Fight Club (1999)

Genre: Drama

Director: David Fincher

Writers: Chuck Palahniuk, Jim Uhls

Starring: Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Helena Bonham Carter

Rating: ★★★★★

Fight Club is something special, a film which is like no others in terms of story, action, characters and the ridiculous detail that has been sweated over to make everything just that extra bit phenomenal. It is a film which amazes you the first time you watch it, and then the second, third, fourth all have the same effect as you start to notice little in-jokes and hidden elements. The writing is great, dialogue beyond great, with the acting, directing and look being completely lovable and “sexy”. Fight Club is definitely a favourite, definitely a classic and definitely a film which deserves every single bit of praise it gets.

Our main focus is Jack (Edward Norton), Jack isn’t his real name, we don’t find out his real name, but will we call him Jack, for Jack sounds better than simply “the narrator”. He is the narrator however, and he tells his story looking back on how he has ended up spitting vowels onto a dirty gun that’s been shoved down his throat. He’s a slave to Ikea, his job and his insomniac mind which will not let him sleep, on the way back from work he arrives to find his condo blazing and his much loved furniture nothing but burnt fragments lying on the floor. He has nothing, everything that he is was in that apartment, and so he rings Tyler (Brad Pitt). Tyler is the most interesting single serving friend Jack has ever met; Tyler sells soap and briefly shared his plane journey with Jack earlier that day and the two meet and Jack stays at Tyler’s house. The lifestyle is different, there is no nice furniture, TV, hot water, yet Jack is happy, he is free. Tyler and Jack create Fight Club, a place where men can be free, where pain is a replacement for fear and violence is a replacement for crying, there is no therapy just fighting. However Fight Club catches on, gets out of control, and soon spirals into Project Mayhem which could spell oblivion, but what it means for Jack is much much more.

Fight Club is mind-blowing in every sense of the word, to tell more of the story is a crime but it withholds one of the greatest plot twists and endings to a film. Jack is a modern-day man; he represents most men, a generation of men which have been raised in a feminist society, but is that right? The film speaks so much, Tyler speaks so much, and when analysed you can see so many ideas and the brilliance behind the concept. The concept of this story is great, two men, Tyler and Jack creating something so simple yet so dangerous and something that is apparently somewhat nature for men. It is much more though than the fighting, Jack and Tyler have a relationship with Marla (Helena Bonham Carter) a lost soul, yet it brings so much excitement and thrill. The story involves humour, everything from the character of ‘Bob’ to fight club homework assignments, then the action with explosions and soap, and finally the mystery, the absolute awe of what has been created and witnessed.

However one of the most likeable aspects of Fight Club is our characters, Jack for starters is just a slave to the world, but what he turns into is very different, rebellious and free we like him and admire him. Tyler is the definition of fun; no-one who sells soap and wears flower suits can be as cool as Tyler. Then Marla, it all starts with Marla, she is witty, and despite neglected she is so important. Brad Pitt is brilliant and so is Edward Norton, they portray their characters flawlessly, Pitt is fun just like Tyler, whilst Norton although more serious is likable and sympathetic just like Jack.

Fight Club is in my opinion the best film Fincher has ever directed and he certainly is remembered for it. The directing is new, and clever, the explosion scene in the condo is a single moment which highlights this alongside the opening title sequence. Fincher creates a dark gloomy look but it complements the exciting characters and story in a strange way. The effects are great, the fighting looks real, the blood looks even more real and the aftermath of “Blondie’s” fight looks brilliant. Everything within Fight Club seems faultless. The score should also be mentioned, its electric feel is needed whilst the end song is somewhat nostalgic to hear, let alone completely complimentary.

Fight Club is unexplainable, once watched more than once your admiration increases. The writing is one of my favourites, from dialogue to the wrapping up of each storyline and plot. The overall product is flawless and there’s no wonder why it is regarded so highly.  It is my favourite performances from both lead actors whilst they are also both of my favourite characters. Fight Club is a classic, and there’s no debating about that.

 

 

 

 

 

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Panic Room (2002)

Genre: Drama, Thriller, Crime

Director: David Fincher

Writer: David Koepp

Starring: Jodie Foster, Kristen Stewart, Forest Whitaker

Rating: ★★★★

Panic Room is a film that is both clever and at the same time thrilling, Fincher although not creating a classic but a film which is always remembered and known. A great storyline with innovative effects make for an entertaining and fulfilling watch, whilst stars such as Jodie Foster and a young Kristen Stewart add solid performances to cap of a good release.

The storyline focuses on a woman and her daughter on their first night within their new large Victorian three-floor apartment. Meg (Jodie Foster) is mum to Sarah (Kristen Stewart), divorced she looks after her diabetic and bold teenage daughter but her night is troubled when intruders invade. Three men searching for a missing and hidden fortune break into their new home but when Meg and Sarah are awoken by their surprised visitors they take refuge in the house’s panic room but what the intruders want is where the hosts are hiding. The intruders think of ways to fight their way in and scare the pair out, but locked away Meg and Sarah try their best to survive and get help fuelling for some exciting events.

Thrilling is an understatement, there are many jumpy and heart-racing moments throughout Panic Room achieved by some great screen-writing. There’s real horror to the idea of someone breaking in whilst you’re asleep and likewise being trapped within your own house with three intruders. There always seems to be huge plot twists and deciding moments too which keeps the story not only entertaining but fast-paced which is a huge highlight to Panic Room.

The acting ensemble is also a distinguishing feature to Fincher’s film; Jodie Foster and Kristen Stewart give solid performances which add to the film’s thrilling experience.  However equally as impressive was the roles and acting of the three intruders. Forest Whitaker, Dwight Yoakum, Jared Leto play Burnham, Raoul and Junior. Whitaker’s Burnham is a great character although a thief and burglar there is a real likable and sympathetic aspect to his character and persona. Whilst newly Oscar-famed Jared Leto plays the brilliant, clueless and funny character of Junior who is equally lovable and hateable. Panic Room’s performances really live up to the films overall quality and add again to the experience created.

David Fincher’s directing is great really creating the heavy, isolated and somewhat claustrophobic feel very successfully. The way the camera’s floated through everything and fly around the house is awe-inspiring something very new and innovative for almost 12 years ago. The very opening credits as the letters floated on the Manhattan backdrop was flawless and set the tone for the amazing camera work throughout. Although this is an underrated release from Fincher he should be praised for not only bravery to accept such a challenging task but his excellence in achieving such an exciting film which is only set within one house and mainly in one room.

The only faults that Panic Room holds are at times the annoyance that gets created by Foster’s Meg’s clumsiness. At many times simple things turn into drastic and dramatized moments, such as reaching for a fallen phone and knocking over loud furniture which at times can even be predictable. The only other picky thing I can fault is how I would have liked to seen a bit more justice or closure on the character of Burnham. However these aspects really don’t put down this film too much.

Panic Room deserves much more praise than it gets, alongside writer and director David Koepp and David Fincher for creating such a thrilling clever film. It can be so tense and thrilling it is amazing considering the simplicity of the events and setting. It isn’t as outstanding as other Fincher films but it is new and unique and shouldn’t be forgotten, easily watchable and enjoyable Panic Room is the definition of entertainment in many ways.

 

Dallas Buyers Club (2014)

Genre: Biography, Drama, History

Director: Jean-Marc Vallée

Writers: Craig Borten, Melisa Wallack

Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Jared Leto

Rating: ★★★★½

Dallas Buyers Club is possibly one of the most touching films ever made that discus the topic of AIDS, with a powerful excellently-written story and a master-class in acting it makes for a fantastic watch and final end product. Visually appealing as well, it has racked up an impressive six Oscar Nominations and that’s not surprising as I’m sure this film will be regarded as one of the best come the ceremony and end of the year.

Dallas Buyers Club revolves around the life of Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey), a “trash park” hustler and electrician. Addicted to sex, drugs and alcohol his life is anything but serious however it all soon changes when he is diagnosed as being HIV positive. Fighting for his life he is told he has only thirty days to live but Ron’s responds “Let me give y’all a little news flash. There ain’t nothin’ out there can kill fuckin’ Ron Woodroof in 30 days”.  Diving into research about various drugs and trials he eventually discovers a new and illegal form of life-saving medication.  Inventing the “Dallas buyers’ club” he medicates those with AIDS across the country working his way around the system. On his journey not only does his life change but his view of the world and people, meeting extraordinary characters and forming extraordinary bonds, especially with fellow sufferer Rayon (Jared Leto). His fight with AIDS soon becomes a fight with the government, but Ron doesn’t give up on anything.

The story of Ron Woodroof is emotionally powerful, his change of attitude throughout is touching and warming. Writer’s Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack deserve much praise alongside their nomination of best original screenplay. When Ron first gets diagnosed it comes from out the blue after doctors ran blood tests due to a simple work-related injury, in denial the typical “redneck” screams “you calling me a fucking faggot”. However by the end of the film he is no longer a homophobic racist, or ashamed of his disease but a lead campaigner for AIDS working alongside those once called “faggot” sufferers to overthrow the government. The story is much different to other films, as much as it is about AIDS as a killer disease and how it struck 80’s America, it’s about how people first viewed the outburst and how those views and attitudes had to change.

An amazing cast give a somewhat master-class in acting that portrays this story to its full potential and establishes some heart-felt memorable relationships. Matthew McConaughey as Ron Woodroof is surely an award-winner, not only is his portrayal brilliant but the dedication to meet physical requirements is astonishing as he lost 47 pounds. Jared Leto an actor who knows a lot about changing physical condition for the big screen saw history repeat itself  as he lost 30 pounds alongside an amazing performance as Rayon a transsexual with AIDS, who soon becomes a business partner and good friend of Ron’s. The make-up department who have been nominated for an Oscar really does deserve a huge amount of credit for the transformation of the two main characters.

My only criticisms is the underdevelopment of certain characters especially Eve (Jennifer Garner), a doctor who treats both main characters in the film. I personally would have liked to see a more finalised ending instead of a list of facts and dates before the final credits too. Nevertheless Jean-Marc Vallée’s Dallas Buyers Club is an astonishing film, somewhat brilliant in many aspects this is a release that will win many awards, becoming a huge success for sure. Visually entertaining, remarkable acting and an excellent story make for a great film that is both touching, powerful and pleasant to watch. Dallas Buyers Club is a memorable release that should definitely be a must-see.

My Take on The Oscar Nominations

Oscar Nominations were released today after much wait, anticipation and speculation on which big releases could and should be accredited one of the most prestigious awards in the film industry. Here is the list of nominations with my own thoughts regarding who I think should and will take the award, applause and glory.

BEST PICTURE

12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Her, Nebraska, Philomena, The Wolf of Wall Street.

12 Years a Slave should and probably will be accredited and named The Best Picture at the 86th Oscar Ceremony after stunning its audience and collecting much praise and plaudits.

BEST DIRECTOR

David O. Russell – American Hustle, Alfonso Cuaron – Gravity, Alexander Payne – Nebraska, Steve McQueen – 12 Years a Slave, Martin Scorsese – The Wolf of Wall Street

This should be a close contest between Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity and Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave in my perspective as they were the two visual highlights out of the bunch. Cuaron behind one of the best visual experiences in cinematic history whilst McQueen refreshing and brilliant techniques captured so much in 12 Years a Slave.

BEST ACTOR

Christian Bale – American Hustle, Bruce Dern – Nebraska, Leonardo DiCaprio -The Wolf of Wall Street, Chiwetel Ejiofor – 12 Years a Slave, Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club.

12 Years a Slave’s Ejiofor should deserve to win Best Actor however with the heaps of praise and success from McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club It could be stolen away.

BEST ACTRESS

Amy Adams – American Hustle, Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine, Sandra Bullock – Gravity, Judi Dench – Philomena, Meryl Streep – August: Osage County

Amy Adams is the majority’s choice to take claim to the Best Actress award but giving the performance of her career in Gravity it would be much deserved if Sandra Bullock took the glory.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

American Hustle – Written by Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell, Blue Jasmine – Written by Woody Allen, Her – Written by Spike Jonze , Nebraska – Written by Bob Nelson, Dallas Buyers Club – Written by Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack

Spike Jonze’s Her, I hope will get named the Best Original Screenplay ahead of American Hustle after failing to amaze me and reach expectation.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Before Midnight – Written by Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, Captain Phillips – Screenplay by Billy Ray, Philomena – Screenplay by Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope, 12 Years a Slave – Screenplay by John Ridley, The Wolf of Wall Street – Screenplay by Terence Winter

12 Years a Slave absolutely amazed me, especially with its accurate adaptation, brutal realism and factual accuracy so this would be a strong shout for this award, however Captain Phillips was truly special so I wouldn’t be surprise if it stole the show here.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Lupita Nyong’o – 12 Years a Slave, Jennifer Lawrence – American Hustle, June Squibb – Nebraska, Julia Roberts – August: Osage County, Sally Hawkins – Blue Jasmine

Jennifer Lawrence although only playing a minor role stood out amongst others in American Hustle and should easily be credited as Best Supporting Actress.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Barkhad Abdi – Captain Phillips, Bradley Cooper – American Hustle, Michael Fassbender – 12 Years a Slave, Jonah Hill – The Wolf of Wall Street, Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club

Jared Leto apparently gave a wonderful performance in Dallas Buyers Club but I can’t see anyone accept Michael Fassbneder winning and deserving this award after his performance in 12 Years a Slave.

BEST ANIMATED FILM

The Croods, Despicable Me 2, Ernest & Celestine, Frozen, The Wind Rises

Frozen will most likely scoop The Best Animated Film award up after becoming a huge favourite, however I could see close competition from the great, Despicable Me 2.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

The Grandmaster, Gravity, Inside Llewyn Davis, Nebraska, Prisoners

I could see best cinematography being between Inside Llewyn Davis and Gravity but I couldn’t say which way.

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

Michael Wilkinson – American Hustle, William Chang Suk Ping – The Grandmaster, Catherine Martin – The Great Gatsby, Michael O’Connor – The Invisible Woman, Patricia Norris – 12 Years a Slave

American Hustle really did show off its excellence in this department and it should surely be credited by picking up the Oscar for Best Costume Design.

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

The Act of Killing – Joshua Oppenheimer and Signe Byrge Sørensen, Cutie and the Boxer – Zachary Heinzerling and Lydia Dean Pilcher, Dirty Wars – Richard Rowley and Jeremy Scahill, The Square – Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer, 20 Feet from Stardom – Nominees to be determined

The Act Killing is my favourite for this category.

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT

CaveDigger – Jeffrey Karoff, Facing Fear – Jason Cohen, Karama Has No Walls -Sara Ishaq , The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life – Malcolm Clarke and Nicholas Reed, Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall – Edgar Barens

BEST FILM EDITING

American Hustle – Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers and Alan Baumgarten,  Captain Phillips – Christopher Rouse, Dallas Buyers Club-  John Mac McMurphy and Martin Pensa, Gravity – Alfonso Cuarón and Mark Sanger,  12 Years a Slave –  Joe Walker

Gravity should have this one firmly in their grasp!

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

The Broken Circle Breakdown – Belgium, The Great Beauty -Italy, The Hunt – Denmark, The Missing Picture – Cambodia,  Omar Palestine

It was a big surprise to not see Blue is the Warmest Colour given a nomination for this category.

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

Dallas Buyers Club – Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa –  Stephen Prouty, The Lone Ranger –  Joel Harlow and Gloria Pasqua-Casny

Dallas Buyers Club would be my favourite for this award however again its a surprise to see American Hustle not getting nominated.

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

John Williams – The Book Thief, Steven Price –  Gravity,  William Butler and Owen Pallett –  Her,  Alexandre Desplat –  Philomena Thomas Newman – Saving Mr. Banks

Saving Mr Banks would be my favourite and a winner that would be much deserved.

BEST SOUND EDITING

All Is Lost – Steve Boeddeker and Richard Hymns,  Captain Phillips – Oliver Tarney, Gravity –  Glenn Freemantle , The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug –  Brent Burge, Lone Survivor – Wylie Stateman

Captain Phillips has amazing score but I was very impressed by Lone Survivor it would be more than deserved if they were awarded Best Sound Editing.

BEST SOUND MIXING

Captain Phillips –  Chris Burdon, Mark Taylor, Mike Prestwood Smith and Chris Munro,  Gravity – Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead and Chris Munro, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug –  Christopher Boyes, Michael Hedges, Michael Semanick and Tony Johnson, Inside Llewyn Davis –  Skip Lievsay, Greg Orloff and Peter F. Kurland,  Lone Survivor – Andy Koyama, Beau Borders and David Brownlow

Again this for me would be between Captain Phillips and Lone Survivor.

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

Gravity – Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk and Neil Corbould,  The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and Eric Reynolds,  Iron Man 3 –  Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Erik Nash and Dan Sudick,  The Lone Ranger – Tim Alexander, Gary Brozenich, Edson Williams and John Frazier, Star Trek Into Darkness – Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Ben Grossmann and Burt Dalton

I would like to see The Hobbit be accredited this award after the amazing appearance of Smaug however it would be no surprise to see Gravity make way with another victory.

I did miss out a few categories however these are the Oscar Nominations, there were a few shocks and surprises but I’m sure there will be plenty more upon ceremony night! I would appreciate it if you could comment below your thoughts and your favourites for the Oscars 2014.