After being away for some time, it’s important for me to come back strong, and there have been some major surprises over the last two weeks, so let’s get started.
The Spring movie season has officially kicked off with the release of this year’s first major box office blockbuster, namely Batman v Superman, starring Ben Affleck as the Caped Crusader and Henry Cavill as the sexy stud in red. What I will be kind in saying is that both gents look good in their respective roles and do a safe, by-the-numbers job with them. That said, after the one-two punch success of The Avengers, the hilarity and box office gold of Guardians of the Galaxy and the nearly perfect action/comedy film that was Deadpool, this latest entry into the comic-book film world is so lame, it hurts a bit to keep watching after the first 30-40 minutes. This is everything to do with shoddy direction/editing and green lighting—a poor idea that only got worse on celluloid. The major issue is that the film does NOTHING to connect the audience emotionally to the characters and jumps into the ‘you-already-know-their-story’ territory of these superheroes, but we the audience couldn’t give a hot damn! The plot and director try so ardently to fuse too many stories together in this wrecked comic tale, that you’re completely non-plussed with the superheroes. Seriously, it’s Bennifer post-breakup (AGAIN!) and Cavill who’s sexy but a bit too fey to take seriously. Save your farthings for the Extras Edition Blu-Ray/DVD and let out that downtrodden sigh! Jeebus, Daredevil was bad enough, Ben! ##-1/2
Food for thought in question form…Could Sacha Baron Cohen be a new Pasolini albeit in knowing and contemporary, comedic form? If there is anything that resonates as truth when witnessing Cohen (Ali G, Borat, Bruno, etc.) doing his thing, it’s that he wants you to be incited…provoked…shocked…perhaps even a bit pensive. Whatever your opinion on the comic and his modus operandi, he employs the same controversial techniques that made Pasolini such a daunting figure and holds an unwanted mirror to society. That said, Pasolini probably never thought about having his protagonists hiding inside the vaginal walls of a huge elephant who then gets penetrated by an elephant’s erect male member. Granted, when Pasolini employed bodily secretions, nobody was laughing. The film follows the reuniting of The Brothers Grimsby after being separated as children decades earlier. One has become a successful MI6 spy, while the other one has resigned himself to a life of mediocrity, married to a big, buxom beauty played to perfection by Rebel Wilson. Also, the inclusion of Wilson and Gabourey Sidibe as big beauty/booty babes that have no shame with their figures is rather sublime, if shocking! Shock shock shock! You’ve been warned…and this film is NOT for the faint hearted. ###
I never truly got the jokes behind the huge blockbuster My Big Fat Greek Wedding from a decade-and-a-half ago, but I suppose plenty of people loved it so much that a sequel was greenlit for a new generation. After all, they greenlit a second Zoolander film, right? Well, this one finds main characters Toula and Ian, played again in their respectively over-the-top vs. annoyingly calm roles by Nia Vardalos and Aidan Shaw, uh I mean, John Corbett. They now have a teenage kid starting her senior year…did we miss a couple of years somehow? I’m sorry, dears, but the (American) Greek jokes that mock the community and its idiosyncratic ways while Greece is experiencing economic struggles and an influx of refugees, seems rather thoughtless and SO formulaic: “Marry a good Greek boy…!” and yada yada yada. Perhaps if the film had delved more into the emotional connection of the new ‘nuclear family’ of 2016, and not on silly jokes that even your grandma would find lame, this sequel would have been warranted. NOT! ##
Next up, 10 Cloverfield Lane, the latest from the tricky mind of J.J. Abrams and director Dan Trachtenberg, The film starts quickly, with protagonist Michelle leaving her abusive boyfriend only to be sideswiped in a terrible accident and then wake up some time later hooked up to an IV and also chained to a wall in some form of makeshift bunker! Her captor is none other than Howard, played to eerie perfection by John Goodman, who has hardly aged since Nineties American sitcom Roseanne, and at first, one wonders if he really is an okay gent, claiming that the air outside is poisoned and humanity has recently been wiped out. He saved Michelle then, correct? But should she buy his word or try and yank his keys, thereby either saving herself or stumbling into a death trap reality? Howard spends a lot of time reminiscing about an absent, maybe dead daughter: Is Michelle meant as her replacement? The third inhabitant of the bunker, a bearded young man named Emmett and played stoically by John Gallagher, Jr., seems to agree with Howard that there’s a reason to remain underground—but he’s also a bit questionable. The film makes you squirm and leaves you desperate to know the truth. And if Howard doesn’t have any answers or reasons for what he’s doing, the questions his character raises give you chills. Is he a psychopath prone to delusions of grandeur? Watch it and find out! ###
10 Cloverfield Lane
I cannot possibly start this review without talking about beauty…the beauty of this film, of its stars and its setting...Gemma Bovary is a French-British drama-comedy and a stellar example of sublime beauty on celluloid. I can definitely say that I am now a huge fan of actress Gemma Arterton and the essence of this story is so heightened by her presence and that of all the actors in this film, including Arterton and Fabrice Lucchini, who plays a once Paris-based businessman now running the local bakery in a lovely, small town in Normandy. What his character Martin Joubert realises is that his new neighbours are actually named just like the characters in his favourite book, Flaubert's Madame Bovary, and then, horror of horrors, he soon comes to note that his new neighbours are actually acting out the same scenarios of his beloved book...and all he can do is watch the inevitable ending, despite his attempts to salvage everything. I shan't give anymore away, but this beautiful film is the gem of spring. Take a moment to catch it when you can. ####
Kate Winslet could play an escaped North Korean runaway, and she'd be believable. In her latest foray onto the silver screen, she plays a seamstress just as the simple title The Dressmaker suggests. Oh, but she's got an axe to grind with her reappearance, as it is actually a sudden return to her long-left homestead in the Australian outback. When she left, she was a woman half-scorned and ready to be gone from the abysmal confines of the town. Now, years later, she's a skilled seamstress with an eye for high fashion and a knack for turning heads and being curt. Enter Liam Hemsworth (proverbial eye candy and current Mr. Miley Cyrus) and the cheeky, Australian flirtatious banter can commence...and it is fuuuuun to watch, though I did find myself wondering...did she just NEED a Hemsworth moment? The film won't win an Oscar, but Winslet can do anything she wants so it begs the question....why choose this tiny film, set in the middle of nowhere Aussieville? Still, with such an easy plot and a hilarious cast of characters, it was rather easy to be drawn into this charming piece of outback love. ###
What can I say about the dynamic duo of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler that hasn’t already been said or done? They've hosted the big awards shows, made their marks over more than two decades and now they've graced the world with this big screen effort called Sisters, a film about two siblings in their very early 40s dealing with that 'next phase' in family life...post-40 for them and post-retirement for their parents. This turning point is where the film finds these characters. I'm a few years shy of forty and a twin. My brother and I have recently ended a silly spat so this film had a few things to say to me. That said, while the film is a tad formulaic and over-the-top in an 'SNL film' kind of way, the elements of reality that Fey and Poehler convey so eloquently are also extremely well done, and it is impossible to deny the talent oozing from these girls' pores. You feel it despite the US-American shtick and this film, especially for anyone who is a sibling and loves their fam, should be seen for fun, for laughs, for understanding, for acceptance. Well done if overly silly, chicas! ###
The Green Inferno...damn hot with Eli Roth and his graphically-induced obsessions...he's cute, too. That said, this splatter fest is certainly a homage to the Italian cannibal film craze of the Seventies and early Eighties, and while Roth does some surprising justice in his ode, there is little to this film other than a starring role for his then girlfriend/now wife, actress and lead Lorenza Izzo. Deciding to forgo her UN father’s basic, monotonous tone of uni life, Justine sets off on a weekend adventure to campaign with other activist students to save parts of the Amazon rainforest and its indigenous tribes. When their plan crashes in the Peruvian jungle, though, things quickly go awry and the splatter fest begins with such slow then graphic aplomb, the viewer is left cringing and wincing, which is obviously Roth’s desire. Much of his previous work is better, however. DVD this with some wine and herb, and you’ll likely enjoy it more. ##-1/2
Woah Lawd, spring has sprung with a load of new films, so enjoy the fresher air and take a walk to your local cinema. See you all soon!