Monthly Archives: January 2014

Review: Out Of The Furnace (2013)

Film Title: Out of the Furnace
Director: Scott Cooper.

Cast: Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson, Zoe Saldana, Forest Whitaker, Willem Dafoe.

Certificate: 15.

With only 2009’s CRAZY HEART to his name, Scott Cooper’s OUT OF THE FURNACE struggles to disguise its relatively green writer-director. What could have been an intelligent, tense revenge thriller unfortunately soon unravels as a redneck version of TAKEN; a paint by numbers and completely unremarkable affair that signposts any shock tactics from a mile off. However, with Ridley Scott and Leonardo DiCaprio (originally set to direct and star) onboard as producers, it’s hardly surprising it attracted such impressive talent.

After a tragic car accident puts Russell Baze (Christian Bale) behind bars, he returns to a place where everything is fundamentally the same, but inescapably different. His younger, Iraq-serving brother Rodney (Casey Affleck) seeks solace in physical bouts, while girlfriend Lena (Zoe Saldana) is far more standoffish than hoped. But Rodney’s addiction to the boxing ring is more than just a hobby as he finds himself sucked into a dangerous world of underground fighting, headed by the nefarious Harlan DeGroat (Woody Harrelson). When little bro mysteriously goes missing and local police chief Wesley (Forest Whitaker) is slow to act, Russell decides to take matters into his own hands. Continue reading

Not Quite A Haiku Review: Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

inside-llewyn-davis-w724Thanks to Joel and Ethan,
I just went inside actual Llewyn Davis.
His name needs another syllable.

Oscar has an impressive voice.
He is nicer to Mulligan this time.
She actually made me laugh.

Llewyn is really quite sad.
Jake Johnson must be his older brother.
He hitchhikes far too much.

Adam Driver rocks my world.
Garrett and Goodman are an unnecessary distraction.
Timberlake has a good beard.

LOVE the record cover poses.
Please Mr. Kennedy is my new jam.
I must have that cat.

VERDICT: 4/5

Review: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014)

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Director: Kenneth Branagh.

Starring: Chris Pine, Keira Knightley, Kenneth Branagh, Kevin Costner.

Running Time: 105 minutes.

Certificate: 12A.

Synopsis: Jack Ryan (Chris Pine), a young C.I.A. analyst, finds himself uncovering a potential terrorist attack whilst investigating a Russian plot to crash the American economy.

With nearly as many incarnations as Bond, SHADOW RECRUIT marks Jack Ryan’s fifth screen outing. But where Ian Fleming’s smooth operator works in a very knowing, tongue in cheek world, Kenneth Branagh has managed to sap any sense of fun from proceedings, delivering a film that rarely rises above a jumble of BOURNE-pinching boredom.

Introduced to Jack at University, the events of 9/11 spur him on to join the Marines. After saving two of his comrades in Afghanistan and coming to the attention of Thomas Harper (Kevin Costner purely there to push the story forward), this exemplary serviceman finds himself on a fast track to the C.I.A. Yes, this is all very impressive (well done, Jack), but it soon becomes apparent that this is an origin story without spark or originality. Continue reading

Not Quite A Haiku Review: The Wolf Of Wall Street (2013)

WolfOfWallStreet_CourtesyParamountPicturse_WEB
Leonardo DiCaprio loves the crack.
But it’s ok because it’s only pretend.
He becomes Arnie Grape again.

Twice Oscar nominated Jonah Hill.
He wanks over former Aussie soap stars.
The Academy like that shit.

Matthew McConaughey is the man.
His money chant won’t leave your head.
Mark Hanna definitely needs bongos.

HOW IS MARGOT ROBBIE 23?!
She definitely makes me question my sexuality.
Her accents ain’t too shabby.

Disregard your moral compass, y’all.
This won’t make you desperate for drugs.
Just don’t throw any dwarves.

VERDICT: 5/5

Review: 12 Years A Slave (2013)

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Director: Steve McQueen.

Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong’o, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Adepero Oduye, Brad Pitt, Garret Dillahunt, Sarah Paulson, Alfre Woodard, Paul Giamatti.

Running Time: 134 minutes.

Certificate: 15.

Synopsis: Based on the true story of Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free Black man who was captured and sold into slavery. His struggle to keep his identity and stay alive are made even more difficult when he finds himself bought by slaveowner Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender).

Following on from haunting, visceral Fassbender machines, HUNGER and SHAME, Steve McQueen’s latest, incredibly raw triumph grabs you by the scruff of the neck and demands your heart and soul. 2013 delivered two very different tales of Black oppression courtesy of Tarantino and Spielberg, but this nigh-on flawless retelling of Solomon Northup’s plight is the one to beat in 2014.

Finding art in the smallest of things, McQueen’s proclivity to linger where others would call cut fascinates and enchants – notably in an incredibly tense scene that finds Solomon’s life hanging in the balance whilst others go about their daily tasks. Cinematographer Sean Bobbitt once again melts into the director’s vision, creating numerous iconic moments from the spraying of fresh blood at the hand of Edwin Epps’ whip to a journey following Solomon through the woods. Malickian interludes serve to measure the years passed, but refrain from self-indulgence, instead letting us appreciate minor details and transforming 12 YEARS A SLAVE into a transcendent, necessitated rewatch. Continue reading

Review: American Hustle (2013)

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Director: David O. Russell.

Starring: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremy Renner, Louis C.K., Jack Huston, Michael Pena.

Certificate: 15.

Running Time: 138 minutes.

Synopsis: Successful conman Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) and his partner Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) find themselves forced to work amongst the Jersey mafia by FBI agent, Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper).

Corrupt politicians, sleazy American nightclubs and the threat of the mob may be far from novel, but David O. Russell’s AMERICAN HUSTLE feels extremely apt and relatable in a time of growing political distrust. Handled ever so coolly by the director and his stellar cast, every line and action is meticulously placed, right down to the very precise positioning of Irving’s glued-on hairpiece.

In a time where the hair was high and the necklines significantly lower, the audience are immediately intoxicated by the 1970s hairspray and rich mahogany. Elton John, David Bowie and The Bee Gees may punctuate the severity of the situations our main trio find themselves in, but amidst its slick, neon skylines, AMERICAN HUSTLE means business. Continue reading

What I’m Watching – January 2014

This list only includes films I watched for the first time this month. My most recent viewing is the top entry.

The Croods (Dir: Kirk DeMicco, Chris Sanders, 2013) **

Inside Llewyn Davis (Dir: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, 2013) ****

The Wolf Of Wall Street (Dir: Martin Scorsese, 2013) *****

Only Lovers Left Alive (Dir: Jim Jarmusch, 2013) ****

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (Dir: Kenneth Branagh, 2014) **

Out Of The Furnace (Dir: Scott Cooper, 2013) ***

Dallas Buyers Club (Dir: Jean-Marc Vallée, 2013) ****

12 Years A Slave (Dir: Steve McQueen, 2013) *****

American Hustle (Dir: David O. Russell, 2013) *****

The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty (Dir: Ben Stiller, 2013) *****

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (Dir: Adam McKay, 2013) ***