Archive for January, 2015

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Big Hero 6 (Don Hall/Chris Williams, 2014)

January 30, 2015

Big-Hero-6

Set in gorgeously-designed futuristic city San Fransokyo, the world of Disney superhero animation Big Hero 6 is one big mishmash of Asian and American cultures – more Joss Whedon’s Firefly than Whedon’s monocultural The Avengers.

Japanese-American lead Hiro (Potter) is a teenage tech genius squandering his skills in illegal underground hustling, until his similarly brilliant older brother Tadashi (Henney) puts him on a more productive collegiate path. Tragedy strikes after Hiro’s entrance exam, however, and the young lad’s world is turned upside down by (spoiler alert) his brother’s death via a mysterious university fire…

Click for the full review for The Skinny

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Kingsman: The Secret Service (Matthew Vaughn, 2014)

January 28, 2015

Kingsman

Reuniting the director, chief screenwriter and source material scribe of Kick-Ass (Matthew Vaughn, Jane Goldman and Mark Millar respectively), Kingsman: The Secret Service is similarly concerned with cartoonish hyper-violence and lame shock tactic vulgarity. It too has the sense of humour of the stereotypical straight teenage male, and also takes the form of a boneheaded “subversion” of a beloved action subgenre (superheroes last time, spy fiction this time). It’s largely insufferable…

Click for the full review for The Skinny

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Two for the Road (Stanley Donen, 1967)

January 27, 2015

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Viewed through a contemporary prism, one might pithily describe 1967’s Two for the Road as being like the entire Beforetrilogy compacted into one feature, as filtered through the style of the French New Wave. Arriving the same year as the similarly FNW-inspired Bonnie and Clyde, Stanley Donen’s film feels just as potent a tearaway from the fading Hollywood studio system, and arguably a greater upheaval in that it came from someone who thrived in that system for two decades prior (Singin’ in the Rain, Charade)…

Click for the full DVD review for The Skinny

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Mortdecai (David Koepp, 2015)

January 25, 2015

Mortdecai

Seemingly late in the game of David Koepp’s Mortdecai, the eponymous character (played by Johnny Depp) asks his wife, “Are you quite finished with your barrage of insults?” It’s an apt question for the film itself, a cataclysmically unfunny, unbelievably tedious disaster of baffling misjudgments and multiple career lows that feels as long as Shoah, and only a little less harrowing. No such luck, though, as the film goes on for another 25 minutes. It then ends on people about to throw up. Also apt…

Click for the full review for Sound On Sight

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The Boxtrolls (Graham Annable/Anthony Stacchi, 2014)

January 24, 2015

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An adaptation of Alan Snow’s novel Here Be Monsters!, stop-motion animation The Boxtrolls is a comedic fable set in and under a Victorian-era town whose misguided residents have obsessions concerning wealth, class and cheese. One power-hungry opportunist, pest exterminator Archibald Snatcher (Kingsley, clearly having fun), sees his ticket to high society in eradicating a group of subterranean creatures he promotes as threats to the town. In reality, these Boxtrolls (who wear cardboard boxes like turtle shells) are kind-hearted, harmless scavengers, who’ve actually been raising an orphaned human boy who begins to suspect he’s not quite like his adopted brethren.

Click for the full DVD review for The Skinny

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Paddington (Paul King, 2014)

January 17, 2015

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A big screen, CG-assisted adaptation of Michael Bond’s beloved Paddington Bear book series could have gone so horribly wrong, becoming yet another offender in the line-up of pandering kids-aimed film atrocities like Yogi Bear, Garfield, and The Smurfs. Thankfully made with clear love for the material and smart execution from writer-director Paul King, Paddington is instead a welcome breath of fresh air in a family film market that, a couple of key talents aside, is increasingly built on too easy, self-aware smugness (the Shrek influence), garish excess, and empty, cheap laughs. Its producer, David Heyman, spearheaded the Harry Potter franchise, and Paddington is the best live-action family film since the highs of that series. And it may well be better than all of them…

Click for the full review for Sound On Sight

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Programme Notes: Foxcatcher (Bennett Miller, 2014)

January 12, 2015

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I was commissioned to write a programme note for Glasgow Film Theatre for their screenings of Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher during January. You can find an online copy of what I produced for them here.