Review Roundup - Hard target

AMERICAN SNIPER (2014)

Once upon a time I had a thing for war movies that has been long forgotten, with the likes of Saving Private Ryan, Enemy at the Gates or Black Hawk Down fading in my memory. Even if some of all those desaturated late 90s and early 00s pictures still have merits to discuss, I guess that kind of thing represents a long forgotten phase where the content that mattered to me at the time differed from what I am interested in today. But every so often something comes along that I want to check out, in this case a new feature directed by the man himself Clint Eastwood; someone with a strong career behind the camera - particularly with recent releases. And while my interest in the subject matter at hand may have waned, he had certainly made a great double feature with the two Iwo Jima stories back in 2006. But unfortunately his latest just doesn't satisfy me in the same way as that Second World War diptych, and it's unable offer the same kind of character conflict or depth.


Review Roundup - Battle fatigue

THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES (2014)

So here we are once again, staring into the abyss. While the first Hobbit adventure had a lot of problems, the second chapter in this series is what all but killed my enthusiasm to watch the finale. I suppose in a way closure was required even if there was an increasing sense that the origins of this two part story had started to show some time ago, and the limits of what could be added to the proceedings to increase the running time were almost at breaking point. A battle taking centre stage was the first warning sign it had nearly ran out of steam, but giving things the benefit of the doubt is a problem I often have. There was still time to write some characterisation, right? Surely they could pull themselves together and give the trilogy a send off worthy of the legacy set by the brand names involved. But this is an almost completely problematic film in the trilogy, and I use the word film quite loosely here.


Review Roundup - Flight of fancy

BIRDMAN (2014)

Gimmicks get old real fast, so the whole 'single take' thing didn't strike me as something particularly interesting (or unique - see Rope and other films). Still, I gave this a shot because of the rest of the pieces in place. Especially having Michael Keaton in the cast as a lead to do something interesting, because let's be honest after working on the Robocop remake he needed it. When's the last time he got a lead role like this? Voice work for Porco Rosso? (Though actually it's a pretty good dub) Thankfully the film on the whole goes beyond camera tricks and visual effects to provide something which is engaging and dramatic throughout - it's much more than a one trick pony. Beyond the silly title and the idea of an actor playing on his own career as a past superhero, there's a lot more to get invested in with a story about ambition, mental anguish and backstage drama.


Scorecard

MAY 

Mad Max: Fury Road ☆☆☆☆
Submarine ☆☆☆☆
Play Time ☆☆☆☆
Birdman ☆☆☆☆
Punch Drunk Love ☆☆☆☆
Shaun the Sheep ☆☆☆☆
The Double ☆☆☆☆
Throne of Blood ☆☆☆☆