All posts by StanleyRumm

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 SOLUTION: Play videogames while you still can.

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 enjoyable existence.

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 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


Mario Kart


or Battlefield

gta v flying

or Grand Theft Auto


or 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 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)

What makes Gravity a Great Film? -The Plot.

I would like to say something that I haven’t seen mentioned elsewhere about the movie GRAVITY, directed by Alfonso Cuarón.

No spoilers. Almost everything mentioned below happens in the first 15 minutes or so.

Apart from utmost praise of the visuals, I’ve seen a lot of bad-press and dismissive reviews of “the plot”. But (and I know I’m not alone) this is precisely what I’d like to pick-over… the plot and what it does is amazing. The rest is a distraction. A beautiful distraction, but a distraction.

First shot of the film puts us in awe. There is no doubt that all of us are minuscule ants in an amazing, wonderful, beautiful, yet daunting world.

Sandra Bullock (Dr. Stone) is in space with two others. She is depressed. She is anxiety-ridden. She is worn out, burnt-up and dead inside. Possibly the only thing pushing her on is her career, but her breakdown is inevitable and it’s coming up fast.
From minute-one she is not feeling well. It is clear she is already suffering:

“Dr. Stone, Houston, medical is concerned about your ECG reading.”

“I’m fine Houston.”

“Well medical doesn’t agree. Are you feeling nauseous?”

She then (clearly out of breath) proceeds to change the subject, talking shop. Her fear of discovery-leading-to-the-abortion-of-the-mission is stressing her out further.

…But we’ll get back to that in a little while…

I’ve read a lot of criticism of George Clooney in this film: “He plays George Clooney”/ “he plays Buzz Lightyear”/ “he’s a comic-book too-smooth caricature without a hair out of place in the worst situation possible, making him and the movie unbelievable”.

Well I disagree and here’s why –

How does one deal with anxiety / nausea/ depression/ feelings of inadequacy?
Whilst in that moment, should we

a)    Concentrate on these ‘bad thoughts’, wonder why we are having them?

b)    Try to work through the processes and steps that lead us to this nasty negative place?

c)    Panic?

d)   Try to put a plan in place that will stop this happening in future?

e)    Ignore it/ free our mind/ then when free, proceed with dealing with what’s in front of us?

To little-ole-me at least, the correct answer is and only ever can be (e).
Maybe there’s a little more to it than that (or not), but that’s the crux of it.

Enter Captain George. 
From the beginning, Clooney is clowning around, making small-talk, jokes, belittling the seriousness of the mission.

“Houston I have a bad feeling about this mission”

“Please expand.”

“OK, let me tell you a story… It was ’96 –I’d been up here for 42 days –every time I passed over Texas…”   

…And now we’re no longer worried about the mission or the million things that can (and will) go wrong, but instead listening to George’s calm voice as we (Dr. Stone) are free to mechanically work through the job without over-thinking the overwhelming
problems at hand or running through our own fears and doubts over and over.

Next Houston asks “Sharif” for a time estimate.

“Nearly there,” he tells Houston.

“Could you be a little bit more specific? Indeterminate
estimates make Houston anxious”.

“No no no Houston –don’t be anxious. Anxiety is not good for the heart.”

So before anything has even happened, in the first couple of minutes while the camera is still in the process of zooming in on the initial location, we’ve had talk of medical, ECG (which monitors heart, nothing to do with nausea to my knowledge), nausea, anxious, anxious, anxiety… “not good for the heart”.

This is a movie about Anxiety.  The Gravity of Anxiety, if you will.

Soon an issue arises and Houston asks Dr. Stone how long it’lll take to fix?

“One hour”, replies Dr. Stone. Clearly she doesn’t suffer
from Sharif’s Indeterminate Estimate Syndrome, nor obviously, his lack of anxiety.

The first sign of real danger comes when Houston says:

“NORAD reports a Russian sattellite has incurred a missile strike.”

Captain George’s eyes dart to Dr. Stone to check her reaction.
She takes a little longer to consider what she has heard before looking to George to gauge how to react. 

Seeing him smiling calmly back is reassurance enough to keep her working methodically.

Now Houston continues the sentence and Captain George immediately spots the danger.

He checks his less-experienced co-worker who is still floating merrily on his wave of calmness.

Now she pauses and asks (stutters) …
“should we should we be worried?”

His reply?

 No, let’s let the boys down there worry for us.

Isn’t this ‘Certainty’ exactly what we all crave? Dr. Stone (‘we’) is already on the verge of panic but put it down to experience or writers’ prerogative, Captain George knows nothing is achieved through panic –smile and if you can’t control it, continue doing what can be done.

It’s not that he did something to avoid catastrophe, but even if he rushed everyone back to the ship at this point it would make zero difference. In fact it would almost certainly whip everyone into so much of a frenzy they would almost certainly die during or soon after the first debris-strike.

Still, he’s concerned enough now to gently enquire, without raising suspicions, how much training she has actually had.

Soon the debris hits and Dr. Stone is sent reeling. She is out of control. Too much is happening for her to focus on any one thing. She is thinking of everything, unable to concentrate on anything that might possibly save her.

Kowalski’s single-minded order is all that is there to save her. “You must detach!”

“What? Are you mad!? How can I possibly detach myself!? I’ll die if I do -I can’t do it anyway!” we would all scream back.

There is just too much going on. Too much to concentrate on. Too much to worry about!

Yet that one single command is the key: Detach.

Whether it’s in space, at work, in the kitchen… when everything is too much to take in… first of all detach. Worry about all that other stuff some other time.


Every fibre of your being is screaming at you “NO! DON’T LET GO!”

You find it impossible to concentrate enough to do the opposite to how you are seemingly programmed to react.

…Finally she detaches and is alone. Still reeling, but now like a bunny in the headlamps, fear has her frozen.

Now her body is running on instinct. It takes her a long time, but finally she is forced to breathe again.

To do nothing -but breathe…

Now, through the magic of (this new) cinema, we are taken seamlessly through her spacesuit visor to see the world from her point-of-view

to witness the world as she sees it –reeling…

Still out of control, but calm enough now to function, she gets her bearing and reaches out for the first time  as if to say OK, I’m ready now –I’m completely in your hands.

This is the point where she regains control of her senses.

She is powerless, she knows it, but she is no longer panicking.

Now the camera exits her visor again so the story can

…OK, I’m sure none of us wants me to continue giving a blow-by-blow account of how I see this movie, so I’ll stop that now.
On Clooney though -I’d just like to say this: his character is a caricature –he plays the perfect human being who is able to cope with this situation without once saying or doing the wrong thing. But that’s not a flaw with the actor or the plot -it is the whole point.

This is exactly how to handle such a situation/ such a person –in a perfect world.
Or out of it.

Clooney’s “caricature” is not a distracting misstep to an
otherwise impressive movie –he is there to demonstrate how to handle this situation perfectly.

Later in the movie he is even more perfect, but I’m sure you’ve considered for yourself why this is, if you’ve seen it –or you will come up with your own explanation when you do.

Another “misstep” I’ve seen levelled at this film is
complaints of “B-movie plot insertions” –trying to quickly get us to root for the protagonists by crow-barring in some hokey past trauma that serves no purpose other than to make us feel sorry for them.

Usually the guy who tells us the biggest sob story is the one who gets killed first.

In Gravity, Dr. Stone tells us “I had a daughter…”

In this movie, such hokey dialogue is most certainly not emotion-time-filler-in-between-disasters.

It itself is the point of the movie. …Well, yes, it is shorthand for “whatever trauma you’re having yourself”, but what do you expect from a 90-minute action movie?

Anyway… this movie is inside out.

It has also been said that the “3D and space f/x” mask a vacuous, too-simple plot. But no, I strongly disagree  -the 3D and space f/x distracts us from the real purpose of this film. It doesn’t ram it down our throats like some more-commercially-minded or sincere-yet possibly-misguided filmmakers might do.

Instead it dazzles and blind-sides and impresses us so much with its visuals that we may not take onboard –or at least don’t mind taking onboard if we do- what it is saying.

It tells us a difficult story without mentioning it at all.

After all, who would go to see GRAVITY outside the arthouse-set if this was known as “A Movie about Depression and Anxiety”?
Gravity is not a movie about Space. That’s why it’s called Gravity when there is Zero-G in it.