Tuesday 31 March 2015

Focus (2015) - Movie Review

If I was asked a few short years ago what I thought of Will Smith, I would have said that he is one of the coolest and most charismatic actors in Hollywood. Nowadays, I’m more likely to say that he was cool and charismatic but After Earth ruined him for me. Yeah, I’m willing to stick up for him for lesser works like Hancock, I, Robot and even I Am Legend, but his usual smooth delivery being reduced to a complete drone thanks to M. Night Shyamalan kind of spoiled the fun for me as well as cementing Shyamalan officially as one of the worst directors in my book. Sure, my opinion of Smith picked back up slightly after his surprisingly nice turn in Winter’s Tale but… well, quite frankly, he was the only good thing about that turd of a movie. Then the trailers for this film hit and there was a spark of that old Will Smith on the screen; colour me excited to say the least. But will this be the great redeemer or just another let-down?

Sunday 29 March 2015

Backstreet Boys: Show 'Em What You're Made Of (2015) - Movie Review

Given the rather ill-fated step that this entire blog started on, boy bands now have an added bizarre undercurrent on top of my already rather vocal disdain for them: I may hate them in general, but they are at least partially responsible for me taking my obsessive cinematic habits and turning them into something mildly useful. So, when news reached me that a documentary was coming out based on one of the biggest boy bands of all time, the Backstreet Boys, I felt some weird form of obligation to check it out beyond my compulsions. But, with my mother in tow to provide cultural context when needed as she grew up around the phenomenon, was it worth seeing? Like, at all?

Saturday 28 March 2015

Run All Night (2015) - Movie Review

Even though I have been carrying on with this compulsive list-of-every-movie-I-see-each-year gig since 2012, I’ve only been taking it… seriously(?) for a few months now with this review blog. The short time I have been doing this makes me think that, quite frankly, Liam Neeson needs to slow the hell down because I have covered three of his films in that time. That, combined with the numerous films he has been in since Taken hit it big, makes me really regret feeling burn-out over the Oscar season pics because I am really starting to grow bored of Neeson’s brand of action fodder. Not to say that he’s bad or anything, as he’s more than capable of playing the hero in these films, but he doesn’t really bring anything special to the mix with his presence. Put him next to someone like Jason Statham, who has not one but two films coming out very soon, and that lack of an USP becomes even more blatant.  So, best we can hope for is that the production around him is solid enough… but do we get that this time around? Time for Neeson no. 4: This is Run All Night.

Friday 27 March 2015

Manny Lewis (2015) - Movie Review

In a weird companion piece to my review of Top Five, I find myself looking at another film starring and written by a stand-up comedian, only this time we’re stepping into my home turf with my favourite stand-up of all time: Carl Barron. The man’s laconic and laid-back style to observational humour perfectly encapsulates the Australian sense of humour that would notice an erupting volcano and just go “Bit fuckin’ hot out here.” It is said that the best comedians can make reading the phone book funny, and while Carl hasn’t quite gotten to that point yet, he did at one point make me laugh simply by counting how many people in the audience were laughing. That’s the kind of delivery the man has got. So, when I heard that he was going to be in a feature film, I pretty much just tore up the preconceptions I walked into Top Five with and got ultra-hyped for this thing, ignoring the usual fare of comedians’ first time in films and the fact that it was co-produced by Channel Seven, whom also did the pretty damn awful The Water Diviner. Let’s take a look.

Tuesday 24 March 2015

Big Eyes (2015) - Movie Review

It’s fan-boy time again, this time looking at the newest film from Tim Burton, one of my favourite directors. Of course, openly admitting to such things isn’t exactly the safest of prospects considering his more recent output like Alice In Wonderland and Dark Shadows, some of his older work like Charlie And The Chocolate Factory and Sleepy Hollow or even just the fact that his style is just that recognisable that, quite frankly, an awful lot of people are getting sick of seeing it, especially given how influential it has become. But I couldn’t give a monkey’s about any of that: I grew up watching his films from Beetlejuice to Sweeney Todd, I’ve always dug his garish yet Gothic style and I genuinely think that his cinematic sensibilities helped make me the person I am today… although, to be fair, that might just give readers another reason to hate him for all I know. Not to say that all of his films follow his usual aesthetic, as today’s film will no doubt attest ; this is the first Burton film I can remember seeing that wasn’t playing at a mainstream cinema and after seeing it, I kind of get why.

Saturday 21 March 2015

Top Five (2015) - Movie Review

As a means to prove that comedy isn’t exactly equal across all fields, not every comedian that branches out into becoming an actor succeeds. I mean, for every Robin Williams who manages to not only succeed but succeed beyond the realm of comedic works, we get a Larry The Cable Guy who manages to make people miss their already lame stand-up with the cesspool-quality acting they bring to the big screen. Not to say that the best stand-up comedians are immune from making crap; as much as I love Robin Williams’ great films, he made his fair share of bombs back in the day. So, when news hit that Chris Rock, someone who fits nicely in my top five favourite stand-ups and who has a pretty shaky filmography himself, was releasing another film that he directed and also wrote on his own, I can be forgiven for being a bit worried. Time to see how it actually turned out.

Friday 20 March 2015

Seventh Son (2015) - Movie Review

With Hollywood currently ingrained in third-wave YA adaptation territory with the upcoming finale to the Hunger Games series later on this year and the recently released thing-I-look-forward-to-like-an-axe-to-the-genitals Insurgent, it’s kind of refreshing to a good old fashioned first-wave fantasy film. Sure, it’s another retread of the Hero’s Journey that most scriptwriters can literally write in their sleep, but any variety is better than no variety. Of course, last time “Young Adult Adaptation” and “Jeff Bridges” shared space with each other, we got the severe let-down The Giver, so I can’t exactly say that I’m looking forward to this all that much. However, the combo of Bridges and Julianne Moore will attract me to pretty much anything at this rate, so let’s get into this.

Thursday 19 March 2015

Far From Men (2015) - Movie Review

In the world of film criticism, or at least how I perceive it, there are very few things that scream pretension as loudly to me as the phrase "French Film Festival". Sure, it may just be the still-lingering stereotype of what film snobs prefer to watch that I find myself clinging to, but there’s also the fact that I have little to no patience for pretence as my hatred for Terrence Malick and the Annie remake will show. However, there are always exceptions to arbitrarily written rules and I found myself going to a film that was screening for a French Film Festival in my area (Incidently, in the same cinema where I’ve gone to five interactive screenings of The Room). This is because I saw that Nick Cave did the soundtrack for it alongside Bad Seeds bandmate Warren Ellis. So, out of love for not only the man’s music but also 20,000 Days On Earth, I decided to give it a go.

Tuesday 17 March 2015

Unfinished Business (2015) - Movie Review

I’ve seen my fair share of vacant cinemas before; back when I first started this compulsion, and had a lot more time on my hands, I’d be watching films whenever I could… even when other people weren’t. This would usually mean that I’d get maybe a couple of others in the cinema with me on occasion. This time, however, was a first: I was literally the only person in that theatre. Now, normally this would be ideal, because it means that if the film is particularly rancid than I could just do my own RiffTrax to keep my sanity in check… what little of it there is left. Unfortunately, this tactic doesn’t work so well when you’re going to see a comedy, the only steadfastly riff-proof genre out there (not even World War II documentaries fall into this category). Take this into consideration along with the fact that today’s film is starring the still-present Vince Vaughn for reasons that entirely escape me, and the bar for this is already set pretty low. Time to see if this can spring past it or somehow dig itself even deeper.

Sunday 15 March 2015

Project Almanac (2015) - Movie Review

I try and make an effort when it comes to not letting production companies’ involvement with a movie deter me from seeing it. This is a big exception, though, as we have a triumvirate of worrisome entries here: Insurge Pictures and MTV Films’ only features of note together in recent years are two pop star documentaries, and Platinum Dunes is the place where horror remakes go to die a slow and ugly death, while dragging stillborn original concepts down with them. When you include this with the fact that this is yet another entry in the now-largely-boring found footage genre, it starts to look something that belongs in the ‘must-avoid’ pile. But, given how much Michael Bay has managed to seriously surprise me in the last couple of years, I am willing to at least give this a try. That and I am kind of a sucker for time travel.

Saturday 14 March 2015

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2015) - Movie Review

Well, after our last cinematic outing, something so dull that I just had to post a review for another movie mere minutes after out of shame, to say that I was not looking forward to this is a major understatement. I’m cautious of any film’s sequel, which given the current cinematic climate means that I’m cautious about pretty much every film released these days, because of Rule of Sequels #19: The follow-up(s) is almost never as good. Sure, there are some films that break this rule like Toy Story 3, The Dark Knight, or even some that I’ve discussed before like How To Train Your Dragon 2 and the entire Hunger Games series so far. However, these don’t come around every day and these are usually a result of the original being a good movie in the first place. No such luck here, although I guess that means that there’s no chance of disappointment with this one. Yay? Anyway, this is The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel… is it just me or is it called that so that the filmmakers can admit that they know full well that this isn’t going to be as good as the first?

Sunday 8 March 2015

Jupiter Ascending (2015) - Movie Review

As a child of the Internet, I have a tendency to get on the fan-boy defensive when it comes to what I enjoy and as my film-watching has evolved over time, I have started doing the same with some of my favourite filmmakers (albeit, slightly tempered compared to how it used to be). One of the more peculiar examples of this with me is the Wachowskis, a creative duo that hold a very dear place with me mostly because of the Matrix, a franchise that contains some of my earliest experiences with films, anime and video gaming. Don’t get me wrong, I still think that Matrix Revolutions is a confusing and jumbled mess but the first two films and The Animatrix are on very good standings with me. Not only that, their 2013 effort Cloud Atlas is one of the best films I’ve seen in the last 4-5 years. You’d be right in assuming I had rather lofty expectations of this film considering all that, but did they pay off?

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2012) - Movie Review

With how many films I see every month, it’s inevitable that I’ll come across films where I am not the intended demographic for various reasons. Whether it’s films aimed at very young audiences like Maya The Bee Movie or Tinker Bell And The Pirate Fairy, or films aimed primarily at the opposite gender like 50 Shades Of Grey or The Best Of Me, although I would argue that both of the latter aren't aimed at anyone except for inmates on death row just so the electric chair will feel like a pleasant reprieve. This film, and its currently-released sequel, was once aptly described to me as being for the elderly what Kingsman is for my generation; add to that that this is billed as a feel-good film, and I find myself just as hesitant to watch it as I was three years ago when it first came out. Nevertheless, I pride myself on doing the necessary research when it’s required, and this definitely applies, so before I get to the sequel I’m going to take a look at the first film.

Saturday 7 March 2015

Rosewater (2015) - Movie Review

As Australia’s Oscar season inches closer to its end, I find myself a lot more pleased at the prospect than I should be. While the offerings over the past two months have been of relatively consistent quality, I am getting a mild case of burnout from seeing so many overly serious dramatic works in such a short time span; even if all of these films haven’t been nominated for awards, they are starting to run together regardless. Because of this, I get the feeling that the main reason why I have been so favourable to films like Kingsman: The Secret Service and Wyrmwood: Road Of The Dead is because they stand out so much against everything else on offer. However, something tells me that I should be a lot more grateful for the higher quality that’s out right now, especially considering how many films are coming up this year that I am seriously dreading going out to see like Get Hard, The Longest Ride and Insurgent. Nevertheless, here I am with yet another drama to look at.

Friday 6 March 2015

Citizenfour (2015) - Movie Review

Given my relative infancy when it comes to talking films, I find myself once again stepping into new territory with today’s review. As a rule, I don’t usually actively go after documentaries unless they stand out in some special way. And when I say "special", I mean the kind of special that results in the literal one-joke film The Aristocrats or the rather bluntly-titled Fuck. Then again, considering how my favourite film of last year turned out to be a documentary, I have since grown a bit warmer to the idea. So, with the announcement that this film won the Oscar for Best Documentary hitting literally minutes before seeing it for myself, this has a certain amount of hype to it. Or at least it would, if the Oscars had any kind of significance, but that’s neither here nor there. Time to crack into today’s film already.