The Tragedy Of Macbeth: One For The Art House Crowd And Not Many More

2.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A retelling of Macbeth with Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand in the leading roles, no more is needed.

I am sure the art house attendees will love this film; I however was decidedly less impressed. I think the performances from Washington and McDormand are good, not Oscar worthy but good, and the style of the film is cool to look at, but really other than that I struggle to see what is so impressive about this film.

It does little different to any other Macbeth adaption you have seen and though it tries to differentiate itself with its style it is only partially successful. Furthermore, the language choice of old Shakespearian English will be a barrier to entry for some, just as it was with the Fassbender adaption that tried a similar thing only a few years prior; and is probably the better of the two.

Perhaps I am a philistine but through most of this film I was bored. I had seen it all before and though Washington and McDormand are good they are not good enough to get me to invest in something I have already seen before. Moreover, despite clocking in at less than two hours this feels much, much longer and will test the patience of most moviegoers.    

Overall, don’t believe the hype.

Pros.

Washington and McDormand

The style

The story is a literary classic

Cons.

There is little new here

The style doesn’t add enough

It is badly paced  

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Bruised: Berry’s Career Receives A Knockout Blow

1.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

In her first directorial role Halle Berry has to give herself the lead role of a disgraced UFC fighter trying to get back in the game, as no one else is offering her roles. It is funny how life mirrors art, though I suppose Berry isn’t disgraced simply forgotten.

If this is how Berry wants to get back into cinema stardom then she has gone the wrong way about it, casting herself feels cheap and more than a little narcissistic, this wouldn’t be so bad if she was able to provide the film with a good performance, sadly that is not forthcoming.

As I have said in many other reviews the actor turned director often doesn’t have a lot of luck making good films that are well received by both audiences and critics, this provides us with another example. Berry certainly throws everything she has at this film, but it isn’t nearly enough. The pace of over two hours is simply grotesque and the story of a broken former star trying to regain past glories is about as played out as they come. If the film had better material to work with then perhaps it wouldn’t be as bad as it is.

As it stands this is just another bad and soon to be forgotten Netflix movie, though it does leave us with a lesson that not every actor has what it takes to excel behind the camera.

Overall, incredibly familiar, overly long and frankly an effort in egotism.

Pros.

It has a good soundtrack

The supporting cast are trying

Cons.

Berry

It is too familiar

It is too long

It is incredibly generic    

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Sex Appeal: Why Are The Kids Today So Damn Cringe?

1/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A young overachiever, played by Mika Abdalla, must enlist the help of her friend Larson, played by Jake Short, in order to get herself ready for her first time with her long distance boyfriend.

If that doesn’t sound like one of the most generic premises you have ever heard, then honestly I am worried about you. I feel like I have seen about fifty other films with that same premise at least. I am getting so sick of this smart girl breaking bad narrative, it worked well in Booksmart it doesn’t mean you need to copy it relentlessly Hollywood. It is also reductive to the cause as it implies that women can’t be both smart and sexually liberated and adventurous, it has to be one or the other.

The young cast are all incredibly unlikeable, and push the boundaries of cringe honestly some of the things they say and do feel so cringey that I almost had to turn the film off. It feels several years out of date to say the least, now I don’t know any American teens so maybe they do carry on like this but dear God I hope not. It feels more likely to just be old executives thinking this is how teens act.

This film did not need to be made, the money used to construct it could have been used for one hundred superior projects or even just given to charity and it would have made the world better, this film enriches nothing and no one, showing the most desperate side of the industry.

Overall, it is depressing that this film was made.

Pros.

It is short

Cons.

It is cringe

It isn’t funny

It is painfully derivative

It has no reason to exist

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Italian Studies: Wandering The Streets Hoping To Get Things For Free

2.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A writer, played by Vanessa Kirby, loses her memory and so must wander the streets in search of who she is.

I have seen many mixed reviews for this film describing it as more of an experience than a film, and largely that is right. There is no real cohesive structure here, some of it seems genuine whilst other bits abstract, it feels far more like an art film that is more into its themes than telling a story, do these elements lend themselves to the film? Yes and no, yes in that they help to further the helplessness and isolation of the lead as she doesn’t know who she is and no, in that it leads the film to often feeling drawn out and padded which effect the pace.

The supporting cast led by an always solid Maya Hawke are again just fine, they can’t match Kirby and don’t really try to. For the most part I found the supporting cast serviceable, though I did not like the quasi interview scenes wherein Kirby’s character talked to them off screen and they gave their views on life, as with C’mon C’mon I found the format trite.

Vanessa Kirby does a good job at giving the film something tangible and delivers a fairly layered performance, sadly however it leads to nowhere as the script can’t be bothered to feature a proper ending of any sort.

Overall, Kirby is good but for most this film can be easily skipped.

Pros.

Kirby

Hawke is trying

It has some nice mediative moments

Cons.

It has pacing issues

Narratively it is flawed

The ending is weak

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Parallel Mothers: Always DNA Test Your Child

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Two mothers, played by Penelope Cruz and Milena Smit, become intertwined in each other’s lives after befriending one another on a maternity ward.

Spoilers

I found this film to be fascinating, they did so much with such a simplistic premise. To get right into spoilers I enjoyed the conspiracy angle to this film as Cruz’s character becomes more and more sure the child she is raising is not her own. I thought these ideas of paranoia and hormonal changes nicely lent the film a sense of tension that permeated it throughout.

Furthermore, I like the mania of the later film when Cruz’s character is forced to live with the knowledge of her discoveries and come to terms with what has happened, as she desperately clings to those around her looking for a life raft. I thought these later scenes were acted to perfection by Cruz and her performance on the whole was terrific and should be up for awards consideration this season. I liked Smit’s performance as well but thought she was totally outacted by Cruz.

My one complaint of this film would be that it had a number of very unnecessary subplots that led to nowhere, with these removed the film would have been phenomenal.

Overall, a very strong film and one to check out before awards season.

Pros.

Cruz

The tension

The conspiracy

The ending

Cons.

A few too many subplots, a little busy.

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The Interview: Aren’t We All Getting Too Old For This Weak Form Of Comedy?

2/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The film sees Seth Rogen and James Franco play aspiring journalists sent out to interview Kim Jong-un, played by Randall Park, once in country the objective of their mission changes.

I will tackle the elephant in the room before we proceed, yes James Franco has faced abuse allegations, which he has paid off, yes that makes me not want to watch any films with him in, but for the purposes of this review I tried to place that to one side and view the film without thinking about Franco’s sordid personal life.

However, even with that to one side my view of this film is negative. I found both ‘funny men’ to not be all that funny at all instead I found both to just be churning out the same old shtick they always do and in a particularly unlikeable way here. There was nothing about either of the two heroes that made me feel anything towards them other than mild annoyance.

Randall Park on the other hand fares better and actually managed to make me laugh several times, Park really is an underappreciated hard worker in the Hollywood comedy scene he often delivers the laughs but rarely gets the praise for it.

Park aside I found the comedy to mostly be lifeless and overly reliant on cliches, stereotypes and the exceptional sense of American superiority and smugness anywhere outside their borders. I rarely found myself laughing instead I was often bored.

Overall, watchable in a pinch but fairly subpar.

Pros.

Park

It is watchable

Cons.

Rogen and Franco are annoying

It isn’t funny

It relies too hard on cliches and stereotypes

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Ghost In The Shell: Is Scarlett Johansson A Believable Action Star?

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The popular anime series of the same name is brought to life with Major, played by Scarlett Johansson, a part human part cyborg investigating her past.

I understand many people didn’t like this film because they perceived it as whitewashing the source material and I respect that, however for the purpose of this review I aim to look beyond that.

I actually enjoyed this film when I saw it in cinemas and then when I rewatched it again recently. I thought Johansson was good in the role and brought a lot to it, she was good in both the action set pieces as well as the more emotional and philosophical scenes. Her performance can’t be faulted.

Furthermore, I thought the world of the film was dripping with potential for interesting storytelling. Honestly, I think if this film had been better received we would have gotten numerous spin offs and sequels which would have given us a better look into the world which could have been really interesting, alas such a thing was not meant to be.

My main issue with the film was that it tried to do too much. It crammed a lot of story in a relatively short runtime and as such a lot came off as underdeveloped or even confusing. Even upon rewatching it there are still moments in the films narrative that don’t make any sense to me at all.

Furthermore, Michael Pitt as the film’s villain was deeply miscast.

Overall, a film that is better than a lot make it out to be, but one that still has some major issues.

Pros.

Johannsson

The world

The visual style and the composition

Cons.

Michael Pitt

It needed further expanding   

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The Parent Trap: Almost Killing Your Step-Mother To Get Your Parents Back Together Again

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Two twins, both played by Lindsey Lohan, switch places in order to try and get their parents back together.

I understand that for many this film is a classic, and whilst I thought it was good and had a number of nice moments I wouldn’t go that far. If I were to pick my favourite Disney era Lohan performance it would undoubtably be Freaky Friday, but that’s just me.

I thought the narrative was a little simplistic, though I suppose it would have been fresher upon release when movies like The Princess Switch hadn’t taken the same concept and run away with it. I also thought the film struggled with its characters with the evil step mother, played by Elaine Hendrix, being the most egregious.

I thought Lohan was good in both her roles if a little samey between the two, as far as child actors go she was on the better side of average as her performance didn’t become irritating to me.

Overall, a warm watchable film that isn’t going to set the world on fire but will nicely give you an escape from reality.

Pros.

Lohan

It is very watchable

A few funny scenes

A nice ending

Cons.

Overly simplistic

A little too reliant on tropes

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Kicking And Screaming: Fathers And Sons Comparing Balls

3.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Phil Weston, played by Will Ferrell, has daddy issues and tries to exorcise those demons by beating his dad, played by Robert Duvall, at coaching children’s football.

I think within Ferrell’s catalogue of work this is one of his better outings. For the most part he plays the character straight, he is not loud, or overtly weird, and that gives the character far more of an earnest relatability then we often get from Ferrell’s other roles. He plays the everyman well here and we recognise and understand his motivations for wanting to beat his dad.

I would say this film made me laugh a few times, but it also has its fair shares of misses, it is not the funniest film in the world and there are other Ferrell films that succeed more in this regard; however I think this might be the Ferrell film with the biggest heart. There is a nice emotional core at the centre of this film and it is often on show, there are a number of scenes that are quite sweet and maybe even moving and Ferrell executes them well.

Overall, a sweet Ferrell film that highlights the need for reserve within performing, less is more Mr Ferrell.

Pros.

The sweetness

The emotion

Ferrell

Cons.

A fair number of its jokes don’t land

Some pacing issues  

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Licorice Pizza: Grooming And Further Consent Issues

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A young man, played by Cooper Hoffman, pursues an older woman, played by Alana Haim, whilst both try and do something with their lives and become successful.

I will come right out and say it, the age difference in this film really bothered me. The boy is underage and the woman is much older, ten years his senior, I thought the film teasing us with the will they wont they aspect was disturbing as regardless of the outcome he is still a minor. They do in fact end up together just in case you’re wondering. I can’t help but note that if the romance was flipped so it was an older man and a below age girl, there would be an uproar and the film would never have been made yet that seems to be ignored here, suspect.

I also thought this film suffered from some of the worst pacing I have seen in the last year, it felt double its run time and far outstayed its welcome bringing in more and more subplots and side stories that you just don’t care about.

On a positive note, I thought there were things to enjoy here. I liked the charming strangeness of the whole thing and thought that there were a number of very funny scenes, whenever Bradley Cooper came on screen and wrecked something or threaten someone that always got a laugh out of me. I also thought the film had a really strong soundtrack that helped it out in various different ways.

Overall, the film has enjoyable elements, Cooper, the soundtrack, some laughs, but the icky romance and terrible pacing really bring it down for me.

Pros.

Cooper

The soundtrack

A good few laughs

Cons.

The icky romance

The pacing is awful

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