FILM REVIEW: Hail, Caesar!

Hail, Caesar! (Joel & Ethan Coen, 2016)

The Coen brothers are held in high esteem by many. But not this chick. For those unfamiliar with the pair, their joint directorial/screenwriting work includes Fargo, The Big Lebowski, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Intolerable Cruelty (it really was), No Country for Old Men, Burn After Reading, True Grit, and Inside Llewyn Davis among others. Though I haven’t seen those first big three, I have never overly enjoyed a Coens brother creation. So despite Hail, Caesar! involving a tap dancing Channing Tatum, I had my reservations. Continue reading FILM REVIEW: Hail, Caesar!

FILM REVIEW: Victoria

Victoria (Sebastian Schipper, 2015)

It’s been said that if you come out of a film thinking about the cinematography, it probably wasn’t a very good film overall. Victoria ran the risk of relying too much on this factor; the film’s cinematographer, Sturla Brandth Grøvlen, even earns first credit above director Sebastian Schipper in the end titles. The film is shot in one single continuous take (not Birdman-style, but actually) and has a run time of 134 minutes. Some may call it a gimmick, and alone it wouldn’t be enough to make a great film. However, it is the combination of the strength of the performances, a compelling story, and a unique way of shooting that make Victoria an extraordinary feat of filmmaking that should be seen by all lovers of cinema. Continue reading FILM REVIEW: Victoria

FILM REVIEW: London Has Fallen

London Has Fallen (Babak Najafi, 2016)

Does every action movie post 9/11 have to be about terrorists? It would seem so. London Has Fallen sees leaders from all over the Western world visit London for the English prime minister’s funeral. Security is tight, but apparently not quite tight enough. Before you know it, five world leaders are dead and the President of the United States (Aaron Eckhart) is on the run with Secret Service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) in the wake of a series of high scale terrorist attacks. Meanwhile in America, Morgan Freeman reprises his role as God for the four hundredth time in his career (this time it’s as the Vice President). Of course America isn’t going to let the terrorists win. U-S-A! U-S-A! Continue reading FILM REVIEW: London Has Fallen

FILM REVIEW: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (Burr Steers, 2016)

Studying Pride and Prejudice in high school made me want to convulse on the floor, while the BBC miniseries made me want to poke my eyes out. It was something about Jennifer Ehle’s “oh ha ha ha aren’t I witty?” demeanour that made me really hate Elizabeth Bennet, one of the most treasured heroines in classic literature. And I never understood why Darcy was so revered when he really seemed like a bit of an uptight dick. The 2005 Keira Knightley-headed version was bearable, and I’m always open to a unique take on a traditional story. Enter Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. The Bennet sisters are now trained in martial arts and shoot zombies’ brains out. How could it NOT be a vast improvement? Continue reading FILM REVIEW: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

FILM REVIEW: 10 Cloverfield Lane

10 Cloverfield Lane (Dan Trachtenberg, 2016)

J.J. Abrams. So hot right now. What can’t the man do? He made Star Wars good again, made us root for Tom Cruise in the Mission Impossible sequels, and most notably, had us obsess over a hatch and a bunch of random numbers in Lost. Having produced Cloverfield in 2008, he now produces its ‘blood relative’ in 10 Cloverfield Lane. They don’t have a lot in common. But his latest feat is far superior. Continue reading FILM REVIEW: 10 Cloverfield Lane

FILM REVIEW: 45 Years

45 Years (Andrew Haigh, 2015)

45 Years is a looooooooong time to be married, and if you’re hoping for a happy story about an older couple to help boost your optimism about the longevity of relationships, you’d best look elsewhere. David Constantine’s short story, In Another Country, has been adapted for the screen by Andrew Haigh, and while 45 Years is a smidge depressing, it’s a thought-provoking gem that ruminates on the complexities of marriage. Continue reading FILM REVIEW: 45 Years

FILM REVIEW: Deadpool

Deadpool (Tim Miller, 2016)

So superhero movies often suck, unless they’re The Dark Knight trilogy or the original Spiderman movies. Last year Guardians of the Galaxy was supposedly meant to break the mould because it had a great soundtrack and a greater frequency of jokes. But it was NOT. THAT. GOOD. And so it seemed unlikely that this supposed new twist on the genre would be any different. But lo and behold, Deadpool was actually vastly superior to any American comic book adaptation we have seen of late, and not just because Ryan Reynolds wears a RENT t-shirt in it. Continue reading FILM REVIEW: Deadpool

FILM REVIEW: Brooklyn

Brooklyn (John Crowley, 2015)

There’s usually always at least one British period piece nominated for Best Picture. And it’s normally nice, quaint, but often just there because that sort of film is expected to be. This year that place was filled by Brooklyn, based on the novel by Colm Toibin, adapted for the screen by Nick Hornby, and directed by John Crowley. It follows young Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) as she emigrates from Ireland to America in the 1950s. The posh English accents are out, and something slightly different from the norm is in. Continue reading FILM REVIEW: Brooklyn

FILM REVIEW: The Big Short

The Big Short (Adam McKay, 2015)

Full disclosure: I’m not what you would call *interested* in finance – my eyes tend to glaze over when people start talking about stocks and super and whatever the hell else. But I became the tiniest bit more intrigued after J.C. Chandor’s brilliant Margin Call in 2011, set during the beginnings of the Global Financial Crisis. The script was phenomenal, the performances flawless, and it achieved the seemingly unachievable: making finance interesting. So four years later along comes The Big Short. A film with even greater buzz, greater Oscar chances, and a hot-arse cast. I was excited. Continue reading FILM REVIEW: The Big Short

FILM REVIEW: Spotlight

Spotlight (Tom McCarthy, 2015)

It’s apt that on the first day that Cardinal Pell testified via video link as part of the Royal Commission into child sexual abuse in the Catholic church, that Spotlight took home the Oscar for Best Picture. Spotlight takes us back fifteen years to 2001, when the Boston Globe’s ‘Spotlight’ team investigated the cover-up of child sexual abuse by priests in the Boston area.  It’s chilling to watch as the journalists react incredulously to the possibility of there being approximately 90 pedophile priests in the area, given what we know now about how far-reaching these heinous crimes were. The end credits list the cities all over the world to have uncovered further abuse – it is sickening stuff. Continue reading FILM REVIEW: Spotlight