Showing posts from November 5, 2017

Review: The Neon Demon

Sweet teenager Elle Fanning has moved to LA in hopes of making it as a fashion model. Her quick ascendance rubs some of the other beauty-obsessed young models (particularly Bella Heathcoate and Abby Lee) the wrong way, but make-up artist Jena Malone takes her under her wing. Keanu Reeves plays a surly motel manager, Desmond Harrington is a photographer, Alessandro Nivola a fashion designer, and Christina Hendricks is the head of the modelling agency hiring Fanning. Although nowhere near as bad as I had heard, this 2016 flick is definitely the weakest film I’ve seen from writer-director Nicolas Winding Refn ( “Valhalla Rising” and “Drive” being his best). It really doesn’t go anywhere for the first hour and although it sets up quite the sleazy Jess Franco-esque look, sound, and mood it ultimately completely cops out on the sex. Given the age of the protagonist I understand why, but if you’re going to set the film up a certain way you can’t really end up wimping out, either.

Review: Melinda and Melinda

A group are having dinner and discussing whether life is a tragedy or comedy. The film follows the interpretation of two of the diners of differing sensibilities (Wallace Shawn and Larry Pine) using a similar set of circumstances. Both stories centre on a woman named Melinda (Radha Mitchell) crashing a dinner party. The comedic one (though both have elements of comedy and drama) has Melinda living downstairs from pretentious filmmaker Amanda Peet and her domesticated former actor husband Will Ferrell, who quickly becomes smitten with Melinda. In the ‘tragic’ story, Melinda is the old friend of Chloe Sevigny, and an unstable young woman who recently lost custody of her kids. Sevigny, meanwhile is unhappily married to the decidedly unfaithful Jonny Lee Miller. Chiwetel Ejiofor appears in the tragic version as a Harlem musician Melinda is interested in, whereas Josh Brolin plays the potential suitor in the comedy version. Brooke Smith plays a mutual friend of the women in the tragic v

Review: Session 9

A group of asbestos cleaners are given an assignment to clean up an abandoned former psychiatric institution. The leader of the group Peter Mullan tells his employer that they can be in and out in a week, something co-worker David Caruso feels is way too much for them to handle. It’s not long before the guys all start to crumble under stress, with Mullan plagued with guilt over his strained marriage, Stephen Gevedon becoming obsessed with audio tapes of the psychiatric sessions that explain the film’s title, etc. Meanwhile, resident a-hole of the bunch Josh Lucas (who has shacked up with Caruso’s ex and likes to taunt him over it) appears, disappears, and then re-appears…but isn’t quite the same. A fantastic mullet-sporting Brendan Sexton III plays the youngest of the cleaners who is also afraid of the dark, whilst Paul Guilfoyle is the guy who hires them for the gig. This 2001 genre flick from director Brad Anderson (the romance “Next Stop Wonderland” , the Halle Berry crime/t

Review: City by the Sea

Homicide cop Robert De Niro, whose father was a convicted child killer, investigates the death of a low-level drug dealer, revisiting his home turf of Long Beach in the process. But before he has time to wax nostalgic, De Niro realises he has greater problems; His estranged, drug-addicted son (James Franco) is the main suspect! Now De Niro finds himself weighing his responsibilities of upholding the law with the responsibilities of being a father, the latter is something he has so far been terrible at. Patti LuPone is De Niro’s embittered ex who doesn’t want his help, Frances McDormand is his patient new love interest, George Dzundza is his buddy on the force, and Eliza Dushku is Franco’s junkie girlfriend (trying to go straight, of course) and mother of his child. Well-intentioned, but entirely flat and strangely uninvolving 2002 Michael Caton-Jones (the overrated “Rob Roy” , and the much better “This Boy’s Life” ) film scores somewhat, whenever it focuses on Franco (in a thor

Review: Doctor Strange

Cocky but brilliant neurosurgeon Dr. Stephen Strange gets into an horrific car accident that shatters the bones in his much-needed hands. After trying just about everything in the book, a tip-off from a man he once turned away (Benjamin Bratt) leads Strange to Kamar-Taj in Nepal, a temple presided over by The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton). It is here that Strange will (after freeing himself of ego) learn to expand his mind, twist reality, master the various dimensional planes, learn to control time, and conjure magic energy. Oh, and dabble in martial-arts on occasion. Chiwetel Ejiofor plays The Ancient One’s disciple Karl Mordo, Benedict Wong plays Wong who is basically the no-nonsense temple librarian, Rachel McAdams is Strange’s girlfriend and fellow surgeon, and Mads Mikkelson plays Kaecilius, who will be your villain today. Perhaps a bit plagiaristic at times, this 2016 Marvel comics adaptation from director Scott Derrickson (whose films range from the fun “Sinister” and “Po

Review: Unforgiven

A couple of thugs cut up the face of a whore (Anna Levine), and the rest of the working gals (led by Frances Fisher) send for someone to take out the two men responsible for a financial reward. Eager to take up the challenge but too inexperienced to do it on his own, ‘The Schofield Kid’ (Jaimz Woolvett) enlists the partnership of long-domesticated gunslinger William Munny (Clint Eastwood). Munny’s wife made him quit the killing business and although she has since passed on, they have two young kids. Needing the cash, Munny reluctantly picks up his old trade, rather unconvincingly leaves the kids on their own and rides off with ‘The Kid’. They soon pick up a third man, Munny’s old gun-slinging pal Ned (Morgan Freeman), though ‘The Kid’ refuses to cut the reward into thirds, so Munny agrees to split his half with Ned. They’re on their way to Big Whiskey, a town ruled over by intimidating sheriff Little Bill (Gene Hackman), who isn’t corrupt, but will brutally fight to keep trouble out