MOVIE REVIEW | Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “Possibly the most interesting movie in the Star Wars canon.”

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“Make ten men feel like a hundred.”

I’m a child of the 80s. The original Star Wars trilogy are three of the first movies I remember knowing and loving as a kid. I saw and hated the prequels, just like anyone of my generation should. And joined the same people in loving and praising the franchise’s return to form with The Force Awakens. Yet, for all of that, and despite the mostly good to great reviews for the series’ latest entry, I didn’t rush to immediately see that latest entry. But while  I might have been a bad Star Wars nerd by so late to the party, but now that I’ve seen it,  I’m eagerly jumping on the bandwagon and adding to the praise for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

As in all Start Wars stories, the central story is a young upstart, separated from their family, who is the key to saving the Galaxy.  This time it’s Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones). Years ago, her father (Mads Mikkelsen as Galen) was the key architect of the Death Star. Realising the devastation his invention will cause, he has chosen imprisonment at the hands of the Empire’s Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn). Before giving himself up, Galen managed to hide the young Jyn, who would go on to be raised as a badass by rebellion soldier Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker). (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Two for the Road (1967)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “The real reason to check this movie out is the darkness and melancholy that’s oozing out of the screen.”

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“Marriage is when the woman tells the man to take off his pajamas… and it’s because, she wants to send them to the laundry.”

I’m a big fan of Audrey Hepburn.  But as I was getting ready to write this review, I realised that I’m a casual fan who only knows her from her most famous roles.  I’ve never dug all that deep into the Audrey Hepburn canon and am really only familiar with the iconic movies in her filmography, like Breakfast at Tiffany’s, My Fair Lady, Roman Holiday and Sabrina.  With those sorts of movies forming my opinion of Hepburn, combined with the schmaltzy artwork on the cover of the $3 DVD I bought, I thought I knew what I was in for with Two for the Road.  I was wrong.

Hepburn is Joanna Wallace, the well kept wife of Mark (Albert Finney), a rich and successful architect.  Their marriage is in trouble, and the pressures of their current road trip across Europe is only making things more precarious.  Cue a series of flash backs to different parts of their relationship, showing that this isn’t their first, or even second road trip in this part of the world.  Each flashback shows a different stage of their relationship, giving a thorough evolution to the viewer. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Loving (2016)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “Breathes new life into the concept of the prestige, period piece biopic.”

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“Tell the judge, I love my wife.”

With Shotgun Stories, Jeff Nichols made a movie based on, “understandable antagonistic acts [that] get the ball rolling, and they build so incrementally, that once guns are being shoved in people’s faces and the odd skull gets caved in, you’re totally on board.”  Mud made me describe it’s main, child character as, “a certain blend of innocence and naivety, while also coming off as someone who’s already been there, seen it all and has no time for your bullshit.”  And I described Midnight Special as, “sci-fi spectacle [as] a Trojan horse for some really intimate, internal story telling”.

What I’m getting at is, Jeff Nichols has shown a knack for making the sensational real, for using pulp hyperbole to sneak in characters of believable substance, and for using overblown genre tropes to tell stories of what real life is all about.  And it’s a knack that is evident again as Nichols takes on the prestige, period piece biopic, with Loving. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW| Bad Day at Black Rock (1955)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “A compelling story, great acting, high drama, thrilling tension and a big payoff.”

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“They’re gonna kill you with no hard feelings.”

The top three highest grossing movies of last year were Captain America: Civil War, Finding Dory and Zootopia.  Many film purists might find it disheartening that only one of the three was based on a totally new property, but I’m troubled by a different trend of modern movie making.  While Finding Dory clocks in at an economical 97 minutes, Captain America and Zootopia will respectively take up 147 and 108 minutes of your life.  Of the rest of the movies that round out the top 10, only one is under 100 minutes.  And that one is The Secret Life of Pets, so I’m sure even its scant 87 minutes feel like a lot longer.

What I’m getting at is, most moves over 90 minutes don’t need to be.  Hardly any movie needs to break the two hour barrier.  But bigger budgets and bigger spectacles mean we are increasingly subjected to bigger ass aches as we are trapped in cinema seats for ever increasing amounts of time per movie.  But I have proof that you don’t always need a lot of time to fit in a lot of awesome.  You can have a compelling story, great acting, high drama, thrilling tension and a big payoff.  And you can have it all in 81 minutes, including credits, with Bad Day at Back Rock. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Moonlight (2016)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “It’s a tough watch, but tough in the way that a movie with this sort of subject matter should be.”

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“Running around, catching a lot of light. In moonlight, black boys look blue.”

Every year for at least the last five, I’ve made a point of watching every Academy Awards Best Picture nominee before the Oscars ceremony.  I’m enough of a move nerd and read enough pop culture news that I usually have a good idea of what will make the list long before its official, and I usually have a good idea of what every movie is, who made them and who stars in them.

This year, I was well and truly out of the loop, knowing close to nothing about several Oscar finalists.  Including Moonlight.  Before watching it, all I knew about this movie I had gleaned from its provocative poster design, which created some strong preconceptions.  What Moonlight delivered totally met and totally defied those preconceptions. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Arrival (2016)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says:Arrival takes itself very seriously.  Arrival tells an insane story.  What Arrival forgets to do is have fun with it.”
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“Memory is a strange thing.”

The academy awards have often been accused of being elitist. Only awarding highbrow, often little seen movies, so voters can feel smart.  One of the reasons the Best Picture category was opened up a few years ago to include up to 10 movies was so more crowd friendly, box office hits could be included, instead of exclusively recognising prestige, “important” movies. Last year was an example of that system working, with fun, genre escapism being nominated in the form of Mad Max: Fury Road and The Martian.  This year, the genre, blockbuster slot is filled by a far less worthy recipient, Arrival.

When giant, alien spacecraft appear in a dozen different places all over the globe, world leaders freak out as they try to determine if these visitors come in peace, or if they have something more threatening in mind.  Recruiting college professor and linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams), the American government makes contact with the seven limbed aliens they dub heptapods. Communication and translation proves to be a slow process, but piece by piece, Louise, along with physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), builds a rapport with extra-terrestrial visitors. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Manchester By the Sea (2016)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “I never once wondered why critics have been praising this movie as much as they have for an entire year.”
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“I said a lot of terrible things to you, my heart was broken, but I know yours was broken too.”

It might be hard to remember now, but there once was a time when La La Land wasn’t talked about as the clear front runner for every Oscar up for grabs this year, and probably even somehow retroactively winning a few from years gone by.  Yep, before it broke the record for most Golden Globe wins and topped the list for most number of Academy Award nominations this year, there was another movie that was getting all the Oscar buzz.  From this time last year when it showed at Sundance, to when it was eclipsed by La La Land a month or three ago, Manchester By the Sea was the belle of the Oscar speculation ball.  Now that I’ve seen both movies, the concept of somehow comparing the two to decide which is better seems kind of absurd.

Sad sack Boston janitor Lee (Casey Affleck) goes about his days unclogging toilets, shovelling snow and dealing with one annoying tenant after another.  It’s clear that Lee isn’t happy. He gets even less happy when he receives a call alerting him to his brothers’ (Kyle Chandler as Joe) death an hour and half away in the seaside, New England town of Manchester.  In and out of hospital for years with a heart condition, Joe’s death isn’t a surprise to Lee, what is a surprise is Joe’s will, announcing that Lee is now the legal guardian of Joe’s 16 year old son, Patrick (Lucas Hedges). (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Lion (2016)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “A moving, inspirational, feel good story, in none of the corny ways that those words would suggest.”

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“It would take a lifetime to search all the station in India.”

It’s that time of year…  The Oscar nominations are out and prestige movies are everywhere.  That can be a good and a bad thing.  In the last few years we’ve had amazing, but none the less, “Oscar bait” prestige that I really enjoyed.  Movies like The Imitation Game, Spotlight and Foxcatcher.  But there’s also been plenty of really on the nose, pandering, bullshit faff that is just too impressed with itself.  Movies like 12 Years a Slave and Whiplash.  I find it hard to articulate why some of these movies feel like authentic artistry, while others come off as desperate and cloying.  Whatever it is, I feared I was in for one of those categories, and was so glad I got the other, with Lion.

It’s 1986 in northern India, and five year old Saroo (Sunny Pawar) lives in poverty, but happiness, with his mother (Priyanka Bose) and older brother, Guddu (Abhishek Bharate).  Saroo doesn’t just look up to Guddu, he idolises him.  One night, Guddu is about to leave their small village and look for work.  Saroo convinces his older brother to let him tag along.  Guddu’s initial reluctance to bring Saroo Is proven correct when Saroo ends up locked on a train that takes him thousands of kilometres from his family to Calcutta, where he doesn’t speak the language or know his way back home. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Japandroids – Near to the Wild Heart of Life (2017)

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Two blokes, eight songs, just over 30 minutes of music. That’s some incredible economy from Japandroids. But what’s more incredible is the punch packed by Near to the Wild Heart of Life. It never feels slight, rushed or in any way lacking. In this tight half hour of riffing guitars and thunderous drums, they find room for plenty of the Japandroids signature sweaty, break neck rock and roll in songs like the title track and No Known Drink or Drug.  They find room for soaring fist raisers like In a Body Like a Grave and the ode to their native Canada, North East South West. They even find room for a rare moment of more subdued ontrrospection in the synth heavy, seven and half minute epic Arc of Bar, which somehow actually sustains its full seven and a half minutes.


MOVIE REVIEW | La La Land (2016)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “It delivers flashy song and dance numbers that somehow manage to be fantastical and real at the same time.”

“This is the dream! It’s conflict and it’s compromise, and it’s very, very exciting!”

I’ve been very slack in writing this review. Generally, I write a review they day of, or maybe the day after, watching a movie.  If it’s a new movie and still in theatres, I try to post the review within a week.  I’m writing this more than three weeks after watching La La Land and by the time it’s posted, it’s a little over a month later.  In that time, the movie nerds and sites I read have declared La La Land a masterpiece and Oscar front runner, before backlash saw it painted as an overrated piece of style of substance, before a backlash to the backlash had much of the public opinion coming back around to masterpiece and Oscar front runner.

Breaking the record for number of Golden Globes won by a single movie could be seen as a good thing or a bad one, depending on your opinion of the trashy celebrity jerk off that is the Golden Globes.  For me, La La Land is a movie that I loved when I walked out of the cinema.  It’s a movie I have recommended to anyone who’ll listen in the weeks since, and it’s a movie I’ve thought about every day since seeing it, and smiled whenever I do. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | The Unforgiven (1960)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “I’d never say that The Unforgiven is a good movie. But I also can’t say that I wasn’t entertained by it.”

Audrey Hepburn, The Unforgiven (1960, John Huston) starring Burt Lancaster
“I’ve left my family. They’ve changed. Turned into Indian lovers; Injun lovers.”

John Ford and John Wayne’s The Searchers is widely recognised as one of the greatest westerns ever made. In fact, when I wrote about it here on Bored and Dangerous, it was as part of my countdown of the American Film Institute’s Top 100 American movies. While the performance from Wayne is one of his absolute best, and the film making of Ford only gets more impressive with every rewatch, the political and social views haven’t aged so well.  So when I read that The Unforgiven (similar to Clint Eastwood’s 1992 masterpiece in name and genre only) was director John Huston’s answer to those troubling political and social views, I was intrigued to see what he had to say.  The Unforgiven is a response and polar opposite to The Searches. It just does something I had assumed was impossible, and presents something even more troubling than the movie it’s responding to.

With his father dead, Ben (Burt Lancaster) has become the patriarch of the Zachary family. There’s his old but spry mother Mattilda (Lillian Gish), hot head brother Cash (Audie Murphy) and adopted sister Rachel (Audrey Hepburn). It’s Rachel and her adoption that brings trouble to the Zachary clan and drives the plot of The Unforgiven. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Sully (2016)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “One of the best movies of 2016.”

“Everything is unprecedented until it happens for the first time.”

Heroics are what movies are made for.  Sure, there’s drama and pathos and catharsis and comedy and a million other things that movies are made for.  But big screens, surround sound, movie star charisma and stunning visuals all get the chance to show off and really go for broke when a movie is built around a hero doing something extraordinary.

On the one hand, it was only a matter of time until a movie was made about the real life heroic daring do of pilot Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger.  Almost just as inevitable was the fact that he would be played the ultimate everyman, Tom Hanks. With so much seeming so obvious about this movie, the one thing that had me optimistically unsure of what to expect was its director. How would the stripped back, no nonsense story telling and film making of Clint Eastwood translate the possible inspirational schmaltz of a movie like Sully? (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | The Edge of Seventeen (2016)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “It made me care about superficial, childish, self imposed problems.”

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“There are two types of people in the world: The people who naturally excel at life. And the people who hope all those people die in a big explosion.”

A year or so ago, I wrote about the movie The Diary of a Teenage Girl, and I said, “It’s a story so foreign to me and my teenage years, but it’s told and acted in a way that makes it seem somehow relatable.”  A year later, I don’t remember any of the specifics that made me find that movie so relatable at the time.  What I do remember are the more sensationalistic, button pushing plot points, lines of dialogue and images.  And now, as a fading memory, The Diary of Teenage Girl seems kind of cheap and obvious, especially after watching The Edge of Seventeen.

Since her earliest years at school, Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) has been an outcast.  While her older brother (Blake Jenner as Darian) has always been good looking, popular and a master of everything he attempts, Nadine has only ever found solace in two people, her father, and her best friend since grade two, Krista (Haley Lu Richardson).  When her father dies in her early teens, Krista becomes even more vital to Nadine’s life. (more…)

***2016 RECAP*** MUSIC REVIEW | The Drones – Feelin Kinda Free (2016)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “Liking this record almost feels you’ve passed some sort of test or initiation.”

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Who did The Drones make Feelin Kinda Free for? It’s dark, threatening, challenging and not interested in pandering to anyone. It’s also a kind of visceral, angry, unapologetic rock and roll that the world needs more of. The grit and growl goes beyond front man Gareth Liddiard’s voice, it permeates every note and beat of Feelin Kinda Free.


***2016 RECAP*** MOVIE REVIEW | Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “I was wrong about everything I expected, and I’m really glad that I was.”

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“No child left behind.”

I saw the trailer for Hunt for the Wilderpeople on three recent trips to the cinema.  And while it made me laugh every single time, I still had no real burning desire to see it on the big screen.  The trailer was so laugh heavy, I assumed it probably ruined all of the movie’s best jokes.  It also gave a really wacky, loose tone that I thought would struggle to sustain a feature length running time.  Then, I went to the movies to see The Nice Guys, it was sold out, and the only other option was Hunt for the WIiderpeople.  Turns out, I was wrong about everything I expected, and I’m really glad that I was.

Preteen Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison) is a bad egg.  His history of offences and re-offences is too long to list.  We’re talking graffiti-ing, littering, smashing stuff, burning stuff, breaking stuff, stealing stuff, throwing rocks and running away.  After exhausting all other relatives, he’s sent to live in the New Zealand country side with distant aunt, Bella (Rima Te Wiata) and her husband, the quiet and cranky master of the bush, Hector (Sam Neil). (more…)

***21016 RECAP*** MOVIE REVIEW | The Nice Guys (2016)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “It’s not quite as wacky as the trailer had me hoping it would be, but I still loved it and laughed constantly as I watched it.”

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“You’re the world’s worst detectives.”

In 1987, screenwriter Shane Black defined the mismatched buddy copy action movie as we know it, with Lethal Weapon.  He accomplished the rare feat of delivering a sequel that more than live up to its predecessor with Lethal Weapon 2, and let his darker tendencies show on the The Last Boy Scout.  A movie that starts with quarterback shooting opposition players in front of a capacity crowd before killing himself, and only gets more and more bleak from there, while still finding room for plenty of jokes, smart ass comebacks and zingers.

Those movies, plus an uncredited punch up on action classic Predator, put Black on the kind of streak that made people wonder if he could do any wrong.  Turns out, he could.  1993 saw a million dollar pay cheque for a re-write on the floptacular Last Action Hero, before he scored a record breaking $4million for writing the monumental shit bomb that was The Long Kiss Goodnight.  The kind of movie that is only remembered and talked about today because of just how spectacularly it flopped. (more…)

***2016 RECAP*** MUSIC REVIEW | Chance the Rapper – Coloring Book (2016)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “I went into Coloring Book worried that I had built Chance the Rapper up too much in my head, based on too little.  Turns out, those hopes weren’t high enough.”

Chance 1.pngChance the Rapper is a dude who I have only ever seen and heard through guest verses on other people’s songs.  I like what he did with Kanye and I was a big fan of what he did with Action Bronson.  It’s because I like those little snippets of him so much, that I have been so lazy in getting around to his latest LP, Coloring Book.  I dug his guest spots so much, I was worried I’d have too high expectations of an entire album and come away disappointed.  But I’m a trooper, so I jumped in anyway.

The great mix of a vintage, jazz trumpet, with the signature Chance the Rapper weird yelps last upwards of five seconds before All We Got gives way to a flow so precise and natural, it goes beyond sounding written and rehearsed, and becomes more like it’s as much a part of his everyday life as breathing.  Then it’s time for some standard hip hop hubris on No Problem, opening with a threat to labels dumb enough not to take a chance on Chance.  But there’s a wink and sense of humour to his delivery that makes it sound a lot more endearing and self aware than your standard insecure rap braggery. (more…)

***2016 RECAP*** REVIEW | Pee Wee’s Big Holiday (2016)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “After Big Holiday I found myself re-watching Pee Wee’s Big Adventure for the first time in a few years. And watching them so close together made both even better.”

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“Have you heard about those new corduroy pillows?”

Twice as a kid, I lied to my mum, telling her that our VCR had chewed tapes we’d hired so I wouldn’t have to return them to the video shop.  I’m sure there were fines involved, but I’m also sure we would have followed our family tradition that occurred whenever we got a video shop fine.  Instead of paying it, we’d just get a membership in another family member’s name, or move on to the next shop where our credit was yet to be ruined.  One of the movies I lied about destroying was Police Academy 5: Mission Miami Beach.  While I’ve never watched it in the years since my early 90s obsession passed, the other movie I lied about so I could keep it is one that has stayed with my ever since.

Pee Wee’s Big Adventure is a truly unique piece of film making and art.  It was like nothing that came before it and there has been nothing like it since.  Paul Reubens’ titular character is so insane, sweet, creepy, wise and naïve, all at once.  And his world was so perfectly suited to Tim Burton’s style as a director.  I always avoided its maligned sequel, Big Top Pee Wee.  Even as a kid, I somehow knew it wasn’t on the same level as the original.  Just like this time, I had a feeling that the decades late, Netflix produced sequel would be a worthy successor.  So, did my feeling prove correct with Pee Wee’s Big Holiday. (more…)