Here’s the rundown of what we saw in the past 30 days with whoever reviews it getting the right to bestow a star rating.
More talk on all these in the latest Podcast, numero 31.
Note: This list is of course by no means complete, we’re only rankin’ wot we seez. Where two films get the same rating they’re ranked alphabetically. NW denotes a Nigel review, PMcG is written by Páraic.
The Look of Silence
This is the follow-up to The Act of Killing and the second major feature from documentary film-maker Joshua Oppenheimer. This time we’re spending more time with victims of Indonesia’s shameful history of executions, rather than the perpetrators.
At the film’s heart is the optometrist Adi, the brother of Remly who was murdered in a series of killings in his village. Adi, much to the chagrin of his centurion parents, decides to visit the village elders responsible under the pretense of providing eye tests. It’s tense and the saddest part of the whole thing is the realisation that these men feel absolutely no remorse.
A sure fire entry on Buzzfeed end of year lists of “docs you need to see this year”.
John Maclean’s first foray into feature length films is a beautifully shot, to the point, take on one of cinema’s oldest genres. He captures the solitude and harshness of the American frontier, although filmed in New Zealand, and shows the devastation that can be left in pursuit of one’s dream. – See More
One of the film’s biggest successes is in how it handles the shadow of the original, beginning at first with a series of subtle nod, and then eventually climaxing with a massive bombastic moment that isn’t a hundred miles away from the kind of fanboy freakout thrill you’d get while watching Sharknado or Godzilla. Like the film as a whole, the final act is ridiculous and not all that original, but gives the audience exactly what they want. – See more
I’m going to admit that the print campaign for Spy really turned me off the film. Airbrushed Miranda Hart, Melissa McCarthy playing a fat cartoon character, Jude Law as a Bond knock-off and the Stath playing a gruff action man type again. But, positive enough reviews, pulled me in to the cinema and it turns out that Paul Feig has actually crafted a solid, fun little film. McCarthy plays into her reputation and plays with the audience. Her interplay with Jason Statham (who also shows he’s a smart man who can mess with audiences) is great fun and makes up for the largely forgettable Rose Byrne and Jude Law support.
Joe Lee’s Irish documentary tells the story of the “Fairview Lion Tamer”, Bill Stephens who was living his dream of being a circus lion tamer when tragedy struck and one of his lions escaped onto the street’s of the Dublin suburb.
This is undoubtedly a great film for those in any way connected with the story. Lee has pulled in some wonderful anecdotes about the day in question and also has great fun with Stephens’ partner, the glamourous and exotic Mai who it turned out hailed from a few minutes away in East Wall.
The film’s low budget is revealed at times with attempts at drone footage of the area letting it down. But where money is tight, good will and affection for the people and the place more than make up to reveal a really decent little film.
Let Us Prey
Liam Cunningham steals the show in Brian O’Malley’s first feature film. We are never quite sure if he is the devil or a guardian who believes more in the old testament judgement instead of all this love thy neighbour malarkey. The fact he is given the name Six in the credits may be an indication.
Pollyanna McIntosh plays a new Police officer who has transferred to a remote village where the incumbent officers are none too pleased of her arrival. Cue Six who turns up at the station having been the victim of a hit and run. The crux of the film is that Six knows every one’s dirty little secrets which sets in motion a series of bloody gore fuelled deaths. Douglas Russell is superb as the fundamentalist psycho giving us one of the best entrances on screen we’ve seen this year. A real treat for genre fans.
Listen Up Philip
The film is maybe a quarter of an hour too long and it feels like we’ve really seen our fair share of stories about New York writers and photographers suffering relationship problems and writers’ block, and it’s a pity we couldn’t have had a plot that felt a little more original to match the stellar effort from everyone else involved in the film. – See more
There’s something quite charming about the whole film rendering it as solid Sunday afternoon viewing. Whether that needs to be on the big screen or a television matinee is up to you. – See more
Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films
Hartley attempts to condense the independent studio’s entire history into 107 minutes. To do this he gets about fifty talking heads, hours of archive footage and gets to work trying to edit it all together. With so much thrown in, it’s a challenge to really follow at timesas you start to lose the run of yourself working out who everyone in. – See more
The main problem is how boring the whole affair is, it’s impossible to care about a bunch of rich, whiny, white boys and their first world problems. – See More
She’s Funny That Way
The key factor in a screwball comedy is that it must be funny and She’s Funny That Way simply ain’t. It’s Peter Bogdanovich’s first feature film in fourteen years and it hasn’t been worth the wait. Bogdanovich shot to fame back in ’71 with The Last Picture Show and had other hits with What’s Up Doc? and Paper Moon but since then has become more know for an authority on films rather than making good ones. Imogen Poots plays a prostitute who has broken into the world of acting and is recounting her tale of triumph to a sniffy New Yorker type which lets the film play out as a series of flashbacks.
We learn Owen Wilson is a theatre director who spends his time “saving” women from themselves by giving them $30,000 with no strings attached all under the guise of some hammy bullshit line of “squirrels to the nuts”. There is plenty of good acting and comedic talent here in the likes of Will Forte, Jennifer Anniston and Rhys Ifans but all are wasted with the limp boring dialogue. The entire production reeks of Woody Allen but at his worst he never made anything that comes close to the awfulness of Bogdanovich’s self indulgent mess.
End of Days – ★ (PMCg)
This is more sinister than just a bad film because it is saying loud and clear in black and white that the old films you hold dear will simply not be re-made but stolen and peddled to a younger generation who don’t know any better. End days really are here. – See more