It's often said the simplest stories are often the most compelling… MoreIt's often said the simplest stories are often the most compelling when told the right way, and Stories We Tell is likely one of the most extraordinary films about family, love, choices and memories you'll see. Polley delicately unspools the tapestry of her mothers life through the stories from the friends and family who knew her, capturing the revelatory emotions and reactions without any hint of sensationalism, often through captured home video footage.
It's perhaps too matter-of-fact at times, but the real treat is Polley's ability to seamlessly segue between the real and the fictional in her what she shows on screen interspersed with the memories being shared here. Her distorting of memory and fact is so subtle and presented so absorbingly that her ability to manipulate her own personal work and still tell the story she wants becomes even more intriguing as the film progresses.
The result is a work of pure genius; deftly adhering to her own families uncertainty of Polley sharing her personal family story in this way, while still maintaining some of that mystery, as well as perhaps inadvertently making a statement on an audience's' willingness to take documentary form at face value.
It would be easy to criticise Polley's cold unravelling of the facts here, and that she uses her own family drama as a foil for a grander discussion on the morality of choices, memories, truth and lies. But we all have stories to tell, and everyone comes away with a alternative perspective, which is what makes Stories We Tell such a fascinating journey from start to finish.
Unless you already get it, its difficult to understand the appeal of… MoreUnless you already get it, its difficult to understand the appeal of the glamorous lifestyle the disaffected youth in The Bling Ring crave. Still, writer/directors Sofia Coppola has managed to capture the superficialities well, and there is a craft in making something that is so dull seem exciting in film; which is clearly her point, and she's successful in that. It does come a little of a catch-22 in that its a tough sell to anyone who doesn't buy into what's being offered here with the wafer thin plot. But like the world the world these kids will steal from, Coppola delivers a film that is as deliberately as shallow as it is is somehow strangely alluring in celluloid form. She paints her exploitative pseudo-docu-drama in her typically airy visual flourishes; perfectly suited to a plot that embraces the dream lifestyle of the rich and famous through the eyes of the LA youth. Her narrative manages to lay down the events straight as they unfold, but almost inadvertently keeps our attention through the brazen acts of her band of kleptomaniacs. The young cast assembled here serve her well here; embracing and embellishing her dialogue to great effect. It's difficult to work out Coppola's exact intentions here, which does add to The Bling Ring's mystique, but its certainly not as provocative as she may have intended. Thankfully its short running times keeps this in good graces for fans of Sofia and the cast who make the most out of what could arguably be a much meatier story.
There is plenty to love about directors Mickle's twist slow burn… MoreThere is plenty to love about directors Mickle's twist slow burn gothic horror-drama. Excellent performances, particularly from his young cast, a brilliant eye for beautiful, often arresting, visuals, and a crafty ability to play with the genre conventions to great effect. Particularly in his finale, which quickly falls into gorgeous arthouse horror. Be warned; Mickle's deceptive bait-and-switch will test the constitutions of many unsuspectingly decieved viewers with a decidedly stomach-churning finale.
Its a delicious mix of gloss and gross, but it lacks the serious grindhouse gore that horror fundamentalists love. So there is no doubt its going to split audiences.
Which isn't surprising either; much of this looks like a Terrance Malick film smashed into parts of both Stoker and Martha Marcy May Marlene; a heady mix of excellent individual parts coming together to form a delicious whole. Much like the title of the movie itself, We Are What We Are is happy to present itself as it is; take it or leave it!
Director Harry Rubin is anything but subtle with Disconnect, a… MoreDirector Harry Rubin is anything but subtle with Disconnect, a fragmented Crash-esque criss-crossing of characters struggling with the pitfalls of internet and social media. The intertwining of various stories, ranging from cyber bullying to online scams, is far too obvious for a film that is outwardly expressing its ironic cynicism at how disconnected we all are in this highly connected world.
Still, the representations of each story when taken individually are actually quite compelling. Screenwriter Andrew Stern effectively plumbs the more common criticisms of the online microcosm and distils them into his characters worlds with destructive effects that wouldn't look out of place outside of the cinema. Interestingly, Disconnect conveniently reminds us in its finale that an increasingly online world doesn't offer up many happy endings; a warning that many won't get closure here they may well be hoping for.
It's never quite as provocative as it thinks it is, but Rubin's adequate direction and some great performances from his cast give Disconnect a sheen of credibility that makes this worthwhile.
Considering the insane volume of animal/food puns the writers came up… MoreConsidering the insane volume of animal/food puns the writers came up with to populate this sequel to the effortlessly quirky original outing, you would think they could have come up with a better name for this than just taking on a 2 to the original title. But don't let that lapse of judgement ruin and otherwise excellent entry to this budding new franchise.
The usual forte of bright colours, interesting, funny characters and an easy to engage narrative keeps this cheerful family flick humming along perfectly throughout. A solid hit rate of gags, both visual and verbal, both for kids and adults, come thick and fast, and are delivered with great success. It may lack the same degree of whimsy and spontaneity the first film had, and there is no missing the writers ramming home the moral undertones much more strongly here. But there is still tons of fun to be had, and for fans of the first movie, this is more of the same.
If you only see one movie this years that features a man with a demon… MoreIf you only see one movie this years that features a man with a demon living in his ass, make it Bad Milo. You do have to wonder exactly what kind of mind comes up with an idea like this, but there is an amusing stroke of ingenuity to what is delivered here. Surprisingly, writer/directors Jacob Vaughn dispenses with the obvious bum jokes and actually delivers a shrewdly balanced comedy with serious undertones. Marino does well to entertain this insanity as Duncan, showcasing his often underestimated propensity for blending comedy with seriousness. He holds the film up as well as can be expected alongside his gremlin alter-ego. Expectedly though, the rest of the cast often merely serve as catalysts fir Duncan's varying levels of stress and little else. There is no denying Bad Milo is clearly destined for cult status. And rightly so; Milo looks cheap and nasty, but the effect is brilliant realised consider its low budget aesthetics. Add to that a lean running time, and the lack of a huge amount of deliver laughs means the gags that are here work pretty well more of the time. The result is that for a movie about an ass monster, Bad Milo as a whole inexplicably works more often than it doesn't also.
Clearly Wan and Whannell lucked out with their entertaining if not… MoreClearly Wan and Whannell lucked out with their entertaining if not overly original first chapter. Of course, the law of successes in Hollywood means the inevitable sequel is churned out to cash in on the audience willing to take another trip down the same rabbit hole. So here, the story continues, but the scares are absent. Which makes this supposed horror movie not so. Thankfully Whannell keeps the self-referential jokey jabs close at hand to give this a much needed kick up the behind to keep the audience from falling asleep.
Europa Report succeeds the seemingly impossible; a technically… MoreEuropa Report succeeds the seemingly impossible; a technically accurate film that refreshingly gravitates on the side of science than fiction. The lack of a well-known cast certainly help anchor the seriousness of its intentions as well, allowing the story to unfold with undue celebrity distractions. The low budget unfortunately means not-so special effects, but the results, while at times jarring, are surprisingly mostly always effective for the story being told here. It is a shame the finale does flip into the more fictional side of sci-fi film lore, but Europa Report soars when its reveling in the science; a rare treat in this often neglected genre of filmmaking.
Gravity is the unquestionably the most impressive display of special… MoreGravity is the unquestionably the most impressive display of special effects work you will see in modern cinema. Akin to Kubrick's groundbreaking work in 2001, what Cuaron presents here is unparalleled technical dexterity of incredible calibre. Like Kubrick, he has redefined what is possible in filmmaking and made it accessible to all audiences. While it's certainly gorgeous to look at, Cuaron also manages to successfully ratchet up a thrilling, often devastating, and seemingly unstoppable level of tension and edge-of-your seat thrills. Its an impossible combination that would normally stretch believability, and still does to a degree, but never to breaking point. Bullock too deserves kudos for managing to hold the entire film on her shoulders successfully. She is still the weaker link, but its through no fault of her own; Cuaron's dialogue that she and Clooney share is a little heavy handed at times. But the dialogue is minimal anyway, and you'd be hard pressed to find someone to fault the film too harshly on this point. She more deserves plenty of praise for taking on easily one of the most physically difficult roles, and delivering it with exceptionally weighted emotional pathos. Hands down, this is one of the very best films of the year; a technical achievement uncomparable, a heart-stoppingly intense double-handed display of beauty and true terror in one truly sumptuous, awe-inspiring, genre defining film. Cuaron, start writing your loooong overdue Best Director Oscar speech now.
The one thing about Brian De Palma's original that I always struggled… MoreThe one thing about Brian De Palma's original that I always struggled with was being able to take it seriously, and this serviceable but mostly pointless contemporary re-do still feels much the same. Carrie is interestingly unique in that it holds back on its true intentions until the infamous "all-hell-breaks-loose" finale, but the fact it continues to be marketed as a horror film when its mostly anything but seems redundant.
Of course it doesn't help when your cast is hopelessly miscast to the point of distraction. The very talented Moretz flounders as the socially awkward, introverted Carrie. Credit to her admirable efforts to sell this as best she can, but it is impossible to believe her here. Moore is better as Carrie's unstable mother; her slightly more sympathetic take on the character is one of the film's few highlights.
Interestingly, its almost impossible not to draw comparisons to similarly themed Let Me In, ironically also starring Moretz in a similar role. While it too is a remake, it's a vastly superior movie depicting the destructive effects of bullying and strained family dynamics, delivering a more subtle, nuanced film that balances all these ideas with well actually well constructed horror. It never feels churned out of the Hollywood machine for cheap scares like this remake does.
The result here is, like its socially awkward teen protagonist, the movie itself just feels misplaced and outcast amongst today's edgy horror films. De Palma's original may have had its issues, but this a far stretch from being anything more than snooze compared to the classic on which its based.