xGary Xx (garyX)Birmingham, UK
xGary's Recent Reviews
The final installment of the Bourne franchise sees Matt Damon finally discovering who he is and who's behind this fine mess he's in. I must admit, I found this film an odd one. The usual formula of a thriller involves the story being set up for the first two thirds of the film, and the last half hour climaxes with a frenetic action set piece. In The Bourne Ultimatum, it's the other way round! The first hour and a half is more of Greengrass' wobbly cam following an earnest looking Damon as he runs through interchangeable corridors, chases down generic bad guys and speeds through traffic. There is literally no plot til the last half hour. It reminded me of The Matrix trilogy in that the second film seemed irrelevant, and the two sequels could easily have been compressed into one superior film. But as it stands, it's an entertaining enough thriller which ties up the story satisfactorily (if unsurprisingly) and at least the direction contained more drama and less seasickness than the second (the climactic car chase is actually very impressive indeed.) Still not as good as the first but it will please fans of the series.
Former US Labour Secretary Robert Reich's examination of the growing economic gap between the rich and poor makes for very sobering viewing in a kind of financial version of Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth. If anything, Reich's reputation and employment history makes him an even more credible figure and he clearly and concisely explains how this massive inequality in the distribution of wealth occurred and how it will affect the workers of his country. Of course the entitled right will dismiss everything he says as "propaganda" and "socialism" but anyone with any sense of impartiality will see it as mere common sense; if the super rich continue extracting all the wealth from an economy and fail to inject anything back as they consistently do through tax evasion, investment in the financial sector instead of job creation and manufacture, and the use of offshore accounts and tax havens then the system becomes unsustainable. Reich himself makes an likeable and straight talking front man and although the film, like An Inconvenient Truth, is based upon a lecture, his affability and use of attractive and informative infographics means it never fails to entertain, despite the rather worrying message. Fascinating stuff and I'd have to say that anyone who still thinks that unfettered capitalism is a good thing after viewing this film must be the economic equivalent of a Creationist!
xGary's Favorite Movies
Career criminal Henry Hill reminisces upon his life of crime in this true life story based on an actual FBI case. Goodfellas is the perfect film. It has the perfect blend of drama, gritty violence and humour as we see the dark side of the American dream played out over 25 years of a wise guy's life. The people depicted here do not play by society's rules and have their own set of laws and conventions revolving around the pure pursuit of profit in this, the logical conclusion of capitalism. The livelihoods and lives of others are commodities to be used up and tossed away and life is cheap to these mobsters whose stated obsession with loyalty and family is also soon forgotten for the "big score", leading to total anarchy. The combination of DeNiro, Liotta and Pesci makes for a brilliant triple act and there are so many classic scenes it's easy to lose count. The idea to tell the story in a "Wonder Years" format using one of the best soundtracks ever compiled was a stroke of genius and the post modern conclusion the perfect way to end the story. For me, Goodfellas is the best film ever made. Full stop.
Daesu Oh is a drunk and a philanderer but otherwise a fairly typical husband and father, until one day he is kidnapped and imprisoned in a cell for 15 years with only a TV set for company and no word of explanation. One day he wakes up on the outside with only a wallet and a phone, and he sets out on a single-minded quest to find out why he was imprisoned and extract bloody vengeance on those responsible. The second part of the Vengeance Trilogy by Chan-wook Park, Oldboy is a bizarre and brilliant film. It constantly wrong foots you and messes with your perceptions, and contains the kind of revelation that makes the kind of so-called plot "twists" of most films look gimmicky and inane. This is the kind of film that blows you away and makes you realise you've been watching the WHOLE THING from the wrong standpoint. As for Min-sik Choi's performance, astonishing is the only word for it...the way such intense emotions and motivations are constantly shifting without ever feeling contrived or forced is just spellbinding. It combines art and extreme violence in a way that reminded me of A Clockwork Orange, but better! It's also stylistically on the same level as Fight Club and is absolutely riveting from beginning to end. A virtually flawless modern masterpiece.