Movie Review: MANCHESTER BY THE SEA – slow burning, heartbreaking character-driven drama with hugely affecting performances all round.

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I had planned on watching Manchester By The Sea, written and directed by Kenneth Lonergen, last night anyway, but feeling somewhat shamed by a buddy’s implication that I watch too many genre movies, I could not waver on that plan!  As soon as I heard Casey Affleck had produced a performance worthy of acclaim, culminating in an Oscars nomination for Best Actor, I was intrigued.  Wee Affleck?  In a role that Matt Damon was originally set to play?  But then I suddenly remembered that this wasn’t the first time he’d been nominated, and sure enough, a trip to Wikipedia shows that he was nominated as a Best Supporting Actor for his role in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.

Continue reading “Movie Review: MANCHESTER BY THE SEA – slow burning, heartbreaking character-driven drama with hugely affecting performances all round.”

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Movie Review: ASSASSIN’S CREED – video game adaptation fails to engage as a movie on just about every level.

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Given that I already knew Assassin’s Creed was a critical dud, why did I end up watching it?  I’m asking that myself, having witnessed it first hand.  I don’t usually read reviews of movies I’m going to watch in case they might influence my viewing and elements of my own reviews, and I didn’t with this one – one look at the Rotten Tomatoes aggregate score was all I needed to know.  As anyone who’s scrolled through my reviews knows, I’m largely a genre fan, so some movies I’ll watch regardless – that’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it.

Continue reading “Movie Review: ASSASSIN’S CREED – video game adaptation fails to engage as a movie on just about every level.”

Movie Review: THE GREAT WALL – Utterly forgettable, underwritten monsters-attack movie. Even Damon looks uncommitted.

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D’you remember last year when Matt (Jason Bourne)Damon had to defend himself from accusations of what is referred to as “cultural appropriation” after doing a press junket for his movie The Great Wall?  The accuser here was TV actress Constance Wu, who clearly only knew two things about the movie: that it was set in ancient China and starred white actor Matt Damon.  Of course, it had to be racist casting, right?  Trouble was, Wu had not read the screenplay and likely had not looked at the trades before jumping to her conclusions.  The Chinese influence behind the camera on this movie is significant, and Damon was hired specifically because of worldwide name recognition.  With a budget of $135 million on the line, it made sense to put someone like Damon in the lead role in order to guarantee a healthy global return.

Continue reading “Movie Review: THE GREAT WALL – Utterly forgettable, underwritten monsters-attack movie. Even Damon looks uncommitted.”

Movie Review: SHUT IN – a good performance from Naomi Watts overshadowed by the spectacularly bad “WTF?” reveal.

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If there’s one single thing about movie marketing I absolutely cannot stand, it’s the bait and switch.  It usually happens when either the studio knows they have a dog on their hands through test marketing, or they find themselves with a movie on their hands that defies a target market.  I remember there was a big stink from fans of the 2012 movie John Carter, based on the John Carter of Mars series of books by Edgar Rice Burroughs, because of a weak and ineffective marketing campaign.  The trouble here was with the movie, a wretched piece of badly written drivel.  When movies can spend close to $100 million alone on marketing, sometimes a movie is just so poor that the studio cuts its losses and declines to throw good money after bad.  An example of not knowing who to market to is the recent movie A Monster Calls, with an ad campaign that tried to appeal to the same crowd as those who loved The Iron Giant and The BFG.  Last night’s movie, Shut In, is a classic example of marketing bait and switch.

Continue reading “Movie Review: SHUT IN – a good performance from Naomi Watts overshadowed by the spectacularly bad “WTF?” reveal.”

Movie Review: THE EYES OF MY MOTHER – impressive, nihilistic horror debut for young moviemaker Nicolas Pesce.

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I’d been awaiting The Eyes of My Mother for almost a year.  I remember hearing some buzz back in April or May last year from a friend who had seen a print and raved about it.  “You saw Audition, right?” he asked.  Well sure, I’ve seen Audition, and almost every Takashi Miike movie – but I can’t say I’m a particular fan of his work.  If The Eyes Of My Mother was being compared to Audition, I was interested, but knew I’d approach my eventual viewing warily.  Not that I don’t like gore, and not that I can’t take disturbing content – I watched the infamous “three  guys one hammer” video unflinching, and that’s like stunt-eating the hottest wings on the planet.  Once you’ve watched THAT, something like Audition isn’t going to make a major impact. Continue reading “Movie Review: THE EYES OF MY MOTHER – impressive, nihilistic horror debut for young moviemaker Nicolas Pesce.”

Movie Review: A MONSTER CALLS – beautiful, poignant modern fable that left me in tears. A must-see.

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I hadn’t even heard of A Monster Calls until a few weeks ago, and then only had some interest because it starred Felicity Jones (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story), whom I like.  Had no idea what the story was about (it’s adapted by Patrick Ness, from his novel of the same name), or if it was live action or animated.  The movie poster is vague to say the least, as you can see.  I put it on the back burner.  Last week I read a short blurb that gave off an Iron Giant kind of vibe, and that kind of tied into the poster.  Not like I had a ton of enthusiasm, but whatever was there ebbed away a little.  Listen, not like I don’t love The Iron Giant like everyone else, but I don’t need to see a knock off.  Movie came, movies went, and last night while home alone I decided to watch a double bill.  The second movie was The Eyes Of My Mother, first was A Monster Calls.  And frankly, it blew me away.

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Movie Review: V/H/S VIRAL – third in the series proves the law of diminishing returns is alive and well

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There are two reasons I watched V/H/S Viral, despite its lousy ratings: one being I’ve already watched the first two, so why not, and the other being that it contains a segment by Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, who wrote and directed the movies Resolution and Spring, both of which I rated highly.  Before I dig in, I’ll say that I’m likely not alone in thinking the series is hit or miss – and I guess when you’re working in an anthology format, with all different creators, it’s going to happen.  I mostly enjoyed the first movie, and the second one was notable only for the death-cult segment, Safe Haven.  Unfortunately, V/H/S Viral proves true the law of diminishing returns.  Continue reading “Movie Review: V/H/S VIRAL – third in the series proves the law of diminishing returns is alive and well”