Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Film Review: The Irishman (2019)

Recently, I got a chance to check out a list by RT.com where the author examines the list of 2020 Oscar nominations based on how good and “woke” they are. Now, it’s an interesting read even though unlike some Canadian professors, I don’t think that the PC culture is the world’s biggest problems, as for example, not many koalas are on fire right now because of it (in my simpleton mind) Yet, one thing caught my eye the most. The article states for the movie the Irishman:

“Producers behind the movie tried to win over politically correct social media mobs before the flick’s release by talking up the story’s supposed takedown of “toxic masculinity."

Now, this is art, so we’re by default all correct in our views about practically anything related to it. However, the entire approach of the movie was something completely different to me. No, I didn’t see The Casino or Goodfellas as laden with toxic masculinity - even though, yes, there is a quote from one of the producers of The Irishman saying this. 

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Indie Showcase: THE DOORS BETWEEN US (2019)

A good indie film utilizes the elements it has and downplays those it might miss. In the case of THE DOORS BETWEEN US, the good elements are most definitely actors and a solid script. The lacking ones include a choice of location and overall cinematic visual potential. Yet, this doesn’t ultimately hurt the film. Here's how it describes itself:

Eight complete strangers are tested like never before when they wake up locked inside a mysterious house. With no memory of how or why they are there paranoia takes over, forcing them to make their own decisions on who to trust and how best to escape.

Developed by Janky Jank Productions, THE DOORS BETWEEN US sets out as a horror. There, its warped lifeboat scenario is quickly divided among different characters. All of them are unique and easily distinguishable between each other, which is a big plus for the film right off the bat. 

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Two-Paragraph Review: Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (2019)

There are a lot of references in this film. So many references, in fact, that for me, they manage to drown out any relatable essence. As a depiction of a time gone by, Tarantino has a lot to say, or at least to observe. Yet when it comes to connecting with the characters he seems to struggle where and how to focus, apart from regret. The same applies to the nature of storytelling he tries to use. On one hand, the movie is meandering and could have some similarities to the avant-garde filmmaking from that time. It is by no means an homage to the same movies, but more a very engaging acted documentary.

The weird and uneven use of the narrator is the perfect example of this nebulous approach. Something very similar and insecure is also present in the way the film treats its story. Possibly the best way to appreciate this film is to think about it as a buddy action comedy-drama. Otherwise so many scenes remain redundant in its attempt to define an actor of that period, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, and also turn around the Charlie Manson story. While there is an attempt to merge these two-plus hours of screen time and too many unrelated topics make that merger feel very forced.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Indie Showcase: Did You See That? (2019)

The domain of horror, science fiction, and fantasy is something that had its golden age in the 1970s and 1980s with an array of amazing an amazingly bad movies. This naturally includes the weird and wonderful exploitation films that managed to influence entire generations of filmmakers and film fans. Did You See That? is a movie that has a strong sense of the very same sensibility. Here's how it describes its plot:

With the blood of her loved ones on her hands, Chaka, a young witch-in-training must team up with the Guardian Lamar (Powerman MC, Crossbones and Welfare to Millionaire) to stop a demonic entity, Thaddeus Ayromlooi (Dragon Dronet, Alien Resurrection) from mutilating the rest of her friends. Their only hope is the Riazza Themsla, a forbidden book of spells that released Thaddeus into their world in the first place. Time begins to run out as his tactics become more unpredictable, leading Chaka and her friends into doubting what is reality and what is an illusion.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Two-Paragraph Review: The King (2019)

David Michôd is a guy who gets cinema. His Rover was an amazing film that came out of the blue to the international crowd, while Animal Kingdom planted his flag locally a few years earlier. The King is a continuation of this amazing talent and a broad range of interests. Here, he was able, along with Joel Edgerton, who showed his writing kung fu in The Gift, to explore "Henriad" of William Shakespeare in a way that includes no archaic language or archaic acting. Smartly, the movie steers clear of all of those Shakespeare tropes and focuses on the thing that made them into timeless art: it's exploration of human nature.

Instead, the plot is a historical drama that takes in the Battle of Agincourt and puts it front and center into an amazingly engaging movie. The star of the film, Timothée Chalamet, does a marvelous job and he’ll be praised for it for a long time. His Henry is one of doubt, reluctance, and introversion, but also calculated violence and cruelty. Here, Chalamet is really excellent, but an equal level of craft and skill is provided by everyone else, offering authentic characters stuck in a world that is nothing like our own. In its genre, The King is most certainly the best movie of 2019.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Two-Paragraph Review: In the Tall Grass (2019)

Like the Bird Box, Netflix is chasing, at least as far as I can tell, some kind of a cooking-cutter way of making decent horror movies. They all have a simple premise and use their star actors more than scenography, props or anything like that. In the Tall Grass, the relatively unknown main protagonists are aided by Patrick Wilson's character as they are all lost in a strange field from which no one can escape.

All of this is based on Stephen and Joe King novella by the same name and yes, like all horror things King, it manages to stick to the wall (somehow). The movie, in turn, seems to want little more than the same wall-sticking ability - it is not A Quiert Place nor does it aim that high. It is able to entertain and it fails to be overtly stupid or comical (unlike the much more expensive Bird Box). While it does that, it starts and ends as a microwave-ready horror film but which carries no greater ambition than to be just that.