Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Grand Isle (2019)
A muscular handyman and an insane couple during a hurricane. Stormy story.
Go ahead and take her.
She's all yours.
But I'll tell you this.
She got a dark side... Darker than hell.
I admire the phenomenon called Nicolas Cage enormously. Every film with him (and nowadays it's a lot every year) is a mandatory watch for me. I really can't let a single Cage movie pass by. Even though I know that more than half of them are of a dubious level. And some downright bad. And yet there are sometimes gems in between. Now, "Grand Isle" certainly isn't the pinnacle of his film oeuvre. It's rather mediocre. The run-up is promising. The concept had potential. And Cage is having a blast with his role that fits him like a glove. Add to that a bitter Milf, a young handyman whose hormones are going berzerk and "Frasier" as a biased, god-fearing detective who would prefer to put the suspect on a stake, and you still have enough material to make something out of it. It all looks reasonable. Until halfway somewhere. And then the movie transforms to the level of an average C film. Unfortunately, the presence of such a cult figure as Cage couldn't change that.
And to think that a white fence is the beginning of all the misery for Buddy (Luke Benward). Such an innocent item with far-reaching consequences. The way in which this fence was damaged, on the other hand, is not so innocent. Not difficult when the owner of the house is an ex-marine with a serious drinking problem. Walter (Nicolas Cage) is a bitter, fatalistic persona. A bit of a crazy person who still can't get over the fact that he got wounded in Vietnam in a ridiculous way and returned home while his platoon went on a mission the next day. The disappointment was immense. Even knowing that the entire platoon got eliminated completely a few weeks later, the disappointment about a missed opportunity remains. This pent-up anger in combination with excessive alcohol consumption makes him an unguided projectile. His mood, grumpy reactions, and downright aggressive attitude make him an unpleasant person.
Walter also doesn't treat his other half kindly. She's a mature diva whose body shapes are extremely well preserved and whose libido clearly hasn't disappeared yet. And let that be exactly what Walter fails to deliver. He won't even budge when she shows up in a transparent nightgown with erotic underwear underneath it. A disinterested look and another sip of a glass of whiskey are the only reactions. It's not without reason that this hot woman sets her sights on the young, muscular handyman. A handyman with a sex life on the back burner since his lovely wife gave birth to a cuddly daughter. And just when you think it's going to be about a dangerous triangular relationship where the psychopathic-looking husband wants to initiate a lynch party, the young handyman sits at the police station, face bloodied, trying to prove his innocence in a murder case.
Indeed, Walter is really the kind of character that has Nicolas Cage written all over it. The manic mood. Maniacal laughter. Medium length, greasy hair, and a rough stubble beard. The constant drinking and the half-awake state he's in practically all the time. And it's not the first time Cage played such a person. In short, it feels familiar to see him that way. The most interesting interpretation, however, is that of Kadee Strickland as the voluptuous Fancy. Every time she's in the shot, you simply feel the erotic tension increase. Her sultry voice and sensuous appearance ensure she demands all the attention. Unfortunately, Luke Benward could not compete with these two heavyweights. And although he actually plays the main character, it felt like his part was less important.
As I said before, the format of the film is only half successful. It seemed to be heading in the direction of a "Basic Instinct" -like, erotic thriller. Only the eroticism and the thriller section remains below par. And you get a rather absurd conclusion. Also, the dark secret of this demonic couple is presented so casually that its impact is negligible. And let's not forget about the intervention of the police. You really can call this part quite ridiculous. Furthermore, the movie is peppered with improbabilities. Such as that small detail from the testimony that cannot even be verified immediately. But still, it ensures that the biased inspector makes a 180-degree turn immediately. It's amazing how someone's beliefs can change so quickly. And the end of the film is simply terrible. Apparently even the marine uniform Cage was wearing, was also completely wrong. Again proof that quantity and quality aren't related. If you are an immense Cage fan, you should watch it of course. Unfortunately, "Grand Isle" isn't really grand after all.
More reviews here: movie-freak.be
The movie is as boring as any environmental debate of today.
Sam, we have to leave this place.
Sooner or later you'll have to.
"IO" will certainly be an orgasmic experience for global environmentalists and defeatists. Supporters of global protest movements about global warming and the destruction of our balanced eco-system will certainly use this film as an example to reinforce their apocalyptic disaster scenarios. Can you already imagine it? Such a television program where they put a microphone under the nose of such an environmental adept? You can bet that comments such as "You see. Any idea what misery we'll get into if we don't intervene now?" will be flung at the interviewer. In my humble opinion, all this is a storm in a glass of water (And no, global warming didn't cause that storm). I blame it on the natural evolution that our planet is undergoing. An evolution in cycles in which we as humans only speed up the process because of our polluting behavior. Soit. I should stick to just one particular thing I'm good at. And that's to write down a review of the movie in question. Short and concise: the film is as boring as any environmental debate of today.
For those who didn't know yet, "IO" shows us for the umpteenth time a deserted, uninhabitable planet Earth. This concept has been used to a great extent in multiple films with a different cause each time. Either it's because of a zombie outbreak like in "World War Z" and similar zombie movies. Or it's prehistoric creatures like in "The Silence" that cause a global slaughter. And let's not forget aliens? They appear all the time to plunder our blue planet because they themselves are without resources. Viruses, impulses via mobile telephones, an innocent text message, a computer virus or simply a world war. An enormous number of causes have already been used to create chaos with an extinct planet as a result.
Here in "IO", it's toxic fumes that cause the population to die en masse. Choking and blood transforming into a black liquid. Scientists claim the reason is an unexpected change in atmospheric composition. Smart people with common sense realize that it's only Mother Earth who is thoroughly sick and tired of us and tries to get us off this planet with a well-aimed ecological kick in the butt. The result is a massive exodus to IO, a planet floating around somewhere near Jupiter. But that doesn't apply to teenage girl Sam (Margaret Qualley) who stayed behind on Mother Earth, living in a house somewhere on a mountain where the toxic fumes can't reach. When she looks over the valley, this smothering smog hangs like fog in the valley. Even a storm cannot blow these toxic fumes over the ridge. What the storm surely did, was blowing away a bee colony, necessary for the scientific research Sam and her father, who initiated this research and apparently didn't survive the disaster, were doing. Or he went up in smoke. I cannot judge what this scientific research actually meant or if it made sense. That's probably due to my limited intelligence.
All in all, the beginning of the film wasn't bad. Sam wearing an oxygen mask, traveling through the deserted streets of some American city with the help of a quad (equipped with a trailer). Images of a dead city and horribly dark underground corridors where rainwater drips from the ceiling. And the realization that her visiting time is limited to the content of the oxygen bottles. A miscalculation and she falls prey to the toxic fumes. Exciting. Captivating. But at the same time, it's not groundbreaking. Even when Micah (Anthony "Falcon" Mackie) arrives in a Jules Verne-like balloon, it doesn't get much more fascinating. What follows is a conflict between these two main characters. Sam wants to continue her father's life's work and prove that life on Earth could be possible in the future. Micah wants to board the last spaceship that leaves for IO but needs some extra help. When the romantic get-together comes into play, I immediately thought of "Z for Zachariah". A similar film that starts interesting but is characterized by a general dullness and slowness.
The two main characters weren't the problem. Margaret Qualley is a good-looking appearance and shows in a solid way how determined the character Sam is. Only the decisions she made were a bit implausible. Anthony Mackie manages to play the unsympathetic balloonist with a self-control problem effortlessly. The script was too nihilistic for me. The pace was irritatingly low. And the story itself was extremely boring. Many technically perfect still lifes. Lots of musing and breaks full of drama. Even the hopeful ending with a mythological-religious message couldn't raise the level. Well, "IO" was a bit of a disappointment for me. I didn't expect a "Lucas Arts" kind of movie where everything "explodes and blasts and bleeps". But in terms of dullness, this Netflix Original still beats many competitors.
You can watch "IO" on Netflix now!
More reviews here: movie-freak.be
Uncut Gems (2019)
Adam Sandler nails it in this nerve-wracking thriller.
That's a million dollar opal you are holding.
Straight from the Ethiopian Jewish tribe.
Are you in the middle of a nasty divorce? Or are you at home on sick leave because of burnout due to your stressful job that demands too much from you? Or are those two revolting teenagers at home, who go through puberty right now, making you so much upset that you almost have no fingernails anymore? Good advice! Ignore this movie and look for another soothing movie. Because "Uncut Gems" will certainly not be ideal for your peace of mind. I'm afraid that after 20 minutes you'll be throwing snacks at the screen out of frustration while pulling your hair out of sheer desperation. Because it's the most stressful film ever. It drives up the tension throughout the whole movie in a merciless way to an extreme level. Believe me, at the end of the film my heart rhythm was proportional to that of the exhilarating rhythm of this tragicomic film.
Not only is it a nerve-wracking film. The pace of the film is also absurdly high. A movie like an out of control high-speed train. It seemed as if everyone is running from pillar to post at an inhuman pace. From the beginning of the film, it looks like you are being thrown into a centrifuge that's spinning at a dizzying speed and where the speed never diminishes. Up to and including the denouement. Then the emergency brake is pulled swiftly and the tumultuous life of jeweler Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler) abruptly comes to a halt. And if you are annoyed by the use of the "f" word, I warn you already. There are a few hidden in every dialogue.
I'm not at all an Adam Sandler fan. The few films I saw with him ("Click", "Blended" and "The Cobbler") were disappointing in my eyes. Maybe it's the humor used by Sandler. Maybe it's the person Sandler himself I have a problem with. And to be honest, I always avoid movies with his name on the film poster. It surprised me when I read somewhere that he's the best-paid actor in Hollywood. But after seeing "Uncut Gems" I have to drastically adjust my opinion about the actor Sandler. It's not a real comedy (in a reasonably morbid way you could see some kind of humor in it) although you could say that the character Sandler is playing here, is kind of a caricature. Howard, a Jewish jeweler in the metropolis of New York, tries to get his chaotic life back on track. An Ethiopian opal should take care of that. An uncut diamond that according to Howard could muster a fortune at an auction. A fortune with which he can pay off his debts to pawnbrokers and underworld figures. Debts incurred due to his uncontrollable gambling addiction. Until the famous basketball star Kevin Garnett (Kevin Garnett himself) steps in his diamond shop and asks if he could borrow the precious thing because he feels it exudes a primal power. A power that could bring his performance to an unprecedented height during the upcoming important match.
Well, and when KG doesn't return the precious good to Howard at the agreed time, it's the start of a nerve-racking race. A race in which Howard's life is turned into a hell by nasty people, debt collectors, his wife (Idina Menzel who hates him wholeheartedly and calls him the most annoying person in the world) and his mistress Julia (Julia Fox). Even though Howard is indeed a highly annoying person without scruples or any kind of courtesy, you still feel sorry for this man whose life is collapsing like a house of cards. And even though I got nervous because of the Mr. Bean-like character of the film where Howard screws up every time he makes a decision over and over again, this film still managed to entertain me. I could never have imagined that I would ever say this, but Adam Sandler is simply playing his role in an exceptionally excellent way. This was actually worthy of an Oscar nomination. Hopefully, Sandler developed a taste for serious movies now and will make another attempt with a serious role (in a hopefully less hectic setting) in the future. However, I'm afraid that we'll be seeing a load of comedies (filled with offbeat, childish humor) before that'll happen.
More reviews here: movie-freak.be
Sam Did It (2018)
Shame on me. Dominic Burgess himself asked me to have a watch. More than a year ago!
Sam Did It is a short film directed by British actor and writer Dominic Burgess, who also stars in the film
Occasionally a short film as an in-betweenie is always welcome. Naturally, the short duration (that's why it's called a short film) is a huge plus. Also, the fact that one cannot continue to beat around the bush and use an infinite number of subplots to ultimately reach a conclusion also has its advantages. And when the content is also magically conceived, such a short film is really a treat.
And "Sam Did It" is one of the better short films I've seen in recent years. Not only because of the acting work of Dominic Burgess as Sam the employee in the mortuary. But also because of the inventive story. And let's not forget, Alfred Molina (yes, Dr. Octopus in "Spider-man 2") also plays a part in this sublime short film. He's playing himself. Even though his role is fairly dead and lifeless. Not surprisingly. He's the one Sam discovers on his table in the mortuary. And even better, Sam appears to be the biggest fan of Alfred Molina.
Perhaps you've never been confronted with it yourself, but with every mourning process, most people go through five stages to process a traumatic experience (such as the loss of a loved person). I think Dominic Burgess goes through them all here. The euphoria, after seeing his idol on the dissection table, quickly changes into despair, anger, sadness and finally resignation. And the latter phase has disastrous consequences. Dominic Burgess is simply stunning in showing all those states of mind. Phases that'll either touch you or cause a modest chuckle. You can safely call the scene with the selfies and (of course) the denouement rather hilarious.
All in all, "Sam did it" is highly recommendable. It's short (extremely suitable as a pre-film) and shows that one can deliver a complete end product with limited resources and budget, but with an excellent concept and priceless idea. Both in terms of structure and imaging, this short film is simply sublime. And also immense respect for Molina who cooperated in this project. In short, a great end result that provides a bit of entertainment.
However, I must conclude with an embarrassing fact. And that's the fact that the person who asked me in the distant past via a private message to watch this short film, was Dominic Burgess in person. Hereby I want to apologize for this late response. And hopefully, he won't brief this to Alfred Molina. I will be more alert in the future.
More reviews here: movie-freak.be
The Sonata (2018)
Music soothes the soul... Well, not in this flick.
Do you like a dash of classical music? And are you a fan of Gothic horror movies such as "Crimson Peaks" for example? Well, then you'll certainly enjoy yourself with this movie "The Sonata". However, if you are looking for a scary and nerve-racking horror, then it would be best to ignore it. Because it really isn't creepy at all. Only the background music tries its best to make it all a bit more exciting. Even worse. In this film, classical music is even the means par excellence for opening the gate to hell so the Prince of Darkness in person can walk amongst us. All quite mysterious but the film just didn't make it to the "horror" category.
The most unique thing about the film is the fact that Rutger Hauer shows up in it. Most likely his last achievement in the field of acting. But don't get too excited. The number of times he appears on screen is fairly limited. He may be the central figure in this mystery, which mainly takes place on French territory, but still, he plays a minor role. Hauer plays the eccentric composer Richard Marlowe who has withdrawn to an old mansion from the 10th century to compose a final symphony there. Marlowe may not have been a famous composer, but he was a notorious one. "A trendy composer" as Charles Vernais (Simon Abkarian), the agent of the talented violinist Rose Fisher (Freya Tingley), claims. The Syd Barrett of the classical music scene, as it were. When Richard Marlowe dies, his daughter Rose (her father disappeared out of her life when she was 14 months old) inherits the estate and his notorious past. And when the wayward Rose travels to France to view the dilapidated estate, she finds, miraculously, the latest creation of her deceased father. A violin sonata that, according to her agent, could cause quite a stir in the world of classical music. Did they know that this bundle of scores full of musical notes and mysterious signs would become a completely different source of misery?
"The Sonata" is not really a movie to remember. There are too many flaws to be discovered in it. First of all, there's the acting part. This was generally acceptable. But at times it was simply bad. As if the actors weren't able to empathize with their character suddenly. The only one who continued to act on the same level was Freya Tingley. Not only she's a natural beauty. Her acting as the somewhat emotionless and resentful Rose is absolutely splendid. The most disappointing thing about this film was the CGI. I haven't seen such outdated special effects for a long time. Most probably the budget must be blamed. Especially the graphics at the end of the film was laughable. And as said before, there's also the total lack of tension or creepiness. Apart from a single "jump scare", this was a rather weak aspect. And many will complain about the denouement. A "That's it?" sigh won't be far away. And some things didn't make much sense either. For instance. Despite the alienation from her father (even being ignorant of whether he's alive or not), Rose doesn't hesitate for a second to travel to France and move into a ruin that looks like a haunted house. Weird.
Naturally, you expect a film about a possessed house where restless souls roam around. In a sense, that's true, but it doesn't feel that way. It's rather a film about obsession and the power that lies in music. The most positive thing about the film is the overall atmosphere they managed to create. And this mainly due to the set-up. An age-old country house with dark, drafty rooms full of cobwebs. Where people still have to use such a medieval-looking candlestick at night. But the soundtrack also contributed to the mood. Something I don't really pay attention to normally. But I have to admit that classical music is extremely suitable to give it a more spooky touch. Only the music wasn't enough to make it a scary movie. A nice attempt. A pleasure to see Rutger again. But unfortunately, nothing special either.
More reviews here: movie-freak.be
Giant Little Ones (2018)
A coming of age movie about coming-out or not.
It never would have happened
if we weren't wasted.
Just like in chemistry class at the start of the film, there's a lot of intense experimenting among the youngsters in this movie. Especially sexually. However, when this experimenting turns out bad for Ballas (Darren Mann), he starts losing his mind. Because it could be detrimental to his reputation as a tough stallion who prefers to brag about the number of times he did it with his girlfriend. His blood brother, friend for life and partner in crime Franky (Josh "Walking Out" Wiggins) suddenly becomes the feared enemy. Franky is treated as a purebred pariah whose proximity causes paranoid reactions. As if he's the carrier of disgusting STDs. From one day to the next, Franky belongs to the camp of the outcasts in a youth community where popular teens, who measure up to the ideal of beauty, are in charge and seem to lay down the standard rules for acceptance.
"Giant Little Ones" belongs both in the category of "Coming of age" films and the category containing films with a gay/lesbian theme. Now about that last item. The film deals with that topic in a clever way. And this by not explicitly revealing anything about the actual sexual orientation of the persons involved. At the end of the film, we still don't know whether Franky or Ballas should come out of the proverbial closet. And that makes "Giant Little Ones" a film that feels authentic. As in reality, some people need a lot of time to discover their sexual preferences. The only personage in this film who does this coming-out is Franky's father (a limited but defining role played by Kyle "Twin Peaks" MacLachlan). A situation that causes conflicting feelings for Franky. On the one hand, there is a love-hate relationship between him and his father. Its the opinion of Franky that Ray has disrupted the ideal family portrait and that he abandoned them. On the other hand, Franky starts to have doubts regarding his sexual orientation. There's the question of whether or not he has inherited genetic material from his father.
The whole fuss starts when Franky and Ballas go to bed and sleep there together after a hellish birthday party, during which excessive alcohol and probably other mind-altering drugs are consumed. Initially, it all looks like a perfectly normal idea. Two friends sleeping in the same bed. Although, they both are in a questionable state. And all this because the plans Franky had with his so-called girlfriend Priscilla, failed that evening. That's why they ended up together, instead of fooling around with their girlfriends. Anyway, it's abundantly clear that their friendship reached a completely different level that evening. Blurred images of someone tossing and turning plus one of the two fleeing the scene early in the morning, are both good indications to back this up. When afterward Ballas takes a distant demeanor (or even better, an aggressive, hostile attitude) and visibly doesn't want any contact with Franky anymore (and other fellow students as well.
Josh Wiggins' acting is outstanding. A fresh young man who on the one hand effortlessly is invited to the club of popular boys and at the same time has an attitude as if this reputation doesn't really interest him. Darren Mann also played a convincing role and was the perfect choice to play the role of Ballas. He has a charisma that fits such a guy who makes peers' lives miserable because they are less fortunate when it comes to appearance and heritage. Such a kid who must uphold his reputation with his fellow confreres and therefor degrades himself to harassment and play that annoying tough-guy routine. And of course, such a person is idolized by members of the opposite sex who practice the same standards. Let's try and describe such a girl. A blond bimbo with a shockingly low IQ whose sole purpose in life is to open her well-shaped, slender tanned legs wide open as quickly as possible in such a way that this popular jock can get his kicks. A victory for the young lady in question whose reputation goes sky-high among like-minded female souls. And finally, I think Taylor Hickson's role was the most moving.
Visually, "Giant Little Ones" isn't really spectacular. But narratively speaking, it's an excellent, almost brilliant film. The film shows how fake a part of American youth is. A plastic payment card has more character and charisma than most of those mannequins from posh circles. Not only these cartoonish fake persons with their derogatory and homophobic behavior are being presented here. But also those who stay true to themselves, are put in the spotlight. The message "Be yourself" is extensively displayed here. The hilarious lesbo Mouse (Niamh Wilson) in particular loudly proclaims this message by doing things the way she likes it. "Giant Little Ones" has both emotional and funny moments. And what it mainly did, was surprise me. In a positive way, that is.
More reviews here: movie-freak.be
Inherit the Viper (2019)
More a family drama than a crime story.
Josie... promise me something.
Protecting this family comes first.
When it's time to quit, we quit.
No questions asked.
Everyone knows the principle of the "American Dream". The ideal image of a hard-working American who, regardless of his origin, can reach the top through hard work and commitment. "Inherit the Viper" shows the other side of the coin. A film about American citizens who experience the "American Nightmare". They are part of agglomerations located in remote areas where poverty prevails and survival instinct is a necessity. An additional problem in recent years in the U.S. is the opioid crisis that causes an unprecedented number of victims. This widespread addiction is the Conley family's important source of income. Apparently they inherited the business from their deceased father. Although, the storyline about what happened to him wasn't really clear to me.
"Inherit the Viper" is primarily a crime thriller in which the Conley family, consisting of sister Josie (Margarita Levieva) and her two brothers Kip (Josh "Pearl Harbor" Hartnett) and Boots (Owen "IT" Teague), try to make ends meet by running a thriving drug-dealing business somewhere in Appalachia (especially the opioid pills OxyContin) and to sell pills to the locals massively. Even though the subject lends itself to the elaboration of a solid crime story, this film is rather a family drama in which the dynamic between the different family members is central. A family triangle with opposite character traits.
Josie is the tough little cookie from the family whose numbness has reached shocking proportions. Without hesitation, she puts a freshly sold pill back in her pocket that she finds next to the body of an addicted old woman who just died. Self-interest has more priority to her than compassion for a fellow person. Hence the explanation for a later initiative she takes and which shows how numb she is. Kip is an ex-soldier. A hardened and fearless gut-eater who knows the tricks of the trade. Yet he's the one who would prefer to stop with the family business in order to build a safer future with his heavily pregnant girlfriend. And finally, you have Boots, the benjamin of the family. This impetuous teenager wants nothing more than to get into the family business as quickly as possible. Because this is still being put on hold by brother and especially his sister, it's Boots who takes an initiative. Unfortunately, things are not going the way he'd hoped.
"Inherit the Viper" isn't a masterpiece, but still it fascinates. It's a gray, dark (literally and figuratively) portrait about despair and how to survive in a run-down and soulless corner in American society. A life without a future that requires the protagonists to make unworthy decisions. No shred of compassion is shown. It's all about supporting the family. Although you feel the tension constantly and the Conley family is slowly but surely confronted with threatening situations (a police investigation is in progress resulting in an accusing finger pointing at them and revenge-seeking city dwellers who have lost someone thanks to the Conley's threaten them) there are very few action-rich or criminal scenes. This is largely compensated by the interesting interactions and the realistic appearance of the film. The most colorful role is that of Bruce Dern as the obscure, critically ill bar owner where Josie deals pills. A local character who isn't amused with the fact that corpses are piling up in his bar and whose metaphorical story actually uncovers the essence of what this film is about. And also it's an explanation of the film title. Although I am not 100% sure about that either.
The denouement managed to surprise me in a certain way. And I was also pleased to see that Josh Hartnett hasn't slipped off the grid. If you come across "Inherit the Viper" on a VOD service, I recommend to give it a chance. This dark film is worth a watch.
More reviews here: movie-freak.be
The Professor (2018)
Depp plans to go out with a bang.
What kind of cancer is it?
It's, uh, it's lung cancer.
You don't smoke.
No. I can now.
Let me start in a cheeky and derogatory tone. Let's take Jack Sparrow, promote him to be an eloquent university professor teaching literature and tell him that he's terminally ill. If you watch the movie "The Professor" (the original movie title was "Richard says goodbye") with a dismissive attitude, you could utter such a statement. Well. Johnny Depp may have the tendency to use the ever-drunk pirate character. But otherwise, this entertaining tragicomedy doesn't have much in common or many similarities with the Caribbean pirate spectacle. Even if the film is steeped with dark humor, a deeply tragic subject can still be discovered. A message about acceptance and an attitude of resignation. Though, Richard's (Johnny Depp) way of acceptance and resignation can be called very rigorous.
Instead of a tough treatment against the proliferating ailment, Richard decides to let things carry on as they are and completely change the course of his life (the subtle Sparrow-references come to mind spontaneously). That means enjoying life to the full. In short, exploiting the saying "Carpe Diem" in an extreme way. Richard gets dead drunk continuously, smoking pot on a regular basis and venturing into unabashed free sex. In fact, with both sexes and with the approval of his wife who confessed she's having an affair with Richard's boss. So you can say that the bad news told by his doctor, caused a groundbreaking turn in his personal life. For the bystanders, however, it seems as if he has become completely insane.
This is without a doubt one of the most successful interpretations of Depp in years. Here this energetic actor shows he can act for sure. I fully understand that he was given this part. The rebellious character of the egocentric figure Richard fits effortlessly with a figure like Johnny Depp. Perhaps his personal private situation provided the appropriate state of mind to play this indifferent intellectualist. His sarcastic view on life produces amusing scenes. The recklessness with which he plunges into adventures, causes others to frown. As a viewer, you understand this turnaround much better. As a result, Richard finds himself in some fairly bizarre situations in which his wife Veronica (Rosemarie DeWitt), daughter Olivia (Odessa Young) and best friend Peter (Danny Huston) are involved. By the way, I didn't think the acting performance of these last actors was that bad either. Apart from the theatrical drama of Danny Huston.
"The Professor" probably won't appeal to a younger audience. It's not really a movie that will make you happy. I guess it applies to all films that deal with this terrible disease. Yet "The Professor" succeeded in transforming this tragic fact into something humorous. That the end would become more emotional (you could use the expression corny as well) was of course inevitable. Serious films where you are confronted with the concepts of finiteness and death clearly does something with a person. It makes you think about the meaning of life and what you have achieved. And I agree that as I grow older my thoughts sometimes drift away into that area. After seeing this film, I think I will drastically revise my opinion and also take a "Je mon fou" attitude like Richard. So I can fully enjoy everything in the time that's left. That seems a more pleasant way to end my earthly journey.
More reviews here: movie-freak.be
Ad Astra (2019)
A slow-paced drama that wants to be a SF eagerly.
Colonel, for what it means,
I think my father is dead.
I can fully understand that when you haven't heard from a friend who lives a few blocks away for a long time, you get prepped and plan a visit to the person in question. Just like that. Just to find out why he or she hasn't been in touch all this time. And to check whether everything is still alright. In most cases, you're actually not going to experience anything exciting or breathtaking along the way. Now, extrapolate this situation to a much greater distance. From Earth to Neptune, for example. That's an enormously long time that you are on the road. And if you're lucky, you won't come across any life-threatening or perilous situations either. In short, you are on a spaceship, feeling at ease and try to kill some time. Maintaining your ecosystem daily. Going through your huge pile of magazines full of crosswords that need to be solved. Or you give your spaceship a decent scrubbing every week. All sorts of things so as not to get mad out of boredom. I'm afraid that many home viewers will do the same things while watching "Ad Astra".
Claiming that there's really nothing happening in "Ad Astra" is, of course, a bit exaggerated. For example, there are space pirates on the moon targeting the convoy, with Brad Pitt among the travelers. Apparently, building a high-tech space station on the moon is a piece of cake. But a solid defense system to throw naughty space pirates back into the infinite galaxy (far, far away) was apparently too much to ask. Next, there's also a run-in with a crazy primate on a space ship in distress. And the end of the film is also provided with some fragments that are more action-rich. But most of this two-hour-long SF is nevertheless filled with a lot of complaining, staring at an undefined point and moments of self-reflection. To be honest, I'd call it a demonstration of navel-gazing among the stars.
I confess. I expected something completely different. Let me put it this way. I would have preferred "Ad Astra" to be more in the corner of films such as "Interstellar" or "Gravity" (although I wasn't a big fan of the latter). The first is a more scientifically oriented SF about black holes and dimensions and whatnot. While "Gravity" wanted to be the most populistic one. And this by having George Clooney and Sandra Bullock make a round dance in space. I link "Ad Astra" to a movie like "High Life". This was also such a film where the aspect of human psychology and conflict situations between individuals took center stage. And just like the other listed movies, there are some amazing visual highlights in this movie. Those images of space looked impressive on the large silver screen despite their minimalistic character at certain moments. But then again, I wasn't waiting for a story about an intergalactic father-son relationship with all its ups and downs.
The most impressive thing about the film? The acting by Brad Pitt. The way he plays the astronaut Roy McBride is simply stunning. An autistic character whose numbness and phlegmatic nature make him a suitable candidate for carrying out such an expedition. The way he performs the psychological evaluation tests bears witness to total body control and lack of emotions. Roy McBride is a person whose heart rate never exceeds 80 beats per minute. Not even in a life-threatening situation when he tumbles out of the atmosphere. And the way he shows how emotions slowly seep into his system is simply admirable. After "Once upon a time ... in Hollywood" this is also a rendition with which he could receive a well-known award. They also managed to bait star actors such as Liv Tyler, Donald Sutherland, and Tommy Lee Jones. The roles of the first two, however, have little to no impact.
"Ad Astra" is not an epic space story full of sensational space battles or creatively worked out aliens. Apart from some sporadically added action-rich scenes, this is a film full of philosophical musings and impressions of weighty loneliness. I fear that the opinions about "Ad Astra" will be divided. Some will regard it as the most moving film of the year. In general, the Film Press has words of praise for it. So trust me, it's a film that will be loved by the connoisseurs of the "better" film. Others are more likely to call it plain boring. The message about the loss of a parent and the search for that parent is kind of obvious. There's even a theological theme to discern. The result, however, is an end-product that looks long-winded with a denouement which isn't really satisfying. Well, I'm sure that an Oscar nomination will be in place next year. But for me, it remains an honorable mention.
More reviews here: movie-freak.be
Ready or Not (2019)
This gothic horror/comedy was a fun trip.
So, at midnight you have to play a game.
It's just something we do when someone new joins the family.
I have to revise my opinion about the horror/comedy cross-over urgently after seeing "Monster Party" and "The dead don't die" this year. "Ready or not" is yet another film that pleasantly surprised me. Really. I had a great time watching this movie. And not only because the lead actress Samara Weaving looks appetizing, but also because of the entertaining content. I appreciated the morbid black humor as well. It's not such absurd humor as in "The dead don't die". But the slapstick-like events that were used in it, resulted in a spontaneous chuckle sometimes. There were also quite a few bloody scenes in it. In short, it was fun watching this horror flick.
And all because of playing an innocent game of "hide and seek". Grace (Samara Weaving) chose that on her wedding night by pulling a card out of a wooden box. Apparently, the Le Domas family, who made their fortune in the board gaming world, has a recurring family tradition at weddings. So the moment Grace got a wedding ring from Alex Le Domas (Mark O'Brien), her brand new husband, she unknowingly became part of this tradition. So instead of playing a game of hanky-panky and frolicking in the old-fashioned-looking four-poster bed, the wedding couple is requested to go to the family room to play an old-fashioned board game. What Grace doesn't realize is that there's one special card that can have far-reaching consequences for the rest of the evening. Guess what. Yep indeed, she draws the card in question.
It was not only the course of the story I found enormously fascinating and ingenious. Also, the setting where it all took place was beautiful to see. A huge Victorian house, full of dark corners and niches. Such a huge villa that suits a wealthy family like Le Domas perfectly. Full of wood paneling, majestic staircases, and richly decorated corridors. As a child, you could easily get lost there. And that's where the innocent "hide and seek" takes place. At the beginning Grace enthusiastically participates. Until she realizes that nobody from the Le Domas family starts the countdown and starts shouting "Ready or Not, Here I come" (hence the film title). Instead, this insane family has armed itself with old, primitive weapons and starts hunting her.
The most hilarious thing about the film is the family members themselves. All of them are cartoonish, caricatural characters. From the authoritarian somewhat empty-headed paterfamilias Tony (Henry Czerny) and his wife Becky (Andie MacDowell) to the scary-looking, shrewish aunt Helene (Nicky Guadagni). The latter is the most extreme character. She looks as if she's a member of a satanic cult with her purple suit, black nail polish and upright Cruella de Vil hairstyle. And when you see her running through the corridors, screaming frantically and waving with a huge lumberjack's ax, the picture is complete. Add a bunch of other family members to it, such as the alcoholic son Daniel (Adam Brody) and his cheeky wife Charity (Elyse Levesque). The coke-addicted daughter Emilie (Melanie Scrofano) and her cowardly husband Fitch (Kristian Bruun). And of course the butler should not be missing. Together they form a colorful "Adam's Family" -like collective.
Finally something about the horror part. Even though the overall atmosphere is rather lighthearted and caricatural, the hardcore horror fanatic will enjoy certain moments. This gothic horror is filled with a few gory and bloody scenes while maintaining an exciting pace. I found the part in the barn particularly successful and at the same time extremely funny. You see the nail. You see the hole in a hand. And you immediately know how these two facts will be linked. Sublime. And even though you know where it's going, I was surprised by the denouement. A denouement that would make Quentin Tarantino jealous. And I suppose they wanted to show how huge the gap is between rich and poor. In the end, this was just a minor side issue. "Ready or not" is perhaps the cruel version of the Cinderella fairy tale. But ultimate entertainment was the main goal here. And they certainly have succeeded in that for me.
More reviews here: movie-freak.be
Cold Blood Legacy (2019)
Jean Reno couldn't save the film. He saved the girl though.
I had a stand-off with a wolf earlier,
and he has tasted human blood...
Jean Reno. The ever-calm actor is usually associated with roles such as a police detective, a gangster or an assassin. The quiet-looking Frenchman has a specific appearance that fits perfectly with such roles. Strange but true. I have only recently seen the film "Léon: The Professional". Without a doubt the very best that Jean Reno has demonstrated on the silver screen. An experienced assassin who, as a loner, takes care of the little girl Mathilda and teaches her the tricks of the trade. A cult film "avant la lettre". In "Cold Blood Legacy" Jean Reno plays a similar character. A professional and devious person who does his jobs in a well-argued manner. And with that, the most positive thing about this film is said.
"Cold Blood Legacy" is a straight-to-video film, which is already a hint as to what you can expect. Nothing good, I fear. Yes, Henry (Jean Reno) radiates authority and calmness. He carefully weighs each word he's going to say. And he reads philosophical books thoroughly such as "The Art of War". He also knows enough about injuries and how to treat them. And finally, he seems to be skilled in survival techniques. Survival techniques that are necessary when you live at an isolated winter spot far from civilization and surrounded by unapproachable nature. In short, it's once again a pleasure to see Jean Reno at work.
Unfortunately, Reno's brilliant acting isn't enough to make this film a success. The rest is abominably bad, to say the least. Not only is the story itself terribly boring and not interesting. Some interpretations are also ridiculously bad. The two police detectives Kappa (Joe Anderson) and Davies (Ihor Ciszkewycz) in particular, probably will win the Challenge Cup for "Most lousy characters". Although this is more due to the script than the qualities of the actors themselves. David Gyasi's character is also open to criticism. The purpose of his role in this film remained a mystery to me. But it's primarily the story where it's going wrong. It all isn't really clear. And above all, it seems as if it's a combination of storylines and impressions that have been crammed into one story in a confusing way.
Still some positive comments. Sarah Lind's acting is convincing enough, even though she does that almost the entire film from a horizontal position. The interaction between her and Henry sometimes makes the film fascinating to watch. A psychological joust between two strangers with their own secrets. And as I said before, Henry proves that he's an expert in the medical field. And apparently he's an expert in the field of torture techniques as well. Furthermore, the film is peppered with beautiful nature images of this winter landscape. A wooden cabin surrounded by snowy peaks, pine trees and an immensely frozen lake. However, don't expect any tension or gripping action scenes. The film is simply lifeless and boring. And at the end of the film, everything still remained unclear and blurry. The fact that I didn't remember the next day what it was about, was a logical consequence. Hopefully, Jean Reno will shine again in a solid action thriller somewhere in the future.
The Prodigy (2019)
Finally, once again a decent horror.
You took my son's soul...
you can't have his body
Murderous children or those possessed by dark forces appear in horror movies on a regularly base. Sometimes it's a diabolical power that possesses them. Damien from "The Omen" and Regan in "The Exorcist" are good examples. Or it's the mental condition that turns lovely little boys into horrible little monsters like Luke in "Better watch out" and Chavs in "Eden Lake". In "The Prodigy" Miles develops a deviant behavior pattern as he gets older. This cuddly little boy appears to have a dual personality. One moment he snuggles into his mother's arms. The next moment he looks at her demonically. Such an evil look that gives you goosebumps instantly. Verily, there's something wrong with these Miles (Jackson Robert Scott).
To be honest I was pleasantly surprised by "The Prodigy". Admittedly, it's not very original and the film makes good use of all known tricks from the horror genre. Yet this film managed to make me feel uncomfortable. And I even felt a slight form of tension. And that was mainly achieved by the acting of the young Jackson Robert Scott. A little guy who's years ahead of other kids in terms of intelligence. But when his use of language during his sleep (in a Hungarian dialect) takes on a fairly mature tone and he tackles fellow students with a heavy wrench, a sense of suspicion begins to increase on his mother Sarah (Taylor Schilling). The result is an adult psychological game that unfolds between mother and son.
Jef Buhler (scriptwriter of, among others, "Pet Sematary", "Jacob's Ladder" and next year's film "The Grudge") takes his time here and slowly builds up the tension. Hence the slow pace at the start of the film. Which for once I didn't experience as disturbing. It's only when spiritualist Arthur Jacobson (Colm Feore) is introduced that the pace goes up. Here it also becomes clear what the opening scene has to do with this sweet-looking youngster who's troubled by behavioral problems. Fragments of a psychopath shot down by a special unit and the birth of Miles are being linked to each other. And then the term reincarnation comes up. An explanation that suddenly makes everything clearer. Unfortunately, the motivation why this all happens is easy to guess.
"The Prodigy" is an easily digestible and entertaining horror, despite the predictability and a not so ingeniously put together story. The acting work of Jackson Robert Scott and Taylor Schilling makes up for a lot. Expect some excitement, some jump scares and for some perhaps a surprising denouement. In recent years, a few films have been released with bombastic statements claiming to be the "Scariest horror in years" or "More frightening than The Exorcist". "The Prodigy" surpasses them all. Without magniloquent slogans. Ergo, highly recommended.
More reviews here: movie-freak.be
Is there a movie Cage isn't acting in?
I just spent ten months in the jungle,
and this all smells like cat crapto me.
Films where animals mess with the protagonists' life. There are a lot of those movies. Only recently you could see in "Crawl" how alligators tried to outwit a father and daughter with their immense mouths full of razor-sharp, meat-tearing teeth. In "A quiet place" there were creatures with such a developed hearing that they can locate any human sound and quickly go there to tear the source of the noise to pieces. Birds, dogs, cats, crocodiles, tarantulas, grizzly bears, monkeys, ants, snakes, and sharks. An entire segment of the animal kingdom has already been used. This movie "Primal" immediately reminded me of a movie I saw years ago. Namely "Burning Bright". In this last film, too, it was a tiger chasing two innocent people. Only it took place in a kind of Pippi-Longstocking-house. In "Primal", on the other hand, it's a cargo ship that serves as a hunting ground. And Nicolas Cage is also present. Maybe that's why it's worthwhile to give this film a chance.
Nicolas Cage. Man, I admire this actor enormously. He's a phenomenon. I'm sure he's aiming to reach a specific goal in his life. And that's being able to announce on his deathbed that he broke the world record of "Actor with most appearances in feature films". The man (known for his phenomenal roles in "Leaving Las Vegas" and "Joe") did his utmost best in recent years. Every year he appeared in no fewer than six films. Of course, they aren't all masterpieces. But La Cage seems to have an enormous endurance. I think he accepts every offer he gets. Apparently, his love for acting is infinite.
The crucial question you can ask yourself is of course: "Is this movie worth watching or is it completely rubbish?". Well, the truth is actually somewhere in the middle. When Frank Walsh (Nicolas Cage) embarks on board a container ship, together with a whole load of exotic animals, he soon notices that he's not the only one with a unique, life-threatening specimen. Frank earns his living by catching exotic animals, which he then resells to the highest bidder. And the white jaguar ("white jag" as Frank repeatedly pronounces) is a lottery ticket for him. A million to one shot and the guarantee he'll own some real estate in Pine Lake. And suddenly the American authorities show up with a highly dangerous mercenary (Kevin Durand) in chains, a battalion of soldiers armed to the teeth and a personal female doctor (Famke Janssen) to ensure that the mercenary survives the trip. It has something to do with a brain abnormality and atmospheric pressure. A side issue afterward. You can already guess what's going to happen. Soon Frank realizes he has to use his hunting instincts to hunt both the white jaguar and the perilous Richard Loffler.
The film never really gets exciting. It looks more like a long version of playing "hide and seek". The accompanying soldiers are systematically liquidated easily. That kind of looked ridiculous. Also, after a certain period, Dr. Ellen Taylor no longer had a real function. Famke Janssen restricts herself to some annoying protests about catching endangered species. She looks like a feministic environmental activist, who's about to pull up a protest sign with slogans about animal rights. Even the jaguar only managed to convince in the opening scene. Afterward, the jaguar was nothing more than a sneaking shadow. Only the two characters Cage and Durand played, caused some excitement. Kevin Durand managed to play a psychopathic character convincingly. And Cage visibly had fun here. And to be honest, compared to "A score to settle", "Kill Chain", and "Running with the devil" (I shamelessly fell asleep while watching this last one), this Cage-B-film isn't that bad. Are you a Nicolas Cage fan? Well, you can safely add it to your list of "Must See Cage-Movie".
More reviews here: movie-freak.be
Child's Play (2019)
A more modern version of the original.
What's your name?
It seems like a lifetime ago since I saw the original film with the demonic pop Chucky dangerously swinging around with a razor-sharp butcher knife. Well, It's not a hundred years, but thirty years is a long time as well. That's how long it's been since I went to get the VHS of this movie in the local video store. Apparently several sequels have been made after the initial release. Somehow I've missed that. Me and sequels. It remains an eternal struggle. Because there wasn't anything better to choose from and I had nothing to do, I still took the risk and watched this modern version. Apart from the fact that the doll looks slightly different, has been given a different name and the reason for its malicious behavior has changed slightly, it was exactly as if I went back in time. "Child's Play" has the same 80s horror mood.
But first of all a big compliment to the makers of this pimped version. Most reboots or remakes just seem like a duplicate of the original. Here they really deviate from the original story. It's not the soul of a serial killer that transforms the doll into a bloodthirsty, diabolical murderous toy. Here it's an aggrieved and irritated Chinese factory worker who starts to mess with the security software out of revenge. To be honest, I felt like giving up at that moment. A ragged and clearly unkempt Chinese guy reprogramming the source software was, in my eyes, completely absurd and exaggerated. Fortunately, I persisted. Because all in all "Child's Play" wasn't so bad.
What disappointed me a bit, was the doll itself. Especially the transformation from good to evil. In the original film, Chucky did get a diabolical and cruel expression. In this movie, they wanted to achieve the same effect by providing Buddi (as this child-friendly babysitter is now called) with red-glowing eyes. Well, it wasn't really scary. And to be honest, this film isn't creepy at all. I thought it was rather entertaining horror material, suitable for the novice horror enthusiast. Don't expect any nasty-looking killings either. You'll see clichéd situations where circular saws and a lawnmower (or something like that) are used in. The favorite murder instruments from the 80s.
The acting was generally acceptable. Only Aubrey Plaza as Andy's mother wasn't really convincing. To be honest, she seemed to be the sister of Andy (Gabriel Bateman), the introverted boy with a hearing problem. David Lewis played the most annoying character. That means you can say that his acting was successful. The most light-hearted and comical part was provided by Brian Tyree Henry as police officer Mike, who lives with his mother. It's not only the mother-son correlation that sometimes causes hilarious moments. There are also slapstick-like scenes, such as the gift-wrapped item (Well, I try to stay vague about this) that falls into the hands of Mike's mother by mistake. Most surprising in this film was the fact that Mark Hamill (Yes, Luke Skywalker himself) was responsible for Chucky's dialogues.
In the end, this was a creditable attempt to breathe new life into the Chucky franchise. This modernized version is not an epic film but is anything but bad. It even tries to portray a failing A.I. and point out the dangers of a robotic society. And actually, what Chucky is doing, is simply the result of a learning process that he undergoes in the company of Andy. If the latter makes a remark that he would rather get rid of the cat Mickey Rooney, you already know the verdict. In the end, Chucky is nothing more than an electronic gadget that ignores the robotics laws of Asimov. It's not really impressive or exciting at all. But "Child's Play" was a nice time-killer.
More reviews here: movie-freak.be
A true masterpiece. Phenomenal Phoenix.
I just hope my death makes
more cents than my life.
Weltschmerz. Despair. Grief. Desperation. Those are the keywords that came to mind after watching this movie. If you are a superhero film fan and you expect heroic confrontations between this crazy clown and our bats-related superhero in a tight latex suit, you can safely turn around and skip this film. The interpretation of "The Joker" by Jack Nicholson was masterful. He played a mean Joker who was obsessed with money and power. But without a doubt, Heath Ledger's interpretation is the most legendary. He played Joker's insanity and psychopathic behavior in an unparalleled way. An outstanding acting performance. What Joaquin Phoenix does in this film, however, is breathtaking and brilliant at the same time. After "You were never really here" I thought Phoenix belonged to the leading group of excellent actors. After "Joker", for me anyway, he's already the front-runner in that group.
I am not easily impressed by a movie. But "Joker" made an immense impression on me. And not because of the violence. By the way, I found the reports of people leaving the cinema prematurely, because it became too intense, grossly exaggerated. Every average action movie today is filled with aggressive scenes full of senseless violence. I was more overwhelmed by a constant uncomfortable feeling while watching this film. A feeling of pity and vicarious shame. For Arthur Fleck, as well as for the fellow citizens he meets in his daily life. For me, the saddest scene was the stand-up comedy moment. You know Arthur's performance will be completely ridiculous and that his would-be funny performance will backfire in his face. The most significant scene was the one with the over-concerned mother in the subway who shouts at Arthur and tells him to stop intimidating her child. After his hysterical laughing, she turns her back on him anxiously. Pitiful. Confronting. Enough incentive to derail the psyché of this disturbed soul.
Joaquin Phoenix is phenomenal. Not only is he extremely psychologically vulnerable. Also physically he looks emaciated and fragile. Little more than skin and bone. It looked as if his rib cage would burst out of his body. And his shoulder blades could be ripping through his skin at any time. Skin like yellow parchment full of cracks. Just like his by antidepressants ravaged morbid mind. Antidepressants that are needed to control his uncontrollable laughter and help him through his measly existence. A hopeless life without understanding and loving feelings. Except toward his mother (Frances Conroy). An old woman who sits all day in her seat. Demented. Fading away. With a daily routine of writing letters to Thomas Wayne (Brett Cullen), father of Bruce Wayne and future mayor of Gotham, asking if he could help them.
"Joker" is not a relaxing film. It's depressing to see how such an individual is harassed and spit out by society. Not a day goes by without being scorned, physically abused or treated as a leprosy patient. This downward spiral he's getting into creates an explosive moment in which he takes matters into his own hands, resulting in a disastrous outcome. The discharge that follows afterward, has been portrayed both frighteningly and magically. That unreal and silly dance in the public toilet is probably a moment of realization that his life is at a tipping point. And without realizing it, he becomes the symbolic force behind a movement against injustices in society. A sort of evil, insane Katniss Everdeen for the outcasts. And although many don't like to hear this, the number of similarities with our current society is alarmingly high.
Yes, "Joker" is a sort of origin story of Batman's most infamous archenemy. On the other hand, this could be the portrait of so many others as well. Everyday people who struggle with their personality and fall through the cracks and out of the system at all levels. Individuals who are often driven into a corner and cultivate a destructive hatred toward everything and everyone. And then there's a day their fuse blows and they resort to actions that aren't tolerated by modern society. Not that I approve of these actions but I think it's kind of logical consequence. "Joker" is not part of a superhero universe. This film is more realistic than any psycho-dramatic film. A film that shows how an underdog grows into a monstrous tormentor who preaches chaos and destruction. A numb, sick mind that doesn't care. The harder you pound him, the louder his laugh. The movie "Joker" helped me understand who that figure is and where he comes from. For me the most impressive film out of the superheroes potpourri that we've seen these few last years. And for my part, a well-deserved Oscar statuette for Joaquin Phoenix. He'll certainly be laughing about it uncontrollably the evening of the award ceremony.
More reviews here: movie-freak.be
Let It Snow (2019)
Help! I watched a real corny chick-flick. Is there still hope for me?
Snow can make a difference!
Especially on Christmas Eve.
And sometimes it's not just the eve of Christmas,
it's the eve of everything,
of the rest of your life.
Christmas. The period everyone is jolly again. Family reunions. A brown-baked turkey with a tasty filling that was squeezed through its smallest hole. Christmas trees full of sparkling baubles, angel hair and soft-yellow LED lights. Every few moments a Christmas song is being heard on the radio. Christmas presents are piling up. And everyone hopes that on this Christian holiday the sky will be filled with pregnant snow clouds that'll cover the surface of the earth with a soft, downy snow carpet. Sigh, I'm getting lyrical. Unfortunately, this isn't the case everywhere. If you have a moderate maritime climate, such as in Belgium, it'll be drizzly and autumnal. And an additional phenomenon during these holidays is the broadcasting of well-known Christmas movies. And yes, on Twitter the annually recurring question "What's the ultimate Christmas film?", appears again. Unfortunately, "Let it snow" won't be mentioned often, I guess.
If, like me, you dislike "Love actually", I would definitely advise you to avoid this youthly version. "Love actually" is a typical film that is shown on different television channels during the Christmas season. Perhaps the film adds that extra magic for some of us, during these winter holidays. For me, it causes an extreme form of explosive diarrhea every time I see the grin of Hugh Grant on the screen. And "Let it snow" uses the same concept as "Love actually". An entanglement of different storylines that come together in an ecstatic crescendo. Only now, the protagonists are all teenagers. Each with their own love-life-related-issues. Understandable because the film is based on the eponymous popular winter book, in which three authors bring a short story.
Unfortunately, after a few minutes, I realized that I'm not really part of the target audience. Not that I was bored to death. The stories eventually follow the pattern of a trillion other rom-com stories. They all walk the famous proverbial path of love, full of pitfalls, stumbling blocks, and obstacles. And at the finish, everything is peaches and cream. And peace and light. The feeling of love rises by a few degrees Celsius. In short, it's as predictable as a story from Vicky the Viking. An ultimate feel-good film so teenage girls will sigh and moan empathetically while they watch at the screen with big cow eyes and see those romantic couples hugging each other. Well, my teenage period is far behind me. Hence the "Not being part of the target audience" feeling.
The most positive in this film are the participating actors. I didn't know them all, because I'm not a fan of the Netflix series. Only Julie (Isabela Merced) I recognized immediately (Yes, I recently watched "Dora and the Lost City of Gold" with my two kids). She happens to have the most beautiful and convincing role. The way in which she presents responsible Julie is admirable. It's the most endearing and sad part of the entire film. I even appreciated the pop idol Stuart (Shameik Moore). He fits wonderfully with the lovely, cuddly Julie. He's a lonely, fame-ridden singer who spends Christmas all alone in a hotel room. Ultra sad. Even though he will wallow in all the luxury that he can afford. I also thought the role of Tobin (For me, the unknown Mitchell Hope) was successful. But only because of his humor and timid attitude that fitted perfectly in this syrupy film. And here too, they found the perfect companion in the form of The Duke (Kiernan "The Silence" Shipka). The funniest character was that of Jacob "Spider-man: Homecoming & Far from home" Batalon as the hyperkinetic Keon.
Add a lesbian girl with love troubles and her girlfriend who doesn't have her best day, and you have all the cliché types that a movie like "Let it snow" needs. After that, let everyone wrestle the whole movie with his or her emotions and finally knit a happy ending to it. It's not my taste, but who am I to complain about that. After all, it's a Christmas movie. And shouldn't a Christmas film be about happiness and love? Even though the corniness drips from it and it is so sugar-sweet that a spontaneous stomach cramp comes up. I want romantic souls to have it. So couples of this earth, unite and go and watch this film en masse. Oh well, next Movie!
More reviews here: movie-freak.be
The Boonies (2017)
It had its charms. And flaws. Cleavage is the word that pops up most.
"The Boonies". You would think it's a parody of "The Goonies". Partially it is. Here it's also about a hidden treasure (a briefcase with $ 1,164,000) which Doug (Calum Worthy) has hidden somewhere at "Boone High School". A kind of quest devised by him after he died in a terrible way. Killed by bullying fellow students? Or was it someone of his childhood friends? Primary school friends who dropped him like a rock because they became more popular, while Doug was given the status of "nerd". In any case, this smart, acne-plagued adolescent has come up with a clever plan. An assignment that is sent en masse to all students of "Boone High School". And of course to "The Boonies" who for once need to put aside their prejudices and disputes and jointly carry out tasks to get hold of the money.
To be honest, the treasure hunt is a side issue. "The Boonies" is about lost friendships and how the school community changes you as an individual. As 10-year-olds Doug, Teddy (Cody Ko), Chuck (Kyle Jones), Holly (Andi Matichak), Stephanie (Lauren Elizabeth) and Elektra (Amymarie Gaertner) were the best buddies. Inseparable friends who founded a club with the original sounding name (sarcastic intonation) "The Boonies". Now, after many years, they have grown apart and there is an atmosphere of resentment and envy hanging between them. Doug's wet dream is to bring "The Boonies" together once more and to revive the lost friendship.
The five friends are classic examples of the archetypes that are used over and over again when it's a High-School movie. Stephanie is the "b*tch" of the gang who has a big mouth and wears tight, white hotpants with matching cowboy boots. Such a high-class bimbo who hates everything and everyone. Holly is the brainiac whose cup size probably equals her IQ and whose dramatic outbursts seriously got on my nerves. Teddy is a popular, cool guy. Chuck is the stupid jock who walks around with a giant Stetson all the time. To my surprise, I noticed also that he has a beer belly. Of course, there's a Goth chick among them as well. And as I mentioned earlier, Doug is the nerd. A dead nerd.
I can be brief and concise about the acting. It felt amateurish and terribly forced at certain moments. But all in all, it was quite funny sometimes. Of course, these well-known American school types are portrayed in a terribly exaggerated way. And they were simply annoying at times. Especially Stephanie's constant bickering started to bore after a while. And Holly managed to demand the most attention, every time her bobbling boobs came into view. I have to admit I can't remember much of her dialogues. The gigantic crack of her cleavage, however, is burned into my retinas. So just expect a lot of flat and sexually charged humor. But in some bizarre way, I started to like Chuck's figure a lot. His immense stupidity and grotesque way of proving his masculinity did work on my laughing muscles. So for me, this Texan dumbnut was the most successful character.
"The Boonies" is not a high-quality movie. It was as if I was looking at an assignment made by final year students from the Faculty of Art. Or that I was watching a play performed by students at the annual school party. Especially when several actors were grouping together, it seemed rather artificial and everyone was looking a little awkward. Humor also fails in certain areas and appears to be terribly outdated. So if you enjoy watching an old-fashioned "food fight", you definitely should try this movie. And God, that school food looked disgusting. All in all, it's a movie I certainly wouldn't recommend to others. It has its charms and good moments. But the fact that 2017 is the release year on IMDb, already raises questions. Did they put this project on hold for years? Or was there some doubt about releasing this film? I have no idea.
Not an exciting movie for me. And certainly not horror.
Let me first make a comment before I start spitting my opinion about "Sweetheart". How the hell did this kid succeed in reaching the beach of this exotic island? I'm sure that after a few minutes of floating around in the ocean, she'd go down like a stone. That's not entirely true, of course. Because, when I remember correctly, she was wearing a life jacket (with a backpack over it). I just wanted to point out that she had the most disastrous-looking swimming technique I've ever seen in my life. And the fact that not all tropical islands were used in commercials about "Bounty", but are also the territory of evil, dark creatures from the ocean. And since shipwrecks don't wash up on this island regularly, the creature was presumably on a fish diet before it could drag some human meat to his hole in the ocean once again. But this aside. "Sweetheart" is a fairly simple story about surviving.
Take the well-known story of "Robinson Crusoe" and mix it with the story from "Cold Skin" and you'll get "Sweetheart" as a result. The difference with the Crusoe story is the key player. Here it's someone of the female gender who's being washed ashore on a beach. And also, she isn't joined by a friendly native (such as Friday) but a scaly and life-threatening sea monster. And no, this ocean dweller doesn't have the same amorous intentions as our gilled friend from "The shape of water". In that case, the film would have gotten a more frivolous character and our survivor's stay would have been much more enjoyable.
Unfortunately, this film doesn't have much to offer. Actually, as much as Jenn (Kiersey Clemons) was wearing when she woke up there in the saltwater, feeling beach sand scraping between her toes. Nothing much. Only short jeans and a t-shirt. Fortunately, her knowledge of survival techniques was abundantly present. Without hesitation, this young lady runs through the checklist of the "Tasks to be performed when you wash up on an uninhabited island" list and starts installing herself on the island as well and as badly as possible. The first part is, therefore, a concatenation of moments where you can see Jenn handling these tasks. Estimating the perimeter of the island, developing hunting techniques, ensure a decent place to spend the night and thoroughly explore the island itself. Only the nocturnal threat was not on the list. Something for which she has to use her own personal inventiveness.
Most of the film consists of Clemons doing a solo performance. The success or failure of such kinds of films (as in "Mine" for example) is therefore entirely in the hands of that specific person. Should her acting be bad or unbelievable, the film will suffer a figurative shipwreck (how appropriate). Fortunately, that's not the case here. She acts solidly and is convincing enough. The panic and subsequent calmness seem realistic enough. Eloquence isn't necessary here either. Most of the time the film is dialogue-free. Well, it's hard to have in-depth conversations when you're on an island on your own. And when an inflatable rescue boat appears on the horizon, with Jenn's friends on board, it briefly creates some tension. Not for you as a viewer but for the participating actors themselves.
What remains is the aquatic creature. Yes, could this monster ensure some tense moments? Unfortunately, the creature is allergic to sunlight. In short, it's only in pitch darkness (and an uninhabited island without artificial lighting is simply pitch dark) that you can see this rogue (partially). There are nevertheless some successful scenes in the film in which it shows how supreme it is in water. But except for a little growling and hissing, the monster is a bit disappointing. All in all, I didn't think it was an exciting movie. Since it's an exotic island, the film is peppered with breathtaking images of beaches and azure blue water. And isn't that something an average earner can only dream of?
More reviews here: movie-freak.be
Lucky Day (2019)
Fan of "Pulp Fiction"? This is the light version.
Purpose for coming to the United States, Mr. Chaltiel?
Uh... Business... Pleasure...
Well, which one is it?
A little bit of both. I take pleasure in my business.
These days it's kind of hype to create reboots or remakes of films from a bygone era. Even though I hate this kind of filmmaking and I see it as easy money, I got enthusiastic about "Lucky Day". It's not a reboot or a remake in the strict sense of the word. But the similarities with "Pulp Fiction" are so obvious, I automatically call it the ultimate reboot for this legendary 90s movie. And if there's one person who could do the job without any problems, it would be Roger Avary, co-writer of "Pulp Fiction". The only thing you could ask yourself is: "Who was waiting for this?".
The whole movie is about Red (Luke Bracey), a safecracker, who leaves prison after 2 years and returns to his French-speaking wife Chloe (Nina Dobrev) and cuddly daughter Beatrice (Ella Ryan Quinn). He's determined not to return to his criminal life. He just has a little rainy-day stash hidden away somewhere. The news of his release, however, also reached someone else. None other than Luc Chaltiel (Crispin Glover) personally flew over from France to take revenge on Red. Luc's brother got killed during a robbery that went completely awry. And Red was part of the gang.
This movie has "Pulp Fiction" written all over it. It's a cocktail of various facets that were so characteristic of this milestone in Tarantino's oeuvre. Chloe's hair itself looks like a copy of that from Uma Thurman's. And there is also the overall atmosphere with a matching soundtrack and a mixture of absurd, cartoonish supporting characters. But it's mainly about extreme violence and bloody scenes. So expect some like-watermelons-exploding heads and slashed throats. And all this is bathed in black, sometimes vulgar, humor. Crispin Glover as a car thief, who drives his car twice over the victim. His explosive confrontation with a police patrol. The absurd gunfight in the bar. The psychopathic way in which he causes a bloodbath during an art exhibition. Perhaps it's not so impressive these days since we are overwhelmed with films full of extreme hard violence. But it still was enjoyable.
Without a doubt, Crispin Glover's character is the most eye-catching part of this film. You always wanted to know how the weird and silly George McFly (Yep, father of Marty McFly in "Back to the Future") would look like as a ruthless, brutal, psychopathic assassin with a heavy French accent? Well, this is your chance. Crispin Glover brilliantly parodies this. Maybe slightly exaggerated, but still extremely great. And extremely violent. For many, the French accent will be annoying. Yes, it might be even slightly offensive towards our French fellow men. To me, it felt like a theatrical parody. I read somewhere that you could compare him with Pepé Le Pew. But in the end, this extremely exaggerated accent suited his exorbitant attitude as the well-dressed, capricious murderer who's looking for revenge.
"Lucky Day" has more of those absurd characters in store. For instance, Tomer Sisley as the eccentric bartender with a Hitler mustache. An over the top absurd role. Or the foul-mouthed probation officer Ernesto Sanchez (Clifton Collins Jr.). Compared to these characters, Red and Chloe can be called normal. Even though Chloe is rather eccentric when looking at her artworks. Art inspired by prison walls.
For me "Lucky Day" certainly wasn't a boring movie. It was the perfect material to fill up free leisure time. The comparison with "Pulp Fiction" is made quickly. But admittedly it can't match this brilliant film. For that, it lacks panache and originality. The brilliant renditions of Travolta, Jackson, and Thurman are of course matchless. And on a narrative level, "Lucky Day" must of course also recognize its superior. The harsh and relentless style full of violence, bloody brutality, and vulgar language certainly was highly present. But we were able to experience that already 25 years ago. It seems as if time stood still for Avary. Just like I still love music from the 80s. But hey, there's nothing wrong with that. Not?
More reviews here: movie-freak.be
The Curse of la Llorona (2019)
A standard horror film without too many terrifying moments.
You used him as bait?
No. I used you all as bait.
When I visited Eurodisney near Paris for the first time years ago (it seems like centuries ago), I was so overwhelmed and enchanted by the atmosphere and everything there was to admire. I literally hovered through this park for three days and had the time of my life. At the beginning of this year, I visited the park again (this time with my two young kids) and it was 3 days of fun again. However, it was far from the same as that first time. If you have been somewhere six times you know what to expect and you are no longer so impressed by it. The same applies to this film "The curse of La Llorona". A horror movie that is part of the "The Conjuring" universe.
The entity La Llorona in itself is fairly well developed. But you could also say that about the evil nun that scared you in "The Nun". I saw the latter at the beginning of this year and to be honest I found it rather disappointing. After two "The Conjuring" films, several "Annabelle" films and "The Nun" it starts to look like mass production. Now, it's a golden rule that globally well-known brands always do the same thing. And that's not to deviate from its formula for success. It ensures that people aren't disappointed because they know the product very well. But with a product such as horror films, this can also lead to a worn-out formula. A worn off formula in such a way that it becomes boring and far from scary. And that's exactly what you need in a horror. Creepy moments so that fear grabs you by the throat.
Not that I've ever experienced a feeling of fear while watching a horror. But this looked weak. I was looking at it as if I was watching the umpteenth repeat of "America got Talent". Uninterested and numb. The La Llorona phenomenon isn't remarkable. After a while, you come to know that it's about a woman who drowned her children in a moment of madness and afterward killed herself. The legend grew into a sort of parenting trick that was used to teach children some discipline. I can already imagine how old grandmothers admonish their grandchildren with a standard sentence such as "If you don't behave, La Llorona comes to get you." Terrifying for the children. Not so impressive for an adult.
"The Curse of La Llorona" is full of jumpscares. That in itself isn't a problem. At least when they are presented decently and preferably also in an original way. The jumpscares here, however, are so clichéd that you already know in advance where they will be used. The most intense and successful scene is the bathtub scene. Claustrophobic and effectively put together. It reminded me of "The Drownsman" (even though you can't call that movie excellent). And maybe the involvement of Rafael Olvera (Raymond Cruz) can be called original. He's not an average exorcist like the Warren couple in "The Conjuring". I tend to think of him as more of a medicine man who performs voodoo-like rituals and lavishly sprinkles tree seeds and puts down a whole bunch of candles, just to stop La Llorona. To be honest I thought it was pretty funny. The moment when Olvera picks up his samba balls. And certainly his bone-dry reply in the end.
No, you can't call this film successful. "The Nun" wasn't that great, but I still place it above this film if I had to arrange them in a list. Perhaps it's an interesting film for newbies to start with the horror genre. As a warm-up to discover the better stuff, as it were. For the seasoned horror film fan, it's more likely to be a disappointment. So, I kinda have my doubts about the upcoming episodes from the "The Conjuring" Universum.
More reviews here: movie-freak.be
Adopt a Highway (2019)
A melancholic and endearing film.
When you commit a third violent crime,
you will be put away and put away for good.
Three strikes and you are out.
Every now and then you come across such an unknown, idiosyncratic film, which was probably made with a modest budget and for which no huge marketing budgets have been made available. A film you don't really expect too much from. That's "Adopt a Highway". It's not a cheerful or action-rich film. I really expected a depressing drama. And even though there's a moving moral in it, you can say there's also another hidden message in this film. A message of hope, compassion, and modesty.
The introduction shows how Russell Millings (Ethan Hawke) leaves prison after being imprisoned for 21 years. Reluctantly. Somewhat anxious and timid. A man who's alienated from society and who struggles to keep up with the contemporary pace. Someone who has never used a mobile phone, the internet or e-mail. And all thanks to a short-sighted policy in which someone is sentenced to a heavy sentence when he gets involved in something for the third time. No matter how small the criminal offense is. The so-called "three strikes" legislation. In Russell's case, it is about owning a few grams of marijuana in the state of California. Something that has become virtually legal after those 21 years. An unreasonable punishment that ensured that he wasn't given the opportunity to develop into a decent citizen.
Ethan Hawke probably demonstrates his best acting performance here. The way he plays Russell is simply breathtaking. He's in the spotlight almost constantly. And his clumsy way of conversing and interacting with others is simply sad and pitiful. It's not clear whether Russell used to be mentally deficient from a young age already or if he got numb from the years of imprisonment. In any case, he's treated by the official authorities as insignificant and is left to himself a bit. He tries to live an honest life and tries to avoid following the wrong path again. A simple life where he earns a living as a dishwasher in a fast-food chain and sleeps in a motel. Until he discovers the adorable Ella (Savannah Sucher) in a garbage container.
Even though from the outset he realizes that it's almost impossible for him to take care of a baby, he still hesitates to hand over the lovely baby to the authorities. What follows are touching moments that he experiences with the few-month-old Ella. His ignorance about taking care of a baby and the sense of responsibility that he suddenly experiences, take away the attention of the depressing life that he led until then. Even though Ella's discovery brings a turning point in Russell's life, this wasn't the central theme for me. This helpless and innocent little girl shows gratitude in a spontaneous way. No disinterest, impatience or incomprehension as adults treat him. The most emotional scene is the one on the beach where Russell tells a part of his life story.
"Adopt a Highway" is a melancholic and endearing film that will touch a sensitive nerve with many viewers. Well, in my case it did. Some will call it a corny ending. I thought it was a logical conclusion. An example of humanity. It's also a film about getting a second chance in life. I was surprised by the Blumhouse logo and I already assumed that this would be a very sinister movie. That's certainly not the case. The explanation for the Blumhouse connection lies with the director Logan Marshall-Green who appeared last year in the Blumhouse production "Upgrade". "Adopt a Highway" is, therefore, his debut as a director. And as far as I'm concerned he can certainly direct such a gem again. I'm ready for it.
A ghost-story? Wait for the denouement.
Do you know what happened to the boy who asked too many questions?
He got answers?
"Eli" is a horror you can watch on Netflix and it's not bad at all. But it takes a long time before the conclusion in the story surprises you completely. The introductory part reminded me a bit of "Midnight Special". A very young boy whose daily life is limited to a plastic-insulated room and who can't leave the house without wearing a weird looking sort of spacesuit. Apparently Eli (Charlie Shotwell) developed an autoimmune disease at a later age and exposure to outside air and sunlight is life-threatening to him. Together with his parents, Rose (Kelly "10X10" Reilly) and Paul (Max "Spectral" Martini), he's on his way to the only rescue that remains for him. A completely sterilized old mansion (a house that looks like a typical haunted house) where Dr. Horn (Lili Taylor) applies a specific gene therapy to treat medical cases such as Eli.
After this medically oriented introduction, the focus shifts to the paranormal. Before you realize it, clichéd ghost phenomena are brought out. So the whole shebang you encounter in standard ghost stories, also appear here. From seeing ghosts in a mirror. To writings appearing in Eli's breath on a window. Although these are standard horror-film tricks, they are effectively used to startle you. But despite that, it's a long wait for the most important turn in the story at the end of the film. And this story-turn makes it a completely different story. At that moment you realize that all your guessing was completely wrong. So it's recommended to watch the film as a whole, so you get an answer to all the questions you asked yourself.
Perhaps the strongest aspect of "Eli", is its mysterious character. What kind of treatment is it that Dr. Horn is practicing? Because you'll see that it's not such a conventional treatment. It's a rather painful procedure whereby a virus is injected into the spinal cord to repair the failing genes. And who are the ghosts tormenting him? Are they good-natured? Or malicious? That's something Eli is trying to discover for himself while locked up in this sterile cage. His parents and the medical staff blame the medication for these sightings and dismiss it as hallucinations. The only one who believes Eli is Haley (Sadie Sink), a local girl with whom Eli sometimes talks through a huge window. Where Haley comes from and what she does there is again a mystery. As time passes, the whole thing sounds a bit fishy to Eli.
As I said before: "Wait for the ultimate revelation". Until then you have to endure a typical ghost story without too many highlights. Some praiseworthy words about Charlie Shotwell's acting. For such a young guy it's not so obvious to use a whole range of emotions. But to be honest, he convincingly did it. The other characters' contribution is fairly limited. Max Martini plays the determined father. Lili Taylor the mysterious doctor. And Kelly Reilly is no more than the worried mother who wants to hug her son again. It's not Reilly's most breathtaking acting performance. That's reserved for her role in "Eden Lake". All in all, "Eli" is not immediately an exciting film. But it's not extremely bad either. The only thing is, that it requires some patience. So waiting for the end is the message. And that's the last time I'm going to say that!
This quote I found grossly exaggerated: "New Netflix horror movie Eli is terrifying viewers to such an extent that some have claimed to be "seeing demons" after watching."
You can watch "Eli" on Netflix now!
Little Monsters (2019)
I can't help it but this zom-com really irritated me.
Can we play the shooty game,Uncle David?
I don't want us to get in trouble, Felix.
We'll have to play it with the sound off.
Well, there's always the award "Disappointment of the year". I'm afraid this year the film "Little Monsters" will take the credits for this. I had regained confidence in the combination of horror and comedy after watching "Monster Party" and "The dead don't die". I've always had a problem with it when moviemakers mix these two genres. But these last two films managed to rekindle my enthusiasm. Well, "Little Monsters" has nipped that enthusiasm in the bud. There were some highlights in this zombie movie. But overall, I was plagued by a yawning attack and I was constantly annoyed about certain situations.
I do understand that all kinds of new perspectives have to be devised nowadays to make the zombie genre even more interesting. In "The dead don't die" they largely succeeded in that. But that's personal taste. Coincidentally this film used the type of humor that I like the most. In "Little Monsters" the humor was generally absent. The absurdist tone of "The dead don't die" was traded for flat and childish humor. Believe me, the amount of irritation exceeded the allowable level several times. After 2 minutes I was already annoyed by the opening scene where Dave (Alexander England) and his girlfriend constantly yelled at each other. Just like their friends, I felt ashamed on their behalf. And that wasn't the only time while watching this film.
First, let me list the most positive aspects. Without a doubt, there's first and foremost the presence of Lupita Nyong'o. This Oscar winner moved me in "12 Years a slave". And played a hair-raising role in the movie "Us". In this movie, she's such a ray of sunlight with that dazzling yellow dress. Probably strategically chosen so it contrasts sharply with the splattered blood. And with her ukulele and catchy version of Taylor Swift's "Shake it Off", it seemed like I was looking at a modern Maria from "The Sound of Music". Certainly when the entire classroom joins her with the song like a real Von Trapp family. But apart from the fact that she's very musical and fashion-conscious in this film, you also have to admit that Lupita is simply a beautiful woman. Even if she opens her mouth in a panic and produces an uncontrolled scream with her eyes wide open, she's still adorable. And she's actually the funniest one in the film.
To a lesser extent, I also thought Alexander England was pretty good. This irresponsible, sometimes imbecile klutz, is quite annoying at times. But nonetheless, due to his clumsy attitude and behavior (mainly in terms of social skills), he still manages to arouse some sympathy. I found his encounter with Miss Caroline quite endearing. That suddenly emerging urge to seduce this teacher. But then, in the next scene, you see him giving a demonstration of solo sex on the toilet while drooling over a class photo (with school teacher Carolina in it of course) of his nephew Felix (Diesel La Torraca). Would I be a teenager, I would chuckle about this. Now a raised eyebrow was the only result.
This would-be-creepy zom-com also had its charms. The clumsy way in which Dave tries to impress Miss Caroline is quite funny to see. And of course, eventually, she gives in, even though she hates Dave from the start because of his brutal and stupid remarks. And finally, there are a few very funny moments such as the Darth Vader scene and the horde of singing zombies. I got the most spontaneous smile on my face when I saw a bewildered zombie attempting to clap to the rhythm and he found out that both his arms were missing. And here and there there was a pretty good joke or one-liner.
But still. Unfortunately, the number of irritating things was overwhelming. I was relieved when this zom-com ended. First of all, I thought the zombies were extremely ridiculous. It was like a school project in which the creatures were played by fellow students. A Wednesday afternoon activity that involves a lot of fun. You can't call it a horror, in my opinion, because of the lack of tension. The most bloody scenes always take place off-screen. This is probably due to the budget. Perhaps the much-used photo with Lupita covered in blood and those anxious-looking children in the background, raised wrong expectations for me. And as I mentioned before, the humor was missing. But mainly I was annoyed by the figure of Teddy McGiggle (Josh Gad). Such an annoying character. If I could, I would have personally fed him to those bloodthirsty undead. I know it's an Australian indie. But to be honest, it looked really cheap (literally as figuratively). The only question I had was: "What's a famous, talented Hollywood star like Lupita doing in this movie?".
More reviews here: movie-freak.be
Low Tide (2019)
A charming film but in a way disappointing.
Eight, nine, ten. A thousand.
You boys find any more coins,
give me a holler.
Once and a while I like to watch a well-made coming-of-age movie. Such a film about juvenile innocence in which a radical event shakes the pleasant life of one or more young people. A life experience many of them look back at when they are adults. Like in "Stand by me" where a group of comrades goes looking for a corpse to become famous. In "Mud" it's about two rascals helping a fugitive. And "Rockaway" shows two brothers who come up with a daring plan to get rid of their violent father. In most cases, things get a bit out of hand, making the impact on the involved kids even greater. Or it should be such a fairy-tale story as "The Goonies" (also aimed at a youthful audience) with a whopper of a happy ending so that you can walk around for days with such a broad smile that people are convinced that a coat hanger got stuck in your mouth.
Admittedly, "Low Tide" is a bit reminiscent of "The Goonies". Here you have two brothers, Peter (Jaeden "The Book of Henry" Martell) and Alan (Keean "Alita: Battle Angel" Johnson), who find a bag of gold coins while plundering beach houses of tourists. Golden coins of such value that it could be a way out of their futureless life situation. The whole story is situated in a remote region of Jersey Shore. A shabby neighborhood where fishery plays an important role. And tourism is also flourishing thanks to the wealthy day-trippers from the surrounding areas. The teenagers call those day-trippers Benny's (residents of Bayonne, Elizabeth, Newark, New York). Alan, Red (Alex "A-X-L" Neustaedter) and Smitty (Daniel Zolghadri) hate them and therefore adhere to one rule during their raids. Homes of the local population are categorically shunned when they go looting once again.
There's something charming about this film. It radiates frivolity and carefreeness when you see the three bosom friends joking at the fair. Acting tough and flirting with girls passing by. A summery atmosphere full of joy and mischiefs. Of course, their nocturnal escapades cannot be approved. For them, it seems like a game and a way to get money to sponsor their daily activities. Parental control is nil since Alan's father has been at sea for some time. The rest seems to be parentless (no idea what Red's family situation is) or their parents have no time or desire to worry about them. Even when Smitty loses a shoe and breaks a leg during such a nocturnal adventure, the three don't seem to worry. It's only when Peter is involved and a valuable treasure is found that the tensions starts to rise. Suddenly there's discord within the close friends' club. Distrust and greed arise. And when the local police officer Kent (Shea Whigham), who keeps an eye on one of the rascals, begins to meddle in their affairs, the real personality of some is struggling for dominance.
Despite the generally fascinating acting and the beautiful images presented in this film, there are a few shortcomings in this movie. First of all, the story itself is interesting, but on the other hand, it's a bit too simplistic. You can easily summarize it all in a few short sentences. But most of all, there's mainly a lack of tension. It's quite obvious that it won't end well. And that such a handsome guy like Alan will get some major attention from girls he meets, even though she's a Benny, with a romantic tête-à-tête as a result, is not really a surprise and something you could expect. Red's aggressiveness reaches a peak as his suspicion grows more and more. And they begin to feel the hot breath of Sergeant Kent down their neck. And yet the film fails to end up in an apotheosis. The outcome was actually disappointing, even though it was a logical conclusion. No spectacular firework (as can be seen at the end of the movie) and far too predictable. Unfortunately, because it still was a charming film.
More reviews here: movie-freak.be
I really liked this neat little ghost-story.
You don't read the book.
The book reads you.
A few years ago there was already the movie "Goosebumps", based on the stories of R.L. Stine, with the not so funny Jack Black. The only thing I can remember about this film is that an immense amount of figures from that book series were used to make life miserable for the protagonists. Fortunately the film "Scary stories to tell in the dark" doesn't make the same mistake. This film is based on an iconic series of stories of the same name written by Alvin Schwartz. A series of three bundles, full of scary horror short stories about dark revenge and supernatural events. Books that caused a stir among concerned parents who felt that these stories (and especially the lurid illustrations) weren't suitable for young children. Well, that's something that arouses my curiosity.
I myself was a big fan of television horror series such as "The Hitchhiker", "Tales from the crypt" and "The Twilight Zone" in the 80s. Short stories with a sinister undertone and a scary story. In short, horror for beginners. The same kind of stories are being used in this film. The movie won't scare a hardcore horror-fan though. It's all too soft. It's clear that they aimed at a slightly younger teenage audience. A perfect movie for adolescent boys to watch with their first girlfriend. Hoping that the lovely girl will be so scared to death that she'll snuggle close to him seeking protection in his arms.
A big name in the film world, Guillermo Del Toro, is a fan of the original "Scary Stories" stories as well and has therefore contributed to this film by working on the script. That means that my expectations were high. The result is a well-cared-for ghost story with a hugely successful 60s setting. Subtle horror with fragments of intense moments. You could clearly feel the influence of the grandmaster himself. Of course, it's once again situated during the Halloween festivities. The cause of all the misery may not be called earth-shatteringly original. And the way in which the problem is solved is perhaps dull. That means that "Scary stories to tell in the dark" nestles itself in the range of horror films that don't exceed the average. But that doesn't mean that you should avoid this film. There are too many positive things to discover for that.
First the acting of the youthful cast. They didn't do so bad. The gang of teenagers to which Stella (Zoe Margaret Coletti) belongs is as usual a collection of personalities with their own distinctive traits. First of all, you have Stella's best friends. The phlegmatic Auggie (Gabriel Rush) and scatterbrain Chuck (Austin Zajur). Then you have Tommy (Austin "Paper Towns" Abrams) the chief bully of the village. A good-for-nothing guy who joins the army to fight in Vietnam and who's actually the cause of the teenagers ending up in the haunted house where Sarah Bellows lived. The only people who accompany them as well are Ramon Morales (Michael Garza), a Mexican boy who tries to avoid something, and Chuck's sister Ruth (Natalie Ganzhorn). These persons are the ones who, after Stella has discovered a lurid book full of horror stories, become victims of their own fears. Personally, I thought the acting performance of Zoe Margaret Coletti and Tommy Miller were the most successful.
Like I said before, the horror moments aren't terrifying. But "Harold" the scarecrow, "The Big Toe" and "Jangly Man" were the most amusing moments from the series of creeps that showed up. Really such figures that would fit perfectly in a Stephen King's collection of short stories. And the way the stories manifest themselves in the book was also a nice touch. And finally, I thought the overall atmosphere this film bathed in, was wonderful to see. Oh well, maybe the fact that Stella is portrayed as a misfit and her personal torments about a mother who left the family, was a bit too corny. And in terms of shock effects, it also fell short. However, if you like an entertaining and well-told ghost story, then this "Scary Stories to tell in the dark" is perfect for you.
More reviews here: movie-freak.be