Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Film Review: Jupiter Ascending (2015)

Copyright: Warner Bros. Pictures
In many ways, this movie is similar to Kim Jong-un. Sure, he looks clumsy, fat and has a weird haircut that makes him look even fatter, so it’s really easy to make fun of him (unless you’re living in North Korea or working in Sony).

Jupiter Ascending, just like the chubby Kim, also practically begs to be ridiculed. It is also dumb and over the top in its decisions, probably thanks to a hugely inflated sense of self-worth which is most likely present in both entities.

But, unlike the petit dictator, Jupiter Ascending is not malicious. In the cinematic reference space, for me this means that it does not practice any form of false advertisement. It presents itself just like it truly is and does not use any tricks during its entire length that would show otherwise. In fact, it is a fairy tale, like the ones Lana and Andy Wachowski use to make when they forever changed the movie industry with the Matrix (the first movie, not the horrid series that followed, not counting Animatrix).

Monday, April 27, 2015

Film Review: Spring (2014)

Copyright: XYZ Films
Spring movie will not work as a horror film, it dawned on me almost from the first moment the main character Evan enters a conversation with his friends in a bar and right after his mother dies.

Immediately, in a very self-aware and awkward way, the script is trying to convey the idea that it is very much in control of its inherent horror tropes and ideas. It will not cater to our expectation as a horror-loving audience, it body proclaims through witty dialogues and by sending its main character to a part exile, part road trip to Italy.

There, Evan meets a mysterious, but beautiful girl with whom he shares a love of being a smart-ass. But, in the distance of their growing relationship, something is amiss and it involves monsters, but also hurt puppy feelings. Here, the focus of the film is much more honest and relevant. As Even tries to get laid, but then not much later, tries to hold onto the woman of his life, the narrative structure of the film is solid.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Crowdfunding Push: Spectrum

Mystery movies are probably one of the most engaging film genres. At the same time, they are also a genre that is notoriously hard to pull off without seeming goofy, predictable or plain bad. A new IndieGoGo crowdfunding campaign is looking to develop a surreal mystery film that will from the get-go embrace its funnier side. This film is called Spectrum and its official page states:

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Film Review: A Most Violent Year (2014)

Copyright: A24 Films
Both interior and exterior of this film are about control. Inside of its plot, the main character Abel Morales, superbly played by Oscar Isaac, is a young New York businessman who desires to expand his heating oil enterprise. But, he chose to do this in 1981, one of the most violent, crime-stricken years in the history of New York. At the same time, his delivery trucks start to get hijacked, often involving violent attacks on the drivers while the same danger begins to gradually cross over into his private life.

In spite of this, Morales is determined to stay in control and do not stray from the path of doing business legally, even though his wife Anna, played by Jessica Chastain, continually pushes for other alternatives, some of which involve crime figures.

On the outside, J. C. Chandor directed this film by also providing it with a large level of precision and control. Like his miniature masterpiece All is Lost, Chandor has a talent for making compact cinematic pieces that are tightly wrapped, but still manage to feel very natural and organic.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Coming Soon - Monsters: Dark Continent

A few years back, when Monsters came out, it really made an impact on me as a slow-moving, indie drama/social commentary set in a very imaginative science fiction world. Now, Monsters: Dark Continent takes place a decade later when the alien infection spread to the rest of the world.

This time the plot is set in the Middle East, where a US army fights both an insurgency and the aliens at the same time. I'm hoping that some of the same grim feel and subtle US foreign policies metaphors that the original included will be present in this part as well.

Tom Green is directing the film as his first full-length piece, which comes out today, on April 17, in the US theaters. Check out the trailer for Monsters: Dark Continent below.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Film Review - Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief (2015)

Copyright: HBO Documentary Films
For a religion that believes in weird aliens and events that include dropping nuclear bombs into volcanoes full of dead bodies 70 million years ago, Scientology can sure be much grounded in the present time and things like lawsuits and harassment.

In this documentary by Alex Gibney, the same religion/corporation/cult is shown through the perspective of those who have left it over the years. While this might seem like a narrative which offers only a single vantage point to an issue, as the documentary proceeds, it becomes clear why David Miscavige, Tom Cruise and all others who might represented Scientology declined to appear in the film.

Generally, Scientology can be perceived as a single man’s desire to find wealth, power and personal emotional and psychological healing through the same endeavor. This man is L. Ron Hubbard, a sci-fi writer who transformed his fiction into pseudo-psychotherapy, and then transformed it into a religion.

While the tone of the film is very somber and dark, everything about Hubbard to me seem really uplifting and energetic, in spite of his obvious serious mental issues. Here, the documentary shines in depicting an emotionally extremely unbalanced person making up total nonsense and then channeling it into a system to be sold to others.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Film Review: The Dark Valley/ Das finstere Tal (2014)

Copyright: Films Distribution
I’m pretty certain that almost any Dark Valley review will conclude that Austria and neo-westerns actually go pretty well together, in spite of the fact that this combo at first sounds likes a beginning of a really bad joke that few people will even get. 

But, just like the militant outlook on life or we-took-some-gold-from-some-really-bad-people-and-still-don’t-want-to-give-it-back mindset that are still apparently lurking in the depths of the region’s nations collective unconscious (for me, the film seems like it is actually located more in Switzerland that Austria, which was anything by decentralized in that period), but are rarely (if ever) present in any open discourse, this film also deal with things that are apparent and those which are dark and hidden.

The Dark Valley (Das finstere Tal in original) opens by showing that it is really easy to live however you want if you’re in the 19th century and located in a remote, almost unknown valley in the Alps region. There, a village is run by the Brenner clan, a single family whose sons are the only ones who can carry firearms. One day, a mysterious stranger bearing a photographic camera arrives in the village with the purpose of making some photos. The Brenner brothers agree and gradually, winter sets in, meaning that no one can leave the village until spring.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Coming Soon: Ex Machina (2015)

Copyright: A24 Films
For me, the most important thing about Ex Machina is its writer/director Alex Garland. Garland already proved himself as a great writer in films like Sunshine and 28 Days Later.

Now, he is making his directorial debut in a story about a reclusive computer genius who summons a younger computer genius named Caleb to his mountain home. There, Caleb discovers a synthetic life form called Ava that might or might not be fully self-aware, sparking the plot of this compact-looking sci-fi thriller.

Ex Machina comes out in the US on the 10th of April and you can watch its trailer below.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Film Review: ’71 (2014)

Copyright: StudioCanal
Northern Ireland during the Troubles was undoubtedly a horrible place to live in, but now, decades later, it provides a fantastic setup for a thriller. Like the Shadow Dancer which came out in recent years, ’71 is bleak and brutal, but unlike the previously mentioned drama, has a lot bigger action flavor to its thriller core.

In 1971, a young British recruit by the name of Gary Hook arrives in Belfast; a city divided by red bricks and spilled blood. Gary does not seem like a violent man or someone who desires to become involved in local politics in any possible manner. Instead, he is there to do a job.