Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Glass: Film Review

Glass: Film Review

Cast: Bruce Willis, Samuel L Jackson, James McAvoy, Anya Taylor Joy, Sarah Paulson, Spencer Treat Clark
Director: M Night Shyamalan

There's a lot of pseudo-waffle in Glass; there's a lot of pontificating about what superheroes are, if they exist etc and there's a lot of labouring the points as this unexpected trilogy delivers its capper.
Glass: Film Review

Set merely a few weeks after Split ended, Bruce Willis' David Dunn, complete with trenchcoat, is on the heels of the Horde and their monstrous member the Beast (another ferocious turn by McAvoy), following a series of abductions.

But when both the Beast and Dunn are captured and imprisoned in a sanitarium run by Dr Ellie Staple (Paulson, in expositionary mode), they find themselves questioning if they are superheroes or freaks of a medical nature.

Things are further complicated when it's revealed that also staying at the hospital under duress is Samuel L Jackson's Elijah Price aka Mr Glass....
Glass: Film Review

Glass does not deliver what you'd expect, or perhaps what you'd hope for.

In some ways, that's a great thing, but it's also a stumbling block as the film lurches tonally between drama and psychobabble.

Once again McAvoy is resplendent in the role, bringing the physicality and ferocity of Split back to life as he pivots between characters with ease, imbuing the Horde with the subtleties of difference and the scale of screen grandeur that's needed.

Willis is muted, and almost sidelined in the film, adding a requisite level of tragedy to the tortured hero. And Jackson is, to be frank, solid but borderline annoying as he espouses meta-dialogue gifted him by Shyamalan, who's keen to labour each comic book point and make sure you don't miss a single one. Subtlety is not on show here, with exposition heavy scenes dulling the impact of what's gone prior.
Glass: Film Review

Shymalan goes the circuitous route in Glass, fiddling with expectations and wrongfooting you at every turn. He delivers comic book action in a different way, with fights happening from other perspectives rather than the smash and crash you're used to - it's not exactly bravura stuff, but it is notable that someone's trying something different with the genre in a saturated smash-em-up market.

There's creepiness aplenty, and while you may not be emotionally invested in the Glass-half-full-glass-half-empty characters on show, Glass delivers something akin to a muted crescendo of a trilogy ender.

It stymies itself in the asylum sequences and shuts down the excitement of the earlier scenes and also films (Unbreakable and Split) - but it does deliver something which proffers an occasionally more cerebral take on a genre that's now de rigeur.

Spider-Man: Far from Home trailer

Spider-Man: Far from Home trailer

The first trailer for Tom Holland's Spider-Man: Far from Home movie has dropped.

The sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming is out in July 4th.

Peter Parker returns in Spider-Man™: Far From Home, the next chapter of the Spider-Man™: Homecoming series! 

Our friendly neighborhood Super Hero decides to join his best friends Ned, MJ, and the rest of the gang on a European vacation. 

However, Peter’s plan to leave super heroics behind for a few weeks are quickly scrapped when he begrudgingly agrees to help Nick Fury uncover the mystery of several elemental creature attacks, creating havoc across the continent!

Directed by:                                                                    Jon Watts

Screenplay by:                                                               Chris McKenna & Erik Sommers

Based on the MARVEL Comic Book by:                  Stan Lee and Steve Ditko

Produced by:                                                                  Kevin Feige
                                                                                          Amy Pascal

Spider-Man: Far from Home trailer

Storm Boy: Film Review

Storm Boy: Film Review

Cast: Geoffrey Rush, Jai Courtney, Finn Little, Erik Thomson, Trevor Jamieson
Director: Shawn Seet

Based on a famous Australian school text by Colin Thiele, Shawn Seet's reimagining of the 1976 film Storm Boy digs deep from the well of earnest reaction to environmental concerns, while never straying too far from the central story of a boy and his friendship with a pelican.
Storm Boy: Film Review

Rush is a mournful Mike Kingley, called into a family conference over whether to allow a sell off of land for mining. Unsettled by his granddaughter's complaints over whether it's morally right, Mike decides to reflect on his past relationship with his own father and with a trio of orphaned pelicans he rescued from hunters.

Storm Boy is a curio of a film.

Clearly, in some ways, out of time from what kids and teens may come to expect from films in these superhero-filled days, Storm Boy charts a path towards a decent relationship movie, that's somewhat stymied by unsubtle touches of environmentalism.

The central story set in the past between Mike and his relatively aloof father (Courtney, doing a lot with very little) is your typical tale of man and animal bond, given a refreshing honesty and earnestness that proves hard to deny.

But the flashes back and forth prevent the narrative from fully feeling fleshed out and create a disruptive flow that's hard to shake, in among Seet's overuse of slow-mo shots and blurred images of hunters, guns and waters sullied by cans.
Storm Boy: Film Review

Rush is nicely mournful, and delivers a character who clearly rues a lot of what life has dealt to him, as he faces one last real chance of making a difference for eternity. There's a soulful edge to his performance, and while some may be too caught up in the troubles facing him in real life to focus on what's on screen, he more than delivers a melancholy turn.

In the flashbacks, the contrast with wide-eyed newcomer Little and slightly underplayed Courtney works well. And certainly the animal interactions add much heart to keep the younger end of the audience engaged.

While the film's less successful with its environmental edges, preferring to be blurred rather than outright and honest, Storm Boy is a film that feels refreshingly old school and yet bizarrely, may fail to find an audience who will be anything but inured to its charms.

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Night School: DVD Review

Night School: DVD Review

From no less than six writers, "comedy" Night School aims low and continues to mine low, before delivering an unearned sentimentally sappy ending.
Night School: Film Review

Hart plays Teddy Walker, a high school dropout who's living beyond his means as a BBQ salesman, and with a girlfriend Lisa clearly above his league. When a proposal goes awry, and Walker blows up the BBQ store, he realises it's time to go back to school and secure the GED diploma he never got so that he can progress in life.

But with a headmaster nemesis from his past (Killam) and a sassy teacher (Haddish) who won't stand for any of his smooth talking and desire to sail past, Teddy has his Night School work cut out.

Night School fails on many levels, but is happy to embrace as much dumb as it can to deliver what little laughs it has

Night School: Film Review

The bar's set low early on when Hart's Walker pulls out his own pubic hair at a restaurant and plants it on his food to avoid paying a hefty bill, and then it keeps just going lower.

But the broad missives aren't particularly of the highest calibre, and don't always hit the target.

While Hart and Haddish have a nice caustic rapport that inevitably softens, their banter and childish rows feel improvised enough at times to hit some of the sweeter spots needed. But there's little to build on, and scant nothing to fully develop.

There could be an outsiders' Breakfast Club to be had here, with the misfits gang in place. To be frank though, Night School's characters are less than memorable and idiotically annoying.

Night School: Film Review

However, a script that piles dumb on cliched and unoriginal doesn't help much - from the usual steal the exam heist to Rob Riggle's attempt at Tom Cruise's high rise misfire, Night School's lack of anything overtly or consistently funny really makes the film drag.

There will be audiences (possibly boozed up) who will adore this, but their adoration is misplaced.

Granted, there are some laughs to be had from Walker's one-liners, but once again Hart's comedy schtick just doesn't cut it thanks to a script that's woefully weak (even with six writers). Depressingly over-long, woefully not funny enough and as painful as nails on a school chalk board, this Night School sadly flunks out, without any chance to redeem itself.

Watch it be big at the box office. 

Monday, 14 January 2019

The Kid Who Would Be King: Film Review

The Kid Who Would Be King: Film Review

Cast: Louis Ashbourne Serkis, Tom Taylor, Patrick Stewart, Rebecca Ferguson, Dean Chaumoo
Director: Joe Cornish

There's no hiding from British films as the stench of Brexit starts to creep in.

And in Attack The Block director Joe Cornish's latest, which he wrote as well, The Kid Who Would Be King reeks of both the problems of the current United Kingdom's plight (albeit at a surface level), but also global uncertainty. Along with the aimlessness of contemporary society, Cornish has his sights squarely set on making sure the kids don't feel lost in a present of our own making.
The Kid Who Would Be King: Film Review

Throw in a message of empowering the kids against the problems of today for the future, amid the contemporary transposition of the Arthurian legends, and it's clear what The Kid Who Would Be King is trying to do.

Serkis is 12-year-old Alex, a non-consequential kid in a school in England. Mates with bullied Bedders (Chaumoo, who may leave you feeling like he's channelling Julian Dennison), Alex stands up for what's right - despite the right thing being to his detriment.

One day, while escaping the bullies, Alex discovers a sword in a stone slab at a construction site, and quicker than you can say Lady of the Lake, Excalibur or any of the Arthur lore, pulls it out.

But under the ground, Arthur's long-lost half sister Morgana (Ferguson, underused) is stirring, ready to take the world as her own, now it's in a fragile state.

Much like Attack The Block did, The Kid Who Would Be King bandies together an 80s style gang of kids (once again, multi-cultural) to save the world. This time though, they lack the killer charisma of the first, but in some ways, that's perhaps the point, as these are everyday kids, given a bit of the once-over-lightly treatment.

That flaw does slightly show in the quest portion of the film as Cornish reinvents the Arthurian legends to fit his own ends. And it does feel padded in parts as it heads toward its inexorable CGI denouement. But it helps that what transpires riffs nicely on the likes of Lord Of The Rings and Percy Jackson and even has its own baddies in the form of flaming sword carrying CGI creatures.
The Kid Who Would Be King: Film Review
The Kid Who Would Be King: Film Review

Serkis makes a reasonable lead, doing the best with what he has to work with, and even getting some laughs out of lines like "I'm 12, I'm not even old enough to do a paper round" when Alex's told he is the future king. He also brings some heft to the fatherless storyline - though in truth Patrick Stewart (complete with Led Zeppelin T-Shirt) does a lot of that with his Merlin. There's a lot riding on the tales he learned as a child, and the tales he's told now by friends or by family - but Serkis translates that through the prism of an ordinary kid, trying to do the best he can.

Gently earnest, with an exhortation to listen to the kids of the present, because they are the leaders of our future, The Kid Who Would Be King wears its empowerment message with pride - but it never loses sight of the fact it's there to serve as escapist family entertainment - and does so admirably.

Join Mario And Luigi On A Fun-Filled Platforming Adventure In New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe, Out Now On Nintendo Switch

Join Mario And Luigi On A Fun-Filled Platforming Adventure In New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe, Out Now On Nintendo Switch



Includes 164 courses which can be enjoyed by up to four players of all skill levels, while newcomer-friendly character Toadette makes her first appearance

Run, leap and stomp through 164 2D side-scrolling courses in traditional Super Mario style in New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe, out now for Nintendo Switch. Using a single Joy-Con each, up to four players* can work together to grab coins and topple enemies on their way to the Goal Pole, while in challenge mode, players must compete to see who can nab the most gold in frantic, friendly – and above all, fun – competition.

New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe contains both New Super Mario Bros. U and the more challenging New Super Luigi U. While seasoned players can play as iconic characters Mario, Luigi and Toad, two new characters also join the mix – Toadette and Nabbit. Younger or less-experienced players can choose to play with these new characters, as they offer extra assistance during play. When Toadette picks up a Super Crown, she turns into Peachette and can double jump, float slowly during freefall and boost back up when she falls in a pit. When playing as Nabbit, players won’t be hurt by enemies and can earn extra 1UPs at the end of stages.

Join Mario And Luigi On A Fun-Filled Platforming Adventure In New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe, Out Now On Nintendo Switch

On top of both adventures, New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe features a variety of game modes to entertain players of all skill levels, either alone or together. Players can test their skills in dozens of varied and crafty trials designed for players of any ability. Race to the goal as fast as you can in Time Attack, grab all the coins in Coin Collection, or do your best to stay airborne by jumping on multiple enemies in 1-Up Rally. In Special, players will need to complete very particular conditions to advance, such as taking on a course without touching any enemies, coins, or cannonballs. Players can watch a series of over 200 online videos** from the game’s development team, showcasing some nifty tricks you can use to topple those tricky tests – useful for when players are stuck on a level or challenge.

New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is the latest title joining the wide range of software anyone can enjoy on Nintendo Switch, the unique home console from Nintendo that can be taken on the go. Nintendo Switch includes two Joy-Con controllers for multiplayer fun right out of the box, making it perfect for playing games anytime, anywhere, with anyone. The Nintendo Switch  software library includes more than a thousand titles for all tastes and experience levels, including Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee!Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and the unique make, play and discover experience of Nintendo Labo.

Join Mario and Luigi and take on 164 courses in New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe, available now on Nintendo Switch. Using a single Joy-Con each, up to four players can enjoy a variety of game modes, anytime, anywhere.

Sunday, 13 January 2019




Team NINJA Changes Worldwide Release Date In Order To Further Polish Upcoming Fighter

KOEI TECMO Europe and Team NINJA announced today that DEAD OR ALIVE 6 will now be released worldwide on the 1st March 2019. The change in date, originally scheduled for a 15th February 2019 release, is due to the developer’s desire to further enhance and balance the hotly-anticipated fighting game.

“The title's development is already near complete; however, we would like to take more time to further polish its balance, gameplay, and expressivity. In return for your patience, we commit to bringing you the best DEAD OR ALIVE gaming experience,” said Yohei Shimbori, the game’s Producer and Director. “I am truly sorry for the inconvenience caused by the release delay of DEAD OR ALIVE 6.”

DEAD OR ALIVE 6 is currently in development for the PlayStation®4 Computer Entertainment System, the Xbox One family of devices including the Xbox One X, the all-in-one games and entertainment system from Microsoft, and digitally on Windows PC via Steam®. For the latest information on the game, please visit our official website at Also, be sure to Like us on Facebook at; and Follow us on Twitter @DOATEC_OFFICIAL.

Saturday, 12 January 2019

A Limited Time “1-Shot Demo” Event for Resident Evil 2 is out now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC!

A Limited Time “1-Shot Demo” Event for Resident Evil 2 is out now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC!

A Limited Time “1-Shot Demo” Event for Resident Evil 2 is Coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC!

Horror fans around the world will get an intense sneak peek at Capcom’s hotly anticipated title Resident Evil 2 before its launch with a special demo event starting this week for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC players via Steam. Available to download for a limited time from Jan. 11 to Jan. 31, this will be the first opportunity for fans to experience the completely reimagined horror classic from home.

Aptly named the “1-Shot Demo,” players must take on the challenge of surviving the horrors of Raccoon City in just 30 minutes. If players complete the mission objective under 30 minutes, they can restart the mission until they use up their full time. If players succumb to the zombies during their 30 minutes, they can continue any number of times until the full 30 minutes have been reached.

The end of the demo reveals a brand new cinematic trailer exclusive to demo participants. While players cannot restart the playable demo after their time is up, there are no limitations on how many times the trailer can be viewed.

In the “1-Shot demo,” players step into the boots of rookie police officer Leon S. Kennedy as he arrives at Raccoon City Police Station in the ultimate worst first day on the job. Leon must survive vicious zombies and solve puzzles to find safe passage out of the station. With an entire building of flesh-eating nightmares lurking between Leon and his escape while the clock ticks down, players need to be sure they’re killing more than just time.

About Resident Evil 2
Using Capcom’s proprietary RE ENGINE, Resident Evil 2 offers a fresh take on the classic survival horror saga with breathtakingly realistic visuals, heart-poundingly immersive audio, a new over-the-shoulder camera, and modernized controls on top of gameplay modes from the original game. The classic action, tense exploration, and puzzle solving gameplay that defined the Resident Evil series returns. Players join rookie police officer Leon S. Kennedy and college student Claire Redfield, who are thrust together by a disastrous outbreak in Raccoon City that transformed its population into deadly zombies. Both Leon and Claire have their own separate playable campaigns, allowing players to see the story from both characters’ perspectives.

The full Resident Evil 2 game will be available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Windows PC on January 25, 2019.

Friday, 11 January 2019

Robin Hood: Film Review

Robin Hood: Film Review

Cast: Taron Egerton, Jamie Foxx, Jamie Dornan, Ben Mendelsohn, Eve Hewson, Tim Minchin
Director: Otto Bathurst

This is not the story you know.

So intones the voiceover that bookends the 2018 version of Robin Hood, a quite frankly baffling piece of film that seems intent on making a Call Of Duty version of the myth, and setting it against a backdrop of 80s rock video pyrotechnics.

Egerton is Robin of Loxley, a Lord of the manor of Nottingham, whose life is changed when he's drafted up to the crusades and torn from the love of his life Marian (Hewson, at times channelling a younger Emily Blunt). On returning injured from the Crusades, Robin (Rob to his mates, bizarrely) finds he's been declared dead - and teaming up with Foxx's John, he begins to rob from the Sheriff of Nottingham's war taxes to help.

But John advises him the best way to upset the apple cart, is to cosy up to the sheriff...
Robin Hood: Film Review

The 2018 version of Robin Hood is a film that's more about the fast cuts, and action than the subtlety and nuance of other versions.

Mixing comedy as well, Robin Hood feels like a hybrid of so many different elements from its Iraq war style Crusades opening through to its death-metal pyrotechnics; nothing quite gels as it should.

And while Egerton delivers a variant of his Kingsman character, and gives The Hood some vigilante justice elements that wouldn't feel out of place in a CW series, there's very much a feeling of Foxx playing Alfred to Egerton's Bruce Wayne in the start of Batman Begins.

There's a hint of Bathurst playing fast and loose with style here and trying to set up a sort of Robin Hood cinematic universe (implied by its end), but what transpires is a film that flounders for any identity of its own, other than a downpat action wannabe.

It's set up well as an idea, but Robin Hood fails to hit the mark as much as it should, making it feel like a splendid misfire more than anything else.

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Eighth Grade: Film Review

Eighth Grade: Film Review

Cast: Elsie Fisher, Josh Hamilton
Director: Bo Burnham

Riddled with acne, and with the constant fluorescent glow of either her phone or her computer screen, Elsie Fisher's Kayla is on the cusp of high school.

Voted the "Most Quiet" in the end-of-school awards, Kayla is an aspiring vlogger, whose views are pitiful to non-existent, and whose existence goes largely unnoticed by others.

Pontificating on topics such as "being yourself" and signing off with a faux Gucci emblem, Kayla is lacking in confidence in real life, and embarrassed by others. But realising she's needs to come out of herself more as she readies herself for the move to a new school, Kayla's journey begins with herself making the first step.
Eighth Grade: Film Review

Documentary in feel, and intimate yet universal in scope, Eighth Grade is adolescent awkwardness pushed through an excruciating prism.

Burnham intricately details the day-to-day routines of the teens obsessed by phones and Instagram culture; whether it's batting off the endless matey chat of her father at the dinner table when she'd rather be connected to the aspirational online life of others or trying to fit in around the teen cliques, there's much insight into the pressures of teen life nowadays.

Ennui laces high school shooting drills, and Fisher brings a degree of recognisable empathy to Kayla, grounded largely in the fact that we've all been there, and all done it.

Extended scenes feel like they pile on the awkwardness as teens try to connect to each other, scrabbling for conversations that mark them out as cool or worthy of interaction. This is a teen film for all ages, and does have humour in unexpected places, as well as themes that are more redolent in such a socially aware age.

But Burnham never makes Eighth Grade preachy. It feels in many ways, like a chronicling of what teens face - from pressures to conform to an endless parade of adult embarrassments; there's a deadpan touch to much of this, but it's verite rather than Napoleon Dynamite.

In fact, this is why Eighth Grade succeeds and doesn't outstay its welcome.

Restrained and grounded, the film's fine observations will ring true in audiences of all ages; it's a small intricate piece that is as fine a debut as you'd expect. It's not a film where anything major happens, but manages to get you into the mindset of how everything that happens is potentially devastating for Kayla's state of mind and place in the world.

Ultimately, Eighth Grade is about a quest for acceptance, and all the awkwardness that comes with it - it's a fairly haunting portrayal of growing up, and a quiet triumph of the pressures faced by teenagers everywhere.

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

The Nun: DVD Review

The Nun: DVD Review

The Conjuring universe gets its own Cloisters Encounters of the Interred Kind with this latest spin-off from the series, following on from the success of spooky doll Annabelle.
The Nun: Film Review

A priest with a haunted past (Bichir) and a novice (American Horror Story's Farmiga) on the threshold of her final vows are sent by the Vatican to investigate the apparent suicide of a young nun in Romania.

When they arrive, they hear tales from local delivery boy Frenchie (Bloquet) of what's happened, but are forced to confront a malevolent force in the form of a demonic nun. (Which will be familiar to those of James Wan's Conjuring films.)

You know what you're in for with The Nun.

Though in fairness, most of what transpires feels derivative and all-too familiar to really stand out on its own.

The Nun: Film Review

Essentially building a religious Mulder and Scully in the leads, and throwing in elements of The Exorcist, Buffy The Vampire Slayer's Hellmouth and spooky goings on in smoky cemeteries, The Nun does well to build an atmosphere of unease, and tensions with some sequences feeling like they've been dragged to the absolute edge of what suspense can do.

However, it becomes clear that what's being touted as "the darkest chapter of The Conjuring universe" doesn't quite believe in its own hype, with a series of corny dialogue moments mixed in with some truly awful comedy, which combine to puncture any kind of horror you may be feeling in your stomach.

It's a shame because the weighty issue of the sin of suicide at the start really sets a darker tone for the Transylvanian shot film - and it's a welcome one, but one sadly dispatched with for some jump scares and some horror punchlines which fall flat.

As the film progresses the wildly veering tone does more to unnerve than any horrors could do, and no amount of fleeting-out-of-the-corner-of-your-eye moments can rebuild what's being torn down.

The Nun: Film Review

Every horror works when the fear is primal, the boogeyman is lurking in the shadows to grab you - and it's here that Hardy works some cinematic magic, using corridors to great effect and pushing you as far as you can go.

But ultimately, The Nun doesn't quite capture its premise; its habit of providing some solid sequences (which look ripped from storyboards and writ large) don't quite gel together because of the sabotaging of its own narrative, and the film dissolves into a catacomb-set finale that's less climactic than it ought to be.

All in all, The Nun's penchant for unevenness is its undoing; it may offer a few moments of terror, but its proclivity for puncturing its own smarter edges make this one spinoff that doesn't quite prove to be as haunting or as much an atmospheric carny ride of terror as it ought to be. 

Monday, 7 January 2019

Ladies In Black: DVD Review

Ladies In Black: DVD Review

Pleasingly gentle and relentlessly pleasant, Bruce Beresford's period drama Ladies In Black is one of those cautionary films that feels contemporary with its message that refugees add much to the country mix.
Ladies In Black: Film Review

Set in 1950s Sydney in a downtown department store, Goodes, it's the tale of Lesley (Rice, in bookish form, who takes up a summer job with the ladies working there.

On the cusp of moving away from being a child and into womanhood, Rice's Lesley yearns to be at university and a poet or actress, but her desire to embrace a new life is met with indifference from most of her uncultured co-workers and indignation from her father who's not sure he wants his daughter at uni.

But taken under the wing of Julia Ormond's refugee haute couture dresser Magda, Lesley begins to flourish...

Ladies In Black: Film Review

Ladies In Black doesn't do conflict.

There are elements of it hinted within the kind of fluffiness that an older generation will enjoy, but its messages of female empowerment and of refugees adding much to the cultural mix come in easy to swallow doses, with nary a hint of major drama anywhere.

A side-plot involving one of the shop staff losing her husband is bizarre at best; but there are some nice touches throughout the frothiness that hint at more below. Shots of various members of staff at Christmas add a soupcon of something undisturbed and unexpanded, because Ladies In Black isn't interested in spinning anything other than a slightly rose-coloured tinted look at life in 50s Sydney.

It's not exactly a shame, and it's clear Beresford and his capable direction is not looking to rock the apple cart, but when a film is best described as gentle and pleasant, you can tell there is more that could have been done.

Ormond, Rice and Taylor give creditable performances, and the rest of the ensemble works well, but ultimately Ladies In Black isn't interested in doing much more than delivering a film that keeps an older generation amused.

Ladies In Black: Film Review

The storylines don't challenge, the threats don't mount up and the denouements can be predicted a mile off - but in terms of today's cinematic offerings, its desire to play safe and unswerving from predictable is possibly to be commended - as this is easily a film you can take your mum and your nan too, and not worry about a thing. 

Sunday, 6 January 2019

Instant Family: Film Review

Instant Family: Film Review

Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Rose Byrne, Isabella Moner, Octavia Spencer
Director: Sean Anders

It's easy to be cynical in the face of Instant Family, a Hollywood movie about fostering that ends up in a gloop of manufactured sentiment and predictability that underscores its premise.

And yet, much like The Big Sick drew deep from the well of personal experience for Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon, Instant Family's vein of veracity comes from director Sean Anders' autobiographical input into the script.

Byrne and Wahlberg and Ellie and Pete, a couple who decide fostering is the way to go to help them out of the rut of their lives. Believing their house flipping mentality will help with parenting (fix them up, move them on), the couple find themselves drawn to teen Lizzie (Dora The Explorer's Moner).

However, social workers warn them that Lizzie comes with two younger siblings and a mother who's a drug addict, and in and out of their lives.

But, Ellie and Pete are determined to press on with the adoption - no matter what it may bring.

Instant Family deserves kudos for putting a face on adoption, so rarely seen in movies of this type, where the kids are usually portrayed as kooky and the system is a breeze.

In the first third of the film, Instant Family's commitment to a heart-breaking truth is to be duly applauded, with much of the movie doing a lot to break stereotypes and introduce some kind of complexities to what actually transpires. Its honesty will resonate with those caught within, and will open eyes for others unaware of how the reality of the system can be.

It's largely due to the reality of what Anders went through, but by keeping the core cast of characters real and grounded, Instant Family may open a lot of doors to the idea of fostering, and provide some harsh truths that are often glossed over. It's rare to see such honesty in a broad studio product, and while Instant Family strays away from too much didacticism, its commitment to honesty, punctuated with humour, is extremely commendable.

It helps that Byrne - and believe it or not, Wahlberg - are genuinely likeable, with their neuroses and foibles feeling greatly relatable, and helping the audience through some of the more sentimental edges that creep in as the inevitabilities of going through the Hollywood machine mount up.

Broad as it needs to be (and not always to its credit, thanks to populating some of the outer characters as kooks), Instant Family's pleasantries make it a dramedy that's worth enduring, even if the ending can be seen a mile off.

It may be a touch manipulative, and be mocked for being so by those unaware of the complexities of being a part of the system, but Instant Family more than delivers on its promise to sell a message.

That's no bad thing, but given the film has laughs when it needs to and has a receptive audience onside because of it, this is actually a family worth hanging out with over the Christmas and New Year period.

Saturday, 5 January 2019

The Wife: DVD Review

The Wife: DVD Review

Slow-burning and blessed with two powerhouse leads, the adaptation of Meg Wolitzer's 2003 novel, The Wife is definitely a film for those older in years looking to reflect.
The Wife: Film Review

Close and Pryce are husband and wife Joan and Joe Castleman, whose lives are irrevocably changed when Joe gets a call offering him a Nobel peace prize, to be awarded in Stockholm for his writing.

As they head off to the ceremony for the literary award, Joe's agog at what's ahead and Joan is the supportive long-suffering wife who sits in the background, happy to keep him on schedule and out of the limelight.

But as the ceremony nears, tensions rear between the two as their history is thrown into the spotlight.

The Wife: Film Review

The Wife is a perfectly fine piece of drama, that bogs itself down with its flashbacks and exposition.

The desire to explore this blowhard husband and the stoic wife stutters as it jump between the past and now, with the best part of the work coming in the present as the powderkeg nears explosion.

It helps that Close and Pryce spar well, and equally gel; their portrayal of a long marriage and of decisions made in the past help anchor the piece as it chops and changes. If Close is strong in her delivery, stoic and still in her building rage and regret, Pryce is equally dismissive and oblivious to what's around him.

Close is very much the patient glue which holds the drama together, a nuanced turn that anchors proceedings as the reflections play out. The wry delivery of some of the lines also provide plenty of barbs as well, with the screenplay built very much on the three-act play approach.

The Wife: Film Review

Ultimately, The Wife soars when it deals its hand of the present day fallout of the past. And a clever examination of some of the final wording proves delicious in many ways as well.

But The Wife flounders in its execution of the past, and confuses the reasoning adopted by some of the lead characters; it remains enigmatic and like a stageplay in its execution - though overall, that's no bad thing. 

Friday, 4 January 2019

Cold War: Film Review

Cold War: Film Review

Cast: Joanna Kulig, Tomasz Kot
Director: Pawel Pawlikoswki

Ending with a truly extraordinary final shot, Pawlikoswki's love story Cold War is a paean to the golden age of cinema and the universality of a romantic tale.
Cold War: Film Review

Shot in black and white and set in post-war Poland, it's the tale of composer Wiktor (Kot) and auditionee Zula (Kulig) who are attracted to each other, even though their fates should not be intertwined.

Landing a role in his troupe, Zula bewitches Wiktor, and as they cross Eastern Europe touring, their lines become more blurred, and their roles in each other's lives stronger than expected.

Cold War opens with local villagers singing and proceeds to let the cameras linger on the musical numbers and the committed performances of the singers. In fact, as it progresses, you could almost feel that Pawlikoski's more determined to archive local folk music and lore, before the story of Wiktor and Zula kicks in.
Cold War: Film Review

It is transcendantly shot; every frame oozes class as the black and white gives an eternal veneer to what plays out, but equally, the leads demand your attention to.

Kot channels inherent tragedy and frustration as Wiktor, the man for whom circumstance proves ruinous. Equally, Kulig has the kind of charm that lights up a love story throughout the years, and gives more than enough clout to the arc as it plays out.
Cold War: Film Review

Ultimately, Cold War will thaw even the most hardened of hearts as it dances the line between wondrously shot musical moments on stage and then veers toward the emotional intimacy of a relationship that shouldn't be.

Steeped in pathos, and riddled with seductive tones, Cold War is a luminous film that possesses a timelessness which is hard to deny.

Thursday, 3 January 2019

A Simple Favor: DVD Review

A Simple Favor: DVD Review

Better known for his comedies like Ghostbusters, Paul Feig turns his directing eye to an adaptation of the 2017 novel from Darcey Bell.
A Simple Favor: Film Review

Attempting to make it film-noir, but still imbuing it with comedic sensibilities and campy touches, A Simple Favor is the story of vlogger Stephanie Smothers (Kendrick, by far and away the best thing in this film) a nerdy widower and mother-of-one who strikes up an unlikely friendship with upmarket fellow Emily Nelson (Lively, suitably bitchy when needed, but unable to fulfill some of the film's requirements).

Entranced by Nelson's drink-during-the-day mentality, Smothers and Nelson become BFFs. One day, however, when Smothers is left to pick up Nelson's child, she doesn't return, prompting fears she's gone AWOL in the most sinister of fashions....

As Stephanie investigates, she begins to discover something sinister...

A Simple Favor: Film Review

A Simple Favor works on some levels, and fails on some others.

The aforementioned comedy touches don't quite gel with the desire to go a bit darker here and there, and Kendrick's Nancy Drew type digging is sometimes foiled by an unevenness of tone, which, while not fatal to proceedings, can occasionally deliver a whiplash which is hard to shake.

Thankfully, Kendrick holds a lot of this together, going the full gamut from nerdish outsider caught up in the bitchiness of small-town school-gate gossip to empowered crusader, inspired by Emily's laissez-faire dismissal and attitude to life. Kendrick more than delivers, peppering her preppiness with the kind of touches employed in Pitch Perfect.

Lively isn't quite as strong, and while Emily's boozy detachment is a hard one to play, she doesn't quite hit the convictions needed late in the piece. Equally, Crazy Rich Asians' star Henry Golding delivers a too-nice-to-be-true turn that complements, but doesn't elevate what's going on.

A Simple Favor: Film Review

Ultimately, the outlandish twists of the noir and the comedy slightly foil some of the final suspense, and there's a little too much garbled exposition at the end delivered without breath or pause.

These are minor niggles though, and there's much to be said for the stylish execution and the sassy French OST.

A Simple Favor is a smart watch in places, but the tonal mixes, while never fatal, do make the overall effect less powerful than it could have been - and it's saved solely by an exceptional Anna Kendrick. 

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Crazy Rich Asians: DVD Review

Crazy Rich Asians: DVD Review

In truth, Crazy Rich Asians is a masterpiece of staging and hollow spectacle.
Crazy Rich Asians: Film Review

It's a tale as old as time itself, one which dabbles in fairy tales, and enigmatically weaves some very familiar threads in among opulent gaudiness. It's almost satirical in ways, if it wasn't such a blatant  and shallow piece at heart.

It's your classic girl (Wu) meets boy (Golding), girl dates boy for a year, blissfully unaware that said boy is part of a mega-rich family and who tries to introduce girl to her snooty mother (Yeoh), who's dismissive of the differences between the two.

Along the way, throw in some very familiar and very obvious cultural issues and jealousies, stir it all up et voila, Crazy Rich Asians.

Crazy Rich Asians: Film Review

And yet, if the tale is an all too hoary rote one, the rom com greatly benefits from some truly globally impressive cinematography (it's like a tourism board advert for Singapore at times) and some directorial flourishes from Chu himself.

Whether it's showing off the excess, drowning the screen in swathes of local culture (hello, extended street vendors montage) or thrusting to prominence the Asian way of life and actors, it's clear why Crazy Rich Asians is having a moment to shine.

Like the subject matter, it's a little indulgent and overlong, and certainly, some of the sequences feel like they could have been excised from the 2 hour run time, and in parts, it has to be said that some of the narrative feels weaker than it ought to be, an excuse to join together the dots of its paper thin characters, and kill some time prior to the next luxurious sequence.

But Wu shines, as does Yeoh, with what little they have; and Humans star Gemma Chan brings more than enough to the table as the subject of potential sequels.

Crazy Rich Asians: Film Review

In this obvious tale of family clashes and of tradition, Crazy Rich Asians rightly deserves the applause it's getting for bringing the culture to a wider audience, and by telling a very familiar story complete with broad brush strokes in what will be to many, unfamiliar surroundings. It's the very essence of representation and is also somehow the epitome of where 2018 has marked the turning point.

But for cinema purists, looking for a little more perhaps, Crazy Rich Asians could do with an expeditious trim, a plumping of some of the elements of its Jane Austen edges and a bit more of a killer hook. Here's hoping the sequels manage this - and more.

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

2019 is upon us, and here's wishing you all a 2019 that's practically perfect in every way possible!

Happy New Year, and all the best to you and yours for 2019!

Happy New Year!