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Sled Island Music Festival – Guest Curator: Julien Baker

Sled Island Music Festival – Guest Curator: Julien Baker

by Sebastian Buzzalino Julien Baker’s delicate folk songwriting feels like a long-forgotten favourite sweater. She is emotive and resilient, leaving…

Vidiot: December 2015

Sunday 06th, December 2015 / 20:19
By Shane Sellar

Ricki and the Flash

The upside to being an elderly female lead singer is that the crowd no longer chants, “Show us your tits.”

Mind you, the vocalist in this dramedy never had much of a fan base to begin with.

Mature party girl Ricki (Meryl Streep) has been singing in an LA dive bar ever since she left her husband Pete (Kevin Kline) to follow her rock-star dreams.

When she receives a call concerning her suicidal daughter (Mamie Gummer) she rushes back to Indianapolis to be with her.

However, her estranged family isn’t so receptive to having their deadbeat mother back.

While Streep nails the immature musician and Diablo Cody’s script occasionally discusses the double standards between female and male rock-stars, for the most part Ricki and the Flash is a predictable and forgettable film.

Besides, to stay relevant, older singers need to align with younger artists and pretend to be their moms.

American Ultra

The best thing about being a sleeper agent is you don’t have to attend your agency’s Christmas party.

In fact, the unknowing agent in this action-comedy doesn’t even have to check in.

Convenience store clerk Mike Howell (Jesse Eisenberg) divides his time up between working, drawing cartoons, and getting high with his girlfriend Phoebe (Kristen Stewart).

But when an eager operative (Topher Grace) orders the assassination of project Ultra’s last remaining sleeper, Ultra’s mastermind (Connie Britton) locates Mike and activates him moments before the cleanup crew arrives.

With access to his CIA training, Mike is now equipped to take on the elite killers invading his small town.

While the action is certainly rapid fire and somewhat inventive, the film’s simplistic plot line fails to find its purpose. As for the acting, both leads are unable to emote any believable emotions.

Incidentally, it’s not until agents are activated that they start getting paid.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E

The most important thing about being a spy is telling your dentist about your cyanide-filled false tooth.

Sadly, the spies in this action movie are too busy to maintain regular checkups.

In 1963, CIA operative Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) is paired with KGB agent Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) to prevent a Nazi scientist from creating a nuclear warhead for a family of Third Reich supporters (Luca Calvani, Elizabeth Debicki).

But to do that they must first learn to work together, and alongside the scientist’s daughter (Alicia Vikander).

Director Guy Ritchie’s take on the’60s spy show, this modern adaptation is anything but modern.

Existing in the same time period as its inspiration, the mod cars, fashion and set pieces all compliment the director’s stylized aesthetic. They also help distract from a formulaic script.

Incidentally, this marks the first time the KGB and CIA have worked together since the Kennedy assassination.

No Escape

When moving your entire family to a foreign country you should at least drive them to the airport.

However, the husband in this thriller is actually going with his wife and kids.

Transferred to an unspecified South Asian country to work for an engineering firm, Jack Dwyer (Owen Wilson), his wife (Lake Bell) and daughters are in caught in a coup between locals and employees of Jack’s company.

Fortunately, his immoral firm hired an ex-British agent (Pierce Brosnan) to protect their interests overseas. Now he’s helping lead the family to the safety of Vietnam.

Nothing short of xenophobic propaganda, this fear-mongering hate piece reduces the populace of a nameless Asian nation to mindless savages for no reason other than corporate maleficence.

Ill-conceived and thoroughly preposterous, this embarrassment gives new meaning to the term ugly American.

Besides, your children are more valuable than any job – especially in a third world country.

We Are Your Friends

The reason EDM DJs wear headphones is so they don’t have to listen to their own annoying music.

Conversely, the spinner in this drama thinks his music is actually original.

Struggling dance music DJ Cole (Zac Efron) catches the eye of a legendary beat-maker (Wes Bentley), who takes the aping amateur under his wing and encourages him to branch out.

Immersed in his mentor’s drug addled lifestyle, Cole starts using and disconnects from his friends. It’s not until he sleeps with his icon’s girlfriend does Cole begin to see his tutor’s controlling nature.

Despite its astute dissection of the misunderstood genre as well as some truly eye-catching visual techniques, We Are Your Friends lacks direction, believable dialogue and relatable characters.

Not to mention its after-school special plot twist involving an overdose makes the life lessons learned seem utterly contrived.

Furthermore, not all deaths at EDM concerts are overdoses – some are suicides.

Trainwreck

Female stand-up comics aren’t successful because they physically can’t stand upright as long as a man can.

Mind you, the comedienne in this romantic-comedy may just have the stamina.

As a result of her father’s (Colin Quinn) anti-monogamy teachings, sex columnist and borderline alcoholic Amy (Amy Schumer) grows up to be a party girl with many meaningless partners (John Cena, Ezra Miller).

It’s not until she interviews a sports injury doctor (Bill Hader) for the men’s magazine she writes for does she begin to question her cynical stance on monogamy.

As foulmouthed and hyper-sexual as her male comedic counterparts, the film’s writer and lead antagonist makes an indelible impact with her brand of unladylike humour.

And while the bawdy anecdotes are hit or miss, the feminine point-of-view on casual relationships is refreshing and insightful, albeit a tad long-winded.

Incidentally, without monogamy, Valentine’s Day would just become a commercial money grab. 

Terminator Genisys

The best way to destroy a time-travelling robot is to send it back to New Year’s Eve 1999.

Unfortunately, the automaton in this sci-fi movie arrived post-Y2K.

Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney), a resistance fighter in the war against machines, is sent backwards in time to protect the mother, Sarah (Emilia Clarke), of his leader John Connor (Jason Clarke) from a killer computer (Arnold Schwarzenegger).

However, he arrives in an alternate timeline where Sarah and an aging Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) have been waiting for him to help destroy a nanotech version of John, and a deadly operating system from launching in the year 2017.

The fifth in the once classic franchise, Genisys is a retread pretending it’s not with nothing to offer besides convoluted exposition on time-travel and wooden performances from the entire cast.

Besides, robots from the future can tell us which robotic racehorses we should bet on.

Mr. Holmes

Aging detectives likely spend most of their time detecting where they left their reading glasses.

Similarly, the senile sleuth in this drama is having trouble recollecting names.

A retired Sherlock Holmes (Ian McKellen) sets out to rectify the misconceptions his partner Watson had written about their adventures decades earlier, however, the 93-year-old can’t recall his final case, which involved a suspicious husband.

It’s not until Holmes recounts the occasion to the son of his housekeeper Mrs. Munro (Laura Linney) that the somber details of the incident become clearer to him.

Meanwhile, Holmes’ influence over her son begins to worry Mrs. Munro.

A vast departure from any incarnation before it, this dramatic take is very much grounded in reality.

From dementia and depression to class struggle and separating myth from fact, Mr. Holmes is ripe with pathos and powerful performances.

Furthermore, the biggest falsehood about Holmes was that he was British.

Inside Out

A child’s mind has a wide range of emotions until their doctor prescribes Adderall for their ADHD.

Thankfully, the adolescent in this animated movie has an array of emotions.

When her family moves from Minnesota to San Francisco, hockey player Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) has a hard time fitting in, causing her base emotions – Joy (Amy Poehler), Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Bill Hader), Sadness (Phyllis Smith) and Disgust (Mindy Kaling) – to be out of whack.

Things get worse when Sadness darkens Riley’s memories of Minnesota and Joy and Riley’s long-forgotten imaginary friend Bing-Bong (Richard Kind) must restore her recall before she runs away from home.

One of the most cerebral computer animated features ever, this expertly rendered escapade mixes base elements of child psychology with Disney’s demonstrative storytelling and Pixar’s age defying comicality.

Mind you, if Riley keeps playing hockey all of her emotions are going to be concussed.

Vacation

The most important thing to remember when travelling with your family is to book separate flights.

Unfortunately, the foursome in this comedy is confined to the same rental car.

Desperate to bond with his wife (Christina Applegate) and sons the same way his father (Chevy Chase) did with he and his sister (Leslie Mann) when they were younger, Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms) plans a cross-country road trip to Walley World.

Along the way, the brood encounters an array of characters (Chris Hemsworth, Charlie Day) and finds themselves in a number of outrageous scenarios that test their rapport.

Featuring a cruder, more malicious Griswold clan than any of its predecessors, this continuation of the hapless Chicagoans lacks the congenial spirit of the slapstick series, save for a few glimpses of irreverence from its supporting cast.

Incidentally, kids still play I Spy on road trips – except now it’s online, and for money.

Southpaw

The reason left-handed people live shorter lives than right-handed people is mainly due to stick shifts.

However, manual transmission is not even close to the cause of death in this drama.

After the accidental shooting of his wife (Rachel McAdams) at the hands of a rival boxer’s (Miguel Gomez) posse, World Light Heavyweight champ Billy Hope (Jake Gyllenhaal) goes into a tailspin that ultimately costs him custody of his daughter (Oona Laurence).

To get her back from The State, Billy recruits a weathered trainer (Forest Whitaker) to whip him into shape for an upcoming bout with the pugilist responsible for obliterating his world.

While Gyllenhaal draws you in with his knockout performance as the struggling single dad, the training montages, specialty punch and cantankerous coach cause this comeuppance tale to become nothing more than a formulaic boxing movie.

Besides, I thought we vaccinated children from getting left-handedness years ago.

He’s the Comeback Kidnapper. He’s the…
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