Hell or High Water
To toe the line of the wittertainment quip, Hell or High Water sports its fair share of bank heists, but it is far from a film about bank robbers and their escapades. It has two law men that jump on the trail of the robbers, but their relationship and not the investigation will probably come to be of more interest. The screenplay, by Taylor Sheridan of Sicario fame, leans very much towards character and presents some of the most subtle and exacting chemistry that drives this modern western to its understated but compelling finale.
I was running late for the screening of Marvel’s latest offering, Doctor Strange but I wasn’t too bothered. I was expecting the usual MCU schematic for origin stories and to some extent, that is precisely the end product although there is a welcome deviation from what I know to be the Doctor Strange source material as it offers a refreshing edge to the MCU, a classy aesthetic and most importantly, the rare 2016 sighting of sensible and justified use of CGI.
One of my favourite podcasters posits the idea of the perfect action movie having a Tomatometer score hovering around 50 percent. Watching The Accountant, I was reminded that for a good amount of time, till maybe The Matrix and Bourne films came along, the perfect action film needed a certain degree of cheese and ridiculous contrivances to hit home and The Accountant is almost fine throwback in that regard.
Queen of Katwe
It may be about chess, but Queen of Katwe is at its core that inspirational sports film angling towards a satisfying sentimental crescendo. Chess of course is a sport but my few film encounters with it (mostly involving Bobby Fischer) toe a line different to the one our director, Mira Nair, takes. The honest setting is just as important as the characters, and that is key to really elevating this film from your conventional feel-good sports story. It also helps that superb thespians, David Oyelowo and Lupita Nyong’o, put in work when called upon.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children has been brought to the big screen courtesy Jane Godlman’s adaption and director, Tim Burton’s welcome morbid sensibilities. Based on a Ransom Riggs novel of the same name, Miss Peregrine’s Home introduces us to the kids with gifts one would expect from a film with such a name, also featuring a mansion that will obviously bring to mind Charles Xavier and his home for gifted kids.
The Neon Demon
I guess The Neon Demon, from Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn, is at its core a satire. It narrows in on seemingly cynical cut throat high fashion world of LA and the aspirations of a young girl who desires what exactly? Therein lies the problem with Refn’s latest film; the screenplay crafts a compelling setting with beautifully shot evocative world building, but for the most part it doesn’t know what to do the characters dropped in there, or isn’t too bothered.
The Shallows is a lean mean man versus nature tale that sees an injured surfer battle against time and a shark with a vendetta in shallow sea waters. Pretty basic plot. It has no deep philosophical or spiritual undertones like say, The Grey. The Shallows just plays as the most minimal of thrillers and our director and screen writer, Jaume Collet-Serra and Anthony Jaswinski, do remarkably well to infuse the requisite tension though the script would have done well to really embrace the simplicity of its core premise.
Every job has its nightmare scenario. For people in my line of work it could be writing an erroneous news article about the President or wading into a position to find one’s self disgraced and fired for bowing at the altar of plagiarism. For someone like the subject of this film, airplane pilot Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, your nightmare scenario sees the death of hundreds.
A History of Violence
David Cronenberg says a lot of things about violence in his 2005 masterpiece, A History of Violence. Consider the brilliantly absorbing final scene that sees the central family of four sit for dinner like they probably have a million times before but only this time there is a new constant. Their varying bearings convey some insight into how Cronenberg believes the world perceives the idea of violence.
Suicide Squad sports likeable elements and largely persuasive characterisation but is held back by disappointing execution. Writer/director David Ayer should be above this clumsily paced and poorly staged end product but everything here is just so rushed and slapped together with choppy editing compromising whatever momentum it seeks to garner. On the DC studios spectrum of things, there is so much concern with humour and fun and this film features a strong dose of these but fun and humor, a good film do not make.
How does the man who showcased the absolute horrors of war in Saving Private Ryan also provide a warm sweet marvel in E.T.? That is a question I like to ask of Stephen Spielberg, a question that comes up watching his latest offering – The BFG. The simple answer is he is a great filmmaker who never lost touch of the child in him and boldly calls on that part with ease. We don’t get a lot of outright kid’s movies these days (outside animated offerings) so a film with this tone and sentiment from a great filmmaker is welcome.