Whiplash (2014)

★★★½ / 👎

Whiplash (2014) poster

A live-action cartoon that champions abusive relationships as long as they’re co-dependent ones. Wonderful performances and thrilling musical sequences, but I never, ever for a single moment accepted the reality of this filmic universe, which makes All That Jazz and The Red Shoes seem like documentaries by comparison.

Wolf Creek 2 (2013)

★★★½ / 👎

Wolf Creek 2 (2013) poster

Wolf Creek 2 is a vile cartoon, but a generally well-made one. It takes advantage of a noticeably larger budget than the first film, with solid action sequences, tight editing and a quirky but effective soundtrack. When not preoccupied with the gore, the movie also looks pretty great; given that it’s literally about a psychopath who slaughters “foreign vermin,” it’s a surprisingly effective ad for Australia’s tourism industry. (I suppose I may simply lack the instinct for self-preservation, but then again, Hostel and Turistas never made me want to visit Slovakia or Brazil….)

Jarratt is a bit less Crocodile Dundee and a bit more Leatherface this time around, sadly, and whole sections are lifted from other, better horror & suspense films. The victims do generally register as individual human beings, which is more than most torture-porn movies manage (or even attempt). The second half of the film is less effective than the first, though, as the obligatory scenes from this subgenre play out in a fairly rote manner, enlivened only by the manic energy of the actors.

Given the obvious talent both behind and in front of the camera, I wish that everyone involved in this belated sequel had made, well, anything else; but for what it is, it’s not bad at all.

Welcome to the Punch (2013)

★★★½ / 👍

Welcome to the Punch (2013) poster

Stylishly shot, and colo(u)r graded within an inch of its life, Welcome to the Punch is a Hong Kong–inspired crime thriller about an obsessed cop and a ruthless gangster on a collision course. The plot is generic, but the individual scenes are well observed; the numerous recognizable actors all give solid performances, even in relatively small or thankless roles.