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This Week's Film Reviews (Jun 15, 2018)

14 Jun 2018

No break from super hero movies.  This week sees another one in the form of an animated feature, THE INCREDIBLES 2.

BEST FILMS PLAYING:

Best Animation:

The Incredibles 2.

Best Action:

SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY

Best Documentary:
The Quest of Alain Ducasse

Best Foreign: 

C’EST LA VIE (LE SENS de la FETE)

Best Horror:

Herditary

Best Drama:

YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE

FILM REVIEWS:

BEAST (UK 2017) ***
Directed by Michael Pearce

 

BEAST is a British psychological thriver set in the small community of Jersey Island where the population are stuck and have nowhere to go unless they leave the island.

It is beneficial to know a bit about Jersey Island in order to appreciate writer/director Michael Pearce’s film.  The island is not part of the United Kingdom though the populace share a lot in common with the British including the currency of pound sterling  The island is self governing though protected by Britain’s Military.  The island lies between Britain and France close to Normandy.  The island’s landscape is stunning, especially the beaches and rocky cliffs, much like Wales, west of Britain.  Pearce’s plays his setting as a western, but a non-typical one.   There is a scene where the local folks line dance.

The film’s main actress is Irish and the actor South African.

The story revives around Moll (Jessie Buckley), who is 27 and still living at home, stifled by the small island community around her and too beholden to her family to break away.  Her over-bearing mother (Geraldine James) does not help Moll’s situation either.  When she meets Pascal (Johnny Flynn), a free-spirited stranger, a whole new world opens up to her and she begins to feel alive for the first time, falling madly in love.  Finally breaking free from her family, Moll moves in with Pascal to start a new life.  But when he is arrested as the key suspect in a series of brutal murders, she is left isolated and afraid.  Choosing to stand with him against the suspicions of the community, Moll finds herself forced to make choices that will impact her life forever.

So far so good and the film works extremely well up to this point.  It is the last third that Pearce’s film starts to fall apart, starting from the plot becoming too convoluted with a need for a plot twist, which does not take a genus to predict.  If the last 10 minutes were removed and the film ended there, BEAST would have resulted in a much better film.

The film benefits mainly from both the performances and chemistry between the two leads,  Buckley and Flynn.  Director Pearce makes good use of the film’s island setting with many of the key scenes shot on the beaches and cliffs.  Geraldine James is also excellent as the overbearing mother.  “Maybe I have been too soft on you.”  She says.  Or “Let’s be friends again,” after she gives Moll a good scolding.

It is clear that Pearce intends to show that a beast exists in every one of us, as in each of his characters.   Moll has a secret past involving her stabbing a classmate with a pair of scissors.  Pascal has quite the temper.  When he shouts at the top of his voice to Moll: “I love you.”, one can tell that is a sure sign of an abusive relationship leading to domestic violence.  Mother is beasty over-bearing and the cop who has a thing for Moll turns out quite nasty as well.  The woman cop interrogator in the film’s best scene shows her true colours suddenly coming down on Moll during a questioning: “Are you protecting the innocent or taking revenge on the world?”

Besides its flaws, BEAST is a gripping film from start to end aided by the fact that it is true that everyone (in the film and in the real world) has a hidden beast on their inside.

Trailer: https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#search/beast/1634ad8adeacebc4?projector=1

THE INCREDIBLES 2 (USA 2018) ***1/2

Directed by Brad Bird

If one is making an animated action hero movie for the family, it makes sense to make the family movie about an action hero family at that.   THE INCREDIBLES 2, the sequel to the successful THE INCREDIBLES is just that, keeping the spirit of the first one intact while introducing the new addition to the family, the tot, Jack-Jack for extra good cheer.  And of course, this baby has super powers too, not only unknown (and multiple ones) but unharnessed as yet, much to the chagrin of papa Incredible.

The super action hero family is comprised of Bob Parr aka Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) and wife, Helen Parr aka Elastigirl (Helen Hunt) with their son, Dash (Huck Milner) who has superhuman speed and daughter, Violet (Sarah Vowell).  Father’s best friend is actually a robot, Frozone, Lucus Best (Samuel L. Jackson) who can turn humidity into ice.  This is probably the only film that Jackson never gets to say the ‘mother….The family have assorted super powers that they use to fight crime, only that there is one problem.  They are not allowed to as the government has established that more damage have been caused by the super heroes fighting come than the crimes themselves.  This is observed in the film’s opening sequence when the Incredibles chase after  the villain, Underminer (John Ratzenberger) as he flees in his drilling vehicle, stopping him before destroying City Hall. But the level of damage caused by the debacle is more than the authorities can handle. Rick Dicker (Jonathan Banks) informs the Parr family that his department in the Super Relocation presses most of the acts 

With so many action movies in the theatre (especially the marvel superhero Universe and the Star Wars films - last month saw three action hero movies HANS SOLO, DEADPOOL 2 and AVENGERS) , there is the need to differentiate THE INCREDIBLES 2 from other similar genre films.  The plot therefore does not include the saving of the planet or the universe as the main issue at hand.  The main issue here is the legalization back of the super heroes - to allow them to return to fight for humanity.

Most of the actors in the original INCREDIBLES reprise their roles with  Bob Odenkirk, Catherine Keener, Sophia Bush and Isabella Rossellini, voicing new characters.

THE INCREDIBLES 2 has an over convoluted plot involving the different villains and the hypnotic shields that will all prove too much for younger kids to understand and parents to follow if they are in the theatre controlling their kids.  The film runs a bit long at almost two hours, not counting the short animated featurette.

THE INCREDIBLES 2 ends brilliantly and spiritedly, keeping the spirit of both the need for action heroes and (also the need) of the family alive! 

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5qOzqD9Rms

TAG (USA 2018) *

Directed by Jeff Tomsik

TAG the film is based on the kids playground game “Tag”.  The comedy centres on a group of kids, now fully grown up with jobs who have been playing this game every year during  the month of May for 30 years.

Sounds unbelievable?  The ads and the film itself make sure that the audience is reminded of this fact.  Based on a True Story.  But this phrase can mean a lot of things and it seems that only the main fact that the men are still playing the game is true.  All else could have been made up for what Warner Bros. hopes to be a successful box-office male comedy to the likes of THE HANGOVER or HOT TUB TIME MACHINE.

The film is based on real-life friends from Spokane featured in a 2013 Wall Street Journal article, “It Takes Planning, Caution to Avoid Being It” by Russell Adams.  When the film opens, one of the friends, a CEO, Bob Callahan (Jon Hamm) is being interviewed by a Washington Post reporter (Annabelle Wallis) when he suddenly tagged by Hoagie (Ed Helms) who has sneaked into his office after gaining employment as a janitor.  The reporter decides to follow the men on the game to write her article on the friends playing tag.

The film goes downhill from this point and very fast.  The aim of the men is to tag Jerry (Jeremy Renner in Jason Bourne mode) who has never been it during all the many years.  Jerry is about to be wed to a high maintenance bride (Leslie Bibb) and this is the perfect opportunity to tag him as he has not much chance of getting away.

There is only so much one can do with this premise.  The chases get monotonous and one can only fall down in a limited number of ways when running away or banging into things.  Expensive ornaments get wrecked, windows broken, walls bashed in are what the audience is n for.  Director Tomsik (in his directorial debut, too and he is given this sorry script and story) even resorts to some inventive filming (example: the chases in a building are brought outside with the camera showing the chase as the men run past the windows) cannot lift the film from its mediocrity. 

The script by Rob McKittrick and Mark Steilen brings in the female element to expand the target audience with the characters of the bride and also Hoagie’s wife, Anna (Isla Fisher).  Anna is very eager to get into the game (gender equality?), helping her husband aggressively.  Unfortunately none of their antics evoke many laughs.  The script calls for Anna to scream lots of vulgarities that only serve to emphasize how desperate the film is in need of laughter.  Worse still, the script inserts a message (and a very  obvious and unbelievable one at that) towards the end when Hoagie is hospitalized.  There is one coloured character, Sable (Hannibal Buress) who is not given much to do.

The film runs an hour and 45 minutes.   This is one game that has run too long.  But the film’s budget comes under $30 millions which means that it should make a bit of cash for this male adult comedy.

TAG the film is really not it!

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rQu77pgnpg

 

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