29 October 2014

Review: LOVE, ROSIE

The poster for Love, Rosie, a romcom starring Lily Collins and Sam Claflin, refers to the film's most excruciating gag, involving a missing condom. That it's based on a novel by Cecelia "P.S. I Love You" Ahearn called Where Rainbows End seems immaterial to the would-be raunch suggested by the poster, but no, the film itself is exactly as saccharine as that sounds.

Taking place over a couple of decades, best friends Rosie and Alex keep missing each other. It starts when a drunken snog at her 18th birthday party leads them both to renew their friendship in the face of overwhelming romantic chemistry. Then she falls pregnant by another classmate while he wins a scholarship in America and as each of them alternately realise they want more from their relationship or become attached to someone else, years and years have gone by. And if you're watching it, it really feels that way too.

28 October 2014

Review: FURY

Having made Clerks in a cop car and an old-fashioned Schwarzenegger movie, writer-director David Ayer finds another outlet to interrogate the movies' sense of masculinity in Fury, an old fashioned macho World War II picture that substitutes Brad Pitt, Logan Lerman, Michael Peña, Jon Bernthal and (yes, even) Shia LaBeouf for a wartime ensemble that might have been led by John Wayne once upon a time.

The titular Fury is a Sherman tank operated by cynical soldiers with names like Wardaddy and Coon-Ass, trundling through the Allied assault on Germany, which in 1945 means total war. Joining the crew is new assistant driver Norman, an office clerk whose first duty is to clean his predecessor's face and brains off of his part of the tank's interior. Under Wardaddy's watchful eye, Norman inevitably becomes more inured to the hell of the closing days of the war, as they take town after town back from the fanatical Nazis.

27 October 2014

Review: THE BABADOOK

Jennifer Kent's début feature The Babadook is almost too good. Though its story and expressionist horror style are cause for disquiet after seeing it, the more cynical amongst us will be afraid of an American language remake in the next few years, or a sequel along the lines of Babadook Goes Hawaiian. Because in spite of that super-effective trailer, this is a precious thing in mainstream horror- wholly un-cynical and unaffected by the opening-weekend-then-bust model.

On top of that, it's a story that really starts long before its supernatural element kicks in. Amelia is a nurse and single parent to Samuel, a seven-year-old boy with behavioural problems. In addition to all of the grief he gives her with his misbehaviour, either by being unerringly frank with strangers or creating weapons to guard against a hypothetical monster, there's the very real grief that comes with the death of her husband seven years earlier, on the day Samuel was born. In short, Amelia's having sleepless nights even before she reads a mysterious bedtime story aloud, and accidentally invites the titular Mr. Babadook to torment and threaten them both.

22 October 2014

Review: THE JUDGE

This one has Robert Downey Jr in it as a fast-talking lawyer. Robert Duvall plays his father, the titular judge, and the supporting cast is rounded out by the likes of Billy Bob Thornton, Vera Farmiga and Vincent D'Onofrio. On the surface, it has everything going for it, so how on Earth did I manage to forget that I'd seen it just two days after? Sudden amnesia isn't the reason why we've had so few posts on here lately, but the forgettable quality and lack of buzz don't bode well for The Judge sticking around long enough to garner the Oscar recognition that it's openly courting.

Hank Palmer is an unscrupulous hotshot lawyer who revels in only defending rich, guilty clients. Estranged from his wife and about to enter into a custody battle for his young daughter, he is dealt another blow when he discovers his mother has died. He treks back to his home town in Indiana for the funeral for a flying visit, but when his father Joseph runs down and kills a man in his car, Hank becomes embroiled in the defence in a case where mounting evidence of malice aforethought and his own personal demons threaten total defeat.

21 October 2014

Review: TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES

It's never wise to deal in absolutes, because you never know when something will surprise you. However, I can't think of any good argument to let a misanthrope like Michael Bay near children's movies. Transformers: Age Of Extinction is still the worst movie of the year so far, (I'll review it when the DVD comes out, but I'm still too sad to talk about it) but Pain & Gain was actually decently indecent.

Similarly, when his production company, Platinum Dunes makes The Purge movies, his people-hating tendencies are well used, but when they make Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, it's no better than you would expect. As in his Transformers movies, a human supporting character takes the lead, with TV newsroom intern April O'Neil desperate to graduate from puff-pieces to serious journalism about the paramilitary Foot Clan soldiers who terrorise New York City. Her big break is within reach when she discovers four enormous amphibian dudes are fighting back against the clan and their mysterious leader, the Shredder.