COP CAR

2015; directed by Jon Watts; written by Christopher Ford and Jon Watts; 84 mins

If there is a promising trend in Hollywood at all right now, it’s their newfound habit of picking up indie directors to do blockbuster fare. Much as I am not the greatest fan of superhero movies, it has to be said, they started it and other studios have followed suit. Firstly, Jon Favreau and Kenneth Branagh got picked up by Marvel to do Iron Man and Thor respectively and then, this year, Jordan Vogt-Roberts graduated from teen escapism The Kings of Summer to franchise behemoth Kong: Skull Island. Continue reading

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BLACKHAT

2015; directed by Michael Mann; written by Morgan Davis Foehl; 133 mins

He’s been off the boil for a while and I need this to be good! Is it Terry Gilliam? Is it Oliver Stone? No, it’s Michael Mann: director of some great movies back in the day and rubbish ones recently. This bombed, critically and financially but for the most part… I liked it! Continue reading

SLEEPING DOGS

1977; directed by Roger Donaldson; adapted by Arthur Baysting and Ian Mune; 107 mins

Sam Neill on an island! We’ve been here before, haven’t we? Here is the movie that kicked started the entire New Zealand industry and the first to open in the US. It’s a hugely important movie and if you’re a film critic living in the country and you haven’t seen this one: that’s a crime! I have now atoned and watched and am happy to report that it’s really good! Continue reading

CARLOS

2010; directed by Olivier Assayas; adapted by Olivier Assayas, Dan Franck and Daniel Leconte; 339 mins

“The man who hijacked the world”

In a recent interview, the filmmaker and critic Alex Cox complained that critics have become “hucksters”, touting and selling films to audiences rather than being honest about a film. I agree with him up to a point but I do think that there is a slight element of whore-ishness that enters into it when you really love a film but you know it’s a tough sell. This is definitely the case with Carlos, which is one of my absolute favourite films but bear in mind that whilst – Yes! – I am selling this movie to you, I honestly love it to bits and I want to share it because it’s such an exciting movie! Continue reading

FREE FIRE

2016; directed by Ben Wheatley; written by Amy Jump and Ben Wheatley; 86 mins

So, we didn’t see this one in NZ cinemas because apparently no one would want to see a bunch of stars in a slam bang, feature-length action exploitation flick, presented by Martin Scorsese. No one. You couldn’t sell that! Much like Kiwi distributors didn’t bother selling Wheatley’s previous film, High-Rise, a big dystopian sci-fi starring Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller, Elisabeth Moss and Luke Evans and they didn’t so the same with Midnight Special, American Honey, Inherent Vice and countless other top-notch US and UK, director-led genre movies (to say nothing of the scores of foreign language films that don’t even get a look-in) and I am fucking sick of this! Continue reading

NZIFF ’17/09: BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL

2017; directed by Takashi Miike; adapted by Tetsuya Oishi; 140 mins

The 100th film directed by Takashi Miike and bloody hell what a way to celebrate! A ferocious adaptation of the manga series by Hiraoki Samura with guts and greatness to spare! When a movie reminds you of Kurosawa and then Sergio Leone, you know you’re onto a good thing and bearing in mind that I’d reviewed three movies before this and was fairly shagged by the time it came to watch, I was gripped from minute one! Continue reading

DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES

2014; directed by Matt Reeves; adapted by Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver; 124 mins

An ape on horseback brandishing a machine gun has got to be one of the most striking images ever projected onto a cinema screen. In 1968, Franklin J. Schaffner presented us with a crash-zoom of said image and 46 years later, the effect remains undiminished. This, in part, is as much down to Matt Reeves‘ fastidiously intelligent approach to making us understand the anger of the apes as it is the seamless motion-capture performances by Andy Serkis, Toby Kebbell, [et al] exuding a real sense of physical threat. Is this the best of all the apes films? I think it has a very strong case to put forward because, whilst not without it’s flaws, it is the film that puts the most in and gives the most back. Continue reading