Archive | Reviews

REVIEW: Griff the Invisible

7 Apr

Saw this one the other night, a slight and only slightly enjoyable offering from first-time feature director Leon Ford.

Ryan Kwanten (the zero body-fat human prawn from True Blood, Red Hill) plays Griff, a quirky, lonely loser who moonlights as a not-very-good superhero.  When his brother brings round an equally quirky girl who takes a shine to Griff, his life changes and his skewed reality is challenged.

Featuring a decent performance from Kwanten, who is usually idiotically hilarious in True Blood, as the mousy Griff, this film was pretty junior-burger stuff.  It looked like it was filmed on 16mm with very few visual flourishes outside of its colour palette.  As I was watching it I was constantly reminded of the films of Yahoo Serious (not a compliment), but without the halfway decent music.  The film played out all those shitty short films you see over and over again at local festivals, shot at a friend’s place or a partner’s office, using semi-pro actors mugging at the camera like it’s their only chance to be seen.

The script was flabby and lacking in any relevance outside of the screen, which is fine for highly entertaining films, but not for rom-coms which do best when they play to general themes of love and the importance of individuality.  This film is really only relevant to the highly moronic and deluded…which is to say that maybe it could find its audience if it screened at churches around the nation.

Basically, if you have seen Amelie, Benny & Joon and Young Einstein then you have already seen this story done much better and I have to agree with the website blurb;

GRIFF THE INVISIBLE [] will (dis)appear in cinemas nationally March, 2011

http://www.grifftheinvisible.com/

4/10

REVIEW: The Loved Ones

7 Nov

THE LOVED ONES

Release Date: November 4th 2010 (Premiered at the 2009 Toronto Film Festival)

Director/Writer: Sean Byrne

Key Cast: Xavier Samuel, Robin McLeavy, Victoria Thaine

See the Teaser and Trailer.







The latest in Australian horror comes a twisted story of love and revenge.  Some would say if you mash-up Pretty in Pink with Wolf Creek, you’ll get something like this, though I wouldn’t quite agree on that.

The Loved Ones opens with Brent (Xavier Samuel) driving with his dad on the open roads of a small town in southern Australia. Brent swerves to avoid a bloody, cut up, half-naked man. The car hits a tree, and Dad is killed. Some months later it’s the day of the School formal where Brent rejects Lola Stone (Robin McLeavy) to go with his girlfriend Holly (Victoria Thaine). Lola does not take this rejection well. Brent is abducted and taken to Lola’s home by her daddy (John Brumpton) where the torture begins….

…And torture there is. Along side films like Hostel and Saw, The Loved Ones dives into killing as an art, to the point where Lola marks her captives with a chest <3 LS. The story starts out as a drama, which quickly jumps into the horror. Within about 15 mins the torture begins, making the character development a little lacking and a too bit clichéd. Brent’s grief over his father is a little to unoriginal with heavy metal music and self-cutting. The film however is only 84mins, nevertheless I would have preferred an extra scene at front end of the film to help me care if Brent lives or dies a little less of the secondly story, which follows Brent’s best friend Jamie (Richard Wilson) and his goth date Mia (Jessica McNamee). Their story does help brake you away from all that blood and gore, but breaking out to see Jamie and Mia stoned in a car for the 3rd time gets a little old.

With all its flaws and its disjointed manor, I do understand why Sean Byrne had these scenes in the film. There are paybacks to the little things, which helps connect the story at the end. The ingredients were all correct, but a little tweaking of the qualities would have helped this film greatly.

Shot on the Red One, the film is looks great, for what I can only imagine was quiet a low budget, though what really sealed it for me was the sound and special effects. Every cut and stab had me squirming. The torture was great and kept getting worst and worst and worst.

So, If you like your torture porn, then I would definitely say see this film or even if you’re just a fan of gore and horror.  It’s a great date flick, though I don’t think my boyfriend would agree after my nails digging into him with every on-screen puncher. I wont be adding this to my horror or Aussie collection but it was worth the $9.

And I’ll never be able to listen to Kasey Chambers “Not Pretty Enough” in the same way again.

Rating: 7/10

REVIEW: Saw 3D

1 Nov

Release Date: 29th October 2010 (US)/28th October 2010 (AU)

Director: Kevin Greutert
Writers: Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan
Key Cast: Tobin Bell, Costas Mandylor, Betsy Russell, Sean Patrick Flannery, Cary Elwes

When this is the statement from the director, after he has just been announced for a film…

“I just had the task of telling my 83 year old mother that no, I’m not going to be allowed to direct the movie we were all so excited about when my family last got together, and that I’m being forced to leave town before getting a chance to see her again. Yes, I’ll be filming people getting tortured YET AGAIN. So we’ll have to put off me making a film she can actually watch for another year. I’m not making this shit up.”

…you know you’re up shit creek. Greutert put that up on his blog, before quietly removing it.

After yanking “Saw VI” director Greutert (a seasoned film editor) off “Paranormal Activity 2″ by exercising a clause in his contract and forcing him to direct “Saw 3D”, Lionsgate/Twisted Pictures have finally put the nail in the coffin of the annual film series, with the ultimate chapter coming in… wait for it… 3D.

Ugh.

I’m not going to talk much about the plot or direction for Saw 3D. Why bother? It’s more of the same, except one of the traps is in broad daylight in public. Thank Christ for that, if only because the darkness issue in 3D films is still a serious problem. And yes, it’s as dark as the other entries in the series.

The plot reminds me of the James Frey/A Million Little Pieces/Oprah’s Book Club debacle. The difference? Instead of an annoyed Oprah, it’s a pissed off Jigsaw chasing after the author. I’d give you a run down on the narrative here, but what’s to say? Shit gets more twisted than every, continually looping upon itself until the Charlie Clouser-penned “Hello Zepp” creeps through the speakers and you realise you’ve had it all wrong for the previous 80 minutes. Cue someone’s line of “Game over”, cut to credits, put your popcorn in the bin on the way out.

The 3D is there. It’s not terribly well utilised, it makes the film darker, and it pointless. It’s a desperate ploy by a studio desperately trying to yank the last few shekels out of a dying franchise. Avatar this is not.

Costas Mandylor is as dull as ever, but luckily for him, he comes across slightly better in this seventh instalment. Why, you might ask? It’s simple. Chad Donella, in the role of Detective Matt Gibson gives what can only be described as the worst performance in a major motion picture in recent memory. If 3D is meant to involve the audience, then why give them a 2×4 delivering lines? Everyone else phones it in. If you want to see what it’s like for working actors who are all thinking “One last paycheck.”, then Saw 3D is for you.

If you’re invested enough in the previous six entries, yet haven’t caught the film over the weekend, I have the following advice;
Do not go see it in the cinema. Do not buy it on DVD. Do not rent it. Do not waste bandwidth downloading a copy. Do not catch it on television three years from now.

Just read the Wikipedia entry.

Saw 3D (promoted as Saw VII 3D here in Australia) has someone in common with the final canonical entries in the Friday the 13th (Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhatten) and A Nightmare on Elm Street (Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare) franchises.

It’s a waste of time.

Rating: 1/10

REVIEW: The Social Network

30 Oct

Release Date: 1st October 2010 (US)/28th October 2010 (AU)

Director: David Fincher
Writer: Aaron Sorkin
Key Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake

So, some of you know how much I love a lot of David Fincher’s work (notably Se7en and Zodiac). I’ve got every episode of television that Aaron Sorkin has ever done. I’ve travelled around the country numerous times to see the Trent Reznor-fronted Nine Inch Nails.

To say I had some high expectations for The Social Network would be an understatement.

Firstly, you need to know one thing about this film. It moves fast. F-A-S-T fast. A strong espresso, a Red Bull, or a line of speed will allow you to jump in and swim because quick frankly, if you head into this tired, distracted, or inattentive, you’re going to find that you are sideswiped by a bus and lying in the gutter. It’s a perfect example of rapid-fire dialogue. You’ll want to breathe at every opportunity you get, because as the opening scene shows, you might not get a chance for a few minutes.

While the concept of “the Facebook movie” may seem unappealing, this isn’t a film you simply “like” or leave a comment on. It’s a tale of friendship, betrayal, business, loyalty, drama, and above all, ego. Sorkin’s script (based on Ben Mezrich’s “The Accidental Billionaires”) takes some liberties, but as has often been said – why let truth get in the way of a good story.

Eisenberg’s portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg is incredibly detailed, specific in it’s minutia, and completely unlikeable. This is the performance that will lift him to another level in the eyes of many viewers. From the way he walks to the way he delivers dialogue, Eisenberg crafts one of the most complete characters to land on the silver screen this year. The newly announced Spider-Man Andrew Garfield is Eduardo Saverin, the ousted former CFO of Facebook. As the source novel is based upon Saverin’s pitch to Mezrich, Garfield’s performance is the most likeable soul in the story. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, although history is usually written by the winners, this is (however distanced) how Saverin sees the events, and how he came to be unfairly removed by Zuckerberg. While positioned as the most likeable character, Garfield’s performance never strays into “poor me” territory. Saverin is flawed, human, and imperfect. However it is Justin Timberlake who is playing in the ballpark of Alpha Dog (rather than The Love Guru), portraying Sean Parker, one of the founders of Napster, that gives the most entertaining performance in the film. Suave, oily, experienced, paranoid, and above all, proud, Timberlake’s performance is almost likeable. Interestingly this isn’t due to his character’s arc or motivations, but purely down to the charismatic performance. You are waiting for him to screw you over, but he’s just so charming that you’re happy to spend time with him until he does.

Fincher’s style for The Social Network is almost a cross between the colour pallet of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, with the procedural nature of Zodiac, and there is little doubt that he has a distinct look and feel. Everything is cold, unappealing, and slightly depressing. While his shots aren’t as showy as usual, his ability to seamless push technology’s use to perfect his vision is incredibly apparent once you realise in the credits that two Harvard twins are played by a single actor. A lesser director would have had effects or shot structures that tip you off to this, or would have simply cast real life twins, Fincher found an actor for the role, and flawlessly executed it. As with so much of Fincher’s work, it’s the moments of technical mastery used to perfectly execute his vision that defines the director as one of the modern greats working in Hollywood.

Nine Inch Nails mastermind Trent Reznor (in addition with longtime collaborator Atticus Ross) create a unique score for the film, sampling classical music as well as minor lifts from Nine Inch Nails’ “Ghosts I-IV” release (a 36 track collection of instrumental pieces that was described as “Soundtracks for Daydreams”). Having collaborated with Fincher previously (the opening of Se7en is a remix of Nine Inch Nails’ most successful track “Closer” and Fincher previously directed the music video for the band’s single “Only”), this is obviously a collaboration that is slightly out of the box for Reznor and Ross, yet they successfully build a synthesised score that at times recalls the great Wendy Carlos.

The Social Network is the adult drama that Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps wanted to be. It’s currently the frontrunner for my favourite film of the year, pushing Inception, Toy Story 3, and The Town out of potentially taking the top position. Needless to say, go see it. It doesn’t matter if you don’t use, like, or understand the cultural phenomenon that is Facebook. This is a film filled with the essence of classic drama and you’d be a fool to miss it.

Rating: 9/10

“You are tearing me a part, Lisa!”

10 Apr

“The best film of the year!”

These were the words out of Xoe and I’s mouths as we walked out of a cinema directly into a camera crew.

What film could that be, you might ask?

The answer is Tommy Wiseau’s The Room.

Heading to a late session at the Luna Cinema in Leederville (Perth’s best choice for arthouse and indie fare), we were two people with two dramatically different experiences with Wiseau’s rebadged cult phenomenon. I’d picked up a DVD release about a year before, having subjected Adrian to it over a six pack of beer. Xoe had only witnessed the madness visible in a mere minute-and-forty-five-seconds of the trailer. It was going to be an interesting night…

Massive queues, free alcohol, stale donuts, cue sheets, and of course free spoons. These were what greeted us an hour before The Room hit the screen. Having a cinema full of people appreciating the same sub-par (and that’s being very kind) filmmaking displayed to you makes it not so much a screening, but an event.

But perhaps a little introduction of The Room is necessary.

The background of The Room is shrouded in mystery. $6-7 million dollars on production and marketing. 400 crew members. Eight months of principle photography.

This is the money, time, and resources that should lead to a production of… well, competent levels.

Not in the case of The Room. That is the beauty of it.

Initially released in 2003, it was quickly re-marketed as a black comedy. Stories from the cast and crew are utterly hilarious, and the film itself is a trainwreck in the grandest sense. The DVD was independently released in 2005, and only helped the film’s reputation grow ever larger.

Needless to say, in a cinema full of cinefiles, jaded filmmakers, and well, drunk people, The Room lived up to one of it’s (self-created?) quotes;

“It’s a riot!”.

The Perth screening was brought to us by the good folks at Luna Cinemas and SixThousand.com.au. Have a look at the links below for a bit more about Wiseau’s piece of cinema. The tales of a faded, cracked billboard in Hollywood is the stuff of legend. Sure. order the DVD and watch it with a few likeminded people and a bottle of scotch (preferably mixed with vodka), but if you get the chance, see it in a cinema, on 35mm, with 300 people just like you. It’s the stuff that reminds you just how fun a public screening can be.

Have a look at “A Viewer’s Guide to The Room”, which was distributed here at the Perth screening. Click to enlarge.

theroommovie.com – The Official Site

Buy the DVD on Amazon.com

The Room on IMDB

The Room at Wikipedia

Entertainment Weekly: The Crazy Cult of “The Room”

IFC.com: “Everyone Betray Me!”: A Primer on “The Room”

Variety’s original review of The Room (circa 2003)