Written by Ray Lawrence & Peter Carey
Directed by Ray Lawrence
In twenty-one years, Australian filmmaker Ray Lawrence made three movies with a sixteen-year gap between his first two. His first film, Bliss, caused hundreds to walk out of its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival and won the 1985 Australian Academy Award. Lawrence was born in London in 1948 and moved to Australia when he was 11. After he graduated from high school, Lawrence attended and subsequently dropped out of university. This lead to his work in advertising in Sydney and then a move back to London producing commercials. When he finally returned to Australia, Lawrence started his own production company that became one of the top producers of commercials in the continent. It was during his time in advertising that Lawrence met author Peter Carey and they became quick friends. This led to a screenwriting partnership that led to two full-length screenplays. Eventually, they decided to adapt Carey’s award-winning novel Bliss for the big screen.
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The Climb (2019)
Written by Michael Angelo Covino & Kyle Marvin
Directed by Michael Angelo Covino
Two men toil up a road in rural France, barely enjoying the countryside, one more slightly out of breath than the other. A secret is revealed, and suddenly the friendship crumbles. This is one of many deaths and rebirths we will see of these two guys as they rekindle their bond, only for one of them to continually stomp it out through selfishness. The Climb is a remarkable indie comedy that manages to be quirky without falling over into the cliches around this genre. The two lead actors are genuinely hilarious, and the film is masterfully shot. Many Steadicam and long takes with hidden cuts make the story feel a little more sweeping than you would expect.
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Space Station 76 (2014)
Written by Jack Plotnick, Jennifer Elise Cox, Sam Pancake, Kali Rocha, and Mike Stoyanov
Directed by Jack Plotnick
Space Station 76 is as much about its aesthetic as it is any plot or character arcs. Now, that can be an incredibly frustrating thing if you aren’t into the aesthetic. I completely understand if someone was turned off by this film because they just don’t care for the look and tone. I thought many parts of the movie were a little too self-indulgent and leaned into some weak improv. Overall, I think it is an interesting little oddity, clearly made by people who have a vision of what they wanted to do, and they did it.
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Earth Girls Are Easy (1988)
Written by Julie Brown, Charlie Coffey, and Terrence E. McNally
Directed by Terrence E. McNally
When I was a kid, this film, in its edited for television version, seemed to play often on one of the local channels, which pretty much bought and played anything they could find to fill airtime. My memories are incredibly spotty, and I remember images of the furry aliens and their transformation into resembling people. I haven’t revisited it since those years, now; as an adult, I figured it could be a part of this series, and I was interested to see what I would get from it now. With 1980s nostalgia being at its peak in the last few years, you would think a movie like this would get more attention, but it still remains a very obscure picture, or at least not brought up in discussion in the internet corners I frequent.
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Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989)
Written by Ed Naha, Tom Schulman, Stuart Gordon, and Brian Yuzna
Directed by Joe Johnston
There are some movies from my childhood where I wonder if they were as big a deal to the rest of the world as they seemed to me at the time. So often, a lot of movies turn out to be a thing your family owned a copy of, so you watched and rewatched it. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids was actually as big as I remember it as. Its box office returns are the equivalent of $457 million in today’s money. Pretty good for a movie that cost only $18 million to make. It was the directorial debut of Lucasfilm special effects artist Joe Johnston, and it was at the height of Rick Moranis’s career.
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Written by David Diamond, David Weissman, and Don Jakoby
Directed by Ivan Reitman
Ivan Reitman is responsible for many financially successful 1970s/80s comedies. He produced Animal House and directed Meatballs. This lead to pictures like Stripes, Ghostbusters, Twins, and more. As a kid, my feelings about Reitman’s movies were pretty much limited to Ghostbusters and Kindergarten Cop, and we watched them a lot. As an adult, I find his work to not hold up very well; Ghostbusters has been the only one I’ve enjoyed revisiting. I think the style of comedy Reitman made during those decades doesn’t work anymore, and it’s pretty evident with this film.
Continue reading “Movie Review – Evolution (2001)”
Attack the Block (2011)
Written & Directed by Joe Cornish
In the wake of Edgar Wright’s success with Sean of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, there was suddenly a demand for smart takes on genre movies, and it seemed like the British were very talented at writing these stories. Joe Cornish was a comedian who co-hosted the popular Adam and Joe Show, a skit comedy series that ran on Channel 4 for five years. He went on to do a radio show with his writing partner Adam Buxton and that ended when production on Attack the Block began. After being mugged by youths from a housing project, Cornish started to wonder how these very tough kids would handle an alien invasion in their neighborhood, and the story was born.
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Written & Directed by Nacho Vigalondo
You might think you know where this movie is going, but it will surprise you in the third act and venture into a wild new direction. I have loved Nacho Vigalondo’s work since I first saw Timecrimes so many years ago. I had circled Colossal hesitantly for the last few years because reviews were so mixed. The concept was intriguing, but I could also see how it could possibly fall flat. I think the trailer and descriptions did an excellent job of hiding what the picture was actually about, and that’s what made that third act twist so satisfying and suddenly injected the movie with life.
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Galaxy Quest (1999)
Written by David Howard & Robert Gordon
Directed by Dean Parisot
Tim Allen is a real bastard. He’s leaned into his conservatism and allowed his current sitcom and his social media presence to promote people like Trump and some pretty rotten ideologies to go along with that. It doesn’t surprise me, to be honest. His first tv-series Home Improvement, always had a weird regressive feel to it, in my opinion. I watched it growing up, but I can’t ever say I enjoyed it; it was just sort of on because the television was always on. In the late 1990s to mid-2000s, Allen dominated the quasi-family friendly movie shlock business, likely due in part but not exclusively to his role as Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story, a part I suspect that has kept him wealthy ever since. Despite Galaxy Quest having a strong fan base, I just sort of lumped it in with The Santa Clause or Jungle 2 Jungle as something not worth watching. But then I did.
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Animaniacs 2020 (Hulu)
Written by a lot of people
Directed by many more people
I was 12 years ago when Animaniacs originally debuted in 1993, and from the first episode, they had me hooked. I did not have cable growing up; we lived in a rural area where Comcast wouldn’t expend the resources to lay the line. Other options just weren’t there yet. This means I didn’t get to see formative 1990s animated comedies like Ren & Stimpy or Rocko’s Modern Life. Those were viewed when I visited my grandparents and had access for a few hours to cable television. So, a show like Animaniacs was a straight injection of zany meta-commentary that I hadn’t really been exposed to in my youth. So, what chance does a revival of Animaniacs over twenty years later of being successful?
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