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RE: WEIRD/STRANGE favorite movies? - 18/3/2014 9:27:46 PM   
UTB


Posts: 9936
Joined: 30/9/2005
Aw Bill... real sorry to hear that. Hope you and your family are ok.

(in reply to Dr Lenera)
Post #: 15451
RE: WEIRD/STRANGE favorite movies? - 19/3/2014 12:42:36 AM   
dannyfletch


Posts: 648
Joined: 25/5/2008
From: Bromley
God bless mate and sorry to hear the sad news!

(in reply to evil bill)
Post #: 15452
RE: WEIRD/STRANGE favorite movies? - 8/4/2014 6:14:02 PM   
evil bill


Posts: 6730
Joined: 19/7/2006
From: mordor/ uk
quote:

ORIGINAL: Dr Lenera


quote:

ORIGINAL: evil bill

quote:

ORIGINAL: Dr Lenera



There is some of the expected Gilliam wacky humour in The Zero Theorem, if perhaps less than expected. A bizarre tall man and fat dwarf [Gilliam had to fit one in somewhere] team turn up every now and again to act, well, like characters in a Gilliam film, while David Thewlis not only overacts as usual but tries to be like Michael Palin. Tilda Swinton makes one of her funniest appearances as Dr Shrink-rom, a virtual psychiatrist. Unusually, the Scottish actress has a thick Scottish accent for a change. There are also some great small details throughout, like a park wall with endless signs forbidding things, Gilliam again showing the way we seem to be headed especially in this increasingly restrictive country. Of course the sets tend to be as chaotic looking as possible and Gilliam still has that fascination with things like wires and tubes.

Carlo Poggioli deserves a mention for his stunning costume designs and George Fenton supplies a fine score which is sometimes quite beautiful as well as appropriately quirky. There's lots to enjoy in The Zero Thereom for the filmgoer after something a bit different, but it makes even less commercially minded concessions than normal, while Gilliam fans will have seen much of it before, meaning that the result isn't really satisfactory whichever way you approach it. Still, Gilliam coasting is still Gilliam, and the man's fingerprints are still all over his new film. He's still out there doing his thing, and cinema is a better place for it. The Zero Theorem also has the most gorgeous final shot [even if it's partly CGI] in ages. Gilliam's kind of been there before, but it still works.

Rating: 6.5/10

As a fan of Gilliam I have been looking forward to this, and going by your review it will be well worth while seeing, but not sure if it's getting a country wide release, as no sign of it here yet. In fact it was easier to get to see Nymphomaniac over here, which I will get round to writing about soon, but due to my Fathers passing everything is on hold.



Oh god sorry to hear that Bill, my utmost condolences.

quote:

UTB
Aw Bill... real sorry to hear that. Hope you and your family are ok.

quote:

dannyfletch
God bless mate and sorry to hear the sad news!

Thanks folks, nearly thought this forum was gone too, but it's only a glitch, so all being well i'll get back to posting about the films we love, just so busy clearing up my dads estate, as they call it, you'd think he was loaded. Anyway thanks again and i'll be back to posting soon.

_____________________________

"You listen to me now,i will find you and i will kill you!"

(in reply to Dr Lenera)
Post #: 15453
RE: WEIRD/STRANGE favorite movies? - 8/4/2014 8:22:37 PM   
Dr Lenera

 

Posts: 3999
Joined: 19/10/2005

Young actress Julie Sawyer accidentally runs over a stray White German Shepherd dog one night. After the dog is treated by a vet, Julie takes him home while trying to find his owners. The animal seems friedly, loyal and even protective when it saves her from a rapist who breaks into her house and tries to attack her, so she decides to adopt him, despite this being against the wishes of her boyfriend Roland Grale. However, the dog reveals a nasty side to itself when, for seemingly no reason at all, it pounces on a coloured binman. It was trained from birth to attack and kill black people….

Hollywood likes to present an image of being a ‘right-on’, ‘liberal’ town and loves to pat itself on the back when it produces or is faced with anti-racist movies, the nadir of this probably being when the infuriating preachy and simplistic Crash won Best Picture in 2004. Ellen Degeneres said it right at this year’s Academy Awards where she jokingly but also pointedly said:

“Possibility No. 1: 12 Years a Slave wins best picture. Possibility No. 2: You’re all racists”.

However, sometimes Hollywood contradicts itself. Just read the next line. According to a character in White Dog, a ‘white dog’ is a canine trained to attack black people, usually by placing a puppy in the ‘care’ of a black person who they know would abominably treat it and in the process make it hate negroes [Romain Gray, who wrote the book the film was based on, was inspired by real incidents when she adopted a dog and it attacked two black people]. What a powerful concept for a film this is, and I would like to think that any person with even one brain cell would immediately realise what a searing examination of racism it could be even before it got into the hands of a maverick film-maker like Samuel Fuller who had made a partially anti-racist film decades before in The Crimson Kimono. However, under pressure from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People [NAACP], who clearly had the best intentions and were rightfully battling against the marginalisation and stereotypical portrayal of black people in Hollywood, but who had a problem with White Dog before they’d even seen any footage, Columbia got scared and didn’t release the film in the US. It did come out in many other parts of the world including the UK, though it’s hardly been an easy film to find or see even here in Blighty. Fuller, a film-maker whose work was often only appreciated years after its initial release, was so dejected by what happened that he moved to France and never made another picture.

A sad story then, even if White Dog isn’t actually that good. All films [well, maybe not quite all] deserve a chance. Fortunately, White Dog, a film that I’m immensely glad I’ve finally caught up with thanks to the good people at Eureka Entertianment, is very good indeed. It could be called both a drama and a horror movie [though it’s less Cujo and more Dr Jekyll and Mr Hound], but it makes no bones about being more than anything else a parable about racial prejudice. I tend to dislike films which preach – though they definitely have their place in cinema and a great many fine film-makers have tried to educate and enlighten as well as entertain – that kind of film-making generally doesn’t sit well with me though of course there are exceptions. White Dog, though, doesn’t preach. It simply presents us with one of the worst of all the problems that have blighted mankind since its beginnings and asks if it can be stopped. Is racism a disease that can be cured? Or is it something within us that can never be totally stamped out? Or is hatred the real problem? I don’t think it’s saying too much that White Dog doesn’t really give you the answer. Instead, it just offers suggestions and lets the viewer make up his or her mind.

Many Of Fuller’s films, Shock Corridor and The Naked Kiss being perhaps his two best known, have become cult favourites. As well as making movies from strong premises feeling like they had been ripped from newspaper headlines, ex-journalist Fuller also gave his films a very punchy film-making style that actually makes them feel very modern, yet still more ‘controlled’ than some films today where it often seems to me like the director, the cinematographer and the editor don’t seem to have much idea of what they’re doing. White Dog, though dating from 1982, is one of the best shot [by Bruce Surtees, responsible for lensing some of Clint Eastwood’s best films] and cut pictures I’ve seen in a while. The edits are often done for maximum effect yet always seem appropriate, while the camera can go from swooping down on something from high up like a bird to assuming the level of the dog in the film. The scenes where the dog attacks people, and there are many of those though the level of gruesomeness isn’t as high as you may have expected, are handled in the frenzied, fast-cutting manner beloved of today, though the shots cut together very well. It also helps disguise any obvious fakery though I couldn’t spot any shots of a dummy animal, the dog [or rather five, five mutts playing the ‘white dog’ in the film] always seeming real.

White Dog opens with actress Julie Sawyer hitting the dog with her car, only you don’t actually see the incident because all the viewer sees for a short while is a black screen. It’s a brave device. Then, for a short while, it really does seem that we are watching an archetypal family-friendly dog movie as human and canine bond. There’s a really sweet scene where the dog opens his eyes at the vet’s as people are talking about him. I admit to having a weakness for dogs and this one has such cute eyes, in fact the White German Shepherd’s whole face will be totally lovable to any dog-lover, some of whom may fall in love with it, especially when it saves Julie from a rapist who breaks into her house, even if it then feels a need to smash through a window to chase after the man after it has already attacked him. All this is obviously part of the point Fuller [would you believe it Roman Polanski was originally going to direct this movie until a certain criminal act committed by himself made him flee America] and his co-writer Curtis Hanson are making; that evil may lurk in the most unsuspecting places. The music by the great Ennio Morricone [which sometimes makes use of a repeated musical pattern for piano that he later re-used in, interestingly, Wolf] is really intelligent here. It’s darkly beautiful, lyrical and emotive, but with a sinister undercurrent.

Of course it soon becomes apparent that the seemingly friendly dog has been trained to attack anyone who has a dark skin. There’s some really uneasy suspense in some scenes like when it wonders into an area of a town largely populated by blacks and you see a young boy playing with a balloon who may be the dog’s next victim. Much of the film though is set in a place called Noah’s Ark, a place specialising in training animals for films and TV, where top trainer Keys, who is black, believes he can ‘break’ the dog and takes on the task as a personal challenge. Some of these scenes are quite uncomfortable, not just because the dog could possibly bite the man’s hand off but because the dog is actually being mistreated by him, even if it’s supposedly for the greater good. The way the story goes means that perhaps we don’t get all the thrills a film with a killer dog may be expected to have, but it’s very compulsive viewing nonetheless. There’s the occasional lighter moment, especially from the facility operator Mr. Carruthers, well played by Burl Ives, who, unhappy with the way robots are taking over from animals in movie popularity, likes to throw darts at a picture of C3PO [Fuller obviously commenting on the way films seemed to him to be going at the time], but generally this is a very intense, uncompromising movie. I felt immensely uneasy at times, but was reassured that this was exactly how I was meant to feel, and the ending certainly left food for thought.

Kristy McNichol does really well in the role of a person who has to deal with the fact the mutt she has fallen in love with is a mentally damaged, psychopathic killer. The script intelligently has her character actually want the dog to be shot at one point. Paul Winfield though gives the stand-out performance as Keys [a scene in a church displays really superb acting], really showing the character’s internal conflict yet also his determination. You’ll be rooting for him to ‘cure’ the dog while at the same time wondering if it’s all for naught. White Dog has a few script flaws, like one seemingly major character just disappearing from the story, and perhaps isn’t quite as exciting as it could have been considering its premise, but it’s nonetheless one of the most thought-provoking anti-racist films ever made. In no way did I feel I was being preached to, yet I still felt angry and depressed at the fact that racism exists and that, while we may not all be racists, we all certainly possess the ‘ability’ to hate. I like to think that, if it was made now, this film would get the favourable reception it deserves.

Rating: 8.5/10

_____________________________

check out more of my reviews on http://horrorcultfilms.co.uk/

(in reply to evil bill)
Post #: 15454
RE: WEIRD/STRANGE favorite movies? - 8/4/2014 8:27:55 PM   
Dr Lenera

 

Posts: 3999
Joined: 19/10/2005

In Ancient Greece, King Amphitryon invades the shores of a neighbouring kingdom and kills his adversary King Galenus in a duel, thereby winning his kingdom and army. Amphitryon’s estranged wife Alcmene prays for help and is visited by the goddess Hera, who prophesises that Alcmene will bear the son of Zeus and he will be the saviour of her people. Alcmene soon gives birth to a baby boy named Alcides, but his real name is Hercules. Twenty years later, Hercules still knows nothing of his background or destiny and is in love with Hebe, Princess Of Crete, who has been promised to his brother….

It would make a fantastically thrill-packed, spectacular epic, the story of Hercules, or rather Heracles as he should really be called though it’s the Roman version of his name that is commonly used. The son of a mortal woman and Zeus the king of the gods, an attempt is made on his life right from when he’s a baby by Hera the jealous wife of Zeus, and who eventually succeeds in driving him mad and making him kill his wife and children. As penance, he has to perform twelve labours, which range from him going to slay fantastical beasts to cleaning out the world’s most disgusting stable given to him by a king, labours which result in him having to do such things as briefly hold the world on his shoulders and visit Hell. I’ve only skimmed the surface of the story of Hercules, but I’m sure you get the picture, and considering virtually anything can be now realised on screen and the popularity of films like Peter Jackson’s Tolkien outings, you’d think they’d attempt it now. With another Hercules picture soon to follow the one reviewed here into cinemas, you’d think one of them would attempt to be faithful and do the tale justice.

It looks that this could actually be the case with Brett Ratner’s forthcoming film, but it certainly isn’t the case with this one, and worse than that it’s a pretty poor movie too, yet another big disappointment from Renny Harlin who made two of the best American action movies of the 90’s and at least three other hugely fun pictures. He even had a hand in the script of this one too. The baffling idea they had with this film is to take out most of the fantasy aspects from the story of the early years of Hercules and basically make something more along the lines of Gladiator, with amazingly similar characters and story beats. Various other shoddy recent offerings like the Conan The Barbarian remake and Immortals also seem to be an influence, in fact The Legend Of Hercules just seems to be made up from little more than spare parts of other films, while having few of their saving graces like Conan The Barbarian’s unrestrained brutality or Immortals’ radiant look. Of course one shouldn’t expect film adaptations to always be faithful to their sources, but aside from a couple of scenes involving Hera, a stupid lightning whip at the end and a hilarious scene where Alcmene is being made love to by the invisible Zeus, this film shouldn’t really have the title it does, while Kellan Lutz’s irritating Russell Crowe impersonation made me yearn for Kevin Sorbo, and that’s bad. In fact, shoot me now, but Steve Reeves was a better Hercules.

There’s one rather good battle scene in a cave that shows signs of Harlin’s old action chops, but overall the simple revenge story is mostly taken up with repetitive fight scenes which, while mostly devoid of shakycam and stupidly fast cutting, tend to have a slow motion shot every few seconds that usually robs the scenes of any rhythm, this eventually getting so tiresome even Zach Snyder would have found it excessive. Meanwhile a great many scenes take place against incredibly unconvincing CGI backdrops while characters actually seem to shimmer in the foreground, while a lion not only doesn’t look like it’s actually there but for God’s sake doesn’t even look like a lion. Even things which are easy to do like arena crowds are horribly botched – the people watching the gladiatorial combats look like nothing less than components of a computer program, which of course they are. There are some prettily photographed scenes in and around a lake which seem to have strayed in from another film, and I will say that, while I had no interest in seeing The Legend Of Hercules in 3D, it did look like it was using 3D the right way – as a gimmick – with lots of things looming out at the audience. It actually might have helped the experience, and that’s not something I say very often – I mean this is a film where ancient Greek soldiers are dressed like Romans.

This movie is downright bizarre in the way that people are injured or killed but there’s no visible aftermath. One guy falls on a sword but you don’t even see the blade come out of his stomach! There’s nothing wrong with a sword and sandal flick that holds back on the violence, but this one just does it in a terribly clumsy and stupid way. The performances are generally reasonable though sometimes cast members visibly have trouble delivering the clunky dialogue with any conviction. Scott Adkins does surprisingly well in villain mode and gets a couple of chances to show off his martial arts skills. There’s also a rather good, old-fashioned score with at least one strong theme from Tuomas Kantelinen, who is a composer I shall look out for, but the music is too constant and even amusingly grand for such a lousy film. Despite slating it for most of this review, The Legend Of Hercules is kind of entertaining, in the way bad movies can be. An entertaining bad movie which you can laugh at is often a better way of passing the time then a run-of-the-mill film that is neither good nor bad, but this particular picture is still a failure on most levels. It’s one of those films where you have to wonder if anyone involved in making it actually saw the final cut.

Rating: 3/10

_____________________________

check out more of my reviews on http://horrorcultfilms.co.uk/

(in reply to Dr Lenera)
Post #: 15455
RE: WEIRD/STRANGE favorite movies? - 8/4/2014 8:31:22 PM   
Dr Lenera

 

Posts: 3999
Joined: 19/10/2005

As a young boy, Noah witnessed his father being killed by a young king named Tubal-Cain, who wanted to seize their land. The king then looted Lamech’s corpse for an ancient snake skin which had been passed down from Adam and Eve to Seth and his descendants while Noah hid away. Many years later, Noah is living with his wife Naameh and his three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Haunted by vivid dreams of a flood , Noah becomes convinced that the Creator is telling him that all life will be destroyed by water. He travels with his family to visit his grandfather, Methuselah, who gives him a seed passed down from the Garden of Eden. He plants it and an entire forest grows in seconds. Noah announces that all the wood will be used to build an ark….

It seems that any religious film, or film based on a religious subject, is bound to cause much fuss, but after reading the rows on places like the IMDB, you could be forgiven for thinking that people have gone mad. On one side you have your extreme Christians who won’t tolerate any deviation from their Holy Bible [one irritating result of this being that huge numbers of them, many of whom haven’t even seen the film, have rated it 1 out of 10 on the IMDB which drastically lowers its overall score] and on the other side you have your extreme Atheists who just don’t tolerate Christians [and it does often seem to be Christianity they hate more than any other religion for some reason] and therefore think that any Christian-based material is nonsense and worthy of nothing more than scorn. Frankly I think it’s all a bit pathetic and is evidence of huge narrow mindedness. All this doesn’t seem to have harmed the box office takings, which are surprisingly high in a time where sword and sandal epics tend not to attract the paying public and are even considered passé by many, though of course we almost didn’t get to see director Darren Aronofsky’s original cut, the studio laughably trying out an enormously cut down and re-edited version to please all these fanatical Christians in the States.

Now I love sword and sandal epics, though they don’t tend to be very good at the moment. Hell, I even tend to enjoy Biblical films because I think they are great stories full of the ingredients that great stories have. Therefore I could hardly wait to see what the genius director of Black Swan, The Fountain and Requiem For A Dream, who actually wrote a poem about Noah for school that won a United Nations contest and has clearly been interested in the story ever since, would do with Noah. The result is one of those wonderfully ambitious, messy follies that reaches for greatness and doesn’t really succeed, but is far more praise-worthy and interesting than most of the other stuff that’s out there at the moment. Now Aronofsky is an Atheist, said fact in itself obviously being enough to upset many, and his film doesn’t follow the story of Noah exactly, though it’s such a short story that any film adaptation would have to add a whole lot. However, it does explore Christian values such as faith, obedience, providence and salvation, Aronofsky certainly respectful of these things despite not being a Christian, and to me he doesn’t insult the Bible or God. This isn’t the Old Testament of Sunday school, this is the Old Testament closer to how it actually is, full of violence, harshness and ambiguities, containing supposedly sympathetic characters who sack cities massacring women and children, or supposedly sympathetic characters who commit incest, and a God who is as cruel more than he is kind. Aronofksy and his co-writer Ari Handel have taken many liberties, but they’ve taken many of them with thought and even respect for the deep themes of the story.

Noah is not set in a conventional Middle Eastern past. Rather, and it’s a perfectly decent idea considering that equivalents of the tale of Noah exist in many ancient mythologies, it’s set in a more fantastical past that doesn’t seem to be part of any particular culture, though it sometimes actually feels that it’s all taking place in a post-apocalyptic world with the amount of pains that have been taken to present a world that has gone to rot. There’s even mention of an industrial civilisation, though it’s ludicrous that any ancient civilisation would be able to almost entirely ‘ruin’ the world, meaning that Aronovky and Handel make a bit of a mistake in bringing an environmentalist agenda to the story. It also leaves them to contradict themselves with things like us being shown the remnants of a forest that has been destroyed, yet we have Noah do exactly the same thing when he builds his Ark, unless it’s meant ironically, which I doubt. Still, Noah’s forbidding world is still a convincing one, the Icelandic locations superbly utilised, at least until the Seraphim appear. They’re fallen angels who have been transformed into rock giants, which is a cool idea, but they just look and move like bloody Transformers, a problem when they get a huge amount of screen time!

Aronovsky and Handel do successfully bring in hints of other Bible tales like Sodom and Gomorrah and Androcles and The Lion, even if certain other elements like one of Noah’s son’s falling for a woman from the other side of the tracks seem to be given short shrift. Noah feels a bit cut down, yet it’s long enough already and some scenes and elements don’t seem to have a whole lot of point. The villain of the piece for quite a while seems to be Tubal-Cain, the brutal king who supposedly rules where Noah is building his ark, but as the flood gets underway and after a Lord Of The Rings-esque battle scene, it seems that Noah himself is becoming the bad guy. The film really does delve into some dark waters, daring to ask if religious zealotry and paranoid delusion might be the same thing, and creates some very uncomfortable tension, while those who hate what the writers have done with the character should probably remember tales like the story of Abraham, whom God asked to sacrifice his son to test his faith. It helps immensely that, after some rather ropey performances, Russell Crowe is back to being his powerful best as an actor, conveying his character’s internal conflicts very convincingly. Of course Ray Winstone just does his usual hard man act and Logan Lerman still has no charisma whatsoever.

Aronofsky sometimes seems a little lost and a little ill at ease in a big budget fantasy movie full of special effects. While Noah certainly fits in with the rest of his filmography which tends to share similar themes like rebirth and an obsessive protagonist, it does seem somewhat studio-constrained, even if what we have here is indeed his original cut. The intoxicating dreamlike feel to all of Aronofsky’s work except The Wrestler is missing here, while the special effects are a mixed bag. The animals look fine, though the actual flood is distinctly underwhelming and very anti-climactic except for one bit where Noah and his family are inside the ark and we here the screams of drowning people from outside, whereupon we cut to the harrowing sight of folk clinging to the top of a mountain as water swoops up to sweep them away. The most interesting scene is a creation sequence, done mostly with quick freeze frames, which begins in space and fast forwards to the destructiveness of mankind. The familiar, simple but strong imagery is effective and there’s even some wit – where are the apes? – though a few of the more personal touches elsewhere grate. I guess that, for instance, if you’re against eating meat, you’ll love a film which is clearly pro-vegetarianism, but if you’re not, like me, then you may get irritated at the obvious messaging. This is the thing about Noah: there’s much that doesn’t work, and much that might even annoy, but there’s also much that’s really great and there’s so much in it to admire even if nobody would probably love everything in the film.

Matthew Libatique’s cinematography gives us lots of lovely silhouette shots, but Clint Mansell’s score is underwhelming. It’s not bad, and backs up whatever occurs on-screen reasonably well, but lacks anything memorable and often just sounds like adaptations of his superb score to The Fountain, which is the Aronofksy film Noah has been most compared to. This project should have inspired Mansell to do better. Aronofsky has made much better movies – in fact I’d say most of his other films are better than Noah – but in a weird way it’s very admirable, and not just that the studio let him go ahead and do it. I’m not entirely convinced that Aronofsky’s nihilism was totally right for this tale, but his fearlessness and authority have certainly given him the right to tell it. Noah may be set in some mythological past, but it seems vital and alive. If only Aronofsky was making Exodus: Gods And Kings rather than that has-been Ridley Scott. We would really have something. As for Noah, I found a lot wrong with it, but there are times it tries really hard to be great and there are traces of a masterpiece here and there.

Rating: 7.5/10

_____________________________

check out more of my reviews on http://horrorcultfilms.co.uk/

(in reply to Dr Lenera)
Post #: 15456
RE: WEIRD/STRANGE favorite movies? - 9/4/2014 10:38:18 AM   
Whistler


Posts: 3133
Joined: 22/11/2006
Very well reasoned review of Noah, doc. I felt similarly about it: there are clear problems throughout, but in the end it sort of won me over due to the confidence, scale and performances.

(in reply to Dr Lenera)
Post #: 15457
RE: WEIRD/STRANGE favorite movies? - 9/4/2014 8:03:20 PM   
evil bill


Posts: 6730
Joined: 19/7/2006
From: mordor/ uk
quote:

ORIGINAL: Dr Lenera




Matthew Libatique's cinematography gives us lots of lovely silhouette shots, but Clint Mansell's score is underwhelming. It's not bad, and backs up whatever occurs on-screen reasonably well, but lacks anything memorable and often just sounds like adaptations of his superb score to The Fountain, which is the Aronofksy film Noah has been most compared to. This project should have inspired Mansell to do better. Aronofsky has made much better movies – in fact I'd say most of his other films are better than Noah – but in a weird way it's very admirable, and not just that the studio let him go ahead and do it. I'm not entirely convinced that Aronofsky's nihilism was totally right for this tale, but his fearlessness and authority have certainly given him the right to tell it. Noah may be set in some mythological past, but it seems vital and alive. If only Aronofsky was making Exodus: Gods And Kings rather than that has-been Ridley Scott. We would really have something. As for Noah, I found a lot wrong with it, but there are times it tries really hard to be great and there are traces of a masterpiece here and there.

Rating: 7.5/10

I'm a great fan of sword and sandal epics, be they pure fantasy, based on some historical event or even Biblical, but only The Passion Of The Christ has excited me in this section of the past few decades. For me it was more Horror film with some stunning Biblical images straight out of the great Italian tradition of holy art, but with a great cast, and must admit I loved the outrage it caused. Anyway had no real interest in this film, but suddenly there's this great trailer, and some outraged morons, so now I want to see it and this review has made that a must see this weekend. As for Sir Ridley's new film I will as a fan of the great man give it ago, but am not expecting much to be honest, and of course there's a few other films of this kind heading our way along with a flood of comic heroes new and old, so should be a decent year for film.  

_____________________________

"You listen to me now,i will find you and i will kill you!"

(in reply to Dr Lenera)
Post #: 15458
RE: WEIRD/STRANGE favorite movies? - 10/4/2014 8:22:20 PM   
Whistler


Posts: 3133
Joined: 22/11/2006

Director: Gareth Evans; Screenwriter: Gareth Evans; Starring: Iko Uwais, Julie Estelle, Yayan Ruhian, Donny Alamsya, Arifin Putra, Oka Antara, Alex Abbad, Tio Pakusodewo; Running time: 150 minutes; Certification: 18

When you told people back in 2011 that it was a Welsh guy behind this new Indonesian martial arts flick that’s garnering attention left, right and centre, most of them (understandably) wouldn’t believe you. But indeed director Gareth Evans is a Welshman who did indeed make an Indonesian martial arts flick which was indeed one of the best action films in cinema’s long history. Taking notes from its protagonist, The Raid absolutely smacked audiences in the face with its unique blend of brutal martial arts and astute choreography with a Westernised sense of bravado. We just weren’t used to such an experience, to such exhilarating, lightening-paced, ruthless action that didn’t rely on explosions or cities crumbling to the ground. Every sequence took place in the closed confines of a tenement building, with only the impact of fists to provide that shock and awe.

Fast-forward a few years and we’ve arrived at the sequel, which picks up mere hours after the last film left off and expands the singular setting into a labyrinth-like plot with more characters and more blood. The first blatant difference between the two films is the running time, and at 150 minutes, The Raid 2 is certainly too long. The crux of the film remains the action – it’s the main selling point that will draw audiences into theatres - but this time around we’re forced to be patient and earn the privilege through heavily-dialogued exposition and story expansion.

That’s not in itself a problem, and usually I’m one to enjoy action movies more, superhero or otherwise, when there’s a good deal of quality dialogue and character development to invest in and ultimately reap the rewards from, but in this instance it just doesn’t entirely hang together. While much of it is perfectly gripping, it too often stifles the pace and tries to say just a bit too much while not actually saying that much at all. The whole thing plays out a bit like an Eastern revenge thriller, hearkening to films like I Saw The Devil and Oldboy, but the plot more masquerades as intricate and compelling when actually it’s rather generic turf war/mob boss stuff, and the dialogue is perhaps too explanatory (it’s possible that something could be lost in the subtitle translation, but that’s unlikely).

On the other hand, and perhaps more importantly, the expansion of the story and setting lends itself to a much richer tapestry of set-pieces. Rather than being lashed to a single environment, we’re treated to a whole variety of different settings which each yield their own potential for stunning choreography. Just like the first film, the action sequences are handled deftly yet ferociously, only somehow vamped up and beyond what we previously experienced. From kitchens and subway trains to warehouses and car chases, it’s the most explosive, blistering, adrenalin-fuelled mayhem. The kind of action where your whole body seizes up, where every smack and crack cuts right through you.

The time and effort Evans has put into the film is clearly not lost. The action sequences are the most obvious example of his dedication, but there’s also something to be said for just how great the film looks when it’s standing still. Cinematographers Matt Flannery and Dimas Imam Subhono have done a fantastic job of composing each frame to spark and crackle – even the stationary shots in a murky bathroom or muddy prison yard. Beyond that, there’s a real sense of autuerism going on behind the scenes. Evans knows exactly what he wants to do, and while the film is too long, no shot looks unnecessary.

For action junkies, there really is nothing better. Certainly the plot is less interesting that it would like to think and it lacks the incisive explosiveness of the first film, but there is some really good stuff in there – and even if there wasn’t, the action sequences would more than make up for it. Evans cements himself as a master of visual potency while dipping his toes in the realms of story and character. While the latter doesn’t always hold together, it still makes for thrilling, exhilarating, jaw-dropping entertainment.

4/5

< Message edited by Whistler -- 11/4/2014 11:32:07 PM >

(in reply to evil bill)
Post #: 15459
RE: WEIRD/STRANGE favorite movies? - 10/4/2014 10:39:27 PM   
dannyfletch


Posts: 648
Joined: 25/5/2008
From: Bromley
Good to see we are back up and running on here after I almost thought it was permanently gone!
Good review of Noah and one I will hopefully see soon.

Recently saw Under The Skin with the lovely Scarlett Johansson and loved every weird moment of it. Don't know if anyone on here has seen it yet but I strongly recommend it if you haven't. Disturbing, surreal, visually striking and very well acted and made, it certainly will be a marmite film but it got me hooked and I can't wait to own it!

< Message edited by dannyfletch -- 10/4/2014 10:40:12 PM >

(in reply to Dr Lenera)
Post #: 15460
RE: WEIRD/STRANGE favorite movies? - 11/4/2014 7:56:06 PM   
Mister Coe

 

Posts: 1561
Joined: 20/10/2012
Just watched KNIGHTS OF BADASSDOM at my mates house, a film I've been dying to see for years, not least because it stars Peter Dinklage and Summer Glau...

Quite enjoyed it, not a classic but entertaining enough. Can't understand why it's been sat on the shelf for about five years... there are far worse films about. I can understand why it's finally being released now, what with Dinklage being so hot right now (I think this movie predates GOT?) although be warned, his character is very much a supporting one. And Ms Glau is just so damn cute...

It probably could do with some explanation about how the whole LARPing thing works... my mate is heavily into that scene and he explained it to me, but the casual viewer might go a bit 'ummm... what?'

Still, a decent fun watch, check it out if you get chance...

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Post #: 15461
RE: WEIRD/STRANGE favorite movies? - 12/4/2014 10:26:11 AM   
Platter

 

Posts: 113
Joined: 14/8/2010
Safety Not Guaranteed (2012) 6 out of 10
I knew the story wouldn't really explore time travel and would be about hanging out with an eccentric. I was okay with that but the great story idea feels too short changed and there is a strong feeling of wasted potential. A much better film could have been made from that story. It was alright but it doesn't really satisfy due to sketchy characterisations and a plot that bumbles along without much dramatic bite or many comedic moments. Not a bad film but not as good as it could have been.


Riddick - Director's Cut (2013) 7
There's nothing original in it but it's the sort of thing that is usually made as a cheap low budget straight to rental B movie. For once though it has a decent budget, decent actors, competent special effects and a leading man with some leading man charisma and persona. So they had a chance to do it right for once and not be hobbled by the budget. The results are a competent horror-action hybrid. It entertained me more than adequately and I enjoyed it for what it was. The script was average but it did the job perhaps slightly better than it strictly speaking had to. The voice overs at the start are a bit ripe with hardboiled dialogue. A fairly good film.


Gun Shy (2000) 5
I've been aware of this film for over a decade. It never in the least appealed to me. Then recently I read a 3 out of 5 review that compared it to Zero Effect. This piqued my curiosity. It was okay but it's very insubstantial to the point you wonder how it ever got made. Why did this piece of random nothingness get through the notoriously difficult Hollywood system and get made? It feels more like an oddball indie movie like Double Whammy (2001) than something a mini-studio (Hollywood Pictures) would make. The story doesn't hang together very convincingly and feels too much like separate quirky elements stitched together without much overall cohesive intention. The film feels very bodged together. Many scenes seem underpowered with wasted potential (the accidental lunch meeting in particular). The script just about works and there is something mildly appealing about how slight it is. The film is competently directed from this odd script and so the end results are watchable and sometimes amusing, although it doesn't work that well as an outright comedy or drama. It's just a very peculiar movie. Neither good or bad. In the review they complained that Sandra Bullock's character was a constant deus ex machina, but I didn't see that. Not only did she not conveniently create solutions from out of nowhere, she also made little impact on the story. Her character could have been written out and it would have made no difference to the story. The movie was decent and I'm fairly glad I decided to watch it after all these years.


Last Night (1998) 6
Decent low budget end of the world movie. It's very Canadian as it's a very polite and lawful vision of the last day on Earth. The makers decided early on not to do a film about rape and carnage and murder. Instead the fabric of society has stayed mostly intact. Even up to the last hours the gas and electricity is still working (people use lifts instead of stairs!). It's a vision of the end that is hard to swallow but that doesn't matter - the decision was made to present it in this clean, sanitised way. They don't use the last days to make any philosophical points or anything. It's really just a so-so Indie drama of people talking. Perhaps a bit more quirkiness to the dialogue and characters wouldn't have gone amiss. There is a slight middle of the road blandness to the movie which makes it rather forgettable. It's okay for what it is. The low budget is rather obvious as the production design doesn't convince and there aren't enough extras. It was alright. Nothing special.


The Brothers Bloom (2008) 8
Very stylised quirky movie that's a bit like Wes Anderson if he did a con movie. The plot is nothing special but it has some original touches to it, the script has a bit of spark and it's well directed. Rachel Weisz plays an interestingly eccentric character who provides an amusing and appealing centre to the silliness. The very last plot twist at the end is very good. A good solid movie with an offbeat style. A lot of fun and often funny.


Looper (2012) 8 [Second viewing]
A film of two halves. One better than the other. The first half is an excellent and very imaginative sci-fi action film with time travel. If the film had kept to this it could have been as well regarded as Blade Runner. The second half is mostly set on a farm. It's not as interesting or as fun as the urban stuff. It's almost a half hour languor before things start happening again. The second half is not bad, or weak, but it's inferior to the first half. It's a very interesting film full of neat ideas and concepts and clever ways of telling the story. I want to like it more than I do. Great first half, slightly above average second half.


Gravity (2013) 8
A great spectacle. There isn't much of a plot. There is a bit more of an emotional impact to it than I expected. It was very good but I wasn't blown away by it. An impressive movie and a new benchmark for convincing space set sequences. The long takes are good for orientating the viewer and for keeping the tension going. I liked it a lot but I didn't love it.


John Dies in the End (2012) 8
Very odd, very peculiar and very funny. It's just so randomly daft with a threadbare story as an excuse for lots of random weird stuff. It worked and I liked it a lot. Very entertaining. The ending didn't quite work as the film didn't feel like it was leading up to that point (also the heavier use of CGI was poor). Very, very odd and very funny. I really enjoyed it.


John Dies in the End (2012) 8
Held up to a second viewing without any problem. It remained funny. Very good film. The story is a mess but I didn't expect anything like coherence or a point to the story, and certainly no explanation, so I have no problems with the chaotically random script. it is what it is, and I took to it.


Brick (2005) 7
It was good. Far from perfect though. The idea (40s detective noir in a modern day high school) was very interesting and was mostly well done. It worked. More or less. The story wasn't brilliant but it was convoluted enough and full of funny and weird moments. I didn't really understand the whole story, but I didn't expect to anyway. Not on only one viewing. The execution had a few problems. The already cryptic dialogue was often mumbled by the actors so it was very hard to follow what anyone was saying. A lot of dialogue was lost on me as it was a difficult combination to follow. Also some of the directing was poor. In his attempts at being stylish he sometimes made bad decisions that were awkward and annoying. Howard Hawkes said that the definition of a good director was someone who didn't annoy the audience. This director failed in that regard. Some of the camera angles looked terrible (the VP's office with Roundtree is a terrible looking scene with extreme low angles) and some of the editing (lots of jump cuts, or rapid cuts during fights) simply didn't work. I get the impression the script would be more fun to read than to watch the final filmed results as you can luxuriate in the weird words at your own pace.


The World's End (2013) 7
***SPOILERS***

It was good and more effective as a film than the poor advertising suggested (they shouldn't have tried to hide the robots). The first hour is very good and stylish. After a point it gets a bit repetitive and loses its way a bit. A lot of running about and noise that felt like time filling bloat. The climax is weird, and not in a good way, and the very end set in the future doesn't work at all. It was good, but the last twenty or so minutes let it down (from about after Rosamund Pike drives away from the town).


Kick-Ass 2 (2013) 8
Solid action comedy. It doesn't excel in any departments but it has a story that's interesting and it's well made. I thought it worked and I'm puzzled as to how it was well regarded upon release and then within a month had a massive nosedive in general opinion.


American Splendour (2004) 8
Interesting oddball subject matter that isn't obvious material for a feature film. Curious mixing and matching of real people and actors. Clever and inventive and quite funny in places.


Lost Highway (1997) 5
The story has many interesting ideas in it, but it also has languors and many not at all interesting sections. As clever as some of it is, I can't help but feeling that overall the story itself isn't all that interesting. The first forty-five minutes with Bill Pullman are the strongest. I've never liked the Getty section all that much. I didn't like the actor and I thought the majority of his section before the house break-in was fairly boring except for several moments with other characters. The Getty section worked better this time and I didn't mind the actor much either. The last ten or so minutes became rather random and loose from its own narrative. The pace is quite slow and I can't help feeling that a shorter running time wouldn't do any harm. The film could do with more dialogue as it would allow the characters a chance to breathe and be more realistic. Also the long pauses and monotones the actors speak in don't do anyone any favours. A bit of warmth between the actors would have been nice. Lynch creates an oppressive atmosphere with his tightly controlled night-time visuals and the small enclosed world of the story. The film actively depresses you as you watch it so you walk away from it with a down feeling. Neither a good film or a bad one. Of considerable merit, but also more hard work than pleasurable to watch. A hard going film that is consistently cold and brittle when it didn't have to be.


Art School Confidential (2006) 7
I think it held together better as a film on this second viewing. It has a strange tone as there is a distinct whiff of the middle of the road to it (specifically the strangler plotline), but there are also many moments and characters and ideas in it that are misanthropic or extreme enough to be more than just business as usual work. Visually it looks a bit flat and TV movie like. I really enjoyed the film. John Malkovich was brilliant as the art teacher. Some of it is highly amusing and the art school setting is very interesting. A film of considerable merit but not as good as it could be.


The Phantom of the Paradise (1974) 5
It's hard to know how I feel about it. It's overblown high camp nonsense that's not to be taken seriously. It suffers from bad taste, but it's fairly deliberate so can you really complain about it? The plot was a fairly lumpy, random thing with a weird tacked on ending that has little connection to the story we've been watching. Some of the acting was weak. Beef, the camp hard rocker, was a funny character. The music was quite good. I didn't like it but I didn't dislike it either. I guess overall it was okay. Interesting to see once, but I'm not sure if I would want to watch it again. An interesting curio in the Rocky Horror Picture Show style.


Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

I received an advance DVD review copy if you're wondering why I'm reviewing this now.

A minor Coen brothers film that has little to offer a general audience
The Coen brothers self-written films have a tendency to fall into two categories in my opinion.

1. Those that have stories that work and actually go somewhere like Miller's Crossing, Fargo, The Big Lebowski and Burn After Reading. Great movies.

2. Those that have stories that don't really work and go nowhere like Barton Fink, The Hudsucker Proxy and A Serious Man. Their whole scripts feel like dead end sub-plots in search of a proper story to tell.

Inside Llewyn Davis falls into the latter category.

The story doesn't have any particular end point it's aiming towards. The script meanders in an episodic fashion and shows obvious signs of being made up as it goes along. There was something slight and insubstantial about it, and I could see the nuts and bolts of the writing moving underneath. It's a very mechanical Coens by numbers script with obvious repetitions of their trademark writing elements.

I knew it wasn't going to be overtly comic, but I expected a bit more humour and colour to it. It's quite a depressing movie about commercial failure and poverty. There are a few funny moments, but they are rare.

There were a few set piece scenes for distinguished actors to impress. F Murray Abraham got the best scene and line. I didn't care for the John Goodman section. The long driving sequence felt like bloat and it wasn't amusing or interesting with bizarre detail.

Technically the film is very well made. The acting is very good and I think the actors performed the music themselves live on camera. It's well directed although the visuals were deliberately dank so I can't say I thought it looked good. It's the weak, hollow, aimless script that is the big let-down.

The best joke was the discovery of what was under the table beside the couch. That had me laughing at how nasty and cynical and subtle it was. Brutal. Just brutal.

The folk music background wasn't explored in any great detail. If you read Uncut magazine etc you might find the movie doesn't get into the guts of the setting as much as you might be expecting. If that was the main reason why I was watching it, I would have been disappointed.

The music was okay. I wouldn't personally rush out to buy the soundtrack. The silly novelty song they record in the studio is scarily catchy.

My brother started the film with me. He bailed at the fourteen minute point. I think most fair-weather audience members will be like him. It's a film for a select, dedicated audience of music and film buffs. I don't think the film has much appeal to anyone else who isn't already highly interested in the makers or the subject matter. It's a cold, rather bland film, and as usual with the Coen brothers there's something a little impenetrable and audience unfriendly about it.

I didn't like the movie. I also didn't dislike it. It was for me dead on average. It's a lesser Coen brothers film. Not their worst by a long shot but far from their best. It's a film of minor pleasures. I would recommend it only to folk music/music magazine readers and film buffs/Coen brothers fans. I honestly don't think the film has anything to offer anyone else.

The day before watching this I put on a DVD from 2008 (Margot at the Wedding*) and ended up seeing the trailer for No Country for Old Men**. Curiously the lead character in that film is called Llewyn as well. It's an odd name for the same film makers to use twice for their lead characters (I'm aware that Old Men was based on a famous book they couldn't muck about with too much).

5 out of 10


* Margot at the Wedding (2007) 6
A small, bitty little movie that doesn't have any obvious purpose to it. Why is this story interesting? I'm not sure. The characters aren't particularly compelling and not a lot of any importance takes place. The plot lurched from scene to scene in a fragmented way and didn't seem to be leading anywhere revelatory. Margot is an unpleasant character but not a big enough monster to really support a whole movie about her. The ending on the bus was very abrupt and unsatisfying.


** No Country for Old Men (2007) 9
Very stylish, pared down lean mean action thriller - the sort of thing Walter Hill could only dream of making. Great story and odd little details along with interesting characters. Very strong film. It's only let down by an anti-climactic ending. The ending takes place off screen and the wrong bad guys are involved. It then goes on for another ten or so minutes of non-essential scenes that add little to what has already transpired, with the exception of the Kelly MacDonald sequence. A wonderful movie but a limp, borderline duff ending.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


I’ve published a fourth novel on Amazon for the Kindle.

It will be free to download worldwide from early Monday 14th to late Friday 18th this month.

The download will work on all computers, mobile phones and iPads with a Kindle app.

Also five of my previous books will be free for the same length of time. Just click on the author’s name on the Amazon page to see them.





Intellectual Annihilation

Actress Andrea Maitland, a highly successful star of family films, accepts the lead role in an art movie as one half of a lesbian couple. After she signs the contract she learns of a disturbing hidden expectation concerning her part in the film. Also she will enter her co-star’s life and body in ways that will defy rational explanation.

Enthusiasts of surrealist films by Luis Buñuel (The Exterminating Angel, Diary of a Chambermaid, Belle de Jour and The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie), David Lynch (Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks, Wild at Heart, Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive) and Alejandro Jodorowsky (El Topo, The Holy Mountain and Santa Sangre) should find a lot to enjoy in this novel.

UK
http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00JFGCU7G?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

US
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JFGCU7G

< Message edited by Platter -- 12/4/2014 10:35:12 AM >


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http://www.amazon.co.uk/This-Cuckoo-Island-ebook/dp/B00EIP4ZVS/ref=sr_1_4?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1377097535&sr=1-4

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Post #: 15462
RE: WEIRD/STRANGE favorite movies? - 12/4/2014 3:24:22 PM   
UTB


Posts: 9936
Joined: 30/9/2005

quote:

ORIGINAL: Platter

** No Country for Old Men (2007) 9
Very stylish, pared down lean mean action thriller - the sort of thing Walter Hill could only dream of making. Great story and odd little details along with interesting characters. Very strong film. It's only let down by an anti-climactic ending. The ending takes place off screen and the wrong bad guys are involved. It then goes on for another ten or so minutes of non-essential scenes that add little to what has already transpired, with the exception of the Kelly MacDonald sequence. A wonderful movie but a limp, borderline duff ending.




I've always thought the anti-climax ending was intentional, the point being something about about the glorification of violence and whilst we all expect there to be some gung-ho shootout, what we're presented with is the grim reality, another body found, only that of Llewelyn.

It is a brilliant film, I often watch it with The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada and, if time, Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia. Makes for a great trilogy.


Last night I watched the Fright Night remake. I can't say I'm a fan of the original, having seen it once a long time ago and not remembering much, but I found the remake to be decent fun and worth a watch.

(in reply to Platter)
Post #: 15463
RE: WEIRD/STRANGE favorite movies? - 12/4/2014 4:43:06 PM   
Whistler


Posts: 3133
Joined: 22/11/2006
The Fright Night remake is great. I actually prefer it to the original.

(in reply to UTB)
Post #: 15464
RE: WEIRD/STRANGE favorite movies? - 12/4/2014 6:51:55 PM   
Mister Coe

 

Posts: 1561
Joined: 20/10/2012
The FRIGHT NIGHT remake... saw it when it first came out and was quite disappointed. Just thought they could have done more with it, Farrell is a terrific actor but they could have pushed it a bit more, the lead was kinda bland and Tennent (another actor I like) started out as a great character, half Russell Brand, half Dynamo, but by the end he was just resorting to old Doctor Who mannerisms. Always got time for Imogen Poots, though...

That said, I didn't see it under the best of circumstances, I see it's shown up on Netflix, I'll give it another go.

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Post #: 15465
RE: WEIRD/STRANGE favorite movies? - 13/4/2014 9:22:16 AM   
NCC1701A


Posts: 4462
Joined: 12/3/2011
From: Space Dock

quote:

ORIGINAL: Whistler

The Fright Night remake is great. I actually prefer it to the original.



Agree 100 % and I like the original as well.

_____________________________

Trench: I'll be back.

Church: You've been back enough. I'll be back.

[leaves]

Trench: Yippee-ki-yay.


The Expendables 2 (2012)

(in reply to Whistler)
Post #: 15466
RE: WEIRD/STRANGE favorite movies? - 13/4/2014 11:41:45 AM   
Dr Lenera

 

Posts: 3999
Joined: 19/10/2005

quote:

ORIGINAL: dannyfletch

Good to see we are back up and running on here after I almost thought it was permanently gone!
Good review of Noah and one I will hopefully see soon.

Recently saw Under The Skin with the lovely Scarlett Johansson and loved every weird moment of it. Don't know if anyone on here has seen it yet but I strongly recommend it if you haven't. Disturbing, surreal, visually striking and very well acted and made, it certainly will be a marmite film but it got me hooked and I can't wait to own it!


Cheers, and I really wanted to see Under The Skin, seems like totally my cup of tea, but it wasn't on near me.

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Post #: 15467
RE: WEIRD/STRANGE favorite movies? - 13/4/2014 11:43:16 AM   
Dr Lenera

 

Posts: 3999
Joined: 19/10/2005

quote:

ORIGINAL: Whistler


Director: Gareth Evans; Screenwriter: Gareth Evans; Starring: Iko Uwais, Julie Estelle, Yayan Ruhian, Donny Alamsya, Arifin Putra, Oka Antara, Alex Abbad, Tio Pakusodewo; Running time: 150 minutes; Certification: 18

When you told people back in 2011 that it was a Welsh guy behind this new Indonesian martial arts flick that’s garnering attention left, right and centre, most of them (understandably) wouldn’t believe you. But indeed director Gareth Evans is a Welshman who did indeed make an Indonesian martial arts flick which was indeed one of the best action films in cinema’s long history. Taking notes from its protagonist, The Raid absolutely smacked audiences in the face with its unique blend of brutal martial arts and astute choreography with a Westernised sense of bravado. We just weren’t used to such an experience, to such exhilarating, lightening-paced, ruthless action that didn’t rely on explosions or cities crumbling to the ground. Every sequence took place in the closed confines of a tenement building, with only the impact of fists to provide that shock and awe.

Fast-forward a few years and we’ve arrived at the sequel, which picks up mere hours after the last film left off and expands the singular setting into a labyrinth-like plot with more characters and more blood. The first blatant difference between the two films is the running time, and at 150 minutes, The Raid 2 is certainly too long. The crux of the film remains the action – it’s the main selling point that will draw audiences into theatres - but this time around we’re forced to be patient and earn the privilege through heavily-dialogued exposition and story expansion.

That’s not in itself a problem, and usually I’m one to enjoy action movies more, superhero or otherwise, when there’s a good deal of quality dialogue and character development to invest in and ultimately reap the rewards from, but in this instance it just doesn’t entirely hang together. While much of it is perfectly gripping, it too often stifles the pace and tries to say just a bit too much while not actually saying that much at all. The whole thing plays out a bit like an Eastern revenge thriller, hearkening to films like I Saw The Devil and Oldboy, but the plot more masquerades as intricate and compelling when actually it’s rather generic turf war/mob boss stuff, and the dialogue is perhaps too explanatory (it’s possible that something could be lost in the subtitle translation, but that’s unlikely).

On the other hand, and perhaps more importantly, the expansion of the story and setting lends itself to a much richer tapestry of set-pieces. Rather than being lashed to a single environment, we’re treated to a whole variety of different settings which each yield their own potential for stunning choreography. Just like the first film, the action sequences are handled deftly yet ferociously, only somehow vamped up and beyond what we previously experienced. From kitchens and subway trains to warehouses and car chases, it’s the most explosive, blistering, adrenalin-fuelled mayhem. The kind of action where your whole body seizes up, where every smack and crack cuts right through you.

The time and effort Evans has put into the film is clearly not lost. The action sequences are the most obvious example of his dedication, but there’s also something to be said for just how great the film looks when it’s standing still. Cinematographers Matt Flannery and Dimas Imam Subhono have done a fantastic job of composing each frame to spark and crackle – even the stationary shots in a murky bathroom or muddy prison yard. Beyond that, there’s a real sense of autuerism going on behind the scenes. Evans knows exactly what he wants to do, and while the film is too long, no shot looks unnecessary.

For action junkies, there really is nothing better. Certainly the plot is less interesting that it would like to think and it lacks the incisive explosiveness of the first film, but there is some really good stuff in there – and even if there wasn’t, the action sequences would more than make up for it. Evans cements himself as a master of visual potency while dipping his toes in the realms of story and character. While the latter doesn’t always hold together, it still makes for thrilling, exhilarating, jaw-dropping entertainment.

4/5


Excellent review, Seeing this tonight, I enjoyed the first one though wasn't blown away by it like many were, guess I've just watched too many martial arts movies in my time

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Post #: 15468
RE: WEIRD/STRANGE favorite movies? - 13/4/2014 11:45:02 AM   
Dr Lenera

 

Posts: 3999
Joined: 19/10/2005

quote:

ORIGINAL: Mister Coe

The FRIGHT NIGHT remake... saw it when it first came out and was quite disappointed. Just thought they could have done more with it, Farrell is a terrific actor but they could have pushed it a bit more, the lead was kinda bland and Tennent (another actor I like) started out as a great character, half Russell Brand, half Dynamo, but by the end he was just resorting to old Doctor Who mannerisms. Always got time for Imogen Poots, though...

That said, I didn't see it under the best of circumstances, I see it's shown up on Netflix, I'll give it another go.


I thought it was an okay remake, but it didn't come close to the original and for me was yet another example of 'why did they bother'.

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Post #: 15469
RE: WEIRD/STRANGE favorite movies? - 14/4/2014 1:32:19 PM   
DONOVAN KURTWOOD


Posts: 9210
Joined: 6/10/2005
From: PLANET G
quote:

ORIGINAL: Dr Lenera


In Ancient Greece, King Amphitryon invades the shores of a neighbouring kingdom and kills his adversary King Galenus in a duel, thereby winning his kingdom and army. Amphitryon's estranged wife Alcmene prays for help and is visited by the goddess Hera, who prophesises that Alcmene will bear the son of Zeus and he will be the saviour of her people. Alcmene soon gives birth to a baby boy named Alcides, but his real name is Hercules. Twenty years later, Hercules still knows nothing of his background or destiny and is in love with Hebe, Princess Of Crete, who has been promised to his brother….

It would make a fantastically thrill-packed, spectacular epic, the story of Hercules, or rather Heracles as he should really be called though it's the Roman version of his name that is commonly used. The son of a mortal woman and Zeus the king of the gods, an attempt is made on his life right from when he's a baby by Hera the jealous wife of Zeus, and who eventually succeeds in driving him mad and making him kill his wife and children. As penance, he has to perform twelve labours, which range from him going to slay fantastical beasts to cleaning out the world's most disgusting stable given to him by a king, labours which result in him having to do such things as briefly hold the world on his shoulders and visit Hell. I've only skimmed the surface of the story of Hercules, but I'm sure you get the picture, and considering virtually anything can be now realised on screen and the popularity of films like Peter Jackson's Tolkien outings, you'd think they'd attempt it now. With another Hercules picture soon to follow the one reviewed here into cinemas, you'd think one of them would attempt to be faithful and do the tale justice.

It looks that this could actually be the case with Brett Ratner's forthcoming film, but it certainly isn't the case with this one, and worse than that it's a pretty poor movie too, yet another big disappointment from Renny Harlin who made two of the best American action movies of the 90's and at least three other hugely fun pictures. He even had a hand in the script of this one too. The baffling idea they had with this film is to take out most of the fantasy aspects from the story of the early years of Hercules and basically make something more along the lines of Gladiator, with amazingly similar characters and story beats. Various other shoddy recent offerings like the Conan The Barbarian remake and Immortals also seem to be an influence, in fact The Legend Of Hercules just seems to be made up from little more than spare parts of other films, while having few of their saving graces like Conan The Barbarian's unrestrained brutality or Immortals' radiant look. Of course one shouldn't expect film adaptations to always be faithful to their sources, but aside from a couple of scenes involving Hera, a stupid lightning whip at the end and a hilarious scene where Alcmene is being made love to by the invisible Zeus, this film shouldn't really have the title it does, while Kellan Lutz's irritating Russell Crowe impersonation made me yearn for Kevin Sorbo, and that's bad. In fact, shoot me now, but Steve Reeves was a better Hercules.

There's one rather good battle scene in a cave that shows signs of Harlin's old action chops, but overall the simple revenge story is mostly taken up with repetitive fight scenes which, while mostly devoid of shakycam and stupidly fast cutting, tend to have a slow motion shot every few seconds that usually robs the scenes of any rhythm, this eventually getting so tiresome even Zach Snyder would have found it excessive. Meanwhile a great many scenes take place against incredibly unconvincing CGI backdrops while characters actually seem to shimmer in the foreground, while a lion not only doesn't look like it's actually there but for God's sake doesn't even look like a lion. Even things which are easy to do like arena crowds are horribly botched – the people watching the gladiatorial combats look like nothing less than components of a computer program, which of course they are. There are some prettily photographed scenes in and around a lake which seem to have strayed in from another film, and I will say that, while I had no interest in seeing The Legend Of Hercules in 3D, it did look like it was using 3D the right way – as a gimmick – with lots of things looming out at the audience. It actually might have helped the experience, and that's not something I say very often – I mean this is a film where ancient Greek soldiers are dressed like Romans.

This movie is downright bizarre in the way that people are injured or killed but there's no visible aftermath. One guy falls on a sword but you don't even see the blade come out of his stomach! There's nothing wrong with a sword and sandal flick that holds back on the violence, but this one just does it in a terribly clumsy and stupid way. The performances are generally reasonable though sometimes cast members visibly have trouble delivering the clunky dialogue with any conviction. Scott Adkins does surprisingly well in villain mode and gets a couple of chances to show off his martial arts skills. There's also a rather good, old-fashioned score with at least one strong theme from Tuomas Kantelinen, who is a composer I shall look out for, but the music is too constant and even amusingly grand for such a lousy film. Despite slating it for most of this review, The Legend Of Hercules is kind of entertaining, in the way bad movies can be. An entertaining bad movie which you can laugh at is often a better way of passing the time then a run-of-the-mill film that is neither good nor bad, but this particular picture is still a failure on most levels. It's one of those films where you have to wonder if anyone involved in making it actually saw the final cut.

Rating: 3/10


Another bad review! When all is said and done I'll probably be the only person ending up enjoying this lol.

_____________________________

Pack your bags, we're going on a guilt trip!

(in reply to Dr Lenera)
Post #: 15470
RE: WEIRD/STRANGE favorite movies? - 14/4/2014 1:35:52 PM   
DONOVAN KURTWOOD


Posts: 9210
Joined: 6/10/2005
From: PLANET G
quote:

ORIGINAL: NCC1701A


quote:

ORIGINAL: Whistler

The Fright Night remake is great. I actually prefer it to the original.



Agree 100 % and I like the original as well.


Another shout out for the Fright Night remake here, i love it. Great 3D too.

_____________________________

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Post #: 15471
RE: WEIRD/STRANGE favorite movies? - 14/4/2014 3:56:12 PM   
Whistler


Posts: 3133
Joined: 22/11/2006


In this barren spell of horrorless cinema, when the only servings we’ve had in the first quarter of 2014 have been terribly meagre (Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones and better-by-comparison Devil’s Due), it’s easy to jump in excitement at every opportunity to be scared, whether the film in question looks any good or not. Of course, when that film is from horror-giants Hammer, there’s every excuse to be genuinely excited. The Quiet Ones comes off the back of Daniel Radcliffe’s surprisingly excellent post-Potter chiller The Women In Black, which relaunched the studio back into the stratosphere of quality horror filmmaking thanks to James Watkins’ deft plotting of finely tuned scares. That, of course, was somewhat downplayed by the fact that the director John Pouge’s only other credit was Quarantine 2, but the potential for a rare spook-fest was still very much on the cards.

With its suburban London, historical setting (in this case, the ’70s), the production values and general mise-en-scène label it very blatantly as a Hammer production, but the whole time the film is taking clear notes from others in its genre. The plot plays out a bit like The Exorcist meets The Changeling meets The Haunting - a young, troubled, (perhaps?) possessed young girl; multiple séances; an “expert” in the field gathering a team to help him conduct an experiment. Whether he knows it or not, Jarred Harris is clearly channelling the likes of Vincent Price and Richard Johnson’s work in House On Haunted Hill and The Haunting respectively for his professor who, over the course of the narrative, is perhaps more deranged than first appears.

The blending of 16mm archival hand-cam with traditional cinema quality film to create that old school yet contemporary vibe, if unoriginal, also works rather well, and the creeping, creaky old English manor house in the second and third acts is a suitably spooky setting. All of these strong elements are present, and often work, so why doesn’t the film hold together better? Ultimately, as with so many horror movies, it just doesn’t scare its audience enough. It really is that simple. It’s always essential to craft a good story and characters to give the audience something to care about – all the best horror movies allow us to invest ourselves in whatever plight is afoot – and The Quiet Ones does that very well, but it tends to forsake genuine scares to achieve it. The film works heavily off the jump scare, which, when used sporadically, is effective, but it throws all its eggs it one basket, lacking the invention to spook us in more than one way.

We jump from séance to séance as the team attempts to summon a spirit (or it it?) named Evie, with each and every one ending in a silent…silent…BANG. It works in the moment, but it never stays with us. It never makes our palms sweaty. Never sends that chill up our spines. When it comes down to it, the overriding problem is that there isn’t one good scare. Really good scare. The Hollywood scare, let’s call it – the one that stays with you, that people talk about long after. The Exorcist had the spinning head; Psycho had the shower scene; Paranormal Activity had the hallway drag. Whatever you think of those movies, they all had at least one sequence which stayed with us long after. The Quiet Ones spreads itself too thin, mistakenly trying to ration what little macabre it has.

It’s a film which works on many levels, successfully mixing haunted house clichés with a layered, unpredictable plot, but the fact that it doesn’t scare us means it fails on that one fundamental level so candidly vital in the horror genre. The intriguing plot and strong performances make for an interesting watch, but ultimately a forgettable one, which is a real shame. Yet, as it stands, it’s the best horror movie of the year.

3/5

(in reply to DONOVAN KURTWOOD)
Post #: 15472
RE: WEIRD/STRANGE favorite movies? - 17/4/2014 9:54:17 AM   
Dr Lenera

 

Posts: 3999
Joined: 19/10/2005
I wrote this before I read your review Whistler but we both seem to think the same!!



Oxford, 1973. Student Brian MacNeil attends the class of Professor Coupland, who wishes to prove there is no supernatural. He shows a video of a boy obsessively drawing the portrait of a man, seemingly possessed, then explains that more research should be done to find a cure for this kind of disease and that if they can heal one person, they would be able to heal the entire world. Invited to film Coupland’s experiments, Brian encounters his two lovebird assistants Krissi and Harry as well as their experiment subject Jane Harper, a depressed young woman who is usually generally locked in a room with rock music playing very loudly during the daytime. After a disturbing first encounter with her, Brian is left scared but intrigued. Then the experiment funding is cut, and Coupland and his now three assistants leave Oxford to settle in an isolated house in the countryside to keep experimenting on Jane’s case….

The Philip Experiment. It’s certainly a great idea for a horror movie. Back in the 1970s, some Canadian parapsychologists attempted to prove that ghosts were only the creation of the human mind, and that, under the right circumstances, a ghost could be made. They soon began to ‘create’ a ghost called Philip Aylesford. He lived in the 17th century, had a wife, a mistress and suffered a tragic death at the battle of Diddington. Footage of one of the supposed happenings can be viewed on YouTube. Supposedly Phillip made contact by rapping on a table and levitating it, but having watched it, it looks a bit questionable to me. Opinions differ as to whether it was all fabrication or not. Though I do certainly believe in ghosts, I’m quite sceptical about The Philip Experiment. Still, the premise of ghosts being things created by human trauma and rage is a strong one, and should result in a really scary movie….shouldn’t it?

Well The Quiet Ones isn’t it. It’s not actually a bad film. In fact it has some very good things in it, such as the acting which makes the sometimes thinly drawn characters seem like real people, and its most intriguing premise. However, it just doesn’t frighten, and, while I know that different people get scared by different things [folk still look like they’ve seen a ghost when I tell them that The Blair Witch Project didn’t scare me one bit], you can usually tell when you’re sitting in a cinema screen and the majority of the audience are frightened. When a horror movie seems like it’s about to get scary, and then fails to follow through, it’s extremely frustrating. It’s like being led on by a member of the opposite sex. Just think back to Paranormal Activity 4. What an irritating experience that was, though The Quiet Ones is maybe even more exasperating because it seems like it’s going to be a much better movie than Paranormal Activity 4 and not just another sequel hurriedly dashed off to continue a popular franchise. Add a whole load of other flaws such as the whole film seeming very disjointed, so much so that it sometimes seems like scenes have been inserted in the wrong order, and The Quiet Ones becomes a major letdown, especially considering the newly revived Hammer’s films have all been promising and have been getting better and better, so much so that the studio seems to be on the verge of releasing a truly great horror worthy of their classics of old. The Quiet Ones, though, is a major retrograde step.

It’s certainly pretty promising at first, what with its set-up, though it’s soon obvious that they haven’t really used much of the ‘maybe true/ maybe not’ story the film is supposedly based on. The video of the possessed boy drawing the picture of the man had as a real evil charge to it and Jane, the seemingly possessed woman who is the willing subject of Professor Coupland’s experiments, is immediately both creepy and sympathetic, a combination which shouldn’t’ work but which does. When Coupland’s work in the college is stopped and they relocate to one of those big old country houses which can be eerie whether ghosts exist in it or not, The Quiet Ones seems to be working its way up to being a really effective horror movie. However, it doesn’t really follow through on its promise. There are lots of instances where you hear a loud BANG and the camera of Brian, who is filming much of what is happening, waves all over the place, and some occasions where Jane does some uncanny things, like cutting herself and smearing the blood everywhere, plus a silly out of place bit where she reveals a Dead Silence-type long tongue, but the film just seems to sit there and repeat itself. It’s slow, but without enough atmosphere for that to be a good thing, but nor does it seem to build to a higher level of excitement.

Of course there are some very good moments, like a lengthy nocturnal walk through the house where you’ll probably be on edge for quite a while, but oddly enough the best bits are often the quiet ones [sorry], like the brief scenes between Brian and Jane which are touching yet full of tension. Much of the film’s interest is in trying to work out whether Coupland is right in his methods or not, and whether we are seeing properly supernatural events or not. The script does have a few twists and the story certainly ends in an effective fashion, though some bright sparks will probably be able to predict it. The film is awkward in other respects though. Much of it is basically Found Footage, though some of it isn’t – the trouble is, it looks like you’re watching two very different versions of the same film, and towards the end it’s sometimes hard to tell whether we are supposed to be seeing stuff that’s being filmed or not, director John Pogue going in for extreme close-ups and shakycam even if it’s not actually ‘filmed’ footage. The film is jarring in its stylistic differences, but nor does it really make the most of its main setting, the cinematography not really taking advantage and resulting in a film that is rather drab to look that, even if one appreciates that they obviously went for a realistic look.

The film really scores with its performances though. Jared Harris is especially good, making you believe that his character really thinks he’s doing the right thing even when it often seems like he’s really being horrible. Olivia Cooke is also superb as Jane, somehow creating a very compelling portrait of someone who might very well be sane and normal if it wasn’t for the terrible events in her life. Lucas Vidal’s music, often coming off like some deranged satanic techno, is quite disturbing. However Pogue’s dull direction really lets things down, just failing to create the necessary suspense, though the film really is a missed opportunity overall. It should be terrifying. It should be disturbing [for a start it’s partially about a girl being tortured to prove a possibly crackpot theory]. It should be really edge-of-seat, but it’s not any of these things. ~In fact, it’s just a bit drab. There are things in the film to appreciate, and it’s all interesting enough to just about keep the attention and not become actively boring, but while I was watching it, I was constantly thinking of how a much better horror film could be made from the same premise and even portions of the same script, which certainly isn’t a good thing.

The Quiet Ones is not unenjoyable, and me criticising it so heavily is probably partly because I expected so much from it. There are traces of a really strong chiller in there. However, it’s let down by so many things, especially from constantly seeming that it’s holding back. It’s fine for a horror film to not have much blood, or take itself in a leisurely manner, but The Quiet Ones just doesn’t achieve enough despite the many incidents that take place during its running time. It’s simply too tame for a modern horror audience but also lacks the charm, style and fun factor of much old Hammer, and it suffers from both trying to do too much and not succeeding in doing enough at the same time. It’ll certainly pass the time pleasantly, but you could probably take the friend or relative you know who finds horror films too terrifying to enjoy, or who is scared by the very idea of ghosts, and you won’t get any recrimination from them.

Rating: 6/10

_____________________________

check out more of my reviews on http://horrorcultfilms.co.uk/

(in reply to Whistler)
Post #: 15473
RE: WEIRD/STRANGE favorite movies? - 17/4/2014 10:05:45 AM   
Dr Lenera

 

Posts: 3999
Joined: 19/10/2005
Excuse the huge pic, i having trouble shrinking them at the moment!


At Starliner Towers, a modern high-rise apartment complex on Starliner Island located just outside Montreal, prospective tenants are welcomed by the manager Merrick, while, at the same time, a doctor strangles a schoolgirl, slices open her stomach, and pours acid in before slitting his own throat. Another man, suffering from stomach convulsions, visits the murder scene but leaves without telling anyone about it. The resident doctor, Roger St. Luc, investigates and discovers that the dead man was working on a project involving: “a parasite that can take over the function of a human organ”. Soon after, another man vomits up a fecal parasite which slithers away into the undergrowth, and, in the laundry room, an old woman investigates a trail of brown slime leading from an open window to a washing machine….

A film from David Cronenberg is still always worth a look, even the odd disappointing one like Cosmsopolis: you’ll still think about it for a bit and the man clearly just makes what he wants to make. However, I can’t be the only fan who waxes nostalgically for the times when Cronenberg was called ‘The King Of Venereal Horror’, when going to see one of his films you’d not only need a brain and an open mind but also a sick bag. The Brood, Videodrome and The Fly are to me his masterpieces of that nature. Shivers, his first ‘commercial’ project [he’d made two short and two feature length experimental pictures before], is not the best-made of films – for a start, you have to put up with seriously shoddy acting, and it’s hardly good to look at – but it’s a fascinating one all the same because it already contains in abundance the themes that would dominate much of Cronenberg’s output, namely the revolution/evolution of the body, the confluence of sex and disease, and the banality and repression of modern society. What a time for horror the period it was made in was, truly the Golden Age of the modern horror movie, at least in North America, where film-makers finally felt they had the freedom to put their nightmares on screen and were fearless about doing it while throwing in a bit of social/ political commentary either. Night Of The Living Dead, The Wicker Man, The Exorcist, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Last House On The Left, the list goes on. Shivers may not be as good as the films I’ve mentioned, but in some ways it’s just as vital, and in some ways still feels fresh, even if the level of film-making certainly isn’t the highest.

This film was inspired by a dream of Cronenberg’s in which he made love to a woman, after which a spider came out of her mouth. Cronenberg actually then spent three years trying to get his script, entitled Invasion Of The Blood Parasites, made. Nobody in his native Canada wanted to know, and he almost took it to Hollywood where Roger Corman had expressed an interest, but finally financing came through, mostly from the taxpayer-funded National Board Of Canada. Ivan Reitman co-produced and is also credited a Music Supervisor. Shot over fifteen days with a very low budget in a real apartment block [though the surrounding architecture was painted out] the result was torn apart by the Canadian press including one journalist whose article entitled ‘You Should Know How Bad this Movie Is: You Paid for It’ resulted in Cronenberg being kicked out of his Toronto apartment. The film, which was re-titled The Parasite Murders, then Shivers, then They Came From Within for the US, actually became the most profitable Canadian movie to that date. Amazingly the BBFC didn’t require cuts for the UK release, and in fact only two Cronenberg films would suffer censorship from our beloved censors.

Shivers opens with an advertisement for Starliner Tower Apartments, a modern yuppie condo situated on an island twelve minutes away from downtown Montreal. Fully equipped with modern electrical appliances, cable TV, a golf course, restaurant, and an on-premises medical clinic, Starliner’s studio apartments look very attractive for the working couple going to live there, yet the scene also somehow mamages to fill us with dread. We see the couple visiting the complex to be welcomed by the smarmy manager. However, a horrific occurrence is taking place in one apartment. A doctor attacks a schoolgirl, chokes her to death, then cuts open her stomach and pours acid down it…before cutting his own throat. In fact this scene is not quite as gruesome as it sounds, the camera preferring to observe the action from the side rather than getting in close. It’s still quite a shocking opening though, and interestingly the first part of the scene has some shakycam. It’s interesting how what was once considered poor film-making is now widely utilised and excepted. Cronenberg’s direction may be a bit clumsy at times, but it’s often livelier than normal, his style not yet having fully developed into the cool, clinical manner it would become. There is, for example, a nice long take showing the point of view of a character as she goes down some stairs and down a corridor. Rather than graceful and steady, the shot is jittery and it almost seems like we are seeing the origins of Found Footage before our eyes!

Shivers is a very fast paced film and wastes no time getting on with it as it soon becomes a serious of horrific occurrences in different apartments, the forward momentum constantly maintained by cutting back and forth from different situations. The turd-like parasites really are unpleasant to look at, and while much of the violence is not graphically shown [we only see the aftermath, for example, of a bloody beating with a rod and a gory car crash], there are some memorable queasy moments, especially when a woman [cult horror star Barbara Steele] is in the bath and a parasite squeezes through the plughole into the water and heads straight for between her legs. It eventually develops into the usual Invasion Of The Body Snatchers/ Night Of The Living Dead stuff as more and more folk turn evil, but rather than emotionless aliens or flesh-eating zombies, they are now sex maniacs. Though there is no explicit sex in the picture and not even any full-frontal nudity, some of the ‘attack’ scenes, most notably one in which a very young girl takes part, have a really disturbing edge to them. The most scandalous scene shows two young girls on dog leashes, climbing up a stair and barking. The climax – well, this film was made in the Decade Of Downbeat Endings, so don’t expect a happy resolution!

Well, unless you’re like Cronenberg, who says he identifies with the people in the film after they have transformed. You can take Shivers’s depiction of a society seemingly destroyed by rampant sexuality as a warning against unbridled lust and even as a pre-AIDS allegory, though Cronenberg doesn’t seem to exhibit much love for the cold society that his film rips apart. Scenes in which Nicholas actually talks to the parasite inside him as if it were a friend, and Nurse Forsythe telling of a dream she had about an old man saying: “he tells me that even old flesh is erotic flesh, that disease is the love of two alien kinds of creatures for each other, that even dying is an act of eroticism” show that Cronenberg’s peculiar obsessions were already in full flow when he made this film, even if he didn’t yet the resources nor the craft to fully realise them. His script doesn’t always makes sense – the incubation rates of the parasites seems to begin as days and becomes a couple of seconds – and there are some shoddy continuity errors which were obvious to me even though I tend not to notice that sort of thing – but you can sometimes get away with that kind of thing a bit more in a film like Shivers, as long as it’s disturbing and frightening, and those two things it certainly is. It probably goes without saying it was also hugely influential, with films such as Alien and The Hidden highly influenced by it.

The performances range from reasonable to downright dreadful. Paul Hampton is a pretty uncharismatic hero though the lovely Lynn Lowry does fine in an early role. The parts are mainly stock and the cursory scenes in which we get to know some of these people not too well written. The music score, derived from several un-credited sources, employs strange electronic sounds effects more than conventional music, but it works quite well, though some scenes would probably have benefitted from some dramatic scoring. Shivers is not a major classic but it’s definitely a minor one and essential viewing to any horror fan. This is where Cronenberg started, and he would go on to do much better, yet in a way it’s all already here, all the strange compulsions that one would soon associate with this most fascinating and single-minded of directors.

Rating: 7.5/10

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check out more of my reviews on http://horrorcultfilms.co.uk/

(in reply to Dr Lenera)
Post #: 15474
RE: WEIRD/STRANGE favorite movies? - 17/4/2014 10:09:20 AM   
Dr Lenera

 

Posts: 3999
Joined: 19/10/2005

Rose and her boyfriend Hart survive a motorbike crash. Hart has a broken hand, separated shoulder, and a concussion, but Rose, having been pinned under the vehicle, is more severely injured on her chest and abdomen. At the Keloid Clinic for Plastic Surgery, Dr. Keloid recognizes that Rose needs immediate surgery and decides to perform a radical, untested procedure on her that would allow skin and tissue to generate properly in the way it is intended to. However, this causes a mutation in her body, and now the only thing she can subsist on is human blood. To help her attain it, a bizarre new organ has developed in Rose’s armpit; through a small sphincter opening, a large red phallic spike emerges to pierce her victims and draw blood like a syringe. Rose periodically leaves the clinic to feed….

Rabid is really a companion piece to Shivers. Once again, dodgy medical science accidently creates a terrible epidemic, and the same metaphors can be deduced, like that of AIDS before its time. It seems that David Cronenberg decided to partially remake the earlier film taking advantage of a slightly bigger budget and increased film-making skill, though I don’t think it quite reaches its level. It’s a good, pacy horror film with a considerable amount of tension, has some very memorable scenes, can definitely be said to be better made than Shivers, and is perhaps more fun, but in the end it doesn’t have the raw power of Shivers and sometimes seems to be holding back, while many scenes just don’t fulfil their potential. There’s a rushed feel to some scenes and parts of the film, as if portions of scenes are missing, and in the end the budget isn’t really big enough to convincingly depict a plague which is considerably further reaching than the tower block of Shivers. I often wonder why this film hasn’t been remade, since it has its considerable merits but isn’t quite as strong as it could be, but then I should be careful what I wish for! I’ll never forget watching Cronenberg’s The Brood [his next film after Shivers and one of his masterpieces] and finding out that very day there were plans to remake it! In any case, Rabid was a clear influence on 28 Days Later, Species, and others.

Despite being blasted by many, Shivers made money and was a rare international success for the Canadian film industry. Cronenberg therefore decided to make more of the same, and didn’t have much trouble getting funds this time, some of it coming from the Canadian government, though of a “surreptitious” kind, as Cronenberg would say. He pulled out an earlier treatment of a story called Butterfly which had influenced the Shivers screenplay, and expanded it, with a bit of influence coming from, it seems, by The Crazies, though at one point he thought his tale was so ridiculous his producer had to convince him to soldier on with the film. Cronenberg wanted Sissy Spacek as the lead [this was just before Carrie], but the studio didn’t like her accent or freckles. Co-producer Ivan Reitman suggested porn star Marilyn Chambers, who was looking for a mainstream role. Despite getting good notices for Rabid, Chambers afterwards returned to hard and softcore pornography. Many Canadians saw the film’s depiction of martial law reflective of what actually did occur in Canada in 1970 due to separatist terrorism, though Cronenberg denied this. Rabid did decent business and like Shivers was rarely censored, though some DVD versions are missing differing small portions of footage, probably because of print damage. The UK DVD, for instance, cuts part of a conversation between the two male leads and a policeman in a parking lot, though this footage was in the TV copy I used to have. It’s no big deal, though is a little annoying.

The links with Shivers are obvious right from the offset with Joe Silver playing a virtually identical doctor character, though the film-making skills of Cronenberg and his crew have clearly got better with a stunningly shot and edited opening motorbike crash. The script doesn’t really go into detail about the procedure that is tried out on Rose [is her name a metaphor?] – something about grafts of her own skin used to patch the injured tissues in and on her chest and abdomen, and said treated skin being able to form new tissue of whatever type it is grafted to, but possibly also leading to cancer. Sometimes it’s best if the pseudoscience is minimal as it can become laughable. In any case, it isn’t long before the supposedly comatose Rose is pulling out her I.V. drip tube and feeding on blood through the phallic growth under her arm in a perverse twist on vampirism. It does sound a bit ridiculous, but the handling, on the surface serious but clearly aware of the blackly humorous aspects, plus the rather convincing special effects, negate most laughter. What doesn’t work so well is a refusal to explore the transformed Rose’s character. She just wonders around in a trance-like state, taking blood from everyone she meets [including a cow whom she strokes in an oddly affecting moment], and the film is rather repetitive at times, as if Cronenberg isn’t sure of how to develop the premise, while some of the seduction/ feeding scenes don’t have the charge they probably should. The most horrifying scene in the film is when a character goes in to his home to find his new born baby has been devoured by his wife. You don’t see the details, but you see enough!

Rose’s rampage does all result in a plague of rabid killers, and the film resolves itself into a series of set-pieces where someone foams at the mouth and goes wild. There are memorable moments in a diner, an operating room, on a train, and even in a shopping mall where you get to witness a site that should warm the cockles of anyone who tires of Christmas – Santa getting accidently machine-gunned by some cops. There’s also a cracking car crash that, along with certain bits in Scanners and A History Of Violence, makes it a shame that Cronenberg has never done a full-on action movie, because he’d be very good at it. The idea of a nationwide epidemic never quite seems properly realised though. The film is an impressive achievement considering its budget to be sure, but said budget just wasn’t really high enough for a successful realisation of its story. Cronenberg doesn’t entirely seem sure on how to close his tale too. The George Romero-esque [right down to freeze frames] down beat finish is appropriate, but scenes like the final one between Rose and the boyfriend who has been following her all over the place don’t really hit the mark the way they should. Having characters not seeming to really spelling out what they want to say doesn’t always work, though I suppose it does match the cold, distant film-making manner, with the camera often as a dispassionate observer. Cronenberg is clearly refining his directorial style here.

As usual for a Cronenberg film, Rabid can be seen in different ways. A cautionary tale about the dangers of unprotected sex. A warning against altering the human body, and one that prefigures the craze for plastic surgery, Cronenberg showing a prophetic ability to not only predict the outbreak of venereal diseases. A sub-feminist fight back against pornography, considering its star, a star of a genre that is largely aimed at men and well known for exploiting women, plays a character who develops a penis-like device which she uses to impale men [and one woman, though she seems to be fighting against her instincts to kill the other female], men who usually show a sexual interest in her. Chambers really is very good in the role. She combines a girl-next-door sweetness and almost child-like innocence with an undercurrent of unbridled sexuality that makes it no surprise that she became a huge porno star on the back of only a few films. For Rabid, she has a slightly spaced-out quality that is entirely appropriate for the role, though the part is really thinly sketched out which prevents any attempts at deep characterisation. Compare her though to, say, Natasha Henstridge’s weak enacting of a similar role decades later, and Chambers comes off really well. Sadly Frank Moore is rather shoddy as her boyfriend, though overall the acting is of a higher standard than that in Shivers. Rabid is also a more attractive film to look at, cinematographer Rene Verzier providing some great night-time shots of Montreal, and this the first Cronenberg movie to use winter to enhance the chilly effect he’s after.

Again Ivan Reitman is credited as ‘music supervisor’, which means that he basically took a load of library music [Romero often did this] and put it on the film, but the soundtrack for Rabid works quite well as an actual score, with a few pieces of varying moods well placed throughout the picture. The plot of the film doesn’t appear to have been entirely thought through, though Cronenberg often seems more interested in its metaphorical and thematic aspects anyway, and there’s a nice line in irony throughout, like Rose only seeming to be aware that she caused the rabid plague right at the end. Rabid may be one of its creator’s thinner films, but it still has that Cronenberg compulsiveness and is perhaps more unashamedly entertaining than some of his deeper, richer masterworks.

Rating: 7/10

_____________________________

check out more of my reviews on http://horrorcultfilms.co.uk/

(in reply to Dr Lenera)
Post #: 15475
RE: WEIRD/STRANGE favorite movies? - 17/4/2014 2:33:24 PM   
Whistler


Posts: 3133
Joined: 22/11/2006
quote:

I wrote this before I read your review Whistler but we both seem to think the same!!


It seems that way - although your review is probably a lot more helpful!

Also, does anybody here know if Magic Magic is getting a proper UK release? I can't find it anywhere in my neck of the woods but I really want to see it.

(in reply to Dr Lenera)
Post #: 15476
RE: WEIRD/STRANGE favorite movies? - 19/4/2014 11:59:16 AM   
Whistler


Posts: 3133
Joined: 22/11/2006


There’s clearly something to these single-setting, single-character experimental scripts floating around the ether of the film world. The general rule of thumb seems to be if, as an actor, you take on one of these roles, it will be the best – or at least one of the best – performances of your career. Ryan Reynolds proved it with the enormously uncomfortable but brilliant Buried, in which he spent the entire film trapped inside a coffin six feet under, attempting to contact the outside world for help on a mobile phone with rapidly diminishing juice. James Franco was brilliant in Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours, in which he spent about 90% of the running time trapped under a rock. And more recently, Robert Redford tucked into a meaty role in All Is Lost, in which he played a sailor lost at sea, as literally the only character either seen or heard (I’m yet to see that one, but I’ve heard he’s fantastic).

Now it’s Tom Hardy’s turn to sink his claws into something equally meaty, to challenge himself with the task of carrying an entire film without so much as standing up. We already know Hardy’s a great actor and it’s not like he needs to do any more to prove it (in the case of something like Buried, that was the first time we saw what Reynolds was really capable of, that he wasn’t just Van Wilder), but Locke does go a certain distance in reminding us just how good he actually is. Arguably it’s his best performance to date. Arguably in the sense that some people may think he hardly has anything to do, while others will think he has everything to do.

He’s basically holding the film together every step of the way. The burden of having to remain compelling and convincing in every single frame and drive the story forward at the same time is a heavy one, and even with the talent that Hardy has, pretty much making it look simple, I would bet there are a number of actors who wouldn’t go near it. His best trick, in fact, is drawing the audience in enough to make them forget that, actually, he’s the only person there. By the twenty-minute mark we’ve already signed the contract. We’re completely invested in this character and quite happy to stay with him. Even his funny Welsh accent, which at first sounds a bit like Bane without the mask, quickly just becomes part of him.

As brilliant as Hardy is, the writing deserves equal plaudits. Writer/director Steven Knight’s greatest achievement with Locke is his confidence to stick to his simple set-up right until the end and never waver into Hollywood-inflected thriller. Essentially we witness the unravelling of a man’s life over the space of one car journey through a series of phone calls to his work, family and other various people. Knight’s ability to craft phone conversations about domestic disputes then swiftly change to concrete pouring and road closures and make them completely enthralling is extraordinary. There are essentially three story strands being explored, and with just that we’re painted a clear picture of a man’s life, and shown how delicately it hangs on a precipice as it crumbles beneath him. A very, very strong writing sample.

Locke is one of the most interesting, unique and subversive films in recent years. It won’t change your life, or even stay with you for long after, but it’s an absolute exhibition in storytelling and character development with a genuinely brilliant central performance from Tom Hardy. Long car journeys have never been so interesting.

4/5

(in reply to Whistler)
Post #: 15477
RE: WEIRD/STRANGE favorite movies? - 23/4/2014 8:35:20 PM   
evil bill


Posts: 6730
Joined: 19/7/2006
From: mordor/ uk
quote:

ORIGINAL: Dr Lenera

Excuse the huge pic, i having trouble shrinking them at the moment!



The performances range from reasonable to downright dreadful. Paul Hampton is a pretty uncharismatic hero though the lovely Lynn Lowry does fine in an early role. The parts are mainly stock and the cursory scenes in which we get to know some of these people not too well written. The music score, derived from several un-credited sources, employs strange electronic sounds effects more than conventional music, but it works quite well, though some scenes would probably have benefitted from some dramatic scoring. Shivers is not a major classic but it's definitely a minor one and essential viewing to any horror fan. This is where Cronenberg started, and he would go on to do much better, yet in a way it's all already here, all the strange compulsions that one would soon associate with this most fascinating and single-minded of directors.

Rating: 7.5/10

Once again an excellent review of a cult classic, and Cronenberg is one of the most awesome directors of our time, very misunderstood by many critics, who think he's just into sex and gore just to shock and some how miss his stab at society and it's double standards.
quote:


 
As usual for a Cronenberg film, Rabid can be seen in different ways. A cautionary tale about the dangers of unprotected sex. A warning against altering the human body, and one that prefigures the craze for plastic surgery, Cronenberg showing a prophetic ability to not only predict the outbreak of venereal diseases. A sub-feminist fight back against pornography, considering its star, a star of a genre that is largely aimed at men and well known for exploiting women, plays a character who develops a penis-like device which she uses to impale men [and one woman, though she seems to be fighting against her instincts to kill the other female], men who usually show a sexual interest in her. Chambers really is very good in the role. She combines a girl-next-door sweetness and almost child-like innocence with an undercurrent of unbridled sexuality that makes it no surprise that she became a huge porno star on the back of only a few films. For Rabid, she has a slightly spaced-out quality that is entirely appropriate for the role, though the part is really thinly sketched out which prevents any attempts at deep characterisation. Compare her though to, say, Natasha Henstridge’s weak enacting of a similar role decades later, and Chambers comes off really well. Sadly Frank Moore is rather shoddy as her boyfriend, though overall the acting is of a higher standard than that in Shivers. Rabid is also a more attractive film to look at, cinematographer Rene Verzier providing some great night-time shots of Montreal, and this the first Cronenberg movie to use winter to enhance the chilly effect he’s after.

Again Ivan Reitman is credited as ‘music supervisor’, which means that he basically took a load of library music [Romero often did this] and put it on the film, but the soundtrack for Rabid works quite well as an actual score, with a few pieces of varying moods well placed throughout the picture. The plot of the film doesn’t appear to have been entirely thought through, though Cronenberg often seems more interested in its metaphorical and thematic aspects anyway, and there’s a nice line in irony throughout, like Rose only seeming to be aware that she caused the rabid plague right at the end. Rabid may be one of its creator’s thinner films, but it still has that Cronenberg compulsiveness and is perhaps more unashamedly entertaining than some of his deeper, richer masterworks.

Rating: 7/10

This is his best of the two you've reviewed here for me, there's just something more deeper going on in both script and visuals that captured me and made me a huge fan. The body shock is all there but he gets more out of the cast, and for a porn star Chambers is not just very good in the role, but steals the show, with you actually careing for her and feeling the trauma she is going through.

_____________________________

"You listen to me now,i will find you and i will kill you!"

(in reply to Dr Lenera)
Post #: 15478
RE: WEIRD/STRANGE favorite movies? - 23/4/2014 8:43:18 PM   
evil bill


Posts: 6730
Joined: 19/7/2006
From: mordor/ uk
quote:

ORIGINAL: Whistler



It's a film which works on many levels, successfully mixing haunted house clichés with a layered, unpredictable plot, but the fact that it doesn't scare us means it fails on that one fundamental level so candidly vital in the horror genre. The intriguing plot and strong performances make for an interesting watch, but ultimately a forgettable one, which is a real shame. Yet, as it stands, it's the best horror movie of the year.

3/5

So looking forward to seeing this one, and going by your review i'm getting that lift to know there may be a decent horror film this year, after 2013 being on a real high lets hope there's more than just this one.

quote:


 

As brilliant as Hardy is, the writing deserves equal plaudits. Writer/director Steven Knight’s greatest achievement with Locke is his confidence to stick to his simple set-up right until the end and never waver into Hollywood-inflected thriller. Essentially we witness the unravelling of a man’s life over the space of one car journey through a series of phone calls to his work, family and other various people. Knight’s ability to craft phone conversations about domestic disputes then swiftly change to concrete pouring and road closures and make them completely enthralling is extraordinary. There are essentially three story strands being explored, and with just that we’re painted a clear picture of a man’s life, and shown how delicately it hangs on a precipice as it crumbles beneath him. A very, very strong writing sample.

Locke is one of the most interesting, unique and subversive films in recent years. It won’t change your life, or even stay with you for long after, but it’s an absolute exhibition in storytelling and character development with a genuinely brilliant central performance from Tom Hardy. Long car journeys have never been so interesting.

4/5

And yes this is one Thriller I've been hoping to see also, need to do some real catch up in the next lot of weeks, been watching a lot of films on Sky Movies just to fill in some gaps in my viewing.

_____________________________

"You listen to me now,i will find you and i will kill you!"

(in reply to Whistler)
Post #: 15479
RE: WEIRD/STRANGE favorite movies? - 24/4/2014 3:01:28 PM   
UTB


Posts: 9936
Joined: 30/9/2005
Due to jetlag I was awake at 3:30am this morning watching John Carpenter's The Fog.

I have to say it really has become my favorite John Carpenter film. I know The Thing is held in high regard and I do love that film too, but there's something about The Fog I just love. The music, the tone, the genteel pacing, it's just a great ghost/horror film, and the Scream Factory blu-ray is excellent.

(in reply to evil bill)
Post #: 15480
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