Tuesday, 31 May 2011

March Films

This is the third month of writing up every film I see. After constantly promising myself that I will write less so that I actually have time to keep up, I have realised that it isn't possible. The way I've been doing this has taught me a lot, particularly testing my ability to constantly write, but it wasn't feeling right. I was neither being brief enough to give myself the time to get through everything, nor was I managing to be as in depth as I wanted to be.

Add to this the ever increasingly imminent commencement of my MA, so I feel the need to get into heavier works. I have a post on A ClockWork Orange going up on Hopelies' Kubrick Project in the next coupla Weeks. I'm really happy with how that has turned out and don't really want to go back to skimming over all films too quickly to get in depth.

What I am thinking of, is having a similar ranking system, but do it weekly and only write-up the film of that week. this might work, but as always i'll be looking for that perfect way to balance this writing, writing for other sources (some that even pay), working my two jobs, preparing material for the senior citizen screening's film discussions, doing fun family things, decorating the front room and other such domestic activities.

What I have been doing a great deal more of and this is certainly going to be reflected on here, is reading some fantastic comics. From the adaptation of Paul Auster's City of Glass, to Charles Burns' wonderfully surreal teen-narrative Black Hole. Both should get a write-up on here, or go up as a general 'excellent comics' section.

As you will see from the list below, I saw many many films in March. The ones I saw at BIFF I have simply linked to their corresponding space in the festival coverage.

Once again films are ranked in order of preference and you can click on the link to get the full write-up. This month's was a really tough one between Aguirre and LiTTLEROCK, but that film wa so refreshing it just pipped Herzog's masterpiece.


Aguirre, Wrath of God

Traces of a Diary

How I Ended This Summer

Dance to the Spirits

Grizzly Man


Animal Kingdom


Hobo With a Shotgun

Nosferatu the Vampre

Two in The Wave

13 Assassins

Harold’s Going Stiff
Coming in next issue of Film&Festivals

Disfarmer: A Portrait of America

Congo in Four Acts



The Last Report on Anna

Drive Angry

Route Irish

Cave of Forgotten Dreams

Stake Land

Innocent Crimes
Coming in next issue of Film&Festivals



An American Journey

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger

Monday, 16 May 2011

Route Irish (2010)

Viewing Context:
Seen as part of a British cinema double bill with Submarine at the Media Museum

Directed by Ken Loach. It was written by Paul Laverty who has worked with Loach on a number of films, including Looking for Eric and The Wind that Shakes the Barley

What happened:
Fergus (Mark Womack) and Frankie (John Bishop) are mercenaries working for a private company based in Iraq. The film opens with Frankie's funeral. His company says he died in action; Fergus is having none of it. As he digs under the surface he comes closer to the truth, but is his own narrative of what he wanted to have happened having too strong an influence on the construction of this 'truth'.

What I liked:
Real footage: An Iraqi refugee, helping Fergus decipher a found mobile phone, makes the point again and again, that this happens, it keeps happening and will keep on happening. Yet, rather than just telling the viewer, real news footage is constantly interjected. This is one of the things that elevate it from being exploitative pulp genre, into being intelligent and subversive genre.
Not a true story: Despite the film grounding these types of actions as being a reality, it never condescendingly pertains to be a true story, which is refreshing.

Just keeps happening: The injustices carried out by these companies continue to go on and continue to be swept under the rug. So it doesn't matter about the characters involved in this case, whether they are to blame or not; the problem is systemic.

Masculinity/bonding/failure to assimilate: The masculine bonds forged in warfare are almost irrevocable and therefore people become stuck, unable to re-assimilate into society. I have heard this myth rebuked before now though; with the claim that the arts make much more of this than is actually statistically true. A sort of guilt that they aren’t contributing, so the author made out. I didn’t dig into it so haven’t made up my mind on who is more full of bullshit, but thought it worth mentioning.
Dual/fractured Identity: There is one shot that shows Fergus doubly conveyed in front of some mirrors whilst on a treadmill; a symbolic way of putting this theme to the fore. Add to this, the constant restating that these marines are different people ‘out there’ and ‘back home’. This is illustrated in Fergus’s dual reaction to the atrocious video footage of the marines uncovered on the Phone. Fergus is instinctively dead against what happened when he first sees it, but he can still slip into a complete other character as he justifies, to Frankie’s widow Rachel, how and why the events would have unfolded. The fact that in the region, you need to react immediately. The film illustrates how the opposite to this lack of hesitation leads to their friend who's blind, or others with lost limbs, or even others still that are dead. Then finally on this theme, there is the sameness and the duality if Frankie and Fergus; especially in Rachel's eyes.
Truth, an elusive concept: To pack in even more sophistication, there’s some commentary on the concept of truth; how it is constructed and attained.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Submarine (2010) Wonderfully sweet and enjoyable, yet despite its sea based title, lacks depth

Viewing context:

Saw as part of a double bill. Well actually a triple bill, but I am discounting Woody Allen's You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger on accounts of it being shite. I was down at the Media Museum Bradford for my bi-weekly senior citizen screening film discussion, which unfortunately was the dross mentioned above. I saw that in the afternoon I could clear the lifeless Woody Allen taste out of my mouth with a British cinema double bill of this and Route Irish.

Directed by Richard Ayoade, who also wrote the screenplay adaptation of Joe Dunthorne's novel of the same name. Ayoade is best recognised for his work in British TV (most notably the IT Crowd), but has also made a number of music videos with the likes of the Arctic Monkeys, Vampire Weekend and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

What happened:
Told from a teenage Welsh boy's perspective as he traverses those formative years of adolescence. During which he must confront the usual obstacles such as the opposite sex and the realisation of one's parents' fallibility.

What I liked:
Interesting characters: The film is fun and the characters that populate the narrative are all interesting, without ever being superficially injected, solely for entertainment purposes.
Captures adolescence: That confused and troublesome period is vividly illustrated; specifically the voice over. I have recently come to the realisation that despite me being adamant that I don't like voice overs, there are two very different voice overs. There are omnipresent, pointless voice overs that are lazy, telling you what the film could just as easily show you (I'm looking at you Woody Allen). Then there are voice overs from characters within the narrative, that aren't telling you what could be shown, but telling you what they think is happening. The penny finally dropped for me when this difference was succinctly brought to my attention by Simon Kinnear (@kinnemaniac on Twitter) during a few beers at BIFF.

What I didn't like:
Ending: Without giving anything away, I’d just say that I wasn’t overly blown away by how the end of the film played out/fell together.
No depth (Submarine... depth... get it? I'm funny me): It doesn't really mean a great deal. This isn't a massive concern and it is easily charming and sweet enough to make up for this. But in my mind it will never be 'great', because it doesn't elevate above being what it is on the surface (another idiotic pun; aren't I doing good here).

Relationships, and life by extension, is a bit messy: As I said above, I didn't take a great deal from the film apart from the truth that adolescence is all over the place and people are unique individuals. But it all works out in its own disjointed way.
Everyone is their own person, they don't have to be more like other people in order to have a connection - i.e. the way he tries to push his books on the girl, as if they have to like the same things. Or the fact that his parents couldn't be much different. People just have to be themselves, and he doesn't have to be what he keeps referring to as 'the world's greatest boyfriend'

Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979) - A beautifully expressive meditation on humanity and its illusions of 'enlightenment'

What happened:
A town based real estate agent goes out into the wilderness to flog Count Dracula a house. In so doing, he allows this mythical figure of the pre-enlightened age into civilisation; plague and pestilence follows.

What I liked:
Animals: Animals are not only a fascinating Herzog signature, but they act as the most poignant symbols of nature, of the uncontrollable and of the real. Their presence - as comparison or as companion - seems to heighten Herzog’s emphasis on humanity. From the kittens in the beginning symbolising the innocence of their little quaint town life, to th sense of pestilence and corruption vividly invoked by the hordes of rats.
Locations: The location shooting adds weight to the film; that believability in these characters and in the gravitas of the plague’s devastation. These real locations (and characters, in the seeming use of real Gypsies) has a similar effect as the rats. Not much else could have convincingly portrayed the severity of the situation. As with Aguirre, the combination of surreal and realist techniques, rather than cancel or balance each other out, manage to amplify each other, taking all emotion from the surrealist aesthetic, but grounding it in the real. If Herzog wasn’t a genius, this would surely fail.
Lighting: The lighting when Dracula is on screen is emphatically low key and expressive. His shadow is often much more intimidating than his own figure; possibly saying that the fear and reputation of such a character can cause just as much harm - if not more - as he could himself. The scenes featuring only Jonathan, in comparison, have much higher key, natural lighting and is filmed with a realist aesthetic. Hardly expressive, though ironically in its own way expressing this character’s simplicity.
Dracula: When Dracula (Klaus Kinski) is onscreen is when the film is at its most compelling. He is a sad character, in many ways with much more humanity than the human protagonist, longing to just be dead, or to be loved. Every scene is set up beautifully; the pacing of the film dropped right down to heighten the suspense and to savour the beauty. The way the film’s aesthetic becomes so poetic and expressive when he is onscreen emphasises the mythic allure of this beast. Compare this to Jonathan, who should have been the protagonist, yet is difficult to spark any interest or latch onto. This is one of those things that Herzog likes to do to the viewer; to play games with them and play with their predetermined notions of character. If it hadn’t been for Lucy really growing into her own as the film went, then Dracula would have been the only engrossing character in the film.

Not so much:
Jonathan: I know that I just said above that it was one of Herzog’s ways of playing with the viewer; making the alleged antagonist so much more interesting. I don't mind disliking characters; I'm not someone who thinks I have to like a character in order for the narrative to work, but the problem here is that it was hard to get behind Lucy’s motivations. I could not buy into the fact that she loved him.

Allegedly all knowing scientific man: It seemed to be saying that in order to deal with catastrophes as grand as the plague, mankind needs to create some kind of spiritual allegory in order to blame it on. Yet at the same time, and the overriding thing I came away with as it finished is quite that opposite; that the so called enlightened mankind of science is incessantly trying to push his explanations onto things. This reading seemed most clear, as the film made a concerted effort to have me feel for Lucy, the one who was most into this spiritual explanation. Further, the film really did take a mocking tone on the term ‘enlightened’, displaying the arrogance of mankind, thinking that it can label and categorise everything. The spiritual explanation can be read as parallel with art, and thus empathising with the spiritual over the scientific is similar to the way the expressive aesthetic drew me closer to Dracula than the realist aesthetic did to Jonathan.
Civilisation / wilderness: Expanding upon this, there was a real divide between the two, and the merging of them as the narrative progressed. Beginning with Jonathan’s journey to Transylvania, leaving civilisation, with its organised structures and concepts of commerce. When he reached the inn and spent the evening with the gypsies, he was between the two, but by the time he reached Dracula’s castle it truly was the wilderness; symbolic of the pre-enlightened phase possibly, as opposed to the current ‘enlightened century’ as professed by Van Helsing. Just as Jonathan passed into the wilderness, when he had Dracula sign the property deeds, thus indoctrinating him into society, it allowed him to wreak havoc upon civilisation. It was only after the transaction, this ‘contract’ - a staple of modernity and civilisation - that he set forth to unleash his pestilence. Almost as if making a deal with the past or with the wilderness is what allowed the downfall of civilisation.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Grizzly Man (2005) - Already fascinating footage, made infinitely better with Herzog's touch

Viewing Context:
Borrowed the DVD eons ago from my sister. Always been meaning to watch it and with Herzog’s 3D venture Cave of Forgotten Dreams coming up I decided it was time I saw one of his documentaries.

What Happened:
Timothy Treadwell is a fella who loves wildlife and isn’t right keen on people. So he decides to knock about with bears in the wild for the best part of every year. Inevitably, he is eaten by one. Werner Herzog creates this documentary out of Treadwell's footage, to capture who he was and why he lived the way he did.

What I liked:
Documentary of a documentary: I loved the multi-layered approach here, as the footage was taken from one mind (Treadwell) and pieced together by another (Herzog). This, for me, continues Herzog’s constantly playful approach to storytelling and adds depth that would possibly be absent in less competent hands.
Footage: The footage itself was breathtaking, getting right into the middle of this wildlife. Herzog gleefully remarks that this is the type of footage that is only possible from somebody as nuts as Treadwell and that no union crews would ever allow this level of danger.
Not sensationalist: Although it was a sensational subject and clearly had an element of spectacle to it (hence my comment about the footage above), the decision not to show the climactic 'eaten by bear’ scene just illustrates that it isn’t in existence to sensationally exploit this one event. The descriptions dotted about the narrative are harrowing and graphic enough without exploiting the matter.

Society at large tries to impose generic notions of how to live: People have different comprehensions of things that others consider to be grounded general knowledge. Hence, many of the people spoken to here don't understand why Treadwell did this every year; they made no effort to see things from his angle. They imposed their own notion of how to live onto what he was doing. Only some saw that it was fine that he died out there with the bears; that by living the way he wanted to, and fully understanding the dangers, that he has lived more truthfully than most people do.
Find meaning: In order to overcome some personal shit, you have to find meaning; what is your purpose in life? If you have this then you are happy, fulfilled even.

Scene of the film:
Bear fight: The fight clearly displayed the brutality of this bear-world. The reaction of Treadwell immediately after perfectly captures his love for them and their way of life. His enthusiasm in scenes like this are the kinds of things that lead, for me, to the justification of him living his life this way and why him dying out there is fine. This was his life, being lived the way he wanted it.

Animal Kingdom (2010) - Sits alongside Audiard's A Prophet as a new breed of gangster film, based on survival rather than prosperity

Bit of cheating here. I saw Animal Kingdom this month as part of my bi-weekly senior citizen screening film discussion, but instead of writing up a fresh piece for the blog, I am simply going to copy what I had to say when I was writing up the Leeds International Film Festival for Film&Festivals magazine. Lazy I know, but you’ll get over it.

The evening’s screening was one of the most anticipated on my list, the Australian crime drama Animal Kingdom (David Michôd). A contributing factor to the anticipation was the fact that I had been hearing impressive murmurs from those who saw the press screening during London Film Festival, but were a little perplexed that it was not playing there. I don’t know how Leeds managed to secure its UK premiere ahead of London but credit is certainly due for that achievement.

I'd start by saying that I wouldn’t like to simply call this a gangster film. In that, I mean that it is not a simplistic genre film; it did not follow the blindly ambitious rise and fall of the protagonist as is the genre archetype. Animal Kingdom is simply a genuine and harrowing character driven story about a boy, Josh (James Frecheville) in the middle of a situation that he has done nothing to contribute towards. Once in this situation, all he can do is act how he sees in order to survive. I also wouldn’t say the assertion that this is an Australian answer to Scorsese is true; it seems a comparison justifiably based on the homosocial nature of gang based masculinity, yet the central character of Josh makes all the difference, as he bears little resemblance to the types of characters that regularly feature as Scorsese’s protagonists. I could more easily draw parallels with Jacques Audiard's A Prophet; neither aesthetically nor in terms of the plot, but in a sort of overall sentiment. In a similar way, it shows this new generation in an old setting (the other gangsters are very reminiscent of archetypal gangster roles seen in something like Once Upon a Time in America), which propagates that the old ways are crumbling but there are no revolutions or sweeping changes, only survival. In this way, both these films work as sort of intentional anti-gangster genre narratives.

The film was very bleak and menacing in tone and kept me on edge throughout, as the whole foundation seemed fragile and uncertain at any point. Topping it off were the excellent performances of the young James Frecheville and the older Ben Mandelsohn that were both so masterfully underplayed but in completely different ways. Add to this the even better performance of Jacki Weaver [for which she was then nominated for a best supporting actress Oscar].

Friday, 6 May 2011

Drive Angry (2011) - Passing the action star torch from the uber-masculine eighties/nineties chauvinist to the empowered 21st Century woman

Viewing Context:
Mid-week evening out down the multiplex

Directed by Patrick Lussier, who really seems to specialise in crappy pulp genre stuff. He is joined in the writing by Todd Farmer, with whom he collaborated with on My Bloody Valentine. Interestingly, the pair are due to write a new version of Hellraiser, with Lussier directing again. The two of them seem quite comfortable working within the 18 rating, so given the Hellraiser platform, they might be able to their worth, but nothing they've produced so far convinces that they can be twisted enough; maybe this is their chance.

What happened:
Milton (Nic Cage) drives around trying to rescue his baby granddaughter from a mental cult that killed his daughter, nicked the baby and plan on sacrificing her at the next full moon. Oh, and he is being chased down by Hell's accountant (William Fichtner) because he was dead when all that transpired and had to bust out of Hell to sort it out. Stunningly gorgeous and inspiringly bad-ass Piper (Amber Heard) accompanies him on his rampage.

What I liked:
Balls to the wall: Unrelentingly over the top 18 rated action; bullets, boobs and hatchets flying all over.

All characters were pretty awesome: It wasn’t that the main character was allowed to be full of charisma, while everyone around him exists only to reinforce his importance, as is often the case with high concept spectacle action films. Well this film made all the other characters just as charismatic and interesting. Not only was the girl far from passive (see below), but The Accountant, the cult leader, Jonah King (played by Billy Burke, pictured) and even the leading officer in pursuit had their own appeal and were commanding onscreen presences.
Strong female lead: Piper is not the 'passive', sexually objectified woman, put there to reinforce the male’s masculinity (a la Megan Fox in Transformers). The whole point of the narrative is her active participation; her own agency and the fact that this is something that has been too frequently neglected in high concept Hollywood in the past (see themes below).

What I didn't like:
Her motivation: I thought they could have made it a little clearer why she wanted to tag along with him. I get that it was because her life hadn’t had much meaning prior to now, blah, blah, blah, but it could have been hammered home a little harder.
Too high a budget: Didn't need to have such a budget, or at least it didn't need to use so much computer effects in order to appeal to the over the top angle. i.e. it was no Hobo with a Shotgun.

Passing the torch: This kind of typically uber-masculine, chauvinist action star - dominant in the eighties and nineties and embodied here by Milton - was a shit, and deserves to be in Hell. Yet, he deserves a shot at redemption. He has come back from the dead to pass on his uber-macho action star torch to a new generation. For this, he has chosen this woman Piper; a woman that oozes femininity and does not shy away from her sexualisation, yet is not a sexual object. The most blatant effort to make this distinction was her objectification of the male waiter in the bar, treating him as her object. She has him paint her nails and dangles the possibility that he may be lucky enough to get more. The point here is that she is in complete control and had to neither conform to being the objectified woman, yet nor did she have to swing too far to the other side as an unsexualised plank; she was a balanced 21st century woman.

Scene of the film:
I guess the one that sums the whole film up is the one where Milton, without ceasing his fornication with a bar maid he just picked up (including when he is tazered, much to her simultaneous dismay and pleasure), shoots no fewer than 5 or 6 satanic cultists. This is mirrored against the scene described above with Piper's control of 21st century masculinity.

Performance of the film:
William Fichtner as The Accountant: He had these tiny eccentricities that didn't need to be there, but were the exact kind of thing that the film needed in order to raise it to that spectacular level. It is touches like this that ensure that a film like this, without the character depth, has spectacle throughout all the characters.

Final Word:
It was fun; by no means great, but at least it had something to say

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Aguirre, Wrath of God (1972) (Masterpiece)- A perfectly surreal approach to a realist aesthetic

Viewing Context:
LoveFilm. Been meaning to catch up on Herzog for some time now, so put the Kinski box-set on high priority and this film was the first to arrive.

Written and directed by the man himself Werner Herzog, who is at the minute, one of my favourite people in the world.

What happened:
In 1560 an expedition under the banner of Spain set out to find the mythical land of El Dorado; a place with alleged untold riches. After the hundreds in the initial expedition become bogged down in the extraneous conditions, a smaller party are sent ahead to scout for any signs. When the fella who’s appointed leader of this smaller party says that they must turn back, the scheming and tyrannical Aguirre (Klaus Kinski) leads a mutiny, appoints a new emperor (that he can control) and has the party write a letter addressed to the king of Spain, declaring that they are no longer under the flag of Spain but have declared themselves the new empire of El Dorado.

What I liked:
Animals: The use of real animals throughout the narrative is unparalleled in any other film I have seen. By featuring these untrained animals (well maybe the horses were, but I don't think the rat monkey things had any lessons) the film emphasises its grounding in reality (despite its simultaneous absurdity - see below). There is something about these animals that emphasises the unpredictability of nature and represents genuine intention; a certain rawness that is absent in most mainstream cinema.
Real, yet nuts: Even from the start, they had all this period gear on, but none of the camera work either tried to glamorise it, yet nor did it ‘try’ make it look authentically of that period. I felt it strange that this paradox existed in my head: the fact that because there were no gimmicks influencing me to naturalise what I was seeing, my film-conditioned brain saw it as less natural, yet being aware of this then made it more natural. Hopefully this confusing sentence makes perfectly clear what I mean about it being simultaneously realist and surrealist. The realist aesthetic and the use of animals grounds it as authentic in a way that had me convinced these were characters to take seriously. However, In complete contrast, the film mocks its own form with some outrageously surreal moments. For instance, a man continuing to count after having been decapitated. This is an extension of the way I feel Herzog constantly mocks the viewer, in a playful way, provoking reaction and demanding constant attention.
Exotic: despite intentionally poking fun at, and challenging its status as a realistic representation, I felt like it really was showing me something exotic, new and different without being so condescending as to say that it is showing the truth - as documentaries so frequently do. The pseudo-documentary approach to the location shooting on the Amazon, along with use of local peoples, and again the animals certainly aided this.

Pointlessness of empire: The silly rituals and the insistence of sticking to them. I.e. The trial, and the hanging, etc. At one point, while travelling along the river, the farcically newly appointed emperor of El Dorado just said “anything on the left and the right is now ours”, showing how ludicrously senseless and phony this process of Empire building is.
The realist/surrealist combination exists to accentuate this pointlessness as it makes half of it seem like a farce, while still making it clear that so many people take this ridiculous charade seriously. It may be set in the 17th century, but this farcical upkeep of traditions is evident now. Hence, the idiotic existence of that pointless monarchy of ours; so clearly a joke, but people take them so seriously (just see last week's hyperreal bullshit wedding and the attention it garnered).

Performance of the film:
Klaus Kinski as Aguirre. He is so twisted, unstable, edgy. He encapsulates what I outline above, managing to be believably real and completely original while still being an over the top caricature of a tyrant, hellbent on power and glory.

Scene of the film:
The scene when Aguirre calls the mutiny and pulls all the strings, appointing some hapless puppet as emperor and just controls the whole thing. The official procedure was one of the things illustrating the pointlessness of these institutions and traditions, yet that they are taken so seriously.

Rango (2011) - One of the most piognant comments on this recesion to come out of Hollywood to date

Viewing Context:

Me and Corey went down to the cinema on a Saturday morning.

Directed by Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski. I always forget how much I loved the first Pirates films because of how pointless and bland the second two were. It was written by John Logan, a heavyweight screenwriter with credits such as Aviator, Gladiator and Scorsese’s upcoming Hugo Cabret. Obviously a man who knows his cinema, as the film was packed full of various film references.

What happened:
Johnny Depp's lizard is a little stir crazy, casting himself as the star of his own theatrical productions, performing with various inanimate objects one would find in a lonely pet lizard's tank. During this process, the film opens by acknowledging/mocking the notion of a story and of the archetypal hero, self reflexively declaring that 'the hero requires conflict'. Well, cue the conflict, as his tank is suddenly flung out of the car it is revealed to be travelling in; flung onto a freeway in the middle of the desert. After an encounter with a philosophical armadillo, Rango finds himself on a journey of self discovery, via the draught (recession - see below) problems of a town called Dirt. This isolated town is home to a great variety of animals from toads and rattle snakes to hawks, owls and turtles, all fitting neatly into archetypal roles from a Hollywood Western.

What I liked:
Beautiful: The film is visually breathtaking; it manages to be beautiful and colourful, while perfectly capturing the dry and baron state that the draught brings about. The detail put into the dust and the blaring sun makes you dehydrated just watching it. It helps that Roger Deakins, Many time Oscar nominated cinematographer and prolific Coen Brothers collaborator is employed here as a visual consultant.
Imaginative characters: The characters are lovingly stolen from filmic archetypes, infused with interesting animal choices and great dialogue.
Filmic nods: It knew how to sprinkle these over the narrative in an entertaining manner, without ever simply being a patchwork of references without its own character. From the Chinatown plot, to the sheriff badge discarded on the ground, to the appearance of Depp’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas character, as well as another tremendous cameo that I shall not spoil.

Set pieces: The action set pieces were exhilarating and inventive, again giving enough nods to cinema history, while still being original enough to enjoy.
2D: Didn't even attempt 3D, which is important considering how great the film looks, as the 3D gimmick would have taken a lot away from the use of colour.

Not so keen on:
Not for kids as much as adults: It was understandably marketed as a kids’ film being that this is where it is likely to find the most paying customers. Some may disagree, but it doesn't seem a great film for kids. I only say this because I have the evidence of Corey's slight lack of enthusiasm. He didn't actively dislike it at all, but having seen so many films with him in the cinema, I could tell that those things that grip kids may have appeared to be there but just weren't. When I asked him if he liked it he said yeah and when I asked him what he liked, he hesitated a second then said the beginning bit. This makes sense to me, as it is the most child friendly part; it also conveniently happens to be pretty much everything in the trailer. Maybe older kids would be more into it, and it wasn’t definitely not for kids, but it isn’t the film it is advertised as. It's just sad when a film that is great has to be advertised as something that it isn't for market purposes.

Myth: There was a lot made of the mythical setting of the old west, which is so frequently used as parable for contemporary America.
Recession: Rather than water being synonymous simply with natural resources, the film makes water more obviously about capital; hence, the bank holds the water and in the background of a few shots, you see reward posters measuring rewards in gallons. Therefore considering what I said above about myth using this setting to comment on contemporary America, the film is blatantly a comment on the current recession, caused by greed, corruption and the obsession with so called 'economic progression' at all costs - including that of people's well being.
Society: The hero comes to society as a fraud, an actor, but none the less a complete outsider. An outsider because he is living a contemporary individualistic life out of society, the type of hedonistic individual created by neo-liberalism, the same thing indisputably responsible for the downfall of the western world via the deregulation of financial markets. He (along with the contemporary western world) needs to rediscover (or discover for the first time) society, and therefore society must be less bothered about individual greed.

Performance of the film:
Well this film actually made me remember that I quite liked Jonny Depp. Before the Pirates fiasco and his consecutive soulless performances in recent Tim Burton films.