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Fading Gigolo (2013)
573rd Review: A Comedy For Romantic Grown-Ups
Fading Gigolo so easily could be a Rollins & Joffe Production and an Allen film; it has all the sensibilities of Allen's comedies since Manhatten - the sexual confusion, the ennui, the desire for love and romance versus the ambition and instincts.
For this reviewer? I chose to see it as a grown-up romantic comedy, a comedy of errors, where Woody Allen and John Turturo's characters are both opportunistic and weary and the women are both fantasizing and projecting and being fantasized and projected. There is enough complexity and simplicity to really make this a stylish, witty, and enjoyable film.
As a jazz geek the score was superb and throughout Turturro adds little touches that make this film a quiet delight. It may not be a perfect film in that the women are too perfect and the contrasts too broad, but you would have to be mean spirited indeed not to enjoy it. It even has something to say about loneliness rather than lust being the source of sex, and that love, however fleeting, even in New York, can happen.
Video Games: The Movie (2014)
572nd Review: Excellent Documentary - Not Just For Gamers
Simply a great documentary telling the development of console games from then to now - this is not a film just for geeks and gamers - it really is a great watch in itself. Director, Jeremy Snead with brilliant editing by Kenny Price have put together a film that shines with love and care.
Above all this like the best documentaries is informative and captivating - we not only have interviews with some of the best in the game world and its greatest fans - it does so without resorting to cliché or derision - it clearly is made by a team who care and love their project. That it was partially financed by Kickstarter is notable; sure there is an element of ploy in doing that, but it is a commendable one.
Above all, it conveys some of the fun and wonder that gaming produces - going from Pong to Ryse and beyond it is filled with gaming clips, music, and a strong streak of both nostalgia and insight - and anyone, gamer or not, should enjoy it - it is simply an excellent documentary - well made and a very good watch.
571st Review - Inspiring and Wonderful
This extraordinary documentary is a winner. Laura Dekker's story is one not just for marine enthusiasts but for everyone. It has the potential to inspire through its simple acknowledgment that boundaries are imposed by others and not by ourselves.
The documentary is mainly just Laura and her boat, Guppy. It reminded this reviewer a lot of the same feeling as Redford's superb All is Lost, and is certainly way better than many other ocean sailing films and documentaries made at huge expense. Maidentrip is simple, clear, very well-edited, with some clever graphics, and it makes for a very good watch indeed.
Above all, this is a film that you wish would be shown to Laura's age group - it demonstrates beyond doubt that allowed the chance they really can be an amazing generation.
One Square Mile (2014)
570th Review: Instant Classic: Kid's Gotta Run. Has-been Trainer, Good Drama, Great Sport
Who doesn't love a good inspirational sports movie? In One Square Mile we both get and then get beyond the standard clichés of the sports genre to a very good film about running. This is a film with well-judged pace, it doesn't rush and yet, we were absolutely hooked.
The two leads, Kelly Blatz as the kid from the wrong side of Seattle, and Richard Jenkins, as a the washed-up coach are well cast. Jenkins is always the stoic, and here a stoic with curmudgeon, and both keep the film well balanced. The drama elements centered on family are well-handled without feeling tacked on.
Director, Charles-Olivier Michaud, handles the camera with assurance. His team are excellent - this is a very well made film. It has that same quality in use of the camera as Ron Howard: it's there to tell the story and the flow shows. The superbly composed soundtrack by Stephen Barton reflects that this is not a loud film, it has at it center running, training, and the drives of that, and anyone who's ever run will like it a lot.
All in all, one of our favourite films of the year - it has substance, style, and a lot to say about running.
Bushido Man (2013)
569th Review - MIldly Experimental Low Budget Irony Driven Arts Film on Martial Arts - Good Fights Though!
I watched Bushido Man with low expectations and boy, was I pleasantly surprised. This is an original film - particularly in its use of camera - it explores the action through low shot-high shot, avoids camera shake, close ups, and jump cuts, and instead actually compliments and augments what are excellent fights really well.
The plot, a pupil returns to his master to tell of his his 8 fights to master all fighting styles, is set firmly in modern Japan - each fight takes place near a city and each fight is preceded by a meal that helps our hero understand his enemy.
There are strong comedy aspects throughout in common with many martial arts, but the fights are well choreographed.
All in all if you are a fan of martial arts films this is a treat - it is not an expensive historical drama it is rather a simple tale, very well made, with surprises, laughs, and ironic twists, this is one that is a rare beast: a low budget martial arts' art film.
Kaze tachinu (2013)
568th Review: Simply A Beautiful & Moving Film About Love And Flight
Kaze tachini (The Wind Rises) contains scene after scene of breathtaking animation - there are extraordinary images simply presented. Studio Ghibli and Miyazaki have over the past forty years produced some of the greatest animated film work of all time. Their films are noted for their non-Disney imagination and creativity. The Wind Rises continues that tradition.
The Wind Rises is the animated biography of Japan's greatest airplane designer: Jiro Hirokoshi. This gives Miyazaki a chance to do stunning flying sequences (and landscapes) as well as other scenes. In keeping with Japn's post-war ethos there are no war scenes, instead the film chooses to look at the earlier life and is really a film about love - and not just love of flying.
I guess I watch a lot of films - it takes a lot for me to feel captivated - this film is captivating, not just visually, it has story, pace, and purpose - and it is clearly from the hand of the extraordinary imagination of Miyazaki.
300: Rise of an Empire (2014)
567th Review - Forget Heroism and Nobility! We Need More Blood and Abs!
IN four words?: A digital splatter fest - this low-schlock horror might work as a frat party cheeralong piece, but fails to be anything other than unintentionally hilarious as a movie going experience.
300ROAE has the most homoerotic undertones and overtones of any film since Cages Des Folles - every stomach is digitally perfected to resemble not so much a six pack as ice trays, every posing pouch Borat-shaped, and every man looks suitably unsure whether they are fighting or skipping through the daisies. As for comradeship, nobility, honor, heroism, why bother when you can splatter more blood across the screen in 3D.
The film claims courage and valor as its justification - you couldn't find any of these here with an electron microscope. Rather, truth be told, it takes a deliberate lascivious delight in extreme violence as titillation, and with it an utter and total moral vacuum and moral vacuousness.
An appalling film that will garner fans for its OTT approach and Eva Green but deserves to be landfill.
Ping Pong Summer (2014)
566th Review: Heavy on the 80s Teen Nostalgia
PPS is a homage to the 80s through and through - care has been taken with the usual wardrobe and hair, but more than that it has tried to capture something of both the mannerisms and the film style of the 80s.
The film has both a John Hughes' summer of coming of age vibe and even a touch of Napolean Dynamite in the family's relatives. It also pays more than a nod to the Eighties style of sports' movies, here through a ping pong game against the local bully rich kid.
All in all, this has more style than substance, but it well put together with an excellent cast. It will appeal ti a wide audience of those who remember the Eighties and to those who like the idea of the Eighties. It's a fun watch and a good film to share with friends.
565th Review: A Fair Pirate Tale (Looks and Feels Exactly Like Black Sails Anyhow)
Crossbones has kicked-off well - here be pirates, intrigue, exotic locations, Malkovitch as Blackbeard and a real nod to the mores and customs of the time. Language in particular feels authentic - the script is intelligent but followable.
The characters are both credible and larger than life without resorting solely to melodrama. All in all for a first episode it bodes well - sea fights, and overall, there's that feeling of being well put together.
It shares much with Black Sails - this is a well scripted, directed, and acted series. It should be fun to see how it develops - hopefully it will do so without falling into devices and melodrama.
564th Review: Fear and Lothian On Animal Farm
Filth is Trainspotting for the new Millennium - a deranged, wild ride filled with a sense of the surreal, of comedy, and an incredible sense of verve. I wouldn't call it shocking per se - but it goes to its darkness with a superb comic seriousness in a way that American movies never seem to.
McAvoy gives a performance that shines as a the Detective Sargeant plotting promotion and justifying his beyond outrageous bipolar behaviour in every way possible. What lifts the film is not only superb use of camera and a great script, it's its moral ambivalence - this is not simply a film of shock and awe - in it there are real questions about morality and sanity that are superb.
All in all if this is a film that deserves a wider audience than most - it is full-on but really it is not simply a voyeuristic excuse to shock - it has a lot to say about the meaning of work, and even life and it does so in an exceptionally original way.