Monday, April 13, 2015

Month in Review: March

The Homesman (2014) - 02/03/15 ★★★
The harshness, despair and the melancholia that dominates pioneer life is shown through acts of highly disturbing behaviour amongst the women of a small Midwestern community. Viewers will likely find this very distressing; however the kindness and generosity of a strong-willed protagonist counteracts the early bleak tone. Unfortunately an unexpected plot point mid-way through hinders the film greatly. Despite this setback, solid performances from the cast and beautiful cinematography of the western landscape thankfully get this latest feature from Tommy Lee Jones over the line.

Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) – 08/03/15 ★★★★
This consistently exciting and action packed follow to the successful reboot benefits from a darker story line as well as an imposing lead villain. The spectacle aside, this grand science-fiction epic explores the acceptance of one's fate in the face of dire circumstances, raising it above the usual genre standards. Visual effects are on a level of their own; elevating the film to new heights of visual entertainment and immersive viewing. The cast of diverse characters are more fleshed out which fans of the series will no doubt appreciate. 

The Name of the Rose (1986) – 10/03/15 ★★★★
An intriguing and dark mystery thriller set during an age when religion ruled harshly over almost every facet of society. Themes of hysteria, injustice and the suppression of knowledge are explored within the cleverly crafted plot. The stunning yet grim location of a remote monastery creates an other worldly atmosphere, which brings with it a foreboding sense of dread and despair. However the film's two central charterers have good chemistry and offer some welcome moments of subtle humour.

The Brady Bunch Movie (1995) – 12/03/15 ★★★1/2
A consistently funny parody loaded with adult innuendo, cameos and references to the classic original TV series. The modern setting provides hilarious contrast to the Brady's very wholesome and innocent way of life. Characters are portrayed accurately yet cleverly malicious and creepy in some cases. Fans new and old will no doubt get a kick from this lampooned slice of popular culture.   

Space Jam (1996) - 13/03/15 ★★★
An entertaining animated and live action cross-venture but very much a product of it's time, which I think modern child audiences may find a little confusing. Technically it's a very well made film; voice acting and the typical antics from the Looney Tunes are proudly on full display. Thankfully the variety of guest appearances counteract Michael Jordan's wooden performance. Despite the short falls it's a unique time capsule of 90s popular culture.

The Burning (1981) – 14/03/15 ★★★½
Despite being overshadowed by the more popular “Friday the 13th”, this relatively similar summer themed slasher benefits from a most immersive atmosphere and a cast of likeable and entertaining characters. Striking photography in addition to an eerie music score set the mood from the get go. Special effects are an obviously draw-card for fans which hold up well despite the film's age. Viewers will have fun spotting the many young faces of the then up and coming actors; most noticeably Jason Alexander and Holly Hunter.

In America (2002) – 17/03/15 ★★★★
A touching story of an immigrant family's adjustment to a new life while grieving the loss of a loved one, all in the face great adversity. Striking symbolism and imagery in addition to the clever parallels to a universally loved film adds to the beautiful story and emotional impact. The unique perspective from the child characters provides interesting contrast between that of their adult counterparts. Performances feel very genuine and authentic, enriching the viewing experience.

The Tunnel (2011) – 22/03/15 ★★★½
The unique location of the mostly abandoned labyrinth like structures beneath Sydney creates a deeply foreboding atmosphere, fully immersing the viewer. While the fragmented narrative further deepens the mystery behind the story it does at times take away from some of the more intense moments; in addition to patchy performance from the lead actress. With noticeable nods to "The Blair Witch Project" this addition to the popular found-footage sub genre puts a dark and sinister spin on a problem faced by many capital cities.

This is England (2006) – 26/03/15 ★★★★
Blind hatred towards increasing multiculturalism in Britain combined with a controversial political climate are explored graphically through disenchanted youth. The exploitation of the film's young leading character is deeply sad, highlighting the absurdity of English jingoism and it's stain on society. The various locations add to the staggering level of realism and authenticity, fully immersing the viewer. Powerful and energetic performances from the cast accurately convey the attitudes of the time period.
Black Water (2007) – 26/03/15 ★★
Despite a very simple premise and the bleak surroundings of the seemingly endless mangrove seas of Northern Australia, this loose depiction of "true events" is frankly boring. Performances are generally underwhelming and the characters are uninteresting in addition to being frustratingly stupid. There are however some genuinely intense moment and it's pleasing to note an absence of CGI in a modern creature feature.

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