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Non-Review Review: A Simple Favour

At one point around the two-thirds mark of the film, an insurance claims investigator offers a recap of all the twists and turns of A Simple Favour to that point. “It’s bananas!” she observes.

She’s not wrong. A Simple Favour is modern film noir with a pitch black sense of humour, populated with two femme fatales and driven with an infectious enthusiasm. It is not a parody or a deconstruction of the genre, but instead a demented celebration. This is a film that revels in the tropes and the conventions of these sorts of layoured labyrinthine narratives, processing all the sharp turns and wacky reveals with an eager (and effectively disconcerting) smile on its face.

Picture perfect.

A Simple Favour often feels like an extended homage to the work of Gillian Flynn, filtered through the lens of Paul Feig. This combination works very well, going down like the kind of martini served in a freezing glass with ice-cold gin. Both Flynn and Feig share an acerbic sense of humour, and tendency to pick at the gender roles usually assigned by society. A Simple Favour might share some of its DNA with Gone Girl or Sharp Objects, but it also feels like the vicious and biting younger sibling of Bridesmaids or Spy.

A Simple Favour does suffer a little bit from the comparisons to Flynn’s work, and occasionally veers slightly too far into broad comedy, but it is powered by a sophisticated charm threaded with a pitch black sense of humour.

Red flags.

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Non-Review Review: The Shallows

The Shallows has a pretty great high concept that it stretches just far enough that it begins to creak, but not so far that it snaps back in the audience’s face.

The Shallows is very much a pulpy creature feature horror film, with a healthy dash of tourist anxieties thrown in for good measure. It is a film about a young surfer who finds herself stranded on a rock about two hundred metres from shore as she is menaced by a really determined shark. It is very much a high-tension high-stakes survival thriller, one that lends itself to pithy summaries like Jaws meets Phone Booth or Buried, where the part of Iraq is played by a menacing computer-generated shark.”

Still waters...

Still waters…

It is an absurd set up to sustain across a ninety-minute runtime, and it is to the credit of The Shallows that the movie realises this. The Shallows never resists the absurdity of its premise. It never hesitates or second-guesses itself. The film moves incredibly quickly, recognising that any moment where the tension slips is a moment at which the audience might begin question the underlying assumptions that hold the film together. Like its animal antagonist, The Shallows understands that it needs to keep moving forward if it is to survive.

The result is a survival horror movie less interested in subverting or deconstructing classic genre tropes than it is revelling in the pulpy possibilities of a story like this. The Shallows is much stronger for that.

Oh buoy...

Oh buoy…

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Non-Review Review: Savages

I am torn. Savages feels as if Oliver Stone somehow found a way to stream his thoughts on celluloid for the world to devour at their leisure. It’s bright, vibrant, random, illogical, contrary, obtuse, surreal and visceral – often all at the same time. It’s far too uneven to earn an unqualified recommendation, as it’s a disorienting mess of a film at the best of times. However, it’s also consistently interesting, a strangely compelling. Savagesmight be too all over the map to ever be consistently great (or even good), but it is never boring.

That’s a savage mask!

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Win! Savages Goodie Bags!

With thanks to the always lovely folks at Universal Pictures Ireland, we have some goodies to give away for Oliver Stone’s latest film, Savages. The cartel thriller has a phenomenal cast (including John Travolta, Salma Hayek, Benicio Del Toro, Taylor Kitsch, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Blake Lively) and opens in Ireland on 21st September 2012. It’s the story of two guys growing dope in Southern California who find their existence threatened when a Mexican cartel decides that a merger would beneficial.

To find out more about the movie, check out their facebook page here.

We have some prize packs to give away, each one including:

  • Sunglasses
  • Windbreaker
  • Bandana

If you’d like a chance to win these goodies, simply answer the question below.

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Non-Review Review: Green Lantern

Green Lantern is solidly middle of the road as far as superhero movies go. Perhaps in a less crowded (and less high quality) summer action season it would seem a stronger contender, but the film really shows as Warner Brothers’ first major attempt to produce a big-budget superhero film not directly related to Superman or Batman. It’s perfectly functional, managing to do everything it sets out to in a relatively efficient manner, but there’s never really a sense that the film exists as anything more than a series of plot points that need be checked in order for the movie to cross the finish line. Given the potential of the source material, as well as its relatively unique nature amongst the slew of generic superheroes, a functioning and formulaic adventure can’t help but feel like a bit of a disappointment.

Hal Jordan: Space Cop? It has a nice ring to it...

Note: We also have an introduction to the Green Lantern mythos available, if you’re interested in checking it out.

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Non-Review Review: The Town

It’s interesting to see how well Ben Affleck has redeemed himself as a director. After seeing Gone Baby Gone two years ago, I was willing to forgive the actor his roles in bad films like Jersey Girl, Phantoms and even Daredevil. I know he did Gigli too, but I can never forgive him for that. His second film behind the camera, The Town, demonstrates that he isn’t a one-hit wonder – but I have to admit that perhaps I am a bit disappointed. It isn’t that The Town is a bad or even an average film, it’s just one that I heard so much about that I had almost psyched myself up to watch. It’s a well-made exploration of urban decay which tackles its subjects with what seems (to a guy educated and living in a different country) to be a lot more honesty and neutrality than most films on the same subject matter.

So good it's criminal?

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