Film: The Call

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2013, Directed by Brad Anderson, written by Richard D’Ovidio, starring Halle Berry and Abigail Breslin

Third Act Syndrome. I’m starting to wonder wonder whether there’s been some kind of contagious outbreak in old Tinseltown that’s in desperate need of medical attention, such is the number of current Hollywood screenwriters managing to undo all the good work of the first hour with a dodgy final thirty. The Call suffers from one of the most viscous cases of Third Act Syndrome documented thus far, introducing a twist that trivialises the film and beggars belief. Continue reading

Film: Source Code

2011, Directed by Duncan Jones, written by Ben Ripley, starring Jake Gyllenhaal

If you know nothing about Source Code, you shall enjoy it all the more. As such, this may be the blandest, least explanative review anybody shall ever read of any film. While it’s perfectly possible to have a great time watching it having read the blurb on the back of the DVD box, for the best experience, know nothing, and keep it that way until the film begins to twist and starts to turn. Know nothing until you know it all. Continue reading

Film: The Breakfast Club

1985, Written/directed by John Hughes, starring Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall & Judd Nealson

The Breakfast Club is one of the best-loved films of all-time. For one reason or another, the 1985 ‘brat pack’ feature has seeped into the public memory. While other ’80s school dramas have died and gone to bargin bin heaven, The Breakfast Club continues to be pushed in luxury Blu-Ray packages. It makes favourite list after favourite list, constantly peddled as a ‘classic’, or a ‘film to see before you die’. While it would probably be worth sliding it in somewhere if you’ve got another 60-odd years to go, if you’re planning on jumping into a river this evening, I wouldn’t go wasting your final few hours on what, in the modern light of day, is little more than a fairly solid teen drama. Continue reading

Film: End of Watch

The cast/crew bit: written & directed by David Ayer, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Peña & Anna Kendrick

The ten-word synopsis: Two cops live their lives whilst uncovering a human trafficing ring.

My critical mentality when it comes the most important aspect of a film is clear enough. Nail your central characters and you’re just one step away from nailing the film. End of Watch also adopts this mentality. In fact, the best bits in End of Watch aren’t the shoot-outs and punch-ups shot with such intensity you’ll lose the function to blink, but the scenes in which our two leads simply drive around in their car, chatting. Continue reading

Film: Beasts of the Southern Wild

The cast/crew bit: written & directed by Benh Zeitlin, starring Quvenzhané Wallis & Dwight Henry

The ten-word synopsis: Half naturalistic drama, half daylight hallucinations of a young girl.

The hairs on the back of my neck stood up. My arm, for so long hovering in and around my chin, stroking the unkempt mess I call a beard, dropped unequivocally to my lap. My lungs took a deep breath in. My eyes widened and, oh, hello, looks like my tear ducts have opened for production. There’s a moment in Beasts of the Southern Wild that conjures this reaction. The most innate, heartfelt reaction that I’ve felt towards any film this year. And for this scene alone, it must be applauded. Continue reading

Film: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The cast/crew bit: written & directed by Stephen Chbosky, starring Logan Lerman, Emma Watson & Ezra Miller

The ten-word synopsis: Sad, lonely teenager makes friends. Angst by the bucketload ensures.

You can tell a lot about a film by it’s choice of Smiths song on the soundtrack. Shaun of the Dead goes for Panic- a jaunty but heartfelt piece, a bit of a rush, with contrasts rife throughout, with elements that logic dictates shouldn’t slot together instead melding wonderfully. (500) Days of Summer picks There is a Light That Never Goes Out. Passionate, tragic and yet oddly upbeat and charming. The Perks of Being a Wallflower plumps for Asleep- perhaps the musical embodiment of the depressing reputation that Morrissey, Marr & co have garnered over the years. Continue reading

Film: Looper

The cast/crew bit: written/directed by Rian Johnson, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis & Emily Blunt

The ten-word synopsis: 2044: a futuristic assassin has to assassinate his future self.

We are living in a post-Inception world. Ever since Christopher Nolan not just got the backing to make possibly the most ambitious film of the last ten years, but also made it a success, studios have been clamouring to find ‘the next Inception’. Last year we saw the likes of The Adjustment Bureau and we’ve only just been hit by Total Recall, which was a pretty desperate attempt to cash in on the sudden interest in smart action movies. Neither of these matched either the box-office or critical success of the Nolan film, with the dream-bending masterwork looking further and further out of reach. Not so much anymore. Rian Johnsons’ Looper is the first of the new breed of smart sci-fi thrillers to not only match Inception blow-for-blow, but to also surpass it with a few sneaky hits of its own. Continue reading

Film: Anna Karenina

The cast/crew bit: directed by Joe Wright, starring Keira Knightley, Jude Law & Aaron Johnson

The ten-word synopsis: Keira Knightley adaptation of the classic Russian romantic epic novel.

The novel Anna Karenina, written by Mr. War and Peace Leo Tolstoy, clocks in at little under under 1000 pages. For years, it has been the bane of many an English Literature students life, taunting them with its complex themes, ever-twisting plot and characters who avoid becoming caricatures. As such, it won’t come as a surprise for me to inform you all that this particular adaptation of Anna Karenina is, sitting at around 2 hours and twenty minutes, both too long and too compressed at the same time.
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Film: Premium Rush

The cast/crew bit: directed by David Koepp, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Shannon and Dania Ramerez

The ten-word synopsis: Bike messenger must deliver a valuable package whilst being chased

For my money, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is the best actor in America right now. He’s versatile, he’s likeable and he’s engaging. He seems to live and breath as each character, adding an believability that very few actors of his stature can craft without seeping into essentially ‘being Joseph Gordon-Levitt’. While he successfully negotiates that trap in Premium Rush, it would have been far too much for him to ask to turn New York bike messenger Wiley into the kind of believable, human character we’ve seen from Gordon-Levitt in the past. Continue reading

Film: Harvey

The cast/crew bit: directed by Henry Koster, starring Jimmy Stewart & Josephine Hull

The ten-word synopsis: Man befriends 6’3.5″ giant rabbit only he can see.

Vertigo may have topped the AFIs list and It’s a Wonderful Life might be the most charming film ever made, but for my money, James Stewart never put in a better performance than  that of Elwood P Dowd in Harvey. The man affectionately known as ‘Jimmy’ is the kind of actor who is just immensely likeable, perhaps more so than anyone before or after him, and Harvey is, as an actor, his coup de grace.
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