Movies reviews

  • Before Sunset

    Watched on

    9

    It's nine years after Jesse and Celine first met; now, they encounter one another on the French leg of Jesse's book tour.

    Before Sunset

    Review

    Before Sunset is the absolutely beautiful sequel to Before Sunrise, two films by Richard Linklater starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. Both movies focus on two very interesting characters, an American (Hawke) and a French woman, when they meet at junctures in their lives.

    In the first movie they meet for the very first time on a train and take a whimsical walk around the streets of Vienna. It's about discovering a place, memories, love and relationships, all of which are pieced together with beautiful dialogue and a fantastic story.

    Before Sunset is the sequel, set and filmed nine years after original. This time it follows the couple around the streets of Paris, and amazingly the dialogue surpasses the beauty of the previous movie. The cinematography is passive, yet intensive, which only enhances the stunningly crafted monologues. The couple meander, discussing what happened on that night all those years ago and how their lives have been influenced by their encounter.

    The dialogue is mesmerising - a real insight to both sides of emotion and love. I recommend watching 'Before Sunrise' before watching 'Before Sunset' to fully appreciate the magical journey of this romantic masterpiece.

  • Gone Baby Gone

    Watched on

    10

    Two Boston area detectives investigate a little girl's kidnapping, which ultimately turns into a crisis both professionally and personally. Based on the Dennis Lehane novel.

    Gone Baby Gone

    Review

    Gone Baby Gone is the theatrical directorial debut by well-known actor Ben Affleck, and what a start in the new vocation it is. I found very little fault with Ben Affleck's direction – the only issue I had was the open-endedness of the night-time shoot-out scene at the quarry lake. But it was the strength of the script and Ben Affleck's younger brother, Casey, whose performance which shined in this movie.

    The movie progressed at a reasonable pace, with the introduction of a range of well written and unique characters. This type of characterisation can really make a story more believable, and elevate movies from good to brilliant — something I felt this movie was.

    There were a few twists and turns throughout, none of which I expected. Minor conversations and seemingly irrelevant pieces of information are referenced later, for climatic scenes. All the information is given to you, but like the private detective within the story, you have to make sense of them to solve the puzzle.

    The amazing thing about this movie was the amount of complex but detailed themes and conflicts presented thoughout. There were many moral and legal issues put forth by both numerous characters and the overall story. And these are just the ideas I noticed during my first viewing — a testament to a good director and script.

    Not since Requiem for a Dream (another masterpiece I highly recommend) have I watched the last fifteen minutes of a movie with my hand over my mouth, starring wide-eyed in awe of what has just happened and in anticipation of the decisions and resolution to come.

    After leaving the cinema my mind started racing. I was trying to think how I would have handled the situations the lead character was faced with, and whether I would have made the same final decision. This movie is emotional, engaging and enthralling — I can't recommend it enough.

  • Funny Games

    Watched on

    9

    Two psychotic young men take a family hostage in their cabin.

    Funny Games

    Review

    Funny Games U.S. is the English-language remake of the 1997 Austrian movie of the same name. Curiously though, this remake is a shot-by-shot remake, and unlike many American remakes, it is by the same director; Michael Haneke.

    The movie is a real non-glorified terror story — not something you can easily detach yourself and your thoughts from. Within the first thirty-minutes the movie has unsettled you, and from that point on, it chokes and gags you, refusing to let go until the credits roll. The movie is rated 18, this isn't because of the gore — most of this happens off-screen — it is because of the themes, direction and actuality of the story which is scarily based on reality.

    Funny Games is an unconventional movie. Michael Haneke is renowned for breaking the "fourth wall" and this technique is used multiple times throughout the movie. His direction is also distinctive, featuring long static shots, little or no score and understated lighting. This blatant disregard for orthodox movie making will distance a lot of people from liking this movie.

    There has already been a lot written about this movie, mainly about the original. Overall, the movie has a definite negative commentary about modern society, something which the characters discuss during the conclusion of the story.

    Having seen the original movie, I knew exactly what to expect in this unconventional thriller. Therefore, I found it didn't quite have the shock impact compared to my first viewing, however, the movie was still very distressing and disturbing. I would recommend watching this new version if you prefer not to read subtitles.

  • The Happening

    Watched on

    5

    A science teacher, his wife, and a young girl struggle to survive a plague that causes those infected to commit suicide.

    The Happening

    Review

    The Happening is the latest movie by M. Night Shyamalan, starring Mark Wahlberg as the protagonist who is trying to escape an unknown event.

    Unfortunately, although the premise of the story was a good one — something I would describe as an "anti-'War of the World' theme" — it didn't translate into a feature-length movie. This is similar to the disappointing 'Be Kind Rewind' which seemed an interesting story on paper and in trailers, but neither movie could carry feature-length treatment.

    Aside from the initial idea, I thought the story and characters were weak, both of which were exaggerated by the poor pace and editing of the movie. Characters were arbitrarily introduced then abruptly forgotten about, something which is uncommon in Shyamalan's previous movies, which usually feature well-written supporting characters.

    I felt that Mark Wahlberg was either badly directed or confused about his character — something which I felt was evident even in the trailers — and was disappointing to watch. Thoughout most of the movie his performance seemed distant or simply didn't fit the scenario and mood. Wahlberg's performance, coupled with some wooden dialogue and a thin script makes this movie Shyamalan's weakest yet.

    Unfortunately, this movie isn't even beautiful with no substance. The direction and photography were average at best and the entire movie, from script to promotion, seemed to be on auto-pilot. In summary, 'The Happening' is a disappointing movie by anyone's standard, especially the now well established Shyamalan.

    I still have faith — a theme the writer/director explores in a lot of his movies — in M. Night Shyamalan and hope he can get back on track with his next project. In the meantime, I recommend watching any of his previous movies – especially my favourite The Village, or the underrated Unbreakable with Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson.

    Shyamalan garnered many enemies after his last movie, Lady in the Water, which, although it wasn't on par with his previous projects, I felt was harshly received. I also believe he might be under unwarranted pressure from the expectations and hype because of his previously acclaimed movies and is struggling to break from the cliché of twist endings. In my opinion, in his relatively short career Shyamalan has had four great movies, and two misses, but I think he will have another great movie if given freedom, time and the chance.

  • Lars and the Real Girl

    Watched on

    9

    A delusional young guy strikes up an unconventional relationship with a doll he finds on the Internet.

    Lars and the Real Girl

    Review

    Lars and the Real Girl is not a movie everyone will enjoy, although, "enjoy" is a strange way to describe this movie — "appreciate" is a better way.

    The movie could be described as quriky black-comedy, but without the comedy — so more like a quriky drama. There are some funny moments, but the majority of the movie has a sombre mood, a slow pace and poignant messages.

    There are moments of belly shaking humor and quiet tears as Ryan Gosling brilliantly evolves from a reclusive soul with the help of a silicone woman and a kind hearted community.

    User comment on IMDB

    Ryan Gosling was absolutely brilliant as the shy, tormented protagonist and the support cast was also superb. The movie has a very evident overall message, but there were a lot of subtle moments throughout which add to the magic of this movie.

    If you like British humour or quriky movies like those directed by Wes Anderson then you might be the type of person who would appreciate this movie. The trailer is misrepresentative, with out of context scenes which seem humourous. The movie is certainly not "laugh out loud", and a little slow in places, but afterwards I felt touched and humbled.

    Overall, I would recommend this movie.