My Generation (2018) – A Quick Capsule Review

My Generation (2018) – A Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
My Generation is one of the best films of 2018 so far. Charming (well it is Sir Michael Caine after all) for sure but actually it’s more than that – the style, editing, use of archival footage (and of previous Caine movies) and narrative voice over combine to make a really outstanding film that is captivating from start to finish.  A faithful retelling of a dawning of a new age, My Generation sets a high bar for documentaries

Best Bit: Sir Michael Caine

Buy, Stream, Avoid: Buy

If You Liked this Try: American: The Bill Hicks Story, Alfie, They Shall Not Grow Old

 


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Phil Hobden

Phil Hobden is the former Film Editor & Writer for renowned martial arts focused COMBAT MAGAZINE in the UK. He is also a filmmaker in his own right, having produced two cult Independent action films in LEFT FOR DEAD and TEN DEAD MEN. He was the host for the award nominated Filmsploitation podcast for 4 years, currently co-hosts Ross And Phil Talk Movies and is a writer/editor for his own blog Phil’s Quick Capsule Review…

West Of Memphis (2012) – A Quick Capsule Review (Revisited)

West Of Memphis (2012) – A Quick Capsule Review (Revisited)

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review
West Of Memphis is one of the most engaging, tense and fascinating films i have seen in 2012.  Not documentary.  Film.  An unbelievable story, about an unbelievable set of events, Memphis tacks this familiar case from origins up to date, leaving you in no uncertain terms where the filmmakers and their many supporters lay their suspicions.  Emotionally charged and simply brilliant.

Best Bit: That was nearly 3 hours?  Flies past.

Rent, Borrow, Buy, Stream: Buy

If you liked this try: Into The Abyss, Inside Job, Catfish, Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hill

 

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The Hurt Business (2016) – A Quick Capsule Review

The Hurt Business (2016) – A Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
The Hurt Business is a solid documentary about the rise of combat sports, specifically Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) in the United States.  Taking a look at a group of fighters in different stages in their career, the film skirts around the sport and leaves some of it’s more interesting stories on the cutting room floor.  For me I want to see a deeper dive into the dark elements of the sport – concussions, injuries and the what happens next after a career is over.  So on a surface level it’s a good watch but I feel there is a much darker version of this film to be made.

Best Bit: Behind the curtain

Buy, Stream, Avoid: Stream

If You Liked this Try: Anderson Silva: Like Water,  Tyson, Hoop Dreams

 


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Andre the Giant (2018) – A Quick Capsule Review

Andre the Giant (2018) – A Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Andre the Giant is an excellent HBO documentary  that takes a look at the highs and lows of one of the most iconic professional wrestlers to ever step into the ring.  From his early starts in the European regionals to his big break with the WWE, the documentary takes an in-depth look at who Andre was both in and out the ring.  It’s fascinating stuff that ranges from funny to tragic as the life of a 7″ plus giant is laid out in detail.  With witty & fascinating stories from key figures (including Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair) through to interviews with his family and directors that worked with him in his film career, this is a must see documentary for fans of this once in a life time icon.

Best Bit: Early Andre

Buy, Stream, Avoid: Stream

If You Liked this Try: The Princess Bride, Beyond The Mat, Wrestling With Shadows

 

 

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Blog:  Gasland Part 2- A Quick Capsule Review

Blog: Gasland Part 2- A Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Whether it’s because I’m less enamoured with the science this time out or that Josh Fox pretentious voice over seriously began to grate by the end of the film but I just wasn’t as blown away by Gasland Part 2 as I was the 2010 original, a film which had me reaching for my dreadlocks, ripped jeans and placards. That said Gasland Part 2 is still an interesting and at times shocking film, but inherently the narrative shown here is just one part a debate with many differing opinions… opinions and views that Fox chooses mostly to ignore or deny.  That hardline bias is ultimately the films undoing as a more balanced film, less black and white, would have given the film something more than did much better before.   Maybe next time…

Best Bit: Flaming water always shocks

Buy, Rent, Stream, Borrow: Rent

If You Liked this Try: Gasland, Blackfish, West of Memphis

 

Author: Phil Hobden

Blog: Rewind This – A Quick Capsule Review

Blog: Rewind This – A Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
VHS was the moment that movies became available to everyone and the business of movies jumped up a gear.  Rewind This is an affectionate look back at those heady days of the dawn of the VHS era, an era which quite frankly changed the world forever.  Looking at the social, economic and personal impact, it’s a fascinating look back both for children of the 80’s and for those retro hounds that wish they were there but weren’t.

Best Bit: VHS!

Buy, Rent, Stream, Borrow: Rent

If You Liked this Try: Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films, Be Kind Rewind, The Hamster Factor and Other Tales of Twelve Monkeys

 

Author: Phil Hobden

Blog: Life Itself – A Quick Capsule Review

Blog: Life Itself – A Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
It’s fair to say that I have a healthy love of documentaries in all shapes and forms.  So to find one as impressive, inspirational and well made as Life Itself is a real treat.  To be fair as a critic whilst I had respect for Ebert I wasn’t a devote or even a follower so knew little about the man, his career and his illnesses. It’s fair to say leaving Life Itself I’m now a 100% Ebert fan, a man who was both a genius writer and an inspirational character that took whatever life gave him and turned it into a positive.

In short: This is a must see whether you know the work of Ebert or not.  One of the best films of the year.

Best Bit: Ebert: simply inspirational

Buy, Rent, Stream, Borrow: Buy

If You Liked this Try: The Act Of Killing, Blackfish, Samsara

 

Author: Phil Hobden

Blog: All Things Film – Life Itself Reviewed

Blog: All Things Film – Life Itself Reviewed

All Things Film Blog Other Cr*p Uncategorized

When I learned about the death of revered and celebrated film critic Roger Ebert in April of 2013, my initial reaction was “that’s very sad, I’ll miss his reviews and his uniquely brilliant writing” and pretty much put it to the back of my brain. On our Filmsploitation podcast End of the Year Show 2013, I named Ebert my Hero of the Year. I meant every word of it.

It wasn’t until the following Friday, when the one or two reviews he’d managed to write under the hefty buckle of practically terminal cancer, that the absence of any fresh text from him did I realise just how much I was going to miss him – or, to put a finer point on the situation, his thoughts and views. Having traversed the Cannes streets a good number of times at the festival each year, I remember seeing him around but never had the gall to approach him. I deeply regret this now. And, now, even though rogerebert.com has now become a shrine and force for new film critics the world over, its his mastery of thought, perception and understanding that I miss a lot.

It would appear to me now having seen “Life Itself” – a mostly autobiographical deeply rich and incisive documentary which teeters on the brink of personal burglary – that I am far from alone. This is a curious revelation; sure, we know how popular he is from his many fans and near half-decade of criticism that he was extremely well liked. He has hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers – testament to the fact that he was one of a very select few who embraced technology – and among the first to exploit – the likes of the CD-ROM-based Cinemania (which is how I came to meet him back in 1996) through to his famous website. He championed all types of cinema. And it is on this first count that I felt a kinship with him; he was the first non filmmaker (for all intents and purposes, anyway) who shared, if not completely smothered, my own obsession for the movies.

On the second count – unavoidably so – was that Ebert was among the most revered and celebrated film criticism. It has not gone unnoticed that I type this into my own critique of a film – and for once, it’s his film. There will be no counter argument from him – because he’s dead.

Director Steve James of 1994’s Hoop Dreams directs “Life Itself” with an intense yet extremely unsubtle flavour; opening with shots of the jaw-less Ebert frantically typing away on his electronic voice box with his wife sat next to him, smiling and keeping spirits alive. This is late 2012, when James has been granted permission by Roger and his wife of twenty plus years, Chaz. He’s both right at, and as far as one can be removed given the circumstances, at death’s door. He’s having saliva sucked out through the enormous cavity from his neck that cancer has chowed down on, but Ebert insists we capture every gargling, unpleasant moment. Once the routine has commenced, he half-smiles, as is his physical wont since the nasty operation, and gives a thumbs up. He hasn’t lost his sense of humour.

I doubt the Roger and Chaz would have been so willing to show this – and many other crucial and acutely private moments – if it were not for Steve James himself. Ebert awarded his magnum opus Hoop Dreams not only the maximum four star ‘two thumbs up’ (and rightly so, in my view) but also named it the best film of the 1990s, ahead of classics such as Fargo and Pulp Fiction, the latter of which I think came second. Ebert loved movies, as he saw them as revealing insights into people’s minds, and offered – for better or worse – an escape from oneself. Anyone reading reviews regularly from a variety of sources will understand this as much as they understand Roger’s (and indeed mine, born from Roger’s stance) insistence that a star rating is at best relative, and that the text really contains the review.

James unfurls the two hour’s worth of material – a collection of rare and unseen footage from personal archives, through to the classic “At the Movies” reviews and the well-worn, yet no less awesome, footage of a cranky, rattling love-hate relationship with Gene Siskel. All of this is woven across numerous talking heads; Scorsese makes an appearance, as does A. O. Scott and a number of other critics who avoid fawning and speak their minds on the man who changed their lives.

To have been a regular, straight forward affair (which in the hands of any other documentary could so easily have been the case) James takes every opportunity, as fresh as his material is, to get right to the heart of Ebert’s impact on the movies and notion that made mainstream criticism so widely available and celebrated. I thought I knew everything there was to know – but “Life Itself” quickly put me right; I, one of his biggest arbiters, knew roughly half.

I didn’t know just how strong Ebert actually was. Cocooned and condemned to a silent, malnourished, cruel and ugly fate; the man fought and fought until the fight just wasn’t worth meeting anymore. Here is a man who, after witnessing his best friend in Gene Siskel go through (he’d elected to keep his terminal brain tumour a secret till the last moments), decided to do the exact opposite; not out of respect to the media or to his fans, but, rather, to his dearly beloved wife and family; Ebert took great exception to Siskel potentially having a hold on his career – and vice versa – and took this final death blow very personally, and very badly. It informed the remainder of his life – and a real character arc begins to unfurl; here’s a man, no siblings, born to a labourer and housewife, who has grown up to be an alcoholic, egotistic, somewhat eccentric, yet deeply honest and near-infallible in nature. He ends up disfigured, extremely learned, and very humbled by the life he has led.

I consider the best documentary ever made to be Kirby Dick’s 1997 masterpiece “Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan: Supermasochist” – anyone who knows me even remotely well would, at some point, have had this documentary mercilessly foisted upon them. Hardly any of those people to this day have ever bothered to watch it. It doesn’t surprise me; it’s about a performance artist who mutilates himself, was probably meta-sexual, spent his days off as a slave to his mistress and coughed up phlegm for Kirby Dick in his final performance video which, eventually, shows him die suddenly (even though he’s twenty-five years past his prognosis) in a hospital bed; alone, cold, frightened. It’s chilling, yet so richly enervating that it defies any work that has come before it. It’s little coincidence that Ebert loved the movie, also.

It’s even smaller a coincidence that I ever saw the film because I had stumbled across Roger Ebert’s review. I seldom agreed with Roger Ebert’s reviews; but to judge any critic’s merit based on your difference of opinion is to entirely miss the point; I enjoyed reading his work.

As Life Itself neared the end, I realised that for the first time in going on for twenty years – finally – another documentary has come along to rival it in a most serious way. There are parallels at work here; both ‘Sick’ and ‘Life Itself’s nucleus concern themselves with a central figure who is articulate, interesting, witty and forced to confront life and then death. Okay, they do it via different art forms – yet nevertheless, this is art. Both are stories with a beginning, middle and – sadly enough – an end. This critic you read is an extremely tough nut to crack – but there are moments in this wonderful film where I was very close to tears. I only wish I – and everyone who I love dearly – are this fortunate to have lived and loved, and be loved, as much as this man.

‘Life Itself’ is a masterpiece by Steve James. It is a masterpiece complete within the space of two years. It is an ultra-confident about an ultra-gifted human being. It has the foresight to adapt and exploit events and allows the viewer into some seriously deep and private material – and it knows just how to reveal it within the confines of its own medium.

“Life Itself” is the film of the year, and the second best documentary I have ever seen

 

Author: Andrew Mackay

Lovelace: A Quick Capsule Review

Lovelace: A Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Lovelace isn’t Boogie Nights. In fact it’s only just a step up from a Hallmark movie of the week, which is a shame because at it’s core is a solid and often brave performance from Amanda Seyfried but she’s let down by a one sided story, flat direction and a sense of always trying to be more than it is. A missed opportunity.

Best Bit: Seyfried is excellant.

Rent, Borrow, Buy, Stream: Stream

If you liked this try: Boogie Nights (8/10); Behind The Candelabra (5/10); Jobs (5/10)

Dirty Wars: A Quick Capsule Review

Dirty Wars: A Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Dirty Wars is an interesting documentary, hobbled by the the “look at me” focus by writer and story teller  Jeremy Scahill. It’s not that he’s bad per say, he just get’s in the way of what is a much more interesting story.  That said at times this film manages to shock and once again highlights that war is never black and white.

Best Bit: Behind The Lines access

Rent, Borrow, Buy, Stream: Stream

If you liked this try: Mea Maxima Culpa (8/10); Blackfish (8/10); How To Make Money Selling Drugs (8/10)