Month: June 2017

Movie Trailer – Thank You for Your Service

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Jason Hall

Starring: Miles Teller, Haley Bennett, Joe Cole

Release: October 27th, 2017

There are so many aspects that could go wrong with this movie that it’s hard to imagine the majority of it going right.  It could be cheesy, Teller might not be able to handle the pressure, Bennett could be just as bad as she’s been in just about everything; who knows.  But, watching the trailer, I almost believe that they’ll be able to pull it off.  It really does hinge on Teller, on how well he can convince us to believe in the reality of his character.

Movie Review – Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Category : Movie Review

Director: Gore Verbinski

Starring: Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley, Orlando Bloom

Year: 2003

The Curse of the Black Pearl is one of the best movies of all time.  I say this with a small asterisk, since in this case I mean ‘movie’ very specifically and I use it far differently than the word ‘film’.  The Royal Tenenbaums is my favorite film, Braveheart is my favorite movie; I distinguish them as the former being the best piece of cinematic art I have ever seen and the latter being the most perfectly wrapped package of entertainment I have ever had the joy to rip open.  This way of thinking allows me to be both critic and audience, judging features on their merits but also on my level of enjoyment.  Black Pearl is most definitely an enjoyable bit of theatrics, a smartly made blockbuster that utilizes every trick in the book to flash magic in the eyes of the audience and leave us clapping in glee.  I don’t mind that from time to time, and I particularly respect it when it’s done well.

The Caribbean during British colonial occupation was a place of paradise, piracy, and plunder.  Lawless men looked to take advantage on the high seas, while Her Majesty’s navy chased them around ever spit of land.  One of the most infamous pirates of that age was the clever Captain Jack Sparrow, a trickster as much as a killer, a man who couldn’t be caught.  Except, as our story begins, he is indeed caught, after rescuing the lovely Elizabeth Swann from drowning and outdueling the young blacksmith Will Turner.  However, an attack on the port by Barbossa and the crew of the notorious Black Pearl changes things a bit, as Ms. Swann is captured and Turner must team up with Sparrow in order to rescue the damsel in distress.  Captain Jack has his own plans, including using the boy and his mysterious gold coin as trade with the pirates, and doublecrossing anyone who crosses his doubly dangerous path.

A near perfect mix of action, comedy, music, and naval dramatics, Black Pearl is the movie that started the franchise, a series that’s still going strong to this day, if losing its magic with every money-grab that’s thrown at theatres.  But the first can’t be denied; I dare you to even try.  I remember seeing this on the big screen when it debuted, and everyone there was completely blown away.  It’s a play on a childhood memory, a great use of talent perfectly suited to roles, and a colossal example of what can go right when you combine movies with music in just the right way.  Depp is iconic as Sparrow, Knightley & Bloom only slightly less so as Elizabeth & Will, and the icing on the cake is Geoffrey Rush as Captain Barbossa, a thrilling performance that should go down as one of the coolest movie villains in history.  I could watch this a hundred times more, its glamour doesn’t diminish, and its entertainment value remains sky high.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆



Movie Trailer – The Trip to Spain

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Michael Winterbottom

Starring: Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon

Release: August 3rd, 2017

I absolutely adored the first two films in this series (The Trip, The Trip to Italy), and I’m positive I’ll feel the exact same way about this one.

Movie Trailer – The Bachelors

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Kurt Voelker

Starring: J.K. Simmons, Julie Delpy, Odeya Rush

Release: June 2017

This is a first look clip, which I usually don’t post, but I was interested to get a tiny taste of this film.  It’s cool to view a trailer without the editing, the background music, the tricks.  This is the movie, judge it for what it is.  This scene has me curious, but doesn’t indicate anything wonderful, so I’m on the fence.  Let’s see what happens when it gets a little more exposure.

Movie Review – Suite Française

Category : Movie Review

Director: Saul Dibb

Starring: Michelle Williams, Matthias Schoenaerts, Kristin Scott Thomas

Year: 2014

The rise of Matthias Schoenaerts has been something to see, apart from his uniquely handsome, wonderfully Belgian, leading man good looks.  His filmography is beyond impressive: Black Book, Rust and Bone, Blood Ties, The Drop, A Little Chaos, The Loft, Suite Française, Far from the Madding Crowd, Disorder, The Danish Girl, A Bigger Splash.  I don’t think that I’ve gone out of my way to watch his films, but I keep finding him everywhere, and he gets better & better with each role.  He isn’t the lead in this movie, Michelle Williams is, but he demands the attention of the audience, in this and every role, and I’m beginning to understand that he’s not just an actor, but rather a star.

World War II has engulfed France, with the Germans rolling to an easy victory and taking the country as their own territory.  The people of Paris flee to the smaller towns and villages, hoping to put as much distance as possible between themselves and the Nazi occupiers.  But Hitler’s soldiers are everywhere, forcing the entire nation to follow their rules, enforcing martial law over a people who are still their enemy.  Lucile, a young wedded woman whose husband is off fighting the Huns, finds a German officer quartered in the house she shares with her mother-in-law, a well-bred officer who used to be a composer and now sees himself as apart from the common, mindless soldier.  The two fall in love amidst the horrors of war, a relationship that is more than difficult, more than forbidden.

Suite Francaise the novel was written by a Jewish woman during WWII and is considered the earliest fiction based on the war, as it was written during the events it depicted.  The author, Irene Nemirovsky, was killed in Auschwitz in 1942.  Her daughter kept her unpublished works without knowing what they were for fifty years, before discovering them and and releasing the stories.  I think it’s safe to say that the power behind the film adaptation is much stronger than the film itself, which from the very beginning feels weak, recycled, and far too normal.  Williams fails to impress with her narration and British accent, Schoenaerts saving the day on more than one occasion.  The rest of the cast of the movie is filled with names, but is sadly without standout performances: Kristin Scott Thomas, Margot Robbie, Ruth Wilson, Sam Riley.  The music that fuels the love between the leads is pleasant, the WWII background is solid, but nothing ever happens to wow the audience, to make this film anything more than just another romance set against violence.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆



Movie Trailer – Sharknado 5: Global Swarming

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Anthony C. Ferrante

Starring: Ian Ziering, Tara Reid, Cassandra Scerbo

Release: August 6th, 2017

Oh no, not again.  1, 2, 3, 4; I’ve seen ’em all, and so I feel like I have to see this one too, whether I want to or not.  And, spoiler; I don’t.

Movie Trailer – The Only Living Boy in New York

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Marc Webb

Starring: Callum Turner, Kate Beckinsale, Jeff Bridges

Release: August 11th, 2017

Other people’s attempts at Woody Allen never end up quite right, and this one will be no exception.  Kate Beckinsale is hot and Jeff Bridges is wise; we’ve seen that from them so many times it’s losing its magic, and this young lead won’t be enough to liven up the recycling.

DVD Review – A Cure for Wellness

Category : DVD Review

Director: Gore Verbinski

Starring: Dane DeHaan, Jason Isaacs, Mia Goth

Year: 2016

For a film from the director who brought us The Weather Man and Rango, his newest feature, A Cure for Wellness, is both satisfyingly sinister and comfortably classic.  To be fair, Verbinski also directed The Ring, one of the scariest films I have ever seen, and The Curse of the Black Pearl, an absolute and near-perfect gem, so perhaps he is simply the most versatile filmmaker in the industry and we ought to stop imagining that we can predict what he might do next or how well it might turn out.  This film is a pleasant (or unpleasant) surprise, depending on how you look at it, delivering an old-school feel while presenting us with something uniquely spooky.  Hats off to Verbinski for crafting something so strange and yet so familiar, a movie that will scare, of course, but one that is also dangerously delightful.

The Movie

Young, up-and-coming executive Lockhart is in a bit of a pickle. His nefarious and not-so-clever methods have been noticed by the board of his company right before their big merger, something that ought to land him in jail, do not pass go. But there are bigger fish to fry, and Lockhart has no choice but to be the angler. A board member, Pembroke, has gone away to a spa in the Alps and has yet to come back, something that needs to happen if the merger is to be carried out. Lockhart’s job is to travel into the mountains, convince Pembroke to return, and all shall be forgiven. But, as they say with a smile at the sanitarium, why would anyone want to leave? After all, the upper-echelon clientele are very sick, Dr. Volmer seems to be making them well again with his treatments, even if Lockhart begins to suspect that evil might be lurking deep inside the healing waters of the idyllic Alpine retreat.

Lockhart meets the staff and the guests of the sanitarium, and is at a loss for what to do next.  The staff all smile as they lead you to your next treatment, they are all young and attractive, but their goodwill comes with a definite creepiness that says they’re not telling you all they know.  The guests seem to love their home away from home, not wanting the subject of leaving to even be brought up, but some of them are getting sicker, not better, without even seeming to recognize their danger.  And when Lockhart meets the captivating Hannah, who has been at the spa as long as she can remember and who is labelled as a special case, he knows that something must be done to convince the outside world that Volmer and his crew are up to no good, some unknown wickedness that only our hero can expose, but only if he resists the treatment long enough to make it past the gates.

With a horror throwback feel that almost reminded me of Wes Craven’s Swamp Thing, Verbinski’s A Cure For Wellness breathes classic creep while shouting modern imagery.  It’s extremely difficult for a film to walk the fine line between paying homage to the classics while also bringing something new to the theatre, but this movie was able to keep that precarious balance.  There was an odd comfort in the atmosphere of the plot, even while audiences were forced to look away from what they did not want to see, a pleasant mood like spending time with an old friend, all while demanding that the hero not open that door.  Verbinski created a fledgling world in which to set his story, pulled an evil plot out of thin air, but somehow also made us feel like we’d seen this all before, in a good way though, as if we too were enjoying the sinister setting too much to leave.

There’s an extremely unnerving tune played at the beginning of the film, and then brought back throughout, that sets the tone for the whole show, that sets you on edge and makes you wonder what you got yourself into.  This music, some stellar cinematography, and a patience to let events unfold as they will without forcing them to life are all to Verbinski’s credit, helping to elevate the movie above simple genre horror.  There was an insanity to the characters, an unexplained madness, that made the whole thing wonderfully unpredictable as well.  Jason Isaacs was the devil of this particular hell, and I couldn’t help relating his character from The OA, another megalomaniac with a secret.  And Dane DeHaan was great, a bit everyman, a bit cocky, a nice combination of both that made him relatable.  A Cure for Wellness is a strange, drawn out, psychotic, disgusting adventure tale, not a film for the meek, but something that will please your darker side if you so desire.

The Blu-ray

Video – With an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 (Widescreen), and shot using an Arri Alexa XT M camera with Leica Summilux-C, Zeiss Master Prime, and Ultra Prime lenses, an Arri Alexa XT Studio camera with Leica Summilux-C, Zeiss Master Prime, and Ultra Prime lenses, and an Arri Alexa XT camera with Leica Summilux-C, Zeiss Master Prime, and Ultra Prime lenses, the video quality of the Blu-ray is one of the best I have ever seen.  Combined with out-of-this-world cinematography and an unmatched eye for imagery, the picture quality of this film is one if its greatest highlights.

Audio – The Blu-ray disc was done in English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, with options of English Descriptive Audio 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, and Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1.  Also, subtitles are available in English SDH, Spanish, French, and Portuguese.  The sound/music of the film perhaps made it work, was the extra feature that brought it up to the level of greatness.  The film’s soundtrack is phenomenal, with a common theme woven throughout that will give you nightmares as it lulls you to sleep.

Extras –  There are a ton of special features on the Blu-ray, enough to delight those looking for more from this insane world.  A deleted sequence called “It’s Wonderful Here” is available to watch, it’s 5 minutes long, and it delivers more information about Lockhart’s stay at the spa, including many iconic images from the film that don’t actually appear in the theatrical version.  There are three, 3-minute meditation segments, where audiences can relax to the oddity that is this universe: Water is the Cure, Air is the Cure, Earth is the Cure.  The Score is a 4-minute look at creating the music.  And there are six trailers in all: theatrical, red band, international, The Belko Experiment, Morgan, Shut In.

Final Thoughts

Highly Recommended.  There are many words that could be used to describe A Cure for Wellness: throwback, pulp, gonzo (whatever that means, exactly).  But the one that keeps coming to mind is ‘sinister’; this film is about as sinister as you can get.  It isn’t the most frightening, it isn’t the cleverest plot, it isn’t exactly a b-movie.  It’s a sinister tale told almost flippantly, as if the details really don’t matter.  You’ll find yourself giving up eventually, when you realize that the point isn’t to explain every creepy plot twist, it’s to frighten you with just how bizarre the world can be, at least this wacky one in which people have lost their damn minds.  Then there’s the music, which connects the film from start to finish over the course of two and a half hours, and the cinematography, which can only be described as beautiful.  The video quality is amazing, the audio superb, and there are enough extras to delight fans, so the technical aspects of the film hold up beside what is also a strong, stand-alone feature.  Watch this movie more than once; I have, and it’s worth it.

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Content

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Video

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Extras

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Replay








Movie Review – Suntan

Category : Movie Review

Director: Argyris Papadimitropoulos

Starring: Makis Papadimitriou, Elli Tringou

Year: 2016

If you’re in the unusual mood for a foreign drama about a doctor’s obsession with his young patient, and you don’t mind that much of the action is set on a nude beach, then you’re in luck.  Suntan is a unique, Greek comedy/unrequited romance/thriller that doesn’t fit inside any shape of box, but rather creates a new set of boundaries that only it can push to the limit.  I use the word ‘boundaries’ lightly, because this film will shock most, will upset quite a few, and definitely isn’t for everyone.  It’s an odd story with absolutely no hero, but with some deeper meaning than just the surface plot that should captivate audiences looking for something a little sinister with their summer vacation flick fun.

Kostis has just come to the island as the tiny town’s doctor, where he will be in charge of the 800 residents during 3/4 of the year, but will need to be on his toes during the hot months, for that’s when the tourists come.  It’s a vacation destination, this island, and its idyllic facade is just that, a cover for the real lives of the people who live their year round.  Kostis gets settled in, but is disturbed by a group of partygoers who bring one of their crew in with an injured leg.  Her name is Anna, and she’s beautiful.  Kostis becomes a sort of mascot for the gang, a portly man twice their age who doesn’t know how to be cool but is eager to learn.  His budding love for Anna will rock the boat though, as will his persistence in joining their fun, whether they want him to or not.

You could say that this movie is a slow burn, but you can feel the spinning out of control coming a mile off, but in a good way, in a way that builds tension until you know that it has got to be released or explode.  Kostis is so out of place, it’s uncomfortable to watch, and it only grows more so as he attends the beaches, goes to the parties, makes a fool out of himself, and begins to think that he’s in love, when what he is really is is over his head.  To touch on the nudity in this film; it’s constant, and at first you notice it, but by the end it’s just young people naked on a beach because why not, it’s not a huge deal anymore.  The violence inherent in some of the sexual aspects of the film will be a bigger problem for some, but try to appreciate the story that this director is trying to tell.  There’s a depth here we don’t often see, and I’m glad I stumbled upon this crafty foreign film, a movie that upsets on purpose.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆



Movie Review – Them (2006)

Category : Movie Review

Director: David Moreau

Starring: Olivia Bonamy, Michael Cohen

Year: 2006

I can’t remember when or how, but this movie was recommended to me, and now I’m forced to wonder why.  Basedt in Romania but featuring French as well, it’s a small-time horror flick that won’t appeal to American audiences.  I’m not sure how it appeals to foreign audiences either, but somebody must like it, because it isn’t derided, it’s fairly well-liked.  And I hate to be the voice that says “I don’t get it”, but I don’t get it.  Them is a very simple flashlight thriller without anything else to back the story or the talent to take anything to the next level.  If you’re looking for under-the-radar, look elsewhere, for while your intentions might be good, this movie isn’t.

Clementine is a school teacher who travels outside the city to reach her home and the love of her life, Lucas, a writer who waits for her there.  They are a beautiful couple, full of romance and comfort, but their idyllic existence is about to be shattered.  In the middle of the night, Clementine hears a noise outside, which reveals itself to be someone stealing her car.  After a call to the police, things go from bad to worse; the phones cut out, the power goes off, and strange scurryings are heard around the house.  Soon, some unknown terror is inside, and it’s up to our heroic couple to find out what it is and how to survive the night.

Sounds pretty basic from the description, but it’s actually far worse.  The standard recipe is there at the beginning, but the movie follows none of the Hollywood horror norms.  Now, that might sound like a good thing, and sometimes it definitely is, but not here.  Instead of taking the plot in a new direction, the story goes nowhere at all, and our two main characters spend the majority of the film wondering what that sound or that light was, while stumbling around in a dark house.  Not my idea of fun, and even though the action resolves itself in the end, by then I couldn’t possibly have cared less.  There’s nothing worth watching about this movie, and the fact that it’s only 70 minutes is its only saving grace.

My rating: ☆ ☆