Foxcatcher -a review -no spoilers!

I went to see Foxcatcher earlier without knowing anything about it beforehand, other than it had Steve Carrell in a “serious role” and it was something to do with wrestling (the olympic kind, not like the WWF).

<Here’s an image of an open field for a couple of seconds>

I can’t say I was bored. I spent around two hours watching, thinking “if this ends well it could be an excellent film”, but really I hadn’t a clue what it was about even as I was watching -which kind of kept it interesting throughout.

<Here’s a closeup of the back of someone’s head. Study it for 10 seconds>

Steve Carrell is almost unrecognisable, under a prosthetic nose. The only way you would know it was him in fact is by the voice and also he looks almost exactly like the “Gru” character he plays in Despicable Me.

<now see this long-shot of some men quietly running and training in a gymnasium>

If you knew what this film was about beforehand you might well be driven mad because boy does it take a long time to get to the point.

<here’s a shot of passing cars in a rural-setting>

Most characters barely talk and there’s little clue as to what they are thinking.

<insert horses here>

There’s the odd piano-tinkle to emphasise the dramatic moments, but mostly it’s silent -or would have been if it wasn’t for the howling wind outside The Gate cinema, Midleton, Cork. In fact I wasn’t sure for 2 hours if the wind was a sound effect or an added bonus -better than 3D!

So what did I really think? …There’s a complicated set of relationships at play here. The film does a good job of “showing not telling”, which is always a sign of class in my opinion. The problem is, by the end <more shots of barely-anything-onscreen go here> I didn’t really feel like I had witnessed anything worthwhile -or at least anything that I felt warranted a whole film.

I saw Birdman last week. In that, people didn’t shut up talking and talking and shouting and talking and expressing aloud their inner souls. In Foxcatcher nobody says nuffin and then something almost inexpicable happens and then it’s over. Add some mundane shots and overlong scenes where everyone forgot the camera was still rolling and you have an almost-certain Oscar contender!

…Watching it like as if it’s a “Whodunnit”, but instead a “WhatsHappenin?” I found it did hold my interest throughout <here are some olympic athletes jogging through a woodland. Silently. In sunshine>, but overall it’s not a film I could recommend to anyone and I can’t see myself watching it again.

A little bit too “worthy” for my liking, although it’s certainly very competently made.



(highlight the text between the dots if you’d like to read further -it’s not really a spoiler as such, but some more info is given here on the Foxcatcher plot itself).

I guess the point of the film is it says something about loneliness and massive wealth -and how massive wealth and power can be its own corruption.

Ultimately though, if there wasn’t a murder in there somewhere there would be no movie. That in itself is not a good enough reason to make or see a movie in my opinion.

Interstellar (Review)

I find it amazing that someone was given a massive budget to make this movie. Where it went I don’t know. Quite simply it is manipulative, tell-don’t-show, pretentious cinema at its overblown worst -unseen since the late seventies/ early eighties.

It’s kind of mesmerisingly bad in some ways -compulsive viewing if only to witness the trappings of someone at the helm who has nobody to politely ask him to stop. It’s difficult to know what’s going on most of the time -partly because the plot goes on a trek around a blackhole in order to not show itself (I say show instead of reveal, because it’s not that it’s deliberately unwilling to show its hand, but rather unable to effectively portray what little substance there is at all) -but also in a more ‘intimate’ sense, nothing is actually shown onscreen. Instead we hear people spouting while we see someone else looking at or doing something else.

And unlike in, say, Inception (which I did enjoy quite a bit) mostly what is being said here isn’t so much exposition as it is orbital distraction. All too often it’s impossible to tell who is talking or why -and frequently- what they are saying. There’s a fairly pathetic-looking robot for instance who seems to have some interesting characteristics -not least of which is his humour setting. But most of what he says is said when he is not on the screen, so it’s hard to even be aware that he is the one who is saying it. I believe there is a second robot later on who is on-screen for even less time, so again confusion ensues for no reason other than “this is a mess -here you unscramble it”.

I do like a lot of the sound and score, but other sometimes-considered-somewhat-crucial noises such as dialogue seem to be treated with contempt. Perhaps it was the cinema in which I saw it, but who is saying what to whom, why and “what is this person crying about again?” were foremost in my mind for the 2hours 50minutes of its length.

The most annoying thing about the movie was (no spoilers) when one character is crying that she must rescue the data as an enormous tidal wave is about to say hello. That to me is where it lost me. I was willing to go with it up until then, but that lost me. The same ultra-important data is then quickly forgotten (as is the resulting death due to incompetence) as she has a cry afterwards about how maybe Love is the missing dimension (or something).

That washed it all further away for me, well out to sea.

Besides that, for its near-3hour running time, all the characters are nothing more than names, never really fleshed out.


There needs to be some kind of emotional involvement between the protagonists and the audience, but instead it settled for a manipulative father/daughter tear-jerker as an over-long single back-story, leaving everything and every one else’s motivations and emotions as nothing more than plot contrivances and twists.

To be upbeat, my favourite thing about this movie (apart from the soundtrack) is when they meet “Dr. Mann”. That works in itself, but when you try to relate that to the character’s back-story (that we are TOLD about, not shown) it doesn’t gel. You could argue he is thinking of “the human race” without any selfish emotion, but what we see on screen has almost no bearing on what has been said about him. Again maybe he has changed due to his isolation? I don’t buy that -or at least a lot more work would have to be done to convince me of that. I’m more than happy to do some work to buy into a good movie or story, but for me Interstellar is a shallow, Pretentious, over-blown, drippy folly and I am sorry to have to say that because I think Christopher Nolan has/ did have great potential. After this I doubt very much he’ll be able to get back on track. Emperor’s New Clothes comes to mind.


Overall: Nice, if average, Twilight Zone episode if it was 25 minutes long.


Nightcrawler (Quick Review)

This for me is film of the year so far (2014 that is). I knew little or nothing about it beforehand and I believe this helped it deliver the shock-value crucial to its enjoyment.
Gyllenhall stars as possibly cinema’s finest psychopath. It’s never overplayed, but clearly Lou Bloom is the personification of a US Corporation. His impersonal, upfront, cards-on-the-table, not-unlikeable, goal-driven, amoral behaviour is as alien as it is endemic in human nature. He is willing to do whatever it takes to be successful in whatever field he finds for himself -the choice of field is almost irrelevant, but having chosen, each of its rules and applicable laws are merely obstacles to be overcome in his rise to the top.
He isn’t a horrible person, which makes the film more perverse. His actions are at all times merely the logical extension of his stated, natural, praise-worthy goals. There’s no arguing with his logic, which has him facing in one direction only at all times. If you’re able to ride this upward wave you’re more than welcome to your share of the success, but woe-betide the person who’s human frailties can’t keep pace with the stated aims. If Corporate America was a person it would be Lou Bloom -or your money back.

(All claims for financial remuneration resulting in the real or perceived interpretation of this review shall be scoffed-at with vigour.)


Gone Girl (Quick Review)

There is quite a bit to like about Gone Girl, however I don’t believe David Fincher can direct women very well (at least his portrayal of women in general leaves a lot to be desired) and the movie lacks the razor edge that would allow it to land that violent slash across the throat of modern media that it seems to be stretching for. Instead it scrambles around a half-interesting Hitchcockian missing-person tale before moving on to take less-focused stabs at the media and women in general. Quite good. Not good enough.

Trouble At the Cinema

I went to see Nightcrawler this evening, but I arrived late. It was starting at 6:25 and it was already 6:30 when the staffmember tore my ticket. I asked him if there were trailers on first. He said “yeah -10 minutes worth …6 minutes left now.” So I took note of the screen it was showing in and risked a visit to the bog first since my seat was reserved.

When I returned, a woman and her two kids (maybe 12 year olds) were going in just ahead of me. Also with them was a cinema staffmember. He had their tickets and was leading them to their seats. The place was full and the lights were down. There was a trailer showing for Maze Runner, but I wasn’t paying attention since I was concentrating on where I was going.

It seems other people were sitting in the family’s seats and the usher was asking them to leave. I quickly moved past them because I knew where my seat was (E8)… problem was when I got there a young fella was sitting in it.

He looked up at me nervously and surprised when I stopped and re-examined my ticket. Instead of asking him to leave I thought I’d get the usher to do it. So I went back, explained the problem, he took my ticket, had a look and started down to E8…

I said “I don’t mind sitting somewhere else, but someone else might come in for that seat…”

We got to E8 and the young fella looked up with surprise again. Clearly he was nervous. Just as the usher began to talk with him I looked at the screen… that trailer for Maze Runner was still on. In fact it seemed a bit slow for a trailer. Then it hit me! I tapped the usher on the shoulder and asked “is this Nightcrawler?” He looked at the ticket and said “yes -Nightcrawler.” Then we both looked at the screen and back to the ticket together in near-comic timing.

Oops! Silly me!


Dangerous work, well documented

So there I am, 10ft off the ground, on my hands and knees precariously perched on a ladder across a perspex roof with aluminium frame. I was attempting to finally mend and seal-in the panels that blew out in the storm some month before.

“Quick!” I shout to the missus. “Take some photos -if I fall through they could be great.”

Off she goes and strolls back some time later to snap snap snap.

“Make sure you zoom-out to show the context,” I said, “so you can  see the EXTREME danger I’m in!”
(I may have been slightly exaggerating in this, although only slightly.)

Snap snap snap.

“Maybe take one from over there,” I pointed, trying to ensure the best location was covered in case of an accident. Every cloud has a silver lining an’ all that -plus it’d be nice to show future generations the final images of their grandfather.

“Are you getting the perspective?”

“YES!” she snapped.
It wasn’t the camera this time. She had had enough.

Finally, after spending a few hours trying to wash/ brush/ scrape Tec7 sillicone off my hands I was able to sit down to examine the results.

47 photos she took, of which this is the best one:

1-IMG_2159-1Luckily, the camera was set to take RAW images, so I was able to recover this level of detail from the almost-all-white images.

Here I am squirting in the sillicone.




4-IMG_2171-5This is my good friend, John McSweeney (without whose assistance I’d never have managed), looking on.

3-IMG_2170-4Pardon me for posing in this one. Cheese!


So there you have it.

Tough work, but I’m glad we had someone on hand to document the day. :)






SIMPLE SOLUTION: What to do with Old Folks

THE PROBLEM: Many people end up looking at the bare walls in a nursing home (or anywhere else) for any number of years towards the end of their life. It’s a sad whimpering, prolonged farewell to an otherwise possibly somewhat-in-parts-at-least enjoyable existence.

THE SOLUTION: Play videogames.

Yes it’s true that many old people can’t function in different ways -no mobility in their legs/ fingers/ head or even lack of mental awareness itself. This, I agree, is tragic.

However, others are sadly waiting to die. Go on, ask them if you think I’m just being cruel. They have been thrown in a home or even sitting in their own house all day long, looking out the window -or worse- at the television!

It’s true and don’t blame me for saying so -a lot of older people are leading sad lives.

But why??

Think about it -there’s no need to sit there staring at walls -get in some practice now while you still can on something like

mk8Mario Kart


bf4or Battlefield


gta v flyingor Grand Theft Auto

tetris1or even plain old-fashioned Tetris.


Whatever you’re having yourself!

Think of your future! Don’t leave it too late!

Play videogames now and secure your happiness through the otherwise grimmest days of your life.

I hear what you’re thinking: “But I can wait until that day comes and play videogames then!”

No, that would never work. Too little too late. You’d be conditioned not to know or have any interest in it. Like everything else, the world of videogames takes time and effort to learn. It’s not something you can easily pick up in between worrying about your last bowel-movement or if you’d taken enough pills this hour.

Which type of game suits me best? Which console? How do I control that guy on the screen? What am I supposed to do here?  …There’s a whole world out there that, chances are, you never even knew existed.

Videogames exercise the brain as well as hand-to-eye coordination, etc.. They’re perfect for ancient people who otherwise sit in one place for hours on end doing nothing.

“If only I hadn’t wasted my life by not playing videogames…”

-William, aged 79.


But remember: Whether you are currently into videogames or not -don’t leave it too late to begin. You will regret it if so.

Do you want to be the one sitting in a home like my mate William, aged 79, with the wind rattling your nose-hair, not a soul nor a thought to keep you company other than the peeling magnolia paint and the single echoing thought hitting off the hard edges of the remnants of your brain:
“If only I hadn’t wasted my life by not playing videogames…”

But there are more advantages to older people playing videogames:
Suddenly they’re not as needy. Feel guilty for not visiting them? Great -pop online and run around shooting them and their geriatric A-Team. You can even talk with gramps while you do so over the headset -if he’s not too busy blowing you up with grenades or rocket launchers.

If you still feel the need to visit them in person though, best make an appointment -they might have a clan-session scheduled. It’s not easy being a gamer, but once you got the gaming-bug and have all the time in the world to play you have the perfect-storm for Gaming Greatness.


“I haven’t felt this alive in years!”

-Gramma Mavis, full-name and age withheld in case her slow-coach toy boy discovers how old she really is (90).


Move over kid, you are gonna eat Gramma Mavis’s dust.


 (As with all posts in this site, this is © Copyright May 2014 Stanley Rumm, unless otherwise stated)