Reviews In Short is a new regular feature here on Thoughts On Film which will basically consist of short, paragraph-long reviews of movies I have watched recently, old and new alike, which I didn’t get a chance to review in full. As always feel free to comment with your own thoughts and opinions on each of the films.
This is the latest offering from director Steven Soderbergh, a man as comfortable working on mainstream fare like the Ocean’s trilogy and Contagion as he is in independent territory like Bubble and The Girlfriend Experience. Soderbergh successfully delivers what he set out to do; make an entertaining, flashy (pardon the pun) movie about male-stripping that knows when to play things for laughs and when not to. It’s let down, however, when it realizes it needs an actual plot and falls back on a cliched crime-related storyline which disrupts the good times set up in the first half. The cast, particularly Channing Tatum (drawing from his own life experiences as a male stripper) and a scene-stealing Matthew McConaughey, make potentially shallow and unlikeable characters amiable. Overall enjoyable but could have been a lot more substantial and memorable had it gone down a less familiar road. 3.5/5
Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai
After the international success of his samurai masterpiece 13 Assassins (a film which has given him more exposure than almost anything else he’s made) cult Japanese director Takashi Miike delivered what could very well be described as the anti-13 Assassins. A stripped down, subtle and very slow-moving tale of love, honour and respect. The fact that it’s so similar to that film in setting, look and subject might mislead viewers into thinking it’s another samurai fight-filled epic but the slow pace is a refreshing yang to 13 Assassins’ yin. At once devastating, quietly moving and utterly gripping in its own deliberately paced way. Miike once again proving he is a master filmmaker. 4.5/5
The Swell Season
Fans of the fantastic 2006 doc-like musical Once should definitely seek this out, a documentary made about the success of that film (including its Oscar win for Best Original Song) and more importantly the key relationship between the two leads which blossomed into a real life romance before stalling for various reasons. Presented in crisp black-and-white which lends it an air of classiness and befitting the themes tackled within, The Swell Season is a lovely celebration of both Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova as people (both together and apart) and the wonderful music they make. 4/5
The Sixth Sense
Long before M. Night Shyamalan’s name produced groans and giggles from audiences due to his rubbish output over the last few years (The Happening, Lady in the Water and The Last Airbender chief among them) he was a highly respected director who made great films. The Sixth Sense is undoubtedly his most famous film and it’s remarkable how well it holds up after all these years (13 to be exact). Everyone knows the big twist at the end (even so I won’t spoil it here for anyone who hasn’t seen it) and looking back at it now it’s quite amazing how well it’s woven into the entire narrative, with subtle hints and clues throughout building up the big reveal. Therefore it’s not a cheat and has allowed it to sustain all these years beyond the initial shock. I still think Unbreakable is Shyamalan’s masterpiece but nevertheless this remains a great film for many, many reasons. 4.5/5
That’s it for Reviews In Short. Until next time!