Friday, 8 January 2016

2015 - A Year In Film In 140 Characters Or Less.

2015 is like so last year already! But for my own benefit more than anything else, here's all my mini-reviews I published on my Twitter account for films released last year handily gathered together in one place. This is by no means every film I saw, but just the titles which I felt compelled to post a succinct '140 characters or less' verdict upon. For my latest Twitter reviews you can follow me here: @M_R_Movie

In Alphabetical Order:  

Aaaaaaaah!: Unique British spin on Planet Of The Apes. Anarchic, absurd, a one note animal instincts joke unlike anything ever seen before.

A Christmas Horror Story: Multiple concurrent narrative takes some keeping abreast of, but it's great grisly fun full of Xmas (mean) spirit.

Age Of Kill: Raises zeitgeist issues of racial tension & terrorism in a thriller format, but is neither thrilling & as a polemic it's vacant.

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night: Hypnotic, narcotic, darkly romantic. Striking monochrome visuals & a haunting, ageless dreamlike quality. Special. 

American Sniper: Excels at raw, visceral, tense action, but at the expense of the human drama or any political or ideological standpoint.

American Ultra: Mis-sold as stoner comedy it's more a violent action / romance. Leads have real chemistry but film is discordant & unengaging.

A Most Violent Year: Steeped in gritty '70s cinema heritage, uniquely a crime film about resisting the lure of gangster morality. Impressive.

Amy: Candid, tragic, warts n' all portrait of a tortured soul girl. Supremely talented, but a walking contradiction. Life as a losing game.

Ant-Man: More comedic & yes...smaller scale than usual Marvel fare. Rudd is inspired casting & Douglas adds gravitas in a charming, fun romp.

Area 51: The movie equivalent of an alien anal probe - a horrible, confusing experience & thoroughly painful to endure.

Awaiting: Strong performances & a tragic edge in a gritty n' grisly slice of rural Britsploitation taking its cues from Misery & The Loved Ones.

Backcountry: Languid build-up full of suggested menace shifts into graphic horror, all the more gruelling due to earlier character investment.

Bait: Dwells on punishment prior to payback.A brutal, bloody revenge thriller with blackly comedic streak which extends to the post credits animation.

Beasts Of No Nation: The loss of innocence, the cruel cost of conflict. A harsh, haunting depiction of the evil that men (& boys) do.

Big Eyes: A more low-key, reserved & reflective diversion from Tim Burton's usual output. Adams is terrific, Waltz is terrifically hammy.

Big Game: Enjoyable nonsense. High concept, stunning location & winning chemistry between leads helps mask just how utterly ludicrous it is.

Big Hero 6: This Disney / Marvel dream team brings the best of both worlds. Great action, charming characters & stunning animation / design.

Birdman: Illusion, delusion, ego & art. Theatre as pure cinema, a savagely satirical fantasy & a stunning directorial tour de force.

Black Mass: Meh-fellas. Solid cast on a well-trodden gangster movie path. A one dimensional Depp evokes Pesci's "funny how?" act throughout.

Blackwood: Decent, atmospheric, if somewhat venerable ghost story. Has a refinement & rustic charm absent from its Hollywood counterparts.

Bone Tomahawk: The Searchers meets Cannibal Holocaust. Classic Western scenario mutated into uncompromising, shocking & visceral horror.

Bridge Of Spies: Assured, enthralling, dry wit & drama by masters of their craft who make this look effortless. Spielberg's best in a decade.

Burying The Ex: Playful zom-rom-com with affable cast & trademark Joe Dante genre-referencing japes, including the customary Dick Miller cameo.

Chappie: As tonally conflicted & uneven as some of its haircuts. Feels like two completely different films haphazardly crow-barred together.

Cobain Montage Of Heck: An intimate, haphazard scrapbook of a life - as chaotic, unfocused & fractured as its gifted but conflicted subject.

Cooties: The kids aren't alright in reasonable paedophobic horror / comedy with some decent one liners, grisly setpieces & amiable cast.

Cop Car: Very much in Coen's territory with dark humour, flawed protagonists & twitchy tension. Bacon is ace, the kids even better. Terrific.

Creep: Lo-fi, low budget shoe-gaze psychological shocker which is all stalk & no slash. Found footage, lame jump scares, utter tedium.

Cub: A twisted rites of passage fable which shifts tone from breezy boys own adventure into dark & disturbing horror mythology. Impressive.

Dead Within: Cabin fever in a crisis. A slow-burn psychological meltdown in a study of harrowing isolation, anguish & disorientation.

Deathgasm: Deranged & demonic. In your face splatter & metal up yer ass. The new wave of New Zealand genre cinema delivers another winner.

Demonic: CSI meets Most Haunted via flashback, found footage & jump scares aplenty. Bit disjointed & formulaic but not without its moments.

Digging Up The Marrow: Meta creature feature in mock-doc form. Wickedly inventive & cleverly executed, an open love letter to monster movies.

Dismembering Christmas: Strictly amateur hour seasonal slasher trash. Fleeting gore scenes & performances of the level of a school nativity.

Everly: Owes a debt to hard-hitting Asian cinema, with style & sadism of Oldboy. Virtually plotless, but dishes out brutality by bucket load.

Ex Machina: A new world of Gods & Monsters, a cerebral, unpredictable three-hander thriller of perception, deception & manipulation. Superb.

Extinction: An unusual spin on the zombie genre. Downbeat & drawn out, snowbound & slow moving. An austere, intimate apocalyptic drama.

Fantastic Four: All build-up & no payoff. You can see what Trank was aiming for but the result is clearly severely compromised & truncated.

Fear Clinic: Good looking low budget horror. Promising concept rather under-explored. A film of fears & phobias which isn't very frightening.

Final Girl: As much Hanna as horror. A smart tables-turning meta slasher, Breslin ace as Little Red Riding Hood who chews up big bad wolves.

Foxcatcher: Three career best performances in a film laden with dread which wrestles with themes of power & control but it failed to grip me.

Fractured: Memento meets Jacob's Ladder. Disturbing nightmarish visions & graphic violence abound in a rather confused & confusing film.

German Angst: Urban underground anthology of hardcore horror. Misery, suffering, Nazi cruelty, guinea pigs & the year's messiest demon sex.

GirlHouse: A contemporary slasher mix of Big Brother & Babestation. Certainly delivers on eye candy, sleaze & frequently nasty violence.

Good Kill: Personal & ethical conflict over an impersonal & voyeuristic military conflict. More provocative & balanced than American Sniper.

Goodnight Mommy: Genuinely twisted & unnerving. A dysfunctional family nightmare peppered with disturbing imagery. Final twist is a stunner.

Hard To Be A God: Somewhere between visionary masterpiece & endurance test. An allegory of oppression / regression majoring in misery & squalor.

Hellions: Teen pregnancy cautionary tale in guise of blood moon-hued Halloween horror. Trick R Treat meets Inside with a pink filter fetish.

Howl: A few obvious cliches & plot contrivances aside, this is solid pulpy B movie fun with a great basic premise & well crafted atmosphere.

Human Centipede 3: Like a wailing, attention-seeking child desperate to offend & antagonise, insufferable, puerile trash for morons.

Inanimate: Good to have a new slime & spittle-dripping creature feature, though this drags initially & is little more than The Thing on a boat.

Inherent Vice: Shaggy, baggy, borderline incomprehensible rambling paranoid stoner noir. It's a garbled & sprawling patience-tester.

Inside Out: Intelligent, imaginative concept beautifully executed & stunningly animated. Not Pixar's very best, but puts them back on track.

In The Heart Of The Sea: Old fashioned matinee adventure yarn in scope, updated with state of art FX. Entertaining, but I was firmly #TeamWhale 

It Follows: Night Of The Demon reworked as an STD. Has a nice line in disorientating dream logic, but crucially not the slightest bit scary.

John Wick: Threadbare plot, massive body count, cool cars, sharp suits, oozes neon style. Plays like the video game adaptation you longed for.

Jupiter Ascending: A deranged DNA splice of The Matrix & Dune. Visually opulent, largely incoherent, madder than David Icke on crystal meth.

Jurassic World: Lacks wow factor of original & characterisation is minimal, but has great setpieces & tries new ideas with a limited format.

Kill The Messenger: Fine cast & a fascinating true story, but doesn't dig too deep beneath surface. Very much All The President's Men lite.

Kingsman: Thankfully more like Kick Ass than Kick Ass 2. Tonally all over place, but it's a lot of irreverent, energetic, ultra-violent fun.

Krampus: Less Rare Exports, more a Charles Band Demonic Toys with a budget. Not quite Gremlins levels of twisted Xmas spirit, but good fun.

Last Shift: Supremely spooky ghost story in unusual setting. Brilliantly builds dread & unease. Genuinely creeped me out more than once.

Lost River: Somewhere over the rainbow to Lynch / Refn territory. Visually arresting, abstract, devoid of identity. A directorial dog's dinner.

Mad Max Fury Road: Like injecting a speed ball directly to your brain, a visually stunning feast of vehicular carnage played out at amp-blowing levels. Astonishing.

Maggie: An intimate, emotional apocalypse. Bleak, brooding - a slow rot wallowing in doom & despair. Arnie emotes, but it's Breslin's film.

Mississippi Grind: Evocative slice of 70's tinged Americana. Has the smokey bourbon aroma of sleazy back road bars. Both leads on top form.

Monster Hunter: With its winter palette & convincing depiction of isolated community, this is a superior slow-burn, solemn creature feature.

Ouija: Not great, but no worse than all the other mainstream 15-rated horrors. Tame & predictable, it's just extraordinarily ordinary.

Out Of The Dark: Odd hybrid of paedophobic horror & environmental conspiracy thriller. A few effectively eerie moments, but nothing special.

Phoenix Incident: Like Battle LA in a desert, a found footage alien / war film with a shoestring budget, nosebleed editing & migraine visuals.

Pod: For much of its duration all paranoia, angst & hysteria & a bit of a slog, rescued by a macabre final act with added Larry Fessenden.

Poltergeist: Lacks the spectacle & rollercoaster quality of original. Not entirely worthless but incredibly generic & instantly forgettable.

Preservation: Deliverance for the smart phone era. Dull hunters get hunted set-up redeemed by unexpected assailants & gritty final girl action.

[REC]4: Doesn't reinvent the ship's wheel, but high seas setting is used well with a nice line in maritime weaponry. A few nods to Braindead too.

Red Machine: Erratic pacing aside a decent & frequently nasty wilderness romp with a strong cast getting eaten by a really pissed off bear.

Rendlesham UFO Incident: Mostly it's generic found footage wandering around in woods tedium, but scenes on the airbase have an eerie quality.

Selma: Dignity in the face of bigotry, bravery over brutality. A powerful portrait of historical events rather than a comprehensive biopic.

Seventh Son: Entertaining tosh with over-qualified cast. Less po-faced than other recent fantasy romps. Bridges on top scenery-chewing form.

Sicario: A morality minefield as the rules of engagement are twisted. Blunt is ethical beat in heart of darkness, but it's Del Toro's film.

Slow West: Hugely enjoyable revisionist Western assembled via colourful characters & quirky setpieces. Bittersweet, brutal, blackly comedic.

Son Of A Gun: Solid unpretentious B movie. Not much depth to it, but as part prison drama / part heist caper it delivers enough gritty action.

Spectre: Retains the maturity of Skyfall but crucially remembers Bond is about escapism too. A mix of old & new, my fave Craig era entry.

Spring: A Lovecraftian love story. Poetic & potent, a haunting, heartbreaking meditation on the bliss, beauty & brutality of nature. Superb.

Star Wars:The Force Awakens: Perfect symmetry between past & present. Passing the torch to new generation with maturity, spectacle & wit. Magnificent.

Stonehearst Asylum: Classy production values, stellar cast & rich Gothic atmosphere. A venerable drama which explores a twisted conundrum.

Straight Outta Compton: Overlong & oversimplified. The first half captures vibrancy & danger of the music, second half descends into soap opera.

Stung: Enjoyably trashy creepy-crawly creature feature. More '80s infused than SyFy schlock, this is gooey, gory & slimier than a Tory MP.

Suburban Gothic: A scattershot Scooby Doo inspired spooky spoof. Quirky & quick-witted with great character work, it's a lot of madcap fun.

Taken 3: Utter nonsense obviously & edited to the point of incoherence, with sanitised violence, but as an undemanding action romp it's about passable.

Ted 2: The deafening sound of silence through lack of laughs audible over the noise of a barrel being scraped. Charmless, witless, TED-ious.

Terminator Genisys: Part reboot, part reworking, subverts previous timelines to point of incoherence. Has its moments but incredibly messy.

The Asylum: Grungey, gory, populated with largely unlikable characters. It's Night Of The Demons with grim aesthetic of the Evil Dead reboot.

The Avengers Age Of Ultron: Overlong, spins too many plates & Whedon's individual stamp feels absent, but in terms of global scale, scope & spectacle a triumph.

The Atticus Institute: Above average mock-doc, overdoes obvious jump scares, yet cultivates growing sense of events spiralling out of control.

The Dead 2 - India: Sparsely plotted but captures the chaos, carnage & confusion of an outbreak against an impoverished backdrop. Decent.

The Demon's Rook: Feels like it was buried alive in the '80s & has just clawed its way out. Bursting with retro rubbery FX & surplus splatter. Ace.

The Diabolical: What initially appears a generic paranormal chiller deviates into sci-fi territory & becomes far more intriguing & original.

The Editor: Part tribute, part irreverent giallo spoof. It's Berberian Sound Studio as pure exploitation with the emphasis on blood, boobs & butts.

The Entity: Peruvian found footage horror possibly loses much in translation. It's confusing & covers familiar ground, but has a decent twist.

The Falling: Amorphous, enigmatic mystery / fringe horror creates dreamlike off-killter aura via subliminal imagery & unsettling ambiguity. Terrific.

The Final Girls: The smartest, sharpest, wittiest meta slasher since Tucker & Dale. Inspired genre subversion via film within film format.

The Hallow: Outsiders encounter rural superstition & fear in part fairytale / part supernatural Straw Dogs. An eerie, assured creature feature.

The Interview: Scatological, wildly misjudged lowbrow drivel desperately lacking in satirical bite. Freedom of speech has a lot to answer for!

The Invitation: Slowburning & sinister. Relentlessly builds paranoia & tension towards its shocking & savage endgame. Stunning final shot.

The Lazarus Effect: Slick & spooky in places, if nonsensical mainstream chiller. Not bad, although essentially a mad science spin on Pet Semetary.

The Martian: A '50s B movie plot with blockbuster credentials. The science of survival, visually arresting, emotionally gripping, great fun.

The Mirror: Found footage variant on the haunted mirror horror standard. Takes a while to find its feet, before its macabre & grisly payoff.

The Salvation: Traditional western with timeless themes of vengeance & redemption, but a contemporary flavour. Brutal, visceral, impressive.

The Samurai: On the edge of a dark forest & the periphery of sanity a modern twisted fairytale dripping with surreal psychosexual symbolism.

The Theory Of Everything: A biopic of a life & love rather than a career. Skirts close to soap opera at times but performances are flawless.

The Treatment: Complex police procedural. Tackles its controversial subject without compromise. Gruelling, gripping, but a VERY tough watch.

The Tribe: A brave, brutal trip into the human abyss played out in sign language & subtext. Stylistically & thematically a tough proposition.

The Visit: Pointless use of hand-held video footage. Intensely annoying child stars. Obvious twist. Still M Night's best film in a decade!!!

The Voices: Deliciously demented fusion of Psycho & Dr Dolittle - tonally rotating humour, pathos & genuine darkness. Reynolds is revelatory.

The Walk: The climactic walk is pure white knuckle spectacle, pity the rest of film is Allo Allo comedy French accents & dodgy CGI seagulls.

The Witch: Fading light, blighted land, an ancient evil lurking in the shadows. Overwhelming dread & utterly unnerving. Believe the hype.

These Final Hours: Solid, stylish, bittersweet apocalyptic odyssey, but lacks gritty impact of The Road or emotional punch of Miracle Mile.

Turbo Kid: Genre-blending splice of VHS-era cultdom. Just about gets away with a curious mix of sweet-natured sentiment & explicit splatter.

Vendetta: What the Soska's prison-based revenge drama lacks in believability it makes up for in bone-crunching violence. Dumb, brutal fun.

Wax: Cheap, clunky ode to sleazy euro gothic horror. Graphic torture, gratuitous nudity, cannibal surgeons & Paul Naschy. Watchable trash.

We Are Still Here: Genre veterans add touch of class to eerie indie which nails a retro vibe, faithfully riffing on Fulci, Romero & Raimi.

Werewolf Rising: A turkey in wolf's clothing. Low budget lycanthrope tedium which could easily pass as one of those schlocky Howling sequels.

We Still Kill The Old Way: A film where psychotic old time gangsters are the good guys ', I've no idea! Utter bilge.

When Animals Dream: Solemn, portentous & angst-riddled. The drama mirrors its bleak backdrop, but hits its horror stride for the final reel.

Whiplash: Blood sweat & tears in a musical bootcamp. Jazz as a white-knuckle warzone. Simmons superb as tyrannical ball of seething rage.

Wild: What could’ve been an overly sentimental journey to redemption is grittier & underpinned by grief & trauma. Witherspoon really goes for it.

Wild Card: Low-key mix of downbeat drama & bone-crunching brutality capturing an austere '70's infused vibe thanks to William Goldman's involvement.

Wolves: Far less Twilight-y than I feared. Decent action, strong supporting cast & stylish direction. A minor, but watchable werewolf entry.

Wyrmwood: Anarchic Australian splatterpunk zombie romp. Ferociously full-on, frantic paced, frequently insane & relentlessly gory. A blast.

Young Ones: A desolate, downbeat, dystopian drama in three acts. Has the serious tone & austerity of pre-Star Wars '70's science-fiction.


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