2013 Page Added – The Global Tofay

2013 Page Added - The Global Tofay Global Today

Movie-Viewing Experiences  3/3/19 – 28/3/19     

A+ = Adored Masterwork   A = Excellent   A- = Very Good   B+ = Good   B = Nice Try   B- = Scrapes Through 

C = Significantly Flawed   D = Pretty Bad   E = Truly Dreadful: Looking Into the Void   F = Absolutely Vile: The Void



HOTEL MUMBAI (2018)

A-   FIRST VIEWING   IN-CINEMA
d: Anthony Maras
CAST: Dev Patel; Armie Hammer; Nazanin Boniadi; Anupam Kher; Jason Isaacs
> a perfectly crafted film, I am proud to say that this docudrama was largely made in my hometown of Adelaide…but that is where the pride will stop because this is not a film I intend to ever watch again; very difficult viewing after the still-raw atrocity in Christchurch, this is a film about a terrorist attack…specifically the 2008 storming of the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel…and you are spared nothing; from a cinematic storytelling perspective, this is a disaster/horror movie hybrid (think Towering Inferno + Dawn of the Dead), and the tension/dread never lets up; words like exciting and suspenseful are wrong because you know that this is real, recently real, so you can only be appalled; based on a 2009 documentary, this dramatized account gripped me…but I can’t help wondering why it was made; powerful, but sickening


NICHOLAS NICKLEBY (1947)

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A-   SECOND VIEWING 
d: Alberto Cavalcanti
CAST: Derek Bond; Sally Ann Howes; Cedric Hardwicke; Aubrey Woods; Stanley Holloway
> an impressive Dickens adaptation…what it lacks in humorously eccentric characters (only Stanley makes the grade), it makes up for in nasty or pathetically eccentric characters (Sir Cedric as Uncle Ralph is one of literature’s scummiest villains and Aubrey is one of its most pitiable victims); appropriately sunless and dank with the Dickensian commentary on poverty and child abuse way up front, the film’s only major flaw is in the casting of the title character and his sister (Derek & Sally Ann…both are drippy); not up to the heights of 1935’s David Copperfield or 1946’s Great Expectations, but a match with 1952’s The Pickwick Papers
Award-Worthy Performance
Cedric Hardwicke


THE PRISONER OF SHARK ISLAND (1936)

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A-   MOVIE JUKEBOX 
d: John Ford
CAST: Warner Baxter; John Carradine; Gloria Stuart; Harry Carey; Claude Gillingwater
> in the awful US tradition of The Scottsboro Boys and the West Memphis 3 comes this historic miscarriage of justice…Dr Samuel Mudd, wrongly convicted of involvement in the assassination of Abe Lincoln, is incarcerated in a Florida hellhole…he battles sharks, deprivation, sadistic guards (one chillingly portrayed by John Carradine at his skinniest) and an outbreak of yellow fever before the government finally says sorry; one of John Ford’s few swipes at America (well…American leaders anyway), this has some brilliant sequences (the escape attempt is stunning, all silence and mottled gloom) and some unfortunate twaddle (the ever-so upset little woman at home + the cringiest of racial stereotypes + “Dixie” being played too often); exciting, well-crafted and educational, this film deserves more applause from John Ford fans


GAME NIGHT (2018)

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B+   FIRST VIEWING 
d: John Francis Daley; Jonathan Goldstein
CAST: Rachel McAdams; Jason Bateman; Billy Magnussen; Kyle Chandler; Jesse Plemons
>  I missed this when it came to the cinemas early 2018…assumed it was going to be just another broad American comedy…which it is…but it’s also often funny; a group of friends attend a private Murder/Mystery Game Night, which immediately spirals into the real thing involving kidnapping, shooting, Bulgarians, DIY surgery, a Faberge Egg, a Fight Club and a sad cop with a red dog; well-crafted comedy (I particularly like the shots where the people and vehicles look like gamepieces) ultimately works due to the topnotch comic rapport between Jason & Rachel… very Nick & Nora; a few flat spots and the usual needless sentiment, but good fun
Award-Worthy Performance
Rachel McAdams & Jason Bateman


COMPUTER CHESS (2013)

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B+   FIRST VIEWING 
d: Andrew Bujalski
CAST: Patrick Riester; Wiley Wiggins; Myles Paige; Robin Schwartz; Gerald Peary
> welcome to the 1980 world of computer boffins, geeks, weirdos, but not necessarily losers; a group of painfully nerdy computer programmers get together every year with the sole purpose of proving that their chess program can beat everyone else’s…and, eventually, will even outplay a human being; shot in B&W with old analog cameras, this independent movie manages to be experimental in narrative approach (imagine Short Cuts or Magnolia with fewer storylines, more improvisation and less craftsmanship), fascinating in a lo-fi kinda way, stocked with amateur actors who come across as simultaneously ordinary & exaggerated and sudden surprises (check out the ending!); the pace is more drone than beat which is occasionally numbing but I soon adjusted; a unique, challenging, even haunting re-watcher…after I’ve had some time away


STAN & OLLIE (2018)

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B+   FIRST VIEWING   IN-CINEMA 
d: Jon S. Baird
CAST: Steve Coogan; John C. Reilly; Shirley Henderson; Nina Arianda; Rufus Jones
> a biopic about the latter days of Laurel & Hardy (of course); overtly sentimental, with some of the heavier facts sidestepped or only mentioned in passing (Ollie had terminal cancer + Stan was a serial husband), this is very enjoyable but a little soft; the performance partnership is flawless and you soon forget about Alan Partridge and the fat suit; a shame that only three of the duo’s comedy routines are shown in full (and twice each)…and, sorry to say, the film improves once the pair has a major falling out; still, the most moving scene is when Ollie is ill and Stan gets in bed with him to give warmth…two long-time friends who love each other
Award-Worthy Performance
Steve Coogan & John C. Reilly


KISS OF THE VAMPIRE (1963)

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B   FIRST VIEWING 
d: Don Sharp
CAST: Clifford Evans; Noel Willman; Edward de Souza; Jennifer Daniel; Barry Warren
> this has been named by some critics as the best of all the Hammer Horror productions…most of the praise highlights the cinematography (gorgeous, rich colour that still manages to serve the gloomy tale), and words like “stylish” and “skilful” are thrown about…all of which is apt, but what isn’t mentioned is that it is also just Business As Usual; newlyweds arrive at a Bavarian village in the days of hand-kissing and smelly peasants…the woman ends up being abducted by the local vampire cult, and her husband + a weird professor risk all to rescue her; the cast is made up of unknown-to-me faces (even Peter Cushing isn’t lurking about) and perform their parts with uninspired competence; the slowburn build-up works well but is lumbered with a rather nutty ending involving bats dangled on strings…hardly cutting-edge SFX, even for 1963




PRIVATE’S PROGRESS (1956)

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B   FIRST VIEWING 
d: John Boulting
CAST: Ian Carmichael; Richard Attenborough; Dennis Price; Terry-Thomas; Peter Jones
> pleasant-enough “You’re in the Army Now” British comedy, complete with the usual satirical nudge-nudging; Ian plays his standard chinless wonder who is drafted, cocks up constantly and bumbles his way back to civilian life; there are no surprises here: barking sergeant-major + ill-fitting, itchy uniforms + flabby layabouts being whipped into shape + spit ‘n’ polish + skiving about & artful dodging by likely lads; the old-hand actors do their reliably-sterling turns as breezy or out-there characters and ultimately make the lightweight script work (there are occasional snickers…thank you Terry-Thomas); when it swaps over to the inevitable in-the-field caper, things become slightly more serious and unfortunately more dull; this spun-off into 1959’s I’m All Right Jack, which stuck it to Big Industry…a fresher target and a better film 


KING OF THIEVES (2018)

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B-   FIRST VIEWING   IN-CINEMA 
d: James Marsh
CAST: Michael Caine; Jim Broadbent; Tom Courtenay; Ray Winstone; Michael Gambon
> OMG…ANOTHER bloody film about lovable rogues who carry out a heist…I am so sick of etc etc; based on a true story (so?), we get 6 old farts who carry out a bank vault robbery…let’s laugh at their antics: one geezer nods off during the break-in & has hearing aid problems, another needs Type 2 diabetes shots in the bum, another has Crohn’s disease, another is a recent widower and another has bad hair & saggy man-boobs…at this point, I nearly walked out; then, in the second half, things improve mightily: they turn nasty and on each other, very prepared to be diabolical just to make sure they get a bigger share… this section has real impact (Michael C & Jim are frightening, senior citizens be damned); unfortunately, they all turn cuddly and jokey again at the end which muffs the now-established tension; half good


DESTROYER (2018)

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B-   FIRST VIEWING   IN-CINEMA 
d: Karyn Kusama
CAST: Nicole Kidman; Sebastian Stan; Toby Kebbell; Jade Pettyjohn; Tatiana Maslany
> Nicole is a cop-gone-crooked who tries to atone for the mistakes she’s made and the harm she’s caused by finding the truly evil guy who started the whole mess; I was hoping for a redemption story (I always do) but all I really got was a villain’s quest…at no point did I feel any compassion or even sympathy for Nicole’s character…she is hard and driven, determined to get her man, regardless of the consequences; the camera spends a lot of time on Nicole’s face, especially her bleary eyes, like a pair of pissholes in the snow…grey and empty…but no warmth…which is surely what this performance needed so we could accompany her rather than just watch what she does…I didn’t even care when she was severely beaten up; the twist at the end is admirably clever but not enough to lift the load you’ve carried for 123 minutes


CAPTAIN MARVEL (2019)

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B-   FIRST VIEWING   IN-CINEMA 
d: Anna Boden; Ryan Fleck
CAST: Brie Larsen; Samuel L. Jackson; Jude Law; Ben Mendelsohn; Annette Bening
> not much left of the original Marvel Captain Marvel history here, and many of the alterations I found to be questionable or even irritating (the bad guys are the good guys and vice versa + the truth about Nick Fury’s lost eye + who Mar-Vell really was); while there’s lotsa flash of course, I found Brie to be all about the power, but lacking in humour (she just isn’t fun) and lightness (the rapport between her and other players doesn’t seem to flow…the to&fro with Samuel is particularly stodgy); a prequel to the entire MCU franchise, this follows the patented formula (action galore + jokes…this time, mostly based around a cat named Goose + a rock soundtrack + shaky, close-up camera in fight scenes + easter eggs for fanboys) but in the process throws away yet another classic story from the comics; rejigged but not especially refreshed
P.S. Do you reckon that a Kree warrior hero would buff & paint her toenails?


TRAPEZE (1956)

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D   SECOND VIEWING 
d: Carol Reed
CAST: Burt Lancaster; Tony Curtis; Gina Lollabrigida; Katy Jurado; Thomas Gomez; Sid James
a circus film (not a fave genre…I love Chaplin’s 1928 The Circus, but that’s pretty much it) that combines film noir elements with aerial acrobatics; Burt is the jaded trapeze artist who has quit (the usual…he feels responsible for the accidental death of his fellow swinger) + Tony is the up-and-coming hothead who wants to learn how to do the same stunt that killed Burt’s partner (a triple somersault, of course) + Gina is the scheming bitch who wants them both, but for different reasons…will Tony listen to Burt or fall to his death because of a stirring in his tights?; really just a corny love triangle which is dragged towards an obvious resolution, this features some painful acting (Gina & Katy are loud & fiery), a midget as comic relief, trumpeting elephants & prancing ponies, Sid James grooming a big snake and Burt’s hairless chest thrown way out   




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