Eye in the Sky

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Director: Gavin HoodEye In The Sky

Screenplay: Guy Hibbert

Starring: Helen Mirren, Alan Rickman, Aaron Paul, Barkhad Abdi, Lain Glen, Phoebe Fox, Jeremy Northam.


I was completely absorbed by this film, from beginning to end.

I’m not a fan of war movies.  I find the violence a little too real and disturbing because it is all too true.  But Eye in the Sky isn’t one of those blood and guts type of films, it analyses the hierarchy, the politics of war.  It makes murderers of all involved.

What a fascinating take on such a complicated issue.  We are at war, but from the comforts of our homes; directions are made behind closed doors and bombs dropped from drones.  War, in these days, is an ethical conundrum.

There was no loss of momentum in this film, even though the focus was a quiet examination made through dialogue between the characters; the suspense in waiting for difficult decisions that must be made. Not an easy task and very well handled by director, Gavin Hood (Tsotsi (2005), X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), Ender’s Game (2013)).  He lets the characters tell the story in the simplicity of one day, one long moment shown in all its depth and complexity.  And using this linear time-line and keeping it simple, the film felt authentic.

Helen Mirren was perfectly cast as Colonel Katherine Powell.  A tough as nails, uncompromising military soldier who never waivers from her duty.  And mixed emotions seeing Alan Rickman in his final performance as Lieutenant General Frank Benson: a sympathetic character showing his humanity under the cast iron soul of a soldier.  Hard to believe this brilliant actor will no longer grace our screens.

It was interesting to have the curtains drawn back to show what happens behind the closed doors of war.  I can only sympathise with the people who have to make decisions to try and save as many lives as possible.  Deciding what are the legal, ethical and moral ramifications behind the killing of people in a different country – and whose life is worth more.

Eye in the Sky was thought-provoking, suspenseful and moving without theatrics.  A film to get people talking about issues that need to be spoken about.

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A Bigger Splash

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: MA 15+A Bigger Splash

Director: Luca Guadagnino

Screenplay: Dave Kajganich

Story: Alain Page

Starring: Tida Swinton, Dakota Johnson, Ralph Fiennes, Matthias Schoenaerts, Corrado Guzzanti, Lily McMenamy, Aurore Clément; Elena Bucci.

An English language Italian-French erotic thriller.

After having throat surgery, Marianne Lane (Tida Swinton) goes on a retreat from her rock star career with her lover, Paul (Matthias Schoenaerts).

The film opens to an idyllic life of sun, mud, the blue of the ocean and the relaxation of naked lovers lounging by the pool.  Until Harry (Ralph Fiennes) arrives.  Bringing his long lost daughter, Penelope (Dakota Johnson) with him.

I’d never thought of Tida Swinton as sexy until seeing her playing Marianne.  Think, We Need to Talk about Kevin (2011), Constantine (2005) and I’ll never forget her in Orlando (1992).  But there’s a genuine love and warmth in this silent yet expressive character.  And the chemistry between Marianne and Paul is totally believable.  As is the subtleties of the narcissism of youth in Penelope and the unbalanced, lost, selfish but, gotta love him for his dancing moves, Harry.  The guy dances like a demented chicken.

And I admit I became a bit jealous of the love between Marianne and Paul, so intimately portrayed to the audience.

What a great mix of characters.  All so well cast and well played.  At one point Harry states, ‘Honesty is the greatest fidelity.’  Where Paul responds, ‘The world isn’t ready for your honesty.’

Set on an island somewhere between Sicily and Tunisia, the elements are used to build the tension: the desert winds, the porcelain faces of pots; ruined boats flaking red and blue and the lost immigrants appearing from behind crumbling buildings set on baron clifftops.  And the ever present snakes.

Director, Luca Guadagnino shows the story using the landscape and montages, almost glitches in the flow to set a slight unease in the audience.  There’s a tension that brews in this film and I loved the classic soundtrack used to set the flavour of the film giving a clarity to the mystery, almost like cleansing the palate.

There’s a fair bit of nudity here, but the film has such a mature feel, it’s just another part of the character’s personality.  How comfortable they are naked in front of others.

The only negative is there was a loss of momentum where the peak of the film was reached too early.  But the story continued giving a greater depth of character.  That looking back with regret, or the feeling you never have to do that stupid thing again.  Or, hell, maybe I will.  But now things are different.  Life is different.  And the consequences of previous choices are now being felt.  And either forgotten, held for ransom, cut away, forgiven or gotten away with.  Life; people.  You just don’t always know what you’re going to get.

I enjoyed watching this film, the subtleties of each character and the beautiful scenery.

Nice to watch one made for the adults.

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London Has Fallen

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: MA15+London Has Fallen

Directed by: Babak Najafi

Screenplay by: Creighton Rothenberger, Katrin Benedikt, Chad St. John, Christian Gudegast

Story by: Creighton Rothenberger, Katrin Benedikt

Starring: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Alan Moni Aboutboul, Angela Bassett, Robert Forster, Melissa Leo and Radha Mitchell.

A sequel to the 2013 film, Olympus Has Fallen, London Has fallen is an action thriller that was better and bloodier than expected.

Obligated to attend the state funeral of the British Prime Minister, the President of the United States (Aaron Eckhart), along with the majority of the world’s leaders, come under attack by the Pakistani terrorist and arms dealer, Aamir Barkawi (Alan Moni Aboutboul).

Gerard Butler playing the secret service agent, Mike Banning, isn’t my favourite action man.  And the chemistry between Mike and his wife Leah (Aussie actress, Radha Mitchell) was strained if not painful to watch.  But there were glimmers of a personality under all that strutting – ‘I don’t know about you but I’m thirsty as fuck,’ being one of the very few human moments.  He’s a man made of, ‘Bourbon and bad decisions’.  But yeah, some of the dialogue was pretty bad.

This is a big budget film with buildings blown up, the Chelsea Bridge disintegrating and the top of Westminster Abby toppling to the streets of London.  If it wasn’t for the seeming required cheese that these ‘American President versus Terrorist’ movies always seem to require, this would have been a very good film.

I like my thrillers and there was plenty of action here – car chases and machine guns popping like fireworks.  There were moments reminiscent of an Army Action kill ‘em all PlayStation game.  Good stuff!

Having the Brits on board only helped balance the typical cheese of the American style, one-sided ideal of the live and die mantra for the American Dream.  Even with Morgan Freeman’s baritone, some of the dialogue was hard to swallow.

The screening of the movie is timely with the recent terrorist attacks on Brussels.  A very sad day.  And some politics are discussed here.  The required need to continue the fight against terror rather than do nothing.  To engage the world.  The fact America has been under attack for centuries and that they will remain.  It is frightening, this terror business, this blowing up of innocent people.  And I don’t want to get into politics here.  But there are attacks happening and I guess the movie shows a perspective.  Anyway.

A lot of cheese, but some good action here with a big budget to make the film look impressive on the screen.


The Brothers Grimsby

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Director: Louis LeterrierThe Brothers Grimsby

Screenplay by: Sacha Baron Cohen, Phil Johnston

Story by: Sacha Baron Cohen, Peter Baynhan, Phil Johnston

Starring: Sacha Baron Cohen, Mark Strong, Rebel Wilson, Penélope Cruz, Isla Fisher and Babourey Sidibe.

A spy action comedy.

I’m not saying it’s one of Sacha’s best (I mean, Borat was a revelation), but Grimsby is definitely worth a giggle, a cringe and an outright laugh.  Yes, his humour is crude and extremely un-PC.  But it can also be very dry and very un-PC!  And that’s why I found myself sniggering through-out the film.

Even though he’s got his football, hotlips girlfriend and 11 kids, Nobby (Sacha Baron Cohen) still misses his long lost brother, Sebastion (Mark Strong).  Finally tracking him down, Nobby finds out his brother is a spy on a mission and Sebastion finds Nobby to be his idiot but ever-loving brother.  Together, nothing can stand in their way, except perhaps for Nobby… and the people of Grimsby giving away their location… and a few randy elephants.

Nobby is the definite focus of the narrative and humour.  Dawn, Nobby’s girlfriend (played by Rebel Wilson) gets a few farts in.  It’s interesting how Rebel is inherently funny in this film, similar to Sacha.  Just the expressions on the face are funny.  I mean, Nobby showing his – I love you brother, face is hilarious.

But why-oh-why did I find Daniel Radcliff (the character, not the actual actor) contracting AIDS the funniest part of the film?!

There is a particular style to the Cohen franchise.  And even through it wasn’t his best, Cohen has created a spy action film, thrown a load of cash at it and mixed it with his humour.  And yes, I was left with a grin on my face.

Not gold but bloody entertaining.


Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Director: Zack SnyderBatman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice

Screenplay: Chris Terrio, David S. Goyer

Starring: Ben Affleck, Gal Godot, Henry Cavill, Jesse Eisenberg, Jason Momoa, Amy Adams.

Two superheros; one city.  No wonder the people of Metropolis are worried.  A vigilante batman and an alien who could destroy them all.  If he wanted.  And there lies the foundation of the film – the fear that one Being can have too much power.  And if the movie stuck with this idea, Batman Vs Superman would have been a fantastic film.  But the story continues so it’s like three movies squeezed into one.  All without the required depth of conflict to make the story truly engaging.

This movie had everything going for it – the special effects; the characters were all well-cast.  But without enough conflict between Superman and Batman, the whole premise of the story fell over.  There wasn’t enough meaning.

What a pity.  There were flickers of greatness, such as the humanising of characters.  Batman asks Superman, ‘Do you bleed?  I’m going to make you bleed.’  And a great one, ‘Only men have courage.’  So it was this fear of Superman being an alien that brought the people of Metropolis against him.  And I thought, wow, this version will go where all the others haven’t: a moody, mystery thriller! But the story just wasn’t strong enough.  And then it went on and on.  Why did Batman hate Superman so much?  It just wasn’t enough for me and the whole movie depended on this set-up of hatred.

I’m not saying I didn’t like the characters.  Ben Affleck as Batman was believable.  And I love Henry Cavill as Superman.  Even if Superman is the goody, I just can’t help but love the guy/alien.  And in this characterisation, the film is a success.  Amy Adams as Louis Lane is a flat character; helpless by tradition.  But I liked her ginger-self anyway.  She still had guts.  Even Wonder Woman, played by Gal Godot was likeable.  But that’s my case in point, it felt like she was just tacked on the end.

Knee-jerk reaction: what a waste.  It was all there.  But trying to fit so much in the 2.5 hours made it feel like 5.  Surface action is just explosions on the screen.  But hey, I love a pretty explosion, and I guess that’s why Batman Vs Superman is watchable just not memorable.


The Daughter

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Directed by: Simon StoneThe Daughter

Produced by: Jan Chapman, Nicole O’Donohue

Screenplay by: Simon Stone

Starring: Geoffrey Rush, Ewen Leslie, Paul Schneider, Mirada Otto, Anna Torv, Odessa Young, Sam Neill.

An Australian film based on a play by Henrik Ibsen, ‘The Wild Duck’.

After Henry (Jeoffrey Rush) closes down the timber mill, the town starts dying – boarded-up shop fronts reflect the people left: hidden secrets kept behind the surface of happy families.  But slowly, the surface is scratched away as Chris (Paul Schneider), Henry’s son, reunites with his family and old Uni mate, Oliver (Ewen Leslie), to attend his father’s wedding to his second wife, Anna (Anna Torv).

I love films based on plays – you always know the characters are well-developed and the dialogue a highlight and authentic.  But I hadn’t prepared myself for the emotional kick in the stomach this film became.

This is a story about being lucky in life even if it’s not perfect.  A roof over the head of a loving family, that’s being lucky.  Yet, the others who don’t have it, want to destroy it.  Even if they think it’s the right thing to do.  And there’s many a sad story behind every seemingly happy family.  And this is a very sad story.  Yes, a few deep breaths are required.

I was particularly affected by the stand-out performances of Miranda Otto playing Hedvig and Ewen Leslie as Oliver, playing father and daughter and the beautiful relationship between them.  Sam Neill as the grandfather is also worth mentioning – ‘Stories like these are as old as the hills’, he says.

The setting of the film is chosen carefully: country scenery of fog drifting through the trees of a pine forest and sunlight reflected off the water running through grassy banked rivers.  Yes, there’s some real beauty here.

And Hedvig is such a lovely, smart girl, her love of the people in her life a fragile treasure that all who know her try to protect.  But mostly there’s a sadness, like a duck shot out of the sky and left with a broken wing.  You can only hope she’ll fly again.  Lucky duck if she’s saved.  But is she lucky if she can’t fly?

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10 Cloverfield Lane

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Director: Dan Trachtenberg10 Cloverfield Lane

Writers: Josh Campbell, Matthew Stuecken.

Story and Screenplay: Josh Campbell, Matthew Stuecken, Damien Chazelle.

Starring: John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Gallagher Jr.

Based on the script, The Cellar and part of the Cloverfield series (see Cloverfield (2008)), this is a psychological thriller that was well-paced.  And by thriller, I mean the soundtrack (composed by Bear McCreary) was used to build the tension and restraint was used in telling the story.

Howard (John Goodman, and my goodness he was well-cast in this one), is a doomsday fanatic.  Building his bunker, his ‘Arc before the flood’, he knew it was coming.  Whether It be aliens, the Russians or the Korean’s (North, he’s convinced later), Howard knew It was coming.  And now, it’s just not safe to go out there.

Goodman’s facial expressions and frankly, his girth, make Howard’s creepy character believable; making him all the more powerful and in control.  Not only did he hold the keys, he’d certainly be suck’n up all the oxygen with that set of lungs!  And the camera work here is to be commended.

Much of the suspense is built around the soundtrack, so you kind of know what’s going to happen but you kinda don’t.  I liked the restraint used to build this story of claustrophobia, with time spent building the characters, allowing the audience to get close: Howard, the creepy-doomsday guy, Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), the normal one, and Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.), the loveable-but-not-quite-sure-about one.

There are not many tricks or tools used to portray this movie and what was used by director Dan Trachtenberg was used well.

I enjoyed the relationship between the characters, and the idea, that, Yeah, I’d probably try that too.  Everyone was there for a reason and the audience was left, like Michelle, not quite sure what to believe.  And yes, thankfully, there are a few surprises.

I wasn’t blown away but I wasn’t disappointed either.

I think more could have been done with the camera work.  Like the soundtrack, accentuate a few more of those expressions from Howard, making the bunker all the more tight, building the suspense with well-placed angles and close-ups.  I just wasn’t completely engrossed; wasn’t on the edge of my seat.

Even so, 10 Cloverfield Lane is definitely worth a watch.

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