Monday, 20 June 2022
Sunday, 19 June 2022
Mad God: Movie Review
Such is the way with FX genius Phil Tippett's Mad God, a blend of stop motion, live action, horror and disturbia in extremis.
Beginning with a gas mask clad figure known as the Assassin descending deep into a world of the
macabre, Tippett's vision starts starkly and rarely deviates away from its abnormal path.
As it descends on its 85 minute journey, Mad God with its mutations and horror elements is a singular vision of what a filmmaker can do. It's taken Tippett over 30 years to get to this end point, and as if the lead doesn't descend into madness, goodness only knows how Tippett survived this long with the project.
There are no easy comparisons with anything that's gone before for this film, it's of its own genre - part Radiohead video, part art project and all manner of upsetting, it's a collection of images that clearly have symbolism to those who look deeper within, and will reward those who know some of their religious iconography.
Mad God won't be to everyone's tastes, but there are moments when the futility of life (or afterlife) comes to the fore. From cloth creatures carrying out grunt-level work only to be dispatched with cruelty to literal forks in the roads and creatures flying through a lightning-filled sky, every frame has something - nightmarish or otherwise.
Mad God won't be for everyone - but that's fine. Tippett's vision is utterly terrifying, unnerving and
ultimately up for discussion - and that's no bad thing whatsoever.
Mad God is streaming now on Shudder ANZ.
Saturday, 18 June 2022
Studio 666: DVD Review
Studio 666 is a Scooby Doo film, a vanity project without the wit, inventiveness or decency to leave when it's not welcome.
It may have a Shaggy in its long-haired hero Dave Grohl, but the only dog in this movie is the script, which calls for ham, silliness and supernatural acting that's beyond the pale in so many ways.
Based on a story by Dave Grohl (that in truth should have been aborted and sent to hell), it's the story of the Foo Fighters as they try to record their 10th album. Relocating to an Encino mansion to record their masterpiece, Grohl becomes obsessed with creating a 45 minute masterpiece.
However, the obsession is fuelled by demons which haunt the house, after a thwarted recording session from the 90s turned deadly - and soon all the Foo Fighters are fighting for their lives and their souls.
Mixing comedy and horror should be an easy win, but Studio 666 plays so fast and loose with its goofiness, and the extreme variable quality of the acting, that most of it fails to land anything. With some truly awful dialogue as well, the whole thing runs out of steam after about 30 minutes, and then flails badly around, trying to find a narrative path that doesn't head to hell.
Grohl plays goofy (as he demonstrated years ago in the Learn to Fly video) but the level of his acting is questionable, though not as questionable as others in the group as they try to act, and fail miserably. While the whole film does feel like a hangout movie steeped in gore in some ways, the project just doesn't have enough goodwill to see it through - even with the inclusion of the likes of John Carpenter and an utterly out there Lionel Richie cameo.
There are some impressive moments - the demons of the house are wondrously realised, and a dream sequence where Grohl is haunted by the spirits is cleverly and concisely executed. But hints of Freddy Kreuger and overblown soundtracks to lame jump scares just drag the goodwill into the mire and executes them mercilessly.
Studio 666 isn't a movie for anyone who's not a Foo Fighter fan or has lost control of their senses. For everyone else it's an utter exercise in tedium and endurance - for the record, it should be dispatched to hell as soon as possible.
Friday, 17 June 2022
Fire Island: Movie Review
Cast: Joel Kim Booster, Bowen Yang, Conrad Ricamora, James Scully, Margaret Cho
Director: Andrew Ahn
The vibrant Fire Island's take on Pride and Prejudice, launched on Disney+ during Pride month, is a major step forward for representation on all fronts.
Booster, who wrote the screenplay, stars as Noah, one of a group of queer friends who head to Fire Island for a week-long vacation where frolicking, flirting and being fabulous all go hand-in-hand.
But Noah, who insists he isn't looking for a relationship, makes it his mission to help long time friend Howie (Yang, easily the vulnerable heart of the film) get laid and finally come out of his shell. However, when Noah and their gang fall in with another group of partygoers, romance and reputation are on the line.
With the levels of sass being obvious from Fire Island's opening salvo, it's clear that Ahn's film isn't here to mess about.
Likeable leads, quippy oneliners and a degree of zing give Fire Island the heart - even if some of the cast fare less well during the outing.
After making a big thing about Margaret Cho's character and her dilemma, the film drops a plot point never to be seen again, even as the one last holiday together vibe comes together. But biting dialogue and clever diversions from the Pride and Prejudice-inspired film make that seem less than it should be.
It helps that the leads of Booster and Yang are easily the film's beating heart, an out and out clear call for representation that sings loudly on screen and normalises the romcom relationship issues faced in every other film of the genre.
Sweet in many ways but not sickly, a reminder of the bonds and perils of family, Fire Island is heartwarming fare that is leaps and bounds ahead of anything else that's been glimpsed in its genre in 2022.
Thursday, 16 June 2022
Licorice Pizza: DVD Review
Cooper Hoffman plays hustler kid Gary Valentine, a child actor, would-be businessman and hype maker whose grandeur comes from his own self belief. During the annual school photograph session, Valentine sees assistant Alana (Haim) and decides that she will be woman that he's going to marry.
Pursuing her doggedly around the school, Gary's surprised when she shows up for a date with him despite a 10-year age difference - marking the start of their zig-zag romance and their adventures through the San Fernando Valley.
To call Licorice Pizza meandering is perhaps to do it a disservice, but the almost ramshackle nature of the film, its manifest-anything protagonist and its low self-esteem suffering female lead prove to be an intoxicating mix of mood more than anything.
Valentine may have his grifter trappings, the cocksure belief of a self-manifester and his seemingly persistent approach to life, but Cooper Hoffman imbues him with a sense of innocence that is painfully contrasted with the other older male role models in the Valley.
From Sean Penn's seedy ageing actor, to Bradley Cooper's volatile and unhinged Jon Peters, via John Michael Higgins Japan-obsessed Jerry (who puts on an awful Japanese English accent to talk to his various wives), the older men in this tale are just varying degrees of repulsiveness personified, all indicators of how the Valley can produce nastiness when the sun goes down.
It's no wonder that Haim's Alana is wary of Gary, his youthful exuberance bristling against her never-ending feeling of being let down by men. It's a fascinating dichotomy that Anderson brings to the fore, an unsettling exploration of 70s exploitation within various industries.
Thankfully Haim's gradual softening into idealism blossoms, and with the flourishes, she brings her Alana to life as growing resentments and the push-and-pull dynamics of the burgeoning relationships come into play. Haim's a natural talent on the screen, and the pairing with Hoffman's Gary Valentine blooms over the 135 minute run time.
If Anderson does occasionally give a feeling of episodic ramblings in this hangout movie rather than a strongly pursued narrative, along with an evocative OST from Jonny Greenwood, some choice music from the likes of The Doors, and some excellent costuming, his recreation of the era is greatly rewarding.
Licorice Pizza is definitely all about the journey, rather than the destination, but it's an engaging and enjoyable one to behold from beginning to end.
Wednesday, 15 June 2022
Nude Tuesday: Movie Review
Director: Armagan Ballantyne
Tuesday, 14 June 2022
Lightyear: Movie Review
Director: Angus MacLane
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