T2 Trainspotting (2017) Review

T2 Trainspotting (2017)

Directed by Danny Boyle

Based on Trainspotting and Porno by Irvine Welsh

Starring: Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller, Robert Carlyle, Kelly Macdonald, Anjela Nedyalkova, Shirley Henderson, Irvine Welsh

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
20 years after the previous film, Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) returns to Scotland to make amends with his friends, Daniel “Spud” Murphy (Ewen Bremner) and Simon “Sick Boy” Williamson (Jonny Lee Miller), whilst avoiding the psychopathic Francis “Franco” Begbie (Robert Carlyle).

My Opinion:

I enjoyed this sequel more than I thought I would and it was better than I expected. It’s interesting that just last week I reviewed The Hustler (1961) and its sequel The Color Of Money (1986). It doesn’t always work to revisit characters with films that are 20+ years apart. However, in the case of both The Color Of Money & T2, I did thoroughly enjoy seeing what our much older characters are now up to and I don’t think either film ruined its (admittedly superior) predecessor.

Let’s face it – the Trainspotting sequel was never going to be better than the original. Trainspotting was so of its time and it captured a mood, time & place in a way I don’t think could ever be replicated now. All I wanted was a sequel that wasn’t embarrassing & didn’t ruin the characters as we remember them and I think Danny Boyle has managed to deliver this to Trainspotting fans. I’ve actually been extremely disappointed with some of his films I’ve watched lately (Trance, Slumdog Millionaire) so am very happy to say that this sequel met & even exceeded my expectations. I still like these characters. (Other than Begbie, of course… What an asshole!)

I really like the first film and think it deserves its acclaim for being something quite unique. When I first saw it years ago, it was when I was first starting to really get into films and it was unlike anything I’d ever seen before (and probably one of the most shocking I’d seen at that point in my life). I was also still in America at that point so I suppose it was very foreign to me as well. I’ve only watched it once more since (just after moving to the UK over a decade ago) so, while I think it’s a very good film, I’m not one of its obsessive fans and had even forgotten bits & pieces of it. More than anything, it was the soundtrack from the original that stuck with me (Excellent soundtrack!). I probably could’ve done with re-watching the first before the sequel but, with the help of some flashbacks which I thought were well done, it filled in a few blanks in my mind.

My point is this: I’m no expert or obsessive Trainspotting fan and I’ve never read the books so I don’t feel very qualified in reviewing this sequel. I know I personally enjoyed it and it was great revisiting the characters and seeing them together again (especially Renton & Spud. I’d forgotten how likable Spud was – he’s easily my favorite character in the sequel). This is a more grown-up film and certainly not as intense as the original but it feels “right“. These guys are 20 years older – they’re not going to be exactly the same. However, they still stay true to their characters and, though older and supposedly wiser, still make bad decisions and mistakes.

Immediately after watching this, I was mostly curious what fellow blogger Mark of Marked Movies thought of it as I know he’s a big fan of the original (and he’s from Scotland, I should add). He kindly reviewed the original a couple of years ago for my IMDB Top 250 Project HERE (Thanks again, Mark!). I figure that his opinion on this sequel is far more relevant than mine so, if you’d also like the opinion of a big Trainspotting fan, you can read his review of the sequel HERE. It looks like we both feel quite similar about the sequel so Boyle seems to have done a good job keeping loyal fans (as well as casual fans such as myself) happy. Oh yeah – The soundtrack is also okay but it’s not as awesome as the first film’s!

My Rating: 7.5/10

Trainspotting (1996) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Mark of Marked Movies. He’s also reviewed Heat (HERE) and Argo (HERE) and The Big Lebowski (HERE). Thanks for all the reviews, Mark! 🙂 Now let’s hear his thoughts on Trainspotting, IMDB rank 151 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE.

Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB Review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews. I know I’ve made a few that are specific to the movie being reviewed. I’ll also do an IMDB update post soon & will post some more logos.

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Director: Danny Boyle.
Screenplay: John Hodge.
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Robert Carlyle, Ewen Bremner, Kevin McKidd, Jonny Lee Miller, Kelly MacDonald, Peter Mullan, James Cosmo, Eileen Nicholas, Shirley Henderson, Pauline Lynch, Stuart McQuarrie, Keith Allen, Kevin Allen, Dale Winton, Irvine Welsh.

Director Danny Boyle’s marvellous debut “Shallow Grave” was always going to be a hard act to follow but to attempt an adaptation of the ‘unfilmable’ Scottish novel “Trainspotting” by Irvine Welsh, seemed like lunacy. Boyle, however, captures Welsh’s book brilliantly and despite “Slumdog Millionaire” gathering him a best director Oscar, this still remains his best film.

It follows the lives of a group of friends from Edinburgh as they experience the high’s and low’s of life through heroin use. Renton (Ewan McGregor) decides to go clean and rid himself of his affliction and his low-life chums but finds that’s easier said than done. Spud (Ewen Bremner) is too needy, SickBoy (Jonny Lee Miller) is too controling, Tommy (Kevin McKidd) has just taken some bad direction and Begbie (Robert Carlyle) is just plain pychotic. Renton, however, enters into making a one off drug deal with his old pals, so as to make a new life for himself altogether.

Boyle’s film has often been criticised as glorifying drug use. Glorifying drug use? Really? People who believe this must have been watching a different film. The characters involved all behave despicably. They are responsible for thefts, fights, deaths – including the death of a baby. Get imprisoned. Contract HIV. Ruin their lives and others’, all because of their drug habit. What this film has in depth, vibrancy and fun, is the reason it could be mistaken for being pro-drug use but having these qualities is more of a testament to the filmmakers involved, in making a bleak and depressing subject matter, very entertaining. The characters are extremely well written (kudos to writer Welsh) and acted by an ensemble of excellent actors. It made a star of Ewan McGregor, who’s character, although likeable – and brilliantly played – is essentially the person responsible for the downfall of many of the other characters. Notable other performances are Ewen Bremner as “Spud”, the most endearing of the group and a character too gentle for his lifestyle. The best of the bunch though, is Robert Carlyle as the psychotic “Begbie”, who’s choice of drug isn’t heroin but violence – and he’s just as destructive with it. He’s a dangerous and highly volatile person and Carlyle perfectly captures the on-edge feeling of his terrifying unpredictability. It’s an award worthy performance that was sadly overlooked. Everything about the film reeks of class. From it’s rollicking soundtrack, to the rich, snappy dialogue, with great characters in hilarious situations and kinetic fast paced direction. This film has everything going for it and stands as one of the finest films of the 1990′s.

A relentlessly energetic experience that leaves you craving for more, much like the habit of it’s protaganists.
Pure uncut, Class A.

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Mark Walker

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Big Fish (2003) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Zoe of The Sporadic Chronicles Of A Beginner Blogger. Zoe has already reviewed The Departed (HERE) and The Green Mile (HERE). Thanks for all the reviews, Zoe! 🙂 Now let’s hear her thoughts on Big Fish, IMDB rank 242 out of 250.

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE.

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Here is another film I undertook to see for Table9Mutant and her IMDB Top 250 challenge. I have been having a blast with this as I have been given the opportunity to go back and revisit some great  movies again, and there were quite a few that I had been meaning to get to again and look into. Without further ado, let me commence with sharing my feelings on Big Fish.

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“A man tells his stories so many times that he becomes the stories. They live on after him, and in that way he becomes immortal.” – Will Bloom

The story revolves around a dying father and his son, who is trying to learn more about his dad by piecing together the stories he has gathered over the years. The son winds up re-creating his father’s elusive life in a series of legends and myths inspired by the few facts he knows. Through these tales, the son begins to understand his father’s great feats and his failings. (IMDB)

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“They say when you meet the love of your life, time stops, and that’s true.” – Edward Bloom

An 8/10 for Big Fish. This is a Tim Burton film, and certainly one of his finest films. While you can see it is a Burton flick due to the fantastical presentation of things, the story reels you in more effectively than many he has told recently, resonating with you when all is said and done. Big Fish boasts a phenomenal cast and they all bring the goods to the table effortlessly. Helena Bonham Carter was, as always, incredibly impressive. There was plenty of humour to go around in this movie without it getting old or too extremely cheesy or feeling too forced, but not enough for it to take front and centre stage either. Jessica Lange was perfectly cast to play Sandra K Bloom, she was beautiful, sweet, caring and a wonderful mother and loyal wife. Alison Lohman could conceivably have been her when she was younger, and I liked that you could see that Lange had grown from the woman that Lohman was. Ewan McGregor was fantastic to watch as the young Edward Bloom, and wove an impressive story, undertaking to show you something whimsical if only you would accompany him on his journey. Billy Crudup played the embittered and frustrated son that still loves his father though he does not like him very much. He played that well and was convincing. At times I could understand his frustration, and then at other times I thought it was excessive. The costume design was just amazing in here, telling a story completely on its own. I like how the movie explored reconciliation (without it being some serious overkill crap) and how people identify things differently, and the truth is simply how something is perceived.

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“I don’t think I’ll ever dry out.” – Sandra Templeton

There were so many scenes that were just put together so well and were just beautiful. I loved the scene where the young Edward Bloom finally sets eyes on a young Sandra Templeton and instantly falls in love. Time stops and it just lingers there, and he walks through it. Everything is frozen around him, the popcorn hangs in the air and gets brushed aside, he steps through hoops to get to her, the whole time completely enthralled, and the next thing you know time catches up, double time. It was just such an arrestingly beautiful scene and demands your attention, that you watch it and see how it all comes together. There are a few of these. This is also a beautiful story of true love and how it can last, how sometimes things just are perfect in life, and that is just that.  The score worked for this movie, too, but I must say is rather forgettable when all is said and done at the end of the day. Typical Danny Elfman/Tim Burton collaboration, and that is by no which means said in a demeaning manner. Big Fish is inspiring, though at times it gets annoying to watch father and son arguing all the time. Albert Finney was great to play the old man that Edward Bloom became. It was a lovely journey to follow through, to see what the son thought of his father and his stories, to see how he desperately just wanted the truth and was willing to dig for it, and how his father was just a passionate storyteller who loved his son, no matter what his son thought of him.

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“Everybody’s there, and I mean everybody. And the strange thing is, there’s not a sad face to be found, everyone’s just so happy to see you.” – Will Bloom

I must say that the present day storytelling was nice in the movie, but I was much more excited for and taken by the wonderful past experiences that Edward had to tell, the outline of his youth, the things that he had done, the places he had gone, the people he had met. They were insanely interesting and even though the tales are tall and a little ludicrous, when they are told the way they were laid out here, one is almost willing to forget that the movie is supposed to be deeply steeped in realism, and go out on a whim that Edward had the magical experiences that he proclaimed to. However, when the present rolls around again and you see it all as it is, that is when you know that he cannot seriously be telling the truth, everything is so plain and boring outside of his mind. Big Fish is a beautiful and stunning story, with an enchanting fairy tale element to it that works on many levels; this movie is definitely worth checking out if you have not done so already!

Beginners (2010) Review

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Beginners (2010)

Directed by Mike Mills

Starring:
Ewan McGregor
Christopher Plummer
Mélanie Laurent
Goran Višnjić
Mary Page Keller

Plot:

This film follows Oliver (Ewan McGregor) as he struggles to maintain a long-term relationship after growing up with two parents whose marriage was loving but distant. Oliver is 38 – his mother Georgia (Mary Page Keller) died five years ago and after her death his father Hal (Christopher Plummer) came out as an openly gay man. He admitted to Oliver that he’d always been gay through his whole marriage to Oliver’s mother. Soon after Hal comes out, he’s diagnosed with cancer. This film takes place in Oliver’s present day life (2003), soon after the death of his father and just as he starts a new relationship with French actress Anna (Mélanie Laurent). Through flashbacks we’re shown the previous five years of Hal & Oliver’s relationship and we see how Oliver dealt with his father’s now openly gay lifestyle and young new boyfriend (played by Goran Višnjić) & his father’s declining health.

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My Opinion:

This is a lovely film. Christopher Plummer won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for this role & I’m happy to say that it was well deserved. It was great to see Hal enjoying the freedom to finally be himself. Even after being diagnosed with cancer he doesn’t let it stop him using the chance to now fully embrace life & accept being (and be accepted for) the person he’s always been. Goran Višnjić is fine as Hal’s boyfriend but the real focus of the movie is the relationship between Hal & his son Oliver. They grow much closer in the last five years of Hal’s life as Hal can now be fully honest with his son. Their relationship is equally heartwarming & heartbreaking as we know from the start of the movie that Hal has already passed away.

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In present day, Oliver is talked into going to a party with his friends. It takes a bit of convincing & it’s obvious that Oliver is very sad & “lost” after his father’s passing. At the party he meets free spirit Anna, a French actress who also has trouble maintaining steady relationships as her job keeps her from staying in any one place for very long. They start a relationship which is great at first but turns more sad & distant as things become more serious. Through some further flashbacks we’re shown Oliver as a young boy (12ish?) and his mother Georgia. We can see that she’s another kooky free spirit, as is Anna, but she’s also very clearly sad & lonely after being in a marriage with someone who can never truly love her in the way a husband should. I’d have liked to have seen a bit more of the flashbacks with Oliver’s mother – I thought these flashbacks were very good & helped in a way to even better explain why Oliver now has such trouble with his relationships. The only time we see his parents together are in these flashbacks and we’re only ever shown his father giving his mother a brief kiss on his way to work, much in the sort of way you’d kiss a friend. There aren’t many of these flashbacks with Georgia but they’re simple & very effective.

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Although, yes, this movie is very sad it does have some humor in it. It’s a very “quirky” drama. Some of this quirkiness was good but some of it didn’t quite work for me – it felt too “forced”. One of Oliver’s best friends is his dad’s dog, adopted by Oliver after his dad’s death. He’s a cute Jack Russell and he talks. Don’t worry – not in a Bruce Willis, Look Who’s Talking voice! And his mouth doesn’t move or anything – he’s just subtitled. It’s not that often and not too terribly annoying but I did find it a little distracting. Oliver also has a couple of friends (the ones who drag him to the party) who are charming but perhaps also a little too quirky. They all go on little graffiti sprees and spray paint random deep & meaningful sayings that are a little too abstract and not actually all that deep & meaningful. And of course Anna is quirky and Oliver & Hal’s boyfriend are both a little bit quirky. I know I’m using the word quirky a lot but my point is that the movie tries a little too hard to be quirky. It’s not over the top, though – it didn’t bother me too much. I just preferred the more straight forward stuff in this.

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All this quirkiness felt sort of necessary, though, as it could have been a far too depressing movie without it. Oliver & Anna’s relationship starts out great – I loved them together and really bought into their relationship. But as it gets more serious and Anna gets more & more sad & withdrawn it gets a little too depressing. Anna’s reasons for remaining so distant from people aren’t explored as in-depth as Oliver’s so it’s harder to relate to her at the end. She’s an absolutely beautiful French actress and, aside from a little bit about a suicidal father who’s too dependent on her emotionally, it’s hard to see why she’d be so unhappy. Gorgeous. Having sex with Ewan McGregor. Totally can’t relate to that! 😉 Seriously, I think she’s stunning. Look at those eyes:

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Summary:

Beginners is a lovely drama about relationships and how love, which should be simple, can be so complex. The quirkiness is a little bit forced but not in a way that ruins what’s a charming film. The female characters of Anna & Georgia are a little underdeveloped but I guess that’s to be expected as this is more about the father & son. The relationship between Ewan McGregor’s Oliver & Mélanie Laurent’s Anna is sweet & I enjoyed watching it develop but the focus of the movie and what really makes it worthwhile is the relationship between Oliver & his father, Christopher Plummer’s Hal. It’s an equalling heartwarming & heartbreaking film. There’s a shot of Hal smiling at Oliver after a nurse has put some mousse in Hal’s hair & this really summed up the feeling of the movie and how bittersweet life can be.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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The Impossible (2012)

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So much for light Tuesday afternoon movie-watching… 😉

This kind of movie isn’t normally my type of thing. Movies, for me, are a form of escapism from real life. Same as with books. I like fiction. Sci-fi, fantasy… Most any genre is fine. But I can’t really handle true stories based on such heartbreaking & disastrous events – especially recent ones I remember well. I have yet to watch any 9/11 movies (and I doubt I will). But The Impossible looked very good from the trailer and, to be completely honest, the showtimes for it were the only ones that worked out for me and I really needed a trip to the cinema!

This movie is exactly what you’d expect – heartbreaking scenes with just the right balance of heartwarming scenes as well to keep the general movie-going, popcorn-munching public happy. Great performances from everyone involved but especially the older boy (played by Tom Holland) and Naomi Watts. I went to it and saw the exact movie I was expecting to see. I don’t know if that actually makes a film a great film, though. I’ll admit I know nothing about the real true story of the real family involved other than that I know they’re Spanish. And, no, I’m not going to ask why they couldn’t be played by Spanish actors – there are enough people bitching about that online already so I’ll just leave it to them to discuss!

Conclusion: Yes, this is a good solid movie based on true events with some great & touching performances. Is it getting even better reviews than it deserves as it’s based on such a traumatic recent event? Yes, probably a little bit. I do recommend it if it’s your kind of thing as you’ll get exactly what you’ll be expecting.

My Rating: 7/10

I’m going to some braindead “popcorn” movie next time, though. 🙂