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

Advertisements

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

Review : American Made

amer-made-poster-large

“A pilot lands work for the CIA and as a drug runner in the south during the 1980s.”

This is one of those movies, where at best, its a Wolf of Wall Street, and at worst they just come off as unauthentic, cheesy, and boring. This movie is pretty much in the middle. It stats Tom Cruise, who as always, is totally committed to his role and plays it very well, the movie on a whole however, is what maybe holds it all back. Its not to say that this movie isn’t good, or isn’t entertaining. Its certainly funny enough, dramatic enough, the acting is good enough, its all enough yes, but the real issue is that its just enough. Nothing here is special, nothing here takes this movie into a category above, where movies like the Wold of Wall Street live. It gets kind of bogged down in mediocrity that make it great probably for an at home stream, but nothing about it says come see me in the cinema. Also, a lot happens here, and it all needs to happen, but it can almost feel a bit overwhelming sometimes, as the movie often needs to keep up a bit of a break neck pace to get from where the story starts, to where the movie ends it. All in all though, this movie is two things combined. Its Tom Cruise being the consummate professional he always is (the man is never bad EVER), mixed with a rest of movie thats good but not great, and I feel like with this story and talent, it could have been GREAT.

Review Score : 7.5 out of 10

TTFF 17 Review

Today we really got some good ones!

CHOCOLATE-3-1200x675

Chocolate (Short\Dominican Republic 2016)

“Yan gets stood up by his date, and ends up meeting his friend at a local club. To get Yan out of his distress, his friend challenges him to talk to a girl who is standing across from them. Yan uses different tactics to try to lure her.”

Chocolate is one of those shorts, that gets inside you, and sticks with you. Its only 11 minutes long, but it has everything a great story needs. It has compelling characters (even with enough back story that you feel for them and where they are in life), it has beautiful story telling, its funny, its emotional, and it manages all this in just 11 minutes. I can’t say too much about it, as it is only 11 minutes and there is only so much of its story I could tell without telling it in its entirety, but this truly is a master class in telling  a story with no fat on it. There isn’t a wasted shot, frame, or sound here, and thats from the start to the very, very end. If you can see this short film anywhere at any time, please take the time and give it a look.

Review Score : 10 out of 10

MV5BYjNlMDI5ZWEtOWYyYy00NjRmLTk2NWEtNDI0MzE3NTJjNjQ3XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMjQ3NzUxOTM@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,695,1000_AL_

Nadie Nos Mira: Nobody’s Watching (Argentina 2017)

“Nico is a rising young actor in his native Argentina, but he wants to make it big in America —  and he’s running from some demons at home. He has some good friends in the US, and success dangles almost within reach as he makes some promising contacts. But unless those promises are fulfilled, he’s just another illegal immigrant struggling to make not only a living, but also to find a sense of home.”

Nadie Nos Mira or Nobody’s Watching is a hard film to watch. Its not that its not good, its very good, its just maybe a little too real. Like a short film I watched yesterday, this movie also has a big theme of “home”, and to a lesser extent family. It tells the story of a well known actor in his native Argentina, who for reasons I won’t spoil, leaves to pursue a greater career in New York. A big part of this movie is also the LGBT community, and the impact that still has on so many people across so many facets of life. This movie has a real, “real” feel to it, it really makes you feel like you’re right next to these characters in an almost voyeuristic way, which is part of the reason this movie is so hard to watch. There are some very intense scenes in this movie also, and they all fell warranted and earned, and not just done for shock value. This movie is very slow though, it almost trudges along, slowly pulling you through the snow to and ending you hope is better for these characters than the lives they currently live.

Review Score : 8 out of 10

Cartel-de-Melocotones.

Melocotones: Peaches (Dominican Republic 2015)

“For their anniversary, Diego has planned a repeat of his first weekend with his girlfriend Laura. In fact he’s planned it too exactly, and Laura is bored by his lack of spontaneity. Luckily Diego, an inventor, can rejig his Sexotron machine, travel back in time and make everything different. Filmed in Technicolor hues, this sex/science-fiction comedy has a 1950s look, and the gadgets have a distinctly antiquated air. So Diego’s scientific experiments have some unexpected and hilarious outcomes.”

Honestly, Peaches (Melocotones), is one of those movies that you almost have to see to believe, and if you have any sense of humor at all, you will be so glad you did watch it. The film takes a lot of its inspiration from Technicolor, and 1980’s cinema, down to the wonderful synths throughout the entire score of this movie. From the jump, this movie shows you that it doesn’t take itself very seriously, and you shouldn’t either. Even though this movie is done is very serious way, its shot, edited, and everything else perfectly, and it knows everything its doing because its doing them on purpose. Even in the story itself, which takes what would be a very serious sci-fi- premise, and flips it on its head with a level of absurdity that juxtaposes the traditional tropes of such a genre. Peaches is one of those movies that doesn’t need to much to be said about it, it just needs to be seen, and I highly recommend seeing it.

Review Score : 9 out of 10

TTFF 17 Review


Salty Dog (Short\Trinidad 2017)

“When the rug is pulled from under his feet, a savvy old salt must navigate the stormy waters of his relationship with his estranged son. As tensions flare between the two, the son checks out retirement homes for his father”

Salty Dog is a short film written and directed by Oliver Milne, and features a cast, crew, and locations all related to the twin island republic of Trinidad and Tobago. As a short, it’s actually quite ambitious in its intended scope, and the narrative it looks to tell. Deep down I think this movie is really about homes, and the things that make them such. We see through the rocky relationship between this father and son that home for each has become two separate worlds, even if they both might be more similar than either would like to admit. You get a great sense also for the difference in lives each man has been leading, even in this shortened form of story telling. By the end, you get the idea that home isn’t always to same to everyone, and that maybe and old dog can learn some new tricks. Salty Dog is nicely done bit of story telling, with enough heart and humor to fill a movie with a longer run time.

Review Score : 7.5 out of 10


King of Peking (China 2017)

“When home entertainment enters the market in 90s Beijing, a former projectionist ropes his young son into starting their own pirate movie company, but easy money comes with its own price tag.”

King of Peking is one of those movies made to make you feel warm inside. It plays on two major fronts, our love of movies, and our love for family. You feel for Big Wong and Little Wong throughout their ups and downs. They have a strong and great connection as father and son, and that connection is built on a mutual love of cinema. And we really do get to see that love, over the 5 chapters of the movie, and we really feel like we become part of the family. It reminds all of us that love film, that through right and wrong, through thick and thin, we will always have our favorite movies, and the connections we make from them. Shot with a real warmth, paced really nicely, and written super smartly, King of Peking is one of those movies that make you smile, and want to go home and hug your parents for all they’ve done for you.

Review Score : 8 out of 10