Jan 07 2013

blinkbox’s Favourite Films of 2012

Tag: blinkboxblinkbox @ 8:56 am

2012 was a great year for cinema that saw the release of critically-acclaimed independent films and record-breaking blockbusters alike. As The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises fought for supremacy at the box-office, some of the world’s most respected film-makers released some of their best works ever. This week, we’re taking a look back at some of our favourite films from the year just past and remembering what we said about them at the time:

Moonrise Kingdom
“While Moonrise Kingdom doesn’t rein back his aesthetic style, Anderson has found the heart that’s been missing from his recent work. He’s managed to cut back on his excesses without compromising anything. The willful whimsy has been replaced by a control and sense of sadness that makes the film cohere and linger in the memory.”

“Writer-director Rian Johnson, who made his name with the high school indie-noir Brick once again shows his talent for infusing scripts with small details and character choices that really colour his world… Every little character seems to subvert expectations slightly and as a result, the people and the world of Looper feel properly fleshed out… It’s refreshing to see character valued over action and story over plot. Johnson is one of those film makers that always make such interesting choices. His films are rarely ever predictable on a moment-to-moment basis.

Cabin in the Woods
“Co-writers Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard have created a movie that takes great pleasure in gradually revealing how the two plots tie into each other, slowly illuminating the world in which the story takes place… Though its peculiar approach may disappoint horror fans in search of a purely terrifying experience, it seems unlikely that anyone would take exception to being duped into seeing a movie so original, smart and unpredictable.  It might not be the scariest movie ever made, but you’re unlikely to find many horror films as joyously entertaining.”

“The lead actors are absolutely heartbreaking, crafting two physical-taxing performances despite being well into their 80s. Amour really takes its audience through the wringer, balancing sentiment and emotion with moments of clarity and dry humour. Haneke deserves all the accolades he has received for this film: it’s undeniably great.”

Life of Pi
“[Director Ang] Lee and cinematographer Claudio Miranda have assembled a film with incredible visual panache, creating an intentionally artificial aesthetic that constantly makes us question what we’re seeing… It’s a remarkably faithful adaptation that never feels bound by its incredibly popular source novel. Instead, it is a treat for the senses: one that should appeal to a broad audience and will undoubtedly come back into focus when awards season rolls around.”

Avengers Assemble
“Dealing with four main characters (each of whom have their own film franchises), writer/director [Joss] Whedon could easily have turned this into an incoherent mess, paying lip service to minor heroes and ending up with a movie that was long and boring. Running at 142 minutes, Avengers Assemble is a long film, but the efficiency with which Whedon has structured and shot it means that the movie never flags… When the cards are on the table at the end of the movie, the final act delivers like very few action blockbusters do. In a huge action set piece, the heroes finally gel and we are treated to a thrilling action-fest that sees each hero do some genuinely cool stuff.”

Jan 07 2013

“Leaving Seth Rogen” New Releases Monday 7th January 2013

Tag: blinkboxblinkbox @ 8:55 am

Take this Waltz
This is the second feature from writer/director Sarah Polley, whose debut film Away From Her earned her an Oscar nomination for best adapted screenplay. In Take This Waltz, Michelle Williams and Seth Rogen are a young Canadian couple whose seemingly happy marriage is compromised when Williams becomes intimate with the man who lives across the street. While this film is billed as a comedy drama, you can expect it to be more like Blue Valentine than Knocked Up. This film was met with critical praise on its  release, continuing Polley’s rise as a true cinematic talent.

Gangsters, Guns and Zombies
Boasting the most marketable title of any film EVER, GG&Z is exactly what you think it is. When Britain becomes overrun with the zombies, a group of cockney geezers decide to tool up and paint the streets red. Made on a low budget with unknown actors, there’s no shortage of CG blood and tongue-in-cheek humour in this debut feature from director Matt Mitchell.

Dead Europe
The second Australian film on release this week, Dead Europe is a dark psychological drama that focuses on generational guilt and superstition. Isaac is an Australian photographer of Greek origin who travels to Europe to scatter his late father’s ashes in the village where he grew up. Looking to reconnect with his roots, Isaac instead discovers a haze of prejudice permeating the continent. This film played at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival and features Kodi Smit-McPhee from The Road and Let Me In.

Produced by B-Movie legend Roger Corman, this schlocky low budget ‘horror film’ is an alleged follow-up to Sharktopus (“Half shark. Half octopus. All deadly”). Reservoir Dogs star Michael Madsen plays an entirely plausible scientist who incurs the wrath of a pair of piranhacondas (take a guess) when he steals their eggs. And if you think the idea of a scientist being chased by giant snakes isn’t enough to sustain one movie — don’t worry, because there’s also a side-plot that involves a movie crew getting kidnapped by mercenaries. You know what to expect: tropical Hawaiian locations; plenty of quad bike chases; and lots of sexy ladies and buff dudes getting gored in different ways.

Back from Hell
A low budget paranormal horror that sees six friends spend a spooky weekend in the country, Back from Hell conforms to a number of modern horror clichés – not least of all the fact that it’s shot on a handi-cam like The Blair Witch Project and features an exorcism. Judging by its trailer and IMDb page, this is an entirely Italian production with Italian actors playing English speaking characters. If you can’t get enough of demonic possession movies, then you may want to check this one out.


Jan 07 2013

blinkbox Recommends: 2012 Favourites

Tag: blinkboxblinkbox @ 8:53 am

1. Goon
Seann William Scott is utterly charming in this heart warming sports comedy that came in under the radar earlier this year. SWS stars as Doug, a gentle and polite professional bouncer with a talent for knocking heads together. After a video of him punching out a local hockey player goes viral, Doug is offered a job becoming the team’s ‘enforcer’. In professional ice hockey, an enforcer is a guy whose sole purpose is to hurt the opposing teams’ players. This practice was apparently a real thing and quite common in the sport until relatively recently. But you really don’t need to like hockey or even know anything about it to appreciate this Rocky-style comedy. SWS is a believably sweet leading man and his budding relationship with local girl Alison Pill (Zelda Fitzgerald from Midnight in Paris) feels more genuine than the romances you’d see in most respectable dramas. Despite it not setting the box-offices alight, this is perhaps our favourite comedy of the year so far.

2. The Lucky One
Whilst on patrol in Iraq, Marine Sergeant Zac Efron notices a photograph in the rubble. It’s of a young woman in front of a lighthouse with the words ‘keep safe’ scrawled on the back. At that moment, a mortar attack destroys the spot where he was sitting moments ago, making this woman in the photo his guardian angel of sorts. When he returns home, he deduces where she lives (by googling the word ‘lighthouse’) and walks to her town with the intention of saying thank you. However, through a series of misunderstandings, he doesn’t explain finding the photo but instead starts working at her spacious dog ranch. He’s haunted by his time in Iraq; she’s troubled by loss and regret: together, they’re a perfect match. Based on the book by Nicolas Sparks, The Lucky One contains all the hallmarks of his tragedy-tinged romances. There are clichés aplenty (violent ex-husband, precocious child, must-love-dogs) but the film is elevated above your average chick flick by Efron’s innate likeability. This isn’t exactly a ‘guilty pleasure’ movie but as a light and pulpy romance, it’s perfect for a lazy Monday night.

3. The Woman in Black
Is there life after Harry Potter for Daniel Radcliffe. From the looks of The Woman in Black, he’s feeling no pressure to distance himself from supernatural movies in this adaptation of the long-running West End play. Set in a remote town in the Edwardian era, Radcliffe plays a young widowed lawyer send to settle the affairs of a large unoccupied manor. While the locals ominously tell him to leave, Radcliffe decides that the best thing would be to stay in the haunted mansion. The house is fully stocked with ghost story clichés – rocking chairs, mirrors, wind-up toys – which provides a lot of opportunity for him to scare himself stupid. There’s a lot that doesn’t make sense in this film, but the haunted-house passages are really effective when they need to be. Radcliffe still looks way too young to be a widowed-professional-father, but you know what? He’s not bad in this movie.

4. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
Starring Nicolas Cage, the first Ghost Rider movie was not very successful. It bombed at the box-office and was almost universally reviled by the critics. One of its main problems was that it never struck a consistent tone: Cage was an Evel Knievel-type stuntman who is also a servant of the devil and mixed in there was also a wholly unbelievably love story between him and childhood sweetheart Eva Mendes. The film wanted to be edgy and dark but was way too ridiculous to have been Marvel’s version of Batman Begins.

Enter Neveldine/Taylor, the directing team who are given the keys to this sequel. Best known for their off-the-charts insane action flicks Crank and Crank 2, they wisely let Nicolas out of the Cage, allowing him to delivery one of his trademark CRAZY performances. The sequence where he transforms into a flaming skeleton is totally bonkers while the action scenes are mad and delightful in equal measure. The central plot involving the devil’s designs on a young boy is fairly unoriginal, but it serves adequately as a MacGuffin that allows Cage and Idris Elba’s biker priest to get into all sorts of scrapes. This was never going to be one of the better superhero movies, but it’s a fascinating curio that knows exactly what it is: a mad, mad action movie about a skeleton on fire who rides a Yamaha.