There is something classic about Tell No One. This smart and fast paced thriller from France recalls the Hitchcockian theme of the innocent man on the run. Alexandre is knocked unconscious while his wife is murdered by a wanted serial killer. 8 years later he receives a mysterious email which links him to real time footage of an unknown location where a woman who bares a striking resemblance to his wife is featured. This begins a desperate search for more answers into his wife's apparent murder... and the film then stampedes ahead fulfilling all of the various thriller genres. It's a detective story, a murder mystery and a chase film all at once. The pace moves perfectly and the movie features one of the best chase sequences I've seen in years... the freeway scene is incredible. The use of music is also really effective. Tell No One is by no means original but that is it's strength. It calls upon classic genre movies to tell its story. At different times I felt like I was watching a movie by William Friedkin and then John Frankenheimer. There's a few DePalma touches and of course a heavy Hitchcock influence. Its a smart film with credible twists and turns and a very satisfying conclusion. I'm surprise they American's haven't remade it!! I'm glad they haven't!
Never Sleep Again is one the most in-depth and extensive movie documentaries I've seen. A Nightmare On Elm Street is my favourite horror franchise and having seen all of the behind the scenes docos and special features available I assumed I knew all there was to know about the series. Wrong. This new documentary is FOUR HOURS LONG! Starting with the original film it chronicles the back stories andproductions of every film and includes the Freddy's Nightmare's TV series. Never before seen photos and archival footage help relate the franchise's importance in pop-culture. Heather Langenkamp narrates the film and all but a few people return to share their stories. Directors, writers, actors, make up artists etc. This is one hell of an inclusive documentary that is destined to turn-on every film boy & girl out there. The 4 hour length is concerning at first but I was amazed at how fast the time flew. It was a very easy watch and it's broken into chapters (each film) which helps the viewer break it up over a couple of nights if needed. This is awesome stuff... and the dvd even comes with MORE additional footage and special features. The only criticism I have is that it stops shy of the remake. I guess its a good thing, suggesting that the remake is not even worthy of their attention (man it sucked) but I would like to have heard opinions from original contributors of the franchise. If you love horror movies, check this one out!!!
I am a huge fan of director Brad Anderson. I loved his previous 4 films, particularly Session 9 and The Machinist. When his last movie Transsiberian was released I was keen to watch it. Time slipped away and I only now got around to it. Long story short, I was underwhelmed. It's a story of murder, drugs and corruption on the Transsiberian railway. Woodey Harrelson and Emily Mortimer are a couple who find themselves caught up in it all and Ben Kingsley plays the detective suspicious of them. Throughout the entire film I felt like something wasn't right. I think the Americans are out of place and perhaps it would have been a more credible film with European actors. Set in a baron, stark and unforgiving landscape the film looks great and was atmospherically effective... but the story was bland and resolution was boring. I am surprised at all of the critical acclaim the film has received. No director can hit the spot with every film and hopefully this is Anderson's hiccup. His next film is a post-apocalyptic horror, so fingers are crossed.
There is no genre of film that I'm not passionate about, but I particularly love a good family film as much as I love a hardcore horror movie. They represent the complete opposite ends of the spectrum and both fulfil me more than all of the other genres. Only last week I reviewed The Human Centipede 2 and tonight I have watched Ramona & Beezus.
This is simply an excellent movie! I have been eyeing it off for a while and finally sat down and watched it. Why didn't I do it sooner? Based on a series of kids books which started in the 1950s (The Ramona Series) its about a 9 year old girl who is stuck as a middle child between older and younger sisters. She's a free spirit who walks her own line. Rebellious, creative and audacious she manages to charm everyone she meets and has a heart of gold. The story concerns her father's retrenchment and her concerns for the family. Its a really touching and well structured movie. The cast is excellent with John Corbett, Josh Duhamel and Jennifer Goodwin delivering strong performances... Selena Gomez is surprisingly effective as Romona's older sister Beezus (she can act, who'd 'av thunk it?) and 9 year old Joey King is fantastic in the lead role. From my point of view there is everything to love about this movie and nothing to hate. Its warm hearted, well intended and absolutely delightful. When a family film works, theres nothing better as far as I'm concerned. Romona and Beezus is the girl's version of Diary of A Wimpy Kid and being based on a series of books I hope they make another one. I loved it.
I have always stepped in to bat for Kevin Smith. He's made great movies and he's made crap movies... but I like his style. Not only his film style but also his relationship with fans and his opinions of the industry. The biggest criticism about him is that he's a one trick pony, which has been more or less true. He made a tiny little indie flick nearly 20 years ago and was instantly projected to stardom. He then made a string of films with bigger budgets that all related to that original flick. And then he decided to break free from that mold and was struck down by his critics. His response to that was to cower and return to his usual schtick... and so he made a few more. CUT TO Red State. WOW. This is a belter. Leaving the stoner comedies behind him he has delivered a fast paced, violent and bold thriller. Red State is about a small religious cult who murder "sinners" (mostly gays) and they find themselves under siege with the FBI. It's quite simple but its made so well. It looks great and plays out uniquely. I was constantly surprised with the directions the film kept taking and it (imo) is finally Smith's proof that he's a real film maker. Michael Parkes is awesome as the sect leader and Melissa Leo is great as a fanatical worshipper. Red State is a welcome change of direction for Kevin Smith and I am looking forward to whats to come. It's worth checking out the production and marketing details of Red State because its really unique and courageous and possibly pioneering. Especially check out Smith's speech at the Sundance Film Festival.... and see Red State. Very cool.
I have always loved Brendan Gleeson and The Guard is easily (imo) the performance of his career. He has never been better and might not ever be again. A quote on the poster describes The Guard as a cross between Father Ted and Bad Lieutenant... not only did this quote bring lols, it's also an accurate description. Brendan Gleeson stars as a small town cop who finds himself caught up in an international drug smuggling investigation when the FBI rolls into town. Don Cheadle plays the American agent who winds up a fish out of water in a small-minded, gaelic speaking community. This is very funny stuff. Again, Gleeson shines and he relishes every single line. All of the gags hit the spot and there are so many tiny side jokes and nuances that pad the space between the bigger laughs. Well written and brilliantly directed, The Guard is destined to be an Irish classic.
There is no doubt that Damien Oliver's Melbourne Cup win in 2002 ranks amongst the greatest sporting achievements in our nation's history. I am not a fan of horse racing and I have no interest in it whatsoever... therefore it is always to a film's credit if I take a vested interest. There are a lot of flaws with the film... it's clunky. Too much attention is given to insignificant details (the Arabs in particular) and some characters are majorly miscast (Bill Hunter as Bart Cummings?). But what bothered me the most was the inserts of media coverage... the movie is packed with actual Melbourne journalists recreating their own coverage but it seems too forced, like they're reading off from the script. I don't see why their actual 2002 footage couldn't be used.... ANYHOW, with all of it's faults, the movie still manages to work. The horse racing is ultimately irrelevant as it's simply a story of courage and strength. Director Simon Wincer has returned from years of Hollywood mediocracy with something half decent. The Cup is reminiscent of his early film Phar Lap and it's a romantic portrayal of a national hero. I was left with the warm-fuzzies at the end and I felt uplifted. I guess that means the movie was good. lol
For my overseas friends, Oliver is one of our most famous jockeys and the Melbourne Cup is our biggest sporting event on the calendar. It's known as the race which stops a nation (we have a public holiday for it in Victoria). In the week leading up to the cup, Damien's jockey brother was killed during a training race. Damien went ahead and won the cup in his brother's name.
Bruno Mattei is known to film nerds as a maestro of schlock. His movies are exploitative, violent and poorly acted... Over the years fans have celebrated his poorly made b-movies to the point of considering them high art. In 1995 he made a movie that was marketed to the world as Jaws 5. Of course it is NOT a sequel to any of the Jaws movies and with the threat of legal action the title was changed to Cruel Jaws. It's basically a rehash the first Jaws movie.,, but with titties, amateur actors and lots of gore. There's even a Hulk Hogan wannabe!!! A tiger shark is on the loose, ripping swimmers apart and the local sherif teams up with a shark expert to hunt and kill it (sound familiar?). This movie is HILARIOUS. My step son is obsessed with the Jaws movies and as a joke I thought I would buy this one for him. Of course I had to watch it first to make sure it was suitable... my verdict is that the acting in this is not suitable for ANYONE! LOL... well, perhaps it's perfect for a drunk movie night with friends. I would love to see the script because these actors deliver their lines like there's an exclamation mark at the end of every one. Cruel Jaws; file it in the "WTF?" basket!
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre isn't a film many people would use to compare The Human Centipede with... but I'll give it a go. Like TCM, The Human Centipede is preceded with an aura of menace. Most audiences enter into the film with a level of caution and anticipate what they're about to see with trepidation. The events depicted are, absolutely, depraved and sickening and yet when the final credits roll we come away from it having seen very little at all. Not a lot is shown and yet director Tom Six has successfully delivered one of the most controversial movies of our time. Its a well constructed thriller with great performances. The guy who plays the mad surgeon is absolutely brilliant and Tom Six has proven (also with part 2) that he has a talent for selecting amazing psychos. A disturbingly fantastic journey into depravity.
Once in a while a sequel will come along that surpasses it's original. The Human Centipede Part 2 not only surpasses part 1 but it quite literally shits all over it. I could give you a micro-review in saying that this movie is simply brilliant... to elaborate I will again use The Texas Chainsaw Massacre as a comparison. The original film's violence was entirely within the viewer's mind, however part 2 extracts all of the gore from our heads and splatters it all over the screen. The Human Centipede 2 is depraved, disgusting, vulgar and atrocious. Director Tom Six promised fans that this movie would make part 1 look like My LIttle Pony and he has kept true to that promise. He has also proved, again. to be an amazing director. I will go so far as to call this one of the best movies of the past few years. It's stylish and courageous and above all else, its satirical. It's presented in black & white which enhances the gritty an grimy aesthetic style. The climax of the move is the infamous 'shitting' scene and by the time it arrives, the lunacy of the story has kicked in. If seen with an audience the cinema would be packed with cheers and in a delightful tongue in cheek (awesome pun) nod to Schindler's List, a few specs of feces are colorised to brown and splattered on the screen.The movie is riddled with humour like this and takes things to such an extreme that the absurdity of it becomes apparent and you (me) find yourself wanting even more!! The good news is that part 3 is on its way, thus completing a film centipede.. ie 3 films which interlock seamlessly as one entity. Again Tom Six has promised that part 3 will make 2 seem like an exciting Disney movie. pmsl. I cannot wait!!!!! I should also mention that the main protagonist (antagonist) is one of the greatest horror characters I have seen in years. Mentally disturbed and devoid of emotion, he is the personification of perversion. Brilliant film.
Here's an unexpected thriller for you. A group of mountain climbers are deep within the Scottish wilderness when they hear a faint voice calling for help. They discover a pipe in the ground leading to a shallow chamber where a young girl is buried. They rescue her only to find themselves running from the men who put her there. And so begins a taut, fast paced chase thriller that sets itself apart from the usual cat & mouse movie. Melissa George leads the film and she's good. What impressed me most about the film is its ferocity. While it might not be hard-core, its relentless and throws in quite a few surprises. It also takes a massive diversion in its second half which I didn't see coming and I was overall impressed. I recall the Roger Spottiswood film 'Shoot To Kill' which shares a lot of similarities, to give you an idea. The Scottish setting is something fresh, however, there aren't any Scottish characters... weird.
It's a strange concoction. Another Earth is a deeply dramatic film about tragedy and redemption, which has a fantastical science fiction story running beside it. Such a thing is not supposed to work but it actually does, really well. A stupid and naive teenage girl drink drives and kills a man's wife and child. Four years later she is released from prison and riddled with guilt. In an attempt to make up for her actions she poses as a house cleaner for the widower but cannot bring herself to confess her identity to him. During this time a strange Earth-like planet has appeared from out of nowhere and the film also focuses on the global curiosity and investigation into its presence. A lot is revealed and the entire science fiction subplot begins to make metaphorical sense to the other story. I haven't revealed any great spoilers and that is all I will say. No doubt there will be nit-pickers who question the actual science of such an occurrence and I would suggest that they have missed the point of the film. I found the story to be compelling and both actors were really great. I read that William Mapother (you will know his face) agreed to work for $100 a day because based on the strength of the script. Another Earth is a really excellent debut film and I have no doubt that it marks the start of a successful career for its director.
If I were marketing Contagion I would have given away hand-sanitizer with every purchase of the dvd. Germaphobes be warned, this movie is not for you. A woman returns from Asia with flu like symptoms. Within days she is dead, followed by her young son... the film opens with a montage of people contaminating each other. Sipping a drink, touching a hand rail, shaking hands etc.. its a really effective, albeit scary, introduction to a very frightening movie. The film kris-crosses between various individuals dealing with different aspects of the virus, from victims to researchers to homeland security. Steven Soderberg is undoubtedly a maverick film maker. He takes risks in what he does and he balances big budget Hollywood fodder (Oceans Eleven) with micro-budget indie (Bubble) with equal dedication. With Contagion he delivers a very realistic approach to the outbreak genre. No doubt this movie will scare a lot of people and it is definitely engrossing. I do, however, think that the movie loses its oomph and starts to lag in the final act. If he'd finished it off with a punch then I think it would have been a near perfect film.
Indiana Jones pretty much holds a monopoly on the treasure-hunt genre and whenever other movies come out they are instantly labeled as imitations and rip-offs. I think there should be more of these adventure flicks. I love a good treasure hunt movie and the problem is that whenever a new "rip-off" comes along, its always about the lost city of gold. They need to get a little more original. Anyway I just watched the first instalment of a new miniseries called El Dorado. The protagonist is a treasure hunter called Jack Wilder. He is racing through the jungles of Peru searching for The Temple Of The Sun which is the starting point towards El Dorado. In typical fashion he is being chased by bad guys... yadda yadda yadda. lol Granted I haven't watched the second instalment yet but this aint too bad. I admit that it is riddled with cliches and there are a few average fx, but it's a tele movie and as far as they go it's good. I tend to just lap up treasure hunt movies no matter how stodgy they are. I just wish we'd get more a-grade ones that can compete with Indy. The good news is that Sam Worthington has been cast in the lead to revive Allan Quartermain in a new big budget adventure. HELL YES!
[2 nights later]
I just watched the second instalment of El Dorado. Why do all treasure hunt movies always have bad guy hot on the trail? For once I'd just like to see a straight up treasure hunt. No baddies, no race... just a map, clues and a quest. But alas... the second part of El Dorado is all about the bad guys. Its so weighed down with them that there isn't much treasuring hunting happening at all. Its all guns and explosions. It's a weak conclusion to what was a decent intro. I wonder if we'll see Jack Wilder in more movies? Less action and more adventure would be nice.
Emilio Estevez has directed several movies over the past 20 years, each one better than the last. He previous film, Bobby, was an excellent ensemble piece which fictionalised the final hours leading up to the assassination of Bobby Kennedy. It affirmed that Estevez is a good filmmaker. Now he has followed it up with this brilliant spiritual journey, which stars his father. Martin Sheen plays a man who receives a message that his only son has been killed in the Pyrenees while making the historical pilgrimage of El Camino de Santiago (The Way Of St James). He flies to France to collect his son's body and on a whim he decides to take the pilgrimage himself. And so without any preparation he embarks on the epic journey, scattering his sons ashes along the way. On his trek he meets with 3 others and they slowly become a tight pack. Each of them has a personal reason for being there and the film unfolds at a slow and gradual pace. I was really moved by this film and completely inspired. Is this Martin Sheen's best performance yet? It could be. He is really something and his companions along the way are Debra Kara Unger, Yorick van Wageningen and James Nesbitt (my favourite actor). They're all great and Emilio also plays a vital role as a beacon for his father. It's a really nice touch as we see him briefly at different stages of the trip. The locations and photography are breathtaking and its a damn shame that The Way has slipped under the radar. I have been wanting to see it for a long time and had to import the dvd. So far it's had NO mention of any kind of Australian release. If it ever makes it to cinemas here then I highly recommend it. I'll even see it again for a bigger screen experience. If you liked Into The Wild then this movie is a comparable title.... very moving.
My two favourite genres are family films and horror and Arachnophobia mashes the two brilliantly, making for my ultimate favourite grand-genre! It is also a creature feature and they are rarely this good. Arachnophobia is a near perfect movie. With a mere PG rating it evokes absolute terror in its viewer and knows precisely which strings to pull. Every mark is hit with precision and Frank Marshall has teamed up with Steven Spielberg to create a suspense-riddled fright-flick with 100% impact. Oh, and its funny too. If you've never seen it then a quick summary... a new species of deadly tarantula-like spider hitches it's way from Venezuela to small-town America where it mates with a common house spider and produces thousands of offspring, which infest the township. The film's plot revolves around a series of clever and creepy death sequences which make the toughest skin crawl. To an Aussie audience there's the added creep out factor with the spiders used in the film being Avondale spiders, i.e. HUNTSMAN spiders. To my international friends, these are VERY common house spiders down here. I vividly remember seeing Arachnophobia for the first time at the old Montmorency cinemas when I was 12. I have seen it countless times since and it gets better every time. So much fun and a perfect movie imo.