Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Crisp Criticism - "Bridge of Spies", "Burnt", "The Lobster"

Julien Faddoul

Bridge of Spies **

An American lawyer is recruited by the CIA during the Cold War to help rescue a pilot detained in the Soviet Union.
Dogged political drama from its director that only partially engrosses: Filled with classical compositions and cinematic outflow, it works best as a model pattern for his current sensibilities and his ongoing fascination with the stamina it requires for the average human being to save another.

d – Steven Spielberg
w – Matt Charman, Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
ph – Janusz Kaminski
pd – Adam Stockhausen
m – Thomas Newman
ed – Michael Kahn
cos – Kasia Walicka-Maimone 

p – Steven Spielberg, Marc Platt, Kristie Macosko Krieger

Cast: Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance, Amy Ryan, Alan Alda, Austin Stowell, Eve Hewson, Billy Magnussen, Michael Simon Hall, Edward James Hyland, Stephen Kunken, Mike Houston, James Lorinz, Michael Power, Joe Starr, Merab Ninidze, Greg Nutcher, Scott Shepherd, Jesse Plemons, Domenick Lombardozzi, Sebastian Koch, Michael Gaston, Peter McRobbie, Joshua Harto, Mark Zak, Marko Caka, John Ohkuma

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Beasts of No Nation (2015/US)

Julien Faddoul

* (1 star)

wd – Cary Joji Fukunaga   (Based on the Novel by Uzodinma Iweala)
ph – Cary Joji Fukunaga
pd – Inbal Weinberg
m – Dan Romer
ed – Pete Beaudreau, Mikkel E.G. Nielsen 
cos – Jenny Eagan

p – Cary Joji Fukunaga, Amy Kaufman, Riva Marker, Daniela Taplin Lundberg

Cast: Abraham Attah, Idris Elba, Opeyemi Fagbohungbe, Richard Pepple, Ama Abebrese

Beasts of No Nation is a well-intentioned and proficient film that is generally unremarkable in almost every way. It was writer/director Cary Joji Fukunaga’s passion project for the better part of a decade. It is based on the 2005 novel by Uzodinma Iweala, his debut work. Mr Fukunaga shot the film over the course of 35 days in Ghana, acting as his own Director of Photography. So why is there such a cinematic void at the centre of the film?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Crisp Criticism - "Crimson Peak", "Legend", "Queen of Earth"

Julien Faddoul

Crimson Peak *

After a family tragedy, an aspiring author is swept away to a handsome man’s castle, which is haunted by ghosts.
Meticulously designed paean to Gothic Romance and melodrama that never surpasses being simply an exercise in style. Del Toro’s affection for said style is evident, but his implementation lacks both coherence and, in regard to his cartoony CG ghosts, cinematic ambition.

d – Guillermo del Toro
w – Guillermo del Toro, Matthew Robbins
ph – Dan Laustsen
pd – Thomas E. Sanders
m – Fernando Velázquez
ed – Bernat Vilaplana
cos – Kate Hawley

p – Guillermo del Toro, Callum Greene, Jon Jashni, Thomas Tull

Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston, Charlie Hunnam, Jim Beaver, Burn Gorman, Javier Botet

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Crisp Criticism - "The Walk", "Macbeth", "Faults", "Learning to Drive", "Miss You Already"

Julien Faddoul

The Walk *

The story of French high-wire artist Philippe Petit's attempt to cross the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in 1974.
Cartoony, unnecessary fictional adaptation of the famous event (considering the 2008 documentary Man on Wire is an infinitely better film). Zemeckis stages the walk itself with the virtuoso cinematic anxiety that one would expect from him, but the script and performances are cringe-worthy.

d – Robert Zemeckis
w – Robert Zemeckis, Christopher Browne   (Based on the Book by Philippe Petit)
ph – Dariusz Wolski
pd – Naomi Shohan
m – Alan Silvestri
ed – Jeremiah O’Driscoll
cos – Suttirat Anne Larlarb

p – Jack Rapke, Tom Rothman, Steve Starkey, Robert Zemeckis

Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ben Kingsley, Charlotte Le Bon, Ben Schwartz, James Badge Dale, Steve Valentine, Mark Camacho, Sergio Di Zio, Clément Sibony, Kwasi Songui, Melantha Blackthorne, Benedict Samuel, Jason Blicker, Larry Day, Karl Graboshas

Monday, October 12, 2015

Crisp Criticism - "Black Mass", "The Tribe", "The Diary of a Teenage Girl", "The Mend", "Goodnight Mommy"

Julien Faddoul

Black Mass

Whitey Bulger, the brother of a state senator and the most infamous violent criminal in the history of South Boston, becomes an FBI informant to take down a Mafia family invading his turf.
Total Scorsese-lite: An overblown retelling of a true story about male bonding, amid gangster clichés and exaggerated performances.

d – Scott Cooper   
w – Mark Mallouk, Jez Butterworth   (Based on the Book by Dick Lehr and Gerard O'Neill)
ph – Masanobu Takayanagi
pd – Stefania Cella
m – Tom Holkenborg
ed – David Rosenbloom
cos – Kasia Walicka-Maimone   

p – Scott Cooper, John Lesher, Patrick McCormick, Brian Oliver, Tyler Thompson

Cast: Johnny Depp, Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dakota Johnson, Kevin Bacon, Jesse Plemons, Corey Stoll, Peter Sarsgaard, Juno Temple, Adam Scott, Julianne Nicholson, Rory Cochrane, W. Earl Brown

Friday, October 2, 2015

The Martian (2015/US)

Julien Faddoul

** (2 stars)

d – Ridley Scott
w – Drew Goddard   (Based on the Book by Andy Weir)
ph – Dariusz Wolski
pd – Arthur Max
m – Harry Gregson-Williams
ed – Pietro Scalia
cos – Janty Yates

p – Mark Huffam, Simon Kinberg, Michael Schaefer, Ridley Scott, Aditya Sood

Cast: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kate Mara, Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Peña, Aksel Hennie, Sebastian Stan, Kristen Wiig, Sean Bean, Donald Glover

A little over halfway through The Martian, we witness a discussion being had by 5 members of the crew of Hermes, a spacecraft that was sent to Mars for NASA’s Ares III manned-mission, led by Commander Melissa Lewis (Jessica Chastain). The discussion concerns whether they are willing to defy orders placed by NASA and breach security in order to save the life of a friend. The discussion is one of rational and systematic thought, deliberated by experienced astronauts (Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, Michael Pena, Aksel Hennie) who know what they are talking about. It is shot and cut in a way that emphasizes its judiciousness, as well as its philosophical subtext, for the question is ultimately not whether one saves the life of a friend, but whether one, under any circumstance, must save the life of another human.