Directed by Steve James
Roger Ebert is easily one of the most celebrated people in cinema’s history. He was responsible in helping launch the careers of so many unspoken filmmakers, his praises tasting sweeter than the elixir of life; his negative comments hurting more than a pitchfork in the eye. This documentary, directed by Steve James, shows the man behind the computer: behind the television. And it shows that just like everyone, he wasn’t perfect. But for one reason or another, it was film that gave him a reason to live. The documentary never tried to be flashy, dramatic or really set itself apart stylistically – but it did what James does so well: tell the truth.
Directed by David Michod
The Rover is David Michod’s sophomore effort, which up until a certain point, had everything going for it. It had a simple revenge story for a plot, set in a bleak, future Australia; it had Guy Pearce; it had an audience drooling in anticipation after seeing Animal Kingdom. Unfortunately, Michod’s film is ultimately something of a hollow experience. Instead of making a film complex through it’s simplicity, the film doesn’t offer any sort of believable characters, visual storytelling or most importantly, any real reason for the audience to care. The film could have been cut in half and would make no difference to the plot whatsoever: character exposition was delivered through obligatory dialogue-over-campfire scenes, and the film lost all form of suspense from repeating the same scene structure throughout the film. Also a massive continuity error in the first ten minutes is just inexcusable. Soundtrack was interesting though.
Directed by Lenny Abrahamson
Frank is a very interesting film in an interesting way: on the exterior, it has an interesting storyline with interesting characters… yet the experience of watching said film is somewhat lacklustre. A great cast, and a great idea for a film…but the characters themselves were almost so bizarre and sour that they were unmemorable, if that even makes sense. The film had an outer-skin of weird, but take off the mask and unfortunately, its just Plain ol’ Ned. Does any of this make sense?
Directed by Lisa Barros D’Sa and Glenn Leyburn
In probably the first time in years, I watched a film before knowing anything about it. No trailer, no wiki search: nothing. This film was Good Vibrations, a sparky Irish film about the real life record-store-owner-turned-producer Terri Hooley. There were moments that delved a bit into cliche “bottom-of-the-barrell-but-then-comes-redemption” moments, but the film did surprise me in it’s use of sound and archive footage in scenes used to break up the acts of the film. And it’s HEART. Unexpected in the best way possible.
Directed by John Michael McDonagh
The actor-director pairing of Brendan Gleeson and John Michael McDonagh is easily one of the best of current cinema. The knocked it out of the park with The Guard, and they’ve done it once again here. The characters are wonderfully bizarre, chaotic and mysterious all at the same time, with the holy priest played by Gleeson stuck in the middle, trying to come to terms with a world trapped in hedonistic sin. It doesn’t have quite the bite The Guard did, but Calvary will be a film that will be remembered for it’s unrelenting and shameless courage.
Directed by Bryan Singer
The cast for the X-Men films is filled with absolutely incredible actors, past and present. It’s just a shame that the script just wasn’t as strong as the cast was. The film, whilst strong in special effects and great set-pieces here and there, suffered from both a lack of momentum, and a satisfying resolution. It’s just a shame when an episode of Rick & Morty can be funnier, more cathartic and more complex in it’s logic than this film in less than thirty minutes.