Tag Archives: Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Worth Watching June 2013

A little late with the Worth Watching roundup for June thanks to The House of Caine kicking things off here on the blog for the month. Not the busiest month of viewings, but some good stuff and a contender for my least favourite of the year. Take a read and share your thoughts.

Worth Watching:

  •  The Great Gatsby (2013), Baz Luhrmann – Just because the visuals on display here are so incredible, doesn’t mean this film is all style over substance as many have claimed. Indeed the film brings to life the disillusionment and vapidity of life better than the book did for me. Awesomely acted, I thought all four leads were excellent and I was also a big fan of the pretty divisive soundtrack.


  • Premium Rush (2012), David Koepp – This is perfect Saturday night with a beer fodder. I had a lot of fun with this film. I mean how can you go wrong with Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a bike messenger and Michael Shannon as the bad guy. He is soo delightfully Michael Shannony in this film. It does some quite interesting things visually and also has some really fun bike versus car chase sequences. I loved this film.
  • Tabu (2012), Miguel Gomes – Ambitious (perhaps even pretentious) but unfortunately not as successful as I would have hoped. It is too slow, especially the first half, which is essentially an hour long prologue for the incredible love story of the second half. A tale of adultery in mid 20th century colonial Africa. This second half is wondrous, with incredible acting (with no dialogue!) and lovingly brought to life in 4:3 black and white.
  • Weeds Season 1 (2005), Jenji Kohan – It takes a little while to settle on a tone, but when it does, this is really original stuff. Mary Louise Parker is utterly fantastic. Her character is a really bloody good one and has such a good arc as the season progresses. The whole thing feels really authentic. Parker’s character in particular does not always have her shit together which is refreshing. 

Not Worth Watching:

  • After Earth (2013), M. Night Shyamalan – What an utter toilet of a movie. Will Smith’s kid has the most annoying presence on screen. As for Will, his laconic screen charm has disappeared. This is a film that is mind numbingly stupid and at times so cliché it is literally laughable. Arouses no emotion or feeling, even when straining incredibly hard to do so. Doesn’t even look particularly good.

after earth poster

  • World War Z (2013), Marc Foster – Whilst this has some upsides, I was disappointed. The early action sequences are just shaky cam – if you want to convey highly kinetic danger, you need to do it more intelligently than that. The globe-hopping structure, clearly yearning for the book, feels half cocked. Adventure film-lite if you will. Plus the whole conclusion is a let down, leaves you feeling pretty hollow. Despite a reasonable running time and a couple of good performances, this really dragged for me.

If you only have time to watch one The Great Gatsby

Avoid at all costs After Earth

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Worth Watching March 2013

Here is the round up of all the films that I did not feature in depth elsewhere on the site for the month of March. A couple of really fantastic older films, perhaps strangely not on the 1001, managed to outweigh the sour taste of some of the newer entries on this list. Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Worth Watching:

  •  The Indian in the Cupboard (1995), Frank Oz – I have vague recollections of my old man taking me to see this when I was a kid. And re-watching it now, I see why I loved it back then. Tis really creatively shot and put together, with some noticeably fantastic sound design. Not to mention Richard Jenkins! (No, I can absolutely not review a movie he features in without mentioning him). The film actually has some really interesting themes for kids to see, mixing in a little darkness and commentary about Native Americans on film at times. This is a really great fantasy tale grounded in the reality of family life. I recommend it highly.
  • The Dish (2000), Rob Stich – Sam Neil is an utter dude, such a great actor. This gentle Australian comedy masterfully creates a sense of time and place. It chronicles the moon landing and the pivotal role the small Aussie town of Parkes played in it. Some wonderful characters to root for and a rich vein of very Australian humour make it worth your time.
  • Holy Grail: The T206 Honus Wagner (2013), Colin Barnacle and Nick Barnacle – I can’t remember on whose site I first saw this, so thanks for the tip whoever you are. A cracking short which illuminates baseball history through discussion of baseball cards, including the titular holy grail. Crams a lot of interesting stuff into the short time: fraud, the philosophy of trading cards and shady business dealings. 
  • Predator (1987), John McTiernan – I can’t believe I have left it so long to see this film. A great sense of humour and a great cast. I’m talking Arnie in cigar chomping mode, Apollo Creed and Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura. Vintage 80s ham, yet it really nails the sci-fi by way of straight war film feel. A really awesomely stylish and violent action film that I consider a classic.


  • A Good Day to Die Hard (2013), John Moore – As far as action flicks go, this one is old skool and very loud. It is also just action packed enough to overcome a story that is both a bit flat and a bit nonsensical at times. The big set pieces, especially an extended car and truck chase early on, are what stand out here.
  • Cleopatra Jones (1973), Jack Starrett – A cracking entry into the blaxploitation subgenre. Tamara Dobson is amazing as the central, titular spy. Cleopatra is a great, karate skilled spy who answers to no one. Really cool to see a film where both the hero and villain are female. A killer car chase and a convincing exploration of the racial politics of the time round out a satisfying film.
The awesome Tamara Dobson in action

The awesome Tamara Dobson in action

  • Oz the Great and Powerful (2013), Sam Raimi – It’s not as epic as it could be and Franco is all hammy and not his usual self. But this is really quite a good film. Michelle Williams gives a wonderfully nice performance and a talking monkey played by Zach Braff which I thought would blow is a really fun character. The film looks incredible too, with the 3D being really vibrant and popping off the screen.
  • Cloud Atlas (2012), Tom Tykwer, Lana Wachowski and Andy Wachowski – Epic in length, this actually feels longer than its 3 hour running time. But the ending somehow manages to tie all the strands of this tale together exhilaratingly. In fact the entire film somehow manages to be not at all difficult to follow, a testament to the script by the three directors. The boldest choices here – separate directors and actors in multiple roles (across multiple genders and races) – pay off in spades.  

Not Worth Watching:

  • G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009), Stephen Sommers – Ugh. What an incredibly loud and stupid film. The whole thing has a horrid CGI look to it. The actors here are either really terrible, or slumming it for some reason (Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Brendan Fraser lead the latter brigade). One of the crappier films ever made.
The craptacular team of Joes

The craptacular team of Joes

  • Sarah Palin: You Betcha! (2011), Nick Broomfield and Joan Churchill – To be clear, Sarah Palin is an idiot. But this film is pervaded by a snide, mockingness that I really don’t like in my docos. I am not really sure what Nick Broomfield is aiming for in this. He inserts himself in the film and just comes off as amateurish. Is that what he was going for? The film has no legitimacy, with numerous assertions made but not backed up in any way. More a succession of personal attacks on Palin.
  • The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (2013), Don Scardino – There is very little incredible about this film which is decidedly average at almost every turn. The lone exception is Jim Carrey’s hilarious extreme magician. But is it too much to ask for a hollywood comedy that is not uber sexist. I don’t understand what Olivia Wilde and especially Gillian Jacobs are doing here. And I have no time for the any attempt at having the word rapist used in a comedic context.   

If you only have time to watch one Predator

Avoid at all costs G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

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Worth Watching January 2013

Here we go with my monthly round-up of films not featured in depth elsewhere on the blog. This feature will change and become smaller over the coming months as I am starting to write long reviews of more and more films that I see. However, I am sure I will never have the time nor desire to write in detail about every film I see, so expect it to stick around in some form.

Worth Watching:

  •  The Raid: Redemption (2011), Gareth Evans – This is definitely one of the better action films of recent years. Deliciously violent and stylish. I wouldn’t say it is particularly innovative, but it just executes all of the elements in an action film really bloody well. The fight scenes are really slickly shot, with a dynamic camera showing absolutely everything. One of the coolest films of 2012.
  • Wreck it Ralph (2012), Rich Moore – This was probably the best animated film of last year. A really fun computer game world has been invented, with the engaging characters to back it up. Sarah Silverman voices the main female character who is a wonderfully empowered female role model, the kind of which is all too rare. The relationship between her and Ralph forms the core of the film, which explores some really weighty themes whilst striking a balance between not being too dark and not too frivolous.


  • Black Water (2007), Andrew Traucki & David Nerlich – This is a very tense, sharp Australian creature feature rocking a killer crocodile. It is nicely shot and well paced. A cleverly utilised soundtrack helps with the latter. You don’t get too bored in between the action high points. An interesting dynamic between the three characters stuck up a tree adds greatly to the narrative which is slight. Some of what happens is quite confronting whilst the last third features some nice twists, without being too over the top about it all.

  • Life of Pi (2012), Ang Lee – An interesting film full of ideas. Which in some ways the much maligned framing device is key to teasing out. I liked the notion of religious pluralism that is examined early on. The supporting of the notion of human exceptionalism in my reading of the film I was not so fond of though. The big late reveal I did not like initially but it grew on me as time passed. It is a clever film that leaves multiple readings of the film acceptable to the viewer such as this one. And of course as everyone has said, the film does look amazing.
  • Les Miserables (2012), Tom Hooper – I thought my mind would wander endlessly in a 2 hour 40 minute musical. But this film engaged and captivated me throughout. I think everyone is really good in this, even the much trashed upon Russel Crowe. I think the only real weak link was Eddy Redmayne who doesn’t have any gravitas or singing voice. The young floppy haired bloke is absolutely incredible though. Blessed with one of the best character narrative arcs in all of literature, this is pretty impressive stuff. The close-up heavy style does occasionally make it look too much like the characters are singing into the mirror at home. But that is a minor quibble against a pretty excellent flick.
  • Django Unchained (2012), Quentin Tarantino – Hmmm. You have to see it because it is the new Tarantino flick and he really is one of our most original directors. But I think that his habit of taking the viewer out of the world of the film does not work too well here. It’s violent of course, but it feels like violence for violence’s sake rather than Tarantino’s usually stylish bloodletting. I just felt it got silly towards the end. Both Dicaprio’s and Samuel L. Jackson’s characters are pretty daft. But the performances of Waltz, Washington and especially Foxx are worth seeing the film for. As is much of the rather fine first half. The film is far, far too long though.


  • Hitchcock – I loved so much of the first half of this film – Hitch’s search for a new project, settling on Psycho, the way the real life case was weaved in. But this last aspect, as well as the rest of the film fell off strongly. Alma and Hitch made films for over 50 years, one of the great love stories. But the second half of this is just aspersion after aspersion especially against Hitch. It is great to see Alma Reville finally get a small amount of the vast attention her career deserves. Hopkins and Mirren are really fantastic in this.

Not Worth Watching:

  • 50/50 (2011), Jonathan Levine – This is one where I cannot really see the hype. I thought it was pretty poor. I didn’t find it at all funny, rather crass, sexist and unintelligent. Even worse for the subject matter, I thought there was very little heart in the film or examination of psyche. Whilst it is great to see Anjelica Huston onscreen again, the usually excellent Joseph Gordon-Levitt is strangely flat here. There are a couple of nice, tender moments toward the end, but for me it was too little too late. A shallow experience, a tale of two jerks rather than two best mates helping each other through a terrible time.


  • Snow White and the Huntsman (2012), Rupert Sanders – This aims for pretty epic and succeeds in being pretty average. The increasingly engaging and charismatic Chris Hemsworth is just about the only bright spot actually and his Huntsman is the most interesting character. This is a meditation on beauty, what it means in society and what some will do to maintain it. But it is an utterly unaffecting film. The usually excellent Theron is not at her best here in a scenery chewing turn whilst Kristen Stewart does not convince at all as Snow White.
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012), Peter Jackson – My least favourite film of 2012. Kind of says it all really. If 48 FPS is the future of cinema as Peter Jackson claims, I’m not going to watch too many films in the future. The visuals distance the audience so much so that there is no way into this world for the audience. The script is woeful, especially the attempted lighter moments. Horrid expository dialogue, woeful effects. Someone needs to learn to say no to Jackson, because despite all his positives as a director, his excesses need reining in.

If you only have time to watch one The Raid: Redemption

Avoid at all costs The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

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Worth Watching July 2012

     Worth Watching:

  • Not Suitable for Children (2012), Peter Templeman – A cracker of a script brings this inner-west Sydney comedy to life. Not afraid to confound expectations, the film also delivers a healthy quota of genuine laughs. Refreshingly frank about booze, drugs and sex this excellently performed piece is the kind of Aussie film you really hope finds an audience.  Also features the most fantastically awkward sex scene ever.
  • East West 101: Season 1 (2007), Steve Knapman & Kris Wyld – This is an intriguing Aussie cop drama. There are definitely annoyances – shaky, hyperkinetic camerawork and individual storylines that are not always satisfying – but the storyline of Malik and his father is really well drawn out. The exploration of race, despite some initial clumsiness, also comes to satisfy by the season’s excellent (and genuinely shocking) conclusion.
  • This Means War (2012), McG – I’m a big fan of all three leads in this – Pine, Witherspoon and Hardy. This is nice and light, there is no real sense of tension but the action scenes are good. The script is not great, especially the early establishment of Pine’s character and the motivation of all the characters is often warped. But in the end, this is genuinely funny and well performed, with Chelsea Handler as Witherspoon’s best friend almost stealing the show.
  • The Amazing Spiderman (2012), Marc Webb – This is a fun film that looks great. But there is no denying that much of what is covered was done better by the first Raimi film. Andrew Garfield is a little hit and miss in the title role but Emma Stone is her usual delightful self. Unfortunately very little of the welcome humour that characterised the trailer is transferred to the final film. But despite all of this, the film is still more than enjoyable enough popcorn fluff.
  • Batman Begins (2005), Christopher Nolan – This incredible film has come to sit somewhat unfairly in the shadow of its phenomenal sequel. Nolan’s first Batman flick is a really dense, multifaceted origin story which remains extremely accessible to non-comic book readers. The script expertly establishes the characters’ values and psychology above all. Katie Holmes’ performance in this is really underrated; I think she does better than Maggie Gyllenhaal who replaced her in the sequel. The film finishes on one of my all time favourite sequel setups as well.
  • The Dark Knight Rises (2012), Christopher Nolan – As a standalone film, this is imperfect. However as the closing film of the trilogy, it is pretty darn close to perfection. The quibbles for me include the late twist, OWS references which veer into the overwrought and resolution of the main action that is not 100% successful. But I loved much of this. There is a couple of cracking action set pieces, the setup for the sidequel/spinoff is masterful and personally I was a huge fan of the ending. Michael Caine is amazing in a small role whilst Joseph Gordon-Levitt in detective mode is very good.
  • Magic Mike (2012), Steven Soderbergh – I really liked this. On the surface this is a tale of male strippers. But there’s some (not too much) added depth here. Channing Tatum has a real charm and presence about him onscreen, as does female lead Cody Horne who is delightful despite occasional stilted line delivery. Biggest accolades must go to director Soderbergh though who is in good form, keeping proceedings zipping along rapidly, even as the action threatens to become predictable.

Not Worth Watching:

  •  Brave (2012), Mark Andrews & Brenda Chapman – As far as animated films go, this is decidedly average. For a Pixar film it is utter pants. Technically, they continue to improve but it seems too much effort has gone into making Merida’s hair look amazing, and not enough into making the narrative amazing. This is a tepid tale, totally lacking in any Pixar distinctiveness or subversiveness.
  • Safe House (2012), Daniel Espinosa – Cool idea. A CIA traitor just saunters into the American embassy in South Africa. Especially when you add in the fact that the traitor is played by none other than Denzel Washington. But this film never gets off the ground, making you wonder why anyone bothered. The action scenes are surprisingly sparse, and when they arrive they are annoyingly, shakily shot. Denzel is surely the most watchable actor of his generation, but even he can’t make this worth your while.
Denzel Washington after a performance of the B...

Not even this guy can make Safe House worth your time.

If you only have time to watch one The Dark Knight Rises

Avoid at all costs Brave

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Trailer for your Weekend: Looper

English: Bruce Willis at a ceremony after he w...

Looper stars this guy… shamefully without that killer facial hair.

This plays like some incredible lovechild of the gangster and sci-fi genres. If it manages to keep a lid on the inherent confusions that the time-travel subgenre always seems to bring, this could be one of the most electric and original releases in quite some time. Chucking in the star of last week’s trailer Joseph Gordon-Levitt not to mention Jeff Daniels, Emily Blunt and oh I dunno, Bruce Willis certainly wont hurt my excitement levels.

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Trailer for your Weekend: Premium Rush

English: US postal stamp from 1902 for special...

Unfortunately, Gordon-Levitt’s character does not appear to be as snappy a dresser as this chap.

No originality in cinema? How about a pushbike set thriller? Perhaps with Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a bike courier, and Michael Shannon as what I can only assume will be an extremely intimidating bad guy. If they pull  it off this could be an ultra exciting action flick, with set pieces that really set it apart. Well that’s what I’m hoping for after seeing this trailer anyway.

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