TRIPLE 9

GoMovieReviews Rating:
Director: John HillcoatTRIPLE 9

Writer: Matt Cook

Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Casey Affleck, Anthony Mackie, Woody Harrelson, Aaron Paul, Norman Reedus, Clifton Collins Jr., Kate Winslet.

TRIPLE 9 was edge-of-the-seat, hard hitting and a great, well-rounded story.

Set in Atlanta, Georgia, Michael Atwood (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is an ex-military soldier who heads a crew with two brothers, Gabe (Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad)) and Russell (Norman Reedus).

Caught up in dirty dealings with a Jewish Russian Mafia, Michael and his crew recruit two dirty cops, Marcus (Anthony Mackie) and Franco (Clifton Collins Jr.) to help rob a bank in order to obtain a safe deposit box containing information to overturn the recent conviction of the Maria boss. But the boss’ wife, Irina Vlaslov (Kate Winslet) withholds payment. The information’s not enough.

Using brutal intimidation, Irina sends the crew off to a second job.  This is a tight-knit crew, but when faced with the impossible, the ties of family and brothers in arms gets stretched to breaking point.

The complication of morals versus survival shows each of the characters for who they truly are. Each action peeling back another layer, showing the good to be bad and the bad to be good.

Reminiscent of one of my favourites, Heat (1995), TRIPLE 9 was brutal without getting caught up in the details: bloody plastic in the boot of a car tells enough of a story.

I liked this film because it went beyond all expectations. The story just kept unfolding to its bloody conclusion. I couldn’t look away: cringing, gasping, hoping and ultimately smiling contently at a well thought-out conclusion.

The camera work was great without being over-done. The image of shadows behind the curtain surrounding a hospital bed ominous, knowing the faceless really is a monster.

Although all performances were well executed (I will always and forever be a fan of Woody Harrelson), the stand-out for me was Casey Affleck as the good cop, Chris Allen. A strong, believable character who balanced the rest of the cast extremely well. And the balancing of all the strong characters within the storyline is what makes TRIPLE 9 such a success.

One of the best movies I’ve seen for a while and I’m now convinced my favourite genre is Crime Thriller – would definitely recommend this one.

Products from Amazon.com

 

How to be Single

GoMovieReviews Rating:
How to be SingleDirected by: Christian Ditter.

Screenplay: Abby Kohn, Marc Silverstein and Dana Fox.

Story by: Abby Kohn, Marc Silverstein.

Based on: ‘How to be Single’, by Liz Tuccillo.

Starring: Dakota Johnson, Rebel Wilson, Alison Brie and Leslie Mann.

Bloody romantic comedies! Always making me cry. If only the characters weren’t so adorable…

Alice (Dakota Johnson) has never been single. She moved from her parent’s house, to a dorm, then in with her boyfriend. She wants to live the single life, to get out there and do all the things she says she wants to do but never does. So, Alice moves to New York where she meets Robin (Rebel Wilson), and that’s where all the fun begins. And the tears.

There’s the classic: ‘can’t get enough’ girl and the classic boy who sleeps with everyone; the older sister, and the one looking for true love.  Which all equals lots of drinking and yes, some laughs. There’s a formula and it’s put in place because it works.

Rebel Wilson adds a different comic dimension with her particular brand. Rebel plays a certain character: the ditzy, oversexed, drunken single girl who’s all heart. And I don’t mind that she’s type-cast because I haven’t gotten sick of her yet.

The older sister, Meg (Alison Brie), was a bit sweet for me, but I guess that’s just the big sister character. And maybe I liked her the least because Meg made me cry the most.

Look, I don’t usually like romantic comedies, the way these formulaic movies manipulate a girl’s emotions. But, How to be Single was one of the better ones. Not too cheesy, and there was a genuine understanding of some of the choices women have to make: weighing up the opportunities gained by being in a relationship and the opportunities that are lost.

Really, nothing new here but a good film to watch with the girlfriends for International Women’s Day. Just take some tissues, and make sure to have a glass to celebrate no matter what your status. You’re where you’re meant to be.

Can you tell I’ve just watched a Rom Com?!

 

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

GoMovieReviews Rating:
Pride and Prejudice and ZombiesScreenplay and Directed by: Burr Steers

Based on: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by, Jane Austin and Seth Grahame- Smith

Starring: Lily James, Sam Riley, Jack Huston, Bella Heathcote Douglas Booth, Matt Smith, Charles Dance; Lena Headey.

Not just another Zombie movie.

With lacy knickers and knives sheathed in garters, I really thought I was in for some trash with this one. But I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised.

Without being overdone, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is funny for the right reasons: a playful parody that manages to portray a successful story-line about the undead (AKA zombies) running rampart in 19th century England.

Based on Seth Grahame-Smith’s novel (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), the undead have infected the population and the ladies have been taught martial arts and weaponry in order to save themselves from joining their ranks. This is where period costuming meets martial arts.

With the focus on the Bennets’ daughters, the mother (Sandy Phillips) is determined to marry her daughters off to the richest men available.

There’s dancing at balls and wine being drunk; eye patches (for function not fashion), and all the skullduggery of finding love. But the story went further than the visual sensors and added a few more layers to the characters, and more meat (ha, ha) to the story. This was more about the Jane Austin 19th century sensibilities than the gore of yet another mindless Zombie movie. And this made for a better story-line.

There is much wit and humour sprinkled with occasional change in camera view: a hand reaching for a strangle hold or the rotting flesh of a zombie’s face.

The acting and dialogue was yes, once again, surprisingly good. The budding romance between Mr Darcy (Sam Riley) and Elizabeth Bennet (Lily James) was believable and rather sweet.

What I liked most about the film was the humour from Mr Collins (Matt Smith), making the most of the parody of English dignified politeness amongst the chaos of the walking dead, liable to walk in any moment, ‘But pass the scones’, in the mean-time, ‘With a nice cup of tea’.

Being such a silly convention, I don’t think anyone is expecting a life-altering experience here, but there’s some quality work and thought put into the story and the telling of the story: the soundtrack (Fernando Valázquez) adding to the cheek; the camera work (Remi Adefarasin) adding a new perspective.  And I was happy to be in the audience to enjoy the success.

 

Concussion

GoMovieReviews Rating:
ConcussionDirected and Written by: Peter Landesman.

Based on: an exposé, ‘Game Brain’ published in GQ, 2009, by Jeanne Marie Laskas.

Starring: Will Smith, Alac Baldwin, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Arliss Howard, David Morse, Paul Reiser, Albert Brooks.

Based on an exposé, ‘Game Brain’, Concussion is based on the true story of a Nigerian Doctor, Dr Bennet Omalu (Will Smith) and his discovery of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE): a brain disorder he discovered while conducting a post mortem on the famous football player, Mike Webster (David Morse).

In answer to the question: why are all these professional football players going mad and killing themselves? Dr Omalu, thinking he’s doing the right thing by sharing his scientific knowledge, and publishing his discovery in the scientific journal, Neurosurgery, inadvertently takes on the multi-billion dollar industry that is the NFL.

Headed by a Rheumatologist (a doctor who specialises in arthritis, disorders of the muscles and joints not brain), the NFL’s Mild Traumatic Brain Injury committee demands a retraction of the journal article, stating the information is false. Standing by the science of CTE, Dr Omalu must face the pressure from the NFL against his own credentials and the pressure against his colleagues and his wife, Prema Mutiso (Gugu Mbatha-Raw).

I was more interested in the science of the story, which was shown to the audience without getting too technical. A notable scene with the good Dr Omalu jerking a walnut from side-to-side in a water-filled glass jar to demonstrate how multiple hits to the head effect the brain. Or how the woodpecker uses its tongue to wrap its brain in a protective ‘seat belt’ in order to save its brain from the G-force of its pecking against a hard surface. The human brain has no such anatomical protection: ‘God did not make humans to play football’, states Dr Omalu.

But there was also politics and drama here with a ‘David and Goliath’ theme, with the ‘wickedness’ that is corporate America against the rational of proven scientific evidence. For a person to suffer the symptoms of very early dementia and depression to such an extent as to commit suicide, and for the diagnosis of such symptoms to be ignored is a tragedy against humanity.

Being compared to the legal case made against the tobacco companies regarding the ill effects of cigarettes, Concussion could easily have turned very one-sided. I was glad the beauty and grace of the sport was noted – but the obvious effects of multiple head injuries was a sad and hard fact to ignore. Also making me wonder, even though a very different sport, about the injuries being made to the brains of our Aussie Rule footballers.

Although Will Smith was well-cast, I found the science to be the most absorbing and interesting aspect of the film. Perhaps the film would have been more successful as a documentary, to highlight the scientific and political aspects rather than the drama.

But certainly, overall, a well-handled emotive and very interesting and absorbing movie.

 

Deadpool

GoMovieReviews Rating:
deadpoolDirected by: Tim Miller

Written by: Rhett Reese; Paul Wernick

Based on Deadpool by Fabian Nicieza and Rob Liefeld

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, T. J Miller, Gina Carano, Brianna Hildebrand, Stefan Kapičić

With the writer’s being the real hero’s, crutch shots, butt shots and all manner of side remarks, including the mention of Wolverine’s balls from Down Under – yes, I didn’t mind this self-deprecating humour of Deadpool.

First appearing in the Marvel Comic, ‘The New Mutants (#98)’, the history of Deadpool and the X-Men is quickly glossed over in the film, with Deadpool himself mentioning the producer only forking out for two X-Men characters. See here for an article regarding Deadpool’s origins…

The story-line of Deadpool, the movie, is based on Wade (Ryan Reynolds) becoming Deadpool, and his revenge in being made into a monster, and a very unattractive one at that. Rather than living the torturous life of a human mutant slave, Deadpool gets his kill-count up in search for Ajax, AKA Francis (Ed Skrein, yep, the actor who played Daario Naharis in Game of Thrones), who took him away from his lady love, Vanessa (Morena Baccarin). Well, he kinda took himself away but didn’t realise what he was getting himself into.

Don’t expect a PG-type comic movie here. I was a bit surprised by the violence. But the fast-paced action and many bullets to the head, cutting off of hands, broken ankles and general blood spatter helped balance the constant commentary from Deadpool. A little too much, for my taste and as stated by Ajax, certainly ‘a talker’.

A lot of the film was very funny and in addition to creative camera work (Ken Seng as cinematographer), and attention to detail by director, Tim Miller, there’s another dimension to the story: the writer’s using meta fiction where the character is aware that he’s, well, in a story. Deadpool talks to the camera and therefore the audience – breaking the ‘Fourth Wall’. And this gives the film an extra layer and point of difference, allowing a different style of humour into the film.

There was a lot going on and I admit that I missed some of the quips. People have said they’ve gone to watch Deadpool a second time and have picked up more of the jokes. Not that I’d go and watch a second time. As I said, this Deadpool guy talks A LOT.

I have to say, yes it was funny and yes I was entertained, but I would have liked a little more darkness from Deadpool, rather than always the ever flippant. Perhaps I’m showing my age, but the original comic character had more depth and I would have liked to have seen a bit more of this darkness translated to the screen. 

 

YOUTH

GoMovieReviews Rating:
Youth_movieWritten and Directed by: Paolo Sorrentino

Music Composed by: David Lang

Starring: Michael Caine, Rachel Weisz, Harvey Keitel, Jane Fonda, Mădălina Diana Ghenea; Paul Dano.

This is a quirky, life affirming movie that goes deeper than expected: a meandering journey of many moments caught of people coming to terms with their lives.

Opening with a band playing, a close up of a girl singing while slowly revolving with the background of characters blurred, sets up the theme of the film – music being the soundtrack that gives cohesion to the life of the main character, Fred Ballinger (Michael Caine), the retired maestro taking a holiday at a Swedish Health Spa.

After being asked to conduct at Prince Phillip’s birthday at the Queen’s request, the film follows Fred after his refusal, revealing his reason of refusal while showing his character through his interactions with his daughter and assistant, Leda (Rachel Weisz), his best friend, Mick (Harvy Keitel) and the famous actor on holiday, Jimmy Tree (Paul Dano).

The director and writer of this film, Paolo Sorrentino, has created a sensory experience for the audience: Great loves, music, beauty, art, bubbles, the bells around cows’ necks ringing, wild flowers, snow, levitating, hot baths, blood tests, communicating through touch, smoking and sometimes just talking. The character, Mick Boyle (Harvey Keitel), an aging writer and director in conversation with his best friend, Fred, describing the various nude scenes so well: “There’s the ugly, the beautiful and the inbetween who are just cute.”

There were some beautiful truths spoken here. One of many spoken by Mick, “I have to believe everything in order to make things up,” gives a simplicity to the individual experience.

I liked how the film scratched the surface of the mundane to show the real beauty of the pain of life. The pain of growing and struggling to make something of ourselves. The misunderstandings between people.

Many moments of the characters getting to know themselves and others are pieced together into a not always cohesive storyline. The momentum of the film sometimes lost when caught in the space between these moments. But what was lost in cohesion was made up by the beauty of the scenery, well thought-out camera angles and some light cheeky humour.

Not a perfect film but some thought provoking moments, some great dialogue delivered by some great actors.

 

The Hateful Eight

GoMovieReviews Rating:
The Hateful EightWritten and Directed By: 

Quentin Tarantino

Starring: 

Samuel L. Jackson as Major Marquis Warren

Kurt Russell as John ‘The Hangman’

Jennifer Jason Leigh as Daisy Domergue

Tim Roth as Oswarldo Mobray

Michael Madsen as John Gage                         

Walton Goggins as Sheriff Chris Mannix

Bruce Dem as General Sanford Smithers

Demián Bichir as Bob12507479_10153989110359924_2847167535995967292_n[1]

Zoe Bell  as Six-Horse Judy                              

James Parks as O. B Jackson

Original Music Composed and Conducted By: 

Ennio Morricone

Cinematography:

Robert Richardson

Running Time:   

187 min

Set in the middle of a Wyoming winter, a bounty hunter, John, The Hangman (Kurt Russell), is forced to take shelter with his prisoner in Minnie’s Haberdashery, along with six other dubious characters, making a total of 8 hateful (seeming) strangers.

This is a great movie to show in Ultra Panavision 70mm film as it’s all about the snow, the horses and most importantly, the facial expressions of the characters who tell the story.

There’s some amazing dialogue here (particularly well expressed by Walton Goggins as Sheriff Chris Mannix. Boy does Walton have a silver tongue!), but it’s also about what’s left unsaid, what the wink of a bruised eye can express, that words cannot.

Jennifer Jason Leigh’s expressions were so convincing, Daisy Domergue could be mistaken for a reptile disguised as a human.

Director, Quentin Tarantino in an interview on Triple J (18/01/16) described Daisy as, ‘Hiding in plain sight’. Samuel L Jackson playing the part of Major Marquis Warren is shown to be noticing and clocking all that is not right. Tarantino states – ‘Taking it all in and staying silent with his hand on the butt of his gun because he’s in a room full of white people he doesn’t trust’. And with the rich detail of the 70mm film, every expression is captured and shown to the audience.Samuel L Jackson

I liked the Overture with the stark black and red stencilled image of the six-horse drawn stage coach slowly becoming more vivid with the build-up of music composed and conducted by Ennio Morricone. A great way to settle the audience and slowly capture their attention before the beautiful wide screen scene of the image taking life, of the stage coach been driven through the falling snow.

The first 2 hours went by surprisingly quickly. There’s not a lot of action here. But the dialogue between the characters is hugely entertaining. The depth of thought put into the characters: Samuel L. Jackson as Major Marquis Warren, Walton Goggins as Sheriff Chris Mannix and Jennifer Jason Leigh as Daisy Domergue was particularly impressive.  And the not so subtle gallows humour and O. B’s bad luck is gloriously funny.

After the Intermission and release of tension, the buzz in the bathroom, you come back to be taken in for the film’s dramatic conclusion.Quentin Tarantino_autograph

Not for the light-hearted. There are some truly terrible scenes and brain been blown into people’s faces, etc. This is an R rated film for a reason.  Not that I don’t mind a bit of stylised blood and guts.  But the film wasn’t perfect. I wasn’t convinced by the addition of Zoe Bell as Six-Horse Judy with her New Zealander accent… in the middle of Wyoming… in the 1870s… But I was pleasantly surprised by the humour.

The acting and writing of this movie is enough to rate this film highly. The 70mm film, program and special screening are Tarantino showing The Hateful Eight in its absolute best making the viewing an event.

Really, what fun. I’m still smiling.

Products from Amazon.com