*NEW* CAPTAIN FANTASTIC REVIEW *NEW*

It really was fantastic.

In the forests of the Pacific Northwest, a father (Viggo Mortensen) devoted to raising his six kids with a rigorous physical and intellectual education is forced to leave his paradise and enter the world, challenging his idea of what it means to be a parent.

I wasn’t sure from the bizarre opening sequence whether I was going to like the whole Bear Grylls/Swiss Family Robinson vibe to the piece BUT by the end, I was completely won over.

Endearing, entertaining and heartbreaking. A feel good family film in the most dysfunctional way possible. This might even rival Little Miss Sunshine.

I couldn’t believe that this was penned and directed by that creepy guy from Big Love.

Matt Ross delivers a heartwarming story that tackles grief, rites of passage and the woes of the modern society brilliantly.

The unorthodox upbringing may raise a few eyebrows but it almost worked. A strict regime of self defense, intellectual discussions and living off the land is something that I couldn’t even muster (Let alone the majority of the younger generation).

Their campfire Kumbaya may have been a little corny BUT it established a crazy but close-knit family unit hidden in a nirvana away from the real world. Or was it?

There was a quirky and easygoing feel to the piece and with all the crazy get up they were wearing, you could have mistaken it for a Wes Anderson flick!

No?

It wasn’t long before tragic news forced the family to emerge from their natural habitat. And this was where it won me over.

The cast were perfectly chosen. The only one that grated against me was Rellian (Nicholas Hamilton). As much as you could feel for the poor lad, his incessant screaming and temper tantrums really got on my wick.

George MacKay (Sunshine on Leith/Pride) was very good as the socially awkward Bo secretly applying for college behind his father’s back.

I loved all the contrasts and social commentary; “Why is everyone fat? Are they sick?” There were some witty one liners as Ben and co. couldn’t believe the obesity and mindless brainwashing from the merciless corporations on the masses.

“You would rather celebrate a magical fictitious elf over a living humanitarian who did so much for our human rights?”

I loved the comparison of parenting styles when Ben visited his sister’s family. Kathryn Hahn (Bad Moms) and Steve Zahn (Dallas Buyers Club) were brilliant. Not enough of them in my opinion.

It was hilarious when Ben showed off his children’s knowledge on The Bill of Rights while his sister’s kids were too busy with their heads in their phones or X-Boxes.

The journey was mad BUT entertaining as the family made out they were bible bashers just to evade a curious copper’s questions about the kids’ truancy.

I was startled at Ben educating his youngest on sex, rape and capitalism. Mental. Even crazier when he faked a seizure in a supermarket for OPERATION SAVE THE FOOD so the clan could fill their boots.

The last 30 minutes was where it really hit home when Ben decides to gatecrash his wife’s funeral despite his father-in-law’s wishes.

Virgo Mortensen deserved the Oscar nod. You could see beneath all that intellectual sparring that there was a tormented man struggling to deal with the loss of his wife. Unsure what to do.

Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon) was superb as the angry father in law. Blaming Ben for taking his daughter and grandchildren away from him. Deluding them into believing this way of life was acceptable.

BUT as much as you were impressed by the kids’ education and survival instincts, they were completely lost when it came to social interaction and as the story progressed, you realised that they might not be as into the idea as their grief-stricken father.

Things reaching boiling point when Bo finally decides to talk about his college application as Ben begins to re-evaluate himself.

I should have known with Alex Somers orchestrating the score that Sigur Ros’ Jonsi would pop up in this. A wonderful soundtrack.

I was pleasantly surprised and even on second viewing, it still had me through the highs and lows. 

A heartfelt, engaging family drama that is worthy of your attention.

4/5 Just!

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*NEW* THE BEST AND WORST FILMS OF 2016 REVIEW *NEW*

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First thing’s first, HAPPY NEW YEAR! A BIG THANK YOU (Look, it’s in CAPITALS) for all the views, likes and comments. You guys are alright.

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION? See more movies obviously.

Nah. Try and read more of your awesome posts!

December was a poor month for my movie viewing. Work and blah blah blah didn’t give me much time so I have yet to see Rogue One. I know, SACRILEGE. Call yourself a film critic.

I like to be awkward when picking movies. My criteria is simple. Picking 10 films I saw in 2016. So there may be a couple that you may argue are technically speaking 2015. In the words of Donnie Brasco, forget about it.

I look for films that surprised, entertained and engaged me. There have been so many films that have put me to sleep or have had me on my phone already complaining about said film before it’s even finished (Pretty much my criteria for worst films).

I picked the films that made an impression or made me laugh, cry or think. I’ve provided links for my reviews if you want a complete breakdown of my thoughts.

 

MY TOP 10 FILMS OF 2016

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It’s great when you go into a cinema expecting nothing and get rewarded with a gritty slow burning and well acted Texan noir thriller.

https://youtheman77.wordpress.com/2016/09/24/new-hell-or-high-water-review-new/

 

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Vikander and Fassbender brought their fiery chemistry to ignite this wonderfully heart rending affair.

https://youtheman77.wordpress.com/2016/11/07/new-the-light-be…ceans-review-new/

 

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Strange, hypnotic, gripping. After all the hype, I was afraid this wouldn’t deliver. BUT oh boy, did it!

https://youtheman77.wordpress.com/2016/11/30/new-nocturnal-animals-review-new/

 

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So good that I haven’t done a review yet. I’m working on it. The Return of the King (Ba-dum-tsssh). Mortensen was superb as the father devoted to raising his six kids in the wilderness. Easygoing feel good drama.

 

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Probably one of the best Marvel movies going!

https://youtheman77.wordpress.com/2016/10/12/new-captain-amer…l-war-review-new/

 

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QT is back with a tense and ultra-violent Western. It’s everything you could expect from the Pulp Fiction director and I loved every minute.

https://youtheman77.wordpress.com/2016/02/05/new-the-hateful-eight-review-new/

 

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Larson deserved the Oscar for her stellar performance.

https://youtheman77.wordpress.com/2016/02/01/new-room-review-new-2/

 

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Hard hitting, shocking and brilliantly acted. A must watch.

https://youtheman77.wordpress.com/2016/05/02/new-spotlight-review-new/

 

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Crowe, Gosling, Black. You can’t go wrong. My review might be a little picky BUT I had the pleasure of watching this again and enjoyed it so much more.

https://youtheman77.wordpress.com/2016/09/11/new-the-nice-guys-review-new/

 

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I was torn between this and Bridget Jones’s Baby (I know. Whaaattt?! It was actually pretty good) BUT I went for the HP spin-off. Redmayne was brilliant and Rowling was able to expand on the ever-growing world that has entertained me for the last decade.

https://youtheman77.wordpress.com/2016/12/17/new-fantastic-be…em-3d-review-new/

 

MY TOP 10 WORST FILMS OF 2016

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Absolutely bloody dreadful. Jennifer Saunders sold out with this shambolic effort. A review will turn up eventually. BUT trust me, it’s bad. And I was a fan.

 

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As much as I love Natalie Dormer, I did not love her in this.

https://youtheman77.wordpress.com/2016/04/12/new-the-forest-review-new/

 

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That creepy atmosphere couldn’t hide what was a drawn out and mind numbing disappointment. Review to follow.

 

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This unnecessary reboot was doomed from the start!

https://youtheman77.wordpress.com/2016/03/29/new-dads-army-review-new/

 

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I remember rushing to the cinema wondering why it was only on for 4 days. I soon find out the answer. Yikes!

https://youtheman77.wordpress.com/2016/01/30/new-the-5th-wave-review-new/

 

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The anger. I’m sure I used a fair amount of expletives on Twitter to express my feelings on this feeble effort.

https://youtheman77.wordpress.com/2016/08/15/new-now-you-see-me-2-review-new/

 

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The horror, the horror! I hated the first one and for the first 20 minutes of this, I was almost about to eat my own words BUT then it got worse.

 

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I was so excited to see this and by the end, I wondered why they brought him back. It must have been for the money because it wasn’t for the plot and character development. Bourne seemed to know less than he did before. I think I fell asleep at one point. Shame.

https://youtheman77.wordpress.com/2016/08/26/new-jason-bourne-review-new/

 

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As much as I loved watching Lily James kicking zombie ass in a corset, the tone was all over the place. It failed to be scary or funny and was dreadfully dull. So dull it put me off reviewing the thing.

Well, that’s my excuse anyway.

 

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A shame that this is going to be one of Anton Yelchin’s last efforts. This failed to grab me even with Captain Picard playing a Neo-Nazi.

https://youtheman77.wordpress.com/2016/09/14/new-green-room-review-new/

 

And so concludes my mini-review of 2016. I have to say that I was a little disappointed with the entries this year.

Disappointing comic book yarns (*Cough* Batman Vs Superman *Cough* Suicide Squad *Cough*)

The reboots, the remakes (Point Break), the unnecessary sequels (The Mechanic: Resurrection).

Let’s hope 2017 will bring us a little more joy and originality, eh?

 

*THROWBACK REVIEW* TWO FACES OF JANUARY

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Two stars for Two Faces, more like. A real shame. A beautifully shot and well acted reboot of a regurgitated plot line that has been done so many times before and so much better by its supposedly “dated” predecessors.

The film revolves around a con artist, his wife, and a stranger who try to flee to a 1960s Greece after one of them is caught up in the murder of a police officer. At its core, it’s a film noir. A genre that I am an avid fan of. The only problem is that just because it has the story of one, does not make it so. Or make it any good for that matter.

Two Faces opens with Rydal (Oscar Isaac – Inside Llewyn Davis), a Greek speaking American tour guide that impresses and cons the rich tourists that come across his path. He only takes what he needs and we soon get an insight into the way he works. A slow burning but watchable opening as Rydal scouts the picturesque Acropolis waiting for his next target.

However, the next couple to be caught in his cross hair are the MacFarlands (No, not of the Family Guy variety but the powerhouse that is Viggo Mortensen and the lovely Kirsten Dunst).

Rydal soon becomes intrigued, obsessed, with Chester (Mortensen) and he weasels his way into the couple’s vacation. The opening does feel like you’re watching the actors on holiday (but in costume, obviously). With the beautiful Greek landscape caught by the talented cinematographer Marcel Zyskind, I was happy to let it carry on chugging along (Enviously wanting to go on holiday as each minute ticked on).

Mortensen’s presence and performance is the major highlight in this film. He has proven countless times before in Lord of the Rings, Eastern Promises and A History of Violence that he can deliver the goods. Even the little things; his looks and grimaces flesh out a character that should be stocky.

His paranoia and curiousity as to why Rydal is watching him creates a little suspenseful encounter. Rydal undercutting him with every sale between the market traders makes a good little running joke. BUT it’s all rather tame. Even the playful sexual tension brewing between Dunst and Isaac under Mortensen’s menacing, watchful eye feels like it won’t go anywhere.

David Warshofsky’s (Captain Phillips/The Mentalist) creepy detective soon bursts the bubble of bliss and drops the bombshell that (surprise, surprise) the MacFarlands are not who they seem. A predictable, if violent, altercation with Chester leads to them becoming fugitives on the run.

The first act of this piece was actually quite watchable and suspenseful. It’s just a shame that the film goes downhill after that. The flailing pace dips in and out, reprieved only by moments of frenzy from Mortensen and tense but predictable encounters with border patrols.

There are a couple of twists along the way, but if anything it could kills the little tension that was keeping this film going and to be frank, just disappoints. Dunst’s character was hardly memorable. Anyone could have played her. It seemed more a game of wits between Chester and Rydal, with Dunst’s Colette being a really poor bargaining chip.

I mean an exchange between her and Rydal left things a little cryptic; did they get together? Did they do . . . anything? But it all doesn’t surmount to anything. If not for Mortensen’s decline into depravity and his paranoia turning him into a volatile drunk, the film would have been a complete write off.

The films soon comes to an inevitable chase around the cobbled streets of a Turkish village which picks up a meandering movie and makes for a predictable but engaging finale.

My main issue is it had the cast, the look, but no heart or real story. Zyskind’s cinematography is impeccable. He’s even able to make the rubbly ruined Greek outback a sight to see. It seemed that director Hossein Amini had just painted the little drawings by numbers, hoping no one will notice. Looks good but something was missing.

I would invest in a “dated” classic noir. Because although the music and acting may be a little OTT, they are still better than poor affairs like these.

2/5 for me.