Saturday, 20 January 2018

GOOD TIME (2017) - review


From the first anticipating electronic drums of Oneohtrix Point Never's soundtrack, Good Time sets its tone as a frantic all-nighter, as manic and desperate as it is vapid and sobering. Robert Pattinson stars as Connie, a guy that owes a lot of money, who attempts to rob a bank with his disabled brother Nick, played by co-director Ben Safdie, but of which all goes terribly wrong and, while Connie manages to escape the police, Nick is arrested and put in jail. One thing leads to another, and Connie's attempt to rescue his brother from a hospital results in mistaken identity and a caper concerning a Sprite bottle full of acid.

Close-focused camera's result in a claustrophobic feel, with Connie and Nick providing the brunt of the emotional exposition. Pattison is at a career high as Connie, and displays the fraught nature of his characters situation without resorting to over the top notions. Connie may be reckless and stupid at times, but his is well-meaning when it comes to caring for his brother, although the last thing his brother needs to be involved in bank heists.


Conversely, the occasional use of the birds eye view, or rather helicopter eyes view, when following Connie around in his various cars only goes to lend a lingering sense of dread to his cause, an inevitability to his actions. As the night gets crazier and crazier, the likelihood of arrest grows. The helicopter view point is voyeuristic, and as the police and media attention grows, so does the use of this technique, and we are left questioning not if he'll get away, but when he'll get caught.

An exceptional side cast including Barkhad Abdi and Jennifer Jason Leigh lead to some interesting interactions, but their roles are more just glorified cameos. Unfortunately, the most grating part of the film comes in the inclusion of criminal Ray (Buddy Duress), and the film stops the pacing in order to stop and tell this guys rambling backstory. Indeed, while Good Time starts off as a disastrous crime caper, it ends meanderingly and somewhat anticlimactically.

Ben and Josh Safdie's story focuses more on the escalating comedy of errors that Connie finds himself in, and as the farcical situations grow so does the trepidation. Unfortunately, the story peters out in the last third, leaving us with the just the excellent soundtrack and atmospheric cinematography.

6/10

Layla

Thursday, 18 January 2018

The Polka King (2018) - Richee Review

Another Netflix original, this time starring Jack Black playing Jan Lewan, a Polish Polka singer who has travelled to America to become a big star, and to create an empire for his son. Jan also has his own gift store and does odd jobs on the side to make enough money to keep his band together. Realizing he can't maintain a band the size of his, he starts taking investments, promising better interest then the banks. The government tell him what he's doing is illegal and he needs to pay the money back, but he has dug himself into a deep hole and keeps on gaining investors until his empire takes off so he can pay everyone back.

I enjoyed The Polka King. I think it has a lot to do with Jack Black, as he's such a charismatic guy. The film reminds me of Jack Black's earlier dark comedy Bernie: a amiable guy who does a bad thing but you can't help but like him. Even as he swindles people in The Polka King I found myself rooting for him as he believes he will be able to keep all his promises.
The film is amusing and Jack Black singing polka is enjoyable. The story is interesting and shows you all of Jan's mad schemes, but feels thin overall. I suppose there's only so much you can do when your doing a film based on a true story. The supporting cast are great with Jenni Slate and Jason Schwartzman being strong supporting actors. Jacki Weaver is superb though as Jan's step mother who knows Jan is up to no good and constantly questions his life choices, playing the villain of the film, thinking both him and her daughter live in a fantasy land.

Final Score is a 7/10: this is a good film well told and funny, with a great cast led by a great leading man in Jack Black. I'd highly recommend this film to most people, but especially those who enjoyed Bernie. It was also nice to see Jan is still working hard to pay back the staggering five million he owes to his investors. Richee

Have you seen The Polka King? Let me know in the comments below what you thought.


Tuesday, 16 January 2018

THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI - podcast review out now


Martin McDonagh returns with Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, a film that weaves themes of rape, racism and police brutality into a surprising funny flick, if darkly so. Starring Frances McDormand as a mother who loss her daughter under horrendous circumstances seven months previous, she decides the best way to get the police's and public's attention back on the case is by installing three billboards accusing the police of not caring about the case. This, of course, gets the community riled up. With a brilliant script and excellent characterisation, Three Billboards is a enjoyable movie about dark themes that doesn't attempt to emotionally manipulate.

You can download this episode directly here.

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Monday, 15 January 2018

THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI - podcast review out tomorrow


DVD Roundup: "I'll feast on your flesh as I feed on your fear" edition


Who'd of thought that one of the most successful films of last year would be a horror film? Well, its hardly surprising when its a Stephen King adaptation, and its one of his most popular books, and the film rides that popularist wave of nostalgia. While not the scariest film, and with maybe just a little bit too much 80s head-nods, It is still breath of fresh air within the horror cannon, and quite possibly the biggest highlight of last summer. Listen to our podcast review in the podcast review.



There's something so tiring about even reading the synopsis of American Assassin. Its such a standard formula of young buck taken under the wing of an older man, who have to save the world from terrorists. Just, eh... I'm sure its fine, it just sounds so boring.







Last years The Witch, A Ghost Story is one of those films that makes it look like a horror film, but its really not. Maybe eerie, maybe a bit freaky, but not scary in the way that It is trying to be scary. Following a couple who go through a terrible loss, the film has divided audiences, but there is an intriguing aspect to the film involving the omnipotent awesomeness of the universe, that still keeps me interested.





A satire looking into Zambian witchcraft, I Am Not a Witch focuses on an 8 year girl convicted of witchcraft and sent away to a desert camp. With hints of tragicomedy, magical realism and with the same cinematographer that worked on Embrace of the Serpent, I Am Not a Witch looks to be a fascinating watch.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

THE LEIGH SPENCE MOMENT: THE THIEF AND THE COBBLER


57. “Belief in yourself is what you lack. Attack, attack, and never look back.”

14/01/2018

Space at home is scarce, but if I am ever in the position to have a coffee table, two of the three coffee table books I would have, if that really is a genre, are the two song writing books by Stephen Sondheim, “Look, I Made a Hat,” and “Finishing the Hat.” The third would be “The Animator’s Survival Kit” by the Canadian-British animator Richard Williams, credited on the book for directing the animation for “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” for which he won a special Academy Award, something only given out three times since 1989.

Without Williams, the suspension of disbelief required for “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” simply would not have worked. Production on the file was moved from Los Angeles to London to accommodate Williams and his animators, still drawing by hand, combining Disney, Warner Bros., MGM and other characters in a way that seemed possible at that single moment, and would never work again – that Williams pulled it off at all is a miracle.

However, Williams’s magnum opus as an animator was never meant to have been a production made for someone else, or other productions like “Ziggy’s Gift,” “Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure” or the countless TV advertisements made by his company. Just like Orson Welles taking acting and voiceover jobs to make his films, Williams was using his money to produce a feature film of his own, inspired by the tales of Mullah Nasruddin.


“The Thief and the Cobbler,” variously titled “Nasrudin,” “Tin Tack,” “The Majestic Fool” and “Once…” during its near thirty-year gestation period, features, well, a thief, a cobbler (named “Tack”), a sultan, a princess, and a villain voiced by Vincent Price, Zigzag the Grand Vizier. The story is inconsequential, but one person wants to gain power, and the other person wins because of their inherent goodness. Anthony Quayle, Donald Pleasence, Kenneth Williams and Stanley Baxter also provided voices, but Tack and the thief say nothing, their reactions driving the plot like they were Charlie Chaplin and Jacques Tati. If anything, the characters and story exist to serve the gorgeous animation, both intricate and two-dimensional, inspired by Persian miniature paintings, while featuring hand-drawn geometric designs now routinely handed to computer programs to complete.

Sadly, “The Thief and the Cobbler,” again like some Orson Welles films, remains unfinished… well, it was finished, but not by Williams. The leverage of producing “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” led to a deal with Warner Bros. to complete the film, but what Williams had been producing at his own pace, rewriting and redrawing scenes as he wanted, now had other people depending upon it, and a deadline of 1991 to meet, leading to Williams being kicked off his pet project. For someone who insisted on animating every frame of the finished film – animation is usually produced “on twos” instead, to save time and money – the result was unfortunately inevitable.


With a completion bond being signed by Warner Bros. to ensure they had a finished film, and with the guarantors employing TV animation producer Fred Calvert to supervise production, Warner Bros. ultimately abandoned the film when they saw what was made, which was fifteen minutes short of a completed film. The guarantors replaced Williams with Calvert, to complete the film as quickly and cheaply as possible – the results were only released in South Africa and Australia as “The Princess and the Cobbler,” but was recut and released by Miramax – hmmm - as a “[Disney’s] Aladdin” rip-off titled “Arabian Knight,” with the originally silent Tack and thief now voiced by wise-cracking Matthew Broderick and Jonathan Winters. Remembering that this all began in 1964, “The Thief and the Cobbler” was finally seen in the UK, where it was made, when a DVD was released in 2012.

This film has been endlessly discussed, and a bootleg of Williams’ workprint is as responsible for preserving the film’s reputation as much as that of “Blade Runner,” although we will not see a director’s cut here – the workprint is now held by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and is subtitled by Williams as “A Moment in Time.” While our view of film, for the last fifty years, has been based on the guiding light of the “auteur,” it can be argued that animation requires too many people for this to be viable, unless you are on a very small scale, like Bill Plympton, or you afforded yourself an extraordinary amount of time – it does not appear to be possible any other way.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Pottersville (2017) Review

As I barely cling to life I decided to see what new flicks Netflix has to offer. Pottersville caught my eye because of it's awesome cast, boasting Michael Shannon, Ron Perlman, Judy Greer and the awesome Ian McShane.

The film follows Michael Shannon's character Maynard, a good hearted shop owner, who decides to go home early one day to surprise his wife. He finds his wife in a compromising position with one of his long time friends, finding them both dressed up in animal costumes because they're furries. Maynard leaves confused and upset and heads back to his store while swigging on the old moon shine. He decides it will be a good idea to also do some dress up. One thing leads to another and the people of Pottersville think they have the legendary Bigfoot in their woods.
This film is a strange one, especially with the addition of the furries, which is a surprisingly big part of the story. The rest of the story is very simple, and it parodies other movie scenes, like Jaws and It's a Wonderful Life among other things. The actors are enjoyable for their roles and Michael Shannon is great as the likeable shop keep looking to do what he thinks is best. 

This was a fun film, it doesn't do anything new but it's enjoyable for what it is. Final Rating 5/10: it's an average film with a top cast. Does nothing wrong with it's story, but does nothing out side the box or original.