Sunday, 28 September 2014

THE EQUALISER

A man believes he has put his mysterious past behind him and has dedicated himself to beginning a new, quiet life. But when he meets a young girl under the control of ultra-violent Russian gangsters, he can't stand idly by - he has to help her.

Denzel Washington does do the ruthless action hero well. And his latest movie, THE EQUALISER, starts off brilliantly. It’s dark, raw, rich, and deep as his character (Robert McCall) is developed in the first act. And it looks like we are in for a fresh story when he meets Teri (ChloĆ« Grace Moretz in a very different role), a teenage prostitute, in the diner he frequents each night when he can’t sleep. When she disappears, he decides to find out where she is. And he is very much up to the task. The problem is, half way through the movie, it loses its way and descends into a cliched, predictable, violent action thriller that has none of the quality of the first half. It’s pretty obvious who the goodies and baddies are because every stereotype is used to tell us. It’s a shame because this movie had so much potential. The soundtrack is great, it has a good cast, and the essential premise is a good one. But, unfortunately, all the good things are not sustained and, ultimately, this movie is very unsatisfying.

***1/2

Saturday, 27 September 2014

THIS WEEK'S NEW CINEMA RELEASES

Sorry about the delayed update on new cinema releases this week - as I said, I’ve been in China so couldn’t update Facebook until now. Anyway … here we go …

MY TOP PICK TO SEE


THE SKELETON TWINS is top of my list to see this week. Having both coincidentally cheated death on the same day, estranged twins reunite with the possibility of mending their relationship. Stars Kristen Wiig (Maggie) and Bill Hader (Milo). According to Philadelphia Inquirer’s Steven Rea, If a movie with suicide as a central theme can be deemed funny, then writer/director Craig Johnson has pulled it off, mixing heartache and humor and giving Wiig, especially, the opportunity to shine. Sounds good.

OTHERS TO SEE


A new Australian comedy tackles some very everyday topics in THE LITTLE DEATH. It is a truly original comedy about sex, love, relationships and taboo. In a multi story narrative, we peer behind the closed doors of a seemingly normal suburban street. A woman with a dangerous fantasy and her partners struggle to please her. A man who begins an affair with his own wife without her knowing anything about it. A couple struggling to keep things together after a sexual experiment spins out of control. A woman who can only find pleasure in her husband's pain. A call centre operator caught in the middle of a dirty and chaotic phone call. And the distractingly charming new neighbour who connects them all. The little Death explores why do we want what we want? How far will we go to get it? What are the consequences of that fleeting moment of sexual ecstasy? (Anonymous)

MAYBE/MAYBE NOT


Denzel Washington is usually good in his typical action thriller movies. However, THE EQUALISER is hard to predict as general public and critics are in disagreement. A man believes he has put his mysterious past behind him and has dedicated himself to beginning a new, quiet life. But when he meets a young girl under the control of ultra-violent Russian gangsters, he can't stand idly by - he has to help her. Sounds like an uneven script if New York Daily News’s Joe Neumaier is correct. According to him, The movie is tense and coiled for its first hour, then becomes routine in its second half.

Finally, LIFE OF CRIME sits right on the borderline for both the general viewer and the critics. It is a comedy crime about two common criminals who get more than they bargained for after kidnapping the wife of a corrupt real-estate developer who shows no interest in paying the $1 million dollar ransom for her safe return. For The Hollywood Reporter’s John DeFore, Daniel Schechter's Life of Crime starts promisingly and ends with a smile but underwhelms in between.

That's it for this week. See you at the movies!

NB: synopses of movies are adapted from IMDB. Opinions are mine unless quoted from cited sources.

Friday, 19 September 2014

THIS WEEK'S NEW CINEMA RELEASES

Ok… here are the new movies opening at our cinemas this week!

MY TOP PICK TO SEE


You may be surprised that my top pick to see this week is the young adult novel adaptation of the novel THE MAZE RUNNER. Thomas is deposited in a community of boys after his memory is erased, soon learning they're all trapped in a maze that will require him to join forces with fellow "runners" for a shot at escape. I’ve just returned from the cinema after seeing this and I have to say it was a lot better than I thought it would be. I’ll post my review shortly, but let you know I give it ****. Thoroughly enjoyable.

OTHERS TO SEE


THE INFINITE MAN is a very quirky Australian philosophical comedy/sci-fi in which a man's attempts to construct the ultimate romantic weekend backfire when his quest for perfection traps his lover in an infinite loop. I will post my review shortly.

MAYBE/MAYBE NOT


Aidan Bloom is a 35-year-old man who finds himself at major crossroads, which forces him to examine his life, his career, and his family in the comedy drama WISH I WAS HERE. The Playlist’s Cory Everett says, Wish I Was Here is not a total disaster, but the tricky tone seems like it needed more time in the editing room to focus its story and trim some of the extraneous threads.

Do you remember watching the highly stylised graphic novel looking Sin City back in 2005. At last, another story hits the screens in FRANK MILLER’S SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR. In this “episode”, some of Sin City's most hard-boiled citizens cross paths with a few of its more reviled inhabitants. The general cinema goer is finding this movie quite appealing, but the critics are not so happy. According to New York Daily News’s Joe Neumaier, The sequel to one of the most visually striking movies of the last 10 years continues the graphic novel-inspired landscape of its predecessor. But the characters don't click, and the action feels dull.

THE BOX TROLLS is generally being slammed by the critics, too, rating it around **1/2 on the average. The general public seem to be enjoying it a bit more with average ratings of around ***1/2. THE BOX TROLLS tells the story of a young orphaned boy raised by underground cave-dwelling trash collectors who tries to save his friends from an evil exterminator. Based on the children's novel 'Here Be Monsters' by Alan Snow. The trailers looked cute but, according to Variety’s Peter Debruge, The meticulously crafted world is stunning to behold, imagined to the minutest detail and photographed with the sort of dramatic lighting and dynamic camera movement rarely seen in stop-motion. Trouble is, it's not a place most folks would care to spend any time. That’s a shame if it’s true.

ONE TO AVOID


Finally, yet another kids movie not worth your time seeing. PLANES: FIRE & RESCUE is all about When Dusty learns that his engine is damaged and he may never race again, he joins a forest fire and rescue unit to be trained as a firefighter. The trailers looked very cheesy and Movie Nation’s Roger Moore seems to agree when he says that Planes: Fire & Rescue is roughly twice as good as its predecessor, Planes, which was so story-and-laugh starved it would have given “direct-to-video” a bad name. Yes, there was nowhere to go but up.

That's it for this week. See you at the movies!

NB: synopses of movies are adapted from IMDB. Opinions are mine unless quoted from cited sources.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

NIGHT MOVES

Three radical environmentalists look to execute the protest of their lives: the explosion of a hydroelectric dam. -- IMDB

Very low-key exploration of the lead up and aftermath of three young people who perpetrate an act of ecoterrorism that has serious consequences. Jessie Eisenberg (Josh) and Dakota Fanning  (Dena), in particular, put in highly nuanced performances as they are forced to deal with the emotional agony that follows their actions. It’s psychologically chilling to think that people who set out to do what they think is right can end up doing things that they genuinely regret and that have unexpected impact on others. Viewers who are looking for thrills and action will not find it here. It’s a deeply meditative film, in many ways - it is hauntingly provocative. The anxiety of the characters is palpable. This movie is a thought-provoking look at radical violence in the cause of justice that can go terribly wrong.

***1/2

Friday, 12 September 2014

THE GIVER

In a seemingly perfect community, without war, pain, suffering, differences or choice, a young boy is chosen to learn from an elderly man about the true pain and pleasure of the "real" world. — IMDB

Better than I thought it would be. I enjoy post apocalyptic dystopian movies, the best of recent ones being Snowpiercer. THE GIVER is nowhere near as good as that one, but presents some interesting ideas in a fresh way. Anyone who wants to live in a perfect “heaven” where there is no pain, suffering, or potential for humans to make wrong choices needs to check this one out! Jeff Bridges is the best of the actors in his role as the titular “Giver”. Meryl Streep is not bad and the young cast do a decent job in their roles. The most interesting thing about the movie are the ideas we are asked to consider, particularly the role of memory in making us truly human. The story wobbles at the end with a dissatisfying conclusion that doesn’t have anywhere near the same intensity as the rest of the story. But, overall, a thoughtful addition to the genre.

***1/2

THIS WEEK'S NEW CINEMA RELEASES

In amongst the the dross there’s a couple of potentially good movies to see this week…

MY TOP PICK TO SEE


Top of the list to see this week is NIGHT MOVES. Three radical environmentalists look to execute the protest of their lives: the explosion of a hydroelectric dam. According to the New York Observer, You will take pleasure in the performances of three top-notch actors - Dakota Fanning, who has matured into a fine young film star, Jesse Eisenberg, frighteningly brooding, and the always excellent Peter Sarsgaard. Let’s hope that the story is as good!

MAYBE/MAYBE NOT


The best-selling YA book, THE GIVER, first published in 2002, finally comes to the screen to continue the plethora of post-apocalyptic dystopias we’ve seen recently. In a seemingly perfect community, without war, pain, suffering, differences or choice, a young boy is chosen to learn from an elderly man about the true pain and pleasure of the "real" world. The general viewer likes this more than the critics who don’t think it’s all that great. The New York Daily News’s Joe Neumaier suggests that, The Giver was ahead of its time as a book. But as a movie, it's too late. I saw it this afternoon and enjoyed it. I’ll post my review shortly.

When I was young, I didn’t have anything to do with teenage ninja turtles, but many did. And I suspect it will be those who loved these creatures in their childhood will be the ones who will be off to see the latest TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES movie. A group of mutated warriors face off against an evil kingpin who wants to take over New York. The general public and critics are truly divided on this one. According to Film.com, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles isn't a movie; it's a brand re-launch that's going to satisfy stockholders far more than it's going to entertain the people who paid to watch it. Go see it if you dare!

If dancing is your scene then maybe check out STEP UP ALL IN in which all-stars from the previous Step Up installments come together in glittering Las Vegas, battling for a victory that could define their dreams and their careers. The Wrap’s Alonso Duralde says that, Even if the big numbers in Step Up All In don't always hit the heights of its immediate predecessors, there are enough exultant moments - during the crew battles or Sean and Andie's pas de deux on a carnival ride - to tide you over until the inevitable Part Six.

ONE TO AVOID


You may have been looking for a movie to take the kids to, but the latest TARZAN movie isn’t it. According to general audiences, it’s only rating around ** to **1/2 stars. Give it a miss.

That's it for this week. See you at the movies!

NB: synopses of movies are adapted from IMDB. Opinions are mine unless quoted from cited sources.

WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS

Follow the lives of Viago (Taika Waititi), Deacon (Jonathan Brugh), and Vladislav (Jemaine Clement) - three flatmates who are just trying to get by and overcome life's obstacles-like being immortal vampires who must feast on human blood. Hundreds of years old, the vampires are finding that beyond sunlight catastrophes, hitting the main artery, and not being able to get a sense of their wardrobe without a reflection-modern society has them struggling with the mundane like paying rent, keeping up with the chore wheel, trying to get into nightclubs, and overcoming flatmate conflicts. -- IMDb

This looked like it had so much promise but turned out to fall way below the mark. There are occasional inspired moments but overall nothing really to sink one's teeth into. Felt like a high school amateur night. Actors did their best with what was a superficial script. The first act is the best but it quickly becomes lifeless and directionless. I suppose if you've been living for thousands of years life would become pretty boring. If your taste is not for over the top mockumentary then give this a miss. If you like silly then suck it and see.

***

Friday, 5 September 2014

DVD RECOMMENDATION

Looking for a DVD for the weekend? Check out...

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL

The adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous hotel from the fictional Republic of Zubrowka between the first and second World Wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend. -- IMDB

A quirky, drily humorous, classic-styled comedy beautifully photographed and choreographed. There is more style than substance but it's charming and reasonably entertaining. Clearly the actors had some fun making this one. It's pretty disjointed at times but it's amusing. Not one I would sit through again but worth a look.

***1/2

<< THIS WEEK'S NEW CINEMA RELEASES >>

Just three movies to catch up with this week…

MY TOP PICK TO SEE


Top of the list is BOYHOOD, the life of a young man, Mason, from age 5 to age 18. The movie description doesn’t seem much, but this is a groundbreaking movie using the same actors from the age of six up to 18. Every year, the director filmed the next part of the movie, edited it (without showing the actors), and then filmed the next part the following year. So we see the actual changes in the ages of the actors over the twelve year period. Its meant to be a stunning piece of cinema with general viewers and critics praising it. The Guardian’s Xan Brooks calls it … an astonishing achievement; [and] a beautiful movie. Do not miss this one!

OTHERS TO SEE


For all you vampire lovers, here’s one not to miss! WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS. Follow the lives of Viago (Taika Waititi), Deacon (Jonathan Brugh), and Vladislav (Jemaine Clement) - three flatmates who are just trying to get by and overcome life's obstacles-like being immortal vampires who must feast on human blood. Hundreds of years old, the vampires are finding that beyond sunlight catastrophes, hitting the main artery, and not being able to get a sense of their wardrobe without a reflection-modern society has them struggling with the mundane like paying rent, keeping up with the chore wheel, trying to get into nightclubs, and overcoming flatmate conflicts. It’s a comedy mocumentary - and the trailers look great.

MAYBE/MAYBE NOT


INTO THE STORM is is a disaster movie in which storm trackers, thrill-seekers, and everyday townspeople document an unprecedented onslaught of tornadoes touching down in the town of Silverton. I’ve already posted my review of this movie and give it only **1/2. Check out my review and you can decide for yourself whether you go see it or not. It will depend, I think, on whether you are interested in the special effects and don’t mind the poor quality of the rest. I agree with The Hollywood Reporter’s Stephen Farber who says, The script by John Swetnam is rudimentary, with only the most minimal and pallid stabs at characterization... Nevertheless, once the funnel clouds begin swirling, Quale and his special effects team achieve some remarkably authentic and frightening moments.

That's it for this week. See you at the movies!

NB: synopses of movies are adapted from IMDB. Opinions are mine unless quoted from cited sources.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

INTO THE STORM

Storm trackers, thrill-seekers, and everyday townspeople document an unprecedented onslaught of tornadoes touching down in the town of Silverton. -- IMDB

Another disappointment. Storm is generated completely by special effects and is very good. But the story is cliched and the characters are shallow and poorly developed. The main character is the storm - so if you are happy to see some good special effects and can forget about the rest then check it out. Surprised it wasn't made in 3D. Would have been a good candidate. Anyway... very average.

***

THE INBETWEENERS 2

Jay, Neil, Simon, and Will reunite in Australia for a holiday. -- IMDB


Absolutely superficial and boring. The script falls somewhere in between crude and downright offensive. The whole movie is extremely sexist and portrays all women as dumb, sluts or ball-busters. There is nothing redeemable except for a few beautiful location shots of Australia. I think there was one scene that had something interesting to say but the rest is a pointless waste of time.