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.

_78584493_threadsscene

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.

 

 

Self/Less: Review

Self/Less is a film which reminds you constantly not to suspend belief. The plot in Self/Less isn’t bad in itself but paired with bad writing/dialogue and a flat performance from Ryan Reynolds it pushes the film from being a promising B-  film to a soulless cash in on tried formulas. An over reliance on action movie tropes ,such as exaggerated military training capabilities, makes Self/Less fall into the category of outright silliness at times.

Characters behave and react to events in illogical and absurd manners. We are treated with a relatively disappointing and weakly written female supporting roles in a post-Mad Max society. A thoroughly unscientific plot attempts to prove that it is grounded but falls painstakingly short and expounds the gullible nature of Ryan’s on-screen “wife” even further. What could have been embraced as a distant undiscovered possibility is squandered by unconvincing narrative.

This movie had an intriguing premise which would be better suited to relish in its obscurity. It focuses on tried and overused devices in Hollywood filmmaking. With a lack of rational characters and motives, Self/Less fumbles while searching for it’s identity. While there is an obvious protagonist and antagonist, there really shouldn’t be. The audience is essentially forced into an opinion which would be fine if there was some sort of reasonable payoff.

We are given a glimpse about a debate on who is really right and wrong but ultimately do not care due to lack of execution. Self/Less isn’t a terrible movie but it certainly isn’t one that treats its audience as though they are remotely intelligent.

Verdict: 4/10 (Skip)

 

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.

Transcendence: Review

Transcendence wanted so bad to prove to you that it wasn’t mediocre. It sports a great cast, great special effects, and  the premise of the story had so much potential that I almost had a semi reading the plot summary. Hollywood needs to learn that you can’t just throw money at a project and expect for the best.

The plot seemed like it was trying to do too much with too little time. A little more focus on the science behind what was happening on screen could have been beneficial. On the other hand, it also could have highlighted how ridiculous everything in this film actually was. We get a ton of run-of-the-mill performances from big name actors but the only real stand out is Paul Bettany. Maybe they should have thrown a couple more smooth talking English actors in the mix to give the illusion that the dialogue wasn’t uninspired.

Sentient artificial intelligence is a topic that I’m very attracted to. I am a great supporter of the Mass Effect series. This is a franchise that really shows how well a story about artificial intelligence can be done. In the universe of Mass Effect Artificial Intelligence is outlawed due to the dangers they present to organic beings.The basic premise of the plot in Transcendence is a bunch of religious nut jobs in an organization called R.I.F.T attack a scientist named William Castor. He is a man who is researching and developing a sentient machine. He is gravely injured and his grieving wife decides to take their research to the next stage by “uploading him”. The plot is a convoluted mess and the actions of the people on screen make little to no sense. In fact I think some characters roles in the film are so insignificant, I ponder why they even made it pass post production.

Wally Pfister who received well deserved attention for his cinematographic  work  on the movie Inception, made his directorial debut on the film. He did a  fair job but to be blunt I think this film needed him more in the cinematography aspect. Characters move around the screen in Transcendence like they don’t know what they are doing or where they are going. It just felt really sloppy and awkward at times to watch.

Transcendence is mostly horrible. Avoid it, unless you like blockbuster mediocrity.

Transformers: Age of Extinction| Review

49523d098eb4f241f236a044a03a7e07547824ccd7a6dd435d8ac86127de0e76_facebook

With the exit of Shia LaBeouf from the franchise, many people, including me, have mixed opinions about this recent addition to transformers. I suppose it helps that they cast Mark Wahlberg to try and fill in that gap of stardom. His role in the movie wasn’t as big as I thought it would be. There wasn’t much character development for most of the main characters of the film. This is what made the first transformers movie so good. I found it hard to feel any sympathy for the humans. Why should I? It felt like these characters were just pushed on the audience. The robots got more face-time than most of the actors. I wonder how much of this film was shot in a green room. It must have been exhausting for the actors.

When the actors did get face time it seemed like they were forcefully saying some cheesy pun or line that made me cringe. I remember one line in particular where the autobots were talking about Optimus Prime and one of the autobots says something along the line of “That’s a leader you follow in the dark” and another autobot replies dramatically “NO… That’s Optimus Prime”. Without thinking I say out loud “NO… that’s Gay”. My buddy and I had a good laugh. It was immature and insensitive but I didn’t care at that moment. It reminded me of that scene in Godzilla where Ken Watanabe dramatically says “ We call Heem GODZEELA”. It was that bad. The movie delivers on a lot of action and great fight scenes but ultimately falls in pacing and seems drawn out. It seemed like a big part of the movie was just watching cars speed down back roads and highways. This movie is definitely rental material for a quick thrill with little substance but if you want a little more than that, you’re better off passing this one up when it hits Blu-ray and dvd.

 

Locke: Review

Skepticism is the first feeling that rose in me upon deciding if I should watch the film Locke. A drama which follow the story of a construction worker in his car. The entirety of the film takes place in his car, with only the main character Ivan Locke ever getting any screen time. How in the world would this movie work? So many things could make this movie be a disappointment but in the end Stephen Knight did an admirable job directing this piece. What kept this movie interesting was the constant flow of dialogue and story.

You’re witnessing the movie as if it’s in real time. You aren’t bombarded with too much artsy overdone cinematography or wide shots. You’re literally being taken on a ride with Ivan. I really enjoyed Ivan’s character. Even though Tom Hardy’s character has done wrong by his wife and he has royally screwed up in his professional career, he goes over and beyond to make things right. The feelings of empathy I felt for his character actually surprised me. I know he did some things that would be very hard to be forgiven but I’d have to actually think about how I would feel if I was him. Tom Hardy really makes you want to forgive him. His actions can’t be undone but he hopes that he can redeem himself and prove to himself  and possible to his father that he  is a good man.

A pretty  good indication of acting quality can be derived from how well an actor can bring forth intense feelings without any other real actors/actresses to physically relate to. This was  a great job for  Tom Hardy and a great casting decision as well.  Just him,the camera, and raw emotion. Movies like this do wonders for actors. Of course he could do super fun and high paying jobs like being Bane in the Dark Knight but taking a role in a independent film like Locke is just as important. It’s much more challenging and rewarding. Locke actually exceeded my expectations. I found myself almost cheering for the cheating British lad and that says a lot. Or maybe it says nothing at all. Maybe I’m just brainwashed after all the film business is an industry dominated by male protaganist who can literally get away with anything. All I know is, it was really interesting to watch and I’d go as far as recommending it.

The Counselor: Review

From the writer who brought us The Road and No Country for Old Men, comes the tale of a naive lawyer who tries his hand in the dangerous but lucrative business of drug running. This is a film that had sparks of brilliance but ultimately failed due to having a  plot that doesn’t effectively translate to the big screen.

The screenplay is full of witty and intelligent dialogue. Sadly it was hard to suspend belief while watching because this attribute applied to almost  every character. Almost  every member of the cast was too smart for there own good, It was bit hard to follow the narrative when you are bombarded with long winded conversations. These extended scenes of dialogue paid off at times but on the other hand it just seems as if the characters were just going off on tangents. This really threw off the pacing of the film.

The focus on the characters of the story is trademark Ridley Scott. His direction in the film really allowed for the development of some interesting personalities. We are treated with some some impressive lighting and camera work. The dark scenes set in mexico offer a great visual and atmospheric contrast to what is happening under the surface.

The movie sports an impressive and ensemble Cast. Javier Bardem, is always an interesting guy to watch on screen. Bardem plays the role of Reiner; a drug dealer who invites the counselor in on some of the action.  He  brings a unique flare to the characters he portrays. He exudes an exotic essence of culture and his personality was one of the more memorable in the film. And he also manages to bring to the film what is becoming a signature attribute of his; his knack for having the wildest hair-dos. The most technically impressive acting which shouldn’t come as a surprise, was the performance from Michael Fassbender. He has an ability to portray some varied and powerful emotions.

Brad Pitt gives a good performance but I think he needs to work on a new accent because it seems like its been dragging on for a couple films now. One of  the biggest surprises for me though comes from the casting decision of Cameron Diaz as the antagonist. I have to give it to Diaz. She really portrayed the cold and calculating girlfriend of Reiner expertly. My blood was boiling just about every moment I saw her on the screen. She might be known for more lighter  roles but she definitely has more potential then being the usual pretty face in romcoms.

The Counselor is a clever and sexy drama but probably won’t provide enough thrills to keep the average movie-goers attention. The film has moments of suspense but it is overshadowed by some bad decisions in its pacing. With all the talent attached to this film Its surprising this film wasn’t better. The pieces just didn’t fall together. The dialogue occasionally felt like the characters were showing off. The story was convoluted and ended in a somewhat abrupt manner. The Counselor was saved by splashes of humor, violence, and some utterly superb writing for most of the dialogue. In the end, I’d say definitely pass on this one until the Blu-ray or digital release.

Score: 6/10

American Horror Story: The Replacements | Review

It’s becoming very clear why American Horror story has been getting its record ratings, since the show premiered this fall. This week’s episode has it all; incest, brutal scenes of violence, bestiality, and betrayal. Ryan Murphy is showing he isn’t afraid to tackle some controversial topics. Things are beginning to heat up in the coven as the girls are becoming more in tuned with their powers.

One of the interesting prospects of the previous episode of AHS was Cordelia’s fertility issues. Cordelia had already tried everything from natural remedies to black magic rituals. This led to Cordelia resorting to asking for help from her rival tribe. The show gave us a glimpse at the ritual she would have to perform with Tibitia- the leader the rival clan. Cinematography of the Tibitia ritual was a treat to watch.  The camera work throughout this show is unique because it is constantly changing. Overhead cameras, gold fish eyed views, close ups, slanted angles, and other dynamic camera techniques give the viewer a wide and varied perspective of whats going on.

Much like the  last season on AHS, ,  Sarah Paulson plays another troubled and struggling character. Cordelia is dealt a very bad hand and must play it out to the end. She finds herself stuck in between a feud between Tibitia and Fiona . Her goal of bearing a child is being challenged. Her performance is solid as usual. We’re looking forward to seeing more from her in the upcoming episodes.

Meanwhile, Madame Lalaurie must deal with adapting with modern day society and facing her past demons. This all offers some much needed comedic relief. Since the premiere of the show there has been a drastic role reversal for her character. We’ve seen her ability to portray a sadist and now we are seeing how she can easily meld into a more tortured character.

Kyle has more air time this week. Evan Peters manages to show some emotion playing Kyle, even though he’s a mute Frankenstein. Zoe Benson must deal with the resurrection of Kyle and his emergence back into society. This proves to be quite difficult. I hope Kyle regains his humanity because the way he is now is pretty difficult to imagine where the story will leave him. Misty Day also has an appearance which is welcoming. I always smile when I see her character. I don’t know why I like her so much. I think it because she really conveys a carefree soul, even through all the things she’s been through.

Jessica Lange, is superb as usual. Too be blunt she is this show. She really takes demand of the screen. Lange takes on her character Fiona’s flaws and strengths and transforms them into an acting spectacle. Fiona battles with her mortality and becomes a surprise mentor for the ladies of the house. The episode ends on a note which will probably upset some.

Overall, this episode was supreme…(See what I did there?)

9.5/10

What did you think?