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5 minutes ago, Aeglos said:

 

Can I ask...why are you watching so many films? New book coming?

 

Maybe, just trying to formulate something. Might not amount to anything, or a simple book of reviews. 

 

I managed to work out the figure too. 359 is how many I have reviewed this year, but 352 is how many I've watched this year. Seven reviews I posted this year were for films I saw at the tale end of 2017.

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Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Johnny Depp (2018, cinema)

 

Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) sends Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) off to Paris because Gridlewald (Jonny Depp) has escaped and is now gathering a bunch of Brexiteers to his side. He should't have fucking bothered.

 

Considering its source material, Fantastic Beasts proved to be a triumphant success of a film that helped to expand the Potter universe in new and interesting directions. Sadly, The Crimes Of Grindelwald is just that, a cinematic crime that squanders everything that made the first film so enjoyable and bogs it all down in endless dull exposition.

 

Everything that worked so well in Beasts is largeyl absent here. The beasts are now there just for occassional window dressing, the partnership between Newt, Tina, Jacom and Queenie is neutered, while Johnny Depp is no replacement for he who can not be named.

 

The plot itself jumps all over the place and Rowling seems more focused on showing how clever she is at creating fan service for adoring fans than creating interesting and likeable characters. It feels almost like a soap opera at times, with revelations coming thick and fast, but bearing no real impact because the pacing and plotting is so painfully dull. Believe me, you'll feel every one of its 133 minutes.

 

There are moments of enjoyment, mainly when Newt gets to interact with his beloved beasts and the all too brief exchanges bewtween Jacob and Queenie, but this is tremendously dull stuff.

2/5

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I saw three indentify strangers yesterday. My friend actually worked on it, really proud and happy for him the film is as good as it is and it's done so well in the States. 

 

Pretty amazing story and lots to talk about. Great date movie in that sense.

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On 30/11/2018 at 11:35, Treble said:

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

 

An anthology film comprised of six stories, each dealing with a different aspect of life in the Old West.

 

It's a Coen Brothers anthology about the Wild West, so pretty much entirely as you'd imagine. Some thoughts:

 

  • Possibly the most American film ever made: gun violence is great, but no sex thanks - that'd be wrong
  • Netflix really upped their UHD game, huh?!
  • Dudley Dursley??? Dudley Dursley!!!
  • Tom Waits for no man
  • Zoe Kazan IS Hazel Wassername!!!
  • The whole thing reminded me a great deal of Grim Prairie Tales (but better)
  • Liam Neeson is a treasure

 

Brilliant start, brilliant finish, mixed bag in-between. Just like any anthology, really. Overall, a top-notch watch... if a bit nihilistic and bleak :(

 

Fuck I kept thinking I knew him from somewhere but couldn't place it and no wonder, he's lost a shit load of weight since Harry Potter

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Interstellar (2014, 4K Blu-Ray)

With the human race facing extinction, Josepth Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is sent into space so his team can investigate a worm hole and hopefully a coherent story as well.

 

If Interstellar succeeds in one way it's that it highlights that Christopher Nolan will never be as good a director as Stanley Kubrick. This is his 2001 and while it tries its hardest, it simply can't compete with the 1968.

 

There's no denying it provides some sumptuous eye candy and McConaughey brings a fair bit of gravitas to the ex NASA pilot who is desperate to save his two kids, but this a long pondering movie that's nowhere as clever as it likes to think it is. The final third of the film unravels and there are plot holes as big as the black hole that the team eventually investigates, but at least it looks pretty.

3/5

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Delirious (1991)

 

A soap opera writer, in love with his leading lady, has an accident and wakes up inside the show. 

 

John Candy plays Jack Gable, a fairly successful soap opera writer who is slowly being edged out of his own show. He's in love with the star, played by Emma Samms, and simply can't see what an awful person she is. When he thinks he's finally got a date with her, he ends up banging his head, and awakens inside the very show he writes about. After realising he isn't dreaming, Gable discovers that by writing on his old typewriter, he can change the course of events for himself and other characters. Using this new skill, he sets about impressing Samms' character, while slowly falling for the innocent Janet Louise, played by Mariel Hemingway.

 

This was an OK comedy that traded a lot on the charms of John Candy. After a fantastic flyby over New York, we're introduced to everyone, both the character they are in the show, and the ones in real life. Gable waking up inside the show actually occurs fairly quickly, as does discovering he can manipulate the story. However, it's very hit and miss, and while Candy tries his hardest, there are too many times when it just isn't funny. His relationship with Samms makes little sense when it's quite clear he's a smart guy but still can't see her for the awful person she is. Numerous times the plot is halted so he can try and woo her again, often turning down Mariel Hemingway in the process. It's hard to get a gauge on who he likes and the film seems to create and break bonds every other scene. I'm not sure if this was bad plotting or them taking the soap opera theme seriously. 

 

Candy is fine, he's lovable, funny and his talents deserved better. Emma Samms, while looking the part, was very difficult to like, while Hemingway was given barely anything to work with. There's fun here - Candy's delight and experimentation with the story had some good moments. David Rasche was fine as Dr. Kirkwood, his repeated line that he was a 'medical doctor' got better each time. Dylan Baker was good too, as a member of the family who was slowly being poisoned. There just wasn't enough good stuff and the last twenty or so minutes really dragged. I remember reading about this when I was writing about Dragnet (they are both directed by Tom Mankiewicz) and how it was the director's chance to get back into the game after saying no to the wrong project. In the end it took Richard Donner to help get it made, and it was barely released. 

 

It's far, far from terrible, but you just get the feeling with a bit of chopping and changing, it could have been a lot more fun. Still miss John Candy.

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Skate Kitchen

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7545566/

 

A teenaged skateboarder makes friends with a bunch of other skateboarding girls in New York City.

 

This is a coming of age story set in New York. It’s about a teenage girl living in the suburbs who loves skateboarding. She travels into Manhattan and meets up with a group of girls her age who are skaters like her. They hang out in New York, skate about the place, have chats, do Instagram, drink coffee and do all the things kids do in the summer.

 

This has a lot going for it. The photography and the music are both excellent – although making New York look good on screen isn’t much of an achievement these days. The cast are really good and some of the girls are not actors but skateboarders (skaters?) who got recruited for the film. The atmosphere and tone is really mellow and the girls are a lot of fun to be around.

 

It’s directed by a woman, Crystal Moselle, but for a film about female friendships and girls there are a couple of slightly sleazy scenes that should have been left out. When the film is just the girls skateboarding around and hanging out it’s wonderful but when Jaden Smith and a bunch of other idiots turn up it loses a lot of energy.

 

There’s no real plot - friends ride skateboards and meet some stupid boys – is about the extent of it. But I found this a nice way to spend 90 minutes, there’s a great energy to it and the skate crew are great fun. It reminded me of films like Palo Alto or Thirteen.

 

Recommended.

3.5/5

 

 

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The Christmas Chronicles (2018)

 

As a family comes to terms with their first Christmas without their dad, two siblings who've grown apart set out to capture Santa on film. In doing so they end up in his sleigh and cause him to crash. Now it's a race against time as Santa and the children race round Chicago looking for the Reindeer, the sack of presents and his magic hat.

 

The film has a predictable opening, showing family videos of Christmases gone by, where everyone seems happy and gets along. Cut to 2018 where the tree isn't even decorated, the house is lifeless and we learn the father has passed away. Naturally this means the teenage son is now rebellious and makes zero effort with his 10 years old sister and struggling mum. The usual kind of set up.

 

After the mum gets called into work on Xmas eve, the older brother is forced to look after his sister and she convinces him to set up a trap in order to capture Santa on film. From there on they cause a crash and have to help Santa find his stuff and deliver the presents before Xmas eve is over.

 

This by no means is ever going to be a Christmas classic but it's enjoyable and does things with Santa that I've never seen before. Kurt Russell drops into the role so well, every Santa from now on should be played by Russell, he really looks the part and is definitely the highlight of the film. The kids are the usual tropes you've seen a million times and the girl is quite annoying at times, but not enough to ruin the film. There's some fun set pieces in there, including a fun song in a place you'd never expect to find Santa.

 

My daughter told me this morning that she loved it (so it stuck with her), both her and my 2 year old sat and watched it all the way through without distraction, so it clearly hit it's mark with the children.

 

Overall, a nice fun family film, worth checking out if you have young children. The name is baffling though, not sure what "chronicles" it was telling. Maybe if this does well it'll be the start of a number of Netflix xmas films under the "Chronicles" banner.

 

3/5

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High And Low (1963)

 

A kidnapping gone wrong in Kurosawa's gripping tale of crime and class divide.

 

I'm on a real Kurosawa trip at the moment, and am especially trying to catch up with his non samurai films which I haven't seen before. This was great, and like so many of his films you can really see how it influenced western cinema as it feels very modern. 

 

One of my favourite Mifune performances as well. Such a watchable actor. You just don't take your eyes off him whenever he's onscreen. 

 

5/5

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23 minutes ago, Stigweard said:

The Christmas Chronicles (2018)

 

As a family comes to terms with their first Christmas without their dad, two siblings who've grown apart set out to capture Santa on film. In doing so they end up in his sleigh and cause him to crash. Now it's a race against time as Santa and the children race round Chicago looking for the Reindeer, the sack of presents and his magic hat.

 

The film has a predictable opening, showing family videos of Christmases gone by, where everyone seems happy and gets along. Cut to 2018 where the tree isn't even decorated, the house is lifeless and we learn the father has passed away. Naturally this means the teenage son is now rebellious and makes zero effort with his 10 years old sister and struggling mum. The usual kind of set up.

 

After the mum gets called into work on Xmas eve, the older brother is forced to look after his sister and she convinces him to set up a trap in order to capture Santa on film. From there on they cause a crash and have to help Santa find his stuff and deliver the presents before Xmas eve is over.

 

This by no means is ever going to be a Christmas classic but it's enjoyable and does things with Santa that I've never seen before. Kurt Russell drops into the role so well, every Santa from now on should be played by Russell, he really looks the part and is definitely the highlight of the film. The kids are the usual tropes you've seen a million times and the girl is quite annoying at times, but not enough to ruin the film. There's some fun set piece in there, including a fun song in a place you'd never expect to find Santa.

 

My daughter told me this morning that she loved it (so it stuck with her), both her and my 2 year old sat and watched it all the way through without distraction, so it clearly hit it's mark with the children.

 

Overall, a nice fun family film, worth checking out if you have young children. The name is baffling though, not sure what "chronicles" it was telling. Maybe if this does well it'll be the start of a number of Netflix xmas films under the "Chronicles" banner.

 

3/5

nice write up. We're planning to watch this with the kids closer to Christmas week. I'm not expecting much, but Kurt Russell looks fun in the trailer.

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9 hours ago, Goose said:

Delirious (1991)

 

A soap opera writer, in love with his leading lady, has an accident and wakes up inside the show. 

 

John Candy plays Jack Gable, a fairly successful soap opera writer who is slowly being edged out of his own show. He's in love with the star, played by Emma Samms, and simply can't see what an awful person she is. When he thinks he's finally got a date with her, he ends up banging his head, and awakens inside the very show he writes about. After realising he isn't dreaming, Gable discovers that by writing on his old typewriter, he can change the course of events for himself and other characters. Using this new skill, he sets about impressing Samms' character, while slowly falling for the innocent Janet Louise, played by Mariel Hemingway.

 

This was an OK comedy that traded a lot on the charms of John Candy. After a fantastic flyby over New York, we're introduced to everyone, both the character they are in the show, and the ones in real life. Gable waking up inside the show actually occurs fairly quickly, as does discovering he can manipulate the story. However, it's very hit and miss, and while Candy tries his hardest, there are too many times when it just isn't funny. His relationship with Samms makes little sense when it's quite clear he's a smart guy but still can't see her for the awful person she is. Numerous times the plot is halted so he can try and woo her again, often turning down Mariel Hemingway in the process. It's hard to get a gauge on who he likes and the film seems to create and break bonds every other scene. I'm not sure if this was bad plotting or them taking the soap opera theme seriously. 

 

Candy is fine, he's lovable, funny and his talents deserved better. Emma Samms, while looking the part, was very difficult to like, while Hemingway was given barely anything to work with. There's fun here - Candy's delight and experimentation with the story had some good moments. David Rasche was fine as Dr. Kirkwood, his repeated line that he was a 'medical doctor' got better each time. Dylan Baker was good too, as a member of the family who was slowly being poisoned. There just wasn't enough good stuff and the last twenty or so minutes really dragged. I remember reading about this when I was writing about Dragnet (they are both directed by Tom Mankiewicz) and how it was the director's chance to get back into the game after saying no to the wrong project. In the end it took Richard Donner to help get it made, and it was barely released. 

 

It's far, far from terrible, but you just get the feeling with a bit of chopping and changing, it could have been a lot more fun. Still miss John Candy.

Emma Samms was my first real celebrity crush. She was insanely hot when she first appeared in Dynasty (or was it   the Colbys?) 

 

I would probably have chopped off a finger for 5 minutes in bed with her. If I had been Candy in the film I would have persued her to the end of the earth!

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Time Jumpers (2018)

 

An anthology of stories loosely connected by time travel or the passage of time. 

 

A series of four stories, all separate but in some way connected by the theme of time. They run from around 10-25 minutes long, with the first and third story being the best. It's low budget across all four parts but generally the stories don't call for much in the way of effects. The first and last are English language, with the second being Scandinavian (I think) and the third German. The acting is a mixed bag but there's some interesting things here. Likely little we haven't seen before and it's not a patch on things like Primer or Timecrimes,  but it passed eighty minutes.

 

The first story, Goodbye, features a young African American kid who has moved to a new area after the death of his father. He's bullied at school but generally seems to be a good kid. While looking in the attic, he comes across a steel ball and discovers it allows him to reset the clock by three minutes. He uses it to get back at one of the bullies but isn't prepared for the consequences. This was quite good and while it seemed to be predictable, the ending was quite a surprise. It's a shame it had to go to an extreme reaction to get there but still, it was off to an alright start. 

 

Momentum is a short, about a girl attempting to discover time travel, which has been her life's obsession. She's then visited by herself from twenty minutes into the future, who now has a time travelling cloak - but no idea where it came from. This was your average paradox thing, where one person becomes the person we start the story with, who then becomes the person who arrives from the future and so on and so forth. I wasn't much impressed with this one, and it's attempts at meaning and special effects fell flat. Very odd epic style soundtrack.

 

The third part (Vienna Waits For You)  was the most interesting and saw a change in tone and concept. It begins with an old lady trying to climb out of a window with a rope made from curtains. She's almost to the ground but ends up being yanked back up into the apartment. Soon she manages to find someone else to live there. The new tenant (a young student) begins tidying and redecorating. However, every time she paints, moments later the old colour fades back through. If she throws some ornaments in the trash, they're back in place when she returns to the apartment. She then looks and sees she has aged ten years in a short space of time. This one was the best of the four, and had a bizarre combination of quaint and sinister. The girl playing the lead was very good and I liked how it progressed and ended. 

 

The final part was the poorest to the point of feeling like it was shot on a 2011 camera phone with a couple of mates. A security guard shows around the new guy whose taking over the car park graveyard shift on top of an apartment building. We spend the night watching him walking around, trying to not fall asleep and keeping himself amused. Then he spots a girl who has overdosed in a car that wasn't there moments ago. I didn't see the ending coming but I can imagine 90% of people watching it will. 

 

So a mixed bag with a couple of interesting stories or scenes. It looked like someone had gone and bought four short films and tried to strap them together as one themed picture, when really the last two had very little to do with time (or jumping). I suspect the time jumping was more to do with the stories taking place at different times, though this is never actually clarified. Just about passable for the time it ran, but I wouldn't rush to recommend it. If you can catch part three on its own, it's not a bad little curio. 

 

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Shoplifters (2018)

 

A group living on the edge of society come together as a family as they attempt to make ends meat and enjoy life in the moment.

 

This film simply blew me away. I’d only seen a couple of Koreeda’s films before this, but I’m now determined to track them all down. It’s so skilfully told, that when the emotional climax’s happen, they do so with an incredibly deft touch. All the cast are superb, but Sakura Ando is the absolute standout as the mother figure relishing being part of a family.

 

5/5

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The Revenant (2018, 4K Blu-Ray)

When tracker Hugh Glass (Leonardo “please give me an Oscar” DiCaprio) is attacked by a bear whilst fleeing an Native American tribe he finds himself defying all odds to ensure his survival. Also, he really, really wants an Oscar.

 

Make no mistake Leonardo DiCaprio absolutely deserved his Oscar for Alejandro González Iñárritu's movie. It's not because he delivers a career defining performance (although he's very good in it) but because he puts up with an insane amount of shit to prove just how willing he was to immerse himself in the role of the American frontiersman and receive that coveted accolade.

 

Loosely based on the 2002 novel of the same name, Iñárritu's movie is an achingly beautiful film, partly because it was shot entirely in natural light, giving the final product an ethereal, constantly dreamlike look. It cleverly mixes haunting natural beauty with the brutality caused by man and sees Glass jumping into considerably bigger fires, making the devastating bear attack seem almost trifling in the light of the trials he later faces.

 

While it’s DiCaprio’s movie, he’s ably supported by an excellent cast, including Tom Hardy as a despicable trapper John Fitzgerald, who is perfectly happy to leave Glass for dead, and Will Poulter as a fresh-faced youngster who struggles with Fitzgerald’s betrayal. Domhnall Gleeson also appears as himself. Sorry, he’s apparently a guy called Andrew Henry who was a notable fur trader, but he’s not fooling me.

 

Beautifully shot and scored and boasting some astonishing sequences, The Revenant really does deserve all the accolades it received on release. It’s a masterfully directed film and is probably the best physical embodiment of sheer force of will since Uma Thurman cut her way through the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad in Kill Bill.

5/5

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Die Hard (1988) Rooftop Cinema Camden

 

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If you looked up "perfect action film" in the dictionary, you'd see an entry for Die Hard (with "see also" entries for Hard Boiled, RoboCop and Predator).

 

It's not just one of the best (if not the best) action film. It is also one of the best films full-stop; with a story that is finely crafted and pared-to-the-bone, characters, both main and secondary, that you care about and recognise, well-shot visceral action scenes that feel real and make you wince, a script that is endlessly quotable and an iconic music score.

 

I've posted about my love for Die Hard in the dedicated thread, but I got the chance to see it on the big screen again last night. Front row seats. Blanket over my knees. Pizza in my hand. Girlfriend next to me enjoying it nearly as much as me.

 

Even now, I was picking up on things that is never noticed despite watching the film so many times, like, when we see Karl with the chain wrapped around his neck for the first time, he's got his hand in between the chain and his neck. Or when Hans is talking about his love of models and the attention-to-detail, he's also taking about his plan.

 

God. I bloody love bloody squibs. As good as any modern action films may be, without real bloody squibs, something just doesn't feel right. I've yet to see CGI blood look as good as that guy getting shot through the knees in the computer room.

 

I love the tiny character touches; like Al Leong's henchman and his desire for sweets or McClane and his continual distractions by women.

 

The story is so well-written, you are never left wondering why something happened (apart from one minor thing - where did Karl get his own gun from at the very end?). Every beat of the story makes complete sense.

 

I can't do a review of Die Hard without mentioning, probably, the very best villain in action film history (although I do see Clarence Boddicker waving a gun in my direction); Hans Gruber, played by the late Alan Rickman. Witty, multi-faceted, clever; he was a world away from the traditional 80s action film bad guys that peppered Schwarzenegger's and Stallone's films.

 

In conclusion, I LOVE Die Hard.

 

10/10

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Give 'Em Hell, Malone (2010)

 

A private eye turned gun for hire must retrieve a briefcase, unaware there are much bigger stakes at play.

 

Thomas Jane stars as Malone, a 1950s private eye in a 2010 world. Almost everything about the character, apart from the violence, feels like it should have either been set in the 1950s or in a completely different film. He's joined by Ving Rhames as Boulder, a guy in a similar line of work, and Doug Hutchison as a disfigured psycho with a penchant for burning people and places to the ground. There's also the classic 'moll' played by Elsa Pataky. Directing on this one was down to Russel Mulcahy, who will forever hold a place in my heart for directing Highlander. 

 

The film gets off to a great start, with an extended shoot out in the corridors and stairways of a building, as Malone attempts to retrieve a briefcase. It's bloody and very well shot. I seem to recall this section may well have been used to promote the film back at the time of release. The pace then slows right down as the Macguffin is introduced proper. The story isn't up to much and even the reveal at the end is a bit daft. We move from set piece to set piece but nothing comes close to topping the opening. Jane proves incredibly difficult to kill - even after being stabbed, shot, impaled and beaten with a baseball bat. He handles the action fine but his hard boiled dialogue doesn't seem to fit with the feel of the rest of the film. Rhames essentially gets to be a heavy who is beginning to have second thoughts about his line of work, while Hutchison (Famed for playing Tooms in The X-Files) is completely unhinged and way over the top. 

 

Elsa Pataky is fine as the woman Malone knows he mustn't trust, but her motivations are muddled leaving the character with little place to go. Gregory Harrison, who plays Whitmore, the Mr. Big of the piece never feels much of a threat to Malone - neither does anyone else to be honest. The film isn't sure what it wants to be, one minute it's an ultra violent, nasty thriller, before veering dangerously close to being a spoof. I think had they gone the whole hog and made it in black and white or in the style of Sin City, it might have worked better. As it was, it had its moments but never quite lived up to its potential. 

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Mark of the Devil (1970)

 

Everyone is a witch it seems, and only the high chief witch hunter can torture the devil out of them.

 

Don't let the fact this is an overdubbed German production made in 1969 fool you into thinking it's tame. Mark of the Devil is about as full-on as a movie as could be, and certainly wouldn't have been out of place in the video nasty era. A sadistic witch hunter who essentially 'picks' someone to be a witch, rapes, tortures and kills in the name of God. When an apprentice (a young Udo Kier) comes to town spreading word that the High Lord Witch Hunter will soon be visiting, the sadist prepares to clash with him. Initially what appears to be a balanced voice, the High Lord (Herbert Lom) proves to be a sadistic, selfish and vain man, not beyond abusing his power. The apprentice begins to see what his mentor is, which ends up putting his own life in danger. 

 

Here's a film that I was expecting to be a Hammer House of Horror knock-off of Witchfinder General. Instead it's an incredibly graphic and brutal picture that opens with a group of nuns and a priest being attacked. All but one nun is raped and killed, and the survivor and priest are tried for being in league with Satan. This results in the priest having his fingers cut off and then being graphically tarred and feathered. The nun and another girl are tied to a device and dangled over a fire until they burn to death. And that's within the first ten minutes. There's very few cutaways from the violence. The film then moves to Udo Kier and his falling for a local barmaid. This annoys the town's witch hunter who then tries to rape the girl. When she fights back, he condemns her as a witch and stabs her with a little 'witch testing' knife. 

 

The film then cranks the insanity up as we see someone having their fingers crushed in a hand vice, a girl stretched on a rack, whipped, branded on the base of her feet and then having her tongue removed in close up detail. There's plenty more too, with beheadings, an eye gouging, water torture and a guy forced to sit on a bed of nails. Women appear to mostly be witches, who need to be raped first. I was taken back with how nasty this got, and the outright stupidity in the name of God was anger inducing. At one point a family are arrested because they're giving a puppet show to their children. One of the witch finder gang members arrests them because 'they are putting humans in puppets at the command of the devil'. At times the film resembles The Blackadder, but it's kept completely serious.

 

For the time, the effects (and their nature) were very well done. Udo Kier as the man becoming doubtful of his mentor was very good, and Herbert Lom was a vile creation, played without any of his later career's over the top-ness. The rest of the cast ranged from OK to very good, but the dubbing undid a lot of the work. At times I found this to be a difficult watch, the screams, torture and plain injustice proved to be a real slog. I was impressed with what the film got away with and how far it pushed the envelope, but I can't say I enjoyed it.

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Gremlins (1984, Blu-Ray)

Alice wanted to see this so we stuck it on. It's still a fantastic film and even though must of the actors are pretty dull (Phoebe Cates' Christmas speech aside) it remains a lot of fun.

 

Gizmo is probably one of the cutest puppets to ever make you think he was real, while the gremlins are superb, full of psychotic mischief and raising laughs whenever they're onscreen. The pace is superb, it never drags and it's surprisingly gory in places.

4.5/5

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The Devil Rides Out (1968)

 

When the son of an old friend joins a satanic cult, it's up to Duc de Richleau and his friend Rex, to save his soul.

 

Something of a classic, The Devil Rides Out features an incredibly cool performance by Christopher Lee as Richleau. He's ably supported by Leon Greene as Rex and Patrick Mower as Simon, the man about to be baptised into a satanic cult. These devil worshippers are led by Charles Gray, who also has the gorgeous Nike Arrighi under his power. The film gets moving from the first few frames and barely lets up. Richleau and Rex initially save Simon, but Gray's power and influence begins to seep into their lives, tricking and taunting them. They end up seeking refuge at the home of another friend, and begin to prepare to battle Death itself. 

 

This was terrific entertainment with excellent performances all around. Christopher Lee is more than up to the task of taking on a bunch of satanists, and while he may be shaken a few times, his steel will never sees him succumbing to the threat. Leon Greene doesn't get much to work with but his relationship with Arrighi is nicely handled, with genuine feelings and concern on both sides. Nike Arrighi herself was very good as she is torn between love and serving her master. She has the bulk of the trauma here, but Patrick Mower also suffers for his beliefs, and he too must face up to the leader and his friends. The cultists themselves are mainly faceless followers in most cases, but Charles Gray had a wonderful line in terror by using his voice and suggestion. There's a cracking scene with him and Sarah Lawson, where he quietly takes control of both the conversation and Lawson herself. 

 

The effects let the film down a little but given this is now 50 years old, I'm happy to let giant spiders and green screen car chases slide. The chase when not filmed against footage, was well shot and thrilling, especially with the cars used. The plot was fun too and the action barely lets up for a second. Lee commands every scene he's in and he's mysterious enough to make you wonder what's really going on with him. The last thirty minutes, when Gray is sending all manner of things at Lee and Co is thrilling stuff, from echos and dimming lights, right up to the angel of death himself - all while fighting off the temptation to leave their sacred chalk circle of protection. 

 

Not really horrifying or frightening, and with very little blood, The Devil Rides Out was still great fun with wonderful performances, great situations and a superb finale. And it's always worth your time to see Christopher Lee punching cultists. 

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Assassination Nation (2018)

 

After half a town's phones are hacked and the data released, chaos and mob mentality begin to take over.

 

**Some Spoilers**

 

Prior to release, Assassination Nation was getting all kinds of early buzz. The trailers even came with trigger warnings. Upon release in the US the film barely made a splash and it's not hard to see why. This is part jet black comedy, thriller and satire, as well as a statement on the treatment of women in the world of today. We begin with a voice over from a girl called Lily, who hangs out with her three friends, talks trash with her boyfriend and seems to be your average 18 year old. When the mayor's phone is hacked and incriminating details revealed, people are quick to condemn him. A well-liked teacher is next, with photos and conversations taken out of context - but the mob don't care. Things escalate radically when tons more data is released on all manner of people, including Lily. 

 

This is certainly a fascinating film that lays the satire on thick. It tries to cover a number of themes, masculine toxicity, treatment of trans-people, feminism and other people's righteousness. There's a whole lot of other subjects and ideas covered too, but at times it stretches itself too thinly. This is a film with almost no one to root for, and even the four girls can be quite unlikable. Of the group, Lily and Bex get the most exposure, with the former being the narrator and the latter being a trans-woman. The plot is quite well done but because of all the other things it is trying to say (or shout), it gets bogged down and sags at times. Odessa Young and Hari Nef give solids performances, though Nef seems a little one track. The support cast are fine, with a really against-type role for Joel McHale. There's a lot of technology used and much is made of this. Instagram, Twitter and the like are used as tools to expand the story (and the chaos) with many not caring about the actual truth. 

 

The film lays it all out, and wants to ensure you know that this is modern America. I don't think more than five minutes go by without a shot of an American Flag - and it's used as the backdrop and justification for many of the actions here. The setup is well done, and the sense of fear as more details are leaked is convincingly done. However, by the time of the third act things seem to have escalated very quickly, with mobs roaming the streets, a kidnapping, attempted rape and murder. As the girls are hunted down, it becomes something more akin to The Purge or any other film where the law seems to have broken down and mob-mentality has reached its conclusion. I think it went too far and to some degree, pasted itself into a corner. The ending was a bit of a letdown - and yet felt perfectly in line to what it should have been.

 

At times it felt like a Harmony Korine picture, Spring Breakers in the suburbs. There's quite a few lurid shots but there's also some really powerful and impressive imagery (much like Spring Breakers). The music is almost a constant and is generally good. One scene worthy of highlight is an extended sequence outside of a house, as the camera moves from window to window we see a scene unfold and all the players slowly moving into their positions, both inside and out. The build up is really well done and when the chaos erupts it's almost a relief. 

 

I though this was an interesting film, it had a lot to say, even if it wasn't always successful. It's well made, and at least attempts to say something about the world today. I'll be interested to see what other's thought. I can see it playing well with Sorry To Bother You.

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@Goose, I'm really glad you liked The Devil Rides Out! I showed it to my wife about a year ago, and she was unmoved. I've loved it since I was a kid. I think it's a cracking thriller that doesn't easily slot into a particular genre, and is all the better for that :)

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The Interview (1998)

 

A man is taken into custody and questioned about a missing car, unaware of the true nature of his arrest.

 

lordcookie recommended this a good while ago and I've only now just been able to track a copy down. Hugo Weaving stars as Eddie Fleming, an out of work man who lives on his own. Early one morning he's arrested by a group of police officers, including Detective Sergeant John Steele and Detective Senior Constable Wayne Prior, who go on to interview him. Most of the action takes place in the local police station, specifically in the interview room, but there are flashbacks. As the interview goes on much more is revealed and the situation becomes more desperate with time ticking away. 

 

This was a tense, superb thriller, with a knock out performance from Hugo Weaving. Initially you feel sympathy for him, and he is pretty roughly treated by the two arresting officers. For their part, they seem to be playing bad cop, worse cop, and this opens up a subplot strand that comes back around. John Steele, played by Tony Martin, is a rough and ready old school copper, who needs results and knows how to get them. Wayne Prior (Aaron Jeffrey) is worse, a massive ball of anger and intimidation. In fact, I'd say he's the weakest link here because his actions are so over the top, with him constantly being at Weaving for much of the film. The verbal sparring between Weaving and Martin is excellent, especially as the former begins to come out of his shell. The subplot adds to the tension of the situation and also adds much more to the main story. 

 

It's a shame this subplot sort of takes over as the film misses Weaving when he's not there. However this is a minor quibble in what is an acting masterclass. The way the leads change position in the relationship is very well played out, and you're never sure who, if anyone, is telling the truth. There's also an excellent final shot which adds to the many questions that the film leaves you with. Very impressed with this, it's low key, not flashy but keeps you gripped from start to finish. 

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The lost world: Jurassic Park (1997, 4k blu-ray)

Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) heads to another island full of dinosaurs that no one knew about so he can save his girlfriend (Julienne Moore) and get her off the island.

 

Steven Spielberg’s first sequel suffers because it’s too content to simply repeat the beats of the first movie. It’s helped along by a superb Goldblum who always has time to crack a wry joke and a spunky performance from Moore. Vince Vaughan, hot off his success from Swingers is given very little to do here, and the only other notable performance is Pete Postlewhaite as a hunter who is obsessed with bringing down one of the island’s T-Rex’s.

 

The mainland ending is largely terrible and there are huge plot holes that are bigger than the actual dinosaurs, but it’s saved thanks to its leads and some truly stunning set-pieces, including an exhilarating raptor attack and the T-Rex’s going to town on an RV. A decent sequel that squanders it’s potential.

3/5

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Jack Reacher: Never Go Back.

 

Incredibly competent. Spectacularly efficient.  Superbly average.  73%.

 

There are lots of holes to pick if you really want to, because the story is based on something built up over 18 (by this point) books - the concept of Reacher having a daughter he didn't know about.  In movie terms, this plot point is 105 minutes in.  Anyway, this film has possibly the weirdest relationship to time I've ever seen.  Reacher busts someone out of jail, goes on the run with them, ends up in New Orleans and disposes of the bad guys.  This is done in what appears to be about two days, but the same time as the Big MacGuffin happens (weekly) and the same amount of time it takes a guy to get himself home from Afghanistan and develop a full blown smack habit and get kicked out of house and home by his wife.  Meanwhile the bad guys have a command centre that is exactly like the Armys, which had me wondering for a short while how they managed to get from Washington to New Orleans in about 20 minutes.

 

Also appeared curiously low budget (cf set reuse above), with some fairly obvious background CGI during the low rent finale.

 

Despite all this, I enjoyed it.  Because it's competently done by talented people, so there isn't anything obviously wrong with it.

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I thought Assassination Nation was fantastic. The 4 leads are excellent and I loved the colours, the music, the photography and the energy of the whole thing. 


The sequence starting

Spoiler

with the home invasion through to the girls getting tooled up and killing the cops and dude-bros was amazing. Loved it. 

 

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