The Prestige

The Prestige

After the success of rebooting the Batman franchise last year with Batman Begins, director Christopher Nolan has teamed up with his two finest actors from that comic book adaptation – Christian Bale and Sir Michael Caine – alongside the talented Hugh Jackman and the beautiful Scarlett Johansson, with a fascinating story regarding two magicians whose intense rivalry leads them on a life-long battle for supremacy.

Similar to Nolan’s previous work with Memento, the narrative of The Prestige jumps across various points in the story, much like a magic act in itself.

The plot revolves around two central characters, Rupert Angier and Alfred Borden (Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale, respectively), who start a friendship that eventually turn into rivalry after Rupert’s wife is killed in a magic trick that went wrong. After that, the two start trying to discover each other’s secrets. It all changes when Alfred discovers the ultimate trick: the Transported Man, a magic act that will make Rupert lose his mind in order to decipher it.

With this thought-provoking story that requires actors with a great deal of emotive range, Nolan has assembled what could be described as a dream team. Both Bale and Jackman suit their respective roles perfectly, and pitting these two performers against each other was a stroke of casting genius. As usual, Sir Michael Caine provided a memorising screen presence as Cutter, the inventor who designed the tricks.

But probably the most surprising performance comes from David Bowie (yes really!) whose unforgettable turn as the Russian physicist Nikola Tesla absolutely shines.

The genre of The Prestige is quite tricky to categorise… It walks between a fine line with elements of mystery, drama, suspense and fantasy. In that, the story becomes a never-ending stream of wonder for the mind: one can never tell exactly where the story is going to lead next, becoming more and more as time goes on. This gives Christopher Nolan ample opportunity to play with the movie-going audience. And play he does. With narration by several characters, each adding their own viewpoint to the events, and with a direction that moves between time to mystify and distract, the end result is a climax that itself is a series of puzzles that each unravel beautifully.

In the end, The Prestige is a fantastic display of what can be accomplished when you bring together superior talent. Not only is this the best magic show you will see, but perhaps the best film of the year.

Animal Crossing: The Movie

Animal Crossing Movie Poster

Based on the popular Nintendo game, Animal Crossing: The Movie, will feature Tom Nook and co heading to the big screens in Japan’s movie theatres.

Doubutsu no Mori: The Movie will be showing in cinemas across the nation as of December 16th. Tickets are already on sale at our local convenience store run by that Racoon…

See the three TV trailers here:

Doubutsu no Mori: The Movie – Japanese TV commercial 1

Doubutsu no Mori: The Movie – Japanese TV commercial 2

Doubutsu no Mori: The Movie – Japanese TV commercial 3

Slides at Tate Modern

Test Site

At London’s Tate Modern, a new sculpture is on display that allows visitors a new way of experiencing a piece of modern art.

The ‘Test Site’ is a piece of impressive engineering created by Carsten Höller.

I had the unique opportunity to try out the slides with a friend during a visit to the popular art gallery. The slides are truly magnificent when you see the large artwork up-close in the cavernous space of the Turbine Hall.

We went on the two ‘smaller’ slides for starters and it was quite good fun as you spiral down inside the glass and metal tube.

Later on, we went to the fourth floor to experience the second highest slide… It took around 10 seconds to travel down four stories in Tate Modern and it was fantastic as it dips and turns in a spectacular rate.

Next time, I will have a go on the highest slide on the fifth floor…

Casino Royale

Casino Royale

This new take on the existing franchise of the famous British spy series created by Ian Fleming has made James Bond, the secret service agent, as a more human and emotional driven character. Casino Royale is based on Fleming’s first novel in which we see Bond earning his ‘double-0’ status and the license to kill.

The film opens with an atmospheric black and white sequence in which Bond brutally kills his first victim in a blood-strewn public toilet. This action scene alone reveals the character we are all familiar with has become a more tougher, no-nonsense kind of guy who doesn’t give a damn what everyone thinks.

The film immediately proceeds to a dramatic and exciting chase scene across Madagascar between Bond (Daniel Craig) and a bomb-maker, which ends up in a disaster. Reprimanded by M (Judi Dench) for his recklessness, Bond takes matters into his own hands and heads to Bahamas where he sees a possible lead in terrorism.

Eventually this leads him to Casino Royale in Montenegro where he plays a high-stakes poker game against Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), with the hopes of making the terrorism investments go bad while being paired with the sultry Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) as a secret agent for the British treasury.

When Daniel Craig was first announced to be the new actor portraying James Bond last year, many critics were complaining that he wasn’t the right choice. Some were saying he was “too blonde” and “bland.” And yet, in Casino Royale, Daniel Craig has proved these doubters wrong with an exceptional performance in the lead role.

His on-screen presence is truly spectacular. From the moment he steps out of the sea in a similar way to Ursula Andress in Dr. No, the new physic of Bond, with the pumping thighs, bulging pecs and inflated ego shows a new side to the character. I believe Daniel Craig’s portrayal is as good or better than Sean Connery – who is considered to be the best Bond over the years.

Director Martin Campbell – who worked on his first Bond film with Pierce Bronsan back in 1995 with GoldenEye – has created a beautiful look to the film with exotic locations and dramatic action pieces. Working with Paul Haggis excellent script (who also wrote the 2006 Oscar-winning Crash), it’s interesting how Campbell has forced this new Bond movie as ‘back to basics’ without any aid of gadgets.

Speaking of action sequences, these were all done for real, ignoring all CGI and green screen technology to create more ‘realism’. To be honest, it works spectacular well especially the Miami airport scenes.

As for Bond’s love interests, he has two on offer, the lovely Solange (played by Caterina Munro) and Vesper Lynd (featuring the gorgeous Eva Green). Of the two Bond girls, it is Eva who gets more screen time in which she brings a highly intellectual charm coupled with just the right amount of fragility. Her chemistry with Craig, though, is a bit too enhanced by the script’s romantic angle that veers dangerously close to getting the better of the movie’s overall dynamism. This was the only criticism I had; these scenes when Bond professed his love to Vesper after recovering from his (naked) torture seemed to drag on a bit too much…

Despite that and with a running time a little over two hours, the climactic showdown in the canals of Venice feels less exciting than it could have been. But in the end, Craig and Campbell give enough reason for one to overlook such faults. Through their recreation of the legendary role, the gamble on showing Bond’s first mission, as a secret agent making his break, seems to pay off and I’ll look forward to his next, new mission in 2008.

Borat: Film review


If you enjoy the humour and comical timing from the talented Sacha Baron Cohen with Da Ali G Show, then this latest movie – Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan – will be a treat for fans.

The sketches in this mock documentary focus on Borat travelling across North America sampling the culture in this Western civilisation. He is a journalist for the local Kazahstan TV network and his mission is to report back to his home country in aid of learning the American way of life.

His first stop is New York City and during his brief visit in the Big Apple, he tries to express his welcome by kissing complete strangers in public, but not to great success…

Borat is in “the glorious US and A” to film his show and as you know, the Kazahstan reporter has a unique way of interviewing his guests. Watching Sacha Baron Cohen’s performance is always fascinating and often creates hilarious results. He really has a special talent of creating mischief based on people’s responses and his humour will always make you laugh.

After a day’s filming, Borat discovers Baywatch (but more importantly Pamela Anderson) whilst watching TV back in his hotel. He then sets out on an epic quest from New York City to California (where Pearl Harbour and Texas are…) hoping to locate Pamela and asking her for marriage.

As Borat travels across the vast country he encounters many amusing situations including: Learning to drive and then purchases an ice cream truck for the trip; accidentally enters a Jewish-owned Bed & Breakfast (Borat is anti-Semitic), in which he consequently holds a cross and his money close as he speaks fearfully into the camera of how the clever, shape-shifting Jews attempted to poison him… And later, he buys a grizzly bear for protection after the traumatic experience.

He eventually reaches Los Angeles to meet his elusive Pamela Anderson. I won’t spoil it for you when he asks the former Baywatch star for his hand in marriage!

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan is an entertaining and amusing movie. It is apparent that Sacha Baron Cohen has done something remarkable by creating an anti-Semitic, misogynist and bigoted character. Okay, the cruel jokes might offend some but this movie provides a shock to all emotions with outrageous, gross and disturbing images. In the end, this is a fantastic comedy featuring Sacha Baron Cohen in his finest hour.

24: Season 5 DVD

As a fan of this cult ‘real-time’ television series, I am amazed by the show’s popularity regardless of how many terrorists Jack Bauer kills.

In day five, Bauer comes out of hiding and after being framed for the murder of the former President (and good friend) David Palmer, our American hero needs to find out the truth. What follows is an epic, twisting and dramatic plot that leaves a trail of conspiracies leading to the White House administrators…

The first episode of season five was shocking as two well-liked characters were killed before the day even got started… It’s a testament to the writers and producers who always provide a thrilling drama to the award-winning show. Kiefer Sutherland yet again puts in an amazing performance as CTU Agent Jack Bauer, but it’s Gregory Itzin who proves the biggest reason to watch, stealing entire episodes as invertebrate President Charles Logan as he struggles the longest day of his life.

Meeting the Gorillaz

Gorillaz Rise of the Ogre

After work, I had the opportunity to attend a book signing at my local Waterstone’s bookshop, featuring the creators of the Gorillaz cartoon band.

The new book, Rise of the Ogre, is a superb autobiography based on the group. The illustrations by Jamie Hewlett are excellent and after seeing his work in a recent Design Museum exhibition earlier this year, I have become a big fan of his work.

Blur singer Damon Albam and the author of the book, Cass Brown, were there alongside Hewlett to sign my copy.

Leaf’s forum signatures

Leaf's two signatures

After using my old Monkey Grand Prix theme forum signature around 12 months now, I’ve decided to update this with a new image.

The original featured the cute AiAi from Super Monkey Ball (one of my favourite games on the Nintendo GameCube) and 2005 Formula One World Champion Fernando Alonso (currently my favourite driver in motor racing).

With the new signature, I have incorporated the two Bauer characters from the hit TV show 24 – Jack and Kim (played by Kiefer Sutherland and Elisha Cuthbert respectively) – along with AiAi and the new 2006 F1 champion.

This new image is now proudly displayed at the bottom of each my post on the Eternal Sunset forum.