Posts Tagged ‘movie’

In two hours we want thirty of you dead. If thirty of you are not dead, we will end sixty of your lives ourselves. Five, four, three, two, one.

Year Released : 2016

Director : Greg McLean

Cast : John Gallagher Jr, Tony Goldwyn, John C McGinley, Adria Arjona, Melonie Diaz, Josh Brener, Owain Yeoman, Michael Rooker, Sean Gunn and David Dastmalchian

So one of the things about working at a large cinema is that there is generally always room for smaller films to come in, and I was genuinely delighted when we got “The Belko Experiment”. I had seen the trailer for this several months ago, but I was genuinely surprised that we were showing it.

Those long term readers will know that survival/last man standing films interest me quite a lot due to the psychological aspect to them, especially when the characters are build correctly. For example, I’ve recently been rewatching “Circle” after it got added to Netflix (it’s a rarity that I will rewatch a film that I’ve reviewed on this site, even if I have liked it) and appreciated it more than I did last time as without a main character, you appreciate how they’ve built various characters very well, and even knowing who survived in the end didn’t change that.

But anyway, now that my cinema chain is no longer showing “The Belko Experiment”, I am finally able to talk about this, ad you’ll find out why in a minute.

Plot

As they had into work the employees of Belko are puzzled as to why anyone who is a national of Columbia (where the company is based) is turned away by an unknown security unit. Other than that the day is running relatively normally until a voice comes over the intercom saying that they have to kill two people in the building or suffer consequences. Everyone treats it as a prank until huge metal sheets raise and cover any possible exit. The employees fail to kill two of their own, so the voice fulfils his threat and kills four at random.

Soon after the voice returns and says that if thirty of them aren’t dead within two hours, then sixty of them will die. Realising what a real threat this is, the group starts heading in different moral directions, with a group lead by Barry (Goldwyn) attempting to gain access to the weapons. They eventually split the large group into smaller ones and start executing people in certain groups (such as the over 60s), but that isn’t enough as only 29 are killed, and those that aren’t killed in the subsequent punishment are told that it is now a case of last one standing.

So why did you have to wait to review it?

Now, I know that some of you will know that I have reviewed films in the past that my cinema chain has been showing, but the reason that I was able to talk about those films was because I was about to give them the approved stamp, and a largely positive review, but unfortunately that isn’t going to be the case here. I am not contractually allowed to criticise any film that my chain is showing.

On paper this is my type of film and I have reviewed many similar for this site, such as “Circle”, but the problem with “The Belko Experiment” is that it has far, far too many forgettable characters, and one-dimensional ones at that. I am going to liken it to “Circle” in the sense that as mentioned above, “Circle” doesn’t have a main character, nor does it ever claim to, you are never sure who is going to survive, but unfortunately that isn’t the case. The primary protagonist and antagonist are obvious throughout the entire film. As the rounds go on, there is somewhat of a lack of engagement because you know which two are going to survive right until the end, so in that sense it is disappointing.

However, other than that it’s actually not a bad effort. I do like the moral conundrum and it left me curious how I would react in the situation, and ultimately I found myself leaning towards the logic of Barry and his group. If you don’t kill, you’re going to be killed and you need to get used to the idea. The way that they deal with those who they view as expendable of a no-nonsense approach that you would need to take, so in that sense I can certainly appreciate it on some level.

I also have to single out John C McGinley as Wendell. He is fantastic. Obviously the majority of people will know McGinley from his time on the TV show “Scrubs” and his comedically genius portrayal of Dr Cox, but in this he is menacing and would make an excellent primary antagonist in virtually every other horror film. In an otherwise forgettable cast of characters, he stands out.

To be fair, no-one puts in a bad performance, the problem is that some characters are simply too irrelevant and forgettable. Before writing this review I had completely forgotten the vast majority of the character names, I only saw the film a few weeks ago. That’s not to say that they aren’t enjoyable to watch, such as Sean Gunn’s conspiracy nut Marty, but realistically you know that characters such as him are never ultimately going to survive the story.

It is a shame that it was just too predictable.

Summary

A high level of predictability plagues this film throughout and whilst you’re never bored, the lack of a central character that makes other films more engaging would have been very welcome. Even in the trailer you can tell who the likely character(s) to make it to the end are, and that level of predictability just isn’t enjoyable to watch.

No-one puts in a bad performance, but there certainly isn’t anything about “The Belko Experiment” that stands out as being unique.

I really wanted to love this, but I just couldn’t.

Giving birth to a snake it’s not all about suicide. It’s probably the most wrong headed thing in all of human endeavour

Director : Various Directorslarge_sk9jhohni5u88smk4njkumcm7er

Year Released : 2016

Starring : Too many to list

Another one from my Youtube “films I want to watch” playlist, “Holidays” is not a film that I’m overly that fussed about if I’m being completely honest. In all reality I should have removed it from that list some time ago because it just never excited me.

However, it was still on there and it suddenly popped up on Netflix. I had nothing else to watch and review, so here you go, a review for a film that I didn’t really want to watch.

Plot

The film is divided into several smaller stories.

Valentines Day (Directed by Kevin Kölsch & Dennis Widmyer) – A young girl who is bullied develops a crush on her swimming coach with disastrous results.

St Patrick’s Day (Directed by Gary Shore) – A new pupil arrives in an Irish school and strangely cradles the stomach of her teacher with her head. The teacher soon finds out that she is pregnant with a snake.

Easter (Directed by Nicholas McCarthy) – A woman tells her daughter about the story of Jesus’ resurrection before bed and promises her that Easter will be the same as last year. During the night an egg rolls into the house and out hatches a demonic Easter bunny that makes the daughter a haunting offer.

Mother’s Day (Directed by Sarah Adina Smith) – A woman can’t stop getting pregnant, regardless of how safe she tries to be during sex. She is directed to a specialist clinic in the middle of nowhere that turns out to be a group of witches. They convince her to carry to term, but they seem to have ulterior motives.

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Father’s Day (Directed by Anthony Scott Burns) – When she receives a mysterious tape from her estranged father, Carol is offered the chance to re-establish their relationship. She is guided to a seemingly abandoned building…….seemingly.

Halloween (Directed by Kevin Smith) – A man runs an online sex cam business who arrives back at his base of operations and verbally abuses his workers. He is knocked unconscious when he attempts to rape one of them. He wakes up to find a vibrator superglued into his bottom and hooked up to a car battery, and they intend on making him feel as degraded as he forced them to be.

Christmas (Directed by Scott Stewart) – A man leaves it until the last minute to buy the latest in TV technology before he sees the last purchaser of it collapse and die. He steals the box instead of helping the man and takes it back to his ungrateful wife. His greatest desires soon come to the surface however.

New Years’ Eve (Directed by Adam Egypt Mortimer) – Two lonely people get together on New Year’s Eve and it goes awkwardly, but that doesn’t stop them ending up taking it home, little does she know that he is a serial killer…..but he is in for a surprise when he goes in her bathroom.

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Worth watching or not really worth fussing about, as I thought?

Those of you that have read my reviews for “The ABCs of Death”, both the first and it’s sequel, know that the anthology method of dtelling stories in films is very hit and miss. In some aspects you never know what you’re going to get and for all you know you might only have to sit through a few minutes of a story you hate before one you like comes along, but had I known that this was that method of film-making going in then I probably wouldn’t have watched “Holidays”. It’s not a style I overly been impressed with previously, but I certainly enjoyed it more than the two aforementioned movies.

It’s hard to really talk about them as if they are a normal film so I’m going to talk a bit about each. Before you watch this film, if indeed you choose to do so, it’s worth noting that the films are not linked to each other in any way whatsoever other than them revolving around various holidays.

I’m going to start with my favourite aspect of any of them and that comes from the “Easter” story and something that I on’t reference often, character design. The Easter Bunny in this section is genuinely haunting and creepy in it’s design. It’s so simplistic, but it looks disturbing in so many aspects, especially in that it has a very stigmata style appearance, with a crown of thorns and impaled hands. It’s a simple design, but it works. It was kind of unsettling in a very simplistic sort of way.

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I really enjoyed everything about “Father’s Day”, it builds exceptionally well throughout and you feel curious about what is coming next. The ending does feel somewhat predictable, but that didn’t stop me not feeling anything negative about it when it did happen. It is not complicated storytelling, and the tape-recording style feels relatively fresh. Visually it is also the best of the various sections.

“Halloween” is also fairly tense once they start taking revenge on their “handler” (for lack of better words). It’s feels much more justified than much of the “Saw” franchise that clearly inspired it, and the best part is that you feel like the character deserves everything that is happening to him, although it would have been better seeing him deal with the long term effects of what has happened to him.

I genuinely enjoyed a lot of the sections, although I found “Mother’s Day” and “Christmas” to be boring and just underdeveloped. “Mother’s Day” in particular is a momentum killer for the film as everything I had seen before then had been very interesting.

Overall, “Holidays” was much better than I thought it would be. I think it would have been more enjoyable had there been a link between the films other than the holiday seasons. The only bad thing about the better sections was that you get attached to the characters and then they’re gone.

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Summary

“Holidays” is a generally decent horror film, that despite it having a few poor sections.approved It is certainly a better-rounded film than both of the entries into the “ABCs” franchise.

I’m going to be generous here and give it the approved stamp. I can see why a lot of people on IMDB (current rating of 5.1/10) didn’t like it, and I think that this will divide anyone that watches it, but for me it works for the most part.

Don’t go in expecting to enjoy every single section of the film. There are sections that in retrospect you’d wished you’d simply skipped through, but there are some that you wouldn’t mind seeing extended into a longer movie.

 

He spent two bullets on eleven men. He saved your tax money!

Year Released : 2014man-on-high-heels-32390
Director : Jang Jin
Cast : Cha Seung-Wan, Oh Jung-Se, Esom and Song Young-Chan

Recently I reviewed a South Korean movie called “Train to Busan”, and it was surprisingly half decent considering it is a zombie film, a genre done to death in recent years. It was my first glimpse into South Korean film and I decided that if I were to get another opportunity then I would jump on it, and that’s what happened when I was browsing Netflix and found “Man on High Heels”.

For those that haven’t read the site before, I am transgender, and I am automatically intrigued by films about people with gender dysphoria, albeit I won’t just watch a film simply because of that. The film has to offer something that I haven’t seen before and this achieves that relatively well, as I’m never seen a film about a man that wants to be a woman but could comfortably kick your arse if he wanted to.

This does however give me a little trepidation when it comes to this as it does look like one of those typical films in which the protagonist breaks arms without breaking into a sweat. You know what I mean? Those characters who, despite the number and/or size of the enemy, you never doubt they’re going to win, therefore taking any real sense of tension out of the scene….think the majority of the Marvel franchise.

But anyway, we’ll see.

Plot

Unfeasibly good cop Yoon Ji-Wook (Cha) has decided to quit the police force to finally complete his dream, living as a woman, although hormones are not working as is hoped. Virtually no-one knows about his desire other than close friends and a former lover, mainly because he successfully separates the two aspects of his personality.

Soon, after going out as a woman in public for the first time, Ji-wook is visited by one of two gangster brothers, the Heo’s, but Ji-wook easily defeats Bul (Song) in a fight, and this leads to him placing the man under arrest. Bul eventually brokers a deal that will see his sentence halved if he sells out his brother, Gon (Oh). Gon is unsurprisingly unimpressed with the idea once he finds out, and his gang soon kills the prosecutor responsible for the idea.

Meanwhile, Ji-wook has actually gone to Gon to fund his reassignment surgery, unaware of the connection, but as soon as Gon finds out who Ji-wook is, and more importantly his secret, he decides that killing everyone in Ji-wook’s life is the only way to re-establish dominance in Seoul.

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A decent LGBT film?

“Man on High Heels” is certainly one of the more unusual transgender related films that I’ve seen in recent times, and certainly one of those that doesn’t fit the usual mould for films in the LGBT genre, especially given that the character of Ji-wook shows very little signs of femininity when not dressed in female clothing. The best way I could really describe it is if you imagine Neo from the Matrix franchise, and having kicking everyone’s arse, all whilst wearing a dress, that’s the summation of this film.

If you’re going into this film expecting it to be full on LGBT action then you’re going to be disappointed. The character spends around 95% of the film in fully male clothing, with only the odd scene here and there spent in more feminine attire, and whilst the obvious desire to be female is there, you could be forgiven for forgetting the desire to be female for most of the film’s over-two hour run time.

I suppose though that I can personally relate to Ji-wook. I am a male-to-female transsexual and yet I don’t act or dress in an overly feminine manner, and many ways the uncertainty in which the character approaches his feminine side, especially outwardly, reminds me very much of when I initially came out around four and a half years ago. There is one particular scene in an elevator in which Yi-wook realises that others are about to get in to ride down to the ground floor, and she cowers in the corner, facing the wall, because she is afraid of the reactions, which is understandable and very relatable.

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Presentation wise I loved “Man on High Heels” and it has that noir style that I find very appealing personally. Visually it is excellent, with great attention to detail given to each scene in order to make it look like the very vibrant city with a dark side that I’m sure Seoul is (I’ve never been there, or anywhere in South Korea…..or even Asia just for the record). In this sense it strikes me as a very similar city to Los Angeles, another place in which noir films are often set.

I do however have two concerns with “Man on High Heels”. The first of which is that the fighting scenes, whilst not plentiful, certainly don’t have a sense of tension to them as Ji-wook never feels like he is under a genuine threat of being beaten by his opponents. Even when it is ten-on-one at the end, you still get the feeling that he could easily defeat them, and it means that there is no real depth to the fighting. There is no real tension there because like a lot of similar fighting films, you feel that you could see this character against a hundred people at once, and they’d still win.

My other issue with it is that whilst I did largely enjoy the film, at times it is hard to follow. I don’t think this is to do with the language barrier as I watched another South Korean film last week and had no issues with that, but for the first hour, other than the odd scene here and there, I didn’t really get into the story and found it a bit hard to follow at times.

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Summary

“Man on High Heels” is a largely enjoyable film for what it is, but unfortunately it does lack of a bit of depth by not really having any tension in the fights, and more importantly, a story that at times is a little tricky to follow.

I wouldn’t go as far as saying that I disliked the film, far from it infact, but I couldn’t give it the approved stamp in all good conscience as, whilst enjoyable, I wouldn’t really recommend it to others, and I think that is a big part for me.

Certainly don’t avoid if you get a chance to watch it, but don’t expect brilliant either.

It took God six days to create the universe, you should be able to get your act together in five!

Year Released : 2016images
Director : Zach Clarke
Cast : Addison Timlin, Ally Sheedy, Keith Poulson and Peter Hedges

If there is one thing that I hate it is when a film tries to pass itself off as something that it is clearly not. This can range from comedies that say they offer original jokes,  yet you’ve heard them all before, or the word “unique” in a description of a film and yet when you’re done watching it, you feel an overwhelming sense of familiarity. That being said, I am prepared to give a lot of films a chance and that’s why I decided that “Little Sister” would be the next film that I reviewed.

I first saw the trailer for this a few weeks ago and thought that it looked relatively interesting, which makes a change from some other films I’ve reviewed in the recent past, but looking a certain way and being a certain way are two very different things.

For those that haven’t read this site before, I write this mini-section before watching the film, so please keep that in mind as despite being interested in the film, I am already anticipating giving it a negative review unless it lives up to the promise in the trailer of it being unique and interesting.

Plot

Colleen (TImlin) has purposefully separated herself from her family and joined a convent following on from her mother’s (Sheedy) attempted suicide and drug dependency. Despite claiming to be happy, the other nuns believe that she isn’t truly enjoying the experience and actively encourage her to consider her future.

One day her mother sends her an email advising that her brother Jacob (Poulson) is finally out of the hospital after returning from war, but his entire face has been burnt. Colleen returns home to find that nothing has changed, her house and friends are exactly the same as when she left them, but her brother is understandably reluctant to reveal his new self to the world.

Colleen decides that if nothing has changed but her, that she will return to her old look and she re-dyes her hair, and this helps her to finally connect with Jacob again. The two reacquaint with each other and this finally helps Colleen reintegrate with her family again, or so it would appear

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As quirky and unique as it is advertised as?

Films that advertise themselves as being unique and quirky are usually the complete opposite, and are infact remarkably dull, tedious and uninteresting….and “Little Sister” falls firmly into that category. It is remarkably dull and lifeless, regardless of it’s attempts to tell us otherwise simply because a character changes hair colour several times.

The main problem with “Little Sister” sister is that it presents itself in the trailer as being weird, imaginative, but this is far from the truth and this is caused by Colleen, a remarkably boring central character. If you’re going to claim to be something very different than everything we’ve seen before, that actually needs to be the case, but the character of Colleen is precisely the same as pretty much every angsty young-woman ever depicted in film.

Addison TImlin’s performance fits the role perfectly well, but the problem is that anytime the character shows anything that remotely involves reflecting any emotion other than sadness, TImlin appears to be well out of her comfort zone. There is a scene just after she dyes her hair for the first time in which she lip syncs to a metal song and does a weird little dance, but you can tell from the poorly-hidden look on her face that she is clearly not comfortable, and this happens a few more times throughout the film in which the character is trying to be zany, but you can tell TImlin isn’t sold on the idea.

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You don’t get a chance to take a break from the character as she is in nearly every single scene in the movie. The other characters aren’t given a chance to breathe, or indeed for you to really see their relationships with each when Colleen isn’t around. If you’re focusing primarily on one character, you at least need to see the others when that character isn’t there on a regular basis. For example, you virtually never see Jacob without Colleen, and the only thing that you see her parents doing when she’s not there is attempt to take recreational drugs whilst in the bath. Not allowing the characters to develop their own personalities means that you ultimately don’t care, and that sums this whole film up for me.

Whilst not awful, I found that this offered precisely nothing that I hadn’t seen before in other films, and ultimately it will be one of those films that in a year or two I will see listed on my list of reviews that I will remember very little about. It is a completely forgettable movie with unremarkable and one-dimensional characters.

At least it was only ninety minutes long.

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Summary

Despite marketing itself as something different, “Little Sister” is that the same bland, unimaginative, slow moving type of film that I have seen and reviewed numerous times before.

Whilst the efforts of everyone are not awful by any stretch, there is nothing about this film that will be memorable after a short amount of time, infact, give it a week and I probably won’t remember the name of a single character from this film. That is how forgettable this movie is.

At a mercifully short ninety minutes, if you do decide to watch this then at least it won’t take up a long portion of your day.

I think when I masturbate I’m going to think about your mom.

Year Released : 2016swiss_army_man_poster
Director : Dan Kwan
Cast : Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe

There are some things that I never thought I’d write when I started this website two years ago, and most of which are still true because I’ve yet to even think of them, so imagine my surprise that I am able to write the words “Daniel Radcliffe plays a farting, undead corpse”. I realise that even just uttering that sentence might turn off some of those that are reading this review without having heard of this film before.

Much like a few of my more recent reviews, there is a chance that you will have heard of this film due to it’s unusual nature, not to mention Daniel Radcliffe’s admirable attempt to prove he can do more than just play a teenage wizard. Just for clarification, the reason I am reviewing a few more better known films recently is because there aren’t that many tiny films that really interest me enough to watch them at the moment.

Just to give you an idea of what I think of this film (I only decided to review it after watching it, rather than waiting until the end of the year review), this will be getting something that I stated I wouldn’t give out again just a few weeks ago.

Plot

Hank (Dano) got stranded on a tiny desert island some time ago and his “messages in a bottle” (or items to that affect) have had no response, so he decides to end his life by hanging himself. During the act, he notices a body that has washed up on shore (Radcliffe). In his desperation Hank tries to revive the long dead body, all before again going back to hang himself in despair, but at this point he notices the body doing strange actions, such as farting on a regular basis, and he soon realises when he sees the body float and seemingly move at will that this could be his way off of the island.

He rides the body like a dolphin to the nearest other landmass, but again feels suicidal when there are no signs of life anywhere near by. Soon after he realises that the corpse isn’t as dead as it would appear, and he is able to have a conversation with the person he calls “Manny”. Manny has no memory of his life, so Hank decides to try and educate him about the basics of life, and it isn’t long before Manny falls in love with the woman on Hank’s phone (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), believing it to be his own girlfriend.

With Manny’s body being the personification of a swiss army knife, Hank decides to use it to his advantage, but how long is it until Manny finds out the truth about the woman, potentially putting the friendship at risk?

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So, that sounds unique….

It sounds unique because it is. “Swiss Army Man” is one of the most original films that I have ever seen and other than an ending that (spoiler alert) sort of reminded me a bit to the ending of M. Night Shamaylan’s “The Village”, there wasn’t a single shred of anything that I had already seen before. It is one of the best original screenplays I think I’ve ever had the opportunity to unfold in front of my eyes.

The reason for this is not only because you’re watching a man using corpse’s penis as a compass (another sentence that I never thought I’d write), but you’re watching a man effectively having a father/son relationship with a dead body, teaching it about the world and life’s lessons. In that sense the film is actually somewhat beautiful, and it’s disappointing that most will be put off by the aspect of it being about a farting corpse, whereas in reality that is only a minor aspect to the film.

Comedically “Swiss Army Man” is hilarious, with Daniel Radcliffe’s completely deadpan delivery of tickeningly (if that’s even a word) funny lines proving to be very enjoyable. Deadpan has always been my preferred method of telling jokes, with some of my favourite jokes of all time being ludicrously funny, all whilst being enhanced by it being told in a completely serious manner, so in that sense it definitely works for me. For example, the quote I put at the beginning of the review “I think when I masturbate I’m going to think about your mom,” is delivery in such a way that it had me laughing out loud, which those that know me will be able to tell you I don’t do that often.

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The relationship between Dano’s “Hank” and Radcliffe’s “Manny” is actually quite complex and beautiful, especially a scene in which they are recreating a journey on a bus, and you can tell the pain in Hank’s voice as he is desperately trying to help Manny understand, whilst also hiding his own sorrow, and in many ways it is the ever opening window into Hank’s personality and mental state that proves to be rather interesting towards the end of the film, as you realise that he is actually a very lonely person and being rescued might not actually be the best thing for him.

In many ways that shows that this film isn’t just the farcical comedy that you would probably expect, and in many ways is actually quite a beautiful way of story telling. Much like another film I review recently, “Swiss Army Man” gave me a lot to think about in regards to it’s moral points, and it made me feel a lot of different emotions, which is something that I love when watching a film.

Whilst only having a very minimal soundtrack (usually just the same song), the music definitely adds to the experience of the movie and helps enhance scenes which seem life affirming, and that’s what this film is, it’s a lesson in how to help others, and how to appreciate the little things in life, such as the aforementioned mock-bus trip, in which they spend what must be at least ten minutes pretending to ride the bus.

It’s a film that I suspect most will avoid due to it’s initial appearances, but I beg you not to ignore this and watch it whenever you can.

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Summary

Brilliant and humble, “Swiss Army Man” is a pure delight and despite initially saying that you would probably never see this stamp perfect-459230_640again after Captain Fantastic, I am again rolling out the “PERFECT” stamp. It may not be the best film of all time, but for what is it trying to be, plus many different elements that are put together to make this, I couldn’t find a single reason not to give it the perfect stamp.

Yes, it’s a slightly silly concept, but it’s a worthwhile concept and one that, other than an ever so slightly familiar ending, was largely perfect. Dano and Radcliffe are perfect together, and I can’t praise this movie highly enough.

This is never going to be a popular movie for the simple reason that I think the farting corpse aspect will put a lot of people off, but I would urge you all to watch it if you can.

Thirty-three men, trapped underground, and we don’t even know if they are alive?

Year Released : 2016The_33_(film)_poster
Director : Patricia Riggen
Cast : Antonio Banderas, Rodrigo Santoro, Juliette Binoche, James Brolin, Juan Pablo Raba, Kate del Castillo, Jacob Vargas, Cote de Pablo and Bob Gunton.

Right at the beginning of 2016 I moved to the city of Leeds and transferred from one cinema in a certain multiplex chain to another. The new cinema had 13 screens and this allowed more space for them to show smaller films, and therefore I was delighted, if a little surprised, when “The 33” was going to be shown.

Now whilst “The 33” did relatively well in America, it was practically non-existent in my native UK, and the fact that I was the only person in the screen (and one of only three people who went to watch it all week) should tell it’s own story, but I had been looking forward to “The 33” for some time.

Please bare in mind that this is more than likely going to be a much shorter review than usual given that it’s several months since I saw this, and I haven’t had the chance to rewatch it yet. The only reason I am reviewing it now is that my internet at home isn’t working and therefore I can’t watch new films online (and there are none on TV that interest me at the moment), and I’m reviewing this on my phone.

Plot

In 2010 a group of miners went to work in the San Jose mine in Chile. It started off as a normal day for each of them, with some having a normal day, others coping with drinking disorders and another having a very troubled relationship with his sister, but little did they all know that there were discussions going on as they entered the mine about how it was so dangerous.

The owner ignores all of the warnings but he is soon horrified as the largest rock in the mountain collapses, trapping 33 men under ground with a limited supply of air, food and water. Mario (Banderas) appoints himself leader of the group, but he struggles to keep morale up as no-one knows for sure if they are going to be rescued.

Meanwhile, several miles away, Laurence Golborne (Santoro) convinces President Piñera (Gunton) to allow him to mount a rescue, but when he gets down there he not only has to deal with the already troublesome situation of how to get the miners out, but also the gathering families outside of the gates and how he rarely has positive news for them.

Can Laurence get them out in time?

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So did it deserve more attention?

In my opinion, most definitely. It has an excellent cast, lead by the ever dependable Rodrigo Santoro (more on him in a minute), a storyline that gets you hooked and best of all, it’s pretty much all factual. I remember watching the news way back in 2010 when this incident was going on and whilst you had other things going on in the world, the miners trapped underground kept me hooked to the television, and the film did the same.

Now I’m not going to sit here and claim that it’s a masterpiece, and it does suffer from the obvious and unavoidable issue that anything based on well-known events has done previously, and that is that you already know what is going to happen. Similar to most films based on major historical events, it’s hard to get truly invested because you know what is going to happen at the end, but ultimately the issue isn’t really that big in this due to the story telling.

The filmmakers do a great job of capturing the many layers to this film, such as how the miners are keeping motivated in the mine, their distrust of each other with a limited supply of food and water, how the families are interacting with Laurence, and how he also tries desperately to overcome all of the negativity to get the men out of the mine, and that is so interesting to watch because of the portrayal from Rodrigo Santoro.

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Those who have read my site in the past will know that I am a big fan of Santoro, and two of his films have featured in my Top 10 for the year at one point or another in 2016 (this and “Jane Got a Gun”). He was also arguably the main antagonist in my second favourite film of last year, Focus (you can see my full top 10 here). Rodrigo controls any scene he is in and this is no different.

You feel the characters anguish as he wants to help in many different ways, but is restricted by guidelines and safety issues, and he faces an internal battle to keep his own positivity up in difficult circumstances. His is a very different type of performance to those trapped underground, and with no disrespect to any of the actors who played the miners, I found the above ground scenes more interesting.

That isn’t to say that the scenes in the mine are bad, not in the slightest. With thirty-three characters in that situation you’re obviously not going to get to know everyone, but the film tries it’s hardest to get as many covered as possible and it relatively succeeds.

As I said earlier, the only real problem that “The 33” has is that the edge is taken off by the fact that you know what’s going to happen when you go in, but that still didn’t stop me from enjoying this, and as mentioned a few paragraphs ago, it was in my Top 10 for the year so far at one point (although it’s since been replaced).

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Summary

An enjoyable drama that keeps you engrossed in what is going on, and Rodrigo Santoro unsurprisingly shines in his role. Surely it’s only a matter of time before he gets the lead in a major Hollywood film, approvedrather than just a bit part player?

“The 33” is an excellent film and whilst it stretches a bit at times, it is still a great watch and I would definitely recommend it. Don’t get in expecting action and scenes moving at a fast pace, it is a character based film and is mainly dialogue based.

If you go in expecting an edge of your seat drama, or something to be constantly happening, then you’re going to be disappointed. However, if you go in with the correct expectation levels then you should be absolutely fine.

 

I would have thought that putting a child in hospital whilst high on coke might have made you grow up a bit!

Year Released : 2016Bachelor-Games-2016
Director : Edward McGown
Cast : Charlie Bewley, Jack Doolan, Jack Gordon, Mike Noble and Obi Abili

So whilst I’m working on tidying up the site a bit (working on a few old reviews and adding more features….for example, notice the Facebook link to the left of the page), I took the time to watch and review another this, “Bachelor Games”.

I decided to watch it not knowing a lot going in, and let’s face it, it is one of the less interesting movie posters that you’ve ever seen, but what is lacks in some areas, it’ll hopefully make up for in others. I’m not even entirely sure what genre it is, I’m going to guess horror, and I love a good old Brit-horror……having said that I am British so that’s not exactly a stretch is it?

Hopefully I’ll be returning to reviewing on a semi-regular basis again soon, so this should be the first of many to come in a relatively quick succession (well, compared to normal anyway)

Plot

Leon (Bewley) has decided to Mexico for his stag do with friends Terence (Doolan), Roy (Noble), Max (Abili) and best man Henry (Gordon). The lads have a long trip planned, and after a night of drinking, Henry convinces them to climb a mountain. Terence wakes up to find his watch missing and is the first to drop out when the heat gets too much.

The remaining members of the group hear about a legend of a man, known as “The Hunter”, who had his head cut off by his rival, but they just laugh it off. The group continues up the trail until they find a pink polo shirt covered in blood stains, the shirt worn by Terence when he walked off. The group quickly starts disappearing and Henry retreats into a cave, only to be cornered by “The Hunter”. He successfully manages to stab “The Hunter”, but it turns out to be nothing more than Terence in disguise, and it is revealed to have been a plan by Leon to get back at Henry for sleeping with his fiance.

With the group at breaking point, they start heading back to the hotel before finding their guide (who had previously run off) dangling from a tree. They cut him down, but he is quickly taken down by an arrow, and the group realises that there is a very genuine threat out there.

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A decent film or a forgettable foray?

“Bachelor Games” is never going to be one of those films that is going to be remembered for long than a few days after it’s initially watched. It’s not a bad film by any stretch and as I write this I am still debating whether to give it the approved badge or not, which just shows that it’s not bad at all.

I’m going to start with my one main negative from the film and that is the fact that the very first scene is Leon in a police interrogation room, and he talks about how it wasn’t supposed to go the way he did. Whilst it’s good at setting a scene for what you might be about to see for the next 80something minutes of your life, it takes any real tension out of any scene in which the character is on the cusp of death. You know he survives before you’ve even started.

That doesn’t really weaken the character though and the characters are relatively well written. The good thing about having a small cast is that you have a great chance to develop your characters and in an 85 minute run time, you learn a lot about quite a few of them. For example, you learn that Terence is a drug addict, Roy very jealous about the careers and opportunities that the others have, Max is basically always on edge and is a walking ball of rage, Leon definitely has a dark and angry side, and Henry, well, is just Henry. You’re constantly learning new things about each of the characters, and that is refreshing.

Overall there isn’t really a lot to say about “Bachelor Games”, and this is one of the shortest reviews I think I’ve ever written, but it’s definitely one of those films that you can just sit back, watch and not really have to think about things too much.

Summary

After what I am pretty sure is the shortest review I’ve written for this site, I have decided to give it the approvedapproved stamp, simply because I can’t really think of that many genuine reasons not to.

Whilst the fact that you know Leon survives before the film has even properly started, it doesn’t disengage you from the film overall, and there is something to be said for that.

Don’t get in expecting the best film in the world,it’s not that much better than average, but it’s a decent enough way to spend 80odd minutes of your time.

These two came in loving each other, but the first to wake up will kill the other and not know why!

Year Released : 2016Pandemic_Poster
Director : John Suits
Cast : Rachel Nicholas, Alfie Allen, Mekhi Phifer, Missi Pylke and Paul Guilfoyle

You’ve got to admire when a film tries something that is relatively new, even in a genre that you’ve personally got a bit tired of, and that is exactly what has happened with “Pandemic”, a zombie/infection film that is trying the gimmick of filming in first person, without seeming like a found-footage style film.

I’ve personally grown very tired of both the zombie and found-footage style genres in recent years, both are cliched to death and long term readers may notice that I don’t really bother with either anymore, or at least reviewing them, but with “Pandemic” I feel the need to watch is because at least it’s taking a different approach to things.

Where what it seems matches reality is a very different question though…..

Plot

A viral epidemic has swept the world and left only very small pockets of survivors. Rebecca (McNicholas) has just arrived at the Los Angeles survival camp after being present for New York’s falling, and she is quickly assigned as the doctor in a team that is being sent out to rescue a bunch of survivors.

She is assigned Gunner (Phifer), who is desperately trying to find his wife, Denise (Pyle), and Wheeler (Allen), an ex-con, however, Rebecca is herself hiding that she isn’t actually a doctor at all and has lied so that she can find her daughter. The group struggle to stay alive on the streets of LA from not only those that are already at Stage 4 and above of the infection, but those that are at stage one and have just been infected.

As time goes on Rebecca struggles to hide that she isn’t a doctor, something that is made even more difficult when her team start getting badly wounded and she doesn’t know what to do, but can she still defy the odds and find her daughter?

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So does the gimmick word for the genre?

Basically “Pandemic” is no different than any other zombie/viral infection film, with the exception of it’s got the gimmick of being largely first-person, with a few third person scenes thrown in here and there, but this gimmick does not make it a good film, not even close. I feel that with the right film, first person (and not in a found footage style way) in the horror genre could definitely word with the right film, but “Pandemic” is not that film, not even close.

Gimmicks in films only work if the film is actually good to begin with. For example, the found footage genre has some very, very strong entries, such as the first two films in the [REC] franchise, but largely they’re a pile of crap because they all copy each other, and it’s basically a breeding ground for desperate actors to try and get noticed by falling into arguably the most cliched sub-genre of films.

It’s not even as if the acting in “Pandemic” is bad because each of the actors does a reasonable job, but there is only so far that you can go with what they’re given, and unfortunately they have been given something painfully generic and not very well thought out. For example, the character of Wheeler is probably the most interesting and is the most morally grey of the group, and yet it’s barely touched on at all. It would have been good to see him developed more than he was, even if he is in the film for the majority.

I think the problem is that they focus on the character of Rebecca/Lauren far too much and ultimately she is just a walking set of cliches, and as soon as you find out that she is looking for her daughter, you know that chances are that she is going to find her. I’m not even considering that a spoiler because try and think of the last film you saw in which a main character said that and didn’t find their son/daughter by the end of that film….I bet you can’t.

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Infact, I don’t do this often but I’m going to end this by talking about a major plot hole that happens towards the end of the film. You can skip to the rest of the review by scrolling down to the summary section, but I can’t avoid talking about the ending because it’s stupid.

So here we go (final spoiler warning). The film ends with Rebecca finding her daughter and realising that she is infected. She wants to get her back to base so that she can be treated.

She and her daughter eventually make it back to the base, but by now Rebecca’s daughter is actually wearing the biological contamination suit and the soldiers shoot Rebecca as they believe her to be infected. They message over the radio to the main doctor and he allows Rebecca’s daughter to come into the facility, although he doesn’t know that she isn’t actually Rebecca (who he actually thinks is called Lauren), nor that she is infected. Rebecca dies happily in the knowledge that her daughter is safe.

Now whilst that may sound like a happy ending, it isn’t. Rebecca was clearly told by the base’s lead doctor that the only people that they will allow back into the base are her, the other team members, the team that they’re trying to rescue and any uninfected survivors. Whilst the doctor initially believes that Rebecca’s daughter is actually her, as soon as he realises it’s not, more than likely before he’s about to administer the toxins (which he has already said he will only do for her) he is either going to kill the daughter, or put her in the research facility so that she can be monitored and tested before she reaches the final stage.

What Rebecca has actually done is condemn her daughter to misery for the final few days/weeks before she eventually turns, something which she must have known. There is no way that the doctor was going to allow her daughter on the site as she was already infected, something that has been made clear to her.

Right, spoiler over.

Summary

“Pandemic” tried something new and had a decent enough quality in terms of acting, but it sadly lacks in other areas and has a stupid ending.

I wouldn’t quite say that this is a missed opportunity, but there is something to be said for the first person genre (in a non-found footage style) that means that it could potentially be big in the future, but “Pandemic” isn’t the pioneer it more than likely hopes it would be.

It’s not awful, but it’s definitely not great.

The cheese inspectors beat the crap out of us!

Year Released : 2007lars-and-the-real-girl
Director : Craig Gillespie
Cast : Ryan Gosling, Paul Schneider, Emily Mortimer, Kelli Garner and Patricia Clarkson

Another film from my Youtube playlist of films that I want to watch, “Lars and the Real Girl” is a comparatively well known film to the ones that I usually review for this site, and I’m pretty certain it’s the first one that I didn’t write as part of the Halloween special that has over 100,000 votes on IMDB.

To be fair, despite being on the aforementioned list, I was probably never actually going to watch this film. There a few films on there that whilst I would love to watch them, I just can’t ever see myself actually doing it, and there are a few that I imagine I won’t review even if I have seen them. The reason that I have done so though is that I was in a charity shop with one of my new housemates earlier and I spotted the DVD for a massive 50p. SOLD!

So I sat down and watched with the aforementioned housemate to enjoy what I hoped would be a wonderfully offbeat comedy as I was in the need of a chuckle following an incident at work on Friday evening.

As you can probably tell, I’m writing this bit after watching the film, which is a very odd occurrence for me.

Plot

Lars (Gosling) is a very shy young man who prefers his own company. He lives in the garage that is attached to the house he and his brother Gus (Schneider) inherited from their mother. Karin (Mortimer), Gus’ heavily pregnant wife, is very keen on Lars finding someone and is thrilled when he reveals that he has started a romantic relationship. That thrill becomes shock and dismay when Lars introduces them to a sex-doll and acts as though she is alive.

Gus is particularly appalled and struggles to deal with the realisation that his brother might be insane. He tricks Lars into seeing a psychologist (Clarkson), and as time goes on she theorises that he is compensating for something and just to ride it out until the doll, which Lars names Bianca, is no longer needed.

As time goes on more and more people become aware of the situation, but whilst everyone is supportive, a lot struggle with the concept. Bianca is given a job of teaching children how to read (via a cassette player on her lap) and is given make-overs, but it isn’t long before Lars grows jealous of the attention given to the doll, especially as he is now partially interested in co-worker Margo (Garner).

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Worth watching?

“Lars and the Real Girl” is one of the most original films that I think I have ever seen, and it is one of the more enjoyable efforts I have watched in recent weeks. For me, it’s not necessarily the dark comedy aspect of the film, but more the element of a family and community trying to deal with the mental illness of someone they love.

It makes you question how you would react in the same sort of situation, and there are two characters in particular who are very interesting to watch, Gus and Margo. Gus has the greater depth out of the two characters as he struggles to deal with the fact that his brother is in love with a sex doll, and more worryingly that he thinks it’s real. There is a brilliantly acted scene between him and Karin in which he finally breaks down and I love that unlike a lot of other films, the character isn’t really focused on how it will make him look, he genuinely cares for his brother.

The reaction from Margo when she realises that Lars is dating a doll is hilarious and very genuine. She stand there aghast as she sees that Lars has brought a sex doll into church and realises that Lars is in love with it. She stands there long after everyone around her has sat down and the look of horror on her face is exceptionally well portrayed by Kelli Garner.

But unquestionably the star of the show is Gosling, and he nails it. There are a few roles in Hollywood that are cast so perfectly that you couldn’t imagine anyone else in the role, with some examples being Heath Ledger’s taken on the Joker in “The Dark Knight”, Chris Pratt in “Guardians of the Galaxy” and Brad Pitt as Tyler in “Fight Club.” Gosling nails it so well that it’s hard not to like the character. He plays him so humbly that you actually see exactly why everyone in the town likes the character, he’s almost perfectly humble.

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The pacing is great, although it does start dragging a bit towards the end and it does become slightly predictable what will happen, but that is my only real complaint with the film. It feels very natural and could have the potential to happen in real life.

Visually the film is what you’d expect, there’s not really a lot going on except for the environmental shots that you see throughout, and the town that they are in is gorgeous.

If you a chance then I would definitely recommend that you watch this unusual black comedy, it’s one of the most unique films you’ll ever see and that’s definitely not a bad thing.

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Summary

“Lars and the Real Girl” is everything that you would hope it would be, and the feel a genuine connection to each of the characters, especially the “what the fuck?” look on theapproved face of some of the characters that can’t believe what they’re witnessing.

Whilst it will probably never get mainstream coverage like most of Gosling’s films these days, “Lars and the Real Girl” is about as close as you’re likely to see to an actor nailing a role perfectly, and to the point where you couldn’t picture anyone else doing it.

I would definitely recommend “Lars and the Real Girl”.

Why did you get into journalism?

Year Released : 2016Truth_2015_poster
Director: James Vanderblt
Cast : Cate Blanchett, Robert Redford, Dennis Quaid, Topher Grace, Elisabeth Moss, Stacy Keach, David Lyons and Bruce Greenwood

There are several good and bad aspects of working at a cinema, so much so that I am currently writing an article about it, but for me the main benefit, other than being paid of course, is the chance to watch as many films as I want for free.

I’ve worked at three cinemas for a total of close to two years now, and in those time periods I have seen roughly 80 films, at least 60 of which I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. This can work both ways, it can reveal some hidden gems that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise, but I also run the risk of seeing films that steal time away from my life.

But anyway, I digress. Last week the cinema I was working at started showing a film called “Truth”. I’d never heard of it, which is something very strange for me as I keep relatively up to date with all releases, and no-one I spoke to knew a single thing about it. Tickets had been exceptionally few and far between, but then I watched the trailer and I got excited by it, especially as it seemed to be a somewhat similar film to the excellent “Spotlight”, and therefore I went along on Monday evening, with my salted popcorn and Pepsi Max (not sponsored) in hand, and watched “Truth” in a screen all on my own.

I know some will question why I am reviewing a film that has been released at the cinema, and is still going. Well in the past I have done it on occasions where the film isn’t seemingly that well known, I’ve been in a screen with only a few people in it, it doesn’t have a high level of ratings on IMDB, etc.

I would also state that before I review this, due to the subject matter I have to make it clear that I have no political agenda with regards to this, I simply wanted to watch a decent film, and more to the point, not being American I couldn’t give the slightest care in the world to if what Bush is accused of actually happened.

Plot

In 2004 and Mary Mapes (Blanchett) becomes aware of a series of documents that call into doubt George W. Bush’s tenure in the US Army, a key part of the upcoming election campaign. The documents alledge that despite claims to the contrary, Bush’s was regularly AWOL from training and when he did eventually show up, he was quickly transferred to the Texas National Guard, a favourable move. Mary hires Mike (Grace), Roger (Quaid) and Lucy (Moss) to help her investigations.

The investigations lead to Lt. Colonel Bill Burkett (Keach), who has documents from various members of the military from Bush’s time of service that prove this. The team uses these and numerous other sources that back up the cover up and they get numerous witnesses stating on camera that everything is accurate. The team eventually put out a CBS 60 Minutes news piece, hosted by legendary news anchor Dan Mather (Redford). The documentary is initially deemed a success.

Soon afterwards however, many online bloggers start questioning the documents, stating that they could have easily been forged in Microsoft Word due to the exact same spacing, fonts and various other aspects of the package’s default settings. Every piece of new evidence that the team find is quickly dismissed, and this isn’t helped by Burkett admitting that he lied as he felt Mary was being overbearing.

As time goes on, CBS look to start covering their backs, all whilst the members of the team are being hounded and vilified, especially Mary.

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A hidden gem or a waste of a section of my life?

This falls very much into the hidden gem category and I would urge you to watch it if it’s still showing at a cinema near you when you read this.

I’m going to start right off of the bat by saying that this isn’t quite on the same level as “Spotlight”, although to be fair I think it would have struggled to reach those heights. In many ways “Truth” is indeed very similar to that film, although there are obvious differences with the subject matter, but in terms of the most basic level of the plot (a news team trying to uncover the truth when all doubt them), it’s very similar.

Let’s start with the acting and to use an American vernacular, Cate Blanchett knocks it out of the park. She is brilliant as Mapes and you genuinely start feeling for the character, especially in the latter section of the film in which she gets attacked on a personal level and has to deal with her rapist father becoming involved. You see a great character development as she starts off as a cock-sure woman full of self-confidence and transforms into a vulnerable and fragile person, and it’s a great way of looking at the way people handle things online as people say things, often forgetting that there is a person on the other end of the abuse.

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People forget that back in 2004, the internet wasn’t anything like it is today and was still relatively new. Internet pages, such as forums, didn’t have as much scrutiny as they do today and some of the comments that people post on a blog post that shows Mary’s picture is a sign of the times back then, and more importantly, it started her breakdown that continues throughout the film. It’s an important and realistic part of the plot, and Blanchett’s portrayal of a woman hurtling into depression is exceptional.

It would be unfair to single her out though as all of the cast do a fantastic job, especially Topher Grace, who offers up a very different type of character to what I’ve seen him play in the past. Granted, Grace may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s very rare you’ll see him in a role that is similar to what he’s played in the past. Quaid was almost also born to play this role and you couldn’t imagine anyone else playing that character.

One thing that I also love is that the filmmakers have taken care with regards to making the film have the relevant versions of software for the time. For example, they use a correct version of Windows Media Player and the Google homepage shows 2004 right at the bottom. It’s such a small detail that is so important, and yet a lot of filmmakers get it wrong. Infact, at the time of writing, there is only one anachronism on the IMDB “Goofs” page (a tram system seen at an airport that wasn’t installed until six months after the events of the film), and for any movie set in the past that is quite an accomplishment.

Whilst there are tiny moments here and there when the film drags, I was never bored and not once did I look at my phone (I was in the screen on my own so I wasn’t disturbing anyone). It could have been so easy to make this film uninteresting (not intentionally of course), but they avoided that and made an excellent film.

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Summary

“Truth” is a very clever and poignant look at how people forgot the initial point of something to suit their own agenda.approved

The cast do a great job portraying these characters and none of them put a foot wrong. This helps with the level of care that has been put into to making the film as realistic as possible. Whilst there is the odd minor error here and there, it doesn’t distract from an excellent story.

Don’t go in expecting the same level of emotional impact as “Spotlight”, but it’s still pretty darn good.

Definitely watch “Truth”