Month: November 2014

Nightcrawler (2014)

‘There’s something of the night about him,’ a phrase once synonymous with a certain member of the British Government and which can easily be applied to Lou Bloom, the nervy, boggle eyed sociopath in Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler. Bloom, in a brilliant performance by Jake Gyllenhaal, is a gurning loner, who we first meet trying to steal wire fencing from the side of a train line. He awakes at the crack of dawn to find new job opportunities that will allow him to utilize the self-improvement/managerial patois he distills from online courses.

Becoming an eyewitness to a police rescue introduces Bloom to the world of nightcrawling, wherein amateur camera crews peddle their newsworthy footage of crime scenes to the highest bidder. With the success of some bloody footage, Bloom manages to get his feet under the table at the local news studio and sets his sights on its morning news director, Nina (Rene Russo) Seemingly comfortable to sell to only one station, Bloom evolves into an overconfident cameraman, who values the importance of getting the right shot, regardless of the methods used to obtain it.

Gyllenhaal is on fire as Bloom, managing to straddle that line between deeply unlikeable and utterly pitiful. His overwrought monologues are a particular highlight. Witness him as he spits out his verbal diarrhea to Rick, his put upon ‘intern’ played brilliant by Riz Ahmed. To Bloom, they’re passages of gold that enrapture his audience. To everyone else, they’re fluctuate between boring and deeply violent.

Nightcrawler is a beast of a film, which latches onto the jugular. Gilroy has crafted a stunning piece of work that, like Bloom himself, fascinates and unnerves in equal measure. Put simply: You need to see this film.

The Editor (2014)

Once upon a time Rey Ciso (Adam Brooks) was the greatest editor the world had ever seen. He had the skills. He had the women. He had everything. But now, after nearly losing his mind and actually losing some of his fingers, he’s reduced to working on schlocky exploitation thrillers, and being ridiculed by the cast and crew. Life takes a further turn for the worse when he becomes the prime suspect to a series of gruesome murders. As he fights to prove his innocence, he’ll encounter tenacious detectives, nudity, alternate dimensions, nudity, black gloved killers, and more nudity. Welcome to the world of Astron 6’s The Editor.

Those familiar with Astron 6’s previous work, such as Father’s Day and Manborg will already know what they’re in for with this bloody slab of Giallo inspired lunacy. Directed by Adam Brooks and Matthew Kennedy – who also wrote it along with star Conor Sweeney – The Editor ticks off all the tropes we’ve come to expect from 70s European horror. Bad hair, sexy women, rocking soundtracks, overdubbing and sometimes woeful translations. This is a slick looking film that reminded us of Berberian Sound Studio as much as it did The Bird with The Crystal Plumage.

However, as we’ve mentioned before, you can’t just ape a genre, dust your hands off and say you’re done – Death Proof we’re looking at you – there’s got to be some sort of heart behind. And thankfully, with The Editor it’s the little things that make it fun, such as the running joke that this all-American tale is actually nearer to Italy and the overblown red herrings that point the finger at everyone. Like a blood splattered Naked Gun, you don’t have to have an encyclopedia sixed knowledge of the genre to get the joke.

With each new film, the boys at Astron 6 prove their love for filmmaking and storytelling. Here, The Editor shows what they can do with a big(ish) budget. It’s bold, it’s confident and we can’t wait to see what else they come up with.

Tammy (2014)

Melissa McCarthy stole the show in Bridesmaids as Megan Price; the bolshy, loud-mouthed sister-in-law who wasn’t averse to getting down and dirty. There hasn’t been an event since that we haven’t recommended could be improved with a Fight Club. That’s why it always hurts when another Melissa McCarthy vehicle comes out and the material doesn’t do her justice. Last year’s Identity Thief was a painfully unfunny comedy that tried to fill in the cracks with sickly sweet pathos. It would be nice to say that Tammy manages to steer clear of oversentimentality and focus on quickfire gags. However, it would also be nice to say that Tammy is enjoyable film.

Despite what you may have seen in the trailers, Tammy is not a film about a woman on the run after robbing a fast food restaurant. Though they sure as hell wanted you to think that. Instead, the titular Tammy (McCarthy) ends up losing her job, discovering her husband is cheating on her and being beaten up by a deer all in one day. Tired of the shitty hand life has dealt, she decides to leave town for a bit and discover herself. Her grandmother, Pearl (Susan Sarandon) lends her her car on the proviso that she can tag along. What follows next is a road movie so banal, it’s physically hurts to see so many decent actors being used so poorly. Toni Collette, Sandra Oh and Kathy Bates all make appearances and add very little to the story. The faults of Identity Theif appear not to have been learnt and serious issues about granny’s drinking problems sit uncomfortably next to scenes of Tammy falling over. Repeatedly.

And that’s the other issue, there’s an confusing meanness to Tammy that invites us to laugh at her rather sad existence, then wag its finger at us for joining in. Before finally admitting, that yes, she is a bit rubbish and needs to pull her finger out. Meanwhile, the alcoholism storyline drifts off on the nearest breeze.

It would be nice to lay the fault of the whole film at anyone at McCarthy. However, seeing as she co-wrote and produced it as well as taking on a starring role, means our sites are firmly set on her. We’re sorry Melissa. We think you’re better than this.

The Babadook (2014)

The Babadook is masterpiece. There, we said it. ‘Pull-quote baiting hyperbole,’ we here you cry, but we honestly mean it.

Directed and written by Jennifer Kent, The Bababdook focuses on a widowed mother, Amelia (Essie Davis), and her young son Samuel (Noah Wiseman). Sam is a troubled soul who is need of constant attention from Amelia. He fears the monsters who live under his bed and closet, constructing gadgets to ward off the evil creatures. To Amelia and us, they are simply products of an overactive imagination. Amelia, meanwhile, struggles from horrifically losing her husband in a car accident. She daydreams through life, moving from home to work to home again. When Sam is removed from his school, Amelia struggles to cope with his demands and in an effort to appease him one night, she allows him to choose a book for bedtime. He chooses The Babadook, a pop-up book that warns of a creature that stalks the night. Once you know of its existence, it refuses to go away. And from there things, as to be expected, go awry.

Kent’s film is a beautifully played ghost story that in part is also a gut-wrenching allegory about loss and depression. Essie Davis gives a nuanced performance that believably intensifies as The Babadook seeks to take control of their lives. In her hands, Amelia is fragile, not because movie conventions dictate that women must be so when they face the boogedyman, but because her life has made her so. She is someone very close to the edge and the slightest wind will push her into the abyss.

The Babadook didn’t get the greatest of releases in Australia so it’s good to see the response it’s getting outside of its home country. Halloween might have gone for the year, but there is no excuse not to see this great piece of art. Simply fantastic.