Sunday, 26 October 2014

Doctor Who: In the Forest of the Night Review(ish)

"It's a human superpower. Forgetting"

I'm lazy at the moment and can't be bothered writing up a full review so here's a quick paragraph write-up that I did off the top of my head:

After the last two weeks brilliant episodes from Jamie Mathieson, we have a pretty crazy premise bringing together Clara, Danny, The Doctor and… a classroom of kids?

And it's pretty bad. It's in the holy trinity of bad episodes from this season (the other two being Robot of Sherwood and Time Heist). I give it a….

5/10, fairly average but watchable episode of the show. The highlight was the next time trailer though….

Sorry about the short review. Oops? I'll be less lazy next time. Maybe.

Friday, 24 October 2014

The Locals Film Review

Two best friends, Grant and Paul, hit the country road for a night of fun, but unfortunately take a short cut to their fate… where they meet the locals.

"So are you coming to the party?"

New Zealand cinema… New Zealand cinema tends to be this absolutely wonderful hybrid of five different things:

1. Terrible horror movies
2. Awesome horror movies
3. Lord of the Rings
4. Jane Campion
5. Boy

There doesn't really tend to be any differentiation between the four; literally every film falls into one of the above categories (Braindead is a prime example of awesome horror, Black Sheep is a prime example of not-so-awesome horror, and the rest are pretty self-explanatory). So which category does The Locals fall into? It falls into the category of "terrible horror movies" - the thing is, this one is actually so much fun to watch.

Some particularly memorable scenes include:

- That one time the car blows up because flimsy logic because it looked cool at that point in the story
- That one time the dude randomly knew where the other dude was for no apparent reason
- Apparently this all happened because of real estate. Damn. This is such a deep, thought-provoking, philosophical film…

In all honesty, The Locals is probably something I'm gonna watch a lot of times… but not necessarily for the right reasons. I give it….

6.5/10 - with a tighter script and better directing, this could have been a proper GOOD horror movie - however it falls flat, but remains an entertaining horror movie in that special way only bad horror movies manage.

Josiah Morgan

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Doctor Who: Flatline Review

"Life support failing!"

After last week's experience that was Mummy on the Orient Express, writer Jamie Mathieson returns with his second episode of Who history - and it looks like he's a writer to watch out for. Because both episodes he's written have been crazy good so far. As in. Crazy good.

In Flatline, the Doctor and Clara find themselves in 'the time and place you left. Ish' as something is leeching the third dimension from things (and people!) for it's supposed own gain.

The visuals in this episode are stylish as hell. Raising the questions of whether Clara is really a good person or not, as she begins to lie to both the Doctor and Danny, we're slowly beginning to get a part of the bigger picture now… that scene at the end. Ohhhh damn that scene at the end.

I mean what. If you haven't seen it yet nothing happens haha…ahhh.

On the other hand, this is the first episode this season that feels like a fluid story. So props to Mr Mathieson. Anyway. TV reviews are short. Deal with. Also busy. So yeah. Bye.

Josiah Morgan

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford Film Review

Taking place in the American Northwest in the early 1880s, the film dramatizes the last seven months in the life of famed outlaw Jesse James, beginning with the Blue Cut train robbery of 1881 and culminating in his assassination at the hands of Robert Ford the following April. In the time between these two fateful events, the young and jealous Ford befriends the increasingly mistrustful outlaw, even as he plots his demise

"You know I'm real comfortable with your brother. Hell, he's ugly as sin and he smells like a skunk and he's so ignorant he couldn't drive nails in the snow, but he's sort of easy to be around. I can't say the same for you, Bob"

For one thing, this is what Brad Pitt considers to be the best film he's been in. Think about what this means: it surpasses 12 Monkeys, 12 Years a Slave, Se7en, The Tree of Life, Ocean's Eleven… at least in Brad Pitt's mind. There are a few points that must be made to begin with:

This film is beautiful. This is the best western of all time. The score is fantastic. Andrew Dominik does an incredible job of directing here. It's all pretty crazy. 

One of the best examples of the direction (and cinematography) in the film is at the beginning with the train robbery; as the train gets closer to the James gang, and the train reaches the camera… and takes the camera with it. It's a marvel of filmmaking, as is the rest of it's rather hefty 160 minute run-time.

Now… the violence in this is reminiscent of The Godfather - it appears in small bursts, but very GRAPHIC small bursts. And it's so, so, so effective.

Casey Affleck and Brad Pitt give the best performance's of their career. You cannot argue with it. Shhhhhhh. Stop.

Funnily enough, the most affecting part of this movie isn't the assassination itself… it's what follows; finding what happens to Robert Ford after he murders Jesse James. 

If I hadn't seen Calvary earlier this year, I would believe that "The Assassination of Jesse James…."
was the best film of the century so far.

10/10, An absolutely fantastic Western. The greatest of all time (and my second favorite film of all time).

Josiah Morgan

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

The Quiet Earth Film Review

A man named Zac Hobson awakens to find himself alone in the world, and in a desperate attempt to search for others he finds only two… who have their own agenda.

"I am GOD!!!"

Ahh, New Zealand films… they're either fantastic (The Piano, Boy) or the slightly underprivileged second cousin to Hollywood (Secondhand Wedding). Luckily, The Quiet Earth falls into the former category - with a brilliant cast of just three actors, The Quiet Earth is a forgotten classic that should really be talked about more…

In the opening act, the whole film relies on a stellar performance from Bruno Lawrence to keep itself afloat. At times, he stumbles, but a lot of the time, you see some fantastic moments that not even the best character actors can manage. One of the most memorable scenes of the film is, indeed, from it's opening act - we see Zac walking down a deserted New Zealand street as it pours down with rain as he plays the saxophone.

The film also sports some interesting thematic and deeper-meaning ideas, although it never toys with them to a great extent: Zac shooting the Jesus statue before he declares "I AM GOD," the moment when he is toying with the idea of suicide etc.

The directing and score aren't anything remarkable, and the effects haven't aged well, however The Quiet Earth is still a solid watch. I won't speak of the ending, no matter how many different ways it may be interpreted, as to avoid spoilers - and I ask that in the comments you refrain from talking about the ending as well, so that the film has it's desired effect.

What's next in my NZ Film Studies class? A cult-classic gothic horror…

7/10 Stars, a solid NZ sci-fi film with it's effect deadened slightly by dated effects and sometimes clunky acting.

Josiah Morgan

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Doctor Who: Mummy on the Orient Express Review

"Start the clock!"

After last weeks events in Kill the Moon, The Doctor and Clara appear to have reconciled their relationship - at least partially - and are now saying 'goodbye to the good times' with a trip to the Orient Express... in space. But once on board, something or someone begins killing off passengers one by one... 

After last weeks emotional Kill the Moon, Mummy on the Orient Express feels like a return to the Russell T Davies era of Doctor Who - this results in a wonderfully steampunk episode, with a Moffat-era twist. And it's brilliant.

Clara is advanced further as a character here - she can officially be called a well-rounded, fleshed out character now.  The character of the Doctor himself shows even more cold-heartedness in a not-so-shocking turn of events.

The design of the Mummy is terrifying, and the guest cast - including a cameo from Foxes - provide stellar performances in what may very well be the best episode of the season yet (on par with Listen).

The visuals are quirky and experimental, especially considering what we are accustomed to. This episode re-affirms Season 8 as possibly the best season of the reboot so far!

Josiah Morgan

Saturday, 11 October 2014

The Sacrifice Film Review

Alexander, a journalist, philosopher and retired actor, celebrates a birthday with friends and family when it is announced that nuclear war has begun.

"As if the living I've been doing so far hasn't actually been real life but a long wait for it... a long wait for something real"

Sacrifice made my heart burn.

It hurt the first time, but after seeing all of Tarkovsky's filmography in order (minus The Steamroller and the Violin and Voyage in Time)… it hurts so, so, so much more.

I didn't even watch it with subtitles this time because I couldn't find a version with them, but throughout it's entire (very talkative) runtime, I sat there open-mouthed at the beauty being portrayed in front of me.

Andrei Tarkovsky is not my favorite filmmaker of all time. But he is most definitely the greatest. Ten stars is not a rating I give out easily to films… I reserve it for things I relate to incredibly personally (The Zero Theorem, Dancer in the Dark), for the films I can rewatch hundreds of times without getting bored (The Dark Knight, 12 Monkeys)… and films like this. Films which transcend the medium and leap out of the screen and sear themselves into your heart so purposefully.

I felt so hopeless yet so hopeful during this film. I would like to also extend a thank you to Eli Hayes, the reviewer who introduced me to Tarkovsky and persuaded me to watch his films.

Yet another short review, but that is all that needs to be said.

10/10. Wow.