The snoopy reporter Sadie Blake is called by her nerd colleague Ethan Mills that has deciphered a code and found an address in Koreatown from information of the Goth Tricia Rawlins about a bloody cult. Sadie does not give attention to Ethan, but when she sees on the front page of the news that Tricia has been found dead in a dumpster in Koreatown, she decides to visit the address. She finds an abandoned house with a gruesome basement full of blood and she immediately drives to Ethan’s apartment. She finds the place in a complete mess and is abducted by a stranger and taken to Bishop, who wants to know what Tricia has told her. Then, Bishop and his mate Eve kill Sadie and they have a necrophilic threesome with her body. Later, Sadie awakes in the freezer of the morgue and sooner she realizes that she is a vampire and promises revenge to her sire.
The story jumps around a lot, flouting the conventions of time as we know them; things simply don’t happen in the exact order we’d expect them to, which clouds Sadie’s motives and intentions quite a bit. Is she good? Is she even human? After all, once she’s been attacked by the vampire people, she’s not exactly the picture of health, and she’s gotta eat to survive. Is her ultimate goal of revenge enough to offset the unpleasant facts? It helps that there’s a typically hissable bad guy, Bishop (James D’Arcy). He’s eternal, of course, and he kills and mutilates and rapes for the sheer joy of it. There are no moral or ethical quandaries with this guy.
Some of the spatial transitions involving Lucy Liu’s character seemed like an editor wasn’t paying proper attention. Probably the best case is where she’s getting tucked into a car trunk, unconscious, during a dialog about getting her car and the kidnapper’s car to another site and then the scene transitions to homeless people on cots and someone who looks like Lucy, dressed in scrubs (when did that happen?). She sucks the juice out of a fresh corpse, then wanders into the night and onto a bridge to kill herself. What happened to her car? When did she get redressed? Who were those morons who kidnapped her? Was that business about taking her to bishop part of a script that got rewritten? Other odd transitions make you wonder if you’re following the same character, or are there multiple characters who, in the failing light, look like they might or might not be Lucy Liu, making you want to go back and review scenes for the wrong reasons.
A couple of minor flaws here are what keep this one down, but otherwise this one here has a couple of really good points to help it. Give this one a shot if you’re into vampire films or a fan of the creative cast, otherwise stick this one into the heed caution category when trying to decide to watch it. The final confrontation in the barn is all of the above, with some really great suspense and atmosphere, a great location and some nice action, which is always appreciated. The fact that the flashback to the turning scene is continuously shown, going more into detail about what happened and it shows that it was a graphic, brutal, bloody scene that is a little uncomfortable to sit through, the way it should be. The fact that there’s also a really a really high body count is the last one, which is always great to have in a film, making it fun and really enjoyable. Even though there’s not a lot of blood spilled, the fact that a lot get knocked off is really nice. These here are the film’s best points.
Europa Report injects a fresh take on the sci-fi/horror genre and is destined to become a cult favorite. While many saw Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity and was mesmerized by the simple things that can make us appreciate life, scare us and make us sweat with anticipation of what will happen next, Sebastian Cordero’s Europa Report, also released in 2013, gives us a similar taste in reality. The film uses the found footage technique to enhance your experience like you’re watching a documentary and in this particular case, it works and doesn’t show off as just a gimmick but as a staple on the overall project.
Daniel Wu and Sharlto Copley headline an international cast of astronauts who are trapped within their own vessel and struggle to stay alive within the vast infinite space. A hidden evil is disrupting their lives and they must fight their way to reach home. The way the film is set up is you already know the outcome of the story. You already know how it goes down because the film is edited out of order. The journey here is the most important aspect and you feel trapped and lonely alongside these characters. How would you react to an unknown enemy? How would you prepare yourself in this situation? These are questions you ask as characters are picked off one by one. While the script has moments of generic tendencies and cliches because we’ve seen this tale be told many times over, the characters themselves are natural and speak volumes. It’s like the actors onscreen are actually in danger within this environment. Director Sebastian Cordero structures everything together to create such panic inside the walls of the ship.
The editing is masterful and the tension keeps building as each frame goes by. Bear McCreary’s epic and terrifying score enhances the film to layer each scene with acute vulnerabilities and heightened awareness. For 90 minutes, you are whisked into this reality as you see these people get lost into oblivion with every decision that is made and wish them anything but this as a desperate calm. While the ending is hit or miss and may upset some viewers, the film is an energetic work of art and shows that sometimes the journey is more important than the destination. If done right, horror and sci-fi can coexist. Europa Report fell under a lot of people’s radars which is a shame but this is a film you have to seek out because it deserves the recognition. A hidden gem that must be discovered. A work that has to be seen to be believed.
Sam Waterston is Sidney Schanberg, a reporter working for the New York Times in the midst of a civil war in Cambodia in the early 70s. His dedicated interpreter is Dith Pran. In and around the capital are a few dozen other reporters and diplomatic personnel, including photographers John Malkovich and Julian Sands. It’s dangerous work. This is a most powerful and visceral film. It is probably the best of the Vietnam war/drama movies even though it is not directly about that country, but of Cambodia. It clearly demonstrates how war transposes into other countries and can forever disfigure them.
Civil wars and political upheaval can often bring out the best elements in a film: suspense, emotion, and the immediacy of current events, in this case turning yesterday’s headlines into a grim but gripping human drama. The 1975 collapse of Cambodia and subsequent ‘re-education’ of its population (through brainwashing and genocide) by Khmer Rouge insurgents is reconstructed through an unlikely but true friendship between two journalists from opposite ends of the globe: hard-nosed New York Times reporter Sydney Schanberg and his resourceful Cambodian counterpart Dith Pran. From their anxious refuge inside the French Embassy in Phnom Penh to the horrors of a post-revolution work camp, the film builds moments of agonizing intensity, although the latter half splits into separate stories of unequal impact: Schanberg, in New York, agonizes verbally and at length over the unknown fate of his friend, while Pran, in the newly named Kampuchea, endures a torment that surpasses words. The performances in general and the cinematography in particular merit special attention, with the moody colors suggesting the light of a solar eclipse: darkness in broad daylight.
The film scatters the nationalities of most of the other first world, usually Capitalist, officials Schanberg and Pran deal with; a deliberate deploying of varying nationalities representative of The First World attempting some form of aid to those of Pran’s ilk involved in the hardships, everything from Australia to Scotland to England to Russia. But the film is less bothered with the politics than it is of the true story of these two men linking up; Schanberg’s relationship with Pran, like Pran’s characteristics in regards to his own natives The Khmer Rouge, is in stark opposition to that of his getting along with The American Government, whom he berates from the beginning and clashes with on a number of personal and political points. After initially arriving and meeting with a relatively spaced out photojournalist named Al Rockoff (Malkovich), Schanberg is forced into travelling to the site of an American bombing raid with some locals when denied access to fly out along with the Americans; a later event as Schanberg attempts to practise liberalism in trying to photograph some atrocities leading to arrest and later realisation at press fabrication with what they perceived to have happened there that day.
This is powerful, engaging and disturbing. The violence and blood is never gratuitous. I doubt anyone could sit through this and not be affected. It does not make for a pleasant viewing, but it is important and should be respected, not ignored. While there is some humor in this, it is seldom if ever a light experience. The script is well-written throughout. It is very difficult to find flaws in this. Wonderfully filmed, well acted, brilliantly scripted, The Killing Fields is a timeless, important classic. A must see for any student of history or film.
By a subtle meshing of reality and fantasy, Michel Comte and his team bring to the screen a visual orgy of modern ballet, opera and narrative film-making. Filming took place in various locations including Japan, Germany, the US and Italy. The grand finale of the film shot at Teatro Valle in Rome, one of the first opera houses to premiere Puccini’s original. The Girl From Nagasaki stars both Mariko Wordell and prima ballerina Polina Semionova as the tragic geisha Madame Butterfly. Yoshida plays the faithful maid Suzuki and both Edoardo Ponti and Christopher Lee star as Officer Pinkerton. The cast includes Robert Evans, Nobu Matsuhisa, Michael Nyqvist, Michael Wincott, Anna Orso, Clemens Schick, Lisa Zane, Mehmet Yumak, Burhan Öçal, Marianne Faithfull and Sasha Alexander.
The film stars Polina Semionova, who is a prima ballerina and Principle for the Berlin State Opera, as Madame Butterfly, and the cast is very diverse. It feels like it ought to be a beautifully produced film. If you haven’t seen Puccini’s opera, we encourage you to do so. It’s a classic tale that has been told and retold, and there are several modern day references and allusions to it throughout modern society. It’s well worth the time to find a video with subtitles and sit in for an evening with the opera. The emotions are all outsized, operatic, and the film flutters between live performance and staged scenes, computer animation and abstract imagery. Christopher Lee is in there, as is Michael Wincott, who rhapsodizes about the various flavor notes of sake. It’s all a bit exhausting at times, but undeniably strange and daring.
The director said something quite interesting regarding the film: This film was never supposed to be a film. It was supposed to be a contemporary art installation. But my wife and I found that the opera world is getting too old and that opera season tickets for the metropolitan or the Berlin opera or any of the big operas around the world have become too expensive. What better way then to just make it yourself? There are dance sequences meant to illustrate the main character’s state of mind that are both thematically blunt and laughably over-the-top, even if they do look spectacular. The movie was projected in 3D for no apparent reason other than this is a thing that some experimental films are doing now. By the time a spacewalk sequence set to, you guessed it, Space Oddity, rolls around, I was more than through. It’s a pity the movie kept going on for another hour.
The Wolf of Wall Street is a 2013 Oscar nominated film directed by legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese based on the memoirs of the same name and stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort, a man who rises from the bottom of the barrel; a stain on a stock brokers’ Armani suit to become a man who possesses whatever he wants, whenever he wants. In other words, he becomes filthy stinking rich.
The film begins after showing Belfort midway through his rich life of luxury, in the beginning of his naive, young little life, trying to make a name for himself. He gets introduced to the world of Wall Street by Mark Hanna (triumphantly played by Matthew McConaughey) and tells him that in order to successfully live life in Wall Street you need to have a life of cocaine and sex. Shortly after he begins to give it a try, the firm collapses due to Black Monday. He then takes a job dealing penny stocks and becomes partners with Donnie Azoff (played impeccably by Jonah Hill, who is nominated for an Oscar for the role). He also recruits several friends to start a company called Stratton Oakmont including Jon Bernthal as Brad, Kenneth Choi as Chester and P.J. Byrne as Rugrat. The life of sex, drugs and everything in between becomes a reality.
DiCaprio is absolutely electrifying as Belfort who also serves as our (un)trustworthy narrator. He commands your attention. He practically begs for it as he dominates in every scene he’s in. Not to be outshined by his leading co-star, Jonah Hill shows a certain nuance that is a perfect counterpoint to DiCaprio. When they are onscreen together, magic happens. The film itself though tells us that everyone involved in Wall Street is addicted to sex and drugs and they drink until they fall over. There is enough excess here to last a lifetime and sometimes it feels like it’s too much by showing multiple scenes of partying over and over again. When Belfort finally reaches that pedestal he acts like the alpha male but he truly looks like a child with a lost cause. He’s unpredictable and an enigma of the materialistic culture we live in. These characters don’t have a lot of redeeming qualities but it makes you wonder how exciting life could be, given the circumstances.
Do you care about Belfort? Not really. Do you care about DiCaprio’s portrayal as Belfort? Of course. He did an excellent job. Do you care about the movie as a whole? That depends on whether you can tolerate a 180 minute film. Money got the best of him as his Aunt Emma suggests, among other substances.
MITT is a film that premiered at the Sundance film festival and is now available on Netflix and is being billed as a Netflix original because Lisa Nishimura-Seese, Netflix’s VP of Original Documentaries and Comedies, helped produce the film, making this the first film to be available for public viewing while Sundance was still going on. The opening scene of MITT shows the Romney family sitting down and realizing what we all know today; that they had lost the election to Barack Obama. Despite where you are on the political spectrum, this film does what we need more of from political documentaries; showcase the human side of a politician who is perceived only by what the public sees on their television and see them at their most vulnerable.
After the first scene, the film goes to 2008, where the first half of the film highlights and shows Romney running for President. Romney looks less prepared but more fierce as he would eventually, if you know your political history, lose the nomination to John McCain who would later lose to Obama. Romney did eerily predict the outcome of that race saying, “He’s not gonna beat Barack Obama. Barack Obama has changed the race. He’s changed our prospects.” Flash forward to 2012 and he goes against that sentiment, running for President again but this time reaches a further step closer to the presidency.
Most people saw Romney as being robotic or not relatable enough and while this film may not change your perspective on him, it does show the man in a new light. Seeing him react after the first debate with Obama and feeling confident then after the second debate feeling the complete opposite, despite his family trying to support him the best they can, is quite staggering. The film could have benefited from showing how he felt after all the negative hits he took during his campaign and how he responded to them but it seemed filmmaker Greg Whiteley wanted to keep those distractions out of the it as much as possible. Also, there are some camera angles that feel sluggish and subpar like when the camera is capturing Romney then gradually departs to film the sky with Romney’s head just barely visible during the scene. Was this intentional? Who knows?
No one will change their minds after seeing this film but it will hopefully give you a more respectable viewpoint on what these people go through. It certainly doesn’t look tough but it certainly isn’t for everyone. However you may feel about Mitt Romney, that’s not the issue. What is important is showing the man, his family and his presidential campaign. Whiteley succeeds quite marginally.
Done in the style of a 1970s mockumentary, “Finishing the Game” is based on the premise that, when Bruce Lee died in 1973 at the age of 32, he left behind twelve minutes of footage for a movie entitled “The Game of Death.” Determined to bring Lee’s final dream to fruition, a group of dedicated filmmakers set out to find a replacement for the star in the hopes of finishing the project. “Finishing the Game” is a fictionalized account of that search (the actual movie was released in 1978).
Unfortunately, beyond its spot-on ’70s fashions and hairstyles, oh-so-groovy soundtrack and overall air of genial good-naturedness, “Finishing the Game” offers little of quality for anyone craving a good behind-the-scenes movie parody. Lacking both polish and finesse, the movie represents a major comedown for director Justin Lee after his stunning triumph with “Better Luck Tomorrow” a few years back. The half-hearted Josh Diamond screenplay scarcely makes an effort at being funny, and the concept itself is simply too thin to be successfully stretched out over even a relatively meager 84-minute-long running time. Barely flash-in-the-pan cameo appearances by the likes of James Franco, MC Hammer and Ron Jeremy do little to support an otherwise likable cast. And there isn’t even any decent martial arts action to make the movie much fun for fans of the genre being satirized.
The jokes are tongue-in-cheek, but the problem with them is that they are simply not funny. The whole movie is filmed in a pseudo-documentary style that has become a most overused technique in the last 10 years of independent movies. The situations and plot lines are sometimes cute, but mostly predictable and definitely not intelligent enough. The story actually looks like a long episode of “Office” (the US version), and you have a twitch to start channel surfing instead. I’m not sure how many Bruce Lee fans are still out there, but this film has very little to do with his work and just takes the premise and runs with it – unfortunately the end result is bland and devoid of any creative spark.
I have no idea how this movie got made. I’m even more amazed that its gotten a theatrical release, and flabbergasted that IFC has picked it up. Frankly its the worst film I’ve seen from their releasing arm. While Time Out New York said that there are no laughs in the film I do have to say there are some, maybe five minutes of screen time, worth of jokes, including the Ron Jeremy stuff. Other than that this is just a an embarrassingly bad (and not really fun) movie that takes on a road accident quality that hypnotizes you for a few seconds before you speed off to something else since the carnage is too great. Easily one of the worst films of the year.
Scott Adkins leaps about in this really iffy low budget creature feature which doesn’t really scare or thrill. Nothing much happens at all accept for the odd obligatory water sequence where faceless people get snatched by the monster. Its all very ‘Lake Placid’ like but with really bad attempted humour and some atrocious acting all round. Travis and his team travel to China in search of what isn’t supposed to exist … their mission to capture a Cryptid which is wreaking havoc in a remote village and they need to do this before it is killed by Harker, the legendary bounty hunter.
The dragon in question isn’t really a dragon naturally (shame), they go down the more realistic approach and merely make it an overgrown gecko type lizard…salamanderzilla. So no fantasy element just a stupid looking big lizard that doesn’t really look threatening. The finale sequence in the caves really shows the creature in a bad light, hokey ass CGI. The moment Adkins wrestles the beast is fantastically crappy looking, even Harryhausen’s dated work looks better. The only thing more hokey than the CGI lizard is the lurching Lundgren and of course this being a flick with the two action men they gotta fight. Amazingly though neither of them gets their shirts off, old fashioned fisticuffs for this one. The entire film is basically trash accept for the finale which is slightly more exciting, as said the lizard looks awful but at least you get plenty of eating action. It feels like a homage to those old Doug McClure fantasy flicks more than anything, then you could easily forgive the schlock on screen, problem is it isn’t. Why would the Chinese hire Americans to search their countryside for a man eating amphibian?
I will say the movie was nicely shot, and had some really beautiful scenery to work with. And the lizards themselves, well, they were actually rendered nicely enough. As for the cast of the movie, well, I will just say that you know what you are getting with these people, and they deliver. Just about so, nothing more, nothing less. I mean, wouldn’t someone notice that lizards bigger than cars were roaming the Chinese countryside? Especially because creatures of that size would have to eat a substantial amount of food in order to stay alive, especially when there is more than one of them around. Secondly, why would the Chinese government bring in American researchers, soldiers and freelancers? It just doesn’t add up. Especially when one of the groups were running around armed to the teeth.
Dolph Lundgren is his usual self, playing the cigar smoking hunter who won’t even consider letting the animals live to be studied. Though really what purpose a 30 foot lizard, or bear are to helping make this a better world is something that this movie never gets clear. The sudden ending with everything all wrapped up is just too perfect after all the messy crap that no one was doing right for most of the movie. These people are all just going to get themselves killed, and then there will just be a park full of giant weird animals eating each other in the sequel for sure. I didn’t Enjoy this movie over all, the animals all look fake, and I never felt that anyone should be allowed to put themselves in that kind of danger for no real reason. You will most likely never see this movie, but if you do, I can tell you that you will come away unimpressed, and feeling like you should have just skipped it.
I’m going to try and say as little as possible about the plot. Actually, nothing about the plot would be best. Some people spend the entire time watching a movie like this trying to “figure it out” or whatever. Which is fine and all but disrespects the movie to a degree. I’m not one of those people but even if I were, I seriously doubt it would help much. The story has quite a bit of mystery to it. You don’t really know much more than the characters for most of the run time, but it’s a good thing. It isn’t frustrating/mysterious like David Lynch or something, and there is a pay off in the third act. I’m not a particularly dumb man but a couple things I was still vague on at the end, but I prefer that to being beaten over the head with explanations or a narrator.
Boasting a cast including the fantastic Josie Ho and Sharlto Copley from Elysium, Open Grave hits the ground running with a great opening and keeps you guessing quite a bit as to what’s going on. The entire cast were very good and considering such an accomplished movie viewer as myself hadn’t figured things out within the first twenty minutes that was a good sign. The progress of the story is well paced and the style is gritty and quite violent at times. It’s a smart enough movie in a world where that’s a rare thing. It does cover some familiar ground however is all wrapped up and executed under a fresh feeling approach enough to have it result in a very enjoyable thriller/horror flick. Reminded me much on the fantastic and cinematic video game The Last of Us.
The cinematography is ambitious, the music and sound are used subtly and with good effect, and the film’s first quarter drags you in well and you want to know on earth happened just as much as the characters in the film. But as they begin to interact, it all goes wrong. The dialogue is forced and unnatural, their decision making strange, and the American accent by South African Sharlto Copley distracts, especially when you are trying to understand someone who has just woken up not knowing who he is. As the film gets past the hallway point, it loses its direction.
It’s a little slow at times, mostly, I think because the viewer should be trying to determine what the heck is going on. It’s as if they slowed the pace on purpose to allow time to think about what just happened. That does work, but I had only a little idea of what the real motivation of the film was by the time we actually find out. The movie is well worth seeing and although it pushes a couple of weird buttons about some potential challenges, I’d be surprised if you figure it out before the climax. A slightly above average film that welcomes the return of Josie Ho to the big screen.