Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
The Grinch (2018)
Doesn't make sense.
Watched this with my 8 year old son when he was sick from school. He said he really liked it but I noticed he wasn't laughing very often. I think the story is so timeless and characters so rich that just the fact that it's The Grinch is enough to satisfy. But for me, an adult that actually enjoyed Jim Carey's over the top movie, and of course the universally loved magnificent Chuck Jones version, I just thought this was dull. Very few laughs (although certainly some), nothing new visually, no real imagination. The opening was the best part, as The Grinch wakes and dresses in a fun way. But after that, just kinda of cruises along, one pop song after another.
The animation however, is truly fabulous. Looks amazing, bright and colorful and beautiful. Max the dog is cute. The snow really crunched and you can feel the cold.
It's been said so often that it's hardly worth saying again - but why remake something and not significantly change it, offering something new to the story? How about setting the story after The Grinch steals Christmas instead of retelling exactly the story we've already seen and enjoyed? Just doesn't make sense to me.
A Private War (2018)
Should have been better
Disappointing film. Obviously an important and compelling story about an incredible woman but I would have much preferred a documentary if the filmmakers aren't bringing anything other than a straight retelling of facts. The direction is poor, no real insight into who this person was and what the events depicted mean to her and the people around her, except for the usual movie tropes of the war journalist genre. Yes she was upset, found things difficult, found it hard to cope, etc etc. These things are too obvious to be the moving force of a movie.
But what really lets this film down is Rosamund Pike's performance. She's a fine actress but she's not right for this material. She just tries sooooo hard to get to the emotional core of the character but she's not got the natural instinct to really pull off the kind of performance this needed. You can feel how important it was for her to get this right, and that pressure becomes a kind of acting desperation. Should have been someone like Rooney Mara who is able to effortlessly inhabit her characters. There's a scene which reminds us of Apocalypse Now where Martin Sheen is in the throws of drunken disappear in his hotel room. Rosamund Pike simply can't do a scene like that - it's too much of an effort for her. You can see her trying so hard to act it, instead of just finding it. She's perfect and brilliant in Gone Girl where there is a cold, calculation to her performance. This story needed brutal, gritty, dark realism and that's not what Rosamund Pike does.
In the end it's the directors fault for casting badly and not finding and exploiting the raw power that was lacking from the scenes.
Now You See Me (2013)
Wow, looking at many of the reviews for this movie I must be one of only a handful of people that really disliked it. So over the top, even for a story about magicians who are, it seems, by their very nature are over the top. Some of the story simply makes no sense at all. And what does sort of make sense pushes the viewers suspension of disbelieve to the edge.
An amazing cast - I mean, just look at that cast - and an idea with so much potential and yet such a huge failure in my opinion. The blame has to lay with director Louis Leterrier who also made the shockingly disappointing The Brothers Grimsby.
Real Steel (2011)
I loved it
A wonderful, fun movie. Looks amazing. You'll really believe the robots are right there fighting each other. The connection between Atom (the robot) and the boy is done really well, without resorting to giving the robot false emotion. It's just done by how we see the boy react to Atom in a childlike way. He wants to believe Atom has a connection with him, and so we want it too and it works very, very well. Hugh Jackman plays quite an unpleasant, selfish character to start with and it's nice watching him find himself again through his new and this time real relationship with his boy.
Story reminds us of Rocky of course, but with more humor and the characters are that much simpler drawn than the truer nature of the characters in Rocky. But this is a different movie, aimed at a different audience so it's all good.
The Gift (2015)
More like this please Hollywood!
This is one of those drama/thrillers that Hollywood does so well when it puts its mind to it. Smart, gripping, great characters surrounded by an interesting and sometimes exciting story. The twists that happen throughout feel real thanks to tight writing which ties in the events of the story to the characters lives both present and historical. Everything just fits and leaves the viewer wanting to see what happens next. The film really belongs to Joel Edgerton who writes, directs and acts. His portrayal of a character with lots going on inside and out is pitch perfect. More like this please Hollywood!
Under the Silver Lake (2018)
Second films are hard.
A disappointing follow up to "It Follows" for director David Robert Mitchell. A film that is a little too interested in making cerebral references and packing in as many esoteric themes and ideas as possible. Leaning toward keeping a mysterious mood rather than making the film spell out its intention, which isn't always a bad thing, but its not interesting enough to keep the viewer wanting to find out what's going on. In other words - it just gets boring. It has a nice Hitchcock feel (including lovely use of music), along with a modern, if not an entirely original take on film noir but the story just isn't nearly dramatic enough. Reminds me of the follow up to the brilliant "Donnie Darko" where Richard Kelly just tried too hard to be intellectually, visually and thematically interesting but just falls flat on simple story telling... I guess second films are as hard as second albums.
A strong low budget drama
A little slow to start as we get to know the people and their relationships but picks up with some really good tense scenes between the various characters. We really care about the two leads, one the husband of a woman killed in a fire, the other the young lad who killed her. Both are broken by what happened. In fact all the various characters we meet are lost or trapped in some way. The acting by relatively unknown actors is very good throughout. The story builds to a surprising and powerful - and very moving - ending.
Well worth a look.
Manchester by the Sea (2016)
If you like serious drama, it doesn't get better.
Is this as good as it gets for cinema drama? I think so. This film deserved all the adoring attention it got, from Oscars on down.
Astonishing and riveting. Powerful and moving. Heartbreaking and infuriating. The writing and direction is perfect, the acting is blisteringly real and affecting. The relationship between all the characters feels poignant, painful and absolutely moving, especially between the uncle and nephew. Their relationship starts strong and moves in directions that feels so right for the story. As you watch, there's no telling how the story could end because the filmmakers keep the narrative constantly on the edge between surprise and honesty.
The film uses a simple flashback technique - no signposts - that is slightly confusing at first but settles easily and works so well to establish the history of these people.
For me this is a perfect movie and I wish we had more like this from Hollywood.
What's the point?
A film of this subject matter isn't one to enjoy but one to experience. Unfortunately the experience of Bully is unsatisfying. A simplistic take on the true events surrounding the murder of a young man that we really don't get to know at all. Except to say that he's mean. In a sensational case like this, the media will find a hook to sell the story, in this case "Kid killed by friends because he was a bully." A film should be exploring the subject in far more detail than a newspaper story but we
don't get any real idea of why these kids did what they did. (I haven't read the book so can't comment on whether it does a better job). The characters motivations are not consistent and are just surface, no real human depth. Trying to explain in one-dimensional terms why someone commits a terrible crime shouldn't be the basis for a narrative, unless the message is "we just don't know". And if that's the message then the film should honour that and not try to offer ideas on motivation. A film like Elephant should be the model, where it says "this is what happened" in a powerful, intelligent (and artistic) way. But with its pretense to demonstrating motive Bully is pop psychology and exploitative to boot.
Simply presenting the facts of these kids lives and suggesting that a reason for what happened lies within is the film's mistake. It's far more complicated than a few cliché teenage scenes from a thousand movies. For example, lots of teenagers struggle with their sexuality but it doesn't turn them into killers. If the writer and director and actors can't bring us any real insight into why this happened, they shouldn't try. There's no point to a narrative film tackling a subject like this in this manner. A documentary would do a much better job.
The real trouble with a film like this is that it tries to say something about society, suggesting it's a mirror to the life and feelings of America's youth and their bleak existence but really it's just a dim light illuminating a tiny minority of that youth who need to be represented in the media and in film much better than this.
Well written character study
Greenberg is a well written character study, slowly revealed with a melancholic pace, fittingly for the subject. There are lots of interesting thoughts and ideas floating around in the film but always with a sense of knowing irony. At one point, Greenberg mocks a scene in Wall Street where Charlie Sheen asks himself who he is. Yet, that is basically what this film is about. There are lots of awkward moments and Stiller does awkward so well. His performance is subtle and well paced, with just a hint at the angry outbursts he's famous for.
The film isn't all gloom. There is hope for Greenberg but he needs to find a way to open up and express his true self to the right person. Achieving that end gracefully would usually be a very difficult feat for a film or any story but here, that aim is accomplishes beautifully and with skill.
Interesting and moving drama
Brothers is a remake of a Danish film of the same name and the original film is a very roughly made, improvised work, so the gloss of Hollywood could have hurt it.
However, Brothers is a remake that works totally and for a number of reasons. The writers have pedigree, with David Benioff (of the excellent 25th Hour) joining the original writers (and director) of the Danish movie. The themes are relevant and timely, with the war in Afghanistan and its affect on the west being reflected in this family story. And the setting is well observed, demonstrating that it's ordinary families and communities that are so often hit hardest by war.
Jim Sheridan is a good choice of director. He makes dramatic, character driven movies about people and families in crisis. What he does best here is keep the action restrained because these very dramatic stories, based around key scenes of high drama, can easily get overwrought - people crying, falling into desperation and facing life and death decisions - it can all get a bit much! Sheridan focuses on how this action affects the people and their relationships, not simply on providing intense, overacted scenes of no consequence.
The actors are wonderful, keeping that important restraint but pushing emotions where necessary - a fine balance to achieve.
This is strong drama for adults, such a rare thing from Hollywood these days.
OK drama, great performances
A strange film that seems to take a turn into a different genre at the end. It starts off as a solid drama and becomes what is really a straight forward and rather ho-hum attempt at a thriller. However before that happens, the story is slow but compelling, thanks to the brilliant performances of the two leads Lee Boardman and Chloë Annett. The slow pace is not for everyone but this gives us a chance to get to know the characters. A good way to make us care for them, but we need to care about what is happening to them later and that's where the film stumbles for me.
The Fitzroy (2017)
This is a British low budget film, a quirky, post apocalyptic comedy, brilliantly and interestingly shot. Reminds me of a Wes Anderson movie, although doesn't have the level of artistry of his work, just the influence of the look and feel.
It's the tone of the film that really plays - the direction, the acting, the photography, production design and the music, it all fits and works well together. It makes the film feel professionally and solidly handled despite obviously having a small budget. The performances from the unknown cast are absurd and over the top, but that's the point with this type of comedy.
No stars, no money, few locations. You know the drill. But will you like this film? A comedy has to be funny. But funny is so subjective. If you like Fawlty Towers, Monty Python and that sort of British humour you might like this. Just don't expect the brilliance of those classics, but a take on the genre and you may find yourself laughing like I did.