Reviews (67)

  • I went into The County expecting it to be more of a comedy than it actually was. To be fair I expected bleak, dry and dark comedy because Iceland is like that. There is also some kind of similarity between New Zealand isolation stories and the Icelandic ones. It does feel like rural Iceland and rural NZ are quite similar and so I expected the tone to a bit dark.

    Well that part was correct only a bit bleaker than I had expected. The earthy anti-glamor realism of thick jerseys and overalls plus dollops of cow muck and milk are a bit hard to watch without an involuntary wince or two.

    I knew the lead character was a widow before I went to see the film and so was surprised to find the husband alive for the first part of the film. I think the editors could have missed that section and I was somewhat distracted to see the supposed corpse breathing in the body ID scene. The impression is that they are people of few words. When the lead character makes a pointed post on Facebook the group dynamic changes and the conflict from that drives the movie forward. It does feel a bit compressed though from a narrative perspective.

    I know it is is a script but the villains of the film are cartoonish and very very stilted. By the end of the film there are some rays of hope although there are some realistic outcomes as well. Not as great at say "Woman at War" or "A White,White Day" but it has its charms.
  • This is just a terrible film. It has dated very badly and it has caricatures instead of actors. There are 3 hams and a vegetable in the 4 lead parts. I watched this because it is directed by Kubrick but I wish I'd never seen it at all.

    James Mason over acts everything in a very exaggerated way. How did he even get cast. In 1962 were they that desperate? Certainly desperate enough to case Shelly Winters as the mum. Surely the character should have some redeeming features? As for Clare Quincy - what kind of name is that? Peter Sellars hams it up every time he has a moment. I'd like to think he was laughing at the movie, the script and the rest of the cast.

    The Lolita herself is a kid of 15 playing a 14 year old. Theatrical would be a kind way to describe her. She is more like a vegetable - there only to be chewed up and spat out by the other characters.

    This is dodgy subject matter and might have been something in 1962 but save yourself some time by watching another Kubrick film.
  • If saying motherf dozens of time is your idea of funny then this is is for you. I wish Murphy had better material than this. The idea is stretched thin when you first realise the character is stealing someone else's copy. It goes downhill from there.
  • The first half of this documentary reads as a kind of sly, long con in which the film maker has somehow managed to get funding for a multi-year, multi location field trip. He can't believe his luck and starts off thinking much of the initial story is some kind of elaborate hoax.

    Much to his surprise as he and the other investigator quite literally dig deeper they are rewarded by a much bigger story that is actually quite shocking.

    However we can't quite be sure if the super witnesses are the real thing or actors playing a part. The secondary story seems to me to be the quite serious and deserving of a follow up.

    The initial story around the death of the UN's Secretary general at the time does give us more context and that part of the story has quite rightly attracted a number of headline stories.

    The secondary tall tales seem quite feasible but the tone of the overall expedition / documentary seem more mockumentary like. The format seems il suited to the secondary and more mysterious context and politics.

    This is very much like that moment in Jaws where the character says - "we're gonna need a bigger boat" but he does recognise this but only in an oblique way.

    This discordant contrast between the jokey tone of the initial story and the wider context makes it hard to know what it is that we have just seen. At times the style is very meta with Mads Brügger ( director & one of the investigators) unsure what to do with all of the revelations.

    I personally hope that some other journalists or investigators follow up on this. If the director gets to film a part 2 I'm up for it.
  • In some ways this film can be seen as an extended victim impact report. It is about Marianne who clearly contributed much to Cohens life on more than one level.

    It also leaves a great deal unsaid and hazy. The assumption is that the cultural moments of the day ( and the copious drugs) have blurred the stories in many many ways. Despite all of that it somehow brings the back story of Marianne and Leonard into focus in a very sweet way towards the end of the film.

    A number of the interviewees are just plain great. Watch out forAviva Layton who seems to be uncredited but she deserves better.

    In many ways this film could have been much better if we had got past the headlines. Archival footage is used but the viewpoint most of the time is very much the male point of view.

    This much thoughtless behaviour seems highly paradoxical. The myth of the unreachable poet seems to have attracted considerable numbers of women to the Cohen fan club. They felt like they were being understood. But seems to me; if that were really true - the story would have turned out quite differently.

    What lifts this film is the redemption towards the end when we see the famous letter from Leonard to Marianne. In his dying moments Leonard recognised the value of his connection with Marianne. Coverage of the 5 or 6 years in a Buddhist monastery definitely hints at a rebalancing of Cohens' personal life and perspectives.

    All in all this is a rather gentle sideways look at a significant relationship but understandably it is overbalanced by the the celebrity aspects of the story.

    Marianne herself is present in the story but mostly in a back handed compliment kind of way.
  • Maybe the best response for an absurdist situation is to reflect back that same puzzlement. I suspect the "p" word puts off many viewers who want to watch a film without too many arguments. The idea that some kind "Buster Keaton persona" could be present at so many bizarre situations without launching an obvious rant of some kind is a tidy conceit.

    Most of the time - that stance works. It does get stretched a bit thin as the locus moves from Nazareth to Paris and New York. Apparently Montreal was a location too but that wasn't obvious. That may have been intentional.

    The film maker appears to be asking us to makes some comparisons between international scenarios and the Palestinian politics. There is very little spoken dialogue in the film itself.

    I liked the music and the general keystone cops sequence in Central Park but some of the other sequences are a bit more cryptic. On the whole the film does a great job of setting expectations and then flipping them for comic effect. Some of that comes across as self parody.

    There are genuinely funny moments. I saw this at a film festival and I was delighted by it. It did make me think some more about the absurdity of the modern media and the milking of outrage rather than the more important discourse that we never quite get to.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This was included in a film festival. It has Juliet Binoche. I've heard of the director before and seen some of her movies before. Usually all reasons to take a chance.

    Unfortunately almost nothing happens in the first hour of the film and then things take a violent but cliched turn. I don't consider rape as entertainment. That is when I walked out. It is a rare thing to walk out of any movie especially a film festival pick but trust me this is a disaster.

    There might be a target audience for people who like watching Robert Pattinson with his shirt off. But you could have painted a smiley face on a rubbish bin and the acting would have been more convincing. The guy is a walking prop not an actor at all.

    It might be that the film miraculously gets better in the last half but I have better things to do like sleeping.

    As for Juliet Binoche I tried to watch "Clouds of Sils Maria" and "Slack Bay" on Netflix and I found them unwatchable too but both of those are miles better than this turkey.
  • Saw this today at a film festival in Auckland. It felt rushed and over stuffed full of trivia. Almost like the makers wanted coverage and balance :) I would have preferred a little more focus on some of the pivotal moments and we did get some of that.

    Clips of Kael being interviewed were some of the best parts and there were also some notable responses by film makers, critics and others.

    I suspect the clips from movies that were used were all very short because of licensing constraints but it would have been better to label the less obvious ones.

    I didn't know the story about Mankiewicz and Citizen Kane. That seemed like one of the great moments and could have been teased out a little more.

    We heard from her daughter and possibly grand daughter? I think the story about the collaboration with Warren Beatty was worth a deeper look but perhaps there were some legal fish hooks there.

    The David Lean clips where he mentions he was devastated by a particular event where she took hime to task was interesting. Again I wonder if there was more to add there.

    On the whole though I came out of the theatre reminded of the many times Kael had made a call on a movie and had by doing so added a little edge to the movie going experience.

    I have enjoyed her writing and will look up some of those essays and reviews now.
  • This self documentary meanders along and focuses on Lynch's art life / history. That would be great if it it came with insights into some of his films which it generally doesn't. If you are interested in painting and art generally then this could be for you.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Rather late to this but glad I finally checked it out. Watched the whole series over a week. Series 1 & 2 are best. In many ways the new Frankie the fixer is still the fixer. He is much smarter than the locals and works out a way to get what he wants despite being supported and staffed by a crew who cause almost more problems than they can solve. Folksy is not stupid but often played that way. A direction mistake in my view.

    I was thinking he is a big fish in a small pond when it was suggested he was a shark. He does start as more of a shark but is disarmed by what we imagine is the folksy charm of Norwegian ways.

    Van Zandt as Johnny / Giovanni / Frank has the most expressive face. At best his expressions carry whole scenes. Although at times you can see he is thinking WTF like when his crew beat up the owner of a green car. Except the car was red and his lead sidekick is colour blind.

    Although there is an extensive core cast most of them don't develop their characters much at all. The character Jan is too much of a parody of correctness so when loses the plot it is no surprise. That character only has one mode in which he thinks he is a slapstick god. He is not. He is so hopeless that we lose any sympathy we have for him as he deteriorates.

    Attitudes to women are not good and although Norwegian society is better than that, those more positive attributes are only played for laughs.

    Johnny is much smarter than the rest of the cast and although this is a kind of mafia series the mob aspects are mostly played for laughs. The mob are shown to be incompetent and stupid. Various protagonists try to better Johnny but they all meet highly unlikely endings.

    Series 3 is not as much fun. I didn't enjoy any of the Brazil episodes and I don't think they added anything really to the plot. If they wanted to get the Alex character to Norway they could have done it much more easily.

    A new mob character who turns up after a failed assassination attempt is clearly much more astute than the other petty criminals but not smart enough to recognise that subtlety is required.

    There are some cameos from Sopranos and Springsteen himself appears briefly. The series is at its best when it is a parody of the mafia relocated to small town Norway. And that face is truely priceless.
  • The format here is quite restrained. Being 40+ mins allows the subject some rambling time if they find a particularly interesting topic.

    I started with the musicians and comedians episodes as I know more about them than the actors for the most part. Sam Jones has an easy questioning style although just occasionally I wish he'd probe a bit more.

    The episodes look like they are filmed in one take and some of them might be especially with the bigger "names". It would be good to know if that is the case. I liked Aimee Mann sending herself up in that Portlandia episode and this is similar in tone.

    Watching some of the other episodes now and particularly liked the Judd Apatow, Sarah Silverman, Jackson Browne and Matt Damon ones.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    There is a clever story in this film but it takes so long to be revealed it becomes an anticlimax. A bank president has done bad things and keeps the evidence in a safety deposit box.

    There is an awful lot of planning going on to make it look like the equivalent of a postmodernist bank robbery.

    The problem is no one can connect with the hostages or the robbers because they are wearing masks over their faces most of the time. The police lead investigator thinks he is in a stand up competition looking for more comedy bits for next set.

    In a word the whole event is kind of anonymous with very little to connect to so when the story progresses we just don't care.
  • These four episodes are more like meditations on a particular theme. In this episode Pollan explores bread making and other food culture history.

    I read Pollans' book 'The Omnivores Dilemma' back in 2006 which contained some of the research on theses topics. For regular readers who interpret the content based against the food choices they already have the possibility of being more informed is a good one.

    We live in a fast food culture and given how much of what we eat contributes to our health - or not; any exploration of food choices is a good one. I personally enjoyed all of the 4 shows in the series.

    This series was filmed in 2015 and it seems like some of the thinking from the earlier books has been more measured and is delivered at an easy pace. Having Alex Gibney on the team no doubt helps that.
  • Into the Badlands is a like gloriously silly musical where martial arts choreography takes the place of music. The designers have an eye for some great vertical shots and colours. We are told (somewhere) the motorcycle Sunny rides is steam punk but instead of a close up of the bike we get shoe cam and martial arts cam.

    Later in the first episode Sunny gets attacked by a troupe of bowler hat wearing dancers with swords. Of course; they once saw Clockwork Orange and wanted to fit in a homage.

    No actors were harmed in the making of this series. The best or is it the worst actor ever to come out of Invercargill gets to read out loopy Southern speeches and be the villain. If pouting was the same as acting he is a clear winner.

    The best character called the widow gets great costumes and to do martial arts while wearing high heels and later boots with wedge soles. A glorious blur but that is probably in the second episode.

    Still this looks to be a series where the Crouching tiger team get all the air time and those scenes are beautiful. Loving the costumes . In some ways this is a series that could be watched with the sound off and sped up a bit so it is wall to wall martial arts. Very silly but a great deal of fun. P.S Costume designer is Christine Bieselin Clark. Wonderful.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    If you've ever been to a movie where you wanted to see what was going on and there were two really annoying clowns in front of you who insisted on not just talking over the entire event but in doing so while pretending to be other people - this is what happens.

    It very much looked like the two lead characters wanted a way for someone else to pay for their road trip around Italy including food and accomodation and decided a mockumentary travel film would achieve that. Despite their almost complete indifference to the food and some amazing scenery the parts of Italy that we see still looks great. I had hoped there might be actual story in there but sadly not.

    The only target market for this film would be people who think doing voice impressions of actual famous actors is a good thing. The only sane way to watch this would be with the sound off.
  • In the first part of the movie when the Portuguese woman is tackled by the teacher character I felt that thud. What happened next is an anti climax. Instead of a conversation about what was happening we got a kind of non-physical shrug and some vague agreement that the woman will go with the teacher back to his place of work.

    The movie is about pivotal moments and about what might have been. It is about memories and places and while there is physical travel it is more about about experience and the alternate possibilities that draw us into the story.

    I did like the sense of revelation that the teacher - Raimund was on a journey to get in touch with part of himself. At various times he seems oblivious to his context and other times quite the artful observer but only second hand through the eyes of the poet whose life he is researching. That poet was a bit of a philosopher which resonates with our Professor / teacher character.

    There is a key moment early on his trip to Portugal where a cyclist collides with him and breaks the lens in his glasses. This is a very clunky metaphor to show us the character quite literally seeing events in a new way. His new glasses will take some getting used to says the Portuguese woman who is also an optometrist - a doctor of sorts.

    The parallel story of the professor and the optometrist is somewhat muted but it does counter balance the historical back story which is revealed to us through the memories of various characters using flashback sequences.

    What works well in the movie is a series of cameos from older actors. The philosophical tone of the book is also perceptive. The way we notice the multiple levels or layers in the story is also gentle and unforced.

    What doesn't work so well is way everyone speaks English when Portuguese and subtitles would have been a better choice. I'm not sure if Jeremy Irons is supposed to be Swiss or English but he does appear to speak Spanish and Portuguese as a professor of languages would. It is just I can't remember the last time I saw Irons in a film and he always seems to be very English so maybe a less typecast actor would have been better in that role.

    As a series of reflective observations on life and how some moments can bring big changes I enjoyed this somewhat oblique story.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Suburra the Series returns a couple of key actors from the film this is based on. I watched the film first with English sub titles and then I saw the series dubbed into English. For some reason I couldn't find the combination to hear each episode in Italian with English subtitles which I would have preferred. I did notice that the English subtitles and dubbing did not match which seems odd. Note: I found out how to change the audio to Italian which improved the presentation. There appears to be two Italian versions - one of which adds narration.

    The series itself is melodrama and shows the consequences of a few evil actions spreading out and linking the characters in ways that get revealed later on. It is a bit like watching a spider weave a web. Even when you guess at a story-line it is hard to stop watching.

    Much of the story concerns the fellow travelers - 20 something blokes. I expect the target market is therefore 20 something young blokes. So no surprises that they are quite clueless and misdirected. In fact several times early on I wondered why they don't talk to each other about what is going on and then I remembered being 20 something and also somewhat clueless.

    The acting is a bit like watching 2 or 3 character chasing each other around a giant trampoline. Sometimes it is so bad that it is good but I found myself wishing for a bit more self awareness and insight.

    The actor who plays Aureliano does this particular stance where his eyes bulge out of their sockets. The defining characteristic of the Spadino character is his smirk. Also that Spadino is gay is not a surprise but seems to be played that way.

    I'm not sure what that means but it is a bit disconcerting. Possibly he is reacting to the script and saying something like "you want me to say what?" Like the other lead actors he is incredulous at the script which is very predictable. A hint. Pretty much everyone is shafting the others while pretending to work together. The series is compelling in the same way that watching a train smash is compelling. While there is movement it is hard to look away.

    If the series survives and gets more funding perhaps the lead characters will get better if they don't kill each other first.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Every action has consequences. Unintended or otherwise. Just when you don't think it can get any darker someone goes over the edge and commits an act that at first looks like the end of a story.

    Of course most of the time those acts are just links in a chain of never ending violence and far reaching consequences. The main feeling you get while watching this film is one of being being sucked down by a giant whirlpool of corruption and crime.

    There is so much rain it looks like a monsoon. That it (the story) ends in a waterlogged courtyard is fitting. For some reason most of the outside scenes of Rome take place in rain at night. Whether that is a metaphor or not it fits the tone.

    Dark on dark - but then again maybe the water will wash everything away.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is the funniest episode ever of Californication. Hank looks to be heading for triple trouble when his student arrives with two fellow strippers.

    He manages to resist temptation but then his teaching assistant arrives and then later the professor who all want a piece of him.

    Somehow even though it sounds farcical in a kind of baseball joke - who is on one, who is on two, who is on three Hank makes a home run and survives all the attention.

    Anyone of these women would be fun but to have them all in the same place at the same time is outrageous. Luckily they are in different rooms but that just adds to the fun.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The original Blade Runner movie was slow moving, a bit clunky in parts and the acting was wooden. But then again that is what we expect of replicants. The set design and special effects were stupendous. Attention to detail right in the original Deckard flat which used designs from Frank Lloyd Wright were appreciated by many. Of all the story elements in the first movie the one that didn't make much sense was the romantic one. Sure Deckard made a connection with the replicant Rachel but by modern standards his encounter looks more like a rape than a romance.

    Fast forward to the 2017 version. The new team have successfully captured the tone and the look of the previous film. They even got a musician who can match the style although I kept looking around for a train or some other traffic at various times due to the extra "horn" sounds. Not sure what they were but they didn't add anything to the film. I believe it was something called a Shepard tone which is an unneeded gimmick.

    Tyrell is gone and replaced with some weirdo called Wallace who appears to be blind. He appeared to kill a new "replicant" for no reason other than to look creepy. His sidekick is a kind of anti-Rachel replicant who has her own mission. I don't think we even learned her name which is a bit disturbing if anyone was hoping that a strong female part meant something. Apparently her name is Luv which must be ironic.

    What is less ironic is that the very core of the movie hints at something only a woman can do but for the whole movie we see events from the "male gaze" and none of the women are treated as anything more than slaves. The politics of the replicants and humans is part of the narrative but there is no self awareness here at all.

    K the blade runner who is the central character appears to be having some kind of identity crisis but since he doesn't feel pain it is hard to tell. I was confused as to why a replicant has a holographic girlfriend but maybe that is part of the general confusion over identity.

    However it is problematic that so far the only human we get any airtime with is a police woman who does make a grand speech about the significant of a particular plot element. That speech is more coherent than most of the talk in the film.

    I understand the use of a MacGuffin. I'm not sure it is necessary to have the MacGuffin get so much screen time but it is the Deckard character. The whole wander around a deserted casino seems like it was cribbed straight from another '80's movie called Cherry 2000 which featured similar subject matter.

    Apparently this is what happens to Las Vegas and the giant statues of women that we see toppled over leads one to think for a moment that perhaps they worshipped women in some kind of long gone world. The film makers could have done something with that but it is clear that the statues were just props like women are in the rest of the film.

    After the baddies find Deckard and K the plot lines get thoroughly scrambled. It might also be because that would have been about 2.5hrs into the story. There is an attempt to wrap up some loose ends but in my opinion by then I'd had enough.

    There is an action sequence near the end featuring 3 replicants with no real emotional heft which adds to the confusion. It felt like an attempt to rescue the story.

    Ironically Roy in the first Blade Runner movie was much easier to make some kind of emotional connection with. Sure he was extreme but he wanted to live and he offered up a range of emotions.

    The characters K, Deckard, Luv and Wallace were hard to identify with. Maybe that is the price of mistaking an idea for an actual living thing. It very much seems to me that what we have is a replica of a movie. Something that could have happened in a holo deck but hard to take seriously otherwise.

    I really wanted to like it and perhaps if one was to edit out 30 or so minutes it would be much better.
  • I had high hopes for this after recommendations from friends. However in just the first 10 minutes it becomes clear that this is a 10 minute joke padded out with filler.

    What is tricky though is the whole tone is cringe worthy and so you persist hoping it will get better. It doesn't.

    We know the character and there is no point to rehashing that but that happens. The whole thing reeks of self sabotage. Is Gervais trying to kill the character.

    We don't know and after a while we just don't care. Save your time and watch something else. The Office was great this is just terrible. Unfortunately it is not bad enough to be good.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This very much seemed like a whole movie worth of background filler setting up the back story for a real movie sometime later on. Like an endless trailer.

    The very best thing about it was the soundtrack. Just imagine the sound of music on fast forward with better music but only props instead of actors and that would describe most of it.

    There is a bizarre subplot involving the Joker which should have been left out as it just made the movie longer and it is already the longest trailer in history.

    The character of Amanda Waller is so bad she makes the other characters look positively heroic. And yes I was surprised when she popped up at the end of the film showing us that the whole thing was just a trailer for another film.

    The only reason I am giving this a 3 instead of a 2 is the soundtrack and Will Smith. That man can make pure corn dialogue sound meaningful and he is the only actor who surpassed the limitations of the writing.

    For an example of this genre that raises the bar go see Deadpool. Somehow that film transforms its comic book universe into something that is entertaining. Suicide Squad does not.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The director was faced with a problem when the subject of his initial movie died part way through filming.

    His subject - the volunteer caretaker of the palace of Carditello spends years cleaning up rubbish on that site. We watch him do some of this but there is no real interaction until he rescues a male buffalo calf who has been left to die.

    The story then switches narrators and it is the calf who takes over the story. There is some weird setup involving a mythical Pulcinella character which is used as the bridging story to switch timelines.

    I saw this in a festival because it was Italian and it sounded like it would be unusual. Perhaps those familiar with Italian culture would understand more about the Pulcinella character who seems to regain his soul later in the movie although I couldn't be sure.

    There are some great ideas here. If I had been the editor I would have dropped most of the caretaker sequence as that raises more questions than it answers and the film should have been much shorter.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I have been a film fan for 40+ years now. There are very few films that shock me as much as this one. I have no doubt the director is trying to be provocative but in my opinion he has crossed too many lines. I gave this film a 1 but only because I can't give it a zero.

    Isabelle Huppert in the lead performs what is like a 1 woman show. We never really feel like we know her. She has two standard expressions which she uses a lot in this movie. The first one is a kind of puzzled glance and the second is when she is answering her dammed phone again. Actually the phone should get its own credit as the second most active character.

    She even manages to shock a room full of bro gamers with her games direction at one point. The director can argue it is all satire but I think he is wrong.

    I saw this at a film festival and while festivals take chances I thought this was really a chance too far. I would have liked some trigger warnings. As it was I didn't manage to watch the full movie which is 2 hrs 10 minutes. It may be that the last 15 mins of the movie makes up for some of the earlier scenes but I don't think they could.

    What the synopsis refers to as "attacked in her home" is a brutal rape by a man in a ski mask. That was when I first wanted to walk out on the film. That is replayed and repeated later on and echoed in a disturbing animation.

    There are a few moments of very black, dark humour but not enough to make this film watchable. I couldn't stop shaking for an hour after seeing this. Rape is not something that should be used to entertain audiences in my view. I am profoundly disappointed that this film is getting any attention.

    Later I found out the director had trouble getting a U.S actor to play the lead role. No doubt their agents all advised them that this film is borderline hate crime in the making and they should stay away.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I saw this at a film festival where it was very well received by an English speaking audience. As one of the lead characters talks almost non-stop and very fast I suspect the overall audience impact might be higher on Italian speakers.

    Certainly it is hard to keep up with the sub-titles at times. At the psychiatric care facility where the women live the daily cycle seems to be predictably noisy but largely routine until the two lead characters catch a bus away from their "work in the community" jobs at a nursery.

    Their usual transport is late and by catching a regular bus to the local shopping centre a series of escapades start snowballing around them. The "Beatrice" character is off her meds and seems to be having a manic blowout that leads her from one precarious situation to the next.

    The other character "Donatella" seems quite sober and somewhat surprised by their unauthorised leave of absence. As events unfold we learn more of both characters back story.

    Some sequences seem to be too coincidental to be true but most of the time the snowball of events keeps moving towards some moments of truth for each of the characters.

    Given that the film subject matter includes characters who are seen as crazy or mad by the system it is a real challenge to portray something of what that might be like from the centre of the storm - as it were.

    Mostly though the juxtapositions work and we learn something about friendships and maybe a few insights along the way.
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