REVIEWs

Whiplash


MOVIES I SHOULD HAVE WATCHED AGES AGO…

Andrew Neiman is an ambitious young jazz drummer, single-minded in his pursuit to rise to the top of his elite east coast music conservatory. Plagued by the failed writing career of his father, Andrew hungers day and night to become one of the greats. Terence Fletcher, an instructor equally known for his teaching talents as for his terrifying methods, leads the top jazz ensemble in the school. Fletcher discovers Andrew and transfers the aspiring drummer into his band, forever changing the young man’s life. Andrew’s passion to achieve perfection quickly spirals into obsession, as his ruthless teacher continues to push him to the brink of both his ability – and his sanity.

 Whiplash is written and directed by Damien Chazzelle,  who for all ranking and record keeping is my favorite writer and director for the time being.
Why? His balance of style and substance is so well mastered that the well crafted direction keeps you focusing on the story, embellishing it at every turn.

Watching Miles Teller dissappear down the 🐰 rabbit hole in pursuit of genius if even remotely possible is interesting to watch. JK Simmons is the pressure that forces diamonds out of Miles Teller’ character, or rather motivates him to.

Watching the two ping pong back and forth as the stakes raised and boundaries are crossed is some really watchable cinema. The type you can rewatchable again just to recapture a moment or witness a truly awesome scene. 

The film is comprised of scenes like this slotted alongside each other with some very steady pacing. The synopsis says Teller’ charter’ pursuit begins to change him. While true I would have liked to see more of that in the relationship department. Melissa Benoit isn’t savagely underused but the film I believe was going for potency as the only relationship that really has any gravity to our protagonist is that he shares with his mentor, for better or worse.

Here lies the heart off the film; is he truly better of for being mentored by this teacher to end all teachers-is there a prodigy arising from the ashes of the young man he used to be? or is he simply to naive to see that his abusive musical 🎶  mentor is not fit to teach? Or interestingly still, perhaps it’s both. 🤔🤔🤔

By the end of the film you’ll be asking the same questions or answering them definitively.  One thing is certain; this is great cinema with a simple but captivating story set to the tune of some foot tapping  jazz🎺 . 

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Standard
REVIEWs

Birdman


MOVIES I SHOULD HAVE WATCHED AGES AGO

Former cinema superhero Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) is mounting an ambitious Broadway production that he hopes will breathe new life into his stagnant career. It’s risky, but he hopes that his creative gamble will prove that he’s a real artist and not just a washed-up movie star. As opening night approaches, a castmate is injured, forcing Riggan to hire an actor (Edward Norton) who is guaranteed to shake things up. Meanwhile, Riggan must deal with his girlfriend, daughter and ex-wife.

Birdman directorial masterclass by Aleandro Inarritu whose direction in the movie is the showcase that allows the cast to shine in ways we’ve never seen before.

The themes here about Hollywood abound and it’s no wonder it won so many awards; the execution is so well done, it’s never too on the nose. It’s both star and accessory to the actors and actresses, stars in their own right.

Many of the cast get to shine. Zach Galifianakis  get the opportunity to show great range in a dramatic turn like we’ve never seen from him before even if it’s tinted with humour, it comes about organically. Emma Stone does well with her role and sinks her teeth in, you buy her character. Andrea Riseborough gives an equally great performance. The story is centered on characters, and these characters are memorable and watchable,  you want to spend more time with her.

The film’s theme is simple- It’s blockbuster versus indie movie, the silver screen versus theatre, actor  versus celebrity. Riggan is a real actor who happens to be a celebrity after starring in a wildly popular comic movie triology. He walked away from Birdman 4 in attempt to step out of the shadow of the blockbuster ever since in a pursuit for more artistic endeavours to prove he isn’t just a celebrity but an actor.

What follows is a brilliant film about actors, actresses,  directors, the work-life balance of these artists and everything in-between. 

Bird🐦 👨 Man is incredibly enjoyable, rewatchable and no doubt an instant classic that has set new directorial precedents. This film arrives when the comic book movie has hit it’s stride with actors and actresses (some with a few acting awards 🎭 🏆) hoping to get a call 📞 from a Comic Book Studio to be part of a growing cinematic universe…perhaps a professional compromise has arisen? Perhaps you can have both-great dramatic acting roles to sate hungry casts and blockbusters to satisfy action movie buffs.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Standard
REVIEWs

Rouge One:A Star Wars Story


All looks lost for the Rebellion against the Empire as they learn of the existence of a new super weapon, the Death Star. Once a possible weakness in its construction is uncovered, the Rebel Alliance must set out on a desperate mission to steal the plans for the Death Star. The future of the entire galaxy now rests upon its success.

Spoilers.
Hyperbole aside, this film’s finale is the crowning glory of one of the best films of 2016. Period. The ending alone is worth the price of admission. The film as a whole is like a puzzle piece missing from an almost complete jigsaw with one space left for it- it fits into the Star Wars mythology seamlessly. 

The film presents a roster of interesting characters that are banded together  as part of the Rebellion to stop the rise of the Empire before all hope is lost. 

Jyn Erso,  our main protagonist is daughter of the talented Engineer, Galen Erso who is called upon to build a weapon of incredible destruction. 

The premise is simple, if the rebels can get the plans back from the Empire then they have a fighting chance. It’s not the plot necessarily that’s so great about this movie, but the characters journey to attempt achieving that goal.

This is story about characters, the sorrows of war and how far people will go to have their freedom. It’s a fantastic expositional feast that shows rather than tells and this is how we feel and form connections with the characters because we’ve been on the journey with them. This in turn makes the stakes even higher.

This is a very human story told within the shell of a science fictional universe and the power of the story. The cast can’t be praised higher. Several moments are emotionally charged and pulls you into the centre of the conflict playing out.

This is why when the final act takes place, it’s exhilarating,  emotional, suspenseful, tense and action packed, the entire film, benefiting from impeccable pacing and a script that didn’t waste time with diologue-heavy exposition, a flaw it’s predecessors have been guilty of every now and then.

This film’s special effects are faultless and clever-set locations blending convincingly with CGI. Speaking of CGI, the CGI people in the film are so very well done, I won’t spoil it by saying who these ‘people’ are.

The soundtrack is very well done, a departure from John Williams but comfortably within the realm of Star Wars. It does what a soundtrack needs to do -adding to intensity and heightening emotional moments.

This film all in all is incredibly rewatchable which is perfect since it’s designed to slot into a series and answer an incredible question Star Wars fans have been asking for years; why does the Death Star have a thermal exhaust port?

Best Film 2016 â­â­â­â­â­🏆🙌

 

Standard
REVIEWs

Masterminds 



Set in the year 1997, David Scott Ghantt (Zach Galifianakis) thought being an armored car driver would be a dream come true. He discovers that it’s pretty boring stuff, and he often fantasizes about getting robbed. Everything changes when he meets Kelly Campbell (Kristen Wiig), a new employee at his bank, Loomis Fargo.
Filled with absolute hilarity this film is a fun time. Zach Galifianakis and Kristen Wig convey an honest romance amidst this absolute slapstick adventure of a movie. 

Owen Wilson who usually plays loveable rouges or good guys is a baddie in this and it’s hilarious. 😂 Jason Sudekis  is equally if not more frenetic and the silly jokes keep coming all the way to the climax.

An argument can be made that the  brilliant comedic cast was wasted on a mediocre script.  The film is a fun time but with a better script could have been even better even if based loosely on true events.

The film has a theme of integrity running through it, Zach’ character, is a genuinely good person, full of integrity and his straight and narrowness influences Kristen Wigs character and ultimately his saving grace.

Overall a fun movie, with quick wit and hilarious slapstick. Not for everyone but great in it own right.

⭐⭐⭐

Standard
REVIEWs

Trolls


This film had the potential to be a big let down but instead was not only enjoyable but had some intriguing indepth insights into happiness.

This kids film handles a very complex adult theme in a way that kids can understand and learn from making the songs, animation quality and stellar voice cast, the second greatest thing about it.

Justin Timberlake plays Branch and Anna Kendrick plays Poppy. The synopsis reads as follows,

After the Bergens invade Troll Village, Poppy (Anna Kendrick), the happiest Troll ever born, and the overly-cautious, curmudgeonly Branch (Justin Timberlake) set off on a journey to rescue her friends. Their mission is full of adventure and mishaps, as this mismatched duo try to tolerate each other long enough to get the job done


Poppy finds Branch’ gloominess surprising and sad while Branch finds Poppy annoyingly unaware of the realities of life. This is the main and actual conflict of the movie. The vehicles that drive this plot to get these two working together and set the film in motion is simply extra sub plot but by no means boring or lazy.
Bergens, the Trolls’ ugly neighbours, can experience happiness for a brief period if they eat a Troll. They loved this revelation so much they make a tradition out of it once a year called “Trollstace “.

With the Trolls’ home tree trapped under a cage in the Centre of Burgen town all hope seems lost until King peppy,  King of the trolls, executes a plan that frees them, leading them to a new life in relative safety until one day a Burgen comes a knocking and kidnaps a whole bunch because why not?

This is the set up for Branch and Poppy’ story and it’s a great watch.  There’s much to love about this,  the music is actually very good,  surprisingly so, then again when you have Gwen Stefani, Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick in your voice cast it’s hard not to come up with good songs.

Christopher Beck is composer in this film and with credit like Ant-man, Frozen sing along, The peanuts Movie and Paperman, it’s not hard to see why he’s leading this musical ensemble. When the talented voice cast isn’t singing, Christopher’s compositions slot into the movie and get the job done.

Trolls is an injection 💉 of happiness 🙂 and colour and both kids and adults will have a good time. The Trolls try to get the Bergens to find their happiness another way…which makes me think…do the Bergens have a drug problem? 💭 Hmm. They eat trolls to make them feel happy… was this movie subliminally telling kids not to do drugs through metaphor 😱😱😱😱MIND-BLOWN!!!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Standard
REVIEWs

Jason Bourne


Matt Damon returns in an organic follow up to the sensational trilogy.

First off I think it’s important to state that if you go in to this wanting this to be a Bond movie you’ll be thoroughly disappointed.

What do I mean by that?  A good number of  explosions💥,  lots of action set pieces and naked /semi-naked women and a compulsory sex scene- these are not present in Matt Damon’ return.

This film is a slow burning suspenseful action spy thriller with enough within its story to keep you guessing and enough action and suspense to keep you pumped.

The slow burn adds to the climatic thrid of the film where the well organised pacing pays off. This is in many ways identical in pacing to the spy thriller genre  paradigm found in most novels📚.  I was impressed at how well the paradigm made the jump from book to screen adaption because some tropes don’t wotk out so well in film adaptation so this was a great success which keeps the film layered, the characters intelligently motivated and the intricate plot unwinding at a healthy speed.

Jason Bourne is a fleshed out established character and is given more history for us to learn and as we go on the journey with him to learn more, it is never forceful or disingenuous but grounded in realism and earned.

They have a lot to do but Alicia Vikander and Tommy Lee Jones are stand outs in this. Dastardly and believable, Tommy Lee Jones is especially brilliant even if he plays an absolute barstard in the movie #notaspoiler 😂 

Julia Stiles is great and works well with Matt Damon. Vincent Castle is a killing machine but when the throw down happens, he comes across as inferior but perhaps that’s the point. Riz Ahmed is also great and does well to put you in his shoes you empathize with him throughout. 

The soundtrack is subtle and subdued and never really heightens the spectacle the way say a Bond soundtrack does where it’s almost an accompanying character in and of it self. That being said, it’s subtleness is welcome in many stretches of the film because it never draws focus from the scenes, inadvertently accentuating their realism.

Jason Bourne, overall,  is a welcome addition to the Bourne mythology,  an organic continuation of events, clever and believeable  within its fictional universe, rooted in real world problems and realities to enhance it’s relatability. The commentary of social media being used as another avenue for intelligence agencies to exploit for their uses and supposedly for our safety is a very current theme in our fast paced information age. Spectre, the latest bond film, talks about exactly that just from a different angle and makes this film all the more welcome into the conversation about how much freedom we surrender in the name of security. 

All in all this is a well paced intelligent action thriller, with a great cast and current themes.

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Standard
REVIEWs

Justice League Dark


Introduction

When the new 52 generation of comics happened after Flashpoint  ie when DC comics kept their best selling 52 comic book lines and scrapped the rest using their comic book character The Flash in an all-encompassing story line as a fantastic reset, the stage was set to start again without the baggage of incredibly convoluted comic book narratives interweaving like spider webs. The idea behind the reboot was brought about not only to clear house but with the intention of winning a fresh audience and a wider  demographic-more readers equals more money.

The new 52 did incredibly well and DC took the opportunity to introduce new interpretations of old characters and introduce new ones along with new teams. Of those teams Justice League Dark was one. The new 52 absorbed characters such as Constantine from their other comic label in an attempt to win over their cult following in the process. While quite a few diehard followers didn’t take to the change many loved it nonetheless and DC responded by rewarding Constantine with his very own team. Justice League Dark is a very engaging comic book that allows for even more commentary on the human condition,  morality and the good old debate about good, evil and the sea of grey inbetween. 

The new 52′ Justice League animations are arguably better than the comic books they’re based off which is a rare feat they seem to be able to repeat consistently.  Justice League Dark is no different.

REVIEW

The Justice League Dark film puts Constantine front and centre with Matt Ryan from the short lived live action series reprising his role as the loveable conman sorcerer. 

The Batman features in this movie but never highjacks the feature, he accentuates it by being a foil to the mystic goings on.

All members of the team bring something to the table, with interesting back story and believable camaraderie and chemistry which can sometimes be hard to convey in an animation but the script and the voice actors were more than up to the task. 

The fight scenes are still exceptionally well written and illustrated without being tedious and repetitive,  they’re surprising, creative and adventurous.

The script holds the same quality, tight, funny, and full of idiosyncrasies that flesh out the characters and give them motivations.

The main theme in the narrative is all about control; Zatana, controlling her power and her feelings for Constantine,  Constantine’ friend losing control,  Jason Blood and his constant battle for control of Etrigan and Batman of course,  the cynic, the scientist, out of his element  -because magic. Even the Justice League lose control and it makes for great action rooted in a solid plot.Watching this unravel in a good story is very thought provoking and entertaining all at once.

If this is a template for the Justice League Dark movie we have much to look forward to!

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Standard