Friday, December 31, 2010

Blue Valentine (2010)

Set in an unknown, unimportant time and place, Blue Valentine is the story of a couple, Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams). As well as their young daughter, Frankie (Faith Wladyka). The story, in the direct sense is about their first meeting, their falling in love, marriage and eventual divorce. However, the film never plays it that straight. And it doesn’t always limit itself to questioning only their relationship. It goes beyond one couple's existence, inevitably analysing the notion of what love can mean between any two people.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Green Zone (2010)

Set almost directly after the US invaded Iraq in the search of WMDs in 2003, Green Zone follows Military Chief Roy Miller (Matt Damon) as he leads his squad through an anarchic Middle East environment heroically looking for said weapons. Constantly coming up with “a donut” at the end of his missions, he becomes increasingly suspicious of how the intelligence he is receiving is leading him to dead ends. With the help of a paranoid Iraq citizen, a CIA agent (Brendan Gleeson) and a strong desire to make a difference in the face of war, he takes on a risky path to the truth.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

American: The Bill Hicks Story (2010)

After want seems like years of build up, a documentary about legendary comic, Bill Hicks, has been finished and out into the world. Often insightful and obviously funny, it should be said that American is in no way a fence sitting approach to Bill Hicks the man, or his legacy. This is a doco made by people who loved him for people who loved him.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Town (2010)

The Town deserves to be called very good, being extremely well constructed and consistent in almost every aspect. It’s far from being the perfect genre flick, and perhaps with a bit more experience under his belt, director Ben Affleck in future will be able to iron out the kind of things that prevent it from truly being brilliant. Or rather, expand on others, because while it is severely entertaining, it spreads itself from action piece to heavy drama without truly capitalizing on either. His striking potential (as director) is completely cemented with The Town however, which followed his acclaimed debut, Gone Baby Gone.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Magician (2005)

To paraphrase leading Australian critic, David Stratton, “Not everyone is going to like the idea of spending an evening at the cinema with Ray”. Ray being of course being the protagonist , the hitman, that grinning guy on the posters and basically the fellow we are locked shoulder to shoulder with ‘home video’ style for almost the entire length of The Magician. To count disliking Ray to the point of not being able to enjoy or even watch the film is not wrong, but rather maybe missing out on what an accomplishment this film is for it’s young writer/director/star, Scott Ryan. Fresh out of film school and made with merely three thousand dollars of his own money, Ryan’s Magician is an excellent example of what can be achieved when you have passion and ability.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Host (2006)

The Host is without a doubt expertly directed, and the star of the film is probably the most interesting creature creation since Stan Winston’s Kothoga (from The Relic), but it never really impressed as much as the films it’s being compared to. These being such iconic fare as Jaws and The Thing. Maybe the hype machine had too much influence, but I think because it is in essence more a drama than a creature-feature, means that it doesn’t quite reach such similar or stellar company. It is it’s own victim in that sense, because while it is a good film, it holds little to offer on repeat viewings like those films do. It won’t let you settle into a specific mood for example. Describing the film is an issue in itself. Director Bong Joon-Ho probably summed it up best himself when he said that it is less a monster movie and more a film about a kidnapping, where the kidnapper just happens to be a mutant amphibian.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Global Metal (2008)

I don’t really want to compare Global Metal with Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey, but when in the introduction, our familiar world weary anthropologist metal-head from that film, Sam Dunn, reminds us that he did indeed make a film about metal culture before this one, it’s hard not too. And in that sense, this is the inferior documentary, but by no means a bad or uninteresting one. I’m not sure if it was ever supposed to be viewed as a “sequel”, but specifically, Global Metal does just feel more of an afterthought and lacks the weight, enthusiasm and resources of it’s predecessor to carry it through completely. Perhaps the passion of our buoyant young filmmakers has dwindled after the successful first film, or maybe it would have faired better as a TV special or series, because trying to be another cinematic looking feature doco, that AHJ was so successful at being, is probably it’s biggest downfall - at least in the beginning.

Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson (2008)

Opening with Hunter S. Thompson’s written reactions to seeing 9/11 unfold on TV, Alex Gibney’s Gonzo thrusts us into the idea of Hunter first as a journalist, a rebel, a successful writer, a political campaigner and finally a man, the product of all his excesses, who was loved and admired by many. In-between detailing the author’s rebellion, out of control gun enthusiasm and drug use, we focus on only three major writings of his - his breakthrough novel; ‘Hell’s Angels‘, his most popular work, ‘Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas’ and arguably his best work; ‘Fear & Loathing on the Campaign Trail ‘72‘.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Inception (2010)

Inception will be a film that will be considered like no other by many. At its core, it deals with the notion of entering someone’s dreams. Sharing their dream. Implanting an idea into someone’s mind by literally going into it. It’s a heist movie where the prize exists in someone’s subconscious, populated by - occasionally aggressive - “projections”. Sounds like something Phillip K. Dick would conjure up, and certainly not something that is found in a blockbuster too often without seeming overly corny. The fact that Inception doesn’t feel that way can be attributed to director Christopher Nolan’s extremely solid and original script, and the unique aura that carries it. Complex is one word to describe the film, but then so is action and emotion. Though it doesn’t quite reach its desired effect with the latter. Either way, it is a movie that deserves you to enter it with as little expectations or knowledge as possible. Suffice to say, there will be no synopsis from me and definitely no spoilers, but perhaps wait until you see it before you read this.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Harry Brown (2009)

Harry Brown (Michael Caine), an ex-marine and Northern Island pensioner, lives in a much maligned apartment block in South London that is overrun by violent youths. His wife is dying in the hospital and his best mate, Leonard (David Bradley) - with whom he plays chess with in the local pub, is intensely frightened by the goings on in their neighbourhood, and feels forced to carry around an old bayonet for protection. Harry visits his wife everyday, but always avoids a quicker route to the hospital via an underpass, as it is a favourite hang out of the aggressive troublemakers. This proves costly as one night he receives a phone call alerting him to his wife’s worsening health. Avoiding the shortcut again, he arrives too late to find she has died. On top of this, a few days later, Leonard is accosted after a gang of youths vandalise his home and is murdered by his own weapon. This proves too much for Harry and his disheartening faith in a weak police effort to do something leads him to take methods into his own hands.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Black Keys - Brothers (2010)


As a dedicated fan since the release of their second album, Thickfreakness, it’s comforting witnessing a band evolve the way The Black Keys have. Their willing journey to experiment has yielded possibly their best achievement so far with Brothers. That journey, that has seen them move away from the stripped down basement fuzz production of a lone drum/guitar ensemble of the earlier records, to performing and producing a unique hip-hop record (Blakroc) to releasing the first thing that fully embraces every instrument and arrangement at their disposal. If producer Danger Mouse showed them the potential with a few keyboards on the excellent Attack and Release, Brothers proves that not only did the Akron duo learn from that, but utterly embraced it.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Iron Man 2 (2010)

IM2 proves to be a bit of a hard film to rate. For all its fairly obvious flaws, it’s still a better than average blockbuster, but without question, no match for its predecessor. Initially, I was very concerned. It wasn’t instantly engaging like the first film, and there seemed to be a lot of lazy script moments early on. It certainly picks up and gets better as it goes along, but the first half an hour was pretty weak indeed. The first proper action sequence, set in Monaco, was a joke compared to anything in Ironman, and just plain silly for the most part. Main baddie, Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke), is introduced straight away, but his motives are not really explained well and feel wafer thin. Eventually the script kicks into what the movie is really about though; the development of S.H.I.E.L.D and The Avengers project.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Kick-Ass (2010)

Bored from masturbation and the typical high school life of a nerd, Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) one day decides to let his imagination take over. Sick of wondering the why of being an actual superhero, he decides to re-invent himself as one, calling himself Kick-Ass. As he costumes up and ineptly attempts to thwart minor crimes, he comes across Batman wannabe, Big Daddy (Nicholas Cage) and his 11 year old daughter, Mindy aka Hit-Girl (Chloe Moretz). Though their's and Dave’s intentions are similar, Hit-Girl and Big Daddy are the real deal, killing and (literally) taking apart New York crime. Particularly, a violent drug syndicate led by Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong).

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Book of Eli (2010)

Eli (Denzel Washington), an expert hand-to-hand combatant nomad, is on a quest possessing the only copy of the bible believed to be left in the world, trudging over country suffering from an apocalyptic war 30 years previous and a "flash” caused by the sun that has burned virtually all of the landscape. Things go bad for our hero when he wanders into a town run by Carnegie (Gary Oldman) – a man persistently looking for a copy of the bible in order to use its words to manufacture a new population complete with blind faith.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Road (2009)

With little to no explanation, the world has burned, now dying a slow death. From what we can gather, for approximately ten years until we join the film in present day. The few humans left trudge over nature's remains in search of food and mere survival. Cannibalism has become, for some, the only option. We follow nameless Man and Boy exclusively on their journey - constantly living in fear. This a world where the moral dilemmas of our protagonists are stripped down to being either "the good guys" or "the bad guys". The Road encompasses an other worldly atmosphere. A disturbing re-creation of a post apocalyptic world. Given the elements pulled together by director, cinematographer and production designer, I was blown away by the film's look. A gorgeous, moving artwork on a decaying future world.

Massive Attack - Heligoland (2010)

Heligoland is a good example of what Massive Attack driving force, Robert Del Naja, has claimed his ambition for the group was to inevitably become. Less a 'band', than a collective of musicians - varying with each release. The amount of different lead vocalists on this release (more than ever before) exemplifies a lot of that ideal. For example, Del Naja himself doesn’t even really speak a whole song until more than halfway through, plus, much like the last album, cover your ears for second and you’ll probably miss Daddy G’s minor involvement vocals wise - appearing only briefly on the third track, ‘Splitting the Atom’.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

He Got Game (1998)

Spike Lee’s homage to the game that he loves is a passionate father and son story that hits all the right marks, most of the time. Shot in less than a month, the film was famous for Lee’s choice to use a real NBA player in the lead role of Jesus Shuttlesworth. After several considerations, he landed on (then rookie) Ray Allen.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Sherlock Holmes (2009)

The films of Guy Ritchie could never be accused of lacking style. Substance maybe, but they have always appeared slick with their suave characters and unique use of fast and slo-mo cutting. Such is the case with Sherlock Holmes. A striking looking film that fires along at a pace we can only expect (and want) of the British director. Like many of the diatribes churned out by the titular character, Holmes is streamlined, hilarious and, possibly surprisingly, curse free. Despite holding back slightly, it still does have his usual education in violence, but overall, works as a generation crossing blockbuster.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Top 10 Films of 2009


Predictable genre rules alongside the expectations that come with being a “re-imaging” possibly dog this re-soundly excellent film, but considering that the subject matter could have potentially become much more derivative than it does, it is fine, mature filmmaking. Perhaps not on the level of similar themed films, it stands up well by having a substantial modern notion competing with the once leading edge standard as a main part of it‘s story. Flying the flag defiantly for the old school media, its insight and humour running alongside the thrills proves Kevin MacDonald is a very slick director, again delivering the goods.