Tag Archives: Ethan Hawke

Guest Review: Sinister

Director: Scott Derrickson
Year: 2012
Score: 6.5/10
Reviewer: Drew Pontikis

Still from Sinister

Suddenly Mrs. Wilson regretted her decision to answer the ‘Homeschool Substitute Teacher Wanted’ ad.

Sinister is a strange film, as it doesn’t really sit right as a horror film. As you might imagine, a horror film’s most pressing aim is to be scary; some are really bad at it admittedly, but that is the ultimate aim that it should be striving for. Sinister on the other hand doesn’t feel scary, nor does it feel at any point that it is trying to be scary. This sounds like a criticism and a sure sign that this film is a failure, but in practice it’s actually quite an interesting film. The best way I can describe it is if you imagine a version of Kiss the Girls in which the serial killer is a ghost.

Quick summary: writer moves to a house where some murdering occurred, and whilst unpacking finds a projector and box of home films in the attic; writer watches them and finds that they’re snuff films, continues to watch them anyway, then spooky stuff occurs. It’s quite an odd sensation watching this film; you’re waiting for the horror and it just never happens, but at the same time it tows you along in a relatively interesting plot. It’s almost like it’s a failed horror film that’s fluked its way into being a thriller.

Compared to its peers (Paranormal Activity and Insidious), Sinister fails. It doesn’t make the cut as a horror film, and those (like me) who were expecting to be scared will find their nerves intact and trousers unsoiled. So much does it fail in fact, by rights I would have scored this perhaps a three out of ten were it being judged purely as a horror. In isolation however, Sinister is interesting and rather than a good plot poorly executed, it would fall into the category ‘Not what we were looking for but we’ll take it’.

Drew Pontikis is an avid gamer and film fanatic. A fan of racing sims, first person shooters and horror films, Drew is notable for talking almost exclusively using Futurama quotes. Follow him on Twitter as @drew060609 or read his game reviews at http://obscenegaming.wordpress.com.

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Review: Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead

Director: Sidney Lumet
Year: 2007
Score: 6/10

A rare photo of one of the early table reads for Boardwalk Empire, back when Ethan Hawke was set to play Nucky Thompson. He's no Steve Buscemi, sure, but it might have worked.

A rare photo of one of the early table reads for Boardwalk Empire, back when Ethan Hawke was set to play Nucky Thompson. He’s no Steve Buscemi, sure, but it might have worked.

Sidney Lumet’s final film is a well made but unpleasant crime drama featuring an excellent cast – the late great Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Marisa Tomei, Michael Shannon, etc. – who all play people I’d rather not spend time with, thanks very much. Lumet tells the story in non-linear fashion, showing us the same scenes several times in order to change from one character’s perspective to another’s. Presumably this is intended to give the audience greater insight into what’s going on; however, in practice we end up gaining almost nothing every time, so the exercise seems pointless. Still, the performances are uniformly solid and there are a few moments of truth and emotional depth (though not nearly enough to warrant a recommendation).

Review: Dead Poets Society

Director: Peter Weir
Year: 1989
Score: 8/10

Apparently 'Carpe Diem' means 'seize the opportunity for non-consensual sexual contact with a girl passed out on a couch'.

Apparently ‘Carpe Diem’ means ‘seize the opportunity for non-consensual sexual contact with a girl passed out on a couch’.

Probably the best movie I’ve seen in the ‘inspirational teacher’ subgenre, though I haven’t seen Goodbye, Mr. Chips or To Sir, With Love, so take that with a grain of salt. It’s also hard to think of a better dramatic performance from Robin Williams (I guess maybe Good Will Hunting, but it’s a tough call); he’s believable and genuinely inspiring as the unorthodox teacher who urges his boys to seize the day. It’s not a subtle movie by any means but it packs quite an emotional punch. I’ll admit I found some of the boys – including even some central characters – hard to tell apart for a good chunk of the movie; I imagine if I rewatch it, they’ll be more readily distinguishable to me. I wish Neil’s father got more of a comeuppance (or was more obviously shattered by what transpired) in the final act. Interesting piece of trivia for readers of this review who are familiar with Scots College in Sydney: director Peter Weir apparently wove many elements of his own schooling at Scots into the film.