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.
WE SAW NO BAD MOVIES THIS MONTH!
More talk on all these in the latest Podcast – #32
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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.
Song of the Sea
A smart, touching story about an unconventional Irish family living in a fairy tale. As we all know by now, Thom Moore’s animated effort was nominated for a Best Animated Feature at the 2015 Academy Awards, with a deliberate strategy to get the film out there in the US before making a splash in Ireland and the UK. Unfortunately cinemas here at home didn’t play along as much as they could, with many of them quickly relegating it to daytime screenings after its first week on release. Despite this, it’s been a universally adored work and will go on to become one of Ireland’s few “coming of age” effort suitable for children.
We also have an “as Gaeilge” review of the Irish language version of the film Amhrán na Mara from Lisa Madden right here.
It’s always tough to present both sides of a story especially when the person your documentary is about is dead. Asif Kapadia, the BAFTA winning director of Senna, has chosen Amy Winehouse as the subject for his latest film. He uses home videos, studio recordings and existing footage to construct the short lived musical career of one of the most talented jazz singers.
Kapadia interviews friends and family, never showing their faces instead placing their voices over footage of the young star. It paints a complete picture in terms of the rise and fall of someone exposed to the harsh realities of fame and money. It has caused outrage among some of Winehouse’s friends with the most ire held by Amy’s Dad Mitch. He’s portrayed as an absentee father who only came back on the scene when she started to make it big and seemed to push her to perform when she clearly wasn’t fit.
It’s a harrowing watch at times, pulling no punches in showing by the end how ravaged Amy had become by drink and drugs. It reminds us of what a truly great talent was lost and no doubt will bring a new wave of people to her music.
Love & Mercy
Lost at Sea – ★★★★ (PMcG)
A poignant look back at one of America’s greatest musicians, Love & Mercy has more depth than your average biopic. It shows in its own small way, the contribution Brian Wilson made to music and America. God only knows where we’d be without him.
It’s all in your head – ★★★½ (NW)
The story is oh so simple and the adventure as Joy and Sadness go from Headquarters into the depths of the conscious mind is smart, but still rooted in a logical sense of fun. The central message of processing your feeling and dealing with your emotions is a great one for children as they’re repeatedly told “don’t sulk”, “don’t cry”, “stop laughing” by adults.
Magic Mike XXL
At the end of the year you always look for “misunderstood” films. At the minute Gregory Jacobs’ Magic Mike XXL might be topping that pile for me. The film, which has Steven Soderbergh’s fingerprints all over it despite him stepping back as director, has one message – it’s damn important to look after your woman. There are lengthy scenes of conversation simply about this, none better than the Andie MacDowell led set-piece which sees a group of middle-aged women opening up to a group of men about how their husbands don’t really care about them anymore. It’s probably not the intention, but it’s these scenes of reflection and conversation which are actually the film’s biggest strength.
So yes, it’s still all really ridiculous and laugh-out loud funny with the big, eh, “action” scenes of stripping and dancing also brilliant fun. Channing Tatum reminds us of his ridiculous physical range and ability to be watchable on-screen in whatever he does. Whenever they manage to get him and Chris Pratt sharing a screen together, the crowds will be out the door.
All hail Mike.
Care Bear – ★★★½ (PMcG)
The humour isn’t too far removed from his usual fare with plenty of dick and fart jokes while also allowing some current observational home runs. It won’t be to everyone’s taste and will probably offend a few but there is a well constructed plot with a central message at the heart of Ted 2.
Paul Rudd is the superhero that everyone loves to love in the latest comic book flick. He plays Scott Lang a recently released convict who finds it hard to keep a steady job with his criminal past. Struggling to make ends meet he decides to do the job his friend Luis(Michael Pena) has been bugging him about since his release.
This puts Lang in connection with Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) the creator of and original wearer of the Ant-Man suit. He needs lang to take up the mantle and help him stop his power mad protege Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) from making a terrible mistake.
Lots of laughs with on point performances from most concerned make Ant-Man a light enjoyable yarn as most comic book movies should be instead of a Shakespearean try hard. It would be interesting to see what was Edgar Wright’s doing as much of the film’s humour bares his familiar comedic eye.
You’re Ugly Too
All in all, it’s a very decent, assured debut effort from Noonan as he realises that his main asset is the interplay between Gillen and Kinsella, with him crafting a script that allows them to push the banter meter to 11. There’s a very natural energy between the two and it’s the most human and real we’ve seen Gillen in a long time, following his honourable but pantomime-esque attempts at Charlie Haughey and Game of Thrones’ Petyr Baelish.
Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
There’s a point in Mission: Impossible 5 where you see Tom Cruise (53), Ving Rhames (56), Simon Pegg (45), and Jeremy Renner (44) sitting around a table planning their next move when you might be forgiven for thinking you’re watching an Expendables prequel. The roles for women aren’t that bad in the film but it’s really it feels a bit like the dudes are here to to up their pension funds.
Plot-wise the film ploughs through its two hours and eleven minutes well, there are a few gaps here and there but this is a serviceable plot which gets our man Tom from A to B to C. This is the third time that screenwriter/director Christopher McQuarrie has worked with Cruise (after Jack Reacher and Edge of Tomorrow), and he knows how to get the most out of him.
The film is thrilling and enjoyable at all the right times, but there’s very little here that will stay with you for much longer after the end credits.