Metallica – Through the Never Movie Review

I’ve just come back from the IMAX screening of the new Metallica movie, Through the Never.

What I expected was, rather foolishly I now know, a movie with a Metallica soundtrack. What you get is Metallica in concert, in 3D, in IMAX, and some kind of weird, mess of a very small movie intertwined.

The show that you see, Metallica in concert, shot in Canada, is stunning. The affects during the concert, particularly the helicopter fly-over, are jaw-droppingly good. It makes you want to go and see the band in concert, which is obviously a good thing.

The set designers use lasers and surround sound and flames and video to create a totally immersive experience that will leave you visually spellbound.

The 3D, you’ll be pleased to hear, is used surprisingly sparingly and looks best when focusing on drummer Lars Ulrich or panning around lead singer James Hetfield, guitarist Kirk Hammett or bassist Robert Trujillo.

In between pretty much every song (and sometimes mid-song), you get a short clip that attempts to string together some kind of short movie.

This movie is about a junior roadie called Trip, played by Dane DeHann, who is sent on a quest to receive something that the band can’t do without. Just before he sets off he drops a pill and experiences a surreal journey trying to conquer his quest.

Sometimes the songs match the movie, sometimes they don’t. The issue though is that the ‘movie’ – such that it is – doesn’t work…at all. And so you’re left just wanting to see more of Metallica in concert, which is the best part and, despite the usual close up shots of the wrong guitarist during solos, is fantastic to see.

The ‘movie’ just begins to get in the way. Perhaps that’s because there isn’t really a plot, or a point, or anything really.

This is obviously an attempt by director Nimrod Antal (Predators, Vacancy) to push the boundaries of the concert movie in a way you’re unlikely to see with the new One Direction showing! It’s a good attempt that misses the mark but is saved by the actual concert itself and, of course, the music of the legends that are Metallica.

Strangely the band members get writing and producing credits for the movie and previous bassist Cliff Burton gets a producing credit too…from beyond the grave, which fits with the amount of gravestones you see on the film I guess.

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Me, My Spots and I

My name is Carli, I am 26 years old and my skin is my enemy.

I don’t recall a time, month, week or day when I haven’t had spots. This isn’t a cry for sympathy, or even a particularly woeful moan, it’s simply a statement of fact. You might eye up the woman wearing Manolos on the train, or the one with the Mulberry Alexa on your bus, but my secret hobby is to scrutinise the pores of every woman I meet – on the commute, at work, and each one of my friends. The added interest (torment?) is that most of the lovely girls I work with, and count as my friends, are blessedly blemish-free. Sure, they might get a zit after a heavy weekend, or suffer the odd blackhead, but by and large their skin is clear, tight, fresh. In contrast, mine is marked with spots, scars and other ravages which in the past year have included a nasty bout of seborrheic dermatitis, resulting in patches of dry crusts across my face, neck, back and chest – the final insult to a quarter-life of waging war against my own skin.

I am not suggesting I suffer from full-blown acne: I don’t. And many sufferers of persistently flared skin will probably treat my ‘afflictions’ with disdain. However, a shared obsession is the desire to inspect the skin of the flawless, to ask a million questions about skincare and diet to try and pinpoint a crucial difference separating me with peachy clear flesh. Not forgetting the unity there is in the ‘magic’ of three more mole-hills erupting from our chins seemingly overnight.

I’ve tried the creams, visited the derms, had the tests, cut out the food groups. But essentially I am just unlucky. My mother has the skin of someone half her age, smooth, even and fresh-looking, but she still maintains she suffered until almost middle age with troublesome skin. Yes, sometimes I despair, wishing desperately for ONE DAY of clearness, where foundation could be a frivolous extra and not the one liquid saving my self-confidence, but the low moments of my early twenties have been replaced by curiosity as to what it would feel like, would I would look like, if I could treat my face as something to experiment with, not as a minefield, and if makeup was about enhancement only, not coverage. God the creams, the potions, the lotions I’ve tried. If I’m ever wondering why I don’t have savings, a quick look inside my makeup bag and bathroom will make a few Shu Uemera-related suggestions. Of course, some things need a prize merely for existing: YSL Touche Eclat is a joy for my under eyes – did I mention I had a genetic tendency to under-eye shadows? You’ve got to laugh, when every beauty ‘no no’ I read about in magazines is or has been a feature of my face.

My pet hate? ‘Friends’ who tell me that it’s so freeing not to wear foundation, how they ‘get so many compliments’ on their fresh-faced no-makeup look. I often express amazement and approval at their own good luck, but really the response I’m often reaching for is: go to hell.

Yes, I have plenty to be thankful for in life, and no I don’t have a life-threatening affliction (touch wood). But clear skin is my Everest. It only just occurred to me that I couldn’t remember a time with unmarked skin – it must have been a time pre-hormones. But I’ll keep on climbing my mountain and try not to be too hard on my face – but in the meantime if you need me, I’ll be in the skincare aisle of Boots.

New York Fashion Week

Having just arrived back from a week’s holiday in Spain, I am woefully late to the New York Fashion Week buzz. But like many regular tweeters, my interest is always piqued by the well-crafted show build up of the Victoria Beckham brand. Full marks for her democratic and enthusiastic social media conversation, and also it seems, full marks for another great collection.

From the few new collections I’ve looked at today, the focus seems to be on the relaxed, and the undone. Not undone in the sense of messy, but in the sense of shape, of a ‘yes I know I look good’ confidence, without the contrived over-formality. Victoria Beckham’s collections have been a surprise over the seasons – each time they deliver a new angle to her style ethos, and this has journeyed from the structured body-con of the first collection, via sporty and Sixties influences and landing, for SS14, in a Celine-like aesthetic that is both tailored and effortlessly relaxed.

The same vibe was felt at Altuzarra. The collection’s crux seemed to be a series of separates, and again, the word ‘effortless’ would spring to mind. Beautiful fluid fabrics and the stark boldness of stripes and split skirts made for a cool and confident collection. Earlier in the day everyone’s eyes were on Alexander Wang, who since being announced as the new creative lead at Balenciaga has managed not to lose his own label’s vision. Influenced by the nineties logo mania, and quoted as saying he drew inspiration from a time when fashion was more ‘fun’, Wang’s SS14 girl had attitude, but in a softer and yes there’s that word again, effortless sense, not the tough rock girl of last season’s Givenchy and Saint Laurent chick. God I better carry a thesaurus for the rest of the week…

NYFW

Only God Forgives Review

I hope god can see his way to forgiving Nicolas Winding Refn for writing and directing something this pretentious. I’ve honestly never watched something that is so up its own arse in my life.

The film runs at an hour and a half though to be honest the plot, such that it is, is so thin that it could have been covered in half an hour.

There are scenes that happen, but then you’re not really sure if they’re part of the film or not. They don’t move the story on, they are never referenced again and most of them end without actually playing out to a conclusion, of any sort.

The shining light and the only thing that stopped me turning it off was Kristin Scott Thomas who is brilliant as the evil mother. She seems to relish the part turning on the vulnerability when required but mostly just being evil.

Ryan Gosling plays an extension of the part he played in Drive, I think he has maybe ten lines in the whole movie and five of those are: “do you want to fight?” Where he proceeds to get his ass handed to him by the bent copper, played by Vithaya Pansringarm, who is really the lead of the movie.

The film is dark, both in story terms and what you actually get on the screen. There are some wonderful shots and wonderful uses of the camera but they aren’t enough to keep you interested or to make up for what is generally just a writer/director on some kind of personal trip.

The pacing is horribly slow, there are times when it seems to build and you wait for the climax that just doesn’t happen, and we all know how frustrating that can be!

I was looking forward to the movie, I wanted to like it more than I liked Drive but I just felt frustrated and confused. The movie isn’t anywhere near as good as you sense if could have been and it’s not that accessible either. We wait to see what the next Refn film brings us.

Elysium Review

District 9 brought us many, many good things. For starters it brought us a great film, brilliantly written and directed by newcomer Neill Blomkamp. It also brought us a great ‘accidental’ new actor in Sharlto Copley­. It had CGI, action, comedy and a manic energy that was refreshing considering it was shot in a documentary style.

Following up that brilliant opening was always going to be a challenge, neither director nor actor were new, the surprise was gone, the game had to be upped as the expectation would be larger.

Blomkamp’s follow up to District 9 is the big budget sci-fi actioner Elsyium with Matt Damon in the lead role with Jodie Foster and Copley supporting. I don’t have much of a problem with Matt Damon it’s just that Team America World Police “Matt Damon” is always in my head when I see him on screen!

Anyway, I digress, Elysium sees the action take place in 2154 when the Earth is in a state. Pollution, disease, poverty are all rife and draconian man-built robots rule the roost. Meanwhile up on a man made space station known as Elysium, the wealthy live in a life of luxury. Diseases are a thing of the past, aging doesn’t happen, pollution is unknown and all is well.

An industrial accident sees Damon needing to get up to Elsyium to help himself, but that’s not so easy, so him and a bunch of criminals come up with a plan and one exoskeleton, brain patch, gun toting second later, the movie kicks into gear.

The movie is well conceived, it’s a bit more serious than District 9, it’s a lot more gory and probably just wins on the amount of CGI front too. When Copley arrives things get a bit more fun as his warrior character shines through in his attempt to stop Damon at all costs.

The problem with the movie is that it’s a lot more conventional then District 9, though the political motives are very similar with takes on immigration and segregation. The cinematography, such as it is, is stunning, as is the attention to detail on things like the space station and with the various robots that are in the film.

Perhaps the biggest problem, something I’ve spoken about time and time again, and I’m almost crying writing this as secretly I was hoping Blomkamp would be my new favourite director. The biggest problem is a complete and total lack of being able to shoot the action sequences, particularly the fight scenes. It’s shaky cam galore but it’s way more than I’ve ever seen before.

It’s so bad that you completely miss large chunks of action, you’re sometimes left looking at a chest plate or scenery whilst fighting goes on off screen. There is absolutely no excuse for this. Film is a visual medium above all else and all it requires is a step back with the camera, keep it still, your actors will convey the action you don’t need to do it with the camera, not this much.

That said this doesn’t detract from a decent enough follow up to District 9, it’s more conventional, popcorn, summer blockbuster style film but done very well.

Fast And The Furious 6 Review

Haven’t you heard? Trilogies are so passé these days. Six is where it’s at, in fact number seven is on the way in case you didn’t know and you will if you stay to the end of Furious 6, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Many people look on at this franchise in complete bewilderment as to how it is still going. I have to admit I’m one of them but it’s the wrong way to look at it really. The title isn’t important. It’s just an action car based film that happens to have the same people in it. If you don’t believe me watch Fast and the Furious Tokyo Drift which is actually not a bad movie at all and doesn’t have half of the action of the films in the rest of the series.

The main thing you should wonder though is about Vin Diesel, I mean I worry for anyone who speaks in such a deep voice, it can’t be good for you. But mainly I worry for the man’s career given the only films he seems to be able to do are this series and Riddick, to which he’s gone back to recently.

Diesel is back joined by the boys and girls from the previous film: Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Sung Kang, Ludacris and Jordana Brewster. For this film we get the bonus additions of Gino Carano, Luke Evans, Clara Paget and Kim Kold a former 6ft 4” Danish goalkeeper who you can’t imagine let much past him!

Much of the movie is a ‘who has the biggest guns’ show between Johnson, Diesel and Kold. Johnson probably just gets it but Kold is also a former national bodybuilding champion so it’s close.

The actual story, well, does it matter? Do you care? Someone steals something using fast cars, Johnson decides he wants to employ ‘the best’ to stop it happening again and so hire Diesel and co to help out. It’s all really unimportant for this film as it’s very much about the action, even the cars take more of a back seat then previously.

The latter is a shame as the majority of the movie takes place in Europe and yet, rather than featuring the vast plethora of European sports cars: Ferrari’s, Lamborghini’s, Pagani’s, Atom’s, Bugatti’s and many, many more to choose from, the gang stick with mainly American muscle cars. Just to hammer it home the bad guy gets given an Aston Martin. An Aston that strangely sounds like an American muscle car, in fact most cars sound like American muscle cars in this movie.

There’s lots of action scenes in the movie, lots of fights scenes, one street race through London (of which you can see the police stopping traffic and the barriers stopping the crowds) a plane chase and a tank chase. Just the usual!

The best part of the film is the end. I don’t mean that when the film finishes it’s the best part, I mean you think the film has finished but there’s a little teaser of things to come in the next one (and they do it before the credits so you don’t have to sit around and wait). It’s an exciting teaser, a Brit as a bad guy, shock horror, but an excellent choice if done correctly, although given the storyline that has been released…I won’t hold my breath.

Mud Review (The Film, Not The Substance)

Matthew McConaughey is on something of a revival of late. It started with Killer Joe, maybe the Lincoln Lawyer, and continued with The Paperboy, Mud and apparently Magic Mike though I’ve yet to confirm that.

Mud sees two young boys find a fugitive (McConaughey) on an island near their home and, being young impressionable boys that they are, they are caught up in the moment and end up helping him to re-build a boat they’ve found in order that he can escape with his girlfriend Juniper (Reese Witherspoon).

The boys, Tye Sheridan as Ellis and a River Pheonix looking Jacob Lofland as Neckbone, grab parts for the boat and food for McConaughey and take notes to his girlfriend.

As the story goes on you learn that Mud has killed a man in the name of love and now the father and brother and a whole heap of bounty hunters are after Mud to take their revenge.

The story is one of young love, foolish love, betrayal and lies however it drags on at over two hours and you get the feeling it was kept this long for no other reason than the scenery looks nice.

Having said that, when it comes to it it’s well directed, McConaughey is excellent in the title role and the two young boys keep the movie going with their intensity. What is lacking between them is any kind of believable friendship, the type you saw in Stand By Me for example. The friendship just feels a little forced, a little lacking something.

There are no real surprises here, if you haven’t seen Killer Joe then you should perhaps watch this to see how good McConaughey is these days, otherwise it plods along and just does enough to keep you interested. A little bit more ruthless cutting and the movie would have been all the better for it.

Man of Steel (Short) Review

I’ll keep this short as most of you will have already seen this movie no doubt. The truth is when you’re watching it you aren’t surprised to learn that Zack Snyder, he of Watchmen fame, is the director. You’re also not surprised that David S. Goyer and Christopher Nolan both wrote the story.

The reason you’re not surprised by any of this is because what Man of Steel lacks is anything new. It has the darkness of the recent Batman films (also penned by Goyer and Nolan) and it has the stylistic tendencies of Watchmen and 300 (both directed by Snyder).

The story delves a little into the background of Clark Kent, I’m not a graphic novel reader so can’t tell you how true it is to the original story, I’d be interested to know though. What you get is much more of a back story to the man, much more reasoning then what we saw in the first Superman Christopher Reeve films.

As the story progresses we get General Zod, played by the excellent Michael Shannon, and his cronies arrive on Earth to take over the planet and turn it into Krypton two as their planet is no more.

There are many CGI battles, many plot holes and many “wait…did I miss the bit where he…” and ultimately these build up to let the film down.

No-one seems to have been able to re-boot Superman since the Reeve days and on this showing, I hope no-one else bothers.

I Used To Be A Fashion Writer

I used to speak fluent fashion. I could whip up 500 words on the Oscar red carpet, the latest designer choice by Michelle Obama, or Alexander McQueen’s death. Fashion by observation was my thing – a contribution to the conversation on a much-derided topic: why we wear what we do, why we care, why it affects us. The main criticism levied at my choice of word-fodder was that it was shallow, unintellectual, unchallenging. I vehemently disagreed and still do – the world of fashion is ever-changing, ever-challenging, and part of a wider social dynamic that plays it part in our evolution. Writing about fashion could encourage people to wonder, to dream, and to fall in love.

But aside from that, it was fun. I could tell you the red carpet dress heroes of the last five years, joyfully dissected in the early hours of the morning after an awards ceremony – a side effect of the LA time difference. I could give you the colour palette for AW13 and advise which designers do it best. I could advise on a street style blogger to follow, a new Scandinavian high street store, an up-and-coming eco-friendly leather brand.

Except that I couldn’t. Not anymore. For the last three years I have been working on the Other Side for a single brand. I have therefore become single-minded. Challenging and fantastic in its own ways, I realised that no longer do I ponder the Paris shows, hitting refresh on style.com until new looks are added. Nor do I ever offer a professional opinion on Michelle Obama’s evolving style, or which shoe designer is the next Big Thing.

Every brand is an island. And as a protector of that island and it’s communications, I speak and breathe a language particular to its parameters. I navigate the unchartered waters of social media conversations, but from a propaganda and police role, instead of a challenging or commenting voice. I am good at it, and I cherish the experiences I have. But the realisation I had lost my ‘fashion’ voice has been sneaking up in the back of my mind – and I want it back. My brand voice and my own voice are not mutually incompatible.

Writing under the alias of Wardrobe Wisdom I had a place. I no longer have the alias, but I have me – my own opinions and my own interests. And you’ll be seeing more of those as I coax my inner fashion girl out of her hiding place. And let’s face it, I have until next awards season to brush off the cobwebs and get stuck in.

The World’s End Review

Messr’s Pegg, Wright and Frost are back in this, the final part of the Cornetto Trilogy. Whilst I absolutely loved Shaun of the Dead, I was less impressed with Hot Fuzz, which I think was down more to Edgar Wright’s direction then anything else. It was the overuse of the quick edited, doors shutting, seat-belt locking close shots got on my nerves very quickly. Those of you who agree will be pleased to know that those shots do exist, but the use of them has been stripped back.

Now I’m in no-way saying Wright is a bad director, I don’t think his ability is in any way in question and it’s great to see he’s back to his best in this part of the trilogy.

What makes this film laugh out loud funny though is the writing from both Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright and then the delivery of Pegg and his co-star Nick Frost who has the most varied role in the movie, running through a gamut of emotions and pulling it off with aplomb.

Frost starts out, well frosty, then angry, then kick ass angry, before finally reaching man-love status.  He runs through all of these expertly and has you gripped at each point, I really hope we see more of Frost in movies now, I think he’s more than shown he’s a fantastic actor.

The story follows Gary King (played by Simon Pegg) who decides to re-unite the ‘gang’ of childhood friends to tackle the Golden Mile pub crawl some 20 years after they first attempted it as children.

The gang has all moved on except for King, who is even wearing the same outfit for the re-unite. Andrew Knightley (Nick Frost) has grown up and works in a swanky law firm office with a secretary, Oliver (Martin Freeman) is now selling expensive houses, Peter (Eddie Marsan) is selling top end Audi’s for his fathers firm and Steven Prince (Paddy Considine) is sleeping with a twenty-something fitness instructor.

Pegg goes round to each one to convince them to have one last crack at the epic pub crawl and somehow manages it.

When they all reach the town of Newton Haven they begin to reminisce until Pegg starts a fight with a youth in the toilets of one of the pubs and finds out all is not as it seems.

From here on in the movie just gets funnier and funnier as they decide to continue with their pub crawl on the premise that the ‘inhabitants’ of the town will know that they know what’s going on if they just leave. Or as Nick Frost’s character brilliantly puts it “Gary reckons we should carry on with the pub crawl and no-one’s got a better idea so fuck it”.

As the pub crawl continues the groups numbers dwindle as they get picked off, although they do gain as well as Oliver’s sister Sam arrives, played by Rosamund Pike.

The movie does have an emotional storyline running through it as well which could have been a little contrived or got lost in the action and comedy but it doesn’t and works very well, although it never goes too long before it’s pulled back to comedy.

The movie is brilliantly directed, superbly acted and genuinely funny. The final scene is maybe the only one that feels a little superfluous but that’s a minor quibble.

I do hope this isn’t the last time Pegg, Frost and Wright work together as British movies will be a duller place without them.