A poor man’s Shutter Island, overcompensated by far too many plot twists.
I really enjoyed Shutter Island so I was interested to see this as it looked like a similar concept… sadly, it falls way short.
Lockhart (Dane DeHaan) is a brash young executive who has been sent by his colleagues to a rehabilitation center in Switzerland to bring back Pembroke (Harry Groener), in order to secure a business merger – but bringing him back becomes much harder than he imagined.
What starts out as a promising and intriguing tale with a beautiful backdrop of the Swiss alps, ends up in a whirlwind of horror clichés. I love a good plot twist, but this plot twists back and forth so many times you just want to slam on the breaks. There really is such a thing as ‘too much of a good thing’.
I’m not sure if the story is just not expressed well enough or if it literally didn’t make sense, but several times near the end I felt like I needed to consult a second party to explain what was going on. Don’t get me wrong, i’ve seen films where confusion has actually built more suspense; but this was confusing to the point where you start to lose interest.
On the plus side, it does give you an uneasy feeling which stays with you after you have left the cinema. I always appreciate films that can give you an ongoing experience after you’ve seen them, even if unpleasant.
The film really does have all the ingredients for a top-shelf thriller, it’s just the storyline which lets it down greatly.
A Cure For Wellness premieres in Sweden on 17 February.
David Lynch – The Art Life isn’t just for David Lynch fans, but for all creatives. There’s nothing like seeing someone with such passion for their work to get you itching to start new projects yourself.
This Kickstarter-funded film is very much a documentary’s documentary, clocking only 90 minutes in length. I’m sure many know Lynch predominantly for television and film work; but for those who haven’t seen his multimedia paintings and illustrations they are just as wonderfully disturbing and this is worth checking out just for the art alone.
You might think from the darkness he manages to conjure up through his work and art that Lynch was from a broken home or had a traumatic childhood, but this was actually not the case. In fact his life story isn’t especially eventful and perhaps this is why it took so long to be told in the first place. But the spotlight is always brought back to the art life, as Lynch himself describes: art, coffee and cigarettes.
The story ends quite abruptly after we reach the point where Lynch has shot his first feature-length film, Eraserhead. I suppose the die-hard fans whom this is targeted towards already know the rest from that point onwards, but I would still have liked to know his thoughts on how his life changed after he tasted success.
I’m not sure if others will find this as inspiring as I did; it made me want to start up all the creative endeavours I had let slide. But there’s one thing I know for sure: this is one incredibly cool 70-year-old!
David Lynch – The Art Life premieres in Sweden on 14 April.
Split should satisfy both horror and thriller fans, and most certainly M. Night Shyamalan fans will see this as a strong return to form.
Teen classmates Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy), Claire (Haley Lou Richardson) and Marcia (Jessica Sula) are kidnapped by Kevin (James McAvoy), who suffers from Disassociative Identity Disorder. With 23 different personalities and talk of a frightening new personality to soon show himself, the girls must try to find a way to escape.
James McAvoy does an amazing job at projecting Kevin’s different personalities with clarity and ease; in some scenes doing one after the other. Anya Taylor-Joy does well as the troubled Casey but I wish she didn’t remind me so much of Kendall Jenner as I think I could have warmed to her character a bit more otherwise.
Disassociative Identity Disorder is an extremely interesting subject in and of itself, and this gives it an extra dimension when compared to a bog-standard horror film.
As director, producer and writer of the film, Shyamalan is in full knowledge that his audience will be expecting plot twists. He doesn’t disappoint here, you may even find yourself being double-bluffed as I did!
The film is probably more of a 3.8 than a 4, but i’ve rounded it up for simplicity’s sake.
For the most part sleep-inducingly boring, Jackie has a few fleeting moments of brilliance.
JFK (Caspar Phillipson) has recently been shot dead, and Jackie Kennedy (Natalie Portman) is recounting recent events to a journalist (Billy Crudup).
Limiting the timeline of events to shortly before and after JFK’s death, there is so little story to work with. Perhaps the makers wanted to avoid copying too much from the 2011 miniseries The Kennedys, starring Katie Holmes. However the lack of material brings all focus in on Natalie Portman as Jackie Kennedy.
Natalie Portman’s portrayal of Jackie has its good points and bad points. Impersonations aside, she brings her acting chops into play. Especially in one harrowing scene, where Jackie has the heart-wrenching task of wiping her face of the remains from the gunshot that just killed her husband. But convincingly mimicking the former first lady for the full film is beyond her. She manages to get glimpses of Jackie at best. For one she simply doesn’t look enough like her. But it’s the inconsistency of her vocal performance which is the major flaw. Sometimes it sounds remarkably good and sometimes it sounds forced or exaggerated. This makes quite a big difference – rather than being able to forget about the voice and move on, you are constantly reminded that this is Natalie Portman doing her best Jackie Kennedy impression.
The casting department at least did well finding decent lookalikes for JFK and Robert Kennedy (Peter Sarsgaard). The costumes and overall feel is also very well done. Unfortunately the bad points outweigh the good by a long way here.
Come on, Bryan Cranston, James Franco and Keegan-Michael Key – what were you thinking? It’s a crying shame that this group of fine actors would sink so low as to appear in this. I can’t imagine how much of a dud it could have been without them.
Stephanie (Zoey Deutch) is dating millionaire gaming tycoon Laird (James Franco) and it is finally time to introduce him to her father Ned (Bryan Cranston) and family at Laird’s mansion. Together they are like chalk and cheese; Laird’s unconventional nature and penchant for curse words drives Ned crazy, in spite of the fact that Laird is hell-bent on making a good impression. German estate manager Gustav (Keegan-Michael Key) adds an extra dose of whacky to proceedings.
Understandably there is a clash of personalities but it doesn’t make much sense that Ned is completely unimpressed by the fact that his daughter is dating someone who could afford to provide and look after her every want and need. Surely this is something that a father ought to be elated about?
Let’s be honest, this is a film that never needed to be made. If you really fancy watching a movie about a disapproving father, watch Meet the Parents.
The trailer is a pretty good indication of what you’re in for. Why Him? premieres in Sweden on 25 December.
Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) and Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence) are passengers on board a start-of-the-art spaceship ‘The Starship Avalon’, travelling from Earth to inhabit a new colony planet. 30 years into the 120 year journey, a malfunction in the ship causes Jim’s hibernation pod to open too early. Unable to reset the pod, and with only an android bartender named Arthur (Michael Sheen) for company, Jim must consider his options.
The prospect of being stuck on a spaceship hurtling through space alone with no hope of escape is a really interesting premise; reminiscent of Alien and Moon. This makes for a really strong start to the film. Passengers starts out in sci-fi thriller territory but unexpectedly ends up in romance, somewhat killing the tension that had been built up. Luckily there are just enough plot twists to keep you entertained regardless. Although if I had a choice, I would have preferred things to remain in the same vein throughout. There was potential there for a far more intense (and less cheesy) storyline.
Chris Pratt is perfect as the regular, down-to-earth guy Jim. This takes up the slack for Jennifer Lawrence as Aurora, who is a little more up tight and therefore harder to relate to. The Starship Avalon is almost a character in itself, with its hi-tech automated messages and assistant holograms. The vastness of the unpopulated ship helps to give an eerie feeling, similar to the hotel in The Shining. Yet its luxurious design scheme adds so much to the overall look and vibe of the film.
Finally, It’s nice to see a big budget film come out that isn’t part of an existing franchise! Passengers premieres in Sweden on 21 December.
For those who are unaware, Rogue One is actually a Star Wars Anthology film – a standalone story which is set within the Star Wars universe; but not part of the sequel trilogy. This means the main characters from other Star Wars movies are largely left out.
The story centers around Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) and Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) who are on a mission to steal the plans for the Death Star – a superweapon developed by the Galactic Empire with the capability of destroying entire planets.
From the locations and sets to the costumed background characters and aliens, the Star Wars universe has been utilised to full effect with beautiful results. There are many visually stunning scenes.
It is actually refreshing the fact that this is a standalone movie that hasn’t been stretched out or watered down in order to fit into a set number of installments. I think this is what makes it superior to The Force Awakens, it feels more complete.
The story is a little complex and difficult to follow at first, but don’t stress – as the film folds out everything starts to become clear and make sense. It can be a little confusing when place names sound like character names and vice versa!
My misgivings about Rogue One largely center around the lacklustre lead characters. It’s not that there is anything ‘wrong’ with them as such, they just can’t hold a candle to the likes of Luke Skywalker, Hans Solo, Princess Leia or even Queen Amidala in terms of likeability and charisma. Jyn Erso’s character doesn’t feel fresh, as her look and personality traits are much like Rey from The Force Awakens – she might as well be the same person. This lack in strength of the new characters becomes further apparent when Darth Vader makes a brief but welcome appearance in a couple of scenes.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story premieres in Sweden on 14 December.
Manages to pull at the heartstrings, despite the fact that it’s a Will Smith movie.
Let’s face it, Will Smith’s likeability factor has plummeted since his early days in The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. It’s not for lack of acting skills – he just lacks the charm and charisma he once had. His role in Collateral Beauty is no exception, but in spite of this it still holds up as a decent film overall.
Howard (Will Smith) is a key partner in a successful New York advertising agency until his world falls apart after the death of his only child. As he decends into deep depression, the firm is in danger of collapsing unless his business partner Whit (Edward Norton) and colleagues at the agency Claire (Kate Winslet) and Simon (Michael Peña) can figure out to find a way to get through to him.
Edward Norton is one of my favourite actors, but I was most impressed with Dame Helen Mirren’s performance – her understated acting really carries things along and helps you to really get into the film.
You may be left scratching your head a bit at the end as it is left to the viewer’s imagination to determine exactly what has transpired. I’m not sure if this was tactical or just lazy script writing, but it didn’t seem to piece together as elegantly as it could have done. Nonetheless, there is a nice message in it – and if you’re willing to go with it you may end up teary-eyed as I did! There’s even a cosy Christmas vibe thrown in, which is most welcome but unfortunately loses some relevance for Swedish audiences seeing as it won’t be released here till next year.
Collateral Beauty premieres in Sweden on 4 January.
If you’re already an Oasis fan (and I guess you wouldn’t be going to see this if you didn’t at least like the band) get ready to like them even more than before. Hearing the songs with cinema-sound gives them a whole new life, almost guaranteed to make you want to go home and listen to them again.
Produced by the team behind the Amy Winehouse documentary ‘Amy’, Supersonic covers the time shortly before the band was formed, up until they played to a 2-dates sold out Knebworth in 1996. Also included is a little background on Liam and Noel growing up. The documentary is comprised mainly of audio interviews with Liam, Noel and their mother Peggy. The focus here is solely on the band, surprisingly not even a mention of the Blur rivalry.
As with most documentaries, there isn’t much groundbreaking material that we haven’t heard before; although I did find it interesting to hear more about their childhood and it helps you to appreciate why Liam and Noel are the way they are. I would have liked to see some visual footage of the interviews rather than just the audio. For the most part it worked well to use the audio over the top of photos or videos of what was being spoken about. But it was clear in some parts that they needed to fill-in with visuals; at one point they had some animated drawings to describe what was being talked about in the interview, which felt a little odd.
The thing which really comes across here is the unique attitude of the Gallagher brothers – that it was never just about the music but rather the whole package.
There have already been some promising comments from Liam about a possible Oasis reunion at the film’s premiere, Liam has stated “If it happens tomorrow, I’m ready, my bags are packed, If it happens in a year, I’m still ready, if it happens in 10 years, I’m still ready.” There’s nothing like seeing this film to get you hyped up for that!
Oasis:Supersonic premieres in Sweden on 14 October.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt delivers in a film that everyone should see.
Snowden is a biopic covering the life of Edward Snowden (Joseph Gordon-Levitt)
shortly before he joined the CIA, during the time he served as an NSA contractor, and when he broke the story to the world. You see his life as a whole – his experiences at work and how it affected the relationship with his girlfriend Lindsay Mills (Shailene Woodley). Many people already know the basics about Edward Snowden but not as many know about his personal life, so to see the full picture is especially interesting.
Even though he may not seem outstanding in the trailer (actually, the trailer does not do the film justice at all), Joseph Gordon-Levitt does incredibly well. He is able to mimic Edward Snowden’s voice and mannerisms so well, that after 5-10 minutes of watching you can completely forget that he isn’t the actual Snowden and just sink into what’s going on.
Accuracy can be an issue with biographical films. I feel shortchanged if I find out later that the story was fabricated. In this case, Edward Snowden himself has said that the film is “pretty accurate”. There is also the issue of predictability – it isn’t a work of fiction where anything could happen. This is overcome somewhat by the focus on life outside of work – a side which most people are unfamiliar with. Not only that – it’s shot in such a way that even in scenes where you know what happens you can still feel suspense and tension.
Most importantly, Snowden brings the issue of online privacy rolling back into focus. We use devices on a daily basis and it’s easy to forget we should be aware of the implications of this. There’s a huge difference in hearing news reports and actually being presented the information in this way. There is a clear and important message here, yet it manages to stay entertaining and enjoyable as a film. I had a similar feeling after seeing ‘Spotlight’ – but even more so, seeing as this affects almost everyone.
A certain politician is called to account – and not a politically correct callout by any means. I won’t name who it is because I don’t want to spoil the film, but I will say I respect the director Oliver Stone greatly for not being afraid to show someone popular in an unfavourable light.