Donnie Darko

One morning in early October, 1988, troubled teenager Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal) is coerced into sleepwalking by a mysterious figure in a creepy giant rabbit costume. He wakes up on the local golf course and heads home, only to find a jet engine has fallen into his bedroom, with the FAA claiming no such engine is missing. Had Donnie been home, he’d have been killed. In his dream, Donnie was also told that the world would end in 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes and 26 seconds, so he sets out attempting to unravel this mystery whilst also dealing with the regular trials and tribulations of a teenager in the 80s.
they_made_me
Continue reading

Dances with Wolves

After unintentionally becoming a hero when his suicide attempt becomes a mass charge against the enemy, Lt. John J. Dunbar (a be-whiskered Kevin Costner) is given his choice of location in the Union army, opting for a small, broken down post miles from anywhere, in order to “see the frontier before it’s gone.” When he saves a white woman adopted by their tribe as a girl, the local Native Americans take a shine to him, as he attempts to educate them of a civilised world, whilst they in turn teach him of their ways.
The plotting is formulaic and the pace is stodgy. There are some good performances (Graham Greene and Rodney A. Grant as the two most forthcoming members of the Sioux tribe), but this feels too bogged down in a history and culture more important to the American people than anyone else. Unforgivably, Costner beat Scorsese to the Best Director Oscar for Goodfellas, and it is extremely difficult to understand why.
Choose life 4/10

Independence Day

Much like Titanic (also on the list, some other time) this is a film that only really reaches its stride in the second half, once the iceberg has hit and the world starts to sink. Ignoring the obvious, huge and much-discussed plot holes (what if the alien spaceships didn’t operate on Mac OS?) this is actually a very enjoyable popcorn film, with Roland Emmerich unleashing his full hatred on mankind in the form of giant spaceships playing a lethal game of chess with the Earth. The cast contains many tongue-in-cheek performances by actors more known for comedy (Will Smith, Randy Quaid, Jeff Goldblum) and displays people from all walks of life, be they a drunken former abductee or a Clinton-esque president, berated for being too young, all bonding together to save their planet. At times it is a little too patriotic though, as we are shown late in the film that the rest of the world have been waiting for the yanks to come up with a solution (“About bloody time” complains a typically posh Englishman), but then in a big dumb action movie you can expect some big dumb ideas (Smith’s first human interaction with an alien sees him punching it in the head). Also, the US patriotism is probably more of a money-making plot, seeing as the director is actually from Germany.
Choose film 8/10