Sandwiched between Gone Girl and Desperate Housewives, Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively sparkle in a post-modern, suburban-noir thriller that twists and turns with flashbacks and unreliable narrators. Black comedy mixes with Internet memes and sharp satire on small-town America; quick, stylish and inventive, but still not quite the sum of its’ admirable parts.
No spoilers, but when you already know the ‘who’ in the ‘whodunit’, what’s left is the style and the (ahem) execution and whether or not you believe that such a moustache sported by Ken Branagh’s Poirot can even exist. Yes, it’s that much a distraction that even an ‘all star cast’ such as this has trouble competing. Continue Reading
Marginally better than its poor ‘box office’ (a Netflix production), this one-trick, high-concept, Andrew Niccol cyber-thriller reads like a classic 60’s, sci-fi short story ambitiously stretched to feature-length. Clearly relishing the challenge of playing chilly, unlikeable lead characters, Amanda Syfried and Clive Owen fail to draw us in. Continue Reading
Freely adapted from Peter Ackroyd’s Victorian murder-mystery, Jane Goldman (Kick-Ass, Woman in Black) does her usual schtick in pushing the lurid, seedy, nasty and downright squalid to the fore in the hunt for a Ripper-like serial killer. To be sure, Victorian London was lurid, seedy, nasty and downright squalid, but this is yet another provocative Goldman script that wallows with perverse delight and glee in all of that.
If, like me, you spotted the killer in the first five minutes, before the full list of suspects was even revealed, then you’re along for an uncomfortable face-slapping with wet red herrings as Bill Nighy’s dour detective re-imagines the crimes with each of his suspects in Hammer Horror-style melodrama. Continue Reading
As YA-fiction adaptations go, this teen crime drama from Sacha Gervasi (Hitchcock), based on Sam Munson’s 2010 novel, is strictly middle-of-the-road plot cliché, and only star performances from Ansel Elgort and Chloe Grace Moretz save it from bland disappointment.
When the murder of their black, model-student school-friend is dismissed as gang violence, angsty teenage nerd Addison (Eglort – Divergent, Baby Driver) teams up with best friend Phoebe (Moretz – The Equaliser, Fifth Wave) to investigate in snowy Washington DC.
Indie-inflected, or simply under-budget, November Criminals ambles through twin threads of inept vigilantism and dealing with grief. Rian Johnson’s 2005 Brick, this isn’t… Continue Reading
Taylor Sheridan’s left-field, superior detective drama set on a snowy Wyoming native reservation has atmosphere, tension and a terrific cast. Unfairly criticised for its racial politics on release, this is part police procedural, part revenge Western and has some finely nuanced playing from all involved, with Jeremy Renner finally getting to prove his acting chops in a thoroughly understated but dominant performance. Continue Reading
The superior thriller of 2014, Gone Girl is a dark, twisty, psychological study of the worst seven-year itch imaginable. Abduction, sex, murder and revenge; trial-by-media and satire on America’s dark heart, this one has it all.
Gone Girl will have you on the edge of your seat for the first hour, until the biggest plot turn of the decade hits you for six; then it’s a tense white-water ride into a twisting canyon in which every scene threatens disaster for the lead characters.
Add career-defining performances from Ben Affleck (Armageddon, The Town) and Rosamund Pike (Jack Reacher, The World’s End) to a script that is impossible to second guess, and Gone Girl is a genuine must-see. Continue Reading
Michael Mann’s Gothic horror sees an Einsatzkommando unit taking over a keep in a Romanian village only to awaken an evil far greater than Hitler’s Nazis. Commander Jurgen Prochnow (Das Boot) quickly realises the Keep was a fortress built to hold something in; something the greed of his men release and pay with their lives.
Based on a horror pulp novel by F. Paul Wilson, The Keep was an unlikely early project for the American director of Manhunter, Heat, Miami Vice and The Insider. But, since his stated fascination is for the nature of evil, this tale of supernatural evil versus Nazis suited his nascent style very well. Whatever you admire about Michael Mann, subtlety is not the first quality that comes to mind. Continue Reading
Joaquin Phoenix and Claire Danes shine in this intriguing but overloaded noire-thriller romance.
Depending on your view of director Thomas Vinterberg’s work (of the original Dogme 95 movement, Festen, The Hunt), It’s all About Love will be a profound and moving exploration of the human condition set against global catastrophe, or the biggest load of pretentious, art-house twaddle in years.
And it’s not all about love, either. Continue Reading
I hate to say this but Daniel Craig has poor form with his movie choices. Invasion, Cowboys and Aliens, now Dream House; a supernatural-horror-mystery-thriller, re-cut by the studio without the director, where the cast disowned it as simply not good enough.
Daniel Craig is hotshot book editor Will Atenton, who decides to drop out of the Manhattan rat-race (boo-hoo) to spend more time with his family (Rachel Weisz and twins Taylor and Dee Dee Geare) and yet still write a novel (mutually incompatible activities).
Their all-American clap-board house in Connecticut has chilly neighbours, random trespassers and was where a family had been murdered five years earlier – supposedly by the father who’s just been released from a psychiatric hospital. Already you know this won’t end well… Continue Reading