June 10, 2015


Ex _Machina*
In his very luxurious mountain retreat, the zillionaire owner of a computer company has created what he believes to be a robot with consciousness. He summons one of his underlings to join him at his estate, and, then, asks the employee to administer a series of tests to establish whether or not the robot is self-aware. After meeting the robot, the employee is fascinated by its ability to perceive. Furthermore, he is captivated by, and, quickly drawn into, his employer’s bizarre lifestyle. Alex Garland writes and directs a slow-moving but absorbing Sci-Fi mystery. The minimal sets of the mountain retreat contrast with the spectacular grandeur of its location, to suggest a strange and eerie atmosphere, while, the special-effects applied to the actress playing the robot are just amazing. However, the most intriguing aspect of the movie is the possible glimpse it may offer of a not too distant future.

The Lazarus Effect
Olivia Wilde is one of the more interesting actresses currently performing in mainstream movies. Therefore, it comes as a bit of a surprise to find her appearing in this schlock-horror movie. As the movie’s title suggests, this is a rather ordinary story about resurrection. A research scientist, and her fiancée, are working on a serum which could bring people back to life if they die on an operating table. After an accidental electric shock, Olivia dies. Her distraught fiancée applies the serum to her, and, Olivia does indeed come back. But, she is not the same! Olivia handles the schizophrenic aspects of her role brilliantly, and, it is her terrific performance which lifts this movie into another realm. Is there nothing that this talented actress cannot do?

Suite Francaise
In a French town, during the occupation of France through WW2, a German Officer is billeted in the home of a wealthy woman. The woman’s son is a prisoner-of-war, and, his wife lives with her mother-in-law. The woman completely dominates her daughter-in-law, who has become depressed. The presence of this officer in the house livens things up for the daughter-in-law, and, a romance between them develops. Meanwhile, things are happening with the resistance movement, which could put everybody’s life at risk. As you would expect, this English/French co-production is pretty lavish. No expense has been spared to bring this rather tender love story to the screen.

Every Secret Thing
The best thing about this movie is the performances from its three Leading Ladies. Diane Lane, Elizabeth Banks and Dakota Fanning make this disturbing movie about child abduction a lot better than it deserves to be.

McFarland USA*
Kevin Costner is at a difficult stage of his career. Too old to be a Leading Man, but, too young to be a Character Actor. He must make the most of what he is offered. In this movie, Kevin works hard to bring some humanity into his role of a temperamental coach, training some lads entering a cross country race. He also makes this movie a lot better than it deserves to be.

Paper Planes
This one is strictly for the kids. A young Australian schoolboy enters a competition to see how far a paper plane can be thrown. During the competition the boy gets his first taste of childhood romance, and, he must cope with the tactics of an aggressive competitor. Life lessons are learnt.

Area 51
A group of inquisitive young people sneak into Area 51, to see if aliens are really kept there. The movie takes way too long to get to its ‘surprise’ ending. The movie is shot entirely with a hand-held camera, to give a sense of spontaneity. The only thing this film style generates is a sense of nausea.

Project Almanac
Believe it or not, but, some high-school students build a time machine. They go back in time to attend rock concerts, and stuff like that, until they find that they have mucked around with the time/space continuum. Something must be done about it. This is another movie shot entirely with a hand-held camera. The film technique drives you completely batty well before the end.

Chappie*
This is the only big-budget mainstream movie on offer this week. It is another movie about a robot gaining self-awareness. Neill Blomkamp has ‘District 9’ and ‘Elysium’ to his credit. Both were successful blockbusters. Still, ‘Chappie’ is appalling. It is an embarrassing ‘turkey’ for the director.

Private Number
A writer is pestered by anonymous phone calls and then ghostly apparitions.

Adult Beginners
A failed entrepreneur has to return to his hometown and live with his sister.

The Posthuman Project
Crazy scientists abduct a group of teenagers, and then experiment on them.

It Follows
Teenagers are stalked by an evil force which is killing them off one by one.

Infini
On a space-station a deadly virus is killing off all the astronauts one by one.

Just before I Go
A man contemplating suicide returns to his hometown to confront his past.

Hackney’s Finest
London’s Hackney police force is trying to break up a gang of drug dealers.

RZ-9
Some extreme American terrorists try to make a run for the Canadian border.

Doraemon
A peculiar Japanese cartoon that I don’t understand and won’t comment on.

Midnight Sex Run
This is the most vulgar and offensive comedy I have ever had to sit through.

Search Party
I gave up on this movie. Everything about it was just really cheap and tatty.

* Also available on Blu Ray.
# Also available in 3D.

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