Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Gone Girl (2014)
Detective hat and cape on, Holmes.
Gone Girl  is a drama/mystery/thriller (directed by David Fincher) which follows Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) as the disappearance of his wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike) creates massive national media coverage to decipher whether he's guilty or innocent.
No spoilers. The movie trailer gives nothing away. So rest assured the mystery stays intact as you press play. As the story unfolds and more details are revealed concerning their tumultuous relationship, the more you'll switch from one side to the other. It's in the subtleties at first, then the big reveals. We are first the news audience, knowing only what is shown on the surface. Fincher slowly feeds us behind the scenes knowledge and creates an uncomfortably close for comfort intimacy with the characters.
Great casting. Rosamund Pike gives a highly captivating and haunting performance as the missing wife, Amy Dunne. A performance so solid it has earned her a Golden Globe nomination. Let's hope she wins it, because it would be richly deserved. Tyler Perry (yes, that very one) appears in a minor but visibly valuable role, as Tanner Bolt (Nick Dunne's attorney). Perry provides the comedy relief in what is a tense and disturbing film. Neil Patrick Harris plays Desi Collings, an old boyfriend of Amy, whom is painstakingly pivotal to the morbid goings-on in Gone Girl. Side note: Desi lives in divinely beautiful house.
Impressive original score. Now to tie in the acting, story, directing, is the wonderfully composed score by Atticus Ross and NIN band member Trent Reznor. It is the perfect accompaniment to the morbidly mysterious tale.
It's a heavy watch. No doubt a thick and foreboding cloud of deep thought will linger above your head after the film ends. It stays with you awhile. A shocking, intriguing, morbidly engrossing ride for the whole one hundred and forty nine minutes.
Kill List (2011)
There will be blood, there will be violence and you'll be knocking down doors for answers by the end.
Kill List (2011) shows the events that unfold when a retired hit-man is pressed back out of retirement to financially support his family during a squeeze. Jay (Neil Maskell) is a husband and father of one whom is experiencing some serious marital discord with his wife Shel (MyAnna Buring) due to some serious relationship straining cash flow issues. In a dinner party over at the Jay residence, the stressed couple invite over Jay's former hit-man partner Gal (Michael Smiley) along with current flame Fiona (Emma Fryer). The couple persist to passive aggressively dig at each other until they awkwardly fight in front of mixed company. In a moment alone together, Gal and Jay have a discussion about the old times in a botched job which nevertheless put old Jay in retirement, which leads to Gal putting forth a very lucrative offer on the table. Three assignments equals three kills and a tonne of money. Save your marriage, Jay. Get paid.
Prepare your ears. It'll take some time getting accustomed to the very thick accents on show. It will no doubt frustrate those who are not used to it. The music is unsettling and feels as if it takes precedence over much of the dialogue. Without any warning, the volume of the background music reaches so high, it'll have you scrambling to find the remote control. Each character's seemingly peculiar actions breeds' distrust till you'll start speculating the self-interest of every single wacko on screen. Two words to perfectly explain the feelings brought about by the end of the film: discomfort and distrust. It's all a little mysterious and cold. A hit-mans' motis operandi. No knowledge of anything besides the target and no remorse.
Glaringly similar to A Serbian Film. Luring a family man back out of retirement and into the darkness is both harrowing and intriguing. Did I mention that they both also happen to feature on the Top 200 Most Disturbing Films list?!
Symbology unexplained. You'll probably think to yourself, what any if all of the symbols and metaphors mean. Perhaps you'll need to opt in sifting in forums for answers. That's the type of movie it is.
So, avoid Moscow?
Transsibberian (2008) is a psychological mystery-thriller that tells the tale of two American travelers Roy (Woody Harrelson) and Jessie (Emily Mortimer) on their way from China to Moscow by using the old sturdy means of transportation, the train. They encounter a mysterious couple Abby (Kate Mara) and Carlos (Eduardo Noriega) whom befriend them become entwined in the couple's journey there. Jessie reluctantly develops a growing attraction for Carlos and then boom, her husband goes AWOL.
Destination from hell. Purely from personal opinion, how anybody would willingly want to take a trip like this is mind-boggling. The film does a brilliant job of highlighting the lack of safety afforded to foreign travelers on the train. As the train reaches Moscow, some of the political nuances are discussed to provide overview (in a non-lecturing type of way). This is all done with great restraint, due to its status of not being a documentary and obviously, no one has signed up for one.
Director Brad Anderson does little to highlight it as a go-to travel experience. The word bleak comes to mind when describing the atmosphere of the train ride. So, of course friendliness afforded to this American couple by other train travelers is troublesome and cause for suspicion. The camera pays special attention to the facial expressions of each pertinent character that the audience puts priority on deciphering the motives of this well-traveled couple. Sir Ben Kingsley plays a pivotal role in moving the films narrative during the middle of the film and of course, his screen presence never hurts. The first half brings us more mystery than thriller and vice versa. Everything is where it needs to be, no fat or fluff to eat up some screen time.
The Purge: Anarchy (2014)
Part 2 gives more context. Fascinating sci-fiction that'll keep you entertained
The Purge: Anarchy  delivers the stuff viewers so desperately yearned for from the first installment, to witness the utter destruction and mayhem brought upon by this so called purge. So, we'll have to go without Ethan Hawke this time around (it's a shame). Instead Frank Grillo will play leading man with supporting smart-ass comments coming from Matt Seracen himself, Zach Gilford (Friday Night Lights fame, for transparency).
There's a new rag-tag bunch of unfortunate individuals that somehow get stranded in the middle of the killing fields at the worst possible time, ever. Instead of following a particular family we meet several characters (mother and daughter from the poor side of town, separated white couple and a man on a murderous mission whom decides to take the role of their bodyguard and protector).
In this sequel, you'll find out a lot more about the context. How do people from different class divisions manage with it all and reasoning behind the government's being a-okay with the entire thing (not buying this). Apparently, the day of the purge is an absolute necessity for human beings. Therefore, bad luck to those unlucky enough to get stuck outside. It's not an ideal situation, as anyone with two brain cells can ascertain. But but the unemployment rate is at an all-time low! It's a science fiction so any attempts to delve any deeper into this analysis is futile.
Meaningless violence and poor character development, this movie is for you. In all honesty, it's an enjoyable watch. The acting is by no means strong but the situations the characters get stuck in and the madness that goes on around them is eventful and ensures horror movie fans stay interested. Annoying self-righteous teenager Cali (played by Zoë Soul) is the daughter of the main character. Cali is grating and unlikable, so much in fact that I hoped she'd feel the wrath of this annual cleanse. By the end of the film you probably will too.
The Imitation Game (2014)
Don't mind a tale of friendship and struggle, served with a side of creative license
The Imitation Game  is the quasi-biographical historical thriller on acclaimed mathematician Alan Turing's (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) contribution toward deciphering the German enigma code. Turing is recruited, along with a team of mathematicians to do something statistically improbable in order permit the government to gather intelligence on the Nazis.
Simplified. Fed to us in easily digestible bites. No unnecessary jargon about the technological workings of enigma or an overwrought explanation on the political climate of the time. Just enough detail to sink your teeth into.
Drama and witty banter. It's based in depressing war-times, where members of the public are going hungry and this group will be stuck in a room doing stats. Sounds like a good time, right? Well, the majority of the time it is. Benedict Cumberbatch commits completely to the role as abrasive mathematician with such charm that Turing is likable from the outset and entirely sympathetic. His sharp wit is countered by co-star Keira Knightley, who plays Joan Clarke the caring companion and fellow brain. The rest of them ain't all that bad either.
Not a biography. One must acknowledge that there are major discrepancies between the actual events of Alan Turing's life and the film itself. Spoiler alert. The screenwriter has injected conflicts, relationships and hardships where none ever existed. Why? To deliver satisfying resolutions. For us, the viewing audience. Albeit, the clever tactic pays off and won Graham Moore the Academy Award for Best Writing Adapted Screenplay. The Imitation Game does not attempt to educate you on the realities of Alan Turing. But instead, conveys an essence of who Alan Turing was.
Heavy on the fiction. Heavier on the weird.
Videodrome  is the science-fiction classic (by critically acclaimed director David Cronenberg) which introduces Max Renn, a cable TV executive on the search for the newest frontier of sexually explicit and violence- centered programming. Max Renn (acted by James Woods) is alerted to 'Videodrome', a pirate signal exclusively broadcasting scenes of violence, torture and murder.
Unexpected turn. The setup is a perfect beginning for a captivating mystery thriller. Further into the film, weird imagery pops up thick and fast. Part frightening, part disturbing, part nauseating. From one scene to the next, convoluted and silly sci-fi elements creep in and figuratively consume any semblance of logic. How the hell did we get here?
Deborah Harry. Playing love interest to Max Renn, she sells each line and is mesmerizing in her scenes. Written intriguingly complex for a supporting role. Besides being Nikki Brand, the masochistic psychiatrist and radio host, you never get to find out what her deal is. Videodrome avoids going into depth about anything besides the science-fiction story line.
Remarkably unusual. A male extra wears too much eye shadow. Inanimate objects start to pulsate. James Woods loses the plot. Deb Harry likes it rough. An old woman is peddling porn. So strange in fact, it differentiates itself to the point of becoming unforgettable. The extremely gory special effects (relative to the movie gore in the 80's) just intensifies the weirder elements and oozes a degree of David Lynch.
Horrible Bosses 2 (2014)
It's not for everyone. Avoid it if you're sensitive to the politically incorrect and obscene. If not, go right ahead
Horrible Bosses 2  is the comedy film (directed by Sean Anders) which reintroduces Nick (Jason Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) and Dale (Charlie Day) from the first installment. Sick of working for someone else, they create their own company and invent 'The Shower Buddy' (a new product that cuts shower time in half). When their only investor cancels their order, the comically inept trio secure a large debt and 100,000 units of their own product. To recoup their financial losses, they decide to kidnap the rich investor's son (Chris Pine) and hold him for ransom.
Better than the original. A comedy sequel that's funnier than the former film is a rare thing. HB2 features the first HB characters: Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston and Jamie Foxx in standout expletive laden scenes that will be quotable for quite some time. I had no idea that Chris Pine could be funny.
Right chemistry and timing. At every turn, the trio make such stupid decisions, that one would start to resent these characters that take us along on a cringe inducing trip. But, the dynamic between the main characters with their incessant yammering and likable demeanors makes the trip worth it. HB2 has a script that's both fresh and hilariously obscene, and is delivered by consummate professionals that have chops to deliver the lines.
John Wick (2014)
John Wick, the name that's uttered a billion times. For lovers of action, creative subtitles & Keanu Reeves
John Wick  is the action/thriller (directed by Chad Stahelski) about the aforementioned retired hit man (played by Keanu Reeves) returning back to the underbelly, after a bunch of well-connected punks decide to mess with the wrong guy on the wrong day, steal his car and do something else unmentionable.
Whoa, Keanu. Vengeful returns usually end ugly with blood spilling all over the place. John Wick is no different, with revenge as the cornerstone. The director/s (and/or Lionsgate) knows you want an action (franchise?) film, so there's a crap tonne of action that seems to seamlessly end and begin with gusto.
Cool subtitles. Colorful, unique and enhanced the viewing experience without ruining the momentum of the fight scenes.
Everything is shallow. Who is John Wick besides a mourning expert super assassin with a quench for vengeance? But more importantly, why is Ryan O'Reilly (Dean Winters) from the superb TV show Oz even doing there? I still don't know.
Shallow? Pfft, who cares? It's better this way. You see, bad-guys and assassins like to hang together in their own bars and hotels away from the general population. When Wick goes back into the assassin world leaving the 'real' one behind, this separation of the two worlds permits us to be entirely immersed in John Wicks murderous mission. Better to avoid pesky thoughts of the potential for innocent bystanders.
The Signal (2014)
What could have potentially been great, settles for good enough
The Signal  is an independent science fiction (directed by William Eubank) that introduces three MIT students: Nic (Brenton Thwaites), Jonah (Beau Knapp) and Haley (Olivia Cooke) as they go on a road trip to California. On the way there, Nic and Jonah decide to locate and confront a mysterious hacker which is stalking their (physical) movements online. The trio end up waking up in a foreign place, while Nic gets acquainted with Laurence Fishburne (in a cool looking space suit).
Interesting premise with a clouded script. The Signal generates interest from the outset. The mystery surrounding this unknown hacker and the road trip gives no clues on where this film eventually leads. The premise is meaty enough on its own. Some aspects were crucial, while others completely useless. It's all in the editing. Too much is going on. Plus, occasionally the dialogue sounds unnatural considering the context. Some of the characters exhibited strange and somewhat frightening behavior (see religious church lady).
Unintentional comedy from the OTT. A particular scene (somewhere in the second half of the movie) where Nic and Jonah are yelling about something (not saying what!) is a perfect example of what happens when actors perform without conviction (unconvincing comical delivery).
Nicely timed VFX. It makes up for some of above mentioned missteps. Instead of putting it all out there from the very beginning, The Signal opts for a strategic reveal. The VFX is slowly increased and aides makes each instance surprising and more potent
A disturbing character study on the dangerous qualities of self-interest, determination and moral ambiguity.
Nightcrawler  is the neo-noir crime/drama/thriller that stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Lou Bloom, a petty thief that is drawn to a career in L.A crime journalism. Driven by determination 'to make it' into being a supplier of crime footage for news networks, Lou blurs moral boundaries in order to succeed in his new profession.
Disturbing character motivations. Its thoroughly unnerving yet entirely fascinating to view characters put success and self-interest above all others. This is a tall-order to achieve in cinema, as they can appear as villainous subjects from a separate reality altogether. Morning news director, Nina Romina (Rene Russo) plays a complementary role to Gyllenhaal's facade. Nina is absolutely necessary for the narrative, as she is exposed to Lou Bloom's detestable Machiavellian way of viewing the world.
The subtleties of the great direction, score & script. Direction and script is courtesy of Dan Gilroy. It's his directional debut and great one at that. The score is engaging and instrumental to the narrative, and adds to the macabre atmospheric qualities of the script and direction.
Good show, creepy Gyllenhaal. He is terrifying as an eager to learn and grow sociopath. Striving to reach his dreams, we're taken on a journey to see this underdog try to make it in the crazy world of LA crime journalism. But damn, Lou is just so unnerving to watch. Gyllenhaal accomplishes a careful balance between trying to act like a sympathetic human being while being completely aloof and insincere. His body movements, line delivery and facial expressions all perfectly portray Lou in his true (character) form: an imposter. It's a shame that he missed getting nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in the 2015 Academy Awards.