Film Friday #214

Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014)

Moses (Christian Bale) and Ramses (Joel Egerton) grow up together in the court of Pharaoh, Seti (John Turturro) as close as brothers. Moses is diligent and honourable, while Ramses is rash, vain and selfish. While inspecting a Hebrew slave site on Seti’s behalf Moses discovers that his history might not be what he thought it was and that there is a chance he was born a Hebrew. When his is brought to Ramses’ attention, he uses it as an excuse to banish Moses who he sees as a threat to his power. Moses heads into the desert, meets a woman, gets married, has a kid and becomes a shepherd but then he is visited by a small boy claiming to be the Hebrew god. God insists that Moses needs to go back to Egypt and check out what Ramses is up to because he’s not going to like it. After about five minutes of consideration Moses ups and leaves his family and heads home. Here he discovers that Ramses has been a pretty big penis in his absence and is working the Hebrew slaves to death. Moses goes to see Ramses and demands that he set his people free (although he never actually says that line which I found very disappointing) but Ramses isn’t have any of it so Moses starts training up some of the slaves (who seem to have a remarkable amount of freedom for slaves) for a war of attrition. But that’s not quick enough for god so he starts raining down some hellacious plagues on the people of Egypt, ones that won’t stop until Ramses relents. From a cinematic perspective Exodus: Gods and Kings is a bit crap because it’s too long and it meanders all over the place and the script is a bit flat and Bale and Egerton both seem to be sleepwalking through their roles. That said, the plagues look awesome and so does Memphis. Looking at it from a storytelling perspective I think Ridley Scott stiffed himself with some pretty challenging source material. Ramses is a pretty big penis but the Old Testament god is an even bigger penis. He abandons his people for 400 years, then he comes back and instead of just setting them free he decides to embark on a kind of douche warfare with a man who thinks he’s a god, while slowly trying to drive poor old Moses mental. It makes sense that Scott has decided to represent god as a small boy because he constantly behaves like a vengeful child. So regardless of how spectacular anyone tried to make this, it was always going to come down to the perils of the original story and I’m not sure it had a hope in hell. 2/5

It doesn't look a thing like me!

It doesn’t look a thing like me!

Birdman (2014)

Michael Keaton plays Riggan Thomas, an actor most well-known for playing a superhero called Birdman in series of successively less impressive films. Now in an attempt to revitalise his washed-up career and prove that he is more than just a man in a suit, Riggan is producing, directing and starring in a Broadway play. When his lead actor is incapacitated… possibly by Riggan’s own hand… he hires Broadway legend, Mike (Edward Norton). It’s not long before Mike starts to take over but that’s only one of Riggan’s worries because his junkie daughter, Sam (Emma Stone) is on the edge, he’s confused about his relationship with his co-star/girlfriend, Laura (Andrea Riseborough) and he may or may not actually not only be conversing with Birdman but also turning into him. As more and more things go wrong in the lead up to opening night Riggan will have to fight to hold it all together in what may be the biggest gamble he’s ever made. There is no question that Birdman is totally weird and nuts and that most of the time what is really happening and what is just in Riggan’s head is open to the interpretation of the audience. Keaton gives the performance of his life playing a man whose identity is so wrapped up in the opinions of others that in the his recent career vacuum he no longer has any idea who he is nor can he separate himself from his most popular character. Now, in what is his last opportunity to find some semblance of relevance, he realises that he has irreparably damaged the relationships with the only two people he cares about, Sam and his ex-wife, Sylvia (Amy Ryan). Riggan is not the only one wrestling with demons though, Mike’s relationship with his partner and co-star, Lesley (Naomi Watts) is struggling to survive their warring egos and he is unbale to engage with life unless he is onstage. Shot in a single scene, Birdman  makes you feel like you are inside the claustrophobic theatre with Riggan. I loved its off the wall way of tackling complex themes like identity, addiction, relationships, family and the nature of art and its clever balance between humour and bleakness. I feel like there was so much going on that I’m struggling to bring it all together in this review and truly demonstrate the layers symbolism that director, Alejandro González Iñárritu ties to bring together. This may be an indication that there is too much going but but I would still highly recommend catching this one for yourself. 4/5

Did you ever get that feeling you were being followed by a giant bird?

san Did you ever get that feeling you were being followed by a giant bird

The Theory of Everything (2014)

This biopic follows the life of Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne), one of the most notable physicists in history exploring both his professional and personal life. We meet Stephen, a somewhat lazy but brilliant student, as he is about to embark on his PHD at Cambridge University. It is here that he meets and falls in love with fellow student Jane Wilding (Felicity Jones) and starts developing the idea of a single equation that will explain the origins of universe. However at only 21 Stephen is diagnosed with motor neuron disorder, a degenerative disease, which will completely incapacitate him physically and most likely kill him within two years. Initially Stephen closes himself off from the world but Jane is adamant that she wants to spend her life with him and the two marry and begin a life together with Jane supporting Stephen as he continues his research. As the years pass Stephen gains more and more recognition but becomes progressively more unwell and the pressure of taking care of him and their growing family starts to take a strain on Jane and their marriage. The Theory of Everything is a straight-forward biopic, handled sensitively as any film based on a living subject must inevitably be but what elevates it above this is Eddie Redmayne’s spectacular portrayal of Hawakins. He so embodies a man who is so well known with such specific physicality that it is easy to forget that you are watching an actor at all. At the same time Felicity Jones does well to represent Jane as a fully realised character rather than just a side note to Hawkings life and the relationship between the two is heartfelt and affecting. I thought the balance between personal life and scientific elements was well handled and this is a touching and engaging biopic that both entertains and informs despite its simplicity. Redmayne is certainly a star in the making. 3.5/5

Caption

Nice gloves… wanna fuck?

Odd Thomas (2013)

Odd Thomas (Anton Yelchin) has special powers – he can see and communicate with dead people and sometimes his dreams come true. Mostly the dead want to show him bad things that are happening so he can do something to help which he manages with a little help from local police chief, Wyatt Porter (Willem Dafoe) and his beloved girlfriend, Penny (Ashley Sommers). Sometimes he sees these weird things called, bodachs, who show up when something really bad is going to happen and feed off pain, fear and other nasty things. One day while working at his job as diner chef, Odd sees a man surrounded by bodachs and realises that this is just the beginning of a series of portents of doom that are spelling out a very dark future for his town that will stretch his skills to the limit. There is something very amateurish about Odd Thomas despite the fact that Yelchin and Dafoe are pretty decent actors. I think this is mostly down to the incredibly cheesy script. No one talks like the people in this movie. It also doesn’t help that Penny is a ridiculously annoying character. Skippable. 1.5/5

XXX

Odd could smell doom and he was going to kick the shit out of it

24 Comments

  1. Exodus and The Theory of Everything just don’t interest me at all but I loved Birdman and I actually started watching Odd Thomas but fell asleep. I was surprisingly enjoying it, though, I have to admit. Nice work Abbi.

    1. Abbi

      Although The Theory of Everything doesn’t do anything revolutionary, Redmayne really is spectacular so it might be worth catching on VOD at some point. Exdodus is totally missable.

  2. Nice post, Abbi. I pretty much agree with your thoughts and ratings although I haven’t seen Odd Thomas and will probably pass on that one.

    1. Abbi

      It seems Odd Thomas has some fans so you might enjoy it more than I did.

  3. theipc

    I’ll probably never see any of these things – maybe Birdman – but I sure enjoyed your post 🙂

    Nice gloves… wanna fuck?

    1. Abbi

      Please go and see Exodus. I would love to read your review.

      If only I wasn’t already using my gloves on Mr O…

      1. theipc

        OK – for YOU – I’ll watch it when it’s out on Netflix : )

  4. Birdman is one those movies that lives up to the positive word of mouth. Funny, when the Oscar noms got announced, my local radio station DJs had no idea what Birdman was haha, I hope more people give it a watch. Nice post!

    1. Abbi

      It was packed when I went to see Birdman so it seems the buzz is getting out there. Although some of my colleagues went to see it and totally didn’t get it. I think it’s a bit of a challenging watch for the average mainstream cinemagoer.

  5. Excellent reviews! I need to see each one of these films. Except maybe ‘Odd Thomas’ that is! Thanks for always helping me learn about new films!

    1. Abbi

      Thank-you! I know some people who liked Odd Thomas but it was just a bit amateurish for me. There will always be new films waiting o a Friday 🙂

  6. Agree regards EXODUS. Its a well-made film (as is most everything Ridley Scott does) but its hampered by the source material. God behaves, well, like a crazy insane God really. Maybe it makes some sense in the Bible but in a 21st Century movie its all a bit nuts, and there is a sense that the casting of a kid as God is a way of excusing it all as the acts of a child having a tantrum. Maybe Ridley should have tied it into Prometheus and had one of those bald Engineers fooling around, you know, God Was An Alien, or something.

    1. Abbi

      In a way I think it kind of serves a purpose in that some people who haven’t ever really questioned the Bible on seeing it played out live must have gone, “hold on a minute…” Or am I giving too much credit? 😉 A child having a tantrum is a great analogy.

  7. Great post! I absolutely loved Birdman, fell asleep during Exodus, can’t wait to see Theory and will skip Odd Thomas.

    1. Abbi

      Mr O was dead to the world during Exodus. I am shocked that I managed to stay awake.

  8. Looks like you had a better film week than most 😛 Not too interested in seeing Exodus, though I am really looking forward to Birdman. One day… one day.

    1. Abbi

      It was definitely one of the better weeks. Has Birdman got a SA release date in amongst all the skop, skiet en donder that seems to be the only thing anyone ever wants to watch,

      1. It seems that it has just released now in the bigger cinemas. Nothing listed on mine yet 😦

        RIGHT?! Goodness, the big movies here never play for more than say… thirteen days at most.

  9. I wasn’t really planning on seeing The Theory of Everything since I’d already seen, and loved, Hawking, with Benedict Cumberyum.

    1. Abbi

      I haven’t seen Hawking but I can absolutely recommend The Theory of Everything if for nothing else but Redmayne’s performance.

  10. All movies that I still have to watch. Thanks for the reminder 🙂

    1. Abbi

      No problem! 🙂

  11. Haha! That glove comment was priceless. Okay… Screw that Moses movie – looks so overblown. I suppose I should see The Theory Of Everything – I’m just not in the mood for Oscar-y stuff at the moment. Did watch Birdman, though – glad you enjoyed it. 🙂 So the camel toe in Odd Thomas wasn’t enough to save the movie for you? Lol

    1. Abbi

      While normally camel toe is what I look for in every film, in the case of Odd Thomas it just wasn’t big enough. It can be tough to get into the “Oscary” stuff when you’re in the mood for less intense fare. The Theory of Everything is very touching and often amusing. I think you’d really like it.

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