9 items from 2017
Based on a Stephen King novella from the 1980’s The Mist is small-scale paranoia ramped up by small town mentalities. More prevalent now than upon its initial literary release the show establishes stock characters early, drops in an atmospheric sense of unease within five minutes while setting up small town rivalries and broadly written stereotypes.
There is a teacher (Sutherland) put on suspension because of unorthodox methods, her husband (Spector) the local newspaper man who is trying to raise their daughter. Conspiracy theorists living next door and an abundance of testosterone fuelled police, more interested in male posturing than stopping crimes. After a girl has cause to get the local quarterback in trouble the aforementioned ‘Mist’ rolls in with no degree of subtlety causing havoc.
From that point on people quickly lose their minds, are constantly telling each other there is something in The Mist while still going out into it without hesitation. Special effects are sparingly used and effective without seeming unnecessary. Performances across the board are good considering the confines of character these actors have been gifted. Writers for the show have expressed a desire to explore alienation, fear around people with agendas as well as the infiltration of unknown entities that lead to isolationist tactics and segregation.
These are all noble themes to be exploring and so far The Mist has given us economic storytelling, minus needless filler by allowing characters to slowly be introduced. Now trapped in different locations, surrounded by those they have little trust in things will develop further. Distraction techniques familiar to those who have read or watched King before are all present and correct. Wildlife flying in the opposite direction to the threat, older mysterious people with hidden pasts wandering into places of worship and unresolved family issues playing out independently.
These are themes which are familiar in King’s work but are always done well. As Spike only have ten episodes commissioned from The Weinstein Company, things best move along at a pace. So far there has been no wasted time, no needless fluff and after forty minutes we find ourselves in established territory. Segueing into slow burn thriller territory on a television budget The Mist is thematically equipped to explore the present political and social concerns, through its formless force which has swathed Bridgeville in anonymity.
Using a minimal amount of screen time for expositional purposes this adaptation has hit the ground running, coming across as Silent Hill meets Escape from Precinct 13. Hard boiled characters with a liking for firearms and bags of money stashed in tool sheds are present and correct, while our man in the opening five joins the fray keeping evil at bay.
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- Amie Cranswick
John Woo had already made quite a name for himself in China, thanks to hit action classics such as A Better Tomorrow and The Killer. In 1992 he released the film which would see him transition from Hong Kong director, to Hollywood. The film was Hard Boiled a tale of two cops (one deep undercover within a criminal organisation) who come together explosively and join forces to take down a deranged crime lord who has monopolised the criminal underworld.
At this point the action genre was at its pinnacle for pure spectacle. We’d had the 80’s, full of classics such as Die Hard, the Indiana Jones franchise, and then came Terminator 2: Judgement Day (and the aforementioned Woo films). Jackie Chan too was rising to prominence in Hong Kong, known for the intricacy of his ground breaking fight sequences (and »
- Amie Cranswick
We recommend titles that influenced Ben Wheatley and more.
With his sixth feature, Ben Wheatley finally has a wide release in America. Free Fire might be his most accessible movie yet, consisting a single location and pretty much just one long action sequence. It’s basically a 90-minute third act without the first two acts getting in the way. Also it features Oscar winner Brie Larson, and who doesn’t like watching her act?
If you like what you see, then you’ll want to discover Wheatley’s other work, starting with the small crime film Down Terrace, which kicked off his career. I also recommend the following dozen movies, some of which are direct influences on Wheatley, others being similar kinds of films, and then just whatever else I had determined worthy.
The Truce Hurts (1948)
Ben Wheatley loves Tom and Jerry cartoons and has cited them as an influence on his latest movie. I »
- Christopher Campbell
Assorted recommendations inspired by the multifarious sequel.Sorry, Marky Mark, but you’ve already got a car-based franchise.
By the time you’re done watching The Fate of the Furious, you’re likely to have forgotten some of its distinctly differing parts. The sequel begins as one thing then becomes another and another and another, delivering a thrilling mix of action sequences that don’t quite fit together as a fluid and cohesive whole.
I was reminded of a number of dissimilar movies while watching the eighth Fast and the Furious installment, so this week’s list of recommendations could be an even more mixed assortment than usual. But I have no interest in prescribing bad-tasting medicine like The Game Plan in response to Dwayne Johnson’s soccer dad scene. I’m also ignoring Jason Statham’s cheeky insult reminding Johnson and us all of his dumb Hercules movie.
Instead of going with the usual chronological trip »
- Christopher Campbell
When a cop, a wounded crime boss and a doctor are thrown together in the hustle and bustle of an emergency room, a hospital descends from a pristine sanctuary to an explosive battleground. Bullets fly in a when the crime boss’s gang turn up to try and rescue him, and the cop must prevent innocent lives from being caught in the crossfire.
Johnny To’s hospital-set thriller is a Die Hard-esque tale that instantly recalls the John Woo classic Hard Boiled and yet is in no way similar in story and action. Like a number of his films before this, To takes his time building his film – introducing his characters, exploring their motivations etc. – before finally getting »
- Phil Wheat
The Fate Of The Furious, the eighth entry in the infinite (The) Fast And (The) Furious film series, is nominally fun. It has jet packs, snowmobiles, angry bearded Russians, exotic cars swerving around a fissuring sheet of ice, a submarine, and Jason Statham shooting his way through tight quarters while toting a goo-gooing baby à la Hard Boiled—all in the same set piece, as a matter of fact. But the movie (henceforth abbreviated as F8) is in many stretches as listless and pointless as the lesser Pierce Brosnan-era James Bond movies from which it appears to have borrowed its plot. The villain is an allegedly sexy superhacker/cyber terrorist, given the Matrix-y handle of Cipher (Charlize Theron) in what appears to be an admission of screenwriting failure. Thanks to some leverage that is pointlessly withheld for a chunk of the first act, she is able to strong-arm Dominic »
- Ignatiy Vishnevetsky
In the 1970s crime films morphed into sadistic vigilante fantasies about tough-guy heroes avenging terrible crimes against their families. Veteran noir director Phil Karlson directed the bruiser’s bruiser Joe Don Baker in a standard tale of violent vengeance, with the violence factor given an extra bloody boost.
Kl Studio Classics
Cinematography: Jack A. Marta
Film Editor: Harry W. Gerstad
Original Music: Pat Williams
Directed by Phil Karlson
Time for another curiosity review, of a grindhouse gut-basher from the 1970s — a subgenre I avoided when new. »
- Glenn Erickson
Throughout the 1980’s and early 1990’s, Hong Kong cinema produced many films that to this day are considered to be the best action films ever made. Films like Police Story (1985), The Killer (1989), Once Upon a Time in China (1991), Hard Boiled (1992) and Full Contact (1992) are still impressing new audiences to this day and it is no surprise that Hollywood producers began to take notice of the popularity of such films. It was only a matter of time before film makers like John Woo, Tsui Hark and Ringo Lam would be brought to Hollywood and attempt to incorporate their skills into a Hollywood production. Unfortunately a number of these films never lived up to the directors Hong Kong work, with Hollywood studios...
[Read the whole post on screenanarchy.com...] »
Hard Boiled (1992)
A few minutes into Hard Boiled, John Woo’s 1992 masterpiece, two gunrunners attempt to flee from one of those Hong Kong teahouses where people carry birdcages. They’ve been making a deal, but a couple of supercops have shown up to bust them, and they’re just trying to escape. They shoot indiscriminately at a staircase behind them, wounding and killing bystanders. One of the cops in pursuit is Chow Yun-Fat, the De Niro to Woo’s Scorsese. As Chow pushes a woman away from oncoming fire, a bullet shatters the tile near his face. He grimaces and falls backward, but doesn’t give up his pursuit. Instead, he slides down ...
- Tom Breihan
9 items from 2017