Friday, 29 August 2008

Mirrors

A little old school, a little modern, though not entirely complete...

Ben Carson (Keifer Sutherland) is currently undergoing marital problems with his wife, Amy (Paula Patton), who is not showing much interest in his wellbeing. As an attempt to stabilize his life, Ben lands a job as a nighttime security guard for an abandoned, yet important, department store. However Ben comes across some mysterious circumstances when it appears that the mirrors in the building are reflecting an alternative reality to his own.

The story seems like a simple affair at first: man goes around some dark and mysterious place, discovers something he shouldn't, and all hell breaks loose. For the sake of everyone, the film does attempt to be more then that. Director Alexandre Aja does a good job at meshing both the supernatural elements of the mirrors with the reality of Carson's married life. The former is tense with some some great moments marred by some which are clich├ęd. The overall result is hardly mixed however, and proves to serve horror in a good dose, and as well has a nice hint of Asian horror. Like the horror, the social elements either work or do not. The conflict between both Ben and Amy seems rooted in reality and can be related to. But the film does little in the beginning arc to help attach the viewer to Ben's social life circumstances and so there are a few scenes which don't quite gel well enough to be entirely believable. The overall story moves at a decent enough pace, slowly bringing to light new point for the viewer. But after the two-thirds mark, the story not only picks up speed but content as well to the point where the last third of the film has enough story to be told in the first two-thirds. The problem is that too much happens towards the end that its difficult to justify cohesion in the films plot. It really needed to be a few minutes longer so that some of the plot could get more fleshing out.

But what is presented, Aja does a great job directing. The cinematography is not exceptional by any means, but is still a wonder to watch. The best of the lot easily goes to the death sequences, with the first being an excellent prologue into the story, and another which is truly numbingly evil: you'll want to keep watching due to its uniqueness but at the same time turn your eyes away. Sadly not all scenes are well thought through, mainly due to the story. The ending, for instance, was rather surprising but apt. However there is no underlying logic to link the events to any tangible truth expressed through Aja's direction. And this is easily the films greatest fault: Aja appears to hope the audience will not question how the film progresses. Even the explanation for the mirrors is still left shrouded, and not because its all expected to be a big mystery, but because Aja does little to use his directional cue to help give more explanation when its needed.

Acting is commendable with a few solid performances but none of them are truly able to be anything but good. Sutherland pulls the film along and is fairly believable throughout as a confused security guard going through marital problems, while having to cope with the mystery that surrounds the mirrors. The only downside is that his performance does, at times, bear a slight resemblance to his role in 24. It's nothing major, and will perhaps only be available to ardent fans of the series. Other characters are minor, though Patton does get a nice little chunk and is adequate enough to support Sutherland, but when the script seems to falter with her character, so does Patton. Thankfully her acting is not unbearable.

No sex, and some slight nudity, the film is loaded with scattered with swearing, though not always hard. The violence does get gory with two particular scenes, shown in the red-band trailer, being excessively so. And the camera lingers on the bodily wounds and accompanied blood. Beyond this there is nothing exceedingly graphics about the scenes, with the worst being the images of people on fire but this is achieved with poor CG and so lessens its effect. In fact, fans of Aja's work will possibly be a tad disappointed that the gore level never reaches his previous efforts, notably The Hills Have Eyes, but that doesn't stop it from being powerful images nonetheless.

Mirrors is very much like a mirror in all honesty. There is the real, tangible film, but then also the diluted image which is created from the reflection: as much as the film seems to promote substance, it inadvertently at times does not. The story is interesting, though inconsistent. The acting is good, though not entirely exclusive. The horror has some excellent moments, though there probably is not enough. Regardless, Mirrors is not a poor excuse for a film. On the contrary, its a good attempt and quite enjoyable. If anything, Mirrors proves an excellent introduction for those who have not accustomed themselves, or are not willing to do so, to the excessive gore of modern horror.

7/10


Screen date: 29 August 2008
Release date: 29 August 2008

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

GC: Sony Conference overview

Playstation Portable:
Hardware:

PSP 3000 - A new model, not new PSP. Has enhanced LCD for more intensity and less glare. A built-in microphone. 8 bundles, all at R2,287, either with FIFA, Go! Communication, Buzz!, Harry Potter

Software:
Loco Roco 2

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Playstation 3:
Hardware:

80gb sku - going for R4586. Launch in EU on 28 August.
160gb sku - going for R5161. Launching in EU October 31, same functionality as 80gb.
Play TV - 19th September in EU.
Wireless Keypad - Attachable to the PS3 controller. Has a touchpad for mouse usage.

Software:
EyePet - Adopt a virtual animal which you can stroke and play with and so forth. Uses the eyetoy camera presume.
DC Universe Online
Free Realms
Heavy Rain - A QTE system seems in place.
InFamous
LittleBigPlanet - 29th October is the release date.
MAG
Motorstorm 2
Ratchet and Clank
Resistance 2
Singstar Disney - music from Disney animations such as The Lion King.
Singstar Turkish Party - German exclusive it seems.
Singstar Volume 3 - an update will allow downloaded music to be playable on your PS3.
Siren
The Agency

Fat Princess [PSN]
Fl0wer [PSN]
PixelJunk Eden [PSN]
The Last Guy [PSN]
Wipeout HD [PSN]

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Playstation Network:
Software:
Vidzone - music streaming service which is apparently free for early 2009. For use with PS3 and PSP.
Misc - Video service coming?

Friday, 8 August 2008

Annie Leibovitz: Life Through a Lens


A work not fully thought through...

The simple truth of the matter is that the name Annie Leibovitz echoes through popular culture, so much so that it was only a matter of time until a documentary was published on her in some form. Annie Leibovitz: Life Through a Lens, just so happens to be the title of a documentary undertaking and whether you are a fan of Leibovitz or not, this film is worth a look.

The documentary is structured in four ways: there are the candid interview segments, but these are infused within footage of present commissioned work by Leibovitz, her meeting with a publisher, and her history. This all sounds rather overwhelming, but in reality, it proves a simple integration which is easy for the audience. This complex structure make the documentary far more interesting to watch then it perhaps is. It doesn't follow in a linear pattern, moving from past story to current work, to interviews and so forth, and the director, Barbara Leibovitz, must be commended for making the entire experience gel together. However, that doesn't stop the documentary having a very outdated feel, with the camera used, at last for modern footage, seeming somewhat low key. It is a problem, but a minor one in the entirety of the film.

The film is more geared towards those who know little about Annie Leibovitz, as the information presented does seem to be the sort which is knowable by anyone who has followed her career, or were diligent enough to search for information about her. Yet the film does work as a collective, allowing all the integral information about her life to be condensed. And what is presented is interesting nonetheless, such as Leibovitz early days traveling with the Rolling Stones, and how she developed into a more mature photographer after various influences in her life. It all makes for a good story of self-discovery, and really puts her later work, such as the Miley Cyrus incident, into perspective.

That aside, the documentary could have been better. It's 86 minute runtime really needed to be longer so as to flesh out what is presented. Considering that Leibovtiz is one of the most celebrated photographers of our time, its a pity to see so little in terms of celebrity participation in regards to interviews. The documentary is directed and written by Leibovitz's sister, and so the overall direction is questionable. This facet could be seen to make for a more personal experience, but Barbara Leibovitz comes across as far too distant, and as such, the issue of subjectivity is still apparent. It is as if Barbara didn't wish to seem biased and so detached herself from the subject, but doing so doesn't make her come across as objective either. It's a very tricky sort of situation, but one that would have been best solved by allowing herself to be more part of the documentary.

There are a few blasphemous terms but besides that, the only other objectionable content comes in the form of an array nude pictures.

Annie Leibovitz: Life Through a Lens is an interesting documentary that deserves a watch, but if one were not interested in any of the subject matter, its very difficult to convince them to try this out. Sadly the film suffers from being underexposed, and not elaborate enough. Theres not enough celebrity support, not enough information, not enough runtime. For a photographer with the caliber of Annie Leibovitz's, this documentary is a bit of a shame.

6/10

Screen date: 08 August 2008
Release date: 08 August 2008


Available on Channel24