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Prospect (2018)
9/10
One to watch out for
15 October 2019
Every now and then one comes across a movie that sufficiently impresses, that you tell yourself you'll pay attention to anything else the writers or the Director does in the future. Prospect is one such movie. The story is a clever idea, not totally original, but with an almost a Western feel which certainly works, much like Young Ones (2014). Once dressed up with great planetary graphics, great spaceship sets, cool, if hardy, gadgets, a believable planet (though some more cgi would have helped), great camera work, good editing, good lighting, wonderfully chosen soundscape, and well chosen and highly committed actors......well, it's a cool winner. Great mid-budget sci-fi movie.
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7/10
OK 1980s fun teen movie
15 October 2019
Alien slugs is almost a sub-genre. I think it began with Shivers (1975), almost certainly the movie that inspired this one. Shivers was horror, over the top, but horror. Night of the Creeps is a teen comedy horror, meaning its not laugh out loud funny, nor particularly scary, but quite satisfying if you like cringing with disbelief and throwing popcorn at the TV. In 1988 there was a movie called Slugs. A beauty was The Faculty (1998), but perhaps the best was the latest, Slither, in 2006. The TV series Dark Skies (1996), which was similar to the X-Files in that it was a couple verses conspiracy series, may also have featured alien slugs, and is easily the most serious of those mentioned. I'm sure there's more I haven't thought of. What can I say? Night of the Creeps has a very cheesy script, but that's hardly a bad thing, and although the slugs are good, other effects are a little lame. But it gets better as it moves along. I've only just heard of it, which to my mind implies it never got the credit it was due, so please, by all means, enjoy a Night of the Creeps.
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Clownhouse (1989)
9/10
Brilliant example of kids verses horror
13 October 2019
This is a movie in the tradition of Super 8 or ET or Stranger things. It's an almost perfectly composed family horror movie. Good cameras are used throughout and the cinematography and editing are wonderful. There are lots of spooky silhouettes or spooky object closeups, and many scenes where the camera actually becomes the stalker. The script is great fun, with three bickering boys so authentic of childhood, are shown again and again narrowly missing doom, until, as it must, a chilling horror dawns upon them. Each boy rises to the occasion in his own unique way, it's truly magical. I loved the evil clowns as well. I'm wondering if the tv series American Horror Story, which often uses murderous clowns, was not in part inspired by this movie. There are "Oh no" moments throughout and many, many chills. I'm very glad that I came across Clownhouse at my local bargain bin. Well done MGM!
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The Riot Club (2014)
6/10
Workable slam of British class
12 October 2019
British debauchery can be charming, such as Four Weddings (1994) or Brideshead Revisited (1981). That is one part here, the other being a private function where things go wrong, a little like The Loft (2014). Midsummer Murders ran a similar theme with Murder on St Malley's Day (2002). The problem with The Riot Club is the script. It comes across as a little too, well, unintelligent, at least for freshmen to Oxford University, and far too unsophisticated for boys obviously raised by university educated parents, and this aspect is not helped by throwing historical quiz questions into the mix. The actors do their bit with the material. Another issue was that a couple of the boys looked very similar, at least to me, with similar hair styles and colour. It confused me, especially at points where good/bad traits began to emerge. The Riot Club is a good character study, and you will cringe one way or another at the carrying ons. It's a moral debate for sure, and perhaps that's a better cup of tea.
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Dark Star (1974)
3/10
Terrible movie - even as a comedy it's a joke
12 October 2019
I remember 1975. I remember we'd all go to the drive-ins and watch movies that seemed especially for stoners, such as Soylent Green (1973), Zardos (1974) Shivers (1975) or Demon Seed (1977). Here in Australia we obviously missed the release of Dark Star, or otherwise I would have been in serious trouble with my girlfriend for wasting her time. You'd pretty much have to be high to find anything funny about this movie. It's truly terrible. The bottom of the elevator hatch is connected with wing-nuts. The alien is a beach ball with feet. The interior of the ship is obviously wooden. Even for its day the special effects were primitive. The space scenes were obviously a few strung up mini lights. The script is beyond lazy, only the actors are lazier, and unattractive as well. This is a student film, intended to impress 12-year olds of that day. It is not even a serious student film. The concept of a self-aware bomb, however is progressive. Modern sci-fi writer Alistair Reynolds takes the concept to galactic heights in his work. So that idea was excellent and forward thinking. That idea convinced me to give the movie a point. The sound design was also good. That is what earned the 2 extra points from me. I'd wager that this movie is only still available because of John Carpenter. Surely he'd prefer that that not be the case!
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Trespass Against Us (I) (2016)
8/10
Trouble brewing in a British trailer park
11 October 2019
Trespass Against Us begins with a chase, which sets a tone. From there, as a viewer, one expects a few more similar surprises. These happen. It's a very difficult film to describe, at least for me, so at a minimum I can say that there is good exciting action. At its heart it's about a family that accept risk, but suffer from consequences and guilt from that acceptance. It's a serious crime drama about a son questioning his father's authority, and the influence the father is having on the grandson. It's a world away from suburbia, yet existing on the fringe. A comparable movie might be Nil By Mouth (1997), though that was around housing estates, and Trespass Against Us is in the country. Something similar in the country might be Hit and Miss (2012). This is a movie which has desperation, and conflict, a lot of high jinks, and defiance, but in the end is about love.
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The Brood (1979)
8/10
Curiously compelling
11 October 2019
Theoretically this movie should never have worked, and surely someone must be congratulated for making something so memorable. I suspect Oliver Reed and the Director deserve the most praise. I'd imagine several studios said "No way!" before someone finally agreed to fund the piece. I'm starting to get more interested in the late seventies. Two other movies I've seen, Long Weekend (1978) and The Shout (1978), are also extremely brave out there ideas for movies that would have taken courage to make. Kudos to the actors involved, as well as all the professional production teams. I went in fairly blind, and what intrigued me and held my attention was the interplay between psychiatric technique, and straight out gremlin horror. Phew, it worked! I was thoroughly entertained throughout. Making the bizarre entertaining is definitely an art form, or else we wouldn't have so many B-movies. This is an A-movie in my book.
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8/10
Powerful summation of the Vietnam War
11 October 2019
Oliver Stone has a magic touch with this movie. Not only does the winding story, spacing three decades, give a resounding highlight to nearly all the important issues raised by the Vietnam experience, 1952 - 1982, but there is a magician's wand in play in regard to how he helps the viewer bridge the language divide, and it is this key that brilliantly emphasises the spiritual side of the story. There is a magnificent choice of poignant imagery throughout, with dozens of locations. From an overloaded bus full of refugees to a phantasmagoric first experience of a supermarket, hardly a scene is not memorable. All the actors give commanding performances. This is another well-thought out saga, like Platoon (1986), that is unlikely to age.
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Dante 01 (2008)
9/10
French sci-fi gem with brilliant visuals
10 October 2019
OK, the story here is a little out there, but hell, it's a movie. Brilliant casting and great performances lead one to an impression of having seen a greater number of actors after the movie is over. The graphics are awesome. These days there are several good prison sci-fi movies to chose from, such as Alien 3 (1992), The Chronicles of Riddick (2004), and Lockout (2012). Dante 01 has very little in common with any of those, but is certainly a top tier sci-fi prison movie. The prison society is a bit like Alien 3, the planet is a bit like the Riddick's Crematoria, and there is a psychopath or two like Lockout. It's a strange tale, a cross between Stephen King and Philip K.Dick. Never boring, the fast pace and innovative action, as well as the brilliant characterisations, means that it never suffers from prison claustrophobia. This is one of the best French sci-fi movies I've seen to date.
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Road Games (1981)
8/10
Honest gem
9 October 2019
This is a quiet thriller, though I appreciate that that description is contradictory. Yet that's what it is. Without the talents of Stacy Keach, whom is refreshing as a practical man and not really any sort of hero, I doubt this movie would have had any appeal. Keach is constantly pushed to take one extra step after another by both his conscience and by reasoning out aloud, as well as well placed happenstance. It's a unique performance, and very likeable. Other typical road movie Aussie characterisations, as well as quaint location details along the way, ensure that Roadgames is a bit of a 1980s Australian classic. Jamie Lee Curtis is in top form and adds a romantic element. Great script. The cinematography of the Nullarbor is also quite talented. No part is without interest or charm and the pace is easy to watch. The story is well within the bounds of believability, though unnecessary license is taken at times to lay on the cheese. It won't scare your pants off, nor glue you to the edge of your seat, yet there's easily enough tension and unpredictability, well edited and presented, to have you wishing more movies of this type existed.
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7/10
Disturbing
8 October 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Honestly, if you just want a vision of pre-war rural Germany then The White Ribbon is an idyll, very picturesque indeed. Beyond that, I'm not sure what the filmmaker was aiming for. My take was that as a result of the entrenched disciplinarian conceit of an older generation, with perversion as well as cruelty, some sort revenge by a younger vigilante is randomly attached to the most severe and guilty of this isolated community. Or perhaps, presciently perceiving the coming horrors of war, someone thus disturbed has protested with inspired acts of terrible cruelty. The movie is beautifully filmed, and the choice of black and white was inspired in that regard, but, alas, it's slow moving and the story is dark and strange and although a kind of resolution is achieved, I'd venture, for most, it will not be enough. Mind you, as a subtle warning against a type of strict conservatism of the past that we may at times confuse with a cleaner, more innocent time, well, in this regard the filmmaker may certainly have made a brilliant point.
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Long Weekend (1978)
7/10
Odd, spooky and earnest movie of dire reflections
4 October 2019
Let's be straight up about Long Weekend. Despite the references to Nature, and indeed, the spot chosen for a camping holiday does indeed appear to harbour a malicious spirit (manifest in inhabited animals), Long Weekend is at its heart a movie about trying to make a failing marriage work, with all the frustrations to do with mistakes and forgiveness and sharing. The cleverness of the movie is that the malicious Nature detracts sufficiently that we don't actually begin to hate this couple and their indomitable efforts to tolerate each other sufficiently to turn back the clock to happier times. If this wasn't a horror movie then only drama masochists would like this picture. But as a horror movie it is a different picture, and does have a lot going for it. Oddly, Nature, as a warning perhaps, declares war on the couple long before they provoke it. That is a delicious idea for a movie. Long Weekend reminds me of movies such as The Shout (1978), another out there idea movie, or Wake In Fright (1971), a similar study of a downward spiral. All three movies have that brave experimental style of the 1970s, all are a form of unique doom (which is bold even today), and all are high standard productions that manage to age well. For that alone it's well worth a look.
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No Offence (2015– )
9/10
Certainly not a comedy, but fast paced intelligent police drama with heart
4 October 2019
I suppose the reason that comedy comes up as a description of this show is because of the colourful snappy banter and odd embarrassing situations that are employed by the officers here. I'm pretty sure comedy was not the aim, just to be human. And very human it is. I love to be able to compare this show to another, but wracking my brains the closest I could come up with was perhaps Babylon (2014) or Happy Valley (2014), the first for the street cops, the second for the relationships. Cracker (1993) is another Manchester cop show with somewhat similar incident/case room. Marcella (2016) is another great show I should mention, if only for the similar doggedness of the lead detective. In truth the fast paced action, sharp detective work, unusual characterisations and brutally honest dialogue puts No Offence in a category all its own, though to be sure, it won't be long before it becomes inspiration for other shows. If you like TV shows that are about tracking down a serial killer (I've only seen series 1), then you are in for a treat. Not as dark perhaps as The Fall (2013), but every bit as exciting and diabolical.
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Devil's Pass (2013)
8/10
Clear sci-fi vision to unravel a mystery
4 October 2019
If you Google 'found footage movies' Google returns with a whole raft of titles. The Dyatlov Pass Incident is a bit like Cloverfield (2008), in that we follow around a band of increasingly distraught young adults, and although it can't match that movie's vast scale, the horror in Dyatlov is given a genuine creepy shock value. There are some great special effects toward the end, and even an avalanche. If you've ever enjoyed the TV series The River (2012), you should enjoy this movie. Hand held is mixed with more stable footage and this avoids frustration with a constantly shaking image. There's some clever original writing here and the script is much better than most, avoiding bickering as a main device and instead chosing a buildup of genuine friendships, which was refreshing. Casting and acting was good and believable. This is a better than average sci-fi indie.
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Chernobyl (2019)
10/10
Another HBO masterpiece
3 October 2019
Stunning visuals, brilliant characterisations, top cast, insightful script, wonderful edit, gripping timeline. HBO certainly put a lot of effort into details. Chernobyl is as entrancing as it is thought provoking. Must see.
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Red Billabong (2016)
3/10
Tries to be two movies - didn't work
3 October 2019
I'm upset about how bad this movie is. As an Australian I worry for Australian sci-fi. Much like Occupation (2018), that other awful Aussie sci-fi, the cgi and camerawork was good, but the story, and particularly the script, was unnatural and difficult to bear. Red Billabong may have worked if this were about a reunion of two estranged brothers (no unexplained horror). Or, Red Billabong may have worked if this were solely about two brothers, not estranged, battling an unexplained horror. I'm not kidding, the mish mash of two estranged brothers battling each other and an unexplained horror was just plain irritating. The theme may sound familiar, and others may argue that relationship colour alongside adversity is a common and highly popular theme. I'll grant that, but for me, it seemed that the script had been written by a 13 year old with no real experience of what he/she was writing about. I'm not kidding, there are unrealistic stereotypes, sexism, male bitchiness, horrible initial portraits of young women, loads of cliches, potty mouths throughout, and way too many attempted classic lines. It's awful. At a certain point about 50 mins in a young man with a beanie appears and converses casually with one of the brothers. This beanie guy has appeared from nowhere in the forest, and is not seen again, nor was he seen previously in the movie. I actually clicked on all the pics above to try and figure whom the hell he was! Awful and irritating. Please Australian film, please check your work better!
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Mega Python vs. Gatoroid (2011 TV Movie)
6/10
Never a dull moment
2 October 2019
I think 'never a dull moment', would have been the formula for the making of this movie. That, and 'everything done as fast as possible'. Maybe as cheap as possible too. Credit where credit is due though, because there is tonnes of cgi throughout. At least four or five scenes would be worthy of a poster. It's not quality cgi, but it's a fair way above student quality. It's one of those movies where a script is borrowed from other movies, and it is only to tie together the wacko cgi action anyway. It's an art form I guess, and would be entertaining to kids as soon as they can pass the suitable age rating, but not much further once they experience true blockbusters. Mega Python is nothing to compare with, say, Rampage (2018), but does fall into that quirky genre of B-movies where, since the advent of cgi, there has been a renaissance, which is a good thing, and there are better ones and worse ones of course. If I were 18 again I would have watched this with my girlfriend so we could laugh. For these reasons it deserves a 6. As a movie it deserves a 2.
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10/10
Explosive effects, kind story, honest characters, Marvel's marvel
28 September 2019
Some of the effects in this movie reminded me of the most over-blown moments in Inception back in 2010. Years later Doctor Strange offers viewers a movie that is worth seeing for the effects alone. I continue to be impressed by the Marvel Universe.
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Hunger (I) (2009)
7/10
Effective prisoner drama
27 September 2019
The brave and very honest performances of the cast is what allows Hunger to rise above its low budget. It's harrowing rather than frightening, and largely predictable. It might have worked better if less of the drama had been predicated upon one member of the captives being unstable, of tiny morals and given to rage. We see the setup in so many horror flicks, a group of strangers awake to their captivity, and are preyed upon by a sadist to bring out the worst in their characters. Saw and Cube movies are just two of numerous comparisons, but the most notable. Saw and Cube at least gave entries a fighting chance. The setup in Hunger largely discounts that hope, which makes the unusual ending all the more satisfying. There's nothing essentially wrong with Hunger's production, or its pace or its vision. It's a good indie. You just have to decide if spending 90 minutes underground in a man-made hell is your cup of tea.
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Trepalium (2016– )
8/10
Honest and very welcome intellectual sci-fi from SBS
26 September 2019
We are very familiar with rich vs poor in future scenarios from movies such as The Maze Runner series (with actual walls), The Hunger Games series (with big hair for the rich), Snowpiecer (2013) or the brilliant Elysium (2013). One might also remember, to a lesser degree, the two District 13 movies (2004, 2009) and Brick Mansions (2014). Trepalium fits neatly into this kind of dystopian future. One problem with it is it is so self-contained. Conveniently the city's solution to unemployment, the wall, is not international, which makes it all a little inward looking. You notice early on it is very dystopian, as there is no TV from outside of the premier's city centre office, high up in one of the skyscrapers. To me it seemed a little unnatural. People spoke of "The South", but no-one seemed to bring actual news from there. It all seemed a little convenient to a budget. Don't get me wrong, visually Trepalium can be stunning, particularly if looking on the inner side of the wall. The tech has good smarts as well. The entire story is basically powered throughout by intense ambition (the rich), or extreme desperation (the poor). It's a good story with good ideas, but to be honest I thought it was let down a bit by the production. For me it lacked a raw edge to the poor, who didn't seem to be notably skinnier. There were some really good performances however, and most of the characterisations were good and comparable to those in the Hunger Games for example. I'm happy to give it an 8 as it was fast moving, intelligent, original and engaging, but I couldn't help thinking that they got certain castings wrong, and should have equalled the effort they put into the superb vision of the rich with a better, much starker version of the poor.
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Terrordactyl (2016)
7/10
Better B movie, great visuals, good fun
26 September 2019
I think maybe this one is intended for kids, as the language is careful (if inane!), and the impalings, beheadings and shotgun blasts are notably without much splatter, and often cleverly veiled anyway. Even the monster birds seem to have had their sharp edges rounded off and fattened. The terrordactyls in BBC's Walking With Dinosaurs (1999) are way more frightening. As such, this one deserves a 7, as the visuals are terrific, are present throughout, thick and fast. It's not just the flocks of birds or the close encounters, it's the smoke and debris of a much sanitised L.A. as well. Entertaining.
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Suburra (2015)
10/10
Hard hitting and brilliantly filmed
24 September 2019
If you loved Gomorrah, either movie (2008) or TV series (2014), then Suburra does for Rome what Gomorrah did for Naples. Perfectly cast with an array of characters no one could love, an aspect that was oddly compelling - no heroes - and testament to what a great film achievement it is, the story builds drama by amazing degrees through both the shifting storyline as well as the graphic cinematography using good cameras. The production values were high, with much of the action, and artistic flair, set during a thunderstorm. The locations were brilliant, with some great use of lights, and often involved huge crowds, adding immeasurably to authenticity. Loved the gangster outfits. The acts of violence were sharp and intensely shocking indeed, and often came out of the blue. I nearly docked it a point for a sub-plot that seemed to have no point, but other than that this is the most thrilling Italian crime drama I'm yet to see.
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9/10
Sturdy and scenic construction, plenty of shock violence
23 September 2019
What makes this film is not so much the violence, which is well choreographed for impact and brutality, with survivors ending up soaked in blood, or the story, which is a sort of expansion of a desert, mutant Deliverance (1972), the mutants themselves being suitably grotesque, but the carefully chosen killing grounds. The locations were a sort of hostile charm offensive, full of stunning rifts, ridges and craters, as well as a spooky ghost town and a dilapidated service stop. This important aspect made the camera work and editing all the more stark and real, so you can more easily feel the rising heat and sense of despair. The Hills Have Eyes is not really like Last House On The Left (2009), being a separate genre more in common with Wrong Turn (2003), The Descent (2005) or Feast (2005). I'd argue that The Hills is better than all three of those movies, though there is plenty of teenage alarm as in Wrong Turn, and the bad guys are similar. The bad guys are less similar in Descent or Feast, which involve basically a separate species after mutation, although the dropping off of characters one by one in highly dramatic incidents is now run-of-the-mill. Still, this is full-on entertainment with great casting and direction, some totally classic scenes and moments, and, for me, some cool originality. Admittedly I haven't seen the original Wes Craven film. The plot wasn't predictable, and the tension was palatable. Great horror that hasn't aged.
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The Purge (2018– )
9/10
Great addition to the franchise
20 September 2019
I read some of the criticisms about this this new series The Purge. It is not like 24 or Prison Break, it is far more modern, with better character development. Yes it does have flashbacks, but they are only given brief illuminations. I've seen 6 episodes, and it is not true that the plot goes nowhere or the characters are unlikable. Personally I can't wait to see the next episode. In my opinion, in many ways, Purge the tv series is better than the movies, and certainly has as many thrills and splatters. The political dimension and the societal fallout is given a greater breath as well. All up this is intelligent, gripping, modern, and movie quality TV.
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Thirteen at Dinner (1985 TV Movie)
8/10
Charming adaption
20 September 2019
This is a very well designed movie, with appropriate attention to locations and sets, marvellous costumes and an impressive cast, almost all of whom could charm even without the help of Agatha Christie anyway. The plot is diabolical of course, and easily worth the admission just on its own.
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