Domee Shi directs Rosalie Chiang, Sandra Oh and Ava Morse in this Pixar animated comedy where a teenager turns into a giant red panda whenever she has a strong emotion.
Fluffy, cute. I preferred when Pixar used to make adventure sitcoms involving insects or race cars but I guess you can’t fault the intentions here. Or the execution. Very middle class. Why is it set in 2004 though?
Rob Zombie directs Sheri Moon Zombie, Bill Mosely and Richard Brake in this horror threequel where those murderous Fireflys escape death row and go south of the border… down Mexico way.
Sid Haig is irreplaceable so let’s just call Richard Brake a welcome late addition to the clan. As with all previous parts in this cult trilogy, 3 From Hell is tonally all over the shop and certain sequences are grindingly indulgent. But I get the feeling one man’s clown murder is another lady’s midget romance subplot. Let call this a Mexican brothel bar and say there’s something malformed yet attractive for everyone. My personal favourite sequences is the trippy multi-colour dance freak out sequence. You ain’t seeing that hot unforgettable stuff in even the top drawer Blumhouse release, now are ya? Cruel and silly, hyper and nasty this is the work of a now well established auteur. Rob Zombie’s made enough of these that it is up to us the audience to put up or shut up. You either bend to his long established will or these releases never ever will be to your taste. Sheri Moon is such a unique screen presence that she is now an endeared figure in our household. More filmmakers should be using her, that spry, girlish sicko powerhouse shouldn’t just be seen in her lovin’ husband’s projects. Cast her as a Marvel villain. Get some demented flavour in that taco. “Look, suit; I gotta do what I gotta do. It’s my rules or the Grim Reaper comes a-rollin’ thru in a big black Cadillac; “Hey, bitch; hop in!” You dig?”
Nicholas Kazan directs James Spader, Mädchen Amick and Larry Miller in this erotic thriller where a smitten architect keeps ignoring the warning signs that his beautiful new girl might be up to something nasty.
Under-cranked erotic thriller punctuated with wobbly fun fair dream sequences. Amick gets some strong looks, both dressed and undressed. Spader only comes alive in the bonkers conclusion.
Thomas Bezucha directs Diane Lane, Kevin Costner and Lesley Manville in this neo-Western drama where a retired sheriff and his resolute wife try to track down their grandson who has been taken from them.
Slow burn for the first hour but leaps to a level of shock and threat that nobody would predict by the thrilling finale. The Weboy Clan (headed by an excellent Manville and pleasurably rotten Jeffrey Donovan) are not messing – a particularly nasty, gothic set of antagonists who pull no punches. You genuinely fear for the romantic, creaky Lane and Costner as they continue their quest against this bunch of scumbags. This is a well made, small film that eventually really delivers in terms of drama, tension and star power. An overlooked gem.
Zack Snyder directs Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames and Mekhi Phifer in this action horror remake of George A. Romero’s zombies-in-a-shopping-mall classic.
A rare mainstream lead outing for the always welcome Sarah Polley. Slick – probably the neatest, cleanest movie Snyder has ever made. The intensity is absorbing, the performances fun. It feels like a backhanded compliment but the credit sequence are the highlights. In the 00s there were a lot of remakes of videoshop cult classic that merely smoothed over and glossed out everything exciting about their original counterparts… this is the rare outlier of the Platinum Dunes era in that it often thumps to its own gory beat.
Terence Young directs Sean Connery, Robert Shaw and Daniela Bianchi in this OO7 thriller where Bond is pulled into a triple cross involving an unwitting yet sexy Soviet defector.
The Bond movie with the most old school spy craft. One of the most romantic Bonds. Exoticism… gypsy fights and continental train journeys. That gripping final act – an extended face off between Connery and a winning Shaw – is the closest the series gets to pure Hitchcock. Every element chimes here. It is a more relaxed adventure, the formula is not quite set yet… and all the better for it. Looked glorious on the big screen too.
Keith Thomas directs Zac Efron, Ryan Kiera Armstrong and Michael Greyeyes in this Stephen King adaptation where a little girl with the psychic ability to create fire is chased by a shadowy organisation.
Nobody remembers the Drew Barrymore original. This is a solid rehash with some neat spikes of burnt to a crisp gore. Not quite full fat horror but nasty when it counts. The world is tactile, dateless. The first and last act has an appropriate degree of urgency. Michael Greyeyes is always fine value. Killed a Sunday afternoon and I had minimal quibbles.
Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert directs Michelle Yeoh, Stephanie Hsu and Ke Huy Qua in this loopy action comedy where a put upon laundry owner can absorb the skills and lives of her alternate selfs – a new power she’ll have to utilise to save the universe, her family and finish her taxes.
I can see why this is so beloved but it does mistake density for sophistication. Not every wacky “other” world needs to be seen through to completion, as it indulgently makes the leeengthy ending patience stretching rather than bow tying. Having said that, it is always admirable to see a film so brimming with ideas – many are affectionately borrowed from other films – who would have expected Pixar and Wong Kar-wai spoofs to nestle so neatly together, Kubrick is also frequently referenced. If you like Douglas Adams then he also is a key influence. Yet it works best as a silly martial arts comedy. A resplendent Yeoh has still got the chops… and it is so so lovely to see Ke Huy Qua back on the big screen, and in such a warm, fun role. He goes at it full pelt, bless his heart, everyone does. I couldn’t stop smiling like a goon at nearly every moment and line he lands.
Perfect Double Bill: Eternal Sunshine Of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Kiyoshi Kurosawa directs Teruyuki Kagawa, Kyōko Koizumi and Yū Koyanagi in this Japanese drama where a family falls apart after their ‘salary man’ father hides his unemployment, just one of the secret lives they all start leading.
Not quite as magical as one of Kurosawa’s grounded but eerie horror flicks but hits many of the same notes. Most of the best moments are in the first half, certain subplots do go off the rails a little… Mum’s story in particular.