Sunday, November 10, 2019

Two-Paragraph Film: 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.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Two-Paragraph Review: In the Shadow of the Moon (2019)

It seems like people who want to make a time travel movie these days immediately say to themselves: how can we make our time travel a never-before-seen thing? Surprisingly, they are often quite good at this. Predestination managed to pull it off to a degree, while the much older Primer does the same on a low-budget yet marvelous level. In the Shadow of the Moon is not exactly the cream of the crop, but it does offer something engaging and mysterious, while it skillfully navigates its way around any potential pitfalls.

Naturally, I’m not talking about physics or time travel mechanics, these are always full of holes (apart from the brilliant Primer). Here, I’m thinking more about the actual plot and how it relates to the main characters - in this case, a cop who witnesses a mysterious case of murders and manages to stop the suspect back in the 1980s. Yet, every nine years, the same murder pattern seems to occur again and again. As the mystery deepens, so does the traction the film has, all the while cleverly connecting it to the main character and the people around him. This ends as a not a very innovative time travel mystery, but one that does try to convey something beyond a pulpy sci-fi tale.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Two-Paragraph Review: Yesterday (2019)

Danny Boyle has that special magic that he can give to his films, but not all of the time. Vacuuming Completely Nude in Paradise or The Beach have loads of it, while Trance on the other hand, has barely any. Yesterday is somewhere in between those two, but leaning heavily towards those films with not that much Boyle-magic to give. Of course, compared to other romantic comedies, Yesterday passes with flying colors.

But, compare it with Danny Boyle movies, and you get a C+ or B- film. Sure, it does have its incredible snippets, like the appearance of Robert Carlyle character. However, the story of a man who remembers The Beatles while everyone else forgot them after a freak global accident still somehow falls flat. Yes, it is an homage to the band and all of that, but it still fails to connect with our main character, in spite of all that he goes through. That crucial problem makes all about Yesterday seem a bit like yesterday's news - possibly relevant back then but quickly forgotten right now.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Short Film Showcase: Twisted (2019)

In just 16 minutes, the short film Twisted aims to do something really ambitious: present a suspenseful drama that sets off one ordinary evening and ends with a tragedy for one and possibly two people. By using some effective editing and a non-linear storytelling, the film quickly sets up its main pieces and presents the audience with the match between them. Here’s the film’s plot:

Christopher Thomas and his wife Jessica are having what one might say is a healthy relationship until the truth comes out. After a long workday, Chris decides to go out for drinks with a few male coworkers. This is when the troubles he has at home with his wife comes out. Things take a turn for the worst when he wakes up to his wife deceased. Now he must prove his innocence before it’s too late.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Indie TV Series Showcase: Real Acting (2019)

We’re definitely living in the golden age of TV shows. It is enough to check out something like Mindhunter and see what David Fincher can do when he’s given 10 hours instead of two. But, the same golden age applies to indie creators and other genres as well. This is why today, a TV show like Real Acting is not just theoretically possible, but something that already has its full first season. Here’s how the show describes itself:

An out-of-luck acting teacher assembles a colorful cast of wannabe actors for his unique method of coaching in this comedy mockumentary series.

The director of the show, Bron Theron, clearly pulled a lot of inspiration from his own career. As an actor who got his first credit in 2005, he worked plenty behind the camera as well as in front of it. Now, in Real Acting, he used a simple premise of a modest acting school, equipped with a small stage and an even smaller auditorium, to offer his numerous character (and talented actors) a place to do everything and anything actors in training go through.
Over-the-top and obviously focused on exploring all the absurdity, talent, drive and despair to succeed, Theron created a series that is a must-watch not only for aspiring actors but anyone who is into minimalist indie comedy. If this appeals to the thespian inside of you, watch the entire first season of Real Acting right now on Amazon Prime.