OVERVIEW: I felt this film deserved a 7/10:
+a powerhouse performance by Tom Hardy
+an interesting plot and script
+they made an interesting movie that takes place 100% in a car - quite the feat
+a thrilling series of events that are moving and thought provoking
-the location gets a bit old
-some of the script sounds a little to dramatic and lacks genuineness from the supporting cast
My thoughts on the film:
A powerhouse performance from Tom Hardy, cementing him in my mind as an actor to watch. This film is carried by his performance as a man driven by doing the right thing, not matter what it costs him. This film had some moments that I would describe as 'toxic masculinity' -carrying burdens, self sacrificing etc. - all traits that many and most (myself included) would find noble, although the results cause pain for many of those around him. This film had such a genuine performance from the lead.
The other interesting point here was the location and setting of the film - a car. Locke never leaves the car, never sees another human in person for the duration of the film, and there are no cutaways to memories or the like. This movie is purely a one man show, with the rest of the actors calling in (literally). This movie was interesting in its production, and certainly exceedingly unique. Definitely worth a watch if any of the above sounds interesting - I certainly enjoyed my time with it.
OVERVIEW - This film receives a 7/10 in my opinion for the following reasons:
+unique premise and story
+dark unsettling experience
+wonderful romance between the two leads
+gritty, hard hitting dark humour
-the gore effects were poor
-some predictable moments
-some side characters were not well acted
My thoughts are as follows:
This movie follows a class of seniors in high school that are experiencing a traumatic event; some of them spontaneously explode. Terror follows, as the students do not know who is next, and the government scrambles to find a cure. Revolving around all of this is a romance between two of the students, as they all grapple with impending death and moments of joy as they try and continue living there lives in the shadow of random death.
This movie hit me pretty hard. The dark humour is on point, with punchlines literally exploding onto the screen. The romance between the two leads was wonderful and felt heartfelt and real. This film is dark, touching on themes of survival guilt, terror, and teen romance that mirrors events in the real world. I loved many aspects of this film, from the story and script, to the unique premise, this one was an absolute blast, no pun intended. I would like to offer a warning; this movie had some traumatic moments that really effected some of those I watched this with. I enjoy films like this myself, but it is not as quirky as the cover or description may suggest. This was in no way a detraction on the film; quite the contrary in my opinion. Easily recommended from this viewer, as a unique movie that will be enjoyable to those who like oddball films, teen coming of age drama's, and to those who may enjoy a good splash of blood.
OVERVIEW: This film receives a 4/10 from me;
+post apocalyptic and science fiction atmosphere is cool
+some well designed sets
+some moments of fair quality acting
-poor/hard to follow story
-boring film on the whole
-bad acting in many places
-moments of ridiculousness indicating a poorly written script
A description and my thoughts follow:
The Midnight Sky is an interesting film, following a scientist stranded on Earth after nuclear or environmental devastation. He has remained behind due to sickness, and is helping spaceships navigate there way out of Earth - and he awaits the return of long term spaceships that have traveled deep into the solar system, on there way home not knowing what has happened. The movie flips between the scientist and a crew of astronauts making there way home from K-23 - a newly discovered inhabitable moon in orbit around Jupiter.
This movie sounded great, and indeed has some cool atmosphere to it. A post-apocalyptic world ravaged by radiation and deep cold from a nuclear event, and a space drama about a crew returning home with no communications from Earth. The atmosphere, and some of the set quality, is great, and the acting not too bad, although there are moments of drama that falls flat due to poor direction on the actors part. The story itself, while interesting in theory, largely falls apart, and the film feels uninteresting and is difficult to follow with any clarity. I was looking forward to this one, but in the end was disappointed and largely bored by this film.
Five Deadly Venoms is the first film in the unofficial Venoms series of martial arts films, starring a large group of martial artists and performers working mostly in Shaw Brothers pictures. This first film was hugely influential in Kung Fu film history, and is certainly an enjoyable ride. The film opens with an old man training by sitting in a pot full of boiling water. He tells his pupil, a man trained in the five venoms schools - centipede (Fast strikes), snake (powerful, targeted strikes), scorpion (hidden and sudden strikes), toad (immense physical immunity), and lizard (ability to climb walls), to track down the five experts - one in each of these styles. The teacher knows some have turned to evil, but his pupil must team up with the good ones to defeat the others. Also they wear masks that comically impede their ability to be understood. This is to hide each masters identity from the other. In the capital, the venoms are scheming against each other using secret codes, executions, and torture.
This film has some very fun and campy sequences, with excellent martial arts choreography. It's style is certainly a bit Wu Xia in nature - with the styles giving each master incredible powers. The Toad is a particularly interesting character for his ability to withstand great physical pain. This was a very memorable martial arts film, with the story, martial arts action, costumes and acting, setting and feeling fitting well together. This film certainly suffers from the Shaw Brothers "charm" - the same sets used again and again, similar styles to many of their hundreds of other films, and so on. Even so, this film stands above the pack for its quality, charm and enjoyability. Good watch and a classic of its genre, it is certainly worthy of a watch for fans of this genre of films, or those looking for a good martial arts flick to watch.
36 Crazy Fists is Jackie Chan's first choreograpy credit, but the film is heavily advertised as having him in it. It does not - although this is not the films fault, its the advertisers. Regardless, this film is a bit of a snore, with many cliches, cringes, and moments of humour falling through. The film follows the son of a murdered shopkeeper, brutally killed by Manchu gangsters. These gangsters terrorize the town, so the son sets out with two monks to learn kung fu. Nobody will teach him, so he learns from an old drunk sometimes, as well as a Shaolin monk occasionally. He then blunders his way through Kung Fu challenges by cheating, learning on the fly, an so on. He eventually defeats a white haired Manchu gang leader that looks straight out of Clan of the White Lotus.
Well, there isn't much hope here. The transfer of this film (on Prime) looks like it has sat in the sun to long. Grainy, bleached, and quite bad. I am certain some of that is due to shoddy production, but I will avoid criticizing that further. The fight choreography is not bad at all - crediting Jackie Chan's talent - although there are moments of bleh. Even so, the story, acting, plot, cinematography, set design, and tone of the movie are all just awful. The humour falls completely flat. The characters are horrid. They often cheat on competitions. The story was incomprehensible. Oof this was hard to watch. There were some moments of so bad its good glory. Moments of odd incredulity, and wacky nonsense that made me laugh, but more at the film than with it. Easy to avoid this one, its bland, and rather bad through and through. May be some moments of fun for those who enjoy bad films.
Jun-Roh: The Wolf Brigade, is an excellent anime gem. Recommended to me after seeing Ghost in the Shell and Akira, this film certainly holds its own. The movies style is cyberpunk and futuristic, a style I very much enjoyed. The story revolves around a political struggle between three competing factions in a futuristic Tokyo. The Police get along tepidly with a newer militarized faction of heavily armed soldiers called the Capital Police. These two groups compete to tamp down a revolutionary movement using violence to try and achieve their aims. This film is ultimately a political thriller, as factions within these groups compete, scheme and spy for control. We follow one particular member of the Capital Police, placed in training after he refused to shoot a revolutionary, who subsequently blew herself up. This scandal causes a rift in the Capital Police, and one faction begins to scheme with the police forces to take control of the capital. A counter group, called the Wolf Brigade, rails against them. Intrigue between these two groups pits our soldier in the middle, as the two sides seek too use him against the other side to achieve their aims.
This film is gorgeous and well detailed. The scenes here are dark and brooding, and the attention to detail, from the damp sewers, to the bustling city - both futuristic and antiquated in some ways, are stellar. One of my favourite parts of this movie was the intrigue; the spying and planning and subsequent political competition is very interesting. This was, on the whole, a very enjoyable movie with a lot going for it. Some minor detractions, involving the cliched Red Riding Hood allusions and some kinda corny Anime moments. This aside, I really enjoyed this film, and particularly liked the dark tone of the ending, which caught me by surprise. My first viewing is a 7/10, but I will certainly enjoy seeing this film again, and it continues to grow on me in some ways.
Dog Soldiers follows a group of British soldiers on a routine exercise in the moors of Scotland, who run into a deadly pack of werewolves hungry for their flesh. After they save a special forces officer, the enemy becomes less than straightforward.
Dog Soldiers has a well deserved following, and it probably safe to call a cult classic at this point. It is certainly one of the more enjoyable werewolf films made to date. The group of soldiers has a Predator-like quality, all being enjoyable and likeable in their own way. The action can be fun oftentimes, and the horror elements are solid. These ups meet some notable downsides, in my opinion.
The CGI and animation in this film has not aged well, showing the weakness of this medium, in my opinion. I say this often, but practical effects in cinematography are lasting, but the CGI werewolves in this film look quite poor, and this detracts from the film. Characters stare blankly at what is clearly not there, and grainy paws and silly looking werewolves jaunce toward their targets. This movie tries a bit to do the show, don't tell, rule, but there are scenes where the werewolf is fully in view, and looks just awful. Couple this with a somewhat mediocre story (soldiers in the woods has been done before hundreds of times, and there are better examples - Predator, for example) and you get a somewhat fun, somewhat dull viewing experience, in my opinion.
This film is not terrible, and certainly has charm. But the CGI detractions, coupled with an average story, do not in my opinion elevate this film to a favourite of mine, or even a go to. I do not regret watching it, but certainly will not go out of my way to see it twice.
The loudest film I have ever seen; chaos and style
Uncut Gems, directed by the Safdie brothers, and starring Adam Sandler in one of his best roles to date, is quite the film. It follows a Jewish jeweler (Sandler) who is known for serving local gangsters, rappers, basketball players, and other on-the-edge New Yorkers. He is a total shyster, pawning loaned items to bet on basketball, cheating on his wife with one of his staff, and treating many of his employees poorly. Even so, he gets cheated himself, loaning a rare uncut black opal to a basketball star as a good luck charm, while pawning his traded one of a kind championship ring then using the money to bet on a game. Unfortunately, local moneylenders are after him for his debt, and his antics are wearing thin - the violent moneylenders hound him more and more, as his marriage falls apart, and he continues to try and strike rich in a strange fixation on basketball betting.
This film has one major draw, which also makes it rather innovating and interesting; its loudness. This film is chaos, with competing sounds, yelling, ambient noise, and chaotic shots making a cacophony of visual and audio noise that raises one's hackles and induces anxiety. It is a chaotic ride, not wholly unenjoyable, but certainly stylistically charged. The music and some of the scenes in this film, including a wonderful scene where the opal is viewed and turns into a panning shot of time and space, is a huge plus. I also loved the music. Finally, Sandlers acting (as well as the supporting roles) are absolutely fantastic in many ways. This is a well made film indeed; solid direction, and production abound.
However, this is film is notable for being somewhat dull in places - in my opinion. I did not always enjoy this film, even with the innovative chaos that is built in. Some scenes just feel like filler, and this, paired with the anxiety inducing style, make the film difficult to watch not just through style, but do to a lack of events, in my opinion.
This is an excellent film in many ways, and it deserves its reputation, not least as a film that Adam Sandler nailed to a T. I personally loved the stylistic elements coming from the Safdie brothers innovative style as well. Even so, the anxiety of the film, and some of its duller moments, in my opinion overall detract from what I believe was close to being a big hit for me and my filmophile experiences. Still definitely worth a watch even as a film that will certainly be devisvie, and may elevate to cult status one day. This film will have a well deserved base of fanatics, and it deserves it. Not fully my cup of tea, but by no means a regret.
One of the coolest Martial Arts films - One-Armed action galore!!
Return of the One-Armed Swordsman, directed by Cheh Chang, and starring Jimmy Wang Yu as the One-Armed Swordsman, sees the return of the titular hero. Now in retirement and enjoying life as a humble farmer, vowing to never pick up the sword again, Fang is approached by two expert swordsman, inviting him to the mansion of the kings of martial arts, a group of ruthless fighters who seek to kill all rival swordsman and take over all the schools of martial arts.
This is one of the campiest martial arts films I have seen in a while, and by extension one of the most fun. Fang picks up the sword after his wife (played by Chiao Chiao) is kidnapped. He unites the students of the martial arts schools, whose teachers have been kidnapped by the kings as hostages. And this is where the fun comes in. We have a seductress with a a thousand blades, a sword-gun, a tunnel digging master, a rope-blade warrior, a strong man, shield blades, the king of kings - who's balde is unknown, and hundreds of armed adherents. The One Armed Swordsman sets out to best all of these warriors, and free his wife and the masters of the schools, while building a following of young students bent on helping.
This film is wonderful. It has some of the campiest elements of any martial arts film I have yet seen. The different styles of the kings are ridiculously enjoyable, and so strange they elevate to a higher plain. In my opinion, this is a cult masterpiece, with only a few ratings on IMDB at the time of writing. Too bad, as this film is a recognizable jem. Much fun to be had in this one, and highly recommended to anyone looking for a good martial arts flick. The first in this series is worth a watch, but does not approach the quality of this rare "sequel that's better than the first." Give this under seen jem a go, it deserves the reputation.
The One-Armed Swordsmen, directed by Cheh Chang, and starring Jimmy Wang-Yu and Chiao Chiao, follows are hero Fang Kang, a loyal and humble student of a martial arts school, who accidentally loses an arm to bullies and flees the school. Fang is taken in by a lonely farmer - Hsiao Man, who nurses him back to health. The two begin to rely on each other, and fall in love, with Fang vowing to give up martial arts and become a humble farmer. However, and opportunist martial arts school targets Fang's old comrades, using a hook-blade to counter their two swords, killing off more and more of the schools adherents. Fang begins to react when his old comrade, and one of his previous bullies, is kidnapped, and steps in to save his old friends even though they wronged him.
This film is rather fun, with some lovely cinematography, especially the scene where Fang loses his arm - with some brilliant snowy scenery and lighting. The One-Armed Swordsman training and gaining strength, and eventually facing off against the hook-blade, is a wonderful bit of martial arts action. This is a pretty good film in terms of martial arts classics, and is the first in an enjoyable trilogy of films following Fang and his eventual successor.
This film has its downsides, however. Compared to its sequels, it is much less enjoyable and much more conventional. The school on school martial arts film by Cheh Chang and others has been done before - hundreds of times. This film does not elevate itself above the pack, except for the quality of its sequels. It is not a bad film at all, but the action, camp, martial arts, and such are muted in comparison to others. The acting is fine, but not overly memorable. The action is fine, but again, not overly memorable. Again, this film, in my opinion, is fun because of the quality of its sequels and how it sets up Fang's character for the second film. The muted and average aspects of this film do not make it poor, but certainly do not elevate it above the pack. A fine film in many ways, but its sequels are much better.
The Mummy, directed by Stephen Sommers, and starring Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz, is a fun, now almost classic adventure film. This film heavily lays on the Indiana Jones style - with traps, treasure, tomb raiding and a good wallop of humour to go along with it. All of these things make for an overall enjoyable film, all things considered. The film follows Fraser as Rick O'Connell, roguish mercenary for hire, as he works with an expedition from an Egyptian museum. The expedition unleashes an ancient evil, that they then must survive, as a reanimated mummy seeks to achieve invulnerability and control Egypt!
To start, I think this film is quite fun. Suitably hammy performances abound, with both Fraser and Weisz, as well as supporting actor John Hannah, bringing the camp. The premise of this movie is suitably campy - with mummies, ghosts and flesh eating scarabs abounding. Even so, these elements bring a level of enjoyment that is well suited to this type of film. The Mummy has become a good example of a camp film that is still quite a fun experience.
To be sure, this film has its downsides. The CGI and animation have not aged well, showing the weakness of this type of visual presentation. Practical effects would have added some longevity to this film, and potentially brought it forward as a cult classic. There are some particularly eye rolling films that were horrifying to see in the 90's, but have not kept that particular feeling alive, to the detriment of the film. The acting in the film, while campy, can also be a bit cringey, especially from the Mummy itself, and many of the supporting characters. Some more believability, or going the other way, skilled camp, would have added some charm. Some side characters (notably the British pilot) are shallow and add absolutely nothing to the film.
These all detract from what could have been a classic of cult cinema. Big box at its release, this film is none-the-less blowing its way into the background of film history, and while it is still fun, it is certainly not overly memorable. A film I enjoy watching, but with some issues.
Detective Dee: The Four Heavenly Kings (Di Renjie zhi Sidatianwang) is the latest in the Detective Dee series, following a powerful Lord-detective as he works to save the kingdom from foes both external, internal, and metaphysical. This film follows Dee after he has received the Dragon Mace, and the power to exercise judgement over all in the Tang Empire, including the Emperor and his co-ruler, the Empress. However, a threat emerges in the guise of the Wind Cult and the Mystic Cult. These are hardened warriors that helped the first Tang Emperor take power, but were betrayed by him. They seek revenge, and have used their magic illusions to trick the Empress into trying to close down Detective Dee and his Bureau of Investigation.
What follows is a highly stylized Wu Xia film with fair action, fun fantasy, and a competent plot. Much like the other films in this series, Detective Dee continues the trend of quality Wu Xia films in a genre that is often marred by poor or mediocre flicks. I greatly enjoyed the story and feel of this one, with the magic feeling fun, and some goofy moments abound. The action, sound and music are al of good quality, as is the acting and cinematography. On the complaints side, the story can feel weak at times, and the special effects are relatively poor.
That being said, this is a fun film to watch in the Wu Xia genre, and continues the trend of interesting Wu Xia coming out of China. Well worth a watch as a good film 7/10.
Abominable is a cute animated film from the makers of How to Train Your Dragon. It follows a teenage girl, Yi, who is working hard to save up for a trip across China. However, her plans are disrupted by the discovery of a Yeti on her roof. This Yeti has escaped from a powerful corporation, who are desperately trying to track it down. Yi, and two others, including her cousin, and her crush respectively, must try and return this Yeti to its home in the Himalayas, all while the corporation tries to track them down and capture them.
An interesting film for sure, and controversial. This film was a collaborative project between Dreamworks Animation Studios and Pearl Studio - a joint American/Chinese project. This film is controversial because a map in the film shows China's claims over the South China Sea (the Nine Dash Line or Cow's Tongue), leading to the film being banned in some other nations in Southeast Asia. This film has led to a lot of polarizing and politicized reviews on sites and in the press. This is why I viewed the film.
Politics aside, this film was a very competent animated flick, with an interesting setting that may be newer to Western audiences, especially of family films (China). This film had a clear and interesting story, quite good animation, and was fun. Small criticisms from me include the pop music, which is bland, and detracts from the film. Besides the films political controversy, nothing else here pushes boundaries for me. This does not make it a bad film in any sense, but certainly does not elevate this film past good.
This film receives a 7/10 from me. The solid animation, acting and story, the films cuteness and style are all good elements of this film. A fairly mundane if not poor score, and a lack of any innovation, do not elevate this film past the good range (7/10). This film is absolutely worthy of a watch, and certainly is enjoyable to both children and fans of animation.
House (Hausu) is a film directed by Nobuhiko Ôbayashi and stars a variety of young girls as they go on a chaperoned trip to one of the groups Aunt's. This aunt, however, seems to be more than she appears, as the group is slowly torn asunder (sometimes literally) by the house in a variety of ways.
This film is an embodiment of avant-garde when that was still a new thing. This film reminds me a lot of Jean Luc-Godards "The Weekend" in its experimental and non-linear cinematography. This film is wacky, with each shot almost bending ones mind. Film gradients, props, music, effects and so on are bombarding the viewer constantly, and make even the mundane seem incredible. The story here is mundane. A group of students go to a house and are accosted by the possessed abode, as the aunt turns out to be a witch. The creative part here is what happens visually. The characters were fun. Each one is a literal representation of a specific idea or thing. Nicknames like Gorgeous, Fantasy, Kung-Fu and so on abound, with each nickname being a representation of the person in question. These traits come back to bite them (sometimes literally). Piano's chow down on fingers, mattresses attack, mirrors possess, and much more. At one point, a man is turned into a pile of banana's!
This film is wacky in many ways. It possesses a wonderful style, contagious charm, and many fun and interesting elements. It is not pure horror, certainly coming through as a comedy. I had a brilliant time with this film, and look forward to watching this film again soon. What a ride! Highly recommended for those looking for something interesting and weird.
An interesting film, with a few elements lost in the ice
Arctic is directed by Joe Penna, and stars Mads Mikkelsen as the main (and really only) character of the film. His character has been trapped in the Arctic for some time, surviving off fish, melted snow, and maintaining a giant SOS sign in the snow, waiting for rescue. Rescue comes early in the film, but high winds cause the rescue helicopter to crash, with all hand lost, except one woman, who is comatose. Mads' priority shifts from his own survival, to ensuring this woman is able to survive as well, and this causes him to leave his shelter and SOS in search of rescue across the Arctic. He must face the elements. wildlife, and treacherous terrain to try and make it out alive.
This film was interesting in many ways. The scenery is at times gorgeous in its bleakness, one of the real winners here. Mikkelsen's performance is quite good, and as the only character in the film (for the most part), he carries it with skill and tact. Some very interesting shots are present, with a polar bear attack (shown in some trailers) being particularly brilliant. These things come together to make a fairly adept film.
Even so, some detractions exist. The film is shot very flat, almost dull, and this detracts from the gorgeous scenery. This film could (or should) have had another character - the Arctic, in all its treacherous and dangerous glory. However, the dull shooting left this character lacking, and this was a real sore spot for me in this film. The script here seemed muted as well. Dangerous situations arise, but are overcome. Things happen, but I feel like the impact of these events are muted. They just didn't nail down the impact that events had, and sort of skipped from one thing to the next.
These issues persist, and detract from what could have been a fantastic film. Even so, this film possesses enough polish, quality and performance kudos to make it worthy of a watch, and I assume, enjoyable for most. I certainly thought it was quite adequate, and worthy of a viewing.
Gamera vs. Barugon (Daikaijû kettô: Gamera tai Barugon), is the second installment of the Gamera series, and the first in colour. This one sees the return of Gamera, who has escaped his exile to space by luck, and returns to Earth as a protagonist/antagonist. This flying, energy sucking, fire breathing turtle must face a new foe, an ancient giant lizard thing named Barugon, with a tongue that can shoot freezing mist. Gamera pits fire against Barugon's mist and faces its ultimate test yet!!
This film is a bit of camp schlock from 1960's Japan. We start off with a group of intrepid adventurers from Japan, who go to Papua New Guinea to retrieve a massive opal from an ancient cave, sacred and forbidden by locals. The Opal is taken, but turns out to be an egg for Barugon, ancient giant lizard thing! This part of the film felt fun in an exploitative way. The following act is our hero, one of the adventurers, following Barugon through Japan while also seeking revenge against a betrayer.
So to be clear, there is not much special here. These films are mediocre quality Godzilla rip-offs, although they feature all the charm and schlock that such a film would entail. These films are goofy, but the effects were fair for the time, and the story and acting is fine if nothing special. The story is a bit of a mess, much like the first Gamera film. Another issue is the relatively tame manner of the film. The camp is present, but not wonderful, like some of the Showa era Godzilla films. A good Kaiju film needs to either be ridiculous and fun, like Godzilla vs. Megalon, or possess a solid story, like the original Godzilla. The mediocrity in between is where films like this can become muddled.
Criticisms aside, this is still a passable Kaiju film, and worthy of a watch for fans of this genre of film. It has some charm, some camp, and some giant, rubbery monsters awkwardly wacking each other. Can;t really go wrong here.
The Flavour of Green Tea over Rice (Ochazuke no aji) is an Ozu film; a subdued drama analyzing the transformation of Japan post-WWII in small, personal ways. This film follows a childless married couple as they navigate changing traditions, conceptions of marriage, and love. The relationship between the two is strained - the husband is a simple country man who enjoys his country cigarettes, riding in the third class passenger car of trains, and throwing himself into his work with tact and politeness. The wife is a city girl, enjoying spa days, expensive and luxurious decorations, and first class train rides. These two struggle to relate to each other, in a marriage that was set up over a decade ago as an arranged marriage.
The catalyst to this film is when their headstrong niece comes to stay. A product of the new Japan, she is not interested in an arranged marriage, and instead wants to meet someone through dating, and marry for love, not familial status. This is scandalous to both her parents and our married couple. However, the two begin to see each other in a new light, engaging with new ideas, trying new things, and ultimately coming together in a touching and mute scene of culinary exploration and intimacy.
Ozu has a way with scenes. Each scene is meticulously detailed, and dripping with meaning, while maintaining a muted, quite feel. Ozu is, of course, a master of film making of this era, and this film is no different. It poignantly portrays the changing nature of relationships, love and marriage in Japan with subtlety, grace, and beauty. There are many wonderful scenes and shots in this film, and it is an Ozu film worth watching.
Complaints-wise, this film feels much slower then many of Ozu's films, almost to the point of not really moving. This seems to be a stylistic choice that compliments the thesis of the film, but also makes the film a bit distractable at times. Scenes feel like they jump at times, and the chronology of events, while supposed to be clear, is often not, for brief moments.
A wonderful film in many ways that just, barely, lacks the Ozu charm and perfection that is common in films like Tokyo Story, for example. Even so, this is a lovely, sweet and touching film that is easily watchable, and contains many of the charms of Ozu's work. Easy recommendation for fans of Ozu, or fans of quite, small and beautiful stories and dramas.
The Banana Splits Movie is a spiritual adaptation (and at one point literally) of the Five Night's at Freddie's horror video game series. This series has been popular with young kids/teens for a while now, and so a film adaptation was likely. However, the film lost the branding rights, and so altered the title slightly, while keeping the movie the same. In essence, this is a movie about animatronic animals from a TV series who turn evil and set out to kill all around them.
Billed as a horror/comedy, this movie gets very little right from both. Save for some wonderfully campy gore moments, this film lacks any sort of comedy, with jokes and situations falling flat. The horror is largely bland, again save the gore effects, which are often quite fun. A man get a large lollipop shoved down his throat, killing him, for example.
Did I have fun here? Not really. I appreciated the campy elements of the film in some ways, but found myself struggling to pay attention for much of the film. It is shot bland, acting is bland, music is bland, suspense is not there, and the creatures are people in furry costumes - bland. All in all, a safe skip, although it may be worth a watch for big fans of horror, or those who enjoy Five Nights at Freddie's.
The Man with the Iron Fists is a terrible film, and also a blast to watch. This transcends the "good/bad" duality of films that many viewers possess, and in my opinion is so enjoyable because of the many issues with the film. To start, I will lambaste the poor dialogue, wooden acting, and horrid script provided in this film. RZA, star, writer and director, is no Jackie Chan, that is for sure. These issues are a detriment to the quality of the film, and many viewers may be rightfully turned off by the poor quality in the above categories.
I, however, love me a bad movie, and this one fits the bill quite well. As a fan of martial arts films from all eras, this film really captured the sleazy, low quality budget of many kung-fu films from the 70/80's. It seems RZA was emulating this style, and it works well in this case. The blood spurts, and over the top schlock here - with heads and arms lopped off, bronze fighters exploding, and so forth, make for quite the ride of hilarity and ridiculousness that kept me completely engaged. The wooden acting and horrid dialogue add a level of hilarity here that only, in my mind, keeps the engagement going. Its fun to laugh at things sometimes. The action here is of mediocre quality from a Wuxia perspective, with some good stuff, some bad stuff, and some fun stuff.
On the negative side, there are certainly issues here with the script ad direction that make for some moments of absurdity and boredom that are not fun. The pointless and oddly shot T and A portions of this film, with Russell Crowe basically having a horridly shot orgy with some prostitutes, is pointless, kind of gross to watch, and not fun.
This film gets a 6/10 for me. In my mind, this is because it achieves a level of enjoyment from many of its campy and absurd moments. The poor script, acting and direction from its main star borders on hilarity, while the campy schlock of the rest of the films makes for an enjoyable, cult-film like experience. I enjoyed this film, and would recommend it for fans of martial arts films, and those who enjoy a good bad movie.
A difficult film to rate, but interesting nonetheless
Aniara is an interesting science fiction film about a Swedish spaceship transporting colonists to Mars, that is knocked off course ad drifts off into space. The film revolves around a number of characters and how they cope with the vastness and emptiness of space, and the difficulty with facing ones own imminent death.
Aniara is an oddity ,and difficult to fully examine, in my opinion. The film looks quite good, and has a great, science fiction soundtrack. The acting is quite good in many ways, with solid performances all around. Some of the science fiction here is interesting as well, as the film grapples with surviving in space, and all the issues that might entail. However, some of the plot points are quite silly, and the general collapse that the colonists experience feels somewhat forced or odd in certain circumstances. The film has a cerebral aspect to it, which can come across as without substance. Some aspects are interesting, some are mediocre, and some rather tame or silly.
That being said, I still enjoyed my time with this film. As the title states, this is a difficult film to rate, and transcended a like or dislike in my mind. It was certanily interesting to watch, with engaging visuals, solid acting, and an appropriate soundtrack. On the other hand, the directionless feeling of the film, and some of the quirky plot choices are a detraction. This film garners a 6/10 from me, meaning it is overall enjoyable, with a number of aspects that detract from a higher score in my mind.
Romulus and Remus : The First King (Il primo re) is an Italian film shot in the Latin language, featuring the story of Romulus and Remus, the legendary founding brothers of Rome. This movie, although chronicling a legend, sticks more to reality, without the nursing wolves or other fantastical elements of the legend. Instead, this film presents a real, gritty and interesting account of the tale.
I ended up enjoying this film quite a bit. The Latin language in the film is interesting; it is wonderful to hear the language on the big screen, and is almost a surreal experience, as the language is little used in other aspects of the modern world. The action is gritty, with campy blood spurts that border on comical - something I ended up enjoying and that added charm to the film. One of the big pluses for me was the feeling, atmosphere and cinematography of the film. This feels like a world steeped in myth, with individuals struggling with reality, luck and myth and the intersection between these. The portrayal of the vestal virgin and sacred fire of Rome, for example, is interesting. The vestal does not have magic powers, but instead uses cunning, curses and the intimidation of her position to influence and control events. The mist steeped forests, overflowing Tiber River, and interesting atmosphere add to this world, where myths, beliefs and legends feel concrete and real.
On the mediocre side, we have the acting. Relatively fine, but with no special performances. The way the brothers are written feels rushed, and the motivation for one brothers turn to despotic power is never really elaborated on. He just goes quickly from noble to despotic with little motivation. The actors themselves are fine, although some performances feel subdued - a possible side effect of using Latin over Italian in the filming process.
On the poor side, the story feels quite rushed here. There are many positive aspects of this film, but the story itself does not fit the wonderful atmosphere of the rest of the film, much to its detriment.
Overall, a solid 7/10. In my mind, this means the film is of good quality and I enjoyed my time with it. I could easily recommend this film for fans of Roman history, or those looking for a good ancient action drama with some cool apsects to it. Worthy of a watch for sure.
Metropolitan is a charming film about a group of young folk in New York City struggling with concepts of reality, there place in life, and their status and class. This film has all the trappings of a haughty film, but actually comes across as charming and interesting. The young folk gather together nightly at a club house in New York, escorting the girls of the group for the night, and then returning to a friends apartment to drink, smoke and discuss politics, class issues and there own lives. The group slowly drifts apart over time, as people leave for better climbs, friendships stretch and break, and new flames are introduced. The story largely revolves around a growing infatuation between two of the group members, and show cases the awkward tension surrounding their relationship.
This was a film that was quite charming, funny, and tinged with melancholy. The film revolves around declining friendships, showing how easy it is for people who once saw each other daily to suddenly drift away and become strangers. I enjoyed the tone of the film very much, as well as the well acted characters (all new actors at the time) and the direction of the film. All things told, this is a "Wes Anderson-esque" film, with charming upper crust individuals struggling to determine the best way to live, grow and continue ones life.
In a Valley of Violence stars Ethan Hawke as a wandering deserter, Paul, who happens upon the town of Denton. Run by a tough but fair Marshall, and his psychotic son and cronies, the town has seen better days. Paul is just looking to pick up some supplies for his journey to Mexico, but runs afoul of the Marshall's son. He tries his best not to become involved, but soon finds himself gunning for revenge in a town that needs saving.
This was a well made Western heavily stylized after many classic Spaghetti Westerns. It had many campy elements, and presented a lower budget sheen that really nails the Spaghetti Western feel. The acting was competently done, with some moments feeling cheesy and slightly comical, and others offering some heart. The direction was solid, with scenes, close ups, vistas and so on handled with care. The story itself was predictable, but far from bland. The relationship between Paul and his dog, Abbey, was especially well done. All in all, this was a fun and campy Western very much paying homage to the Spaghetti Westerns of the '60's and '70's. It is worthy of a watch for those interested in Western films, and certainly for fans of the more campy Spaghetti films.
Lion is a story that follows a young boy, Saroo, who becomes trapped on a train, and transferred hundreds of kilometres away from his hometown. He does not speak the local language, and struggles to survive in the harsh environment of urban India. Later in life, he begins to remember his past, and tries to discover where he came from, and track down his family.
Lion is a wonderful tale, full of adventure, emotion and loss. The film is well shot, with the gritty city streets of India and the quaint rural villages shot on location, and gorgeously. The film has a deeply emotional feel, as Saroo struggles both to survive as a boy, and later to try and come to terms with his traumatizing experience. It is ultimately a tale of self discovery, and one that is an absolute pleasure to watch.
Arrival, directed by Denis Villeneuve, and starring Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker, is an interesting film about first contact with an alien species. The film follows Linguistics professor Louise Banks, as she works with the US government to determine how to communicate with the aliens.
I'll start off by saying this film is a bit of a slow burner. It takes what is really important in the science fiction genre - the wonder of the unknown, the imagination, and the feeling of inferiority in the face of massive ideals, and really nails them. This is one of the best science fiction films I have seen in many years, and may rival my love for Ridley Scott's Blade Runner. The film has a methodical pace, a cracking ending, and some excellent introspective human elements. Its take on time and space is also very interesting. The film left me frequently at the edge of my seat, as the tension ratcheted up. The movie looks at a plausible scenario for first contact (plausible for the genre, at least). There is very little action in the film, and instead the focus is on learning, adapting and communicating, and follows Louise's character closely through the film, as she struggles with her life, the stress of the job, and a dawning realization of what it means to be a human.
I cannot praise this film enough. It represents hard science fiction at its finest, and is an excellent, terse and concise addition to the genre. It can be easily recommended for fans of science fiction, but those not too into the genre may not feel the same way. Even so, from my perspective, it is a wonderful film, and may in fact become a favourite of mine after a few more watches. A great effort from all involved, and worthy of great attention.