chetsk's Movie Ratings - Rotten Tomatoes

Movie Ratings and Reviews


It's great to see Denzel and Zemeckis in top form after a long time. The entire opening sequence leading up to the crash is - literally - edge of your seat stuff; brilliantly filmed particularly in the way it drops subtle details that one knows will be of profound importance later. The remainder of the film, although perhaps a little too long, is a compelling character study that Denzel expresses in all the character's flawed complexities. There is a little mismatch between the opening thriller and remaining drama, but if you allow the film tell the story it wants to, it will reward.


This probably wont be well received by a lot of people as, whilst the film will be compelling enough for them, they will search for a more conventional conclusion to justify such darkness portrayed on the screen - such as a happy ending or at least a solution to the questions the film raises, or at the very least, a clear-cut nod indicating an intention to open a forum for audience discussion on how to resolve all the world's problems.It's too depressing otherwise? But this would really defeat the power of this film - which would suggest that such a need is due only to ubiquitous assimilation - the result of a marketing holocaust. Instead, in true existential fashion, Kaye propels us to look within ourselves - to understand the true nature of our own existence despise all the darkness that may be required to do so. What the film strives for is reality; to provide a very truthful and honost impression of society. The result is a very poetic and stylised impression of a group of characters trying to find their place within a carnivores society and a flawed existence. The film is not only darkness, however, - there are a lot of beautiful moments, particularly in Henry and Erica's character arcs - and the life that is breathed into them - at least momentarily (but are these moments not enough?) or the way the film turns to literature, poetry and art as an ultimate salvation.

In the Cut
In the Cut(2003)

The criticism of its failures as a conventional thriller are misguided as this is something very different - a superbly dark, moody and surreal psychosexual noir drenched with poetic symbolism into its mediations into gender and sexuality.

The Sessions
The Sessions(2012)

Great acting all round - particularly the leads - Hawkes is never short of brilliant. All the characters are interesting and well drawn - even the smaller roles are given the room to breath into compelling character stories. This is subtly hilarious and written very well, but most of all this is never shy to be honest and truthful - from start to finish.

De rouille et d'os (Rust and Bone)

Raw and organic, well acted and directed. It's not contrived and the characters are real people.

Near Dark
Near Dark(1987)

This hasn't aged too well, but Near Dark is interesting when viewed as part of Bigelow's body of work; in particular the lead up to Point Break with The Loveless, Near Dark and Blue Steel. Her first film - a short - which i have not seen, features two men beating eachother to a pulp in an alleyway whilst the audio is dubbed by two professors analysing the philosophy of the violence. This characterises her career which peaks at Point Break and Hurt Locker. Near Dark builds on her thesis of the patriarchal family unit, masculinity, gender and violence. On a surface level it's features some cool genre bending - merging the vampire/horor with the western. Notably Bigelow plays with genre conventions to express ideas that she is interested in. For example, the vampire film already turns the feminine/masculine idea on its head by featuring a feminised male-vampire protagonist (such as Dracula) who uses his sexuality as seduction and weapon - a power typically attributed to a female in cinema, but Bigelow reverses this by retuning the seduction role to the female. This plays out nicely in the opening scene where we think that Caleb is the vampire but it is actually turns out to be Mae. The male vampires then have more traditional brutish masculine roles closer to black hats from a Western.

Zero Dark Thirty

On one hand this is an interesting film to see, as it gives very meticulous procedural and operational detail on the post 9/11 hunt for Bin Laden. Whilst controversy has exploded not only amongst film critics, but also from the White House, there seems to be a unanimous consensus that the film remains to be well crafted and highly tense. A caliber one should definitely expect from the likes of the writer of Hurt Locker (which was both incredibly tense and morally complex), camera work by the guy who shot Killing Them Softly, Bright Star and Let Me In and the editor of Argo, Heat and The Insider, not to mention cult 80s 'macho-action-film' director Kathryn Bigelow who is now labeled as leading the hyper-real 'new-war' film after winning the deserved Oscar for Hurt Locker.

There are a few points to make here. Firstly, praise for the film's craftsmanship is questionable, notably in an over-saturated market of war-on-terror fictions - particularly in television such as 24 and Homeland, which arguably have more of an impact and definitely more of an emotional resonance. What ZDT lacks is emotional involvement, as unlike 24 or Homeland, there is deliberately a minimal exploration into character or any intentional provocation of audience sympathy. This directly limits the build of suspense, making ZDT very tedious at times to watch. The only motivation is intrigue to witness how the events very close to our historical conscious played out. In fact, due to cinema's inherent bias for audiences to side with its protagonist, the only thing we as an audiences are directed to care for, is the murder (note - not capture) of Bin-Laden.

This directly falls into the next point - the controversy surrounding the film, for its blatantly extreme-Right views on terror, and the justification of un-constitutional means to get the job done - notably the use of brutal physical and psychological torture, which in the film directly leads to the capture of Bin Laden. Whilst Bigelow's intentions seems to be that of presenting a film strictly as procedural fact - to provide an unbiased account of the events, it is not to say that every cut, angle or spoken word unwillingly presents a point of view. Here we are presented with an overtly masculine team - particularly the female protagonist, who only has one motivation - to kill Bin Laden. Throughout the film we are shown countless terrorist attacks - notably 9/11 and the London bombing, which motivate our team further. This is not balanced by a shred of understanding of the terrorist groups, and the film does not offer any suggestions as to their motivations or America's evils. Nor is there any exploration or even mention of the array of political and moral themes surrounding the subject matter. Thus, unfortunately Bigelow's intention to provide an unbiased account has unwillingly done the opposite.

However, in defense of the film, a large portion of what one takes away from it is from one's own perception. Whilst one viewer after seeing the film may conclude that torture was a necessarily means to Bin Laden's end, another may view the torture scenes as brutal, unwarranted and critique our justice system. The same person may see the final raid into Bin Laden's home in Pakistan as a brutal murder of defenseless women and children, and an inglorious end to a 10year long manhunt which not only expensed constitutional rights, but our own humanity. Hence an ultimate critique on the masculinity that led to Bin Laden's murder.


Refreshing. The narrative is a little convoluted but this makes it all the more interesting and stylistic. It has some great insightful moments that when put together really captures the essence of an age, generation and perhaps life itself.


Over-rated. Sure it looks good and cuts out all the un-necessary Hollywood gloss to stay authentic to both the comic book and the B-action action genre, but the action sequences are really not that tense and far from expertly choreographed, nor are the sequences hard hitting or ultra-violent as one may have expected. Whilst Dredd evokes comparison to The Raid for its almost identical storyline, The Raid puts this film to shame. The Raid has jaw-dropping impact and somehow amidst such hyper-violence and minimal dialogue also makes one invest in the characters. It's a film Dredd wished it could be.

Life of Pi
Life of Pi(2012)

Above all else, visually this is breathtakingly beautiful - Lee's use of 3D is revolutionary and shows that 3D can actually be artistic. I never thought 3D could look so incredible. Importantly these technical feats are supported by careful, gentle and unrushed storytelling. From the first scene we feel secure in the hands of one of cinema's great classical storytellers. Finally, whilst for the majority of the film one may expect to be following a simple yet fantastical storyline - particularly one that promotes religion and tolerance as a bumpercar sticker, the ending transforms the entire film into something a lot deeper, complex and thought provoking.

The Impossible

The script takes a backseat to good acting and direction. In a sense this works as the disaster at the films core is powerful enough on its own regard. Whilst there is nothing complex or insightful here, The Impossible does justice to the profound human tragedy that occurred not too long ago, and the film is perhaps even important as an avenue to revisit this tragedy. It's sympathetic to all the victims and portrays the Thai people in a very good light. Although one wonders why it seems to be only white tourists that are effected by the disaster, whilst the thai people are only there to help... Furthermore, unfortunately the emotions are very contrived and the film deliberately manipulates the audience's sympathy as a means to build tension. That said it is Impossible not to have a very emotional response for the entire duration of this film.

Oslo, August 31st

"Oslo, August 31st" is a very well written, insightful and complete film. Whilst it centers around one character's journey within a very dark space, each character he encounters is dealing with their own mundane and all-too-familiar problems. This is perhaps captured best in a beautiful coffee shop scene, where Andres sits for hours observing everyone's conversations. The film really captures the essence of a new generation having come of age, grappling to make sense of their lives. In a sense Andres is exactly the same as everyone else, only - as the he puts it, is less moronic, as the ending proves. Furthermore, like many good films the location - Oslo - becomes a very important character that Trier's beautiful direction captures perfectly in a way that serves the overarching film. There is nothing contrived here and the story evolves very organically into something very subtly powerful and quietly profound.

Safety Not Guaranteed

I really enjoyed the first half of this. The premise and the characters are exciting and intriguing, the humour is oddball yet deadpan, it's bittersweet, has a lot of charm and even a bit of depth as characters are all trying to come to terms with their past - which works nicely with the time travel theme. Thus it has all the right ingredients for a good indie flick, even the slightly melancholic acoustic soundtrack.

However I felt that once the story settles in and you know what it's about, it tends to drag, opting to defer any questions regarding its intriguing time travel dilemma until the very ending and in this process the witty and alternative edge is lost. Whilst it still works, it had potential to go a lot further and a little deeper. Instead the film opts for something lighter and sillier. For instance it touches on themes of reality and especially with such eccentric and misfit characters, it had all the ingredients to really question the very nature of reality. A more under-rated but similar film Griff The Invisible dealt with the same questions and left us in a much deeper and profound space whilst regaining its indie charm. Unfortunately Safety Not Guaranteed does not leave us with much, other than half a smile. Thankfully it remains personal and the likeable and strange characters make it enjoyable to the end.

The Master
The Master(2012)

Serious, deep, slow, complex, challenging and perhaps entirely character based, this is definitely not for a mainstream audience. Walking out of the cinema I overheard a lady complain that Freddie Quell (Phoenix) was too specific of a character that he was too 'unrelatable,' and needed to be more general for audience identification. She's completely missed the point! 1) This is what makes Quell so mesmerising and intriguing. Can we not fathom that emotions exist that we haven't experienced ourselves? Quell is guaranteed to become an influential character in cinematic history - like the other 'unrelatable' cinematic war veteran/victim Travis Bickle. 2) The Master is a great film because of this very refusal to conform to the genre and narrative expectations of a biopic, such as it's traditional rise and fall structure or refusal to give Dodd (Hoffman) any backstory.

Furthermore The Master shows that, coupled with There Will Be Blood, P.T Anderson is finding a very unique voice in cinema. Visually the film is stunning and definitely worth seeing in 70mm. If for nothing else, watch this for undoubtedly the two best screen performances (Phoenix and Hoffman) in a very long time. They are so emotionally crippling and powerful that you have to wonder what the actors went through to make this film.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

I didn't want to like this. Not being a Tolkien fan, to me it seemed a little greedy to drag out a three-hundred-something page children's book into a 3-part 9-hour long movie spread across 3 years. For what other reason would you do this other than to guarantee a safe and steady return on investment for the near future?

Yes The Hobbit does drag - sometimes scenes as trivial as a dinner party runs for much longer than required. Likewise there is a lot of detail and exploration into side stories. For instance, Jackson goes beyond the source text and draws upon other Tolkien literature on Middle Earth. However this creates something much more than a children's fable and expands The Hobbit to the epic proportions of Lord of The Rings.

Contrary to my expectations, the dragging out of the movie doesn't appear so much of a business move but a true Tolkien fan being given the liberty to be meticulous and indulgent. True, only a Tolkien fan will truly appreciate the film, but I think that this indulgence has allowed Jackson to create a magical and fantastical universe. Yes, at least in this first installment, there is a lack of substance to justify such indulgence; I mean the story is rather straightforward. However it is this meticulous detail that really reminds the viewer of the magic of cinema; it takes one back to their childhood, when making that rare outing to the cinema and experiencing the sheer thrill of escapism when laying witness to the magical universes created by the likes of Steve Spielberg or George Lucas.

The majority of modern blockbusters fall well short of creating such a world. It requires a delicate balance of technology as spectacle and good storytelling. I didn't get to see Hobbit in the HFR 3D, but even in its 2D format and standard frame rate the visual effects are amazing. Notably it's not so much the technology Jackson indulgences in, but rather the storytelling; the technology just supplements it. Christopher Nolan may be in the forefront of a new breed of intelligent blockbusters, conversely here we have a different type of good blockbuster; a magical escapist one.


Dark, funny, witty and smart, Heathers may come across as absurd, but I believe you can very directly read this as a Nietzschian critique on society and morality through a 'will to power.' The school (which may as well represent society as a whole) is structured into a master/slave hierarchy or dichotomy. The Heathers represent the elite class. Heather 1, for instance, wears a red ribbon as a crown which gets passed around after her death. They control the masses of different classes from the loner fat kids to the geeks to the jocks through the inherent social morality propagated, in a Nietzschian sense, from the masses themselves. Then there's Veronica (Ryder) who seems to have found herself amongst the elites, but disillusioned by the inherent injustices prevalent in the system. She's attracted to the "cool" James Dean like outsider JD (Slater), who is not to be confused as an anarchist, but rather the Ubermensch - or the Superman, who has his own superior sense of morality. Importantly, this morality, unlike the other's, is not a socially imposed 'slave morality,' and this is what allows him (along side the audience) to look down on the entire school system misanthropically (apart from Veronica who he recognises as a potential equal) as though it is populated by apes (or inferiors). Thus the film allows no compassion for each murder, and rather the victims are seen as inferior and undeserving of life. In fact it is only in their deaths that they can finally be seen as human - thanks to JD and Veronica's rewriting of their lives and personality in forged suicide notes.

In this high school - a moral vacuum of nilism where God is most definitely dead, JD (and his new found accomplist) begins to enforce his superior morality through a rampage of murder and suicide. Importantly, as at the end of the film when he declares "lets face it, the only place different social types can genuinely get along together is in heaven," it is not through hate, but rather out of compassion for the oppressed that motivates JD to take society to a genuine utopia. Whilst he may fail in the end, it is a recently self discovered outsider - Veronica (with her hair a frizz, her clothes half burnt and torn, and covered in ash) that takes the Heathers crown.

Heathers is a cult classic that pleasantly took the teen genre into new directions. Despite it's dark cynicism theres still a lot of charm to Winona Ryder and Christian Slater's romance as they go on their suicidal rampage, a charm that the teen genre very rarely taps into - at least in the more recent attempts.

To Rome with Love

It has its moments. It's occasionally funny and has the occasional insight. Rome is captured beautifully and romantically as expected - with a hint of Ozymandias melancholia if you will. It is also well casted and acted. Unfortunately it lacks the heart-warming charm and the hard-hittingly deep insights of the much older Woody Allen multi-story ensemble classics. Whilst it's not a bad movie, for new audiences it won't amount to too much more than a stock-standard romantic comedy, bordering on silly but swaying a little towards the intellectual side namely for some of the character's personality rather than the film's actual insights though. For Woody Allen fans, the films we love still live on with the same character archetypes who are grappling the same existential questions in a vintage Woody Allen universe. For some reason this will never grow thin. Luckily he manages to express this very well every few years. This year it's just a bit of a yawn and doesn't really work... but average Allen is still a delight, but that's probably because i'm biased.

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

The film opens with a small girl crying at a jack-in-the-box. The man at the carnival booth responds by showing it to her again saying "wan't to see it again little girl, it shouldn't scare you." The girl does not look away and does not stop crying. This sets the unsettling mood to this psychological thriller/horror which invests heavily on the psychological makeup of it's two leads.

This is a well told story. Aldrich takes his time setting the scene and building the characters externally; through outside perceptions and public opinions, before we delve into a dark, vicious and sadistic interplay between two sisters whose relationship is far beyond saving, having deteriorated a long long time ago. Yet they live together and are each others only friends. So the scene is set for a chamber piece - set in Jane and Blanche Hudson's private mansion or more so a private prison or hell.

What gives this film an added dimension, is the parallels of the film and that of the film production and it's stars itself. Davis and Crawford's careers have had a long lasting rivalry and this film sees both of their screen comebacks. And what a comeback. Davis gives a completely self depreciating tour-de-force performance which is perfectly countered by Crawford's restrained and nuanced one.

Seven Psychopaths

The movie may not stay in your mind for too long after viewing, but for the almost-2hr running time, look forward to witty and smart dialogue, a clever script, and fun characters played hilariously by a superb cast with great chemistry. Notably this is slightly different to the usual self-referential, self-aware, self parody movies. There are a few layers of narrative (imaginations, variations of the same stories told by the characters, and the perceived truth) that on one level is completely un-related to each other, but on another level very cleverly and effectively merge into the one narrative. It begins well and whilst I was scared the ending will disappoint and taint the entire film - it also ends very well; humorously and with some added depth.


Yea it plays off on the genre, but it's just a bit of silliness which can be enjoyable if you are willing to go with it. The film probably wouldn't amount to much if it weren't for Johnny Depp, who is a perfect embodiment of '50s cool. It does evoke a nostalgia for the '50s though - greasers and square, Brando-white tees and leather jackets, Dean and Elvis and Cadillacs and switchblades. What a great era. Killer sound track too. But it's just a silly movie.

River's Edge
River's Edge(1987)

Watching this in 2012, at first it may come across as a deliberately exaggerated satire, but scarily it probably is a lot closer to the truth than expected. This isn't a film where you will invest in the characters or find some thrills and excitment, rather the characters are archetypes that serve as a catalyst for a thought provocative study on human nature and society, centring on a generation raised during the Cold War by hippies (who somewhere along the way became corporate execs fearing the A-bomb) and being bombarded with an excess of media (the first generation to be so). The results are quite scary and disturbingly accurate (it is based on a true story after all). Rightfully the film offers no solutions.

This is a solid indie film and in hindsight can be looked at as quintessentially 80s, well fitting the teen angst genre right from Rebel Without a Cause through all the John Hughes stuff to something more recent such as Mean Creek. Also it's Keanu's first major role before being typecast as a stoner or a sometimes good/sometimes bad action movie star. He's good in this one.

Carlito's Way

I really liked this movie the first few times I watched it as a teenager. Re-watching it recently, not as much... and I can't pin point why. For a gangster movie or a Pacino movie there are a lot better. Perhaps it tries to be a little too Scorsesian and it fails miserably at that. The story is really nothing new here - a reformed gangster trying to get out but, to paraphrase Michael Corleone himself, "just as he thought he was out, they pull him back in." There are really no variations or complexities to this plot line. On the drama side of the film, the biggest pleasure is probably seeing Sean Penn almost unrecognisable, brilliantly playing a character you really want to punch in the face.

What the movie does succeed in, however, is a handful of vintage De Palma long and carefully paced suspense sequences; such as the pool room sequence and the final chase sequence ending with a clever twist; the antithesis to a red herring. It is a pleasure to watch De Palma in his element, building tension so precisely through his signature obscure camera angles, long takes and voice overs that reveal the mechanics of Pacino's mind as he tries to predict every possible angle. However, whilst the voice over can be effective to build suspense in certain scenes, sometimes it come across too forceful and perhaps too convenient when revealing the emotional side of the story.

De Palma is a very important filmmaker, with a ability to masterfully create suspense quite organically and originally in his signature neo-Hitchcockian style, which no doubt has influenced many filmmakers to follow. However when viewing his films as a whole, they are much more limiting and the stories are not as effective. The drama in Carlito's Way for instance, is a little too simple and the characters are a little too 2 dimensional. Perhaps this movie would have worked better solely as a thriller - something like Snake Eyes.


Wow. Every time I watch this as I get older I see new meaning. This is a perfect movie. It's a perfect love story - possibly - no probably, the best. Yet it is so much more than a love story. It really captures the hopelessness and the absurdity of the period.
I never realised how well written it is. You can understand a character's soul through, really, just a handful of quotable phrases and iconic glances. There are two iconic heroes here - Victor Lazlo, yes - an admirable, hopeful, inspiring history-book hero fighting for a lost cause, but more interesting is Rick - the anti-hero, ridden with existential angst and masked in a veil of indifferent, he will walk away quietly into the night, alone, unnoticed and never remembered.


By Bond standards it's definitely one of the best; with a more personal plot line that is surprisingly Freudian and character driven. Not to mention the film places itself in a historical context that forces self critique (with the MI6 growing redundant and their methods becoming questionable). Daniel Craige (who's Bond is arguably the best and definitely my favorite) also portrays a much deeper, darker and complex Bond who is mirrored by and contrasted against Javier's similarly complex and Frudian Bond Villain. The action sequences drag a bit too long at times, but I suppose it is a Bond movie. Some action sequences - like the Shanghai assassination one - is actually quite stylised. I wished they had filmed the remainder of the action as uniquely as this one.

Thus by Bond standards this is definitely one of the best. Unfortunately I just did not like this as much as I wanted to. There are a lot of smart, complex, character based recent(ish) action thrillers (Dark Knight, Michael Mann's better films such as Heat or Collateral, The Town etc), and whilst on Bond standards Skyfall may be a revelation, by normal standards it really doesn't offer too much. At the end of the day an episode of 24 will say just as much. But to be fair Jack Baure has gotten 8 24hr long seasons to build his character, Bond has only gotten 23 feature films.


It's hard not to be influenced by the numerous reviews that unanimously conclude that Haneke has shifted towards something very tender, intimate, delicate, heartfelt and overwhelming with Amour. While these descriptions are definitely true, at Amour's core there is still the trademark menace and terror that runs throughout his films. From its opening sequence, there is a throbbing sadness and impending doom that lurks beneath the surface waiting to erupt. However, unlike Haneke's previous films, it is perhaps not the darkness within the human condition that is at question but rather the way characters are required to cope with the inherent cruelty of life itself. This is shot beautifully, and for a chamber piece there is a vibrancy to the dull colors which gives a particular dimension to the films style. The acting is uncompromising, and whilst one can expect something very touching from the characters - this is done very realistically without any added gloss or cliches one unfamiliar with Haneke may expect after reading the films synopsis.

Killer Joe
Killer Joe(2012)

While I still haven't made up my mind if this movie works as a whole, the tension in some scenes are masterfully built and erupts in a disturbingly violent yet darkly comic climax. All the acting is solid, particularly Matthew McConaughey (who has at last started to challenge himself again) is perfect here - bringing such menace and calm to the screen at the same time. Yet I found you cannot take this film too seriously and only if you don't, will you not be left thinking "what the hell did I just watch." Similar film The Killer Inside Me, which will probably leave audiences in the same state - that of disbelief, I found to be much more menacing, challenging and thought provokative.

Total Recall
Total Recall(2012)

The special effects are somewhat impressive and the story is interesting. However the script borders on terrible with bad dialogue that cues the plot along too obviously. While there's nothing wrong with the acting, the script does not give these 2 dimensional characters anything to work with, which makes the casting choices appear to be only concerned with marketing the movie. Even the story (which is based on Phillip K Dick's short story) which has a lot of potential for some interesting insights, fades into the background to action sequences that are on a whole not very suspenseful. Overall it's a bit of a yawn, but will pass the time if you want to see good looking people running around shooting each other whilst regurgitating bad dialogue like kids playing Cops and Robbers in a primary school playground.

Enter the Void (Soudain le vide)

I've never seen anything like this before. I wouldn't call this a film but rather an experience. If you are willing to scrap all preconceived expectations of watching a movie and open yourself for a new experience, then this will blow your mind. I found myself completely immersed and mesmerised in this seductive simulation of death (or life?). To quote a quote on the trailer it's "like nothing you've ever seen... so visually seductive it essentially flips the brain off switch for you." Couldn't be more correct. Whilst Irreversible was original, challenging and confronting this is something else. Praise to Gaspar Noe for pushing the boundaries of cinema.


This is an amazing film. Not being a lover of sports, surprisingly i don't mind sports movies or the underdog film. However this is something entirely different. Perhaps it's Sorkin's ability to turn stories about ordinary people into tragic character journeys of epic proportion; that of kings and wars that invariably change and mold the future as we know it. In this case it's our engagement with sports amidst a developing capitalist society. This is not terribly dissimilar to Social Network (also a Sorkin script), which provided profound insight into how new civilizations are built and how this inevitably changes the nature of human interaction. But what makes this an amazing film is that at it's core (which it never strays from), it is a heart breaking character struggle centering on a man who will forever change the nature of a society in such a way that will be overlooked by history; a history which opts rather to concentrate on more definitive changes (i.e. wars or revolutions).

Brad Pitt gives perhaps his most mature and convincing performance by completely embodying this subtly complex character. Jonah Hill should not go unmentioned either - showing he is actually capable of a serious role. The two actors surprisingly have great chemistry. Miller's direction will keep the audience engaged and he does this unpretentiously and modestly, allowing what I think the main credit to fall to Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin's script. Many people would be excited to see these three work together and the pay off definitely meets the high expectations.

After Lucia
After Lucia(2012)

This is harrowing and painfully unsettling. I watched the second half of this with a misanthropic sneer at the entire human race. The film is able to draw such a powerful response, not only because of the incredible acting by the two leads, but because the film takes its time to allow the audience to understand the characters turmoil. The film is perfectly shot and paced. There is no music to que emotions here, rather the camera often lingers and silence or ambiant sound forces us to enter the characters psyche making it almost impossible not to empathise with the the two leads. Whilst some say that the film is not believable, i thoroughly disagree - the human capacity for evil is always prevalent, and the film explores this genuinely. It is not suggested that anyone is good or evil, but rather everyone reacts to the given situation according to their own character, personality or history. The terrifying insight is, these are just ordinary people in typical situations.


Whilst there is a countless number of blockbusters regurgitated by Hollywood each year, every once in a while an original and thought provoking one, which equally manages to heighten the thrills and action, seeps through the cracks - often establishing the film as a classic (such as the Terminators, the original Matrix and the more recent Dark Knights). While it is unlikely that Looper will age into a classic, it is safe to say it does fall into the intelligent blockbuster category, one that will push writer-director Rian Johnson out of the indie filmmaker category and give him much larger budgets to work with.

Here Johnson creates an original and interesting filmic universe, which above all else is highly stylized by someone who is obviously an avid lover and intellect on Noir. Johnson's world is constructed by Noir's past - from the classic film noirs, to the French New Wave, Asian thrillers and more recent neo-noirs (from Blade Runner to Sin City). There is also the suggestion of Noir's roots in the Western. For instance the second part of Looper is perhaps more closely aligned to a Western- such as Shane - than a noir. Like Shane, Joseph Gordon Lewit's character - the lone and weary gunslinger - takes on the unnecessary burden of protector of a fatherless family.

Unfortunately, like Brothers Bloom, Looper falls short of its reach. Johnson's debut, Brick, was a masterpiece. Not only was it highly original, but the film was plotted, shot and paced so precisely that by its end, everything fell into it's right place. Still, while all the knots were tied, enough room was left to require the audience to analyse the film to death in attempt to understand all the plot's intricacies.

Whilst, by blockbuster standards Looper is a lot smarter and slicker than the majority of what is out there, unfortunately Johnson's low budget and simpler premised Brick was much more fulfilling. While Looper is more visually arresting, and whilst the plot progresses quite interestingly into something more interesting that what the trailer offered, knowing Johnson's potential as a writer-director you cant help but feel like it could have been just a little better or left you with something just a little more. Nonetheless, Johnson is a very interesting filmmaker and it will be intriguing to see what's next from him. With the freedom he will be allowed after Looper's success, hopefully he will continue to make films that interest him and hence us.

Men in Black III

As a child watching the first MIB, I was completely amazed and entertained - what a cool movie; from the buddy cop - unlikely partners- coupling, the special effects, an original premise and even a cool theme song. Unfortunately this second sequel is not only unnecessary but it is a complete waste of time. Nothing in this film will surprise or entertain and almost everything is predictable and.. well.. just so boring. This epitomises hollywood's knack to recycle and regurgitate for a quick and assured buck. It's almost like they dont even care for the audience, because they know we are stupid enough to still give this movie a chance based on the merit of the first one. The only positive to this film is Josh Brolin.

Take This Waltz

Not as emotionally draining as Blue Valentine or as light hearted as 500 Days of Summer, Take This Waltz finds the perfect middle ground for a bitter-sweet mediation into adult relationships, love and ageing.

I thoroughly liked this film, some of it's insights are spot-on and perfectly portrayed on screen. The characters and relationships between them, are always genuine and thankfully never cheapened for the sake of keeping audiences happy. Like life, there is a good and bad side to everything, and Polley does not hide one just to draw audience sympathies to particular characters or situations, rather we are left with the unfortunate - or unbearable - truth. There is a discontent here that Polley is able to explore both charmingly and tragically - a disconnect between a romanticised human need or longing for something better amidst a futile existence where everything gradually deteriorates. Visually this is cleverly depicted in a scene in the female swimming pool change rooms where Michelle Williams' young and firm body is strikingly contrasted to the naked, sagging and ageing bodies of the other women in her class.

Take this Waltz is beautifully shot in saturated colours, brilliantly acted by all the leads and told with such intimacy. Notably Michelle Williams is nothing short of amazing, with an ability to add subtle emotional complexities in creating a beautiful and flawed character. Seth Rogan is also surprisingly good, giving a uncharacteristic understated performance.

Robot & Frank

This film is really a lot of things and credit should go to first time director Jake Schreier for being able to balance several - very varied - themes and characters in such a delicate fashion. It's best to go into this film without knowing much about it, as the plot trajectory will constantly keep one interested, taking the story in surprisingly new directions to what was previously expected. In the end, it's a very thoughtful character study that remains true to it's characters. Frank Langella, who spends the majority of the film speaking to a robot, delivers such a powerful performances that it allows us to feel for the robot, not because of the robot himself, but by the way Langella's character reflects and refracts from it.

Room 237
Room 237(2013)

A great piece of documentary filmmaking. On one level it reveals an intellectual, obsessive and insane fan-based subculture that is still prevalent 3 decades after the release of The Shining. Room 237 details 5 very varied, sometimes - possibly - outrageous yet always fascinating and often, probably too coincidental to not be true, interpretations of the film. On another level this is not a documentary, it is a documentary film. What Rodney Ascher is interested in is experiential filmmaking. Rather than having a 'talking heads' documentary, his decision to compose the film only of cinematic imagery supplements the narration of the interviewees, creating an intriguing, haunting, funny and critical mood to the overall film, one that is true to The Shining.

The Imposter
The Imposter(2012)

How Layton approached this film was very rewarding. It begins as a thriller filled with mystery, somewhere along the line it becomes playful, a comedy perhaps, critiquing American Family and culture and ultimately the films protagonist, but it ends with something much more sinister which will have you thinking about the film long after watching it.


I watched this film alone at a theater in Vienna - what a perfect setting. As I walked to my hotel afterwards, it was as though the entire world was silent, and still, as though i was gliding through the opening scenes of destruction from the film. For days after watching this I felt completely miserable but void of feeling the misery, it was as though the film had explained a void that never existed. Destruction has never looked so beautiful. What an amazing film. Lars Von Trier really seems to come to grips with the darkness that plagues him, but unlike Anti Christ, ultimately he seems to find a kind of peace. But for most people it will be a terrifying one that they cant accept.

Holy Motors
Holy Motors(2012)

To attempt to piece together the meaning of the film, I would think will be a difficult task to most. But an intriguing one nonetheless. The masks we wear? the disconnect (or connect) between people? changing role in technology?
I read a quote about the film: "Is the film telling a story? No, its narrating a life. The story of a life? No, the experience of being alive." And for this Holly Motors is a brilliant success. Some of the imagery, clearly evoking cinema history, is mesmerisingly beautiful. Denis Lavant's performance is.. well to be honest no words good justify it.

Killing Them Softly

I had high expectations of Cronenberg's Cosmopolis but unfortunately I was ultimately disappointed. Killing Them Softly, which was also screened at Cannes this year, was however a pleasant surprise, as in many ways, it succeeds where Cosmopolis couldn't.

Similar to Cosmopolis, the film is made up of a series of scenes. The way Domnik builds his scenes proves that he is worthy of an A-list status. Perhaps it's the way he is able to build tension organically, and in some instances through mundane actions - similar to Breaking Bad, or perhaps it's the Tarantino-esque use of dialogue. Definitely excellent casting and acting have a lot to do with it. Similar to Tarantino or PT Anderson, Domink takes his time with the scenes, never rushing it, often creating a spectacle of the scene itself. At the end of each scene we never know where the film is heading, giving the film more excitement and mystery to it's audience. What is commendable, however, is that unlike Tarantino (in some instances at least), Dominik is able to build upon each scene to the next with more fluidity, which allows the film at its conclusion, to rise above being read solely as a Scorseseian crime epic of small time crooks, but also be seen as a vehicle to deliver a compelling argument about the state of modern capitalist society.

The film stands apart from just another genre exercise for its social commentaries, which is a reason why i initially compared it to Cosmopolis. Some critics are criticising Domnik for intruding scenes that are perfectly fine on their own, by hammering away at his point too heavily; the point being the collapse of Community in the place of greed and self interest; an entire America evolved out of just one greedy infamous street in New York City. However I believe that this is what prevents the film from just being another exercise into genre. Casino, The Godfather Trilogy or even the recent Breaking Bad have similar critiques of the capitalist structure, but these criticism are more subtly layered into the narrative of the film. Domnik's approach is a refreshing change and perhaps more hard hitting, allowing the film not to just be entertainment, but an artistic expression that is more closely aligned to films such as Cosmopolis.

Whilst Cosmopolis, if advertised genuinely, would appeal only to art-house audiences, Killing Them Softly should appeal to both art-house and mainstream audiences favouring crime dramas. Perhaps the shortcoming is that towards the end of the film, the diagetic narrative looses momentum. There is no traditionally climactic or rewarding ending here, which wouldn't have been wrong to expect. Thus audiences of the mainstream will leave the film with a sense of an anti-climax.
However, if audiences are willing to read the film for it's social commentary, then the ending will perfectly tie the whole film together, showing that this is in fact what the film is actually about.