So the usual Guy Ritchie mockney gangsta affair. A bit of heist. A bit of troubled friendship. A bit of back stabbing. A lot of meh. Holding some interesting themes, but it does nothing with them. This film performs the greatest sin of BORING me. You are a one-trick pony Guy and that trick is tired.
Set in an 80s tournament for chess software, several teams battle against each other to find the winning program that will attempt to beat a human grand master. Filmed in retrograde black & white, this period black comedy is very nostalgic for a geek generation, but the comedy is rather niche, lightweight and rather dries up towards the end. I'm sure the film has something clever to say, but it was lost on me. The Guest and Altman influences are in format alone. Swing and a miss.
Enrique returns home from a stint in prison to find his homelife has changed. His wife is hiding an affair she had whilst he was away and his son Michael is going through a sexual/gender awakening. The bigoted father tries hard to grasp hold of his masculine ideals, whilst Angela tries her best to keep her family dynamic together. Though the story of a man returning home from prison to find shit has changed is rather well trodden ground, the tale of Michael's transexuality and the gender politics it brings on is a nice angle. Harmony Santana is a triumph as Michael and gives the character real empathy. The cast as a whole does very well, but I found Enrique's arc to be rather flat and his story should have held equal heading with that of his son. The juxtaposition of the two characters could have been so much more interesting. It just fell a little flat here. An intriguing tale of sexual transformation, but not much more.
*GUILTY PLEASURE KLAXON* Sylvester Stallone writes, produces, directs and cameos in a rather out there sequel to Saturday Night Fever. Tony Manero was a somebody in 70s Brooklyn. Now living in Manhattan, he is a wannabe Broadway dancer and actual part time dance class instructor/waiter. He meets a snooty dancer who is playing the lead in a show his girlfriend dances in and scores a part in her next show. A love triangle develops as Tony struggles with his own identity and shortcomings. Yada yada yada. How Tony Manero has gone from discotheque king to Broadway is anyone's guess, but you have to leave the last film at the door. What we have here is a high camp masterpiece complete with Frank Stallone music (and a bit part) and Bob Mackie costuming. It's mostly a showcase for Travolta's ass and lunchbox which are beautifully framed in a series of tight trousers. An absurd film, but up there in the "so bad it's good" pantheon.
Chueco is an up and coming neighbourhood in Madrid that an estate agent wants to make exclusively gay and hip. However some of the elderly residents don't want to sell, so he decides to kill them to get the prized real estate on the market. Ray and Leo live next door to his latest victim and inherit the apartment in her will, but when Ray refuses to sell and moves his obnoxious mother in instead, things get complicated and murderous. It's a Spanish black comedy in the great shadow of Pedro Almodovar. Fast-paced, irreverent and laugh out loud funny. The handsome cast does the comedic script great justice and it contains a chase in a sauna. Brill.
Groundhog Day meets Aliens in this compelling sci-fi adventure based on the novel All You Need is Kill (a far superior title.) The Earth has been invaded by a deadly alien race. Major William Cage is a cowardly PR guy for the army who, after refusing to go into combat, is declared a deserter and is forced to the front line in the infantry. The operation is a slaughter, but Cage finds himself in a time loop and lives the same day over and over, fighting and then dying. With each new day though, he learns more and more about the situation in order to try and put a stop to the invasion. After some recent duds, Cruise is back on form in the lead and it's nice to see him playing kind of an arsehole. Emily Blunt proves to be quite the kick ass action hero, holding her own against Cruise's star power. The scene is well set and the script is fast paced, witty and the plot rather clever and interesting. An interesting clever script from a Hollywood blockbuster? I know right. I found it a genuine thrill ride with some great stakes. The ending disappointed me, but it was a great ride there.
A fun sequel that expands on the original storyline, which like its audience, has matured, dealing with some more sombre themes. Life is great on the isle of Berk with their new found synergy with dragons. Hiccup however is still trying to find his place in the world and has been mapping out lands further afield. On one trip he learns of a viking named Drago Bludvist who is amassing a dragon army in order to rule over all viking tribes. Hiccup takes it upon himself to find this viking persuade him into peace. Doesn't quite work out so neatly. The visuals and action are as stunning as the original. The themes of mortality and responsibility do seem a little too much for a younger audience, but I rather admired the film having some stakes. My only niggle is Cate Blanchett. The accent was all over the place and rather distracting. Were no Scottish actresses available? It's a great visual treat and I look forward to the third film as this is rivaling Toy Story in a great animated series.
A fun animated romp about the son of a viking chief who's quest to become a dragon slayer is halted when he meets and befriends an injured dragon he names Toothless. It's a charming story that thankfully stays grounded in the world it creates rather than relying on pop culture references. The animation is gorgeous and the action pieces are a thrill ride. Highly recommend.
The year is 1969. After meeting a charming Irish drunk at a small town talent competition, three aborigine sisters form a soul girl group with a girl from their childhood, enter and win a competition to entertain American troops in Vietnam. During their tour they learn a great deal about each other and themselves. Relationships are formed and tested all to a cracking soul soundtrack. The story may be well trodden, but the setting makes the racial subtext quite emotive and the talented cast make it a very likable and believable tale. An easy one to get swept up in and a joy to watch.