Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Hannibal Rising

You all know the story of Hannibal Lecter, right? Of course you do. Which true movie lover doesn't know Hannibal Lecter? I mean, he has appeared in 5 movies now.
"5?" You're wondering...?
Yep, five.
The one I'm going to discuss at length here is Hannibal's latest, and what appears to be last, big screen outing.
Hannibal Rising.
Or, as it was known in the US, Young Hannibal: Behind The Mask.
As to way it was titled this way, please take a look at the movie poster...

You have to give a hand to the promotional team behind this movie. They took an iconic image, which was Anthony Hopkins with the mussle over his mouth, and turned it into a mask for his younger self, played by Gaspard Ulliel.

Gaspard is a relatively famous French actor known to Aussie cult movie fans as Louis in the historical/action/horror film Le Pacte Des Loups (Brotherhood Of The Wolf).

Brotherhood Of The Wolf is quite simply an amazing film. I'll have to do a review of it one day, but and until then I highly recommend you track it down.

But I digress. Gaspard plays the title character here, and for the most part he does a good job.

He keeps things moving, and throughout the movie you can sympathsise with Hannibal.

Even if he does look like a wine-sipping, hair-gelling weirdo. :)

Actually, early in his life Hannibal's family was murdered and his castle overthrown. For years afterward Hannibal and his younger sister, Mischa (Helena-Lia Tachovska) fend for themselves in the woods.

It must've been there where Hannibal learnt his skills with a rope.

I won't go into too much detail about what happens to Mischa, as that would just spoil the film.

However eventually Hannibal tracks down Lady Mutasaki (Gong Li), who happened to be the mistress of Hannibal's father.
Lady Mutasaki takes Hannibal in and sends him back to school where he excels, especially in anatomy and biology.
This certainly helps Hannibal later in the movie, and later in life as he goes on to earn his PhD.

Now what movie wouldn't be great without a great villain? Here we have Vladis Grutas (Rhys Ifans). When I read that Rhys Ifans was in this film I just knew I had to see it.
Unfortunately he's not as great as I thought he would be. He was certainly great in the novel. Maybe my expections of him were way too high though?

Then again, maybe it was the script. It could've done with some work. This fellow obviously wasn't too happy with the dialogue....

I should mention that the fantastic actor Dominic West stars as Inspector Popil. Such an unfortunate name.... Sounds like the Inspector has been sitting on cold concrete for too long.
Dominic West had previously been in 300, and would go on to appear in the great TV series, The Wire. He was also in Punisher War Zone, and Spice World (The Spice Girls movie) so make of that what you will.

Hannibal Rising was pretty much canned by critics and movie goers alike, however I feel there were some elements which made it a passable film. Certainly if you're a Hannibal Lecter nut then you need to track this down.
Also whilst you're at it, give the book a read. It's pretty good, and like most novels expands greatly where the movie cannot and does not.

One case in point is a scene in the book where Hannibal and Lady Murasaki get nekkid. Now why wasn't this scene in the movie? I remember sitting in the cinema and when I realised this scene was not going to be in it, I felt particularly ripped off.

I mean, movie tickets cost enough as it is. At least give me something!

I have read into the production of this movie and an interesting point I feel I should note is the studio involved were more eager to get this movie out onto the big screen than novelist Thomas Harris was.

Word is the studio paid Harris to write the novel, which would then become the basis for the movie. Admittedly the novel is slapped together somewhat ad-hoc, however it is certainly very good.

There's just a feeling though that both the novel and the movie "phone-it-in."

As much as both expand on the story of Hannibal Lecter, I felt that there could've been more to both of them.

As is the case with most movies these days the studio were wanting this to be a hit like previous Lecter movies, with a view to releasing sequels.
However the movie didn't make a lot of money and all subsequent sequel plans were scrapped.
Too bad too as I would've supported any further movies made.

And yes, now that I think about it I should mention, Hannibal Rising is a prequel to all previous movies. Therefore if there had've been another movie made after this one it would have been known as a sequel prequel.
Or is that prequel sequel?

Here is the movie trailer;

Click here to purchase the DVD
Hannibal Rising (Unrated Widescreen Edition)

Click here to purchase the soundtrack
Hannibal Rising [Cd] (Library Edition)

Click here to purchase the novel by Thomas Harris
Hannibal Rising

Okay, in closing I give this movie a 6 out of 10. It's a good way to pass the evening if you're a crime buff, Hannibal buff, or if you just want to see Gong Li and Rhys Ifans in a movie.

What did you think of this review? Please comment, or email me directly at

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Office Space

Okay, Office Space! Those who read this blog who have seen this movie please raise your hands. Okay, now those of you who also found it hilarious please keep your hands raised.
Yep, I thought so.
Simply put, for everyone who works a shitty job, or dislikes their boss will find this little comedy an absolute gem.
I remember seeing this for the first time years ago. I'd just gotten home from work and wasn't in a particularly good mood; I watched this movie and couldn't stop laughing.
It's been ten years now and I'm still laughing.

Here's the movie poster.

As the poster reads, it's directed by Mike Judge, who was famous at the time for making the Beavis And Butthead cartoon and movie. Mike's since gone on to create the very successful King Of The Hill animated series.

Mike is in a few scenes however the movie isn't about him.

It's about Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston).

Here's Peter, looking as he usually looks at work.
Peter's job is to check lines of code for bank software.
Actually, this is the only thing which dates the movie somewhat. His job is to make sure that when the year hit 2000, none of the bank software would freeze/act up/crash.
We all now know that when 2000 hit nothing of the sort happened. So I guess the joke still works in that it shows just how meaningless Peter's job actually was.

The one bright spark in Peter's day is to head down to the restuarant Chotchkie's and speak with Joanna (Jennifer Aniston).

Jennifer Aniston's inclusion in this movie was a huge selling point as Friends was very, very popular at the time of this movie's release (1999) and this was seen as one of the first stepping stones to Jennifer's movie career.
The movie didn't make great box office numbers but now has a cult status like you would not believe.
You can actually buy Peter Gibbons bobble-heads!

By the way, doesn't Joanna look great wearing all that flair?

Another huge selling point for the movie are the likeable, and very funny, characters.
Here's Michael Bolton (no relation), and Samir Nagheenanajar.

Here's Milton (Stephen Root) with his red stapler.
Stephen Root would go on to work alongside Mike Judge on King Of The Hill.
You can also buy the red stapler!

Gary Cole plays the boss at Initech, Bill Lumbergh.
Bill is your usual boss. Self-important. Egotistical. Contributes nothing whatsoever to the job at hand. Basically Bill's job is to be a downright asshole.
I bet Gary would have had a ball in this role. He'd previously starred as Mike Brady in The Brady Bunch Movie, and A Very Brady Sequel, so you know he has comedic timing.
Gary would later go on to appear again at Mike Brady in the made-for-tv movie, The Brady Bunch In The White House. I have this on DVD by the way and can review it on request; if you REALLY want.

And then there's Lawrence (Diedrich Bader). My God, Lawrence. What a life. His major stress is getting his ass up at 6am to do the dry wall over at McDonalds.
If you're scratching your head trying to remember where you've seen Diedrich before, he played Oswald on The Drew Carey Show, and also Jethro Bodine in the Beverley Hillbillies movie (Does anyone have the DVD? I'd love a copy).

Now, the story progresses on that Peter sees a hypnotist who causes him to forget his troubles, and simply relax.
As you can see, he's at work now and Peter is quite relaxed.

... even whilst being interviewed by Bob Slydell.
John C McGinley plays Bob, and does so perfectly.
John would then go on to appear alongside Rob Schneider in The Animal, but that is a review for another day.

Peter remains relaxed even whilst friends and co-workers begin to snap.
Michael seems to be having trouble with the printer in one very funny scene.

Peter offers a solution to this problem.

I go could into more detail about the movie plot, and the behind-the-scenes trivia, but why bother when I can simply show you this photo?
Oh!... Oh! You know what I'm saying. Oh!

I'll end this review by showing you this other photo.
Here's Lawrence discussing with Peter just what he'd do if he had a million dollars.
Wouldn't we all, Lawrence? Wouldn't we all?
Fuckin' A, man.

Oh. I should point out that there's a bit of swearing in this movie, so if you're going to watch this with kids around you should block their ears or send them to another room.
They'd probably lose interest in watching this anyway as it's very much catered for the 20-40 year age bracket.
I hope I've given you another reason to track this down and give it a watch.
Again, it's a very funny movie; even after many viewings.
Well, I think so anyway.
Here's the movie trailer;
If you want to buy the DVD, please click here
Office Space

To buy the soundtrack, please click here
Office Space: The Motion Picture Soundtrack

If you have any questions or comments about this review, or if you have a movie you want me to discuss in a future blog please leave a comment.
What did you think of this review? Please comment, or email me directly at
Until next time,

Friday, February 12, 2010

Ned Kelly

Ah Ned Kelly. This movie held so much promise. I remember when this was released the world premiere in the Melbourne CBD was shown on the Channel 10 news, and sadly there were only about a hundred movie-goers in attendance.
If only all the comic book nerds had've known what was in store for Heath Ledger in the years to come....
But I digress.
Ned Kelly is, obviously, the story of the great Victorian outlaw and his gang, the Kelly Gang.
Glenrowan has ridden on the legend of Ned Kelly since his showdown with the Victorian Police at the Glenrowan Motel, and if you're ever up that way I highly recommend you stop by the main drag and check it out.
Now with the legend of Ned Kelly being so famous it's a wonder this movie didn't do as well as it should have.
For the life of me I don't know why.
Maybe at the time Heath Ledger wasn't all that respected in Australia.
From memory he was having some trouble with newspaper cameramen and water pistols.
Actually I think after this movie's release he pulled up stakes and moved to America with Naomi Watts.
Maybe it's lack of success was also because both Heath Ledger and director Gregor Jordan appeared on the AFL Footy Show in Melbourne to promote the film. All they got for their trouble were loud-mouth twits riding them about ridiculous topics.
I remember watching the segment and you could see the quiet look of contempt on Ledger's face.

Talking about that, here's Ledger's face on the movie poster.

And here he is as Ned Kelly. Quintessential beard and all.

I remember seeing this movie by myself at my local cinema, but I was not alone. The cinema was packed full of people. I sat at the end of the aisle about 5 rows from the front, next to some young girls who swooned over the cast.
It has Orlando Bloom as Joe Burns, so what could I expect?
I beat all those girls wanted to be Naomi Watts, hey?

And why not? I mean, she certainly looks demure in this image.

Maybe not so much in this scene.
In the stable with Heath, backed up against a lantern?
All we need is Fabio and we have ourselves a scene!

But I digress. I'm just making fun here, and to be quite honest the love story between Ned and Julia (Naomi Watts) is actually very interesting.
Whilst it may not be historically accurate this love story gives the movie that little bit something extra, rather than it simply being about the hardships of the era and the Kelly Gang versus the Victorian Police.

Just one look at Geoffrey Rush as Superintendant Hare and you can see the man is in need of a good chuckle.
And maybe the afternoon with Naomi Watts in the horse stable, backed up against a lantern.
I remember the first time I saw Geoffrey Rush, it was as David Helfgott in the movie Shine. I hated Rush in that film. Simply HATED him. I found him to be very irritating.
Since then however Rush has shown an acting range to be held in comparison with the likes of Jim Carrey, Robin Williams, and even Heath Ledger.
Further to this point, some years back I sat in attendance for "An Evening With Charles Bud Tingwell" who portrayed Premier Graham Berry in this film. Bud spoke very highly of Geoffrey Rush's professionalism. And of Ledger's.
Bud made mention that whilst on this film he witnessed both Rush and Ledger not break character whilst the camera was centred on another cast member, and not looking away or walking out of scene whilst another cast member read their lines.

I'm sure it is this professionalism Bud spoke of which garnered both Ledger and Rush the success they have experienced in their respective careers to date.

Now, for the ladies, here's a photo of Ledger and Bloom on a couple of horses.

And here's the Kelly Gang. They certainly look like a nice bunch of fellows, right?
After Ned's capture at Glenrowan some 3,000 signatures were put to a pertition, asking for his pardon. So they couldn't be all bad.
As we know, this pardon did not happen.

It is not my place to spoil the movie in my reviews however I will mention this; I was surprised with how and when Gregor Jordan ended the film.
Kudos to him for doing so.

Don't you worry though, we do get to see Ledger in the Kelly armour. This is truly a heart wrenching scene. If you're interested so far with watching this film, this scene alone is a standout and testiment to the quality of Australian cinema not seen on our screens since.

Whilst I give high praise for this movie I do want to make mention of Rachel Griffiths as Susan Scott. Urgh. Act your age please honey.

For a star-rating, for those of you wanting a star rating, out of 5 I will give this movie a 3. It's bloody good, but it could've been a touch altered in some areas.
Here's the movie trailer
To purchase the movie, please click here
Ned Kelly

To purchase the soundtrack, please click here
Ned Kelly

To purchase the novel by Peter Carey, please click here
True History of the Kelly Gang: A Novel

For those of you interested to know, Charles Tingwell did sign my Ned Kelly DVD, and thanked me for purchasing it. He also signed my DVD copies of The Castle, and Breaker Morant, but those are reviews for another day.
What did you think of this review? Please comment, or email me directly at
Til then, all the best.
Maarten Bouw.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Auto Focus

Okay, now on to a movie you may or may not have heard about. I've watched it a whole bunch of times though.
Interestly though, I'm yet to sit down and watch this movie with my wife......

The movie is Auto Focus, which is based on the book by Robert Graysmith "The Murder Of Bob Crane." I've since read this book and if you're a fan of Bob Crane's, and especially the TV show Hogan's Heroes, you should find it an interesting read.
It also helps to have an interest in crime investigation as the book gets quite detailed.

The movie, however, doesn't.

Paul Schrader directed this movie. He has previously directed Taxi Driver; which is simply a classic. Paul loses a bit of his edge in this movie, though the preformances of both Greg Kinnear and Willem Dafoe are something to marvel at.

To give you an idea of the type of movie you're in for, here's the movie poster.

Yep, the tagline "A day without s*x is a day wasted" just says it all, doesn't it?

Now I don't want it to seem as if I'm bagging this movie. I am not. In fact as I type this I have this exact movie poster in front of me, framed in all it's glory.

Here's Greg Kinnear in the early stages of Bob Crane's career, prior to making it to TV. He certainly looks like he's hanging out in the 60's, right? Too bad he doesn't resemble Bob Crane all that greatly.

Now here's Willem Dafoe. Or as I call him, the filthiest man in modern cinema. Just look at that smile and pearly whites. Wow.
Willem portrays Bob's friend (and murder suspect) John Carpenter. John gave Bob access to all the latest hi-fi equipment. Stereo, video, you name it. If you're interested in 1960's audio visual equipment then there's a bit of that in Auto Focus.
What they get up to with the equipment though...

It seems the boys like to troll the local bars looking for easy woman.
Just look at Willem's face here; he's lapping it up. Meow!

Bob soon ventures out on his lonesome and comes up trumps.
For those who used to watch the TV series, The Shield, this is Catherine Dent just prior to signing on with the show.
And here's Greg with a very nice shirt.

For a while Bob goes about his merry way, all the while his wife Anne (Rita Wilson) is unaware.
It was a simplier time back then, wasn't it?

Anne soon cottons on though and Bob moves on to marry Sigrid Valdis from the Hogan's Heroes show. Sigrid Valdis/Patty Crane is played by Maria Bello. Now I'm yet to see a movie starring Maria Bello where she doesn't get her gear off.
She's recently appeared in the movie, Flicka. I'm yet to watch it.

Patty Crane doesn't mind Bob sleeping around, although this does make life difficult for Bob's agent, Lenny.
Lenny is played by Rob Leibman, of the TV show Cental Park West. Lenny's in about three scenes, and nails each one.
How appropriate.

This lifestyle continues on for years.
In this scene Bob even nails Stefania (Alex Meneses) of Everybody Loves Raymond.
I guess this isn't a case of Everybody Loves Raymond, but rather, Everybody Loves Adultery.

I spoke to Robert Barone about this scene. He was positively mortified.

In this scene Bob and John are testing out the latest audio visual equipment.
A fair amount of footage would go on to become missing in the years ahead. The footage recovered was used as State's Evidence in the trial of The People Of Scotsdale Arizona versus John Carpenter.
John was cleared of the murder of Bob Crane, and died some years afterward. I'm pretty sure he knew something, but he took that knowledge to his deathbed.

As you can see Bob's soon growing tired of this lifestyle.
Or maybe he's just not too kean on the green suit jacket?
It was nearing to the end of the '70's though.... evidenced here with Willem Dafoe's haircut and attire.
Now that's the end of the photos.
I thought I'd have some fun there. Did you have a laugh? I laughed.
As I wrote above, even though the movie is based on the book about the Murder Of Bob Crane, the movie itself centres more on the life and times of Bob Crane.
It gives very little insight into the how or why to Bob's murder. So if you're wanting to watch it for this reason you might be disappointed.
The movie does have a breast montage though. So you can't really be too angry now can you? :)
All up I would give the movie 9 out of 10 stars. Simply because some of the acting is a bit wooden.
How ironic.
As always, if this sounds like you're cup of tea give it a try.
If you liked it or hated it, please do feel free to let me know.
If you're interested, here's the movie trailer;
If you wish to purchase the DVD you can do so here.
Auto Focus

If you wish to purchase the movie soundtrack you can do so here.
If you wish to purchase the novel, The Murder Of Bob Crane, you can do so here.
Auto Focus: The Murder of Bob Crane

If there's a movie you want me to watch and review also, please do get in contact with me. This blog is as much about you as it is about me, so let's make the most of it.
What did you think of this review? Please comment, or email me directly at
Til next time....