- A Bug’s Life (1998), John Lasseter & Andrew Stanton – Feels like sort of a forgotten Pixar film. Yet another example of how damn clever their scripts are. In terms of world-building, this is one of their stronger films. Detail of the miniature world around and below us. Storywise, despite being original material, it sets up a very old fashioned adventure story vibe. Quite a funny film too, with the silly band of circus bugs running rampant. It is a level below the very best of Pixar, too saccharine in comparison, especially through the second half. But good Pixar is still great animation filmmaking.
- In Order of Disappearance (2014), Hans Petter Moland – Seriously, where is all the hype for this awesome film. A clever, genre/B-movie revenge script. Something so cool and simplistic as Stellan Skarsgard’s character moves from minion to minion to find out who killed his son. Bashing the snot out of one, to get the name of the next. The soundtrack is tops too, perfectly complimenting and elevating what is onscreen. The occasional silly moment is well and truly overwhelmed by one of the best genre films I’ve seen in a while. Some violent, well made and stylish shit.
- Chappie (2015), Neil Blomkamp – Freaking loved it. Found it utterly hilarious and the action sequences are excellent. So often robot action is impossible to follow. But Blomkamp nailed it. I’ve never felt an emotional connection with a robot character like I did with Chappie. Thematically and symbolically, there is so much to pull apart here, from the notions around AI to the invocation of religion. Can’t help feel that the presence of Die Antwoord turned a lot of people off. But for me, they added a uniqueness and definite authenticity. I think this is such a rich film when it’s being dismissed as the opposite.
- I Love You Phillip Morris (2009), Glenn Ficara & John Requa – Jim Carrey is such a talented guy when the material isn’t utter shite. This is a really stylish and distinctive film. At times that style’s a little overwrought, but only rarely. In the end it’s a strange mix which is a exceptionally dark comedy that’s light in filmmaking tone. Deals with suicide, homosexuality and gay sex in a frank and thoughtful way. There’s a lot of shading to the moral black and white to the film too. Ewan McGregor is good in this, but Carrey is the real star. It’s a pretty complex character study in the end and that succeeds in a major part due to Carrey’s timing, of both the comedic and dramatic varieties.
- Nas: Time is Illmatic (2014), One9 – Nas’s album is a true hip-hop classic and this film breaks down in great detail what led to it. The film is the history lesson of an album that is an unsurpassed portrait of the streets. So great to see Nas, precocious talent and very deep thinking & perceptive dude, telling these stories in his own words. This is a much watch for any fan of hip-hop. My only slight criticism is that it could have broken down the album itself a little more. Part of that is the laudable desire to not simply tell a ‘doco 101’ type story. And as a background document, it’s more than thorough.
- Stephen Fry: Today’s Russia a Literary Landscape (2014), Sarah Wallis & Paul Mitchell – Fry has gotten to the point where anything that interests him in the slightest, he can get a show made about it, no matter how niche. And this, focusing on contemporary Russian authors, is pretty niche. But really, Fry is little more than a figurehead for this hour long film. It’s the characters of the authors that hold sway, weaving in some great stories and illuminating what are some somewhat hidden pieces of Russian literature. If nothing else, it will give you some cool books to track down, though there is little broad appeal here.
Not Worth Watching:
- Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014), Matthew Vaughn – Well the one thing I was not expecting was for this to be so exceedingly boring. Can see the Kick Ass (2010) vibe and sensibility that Vaughn is trying to bring to the spy genre. But this film does not actually function as a spy film, and it’s lacking the wit and kineticism that made his earlier film such a delight. There’s also no tension, and for me a majority of the comedic sensibility fails. Samual L. Jackson’s lisping villain sums that up well. Underlying story is so neglected that even if all the loving parody trimmings landed (which they don’t) this still would not satisfy.
If you only have time to watch one In Order of Disappearance
Avoid at all costs Kingsman: The Secret Service