31 August 2013

PAIN & GAIN- Review

I have previously held that Michael Bay is the Devil. While Pain & Gain did not leave me unconvinced of this assertion, the film goes to show that any hack director who takes a lower budget than they're used to, and uses the money to make a film for grown-ups, can make something far more interesting than they usually churn out. At the same time, it's a film that is unerringly faithful to Bay's own directorial style, but then we can't ask for miracles, can we?

Based on the true events that transpired around LA's Sun Gym in the mid-1990s, Daniel Lugo is a bodybuilder and personal trainer who's satisfied with his body, but significantly less happy with his lot in life. As he sees it, life's losers are stepping on his neck for a profit, and with some unwitting encouragement from a self-help seminar, he rounds up two other thugs from his gym to kidnap, torture and extort from the rich, starting with one unfortunate client who could grant him a fortune.

29 August 2013

THE WAY WAY BACK- Review

It's interesting to see that off the back of their Oscar winning script for The Descendants, a film about parenthood that was best enjoyed with your parents and grandparents, writers Jim Rash and Nat Faxon have branched out into directing with a film that takes the opposite perspective. The Way Way Back is far more of a coming-of-age story than the last script we saw from this duo.

14-year-old Duncan is having an utterly miserable time on his summer holiday, under the yoke of his mother's awful boyfriend, Trent. For the grown-ups, the holiday is "spring break for adults", but for a socially awkward kid like Duncan, it's complete hell. Things liven up when he bumps into Owen, the charismatic manager of a run-down water park, who sees his potential and offers him a job for the summer. The following weeks bring him out of his shell and change his life for the better.

28 August 2013

Visit Mexico! 2 GUNS and WE'RE THE MILLERS

Apparently, the best reason to shoot a Hollywood movie in Mexico, aside from creating a dystopian vision of abject poverty there, is because you're making a film about drugs. The most tenuous of links connects up We're The Millers and 2 Guns, but as each of them can be reviewed in brief, and both films show American actors getting themselves into scrapes with Mexican drug lord characters, let's look over both at once.

26 August 2013

KICK-ASS 2- Review

The first Kick-Ass was a pretty extraordinary accomplishment of independent filmmaking, produced before anyone could say "You can't do that!" and presented, fait accompli, for distribution. It was met with widespread acclaim, and quite right too- it's a film that was out to shock and affront conventional superhero movie norms, but still had an essentially good natured centre.

Kick-Ass 2, at this point in the summer, should serve as a palate cleanser from uber-serious comic book movies like Man Of Steel and The Wolverine. Dave Lizewski has hung up the wetsuit for the time being, but discovers that Kick-Ass has inspired a number of others to don costumes and fight the good fight. Spurred on by boredom, Dave decides to take his superhero career more seriously, and enlists Hit-Girl to train him up, but she's trying to buckle down and act like a normal teenage girl. Elsewhere, Chris D'Amico is inspired to counter the rise of the world's first superheroes, by becoming the world's first supervillain.

22 August 2013

ELYSIUM- Review

To some, Elysium has proved to be a bit of a disappointment. Personally, I think it's churlish to complain that Neill Blomkamp's follow-up to District 9 is another crazy, smart, original sci-fi actioner, which takes place in a believable and lived-in environment, with interesting characters, superb special effects and considerable political resonance. Damn you, Blomkamp- couldn't you have shown more range, by making a franchise movie or something?

While District 9 was a spin on Apartheid in South Africa, Elysium is borne out of more current concerns about the haves and the have-nots, and debates about universal healthcare. Around 150 years into the future, the one-percenters of this world have fled the Earth to maintain their lifestyles, living on a luxurious space-station called Elysium. The poor remain on Earth, stewing in poverty and illness, despite advances in medicine that have all but cured death.

19 August 2013

The Great Big Catch-Up

Where the hell have I been? Isn't it just like me to fuck off in this dark time of The Smurfs 2, RED 2 and Percy Jackson: Sea Of Monsters? For those of you who've missed my regular postings over the last couple of weeks, you have my apologies- I've just started a new job, and so I've entered that familiar phase of real life overtaking cinema. Well, overtaking my writing about cinema anyway.

I haven't seen any of those aforementioned films, (yet) but I have seen Alan Partridge: Alpha PapaBlancanievesThe Conjuring and The Heat, and it seems like we could feasibly catch up on all of those films in fairly short order. It's time for another big catch-up post, folks, just in case you were on tenterhooks about what I thought of them, or whether they're worth your time.

2 August 2013

ONLY GOD FORGIVES- Review

Since its release in 2011, Drive has variously been described as a werewolf movie, a John Hughes movie and a superhero origin story- and those are just interpretations that director Nicolas Winding-Refn and star Ryan Gosling have shared, in various different interviews. It's only reasonable to expect that Only God Forgives has just as many layers of meaning, and that most casual viewers will simply enjoy the music and the style.

Be that as it may, Only God Forgives is one fucked-up little puppy. Set in Bangkok, it's ostensibly about Julian, a drug dealer who runs a boxing gym, and fantasises about settling down with his regular prostitute. One night, Julian's older brother, Billy, rapes and kills a 16-year-old girl on a whim, and is subsequently murdered by the girl's father. Julian's mother storms into Bangkok, screaming for vengeance, and ultimately setting her remaining son on a collision course with Chang, the cop who facilitated his brother's murder.