A pilgrimage to consider – Scott Pilgrim vs. The World review

Going into Scott Pilgrim vs. The World I realised just how little I knew about the popular graphic novel that  proceeded it. Usually with this type of comic-book adaptation I’ll scoot through the novel in a couple of days and watch the film afterwards. After seeing the trailer however, it completely dropped off my radar. It wasn’t an awful trailer by any means, but it was another Michael Cera vehicle that would only be eaten up by Arrested Development and Juno fans who love Michael Cera being Michael Cera. Yes, I said Michael Cera three times in a sentence, moving on. Once I found out Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz director Edgar Wright was making the film however, I saw a spark of hope. Was Scott Pilgrim to be his downfall? or would his adaptation succeed in a violent display of style over substance?

Michael Cera plays Scott Pilgrim, a 23 year-old ultra-slacker who practically thrives on videogames and rock & roll. He lives in wintery Toronto and shares a flat with his gay friend Wallace (played by Kieran Culkin). Scott’s band, Sex Bob-omb consists of members Kim (Alison Pill) and Stephen (Mark Webber), who are both blown away when Scott tells them that he’s in a relationship with a 17 year-old, Knives Chau (Ellen Wong). Scott’s world is quickly turned upside-down though when he meets Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth-Winstead), a pink-haired stranger who is visiting Toronto for a short time. He is completely drawn to her for a time, until he discovers that he must defeat Ramona’s 7 evil exes in order to date her. Tough break kid.

From the very beginning you’re convinced that Scott Pilgrim is going to be the ultimate generation-Y movie. The Universal logo appears in all its pixelated glory like it’s being played through a Nintendo, with a super cool 8-bit theme song to get tone of the movie down before we’ve even seen a second of it. The TV show references, the clothes, the hair, the music and the games, oh the games. Someone also has to give the editor a medal for their work here. Not only does Scott Pilgrim move at breakneck pace, but it’s also surprisingly coherent and touching, given how little time there was for character development. The battles against the 7 exes are fast and original, although it does at times get a little bogged down, and there-in lies the problem with it. The film is fairly lengthy at around 2 hours and threatens to lose steam after the first 3 battles. Those that aren’t “with it” from the start are in for a very long roller-coaster ride, one that will probably make them sick. Others will relish every adrenaline-boosting beatdown that occurs, and boy does it occur often. It follows a similar path to Edgar Wright’s last two movies, in that they start off exceedingly strong, but begin to falter during the far less interesting second-half. It doesn’t prevent the film from having a lasting impression however.

Performances range from merely okay to great. Michael Cera makes for a great Michael Cera, and not much more. A lot was said about his casting in the roll of Pilgrim but he is neither bad nor good. It’s fair to say if you weren’t a fan of him before seeing the movie, then you won’t be after. The rest of the cast are uniformly funny, with each of the 7 exes delving into their roles with reckless abandon, I won’t go into it too much out of spoiler fear, but there are a few cool cameos in place. Kieran Culkin laps up his role as Scott’s gay roommate, and Alison Pill’s deadpan portrayal of Kim is stellar. Mary Elizabeth-Winstead’s Ramona is both completely apathetic and super sweet. I would have liked to see more in regard to her past, but she does a nice job given the slim material.

As a film likely to be loved and despised in equal measure, Scott Pilgrim succeeds at what it sets out to do. What that is…I couldn’t really explain. All you need to know is that it’s fast-paced, funny and fist-pumpingly awesome in every respect. Aside from being a little too long, this slacker-comedy is likely to hit home with the ultimate college couch-potatoes and select hipster crowds. It also totally persuaded me to pick up the novels. IMPRESSIVE COMBO.

3.5/5

Michael Kiossev.

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Late to the Inceptional party? Inception Review

Every so often a film is released with an obscene amount of hype. Such is the case with almost every Christopher Nolan film. Ever so slowly becoming a household name, Nolan has consistently delivered interesting and original material the likes of which Hollywood hasn’t seen for decades. With nary a bad film to date, has the young auteur finally bit off more than he can chew with Inception?

Dom Cobb (Leonardo Di Caprio) is by his own admission the world’s most skilled extractor. Capable of entering dreams, Cobb has the ability to steal well kept secrets and ideas from the mind of his assigned targets. Few are able to do the job as well as him, and for that, he is payed handsomely. Lately however, he has been haunted by the memories of his dead wife Mal (Marion Cotillard), who is sabotaging Cobb’s dreams far more frequently than usual. He is then hired by businessman Saito (Ken Watanabe) who wants Cobb to enter the mind of Robert Fischer Jr. (Cillian Murphy), a heir to a rival business empire, not to steal an idea, but plant one. For this job he assembles his best and brightest including his assistant Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), an impersonation specialist in Eames (played by Tom Hardy), scientist Yusuf (Dileep Rao), and talented young architect Ariadne (Ellen Page).

I don’t blame you if you think the synopsis is a lot to take in. The film is in overdrive from the beginning and if you aren’t going along for the ride within the first half-hour, prepare for a tough and tedious slog. For those relish the complexity though, you might find that Inception is the ultimate elixir. It will take repeat viewings to truly grasp everything that is at play here. The first half of the film is all about the setup. We learn the rules, we learn the people, we learn the disastrous consequences if they fail. It’s easily the weakest part of the film and contains some seriously lengthy exposition. It’s by no means bad, but even 10 minutes off the running time would have done it a world of good.



The second half of the film however, is the cinema experience at its most potent. With any other director, the ‘dream inside of a dream’ sequence could have been a horrible mishmash of scenes that made no sense whatsoever. With Nolan at the helm we get a feeling of full control. Tight editing, music, acting and tension make for a breathless final act that doesn’t let up until the final shot, and it’s a corker.

I’m not going to sugar-coat it, the movie’s initial impact is mind-blowing, but the thing that warrants multiple viewings is the emotional weight it carries. There is so much at stake for Cobb, and the ending gives the audience an array of emotions and feelings. I begun this article talking about the ridiculous amount of hype that Inception held. With that impending pressure the film could have buckled under its own weight, instead, it justifies every word of it. See it, discuss it, recommend it.

4/5

Review by Michael Kiossev

Graffiti or art?: Exit Through The Gift Shop review

It’s hard to know where to stand after watching street art legend Banksy’s new film, Exit Through The Gift shop. In the end we leave more questions than answers about what qualifies as art. Hell, at the end of the film, we don’t even know what Banksy’s opinion on the topic is. All I can say is that Banksy is one smart guy, and he has made one smart movie.

Exit Through The Gift Shop documents the rise of  Thierry Guetta, a Frenchman living in Los Angeles with a passion for filming everything that occurs in his life. Guetta soon develops an interest in the street art scene after he is introduced to it by his cousin Invader.

I’m still not sure what to make of what follows. Guetta goes about filming as many street artists as possible. All the while filming. Eventually, he sets his sights on Banksy. Somehow, the fates grant Guetta his meeting, and he and Banksy become friends (or do they, I’m still not sure what to believe), with Guetta accompanying Banksy on a couple of his art making escapades, including a hilarious statement at Disneyland.

Eventually Banksy convinces Guetta to make a film from all the footage he has taken. What he comes up with is not so much an intelligent insight into the street art world, as a nightmarish dream sequence. Banksy decides at this point, that he will take over the piece, and tells his adoring French friend to go and make his own art.

Again, at this point, I’m not sure what is real. There are plenty of those who believe this whole film is nothing but a great big hoax. Some say it’s all true. I get the feeling that the truth lies somewhere between the two. Guetta genuinely did host the exhibition seen in the film, and he did make a ton of money for his “art”, but still, somewhere along the line, I think Banksy is having a lend of his audience.

For all of the questions this film left me with, there is no denying it is still fantastically enjoyable film. It provides us with an informative, if slightly unconventional, insight into the rarely seen world of street art, and more importantly, those behind it. It’s funny, well paced and interesting, and leaves the audience wanting more.

So what did I think of it all? I think Banksy has done it again.

I’ll get back to you when I know what “it” is.

4/5

What did you think of Exit Through The Gift Shop?