Thursday, 27 February 2020

What Did Jack Do? (2020) - Movie Review

I honestly never thought I’d be able to do this on this blog. I always assumed that the window in which I could watch and review new David Lynch movies had past me by. But then this little number showed up on Netflix, a former art gallery exclusive from 2017 (these reviews are dated by Australian release/access date, hence why I’m getting away with calling this ‘new’), and there’s not a herd of wild horses that could stop me from grabbing this chance with both hands. And he doesn’t seem to have lost a touch of his weirdness after all this time.

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Richard Jewell (2020) - Movie Review

I find myself in a bit of an awkward position with this one. This is another one of those situations where, while watching the film and as I left the cinema, I found myself quite liking what I just saw, even if I could definitely see some flaws with it. But in-between that point and sitting down to write this review, that opinion has… changed. It has soured. It has gotten to the stage where I feel like I have some fire in my belly about this film, who made it, and what purpose it ultimately serves. Not gonna lie, I’m going for the throat with this one because I am not happy.

Monday, 24 February 2020

The Call Of The Wild (2020) - Movie Review

Every so often, I find myself sitting in front of this word processor and realising that what I have to say, or at the very least the bulk of what I have to say, could just as easily be said by anyone. It’s the kind of plain-faced, right-in-your-face facet of the production at hand that is so blindly obvious, I almost feel like a rube for even bringing it up. I’m not so conceited that I see what I have to contribute in these reviews as anything tremendously vital, but I at least try to bring the one thing that no-one else can lay claim to to the table: My own perspective. Unfortunately, I doubt that means much in this case, since what I have to report back about this film is something just about anyone could point out. So let’s get that out of the way first: Wow, this is some bad CGI.

Saturday, 22 February 2020

Brahms: The Boy II (2020) - Movie Review

2016’s The Boy has gotten a bit of critical re-evaluation since its release. I am likely never going to understand why people would like something this hacky and undercooked, but I’m not so far up my own arse as to try and get between someone and actually liking something. Getting into a proper grievance about shit like that is one of the pettiest things a person can engage in, and I certainly don’t want to encourage it.

But with that said, yeah, I’m not a big fan of that film, nor of the film’s director William Brent Bell. I have made statements to the tune of him being an absolute hack and one of the most non-essential filmmakers in the modern horror scene, and even pitted him against fellow schlockmeister John R. Leonetti for the title of worst horror director working today. And for that… I honestly want to apologise. Because with Bell’s latest, he isn’t in competition with Leonetti anymore. He has straight-up won that fight.

Friday, 21 February 2020

Emma (2020) - Movie Review

There is nothing worse than writing about a film’s inefficiencies, and in the process only highlighting those same inefficiencies in your own writing. Like writing about something not being funny, while you yourself aren’t making people laugh either, or describing a dull event that itself reads like the literate version of paint drying. And as I find myself trying to muster up things to write about in regards to this movie… yeah, I am honestly worried that I’m just going to bore my dear readers to tears in trying to express how much I didn’t engage with this particular work.

Part of me just wants to write the whole thing off and just… not write about it. But that would put this film in a category outside of pretty much every other film I’ve written about on here, and while it’s not nearly that bad, it’s certainly not that special either.

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

The Lighthouse (2020) - Movie Review

I didn’t know what to expect from the sophomore release of Robert Eggers, who gave us the quite fantastic The Witch a few years ago. I don’t even think it’s possible to expect anything from this, either from the viewpoint of someone trying to pick something to watch or as someone in the cinema seat with their ticket in hand. It legit got to a point, around the point of this film’s final reel, that I found myself giving in to the weirdness. I stopped trying to rationalise what I was seeing and just let it all wash over me… and then I made the trip back home. Time for another deep dive as I try and put down on paper why this film is so fucking brilliant.

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Sonic The Hedgehog (2020) - Movie Review

I don’t get Sonic The Hedgehog. No, I’m not talking about the ravenous fanbase, or even having a dig at the games themselves (although it must be said that the Sonic games aren’t the kind to do things small; when they’re bad, they’re really bad); I’m talking strictly in terms of the character himself. He’s a blue anthropomorphic hedgehog who can run faster than anything else, and he has a really cocky attitude. That’s pretty much it. I don’t claim to be the biggest Sonic afficionado out there, but I’ve gone through enough Let’s Play osmosis to have seen the games and, even considering the competition, this has to be one of the trickiest games to give the big-screen treatment. A trick that these filmmakers just didn’t seem to get right.

Monday, 17 February 2020

Fantasy Island (2020) - Movie Review

Jeff Wadlow just continues striking out these days. I mean, when trailers for this film first reached cinemas, as soon as I saw this guy’s name attached, my expectations for it nosedived pretty much instantly. I’d say the dude is in the middle of a slump, but to be honest, I question if he even had a high point in the first place. Between True Memoirs Of An International Assassin, Truth Or Dare, and even his earliest feature-length outing with the embarrassingly twee Cry Wolf, he gives the impression of someone desperately trying to find his niche through attempting just about anything he can get his hands on, only for the end result to truly bring out his ‘master of none’ status. And oh boy, does that come to a head with his latest.

Sunday, 16 February 2020

Bombshell (2020) - Movie Review

The latest predominantly-comedic director trying his hand at more politically-minded cinema, Meet The Parents and Austin Powers director Jay Roach has teamed up with The Big Short co-writer Charles Randolph to dramatize the sexual abuse allegations levelled against former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, in particular those from newscasters Megyn Kelly and Gretchen Carlson.

I’ll admit, after sitting through efforts like Money Monster and Vice, I’m kind of worried that this is gonna be another instance where I end up agreeing with the production on principle, but leave it thinking that the film assumes that that agreement is all it needs to engage, since it doesn’t do so in any other form. However, I am pleased to report that this is not the case. If anything, it shows Roach managing to outdo Chris McKay at his own game.

Saturday, 15 February 2020

Bad Boys For Life (2020) - Movie Review

The Bad Boys movies are basically ground zero for what filmmaker Michael Bay is recognised for, and not just because the first film served as his initial break into feature filmmaking. Watching it today, the first Bad Boys contains so many quips and plot threads and, hell, even entire characters that could only work in the 90’s, it surpasses the point of being dated into being its own cultural artefact. A snapshot of a bygone era in action cinema, one made easier to watch because Will Smith and Martin Lawrence’s chemistry is that damn tight.

The second film is closer to the Michael Bay we all know and… recognise, to the point where it’s so damn sophomoric that even the energetic action scenes can be tough to watch. That and drilling Shake Ya Tailfeather into the audience’s eardrums, a feat that has only served to deepen my disdain for the bulk of Bay’s oeuvre.

I bring all this up not just as proof that I actually did my homework this time around and watched the predecessors, but also to help set up just how much of a left-hook this latest entry is. The Bad Boys films, whether you like them or not, are classic wish-fulfillment action yarns, the kind where accountability and good taste come second to being as ‘cool’ as possible. This film ain’t like that. In fact, even for postmodern re-examination sequels, this really pushes the boat out.

Friday, 14 February 2020

Birds Of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation Of One Harley Quinn) (2020) - Movie Review

Birds Of Prey is one of the first comic books I remember reading when I first really started getting into them. I have the Manly Library to thank for that, as their graphic novel section introduced me to shit like Sandman, Transmetropolitan and Batman: The Long Halloween; stuff that would not only further the path that Watchmen carved out for me, but would end up influencing my own work in a number of ways. And during that time, I just happened to pick up a trade paperback of Gail Simone’s run on BOP, and man, is it a kick-ass read.
It was one of my bigger initial exposures to superhero fiction, and between the inviting characters and Simone’s uncanny sense of balancing action bombast with genuine heart, it had me hooked. I still get a little misty-eyed thinking about Black Canary’s adopted daughter tasting pancakes for the first time. Needless to say, I was hyped as fuck for a feature-length version of that, and while that may not entirely be what I got, that doesn’t make me any less entertained by it.

Thursday, 13 February 2020

Colour Out Of Space (2020) - Movie Review

I want to try a little experiment before getting into the review proper. I want you to read the words in front of you. Not out loud. Just in your head. Read every. Single. Word.

As your eyes dart across this page, the words unravel inside your mind, turning black ciphers on the screen into phrases and sentences that (hopefully) you are able to understand.

Now pay attention to the words as you’re reading them.

Listen to the voice inside your head that is reading them out.

Listen closely to it.

Is it your own voice? Perhaps.

Or maybe it isn’t.

Maybe it’s someone else’s.

Maybe it’s mine.

How does it feel to have my voice in your head?

How does it feel to know that I can reach out and plant myself inside your mind from halfway across the world?

Or maybe I’m not so far away after all.

Is that voice really inside your head?

Or can you hear it over your shoulder?

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

1917 (2020) - Movie Review

It’s the production gimmick to end all production gimmicks. A combination of the director, cinematographer and editor(s) working in such perfect unison as to pull off a feat that makes film scholars drool all over the world. I am of course talking about the legendary filmmaking technique of the one-shot: A film where everything that takes place is captured in a single camera take.

Not that all one-shots are created equal, though. Some come about through enough clever editing tricks that separate shots are arranged so that it all looks like it was done in one take, like with Birdman or some of the more memorable sequences from the films of Alfonso Cuarón. Others are more legitimate in their claims as they actually are made up of just a single shot, like the legendary Alexander Sokurov film Russian Ark. And sure enough, the latest production to attempt this has been sparking all kinds of awards buzz for the last few months, and it’s only recently made it over here to Australia. But is there more to this film than just the gimmick?

Monday, 10 February 2020

The Grudge (2020) - Movie Review

Time for some 2000’s nostalgia, although we’re not gonna be looking at any of the fun things about that decade. Instead, we’ll be having a good, long gander at the 2000’s J-horror remake trend. It was one of the weirder bits of cultural exchange this side of the new millennium, with Western filmmakers (primarily Sam Raimi and Gore Verbinski, among others) remaking classic Japanese horror films, the results of which were mostly utter garbage. While Verbinski’s The Ring was an okay geographical shift, the rest of the mass including Pulse, One Missed Call, The Eye, Mirrors, and even the Raimi-produced Grudge remake brings down the median. Like, really brings it down. And with this latest, decidedly-American revival of one of the main pillars in that trend, I can’t help but question whatever point this was meant to serve.

Saturday, 8 February 2020

A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood (2020) - Movie Review

Much like Seberg, the main casting choice behind this feature is one that admittedly is a bit obvious, but is also what this production needed right out of the gate. When you’re dealing with a figure as nigh-on-mythical as Fred Rogers, a person that some to this day still question the authenticity of, you need someone who can sell earnestness triumphant. So with that in mind, they basically picked the closest person we have that is as unabashedly likeable as Mr. Rogers himself: Tom Hanks, someone whose sheer charm has also veered somewhat into cliché.

Knowing that a documentary about Mr. Rogers wound up becoming my favourite film of 2018, I shouldn’t have been as surprised as I was at just how good Hanks is as everyone’s favourite nice guy in children’s television. The hushed tone, the endearing timbre, the gentle invitation in his voice that tells you he cares about you and wants to hear what you have to say; the moments with him on-screen genuinely come close to Would You Be My Neighbor? for sheer ugly-crying potential.

Thursday, 6 February 2020

Seberg (2020) - Movie Review

I don’t think there’s a single actress working today who could take this role other than Kristen Stewart. As much as the white liberal populace could quite easily take a shine to stories like that of the real-life philanthropist and actress Jean Seberg, the narrative of a white woman implanting herself into the protests and struggles of the Black Panther Party isn’t something just anyone could pull off. With how high-profile Stewart has grown of late, and how endearingly riot grrl her public persona has become, her status as one of the mainstream's favourite social subversives makes her ripe for this kind of story. And thankfully, through thick and thin, she manages to pull it off.

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Like A Boss (2020) - Movie Review

I’m starting to feel bad for Tiffany Haddish. Oh sure, 2019 proved to be a quite fruitful year for her on the voice-acting front, between The Lego Movie 2 and The Angry Birds Movie 2, but on the live-action front, the side of her that got pushed into the mainstream with Girls Trip? Not so much. Night School was ghastly, her teaming-up with Tyler freaking Perry on Nobody’s Fool couldn’t have possibly sounded like a good idea, and while she managed to pull through okay with The Kitchen, that was largely in spite of everything around her, not because of it. Her current presence as a comedic actress seems to be codified by her being a potential saving throw for a film that needs outside assistance, rather than actually giving her material to work with. And with her latest, it seems like we’ve reached the bottom of the barrel.