Tuesday, 31 January 2017

MOONLIGHT

A timeless story of human self-discovery and connection, Moonlight chronicles the life of a young black man from childhood to adulthood as he struggles to find his place in the world while growing up in a rough neighborhood of Miami. --IMDB

A significant story given that we don’t see many movies made about gay black men. Comes across as very authentic. Superbly acted by all four actors who play Chiron and the direction is approached with sensitivity. Also great that, for once, it does not exploit black people or gay people or stereotype them. Well done.


Wednesday, 25 January 2017

SPLIT

Three girls are kidnapped by a man with a diagnosed 23 distinct personalities, and must try and escape before the apparent emergence of a frightful new 24th. —IMDB

The tour de force performance of James McAvoy, as the man suffering from dissociative identity disorder (DID), makes SPLIT worth watching. It’s an Oscar-worthy performance. The story itself is fairly predictable except for the final climax that takes an interesting twist. After that twist, the epilogue didn’t do much for me. Definitely worth a trip to the cinema to see McAvoy, though!


Saturday, 21 January 2017

LION

A five-year-old Indian boy gets lost on the streets of Calcutta, thousands of kilometers from home. He survives many challenges before being adopted by a couple in Australia; 25 years later, he sets out to find his lost family. —IMDB

Uneven. The first act, set in India, is superb and deeply affecting. The cinematography, editing, and soundtrack of this part is excellent and gripping. Sunny Pawar, who plays the young Saroo, is brilliant. The second half, set in Australia, doesn't feel authentic and falls flat and would have been wasted if it hadn't been for Dev Patel's complex and powerful performance as the older Saroo. Nicole Kidman and David Wenham, the adoptive parents, are the weakest actors in the movie. Overall, worth seeing for the very special first part.


Monday, 16 January 2017

ROSALIE BLUM (French with subtitles)

Vincent Machot knows his life by heart. He shares it between his hair dressing salon, his cousin, his cat, and his too-invasive mother. But life sometimes holds surprises, even for the most prudent of people... He crosses paths with Rosalie Blum by accident. She is a mysterious and solitary woman whom he is sure he has already met. But where? Intrigued, he decides to follow her everywhere, in the hope of knowing more about her.

A charming film. Intriguing, full of surprises, and original. Good acting from all the cast and moves along at a gentle pace. Very enjoyable and keeps you guessing until the very last frame.


ASSASSIN’S CREED

When Callum Lynch explores the memories of his ancestor Aguilar and gains the skills of a Master Assassin, he discovers he is a descendant of the secret Assassins society. —IMDB

This game-derived movie is less interesting than the game. The movie looks good with the graphics reproducing the game’s environment and there are some good actors. But the movie is so boring … really just one fight scene after another. The premise of the movie and the themes of free will that are at the heart of the story would have been interesting if the makers hadn’t remained so slavish to the game. I guess there will be players of the game who might enjoy the movie. But for most of us, not worth the time or money. I was so glad when it finished.


Sunday, 15 January 2017

WHY HIM?

A holiday gathering threatens to go off the rails when Ned Fleming realizes that his daughter's Silicon Valley billionaire boyfriend is about to pop the question. —IMDB

A Meet the Parents for the 21st century. It was ok. Some funny moments. If you don’t like extremely coarse language and highly explicit sexual references, give this one a miss. The problem with this movie is that the whole thing is aiming to be outrageous for the sake of being outrageous. This means that there is very little depth or purpose to it — just as much shock value it can muster. And, of course, that wears off after awhile. It’s quite cliched and formulaic. It’s a shame, because there are some very good actors — James Franco (127 Hours), Bian Cranston (Breaking Bad), and Zoey Deutch (Vampire Academy). The script they are working with doesn’t match the quality of these actors. A disappointment.


Monday, 9 January 2017

SING

In a city of humanoid animals, a hustling theater impresario's attempt to save his theater with a singing competition becomes grander than he anticipates even as its finalists' find that their lives will never be the same. — IMDB

American Idol with animals. SING is a mediocre production compared to what we have become used to with animation in recent years. The plot is cliched and the music is unoriginal — I think most of the songs are covers. The animation is ok but at nearly two hours long, it quickly becomes boring. I’m sure there will be some kids out there who will love it, and there isn’t much on offer these holidays with a G rating for the little ones. So with simple characters and some music and dance thrown together, this could be a winner with the very young if they can survive the length. Uninspiring.


Wednesday, 4 January 2017

A UNITED KINGDOM

Prince Seretse Khama of Botswana causes an international stir when he marries a white woman from London in the late 1940s. —IMDB

A UNITED KINGDOM suffers from sanitisation. It’s all too nice to look at. The story itself is interesting and significant, but it’s all sweetly acted and oversimplified to the extent that it doesn’t have the emotional power a remarkable true story like this should have. There are a few worthy moments: the developing romance between Seretse (David Oyelowo) and Ruth (Rosamund Pike) is good, and the speeches made by Seretse to his people are moving. There are also some pretty tense moments between Seretse and British government officials that are jaw-dropping. incredible. A UNITED KINGDOM is worth seeing, but it is all a bit too nice and cosy to have a lasting impact.


ALLIED

In 1942, a Canadian intelligence officer in North Africa encounters a female French Resistance fighter on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. When they reunite in London, their relationship is tested by the pressures of war. —IMDB

Plodding, too long, laborious to watch and very little variation in tone across the whole movie. Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard don’t have much chemistry going on between them so it’s a bit challenging to believe they’re really in love with each other. Cotillard’s acting is slightly better than Pitt’s — Pitt’s is pretty wooden throughout as if he is just acting by the numbers. The cinematography is good and comes close to recreating the feel of the old classic spy movies, if only the actors and director were as good. With the people involved, it should have been a lot better. There are some pretty inauthentic situations, for example the sex scene inside a tiny car in a major dust storm on top of a sand dune — I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t have survived or would have needed digging out. Lots of cliches and the ending is underwhelming. Overall, a very average movie.


Sunday, 1 January 2017

PASSENGERS

 A spacecraft traveling to a distant colony planet and transporting thousands of people has a malfunction in its sleep chambers. As a result, two passengers are awakened 90 years early. —IMDB

Three actors carry this enjoyable, thought-provoking movie — Jennifer Lawrence (Aurora Lane), Chris Platt (Jim Preston), and Michael Sheen (the  android robot bartender, Arthur). While none of these seem like they are at the top of their game, they do a satisfying job of carrying the story and Lawrence and Pratt have some good chemistry. PASSENGERS is a combination of sci-fi, drama, thriller, romance — and a few other genres. It’s nearly two hours long which allows time for the relationship between Jim and Aurora to develop over the first half of the movie. Then the last half ramps up to be an on-the-edge-of-your-seat thriller. Lots of issues are subtly explored in PASSENGERS — ethics, the nature of being human, the need for human connection with other humans, betrayal, and much more. It would be possible to enjoy the movie without giving too much thought to these issues. But those observant enough to notice them will have an enhanced experience watching the movie. The director only uses special effects when needed — which is a relief and allows the story to take centre stage. My favourite special effects moment in the film is when Jennifer Lawrence’s character is caught under water in a swimming pool during the loss of gravity in the spacecraft. Loved it. The space cinematography is excellent and worth seeing on the big screen. Critics seem to be offering mixed reviews for this one and averaging pretty low in their ratings. I recommend ignoring them — I’m glad I did.