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21st Century Treasure Quests

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21st Century Treasure Quests

  1. 1. Bridge of Spies (2015— Director: Steven Spielberg) While the cra!smanship is evident, the passion isn’t as much, rendering this Cold War thriller a lower-tier e"ort for Spielberg. Much of the dour and slow-paced attention on Tom Hanks as he waits in Berlin for German and Soviet higher-ups to find a reason to thwart a trade-o" of spies, ought to have been diverted to the courtroom segment. Mark Rylance shines among the cast as the calm and collected Soviet spy whose detainment sets the plot running. Creed (2015 — Director: Ryan Coogler) A remarkable sophomore e"ort by Fruitvale Station director Ryan Coogler that works well as a spin-
  2. 2. o" to the iconic Rocky franchise while injecting its own impressive cinematic flourish. Jordan manages to rebound following his forgettable stint in Fantastic 4, but it is Stallone who, by tapping into a character arc that now spans four decades, gives one of the most astounding performances of his career. The Good Dinosaur (2015 — Director: Peter Sohn) Inside Out may be the better film, but this second Pixar o"ering of 2015 compensates for its subject matter's lack of complexity with utterly gorgeous, photo-realistic animation resulting in some breathtaking landscapes. That, combined with a raw, Western-influenced take on the elemental story of a young dinosaur struggling to become an adult, makes for one of the more poetic cinematic experiences of 2015.
  3. 3. Goosebumps (2015 — Director: Rob Letterman) A fun, if mostly harmless, family- horror adventure with ample scares for the non-hardcore horror cinephiles. Filling the story with a “greatest hits" package of villains from the popular eponymous book series was a smart move, not to mention the choice casting of central villain Jack Black, an entertainingly-possessed, fictionalized version of the series’ author. His character traits elicit considerable audience emotion, even though the plot is mostly confined to a single night. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 (2015 — Director: Francis Lawrence) It amazes me how this young adult
  4. 4. franchise fell so tremendously via the unfortunate decision to split its final installment into two films a!er a solid first entry and an even-better sequel. The source material’s narrative flaws find their way into this slow, tiring final entry that, despite having some nail-biting action sequences, tries too desperately to convince us that its central character, Katniss Everdeen, remains vital to the narrative. In the Heart of the Sea (2015 — Director: Ron Howard) Director Ron Howard realizes an intriguing premise in the most ephemeral, haphazardly-shot manner possible. His editors further disappoint by framing the inspiration for Herman Melville’s epic 'Moby Dick' with awkward conversations between the author and the least interesting member of his ship’s crew.
  5. 5. The Ratings 1 chest: Definitely worth missing 2 chests: Okay to kill some time 3 chests: Not a complete success, but rewarding 4 chests: Well cra!ed, creative and memorable 5 chests: A real treasure, deep, profound and original Concussion (2015—Director: Peter Landesman) A!er conducting an autopsy on a former NFL football player, Dr. Bennet Omalu identifies a neurological disorder related to head trauma and tries to quell the alarming number of players facing a similar diagnosis. Unfortunately, the filmmakers don’t focus on the medical findings nor present the NFL’s response in a credible fashion. Instead they make the doctors overly heroic, demonise the NFL, and turn what could have been an intelligent investigative expose into a typical black and white narrative. Furthermore, a needless romantic sub-
  6. 6. plot detracts from the immediate drama at hand and under-utilises Gugu Mbatha- Raw’s acting talents. On the plus side, Will Smith gives a dedicated performance as Dr. Omalu, and the supporting characters authentically played by Albert Brooks and Alec Baldwin provide some fascinating insight into the dilemma faced by professional sports doctors and athletes alike, especially the honest ones. Daddy’s Home (2015—Director: Sean Anders) This second Mark Wahlberg, Will Ferrell, (Dad versus Step- Dad respectively) collaboration revels in needless, sophomoric comedic gags at the expense of delivering a smart satire on modern fatherhood. Ferrell portrays his noble desire of being a quality parent as sad and untrendy. At least Wahlberg’s restraint from rubbing his character’s “bad boy” charisma in Ferrell’s face can be somewhat appreciated.
  7. 7. Joy (2015—Director: David O. Russell) Jennifer Lawrence confidently anchors David O. Russell’s quirky pseudo-​biopic of “Miracle Mop” inventor Joy Magnano. Joy is further supported by Édgar Ramirez’s turn as Joy’s loyal ex-​husband and its well​- synced flow of cinematography and editing. Compared to Russell’s previous works, Joy doesn't quite equal, but successfully approximates, the grit of The Fighter, the grounded emotion of Silver Linings Playbook, the pure cinematic fun of American Hustle, and the infectious supporting characters of all three.
  8. 8. & " 4 Comments / 1 Likes categories / 21st Cent. Treasure Quest tags / Current Film Reviews, Concussion, Daddy's Home, Joy, Sisters Sisters (2015—Director: Jason Moore) In an era where most comedies seek to shock and disgust rather than construct comedic elements with creativity, timing and timelessness, Sisters "dumbs down" below even that, making every adult character in the film as tasteless, clueless, and unrealistically irresponsible as possible. Amy Poehler and Tina Fey are the unfortunate casualties of this ground zero product. The comedic duo’s bare semblance of chemistry does little to redeem this horrendous excuse of a comedy. R.N.B. For more of Renard's contemporary film reviews please see 21st Century Treasure Quest #3. # #
  9. 9. The Ratings 1 chest: Definitely worth missing 2 chests: Okay to kill some time 3 chests: Not a complete success, but rewarding 4 chests: Well cra!ed, creative and memorable 5 chests: A real treasure, deep, profound and original Busco novio para mi mujer (2016— Director: Enrique Begne) There’s little to recommend this Mexican remake of the 2008 Argentinian hit film A Boyfriend for My Wife besides its borrowed premise: A belaboured husband hires a con-man to seduce and purposely run away with his nagging wife. This comedy’s production value and “sitcomish” atmosphere make the proceedings better suited for television’s more instantly gratified demographic. The con artist’s humorous exploits receive less attention than the feckless husband who as a result, gains only our slightest concern for his plight or his scheme's outcome.
  10. 10. Deadpool (2016—Director: Tim Miller) Tim Miller’s directorial debut manages to engage due to Ryan Reynolds’ charismatic, career- defining lead performance. The “fourth wall” ​breaking jokes, (the ones that work that is), only make up for so many underdeveloped supporting characters who provide a negligible contribution to this blend of superhero revenge fantasy with romantic comedy. The result is a comic book satire filled with crass violence and aberrant sexuality that finally becomes the very thing it attempts to satirise. Eddie the Eagle (2016—Director: Dexter Fletcher)
  11. 11. This biographical sports “dramedy" manages to capture the heartfelt inspiration of its real-life event, despite a few sports-film cliches, manipulative emotional payo"s, and stereotypical minor antagonists. The film boasts an impressive ensemble cast, with Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman, and a refreshingly subdued Christopher Walken as stand-outs. Another significant contribution is Matthew Margeson's synthesiser-based score which appropriately enhances the story’s late 80’s setting. Gods of Egypt (2016—Director: Alex Proyas) The actors give their all in this fantasy adventure, notably an amusing Chadwick Boseman, a commanding Gerard Butler, and the dynamic duo of Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Brenton
  12. 12. Thwaites who collectively fuel the film’s adventurous spirit. What cannot be appreciated, however, is the utter disregard for production and visual restraint, tiresomely overbearing the narrative with excessive and unrealistic special e"ects. How to Be Single (2016—Director: Christian Ditter) Expert cinematography and economical editing combined with a seasoned ensemble cast makes How to Be Single one of this year’s pleasant cinematic surprises. Director Christian Ditter sophisticatedly weaves the intertwining plot strands of Liz Tuccillo’s 2008 novel of rocky starts to satisfying closures, conveying each one’s unique emotional apex. All four female leads are accomplished but the real acting standout is Damon Wayans Jr, whose natural likability fuses perfectly with his character’s dramatic arc.
  13. 13. & " The Witch (2015—Director: Robert Eggers) The Witch climbs to the upper echelon of contemporary cinematic horror by way of its unrelenting and unwavering psychological tension, forcing its audience to cling to their seats from start to finish. Its authenticity extends to the portrayed time period especially by the use of antiquated English. The cinematography is subtle and sublime when the activities are quiet, ominous and abrupt when the horror emerges. British actor Ralph Ineson gives a fittingly large​r-than-​life performance as the family’s patriarch, and newcomer Anya Taylor-​Joy impresses as she brings out her character’s darker underpinnings. The stu" of nightmares should always be this enjoyable to watch. R.N.B. # #

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