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.