Tag Archives: 2010

Review of Shutter Island (2010)

15 Sep

Shutter Island (2010) is a thriller/mystery/horror movie, based on a the novel of the same name by Dennis Lehane.

Directed by Martin Scorcese (Hugo (2011), I Call First (1967)).

Written by Laeta Kalogridis (Pathfinder (2007), Alexander (2004)).

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Max von Sydow, Jackie Earle Haley, Michelle Williams, Elias Koteas, Patricia Clarkson and others.

We start with Mark Ruffalo and Leonardo DiCaprio on a ship. They are obviously in front of a green screen, an effect used more than once in the movie. But it actually works, because it invokes the feeling of rear projection, which looks both fake and charming.

Another aspect that plays into the 40’s thriller mood is the awesome score, compiled from various modern classical musical pieces, that are really kind of over-the-top and used in a very tongue-in-cheek way. These are all basically gimmicks, but I don’t mind it, because they’re not spoofing Golden Age Hollywood, they’re creating the atmosphere those movies bring.

I don’t really remember when was the last time I saw cinematography this amazing and beautiful in a horror/thriller picture, The Shining comes to mind, that was a long time ago. To be fair, both The Shining and this are quite the high-budget productions. Shutter Island is essentialy a B-movie on an A-budget. But the money put aside, this is obviously the work of a master filmmaker, who knows how to make a movie just „flow”.

The acting is also great, Ruffalo in the few last years has done some really solid work and this is one of those times, DiCaprio is as always solid, Ben Kingsley, who has a habit of appearing in not-so-great movies as a generic villain, actually is great here, maybe the best performance in the movie.

So Ruffalo and Di Caprio are detectives sent to an asylum to investigate a disappearance of a patient and as the investigation goes on, less and less becomes clear. DiCaprio’s state of mind also becomes less certain. He has creepy dreams, which have some cool and weird imagery.

The movie has its problems, though.  Around the middle, the movie starts becoming a bit too chaotic and muddled. The biggest problem might be that the movie is quite predictable, we’ve seen this story done before, but this is the best version of it. It’s done so masterfully, that you’re more interested in the execution of the story, the way the build-up is constructed, than its rather obvious conclusion. So if you watched the trailer and thought „I know exactly what’s going to happen,” give it a try anyway, the ride is more enjoyable than just waiting for the destination.

Since it feels so much like a late 40’s film noir, I almost wish that it was shot in soft black & white, but on the other hand, the cinematography is so colorful and beautiful, you don’t want to take that away from this movie. I have to mention that among other great shots, there’s an amazing tracking shot, I won’t reveal what exactly that is, because it would be a spoiler, but the great thing about it is, that it’s not just a technical showcase, it actually works to the movie’s dramatic benefit.

Overall, a great thriller, might be more eye-candy and less an interesting and intricate plot, but for me it didn’t matter. Recommended .

“Shhh, don’t talk so loud, anything more than a loud whisper might make my body to crumble to pieces… Also, have you met my son? His name is Gollum.”

Review of Insidious (2010)

25 Aug

Insidious (2010) is a horror/thriller/drama film, focusing on a boy entering a comatose state to become a vessel for beings from an astral dimension.

Directed by James Wan (Saw (2004), Death Sentence (2007)).

Written by Leigh Whannell (Dead Silence (2007), Saw II (2005)).

Starring: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Leigh Whannell, Ty Simpkins, Lin Shaye, Angus Sampson, Barbara Hershey, Andrew Astor and others.

This is an interesting movie, it plays on clichés, at first it seems like the most generic horror flick involving a creepy kid and like the most usual family ever, but throughout the movie I kept guessing what is going to happen and most of the times I was wrong. We start out with this normal family living their normal lives in a fairly normal house. Some subtle creepy stuff happens and one of the two kids goes into coma. I thought he’s going to come out of it and be different, but no.

We switch to 3 months later, now the son is in coma at home. And then some seriously creepy shit starts happening, like someone starts speaking through the baby monitor, the way it is done is insanely effective. The movie is very well shot, like it changes from the completely static shots when the characters are out of the house or someone else is in the house to this handheld slightly zooming style when they’re alone in the house and spooky things happen. This adds so much to the mood and a lot of times there are cool continuous shots, following the characters.

Probably best scene of the movie is a “fuck you!” to all the haunted house movies. Soon after all the weird shit starts, the wife says that the house is freaking her out and they have to leave. Cut to: they’ve moved out. It’s almost funny how sudden that is. However, despite the characters thinking so, it’s not the house that’s haunted, as it soon turns out, it’s the kid.

Patrick Wilson in my opinion is a perfect everyman actor, who seems like this very normal guy, but has more to him, so he’s not bland. His character is the one, who has to pull back the movie to earth, after things, like an old woman delivering a speech about demons, happen. He really doesn’t go for all the crazy ghost talk, because he hasn’t seen much, but Wilson plays it so that he doesn’t seem like an unsupportive asshole.

The things the wife sees soon stop being corner-of-the-eye sort of stuff and become full on plain sight shit, like people coming at her or a kid running around the house. I usually don’t like jump-scares and this movie has them in spades, but they’re executed really well and aren’t false, when they happen, they startle the characters and are real scary things and not a douchebag friend sneaking up on you or a cat running across the hall.

The last half hour of the movie has sort of an A Nightmare On Elm Street feel to it and ends on a cliffhanger, but I doubt if we’ll ever see a sequel, not that I want it. The whole movie feels like a very dark fairy tale. In an age of forgettable, bland horror movies, this is actually fairly original and stylish and not afraid to be kind of ridiculous.

Overall, a really cool, suspenseful and at times legitimately scary movie. One of the best horror flicks, you’ll find in the PG-13 section of the genre. If you can have your horror without gratuitous violence, nudity and exploitation, recommended.

“Honey, look what our son drew. Do you think there’s something wrong with him?”
“You’re damn right, there’s something wrong with him, he’s a fucking artist!”
“No, I mean, do you think he needs therapy or something?”
“Military school is what he needs, woman!”

 

Review of Repo Men (2010)

22 May

Repo Men (2010) is a sci-fi/action/thriller film based on the novel The Repossession Mambo by Eric Garcia.

Directed by Miguel Sapochnik (House (2004 TV), Awake (2012 TV)).

Written by Garrett Lerner (LAX (2004 TV), Boston Public (2000 TV)) and Eric Garcia.

Starring: Jude Law, Forest Whitaker, Alice Braga, Liev Schreiber, Carice van Houten, John Leguizamo and others.

Say you need a new heart, right? Where do you go? To a corporation which issues brand new mechanical hearts. Sounds awesome, but they cost a shitload of money. Not a problem you can just do monthly payments like it’s a car and here comes the good part. If you don’t pay, they come and cut the fucking heart right out of your chest. ‘Live forever on mechanical organs’ boner is gone.

This a cool sci-fi action movie starring Jude Law as a bad-ass. You know, sometimes he’s a lanky British douche with a receding hairline and sometimes he is awesome. Thankfully this movie is the case. He works for this company and he is the one who goes to get the body parts back. Yes, you guessed it, it’s the age-old „guy works for a company and then is forced to go against it” type of scenario, but at least the company is an interesting one.

Liev Schreiber is like the head of the company and he is just so good at playing this total douchebag asshole, I loved him. On the other hand Forest Whitaker seems a bit miscast as Law’s partner and pal.

The city design is rather cool, it has a Blade Runner vibe about it, but then there is the suburban area where Law’s character lives with his son and wife that is just a bitch for no reason, she has no other characteristic other than being a bitch towards him.

The movie also has some dark comedy elements, which worked very well. The action is just great, especially the last fight scene. It has a decent amount of gore, mostly CG though. And in one utterly ridiculous scene I learned that if you stick you’re hands into another person’s abdomen, there no risk of infection and other bad shit as long as you glue the entry cut shut afterwards.

If not for the most idiotic kind of possible ending I would have totally loved the movie. That is the thing, you will be entertained throughout the movie, but then you’ll leave it with a bitter aftertaste, because you’ll be disappointed. Most critics have shat upon this movie, but I enjoyed watching it way too much to do that. I think it was a great action movie that didn’t take itself too seriously and also had an interesting premise.

Overall, incredibly entertaining and somewhat disappointing, but definitely worth to see Jude Law kicking ass. Recommended.

Pictured: Before Battleship Hollywood did another board-game adaptation. They just didn’t call it Operation.

Review of Bare Knuckles (2010)

8 Nov

Bare Knuckles (2010) is a straight-to-DVD sports/drama/action film.

Directed by Eric Etebari (Expulsion (2011 Short)), who is better known as an actor, as this is his feature-length directorial debut.

Written by Robert Redlin (McCinsey’s Island (1998), After Dark, My Sweet (1990)).

Starring: Jeanette Roxborough, Martin Kove, Bridgett Riley, Louis Mandylor and others.

I didn’t start watching this with high expectations, but considering my love for the Rocky franchise, there’s certainly some things I do expect from boxing movies. It’s weird to say, but I wished they would’ve copied Rocky‘s formula a bit more, the film could only benefit from that.

In this narrow sub-genre being cliché is almost unavoidable, so the premise of the story isn’t all that bad. My understanding is that the film was highly influenced by Jeanette Roxborough’s actual life, being a stunt-woman and a mother of a handicapped child. That is a unique angle to add to the story, but somehow they fail to insert the intensity of the real-life drama and while it spends enough time on exploring these issues, it seems to have inserted Roxborough’s handicapped daughter as some sort of MacGuffin, just to move the story along.

As I mentioned Jeanette Roxborough is a professional stunt-woman, which shows in her acting a bit, but not too badly. On the other hand she makes up for what she lacks in acting skills by her convincing physical performance. Martin Kove is unsurprisingly the best actor in the movie and gives a solid performance. The other actors aren’t necessarily bad, but the fact that they play these cheesy caricatures really doesn’t help.

The whole “training with the bodybuilder tranny” sequence is really creepy and then it goes on in to this idiotic scene, where they discuss the other fighters in a manner that is the movie equal of a fighting video game’s character screen.

The fights themselves are pretty bad, using slow motion seemingly at random, most fights aren’t “bare-knuckle” at all, since the fighters are wearing gloves and performs various wrestling moves. Also it might be more realistic, but looks terribly uncinematic, when most fights last about 30 seconds and those are the full fights, not montages of highlights.

It is shot in HD video, which makes the fights look more like the ones we’d see on TV, but overall, combined with the movie’s cheesiness makes it seem like it’s made about a decade ago.

The script is the worst part of the whole thing. I kept thinking that it could have been easily improved by just a rewrite by someone (more) competent.

Overall, it isn’t totally awful and unwatchable, but it throws so much stupidity at you that there really isn’t anything to recommend it for.

"I'm acting... with my fists!"

 

Review of A Serbian Film (2010)

6 Nov

A Serbian Film (2010) is a Serbian (no shit!) shocksploitation/horror/thriller film, which has been called, amongst other things, the most controversial and disturbing film ever made.

Directed by Srdjan Spasojevic and this is his directorial debut.

Written by Aleksandar Radivojevic (Tears for Sale (2008)) and Srdjan Spasojevic.

Starring: Srdjan Todorovic, Sergej Trifunovic, Jelena Gavrilovic, Slobodan Bestic and others.

I guess I should start by addressing the controversy surrounding the film. It is on one hand understandable, because it is a pretty damn graphic and sick movie. On the other hand, it seems that these people who claim it to be the most this and that are born yesterday, which would restrict them from seeing other exploitation films. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely think its release should be very limited, however, this is not the first movie with scenes of graphic rape and violence. Then again, it is full of disturbing shit and probably shouldn’t be seen by anyone.

And my main problem with this movie, is its exploitative content really serving no purpose. I have come to expect this kind of movies to contain some underlying message or at least to be darkly comedic in its over-the-top approach. The author insists that it is a commentary on how Serbian people are being raped by the government, I call bullshit on this allegory, because the only thing that suggests something like that is the title of the movie, which sadly associates the film’s content with the nation. And you can basically interpret anything as an allegory for anything else. So all this pseudo-subtext is really just for the film’s apologists to have something to defend their enjoyment of it with.

But while it’s certainly not a film that should’ve ever been made, from a technical standpoint it is a very well made movie. For a genre film it has a really nice looking cinematography. It is also put together very professionally. All this makes it feel more like a very grotesque art film, than a gritty exploitation film. It is nice to look at, but not so great to actually watch.

Some of the parts were unnecessary, like when Milosh watches the videotapes in the forest and there’s the infamous „newborn porn”  scene’s guy going on again with his sick endeavours, which contribute nothing to the plot. Speaking of „newborn porn”, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of that term, I think maybe because there’s really not a big market for that in real life. At least I hope there isn’t.

I didn’t feel particularly disturbed by any of the sick stuff. I guess that doesn’t say anything good about me as a person. Ok, the ending part went a little too far and is hard to watch mostly because you know what the main character does not. I didn’t feel like turning away at any point, although there is enough to make a lot of people turn away and cry in the shower.

At the end it reaches into the over-the-top territory, when [Spoiler Alert!] Milosh stabs a guy with his dick and then goes into improbability, when Milosh somehow figures a bullet will go through two bodies, killing 3 people with one shot.

The acting was also pretty decent and convincing. Srdjan Todorovic is good as an aging porn-star Milosh or as I kept referring to him in my mind by a title of one of his pornos „Milosh the Filthy Stud”. Other actors are good as well in portraying all these disgusting characters.

So yeah, I’m not sure what to say about this film. It is well made, but it’s written in unnecessarily crude fashion by obviously disturbed people. I can’t really recommend it to anyone. Maybe with the exception of curious desensitized bastards, who want to know what’s all the fuss about, like me. Although no, still don’t watch it.

Who wouldn't trust this face?

Review of Cop Out (2010)

4 Nov

Cop Out (2010) is a buddy cop comedy/action film.

Directed by Kevin Smith (Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001), Chasing Amy (1997)) and this is his first feature film, he didn’t write.

Written by Mark Cullen (Las Vegas (2003 TV), Manchild (2007 short)) and Robb Cullen (Heist (2006), Gary the Rat (2003 TV)).

Starring: Bruce Willis, Tracy Morgan, Juan Carlos Hernandez, Kevin Pollak, Adam Brody, Rashida Jones and others.

Since I reviewed another Kevin Smith’s movie recently, I don’t want go into my opinions on him anymore, but this proves my point in that his movies lack any sort of directorial stamp, even though Kevin Smith said this isn’t his movie, he was just hired to do it. The only thing that makes it seem like his work is the writing and the fact that he didn’t write it makes it kind of weird that the writers  have a style that similar. And packing the first five minutes full of movie references only makes them get old really early on. And I guess they were so overcome by blasting out movie jokes, that they forgot that at some point they will need to come up with an interesting story. Talking about jokes, there was one breaking-the-fourth-wall in-joke that was funny.

I understand this is an addition to the narrow sub-genre of buddy cop comedies made very popular in the 80’s, but the problem is that it adds nothing new to the formula. There’s still a straight man and a wacky character, troubles in their personal lives, they’re of different races and/or age groups and so on.

This kind of movies are usually carried mostly by the wacky character, what we get here is the „hilarious” antics of Tracy Morgan. I’m really not a fan of his. And this movie contributed a lot of additional dislike in his direction. He offers us this totally idiotic character blasting away with juvenile jokes, moronic overreactions and bad line deliveries. I don’t know if I’m the only one with this problem, but I often find it hard to understand what he’s saying, I don’t know any other actor who’s diction is so bad. I wouldn’t want to ever be facing him while he’s talking, he’d probably glaze my face in saliva. All jokes aside, he’s not funny or a good actor, why the hell is he so succesful.

Bruce Willis is kind of ok as the straight man, but he looks really sad to be in this movie. Although seeing him in comedies is nothing new and he usually brings a sense of fun, here he looks like he’s depressed about his action star career fading away, but I guess he just had some disagreements with Smith. Sean William Scott is the funniest thing about the movie, too bad he’s in it so shortly. Rashida Jones is as always hot.

I didn’t hate the movie, but it suffers from being terribly clichéd, bad pacing and Tracy Morgan. It’s watchable, but if you have the choice, I recommend choosing the other, more original buddy cop comedy of the same year – The Other Guys.

"Hello, I'm Tracy Morgan, have I told you about the time I stabbed a couple of homosexuals?"

Review of The A-Team (2010)

23 Oct

The A-Team (2010) is an action/comedy film based on the 80’s TV series of the same name.

Directed by Joe Carnahan  (Blood, Guts, Bullets and Octane (1998), Narc (2002)).

Written by Joe Carnahan (Smokin’ Aces (2006), Pride And Glory (2008)), Skip Woods (Thursday (1998), X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)) and Brian Bloom, who’s usually an actor and is one in this movie as well.

Starring: Liam Neeson, Sharlto Copley, Bradley Cooper, Jessica Biel, Quinton Jackson, Patrick Wilson.

I remember liking the TV show a lot in my childhood years and then revisiting it in early teens and finding it kind of dull and the nostalgia wasn’t enough for me to enjoy the series again.

And as the original show was mainly aimed at 12 year olds in the 80’s, this movies doesn’t seem to be sure who is it made for now. Is it for the current 12 year olds or the now 40-year-old… boys, who grew up watching the show.

It sort of succeeds in recreating the kind of ridiculous action, prominent in the 80’s, but while it does achieve a sense of fun, it fails to get me involved enough to make me care about the outcomes of the action scenes. And speaking of action scenes, it does that stupid new trend in action movies, having this confusingly violent editing, which gives you no sense of what is happening, cutting between shots like billion times a second, so epileptics beware!

At times it openly ignores physics, yeah, the absurd falling tank scene, I’m looking at you.

The freeze-frames combined with character names shown on-screen does work in this.

The soundtrack is pretty rocking, but they should’ve used the theme song more, which is one of the most iconic theme songs ever written.

Sharlto Copley’s Murdock was the best thing in the whole movie. Crazy and entertaining, just how he is supposed to be. Copley is one of the most promising new movie stars and it’s funny how fast this unknown South-African guy got to starring in major movies.

Patrick Wilson was my second favorite of the film, just because of how entertaining he is, playing a douchebag asshole.

The other actors do okay, but B.A. Baracus doesn’t really work without Mr.T, but I guess Quinton Jackson did the best he could and didn’t do as badly as I expected.

The CGI was bad. And again, tank scene, I’m talking about you.

It is pretty enjoyable as a mindless action flick, but I really didn’t care about anything concerning the actual plot, so the action felt only mildly captivating at best. Not an insult to the show, but not a compliment either.

"We are very disappointed."

Review of Another Year (2010)

17 Oct

Another Year (2010) is British drama/comedy film.

Directed and written by Mike Leigh (Happy-Go-Lucky, Vera Drake).

Starring: Jim Broadbent, Ruth Sheen, Lesley Manville, Peter Wight, Oliver Maltman, David Bradley and others.

Yeah, I want to make clear that this isn’t going to be exclusively horror movie review blog, that’s why I started it out with a review of 12 Angry Men (1997), because I knew that soon most of the reviews will be for horror films.

If you’ve been waiting for a movie that’s target audience is almost strictly middle-aged (or older) people, then this movie is for you. Sadly, I don’t fall into that category.

I found watching this movie incredibly boring. This is the kind of movie that gets sent to film festivals and the people there don’t expect to be entertained, because they’re probably film snobs thinking that all movies should be artsy, self-indulgent emotional journeys. I’m not saying this particular movie tries to be these things or that artsy films are never good, but they do have a certain audience. Not surprisingly it was well received by film critics. Outside of film festivals this movie is a perfect thing to watch on the TV, in the evening, by a couple not unlike the one in this movie.

The movie was way too slow-paced, the realization that an hour in, it is still basically exposition and I keep sitting there and wondering if the movie is about a happy couple just having guests over didn’t make me exactly excited for the rest of the film.

However, it does pick up in the second half of it’s 130 minute runtime. It turns into this rather sad portrayal of different types of relationships, which sometimes is uncomfortably awkward, I guess, because life is too. But even when it seems to try to be funny it’s so bittersweet that you don’t feel like laughing about what is going on-screen, but about your own experiences. In a sense that’s not bad.

The actors were ok, these usual British people, Jim Broadbent was good in this solid feeling kind of way. And Lesley Manville was great as a woman who just won’t accept that she’s not in her prime anymore. Also it had David Bradley, best known as Argus Filch in the Harry Potter movies. Ruth Sheen looks a bit like a turkey.

My main problem with the film was that it seemed to lack any point, was kind of mean and only did something with just one character, so while I started to enjoy the second half of the film, I found it rather unsatisfying. It left me with no lingering feeling, I probably will never talk to anyone about this film and soon when I’ll hear the title, it won’t be ringing any bells.

Gobble, gobble!

Review of A Nightmare On Elm Street (2010)

15 Oct

A Nightmare On Elm Street (2010) is a horror/slasher/mystery film and a remake of A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984).

Directed by Samuel Bayer, who previously has been almost exclusively a music video director for various well-known rock bands.

Written by Wesley Strick (Wolf, Cape Fear) and Eric Heisserer (Final Destination 5, The Thing (2011)).

Starring: Jackie Earle Haley, Kyle Gallner, Rooney Mara, Clancy Brown and others.

This is another horror remake from Platinum Dunes, a production company co-created by, one of the biggest douchebags in film industry, Michael Bay, which, I guess instantly, makes him the producer, although the amount of his involvement isn’t clear. For people familiar with the name, seeing it on the screen should lower the expectations bar quite a bit.

However, I was pleasantly surprised. I didn’t think a remake was necessary, but this is something Hollywood has decided to not let go, I guess, because shit like Friday the 13th (2009) can gross almost 100 million dollars, just because old fans are curious and younger audiences are idiots. Anyway, I thought this was the best possible horror remake Platinum Dunes could have produced, which doesn’t say much.

New Nightmare kind of returned to a much darker tone, but this one is really dark and most fans enjoyed the darker ANOES films the most.

Jackie Earle Haley was the perfect choice for the role, also the digitally enhanced voice was kinda creepy, because it feels like he’s whispering right in your ear. I mean I love Robert Englund as Freddy, but if he was in this movie, it would’ve been so out-of-place. This time Freddy is less talkative, but still does some one-liners, now they’re not as much cheesy-funny in movies 3-6, but more creepy and he’s given some really good lines. “Did you know that after the heart stops beating the brain can function for well over seven minutes? We got six more minutes to play.”

Nancy was incredibly blandly portrayed by Rooney Mara, but Kyle Gallner was fun to watch, especially his freak out in the pharmacy.

They did some new things and that’s what remakes should do. For example, they really accentuated the molestation part of Freddy’s history this time, when previously it was just implied.

Best use of All I Have to Do Is Dream by The Everly Brothers ever.

At the start it tries to trick you with the characters, but if you’ve seen the original, you’ll just be annoyed and not surprised.

The previous movies were mostly notable for the amazing use of practical special effects, this one doesn’t do much of that, but at least it doesn’t give you a golden shower of shitty CG either. Freddy’s make-up needed some improvement and they went for a more realistic burn victim look, which I didn’t mind, but admittedly did look a bit off.

This is movie was generally panned by critics. I guess, they couldn’t let go of the Platinum Dunes brand on it or they hadn’t previously sat through all of those ANOES movies that were filled with bad jokes and incoherent plots, written only to connect together the effect sequences.

It had some really bad parts, but since they got the most important part – Freddy Krueger right, I still found it pretty enjoyable and would want to see a sequel with confusing homoerotic undertones and S&M imagery.

Meow!