each episode is something one wouldn’t expect from a livelier, happy form of anime. The choices and decisions of the characters and the secrets they hide from one another leave gaps that none of the characters can cross in order to connect. Not as a

The interesting girls of M.M.

drawback, but more as a connection by separation. Feeling for the characters comes as a challenge for me (especially some of the more fated of characters like Sayaka and and Mami) but one character that stood out with her cruelty and activity was Kyoko Sakura. Although you don’t meet her until later, she’s well worth the wait.

So, all-in-all, Madoka Magica is a quick watch with a lot compiled into its short run. And, in this case, quality over quantity, one of the greatest assets of the anime. With an interesting plot scope and character development (for the most part) with the combination of fate and decision, the magical girl stereotype is effectively squashed. The powers are interesting and the tradeoff is quite good. Never sign the contract, but check this show out. A solid 7.3 out of 10.

This has nothing to do with the show, but it gives you a taste of the anime’s look, with some Suckerpunch 😛


AnoHana: A Title Too Long, An Anime Too Sad

The characters of AnoHana

Okay, the title is far too long. Ano Hi Mata Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai. Roughly translated, We Still Don’t Know the Name of the Flower We Saw that Day. (Probably actually translated) I’m no expert in the Japanese language, but… Why? Anyways, that’s besides the point. This was a phenomenal show. It was also phenomenally sad. With angst and tears in hand, this show could do no wrong. For the most part.

First recommendation about this show. Watch this by yourself. No groups

The Haunting by Menma.

allowed. Unless you and another few people really wanna attempt to cry and connect with your emotional side, then do so by yourself. It’s well worth it. Second, watch this subbed. The dubbed version is not out, may take a while, but make sure this is watched subbed. The Japanese voice actors in this show give a whole new meaning to emotional acting. And third, whatever you do, love Yukiatsu. He is the most fantastic character in this anime. Not a jerk.

The cute children of AnoHana!

To the plot. This show is about a group of friends who, when they were children, called themselves the Super Peace Busters. Slightly strange, but they were for justice and peace, not for busting it. (Or were they?) Jintan, Menma, Anaru, Yukiatsu, Tsuruko, and Poppo would hang out all the time playing Nokemon and playing in the forest in their amazingly built clubhouse for a bunch of small children. One day tragedy strikes and Menma dies. This horrific accident separates the group forever.

Until one day, Jintan starts seeing Menma and what appears to be her poltergeist apparition form. Menma is now older and has aged like all the others to their high school age. Acting  just like she did when she was younger, she now stands in stark contrast to those who lost her so many years ago.

Unconrtrollable tears!

Jintan has become a shut in who no longer attends school, Anaru has become what appears to be a snobby slut, Yukiatsu and Tsuruko have become cold hearted people, and Poppo is the only one who has remained the same.

Giving Menma appearing to him as an illusion of the summer heat, Jintan continues to go about his usual life. Having lost his mother, his father and him have seemed to grow apart to a superficial level. But, slowly but surely, Jintan begins to connect with Menma and starts to remember the emotions and feelings of his childhood. With Menma not knowing what exactly is her purpose on “haunting” Jintan, Jintan must try and grant her wish and send her to Heaven.

Yukiatsu, my love.

There is one thing and one thing only to say about this show. Tears. This show trys in every capacity, every episode, to make you cry. Not even the frequent intermissions of comic relief can attempt to dry your eyes of the sadness. The ending song itself functions as a key to emotionally end every episode on a revelation/sadness scene. And it is so damn effective. You become entirely attached to all the characters and want them to come to terms with Menma’s death and become friends again. And it doesn’t look possible. The alienation of growing up and high school, coupled with traumatizing death seems to leave them all hopeless. You wish the best for them and cry when things turn out all right. Just not in the way you’d think.

The comic relief needs to flowww.

With all the emotion and revealing scenes of twist and turns, this show just deliver and delivers. It spares not a minute of its short 11 episode run. The story is told and you’re left with a feeling of warmth beside a feeling of loss inside. And that makes it worth it. But you know what? I don’t want to cry every episode. I don’t mind spilling my man tears, but when you’re beaten over the head and told to cry, does the act of emotion and sadness really become an effective anime in the end? With the characters, I would say yes! Please for the love of God, Yukiatsu is the person I wanna be! (Wink wink) But with the plot and short period of time it has to function, give me a break every other episode. Let me dry my eyes and not feel this is kind of stupid in the heaviest melodramatic Lifetime movie way possible. Don’t try to make me cry for the sake of crying. Make me happy to shed tears for those I care about. Not unecessary tears of circumstance.

That being my only contention with this show, it takes it down heavily from the 10 out of 10 category and down into the 8 out of 10 category. But based solely on Yukiatsu, give it the 10 out of 10. Final verdict, 7.9 out of 10.