Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Crisp Criticism - "Lion", "Passengers", "Why Him?", "The Birth of a Nation"

Julien Faddoul

Lion **

A five-year-old Indian boy gets lost on the streets of Calcutta. He survives many challenges before being adopted by a couple in Australia; 25 years later, he sets out to find his lost family.
Overlong cross-continental tale of the “inspirational” kind. Based on fact, it works for the most part and is saved from mawkishness by a light touch and honest performances.

d – Garth Davis
w – Luke Davies   (Based on the Book by Saroo Brierley)
ph – Greig Fraser
pd – Chris Kennedy
m – Volker Bertelmann, Dustin O'Halloran
ed – Alexandre de Franceschi
cos – Cappi Ireland

p – Iain Canning, Angie Fielder, Emile Sherman

Cast: Dev Patel, Rooney Mara, Nicole Kidman, David Wenham, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Deepti Naval, Divian Ladwa, Abhishek Bharate, Sunny Pawar

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016/US)

Julien Faddoul

0 stars

d – Gareth Edwards
w – Chris Weitz, Tony Gilroy, John Knoll, Gary Whitta   (Based on the Characters Created by George Lucas)
ph – Greig Fraser
pd – Doug Chiang, Neil Lamont
m – Michael Giacchino
ed – John Gilroy, Colin Goudie, Jabez Olssen
cos – David Crossman, Glyn Dillon

p – Simon Emanuel, Kathleen Kennedy, Allison Shearmur

Cast: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, Jiang Wen, Forest Whitaker

Tedious set-pieces, drab characters, flat staging, banal writing, sloppy editing, over-length and a cynical raison d’etre are what make Rogue One a bad movie. I – not only in my capacity as a critic and historian of the cinema but merely as a citizen of a free country who takes it upon himself to regularly attend said medium as an audience member and endeavours to gleam entertainment and artistic enlightenment to pepper my life with – am able to suggest that with complete confidence, because, subjectively, anyone could.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Crisp Criticism - "Allied", "13th", "Mascots"

Julien Faddoul

Allied *

In 1942, an intelligence officer in North Africa encounters a female French Resistance fighter on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. When they reunite in London, their relationship is tested by the pressures of war.
Glossy, old-fashioned WWII thriller that is cordial and elegant enough but too often coats itself in marshmallow and is, therefore, dramatically inert.

d – Robert Zemeckis
w – Steven Knight
ph – Don Burgess
pd – Gary Freeman
m – Alan Silvestri
ed – Mick Audsley, Jeremiah O'Driscoll
cos – Joanna Johnston

p – Graham King, Steve Starkey, Robert Zemeckis

Cast: Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard, Lizzy Caplan, Matthew Goode, Jared Harris, Anton Lesser, August Diehl, Marion Bailey

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Crisp Criticism - "La La Land", "The Fits", "Things to Come", "Office Christmas Party"

Julien Faddoul

La La Land ***

A jazz pianist falls for an aspiring actress in Los Angeles.
Charming, infectious musical romance for the digital age that owes more than a whisper to Jacques Demy. It has a little more up its sleeve than one might expect, developing into a composed acknowledgement on the everyday trivialities that affect one’s aspirations. Those frustrated by its lack of new aesthetic ideas should be persuaded by its fierce commitment to bygone ones.

wd – Damien Chazelle
ph – Linus Sandgren
pd – David Wasco
m – Justin Hurwitz
ly – Benj Pasek, Justin Paul
ed – Tom Cross
cos – Mary Zophres

p – Fred Berger, Gary Gilbert, Jordan Horowitz, Marc Platt

Cast: Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, JK Simmons, Finn Wittrock, John Legend, Rosemarie DeWitt, Tom Everett Scott

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Crisp Criticism - "Moana", "Queen of Katwe", "Underworld: Blood Wars"

Julien Faddoul

Moana **

In Ancient Polynesia, when a terrible curse incurred by the demigod Maui reaches an impetuous Chieftain's daughter's island, she answers the Ocean's call to seek him out to set things right.
Gorgeous, lively Disney animated feature with an acute sense of the culture it depicts. Its heroine, who lacks any desire for romance or even pure assistance, is refreshing. But its score is only adequate and the plot itself is fairly uninspired.

d – John Musker, Ron Clements
co-d – Chris Williams, Don Hall
w – Jared Bush, John Musker, Ron Clements, Chris Williams, Don Hall, Pamela Ribbon, Aaron Kandell, Jordan Kandell
ph – Rob Dressel, Adolph Lusinsky
pd – Ian Gooding
m – Lin-Manuel Miranda, Opetaia Foa'I, Mark Mancina
ed – Jeff Draheim

p – Osnat Shurer

Cast: Auli'i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Rachel House, Temuera Morrison, Jemaine Clement, Nicole Scherzinger, Alan Tudyk

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Crisp Criticism - "The Founder", "Bad Santa 2", "Your Name"

Julien Faddoul

The Founder

The story of McDonald's founder Ray Kroc.
Completely stolid biopic with a script so thin it could’ve been written in crayon. There is no evidence here that the story behind McDonalds restaurants was worth telling.

d – John Lee Hancock
w – Robert D. Siegel
ph – John Schwartzman
pd – Michael Corenblith
m – Carter Burwell
ed – Robert Frazen
cos – Daniel Orlandi

p – Don Handfield, Jeremy Renner, Aaron Ryder

Cast: Michael Keaton, Laura Dern, Wilbur Fitzgerald, Linda Cardellini, Nick Offerman, John Carroll Lynch, Patrick Wilson, B.J. Novak, Kabby Borders, Valeri Rogers

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Crisp Criticism- "Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk", "Nocturnal Animals", "Cemetery of Splendour"

Julien Faddoul

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk **

A 19-year-old specialist soldier is brought home for a victory tour after a harrowing Iraq battle that was caught on tape.
A film that many may find a tough sit, not due to its content but rather its technique, which utilises a method of high-frame-rate photography that creates a jarring sense of tactility to the image and in its inhabitants (its director’s preference is for audiences to view it in 120fps 3D). The result is more akin to gazing out a window than viewing a cinema screen. It is certainly fascinating but seldom successful, particularly when married to the rather conventional story Lee wants to tell.

d – Ang Lee
w – Jean-Christophe Castelli   (Based on the Novel by Ben Fountain)
ph – John Toll
pd – Mark Friedberg
m – Mychael Danna, Jeff Danna
ed – Tim Squyres
cos – Joseph G. Aulisi

p – Ang Lee, Marc Platt, Stephen Cornwell, Rhodri Thomas

Cast: Joe Alwyn, Kristen Stewart, Chris Tucker, Garrett Hedlund, Vin Diesel, Steve Martin, Tim Blake Nelson, Makenzie Leigh

Monday, November 21, 2016

Crisp Criticism - "Fantastic Beasts and where to Find Them", "Trolls", "Morgan", "Almost Christmas"

Julien Faddoul

Fantastic Beasts and where to Find Them

The adventures of a writer in New York's secret community of witches and wizards seventy years before Harry Potter.
Interminable spin-off of Rowling’s Harry Potter series with a great deal of infantile claptrap going on, none of it particularly interesting or “fantastic.” It is a shame that an adolescent entertainment on magicians should be this counterfeit.

d – David Yates
w – JK Rowling
ph – Philippe Rousselot
pd – Stuart Craig, James Hambidge
m – James Newton Howard
ed – Mark Day
cos – Colleen Atwood

p – David Heyman, JK Rowling, Lionel Wigram, Steve Kloves

Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Colin Farrell, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, Samantha Morton, Carmen Ejogo, Jon Voight, Ron Perlman, Josh Cowdery, Ronan Raftery, Faith Wood-Blagrove, Jenn Murray

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Arrival (2016/US)

Julien Faddoul

* (1 star)

d – Denis Villeneuve
w – Eric Heisserer   (Based on the Short Story by Ted Chaing)
ph – Bradford Young
pd – Patrice Vermette
m – Jóhann Jóhannsson
ed – Joe Walker
cos – Renée April

p – Shawn Levy, Dan Levine, Aaron Ryder, David Linde

Cast: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg, Tzi Ma, Mark O'Brien, Russell Yuen

Writing a review for Arrival is a bothersome task, at least for me. This is a teasing, gripping science fiction drama that keeps its thematic animus a secret until the film’s climax, which, in my case, completely destroyed all that had come before in a blaze of frustration, ineptness and utter stupidity. So how, dear reader, do I write a comprehensive encapsulation of my experience for you to capitalize on without revealing the film’s secret – since that is really the fulcrum of said experience? Let me try.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Crisp Criticism - "Hacksaw Ridge", "The Light Between Oceans", "American Honey"

Julien Faddoul

Hacksaw Ridge *

WWII American Army Medic Desmond T. Doss, who served during the Battle of Okinawa, refuses to kill people and becomes the first Conscientious Objector in American history to win the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Clumsy, by-the-numbers war film based on fact that administers almost every piece of WWII didacticism one can imagine. Only in its second half does it obtain any energy, in which its director flaunts the kind of blood and guts that he adores so much.

d – Mel Gibson
w – Andrew Knight, Robert Schenkkan
ph – Simon Duggan
pd – Barry Robinson
m – Rupert Gregson-Williams
ed – John Gilbert
cos – Lizzy Gardiner

p – Terry Benedict, Paul Currie, Bruce Davey, William D. Johnson, Bill Mechanic, Brian Oliver, David Permut, Tyler Thompson

Cast: Andrew Garfield, Vince Vaughn, Teresa Palmer, Sam Worthington, Rachel Griffiths, Matthew Nable Luke Bracey Hugo Weaving Richard Roxburgh Nathaniel Buzolic Ryan Corr Goran D. Kleut Firass Dirani

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Crisp Criticism - "The Accountant", "Hell or High Water", "Elle"

Julien Faddoul

The Accountant *

As a math savant works the books for a new client, the Treasury Department closes in on his activities and the body count starts to rise.
An intriguing premise sustains this action/thriller for about half its runtime until it succumbs to ridiculousness, with an endless array of red herrings. Good cast.

d – Gavin O’Connor
w – Bill Dubuque
ph – Seamus McGarvey
pd – Keith P. Cunningham
m – Mark Isham
ed – Richard Pearson
cos – Nancy Steiner

p – Lynette Howell Taylor, Mark Williams

Cast: Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, JK Simmons, Jon Bernthal, Jeffrey Tambor, John Lithgow, Jean Smart

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Crisp Criticism - "Doctor Strange", "Julieta", "Take Me to the River", "Certain Women"

Julien Faddoul

Doctor Strange *

After his career is destroyed, a brilliant but arrogant surgeon gets a new lease on life when a sorcerer takes him under his wing and trains him to defend the world against evil.
Stunning visual effects and an energetic cast help enliven the latest Marvel episode to a moderate level of distinction from its relatives. But, ultimately, it remains a Marvel movie and therefore suffers from incoherent fight scenes, dull villains, rampant sarcasm and a metaphysical logic that completely falls apart if one comprehends it for longer than 10 seconds.

d – Scott Derrickson
w – Jon Spaihts, Scott Derrickson, C. Robert Cargill   (Based on the Comic Book by Stan Lee, Steve Ditko)
ph – Ben Davis
pd – Charles Wood
m – Michael Giacchino
ed – Sabrina Plisco, Wyatt Smith
cos – Alexandra Byrne

p – Kevin Feige

Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Mads Mikkelsen, Benedict Wong, Benjamin Bratt, Michael Stuhlbarg, Scott Adkins

Friday, October 21, 2016

Crisp Criticism - "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back", "Cafe Society", "Shin Godzilla", "Keeping Up with the Joneses"

Julien Faddoul

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

Jack Reacher returns to the headquarters of his old unit, only to find out he's now accused of a 16-year-old homicide.
Dull, visually flat sequel that feels so inconsequential it just about evaporates before your eyes. It’s star seems even more miscast than before and Zwick seems to have lost all the aptitude he once had.

d – Edward Zwick
w – Richard Wenk, Edward Zwick, Marshall Herskovitz   (Based on the Book by Lee Child)
ph – Oliver Wood
pd – Clay A. Griffith
m – Henry Jackman
ed – Billy Weber
cos – Lisa Lovaas

p – Don Granger, Tom Cruise, Christopher McQuarrie

Cast: Tom Cruise, Cobie Smulders, Aldis Hodge, Danika Yarosh, Patrick Heusinger, Holt McCallany, Austin Hébert

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Crisp Criticism - "The Girl on the Train", "Masterminds", "Inferno", "Other People"

Julien Faddoul

The Girl on the Train

A divorcee becomes entangled in a missing persons investigation that may involve her more than she realizes.
A thriller that invites one’s laughter at every opportunity: Ridiculously plotted and hysterically directed, it attempts to soak its audience in the misery of its characters so aggressively that all seriousness feels abrogated.

d – Tate Taylor
w – Erin Cressida Wilson   (Based on the Novel by Paula Hawkins)
ph – Charlotte Bruus Christensen
pd – Kevin Thompson
m – Danny Elfman
ed – Andrew Buckland, Michael McCusker
cos – Michelle Matland, Ann Roth

p – Jared LeBoff, Marc Platt

Cast: Emily Blunt, Rebecca Ferguson, Haley Bennett, Luke Evans, Laura Prepon, Edgar Ramírez, Allison Janney, Justin Theroux, Lisa Kudrow, Marko Caka, Darren Goldstein

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Crisp Criticism - "Deepwater Horizon", "Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children", "Storks", "Hillsong: Let Hope Rise"

Julien Faddoul

Deepwater Horizon *

A story set on the offshore drilling rig Deepwater Horizon, which exploded during April 2010 and created the worst oil spill in U.S. history.
Savage disaster film, focusing less on the environmental consequences of the oil spill and more on the men who lost their lives due to managerial corruptness. It works best when its director revels in workman-like sequences of the day-to-day operations. But in all the ultimate chaos and bravado, the film never reaches any reflective point; content to merely shake its audience with illustrations of catastrophe.

d – Peter Berg
w – Matthew Michael Carnahan, Matthew Sand   (Based on the Article by David Rohde, Stephanie Saul)
ph – Enrique Chediak
pd – Chris Seagers
m – Steve Jablonsky
ed – Gabriel Fleming, Colby Parker Jr
cos – Kasia Walicka-Maimone

p – Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Mark Vahradian, David Womark

Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, John Malkovich, Gina Rodriguez, Dylan O'Brien, Kate Hudson

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Crisp Criticism - "The Magnificent Seven", "The Red Turtle", "The Sea of Trees"

Julien Faddoul

The Magnificent Seven

Seven gunmen in the old west gradually come together to help a poor village against savage thieves.
Big-budget remake of the 1960 John Sturges film, which itself is a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, which completely lacks the integrity of either. It makes no attempt to deal with the moral obligations that can plague a community (which Sturges explores thoroughly and Kurosawa practically invented). The cast here is a mixed bag of fun and irritating and the action scenes all exhibit the incompetence of the modern era of cinematic incomprehensiveness.

d – Antoine Fuqua
w – Nic Pizzolatto, Richard Wenk   (Based on the Screenplay by Akira Kurosawa, Shinobu Hashimoto, Hideo Oguni)
ph – Mauro Fiore
pd – Derek R. Hill
m – Simon Franglen, James Horner
ed – John Refoua
cos – Sharen Davis

p – Roger Birnbaum, Todd Black

Cast: Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D'Onofrio, Matt Bomer, Lee Byung-hun, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Martin Sensmeier, Peter Sarsgaard, Haley Bennett

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Crisp Criticism - "Pete's Dragon", "Snowden", "Yoga Hosers"

Julien Faddoul

Pete’s Dragon ***

The adventures of an orphaned boy named Pete and his best friend Elliot, who just so happens to be a dragon.
Wistful, moving and utterly unpretentious family film/remake from Disney with a refreshing sense of bluntness and respect toward its target audience. It is less like the typical film from its studio (it resembles its previous incarnation very little) and owes much more to the films of Hayao Miyazaki.

d – David Lowry
w – David Lowry, Toby Halbrooks   (Based on the Screenplay by Malcolm Marmorstein)
ph – Bojan Bazelli
pd – Jade Healy
m – Daniel Hart
ed – Lisa Zeno Churgin
cos – Amanda Neale

p – James Whitaker

Cast: Oakes Fegley, Bryce Dallas Howard, Karl Urban, Robert Redford, Wes Bentley, Isiah Whitlock Jr, Oona Laurence

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Crisp Criticism - "Blair Witch", "Bridget Jones’ Baby", "Captain Fantastic", "The Confirmation"

Julien Faddoul

Blair Witch

Students on a camping trip discover something sinister is lurking beyond the trees.
Weak sequel to the treasured and influential 1999 horror film that updates the technology involved but little else. It is more aggressively frightening than its predecessor which, ironically, and perhaps unsurprisingly, makes it far less effective.

d – Adam Wingard  
w – Simon Barrett
ph – Robby Baumgartner
pd – Thomas S. Hammock
m – Adam Wingard  
ed – Louis Cioffi
cos – Katia Stano

p – Jess Calder, Keith Calder, Roy Lee, Steven Schneider

Cast: Corbin Reid, Wes Robinson, Valorie Curry, James Allen McCune, Callie Hernandez, Brandon Scott

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Crisp Criticism - "Sully", "The Secret Life of Pets", "The Club", "Disorder"

Julien Faddoul

Sully ***

The Miracle on the Hudson: January 15th 2009, US Airways Flight 1549 makes an emergency landing on the Hudson River. Led by Cap. Chesley Sullenberger, all 155 passengers and crew miraculously survive unharmed.
Riveting, tight, quiet procedural of a real event that works more like an alienating meditation on duty and strategy. It is made with its director’s typical classicist treatment, proving here that he (when he pulls it off) is singular is his construction of dramatic panache and making it seem effortless. It is a superb example of plainspoken cinema, assembled by a master craftsman.

d – Clint Eastwood
w – Todd Komarnicki   (Based on the Book by Chesley Sullenberger, Jeffrey Zaslow)
ph – Tom Stern
pd – James J. Murakami
m – Christian Jacob, Tierney Sutton Band, Clint Eastwood
ed – Blu Murray
cos – Deborah Hopper

p – Clint Eastwood, Frank Marshall, Allyn Stewart, Tim Moore

Cast: Tom Hanks, Aaron Eckhart, Laura Linney, Anna Gunn, Autumn Reeser, Holt McCallany, Mike O’Malley, Jamey Sheridan, Jerry Ferrara, Molly Hagan, Max Adler, Sam Huntington, Wayne Bastrup, Valeria Mahaffey, Jeff Kober

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Crisp Criticism - "Free State of Jones", "The Infiltrator", "Blood Father", "Don't Breathe"

Julien Faddoul

Free State of Jones *

A white Southerner falls for a slave and consequently rebels against the Confederacy.
Despite some effectively tense sequences, this falls into biographical tedium fairly quickly; content to provide almost all its thematic power through endless onscreen speeches.

wd – Gary Ross
ph – Benoit Delhomme
pd – Philip Messina
m – Nicholas Britell
ed – Pamela Martin, Juliette Welfling
cos – Louise Frogley

p – Jon Kilik, Gary Ross, Scott Stuber

Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Mahershala Ali, Keri Russell, Jacob Lofland, Sean Bridgers, Brad Carter

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Crisp Criticism - "War Dogs", "Indignation", "Ben-Hur"

Julien Faddoul

War Dogs

Based on the true story of two young men who won a $300 million contract from the Pentagon to arm America's allies in Afghanistan.
A grab-bag of Scorsesesque tricks by Phillips that never convince. Most of it is crass without any conductivity. Hill at least gives it some amusement.

d – Todd Phillips
w – Todd Phillips, Stephen Chin, Jason Smilovic   (Based on the Article by Guy Lawson)
ph – Lawrence Sher
pd – Bill Brzeski
m – Cliff Martinez
ed – Jeff Groth
cos – Michael Kaplan

p – Mark Gordon, Todd Phillips, Bradley Cooper

Cast: Miles Teller, Jonah Hill, Ana de Armas, Bradley Cooper, Barry Livingston, Brenda Koo, Jeff Pierre, Shaun Toub

Monday, August 22, 2016

Kubo and the Two Strings (2016/US)

Julien Faddoul

*** (3 stars)

d – Travis Knight
w – Marc Haimes, Chris Butler, Shannon Tindle
ph – Frank Passingham
pd – Nelson Lowry
m – Dario Marianelli
ed – Christopher Murrie
cos – Deborah Cook

p – Travis Knight, Arianne Sutner

Cast: Art Parkinson, Charlize Theron, Rooney Mara, Matthew McConaughey, Ralph Fiennes, Brenda Vaccaro, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, George Takei

Stories, like any art form, are a way for people to express their inner most feelings with one another. Therefore, their importance is irrefutable. It’s their fragility that can sometimes be cause for concern. Stories, depending on who is telling them, can inspire both love and hate; truth and lies; illusion and insight.