Film Scene February 2016
It’s officially awards season and that means the best and brightest movies are hitting cinemas throughout the month. As well as new films, a lot of the best award contenders are enjoying a second run in theatres, so don’t miss out on catching a real cinematic gem at your local picture house.
FILM OF THE MONTH: THE BIG SHORT – 5 stars (out now)
The Big Short manages to couple intelligent filmmaking with mass-market appeal to tell it’s relevant, disturbing and hugely important story to as wide an audience as possible. It’s the most coherent and engaging explanation of the financial crisis seen so far, with a keen eye for the truth and an unwavering desire to educate whilst being entertaining. A group of men work independently of one another in the world of high-finance. Predicting the credit and housing bubble collapse of the mid-2000s, they all decide to take the biggest gamble of their lives by challenging the big banks and financial institutions for their greed and ingrained corruption. An amazing ensemble featuring Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt and Christian Bale guarantee this as one of the best films of the year.
TRUMBO – 4 stars (out Feb 5th)
In 1947, Dalton Trumbo (Bryan Cranston) was Hollywood’s best screenwriter, but his political beliefs led to him, along with other artists, being jailed and blacklisted. What follows is a remarkable true-story that charts the golden era of Hollywood’s most fascinating hidden tale. Cranston is majestic and the supporting talent is supreme with the likes of John Goodman, Diane Lane, Michael Stuhlbarg and Helen Mirren on show. And check out Dean O’Gorman’s scene-stealing turn as screen legend Kirk Douglas – utterly flawless.
POINT BREAK – 3 stars (out Feb 5th)
It looks like remakes are here to stay so I won’t delve into that particular argument right now. However, the reimagining of a classic can sometimes work out well. Point Break has a loyal fan-base but ultimately this feels like a different film altogether – albeit one with all of the memorable scenes from the original still attached. Rookie FBI Agent Johnny Utah (Luke Bracey) goes on the trail of a group of extreme sports athletes committing high-scale crimes. Led by Bodhi (Edgar Ramirez), Utah finds the lines blurred between his job and his desire to live life. The dialogue wavers but the action is truly spectacular, with a wing-suit flight and a sheer waterfall climb leaving you particularly breathless.
13 HOURS: THE SECRET SOLDIERS OF BENGHAZI – 3 stars (out now)
Michael Bay has his detractors but he does make cinema a grand and affecting spectacle at times. This is certainly the case with this compelling true story – one that highlights a little-known but very significant conflict. Elite ex-military operators are assigned to protect the CIA when terrorists attack a remote U.S. diplomatic compound on September 11, 2012. Six men had the courage to do what was right when surrounded by bureaucracy and red tape, so set off on an unsanctioned mission against astronomical odds to save lives. It might run a tad too long but ultimately this is a captivating true story that features some great central performances, especially John Krasinski and James Badge Dale.
RIDE ALONG 2 – 2 stars (out now)
Hardened cop James Payton (Ice Cube) is still dealing with his soon to be brother-in-law Ben Barber (Kevin Hart), who is fresh out of the academy and looking to prove himself as a police officer. When a case takes him to Miami, James reluctantly brings along Ben as a favour to his sister on the eve of her wedding. Once in Miami, the cop duo work alongside local detective Maya (Olivia Munn) to shut down the workings of Antonio Pope, a corrupt public figure (Benjamin Bratt). It’s watchable and an improvement on the first but it’s instantly forgettable and should have aimed higher on practically every level. Tim Story’s direction is also heavy-handed and aims for dated style over substance far too often.
DIRTY GRANDPA – 2 stars (out now)
To help out his Grandpa Dick Kelly (Robert De Niro), his grandson Jason (Zac Efron) agrees to drive him to Florida. But it turns out Dick intends to hit spring break and wants Jason to live a little before he gets married to Meredith (Julianne Hough). What follows is a drink and debauchery fuelled ride that reveals what Dick is really like as a person, while Jason learns some important home-truths about his own life along the way. Dirty Grandpa is an odd comedy. There are laughs to be had – some even belly-laughs – with De Niro and Efron making a good central paring. But the story is weak and held together by slight gags and crass laughs. Hopefully both leads make better choices moving forward.
GOOSEBUMPS – 3 stars (out Feb 5th)
Horror author R. L. Stine has delivered many memorable stories for young adults over the years. The Goosebumps movie follows suit and delights throughout. Teenager Zach (Dylan Minnette) crushes over the mysterious girl-next-door Hannah (Odeya Rush), just as weird things start happening in the neighbourhood. Jack Black is excellent as Stine and the scares hark back to a gloriously spooky era of old. Light scares and kooky fun for all of the family.