Posts tagged Film Reviews

RAW: Caitlin Stasey and Deniz Akdeniz Interview Pt 2

Tomorrow When The War Began – Part 2

In the second part of their interview with Kryztoff TV, Caitlin Stasey and Deniz Akdeniz talk about the impact of Tomorrow, When The War Began on them personally and the potential for their careers.

RAW: Splice – 2K

The greatest fear in all of bio-technology is the creation of a creature that by accident or intention is released onto the world with unknown and unintended consequences – like cane toads only developed in a lab. Splice takes this issue head on when Nerd’s headstrong scientists Clive Nicoli (Adrien Brody) and Elsa Kast (Sarah Polley) develop a part human embryo only to find it survives and develops. From there all manner of maternal and male instincts kick in as they battle the rapid development of their ‘child’, Dren (mostly Delphine Chaneac) and try to keep it all a secret.

If what you are after is a Sci-Fi schlock DVD to watch late one evening with your partner armed only with a bottle of scotch then Splice is five star entertainment. The is the Creature From The Black Lagoon meets The Room aided by 21st century film technology. The ethical and scientific dilemmas thrown up are given at best lip service and are overwhelmed by the human hormonal imbalances of the grossly selfish.

Once all semblance of credibility is lost after the shareholders meeting ends in a bloody fiasco one can only marvel at the corny dialogue. The sex scenes that climax the film (if that is the right word) are extraordinary but only in the context of being very silly.

If you are after a primer on the challenges of raising children then other films do a lot better. If you are interested in the clash of ethics between the scientific, commercial and domestic worlds, then this offers zero insights. If you love Frankenstein style Sci Fi flicks and can suspend reality for 2 hours, Splice may be a film for you.

Kryztoff Rating   2K

RAW: The Ghost Writer – 3.5K

Reviewed by Lucy Campbell

Roman Polanski’s latest effort sees the controversial Pole tackle an airport fodder heavyweight in the form of ‘The Ghost Writer,’ an adaptation of Richard Harris’ thriller novel ‘The Ghost.’ Ewan McGregor plays the writer (simply named Ghost) who is employed by ex-British Prime Minister Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan) to edit his memoirs. The film takes place in Massachusetts, where Lang and his wife Ruth (Olivia Williams) are isolated from prying eyes and pesky journalists. When Lang is accused of war crimes, the film slowly begins to escalate into an espionage thriller, spearheaded by the rather bumbling yet placid Ghost. Of course, it’s all very Tony Blair; names are barely altered for the sake of the film, and it’s sure to be mildly controversial.

But at the centre of this film is some really creaky dialogue, a great deal of exposition and some unsettling acting from the leads. There are parts of the film that veer into Cohen brothers-esque black comedy: “They can’t drown you both. You’re not kittens,” placates an ex-minister to an increasingly paranoid Ghost. But other parts feel heavy and plodding, a few of Ghost’s decisions seem downright bizarre, and really the twist at the end we could see for miles. But in all of this McGregor’s Ghost is strangely unsettling (he also has an atrocious English accent, as is Tom Burlinson’s American) and unequivocally ordinary. His stupidity is understandable when one sees him as a man un-wittingly thrust into a conspiracy, and he reacts in the same way any of us would.

The structure of the film feels a bit off, the set-up is far too long, and there is so much exposition you want to take an axe into the edit room, but there are some great sequences. It isn’t Polanski’s best by any means, but it’s a solid shot at a political thriller that seems ever more relevant in the wake of Iraq and the midst of Afghanistan.

Kryztoff Rating   3.5K

RAW: The Special Relationship – Film – 3.5K

Reviewed By Kosta Jaric

Michael Sheen is making a damn good living out of other people’s lives. After playing reporter David Frost and famed English coach Brian Clough, he has come full circle and returns as the seemingly affable Prime Minister Tony Blair in “The Special Relationship”.

With Dennis Quaid as the unmistakable Bill Clinton, Richard Loncraine directs the finer moments of their relationship during their overlapping terms. Choosing Blair as the protagonist of the two, Sheen is seamless and brilliant in his role. Being the third time he’s played Blair, he’s almost undistinguishable from the real man. Quaid’s attempt at Clinton’s accent becomes a bit of a novelty from the get go, but he does a fine job playing a morally-questionable man (who on screen is shown to be just as deceptive as his successor).

Hope Davis is brilliant as the turmoiled Hilary, taking a leading role during the Lewinsky period, with Helen McCrory is exactly as she was in “The Queen” as Cherie (also written by Peter Morgan). The support cast is also on song (with Jacques Chirac ever the comedian).

The script is tight and creates some interesting moments between the two leaders. In what could’ve been a very dry film (originally made for US TV), the cast and crew have actually made an intriguing behind-the-scenes look at the marriages, friendships and political relationship between the two couples and their countries.

You won’t kick yourself if you miss this on the big screen but it is worth a mid-week peek.

Kryztoff Rating  3.5K

RAW: Greenberg – Film – 3.5K

Reviewed by Lucy Campbell

Greenberg is the story of 40 year old Roger Greenberg (Ben Stiller) and his return to his native LA after a nervous breakdown and mental hospital stay. Writer/director Noah Baumbuch’s film charts his relationships with old friend and ex bandmate Ivan (Rhys Ifans), ex lover Beth (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and affair with his brother’s personal assistant, Florence (Greta Gerwig).

At it’s core Greenberg defies the conventions of plot, instead focusing on the intricacies of relationships and the title character’s manic depression, which a brave Stiller plays without the comic stylings that we’re so accustomed. It’s Stiller’s film and he plays the role to a tee: the detachment from his surroundings, OCD behaviour, alienation and complete self-obsession. Unfortunately, all these things mean his character is ultimately pretty unlovable, and his fractured character gradually becomes whining and so downright rude, you question why anybody bothers to hang out with him.

But this is a film of a man railing against the world, against LA, against his desires and against himself. Stiller’s self-destructive Greenberg feels real, as does the loose ends of Gerwig’s Florence. Everybody in this film runs in circles, and by the end one feels thoroughly exhausted though not entirely confident anyone will break the cycle. There are the occasional muted chuckles, but it isn’t by any stretch a ‘Ben Stiller Film’ – more of an awkward insight into emotional freefall and neurosis as we slowly watch Greenberg self-destruct and then attempt to pick up the pieces. Though by no means a bad film, Greenberg still leaves you a little empty as the credits roll.

Kryztoff Rating   3.5K

RAW: Inception – Film – 3.5K

Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his team including Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Eames (Tom Hardy) and Saito (Ken Watanabe), already experts in ‘excavation’ – penetrating and deducing the contents of people’s dreams – now decide to try their hand at ‘inception’, the planting of an idea in the sub-conscious. Their target is the son (Cillian Murphy) of a family patriarch (Pete Postlewaite) in order to stop that family’s company dominating world energy supplies. To do this they enlist the support of student, Ariadne (Ellen Page) but in the process find Cobb’s own sub-conscious demons a barrier to progress once they start entering the various levels of the dreams they come to possess.

Sound complex? Well it is, exceedingly! Right from the start, writer and director, Christopher Nolan has Inception burst forth and many may find they lose their way from early on. The dreams are multi layered, each existing in its own time zone and all possessing baddies with guns who don’t seem to be able to aim straight. But as much as the dreams are constructs of the imagination, the inconsistencies of plot add to the viewing dilemmas with the impact of dying in a dream just one imponderable.

In many ways, this film has its similarities with DiCaprio’s Shutter Island from earlier this year but none of the acting finesse he showed in that. This is for the most part a one fast pace anxiety fix for DiCaprio. Page adds a pretty face and Gordon-Levitt is excellent as the straight laced technician of the team. The sets are extraordinary as is the imagination that dreamt this up. But at the end one had to ask why all the bother. Sci-fi fans will love it and a second viewing may assist in understanding but many I suspect will allow the non-stop action to entertain well after the machinations of the plot have passed them by.

Kryztoff Rating – 3.5K

RAW: Creation – Film – 4K

By Lucy Campbell

“You’ve killed God!”  exclaims the earnest Thomas Huxley to an ill and burdened Charles Darwin as he enthuses of Darwin’s as-yet-unfinished ‘Origin of the Species.’  Thus begins the first real biopic of Charles Darwin, cleverly crafted in the hands of director Jon Amiel and actor Paul Bettany. Beautifully shot and recreated,

Creation speeds back and forth through time as Darwin comes to grips with the death of his daughter Annie, whilst at the same time struggling to finish his revolutionary theories.  With quite a brilliant performance from Bettany, he’s well-supported by Jennifer Connolly as his deeply religious wife and Martha West as the precocious dead daughter Annie. But anyone hoping for an insight into Darwin’s theories, or how those twenty years were spent slowly deconstructing the Christian world’s entire existence will be disappointed.

This is not a film about Darwin’s theories, but about his personal life and his inner struggle between religion and truth. The few scenes of Darwin actually working seem sketchy to say the least: snippets of Darwin jotting down in a notebook, a seemingly brief encounter with a chimp and a bit of unexplained peering into a microscope. The film tends to sag a little in the middle under the considerable weight of Darwin’s family and personal life, and  at its weakest when overly emotional, but through it all still keeps its course and satisfies us. Above all, Creation is a film of the power of individual thought, the repercussions of which we still feel today, and the unshakeable human desire for truth and understanding.

RAW: The Runaways – Film – 4K

Reviewed By Lucy Campbell

For anybody with even the slightest of grasps of The Runaways music can probably guess that this film is a romped up biopic of Joan Jett and Cherie Currie, the infamous duo to front the all-girl rock phenomenon of the 70s. The Runaways centres heavily around the performance of the two leads; teen hype machine Kristen Stewart as Jett and child actor workhorse Dakota Fanning as Cherie Currie. Luckily both actors do a fine job as the superstar teens, with Stewart in particular proving she’s made of stronger stuff than the ‘Twilight’ bamboozle. The best performance goes to Michael Shannon for his acidic, aggressive and egotistical Kim Fowley; manager dash collaborator.

Runaways has all the plot one would expect from such a biopic: the inevitable drug problems, sex, alcohol abuse, relationship meltdowns and eventual breakup, and it suffers from hovering between too sexy, offensive and dark for a teen audience and a little too tame for the real rock n roll romp it should be. Nevertheless the film looks beautiful, and the time and place have been lovingly captured by writer/director Flora Sigismondi, with the relationship between Jett and Currie as believable, tangible and not overplayed. Despite the second half, which goes on far too long and focuses on the least interesting of the two rockers (Currie, whose Dakota Fanning saucer-eyes and drug-fuelled clichés lack the passion and energy of Jett) The Runaways is still an enjoyable if un-subtle glance into the world of 70s rock n roll, and to a lesser extent the role and influence of women in a male dominated industry.

Kryztoff Rating   4K

RAW: Farewell – Film

In the early 1980s, the Cold War for the Russians is being increasingly held together only by intelligence about western people, missiles and bases. Sergei Gregoriev (Emir Kusturica), in the Soviet intelligence services, has decided that should all change through sending back to the West all they know about them and the names of the Russian agents operating there. His mission is to make the Russian world a better place for his son, Igor. To do this, he enlists the help of Pierre Froment (Guillaume Canet), a Frenchman living in Moscow, in an operation codenamed ‘Farewell’.

This is a terrific espionage film, based on the factual account in the book by Serguei Kostine. Director and co-writer, Christian Carion, builds the tension silently but inexorably throughout until the last scenes are nearly unbearable to watch, so involved in the machinations and the lives of the players involved has one become.

Both the main actors do a great job and are well supported by Sergei’s ‘family’ (son, wife and mistress) and Pierre’s wife, Jessica (Alexandra Maria Lara). There is no James Bond or Jason Bourne in this drama and conflict between ‘duty’ to the cause and honesty and trust in the family is compellingly portrayed. Cliche portrayals of President Reagan and the CIA are upturned in the end as the real goings on get revealed.

Don’t miss it.

Kryztoff Rating  4.5K