Film review – Monsters vs. Aliens (2009)

29 March 2009

mva002cc-low-res

The latest film to boast both state-of-the-art computer animation and 3D effects is Monsters vs. Aliens from Dreamworks. The premise is as simple as its title suggests – when aliens invade earth the government fight back with a bunch of monsters that they have been secretly hiding from the rest of the population. The monsters are all loosely based on classic 1950s horror monsters. There is a giant woman, a giant insect, a mad scientist who has turned himself into a cockroach, a gelatinous blob and a reptile man. The alien invaders and their robotic warriors also evoke 1950s science-fiction classics such as The War of the Worlds, It Came from Outer Space and The Day the Earth Stood Still. The result is a fun blend of action and humour yet the film can only really be described as mildly entertaining.

Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

Cinema Autopsy on the 81st Academy Awards Nominees

29 January 2009
Kate Winslet as Hanna Schmitz  in The Reader

Kate Winslet as Hanna Schmitz in The Reader

The nominees for the 81st Academy Awards have recently been released and like most critics and film buffs that I know I am far more interested and excited by the outcome than I like to admit. The Academy Awards are notoriously political, conservative and populist, and are rarely a barometer of good quality filmmaking. In just the past ten years two extremely average films (Shakespeare in Love and Crash) and four popular good-but-not-that-great films (Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind, Chicago and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King) have won the Best Motion Picture of the Year award. But then again, American Beauty very much deserved its win and I was also pleased when Million Dollar Baby won. The last two years have actually seen awards go to deserving recipients across the board and giving the top prize to The Departed and No Country for Old Men made me think that the standards have lifted at the Academy.

I’ll post another piece closer to the time with my notoriously inaccurate predictions about who will win and who I think should win, but for now I thought I’d share my thoughts about the actual nominations.

Read the rest of this entry »


Top Ten Films of 2008

28 January 2009

Catching up from 2007

For my top ten films of 2008 list I’ve decided to only include films given a theatrical release in Australia in 2008. So I would like to first mention the following films that I finally saw in 2008, which I would have included on my 2007 list had I seen them in time:

No Country for Old Men (Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, 2007)
4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days (Cristian Mungiu, 2007)
The Jammed (Dee McLachlan, 2007)
Noise (Matthew Saville, 2007)

While there is not much for me to say about No Country for Old Men and 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days that hasn’t been said already, it was tremendous coming back to Australia mid way through 2008 and discovering that films of the calibre of The Jammed and Noise were being made and getting the acclaim that they deserve.

Top Ten films released theatrically in Australia in 2008*:

1. There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2007)

Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis)

Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) from There Will Be Blood

Every new Paul Thomas Anderson film is somehow better than last and There Will Be Blood is his greatest triumph yet. While Anderson’s previous films have a distinctive American independent film feel to them, There Will Be Blood takes on the grand narrative of a classical Hollywood epic but is closer in tone to the maverick spirit of Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941). In the final scene, the low angel shot of Daniel Day Lewis charging down the bowling lane is a spine tingling moment of perfect cinema. This is probably the only film released in 2008 that will eventually be regarded as a classic.

Read the rest of this entry »