Reviews

50 ReviewsOrdered By: Date
Novemberkind (2008)
Wobbly and Contrived in Some Areas, But Generally a Competent Movie
13 July 2017
As far as Inga knows, she was raised by her grandparents after her mother drowned. An aspiring writer, Robert, happens to come about her real back story and makes contact with Inga, with an ill-conceived plan to use her as the subject in his first novel without her knowledge, taking notes about her as she goes about uncovering her past.

Acting overall is fine. However, the key failing of this movie is that both the protagonists do not aspire empathy and characters moving enough to inspire a strong interest from the viewer. Inge's reaction and behaviour is too adolescent and self-centred for us to care enough about her and her 'predicament', coming across as unnecessarily selfish and petulant, so we just watch her unmoved. Robert is too low-key,hesitant and annoying, so we too watch him unmoved.

Only the mother held some empathy from the viewer - a relatively small part, played by the same actress playing Inga the daughter -while the acting was fine, it is perplexing why the director would have both of these characters look exactly exactly exactly the same, which is ridiculous, confusing and annoying to the viewer. Using a more sepia tone to denote we are watching the past is not good enough when the two different characters obviously look identical.

Overall, it is a good enough effort from director Christian Schwochow, given this is his first feature length movie.
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Green Days (2010)
7/10
A Worthy Competent Animation
21 June 2017
The best thing about this animation are the visuals - the clarity and attention to details are mostly fascinating.

This movie is reasonably good but not superb, and definitely worthy of much more attention then it eventually received, having done rather poorly at the theatres, as I understand from Wikipedia. Sadly, after seven years since its release, I am the first (but hopefully not only) person to review it here.

While the animation is top notch, the premise is generally acceptable but not unique enough - movies with very similar storyline (both life and animated) about teenagers at school and growing up, have been thoroughly done all over the world - Korean and Japanese included. The plot is acceptable, but adds nothing new enough to make it stand out.

The pacing is also too slow (even the characters themselves often look bored), and the few main protagonists are not given enough oomph and the all important je-ne-sais-quoi to capture the viewers empathy and attention. (It also did not help that the version I saw did not have very good English subtitles - substantial meaning and nuances are probably lost through the poor translation and poor title timing).

An outstanding animation needs to have key traits about it that would make a life version of it lacking and inferior, compared to its animated version. However, Green Days can be easily conceived as being as good or better if done life - hence, while there are no complaints about the animation itself, at the same time, animation did not bring anything sufficiently unique or outstanding to the movie (except for the last 10 mins of the 'dinosaur park fantasy' sequence where animation did count).

Insufficient marketing funds aside, this animation while definitely worthy and competent, is not able to stand out from the crop of good to excellent similarly-themed animations that have emanated from Japan, and apart from the language there is nothing about it (probably unless you are Korean) that marks it out as quintessential 'Korean'.

Do I recommend it? Yes, sure of course - while it is not right up there amongst the best, it is still heads and shoulders above the host of other lesser animations.
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Sunshine (1999)
5/10
Sunshine Visuals, Clouded Drizzly Plot & Script
16 June 2017
Even by 1999 (that is when this movie is released), the dime-a-dozen premise and in-your-face moralizing that this movie offers is way passe. When I saw this in 2017, the problem is only exacerbated, there being many clone-after-clone movies of this nature having been released in between.

With greater inventiveness and a much tighter script, this movie could have stood the test of time. As it is, its is visually pleasing, but another way overlong humdrum decades spanning wannabe 'epic' with a childishly ambitious scripting and unnecessary voice-over 'let me tell you how fantastically unimaginable things were for us' schtick.

Squeezing in way way too many unnecessary and pointless dialogues, scenes and subplots that add nothing, while skipping over important developments in the blink of an eye, brought this elephantine movie to 3 hours, when much much more impact could have been delivered in a more professionally tightened and focused script at under 2 hours.

Trying to bang-in on Ralph Fiennes star-power by letting him play three generations of himself looking and behaving exactly himself with moustache on/off is just a ridiculous Monty Python joke - totally big mistake.

Someone in the directorial team must have also thought, "Oh sex sells, especially pseudo- incestious sort of sex so lets put in not one, but two of it. How brilliant of us!" Which of course just make a bigger lemon of the whole outing.

The exploding village refinery at the beginning of the movie, and the freezing second version of the same old same old Ralph Fiennes are about the only two interesting bits. The rest of the visuals are definitely worth viewing, but the main problem is the mundane scripting and the casting of Ralph Fiennes as cloned grandpa-dad-grandson and totally mirthful attempts at shock-family-sex-affairs, and of course the 3 hours of why-was-that-scene-even-necessary.

And of course it was a commercial flop. For me, also an artistic flop. Cinematography is the only plus.
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Colossal (2016)
6/10
Colossal? Well, could have been. As it is, just somewhat interesting.
4 June 2017
Conceptually, this movie could have indeed been huge colossal fun. Unfortunately, while the premise holds multitudes of promises and possibilities - for some strange reason, or just a total lack of imagination beyond the initial concept, the director/writer chooses a tone too low-key, a path too uneven, and the entire movie simply loiters, fumbles and meanders along without any enticing characterisation nor identity to hold up its lofty titling.

It is one of those movies which held such promise, but in the end cannot decide what it wants to be, and simply goes for a little of everything and ends up nothing very much, far far from the heights it could have been. While it tries to be different, what we eventually get is the reverse - bits of clichés from all sorts of genre - romcom, city girl in a small town, nice guy to dark guy, spoof, satire, black comedy, slapstick, fantasia, sci-fi, monsters & robots in the city, you name it ... none convincing nor properly developed, ending up with a pointless whimper in every category.

Anne Hathaway does try to hold it together, but the meandering hesitant plot and script just don't allow the actress (and her fellow actors) to gain a firm footing to propel the characters and movie forward - which indeed just got stuck in jerky low gear throughout.

Colossal waste of opportunity is what it finally is ... could have gone to very enticing places ... but it just didn't wanna have fun, didn't wanna get down to the groove, .... sput .... sput .... sputter .... end.
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10/10
Nagisa Ôshima's 100 Years
17 December 2016
When I watched it, the DVD was clearly entitled "Nagisa Ôshima's 100 Years of Japanese Cinema".

Nowhere in the DVD nor the narration that it purports to be the definitive "100 Years of Japanese Cinema", simply Nagisa Ôshima's OWN experience and view of it. Anyone with some intelligence and a clear open mind watching this short 54mins documentary with personalised narration would know it is not meant at all to be definitive in any way, but simply one person's view.

Except of course for the two pseudo-purists reviewers before me here who simply ignored this aspect and simply went on to blindly savage both this very interesting 'personalised view' and Nagisa Ôshima himself as if he is a demagogue interested merely in promoting himself.

This is totally far from the truth - it is these two ridiculously narrow-minded reviewers who are so keen to promote their own egoistical 'wow I am so knowledgeable of Japanese cinema' that they simply took cheap advantage of their own chosen misinterpretation to promote themselves. Ignore these two farcical and pretentious know-it-alls.

This personalised documentary is highly interesting in itself for what it is, with well-chosen imagery and snippets from a range of Japanese movies from 1910s to 1990s from a range of directors, and there is nothing about it that is meant to be definitive, and is great as it is.

Nagisa Ôshima's efforts to compile this set of quaint compelling imagery and narration representing his view is a treasure.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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Wild Oats (2016)
5/10
MacLaine & Lange Excellent! Such Wonderful Aged Wine Served in a Cheap Plastic Cup of a Script :(
7 October 2016
Both Shirley and Jessica are experienced talents capable of bringing to live a real topper script, compared to this humdrum 1980s TV movie script they've been saddled with.

If they had their hands on a truly competent script, these two would sizzle in both the comedic and dramatic aspects. The direction don't fare any much better, and all you get is a lazy evening mildly enjoyable fare.

Demi Moore is given next to nothing real to do here, except mouth tacky predictable soap opera lines ... another waste!

What wasted opportunity with such acting talents on hand!

Andy Tennant (Director here) just snoozing out another of his sub-par bland celluloid.

The producer, script writer, director ... all ought to be zip-locked and cast away into 80s TV movie land!
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5/10
Wasted Opportunity. Simply Trite and Just Not Compelling.
30 August 2016
In better hands - scripting, directing and casting of main character - this would have been a winner of a movie based on a real-to-life mathematical genius.

As it is, the whole thing is simply trite, contrived and a whole waste of a good opportunity. Right up front, the use of near standard English by the Indian cast who were supposed to be from the "abject poverty" of Madras is downright unbelievable and ridiculous.

The script doesn't know what it wants to focus on - is it about an Indian displaced in England? Is it about the genius of the man? Is it about the tribulations of leaving your young wife and family to go abroad? Is it about another important leap of mankind in the area of mathematics? Is it about the relationship between a student and his mentor? It is all over the place and at the same time pointless and trite.

Jeremy Irons is superb and is the only key redeeming feature of the whole movie. Cinematography is colour-by-numbers, but good enough. Apart from the mundane meandering scripting, Dev Patel is a total miscast. He is simply a one-dimensional school play actor who simply does not at all have the talent to take on the range a proper lead sorely requires. He is just playing himself in all the movies he has done - same doe-eyed expression, same hesitating mannerisms, same scuttling around, same intonation, just same himself - he does not at all inhabit this very important lead character, and his amateurism is just a constant sore annoyance throughout the movie.

This movie is a dis-service to Srinivasa Ramanujan. It doesn't give any insight into his genius nor a sense of his highly unique and compelling short life.

Watch it with little expectations, and it may be mildly entertaining, but never interesting, and certainly never compelling.
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7/10
Enjoyable Adventure, Plot Kinda If-fish
21 July 2016
The latest installment of the franchise is packed with action and physical combat, and is an enjoyable enough adventure in itself, but breaks no new grounds in terms of sci-fi film- making nor advancing the Enterprise and it's crew in any longer term arc.

The plot is kind of loopy and unconvincing, and one kinda of have to just ignore the weaknesses and just go with the action. The motivational element of the villain(s) is more of a 'really? That's it?" The Enterprise and its crew seems to have gone into 'unchartered' space rather carelessly and unprepared, and too easily overwhelmed. Also, Krall, the villain, could have simply threatened first to get the 'thingy' he wanted, and effectively demonstrated the efficacy of his threat, rather than go into the, "Who is he? Why is he doing all this massive destruction? What does he want?" Anyway …. see it for the adventure, not the strategy and logic (despite Spock).

Some plot devices are just overly retro and tacky in a bad way e.g. playing loud metal-rock music to blast the smithereens of the rival multitudes of space pods => really? Some parts can also be a tad too Indiana Jones.

There are probably too many scenes on terra-firma (almost three quarter of the movie). Being a Star Trek movie, one would probably expect more intergalactic actions.

There is a reasonably good attempt at humor and most are worthy of a smile, though the overall dialogue could do with more oomph and sufficient gravitas. Chris Pine's Captain Kirk somehow does not come across here as sufficiently Captain-ny, and he looks a little blotted and not quite in tip-top shape. I think Idris Elba would have been a much more effective menacing villain (he has the look and the talent to pull it off) if they had NOT alien- masked him. As it is, he is indistinguishable, and is just another space-age movie villain.

The stand-out character would be Sofia Boutella's white-bodied Jaylah, who flowed into the character smoothly and would likely see her again in future installments. (Sofia also did an excellent job as the blade-legged lady in 'Kingsman The Secret Service')

Sadly, this would be the last outing for Anton Yelchin as Chekov (though he has four other upcoming movies in the pipeline). Also included is a little tribute to the late Leonard Nimoy. As for the 'gay Sulu' thing - hardly noticeable nor matter - that little non-dialogue scene could just as easily be about his brother and niece.

Enjoyable enough, nothing disappointing, but nothing to write home about either. Worth a watch!
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8/10
Mainly Hits The Mark - Both as a Compelling Drama of an Unusual Family & a Social Commentary
14 July 2016
As an almost first time director (his second), Matt Ross, did a fantastic job with Captain Fantastic, appropriately nuanced without being cloying, anti-establishment without being absurdist, interesting multi-dimensional characters without caricatures, and different yet being sufficiently mainstream, skillfully steering the difficult edges between realism, satire, and drama.

In lesser hands, it could have become another Jason Bateman or Robin Williams type of one-dimensional comedy or pretentious drama - which unfortunately the likes of The Family Fang (acted and directed by Jason Bateman, whom I like as an actor, but doesn't yet have the director's chop) fell into despite its initial promise of being a Wes Anderson type black comedy.

Matt Ross is also an accomplished actor - I remember him as the shallow conniving yet cowardly Alby Grant from Big Love some years back. So effective was he in that TV series, that I find it hard to accept that such a low-down 'character' could bring such warmth and empathy towards Captain Fantastic as a director - which could have in lesser directorial hands become affected and pretentiously clever rather than the effective portrayal of an unusual non-mainstream family.

The casting is excellent, including the mother who we only see in brief flashbacks or as a dead body - but everything about her face and the way the others interacted and talked about her fits in like hand and glove, providing the believability that is required to carry the movie forward given the unusual premise the family is in.

The children and of course the father (Viggo Mortensen) played their roles very realistically without under or over-playing it, which they could easily have done, which would then change the whole tone of the movie to something plain, loud, crass and boringly overly showy and dramatized or 'comedied'.

Kudos too to the director's sensitivity in not turning the grandfather into another one- dimensional white selfish righteous rich buffoon. It almost went there, but pulled back just in time.

There are of course some inconsistencies (e.g. how did the girls have nicely coiffed tresses, or the kids ever learning things just sitting down and reading 'deep' books, etc) and un-explained fast forwards (e.g. how could all the children hide beneath the bus floor for so many hours, and why the grandparents did not alert the police of their absence, or why digging up a grave by the whole family did not raise any alarm, etc) - but at the end of the day, they mattered somewhat, but not enough to mar the flow, impact and enjoyability of the movie.

Go see it!
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On the Road (2012)
4/10
Way Too Little, Too Late, Too Long, …. Simply Uninteresting
3 July 2016
A movie is definitely in big trouble if the cameo roles (and there are many here) are way way more interesting than the movie is by a long shot. And yes, this movie is that movie.

It has pretty good cinematography, very competent actors all round. Each minute if taken in itself could be part of a great movie … but string them all together all 143 minutes of it (and I saw the long version!) …. it becomes one pointless uninteresting movie.

The many many sex scenes are unnecessary and pointless. It's the only movie that could make Kristen Stewart wanking off two guys, all three totally naked while speeding down the road … totally inconsequential and just plain contrived and boring.

If this movie had come out when the characters it was based on were still fresh and hot … like in the 60s … it could have been of some interest. In the 21st century … it's passé.

Seeing a bunch of unremarkable everyday deadbeats wasting their pointless life on pointless things … who cares. Deadbeats traveling around doing irresponsible selfish nonsensical things while simply backstabbing and laying waste to one another … just not interesting at all.

But the worse of it is, it's really not about the material nor the time nor the premise. The main problem is really just mundane uninspired direction and scripting (though technically competent but not great). A movie like this needs to take on a very different inspired approach that would bring out the freshness and the meaning of these meaningless souls straying in the American landscape in the beat era (and not just come across as ordinary boring deadbeats who you'd rather not bother to know).

But the opportunity was lost on the director and the scriptwriter who just did the technically competent 'tell it like it is' …. boring and uninteresting be damned. And well it is. In truly competent hands, this sort of movie could sparkle, especially with such a good cast and cameos. As it is, the cast efforts …. simply wasted.

Quoting or mumbling poetry and having percussion jazz just doesn't cut it … just makes it come across as desperate, pretentious, uninspired. (Btw - the percussion jazz was nice, but out of place in this movie and comes across as misplaced and distracting)

Truly, what a waste!
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