Movie Review #4876: JUNIPER
Poignant Kiwi outing based around the relationship between a grieving teen, his alcoholic and ailing grandmother and his self-absorbed father, set in the late 80s on a farm somewhere in kiwiland when and where of course there was no internet, no cell phones, no social media of any sort.
Gran has come to stay along with her nurse as she recovers from a broken leg and brings with her quite a few cases of Mother’s Ruin. The sense of remoteness conveys nicely the isolation each feels as dad skips off to London leaving son and grandmother with the long suffering and terribly patient live-in nurse.
Son and granny slowly start to realise there is more to the other than meets the eye which begins a series of amusing events that bring them closer together. We rather predictably figure all is not quite what it seems and the reveals start to surface as we go, culminating in some difficult yet understandable moments.
Charlotte Rampling is exquisite as granny Ruth, Marton Csokas goes well as dad, and George Ferrier is a Heath Ledger lookalike as young Sam. Some overt depictions of kiwiana remind us that our national identity in these challenging times is alive and well and overall, bitter sweet and compelling viewing.
Currently showing at the usual cinemas.
Warning though: suicide themes are depicted.
Movie Review #4876: THE HARDER THEY FALL
And you could be forgiven for thinking all I do is watch movies; if I could make a living at it I would.
This is a modern-day Tarantino-esque western on Netflix in the vein of Kill Bill and Django Unchained but without the comedic bits of the latter. Which means we’re pretty much left with just the violent bits and there are plenty, including beatings, shootings, slicings, explodings and various other bits of other hapless mayhem.
Amongst it all though is a reasonably good story that jaunts along without being overly-complicated, and we just know there’s a secret twist to be revealed at the end. Basically, young boy wronged grows up to track down and mete out vengeance on he who wronged, gathering a host of rather colourful characters along the way.
Idris Elba is probably the best known name in the cast, playing a nasty bad guy although the other names I don’t recognise apart from Damon Wayans Jr who looks exactly like his old man. Good performances all round with a script that gives freedom and license to the supporting crew which brings the story to life via a myriad of animated antics.
Nice vivid landscapes against rich blue skies top off the proceedings. This one I think is an 8.5/10.
Movie Review #5875: The Last Duel
Showing at movie theatres around the county
Based-on-fact tale from Ridley Scott (Alien) around the conflict between two French noblemen, formerly friends, where one accuses the other of rape (and warning: that scene might be difficult for some).
Essentially three separate retellings of the same events from the standpoint of each of the players, culminating in the duel of the title pitting them together in a deadly combat to the very end. It’s an interesting study on perspective that has a few lessons for today as we grapple with current issues and it shows how emotions can have a major impact on how we can view very differently the same truth.
Set in the late 14th century on a winter-laden French countryside which brings a separate gloominess all of its own to the proceedings. Matt Damon and Adam Driver (StarWars’ Kylo Ren) are great as the leads with Ben Affleck almost unrecognisable as a dandy French lord, Jodie Comer as the lady wronged, with Kiwi Marton Csokas turning up in the supporting cast.
Quite long at 2 1/2hrs but not tedious with the finale pretty violent and bloody. And while I’m sure no animals were harmed in the making of this movie, the horses in particular do not fare well in the depictions. Well-executed outing that holds attention well and doesn’t pull any punches in getting its message across.
Movie Review #6855: IRON FURY
Also known as T-34 after the tank star of the show, this is a Russian-made ripping WWII yarn on Amazon Prime in the spirit of Brad Pitt’s Fury from 2014.
Quite a cool original story although the hammy English overdubs do take a bit of getting used to as the tale of cat’n’mouse is outplayed between a Russian tank commander and his German counterpart. The balance of power swings between our two boy scouts as they each parlay for the upper hand and strategise for supremacy.
Set on the Eastern front, the cinematography is suitably wintery with amusing slo’mo shots of tank shells passing one another in the street before slamming into their intended targets.
Finale has a little bit of corn attached but overall a riveting war story told from an angle not often covered.
Performances are adequate however as mentioned, the overdubs are a little off-putting which is why I’ve pegged it back a bit as a 7/10. War movie fans will no doubt be suitably amused.
I'm a movie nut from way back with my first ever being The Hallelujah Trail from 1964. Ever since, I've been mesmerized by the giant screen, and the darkness that went on forever. Despite the infernally uncomfortable seats, (plus having to stand for God Save the Queen), I've been enticed ever since to duck into a theatre whenever I can for a few hours of escapism.