Friday, 28 August 2015
This visceral hip-hop biopic documenting NWA's meteoric rise to fame at times struggles to avoid stumbling into Hollywood cliché. Still, Straight Outta Compton (2015) proves as infectiously entertaining as it is educational thanks to F. Gary Gray's richly textured direction and a thumping soundtrack that confirms rap as the protest music of its time. Although gangster rap is now the stuff of legend, Straight Outta Compton reminds the viewer that for some it was - and still is - a way of life. The opening sequence reveals Eazy-E (Jason Mitchell) stomping his way out of the grilled window of a dope house, after a police military tank, without warning, rams its way right through the front door...More.
Saturday, 22 August 2015
This stranger-than-fiction Sundance winner recalls Philip Larkin's This Be the Verse: "They fuck you up, your mum and dad..." Then again, Larkin probably didn't have parents as paranoid as Oscar Angulo who, with ex-hippie Susanne, raised their six sons and one daughter in near-isolated lockdown. LikeGrey Gardens, The Wolfpack (2015) blurs the traditional border between documentary filmmaker and subject, as director Crystelle Moselle captures the quotidian details of family dysfunction with intimacy, but also discretion. Sporting long hair and Sanskrit names, the Angulo brothers, aged 16-23, were forbidden by their father to leave their cramped public housing flat in Manhattan's Lower East Side...More.
Wednesday, 12 August 2015
Instead of delivering feel-good gamer nostalgia, Chris Columbus' big budget spectacle indulges in the worst kind of self-congratulatory 80s male egotism ad nauseam. Fuelled by a relentlessly upbeat soundtrack that covers Everybody Wants to Rule the World and We Will Rock You (twice), this clumsily reanimated, f/x-laden blockbuster adds up to little more than a send-up of retro gimmicks, cheesy celebrity cameos, and casual misogyny. After aliens mistake a NASA space probe's transmission of 'Galaga' for a declaration of intergalactic war, only Brenner (Adam Sandler, Happy Madison's favourite man-child), can save the planet from annihilation due to his unique set of hand-eye coordination skills...More.
Thursday, 6 August 2015
Opening with spectacular aerial shots of the labyrinthine Andalusian wetlands, where the raped and mutilated bodies of two local teenage girls are found, Marshland's (2014) plot twists prove as compelling, obscure, and ultimately treacherous as the terrain it features. True Detective fans will doubtless be struck by thematic similarities between the popular US TV series and Alberto Rodriguez's brooding, stylish neo-noir. But the film's meticulously researched, realistic focus on rural 1980s post-fascist Spain is all Rodriguez's own...More.
Tuesday, 21 July 2015
The dead-eyed cast of Roy Andersson's A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (2014) would appear just as home on the streets of London as Gothenburg, or any other city experiencing the dreary decline of late capitalism. Still, their masterful comic timing and pacing make hilariously black viewing pleasure, with a dash of the Brechtian absurd. Don't be fooled by the drained blue-and-beige palette of Andersson's set design either. There is never a dull frame in his obliquely shot scenes of exquisitely composed, static long takes. Incorporating historical anachronism, musical revelry, and unsettling cruelty, 37 vignettes make up the the final part of his trilogy on humanity...More.
Thursday, 18 June 2015
When we spot Morag Keil's Leg1 – a looped projection of a giant zebra-striped stiletto – the slow, voyeuristic tracking up the leg reveals that it belongs to a man. To further complicate matters, the male calf in question sports a cheesy softcore tattoo of a pin-up girl. Is a pornographic portrayal of women considered sexist if worn by a transsexual? Whether it is sincere or sardonic is left beguilingly, or frustratingly, open-ended...More.
Wednesday, 10 June 2015
Despite its attempt to subvert the spy genre via the antics of Melissa McCarthy set against a panoply of glamorous international backdrops, Spy (2015) has more in common with Mean Girls than Austin Powers. The film confuses missplaced female empowerment with luxury consumerism and pettily competitive comaraderie, further distracted by gross body humour and contrived plotting. It plays like a high school misfit's rather toothless wish-fulfilment fantasy masquerading as a modern quasi-feminist odyssey. When she isn't busy baking cakes for her CIA colleagues, good naturedly rotund Susan (McCarthy) serves golden-boy agent Fine (Jude Law) as his overeager Girl Friday, maid, and caddie...More.