Friday, 30 December 2011

Film Review | Megamind (2010)

Megamind is one of those films that makes writing reviews a chore, in that there isn't really a great deal to say about it. It's not an awful film by any stretch of the imagination, but there also isn't that much that is genuinely good there either.

The film tells the story of Megamind (voiced by Will Ferrell), an alien supervillain whose various attempts to defeat his nemesis, superhero Metro Man (voiced by Brad Pitt), and take over Metro City have so far always failed. However, when Megamind finally succeeds in killing Metro Man, he suddenly finds his life to have no purpose and begins questioning the nature of being a villain at all.

Essentially, Megamind attempts to both parody and pay homage to superhero movies in the same way that previous Dreamworks offering Monsters Vs. Aliens did with B-movie disaster flicks. The problem is, no part of Megamind feels as though it has any authentic heart or spark of originality behind it. Ferrell is fine as the eponymous alien but never more than that, and regularly his performance sounds merely like a cross between previous Ferrell characters Ron Burgundy from Anchorman and Mugatu from Zoolander. Brad Pitt's efforts as Metro Man are alarmingly more disappointing, making the character nothing more than a flat and uninteresting superhero stereotype. Tina Fey as TV reporter and generic love interest Roxanne Ritchie is again satisfactory but nothing more, and Jonah Hill as her assistant just serves to prove he's just as irritating even when you can't see him.

The lacklustre feel filters through the film's execution, with many parts feeling predictable and the plot losing steam long before the final act. Elements clearly included to appeal to the older generation, such as modelling Megamind's sense of showmanship after bands such as Kiss and Alice Cooper, just don't fit comfortably with any other part of the film and essentially come across as a little desperate to gain parental approval on the part of the writers.

Ultimately, Megamind is not a bad film. But it is an average film in pretty much every way, which is key to its failure. With the computer-animated film market more and more saturated, and rival studio Pixar leading the way in producing ever more impressive films in terms of technical skill and cinematic excellence, there are simply too many films that it's worth seeing before Megamind.


Sunday, 20 November 2011

Film Review | Black Swan (2010)

Black Swan achieves a rare feat in cinema, in that by the film's climax I was genuinely unsure as to how much of what I was watching was real and how much was in the head of a character. By the time the credits rolled director Darren Aronofsky and Natalie Portman in the lead role had led me so expertly to this point, exactly where they wanted me to be, that I could do nothing but allow the emotional, psychological, beautifully dramatic spectacle I had just witnessed to continue washing over me.

The film tells the story of Nina (Portman), a professional ballerina who lands her first lead role in her company's latest production, Swan Lake. As Nina struggles to meet the demands of her dual character as both the Swan Queen and the Black Swan, her relationship with her mother (Barbara Hershey), her director (Vincent Cassel) and fellow dancer Lily (Mila Kunis) all become increasingly complex whilst her mental state becomes less and less stable.

Whilst praise has already been heaped upon Portman and Aronofsky, it's important not to overlook the importance of the supporting cast in making the film the success that it is. Cassel brings both intensity and intrigue to his role; Hershey too is strong as the strict yet devoted mother to Nina, and deserves high praise in particular for her scenes with Portman when Nina falls further into mental instability. The character of Lily is potentially the most demanding after Nina herself, but Kunis handles the role incredibly well, striking a balance between the different elements to her character, at times cerebral, at others much more physical.

The triumph here, however, must be a shared achievement of Portman and Aronofsky. Portman's performance is blissfully enigmatic, allowing the audience to develop an uneasy relationship of sympathy and distance with Nina in a very short space of time which lasts until the very last shot. It's a turn more than worthy of her Best Actress Oscar.

Portman's performance fits seamlessly with Aronofsky's direction, a heady fusion of extreme realism and the disturbingly surreal blurring the lines between the real world and Nina's warped perspective. This intentional ambiguity creates superb psychological melodrama with occasional hints of horror, and makes Black Swan Aronofsky's most finely crafted film to date. In fact, if there is one criticism of the film it's that it is at a few points almost too uncomfortable to watch. Black Swan, fundamentally, is a film I find it very difficult to fault. Whilst it may at times be a difficult viewing experience, this is undoubtedly an incredible piece of cinema.


Saturday, 19 November 2011

TV Review | Life's Too Short (Series 1, Episodes 1 and 2)

Life's Too Short is the latest television comedy offering from contemporary giants of the genre, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. Described by Gervais as the third in their TV sitcom trilogy (The Office and Extras being the first and second parts respectively), Life's Too Short shows promise in the first two episodes, but there is also the feeling that maybe we've seen this all before.

The series is a mockumentary following dwarf actor Warwick Davis (probably best known most recently for playing Professor Flitwick in the Harry Potter films) as he goes about his "showbiz" life as a dwarf actor as well as running his own dwarf talent agency. Davis plays a twisted version of himself, coming across as arrogant and deluded as to how famous and successful he is. The style of comedy is typical Gervais and Merchant, playing up the uncomfortable scenarios to the point where you can barely continue watching. Davis is clearly up for pretty much anything, with highlights of the first two episodes including an excruciating failed interview with a local news anchor who at one point gets Davis to stand on a chair to emphasise his dwarfism, and Davis donning something truly humiliating (I won't say what to avoid spoilers) as a makeshift Ewok costume when attending a Star Wars themed wedding. Davis' likability and talent as an actor will no doubt be key to the series' inevitable success.

Much like he did in Extras, Gervais also uses his Hollywood connections to bring in some serious star power, which essentially provide the best scenes of each of the first two episodes. Liam Neeson cameos in the first episode to great effect, approaching Gervais and Merchant (playing themselves) about a change of direction in his career; it is Johnny Depp's performance in episode 2 that is currently the one to beat, initially meeting with Davis to gain advice on how to play a leprechaun, which ends up in a confrontation with Gervais over his comments at the Golden Globes.

However, Life's Too Short, whilst undoubtedly funny, is almost unashamedly unoriginal. Davis' lines could often be lifted directly from David Brent ten years ago, and even his delivery sometimes feels as though he's basically doing an impersonation of Gervais. And whilst the celebrity cameos so far have worked, you can't help but feel the idea has been almost directly lifted from Extras. The format is essentially a cross between The Office, Extras and Curb Your Enthusiasm (a show of which Gervais is openly a huge fan) and also borrows quite heavily from I'm Alan Partridge. Whilst it's true that Gervais and Merchant obviously know what they're doing with this style, it's also a shame that Life's Too Short doesn't yet feel like its own entity, more the bastard lovechild of several successful previous sitcoms.

The hardest part to swallow so far, however, is Gervais and Merchant's portrayal of themselves. Whilst we've seen both play warped versions of themselves previously, here it almost feels like they're no longer acting. The duo sit in a large and finely decorated office adorned with memorabilia from both their successes together and Gervais' solo efforts. I genuinely found some of the scenes involving Gervais and Merchant quite cringeworthy in an unpleasant way - it feels as though the two of them (Gervais in particular) have gone too far up one particular part of their anatomy. Five years ago it was amusing; now it just feels genuinely narcissistic.

I'll continue to watch Life's Too Short, as despite its shortcomings (no pun intended) it undoubtedly has promise as the first two episodes had several genuinely funny moments. At the moment I can't see it being as revered as Gervais and Merchant's first two comedy series, but that's not to say it isn't a worthwhile watch. In fact, creating a series that is merely very good rather than universally acclaimed might just be what's needed to knock the writers back down to earth, or at least a little closer to it.

Film Review | Surrogates (2009)

Surrogates is clearly influenced in its style by a great many other sci-fi films, from big names such as The Matrix and the Terminator franchise to cult titles such as Gattaca. The problem is, it's never quite as good as any of the films it has been inspired by.

Set in a near future where the world's population lives through hi-tech robotic counterparts - the 'surrogates' of the title, and as they are referred to throughout the film - we follow the story of FBI Agent Tom Greer (Bruce Willis) who, with his partner Agent Peters (Radha Mitchell), investigates a series of unprecedented murders committed through destroying a person's surrogate. Willis is reliably watchable, but never feels as though he is stretching himself too far from either his troubled loner or irrational action-man archetypal fallback roles. Other than Ving Rhames as The Prophet, the shadowy leader of a resistance movement against the surrogates, and James Cromwell as the inventor of 'surrogacy' (both of whom receive far too little screen time), the cast is largely pedestrian and forgettable.

The story is entertaining enough, providing enough satisfying sci-fi quirks and action sequences to keep things interesting. Things get a little muddled towards the end, and the final act doesn't provide the satisfying payoff that you would hope for. A subplot involving the death of Greer's son and the effect of this on his relationship with his wife (Rosamund Pike) never really manages to go anywhere meaningful. However, the film's swift running time of under ninety minutes does mean it never has the chance to become tedious.

Ultimately, Surrogates feels like a wasted opportunity. There's a huge amount that could have been explored in terms of human morality (there doesn't seem to be any repercussions for destroying a surrogate, despite more than one indication that they aren't exactly cheap pieces of kit), and the current popularity of online chat and smartphones could have been very easily commented upon, but instead is only slightly hinted at. Like I said before, Surrogates draws on a great many entries into the sci-fi canon but unfortunately this usually only serves to remind you of how many better films there are of a similar style that you could be watching. It is enjoyable and worth a look, but in many ways had the potential to be so much more than it is.


Monday, 14 November 2011

A Statement Of Intent

So, as you may have picked up on, activity here over the past couple of months has been somewhat scarce (let's face it, there's been more activity in a nun's knickers) and for this I apologise. To be honest, I'm not even sure who visits this blog any more in terms of reading what's written here, so I might be apologising to myself and nobody else, but hopefully there's a few more people than that.

I'm not going to start reeling off reasons why things have become quieter - I know what they are, and they aren't really anything special, other than having a couple of busy months where all the little jobs and bigger jobs and everything in between has had to come first to the point where writing here just hasn't happened.

My main intention is to try (again) to get into a more regular posting pattern here, potentially going for more succinct entries to try and increase the amount that are written. That's not to say there won't be longer entries here still, but as time to write entries is one of the contributing factors to this blog becoming somewhat neglected, shorter entries seems a logical step forward.

My secondary intention is to attempt to broaden the focus of this blog once again so that it doesn't concentrate solely on films and film reviews. Whilst film is an important interest, hobby and passion of mine, concentrating almost entirely on films has revealed itself as a double edged sword: it has allowed me to focus both the blog and my own writing on something I truly care about rather, but it has also meant that when I don't have as much time as I'd like to sit down and watch a film properly the blog suffers the consequences - not watching films regularly means writing entries even less regularly.

My aim for the blog over the next few weeks and months is therefore to increase activity by writing snappy entries on a range of subjects - "like the good old days", to use a clichéd but apt phrase. I can't speak for the other contributors to this blog, but I will also say that I hope my renewed intention here might help to inspire them into a similar blogging renaissance.

My intention is genuine, and I will do all that I can to make it into a reality. And if nothing else, this entry has broken my two month silence here, which is a simple but significant step towards reinvigorating this blog.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Review Round-Up | August 2011

Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes (2011)

A highly crafted summer blockbuster with enough brain and enough heart to push it from being a very good film to a great one. The narrative is compelling, successfully combining the pacy style of an action film and the epic feel of a story laced with gravitas. One or two elements feel somewhat lacking in development, such as the relationship between Franco and Pinto's characters, but these are easily to forgive as minor issues in a largely enjoyable and skilfully related story. The computer-generated effects are incredibly impressive, seamlessly interwoven with the live action elements to the point where I regularly forgot where the CGI elements ended and the "real" features began. Franco continues to impress as a likable and talented leading man, and the supporting cast also do well. It is Serkis, however, who deserves by far the highest praise for creating in Caesar the ape a believable and authentic animal performance as well as a strong protagonist with depth and sympathy.

Toys (1992)

Too long, as the plot is stretched out to fit the running time of a minute over two hours; there are several moments in the film which feel like filler, and occasionally the film strays over to the undesirable side of self-indulgence. The narrative also becomes patchy and confused at times. The film's moral message (to put it crudely: fun is good, war is bad) feels laid on at times and things get somewhat schmaltzy at several points. That said, there are great performances from all involved, and the vast majority of the jokes and comedy set pieces throughout are successful and clever without feeling self-aggrandising. The film is a visual treat as well, with scene after scene providing an imaginative treat for the eyes. Ultimately, Toys is flawed but enjoyable.


Face/Off (1997)

n incredible action film packed with stylish, adrenaline-fuelled fight sequences and set pieces throughout. Woo uses many of the hallmarks seen in his previous action movies, but makes them seem fresher and more electric than ever. The main contrivance of face-swapping is a risky plot device, but in the skilled hands of Woo it comes off brilliantly. The greatest credit, however, must go to Cage and Travolta for two outstanding performances throughout the film. The way in which both men inhabit both characters that they play is superb and a delight to watch. Both men manage to mimic each other's tics and traits whilst keeping the film firmly away from farce and parody. The skill of the two leads raises this from being a great film to an outstanding one. One of the defining, must-see action films of the 1990s.

Leaving Las Vegas (1997)

Strong performances from both Cage and Shue, and the genuine chemistry between them, provide the backbone for the film's success. Cage in particular balances extroversion and high emotion well, bringing to his character a pleasing balance of humour and sadness. The narrative is simple, and becomes somewhat hazy in the second half, which results in the film feeling unfocused at times. The film's slow pace throughout is also a double-edged sword: whilst it allows for the central relationship between Cage and Shue's characters to properly develop, it also made the film drag occasionally. Figgis' cinematography presents a paradoxically gritty yet artificial Las Vegas, giving the film's setting an unnervingly unpredictable quality rarely achieved in cinema. Ultimately a very good film, although be prepared for some emotionally punishing and unashamedly graphic scenes throughout.

The King's Speech (2010)

A highly polished film that exudes quality in every way. Hooper's direction and use of cinematography is refined with welcome splashes of originality, and the script is tight and charming. The film has a wonderful sense of authenticity, recreating the period in which it is set with panache, whilst at the same time delivering a sharp and fresh contemporary cinematic experience. At the core of the film are some outstanding performances from both Firth and Rush, bringing to life the relationship between the two men with authenticity, emotion and genuine humour. The supporting cast are also incredibly strong; Bonham Carter especially deserves high praise for a charming and heartfelt performance. A truly excellent piece of cinema that deserves the high accolades it has received.

Night Of The Living Dead (1968)

Like all the zombie movies it has spawned in the four decades since its release, the film is at its best when dealing not with the dead brought back to life, but with the very human stories that are created through those who are living through the horrific situation. The actions and reactions of the band of survivors thrown together through circumstance are compelling viewing and a masterful comment on human behaviour. Romero's direction is fantastic, with cinematography clearly inspired by Welles and Hitchcock and even matching their standard when at its very best. The film suffers from a middle act slower and less focused than its opening and closing sections, almost as if Romero felt the need to pad things out a little, and as such the television report sequences become a little tedious. The final act, however, gives the film a harrowing, punch-packing finale. Ultimately, an entertaining and effective horror film which has stood, and no doubt will continue to stand, the test of time incredibly well.

The Addams Family (1991)

Not only a film that brings back great memories of childhood enjoyment, but also one that, two decades on, has stood the test of time incredibly well. The script and style of the film timelessly and effortlessly parodies gothic horror as well as lampooning society and culture without locking the film into an early '90s time capsule. The main cast are incredibly strong and never miss a beat, with Anjelica Huston and the late Raul Julia deserving particular mention for a pair of flawless performances. The plot is somewhat simplistic and the narrative a little thin here and there, but this is pettifogging as what the film does right vastly outweighs anything it gets wrong. Clever, entertaining and very very funny.

Addams Family Values (1993)

Considered by many to be superior to the first film, for me when Values is at its best it outshines its predecessor, but it also manages to miss a few more beats than the original film. Its strengths are similar strengths to the first film - Julia and Huston are again perfect as Morticia and Gomez; Lloyd is given more time to truly shine as Fester than in the previous outing; Ricci as Wednesday is superb; and Cusack is a welcome addition bringing her reliable wackiness to the antagonist role. The script at its sharpest is even better than the first, but there are elements which begin to tire - whilst the summer camp subplot begins ingeniously it eventually becomes a little tedious, and the segment where baby Pubert (best baby name in film history?) suddenly becomes cute always feels somewhat tacked on with no real purpose other than to unnecessarily pad things out. That said, just like in the first film, there is a huge amount more here to like than dislike. Overall, this sits well with the original to form a pair of excellent comedies.

Westworld (1973)

Sluggish pacing and decidedly unimpressive direction from Crichton hamper the telling of what is a genuinely excellent story. The first hour gets gradually more tedious as no character receives enough development, and whilst Benjamin and Brolin's performances are fine, they never make either of their characters sufficiently memorable. It is Brynner who shines here with a chilling performance throughout that, upon expansion during the film's second half, elevates the final act far above what has preceded it. It is clear to see that Westworld is an important entry into the action sci-fi canon, with obvious influence on future films including Terminator and Jurassic Park; as a film in its own right, whilst this is undoubtedly enjoyable it is also unforgivably flawed.

The Super Mario Bros. (1993)

For a video game fan, there is fun to be had in spotting the homages to the original video games; it is pitiful, however, that you can count them on one hand. Simply put, the film is dull and unimaginative, wasting one opportunity after another. Hoskins and Hopper phone in their performances, clearly under no illusions that what they are creating is worthwhile, and it's a wonder that Leguizamo managed to forge a respectable career after debuting in this turkey. The film presents a mix of action and fantasy which never sit comfortably together throughout. The film has retained a modicum of kitsch and cult value which save it from being entirely unwatchable, but with far better options in the video game adaption and action fantasy camps, there's very little point in doing so.

The Bourne Identity (2002)

Successfully gels the action, mystery and thriller genres with style and seamless excellence. Damon brings the right balance of gritty authenticity and action-hero audicity, making Bourne a believable yet fittingly enigmatic protagonist. The story is solid, and the action set pieces are consistently adrenaline-charged and entertaining with some fresh ideas presented throughout. The supporting cast are solid, with particularly strong performances from Cooper and Potente, as well as Stiles, Owen and Cox bringing pleasing quality to relatively minor roles and adding strength to the film as a whole. Overall, this is a thoroughly enjoyable and well made action movie that rightfully left its mark on the action and spy genres giving a somewhat stale subcategory within film a welcome reboot.

Charlotte's Web (2006)

Eleven years after Babe, the premise of a live-action pig and other animals talking with human voices is decidedly unspectacular. The voice cast is impressive on paper, and it's fun to spot who each animal is voiced for about ten minutes after the animals start talking, but it's clear that those involved are here for the pay packet and not to bring the characters to life. The film does not do justice to the children's novel from which it is adapted, losing it's charm and feeling decidedly sanitised. Fanning as the young farmer's daughter is fine, but the rest of the cast are forgettable. Ultimately a distinctly middle-of-the-road children's film.

Scream 2 (1997)

Slightly better than the original, with the returning characters benefiting from the depth already established in the first film, and the cast as a whole giving a stronger performance. The self-referential postmodern style is crafted even better than in the first film, with the discussion of the nature of film sequels being a particular highlight. Whilst the film famously suffered from internet script leaks resulting in last-minute rewrites, the moments of tension and fear are just as finely crafted as in the original, and the story has enough surprises and twists to keep you on your toes and guessing right until the end. Overall very enjoyable and well made.

Unbreakable (2000)

Forever destined to be compared to The Sixth Sense, overall this is not as good as Shyamalan's breakout masterpiece but is still an excellent piece of cinema. The story is compelling, if a little slow at points, and the performances from Willis and Jackson are fantastic throughout. Shyamalan demonstrates sharp direction with clever use of and reference to comic book style and mythology. Whilst the ending is perhaps somewhat anticlimactic, it also grounds the film - and the audience - into the leaden reality crafted by the director throughout the majority of the film. Ultimately compelling and well made.

Scream 3 (2000)

A considerable step down from the first two films in pretty much every way. The franchise now feels tired, with the scares pedestrian and the action at times cartoonish. The story, whilst keeping you guessing, is ho-hum overall. The postmodern film references are at times still clever, but just as often feel laid on too thick and very contrived with characters and situations seemingly dropped in and out of the film without any thought or build-up. Ultimately, whilst this remains in the same tradition as the first films, it never hits the relative highs previously seen in the franchise and at times even becomes somewhat clichéd - a cardinal sin for a series with its tongue supposedly firmly in its cheek.

The Bourne Supremacy (2004)

Greengrass is the perfect choice to continue the Bourne franchise, picking up the baton from Liman and taking the story further and darker with a satisfyingly more complex feel. Damon fits back into the character of Bourne with ease, taking the character to new heights stretching both his human and fantastical sides pleasingly. The action becomes even more impressive; Greengrass' incredibly authentic feel brings an energy to the set pieces, and the ideas for the action sequences are ever more impressive as the narrative fizzes along. Whilst his camerawork is at times bewildering in its speed, barely keeping up with what's going on at times, this only serves to enhance the way in which the story is related. Essentially, this film takes everything that was great about The Bourne Identity and does it just as well or, in several cases, even better.

The Queen (2006)

The performances from the cast as a whole are the key to a large part of the film's success. Mirren as Elizabeth II creates a multi-dimensional and sympathetic character, exuding both the grandeur of a reigning monarch and the genuine humanity of a family matriarch in a time of sadness and crisis. Sheen also deserves praise for a balanced and compelling portrayal of Tony Blair that rarely forces you into viewing him in one narrow light. Cromwell also deserves high praise for his role as Prince Philip, again bringing humanity to his portrayal of an often lampooned and caricatured figure. The film at times lacks flair, and is often cinematographically unspectacular. The use throughout of genuine news footage woven into the dramatised narrative works well, however. Ultimately an enjoyable and worthwhile film.

Monsters (2010)

A solid, well made and engaging film that is all the more impressive when the relatively tiny budget and professional cast of only two actors is taken into account. The effects are original and the tension and scares throughout are palpable and skilfully crafted. McNairy's Andrew comes across as a genuinely unlikely hero, and it is impressive that, for a character who at times is clearly not a particularly nice person, he gives a sympathetic and compelling portrayal throughout the film. Able also does well as Samantha, pleasingly adding layers to her character as the film. The narrative offers both a compelling science-fiction story and a pleasingly subtle comment upon contemporary social and political issues. Whilst the film slows down a little too much at the very end, overall this presents a modern, clever and restrained take on the extra-terrestrial invasion story which kept me hooked from start to finish.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Reviews | Catfish (2010); Exit Through The Gift Shop (2010); I'm Still Here (2010)

Catfish, Exit Through The Gift Shop and I'm Still Here all have quite a lot in common. Not only are they documentary films, but they are also all documentaries that have had similar criticisms levelled at them at various points through their creation and release. The criticism focuses upon whether or not each film was genuine in what it purported to document. Whilst each hasproponents for both sides of the argument, two conclusions that seem to be arrived at by critics fairly regularly are:

i) that a documentary film not being "true" links in some way to the quality and aesthetic worth of what has been made;

ii) that the makers of a documentary not being entirely transparent about the levels of factual and fictional content in their film again impact on its quality and aesthetic worth.

Looking first at Catfish, reviewing the film's content is tricky as a fair amount of the impact that the film will have on its audience rests on finding things out as the film progresses. The film focuses on photographer Yaniv "Nev" Schulman who strikes up a friendship on Facebook with a young girl called Abby after she sends him paintings of some of his photographs. This online friendship soon spreads to Abby's extended family, including her mother Angela and her half-sister Megan, and the film continues documenting the unexpected directions these relationships take.

Since its release, the truth behind the events of the film has been questioned from a number of directions, including opinions from others in the film industry ranging from the relevant (Morgan Spurlock, most famous for making Super Size Me) to the not-so-relevant (Zach Galifianakis, most famous for playing an idiot in The Hangover). Some seem merely unable to believe that the events of the film could be anything other than fictional; others have analysed the way in which the film's events are related and the timescale over which they are purported to have happened, and concluded that the film can't be relating real life events. Nev and the makers of the film, his brother Ariel and their friend Henry Joost, have continually insisted that the film's story is completely true, although they have admitted to recreating a handful of elements after the event for the benefit of the film's narrative. For many, this is enough to call shenanigans on the whole film.

However, opinion on whether the film's events are "real" often takes over the entire view of the film. From armchair critics to professional journalists, the focus regularly returns to how truthful the filmmakers are being about how much (if any) of their film is fiction. This is undoubtedly a great shame, as Catfish has a huge amount going for it in terms of style and craftsmanship. The way in which modern technology is seamlessly integrated into the way the story is told is fantastic; using Google Earth to illustrate long distance travel and Google Streetview to produce establishing shots, for example, are simple yet inspired touches. The style of cinematography is matched perfectly to the tonal shift of the film as it progresses, beginning with a personal handheld style, moving to a more sinister quasi-horror style as events take a more unsettling tone, and then a cleaner, relatively more polished feel for the film's closing act. Schulman and Joost know their stuff when it comes to documentary style, that much is certain. The narrative is engaging and kept me hooked until the very end. Nev is presented as such an amiable character that you feel an immediate attachment to him and his life. And none of this hangs on whether or not what we are watching is true. Moreover, does it actually matter when the film is as enjoyable and masterful as it is?

I'm Still Here is, in almost every way, the counterpoint to all the things that make Catfish a great documentary. The film chronicles a year in the life of Joaquin Phoenix as he unceremoniously retires from acting in order to pursue a career as a rapper. And that's pretty much it. Phoenix's reasons for leaving acting are never entirely clear, other than boredom on the actor's part, with him essentially coming across as a conceited Hollywood brat. His rapping is awful, although his intention to become a serious rapper seems entirely genuine most of the time. Phoenix's meetings with P Diddy to get advice and try to jumpstart his new career move provide some of the film's most compelling scenes. The uncomfortable edge they have is comparable to that seen in Larry David's Curb Your Enthusiasm or Ricky Gervais' Extras, although never to such an entertaining degree.

Other than that, the film is filled with Phoenix and his entourage ordering hookers, getting drunk, taking copious amounts of drugs and generally behaving appallingly towards each other. Many of these scenes quickly become tedious and regularly unpleasantly uncomfortable. Phoenix himself comes across as highly unlikable and obnoxious to be around for most of the film. The way he treats those around him is abhorrent. By the end of the film, not only is it hard to care about Phoenix's struggle to break into the music business, but also that he left a promising career in film to do so. I just wanted him to go away.

Having insisted all along that Phoenix's tumultuous attempt at a career change was entirely genuine, soon after the film's release (and in what many have seen as an attempt to boost unimpressive box office returns after mixed reviews) director Casey Affleck admitted that everything seen in the film is entirely set up. Phoenix was playing a fictional version of himself the whole time, remaining "in character" during public and promotional appearances whilst the film was being made. Phoenix and Affleck have explained their desire to comment on people's willingness to believe everything they see as true when it is labelled as "reality". But this desire never comes across through the film, nor does coming clean about the manufactured nature of the film's events make it any more obvious. There is never a clear message behind the film, despite bookending the events seen with references to Phoenix's childhood and relationship with his father (also set up: the home video footage is fabricated and the man seen in the film is actually Affleck's father, not Phoenix's) possibly to imply Phoenix straying from his roots. This lack of clarity is not due to subtlety, but simply poor filmmaking.

Whilst there are moments that are made slightly more impressive by knowing they were set up (the scenes with P Diddy, for example, and an uncomfortable altercation between Phoenix and Ben Stiller), for the most part the revelation just serves to make Phoenix come across as even more self-indulgent. He has moved from a self-important actor failing to make it as a musician, to a self-important actor who apparently thinks watching him fail to make it as a musician will be entertaining for others. A film of this type needs to be shot through with either genuine humour or satire, and it is sorely devoid of both. Affleck too does not come off well. The revelation of the documentary's fictitious nature doesn't matter; either way, his directorial style throughout the film is uninspired, lacking in panache or storytelling know-how. Compared to the effortlessly stylish Catfish, in terms of craft this is pedestrian at best, downright amateurish at its worst. Affleck may be a highly promising acting talent, but based upon I'm Not There, I'm not looking forward to his next outing as a director.

Banksy's Exit Through The Gift Shop treads the ground somewhere between Catfish and I'm Still Here. The film begins by introducing Thierry Guetta, the man behind the camera and an obsessive camcorder user who stumbles into the world of street art almost entirely by accident, becoming the unofficial biographer of the underground movement. Guetta becomes obsessed with tracking down Banksy, apparently considered the most elusive of all street artists, and eventually their paths cross. However, events take a twist for the bizarre once Banksy sees Guetta's documentary and decides to take control of the film himself.

The main problem with ETTGS is that, very simply, a lot of what it shows you isn't actually that interesting to watch. After Guetta himself is introduced, a lot of the first act of the film is comprised of footage of street artists doing their thing. It's just that, whilst street art as a cultural phenomenon is interesting, watching people creating the street art just isn't as compelling as looking at the finished product. For around ten minutes or so, I found myself genuinely interested in watching Guetta's footage of the intricate painting and stencil work that goes into creating street art; but there are only so many times you can see shady figures spraying walls or putting up giant images of André The Giant or being questioned by the police before it all begins to merge together.

Things perk up a bit once Guetta has teamed up with Banksy. The sequence chronicling Banksy leaving a "murdered" red telephone box on the streets of central London is a particular highlight, as is footage of Banksy's infamous Disneyland Guantanamo Bay prisoner stunt, which becomes as tense as a scene in any thriller worth its salt. There is quite a bit of street art creation footage in between these however, which still failed to truly ignite my interest in the film. In many ways the film's running time of under ninety minutes is a blessing: had it been much longer, the less enthralling segments may have ended up as my lasting impression of the film.

Thankfully, the film's final third vastly improves upon what has preceded it, with the camera turned on cameraman (and by far the most fascinating personality on show here) Thierry Guetta and his own attempt to break into the street art scene. The result is a truly excruciating finale - a car crash of epic proportions waiting to happen that you can't bear to watch but at the same time can't possibly look away from, with a conclusion truly unforgettable.

It is largely the film's final act which drew skepticism from many, which is essentially the same criticism that Catfish received. Many refused to believe that the events of the film could be anything but fictitious, the greatest elaborate prank from the street artist who is almost as famous for his elaborate pranks as he is for his pop-culture-bending stencils. The makers of the film - or at least those involved who are happy to reveal their identities - have always stated that the story the film tells, and all the people depicted, are genuine. Out of all three films here, ETTGS probably has the most evidence outside the film to prove that at the very least a significant portion of the film's events actually happened. At the same time, however, it probably has the biggest reason for people to be wary of its claimed credentials. After all, you can't ignore that above the title on the film's poster appears the phrase "A Banksy film".

Essentially, these three documentaries together show that it doesn't really matter how candid the makers of the film are about the truth (or lack thereof) in the film when it comes to the quality of the film as a whole. I'm Still Here is the only film discussed here where those involved have unequivocally stated that the film's content is staged, and it is by far the poorest of the three. In fact, these three films are more revealing about the people passing judgement on them. Catfish and Exit Through The Gift Shop in many ways prove the well-known adage that "truth is stranger than fiction", but also that many people today would rather dismiss something remarkable as fabricated than stretch their belief to accept an unlikely truth.

Whilst I'm not saying that everything should be accepted at face value, there's being inquisitive and then there's trying to reveal the man behind the curtain for no reason other than spite. When I'm Not There was first revealed as a "mockumentary" rather than a depiction of real life, there were even those who poured scorn upon that admission, seeing it as an attempt by Casey Affleck to save face for Joaquin Phoenix. Essentially, the skepticism was reversed: critics claimed that Phoenix's actions were all completely real, and the claim of it all being a set-up was the hoax. To be that cynical must make life a constant struggle against disappointment. In the end, it is of course an entirely subjective decision as to how much of what you see in these films you actually believe. Just make sure this decision has no bearing on your aesthetic enjoyment of the film.

* * * * *


I'm Still Here

Exit Through The Gift Shop

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Review | Super 8 (2011)

Super 8 is resplendent in its Spielberg credentials. Honestly, why shouldn't it be? When you've got one of the most successful men in the film industry executive producing your film, you'd be a fool not to make the most of it. Except Super 8 doesn't just make the most of it, instead going beyond paying homage to Spielberg's earlier work (think pre-Schindler's List and you're about there) to jam-packing the film so full of stylistic and thematic references to other films that writer and director J.J. Abrams too often seems to forget to put in any of his own film.

The story is straightforward enough. A group of school friends growing up in small-town USA in 1979 set about making their own movie. Sneaking out to film at a ramshackle train platform one night, the group witness a catastrophic train derailment bizarrely involving one of their schoolteachers driving onto the tracks. It soon becomes apparent that that's not the only unusual thing about the crash as the U.S. Air Force soon make their presence felt as well, as strange occurrences become more and more frequent in the town.

The film does have a lot going for it, not least the performances of the young actors. Child actors can often make or break a film for me, either proving such a fresh and pleasing talent that they alone become reason enough to see it, or grating so badly they detract from the film's overall success. Thankfully the group of young'uns heading up Super 8 firmly avoid falling into the latter bracket. In fact, their collective performance is what makes the first half of the film so enjoyable. Standing out slightly more than any others are Joel Courtney and Elle Fanning (younger sister of Dakota) who play Joe Lamb and Alice Dainard respectively. The companionship that grows between these two throughout the film is wonderful to watch, and whilst Courtney's portrayal of a pre-teen boy who has recently lost his mother is at times a little too understated to feel genuine, the chemistry between him and Fanning in bringing Joe and Alice's relationship to life is palpable and impressive in such young performers. Fanning throughout shows immense potential to become a future star.

Despite his intent to make a film paying tribute to Spielberg, it is often when Abrams is being most true to his own style that the film shines. The derailment of the train and subsequent crash sequence is spectacular, done without the grandiose nature of Emmerich or the mindless busy mess of which Michael Bay can't get enough. Abrams makes it authentic yet fantastical and always captivating, reminiscent of the brilliant plane crash scenes seen in another of his creations - the television series Lost. His handling too of the scenes in which the extra-terrestrial attacks is also very tight, providing genuine jumps; Abrams expertly controls the precise moments at which the alien lets rip, as well as how much of the attack we actually see.

Super 8 is also beset with flaws, however. After crafting a heartfelt opening act and, for the most part, a well-crafted sci-fi mystery with touches of horror for the second, the film unfortunately wanders into less inspired territory for its final act. Things seem to shift almost entirely from inhabiting an ordinary world where extraordinary things are happening to a highly cinematic world of sudden character shifts and drop-of-a-hat action sequences. Perhaps Abrams was hoping to kick things up another gear or two for a stunning climax, but it just makes the final thirty minutes or so of the film sit uncomfortably at odds with what's come before it, denying the audience the type of payoff they were undoubtedly hoping for.

As stated previously, however, the greatest problem with Super 8 is also the element that at times provides some of its greatest strengths, namely its referential nature to not only Spielberg's work and style, but also other movies outside his canon of work. You will notch up nods to The Goonies, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial and Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, as well as Stand By Me, Alien and even Cloverfield, a film to which Abrams himself is linked through production duties. Whilst Abrams at times invokes these spirits of the past with panache, giving his film an air of quality and heritage, more often they return to haunt his picture highlighting just how it often has very little of its own to say. The alien presence is a prime example. Those who've seen Cloverfield may find themselves experiencing more than a little déjà vu, to the point of anticlimax. Abrams also invites us to empathise with the creature in the way Spielberg did nearly thirty years ago with E.T., but this is easier to do before actually meeting Super 8's extra-terrestrial. Somehow I just didn't feel too inclined to emotionally attach myself with an alien after seeing it feed on human beings, apparently without discretion.

Ultimately, Super 8 does a lot of things right, but these in the end are regularly competing with errors too large to ignore. Whilst there is a great rite of passage story for at least one of the young protagonists in there, it becomes clouded by an unnecessary shift to a clichéd action style and Abrams obsession with alluding to other cinematic works. Ironically, if he hadn't tried so hard to emulate his executive producer, Abrams may have got closer to what Spielberg at his best does to perfection: great storytelling his own way, where the action is never placed above the heart within the story.


Saturday, 20 August 2011

Review | Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Your enjoyment of Captain America: The First Avenger will most likely depend on what you are expecting before you go in and how you view it as both an individual film and part of the creation of a larger Marvel Comics universe. Because whilst CA:TFA is clearly cast firmly from the superhero movie mould in terms of it's foundations, in spirit it doesn't quite follow the patterns you'd expect. Unfortunate considering I'd sold seeing the film to my fiancée with a sentence something along the lines of "you enjoyed Iron Man, so you're bound to enjoy this", only for her to claim ownership of the next viewing choice at the cinema in recompense for her lack of enjoyment as we walked out of the screen.

In many ways we have your standard superhero origins story: frustrated by his continual rejections from the U.S. Army due to medical health problems and general scrawny stature, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is selected for a top secret "super soldier" programme due to his personality and willingness to fight. After undergoing the experimental procedure, Rogers is transformed into a "perfect" man, with abilities at the peak of human potential, and of course transformed from his puny frame into a towering musclebound adonis.

The development of Rogers' character in the opening act of the film is pleasing and handled well; it reminded me of the way in which Peter Parker is introduced in the first Spider-Man film. Whilst it means that the start of the film doesn't move particularly quickly, I was happy to accept it as a necessary element of the origins tale. However, it's in the film's second act where things begin to stray from what you might have prepared yourself for. Where Peter Parker began climbing walls and swinging through New York City, and where Tony Stark began honing his metallic suit and breaking the sound barrier, Rogers does very little in the way of superheroic activity. We get one action sequence following Rogers' transformation, and then that's it for a while. And whilst this turn of events is explained within the film's plot, it does take some of the momentum away from the film before things have even properly got started.

When the action does finally get going, again it's not quite what many will undoubtedly expect from a superhero film. The action is much more closely related to CA:TFA's war film roots than its comic book roots. The film is less a superhero film set during World War II, more a World War II film that happens to focus on a superhero. It actually feels quite different to most superhero films of recent years, and whilst this is not necessarily a bad thing, it does leave the film at times feeling a little awkwardly placed between two genres that don't often marry.

For all its "not quites", CA:TFA nevertheless has an awful lot going for it. Evans is great as the hero, giving a performance that fits with both who the character is and the time period in which the film takes place. The supporting cast are also consistently solid: Tommy Lee Jones is reliably excellent in his role as Colonel Phillips, required to run the gamut of feelings towards Rogers and his eventual alter-ego; Hugo Weaving somehow manages to toe the line between authentic and comic book maniacal villain with a strong performance; and Dominic Cooper impressed me as Howard Stark, bringing both arrogance and likability to the character. Only Hayley Atwell provides something of a weak link: whilst her performance is fine in many parts, I never found there to be nearly enough chemistry between her and Evans to make their romantic relationship anything more than hinted towards.

Ultimately, Captain America: The First Avenger works as both a standalone film and as a quasi-prequel to The Avengers film which is set to arrive next year (without giving too much away, the closing scene here could almost be the opening to that very film). It's a film that is likely to split opinion, as what some may see as bold, if not entirely successful, attempts to do something fresh and different with the superhero and war genres, others may see as unnecessary meddling to a tried, tested and desired formula. Taking a step back from (over) analysing the film, this is essentially a summer blockbuster made to entertain. And whilst it certainly could have entertained me more, it managed to do so sufficiently far more often than not.


Saturday, 13 August 2011

Review | Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)

The Potter film franchise is one that has divided many throughout it's decade-long tenure as one of the most successful film franchises in the history of popular cinema. Those who have wanted faithful interpretations of the books have essentially never had this, with characters and subplots deemed non-essential to the overarching story of Harry versus Voldemort unceremoniously chopped as if they had never existed. My own feelings towards the series have fluctuated throughout, with my main gripe being those films within the franchise that fundamentally become incoherent having had so much excised from the original source material. Alfonso Cuarón's Prizoner Of Azkaban, for example, has so much left out that some parts that are included are simply left hanging as nonsensical half-finished strands.

This was therefore my main concern heading into the final Potter film: would David Yates mangle things by leaving important parts of the final book out? His previous track record made me somewhat optimistic: Order Of The Phoenix, whilst having some elements removed, managed to tell the story of the fifth book faithfully by and large; Half-Blood Prince was less successful in this regard, however, and left me feeling unsatisfied; Deathly Hallows Part 1 posed a new problem - whilst splitting the final novel in two meant that much less is skimmed over or chopped, the film very much felt like half a story, again leaving an unsatisfying feeling. Deathly Hallows Part 2 therefore had a lot to prove - as a continuation and conclusion of the Potter franchise, as an adaptation of the final novel continuing from where Part 1 left off, and as a worthwhile film in its own right.

Thankfully, the film is much more success than failure. Yates wastes no time in getting straight back into the story - there's no preamble, no recap of the events of Part 1, and no information dump of exposition (something which I had prepared myself for, and was glad not to have to endure). This is a relatively bold move, considering the notoriously gentle and comedic openings of many of the previous films. But it works a treat, and we are soon back into what the Potter films generally do best: fantasy action sequences. Within the first half an hour we've had magical larceny, wand-based battles and a dragon. It's almost as if Yates is making up for the sluggish pace and decidedly unspectacular feel of Part 1. But it works, and gives the film a welcome adrenaline-charged start.

The battle sequences in particular are a strength of the film all the way to the end. The scenes are lucid and, for the most part, have a genuine sense of menace to them. One-on-one tests of wandsmanship are at times given short shrift (no doubt many fans will be left wishing Mrs. Weasley's showdown with Bellatrix Lestrange had been given slightly more screen time), but seeing as these are snapshots from within a greater, more epic war, Yates on the whole makes the right decisions.

The whole film, in fact, has a pleasingly epic feel to it that Yates has never managed to nail in his previous efforts. Images such as the Hogwarts Quidditch pitch razed to the ground, along with a stylish touch of a damaged goal hoop later being used as a giant's weapon, and Professor McGonagall summoning the statues that adorn the castle to protect the school will no doubt endure in the minds of the audience long after the credits have rolled.

The script is pretty standard Potter film stuff: key quotes and passages from Rowling's text make it through, but there's nothing too impressive with things regularly becoming fairly functional. It is the performances of the cast as a whole that equates to a large part of the film's success. Daniel Radcliffe as the eponymous boy wizard again failed to truly impress me - there's nothing particularly wrong with his performance here, but then there's nothing particularly right about it either. The main thing Radcliffe has going for him at this stage is that there's nobody else who could possibly play Harry Potter for the millions who have spent a decade growing up with his performances.

Rupert Grint and Emma Watson provide no further surprises; the former puts in the strongest performance of the three indicating the most post-Potter promise, whilst the latter's is charming but patchy, although stronger than she has been in previous films in the franchise. In fact, when surveying the performances of the young stars in this film, it is two others who genuinely catch the eye as talents of the future - namely, Matthew Lewis and Tom Felton, who play Neville Longbottom and Draco Malfoy respectively. Both young men put in strong, mature performances of emotion and depth. Felton has been a dark horse of the series for several films, but Lewis truly raises his game for this final film making Neville an authentic and sympathetic character.

It is the supporting cast who really make the difference, as the talent and star power on offer is simply overwhelming providing a "who's who" of the previous seven films. Big names such as Jim Broadbent and Robbie Coltrane give it their all in roles that have literally minutes of screen time, and it is the willingness of these former key players in the franchise to lend their weight to the film that really gives Yates' film a credence and sense of high quality. Ralph Fiennes' turn as big baddie Voldemort feels as though he has been holding back since his first turn in the role four films previous, and has now let loose in a genuinely maniacal, menacing and downright creepy performance. Praise must also be given to Alan Rickman as Snape, one of the most reliable talents throughout the whole film series, who gives this pivotal and complex character the swansong he deserves with one of the strongest and most moving performances seen in any of the films.

Essentially, In Part 2, Yates finally strikes the right balance of action, drama, emotion, menace and humour on his fourth and final opportunity, creating the strongest of all the Potter films at precisely the right time. The film is a great improvement on the sluggish and unsatisfying Part 1, feeling like its own entity rather than just the second half of a story. In my opinion it shouldn't go down as a truly great film, just a very good one, as the film is by no means perfect. But the spectacular battles and action sequences coupled with the brilliant star power on show makes this a thoroughly enjoyable and satisfying conclusion to a film franchise that has gripped popular cinema for a decade.


Monday, 1 August 2011

Review Round-Up | June & July 2011

Firstly, apologies for June and July not having their own entries - no specific excuse other than life being very hectic over the last couple of months. However, seeing as the next month or so should allow me more time to write here, I'll make up for my neglect with a few individual reviews in the near future. Anyway, to get things back up to date, here's June and July's reviews.

* * * * *

A Few Good Men (1992)

In a film overflowing with brilliant performances, it might seem unfair to single out any individual, but Cruise gives one of the most impressive performances of his career here. It is Nicholson who steals the movie in every scene he is in however, proving yet again what an enigmatic and powerful actor he is. The story and script from Sorkin are both intelligent and compelling, and the direction from Reiner is tight and polished. The penultimate act may miss a minor beat in not getting to the film's climax quickly enough, but ultimately this is a film I find it very difficult to fault.

Wild At Heart (1990)

A film that demands your attention from the opening scene and leaves you gripped until the credits rolls. A brilliant mix of mystery, comedy, action and crime tied together as a wonderfully surreal road movie. Lynch's inimitable style is present throughout with some fantastically dark and mindbending scenes, masterful cinematography and captivating dialogue. The narrative structure is not as bewildering as in some of Lynch's other works, which affords you more opportunity to appreciate the top-notch acting and direction on show here. The cast as a whole is excellent throughout. Things slow down noticeably during the second hour as compared to the first, but the story remains compelling and Lynch remains entirely in control. Bold, enthralling and thoroughly entertaining cinema.

The Other Guys (2010)

Distinctly average, with a plot that neither excites nor interests. The jokes miss at least as often as they hit, and Ferrell and Wahlberg never produce the chemistry needed to keep this properly afloat. Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne Johnson's cameos are the highlight of the film, and are also over far too quickly. Keaton is amusing as the police captain, but again is underutilised. Ultimately, whilst raising some laughs as it trundles along, this is nowhere near as successful as McKay and Ferrell's previous work together and overall fails to impress throughout.

Scream (1996)

Lauded as the saviour of horror/slasher films on its release, Craven's Scream has aged much better than many other films of the '90s but certainly isn't timeless. Campbell does well in the lead, and the supporting cast range from satisfactory to strong. The mix of horror, black comedy, postmodernism and genre satire is overall an entertaining success.

The Day The Earth Stood Still (2008)

Entertaining sci-fi/disaster romp. Reeves is fine in the lead (due in part to the fact that he needs to come across as mechanical and emotionless) and the supporting cast are fair aside from the constant irritation from Jaden Smith. The disaster set pieces are fairly impressive and enjoyable, and there are enough questions left unanswered to keep things intriguing with a sinister edge. If you're looking for a groundbreaking reinvention of either genre, look elsewhere; for an enjoyable Hollywood popcorn movie, you could do much worse than this.

She's The Man (2006)

Corny teen Shakesploitation that's so bad it's good. Awful on so many levels, but never takes itself seriously for a second. Cheesy enough that you can't help but enjoy it, with enough clever Shakespeare nods throughout to keep even the most ardent Bard fan grinning. Casting Vinnie Jones as a football coach who deplores violence on the pitch is a knowingly satirical touch too. It's no 10 Things I Hate About You, but it's certainly good fun.

EdTV (1999)

Often retreads very similar ground to that covered so well in The Truman Show, but with much less to say. The narrative is a little uneven; after a somewhat rushed opening, the first half maintains a good momentum, but is followed by a second hour that feels too long and unfocused, and in which characters are introduced or forgotten with little to no explanation. The cast is fairly solid, and this is one of McConaughy's better performances. Ultimately, the film doesn't take the opportunity to say nearly as much as it could have, but as lighthearted entertainment this is a success.

Gnomeo & Juliet (2011)

Enormous fun from start to finish. The animation is charming, whilst never of Pixar standard (but who except Pixar is?). The voice cast works well throughout, although there are probably too many characters as some do feel a little underdeveloped. That said, this is a knowing comic tribute to one of Shakespeare's best loved plays, with plenty of pleasing Bard references scattered throughout. Funny, well-paced and never given the chance to drag - as lighthearted animated comedy goes, this is quite simply great.

How To Train Your Dragon (2010)

Everything in this film smacks of being above average, with a few glimmers of excellence, but there is nothing - from the voice cast to the animation to the pverall concept - that stood out as particularly noteworthy to me. Compared to Dreamworks previous efforts this felt good but uninspired, and at no point comes anywhere close to the brilliance of which rival studio Pixar is capable. Undoubtedly entertaining and well made, but nowhere near a classic.

Pretty Woman (1990)

Gere is fine, as is Roberts who only occasionally grates, but this stays safe and predictable despite its potentially interesting subject matter. A film that ultimately has very little to say.

Due Date (2010)

Doesn't bring much to the table in terms of originality, and the gags don't come as thick and fast as they should for this type of movie; that said, this is still enjoyable, mainly due to Downey Jr. and Galifianakis' performances. Obvious comparisons to Trains, Planes & Automobiles don't really help either, seeing as no part of the film ever comes close to the comic brilliance of the older movie. Worth watching, but all involved have done films far better than this.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Review Round-Up | May 2011: Haiku Special Edition

Simply because none of last month's films neither require nor deserve more than fourteen syllables to be reviewed. Next month: sonnets.*

Godzilla (1998)

Mutant iguana
foiled by Leon and Bueller.
Mindless disaster.


Head Of State (2003)

Rock's one-note satire:
One joke told ad nauseum.
Last nail? Obama.


The Pacifier (2005)

Vapid Disney dross.
Diesel's Schwarzenegger-style
half-arsed comedy.


How To Lose Friends & Alienate People (2008)

Neither good nor bad:
considering the talent,
this should have been great.


Big Momma's House (2000)

Neither brain nor heart
are found in this "comedy";
Watching's just a drag.


*I reserve the right not to write next month's reviews in sonnet form.