Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Lion (2017) - Movie Review

If your average community theatre productions have told us anything, it’s that dramatic acting isn’t nearly as easy as it appears on the surface. Sure, we end up doing quite a bit of pretending in real life for various reasons, but doing so for a purpose that isn’t trying to alleviate real-life social situations can prove rather difficult. In the realms of the acting craft, I believe no singular gambit better emphasises the difficulties within that craft than the prospect of accents. Much like acting as a whole, feigning an accent that isn’t your own seems easy enough but, as someone who has had to hear mocking Aussie “G’Day, mate!” imitations, I know more than I should that accents are difficult to make believable. Making a joke out of how people talk is one thing, but making them believe that that is actually how you speak is something else entirely.

Why do I bring this up? Well, of all the reasons I have so far shown for being excited for certain releases, from the people attached to them to the subject matter to one or two convincing trailers attached to them, this might be the first time that efficacy with accents has been my defining reason for wanting to see a film. Let’s find our way into this thing and I’ll explain why.

Monday, 30 January 2017

Wait A Minute!: The LEGO Movie

Time to shake things up a bit around here as I introduce a new segment to the blog: Wait A Minute! So, even though my penchant for listing every film I review may have provided evidence to the contrary, my opinions on films aren’t necessarily set in stone. In fact, the mental background processing that I do for every film I’ve covered here doesn’t stop once I put my thoughts in writing; sometimes, random thoughts concerning some films do crop up from time to time. With this in mind, in the cases of thoughts that are particularly interesting (to me, at least), I figure I’d make it a new feature on here where I re-discuss films I’ve already talked about once before. Only if something particularly noteworthy comes to mind though, so I don’t end up just repeating myself over and over and over again; I do that enough anyway. And so, to kick off this new segment, let’s get into something that I’m sure most of us have heard of before.

Friday, 27 January 2017

Ok Jaanu (2017) - Movie Review

As part of my continuing look at the Bollywood scene, considering the frequency with which they are being released at my local(s), I find myself actually stepping into somewhat familiar territory with this one. Not necessarily in terms of subject matter, although that does play a small part in it, but in terms of who is involved in the production. If I’m going to be making this a regular thing, I better start to recognize the names attached to Bollywood productions and, thankfully, there’s a name here that I’m sure most Western audiences will be familiar with: A.R. Rahman. In cinephilic circles, he is known for constructing the soundtrack to Oscar favourite Slumdog Millionaire. To everyone else, he’s the guy who collaborated with the Pussycat Dolls for Jai Ho!, a song that will always make me feel uneasy and, nearly 7 years later, I still don’t know why. At any rate, on our next step into the Indian-Australian connection (whether intentional or not), let’s look at this rom-com… you know, maybe our cultures aren’t so different after all.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Ballerina (2017) - Movie Review

The plot: In 19th century France, orphan girl Félicie (Elle Fanning) hopes to escape the orphanage and go to Paris to become a ballerina. With the help of her best friend and hopeful inventor Victor (Dane DeHaan), they makes their way to Paris. As they chase their respective dreams, with Félicie accepting help from Odette (Carly Rae Jepson), a caretaker at the Paris Opera Ballet school, she finds herself fighting against rival dancer Camille (Maddie Ziegler) and her mother Regine (Julie Khaner) to keep her dream alive.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Middle School: The Worst Years Of My Life (2017) - Movie Review

Well, after looking at the terrors of later adolescence a while back, it only serves to reason that I would follow that up with a look into the earlier years of high school (or middle school, as the Yanks call it)… and somehow, that represents an even worse point for anyone going through the traditional school system. The later years of high school still suck, but at least they have a definite tone to them; that being adjusting to the adult world and its many challenges distilled through the experience of educational imprisonment (or, at least, that’s how it feels). Years 7-9, however? It’s basically one big shift of perspective and needing to adjust to not being the hot shit anymore.

Seriously, the key reason why first year students are so insufferable is because they’re still adjusting from being king of the hill in primary school to being back at the bottom of the rung in high school. They need their egos checked and the older kids are more than willing to do so, usually through some combination of balloons, water, flour and a decent throwing arm. So, with all this in mind, how does today’s look at the hell of early high school turn out, considering it’s made by one of the architects of the abomination that is Movie 43?

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Collateral Beauty (2017) - Movie Review

Every couple of years, Will Smith looks at an empty place on his mantle and decides that he wants to fill that space with an Oscar. With that in mind, he goes into full-blown Oscar bait mode and stars in a vehicle meant to give him that acclaim. Unfortunately, up until this point, it hasn’t worked out for him yet. He’s gotten a couple of nominations for Best Actor, most recently in 2006 with The Pursuit Of Happiness, but he has yet to win one. Given the whole media furore over Leonardo DiCaprio’s similar position until his inevitable win for The Revenant, I don’t hold much stock in this need for this particular brand of validation, but nevertheless, he ends up bringing this side of himself to the screen every so often… with very little success, even ignoring the obvious intent behind it all.

I personally have a liking for some of his works in this style, like Seven Pounds and even last year’s Concussion, but there’s a very deliberate and manipulative air to most of them that ultimately make them fall short of their lofty ambitions. Then again, this is something that befalls an awful lot of Oscar hopefuls: They spend so much time trying to tap into some form of emotional complexity that the Academy loves so much, but they don’t spend enough taking a step back and realizing how those emotions are being presented to us and how insensitive it can get. And oh boy, nothing in recent memory embodies the term “insensitive” quite like today’s film.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

The Edge Of Seventeen (2016) - Movie Review

What is it about coming of age stories that we like so much? They represent the harshness of reality that most teens go out to the movies to get the hell away from, and they remind most adults of a time in their life that is (thankfully) well and truly behind them. Not to say that such observations about the trials and tribulations of childhood and adolescence can’t be joyous, usually by way of showing triumph against the relatively massive odds; it’s just that the general mode of this type of story intrinsically involves some form of familiar cringe that, on paper, feels like a natural wall between the art and the audience.

So, with that in mind, why do we watch them? Well, maybe it’s because they offers us a chance of reflection on our own coming of age stories, giving some clarity to what many people would consider to be one of the worst periods of their lives. It also directly plays into our innate want for validation, and a story that people can recognize as part of their own creates an emotional connection that, more times than not, leads to a positive viewing experience. So, how does this latest coming-of-age story turn out? This is The Edge Of Seventeen.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Monster Trucks (2016) - Movie Review

Every so often, a trailer will come out for a film that… well, quite frankly, does the absolute least when it comes to selling a film. Specifically, failing to make the film look even a tenth as dumb as it probably is. This is most certainly one of those examples, and considering this got a special New Year’s Eve screening last, this technically falls under the 2016 list. Call it a technicality, but I don’t want to disrespect this new year by having it be related to this garbage.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Passengers (2017) - Movie Review

Movie trailers, by their very design, are rather strange devices. At the base line, they are meant to intrigue the audience into possibly checking the film in question through basically whatever means are necessary. This usually involves quick-cutting the most visually interesting moments together, combined with music that will rarely if ever be a part of the film itself. Since I made it my mission to see everything that I possibly can at the cinemas, trailers don’t have the same effect on me as they used to (for the most part, at least), but they are still interesting to watch as part of my general fascination with marketing.

Some end up underselling their film by not isolating what generally makes the film good, instead focusing on the surface moments that make it look worse than it actually is, some oversell their film by combining the film’s best moments to make the film look better than it is… and then there’s trailers like those for today’s film. Seeing as this isn’t even the only film out right now to do this, I figure it would be worth getting into with some depth before the potential flood begins: What happens when a trailer shows you a film that is markedly different from the final product?

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Allied (2016) - Movie Review

While the popular conception of the period drama is usually confined to stuffy and immaculately dressed stories set in Victorian England, it’s actually far wider in scope than that. It basically applies to any film that is set in a specific time period that isn’t the present: Ouija: Origin Of Evil technically counts as a period piece. In staging the days of old, filmmakers need a certain level of fidelity to the era in which the story is set in order to do what all good films should be capable of and making us believe that what we are seeing isn’t something that was shot a year or two ago.

Sure, some films use that disconnect between the setting and time of release to rather compelling effect like the intentional anachronisms in A Knight’s Tale. But that’s an exception to what would ordinarily be considered the rule: If it’s set in a particular time period and the film relies on the specificity of that period, then adhering to it is probably a good idea. So, what happens when one of the most forward-thinking filmmakers still working today sets out to make a period romance?

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Dangal (2016) - Movie Review

New year, new film selection, same old asshole taking time out to look at them; yep, it’s beginning to feel a lot like 2017 around here. New year’s resolutions are have devolved into single-sentence punchlines with how often they end up just discarded, but around here, I’m putting one in place to make more of an effort to see more foreign films. Given the selection at my local haunts, this shouldn’t be much of an issue, but I’m going to be spending a bit of time in January looking at a few films that I just didn’t manage to catch last year. So, in finding a meeting point between the two, let’s look at this Bollywood film. This is Dangal.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Top 11 Biggest Surprises (2016)

2016 was a pretty depressing year. Whether you believe in a higher power or not, the incredibly high mortality rate for childhood icons and life-long heroes was enough to make us at least question if someone on-high was trying to mess with us. However, I wouldn’t exactly call this a bad year overall because while the real world may have been rather uninviting, the more creatively inclined definitely got their shit together. Aside from seeing industry titans in the realms of music like Metallica, A Tribe Called Quest and Nick Cave release some of their best material in years, this has also been an astoundingly good year for movies. Not only that, this has been a surprisingly good year in that regard with a lot of films being a lot better than I think anyone could have expected them to be. So, in light of wanting to show 2016 as being far more entertaining than the world seems to have given it credit for, here are my picks for the Top 11 films of 2016 that were far more entertaining than they had any right to be… and in keeping with my last list, chances are that you’re not going to like our first entry.

Monday, 2 January 2017

Top 11 Biggest Disappointments (2016)

Happy 2017 everyone! New year, new crop of films, same old dickhead set to talk about them, and in light of how the new year is where we’re supposed to do things differently than the year prior, I’m going to do something a little different with my year-end lists. I’m going to go over the films that were legitimately surprising in terms of quality, for good and for bad. What films in 2016 did I leave the cinema having gotten a lot more (or a lot less) than I was expecting? Well, time to find out. Now, this isn’t necessarily a list of the year’s worst; I actually still like some of these to a degree. It’s just a list of films from the year that didn't deliver to my personal expectations. This is my list of the Top 11 biggest disappointments from 2016… and chances are that a lot of you are going to hate my #11 pick.