Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The End (2016) and the New Beginning (2017)

Blog Readers,

For anyone loyal enough to continue reading this blog and all the chapters that have gone into it, thank you. But, it is time to leave.

I have other priorities in life and no longer wish to dramatise the film game. Instead, I am taking one step closer towards my dream of being involved once again in the game. I hope I see you there.

Love always, Robert Naumoff.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Blackfish (2013)

Director: Gabriela Cowperthwaite
Starring: Kim Ashdown, Ken Balcomb, Samantha Berg, Dave Duffus, Howard Garrett, Dean Gomersall, John Hargrove, Carol Ray, Jeffrey Ventre

Strong-moral story focusing on the past history of an orca known as Tilikum who was captured from the wild and served as a performer at SeaWorld Orlando. The story, however, focuses around the death of trainer Dawn Brancheau and Tilikum's dark past that has also resulted in two deaths and other disasters in similar situations.

Fascinating movie certainly has an agenda, as most of the people interviewed were former trainers at SeaWorld and friends of Dawn who no longer work in the industry, and it sets out to explain in all sorts of details the problems that come with captive animals of its calibre. The aftermath of the films release attracted such great attention that Worldwide it has changed and will continue to change the operation of animal captivity forever.

Director Cowperthwaite has a picture perfect handling of the subject matter and allowing certain people to tell their stories completely also makes it an honest experience, though for certain people they will see it's major fault in not getting much said from the other side of the argument. Then again, you could imagine anyone from SeaWorld discussing matters officially as an omission of guilt. It's not necessarily for the faint of heart and at times intensely plugs at your heartstrings, but one things for sure, you'll never attend an animal show with the same attitude again.


Friday, December 9, 2016

Bad Neighbours 2: Sorority Rising (2016)

Director: Nicholas Stoller
Starring: Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, Rose Byrne, Chloe Grace Moretz, Ike Barinholtz, Carla Gallo, Kiersey Clemons, Dave Franco, Jerrod Carmichael, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Beanie Feldstein, Selena Gomez, Hannibal Buress, Lisa Kudrow

With the upcoming arrival of their 2nd child, Mac (Rogen) and Kelly (Byrne) have decided to sell their house and upgrade. The couple interested in buying the property places a 30-day escrow, which means they can check the house whenever and the deal can be broken within the time specified. In a nearby sorority, Shelby (Moretz) becomes mortified at the sexist rules and, along with two other freshmen, decides to open their own sorority, next door! Meanwhile, Teddy (Efron) is recovering from his best-friend Pete's (Franco) recent engagement which leads to Teddy's eviction from the house.

Still bits of fun to be had in this average, and nowhere near as good as the original, sequel to the first Neighbours film - of which it is known everywhere apart from the UK and Australia to avoid confusion with the long-running soapie. It essentially runs with the same idea, as they did with Hangover 2, but on a larger scale trying to outdo themselves. The only set piece noteworthy is Rogen's attempt to steal the girls weed during a college event.

Rogen has great chemistry with both Byrne and Efron which is the reason for its success, but the premise gets mostly out of hand as the filmmakers are building larger not smarter. Moretz, the new kid on the block, teams well with her co-founders of Kappa Nu, Clemons and Feldstein. Gomez plays the Phi Lambda President. Kelsey Grammer appears as Shelby's father. Be warned, this is really targeted at those of us who around the same age (late 20's/early 30's) to which family and foundations are growing.


Thursday, December 8, 2016

Suffragette (2015)

Director: Sarah Gavron
Starring: Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter, Meryl Streep, Natalia Press, Anne-Marie Duff, Romola Garai, Ben Whishaw, Brendan Gleeson, Samuel West, Adrian Schiller

Married mother-of-one Maud Watts (Mulligan) has worked in a laundry all her life, but rarely has she witnessed the brutality of a suffragette riot, a women's organisation fighting for womens rights to vote. Noticing a fellow colleague (Duff) as a member, she is caught up in the concept and eventually encouraged to testify in court for womens rights. While convening with other members to hear the decision of the courts, she witnesses the police brutality towards the women and ends up arrested, in jail and struggling to find a meaning for it all.

Fictitious tale, though surrounded by well known activists of the Suffragette movement including the suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst and extremist Emily Davison - who sacrificed her own life for the cause - written, produced and directed by women is a tale that strongly needs to be told and is an interesting venture since we now face similar amends with the Gay Marriage movement. Everyone should be encouraged to witness what is probably a pretty accurate account of what happened and how long it took for womens rights to be such an important issue, though by the end of the film you still have the relentless thought 'was it all worth it?', and of course it was.

With the star power of young Mulligan, staunch Bonham Carter as reformed doctor Edith Ellyn and the legendary status of Streep, who appears only in several scenes, there is also quality work from Duff (Nowhere Boy, The Last Station) and Press (My Summer of Love). Interesting as another slick venture for writer Abi Morgan who previously helmed screenplays for The Iron Lady and Shame. An important project, if not a completely uplifting experience. Hopefully this will be viewed as part of the school curriculum; it has my vote.


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

Director: Zack Snyder
Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter, Gal Gadot, Scoot McNairy, Callan Mulvey, Tao Okamoto

During the battle of General Zod (Michael Shannon) in Metropolis, Bruce Wayne (Affleck) witnesses the destruction of Wayne Tower, deciding once and for all that Superman (Cavill) is a blight on the human race. As Wayne sets out to destroy Superman, Clark Kent - Superman's alter ego - looks to expose the truth behind Wayne's alter Batman. The pair discover that entrepreneur Lex Luther (Eisenberg) is trying to force the Senate to allow the importation of Kryptonite while justifying his own plans to learn and control what Zod left behind.

The first of the DC Extended Universe, created after the success of 2013's Man of Steel, has failed in attempting to give Snyder, who is becoming increasingly hit or miss, a completely unlicensed hook on what could have been an amazing creation. Yes, it looks pristine but that's what you would expect for $250 million. Many critics have accused it of having no heart, and while the very familiar graphics that hark of the September 11 attacks and the eventual War on Terrorism are strongly prevalent, why do we need to keep being brought back into this reality. It's a comic book series and needs to be more accessible and light-hearted. Not all of us want to continually relive the horrible plague we witnessed. We just want to be entertained.

I did watch the 'Ultimate Edition', which includes an extra 30 minutes of footage, and yet the entire storyline is too large and too confusing. The casting of Affleck left a huge social media backlash before the production even began and I can't defend the choice; his one noted-performance leaving much to be desired. The Man of Steel gang all do their jobs nicely while a newly cast Eisenberg as Lex Luther is actually quite imposing while Israeli actress Gadot who appears as the reformed Wonder Woman fails to materialise much. Among the other familiar faces throughout include Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Kevin Costner and other Justice League alumni's Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa and Ray Fisher while Jena Malone appears in the extended addition.

It's major issue is that we've seen it all before and we've heard it all before. Demons and dragons, Gods and monsters. It is all so familiar and not one joke to be shared amongst anyone. While it may have been one of 2016's most disappointing, the teenage gangs that spend their days playing violent games will find much to enjoy. Me, on the other hand, would prefer to find something else and the whole excitement surrounding the Batman v Superman fight is even a let down.


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (2016)

Director: Jake Szymanski
Starring: Zac Efron, Adam Devine, Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza, Stephen Root, Stephanie Faracy, Sugar Lyn Beard, Sam Richardson, Alice Wetterlund, Lavell Crawford, Mary Holland, Kumail Nanjiani

Brothers Mike (DeVine) and Dave (Efron) - who look almost nothing alike - live their lives as alcohol salesmen and living the high life. When their sister Jeanie (Beard) announces her wedding in Hawaii, the pair are warned that their family events always end in disaster thanks to them and they must behave and invite real dates. The pair agree and advertise on Craigslist which goes viral and gets the pair on The Wendy Williams Show. Out-of-luck besties Tatiana (Plaza) and Alice (Kendrick), recently fired for partying to hard, decide to exploit the boys for a free holiday.

Based on the apparent real-life Craigslist advertisement that went viral in 2013, which was the inspiration for the memoir Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates: and A Thousand Cocktails, written by the boys who brought us the Seth Rogen starring Neighbours and directed by a Saturday Night Live alumni, this frigid, annoying party of disgust can't call itself a comedy if it's only chuckles come in the form of the abuse poor Beard cops from a committed massage therapist.

The four leads are playing such unpleasant, and dreadfully unfunny, people that nothing is redeemed by the end credits. Even Kendrick, the most likely to charm her way through, is painfully terrible. Jake Johnson appears quickly as the girls boss. It's simply one more unfriendly and overtly rude comedies wildly spread out from the Hollywood machine that isn't worth any time or effort from anyone. In fact, I find it hard to think of anyone who could really find this more than slightly amusing.


Monday, December 5, 2016

The Shallows (2016)

Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Starring: Blake Lively, Oscar Jaenada, Brett Cullen, Sedona Legge, Angelo Jose Lozano Corzo, Jose Mabual Trujillo Salas

Nancy (Lively) is a former medical student, whose mother recently died, returning to the spot her mother visited when she was pregnant. A secluded surf beach in Mexico, Nancy literally has the place to herself apart from two locals who should know better - how naive they must all be. Taking one last ride, Nancy is attacked by a Great White who bites her leg. She takes refuge on a Whale carcass before heading to a protruding coral rock waiting for rescue.

Modern take on the Jaws theme, last seen seriously (not Sharknado style) in the 2010 Australian-made The Reef, takes vaguely the same premise and, after a boring first 20 minutes, eventually becomes a great cat-and-mouse-chase. What's slightly frustrating is that a 17 million dollar budget gets you this and Blake Lively when I'm pretty sure you could have made exactly the same film for less with an unknown and have exactly the same result and probably more success.

For director Collet-Serra, whose last three films have featured leading man Liam Neeson cashing in on the Taken series, this is his first horror film since 09's Orphan and is a marked improvement visually compared with that and his debut House of Wax, though we could probably put that down to the beautiful Australian location and the incredibly attractive Lively, who takes the 'James Franco in 127 Hours' treatment and actually makes a good job of this since she's essentially the only actor. Here's some trivia; producer Matti Leshem first feature comes after a successful producing role for the USA Rock Paper Scissors League Championship. Yes, if America wanted to milk more money from itself, they've had to make Rock Paper Scissors a professional sport!


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Room (2015)

Director: Lenny Abrahamson
Starring: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Sean Bridgers, Joan Allen, William H. Macy, Tom McCamus

A young boy called Jack (Tremblay) knows nothing of the make believe world outside the trapped garden shed he calls Room. Here he lives with his mother Joy (Larson), who was kidnapped as a teenager by the man they call Old Nick (Bridgers). Trying to live optimistically, Joy finally confesses that Jack is old enough to learn the truth and explains that there is a live waiting for them outside these walls and the two begin their venture of escape.

Emotional adaptation by Emma Donoghue from her own best-seller is troubled on the basis that it can't possibly live up to the imagination told strongly in the novel from Jake's point-of-view. While Donoghue and director Abrahamson, a mostly art-house director from Ireland, do a good job at keeping things on track, it's hard not to wallow in its own self pity and depressive state and even though young Tremblay is a remarkable find for a seven-year-old, the beauty of 'Room' realised in the book could have been explored more, while other aspects such as Joy's attempted suicide later in the piece is washed over without explanation.

Larson holds her wits and strengths about her while Allen is magnificently cast as her staunch mother. McCamus is the real winner, a perfect juxtaposition to the familiar faces around us. Macy, while great, is left with a small presence - almost cameo-like - and only briefly has an affect on those around him. And that's really the way I feel about the film, that only briefly affected me and a lot was only briefly explained or exploited. Stephen Rennicks sweeping score harks of Elmer Bernstein's To Kill a Mockingbird theme.