RSS feed for Michael
  • 30 Minutes or Less 2011

    Added

    Director Ruben Fleischer demonstrates that Zombieland was little more than a fluke by producing this mind numbingly terrible comedy about a pizza delivery guy who is forced to rob a bank. To quote a review from Time’s Richard Corliss: “For a soul-sucking 83 minutes, you’re trapped inside the film’s tiny, ugly mind”. Just awful. It’s rubbish like this that is driving people away from the theaters.

  • 50/50 2011

    ★★★½ Added

    The prospect of watching a 27-year-old guy (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) progress from a cancer diagnosis through to an eventual outcome is surely nobody’s idea of a good time in the theatre. The partial solution is to feature Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air) as the love interest and Seth Rogen for comedic lift. The outcome is unfortunately unbalanced and does not add up to much. Some aspects fall flat and others are manipulative and predictable. However, there’s enough good stuff and bittersweet performances to make it worthwhile.

  • A Separation 2011

    ★★★★★ Added

    The critics are largely unanimous that this is the film of the year. I find no cause for dispute - this is an exceptionally well made and thought provoking family drama. While the core thread of the story may be considered somewhat unique to Iran the, themes of morality and virtues are universal. The tagline ‘ugly truth, sweet lies’ really captures the essence of a film that goes further than simply explore the cultural roles within modern Iranian society, it…

  • Biutiful 2010

    ★★★★ Added

    Alejandro González Iñárritu’s much anticipated followup to the Oscar nominated Babel. You already know going in that it’s going to be grim viewing, with Javier Bardem playing a man dying of cancer, his broken family life and the Barcelona underworld in which he scrapes together a living. The outlook is bleak in every facet of his existence and the many threads of this film combine to create a meditation that turns back to how we are living our lives and…

  • Black Bread 2010

    ★★★★ Added

    A dark tale of the social impact the Civil War had on the lives of people in a Catalonian village as told through the eyes of a young boy who is trying to make sense of the stories and fables he hears from the adults. Some great performances, particularly from the wide-eyed young lead. The story unravels at a nice pace and while the complexity of the plot lost me a few times, it all came together at the end. Totally cleaned up at both the 2011 Goya Awards and (not surprisingly, the Gaudí Awards).

  • Carancho 2010

    ★★★★ Added

    An original crime drama out of Argentina and starring Ricardo Darín - who seems to have been in every Argentinian film I’ve ever seen (and all first rate watching). This time Darín plays an anti-hero who is involved in setting up auto insurance shakedowns. He meets a young doctor and an unlikely love story evolves. The tone is beautifully dark, like a modern noir, and the complex character relationships are fascinating viewing as they grapple with the sense of hopelessness that is closing in on them.

  • Carnage 2011

    ★★★½ Added

    Set inside a New York apartment, two couples meet over a schoolyard tussle involving their sons. This is classic Polanski material as he analyses what lurks beneath and the characters primal motives. It's a cynical take on liberalism and the hypocrisy in contemporary society. Good performances from Foster, Waltz and Reilly - not so great from Winslet.

  • Cave of Forgotten Dreams 2010

    ★★★★ Added

    First off, this really didn’t need to be in 3D. Handheld 3D is surely an experiment we can file under failed attempt at creativity. But thankfully Werner Herzog’s latest film, where he once again plays documentarian, has so much more to offer. The subject matter is spellbinding - an exploration of the Chauvet caves in Southern France which contain the oldest known pictorial creations of humankind. Every aspect of their origin and meaning is explored. It’s not until the last chapter that we are given a more contemplative view of the cave walls, and I’m still in awe. Remarkable.

  • Cobra Verde 1987

    ★★★★½ Added

    The last of Herzog’s collaborations with Klaus Kinski sees Kinski play a bandit named Cobra Verde who gets banished from a Brazillian plantation by the owner and sent to Africa in order to supervise his slaves. Critics haven’t been too kind to the early scenes set on plantation - they are right though, it’s a bit of a mess. But the events that follow, which see Kinski running wild with his character, make this essential viewing. Like many of Herzog’s greats, there is minimal coherent narrative to get in the way of the on screen grandeur. He shoots with passion and without imposing his moral judgement.

  • Drive 2011

    ★★★★½ Added

    Quite simply, this is a great LA movie. The more knowledge of this style of cinema you bring to it, the more you get out of it. Not just highly stylized and sophisticated eye candy - this is well written yet calculated for mainstream appeal. It’s best of genre stuff, and the first must-see film of the year for me.

  • Elite Squad: The Enemy Within 2010

    ★★★★ Added

    Jose Padilha's ambitious followup is once again a brutal and intense mix of action and political thrills on the streets of Rio. Thirteen years has passed and in this time a new form of corruption far worse than gangs threatens society. Seemingly on a crusade to expose the real world injustices, Padilha portrays everyone as corrupt or corruptible and the mechanisms that protect this state. Domestically it was a box office smash, taking the record for a locally produced film in Brazil.

  • Essential Killing 2010

    ★★★★ Added

    If you’ve spanned as much time as I have watching Vincent Gallo then you’ll know his acting style is frequently constructed of minimal dialogue and authentic anguish. In Polish auteur Jerzy Skolimowski’s latest film these talents are well suited as Gallo plays a man on the run who is taken to the physical limits in order to survive. It’s only a minor plot point that he plays a Taliban terrorist fighter, the real story is about instinct, isolation and one man’s struggle in uninhabitable surroundings.