Reviews

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Mr. Turner

  • Currently 2/5 Stars.

MR TURNER (UK/12A/150mins)
Directed by Mike Leigh. Starring: Timothy Spall, Dorothy Atkinson, Marion Bailey.
THE PLOT: 
Mike Leigh takes is on an exploration of the final 25 years of the great painter JMW Turner's life.
THE VERDICT: 
The idea of making a film about a famous painter's life is an interesting one; much like Blur and Oasis in the 1990s, these artists had professional rivalries, and did not work in utter isolation as we may think. The trouble is, that JMW Turner's life may have been interesting, but this is not truly shown in mike Leigh's film.
Timothy Spall huffs and harrumphs his way through his role as the titular character; although the novelty of deciphering Spall's grunts quickly wears off, this is a strong performance from the actor, as he shows genuine tenderness and cruel mockery, often within the same scene. The rest of the cast is equally as strong, Paul Jesson plays the elder Mr Turner with care and gentleness, Marion Bailey allows silence to pervade the screen as Mrs Booth, and Dorothy Atkinson gives a strong yet almost stoic performance as Turner's long time housekeeper - and sometime sex partner - Hannah Danby.
Dick Pope's cinematography is simply beautiful; instead of trying to replicate the wonderful swathes of colour and light shown in Turner's work, he instead allows the audience to fill in the blanks, and make the connections between what the film shows and what Turner paints. Pope allows darkness and light to balance throughout the film, and makes the coastal scenes bright and beautiful.
Where the film falls down, however, is in the story. There has to have been some fascination with Turner's life for the film to be made in the first place - perhaps the double life he led, or the fact that he could paint such beauty but be unable to eloquently communicate with people through language, or perhaps the endeavour he undertook that endangered his life; strapping himself to the mast of a ship during a storm - but while all of these are present in the film, none is allowed to take centre stage, leaving the film adrift in 25 years of a character's life, without a theme or event to tie it all together. Admittedly, there are times when Leigh's script is surprisingly funny, and shakes off some of the preconceptions the audience has, but this is not enough to make the film anything more than a series of curiosities.
As director, Leigh coaxes strong performances from his actors, and each of them truly inhabits the character they take on. Spall is impressive in his stomping, spitting, grunting role, and manages to show this gruff, abrasive character's gentler and more caring side. Without a strong story to the script, however, Spall et al can stomp and simper all they like, but the film lacks the structure to support them. However, with a 150 minute run time, there is plenty of time to wonder at the lack of plot.
MR TURNER is a beautifully shot film that is populated with strong performances from great actors. The truly enraging thing, however, is the complete lack of plot, development or story, leaving us with a protagonist who never changes and a film that is funny at times, but ultimately pointless.
RATING: 2/5
Review by Brogen Hayes 

Mr. Turner

  • Currently 2/5 Stars.

MR TURNER (UK/12A/150mins)
Directed by Mike Leigh. Starring: Timothy Spall, Dorothy Atkinson, Marion Bailey.
THE PLOT: 
Mike Leigh takes is on an exploration of the final 25 years of the great painter JMW Turner's life.
THE VERDICT: 
The idea of making a film about a famous painter's life is an interesting one; much like Blur and Oasis in the 1990s, these artists had professional rivalries, and did not work in utter isolation as we may think. The trouble is, that JMW Turner's life may have been interesting, but this is not truly shown in mike Leigh's film.
Timothy Spall huffs and harrumphs his way through his role as the titular character; although the novelty of deciphering Spall's grunts quickly wears off, this is a strong performance from the actor, as he shows genuine tenderness and cruel mockery, often within the same scene. The rest of the cast is equally as strong, Paul Jesson plays the elder Mr Turner with care and gentleness, Marion Bailey allows silence to pervade the screen as Mrs Booth, and Dorothy Atkinson gives a strong yet almost stoic performance as Turner's long time housekeeper - and sometime sex partner - Hannah Danby.
Dick Pope's cinematography is simply beautiful; instead of trying to replicate the wonderful swathes of colour and light shown in Turner's work, he instead allows the audience to fill in the blanks, and make the connections between what the film shows and what Turner paints. Pope allows darkness and light to balance throughout the film, and makes the coastal scenes bright and beautiful.
Where the film falls down, however, is in the story. There has to have been some fascination with Turner's life for the film to be made in the first place - perhaps the double life he led, or the fact that he could paint such beauty but be unable to eloquently communicate with people through language, or perhaps the endeavour he undertook that endangered his life; strapping himself to the mast of a ship during a storm - but while all of these are present in the film, none is allowed to take centre stage, leaving the film adrift in 25 years of a character's life, without a theme or event to tie it all together. Admittedly, there are times when Leigh's script is surprisingly funny, and shakes off some of the preconceptions the audience has, but this is not enough to make the film anything more than a series of curiosities.
As director, Leigh coaxes strong performances from his actors, and each of them truly inhabits the character they take on. Spall is impressive in his stomping, spitting, grunting role, and manages to show this gruff, abrasive character's gentler and more caring side. Without a strong story to the script, however, Spall et al can stomp and simper all they like, but the film lacks the structure to support them. However, with a 150 minute run time, there is plenty of time to wonder at the lack of plot.
MR TURNER is a beautifully shot film that is populated with strong performances from great actors. The truly enraging thing, however, is the complete lack of plot, development or story, leaving us with a protagonist who never changes and a film that is funny at times, but ultimately pointless.
RATING: 2/5
Review by Brogen Hayes 

The Overnighters

  • Currently 4/5 Stars.

THE OVERNIGHTERS (USA/Light House/102mins)
Directed by Jess Moss. Starring Keegan Edwards, Jay Reinke, Alan Mezo.
THE PLOT: 
The small American town of Williston, North Dakota, and pastor Jay Reinke is determined to put a roof over the head of the thousands of men who arrive seeking work in the booming oil industry there. That many of these men are regarded as drifters has the town's folk edgy about their presences, especially in light of the murder of a local schoolteacher in 2012 by two such new arrivals. With fear and mistrust rife amongst his neighbours, and the troubled nature of some of those he is attempting to help, it's a struggle for Reinke. Organising a town meeting, where the two sides can come together, seems like a step in the right direction, but even calling door-to-door with an invite can be difficult task for the pastor, as he's sometimes met with verbal abuse... 
THE VERDICT: 
A small American town with a universal problem, where a settled community struggles with having the unsettled living amongst them, THE OVERNIGHTERS touches on the many layers of that great divide between the haves and the have-nots, especially in times of recession. Shot over 18 months at the Concordia Lutheran Church in Williston, North Dakota, THE OVERNIGHTERS tells a hundred stories, many similar, but all different. What pulls them together here is Pastor Reinke, and his seemingly ceaseless quest to help these often broken men rebuild their lives. That his own wife and kids are behind such efforts is touching. And when it is revealed that Reinke is battling a dark secret of his own, proceedings take a dramatic twist... 
Moss has spoken of Barbara Kopple's Harlan County, USA as a major influence, and certainly THE OVERNIGHTERS will stand a definitive document of America's recent socioeconomic woes. 
RATING: 4/5
Review by Paul Byrne

Ouija

  • Currently 2/5 Stars.

OUIJA (USA/15A/89mins) 
Directed by Stiles White. Starring Erin Moriarty, Olivia Cooke, Ana Coto, Daren Kagasoff, Bianca A. Santos, Douglas Smith, Shelley Hennig, Sierra Heuermann, Sunny May Allison, Lin Shaye, Claudia Katz.
THE PLOT: Having first begun playing with a Ouija board as bored best buddies, years later, hot blonde Debbie (Hennig) is suddenly, strangely reclusive. Followed quickly by suddenly, strangely dead, hanging from the upstairs banister of the family home. The fact that the interior designer seems to be Stanley Kubrick (no bulb can be over 10 watts) and the landscape gardener David Lynch (white picket fence included, of course) should have been warning enough that this would not be a happy home, but Debbie's bestest bud, Laine (Cooke) - who, thankfully, also grew up to be incredibly hot - nonetheless reckons dusting down that Hasbro toy is the only way to find out what really happened. Tagging along is Debbie's suspiciously quiet boyfriend, Pete (Smith), her punky little sis (Coto) and assorted other teen disposables. Soon, there's an onslaught of bumps in the night, and it's not our beloved Debbie saying hi...
THE VERDICT: Harking back to the pre-SCREAM teen horror flick, where you're always two steps ahead of the young protagonists, and one step away from heading to the pub early, there are no real shocks in OUIJA. Other than the fact that people still flock to such schlock (it opened at no.1 in the US last week, bagging €20m). Corny enough to be satire - this all-American town seems to have a ban on fat or ugly people - without ever being funny enough to raise a laugh, Ouija plays it crushingly straight. So, you're left feeling little for these teenagers who constantly put themselves in peril. 
If you're looking for real horror this Halloween, go see THE GUARANTEE instead. 
RATING: 2/5
Review by Paul Byrne 

Nightcrawler

  • Currently 5/5 Stars.

NIGHTCRAWLER (USA/16/117mins)
Directed by Dan Gilroy. Starring Jake Gllenhaal, Rene Russo, Michael Pena. 
THE PLOT: Lou (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a driven young man struggling for money and desperate to find a career. When he happens on a road traffic accident on the streets of LA, the camera crew that arrives on the scene and films the whole event fascinates him. Inspired, Lou hires Rick (Riz Ahmed) as an intern, and sets out to make a name for himself as a freelance crime journalist.
THE VERDICT: Gyllenhaal plays Lou Bloom as a calculating and unscrupulous character; one that audiences will root for, but find themselves despising. Lou stalks the streets of LA like a vampire; preying on victims and revelling in their blood. Money seems to be the motivator, but it quickly becomes clear that Bloom is motivated by power and gore. Gyllenhaal allows the audience to root for the character - even though he is quickly revealed to be someone who lacks a moral compass - and slowly reveals that there is a lot more darkness and danger underneath the surface of this man, who gets a thrill out of seeing his footage on TV, drags bodies into different places for the sake of a good shot, and regurgitates phrases seemingly gleaned from the pages of self help books; phrases that sound great but in reality, mean little at all.
Rene Russo plays a character as dark and damaged as Lou Bloom, and it is through Nina's mentorship and encouragement that Bloom is allowed to go to hideous lengths for the sake of a story. Riz Ahmed plays Rick; a young homeless man, so desperate for a job that he agrees to work with Bloom for a mere $30 a night. Ahmed's performance throws Gyllenhaal's into stark relief, and it is through the characters' interactions that we learn more about Lou and the world he has created around himself.
The story, written by Dan Gilroy could be a rather straightforward thriller, but it is through the twists and turns made by Lou Bloom that this becomes a story of LA, and a man who is as twisted and dangerous as the city itself. In fact, Bloom and LA complement one another; LA with its dangerous crime levels, and Lou who feeds off these. It is a parasitic relationship and it is a remarkably funny, gripping and oddly touching story.
As director, Dan Gilroy has created a film that hinges on the relationship between Bloom and LA. Gilroy allows Gyllenhaal to take centre stage, with the rest of the characters orbiting around him. Nightcrawler is dark and atmospheric, and tension is slowly built through the 117 minute running time. Robert Elswit's cinematography adds to the experience, keeping the film as dark but sparkling as LA itself, with gorgeous sequences at night, smooth and fluid shots of cars and a gentle reminder to the audience that the only thing that matters is what's on Bloom's screen.
NIGHTCRAWLER is a dark yet surprisingly funny look under the hood of crime video journalism. Gyllenhaal gives his strongest performance in years as the methodical, uncompromising Lou Bloom, and his supporting cast do a beautiful job, Ahmed, in particular, shines through the murky world of the screen. Gilroy's direction and Elswit's cinematography combine to form a frightening, dark yet sparkly whole.
RATING: 5/5
Review by Brogen Hayes 

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

  • Currently 2/5 Stars.

ALEXANDER AND THE TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY (USA/PG/81mins) 
Directed by Miguel Arteta. Starring Steve Carell, Jennifer Garner, Ed Oxenbould, Dylan Minnette, Kerris Dorsey, Sidney Fullmer, Bella Thorne, Megan Mullally, Mekai Curtis, Dick Van Dyke.
THE PLOT: Tired of being everyone's punchbag whilst all around have wonderful, glorious, clap-happy lives, Alexander Cooper (Oxenbould) makes a little latenight wish that the rest of his family just spend one day in his rain-soaked, pebble-filled shoes. And from their missed alarm onwards, that's just what Alexander's family suffer. Mum (Garner) is late for her big children's book presentation, Dad (Carell) suddenly has to take their baby to his first job interview in years, teenager Anthony (Minnette) has both his driving test and his junior prom with testy girlfriend Celia (Thorne), whilst Emily (Dorsey) has woken up with a cold on the night she debuts as Peter Pan in the school play. And the day just keeps getting worse for everyone in the Cooper family, except Alexander. Who begins feeling worse and worse for having cursed them.
THE VERDICT: Don't laugh, but I had pretty high expectations for this particular family movie. The title is silly enough to be verging on brave, it has Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner as the parents - both actors who know where the funny bone is located - and down in the undergrowth of mid-budget family films (A CHRISTMAS STORY, HOME ALONE, DUNSTON CHECKS IN, ELF), sometimes - just sometimes - gold is struck. Here, unfortunately, we get Alexander and the not terribly good if not very bad family film.
We're deep in John Hughes territory here (or just a pale cash-in on the DIARY OF A WIMPY KID franchise; take your pic), but the high concept here - of everything going horribly wrong for everyone in luckless boy's family - is more tragedy than comedy. Which makes much of the bad luck offered up hard to like, love or laugh at. Largely because getting a cold or a zit before your big night, having a horrible boss who's about to fire you, or feeling deeply unemployable all add up to one feelbad comedy.
Carell never truly sparks, despite delivering his trademark everyday doofus, whilst the sparkling Garner also fails to lift the material she's given. Only the freaky-deaky Jennifer Coolidge manages to deliver some real comic spark here as a driving test nazi. 
RATING: 2/5
Review by Paul Byrne

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

  • Currently 2/5 Stars.

ALEXANDER AND THE TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY (USA/PG/81mins) 
Directed by Miguel Arteta. Starring Steve Carell, Jennifer Garner, Ed Oxenbould, Dylan Minnette, Kerris Dorsey, Sidney Fullmer, Bella Thorne, Megan Mullally, Mekai Curtis, Dick Van Dyke.
THE PLOT: Tired of being everyone's punchbag whilst all around have wonderful, glorious, clap-happy lives, Alexander Cooper (Oxenbould) makes a little latenight wish that the rest of his family just spend one day in his rain-soaked, pebble-filled shoes. And from their missed alarm onwards, that's just what Alexander's family suffer. Mum (Garner) is late for her big children's book presentation, Dad (Carell) suddenly has to take their baby to his first job interview in years, teenager Anthony (Minnette) has both his driving test and his junior prom with testy girlfriend Celia (Thorne), whilst Emily (Dorsey) has woken up with a cold on the night she debuts as Peter Pan in the school play. And the day just keeps getting worse for everyone in the Cooper family, except Alexander. Who begins feeling worse and worse for having cursed them.
THE VERDICT: Don't laugh, but I had pretty high expectations for this particular family movie. The title is silly enough to be verging on brave, it has Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner as the parents - both actors who know where the funny bone is located - and down in the undergrowth of mid-budget family films (A CHRISTMAS STORY, HOME ALONE, DUNSTON CHECKS IN, ELF), sometimes - just sometimes - gold is struck. Here, unfortunately, we get Alexander and the not terribly good if not very bad family film.
We're deep in John Hughes territory here (or just a pale cash-in on the DIARY OF A WIMPY KID franchise; take your pic), but the high concept here - of everything going horribly wrong for everyone in luckless boy's family - is more tragedy than comedy. Which makes much of the bad luck offered up hard to like, love or laugh at. Largely because getting a cold or a zit before your big night, having a horrible boss who's about to fire you, or feeling deeply unemployable all add up to one feelbad comedy.
Carell never truly sparks, despite delivering his trademark everyday doofus, whilst the sparkling Garner also fails to lift the material she's given. Only the freaky-deaky Jennifer Coolidge manages to deliver some real comic spark here as a driving test nazi. 
RATING: 2/5
Review by Paul Byrne

The Babadook

  • Currently 2/5 Stars.

THE BABADOOK (Australia/15A/94mins)
Directed by Jennifer Kent. Starring Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman, Hayley McElhinney, Daniel Henshall, Tiffany Lyndal-Knight, Tim Purcell, Adam Morgan, Craig Behenna, Benjamin Winspear, Cathy Adamek.
THE PLOT: Former writer-turned-old folks home assistant Amelia (Davis) is having a little trouble with her little tyke, Oskar (Wiseman). The light of her life is a little black cloud to everyone else, his twisted imagination earning him a reputation as an oddball amongst the other kids, and their parents. Chief among those doubting parents is Claire (McElhinney), Amelia's sister. Perhaps it's all just down to the death of Amelia's husband, on the way to the hospital for Oskar's arrival. Or maybe there really is a boogie man in the house, there to suck the very souls out of the increasingly isolated Amelia and Oskar...?
THE VERDICT: One of those low-budget frightfests that comes with high intentions - writer/director Kent aiming to explore inner demons through the time-honoured cinematic portal of schlock horror - THE BABDOOK does not stalk the stalk. At all.
From the opening, this plays like a mildly pretentious student film, from the muddy cinematography to the Amateur Hour acting. Leading lady Davis has the ill-at-ease swagger of a producer's middle-aged manic pixie girlfriend, whilst little Noah Wiseman never, ever convinces as the could-be demon child. Even if he does like Jack White's Mini Me.
Lesser critics have been getting their silks in a twist over THE BABADOOK, but that's more down to the ingredients (strident female writer/director delivering a mourning-as-monster thesis disguised as a cheap horror flick) than the cake. Welcome to Dullraiser. 
RATING: 2/5
Review by Paul Byrne

Jimi: All Is By My Side

  • Currently 4/5 Stars.

JIMI: ALL BY MY SIDE (UK/Ireland/USA/Club/118mins)
Directed by John Ridley. Starring Andre Benjamin, Hayley Atwell, Imogen Potts, Andrew Buckley, Ruth Negga, Tom Dunlea, Oliver Bennett, Danny McColgan.
THE PLOT: 
Charting Jimi Hendrix's almost famous years, we first meet Johnny Allen Hendrix (Benjamin) playing rhythm & blues for band leader Curtis King on America's Chitlin circuit, getting noticed only by a very select few. As luck would have it, one of the few, rich English society girl Linda Keith (Potts), is Keith Richards' girlfriend, and this day tripper clearly knows a good thing when she sees it. Determined to get Jimi proper management, Linda lucks out when she bumps into Animals' bass player Chas Chandler (Buckley), who just happens to be looking for a change of job. Soon, Jimi's on his way to London, to be a big fish in a small pond, and it isn't long before he has the likes of Eric Clapton (McColgan) in a headspin. "Is he for real?," the shellshocked Cream frontman - suddenly realising he's not God, he's Solieri - asks old buddy Chandler after Hendrix takes a guest spot onstage and promptly blows Clapton off the stage. Literally. 
Hendrix' ascent is far from smooth though, his troubled relationship with hairdresser Kathy Etchingham (Atwell) suffering from both jealousy of the abusive kind and the odd snake in the marijuana (such as Negga's professional groupie, Ida)...
THE VERDICT: The writer of 12 YEARS A SLAVE, John Ridley, makes his second feature film here (after 1997's cheesy crime thriller COLD AROUND THE HEART), and it's a notable achievement. Largely because it manages to be true to its time and its subject without, thanks to a block by the Hendrix estate, ever using any of Jimi's recordings. Which is akin to trying to tell the story of your man Jesus without being able to quote the Bible. Instead, we get a blast of such contemporaries as Dylan, and lots of sex'n'drugs'n'talking about rock'n'roll. Oh, and some fancy fretwork that Hendrix just might have been happy to call his own.
Whatever about the truth of the actual events (and certainly girlfriend Etchingham has dismissed the portrayal here of domestic abuse), the blend of a smart script, the cheeky use of evocative period footage (in place of cheesy CGI recreations) and a startLingly good portrayal by Andre Benjamin of Hendrix (the blurred line between one cool cat and another adding to the spirit here) makes JIMI: ALL BY MY SIDE surprisingly good. 
Now, go blast some Hendrix through your soul. 
RATING: 4/5
Review by Paul Byrne

The Book of Life

  • Currently 4/5 Stars.

THE BOOK OF LIFE (USA/G/95mins)
Directed by: Jorge R. Gutierrez. Starring Ron Perlman, Channing Tatum, Zoe Saldana, Kate del Castillo, Diego Luna.
THE PLOT: La Muerte (Kate del Castillo) and Xibalba (Ron Perlman) are the traditional rulers of the Mexican worlds of the dead; the world of the Remembered and conversely, The Forgotten. Far from being enemies though, the two enjoy a friendly rivalry, and place a wager on the fates of two young boys who are in love with the same girl. Knowing nothing of the wager, Manolo (Diego Luna) and Joaquin (Channing Tatum) vie for the love of Maria (Zoe Saldana), as the fate of the underworld is in their hands.
THE VERDICT: The Mexican beliefs around The Day of the Dead have long held fascination for audiences; the idea that for one day of the year, beloved family members walk the earth to be with the ones they have left behind. Of course, this is something that is celebrated in cultures all around the world - including on our own dear isle, with the feast of Samhain - but the beautiful, bright and festive feel of Dia de los Muertos lends itself to a kids' 3D adventure movie, so here we are.
The voice cast do a great job with their roles, and the banter between Perlman and del Castillo; as well as Tatum, Luna and Saldana is a lot of fun. The actors inject warmth into their characters, which keeps the audience on their side, since the story often moves at lickety speed.
Although the film is set around a wager between the guardians of the underworld, it never becomes ghoulish or macabre, instead focusing on celebrating the lives of those who have left us, rather than mourning the fact that they are gone. This is a valuable lesson for audience members of all ages, and one that is often referred to, but never hammered home. The film strives for comedy, mainly by throwing all of the dialogue at plot at the screen at an incredibly fast pace, and while many of the laughs land, many of them whizz past the audience too quickly to be laughed at. The change of setting halfway through the film, to the Underworld, helps matters, but once the story gets there, it feels as though the film was waiting to get there all along.
Director Jorge R. Gutierrez makes the characters in the film warm and engaging, and the style choices that were made not only reinforce that much of the action is a story within a story, but allows the story to move between our world and the underworld without making the characters look or feel different. In fact, the addition of Mexican Dia de los Muertos style imagery to those in the underworld just adds another layer to the film.
THE BOOK OF LIFE is a beautiful film with some gorgeous animation and worthy life lessons for kids. The characters are warm and engaging and the ghouls, while otherworldly, are never frightening. The film suffers, however, through incredibly speedy dialogue, which means that some of the jokes don't land. Overall though, this is a fun and engaging film that's a feast for the eyes and ears... Radiohead's ‘Creep' sung mariachi style is definitely a winner.
RATING: 4/5
Review by Brogen Hayes

This is Where I Leave You

  • Currently 3/5 Stars.

THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU (USA/15A/104mins)
Directed by Shawn Levy. Starring Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Kathryn Hahn, Rose Byrne, Timothy Olyphant, Jane Fonda.
THE PLOT: When their father dies, four adult siblings are forced to shit Shiva in their childhood home for a week, in accordance with their dad's wishes. While there, they encounter people from their past, various partners and the ones that got away.
THE VERDICT: The idea of returning home is always one that is filled with nostalgia, as last week's THE JUDGE showed us, but as the Robert Downey Jr film also told us, returning home is often fraught with tension and filled with secrets.
The cast for THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU is filled with familiar and beloved faces, with Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Adam Driver, Connie Britton, Timothy Olyphant, Rose Byrne, Jane Fonda, Kathryn Hahn and Corey Stoll all turning up on screen. While each gives a strong enough performance to make their characters work - Bateman returning to his wheelhouse of the put upon everyman - there are so gosh darn many of them, and so much going on, that they are often drowned out by the sheer amount of story going on.
Jonathan Tropper adapted the screenplay from his own novel, so it is safe to say that he was familiar with the story and the characters; the trouble with this is that Tropper may have been too attached to his characters to allow some of them to take a back seat, so the film is filled with squabbling, overlapping storylines and entirely uncomfortable jokes about Jane Fonda's boobs. A more ruthless cut could have allowed Fey and Bateman to step to the fore - which is obviously what was attempted here - but instead we have a film filled with unhappy people, shouting at one another in pretty rooms.
Shawn Levy's last big screen outing was the utterly painful THE INTERNSHIP, so it is good to see that This is Where I Leave You is a distinct improvement on that waste of time, but THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU struggles to step out from the shadow of DEATH AT A FUNERAL, and almost does so, until all the other storylines come crashing in. That said, each of the characters carries their roles well, with Fey and Bateman just about managing to stand out before Adam Driver swoops in and steals the show.
THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU is a vast improvement on The Internship but never quite manages to live up to its promise. Fey, Bateman and Driver shine, but there is far too much going on in one house - never mind the film - for the film to be anything other than messy. Resolution arrives, but takes its sweet time, leaving THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU feeling drawn out and sprawling.
RATING: 3/5
Review by Brogen Hayes

Fury

  • Currently 2/5 Stars.

FURY (UK | USA | China/15A/135mins)
Directed by David Ayer. Starring Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Michael Pena.
THE PLOT: 
Over the space of 24 hours, the crew of the WWII Allied tank ‘Fury' take on a dangerous mission behind enemy lines. Along with a Germany that is vicious in the throes of its death rattle, the crew have to deal with old resentments, and a new member of their team; inexperienced soldier Norman (Logan Lerman).
THE VERDICT: 
FURY is a strange sort of a film; David Ayer is a director who has tackled a similar story about people surviving in a confined space before, in END OF WATCH, and since Samuel Moaz released his film LEBANON, Fury doesn't feel that it should have anything new or interesting to say, and in a way, it doesn't.
Each of the characters struggles to make a mark in the film; Brad Pitt plays a watered down and considerably less memorable version of Lt Aldo Raine, which leaves the audience waiting for him to tell Shia LaBeouf to bring him ‘One hunnert Nazi scalps' and doesn't give Wardaddy a chance to be a fully formed character. Logan Lerman plays the newbie, the inexperienced soldier thrust into the centre of war, and while he manages to balance out the callousness of his tank mates to a degree, he is really given little else to do. Shia LaBeouf plays a Bible thumper whose character swings from kindness to selfishness, often within the space of a sentence, and has very little consistency. Michael Peña and Jon Bernthal make up the rest of the tank's crew.
The story takes place in the space of 24 hours, and shows the extraordinary odds that the Allies faced at the end of WWII. Initially, the tanks roll out on a dangerous mission, but we never see them truly reach their destination. Instead, the platoon is ambushed again and again, with the outcome of this - other than to hammer home the fact that the Nazis used child soldiers and that war is unpleasant and unpredictable - being that the crew of the ‘Fury' never reach their true destination. Many of the scenes are given too much or too little focus, with a sequence in a house with two German women going on much longer than it needs to.
It's fairly common knowledge that director David Ayer pushed his actors to inhabit their roles; making them fight one another and spend many hours cooped up inside the tank. While this is admirable, and the banter between the crew shows this and the characters seem to know one another well, the audience is never really allowed to get to know them. The fight sequences are gory and violent, and incredibly well shot, but the choice to make gunshots looks like lasers makes Fury feel a little like a space epic, rather than a historical film.
In all, FURY is a film that tries to tell a new story, but ends up feeling familiar and watered down. Brad Pitt never truly shakes off INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS, and those who have seen Samuel Moaz's LEBANON will tire of the tank sequences rather quickly. The film is well shot, but the work that went on behind the scenes never truly shows through, so while FURY looks good, it is filled with thin characters, unnecessary scenes and ultimately feels a little pointless.
RATING: 2/5
Review by Brogen Hayes

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