Thursday, 5 November 2015

Crisp Criticism - "The Last Witch Hunter", "The Dressmaker", "Sleeping with Other People", "Mistress America", "Freeheld", "No Escape"

Julien Faddoul

The Last Witch Hunter

The last remaining witch-hunter battles against an uprising of witches in modern day New York.
Conceptually, so ludicrous that it’s kind of enjoyable. In execution though, the cheerless bombast is agonizing, with its star showing how little his range truly is.

d – Breck Eisner
w – Cory Goodman, Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless 
ph – Dean Semler
pd – Julie Berghoff
m – Steve Jablonsky
ed – Chris Lebenzon, Dean Zimmerman
cos – Luca Mosca

p – Mark Canton, Bernie Goldmann

Cast: Vin Diesel, Rose Leslie, Elijah Wood, Michael Caine, Lotte Verbeek, Bex Taylor-Klaus, Allegra Carpenter

The Dressmaker

A glamorous dressmaker returns to her small town in rural Australia, which she left under strained circumstances.
A restoration of sorts to the kind of Australian cinema of the 1990s, with its director going so far as to imitate certain rhythmic cuts. It would have worked had its plot and performers not been so grossly over-the-top, with its star coming off the best.

d – Jocelyn Moorhouse  
w – P.J. Hogan, Jocelyn Moorhouse   (Based on the Novel by Rosalie Ham)
ph – Donald McAlpine
pd – Roger Ford
m – David Hirschfielder
ed – Jill Bilcock
cos – Marion Boyce

p – Sue Maslin

Cast: Kate Winslet, Liam Hemsworth, Caroline Goodall, Judy Davis, Hayley Magnus, Hugo Weaving, Sarah Snook, Kerry Fox, Shane Jacobson, Rebecca Gibney, James Mackay, Gyton Grantley, Barry Otto, Sacha Horler, Julia Blake

Sleeping with Other People **

Two old friends reunite after 12 years and go on to spend most of their time together, advising each other on how to be better lovers, due to he being a vile womanizer and her being a serial cheater.
An almost beat-for-beat riff on When Harry Met Sally (1989), with the added variation of modern foibles like the Internet and general sexual permissiveness. It is darker and smarter than the average romantic comedy, and very funny for those who can take it.

wd – Leslye Headland
ph – Ben Kutchins
pd – Amy Williams
m – Andrew Feltenstein, John Nau
ed – Paul Frank
cos – Leah Katznelson

p – Jessica Elbaum, Will Ferrell, Sidney Kimmel, Adam McKay

Cast: Jason Sudeikis, Alison Brie, Amanda Peet, Adam Scott, Jason Mantzoukas, Andrea Savage, Marc Blucas, Adam Brody, Natasha Lyonne, Katherine Waterston, Margarita Levieva

Mistress America *

A lonely college freshman in New York befriends her soon-to-be stepsister, a featherbrained woman-about-town who entangles her in alluringly mad schemes.
A Hawksian attempt by its director and its star to recreate the appeal of the screwball comedies of the 1930s, with characters entering scenes for no real reason and everyone speaking at rapid pace. But Baumbach’s abrasiveness doesn’t mesh here, for the tone is never crystalized and the meanness of the characters never clear. Therefore, he and Gerwig are left to repeat what has already been accomplished in their prior work, including a now clich├ęd portraiture of young New Yorkers.

d – Noah Baumbach
w – Noah Baumbach, Greta Gerwig
ph – Sam Levy
pd – Sam Lisenco
m – Britta Phillips, Dean Wareham 
ed – Jennifer Lame
cos – Sarah Mae Burton

p – Noah Baumbach, Rodrigo Teixeira, Lila Yacoub

Cast: Greta Gerwig, Lola Kirke, Heather Lind, Cindy Cheung, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Matthew Shear, Kathryn Erbe, Michael Chernus

Freeheld *

A female car mechanic and her police detective girlfriend both battle to secure the latter’s pension benefits after she was diagnosed with a terminal illness.
Well-intentioned but painfully earnest pseudo-morality lesson based on a true story.

d – Peter Sollett
w – Ron Nyswaner
ph – Maryse Alberti
pd – Jane Musky
m – Hans Zimmer
ed – Andrew Mondshein
cos – Stacey Battat

p – Michael Shamberg, Stacey Sher, James D. Stern, Cynthia Wade

Cast: Ellen Page, Julianne Moore, Steve Carell, Michael Shannon, Gabriel Luna, Josh Charles, Luke Grimes

No Escape

In their new overseas home, an American family soon finds themselves caught in the middle of a coup, and they frantically look for a safe escape in an environment where foreigners are being immediately executed.
Xenophobic trash fueled by theology; avoid like the plague.

d – John Erick Dowdle
w – John Erick Dowdle, Drew Dowdle
ph – Leo Hinstin
pd – Arvinder Grewal
m – Marco Beltrami, Buck Sanders
ed – Elliot Greenberg
cos – Annie Bloom

p – Drew Dowdle, Michael Litvak, David Lancaster

Cast: Owen Wilson, Lake Bell, Pierce Brosnan, Sterling Jerins, Spencer Garrett, Byron Gibson, Sahajak Boonthanakit

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