Sunday, 31 July 2016

July Film Releases

I was away in July so I am catching up on some releases I missed.

The Legend of Tarzan
The graphics are decent and Alexander Skarsgard is an impressive-looking hero, giving Tarzan more sophistication than ever. Unfortunately, the plot was predictable, some dialogue was very embarrassing, Oscar winner Christoph Waltz was reduced to a caricature villain and Margot Robbie's accent wavered with just about every line.

Our Kind of Traitor
More of a thriller than an espionage tale, Our Kind of Traitor is nonetheless an enjoyable film based on John Le Carre's novel. While on holiday, English couple Perry (Ewan McGregor) and Gail (Naomie Harris) befriend the mysterious and charismatic Dima (Stellan Skarsgard), who is actually a money launderer for the Russian mafia, and soon they become entangled in his world. Skarsgard is superb as the boisterous villain, while McGregor and Harris give more understated performances. Our Kind of Traitor starts to follow a common formula, but it is a fun journey.

Love and Friendship
Based on Jane Austen's short epistolary novel titled Lady Susan, this film is a laugh-a-minute comedy of manners. Lady Susan Vernon (Kate Beckinsale) is a widow on a quest to find her daughter the perfect match while also enjoying a few dalliances of her own on the side. For those not particularly fond of Austen's usual wit, Love and Friendship has the addition of being almost as risqué as Oscar Wilde's work. Unlike many of Austen's most beloved heroines, Lady Susan is selfish, devious and manipulative, yet somehow she remains oddly lovable. The costumes are splendid and there is great use of music throughout. Unfortunately, writer/director Whit Stillman rushes the ending. At only 90 minutes long, Love and Friendship could have been improved with a few more scenes showing the development to the final resolution. But perhaps that was just me not wanting it to end.

Star Trek Beyond
The latest film in this franchise is unnecessarily slow to start but eventually picks up the pace with a few good laughs along the way thanks to Simon Pegg and Doug Jung taking on the writing duties this time. Each of the protagonists has their moment to shine and the camaraderie among the cast is clear. Idris Elba is menacing as the villain and it is bittersweet to see Anton Yelchin playing Chekov for the last time. Star Trek Beyond could have been trimmed in parts but the effects are solid and Trekkies should be happy.  

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Louder Than Bombs

This is a compelling family drama with a fascinating character study, but it seemed to build towards some kind of twist or revelation that never came. Louder Than Bombs is about a father (Gabriel Byrne) and his two sons (Jesse Eiesenberg and Devin Druid) and how they confront their very different feelings and memories of their dead wife and mother (Isabelle Huppert), who was a famed war photographer before she was killed in a car crash. The performances are all very good and Norwegian director/co-writer Joachim Trier has a great way of telling the story through flashbacks and different points of views. Louder Than Bombs is Trier's first English-language film and it is a solid effort, but there was scope for it to be so much more.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Jason Bourne

When the original trilogy came to an end in 2007 fans were left wanting more. Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) might have finally remembered his identity but there was definitely more to be explored with the mysterious character. It took almost a decade but with director Paul Greengrass back on board, Jason Bourne is the film fans have been wanting. Bourne has been living off the grid when hacker Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) contacts him with information about his father. Soon, the CIA is on their tail as Bourne tries to learn more about his past. The story and character development are solid and the action sequences are entertaining. Thankfully, there is no shaky camera footage this time either. Damon remains convincing in the lead role and Alicia Vikander is an excellent addition to the franchise as an ambitious member of the CIA. Tommy Lee Jones is also very good as the slimy CIA director and Vincent Cassel is a horrifying killing machine. This fourth film in the franchise (forgetting the mediocre outing starring Jeremy Renner) is not just about money-grabbing. Jason Bourne is one of the most rewarding action films of the year.