15 May 2015

Review: CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA

Maria Enders is an actress who’s fed up with Hollywood and wants to go back to the stage, where she made her name. Having escaped a comic book franchise contract, she holds high hopes for a mooted sequel to Maloja Snake, the play in which she broke through 25 years earlier, playing a young and vivacious girl who seduces an older, embittered woman and eventually drives her to suicide.

When the playwright, Wilhelm Melchior, passes away unexpectedly, a new director instead pitches the idea of redoing the play with Maria now playing the older woman and Jo-Ann Ellis taking on Maria’s part. In Jo-Ann, Maria sees an uncanny reflection of herself, which only makes it more difficult for her to accept the opposite role.

13 May 2015

Review: TOP FIVE

Your mileage may vary on inside-track Hollywood comedies. Among the greats, there are biting satires like The Player or Swimming With Sharks and broader, sillier works like Tropic Thunder or Bowfinger, but the kind of rarefied air in which they largely unfold can sometimes be suffocating. Thankfully, that's not the case with Top Five, Chris Rock's first project as a writer-director since 2007's I Think I Love My Wife, and inarguably his best so far. 

Andre Allen is a stand-up comedian turned movie star. To promote his latest film Uprize, a widely maligned film in which Allen plays Haitian revolutionary Dutty Boukman, Andre agrees to be interviewed by New York Times reporter Chelsea Brown, despite having endured the slings and arrows of her newspaper's film critic for years. As Chelsea gently probes for something she can build into a more substantial profile, Andre has to come to terms with himself and his public image.

12 May 2015

Review: THE AGE OF ADALINE

There's something beguiling about The Age Of Adaline, a film that sits comfortably on the fence in the wake of a couple of similar romances with magical realism at their heart. It has neither the formal whimsy of The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, nor the incoherent weirdness of A New York Winter's Tale, but it makes a strong pitch right down the centre between those forerunners.

During an unseasonal snowstorm in 1937, Adaline Bowman is a 29 year old widow who is reborn after a car accident, leaving her immune to the ravages of time, because magic. By the year 2014, Adaline has fallen into a routine of changing her identity every decade to avoid detection (and, indeed, dissection by government types) and only keeping contact with her now-elderly daughter Flemming and her beloved spaniel, but when she meets a persistent young suitor, Ellis, that might all change. Then again, as we discover through flashbacks, it's not the first time she's tried to get close to someone.

13 April 2015

Review: PAUL BLART: MALL COP 2

In early 2009, Paul Blart: Mall Cop was Kevin James' family-friendly answer to Die Hard, set in a mall in New Jersey, and it benefited from a drought of such fare in cinemas. Just as quick off the mark as the titular character, it's taken six years for the inevitable Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 to arrive. After the genre trappings of the first film, it's only logical that the sequel turns out to be a family-friendly Die Hard 2. That is to say, it's basically the first one, all over again, in a different location and somehow not as good.

Six years have passed in story time too and over-zealous mall security guard Blart is afraid that he has peaked personally. An invite to a prestigious security convention in Las Vegas, all expenses paid, cheers him up a little, and he takes his long-suffering daughter Maya along for the ride. However, dastardly high roller Vincent (Neal McDonough) is planning to put Vegas' world-famous security to the test by robbing the hotel where the convention is being held. Though racked by his own ego, Blart stumbles upon their plot and teams up with fellow convention delegates to save the day.

Read my full review on Den of Geek »

27 March 2015

Review: SPONGEBOB- SPONGE OUT OF WATER

Counter to what the marketing would have you believe, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out Of Water is not a CG/live action hybrid. At least, not until the last 20 minutes of the film. The rest is rendered in the familiar style of both the series and the previous 2004 movie and it follows the fallout of a cataclysmic theft in the town of Bikini Bottom. During one of Plankton's elaborate attempts to steal the Krusty Krab's famous Krabby Patty, the secret formula vanishes completely.

Bikini Bottom soon descends into leather-clad post-apocalyptic disarray, with the red-handed SpongeBob and Plankton framed as partners in crime and all of the former's friends turning against him. Working as a team, the two of them go on a time-travelling, reality-bending quest to restore the blessed burger to its rightful place.

Read my full review on Den of Geek »