Advertisements
    Advertisements
  • Following Us

  • Categories

  • Check out the Archives









  • Awards & Nominations

  • Advertisements

Non-Review Review: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)

Ben Stiller recently explained that he was growing more interested in directing and less interested in acting in front of the camera. Even if he hadn’t confessed that in an interview, it would be hard to shake that feeling while watching The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. It’s beautifully shot and contains a number of impressive sequences and set pieces, but ultimately feels a little hollow – like a beautifully-sketched picture inhabited by two-dimensional characters.

There are moments of splendor and beauty to be found in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, but often in spite Steve Conrad’s script rather than because of it.

Daydream believer...

Daydream believer…

Continue reading

Advertisements

Doctor Who: The Greatest Show in the Galaxy (Review)

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the longest-running science-fiction show in the world, I’ll be taking weekly looks at some of my own personal favourite stories and arcs, from the old and new series, with a view to encapsulating the sublime, the clever and the fiendishly odd of the BBC’s Doctor Who.

The Greatest Show in the Galaxy originally aired in 1988.

Sometimes I think it’s you that’s crazy, not Deadbeat here.

Anybody remotely interesting is mad in some way or another.

– Ace and the Doctor cut to the heart of Doctor Who

It’s very hard to believe that The Greatest Show in the Galaxy aired as the final story of the twenty-fifth season of Doctor Who. Stories like Remembrance of the Daleks and Silver Nemesis were clearly anniversary fodder, celebrating the progress of the show to this point. The Happiness Patrol was a delightfully surreal oddity that has only really been noticed by the general public in recent years, with news breaking in 2010 that Andrew Cartmel had been using Doctor Who to tell politically subversive stories. Which, I suppose, confirms just how few people were watching The Happiness Patrol in 1988.

The Greatest Show in the Galaxy is as concerned with the legacy of Doctor Who as Remembrance of the Daleks or Silver Nemesis, but it lacks the nostalgic shine. Instead, it’s a stunningly bitter piece of television that offers a pretty damning indictment of what Doctor Who had become by the late eighties, a critique of selling out and chasing ratings and living in constant fear that the gods of entertainment – the middle-class families so desperately courted and so carefully catered to – might tune out and consign the show to oblivion.

The Doctor welcomes you to The Greatest Show in the Galaxy...

The Doctor welcomes you to The Greatest Show in the Galaxy…

Continue reading

Non-Review Review: Now You See Me

Now You See Me hinges on its final twist. How you react to that twist will define what you think of the movie. Cynics would argue that it’s a rather trite and cliché way of wrapping up a generic mystery with flash distracting from substance, with director Louis Leterrier frantically trying (and failing) to paper over the ever-widening cracks in narrative logics. Others will forgive it as theatrical excess, acknowledging that – though crucial – the denouement isn’t all that is worth appreciating in a magic trick. True magic is an artform, a narrative worth appreciating for technique and wit as much as to grasp the final turn.

The last act might let it down a bit (quite a bit), but Now You See Me spends most of its runtime as an enjoyable romp watching charming people engage in amusing set pieces. There’s a showmanship to it, an energy and flair. Leterrier often feels like he’s cobbling the film together as it threatens to rocket away from him, but there a pulpy energy that manages to hold the house of cards together until the last possible moment.

Lighting up the room...

Lighting up the room…

Continue reading

Non-Review Review: Les Misérables

It’s hard not to admire Les Misérables. It’s the first honest-to-goodness entirely sincere and mostly unironic big budget musical that we’ve seen released in quite some time. While song and dance will always be a part of the movies (The Muppets, for example, carrying many a dainty tune last year), there’s something quite impressive about seeing a music as epic and as iconic as Les Misérables carried across to the big screen. The stage musical became something of a cultural phenomenon on the West End, and Tom Hooper does an effective job of transitioning from stage to screen – even if he doesn’t consistently capitalise on the format shift.

There are some fundamental problems. The second half is a little too awkwardly paced and too disjointed to come together as well as it should, and Hooper seems to have a great deal pitching the right amount of camp (and humour) for an Oscar-bait musical about the aftermath of the French revolution. However, if you can look past those problems, the opening half is a superbly staged musical and the performances are impressive. Including the much maligned Russell Crowe, who might – hear me out – be the best thing about the film.

Sing when you're winning... or at least nominated...

Sing when you’re winning… or at least nominated…

Continue reading

Immatürity for Charity, Tonight, 9.30pm, RTÉ 2

Christmas is often the time to indulge your inner child, so Immatürity for Charity seems perfectly suited for a post-holiday comedic treat. I had the pleasure of checking out a preview of it last week, and it is deliciously juvenile. It is, as the title suggests, a decidedly low-brow comedy sketch show, the kind of thing that could easily grate if it weren’t handled with the right amount of skill and enthusiasm. Luckily, writer (and star) Domhnall Glesson and director John Butler have done an outstanding job. Not all the sketches included are absolutely pitch-perfect, but the beauty of sketch comedy is that if you don’t like what you’re watching, well… another will be along shortly.

Domhnall Gleeson - IFC

Continue reading

The Spirit Archives, Vol. 11 (Review/Retrospective)

I have to admit that I feel a bit guilty for glossing over the World War II era of The Spirit. The era tends to get ignored because Will Eisner effectively handed over control of the strip to a variety of writers and artists while serving in the Armed Forces. The talent involved professionals like Jack Cole and Lou Fine, so it’s hardly as if it was neglected. Still, without Eisner’s passion driving the strip, it seemed to lose its way slightly. The aesthetic shifted even further the longer Eisner was away. Fans skipping from the first collection of post-Eisner work (The Spirit Archives, Vol. 5) to the work included here will see a radical change in style. While there was still a strong influence from Eisner, the comic simply didn’t look right. However, the differences extended deeper as well. On some primal level, The Spirit of the World War II era didn’t really feel right either.

Hounded by the Spirit of Will Eisner…

Continue reading

Non-Review Review: The Phantom of the Opera (1943)

The Phantom of the Opera is something of an outlier in the Universal monster movie blu ray collection. It’s the only film in the collection available in colour but, more than that, it’s really the only film in the collection that doesn’t have a serious claim to being the definitive big screen adaptation of its source material. I have to admit I’m a bit disappointed that they didn’t include the 1925 adaptation starring Lon Chaney in the title role, as it’s certainly one of the forerunners to the subgenre that would be launched by Dracula in 1931. The 1943 version of Phantom of the Opera is easily the weakest film in the set. Although not without its charms, it feels just a little bit too mangled and messy to try be a classic horror film.

In the gutter, looking at the stars…

Continue reading