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True Detective (2014)
A wretched world where terrible men do terrible things and it's unmissable.
Two Louisiana cops, family man Marty and loner Rust are thrown together and faced with unravelling the violent murder of a young woman which bears all the markings of an occult killing.
True Detective will invite you into a deeply unpleasant dark, dangerous and near- dystopian vision of the American South, with cinematography so eerily beautiful and hauntingly desolate that the State of Louisiana is almost like a third character in a similar way to David Lynch's Twin Peaks, whether this character is a protagonist or an antagonist is left intentionally ambiguous.
Gender is an overarching theme, in this world men are powerful yet morally incompetent, indifferent or unaware. Females are strongly depicted as background noise, victims, subordinates, prostitutes, strippers or beleaguered wives. In a memorable scene in an early episode a female sex worker passionately asserts that prostitution empowers the underage girl who works for her in a world that is inescapably misogynistic. In this terrible place, her rationale (even to me) seems perfectly reasonable and logical, because the world presented to the viewer is believable and the characters in it are authentic. Power and the misappropriation of it is also a notable thematic tool threaded through the show with varying degrees of prominence and menace.
Both Woody Harrelson (Marty) and Matthew Mconoughey (Rust) have been blessed with startlingly intelligent and finely written dialogue but what they do to it is something nothing short of mystical. Rust is a complex character indeed by his own admission, nihilistic and accepting that the world he is in is hopeless and that he is a doomed lost- soul, and a flawed and unfixable man. His portrayal of the certainty of Rust's acceptance that he and the world are largely pointless is something that will be remembered for many years to come. The character is not a misanthrope, nothing so simple as that rather he fears human contact and sees no purpose to it to the extent that he's not even comfortable in his own company much less that of others. Rust does not hide any of his flaws he accepts them and wears them like a badge of shame. His partner Marty is likewise complex. By contrast he seems adept at working the social and societal norms expected of him, but he is distinctly sociopathic ultimately morbidly selfish. Marty has convinced himself that because he sees horrific things and that his job is to deal with horrific things that this gives him carte blanche to do anything he needs to do to cope with it. This includes extra marital affairs, and treating both his wife and mistress terribly and at times violently. Strangely although these are two broken men in a broken world neither are unlikable because the relationship between them is what the viewer's focus will relentlessly dwell upon and obsess over.
Who is this series for? Well it's certainly not for everyone, let's be honest not everybody is going to enjoy this. True Detective is not a show which is pitched at the lowest common denominator, it's unapologetically philosophical. The highly educated viewer will understand the academic influences behind Rust's mindset. The less bookish can also appreciate the show as a murder mystery.
Either way this is adult only viewing that is destined to gain a cult rather than a mass following, not just because it deals with horrific events in a disturbing way but also because the nuances of the show are going to be lost on some viewers leaving them baffled and most likely bored. To sum it up if you love your entertainment edgy brave and compelling go for it because TV really doesn't get any better.
Jupiter Ascending (2015)
Beauty and the Beast...in space...with Sean Bean.
Jupiter is a "normal" woman with a sad life full of drudgery and cleaning many toilets when some space- people suddenly abduct her.She finds out she's some sort of space-queen who owns Earth. Who can save her from a family of space- perverts bent on killing all the Earthlings on her planet? only a half dog space- guy on space- skates...um...and Sean Bean.
This could be a pretty okay plot on the face of things, were it not hindered by dialogue so depressingly bad that it's very difficult to see past how embarrassingly miserable it is. Luckily this film is very visually beautiful and clearly technically accomplished. However the beautiful spacescapes and action sequences are erratically punctuated by awkward exposition and an appalling script. Eddie Redmayne delivers a truly halfassed and mediocre performance- setting his space villain up to be a boring antagonist. It also doesn't help that the two leads have absolutely no chemistry between them so the romance aspect of the story sort of fizzles out halfway through for that reason.
There are some interesting themes if you do manage to look beyond the horrible script. The villains are basically intergalactic capitalists sustaining themselves on the backs of the vulnerable. It could be compared to globalisation. Genetics and genetic determinism is also in the mix, but not a great deal of thought is directed into these deeper thematic elements. Nor are they simply presented in an ambiguous or metaphoric way as was the case in The Matrix. These are plot elements which could have been complex and subtle but they're delivered with a blunt instrument then summarily neglected for the rest of the film by the directors which is a real shame.
I'm not sure who this movie is going to entertain, on one hand it's chock full of stuff kids love...cool lizard guys, space ships...space fights...on the other, it's totally inappropriate for kids and the plot and pacing are just wrong for younger audiences. There isn't enough substance for the majority of older viewers, the plot lacks a sense of real threat or menace- performances are not especially engaging although Jupiter herself is likable enough and the film is visually stunning it's not enough to give a movie enough steam to sustain it for 2 hours.
Take your chances, this movie looks nice but in every other way it's butt ugly.
Devil's Due (2014)
Out of a tired horror- genre comes yet another stupid film about an antichrist baby. Nice white middle class catholic people go on holiday, a nasty evil black native takes them to a ritual, 9 months later Satan's little minion pops out. In between a lot of tedious events happen in no particular order and the pace of everything is glacial- this movie could have been condensed into 20 minutes with no trouble at all. The space is filled with more hole than plot and for some reason that nobody can explain everything ever gets filmed by the world's most slappable man. Over the top special effects punctuate the idiocy. Nobody can act and the whole thing is just boring. The most mysterious thing about The Devil's Due is how on earth it got a cinematic release. This is straight to DVD/TV movie stuff, just really!
Fledgling astronaut Dr Ryan Stone (Bullock) ventures to the stars to upgrade the Hubble Telescope, she is accompanied by an experienced team of astronauts including veteran space-jockey Matt Kowalski (Clooney) . Suddenly a freak accident leads to Earth's entire orbit being littered with deadly debris . As events unfold an otherwise everyday mission becomes something quite out of the ordinary, a desperate journey of survival across the vacuum of space.
From the opening moment of Gravity, it becomes abundantly clear that it is an exceptional film. There will be an awful lot said about the technical brilliance of the sound, effects and cinematography of this film because all are quite unfathomable and enthralling. Camera movements are artfully seamless, graceful and sweeping, the viewer is effortlessly transported between the third person view where weightless objects career towards them, seconds later only to find themselves in the first person seeing though Ryan's panicking eyes her hyperventilating breath clouding her visor.
The technical wonder involved here is not what makes Gravity a truly great film however, it is simply a tool that allows the viewer to very quickly and effectively build empathy with the characters, and their plight. Ryan and Matt are likable characters, they are very human, genuine and flawed. They are believable to the extent that any technical mastery involved takes a back seat to the narrative and characterisation. For this is a film with a lot of heart and soul the themes are big, metaphysical and distinctly attached to the concept of what it means to be human.
Gravity is a film made for cinema and 3D, and this is the way it should be seen if you wish to see it at it's best, for no reason more complicated than because it is quite simply beautiful. Because of the themes involved here, Gravity will probably not be suitable for younger children. Anybody else though is sure to take something positive from the experience of watching it and I suggest that you all do just that at your earliest convenience.
Magic Magic (2013)
'Mmmmm Alica germs' *facepalm*
Oddly pretty willowy little doll Alicia (Juno Temple) goes to pay a visit to her cousin Sarah in Chile somewhere. She then ends up lurking about with Sarah's weird sociopathic mates. These consist of a miserable bitch with a face like a smacked ass, Sarah's dopey boyfriend and Brink played by professional gentleman's fluffer/bellend Michael Cera. The director has really done the double here (most irritating actor ever plays the most irritating character ever)
Off they all go to the countryside wearing stupid knitwear, they dump a helpless puppy Brink shoots a parrot AND DOESN'T CARE!. There are some horses mountains a dog humps Alicia's leg which seems to traumatise her irreparably. I honestly thought she was going to grab a rifle scuttle off the to the bathroom and do a Private Pile but that probably would have verged on entertainment and thus, unacceptable. Juno (the only actor of any merit in this film) makes a good fist of it and does her level best with a very cock-eyed script and a cock-eyed cast and a truly dire plot that only a hipster could love.
Absolutely nothing happens, then some more of not very much happens. Brink is probably the most useless sex pest ever to own a penis and seems to have trouble giving even himself a successful rummage much less anybody else. The only thing horrifying about this film is the fact that it's so soul-destroyingly bad. I'm not sure who would enjoy it, probably nobody. Avoid this completely pointless anal wart of a film at all costs.
Brown trousers time!
If the object of a great horror film is to scare, then you can't really do much better than this. Exhibit A, here ladies and gentlemen we have REC. A rather 'lovely' little found footage film from Spain set in an apartment building where a lot of things are about to go horribly wrong. A perky little news anchor-girl and her gang are tasked with following some firemen around for a while, before very long things become very splatty, bloody and unpleasant. The pace of Rec. is breakneck and things rapidly degenerate from 'yuck' to 'I think my eyes have been raped' to 'MOTHER OF GOD WTF IS THAT!!!' Before you have a chance to fully digest one horrible event another arrives to traumatise you a bit more. The cumulative effect of this relentless onslaught of unspeakable nastiness plays with your brain chemistry and the resulting thrills are unashamedly fun!
Rec. is the kind of movie that doesn't rely on cheap tactics like jump scares and spooky music to reel you in, oh no that simply will not do and would be far too vulgar and dull. What it effectively does is open up your head and has a dump in it. This is achieved using an indescribable mixture of mystery, panic, creepiness, disgust and visceral gore.
Known as a modern classic and and respected by every hardcore horror fan REC. is simply the creme de la creme that the found footage sub- genre has to offer, as well as enjoyed by us buffs simply for its sheer visual unpleasantness. Warning, I advise you to approach this film with caution if you are a mainstream kind of normalite film viewer. Watching Rec. with other people may result in you making a total tool of yourself being scared. Of course if you do watch it by yourself you may face an increased risk of an involuntary bowel movement but at least there will be nobody else around to ridicule you for it. Enjoy!
Haneke at his most beautiful and horrifying.
Amour is the story of Anne and Georges, elderly music teachers living in Paris. When Anne suffers a debilitating series of strokes, Georges becomes her carer as her decline perpetuates.
I should explain that from the outset that I have worked as a professional domiciliary carer and situations like that of Georges and Anne are all too familiar to me as is their story. What Michael Haneke has done so well here is two fold. Firstly he has raised an issue that most people choose to ignore until they are forced to confront it by the ill health of a parent if not themselves. Also he illustrates the everyday beauty of devotion. A pigeon flies through an open window, Georges immediately goes to close Anne's bedroom door. As Anne ails George simply continues, he cleans her he tends her personal care even though he is exhausted and broken. Why? Because that is all that can be done in his eyes.
As the film unfolds a portrait of two lives is revealed. As Anne's condition worsens guilt, anger, and frustration are examined. One particularly poignant scene for me features George dismissing a carer who treated Anne roughly and unprofessionally, this touched me very much personally and I hope that people realise that this kind of situation is not by any means rare.
Amour is not an unusual story, personally I have seen it dozens of times myself and been fortunate enough to be involved in the lives of some wonderful people just like Anne and Georges. However for most this film will be an eye opener, and possibly one they would much rather not think about. Michael Haneke never shies away from the unpalatable or taboo and I feel he must really be commended on this film in particular. It is brave, intimate, very very frank and realistic. All of this is bolstered by an absolutely staggering performance by Emmanuelle Riva as Anne which is worth watching this movie for on it's own merit. I have seen my fair share of stroke patients and nursed several long-term and I can honestly say, if I didn't know for a fact that this woman was acting I would not have been able to tell the difference.
Amour is a film which oozes brilliance and true directorial maturity, in this sense it is for cinema lovers, it is impeccably made and scripted. It is a film which perhaps many middle aged people may identify with. It is probably also not a film for the faint-hearted, here you will find hardcore human emotion which again, is nothing unexpected for those who know Haneke. Like Funny Games, Amour is a film that will stay with you for a very long time because it does not just touch on emotions, it plays them like a symphony.
As wonderful, impeccably made and memorable a film as this is- whether you watch Amour more than once is another matter entirely, you really have to see it to understand why.
The Millionaire Matchmaker (2008)
Human dog show
Premise: People who have nothing else to spend their money on pay a botoxed orange bullhorn on legs to secure them human flesh.
Lady pimp Patti and her oddball Disney villain looking sidekicks shriek, belittle and harangue their way through potential clients as much as livestock for the bemusement and horror of daytime TV viewers. Those brave enough to step into the Thunderdome must abide by the rules or face summary verbal rape.
About as ugly an hour of TV as you will ever come across, destined to either become an Internet meme or more likely...be included in the next Grand Theft Auto game to replace America's Next Top Hooker.
Terrifyingly grotesque television which concisely sums up everything that is wrong with the world in one neat package. Watching this will take away a little bit of your humanity, you have been warned.
The World's End (2013)
Let's Boo Boo!
Middle aged small town bad lad Gary King decides to get his old school bros together to complete a legendary 12 pub crawl back in their old stomping ground Newton Haven. The top falls off the mountain and chaos ensues when the boys discover that something dark and sinister is going on in the town. King Gary and his gang must survive the night, battle hostile robots and unravel an alien conspiracy in order to reach the eponymous World's End for a 12th pint in order to complete the epic quest of a lifetime!
Here we have more of what Edgar Wright is bloody great at, namely the snappy, hilarious dialogue that we all know and love just like in Spaced, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. Great characterisation and believable relationships between characters are as ever features to be applauded. If I were to try and explain the story I could only describe it as the bastard lovechild of The Inbetweeners and Invasion of the Bodysnatchers.
For Generation X-ers like myself, there are a troupe characters in this film who are very easily relatable. Anyone in their mid 30's-40's is going to find themselves feeling as though they are in the middle of an inside joke with a bunch of old friends while watching World's End. This nostalgia quotient is enhanced to the max by an unapologetically 90's soundtrack second to none. All of this adds up to a hugely enjoyable and strangely sentimental experience which is very entertaining.
Themes are focused upon friendship, (im)maturity and growing up (or lack thereof!) which gives the film a good range of appeal. Effects are hilariously over the top, fights are plentiful and furious. The second half of the movie is arguably utterly ridiculous. However, Edgar Wright has carefully balanced serious adult themes in order to bring his trilogy to an emotionally satisfying conclusion which should leave fans satisfied.
You'll probably enjoy World's End if you're a Gen- Xer, teenagers are bound to love it as well though as will anybody young at heart. Sci fi and Horror fans are also sure to have fun watching this film as well. Get out there and watch it and prepare to laugh very hard.
The Cloth (2013)
Arrrgh I'm touching cloth...bleeeh
So what is The Cloth all about then?
A faithless and feckless moron is somehow recruited into a sort of weird religious version of the Men in Black created to run around fighting Satan and his nasty little wizards. The plot is basically a mash up of every silly exorcism film ever made, offering absolutely nothing new to an already over-saturated and tired horror sub-genre.
I'm more than partial to a bit of trash, I love Grindhouse and I can appreciate a B movie as much as the next girl can. The Cloth however doesn't even qualify as a decent B-movie it's just boring and shoddily made. It is also hampered by a pretty horrible script and some absolutely cringe-worthy acting. This is actually very sad because I do have a real soft spot for Danny Trajo which is why I decided to watch this film in the first place.
I cannot imagine who on earth would find this film entertaining. It isn't funny and even worse
it's boring. Avoid this unless you really have nothing better to do, like cleaning the oven.