Thursday 31 December 2015

Holding The Man (2015) - Movie Review
On June 26th of this year, a legal decision shook the majority of the Western world when it was decided that same-sex marriage would be made legally recognized for the entirety of the United States. In the ensuing months, the debate for similar legislation here in Australia has constantly being brought up and shot back down again with equal vigour. It would eventually reach the point where, even without having officially solved anything, the matter would fall away from the public eye like so many other “important” issues of the past. Given how much of an impact this had on how the rest of the year would shape up, I would be remiss if I didn’t bring up as we come to a close on what was a particularly interesting and eventful year. As such, we come to the last film in my list of releases that slipped by me the first time through. This is Holding The Man.

The Good Dinosaur (2015) - Movie Review

http://redribbonreviewers.wordpress.comSince we’re at the point where Disney has such a monopoly on the world’s entertainment, making a statement like “They’re having a good year” would be rather redundant. It’d be like saying General Electric has made a profit; it sets off ‘no shit’ alarms pretty quickly. That said, even for a company as prolific as Disney, this has been an amazing year for them: The continuing success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Inside Out, the latest iteration of Cinderella and let’s not forget the hype singularity that is The Force Awakens. And even outside of their commercial write-ups, their average for quality has been far better than previous years; hell, my top two films of the year are both Disney properties. So, considering all that, I can think of no better way to close out the year than with a look at another release from the House of the Mouse. So, for the first part of the finale of my insane month of reviews, let’s take a look at Pixar’s second release for the year: This is The Good Dinosaur.

Wednesday 30 December 2015

Insidious: Chapter 3 (2015) - Movie Review
Flash-forward two years after our last review. James Wan is becoming a force to reckoned with in Hollywood thanks to Fast & Furious 7 and writer Leigh Whannell is gaining some speed on his own thanks to his work on Cooties and The Mule. A new instalment of the Insidious series is in the works with Whannell set to return as writer and in his supporting role. However, he is now also going to be directing, with this being his debut. With several returning faces from previous instalments, and new cinematographer (Brian Pearson) and editor (Timothy Alverson) being brought on board, Whannell might just have the tools he needs to pull this off. Given how the last cinematographer would go on to try and demolish the Conjuring legacy with Annabelle, replacing him means that we're already off to a good start Only one way to find out.

Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013) - Movie Review
When Saw first came out to phenomenal box office returns, people soon became familiar with director James Wan’s supposed ‘torture porn’ style. After taking a producing role for the rest of the series, and his subsequent releases Dead Silence and Death Sentence barely received any critical attention (let alone positive attention), it seemed like he was going to stuck with that label for the rest of his professional career, if it would even survive beyond all that. Then came Insidious in 2009, and audiences took note. Rather than the industrial grime and twisted morals that have been attached to him thanks to the original Saw, Insidious blasted its way into cinemas and showed off Wan’s true style: Old-school horror thrills reminiscent of the haunted house flicks of the 70’s and 80’s. After that film set a far better preconception for the man, he would go on to even greater success with The Conjuring and even show his proficiency in genres outside of horror. However, same year that Conjuring was released, he went back to that staple that gave him the credit he desperately deserved… and critics weren’t all that into it. Time to dive in and see if it really deserves the flack it got.

Tuesday 29 December 2015

Monday 28 December 2015

Suffragette (2015) - Movie Review

The Ridiculous Six (2015) - Movie Review

http://redribbonreviewers.wordpress.comI hate Rotten Tomatoes. Despite how it’s widely considered to be a good barometer for how good/bad a film is, it’s surprisingly broken if you actually look at the scores. Some of the reviews that are listed as Fresh or Rotten, if you actually look at even the blurbs on the site itself, are extremely arbitrary, the actual overall score is tucked away underneath the big percentage rate, and said percentage only amounts to how many people liked a film vs. disliked a film. Not how much, just whichever way their opinion falls. For a site that’s meant to help show an overall opinion, being misleading is probably the worst thing you can do. However, with that said, they are especially good in one certain area: The 0%; the films that absolutely no-one defended. Given how this illustrious list includes films like C Me Dance, Fred: The Movie, A Thousand Words and Keith Lemon: The Film, easily some of the worst films I’ve ever seen, that integer still carries a lot of weight. So, what does that say when today’s subject is only one of the three released by Happy Madison Productions to have received a 0%? I mean, that’s means that this is even worse than The Master Of Disguise, That’s My Boy and Paul Blart: Mall Cop, among so many others? Is this truly that bad? Time to, reluctantly, find out.

Sunday 27 December 2015

Daddy's Home (2015) - Movie Review

The Death Of "Superman Lives": What Happened? (2015) - Movie Review
Every year, thousands of films go into production all over the world. Some get global releases, others are more local, some go straight-to-DVD, others to online outlets, and some just don’t get released at all or, at the very least, get delayed countless times from being released. But then there are times when, for one reason or another, production just stops dead. All that work done by the numerous cast and crew members to realizing an artistic vision, all those man hours that goes into the concepts and attempts to actualize them, all that potential for could very well be a masterpiece; just gone to pot. There are a lot of stories like this, particularly in the realm of superhero movies: The third Joel Schumacher-helmed Batman film with Courtney Love as Harley Quinn; the Green Lantern film starring Jack Black in the lead role; all those Spider-Man spin-offs and sequels Sony had planned before Amazing Spider-Man 2 turned off the entire world. However, far more than any other, there is one story that has captured the minds of a lot of film and comic book geeks: A collaboration between the poster child for modern-day Goths, the biggest comic geek-turned-filmmaker and an actor known for his legendary scenery-chewing.

Saturday 26 December 2015

Joy (2015) - Movie Review

David O. Russell might be one of the most emotionally intuitive filmmakers working today, if not ever. Every film he’s been attached to explores some inner working of the human psyche to (usually) great effect: Sex (Spanking The Monkey), personal identity (Flirting With Disaster), greed (Three Kings), comfort through the metaphysical (I Heart Huckabees), pride (The Fighter), depression (Silver Linings Playbook), deception (American Hustle) and… okay, I haven’t quite figured out where Accidental Love fits into this overall picture.
Nevertheless, the man is a phenomenally good writer and director, especially in recent years. After the largely confusing mess of Huckabees, which people seemed to love or hate for the same reason (that it made no sense), O. Russell went through a definite change in his tactics. His slapstick style of direction became more introspective, resulting in a trio of films that were not only good but were legitimately some of the best films of their respective years, if not the entire decade. So, given how much I clearly adore the man’s work, I look forward to today’s subject hoping that Accidental Love wasn’t some kind of ill omen. Even for filmmakers I like, I can’t help being cynical.

X+Y (A Brilliant Young Mind) (2015) - Movie Review

When a person is discovered to have what is considered above-average intelligence, there is a certain expectation that they will fulfill their potential. Now, to a degree, this is understandable: Knowing how many truly stupid people exist in the world, it really would be a shame if someone with genuine intellect would just let it go to waste. But then, there’s the side effects that that kind of expectation can have on the person in question. I remember my last day of Year 10 excruciatingly well, as probably one of the best and one of the worst of my entire school career. Somehow, and I still don’t know how, I managed to top the class in my English School Certificate. The next year, I was “heavily advised” to go into the Advanced class, despite my best wishes. This would end up culminating in my HSC two years later, which officially broke me because not only was it clearly beyond my abilities, but that I was expected to pass it by my teachers. Sure, hindsight is a miracle worker and let me understand that all that work really doesn’t mean jack shit later on in life, but in a vacuum it is a horrific experience. Keep that idea of the supposed responsibility to one’s own intelligence as we get into today’s subject.

Friday 25 December 2015

Nightmare On Elmo's Street (2015) - Movie Review

What is it about puppets that fascinates us so much? I mean, the outreach of Jim Henson’s Creature Workshop is staggering, between the Muppets, Sesame Street and their other miscellaneous works. Maybe it’s as an extension of our reaction to ventriloquist dummies and how a decent performer can convince an audience that the object made of felt with a hand shoved up its rear, or maybe it’s because we are willing to accept some aspects of the Uncanny Valley which some of the better puppets can reach; either way, it has served as a source of comedy for a long time now. Of course, being the age that we live in, they have also been used to further the tradition of taking all that is child-friendly and twisting them until the heads of their souls drop off. Whether it’s the transgressive humour of Meet The Feebles, the bitingly relatable musical Avenue Q or the numerous YouTube accounts that have made use of how relatively cheap it can be to make puppets, the more adult audiences have been able to enjoy this phena-mahna (da-doo-da-doodoo) as well. Time for our first dive into the realm of all things fuzzy on this blog, as we take another look at the filmography of Bill Zebub and, at least in my case, hope for something a bit better than last time.

Escobar: Paradise Lost (2015) - Movie Review

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, which around here is going to involve keeping a promise I made about a year ago. Back when I reviewed Mockingjay Part 1, I brought today’s film and how I wanted to check it out based on the strength of Josh Hutcherson’s performance. Well, as I inch closer to the end of my December double feature fest, I figure now is as good a time as any to give it a try. This is Escobar: Paradise Lost.

Thursday 24 December 2015

Loving A Vegetable (2015) - Movie Review
No-one will ever be able to predict how much I’ve wanted to talk about the director of today’s film on this blog, because this is truly one of those oddities that you can only stumble across by sheer accident: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the world of Bill Zebub. For this one, I once again have friend of the blog Diamanda Hagan to thank, as she reviewed not one but three of the man’s films: Forgive Me For Raping You, Zombiechrist and Dolla Morte, the last review of which looked so insane that I just had to find out for myself and wound up purchasing the film on DVD.

Cut to a few months ago, and my mother texting me if I had heard about the film ‘Antfarm Dickhole’, no doubt the most infamous of his filmography. I then ran straight into her room, clutching my copy of Dolla Morte and proceeded to educate her a bit more on the subject. After trying (and failing) to convince her to watch it with me, I went to the mighty Google and found out that he had two new films out this year. As if I needed a better excuse to check out more from Zebub. Let’s get started with today’s subject: This is Loving A Vegetable… which, in terms of film names, is about as innocuous as Lucio Fulci’s Don’t Torture A Duckling. I can only hope that it doesn’t involve mating with produce.

Dilwale (2015) - Movie Review
I’m kind of surprised and, honestly, kind of disappointed that it’s taken me this long into the year to talk about another Bollywood movie. Given how we had not one but three arrive at my local last year, I honestly thought that we’d get more coming in this year. However, probably as a result of the release drought in response to no-one wanting to directly to compete with Star Wars, as well as the mass releases on Christmas Day, this is one of the few new releases that have come in in the last few weeks. Well, even given my admittedly limited exposure to Indian cinema, I reckon I’ve taken a look at a semi-decent sample: There was Kick, which started out shaky but ended up pretty good, there was Happy New Year, which was alright but a bit forgettable, and then there was PK, which was legitimately surprising in the best way possible. Time to see how today’s film measures up to the minor experience I’ve had previously.

Wednesday 23 December 2015

Slow West (2015) - Movie Review
The Western has probably some of the strangest stylistic and artistically inbred origins of any narrative genre. Its genesis lies in the classic samurai flicks of Akira Kurosawa like Seven Samurai and Yojimbo. These would in turn go on to get what are essentially American remakes with The Magnificent Seven and the Three Dollars trilogy that gave Clint Eastwood his most iconic role. Then Japan took inspiration from the sand-scorched cinema of the Man With No Name to create seminal anime works like Cowboy Bebop and Trigun. Then stylistic film nerd Quentin Tarantino took bits and pieces from those series, among many other sources, to help create the Western samurai Kill Bill movies. It’s like a game of tennis where successful volleys result in cinematic gold and not just watching a ball go back and forth for hours without respite. As a result, the breadth of places where people decide to make Westerns is hardly surprising; hell, I looked at a French existential Western earlier this year. So, as I look at today’s film filmed in New Zealand by a Scottish filmmaker, I can safely say that there are more geographically disconnected iterations out there.

Clouds Of Sils Maria (2015) - Movie Review
Back when I reviewed Still Alice, I found myself unable to remove the mental association about SWIMNOT’s involvement in the Twilight films. Looking back on it, I definitely ended up doing her a disservice and treated her largely as a punchline. Given her work as Bella Swan, that is probably to be expected to a certain degree as that is definitely the kind of film series that is custom-made to damage careers. However, after seeing her outright impressive turn in American Ultra, I think we’ve reached the point where she has earned her place as a legitimate actor. So, as we take another look into this indie Cinderella story, and if that sounds trite forgive me for picking the most appropriate phrase possible, I’m putting an official embargo on Twilight jokes.

Tuesday 22 December 2015

Far From The Madding Crowd (2015) - Movie Review

There’s a recurring trend among filmmakers with lower-than-low-budget beginnings that, once they start being given reasonable wallets to work with, they probably make the best use of it of all their peers. Think Peter Jackson's Braindead beginnings, and then look at how he handled Tolkien. Enter Thomas Vinterberg, probably best remembered for his contributions to the Dutch filmmaking movement Dogme 95, who does a masterful job at staging every single scene in this film.

The Guest (2015) - Movie Review

Monday 21 December 2015

War Room (2015) - Movie Review
It is seriously kind of confounding just how low the quality standards for Christian films are. Of all the sub-genres out there, I wouldn’t have guessed that this would be one of the weakest had I not seen a fair share of them for myself. Is it because of an innate need to endorse anything that shows support for your religion, or is it as a result of just accepting to take what little entertainment you can get out of defeat? Given what I’ve seen of the Australian and American critical circles respectively, and a few choices blogs I’ve stumbled upon, I could easily believe either one of them. I mean, outside of films directly involving Jesus, the only really good Christian film I’ve seen was Danny Boyle’s Millions; that’s a bad sign when the guy behind Trainspotting is leading the pack in terms of good religiously moral cinema. As much as my reviews for God’s Not Dead and Left Behind may argue, I don’t actively want to hate Christian films. Hell, I can easily say that I have had what could arguably be called religious experiences while watching films; I’d give anything to feel that again in the appropriate context. Until the collective decides to pick up their game, it’s up to masochists like me to hold them to task.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) - Movie Review

http://redribbonreviewers.wordpress.comOf any film that I’ve seen this year, along with the few that are still scheduled for the rest of the month, this is easily the one I was looking forward to the least. Partly because, all year, this film has been built up like a cinematic Second Coming and the advertising for it has been beyond obnoxious, both officially and through word-of-mouth. But also partly because I fall right in the middle in terms of my opinion on the Star Wars films.

I don’t love the original films: They’re still (mostly) good and Empire has definitely earned its place in sci-fi canon, but I don’t see them being quite as good as the rest of the world does. However, I also don’t hate the prequels: They definitely have their issues but, in terms of action and even some of the more dramatic moments, these all have their good points that have been widely ignored by history. Hell, as much hate that has been thrown at Jar-Jar Binks over the years, I still maintain that C-3PO is far more irritating and, as a racial stereotype, he pales in comparison to the wise old sage with squinty eyes that speaks in broken English that the world seems to kindly disregard. With all this in mind, I’m not exactly the best person to be seeing this movie; if I wasn’t obligated to watch everything that shows at my local, I probably would have just ignored this entirely. However, since I wouldn’t be doing my job with looking at easily the biggest release of the year, here I am.

Sunday 20 December 2015

Snoopy And Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie (2015) - Movie Review
Is there a single character in the entirety of fiction that better represents childhood depression more than Charlie Brown? Seriously, he’s the on-again-off-again punching bag of all his peers, he is the product of a society where the children act far more like adults than the actual adults do and, for whatever reason, life as a whole seems to take great pleasure in taking a massive dump on his day for its own amusement. That skit from Family Guy where Charlie ends up as a thuggish stoner might be an optimistic expectation, all things considered. Still, even with all that baggage, he and the rest of the Peanuts canon are yet another staple of pop culture. Most of it came out before I was even born and, without seeing any of it for myself, elements of it are just that pervasive that they have always stuck with me: Charlie’s aforementioned emotional scars, the football gag, “You blockhead!”, Patty and Marcie’s ‘relationship’, the cripplingly sad songs that would show up in the TV specials and movies, “No dogs allowed!”; the list goes on. So, even though I am going into this with little to no prior experience with the series, it would be nearly impossible to go into this film completely blind.

Mr. Holmes (2015) - Movie Review
Time to look at another legendary British character that, for one reason or another, has taken a stronghold in the cultural mindset. Sure, he may not be as influential as the tuxedoed ladykiller 007, but put on a deerstalker, a pipe and say the word “elementary” and you’ll doubtless find someone who will immediately point to the Baker Street resident Sherlock Holmes. However, instead of all of the elements attached to a character like James Bond, Holmes only has a few specific calling cards to his name: His connection to his dear Watson (god, Tumblr has given that phrase a whole meaning since Moffatt took over), the Baker Street Irregulars that serve as his eyes and ears and, of course, his coldly analytical approach that has given him a reputation for being one of the more intelligent fictional minds. Well, time to see if he is still just as entertaining when that same brilliant mind has been dulled by the effects of ageing.

Saturday 19 December 2015

Mommy (2015) - Movie Review
Everyone, to some degree, has a mental disorder that either has been dialed down and given a populace-friendly acronym or is undiagnosed but still more common than the person in question may realise. I myself have been handed a series of diagnoses over my lifetime, and may still have some waiting in the wings, but it’s not exactly something I treat that seriously. My thoughts about the debates going on about people on the autistic spectrum (which encompasses a metric crap-ton of labels) is along the same lines as my attitude to the ongoing LGBTQ debates: Admitting to such things isn’t automatically brave. It is rather unnerving that we live in a society where openly saying that you are one thing or another is something to be commended for, rather than just being a mundane part of the human experience. I come from a family that is very pro-autism awareness since my own diagnosis, and even though I applaud their enthusiasm on the subject, there’s only so many articles being shared on Facebook about who is and who isn’t an Aspie that I can take. Then films like this come along and remind me that, as much as I like to think otherwise, some people still need serious education on the subject.