Reviews written by registered user
|10 reviews in total|
Judging from the desired serious tone set by the directors this story
of 7-year-old Maisie being tossed from one selfish parent (Julianne
Moore reprising her role from Boogie Nights) to the other (Steve Coogan
in his recurring jerk role) should have been a heart wrenching
undertaking. It wasn't.
The longer you stick with this film the more far-fetched the plot becomes. Suspending disbelief here would be akin to thinking OJ Simpson was innocent. And even if you do go along with the fairytale storyline there's still the uneven point-of-view approach that seems like it was put together more by a 7-year-old with Legos than a professional filmmaker with big boy toys.
So, why the low rating? 2 reasons:
1. I kept waiting for Steve Coogan to do a Michael Caine impression. Spoiler alert: He never does! 2. Newcomer Joanna Vanderham. Ain't she a peach?
How would you spend your last days on Earth if you knew the world was
going to be destroyed in the morning? That's the premise in Abel
Ferrara's (King of New York, Bad Lieutenant) claustrophobic new movie,
starring Willem Dafoe and newcomer Shanyn Leigh in where the two play a
Manhattan couple coming to terms with their final moments of existence.
Ferrara's choice to shoot the majority of the film in one setting with a minimal amount of takes made me feel as if I were watching a play - not at all a bad thing, especially when the lead actor is Dafoe. This play setting, along with the 'the sky is falling' scenario practically begs for fueled performances to which both Dafoe and Leigh delivered. The actors made the most of their surroundings and turned their emoting skills on high, only occasionally finding themselves being caught in fits of overacting. This is where the movie falters, when the attention pays too much to the acting and not the scenario. Still, the little bursts of over-the- top moments weren't enough to detract me from the movie as a whole.
Fans of both doomsday scenario movies and movies that show close-ups of Willem Dafoe's pubic region should walk away eerily pleased from this one.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'm pretty sure this film is director Larysa Kondracki's pitch to CBS
for yet another generic version of CSI, albeit one with gratuitous and
unnecessary photos of rape victims so as if to seem edgy. Okay, maybe
not CSI, but at least one of those generic crime shows where one or two
good actors surround themselves with cheese-ball script writers, hammy
actors, clichéd musical score cues, rushed plot development that leaves
no time for setting any sort of interesting atmosphere, and most of
It's the film's obvious predictable nature that makes my task of writing a brief plot outline without giving anything away a difficult one. So here it is in a nutshell: Divorced woman married to her job as a police officer takes a job with the UN where she'll be stationed in post-war Bosnia for the sake of peacekeeping. From there generic suspense ensues courtesy of a generic sex trafficking plot, and one do-gooder who must overcome insurmountable made-for-television movie odds.
Other than knowing a brief plot outline of an escaped murderer on the
hunt of his ex-girlfriend, I had no idea what I was getting into when
going to see Adam Wingard's latest, A Horrible Way To Die. Just so
you're aware, as far as plot goes, that is all you have to know before
heading off to see this film. As for an overall visceral pleasing
well, as they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. As
long as the beholder isn't epileptic or easily prone to motion
sickness, that is. Both of which I am not, enabling me to absolutely
love this film.
Constant shots of close-ups and not just on the actors' faces but knuckles, waists and other body parts (get your mind out of the gutter) as well as random objects around them effectively brought me into the characters' personal space with an intimacy most other mainstream films lack. Never is the camera shaky either, it's more of a purposeful fluidity, like imitating the human eye as it occasionally wanders while in conversation with another person. A good example of a film to compare the camera movement to would be Gaspar Noe's Irreversible. I don't me to drone on and on about one technical aspect of the film, but when something even the most casual moviegoers can not ignore is applied in such a non-gimicky way it's praise can not go unnoticed.
So, now that my praise for the way in which the film was shot has gone on the record I'll briefly dive into other elements of the film, mainly acting, plot and score:
Acting - The two stars of the film, Aj Bowen and Amy Seimetz, both turn in a-list performances. Can't wait to see these two make the leap into Hollywood and gain the larger attention that they both deserve. Plot Keeping the story simple and absent of any convoluted sub-plots might be too dull for some to sit through sucks for those people. Personally, I was ready for it to be an hour longer. Score Nothing too extraordinary here, but it works for what it's trying to accomplish. Overall I'd say A Horrible Way To Die is a great way to spend 85 minutes
Have you ever stood completely still in your house and felt the hairs
on the back of your neck stand on end, or felt a sudden burst of
chilled air in an otherwise warm room? Maybe what you are feeling isn't
just a random altering of sensations, but rather a supernatural
occurrence correlating to electronic emissions in power lines in and
around your house.
Now, what would happen if say, you were an expert electrician whose knowledge of all things electrical is equaled only by your passion to resurrect your recently deceased parents by means of something resembling a large home stereo? You don't need a degree in electrical engineering to know that going against nature or bringing back something especially through the use of science you're not supposed to will and can only end badly. Lest we forget the lessons learned in Jurassic Park? Speaking of Spielberg's dinosaurs, it's no spoiler to say that director Matt Osterman's Phasma Ex-Machina doesn't have a T-Rex, a high speed chase, or even Jeff Goldblum for that matter. But what this film does have is an original ghost story script with just enough menacing moments to leave you with an eerie creeped out feeling when all is said and done. It also has a refreshing and more true-to-life (even in the supernatural realm in which it lives) ending seldom seen in bigger budgeted more conventionalized Hollywood type films. It would be interesting to see what this young filmmaker could do if given a bigger budget. I for one am looking forward to seeing what else he has to offer.
How can I explain such a simple yet complex film such as Symbol? It's
not easy, but I'll give it a try.
Symbol see-saws between two stories and is shown in three chapters which are labeled Education, Implementation and Future. There's the story of an out-of-shape Mexican wrestler known as "Escargot Man" as he prepares for a title fight in some tiny dusty little village. And simultaneously, there's the story being told of a Japanese man who awakes to find himself in a large, all white rectangular room with no doors or windows.
Just how are these two stories connected? The answer is an existential journey into the energizing and inventive script of Matsumoto. For those who have seen his first feature Big Man Japan, in where a solitary middle-aged man periodically transforms into a giant to defend Japan from an array of monsters, you might have a little clue as to what you're getting into with Symbol. Let me assure you right now that Symbol is definitely its own monster, and perhaps one that will make both fans and newcomers to Matsumoto's work say WTF.
Perhaps the best film I could compare Symbol to would be Stanley Kubrick's sci-fi masterpiece, 2001: A Space Odyssey. Yes, it's a bold comparison, but an apt one as well. Just substitute Kubrick's towering monolith and epic wormhole sequence for Hitoshi Matsumoto's room full of baby penises and a penis wall climbing ascent into the future and you're basically looking at the same film.
First things first, if you don't like horror films that employ the use
of hand-held cameras (Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity,
Cloverfield etc.) then don't even bother with this one. As matter of
fact, you can stop reading my review right now.
Now, for those of you who are still with me and are looking for the next big handy cam horror film this is not it. That's not to say that Jimmy Tupper is a bad film, quite the contrary. In fact, what makes this film stand out above the others is that I truly believed that the camcorder footage was authentic, whereas in films such as REC:, Cloverfield etc., the application of the hand held is a stylized choice and the actors are pretending not to act.
Jimmy Tupper is effective because I truly believed that the footage at least for the first half of the film was real footage of kids goofing off, partying and of course being mean to their so called "friend" Jimmy Tupper. It's in the second half of the film in where it starts to lose me, not in the stories revelation which I will not spoil for you but in the changing from shaky handy cam to a more stylized digital camera with smoother more professional transitions.
In summation, it's too bad Jimmy Tupper couldn't stick to its guns that it starting shooting with and winds up firing nothing but blanks.
War is hell, right? I mean, you don't have to have fought in battle to
know this. The lasting effect of carnage that which war births can and
does cause permanent damage to one's psyche. Shadow is a film that
gives these post war horrors a face, albeit a sadistic, redneck and
torturous one with gouged-out eye brows and a frog licking tormentor.
The film, directed by an Italian rock star, Federico Zampaglione tells the story of David, a young Iraqi war veteran whose passion for off road cycling leads him to a picturesque mountain range called Shadow. It is there where he can leave the chaos of war far behind and pedal through the countryside. Unfortunately, the countryside is not only lush with greenery but is teeming with meanery as well. Cue in the bullying hunters, a skeletal, frog-licking sadist whose seen one too many Hostel films, some bear traps and a gas chamber and... Well, there goes your relaxing getaway. Oh yeah, I almost forgot to mention the love interest in peril. C'mon, you have to have a love interest in peril, right?
Both written and Directed by Aaron Katz (Dance Party USA, Quiet City)
Cold Weather tells the story of an underachieving forensics graduate,
Doug (Cris Lankenau), who upon moving in with his sister, Gail (Trieste
Kelly Dunn), quickly finds himself thrust into a real life who-done-it
when his ex-girlfriend suddenly vanishes. Being an admittedly big fan
of Sherlock Holmes, Doug, along with his his sister and his new bestie,
Carlos (Raul Castillo), set out to play real life detectives in a case
that just might be a little over their heads.
The film is described as a thriller, which I though I was going to see. To be honest, the film wasn't that thrilling at all, at least when compared to good thrillers. I mean, it's no Polanski. My first impression upon leaving my seat was actually that of disappointment. It wasn't until I was on the bus heading home when it suddenly hit me.
The point of the movie had little to do with the thriller aspects and everything to do with the brother and sister relationship. It's like one of those 3-D puzzles that were popular in the mid-90's. You know, the ones where in order to see the complete picture you had to let your eyes relax, otherwise all you would see would be squiggly lines and repetitive shapes.
Here the squiggly lines were clearly the missing girlfriend subplot masquerading itself as the film's main design. The full picture however, was Aaron Katz's beautiful portrait of one sibling's bond at a particular moment in time.
I recommend this film to anyone who likes to laugh just as much, if not more than they liked to be thrilled, or just simply anyone who has a lot of love their sibling
Bass Ackwards is a film that as of right now seems to be going under
everybody's radar. I found it by chance while researching released
films from this year that I have not yet seen, and man, am I glad I
found it. At times it reminded me of Last year's Wendy and Lucy, but
without the added drama I found came along with that film. Other times
it reminded me of Sean Penn's Into the Wild as the story follows one
man on the road always searching with an open heart.
What this film has however, that both these other excellent films do not is a soul that Hollywood rarely touches upon and an acutely fitted soundtrack reminiscent of Neil Young's score to Dead Man. All these things, plus a foreign language Christopher Walken impression make this little gem of a film shine like a newly unearthed diamond