Director. Elijah Drenner.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
Everyone who's ever watched movies knows Dick Miller's face. He's "That guy". Whether its from his early work with Roger Corman or his later career with Joe Dante, he's the go-to character actor who brings weight to any role no matter now big or how small. Always a comforting presence on screen he has never really been given the due credit he so sorely deserves.
THAT GUY DICK MILLER is a retrospective documentary that celebrates his career and brings together family, friends and colleagues who all recollect their personal experiences with the man. There are too many notables to name, however, some of the key figures featured in the film include Joe Dante, Roger Corman, Allan Arkush, Corey Feldman, Ernest Dickerson, Gilbert Adler, Fred Dekker and Leonard Maltin. There isn't a negative comment to be heard in this affectionate and endearing tribute to one of Hollywood's most familiar figures.
As a fan of cult cinema, as well as a fan of Dick Miller himself, I was a little besotted by this charming doco. It has been a labor of love for director Elijah Drenner who raised the budget through crowd funding and picked apart every brain he could get in front of his camera. He elicits a huge amount of respect from his subjects and Mr Miller himself (as well as his wife) lets the camera crew into his home, thus giving the audience an invitation to spend time with him. The stories told through these interviews are candid and nostalgic and let fans see behind the characters and into a tenacious and happy-go-lucky worth ethic.
THAT GUY DICK MILLER is a love letter more than anything and is essential viewing for every genre fan out there. Whether you're new to his work, know him only by recognition or are a devoted fan... there is plenty to sink your teeth into with this film and it will leave you with a strong desire to revisit the classics.
2003 / Director. Louis Morneau.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
I am a glutton for shoddy sequels and I can't, for the life of me, figure out why. I love sequels in general and being able to explore storylines further excites me. It's an opportunity for filmmakers to be bold with established properties and the possibility for failure is as probable as the good fortune of success. One sequel that was entirely unnecessary (and stupid) was THE HITCHER 2.
Set 17 years after the original events Thomas C Howell finds himself travelling the exact same stretch of road with his girlfriend and terrorised by yet ANOTHER serial killing hitchhiker. So traumatised by the incident all those years ago, Howell's character is convinced that the new hitcher is the supernatural embodiment of Rutger Hauer. The film humours this notion and remains ambiguous as to whether this killer is supernatural or purely coincidence. And so from the moment he arrives on screen the film becomes a stupid and perplexing rehash of the original film.
The biggest oddity of all is that the movie is quite well made. On a technical level it is fascinating and absorbing. The cinematography is good and employs creative and interesting techniques to give the story an appealing visceral quality. A particular tracking shot following Steve Railsback's sheriff character is stunning and various POV shots are well placed. The performances, however, are all flabby and forced with the exception of Jake Busey as the killer who is consistently menacing. Being such a needless sequel, fifteen years too late, its lacklustre and uninspired premise is expected. You can't ask much from it and the more absurd it becomes, the more fun you find yourself having - well for me anyhow.
THE HITCHER 2... dumb. Unwarranted. Forgettable...... Kind of cool.
2015 / Director. Brad Peyton.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
SAN ANDREAS is a massive piece of shit... and it's awesome!
When you've seen one disaster movie, you've seen them all. They generally follow a strict formula and we know exactly what to expect. There will be a hero. The special effects will be excessive. Thousands of people will die (but we're only meant to care about a few). And we're supposed to yell “America, Fuck Yeah!” at the end. SAN ANDREAS adheres to all of the above, but it also ditches a lot of the other conventional bullshit that usually comes with the genre.
The film opens up with an terribly executed piece of filmmaking. A girl drives her car off a cliff and Dwayne Johnson leads a rescue crew to save her. It's that introduction where the hero dips his sunglasses and says “Relax ma'am, we're here to save you” and of course things turn pear-shaped. The entire scene employs an unnecessary amount of bad CGI, which immediately instils concern. I was struck with that sinking feeling and suddenly thought to myself that it was going to be a long two hours. And then the disaster kicks in and there's no mucking around. An earthquake strikes Nevada and the film cranks into overdrive. This is a disaster movie that doesn't let up. The Earth rumbles and shakes and buildings collapse like dominos before the ground opens right up and starts devouring the metropolis like a kid would smash french fries. The fact that the destruction is relentless sets SAN ANDREAS apart from the typical disaster movie. Yes the script is flimsy. Yes the characters are irrelevant and yes it's entirely contrived... but it's so chaotic that there's little time for anything else. This saves us the boredom of political bullshit. There is no President. There is no National Guard and there are no strategical command centres. As viewers we are dropped right into the middle of the mayhem as an entire city crumbles upon us... and it's surprisingly thrilling.
Dwayne Johnson has a commanding presence on screen and allows his performance to be overshadowed by the whole unfolding spectacle. The supporting cast are also modest and resist the temptation for melodramatics. Paul Giamatti is the film's anchor and brings his weighty experience to the table. He plays the seismic professor who predicts the quake and does what he can to warn the country. His character is humble and less manufactured than most movies of this type allow and his moments of dread are what keep things glued together. He looks into the camera and you believe what he's saying.
SAN ANDREAS is clearly a cliched and generic piece of Hollywood shite. But it's also a whole lot of fun. You must switch off and let the genre consume you. It is a spectacle designed for theatrical audiences and it demands a giant screen and an epic sound system. To see it in a cinema is to feel the rumble in your gut and experience the exhilaration up close. You can chuckle at the cheesy lines and mumble “as if” under your breath and it's all part of the experience. Presumedly millions of people perish but thank God The Rock is safe!!! I guess there's only one thing for him left to do... “Rebuild!”.
2014 / Director Joe Lynch.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
EVERLY is a relentless, balls-to-the-wall action film. It tells the story of a Everly (Salma Heyak), a woman who has been held captive in a luxurious penthouse apartment by a merciless Japanese criminal overlord. When he discovers that she has been working with the police to bring down his organisation he sends a never-ending lineup of assassins into the apartment. Each of them has a specialised skill and Everly is tortured and beaten to a pulp while singlehandedly taking down every one of them until she has nothing left to give.
I have read a lot of criticisms about the film, most of which I can't comprehend. A reoccurring sentiment is that EVERLY is all style over substance, but I would argue that the style IS the movie's substance. This is a highly stylised, violent and visceral film experience that moves at a break-neck pace and has little time for character development. If you recall the "Crazy 88" segment from KILL BILL and can imagine that sustained for an entire film, then you will have an idea what to expect from EVERLY.
The film takes place almost entirely inside one apartment, and never strays outside of the building itself. The use of this one-set location is creative and clever as the camera dances gracefully from one sequence to the next without ever feeling repetitious or monotonous. The villainous characters that come and go are all wonderfully conceived and offer an assortment of effects. From batshit crazy to quirky and psychotic... and especially terrifying in the final act... EVELYN is packed to the brim with oddities.
Salma Heyak carries the film effortlessly. Her performance is physically demanding and at times emotionally charged and I can think of very few actresses who would have pulled it off as convincingly. The film recaptures some of her previous action experience from the EL MARIACHI series and gives her free reign in the ass-kicking department. Director Joe Lynch has also stepped up his game and delivered an accomplished film. He has been a filmmaker with lots of promise who has never been able to live up to his potential, and following films like WRONG TURN 2 and CHILLERAMA he has finally established himself as a filmmaker with vision. He handles the action really well and the whole film is eye candy for anyone who loves genre.
If you're prepared to bunker down on the couch and bare witness to 90 minutes of chaos and mayhem then you are sure to have a ball. Lap of every drop of blood and relish the brutality. Its a hell of a lot of fun.
2015 / Director. Brad Bird.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
TOMORROWLAND is a film full of secrets. It's a science fiction adventure with lots of revelations and describing it seems problematic. The film's nostalgic preface filled me with the same sense of wonder that I had when watching THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF DISNEY as a kid and its second act cast my mind back to THE LAST STAR FIGHTER. There is something fundamentally classic about this new Disney film and despite its high-tech 3D special effects, it employs an old form of storytelling.
George Clooney plays Frank Walker, a genius who was whisked away to a futuristic city when he was a boy. 50 years later he lives off the grid in a deceptive and secluded farm house. He is visited by a teenage girl, Casey, who was been lead to him by a mutual friend and together they find themselves on the run from government agents and desperately seeking a return to the city of flying cars and gravity-defying structures. Of course along the way various truths are revealed and the fate of the world lies in their hands. To reveal more would be to spoil the adventure for you.
Director Brad Bird came to the project with an increasingly impressive body of work. Following titles like THE INCREDIBLES and MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: GHOST PROTOCOL he clearly has a sensibility for quality family entertainment as well as a strong understanding of action and SFX-driven material. The adventure of TOMORROWLAND is wonderful and the performances are all excellent. Where it struggles, however, is in its convoluted storyline and idealistic eco messages. Several months ago people were making a huge fuss about JUPITER ASCENDING being incomprehensible and I am very curious to hear their thoughts on this one as it shares many qualities. The pseudo-science employed in TOMORROWLAND is understandably far-fetched, but it reaches levels of absurdity and grandeur that the illusion gets shattered. The wonder and charm of the film are lost in its final act as the story takes on an uninspired direction that may as well have been lifted from any other number of conventional sci-fi films.
Despite my disappointments with the direction of the narrative it is nevertheless a fun and action-packed family film. And contrary to many modern Disney movies there are quite a few surprisingly violent and graphic moments that kept me expecting the unexpected. Kids will lap this one up and adults with their sense of childhood wonder in tact will get heaps from it too. It's a very good film, that could have been great.
2015 / Director. Anthony Burns.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
These days having Katherine Heigl on a movie poster is the equivalent of displaying a sign that reads "Stop. Turn back. You are going the wrong way!". Few would disagree that she is an actress of very little range and her movies are beginning to amalgamate.
The good news that I bring is that she is excellent in HOME SWEET HELL. This is a film that plays to her strengths and may as well have been written for her. She plays an overly obsessive, controlling and psychotic wife with a bad case of OCD. She gets what she wants in life and makes no exceptions. When her ever-suffering husband finds himself in deep water following an affair, the couple wind up in a sinister and murderous set of circumstances - anything to save her marriage and continue her pursuit of "life goals".
It is not a good film by any means, nor is it a bad one. It is another one of those direct-to-dvd ventures that is solid enough to hold your attention until the end, but has very little depth and charisma to maintain satisfaction. As mentioned, Heigl is excellent in the lead role and she nails every twisted and comical moment of screen time. Patrick Wilson is also fantastic as her "yes dear" husband. Both of them share the film and relish the material with a gleeful perversion. Jim Belushi also provides some welcome support, although his talent is sorely underutilized.
If you can imagine a comical blending of FATAL ATTRACTION, SERIAL MOM and STEPFORD WIVES with graphic violence then you will know what to expect. If you watch it for the performances and accept that its narrative is uninspired then you will get more out of HOME SWEET HELL than others. You can take it or leave it.
2015 / Director. Zach Lipovsky.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
I am growing weary of zombie movies. They saturate the horror world and have become so common that all of the good ones have begun to blend in. DEAD RISING: WATCHTOWER is based on the popular Capcom video game series and follows a long tradition of single-player game adaptations. I am not a gamer, however, and so I am not able to draw any comparisons. That could be to my advantage or disadvantage, depending on your perspective, but whatever the case I am a horror fan and this is just another zombie movie as far as I'm concerned.
The basic premise is that a small city is locked in a quarantine zone following a zombie outbreak. The infected have become immune to a government vaccine and the healthy survivors are unable to escape the heavily armed borders. Jesse Metcalf plays a video journalist caught inside the contagion zone and with the help of three women he must fend off the deadites with whatever inventive weapons he can create. The result is a CGI blood splattered action movie with a lot of style and very little substance.
From its opening scenes DEAD RISING: WATCHTOWER boasts an impressive production. The look of the film is sharp and very polished and does, indeed, represent the atmosphere of a video game. Perhaps the makers over reached for a gaming connection because the abundance of digital gore and POV shots become irritating and unnecessary. Despite these gimmicky tropes the movie is shot really well and the action is thick and fast. Director Zach Lipovsky has an obvious flair for style and texture and he has created a viscerally appealing world for the viewer to spend time in. Unfortunately he doesn't have the same aptitude for drama and the film's quieter moments provide an opportunity for toilet breaks an coffee stops.
Jesse Metcalf has a strong on-screen presence and offers the film a solid lead. He is supported by a cast including Virginia Madsen, Dennis Haysbert, Meghan Ory and Keegan Connor Tracy. They're all decent enough but haven't been given much to work with, and so their performances all become run-of-the-mill stuff. Rob Riggle also makes an ongoing appearance as a media commentator and while his lines and performance is the stuff of gold, his character is distracting and side-tracks the overall narrative... and if you look closely enough you will see a fleeting cameo from the Soska Sisters.
DEAD RISING: WATCHTOWER is a great looking movie with a lot of potential. It wants to be a kick-ass entry into the zombie sub-genre but it is uninspired, inconsistent and far too long for its own good. Perhaps fans of the game will get more out of it than I did but as a stand-alone movie it falls short of its mark.
2015 / Director. Gil Kenan.
Review by Jarret Gahan.
Feeling the pinch of the global financial crisis, the Bowen family are forced to downsize to a residence in a lower socioeconomic end of town. Over the course of a few days, the family are teased by a metaphysical presence, escalating when the youngest, Madison (Kennedi Clements) is kidnapped by the mysterious entities. Eric (Sam Rockwell) and his wife Amy (Rosemarie DeWitt) call in paranormal heavy-hitters Dr. Brooke Powell (Jane Adams) & television ghost hunter Carrigan Burke (Jared Harris) to aid the rescue of their daughter from the spectral forces and potentially put an end to the haunting once and for all.
The task of remaking a film held in an equally high regard by fans of genre and cinema alike was never going to be easy and to the credit of POLTERGEIST (2015), it doesn't attempt a complete re-tread of the original either, albeit with mixed results. The few attempts to rework certain standout moments (in particular the tree crashing through the boy's bedroom, taking him hostage) from its predecessor are flawed, missing the spectacle and scare that made them so indelible. Gone are the practical, optical and mechanical effects of the first and replaced with predominately computer-generated imagery, a regular causality of modern genre cinema, just a shame given the enduring impact of the original's effects. Replacing the memorable though dated face-melting sequence is an impressive scene with a hole in the wall and a power drill that will doubt have audiences squirming in their seats and solid proof that sometimes a simple yet well choreographed in-camera effect is all that's needed. In addition to the aping of a few key sequences from the first, there are a couple throwaway references to the original in the dialogue, played more for laughs than a tip of the hat and unfortunately they barely illicit a smirk.
Unlike its predecessor, this film moves at a far faster pace, clocking in at ninety-three minutes (almost half an hour shorter) but in doing so it feels rushed, there is not enough time given to generate anticipation let alone suspense. The scares are few and far between, none of which evoked more than a mere tremor comparable to mild flatulence. Performances for the most part are pretty hammy (particularly Jared Harris) with exception to Sam Rockwell who turns in a fine effort as a loving charismatic father/husband maimed though undefeated by financial ruin, physically powerless to protect his family from inhuman duress. Gil Kenan seemed a promising fit as director giving his prior history with MONSTER HOUSE & CITY OF EMBER but his attempts fall short in what ultimately feels like a rushed and possibly under-budgeted production.
It’s not the standard set by the original that makes POLTERGEIST (2015) ultimately an average film, it’s the fact that there are many contemporary films such as INSIDIOUS and the more family friendly THE HOLE that are far better. Unfortunately it appears that the Poltergeist curse continues, though this time rather than the untimely passing of a cast or crew member, it may very well be a death at the box office for the film itself.
2014 / Director. Joe Dante.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
When I first read that director Joe Dante was making a new horror film I was spinning on the floor like a punctured soda can. It was great news. Fantastic news in fact. His career had laid dormant for so many years and his previous comeback film THE HOLE was an exciting return that gave hope of more to come. My enthusiasm, however, was curbed slightly when I found out that his new film would to be a “zombedy”. It's not that I dislike zombie-comedies but I do find a lot of them to be laborious and contrived.
In BURYING THE EX Anton Yelchin (ODD THOMAS) plays Max, a young guy stuck in a relationship with an overbearing and borderline psychotic girlfriend. After months of enduring her obsessive and insecure tendencies he decides to dump her. Fate steps in and she is killed while on her way to her pending break-up. Free from her dominating clutches Max moves on and falls for another girl and all seems peachy, that is until his ex rises from the grave and returns to be with him forever.
Joe Dante's films have a certain quality that makes them identifiable from the get go. They're typically steeped in a cartoonish atmosphere and have a rich and exaggerated production design. BURYING THE EX lacks most of those Dante expressions and presents itself as a low budget independent film from the outset, but where it lacks his signature stylings it makes up for with a strong script, amusing story and solid performances.
Anton Yelchin is great in lead role and seems to have a firm grasp on the genre. He presents his character with a casual demeanour, as a guy who would rather keep the peace and be miserable than to rock the boat in order to be happy. He is supported by Ashley Greene (TWILIGHT SAGA) who plays his insufferable ex. Her performance is an absolute show-stealer. She sinks her teeth into this character and gives the film its anchor. Whether alive and healthy or resurrected and decomposing, she lights the screen up with her quirky and hilarious zom-bitch persona and gives Yelchin a hell of a lot to play off. The other two main players are Alexandra Daddario (CHAINSAW MASSACRE 3D) and Oliver Cooper (PROJECT X) who are both great, and there's the obligatory staple cameo from the legendary Dick Miller. It's so great to see him on screen.
The script was written by Alan Trezza who also wrote and directed the short film from which BURYING THE EX is based on. His dialogue is natural and witty and he taps into a youthful vernacular that Dante would have struggled with on his own. There are so many great little nuances throughout the film that keep it engaging and offbeat. Max's razor scooter as his primary mode of transport is a nice touch and the ongoing references to classic horror films will keep the genre fans well quenched. The production design is also impressive with actual locations being more cost effective than custom made sets. The whole design boasts bold colour schemes and casts atmospheric textures across ordinarily mundane settings. Dante has effectively lifted a simple and modest film to something very classic.
There is a huge comfort in having Joe Dante back on the scene and he has proven that he's got a lot left in him. Despite stepping into a very low budget type of filmmaking he has reaffirmed himself as a master. He has no reservations sacrificing trademark tropes for new and innovative methods and BURYING THE EX is a fully rounded and deliciously macabre film that will appeal to people right across the board. Whether they're long time Dante fans or are regular passengers on the teenesque zombedy train... it's a hell of a lot of fun for all.
2014 / Director. Joe Dante.
Review by Jarret Gahan.
On the day Max (Anton Yelchin) intends to break-up with his clingy and over-controlling girlfriend Evelyn (Ashley Greene), she dies before his eyes in a sudden traffic accident. Before taking her last breath, Max vows they "will always be together", a promise he soon regrets once she rises from the grave mere weeks after passing. Unfortunately for Evelyn, Max has already taken up with new girl Olivia (Alexandra Daddario) but she's prepared to fight for her man even if it means having to devour a person or two along the way.
Despite a noticeably lower budget than filmmaker Joe Dante's previous films (with exception to THE HOLE), BURYING THE EX doesn't cheap out on the things that genuinely matter, a hilariously tight screenplay by first-time feature screenwriter Alan Trezza, solid though traditional Dante fashioned animated performances by the leads particularly Greene, impressive special effects make-up and proficient direction by the maestro himself. BURYING THE EX has Dante stamped all over it with references both subtle and blatant to genre luminaries and their landmarks (such as Val Lewton, George A. Romero, Boris Karloff and even Joseph Green), the unmistakable balance of morbidity and amusement, an exaggerated reality not too dissimilar to a modern fairy-tale, a richly layered score by Joseph LoDuca (The Evil Dead trilogy) and the welcomed obligatory cameo by legendary character actor Dick Miller (Gremlins, The Terminator, The Howling).
Admittedly the concept of Dante helming a zom-rom-com wasn't initially appealing but the reality of Dante directing anything trumps everything and what Dante manages to do with BURYING THE EX is prove that there's still life left in this bizarre sub-genre yet.
2014 / Director. Pablo Cabezas.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
Nicholas Cage movies are like a box of chocolates... you never know what you're gonna get. With his personal finances in ruins Cage has come to a point where every project is a pay check. Once a guaranteed bankable name, he is now pushing his way through the indie scene and his studio films are now few and far between. Sometimes he makes a good film and more often than not he makes bad ones. TOKAREV is one that I kept skirting around. It came right after two very solid films (THE FROZEN GROUND and JOE) and before two of his most poorly received ones (LEFT BEHIND and OUTCAST). Wedged right in the middle, it could have gone either way. Fortunately I was relieved to discover that it is actually an effective and taut action thriller. Cage plays a former mobster who lives a clean life. When his daughter is kidnapped and murdered he steps back into his old shoes and sets out on a course of revenge. With two former henchmen at his side he beats, bashes and kills any bad guy who stands between him and those responsible. It is your basic seen-it-before revenge film, however, it presents an unflinching and stylised narrative that sees a mundane plot elevated to something tangible and surprisingly enthralling. Spanish director Pablo Cabezas brings a fresh style of filmmaking to the project and tells the story with a creative flair. His camera angles, lighting and production designs have a uniquely non-American quality about them and his action is energised and kinetic. Cage is good in the lead and is supported by a strong cast including Danny Glover and Peter Stormare. I was particularly impressed by the strength of the performances from Cage's two henchmen, played by Max Ryan and Michael McGrady. They grounded the film for me and kept Cage's performance in check. It is no masterpiece but in the sphere of Nicholas Cage films it stands out above most of his recent action films. Now available on home entertainment release it's worth a look.
2015 / Director. George Miller.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
Less than 24 hours since MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was released and already the reviews are coming in thick and fast. Such a spectacle and event of a film will sell itself and no amount of reviews is going to make a lick of difference. Some reassuring words trending social media at the moment are "stunning", "magnificent", "amazing"," incredible", "phenomenal" and a whole slew of like minded expressions. To anyone who hasn't seen the film yet, it probably seems a little hysterical and overly dramatic to make such a fuss... but the sentiments speak true. FURY ROAD is simply gobsmacking!! We have waited 30 years for this new instalment in the series and a lot of patience and forgiveness has been afforded to director George Miller. Most people consider the previous film, BEYOND THUNDERDOME, to be the weakest in the original trilogy but I am one of those few who hold it in the highest regard. The magic of the MAD MAX series is that each film is progressive and the storytelling evolves with each instalment. Each one stands alone and they are all drastically different in concept, theme and aesthetic. THUNDERDOME was the film with the most heart and many people perceived that as being soft. My own personal view of that film reflects Roger Ebert's own thoughts and I highly recommend you take the time to read them (here). And so comes FURY ROAD which presumedly takes place after the events of THUNDERDOME. With an initial narration recapping the social collapse, we are reintroduced to Max in a familiar setting. Pursued by savage marauders he is captured and taken to an industrial community called The Citadel. It is not unlike Bartertown from the previous film and it is ruled by a the ruthless King Immortan Joe. Max escapes and unwillingly finds himself onboard a convoy lead by a woman named Furiosa. She has helped the King's Five Wives escape and is leading them to a safe haven beyond the sands. With the King and his army on their trail the convoy races to outrun the deadly pursuers. FURY ROAD is balls-to-the-wall action from the opening scene to the very last. In fact it is more or less a two hour action sequence... and never has action been more captivating. The film has been called operatic and that is a perfect way to describe it. With a heavy focus on practical stunts and FX, George Miller has created a whole new level of wonder and offers us some of the most innovative, extraordinary and highly stylised action sequences cinema has ever seen. You can forget about the story because this film transcends it. The level of precision and competence it takes to conceive this stuff, let alone create and deliver it, is of the highest degree. The script must have been terrifying to read, especially for the creatives, and there is no wonder the entire production took over a decade to complete. Tom Hardy steps into the role effortlessly and sells the character with ease. I'm one of those people who would have LOVED to have seen Mel Gibson returning to the role (which would have worked brilliantly) but I was equally chuffed to see Max reinvented for a new era. Hugh Keays-Byrne (Toe Cutter from the original) returns as the ghastly and hypnotic Immorten Joe. He is an ingenious character and Keays-Byrne relishes every second of screen time. Charlize Theron is also a fantastic addition to the Max universe and kicks as much ass as Max himself. She is the title character for the upcoming sequel and she demonstrates just as much brawn as any male counterpart and I look forward to her return. l read some commentators labelling FURY ROAD as misogynistic and then there are actual men's groups calling for its boycott for contrary reasons. Talk about idiots, the lot of them. George Miller's story of imprisoned women, used as commodities is precisely how a male dominated post apocalyptic world would be. Physical strength would most definitely prevail and the barbarity of human-nature would see the weakest (again, physically) vanquished. What these outspoken feminist crusaders have neglected is the fact that the entire story of FURY ROAD is about the women rising up and reclaiming power. Of course those critics judged without seeing and we shouldn't give any more weight to their naivety. FURY ROAD is a pulse-pounding, high-octane, extravaganza of a film. It's unlike anything that's been committed to the screen before it and it is an accomplished and exceptional piece of filmmaking. George Miller has outdone himself and the film is difficult to compare against the other chapters. As with each of the others it is it's own machine. It serves its own purpose and is a natural progression from THUNDERDOME. See it and see it again!
2014 / Director. Atom Egoyan.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
Atom Egoyan is amongst my favourite Canadian directors and he was one of the first auteurs (I loathe that expression) that I was fully besotted with. His early films are incredible and his work in the 90s is about as good as filmmaking gets. THE ADJUSTER and EXOTICA are titles that stuck with me throughout film school and THE SWEET HEREAFTER still remains one of my favourite films of all time. It's fair to say that his work has declined over the past 15 years and while he has maintained a level of credibly, he has towed a safe line and kept himself restrained. His latest film is THE CAPTIVE, which he also wrote and produced. It tells the story of a young girl who is kidnapped from under her father's nose and we watch the eight years that follow her disappearance unfold. Her father (Ryan Reynolds) raises suspicions as he butts heads with a tenacious and arrogant detective and he sets about finding his daughter alone. Meanwhile a special task force investigates and attempts to infiltrate online pedophile rings. With the sinister network of child sex offenders years ahead of the police with deep encryptions and security, the case is a long and arduous process. To say more is to reveal key plot elements. The story is convoluted and almost impenetrable as the narrative bounces between timelines without any distinguishable switches. I found myself lagging behind, trying to figure out which moment in time the story was at, and by the time I caught up, the narrative was another two steps ahead. That is not to say that the structure of the film is bad. It may well benefit from a second viewing. I also felt like there were a lot of hidden implications and underlying suggestions throughout the story that may made little sense at that time but might become obvious a second time around. The acting from all players is excellent and Ryan Reynolds' performance is outstanding. He really digs deep and offers an emotionally charged turn. The film also looks stunning and Egoyan's long-serving cinematographer Paul Sarossy recaptures a similar atmosphere to the incredible THE SWEET HEREAFTER, and if Egoyan had taken more care with the pacing and slowed it down he would have created a fitting companion piece. Perhaps he has become too mainstream, or maybe he has lost his nerve... whatever the case he has become a safe filmmaker who has lost his edge. THE CAPTIVE is a heavy film dealing with a taboo subject matter, but it is clunky and riddled with implausibilities and plot holes. Fortunately is looks great and is lifted by a competent ensemble cast and might just have another layer of complexities that aren't apparent with just one viewing. And so I will return to it soon and offer a reevaluation. Watch this space.
2015 / Director. Peter Farrelly. Bobby Farrelly.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
I regret not seeing DUMB AND DUMBER TO at the cinema. Life got in the way and I missed its run. Having a full audience to laugh with would have made a difference... but such is life. I waited for the home entertainment release and enjoyed it in the comfort of my home with my family of lowbrow specialists. 20 years have passed since we last saw Harry and Lloyd on our screens (the REAL Harry & Lloyd, that is) and it's a welcome return. In fact it's a hilarious delight and it has been worth the wait. The premise and formula is more or less a re-tread of the original film, however, it is not a mash up of recycled gags. It could have easily recreated famous lines and sight gags but it chose to continue the frivolity with a whole bag of new ones. Aside from a few fleeting moments of familiarity (Lloyd's breath freshener for example) it is the sequel fans were hoping for. Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels have stepped back into the roles as though no time had passed at all. They've hardly aged a day and their chemistry is as strong as ever. Daniels is the same loveable Harry with a heart of gold, whereas Carrey's portrayal of Lloyd has changed quite drastically. He has become a mean spirited and antagonistic asshole, and he takes the movie into a much darker place. It is not the family-friendly comedy of the first one and it ventures into that adult-oriented comedy-world that the Farrelly's so brilliantly exploit. I really enjoyed the edgier comedy and felt that the franchise has aged accordingly with its audience (I resist the term 'matured'). The film did suffer from an unnecessarily long running time and could have done with 15-20 minutes left out but it is nevertheless a stunning sequel to an impeccable film. The Farrelly Brothers have made a sensational return to form after a string of very average movies and fans may forgive them for crap like THE THREE STOOGES if they ride this pony for another few projects.
2014 / Director. Zach Lipovsky.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
Low expectations can do wonders. I approached LEPRECHAUN ORIGINS with an assumption that it was a turd. Everyone who'd seen it warned me off it and its user ratings are abysmal. With all of the forewarning in mind I avoided watching it for over a year. I was a big fan of the original franchise and with the reboot receiving such a pathetic reception, I was happy to ignore it. I rarely heed people's opinions when it comes to films and I should have ignored the negativity. I watched the movie tonight and I was fucking impressed. Perhaps the naysayers were expecting something which resembled the previous instalments, in which case they have reason to baulk. LEPRECHAUN ORIGINS has no similarities with the franchise whatsoever and it has nothing in common aside from the title. Viewers can be forgiven for expecting to see a little man running around in a green suit, robbing people of gold. Warwick Davis charmed us throughout six instalments as the funny little creature who joked his way from kill to kill, but his character has been ditched for this so-called "reboot" in favour of orc-like monsters. The quirky comedy-horror has been replaced with a dark and gruesome creature-feature story along the lines of FEAST. Four friends backpacking through Ireland find themselves in a small town with a dark secret. Befriended by locals they are taken to a cabin, locked inside and left as an offering for a leprechaun. With the demon-like creature lurking they arm themselves and fight for survival. As far as creature feature movies go, this is a little ripper. I really dug it. The creature designs are very cool and the foreboding atmosphere is very nicely done. The actors are decent enough and spend most of the film running and screaming. The gore is impressive and a few choice gore scenes push it to a deserved R rating. I really can't comprehend the atrocious reception this film received and I can only attribute it to the fact that it's entirely removed from the LEPRECHAUN series we know and love. As a stand alone movie, it worked for me and I will probably watch it again.