Category Archives: Reviews

Mortdecai (David Koepp, 2015)

This piece was originally published at Sound On Sight, which is no longer active. The below is an edit from 7 May 2018.

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Seemingly late in the game of David Koepp’s Mortdecai, the eponymous character (played by Johnny Depp) asks his wife, “Are you quite finished with your barrage of insults?” It’s an apt question for the film itself, a cataclysmically unfunny, unbelievably tedious disaster of baffling misjudgments and multiple career lows that feels as long as Shoah, and only a little less harrowing. No such luck, though, as the film goes on for another 25 minutes. It then ends on people about to throw up. Also apt. Continue reading Mortdecai (David Koepp, 2015)

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Big Eyes (Tim Burton, 2014)

With Big Eyes, Tim Burton takes a break from his spate of auto-pilot adaptations (be it butchering Alice in Wonderland or remaking his own early short films) to tell a more engaging tale than the dreary films of his recent creative slump. Based on true events which took place in the 1950s and 60s, it explores a decade in the life of Margaret Keane (Amy Adams, reliably strong in the lead), who spent years producing cutesy paintings of big-eyed, miserable children that captured the public’s imagination (and their cash). The only problem is that no one knew the paintings were hers, as emotionally manipulative husband Walter (Christoph Waltz) passed himself off as the artist and claimed all the fame…

Full review for The Skinny

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (Peter Jackson, 2014)

What began with An Unexpected Journey ends in an altogether expected fashion, as Peter Jackson wraps up his frequently misguided three-part adaptation of The Hobbit with basically no (pleasant) surprises and most of the same weaknesses that plagued both …Journey and The Desolation of Smaug. There is a smattering of fantasy fun amid the po-faced gloom, though. On a minute-by-minute basis, The Battle of the Five Armies – by far the shortest of Jackson’s Middle Earth films – is the most solid entry of this prequel trilogy…

Full review for The Skinny

Youth of the Beast (Seijun Suzuki, 1963)

In 1968, Japanese director Seijun Suzuki saw his long-standing contract with the Nikkatsu studio terminated for repeatedly turning routine potboiler scripts he was given into increasingly surreal, visually uninhibited gangster movies, such as avant-garde masterworks Branded to Kill and Tokyo Drifter. 1963’s Youth of the Beast rarely reaches quite the same fantastic heights of kaleidoscopic imagery, but within it the seeds of Suzuki’s later, greater madness were sown…

Full review for The Skinny

Horns (Alexandre Aja, 2013)

An adaptation of Joe Hill’s novel of the same name, Horns is a fantasy fable that works well for scattered stretches of its very bloated runtime, but is too tone-deaf everywhere else to fully satisfy. It tells the story of Ig Parrish (Radcliffe, doing some fine work with rage, despair, and an American accent), a man wrongfully accused of the rape and murder of his girlfriend, Merrin (Temple), but unable to muster much of a legal defence, or even sympathy. One morning, he awakens with a set of devilish horns upon his skull, which makes anyone in his presence compelled to reveal their own personal demons and act out sins. With his new powers, Ig goes gumshoe to try and solve Merrin’s murder…

Full review for The Skinny

Grand Central (Rebecca Zlotowski, 2013)

Nuclear radiation provides the unusual backdrop for a love affair in Grand Central. Tahar Rahim plays Gary, a man with an unclear criminal background who begins work at a nuclear power plant, where several employees take him under their wing and advise how to stay safe and get ahead. One night after work, he meets Karole (Seydoux), the fiancée of co-worker Toni (Denis Ménochet). Following an immediate attraction, the two promptly fail to keep their passions and loyalties in check and begin romping on a regular basis…

Full review for The Skinny

Stations of the Cross (Dietrich Brüggemann, 2014)

Stations of the Cross is made up of 14 segments, each filmed in a single long and often static take, where meticulous compositions and dry performances drive a biting look at fundamentalist Catholicism and domineering parenting, as well as the surrounding secular society that fails to properly intervene when one young girl takes the notion of sacrifice for following God’s will too far…

Full review for The Skinny