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...at least that's what the two women in this movie seem to think...if i think so about the movie? What a stupid question you son of a bi***!
...well, let's find out...
The director (and editor as he noted) of this movie asked me directly to review his little German short film, and so this is gonna be a quiet honest review, but just to give him some tips for the future...
So the movie is about two women in a bar talking about how shitty everything is, while maintaining the illusion that everything's fine on the outside, that's the film in the nutshell, and a nice little concept.
The thing about nice little concepts is, that you have to think big, at least technical. Because you just have a short amount of time to tell your story, it's really important that the few minutes are well visualized.
The movie is held in a black & white fullscreen-format, so very basic, seemingly to reflect on the black & white thinking of the two protagonists, or maybe to make it look more like one of many other German student flicks in the process...
Because, if the first wasn't the intention, at least your visual storytelling has to deliver, and well...it's basic.
Shot-Reverse-Shot dialogue with one total shot. (All three shots are a little awkwardly composed at times, which was slightly irritating, but not too big a deal)
It's a movie about two people talking, and that's a problem if you talk about a visual medium.
Like the great Alfred Hitchcock said (more or less) 7 decades ago: "Most movies today (!) are just photographs of people talking and nothing more..."
So we have a basic dialogue scene, with a basic look, and no visual storytelling...now it's supposed to be a comedy, and that genre is known for it's strong use of verbal gags, so the two most important questions are: "Is the dialogue funny?" and "Are the actors delivering the dialogue well?"
No, and Yes...
The dialogue isn't that funny, it's just full of swearing, which is used to make a point, and also (maybe) to make it more funny, which works fine, but is also the only thing that stands out, and having a comedy full of swearing and not much else, isn't that memorable nowadays...
The director choose to let me know, that the two protagonists of his film aren't that experienced, which is hopefully to let their good work stand out even more, instead of covering up the opposite, because that would mean a lack of trust in his lead actors, and i don't think that he meant it like that, because...
...both deliver their lines pretty well, and are fairly believable in their roles, most of all at the end. That being said they are playing caricatures, which is always a wise idea, when working with inexperienced actors.
So the dialogue isn't that funny, but the performances are good. Well then there is only one thing left to care about and that's...
...timing: The editing is as basic as the rest. It never underlines the little actions of the characters, or the timing of the sentences, but it's also not irritating, so not bad...
All in all a basic comedy, with a over reliance on dialogue, which is more vulgar than funny, and two pretty good leads...i would say the best thing about it is that it's not a waste of time, cause it wisely stops at the four minute mark...
The Story of 90 Coins (2015)
90 Days of Summer...
Director Michael Wong contacted me personally to ask me if i could write a review about his short film debut "The Story of 90 Coins", because he read some of my reviews.
Although i'm flattered by this fact, i'm not a person who get's emotionally manipulated by something like this, so i will talk about this movie objectively as always:
"The Story of 90 Coins" is a cute little romance, but without a generic "they live happily ever after"-ending. Like the title of this review suggests, i had some "500 Days of Summer"-Flashbacks while watching it.
Not because of the plot, or the look of the film, but because of the melancholic feel, and content.
Speaking about the look, technically the movie is fairly well made. It has this foggy style, which reminded me of the movie "Her" which is also a very different kind of romance movie i liked very much.
One thing that "Her" and "500 Days of Summer" have in common, is their strong use of color, to underline the feelings of the protagonist, or show the passage of time. Compared to that (which is a very high standard) this short film had the pleasant look of modern commercial, but lacked color diversity, which could help the visual storytelling.
Speaking of visual storytelling, because the movie is barely 10 Minutes long, it's understandable, and wished for, that the point of the story has to come across pretty fast. Although i'm a big fan of "show don't tell", i appreciate the compromise of saying "We show AND tell", which (like i said) works quiet well for the short running time.
But the biggest disappointment for me is that the movie hits you over the head with it's message, by spelling it out in a text at the end...
The music fits nice with the melancholic tone of the movie, but isn't that memorable.
All in all it's a cute romance movie, with a positive message (which could have been told in a less obvious way), and a pleasant look (which could have enriched the storytelling a bit more).
It's a bit of a "tear-jerker" for sure (I'm a romantic so i think i would have cried if it was 2 minutes longer ^^), but i think apart from that, everyone can enjoy it. After all, it's just 10 minutes long...so how could it waste your time anyway...?
Once upon a time in Russia...
I'm a big Fan of Don Bluth, and i just recently got to see Anastasia for the first time (well, completely at least) and hell yeah, like i expected from Bluth, this was an awesome ride...
Don Bluth is famous for being rebellious and making movies which look like Disney at first sight, but are way more dark and not as naively fairy-tale-like, and Anastasia proofs that again.
It seems at first to be like Cinderella (which is played in a theater in the movie...interesting ^^), or other Disney-Princess-movies, but oh man, it get's intensely dark and that fairly quick.
But first the real important things: This movie looks beautiful, the animation of the characters is fluid, the interaction between them full of energy, the camera perspectives (and movements, something incredibly hard to do well in animation) are fantastic and the mix of 2D and 3D animation is perfect.
My favourite animated film of all time is Bluths next project Titan A.E. which does all of this things as good (and some even better), but the scope and feel of this fairy tale is very different, from the (intense and awesome) space adventure.
Also a trademark of Bluths films is the use of music to get the story going, and to make dramatic moments even more dramatic (sometimes kinda over-the-top even), and this film has great songs and a outstanding (Oscar nominated) score.
I already talked briefly about the energetic interactions between the characters, but i have to point out how great the protagonists are, Anastasia is a strong (at first a bit naive, but then bad ass) character, Dimitri is also great, and the antagonist Rasputin is creepy and evil as fu**.
The movie also has a great sense of comedy, i watched it alone and had to laugh out loud a few times actually (and "awwed" at the visuals a few time, also a rare reaction when i'm alone ^^ Even Rasputins little minion-bat is fairly funny and not as annoying as i, at first, anticipated)
Not to mention that Bluth is very good in constructing intense action-sequences and they are few, but excellent. The scene with the train is surprisingly well "shot" and choreographed, and i love that Anastasia is the one defeating Rasputin in the end, his death is glorious...
All in all, (and i'm surprised myself) my favourite "Princess-fairy- tale"-movie i've seen to date...
Dressed to Kill (1980)
Brian De Palma's "Psycho"...
Brian De Palma is one of my favourite directors. I like him since i saw Mission:Impossible as a little child (even though i didn't knew it was by him). I'm also a big Hitchcock-Fan, and so is De Palma obviously, because most of his greatest films are inspired by him, and this one is most notably no exception. It's a slightly different, more sleazy and sexually charged version of "Psycho" to say it simple.
And in my opinion it's as good.
The camera-work is marvellous, one of the best sequences in the movie is in a museum, where they cut between two long-takes. Then there is a split-screen sequence which grabs your attention, and let's you, the viewer, decide which one of the parallel stories is more interesting to you. And much, much more.
There is rarely a movie where i had to smile as much as in this one, just because of the technical aspects and the incredible sense of suspense.
Also the actors are all splendid, very natural, and fitting for their roles.
The soundtrack is great, and it has to be, because most of the scenes work out without a single word of dialogue (visual storytelling at it's best).
I could talk about every scene in this movie for hours, but to put it simple (again) this movie is a masterpiece of suspense, worthy of being called "hitchcokian" and one of De Palmas finest...
Secret Window (2004)
Secret Window is one of the few movies directed by David Koepp, who is otherwise known as a well respected screen-writer (who also wrote this one, based on the short-story by Stephen King).
What i find interesting about Koepp is that all of his films are visually stunning and very imaginative, and that he knows how to build up suspense (could be because he worked with such great craftsman as Sam Raimi, Steven Spielberg, and Brian De Palma).
Secret Window has the reputation of being a very well made movie, with a strong performance by Johnny Depp, but also with an ending which many feel, destroys the movie for the most part...
Well, it's hard to say, but all of this hits right on the nose, except the part with the ending...it's not THAT drastic...
(Afterall the protagonist even says that the ending is the most important part of a story)
There are two things i have to say about that:
First, the ending everyone talks about is made up of the last few minutes of the film, which is, up to this point, excellent. In my opinion you have to decide if these few minutes really could destroy the integrity of the sheer quality which came before it.
And second, the ending itself is (technically) incredibly well made, and fascinating to watch. The only weak part is the motivation of the character.
This review is marked as a spoiler-review, so you are warned:
In the end it is revealed that the whole story centered around the antagonist of the story, because the protagonist and the antagonist are the same person (i know, who ever used this kind of twist, right?).
The idea on itself is fascinating, and the scenes before also make sense despite it, BUT the reason why most people don't like it, seems to be the motivation of the character. It's not really clear WHY he has such a big psychological problem, we know that his wife cheated on him, but that's never enough for a person to get that mad and on this kind of murder-rampage, in which he even kills people who tried to help him, and who he really liked.
To come to a conclusion: Secret Window is a very well made Mystery- Thriller, with a weak ending. You have to decide yourself if it breaks the movie for you, or just makes it a bit weaker then you expected...
Get Out (2017)
If you get a Invitation, Get In...!
After buying a free ticket for the cinema as a mothers day-gift, i looked through all the big-budget-blockbuster movies which are running currently, and stumbled upon a little Independent-Thriller which i heard great things about: Get Out. The premise sounded kinda like the one of "The Invitation" a movie, me and my mom pretty much loved, so we watched it...
And we weren't disappointed, Get Out is a pretty great Psychothriller with some humor thrown in, and a nice commentary on racism.
The atmosphere get's set up perfectly in the opening scene (which is a very well done one-take), and it stays that way for the rest of the movie, the only downside are a few unneeded jump scares, from which only one is justified, when our protagonist runs over a deer with his car. Because of that i was very glad when, roughly from the halfway point the jump scares completely disappeared and got switched out with scenes of suspense and some great surprises.
Interestingly, for me and my mom, the similarities between this movie and "The Invitation" doesn't end with the premise, after the opening scene the movie starts with a title sequence with a creepy string- theme and pictures of trees passing by (seemingly because someones driving) and then later the protagonists hit a animal on the road, which serves as a set up for later in the movie.
After that Get Out starts to get it's own voice and intrigued and surprised us pretty much the whole way through.
The characters are very interesting, and the acting is fantastic, sometimes subtle, sometimes kinda over-the-top, but in the end you get why.
The only thing that bothered me a bit, which is something about the climax, but i already marked this as a spoiler-review:
When the protagonist starts killing the family who tried to hypnotise him and use his body, he shows nearly no remorse by doing pretty brutal and violent stuff to them. I know that he wants to survive, but he has nearly no negative reaction almost like he likes it, even though he got introduced as someone who doesn't like violence. That's also another (and i promise the last) thing i have to compare to a slightly similar climax in the movie "The Invitation", where they also have to defend themselves, but more like normal people (like us) who never had to do something like that, but have to, even though they don't like it. (Also there are no unmotivated...well i don't think even one jump scare in that movie, and it's tense as hell throughout)
But the rest of the movie is way to strong to let these things destroy the entertainment value or something, most of all because of the great sense of (dark) humor it has. The other star next to Daniel Kaluuya is the incredibly funny and sincere LilRey Howery, in the most funny scenes in the movie, but never too distractingly funny to get you out of the mood, more to give you a little pause from the suspense.
Get Out is all in all a very entertaining, and surprisingly well done Thriller, with a mysterious and intriguing story, great acting and sense of humor...
Village of the Damned (1995)
Movies are the window to the soul...
John Carpenter's "Village of the Damned" is the second remake of a classic movie he's made after "The Thing" and in my opinion as great.
I first watched the movie when i was still a little child close to my teenage years and had no idea what it was about, and it hooked me right from the start, because of the hypnotic soundtrack and the great sense of mystery. I recommend everyone who hasn't watched this film yet, to stop reading this, or any other information about it, and to watch it without knowing anything, it's perfect then.
The movie is directed masterfully, every scene is well thought out and perfectly shot from director of photography Gary B. Kibbe. Most of the suspenseful scenes are incredibly subtle. Most of the time, it's just the way the scene is lit, or the camera moves, which gives you chills.
The movie is also very atmospheric and it get's the right amount of juxtaposition between the village-folk, where everyone knows everyone and you care about all of them, and the terror which will take place through the only thing we thought might be innocent: Our children.
The acting is also superb, everyone gives a fitting performance most of all Christopher Reeve and Linda Kozlowsky. But i also have to mention the children: The are fantastic, they act well along with the adult actors and seem very adult themselves. I'm also very impressed that they act flawlessly in long takes, and they never had to cut around their performances.
This is also very important, because the actors are what holds the movie together, every scene is focused on them and it's the reason why it's such an intense and suspenseful experience.
I also really love that all of the terrifying death scenes and the finale act, aren't just there to show brutal violence, they doesn't show the violence, but the reaction of the characters to it, and that's the reason why you feel the impact of it.
The same with the scenes where they try to block the mind powers of the children, and most of all in the finale act, it's masterfully put together and you really feel the intensity, and helplessness of the characters.
Lika all of Carpenter's movies, this one also has a double-edged- ending, which is great as always. The protagonist get what they wanted in the end, BUT there is no hope in the future, love it.
All in all one of my favourite Mystery-Sci-Fi-Thrillers with great acting, direction, and soundtrack, all the more effective if you don 't know what it's about...
Shoot 'Em Up (2007)
Bugs Bunny with guns...
...that's the whole description you need for this movie...no really there isn't much to talk about. "Shoot em' up" is a very simple but incredibly fun and cartoony action movie, that never tries to be something else.
The one-liners are cheesy, the action is so over-the-top that i can 't compare it to something else i've seen, and the plot is so paper- thin that the movie just starts, without introducing anything, you press play and it just goes without stopping.
The first shot of the movie is Clive Owen looking intensely into the camera and than munching on a huge carrot, while sitting on a bench seemingly without any reason, and then the plot just comes to him...quite literally.
And the Elmer Fudd of our picture is played by Paul Giamatti, who is more psychotic as ever, it's amazing, and disgusting to watch.
The action is the selling-point of the film and man does it never holds back. In one scene Clive Owen sleeps with Monica Belucci and shoots some bad guys, while doing it. In another scene he jumps out of a plane and has a skydiving-shootout with some bad guys...you won 't believe it until you see it... Only downside is the editing, which is at times a bit too fast and sometimes you don't really know where all the people are in the room, but because of the cartoony nature and the fun moments it's not too bad.
The most interesting part is that it works, strangely enough, the weak characterization and the cartooniness of the film work in it's advantage, at the end it get's down right touching and intense, you really begin to care for what's going on, and enjoy the experience...at least i did.
All in all "Shoot em' up" does all it set out to deliver, and even more, it's pure entertainment and incredibly fun...
Run All Night (2015)
Let's cross that line together...
"Run all Night" is the most recent movie from a new director i highly admire, Jaume Collet-Serra. And this movie is his third collaboration with Liam Neeson, after the two strikes "Unknown Identity" and "Non-Stop", the latter is my favourite plane-centered-action- thriller to date. (I also want to mention that he did one of my favourite psycho- horror-thrillers "Orphan")
Even though this guy's first movie was the "House of Wax"-Remake, which isn't that great, he managed to get his own style and voice, and i like his work very much.
And this movie is no exception. It's a very well told, and intriguingly written Gangster-Revenge-Thriller, with Liam Neeson and Ed Harris as old Gangster-buddies, who try to kill each other, after Neeson killed Harris son, to protect his own.
The title has a good reason to appear four times (!) in the movie, because the movie's really set during one night, and hell what a beautiful night it is. All the transition-shots to other locations, literally fly over the whole city and stop at the new location, and between moments where some time passes, there are just shots of the nightlife of the city, so you really feel the atmosphere. It reminded me of some of Michael Manns movies.
The action is very well directed, intense and brutal. And the characters, get believably hurt, and never feel like they are unbeatable, like in other recent action movies. The best comparison would be "A good day to die Hard", where John McClane and his son have to team up to survive, but they are never in real danger, the bad guys are bland, and the action over-the-top.
This movie is the fifth Die Hard i wish we'd got, plus much more drama than i expected. The movie never relies on painting the characters bad, or good and role with it, they are believable and all of them have a dark and a light side. Liam Neeson plays a guy who would be an unlikeable asshole if it wasn't for his charisma which keeps you interested in him, and his relationship to mobster- boss Ed Haris feels real and it's great when you see Neeson killing him, but when he dies in his arms, you see that they respect each other after all, and wished non of this had happened. It's great stuff, and fairly well told.
Technically it's also very well made, the night scenes are a little too dark at times, but you see what's necessary, and the soundtrack by Junkie XL fits very well, and helps setting the dark tone.
All in all a very enjoyable, dark and dramatic Action-Thriller which will entertain you the whole night through...
Piranhas AND boobs you care about...
Joe Dantes first feature film is stated to be the best "Jaws" knock off of them all...and yeah that's a statement made by Steven Spielberg.
And he's surprisingly right. The movie has way more in common with "Jaws" when with it's own sequels, which are just about nudity and Piranhas killing unlikeable idiots.
These are also things that happen in THIS film (nearly every women has to show her boobs, it's a Roger Corman production nonetheless), but with much more context, two likable leads, and a very well told and intriguing plot.
The two protagonists have their own reasons, backstories and characteristics, and aren't just bland idiots. Their interactions are fun to watch and you want them to succeed.
Also the Piranha attacks are fairly intense and suspenseful, because you don't want any of the characters to get hurt.
Which is also due to the technical expertise of the film. For a Roger Corman produced, directors debut it's effectively made and doesn't look nearly as cheap as it is. The make up effects are even done by Rob Bottin and Phil Tippet, because this is also one of their first works before they got famous, and it shows, because the practical effects look great.
Also the cinematography and editing are very good and the musical score, and sound effects fit well.
All in all a fun, but also intense, Horror-B-movie with a heart...
Pitch Black (2000)
Pitch Perfect entertainment...
David Twohy is one of my favourite directors/writers today. He makes only movies he wrote himself, and they are always unique in some way. He often takes scientific ideas and uses them to make movies which are in a special genre and does something different with it.
And Pitch Black is one of the many times where this premise worked perfectly. It's a sci-fi-horror film about a ragtag group of survivors who crashed on a desert planet and have to survive.
SOunds simple? Well it is, and that's a strong point of the film, because the premise is simple and doesn't seem that original at first, but the mystery aspect of this film is what makes it great. Nearly every character has something to hide, and so does the planet which isn't as lifeless as one might think...
The actors are all very good, most of all Radha Mitchell and Vin Diesel. Mitchells character feels guilty the whole way through, because she wanted to drop all of the passengers to get a better chance to land the ship, but it didn't worked and now everyone greets her for saving them, and want her to be the new leader. And Diesels character is by far the most interesting Anti-Hero since Snake Plissken (who Diesel said he used as a inspiration. You can't take your eyes off the screen when he's there.
But one of the things you have to talk about in a David Twohy movie is the unique style. The movie is edited like all of his movies in a kind of "push it to the Limit!" mentality, which is never too distracting, but underlines the intensity of the scenes effectively. Also the cinematography and colors are amazing. The day scenes with the three suns look like you would dry out, and breakdown instantly because of the heat, and the night scenes are fantastically realized (which is very hard to do) and the movie really earns it's title.
Also very great: The movie is mostly centered around the characters and how they will get out of the situation, or even if they won't kill each other beforehand, and not so much focused on action, or horror. There are also no jump scares in the film or any other horror-bull crap, it's fairly suspenseful and character driven.
That the movie was a fairly low budget doesn't hurt it in any way, the creative way the film is directed by Twohy, prevents it from looking cheap, and the visual effects are just used then needed and aged incredibly well, most of all, of the way they use them.
All in all, one of the most intense, dark and unique Sci-Fi-Horror movies you'll see...
The Evil Dead (1981)
You will laugh, you will scream...
The Evil Dead is one of the most interesting and unique Horror movies ever. It spawned the career of Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell and a whole franchise that followed it's huge success.
It was made on almost no budget and simply self made inside a real abandonment cabin in the woods. The gore and make up is self made, they had no stunt people for the action scenes and no money for better equipment, but hell it works incredibly well!
It's astonishing how good this movie is, for some reason, even though you see that it's a low-budget student film, you never once feel like "Oh man, these are just some kids playing zombie in their cellar", instead you are invested the whole way through.
One of the reasons for this are the actors, who had little to no experience and aren't written as stereotypes, instead they just feel like real people who are in a bad situation. The best part of this is by far Bruce Campbell who has the most real reactions to the weird things which are happening.
The best example of this is a scene which surprised and positively floored me: The scene when Ash knocks out his girlfriend Linda and ties her in one of Sam Raimis trademark montages to a table and starts a chainsaw to cut her in pieces. Me knowing just a few of the one- liners and the image of Ash from the sequels thinks "Okay now it 's gonna get bloody as hell." But instead, Ash just stops the chainsaw and breaks down because he can't kill his girlfriend, who he loves so much.
It's one of my favourite scenes ever, and it's done very well. And this is what i like the most about this movie, the realness and the heart of it, together with the insane amount of creativity and work that's clearly put into it.
I also have to praise the camera-work of this movie, it's so insanely creative and effective, together with the fitting editing, and most of the best scenes in the film are because of these two aspects.
And also, something almost no one talks about while discussing this gem, the soundtrack is fantastic. It fits perfectly at the right places and has some memorable themes. As i watched the movie with a Friend a few weeks ago, he always had a emotional reaction to the love theme of Ash and Linda, and "awwww"-ed every time he heard it and remembered what's at stake for the protagonist.
All in all, i didn't expected such a weird but fairly adult, scary and ALSO funny at times, horror film, and hell yeah i love it to death...
Gone Baby Gone (2007)
"You are sheep among wolves. Be wise as serpents, yet innocent as doves."
Ben Afflecks directorial debut stars his brother Casey Affleck in a very real and dark story about a missing child.
The best part of the movie is it's raw realness, which helps lifting it about many similar thrillers. All the extras seem to be people who really lived in this world and not like stock movie characters. Same can be said about the way all the characters act. There are scenes in this film which are far away from typical Hollywood movies, where the protagonist wants to find something out and the people just flat out insult him and say the same things over and over, just like it would happen in real life.
The story is very intriguing and deals with themes of morality and what right or wrong really mean, it's very well told and you try to figure it out for yourself.
The movie also looks very good, has some intense scenes of action and drama, all the actors are fantastic and the end will make you think about the movie for a few days...
All in all, i recommend this intense and very real feeling thriller about doing the right thing...and maybe you will think to yourself: "What would i have done?"
Shu dan long wei (1995)
Die Hard in Hong Kong...
"Meltdown", or "Total Risk" is pretty much a Die Hard clone with a sprinkle "Speed", and Bruce Lee/Jackie Chan-parody mixed in.
That may sound like a trashy combination of famous stuff, and like a cheap B-movie, but it's surprisingly entertaining to watch and most of all, very good.
The Speed-references are obvious: At the start of the film is a bomb on a bus and at the end then damsel-in-distress get's one on her chest that the hero has to stop. The rest of the movie is basically the story of Die Hard starring Jet Li, with a comedy-driven subplot about a martial arts actor who 's a women loving alcoholic and acts like he would do all of his stunts on it's own, even though he's a coward.
And this mix of genres and ideas it what makes this movie a bit more than just one of hundred Die Hard-clones, it makes it a fun movie with exceptionally great action sequences, which are brilliantly choreographed, filmed and edited, and characters you care about, even when they get pretty goofy at times, but that's the Asian style i expected anyway...
Under Siege (1992)
Die Hard on a battleship...
I'm a fan of Schwarzenegger-movies (Total Recall, Terminator, True Lies), Van Damme-movies (Kickboxer, Time Cop, JCVD) and Stallone- movies (First Blood, Demolition Man, Cliffhanger). All three (nearly) always give 100% and try to entertain us on every level, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.
Now we talk about a Seagal-movie...well, this is most certain the only good one i know, and that's not just because of his tongue-in- cheek performance, but more because of Andrew Davis direction.
I'm also a fan of the Ford-movie "The Fugitive", which Andrew Davis made a year later (also starring Tommy Lee Jones, and a few other actors from this film), also because of the direction and creative action-sequences, but most of all because it's a suspenseful and emotional Thriller with great performances.
Under Siege on the other hand is more of an Die Hard-clone (they even reenact the famous "Jump from an explosion with a rope attached"- scene) with fun action, comedy and over-the-top villains.
And it works pretty well as such, but it's never as good as it's "predecessor", or the movies i mentioned above, still entertaining and well made, but not as memorable.
All in all i liked all the performances fine, was engaged for the most part, and found the setting to be very interesting and well used, the perfect entertainment for a rainy afternoon...
10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)
Less is more...
10 Cloverfield Lane is an intense, thrilling and claustrophobic experience that holds you on edge for the full runtime...even the end.
The movie is brilliantly told with a great use of pure visual storytelling, and an perfect underlining score. The protagonist of this film (fantastic as always Mary Elizabeth Winstead) doesn't even say a word until 10 minutes into the movie, and why should she? What we've seen to this point told us everything we needed to know.
But that's also due to the fantastic performances by everyone, most of all John Goodman who portrays one of the most intriguing characters i've seen in a long time, with great expertise, the only downside is that his character doesn't get a proper ending, which get's me to the only negative thing i have to say about this fantastic Thriller...
...and that's the connection to the movie "Cloverfield". In my opinion the movie could have worked much better without it, on it's own, and here is why:
The movie wasn't even supposed to be a sequel, but i understand why they made it that way. Dan Trachtenberg seemed to have a nice idea for a great movie and J.J. Abrams wanted to help him push his directorial debut, so he produced it and made it out to be the movie it became. I think that's not a bad idea and i think that everyone should get a great chance like this.
The problem is, that the movie now had to have a connection that wasn't there originally and it shows. To make it possible they had to get rid of John Goodmans intriguing character to set up the new threat of the Alien invasion that took place. His character was the only one who knew and believed that such a invasion would take place and so he made his own bunker and saved two people out of compassion, he seems to be a crazy at times, but in the end he was right and just wanted to save what he could, like most people would do.
Now this review is already marked with a spoiler-warning, which means people who read it should have seen the movie, so i just tell my version of a more interesting ending for this already great movie:
What if we just erase the nowhere-going plot-point of Howard being a kidnapper before, so that he's not just a pure antagonist, now everything goes like in the film, Michelle gets out sees that there are the Alien monsters in the background as well as the gas pumping spaceship, knows that Howard was right all along and just wanted them to be safe, the bunker blows up and with it the last safe place on earth and then it just ends. It's a more interesting and apocalyptic take on the story and i'm pretty sure that's how it would have ended if it doesn't had to build for a Cloverfield-series.
BUT all in all i really liked this film and was entertained throughout, how they told the story was near perfection, and i have nothing against how they handled the end, i just think they wasted a bit of potential on their most interesting character...
See No Evil (1971)
See no bad film...
See no Evil was a real joy to watch, and not just because it starred Mia Farrow...
I knew Richard Fleischer only for effect-blockbuster-movies like "Conan the Destroyer", "Red Sonja", and "20.000 leagues under the sea" and only the latter was really good, but this movie is even better!
It might be one of the only "Who-done-it?"-films which ever got real suspense in it. We don't know who the killer is until the end, but because Mia Farrows character is blind, we are a step ahead of her through most of the movie, and bite our nails because we hope that nothing happens to her.
The acting is very good, most of all Farrow herself who plays the blind Sara so real that i almost forgot that she's not blind in real life, and all of the supporting cast is great as well.
But the best part of this film is the ingenious camera-work. The chosen angles are always on point and the intense scenes are full of energy and movement, we are always on the same level as Farrow, when she runs, falls, crawls, or hide, i was pleasantly reminded of Sam Raimi's "Evil Dead"-movies, which may or may not have been highly influenced by this movie. But the quiet scenes ans suspenseful sequences are handled AS well.
All in all i'm very much surprised of the high quality of this intense Thriller, and it's not even a problem that we will never know WHY the killing even took place...
Max Payne (2008)
I don't know about heaven. But I do believe in angels...
Max Payne is my second favourite Video game adaption after "Prince of Persia the Sand of Time".
The movie is a clear and effective homage to the Noir-Thrillers of the 30's-50's in every aspect and that's what makes the movie great for me. This film doesn't rely on action sequences rather than telling a intriguing Thriller-story with a few very well handled action sequences, which are all unique and different.
This is my favourite performance by Mark Wahlberg and that's saying something, because a year prior he showed us his worst performance in the weird "The Happening". He shows great subtle emotions and you feel for him the whole way through because you understand him. All the other actors also do a fairly well job, even Mila Kunis who is believable in one of her first serious roles.
One of the reasons i hold this movie in such high regards is also the technical aspect of it. The look is beautiful and the camera-work and editing is great. It succeeds in capturing the style and tone of a real Noir-Thrillers, but with a modern take. Dark contrasts and long shadows, also the use of color in this movie is (while slightly on-the-nose) really well handled. Also the visual effects are really well done, most of all when people take the Valkyr-drug it's sheer amazing at times.
The score by Marco Beltrami is some of his best work, and i'm a real fan of this composer for a long time.
The story is slightly changed from the video game to make it work on it's own and so that it's surprising even for fans, and i appreciate it (being a fan of the games myself).
I'm also happy they used Max monologues just at the start and the finish of the movie, because even in the game it's sometimes a bit to over-depressive and metaphorical at times.
All in all i enjoy the movie very much, it even introduced me to the games, and even after playing both i haven't changed my mind at all... (For the record: I talk only about the Director's Cut, the other version really is some bull**** ;) )
You ever dance with the Joker in the pale moonlight...?
Tim Burtons first Batman movie is a amazing Gothic-tale about two psychopaths dueling it out in a gloomy and disturbing city...basically.
Burtons Style is what makes this movie unique, everything looks like it's straight out of a dark graphic novel and made real. The whole city seems to be build in a studio for the most part, but the streets are always full of life, everywhere is something to look at and someone who crosses the sidewalk. It feels like a chaotic nightmare and is the closest to being the Gotham City we imagined.
Danny Elfmans score perfectly fits that style and makes the movie even more Gothic as it already is. (There are also some songs by Prince, but used only in scenes where it's actually fitting)
Michael Keaton is to-this-day my favourite incarnation of Batman/Bruce Wayne. His portrayal of Wayne is unique and it's even more believable that no one would...believe that this awkward, withdrawn millionaire would be Batman. Speaking of which, this Batman is like i think Batman should be. In every scene where he's in his cave or at home he does Detectivework and tries to get the plan of the Joker. He doesn't speak much and seems to moves like a vampire, which is great because that makes him intimidating and more like a mythological figure for the villains.
This movie also has my favourite Version of the Joker, played expertly by Jack Nicholson, every scene he's in he does something unexpected and never acts like you think he would. The make-up is also fairly disturbing, when you know how he got to look like that he's scary, funny and serious, but everything just for a split- second, it's a joy to watch.
The idea that Joker actually killed Bruce parents makes it even more interesting, and gives Batman more of an emotional reason to stop this lunatic. Also that they actually "made" each other by accident is a nice touch.
The photography sells the tone and feel of the film, the editing is very classic and the movie takes it's time to build the characters instead of pumping everything with action, also the optical effects hold up very well and work for the story.
All in all my favourite Batman movie (with Batman Returns)...
The Abyss (1989)
It's a bottomless pit, baby. Two-and-a-half miles straight down...
James Cameron loves to be underwater and made a few documentaries about it...and two movies, one was his kitsch-drama "Titanic" and the other one was his slightly overlooked masterpiece known by the name "The Abyss".
And his love of the theme is there to be seen in every second of film, the set is actually underwater with all the cast and crew inside, some of them couldn't even resist the pressure.
Technically everything's near perfection, the camera-work, lighting, and sound. The soundtrack is composed by Alan Silvestri and one of my favourites written by him, the emotional parts feel even more powerful thanks to him.
The special effects are amazing, everything's practically made with models, puppets, real tech and/or optical projections. There is one incredible CGI-effect when the aliens use their power to bend the water and give it the shape of a human face.
The acting is incredible and the interactions between the characters the reason why the whole movie works. My favourite scene in the movie is when the two ex-married protagonists are stuck in a flooding Submarine and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonios character has to temporarily die, because they only have one diving suit. After that they have to bring her back to life in a nail biting resuscitate scene.
The movie is intense, but takes it's time to build everything up and the pay-off at the end is fitting and great in my opinion.
I all in all adore this film, because of the excellent acting, incredible effects and it's emotional core...
Like spotting a trainwreck with only one survivor...
I'm a huge fan of Danny Boyle because he's some kind of Director- chameleon, every movie he makes is different in tone, style, or approach to the story. So i wanted to watch Trainspotting for a long time, but there were always movies i watched instead, until now when i heard that Danny Boyle would make his first sequel like...ever. So that gave me enough interest to watch it for the first time.
And it was pretty good. Stylish as and imaginative like all of his movies, but with a theme which is actually hard to watch, because of how great the movie portrays the use of drugs and the effect of addiction. (And i personally hate needles...so that's a plus)
Ewan McGregor is one of my all-time favourite actors and always great, and most of the other cast i just new from other Boyle movies, besides Johnny Lee Miller who is great in "Elementary".
The soundtrack is great, because of a ton of licensed music, which gives the movie it's energetic feeling...
...which also comes from the awesome direction. The best part of this movie is that it's fast paced and never get's dull, so that you feel exactly like the characters when they are on drugs, and it get 's a bit slower and more feverish when they are on withdrawal.
It's fun but also disturbing, light one moment, dark the other...it 's great entertainment, but also kinda educating and seriously against drugs. I like it, and so could you...
Cape Fear (1991)
Martin Scorsese's "What lies beneath"...
What Robert Zemeckis did with his masterful homage to Hitchcocks Thrillers "What lies beneath", is what Scorsese is doing with his remake of "Cape Fear", an every-minute-intense Suspensethriller without a clear line of "right or wrong".
This aspect is what makes this movie very interesting, the protagonist (played believable by Nick Nolte) and the antagonist (played expertly by Robert De Niro) are both neither right or wrong.
This is also the reason why many people don't think that this movie is as good as it really is (in my opinion anyway), because in the end there is no happy conclusion were good defeats evil, the movie even ends without triumphant music, the only thing you hear during the credits are the waves of the lake they are at in the end. For me that's something unique and therefore great, because it fits the theme of the movie. Justice and Injustice: How we see it as ordinary people and how the justice system sees it, because without it, our society would crumble.
But even without those themes and interesting ideas this would be a great movie on a technical level alone. The camera-work is exceptionally great, and very much like Hitchcock would have done it, if he had directed this film, same for the editing (that's one reason for the Zemeckis reference above, the other reason is...). The score by Elmer Bernstein is based on the original score from Bernard Herrman, and some pieces he originally composed for Hitchcoks "Torn Curtain", is amazing, although it feels odd at first hearing such music and seeing such a Hitchcockian intro sequence in a movie from 1991, but it works.
Now to the acting: Everyone is superb in this film. Most of all Juliette Lewis, who plays one of the most believable teenagers i ever saw, most of all in a scene she shares with Robert De Niro, where he lures her on his side. Speaking of him, he is more frightening in this movie as ever and it's great.
There are even some visual effects used in this movie (the first time for Scorsese, who used effects for great use ever since, most effectively in his masterpiece "Shutter Island") which hold up so well, that i wasn't even sure at times if there where any to begin with.
If we have to talk about weaknesses, there is only one scene in the movie which feels like it had no purpose whatsoever, but to create a bit more drama. It's the scene in the final act, where Juliette Lewis character burns De Niro, so that he jumps off the boat into the water. Now she and her mother free Nick Nolte and they could try to flee, but De Niro immediately comes back and everyone is in the exact same situation as before. It's even more strange because De Niro showed them only minutes before how it doesn't bother him that much to get burned...it's not a bad scene and nice to see that the little teenage girl is capable of helping herself, but in the end it had no effect on the final act.
Except for that tiny little weird moment i loved the movie very much and think it's one of Scorsese's best with "Bringing out the dead" and "Shutter Island" which are my favourites...
Into the Night (1985)
A charming sleepwalk through the night...
The protagonist of this move (played by Jeff Goldblum) has a problem: He can't sleep! And because of this and an advice of a friend he drives around at night, maybe to go to Las Vegas, but instead he get's to be pulled into a murderous night chase by a mysterious, and beautiful young woman...
That's the premise of the this very charming and engaging movie, even though the protagonist is sleepy the whole time and taps into all sorts of weird crap by accident, which is what makes this movie unique.
Not to mention the John Landis-typical dry humor, needless nudity and weird cameos which are all over the place. (which sounds negative, but is actually meant to be positive)
The sleepy night atmosphere is caught perfectly with the photography of clear streets, and the sound of nothing, most scenes even end with someone who accidentally drops something on the floor because he 's drowsy, it's beautiful.
Speaking of beautiful, i'm a big fan of Michelle Pfeiffer, but seeing her at such a young age is incredible for someone like me, who knew her mainly from movies like "What lies beneath", "Batman Returns", or "Stardust". Jeff Goldblum is great as always and fun to watch, because he clearly doesn't quite register what's happening around him, or often doesn't care that much.
The plot is engaging and doesn't rely all that much on humor, it's surprisingly downbeat and even bleakly violent at times, which fits the story, but makes for a weird tone.
I all in all enjoyed "Into the Night", it's charming, sometimes funny, and the lead characters are great, and most of all, it's unique...
The Gift (2000)
A real film about people...
The Gift is one of the more serious films made by Sam Raimi,which is not a positive and not a negative thing, because this movie is as good as Evil Dead, or Spider-Man, only a different kind of Story.
It's from 2000, around this time people seemed to make movies to tell interesting stories, not just to sell toys, and this movie is a great example.
It's written by the well-known actor Billy Bob-Thornton who was inspired by his mother who apparently had some sort of psychic powers.
If you believe something like that or not is completely subjective and has no impact on your enjoyment of this fictional tale, which is very dramatic and very well told.
The camera-work isn't as outrages and wild as in over Raimi movies, which fits the story and underlines the tone of the movie perfectly. Because of this, the creative and intense scenes in which the protagonist has symbolic dreams, or psychic premonitions are all the more effective, and the visual effects are almost unnoticeable, even after all these years.
The acting in this film is overall fantastic, one of the strongest reasons why this movie works for me is that i was completely engaged. I was afraid that Cate Blanchett's character, or her children could get hurt by Keanu Reeves, who's unbelievably threatening in this film and gives one of his best performances. Not to mention Giovanni Ribisi, J.K. Simmons, Katie Holmes or especially Greg Kinnear.
The soundtrack by Christopher Young (who Raimi would later work with on Spider-Man 3) also fits well for the setting and atmosphere.
All in all i was very surprised by the quality of this movie, which also has a very satisfying conclusion.
It reminded me in some aspects of one of my favourite thrillers "What lies beneath" which came out the same year...
Skin Trade (2014)
Dolph Lundgren isn't too old for this crap...
Skin Trade is a surprisingly well made action movie, with a surprisingly emotional core.
You believe that Lundgren misses his family and that he would do everything in his power do the right thing. Tony Jaa is very athletic and his fight scenes were very entertaining, but he also was a believable cop with good motivation. Also Ron Perlman who always work as a bad guy.
The cinematography of this movie is very well done and the lighting department did an incredible job. The editing worked very good in the action scenes, but the jump cuts which were made for some scene transitions felt kinda alienating at times.
This movie has enough action and enough drama to entertain...