Friday, 29 January 2016

Dirty Grandpa (2016) - Movie Review

There is something inherently funny about watching older people do things associated with younger people… I think. At the very least, it’s humorous enough to warrant being the main subject matter for films, TV shows and YouTube clips. Hell, I looked at a film that centred on that same branch of comedy with Sisters. Of course, such a concept works better when it isn’t being inflicted on someone with a tremendous amount of respect to his name. Like, say, legendary actor Robert De Niro. While the man is still attached to some decent work thanks to his connection with David O. Russell, he has still had a serious low-point in his career of late. When you go from working with visionaries like Scorsese and Coppola to being in Little Fockers, you know you’re in trouble. So, time to take a look at the downward spiral of depressing screen appearances as we peer into what is already being called the worst film of the year… oh dear. This is Dirty Grandpa.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Trance (2013) - Movie Review

It’s time to continue to put further effort into these reviews than is really advisable as I look back into another director’s work who has a new release coming out soon. This time around, it’s Danny Boyle, a man is kind of frustratingly difficult to pin down in terms of an overall style. He has a very kitchen sink approach to his craft, something usually reserved for filmmakers on substantially tinier budgets: If it looks cool, use it! Not to say that he doesn’t come up with some amazing visual ideas for his films, like the absolute grime of Trainspotting, the video camera stock that almost looks like a TV news reel in 28 Days Later or even the hectic video game aesthetic adopted for certain scenes in The Beach. It’s just that the man just has so many ideas for how to present a story on film that it’s hard to pin down if he's a true original or just derivative; he’s like Ant from Atmosphere. Still, considering this is the same guy who gave us not only one of the best zombie films of all time but also easily one of the better Christian-oriented films with Millions, you’re usually gonna get quality work from the guy. Usually.

Monday, 25 January 2016

Carol (2016) - Movie Review

It’s Oscar season again, which means that it’s time to buy that new case of Burn Out Repellent that will no doubt be needed. However, unlike last year where we were awash with World War II-era films that I’m positive will pop up later on this year regardless, it seems that the consensus for the Academy has shifted. And no, this isn’t an easy set-up for the current racial issues being brought up about this year’s Oscars; as I have stated before, the Academy ultimately doesn’t matter, so whatever in-house drama is going down follows the same fashion. Instead, I’m talking about how, since the decision to legalise gay marriage nation-wide in the U.S., it seems that quite a few of the more prestige releases are shifting towards romances that aren’t in the cis norm. Between Freeheld from late last year, The Danish Girl from last week, and the generally warm reception that was made towards films like Tangerine and The Duke Of Burgundy, I think it’s an easy bet that this type of film is going to be the current flavour for a while longer. I can only hope that the rest of the crop will fare better than this, however.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

The Big Short (2016) - Movie Review

With the right approach and wording, it is technically possible to make a comedy about pretty much anything. As much as I’ve gone on about how there are some things that should always be treated seriously, even those rather taboo subjects can be made funny in the right hands. And then you have today’s film, a comedic drama about the global financial crisis, as directed by Will Ferrell’s right-hand man Adam McKay. Trust me, whatever initial ideas you may have about this kind of feature as made by the guy who made Anchorman, you’re on the wrong track. So, time to look into some Dennis Miller brand esoterica that, apparently, the Academy has gotten behind… yeah, I’ll let you know when that statement actually means something around here.

Friday, 22 January 2016

The Danish Girl (2016) - Movie Review

After looking at Tangerine last month, I think that my cinematic perspective on transgenderism has been forever altered as a result. It is also going to serve as an interesting contrast to how the more mainstream film scene treats similar subject matter. Now, since I don’t go too far out of my way when it comes to what films get watched/reviewed around here, I don’t want to take any hoity-toity position when it comes to more independent cinema. That said, I can’t help but feel like subject matter such as transgenderism is better suited for the indie scene; the amount of sensitivity required to make a portrayal of such things work shouldn’t be hindered by any kind of company oversight. Then again, if Any Day Now proved anything, it’s that the indies are just capable of screwing up as the Hollywood system, so this could really go either way.

Monday, 18 January 2016

The 5th Wave (2016) - Movie Review

If there’s one name that I have come to associate with sub-standard product, aside from our resident whipping boy Jai Courtney, it’s one all-time Hollywood hack by the name of Akiva Goldsman. Sure, he has a couple of winning films to his name like A Beautiful Mind and, depending on who you ask, I Am Legend, but as a whole, this man is responsible for a lot of shite as a screenwriter. Last year’s Insurgent, Winter’s Tale the year before, The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons, and let’s not forget the crowning jewel of bad comic book movies Batman & Robin; that’s a hefty platter for a single chef. With all this in mind, I look at today’s most recent YA adaptation with extreme scepticism; only this time, there’s more than definite reason for me to be so. But, given how lenient I’ve been with The Maze Runner and how much praise I’ve given to The Hunger Games, and knowing how it doesn’t get much worse than Divergent, I’m still willing to give this a chance. I’m holding out an idiot’s hope, aren’t I?

Sunday, 17 January 2016

The Hateful Eight (2016) - Movie Review

No other singular person in the world of cinema has given more credence to the importance of the screenwriter than Quentin Tarantino. He’s basically an alternate reality version of Randal from Clerks who decided that, rather than bitching about how shit movies are nowadays, actually did something about it and began making his own. After starting off his career with a loud bang with the festival success of Reservoir Dogs, he continued to carve a name for himself with his unique approach to character writing and his homage-heavy fan-boy sensibilities as a story-teller. Unless we’re talking about the film-about-nothing Death Proof or the comedic abomination that is It’s Pat, you’d be hard-pressed to find a film in his filmography that is abjectly bad. So, naturally, when news hit about his latest release, weather reports also came in of a tidal wave of fan-boy drool that threatened to destroy the world. Then there was news of Tarantino taking the film on a roadshow screening tour of Australia, in crisp 70MM film stock. Would probably lose my buff card if I didn’t attend something like that, so bear in mind that everything that follows may differ from the traditional theatrical release as the version I watched was an extended cut. This is The Hateful Eight.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Goosebumps (2016) - Movie Review

You want to talk nostalgic children’s horror franchises, you can’t get far without encountering something relating to Goosebumps. The house that R.L. Stine built, this over 20-year-old series was responsible for introducing whole generations of kids to the things that go bump in the night, either through the original novellas or the TV series. Well, not to go all Troy Steele here, and I certainly don’t wish to ape that asshole in any way, but I think the world has superglued its nostalgia goggles to its face when it comes to this series. When news first hit that this film was being made, with these people attached to it, people were already screaming “cop out”, “cash grab” and “BE-TRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYAL!”. Yeah, god forbid someone ruin the sanctity of stories where prune cookies turn people into senior citizens or the psychotic mayor of a model town that taunts a captive kid with a phantom baseball game.

Don’t get me wrong, I love these stories for their own reasons and I’ll even admit that both the books and the TV show could get legitimately scary at times like with The Haunted Mask and even My Best Friend Is Invisible; hell, the latter was what first convinced me to start up the now-dead Grey Vault review series because it still creeped me out so much. I just don’t think it should be held as this impenetrable bastion of quality in terms of family-friendly entertainment; this isn’t Avatar: The Last Airbender we’re talking about here. So, with all that in mind, let’s take a look at the film several years in the making. Readers beware, you’re in for a scare.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Sisters (2016) - Movie Review

It seems that today’s subject is going to be the first in what I hope is a short-lived trend of older actors doing teenaged things for the year, what with Dirty Grandpa coming to screens in a little while. I’ve gone at length how much I really don’t like the school of comedy that says just being offensive or violent or awkward doesn’t automatically make a film funny; well, the same applies for mid-life crises. Probably the only time I’ve seen a piece of media make adults acting like teens funny was during an episode of Buffy; that was over fifteen years ago. As a result, despite my affinity for Tina Fey, even that appreciation wasn’t enough to make this film look good going by the trailer. Bear in mind that I was willing to give the weaksauce This Is Where I Leave You a chance because of Fey’s involvement; that’s how bad this looks from the off-set. Well, given only one way to find out if my pessimism once again pays off. This is Sisters.

Sunday, 10 January 2016

The Revenant (2016) - Movie Review

After how much I dug Birdman last year, I was definitely looking forward to seeing more work from director Alejandro González Iñárritu. So, in prep for this release, I checked out his other filmography… and noticed something disconcerting. While I undoubtedly consider Birdman to be the best film he’s done to date, it’s also the most unlike everything else he’s made so far. Iñárritu’s usual method of story-telling is with numerous interweaving character arcs, some of them seemingly completely disconnected from each other, to convey a specific theme. Birdman, by contrast, is so linear that it is shot and edited to look like a single continuous take (for the most part) and focuses mainly on a single character. It’s kind of like claiming to be a fan of Darren Aronofsky, but saying your favourite film of his is The Wrestler; it isn’t exactly the best representation of the man’s work as a whole. With this new information, I began to anticipate today’s release more shakily than I was expecting to. However, indicative of standard oeuvre or not, I will give this film the benefit of the doubt regardless; I’m not going to just badmouth a Leo DiCaprio film purely based on principle.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Point Break (2016) - Movie Review


What is it about crime flicks that make them probably the most widely referenced and quoted of any genre? Even if you’ve never seen a Lethal Weapon film, chances are you’ve heard someone say “I’m getting too old for this shit” at least once in your life. Among the more widely influential would be 1991’s Point Break, which established a blueprint that would be followed by every film involving a cop/agent going undercover and making a connection with their target. Sure, it hasn’t aged well as a result of how much it’s been copied, not to mention its 90’s surfer musings about finding that rush, but it’s still a decent film in its own right. Can’t go wrong with Keanu Reeves giving one of his better performances and Patrick Swayze as the equally charismatic and recklessly thrill-seeking antagonist. So, naturally, it was going to get a remake at some point, and apparently no-one wanted to compete with it because this was the only film to be released come New Year’s Day. Or maybe it was because they didn’t want the shame of having to be connected to it in any way, even if just by the release date. Even though the real answer should be pretty damn obvious, let’s take a look just to be sure: This is Point Break.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Top 20 Best Films Of 2015

Well, after spending the last few posts wallowing in my own misery, time to shake off that bad mojo for good as I look at the Top 20 best films that I had the pleasure to see last year. While, in comparison, it wasn’t as good as 2014 as a whole, it still produced some truly amazing works of cinema that deserve to be watched and re-watched. I know that I mentioned a disdain for honourable mentions before, but then again, I’ve used honourable mentions myself in last year’s lists so hypocrisy shouldn’t be anything new. That said, I still want to give a special shout-out to Hitman: Agent 47, the Best Worst Film of the year. This is the film that was just so awful that it actually reached entertainment from the other end, thanks to its terrible acting, writing and special effects. Now for the official, legitimately good picks of the litter.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Top 20 Worst Films Of 2015

Time to air out the last of the dirty laundry as I delve into the Top 20 worst features I had to sit through last year. Why Top 20? Because how many Top 10 film lists have you seen with 10 'honourable mentions'? Might as well cut out the middle man if I’m going to do that. Just like last year, this list is comprised solely of theatrical releases: If it was released during the year through DVD, NetFlix or elsewhere on the Web, it doesn’t get counted. This is just reserved for the celluloid trash that the studios, in their infinite wisdom, decided was worthy of getting a proper release. These are my picks for the 20 worst films of 2015.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Top 11 Critical Disagreements Of 2015

As we welcome in the New Year, it’s time for what I am now deciding is an annual tradition around these parts: Lists! To kick off this set of lists, we’re going to take a look at just how much of a special friggin’ snowflake I am and see the top 11 films that I didn’t see eye-to-eye with most critics on from 2015. I didn’t really think that I’d end up with enough to create another list after last time, but turns out that I was wrong.

Once again, same rules from last year apply: I am not going to include any films that have divided critics already; I’m just sticking with those that have a strong leaning one way or the other. Also, so that I don’t end up repeating myself, I’m also going to refrain from including any films that will end up in either my Best or Worst of the year. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get stuck into my Top 11 Critical Disagreements of 2015.