Tuesday, 31 August 2021

The Broken Hearts Gallery: Neon NZ Film Review

The Broken Hearts Gallery: Neon NZ Film Review

There's nothing wrong with a good rom-com.

Although it's very easy to be very cynical about the familiar paths they follow and the story beats they hit.

The Broken Hearts Gallery: Film Review

However, The Broken Hearts Gallery has one secret weapon in its arsenal - its Australian star Geraldine Viswanathan.

Viswanathan is Lucy, a New York City- based relationship hoarder who keeps memorabilia from break ups and exes and who really has a problem moving on. As her friends politely put it early on, she's gone from sentimental to full-mental.

When wannabe gallery owner Lucy's dumped by her partner and sacked from her art job, she hits a funk. 

But having met boutique hotel developer Dacre Montgomery's Nick by mistake and in a moment of genius, Lucy decides on an art gallery that showcases material from exes. That becomes a viral sensation, putting Lucy back on the up...

The Broken Hearts Gallery is a zingy, lively romcom that descends into the expected schmaltz and tropes of the genre in its final 20 minutes.

However, it soars in large parts because of its lead.

Viswanathan's unending energy, quirk and upbeat portrayal of Lucy is a star-in-the-making turn. It's hard to be cynical when confronted by her work in this, which builds greatly on the comedy she brought to Blockers and the drama she had in Bad Education. 

Equally impressive is just how much diversity and empowerment there is in this film.

The Broken Hearts Gallery: Film Review

Sure, you can argue in large parts it fails the Bechedel Test, but quite frankly, who cares? Krinksy's commitment to female friendship, group mentality and mates is utterly winning. That's not to say supporting characters aren't underwritten either - there's a full roster of solid stand-alones who make the film what it is.

Ultimately, The Broken Hearts Gallery is a breezy film that offers much to the rom-com genre without massively subverting it. It will break your heart and leave your sides splitting too - it's a none-too-timely reminder that good comedies are rare beasts - and stars in waiting like  Geraldine Viswanathan are all too rare, and excellent to watch.

Monday, 30 August 2021

What to watch on Netflix, Disney+, Neon NZ, DocPlay, Amazon Prime Video and TVNZ OnDemand in September

What to watch on Netflix, Disney+, Neon NZ, DocPlay, Amazon Prime Video and TVNZ OnDemand in September

Another month rolls around, and there's no sign of any letting up in any of the streaming options available to dive into.

Here's what to watch on Netflix, Disney+, Neon NZ, DocPlay, Amazon Prime Video and TVNZ OnDemand in September.

Dug Days (Disney+, September 1)
Dug Days (Disney+, September 1)

Pixar Animation Studios’ “Dug Days” is a series of shorts that follows the humorous misadventures of Dug, the lovable dog from Disney and Pixar’s “Up.” 

What We Do In The Shadows (Neon, September 3)
What We Do In The Shadows (Neon, September 3)

The US vampires are back and better than ever before.
What We Do in the Shadows follows four vampires who've "lived” together for hundreds of years. In season three, the vampires are elevated to a new level of power and will encounter the vampire from which all vampires have descended, a tempting Siren, gargoyles, werewolf kickball, Atlantic City casinos, wellness cults, ex-girlfriends, gyms and supernatural curiosities galore. 

Jono and Ben: Good Sports (TVNZ OnDemand, September 9)
Jono and Ben: Good Sports (TVNZ OnDemand, September 9)

Jono Pryor and Ben Boyce return to our screens in Jono & Ben: Good Sports.
The series follows the infamous comedic duo as they meet local characters who take part in unique sports, contests and competitions around Aotearoa. From wrestling to chilli eating, roller derby to speed cubing, New Zealand is overflowing with unknown sporting heroes, and Jono and Ben are eager to see just what it takes to be the best of the rest.
Stay tuned to catch all the action when Jono and Ben head to our smallest towns and biggest cities to meet the passionate Kiwis excelling in the unexpected.

The Voyeurs (Amazon Prime Video, September 10)
The Voyeurs (Amazon Prime Video, September 10)

Breathing new life into the forgotten genre of erotic thriller The Voyeurs stars Sydney Sweeney (White Lotus) who moves into a new apartment with her boyfriend with great views of more than just Downtown Montreal. What starts as innocent curiosity, a glimpse at the glamorous couple who live across the street, turns into an all-out dangerous obsession asking the question, "Is it okay to watch?" 

Kate (Netflix, September 10)

Kate (Netflix, September 10)

Continuing Netflix's a movie a week philosophy, this latest stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Miku Martineau, Woody Harrelson, Michiel Huisman, and Tadanobu Asano.

Slipped a fatal poison on her final job, a ruthless assassin (Winstead) working in Tokyo has less than 24 hours to find out who ordered the hit and exact revenge.

American Rust (Neon, September 13)

American Rust (Neon, September 13)

American Rust is a compelling family drama that explores the tattered American dream through the eyes of complicated and compromised chief of police Del Harris in a Rust Belt town in southwest Pennsylvania. When the woman he truly loves sees her son accused of murder, Harris is forced to decide what he's willing to do to protect him. Starring Jeff Daniels and Maura Tierney.

Scenes from a Marriage (Neon, September 14)

Scenes from a Marriage (Neon, September 14)

Adapted from Ingmar Bergman's 1973 Swedish classic, developed, written, and directed by Hagai Levi, and starring Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain, Scenes From a Marriage re-examines the show's iconic depiction of love, hatred, desire, monogamy, marriage, and divorce through the lens of a contemporary American couple.

Reservation Dogs (Star, September 15)
Reservation Dogs (Star, September 15)

From Co-Creators and Executive Producers Sterlin Harjo and Taika Waititi, Reservation Dogs is a half-hour comedy that follows the exploits of four Indigenous teenagers in rural Oklahoma who steal, rob and save in order to get to the exotic, mysterious and faraway land of California.

Nailed It (Netflix, September 15)
Nailed It (Netflix, September 15)

Home bakers with a terrible track record take a crack at re-creating edible masterpieces for a cash prize. It's part reality contest, part hot mess. Starring once again Nicole Byer and Jacques Torres, this series is a welcome return thanks to its cheeky hosts and its tongue in cheek approach to any of us trying to bake at home, but scared of failure.

Isle of Dogs (Star, September 17)
Isle of Dogs (Star, September 17)

When all the canine pets of Megasaki City are exiled to vast Trash Island, 12-year-old Atari Kobayashi embarks on an epic journey in search of his bodyguard dog, Spots.
Wes Anderson's stop motion once again shines in a film that's furry and fun, as well as blessed with the usual idiosyncratic quirks.

Everybody's Talking About Jamie (Amazon Prime Video, September 17)
Everybody's Talking About Jamie (Amazon Prime Video, September 17)

Keeping with the musical theme and inspired by true events, Everybody's Talking About Jamie follows Jamie, a teenager from Sheffield, who dreams of life on stage. 
While his classmates plan their livelihoods after they leave school, Jamie contemplates revealing his secret career ambition to become a fierce and proud drag queen. In rousing and colourful musical numbers, Jamie and his community inspire one another to overcome prejudice, be more accepting, and to step out of the darkness into the spotlight. 

Star Wars: Visions (Disney+, September 22)
Star Wars: Visions (Disney+, September 22)

Star Wars Visions is an anthology of animated shorts celebrating Star Wars through the lens of the world’s best anime creators and storytellers.

The Starling (Netflix, September 24)

The Starling (Netflix, September 24)

A woman adjusting to life after a loss contends with a feisty bird that's taken over her garden — and a husband who's struggling to find a way forward.

Starring Melissa McCarthy and Chris O'Dowd.

Win a copy of Wellington Paranormal, season 3 on DVD

Win a copy of Wellington Paranormal, season 3 on DVD

To celebrate the release of Wellington Paranormal, season 3 on DVD, thanks to Madman Home Entertainment, you can win a copy!

Wellington Paranormal season 3

Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi's What We Do In The Shadows spinoff, Wellington Paranormal, sees Officers Minogue, O'Leary and Sergeant Maaka back investigating all manner of supernatural events on the streets of Aotearoa's ca­pital city.
Win a copy of Wellington Paranormal, season 3 on DVD

Sunday, 29 August 2021

The Croods 2: A New Age: Neon NZ Film Review

The Croods 2: A New Age: Neon NZ Film Review

Seven years after its first outing, the stone age family returns in a sequel that's all about the zany, and the gorgeous visuals than a massively strong story.

With Eep and Guy (Stone and Reynolds) still going strong, the prehistoric Croods are continuing to search for a safer home, where something is not always waiting to kill them. But when they discover a walled paradise run by the Betterman family (Mann and Dinklage), who are a couple of steps ahead of them on the evolution scale, it becomes a battle between neighbours...
The Croods: A New Age: Film Review

The parenting parable that is The Croods: A New Age is good strong family film that may lack some of the originality of the first film but which delivers a frenetic and fun 90 minutes at the movies.

It helps that the animation is gorgeously presented, from wondrously coloured vistas to bright hues writ large upon the screen. The whole film sings with vibrancy and while it doesn't reinvent the stone age wheel, its zaniness does occasionally come with a price.

Lessons are espoused with ease and understanding, but in the final third of the film, there's a slight lull, before the script throws one last wacky turn into proceedings. There are times when it feels like there's a lot going on on the screen, but the all-ages fun element papers over some of the cracks of the narrative.
The Croods: A New Age: Film Review

The world-widening of The Croods: A New Age delivers more options for spinoffs of the Stone Age, and in truth, that's no bad thing. Sure, there's a level of emotion missing from this prehistoric proffering, but this is full-on family fun that more than delivers a few life lessons in among the full-on animated antics.

Saturday, 28 August 2021

Only Murders In The Building: Season 1: Review

Only Murders In The Building: Season 1: Review

Cast: Steve Martin, Selena Gomez, Martin Short

A millennial, a washed up Broadway producer and a former TV detective.

It sounds like the start of a bad joke, but it's actually the central characters of a sparklingly witty series that's launching on Disney+ on August 31.
Only Murders In The Building: Season 1: Review

Set in New York in an apartment building, the cult of true crime podcasts and how they've swept the world is cleverly tapped into in Steve Martin's smart and sassy drama series over its 10 episode run.
When the seemingly disparate trio of characters meet after their building is evacuated, they discover they have one thing in common - a love of a true crime podcast that they're desperate to see resolved.

There's Steve Martin's Charles Hayden Savage, an actor who made a career playing a TV detective in a long running series; there's Selena Gomez's millennial Mabel, who's doing up her aunt's apartment and there's Martin Short's Broadway producer Oliver who's never quite able to get a show up and running. All three live in the same building but barely cross paths - until they discover this shared passion.

It's a passion further ignited when they discover someone in their building has been killed and set out to solve the case, believing police were wrong to label it a suicide....

Only Murders in the Building is a blast, a light frothy tonic to an increasinly wearying year.

It's a show that deconstructs the true crime narratives, plays with some of the tropes of the genre and delivers more than enough farce and frivolity over its 10 episodes as the trio discover twists and turns along the way.
Only Murders In The Building: Season 1: Review

In truth, while the show could have easily lost 2 episodes (a Sting-related episode is a real chore, an in-joke that's way too self-indulgent and not at all as funny as the writers believed it would be), the central mystery propels along the show's narrative with ease. (Though, there's a minor argument to be had for a relative lack of diversity in the apartment building's characters - the only sign of any other New York life tends to come from a brief appearance from a police detective).

One episode (The Boy From 6B) is simply one of the best episodes of TV committed to the small screen this year, hinging its entire runtime on a simple hook - of which to say more would be a spoiler of its own. But if this episode isn't nominated for something when the time comes, then it's a major crime of its own which will need investigating.

However, while the narrative, meta touches and jokey atmosphere are more than enough (one episode ends with Short's Boradway producer declaring this would be a perfect line with which to end an episode before cutting to titles), it's the peppy dialogue, caustic asides and repartie between Martin's grumpy loner and Short's effervescent failure of a producer that give the script so much life and joy. 

From witty oneliners to hints of pathos amid the musings of loneliness inside an apartment building, there's enough in the script to deliver on more than the farce that it occasionally employs.

Coupled with a truly iconic opening theme, Only Murders in the Building is perhaps one of the best TV series made in 2021. And while the ending doesn't quite stick the landing and its resolution feels a little too easy, this caper-filled journey is a comedy route well worth taking. With each episode lasting only 30 minutes, and the cast such a delight to watch, it really would be a crime to miss this series.

Only Murders In The Building streams on Star on Disney+ from August 31.

Friday, 27 August 2021

Vacation Friends: Film Review

Vacation Friends: Disney+ Review

Cast: John Cena, Lil Rel Howery,Meredith Hagner, Yvonne Oriji
Director: Clay Tarver

Vacation Friends is the kind of film that has potential.
Vacation Friends: Disney+ Review

This supposedly raucous no-holds barred movie focuses on Howery's uptight Marcus, who's heading off on holiday to Mexico with his girlfriend Nancy (Oriji, given very little to do).

While Marcus has mapped out everything to within an inch of its life, he finds his plans disrupted by the chaotic and easy-going Ron and Kyla (Cena and Hagner). When their free-spirited approach trashes Marcus' hotel room and proposal, Ron and Kyla invite the couple to stay with them - and force them into becoming friends for the week they're on vacation.

However, when Marcus and Nancy go their separate ways from Ron and Kyla, promises to keep in touch fall by the wayside - until they crash back into each other's lives.

There's supposed to be a culture clash comedy in this movie, a riff on the usual approach to the films like this.

However, it's so abysmally executed that every single moment of this movie is populated with lazy jokes, obvious gags signposted a mile off and situations that are just ludicrously unfunny.
Vacation Friends: Disney+ Review

From Hagner's annoyingly dumb blonde playing to the lowest stereotypes to Howery's riff on what would normally be the squawking Kevin Hart role, Vacation Friends aims for every single low-hanging fruit - and still somehow manages to miss every single one of them.

Cena manages to unwillingly get rid of any goodwill his comedy turns in the likes of Trainwreck and The Suicide Squad may have garnered, by playing as dumb as can be, while showcasing his abs and propensity for over-acting whenever the scene demands it. (And sometimes when it does not).

Howery, on a roll since Ryan Reynolds' Free Guy, does the best he can with a script that demands less of its actors than it does its audience, but even he can't hold back the tide of vacuous emotion and unbelievable sequences that play out.

There are moments of Vacation Friends which recall elements of Couples Retreat, and while it's great to see a mainly African-American cast at the centre of a comedy like this, the film has no heart in its chest, no fire in its comedy belly, and no desire to make any of its 103 minutes enjoyable or memorable.

Vacation Friends is the kind of film that should live by the motto "What happens on vacation, stays on vacation." Because frankly, it would have been better for all concerned if this holiday outing was forgotten forever.

Thursday, 26 August 2021

Cruella: Blu Ray Review

Cruella: Blu Ray Review

There's a vampish, punk-filled energy to fuel much of the first hour of Cruella, a film that, at times, feels far from the Disney fold as it could.

A powerhouse performance from Emma Stone as Estella / Cruella elevates the film, set in 1970s London where an orphaned Estella falls in with a couple of street grifters  Jasper and Horace (Fry, excellent throughout, but overshadowed by a more showy performance from Richard Jewell's Hauser).

Cruella: Film Review

A frustrated wannabe fashionista, Estella is given a chance to be part of the Baroness fashion world, overseen by Emma Thompson's queen bitch. (Yes, there are elements of The De-Vil Wears Prada and the student usurps the master here). But when Estella falls foul of the Baroness' selfishness, her "bit of an extreme side" comes out...

Sure, there is a little of the "Maleficent-is-just-misunderstood" ethos that became prevalent with Disney making background stories for their villains, and it's a shame that those in charge never fully commit to the idea of Cruella being bad and embrace it in their revenge story.

But with a film that's so gorgeously stylish, so sumptuously costumed, draped in a thrilling aesthetic and so well cast in its leads, it almost doesn't matter. 

From a sublime 70s soundtrack to some truly wondrous costuming, Cruella is brash, ballsy and a little bit brilliant in its first hour when it really matters. More a celebration of  Brit punk fashion and London vibes than a deep look at Cruella's malignant creation, Cruella has a barnstorming first hour that makes you remember why cinema is so blow-the-doors-down brilliant. 

Packed with gusto, energy and just a vibrant joie de vivre, it's all centred by Stone's turn. Channeling the kind of star power and screen presence she easily held in Easy A, this is head and shoulders one of her best performances, usurping Emma Thompson's more villainous Baroness with ease. Her Cruella is a little more nuance, even if early on, it's played a little more like a fight between dominant personalities struggling within her psyche.(Yes, there are Joker parallels a-plenty).

Cruella suffers from being overly long, with the punkish energy and montages of Cruella stealing the limelight proving to be the glue between some of the more rote edges of the wannabe darker-edged script, but there's honestly a lot to love about this style-over-substance outing from Disney.

Around the halfway mark, the film begins to lose some of its lust for life, and the script struggles to really justify the full-blown transformation that occurs and the tonal whiplash becomes a little jarring. (Equally, Mark Strong is viciously sidelined in a film that would have benefited from more of his mellifluous tones and screen presence).

Ultimately, Cruella may be a film of two halves, but it's saved by the sheer energy of its opening acts. Packed with bluster and bravado, it makes the film a must-see on the big screen for its first 60 minutes alone - and thankfully, Stone and Thompson give their leading ladies the edge and the sass to make this an at times, Dev-il-ish treat.

Wednesday, 25 August 2021

Luca: Blu Ray Review

Luca: Blu Ray Review

A sweet, but insubstantial, tale of friendship Luca may be, but its literal fish-out-of-water story may leave some feeling like Pixar has lost some of its edge - despite powering on as ever with some truly gorgeous visuals.
Luca: Film Review

Half the problem is that Luca feels like a mesh of other stories from the Disney back catalogue - elements of Cinderella, proponents of Finding Nemo and The Little Mermaid all persist in among the charm.

Room's Jacob Tremblay is the Luca of the title, a fish-kid who doesn't quite fit in. Spending the day underwater off Italy's coast, shepherding guppy fish around and protecting them from "land monsters" who live in boats on the surface, he yearns for something more.

When Luca goes above the surface by accident, thanks to Grazer's Alberto, he transforms into a boy and finds a whole new world opening to him. After Luca's parents find out and threaten to banish him to the bottom of the sea, Luca and Alberto run away to a seaside Italian riviera and embrace the summer lifestyle.
Luca: Film Review

But the village lives in fear of the sea monsters they believe are haunting their waters...

A love letter to Italy, carefree summers with new friends, Vespas and seeing the wonder of the world for the first time, Pixar's Luca is a charmingly delightful little film that's nicely executed and has a central message of acceptance within.

Casarosa's clearly left these villages in Italy behind, but has lived with their idyllic memories for years, ensuring the animators have translated their charm to the big screen with ease. But in populating these vistas with some admittedly stereotyped individuals (the grumpy fisherman, the heavily-accented braggadacio, the frumpy fisherwives), those behind Luca have failed really to imbue the film with the kind of timeless heart that Pixar's become known for.

It is adorable in parts, thanks to the leads' big eyes as the sea monsters replete with their big swathe of purple and blue fins, and both Tremblay and Grazer make fine protagonists.
Luca: Film Review

But if anything, Luca feels like a short, stretched out more to a story that probably needed just a little more polish.

In its opening frenzy of love and admiration for Italy's finest, the film soars; Vespas and countrysides collide with the giddy pleasures of finding new friends. It's just that in the latter portions of the film, it just doesn't quite coalesce into much more.

Tuesday, 24 August 2021

Spider-Man: No Way Home teaser trailer arrives

Spider-Man: No Way Home teaser trailer arrives

The first look at the upcoming Spider-Man: No Way Home has arrived.

And it's brought with it Doc Ock and Doctor Strange - as well as a few other surprises.
Spider-Man: No Way Home teaser trailer arrives

Starring Tom Holland, Zendaya and Benedict Cumberbatch, Spider-Man: No Way Home arrives in cinemas December 26.

Watch the Spider-Man: No Way Home teaser trailer below, web-slingers.

Girls Can't Surf: DVD Review

Girls Can't Surf: DVD Review

The amiable documentary Girls Can't Surf aims to provide a deep look at what the surfing industry did in the 1980s and how years of systemic division and inherent sexism prevented women from rising to the top.

Unfortunately, what emerges is more of a surface-level oral history of the times.

It's nicely presented, from the use of talking heads of the top female surfing talent of the time to plenty of archive material. But there's little accountability in this tale of women being victimised throughout their careers - and little current day reaction to what's occurred, other than a few talking heads.

Girls Can't Surf does aim to be empowering, and the tales of the likes of Frieda Zamba, Wendy Botha, Jodie Cooper, Pam Burridge and Pauline Menczer triumphing in various forms is vaguely inspiring and empowering in some ways, and totally damning of the conditions of the 1980s surfing "workplace."

Girls Can't Surf: Movie Review

Few men emerge well from this, with comments over women never being able to compete in this or any other sport and saying they should be sponsored by perfume companies rather than surfing gear causing many a cringe to any audience.

But Nelius is less interested in dealing to these comments, preferring to condemn them from a distance, rather than address them overtly. One surfer mentions how anorexia pushed her to the edge, and the camera lingers before moving on - it's symptomatic of what Nelius is doing here, exploring issues solely at a surface level.

There's a catharsis of sorts when the pay parity issue is resolved, but given a background of women sniping against each other and rivalries unexplored but touched upon, the high of resolution is decidedly low and underwhelming in its conclusion.

Ultimately, Girls Can't Surf is presented well enough, but rather than go into deeper waters, it prefers to play in the shallows - whether that's enough to make you want to hang 10 with this is debatable enough, but there is a distinct feeling that there could have been more to explore in this story. 

Monday, 23 August 2021

The Painter and the Thief: DVD Review

The Painter and the Thief: DVD Review

Director Benjamin Ree's The Painter and The Thief has a delicious premise.

When Czech painter Barbora Kysilkova has two of her paintings stolen in an apparently random crime, CCTV leads police to track down the thieves and put them on trial.

But despite the pieces being two of her most important works, Barbora finds herself fascinated by the man who stole them and approaches him in court, wanting to learn why. Soon-to-be-convicted thief and drug addict Karl-Bertil has a simple answer - and one that proves to be as devastating and enticing as it could be - "Because they were beautiful."

An unlikely friendship forms between the pair, leading Barbora deep into places she'd believed forgotten and delivering Karl-Bertil a redemption he believed he'd always been denied.
The Painter and The Thief: Movie Review

Ree's The Painter and the Thief is a compelling dalliance with darkness.

Delivered a third act twist, the movie is as much about the artist muse relationship as it is a tale of humanity and obsession. And in one early sequence alone, the film delivers a powerful emotionally raw moment that no actor could easily bring to the surface.

If perhaps Ree is to be faulted, it's in the lack of exploration over the consequences of Barbora's friendship on her current relationship, and Ree doesn't seem interested as much in anyone other than the central pair.

However, there are touching moments as each are sucked into their respective orbits, and two apparently damaged people collide. It's a fascinating and electric journey, that delivers a powerful emotional catharsis just as the energy levels begin to massively flag.

The unexpected friendship is the reason to tag along for this ride, and while a lack of any definitive conclusion proves frustrating for what's transpired, Ree's The Painter and the Thief concerns itself more about the realities of friendships, the ups and downs of life and the highs and lows of consequences.

Sunday, 22 August 2021

Martin Eden: DVD Review

Martin Eden: DVD Review

Martin Eden is the very definition of a film festival film.

Artfully shot, with a central character who's lost in purpose and deep in love, and a protagonist whose looks are set to swoon.

And yet, it's all so painfully meandering and devoid of real emotion that Martin Eden becomes a slog not an uplifting experience.

Luca Marinelli stars as the titular Eden, a sailor who is considered lowly in the world.
Martin Eden: NZIFF Review

Romanced by women, but ultimately adrift, he one day saves a lad from a beating on the docks and is taken home to say thanks. There he meets Jessica Cressy's Elena, and promptly falls in love.

But lacking an education and a sense of culture, he feels he's not worthy and so sets out to better himself - all the while clashing with the world he's come from.

There's no denying Pietro Marcello's adaptation of Jack London's Martin Eden is beautifully shot.

On 16mm film and lensed with subtlety and with throwback soundtrack, it feels like the essence of a coastal Italian holiday, complete with lots of good looking people and working classes mingling and clashing.

But the heart is missing within, making Martin Eden feel like the characters are just that - certainly Elena is nothing more than a doll speaking lines, and it's distracting.

Marinelli makes a more likeable lead, with his old time good looks marking him out from the crowds and showing his conflict within the classes.

However, ultimately, this tale of self-education is a little too self-obsessed and brooding to appeal to the masses. Its self identity is lacking, and while its wafting qualities are committed well to the screen, its final feeling is one sadly of indifference.

Saturday, 21 August 2021

Win a copy of Peter Rabbit 2 on BluRay

Win a copy of Peter Rabbit 2 on BluRay

To celebrate the release of Peter Rabbit 2, out now on DVD and BluRay, thanks to Sony Home Entertainment, you can win a copy of this family movie!

About Peter Rabbit 2

Win Peter Rabbit 2

Thomas and Bea are now married and living with Peter and his rabbit family. Bored of life in the garden, Peter goes to the big city, where he meets shady characters and ends up creating chaos for the whole family.

Peter Rabbit 2 stars James Corden as the cheeky rabbit, and also Domnhall Gleeson and Rose Byrne.

Win a copy of Wrath of Man on Blu ray

Win a copy of Wrath of Man on Blu ray 

To celebrate the release of Wrath of Man starring Jason Statham and from Guy Ritchie on DVD and Blu Ray, Sony Home Entertainment is giving you the chance to win a copy!

About Wrath of Man
Win Wrath of Man

WRATH OF MAN is a revenge based action thriller from acclaimed and innovative director Guy Ritchie (Aladdin, Sherlock Holmes, Snatch). 

This contemporary movie tells the story of the cold and mysterious ‘H’ as he goes to work at a cash truck company that moves hundreds of millions of dollars around Los Angeles every week. 

H’s objective is unique and unanticipated, but is only revealed incrementally, utilizing a suspenseful and carefully constructed nonlinear narrative to lay bare his true intentions. 

Shifting across timelines and various character’s perspectives, WRATH OF MAN builds to a thrilling, tragic, and inevitably bloody catharsis.

Friday, 20 August 2021

Nine Perfect Strangers: Amazon Prime Video review

Nine Perfect Strangers: Amazon Prime Video Review

The skewering of the privileged continues with this latest series that seems to arrive a little too quickly and with thematic similarities after the end of The White Lotus and a few weeks after the launch of M Night Shyamalan's Old.

Based on The New York Times best-selling book by author Liane Moriarty, Nine Perfect Strangers is set at Tranquillum, a boutique health-and-wellness resort that promises healing and transformation. 
Nine Perfect Strangers: Amazon Prime Video Review

Heading into the resort is nine stressed people, some as a family, some as individuals, some as a couple and all with a hidden trauma or issue to address.

Their spiritual cure and guide is the mysterious Russian Masha (Kidman, resembling Galadriel from Lord of the Rings) who wafts into their lives at the end of the first episode, telling them they'll all die at Tranquillum. We assume it's spiritually, but given the group is consistently referred to as a "volatile" bunch, it's anyone's guess whether that's literal or figurative warning...

Nine Perfect Strangers looks polished and greatly benefits from a brilliant role call of cast members.

From Melissa McCarthy, Bobby Canavale to Michael Shannon and Samara Weaving, the line up is impeccable.

But unfortunately, the characters they inhabit feel a little one-note, their "troubled" story arcs a little too predictable from the off. From McCarthy's potentially washed up writer ("I've become a punchline" she laments at one point) to Weaving's "They see me but they don't see me" influencer, the depth feels a bit lacking initially, and the story beat reveals a little too deliberately paced.
Nine Perfect Strangers: Amazon Prime Video Review

Kidman's Masha ("an amazing mystical eastern bloc unicorn" as one guest describes her) presents an early set of mysteries too, with questions about her motives and her own past haunting her. 

However, the threats piled up against those involved don't amount to as much as the drama would like.

Paper thin writing in a rushed pilot keen to intro the myriad of cast doesn't necessarily equate to an instant sense of caring about peril. 

Shannon impresses in a role he seldom plays - one of a "chronically loquacious" man whose family appears to be teetering on the edge is a welcome relief from the more serious characters portrayed in the likes of 99 Homes. And McCarthy's welcome touch of cynicism into Frances the writer helps level out some of the bumpier exposition early on.

While the mystery pervades the start of the series, it remains to be seen if the culmination of it all proves satisfying - but Nine Perfect Strangers feels more like a concept than a fully formed experience, one that doesn't quite hit the emotional beats you'd need to binge another episode after each deliberately pitched cliffhanger-oriented ending.

Nine Perfect Strangers is streaming now on Amazon Prime Video, with the first three episodes being released at launch, and new episodes to follow weekly on Fridays.

Thursday, 19 August 2021

Wrath of Man: Blu Ray Review

Wrath of Man: Blu Ray Review

Treading a similar route to Bob Odenkirk's Nobody, though with less of the humour and frenetic edges, Wrath of Man inextricably follows the Guy Ritchie formula to a tee, and reteams him with his Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels' star.

A near mute Statham is H, a mysterious man who signs up to work as security for a cash truck delivery service. Seemingly average in all prior testing, H surprises all his colleagues when a heist goes wrong and he takes out all the bad guys.
Wrath of Man: Movie Review

H becomes a hero to the cash truck service and his colleagues for his seeming commitment to duty, but soon they begin to doubt who he is and why he is working for them....

Remade from the 2004 French thriller Le Convoyeur, Wrath of Man is clearly a Guy Ritchie joint, both in good and bad ways.

From some of the utterly appallingly awful dialogue that tumbles from his characters' mouths (proving Ritchie has never really left the East End of London since the 1990s - sample line "H like the bomb or Jesus H") to the penchant for some taut and brutal action sequences, Wrath of Man is clearly a film you're on board with early on - or not at all.

Statham is his usual action movie self, in that he rarely emotes throughout, delivers the required smackdowns and pretty much reins in what he's done before. But there's little really for him to do here except what the script requires, and to don his usual chunky cardigan attire to usual effect.

While Wrath of Man is divided into acts, with subtitles ripped from snippets of dialogue, the film's brooding edges and air of mystery are flatly punched 30 minutes in when the reason for H's behaviour becomes apparent. It feels like it's here that Ritchie fudges some of the tension by revealing H's hand too early, making latter parts of the film feel like unnecessary do-overs as sequences are replayed with more meaning.
Wrath of Man: Movie Review

There's no denying that in its final stages, there are vicarious thrills to be had from what Ritchie's concocted, but it feels like a long road to get there. Jumping timelines, providing motivations and once again exploring the seedier side of the underworld, as well as yet again criminally ignoring and underwriting any female characters, it bears all the hallmarks of a Ritchie joint - but little of the freshness and panache of what you've come to expect.

Mind you, it's all there to service the action - even if the big final showdown's overall effect is undercut by Ritchie cutting back and forth to a planning committee. Ritchie doesn't mess about, mixing bombastic sounds with the brutality of gunplay and delivering what you'd expect in bursts.

There's little of the levity of Ritchie's early work here - even if some of the truly awful dialogue uttered by the American owner of the cash truck company appears to be trying to inject some. But the sense of dourness that pervades does provide a welcome counterpoint to the darkness that runs within. 

All in all, Wrath of Man may spin its tale through the usual Ritchie web, and it may be enjoyable enough in parts, but elements of a frustrating execution of a morally grey tale overwhelm parts of the movie. 

It's solid enough Statham, and reasonable enough Ritchie - for a boys' night out, you can't really ask for anything more. 

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