Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Film Review: Housebound (2014)

Copyright: Semi-Professional Pictures
Almost immediately, this film defines itself as, first and foremost, a comedy. In the opening sequence, a pair of ATM robbers is thwarted by a Bugs Bunny type mistake (and the subsequent hit in the head). Right after, the film jumps into the future, where one of them, a young woman named Kylie, is sentenced to house arrest.

The attitude filled Kylie returns to her family home, and to her mother, where she needs to spend 8 months wearing a locating device that will stop her from leaving the premise. Miriam, her mom, is happy to have her back, but the bad blood between them, located there since Kylie’s childhood, quickly begins to boil. But, at the same time, strange sounds can be heard in their old home, and this brings about bad memories of their previous family life where both believed at one point that the house was haunted.

Gerard Johnstone, the writer and director of Housebound, made just one mistake in the entire process, which is pretty amazing considering the budget and the relative lack of stardom in front of behind the camera. This mistake is the length of the film, and the fact that it loses steam on several occasions. 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Film Review: The Drop (2014)

Copyright: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Certain parts of the US seem as if they were made for street violence, shady criminal dealings and colorful character that partake in this environment. Brooklyn, with its working class quagmire and a thick accent that can be recognized by people outside of the States, is definitely one of those places.

The Drop (2014) is a film heavily set in Brooklyn. Michaël R. Roskam created his movie so that it is fueled by mystery and suspense. The mystery part revolves around the notion of a bar that was formerly run by a small local gang, but which then got overtaken by a more ruthless and capable Chechen criminal organization. Now, the bar is sometimes used as the Drop, or a place where all the dirty money collected by the organization gets taken and kept for transport. The only thing is that the Drop moves constantly, but many people think about robbing it.

The suspense part of the film is handled by Tom Hardy, who plays Bob, the bar worker. His older superior, called Cousin Marv is the former owner of both the bar and the local gang. Now, Marv is angry and afraid, while Bob just wants to keep his head down. One night, he finds an abandoned pit bull pup, and decides not to walk away. This sparks a series of changes in Bob’s life, while at the same time danger looms over everyone.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

MFM Interview: Tracey Birdsall

Dawn of the Crescent Moon (2014) is a supernatural thriller about a group of students who travel to Texas to explore a Comanche legend, but soon come face to face with it, staring Tracey Birdsall and Barry Corbin (watch the trailer here). Birdsall began her career more than three decades ago, and today presents a strong voices in the area of independent film.

Recently, I got an opportunity to talk to her about her new film and the inspiration it drew from Native American folklore, but also about the changing role of women in the movie industry.

Courtesy of
Movies, Films and Movies (MFM): Indie horrors are definitely a very interesting genre in the age of the Internet, both as a financial model and an opportunity for artistic expression. What is, from your perspective, the biggest advantage in working in this genre?

Monday, December 22, 2014

Film Review: Dracula Untold (2014)

Copyright: Universal Pictures
If you don’t like this film, and I sure wasn’t made into its fan after I watched it, its name offers many possible puns. Like, this movie is so bad that its story should be like its title and it should have remained untold. Or, doesn’t this film kill its own name by telling the story which is supposed to be “untold”?

Granted, these puns are not that great. But, truth to be told (not untold), this film isn’t that great either. But, I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I felt as someone who was robbed of 90 minutes. The key issue and the slipping point of this film is the fact that its director, Gary Shore, simply didn’t know where to take it most of the time.

The movie industry is continuously drawn to the story of Dracula and vampires in general. Psychologically speaking, there are so many good things in these tales that they are simply irresistible – sexual allusion of dominance, clothing style, the notions of unstoppable power that comes at a great personal cost – vampire have it all, and they are easy for everyone to understand them.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Film Review: The Equalizer (2014)

Copyright: Columbia Pictures
It’s very enticing to examine the newest Antoine Fuqua’s film as a pseudo-religious tale. In it, a character called Robert McCall is a deity right from the Old Testament. He is never uncertain about what is wrong and what is right, and is prepared to commit acts of unabated violence to help those who are in need. Watching The Equalizer, I saw only two modes of Robert’s existence – quiet nothingness in which he is practically an invisible older worker in a Home Depot kind of place, and the quiet rage setting, in which Robert becomes a demon of death who kills to solve problems.

In this setting, Denzel Washington, who plays Robert, reaches once more for a character he constructed a decade ago. This person is an ordinary guy who is in fact a real world superhero with unshakable faith in his ideals.

Even when Fuqua presents Robert in a state that might be near to something like doubt, just a moment or two later, we see him suffocating cops or destroying pipelines while he calmly walks away from the nuclear-like explosion. Because, you know, tough guys don’t look at explosions, especially if they are a murdering psychopath. Although Washington’s acting is strong, his physical demeanor and loosening facial skin tell more about a tired man who only wants to complete another gig where he uses interiors of cars to torture people.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Film Review: Gone Girl

20th Century Fox
All narrative art is about suspense of disbelief. This notion works on almost every level, and no film can ignore this. People shoot revolvers without reloading every ten seconds, and drive while they have long conversations when they don’t look at the road (which surprisingly easy leads to crashes in real life). 

Suspension of disbelief means that we play along and accept that things don’t need to be too realistic, first and foremost basic stuff like the passage of time – in reality, a visit to the bathroom can take up to 10 or 15 minutes in which nothing happens (well, nothing too important, usually at least), while in a film during that same time, once in a lifetime love affairs begin and end.

That is why suspension of disbelief is fine with me. But Gone Girl moves is one gigantic a continuation of disbelief that stomps on reality until there is nothing left by a fine powder that gets swept away by the laborious David Fincher. This director is by no means a stranger to hits and misses. He ended the 90’s as one of the visionaries of this weird decade where movies didn’t get things like the Internet, but tried hard. Just two years after Fight Club, a film that might be one of the key works of cinematic works art in this period, Fincher made Panic Room, a complete disaster of low ambitions and emotional detachment.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Film Review: The Maze Runner (2014)

Copyright: 20th Century Fox
Wes Ball, who directed this movie, plays his first cards with a lot of style, and also some guts. He doesn’t go the way I expected him to, opening his film with some kind of an info dump. He stripped away almost everything, and opted for presenting a completely bare, almost raw experience.

A young man wakes up in a middle of a field called the Glade, surrounded by boys of different age. He lost all of his memories, but immediately recognizes that others are organized in Lord of the Flies kind of society, but only this one lives in relative harmony. 

The only problem is that they are surrounded by huge walls, and the only way out of this place is through the Maze, an incredible, constantly changing structure that is full of dangerous creatures.

With this minimal verbal setting, the film drives on, basing itself on experience, not knowledge. The audience gets to find out new things along with the main character Thomas, which feels very organic. This is how he gradually learns the power balance in the Glade, shared between a teenage version of hawks, doves and owls archetypes, which differ in their approach to social structure and governance. But at the same time, all strive for the exploration of the Maze and hope to find a way out.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Crowdfunding push: Divine

Contemporary Berlin is the setting for this short film, and two completely opposite characters are examined in it, both coming from the Russia. The official Indiegogo description explains the film like this:

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Film Review: Nightcrawler (2014)

Copyright: Open Road Films
Civilization, since the dawn of humanity, was about many things, but it was also very much about blood and entertainment. Ancient Rome first comes to mind when we think about stuff like this, but honestly, cultures that were completely clean of any kind of gruesome entertainment ritual, event or practice are few and far between.

The instinct behind this drive is very understandable. Thanatos, as the opposite of Eros, the instinct of life, is the instinct of death, the thing that looks for entropy as the final and complete resting place and a sanctuary from the often overbearing existence.
In his film, Dan Gilroy, who wrote and directed Nightcrawler, takes a long, hard look at this need of ours in the 21st century. Our probes might be landing on comets, but inside of us, the urge to witness death didn’t diminish with the onset of the modern age. In fact, it got some brand sparking new allies.

In his two-decade career, Gilroy mostly wrote screenplays, and produced several known movies, some of which, like Freejack, aren’t exactly superb. But, for a first time director, Gilroy chose a scalding subject and presented it with a merciless narration and an awesome cinematography of LA covered by the darkness of the night.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Film Review: Summer of Blood

Summer of Blood is a film that can be described as a splatter horror written by Larry David. If this sounds like a compliment, it sounds correctly, because this film is probably one of the best horror comedies in 2014, especially if we consider that it was made on a super low (I’m guessing here) budget.

But, instead of Larry David, a man called Onur Tukel is the main motor behind the film, having written, directed and starred in it. Apart from David, I could see hints of Woody Allen (mainly in the notions of looser lusting attention from women) and other influences, but at the end it doesn’t matter where Tukel draws his inspiration.

The point is that he tapped the genre of conversational, socially awkward comedy with incredible success.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Crowdfunding push: PLEASED TO EAT YOU!

This is a short film about a lifeboat scenario that includes cannibalism. Oh, and it's a musical.

Naturally, I am very interested in any art form that covers isolation, gruesome death by starvation and the possibility of eating human flesh. But, when all of this is provided in a musical setting, a genre that definitely lacks cannibalism (among many other things), I have no doubt that this crowdfunding project needs to be supported. The official PLEASED TO EAT YOU! description states:

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Film Review and Ending Intepretation: Predestination

Copyright: Sony Pictures
My first association to Predestination was the movie Time Cop. Now, after I saw it, I feel like one of those people who, after hearing the word “Mars”, immediately things about the candy bar, not the planet. In the same fashion, Predestination has almost nothing to do with time cops running around the past busting crime before it happens.

Instead, it talks about personal growth and change in the setting that disposed of all the regular constraints of both time and matter. Michael and Peter Spierig, signed under the name of Spierig Brothers, made this film five years after their list project, Daybreakers, which didn’t impress me too much, mostly because of the bland characters it featured. Now, they are again experimenting with core science fiction ideas (Daybreakers was more about Sci-Fi than horror) but with a lot more success.

In their new story, based on a Robert A. Heinlein short piece, an agent working for a time traveling anti-crime organization hunts a man called the Fizzle bomber who continues to evade time alterations and manages to blow up more than 11,000 people in New York in 1975. The agent, known only as the Bartender, meets a man one night in a bar where he is working, and the man tells him he will tell him the most incredible tale in the world.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Neary's Void - A short movie by Dillon Schohr

When it comes to weird stuff happening in the desert, LA filmmaker Dillon Schohr is definitively not a stranger to short movies which feature these elements.

But, unlike his last desert film Alone, this time Schohr sets his piece into the realm of science fiction, but underline this with a good and very developed soundtrack, as well as some fine photography that uses the natural contrasts of this arid land. In his latest short film, story follows a man who witnesses a stranger doing something strange in the remote area.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Film Review: Interstellar

Copyright: Paramount Pictures
I don’t care about explaining worm hole or black holes, I don’t care about the reasons why a world is dying (that is why I can ignore ridiculous reasons like plant illnesses) or what preposterous plan is made up to save it. I love science fiction in every shape and form, but if it’s good, I can set aside any problems if a work of art built on solid foundations. This means that I do care about the characters and how they act in different situations, and how they grow and develop under these circumstances.

Here is the tragic thing about Interstellar and Christopher Nolan: he builds his characters meticulously, like a genetic engineer would work on his pet project in the most equipped lab in the world. Like a geneticist, he creates everyone’s narrative DNA brick by brick, making sure that they produce the strongest possible impact when they are brought to the world. But, there is a cruel touch that can be felt in that mixture, one that belongs to a cold, calculated demographic analyst and not an artist ready to himself begin a journey of exploration.

This Interstellar review isn’t about how Nolan made a bad movie. It’s about he made a perfectly tunned film that was designed to be liked, even worse, to be loved. For me, this is a terrific flaw, and to add salt to the wound, I think it was premeditated to the last miniscule detail.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Review and Ending Explanation: The Babadook

Copyright: Causeway Films
Being that 2014 is almost done, and I am not expecting any revolutionary new horror films, I can (almost) safely say that in my opinion, The Babadook is the best movie in this genre in the last 12 months. As a simple story, it delivers its punch right in the beating heart of terror with stunning precision, wherever that subconscious center might be.

Jennifer Kent directed this film, who is better known as an actress than a director. As a first time feature film, her directorial debut is pure horror shock and awe in the best possible way. Kent obviously understands art as a form of presenting content and emotion with as little noise or additional elements as possible. That is the reason why she made, first and foremost, an extremely elegant film that fits together like a brilliant architectural design. While I watched it, I had no inkling to fantasize about changing anything, and so far in this year, only Fury managed to lure me so effectively in its universe.

The Babadook offers a simple story about an emotionally tormented single mother Amelia, who is still haunted by the death of her husband on the eve of her giving birth to their son Samuel. Now, seven years on, Sam has a hard time fitting in with other children, and Amelia barely manages to balance her work and his needs. One night, she reads him a book called the Babadook, unknowing that it will summon a terrifying experience involving a shadowy creature with long pointy fingers and a top hat. Similar to Annabelle, the film bases its horror on children's accessories, in this case a pop-up book, and delivers a terrifying effect.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Film Review: Le Fear 2 - Le Sequel

Copyright: Jason Croot
Le Fear 2 - Le Sequel is a film about the troubles of making a film with no budget and some amounts of dispersed talent. In it, Jason Croot, who directed the film and came up with the initial idea, tells the story of Carlos, a man who wants to make a horror film (actually, his 23rd movie of his career). He receives a shady offer that will cover the financial element of his production, but on the first day of shooting, realizes that he actually got a trailer home on a parking lot.

Soon, characters like young Nigerian swindlers and nymphomaniac (and slightly psychotic) make-up artist enter his project, and Carlos decides to soldier on in spite of the fact that he doesn’t have anything and is making something very similar to absolutely nothing.

The main problem of the film is the fact that almost everything is a bit too long. This is seen in gags, character encounters and even individual dialogue lines; jokes and the punch lines are there, but they are blunted by this constant notion of a prolonged introduction. I realize that the director aimed for, let’s call it, a long narrative exposure as the part of the inherent nature of the film, but it just becomes tiresome after a while.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Crowdfunding push: CONCLUSIONS

CONCLUSIONS is a short film about suicide. While many already have a strong opinion on this subject, recent events that included well-known figures taking their life have shown that there are conflicting thoughts about this act.

Like art should, CONCLUSIONS explores the issue, but does this from a slightly different perspective. Its short summary states:

Monday, November 17, 2014

Film Review and Interpretation: Before I Go to Sleep

Copyright: Clarius Entertainment
Tackling selective and not-so-selective amnesia is a favorite topic for both thriller and comedy filmmakers. Christopher Nolan made cinematic history with Memento and defined almost a decade worth of thrillers, doing for amnesia-stricken characters what Usual Suspect did for the Unreliable narrator back in the late 90’s. Before I Go to Sleep movie delves into the same murky waters of loss of memory, but unlike Memento, it reached a much shallower place.

Before I Go to Sleep was directed by Rowan Joffe in 2014, who wrote some good screenplays like 28 Weeks Later, but didn’t make many films from his latest position. This lack of experience is telling, and Joffe didin’t struggle with his star cast, where the triad of Nicole Kidman, Mark Strong but especially Colin Firth, all produced great roles. Joffe, in spite of this, made a very lukewarm film, which also managed to come off as very unassertive in several key moments.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Film Review: These Final Hours

Copyright: These Final Hours
These Final Hours is a film that has the amazing power, for me at least, to anchor the viewer emotionally in its characters. As a doomsday tale, it delivers its punch to a very brittle place, where all the regrets and wrong decision slowly eat at people. When it is all finally over, there isn’t a chance to fix any of it, simply because the time left is measured in hours, not days or months. For James, the main character, there is only the possibility of decency in an environment that gave up on everything that doesn’t produce gratification in the next minute.

After all, in the film’s setting, everyone on planet Earth will be dead before the day ends.

A meteor hits the Atlantic Ocean, and it is one of the class of world killers. A shockwave of utter annihilation is heading across the globe, destroying everything in its path. No one can hide, nor run. The inhabitants of Australia got lucky in the sense that they get to receive it last, and can decide what they want to do with those final hours, at least those who don’t lose that chance to random violence that ravages the suddenly lawless world. James only wants to get to a party, where he can drink and do drugs unit he doesn’t feel anything. He leaves his pregnant mistress to link up with his regular girlfriend on the event, broken and beyond hope. But, on his path, he rescues a young girl named Rose, who only wants to get to her aunt.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Crowdfunding Push: The Criminal Audition

From the first sentence, The Criminal Audition seems like it has all that is needed for a cool movie. Its simple plot is original (to my knowledge) and instantly I started developing storylines set in its narrative, which is a sign of a great and expandable idea. The core concept of the film is this:

Friday, November 7, 2014

Film Review: Cold in July

Copyright: IFC Films
Like a kid sitting in a lap of an adult wearing an old fashioned bunny costume, there is something wrong with this film, but it is very hard to pinpoint what that thing is exactly. 

Like the mentioned image, it is also fascinating to watch. Sure, it doesn’t have a lot of direction when it comes to character development and it also isn’t timid about introducing completely new plot twists in random sections. But, in spite of all this, Cold in July somehow works.

Its story is about a man who kills an intruder and become entangled in a lot additional things which threaten his family and also beckon him to go on very dangerous weekend vacations. But, apart from presenting its development, I couldn’t quite say what this movie tries to be about. 

Ideas like fatherhood, family and generational debts creep around it, but not one of them can take up the prime spot. This Cold in July review will, just like my viewing of the film, lack a clear message, but I feel that this might not be such a bad thing, especially for the film (less so for my review).

Monday, November 3, 2014

Film Review: Life after Beth

Copyright: A24
There is an emerging trend that offers a new incarnation of the horror comedy genre. Unlike its last versions from the late 80’s, where much focus was placed on slapstick and gore, the new films present a weird social enclosure in which the focus of the characters remains almost untouched by the events of the film, no matter how bloody or strange they become. These films present their own version of the reality where things like complex explanations of trivial occurrences or personal awkwardness remain relevant for the characters even while a horde of zombies bang on their door.

Summer of Blood is a perfect recent example of this notion, while some of it can be seen in films like This is the End and John Dies at the End. But Life after Beth is simply soaking in it, and thanks to it, the film provides a hilarious experience which only intensifies as the plot progresses.

In the film, a young man named Zach is devastated by the accidental death of his beloved girlfriend Beth. He tries to find some consolation with her laid back parents, until he notices that Beth is back at their home. He confronts all three; while Beth seems unaware of her resurrection; both her mother and father are bent on keeping this appearance of their daughter hidden, and demand that Zach plays along. He accepts, realizing that something much bigger and stranger is happening around them. Still, he remains oriented towards his relationship with the decomposing Beth.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Crowdfunding Push: Vagina Bug

This short movie was already shot in August 2014, but now its author Michelle Dyer, who directed it, needs funds to compete its post-production. Vagina Bug describes its plot like this:

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Film Review: Fury

Copyright: Columbia Pictures
When you break it down, movies are here to provide us with a transient experience. For their duration, they are here to take us to a new place and present to us the things that are going on over there. The more sensations movies encompass, the better – on the simplest level, we see and hear things that are present on the screen. At its best, cinema allows us to feel things that are taking place over there.

Fury allowed me to experience a nauseating 130 minutes of World War II. During this time, I was completely transported to western Germany, where a tank crew is going through the last month of the war. Although it is clear that the Nazi Germany is sinking into the mud covered ground, elements of the SS are still refusing to lay down their arms.

The tank, called Fury, is led by Don Collier, an emotionally wrecked man and a perfect warrior. The rest of the crew also saw much action on two continents, and it shows. One day, their comrade is killed, and Norman, a trained clerk, comes to take its place, still fresh from boot camp. All along, the killing and the dying continues. Still, no matter what, Fury presses on.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Film Review: Wrong Turn 6: Last Resort

Copyright: 20th Century Fox
Wrong Turn 6: Last Resort takes a group of young people deep into the Appalachian Mountains, where one of them, a failed Wall Street worker called Danny, recently inherited an isolated hotel. Danny, who was adopted as a child, also learned that he was born in those parts, and still had living relatives. There, strange locals welcome them, and seem very interested in Danny. While other rest and fornicate, Danny begins to explore his roots in the wild, ungoverned land that begins behind the hotel (and later on, even in it).

Wrong Turn 6 is a splatter film that resolves mostly around gore and simple but gruesome murders. It follows Danny on his path of transformation, but female characters, mostly captured by solid performances by Sadie Katz and Aqueela Zoll, provide the real conflict of the film.

The interesting fact about this film is that is pretty much ignores many horror key points like the rise of resistance in the characters (there are only weak notions of this, but nothing like I would regularly expect) or the notion that some kind of help is on the way. It looks like Milev was cheering for the bad guys, and that he didn’t really want to harm them in any way.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Crowdfunding Push: The Girl from the Wilderness

Here is a short post-apocalyptic films set in the frozen, post-WW3 landscape that recently began their crowd-funding campaign. It is called The Girl from the Wilderness and its summary states:

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Film Review: The Salvation

Copyright: Nordisk Film
When I hear the term “Danish western”, there aren’t many associations that rush to my mind. After all, Denmark doesn’t sound as if it has much to do with cowboys in a wide and open prairie, unlike, for example, Italy. 

Instead, the region would be more easily associated with the culture of northern raiders called Vikings (which is a Nordic term for raiders, and not an ethnic group of people) the plundered much of coastal western Europe before they became one of the bastions of advanced socialized government systems. But, after a closer inspection, there is an underlying theme that could connect Vikings and the Wild West, and that theme is brutality.

Like in the years of legendary Viking leaders like Ragnar Lodbrok, the period of the western colonization of the US was bloody and dominated by the notion of might equals right. In The Salvation movie, the story opens with a joyful reunion: after many years, a Danish settler named Jon finally is reunited with his wife and child.

His brother sees them off after the meeting at a train station, and they take a horse carriage to their new home. In that carriage, however, an encounter sparks a series of ruthless events that culminate in death of pretty much everyone.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Down the Cape - Watch a Full Indie Comedy-Drama Online

Down the Cape is an independent film about growing up and drinking in the sun soaked parts of the globe when you’re young and not in school.

Its promotional description states that the story follows a group of friends from high school who travel to Cape Cod for a party weekend. Now on college, they started to create new identities, but their vacation forces their old roles to reappear. Accompanied by booze, the gang reevaluates their ideas about themselves (past, current and future) as well as their perception of the old friendships.

The film was created by Shane Michael Butler and at a first glance includes a solid sound design (the traditional nemesis of indie films), a camera operator who knows what he or she is doing and a modest subject. It also opens up with a nice, subtle joke (the garbage cans) which I found very reassuring. As a full movie available online, anyone who is remotely interested should take a look. Watch the full Down the Cape right here!

Find out more about Down the Cape on its Facebook fan page or Twitter account.

If you want me to feature your short (or long) film, contact me right here.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Film Review: Blue Ruin

Copyright:  VOD
The beginning scenes of this film are almost hypnotizing. In them, a drifter eats his meals from the garbage cans and sleeps on a deserted shore in his derelict car. He almost doesn’t speak, but then, something happens that makes him take out the plastic wrapped car battery from the trunk and puts it under the hood. With the car running, he goes off to seek revenge and finds plenty of it.

Blue Ruin movie acts as a strong presentation of human motives, but it does this in a way that the viewer doesn’t even notice it until the film has ended. Its main protagonist Dwight tells in one moment that he isn’t used to talking too much, although moments later he uttered only two sentences. He is broken and lost from the first moment, but he doesn’t go off to reclaim or reinvent himself. He goes, acting in the best intentions for his family, to ruthlessly kill people.

Director Jeremy Saulnier created Blue Ruin as if he dreamt the film many times in his life before he even got the chance to make it. His tenderness towards nature and his brutal honesty towards Dwight compliment incredibly well, providing beautiful shots of a small forest lake, while at the same time the audience awaits a multiple murder to take place nearby.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Film Review: The Lego Movie

Copyright: Warner Bros. Pictures
Lego bricks (and everything else in their cardboard boxes) are a brilliant toy. Apart from being very fun, it is also one of the truly unbound creative activities that kids can get into from a very early age. It’s only fitting that one of the finest toys in the world received one of the best children’s films probably since Wall-E.

The Lego Movie makes use of the fantastic opportunity to take advantage of the companies’ copyright rules, which make many characters from popular culture available and license free in the Lego universe. That is why this adventure includes characters like Superman, Han Solo, Green Lantern, Gandalf and Wonder Woman, while Batman fills one of the leading roles.

In its story, an ordinary Lego construction worker called Emmet, one day gets a call from destiny, and is placed in the situation where only he can stop an incredible danger from destroying his world, but also many other Lego worlds.

He teams up with a band of other Lego characters to put a stop to the plans conceived by an evil wizard Vitruvius, who plans to use his super weapon Kragle.

What comes after that is an awesome adventure, just like the movie’s theme song suggests. Because of that in this movie, yes, everything really is awesome. Emmet and his gang go through amazing scenery, including the Wild West and much stranger lands, while looking for a way to defeat Vitruvius. Here, the 3D tech presents in full glory all the Lego-based gimmicks used in the film. At the same time, all the A-list voice actors do an excellent job, complimenting the colorful characters perfectly.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Film Review: Deliver Us from Evil

Copyright: Screen Gems
Gritty streets of New York are filled with all kinds of dangerous people and random violence, but one night, two detectives encounter a very strange man, back from a tour of duty in Iraq. After they confront him about domestic violence, a fight ensues. The same evening, the duo learns that a woman has tried to throw her son to the lions in a zoo.

As they investigate, so does the story of Detective Ralph Sarchie begin to unravel, while the signs lead to a presence that might not be human. He meets a priest who claims the same thing, but Sarchie struggles with the idea as he investigates the rain soaked, dark corners of New York.

With this film, Scott Derrickson continues his streak of movies that don’t hit the mark. As a horror, Deliver Us from Evil meanders all over the place for 2014 (a year with many great horrors like Annabelle), presenting excellent segments (the own toy is the scariest thing in the film), but also including ridicules elements (two knives vs. a hatchet fight) that completely destroy the atmosphere he tries to build.

There are also strange editing mistakes (Sarchie bandage on his arm and generally, the way it continues to receive damage for no reason), which should have been caught in the editing room, having in mind that this is a movie with a substantial budget. None of these are a deal breaker, but they aren’t invisible either.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Film Review: 22 Jump Street

Copyright: Columbia Pictures/MGM
It took this film about three minutes to make me laugh really hard (Mexican Wolverine reference), and later on, it managed to do the same thing a few times more. The rest of the time, 22 Jump Street provides solid humor all around, which makes it one of the better comedies of 2014 so far.

Phil Lord and Christopher Miller didn’t spend too much time thinking about the set up of their sequel of the 21 Jump Street, a comedy about an odd pair of cops who go undercover to a high school to investigate a drug dealing ring. This time, they do the same thing on a college campus, and here the plot ends.

Apart from a similar (better said, equal) setting, the film also operates on the same platform of extreme difference between Schmidt and Jenko, this time in a frat house kind of environment. Once again, a weird drug called "WHYPHY" begins to circulate and cause deaths, so the pair have a new assignment. 

Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum kept holding on to their specific chemistry, and they are the sole reason (apart from a good, but not a spectacular script) why this carbon copy of a film continues to work.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Film Review - The Purge: Anarchy

Copyright: Universal Pictures
Some weeks ago, a police department had to respond to social media activity which suggested that a purge will take place in Louisville, underlining that no rise in criminal activity has taken place. A sheriff in Jacksonville had to do something similar when claims surfaced that a purge-like event is being organized there and set for August 31st.

Fortunately, there wasn’t a Louisville purge or a Jacksonville purge, but these incidents clearly show that people in the US, teenagers especially (who were mostly responsible for these hoaxes) are very drawn to the idea presented twice in two years by the movie The Purge: Anarchy.

The film is actually The Purge 2, and it is set in the same story environment as the movie The Purge, a relatively small horror piece made in 2013. Once again, the story revolves around the Purge, a national event in the near future of the US where a new government system has made all crime stop being illegal for 12 hours, once every year. This event is created as a means for people to purge themselves of bad feelings and thoughts, and many take up the opportunity.

This time, the protagonist isn't a family who desires to stay safe, but a former Sargent bent on finding one individual and ending their life. At the same time, several people just want to survive, but other forces have different plans for them on the night of the Purge.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Film Review: A Walk Among the Tombstones

Copyright: Universal Pictures
As a film where violence resonates through every level, A Walk among the Tombstones left a lasting impression on me. 

On the surface, the movie is a version of the story seen in 8MM, and also one which shares some similar elements with it – these include a search for sadistic assailants, snuff films (although less prominently) and a deeply distraught but content man who isn’t overly keen on keeping himself in the realm of the living.

Based on a novel, the main narrative of the film starts with Mathew Scudder, an ex NYPD cop who is now (or better said then, because the film is set in 1999) an unlicensed private investigator, being offered a job to finding men who kidnapped the wife of a non-connected drug trafficker, and then killed her in spite of the fact that ransom money was delivered. Scudder is first hesitant, but accepts after learning more details about the gruesome nature of the killing.

Scott Frank, who directed this film, only took on this role once before in his rich cinematic career, directing a solid thriller The Lookout. However, his experience in creating screenplays obviously helped him a lot for this project, because he managed to create a strongly uncensored but impacting work.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Film Review: Annabelle

Copyright: Warner Bros. Pictures
Creepy dolls strike again in Annabelle, proving that grown up people can only safely play with them if they are a character in Space Balls.  Unlike the newest sequel of Chucky, who prefers to do his own killing, in this film, Annabelle is a hellish doll with a lot more class and a more Hitchcock-like approach to terrifying its owners.

Set in the 70’s, the film opens with an ideal young couple who is expecting a baby. After an incident involving Manson family wannabe members, they begin to experience odd occurrences in their home, which all seem to be somehow connected to a vintage doll that they recently brought into their home.

John R. Leonetti directed the film in what can now be called the Horror Way of James Wan. This means that the film doesn’t employ CG techniques and relies heavily on slow camera pans, an action that takes place in several layers of depth and a creepy expectation underlined by music and sounds. At several occasions, Leonetti demonstrates an incredible ability to edit things to a nightmare level of terror (the scene of the little girl rushing into a closing door, for example), and his broader approach is very welcome in the world of handheld, shaky cameras.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

So bad it’s good: Bangkok Dangerous

Copyright: Lionsgate
Here is a prime example why Nicholas Cage became the stuff of memes in recent years. This film, made in 2008 is a great tribute to a unique autistic approach which he often takes in those projects that just don’t rock his boat.

Featuring a really bad haircut, which would be ideal for a hung over Columbian drug lord just waking up in 1982, Cage’s character Joe is a jaded assassin who travels to Bangkok for a series of hits. Joe obviously offers his services in bundle form and probably includes a discount in line of “buy three murders and get one free” deals. Being that he is an American, he needs someone local who can help him with deliveries and other similar petty things, so he hires Kong, a local young man who is willing to provide these services.

Pang brother directed this film, and there is definitely a bit of exotic flavor to their editing style, especially in those scenes which feature driving around the city (some even look a bit like a knockoff version of Only God Forgives). But, at the same time, there are plenty more location shots which look like a poorly made tourist advertisement which targets the middle age crowd looking to experience Thailand.

Monday, September 29, 2014

My Roommate: The Heavy Sleeper - A short thriller

A few months ago, I wrote and featured a short film called Alone. It was made by Dillon Schohr, a young US filmmaker, and set in a desert, post-apocalyptic landscape. Now, Schohr created a new film, this time setting it in a regular suburban environment, when a young man takes his new friend home, assuring her that his roommate is a heavy sleeper.

Once again, Schohr created a compact piece which this time plays on suspense, but the thing that really binds it all together is the fact that the main character is called Patrick and works in mergers and acquisitions. This alone should be enough of a hint, but there are others in this short thriller that you can watch below.

If you want me to feature your short film, contact me right here.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Film Review: Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

Copyright: Dimension Films
Frank Miller makes really good comics, and Sin City is no exception. First film, directed by Robert Rodriguez caught the world by surprise, but the second part seemed as if it might never get to the theaters at all (seem that way to me at least). Now, it’s here and it looks as if it spent last 9 years reading prison novels, drinking moonshine and working out using cans filled with concrete. The story of the new installment follows several narratives and it does this with the ease and confidence of a true champ.

Unlike the first film Sin City 2 seem more focused on the subtle (in Sin City terms) emotions, mainly loyalty and these ties (friendship, family or sexual love) that simply refuse to dwindle and die. It tells stories, including one about a woman who holds power over men, about a son who deems to reclaim respect and about frat boys who wanted to set homeless people on fire in the neighborhood where Marv drinks.

From the first moment, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For aim big and aim bloody. The interesting technique of black and white that are colored only for added emotional impact still works so well that I didn’t even noticed it until those colors remind me that I’m looking at a different kind of film. Rodriguez does wonders with gory violence and unbound, but still somewhat vintage sexuality, produced exclusively be Eva Green and her several erotically overcharged alter-egos.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Film Review: Edge of Tomorrow

Copyright: Warner Bros. Pictures
Tom Cruise fights aliens in a mechanized suit where one day replays itself over and over again.

Although the one-line plot summary cover the story top to bottom, this film is actually pretty good, mostly because of its brilliant editing. Cruise plays Major William Cage, a former PR guru turned public affairs officer who cozily follows an alien invasion of Earth from the position of a soldier who never saw any fighting. Unfortunately, he is ordered to take part in the invasion of Europe, the alien's main stronghold, and descends on a French beach along with the rest of the Alien D day attacking force.

He is killed immediately, and this is not a spoiler. Instead of going up to heaven to meet Elvis and Bruce Lee, Cage is back at the staging ground where he started his last day. He dies the second time around too.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Film Review: The Quiet Ones

Copyright: Lionsgate
As a twist on the old story “is he/she possessed or is there some other explanation”, the Quiet Ones drives on the same fuel as many other films, adding the obligatory “based on true events” mantra at its beginning.

In the story, a very motivated professor by the name of Joseph Coupland who dabbles in paranormal psychology looks for a cameraman who will aid him in his research. When he finds Brian, a willing young man to fill this role, he begins to tell his tale to the new recruit, as well as the entire audience.

In his care is a girl named Jane who is severely disturbed and suicidal, and who believes that an evil entity resides inside of her, enabling her to become violent, telekinetic and much worse. Coupland, on the other hand, is certain that her negative energy is producing all these occurrences, and is bent on proving it. When the community at Oxford decides to cancel his research, he moves his entire team, along with Jane and the new cameraman, to an isolated country house, ideal for research and terrible things happening to everyone.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Film Review: The Rover

Copyright: A24
When David Michôd created Animal Kingdom, I was truly impressed. This unspectacularly-looking crime thriller set in the contemporary Melbourne had a really disturbing feel about it, and I couldn’t put a finger on it. Its tense atmosphere, inhabited by cryptic yet totally understandable characters stayed in my mind for a long time, so naturally I was excited about seeing The Rover.

Partly, I expected something in line with Mystery Road, in the sense that the film would utilize the very familiar feel of the Australian outback, where tough people live in a hard land. The setting of the film, which takes place 10 years after an unexplained economic collapse, seems to further underline my expectations. Michôd is obviously not a big fan of anything that might look like oversimplification, we regularly see in other movies, especially when it comes to the thing that people feel. 

Because of this, The Rover isn’t a film about tough people. It’s a film about people who stopped being human in today’s standards a long time ago, but who still continue to live and breathe. Now, they are surrounded by violent deaths and total senselessness in any moral or philosophical way (on a second thought, maybe we are always surrounded by this). Eric is the main protagonist of the film, a loner who gets his car stolen by a small gang of men.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Watch "A Public Ransom" on Third Viewster Online Film Fest

No too long ago, I reviewed a small indie thriller called "A Public Ransom" directed by Pablo D'Stair. 

Although I wasn't overly impressed by the end result, I was impressed by the enthusiasm which has gone into making it, especially a very intriguing plot and a elaborate script. Now, the film is featured on the Third Viewster Online Film Festival and can be viewed online freely in the coming days. If you're interested in the early works of people like Jim Jarmusch and a minimalist neo-noir setting, you should check out "A Public Ransom".

Monday, September 8, 2014

Film Review and Ending Intepretation: Coherence

Copyright: Oscilloscope Laboratories
Simple plots and heavy physics was the combination that created the incredible film Primer. Not so long ago, its director Shane Carruth created Upstream Color, but his new science fiction film took a more symbolic turn (although it’s still an awesome film).

Coherence is a film that could have been perfectly in line with his older Carruth’s film. Its tale is extremely simple, and takes place during one night at a dinner party where old fiends converge to relax and catch up. Above them, an unusual comet is passing by, and its effects alter reality itself, as the guests soon begin to realize.

James Ward Byrkit made this film as his directorial debut, and he created something deeply impacting. By using a single house and its exteriors, he made due with a very solid acting crew that is, unfortunately, very far from Hollywood stardom (Maury Sterling is the most famous one in the cast, along with the veteran Nicholas Brendon). Maybe thanks to this fact, everyone had a point to prove, and they definitely did it with this movie. Coherence uses the paradox of the multiverse and the now very known (but rarely understood) thought experiment called the Schrodinger's cat.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Film Review: Night Moves

Copyright by Cinedigm
For a neo-noir, especially one dealing with home grown militants, Night Moves presents an unexpected setting. The film takes place in a beautiful countryside of the northern US, in tranquil pine forests, where everyone and everything seems peaceful, apart from the main characters, who boil with rage against modern society.

Jesse Eisenberg Dakota Fanning (who was great as a sarcastic but very young and ultimately confused Dena) and Peter Sarsgaard present three characters who desire to make a difference when it comes to the humanities attitude toward nature. Their means, unfortunately, is eerie similar to the one used by Timothy McVeigh, although their targets differ – the eco-militants in Night Moves plan to blow up a hydroelectric dam, seeing it as a monument of nature’s destruction.

One of the most important things that the movie does lies in its depictions of the characters as a part of that world. They are not lunatics or sadist, and they are definitely not broken inside. We as an audience don't get to see how they became what they are, but in their predetermined mindset, they are very stable and ideological secure (to a point). This makes them dangerous, without making them some kind of emotional strangers with whom we can't relate to.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Film Review: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Copyright: 20th Century Fox
This movie is one exceedingly solid piece of cinema. From the first moment director Matt Reeves dabbles with risk by placing the viewers in the shoes (figuratively speaking) of the apes, a species who weren’t decimated by the outbreak of a powerful fly epidemic a decade earlier which practically annihilated humanity.

The apes, led by Cesar, create a vibrant society with different roles and tasks, as well as a completely gestural communication. A chance encounter with a group of human survivors sets these groups on a collision path.

 Reeves chose to show his viewers the apes before he showed them the humans, and this move pays off really well. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, unlike many others set in a post-human world, excels in showing the Earth after our current civilization was wiped out and transported to the past. It doesn’t show a crumbling substitution of a former system, but a crude blossom of something completely new.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Mis-Drop - A short movie by Ferand Peek

Sci-fi shorts are often a proving ground for a CGI oriented crowd, but this film presents something really different. At first, I was doubtful about its length (13 minutes for a short piece is a lot of time) and its ability to hold my attention. But, only after the first two minutes I was hooked. Mis-Drop uses the well known "planetary drop" scenario, which is a staple of the military science fiction genre, and does it with a twist that involves a clever new perspective point. Thanks to good writing, the thing which impressed me the most was the fact that the background chatter provided an awesome reference frame for the entire piece by setting the atmosphere as well as the dynamic moments in the plot. Ferand Peek did a great job with this piece.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Film Review: A Public Ransom

Movies have this distinct problem that the need to be visual. Even if your entire film takes place in one large hall, and all buildings are drawn out on the floor, you have to show all of this. Talking about a movie isn’t the same as creating it, and here lies the crucial problem with A Public Ransom.

If you turn off the video part of this film, and just listen to the audio track, you would probably get the same experience as anyone who watched it. It seems to me that it was conceptualized without making the distinction between a radio drama and a motion picture. Here, there is no motion, except in the narrative sense. Its actors stand around and seem as if awkwardly positioned laptop cameras filmed them.

And, of course, they talk. In A Public Ransom, the talking doesn’t end, and serves the purpose of transmitting information in and continues stream, interrupted on several occasions by music tracks. The entirety of the film is in dialogs, and they don’t hold up.

The story is set around Steven, a writer, who sees a poster depicting a missing child and a telephone number. He meets up with a character named Bryan, who claims that he kidnapped the kid, and will release its captor if Steven produces 2000 dollars.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Alone - A short movie by Dillon Schohr

Dillon Schohr is a filmmaker from LA who made a short post-apocalyptic short film about a lone man trekking through the desert. The film features a very good soundtrack which works perfectly with the barren desert scenery. For me, its biggest drawbacks are an ambiguous storyline which kind of works against it in the end, as well as the final montage. Still, Alone is an interesting short piece, and you can watch it here.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Film Review: Dust of War (2013)

Copyright: Dust of War (2013)
Dust of War is an action adventure that works perfectly in concept. In a distant future, an alien invasion decimated our planet, and now, warring tribes fight over dominance while the mostly unseen, yet much feared alien masters pull the strings. A girl called Ellie is the key for the salvation of the entire humanity, but she is being held in a camp controlled by a ruthless warlord. Two mercenaries are sent on a covert mission to save her from a very unpleasant future, and give man a fighting chance.

Andrew Kightlinger, a veteran of several short features, directed Dust of War as his first feature length film. It’s obvious that Kightlinger worked diligently on the screenplay and polished it to action perfection. Every known and needed element is present in this film, starting with the damsel in distress.

Also, almost every imaginable post-apocalyptic character is in the script, and even the main antagonist called the General has two separate henchmen lieutenants that slowly build up their unique brand of evilness, and are bound to perish in two distinct but gruesome ways. Able, the main mercenary is quiet and lethal, while his older, cynical partner is everything but quiet. There is even a Native American tracker in the film!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Film Review: Godzilla (2014)

Copyright: Warner Bros. Pictures
This is a movie which I get, and at the same time I am left wondering if I truly get in the way its creator shaped it. A few years back, Gareth Edwards directed Monsters, a monsters flick, which really wasn’t about monsters at all. In the same fashion Godzilla 2014 really isn’t about Godzilla.

Somehow, I think that this movie is mostly about large-scale things that happen behind actors back, way beyond in the distance. This feeling of “destruction is so large that even those miles away are affected” is interesting, and Edwards really didn’t want to get rid of it (it was present in Monsters too, but everybody thought it was due to a small budget). In this film, he can show whatever he wants, but he still decided to hold back on destruction as long as possible. Godzilla 2014 can even be called a destruction tease.

The story of the film is full of people who just about manage to do something before everything gets annihilated by ancient monsters. Its characters are fluid, and their tasks get filled in when they arrive at a certain place. For example, Aaron Taylor-Johnson character Ford starts out as a loving father and a husband, then he is an angry son who turns into a reluctant explorer, then a bomb technician, a random child protector and savior, followed by a railway scout and finally he transforms into a special forces member.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Film Review: The Monuments Men

Copyright: 20th Century Fox
This wasn't the way to make a war film, or any other kind of film. The Monuments Men just doesn’t know how to connect the audience with its characters or its topic, although George Clooney tries desperately to do this. But, he does it by the old Hollywood playbook, first by introducing a merry band of men that are to form an Allied unit in the last stage of the 2.

World war, tasked with the protection of cultural treasures of Western Europe. Then Clooney, playing the lead character and directing at the same time (when you’re good looking you can do anything), further develops his Dirty Dozen Artists and Museum Curators, giving us the French guy, the Matt Damon guy, the Funny guy and the Cynical guy to somehow bind us to them.

This doesn’t work. There are too many of them, and it doesn’t matter that Bill Murray and John Goodman play them, they aren’t relevant enough to become important. Even worse, Clooney sends some of them to a secret mission in the German occupied France, and naturally this adds to the incoherence of the film.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Film Review: Dead in Tombstone

Copyright: Universal Pictures
I must say that I didn’t have very high expectations from this film. One look at the poster is enough for a decent plot summary, which includes a bandit coming back from hell to seek revenge on those who betrayed him.

But, honestly, I must say that I was pleasantly suppressed by the result. The director Roel Reine, who is no stranger to these kinds of films, quickly realized what the strong suits of this movie are: Danny Trejo and Mickey Rourke. First one plays Guerrero De La Cruz, the outlaw who gets killed and meets Lucifer, played by Rourke. With these two in a movie, it’s not possible to have a total flop.

Dead in Tombstone relies primarily on the western part of the story. The horror part, portrayed mainly by Rourke and his depiction of a soul-greedy Satan, staggers behind, and the action is mostly represented by gun, knife and fist fights. The production values of the film very solid for a DVD movie, and it was mostly filmed in Romania. The scenery is very nice, and the good people of Romania even built a little town in the prairie, which gets gradually destroyed in the course of the day which De La Cruz spends back among the living.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Melody of Love (TV series)

Copyright:  KBS1
Daytime soaps long time ago became a world trend from many TV networks. South Korea, with its expanding film production and many promising names (Joon-ho Bong and his Snowpiercer is first that comes to mind) is also a big producer of TV shows in this format. Melody of Love is a perfect example. This soap opera focuses on characters and their emotional relationships, but also includes a lot of music as a background story.

The storyline of this South Korean daily TV show drama follows the lives of several young people. They are all in their twenties and trying hard to begin their real adulthood. But, this turbulent period is a challenge for them, both in their professional and personal lives.