- Bully (2011), Lee Hirsch – An intense and powerful cautionary tale. I don’t have kids, but I think this is a must see. Especially if your kid is an alpha male bullying prick. Or just as importantly, if your kid just does not realise the power of their words. A very well made and put together doco with an important message.
- Community Season 2 (2010), Dan Harmon – As good as, if not better than season 1. There is more comedic depth to the relationships now – the increasing exclusion of Chevy Chase’s Pierce, the continuing love affair of Troy and Abed and the ongoing will they, won’t they between Winger and most of the ladies on the show. A cameo by Betty White and lots of screen time for Ken Jeong’s Chang all add to the fun. As clever and funny as television gets, for me at least.
- Total Recall (2012), Len Wiseman – This is nothing special, but I mainly enjoyed it. I like the two contrasting worlds which were created. The grimness of the colony vs the overlording United Federation of Britain. There were a few very cool nods to the original, the rebooted security screening scene in particular. But like so many other films, it fades badly in the second half. Ok enough, but don’t rush out to catch it.
- The Rum Diary (2011), Bruce Robinson – Captures much of the spirit of Hunter S. Thompson’s book and is able to trim away characters without ruining the narrative. Johnny Depp is very good, not giving us the caricature of himself that he has churned out all too often lately. As a study of a struggling writer, the film is actually more successful than the book. Quite funny at times, but it is disappointing that toward the end it gains a very sentimental edge which is definitely not in the novel. A very weird final 15 minutes doesn’t stop this being a fun film with a distinctive attitude.
- Moonrise Kingdom (2012), Wes Anderson – A very Wes Andersony film from Wes Anderson. The man has shtick and it is very enjoyable here. This is a light story of first love and the battles it faces, driven by very good performances. The young leads make an extremely young love feel real, tangible & a little dangerous, just like the real thing. Ed Norton & Bruce Willis are the pick of the adult performances. The pastiche style does mean that the film is, intentionally I think, a little shallow. Their could be more heart here.
- The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2012), John Madden – A bunch of pensioners seek to escape the dreariness of old age in Britain by emigrating to India. A stellar cast with Judy Dench, Tom Wilkinson and Bill Nighy being the best out of an incredibly good lot. So much better than I was expecting. A couple of really interesting characters and turns out to be quite a surprising film. I still find Dev Patel an annoying presence, but even he grew on me as this went along. A really enjoyable look at the intersection of two cultures.
- Arriety (2010) Hiromasa Yonebayashi – This Studio Ghibli film looks simply amazing. So much effort and care has gone into the miniature world that the tiny people populate and it is fantastic to see our regular world through totally different eyes. There is a delightfully languid pace in comparison to Western animated films and Arriety is a really cool, adventurous heroine. My only slight criticism is that it does pander to some Disney-esque tastes late in the piece. But overall, an awesome effort.
- Looper (2012) Rian Johnson – A very good film. Joseph Gordon-Levitt playing a younger version of Bruce Willis turns out as awesome as that sounds. The design of the whole thing is brilliant, it is an imaginative juxtaposition of old and new – Kansas farmhouses side by side with hover bikes. Unlike so many time travel flicks, the simple core story is well controlled. Thought the ramifications of it all due make your brain hurt a bit eventually. It also veers a little too much into The Shining territory toward the end, but an utterly brilliant conclusion ensures it ends on a high note.
Not Worth Watching:
- Love (2011), William Eubank – The preview for this came out of nowhere and blew me away. But after an awesome, Civil War set start, it peters out. Much of the narrative concerns a man lost in space with no contact with the outside work for 6 years. Which is apt because that’s how interminable this film is. Nothing happens. Some will try to convince you that it is making points about connection, isolation and the cyclical nature of history. But no one of this is there, cause nothing happens.
- Riders of Destiny (1933), Robert N. Bradbury – This is a real B Western. Mainly just cause the acting in it is truly abysmal. Already a little of Wayne’s aura is shining through, but very little else is worth remembering. Although the plot involving water rights is somewhat amusing given the current political debate here in Australia about exactly the same thing. There is a memorable chase scene involving a horse drawn water tanker too. But the concerning disregard for animal welfare of the horses in the film and the fact it is just so wooden throughout make this one you can do without. Although if not, here it is:
If you only have time to watch one Bully
Avoid at all costs Love
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