Episode 20 – The Castetball Diaries/The Man in the Iron Cast

July 24, 2010

The Castetball Diaries/ The Man in the Iron Cast (right click and “Save as” for download)

Get ready for a gushfest! The compliments seem to spill forth this in our milestone twentieth episode for our two main reviews, Toy Story 3 and Inception. Also listen in for a review of a classical concert, some talk about potential racism and Castamind’s worst score yet?

We also announce the film we’ll be watching at Casta’s first birthday spectacular in a couple of weeks – but you’ll have to listen in to find out what it is!

You can buy the following films reviewed in this episode from Amazon:

Clash of the Titans: DVD & Blu-ray

Shutter Island: DVD & Blu-ray

The Blind Side: DVD & Blu-ray

I Love You Phillip Morris: DVDBlu-ray


Review – Predators

July 19, 2010

We often talk about films being formulaic and I fear that our overuse of the term may have caused it to lose some of its impact; so when I say that Predators is really formulaic, try and treat it as though it’s the first time I’ve ever uttered the word.

Eight strangers wake up stranded in a jungle – attempting to find out where they are and how they got there – only to be picked off one by one by a mysterious enemy hiding in the shadows until the final showdown, where only two of the eight are still standing. These two must then face the mysterious enemy head on using the knowledge they’ve garnered of it throughout the course of the movie, before emerging victorious.

Formulaic right? All that however, isn’t to say that formulaic equals bad, it’s just that if you’re looking for something new and refreshing, you won’t find it here. Please don’t be upset if I’ve spoiled the movie for you, after all it should be stuff we’ve all seen before. It should come as no surprise then that the Japanese guy dies an honourable death protecting the others, or that the final two left alive are the main character and the only girl. Frankly if these things do surprise you, I highly recommend you stop reading this and start watching more movies.

I believe I’ve made it fairly obvious before now that I’m a big action movie fan so none of the formulaic chat above adversely affected my viewing of Predators whatsoever. It was nice to finally receive a spiritual successor to the original movie, and the fact that it literally lifts its scenes straight from the Action Movie Handbook proved to be somewhat more of an enjoyable aspect rather than a bad one. After the initial twenty minutes, the action comes thick and fast and it doesn’t take all too long before the group’s number begins to diminish and the way in which this is done is so predictable that watching Predators becomes a game of guessing how and when the big stuff is going to happen.

The standard formula here is supported by the movie’s ensemble cast with all major “tough guy” stereotypes catered for; the Russian, the Yakuza, the Cartel enforcer and so on. Adrien Brody leads the cast and seemingly attended the same “how to be a tough guy” school that Christian Bale did, simply by buffing up then acting distant and talking in a gravelly voice for the duration. Performance wise this isn’t going to do anything for his career but it’s always nice to see familiar faces treading new ground. As far as whether or not him taking the lead in an action movie goes; my response to that is very “meh” – he’s not bad, it’s just that this role isn’t a deep character piece and doesn’t really call for much more than a cursory performance and there isn’t really anything any other actor could have brought to it that Brody didn’t himself. The other guys in the cast all play their stereotyped roles well enough with a mentally disturbed Laurence Fishburne probably providing the most entertaining performance of the support. Again some of the familiar faces are treading new ground here, but none of them do anything special.

My only real disappointment was in the sloppy way which the introduction of the “super predators” is handled. The main enemies in this film aren’t the predators we’ve seen before but a new harder, faster, stronger type who are at war with the lesser kind we’ve encountered previously. Presumably then in the twenty three years between the original and this one, standard predators with their heat vision and energy weapons just became too standard fare to deal with Adrien Brody alone so now we have to deal with the big daddies too. This element wasn’t handled particularly well and could prove confusing to newcomers to the franchise, which is a shame when every other aspect is so welcoming. I will say though that we’re given nice visual indications when both types are on screen to make it easy enough to distinguish between the two.

All in then, I found Predators to be a very enjoyable watch – classic summer action sci-fi fare- but realistically your taste in film will decide for you whether or not it’s for you. It’s so standardised it isn’t going to change any minds so if you like this kind of thing already, then definitely go and see it. If you’re massively against action sci-fi then it’s not going to do anything for you. If you’re in the middle, then you could do a lot worse right now in the lead up to this summer’s big movies.


Guest Review – Martin

July 13, 2010

Adam Cadwell what a guy! Not only did he have the massive good fortune of living with me for eighteen months, he’s also a pretty talented artist. Who’da thunk it?

Anywho in a nice change to our regular reviews all being WORDS, Adam has constructed a nice visual review (with words) which was originally written for Electric Sheep Magazine – but hey it’s too good for you guys not to see! (or for me to steal)

Enjoy!


Review – Heartbreaker

July 11, 2010

Perhaps it’s the fault of the other romance films I’ve been watching of late but Heartbreaker could not have been a more enjoyable watch for me.

Having put myself through the turgid He’s Just Not That Into You (avoid, just, avoid) and had to endure the poor excuse for chemistry that is on offer in Twilight Eclipse, it was a genuine pleasure to see the relationship of Alex and Juliette unfold in Heartbreaker.

The plot itself is fairly inconsequential; if anything it is probably best not to try and think too much about the setup for the story (an expensive team of three that destroys bad relationships for its clients using high tech gadgetry and elaborate costumes? Not the sort of operation that would succeed in the US or UK I imagine…thank god it’s a French film!). Instead just sit back, relax and enjoy the glorious scenery, impressive performances and generic twists and turns in a romantic comedy that refuses to neglect either facet of its genre moniker.

In many respects it would be easy to criticise Heartbreaker for dropping its conceit so early on. The most fun aspects of the film are those in which Alex (played superbly by Romain Duris who manages to be all at once attractive, sympathetic, conniving, disgusting, charming and sleazy) and his husband and wife partners-in-crime worm their way into their targets social sphere and chip away at their conscience until the targets themselves choose to end the horrible relationships they find themselves in (for in this film the moral is that only through temptation and experience are we able to see that we have become trapped). In a way it is a shame that these sequences become fewer and farer in-between as the relationship between Alex and Juliette progresses, for these are the moments with the most laughs.

However, unlike in a film like Wedding Crashers (which works as a fine basis of comparison for Heartbreaker) the joy in this film comes from the fact that the romance that takes over the proceedings does not feel rushed or tacked on. In both films the setup is just a means of putting two characters together, and so as a result it is dropped once a relationship has been established.

In Wedding Crashers we are disappointed not to see any more weddings being crashed, because Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson’s chemistry is much more entertaining than the scenes shared between Wilson and Rachel McAdams. However in Heartbreaker it is less jarring to have the heartbreaking be neglected as the relationship between this films two soon-to-be-lovebirds is much more pleasing to watch. Alex and Juliette’s connection is believable and genuine- once all the pretence and trickery has been removed- and part of this may be because the film takes its time in allowing the characters to grow.

Likewise, elements that would often feel cheesy and overdone in another film work well in Heartbreaker because it acts as a knowing wink to other successful romance films of the past. Juliette’s love of Dirty Dancing means that she already has an appreciation for love and lust, and as Alex’s career is dependent on him successfully implementing the clichés of modern love stories, we are automatically put into a world into which these truisms are norm. As such, a dance sequence in a closed restaurant, or a final sequence of two separated lovers running back into one another’s arms in front of a picturesque backdrop, are amusing to a knowing audience and, dare I say, a little bit moving at the same time.

A potentially redundant plot device of Alex being pursued by a debt collector of sorts may slow things down a touch, but it isn’t enough to detract from the shenanigans going on elsewhere.

Heartbreaker does not aim to change the landscape of the romantic comedy; instead it works with what it has to create something light and enjoyable. The cinematic equivalent of standing under the sun, Heartbreaker will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy inside; just make sure you don’t stare at it for too long.


Episode 19 – Indiana Jones and the Cast Crusade

July 8, 2010

Indiana Jones and the Cast Crusade (Right click and “save as” for download)

Gee whiz! Almost as if you weren’t fed up of hearing us already from last week’s Cast up, we’re back already with our first proper episode of Casta for about er… a month maybe!

Stick with us for chills, spills and thrills along with reviews of Twilight: Eclipse, Shrek Forever After, Get Him to the Greek and Whatever works. All that as well as your usual humorous exploits and details of Casta’s first birthday party!


Project 365 – Half Year Review

July 7, 2010

Well well well! It’ been some time since I’ve done one of these (as evidenced by the sheer number of films above) but what better time to catch up than when we’re in the business of catching up?

So the 1st of July was the 182nd day of the year and thus fell exactly half way from start to finish. Like a mid point. Gee, I’m clever today. Enough ramble, time for FACTS and ANALYSIS!

In the first six months of the year I saw two hundred and five films, of which fifty six were at the cinema (accounting for 27.32% of all films watched). A further seven were cinematic releases this year that I caught since being released on DVD which, when added to the fifty six previous means I’ve seen sixty three cinematic releases so far, accounting for 30.73% of all films seen. The total runtime of these films (as gathered from IMDB and Wikipedia) is a mammoth twenty two thousand, five hundred and eighty seven minutes (it looks more impressive in words) which translates to fifteen days, sixteen hours and twenty seven minutes watching movies – of which five thousand, nine hundred and ninety one minutes were spent actually watching movies in the cinema (not accounting for trailers) – that’s four days, three hours and fifty one minutes!

I ♥ data analysis.

The films then!

Weeks 20 – 26

150. Four Lions
151. Ninja Assasin
152. Alien
153. Newsmakers
154. Alien 3
155. Robin Hood
156. Rock’N’Rolla
157. Date night
158. The Godfather
159. Defending your Life
160. Sunshine
161. The Godfather Part II
162. The Godfather Part III
163. A Knight’s Tale
164. Risky Business
165. The Last King of Scotland
166. The Dark Crystal
167. Zodiac
168. 13 going on 30
169. Prince of Perisa: The Sands of Time
170. Braveheart
171. Ray
172. The Killer Inside Me
173. Boogie Nights
174. Changeling
175. 4.3.2.1
176. Thelma & Louise
177. Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom
178. Death at a Funeral
179. 30 Days of Night
180. The Losers
181. Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade
182. Milk
183. E.T.
184. Not Another Teen Movie
185. The Tooth Fairy
186. Greenberg
187. Superhero Me
188. Skeletons
189. High School
190. The Good Heart
191. The Extra Man
192. Get Low
193. Son of Rambow
194. World’s Greatest Dad
195. Third Star
196. Mean Creek
197. Restrepo
198. Toy Story 3
199. Jackboots on Whitehall
200. Monsters
201. Eagle vs. Shark
202. The Station Agent
203. L’arnacouer
204. Labyrinth
205. Whatever Works


The Half Year Cast Up

July 4, 2010

The Half Year Cast Up (Right click and “save as” for download)

That’s right Casta Friends – 2010’s glass is already half full, so we thought we’d give a rundown of the highs and lows of the year so far because we’ll probably forget the first half of the year when it comes round to this year’s Castastrophies – just kidding… This then is a handy recap of the things you should be looking out for on DVD either now or sometime soon, and a good jumping off point for newcomers who can’t be bothered with the joy our semi-extensive back catalogue.

We’ll be back with a  regular episode later this week and it’ll have shotgun noises and everything!