Monday, 30 May 2016

HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE

A national manhunt is ordered for a rebellious kid and his foster uncle who go missing in the wild New Zealand bush. —IMDB

Wonderful! This is a superb family film that is funny, touching, and thoroughly enjoyable. The New Zealand scenery is spectacular, the acting excellent with three-dimensional characters, and the story delightfully quirky. Great fun and a must see for everyone. Fresh and vibrant. Don’t miss it!


Sunday, 29 May 2016

JACK OF THE RED HEARTS

A teenage con artist tricks a desperate mother into hiring her as a live-in companion for her autistic daughter. —IMDB

What a surprise this little gem is. I knew nothing about it except for the description above from IMDB. When it started, I wondered what I was in for — the acting seemed a touch to forced and the script a bit cliched. But after a few minutes, I was totally engrossed. Taylor Richardson, who plays the autistic Glory is absolutely outstanding and Anna Sophia Robb, who plays Jack/Donna carries the movie with her strong acting abilities. This movie has real heart. It was moving and, from what I can tell, portrays the challenges of caring for an autistic child. Check it out.


THE NICE GUYS

A mismatched pair of private eyes investigate the apparent suicide of a fading porn star in 1970s Los Angeles. —IMDB

I had high hopes for this comedy crime action movie. With Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling teaming up, I thought this would be a winner. The trailers looked good, too. But it was disappointing. All the best moments are in the trailers and the rest of it is flat in tone. When the daughter of Ryan Gosling’s character (Australian, Angourie Rice) was introduced, it became quite difficult to watch at times as she is put into situations that no parent would allow for someone so young (13 yo). But she’s probably the best reason to see the film. Crowe and Gosling are worth seeing together and do their best with the material they’ve got but don’t seem to be trying that hard. An unsatisfying experience.


Saturday, 28 May 2016

YOUR GUIDE TO THIS WEEK'S NEW CINEMA RELEASES

Winter is coming ... So a good time to be curled up with good company in a cinema watching a good movie and nibbling on some comfort food.

TOP PICK


Top of the agenda to see this week is a New Zealand called HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE. A national manhunt is ordered for a rebellious kid and his foster uncle who go missing in the wild New Zealand bush. It's directed by Taika Waititi who previously brought us the brilliant Boy. It's already winning awards and critics are mostly positive in their reviews. The Film Stage's Jordan Raup reminds us that, 'Throughout his films, Waititi has always been skilled at melding comedy with trauma and crafting screenplays with crowdpleasing callbacks. Hunt for the Wilderpeople is another such example of amiable, kind-hearted storytelling.' People **** ◉ Critics ****

OTHERS TO SEE


THE NICE GUYS is a comedy action that A mismatched pair of private eyes investigate the apparent suicide of a fading porn star in 1970s Los Angeles. It's been hyped up and critics are generally favourable, but I was disappointed. I'll post my review soon. People **** ◉ Critics ***1/2 ◉ Me ***

MAYBE/MAYBE NOT


Alice is back in ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS. In this story, Alice returns to the whimsical world of Wonderland and travels back in time to save the Mad Hatter. Critics don't like this one and general viewers are rating it as average - although its popularity is growing. Hitfix's Drew McWeeny is infuriated. He says, 'I think it is precisely because the technical work by everyone from James Bobin down is so good that I find myself infuriated by the film. So much muscle, so much effort, so much raw talent on display, and all in service of demographic-and-merchandise-driven garbage that sullies the name of the source material.' People *** ◉ Critics *1/2

Finally, CHASING ASYLUM is a documentary that tells the story of Australia's cruel, inhumane treatment of asylum seekers and refugees, examining the human, political, financial and moral impact of current and previous policy. People ****

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

NOTE Movie summaries are adaptations of movie summary on IMDB. Opinions are mine unless credited. People and critics scores are a rough idea of how movies are currently being rated on the “average”. These updates are written from an Australian perspective so openings of the movies in cinemas may vary in other parts of the world.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

THE MEDDLER

An aging widow from New York City follows her daughter to Los Angeles in hopes of starting a new life after her husband passes away. —IMDB

A sweet movie starring Susan Sarandon (as the mother) and Rose Byrne (as the daughter). Lightweight but enjoyable. Sarandon and Byrne work well together, but the script could have delved more deeply into its theme of the way that generosity can give life purpose — and give one’s children some space! If you are looking for some easy watching, check it out.


Saturday, 21 May 2016

3D X-MEN: APOCALYPSE

 With the emergence of the world's first mutant, Apocalypse, the X-Men must unite to defeat his extinction level plan. --IMDB

What a disappointment X-MEN: APOCALYPSE is! I think this series has had its day. The start of the movie is pretty full on but the rest of it is dreary despite its special effects. The story is weak, the characters are weak, the whole thing is weak. The actors do a reasonable job of their performances, but the script is so cliched that even they can't make it interesting. The villain is also cliched and uninteresting. Oh, and the ending is just another destruction of a city. Don't waste your money.

 

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

BASTILLE DAY

A young con artist and former CIA agent embark on an anti-terrorist mission in France. —IMDB

The IMDB description is not quite right — it’s a young pickpocketer who joins with the CIA agent. During the first few minutes of BASTILLE DAY, I lost hope of a good movie. The acting seemed overplayed and stilted. But after a few minutes, the action got going in what turned out to be quite a good story with some nice twists and turns. It is pure entertainment and, if approached without expectations of something deep and meaningful, is thoroughly enjoyable. Idris Elba does the tough man really well and Richard Madden does a good job of the pickpocketer. The whole thing is earthy and unpolished in a nice way. The Paris setting which takes the viewer on a journey through some of its seedier parts is a pleasant change to the romantic tourist spots one usually gets. If you are looking for something where you can put your mind into neutral and go for a ride, check out BASTILLE DAY.


Tuesday, 17 May 2016

FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS


The story of Florence Foster Jenkins, a New York heiress who dreamed of becoming an opera singer, despite having a terrible singing voice. —IMDB

FLORENCE FOSTER JERKINS is the subject of two different movies showing in cinemas at the moment. The other one is a French film called Marguerite which departs somewhat from the historical facts. FLORENCE FOSTER JERKINS is a UK/France coproduction which provides a simplistic exposition of this completely deluded woman. What’s so intriguing is the way in which her husband and the society she moved in supported her delusion that she was a great singer. The story is entertaining on one level. But overall it is excessively comedic and superficial. Meryl Streep does a reasonable job singing badly. Hugh Grant puts in a surprisingly good turn and the supporting cast is ok. Overall, flat entertainment for the undemanding viewer.


Sunday, 15 May 2016

THE DIVERGENT SERIES: ALLEGIANT

After the earth-shattering revelations of Insurgent, Tris must escape with Four beyond the wall that encircles Chicago, to finally discover the shocking truth of the world around them. —IMDB

I’m going against the critics on this one — I quite enjoyed it. At times, the romance is a bit soppy, but the story makes up for that. I particularly liked the cool futuristic technology which I thought was quite innovative. There’s plenty of action and, if you liked the previous episodes of the Divergent series, I think you’ll appreciate this one.


BAD NEIGHBOURS 2: SORORITY RISING

After a sorority moves in next door, which is even more debaucherous than the fraternity before it, Mac and Kelly have to ask for help from their former enemy, Teddy. —IMDB

If you’ve seen the first Bad Neighbours, you’ll know how bad this one is going to be, although, Sorority Rising might just have a slightly better message. That doesn’t mean it’s worth watching! Some good actors are acting badly. I don’t quite get why the likes of ChloĆ« Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass) and Rose Byrne (X-Men: First Class) feel the need to make movies like this. It has to be money, surely. If you feel the need to watch the first episode recycled, then go for it. Otherwise, give it a miss.


WHISKY TANGO FOXTROT

A journalist recounts her wartime coverage in Afghanistan. --IMDB

This is an interesting movie starring comedian, Tina Fey, a journalist who travels to Afghanistan to escape her predictable life and boring boyfriend and becomes embroiled in the complex politics of war and relationships. It's not a great movie but it is good enough to take a look. At times, it is unclear whether the movie is meant to be a comedy or a drama. But, in my opinion, it is mostly some quite confronting drama with a thin layer of comedy varying in its quality. Some of the humour seems a bit forced and lame. There are far too many humping dogs! But in other moments the humour is ironic and satirical, raising issues about gender, culture and war. The writers could, perhaps, have made more of this. The story is uneven and, while one can appreciate the attempt to make a complex movie about the issues it portrays, it doesn't quite hit the target. It's as if the movie makers can't quite escape their own cultural perspective. In fact, the way they treat Afghani culture is pretty insensitive without much attempt to understand it from the inside. Tina Fey is quite good and some of the scenes she is in are sensitive and moving. Given that it is based on a true story, it could have been better.


Friday, 13 May 2016

NEW RELEASE DVD RECOMMENDATION - THE BIG SHORT

SUMMARY: Four denizens in the world of high-finance predict the credit and housing bubble collapse of the mid-2000s, and decide to take on the big banks for their greed and lack of foresight. —IMDB

MY REVIEW: THE BIG SHORT will not be for everyone. As it tells the story it has to try to convey complex financial topics to its audience making the movie very didactic. The writers have gone to rather bizarre and comedic lengths to get these concepts across to the viewers. For example, in one scene Margot Robbie, as herself, languishes in a bubble bath as she tells us all about mortgage securities. At times, the actors speak directly to the audience - in movie talk it's called breaking the fourth wall. But all of these antics make it very successful in communicating its key concepts and, for a dialogue-driven movie, there is an excellent feeling of suspense. The acting is certainly good (especially Steve Carell). If you watch this one, be ready to have to concentrate hard! Definitely worth the effort.


YOUR GUIDE TO THIS WEEK'S NEW CINEMA RELEASES

Pretty average options available this week for movies. And the top pick is only on limited release!

TOP PICK


GREEN ROOM is a crime horror thriller that is getting mostly positive reviews from the critics. After witnessing a murder, a punk rock band is forced into a vicious fight for survival against a group of maniacal skinheads. For CineVue’s John Bleasdale, it’s ‘Scary and funny by turns, [and] has the potential to become a cult hit, with a genuine midnight movie appeal, and furthers the growing reputation of this young director. People ***1/2 ◉ Critics ****

MAYBE/MAYBE NOT


Tina Fey stars in WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT as a journalist who recounts her wartime coverage in Afghanistan. It’s billed as a comedy/war film but there is more war than comedy. So don’t expect to be laughing for two-and-a-half hours. There are mixed reviews from the critics but the general public seem to enjoying it. The A.V. Club’s Jesse Hassenger says, ‘A movie like this doesn't require 30 Rock's joke density or silly streak, but it's surprising that Fey and Carlock's satirical eyes aren't a little more alert.’ People ***1/2 ◉ Critics ***. I didn’t mind it. I’ll post my review shortly.

THE FIRST MONDAY IN MAY is a documentary for all you fashion lovers out there. THE FIRST MONDAY IN MAY follows the creation of The Metropolitan Museum of Art's most attended fashion exhibition in history, "China: Through The Looking Glass," an exploration of Chinese-inspired Western fashions by Costume Institute curator Andrew Bolton. Screen International’s Wendy Ide says that, ‘From the earnest score to the breathless talking heads to the atmosphere of awestruck reverence, this is a film which takes itself every bit as seriously as its subjects.’ People **** ◉ Critics ***

REMEMBER is a movie with Holocaust themes. With the aid of a fellow Auschwitz survivor and a hand-written letter, an elderly man (Christopher Plummer) with dementia goes in search of the person responsible for the death of his family. Variety’s Guy Lodge describes it as, ‘Crafted in utilitarian fashion by Egoyan, Remember does little to earn the poignancy of Plummer's stricken performance.’ People ***1/2 ◉ Critics **1/2

BASTILLE DAY sees Idris Elba popping up onscreen again in this action drama in which a young con artist and former CIA agent embark on an anti-terrorist mission in France. For The Hollywood Reporter’s Leslie Felperin, ‘It ends up playing like a shoddy blend of V for Vendetta and Mr. Robot but without the budget bandwidth or style of either.’ People *** ◉ Critics **1/2

You’ve been watching the trailers for THE ANGRY BIRDS MOVIE for months! It’s finally here! But, sadly, it isn’t great. Find out why the birds are so angry. When an island populated by happy, flightless birds is visited by mysterious green piggies, it's up to three unlikely outcasts - Red, Chuck and Bomb - to figure out what the pigs are up to. Hear what Time Out London’s Tom Huddleston, says before you spend your money: ‘If you loved the game, you might enjoy watching the script contort itself into ever more zany shapes to incorporate the necessary elements: giant slings, teetering towers, boomeranging toucans. But it's not enough to counteract the tiresome, sub-Lego Movie snarkiness of the script or the bright, busy and unengaging animation.’ People *** ◉ Critics **

Finally, THE BOY is one you can see at your own risk. The plot line sounds very weak. An American nanny is shocked that her new English family's boy is actually a life-sized doll. After she violates a list of strict rules, disturbing events make her believe that the doll is really alive. Hmmm… Variety’s Joe Leydon says that, ‘Despite the assiduous grinding of plot mechanics by William Brent Bell (“The Devil Inside”) and scripter Stacey Menear, the movie never fully distracts its audience from the inherent silliness of its premise...and, as a result, is more likely to elicit laughs and rude remarks rather than screams and rooting interest.’ People *** ◉ Critics **

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

NOTE Movie summaries are adaptations of movie summary on IMDB. Opinions are mine unless credited. People and critics scores are a rough idea of how movies are currently being rated on the “average”. These updates are written from an Australian perspective so openings of the movies in cinemas may vary in other parts of the world.

Monday, 9 May 2016

HOW TO BE SINGLE

 There's a right way to be single, a wrong way to be single, and then...there's Alice. And Robin. Lucy. Meg. Tom. David. New York City is full of lonely hearts seeking the right match, be it a love connection, a hook-up, or something in the middle. And somewhere between the teasing texts and one-night stands, what these unmarrieds all have in common is the need to learn how to be single in a world filled with ever-evolving definitions of love. Sleeping around in the city that never sleeps was never so much fun. —IMDB

I didn't mind HOW TO BE SINGLE. Pity it wasn't around when I was! There was some good humour and a very significant message that every single person needs to hear. The weakest element in this movie is Rebel Wilson who's just does the same thing she always does. My favourite was Dakota Johnson who put in a moving, sensitive, subtly humorous performance. Good fun. And it actually treats women well! Check it out. Definitely one of the better movies in this genre. Recommend for 16+.
 
 

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

3D CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR

3D CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR  Political interference in the Avengers' activities causes a rift between former allies Captain America and Iron Man. --IMDB

This episode of Captain America is probably the best one so far -- but that doesn't mean it's a great movie -- it isn't. CIVIL WAR has a better story than previously but is too long. The acting was pretty average but that's all you need when you've got top-notch special effects and dramatic fun action sequences! There's not as much humour in this one so it is a bit darker and more serious than previous episodes. The problem is that it gets a bit "preachy" at times when it tackles some issues in an overly-obvious way. When there is action it is frequently too frenetic and jumpy. 3D quality is pretty good. While this is not a great movie it is entertaining enough.