Monday, May 25, 2015

TOMORROWLAND


You can listen to a podcast review of this film here or subscribe to Bina007 Movie Reviews in iTunes.

Apparently Brad Bird (THE INCREDIBLES) turned down the opportunity to direct the new STAR WARS movie to make TOMORROWLAND which shows that he's a numskull. But maybe we should all be relieved if his new clunker, TOMORROWLAND, is anything to go by.  This may well be the worst live action movie that Disney has ever made, and it's certainly one of the most expensive.  What were they thinking? Who thought George Clooney, the star of suave adult heist films was going to be a relatable anchor for a kids movie. And what made them think that Damon Lindelof, who led us all down the rabbit-hole with his TV show Lost, and then messed up the ALIEN mythos with PROMETHEUS, was going to be able to write a movie with a premise simple enough to get kids excited and on the edge of their seats?  What made them think that once Shailene Woodley had turned down the role, that charisma-free actress Britt Robertson would be able to fill her shoes?

Sunday, May 24, 2015

RETURN TO SENDER


In which Rosumund Pike (GONE GIRL) plays a nurse who is raped in her house by a man (Shiloh Fernandez) who she thinks is her blind date. To the incomprehensibility of her father (Nick Nolte) she befriends this man in prison and even asks him to make amends by renovating her now unsaleable house. The twist at the end is straight out a Japanese ultra-violent revenge flick. The problem with this movie is that it’s filmed like a Hallmark Channel afternoon movie and paced with similar banality. It’s very much a workmanlike, obvious, sunlit movie. Rosamund Pike is just fine but it feels like the script isn’t giving her anything to do. We painfully and mechanically wind our way toward a very underplayed twist in the tale which isn’t really worth the candle. Revenge flicks can be done better - the plots don’t need to be any more complex. Just think how David Fincher transformed GONE GIRL into something truly creepy and brilliantly off the hook. If only the film had had the self-confidence to go big, or director Fouad Makiti (OPERATION: ENDGAME) and the cinematographer (can't find the credit on IMDBPro) had had the inspiration to do something edgy and tense with the visuals.

RETURN TO SENDER has a running time of 95 minutes. It is rated 18 for scenes of sexual violence.  It is currently on very limited release in the UK but is also available on demand.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

A ROYAL NIGHT OUT


This year sees the anniversary or many a military event, not least the Battle of Waterloo which I am covering in real time with my @relivewaterloo twitter account. One of those anniversaries is the 70th anniversary of VE or Victory in Europe day. Many of us have grown up with iconic images of that night - the crowds partying in Trafalgar Square and the Mall.  Set against that backdrop, this movie - A ROYAL NIGHT OUT - is a very mild and respectful depiction of what might have happened if Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret had been given permission to celebrate VE Day among the masses.  The movie sees them beg permission of their parents, then hit the Ritz where Princess Margaret (true to later reform) manages to give her chaperones the slip and have a fine old time everywhere from the Ritz to a Soho brothel to the Chelsea Barracks. Meanwhile, her earnest elder sister, Princess Elizabeth tries to track her down with the reluctant help of working class airman Jack.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

PITCH PEFECT 2


You can listen to a podcast review of this film here.

I wasn't super excited by the original PITCH PERFECT movie but that film at least had novelty and some great songs.  This sequel lacks novelty and great songs, and I didn't laugh once.  Even Elizbeath Banks & John Michael Higgins' snarky competition commentators didn't make me laugh.

The irony is that the very story of the film is of a successful group that has lost its mojo, not sure of what it wants to be, misfiring and alienating its audience.  After an early mishap, the Bella's acapella group find themselves banned from defending their national championship title unless they can do the unthinkable and win the world championships.  However, the group is intimidated by a crypto-fascist German group called Das Sound Machine and inwardly fretting over what will happen to them when they graduate.  The mash-up queen, Becca (Anna Kendrick) is secretly interning at a production studio where the boss (Keegan-Michael Key) tells her she has to make something original.  And young Emily (Hailee Steinfeld) just wants to write songs, breaking the cardinal rule of Acapella that you only do covers.

CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA


An ageing successful actress, Maria (Juliette Binoche) travels to Switzerland to accept an award on behalf of the reclusive playwright, Wilhelm Melchior, who gave her her big break. But matters are complicated when it is discovered that Melchior, loosely based on Rainer Werner Fassbinder, has died and the acceptance speech has to become a kind of eulogy.   While at the ceremony, Maria is persuaded to star in that two-hander play once again, but this time in the older role of Helena rather than the younger role of the seductive Sigrid.  She practices the role with her loyal assistant Valentine (Kristen Stewart) at the beautiful mountainside home of Wilhelm's widow.  This role reversal, with Maria forced to play her age, and Valentine transformed from PA into sexually powerful Sigrid, throws up all sorts of conflicts and echoes.  This is most mischeviously played out in the character of Jo-Ann Ellis (Chloe Grace Moretz) - a wild child starlet who, in echoes of Kristen Stewart's own life - has slept with her director.  

Thursday, May 14, 2015

MAD MAX: FURY ROAD


You can listen to a podcast review of this film here or subscribe to Bina007 Movie Reviews in iTunes.

In a post-apocalyptic future, petrol and water are scarce. Daddy controls the water in Citadel and so controls the people. The young woman are Breeders to be used at will, the old women provide mother's milk, the men are turned into fanatical warriors bewitched by a cultish vision of glorious death and Valhalla.  Into this world steps a hero. Not Mad Max but Imperatur Furiosa - Charlize Theron as a kind of Ripley - riding the War Rig to Gastown across the Badlands until she hangs a right and goes off-road to the Green Place, carrying Daddy's Breeders.  So begins a two hour car-chase of epic and gonzo proportions. The war-rig, guarded by its henchman, gone rogue.  Daddy following with all the martial glory of the Citadel - chopped up bikes and cars teeming with war-boys & a fire-breathing guitar not to mention all the gangsters roaming the sand-dunes.  But Furiosa is better than them all, and this is her story, her journey and her redemption.  Max? Well, Max is just a blood-bag, strapped to the front axle of a war-buggy with a blood transfusion feeding a war-boy called Nux.  He's not peripheral. But he's not central either.