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 : 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

TTFF 17 Review


Moko Jumbie (Trinidad 2017)

“Asha flies in from England to visit her old family home. But there’s trouble in paradise. Her aunt Mary doesn’t like her associating with their Afro-Trinidadian neighbours. Then Asha begins to realise this abandoned seaside coconut estate is not as tranquil as it looks. Trinidadian-American director Anderson’s striking imagery mingles memory and imagining, the mundane and the supernatural, in examining family, race, class, and the quest for home.”

Written and directed by Vashti Anderson, Moko Jumbie stars Vanna Girod in the title role of Asha. Those are the things I know for sure about this movie, the rest is a bit of speculation. I say that because, honestly, I’m not 100% sure what happened in this movie. It plays out very Terrence Malick esk, where it’s extremely visual, and they are good visuals, but sometimes those visuals, and the narrative don’t over lap. This movie is also about decision making, especially on the part of the film makers here, as many of the creative decisions, didn’t fit what I was seeing. A large component of this film is folk lore, and the myths and legends that came over to Trinidad and Tobago on boasts so long ago. Vanna does a great job of doing what I imagine she was directed to do, and she manages to keep a level a nuance to her performance, especially in the more quiet moments of the film. The problem is when things happen in this movie, they seem to happen almost inexplicably. One moment we have this going on, the next minute there is literally a coup. This decision making, this maybe resolution of style over substance can be a bit jarring, and makes things feel very disjointed. And while this could simply be labeled as more “experimental”, that alone can’t be a crutch to lean on. I feel like Moko Jumbie, as a script or as an idea, was something subtle, something nuanced, but the execution and final product, is muddied and murky. Moko Jumbie stands tallest on the performed of its lead and its visuals, but is let down by its creative decision making, and lack of coherence.

Review Score : 5 out of 10

Visibly Me (Short/Trinidad 2017)

“Visibly me tells the story of a 47 year old woman with no partner and no children who finds herself invisible and feels she has no choice but to find the antidote.”

Visibly Me is listed as a documentary short, but it plays out like a narrative, and I feel like a narrative is what this short really wants to be. It uses mostly voice over to tell the authors story, and to give meaning to what we see on screen. The idea of being invisible is a real big theme here, and it’s shown in the visuals, and the way this short is shot. Most of the angles and compositions have to do with the idea of being right there, but still not being scene, and it that regard they are successful. Where I think there are issues are when these concepts conflict, which I why I say this should have been an actual story, something we could identify with. If this short was made only to appeal to a very specific audience then that’s fine, but I feel like it’s meant to spread a message, over being a closed loop. Even at 13 minutes long, this short feels much longer, as it often seemed to wander seemingly aimlessly very often. All in all I think what we have here is a clash, a clash of styles, a clash of ideas, and a clash of methodology.

Review Score : 4 out of 10

Review : Shot Caller

shot-caller-poster

“A newly released prison gangster is forced by the leaders of his gang to orchestrate a major crime with a brutal rival gang on the streets of Southern California.”

Shot Caller is written and directed by Ricin’s Roman Waugh, and stars the one and only Jamie Lannister himself (Nikolaj CosterWaldau) in the title role here as Jacob aka Money. What Shot Caller really is though, is a character study, and its in that aspect that the movie shines brightest. The movie itself is filled with a surprising cast list, with actors like Coster-Waldau, Lake Bell, Jon Bernthal, Benjamin Bratt, and more This is actually the strongest aspect of this movie as it does serve up some great moments for these actors to really give some good performances. Bernthal and Coster-Waldau are by far the best, but they also have two of the biggest roles here, and this movie really does allow for a great character arch for Nikolaj’s Jacob. The way he’s able to change his character from mild mannered business man, to gang leading Money, not just in his language and actions, but in his physicality and mannerisms is extremely well done. Where the movie falls apart a bit is in the writing, and in some of the characters who just aren’t brought to life as well by the actors portraying them. For a movie that deals with certain things in a very subtle and nuanced way, its strange at times to see some really over written and thus over acted moments that pull you out of the drama at points. The real meat of this movie, is most of the cast being able to stretch their acting legs and give some great performances, even amidst some bad acting and some some bad writing. All in all, Shot Caller is a movie worth seeing, especially since it can be seen streamed at home, and would be a great solid choice for a good night home movie.

Review Score : 7 out of 10

Review : The Beguiled 

“The unexpected arrival of a wounded Union soldier at a girls’ school in Virginia during the American Civil War leads to jealousy and betrayal.”

The Beguiled 2017, not the be confused with the 1971 movie of the same name, is the latest from Sofia Coppola. The movie even won nabbed her the coveted best director award at the Cannes Film Festival. And honestly, that shows because this movie is really a directors showcase. That’s not to say that there isn’t great acting on display here, there certainly is, but this movie is all about directing and directorial choices. The first two acts of this movie as completely soundless, in terms of musical score or the like, all we get is either dialogue or something like birds chirping. When we get to the third act however, the reason for that decision becomes clear as when the first horn blast hits us, it really rocks us, in a way it wouldn’t have if we had it all movie. And that really is the corner stone of this movie in its strong, purposeful, and definite directing choices. It’s also a really hard movie to review in terms of trying to rate it. It deliberately paced, but it’s also only about 90 minutes. It has distinct directing, but great subtle acting (most of the time). This is a movie I think that’s really made for certain people. Some people will see this movie as boring and a bit silly, others will see it as tense, suspenseful and unnerving, and in there somewhere is this movie. All in all, The Beguiled is a real showcase of directing, with enough great acting on there too for good measure, and a story that’s definitely something else.

Review Score : 8 out of 10

Review : Alien – Covenant

IMG_20170323_0950491

“The crew of a colony ship, bound for a remote planet, discover an uncharted paradise with a threat beyond their imagination, and must attempt a harrowing escape.”

5 movies deep into the franchise that Ridley Scott himself started, comes the sixth and newest installment in Alien: Covenant. Taking the franchise back to basics in many ways, but keeping the perks of modern day film making, Covenant manages to return he chills and thrills of the more horror based movies that started this all off. This movie definitely has its suspense, tension, and terror going off on full blast. There is more here though, as the movie being a prequel, does a lot more to add and build upon the mythology of the aliens themselves and there coming to be. The real stand out here though, is Michael Fassbender. He plays two roles here, and he plays them perfectly right down to a T. His portrayal of the androids, or synthetics as they are known here in David and Walter, allowed for him to play essentially the same character, but worlds apart that allow them to be truly unique and identifiable. Of course this wouldn’t be an Alien movie without the titular Xenomorphs, and they are here, and they are frightening. We also get a few different variations on them, but we do get the most from the Giger monster we know and are scared as hell off. you do kind of need to have seen prometheus for this movie to make the most sense, and for you to get the full impact of the story, but if you don’t need to go super deep, you can see this movie by itself. All in all, if you’re looking for a deep and interesting look at the beggings of the Alien franchise, or if you just want to see a more than well done space horror, then look no further.

Review Score : 7 out of 10