Tuesday, 12 April 2016
On the last day of school in 1976 a young teenager in Texas is initiated into the Rock 'n' roll ecosystem of high school.
Four years later in 1980 a college freshman knocks on the door of a new world as he meets his college baseball team.
The former film is Dazed and Confused, my favorite film of all time. The latter film is Richard Linklater's new joint, Everybody Wants Some!!, the semi-autobiographical and spiritual sequel to Dazed and Confused (both films are named after songs obvs). It picks up where Mitch Kramer likely would've ended up at the end of high school in summer 1980; going to college to play baseball. Our lead character in this giant ensemble is the quiet and perceptive freshman, Jake (Blake Jenner).
Friday, 8 April 2016
Nasty Baby is a child that is, at first, difficult to love. More of a sneered snapshot of self-entitled NY hipster life than a rounded story, the film is driven by deliberately unlikeable characters; one-dimensional personalities who care for little other than themselves. A loose construct with handheld camera and improvised dialogue highlight their seemingly easy lives, and one feels one is watching really nothing very much at all, particularly given the muted tone to the film’s palette. Yet, there are layers to this social satire, and the insidious effect of central character Freddy’s (writer-director Sebastián Silva) brazen narcissism in the opening scene unexpectedly draws you in to observe more complex matters of class division, prejudice, and homophobia.
Sunday, 3 April 2016
While a mega studio blockbuster inhabited every cinema this past weekend a film of complete opposite DNA made itself quietly known. Krisha is Trey Edward Shults' debut feature and immediately signals the arrival of a distinct new artist. It's the story of Krisha, a woman who returns home for Thanksgiving to the family she once abandoned. She's played by Krisha Fairchild, Shults’ real life aunt and the story is based loosely on the family’s real life experience with a relative who was an addict.
Sunday, 27 March 2016
For a comedic actress and writer as prolific as Tina Fey it's sort of shocking that she's never starred in a smash hit film. Her commitments to television are a big reason for this, but someone as funny as her should've been given the keys to a comedy franchise at this point. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot marks a slight shift on Fey's film resume. Directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa plant Fey's comic sensibility in a journalistic war film that's a tonal balancing act jumping through different genres.
Fey is Kim Baker, a nowhere USA news producer in 2004 whose luck changes when a foreign correspondent position opens up in Afghanistan. Her arrival in the battleground looks like a deleted scene from Zero Dark Thirty and then a local calls her a “shameless whore”, which is Whiskey Tango Foxtrot's tonal balance in a nutshell. It's a mid life crisis rom com set in a war zone but with western comedic convention and the little tension found in it's harsh location is overwhelmed by gags.
Friday, 25 March 2016
Zootropolis (or Zootopia in the US) is the newest film from the Disney production line, directed by the trio of Byron Howard, Rich Moore and Jared Bush. The simple plot surrounds Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin), a police officer in Zootopia working a case with rogue fox Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman), when it turns out to be more than just a standard missing person report. Yet the element that’s ‘exciting’ people the most is how the film supposedly deals with racism and teaches children to be good people and not judge them by who they are or what they look like. I guess there’s no better time than this to get into it, but I think the film fails completely.
Saturday, 19 March 2016
Adapted by John Donnelly from his critically acclaimed play, and directed by Ben A Williams, The Pass opened the 30th London LGBT Film Festival (FLARE) this year. The Pass is first and foremost a brilliant Russell Tovey vehicle. For those unfamiliar with the play, it tells the story of a closeted football player Jason (Tovey), in an episodic narrative which spans 10 years of his turbulent life. The story takes place mostly indoors and is told in a three acts structure, separated by five years in between each act. Bar the last act, it is mostly a two hander.
Thursday, 17 March 2016
The landscapes of South Dakota. The magic hour on the Texas prairie. The all-powerful nature of Guadalcanal. The strange beauty of a new world. The cosmos staring back at a family. The drifting of romance among the terrain. Now Malick brings us to the modern world of Hollywood as his quiet screenwriter Rick (Christian Bale) wanders through studio back lots, parties, strip clubs, and fancy smancy houses.
If you're somehow unfamiliar with the work of Terrence Malick then I suggest working your way through his filmography before diving into this modern motion poem of the Hollywood dream factory. Slowly Malick has been fine-tuning his art and for better or worse, has stripped away common elements of narrative film. His last two works, and this one, are not narratives but rather personal memories from Malick himself that he's recreated in evocative images and whispers of dialogue. The Tree of Life (2011) has grown in my mind to be a flawed masterpiece and works as a bridge from his earlier more narrative driven films and his new abstract quandaries. Where To the Wonder (2013) felt like an experimental seed planted by The Tree of Life, this film has roots and begins to grow branches of profundities.