Our contributor Renard N. Bansale has completed another batch of more contemporary film reviews for your consideration. The rating system he'll use is devised primarily to give those who are trying to decide which films to see, a fun and easy way of (hopefully) choosing a more pleasurable movie-going experience. For a more thorough introduction to this series please see 21st Century Treasure Quest #1. (A.G.)
1 chest: Definitely worth missing
2 chests: Okay to kill some time
3 chests: Not a complete success, but rewarding
4 chests: Well crafted, creative and memorable
5 chests: A real treasure, deep, profound and original
Busco novio para mi mujer (2016—Director: Enrique Begne)
There’s little to recommend this Mexican remake of the 2008 Argentinian hit film A Boyfriend for My Wife besides its borrowed premise: A belaboured husband hires a con-man to seduce and purposely run away with his nagging wife. This comedy’s production value and “sitcomish” atmosphere make the proceedings better suited for television’s more instantly gratified demographic. The con artist’s humorous exploits receive less attention than the feckless husband who as a result, gains only our slightest concern for his plight or his scheme's outcome.
Deadpool (2016—Director: Tim Miller)
Tim Miller’s directorial debut manages to engage due to Ryan Reynolds’ charismatic, career-defining lead performance. The “fourth wall” breaking jokes, (the ones that work that is), only make up for so many underdeveloped supporting characters who provide a negligible contribution to this blend of superhero revenge fantasy with romantic comedy. The result is a comic book satire filled with crass violence and aberrant sexuality that finally becomes the very thing it attempts to satirise.
Eddie the Eagle (2016—Director: Dexter Fletcher)
This biographical sports “dramedy" manages to capture the heartfelt inspiration of its real-life event, despite a few sports-film cliches, manipulative emotional payoffs, and stereotypical minor antagonists. The film boasts an impressive ensemble cast, with Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman, and a refreshingly subdued Christopher Walken as stand-outs. Another significant contribution is Matthew Margeson's synthesiser-based score which appropriately enhances the story’s late 80’s setting.
Gods of Egypt (2016—Director: Alex Proyas)
The actors give their all in this fantasy adventure, notably an amusing Chadwick Boseman, a commanding Gerard Butler, and the dynamic duo of Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Brenton Thwaites who collectively fuel the film’s adventurous spirit. What cannot be appreciated, however, is the utter disregard for production and visual restraint, tiresomely overbearing the narrative with excessive and unrealistic special effects.
How to Be Single (2016—Director: Christian Ditter)
Expert cinematography and economical editing combined with a seasoned ensemble cast makes How to Be Single one of this year’s pleasant cinematic surprises. Director Christian Ditter sophisticatedly weaves the intertwining plot strands of Liz Tuccillo’s 2008 novel of rocky starts to satisfying closures, conveying each one’s unique emotional apex. All four female leads are accomplished but the real acting standout is Damon Wayans Jr, whose natural likability fuses perfectly with his character’s dramatic arc.
The Witch (2015—Director: Robert Eggers)
The Witch climbs to the upper echelon of contemporary cinematic horror by way of its unrelenting and unwavering psychological tension, forcing its audience to cling to their seats from start to finish. Its authenticity extends to the portrayed time period especially by the use of antiquated English. The cinematography is subtle and sublime when the activities are quiet, ominous and abrupt when the horror emerges. British actor Ralph Ineson gives a fittingly larger-than-life performance as the family’s patriarch, and newcomer Anya Taylor-Joy impresses as she brings out her character’s darker underpinnings. The stuff of nightmares should always be this enjoyable to watch.