Hello, everyone! First off apologies for the long absence. It was due to a combination of having a Masters Thesis to complete and getting more hours at work than I could manage. But now I’m back and I’ll be posting a new review this Thursday. However, I have decided to make a few changes to the format of this blog. From here on out, this blog will only be doing Special Interest Reviews, which will now be released on Thursdays. This Thursday’s article will be a belated tribute to the late, great Gene Wilder where I take a trip down memory lane and discuss the film I first saw him in, See No Evil, Hear No Evil. On Monday I’ll release the first in a series of opinion articles where I may talk about any random film-related news or issues that pop into my head. As for new releases… they will be getting a special new home in the weeks to come but as a last hurrah for their time spent on this blog, I’d like to take the opportunity to, in 100 words or less, give my thoughts on some recent releases that I missed in my absence. So let’s start with…
#1 Nine Lives
Two-time Academy Award winner Kevin Spacey playing a man turned into a cat with Christopher Walken playing a magical Cat-Whisperer. As you can imagine it’s full of lazy family movie tropes/ sequences that are coupled with incredibly repetitive and clichéd music.Critics proclaimed it one of the year’s worst but honestly I’ve seen at least 10 films that were worse than this and one of them is actually featured in this article. Christopher Walken plays a magical Cat-Whisperer for god’s sake. That’s the kind of weird gold only Walken can produce.
#2 War Dogs
Goodfellas but with gun-running. If that isn’t enough to hook you then the two lead performances will surely do the trick. Miles Teller and Jonah Hill have fantastic chemistry and both giving stand alone performances that are both deserving of recognition. Jonah Hill in particular comes to mind for this and eventually I am going to have to stop being surprised by his performances. He has been on a roll for years and yet somehow I am always surprised that he’s a good actor. Well done to all involved and a very enjoyable film.
This was a piece of shit. Remember when I said there was a movie on this list that was worse than Nine Lives? It was this. Derivative plot, with no strong central character to get invested in and a twist that does something worse than make no sense. It is completely irrelevant. Do you know how in The Usual Suspects the twist makes you look back on the film with a fresh perspective? Yeah? Well Morgan is the antithesis of The Usual Suspects. Complete waste of time. Avoid it yourself and scorn those who don’t.
This was way better than it had any right to be… is what an asshole would say. In truth, there were a lot of extremely talented film comedians working on this with a strong, though admittedly fairly out there, central premise/ intent in mind. I can’t remember the last film that successfully made me laugh at a pun, never mind the metric tonne of puns being fired left and right in this movie. Admittedly I think two-thirds of this movie are good not great, but the final third is a rib-crushingly hilarious mix of smut and violence.
Okay, I’m not going to be able to stay under 100 words here. For context, I am a huge Laika animation fan-boy. I admit that without shame. They have been consistently producing thought-provoking genre films for kids using claymation. My massive throbbing film-nerd boner for Laika hasn’t gone down since 2009 and I refuse to go see a doctor about it. With that in mind, what did I think of Kubo & the Two Strings?
Um…. it’s mostly good and sometimes it’s great. It is definitely the most visually striking animation I’ve seen all year. The talent and creativity of all involved in the production is plain to see and there are some very interesting discussions of disability in the public sphere that are given even greater depth by a parallel discussion of the functions of narratives. But it does have some problems. Not deal breakers and perhaps not even that big an issue for most people. But I can only judge films from my own perspective and from that perspective there was a clash between the normal family comedy atmosphere of the family movie and the epic tone they aspired to have in the majority of the movie. I think the two could have been blended together more effectively. There were also a few big scenes that felt rushed, particularly the ones right before the climax. Another big issue I have is the music. The score for the most part is very standard and when the visuals are as mind-bogglingly beautiful and culturally distinctive as they are in this film, that tends to stand out. I really think the film would have benefited massively from a more distinctive Japanese-style soundtrack. I might revisit Kubo & the Two Strings at a later stage and delve a little deeper into it but for now it’s a good not great film. On a random side-note that definitely doesn’t relate to any future projects, the plot is a bit predictable with a couple twists being called early on but I am on the fence about how important this is in a kid’s movie for reasons that I’ll go into another time.
And that time is next Monday where my first opinion article will be about twists in kids movies. Don’t forget also to check back with us on Thursday when we celebrate the work of Gene Wilder in See No Evil, Hear No Evil. Thank you all for reading, it’s wonderful to be back doing what I love and I hope you enjoy my work.
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