Review : A Quiet Place

“A family is forced to live in silence while hiding from creatures that hunt by sound.”

A Quiet Place not only stars John Krasinki, but is directed by him also as he acts alongside Emily Blunt, and the very talented Regan and Marcus Abbott. It’s seems almost ironic that there is so much to say about a film that has hardly any spoken lines but if any movie right now deserves to be talked about, it’s this one. This movie does so many things right, and honestly, it doesn’t really do anything wrong. When I was in school, I was once given a project to make a short film, that was silent, no sound at all. It’s one of those things designed to teach you about visual storytelling, the main principle of which is, don’t say, show. Taking a concept like that, and ramping it up to the max, A Quiet Place, places most of its storytelling, character development, and emotional evolution in the hands of visual storytelling. It’s uses ambient sound to a masterful degree, while always keeping its eye on colour, framing, and pacing. This movie is a brisk 90 minutes, and that’s because there is not a drop on fat on it, allowing it to not waste a single frame or moment. When you add in the handicap of not having any real verbal or audible exposition, this movie is forced almost to use every inch of screen, to further that story. The cast here is small, really just 4 people, but they are all fantastic, and they are able to deliver a real emotional heft, without nearly a word being uttered. The movie also uses sound and the lack there of when necessary, to keep a level of tension, that is so high strung, for most of this movie you will be unable to look away for fear of missing something. Ever so often, there is s movie like A Quiet Place. Made for only 17 million, already more than clearing its profit targets, while also genuinely delivering a real go to the cinema worthwhile experience. This is a small movie in its scale, but it’s massive in its ambition, and it easily checks every box of film making. All in all, A Quiet Place is a fantastic sci-fi, horror, thriller, amazing ride that hooks you from the first frame, to the last. Movies like this are what people go to the cinema for, and I hope it makes all the money in the world.

Review Score : 9.5 out of 10

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Review : Red Sparrow

“Ballerina Dominika Egorova is recruited to ‘Sparrow School,’ a Russian intelligence service where she is forced to use her body as a weapon. Her first mission, targeting a C.I.A. agent, threatens to unravel the security of both nations.”

So all the coloured animal name comparisons aside, there is something intriguing about the almost stereotyped role now of the Russian femme fatale, which is exactly what Jennifer Lawrence is meant to be in Red Sparrow. She’s beautiful, she’s sexy, she’s dangerous, all are true, but none are anything we haven’t seen before. The way Red Sparrow seeks to differentiate itself is with the serious nature in which it handles Its subject matter. Sexual coercion, mental manipulation, brutal torture, cold blooded murder, these are all tools of the spy trade, and more so tools for story telling in this movie. They never shy away from going there with characters and they never shy away from showing you it. There is a story here too, and it’s as twisting and turning as you’d expect. This is where Lawrence and her cast mates do their best also, a lot of the acting is very subtle and simply hints at the deeper narratives than being to overt. It does fall victim to one of the biggest tropes used in movies like these, but to be fair, it’s sets it up more competently than many of its counterparts. I think however the ultimate failing of this movie, is that it really lacks memorability. When things happen it’s a nice moment, but they’re aren’t any that you would remember after leaving the cinema really. Even during the movie, there were parts that I had already forgotten happened in this movie, just 30 minutes earlier. So even with the good that there is here, the movie as a whole feels flat, and maybe a bit soulless. This movie also does that thing were it makes its characters outside the main caste feel like amateurs at their jobs, which can be really frustrating. All in all, if you’re a fan of espionage thrillers, there is enjoyment to be found in Red Sparrow, but if your just looking for a movie to catch for the evening, you might want something a little more fun.

Review Score : 6.5 out of 10

Review : All the Money in the World

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“The story of the kidnapping of 16-year-old John Paul Getty III and the desperate attempt by his devoted mother to convince his billionaire grandfather Jean Paul Getty to pay the ransom.”

So straight to the controversy, yes Kevin Spacey was in this movie, no he isn’t anymore (not really anyway), and no you really wouldn’t ever know he was replaced if they hadn’t told us. That aside, this is a really interesting movie. On the one hand, I have to state my bias, I really love Ridley Scott, and so I really love the way he directs movies, so when I now say that I really loved the way this movie is directed, I feel like I have to mention it. I still think bias aside though, that this is still a very well directed movie. This movie also tells a really interesting story, but it also does an equally good job of showing the kinds of peoples it takes for these kinds of situations to arise. We truly get into the mind set of these people, and the mind set that lead them to those points in their lives, but we don’t lose any of the story telling to get that character development. We also get some great character acting all around. Christopher Plummer, for having to come in where he did, and shoot the amount he had to based on his screen time in the movie, his performance is spectacular. The surprise really here I think would have been Mark Wahlberg, but after seeing his performance in Deepwater Horizon, I expect this level of acting from Marky Mark since then honestly. All in all, All the Money in the World is really interesting movie, with great directing and acting, even if its just missing that one layer that would take it over the top into one of the best of the year.

Review Score : 8.5 out of 10

Review : The Snowman


“Detective Harry Hole investigates the disappearance of a woman whose pink scarf is found wrapped around an ominous-looking snowman.”

The Snowman is a strange movie. It’s directed by Tomas Alfredson, and stars Michael Fassbender as an alcoholic detective, who gets drawn into a murderuous, conspiracy plot. This movie has a surprisingly big name cast, but other than Rebecca Ferguson, none of those actors have much of a role here really. It’s listed under 5 genres, and it really does run the gamut here from crime, to mystery, and even horror and thriller. The real problem with this movie however, is that instead of happening to be all those things, it tries to be at least a little of each across the movies 2 hour run time. And that leads to a few different issues. For one, this movie dangles a few too many threads for us to pull on, because it never gets the opportunity to address all, or wrap up all, so many of them just come of as conspiracy fodder, and wasted sub plots. At least one third of this movie, consists of an entire kind of high power prostitution ring sub plot, that both went no where, and save for one tiny connector, would have been totally irrelevant to the movie on a whole. And that trend carries over in the movies pace and tone. It’s constantly up and down, and constantly trying to be a horror one minute, a thriller the next, a crime drama the next, and it just doesn’t work. Even the main plot here, comes across as convoluted, and like it constantly was trying to throw the viewer, but doing so with little regard to make sure it still made sense in the end. I mean Fassbender and Ferguson are fine here, I didnt really expect anything either ground breaking or terrible from them, and their supporting cast is also fine in the limited role they do have. All in all, The Snowman feels like a lot of wasted potential, much of which I think came down to the directing, and the adaptation of this film from its novel inspiration.

Review Score : 5 out of 10

Review : Mother!


“A couple’s relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence.”

So you might read that, and think you know what you’re getting yourself into, but boy would you be wrong. Mother is a metaphor, and I mean that in the most literal way possible, this movie is literally a metaphor, wrapped up in another metaphor, and a simile, and everything else literary and none literal. It stars Jennifer Lawrence as “Mother”, and Javier Bardem as her spouse, and in that, that’s as straight forward as this movie ever is or gets. Darren Aronofsky is known by now for his dream like storytelling and visuals, that he combines with very specific themes, that he almost always plays metaphorically, and leaves much to the audience to dissect and understand. This movie is no different, and is probably his most Aronofsky movie ever. To be fair, this movie isn’t for everyone, hell its probably not for most people, and it’s portrayal of certain ideas and concepts might really rub a lot of people the wrong way. This movie can come across as very voyeuristic, and almost pornographic in its presentation, and given the relationship between director and lead actress here, I think that makes sense. Mother requires a lot from Lawrence, and she gives it her all, and she is excellent in her role. A role however, that I think took a lot of trust and confidence in her director, and I think their personal relationship helped that. There is so much I can say about this movie, in breaking it down, dissecting and discussing it, but I’m never been one for spoilers, and I think a big part of this movie is seeing it, and being confronted by it, and then having to deal with that experience, and formulate an opinion from that. It also feels impossible to score this film, as for all of those that won’t appreciate what was attempted here, would probably laugh this movie off, so I feel like I have to score it based on those who are actually willing enough to try it. If all of this sounds a bit too out there for you, then maybe Mother isn’t for you, but if you like experimental, artistic, inventive, and out there stories and story telling, then give Mother a look.

Review Score : 8.5 out of 10

Review : Pendulum 


“When Luther, the CEO of a major software company, realizes he has a stalker intent on doing him harm, he calls in Ryan, an old friend and former soldier. Ryan, who is battling with post-traumatic stress disorder, tracks down the stalker and is forced to kill him, but in so doing, makes a shocking discovery.”

Pendulum is a Trinidad made film, staring Jovon Browne, Stephen Hadeed Jr., and Anokha Baptiste. It’s directed by Michael Rochford, and was fully filmed in Trinidad and Tobago. If I had to describe this movie in one word, to quote a friend of mine from his wedding speech, “Problems!”. Visually and stylistically, Pendulum swings back and forth from well done, good looking shots, to really uninspired, seemingly lazy film making. There are even times when I would notice some pretty visible clipping of footage, or some mistakes that should have been noticed like a scene where one character is holding an empty beer of one brand, and when someone walks across the frame, he then has a full beer of a different brand in his hand. That seeming lack of attention to details plagues this entire film. Hadeed Jr. and De Lancey are good when they’re given enough to work with, but Browne who plays the title role here really lacks the on screen charisma, to make you connect with his character. And as we’re on the topic of problems, there are many, but I’m going to talk in-depth about the worst one. Now I’ve had this issue with local films before, the sound, sound editing, sound mixing, and to a lesser extent the score, are serious issues here. The entire movie seemed to have had its dialogue ADRed, but it’s done so poorly that it constantly is out of time with characters lips, there is no spatial awareness to it, it’s all flat, it comes and goes at points, there are even time where people say things, and you hear nothing. The rest of the audio here is also like this. Sound effects come and go, they don’t match up with to what we see on screen, they’re too loud or too soft, or they just don’t match with at they’re attached to. At more than one point in this movie, the audio simply cuts out, and abruptly pops back up a few seconds later. I don’t have any issues with the score musically, it just seemed underwhelming, which could be due to it’s often understated levels. The title sequence at the start of this movie is good, but it’s preceded by a random sequence of credits that are subsequently rendered useless by the actual title credits. The fight scenes are sloppy, the effects are barebones, and when the cinematography goes off, it goes way off. The story only becomes coherent (but never believable) when characters literally spell out everything that actually happened, in a narrative that tries to be too ckever for its own good. All in all, what Pendulum feels like, is a student movie that was meant to be done by a certain time, wasn’t, but had to be handed in anyway. I never want to be so negative on films from my home, but I feel like I have to hold them to the same standard I hold all movies.

Review Score : 2 out of 10

Review : Blade Runner 2049


“A young blade runner’s discovery of a long-buried secret leads him to track down former blade runner Rick Deckard, who’s been missing for thirty years.”

1982 gave us one the most influential science fiction movies of all time in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. 35 years later, we have the combined vision of Scott, but this time helmed by Arrival’s Denis Villeneuve, with story by Hampton Fancher. It picks up 30 years after the events of the first movie, this time lead by Ryan Gosling as a LAPD Blade Runner charged with retiring older lost models of replicants. There is a lot more story here, but honestly, this movie is filled with so many unspoiled surprises, that I can’t really talk about much of it without giving a lot away. What I can say however, is that this movie is possibly the prettiest, most beautifully shot movie I maybe have ever seen, and that’s a real impressive feat given the general bleakness of this future landscape. That bleakness however, does allow the movie a kind of minimalist aesthetic that pairs brilliantly with the analog future design of everything here. It’s like they took what was done in the first movie, and instead of just going more into the future, they went into the future of what they had already created which allows 2049 to match perfectly with the original, but still feel new. That visual base is then stacked even higher by the acting here. Ryan Gosling, Ana de Armas, and the rest of the cast here are all spectacular. No one does understated like Gosling, and he plays this complex role to a Tee. He also cuts a great silhouette, and fits perfectly into this world. Even the more cameo roles here are so organic that you just believe these characters have been living and breathing in this world for years. Blade Runner 2049 is one of those movies, that might not be fully appreciated till years from now, for its contribution to the genre and film making. As slow of a burn as it is, it’s combination of cinematography, score, and subtle acting means you’re never wanting for more over this 2 + hour journey. Any fan of the original should be more than happy with this long awaited second outing, and even those who have never seen the original, should find a lot to like here.

Review Score : 9.5 out of 10