Thursday, April 4, 2013
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Jake Abel, Max Irons, Chandler Canterbury, Frances Fisher, Diane Kruger, William Hurt, Boyd Holbrook, Scott Lawrence
In a post apocalyptic Earth, the human race has been demolished by a mostly civil alien species that uses human bodies as a 'host'. Melanie (Ronan) is captured and planted with an alien 'soul' called Wanderer who struggles to battle Melanie's thoughts even after they return to searching for the hidden rebellion of human's lead by her uncle Jeb (Hurt).
This is novelist Stephenie Meyer's second attempt at a film franchise after the massive success of the Twilight series, however it suffers the same fate. Young teenage girls who enjoy the fact that most of the film is set in a cave yet no one ever has any dirt on them can be fascinated all they like, buy Meyer is playing with the same formula and even though this does have some magic about it, it's still not up to scratch.
Kruger is perfectly cast as the Seeker who has some vendetta against the humans, though we never find out why. Ronan does what she can and she certainly makes for a more fresh heroine than the likes of Kristen Stewart, and Hurt is also nicely cast as her Uncle Jeb. The guys are all those pouty-faced guys who have been watching Robert Pattinson's Edward character too much. Australian actress Emily Browning appears in a significant role in the final scenes.
Niccol, responsible for the last truly great sci-fi movie Gattaca, is certainly a worthy director but here it's clear that it's Meyer's material that is the real problem and like Twilight you can either be sucked in or drowned out. It's not the worst thing I've seen in my lifetime, but either way no one really rises to the occasion.
Friday, March 22, 2013
Starring: Jonas Karlsson, Marie Robertson, Ellen Mattsson, David Bonte Atterberg, Karin Lithman, Chatarina Larsson, Carina Soderman, Bjorn Gustafsson, Sofia Ledarp, Gustav Levin, Bjorn Andersson, Mans Westfelt
Dedicated pilot Valle (Karlsson) loses his job, his wife (Lithman), his home and most importantly contact with his blind son (Atterberg). When the airline company Silvers admits they are looking for female pilots, Valle will do anything to get the job, including dressing in drag.
Amusing but slight comedy piece desperately needs suspension of disbelief as at times you can catch yourself thinking that everything seems too improbable, though it's easy to do and Klingberg manages to remain true to the main character despite some of the set pieces going a little overboard and others are a little underdone.
Karlsson, a fairly well-known actor in Sweden who hasn't made a feature in a number of years, makes such a convincing female that it's hard to take him seriously as a male. For as lovely as Robertson is, she convinces as a female pilot as much as she would convince being a virgin. The leads unevenness is levelled thanks to the supporting cast with standout performances from young Atterberg as Valle's son and Mattsson's hilarious performance as Valle's feminist sister who has taken over their family home.
I don't watch as much foreign movies as I'd like, but I think I'd watch more than the average Australian filmgoer. American comedy has become such a gross-out running gag that here is an offer that, while IS for adult audiences, is never offensive or in-your-face with a quiet charm thanks to the added efforts of screenwriter Erik Ahrnbom in helping create Valle's opposite Maria who's a delightful creation.
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Harsh-of-light documentary triggered by the suicide of teenager Tyler Long, who at 17 had enough of the years of high school bullying. Director Hirsch, who also produced and did the camera work, follows his parents as they struggle with the aftermath and tackle the schools head on for an explanation.
Meanwhile, Hirsch also takes interest in others including an outcast country town lesbian, a young girl serving time in a detention centre for scaring her school bus bullies with her mothers handgun, a highly religious couple whose son also committed suicide and the child's best friend, but mainly allows us into the world of Alex, an odd-looking kid with communication problems who has been bullied so intensely in the past he has given up any hope that it will stop.
Frank and honest, this is one of those films that shows us in simple terms what is going on in middle American schools. The biggest disappointment of the film is that Hirsch doesn't offer up any solutions to the problems or where the blame should truly lie which means the film also suffers in not being able to go anywhere. Also, there's much of this going on in society, on the Internet and around the world which is not focused on at all.
You can understand that Hirsch and Cynthia Lowen, who wrote and produced alongside him, are passionate about the work but they let their judgement take over too often. Several scenes are astonishingly hard to take, particularly the sequences that follow the Assistant Principal of Alex's school who refuses to believe there's a problem. Sad movie is sure to make you think twice, just don't expect much though process after the fact.
Monday, March 11, 2013
Starring: Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart, Amy Adams, Tom Sturridge, Alice Braga, Elisabeth Moss, Danny Morgan, Kirsten Dunst, Viggo Mortensen
Adapted from the semi-autobiographical Jack Kerouac novel, after the death of his father, aspiring young writer Sal Paradise (Riley) heads off to New York where he encounters Dean Moriarty (Hedlund), a free-spirit whose adventures on the road lead the pair on a journey that is now referred to as the Beat Generation.
As true to the source material as it is, once you know the finer details of Kerouac's real life friends and events that are in the novel (Sal Paradise is an alter ego for Kerouac as is Neal Cassady for Dean, his first wife Carolyn is played by Dunst as Camille and poet friends Allen Ginsberg, Joan Vollmer and William S. Burroughs are played by Sturridge, Adams and Mortensen under pseudonyms respectively) you'll think what a waste of time this all was and how much more interesting a movie could have been made when focusing on the real life events themselves.
Hedlund is a revelation as the famous literary character Dean, who manages all his deceptiveness and nuances with great ease and the real standout aspect of the film, but was I the only one that thought Sal and Dean had a gay love affair played off screen? Everyone else is fine, especially Adams as the late Joan Vollmer, though for someone like Dunst who has had such a long career she continues to impress with great ease.
Produced by Francis Ford Coppola, who bought the rights in 1979 after previous attempts from Paramount Pictures to cast Marlon Brando as Dean failed, and directed by the man behind the masterpiece The Motorcycle Diaries has a hard time with a disengaged main character who appears more like an observer than a partaker, though well cast in Riley (Control). And for a film called On the Road, they could have spent a little more time 'on the road' than beating us to death with all those hugging and greeting scenes.
Monday, March 4, 2013
Starring: Caity Lotz, Casper Van Dien, Agnes Bruckner, Mark Steger, Haley Hudson, Kathleen Rose Perkins, Sam Ball
Recovering addict Nicole (Bruckner) is finalising her mother's funeral arrangements while staying in the family home when she is abducted by a strange presence in the house. Annie (Lotz) begrudgingly returns for the funeral where one evening, in the same house, her cousin Liz (Perkins) disappears too. Annie sets out to discover the real cause for the strange occurrences that will bring new light to her tragic family history.
Adapted from McCarthy's short film The Pact, which he also wrote and directed, this quite smart and well played out haunted house suspensor has many tricks up it's sleeves thanks to a convincing lead in Lotz and McCarthy's steady stylising of the story and visuals. He plays the cards well and while the film is not overly astonishing, the thrills and revelations are interesting enough to convince you to stay tuned, more so than say Paranormal Activity.
Van Dien is the only subtraction that brings the film down; he stared in the '97 hit Starship Troopers, done nothing since and hasn't had any lessons in acting in awhile, which shows. Bruckner appears in the opening scene in similar fashion to Drew Barrymore's role in Scream, but like Lotz has a nice presence. Hudson is the real standout as a former school friend of Annie's who has psychic abilities; her companion is played by Ball who is the only member of the short film cast to appear.
Producer, cinematographer, editor, production designer and scorer also return in the same roles in this worthwhile thriller which, once again, the more you can suspend your belief will determine how much you enjoy the film. Unfortunately the new generation seems set on franchises, hence the typical epilogue which leaves a nasty taste despite everyone's finer efforts.