Let’s ignore the organised sexist haters who’ve flooded the internet with false bad reviews in an anti-female film campaign. The all-female Ghostbusters (dir. Paul Feig) takes its jump and nails it.
It acquiesces to no man, no men, no one for that matter. Melissa McCarthy, Kristin Wiig, SNL’s Hillary Clinton Kate McKinnon and gifted SNL’er Leslie Jones have cracked the code to a worthy, standalone comedy adventure, as capable, imaginative and educated women.
It’s a smart, rock-em, sock-em celebration of brain power, innovation and strategic thinking and so what if its women doing those things? C’est la vie.
So Bridesmaids director Feig refuses to update as much as re-imagine the iconic comedy this time pitting three scientists and a subway ticket taker against a ghost epidemic currently ripping up Manhattan.
It’s a slow build to an eye-popping, gripping climax that equals in strength any male hero films of late. It’s electrifying and marks a milestone in film.
This Ghostbusters simply begins and stands on its own. It isn’t meant to be a two hour referential inside joke but to be in and of itself, a fully realised entity. Moments of nostalgia are enjoyable but that’s not why anyone came to this party.
The humour isn’t as broad or coarse as I expected given the cast. It is true to the original in tone – its gentle family friendly humour and strong characters ground it.
And let’s face it; these four women fill the screen. It’s not even up for debate. They’re smart, diverse (Sony won’t confirm that one character is a lesbian) and powerful and devoted to scientific study and practicum.
It was a brilliant concept to put these women in these male roles. It works, it’s entertaining, and they bring it home and fry it up.
The original Ghostbusters including Dan Aykroyd and Sigourney Weaver appear in split second cameos, Bill Murray has a supporting role and the late Harold Ramis is a work of art.
Viggo Mortensen gives an exciting performance as a demanding and difficult father of six children living in the woods in Captain Fantastic (dir. Silicon Valley star Matt Ross). In a way he’s a superhero, as fathers go. He and his late wife devoted themselves to preparing his children for anything life hands them.
They live happily off the grid. They know how to hunt, garden, cook, think and question authority. Academically they are superior. The child actors are impressive, managing physical and emotional spectrums beyond their ken.
They kill and skin animals to eat. They mourn loss. It’s big stuff.
None of this sits well with his late wife’s parents who begin procedures to gain custody. They ban him from his own wife’s funeral which is especially cruel as she had never wanted one.
Her wishes were to be scattered over the mountains, so dad and kids concoct a scheme to steal her body and do right by her.
You have to admire a man with the courage to act in the face of the blows he’s endured with a clear conscience and unwavering progressive good will. Sadly his children become pawns because of their thoughtless grandparents’ actions.
The film moves in tone from feel-good humour to dark and desperate, changing as we do in life. The natural and real style of filmmaking and Viggo’s phenomenal performance locks this love story.
Captain Fantastic recently won The Golden Space Needle Audience Award at the Seattle International Film Festival and two major awards at Cannes.
THE MISSING INGREDIENT: WHAT IS THE RECIPE FOR SUCCESS?
Talk about karma! The documentary The Missing Ingredient: What is the Recipe for Success? follows an inexperienced but ambitious Upper East Side New York restaurateur who learned a major life lesson – we hope.
His failing Italian restaurant was situated next door to the fabled, beloved and always crammed celebrity hangout, Gino’s. Gino’s was known for its jazzy red zebra themed wallpaper. People would say “oh, the place with the zebras?” Gino’s was often in the gossip columns and Woody Allen shot scenes for Mighty Aphrodite there.
When Gino’s finally closed after 43 years, the ambitious but clueless next door neighbour decides to boost his business by re-decorating Pescatore. Against all advice, he decided to put up the exact zebra wallpaper in yellow. as a “tribute”.
Gino’s fans, some of whom had dined there daily and weekly for 43 years were incensed. Some interviewed in the film cried. It was bad mojo.
You won’t believe what happens next. It’s about a guy who just wanted to make a go of it and lost his way. It feels like a marketing thriller, except that no filmmaker could make this stuff up.
Kristin Stewart and Nicholas Hoult have never been quite as colourless as in the future dystopian drama Equals. Their future world is white on white with occasional splashes of pale beige and paler grey.
The population is conditioned and trained as automatons, via medication and brain washing, walking purposefully to work every day at the same time and going home to the same tiny white home at night.
Personality removal is the ideal, and showing emotion is a ticket to the looney bin or the executioner. Love doesn’t exist, only fealty to the state.
Somehow, a screw got loose in our leads’ and Stewart’s character becomes pregnant. There is a whole lot of beige angst, much time spent sitting in white apartments staring blankly at one another. Even the idea of dying seems positively dull.
Given the soulless environment, emotional disconnect and Stewart’s lack of expression, it’s a pretty grim time at the movies.
Critical darling Closet Monster (Stephen Dunn) was a break out hit on the festival circuit winning ten major awards out of a possible fourteen. Not bad for a first feature from Newfoundland filmmaker Stephen Dunn. It’s finally in the theatres and you won’t want to miss it.
Its originality and sensitivity in telling the story of a closeted gay highschooler give it authenticity and imagination in true considered proportion.
Ground down by a deeply abusive father and absent mother, he realises he is “different” and feels that there is something wrong because he’s attracted to boys.
But when he witnesses a violent gay-bashing, he turns on himself. He shuts down his sexuality and lives a painful, anxious lie. His only confidante is Buffy the hamster, a comic touch in a deep drama that veers into surrealism.
There are some moments of hope and joy but little chance, he believes, of change and yet he doesn’t pity himself. He tries. Connor Jessup’s performance is shattering; he finds the place inside where courage and acceptance are waiting to come out.
It’s a profoundly moving and unnerving adventure that remind us what it feels like to be a confused teenager. In many ways it’s familiar and unnerving to anyone who has felt different for any reason and Dunn’s beautifully observed script organically makes sense of the character’s jumbled feelings.
Listen for Isabella Rossellini who plays the voice of Buffy the hamster.
The Innocents is set in Poland in 1945. A Jewish Red Cross doctor has come there to retrieve French concentration camp survivors. A nun approaches her for medical help at her isolated convent to care for pregnant nuns who were raped by Soviet Russians soldiers.
Their work takes place in secret – the cloistered nuns have a horror of the world outside and inside, chaos and fear of discovery is in the air. The Abbess has set a scheme in motion to save the reputation of the convent, a quick fix of pure evil.
Twilit cinematography of the fields around the convent and the chiaroscuro inside is striking. Immediately apparent is the lack of sound, just the low talk of the nuns, the convent silence broken by Gregorian chant, classical music, broken by the sounds of childbirth.
It’s a heart breaking and haunting and based on real events.