Tag: oscar isaac

MOVIE REVIEW | X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “A silly little comic book movie, about people with silly super powers, running around in silly costumes.”

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“You are all my children, and you’re lost because you follow blind leaders. No more false gods. I’m here now.”

While the DC movies make insane money at the same time as absolutely everyone talks about how much they suck…  While Spider-Man continues to get re-booted roughly every seven minutes…  While the Marvel universe grinds its way to swallowing cinema as we know it…  While all of that happens, the franchise that started it all bubbles away, never standing out, but never going away either.  If hundreds of millions of dollars of blockbuster can be a quiet achiever, the X-Men series is just that.  And it’s here to remind us all once again that it exists, before being lost in the dust of whatever Marvel rolls out next, with X-Men: Apocalypse.

A decade after the world learned of the existence of mutants via the climactic events of X-Men: Days of Future Past, it’s the 80s, and all of our heroes and villains are laying low.  Charles Xavier, AKA Professor X (James McAvoy) continues to nurture young mutants and teach them to control their powers at his school for the gifted, aided by original student, Hank McCoy, AKA Beast (Nicolas Hoult).  Meanwhile, bad guy Eric Lehnsherr, AKA Magneto (Michael Fassbender) works anonymously in a Polish steel mill.  While reluctant hero and mutant poster woman Raven, AKA Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) is a mercenary with a heart of gold, saving young mutants from things like slavery in underground fighting pits. (more…)

***2015 RECAP*** MOVIE REVIEW | Ex Machina (2015)

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“Impulse. Response. Fluid. Imperfect. Patterned. Chaotic.”

Every year, there are a handful of festival favourite movies.  Those slow burners that gradually make their way across the world, gaining rave reviews and increasing buzz with every step.  These movies and that slow burn almost always suck me in.  No massive bombardment of ads and promotional interviews with the stars.  Just solid, impossible to ignore, constant praise.  It must be about six months since I first heard a great review for Ex Machina.  And ever since, every few weeks, it pops up again, on some movie nerd podcast I listen to, or written about on some pop culture website I frequent.  And today, it finally made its way to me, so I can join in on the praise.


Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) wins a competition at work that all of his friends and colleagues seem very jealous of.  Working as some variety of coder at Blue Book, a Google-like search engine that is responsible for 94% of all internet searches, Caleb has won a week staying with Blue Book’s reclusive owner, Nathan (Oscar Isaac).  Once he arrives at Nathan’s secluded compound, he’s given a project.  Nathan has created Ava (Alicia Vikander), a robotic woman.  And now, he wants Caleb to administer a Turing Test and determine if Ava’s artificial intelligence is sophisticated enough to trick people into thinking she’s real. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

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“It’s true. All of it. The Dark Side, the Jedi. They’re real.”

I thought I was immune to the buzz that has preceded this movie for months. I love the original trilogy, I’m not a fan of the prequels and I had tried to keep my hopes down about this latest entry. But as the iconic Star Wars logo appeared on the screen to the familiar sounds of John William’s instantly recognisable theme, I felt butterflies in my stomach and my face went flush. As the opening text scrawl disappeared into the distance, I realised just how excited I was for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. And it spent the next two hours totally justifying that excitement.


Several decades after destroying the Empire and saving the galaxy, the last Jedi knight in the universe, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hammill), has disappeared. Believing he’s the key to winning a war against the evil First Order, General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) sends her best pilot (Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron) to the desert planet of Jakku to find a clue that could lead to Luke’s whereabouts. With the clue in hand, Poe is about to leave when the First Order attacks and slaughters an entire village on the order masked bad guy and broadsword lightsaber wielder, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). Moments before he’s captured, Poe hides the info about Luke in his BB-8 droid and sends the little robot away to hide. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Ex Machina (2015)

ex_machina_2015_movie-wide

“Impulse. Response. Fluid. Imperfect. Patterned. Chaotic.”

Every year, there are a handful of festival favourite movies.  Those slow burners that gradually make their way across the world, gaining rave reviews and increasing buzz with every step.  These movies and that slow burn almost always suck me in.  No massive bombardment of ads and promotional interviews with the stars.  Just solid, impossible to ignore, constant praise.  It must be about six months since I first heard a great review for Ex Machina.  And ever since, every few weeks, it pops up again, on some movie nerd podcast I listen to, or written about on some pop culture website I frequent.  And today, it finally made its way to me, so I can join in on the praise.


Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) wins a competition at work that all of his friends and colleagues seem very jealous of.  Working as some variety of coder at Blue Book, a Google-like search engine that is responsible for 94% of all internet searches, Caleb has won a week staying with Blue Book’s reclusive owner, Nathan (Oscar Isaac).  Once he arrives at Nathan’s secluded compound, he’s given a project.  Nathan has created Ava (Alicia Vikander), a robotic woman.  And now, he wants Caleb to administer a Turing Test and determine if Ava’s artificial intelligence is sophisticated enough to trick people into thinking she’s real. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | A Most Violent Year (2014)

A Most Violent Year

“When it feels scary to jump, that is exactly when you jump, otherwise you end up staying in the same place your whole life, and that I can’t do.”

I saw JC Chandor’s Margin Call a few years ago, and while it didn’t blow me away, it did make high end finance, the Global Financial Crisis and white collar crime pretty compelling. Then I saw JC Chandor’s All is Lost, with it’s maybe dozen words of dialogue and nothing more than Robert Redford battling the elements for a couple of hours. With All is Lost, I was officially blown away and Chandor’s name was on my list of directors to get excited about.


Then last year, his next movie kept popping up on the kinds of blogs and websites a movie nerd like me checks daily. He had the critically adored cast with Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain and Albert Brooks. He had the movie nerd look with its 70s, New York vibe. And he had a gritty storyline that looked like any sort of sentimentality would be impossible. So to say I was really looking forward to A Most Violent Year is a bit of an understatement. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

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It seems like I’ve been waiting forever for this movie to come out.  It must be at least a year since the first trailer appeared, then it won the Grand Prix at Cannes all the way back in May last year.  After a few festival appearances, I don’t think it even get a wide American release until a month or two ago.  But finally, the latest movie by Joel and Ethan Coen, possibly the most consistently interesting and reliable film makers working today, got released in Australia.  I finally got to see, Inside Llewyn Davis.

It’s 1961 New York and Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) is attempting a solo career as a folk musician after the suicide of his musical partner.  He’s in the middle of a destructive cycle of mediocre gigs, drinking too much, then sleeping on the couch of whichever friend he has pissed off the least lately.  While begging for refuge at the home of his friends Jim and Jean (Justin Timberlake and Carrie Mulliigan), Jean informs Davis that she’s pregnant, and it’s possibly his.

In search for money for an abortion, Davis seeks out gigs to play and couches to sleep on, he lowers himself to play as a session musician on a cheesy novelty song, takes an ill fated road trip to Chicago and falls lower and lower every step of the way, until he attempts to swallow his bride and take some responsibility for his life.  What should be the beginning of the redemption of Llewyn Davis actually sees him crash land at rock bottom, before digging deeper.  What do you do when even your last resort is no longer an option?

Because this is a Coen Brothers movie, some of the most entertaining moments are given to minor characters played by great actors who only pop up for moment or two here and there.  There’s John Goodman as a junkie jazz musician, F Murray Abraham as a dismissive record company exec, Adam Driver as…  I’m not sure how you’d describe his character.   The story might be Llewyn’s, but the best bits belong to the people he stumbles across along the way.

If you’ve seen any trailers or read any reviews, you probably know about the cat.  For the first half of Inside Llewyn Davis, the titular character spends a lot of his time trying to find, care for and return a cat that he mistakenly let out of a friends apartment.  Every time I thought I’d figured out what the cat meant thematically or symbolically, the Coen Brothers would throw something new at me, contradicting my latest theory.

Did it show Llewyn’s doomed attempts to care about something other than himself?  Does it represent is futile pursuit of fame and success through music?  Every time he thinks he’s found it, another obstacle is thrown in his path.  I have no idea, but being the Coen Brothers, it’s either the most profound statement ever made in film, or just some flippant idea they threw in there because it tickled them.  No one bounces between profundity and flippancy better than Joel and Ethan Coen.

Like their last proto-musical, O’ Brother Where Art Though, the Coens teamed up again with T Bone Burnett to put together the soundtrack.  And also like O Brother, it’s a major part of everything that’s really great about this movie.  The music is so good that I bought the soundtrack on the way home from the cinema.  But if you haven’t heard it yet or seen the movie, I really recommend watching the movie first.  All the songs are used so perfectly within the story, that having heard them before might have taken away some of their impact.

In the filmography of the Coens, I’m not sure where Inside Llewyn Davis falls.  Despite the odd moments of legit hilarity, there’s no way it goes with the wacked out comedy of Raising Arizona or Burn after Reading.  It’s not a genre exercise like Fargo, The Big Lebowski or Miller’s Crossing.  And it’s not tied to anyone else’s sensibility through adaptation like True Grit or No Country for Old men.  This is pure Joel and Ethan Coen in the vein of Barton Fink and the under seen A Serious Man, but without the bigger, more fantastical flourishes of those movies.  Inside Llewyn Davis is dark, cynical and border line depressing, if not for the moments of genuine hilarity the Brothers Coen let seep through every now and again.

Inside Llewyn Davis
Directed By – Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Written By – Joel Coen, Ethan Coen