Sunday, 26 February 2017

Hidden Figures (2017) - Movie Review

One of the relatively smaller drawbacks of the Oscar season is that you end up finding certain releases that make a little too much sense in terms of why they were made. Between how space exploration has been framed as an example of where and why humanity should unite under a common cause, and anything involving racial prejudices makes for easy Oscar bait, it’s no wonder that this film exists. Of course, it’s not like I’m not complaining about this; we’re just reaching the end of February and I’ve already seen a handful of films that have pretty much no reason to exist. Films with rather obvious intents aren’t inherently bad things, so long as the people behind them can make those intents ring true in the work proper. So, with all that said, which side of the Oscar bait line does this land in?

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Silence (2017) - Movie Review

When talking about a filmmaker as lauded as Martin Scorsese, traditional adjectives like “important”, “influential” and even “lauded” still feel too small to properly illustrate his reputation both in the industry and with audiences. Aside from his ground-breaking work with crime epics like Goodfellas, Casino and The Departed, he has also shown himself to be one of the most incredibly versatile filmmakers this side of Steven Soderbergh. Psychological thrillers, philosophical dramas, family films, even blacker-than-pitch comedies like the nuttiness of his last film The Wolf Of Wall Street; the man’s well into his 70’s and he still shows no signs of slowing down. So when someone of this calibre comes out with a film that they have apparently been trying to bring into fruition for literally decades, it’s no wonder that it’s gotten the attention that it has. But is it worth the acclaim it has already garnered? Let’s pretend I’m in a position to comment on such things and find out.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Manchester By The Sea (2017) - Movie Review

The plot: Lee (Casey Affleck), upon the death of his brother Joe (Kyle Chandler), has to help his grieving family with the funeral arrangements as well as taking care of his nephew Patrick (Lucas Hedges). As he struggles with his menial job and socially withdrawn existence, Lee connects with Patrick and begins to come to terms with his past and his distant relationship with everyone around him.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Fifty Shades Darker (2017) - Movie Review

Well, the heavily-publicised holiday(?) of Valentine’s Day has come and gone, and hopefully you spent it better than I did. Back in 2015, I forewent the usual nothing I was planning on doing for this special day, put on my best suit and tie (that is to say my only suit) and went out to see Fifty Shades Of Grey on the big screen. I didn’t like it; here’s over 2000 words explaining why. Last year, things turned out a lot better with the release of Deadpool, and even considering my own misgivings with the film overall, it was still a fun night out. This year, it’s back to what I guess can be called business as usual with the follow-up to that film I am so utterly apathetic towards. So, I dusted off the same suit and (somehow) got someone else to tag along with me this time around, and sat down to prepare myself for what will be coming my way next year with the finale. Time to dig into this bewildering follow-up and see how exactly this managed to be even worse than the original.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Fences (2017) - Movie Review

After yesterday’s parade of posing, it’s nice to actually sit down with a proper king of cool for today’s film. Specifically, the man, the legend and the recently dwindling star that is Denzel Washington. His notoriety as an actor is properly set in stone through his work with Spike Lee and the Scott brothers, but his more recent work is somewhat less compelling. Denzel and director Antoine Fuqua have brought each other much adoration in the past through Training Day, but between the somewhat middling The Equalizer and the outright disappointment of The Magnificent Seven retooling, he hasn’t been at his best of late. Knowing the extremely presentist mindset of today in terms of pop culture, it’s not much of a stretch to say that this guy’s legacy could be in jeopardy in the minds of current filmgoers. Hopefully, today’s film will present a possible resurgence. This is Fences.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

xXx: Return Of Xander Cage (2017) - Movie Review

In light of the success of the Fast & Furious series, this film’s existence shouldn’t be too surprising (even with its copied lack of the word “The” in the title), but still, I have to ask: Why is this a thing? A relic of the short-lived xtreme sports craze, directed by our favourite midlife crisis filmmaker Rob Cohen, XXX tried to make its mark by being harder and cooler than James Bond… and even when Bond was at its most laughable, it still failed miserably. Add to this the even weaker follow-up State Of The Union, directed by the man responsible for Bond’s worst outing to date with Die Another Day, and you have a “franchise” that is pretty much dead on arrival.

Well, considering Vin Diesel is at the height of his popularity right now thanks to not only Fast & Furious but also Riddick and Guardians Of The Galaxy, I kind of get why this follow-up exists. I mean, maybe this film could make the Fast Five transition and find its own niche as a sports stunt-heavy action flick. Coming from the director of last year’s The Disappointments Room, I’m not holding out much hope.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Patriots Day (2017) - Movie Review

Since taking the art of cinema as seriously as I do nowadays, I have gained a greater appreciation for the films that I watch. Of the many boons that I consider myself gaining because of this, the one I hold closest to me is how I now attach specific names to features. Actors, directors and screenwriters behind the films I look at here have gained greater meaning to me and have led me to some works that I wouldn’t have batted an eye at beforehand. For example: "You mean the guy who made Back To The Future and Forrest Gump also made The Walk? Man, I gotta check this out!" That’s a statement that would never cross my lips a few short years ago, and I always get a bit of a kick from linking films together through the people involved in social situations.

However, there’s a flipside to that that not only links bad films to particular people, but also because it has made me more aware of the specific styles employed by most directors. In terms of today’s film, it’s what I’ve noticed about director/co-writer Peter Berg’s more recent filmography… and how his attachment to it didn’t exactly have me riveted to check it out. Why is this? Well, let’s get started and I’ll hopefully be able to explain why.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Gold (2017) - Movie Review

With how homogenised Hollywood releases can feel at times, it’s understandable if you get a feeling of Déjà vu from certain trailers. If you’ve seen one film about a young couple fighting to be together despite every reason why they shouldn’t be, you’ve seen them all. That kind of blanket statement is usually something even I turn my nose up at, but in some cases, those base assumptions are accurate. However, of all the reasons that I’ve seen in terms of feeling like you’re just watching the same trailers over and over again (aside from just flat-out seeing the same trailers over and over again), this is definitely a new one. In this case, it’s down to the use of music in the trailer.

Now, re-use of popular songs is nothing new but hearing Barns Courtney’s Glitter And Gold in the trailer for today’s film, after hearing it so often in the lead-up to the release of The Founder late last year, is rather off-putting. The fact that the two, even from the marketing, share a prominent trait concerning the American Dream doesn’t help that impression, but I’m getting a bit ahead of myself. Let’s dig right in… ugh… let’s get started with today’s film.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Journey To The West: The Demons Strike Back (2017) - Movie Review

Even considering the filmmakers that I’ve already covered on this blog, Stephen Chow might be one of the single weirdest that I’ve come across. I say this because, from the works of his that I’ve seen, his cinematic expertise seems to lie in two very different and very conflicting thematic styles. He tends to stick to his own brand of martial arts shenanigans, as influenced by the Shaw Brothers as he is by Tex Avery, resulting in some incredibly energetic and cartoonish action scenes. Alongside that, he has a habit of injecting elements of Buddhist philosophies and a rather nuanced perspective on the matters of life and love, resulting in some remarkably touching moments and end-of-film codas.

These are two worlds that really have no business next to each other, which makes it even more perplexing when he does it well. And really damn well at that; Kung Fu Hustle got the man a lot of attention when it came out and for very good reason. So, with this sequel to his film Journey To The West: Conquering The Demons, and Stephen Chow’s script being utilised by director Tsui Hark, how does this clashing of energy levels turn out?

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Raees (2017) - Movie Review

It’s Bollywood time again, and I am once again thankful that I am stepping on familiar ground with this one. This time around, it’s with one of the most recognisable Indian actors out there: Shah Rukh Khan. Now, that term doesn’t have as much worth to me as it probably should, but that’s only because I’m still on the learning path when it comes to understanding Bollywood cinema. It took me two decades to understand Hollywood’s antics; chances are I have a while to go yet. I’ve already covered two of Khan’s more recent films on this blog before, with the decent if insubstantial Happy New Year and the phenomenally misguided Dilwale, and I’m far from an aficionado for his work but I definitely give the man credit where it’s due; even in Dilwale, the guy still managed to deliver. So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at his latest offering.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Split (2017) - Movie Review

Whether you’re a fan of archetypal slasher films, classic gothic horror, anarchic muscle-heads beating the crap out of each other or giant green dudes fuelled by the urge to smash things, chances are that you’ve run into a depiction of a character with multiple personalities, or Dissociative Personality Disorder as it is known today. Now, even talking about this condition is a tough order because it is easily one of the most contested mental disorders in medical circles (as well as circles where people think they know medical details) and a large number of us are still sceptical that it is even real. Me personally, knowing the myriad of diagnoses I’ve been given over the years, I don’t think I’m in any kind of position to question another person’s mental state so don’t be expecting any attempts at trutherism here. Instead, we’re going to looking at the latest film which happens to revolve around this condition, written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. After the success of The Visit, I’m far less shitscared of that statement than I would have been 5-10 years ago.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Moonlight (2017) - Movie Review

I digest films the same way I digest food: Quickly and without it even touching the sides. I make it a point not to toot my own horn where I can, but when I comes to films, I often pride myself in how quickly I’m able to process films as I watch them, a skill that has grown significantly over the last 7 years. With all that said, in a way, I hate films like this; there’s a reason why I mainly stick to mainstream films on this blog with the odd indie/foreign release here and there. Films of this nature go against my sort-of instant gratification approach to media, and for the first time this year, it’s a film where I am still trying to sort out my opinions on the thing as I’m writing it. So, join me on what I’m sure is going to be a long, winding and occasionally navel-gazing attempt to break this film down in my usual style.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Dark Side Of Dimensions (2017) - Movie Review

Yu-Gi-Oh!, otherwise known as the next step anime after Pokémon, has a rather complex history with yours truly. I watched the original series a LOT as a kid, played many a game in the playground at school (and saw kids keep getting the show’s rules for the game confused with the actual rules) and then there’s its place within my background in YouTube with LittleKuriboh’s seminal work in online parody with Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Abridged Series. It’s rare that I can point to a single franchise as being so influential to my upbringing in this many points of my life. I fell out with the game a few years back until I started doing a work skills course and found a few yahoos that got me back into the franchise through all three of those signifiers. I still suck at the card game but at least now I have some semblance of an understanding of the insanely in-depth rules of the thing, and I can still have a good laugh at the series (both the original and the parody by LK). Naturally, when news hit of a new film from the franchise hitting cinemas, I brought in a close friend and fellow fanboy and sat down to watch this thing. So how did that turn out?

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Kaabil (2017) - Movie Review

Summer here in Australia means a lot of things: Intense heat, insects flying everywhere, the occasional blackout just make the heat and bugs feel that little bit worse, that sort of thing. Of course, for the country’s cinephiles, it also marks a point of weirdness concerning releases. I say this because every release in January/February falls into one of three disparate categories.

You’ve got the last remnants of the Oscar nominations that get released so that we can be as informed as possible while pretending to give a crap about the Oscars like Lion. You’ve got the scrap heap that wasn’t good enough for a release during the previous year like Monster Trucks. And then you’ve got the first glimmers of the traditional summer action blockbusters to make sure everyone is still awake to see the rest of the year. Today, we’re very much talking about the latter, and considering this is also another Bollywood release, I can’t say I knew what to expect walking into it. Specifically, I wasn’t expecting something this good.