Saturday, December 31, 2011

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol

Fourth time a charm?

 The inner workings of Hollywood can be a mysterious beast. Somewhere along the line, for some god forsaken reason, Mission: Impossible became the testing ground for untested directors to tread the blockbuster waters. First was J.J. Abrams, straight off TV success, with his surprisingly excellent M:I3 - a rare big budget blockbuster with intensity, strong characters and (lens) flair. And now the franchise has fallen into the unexpected hands of Brad Bird - the extraordinary animator responsible for The Incredibles, Ratatouille and Iron Giant, but a first-time live action director. It was a risky strategy, but one that pays some worthwhile dividends.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Review: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo


Say what you will about some of the films made by David Fincher - and I personally find it easy to say nasty things about Panic Room and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - but it's hard to say anything bad about the man himself. Even when the material they're working with isn't A-Grade, Fincher and his collaborators craft technically dazzling, stylistically ambitious and effortlessly cool films. When the scripts hit the mark - whether it be Se7en, Fight Club or The Social Network - the results are remarkable. He's almost certainly mainstream American cinema's most compelling directorial voice. And under his watchful eye, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is a slick and atmospheric adaptation (Fincher's fourth 'adaptation' in a row). It's that same adaptation part where the problems lie.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Entirely Pointless Film Ha Ha Annual Review 2011

Part Two: Best of Miscellaneous

Best Actor: Michael Shannon - Take Shelter
The man with the craziest eyes in America does it again. Take Shelter isn't without flaws, but Shannon's performance keeps you hooked even when the narrative doesn't. Portraying the desperate, confused Curtis, Shannon combines manic energy with emotive force to create a character unlike any other. It's the heartbreaking sequence in the storm shelter that propels this performance from the great to the transcendent.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Entirely Pointless Film Ha Ha Annual Review 2011


Yes, it's that time of the year again: every blogger, critic and their respective mothers are conjuring up lists of films they were fond of during a meaningless period of time! And who am I to deviate from tradition? No-one, that's who! So let's kick off the annual reflections with a list of Film Ha Ha's nineteen (yes, nineteen!) favored films of the year. I'm not really a fan of numbers, so I'm ordering them alphabetically. Chaos needs order, after all.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Review: Tabloid

Read all about it!

 While the critical response to Tabloid - Errol Morris' most recent feature documentary - has been largely favourable, there's a slight undercurrent of disappointment to be found in some commentator's opinions. This, they remark, is slightly 'lesser' Morris. Some make it obvious, others briefly allude to it not being 'his best'. It's certainly true that a deconstruction of a tabloid sex scandal isn't as 'grand' a theme as justice, warfare or (a favoured subject) the death penalty. However, can we begrudge Morris for tackling such a comparatively 'easy' target when the results are so exhilarating?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Review: Lotus Eaters

The discreet charm of the Bourgeoisie

Yesterday, I reviewed Charlie Casanova: a scathing critique of the upper-middle class lifestyle. A few hours later, I watched a film that couldn't have been more different. Lotus Eaters is a film that tries to document a similar class with none of the anger or value judgements. Charlie was loud and brash. Lotus Eaters is observant and subtle.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Review: Charlie Casanova


Charlie Casanova is a rant, a call-to-arms, an agenda and a sermon. It's barely a film - it's a stream of consciousness. There's the old saying in film-making that you should never tell the audience something when you can show them it instead. First-time director Terry McMahon, frankly, doesn't give a fuck.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Review: Another Earth

A Tale of Two Planets

I wanted to like Another Earth, I really did. I like the concept of an Earth doppleganger (people included) and the poetic possibilities that suggests. I love the good intentions behind a sci-fi film devoid of aliens, ray guns, space travel and all that other nonsense. I like that the filmmakers made a unique, technically impressive film for $200,000. I like co-writer / lead actress Brit Marling, who from the evidence has an exciting future ahead of her in both screenwriting and acting. And, most of all, I always like to cheer on the underdog from the sidelines.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Review: Underwater Love

Ichi Ni San Shi!

Underwater Love is unusual even by Japanese standards. It's being marketed as a 'pink musical', which only goes some of the way towards describing it. A pink film, by the way, is an unusual genre of softcore Japanese pornography where directors tend to try and actually tell an engaging story within their modest budgets and sex scene requirements. It's not quite the Dogma 95 of porn, but it's a noteworthy movement none the less, and has been going on for decades now with various degrees of critical and commercial success over time.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Review - Take Shelter

Storm a brewin'

The arthouse apocalypse movie - one of cinema's most unusual subgenres. From the Canadian Last Night, to the 'troubled-adolescent-forsees-world's-end-plus-becomes-superhero-in-the-process' joys of Donnie Darko, its always interesting when a filmmaker or two that aren't Roland Emmerich decide to make a film about impending doom. There was also Southland Tales, but we don't like to talk about that anymore. The last few months have coincidentally seen two offbeat, melancholic takes on all things apocalyptic  - Lars von Trier's aptly-named Melancholia (previously reviewed here on filmhaha), and Jeff Nichols' Take Shelter. There's probably more, but I'm too tired, lazy and apathetic to google it.