Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Ides of March (2011)

Not is all as it seems in The Ides of March. What begins as a slick, enjoyable film about Governor Mike Morris’s (George Clooney) campaign to a hopeful, eventual presidency develops into a scandal laden political thriller heavy on thought provoking notions of dignity, loyalty and the ethical conflicts within man. The beauty is, that this forth film for Clooney as director, has successfully brought all those elements together in an extremely mature, stylish and non-convoluted way. Ides is an accomplished film, which harks back to the golden age of 70’s American cinema that Clooney has confessed has always being a major influence.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Mastodon - The Hunter (2011)

Of the newer breed of hard rock/metal bands to emerge in the last decade, Mastodon it seems have an aura around them which grants a unique anticipation whenever a new album is announced. The four enigmatic figures that make up the Atlanta quartet are unique unto themselves as well; extremely charismatic, funny, intelligent and minus chips on their shoulders; they carry an enthusiasm for playing and producing music that rubs off on all that call themselves followers of the band. Their discography (of which 2011’s The Hunter is their fifth official long player, but sixth proper release overall) reflects their attitude and musicianship better than most of their peers. All this combined breeds a group that is massively respected by their contemporaries, fans and critics alike. So after over two years since their proggy behemoth, Crack the Skye was released, and much discussion regarding the band’s musical direction, Hunter is out in the world and ultimately, it is possibly the best indicator of where Brann, Brent, Troy and Bill are with their skills and vision as well as serving as an almost justification for their refusal to repeat themselves. Sprawling concept album ideas are on hold this time; tight, self-contained tracks with plenty of chest hair are the order of the day.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Senna (2011)

A good documentary should engage the audience regardless of whether they have a knowledge or passion for its subject matter. Senna is a classic example of this, as your interest in Formula One racing or Senna himself is not a prerequisite to find this excellently crafted film absorbing, compelling and moving. With the blessing of the Senna family, director Asif Kapadia gives us an entertaining insight into the man, the drama and politics of the sport exclusively through on and off track archival footage (some extremely rare) supported by various voice over with out a talking head in sight. The structure of the film is not an overly conventional and traditional one, but in hindsight, was the best possible presentation to allow us to be transfixed at the saga that was Ayrton Senna’s F1 career up until his death in 1994.

Monday, June 13, 2011

RocknRolla (2008)

Guy Ritchie’s first two films can arguably be called instant classics with his unique flair and (some what) originality earning him titles such as “the British Tarantino”. Though both Lock, Stock & Smoking Barrels and Snatch remain an acquired taste (and strictly “boys club” filmmaking), it’s hard to deny they gave a shot in the arm to mainstream cinema and made gangsters cool again. Unfortunately, Ritchie lost his way slightly after the success of these films; becoming a family man possibly changed his perspective slightly, but a woeful decision to make a film with his then-wife, the acting deprived Madonna, had him labelled as quickly as the “king of cool” to having lost it. Coming to his senses, Ritchie went back to the well and gave us (the hardly seen and critically paned) Revolver. However bad it may have been, that film seem to provide the director with renewed passion and he followed with RocknRolla before helming the entertaining blockbuster, Sherlock Holmes.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Machete Maidens Unleashed! (2011)

Mark Hartley, director of Not Quite Hollywood, presents us with a companion piece written, edited and presented almost the exact same way as his outstanding Aussie doco. As with NQH, he delves into B-grade exploitation, this time focusing on the Pilipino industry during the late 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. The country's pioneers of the extremely low budget drive-in efforts are showcased respectfully, but ultimately it focuses from when legendary shlock-king Roger Corman’s New World Pictures got involved early on.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Black Swan (2010)

Director Darren Aronofsky is a unique beast in Hollywood. A filmmaking auteur, his five films have been wildly different but always exceptionally challenging and distinctive. With Black Swan, a remarkable experience in psychological horror, his work continues to evolve in this way. In short, a young New York ballet dancer, Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman), is given the chance to live her dream portraying the “Swan Queen” in a performance of Swan Lake under the demanding, watchful eye of revered director Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel). Overwhelming pressure from the ever growingly closer performance, her obsessive mother and guilt of stepping into the place of Beth Macintyre (Winona Ryder), a once beloved performer now shunned by Leroy, takes its toll and Nina slowly descends into hallucination and extreme behaviour. What becomes clear early on is that the film’s narrative is Swan Lake, making Black Swan, the movie, an achievement perhaps to overwhelming to comprehend after just one viewing.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Retrospective #2: Dirty Harry (1971)

Dir. Don Siegel

"When a naked man is chasing a woman through an alley with a butcher's knife and a hard on, I figure he isn't out collecting for the Red Cross"