|Director: West, Traucki, Gens, Wheatley Starring: Numerous Run-time: 123 mins|
Following from the success of V/H/S, The ABC's of Death is another horror anthology. The gimmick this time being that the 26 shorts all represent a different letter of the alphabet. With a clash of directors, styles and languages, this experiment disappoints more than it pleases. Of the 26 shorts, there are only 5 or 6 worth your time. The most impressive shorts (in my opinion) come from the warped minds of Xavier Gens (Frontiers) and Ben Wheatley (Sightseers). However, some of the shorts are complete nonsense, for example F stands for Fart and it features Japanese school-girls literally farting to death... I'd advise you don't waste your time or just fast-forward through this film.
|Director: Strickland Starring: Toby Jones Run-time: 92 mins|
Wow, what a disappointment this film was. I studied Giallo's back in college, so I thought I knew what to expect from Berberian Sound Studio. I found the film to be mostly pointless and ambiguous to the extent of being pretentious. The film is a chore to watch with long drawn-out sequences and dull conversations. It's implied that Toby Jones' character is going crazy but the script is so under-developed that by the time he has a melt-down, you'll probably have given up. I'm just really not sure what director Peter Strickland wanted me to take from this film.
|Director: Maybury Starring: Brody, Knightley, Craig Run-time: 103 mins|
The Jacket is another messy film that looked like it had potential on paper. Adrien Brody plays a Gulf War veteran who finds himself wrongly incarcerated in an insane asylum. Whilst there he starts to develop visions that prophesize the future. Two problems with this film: 1) it felt like a collage of various different films like Stay, The Butterfly Effect and Jacob's Ladder and 2) Keira Knightley showcases the most cringe-worthy American accent I've ever heard. One pleasant surprise is Daniel Craig's performance, which is unrecognisable from his usual tough-guy roles, but he can't save the film.
|Director: Zemeckis Starring: Washington, Cheadle Run-time: 138 mins|
There's really only two reasons to see Flight; Denzel Washington's performance as alcoholic pilot, Whip Whitaker and the scarily realistic 10-minute segment of the plane crashing. After the crash, the film settles into mundane melodrama as Whitaker struggles with his broken marriage and his alcoholism. Flight is one of those Oscar-bait films, centred around one strong performance by a lead and dealing with multiple issues, in this case alcoholism and religion. To be honest, I'm not sure it was a story worth telling. At the very least, it's twenty minutes too long. I'm glad Zemeckis has returned to live-action film-making but he needs a more engaging script to work from.
|Director: Spielberg Starring: Day-Lewis, Field, Lee-Jone Run-time: 150 mins|
Speaking of Oscar-bait, here we have a film that ticks a lot of Academy boxes. Celebration of America? Check. Biographical? Check. Steven Spielberg? Check. John Williams score? Check. Lincoln really isn't my type of film but I tried my hardest to stay interested. I found the storyline to be drab and a real test of patience. I also feel like Spielberg made this film far too safe. If you're looking to gain an insight into slavery or the Civil War, you won't find it here. Luckily Spielberg is saved by wonderful performances. Much has been said about Daniel Day-Lewis but it was Tommy Lee Jones' performance that really stuck with me.
|Director: Toland Krieger Starring: Jones, Samberg, Roberts Run-time: 92 mins|
Think that Andy Samberg can't act? Think he's just an idiot man-child? Maybe Celeste and Jesse Forever will change your perspective. In this dramedy (written by Rashida Jones) a recently-divorced couple try to maintain their friendship whilst getting back into the dating game. Whilst this film doesn't turn up any tree's, it is well-written with a few well-placed laughs. It's almost like Blue Valentine but with a little wit and immaturity. Something felt missing from the film though, like a truly memorable scene or moment to really define it. As it is, Celeste and Jesse Forever is a sweet, interesting take on a rom-com but it's no classic.
|Director: Dayton/Faris Starring: Dano, Kazan Run-time: 104 mins|
I've been wanting to watch Ruby Sparks for quite some time now after missing out during its limited cinema run. With so much expectation on my part, it still didn't disappoint. Like a blend between Stranger Than Fiction and John Hughes' kooky 80's flick Weird Science, Ruby Sparks explores what happens when our reality is blended with our dreams. Paul Dano is fantastic as a one-hit wonder author struggling with writer's block. However the real star is Zoe Kazan who plays his beautiful creation - Ruby (she also wrote the script). From the director duo of Little Miss Sunshine, Ruby Sparks is funny, romantic, intriguing and at times dark. I highly recommend it.
|Director: S. Coppola Starring: Murray, Johansson, Farris Run-time: 101 mins|
Lost In Translation, how has it taken me this long to see you? I loved everything about this film. Placing a grouchy Bill Murray in the heart of a bustling Japan is genius. I wish I'd had the idea first. Scarlett Johansson is another welcome member of the cast. I've never seen her look so beautiful. I've tried to watch several Sofia Coppola films (Somewhere, Virgin Suicides) and I never really 'got' them (or maybe there was nothing to get?) However, everything about Lost In Translation felt so perfect, so seamless. The cinematography, performances, eclectic j-pop soundtrack and atmosphere all combine to create a truly beautiful film. I'm not sure Sofia can ever top this.