peteg's blog - noise - movies

Doctor Zhivago

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What to do on a cool evening but chug through a David Lean classic for the second time.

No Country for Old Men

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A Josh Brolin jag. Always good to see Woody Harrelson and Kelly Macdonald, and Tommy Lee Jones in the lead. Did Javier Bardem ever reach these heights again? Echoes of Apocalypse Now. Still #159 in the IMDB top-250, at least until the next Marvel event.


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Al Pacino directs a stagey, campy filmed production of Oscar Wilde's play, compulsively. It has its moments. Jessica Chastain plays the title character in her first role on film. Roxanne Hart is imperious as her mother the queen, who has similar marital arrangements as in Hamlet. The dialogue is arch and over invested in affect.

Glenn Kenny on this and the companion doco Wilde Salomé just this month, though both films date from half a decade ago. Digging into the archives, Sheryl Lee played Salomé back in Pacino's first attempt in 1992, and Marissa Tomei in 2003.

Deadpool 2

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$10, The Ritz, 9:30pm, cinema 5, opening night. Loads of millenials who got all the pop-cultural references I missed. Some funny bits, especially the mid-credits timeline cleanup. The action was an almost complete waste of time, and the references to other movies doubled down on the lameness. Chances are the coming Solo flick will be better.

A. O. Scott.

Office Space

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It's been too long but I remembered almost all of it. Hilarious. I see writer/director Mike Judge is responsible for Silicon Valley amongst other things.


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The Ritz, $10, 9:20pm session, Theatre 3, four rows from the front. Maybe ten people total on this opening weekend. Had dinner at Arthur's for the first time in an age.

This is Simon Baker's passion project: an adaptation of Tim Winton's novel from about ten years ago, set in the 1970s. While it was good to see Rachel Blake (still happily married to Tony Martin?!?) and Richard Roxburgh play a low-key, almost characterless but supportive married couple, the young blokes had to do all the heavy lifting, which was sometimes asking a bit much. Elizabeth Debicki is little more than a passive aggressive flirt. Baker himself is a generic surfing cypher. Apparently Winton did the voiceover. Some of the cinematography is gorgeous (the sea, the towns of Albany and Denmark, ...), and I enjoyed it, but was there anything we hadn't seen before?

The local press were out in force, and as boosterish of the provincial produce as ever. John McDonald is not a fan of Tim Winton, and wishes there were fewer coming-of-age Australian movies. Paul Byrnes. Luke Buckmaster. Jason Di Rosso carefully separates Winton's work from Baker's. David Stratton. The long list of funding agencies reflects the film's troubled history.

The Man from Earth

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Still fun on a second viewing.

Avengers: Infinity War

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1:10pm session, The Ritz, $8 'cause Tuesday, beaut day, six rows from the front, hardly anyone there. They're still running heaps of sessions, despite school being back.

The whole thing is a general bummer. Roughly this is what happens when an individual superdude becomes too powerful; played straight, without the plot holes, it would have been even more dire. There is too much credulity and incredulity; Josh Brolin (huge and purple, solid) was doing well on that front until he got to one of the boss levels (which didn't even have a proper boss!) where he bows to ancient, noseless mythology (and where was Hugo?). There are some funny touches, far funnier than the stagy Guardians scenes, such as when Robert Downey Jr knights the latest Spiderman actor, and Thor retaining his taste for Kiwi humour. The hordes are about as interesting as the orcs in Lord of the Rings. And really, who wants to see Wakanda laid waste?

Somehow rated #9 on the IMDB top-250, biggest opening in history, but I don't think it's a classic; it's too much like the first Matrix sequel. I can only imagine a revitalised Wolverine taking the next one anywhere worthwhile.

A. O. Scott, and he had another go about the ending. Sam Adams. Stephanie Zacharek, and I agree that Tom Hiddleston and Zoe Saldana were (relatively) great.

Full Metal Jacket

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Sunday afternoon, 4:30pm at The Ritz Cinema 1, downstairs, $10, a 35mm print as part of their Stanley Kubrick revival. Perhaps at 5-10% capacity. Last seen about five years ago. Slipping down the IMDB top-250 (now #95). Also timely: R. Lee Ermey recently passed. They played the soundtrack while we were waiting, but not the famous outro pairing of the Mickey Mouse Club and the Rolling Stones's Paint it Black. The pre-show was hopelessly retro, with "coming attractions" being the shorts for Paths of Glory, Spartacus, Taxi Driver and The Shining.

This movie is entirely unforgettable, and mostly does not pay rewatching. It remains almost beyond belief that they could recreate wartime Huế and its Imperial City on a studio lot in England, and the old Beckton Gas Works on the edge of London.

Kubrick owes something, and also pays some homage, to Apocalypse Now, most notably with a passing shot of the iconic tropical sun. We also get a mouthy colonel (whose lines I confuse with Robert Duvall's) and a film maker on the edge of the action. I just discoved that Vivian Kubrick made a making-of documentary, echoing Hearts of Darkness.

Vincent Canby reviewed it for the New York Times.

The Pirates! Band of Misfits

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An Aardman Animations effort from 2012, a jag from Early Man. It's more misfires than misfits. Clearly someone has realised this and tried to overstuff humour into the details. (For instance, one of the ship's rules is that pigs are not to be used as cannon balls.) We get a not-very-respectful play on Charles Darwin and Queen Victoria, amongst other historical personages, which seems a bit weird. The plot is entirely cookie cutter; like a Pixar flick but totally soulless. The monkey is a poor substitute for a claymation Gromit. The voice cast is a vast collection of British actors.

Manohla Dargis.

Isle of Dogs

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The Ritz, $8 on this tight arse Tuesday before Anzac Day, 9:50pm, not many people, four rows from the front of Cinema 3. The lastest Wes Anderson stop-motion, and sure enough the technique was totally fab. Conversely the story is a bit weak, barely rising above a generic quest decorated with risibly shallow and cliched dichotomies. (The cats of Megasaki play the same role they did in The Godfather; was it beyond imagining that four-legs-good might find reasons for alliance?) The pack got a bit tedious, perhaps because Anderson is at his best with characters who are unapologetically dependably awesome (cf Fantastic Mr Fox, which I saw recently and didn't write up, and the fabulous The Grand Budapest Hotel; here we get Spots and eventually one or two others). I found it a bit disturbing to see the Japanese being lectured on democracy by a very young American exchange student (Greta Gerwig), and were those mushroom clouds? About the only 1980s Japanophilic trope he doesn't pull in was Godzilla, but that may have been sitting up the back of the community hall.

Dana Stevens. Indeed, and what a montage. Manohla Dargis. Anthony Lane.

The Interview

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Another Hugo Weaving jag. This one dates from around the middle of what seemed at the time (1998) to be an endless golden era of Australian cinema. Tony Martin took time off from Wildside to play a slightly different cop. After a promising first half or so, things fall apart a little too tendentiously to be bothered with. I wonder if there's much of that kind of Australia left now; many people in Melbourne would kill (heh) for as much living space as Hugo had in his doss house.

Red Sparrow

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I can sort-of see why Jennifer Lawrence signed up for this: it was probably pitched as a sequel to both Black Swan and Hunger Games (the latter and this directed by Francis Lawrence); something certainly worth getting your kit off for, and don't sweat the accent. Really it's a paint-by-the-numbers Cold War 2.0 effort that goes exactly as you'd expect, inexorably, with a side of graphically awful torture porn. Joel Edgerton and Jeremy Irons are both squandered. I guess the short worked its magic on me.

Manohla Dargis somehow found it "preposterously entertaining". I reckon they should have done the whole thing as a montage.

The Matrix, The Matrix Reloaded, Matrix Revolutions

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It's been a while, and once you start on the first one you've got to go all the way. The first remains a classic, and the second two remain classic cash-ins. A Hugo Weaving jag from The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui.

Early Man

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$10 at The Ritz, 4:30pm (second and final session on this opening day), four rows from the front of Theatre 4. Had a coffee at Isabella's Spot beforehand. About four people total in the audience. Amazon Prime Instant Video produced, and the BFI et al. I haven't been to the cinema in an age.

This is Aardman Animations's latest. I had (and still have) fond memories of their classic Wallace and Gromit efforts, and even their previous more broadly commercial stuff like Chicken Run. Their stop-motion technique is better than ever, with some amazing effects, but the story is a tired one of the genesis of football, which apparently happened after lunch somewhere near Manchester a long time ago. There are some funny bits and solid sight gags. The characters are forgettable.

A. O. Scott.

Team America

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Last seen about nine years ago. The Bush era strikes back? Things are almost the same, except that Kim Jong Il has passed.

American Beauty

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I saw this a long time ago, probably around about when it came out, and forgot most of it. Rated #64 on the IMDB top-250. Spacey got an Oscar for it, but quite often he seems to slip into a robotic mode. The idea of blackmailing the company you work for must have been in the air in 1999. Annette Bening is good too. Otherwise I still don't feel there's a lot to see here.

Kick Ass 2

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Pretty dire on a second viewing, being stuck uncomfortably between the pseudo reality of the first movie and the unreality of high school and coming-of-age. Perhaps director Jeff Wadlow didn't know how to make something of what he inherited.

L.A. Confidential

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It's been a while. Still #106 in the IMDB top-250.

Kick Ass

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Over a very late dinner. I like Nic Cage's performance here; very locked down; a complement of sorts to Wild at Heart. Chloë Grace Moretz's finest outing?