It could be titled Planes Trains & Automobiles 2. Due Date is the exact same formula recycled.... but it fucking works!!! Director Todd Phillips cements himself as one of the comedy greats. With movies like Road Trip, Old School and The Hangover to his credit (we'll ignore the Starsky & Hutch) he seems to be a force on the side of good. Robert Downey Jr and Zack Galifianakis do the Steve Martin & John Candy thing as they road trip their way across America with a deadline drawing near (Downey's wife is scheduled for a c-section). These two play off each other brilliantly. Both deliver impeccable lines and both feed off each other perfectly. I don't think this movie skipped a beat and it hit every mark for me. Because it's so good, I can easily overlook its similarities to PT&A.
If you've never seen Joe Dante's original Piranha then go and check it out. Its a shlock creature feature masterpiece. While you're at it, check out James Cameron's Piranha's 2: Flying Killers. They make an awesome double feature and now we've got Piranha 3D... Its AWESOME!! Its being called a remake but I disagree... I think it plays nicely as a 3rd instalment to the franchise and I suspect thatwas the aim (the 3D in the title kind of suggests this, much like Jaws 3D) and its story is NOT a rehash of the first one. Anyhow... movie's like this are the very reason why I love cinema so much. This is fun fun fun. Its a blood-soaked and boobie infested chunk of genre filmmaking at its best. Its plays all the right cards and is hilariously delivered... Richard Dreyfuss makes a great little cameo in a nod to Jaws (he's even wearing the same clothes from Jaws) and Christopher Lloyd does a great parody of himself. So go out and rent Piranha, Piranha 2 and Piranha 3D and have yourself a kick ass triple-creature-feature.
"The Final Chapter".... for now. The Saw franchise has really been bastardised since the first movie. Its so obvious that I needn't say that the first film should never have spawned a sequel... it was too good to be cheapened. BUT it was and admittedly I have enjoyed the journey for the most part. Saw has become a horror franchise that deserves to be crowned with the rest of em' (Elm St, Halloween, Hellraiser, Friday 13th etc). This final instalment (we'll see) is the 7th and most grisly of them all. The traps are extremely gruesome but also the most fake looking of all the movies. It would seem that too much brainstorming was spent on creating inventive contraptions and little was committed to executing ('scuse the pun) them properly. For a "final" chapter that's supposed to round things off and bring closure to the story, I reckon it's a bit of a cop out. But hey for the gore-hound in me I still relished in the absurdity of it all. More of the same... good popcorny nonsense.
Salvage is has become a cult British indie flick... a small suburban cul-de-sac is shut down by a squad of heavily armed special-op soldiers. No reason is given other than news reports of a strange container washing up and being breached on a nearby beach. The film centres around 2 lead characters who find themselves trapped together, forced to fend off an unknown malevolence outside. This is a really strange movie. For such a small budget it looks great. Its reminded me of Night of the Living Dead and Feast but little is explained and most of the movie is lost in confusion. I enjoyed some elements of it but was frustrated by the rest. Its too long which says heaps when it's running time is 75 minutes and it seems the writers missed the class which taught "end" after the lessons of "beginning" and "middle". On the up side, as a debut feature it has showcased a potential up-and-coming talent in it's director. Its shot well and performed capably enough. Not what I was expecting.
Note: the region 4 dvd cover art is very misleading. It's obviously the local distributor's attempt to up-sell their product (which worked). The container in the film is a shipping container and nowhere is a biohazard sign to be seen. Nor are there any tall buildings (its set in a cul-de-sac) and there's a brief shot of 1 helicopter in the distance. The soldiers in this movie do not wear masks at any point and there's absolutely no sign of fire or yellow tape.
Skyline is another War of the Worlds type of alien invasion movie. With a relatively unknown cast (some familiar faces) they were obviously able to concentrate their budget on the special fx, which are fantastic. There's some incredible imagery which would have looked great on the big screen... but the movie is average at best. It's actually quite boring with nothing really happening.... well nothing that had me captivated anyway. It will no doubt find it's audience amongst the nerdy of sci-fi geeks but for me Skyline didn't deliver much.
3 movies in and its clear that Jared Hess is an auteur. His comedies are unique and the question is whether he can maintain his kitsch. Gentleman Broncos suggests that he might run out of steam. At a lean 89 minute running time its disappointing to find that the movie begins brilliantly but descends into banality. When its good its hilarious. Jemaine Clement is brilliant (whatever he does is pure hilarity) and the movie is packed with hysterical moments (the hand massage being my favourite). But the movie's downfall is with it's attempt at parody. Its about a kid who writes a tacky sci-fi novella which is plagiarised by a renowned author (Clament) who stumbles upon the story at a writers festival. Much of the movie takes place within the sci-fi story and these scenes are played by Sam Rockwell who is also hilarious. Unfortunately the attempted b-ness of these scenes ruins what is otherwise a great comedy. A lot of the visuals and dialogue are highly amusing on their own, but in carrying an entire movie they become stale quickly. Overall it's still well worth checking out because there's some big laughs to be had. Its corny, odd and a little bit surreal.... just a bit disappointing in the end for me.
Winter's Bone was nominated for four Academy Awards; Best picture, best actress, best supporting actor and best adapted screenplay. Having just watched it I think that all of those were hugely deserved. This is a great film. It tells the story of a 17 year old girl (Ree) in middle America supporting her two younger siblings and a catatonic mother. Her father is missing and due to stand trial for cooking meth. Ree is told that if he fails to show up in court the family home will be taken as part of his bail agreement. And so Ree sets out to find him before she and her family become homeless. This is a very authentic movie. Not only does it play out as a drama and leans towards thriller but it is also a movie about it's setting. This is a backwards, poverty stricken part of America where there's very few savoury characters and criminal activity is almost a way of life. The film moves at the right pace and lets it's location tell part of the story. It's a stark and unforgiving country which is rarely seen this honestly on screen and the performances are incredible, notably Jennifer Lawrence who carries the bulk of the film on her shoulders.
Adam Resurrected was made in 08 but is only finding a dvd release this year (in May). I found it to be deeply depressing and incredibly complex. It tells the story of a former circus performer who lives in a mental asylum for holocaust survivors in Israel. Paul Schrader directed it and delivers a powerful film. It explores some profoundly dark psychological effects of a man who spent a year as an SS officer's personal dog and lost his entire family in the mean time. Its a film unlike any other and will no doubt leave an impression on most who see it. Jeff Goldblum has never been this good and it's a wonder his performance never garnered more attention. If you like challenging films then definitely check this one out.
A serious question; how on Earth did Joaquin Phoenix not get an Oscar nomination for this film let alone THE Oscar? This is surely one of the greatest performances of our time. I'm Still Here is performance art and social commentary. Directed by Phoenix's brother-in-law Casey Affleck, this mockumentary chronicles the public implosion of Phoenix's celebrity. His retirement from acting, his transition to hip hop music, his ridicule and his inner turmoil. It's a wallop of the movie and it's entirely fake. Thats not a spoiler by the way because Affleck & Phoenix both revealed their secret as part of the film's press junket. If you weren't aware of it all being a hoax then I'm not sure how convincing it would be because there are moments which do seem very put on but having said that, so much of it is totally convincing. Again I ask, where was Joaquin's Oscar nomination for best actor?