100 Word Review – Super (2010)

Not a super hero movie. 

When his wife leaves him for her drug dealer, an ordinary man becomes the Crimson Bolt, a hero as fallible and unextraordinary as he is, but in a red suit.

Written/Directed by James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy, Slither) and starting Rainn Wilson (The Office, Juno) and Ellen Page (Juno, Inception), this film is funny but extremely dark.

Think Kick-Ass but simultaneously bleaker and more brilliant.

Gunn’s twisted sense of humour fits perfectly with Wilson’s wonderfully awkward timing and skill. Not suitable for kids and barely suitable for adults, this film’s sad, dark and unmissable.

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100 Word Review – Being John Malkovich (1999)

Craig (John Cusack) a puppeteer with a failing career finds a portal that allows him inside the mind of famous actor John Malkovich, where he starts to put his skills to work.

Written by Charlie Kaufman (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Adaptation) and directed by Spike Jonze (Where The Wild Things Are, Her), this film was always going to be an unusual movie.

With John Malkovich playing himself and co-starring Cameron Diaz and Catherine Keener, this film is weird, dark and completely trippy. The acting is superb and there are moments of dark humour that make it thoroughly watchable.

100 Word Review – Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

It’s not often you see Jim Carrey in a serious film, and I’m not sure why because he’s brilliant in this.

At the end of their relationship, Joel (Carrey) and Clementine (Kate Winslet) undergo a procedure to have each other removed from their memories.

As would be expected with a film written by Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation) and directed by Michel Gondry (Be Kind Rewind, The Science of Sleep), it’s equal parts wacky and beautiful.

The film is far from linear and takes you on an extraordinary journey filled with romance, laughter as well as darkness and despair.

100 Word Review – Where The Wild Things Are (2009)

Based on the award winning children’s book by Maurice Sendak, this film is an exploration of the dark and wonderful imagination of a child called Max.

A young boy called Max (Max Records) runs away from home following a tantrum, retreating to a world of his own imagining full of wild beasts who hail Max as their King.

James Gandolfini, Paul Dano, Forest Whitaker and Catherine O’Hara provide voices for the wild things. Adapted and directed by Spike Jonze (Her, Being John Malkovich) it retains much of the awe inspiring magic of the book while adding a more complex plot.

100 Word Review – Saw (2004)

Although Cary Elwes will always be Westley, this has to be counted among his best performances. Ignore the rest of the franchise and consider this as a stand alone work of art and horror.

Two men (Elwes and Leigh Whannell) wake up in a dingy bathroom to find they are chained to the wall as part of a sick game set up by a notorious serial killer, with only a saw to help them escape.

It’s emotional, visceral and twisted, with enough plot to keep you on your toes throughout. This isn’t a slasher; it’s a psychological thriller with gore.

100 Word Review – Network (1976)

“I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

When an ageing news anchor (Peter Finch) announces his suicide live on air, TV execs (Faye Dunaway, William Holden, Robert Duvall) look to exploit the spike in ratings.

Directed by Sidney Lumet (12 Angry Men, Dog Day Afternoon), this film won 4 Oscars including both Best Actor and Best Actress, and was nominated for a further 6.

Dark, cynical and provocative, it is a magnificent example of the power of filmmaking, successfully hitting a little too close to home no matter what decade you’re watching it in. Currently #181 on IMDb’s Top 250.

100 Word Review – Room (2015)

Adapted from the best selling novel by Emma Donoghue by the author herself, and directed by Lenny Abrahamson (Frank, What Richard Did), this film perfectly captures the sense of claustrophobia and terror of the two awe-inspiring leads.

Jack (Jacob Tremblay) is five. He has lived his whole life in one room with his mother (Brie Larson), visited only by their captor, Old Nick (Sean Bridges).

A heartbreaking story that there are far too many chilling modern day examples of. Tremblay is extraordinary, and Larson is well deserving of her Oscar. Currently #119 on IMDb’s Top 250, make sure you’re prepared to cry.

100 Word Review – Deadpool (2016)

This may be the perfect comic book movie.

Set in the X-Men universe, this is an origin story film for the funniest mutant around, Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds).

It’s the first feature for director Tim Miller, who was involved in the visual effects for Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and it was written by the team behind Zombieland. It’s stylised, it’s got a dry and dark sense of humour, and it shows a tongue-in-cheek self-awareness which is missing from the more run-of-the-mill comic book movies.

Even the opening credits are hysterical. It’s not suitable for children, but definitely for everyone else!

100 Word Review – The Voices (2015)

The best word to describe this film is ‘weird’.

Jerry (Ryan Reynolds) is a likeable mentally unstable man working a dead-end job. When he follows the advice of his pets and pursues his office crush (Gemma Arterton) things get dark pretty quickly. And that’s just the beginning.

Written by Michael R. Perry (Paranormal Activity 2) and directed by Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis) it sits on a very stylised fence between horror thriller and quirky comedy.

If you don’t like bloody films, this is not the one for you, but otherwise do watch it. Anna Kendrick costars and Reynolds is magnetic as always.

100 Word Review – Seven Psychopaths (2012)

If I tell you this was written and directed by Martin McDonagh of In Bruges fame, that may give you a little bit of an idea of what to expect.

Starting Sam Rockwell, Colin Farrell, Woody Harrelson, Christopher Walken, Tom Waits, Abbie Cornish and Michael Pitt, it sits somewhere between comedy and killing spree.

Set in the criminal underbelly of LA and following a struggling screenwriter (Farrell) in a search , it is as bat shit crazy as you could hope for. Expect violence and dark humour from the outset and it

The moral? Don’t mess with a man’s shih tzu.