REVIEWED: MADE IN DAGENHAM

Made in Dagenham

Hawkins is the undeniable reason to watch this by-the-numbers dramedy.

This article is syndicated at Obsessed with Film. View it here.

There is no doubting that the tale behind Made in Dagenham – of the 1968 strike by Ford Dagenham’s female machinists – is one ripe for a power cinematic chronicle, yet that irksome British infatuation with playful quirkiness holds Dagenham back from gripping the heart as well as the mind. Nevertheless, Sally Hawkins’ performance as strike leader Rita O’Grady is illuminating, and Bob Hoskins reigns in a supporting role well, despite the film’s editorial flaws.

REVIEWED: EAT PRAY LOVE

Eat Pray Love

Not one of Roberts' finer moments.

One has to wonder quite which demographic Eat Pray Love director Ryan Murphy was shooting for when he decided that a 140-minute romantic comedy was a good idea. Murphy, who has proven proficient in making unrepentant trash undeniably entertaining (he created the delightfully sordid show Nip/Tuck), falls afoul in an altogether more pious endeavour, breezing through this true story’s more interesting moments and gawking interminably at the head-smackingly dull ones.

Elizabeth Gilbert (Julia Roberts) is dissatisfied with her life. After a bitter divorce from her husband Steven (Billy Crudup), she decides to go on a journey of self-discovery, having a feast of food in Italy, a spiritual reawakening in India, and finally a romantic encounter in the Indonesian island of Bali, hoping that it can regain her zest and passion for life. (Continued…)

REVIEWED: WORLD’S GREATEST DAD

World's Greatest Dad

Williams' performance is his best in almost a decade.

World’s Greatest Dad is the type of film that critics hate writing about, and rightly so, for so little can be said of its composition without ruining the jet-black twists contained therein, such that it doesn’t leave much room for an informed analysis. Needless to say, Bobcat Goldthwaite, who many will vaguely remember as the oddly-voiced Zed in the Police Academy films, has crafted one of the most daring comedies in years here, courting controversy in step with a heartfelt story more consistently than he managed in his other shockers, Shakes the Clown and Sleeping Dogs. Given the material this time, it is totally unsurprising that the film has grossed a mere $200,000 in the U.S. (where it was released a year ago), recouping a mere 2% of its budget.

High school English teacher Lance Clayton (Robin Williams) is a single father, living with his abusive jackass of a son, Kyle (Daryl Sabara), who disrespects him at seemingly every errant opportunity, and makes his already mediocre life a lot less bearable. There is a silver lining, though, in Claire (Alexie Gilmore), Lance’s casual girlfriend, who is also a teacher at the school and keeps him going. However, after a blinding twist of fate in Lance’s life – one which, though spoiled by many inconsiderate critics, will simply not be mentioned here – he is forced to confront a crushing moral dilemma, one which may earn him the fame he has always wanted as a writer, but at what cost? (Continued…)

REVIEWED: THE TOWN

The Town

For Affleck, some habits die hard.

No, the world has not gone mad; Ben Affleck – yes, the same Affleck who co-starred with his then-girlfriend Jennifer Lopez in the colossal critical and financial bomb Gigliis fast earning comparisons with Clint Eastwood as far as his transformative venture from acting to directing goes. Affleck, with one corker firmly under his belt in 2007’s magnificent Gone Baby Gone, is more confident and assured in an altogether more genre-friendly outing, yet his achievement in direction here – touted by some, perhaps over-zealously, as Academy-grade – renders the film’s familiarity fairly unimportant. Here’s what is; The Town is one of the best-executed and most entertaining films of the year. 

In Affleck’s searing crime drama, the town of Charleston, Massachusetts, is like a character in itself. Inexplicably, it breeds the type of environment in which 300 attempted bank robberies occur each year. Our protagonists are just such a group; led by Doug MacRay (Affleck), the line-up includes hotheaded James “Jem” Coughlin (The Hurt Locker‘s breakout star, Jeremy Renner), and two other, less-developed cronies, Gloanzy and Dez, who are essentially bullet fodder. Things get interesting once they rob a bank, and realise that the branch manager, Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall), might have seen their faces. To stave off Jem’s violent solution to the problem, Doug tries to cool it off himself, only to, of course, wind up falling for her, while she remains unaware of his involvement.  (Continued…)

REVIEWED: FROZEN

Frozen

Ashmore leads the pack, but Zegers and Bell lag far behind.

This article is syndicated at Obsessed with Film. View it here.

Adam Green, who shot onto the horror scene with his 2006 hit, Hatchet, aims for something far more serious and self-reliant here, free from the knowing joys of self-referential genre jibes and ludicrous gore. With a great premise, he has crafted a solid, alienating suspense thriller, but he falls foul in the areas of scripting and acting, which are fundamental to any film and prevent Frozen from becoming the breakout cult classic it has the makings of.

REVIEWED: ENTER THE VOID

Enter the Void

As thematically bold as it is visually mesmerising.

This is a repost of our September 9th review.

Gaspar Noé is not a director to be taken lightly. Having thundered onto the scene with the 1998 shocker I Stand Alone and followed up with 2002’s even more disturbing Irreversible, Noé’s first two films have aggressively examined the uglier side of humanity, unabashedly bringing contentious subjects such as incest and rape to the forefront. His third film, Enter the Void, though a touch more optimistic – and I mean just a touch – is an assured apotheosis of the filmmaker’s work up to this point, blending his signature dream-like visuals with a haunting narrative that lingers long after the lights go up.

Oscar (Nathaniel Brown) is a 20 year-old American living in Tokyo, getting by as a drug dealer with his buddy Alex (Cyril Roy). Oscar has finally amassed enough cash to bring his sister, Linda (Paz de la Huerta), over to Tokyo with him, though in order to make ends meet, she has taken up a job as a prostitute. One night, as a drugged-up Oscar goes to meet a client in a nightclub, he is cornered by the police and shot. As he lays dying, he experiences one final mother of a drug trip, traipsing haphazardly through his most intense memories and feelings. In reality, his journey into the void may last all of ten seconds, yet when unspooled raw, it comprises the delirious remainer of the film’s 142-minute runtime.

(Continued…)

REVIEWED: THE HOLE

The Hole

The good cast can't help the trite material.

Joe Dante, best known as the director of the thrilling Gremlins films, is a figure as frustrating as he is enticing. Occupying his recent CV largely with TV work, and preceding that with the middling kids films Looney Tunes: Back in Action and Small Soldiers, Dante has been adrift from terra firma in quite some time. All the more disappointing it is, therefore, that his first film seven years, The Hole, is a bland and tacky sub-Disney effort that lacks the subversive wit of his best works, and falls victim to the clunkiness of his worst.

Susan (Teri Polo) and her two sons, Dane (Chris Massoglia) and Lucas (Nathan Gamble), are fleeing from a haunting past, in which they endured violence at the hands of an abusive husband and father. It appears that in the sleepy town of Bensonville, they have finally found a fresh start, where they can settle down and forget their past once and for all. However, while exploring their new home, Dane and Lucas come across a locked door in the basement, a door which, when opened, harnesses the subconscious of those in proximity, exposing their fears and secrets and bringing them into the real world, where they must be contended with. Along with their interminably bored neighbour, Julie (Haley Bennett), they struggle to keep whatever is down the hole from escaping, while trying to keep a grip on their own sanity. (Continued…)