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Showing posts from April, 2016

There’s something going on inside the government that’s really wrong, and I can't ignore it.

Movies on My Mind Week Ending 30 April 2016
Snowden
The trailer for Snowden is kind of hilarious, making everyday Ed into a prodigy and airport novel hero as it sexes-up the thriller elements, all the while accompanied by Joseph Gordon-Levitt determinedly reproducing the cadences of NSA’s most wanted man. It’s a strange, unwieldy mismatch, but should that really be a surprise? Oliver Stone has been on a steady decline ever since he ran out of things he really wanted to say following JFK, and his jackdaw meanderings over material that ripe for interrogation since (even leaving aside the conspiracy potential), be it Nixon, World Trade Centre, W. or this, suggests a man actively renouncing his reputation, and in doing so delivering work that, while it may be competent, has no one really talking about it. Which is surely exactly what it should do. Maybe Stone just isn’t angry any more – maybe all that ayahuasca has fried his brain – but for too long he’s been reduced to little more than a te…

We need to put the Hellfire through that roof right now.

Eye in the Sky (2015)
(SPOILERS) The movies can’t get enough of drones, whether its critiquing them in indie features no one will see, utilising them as the stock-in-trade explosive plot device of the average blockbuster, or simply making the pictures themselves with them. Last year we were graced with the indulgent angst fest of a boozy Ethan Hawke going off the deep end in Good Kill; it was solid on the incongruity of delivering destruction from a storage crate in Vegas, much less so on the personal demons of its main character. The plus side of largely limiting itself to a character piece was that writer-director Andrew Niccol honed in on the disconnect between worlds. Eye in the Sky is much more traditional in that regard, addressing its subject matter through a high-stakes mission in progress. As such, it stands as a more effective as a piece of storytelling, even if that story assumes the sanctity and rectitude of the War on Terror, and picks relatively easy targets from which to …

Your boyfriend isn't real. We made him.

American Ultra (2015)
(SPOILERS) One would probably be mistaken to put the apparently unstoppable ascent of Max Landis down to Hollywood nepotism. After all, it isn’t as if anyone has been battering down his dad’s door offering him work over the past couple of decades. I suspect the truth is closer to the means by which Seth Grahame-Smith established himself, through readily recognisable gimmicks (of the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies genre mash-up variety); Landis has an aptitude for an easy (as in facile), high concept soundbite, of the sort studio execs love to hear, which firmly precludes any attempt to evaluate whether there’s anything of value in them, let alone the finished screenplays. Which is where American Ultra comes in. An appealing-enough premise, even a half-decent trailer. But as a movie, it’s a stinker.

The kernel comes from the legendary MKUltrapsy-ops programmes, whereby the CIA would programme/brainwash operatives to do their bidding. It’s a fascinating part of dark …

Scare the fangs out of the kid.

Hotel Transylvania 2 (2015)
(SPOILERS) Young audiences either had pre-Halloween treat-stuffed indifference or actually really liked the original, as this sequel somehow improved on the box office performance of the first. Everyone’s back (except CeeLo Green), not exactly to diminishing returns because its predecessor wasn't exactly stridently breaking new ground, strikingly funny, or stylistically noteworthy, but nevertheless, to diminishing returns. On that basis, Sandler has hit upon the less-than-bright ideas of a marriage, a baby, and a grumpy grandad. Even the latter, wheeling out Mel brooks’ vocal chords, fails to inject life into Hotel Transylvania 2, despite initially flirting with the idea.

This time Sandler even warrants a screenplay credit (with the returning Robert Smigel), so if you weren’t levelling the blame his way before, he’s abundantly fair game now. There isn’t a note struck here that isn’t the most criminally unsubtle, from Dracula training baby grandchild to be …

No, don’t do that. Don’t give me the pouty bat face.

Hotel Transylvania (2012)
Typically soft-centred, biteless Adam Sandler vehicle, with little to commend in terms of director Genndy Tartakovskys stylistic displays (or lack thereof; he appears to favour the kind of single plane, group compositions more common to the worlds of sitcom or theatre), Hotel Transylvania’s most noteworthy aspect is how incredibly undemanding it is. Consequently, give all the other animation out there, at every turn, most of it significantly superior, it should count itself very lucky to have found an audience and merited a sequel.

Even the premise is entirely obvious, which may explain why Sandler and co can find little, apart from the bleeding obvious, to do with it. Monsters are long-since harmless and just misunderstood, and so, nursing a morbid fear of humans, Sandler’s Dracula has established the titular retreat as a safety zone, away from us all. The extended entourage in this Sony picture includes the usual Universal horror line-up, naturally voiced by …