Article: Hot List: Movies Coming in 2016


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Article: Hot List: Movies Coming in 2016

Steve Jobs Review: Man & Machine-Made Masterpiece


Director: Danny Boyle

Writer: Aaron Sorkin

Stars: Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, Jeff Daniels

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Release date: February 4th, 2016

Distributor: Universal Pictures

Country: USA

Running time: 122 minutes


 

4½/5

Review: Steve Jobs

Looking For Grace Review: Australian Beauty


Director: Sue Brooks

Writer: Sue Brooks

Stars: Radha Mitchell, Richard Roxburgh, Odessa Young, Terry Norris

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Release date: January 26th, 2016

Distributor: Palace Films

Country: Australia

Running time: 100 minutes


 

4/5

Review: Looking For Grace

Cinema Release Round-Up: Carol & The Danish Girl


Director: Todd Haynes

Writer: Phyllis Nagy (screenplay), Patricia Highsmith (novel)

Stars: Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Sarah Paulson, Kyle Chandler

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Release date: January 14th, 2016

Distributors: The Weinstein Company, StudioCanal

Country: USA, UK 

Running time: 118 minutes


4/5

Romantic-drama Carol is one of the biggest Oscar contenders of 2015. From the outset, the movie packs a significant punch – featuring a socio-political/forever taboo topic, a stacked cast, and talented director. It fits the definition of a critical darling – resembling the type of drama people shower with praise during Oscar season.

Thankfully, with Carol, the wave of positive feedback and awards is warranted – benefitting the aforementioned pedigree, subject matter, and alluring narrative. The story is set in the 1950s New York City, illuminating the last era of formality and normality in US history. Aspiring photographer Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara) is struggling to be enthusiastic about her life. Working at a high-end department store, she instantly connects with single mother Carol Aird (Cate Blanchett).

The narrative, similarly to similar LGBT-related dramas/love stories (Brokeback Mountain), revolves around a touching, slow-build romance between polar opposites. Based on Patricia Highsmith’s novel The Price of Salt, the film illuminates the original text’s fascination with 50s-era existence. Thanks to Phyllis Nagy’s screenplay, the film relates issues of yesterday to today’s socio-political climate. Without overstating its welcome, the film makes for a startling reminder of society’s unease and disdain.

Focusing on the essential aspects, the central conflict revolves around Carol and Therese’s yin-yang dynamic. Director Todd Haynes (Velvet Goldmine, I’m Not There), avoids convention at every affecting twist and turn. In a nonlinear fashion, the story finds its focal point in the opening scene before flashing back to the beginnings of Carol and Therese’s connection. Haynes, handling similar material with Far From Heaven, depicts their relationship with reverence and restraint.

The performances solidify Carol’s emotional impact and socio-political resonance. Blanchett, with two Oscars for searing performances in The Aviator and Blue Jasmine, is undoubtedly one of contemporary cinema’s finest actresses. Stepping outside her comfort zone once again, the Australian icon immerses herself in this confronting role. If not for Brie Larson in Room, Blanchett would be picking up a third Oscar this season. Similarly, Mara portrays the tiniest details with careful precision. Matching Blanchett point by point, this still-rising star conveys her character’s inner turmoil with class.

Carol is a unique romantic-drama and character study – with Haynes, the screenplay, and the performers bringing humanity and dignity to a thought-provoking tale.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=679wr31SXWk


 

Director: Tom Hooper

Writers: Lucinda Coxon (screenplay), David Ebershoff (book)

Stars: Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander, Matthias Schoenaerts, Ben Whishaw

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Release date: January 21st, 2016

Distributors: Focus Features, Universal Pictures International

Countries: UK, USA, Belgium

Running time: 119 minutes


2½/5

The Danish Girl is chock-a-block with everything you would expect from an Oscar-bait docudrama. The director’s style resembles that ‘British’ style of period-piece filmmaking, the script ties itself too closely to a subject you cannot ignore, whilst the actors and performances reek of attention-seeking theatrics. From a mile away, this docudrama comes off like a template of everything done 1000 times before.

The Danish Girl is not as trite or idiotic as you would expect, but it is still not good either. The story examines one of the most inspiring transgender cases in modern history. It begins with the sizzling marriage between artists Einar Wegener (Eddie Redmayne) and Gerda Wegener (Alicia Vikander) in mid-1920 Copenhagen, Denmark. Gerda, to attract attention from local art galleries, paints portrait paintings of Einer in women’s clothing. However, after a string of outings in the get-up, Einer reveals his inner self – a woman named Lili Elbe he has hidden for decades.

The film marks a cavernous rift between story, direction, and performances. This version of events, based on the 2000 novel of the same name by David Ebershoff, is only loosely based on the interesting, socially relevant true story. Being the first recorded case of gender reassignment surgery, these events deserve more than Hooper’s self-conscious, tepid interpretation. The screenplay, unsure of its intended audience, shows and tells throughout the film’s exhaustive run-time. After each revelation and emotionally gripping moment, the characters forcefully describe their thoughts, feelings, and actions.

Director Tom Hooper had similar troubles bringing The King’s Speech and Les Miserables to life. Like his preceding Oscar favourites, his style overshadows and eventually suffocates the intriguing central premise. His direction – based around ‘unique’ camera angles and movements – steals the spotlight. However, Hooper never confronts or delves into the significant social, cultural, and psychological themes.

Thanks to Hooper and Redmayne, the film presents timid versions of transgender characters. Redmayne’s repetitive, one-note performance is insulting – depicting Einer/Lili’s conflict by touching fabric, quivering, blinking uncontrollably, whispering, and wincing in every scene. Since his Oscar-winning performance in The Theory of Everything, the performer has shown limited range and subtlety. Vikander eclipses her counterpart, bringing personality and charm to a difficult role.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d88APYIGkjk

Article: Alicia Vikander – The Woman From S.W.E.D.E.N


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Article: Alicia Vikander – The Woman From S.W.E.D.E.N

Interview: Fringe World Fix – Ali Brice from Graeme of Thrones


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Interview: Fringe World Fix – Ali Brice from Graeme of Thrones 

The Hateful Eight Review: The Bounty Hunter…in the Kitchen…With a Gun


Director: Quentin Tarantino

Writer: Quentin Tarantino

Stars: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins

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Release date: January 21st, 2016

Distributor: The Weinstein Company

Country: USA

Running time: 167 minutes


 

4/5

Review: The Hateful Eight

Article: Sue Brooks and Radha Mitchell Go Walkabout with Looking For Grace


5. LOOKING FOR GRACE Radha Mitchell (Denise), Odessa Young (Grace)

Article: Sue Brooks and Radha Mitchell Go Walkabout with Looking For Grace

Review: The Rubens @ Fremantle Arts Centre


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Review: The Rubens @ Fremantle Arts Centre

Interview: The Franklin Electric


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Interview: The Franklin Electric

Article: 5 Stars that Will Continue to Rise in 2016


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Article: 5 Stars that Will Continue to Rise in 2016

Sisters Audio Review: Family Ties


Director: Jason Moore

Writer: Paula Pell

Stars: Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Ike Barinholtz, Maya Rudolph

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Release date: January 7th, 2016

Distributor: Universal Pictures

Country: USA

Running time: 118 minutes


 

3½/5

Review:

The Revenant Audio Review: Dear Academy…


Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

Writers: Mark L. Smith, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (screenplay), Michael Punke (book)

Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter

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Release date: January 7th, 2016

Distributor: 20th Century Fox

Country: USA

Running time: 156 minutes


3½/5

Review:

The Big Short Review: Wall Street Warriors


Director: Adam McKay

Writers: Adam McKay, Charles Randolph

Stars: Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt

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Release date: January 14th, 2016

Distributor: Paramount Pictures

Country: USA

Running time: 130 minutes


 

3½/5

Review: The Big Short

Jessica Jones Season 1 Review: A Small-Screen Marvel


Creator: Melissa Rosenberg

Channel: Netflix

Stars: Krysten Ritter, Mike Colter, Rachael Taylor, Wil Traval

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Genres: Action, Detective, Drama, Neo-noir, Superhero

Premiere: November 20th, 2015

Country: USA


4/5

Best part: The dynamic performances.

Worst part: Not enough Luke Cage.

In 2015, the Marvel Cinematic Universe juggernaut showed no sign of slowing down. The Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man were fun, edge-of-your-seat thrill-rides performing on their own whilst setting up future installments. In addition, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD gained traction, responded valiantly to the events of the aforementioned blockbusters, and gained a bigger audience. However, the best Marvel properties belonged to Netflix, proving just how far the online streaming service has come this year.

Daredevil Season 1 expertly combined The Dark Knight Trilogy‘s ‘dark and gritty’ crime-thriller style/vision with tension-inducing chills and subdued performances. As The Wire meets Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the series became a binge-watcher’s dream for 13 straight hours. Its follow-up, Jessica Jones, took many significant leaps of faith. The show, pulling an obscure character out of the shadows, sets up its unique tone and establishes itself in the darker New York/MCU world.

Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) is a private investigator with a cynical edge and lust for vengeance. Infidelity and harmful actions are good for business, accentuating her status as one of few effective freelance PI offices left in Manhattan. After putting an end to her superhero career, she leaves her powers to roughing up thugs and lowlifes coming through her door at Alias Investigations. Witnessing university hopeful Hope Shlottmann (Erin Moriarty) murder her own parents, Jones is convinced her supervillainous arch nemesis/ex-boyfriend, Kilgrave (David Tennant), has returned to destroy her.

This mash-up of detective, neo-noir, superhero, and psychological-thriller tropes is one of 2015’s most transformative shows. Developed effectively by Melissa Rosenberg, the series provides a fresh, inspired take on drama narrative and socially relevant themes on screen. The first three episodes (AKA Ladies Night, AKA Crush Syndrome, AKA It’s Called Whiskey), in particular, apply neo-noir’s sickening atmosphere and aesthetic to its arresting character study elements. The show highlights each detail of Jones’ investigation, efficiently setting up the pieces before knocking them down spectacularly.

Jessica Jones, predictably labelled ‘feminist’ by people who don’t know any better, provides balanced versions of both genders. Unlike many superhero films/series’ etc., the female characters are given depth beyond their abilities. Jones is a survivor, brought to her knees by everything and everyone throughout her life. The lead is the series’ best asset – a well-rounded being succumbing to temptation (booze, sex etc.) and emotional connections realistically. On the other side of the conflict, Kilgrave is the MCU’s most enthralling antagonist. As an obsessive ex-boyfriend type, he preys on Jones’ issues (post traumatic stress disorder, assault etc.) with fearsome tenacity. Diverting from the urban, predator-prey dynamic of preceding episodes, AKA You’re A Winner! peels back the layers of Jones and Kilgrave’s pasts.

The supporting characters, throughout the confronting, visceral run, succinctly off-set Jones’ sickening, ever-increasing aura. Luke Cage (Mike Colter) is a well-natured, charming character with scores to settle of his own. Sadly, however, after several gruelling twists and turns, the character takes an extended hiatus. Jones’ friend/sidekick Trish Walker (Rachael Taylor) is a force of personality, utilising her sarcastic wit and personal quarrels to significant effect. Her on-again/off-again dynamic with Will Simpson (Wil Traval) sizzles during the show’s more intimate moments. Carrie Ann Moss gives a strong turn as the lesbian attorney stuck in Jones’ circle of hell.

Despite the exhaustive number of episodes, Jessica Jones is a detective-thriller and superhero-action smackdown in equal measure. Despite the focus on darkness, violence, and heavy subject matter, the show’s performances, tone, and intricate attention to detail establish its merits as a stand-alone series and extension of the MCU.

Verdict: ‘Dark and gritty’ done right.

Article: Over it: Blockbuster Hype Has Outstayed its Welcome


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Article: Over it: Blockbuster Hype Has Outstayed its Welcome

Franchise Fix: The Maze Runner & Maze Runner: Scorch Trials


Director: Wes Ball

Writers: Noah Oppenheim, Grant Pierce Myers, T. S. Nowlin (screenplay), James Dashner (novel)

Stars: Dylan O’Brien, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Kaya Scodelario, Will Poulter

3/5

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Release date: September 19th, 2014

Distributor: 20th Century Fox

Country: USA

Running time: 113 minutes


The Maze Runner is yet another entry in the long, unending line of young adult franchise adaptations. Adapting dense, overwhelming content from stage to screen, cinematic YA series’ have to appease the desires of fans, studio executives, and authors. They go one of two ways: critically and commercially successful (The Hunger Games) or flat on their faces (Divergent).

The Maze Runner was seen as one of 2014’s biggest surprises. Overcoming the YA too-many-at-once stigma, this action flick surpassed the majority of YA fluff to deliver on its promises. The plot kicks off in the thick of the action, with Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) waking up in a steel cage being transported to the maze. After meeting key players, including antagonist Gally (Will Poulter), second in command Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), and Runner Minho (Ki Hong Lee), Thomas pieces together the system of operations (the ‘Glade’) along with his shattered consciousness.

As the contemporary version of Lord of the Flies, The Maze Runner is one of few YA flicks to connect with a wider audience. Along with our leads, the audience is trapped in the labyrinthine maze setting throughout the 113-min run-time. Like many YA adaptation, the plot relies on world building and exposition to break down its central premise. Giving every aspect a peculiar title (Glade, Grievers etc.), the film never strays too far away from YA convention.

The film is hindered by its third act, explaining the significance of the maze and its place in the dystopian world. However, it benefits from its action-thriller aura. From first-time feature director Wes Ball, the action sequences illustrate the scope and sense of danger the maze offers. As the ultimate obstacle course, the maze sequences add some much needed thrills and chills. Its cast of bright, young actors make the most the somewhat laughable material.

The Maze Runner, the opening chapter of a promising trilogy, is a fun YA adaptation perfect for a Saturday afternoon.

Verdict: A surprisingly enjoyable YA adaptation. 


Director: Wes Ball

Writers: T. S. Nowlin (screenplay), James Dashner (novel)

Stars: Dylan O’Brien, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Kaya Scodelario, Ki Hong Lee

3/5

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Release date: September 18th, 2015

Distributor: 20th Century Fox

Country: USA

Running time: 131 minutes


Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, the second instalment of author James Dashner’s franchise, was released at the tail end of 2015’s blockbuster season. Coming off a surprisingly fun first entry, the sequel could have gone either way. Thankfully, the sequel successfully continues this still-promising series.

The Scorch Trials picks up immediately after the events of the 2014 original. Rescued by an unnamed squadron, led by Janson (Aidan Gillen), Thomas (Dylan O’Brien), Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), Minho (Ki Hong Lee), Teresa (Kaya Scodelario), Frypan (Dexter Darden), and Winston (Alexander Flores) finally feel safe. However, Thomas discovers that their new home is owned by powerful organisation WCKD (led by Paige (Patricia Clarkson)), tasked with testing children to find a cure for a deadly worldwide disease. Escaping from the facility, our leads must face the dystopian wasteland to find the resistance (called Right Arm).

The sequel doubles down on everything, delivering an increased amount of exposition, plot twists, flashbacks, and action sequences. The plot, in true blockbuster sequel fashion, lurches from one major set-piece to the next. This middle chapter merely delivers more of the same; carrying the difficult task of continuing the events of the original whilst building towards the third chapter (The Death cure, due for release in 2017). As an extension, this instalment aptly, but unremarkably, sets up the MacGuffins and conflicts for the future.

On its own, this instalment serves to depict the scope and increasing danger of the series’ dystopian setting. The film becomes an extended obstacle course – jumping between chases, gunfights, and fist-fights against WCKD personnel and zombie populations in the Scorch. Dylan O’Brien and Ki Hong Lee pull off the standard action movie running style. Our characters grow ever so slightly in between moments of awe and spectacle. However, with character actors including Giancarlo Esposito, Lili Taylor, and Barry Pepper joining the cast, screen time becomes scarce.

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials is a successful but ultimately underwhelming follow-up to the pacy original.

Verdict: A fun follow-up. 

Home Release Round-up: Seventh Son, The First Time & American Ultra


Director: Sergei Bodrov

Writers: Charles Leavitt, Steven Knight (screenplay), Joseph Delaney (novel)

Stars: Jeff Bridges, Ben Barnes, Julianne Moore, Alicia Vikander

2½/5

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Based on Joseph Delaney’s novel, The Spook’s Apprentice, Seventh Son is the very definition of throwaway trash. Released to scathing reviews and even worse commercial traction, this fantasy-epic was thrown to the wolves by its studio overlords.

Seventh Son kicks off with the imprisonment of evil witch mother Malkin (Julianne Moore) by knight/monster hunter/badass (Spook) Gregory (Jeff Bridges) after their romance turned sour. The story jumps forward; Gregory – becoming the last of his kind – scours the land for similar demon-like creatures. After Malkin’s prison break, and his apprentice(Kit Harington)’s murder at her hands, hires aspiring local farmhand Will (Ben Barnes) to take up the mantle and save the kingdom.

Faced with an extraordinary share of production issues, Seventh Son is the by-product of blockbuster era gone by. The film languishes in forgettable fluff, once made whole by everything from Ridley Scott’s Legend and the original Clash of the Titans. Like the Clash remake, however, the plot lurches from one monster battle to the next. Lacking original story or character elements, the film goes through the motions.

Despite the dearth of emotion or intelligence, the action sequences – along with the CGi creations – are almost worth a watch on a lazy Sunday afternoon. The actors all put on a brave face, with Jeff Bridges hiding behind a thick (British?) accent and overall charisma. Moore, coming off her Oscar-winning performance in Still Alice, chews up the scenery. Up-and-comers Barnes and Alicia Vikander handle themselves eloquently.

Verdict: A silly, forgettable fantasy-epic.


Director: Jon Kasdan

Writer: Jon Kasdan

Stars: Dylan O’Brien, Britt Robertson, Craig Roberts, James Frecheville

3/5

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The First Time is one of few films focusing on that scary, interesting era in everyone’s life. After the initial boyfriend/girlfriend stuff, the first physical encounter can spell immediate success or instant disaster. The film takes it on with considerable care and thought.

The First Time, in true teen dramedy fashion, follows the hit-and-miss life of Dave (Dylan O’Brien). Dave is a high school senior pining after long-time friend Jane (Victoria Justice). Stuck in the deadening abyss known as the ‘friend zone’, Dave watches on as Jane hooks up with one guy after another. One night, at a sex-fuelled house party, Dave meets Aubrey (Britt Robertson) and his life takes an immediate turn for the positive.

This coming-of-age dramedy pays homage to 1990s independent filmmakers known for human moments more so than plot. Mimicking Richard Linklater and Kevin Smith’s works, the film works best during extended conversations between our lead two characters. Unlike most contemporary movies, it makes a point of focusing on dialogue, human interaction, and on-screen chemistry. Its highs and lows thrive on O’Brien and Robertson’s effervescent performances.

Writer/director Jon Kasdan, brother of Jake (Sex Tape, Bad Teacher) and son of acclaimed filmmaker Lawrence (Star Wars), clings onto his less-is-more approach a little too far. The supporting characters, including Aubrey’s older boyfriend Ronny (James Frecheville), are pushed into the background.

Verdict: A solid, harmless date movie.


Director: Nima Nourizadeh

Writer: Max Landis

Stars: Jessie Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Topher Grace, Connie Britton

2/5

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Director Nima Nourizadeh is an up-and-coming comedy director known primarily for Project X; one of the past decade’s most unlikeable movies. Writer Max Landis, known for Chronicle and a Man of Steel rant on YouTube, is one of contemporary Hollywood’s most divisive figures. Put them together and you get American Ultra – a derivative, pointless action-comedy.

American Ultra focuses on pot-smoking layabout Mike Howell (Jessie Eisenberg) in Liman, West Virginia. Mike, cared for by his girlfriend Phoebe (Kristen Stewart), envisions a better life via his collection of graphic novel illustrations. Meanwhile, at Langley’s CIA headquarters, agent Victoria Lasseter (Connie Britton) learns that Mike, sole survivor of a particular sleeper agent program, is to be eliminated by Adrian (Topher Grace).

Light on action, laughs or anything of substance, this action-comedy creates a fan-fiction-esque universe of bizarre, over-the-top plot points, characters, and actions sequences. Talking down to their audience, Nourizadeh and Landis present simplistic, juvenile depictions of everything including relationships, stoners, and, well, basic human traits. Mike and Phoebe are caricatures, defined only by ticks and forced backstories. However, Eisenberg and Start, two of the 21st century’s most divisive performers, elevate their roles with undeniable chemistry.

The film’s strange anti-establishment agenda paints a concerning portrait of American security agencies. Landis and co. restrict the CIA players to caricatures and cyphers, using operation titles like ‘Tough Guy’ and ‘Ultra’. Character actors including Grace, Britton, Walton Goggins, and Bill Pullman are restricted to unlikeable, incompetent characters illustrating the CIA as horrific, bloodthirsty morons.

Verdict: A messy, obnoxious action-comedy. 

Review: The Silent Deeds – Desert Town EP


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Review: The Silent Deeds – Desert Town EP

Article: WAM and the Rise of Kucka


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Article: WAM and the Rise of Kucka

Article: 5 Artists Who Dominated in 2015


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Article: 5 Artists Who Dominated in 2015

Point Break Review: Wipe Out


Director: Ericson Core

Writer: Kurt Wimmer

Stars: Luke Bracey, Edgar Ramirez, Teresa Palmer, Delroy Lindo

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Release date: January 1st, 2016

Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures

Country: USA, China

Running time: 113 minutes


 

1½/5

Review: Point Break

 

Home Release Round-up: Hot Pursuit, The Longest Ride & Last Cab to Darwin


Director: Anne Fletcher

Writer: David Feeney, John Quaintance

Stars: Reese Witherspoon, Sofia Vergara, Robert Kazinsky, John Carroll Lynch

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Last year, Reese Witherspoon earned yet another Academy Award nomination for her magical performance in docudrama Wild. Judging by Hot Pursuit, it is clear she may be an abysmal loser. This Road trip-comedy highlights a scary trend – that descent between an actor’s Oscar-calibre project and their paycheck-grabbing follow-up. It is an abysmal, insensitive effort fuelled by poor decisions and Hollywood power.

Hot Pursuit sees Rose Cooper (Witherspoon), benched after an unfortunate tasing incident, struggling to balance an intense work ethic with her personal life. Busting out of the evidence locker, she is assigned to protect a cartel informant and his wife Daniella (Sofia Vergara).

Despite the 87-minute run-time, Hot Pursuit reeks of a rushed production struggling for content. What follows is a ‘hilarious’ and ‘wacky’ assortment of sketches and set-pieces. Very little works about this bland, derivative road-trip comedy. Playing up to stereotypes, the film pulls out and dusts off every cheap, lame gag against women and Hispanic people.

Witherspoon, producing and starring in this mess, claimed the film was part of her company’s movement for strong female characters. Menstruation jokes and weird accent gags fail to warrant even a quick chuckle. Its lead characters are inhuman and insensitive, struggling to grasp human emotions and common sense.

Witherspoon and Vergara’s talents are thoroughly wasted here, with the Modern Family actress forced to wheeze out a Fran Drescher impersonation. Witherspoon Texan caricature is sure to offend, sidelined by cheap jokes about her appearance. Comedians Mike Birbiglia and Jim Gaffigan are stuck in unfunny, one-scene roles.

Verdict: A offensive waste of talent, money etc.


Director: George Tillman Jr.

Writer: Craig Bolotin

Stars: Britt Robertson, Scott Eastwood, Jack Huston, Oona Chaplin

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The Longest Ride is yet another instalment in the never-ending line of Nicholas Sparks romantic-dramas. Building upon his vast sums of money and followers from The Notebook and The Lucky One, his latest adaptation may be the best one by default.

The Longest Ride follows senior year arts student Sophie Denko (Britt Robertson). Forced out of her sorority dorm by her friends, she meets big-time bull rider Luke Collins (Scott Eastwood) at the local rodeo. Collins, one of the Professional Bull Riders on tour, is coming off a major incident at his last event.

This Sparks adaptation is divided into two familiar but effecting tales. One concerns the relationship between our two sparkling leads, featuring a cacophony of Sparksian clichés including shirtless people, the rain, and a late-night swim in a lake. The other delves into the deeper elements, chronicling a love story set in WWII-era America between Ira (Jack Huston) and Ruth (Oona Chaplin).

Both plot-threads intersect at appropriate moments, succinctly complimenting one another. Sophie and Luke’s conversations with the elderly Ira (Alan Alda) accentuate the film’s impressive performances. Director George Tilmman Jr. (Notorious, Faster) wrangles strong performances out of his young leads. Robertson, known for Tomorrowland, is the next blonde charmer. Eastwood, displaying his father’s charisma and good looks, is a worthy candidate for the next big superhero franchise.

Despite the tried and true formula, The Longest Ride is one of the biggest surprises of 2015. Tillman Jr. and co. provide a fresh take on the material for girls and boys to enjoy.

Verdict: A sweet, good-natured romantic-drama. 


Director: Jeremy Sims

Writers: Reg Cribb, Jeremy Sims

Stars: Michael Caton, Mark Coles Smith, Ningali Lawford-Wolf, Jacki Weaver

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Australian cinema ranges typically between dark, brooding drama (Strangerland) and over-the-top comedy (The Dressmaker). Hollywood and foreign film continually give us works that sit in between these polar opposites. Last Cab to Darwin, at the very least, makes a gracious and worthwhile attempt to balance drama and comedy with ease.

Last Cab to Darwin chronicles the professional and personal aspects of taxi driver Rex(Michael Caton)’s life. The sole taxi driver in Broken Hill, New South Wales, his days and nights begin to blur together. By day, he drives around town helping everyone out. By night, he visits his local pub, chats with his mates, before listening to his records alone. His neighbour/lady-friend Polly (Ningali Lawford-Wolf) is his one true source of comfort.

Rex is told that his cancer, despite having previously been operated on, has spread throughout his body with a vengeance. Given three months to live, Rex takes up an offer from GP and euthanasia activist Dr. Nicole Farmer (Jacki Weaver) in the Northern Territory to be her first patient once the law comes through.

You guessed it, Rex takes his taxi across the country and over great, red plains to die on his own terms. Based on Cribb’s 2003 theatre production, Last Cab to Darwin is the outback cinema version of comfort food. The narrative hits the familiar beats, with Rex encountering a wide array of archetypes and situations putting his life into perspective. Bouncing off Tilly (Mark Coles Smith) and Julie (Emma Hamilton), Rex, thanks to Caton’s touching performance, is a determined, fascinating character.

Last Cab to Darwin, fusing familiar narrative with serious topic, is a defining contemporary Australian flick.

Verdict: A true-blue road-trip dramedy. 

Reshoot & Rewind’s Best Movies of 2015


720x405-Joy-InsideOut_Charlize-MadMax2015 was certainly an interesting year for politics, economics, art, and everything in between. The world was forced to watch on in horror as the forces of evil attempted to destroy our way of life. People lost their lives, cities were attacked, and the world’s governments came together to make a difference. We stood against those responsible, questioning their motives and responding to threats.

The year in cinema pushed boundaries and formed unique and invigorating works of art. Films including The Martian and Sicario, both of which I watched on the same day, proved the magic and majesty of celluloid can illuminate the globe. However, films including Fantastic Four and Chappie fell flat on their stupid faces!

For Reshoot & Rewind, the year delivered its fair share of hits. Covering a greater number of topics and formats, I aimed to take chances and deliver the best articles possible for my loyal followers. I hope to make 2016 an even better year for myself and the site. Thank you all for embracing the craziness – delving into the reviews, lists, interviews, news pieces, op-eds etc. I loved putting together.

Here are the best of the best:

1. The Martian

Director Ridley Scott returns to form with this testament to technology, ingenuity, and the human spirit. The Martian is a fascinating and fun action-adventure-sci-fi romp, bringing Scott and leading man Matt Damon back from the brink of critical and commercial failure. Every element –  including its gleeful lead characters, rousing set pieces, light-hearted direction, and positive message – establishes this rollercoaster ride as one of 2015’s most innovative and spirited works of art.

2. Sicario

Sicario marks the true power of Hollywood cinema, spreading its wings and utilising its resources to discuss a crucial socio-political topic. This crime-thriller, yet again, showcased the brilliance and resilience of director Denis Villeneuve and cinematographer Roger Deakins. Together, these power-house professionals paint a gorgeous, gritty, and confronting picture of the US-Mexico conflict. Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, and Benicio del Toro craft strong performances, bouncing off on another with style. The film draws the line between what is right and what is beneficial for the free world.

3. Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max: Fury Road is the year’s most invigorating and inventive blockbuster. Every ingredient of this post-apocalyptic actioner is awe-inspiring. Balancing between nostalgia and a contemporary vision, the film marks the glorious return of acclaimed filmmaker George Miller. A key part of 2015’s feminist angle, it bravely pushed it titular character to the side – crafting the most fun female action hero since Ellen Ripley from the Alien Franchise. In addition, any film featuring the line: “Fang it, schlanger” is alright by me!

4. 99 Homes 

99 Homes is a shocking and rousing account of middle America’s struggle against The Man. Shockingly, it’s based in the realm of reality! From its confronting opening sequence, the film delves head-on into the post-Global Financial Crisis wasteland. As a character study, 99 Homes excels thanks to efficient, brutal screenwriting and direction. As a performance piece, lead actors Andrew Garfield and Michael Shannon deliver powerful, gripping performances as two sides of the same coin.

5. Bridge of Spies 

Steven Spielberg is one of few contemporary filmmakers still creating genuine works of art. Charging through a multi-decade career, the veteran genius returns to true form with Lincoln and Bridge of Spies. Bridge of Spies, teaming up Spielberg with Tom Hanks again, links a Cold War-era narrative with modern socio-political themes. The film fuses comedic moments with dark, searing drama, serving up one of the era’s least known but most enthralling true stories.

6. Creed

In the year of long-awaited/belated sequel/reboot/whatevers, Creed broke the mould, destroyed the competition, but was still gracious in victory. Easily eclipsing Jake Gyllenhaal-vehicle Southpaw, the film aptly harks back on the Rocky franchise legacy whilst heading on its own journey. Throwing their names into the Oscar buzz ring, leading man Michael B. Jordan and American treasure Sylvester Stallone deliver career-defining turns in a magnetic mentor-protege relationship. Creed was the biggest surprise of 2015.

7. Youth 

Unlike many ‘For Your Consideration’ projects, dramedy Youth acknowledges its foreign director’s style, allowing them to create a truly original achievement. The film simply would not work without Paolo Sorrentino’s outside-the-box vision and acute attention to detail. This dramedy ably comments on the highs and lows of celebrity and age. Lead actors Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel handle the balance between satirical bite, emotional intensity, and laugh-out-loud moments with ease.

8. Inside Out

As the modern version of Herman’s Head, Inside Out proves that a familiar idea can be reinvigorated and improved upon with the right people involved. Pixar Animation Studios, returning to form after a string of disappointments, showcases truckloads of imagination with this light, breezy effort. Featuring likeable characters and enjoyable set-pieces, Inside Out is a more exciting action extravaganza than Jurassic World, Terminator: Genisys, and Jupiter Ascending combined. In addition, its climax will have every viewer shedding a tear or two.

9. Selma

Robbed of success at this year’s Academy Awards, Selma is an emotionally affecting and necessary docudrama. Covering Martin Luther King, Jr.’s rise to prominence in America’s conscious state, the film documents a tough, gruelling time in modern civilisation. Covering important events and key issues, Ava DuVernay’s direction depicts the essential details with class and maturity. David Oyelowo, another British actor perfectly embodying an American historical figure, is worth the admission cost alone.

10. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Winning Best Picture and Best Director deservedly, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) is a flawed but ultimately assured and detailed dramedy. Veering away from 21 Grams and Babel territory, acclaimed filmmaker Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu crafts an outside-the-box analysis of contemporary cinema, celebrity, and fandom. He along with cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki create many “How did they do that?!” flourishes throughout this thought-provoking character study. Michael Keaton is back with a vengeance!

Honourable Mentions:

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, Amy, Dope, Mississippi Grind, The Program, The Lobster, Straight Outta Compton, The Gift, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, Love & Mercy, Slow West, A Most Violent Year, Top Five, The Avengers: Age of Ultron 

Biggest Surprises:

The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Spooks: The Greater Good, Trainwreck, Ant-Man, Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, Partisan, Unfriended, Ex Machina, The DUFF, Still Alice, Furious 7, Run All Night, American Sniper, Focus, Pride, Kingsman: The Secret Service, The Longest Ride

Poltergeist (Home Release) Audio Review: Rotting Remake


Director: Gil Kenan

Writer: David Lindsay-Abaire

Stars: Sam Rockwell, Rosmarie DeWitt, Jarred Harris, Jane Adams

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Release date: May 22nd, 2015

Distributor: 20th Century Fox 

Country: USA

Running time: 93 minutes


 

2/5

Review:

Ricki & the Flash (Home Release) Audio Review: Miserable Meryl


Director: Jonathan Demme

Writer: Diablo Cody

Stars: Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Mamie Gummer, Rick Springfield

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Release date: August 7th, 2015

Distributor: TriStar Pictures

Country: USA

Running time: 101 minutes


 

2½/5

Review:

The Voices (Home Release) Audio Review: Ragin’ Reynolds


Director: Marjane Satrapi

Writer: Michael R. Perry

Stars: Ryan Reynolds, Gemma Arterton, Anna Kendrick, Jacki Weaver

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Release date: April 30th, 2015

Distributor: Lionsgate

Country: USA, Germany

Running time: 104 minutes


 

3½/5

Review:

Joy Audio Review: J-Law & Order


Director: David O. Russell

Writer: David O. Russell

Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Edgar Ramirez, Bradley Cooper

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Release date: December 26th, 2015

Distributor: 20th Century Fox 

Country: USA

Running time: 124 minutes


 

2½/5

Review:

Dope (Home Release) Audio Review: High on Life


Director: Rick Famuyiwa

Writer: Rick Famuyiwa

Stars: Shameik Moore, Tony Revolori, Kiersey Clemons, A$AP Rocky

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Release date: June 19th, 2015

Distributor: Open Road Films

Country: USA

Running time: 103 minutes


 

4/5

Review:

We Are Your Friends (Home Release) Audio Review: Duf-Duf-Dumb


Director: Max Joseph

Writers: Max Joseph, Meaghan Oppenheimer

Stars: Zac Efron, Emily Ratajkowski, Shiloh Fernandez, Jonny Weston

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Release date: August 21st, 2015

Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures

Country: USA

Running time: 96 minutes


 

2/5

Review:

Reshoot & Rewind’s Worst Movies of 2015


worst-movies-2015-pic2015 was certainly an interesting year for politics, economics, art, and everything in between. The world was forced to watch on in horror as the forces of evil attempted to destroy our way of life. People lost their lives, cities were attacked, and the world’s governments came together to make a difference. We stood against those responsible, questioning their motives and responding to threats.

The year in cinema pushed boundaries and formed unique and invigorating works of art. Films including The Martian and Sicario, both of which I watched on the same day, proved the magic and majesty of celluloid can illuminate the globe. However, film including Fantastic Four and Chappie fell flat on their stupid faces!

For Reshoot & Rewind, the year delivered its fair share of hits. Covering a greater number of topics and formats, I aimed to take chances and deliver the best articles possible for my loyal followers. I hope to make 2016 an even better year for myself and the site. Thank you all for embracing the craziness – delving into the reviews, lists, interviews, news pieces, op-eds etc. I loved putting together.

Here are the worst of the worst:

1. Pixels

Family action-comedy Pixels represents every single thing wrong about 21st century Hollywood filmmaking. This bland effort teams up a short-film premise with Adam Sandler and his band of merry morons. Director Chris Columbus sinks further into mainstream hell with this derivative waste of time and money. Talents including Michelle Monaghan, Brian Cox, Josh Gad, and Peter Dinklage are left stranded in unlikeable roles. This is Hollywood’s worst impulses stuffed into a hurricane force of mediocrity. F*ck off, Sandler!

2. By The Sea

Writer, director, activist, and actress Angelina Jolie was given free reign to produce and market By the Sea. The Result: a critical and commercial disaster of epic, Gigli-esque proportions. This self-indulgent, trite romantic-drama lambasts the very idea of marriage… despite being created by the most famous married couple on Earth (very strange, indeed). The plot is non-existent, the characters are unlikeable and childish, and Jolie’s writing and direction bang the same note repeatedly. First Unbroken, now By the Sea – go back to humanitarian work!

3. Taken 3 

Despite the cheap thrills of Run All Night, 2015 marked the sad, violent conclusion of Liam Neeson’s reign as Hollywood’s leading geriatric action hero. Taken 3, bludgeoning a dead horse, is somehow worse than the excruciating Taken 2. Lacking the original’s bursts of energy, director Olivier Megaton (Columbiana) delivers a sequel entirely for the sake of monetary gain. Gigantic plot-holes and a derivative man-on-the-run narrative further obliterate contemporary action cinema’s reputation.

4. Fantastic Four 

After the 2005 and 2007 Fantastic Four disasters, 2015’s ‘dark and gritty’ reboot needed only to improve upon its lackluster predecessors. Bafflingly, those flicks now seem more refined and unique compared to this clunker. This tone deaf, bizarre superhero flick lacks the energy, thrills, and even pulse of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and X-Men entries. Thanks to feuds between the studio and director Josh Trank, Fantastic Four is a confused and boring non-starter. Back to the drawing board, yet again.

5. Hot Pursuit

Reese Witherspoon, following up her latest Oscar nomination for Wild, destroys her reputation with Hot Pursuit. Producing and starring in this tired comedy, Witherspoon’s attempt at strong female characters fails spectacularly. She and co-star Sofia Vergara portray the year’s most annoying and insulting characters, tripping over one another thanks to bizarre accents and over-the-top pratfalls. The film’s attempts at edgy comedy also fall flat – adding menstruation jokes to almost every scene.

6. Chappie

Director Neill Blompkamp, following up his breakout hit District 9 with polarising blockbuster Elysium, further descends into the M. Night Shyamalan-writer/director doldrums with sci-fi-drama Chappie. His latest effort is a misjudged, over-the-top venture afraid to delve into any one discernible plot-line or theme. Shoving multiple feature film ideas into one narrative, this romp is a hollow mess of plot-holes, shallow characters, and a limited sense of style and vision.

7.  Jupiter Ascending

The Wachowski siblings, like Blompkamp, are on a downward slide from bad to worse to downright disgraceful. Are the failures of Speed Racer and the Matrix sequels, Jupiter Ascending finally puts the last nail in the coffin. This sci-fi flick stuffs seven TV episodes into one two-hour experiment – forming an irritating cacophony of exposition, one-note characters, atrocious dialogue, and laughable moments. Thankfully, the Wachowskis have now been banished to TV with Sense8.

8. The Last Witch Hunter

Vin Diesel, arguably the most famous Dungeons & Dragons player in history, was given all the power and money to adapt his adventures for the big screen. However, The Last Witch Hunter proves Diesel should only be allowed to do Fast & Furious and Riddick installments. This cliched, uninteresting action-adventure is a confusing slog through exposition and predictable plot developments. Dragging talents Michael Caine and Elijah Wood through the mud, Diesel’s latest project shows some people have too much power.

9. Entourage

Vinnie, E, Turtle, Drama, and Ari Gold return in a TV adaptation released at least three years too late. Unleashed four years after the series’ final season, this franchise extender lands smack-bang in one of Hollywood’s most progressive eras. Carrying the show’s wish-fulfillment elements, whilst lacking the first-two seasons’ satirical bite, the film is a frat-boy fantasy drenched in pure sexism, bitterness, excess, and self-indulgence. Jeremy Piven aside, the movie also features the year’s worst performances.

10. Knight of Cups 

‘Ambitious’ writer/director Terrence Malick, after Oscar-buzz magnet The Tree of Life and polarising drama To The Wonder, returns with Knight of Cups to diminishing returns. Although aided by cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, this pretentious, befuddling effort offers little else than Malick’s signature flourishes on repeat. The film lacks any sense of narrative, character, or theme other than: “Hey look, sunsets are nice”. Worse still, its biggest crime is under-utilising Christian Bale’s talents.

Dishonourable mentions:

The Dressmaker, Vacation, Legend, Pan, Survivor, Hitman: Agent 47, Self/less, Paper Towns, Ruben Guthrie, Ted 2, Terminator: Genisys, The Loft, The Cobbler, Jurassic World, Unfinished Business, Dumb & Dumber To, Aloha, Home Sweet Hell, The Gunman, Get Hard, Unbroken, The Theory of Everything

Biggest disappointments:

Joy, Truth, In the Heart of The Sea, Spectre, Spy, Crimson Peak, The Walk, Black Mass, Everest, Southpaw, Minions, San Andreas, Gemma Bovery, Tomorrowland, Woman in Gold, Blackhat, Pitch Perfect 2, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Inherent Vice