Threads (1984) : Review

I’ve heard rumblings of this film through the most bizarre of places. I was in search of a horror film and came across an off-hand comment that swore by the statement that Threads was and continues to be, in his memory the scariest movie he had ever scene.

After a little research I discovered an avid fan-base for the movie with similar thoughts regarding the nuclear holocaust drama. Threads is a film that depicts the immediate aftermath and continuing effects that a nuclear war would have on city.

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I jumped into the film with a little hesitation. How could a film with these topics be considered essentially horror. The film portrays a world in political turmoil and on the brink of catastrophe. It takes an up close and personal look at a small group of people as they experience nuclear annihilation. The film displays a step by step thorough  documentary style and disturbing breakdown of the events with incredible effect.

Threads is a relentless depiction of societal breakdown. I found it particularly potent how the film illustrated the futility of keeping order in a world of destruction and chaos. One arc in the film follows a group of public servants responsible for administering aid and support during and after the event. You can almost taste the fear as they experience the same sense of dread as those outside their fortified bunker. Then as the audience you you have to witness the same ones responsible for allowing the world to continue to move forward meet their slow and painful deaths.

I can only fathom the way kids growing up during the cold war may have felt experiencing a film such as this. As the doomsday clock ticks closer and closer to the brink of annihilation, a drama style documentary releases, preying on everyone’s current fears. The imagery of the film is shocking but ultimately forces you to examine what an event of this magnitude would actually entail. One scene in the film is particularly striking as the bombs begin to fall and all hell breaks loose. A character in the film stares up at the looming mushroom cloud and says in the most defeated and fearful way, “Jesus Christ, they’ve done it.”

After the end of the film, I thought deeply of what I would do in a world like this. I thought of how unprepared personally and as as people we are for something like this. Where would I go? Where would I meet my loved ones?  How could anyone survive in a world where every scrap of food is the difference between life and death. How does a government decide who should live or die with massive food shortages? The tag line for the film is “The closest you’ll ever want to come to nuclear war”. This sentence is pretty much a spot on endorsement. What defines a “scary” film? Threads is a film that gnaws at our inner fears and exposes the ever-present depravity of human nature. If this realistic living nightmare brought to the screen isn’t horror, I don’t know what is.

Review: Threads is a profound film that shouldn’t be missed.

 

 

Twin Peaks (Season 1 & 2) : Review

You go into Twin Peaks expecting weirdness but nothing prepares you for the  downright absurdity that unravels. Twin Peaks takes everything you expect out of a normal television program and turns it on its head. This show is heralded by its community of cult followers and shunned by many critics. Of course, Twin Peaks probably deserves some of these polarizing opinions. Yet no one could have anticipated the scope of Mark Frost and David Lynch’s vision.

Twin Peaks is a show with an ever expanding universe that encapsulates film, books, and even the auditory medium with it’s Grammy nominated “Diane…” tapes. I won’t even get started on how good the musical score is in Twin Peaks.  It’s not a show you can just sit down and jump into during your leisure.  Frost and Lynch make it their job to not let many details get by them in the show. Seemingly irrelevant trivialities that are overlooked by the characters in the show and the audience come back into play later on, sometimes with major implications.

This show wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for Kyle MacLachlan. From the very start, in the critically acclaimed pilot, MacLachlan sets the tone for the eccentric, loving, and superbly charming Dale Cooper. His incredible portrayal of the investigating FBI agent could have held this show up on its own but he is accompanied by an ensemble cast and a list of recurring guest that are just as well acted and well cast. The story of Twin Peaks is hard to exactly summarize without it sounding practically ridiculous but the plot has symbolism and overarching themes that prevail throughout with great effect. Subplots are very much essential and well written to the point where I couldn’t wait to see what was happening at the Diner with Ed and Norma.

Some may say that Twin Peaks  is a show that is being weird for the sake of being weird but I think they should try giving it another chance. Twin peaks is a show that really proves itself every episode.  The season two finale left many things open and questions unanswered but that is all soon to change due to its impending revival. The fact that the renewal date of the show directly relates to the finale shows great promise for the continuity of the series.

I propose at least trying out Twin Peaks. I’m sure you’ll be hooked from the pilot alone and every episode wonder what exactly did you get yourself into. But god damn you won’t be able to pull yourself away. Twin Peaks is a show which is discussed and interpreted fervently by its viewers and community and you need to check it out immediately. Two Cooper thumbs way up!

Gone Girl: Review

“Did you kill your wife?” This is the slogan for the movie and the most important question asked in this film, but all is not what it seems in this mysterious drama. Ignoring misogynistic claims from the community, which are actually  sort of legitimate, I’m going to just focus on whether this film is good or bad. Gone Girl is a thriller that absorbs you in its story. The adaptation from the best selling novel from Gillian Flynn, translates relatively nice onto the big screen.

Thanks to the great directing from David Fincher and the source material. Major plot devices and elements aren’t sprung on you at the last possible moment for shock purposes. Rosamund Pike’s performance as the alleged killer’s wife Amy will certainly be receiving some nods come awards time. Ben Affleck portrayed the alleged killer’s role with a level of charisma and skill that is really great to watch. His performance up to and including the trial is really a a strong and pleasant reminder of what we could possibly be receiving when he masks himself as the caped crusader.

Gone Girl is  considerably dark; a theme and mood that Fincher is becoming synonymous with. Fincher flourishes in this adaptation of this mysterious and gloomy story. He somehow manages to invoke sympathy from multiple angles in this story, a difficult task considering this particular narrative. There are limitations to what can be done with adaptations, such as these. I couldn’t really comment on the faithfulness of the film to the source material but I was left wanting more at the conclusion of the movie.  We are given a fantastic build up and a relatively anticlimactic ending. This I must reiterate has no impact or takes away from the overall film in any way.

I was left satisfied and was thoroughly engrossed throughout. Affleck is truly on a great streak right now. We can only hope that his involvement in the Batman film does not force him out of roles like this. This might be on the last films we see before we can only see him as the Bat. I highly recommend going out to the theater and seeing this or pick it up on Blu-ray!

Fish Tank(2009): Review

In an ocean of independent films about troubled teenagers, Fish Tank truly sets itself apart from the pack. This a movie that I fell in love with progressively as it went on. Fish tank is a film I’m going to shower with praise because I really just can’t any faults in it.The best word to describe certain aspects of the film Fish Tank is authentic.

I sat there watching certain parts of the film, simply admiring how grounded the world seemed. It felt like I was looking outside of a window in  East London and spectating the lives of these characters.Camera work is phenomenal in this film.  The imagery isn’t the usual pretentious indie affair. There’s actual meaning for what the audience is allowed to see. The way the cinematographer selected what he should focus on was genius and allows for some great symbolism.

The director did a great job with the pacing in Fish Tank. A lot of independent movies end abstractly and almost feel completely detached from the rest of film. Fish Tank starts, progresses, and ends in a satisfying manner. It’s helped even further with fantastic writing.  The characters in Fish Tank are extremely well done. The performance by Katie Jarvis as the character Mia was really gripping.The dialogue was very well thought out for all of the characters. The dialogue almost seemed to give off the vibe that it was improvised for some sections of Mia’s scenes. That statement isn’t a criticism though; it’s just a testament to how absorbed I was in the world that Andrea Arnold had directed and penned.

Fish Tank is a forceful  drama that mesmerizes you by doing everything right. It’s a moving  piece of British cinema that works because its characters are convincing. It boasts a fantastic supporting cast and a real winner with a break out performance and debut from Katie Jarvis. I’ll definitely be keeping my eye out for more work from Andrea Arnold. I recommend this film if you like your heart strings being played on.

Carrie (2013) |Review

Sitting through this film was extremely hard. I seriously considered walking out the theater during this abomination but taking into account the ridiculous movie prices nowadays, I decided to sit it out for the  giggles.  This was seriously a movie that shouldn’t have been made.  With so many things wrong with this film, I think I’ll start first with the couple positives of the movie,  then go from there.

Julianne Moore plays the part of the religious and abusive mother of Carrie. Her representation of the devout and somewhat psychotic nature of Margaret White was disturbing and pretty much on par from what I expected from this Stephen King character.  The scenes of self mutilation were particularly disturbing,  Gabriella Wilde actually surprised me in her portrayal of Sue Snell. She didn’t have much dialogue in the film but her character actually did evoke some sympathy from me.

Stephen King said something along the lines of “why remake the film, when the original was so good?”. Why can’t Hollywood let good films and franchises die? This film didn’t add anything  substantial to the previous movie. What we do get is a performance from Chloe Moretz that is overacted and downright awkward. Yeah, shes supposed to be the kid that everyone hates but I haven’t watched a film and shook my head in embarrassment this much, since the first G.I Joe movie released.

The use of special effects was distracting to the story. The flashy Hollywood effects were decidedly unimpressive and pretty much ridiculous at times. It’s sad that the people who made this film focused so much on transforming Carrie into something that the masses could relate to.  More work should have been done on the casting and cinematography.

The direction of the film was pretty sloppy. Portions of the film just fall flat. Queue scenes of Carrie at the library watching a boy type at impossible speeds on a computer. Additions of modern day bullying and technology appear to be an after thought.  Even after everything that happened to her, the buildup to the finale was somewhat of a let down. While watching, I felt  that somehow she was overreacting to the whole situation.

All of this is from a woman who directed Boys Don’t Cry. I’m  pretty much dumbfound at her work here. She managed to take the beloved and tortured character, Carrie, and somehow make her motives seem flawed. I went into the film with a neutral state of mind and left somewhat irritable but mostly disappointed.  All things considered it could have been worse. Lindsay Lohan was actually considered for the role at one point…

Score: 3/10 – You’ll Cringe… for all the wrong reasons.

Dexter: ‘Make Your Own Kind Of Music’ Review

With only three episodes remaining, the end game is in sight for our favorite blood splatter analyst. It’s hard to say what exactly are the ingredients for a good episode of Dexter. The recipe has been changing gradually with the series finale approaching. With the introduction of Vogul this season we’ve seen a pretty subdued Dexter. The process of learning his origins and why he is the man he today, hasn’t exactly allowed the show to be filled with the usual bloodshed and butchery that Dexter is surely capable of.

It appears Dexter is preparing to sette down again . In a sense It was bound to happen. Last episode we saw glimpses of a Dexter finding a new purpose. A purpose in passing the legacy of his father’s code down to another person like him. He wasn’t the perfect mentor but things seemed to fall in line. Yet that story arc was disappointingly axed as we see Zach the young and impressionable disciple of Dexter’s life cut short. This week’s episode focused mainly on Dexter’s pursuit of Casey’s killer and the troubles of Hannah’s fugitive status.

The premise of Hannah hiding out from the law under Dexter’s protection is interesting.   Hannah brings up the idea of Argentina again; A fantasy she use to have where she flees from her problems and lives happily. Dexter and Hannah are forced to take a hard look at their future. They are cooped up in a hotel, evading the feds and authorities. She can’t even go to the store without the thought burning in the back of her mind that just the right person will recognize her and turn her in.  It Makes me wonder if Dexter is really thinking long term at all. That’s pretty much how his life would be if they decide to stay together.

Then you add Harrison into the equation and it complicates things exponentially. Even though their life probably wouldn’t be the same I think Harrison may be the wildcard in all of this. He actually has an attachment to Hannah and if Dexter sees this is really what he wants, they might just go all the way to Argentina. I’m a bit worried about Dexter. I think ultimately their plans to escape together will fail but what could actually happen if they do leave Miami. I always imagined Dexter ending on a somber and somewhat depressing note. Suicide, jail, gurgling in a pool of his own blood. Yes maybe that was a bit too dark but how else could all this realistically end?

Pros 

+ Harrison gets some screen time

+ Hannah and Dexter continuing to bond

+ Vogul and her familial connection possibly end up double teaming Dex

+ Debra considering rejoining the force

Cons 

Vogul is a being portrayed a bit too frail

The ending scene was a bit forced with Vogul

Overall a solid episode but was a bit predictable. Here is to hoping the Brain Surgeon can deliver the thrills in the final episodes.

 Score: 8/10

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Second Opinion- By Shawn Perez

What I found really Interesting about this episode is the thin line of what is ethically right. Dexter is put in a dilemma where he has to apply his code to Vogul’s son. Previously, he gave Zach a second chance but he dislikes the idea when Vogul pleas for Dexter to allow her to get her son and put him in a facility to be rehabilitated. This is where Dexter’s justification of Harry’s Code becomes a little muddled. Do murderers deserve a second chance or at least rehabilitation?

Just when Dexter begins to show the more human side of himself; you start to question it because he doesn’t seem to be motivated to kill because they deserve it anymore but rather he’s just going back to his darker urges.This theme of darkness is hinted at when Vogul says to Dexter; if it was his son, Harrison he would do the same thing. Dexter agrees to silence her but he doesn’t really care. Where Dexter goes from here on out nobody knows. All we can do is wait in eager anticipation for the final episodes of the series.

Elysium: Review

The last summer blockbuster has arrived in Elysium. District 9 director and writer, Neill Blomkamp ‘s continued run in the sci-fi genre provides an enjoyable experience. The setting of the story, is 2154 on a severely over-populated and diseased world. The rich and powerful abandon earth for an man-made utopia named Elysium. Elysium entertains with visceral action sequences and a futuristic and unique story that keeps you on your toes.

Matt Damon who portrays the main character of the film, delivers another good performance in his role as Max Da Costa; a man with nothing to lose. Matt Damon is no rookie to action films. He is widely known for his tough bad boy persona in his roles in the Bourne films. He trained four hours a day to get physically and aesthetically equipped for the film. He certainly shows that he isn’t out of practice in the art of asskickery. The weakest performance in the film came from Wagner Moura who played Spyder; a human smuggler who takes people to Elysium. It wasn’t that he had bad acting necessarily but there was an apparent and jarring language barrier. Just seemed sort of forced and a better option probably would have been to to have him speak his native portuguese/spanish tongue especially considering that Max actually had an Hispanic ethnicity.

The highlight of the film came from Sharlto Copley who plays the vicious and psychotic character C.M Kruger. Copley gives a powerful performance and steals the spotlight from the rest of the veteran cast. Even the cold and calculating Jodie Foster, who plays the secretary of defense of Elysium, doesn’t stand a chance to his ruthless and unhinged personality. He takes command of his role and puts a choke-hold on every scene he is in. Even though he is a mercenary who gets paid for his job he he takes pleasure in it all. Neill Blomkamp might be one of the only people in the film industry to acknowledge his talent so far, but that’s sure to change.

The dense over populated and dirty sprawls of Earth are visually stunning. Wide angle shots of the swarming city of Los Angeles on Earth offer a stark contrast to the perfect and clean-cut nature of Elysium. The use of handycam is present in the film but it doesn’t distract me as much as it did in District 9 . The security/surveillance drones are masterfully crafted and have a sense of realism to them. Their design balances just the right amount of finesse, stiffness, and weight to be believable. The highlight from the cinematography and VFX team had to come from the combat and weaponry of the film. It was a truly a blast to watch the way some of the guns and gadgets worked.

The plot and setting of story takes a look at the hardships of a possible future without proper medical care. This system only affords the wealthy and those with influence. Neill Blomkamp was quoted saying that this story was not an alternate future but it was actually a look at the present. Though the story was probably a bit more action oriented then District 9 its still offers some room for thought even if isn’t as deep as his previous work. All in all it was thoroughly entertaining. It’s the one of the best sci-fi films of the year and I recommend it.