Sep 292016
 

magnificent-seven-2016-cast

Now here is a big-budget Western that genuinely feels epic. The latest film from Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, Southpaw), from a screenplay by Nic Pizzolatto (True Detective) and Richard Wenk, is an update of a re-make. John Sturges 1960 film of the same name was an all-star old-west style re-make of Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece, The Seven Samurai (1954). But Fuqua’s effort manages to overcomes the obvious risks of being immediately redundant, being lent a surprising level of distinction with enough touches of genre masters Sergio Leone and Sam Peckinpah. Find out after the jump why this entertaining and genuinely thrilling shoot-em-up is worthy of a cinema visit.

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Sep 042016
 

arrival

With the Blockbuster season all-but over, typically the Australian Spring months offer up less anticipated, but usually more interesting films. Typically, they include a higher volume of smaller productions (no box-office giants to compete with), and higher-quality international films and documentaries. This year we are privileged to have new films from Paul Verhoeven, David Mackenzie, Amma Assante, Mel Gibson, Andrea Arnold and Denis Villeneuve, amongst others. We’ve picked 12 we’re particularly looking forward to seeing, check them out after the jump.

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Sep 042016
 

Big-Trouble-in-Little-China-Jack-Burton-Kurt-Russell-Henry-Swanson

August was quite a tough month so I busied myself with work and found comfort in films. I ended up watching 33, another hefty amount, from a whole assortment of different periods and genres. Dark Horizons’ Garth Franklin set me a viewing challenge before the end of the year – ten ’80s/’90s classics shamefully on my blindspot list. Amongst the ones I have checked off so far: Wargames, Big Trouble in Little China and They Live. 

I also caught up on quite a few films I missed in cinemas (The Meddler, Maggie’s Plan, Miles Ahead and Mia Madre included). Incredibly, this month includes not a single episode of TV.

My favourite books this month were Poirot & Me, David Suchet’s fascinating autobiography about portraying Agatha Christie’s iconic Belgian detective on TV for a quarter of a century, and Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, soon to be adapted into a TV series. If you haven’t watched the trailer things are looking promising.

Thoughts on some of the films I watched in August after the jump.

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Aug 182016
 

The Shallows Duo

The Shallows is the latest film from Spanish director Jaume Collet-Serra (Orphan, Non-Stop), who has developed a loyal fan-base with his ability to liven-up the tired tropes of mass-appeal genre films. After a trio of Liam Neeson-led shoot-em-up action entries (including the pretty decent Non-Stop, which was effectively an Agatha-Christie-on-a plane) he returns to horror, where he last worked in 2009 with the underrated Orphan. In what is perhaps his best film to date – on the simplest terms Jaws meets 127 Hours – he tells a gripping and visually arresting survival story of a desperate but determined woman clinging to glimpses of hope, and using her substantial wits and capabilities to fix and manoeuvre her injured body, and navigate the safe havens at her disposal. With a game, intense performance from Lively, and some vicious shark take-downs this is a particularly strong entry in the oft-tried sub-genre.

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Aug 092016
 

ghostbusters

July was the month that I decided to take a step back from cinema. It’s not that I love movies any less, it’s just that after 4+ years of regularly attending screenings/festivals and writing about movies, I really need a break. I am still watching films, but only those films I really want to (no obligation viewings for me), but I am not really writing at the moment. I have to admit it’s kind of freeing, particularly considering how sub-par this blockbuster season has been. I suspect Spring and the increase of indies at the cinema might just get my writing juices flowing again. My round-up of my July viewing is after the jump.

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Aug 062016
 

jasonbourne

After vowing that they were done with the Bourne films, Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass are back with yet another Jason Bourne movie called, um, Jason Bourne. Arriving after a stellar trilogy of Damon-led films and a sole experiment with Jeremy Renner, Jason Bourne had the potential to be another gripping instalment in the life of everyone’s favourite amnesiac superspy. What was delivered has instead fallen far short of what came before, including the Damon-less The Bourne Legacy which at least made an admirable attempt at innovation. My review of Jason Bourne is after the jump.
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Aug 012016
 

the-long-goodbye-21

You may have seen an announcement that Sam and I made a few weeks back. We are significantly trimming back the content on An Online Universe, as a result of various influences that are limiting our time, and affecting our inspiration to write.

I have simply not had the time or the energy to review the films I am seeing, or write much about anything. I did, however, watch quite a lot of movies. Almost entirely home viewing – a mix of DTV titles, 2016 catch-up, and a few recommended ’80s and ’90s classics. I ended up watching 31 films, and 11 episodes of TV (including the entire season of Stranger Things).

I spent many hours gaming this month – completing Witcher 3: Wild Hut and starting and finishing Uncharted 4, two of the greatest games I have ever experienced. I read Dan Brown’s Inferno – average, what you’d expect from Brown but conceptually thinner and less inspired than his earlier best-sellers – Presumed Innocent – an exceptional psychological whodunit that was adapted into a 1990 film starring Harrison Ford – and three Agatha Christie novels: Three Act Tragedy, Nemesis and Curtain. My next challenge is American Gods, in preparation of the upcoming TV series.

Album of the year update: things are getting quite crowded at the top. 2016 is becoming perhaps my favourite year for music since 2010. In order of discovery, here are my current top 10 albums of the year so far:

Malibu – Anderson .Paak

D-J-Kicks – Moodymann

The Life of Pablo – Kanye West

Singing Saw – Kevin Morby

Paradise – White Lung

A Moon Shaped Pool – Radiohead

The Colour in Anything – James Blake

The Glowing Man – Swans

2 – Mudcrutch

Love and Hate – Michael Kiwanuka

After the jump, check out my thoughts on all of my fresh viewing for the month.  Continue reading »

Jul 212016
 

startrek

Opinion has been sharply divided over the two rebooted Star Trek films spearheaded by J.J Abrams. Many long-term fans of the sci-fi behemoth have been underwhelmed, dismissing the films as action films set in space. Others with less investment in the property, myself included, have found great enjoyment in them for precisely the same reason.
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