Browsing ABC Film Reviews by Author "Prescott, Nicholas Adrian"
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Item"1408" directed by Mikael Hafstrom [review](Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2007-11-22) Prescott, Nicholas Adrian1408 is a puzzling film, in many ways. It’s puzzling primarily because John Cusack is in it, and it’s not a very good film. This is an oddity, in my opinion; the ever-likeable Cusack very rarely steps out of line, usually pairing engaging turns as co-writer with canny role choices onscreen. Sadly, this, Cusack’s latest outing as a leading man, is a very dull experience; he neither wrote nor produced nor executive-anythinged it; indeed it seems suspiciously like he might have been offered too good a deal as an actor to refuse, and that he took the money and ran. Don’t get me wrong, he’s fun to watch, and he plays the not-quite-average-Joe with great skill, but it’s all in service of a film that you’re likely to forget the moment the final credits’ reflection fades from your eyeballs. Item"3:10 To Yuma" directed by James Mangold [review](2008-02-14) Prescott, Nicholas AdrianFifty years ago, Elmore Leonard (these days most revered as a crime writer, whose novels include Get Shorty, Out of Sight and Killshot, which has also just been filmed) wrote a short story called 3:10 to Yuma. It centred around the struggle to escort a nasty stagecoach-robber and gunslinger, Ben Wade (here played by Russell Crowe) to a train that would transport him to Yuma prison. Delmer Daves directed a film version in 1957 which starred Van Heflin and Glenn Ford, and which was well-received as a decent Western made during the classical Hollywood cycle. These days of course, really good, traditional Westerns are few and far between, but James Mangold’s updating and remake of Leonard’s story proves to be a terrific return to this tried and true genre. Mainly for lads it may well be, but it’s a hell of a pic if you fit the demographic. Item"Across the Universe" directed by Julie Taymor [review](Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2008) Prescott, Nicholas AdrianDirector and co-writer Julie Taymor gets points here for concocting one of the strangest and most fascinating musicals of recent years. Across the Universe is a story of the 1960s and of the now, performed as a dramatic musical set entirely to the great songs of The Beatles. With a strong and affecting narrative tied together by often breathtaking modern performances of the great Lennon/McCartney pieces, Across the Universe is a strange and at times staggering trip. Item"Bee Movie" directed by Steve Hickner and Simon Smith [review](Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2007-12-06) Prescott, Nicholas AdrianIt’s very clear that the Christmas holidays are on their way: we’ve got the first of the season’s family films, here in the shape of the “computer-animated comedy voiced by Hollywood royalty” - Bee Movie. The film has been co-written, produced and graced with a central vocal performance by Jerry Seinfeld, the man who made a genuine fortune as star of his own legendary sitcom and who has been far from the limelight for quite some time. Item"Beowulf" directed by Robert Zemeckis [review](Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2007-11-29) Prescott, Nicholas AdrianBeowulf, the latest computer-animated blockbuster-wannabe to emerge from Hollywood’s studios, is in some ways a follow-up to director Robert Zemeckis’ 2004 CGI extravaganza, The Polar Express. Zemeckis, who has long held a kind of secondtier monopoly on Hollywood fare beneath Steven Spielberg, has always embraced cutting-edge technology in order to make the special effects in his films as eyepopping as possible. Those of us who are old enough to remember when the original Back to the Future was released (in 1985) will attest to the fact that, in its day, that film was about as remarkable for its visual effects as it was for its wildly entertaining story. Zemeckis has had many successes subsequently, from Who Framed Roger Rabbit? to Forrest Gump and Castaway, and all of them have had their share of behind-the-scenes techno-gimmickry to keep them buzzing. With Beowulf, Zemeckis has continued the SFX tradition, and has looked to an extraordinarily old narrative in order to pilfer a storyline: a poem that’s roughly 1,000 years old. The results, sadly, are nowhere near as successful as Michael J. Fox in a Delorean time-machine. Item"Borat" directed by Larry Charles [review](2006) Prescott, Nicholas AdrianSacha Baron Cohen is a man who’s used to offending people. For years now the gifted British comic has, in his hugely successful TV shows, created and masqueraded as a series of idiotic and hilarious caricature figures, most famously the sexist homeboy Ali G and the buffoonish TV host Borat Sagdiyev. Through these creations, Cohen has satirised not just the broad cultural types he’s playing with, but the gamut of reactions that they generate in others, as well. It’s a fascinating kind of comedy, predicated upon the comic’s cunning ability to catch his audience(s) entirely offguard. Cohen seems to be a master at it, and with this new film version of Borat he has brought his extraordinarily confronting comic gift to the big screen. Item"The Bourne Ultimatum" directed by Paul Greengrass [review](2007-08-16) Prescott, Nicholas Adrian2007 has certainly been the year of Hollywood “threequels”. Spider-Man 3, Ocean’s Thirteen, Shrek the Third and Pirates of the Caribbean 3 have all seen release this year, and now we await the third instalment of the hugely successful Bourne series, which will hit our screens at the end of this month. The Bourne Ultimatum (which follows The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Supremacy) is currently smashing its way through almost everything else at the US box-office, and will no doubt make a significant impact when it opens here. Item"The Brave One" directed by Neil Jordan [review](Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2007) Prescott, Nicholas AdrianThere’s arguably no film more disappointing than one that demonstrates just how intelligent and well made it can be, only to betray that intelligence by selling out to lowest-common-denominator elements in the end. The Brave One is, sadly, just such a film; it begins evocatively and develops intelligently, only to end preposterously. So near, as they say, and yet so far. Item"Cars" directed by John Lasseter [review](Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2006) Prescott, Nicholas AdrianThe latest offering from the Pixar animation studio finds itself in an odd predicament. As the most recent entry in a series of astonishingly entertaining computer-animated films, Cars has an awful lot to live up to, and while the film is by no means terrible, it really does suffer from comparisons with its siblings. Pixar’s Toy Story (1995), A Bug’s Life (1998), Monsters, Inc (2001) and especially The Incredibles (2004) were all brilliantly funny and wildly entertaining; the films set successive benchmarks for the quality of computer-animation, and they all demonstrated their makers’ awareness of the one crucial element that sets extraordinary kids’ films apart from more everyday offerings – wonderful writing. Cars, by contrast, comes off as an extremely technically proficient but ultimately lacklustre effort. Extraordinarily realized in a technical sense, with cutting-edge digital animation that truly boggles the mind, Cars looks and sounds amazing: it’s the premise and the narrative itself that let the film down. Item"Casino Royale" directed by Martin Campbell [review](Australian Broadcasting Coperation, 2006) Prescott, Nicholas AdrianMost audience members will have gleaned the basic facts about the latest in the 007 franchise by now, so I’ll keep the facts here to the bare-bones variety. This is the 21st entry in the most successful series of films in cinema history, and it stars Daniel Craig as a newly-minted James Bond, taking up where Pierce Brosnan most recently left off. Based upon Ian Fleming’s first ever Bond novel, Casino Royale is a “modernised trip back in time”, if you will; set in today’s high-tech environment, it travels back to the beginnings of the Bond mythology, beginning Bond’s story as a “double-0” agent and following him as he earns his license to kill. Item"Children of Men" directed by Alfonso Cuaron [review](Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2008) Prescott, Nicholas AdrianChildren of Men will, I suspect, be remembered alongside other dark cautionary tales like Brave New World and Nineteen Eighty-Four. The film is based upon a novel by well-regarded crime writer P.D. James, who has occasionally written what is broadly termed “Literary fiction”. The novel upon which Children of Men is based was first published in 1992, and shares much with the dystopian science fiction of Huxley and Orwell. Set in a devastated Britain of 2027, the novel depicts a society that has become infertile: women are unable to conceive children and the population is nearing its “end of days”. With a background of devastating environmental decay and widespread anarchy, this is a bleak story indeed, and it has been turned into a bleak and brilliant film by director Alfonso Cuaron. Item"The Counterfeiters" directed by Stefan Rudzowitcky [review](Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2008-05) Prescott, Nicholas AdrianFilms set during World War II often come laden with extraordinarily heavy emotional baggage, and while The Counterfeiters isn’t exactly an exception to this rule, it at least provides as uplifting and humanist a message as is possible, given its setting and subject matter. In the hands of a man who, on the surface of things, seems the most unlikely director, The Counterfeiters tells the true story of a group of German Jews who, while imprisoned in a concentration camp during the second world war, were given certain privileges and leniencies in return for engaging in a large-scale forgery effort on behalf of the German Army. Item"The Departed" directed by Martin Scorsese [review](Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2006-10-12) Prescott, Nicholas AdrianFor any serious cinemagoer or lover of film as an art form, the arrival of a new film by Martin Scorsese is a reason to get very excited indeed. Scorsese has long been regarded as one of the greatest of America’s filmmakers; since the mid-1980s he has been regarded as one of the greatest filmmakers in the world, period. With landmark works like Taxi Driver (1976), Raging Bull (1980), Goodfellas (1990) and Bringing Out the Dead (1999) to his credit, Scorsese is a director for whom any actor will go the distance, and the casts the director manages to assemble for his every project are extraordinarily impressive. As a visualist Scorsese is a force to be reckoned with, and his soundtracks regularly become known as classic creations; his regular collaborators, including editor Thelma Schoonmaker and cinematographer Michael Ballhaus are the best in their respective fields. Paraphrasing all of this, one could justifiably describe Martin Scorsese as one of the most important and interesting directors on the face of the planet. Item"Die Hard 4.0" directed by Len Wiseman [review](Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2007-08-09) Prescott, Nicholas AdrianWhen it opened in 1988, the original Die Hard wowed audiences, ushered in a new generation of blockbuster Hollywood action-thrillers, and made a megastar of Bruce Willis, who was, at the time, the still-hirsute star of TV’s Moonlighting. The director of the original film, John McTiernan, was a young filmmaker whose skills with an action sequence were considerable; he would return to the franchise a few years later to make the third instalment, Die Hard With A Vengeance, a disappointing though still very bankable entry. Item"The Dinner Guest" directed by Laurent Bouhnik [review](Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2008-04-10) Prescott, Nicholas AdrianDaniel Auteuil, the ubiquitous French actor who is as talented as he is prolific, has spent at least twenty years now as an A-list performer in his native country. Making quite an impression as the love-struck country bumpkin in the much-loved Jean de Florette (1986), and making many films over the years with his wife Emmanuelle Beart, Auteuil has lately been seen in everything from touching stories of disability (The Eighth Day) to unnerving psychological thrillers (Hidden) and gorgeous romantic comedies (Apres Vous). Here, working with three other skilled performers, Auteuil is in fluffy comic territory, but, sadly, both script and director Laurent Bouhnik have let him down. Item"Dr Plonk" directed by Rolf de Heer [review](Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2007) Prescott, Nicholas AdrianThis delightful comedy from Rolf de Heer serves to once again prove that the Adelaide-based filmmaker is one of the most gifted and restlessly inventive filmmakers working in the medium. A silent black-and-white film made in the tradition of Buster Keaton and the Keystone Cops, Dr Plonk is a slapstick tale about (among other things) the perils of time-travel and the resourcefulness of Jack Russell Terriers. Item"Four Holidays" directed by Seth Gordon [review](Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2008-12-04) Prescott, Nicholas AdrianThere are a number of semi-intriguing things about this film, and possibly a greater number of not-so-intriguing elements that manage to tip the scales to take it from being potentially interesting to really rather nondescript and forgettable. The first faintly intriguing thing about Four Holidays is its title, which has been changed for we Australians. The film’s US title is Four Christmases, and Santa only knows why the title was changed for its Antipodean audience. Perhaps we’re regarded as a more secular nation than the US of A? Who knows. What we want to know here is whether or not it’s a decent film, and the answer, in my opinion, is “Well, sort of.” Item"A Good Year" directed by Ridley Scott [review](Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2006) Prescott, Nicholas AdrianWhen I heard that one of my favourite directors of all time, English filmmaker Ridley Scott, was making a romantic comedy, I could scarcely believe it. This is the man who, over the years, has brought us spectacular cinematic experiences like Gladiator, Alien, Bladerunner, and Legend, none of which are particularly comedic, and all of which stand as beautifully-crafted films whose most striking characteristic is the extraordinary Ridley Scott visual style that overlays their every frame. Scott’s cinematographic stamp, a gorgeous aesthetic sheen that has influenced a generation of video-clip directors and advertising executives, has been much-imitated by other filmmakers but has, in my opinion, never been surpassed. Scott’s visual style is a compelling trademark indeed, but it seems less suited to intimate human dramas than it is to action films, period spectacles and fantasies. Item"The Hulk" directed by Louis Leterrier [review](Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2008-06-12) Prescott, Nicholas AdrianIn 2003, Taiwanese director Ang Lee (of all people) made a new entry into the comicbook filmmaking franchise with his version of the angry green fellow, the Incredible Hulk. Lee, at that time most famous for his intimate family dramas, and a few years later to make a huge splash with Brokeback Mountain, seemed the oddest choice of director to be matched with such a project, and in my opinion the 2003 film really didn't work. Eric Bana seemed miscast as Bruce Banner/The Hulk, and Jennifer Connelly struggled somewhat amidst all the CGI crash-and-bang. Despite one or two engaging action set-pieces, much of Lee's version seemed just plain silly to me, and to many other critics besides. Item"An Inconvenient Truth" directed by Davis Guggenheim [review](2006-09-14) Prescott, Nicholas AdrianI was as surprised as everybody else was when I learned that the former Vice- President of the United States was starring in a soon-to-be-released motion picture. Once the rest of the information about An Inconvenient Truth emerged, however, the project made perfect sense. Al Gore, the man who famously lost the 2000 US Presidential election by the proverbial bee’s whisker, has long been a passionate advocate of environmental awareness. For some years, Gore has traveled the world delivering lectures designed to raise awareness about the pressing dangers of climate change and Greenhouse emissions. This film is a part of that effort.