The Re-Review – True Grit

February 25, 2011

The first time around True Grit was to me nothing more than a damn good Western. I was particularly impressed with Hailee Steinfeld, I thought the cinematography and score were superb and I enjoyed the dialogue and the character development. I felt that as a whole the film was a fitting tribute to a well worn genre that allowed the Coen Brothers to sit back and rest on some laurels but still gain some plaudits and award nominations.

My thumb was up, but I wasn’t exactly screaming praise from the rooftops.

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Another brilliant Casta La Vista idea!

February 25, 2011

We’re Geniuses!

After recently seeing True Grit for the second time I found myself feeling utterly muted. This second viewing of The Coen Brother’s western left me brimming with things to say, praise to dole out, initial concerns to rectify.

“Alas,” I said to myself “it cannot be. These things will remain forever unsaid as I have already had my opportunity to review the film in Casta La Vista Episode 32 – Castalive II: I ♥ Castabees.”

That was until a thought struck and I realised my own potential; “This is half-my website…I can do what I want!”

And so it is with great honour that I unveil to you another Casta La Vista first…

…The Re-Review. Ta Dah!!!!!

The simple fact is that sometimes once isn’t enough for a movie. A second bite at the cherry can allow a person to take more from a film than a single viewing might for any number of reasons; second time round there is less cause to pay attention to the narrative because we know what happens at the end so we can focus on other things; we might be in a different mood to the first time around; we might be less drunk.

Also time has an impact. Chris and I reviewed some films mere hours after seeing them for the first time. Has everything about the film settled in to our fragile minds yet? What are we comparing it to?

As such from time to time we will take the opportunity to look back on films that we have previously covered and say our piece about why we’ve changed our minds. We think it makes us look very humble and willing to admit that sometimes we can be wrong or a bit impulsive with our opinions.

But then again we would say that because we’re both awesome.

Anyway…True Grit…

Point of note: There is no amount of multiple viewings or time spent mulling over that can make GI Joe: Rise of the Cobra a good movie. Just so we’re clear.

My Friends and I – 6

February 23, 2011

Hello WTF’ers!

Welcome to another edition of My Friends and I, the section of Casta La Vista where I briefly review a bunch of films I’ve watched as part of my fortnightly film group that I facilitate at QUAD cinema and gallery in Derby.

Let’s get straight into it.

The Way Back

Coming out of The Way Back I couldn’t help but feel that I had just watched a film that should have been a lot better than it actually was.

On paper it has the makings of an epic masterpiece; strong cast, a proven director in Peter Weir, a harrowing ‘based on true events’ story and an exceptionally long running time.

But perhaps the mistake made with The Way Back is that it feels as if it has been made under the assumption by everyone involved that they were making something amazing. I wonder whether or not much of the fault in the film lies in the fact that many of the performances, structure and cinematography come across as if they were phoned in and taken for granted.

The film is not without merit. There are several moments of levity (surprising given the traumatic concept of the film; a gang of Prisoners of War escape from a mountain camp and travel through desolate landscapes towards safety) and it is commendable that the escape occurs quite early on so as to move onto the meat and potatoes quickly.

However at the end of the day as a piece of drama the film suffers for three main reasons; the lack of a chasing pack bearing down on our escapees, a distinct absence of inner turmoil within the group of travellers, and Colin Farrell’s accent.

The King’s Speech

Been there done that. Check out Chris and my thoughts on this bona-fide awards magnet here.

Blue Valentine

As much as possible I try to limit the amount of words I write in these posts but in Blue Valentine I have found a film that I could probably wax lyrical on for days.

So in the simplest terms possible… see this movie. It is, to me at least, essential viewing.

The film showcases the beginning and end of a seven year relationship between Dean and Cindy, played expertly by Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams. Whilst in a sense the story lends itself towards being perceived as emotional, depressing and overly sentimental, the real triumph of Derek Cianfrance’s film is just how joyfully optimistic and entertaining it is.

Not enough praise can be given to Gosling and Williams. That one is Oscar nominated (Williams) and the other is not (Gosling) is a gross injustice and proof that the Academy has failed to recognise that the power of each performance comes from its reliance on the other. If ever there were a case for the Academy to follow in the footsteps of MTV and hand out an award for best on-screen couple, this surely is it.

The film is laced with drama and moments of hyper-real tension- I challenge all viewers who have been in long term relationships not to find at least one exchange between Dean and Cindy reminiscent of an experience of their own. However the way the story is conveyed by shifting time and lacing a fresh faced enthusiasm for love at first sight over a weathered depiction of the death of romance allows for some unbelievable developments of character and a fantastically paced journey that ends in a manner that whilst  admittedly soul-destroying is at the same time ever so slightly optimistic.

Well worth tracking down.

Done and done. Thanks for reading.

CASTA SPECIAL! A forum on TV Recaps

February 3, 2011

A forum on TV Recaps (right click and “save as” for download)

Hello Casta fans…whaddup?

Welcome to a Casta La Vista special; an opportunity to listen in to one man trying to control a gaggle of opinions through a Skype conference call.

The above audio is a recording of a forum we recorded last month on the topic of TV recaps – the bit at the beginning of a TV show where Jack Bauer/Jack’s Dad/McDreamy/Starbuck tells you what happened in the previous episodes (but you knew that already).

The recording is research towards Chris W’s Dissertation for his MA at Nottingham and is seen as an opportunity to get as many different thoughts on TV recaps as possible for use in an audience response chapter of his Dissertation.

Whilst the participants involved were more than helpful and gave plenty of useful soundbites and opinions, we thought it might be worth putting the recording up on the site and seeing what you, our most sexy and illuminative fan-base, had to say on the very same issue.

Please feel free to listen to the above audio at your leisure (although don’t feel the need to listen to it all- it is 50 minutes long and a bit ‘subject-heavy’ at times) and offer up your own views on the subject of TV recaps in the comments section below, or by emailing us at

How do you watch TV in general: Online? on DVD? week-by-week? in marathons?

Do you find recaps useful or do they spoil the show for you?

What works in a recap and what doesn’t?

Does a recap tell you anything about the style of show you are watching?

Answers to these questions and the myriad of other aspects put forward in the audio would be most appreciated. The aim is to get as many differing opinions as possible and hopefully get as lively a conversation going in the comments section below as was had on the conference call.

Special thanks to Chris M, Dan Hughes, Dan Jones, Richard Foster, Rikesh Patel, Greg Wakeman and First Lady of Casta Katie Dimaline for all their help with the recording, and to you the listener/reader for your thoughts too.