2016’s Best Picture Oscar winner is a well-executed, if rather old-fashioned, rendering of the real-life Boston Globe campaign to expose abusive Catholic priests. A top-notch cast does its’ best to breath life into a well-worn trope; crusading journalists chasing down an elusive story in the face of an institutional conspiracy of silence in the heavily Catholic ‘village’ that is Boston.
It’s a fine contemporary (2010-12) ensemble drama that feels like a 1970’s period piece in tone and style. Unfortunately the script never quite delivers on the promise of an All the President’s Men to become something altogether more pedestrian. Continue Reading
An exellent sci-fi drama is undermined by its’ own dubious sexual politics, an unecessary thriller-disaster movie twist and the box-office prerogative of leering at leading lady Jennifer Lawrence.
Thirty years into a hundred and twenty year interstellar journey, everyman Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) awakes from hibernation to find himself the only one of five thousand passengers awake on a vast colony ship. Unable to re-enter hibernation, he becomes Robinson Crusoe, a lone, lost soul surrounded by humanity but condemned to die alone – with only the company of a robot bar tender.
Until he commits the selfish act of waking a female passenger Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence), condemning her to the same fate; stealing a life equates to murder. The initial romance turns sour when she finds out. But all that goes on hold when the colony ship starts to break down. Like they do… Continue Reading
A Scotsman and an Irishman go to the Wild Frontier – it’s not the start of a joke, it’s Slow West, a low-budget meander through the bleak Wild West. Fassbender’s lone gun-slinger Silas befriends Kodi Smit-McPhee’s love-lorn Scottish laird, Jay. But the girl he’s pursuing has a price on her head and there’s a gang of outlaw’s after the reward money. Will the immigrant odd couple get to her before they do? And what is Silas’ motive for helping?
Sundance-winning Slow West has epic New Zealand standing in for the epic landscapes of the Old West, and despite nods to old Westerns of bank robbers, bounty hunters, men with no name and fewer words, this is an altogether more complex, European-inflected affair. Continue Reading
Southern England, 1947: returning from a mystery trip to Japan in search of herbal remedies, a long retired Sherlock Holmes faces up to mortality, but can’t quite shake the last case that led to his retirement. A man out of his time, Holmes must come to terms with the post-world war nuclear age and the loss of the incredible mental faculties that made him the world’s most famous detective.
Now all that remains is to solve a 35 year old mystery, while teaching a ten year old boy about bee keeping. Continue Reading
Genre-busting Aussie comedy-drama The Dressmaker brings Rosalie Ham’s book to the screen; part farce, part tragedy, part revenge-Western, the ensemble cast excel in this surreal 50’s tale of a broken outback town; but it’s Kate Winslet (Divergent, A Little Chaos) who delivers the central winning performance as the gunslinger with a Singer sewing machine – a GunSinger?
With the brash Aussie brio of Strictly Ballroom and Muriel’s Wedding, The Dressmaker switches from comedy to tragedy to farce with some predicatble and not-so predictble twists. Continue Reading
In 1973, lacrimose Northern playwright Alan Bennett allowed the homeless Miss Sheppard to park her van in his driveway in Camden’s smart Gloucester Crescent. She stayed fifteen years.
Bennett (The History Boys) adapts his much-loved memoir and stage play to the screen, with the ineffable Maggie Smith (Best Exotic, Quartet) in the title role as The Lady in the Van. In a cleverly self-aware script, directed by the National Theatre’s Nicholas Hytner (The Madness of King George) Bennett plays with fact, fiction and his own identity in a tragi-comic tale that is both universal, and as British as afternoon tea. Continue Reading
The script has forgiveable flaws; the performances are universally superb; the story is worth the telling in the twenty-first century. So why did director of photography Ed Grau have to spoil the whole thing by smearing Vaseline on the lens and shooting during an Earthquake? Continue Reading