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A Ghost Story (2017)
A Ghost Story
I saw the trailer for this film in the cinema, I was definitely intrigued by it, I found out later it was well rated following its release at the Sundance Film Festival, I was willing to try something different, directed by David Lowery (Pete's Dragon). Basically C (Casey Affleck) is a struggling musician living with his wife M (Rooney Mara) in a small suburban house. One night they hear a loud bang come from the piano, but they cannot find the cause of the noise. Some time later, C is killed in a car accident outside their home. At the morgue, C awakens as a ghost, covered by a white sheet with two black holes for eyes, he wanders aimlessly through the hospital, but no one can see him. In the hallway, a doorway with a bright flashing light appears in the wall, C stares at it a few moments, but it disappears, he then leaves the hospital and walks the long journey back to the house. The unseen ghost of C watches M grieve over his death, over days and weeks, while doing so he meets another ghost inside the house opposite, she says that she is waiting for someone, but cannot remember who. One night M returns to the house with a new boyfriend, angered he makes the lights flicker and throws books to the floor. Some time later, M listens to a song that C made when he was alive, she finally decides to move from the house, before leaving she places a small piece of paper inside a crack in the corner of the wall, and painting it over. C's ghost is left alone and begins to pick away the paint from the corner, but he is distracted by a Hispanic single mother Maria (Sonia Acevedo) and her young son Carlos (Carlos Bermudez) and daughter Yasmina (Yasmina Gutierrez) moving into the house, he observes them for many months. Eventually C's ghost makes his presence known, deeply aggravated by boredom and loneliness he flickers the lights and throws plates from the cupboard, frightening the family, they move out from the house. C's ghost observes new occupants throwing a party, he listens to one of the guests, a Prognosticator (Will Oldham), go on a nihilist thesis about humanity's collective efforts, and how no matter what is created and efforts made to try and preserve that legacy, it will all disappear when the world eventually ends and the universe collapses on itself again, the party goers disappear after the lights begin to flicker. After some time, the abandoned house has become derelict, C's ghost continues trying to pick at the corner in the wall, he is almost able to pull out the paper, until a bulldozer levels both his house and the house belonging to the other ghost. The two ghosts stand in the ruins, the other ghost says she doesn't think the person she is waiting for is coming, causing her figure beneath her sheet to vanish, leaving just her sheet. C's ghost watches on as the site his house used to be is becoming a skyscraper, he walks around the construction site until its completion, a futuristic cityscape now stands where his neighbourhood once stood, he walks to and plunges off the edge of the building to the bottom. Upon waking up, C's ghost finds himself in a land of coarse grass and shrubs, there 19th century settlers are setting up camp, he watches the little girl of the family writing on a piece of paper, placing it under a rock. Suddenly the sound of Native Americans are heard in the distance, turning his back, C's ghost finds the settlers have been slaughtered, he gazes as the little girl decomposes and the land and grass begins enveloping her. He waits until he's once again inside his old home, just as an alive C and M are moving in, he watches their entire relationship playing out before him inside the house. One night, C's ghost sits on the piano, creating the loud noise that was heard earlier when C was alive. Eventually C's ghost watches M moves out from the house once again, as the other C (now a ghost) watches her leave from the window, but he goes to the corner and is able to take out the piece of paper, upon opening it and reading what is written, C's figure disappears and leaves his now discarded sheet behind. Also starring Rob Zabrecky as Pioneer Man, Liz Franke as Linda and singer Kesha as Spirit Girl. Affleck before and after putting on the children's Halloween party style costume, and Mara as the grieving wife, give delicate performances, and the direction by Lowery is very simplistic. It has long sequences with little or no movement and complete silence, including the morgue sequence, and Mara just on the floor eating a pie, when there is dialogue it is either philosophical or mundane, the ghosts communicating is silent with subtitles, and there is a soulful music score by Daniel Hart, it is obvious as being an independent, low-budget movie, it is odd and haunting, maybe not to everyone's tastes, but a surprisingly worthwhile supernatural drama. Good!
Atomic Blonde (2017)
I had heard about this movie a couple of months in advance, I found it was an adaptation of a graphic novel (comic book), and I was also attracted by the gorgeous leading actress in the leading role, so I hoped for something awesome, like the trailer made it look. Basically set during the Cold War, on the eve of the collapse of the Berlin Wall, KGB agent Yuri Bakhtin (Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson) has shot and killed MI6 agent James Gasciogne (Sam Hargrave) and stolen the List, a piece of microfilm concealed in a wristwatch containing the names of every active field agent in the Soviet Union. Ten days later, top- level MI6 spy Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) is brought in for interrogation by MI6 executive Eric Gray (Toby Jones) and CIA agent Emmett Kurzfeld (John Goodman) about her mission to Berlin. The day after Gasciogne's death, Lorraine is dispatched to Berlin to recover the List and assassinate double agent Satchel, who betrayed Gasciogne, and has sold intelligence to the Soviets for years. Arriving in Berlin, arms dealer and KGB associate Aleksander Bremovych (Roland Møller) has KGB agents immediately ambush her, but her main contact, agent David Percival (James McAvoy), shows up to help her escape. Lorraine fails to find immediate leads, so searches Gasciogne's apartment and finds a picture of him and Percival, then the West German police ambush her. Lorraine realises Percival is the only one who knew she was going to the apartment, she suspects him of being Satchel, she also encounters naive French operative Delphine Lasalle (Sofia Boutella), who has been following her, she is suspicious of her intentions, but they enter a relationship with each other. Bakhtin intends to sell the List to the highest bidder, Percival is tipped off, kills him and takes the List for himself, he then meets with Bremovych to arrange the transfer of the List to him, which Lasalle photographs. A Stasi officer code named Spyglass (Eddie Marsan) is a defector who stole and memorised the List, Percival offers to escort and his family across the border to West Berlin, Lorraine tries her best efforts to keep Spyglass away from harm, but Percival shoots him and tips off Bremovych's men. Following a chase, shoot out in a building, and attempting to escape in a vehicle, this crashes into the river, Lorraine is unable to save Spyglass from drowning. Lorraine returns to Lasalle's apartment and finds that she has been killed, she is too late to save her, Percival killed her to cover his own tracks. Lorraine discovers the photographs Delphine took that proving Percival to be Satchel, as Percival burns down his safe house and attempts to get away, Lorraine catches up to him, kills him with a bullet to the head, and takes the List. Returning to the MI6 debriefing, Lorraine presents the photographs, as well as audio tapes, painting Percival as a traitor, but she denies knowing the List's whereabouts, the agency is forced to declare the case closed. Three days later, Lorraine meets with Bremovych in Paris, revealing herself to be Satchel, she gives him a fake List, he admits knowing she set him up. Lorraine kills the henchmen, she reveals to Bremovych she had been manipulating events from the very beginning, then she kills him, later in Paris Lorraine meets with Kurzfeld and reveals herself as an American triple agent planted by the CIA, before she returns with him to Langley. Also starring Bill Skarsgård as Merkel and James Faulkner as Chief 'C'. Theron does well with the English accent and being a no-nonsense spy, she is commendable doing the majority of her own stunts as well, there is pretty good support from McAvoy and the other well-known stars as well. It certainly does well with the authenticity of the Berlin Wall time setting, and the style does look like something from a comic book, including a sexy lesbian love scene, it is perhaps more style over substance, but you can't complain about the catchy 80s soundtrack and the exciting and brutal fight and chase sequences, most memorable being the staircase scene supposedly filmed in one shot, all in all it's a worthwhile action spy thriller. Good!
The Boys from Brazil (1978)
The Boys from Brazil
I knew one or two of the big names in the cast of this movie, I didn't have any idea what it was about, but I was intrigued enough to watch it, based on the novel by Ira Levin (Rosemary's Baby, The Stepford Wives), directed by Franklin J. Schaffner (Planet of the Apes, Patton, Papillon). Basically in Paraguay, young aspiring Nazi hunter Barry Kohler (Steve Guttenberg) stumbles upon a secret organisation of Third Reich war criminals, and finds that Dr. Josef Mengele (Golden Globe nominated Gregory Peck), the infamous Auschwitz doctor who performed experiments on Jews during the war, is with them. Kohler calls famed Nazi hunter Ezra Lieberman (Oscar nominated Lord Sir Laurence Olivier), who is ageing and living in Vienna, Austria, he gets annoyed by Kohler's calls. Kohler knows when the next clandestine meeting with Mengele is taking place, and decides to bug, but when he is about to overhear crucial details Mengele discovers the bug. Kohler did overhear that Mengele plans to kill ninety-six men who are sixty-five years old all over the world, including Austria, West Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Kohler calls Lieberman to tell about this information, but before he can say more he is found and killed by Mengele, although frail, Leiberman decides to follow Kohler's leads. Leiberman receives photos sent by Kohler, before his death, they are of the guests that attended the meeting with Mengele, he recognises many of them as Nazis, he decides to also keep an eye out for a rash death of sixty- five year old men. Lieberman gains insight from incarcerated former Nazi guard Frieda Maloney (Uta Hagen), and discovers the truth behind the insane plot, they want to use Professor Bruckner (Bruno Ganz), an expert on cloning, to use a sample of Hitler's DNA, preserved since World War II, to resurrect him and establish the Fourth Reich. Mengele's principal contact, Eduard Seibert (James Mason), tries to get Mengele to have the scheme aborted before Lieberman can expose it to the authorities, Lieberman continues his snooping and discovers that all of the men who are killed have an adopted son who all resemble each other. One of the Hitler clones, Bobby Wheelock (Jeremy Black), lives on a farm with his parents in rural Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Mengele murders his father father (John Dehner), a Doberman dog breeder, and awaits the arrival of Lieberman. Eventually the two men come face to face, young Bobby hears the explanation of the whole situation, knowing that Mengele killed his father, he has the vicious Dobermans attack him until his death, the young man relishes watching him being killed. Lieberman is encouraged American Nazi-hunter David Bennett (John Rubinstein) to expose Mengele's scheme to the world, he asks him to hand over the list that identifies the names and whereabouts of all those born from the experiment, this will be used to kill them before they grow into bloody tyrants. In the end, Lieberman objects on the grounds that they are mere children, and he burns the list before anyone can read it. Also starring Lilli Palmer as Esther Lieberman, Denholm Elliott as Sidney Beynon, Spider-Man's Rosemary Harris as Mrs. Doring, Michael Gough as Mr. Harrington, Walter Gotell as Mundt, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory's Günter Meisner as Farnbach and Fawlty Towers' Prunella Scales as Mrs. Harrington and 'Allo 'Allo's Richard Marner as Doring. Peck makes a convincing departure from his good guy roles as the sinister Nazi doctor masterminding the Hitler resurrection plot, Olivier putting on an accent is terrific, and Mason does well in the short time he has on screen. It perhaps seems a plausible plot in the age of genetic engineering than it does back then, the globe-trotting action works fairly well, and there is certainly enough violence and intrigue to keep you engaged, a reasonable thriller. It was nominated the Oscar for Best Film Editing and Best Music, Original Score for Jerry Goldsmith. Worth watching!
Deux jours, une nuit (2014)
Two Days, One Night
I mainly found out about this Belgian-French-Italian film because of the leading actress being nominated during awards season, I had no idea what it was about, I was just hoping for something worthwhile, directed by brothers Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne (Rosetta, The Kid with a Bike). Basically in the industrial town of Seraing, near Liège, Belgium, Sandra Bya (Oscar nominated Marion Cotillard) is a young wife and mother to two children, she works for Solwal, a small solar- panel factory. After suffering a nervous breakdown, Sandra has been forced to take time off from her job, on medical leave for depression. During Sandra's absence, shop foreman and her immediate supervisor Jean- Marc (Olivier Gourmet) suggests to the boss, M. Dumont (Batiste Sornin), that her section of the company can function with sixteen people working full time with a bit of overtime. The management proposes a 1,000 bonus to all staff if they agree to make Sandra redundant, near the end of her medical leave she returns to work and discovers that her fate rests in the hands of her sixteen co-workers. Sandra's friend and co-worker Juliette (Catherine Salée) learns a "show of hands" vote was held, the result a 13-3 decision for the bonuses over Sandra's job, Juliette knows Jean-Marc is determined to get rid of Sandra. The vote was influenced by scare mongering through misinformation, but Juliette and Sandra at the end of the Friday working day are to convince Dumont to hold another secret ballot on Monday morning. Sandra needs a majority to keep her job, meaning nine votes, by Saturday morning, Sandra's supportive husband Manu (Fabrizio Rongione) convinces her that over the weekend she should speak to all thirteen of her colleagues who voted for the bonuses to get them to change their minds. They not only need the income from Sandra's job, but Manu believes the job is a symbol for Sandra, to prove her own self worth and for her mental state. Sandra reluctantly goes about this task, visiting and finding her colleagues one by one, most of the co-workers however need the proposed bonus for their own families. Finally it comes to Monday morning, the factory workers have a second ballot, but the vote is tied, with eight votes to keep the bonus and eight for Sandra to leave, as a result, Sandra will lose her position. However, the factory manager calls Sandra into his office, he agrees to give her a job, but in the end, she decides to turn it down, Sandra has found the emotional strength to deal with the situation and the confidence to start anew, to pursue a new life for herself. Also starring Pili Groyne as Estelle, Simon Caudry as Maxime, Alain Eloy as Willy, Myriem Akheddiou as Mireille, Fabienne Sciascia as Nadine and Timur Magomedgadzhiev as Timur. I can see why Cotillard was nominated the Oscar, she gives it her all as the ordinary working-class woman coming out of depression now on the edge trying to keep her job, it is a fairly simple humanistic story, the majority of which is just the leading character knocking on doors and talking to her co-workers about whether they will change their mind or not, but it is interesting enough to keep you hooked until the end, a worthwhile drama. It was nominated the BAFTA for Best Film Not in the English Language. Very good!
Despicable Me 3 (2017)
Despicable Me 3
The first film in the computer animated film franchise was enjoyable, as was its first sequel, and prequel movie Minions was alright, the original trilogy gets completed with this third entry. Basically former super villain Gru (Steve Carell) is now an agent for the Anti- Villain League (AVL), alongside agent and now wife Lucy (Kristen Wiig), they are working together to foil the plans of the next super villain. Balthazar Bratt (South Park's Trey Parker), a former 80s child star turned evil genius, is their latest target, they manage to stop him stealing a very expensive diamond, but they fail to capture him, meaning that Gru and Lucy are fired from AVL by mean director Valerie Da Vinci (Jenny Slate), following the retirement of Silas Ramsbottom (Steve Coogan). Gru and Lucy reluctantly tell the kids, Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier) and Agnes (Nev Scharrel), about losing their jobs, but assure them they will find new ones soon, most of the Minions leave when Gru refuses to return to villainy, as they are bored being the good guys, meanwhile Lucy struggles with the responsibility of being a mother to the children. The next morning, the family is approached by a man named Fritz (also Coogan), a butler, he informs Gru that his father has died, and that he has a twin brother named Dru, Gru doesn't believe a word as his mother Marlena (Julie Andrews) told him his father passed away as a child. Gru confronts his mother, she admits that she and his father divorced, they decided to each take one of the twins, she thinks she got second pick, despite this, Gru is amazed to know he has a twin brother. Gru, Lucy and the girls are flown to the island of Fredonia, they are surprised by the immense wealth of Dru, attributed to a pig farm business, Dru, is a spitting image of Gru, but with flowing blonde hair, while they get to know each other, Lucy takes the girls to explore the island. Meanwhile, the Minions are arrested for trespassing into a movie studio and intruding a singing talent competition set, while Bratt manages to steal the diamond once again, he intends to use it to power a giant robot to get revenge on Hollywood for cancelling his TV show. Dru reveals to Gru their father was a legendary super villain, Dru was constantly dismissed by their father as a disgrace, he longs to continue the family tradition and pull of a great villainous act, but Gru refuses to revert to his old ways. Dru decides to take Gru on a joyride in their father's highly technological car, the siblings start to bond, meanwhile Lucy and the girls are in the middle of a traditional cheese festival, Margo has young boy Niko (Adrian Ciscato) displaying affection for her, while Edith and Agnes learn from a local tavern owner a mythical unicorn lurks in the nearby forest. Gru almost tries to convince Agnes that unicorns are imaginary, but doesn't want to hurt her feelings, the next day Agnes and Edith go to the woods to find the mythical creature, only to find a one- horned goat, Agnes takes it to her heart. Meanwhile the Minions using aggressive tactics have exerted control over the other prisoners at their jail, but their longing for Gru motivates them to plan and execute an escape from the prison. After discovering Bratt has stolen the diamond, Dru convinces Gru to steal it, Gru secretly intends to bring it to the AVL to get his job back, despite many setbacks during their heist, they manage retrieve the diamond, and having heard their plan, Lucy rescues them and they make a narrow escape. Dru is disheartened to find out Gru's true motives, the two argue, Gru insults his brother and decides to leave the mansion, shortly after Bratt reveals himself, disguised as Lucy, he kidnaps the children and once again acquires the diamond. Gru, Lucy and Dru resolve their differences to work together and pursue them, Bratt uses the diamond to power his giant robot and terrorise Hollywood as planned. Lucy rescues the children, while Gru and Dru weaken Bratt's robot with their father's car weapons, Gru is knocked unconscious when the car is destroyed, Bratt threatens to kill him, but Dru destroys the robot's core from inside, Gru recovers and challenges Bratt to a dance fight, this is a distraction to trap Bratt in his own bubblegum and blast him away, later to be arrested. The escaped Minions rendezvous with Gru and destroy the gum already covering the city, Gru and Dru reunite, soon after Gru and Lucy are reinstated in the AVL, Lucy is acknowledged by the children as their mother, Dru steals Gru's ship, accompanied by the Minions, planning to do something dastardly, but Gru and Lucy decide to give him a five minute head start. Also starring Pierre Coffin as Minions, Michael Beattie as TV Show Host and Andy Nyman as Clive the Robot. As before Carell remains really funny with his crazy James Bond style villain accent, playing both the twins, the grouchy one and the charming and cheerful one, Wiig is fine, and Parker is amusing as the villain, the story of a new twin brother could have been hit or miss, thankfully the script, great sight gags and a catchy soundtrack of 80s music from the likes of Michael Jackson, Madonna and a-ha, as before the yellow pill shaped Minions almost steal the show with their cuteness and gobbledygook language, who would've guessed that they would spawn into so much merchandising, you could say they have taken over the world, this is a funny and enjoyable family animated comedy. Very good!
Subarnarekha (The Golden Thread / Golden River)
I found this film listed in the book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, and I read elsewhere that it is considered one of the greatest films in Asian cinema, so I hoped it would be worthwhile, directed by Ritwik Ghatak (The Cloud-Capped Star). Basically set in East Pakistan, after the 1947 partition of India, it tells the story of Hindu refugee Ishwar Chakraborty (Abhi Bhattacharya). He tries to start a new life, with his little sister Sita (Indrani Chakrabarty), they see the abduction of a low-caste woman in a refugee camp, Ishwar takes her little son Abhiram (Sriman Tarun) with him. Ishwar gets a job at a factory in the province, near the river Subarnarekha, when Abhiram (Satindra Bhattacharya) has grown up and completed his studies, he is asked to go the Germany. Abhiram and Sita (Madhabi Mukherjee) have grown up together, they find themselves falling in love, but Ishwar's fear of prejudice emerges, he does not want his sister, a Brahmin, to marry a lower caste boy. Sita gets married to another man, Ishwar is angry and heartbroken when during Sita's wedding she and Abhiram run off and go to Calcutta. Abhiram and Sita live in the slums of Calcutta and try to make ends meet, they have a little son (Sriman Ashok Bhattacharya), one day Abhiram gets a job as a bus driver. But this leads to tragedy when he accidentally hits and kills a little girl, he is lynched by a crowd, and in desperation Sita is forced into thinking about prostitution. Meanwhile, Ishwar is living a sad and lonely life in the province, his old time friend Haraprasad (Bijon Bhattacharya) comes to visit him, and they decide to travel to Calcutta on a binge drinking tour. The two friends end up together completely drunk in a brothel, Ishwar staggers into one of the bedchambers, and he is shocked to be faced with his own sister, he would be her first "client". Sita immediately recognises him and, rather than submit to incest, shockingly slits her own throat, killing herself, Ishwar realises what has happened and breaks down. In the end, Ishwar meets Sita's little son, he is now his closest relative, he brightens up and decides to take the boy home with him. Also starring Bijon Bhattacharya as Haraprasad, Shriman Tarun as Young Abhiram and Gita Dey as Koushalya, Abhiram's mother. I will be completely honest and say that I had really pay attention to subtitles, as the black and white picture often hid the words, with the white, this made it a struggle to understand everything going on, but I just about got the gist, it was a fairly interesting drama. Worth watching!
The Judge (2014)
I assumed this film was a courtroom drama, it certainly has that aspect, but it is more a father-son story, and I mainly wanted to see it because it was part of awards season, directed by David Dobkin (Shanghai Knights, Wedding Crashers, The Change-Up). Basically in Chicago, successful and unethical defence attorney Hank Palmer (Robert Downey Jr.) has been estranged from his family for some time, they live in a small town in Indiana, Hank is also getting divorced, due to his wife's infidelity, this will also lead to a custody battle for his young daughter. He receives a call telling him that his mother has died, he flies to his hometown of Carlinville, there he reunites with his older brother Glen (Vincent D'Onofrio), a tire shop owner, and his younger brother Dale (Jeremy Strong), an autistic aspiring filmmaker. Hank stops by the small county courthouse, he quietly enters to observe a case in progress, the judge is Joseph Palmer (Oscar and Golden Globe nominated Robert Duvall), Hank's father, they are later reunited properly for the first time in years at the funeral, Joseph treats guests with kindness, but is cold towards his son. The next morning, as he is preparing to leave, Hank notices damage to his father's Cadillac Coupe DeVille, Joseph denies knowing how it happened, but Hank believes his father was drinking and driving, they have a heated, and Hank promises never to return. But after boarding the plane, Hank receives a call from his brother that Joseph is being questioned by police regarding a fatal hit and run, the victim is identified as recently released convicted murderer Mark Blackwell (Mark Kiely). Blackwell had previously been sentenced by Joseph after killing a teenager, his blood is found on the car, Joseph is indicted and prosecutor Dwight Dickham (Billy Bob Thornton) is seeking a conviction for first-degree murder, Hank agrees to defend Joseph. Hank learns that his father was undergoing chemotherapy for cancer, this explains Joseph's inability to remember the accident and provides a potential defence, for diminished capacity (impaired mental functions), but Joseph rejects this defence, it could potentially damage his legacy. During the trial Hank and Joseph try to put aside their bitterness for each other, dating back to Hank as a teenager drinking and driving, causing an injury to Glen to put an end to a potential career in professional baseball, Joseph put Hank in a youth detention centre, and Hank left Carlinville after never hearing from his father following this. Hank reconnects with his former sweetheart Samantha Powell (Vera Farmiga), whom he abandoned at a Metallica concert over twenty years ago, he discovers she has a daughter, Carla (Leighton Meester), born nine months after he left, Hank believes he is the father, although it is later revealed to be Glen. During trial, Hank believes he has established enough reasonable doubt to result in an acquittal for his father, but Joseph sabotages the case, saying that although he has no memory the accident, he probably did kill Blackwell intentionally, he says that he was haunted by Blackwell's case, having seen Hank in Blackwell, wanting to help him like a son, he misread Blackwell and came to see Hank as being like him. Joseph is acquitted for murder, but convicted of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to four years in prison, but he is released in seven months on compassionate parole, due to his cancer becoming terminal. In the end, following his release, Hank and Joseph go fishing together, after acknowledging Hank as the best lawyer he knows, Joseph dies peacefully in the boat, having finally made peace with his father, Hank returns to the courtroom Joseph once reigned over, reminiscing on everything. Also starring Dax Shepard as C.P. Kennedy, Leighton Meester as Carla Powell, Ken Howard as Judge Warren, Emma Tremblay as Lauren Palmer, Balthazar Getty as Deputy Hanson, Sarah Lancaster as Lisa Palmer, David Krumholtz as Mike Kattan, Grace Zabriskie as Mrs. Blackwell and Denis O'Hare as Doc Morris. Having his career revived, following his sobriety issues, being in superhero and comedy movies, Downey Jr. almost manages a real world role as the cynical lawyer, and I can see reasons why Duvall was nominated awards, playing a constantly grouchy but troubled father, the other well-known stars, including Thornton, don't get as much to do. This could have been a really engaging courtroom drama, but it is fumbled by a predictable father- son relationship built on initial hatred turning slowly into respect for each other, the sentimental stuff gets a little bit clunky, but it is certainly an interesting enough story, overall an average drama. Worth watching!
Margin Call (2011)
I knew this film was something to do with business, but I did remember seeing a television review for it, I must have forgotten the time during which it is set, so I was certainly hoping it would be interesting, written and directed by J.C. Chandor (All Is Lost, A Most Violent Year). Basically set in 2008, during a 24-hour period, at an unnamed respected a Wall Street investment bank, the financial company is forced into downsizing. Among the key players let go is head of risk management Eric Dale (Stanley Tucci), following his departure junior risk analyst Peter Sullivan (Zachary Quinto) works late into the night to finish Dale's project. Sullivan discovers the company's financial disaster, due to excessive leverage, the company's assets could decrease rapidly and the firm will go bankrupt, what follows will turn from panicking to double-checking and double-dealing. Sullivan and fellow junior analyst Seth Bregman (Penn Badgley) tell their desk head Will Emerson (Paul Bettany) about the situation, he alerts floor head Sam Rogers (Kevin Spacey), they attempt to contact Dale, with no luck. The senior executives include division head Jared Cohen (Simon Baker), chief risk management officer Sarah Robertson (Demi Moore), and finally CEO John Tuld (Jeremy Irons), they will do whatever it takes to lessen the force of intensity in this debacle. A series of meetings occur throughout the night, as the news travels up through the ranks, but whatever decisions are made in terms of staff cuts and all business matters, they will have effects and consequences both morally and financially. Also starring Penn Badgley as Seth Bregman and Mary McDonnell as Mary Rogers. The performances by the all-star cast are all great, and the script is full of lots of technical dialogue I honestly don't understand, I certainly don't understand all the components that lead to the 2008 financial crisis, but this is a good story, making the characters humanised, and it feels claustrophobic, all in all it is a worthwhile drama. It was nominated the Oscar for Best Writing, Original Screenplay. Good!
Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie
Based on the popular epic series of children's books by Dav Pilkey (also producing), I remember flicking through the first novel as a child, so I was really looking forward to seeing this cartoon adaptation. Basically in Piqua, Ohio, George (Kevin Hart) and Harold (Thomas Middleditch) are best friends in the fourth-grade, next-door neighbours and share a naughty sense of humour, which they often express, bringing joy and laughter to Jerome Horwitz Elementary School. The duo frequently prank the mean teachers, especially ill- mannered and fiendishly stern principal, Benjamin "Benny" Krupp (The Hangover's Ed Helms), and also create comic books about Captain Underpants, a superhero who fights crime while wearing only underwear and a cape, they sell their comics to school students through their company Treehouse Comics Inc, from their treehouse. George and Harold's pranking comes to an apparent end after tampering with a toilet invention, the Turbo Toilet 2000, at the extremely boring Invention Convention, the toilet's creator is the school's local snitch, intellectual Melvin Sneedly (Jordan Peele), who shows Krupp footage as evidence of their misbehaviour. Krupp decides as punishment to separate the boys in different classes, annihilating their friendship, to stop this Georhe and Harold route through Krupp's office to find the documents he needs to sign, in doing this they find a number of their confiscated items, including a 3D Hypno Ring George received out of a cereal box. When Krupp catches them and takes them to his office, George points the Hypno Ring at Krupp, he is surprised to discover that it actually works, he and Harold hypnotise Krupp into acting like animals. Finally, seeing that Krupp bears a resemblance to Captain Underpants, without his wig, they command him to become Captain Underpants, the headmaster strips to his underwear and uses the red curtains as a cape, but then he runs away to cause trouble in Piqua. Captain Underpants is a ridiculously enthusiastic, incredibly dimwitted superhero, but he does unintentionally foil a bank robbery, but the duo see the severity of their acts. George and Harold take him back to their treehouse, there they discover that they can turn Captain Underpants back into Krupp by splashing him with water, and can turn him back clicking their fingers. Believing that Krupp will continue with his plan to separate them, they decide to settle with Captain Underpants, but insist he be dressed up as Krupp, Captain Underpants agrees, with the pretence this is his secret identity, his sudden change of personality attracts the attention of and affection of shy and clumsy school lunch lady Edith (Kristen Schaal). Just when George and Harold think their troubles are over, an odd, German- accented scientist named Professor P. (Nick Kroll) visits the school, Captain Underpants (disguised as Krupp) hires him to be a new teacher, the duo are suspicious of him. As it turns out, Professor P. has a dastardly plan to get rid of laughter altogether, due to the fact that that people have made fun of his full name, Professor Pee-Pee Diarrheastein Poopypants, Esq., for years, he recruits Melvin to help him, due to his extreme incapability of having fun or humour. There is a point when Captain Underpants is unintentionally turned back into Krupp, it is raining, meaning that he remains wet, and the duo cannot transform him back clicking their fingers, they are finally separated and taken to separate classrooms, they believe their friendship is over. Soon, Professor Poopypants tries to take over town with a giant giant version of the Turbo Toilet 2000, fuelled by toxic food waste from the school cafeteria, and technology uses the power of Melvin's brain to turn all children into glum, humourless zombies. Krupp is starting to see the error of his mean ways, the duo manage to get back together, knowing that he is their only hope, Krupp becomes Captain Underpants, but having no actual superpowers he is effortlessly defeated trying to stop the villain, he is thrown into the toilet full of toxic waste. George and Harold are captured and turned into zombies, but when Professor Poopypants mentions the planet Uranus, this triggers the memory of the duo meeting and their sense of humour sparking, this breaks the trance and escape, their excessive laughter damages the Turbo Toilet 2000's computer. Upon consuming the mutated food leftovers, Captain Underpants acquires real superpowers, including super strength and flight, he rescues George and Harold, and defeats and shrinks Poopypants, but he does manage to get away flying on the back of a bee, vowing to return. Knowing that they cannot control Captain Underpants, George and Harold destroy the Hypno Ring to turn Krupp back into himself, permanently, they assume he will break them up as planned, but Krupp has had a change of heart, having read their comics, he finds them very funny, and he feels lonely and lovesick, so the duo set him up on a date with Edith. However, the remaining toxic waste has transformed a number of toilets into vicious monsters, while Edith and Krupp are dining, he snaps his own fingers, he once again becomes Captain Underpants, and carries George and Harold with him to help save the day, Harold exclaims his catchphrase said as the end of every Captain Underpants book (apart from the last), "here we go again!" Also starring Dee Dee Rescher as Ms. Ribble, Brian Posehn as Mr. Rected and director David Soren as Tommy. The actors are well chosen for the voices, the story is wonderfully silly, with good themes about friendship as well, the lead character that is "faster than a stretching waistband" is a hilariously incompetent hero, and it may be short on actual poop, but there are plenty of great slapstick and written jokes based on toilet humour, funniest scene is an orchestra of whoopee cushions, with burps and farts galore, the adults will have just as much fun as the kids watching, a fabulously funny and enjoyable family animated comedy. Very good!
47 Meters Down (2017)
47 Meters Down
The year before I saw this, there was the rather watchable film The Shallows, about a character trapped somewhere with a shark circling, well this looked like a similar concept, so I thought I'd give it a go, directed by Johannes Roberts (F, Storage 24). Basically sisters Lisa (Mandy Moore) and Kate (Claire Holt) are on holiday in Mexico, during which Lisa finds out her boyfriend has dumped her, as she is "boring", Kate tries to cheer her up with a night of drinking. They meet two local men who tell them about cage diving with sharks, Kate thinks that this would be a fun and exciting experience, mentioning her ex's words, Lisa reluctantly agrees. The next day the sisters arrive at the dock, Lisa is still apprehensive, but Kate assures her they will be fine, the two men they met the night before arrive and talk to Captain Taylor (Matthew Modine), only Kate knows how to dive, but she lies that they both have experience. They travel out to the diving spot and Captain Taylor baits the sharks, the locals dive in the cage first, unbeknownst to everyone on the boat, the cable supporting the cage is strained and near breaking point. The men return to the surface unharmed and Captain Taylor prepares to send Lisa and Kate down, in the cage everything seems fine, the girls wearing full-face breathing equipment watch the sharks circling, but then suddenly the cage breaks off the boat, sending them to the sea floor, 47 meters down. They are out of communication range with the boat, Kate manages to get out the cage up to 40 meters to resume communications with Captain Taylor, he tells her Javier (Chris J. Johnson) will be coming down with a spare winch. Captain Taylor advises them to stay in the cage as the sharks are all around them, they were told before going down that panic and sudden breathing would exhaust their air supply, they are running out quickly. They see a light in the distance, thinking it is Javier, Lisa swims out to get him, as Kate's air supply is lower, Lisa swims towards the light, she comes to a crevasse with no bottom in sight. Lisa finds the light, but no Javier, then becomes confused about her distance and location from the cage and Kate, just as Javier appears to rescue her, a shark attacks and kills him, Lisa takes his spear gun and the spare winch, and manages to swim back to the cage. With the newly acquired torch, spear gun and winch, Lisa swims up to notify Taylor to pull them up, but disaster strikes again when, as they are being winched to safety, the replacement line snaps, and the cage descends back to the sea floor, this time the cage lands on Lisa's leg, pinning her down. Lisa and Kate panic as they are now low options and on air, Kate decides to swim up to tell Taylor about their low air and Lisa's predicament, she succeeds and Captain Taylor tells her air tanks are coming down, and the Mexican coast guard has been called. Captain Taylor also warns that the second tank may cause nitrogen narcosis, which can lead to hallucinations, Kate finds the air tanks just as her original tank empties, she also finds three flares for them to signal the coast guard. As she returns to the cage, Kate is attacked and dragged away by a shark, Lisa is still pinned down and running out of air, she uses the spear gun to get the new air tank, just in time, but in the process she also cuts her hand with the spear. Shortly after attaching the tank, she hears Kate communicating with her, she is injured and low on air, and the blood is attracting more sharks, Lisa manages to lift the cage with a buoyancy device, frees her leg and goes to find Kate. After Lisa finds Kate, Captain Taylor tells them the coast guard is still some time out and they need to get back to the cage, Lisa refuses because of Kate's wounds, so they swim for the surface, they use a flare to scare off the sharks. At 20 meters, they are reminded by Taylor they must wait five minutes for their blood levels to acclimate, the flare burns out, Kate drops the second flare, Lisa lights the third to reveal the face of a shark, the sisters are surrounded by them and they must race to the surface. Taylor urges them to drop their gear and make for the surface, they reach the surface near the boat, as they cling to the life ring, a shark bites Lisa's leg, she is able to gouge its eye, causing the shark to release her, Captain Taylor and the other men pull the sisters onto the boat and start to administer first aid. However, as Lisa stares at her hand on the deck of the boat, it is revealed that she has been hallucinating for some time due to the excess nitrogen in her blood from the air tanks, her leg is still trapped, she laughs imagining that she is talking to Kate on the boat deck. But then the coast guard comes to her rescue, they carry Lisa to the surface, without Kate, as they slowly and cautiously bring her up, Lisa comes out of her hallucination, she realises Kate is not with her, she cries out to her sister as she realises she is dead. Also starring Yani Gellman as Louis and Santiago Segura as Benjamin. Moore and Holt as the skimpily clad bathers are reasonable, Modine is only seen a little and mainly voicing, this is treading no new water, it is simple trapped underwater with low air supply and surrounded by hungry predators concept, there is enough claustrophobia and tension to keep you engaged enough, it is predictable, but it's an okay survival horror. Worth watching!