Monday, 31 December 2018

Dumplin' (2018) - Movie Review pageants. Of all the many, many symbols of human vanity, no institution can lay claim to more bruised and inflated egos than the American beauty pageant circuit. Even without getting into the horrors when the pageants are for children (lest we remember that Honey Boo Boo is on the conscience of our species), the whole enterprise is just… weird. Not to mention disheartening, as this kind of superficial road show almost seems designed to make women feel bad about themselves. I mean, sure, most of us would probably prefer someone who looks like they subsist on more than just crackers and tap water, but even with that in mind, seeing women get praised for their surface-level details? Not exactly the best thing for the old self-confidence.

Roxanne Roxanne (2018) - Movie Review are a lot of major events that happened in the 80’s that would solidify the hip-hop culture right up to the present day. DJ Kool Herc’s legendary bloc parties, Kool Moe Dee’s first battle against Busy Bee Starski, the feud between the Bronx and Queensbridge that would define ‘beef’ forever after; this is a rich time in the culture’s history. But one story that keeps being overlooked, except when strictly looking at the history of rap beefs, is that of Roxanne Shanté. Making a name for herself as a battle rapper at just 9 years old, her part in what would be called ‘the Roxanne Wars’ was a defining moment for the genre, one that made it loud and clear that this rapping thing wasn’t just for the boys.

The Legacy Of A Whitetail Deer Hunter (2018) - Movie Review know that it’s been a weird year when Danny McBride, an actor and writer better known for his comedic works, is currently riding high on a horror movie. This kind of step into different genres doesn’t have to be a bad thing (worked a miracle for Jordan Peele), but if McBride wants to keep up with his standard trade, it’s an easy ask that he be attached to works worth their salt. And this kind of is, in a roundabout way, as despite this being billed as a comedy, laughter isn’t exactly the first reaction this gives. It’s a little too low-key and a little too preoccupied with moodier pursuits for that.

Ralph Breaks The Internet (2018) - Movie Review, this looks familiar. A family-friendly animated film about sentient programs travelling the Internet, finding a lot of recognisable websites, programs and properties along the way. Oh goodie, this work out so well last time. Here is where I would normally bring up the differences in studios and filmmakers this time around from that pile of rubbish, except that isn’t looking all that pristine either. Yes, this is the follow-up to a pretty damn good flick in Wreck-It Ralph, but with how the marketing for this has been looking all year, this way too easily could be just an excuse for Disney to parade its still-growing monopoly in the industry, showing off its latest acquisitions like a kid shows off their new toys. But putting aside any possible misgivings going into this, how does it actually turn out?

Sunday, 30 December 2018

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (2018) - Movie Review’re gonna be stepping into new territory with this review, as I’m not just looking at a film but an interactive film. Netflix has been toying around with this idea for a while now, even porting a version of Minecraft: Story Mode onto the service, but this is the first attempt at something for more mature audiences. Getting into the details with this one is going to be tricky, as this is the kind of feature where there exist flowcharts that detail all the different choices and paths you can take as a viewer/controller; I’ll be here all day if I tried to pin down this film’s singular narrative. So, instead, I’m basically going to treat this like any other piece of interactive fiction: How does it control, what’s the story like, and is one worth dealing with to get to the other (i.e. would this have worked better as just a standard feature)?

Vice (2018) - Movie Review is not a dirty word. 99 times out of 100, whenever someone something for being propaganda, it’s because it doesn’t align with their own views. Cut deep enough into any piece of media and it always ends up being an endorsement for some brand of political thought, whether it’s immediately obvious or otherwise. I myself honestly hold no qualms in my own writings being viewed in the same way, as I’m not exactly shy about my worldview and what I perceive as matters worth discussing.
However, while keeping all of this in mind, there is still such a thing as bad propaganda, where the intended message at the forefront is either fundamentally incorrect or it’s presented in a way that doesn’t make it easy to get the desired effect from the audience. I’ve covered plenty of the former on here before, and even looked at some of the latter, but honestly, it’s the latter that ends up hurting more. It’s also why this film hurts as much as it does.

Saturday, 29 December 2018

The Favourite (2018) - Movie Review latest from Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos, while it lacks his attachment to the script as well as the involvement of his go-to DOP Thimios Bakatakis, operates within his usual realms of all things quietly insane. A costume drama set in the early 18th century, involving a battle for the favour of Queen Anne (played superbly by Olivia Colman) between cousins Abigail (Emma Stone in rare, vengeful form) and Sarah (Rachel Weisz apparently trying to redeem herself for her last attempt at romantic period drama). It marks the most easily-digestible film Yorgos has made yet, meaning that I’m not going to be wallowing in a critical malaise trying to figure this shit out like last time. It also means I get to talk about one of the funniest films I’ve seen all year without any cerebral hang-ups.

Aquaman (2018) - Movie Review several decades, Aquaman has been the laughing stock of DC’s core group of superheroes. Try as creatives like Paul Dini and Bruce Timm tried to rescue him from his ‘underwater Doctor Dolittle’ perception, his depiction in the Superfriends Show has remained his rather undignified persona in the popular consciousness. In a stable of characters that include Space Jesus, World’s Smartest Emo and Bondage Princess, Aquaman remained the one that was the hardest to take seriously. Of all the characters that have been itching for a big-budget blockbuster about them, the king of the oceans is the one who could benefit most from some cinematic re-examination. And with a story credit from Geoff Johns, a comic book writer who has seen tremendous success in reinventing large swathes of the DC universe, it looks like his chance to shine has finally arrived.

Friday, 28 December 2018

Godzilla: City On The Edge Of Battle (2018) - Movie Review narrowly defeating a Godzilla, only to discover that the original Godzilla is still alive and as monstrous as ever, humanity’s last stand on Earth is in a difficult spot. That is, until they discover a tribe of people on the planet, descendants of humanity, who offer aid and another chance to take down the god of monsters. Knowing the diminishing returns when it comes to sequels, I’ll admit that I wasn’t expecting much from this one after just liking the first one and not much more. But man, this follow-up comes in hard.

Godzilla: Planet Of The Monsters (2018) - Movie Review has been 22 years (or something closer to 20,000 years, due to the quirks of faster-than-light travel) since humanity left his home. After numerous kaiju attacks ravaged the Earth, and Godzilla finished the job by razing human and monster alike, mankind has had to find a new home. But after years of traversing stars, finding nothing close to a habitable world they can use to start over, the situation is looking grim. Like “we’re running out of resources and have to cull the small population we have” kind of grim. Left with no other choice, they return to Earth to find a world utterly unlike the one they had to escape so long ago. One that the monsters have officially declared their own.

Thursday, 27 December 2018

Batman Ninja (2018) - Movie Review an encounter with a time travel built by a super-intelligent gorilla (because this is the world of comic books), Batman, his closest allies and his greatest foes are all transported to the days of feudal Japan. This is the kind of high-concept lunacy that makes for some of the best Elseworlds stories and, as Sony/Marvel would end up showing months after this film’s initial release, there’s a lot of room in the market for bonkers reimaginings of our favourite superheroes. And quite honestly, even if for pure geek-out value, this is most definitely one to check out.

Holmes And Watson (2018) - Movie Review confidence + extreme incompetence. This relatively simple formula is in the DNA of an awful lot of comedy, where the humour is generated from characters who think they are far smarter than they actually are. It’s a form of stylistic hubris that many comedians owe the bulk of their legacies to, including the fabled pairing of Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly. However, while this is an equation that has yielded much success in the past, it’s also potentially tricky in the same way that most intentionally dumb comedies are: There has to be a distinction being a film that knows how stupid it is, and a film that is just plain stupid. Because much like the characters that bank on this style, there are few things more laughable than people with disproportionate egos. Except, of course, when the filmmakers themselves seem to share that trait.

Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Phantom Thread (2018) - Movie Review latest from auteur Paul Thomas Anderson is a curious venture. The story of a meticulous and rather dickish fashion designer, played by Daniel Day-Lewis in his final film role, it carries a likewise meticulous approach to visuals. Beyond just the immaculate costume design and pristine musical score, there’s an overwhelming sense of the ornate throughout this whole production. It looks, and feels, like few other films I’ve taken time to cover on this blog, for both good and somewhat perplexing reasons.

Sweet Country (2018) - Movie Review doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to dealing with non-whites. Our country is responsible for some of the worst human rights violations in the Western world, both past and present, and nowhere is that more evident than in the historical treatment of Aboriginal Australians. The people we classified as native fauna long before we ever deemed them human, with our predecessors doing their damnedest to breed them out of existence to try and erase any evidence that we weren’t the first people to inhabit this land. This open sore in our history, one that most seem determined to ignore into absolution, ends up serving as a brilliant backdrop for this Aussie take on the Western cinematic genre.

Tuesday, 25 December 2018

Bird Box (2018) - Movie Review’s a little too easy to just cut to the chase and see this as an attempt to cash in on A Quiet Place. Atmospheric horror tied directly to one of the human senses, with heavy emphasis on parenthood through the characters; the ties exist, is all I’m saying. But more so than that, this concept feels like someone looked at The Happening and went “Okay, there has to be a way to do this story without it being completely stupid.” A mysterious force is making the human population commit suicide, and the few that remain have to try and survive without getting exposed to that force. It’s an idea that honestly is worth trying to make palatable, and the attempt made here ain’t half bad.

Anna And The Apocalypse (2018) - Movie Review like this make me love this job. Not just because they give a lot of material to work with for a review, but also because this kind of high-concept storytelling makes it remarkably to sum up why this film is worth watching: It’s a Scottish Christmas zombie musical comedy. And the best part is that, while that kind of five-car genre pile-up works so well at selling the movie that writing a review may seem pointless, there is actually something quite special at the heart of this production. But all in good time; let’s get into this truly wondrous film.

Monday, 24 December 2018

Colette (2018) - Movie Review of the better reasons for the continued existence of period dramas is that, in a historical sense, it can help brings modern-day issues into perspective. There’s only so much clamouring about "it’s just a trend" or "yeah, now you care about all this" when it comes to any social issue before it becomes quite grating to have to rebut over and over again. Since cinema is a great tool when it comes to information, and global history has all sorts of little nuggets that the world could use some reminders of, it can make for some rather revelatory moments. Like this film, the latest from writer/director Wash Westmoreland about a pioneering French writer and her struggle for recognition.

Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018) - Movie Review spending pretty much an entire day talking about Orson Welles and F For Fake not long ago, I feel like I’m beating a dead horse here… but let’s talk about ‘fake art’. Forgery on its own is already a pretty dicey prospect, but applying that to the creative arts like painting, filmmaking or writing opens up whole new dilemmas to the equation. And indeed, much like Elmyr de Hory, sometimes deliberate artistic imitation can be called out and still considered to be as worthy as the genuine article. Rather than just rehash the F For Fake argument, let’s instead see how that mindset of 'fake art' applies to this film, a based-on-actual-events of a writer who forged letters from famous writers and actors.

Sunday, 23 December 2018

Illang: The Wolf Brigade (2018) - Movie Review media born from one culture to the tastes of another requires more than simple copy-and-pasting. In order to make it convincing that there is a reason why a particular story is being reframed and reshipped to different territories, sometimes changes need to be made. It can involve relatively minor changes, like replacing some of the aspects of Watchmen, or it can be a lot more thorough, like the complete political shifts in V For Vendetta. This film, closing out today’s triumvirate of live-action anime adaptations, is a South Korean take on a piece of Japanese animated cinema. The results are… mixed.

Fullmetal Alchemist (2018) - Movie Review for something with a bit more personal investment to it than the last review. Fullmetal Alchemist, in no uncertain terms, is one of the best anime series ever. Its characters, its incredibly dark and complex themes about life and death, its airtight pacing and yet incredible variety; it is a true-blue classic. It has had film iterations before, primarily the two connected to the two FMA series (the original and Brotherhood, which actually went in quite different directions due to their different connections to the manga), but this is the first attempt at a live-action adaptation. However, this is a wholly different beast to what we got with Bleach, for both good and bad reasons.

Bleach (2018) - Movie Review seems that last year’s Death Note movie has opened up the floodgates for live-action anime adaptations on Netflix. And what’s more, judging by the myriad of memes I’ve been seeing all year, they don't seem to be doing too well. Not to say that I’d be too surprised at that, seeing as Death Note wasn’t exactly the best introduction to a genuinely great franchise, but I’m willing to keep an open mind about all this. So, for today, we’ll be looking at a few of these adaptations, starting with the story of a high school student tasked with saving the neighbourhood from a giant seaweed monster. It’s anime; don’t even try and act surprised at that.

Saturday, 22 December 2018

Won't You Be My Neighbor? (2018) - Movie Review spent a lot of time reading and watching American content creators, I have heard many a story about the man named Fred Rogers. And as an outsider looking in, his place in nostalgic history always seemed like an anomaly to me. When childhood entertainers like Rolf Harris and Bill Cosby were being exposed as utter human garbage, Mr. Rogers kept coming up as one of the few nostalgic icons that was still good. And not just good, but a kind of good that warmed its way into the hearts of an entire generation.

While Mister Rogers' Neighborhood is a well-worn television staple in the U.S., I over here in Australia never really experienced any of the man’s work. I mean, how good could this guy possibly be? A lifelong Republican, a religious minister who cared about making connections with children… maybe it’s just my cynical side peeking through, but how could this be the background of a man this beloved? Well, through the lens of They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead director Morgan Neville, I got my answer. Holy hell, did I get my answer.

They'll Love Me When I'm Dead (2018) - Movie Review feel like I shot myself in the foot with my last review. The one time I make it a point to highlight the necessity for context and putting a film into a larger perspective, to the point where I wind up writing about it than the film itself, and it turns out that someone else managed to do a far better job at that than I could ever have managed. I watched this film right after watching The Other Side Of The Wind, the result of which was a personally surreal experience where I felt like I was being schooled in how to talk about film. A lesser man would abandon this review entirely, go back to the other one and do some sneaky reworking to ease that inadequacy. It’s all in the editing, after all. But no, instead of making this entirely about me, I’ll just make it partially about myself as we take a look at this phenomenal making-of documentary.

The Other Side Of The Wind (2018) - Movie Review of what I do here with these reviews is trying to put singular films into a greater context. The wheres and whys that surround each production can often help make sense of the product itself, for better or for worse. And in the realms of American cinema, few directors can lay claim to being such utter fonts of cinematic context as Orson Welles.

Film as any of us know it simply doesn’t make sense without considering his contribution to the art, something that can easily be taken for granted when looking at his seminal classics in today’s light. From the revolutionary visuals of Citizen Kane to the ground-breaking editing of F For Fake to the character wizardry of Chimes At Midnight, his work has influenced so much of what would come afterwards that it's frankly staggering. He is one of the few filmmakers I can recall where it feels necessary to separate entertainment value from the legacy of the art itself. This film, a posthumous completion of one of the many productions Welles never lived to see completed, is no exception.

Friday, 21 December 2018

The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs (2018) - Movie Review someone who has gone on record about being rather lukewarm with both the Coen brothers and the entire Western genre, this review is going to prove a little tricky. Doubly so because we’re dealing with an anthology film, the kind of fare that doesn’t exactly lend itself well to cohesion. There’s gonna be duds, there’s gonna be winners, and even then, that’s if you’re lucky; most of the time, it’s a collection of middling stories that wouldn’t be able to warrant a separate release, much less stand on their own alongside each other. Well, with all three ducks lined up in a row, I am thankful to report that this turns out good. Like, really damn good.