So, this month I predominantly watched films at the Sydney Film Festival. I am not going to rank them here as I normally would, because my thoughts on all but a couple can be found in my Diaries (1-3 / 4-5 / 6-8 / 9-12). My five favourite films that I saw during the crazy twelve days were Victoria, Corn Island, Welcome to Leith, Tehran Taxi and Cartel Land. A couple of controversial disappointments: Tangerine and Me & Earl & the Dying Girl.
After Sydney Film Festival I had a bit of a hiatus and didn’t watch films or write much for a while. I took up gaming a lot more – first NBA 2K15, then Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt. The latter has certainly been a big time suck, but it is a fantastic game. We also did some other cultural things too – like see a stage show (Thomas Jordan’s solo act ‘Cleansed in Blood’ – if it comes to your city, I recommend it).
Coming up in July – consistent new release screenings (will try and have a review a week on the site) and the first instalment of the Director of the Month. Check out my thoughts on some June viewing below:
Inside Out – What more can be said. I loved it. Made several false starts at reviewing the film, but couldn’t put the emotions into words. This is one of Pixar’s best I have decided. Beautifully animated (and scored by Giacchino), this is an inventive all family-friendly (inquisitive kids will learn a lot, others might struggle a tad) exploration of the complex chemistry that is human emotion. That’s the feat! Fought off cries throughout. Poehler is sensational from the uniformly strong voice cast. (4.5/5)
Terminator Genisys – Reviewed (3.5/5)
Entourage – It has its moments, but most are them are just fan service for long-time fans of the show. Like me. So, I laughed when I knew no one else was. But, it is a terrible terrible film. Being re-united was glorious for about five minutes, but this film has all of the worst tendencies of the latter seasons of the show and does everything wrong that the show’s critics have been calling out. Still, the roster of cameos are amusing. One of the highlights of the show for me were just how random the famous combinations were. Here there is a moment where Gary Busey talks with ex-NBA player Baron Davis. What a guy to get for this film! Some cameos, like Pharell’s and Armie Hammer’s are…embarrassing. Oh, and the use of music…blergh. (2/5)
Jurassic World – Full of cheek, then displays the worst money-grab tendencies (including the most disgusting use of product placement in a film, perhaps ever*). Worst, it forgets to be fun. Obnoxiously self-aware on blinkers and obsessed with defending its seemingly-manufactured flaws through its script, JW favours jump scares and brutal kills over awe-inspiring ‘family’ escapism. It obliterates the wonderment of the first film and the hologram dinosaurs strip away any tension. Worse the further I get away from it. When I think I am clear, it breaks another BO record. Objects in this mirror are closer than they appear. (1.5/5)
New at Home
Winnebago Man – The experience of watching this film, in my friend’s comfy private theatre, is every bit as great as the documentary itself. Pure entertainment throughout, but with a profound resolution. All viral Youtube videos have a story. Almost all of those stories should be thrown in the ‘who cares’ basket. Here’s one that was pursued the right way. (4/5)
Welcome to Me – Fairly thin, but an interesting study of a personality disorder and the blurry line between supporting public exhibitionism as a mode of healing, and the exploitation of someone for monetary gain. Every comic moment is singed at the edges with sadness and dread, which makes it awkward and uncomfortable at times. A showcase for Kristen Wiig (good, but in too much stuff right now?), but I think Wes Bentley should be in more things. (2.5/5)
Beauty and the Beast – Not even Lea Seydoux, who is lovely, could keep me interested for long here. Expensive production, and you have to wonder…why? (2.5/5)
Eyes Wide Shut – One of the greatest films ever made. (5/5)
Sense 8 E 1-11 – The Wachowski siblings are back with what is essentially a quintessential 10-hour Wachowski siblings film. This season doesn’t play by the episodic-TV rules, with the cliffhanger endings. Each episode simply ends, allowing pause and reflection before the next chapter starts. It is pretty obviously a blend of Cloud Atlas and Heroes – eight international characters (of refreshingly diverse gender, race and sexuality), are linked by a phenomenon and find themselves under threat, learning to team up together as they try and understand their shared consciousness and emotion, and eventually their ability to share space. The Wachowski’s write and direct most of the episodes, but a few are directed by Tom Tykwer (who co-directed on Cloud Atlas and also works on the excellent score here). Some of the dialogue is rubbish, and the hammy acting from some of the supporting cast is distracting, but the editing between the stories is especially terrific. The casting of the core eight, and some of the prominent supporting cast, is also very good. One of my favourite shows of the year. It is ambitious, it is thrilling, and it is addictive. So far. We still have one episode to go. Please don’t mess it up. (4/5)
Two shows pending from two months ago. I really am terrible with TV – House of Cards S3 E1-8 & Daredevil S1 E1-2.
*I watched Ruben Guthrie last night. Gives Jurassic World a run for its money on that product placement claim.