08th Nov2014

Interstellar – Film

by timbaros

Matthew helmetThere’s a lot of hype surrounding the new film Interstellar, which opened on Friday.

It’s directed by Christopher Nolan, the man who brought us the billion-dollar grossing films (each!) The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Returns. He also brought us 2000’s smart and highly intellectual film Memento and 2010’s highly confusing Inception. Also upping the hype around Interstellar is that it stars recent Academy Award winners Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway, multiple Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain, as well as Oscar winners Michael Caine, Ellen Burnstyn, and in an uncredited/unbilled but pivotal role in the film, Matt Damon. Also by the look of the trailer, it looks visually and expirementally stunning. It’s on the path to be this year’s Gravity.

Interstellar is a lot of things. But according to Nolan, it hinges on the provocative question of humanity’s place in the stars. Interstellar means ‘occurring or situated between stars,’ and that’s basically what the movie is all about. It’s also about Black Holes, distance galaxies, uninhabitable and habitable planets, spaceship travel, and what drives the plot is the relationship a father has with his daughter.

Set in the near future when an agricultural crisis has hit Earth and there is not enough food to eat and the population is slowly dying. The land is very dry and there are massive sandstorms that engulf the planet. With the possibility of the extinction of humans, a dangerous and daring mission takes place to look for planets outside of the universe where humans can move to, survive, and most importantly, reproduce. It’s a mission that goes above and beyond the barriers of time and space, defying not only gravity, but inter-galaxy travel as well. It’s an experimental mission that’s not only very dangerous, but life altering as well.

Cooper (McConaughey) is a former test pilot and engineer who’s now a farmer because that is what is needed in this decaying, dry new world. The only crop that is left on earth is corn, so this is what he grows at his vast farm, with the help of his father-in-law Donald (John Lithgow) and his two children – teenage son Tom (Timothee Chalamet) and daughter Murph (Mackenzie Foy). Cooper hears of some sort of experimental space project going on in his area, so he drives off attempting to find it, at the same time finding Murph in the back of the car when she was told to stay home. She’s as much of a space geek as her father.

They find the compound, or actually the compound finds them, and they both get whisked into the underground bunker. It’s actually a fortress made up of scientists and engineers, let by Professor Brand (Caine). He leads the project for the search of a planet in perhaps another universe that can sustain the human race. A project which includes a newly built spaceship.

So Cooper (without the blessing of his daughter) and Brand’s scientist daughter Amelia (Hathaway) and two others blast off into space, into the darkness, on a mission that seems impossible. But what Cooper doesn’t know is that 13 other astronauts had previously attempted the mission, and all have not been heard from since. And to add drama to the story, Amelia was in love with one of them.

It’s the space mission (and Cooper and Murph’s relationship) that drives Interstellar. And what a drive it is. Nolan takes us into space and beyond like no other filmmaker has. We are transported into another universe, through blackholes, to other planets. One planet has waves the size of the Empire State Building, while another is caked in ice, where they find one of the 13 astronauts alive – Dr. Mann (Damon). And this is when Coopers’ and Amelia’s mission strays off it’s course, in a detrimental way. One hour on this planet equals 20 years on Earth, so the more time spent there, the more time Coopers children grow up, and old, without him.

What Interstellar tries to do is use the magnitude and grandeur of space as a backdrop for exploring the relationships that Cooper has with his children, especially his daughter. It’s also about all kinds of things – our lives on earth, what will happen when our earth can no longer sustain us, who are are, and it makes us look at the relationships we have. It basically asks us to examine, all this, and more, in its 169 minutes. London born Nolan successfully puts the audience into space, and McConaughey successfully makes us believe that he’s got the passion to be in space, but Interstellar leaves us mere mortals behind in a film that is a bit overhelming, mind bending, demanding and a bit confusing. And the sound quality is not the best, the music and noise at times drowns out what the characters are saying in a few crucial scenes. And with two recent air space accidents in the last couple weeks, no one is really in a rush to get to space. Written by Nolan and his brother Jonathan, Interstellar is a movie bigger than what it can handle, and what we can handle.

08th Nov2014

Chef – DVD

by timbaros

851433-chef-movie-posterChef, now playing in cinemas, is a real treat, from start to finish.

Jon Favreau, who also wrote, produced and directed, plays Carl Casper, a chef in a popular Los Angeles restaurant. He’s in control of his kitchen, and proud of the food that he makes for his customers. However, one day a restaurant critic (Oliver Platt – who actually looks like a restaurant critic), eats in the restaurant and then proceeds to give it a bad review, lambasting Casper’s cooking, Not happy with this, Casper, at the urging of his son Percy (Emjay Anthony), opens an account on Twitter and starts tweeting bad things about the critic, picking up hundreds of followers in the meantime. Casper decides to give it another go with the critic, so via Twitter he invites him to the restaurant to eat a new menu he plans to prepare. However, this doesn’t go well with the owner of the restaurant (Dustin Hoffman), who says they will stick to the menu they’ve got and that if Casper doesn’t like it, he can walk away. Casper does walk away, much to the dismay to the rest of the restaurant staff, including Martin (a very well-cast John Leguizamo) and sous chef Tony (Bobby Cannavale). But Casper can’t stay away from the restaurant for two reasons, he’s dating the restaurant’s hostess (an unglamorous Scarlett Johannson) and he feels the needs to get even with the restaurant critic. So Casper decides to go to the restaurant the same night the critic is there, and, in front of all the customers and staff, yell at him and tells him he doesn’t know what good food is. After his rant, he is banned from the restaurant forever.

Deciding what to do next, besides spending lots of time with his son, his ex-wife Inez (an always good Sofia Vergara – who’s becoming quite the screen goddess) urges him to come with her and their son to Miami while she is on a business trip to take some time away and mellow out. While there, he comes up with the idea of a new business – a food truck selling Cuban food. He buys a run down and dirty food truck, and with the help of his son, fixes it up and calls it ‘El Jefe.’ Martin flies in and wants to be a part of the new business so together they create delicious Cuban food, especially Cubanos – a Cuban Sandwich of cheese and ham. With his son, they take the food truck on a road trip back to Los Angeles, stopping in various cities along the way. Thanks to Emjay, they have quite a following on Twitter and Instagram and it’s with social media where they pick up loads of customers along with way, with queues stretching down blocks in every city. Arriving back in Los Angeles, they’re a hit and have a new business.

While the story of Chef is very predictable and could’ve been guessed without me writing about the entire plot, it’s, of course the food that plays a starring role in the film. Beginning in the restaurant to Casper making a delicious meals at his home, the food looks vibrant and succulent and delicious. And the Cuban sandwiches want to make you have one after the movie, so if anyone knows where I can get one in London, please write in! The cast is very good, and credit is due to Favreau who wore four hats in the movie (5 if you count his cooking in the film, well I presume it was him cooking) and for creating what is a simple film into such a delight. The rest of the cast is fine, with Leguizamo and Vergara bringing a va va va voom Latin spice to the movie. All in all, Chef is a pretty good movie. Please go see it, and you will definitely want to eat after.