Reviews

Review of GEMMA BOVERY

by Simon on May 26, 2015 · 0 comments

Many literary critics believe Madame Bovary to be one of the greatest novels ever written. This film – based on a graphic novel that was inspired by Flaubert’s work – can’t be given the same standard of praise. It’s a rather dull and dated affair, sugar coated by the beauty of the landscape and the beauty of Gemma Arterton who plays the title role – a young English woman who, like Flaubert’s protagonist, lolls around Normandy in search of luxury.
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Review of MAD MAX: FURY ROAD

by Simon on May 22, 2015 · 0 comments

We need to talk about Max.

After 30 thirty years (is it really that long ago?) he’s back. But actually he’s not. The film franchise may be named after him, but in MAD MAX: FURY ROAD – the fourth road trip in Postapocalyptica – the eponymous road warrior is even more mysterious than ever. Absent, one may even say. Hardy as hardly Max. Hardly there, hardly a word, hardly a hero. But let’s start at the beginning. [click to continue…]

Review of AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON

by Simon on May 9, 2015 · 1 comment

In the world of SciFi geekdom, Joss Whedon boasts an immaculate pedigree, having written Toy Story and developed the television series Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel and Firefly. With these under his belt, Marvel Studios put their superhero Avengers franchise in his hands a few years ago and like Rumplestiltskin, he has spun gold for them. This latest outing in the franchise sees his characters go up against a villain of their own making. [click to continue…]

Review of TESTAMENT OF YOUTH

by Simon on April 23, 2015 · 0 comments

This is a cinematic and beautiful movie: James Kent’s superb rendering of Vera Brittain’s memoir of the physical, emotional and social damage inflicted on an entire generation by World War I.  Kent carefully creates a mood of romantic nostalgia and let’s Swedish actress Alicia Vikander glow in the lead role. It’s a moving coming-of-age love story, sticky with the personal fallout that comes with news from the trenches. [click to continue…]

Review of MALL COP 2

by Simon on April 18, 2015 · 25 comments

After the first Mall Cop movie earned US$180 million worldwide, you had to expect that more would follow. Financed by Adam Sandler’s production company, and written by Nick Bakay and the film’s star Kevin James, the sequel may be utterly predictable and play blatantly on stereotypes and well-worn gags, but there’s something amiable and engaging about the character of Paul Blart – a kind of action-cop version of Homer Simpson. [click to continue…]

Review of MOMMY

by Simon on April 8, 2015 · 0 comments

Xavier Dolan burst onto the festival scene in 2009 with his debut feature I Killed My Mother, an autobiographical film in which he plays a young man at odds with his mum, brilliantly portrayed by French-Canadian actress Anne Dorval. Four films and five years later, Dolan is back exploring the mother-son relationship, with Dorval once again his maternal muse. And although the performances are outstanding, and there’s plenty of Dolan’s trademark vigour throughout, it’s a long and at times overindulgent examination of a hyperactive teenager, his white-trash mum and their kindly neighbour. [click to continue…]

Review of X+Y

by Simon on April 7, 2015 · 0 comments

For his debut feature film, British documentary filmmaker Morgan Matthews looks to his earlier 2007 doco Beautiful Young Minds, as the source material for what is the most pleasantly powerful films of the year. Edward Baker Close and Asa Butterfield, the young lead from Hugo, play young and slightly older versions of Nathan, a boy with an autism that leaves him socially isolated but naturally gifted at mathematics.  That Nathan loses his father (Martin McCann) at a young age increases his sense of anxiety, to the constant worry of his mother Julie (Sally Hawkins). [click to continue…]

Review of BLACK SEA

by Simon on April 7, 2015 · 0 comments

After very cool opening credits, I was ready for a World War II underwater thriller Das Boot style. A plummy Jude Law with his Commander’s cap at a jaunty angle, evading enemy depth charges. Not so: this is gritty contemporary fare, Law playing a rough-round-the-edges Scottish salvage expert named Robinson. When he’s unfairly  “let go” by his employer, he finds himself enticed into a scheme to retrieve a stash of gold that supposedly went down on a Nazi U-boat in the Black Sea in 1941. Financed by a secret backer represented by smooth-talking American Daniels (Scoot McNairy), Robinson gathers a motley crew of experts for the heist – half of them Russian in order to operate the second-hand sub they acquire in Sevastopol, and the other half English speaking, including unhinged deep sea diver Fraser (Ben Mendelsohn). Twelve men in a leaky boat with greed for company and the Russian Navy above them. It’s a great set up. [click to continue…]

Review of THE SPONGEBOB MOVIE

by Simon on April 2, 2015 · 0 comments

Was there a time when our grandparents watched The Flintstones and gasped aloud at how adult it was? I remember my mother being appalled as I laughed at the antics of Ren and Stimpy. My son has an almost symbiotic relationship with the SpongeBob Squarepants , and rather than be appalled, I can often be found in the background, laughing into my fist and answering “Nothing, darling” when he asks me what I’m laughing at. [click to continue…]

Review of BOOK OF LIFE

by Simon on April 1, 2015 · 0 comments

Mexico’s gloriously macabre Day of the Dead celebrations are the backdrop for one of the most original animated films in some time. Animator Jorge R. Gutiérrez’s obsession with the culture of his native Mexico gives him and his team a rich palette to work from, both in terms of his screenplay and the wonderful animations.  [click to continue…]