Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Crowdfunding push: The Price of Love

In this crowdfunding campaign called The Price of Love, a documentary examines the harsh nature of immigration laws currently in place in the UK. The film's official Indiegogo page states:

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Review and Ending Explanation: Whiplash (2014)

Copyright: Sony Pictures Classics
Amazed by this film from the first moments, I quickly realized that Whiplash movie is neither about J.K. Simmon’s great acting nor the drama that occurs between his character and the pupil character played by Miles Teller. Instead, Whiplash is about the consuming power of music and the need music plants in those who hear its calling the strongest.

Damien Chazelle, a newcomer to the directorial role, made this film in a very bold way. It includes a lot of jazz, but not in a way that will be interesting to those who think they love this music genre, but prefer to listen to it while they meet friends for a drink in a local classy bar. Instead, Chazelle focuses on the hard mechanics of music seen through the eyes of the students in a Shaffer Conservatory in New York.

There, a student named Andrew wants to become the best drummer in the world. A teacher named Fletcher, played brilliantly by J. K. Simmons, runs a studio band and Andrew is soon desperate to become its primary drummer. But Fletcher method resides on torture, humiliation and mocking his band members.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Coming Soon: White God (Fehér isten)

White God (Fehér isten in original) is a strange film that looks beautiful, original and very unnerving. This Hungarian surreal drama was directed by Kornél Mundruczó and it follows a story of a little girl who is torn away from her dog called Hagen thanks to a unjust government regulation. Abandoned, Hagen decides (maybe decides isn’t the right word) to start a revolution against human oppressors. The film did exceedingly well at Cannes Film Festival and now it’s getting a release on March 27.

Watch White God trailer below.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Film Review: Chappie (2015)

Copyright: Columbia Pictures
So far, Neill Blomkamp’s films weren’t works of art that felt completely organic to me.  When District 9 was hailed as the future of a gritty, dark, socially sentient science fiction, I wasn’t convinced that it truly had a real message to transmit. Instead, it seemed to me that Blomkamp figured out how his work can seem deep and meaningful while it had nothing new to say, apart from the fact that people tend to be racists and savage in many different circumstances.

His new film Elysium was, for me, the crown evidence for this theory. In this awkward mixture of Hollywood A-list actors and high-budget CGI, Blomkamp delivered a shallow story that neither sold its drama nor its action. It was District 9 all over again, but it lacked the charm of a small production set in a real exotic, turbulent location.

This is why I was even less excited when I heard that the same director was making a movie called Chappie. To me, it seemed like he decided to retreat even further back into his original breakthrough film and I doubted it could result in something interesting. I was completely wrong about that.

In Chappie, Blomkamp dug deep to reconnect with a totally personal narrative, free of forced social commentary. In his new film, a tale of a police robot that gets hijacked and reprogrammed so it develops full consciousness, is funny and fun, but still managed to deeply resonate with something in me which differentiates between a living thing, and those things that are not alive (or so I judge them).

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Film Review: Black Sea (2014)

Copyright: Universal International Pictures
If submarine movies taught us anything, it is that the bottom of a sea is a great place to die in many different and colorful ways. Starting with drowning, exploding and suffocating, there is no doubt that submarines in films usually present steel coffins in which people rarely experience anything nice.

Black Sea brings about a similar idea, but places it outside of a military context. In its plot, there is no World War II or even a Cold War. Instead, the film takes place in the present day, where a washed out (pun not intended) salvage submarine captain called Robinson loses his job and then accepts a shady offer of taking a boat to the bottom of the Black sea near the Georgian coast, where allegedly a German U-boat sub has lain since 1941, full of dead German submariners, but also 2 tons of gold bars.

Robinson agrees, takes a crew of Westerners and Russians and sails to the location, where he needs to get the gold, but also dodge the Russian Navy. In no time at all, the whole idea of how all subs are submariner’s coffins begins to take its familiar form.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Coming Soon: Man From Reno

Directed by Dave Boyle, Man from Reno is a thriller about two separate stories set in California, connected by the notion of one particular Asian country – first one is an random road accident that includes a sheriff from a small town and a Japanese man, while the other follows a fiction writer from Japan who travels to San Francisco to escape the media pressure of her new book release.

From the trailer, it looks like Boyle created a minimalist thriller with a strong sense of a compact mystery. Currently, the film is hitting the festival circuit, but I’m guessing it will find a wider release date very soon.

Check out Man From Reno trailer below.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Film Review: Wild (2014)

Copyright: Fox Searchlight Pictures
At some moments in this film, I felt that something very wrong is about to happen. For example, a woman all alone in a desert is about to jump across some large rocks. I was almost compelled to say out loud to the main character of this film:

“What are you doing, haven’t you seen the 127 Hours? Keep it up and you’ll have to cut off your hand with a pocket knife!”

This alone is a big cinematic achievement. In it, its director Jean-Marc Vallée made a devious pack with Nick Hornby, who wrote this screenplay. With Hornby’s talent for making sad tales engaging to a point where Disney went when they killed off Bambi’s mom, Vallée created an inspirational story which doesn’t state the obvious and doesn’t pamper us in happy-go-lucky feelings. Not all the way, at least.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Coming Soon: The Gunman

Although Sean Penn isn't an actor who is immediately associated with action films, he looks perfectly suitable in The Gunman. The effectively named film is hitting theaters on March 20th and seems like an engaging spy-gone-rogue action thriller. Aside from Penn, the cast is led by Idris Elba, Javier Bardem, and Ray Winstone, and directed by Pierre Morel, who made the first film in the Taken trilogy (he was dearly missed in the lukewarm Taken 3).

Check out the Gunman trailer below.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Crowdfunding push - Extinction: Prologue

A new post-apocalyptic short film is looking for crowdfunding help in realizing its vision of a deserted and destroyed planet Earth. The film’s Indiegogo page states:

Twenty-five years after a cataclysmic event killed most life on Earth, a lonesome wanderer discovers an abandoned housing complex in the middle of a forest. There he meets another survivor – a weird old man who constantly talks about a long-lost friend called "Matthew". When the hermit is willing to share his greatest treasure, the wanderer decides to stay for a while. However, there is more to this strange place than meets the eye, since the apocalypse unleashed something that was hidden for a very long time...

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Film Review: What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

Madman Entertainment
The combination of Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi is obviously something that continuous to make pure comedy gold for more than a decade now. Although these guys are obviously multi-talented, things like What We Do in the Shadows underline that their humor skills are simply incredible.

Set in Wellington in New Zealand, this mockumentary follows the lives of four vampires who live there. Every one of them comes from a different era, but Viago, a former German dandy, mainly acts as the camera crew’s host and narrator. His vampire friends/roommates are more focused on other things, mainly drinking blood and finding ways to get into new and hip clubs and bars (they have to be invited in, of course). When a new vampire, a local by the name of Nick enters their small crew, things start to change and get even weirder.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Film Review: Tusk (2014)

Copyright: A24 Films
It is rare to see a film where the crucial moment of failure is clearly visible and easy to identify. For me, Tusk is without a doubt one of these films, which was blessed with big potential, only to see it destroyed by a single miscalculation.

Kevin Smith directed Tusk, partly I believe, as his way of showing everyone that he really doesn’t care about what other people think is a good movie plot. In it, he tried to connect apparently random things which hold absolutely no intrinsic terror in them, like walruses and Canada and mold them into a horror tale.

As his means of delivery, he chose body horror, a genre that is even at the best of times hard to pull off and often in recent history, ended up as disastrous movies. Tusk continues this trend.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Crowdfunding push: Bad Acid

Mixing hard drugs and horror tales already sounds like a good idea, but when you throw a washed-out hypnotist in the mix, you get the basic outline of a very promising short film called Bad Acid. The plot of the film goes like this:

Marvin Maskelyn is a hypnotist and magician whose success has come and gone leaving him a bitter divorcee with nothing in the bank and a penchant for getting stoned. After a performance that went from bad to bloody awful, Marvin acquired a black eye but lost his beloved prop of a genie lamp. Visiting an antique dealer friend who pities him, Marvin is given an antique lamp with a chequered past and a secret stash of LSD blotters within. With nothing left to lose, he takes one.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Review and Interpretation: Maps to the Stars (2014)

Copyright: Entertainment One
David Cronenberg is clearly very smart, but this special kind of intelligence of his allows him to examine both the current and future world. Back in 1983 he envisioned a TV audience glued to the scenes of death and torture, backed up by a weird financial system which provides the same entertainment to the masses for profit and kicks. Today, in the era when burnings and beheadings present the main fuel for global Breaking News segments, Cronenberg emerges as a dark prophet of our own even darker nature.

In Maps to the Stars movie, he gutters the notion of child celebrities and the wider arena of Hollywood showbiz. The story of this truly scary film begins with a young girl arriving in Los Angeles, apparently shielded by total anonymity. In the same town, Benjie Weiss, a child actor and a superstar is on a strict sobriety regime enforced by his team of parents and agents, in spite of the fact that he is only 13 years old. Of course, this doesn’t stop him from being a total egocentric jerk.