Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Collector

If I'm being very honest, this is pure torture-porn with a premise I've seen before. However, this is some of the best high-violence horror I've seen in a while, and, given how much horror I watch, that's serious praise. Marcus Dunstan's direction is high-octane and creative, with shot-composition and lighting I don't see often in horror. Josh Stewart's acting was pretty damn solid for horror, as was most of the cast. Jerome Dillon's score was exceptional and kept the energy high. The traps were better than the similarly-themed "Saw II", and the premise better executed than in "The Hoarder" and "Don't Breathe", which are also similar plot-wise. I was thoroughly glued to my screen by this - a very impressive film. 4/5

The Collector on Netflix

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Hero

The one real reason to watch this film is Sam Elliott, who gives a masterful performance in the lead role. Sadly, I didn't feel the script had enough meat on it to give Elliott the real showcase he deserved. It lacked emotional depth for the characters, and I never really felt I understood anyone's motivations for what they were doing. Without a sense of past or motivation in the present, I felt the film was a bit adrift. A good film that perhaps left too many bits of greatness on the editing room floor. 3/5

The Hero on Netflix

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Armed Response

I've been waiting to see this movie for a long time as one of my favorite wrestlers, Seth Rollins, made his acting debut in this Wesley Snipes action thriller. I'll be honest, I didn't have high hopes, as most WWE stars have a rocky first film. Honwever, I have to give it up to the Architect, as he delivered a solid and believable performance in this. I enjoyed his work and I truly believe he will have a long and ripe acting career. So now that I've given praise where it was due, I have to talk about what didn't work... which was literally everything else in the film. Oh my gods.... this script was just atrocious. As in horridly bad across the board. The direction was just okay, and honestly the only actor besides Rollins to show up for work was Heche, who was the one other bright spot in this disaster of a film. Pretty much only watch this if you want to see Seth Rollins act, and you can believe that. /obshieldreference  2/5

Armed Response on Netflix

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Big Sick

The trailer for this movie is deceiving. I expected a basic run-of-the-mill Apatow comedy, but this was something different. This was far more a drama than a comedy, with a decidedly dark tone to the whole film. I don't mean dark as in black comedy... I mean dark as in "oh shit, is the main character going to die???" kind of dark. I wasn't expecting it but it worked really well, and I felt the balance of the lighter scenes to the much heavier scenes to be just right for this story. The film was co-written by one of the leads, Kumail Nanjiani, who turned in a strong acting performance as well. The acting was extremely solid all the way through. especially Ray Romano's great performance. I enjoyed this, it hit me in the feels. 4/5

The Big Sick on Netflix

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Wake Wood

I feel like this stylish thriller missed the mark a bit. It's waking the same ground as "Pet Cemetery", but with far less emotional impact. The main characters felt very underdeveloped to me. I didn't feel like I knew them well enough to truly connect with them and their struggle. The biggest miss is that we never get to know the daughter before her death, and not having that point of comparison seriously injured the chances of this film having true emotional impact. The acting was understated, but could have used more passion from time to time. The direction was lovely, but I felt there wasn't enough meat for a proper story. This was just okay for me. 3/5

Wake Wood on Netflix

Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Painting

This has got to be the most original film I've ever seen. Visually, it's really unlike anything else. I don't want to say too much, but the realization of the vision of this film is extraordinary. By the end I was truly stunned at how the visuals so perfectly tied the whole story together. The base of the story was also really cool and different from anything I've ever seen. The morals of the film, those I've seen before, but never done like this. I could watch this again right now, easily. One of the best films I've seen in recent memory. 5/5

The Painting on Netflix

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

House at the End of the Street

There was something here with this suspense thriller, but it just wasn't developed enough for me. The first half of the film was completely predictable and by-the-numbers. The second half had real promise as the details of the plot begin to unfold, but, ultimately, it failed to have the impact it should have had. I never cared about the characters enough to get invested in them, and the detail that would have made the "twist" really great was missing. This movie needed to both show and tell more than it did. Just okay for me. 3/5

House at the End of the Street on Netflix

Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Wall

There are only three people in this film, and you only ever see two of them. This is often a recipe for disaster, but I was completely entranced by this action thriller. It all came down to whether Aaron Taylor-Johnson could handle his very weighty role, and he did a spectacular job with it. Cena didn't have as meaty a role, but I was impressed with him as always. As the film develops and the plot unfolds, you learn more and more about the situation in which these characters found themselves, and the ending is a perfect wrap-up. I really enjoyed this and recommend it. 4/5

The Wall on Netflix

Friday, September 22, 2017

Colossal

Sorry for the long absence, I have been dealing with some bad health issues. But let's get to this film, because I have some things to say. This is not a comedic film, which was what I was expecting. The trailers would have you believe it is, but it is in actuality very, very dark. It starts somewhat dark, gets darker, has a few witty moments, and then dives full-on into some pretty serious stuff. I feel like writer/director Nacho Vigalondo wanted to make something funny with a bit of darkness, which is a combination that works well. But, instead, he made a very dark and disturbing film with some bizarre moments of levity that were definitely out of place, and I found the occasional humor a bit unsettling. Having said all that, the actual meat of the story is quite good. It's daring, interesting, and it's brought to life with knock-out performances from Hathaway and Sudeikis. As the film barrels towards what becomes an inevitable and tragic end, I found myself wishing Vigalondo had just dived in and really dedicated himself to the darkness of this story, because it would have been amazing. Instead, I found myself both wowed and confused, so a mixed bag here for me. 3/5

Colossal on Netflix

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Eden Lake

I really did not expect this to be as brutal as it was, but I appreciated the reality of the violence. Most films that depict human suffering tend to either show as little as possible, or go over the top with the gore. This film had the guts to show violence as it would truly be, and the realism of it made the film more impactful to watch. I also liked how the gang of teens weren't all massive sadists, because, in reality, that would be a truly rare occurrence. Instead, we saw how a brutal gang leader can take a flock of misguided sheep and lead them all to a slaughterhouse. The acting was solid, and the direction was tight and well-paced. I really liked this horror thriller. 4/5

Eden Lake on Netflix

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

It Comes at Night

This is a gorgeously directed psychological horror film that reminded me in tone and feel to "The Witch", which I found spectacular. The acting is solid, and the script is doled out very slowly and carefully, creating a sense of tension that was almost palpable. I admire post-apocalyptic films that never show the apocalypse, but rather leave that horror in the past and unseen. I also have to mention there was an interesting visual trick that happened slowly over the course of the film. I didn't notice it until the end, and I actually started the film again and advanced through it slowly to see if I was right in what I saw, which I was. I've never seen it done before, and I'm not going to spoil it for anyone who rents this, but, if you do rent this, just keep your eyes open, and if you miss it, start it again immediately. You'll see it. Kudos to this film, I definitely enjoyed it. 4/5

It Comes at Night on Netflix

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Hunger

Here's the thing. If you're going to make a movie about trapped people who have gone weeks without any food whatsoever, you might want to do something to make sure your cast looks like they've been losing weight. You know, as you would, if you haven't eaten anything for weeks. Like... I don't know.... things like make up, prosthetics, progressively baggier clothes.... anything. Also, don't dress one of your female cast members in pajama bottoms and a tank top, because then it's really easy to see she's lost no weight at all. Which doesn't make sense, if your characters haven't eaten in weeks. So... yeah. Not good. 2/5

Hunger on Netflix

Friday, September 8, 2017

Christine

I had remembered a story about a depressed reporter taking drastic action on the air from my childhood, but I really knew nothing about the life of Christine Chubbuck. For me, the ending of this film was easy to spot early in, but I can imagine many being surprised by what occurs. Rebecca Hall gave the performance of a lifetime in this - she was tragic, bold, emotional, restrained, kind, and, often, all of these things at once. The whole of the movie is excellent - there really no flaws to it. Watch it, but be prepared to be jolted by it. 4.5/5

Christine on Netflix

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Wakefield

This is one of the more fascinating character studies I've seen in recent history. The character of Howard Wakefield suffers from a particular personality disorder, which he demonstrates throughout the film. But there's something else at work here, something explored in films like "Castaway" and "Into the Wild" (the true story of Christopher McCandless and his death). It is a separation from reality and the social mores by which we live, in order to embrace the lawlessness of being homeless or completely apart from human company. Cranston is utterly sublime at capturing the tension between these opposing personality forces and the destruction this conflict leaves in its wake. It is truly amazing, and I hope Cranston gets an Oscar nod for this. Loved this. 4.5/5

Wakefield on Netflix

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Miss Representation

I could write a thesis on this film, but I will keep this simple. There are essentially three parts to this film. The first, based on hard facts, is good and interesting. I don't think you can find anyone who doesn't know that women are underrepresented in TV and movies and often hypersexualized in both. The second part is where things get tricky and conclusions are drawn from these facts. As everyone in the social sciences knows, correlation does not equal causation, but this film gets that wrong time and time again. It also "helpfully" ads dubious facts to create stronger causal links... the problem being that these  "facts" aren't facts at all. For example, they state conclusively that violence on TV and in video games causes real world violence, but that is not nor could ever be "proven", and we don't even have strong correlations for it. The third part is the worst, where social actions, based on these erroneous conclusions, are demanded, and I'm just not having that. Come back to me when you have a FAR stronger case and we'll talk, but right now these filmmakers need to rethink how they are making their case. 2/5

Miss Representation on Netflix