Film Friday #261

The Good Dinosaur (2015)

The Good Dinosaur explores the premise of what would have happened if the earth was never hit by the asteroid that caused the extinction of the dinosaurs. In this imagined universe dinosaurs like Arlo (voiced by Raymond Ochoa) live together in families and even farm. When Arlo, the runt of his family and somewhat of a coward, is separated from his family he has to find his way back with the help of a dog-like human boy named Spot (voiced by (Jack Bright). On the way he will learn how to stand his ground as well as the true meaning of family. It’s a really simple story so there’s not much to say about it. The background animation is spectacular and Spot is incredibly cute but none of this makes up for the fact that there is nothing original or imaginative from Pixar’s latest offering especially when you compare it to the far superior Inside Out. I also want to mention that I saw this with a three year old who kept asking when the Minions were going to arrive. Draw your own conclusions from that. 2.5/5

Good Dinosaur

Spot was more than happy to fight for his right to wear a leaf loin cloth

Slow West (2015)

When Jay Cavendish’s (Kodi Smit-McPhee) sweetheart, Rose Ross (Caren Pistorius) leaves the Scottish coastal town they grew up in for the untamed American West, jay decides to follow and find her. With little life experience and no survival experience he soon finds himself in completely over his head. What he does have though is money, which makes him a good target for a mysterious stranger named,  Silas Selleck (Michael Fassbender) who insists on accompanying him to find Rose… for a fee. As the two journey through their bleak, wild and often brutal surroundings more of their past and motivations along with Rose’s are revealed and it soon becomes clear that very little is as it seems. The cinematography in this weird little film is absolutely breathtaking and Robbie Ryan does an outstanding job of expressing the intense challenges of surviving in a harsh, lawless and largely unexplored environment. Both Smit-McPhee and Fassbender give compelling performances  and for the most part I found myself sucked in, waiting to see what happened next. I have to admit that I found the relationship between Jay and Rose a lot less interesting than that between Jay and Silas and it made the two parts of the story seem somewhat disconnected. I can’t complain about Pistorius’ performance though since she is a stone cold badass, ably supported by a gruff turn from Rory McCann (AKA The Hound) as her father. Ben Medelsohn also turns up and impresses as one of Silas’ former cohorts and watching the two circle each other like angry cats is a highlight.  Well worth a watch though whether you are a fan of Westerns or not. 3.5/5

Silas' roadside barber shop was proving a hit... provided you sat very, very still...

Silas’ roadside barber shop was proving a hit… provided you sat very, very still…

The Last Letter (2013)

Catherine (Sharon Leal) and Michael (Omari Hardwick) get married despite Michael’s mother’s reservations and the fact that there appears to be zero chemistry between them. They move into Michael’s schmancy house, which is nice for Catherine since she was a foster child whose house burned down killing her foster father. Catherine really wants a baby but Michael doesn’t so she tricks him into knocking her up in the most awkward sex scene I have ever watched not just because I was watching this with my dad but also because Hardwick’s sex noises were so ludicrous I am surprised Leal managed to keep a straight face while she was mounting him. But anyway after the baby is born Catherine’s sleep disturbances become progressively worse, which leads Michael to wonder if she’s lost the plot. None of this is helped by the continuous presence of her creepy foster brother (Gary Dourdan) or the fact that the investigation into the fire that killed her foster father has been reopened. I think I have sort of managed to make this “thriller” sound like some of it made sense. It didn’t. Nothing made sense. Especially not the fact that [SPOILERS] Catherine neither ended up in prison nor a mental institution after she murdered her baby in her sleep, There is nothing good about this film – the acting (apart from poor Leal, who is trying her best) is appalling, the script is terrible and everything just screams low budget TV movie. Avoid at all costs (and learn in future not to let your dad pick the movie). 0/5

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Michael and Catherine had already reached that part of the marriage where they couldn’t be arsed to talk during meals

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015)

High school seniors, Greg (Thomas Mann) and Earl (RJ Cryer) have survived high school by avoiding joining any “tribes”, not taking sides and eating all the weird food that Greg’s dad (Nick Offermann) has to offer. Greg even insists that Earl is not his friend but more of a business associate, When Greg’s mother (Connie Britton) insists that he spend time with, Rachel (Olivia Cook), a classmate who has cancer, he is less than thrilled but his mother is insistent and soon he finds himself making daily visits. Rachel is also not immediately excited to have Greg in her home but as the two start getting to know each other a firm bond starts to form, one that will unsettle Greg’s entire carefully planned refusal to truly connect with anyone. It’s hard not to love Me, Earl and the Dying Girl. Not only is it packed with charmingly quirky characters including,  John Bernthal as a dedicated but heavily tattooed history teacher and Molly Shannon as Rachel’s mother who is using alcohol to cope with her grief, but it also has snappy dialogue and a heartwarming central story. I also got a big kick out of the weird, charming little movies that Greg and Earl make for their own amusement. Who doesn’t want to see Eyes Wide Butt? Mann, Cryer and Cook all give believable and touching performances in what could easily have become a cheesy, emotionally manipulative, tearjerker with less capable stars. Ultimately it might be a little to clever for its own good, which stops it from truly achieving greatness but if you want a break from teen romantic comedies and are looking for something with real heart, do yourself a favour and check this out. 3.5/5

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Roadkill: a meal for the whole family

 

 

8 Comments

  1. I really, really, really loved Slow West. It had this weird Coen brothers vibe at times.

    1. abbiosbiston

      There is something very Coen-esque about it.

  2. Slow West sounds intriguing.

    1. abbiosbiston

      It’s a visual treat as well as being a compelling story.

  3. Nick Offerman is great. The Good Dinosaur sounds so bad. Also:
    “Avoid at all costs (and learn in future not to let your dad pick the movie).” really had ROFL 🙂

    1. abbiosbiston

      My dad has no quality threshold. He will watch or read literally any old shit. I have also learned not to borrow books from him.

  4. I really should check out Slow West as it’s on Netflix. Hmmm, seems that The Good Dinosaur isn’t another Pixar’s masterpiece.

    1. abbiosbiston

      Slow West is definitely worth a watch. It’s not very long either, which is always a plus 🙂 The Good Dinosaur definitely isn’t Pixar’s best. The animation is stunning but I think it’s a case of style over substance.

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