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  • Shin Godzilla

    Shin Godzilla 2016

    Watched 18 Oct, 2016

    Shin Godzilla is pretty good albeit in an odd duck way. It's only peripherally a disaster movie. That's not to say it doesn't utilise Godzilla as a metaphor for nuclear destruction. There's a moment of grand tragedy that is utterly heartbreaking and its ending is quietly chilling. However such moments merely establish stakes; the meat of the film is, of all things, an unabashed celebration of bureaucracy.

    Granted it celebrates a particular kind of bureaucracy. Before the heroes can work…

  • We Are the Best!

    We Are the Best! 2013

    Watched 25 Sep, 2016

    Boys ruin everything. Even good movies.

  • Tokyo Tribe

    Tokyo Tribe 2014

    Watched 16 Apr, 2016

    It would take booming sound system and an excitable crowd to drown out Tokyo Tribe's multitude of sins which I suppose is how it got by. It's often described and promoted as a hip hop musical but that's a bit like calling a pantomime a Shakespeare play. Hardly any of the performers could be reasonably described as competent rappers and I defy any of Tokyo Tribe's fans to recall a single beat from the film. That's to say nothing of…

  • Spotlight

    Spotlight 2015

    Watched 23 Mar, 2016

    As professional and reliable in its style as its characters are in their vocation.

  • Hail, Caesar!

    Hail, Caesar! 2016

    Watched 23 Mar, 2016

    Hail, Ceasar! works just fine as a That's Entertainment style compilation of movie magic but unfortunately the Coens were compelled (probably by dirty capitalist incentives) to add something as gauche as a story to their celebration. So this thing is saddled with a perfunctory plot that nonetheless feels more convoluted than it ought to be and characters literally declaring the divinity of motion pictures even though the Berkeley-esque mermaid routine and its like get the message across just fine. Let's…

  • The Boy and the Beast

    The Boy and the Beast 2015

    ★★★½ Watched 06 Mar, 2016

    The Boy and The Beast strains a little too hard for its effect - the metaphors just start piling up like a train wreck towards the end - but it manages to be affecting anyhow. I particularly like the way it emphasis the difference between its two worlds by way of formal techniques. The "real world" scenes are often given a distorted security camera effect, bright lights are emphasised and 3D effects are often employed. In contrast the beast world is comparatively rustic - not just in it's mise en scène but also in its lack of such formal flash.

  • The Dressmaker

    The Dressmaker 2015

    Watched 09 Dec, 2015

    The Dressmaker is so naked in its contempt of its imagined small town Australia - from which no one escapes unless they're in a bodybag or haute couture - that it seems improbable that more reviews don't seem to have tackled this aspect of it head-on. Once the poison is out of the bottle the film's various caricatures seem less like grating but well-intentioned quirk and more like hateful send-ups. I'm not going to argue that small towns can't be…

  • Ex Machina

    Ex Machina 2015

    Watched 06 Oct, 2015

    Ex Machina is the kind of science fiction movie that hammers home Solaris' point: Any attempt to study or imagine the in- or post-human is doomed to collapse into yet more navel gazing.

    Ex Machina is a decent film about a very particular masculine delusion. Namely the god complex as it manifests in youthful technology professionals. Call it Frankenstein 2.0. Unfortunately it fails utterly when attempting to depict an artificial intelligence: the best it can imagine is something yearning and…

  • The Gift

    The Gift 2015

    Watched 05 Oct, 2015

    The Gift is an efficient, machine tooled film in which not a second is wasted and every detail is essential. As a result it feels more than a little airless. That's a fault I could forgive - if it's end purpose was a little more ambitious or if it was more interesting on a moment to moment basis.

  • Phoenix

    Phoenix 2014

    Watched 11 Jun, 2015

    The rare holocaust film that attempts to convey its impact beyond immediate terror and broken bodies. Which is not to say it's a state of the nation address although it includes that aspect too. it's occasionally a little too blunt for its own good. Pheonix happens to be the name of a bar in the film and Hoss' character explicitly remarks that the the process of pretending to be herself is helping her reclaim her pre-trauma identity in a way…

  • The Assassin

    The Assassin 2015

    Watched 14 Jun, 2015

    Seeing as everyone has an opinion about this now (courtesy of TIFF) I decided to stitch together some of my SFF tweets into something almost coherent:

    One of the really neat things about THE ASSASSIN is its sound design. It's very quiet - even in action scenes. But violent blows - fists, arrows and blades striking - are very loud. It makes the violence feel abnormal and very aggressive even though there's virtually no visible blood. It's a choice that contributes to its rhythm of long periods of plotting, spying and regretting interrupted by brief, furious bursts of violence.

  • Spring

    Spring 2014

    Watched 10 Sep, 2015

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    Cleverly locates romance in biochemistry and history but, like its fumbling hero, reaches a little too hard for profundity.

    It also fails to get beyond the hurdle of how to characterise an immortal (or at the least a very long lived person) and falls back on the usual solution: An otherwise ordinary person with a great deal of knowledge and skills.