Missed doing my April roundup while away at the TCM Film Festival, time to catch up.
Love & Mercy (2014) Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson viewed from two periods in his career, played by two actors. Careful and compassionate look at the troubles of fame and family, the demands of mainstream/corporate conformity, and even a peek inside his head, with less time spent on the creative process.
Inception (2010), intricate, impressive dream-maze with interesting characters to follow through it.
Life of Crime (2013) enjoyable, easygoing and amusing Elmore Leonard adaptation, a pre-Jackie Brown kidnapping-turned-relationship caper, nice work by Jennifer Aniston.
Maggie (2015) Schwarzenegger plays father to a teen who’s turning into a zombie, in a dreary, arty disease-of-the-week movie.
San Andreas (2015), tons of panic and destruction that numbs the mind and would have been way more fun if, in a bid to top 70s disaster films, it featured an all-star cast making cameos in creatively grisly death scenes.
The Loft (2014), unlikable bros who deserve the tawdry mess created by the murdered woman in their shared cheaters’ condo.
Ida (2013), short, excellent mysterious journey of discovery for the orphaned young nun who unearths an unexpected background before taking her vows, guided on her quest by her lonely, lost once-powerful aunt. Wonderful acting brings to life this odd couple and their discovery of freedom and friendship, leading to wisdom and tragedy.
Lost River (2014), Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut, a dark, trashy and stylish fairy tale. Ben Mendelsohn is good and creepy.
Violence (1947) OK noirish B about a sham activist organization, for a Dark Pages writeup.
Wild Card (2015) delivers the action I want from a Statham film but doesn’t deliver the grit and drama it was aiming for. This second adaptation of William Goldman’s Heat (the first try was Burt Reynolds’ 1986 movie) doesn’t make the brooding, searching tough guy a convincing character, or put him in a story worth caring about.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015) coming-of-age for two budding filmmakers (their private library of auteurist remakes is fun) that’s neither manipulative nor melodramatic.
Officer Down (2013) nothing special, James Woods, Dominic Purcell, David Boreanaz, Stephen Lang, and Walton Goggins in a fair crime thriller.
Walk of Shame (2014) humiliating story and a waste of Elizabeth Banks’ talent.
Jurassic World (2015), built for comfort and popcorn entertainment but forgettable, with cardboard characters and one excessively cruel death.
Wanted (2008) and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) for a fun discussion on this episode of the Filmwhys podcast.
Z for Zachariah (2015), interesting, unpredictable post-apocalyptic romantic triangle examining faith, guilt and trust through interactions between sheltered optimist Margot Robbie, cautious intellectual Chiwetel Ejiofor and unsettling charmer Chris Pine.
Cadillac Records (2008), Chicago blues ensemble biopic centred on Muddy Waters, his rise, rivalries, racism and fate as trends pass. Inaccurate but soapy, featuring a parade of Chess Records icons, including Beyonce as Etta James.
Dead Silence (2007) ventriloquist dummy horror movie that’s not the least bit scary.
National Treasure (2004) mindless fun, enjoyable treasure hunt.
Mr. Holmes (2015), the iconic detective struggles with dementia, angered as his famous logic fails him, swatting away anyone who’s concerned, and bonding with his housekeeper’s boy, who encourages and idolizes him. So-so plot but complex, moving performances from Laura Linney and Ian McKellen.
Spy (2015) delightfully raunchy, violent, uplifting, and feminist story of a CIA desk jockey finally given the chance to shine as an operative. Now, this is giving Jason Statham something to act; he hilariously spoofs his heroic screen persona with his pompous, escalating, outlandish tales, Peter Serafinowicz’s accent and Don Juan act is shiftier than Rose Byrne’s villainess.
Repulsion (1965) psychological terror that’ll get a post along with the other early Polanski films I caught up with in May.
15 movies at TCM fest, see that list here
4 movies on the plane to and from the fest, will watch The Revenant and Carol again on a real screen to truly enjoy:
Joy (2015), Scorsese-lite take on a woman’s rags-to-riches picture with less skilful use of music, and a great performance by Jennifer Lawrence.
The Revenant (2015) insists on the brutality of man and nature with beautiful visuals and cold, hard drilling music, epic but leans toward affected and overwrought.
Carol (2015), at heart “just” an authentic, asymmetrical May-December romance in the face of giant obstacles, with the added pain and challenges of being a gay couple in a more punishing time, having to hide longing and happiness.
The Big Short (2015), riveting, fast-paced expose of the men who saw the 2008 housing crash coming and positioned themselves to profit, full of likably horrid, self-centred characters.
the ones I posted on:
- The Earrings of Madame De… (1953)
- The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967)
- John Payne 1950s Adventures
- 3 Scott Brady Crime Movies
- Alan Ladd 3-Movie Roundup
- The Chase (1946)
- The Valley of Gwangi (1969)
- Experiment in Terror (1962)
- Yet More Alan Ladd
- Arsène Lupin (1932)
- Another Man’s Poison (1951)
Year to date: 177 films