Sunday, 29 January 2012

NEWS: Xbox Loop/720/NextBox Updates

Well there's a bit more information flying around the new Xbox system. Mainly that the AMD Radeon technology will be powering the graphics with a similar chipset to the 6670. Therefore it will have six times the raw processing power of the current Xbox 360 and will also make it faster than Wii U. Development kit should be with gaming companies as early as August.

The new Xbox console will also bite the bullet and play Blu-Rays, something it should be doing now anyway but doesn't want to admit total defeat by using a Sony product after the HD war between the consoles.

The big news is that this week it has been leaked that the new console will not allow you to play used games. There was talk an authentication code would be needed, or online verification. The seeds of this have been planted in games already but this really would be a shocking turn for gamers and something I think Sony should get behind the gamers on. It could give them the edge.

Also we're finally getting rid of the ridiculous Microsoft points system and going back to cold hard cash. I still to this day don't know how many points it is to the pound. It's a stupid currency that cheats gamers into thinking it's not real money that they are spending. Tut tut.

So there you have it, anything else people have heard that I haven't mentioned?

Saturday, 28 January 2012

NEWS: The Office Spin-Off Series

Seeing as the US Office has been getting progressively worse since Carrell left, it's good to see that they are willing to cut the old fat and try something new.

The series is going to be about Dwight and him going off to run his B&B on his farm. A lot of the cast's contracts end after this eighth season and it's been a pretty shit one to be honest.

The idea at the moment is that it will probably have one last ninth season, where halfway through Dwight will leave for the spin off. Nothing has been officially announced, but I think everyone knows that The Office is coming to a close, it's just not got any life left unfortunately.

REVIEW: Melancholia

One of my favourite directors Lars Von Trier makes one of the most interesting and beautiful films of 2011 in what only can be described as a pre-apocalyptic masterpiece.

I won't babble on about how much I swoon over Von Trier films but his work has never been for everyone. It's often slow yet energetic, meticulous yet rough, controversial yet realistic and the main element being that he is never afraid, a character trait that means his intellectual and artistic methods shine through his work and Melancholia is proof of this.

The film on the surface is about a depressive young lady getting married and the subsequent arrival of a hidden planet on a one way course to collide with Earth. Dunst is quite stunning as the crying bride and Gainsbourg plays the loving sister perfectly with every actor in it, even Sutherland, giving their best performance that we've seen for a while.

The opening sequences, and a lot of the movie are treated like living paintings. The scenes at the beginning are apparently famous works of art and they have to be the most beautiful shots I've ever seen in cinema, something incredible from a Dogma Dane. The slowly deteriorating mental health of Dunst is a sad yet beautiful thing to watch, literally melancholia, she has a horrible mother, a strange father and a husband whom she won't allow herself to love.

However, as the planet moves towards them, Dunst makes it clear that in her mania there is clarity, that by being mentally unhealthy you are almsot invulnerable to anything because of your vulnerability. If you're at your lowest, then there's nowhere else to go, even if it is the end of the world. In the mounting chaos surrounding them, Dunst grows calmer and more logical whereas Gainsbourg gets panic attacks and doesn't know how to deal with the situation. The two of them switch places and Dunst has accepted her fate. Melancholia isn't anything you can run from - it will find you.

Everything here is perfect, the story and the characters as well as the subliminal messages about the economy, sexuality, fate, space, time and God all in one film about a wedding. Don't get me wrong though, this won't appeal to everyone and it is quite slow, sometimes a tough watch and often you just want things to move forward - however it is cinema as art and will stay in your mind for days to come. I can't believe how great Dunst looks either and, if you're bothered, you see her naked. Maybe just go see it for that.

Rating: 9/10

REVIEW: We Need To Talk About Kevin

What happens when you really hate your kid? When he's an absolute monster? Could you still love him?

It's interesting to see a film that takes a book and completely makes it it's own creature. What I loved about this film is that it seamlessly blends in three completely different narratives. The present, the beginning of the family and the 'event' that has dictated the rest of all their lives. However, what is clear is that even though this is essentially about a mothers anguish in her abomination of a boy, it's also her attempt at dealing with her inner demons, the idea that all her faults, anger and issues have been personified into Kevin.

The director Lynne Ramsay who is largely unknown, does an incredible job of telling a moving story that Tilda Swinton relishes in. I've always thought she was somewhat overrated until this film, she really does truly shine and how she has missed out on even an Oscar nomination is beyond me. It's a harrowing tale that makes you wonder about the Catholic idea of Original Sin, if people are born evil, as Kevin's upbringing seems somewhat normal - why is it that he is such a monster? There's no real reason given to it, other than his relationship with his mother which is strange to say the least. Perhaps her hatred of him is just so clear that it twists him? Or perhaps it's some twisted Oedipus complex?

The main issue here is her realisation that she is the same as Kevin. They have the same habits, the same ideas, the same hatred for each other and it is something she can't face, herself. Is she as horrible as Kevin? The only way she can deal with it, is acceptance. She visits her boy in prison, not saying a word but refuses to leave town, she tries to live a normal life but resigns herself to her fate in misery and Hell.

The acting is superb, the script phenomenal and the story takes a subject that is very close to American hearts and shows a different perspective. This has to be every mother's nightmare and it kept me gripped throughout. Reilly was very strangely cast, but his friendly incompetence and lack of authority needed more focus, I also wished it could have been a bit longer. I wanted to see more about Kevin's life, what made him what he was. I also wanted more of Swinton's present life, that itself could have made for a more interesting film. Kevin is slightly too evil to be realistic, especially since this is something that someone would have picked up a long time ago, no matter how much he covers up. But still, great viewing and I'd say an essential watch.

Rating: 9/10

NEWS: Oscar Nominations & Why It's A Sh*t Year

Oscar nominations below and my thoughts:

Best Picture
"The Artist"
"The Descendants"
"Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close"
"Midnight in Paris"
"The Help"
"War Horse"
"The Tree of Life"

It's tough to go through this as I still haven't seen a lot of these films yet. However, I do think it comes between Tree Of Life and The Artist. Both have more artistic integrity and this is something that the Oscars will strive for. However, all the films here are quite predictable apart from Hugo, Scorcese's kids movie. Has anyone seen this?

Prediction: The Artist

Best Actor
Demian Bichir, "A Better Life"
George Clooney, "The Descendants"
Jean Dujardin, "The Artist"
Gary Oldman, "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"
Brad Pitt, "Moneyball"

I can't believe Clooney, the Oscar golden boy for his mock-independent films, will win again this year. I also think it's too much for Dujardin to win, instead it will be between Hollywood veterans Pitt and Oldman. It depends how Hollywood they want to go, but I would imagine Oldman as the older man and in such a well-respected piece of material will probably get the gold.

Prediction: Gary Oldman

Best Actress
Glenn Close, "Albert Nobbs"
Viola Davis, "The Help"
Rooney Mara, "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo"
Meryl Streep, "The Iron Lady"
Michelle Williams, "My Week With Marilyn"

I'd like to see Rooney Mara win this, but there is much more serious roles here. Close plays a man in Nobbs, and Streep practically plays a man in The Iron Lady but I can't help but think Viola Davis will get it - mainly as a nod towards the film rather than the acting.

Prediction: Viola Davis

Best Supporting Actor
Kenneth Branagh, "My Week With Marilyn"
Jonah Hill, "Moneyball"
Nick Nolte, "Warrior"
Christopher Plummer, "Beginners"
Max Von Sydow, "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close"

How Jonah Hill has got an Oscar nomination is beyond me, but then I haven't seen Moneyball so maybe it really is an Oscar worthy role. However, this time round I can't help but think Plummer will get it unless Sydow is amazing and I don't know it?

Prediction: Christopher Plummer

Best Supporting Actress
Berenice Bejo, "The Artist"
Jessica Chastain, "The Help"
Melissa McCarthy, "Bridesmaids"
Janet McTeer, "Albert Nobbs"
Octavia Spencer, "The Help"

God what a boring line-up, The Help I thought was actually offensive in its portrayal of the issue at heart and the rest are just so boring. So ...

Prediction: Berenice Bejo

Best Director
Woody Allen, "Midnight in Paris"
Michel Hazanavicius, "The Artist"
Terrence Malick, "The Tree of Life"
Alexander Payne, "The Descendants"
Martin Scorsese, "Hugo"

It has to be Malick right? Allen could get it, but this is really the only interesting category as it could truly go any way. People love Payne and Scorsese might just steal it away, even though he won for The Departed not too long ago. If Hazanavicius won against such director heavyweights I'd be extremely surprised.

Prediction: Terrence Malick

Best Original Screenplay
Woody Allen, "Midnight in Paris"
JC Chandor, "Margin Call"
Asghar Farhadi, "A Separation"
Michel Hazanavicius, "The Artist"
Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, "Bridesmaids"

In terms of the screenplay, I think Farhadi could pick this up for quite a heavily worded piece of work as opposed to comedy Bridesmaids (a simple nod to women in Hollywood), Hazanavicius (where it's a bit strange for a silent movie to win best screenplay) and the only real competitors I see are Allen and Chandor, but I think Farhadi will nip it.

Prediction: Asghar Farhadi 'A Seperation'

Best Adapted Screenplay
Alexander Payne, Nat Faxton, Jim Rash, "The Descendants"
John Logan, "Hugo"
George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Beau Willimon, "The Ides of March"
Aaron Sorkin, Steven Zaillian, "Moneyball"
Bridget O'Connor, Peter Straughn, "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy"

Surely Aaron Sorkin can't win again? I think Tinker Tailor will nip it, it's amazing source material and translated to screen very well.

Prediction: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Best Animated Feature
"A Cat In Paris"
"Chico & Rita"
"Kung Fu Panda 2"
"Puss in Boots"

No idea. Puss In Boots?

Prediction: Puss In Boots

Best Foreign Language Film of the Year
Bullhead (Belgium)
Footnote (Israel)
In Darkness (Poland)
Monsieur Lazhar (Canada)
A Separation (Iran)

Ummm.... A Seperation?

Prediction: A Seperation

Original Score
"The Adventures of Tintin," John Williams
"The Artist," Ludovic Bource
"Hugo," Howard Shore
"Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy," Alberto Iglesias
"War Horse," John Williams

Predictably, it's going to be Bource. Remember, they love The Artist

Prediction: Ludovic Bource

Best Original Song
"Man or Muppet," The Muppets; Music and Lyric by Bret McKenzie
"Real in Rio," Rio; Music by Sergio Mendes and Carlinhos Brown, Lyric by Siedah Garrett

Just two songs? Must be The Muppets.

Prediction: The Muppets

Best Achievement in Art Direction
"The Artist"
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2"
"Midnight in Paris"
"War Horse"

Hugo looks like a lot of art direction has gone into it, I can't see War Horse doing much as it's not very original, but The Artist does actually look like a silent film and for that, it must win.

Prediction: The Artist

Best Achievement in Cinematography
"The Artist"
"The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo"
"The Tree of Life"
"War Horse"

Prediction: The Tree Of Life

Best Achievement in Costume Design
"The Artist"
"Jane Eyre"

I have no idea really. Let's say ...

Prediction: Hugo

Best Documentary Feature
"Hell and Back Again"
"If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front"
"Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory"
Haven't seen any of them. Let's go by title.

Prediction: Undefeated
Best Documentary Short Subject
"The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement?"
"God Is the Bigger Elvis"
"Incident in New Baghdad"
"Saving Face"
"The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom"

Who knows?

Prediction: Saving Face
Best Achievement in Film Editing
"The Artist"
"The Descendants"
"The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo"

Prediction: The Artist

Best Achievement in Makeup
"Albert Nobbs"
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2"
"The Iron Lady"

Prediction: Harry Potter

Best Animated Short Film
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
La Luna
A Morning Stroll
Wild Life

Prediction: La Luna

Best Live Action Short Film
"The Shore"
"Time Freak"
"Tuba Atlantic"

Prediction: Time Freak

Best Achievement in Sound Editing
"The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo"
"Transformers: Dark of the Moon"
"War Horse"

Drive, one of the most amazing films for years, gets a mention for sound editing ... it's an absolute disgrace.

Prediction: Drive

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing
"The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo"
"Transformers: Dark of the Moon"
"War Horse"

Prediction: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Best Achievement in Visual Effects
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2"
"Real Steel"
"Rise of the Planet of the Apes"
"Transformers: Dark of the Moon"

Prediction: Hugo

Overall, this year looks awful, it's all about The Artist and The Descendants really. For a years worth of cinema to be boiled down to this shows it's either an awful year for cinema or otherwise the Academy Awards needs a kick up the arse. I'd say we should do our own bloody awards and it will be a lot more on the money than this pile of shit.

Seriously, one Oscar nomination for Drive? The Oscars can fuck right off.