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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Oscars 2012

Another year, another Academy Awards, with everything that means: an overall show that I enjoy far, far more than I probably should, wins that I agree with, wins that I don't, boring acceptance speeches, great acceptance speeches and a boatload of extra bits and bobs that are technically filler but are usually rather enjoyable. And, for the 9th time, Billy Crystal proving once again that no one is a better fit for the show than him. 

Onto some thoughts about a few of the actual winners and losers - to say nothing of the not-even-nominated.

Best Supporting Actress

Possibly the most clear cut of all categories. Octavia Spencer fully deserved her win - though oddly enough, the second best of those nominated is her co-star in The Help, Jessica Chastain. Nice, heartfelt speech too.

Friday, February 24, 2012

This Means War

Chris Pine! Tom Hardy! Reese Witherspoon! Total Bollocks!

Also at Channel24 

What it's about

Two secret agents and best friends find that they're both dating the same woman.

What we thought

If there is one criticism hurled at critics time and time again is that they're out of step with the “general public” in that they spend so much time analysing a film that they are unable to sit back and simply take it for what it is. Without getting to the validity – or severe lack thereof – of this argument, it usually comes up either on the release of a new “art film”, in which case the critic is accused of a pretentious need to look smarter than the “average” film goer, or on the release of big-budget blockbusters, in which case the critic is accused of over-analysing what is supposed to be nothing more than a couple of hours of brainless entertainment.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Movie rundown of 2012: Redux

So, here we go again. After falling way behind on reviews not written for Channel24, here are very snappy reviews (usually) of a whole load of movies. Some great, some less so. On with the show then!

The Descendants: I'm clearly not doing this in any order so we might as well start off with one of the best films released so far this year. It might be too quiet and uneventful for some movie goers but I thought that was part of the charm of a film that is as touching as it is funny and one that will stay with you long after you leave the cinema. Clooney is always a great screen presence but this may well be his best role yet but relative newcomer Shailene Woodley  threatens to steal the whole film from under him. He may not be prolific but The Descendants is just further proof that Alexander Payne is one of America's greatest filmmakers. (10/10)

The Skin I Live In: This is sure to go down as one of the year's strangest films but it is also undoubtedly one of its most compelling. Almadovar is a director that I'm still very much getting caught up on - the dude has a huge filmography - but even by his standards, this seems to be pretty out there. Elana Ayana is superb and Antonio Banderas might just have delivered the performance of his career. Don't ask me to tell you what it's about though - half the fun of the film is having the rug pulled from under you every 10 minutes. (9/10)

Sunday, February 19, 2012


Coming soon hopefully are roundups of the last month's worth of films that I haven't mentioned yet and a look at the upcoming Oscars. For now though, here's a pretty interesting superhero film that, much to my utter obliviousness at the time of writing, was directed by a South African director and largely shot in Cape Town. Who knew?

Also at Channel24 

What it's about

After discovering a mysterious artifact, three high schoolers gain super powers but it's not long before they find their lives spiraling out of control as they try to come to terms with their new found telekinetic abilities.

What we thought

Chronicle, the latest cinematic deconstruction of the superhero may strike those who are new to the genre as a true original, but for those of us weened on comics over the last quarter century – or avid film-goers who have already sat through Kick Ass, Watchmen, The Incredibles, Defendor, Super and Mystery Men - could tell you, there is nothing new or inventive about turning the superhero on its head.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Hugo (3D)

I know I still have a number of films to get to and I will hopefully have at least some bite-sized reviews of the films that I have not yet reviewed for the site that have come out over the past few weeks. For now though, here's my review of the film that I hope wins Best Picture at this year's Academy Awards.

Also at Channel24 in edited, less rambling form

What it's about

A young boy living in a train station in 1930s Paris finds himself involved in a mystery surrounding an automaton that is the final remaining possession of his late father.

What we thought

Since the late 1960s, Martin Scorsese has remained one of America's greatest filmmakers who, aside for being remarkably prolific, has released a good dozen or so films that represent the very pinnacle of cinema as an artform. He may have had his ups and downs, but no one would dare suggest that Scorsese hasn't by now, in a year when he is to celebrate his 70th birthday, earned both his place in history and the right to rest on his laurels and allow his spectacular body of work to speak for itself. Instead, he has released Hugo, a film that may not be as influential as his best known pieces but, for my money at least, is every bit as good as anything he has ever done.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Jack and Jill

I really don't have the words to describe just how bad this film is. Well, OK, that's clearly not entirely true...

Also at Channel24 in edited, toned-down form.

What it's about

Jack Sadelstein, a successful family man, has his life invaded by his needy and obnoxious sister whose annual Thanksgiving visit threatens to last for months.

What we thought

That Jack and Jill is a truly rotten, irredeemably crap and absolutely laugh-free really shouldn't be much of a surprise. This is Adam Sandler we're talking about, after all. Sandler is the sort of comedian whose best work is in dramas and whose most tolerable comedies are written entirely by other people. This is also the same Adam Sandler who just in the last year alone gave us the insipid rom-com, Just Go With It; the unbelievably idiotic Zookeeper and, let us not forget, the literally unreleasable Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star. And yet, for all of this and for all that Jack and Jill not only features Adam Sandler but Adam Sandler in drag as his own sister, I was still stupefied by just how screechingly awful his latest crime against cinema turned out to be.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Man on a Ledge

The one film being released this week that I really want to see is the one film whose screening I missed but hopefully I'll have a review up for The Descendants soon. For now there is... some other stuff.

Also at Channel24

What it's about:
After being falsely imprisoned for stealing a diamond, an ex-cop-turned-fugitive threatens to jump to his death from the top floor of a Manhattan hotel. As a disgraced hostage negotiator tries to talk him down, it quickly becomes obvious that things are a lot more complicated than they may first have appeared – especially when they realise that the hotel is across the street from the heavily-fortified bank, in which the diamond's original owner stores his most valuable possessions. 

What we thought:

If last year's Tower Heist was a heist film dressed as a comedy about the evils of capitalism thenMan On a Ledge is a heist film disguised as a drama about a wrongly convicted man trying to prove his innocence. Except, of course, that once you get past the first half hour, Man On a Ledge quickly proves to be every bit as silly and fatuous as Stiller's breezy caper – only decidedly less witty and entertaining. It's certainly enjoyable enough on its own terms but, fittingly enough, Man On a Ledge struggles to maintain a foothold on the tightrope it walks between competence and mediocrity, even as it veers wildly in tone between serious drama and daft thriller.