Apologies for my absence: Part 1

I’ve been busy of late, so much so that my last post was about 2 months ago! Time to get back in the saddle. But do not fear, I have been watching many, many movies. So, today, I’m going to give you lots of mini-reviews. Right here. Right now.

  1. Crazy Heart (Scott Cooper)

This film follows the story of aging, alcoholic country star ”Bad Blake” (Jeff Bridges) and his attempts to turn his life around after meeting Jean, a local journalist (Maggie Gyllenhaal).

This film is really built around the exceptional performances of Bridges, who an an oscar for his role, and Gyllenhall, who was nominated. Their nuance, truth and heart raise the film above its mediocre source material. The film looks beautiful, but has a dragging pace which is often exacerbated by a clunky script. However, their is a wonderful soundtrack and the film does leave you fondly reflecting because of its’ feel-good charm.

VERDCIT: Who doesn’t like a bit of country every now and then.

2. Eastern Promises (David Cronenberg)

Anna (Naomi Watts) is searching for the family of a new-born baby whose young mother died during child-birth. Following the mother’s diary she ends up intwined with the Russian Mafia and their loyal driver (Viggo Mortensen).

Dark, clever and real, this British thriller is a wonderful film and provides an entertaining glimpse into the underworld of London’s organized crime and their exquisite tattoos. Anchored by strong performances from the entire cast, especially Mortensen, and bolstered by a lightning pace and strong attention to detail and realism. For instance, few films would unabashedly flaunt the male anatomy so completely during an assassination attempt in a men’s bath-house. Many would avoid the awkward dangle with close-ups, quick cuts and shaky cam. Add to this a wonderfully crafted twist and a morally ambiguous ending, definitely worth a watch.

VERDICT: Aragorn,”If by my life or death I can protect you, I will. You have my sword…”. Frodo, ”Great, but did you have to tell me that when you were naked in the bathroom?”

3. FRIDAY THE 13TH (Sean S. Cunningham)

20 years after a tragic incident at Camp Crystal Lake, a group of teenage counselors are terrorized as they make preparations to re-open the camp.

I felt Lucky, having not seen this film until now. Following the last decade’s dirge of terrible, monstrously boring, ludicrous, CGI-fest, cheap jump-scare, sequel spewing, terrible horror movies (breathe) I was excited to watch another of the classics. Even watching this film today, armed with the tropes this film and others helped create, I was amazed to still find myself scared, tense and anxious. The tension was built carefully and cleverly, without CGI gore and a unearned jump-scares. Coupled with the creepy soundtrack, it makes for one hell of a scary film.

VERDICT: ”YOU’RE DOOMED! YOU’RE ALL DOOMED!”

4. Inherent Vice (P.T. Anderson)

Doc (Joaquin Phoenix), a hippy/stoner/P.I, is enlisted by his ex-girlfriend to find her, current, billionaire boyfriend has been kidnapped and ends up embroiled in a drug-filled, bizarre and typically 70’s criminal scheme.

This is not a bad film. Far from it. It is funny, charismatic, joyfully over the top and superbly acted by a typically large P.T.Anderson ensemble cast. But given Anderson’s previous work, including Boogie Nights, Magnolia and There Will Be Blood, it just left me thinking what it could have been. Anderson’s films are never simple but here the overly convoluted and chopped plot looses the audiences interest. The was so much to follow that you(I) ended up following the minimal amount. His previous film with Joaquin, The Master, was a great film and featured an outstanding performance from Joaquin and the late, Phillip Seymour Hoffman (a long time Anderson collaborator), check out the scene below. Maybe, this time, less really could have been more.

VERDICT: ”Motto panukeiku… motto panukeiku! MOTTO PANUKEIKU!”

5. Dear White People (Justin Simien)

This film follows the increasing racial tensions at a predominantly white Ivy league school, through the eyes of several African American students: Sam (Tessa Thompson) a DJ and filmmaker, Coco (Teyonah Parris) a youtuber and aspiring star, Lionel (Tyler James Williams) a journalist and Troy (Brandon Bell) the house president.

It’s hard to pin this film down into a genre. Political satire. Comedy. Drama. Think-piece. It is all of these things. As a whole it is a brilliant film. Refreshing, energetic and organic. Cinema oft-avoids the discussion of race but here it is tackled head-on with acerbic wit, careful thought and cutting honesty.  This film is thoroughly entertaining AND educational; something vital to help evolve the movie industry (and the audience).

VERDICT: Dear everybody…It’s on Netflix, go chill.

That’s all for now folks… please come back for Part 2!

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