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

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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

BLOOD FATHER

2016; directed by Jean-Fran├žois Richet; adapted by Andrea Berloff and Peter Craig; 88 mins

In my new capacity as a broadcasting film critic, I had to catch up with everything that was on at the cinemas. Two films that were out were Clint Eastwood’s Sully and Blood Father. One is a serious, Oscar contending biopic about an average American hero’s triumph over adversity with a multiple-Academy-Award-winning team behind it and the other is a down and dirty, scuzzy, B-movie action thriller whose only selling point is it’s disgraced leading man. One of them was smart, witty, well made, moving and engaging. It wasn’t Sully. Continue reading

DJANGO KILL… IF YOU LIVE, SHOOT!

1967; directed by Giulio Questi; written by Franco Arcalli, Benedetto Benedetti and Giulio Questi; 117 mins

Well, first things first – it’s not a Django movie. The title was tacked on after the success of Sergio Corbucci’s smash hit original in the hopes that it would soak up some of that audience. What it is is a bizarre, vicious tale about one-time gang member, The Stranger who, after helping to steal gold from Union troops, is betrayed by leader Oaks and left for dead. Mysteriously, he survives and is rescued by a couple of Native Americans whilst his executioners are themselves summarily executed when they enter a weird town populated by fucked up yokels! Once on his feet, The Stranger makes his way to the town and finds himself caught between the warring factions of priest (Hagerman), bar owner (Templer) and gang boss (Sorrow) all vying for the stolen gold. Continue reading

’71

2014; directed by Yann Demange; written by Gregory Burke; 95 mins

An excellent mid-point between Alan Clarke’s Elephant, Paul Greengrass’ Bloody Sunday and John Carpenter’s Escape From New York, ’71 is a film that makes a strong case against the argument that genre films cannot or should not tackle tragic subjects. Set in Belfast during The Troubles, a young squaddie, Gary Hook, is left behind enemy lines when a brutal house inspection sparks a riot in the streets. Abandoned by his unit, he has no choice but to sneak his way back to the barracks in the dead of night, amidst rioting, plotting and suburban nightlife. Fully aware that the IRA are after him but unaware that some of the Brits are too… Continue reading

JASON BOURNE

2016; directed by Paul Greengrass; adapted by Paul Greengrass and Christopher Rouse; 123 mins

Look at Matt Damon‘s face in this movie and see how far he has come as a movie star and as a screen presence since The Bourne Identity. In Identity, he is a blank face, totally unaware of his past and so his casting was perfect, helped by the fresh face Damon had back then when he was still very much seen as a pretty-boy rather than an actor. Now, 14 years have past, we look at Jason Bourne and he has weight on his shoulders, not just due to his being built like brick shithouse but because of the traumas we have seen and those we haven’t. Continue reading