What’s on ‘Built For Speed’, Friday 22nd June 2018

This week on ‘Built For Speed’ we tell you all about the latest reincarnation of Jurassic Park with Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. For those wanting fewer scenes of T-Rex eating people we’ll let you know about Leisure Seeker a drama about ageing in contemporary America starring Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland.  There’s many fine tunes to be had on ‘Built For Speed’ with new music from Australia and overseas, classic rock and indie favourites from across the decades.  Don’t forget our regular preview of gigs and TV for the week.  Check out ‘Built For Speed’, Friday 8-10pm on 88.3 Southern FM.

Film review: ‘PANDAS 3D’, by Nick Gardener from ‘Built For Speed’

Pandas 3D continues the fine tradition of IMAX nature documentaries, this time looking at China’s panda preservation program. Narrated by Kristen Bell, the film introduces us to the very cute Qian Qian, a female panda selected for a program designed to help pandas born in captivity transition to the wild in the huge national park known as the Chengdu Panda Base.  Leading this project is American biologist Dr Jake Owens (who addressed the audience prior to the screening) who works with Chinese researchers and bear guru Ben Kilham whose pioneering work with American black bears forms the basis for Dr Jake’s approach with Qian Qian.

The IMAX format is perfect for these sorts of documentaries as it captures the wonderful expansive landscapes in a way a conventional screen can’t. The 3D format also makes the experience more immersive here taking us into the stunning steamy forests of the Chengdu Panda sanctuary.

The documentary features adorable scenes of panda cubs capering around exploring their environment and chewing on everything in sight including Dr Jake’s head. There are a few dramatic moments when Qian Qian is in peril but there’s nothing here that will upset children.

A bonus is the soundtrack curated by DEVO’s Mark Mothersborough who includes ZZ Top’s ‘Sharp Dressed Man’ and the Ramones’ cover of ‘Do You Want to Dance’.

Like most IMAX films Pandas 3D skims over a lot of the scientific issues and oddly says little about broader environmental concerns but as an insight into these playful but sadly endangered creatures this is a delight.

Nick’s rating: ***1/2

Genre: Documentary.

Classification: CTC.

Director(s): David Douglas, Drew Fellman.

Release date: 15th June 2018.

Running time: 40 mins.

Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM.  Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast. http://subcultureentertainment.com/2014/02/the-good-the-bad-the-ugly-film-show

 

Film review: ‘OCEANS 8’, by Nick Gardener from ‘Built For Speed’

The Ocean’s 11 etc movies are one of the less likely film franchises. Conceived in the 1960’s as a Vegas lark for the Rat Pack, the concept was resurrected in the 2000’s for George Clooney and a gaggle of his bros to play criminal hepcats ripping off casinos. With Ocean’s 8, the Ocean’s concept, like Doctor Who has reappeared in another form, this time with an all-female cast. While the gender switch is a welcome and redolent of the #MeToo era, this formulaic effort fails to genuinely excite.

Sandra Bullock essentially steps onto the George Clooney roll as Danny Ocean’s sister, Debbie. Recently released from prison Debbie sees going straight and living a nine to five grind as out of the question. Her five years in prison have been spent planning the biggest score of her criminal career, the theft of multimillion dollar necklace at the famed New York Met Gala ball. To pull off the heist she needs an expert team, cue quirky character recruitment montage. Her crew consists of Lou (Cate Blanchett), expert hacker Nine Ball (Rihanna), pickpocket Constance (Awkwafina), fashion designer Rose (Helena Bonham Carter), diamond expert Amita (Mindy Kaling) and logistics wiz Tammy (Sarah Paulson). Their ‘mark’ in this heist is vain, self-obsessed movie star Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway) who will drape herself in the outrageously expensive diamonds at the gala.

The crime caper itself is reasonably elaborate and well-constructed even though we’ve seen the same sort of thing many times in the other Ocean’s films and even the National Treasure franchise. Still, set amid the New York glitterati the film offers additional thrills for those enamoured of high fashion world and the Met gala ball also provides a sparkling setting for the heist.

Unfortunately, despite its star-studded cast the film lacks the necessary zing. Where it really falls down is in the lack of chemistry between the characters, particularly it’s Oscar winning leads Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett. They’re simply bland, unmemorable characters, a problem partly brought about by flat dialogue but also because of Bullock’s excessively laid-back and hesitant performance. Cate Blanchett also isn’t given much to work with apart from a general brief to look cool and slightly androgynous, a little like a cross between a 70’s rocker and Darryl Hannah’s android from Blade Runner. Sarah Paulson, who was so memorable in The People Versus OJ Simpson has something resembling a substantial role as she concocts much of the caper. Rhianna also brings some welcome street smarts to proceedings. Most of the other stars are given precious little to do especially Helena Bonham Carter and Mindy Kaling who have only a few scraps of dialogue.

The film briefly springs to life when James Corden appears as a relentless insurance investigator who gets in everyone’s faces the way Corden does in his TV interviews. Some more of the quirky energy he brings to the film would have been welcome.

Oceans 8 is a tolerable time passer but given its stellar cast it’s a lost opportunity.

Nick’s rating: **1/2

Genre: Action/ comedy/ crime caper.

Classification: M.

Director(s): Gary Ross.

Release date: 7th June 2018.

Running time: 110 mins.

Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM.  Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast. http://subcultureentertainment.com/2014/02/the-good-the-bad-the-ugly-film-show

 

What’s on ‘Built For Speed’, Friday 15th June 2018

This week ‘Built For Speed’ tells you all about the latest instalment in the Ocean’s movie series, ‘Oceans 8’ which stars Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett.  For something a little different we’ll also have a look IMAX nature doco ‘Pandas 3D’.  There’s plenty of magnificent tunes as we revisit some of the alternative rock favourites from the first 15 years of the millennium and enjoy a feast of classic rock from the 1970’s.  We’ll hear our final picks in the all time favourite album-fest, this time all 70’s albums and Nick will divulge his top 20 albums. Don’t forget our regular preview of gigs and TV for the week.  Check out ‘Built For Speed’ Friday 8-10pm on 88.3 Southern FM.

Film review: ‘KODACHROME’, by Nick Gardener from ‘Built for Speed’

The road trip drama has long been a convenient cinematic device for forcing warring family members to cohabit and thrash out their issues while imbibing the attractive landscapes through which they travel. The low-key, low-budget film Kodachrome is a familiar road trip redemption story but one that benefits from better-than-average performances.

Jason Sudeikis stars as arrogant and once successful record company talent scout Matt Ryder who is now struggling to find his place in a changing world. When he loses a major artist, he’s given two weeks to sign another big-name band or he’s fired. In the midst of this dilemma he’s asked to accompany his long-estranged, contemptible and terminally ill photographer father Ben (Ed Harris) and his personal assistant Zoe (Catherine Olsen) on road trip to Kansas to develop Ben’s last roll of Kodachrome film before the film company shuts forever.

With the protagonist a disillusioned son with employment problems and the film evoking nostalgia through music, Kodachrome may on paper resemble the Cameron Crowe clunker Elizabethtown. Thankfully, Kodachrome is a much more believable and grounded film than Cameron Crowe’s borderline turkey and through its modest ambitions comes closer to a film like the touching Aussie drama Last Cab to Darwin.

As he showed in Pollock, few can do it irascible artistic genius as convincingly as Ed Harris; he’s an obnoxious git for much of this film but there’s just enough humanity bubbling below the surface to make him tolerable. Jason Sudeikis has spent most of his film career seemingly trying to usurp the Chevy Chase throne as Hollywood’s premier purveyor of smarmy smart-ass characters but thankfully he’s started venturing into different territory with oddball dramas like last year’s Colossus and more humanist efforts like Kodachrome. Given that the music scene defines his character, though, it would have been good to learn more about Matt’s favourite bands and what inspired his career. Catherine Olsen is largely known as Red Witch from the Avengers films but she shows she can deliver an engaging performance in a low-key drama.

The film mostly follows the terminal illness/ road trip formula which makes it a little predictable and deprives it of some emotional impact but it’s still effecting at times. The metaphor of a redundant technology (in this case photographic film) reflecting Ben and Mark’s lives is fairly obvious and a couple of times the dialogue unnecessarily spells this out but it’s not too distracting.

Within its limited scope, Kodachrome is an engaging if not essential drama.

Nick’s rating: ***

Genre: Drama/ Road trip.

Classification: M.

Director(s): Mark Raso.

Release date: 7th June 2018.

Running time: 105 mins.

Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM.  Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast. http://subcultureentertainment.com/2014/02/the-good-the-bad-the-ugly-film-show

1 2 3 195