Bridge of Spies : Review

Spielberg is constantly manipulating the screen with his use of lighting and camera angles to spin mundane scenes into something interesting, and it’s a constant pleasure to watch. Tom Hanks is as ever, ever-dependable, getting a lot of joy out of the fish-out-of-water who finds he’s surprisingly good at sleuthing. Its Mark Rylance though who delivers the best performance—upstanding, understated, and utterly unflustered—as rumbled Soviet spy Rudolf Abel. Conversely, the legalistic story about Abel’s prisoner exchange with U2 pilot Francis Gary Powers lacks a certain spark. Even if the mawkish epilogue you always fear is coming with Spielberg had been discarded, the run-time would still be overextended, and there’s never quite enough drama to spice up its talky formality. It’s eminently watchable though—another solid entry in the director’s sizeable biographical line.

B+

Rocky IV : Review

Running out of ideas on round four, Sylvester Stallone gives up on filmmaking to create a series of sweaty training montages set to ‘80s AOR. And to be fair to him, this is the best series of sweaty training montages set to ‘80s AOR you’re ever likely to see, drenched in unintentional camp and buttressed by characters I’ll continue to like even if the set-up has grown stale. Also contains a gloriously kitsch cameo by the Godfather of Soul.

B-

Review Roundup : The Internet Dump

Over the last couple of months, film reviews have been littered across the internet as if by some kind of manic cyberspace litter bug. Here they are all in one place.

Grades displayed below won’t necessarily match those on the sites, which use their own rating systems (or none at all), so there can be some approximating involved. This is simply my translation of those scores using my own.

Battle Royale With Cheese

Dr. Bird’s Advice For Sad Poets : C+

Martin Eden : C+

The Indiependent

French Exit : B-

Old : C+

The Reason I Jump : B

The Suicide Squad : B

UK Film Review

2088 (short film) : C+

Petrichor (short film) : B+

True Calling : D

M. Night Shyamapost : The Happening, Split

THE HAPPENING

Three reviews for you:

— Mark Wahlberg Talks To Trees, Mark Wahlberg Runs Away From A Light Breeze, Mark Wahlberg And The Suicide Breeze, The Breeze of Doom,  Plant Wars, Al Gorefest, The Trouble With Triffids, Foliage Party, M Nightmare On Elm Street, Mark Wahlberg And The Deathly Willows, Lawn Of The Dead.

— You’ve got to hand it to him. M. Night Shyamalan has pulled off his greatest plot twist with The Happening, a film in which absolutely nothing happens.

— A couple of jump-scares, coupled with the premise’s fear-fuel of a gruesomely fatal contagion spreading uncontrollably ensure that better horror films are less scary than this. But it’s lead by the weakest of weak screen-couples. Mark Wahlberg plays a science teacher, which might be more implausible than the notion of plants hyperevolving an invisible neurotoxin that makes people mad for seppuku. Wahlberg’s counterpart Zooey Deschanel mumbles through a half-arsed performance with the floaty angst of a Xanax-patient. No chemistry, no chops, and in Deschanel’s case, dead annoying.

C+


SPLIT

After wasting years on an airbender, M. Night Shyamalan rediscovers his sixth sense for cinema with a supernatural horror film that crucially doesn’t suck. His suspense-building and creepy camerawork works new life out of genre clichés, though not without a little help from his friends. Shyamalan’s successes display a huge gulf in casting quality compared to his duds—sour memories of nepotism and whitewashing are banished here. James McAvoy manages to wrestle what could be a bunch of silly accents into a deadly serious organising principle as “The Horde”, a man with 23-personalities. If anything however, it’s Anya Taylor-Joy as kidnapped teen Casey Cooke who’s the real star of the show, holding her gaze with fractured sorrow, projecting her body-language with the no-nonsense demeanour of someone with far too much lived-trauma. McAvoy has to put so much work into persona construction that his character’s pain is comparatively submerged. Both well-acquitted stars are served by an adroitly-threaded narrative, as well as Shyamalan’s signature twist—a great idea signalled just enough to be cottoned on to. For those who do, it’s a thrill to find out whether your hunch is right (if you can avoid spoilers that is. This viewer did not).

A-