Monsters: Dark Continent (Tom Green, 2014)

In the vein of the genre switch-up between Alien and AliensMonsters sequel Dark Continent is an action-orientated take on the setup of the more modest original, with road trip leanings swapped for a bigger scope, explosions and fire-power…

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Kingsman: The Secret Service (Matthew Vaughn, 2014)

Reuniting the director, chief screenwriter and source material scribe of Kick-Ass (Matthew Vaughn, Jane Goldman and Mark Millar respectively), Kingsman: The Secret Service is similarly concerned with cartoonish hyper-violence and lame shock tactic vulgarity. It too has the sense of humour of the stereotypical straight teenage male, and also takes the form of a boneheaded “subversion” of a beloved action subgenre (superheroes last time, spy fiction this time). It’s largely insufferable…

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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This piece was originally published at Sound On Sight, which is no longer active.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)

The Place Beyond the Mines: Writer-director Sara Colangelo on ‘Little Accidents’

This piece was originally published at Sound On Sight, which is no longer active.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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The feature debut of writer-director Sara Colangelo, Little Accidents is an intense small-town drama that premiered to positive notices at the 2014 instalment of the Sundance Film Festival, and is now seeing a release one year on. Starring Elizabeth Banks, Boyd Holbrook, Jacob Lofland, Josh Lucas and Chloë Sevigny, it concerns several players in a town recently devastated by a fatal mining accident. There’s Amos (Holbrook), the sole survivor of the accident that killed ten of his colleagues; Owen (Lofland), whose father was one of those who perished; Bill (Lucas), a mining company executive whose role in the accident has made his family a target of contempt for the town’s anger and sorrow; and Diane (Banks), Bill’s mostly housebound wife, who finds herself drifting away from her partner, and not just because their teenage son has gone missing.

In the week leading up to the film’s debut in American cinemas, Colangelo was kind enough to speak to Sound On Sight about the story’s roots, her cinematic inspirations and intentions, and her experience with the Sundance Institute’s famed Screenwriters and Directors Labs. Continue reading The Place Beyond the Mines: Writer-director Sara Colangelo on ‘Little Accidents’

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…

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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…

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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…

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Writing by Josh Slater-Williams