So, haven’t done one of these for a while, but y’know, Christmas and all that.
Another prime example of why video games shouldn’t be made into movies. It doesn’t follow any of the game’s storyline to will annoy fans, and judged on its own term fails as a martial arts movie. You could see better fight scenes watching someone playing a Tekken game.
Delightful and spooky stop-motion animation that is a little overlong, but manages to get the tricky balance between being scary, funny, and family-friendly.
Rust and Bone
Director Jacques Audiard’s Follow up to ‘A Prophet’ charts the relationship that develops between a penniless young father and a killer whale trainer who’s been left wheelchair-bound. A film with some great moments but it doesn’t all gel together so well, particularly a last act scene that feels tacked on.
A writer’s creation comes to life in this fantasy comedy from the directors of ‘Little Miss Sunshine’. It’s very funny in places but also not afraid to explore the darker possibilities of its premise, and actually comes up with a satisfying conclusion to a potentially irresolvable situation.
In 1994, a young boy disappeared in Texas, three years later, he was reported found again in Spain. He was taken to America and reunited with his family. Except he wasn’t their real teenage son, he was a 23 year old Frenchman who had deliberately conned his way into a new life and fooled everyone. It’s the kind of story that might sound preposterous if it were a work of fiction, but it isn’t, and has to be seen to be believed. This outstanding documentary recreates this extraordinary story using a mixture of dramatic reconstructions, archive footage and talking head interviews. The main source is the imposter himself, who seemingly confesses his whole story to camera, explaining that he just ‘wanted to be someone else’. More questions are raised as the story progresses and twists in further surprising and fascinating directions.
A documentary as gripping as a top rate thriller.
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Every year or two, it seems the film viewing world picks one American indie film, usually originating in Sundance, to embrace and shower with awards buzz. This year that honour goes to a more obscure choice than usual; ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’, a film which marks the debut for most of its key players. So is all this praise deserved? Not really, especially that being thrown at the very young lead actress, who just seems to be being herself. That said, it does show us a side of the US that rarely been seen, and focuses on poor people without once revelling in suffering, and its wonderful music adds a magical quality to the photography. An original and interesting work, but no masterpiece.
The Bourne Legacy
The decent but massively overrated Bourne series gets a dull, Matt Damon free spin-off. Some nifty camera work but little else to recommend.
Oliver Stone brings us a fresh and sun-drenched look into the Mexican drug wars. A threesome (in every sense) of young American pot dealers find the female of the group kidnapped by the Mexican cartel after refusing an offer from them. All of the Mexican gang material is rather good but that focusing on the central trio isn’t. It tries to endear us to the young leads by making one a charity worker and the other a war veteran, but they’re still criminals. ‘Savages’s main issue, though, is its leading lady (Blake Lively) . Not only does she provide some cringe-worthy voice over but she’s a totally bland and lifeless character, and does not at all convince as someone these two guys would risk everything for. The more grown-up performers (Benicio Del Toro, Salma Hayek, John Travolta) fare much better however. A hit-and miss affair overall, and the less said about the ending the better.
The Man with the Iron Fists
Quentin Tarantino’s name might feature heavily on the posters but unfortunately it’s his untalented mate Eli Roth who has the creative input (producer/co-writer) in rapper RZA’s debut as a writer-director. The plot is very silly but of little importance. RZA handles the direction reasonably well, gamely shooting on location in China, but doesn’t fare so well in the title role, especially during his flat narration. The fight scenes do feel a little like they might have been edited down to appease censors, and maybe a more outrageous uncut version will emerge on DVD. Also, rap songs just don’t accompany fight scenes particularly well.
Michael Haneke’s Palm D’Or winning film portrays the gradual degradation of an elderly woman as her loving husband attends to her. It’s undoubtedly well performed and probably highly realistic but the frequent use of long static shots and lack of music just made it feel quite a lot like filmed theatre.
After a self-starring introductory segment, Morgan Spurlock’s documentary on male grooming moves on a self-obsessed and self-described ‘beardsman’, who cares deeply about his long beard and partakes in facial hair competitions, which he likens to a sport and feels he should win. Despite the focus’s personality, these sections are all pretty amusing. From there the documentary moves on to discuss ‘metrosexual’ trends such as male cosmetics and expensive haircuts, interviewing various barbers and men who put a great deal of effort into their appearance. This part of the film unfortunately isn’t so good. There are a few humorous celebrity sound bites along the way but the interludes with Jason Bateman and Will Arnett aren’t very funny. Maybe if Spurlock had just made a film about the world of competitive facial hair growing he would have hit on something.
Frankenweenie – 3.5/5 – Now this is the Tim Burton return to form that ‘Dark Shadows’ wasn’t.
Premium Rush – 3.5/5 – a novel action movie employing bicycles and innovative real time narrative techniques
A Royal Affair – 4/5 – sumptuously shot and well-acted Danish period drama recreating a famous historical scandal, but still involving issues relevant today
The Tall Man – 2.5/5 – disappointingly tame mystery thriller from the director of ‘Martys’
Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted – 2.5/5 – commendably less irritating than the first one but still strictly for the kids
Lawless – 3.5/5
Safety Not Guaranteed – 3/5
I Love you Phillip Morris – 3.5/5
No Strings Attached – 2/5
Miss Conspirator – 2.5/5
People Like Us 2.5/5