Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Lovers

I wasn't really sure about the gimmick of this adventure flick but I ended up liking it in thew end. Pretty decent acting, good flow to the script, and stunning scenery made this an enjoyable watch, if a little hokey. 3/5

The Lovers on Netflix

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

400 Days

I was worried about watching this sci fi thriller right on the heels of "Approaching the Unknown", which I felt was a very successful and impactful movie, and I was right. This film was overshadowed in every way by "Approaching", and I think my opinion of it suffered because of it. I felt the acting was weak, the plot stale, and the last half hour of the film very strange. I did like the ambiguity of the ending - that much was done right, but not much else. All in all, this really didn't work for me. 2/5

400 Days on Netflix

Monday, November 28, 2016

[REC] 2

This was a worthy sequel to a great original first film. While the first film was one continuous recording, this film found creative ways to splice footage from different camera and areas together in a way that made sense and was true to the original intent. I liked the resolution and will be interested to see the third installment. 3.5/5

[REC] 2 on Netflix

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Approaching the Unknown

This is a difficult movie to watch at times. As the utter hopelessness of the situation settles in, the sense of dread becomes palpable and claustrophobic. The direction and acting were kept very minimalist, which I felt enhanced the growing feelings isolation and loneliness. The ending was both triumphant and filled with absolute despair, which was really the only way this film could end. It's a good film, but I'm not sure how fun it was to watch. 3.5/5

Approaching the Unknown on Netflix

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Holding the Man

I was extremely moved by this film. The acting was spectacular, and, overall, the story was well-told. However, I was a bit put off by some of the holes in the plot - there were several years in the story that simply weren't mentioned at all, which contained information that was vital to my understanding of the story. I wish we could have learned more ab out those missing years, but the love story was very powerful and moving nonetheless. 3.5/5

Holding the Man on Netflix

Friday, November 25, 2016

Uno

A few months back I watched the Norwegian film "Buddy", and was impressed enough by it that I was interested to see the writing and directorial debut of "Buddy" costar Aksel Hennie. I'm so glad I did, because this is a truly exceptional film. Watching Hennie's character David fall further and further down a well of misfortune and despair was absolutely captivating. I felt for him so strongly for the length of the film, and the tendrils of the plot spooled themselves out to perfection. The direction was deft with a strong use of music to highlight key moments. The acting was really solid, and the ending very appropriate and strong. I really loved this and will be actively searching for more films by Hennie - he's a talent to watch. 4.5/5

Uno on Netflix

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Ma Mere

This French erotica was billed as a festival of the taboo - I imagined something of a cross between "Spanking the Monkey" and "The Piano Teacher". Sadly, it was entirely tame until the last ten minutes. Huppert, who I've liked in the past, failed to bring the  subtle sizzle to this role, but Louis Garrel delivered a tortured and striking performance as her son. There was potential here, but it was never realized to my eye. 2/5

Ma Mere on Netflix

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Insidious: Chapter 3

Now this is the "Insidious" film I've been hoping for! Leigh Whannell made his directorial debut with this film he also wrote, and it turns out he's as gifted a director as he is a writer. The flow and feel of this film was deft and well-paced. I loved seeing Elise as a total badass, and filling in all the holes with this prequel was a genius stroke. The acting was very strong, and the palette dark and brooding. I really enjoyed this - a wonderful end to a series that only got stronger with each film. 4/5

Insidious: Chapter 3 on Netflix

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Independence Day: Resurgence

I don't know about the rest of the world, but I liked this. It had a more cohesive plot than the original (not hard to do) and the acting was very solid. The effects were really outstanding, and the flow of the film was solid and strong. It's a better film than the first one, and it had enough nostalgia factors that I really liked it. A strong showing, and it certainly opened the way for a third film in the future. 4/5

Independence Day: Resurgence on Netflix

Monday, November 21, 2016

Blood Father

The plot of this wasn't bad, but the acting sure was. Gibson had two notes - monotone and furiously angry, and we didn't see him angry nearly enough. If the script had been more fleshed out and had more room for the characters to breathe I think it could have been special. As is, it was just okay for me. 3/5

Blood Father on Netflix

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Insidious: Chapter 2

I watched the first "Insidious" film before my massive "Saw" marathon, so I didn't realize that Leigh Whannell, the writer of the first three "Saw" films, was also the author of the "Insidious" films. I felt Whannell's presence as a writer in this second film, which I felt was more cohesive and had more plot twists to it than the first in the series. Wan has definitely grown as a director in the last several years, and I thought the style and palette of this film was grainy and mealy as it should be. I liked this second film more than the first - I will be interested to see the third. 3.5/5

Insidious: Chapter 2 on Netflix

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Jessabelle

This Southern Gothic thriller is deliciously creepy and atmospheric. I felt the heat and damp of the bayou throughout the film, and the palette was perfect for the setting. Sarah Snook was just perfect in the lead role, and the plot doled it's surprises out slowly and carefully, which built the suspense. I enjoyed this thriller quite a bit. 4/5

Jessabelle on Netflix

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

High Tension

Whoever thinks that American horror has a corner on the gore and brutality market hasn't been watching what the French have been doing. I've seen some French horror films that have pushed all the boundaries of gore and taste directly out the window, and this fright fest is no exception. The direction and effects of the film are quite good, and the two lead actresses really sell the feelings of being trapped with a madman marvelously. However, it's the end twist that I have to take issue with. As interesting as it is, I don't believe it holds up to scrutiny. If you think about it for more than a few seconds, the entire film starts to unravel badly. I'm sorry, but that really ruined what was a strong showing in French horror for me. I'm keeping it at three stars, but just barely. 3/5

High Tension on Netflix

Monday, November 14, 2016

I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House

Reviewers of this Netflix original psych thriller are heavily divided about it. Half feel this is a work of brilliance, and the other half feel it's a terrible waste of time. Surprisingly, I find myself in the former camp - I thought this film was stunning. I don't mind slow-moving films, but the pace of this is glacial at best, and normally that annoys me quickly. But I could have watched this for hours, I really could have. The tone and atmosphere of it is just breathtaking, and the scenes are interwoven with poetry that is so haunting and lovely that I was mesmerized. I tried to find the opening monologue somewhere online, but it seems no one has capped or transcribed it. I absolutely feel that there are symbolic layers to this I didn't pick up on in this viewing - I'll have to watch it again to get it all I think. Ruth Wilson was captivating in this - I really enjoyed it. I certainly won't forget it. 4/5

I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House on Netflix

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Wetlands

I have no earthly idea how this German sex comedy wound up on my queue, but it was completely strange and utterly fun. I found myself cringing in disbelief quite a bit, but, even though it had it's gross moments, it also had heart and depth and a soul to it. Carla Juri was wonderful in the lead as well. I'm surprised I liked this a lot, but I did. 3.5/5

Wetlands on Netflix