Tuesday, 27 January 2015

60 Second Film Reviews #16

Quick movie reviews, without the waffle. 60 Second Film Reviews is a regular feature where I compile together brief reviews of recent films I've watched at home or at the movies - and generally couldn't be arsed didn't find time to write a proper review for.

This month, we have Frank Miller's Sin City: A Dame To Kill For, 20,000 Days on Earth, and A Long Way Down. 

Frank Miller's Sin City: A Dame To Kill For (2014)

Welcome to Sin City, home of cigarettes, sleazy bars and inner monologues. Last year, Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller returned to Sin City for a second pulp-infused comic-book adaptation - this time with added Eva Green, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Josh Brolin on top of returning cast members Jessica Alba, Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, Rosario Dawson and Powers Booth.

Across three separate story strands, A Dame To Kill For is a gorgeous and visually arresting film jam-packed with the series' predisposition for booze, broads and bullets. For those not in the loop, the whole point of Sin City is embracing noir roots and translating the original text as literally as possible, an approach that makes for a distinctive and luscious film rich in genre flavour.

I really liked JGL's character, a suave gambler who finds himself in over his head - likewise, Mickey Rourke was in fine form returning to the role of Marv. Powers Booth upgrades his role to primary antagonist this time around and is particularly impactful as his character crosses across multiple storylines.

That being said, A Dame To Kill For's depiction of women is pretty horrendous. Eva Green (the titular dame) spends about 90% of her screen time stark naked and is nothing more than an object to be lusted over by the host of male characters. She's either a token to be fought over or a deranged psycho hell-bent on revenge. Not that it really seems to faze her - Green takes the full-bodied femme fatale role in her stride and she looks as though she's stepped straight from the set of classic 1940's noir.

At the end of the day, A Dame To Kill For is a perfectly serviceable follow-up to the 2005 original. It's equally as stylish, slick and sexy but nowhere near as revolutionary - it plays with the same tricks and doesn't reinvent the wheel.

I give Frank Miller's Sin City: A Dame To Kill For: 6.5/10

20,000 Days on Earth (2014)

20,000 Days on Earth is a fictionalised documentary about a 'day in the life' of Australian rock artist Nick Cave. For any fan of the man himself, it goes without saying that this film is an unmissable insight into one of Australia's best-known and most poetic musicians. If his music is your jam, 20,000 Days on Earth is like a delicious pot of double cream for you to plaster on top of that jam. Wait, let me just check that simile checks out...

Seems legit. Sort of.

Moving on. 20,000 Days on Earth is a very reflective and introspective film, one that delves deep into the mind of Cave - it's engrossing and stripped back, a film that toes the line between real life and fiction. It poses the question, "where does the story end and the truth begin?"

With this in mind, it's pretty easy to judge 20,000 Days on Earth as indulgent or self-serving - almost pretentious. Why make a pseudo-documentary about your own band and your own writing process? What's the motivation behind it all other than to come across as a revered artist peeling back the layers and revealing all. Hard to say, but Cave does delve deep into his own (or at least, his skewed characters' own) conscious for the answers.

So far, pretty positive - and yet, I don't feel as though I can recommended 20,000 Days on Earth to anyone outside of those who're already familiar with Cave. It's predominantly comprised of dialogue and anecdotes from his past, told as a sessions between the artist and his therapist. This means that it is very long, or at least it feels very long. 20,000 Days on Earth might be just 95 minutes long, but it might as well be 20,000 days long. I mean, my God - why did it have to be so long? It could've been a 45-minute TV special on SBS and it would've gotten across the same point in a way that was a lot more effective and punchy. It wasn't long before I was checking my watch and waiting for it to end.

I give 20,000 Days on Earth: 5.5/10

A Long Way Down (2014)

The premise for A Long Way Down is this - four strangers, all set on committing suicide, run into one another on the roof of a London building on New Year's Eve. As you can imagine, this kind of ruins the buzz and they decide to band together to pick up the pieces and put their lives back together. It stars Pierce Brosnan, Toni Collette, Imogen Poots and Aaron Paul.

The film is a mixed bag tonally. It's a bit indecisive on who it wants the main character to be - is it Martin (Pierce Brosnan), the character whom we first meet? Or Jess (Imogen Poots), the young drug addict girl who all of sudden takes over after about 30 minutes. 

We're sold on the idea this is a story about Martin finding family in the weirdest of places but it's actually more of a group effort and the focus shifts around between the four throughout the runtime. This means that it feels very uneven in places.

Oh, Rosamund Pike is in this movie. Only for a little bit though. Which is kind of a good thing because she's given zilch to work with. In some ways, the movie is quite satirical in how it constructs the media circus that explodes around the group, except that it doesn't fully commit to this so it kind of falls flat.

The movie should have stuck to what it does best which is showing the group connecting with one another and rediscovering the meaning of life - i.e. the central theme, friendship and supporting one another. That being said, it's got this really great grasp of dark humour, you know, considering it's a film about suicide and depression.

I give A Long Way Down: 5/10


  1. I was really disappointed in A Dame to Kill For. Sin City is one of my all time favorite movies and I love JGL so much. I'm bummed I didn't like it more. I haven't seen the other two films here.

    1. That's a shame! I agree that it wasn't as memorable as the first but it wasn't all bad. JGL was definitely a highlight :)

  2. The Long Way Down sounds...awful...at least premise-wise...and I kind of feel terrible that the only reason I want to see A Dame to Kill For is to see Eva Green naked.

    And I've seen her naked in a GOOD movie (The Dreamers) so I really have no reason to care...but I do...sort of.

    1. Yeah, I was mainly interested because of Aaron Paul but it wasn't the best film ever. And hey, there are worse reasons for seeing a film. I say go for it! ;)

  3. I've only seen A Dame to Kill For and it was thoroughly "meh." The shame there being how much I love the original. I have much the same to say about Eva Green's character when my review goes up later this week.

    1. Yeah, it did feel a bit something of nothing at times. Whilst JGL's storyline was good, that ending was really naff. Look forward to reading your thoughts later Wendell! :)



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