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What’s It About:

Man I hate dinner parties. Sitting around making small talk, passing the peas, watching with deep apathy as that couple whose relationship is on the rocks makes little passive aggressive jabs at each other throughout the entire meal. There hasn’t been a single dinner party I’ve attended when I haven’t wished for a group of psychos wearing animal masks to burst in and start murdering everybody. So I’m jealous of the characters of You’re Next, as that is exactly what happens to their dinner party.

The Good:

The film starts off as a run of the mill Home invasion film, and you’re shuffling in your seat during the pre credits sequence with the inescapable feeling that you’ve seen this shit a thousand times before. But once the film hits it’s stride, your treated to a sequence of pleasant surprises, as the characters, dialogue, set pieces, and general plot turn out to be way smarter than you were giving the film credit for.

The Bad:

I mentioned a lacklustre opening scene – it’s pretty uninspiring, an almost direct rip off from the opening of Scream. I feel like I’m giving the Film Makers too much credit when I say that this false start was a clever ruse to get us off our guard, so I’m logging it as a bad point.

The Final Word:

Solid Horror. It’s caused me to seek out more of Simon Barrat and Adam Wingard’s work, and so far I have not been disappointed.

stoker

What’s It About:

India Stoker is a strange girl, made even more flakier by the fact that her father has gone and died a few days shy of her 18th birthday. She’s getting no help from her stressed and distant mother (Nicole Kidman, playing “Distraught Mom” for the 50th time in her career). Her strange world is made even quirkier by the appearance of her Uncle Charlie – a charismatic man with a mysterious past, and a distant look in his eyes like he’s seen some shit. Or about to cause some shit. You know, eyes like this:

crazy eyes

The Good:

I have never been enamoured with Mia Wasikowska’s acting ability, having last seen her in the bloodied toilet paper that was Alice in Wonderland. But her emotionless and flaky persona is perfect for the character of India Stoker. Mathew Goode does a great “creepy uncle”.

The story is a gothic and moody one, creating a great sense of dread with it’s atmospherics.

The Bad:

The film is at times a bit lacking – succumbing to a case of style over substance, which is a shame as the film reaches some suspenseful peaks.

Also:

Stoker was written by Prison Break’s Wentworth Miller. This little titbit of information might come up in a pub quiz some day. But probably not.

The Final Word:

Do you like gothic unsettling drama? Weirdo. Watch this film.

Four_S copy

weretm

What’s It About:

A Drug Dealer must create a fake family in order to smuggle weed over the Mexican Border. Jennifer Aniston pops in to remind us all that yes, she’s still alive and is still acting.

The Good:

Jason Sudeikis has really come into his own of recent, and has a great comedic presence when given the right material. We’re the Millers graciously allows him to shine for the first half of the film, as he pulls off the charismatic sarcastic slacker with ease.

The Bad:

I said Sudeikis nailed the first half of the film, that’s because he has barely anything to do in the second half. At about the midway point, the film reveals the principle of the tale and then rubs it in our fucking faces: the importance of family, and the film’s “feels” subsequently replace the “gags”. As such, this film suffers severely from a malady common to a lot of modern comedies:

handbrake

Next complaint: If the covers of Women’s Weekly magazine at my local Newsagency tell me anything, it’s that Jeniffer Aniston never really got over Brad Pitt dumping her for Angelina Jolie, kicking off some kind of dreary mid life crisis. I wonder if this is why there is a new clause in her contract demanding that every new role must be that of a sultry sexpot (see also: Horrible Bosses 1 and 2). When she breaks out into an impromptu strip tease in a warehouse scene in Millers, I know I’m supposed to turn to the person sitting next to me and say “Man…Jennifer has still got it. Can you believe she’s in her mid 40s!?!” But to be perfectly honest, I didn’t even like her in the 1990’s – let alone this scary new cougar-tramp mutated version. If she started giving me a lap dance, I’d probably spray a can of insect repellent in her face until she left me alone.

On a final note: I get a bit pissed when a studio puts fuck all effort film into a film, and then surgically grafts in familiar characters from popular entities to smooth over the rough spots. The creators of Millers deemed it fit to gank characters wholesale from The Office, Parks and Recreation, and Saturday Night Live. But fuck, I’ve already ranted about this lazy tactic in July’s section (see: nostajizz), so we’ll leave it at that.

The Final Word:

Overheard a workmate raving about how funny this film was. If you knew the fucking dimwits I worked with, you’d know that was not a ringing endorsement.

2

kickass2

What’s it About:

The continuing adventures of the Super Hero Kick-Ass, and his mentor Hit Girl – a psychotically violent vigilante who spends her days maiming and murdering, and yet still remains not quite as scary as the Russian chick I lived with in London.

The Good:

A colourful collection of both Heroes and Villains fill the screen, and there are some decent action set pieces.

Jim Carrey has shown up in so much drudge lately, that it’s easy to forget the fucker can act when he puts his mind to it. He has an almost unrecognizable role as General Stars, and nails the performance.

The Bad:

The first Kick-Ass succeeded when it broke away from the darker aspects of it’s source material and created a more exhilarating experience in the process. Sadly, the sequel tried to emulate the process to it’s own detriment – dropping a lot of the better scenes from the comic book. The film kind of flounders along, never really picking up momentum for the big Super Power showdown finish (which itself is anticlimactic at best).

But the real failure can’t actually be helped – the eternal problem of adapting comic book stories, is that the characters are mostly locked in time, remaining the same age for each story. Hit Girl is fascinating as a ten year old vigilante, an age she stayed throughout the trilogy of Kick Ass books. She was brought wonderfully to life by a young Chloe Moretz in the original Kick-Ass. Unfortunately, Moretz was in her late teens by the time Kick Ass 2 started filming, and a teenage cheerleading vigilante isn’t anywhere near as interesting. Christ, that’s just Buffy. And with Hit Girl as a hormonal teen, the writers deemed it necessary to shoe-horn a whole “fitting in with the pretty High School girls” side story, yanking the Super Hero sequel off the rails and crashing it into a Lindsay Lohan film. Fuck off.

The Final Word:

The original film was awesome. This sequel, not so much. Go watch the current batch of Marvel films instead.

2

world

What’s it About:

Simon Pegg is Gary King, a middle aged alcoholic who never truly grew up, and has brought his disinterested old school mates together for an epic Pub Crawl. My god, has there ever been a character I could greater sympathize with? Though I can’t say I’ve pub crawled through a town where the locals have been replaced with robotic replicants.

The Good:

I have a lot of love for the first two instalments in the “Cornetto” series (Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz), my time living in London was bookended by those releases. The World’s End is a fitting end to this trilogy. Great characters, wonderful actors, but my favourite part would have to be the action set pieces. Why would a bunch of Middle Class Office Schlubs be such skilled fighters? Who cares, doesn’t matter – as long as fight scenes look good, and they look amazing.

The Bad:

I actually felt a little cold inside when I left the cinema with this one. Don’t get me wrong, I really liked it. But I didn’t love it. And as I feared the film geek community raved for the film, declaring it the best of the trilogy – and I felt lousy for not liking it more.

My greatest problem was the humour, finding the jokes and set ups not as clever as Shaun or Fuzz. The central premise is that Gary King is a bit of a naïve dumb-ass, and so a lot of the gags revolve around his misconceptions of the world. His dialogue sounds like shit that would come out of Joey or Phoebe’s mouths from an episode of Friends, and I feel like the guys who made this film are much better than that. It’s not enough to derail an otherwise excellent film, but I didn’t dig this part of it.

The Final Word:

Gripes aside, still a top film and fitting end to the Wright, Pegg and Frost journey. Film fans will be smashing the Cornetto trilogy on movie nights from now until the end of time.

Four_S copy

VHS2

What’s It About:

More found footage tapes, more horrific tomfoolery.

The Good:

In the curious world of international release dates, this sequel was released in Australia less than six months after the first film. The extreme lift in quality is even more curious – this film is miles above the previous entry. All four short films showcased here are solid, though the clear winner is the mind blowing “Safe Haven” the story of a documentary crew entering an Indonesian cult – who’s shit gets ripped into pissed, and filtered through a sieve of fuck.

The Bad:

Fuck, they still insist on creating these shitty wrap around segments to explain how the tapes got into the possession of the viewer. Now it seems they are creating a mythology for these VHS tapes, and that viewing them in a certain order will grant the viewer Supernatural properties or something. It’s vague, shittily shot, and ultimately a shame, as the other short stories are excellent.

The Final Word:

Ignore the shiteful wrap-around story, and you have the best Horror anthology I’ve seen in a long time.

Four_S copy

Nowyou

What’s it About:

A group of street Magicians are brought together to create a Super team of entertainers/Bank Robbers. Woody Harrelson’s greatest trick was to make an ounce of weed disappear into his lungs before shotting the film each day, the stoner prick.

The Good:

I enjoyed this film. I have no idea why, as the premise, characters and even stage acts themselves are all dumb as dogshit. The film stands against everything I search for in quality entertainment, and yet I happily let myself absorb into the world they created. And no, I’m not giving it a soft pass because I’m a fan of Magicians. I hate Magicians. If I ever saw Dynamo on the street guessing “complete stranger’s” favourite colours, I would run the scrawny turd down with my car.

The Bad:

You have to be the smartest person in the room” – don’t be too concerned if this doesn’t sink in when Jesse Eisenberg states this at the start of the film, as every other fucking character reinstates it about a hundred times. The irony is Now You See Me isn’t the smartest person in the room. It’s quite fucking stupid. You could put the film in a room full of Hillbilly ten year olds who had spent the afternoon huffing glue, it still wouldn’t be the smartest person in the room.

Also: I like Dave Franco, but as the loveable dope and he is out of his depth here. A stage magician is a far cry from a High School Drug dealer. While we are on the topic: I’m still undecided with Jesse Eisenberg as an actor – I admire his skill, yet sometimes I would just love to punch him in the face. Anybody else feel this way?

The Final Word:

I liked the film, but cant really quantify why. It’s a guilty pleasure. I’m pretty sure in a few years time I’ll sit down with this movie, think it’s hot garbage and wonder what the fuck I was thinking. But in the mean time – 3/5 Squirrels.

Three_S

upst

What’s It About:

The description on imdb is better than what I can come up with, so let’s go with that:

A man and woman are drawn together, entangled in the life cycle of an ageless organism. Identity becomes an illusion as they struggle to assemble the loose fragments of wrecked lives.

Man, isn’t that poetic? I’m going to grab a pen and write that on the wall in our office toilet at work. Sure beats the “Eat a Whore’s Shit somebody wrote their during the Office Christmas Party.

The Good:

Shane Carruth is a filmmaker who crafts experiences rather than films, and it’s been a solid nine years since his excellent time travel brain blister Primer. Upstream Colour places you in a swirling hypnotic trance with it’s unique editing and style – if you’re not on board within the first ten minutes then jump ship, it wont be the film for you.

The Bad:

I fucking love Carruth’s earlier film Primer, which is basically what happens when engineers get together to make a film about time travel. My slight problem with his follow up Upstream Colour, is that it gets a bit dour for my liking – lacking the clever dark humour of Primer.

But the biggest concern with Upstream Colour is coherence. Primer takes every ounce of a viewer’s concentration to follow it’s twists and turns, and at the time I declared it the Narrative most requiring a viewer’s attention. That was then. Primer creased my brain in half, but Upstream Colour took my brain and folded it into an origami swan – and then set the swan gently sailing up mindfuck river. It’s a film that requires a lot of effort from the viewer, and as such I cannot recommend it to any flakers.

flaker

The Final Word:

Geez, I’ve come this far and still haven’t really explained what the film is about. Here’s what Wikipedia says:

Upstream Colour is about two people whose lives and behaviours are affected by a complex parasite—without knowing it—that has a three-stage life cycle in which it passes from humans to pigs to orchids

Basically, if you want your brain to shit it’s pants then watch this film. Maybe give Primer a viewing first. If that doesn’t give you an aneurysm, give Upstream Colour a shot.

Four_S copy

 

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