Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Judy (2019) - Movie Review

Judy Garland. Hollywood royalty. Gay icon. Star of one of the greatest films ever made. Making a biopic about her could have easily rested on her Yellow Brick Road days and captured something resembling poignancy; knowing how much of modern cinema owes to that film, from the continuing evolution of movie musicals to the dream-logic narratives of David Lynch, it’d resonate on that alone. But instead, director Rupert Goold and writer Tom Edge have gone for a different take, looking at the final year of Judy’s life, when she was trying to scrape together enough money from performing in London’s Talk Of The Town to officially retire. And the vision they give is so utterly spellbinding, it’s difficult imagining this story looking or feeling any differently than this.

Monday, 28 October 2019

Cats (2019) [No, not that one] - Movie Review

Why do I keep doing this to myself? My habit for checking out every new film I can get to, intended audience be damned, frequently puts me in the position of acknowledging that, yes, I am actively putting money and time towards something that wasn’t made with someone like me in mind. But I happily go through with it, partly because being that open with new releases sometimes puts me in front of genuinely good films that I wouldn’t have even noticed otherwise, and partly because even if a given film is bad, it still gives me some much-needed venting and usually decent material to write about afterwards. Over the last few years, the sub-genre of animated family films about talking animals has served as one of the bigger examples of all of the worst-case scenarios listed above, and we have a particularly bad one today.

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil (2019) - Movie Review

2019 will likely go down as the year where Disney stretched too far, and I’m not just talking about their ever-growing monopoly on modern Western entertainment. What started out as interesting experiments to redefine their stable of animated classics (or, more likely, extend their copyright holding for said stories) has truly devolved into a collection of repeated and bewildering mistakes. Of the three that made it to cinemas this year, only one of them left me with anything positive to say, and even then, it has paled considerably since I first reviewed it.

Saturday, 26 October 2019

Zombieland: Double Tap (2019) - Movie Review

2009’s Zombieland was a pretty big turning point for both the people involved in its production and for its genre. As far as zombie cinema is concerned, its highly self-referential and tongue-in-cheek approach to the running dead makes for one of the bigger splashes the genre has seen this side of the new millennium. And for its production crew, it was the first big break that led to much bigger things: Jesse Eisenberg was on the cusp of his defining role in The Social Network, Emma Stone was on her way to becoming one of the best romantic leads of the modern era, writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick’s first collaboration here would lead to great success with Life and the Deadpool movies, and director Ruben Fleischer… well, I won’t hold Venom against him, but he got a big boost from it too.

Friday, 25 October 2019

Hustlers (2019) - Movie Review

The more recent trend of female-dominated crime capers has brought some solid efforts (Ocean’s 8), some mild disappointments (Widows) and some woefully misjudged disasters (The Kitchen). While it’s certainly good to see some much-needed variety at the cinema, I wouldn’t say that there’s been a film yet in this subset that has outright demanded my attention. Maybe it’s because the crop so far has remained rather indebted to the ways of men in their narratives and even their production background, or maybe it’s just that I haven’t found one that aligns with my tastes just yet, but this is a sector of the market that’s been waiting for an outright stunner to make the point for the rest. Enter Hustlers, exactly what the doctor ordered.

Friday, 18 October 2019

Gemini Man (2019) - Movie Review

Will Smith plays a black-ops mercenary, one of the best shots in the history of his agency. However, when he tries to retire to a non-violent life, his old employers decide that he needs to be taken out of the picture. In the process of trying to circumvent any potential feelings of regret that could lead into a want for vengeance, their actions only end up reinforcing that notion, bringing Will back into the fold on a mission to clean up house.

Monday, 7 October 2019

Joker (2019) - Movie Review

Well… here we go. What is most likely to be the most contentious theatrical release of 2019. A film that has audiences and critics so divided that the range goes from “this film is great” to “this film will inspire mass murderers”. Not much wriggle room in there, no matter what my opinion on this is. And yeah, while I’m somewhat mandated to get into the controversy surrounding this production, that’s only half the story. The other half is the film itself, and quite frankly, this is one worth talking about one way or another because, holy shit, this is a genuinely great film.

Sunday, 6 October 2019

Iron Sky: The Coming Race (2019) - Movie Review

2012’s Iron Sky is a little miracle of a film. Born out of the European B-movie sci-fi petri dish from the same guys who broke out by parodying Star Trek with the Star Wreck series, it remains one of the weirdest and ballsiest theatrical releases of the decade. It is undeniably dated, right up to using a Sarah Palin analogue as the U.S. president, but as a satire of fascism and politics on a global scale, it is downright scary how prescient it is. I mean, it’s not much of a stretch to see how much fascist iconography has grown in prevalence in the last handful of years.

Making a sequel to something like this runs a serious risk of failing to meet the bonkers threshold set by space Nazis on the dark side of the moon who turn a black male model into a white crazed hobo, but thankfully, this film has crazy to spare and then some.

Saturday, 5 October 2019

UglyDolls (2019) - Movie Review

You know it’s a bad start when “This was originally going to be a Robert Rodriguez kids film” seems like a best-case scenario. The fabled one-man film crew may not have the best track record when it comes to family films, but when put next to director Kelly Asbury, whose work varies from ‘decent compared to what came before’ with Smurfs: The Lost Village, and outright atrocious with Gnomeo & Juliet, at least he had the first two Spy Kids films under his belt. But then again, I doubt that anyone would be able to salvage this thing, because the list of problems here is hefty.

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark (2019) - Movie Review

When it comes to genre films (AKA the stuff that the Oscars consistently overlooks), one of the most common retorts is to put down its status as fiction. Or, more accurately, its place as fiction that takes a further suspension of disbelief than others. It can be about ghosts, ghouls, robotic zombies, time travel, Danny Huston playing a character that you don’t want to punch in the face; some things are just too much for others to buy into.

And even as someone who leans in hard when it comes to speculative fiction, to an extent, I get that mentality. But what that tends to leave out is the notion that stories like that, even the most fantastical, are influenced by reality. Sometimes, fiction is the only way to externalise very real, very dark, very serious thoughts and feelings. And it is here where this film shines.