Monday, 18 September 2017

IT (2017)

In a small town in Maine, seven children known as The Losers Club come face to face with life problems, bullies and a monster that takes the shape of a clown called Pennywise.

The horror is so over the top in this movie I didn’t find it scary — although there were plenty of people in the cinema who did! The children are excellent in their roles all putting in solid performances, especially Sophia Lillis, who plays Beverley Marsh. She has one of the most demanding roles given the dark subject matter of her fear. The best parts of this movie are those where the children are not actually involved in the scary stuff. Entertaining with a good message about facing fears with the support of friends.


Saturday, 16 September 2017

MOTHER!

A couple's relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence.

The movie description above is a complete understatement! MOTHER! will divide viewers with -- you will either love it or hate it. I’m down toward the love end of the continuum. But how to describe it? I've never seen anything like it before. At the end of the movie I breathed WTF?! and sat with so many thoughts going through my head. The story is essentially about the way women often live in the shadow of “great” men and the way women have the life sucked out of them by the male’s egocentrism. The way this idea is portrayed is creepy, mind blowing, shocking, dazzling, dramatic, thrilling, comedic, complex, serious, mysterious and has to be experienced to be believed. Jennifer Lawrence is brilliant, as is the rest of the cast. Michelle Pfeiffer is excellent as her and Lawrence's character (no one in the film is ever named) experience spiralling tension. This is one hell of a movie and definitely lived up to whatever ambiguous expectations I had from the trailers. It is not perfect, however. The director, Darren Aranofsky, is unrestrained and the last third of the movie goes completely over the top without the subtlety of the first two-thirds — to the detriment of the overall package. If it hadn’t been for this, it would have been a five star movie, for me. It is, by no means perfect, but it is provocative and controversial. If you see it, you will have to decide for yourself whether it is a good movie or not!


Wednesday, 13 September 2017

THE KING’S CHOICE

On 9 April 1940, German soldiers arrive in the city of Oslo. The King of Norway faces a choice that will change his country forever. The King's Choice is a story about the three most dramatic days in Norway's history, the royal family's escape and King Haakon's difficult choice after Nazi Germany's invasion of Norway.

A fascinating story that I knew nothing about until seeing this movie. I found it riveting even though it was a little slow. It’s genuinely suspenseful, very well acted, and intelligent script, an impeccably directed. If you are looking for a different sort of movie about WWII, check it out.


GIRLS TRIP

When four lifelong friends travel to New Orleans for the annual Essence Festival, sisterhoods are rekindled, wild sides are rediscovered, and there's enough dancing, drinking, brawling, and romancing to make the Big Easy blush.

Unbearably bad movie. Yet another movie about people behaving badly. It’s crude and gross and designed to shock (and, rarely, amuse). While there is a message about the importance of friends, there’s got to be a less formulaic way of communicating it.


Friday, 8 September 2017

GIFTED

Frank, a single man raising his child prodigy niece Mary, is drawn into a custody battle with his mother.

The standout actor in this pleasantly entertaining drama is McKenna Grace - she makes this one worth seeing. The movie, generally, does not come up to the qualities she brings to her part. But it’s a pleasant, if formulaic, story that is made to increase the feel-good factor for audiences. Predictable but charming crowd pleaser.


Thursday, 7 September 2017

47 METRES DOWN

Two sisters vacationing in Mexico are trapped in a shark cage at the bottom of the ocean. With less than an hour of oxygen left and great white sharks circling nearby, they must fight to survive.

This was a tense movie. Like a lot of shark attack movies, the setup for the central action is pretty contrived. But once the two women are on the bottom of the ocean I spent most of the movie on the edge of my seat. Mandy Moore and Claire Holt do an excellent job of acting terrified and the direction of the action is spot on. Everything looks very real! It’s smart and you will have very few fingernails left when it’s over.


Wednesday, 30 August 2017

THE LOST CITY OF Z

At the dawn of the 20th century, British explorer Percy Fawcett journeys into the Amazon, where he discovers evidence of a previously unknown, advanced civilisation that may have once inhabited the region. Despite being ridiculed by the scientific establishment, which views indigenous populations as savages, the determined Fawcett, supported by his devoted wife, son, and aide-de-camp, returns to his beloved jungle in an attempt to prove his case.

An interesting story about an interesting man who sacrificed everything for his obsession. The cinematography and acting are good and the indigenous people are excellent. But it is way too long. Rather than feeling exciting and engaging, it feels more like a plodding telling of the facts. It could have been a lot better than it is.


Friday, 25 August 2017

AMERICAN MADE

The true story of pilot Barry Seal, who transported contraband for the CIA and the Medellin cartel in the 1980s.

The fact that this movie is based on a true story makes it intriguing and worth watching even if it might not be completely true to the facts (I’ve no way of telling). Tom Cruise does a very watchable job of the main character, Barry Seal, and there are some pretty incredible moments of high tension. It felt a bit long and there was perhaps a bit too much of Seal flying his plane back and forth. Worth seeing, though.


MADAME

Adding a little spice to a waning marriage, Anne and Bob, a wealthy and well-connected American couple, move into a manor house in romantic Paris. While preparing a particularly luxurious dinner for sophisticated international friends, our hostess discovers there are 13 guests. Panic-stricken, Anne insists her loyal maid Maria disguise herself as a mysterious Spanish noble woman to even out the numbers. But a little too much wine and some playful chat lead Maria to accidentally endear herself to a dandy British art broker. Their budding romance will have Anne chasing her maid around Paris and finally plotting to destroy this most unexpected and joyous love affair.

Enjoyed the first half of this movie — it’s witty and fun. But about two thirds in, it loses its way and is ultimately unsatisfying. Acting is good and the cinematography of Paris is excellent. It is a shame the great script writing of the first half of the movie isn’t sustained all the way through. Overall, it’s ok — but that’s all.


Wednesday, 23 August 2017

THE DARK TOWER

The last Gunslinger, Roland Deschain, has been locked in an eternal battle with Walter O'Dim, also known as the Man in Black, determined to prevent him from toppling the Dark Tower, which holds the universe together. With the fate of the worlds at stake, good and evil will collide in the ultimate battle as only Roland can defend the Tower from the Man in Black.

I didn’t mind this action fantasy based on a series of books by Stephen King (which I haven’t read but understand are much better than this movie). Matthew McConaughey, Idris Alba (who is very cool), and Tom Taylor all put in reasonable performances. There’s some great visual effects but there’s little emotion or substantial character development. It’s pretty clichéd stuff but ok for a bit of escapism.


Monday, 21 August 2017

LOGAN LUCKY

Trying to reverse a family curse, brothers Jimmy and Clyde Logan set out to execute an elaborate robbery during the legendary Coca-Cola 600 race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Dry humour and a plodding script. I was pretty bored with this until, at the end, I looked back to see how clever the plot actually was. It was hard work getting there, though.


Saturday, 19 August 2017

VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS

In the 28th century, Valerian and Laureline are special operatives charged with keeping order throughout the human territories. On assignment from the Minister of Defence, the two undertake a mission to Alpha, an ever-expanding metropolis where species from across the universe have converged over centuries to share knowledge, intelligence, and cultures. At the centre of Alpha is a mysterious dark force which threatens the peaceful existence of the City of a Thousand Planets, and Valerian and Laureline must race to identify the menace and safeguard not just Alpha, but the future of the universe.

Entertaining enough with plenty of spectacular special effects, extraordinary creatures, and exciting set pieces. Unfortunately,  the plot is pretty thin and it is tonally much the same all the way through. The chemistry between the two leads isn’t there. Cara Delevingne (who plays Laureline) puts in a slightly better performance than Dane DeHaan (who plays Valerian). Overall, beautiful but not completely satisfying.


Sunday, 13 August 2017

WIND RIVER

An FBI agent teams with a town's veteran game tracker to investigate a murder that occurred on a Native American reservation.

I really enjoyed this intelligent, crime mystery. Renner and Olsen make a good partnership as they try to solve the mystery of a young Native American girl who has gone missing, trying to deal with the people living in an isolated, dead end community and the inhospitable landscape. If you like Scandinavian-style crime, you’ll like this one. Chilling.


Saturday, 12 August 2017

THE BIG SICK

Pakistan-born comedian Kumail Nanjiani and grad student Emily Gordon fall in love but struggle as their cultures clash. When Emily contracts a mysterious illness, Kumail finds himself forced to face her feisty parents, his family's expectations, and his true feelings.

One of the better romantic comedies to hit our screens in recent times. Wasn’t has hard-edged as I think it could have been, but it shows that there’s some life left in this genre. Kumail Nanjiani plays himself and Zoe Kazan, who plays Emily Gordon, the love interest, are both great as they navigate their cross-cultural relationship that causes ripples of tension throughout Kumail’s family. Ray Romano brings his brilliant comedic sensibilities as the father of Emily and he and Kumail work well off of each other. This is a charming movie that will have wide appeal and, the fact that it a true story, makes it even more appealing. A much better take on a “meet the parents moment” than that “other” one.


Wednesday, 9 August 2017

ATOMIC BLONDE



An undercover MI6 agent is sent to Berlin during the Cold War to investigate the murder of a fellow agent and recover a missing list of double agents.
James Bond, eat your heart out! Charlize Theron is thoroughly entertaining as Lorraine Broughton, the atomic blonde of the title. Theron has incredible screen presence and is completely believable in a highly physical role fighting baddies. It's a very stylish movie, very violent (think John Wick), superb '80s soundtrack, with top-notch effects and action sequences (Therone does her own stunts, apparently). The fight scenes actually look real! Lorraine is better than Bond - she doesn't need clever gadgets to get by. She's tough and beautiful. David Leitch, who directs ATOMIC BLONDE, was the co-director of the first John Wick movie and it shows here. (It also serves as a warning for those who are averse to violence in their movies.) The spy story is pretty simplistic but with stunning visuals and acting, it is a totally engaging piece of fun entertainment. Let's hope this atomic blonde is back for more soon!




Tuesday, 8 August 2017

A GHOST STORY

Recently deceased, a white-sheeted ghost returns to his suburban home to console his bereft wife, only to find that in his spectral state he has become unstuck in time, forced to watch passively as the life he knew and the woman he loves slowly slip away.

Had potential but too clever for its own good. Very repetitious and having a person walking around with a sheet over their head for the whole movie was a bit tedious. Didn’t do it for me.


Monday, 31 July 2017

WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES

Caesar and his apes are forced into a deadly conflict with an army of humans led by a ruthless Colonel. After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind. As the journey finally brings them face to face, Caesar and the Colonel are pitted against each other in an epic battle that will determine the fate of both their species and the future of the planet.

A fine conclusion to the trilogy. The apes are so authentic and there’s lots of drama and action. The story is interesting and it has important things to say about human identity. The set pieces are awesome but there are also some excellent, intimate moments that are very moving. The story always stays at the forefront of the film. I’m sorry to see this series end. Make sure you catch it on the big screen at a cinema. I think this trilogy is destined to be enduring. Some time, it will be worth going back and binge watching all three!


Wednesday, 26 July 2017

PARIS CAN WAIT

A woman at a crossroads traveling to Cannes along with her successful film producer husband, finds herself on a two-day road trip with his business associate. What follows is a carefree journey replete with diversions involving picturesque sites, fine food and wine, humour, wisdom and romance - reawakening Anne's senses and a new lust for life.

Billed as a comedy drama romance, it was neither funny, dramatic, or romantic. A man and a woman travelling together who stop and eat, sleep, drive, stop, eat, sleep, drive with just an occasional hint of what could have been possible if this movie had been made by a good director with a half-decent script. A bland, monotonous, soulless exercise that would have been interesting if it lived up to a small percentage of what the synopsis promised. About the only thing of any interest was the scenery.


Saturday, 22 July 2017

DUNKIRK

Allied soldiers from Belgium, the British Empire and France are surrounded by the German army and evacuated during a fierce battle in World War II.

I had high expectations for this movie. The trailers looked great. It was disappointing. The music was loud, constant, and overbearing to the point you couldn’t hear the noises of the actual weapons. It was emotionally unengaging. There were some big set pieces but they seemed “staged” and the personal stories seemed disjointed and out of sync with the bigger story. Except for a few words at the beginning of the movie, there was almost no context for what was happening. It seemed as though the director was trying really hard to make this a blockbuster with heart but it didn’t work. Compared to movies like Hacksaw Ridge or Saving Private Ryan, Dunkirk left me mostly bored. The best thread in the story was the fighter pilots and there were some good performances and a few moments of awe — none of which compensated for a noisy, disjointed, mildly entertaining screenplay. I guess you can tell I didn’t like it.


Sunday, 16 July 2017

THE BEGUILED

The unexpected arrival of a wounded Union soldier at a girls' school in Virginia during the American Civil War leads to jealousy and betrayal.
Beautifully filmed and very well acted. Nicole Kidman, Kristen Dunst, and Elle Fanning all do an excellent job of their respective roles. For me, Colin Farrell was the weakest character. While the movie was technically excellent, it didn't seem as intense as it should have been. Interesting but not emotionally engaging or substantial enough. Check out the 1971 version if you can find it.


Thursday, 13 July 2017

IT COMES AT NIGHT


Secure within a desolate home as an unnatural threat terrorizes the world, a man has established a tenuous domestic order with his wife and son, but this will soon be put to test when a desperate young family arrives seeking refuge.

A very strange movie. Very eerie and unsettling. You never see what the IT of the title is and, like the characters in the story, we as viewers are kept in the dark about the larger context of what is going on. It's like we are isolated in the house with the family. Unfortunately, the movie feels a bit too smart for its own good - a bit too "arty" - which detracts from the tension and suspense. This movie will not be for everyone - especially if you like a straightforward narrative that resolves everything by the time it's finished.

Monday, 10 July 2017

SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING

Peter Parker, with the help of his mentor Tony Stark, tries to balance his life as an ordinary high school student in New York City while fighting crime as his superhero alter ego Spider-Man when a new threat emerges.

If you are tired of superhero movies, SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING might just be what you need. It’s great fun with a fresh storyline and doesn’t take itself too seriously — always a good sign in a movie like this. Tom Holland does a great job of Peter Parker/Spider-Man. It moves along at a great pace, there’s some good special effects, but, most of all, the story is actually interesting. This could be the best Spider-Man film so far — you actually care about the characters and it’s more than just a superhero movie. And the villain is refreshing (if one can say that of a villain). Great entertainment.


Sunday, 9 July 2017

BABY DRIVER

After being coerced into working for a crime boss, a young getaway driver finds himself taking part in a heist doomed to fail.

Lots of fun, very fast paced, lots of action, car chases, funny, there’s romance, a great soundtrack, good acting, smart dialogue. Just about everything you need in a movie. Even with all that, I didn’t find it entirely satisfying and the ending is nowhere near as good as it starts out.


Saturday, 8 July 2017

MONSIEUR CHOCOLAT (Also known as, Chocolat. French with English subtitles)

The rise and fall of the famous clown Chocolat, the first black circus performer who revolutionised the stagnant circus acts and conquered Paris of the Belle Époque with his exuberance and originality.

A fascinating story of which I knew nothing. Well acted, good script, and a tragic story arc. There are moments when we, as an audience, are provoked to think about why we find certain things funny. Omar Sy, does an outstanding portrayal of the main character, Chocolat (his real name was Rafael Padilla). James Thiérrée (Charlie Chaplin’s grandson!) plays the other clown in the duo, George Footit.  It’s a good, solid, satisfying piece of storytelling.


Sunday, 2 July 2017

CATCH-UP RATINGS

THE SENSE OF AN ENDING - A man becomes haunted by his past and is presented with a mysterious legacy that causes him to re-think his current situation in life. ****

NERUDA - An inspector hunts down Nobel Prize-winning Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda, who becomes a fugitive in his home country in the late 1940s for joining the Communist Party. **1/2

NORMAN - Norman Oppenheimer is a small time operator who befriends a young politician at a low point in his life. Three years later, when the politician becomes an influential world leader, Norman's life dramatically changes for better and worse. ***1/2

UNA - When a young woman unexpectedly arrives at an older man's workplace, looking for answers, the secrets of the past threaten to unravel his new life. Their confrontation will uncover buried memories and unspeakable desires. It will shake them both to the core. ****

THE COUNTRY DOCTOR - All the people in this countryside area, can count on Jean-Pierre, the doctor who auscultates them, heals and reassures them day and night, 7 days a week. Now Jean-Pierre is sick, so he sees Natalie, a young doctor, coming from the hospital to assist him. But will she adapt to this new life and be able to replace the man that believed to be irreplaceable? ***

OKJA - Meet Mija, a young girl who risks everything to prevent a powerful, multi-national company from kidnapping her best friend - a massive animal named Okja. ***

See you at the movies!

LADY MACBETH

Set in 19th century rural England, a young bride who has been sold into marriage to a middle-aged man discovers an unstoppable desire within herself as she enters into an affair with a worker on her estate.

As one of the the poster says, imagine if Alfred Hitchcock directed Withering Heights. Says it perfectly. It’s a movie based on a Russian novel which is based on a book which is based on Shakespeare. Don’t let that put you off. It’s perfectly directed, superbly acted. There’s drama, romance, and gothic noir. It’s a gritty, raw period drama. Every frame of this movie is riveting. Even though it is set in the 19th century, it has quite a bit to say about race and gender relations and feels quite contemporary. Unnervingly excellent.