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Seth Lukas Hynes

Freelance Writer

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reviews

The Martian review

martian

Who would have thought a film about an astronaut (Mark Watney, played by Matt Damon) stranded on Mars would be one of the most uplifting movies of the year?

In a year (more like a decade) of predominantly dark, dour blockbusters, The Martian is unique in how joyful and good-humoured it is.

Damon carries much of the film with his affable larrikin charisma alone. Watney makes frequent wisecracks about his desolate situation, but these are organic to the story as another way for him to stay alive and sane.

Watney must constantly deal with the sheer isolation and hazards of living on Mars, which maintains heavy suspense. But this naturally tense atmosphere has the added benefit of making every accomplishment – from Watney growing potatoes in Martian soil to rigging communication with Earth through the old Pathfinder rover – feel like a fist-pumping triumph.

The Martian isn’t just about perseverance and surviving against the odds; it’s an intimately personal yet solar system-spanning epic about human ingenuity, exploring a new frontier and Earth pooling its resources together to help someone in need.

The Martian is exciting, funny and wonderfully inspiring.

Let’s hope this film inspires us to actually, finally send manned missions to other worlds again.

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Sicario and The Visit

We’re doubling up this time, covering Denis Villeneuve’s Sicario and M. Night Shyamalan’s The Visit (you’ll see why).

visit

The Visit is The Sixth Sense director Shyamalan’s attempt to restore his reputation after a long string of failures, and this low-budget horror film about two kids staying over with their estranged, increasingly creepy grandparents is a modest success.

The performances are engaging, the film has some amusing self-aware humor about filmmaking technique, and maintains an intensely eerie atmosphere.

The main problem with The Visit is that Shyamalan doesn’t pace his clues properly, in that some of the most disturbing moments happen too early, and you’re likely to figure out the big twist (something Shyamalan once had a gift for) rather quickly.

But overall, quite a decent horror movie.

sicario

But Sicario is a far better horror film without even trying to be.

This taut, expertly-directed thriller follows Kate Macer (Emily Blunt), an elite SWAT agent taking part in a crackdown on the Columbian drug cartel.

With its unrelentingly grim tone, stark violence and confronting depictions of the extreme corruption on both sides of the War on Drugs, Sicario feels like a horror movie grounded in very real conflicts.

On top of that, the characters are riveting and multifaceted, and Roger Deacon’s cinematography is stunning.

The Visit is a fairly scary diversion, but Sicario ranks among the year’s best thrillers and horrors.

Everest review

everest

Everest is a very well-crafted thriller based on tragic true events.

The film dramatizes the 1996 Mount Everest disaster, in which two teams of mountaineers faced deadly set-backs in their climb and descent.

This is one of those uncommon movies that is so solid, there’s relatively little to say about it.

Everest has simple but engaging characters, and the high-profile cast has enjoyable chemistry. Despite the thin air, the atmosphere is raw and riveting, and the location shoots and environmental effects are breathtaking.

The film covers the nitty-gritty details of surviving on the mountain, but keeps up a good pace and avoids feeling like an info-dump. This initial set-up, as the mountaineers acclimatise and learn of the risks, generates strong suspense, as you watch people you’ve come to like struggling and succumbing later on in the harsh conditions.

Moreover, Everest depicts the title mountain as perilous and unpredictable without resorting to the all-too-common disaster cliché of presenting it like a living creature.

Beck Weathers (played in the film by Josh Brolin), a lucky survivor of the expedition, said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times that Everest ‘basically runs me over’ and ’emotionally… takes me apart’. This suggests a high level of authenticity in Everest‘s retelling of his harrowing experience.

Everest marks a high peak in the quality of recent Hollywood productions.

Shame (2011 film review)

Here is my review of Shame, a bleak yet riveting character study about sex addiction.

Follow this link to my review.

Drive (film review)

After hearing my friends rave about this film, I finally watched Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive, and they were right to praise it so highly. Drive is one of the best films I’ve seen in a long time.

Follow this link to my review.

Review Series Announcement

Recently, I set up a Patreon account for my YouTube film reviews.

Serious employment prospects in Australia suck right now, and I’ll go insane if I have to stay on welfare for much longer. You can understand my eagerness in attempting to make a legitimate job out of a hobby I’ve loved doing for the past six years.

But at the same time, I understand that many of you would be unwilling to pay (even optionally) for a service you have (and will continue to receive) for free.

I need to offer you something new, bold and exclusive – something you wouldn’t get without a Patreon pledge.

And I’ve got just the thing.

I’ve been reviewing films on YouTube for a long time. My tastes and analytical skills have grown and evolved, as have my opinions on certain films. I’ve disliked some films, then gone on to like or love them. I’ve made some enemies with my reviews, and sometimes deservedly; the backlash against Confused Matthew’s 2001: A Space Odyssey was like a Cold War in the Internet reviewer scene, but I’ve generated considerable controversy over Blue Velvet, Antichrist, Primer and many other reviews.

My positive Clockwork Orange review was a sample of things to come.

I intend to create a huge 21-part review series in which I revisit the most contentious reviews of my ‘career’. I will make long, thorough and engaging reviews (10 minutes or more) of these films, with particular consideration on how my perspectives and attitudes toward them (and film in general) have changed.

Not all the films I will be re-reviewing are ones I originally deemed bad or not-so-great (though most will be); there will be some that I spoke very highly of at the time, and I’m curious to see if they hold up.

But this large-scale project will mostly be an extensive reassessment of my body of work; a look back at past films with my present, more mature mind.

The schedule for this series is at the end of this article.

And how much will this endeavor cost?

$2.

If you pledge $2 or more per published film review to my Patreon campaign, you will receive all of my exclusive re-reviews as they come out.

Videos separate from my re-review series will count toward Patreon funding, and I aim to make reviews once or twice a week, but you can set a monthly cap so that you never pay more than you’re prepared to.

Follow this link to my Patreon.

I’m really excited about this project, and I hope to receive your assistance to get it rolling.

Thank you.

—–

SCHEDULE:

  1. The Matrix Revolutions
  2. Immortal (Ad Vitam)
  3. The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy
  4. Juno
  5. Towelhead
  6. Land of the Blind
  7. Seven Samurai
  8. Timecrimes
  9. Primer
  10. El Topo
  11. Antichrist
  12. Silver Linings Playbook
  13. Blade Runner
  14. Blue Is The Warmest Color
  15. Cloud Atlas
  16. Spring Breakers
  17. Only God Forgives
  18. Blue Velvet
  19. Inland Empire
  20. Persona
  21. Mulholland Drive

Pixels review

pixels

Pixels is a reprehensible mess of an ’80s nostalgia trip.

When aliens attack Earth using technology based on classic arcade games, a team of elite retro gamers are assembled to combat the invaders.

Adam Sandler (who co-produces and stars in this film) has been a near-constant embarrassment for the past decade or more, and Pixels is yet another barrage of obnoxious Sandler tropes.

Sandler plays, yet again, an inconsiderate, charmless jerk who is somehow universally liked and attracts beautiful women. Kevin James (a frequent Sandler collaborator) is essentially a walking fat-joke.

The film is full of irritating cultural stereotypes and forced, drawn-out humor, and alternates flippantly between fondness for classic gaming and disdainful mocking of its nerd main characters

The pacing is abysmally slow and erratic, and while the video game-inspired action scenes (including Pacman’s rampage through New York) are vibrant and entertaining, they’re too scarce and not worth slogging through all the crassness and ineptitude throughout the rest of the film.

As far as movies based on video games go, Hitman: Agent 47 – stupidly written yet incredibly stylish – is much better.

hitman_agent_forty_seven

Among this year’s stinkers, Aloha is worse than Pixels only because it aims higher, attempting touching drama about family relationships, and fails even more miserably.

aloha

Pixels: avoid at all costs.

Patreon Announcement Article

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m on Patreon!

I have been writing for my entire life, and intend to make it a full-time career, but journalism jobs are hard to come by (jobs of any kind, for that matter), and the ad revenue from my YouTube reviews is merely pocket-change.

So, I’ve set up this Patreon account in the hope that it will give me a little more security (I do plenty of volunteer work and some consulting work, but as of yet I’m unemployed) and act as a stepping stone toward greater opportunities.

Patreon is a crowdfunding platform that allows viewers to directly support creative content makers.

If you would like to support me a little in my YouTube reviews and writing work, I would be immensely grateful. It’s entirely up to you, you can pledge whatever amount you wish, and there are a few fun benefits up for grabs, including exclusive reviews, a newsletter, producer credits and even requests.

So, if you would like, please support me on Patreon!

A Clockwork Orange (film review)

Here is my review of Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange – written in Nadsat, no less!

I’m very proud of how this project turned out, and I hope you enjoy it.

Follow this link to my review.

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