Whale of a Tale Productions

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Moonlight written and directed by Barry Jenkins (2016)

Another of the Oscar contenders this year. It is an interesting slice of life, with some issues for me. First off I hated the 3 color corrects, and was distracted by them. Then the shaky cinematography was awful, and distracting. Life is not that shaky, so cinematography like that just seems lazy to me. And third and foremost, the casting of Chiron as 3 actors who don’t look alike, and the conscious decision to not even let the 3 actors meet so their performances are each their own, does not help the film either. An interesting story, but the experimental methods pulled me out of the film instead of drawing me in.

Chiron (Alex Hibbert) is a shy African American child who is taken under the wing of drug dealer Juan (Mahershala Ali) and his girlfriend Teresa (Janelle Monáe). Chiron’s mom Paula (Naomie Harris) is a real piece of work, abusive and a drug addict who buys crack from Juan. Chiron has one friend Kevin (Jaden Piner), and spends much time with Juan until he gets him to admit he sells crack to his mom.

Review Contains Spoilers… (more…)

Mr Holmes by Bill Fondon (2015)

Ian McKellen is awesome in the titular rold of Sherlock Holmes. In this film Holmes exists and is retired, but his novels were fictional retellings by his partner Watson. The problem is in his old age and retirement his mind us begining to slip, and he can’t even rememeber why ge retired. It is only the son of his surley maid (Laura Liney) Roger (Milo Munro) who draws him out, and not the potions he travels as far as Japan to get to restore his faculties, so Mr. Holmes can write a true account if his final adventure.

A lovely, if slow (very much a British Masterpiece style piece) film that deals with the ravenges of age, losing ones memory, and how shere logic cannot help understand a person, emotion must ebe involved and even lies can be good things. McKellen is at his best and his age makeup is perfect. If you are a fan of masterpiece style stories, this is a great one and well worth seeing.

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Gone Girl by David Fincher (2014)

Ben Affleck plays Nick Dunne a failed writer, whose wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) goes missing and quickly he is deemed the prime suspect.

There was a lot of hype for this dark psychological thriller from Fincher, and for me it didn’t pay off. I just didn’t like any of the characters, both Ben Affleck’s and Rosamund Pike’s characters are so unlikeable, that I wonder why anyone would care, and the big payoff just doesn’t work for me. Overall I was let down. I just didn’t feel this film, but I also didn’t like Fincher’s girl with the Dragon Tatoo, so Fincher has been more miss than hit for me of late. It looks great, but just didn’t work for me.

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Sabotage, co-written and directed by David Ayers (2014)

I have said I am a fan of Swarzenegger, and have been watching his post-Governator films on Netflix. And this is a decent action film. The story works, it has a decent cast with Sam Worthington, Olivia Williams,  Mireille Enos, Joe Manganiello and Terrence Howard,  and it is cool to see Swarzenegger so grizzled and doing a dark turn. A decent action drama overall.

Swarzenegger plays the leader of the elite DEA strikeforce, but after his wife and child are killed by a drug lord, he leads the team to steal the drug lords money, but it is stolen from them and the team is suspended.

Review contains some spoilers…

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Horns by Alexandre Aja (2014)

A mediocre film with some moments of brilliance. Daniel Radcliff is fantastic as a man in a small town accused of killing his fiancee, who grows huge devil horns that force people to speak only truth to him, but the script lets him down. There are many too long flashbacks, that (especially the childhood ones) don’t hold up, and many parts that drag or don’t make much sense. Still the people’s reactions too the horns are hysterical and brilliant, and the thriller twist works, as with how crazy the film, I really didn’t know what happened. Still I bet the original book was a hell of a lot better!

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Maggie by Henry Hobson (2015)

I like Arnold Swarzennegger, i have fond memories of action films, and now that he is back from his stint as The Governator, I Netflix his films, even though most are pretty bad, but this is an exception. This is a very different Zombie film, about a father dealing his daughter (Abigail Breslin) who has been bit by a zombie, and will guaranteed turn, and go after her own family, and all the better for it. Swarzenegger is great here in a non action dramatic roll, as is the whole cast. And I think both Henry Hobson and screenwriter John Scott III will go far if this films is any indication of their skills.

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Ant Man by Peyton Reed (2015)

Paul Rudd stars as Scott Lang, an engineer turned criminal straight out of prison. Scottwants to go straight and reconect with his daughter, but is recruited by scientist Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and his daughter Cassie (Evangeline Lilly) to use the Ant Man armor, and steal his former protege Darren Cross ( Corey Stoll) new Yellowjacket armor based on Pym’s shrinking technology which as military technology could plunge the world into chaos!

Another decent Marvel Comic Book movie, and this from a decidedly C list super hero. Sure the Villain, Darren Cross is ridiculous with no motivation, and seems to be affected by his brain damaging suit before he uses it. And there are some added characters who serve only as comic relief, and could have easily gone. Still the shrinking effects are great, and even better in 3D, and Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas and Evangeline Lilly are enjoyable. And the theme of parenthood and redemption do work. Plus it was nice to have a, no pun intended, smaller Marvel film, after Age of Ultron which was just too big for it’s britches! Still I do wish I could have seen Edgar Wright’s version which was in develoment for so long, as I think is by far the superior director, and much more stylish. And I can think of a lot of superheroes I would rather have seen films of, but I still enjoyed the film.

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Going to try out Shorter Reviews

A quick update. I just haven’t had the time to do full reviews, so my reviews have slowed to a trickle (sorry about that). So I am going to do some shorter reviews with going over the plot of the film.

The Night of the Doctor by John Hayes (2013)

As a huge fan of the 8th Doctor Paul McGann and his Big Finish Audio Adventures, this short film is literally a gift from Steven Mophat. Not only do we finally get to see the 8th Doctors regeneration, but McGann also mentions all of his Big Finish companions moving them all into official Doctor Who cannon! This should really have been the start of the 50th Anniversary episode instead of a webisode, but it is on the Blu-ray, so…

Cass (Emma Campbell-Jones) is a woman in a crashing space ship during the Time War between the Timelords and the Daleks. The Doctor (Paul McGann) arrives to save her, but when she learns he is a Timelord she refuses to go with them and they crash into Karn.

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS…
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Her written and directed by Spike Jones (2013)

I was really looking forward to Spike Jones’s quirky science fiction love story, but this, like many films recently is a bit of a snoozer. And it is pretty weird. Funny and enjoyable at points, but the message of our dependance on cell phones wears a bit thin. Still Joaquin Pheonix is great and Scarlett Johansson has the perfect sultry and sexy voice for the OS, and even Amy Adams is not bad here. Still, after all these slow films, I could use some cheesy fast paced action. Still like Spike Jones, but this and Where the Wild Things Are are not my favorites, though I like this one better, just so slow, a bit depressing, and not much going on.

Joaquin Pheonix plays Theodore Twombly, a sad lonely man who writes love letters for people, is refusing to sign divorce papers from Catherine (Rooney Mara), and has only one friend Amy (Amy Adams). Theodore ends up upgrading his smart phone with a smart female OS (Scarlet Johansson) who names herself Samantha and they quickly begin to develop a relationship.

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS…
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Prince Avalanche by David Gordon Green (2013)

I saw the trailer for this one, and like Paul Rudd, so I wanted to see this, and I did enjoy it, but it is certainly a bit of a snoozer. And it isn’t helped by the horribly shaky camerwork, which I am never a fan of! The characters are interesting, though a bit borring, and it seems a bit pointless, just a slice of life of some weird characters. Can’t say I would really recommend this one.

The film starts talking about forrest fires in 1988, then we go to see Alvin (Paul Rudd) a loser working on a small road painting lines, and putting road signs. He has hired his girlfriend’s brother Lance (Emile Hirsch) to try and “straighten him out” but really he has no clue and has left his girlfriend to work in a remote forrest. Lance wants nothing more than girls.

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS…
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American Hustle by David O. Russell (2013)

Wow, this is supposed to be such a great film, with Oscar potential, but I thought it was crap. Sure the film looks great, like a Scorsese film, and has a great soundtrack, and some great performances, but the characters are completely unlikeable except Rosalyn Rosenfeld played by Jennifer Lawrence, the story is mediocre at best, and the hustle itself was so simple to be no twist and not at all enjoyable. I wish I could get my time back, seriously.

This is the story of Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale having gained 40 pounds and with a crazy combover) a small time hustler, working with Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams as bland as ever) to con people who can’t get loans into paying them $5000 to get a loan they never get. Sydney is married to crazy young mom Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence who is just awesome) and has adopted her son, but in love with Sydney. They are caught by FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) a vapid and idiotic agent who lives with his mother, curls his short hair and ignores his fiancee for Sydney. The couple is forced to entrap others, and go after the mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner with great huge hair), conning him into bribing Congressmen.

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

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Stoker by Park Can Wook (2013)

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I am a huge Park Chan Wook fan, so I was so excited to see his first American film, but could not be more let down. It was visually and auditorily impressive, but the story and acting suck! Mia Wasikowska is cute, but her usual impassive self, and Nicole Kidman is always impassive, but it doesn’t lend to such a visually told story. And Mathew Goode doesn’t have much to work with. And the pacing is slow, in fact I didn’t even realize the film was in modern times for about 40 minutes! And there was no great twist or even explanation, and thinking it through makes it work even less. I just don’t see the point! In fact this film is a should pass. Don’t waste your time!

Mass Effect 3 Extended Endings

Honestly I should have known that these endings would not change anything fundamentally, and would not be at all what the fans wanted, but I still had some hope, but it was all dashed today when I watched the extended endings of Mass Effect 3. That is it for me with Bioware games forever. They ruined this series, and made every excuse to not change their endings, though they did in these endings (so much for Artistic Integrity, if that was so important then why did the mass effect relays completely blow up in the old ending and now just get injured but not explode, as that is a huge change). You can view them all at Kotaku and see for yourself.

CONTINUES AFTER THE BREAK.

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Seriously, that is the ending to Mass Effect 3?

I have been a huge fan of this series since the first, so have put in a good 70+ hours into this series, and have thought it was easily the best game ever made. Great gameplay, great graphics, a compelling story, excellent voice acting, and an incredible universe. I got Mass Effect 3 when it came out, but am married and working 50+ hours a week so was taking it slower than the previous games, and slowed even more when I heard about the awful ending. I started playing multiplayer, and going slow, finishing ever side mission. And I was still loving the game, and even thinking how it would be fun to play through as an adept. Now today I finished the game, and honestly have no desire to play again, the ending ruined it for me.

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS…

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Once by John Carney (2007)

I had wanted to see this film when it came out, loving the trailer, but it looked to shaky for my lovely wife to see, so I did not see it. I should have watched it once it’s song “Falling Slowly” written by the two actors Glen Hansard (of the Irish rock band THE FRAMES) and Markéta Irglová, won the academy award, because the music is amazing. And so is the story. The film is many times billed as a “modern musical” but really it is a film about 2 musicians and the music that brings them closer together over a short period of time. It is a lovely little film, with a realistic ending, and really great music. Sure the camera work is mostly hand held, but if that does not put your off, go and see this little low budget wonder, and you will fall in love with it, just like I did.

The film is about a 39 year old street performer in Dublin (Glen Hansard). He plays songs for the people in the day, and his own songs at night, while fighting off junkies who try and steal his earnings. One night a lovely 17 year old Czech immigrant worker (Markéta Iglová) who works selling flowers is lured in by his music. She can only give 10 pence, but she is interested in the ex girlfriend that the song is about, and when she learns that he fixes vacuum cleaners at his father’s shop by day, she promises to bring her broken one the next day. She arrives with vacuum in hand, and he does not want to take it, but does agree to let her go to lunch with him. He learns she is a musician as well, having learned piano from her violin playing father before he died. The two go to a local music shop where the owner lets her play, and he teachers her his song about his ex, an they play it together (this if Falling Slowly which won the academy award), making the song even better than it was. And the two begin to like each other. They head back to his father’s shop and she meets his father (BIll Hodnett) and they fix his vacuum. They then chat, and he tells her about his ex having cheated on him and left him for London. She tells him if he played the song for her, he would win her back. She says she has to go home, and he asks her to stay, but she is offended and leaves in a huff.

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS…

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