Wednesday 25 November 2020

Corpus Christi (2020) - Movie Review

Here’s a pretty extreme version of ‘fake it ‘til you make it’: Polish delinquent Daniel (Bartosz Bielenia) wants to become a priest, but his criminal history prevents him from doing so. However, when he arrives into a town neighbouring a sawmill he’s supposed to be working at, he starts telling everyone he’s a priest… and they believe him. To the point where, when their own vicar falls ill, Daniel fills in for him and leads the town in their pursuit of faith.

It’s the kind of premise, one that puts deceit and religion directly next to each other, that reads like predominantly atheist cinema on the surface; like a miscalculated team-up of Ricky Gervais and Bill Zebub. However, where director Jan Komasa and writer Mateusz Pacewicz differ (to a gargantuan extent) is that in their exploration of a man who bluffed his way into the Church, they unearth a tremendous amount of queries around ideas of faith, forgiveness, sin, and righteousness.

Tuesday 24 November 2020

The Comeback Trail (2020) - Movie Review

How’s this for justifying a remake: It’s impossible to get a copy of the original.

Okay, not impossible, but in attempting to do background work for this new feature, I failed to find a way to watch the 1982 Harry Hurwitz original, legally or otherwise. And judging by the numbers onLetterboxd, I’m not the onlyone having trouble getting this thing. I’d make a joke about this being a literal ‘it’s better than nothing’ situation… but honestly, I’m a bit torn on that notion.

Monday 23 November 2020

All My Life (2020) - Movie Review

As someone who holds no qualms about giving their personal, don’t-care-what’s-affecting-it perspective about whatever movie they just happened to see, you’d think that being emotionally compromised wouldn’t be an issue. And yet, I must be honest once again and admit that I got really worked up while watching this. To the point where I think I metamorphosed into one of those rom-com clich├ęs that I take great joy out of roasting, feeling so over-emotional in response to what I’m experiencing that I had to immediately tell my boyfriend how much I love them in my usually verbose fashion. With how often I rail against the tropes of the genre, I’m quite surprised that this managed to affect that much, especially since it’s not really anything all that nuanced or revolutionary.

Sunday 22 November 2020

Honest Thief (2020) - Movie Review

A Neesonsploitation flick making it to cinemas, at a time when cinema turnout is lower than it’s been in years, might be the least surprising thing to happen in 2020. But quite frankly… well, I’ve been spending all day on festival detail for FilmInk, and I’m in the mood for something simple. Something to get me out of the house (with a mask and adhering to social distancing; I’m a workaholic, not an idiot) and away from my computer for a couple hours. Now, I'm going to try and be fair with this, and judge it on the same metric as all the other Neeson flicks I've reviewed, but as I'll get into, even that isn't going to do this film any favours.

Saturday 21 November 2020

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge On The Run (2020) - Movie Review

I’m in the mood for something fun today. And we’re already off to a good start since, with all the release schedule shuffling, I’m surprised this even made it over here this year. But man, am I glad it did because this is Spongebob doing what Spongebob does best.

Sunday 15 November 2020

The Outpost (2020) - Movie Review

This one is a bit of professional curiosity on my part, as I was initially going to gloss over this one-of-millions war thriller… until I noticed that this might have some of the highest praise of any Millennium Films production I've come across. Yes, the studio that I have come to associate with some of the blandest right-wing-soapbox action guff of the last several years seems to have finally stumbled onto a winner. And having seen it for myself, I can certainly agree that this is a production worth being proud of.

Friday 13 November 2020

Freaky (2020) - Movie Review

Over the last handful of years, once he stopped contributing to the perpetually diminishing returns of the Paranormal Activity series, writer/director Christopher Landon has been establishing himself as one of the better horror-comedy filmmakers working today. We can argue about the merits of Scouts’ Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse until the actual apocalypse rolls up, but his recent trend of ‘___ but it’s a slasher flick’ high-concept features has proven quite effective, between the Groundhog Day flip in Happy Death Day and the booster shots of Back To The Future Part II in its sequel. And that trend carries with his latest, a slasher makeover of the classic body-swap comedy Freaky Friday.

Tuesday 10 November 2020

Radioactive (2020) - Movie Review

Time for round three of our look at Jack Thorne’s scripted work over 2020, and judging by how the last two turned out, I admit that I wasn’t expecting much from this. Also, as a bit of a change of pace from my other looks at films adapted from comics this year, I haven’t read Lauren Redniss’ source material (mainly because the only access I have to it presently is the audiobook, which for a comparison between visual mediums is pretty useless), so I’m once again going to let Thorne’s writing stand or fall on its own. And while I concede that this is yet another instance of the visuals overselling the text, I’d also argue that this is way, way easier to recommend than Secret Garden or Dirt Music.

Saturday 7 November 2020

Rams (2020) - Movie Review

Why do films need to be remade? Well, for the most part, they don’t. It’s largely done either to cash-in on the memorability of the original, or to further the idea that watching foreign films with subtitles is too much to ask of an average filmgoer (because nothing says ‘we respect our audience’ more than assuming they don’t know how to read), and even before they became so ridiculously ubiquitous in the modern era, this is a framework that has been around in the mainstream for decades. But then there are the rare examples of films with a purpose in reviving an older production, one that might highlight the poignancy of the original still ringing true in a different time, a different culture, a different context. And in the case of this recent Aussie effort, it might be one of the most necessary in our history.

Friday 6 November 2020

The Empty Man (2020) - Movie Review

A few years ago, I looked at a film with the immediately-mockable name of The Bye Bye Man. I found myself in a bit of an odd situation after watching it as, while it initially caught my attention through contemporary critics lampooning the shit out of it, I ended up struggling to figure out if I hated it or not. Yeah, the acting was weak, the horror cred of the overall production was limp at best, and most of what it had to offer was watered-down material from other, better entries in the genre… but to this day, there’s still something about its approach to a supernatural killer that appeals to the kookier part of my brain.

I bring all this up because this film left me with a similar reaction, where I feel like I’m still having an argument with myself if this is a uniquely cool take on psycho-horror, or if it’s just an overcooked and under-seasoned casserole of a film.

Thursday 5 November 2020

The Craft: Legacy (2020) - Movie Review

A Blumhouse-produced reboot of an old-school piece of feminist-leaning horror… I feel like we’ve been down this dark road before. Okay, in fairness, I don’t want to imply that either that film or this one is irredeemably bad. It’s just that the pattern goes beyond the studio backing it, and right into finding a similar mixture of intriguing and bizarre ideas in trying to modernise the original story. And quite frankly, it hexes itself more times than not.

Wednesday 4 November 2020

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (2020) - Movie Review

As much as the whole in-character interviewing shtick has grown somewhat stale in recent years, I’d be remiss if I didn’t reaffirm that Sacha Baron-Cohen might be one of the only comedians alive today who can pull that shtick off. Indeed, his feature-length depiction of Kazakh reporter Borat Sagdiyev remains one of the greatest mockumentaries of all time, as graphic as it is bitingly hilarious. And in an odd showing of how heroes show up just in the nick of time to save the day, Baron-Cohen has delivered a follow-up to that classic in what can reasonably be called the best time possible.

Monday 2 November 2020

Leap (2020) - Movie Review

Considering two of my favourite films so far this year have been Chinese efforts, I figured it’d be worth diving into that creative pool once again with this sports biopic about the Chinese women’s volleyball team. And ignoring whatever easy jokes I could make about that particular choice of sport, the film itself presents it in pretty visceral fashion. When their coach says that they need to "shed blood, not tears", he really isn’t kidding, and their physical exertion combined with the sound mixing (that ‘thwack’ as they make contact with the ball is weirdly satisfying) starts the film on solid ground.