October 17, 2016 by bck1402
Hunt for The Wilderpeople 
Every once in a while comes a nice little gem of a film from nowhere, and it simply charms.
Then again, coming from New Zealand’s Taika Waititi, it probably shouldn’t be a surprise just how good this movie is. After all, Waititi’s previous films, Eagle vs Shark and What We Do In Shadows, have been remarkably charming little films that few have paid much attention to. His sublime direction and comic timing is so good, he’s been given the directing reins to the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok.
Hunt for The Wilderpeople is something of a buddy comedy road movie, without the road. What we get are two individuals traipsing around the Kiwi Outback while evading the law; how and why that happens is something you’ll have to discover for yourself. While Sam Neill delivers a nicely gruff and grumpy curmudgeon who just wants to be left alone, his partner in crime, Julian Dennison seals the double act and owns his scenes against the seasoned veteran star.
Giving us a different look at the beauty of New Zealand (the likes of say, The Lord of The Rings trilogy), Hunt for The Wilderpeople is one of those movies that simply must be seen, one that the whole family can enjoy, funny, entertaining and heart-warming all at once.
Rating ****1/2 /5
Swiss Army Man 
Directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert
This could be a fairly polarising film.
On one hand, the fart and dick jokes do tend to stretch thin throughout the movie, but on the other, there is a sublime examination of a fragile psyche going on. Therein also likes part of the problem. How and why Paul Dano’s Hank was on that island at the beginning is a mystery, but once you get to the end, perhaps it wasn’t that big a mystery after all, as much as his suicide attempt that opens the film. Once the corpse, Manny, washes into the picture, things slowly but surely take a very surreal turn that leads to Hank confronting several personal issues, with or via Manny.
That comes about thanks to Daniel Radcliffe’s mostly on-screen portrayal of Manny, the gaseous corpse. This is something to be seen to be believed, but it’ll take some patience to get to the good stuff. That’s when Hank figures how to utilise Manny in numerous ways, giving the movie its title. In its way, Manny becomes the most animated inanimate companion to a lonely isolated man since Wilson in Castaway.
A massive majority of the movie is a remarkable two-hander between Dano and Radcliffe, and in that, there are some remarkable performances and gimmicks at play, but getting to the end and how good the movie makes you feel will have to depend on how much you can take of Hank’s psychosis, what is and isn’t what you expect, and if the surprises along the way work for you or not.
It may get too surreal for some, and the social dysfunction may hit close to home.
Rating ***1/3 / 5
The Magnificent Seven 
Directed by Antoine Fuqua
To make a movie is to give it something that was lacking in a previous version, sometimes to improve upon an idea or concept, often not very likely at all; the originals tend to stand tall through the test of time and remain classics.
So this remakes gives a more diverse cast than before, seemingly bowing to political correctness in terms of racial representation. Can you imagine the backlash if one of these characters had been cast wrong in terms of race or ethnicity? Let’s keep the bad guy a white man too.
The thing is, none of that really bothers me out in the boondocks of South East Asia. After all, an actor’s job to to act; to pretend to be someone they’re not or to represent something they may not likely be in real life. To convey an idea that was on paper and bring it to life on screen. Also, not that such things matter to a movie like this. If Denzel ever gets cast as a Japanese character, why the hell not? If he can carry the language, mannerism and culture properly, make up a backstory where he was born and raised in Japan (that makes him Japanese regardless of how he looks. As if Americans are only white.).
Here, his character is not unlike many others he’s portrayed before, but then, the same applies to most of the other stars and their characters. That makes this movie an entertaining romp of an adventure. The stars do well enough to carry the film and keep the energy going, and it looks like Vincent D’Onofrio is having fun with his character (“…a bear wearing human skin…”). The action set-pieces are explosive, the drama is standard, but there nothing else seemingly needed to propel the movie from start to finish. Character backstories are kept to a minimal with just a slight hint of why they are doing what they are doing. Righteousness for the sake of it doesn’t factor in that much, but then neither is pay.
Still, lack of motives aside, it’s still an entertaining romp.
And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Rating *** /5