spen

they. i write 100-word reviews & rate for my gratitude a film exists as is.

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  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens

    Star Wars: The Force Awakens

    ★★★

    Though it takes too long and excessively recapitulates the original, this film has charm and moments of sincerity.

  • Soul

    Soul

    ★★★½

    Perhaps Pixar fatigue explains my ambivalence re: this film.

    Despite wonderful music, unobnoxious, well-chosen performances in Jerry (Braga; Ayoade), Terry (House), Libba (Rashad) or Dorothea (Bassett), and gorgeous colour, with elegant, 1940s Picasso-inspired visual effects, the centre of this film feels tired. The concept and jokes rehearse previous movies. Whatever core conflict exists proves flatly artificial in the end.

    I think 22 (Fey) does fine, although I recognise the awkwardness of that casting.

    I liked the jazz story. The heavenly realm looks cute. For me, they failed together.

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  • The Keepers

    The Keepers

    ★★

    BBC Shakespeare blew everything on the soundtrack. No money remains for passable wigs.

    See the Siberian tundra of Eriador realised in stagey, low-budget glory, with liberal lens lubing, sideburns, static backgrounds, and reverb. Merry's feet floof conspicuously from between Old Man Willow's roots. The chad goliath Bombadil yodeled his way into my heart. No other characters outsize hobbits.

    The fun, resounding electronica and suggestive panting soundtrack will stay with me. Blink and you might miss the larpy Nazgul, lady Legolas, 'gnome' Gimli, Balrog sock puppet or naff eagle. Gandalf dies without fanfare.

    Slavicise all the sacred cows for my pleasure.

  • Casino Royale

    Casino Royale

    ★★★½

    Campbell's energetic direction returns from GoldenEye, bolstered by upgraded acting, writing and tone. Brutalised action drama replaces the fantasy formula.

    Vesper (Green) and meat-Bond Craig's flirting provides the series' best chemistry. Violence has weight. Action scenes connect, and especially the stairwell. Bond, less effortless chancer than streamlined thug, plays Texas hold 'em, not baccarat, and subordinates libido to vocation. Le Chiffre (method Mikkelsen) channels a tight, clicky Peter Lorre.

    Some crap remains in a Branson cameo, product placement and gender politics. Muting indulgences jettisons charm. This muscular, characterful film can take it, though. Destroy Bond's balls x