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  1. Goose

    A movie watchers blog

    American Animals (2018) Four students plot to rob a library of its rare books, seemingly unaware of the repercussions. This was an interesting picture, part documentary, part crime thriller. Based on a true story about an audacious robbery on a library by four local students. The film mixes the main plot with talking head snippets from friends, family and the actual students. The bulk of the film is a retelling of the events leading up to the robbery, the crime itself and the aftermath. Initially it's a bit all over the place and trying different things out. So we cut from the film to the actual person that that part of the film is based on, then we see the actual people reacting to what another has said - sometimes agreeing, sometimes disputing. At points, the real life people feature in the film, sometimes in a scene as themselves, other times as a bystander. At one point one of the characters is even spliced into a scene from Stanley Kubrick's The Killing. At another point, we see the same scene two different ways, one as each of two people remember it. It's a good concept but it becomes evident that this is getting in the way of the story unfolding and is abandoned for much of the rest of the runtime. The talking heads vanish until key points in the event, returning properly at the end to sum everything up. The four are generally smart people, and it seems the heist is just a pipe dream, until it begins to take over their lives. They aren't incompetent, rather woefully naive. There's also hints that one of the people managed to keep the other three in the deal, despite them wanting to abandon it on a number of occasions. You feel sympathy for them, but a lot of that fades when you see the robbery itself. This isn't a professional job, and them having to subdue the librarian in charge was a difficult scene to watch (it isn't overly violent, but played for realism). Cutting straight from that scene back to the actual real life people sitting in silence, was quite powerful. It's very well made and I think it did well to put aside its flashy concepts and such. I'm not sure the film would have worked quite as well without the input from the actual people. That said, I'd have been interested in seeing a cut that was purely the reenactment. The leads are all good, with the highlights being Barry Keoghan and Evan Peters. I was impressed how close the four looked like their real life counterparts. It runs in at about 110 minutes, and takes its time to get through the story for the most part. The planning sequences were well done, though at one point it felt like they'd realised they'd run for an hour and still not approached the robbery. This resulted in a quick scene where they seemed to go from a basic robbery plan to 'the robbery is taking place a week from today'. Special note to the soundtrack, which was really strong. This was a good watch, well made and an engaging story.
  2. Goose

    A movie watchers blog

    Upgrade (2018) When his wife is killed and he's left paralysed, Grey is offered the chance at a new life, thanks to a microchip called STEM. I was quite looking forward to this - a guy at work keeps going on about it as one of his mates worked on it. Leigh Wannell directs Logan Marshall-Green (who could double for Tom Hardy) in a revenge thriller, with dashes of body horror. It's set in the near future when people have taken to having body modification, cars drive themselves and houses are automated. The film doesn't actually spend too much time in this area, and quickly gets down to the main plot. We see Grey left paralysed and set to live out a pitiful existence before he's offered a second chance. This was pretty good but I think fell a bit short. When Grey and STEM begin working together, it's a bit like a low budget Iron Man and Jarvis. There's a couple of instances of STEM taking Grey too literally (giving some intentional laughs) but when the machine does take control, it's suitably fast and deadly. Grey's reaction to the violence he's privy to is good, he's shocked at what is happening and yet wants revenge. Given Wannell's filmography, I was a bit disappointed with the violence. It's graphic for certain, with snapped bones and a nasty shotgun death, but the moments are over very quickly. The fight sequences as STEM controls Grey are very well done, with a weird disjointedness. It does become predictable but I liked the way the film ended up. There's a subplot with a police officer on the case, which results in a decent car chase. But there's something missing and I can't quite figure out what it was. I think I expected wall to wall crazy action and there isn't actually that much in it. Further, as we enter into a world of modifications and such, there was much left unexplored or simply taken for granted. It felt like a missed opportunity. However, the action is good, Green puts in a solid performance and the special effects are suitably nasty. The calm voice of STEM also works amongst the chaos. Quite enjoyed it, doesn't hang around too long and told an interesting story. Credit to those that made it, it doesn't look like a $2-3M film. --- As an aside, it was shot in and around Melbourne, doubling for Anywhere, USA. I think that took me out of the picture a few times. Probably not helped when my wife pointed out such things like the police HQ actually being the Melbourne Treasury Building.
  3. Goose

    A movie watchers blog

    Skyscraper (2018) A former FBI agent turned consultant must face a blazing fire and terrorists as he races to rescue his family from the tallest building in the world. Dwayne Johnson plays the consultant, who loses a leg during the opening scenes of the movie. Ten years later, he's working freelance on the Skyscraper of the title. Along with the ride are Neve Campbell and their two children. Before long it all goes wrong and the building ends up on fire and under siege. Comparisons with The Towering Inferno or Die Hard fall well short here. I found this to be bland, which really takes some doing when you've got Johnson, a no-nonsense Neve Campbell and a huge building on fire. The spectacle is there, though the film is incredibly CGI heavy. There's ridiculous hackers, tough talking terrorists, double crosses and so many near escapes, and yet it was barely entertaining. I didn't care for the plot much, and the central device that the terrorists were after was daft - especially the explanation. Johnson tries his best but for the majority of the movie he's on his own, so has no one to riff off. I think he can carry a movie but he really needed someone else here. I found Neve Campbell to be a far more interesting character but she vanished for what seemed like extended periods of time. There was quite a deal made out of the fact that Johnson would sport a prosthetic leg in the movie, but it really wasn't much of a device. For all the times we saw him click it back into place, I expected it to play a bigger deal. He seemed to have no issue doing almost anything - climbing a building, running, fighting. Perhaps that was the point - that losing a leg didn't stop him being the hero. The villains were fairly faceless and almost nothing was made of the fire. It was there and caused a few people to cough. Despite it being a very real threat, it never felt like one. The ending was cheesy as hell, and not in a good way. I know Rampage wasn't up to much, but at least it was entertaining tat. Skyscraper was dull, its set pieces never felt that exciting (when they should have been excellent) and the two leads aside, the cast were boring. A real letdown.
  4. Goose

    A movie watchers blog

    Poltergeist (1982) A family are haunted by disturbed spirits. At first seeming playful and harmless, things soon escalate with the abduction of their young daughter. Finally got round to seeing this having been terrified of it as a kid. I thought this was brilliant, a fantastic, frightening and fun movie. The family of Craig T. Nelson and Jobeth Williams were a wonderful Spielberg creation, and their kids weren't annoying. Indeed, the young Heather O'Rourke was very good. The setup was well done, the way the little things built up and at first seemed almost a fun parlour trick. The sense of time was perfect - obvious I guess, given the film was shot in 1981-82. The likes of Stranger Things can be seen to have borrowed heavily from the picture. The way things began to worsen was timed just right, not too fast or slow. The para-psychologists were fun too and I liked the fact the film didn't try and have them really dissuade the family, they were on board from the off. The special effects, while showing their age, were still impressive, especially the beast itself. The use of light also worked so well. The atmosphere was near perfect and the almost casual way the family had gotten used to the disturbance when the para-psychologists showed up was excellent. The scene in which Nelson opened the door to the room was superb. I know a bit about the history, that Tobe Hooper was all but a name on the director's chair, and that Spielberg 'over saw' the direction. Given the feel and look of the film, this could have easily been shot down the road from where ET was set. Spielberg is all over the picture. However, if the story is to be believed, it was Hooper who advised the famed director to throw out the sci-fi element and bring in the ghosts. Either way, this was a very well made, thoroughly enjoyable picture, that didn't rely on blood, gore or jump scares. Loved it.
  5. Goose

    A movie watchers blog

    Hell Comes to Frogtown (1988) In a post apocalyptic world, there is a severe shortage of fertile men and women. When a group of girls disappear, Medtech turn to Sam Hell to get them back. I was really hoping for a cross between They Live and Mad Max with Hell Comes to Frogtown. Sadly it wasn't either of them - in fact it wasn't much at all. Rowdy Piper stars as Sam Hell, an ex-soldier now roped into the employment of Medtech. His job is to rescue a group of girls, and then get them pregnant in an effort to repopulate the world. Along for the mission is Cec Verrell and Sandahl Bergma, as a soldier and a scientist. They all set off in a pink van, into Frogtown, a place left to the mutants. Along the way both Verrell and Bergma attempt to seduce Sam, and there's a lot of questionable actions on both sides. The film also gets a lot of mileage out of Sam's explosive chastity belt. Once they get to Frogtown I was hoping things would kick off but not a great deal actually happens. The Frog-people makeup is generally pretty good given the budget, and some of them do provide a few laughs. However, there's next to no action until well into the picture, and even then it's in short demand, which is odd given Piper's wrestling history. There's an odd dance number when Bergma has to try and placate Commander Toty (head of the Frog-people) and a bit of a desert chase toward the end, but even that isn't up to anything. I was really hoping that there'd be crazy action or arms and legs gushing blood as its straight to VHS roots would dictate. Piper is perfectly fine, as are most of the cast (dodgy acting aside), yet little happens, there's no great set pieces, laughs or kills. It's not good, bad or rubbish, just bland when it should have at least been bizarre or ridiculous.
  6. Goose

    Your unearthed gems

    I'd like to submit Can't Hardly Wait (which my sister and I quote to this day) and the underrated Josie & The Pussycats.
  7. Goose

    A movie watchers blog

    The Third Man (1949) In post war Vienna, a man arrives on the promise of employment from his friend, Harry Lime. However, upon arriving at Lime's apartment, the man is informed of his death. This was a fascinating mystery, that looked way ahead of its time in terms of story and framing. Joseph Cotten stars as pulp novelist Holly Martins, a decent enough guy who begins to look into the mystery surrounding his friend's death. Stories seem to contradict each other, witnesses give differing versions, while others simply refuse to talk about what they've seen. But Lime is dead, we see him buried. Martins is soon crossing path with the local military police, as well as Lime's girlfriend, played by a broken hearted Alida Valli. She seems to be carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders. It was a difficult role, but well played. Cotten is equally good, as the guy refusing to believe what's happened. When he digs deeper, the police decide to show him what a 'great' man Lime really was. This leads to further conflict for Martins, who initially refuses to believe such stories. The supporting cast, including an excellent Trevor Howard, all throw further confusion onto the story. Late into the movie a charismatic Orson Welles shows up and takes control of the few scenes he's in. He's a brilliant, awful creation, and the discussion on the ferris wheel was as great as it was chilling. The finale is very good as the net closes in and the options run out. The last few moments are really well done and end the film on a perfect note. There's some superb cinematography, from the dark corners and shadows, to a wonderful chase sequence in amongst a sewer system. The use of sound here too, was excellent. The only thing I couldn't get on with was the soundtrack. While reading up on it, it seems to be the thing of legend, to me it felt really out of place. That aside, this was a great piece of cinema.
  8. Goose

    Almost forgotton superheroes of the 70's and 80's

    Came to post Condorman as soon as I saw the thread title. And Mr Merlin!!!!!!!! Woah!
  9. Hollywood Reporter has run an article saying that technically Gunn hasn't been fired from Disney. His exit contract is apparently still being worked out but there's now talk of a reconciliation - perhaps not getting the job back, but still being involved. Meanwhile, the likes of WB are already waiting in the wings once Gunn is clear to work elsewhere. http://www.denofgeek.com/uk/59736/james-gunn-not-fired-by-disney https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/james-gunn-demand-major-studio-movies-disney-firing-1133161
  10. Goose

    A movie watchers blog

    The Green Inferno (2013) A group of activists crash land in the Peruvian jungle and come face to face with the people they are trying to protect Some Spoilers The mention of Eli Roth in this thread made be figure I'd give him one more chance. The Green Inferno is his supposed tribute to the like of Cannibal Ferox, Holocaust and the other late 70/early 80s films of that nature. A group of students decide to go to Peru to protest a logging/drilling company's destruction of the forest and murder of its people. They're the usual bunch, the idealist, his bitchy girlfriend, the new girl etc. The thing they all have in common is that they're quite poor actors. Thankfully, the worst one stays home instead of heading with them down to Peru. The idealist, played by Ariel Levy is terrible and seems to be a Southern American guy trying to do a Southern American accent - even though he's Southern American. The rest of the cast, aside from Lorenza Izzo are essentially fodder. Like Hostel, the film takes an age to get going. The incident that leads them to be captured by the natives doesn't take place until nearing the half way point. Up to then we've seen them take meetings, make plans about streaming and travel by plane, smaller plane, buggy and boat. When things do kick off, half the cast are almost instantly wiped out and we get at least one quite graphic death. The group do finally encounter the hostile natives, but it's close to the 50 minute point (of a 90 minute movie). The first death is very bloody, brutal and explicit. At this point it looked like Roth has finally found his feet but he's unable to top the scene. There's one more quite vicious sequence, which is more an homage to Day of the Dead than any Cannibal film. There's an odd part were they get the villagers stoned, which seemed out of place for what had gone before and what would follow. Similarly there's a scene in which one of the girl's has dysentery, which seems to exist solely to get the village children laughing at the smell. None of the characters give you much reason to care for them, the idealist especially. The picture wraps up very quickly too, and while it tries to say something about female genital mutilation, it's used mainly to create a suspenseful incident. And all this is apart from the awful depiction of Peruvian tribes. The few special effects are quite well done, and the explicit kill is well shot and quite stomach turning. There's a couple of other deaths that are handled OK, but they're quick cuts and not up to the likes of the films that they're trying to emulate. I'm really not sure what Roth was trying to achieve. It didn't work as a tribute, a horror-thriller or even an interesting story. Like Everly, it's too well made to be Grindhouse and not shocking enough to be exploitation. The ending, while obviously trying to be a message, makes almost no sense given what has happened. If you need something like this, go back to the 80s video nasties.
  11. Goose

    A movie watchers blog

    Hancock (2008) A washed up superhero gets the chance for a make over when he meets a down on his luck PR guy. Some Spoilers This had a pretty decent first half, and became illogical nonsense for the second. There was a lot of potential in what they had, with Will Smith playing against type (at that point) and doing a good job of it. He's washed up, angry and also has superpowers. Into the situation comes Jason Bateman as a PR guy struggling to make a deal. The two work well together and despite all his issues, they seem to be turning Hancock's public perception around. There are some laughs but there's quite a dark edge to things, and that's part of the problem with the picture. Things are moving along nicely and then the main plot (or latter plot) is introduced with Charlize Theron and the film falls to pieces. It's such an odd twist to introduce all this mythology and history, and at first seems to be a chance for a couple of big set pieces (effects were generally alright). There's then what should have been a one-scene villain who is suddenly elevated to main bad guy, and again, it makes little to no sense (and wastes the great Eddie Marsan). There's good stuff here and it's a shame they didn't carry on with that first idea and run with it through the movie. The other thing is that the tone just can't seem to settle. We go from something quite dark, to slapstick, to comedy one liners and back to dark again, while trying to throw in what appears to be a tragic romance. Smith and Bateman are both good and I'd have liked to have seen more of them working together. I like Theron but I felt she was wasted here and lumbered with explaining the quite ridiculous backstory. A real shame because there was potential, it could have done something a bit different with the genre. Sadly they opted to make a picture of two halves, and they both hurt the other.
  12. Goose

    A movie watchers blog

    I still maintain the best thing Eli Roth has done is the Thanksgiving fake trailer in Grindhouse. That said, the new one with Jack Black, The House with a Clock in the Wall (or similar) does looks OK in a Goosebumps kind of way.
  13. Goose

    A movie watchers blog

    I’ve seen Sicario (excellent) but not Hell or High Water. The best recommendation I can give for Wind River is this. Long day at work, had a dull headache and wasn’t actually going to watch anything tonight but saw this and opted to watch the first twenty minutes. Which became 45 minutes then an hour, then I was too immersed to not watch it to the end.
  14. Goose

    A movie watchers blog

    Wind River (2017) An FBI agent finds herself out of her depth when she investigates a murder on Native American land. I thought this was fantastic, a really excellent piece of film making. It wasn't action packed, didn't try to make anyone a hero, it built up a slow burn murder mystery, and wisely avoided playing on Elizabeth Olsen being a fish out of water. I thought Olsen was very good, both a little naive but tough enough to stand with the best of them. Jeremy Renner gave such a strong performance, the hunter on the land trying to keep everything together, including his bottomless grief. Graham Greene offered a great supporting role too as the put upon police captain. Really strong direction from Taylor Sheridan, with a nicely stripped back script and story. I liked that the film was in no rush to get to where it needed to be. The small set pieces were incredibly well shot, and the sequence at the finale was tense. I was impressed with the way one scene morphed into another, and left you shell shocked as things kicked off again. The violence was short and sharp, and never over the top or showy. Even the ending was subdued but brutal. Olsen and Renner had a good chemistry and I liked that this wasn't exploited or some subplot shoe horned into the story. The main plot was tragic, and very well told, seeing how the grief affected each person, and echoed back to Renner's. The scenery was like a third or fourth character, beautiful and at the same time harsh and deadly. A good soundtrack too. Superb movie making, with performances and story to match.
  15. Goose

    Go Vacation - Switch version out July 27th!

    I didn't play at the weekend but the kids did - they spent a bit of time just driving or riding around. Then argued about his was going to decorate their house first!

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