SOLO A STAR WARS STORY – REVIEW

SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY: REVIEW – The new Star Wars movie hits theatres.

The new Star Wars movie – Solo: A Star Wars Story – is in theaters, starring Emilia Clarke, Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson and Danny Glover and we ask: is it any good?

Nope.

 

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INACCURATE MOVIE REVIEW – A QUIET PLACE

The INACCURATE MOVIE REVIEW ensures movies are not spoilt by getting everything wrong about them: A Quiet Place.

Steve Carell – the star of TV’s Parks and Recreation – stars in a knockabout comedy. Instead of being quiet, it’ll have you laughing as loudly as you can.

The 1970s and America is coming to terms with the post-Watergate paranoia. Carell and real life wife Tina Fey play Ernie and Esther, a middle aged couple who live in the city with their dogs and blind son: Georgie. Chris Pratt from The Office plays Georgie very movingly.

When aliens invade, the world is turned upside down. But Ernie’s ability to amuse the aliens with his hilarious shadow puppetry means he distracts the aliens while Esther and Georgie escape. Unfortunately, the aliens see Georgie’s luminous stick – they can’t hear him because they are deaf – and they eat him up. Blood everywhere. Jeez, like something out of the Farrelly brothers films, which isn’t surprising as they directed this.

Eric finds that the aliens have very keen eyesight – they spotted Georgie’s stick after all, which wasn’t THAT luminous – and he uses this against them by shining the torch from his phone into his eyes. At this point the film could end because we know how Eric and Esther will defeat the aliens, but the film insists on showing us them killing every single alien with torches from their phones.

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AVENGERS INFINITY WAR: SPOILER FREE REVIEW

HOLLYWOOD – Avengers: Infinity War is here.

And so here is our SPOILER FREE review. 100% SPOILER FREE. Go Ahead and read on. Because there are no SPOILERS. If you want SPOILERS go elsewhere because you ain’t getting them here buddy.

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RONALD MCDONALD REVIEWS – IT

REVIEWS – IT – Guest reviewer Ronald McDonald weighs in on the latest Stephen King adaptation: It.

Stephen King’s epic horror novel It gets the big screen treatment. The Studio Exec called his best pal Ronald McDonald to give us a unique perspective on the new film and the scary protagonist Pennywise.

Hello Everybody! How ya doin’? Well, that’s great! HAHAHAHAHA! So I watched the new Stephen King movie IT! And I have to say Heavens to Betsy, it was quite the ride. T

hat fella knows how to scare the Dickens out of a body and no mistake! And yet… and yet…. I did have some reservations. Namely about the character of the murderous clown Penny wise. I know what you’re going to say. ‘Ronald, it’s only a movie!’ OH HO HO! But I hope you’ll excuse me. I am something of an expert and it is important that we get this kind of thing right. So the very first time we are introduced to Pennywise he is down a drain. Now in my long career as a crown I’ve played some insanitary places but the takes the BISCUIT!!!! HAHAHAHAHA! Think of the germs! Yikes! Also he murders the child.

We see Pennywise to get up to a lot of things, but none of them involve balloon animals and I think this the film really missed out. The makeup was convincing though a little complex for my taste. I mean are you a clown or some sort of mime? HAHAHAHA!! And the costume left a lot to be desired. In a word, drab! Pennywise’s attitude was very good, excellent voicework, but when he snacks on a child’s severed arm halfway through the film – I’m sorry but that’s hardly a Happy Meal is it? HAHAHAHA. And as a clown: eating should be done after work. The only pies you see me with are custard pies!

So on the whole Pennywise kept up the energy and the variety throughout. He kept the children jumping, but there were times he could’ve kept it much simpler – and a little too much talking.

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BETTER CALL SAUL SEASON 3

REVIEW – BETTER CALL SAUL – With Season 3 of Vince Gilligan’s Breaking Bad spin-off over, we ask what we learned and where are we going.

So what did we learn in the third season of Better Call Saul? Okay, SPOILERS, but not really. We discovered Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) is still Jimmy McGill and still not Saul Goodman. And I’m not sure he ever really will be Saul Goodman. Having got through three seasons, I’m also wondering if this is even the same character. The outright rogue of Breaking Bad keeps desperately trying to second guess the audience’s prejudices so that he’ll never do anything too bad. He does something bad and then repents. But the cards are so stacked against him that we’re bound to sympathize.

All those cards for the whole season seemed to be passing through the hands of his brother Chuck (Michael McKean).  Chuck and his space blanket became a central story strand of the whole season and there’s no delicate way of putting this, it was a pain in the balls. I love Michael McKean as an actor. And his performance here was wonderful but his trajectory was just so grindingly predictable. When a tragic decline and demise of a major character is your big finale of the season, you really shouldn’t have the audience shriek ‘Finally!’ but that’s what I did.

Rhea Seehorn as Kim is always fun. She’s smart but she was given so little to do except have the other office. Her legalling could be snappy, but when did this become legal eagles? Especially when we get on to oil wells and property rights. She says herself ‘I made a local bank into a regional bank’. Not exactly a thrilling ride.

And then there’s Mike (Jonathan Banks) who is visibly aging before our eyes. Mike was never a spring chicken exactly but given this is a prequel, I hope Gustav Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) sends him to a health farm or something. Waiting for someone to get a stroke is not the tensest denouement and this gangster story was almost as uninteresting as the shenanigans in a photocopying shop.

This sounds very negative. I don’t hate it at all. And everyone is so talented that this is obviously quality all the way through. But the story – which was the strongest element of Breaking Bad – has given way to simply waiting for shit to go down. And the wait is going on forever.

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REVIEW – KONG: SKULL ISLAND

REVIEW – KONG: SKULL ISLAND –  Loki and Captain Marvel explore Peter Jackson land but discover that the main enemy might be comparisons with Apocalypse Now.

For big dumb fun, you might do no worse than a big dumb movie. Everyone’s favorite monkey returns with Kong: Skull Island, a visually sumptuous and occasionally darkly witty piece of entertainment. Jordan Vogt-Roberts does a great job of orchestrating the various action scenes, which feature a nice variety of over-sized creatures emerging from the depths of the hollow earth.

Having had such a good time, it seems churlish to wish that equal care could have been exerted to make the characters similarly life-like. Alas Brie Larson‘s photo-journalist has as much three dimensionality as a character from Cluedo. She’s a photographer, with a camera and she takes pictures ALL the time. The only character to go further than cardboard is John C. Reilly’s Hell in the Pacific leftover. He’s funny and occasionally exhibits the only emotion that isn’t simply awe or terror.

This is a promising beginning to a new monster universe which is set to include Godzilla. Hopefully, it will stave off the beginning of any new or original idea for some more years to come.

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REVIEW – HELL OR HIGH WATER

REVIEW – HELL OR HIGH WATER – Weirdly, Chris Pine is quite good in this.

Chris Pine and Ben Foster play two bank robbing brothers, hunted across Texas by Jeff Bridges and Gil Birmingham in Hell or High Water. Written by Sicario scribe Taylor Sheridan and directed by David MacKenzie, the movie is a superior crime caper, whose only sin is wanting everybody to be likeable. The narrative changes the characters to accommodate. For instance, the two young brothers begin the film as bumbling amateurs but finish like masterminds.

It’s like No Country for Old Men without the darkness. Tragedy and violence will happen, but because of misunderstandings. There are killings, but without hatred. That said the violence has palpable emotional consequences. Structurally it most resembles Heat with the cops and robbers as estranged brothers idea. The acting is superb and both the younger and older generation acquit themselves well. Bridges and Birmingham are great fun to watch as a squabbling pair, like an old married couple waiting for the divorce papers to arrive.

The score by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis is also worth a listen.

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REVIEW – 20TH CENTURY WOMEN

REVIEW – 20TH CENTURY WOMEN – Annette Benning shines in this witty and original dramedy.

Mike Mills new film 20th Century Women manages the unique feat of being a fresh blast of nostaligia. Annette Benning plays Dorothea – a Virginia Woolf-y name if ever there was one – a single mother who is bringing her child Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann) up in the seventies with the help of her lodgers Greta Gerwig and Billy Cudrup as well as platonic friend Julie, played by Elle Fanning. The alternative family has been seen before, recently in Captain Fantastic and previously in The Royal Tenenbaums, but 20th Century Women isn’t about wish-fulfilling quirk. There’s a seriousness behind the frequently hilarious wit. Both a longing for a lost time, but also a sense of how different life really was. A pregnancy test involves byzantine instructions and hours of tension.

Each character is given space to really grow and interact. There’s a sense of time similar to that found in the writing of James Salter. From a moment in the immediate now, we can suddenly find ourselves twenty – thirty years in the future. Time folds so that for once the nostalgia actually deserves the tragic sense it sometimes has. The soundtrack featuring early Talking Heads among others likewise has a vibrancy and wit to match the movie. The feminism of the piece is lightly worn, with a kind of ‘no-shit-Sherlock’ nonchalance and a timely reminder of the good Planned Parenthood has been doing for decades.

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REVIEW – FENCES

REVIEW – FENCES – Denzel Washington stars in and directs Fences – a kind of Death of a Garbageman.

Denzel Washington chooses finally to put his acting chops to good use. Following on from the unwashed bilge of The Equalizer and several Tony Scott-lite thrillers, Fences comes as a relief. Directing himself,  Washington plays Troy, a garbageman with the gift of the gab. He weaves an incessant spiel with best friend Bono (Stephen Henderson) and his long-suffering wife Rose (Viola Davis). His history is slowly revealed, along with his university of life wisdom.

Slowly we also understand a deeply corrosive side to his character, which risks destroying his family. Based on a celebrated stage play by August Wilson, Washington film looks wonderful but doesn’t bother trying to shrug off its theatrical origins. The rhythm of the dialogue is crucially retained and the heavy handed metaphor of the fence itself is unavoidable. The holy fool brother also feels shopworn, but Washington and Davis are truly brilliant and worth the ticket.

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MANCHESTER BY THE SEA – REVIEW

REVIEW – In Manchester by the Sea, Robert Ford is sad because he married the woman from Shutter Island.

Casey Affleck plays Lee, a not so mild-mannered janitor. Just the way he fixes a toilet screams emotionally harrowing backstory. When his brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) dies, Lee has to go back to the titular town and wrap up his affairs, including a son Patrick (Lucas Hedges). Everything around him reminds him of the terrible trauma that led him to be the emotional damaged man we see today. Not to mention of course the fact he’s just lost his brother and Patrick has some problems of his own. Michelle Williams is Lee’s ex-wife – now pregnant with another partner – who returns for the funeral.

Kenneth Lonergan’s movie never shies away from the heights of melodrama. There’s a use of the most hackneyed piece of classical slosh – Albioni’s Adagio – which works completely. The humor  helps a great deal but also the refusal to proffer resolutions. There’s a bravery in the idea that no, everyone is not going to be all right. There’s some shit you’ll never come back from. Acting all around is excellent. Though a small cameo by Matthew Broderick only had the effect in my screening of making everyone shout in unison ‘Hey! Is that Matthew Broderick?’

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MOONLIGHT – REVIEW

REVIEW – Boyhood meets Brokeback Mountain meets Boys n’ the Hood is a terrible description of Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight.

A portrait of young gay black man coming of age in Miami is a wonderful and serious movie that needs to be seen. Divided into three chapters, the film begins with Chiron “Little” (Alex R. Hibbert), a boy whose life is dominated by his addict mother (Naomie Harris) and bullying school mates. He finds an unlikely ally in Juan (Mahershala Ali), a local drug dealer who takes pity on the kid and offers guidance as well as swimming lessons. Along with his partner Teresa (Janelle Monáe), Little finally has a safe space.

The film is built on ellipses and we are never explicitly given any motivation for Juan’s kindness. Crucial events also occur between the lines as we skip ahead to the teenaged Chiron (Ashton Sanders). But his problems continue with his harsh environment and the constant threat of violence. Finally, the grown Chiron has become a survivor, hard and as inflexible as scar tissue.

Based on Tarell Alvin McCrane’s stage play, Jenkins has created an intensely personal film about the cost of survival. Without detracting from the sun soaked delights of La La Land, it’s instructive to see how different life can be. And how certain freedoms we believe to be won, battles done and dusted, are still alive and being fought for daily.

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SILENCE – REVIEW

REVIEW: SILENCE – Spider-man and Kylo Ren go to Japan to find Ra’s Ghul.

Martin Scorsese’s new film apparently took 20 years to make or more accurately he wanted to do it for twenty years or something. Anyway the adaptation of Shusaku Endo’s amazing novel is faithful, perhaps overly so. Large slabs of prose are Terrence Malicked onto the soundtrack, but at the same time Scorsese also literally renders paragraphs, often risking silliness. The story often slides towards Christian propaganda and one wonders how Mel Gibson would have dealt with it. And how critics would have looked at the film if he had.

Hacksaw Ridge actor Andrew Garfield does some more blinking as the priest who with Adam Driver goes looking for Liam Neeson and proselytize to the heathens in Japan. The persecution that follows provides a stations of the cross for the priest who enters his crisis of faith. There’s some dodgy CGI and some wonderfully inventive direction. But the ambiguity of the novel has its hand tipped with a clumsy last shot and dedication.

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FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM – REVIEW

REVIEW – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a Harry Potter-themed Pokemon Go for people too lazy to play Pokemon Go.

Following a sex change operation and a bout of Motor Neuron Disease, Eddie Redmayne is back. This time he’s off to New York with a suitcase of magical creatures which he accidentally lets loose. After bumping into a baker. With the help of a magical police woman Porpentina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston) and her telepathic sister, he and Kolawski (Dan Fogler) the baker hunt down the magical creatures while a anti-magic zealot and Colin Farrell vaguely threaten. Jon Voigt turns up and no one looks happy.

There’s something exhausting these days about going to see a film, assured there are four more of these assholes to come. It’s not only do I like this one, but can be bothered watching the others? Short answer: no. Never has magic been more dull, magicians so annoying and a quest, so literally like a walk in the park. JK Rowling can take more blame than usual ass the screenwriter and producer. Also Redmayne is one of the most over-rated actors currently working. His smirking, gurning and blinking oddball is a charisma-free hole where an actor ought to be. Fogler is okay but is asked to do the same thing time and time again. And poor Colin Farrell is shunted aside in a final twist that reveals he was another actor who you’d apparently much prefer to see. At least before he started beating up his wife.

The franchise machine churns on and the sequels are probably already shooting. But this overlong, tedious, unfunny monster hunt fills me with dread. Dread and a wish to die.

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