Monday, November 30, 2015

A Serious Man

A man standing on the roof of a house, looking off to his left. His hands are on his hips. Behind him is a TV aerial.
A snowy night in a European town and an introduction to a dybbuk is how the movie begins.  You are then plunged into the sorry life of Larry Gopnik, who is a physicist struggling for tenure while in the middle of  divorce proceedings. There are quirky scenarios typical of a Coen brothers film like that of Larry dealing with a Chinese student who could be bribing him. Throw in a few more interesting fringe characters like Larry's brother who is writing a "probability map of the universe" and you have a regular Coen brother offering. And there in lies the problem; it is just regular!

Rating: * *

Poster licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Sin City: A Dame to Kill for

The original Sin City was a brilliant film that stunningly brought to life the neo-noir graphic novel series of the same name by Frank Miller. So when the follow up was released by the same directorial duo the assumption was that it would continue in the same vein. The film in many ways does do that by reappraising most of the original cast. Miller has thrown in a few stories from Vol 2 and tried to mesh them in a similar fashion as in its predecessor. In other ways the handling of story lines is poor and almost as if the hope was the CGI would be distracting enough to make up for it.

Rating: * +

Poster licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Beasts of No Nation

Beasts of No Nation poster.jpg

A film meant to be a powerful telling of the wars in Africa and how it is ravaging the youth there. A time meant for the children to be educated instead is spent learning how to become a killing machine. Throw in Idris Alba to play the lead role of a commandant of a guerrilla, one expects a dark and gripping tale. However the story of young Abu who is throw apart from his family by war into the hands of the guerrillas only leaves you mildly interested in the events that unfold in the movie in spite of the message being important and one that everyone should pay heed to.

Rating: * +

Poster licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia

Monday, October 12, 2015

The Assassin


Hsaio-hsien Hou tackles a wuxia tale in his latest offering that centers around an assassin, who targets corrupt government officials. Interestingly her orders are given by a woman monk. When mercy creeps into her and she wavers from her role she is sent off an assignment closer to her heart. In spite of being based on a wuxia story which is usually simple and action packed, Hou twists it to his will to show a poignant thoughtful drama that is not all wire tricks.

Rating:* * +

Poster licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.

Saturday, September 26, 2015


Sicario poster.jpg

The movie opens with Agent Kate Mercer, a up and coming straight laced FBI agent, finding a horde corpses when raiding  a den of kidnappers. The ensuing explosion points at something more than a kidnapping den. She is then drafted into a CIA / DoD task force investigating the event. Part of this team is Alejandro Gillick (Benicio Del Toro) whose identity and allegiance all seem very murky. A taunt action thriller that never leaves you bored but there are times you wish Emily Blunt's character was played by a man and treated the same way. Somehow I feel that it would have been more effective. But that is just a minor nitpick in a well crafted thriller.

Rating: * * +

Poster licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Informant

Mark Whitacre was a high flying executive at Archer Daniels Midland, when he decides to blow the whistle on the company's nefarious price fixing of lysine, an additive used in the livestock industry. He teams up with the FBI and walks around wearing a wire and surreptitiously filming secret meetings. But the pressure of leading a double life starts to show as his character starts to fray at the edges resulting in tragicomic situations. Matt Damon shines in this role and you are left in an enjoyable muddle of trying to figure out reality from Whitacre's imagination.

Rating: * * *
Poster licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.

Saturday, August 22, 2015


There are some movies that are hard to review. It doesn't mean that such movies are of high quality. It is just that writing about it can reveal too much and take away from the pleasure if the movie was one for the ages. This is one such movie and I will do my best not give too much away about this one.

The Earth is ravaged by blight and humanity's hope for survival looks bleak. It is evident from the posters and trailers that some space travel is involved in search of a solution. Throw a wormhole into the picture and the possibilities are endless. As you watch the film you hope for another Contact but as your excitement grows the finale kind of leaves you a little deflated. Maybe the weight of expectations flattened the balloon.

Rating: * * + 

Poster licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.