Tomb Raider

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: MTombraider

Directed by:  Roar Uthaug

Produced by:   Graham King

Story by:      Evan Daugherty

Written by:   Geneva Robertson-Dworet, Alastair Siddons

Costume Designer:    Colleen Atwood, Timothy A. Wonsik

Starring: Alicia Vikander, Dominic West, Kristin Scott Thomas, Daniel Wu.

The high voltage, energy tone of this movie is reimagined, tight, exhilarating and relatable.

Strange Days, Tomb Raider starring Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft opens with a hipster living, street smart, 21-year-old, bike courier.

Lara is a gutsy, vulnerable lead female action hero who delivers food and races the trendy high-octane streets of East London, kick boxing in her spare time and barely able to afford the rent.

This Lara lives in a tiny flat, stubbornly refusing the extraordinary wealth of her Croft inheritance with its English Manor and millions and millions of pounds.

But her fierce independence is just a mask, a mask to hide her vulnerability and pain. For to accept her inheritance, she would have to accept the death of her father, Richard (played by Dominic West), an eccentric global adventurer, who disappeared several years earlier.

The plot takes a fantastic turn when Lara is handed a puzzle box, just as she is poised to sign documents – under the watchful mother-hen one eye gaze of her Aunt Ana (played by Kristin Scott Thomas)- and acknowledge the official end of her father’s life.

Lara’s hands intuitively click open the puzzle, revealing a clue to her father’s fate – she is after all a Croft – and plummeting with her we dive into the unknown of an epic adventure to a fabled unchartered island, somewhere off the coast of Japan. On this island, a mythical 2000-year-old tomb, enshrouds a demonic Queen and a curse that will somehow wipe out mankind. A curse nobody wants to be near, but just like Pandora’s box, the curse is a rare commodity and is super attractive to those who wish to weaponize it.

Right from the start, the action is relentless and exhilarating.

In one of my favourite scenes, a hipster cycling pack – contemporary and diverse – there are no monochromatic, fluoro adverse sensible-lycra-clad-boys-club here – you swerve and fend from your seat, as the pack hunts its prey, upending the café strewn streets of East London. The thrill of the chase is urban, raw and real. I loved it.

The globe-trotting scenes are exotic and taut with tension. From London, to Junket leaping in Hong Kong, to an Island – somewhere off the coast of Japan – resplendent with a mummy’s tomb and even a WWII bomber carcase perched life-threateningly over impossibly high waterfalls.

Since 1996, Lara Croft as a lead female action figure has dominated pop culture and yes, I would love, along with thousands of other pop culture fans, love my avatar to have her skill set and physicality.

This is a new Lara Croft and following on from the success of Angelina Jolie as Lara, Alicia successfully claims her space, as Lara Croft, Tomb Raider.

Angeline Jolie as Lara has her Butler, her team, her robots to spar and train with and Croft Manor to train in. Angelina has been a Tomb Raider for a while and knows what to expect in a crypt or tomb.

Alicia as Lara is a mere fledgling, more ordinary person about to lead an extraordinary life – and so she captures us with her urban, girl-next-door accessibility, except for the fact that even when she’s smothered in pounds of 2000-year-old crypt dust she’s going to look like the statuesque kick ass action hero that she is.

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Pacific Rim Uprising

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: MPacific Rim Uprising

Directed by: Steven S. DeKnight

Screenplay by: Emily Carmichael & Kira Snyder and

Steven S. DeKnight and T.S. Nowlin

Story by: Steven S. DeKnight and T.S. Nowlin

Based on the Characters Created by: Travis Beacham

Produced by: Guillermo del Toro, Thomas Tull, Mary Parent, Jon Jashni,

Cale Boyter, John Boyega, Femi Oguns

Executive Producer: Eric McLeod

Cast: John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, Jing Tian, Cailee Spaeny, Rinko Kikuchi, Burn Gorman, Adria Arjona and Charlie Day. 

Pacific Rim Uprising is a visual immersive, escapist, global battle feast, packed full of 3D epic, mecha anime like, larger than Godzilla sized, Jaegar, super robots.

Piloted from within the skull of each Jaegar are a new generation of Jaegar pilots – who run like hamsters on a wheel, driving the Jaegars onwards to save our planet from even more gigantic, acid bleeding aliens, the monstrous ‘Kaiju.’

DeKnight may have had a focus group that picked out the best parts of action movies and married them together for Pacific Rim Uprising.

Armed with my 3D glasses and having never seen the prequel, I was captivated and transported.

The movie opens into a dystopian wasteland in Santa Monica – post-apocalyptic and peaceful – there is no Mad Max blood and guts here.

10 years after Pacific Rim, survival on the street in a post-apocalyptic world is for those with street smarts and Jake a once infamous soldier, our ambivalent hero, played by John Boyega (Star Wars: The Force Awakens), chooses not to pay rent for the safety of a gated community but fend for himself in the ruins of a mansion on the outside.

Sure, his mansion comes with the gigantic carcass of a beast flattening his entire neighbourhood and he must steal Jaegar parts to supply an illegal Cyborg building trade: so long as he keeps away from the law or trading for what matters most-right-now, like handing over his luxury key cars for a bottle of tomato sauce.

When Jake is arrested for his criminal behaviour he is offered a lighter sentence, to man-up and resume his post at the Jaegar Academy, alongside Pilot Lambert(Scott Eastwood), he must train new Jaegar pilots to vanquish the Kaiju.

The characters are funny, likable and culturally diverse.

The Chinese characters are well drawn and the Mandarin spoken is substantial without feeling tokenistic.

DeKnight has drawn successfully upon influences from the 1986 movie Aliens, apparent in his settings, cast and monsters.

Aliens (1986) remains one of my top 10 movies of all time.

In the opening scenes, Jake uses a tracking device to locate illegal hardware – the tracking device has the same size, sound and movement sensitivity as that used in Aliens.

As Jake salvages, illegal Jaeger parts the spine like catacomb of machinery tunnels is reminiscent of the 1986 Alien nest.

An interior lift behind Liwen Shao(Jing Tian) at her headquarters is identical to the giant spinal cord of the 1986 Aliens.

The Kaiju bleed acid as do the aliens in Alien.

And of course, the name Newt, given here to Newton Geizler (Charlie Day) the name of the little girl, Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) saves in Aliens.

Even Dr. Hermann Gottlieb (Burn Gorman) as the traditional obsessed scientist is not unlike the obsessed scientist Bishop of Aliens.

DeKnight transforms recognizable cityscapes into battlegrounds and engages a global audience. The Jaegar’s enormous size, unforgettable as they dwarf the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge.

As the skyscrapers of Tokyo are cleaved to shreds in a city-destroying battle scene, DeKnight magnifies the towering scale of his robots ensuring their hulk-like ground punches reverberate as a shadow presence throughout, making this a great movie experience.

The Mercy

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: MThe Mercy

Directed by: James Marsh

Written / Produced by: Scott Z Burns

Produced by:  Scott Z Burns, Graham Broadbent, Jacques Perrin, Nicolas Mauvernay

Cinematographer: Eric Gautier

Starring: Colin Firth, Rachel Weisz, David Thewlis, Ken Stott, Jonathan Bailey.

Following his Academy Award® winning film, The Theory of Everything, James Marsh directs The Mercy, the true story of Donald Crowhurst (Colin Firth) an ordinary amateur sailor, who one day decides to do something extraordinary with his life and compete in the 1968 Sunday Times Golden Globe Race.

The premise of Crowhurst’s story played by Colin Firth and co-starring Rachel Weisz is compelling, packed to the rafters with the intrigue and plot twists of a fantastic and unforgettable story – “I am going because I would have no peace if I stayed.” — Donald Crowhurst.

The story of an amateur sailor in 1968, who one day – not unlike any other day, in his very normal life – decides to compete in the Sunday Times Golden Globe Yacht Race. Unlike any other yacht race, this is a yacht race to single handedly circumnavigate the entire globe without stopping, a race Crowhurst knows he is ill equipped to compete in, a race, he knows, he has no hope of finishing.

In order to save his family, their home and his dignity, he decides to cheat and lies to the world of his speedy and highly skilled progress.

However, my attention span and the downfall of Crowhurst’s quest, hopes and pursuit unravel from the onset.

Crowhurst sets off – on his impressive but unfinished trimaran yacht, the Teignmouth Electron. Behind him on the jetty he leaves his beautiful wife Clare (Rachel Weisz) their adoring children, and some – but not all –  crucial boat supplies and navigational instruments at their feet. After all we need some hope that this mild-mannered amateur may pull off a heroic feat and sail around the world buoyed on by our mighty hopes and dreams encased in a bobbing vessel that probably will not make it.

The story’s premise is great, the stuff of epic battles, think David and Goliath, frail man pitted against the wraths of nature and the might of the gods, surging imploding, cinema worthy oceans and death defying odds. But nowhere in this disjointed, paint-drying-slow action line, where scenes do not foreshadow or tighten the tension available in the raw and compelling truth of such a story, does this movie rise to its potential.

I crossed and uncrossed my legs throughout The Mercy, searching for the transported comfort and magical details of a story well told.

Director James Marsh and Screenwriter Scott Z Burns had no shortage of detailed research facts available, well documented in Crowhurst’s own diary entries and log entries, but this movie lacked vital details that would have made the storyline more cohesive, final draft worthy and movie screen ready.

Early in my writing career my writing mentor told me ‘you know your story but it is not translating onto paper or more importantly to your audience and that is what I believe, unfortunately, The Mercy suffers here.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: MA+THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI

Written and Directed by: Martin McDonagh

Produced by: Graham Broadbent, Peter Czernin, Martin McDonagh

Executive Producers: Bergen Swanson, Diarmuid McKeown, Rose Garnett, David
Kosse, Daniel Battsek

Starring: Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Abbie Cornish, Peter
Dinklage, Lucas Hedges, John Hawkes, Caleb Landry Jones, Sandy Martin.

Not since 1986 have I applauded out loud, in a packed cinema, for a movie that blew me away with the dynamic force of its female lead and its nuanced emotional and moral rollercoaster, of great cinematic story.

Eight years ago, English/Irish, playwright/filmmaker, Martin McDonagh, wrote Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri in one single draft.  A third film after the slow burning cult success of, In Bruges and the darkly twisted, Seven Psychopaths.

The narrative tightrope of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is taut and confronting, pathos rich, in equal parts both tragic and hilariously funny.

Within ten minutes you will think you have sized up all the characters but you will be completely unprepared for what McDonagh does next.

The story opens with Mildred (Frances McDormand) her terrible grief has no tears left as she stands beneath three newly pasted billboards, billboards she has hired, billboards that witnessed the rape, murder and torching of her teenage daughter Angela, seven months earlier.

Since then there have been no arrests and the local police department have no leads.

Unable to accept the paralysis of her grief and fueled by fury, Mildred embodies the fight or die quality of a lone cowboy making a last stand against the local police and emblazons what must be the largest victim of violence impact statement and directs its lethal force at the town’s much loved, Chief of Police, Chief Willoughby (Woody Harrelson).

Raped while dying
And still no arrests?
How come Chief Willoughby?

There is no word for the place that Mildred is left in the English language as the parent of a dead child.

When a child loses a parent, they are an orphan. When a parent loses a child, there is no word.

Mildred’s relentless rage, blows apart the small town, minding-everyone’s-business, complicit charm of Ebbing, Missouri.

When shooting Three Billboards, McDormand to intensify the combative fury and isolation she would bring to the screen and her fellow cast, McDormand kept herself isolated, only seeing the cast at shooting.

And it worked.

McDormand is simply outstanding in this role. Simply dressed in one commando-like-overall with barely no facial expression, her seething and impact are latent and volatile and you just know that her lethal cocktail of fury, grief and a sense that justice has not been served, will suffer no prisoners.

In a quote worthy scene, Mildred strides into the Police Station – her town popularity at the bottom of the heap, oblivious to a herd of police mulling about, she calls out to Officer Dixon (Sam Rockwell) – a cop we’ve already sized up as the worst kind – a cop that is racist, stupid and armed.

‘Hey fuckhead!’ says Mildred.
‘What?’ says Dixon.
‘Don’t say what, Dixon, when she comes in calling you fuckhead’ says a Policeman.

McDonagh’s script is peppered, rich with racial taboos, social taboos, humanity. His characters, dark in pathos, humour and humanity. As a master storyteller, McDonagh’s skill is in serving up humour as a cathartic release after scenes heavy in tragic sadness.

Dixon tells Mildred, they don’t do “n– — r torturing” no more but “persons-of- color torturing”.

In a packed cinema we gasp together, in horror at Dixon’s racism and in a packed cinema, we laugh out loud, together at his stupidity.

The power of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is in its straightforward truths.

There are no ambiguous wonderings. We are served a plate full of raw humanity and we love it. We recognize the truth of our shared humanity, all our shades of despair, rage, tragedy and ultimately our ability to use humour from that dark place to release tenderness, hope and redemption.

Faces Places (Visages Villages)

GoMovieReviews Rating:

 Written, Directed and Commented by: Agnes Varda and JRFaces Places

Executive Producer: Rosalie Varda

Associate Producer: Emile Abinal

Co-Producers: Julie Gayet and Nadia Turincev, Charles S. Cohen, Nichole Fu, Etienne Comar.

Chance gave JR, an iconic contemporary photographer/muralist with over a million Instagram followers his first camera. He found it, abandoned on a subway. Destiny introduced him to his biggest idol, legendary filmmaker, director, writer, visual artist, Agnes Varda.

Together, their love of imagery, of capturing the beauty of story in art and the story in impermanent faces resulted in their outstanding French documentary – Visage Villages (Faces Places).  

What they do with a simple black and white selfie is sheer artistic magic. As the pair travel through rural France ensconced in JR’s incredible photo truck– an instamatic camera on wheels – they unearth the extraordinary in the ordinary story rich faces of rural French villagers.

And then JR (34) dangling like a dapper clad Spiderman scales colossal heights hanging from scaffolding – think six shipping containers high –with acrobatic ease he pastes up giant scale photographs, high upon walls.

Through a photograph, Varda and JR immortalise the fragile impermanence of the face, that one moment in photographic time where the face and body stand heroic, silent in their quest to guard the permanent, to remain emeshed within the bricks and concrete of industry and remembered.

Just as the edges of a face blur in recollection and memory, there is a sense of urgency as Varda and Jr attempt to make permanent a shifting landscape of time.

None more tellingly shown than in the pasting of a young Guy Bourdin, up onto an abandoned German blockhouse, at low tide, on a beach in Normandy. Varda (89) had spent time with Guy, shooting the image back in the ’50s. The image has survived over six decades but as Varda and JR return the following morning the blockhouse and the beach remain, forever mismatched together but the image, washed away overnight, has vanished.

Everything is always changing. Great art and film is all art that lives on either in form or in the way it affects us when we meet it. Varda and JR remind us that moments don’t last but permanence exists in engraving and appreciating the present moment.

There are great, surprising and unexpected stories revealed in the worlds behind the faces, of the French villages, workers and farmers, worlds we know little about.

Like the goat farmer who bucks convention by refusing to burn off her goats’ horns at birth.

Or the speechless tears of a woman – pasted street front upon her home – the last inhabitant in a row of miner’s houses. The miners have vanished but their homes now abandoned, crumbling and decrepit remain, heroically stoic, reminding us of their stories.

Time and chance are lead roles within the documentary, Varda and JR had no plan other than to meet the people of the landscape and to let them, their amazing personal stories and the landscape dictate the mood and feeling of the art and documentary.

Within Visage Villages (Faces Places), Varda and JR supercharged with the power of improvisation, triumph in their tender exploration of human lives.  Varda and JR embed the faces and places of rural France within our psyches and as with great art, these images haunt and remain. 

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The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: GThe Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature

Director and Co-Writer: Cal Brunker

Producer and Co-Writer: Bob Barlen

Screenwriters: Scott Bindley, Cal Brunker, Bob Barlen

Producers: Harry Linden, Jongsoo Kim, Youngki Lee, Li Li Ma, Jonghan Kim, Bob Barlen

Starring: Will Arnett, Maya Rudolph, Katherine Heigl, Jackie Chan, Bobby Moynihan, Gabriel Iglesias, Bobby Cannavale, Jeff Dunham, Peter Stormare and Isabela Moner.

Cal Brunker wanted to make A Nut Job 2, Nutty by Nature, bigger and more fun so he took the most loved elements of the first movie and mixed nuts and drama with the deft flick of an artist’s eye to bring to life a little band of insurgent parkland animals, a corrupt greedy human oppressor -and turn it into a visually stunning action packed sequel.

 Stuffed on a fast food supply of nuts from the abandoned basement of Nibbler’s Nut Shop, Surly and his animal friends Andie (Katherine Heigl), stray pug Precious (Maya Rudolph) Buddy (Tom Kenn) live happy, lazy and fat in nut luxury without a survival worry in the world.

Nut feasts of every kind are just one furry paw breath away from the hunter gatherers. But their lifestyle of easy pickings ends explosively one night as the nut shop comes tumbling down in a gas explosion.

Unbeknownst to the animals their survival problems are just beginning.

Surly discovers that the local Mayor, a corrupt self-serving meanie Mayor Muldoon (Bobby Moynihan), plans to get rich by bulldozing their beloved Liberty Park and ripping it apart turning it into a hellish carnival ground full of decrepit rides bought on the cheap.

The animals strike back when they team up with some muscle in the adorable fluff ball form of a tough city mouse and Kung Fu master Mr. Feng and his army of displaced mice. Mr Feng has one outstanding flaw, he absolutely loses it when you call him cute.

Mayor Muldoon brutally enlists pest exterminators to exterminate Surly and his friends. Mayor Muldoon has a pint-sized weapon of his own, his daughter Heather – an armed brat with psychopathic urges, a tranquillizer gun and itching trigger finger.

Heather delights in doing horribly wrong things to animals if she can just get her hands on them.

All appears lost as the animal’s face hunger, homelessness and destruction by a predator they are not equipped to battle

What can go wrong is what makes this film so right for its target audience.

A simple movie with big themes: inclusion, diversity, unity, purpose and quest and we we’re cheering the little guy all the way.

Cal Brunker injects the drama with ever higher stakes with the completely unexpected plot twist of my favourite character, Surly’s best friend a non-speaking rescue rat named Buddy (Tom Kenny).

In his scraggly body Buddy the silent heroic outsider captured my heart as he faces off against the destructive power of corrupt human greed.

Nut Job 2, Nutty by Nature is a thrilling ride with unexpected plot twists.  At one moment I sat misty eyed with shock in the cinema with my 11-year-old daughter, My thought at that moment was, ‘this can’t happen in a kid’s movie!’

As I watched this movie with my daughter I was given the gift of escaping into the movie with the eyes of a child.

My daughter loved A Nut Job 2, Nutty by Nature.

The Nut Job 2 draws you into an enormous canvas of animated movie magic. There is enough colour breathing escapism, relentless slapstick smiling animal chaos and rocket fueled action married with characters we care about that makes Nut Job 2 a perfect school holiday movie.

Wonder

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: PGWonder

Directed by: Stephen Chbosky

Produced by: Todd Lieberman, David Hoberman

Screenplay by: Jack Thorne and Steven Conrad and Stephen Chbosky

Cast: Jacob Tremblay, Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, Izabela Vidovic, Daveed Diggs, Mandy Patinkin.

How would you feel if your appearance caused strangers to gawp, freeze in horror or avert their eyes, so they could pretend they couldn’t see you?

This is Augie Pullman’s world, a 10-year-old boy born with severe facial deformities, about to enter school for the first time. At the school gates with his fiercely loving family, Mum, Isabella (Julia Roberts), Dad, Nate (Owen Wilson) and his teenage sister Via (Izabela Vidovic), Augie hesitates to remove his final shield of anonymity, a space helmet, his final buffer between him, and a schoolyard full of staring children.

Augie accepts that he is different, he just wishes everybody else didn’t have such a hard time with the way he looks.

Based on a New York Times bestseller, Wonder addresses today’s appearance driven culture where one is quick to judge another without making time to look beneath the surface.Wonder

Director Stephen Chbosky refuses to demonize the surface appearance of his characters by using film to shoot Augie and all those in his orbit through multiple viewpoints.

With multiple viewpoints Chbosky chooses not to minimize the severity of Augie’s facial differences, or the value society places on physical appearance.

One stand out scene is in Chbosky’s multiple viewpoint rendering of the bully, Julian, (Bryce Gheisar).

When Julian is called into the Headmaster, Mr Tushman’s (Mandy Patinkin) office to account for allegedly photo shopping Augie as deformed out of their class photo, we are stunned and moved to compassion as Julian’s mother interrupts and presents an unexpected layer to this scene. Julian’s mother unapologetically declares that she photo shopped Augie out as she was sick of her visitors concentrating on the deformed kid in the photo and not seeing her son.Wonder

As Julian’s parent storm out of Mr Tushman’s office, Julian turns back to apologise. As a child with an innocent heart he knows he has done wrong and is genuinely sorry. Without recrimination only heartfelt sadness Mr Tush says, ‘I know you are son’.

There is a lot of heart and transformation within this film and a lot of unbridled joy.

I was captivated by the effervescent joy and connection between Augie and his family.

This is a family everyone would want to be part of. A family whose joy is not metered or seeking approval from anything external to themselves. A family who celebrate each other and their unique differences.

Via says to Augie, ‘Why blend in when you were born to stand out’.

And it is Augie’s self-acceptance that transforms the lives of everyone in this story and everyone watching.

Wonder penetrates as a film about the self-acceptance of our differences and how the choices we make define and expose our truest character.

When we don’t accept ourselves it is easy to judge and put down those who are different from us. Our judgements never define those we judge, they define us.

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The Only Living Boy in New York

GoMovieReviews Rating:

MThe Only Living Boy In New York

Directed by: Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Amazing Spider-Man 2)

Written by: Allan Loeb (21, The Space Between Us, Just Go with It)

Producers: Albert Berger, Jeff Bridges, John Fogel, Mari Jo Winkler-Ioffreda, Ron Yerxa

Cinematographer: Stuart Dryburgh

Starring: Callum Turner, Kate Beckinsale, Pierce Brosnan, Cynthia Nixon, Jeff Bridges, Kiersey Clemons.

When Thomas Webb (Callum Turner) bemoans the fact he hasn’t done much in his twenty-something years, his new-found mentor, writer W F Gerald (Jeff Bridges) reminds him, ‘You’ve had sex with your father’s mistress. I’d say that’s something.’

And that’s sort of this film in a nutshell.

Fragile relationships, forbidden love and flawed characters.

Sadly, despite the stellar cast, this is also a flawed movie. Part The Graduate, part Barfly, The Only Living Boy in New York does not reach the heights of either of those films – but to be fair, not too many films do.

That’s not to say this film is to be avoided, there’s plenty to keep one interested for the duration.

Jeff Bridges is clearly enjoying the chance to get down and grungy; the presence of Lou Reed (through music and references) adds to the New York feel; Cynthia Nixon as Thomas’ mother and Ethan’s (Pierce Brosnan) wife is nicely understated, and there is obviously other eye candy for most audience members (Kate Beckinsale, Pierce Brosnan and Kiersey Clemons).

Thomas, a college graduate, discovers his father, Ethan, is having an affair with a beautiful colleague, Johanna (Kate Beckinsale). He decides to follow her and, somehow, for some reason, and with little resistance from either of them, they too sleep together.

At the same time, Thomas’s best friend, Mimi (Kiersey Clemons) announces she’s dropped her muso boyfriend, obviously in the hope of taking her platonic relationship with Thomas to the next stage.

Everyone has decisions to make: unfortunately it’s pretty much the same decision for all of them – who to choose?

The only other substantial revelation/surprise comes toward the end but most will see it coming from a long way away.

One of the main reasons this film does not reach the heights it could have is that it’s hard to feel much for pretentious, cliched, wealthy publishing types.

Their actions are those of New York aristocrats bored with life but lacking the wherewithal to expand their interests outside their circle of influence. They could do anything: travel the world, climb Everest, skydive – anything they want; but they choose to wallow in their own dissatisfaction.

So while there is enough interest to follow their story, one does so with little sympathy for any of them. ‘Wake up guys and smell the flowers’, that’s if flowers grow in New York.

Interestingly, with the actors he had to work with, and the context of the story, Marc Webb fails to make the most of the sexual chemistry that should have oozed off the screen.

On balance, a film that, with more subtlety and nuances, could have been a ‘must see’ but that still has enough to provide for a pleasant ninety minutes to fill – so long as you’re not expecting the class, style and substance of The Graduate.

Girls Trip

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: MA 15+Girls Trip

Directed by: Malcolm D. Lee

Produced by: Will Packer, Malcolm D. Lee

Screenplay by: Kenya Barris, Tracy Oliver

Story by: Erica Rivinoja, Kenya Barris, Tracy Oliver

Starring: Regina Hall, Tiffany Haddish, Larenz Tate, Mike Colter, Kate Walsh, Jada Pinkett Smith and Queen Latifah.

After 5-years apart, four lifelong female friends reunite for a wild weekend in New Orleans, unleashing their Class of 95 sisterhood, ‘the Flossy Posse’, older and wiser, little do they suspect just how wild and unwise unleashing their former selves will be.

Before the posse join the reveling hundreds of thousands, the throbbing mass of the Essence Festival crowd – where every temptation is overripe for the plucking – they are led into prayer – before their sins begin – by the provocative insanity that is Dina (Tiffany Haddish) a shameless, man crazy, hothead with anger management issues.

  ‘Dear God, my heart is so full of joy for these women right here. Lord please make sure that Lisa don’t get an STD and nobody has kidney failure because we plan to get messed up. And let me get pregnant by somebody rich. Amen’.Girls Trip

Sweet divorcee Lisa (Jada Pinkett Smith) doesn’t get an STD, but does get a man endowed with an appendage the size of a third arm. How she overcomes the colossal feat of fellatio with grapefruit requires audience tissues, not for crying but for snort out loud laughter that is wet and uncontrollable in a cinema full of strangers.

At the movie’s heart is the tale of Ryan Pierce (Regina Hall) A svelte, successful, self-help author, selling her soul to uphold a marriage now stripped of love but needed to maintain celebrity image and fortune.

And Sasha (Queen Latifah) towers as the Judas character, a celebrity gossip blogger tempted by the fortune she could make by exposing her friend’s marriage to the world before the weekends over.

With an insanely relatable quartet of women, Packer dramatizes his characters alive not with the traditional single-woman qualities of cute man-pleasing sexiness but with women aware of their beauty, outrageous in their partying, their crowd surfing pantyless libidos and their criminal if convicted brawling. And he throws in just a few explosive public golden urine showers over innocent revelers to keep them dangerously unforgettable.Girls Trip

Dina is by far the most outrageous and controversial and in some scenes her motives teeter dangerously between pure funny wrong and pure wrong.

In one scene, she threatens to glass Ryan’s unfaithful husband with the broken neck of a wine bottle and in another she spikes the ‘posse’s’ cocktails with a heavy pour of 200-year-old absinthe – their night turns out hilarious and hallucinogenic but the concept of spiking one’s girlfriend’s kind of breaks that momentum of sisterhood.

In just over two hours, the movie edit could be tighter, but its outrageous moments will propel the word of mouth success of, Girls Trip.

In America, the film grossed over $85 million dollars making Packer 43 one of the world’s most prominent African American filmmakers with 26 movies grossing over $1 billion.

Packer has an innate sense of what his market audience wants and he delivers just that.

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All For One

GoMovieReviews Rating:

 

Produced by: Nick Batzias – Virginia Whitwell.All For One

Director: Dan Jones – Marcus Cobbledick

Writers: Marcus Cobbledick – Dan Jones

ALL FOR ONE follows the first five years of the GREENEDGE cycling journey.

A pack of men united by a spirit to excel and a shared aussie larrikinism– think lycra and rock and roll montages – who succeed spurred on by unquestionable matemanship in their quest to exceed as a team at the Tour de France.

This film doco is a must see as you are swept into their world descending the French Alps as adrenaline junkies on some of the world’s steepest roads.

We are swept in for one hell of ride, super charged with scenes giving us front row seats to impossibly steep and impossibly fast and fearless downhill descents. Unlike downhill skiers who perhaps have the imagery of landing in powder snow there are no such illusions for cyclists as they speed down tracks of metal, rock and tar.

The team’s joy and comradery on tour is infectious with the rousing musical songs of ACDC, Jet and Prodigy in the background. But unlike a rock and roll tour bus there is no excess on a cycling tour just marathon stretches of training, rehydrating and cycling.

In my favourite scene, the cyclists – armed with gladiator strength – face the infamous Paris Roubaix Cycling race.

The race ‘everybody hates to ride and everybody wants to win’, the race where spectators the world over line up to see firsthand the human sacrifice.

The Paris Roubaix is mythical and ancient – Napoleon is said to have advanced his troops over the patchwork track of cobblestones – cyclists carry names such as Spartacus and spectators line the edges thrilled by the prospect of blood sport.

The carnage is real – cyclists ride on with broken collar bones, blood streaming from face plants, bikes and bones litter the race track and the cyclists push on, their determination to finish and succeed is primal.

Of the 200 cyclists that enter the Paris Roubaix only 50 to 100 are expected to finish.All For One

This movie excels through the lens of documentary by revealing the intimacy of real people in their own real stories. Character biographies of cyclists such as Esteban Chaves, Mathew Hayman, Neil Stephens and Simon Gerrans unearth the message of the movie and the secret of their individual success.

The secret they each share is a willingness to get up each day regardless of their fears and circumstances and believing that each step they take in pursuing their dream will only bring that dream closer.

The message will reverberate with you as you depart the cinema. For 100 minutes, you have been swept into the raw pulse of hearts burning on fire with sheer adrenalin and unedited pure joy.

The effect is intoxicating and as a spectator sitting in a blacked-out cinema you soar vicariously through the pumping music rhythms and sinew of muscles and sheer will determined to not give up and win!

I left the cinema breathless, my heart racing, my spirit filled with adrenaline. Inspired by the driving spirit of humanity to overcome incredible odds in pursuit of our passions, I felt that spirit whisper, ‘yes you can, you know you can do this’.