Pet projects: Why they go wrong


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Pet projects: Why they go wrong

5 Interesting and Slightly Quirky Filmmakers


Critics and audiences cannot stop talking about noir-thriller and Oscar-hungry art-piece Nocturnal Animals. Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal star in this twisty-turny thriller guaranteed to create conversations lasting long after the credits have rolled. The movie’s performances from Adams, Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson (of all people…) are second to none. However, credit goes to writer-director Tom Ford for creating a living, breathing slice of psychological-horror as american as apple pie and July 4th. Ford was the high-end fashion designer turned acclaimed filmmaker. You have to take out a second mortgage to afford even one piece of attire!

Conquering fashion and filmmaking, he now has a fearsome reputation. The man has more money and power than a large chunk of the world’s population. It’s not simply that he is extremely rich, ambitious and good-looking…it is that he actively tries to develop new and exciting projects. Admirably, he wants to break down barriers and create as many original works as possible. I looked up a slew of underrated filmmakers soon to reach extraordinary levels of coverage.

5. Gareth Edwards – Godzilla, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

godzilla-gareth-edwards-bryan-cranston-set-photo.jpgGareth Edwards burst onto the scene with sci-fi-thinkpiece Monsters back in 2010. The British filmmaker shot to the top of the most-wanted list in the early 2010s. His next film defined his style and vision. 2014’s Godzilla was a mixed bag of unique but frustrating choices. The movie (spoiler) loses points for killing off Walter White in favour of Kick-Ass. The elephant in the room cannot be ignored – the titular creature appears in 10 minutes out of 2 hours. Citing Bruce the Shark’s involvement in Jaws, the filmmaker wanted us to wait with anticipation. Sadly for him, audience members felt the distinctive sting of blue balls throughout the run-time. When announced as the director of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, film fans voiced concern. However, Edwards’ intentional pacing and hyper-serious tone suited the story. Focusing on war and despair, Edwards crafted stakes and thrilling moments in spite of a conventional story.

4. Gareth Evans – The Raid: Redemption, The Raid 2: Berandal

la-1797711-ca-0313-raid-gareth-evans-jlc-03c-jpg-20140331This young Welsh filmmaker became an overnight sensation in 2011. The Raid: Redemption  took the film festival world by storm. The movie mixed conventional story with a brand new attitude. Set in Indonesia, the movie sees a SWAT team infiltrate a high-rise tower in the middle of a lower-class district. Of course, nothing goes according to plan. The movie lets the cast and crew to showcase their strengths. The movie brought intricate martial art pencak silat into the public consciousness. More so, it’s a ferocious and lightning-quick action-thriller with unlimited tension and spectacle. The lead actor, Iko Uwais, was a silent, vicious action hero throwing a million kicks and punches per second. The Raid 2: Berandal upped the ante, borrowing from a slew of asian martial-arts epics and American crime-gangster flicks. Should be make his Hollywood debut or stay in Asia and continue his run of manic action/martial arts projects?

3. Robert Eggers – The Witch

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American writer/director Robert Eggers went from obscurity to public notice in 2016. Critically and (surprisingly) commercially successful horror-thriller The Witch sent horror fans and general audiences into a frenzy. One of the year’s biggest surprise hits focused on a Puritan family in 17th century New England, banished to the woods in the outer districts. The family, in true horror-period fashion, are terrorised by evil forces and their ever-increasing paranoia. Eggers stuck to the essential elements, focusing on the family throughout its tight running time. As the forces of evil and each family member collide, the atmosphere becomes increasingly uncomfortable. Exorcisms, jumpscares and chases include an array of unexpected surprises. His style helped to deliver powerhouse performances from newcomer Anya Taylor-Joy and Kate Dickie. The Nosferatu remake is in the best hands possible.

2. Rian Johnson – Brick, Looper

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Writer, producer and director Rian Johnson could be the next great saviour of big-budget cinema. The filmmaker burst onto the scene with neo-noir/teen adventure Brick. Brick introduced a whole new generation to noir whilst shooting Joseph Gordon-Levitt into the stratosphere. Johnson followed it up with The Brothers Bloom, giving Adrian Brody, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel Weisz etc. a fun crime-comedy to work with. In both movies, Johnson showcased a pulpy directorial style, unique sense of humour and solid connections with actors. 2012’s Looper launched Johnson into superstardom. The sci-fi action smash gave us the last great Bruce Willis performance (a feat, in itself). The movie effortlessly balances sci-fi tropes with strong emotional heft and exhilarating action sequences. His next, Star Wars Episode VIII, is sure to give him a wider audience and freedom for future pet projects.

1. Denis Villeneuve – Sicario, Arrival

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French-Canadian writer/director Denis Villeneuve is one of Hollywood’s weirdest and most wonderful filmmakers. He turned heads with mystery-drama Incendies. The movie’s dark, sickening tone and thrilling twists turned heads. 2013 crime-drama Prisoners gave Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal meatier roles. Thanks to Roger Deakins’ cinematography and tough source material, the movie shot to many critics’ top-10 lists. Along with hypnotic 2014 flick Enemy, 2015’s Sicario gave Villeneuve even more attention. The movie saw Emily Blunt as a SWAT team member fighting a losing battle in the war on drugs. Recruited for a top-secret spec-ops program, she delves into sick, twisted world of bureaucracy, lies and murder. Villeneuve, re-teaming with Deakins, delivered a tight, taut crime-thriller about the government/security’s darker shades. More so, this year’s Arrival is a haunting and thought-provoking snapshot of our times. Blade Runner 2049 should pay off in spades.

Reshoot & Rewind’s Bottom 10 of 2016


My love of cinema extends to the good, the bad and the ugly. Always, I want to walk into a movie and walk out more excited than before. I want to be continually blown away by the majesty and wonder of cinema. However, 2016 gave me only a handful of those moments. Over and over again, I saw sequels, reboots, prequels etc. fail to live up to their potential. Many movies showcased clear mistakes that could have been avoided by script polishes and a few more people saying ‘no’. This year, more than almost any other, highlighted Hollywood greed at its most cynical and detrimental. The movies on this top 10 list made me angry and upset. It pains to see so many talented people involved in such woeful, misguided material. I suspect several A-listers will go back to the drawing board in 2017.

10. Gods of Egypt 

gods-of-egyptDirector Alex Proyas used to make seminal genre pieces like Dark City and Crow. Even I, Robot is an entertaining experience. However, Knowing and now Gods of Egypt illustrate a sharp decline in quality. This action-adventure shows an artist at the end of his tether. This once-great filmmaker has seemingly used up his energy and ambition throughout earlier projects. Gods of Egypt is yet another laughable and anachronistic sword-and-sandal epic. A top-notch cast – including Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Gerard Butler, Elodie Yung and Chadwick Boseman – struggle through an abhorrent screenplay and sluggish direction.

9. Point Break

pointbreakver8xlgjpg-c73302_1280w1991’s Point Break, directed by Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty), exists to show off sun, sand and it’s leads’ pure charisma. Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze deliver fun turns in a wild, unrestrained action flick. Sadly, its sheen fails to rub off on the remake. Unknown director Ericson Core directs a 2-hour Red Bull commercial without the cheap thrills or any style. Truly, this has no wings. Luke Bracey and Edgar Ramirez, although excellent in other movies, struggle to provide any enthusiasm. Both look like they are being held at gunpoint whilst reading off cue-cards simultaneously.

8. The Divergent Series: Allegiant

allegiant-movieThe Divergent Series: Allegiant represents the last gasp of air taken by the Young Adult genre. The studio made the ultimate, and evil, decision to split the last book into two big-budget movies. Thankfully, this movie bombed exponentially. A dwindling fan-base and lacklustre execution forced the final instalment into straight-to-TV exile. The third installment is somehow worse than Divergent and Insurgent. It commits several crimes. Most of all, it steals wholeheartedly from Harry Potter and The Hunger Games  without hiding it. Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Ansel Elgort and Miles Teller are hindered by silly material and confusing plotting.

7. Bad Santa 2

"Bad Santa 2" Day 23Bad Santa 2 is one of two atrocious comedy-sequels on this list. About 10 minutes into this one, I began contemplating where my life was headed. Billy Bob Thornton’s newfound fame – thanks to Fargo and Goliath – spurred on the creation of this mindless wreck. Like most comedy-sequels, this copies and pastes whole scenes, plot-lines, character arcs and jokes from the original. Tony Cox returns to highlight the downward slope his career has taken. In addition, Kathy Bates joins the cast as Thornton’s mother (talk about fantasy!). The original’s shock-value is replaced with deeply unfunny and offensive gags.

6. Sausage Party

maxresdefaultProducer/performer Seth Rogen re-teams with creative partner Evan Goldberg for another loud, brash comedy. This time around, the pair take aim at Pixar/Dreamworks with disastrous results. The movie’s premise, although intriguing, runs out of steam early on. The movie blatantly copies Toy Story‘s living-inanimate-objects gimmick without the fun, boisterous style. The joke wears out quickly. The comedy is reduced to expletives and lazy sexual references. At this point, Rogen and co. should know better. Worse still, the finale delivers the worst off all worlds for a tasteless orgy sequence that feels 10 hours long.

5. Criminal 

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Criminal represents the very worst of action cinema and blockbuster filmmaking today. Talented A-listers including Kevin Costner, Tommy Lee Jones and Gary Oldman are dragged down by this lame, despicable and mean-spirited sci-fi/thriller/actioner. The far-fetched premise is driven into the ground by the execution. Costner plays a borderline-disabled prisoner selected for a secret-operations program involving another person’s memories being planted into his brain. From there, his horrific lead character injures and kills innocent people without quit. Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot are also stranded thanks to wasted material.

4. Mother’s Day 

mothersday_trailer2The late Garry Marshall rounded out his career with one regrettable project after another. Valentine’s Day, New Years Eve and Mother’s Day turned audiences into suckers, taking everyone’s money and offering nothing in return. Like the preceding holiday-themed movies, Mother’s Day follows multiple plot-lines and characters over one particular day of the year. The movie’s lack of focus or emotional heft is obvious. Marshall’s latest is hamstrung by the budget, looking almost like a student film. Basic filmmaking rules are squandered, while the cast cashes their egregious paycheques. Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston and co. barely escape with their careers in tact.

3. Grimsby

13-grimsbySasha Baron Cohen’s career started promisingly thanks to Ali G, Borat and Bruno. His shock-fuelled humour and faux-documentary stylings made for hilarious adventures. However, The Dictator and Grimsby prove he has nothing left in tank. Like Adam Sandler, Cohen pulls out the cliches for a paycheque and vacation to an exotic paradise. This time, he drags noted character-actor Mark Strong, wife Isla Fisher and knockout Penelope Cruz down with him. The movie throws out a collection of preposterous gross-out gags and mediocre pop-culture references. Digs at Donald Trump, FIFA and Daniel Radcliffe are borderline offensive without being even vaguely clever.

2. Zoolander 2

titleWriter, director and actor Ben Stiller spent years listening to requests for another Zoolander installment. This follow-up to the 2001 sleeper hit showcases the A-lister’s cynicism and fatigue. Stiller stars as everyone’s favourite dumbass male model, re-teaming with Hansel (Owen Wilson) to take on Mugatu (Will Ferrell). This lazy, shallow cash-grab shows off just how little these actors care. Wilson and Ferrell are stranded thanks to contractual obligation. Like many sequels, this one slouches through an uninspired spy-caper plot minus joy or laughs. Stiller’s pet project resembles Hollywood greed turned up to 11. This parade of celebrity cameos, cheap gags and dull performances is excruciating.

1. Dirty Grandpa

maxresdefault-1Veteran performer Robert De Niro, over the past 20 years, has delivered a string of flops. The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle birthed a new era of veteran actors taking quick paycheques. Dirty Grandpa is the epicentre of awful. De Niro and Zac Efron look to be destroying their own careers. De Niro shouts out harsh, vulgar, inappropriate, sexists and homophobic comments every milisecond. Efron is pushed to the sidelines as the 73-year-old embarrasses himself and becomes a shell of his former self. This hate-filled movie is pure, unadulterated and uncut anti-cinema.

Dishonourable mentions:

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, The Legend of Tarzan, The Boss, The Danish Girl, The Huntsman: Winter’s War, Alice Through the Looking Glass, Now You See Me 2, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, Mr Right, Warcraft, Ben-Hur, Independence Day: Resurgence, Inferno, Keeping Up with the Joneses, The Bronze, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Me Before You, London Has Fallen, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, Why Him?.

Biggest Disappointments:

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad, Jason Bourne, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, Concussion, Bad Neighbours 2, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, X-Men: Apocalypse, How to Be Single, Money Monster, Office Christmas Party, The BFG, War Dogs, Free State of Jones, Snowden, The Girl on the Train, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, The Accountant, Keanu, The Finest Hours, Jane Got a Gun, Ride Along 2, The Infiltrator, Pete’s Dragon, Allied, A Bigger Splash, Joe Cinque’s Consolation, Kung Fu Panda 3, Trumbo, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.

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