Suicide Squad

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: MSuicide Squad

Director: David Ayer

Writer: David Ayer

Starring: Will Smith, Jimenez Fitzsimons, Ike Barinholtz, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, Cara Delevingne, Jai Caurtney, Joel Kimaman, Adewale Akinnuoge-Agbaje, Viola Davis, Ben Affleck, James McGowan, Jim Parrack, Ezra Miller; Jay Hernandez.

With such a huge amount of hype my expectations were duly high for Suicide Squad.

Was I impressed?

It comes down to the entertainment factor for me. Without a doubt, I was entertained.

Suicide Squad is an inverse to the usual superhero movie, where the bad guys are good and the humans, particularly Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), have become the devil incarnate to keep the human race feeling safe.

It’s a time of fear where mere mortals are faced with the idea of being over-powered. What would happen if Superman decided to take the President and drop him from the sky? No one would have been able to stop him.

To protect the human race, Amanda Waller puts together a squad of super-villains. Those with superpower but those locked away for being, well, bad. And now an Enchantress (Cara Delevingne), a genie let out of the proverbial bottle, has come to take over the world.

There are a lot of big names here, the stand outs for me: Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn and Will Smith as Deadshot. I’m not always a fan of the Smith, but he played Deadshot well, managing to give the character warmth and depth.  There’s also a chemistry between Margot Robbie and Will Smith that works and appears genuine on film.

I have to say I was let down by the Joker (Jared Leto) after so much hype. The Joker in a film full of big characters felt crowded, but the twisted love story with Harley Quinn was a nice twist to the usual superhero love story.

The editing was conducted so even a second was counted.  A couple of jolts at the beginning and the rest of the film was seamless.  To fit so much and still give air to the story and characters, director and writer David Ayer is to be commended. And the rock’n soundtrack gave a great pace to the film.

A few gaps have to mentioned. If you don’t have prior knowledge of Suicide Squad or included characters, some of the backstory was a bit thin.  How a psychiatrist becomes a marital arts expert because she’s suddenly crazy was a stretch. And I would have liked more heart from Katana.  But more backstory of some characters would have meant cutting others.

Suicide Squad isn’t just a superhero movie, there are elements of fantasy (which I thoroughly enjoyed) put together with fun characters, a great soundtrack and a story held together enough for the film to be entertaining.










Sing Street

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Director: John CarneySing Street

Writer: John Carney

Starring: Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Aidan Gillen, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Jack Reynor, Lucy Boynton, Kelly Thornton, Ben Carolan, Mark McKenna, Percy Chamburuka, Conor Hamilton, Karl Rice; Ian Kenny.

Whether it was the Irish accent, the characters or the 80s music (had a buddy with me who couldn’t help but sing along), Sing Street was a winner for me. 

I enjoyed director, John Carney’s previous film, Begin Again (2013) and the way music was incorporated into the story of Sing Street was very similar: a stylised act used sparingly so it didn’t feel like a musical, just a film with a lot of music.  

And Sing Street had grit.  This is Ireland in the 1980s: lack of jobs and money, where alcoholism is rife and anyone who can escape to London is jumping on that ferry.

For those left.  It’s just a dream.

Conor Lalor’s (Ferdi Walsh-Peelo) parents are skint.  Money pressures lead to fighting, to tightening the belt.  Money has to be saved somewhere.  So Conor is transferred to the catholic school run by the Brothers featuring kids running amok.

Black-eyed and bullied, Conor meets the girl of his dreams, Raphina (Lucy Bonton).  A model, no less.  Showing courage, or just the power of teenage hormones, he invites Raphina to feature in a music video for his band.

She says, ‘Yeah maybe’.

Problem is, he doesn’t have a band.

This is a kid with a serious crush.  So he goes about putting together a band (Sing Street), the introduction of fellow band members and his brother, Brendan Lalor encouraging Conor, AKA, Cosmo, maps out the story of the film.  With 80s music featured, of course.

I’m talking boys with make-up and music from The Clash, The Cure, Duran Duran and many of the original tracks performed by Sing Street composed by Gary Clark (of the Northern Irish band, Relish) with John Carney able to take credit for co-writing a lot of the songs.  So that’s credit for directing, writing the script and writing songs?  That’s impressive. 

Also, this is an extremely hard film to make without becoming saccharine.  Thankfully, there was more meat to the story of boy has crush on girl out of reach, so I’ll put together a band and then she’ll love me.  This is film about escape from and the acceptance of all life can throw at you.  To plow through whatever the arguments, bullying and crap and to get on with it and create something else.  To feel something else.

It takes courage to reach.

I believed the shy Cosmo with his blushing cheeks, overcoming fear to reach for those stars.  And his muse, Raphina, could have been just a pretty yet annoying character, but she had class and philosophy – ‘That’s what love is Cosmo,’ she says.  ‘Happy-sad’.

Look, musicals aren’t really my thing – Glee?  Forget it!  But the way the music was incorporated into Sing Street was seamless.  And the tongue-in-cheek humour helped a lot, giving those few forgivable cheesy moments just the right touch to feel authentic.

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Everybody Wants Some!!

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Director/Writer: Richard LinklaterEverybody Wants Some!!

Starring: Blake Jenner, Juston Street, Ryan Guzman, Tyler Hoechlin, Wyatt Russell, Glen Powell, Temple Baker, J. Quinton Johnson, Will Brittain, Zoey Deutch, Austin Amelio, Tanner Kalina, Forrest Vickery.

As suggested by the title (a classic by Van Halen), Everybody Wants Some!! is a tribute to the ‘80s era (and yes, they all really do want some).

Ah, the ‘80s – how far we’ve come from: pooh brown pants with tight shirts tucked in, the mighty mustache – the mighty mosh out in all its glory; tape decks and punk rock, smoking where-ever, pin ball machines and table tennis.

The film had a lot of fun with the college setting in the 1980s. But Everybody Wants Some!! was also about freshmen settling into college life with all the girls and parties and lessons to be learned.

Set at the start of term, freshman Jake (Blake Jenner) arrives at a house where the ceiling is about to collapse because the guys are filling up a water bed for better bedroom experience with the ladies – the frat house for the college baseball team.

Following Jake and the other freshmen settling in over the 3 day lead-up to the beginning of classes, it’s party time, where the focus is finding a girl while sizing up the rest of the guys in the baseball team.

The guys are happily physical with each other; a natural competitiveness comes to light with each personality rising to the surface as the days and parties continue.

And the film evolves into an interesting story of guys facing the challenge of growing into themselves, and how friendships develop through the ability to appreciate difference; to be able to fight, get over it and grow.

There were some fascinating perspectives discussed while taking hits from a bong.

And I enjoyed the baseball!

I’m really not a sports fan, so I was surprised how much I liked seeing the characters play.

The baseball wasn’t a feature until later in the film and this was clever as it showed a more serious side to the characters: this wasn’t about sizing each other up and challenging, this was about working together as a team.  Bullshit just doesn’t cut it because this is about their future.  Something to be taken seriously.

So yes, there was loads of testosterone and girls in skimpy outfits.  But there was also an honesty and sincerity here.

Richard Linklater also wrote the 1993 film Dazed and Confused (the predecessor to this one).  I was far younger when I watched Dazed and Confused, and I loved the cheekiness of it, the fun.

Everybody Wants Some!! although still relational, had a greater intellectual aspect.  This is a step up from High School.  This is College.

These aren’t just idiot jocks out for a root (well, not all the time), there’s also a seeking, a challenge in these characters.  And it was good to see guys just being guys.

At the start of the film, I would have to say the humour was aimed at a younger audience, as was the message: more your teen to 20s, perhaps.  But I enjoyed the film more as it progressed.

An entertaining winter warmer loaded with testosterone developing into a film with a surprising amount of depth.

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Hunt for the Wilderpeople

GoMovieReviews Rating:

PGHunt For The Wilderpeople

Director: Taika Waititi

Based on the book: ‘Wild Pork and Watercress’, written by Barry Crump

Cast: Sam Neill, Julian Dennison, Rhys Darby, Rima Te Wiata, Rachel House, Oscar Kightley, Tioreore Ngatai-Melbourne, Troy Kingi, Cohen Holloway, Stan Walker, Mike Minogue, Hamish Parkinson, Lloyd Scott.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople is tongue-in-cheek and heartfelt where the characters are able to take a laugh at themselves ‘cause it’s all heart bro.

There are some familiar faces here – a solid performance from Sam Neill (Jurassic Park (1993, 2001), Peaky Blinders (since 2013), The Piano (1993)) as the reluctant crusty ‘uncle’, Hec Faulkner; Rachel House (Whale Rider (2002); Boy (2010)) as Paula, the overzealous welfare worker and Rhys Darby (Flight of the Conchords (2007-2009); What We Do in the Shadows (2014)) as the ‘bushman’, Psycho Sam.

But the standout for me was Julian Dennison (Paper Plans (2014)) all of 13 years old, as Ricky Baker.  This kid has talent, so-much-so, I couldn’t imagine anyone else playing the wanna-be-gangsta, Ricky.

I love hot water bottles (particularly now it’s getting to winter here), I love dogs, love the bush and aunties with cats on their jumpers.  And I love how this movie was about a foster kid trying to find his way and how an old crusty character can warm to a kid who’s his own person just like him.

There’s a poetry in the camera work (cinematographer, Lachlan Milne) – this is beautiful scenery of green bushland taken from up high, then down to running waterfalls, lakes mirroring an orange sky to the mud and rain of the bush; locations including Piha, Karekare, Bethells Beach, Horopito and the Kaimanawa Plains.

A lot of thought was put into the scenes, the director Taika Waititi (Boy, Eagle vs Shark, What We Do in the Shadows) waving his magic touch with the shadows of leaves on the car windscreen; the silhouette of fence posts in the dusk, balanced with the authentic flavour of performance, without too much polish and keeping a tight rein on the editing (Luke Haigh).

A film where the characters felt real, if not caricature in nature: you’re bound to meet one in the bush or down the street in New Zealand.  And that’s the point of difference with this film: a New Zealander flavour of the bush with cold and beauty combined with character.

Look, some of the humour was a bit cheap, more for the kids or young at heart.  But this was just a few jokes – mostly I was smiling with a sometimes tear in the eye.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople makes you want to love people for who they are, not who they’re supposed to be.

Sometimes a stray gets found and given a home.  Sometimes the ones who are lost and unloved can be found, only to run away in the bush and get lost and then become a gangsta running from the cops, yo.

What can I say, one of my favourite Leonard Cohen songs (The Partisan) was part of the soundtrack, so yes I admit this film got under the skin.

One of those funny ones that make you cry a bit because it’s also sweet.

The Nice Guys

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Director: Shane BlackThe Nice Guys

Writers: Shane Black; Anthony Bagarozzi

Cast: Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, Angourie Rice, Matt Bomer, Margaret Qualley, Yaya Dalosta, Keith David, Lois Smith; Kim Basinger.

Harking back to the funky-soul disco era of the 1970s, The Nice Guys is a private detective, who-done-it comedy, with a bit of action on the side.

The scene is set when Misty Mountains (yes, her name referring to her boobs) comes to a dramatic end – assets revealed in life but covered in death, because hey, she’s human and this is a classy film.

Now, Amelia Kuttner (Margaret Qualley) is being followed.  She hires Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe), muscle who is paid to deter those, well, who need deterring.  His line of enquiry leading to Holland March (Ryan Gosling), a private detective also on the case.

Delving into the world of ’70s pornography, dirty deeds are uncovered circling closer and closer to those targeting Amelia.

A classic storyline, yet, it’s the characters Healy, March and March’s daughter, Holly (Angourie Rice) who are the focus of the film.  And the success of the film comes from the perfect casting of Gosling alongside Crowe.

It’s a pleasure to see Gosling playing a light-hearted character after all his seriousness in the past (Half Nelson (2006), The Ides of March (2011), The Place Beyond the Pines (2012) and more recently, The Big Short (2015)).  Gosling’s character, March, is a funny bastard.  Either he’s a natural comic or director Shane Black deserves a tremendous amount of credit as March was the highlight of the film for me.

Russell playing, Healy: as always the steadfast meat-head with a heart of gold.

The two characters had a great chemistry, like the small dog yapping at the big.  I wondered if there was a genuine annoyance from Russell Crowe regarding Gosling.  But with a clever script, there were many moments for laughter.

Add the background scenery of horses get-up as unicorns, protesters playing dead in gas masks and some well-placed action (I was about to get bored near the end until the action kicked in); you’ve got an entertaining film.  I’m still grinning about March falling, yet again, and somehow surviving.

But, honestly, there wasn’t a lot of depth here.

There were definite moments of wit and cleverness but the story barely held together at the end.  The action got ramped up so I forgave the fading narrative.  It depends on what mood you’re in.

If you’re looking for a, who-done-it with wit and action, this is a great film.

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Whisky Tango Foxtrot

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Directed by: Glenn Ficarra, John RequaWhisky Tango Foxtrot

Screenplay: Robert Carlock

Based on: ‘The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan,’ by Kim Barker

Starring: Tina Fey, Margot Robbie, Martin Freeman, Alfred Molina, Billy Bob Thorton, Steve Peacocke; Christopher Abbott.


Kim is a 40 year old copy writer who spends her time on an exercise bike going no-where.  No matter how hard she peddles, Kim just isn’t getting anywhere.  Her life is going backwards.

Presented with an opportunity to get out from behind a desk and report in front of a camera in Afghanistan, Kim leaves her boyfriend and comfortable life for the chaos of the Kabul Bubble where shit literally flies through the air.

Whisky Tango Foxtrot (I’m thinking military speak for WTF) is a juxtaposition of genres: war, comedy and drama.

It’s hard to categorise Whisky Tango Foxtrot.  There’s some dark humour here: Kabul International Airport A.K.A Killed In Action.  But I would say this movie is a drama with the main character, Kim Barker (Tina Fey), having a midlife crisis.

At the beginning, I was concerned the film was falling firmly on the ‘My life journey’ style of film, but thankfully, with the introduction of characters in Afghanistan, the film took off on its own journey with the focus on the characters and the reality of life in the ‘ka-bubble’.  

I wouldn’t call the film a comedy, even though Tina Fey (known for her parts as a comedian) is the protagonist, but there are funny moments with the misunderstandings between different cultures, and the inherent humour of Iain, the Scottish photographer.  Yes, this is mostly a drama with the elements of war: gun fire, bombs blasting and drones flying, played over with a sometimes cheesy soundtrack.  It was a strange juxtaposition between this romantic drama and comedy set on a backdrop of the war in Afghanistan.  This wasn’t a MASH situation.  There were some serious thought-provoking moments.  And it worked.

I enjoyed watching this film because I liked the characters.  The translator, Fahim Ahmadzai (Christopher Abbott) was a standout with warm eyes and a genuine soul; then there’s the security guy Nic (Steve Peacocke), fellow journalist, Tanya Vanderpoel (Margot Robbie) – yes the film was heavy on the Aussie actors not that it’s a bad thing!  Then there’s the photographer Iain MacKelpie (Martin Freeman), the politician Ali Massoud Sadiq (Alfred Molina), the general Hallanek (Billy Bob Thorton) and then the people of Afghanistan.

This was a well-rounded story, and yes, it was heart-warming.

It was just some of the moments were strange.  For example, Kate reporting in front of the camera only to realise she’s standing near a dead body hidden under rubble but for an arm.  Not funny, just a bit strange.

The mission undertaken by marines with the green of night vision but with a romantic soundtrack playing, also strange.

But the strength of the storyline with the careful handling of the characters by directors, Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011); Focus (2015)), Whisky Tango Foxtrot was an enjoyable film to watch.

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GoMovieReviews Rating:

Director: Paul IrelandPawno

Screenplay: Damien Hill

Cast: Damien Hill, John Brumpton, Maeve Dermody, Mark Coles Smith, Kerry Armstrong, Malcolm Kennard, Brad McMurray, John Orcsik, Mark Silveira.

A day in the suburb of Footscray.

Pawno is a well-paced, character driven film with a great soundtrack.  A snapshot of Footscray culture showing insight into the need to belong with a bit of humour thrown in the mix.

I remember when I first moved to Melbourne in the ’90s, walking to the Footscray train station after staying at a friends the night before.  Suddenly, there was this young Vietnamese guy asking me, ‘Are you chasing?  Are you chasing?’

A catch phrase if I was looking for a hit.

Did I look like I was chasing?  I probably did that morning, hungover, a skinny 18-year-old heading for the train station on a Sunday morning.

Footscray is known for its drug culture.  But there’s so much more to this suburb, shown so well in this film.

The characters are the story.

The director, Paul Ireland, shared the difficulty in finding two actors who could play the part of Pauly (Mark Coles Smith) and Carlo (Malcolm Kennard), the two junkies drinking their dose of methadone, passing the day; great mates that’ll break your heart.

Friendship and humour can get a person through the day, through the quiet desperation of needing that hit.  The mateship of these two junkies is a delight even though the tragedy is obvious.  It’s such a pleasure to see the good boys underneath the bad.  To see the life behind the begging.  There’s a dark humour here, shown with a depth of understanding.

Then there’s Les Underwood (John Brumpton), owner of a Pawn shop: what a great place to show each character, to show the underbelly when in need of a loan.

Les is a wise and warm character on the one hand and a no-nonsense man, on the other.  An iconic Aussie male who’s seen it all and can tell the bullshit from the genuine.

But love his dog Ruby, you love the man.

It’s a fine line between making a profit and giving someone a loan out of mateship.  Sometimes, it’s brutal.

John tells a mother (Kerry Armstrong) looking for her junkie son, ‘The young keep their own time.’

What more can he do?

‘I’ll let you know when he pops up again.’

Then there’s the shy Danny Williams (Damien Hill) working alongside John as his assistant.  A gentle character who in finding his mental stability begins his search for love.  The community embraces Danny, accepting those who are really trying versus the real desperates, the junkies who are still chasing, baby bottle in hand.

Damien Hill was also the screenwriter of Pawno, and I’m not surprised he has a background in the theatre as it’s the dialogue that makes this film such a success.

The addition of the young blind girl playing the ukulele adds an emotional note, knowing she’s not quite right, but her heart is there, in her playing.  In the Q&A session, the director, Paul Ireland said it took just one take at each location for her to get it right.  And it’s beautiful, her voice and her playing.

All of the characters are flawed.  Each with their own battle of mental illness, heartbreak, addiction; loneliness.

It would have been easy to get bogged down in the melancholy, but there’s humour here, the focus is on the good: the poem written to the beautiful girl in the bookshop, the drummers tapping out a heartbeat and the dance of a local in appreciation, the expression of graffiti and the love of a dog.  Pawno shows life in all its complications with the simplicity of a leaky kettle or a favourite mug.

I was surprised there wasn’t a greater focus on the Vietnamese culture.  Walking the main street, you will see nothing but Vietnamese restaurants with aquariums full of what’s to eat.  And this could have been better represented in the film by showing more of the signage, hearing the language.

Scratching the surface of the Vietnamese culture would have added a greater weight to the film but I appreciated the thought put into each character who was shown.

You don’t need to throw a lot of money at a film when you’ve got characters with depth.

A bit of compassion goes a long way.  Sometimes, it’s enough.  Sometimes it’s a pinch on the inner arm, just to know you’re alive.  That inner voice saying, ‘I am here.  I am here.’

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