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Competent atmospheric occult horror, a stone toss away from being something great
By no means a bad film, Pyewacket follows in the vein of more subtle horror entries like the VVitch or a watered down Ari Aster masterpiece. Pyewacket has a lot going for it: while there's an overall sheen of Hollywood generic horror film, there are also plenty of little moments that make it stand out. None of the characters are particularly interesting, bits of dialog or moments of teenage awkwardness feel bland, but somewhat true to the spirit of the moments they try to capture. A few shots with interesting camera work scattered throughout. Probably the strongest element is the way the horror is represented. Theyve used CGI sparingly, and in the right way, playing to the strengths of what can and cannot be represented well without breaking immersion. The result is some truly chilling (in a literal sense) scenes. So all in all, I would say this is an accomplished slow burn chiller. The plot is simple, but executed very well and doesnt leave too much to be desired. The only thing missing is just a little more innovation or flair in either the characters themselves, or the plot. I can't help but think this was close to being another modern cult classic- it just didnt quite have the personality to fill that order though. Worth a view, and this is definitely a director to keep an eye on.
Criminally underlooked, fantastically human, intimately bizarre, darkly hilarious
What a unique film. "Whitewash" is one of those rare spectacles that transcends it's budget, it's flaws, and shortcomings to be something that it truly fantastic. Its probably on paper more like a 7/10, but it was all I could do not to rate it a full 10. I guess I had to take one star off for some of the more extreme 'plot holes' if they're to be called that.
I'd imagine it to be a galvanizing film one way or another, some of the lower ratings offer fair clique, but at risk of sound pretentious I think many of them got bogged down on some of the larger plot flaws you have to overlook when enjoying to story. It's also one of those films where no details should really be given away before hand, it's best to go in blind. Ordinarily I'll admit I am one to nitpick, but one thing you can give whitewash credit for is that it doesn't seem to take itself to seriously even though it has some very serious moments and themes. It's a return to traditional black comedy, something more akin a hybrid of Fargo meets the tell tale heart...written by a less depressive David mamet than Shaun of the dead.
In my opinion it's sad to see this not get the love it deserves, it's really well written piece with solid performances all around. Simple settings and deeply introspective in ways you might not imagine from the tone. Quite literally laughing hard out loud one moment, thinking solemnly 5 seconds later. More people should see this.
The Order (2019)
I hate myself for liking it, but everyone needs a guilty pleasure 7/10
Well as of this review the order has been cancelled, so I might as well come clean. As an early 30's male I stumbled onto this and was cringing pretty hard at some of the forced 'gen-z relatable dialog' in the first episode. But, something compelled me to watch the second episode. Here I am about 3 days later mourning the loss of the show. For all the campy/cringy dialog, and for everything it does in an eye-rolling cliche'd pop culture infused manner, the order does at least one thing right. Perhaps, it's the no-holds barred killing off of characters in surprisingly gruesome ways (ala-game of thrones style) that leaves you saying "oh dang they just killed so and so? And they're not coming back to life? Woah..." Perhaps its the shock value of the surprisingly risqué joke. Perhaps its a lot of things, but one thing that the order does particularly right is that someone say down and wrote an actual plot. Thats right, there's an actual world there, a mythos that's referenced, foreshadowed, and drives character choices. It's not just random magic with pieced together dues ex machina's that show up at the end of each episode. Problems remain unresolved. Characters are shallow, but their actions make sense and are consistent.
I guess evidence it's a good show that's more than good looking young actors playing dress up by the fact it was cancelled so early on.
So is it worth a watch? I'm not one for cliffhangers and unresolved endings. Unfortunately season 2 resolves...some things, many things but starts a few major threads for the I'll fated never to be had season 3. Even given that I'd say, yeah you know what the ride was fun, and for all the cringy moments (there's plenty to be had) the show ultimately doesn't take itself too seriously. Netflix's weird obsession with representing every population in existence (but still somehow in embarrassingly stereotypical and shallow ways) is present but only at a dull roar and doesn't irk one too much. All in all I liken it to a more bawdy Sabrina the teenage witch (MJH version) with tighter storylines. The costuming is a tad on the cheap side, but CG effects are used sparingly and are appropriately well done. Some practical effects thrown in look nice and the Gore is surprisingly detailed and well executed. Characters are hammy, but for the most part well acted. It becomes especially apparent as the show goes on (and characters are put in various situations where they have to pretend to be possessed or under the affects of magic) that pretty much everyone on cast is actually a decent actor. Looking back if you take it for what it is, there really isn't all too much to take fault with. So, have an open mind, roll your eyes when Netflix does it's weird mal-placed social justice injections, and laugh when you can. All in all, ranking it for what it was, solid 7/10. Kept me watching and engaged till the end.
What Keeps You Alive (2018)
Flawed but respectable thriller, ultimately damaged the most by its unnecessary ending
What keeps you alive is for the most part a decent thriller. Nice setting. Grading is good. It's shot/lit nicely, and doesn't look cheap or amateurish in production. The story isn't anything terribly new, but the deployment and characters behind it are original. I am undecided how I feel about the acting, I think for the most part it was actually very good. Where it starts to fall flat is in the actual development of the characters. Its gets a little contrived in places, as does the plot but overall it was heading towards a high 6 or a low 7. For whatever the reason the decided to really dumb things down in the final act, it was almost tough to believe. Based on what you do know it just doesn't make a lot of sense and makes the whole thing feel much more like a generic B thriller than what it could have been. So all in all, pretty decent until the final act drags on pointlessly and without any real reason or logic following behind what transpires. Worth a watch though if not for the initial "things just got real" moment (which was delightfully well done).
The Titan (2018)
A solid 4-5 (maybe had potential for 6) in the beginning...then nosedives...hard.
Man, Its been a while since I've seen something devlove so quickly. Right off the bat the movie has a very "B" feel, which I didn't find too offsetting. There's been some similarly budgeted (or at least films that look similarly budgeted) films that manage to pull off something innovate, or creative, or at the very least entertaining (see "Europa Report" ).
This could have been one of those films. But this film...is not one of those films. I tend to pick up my phone and smack down a rating if I'm getting bored of a film, so a little over the halfway (when things started to pitch downhill) I gave it a 4. Which, at the time felt firm but fair.
I spent remaining half of th film fighting to keep my hands off the rating. Even as I'm writing this I'm in the last 10 minutes and bam there goes another star. Bam another one. I started writing this review at 3...I'm afraid...I just don't know if I have have the strength to leave it at a 2.
It's not so much the plot holes, and the cliches...it's that the decisions devolve and become so ridiculously...stupid. That's the only word I have to describe it is, stupid. So at times I did have to laugh out loud. Saying "what..why? Why would you do that?"
In any case. Welp yeah there goes the last star. A 1. It probably doesn't deserve it, but it's just not quite bad enough to be a little good. Probably a good "watch with friends and openly mock" movie, but even those I'd want something with a little more heart and soul. There's much worse movies out there so I wouldn't say it's a "hard 1." At least It didn't make me angry and actively resent it for watching it. I guess, since it got bad enough for me to turn off before it ended, with the hope for a payoff abandoned long ago...for that it deserved a second star back. Better leave it at that.
I desperately wanted to like it more
I always feel bad giving movies like this a lower rating. You can tell there's some real soul put into this- looks like it was done on a shoestring budget, and for whatever they were working with (I'm guessing it was not much) they did a pretty good job. It has a nice firefly-eque western space drama feel. The CGI is used sparingly and theres some descent props.
There's some real thought and beauty in the details here, culture elements; the music, mechanisms for spacesuits, the mining/harvesting lore, etc. There's the potential here for some really great world building. So, where does it fall short? Well without beating around the bush it's just a bit dull...and with the care taken with the world building its really disappointing to see the lack of a real substantial plot. What is there is bland, and at times a bit muddy. The characters are ok, acting is descent, but about 10 minutes in you know exactly where this movies going, and it takes its time getting there.
I'm not one to shy away from the more human/dramatic elements of sci fi, on the contrary non-stop action tends to bore me. Unfortunately, so did these characters, so did the overall plot, and the themes.
I think we're getting to the point technologically where essentially if you're driven enough, you can get some pretty polished looking films, even as an amateur. I think that's what this is, essentially a very technically polished student film. In that regard it suffers from the same pitfalls much of that work does. A good idea, with some unique elements that aren't fleshed out. What's left of the story drags on and falls apart in a predictably amateurish way.
To the writer/director, a commendable effort. Keep up the good work, there's potential here. Hope the critique is understandable.
5.5/10, rounded to 6. Worth a watch if you're in a patient mood.
Instagram couple goes to Iceland, also the world ends.
Where to begin...this was probably the most disappointing thing I've seen in a long time. The cinematography in general is perfectly pleasant, the scenery and grading are fantastic. The acting for me felt pretty wooden, but didn't bother me too much. The narrative if you could call it that felt like a cross between an Icelandic tourism video and being one of those Instagram guys who takes photos of his girlfriend leading him by the hand... all that, written by someone who maybe at one point watched "the man from Earth" and fell asleep 1/4 of the way through.
I'll let it be known that I'm a pretty big slow burn fan, and have no problem with a lack of 'action.' It's not even that there wasn't any action, there just wasn't much of anything. I would go on but I feel like that in itself is almost a spoiler because...thats how uneventful the movie actually was.
Now, you could make the argument that I missed the point of the movie. Perhaps, I just 'didn't get it.' In my defense I'll say that I feel like I understood the philosophical component. I just didn't find it entertaining, intriguing, engrossing, or innovative in any way. You don't need action to make a good movie, for example go watch "Locke." You'll find one heck of a film experiment, and an example that pushes the bounds of cinematic narrative.
You do however, need, something. A story, a philosophical commentary, a question, something that makes you feel something ...and here I don't think Bokeh pulled through at all.
All that being said, it would be fair to at least consider me a person who "didn't get it" and go by one of those 8 or above reviews (christ one of those even called it provocative...) afterall ive seen plenty of misunderstood movies get chewed up unfairly on here. Advice I have for you would be to look at the review history of those folks to see if you agree with their general taste in film. As always, it's a good idea to discount a reviewer who has only left one review or rating, and be weary of accounts that rated a cluster of films around a certain time period, then nothing after.
It gets a 1 for the scenery and some of the technical details. Probably would have rated it higher if I wasn't so angry I sat through it. I really tried to give it something more, it just seems harsh, but when it ended I literally had my mouth open in awe at how little substance, story, character, soul, or entertainment value to me this film offered. I always feel bad leaving reviews like this, I can't imagine the work that goes into something like this, and I don't get the sense that anything here was done lazily. It doesn't change the fact that the viewing experience was just, beyond mediocre.
The New V.I.P.'s (2017)
Bud's no Tim...
Full disclosure: Dildarian's last show, the Life and Times of Tim (LATOT) is one of my all time favorites. I also respect his artistic freedom, in that he should not be tied to that specific type of humor or show for the rest of his life. He should be free to create whatever he wants and I don't want to be one of the people that will be critical of everything new that he does, just because it is not LATOT. That being said, I feel like there are some really striking similarities between the two shows in terms of characters, environment, and setting, so I feel a bit more vindicated in comparing the two.
The New VIP's has a very different style in terms of pacing and general humor: it's much more crude, much faster paced, and seems much more geared towards a prime time audience (nothing wrong with that). For me, what made LATOT so funny was the dry and subtle bits, because that's the kind of humor I tend to like. I don't however have no problem with crass or racy jokes (Props to the Drawn Together team just because they went so far out of bounds so regularly) To Dildarian's credit, I really thought he nailed that wry humor perfectly. This new show definitely could use some refinement.
For me the Character exaggeration is overboard, even in terms of raunchy crass humor. I found pretty much all of the characters annoying except one (who I'm pretty sure was a character from LATOT "Dr. BJ"). Couldn't stand the protagonist, or his sidekick. The H.R lady was annoying (I LOVED her LATOT counterpart, Marie.) In the first 15 minutes, a few of the Jokes actually landed pretty well for me and I was chuckling. However there was always some element that took the joke a bit too far for me, not in terms of it being too 'inappropriate' but rather that it sort of felt to me like the dialog was trying too hard for a laugh. Consequently, the Joke sort of fizzled. Its sort of like watching a group of teenage guys when they are all competing for the attention of a girl. There's always one guy who takes it way overboard and embarrasses himself. That's the same feeling I got watching these characters.
Like I said, I did have a few good chuckles, only two or three but that was enough to give me hope. I think the show could definitely embrace the crassness, and with some character development maybe that might make it more appealing over time to people like myself. I feel like a lot of comedy these day's overlooks plot and character entirely, concentrating on shock laughs, or situations that are supposed to be inherently funny. For me, the real comedy is created where situational humor meets character development. In Seinfeld, Kramer is a character who is pretty inherently funny. He's got a great physical presence with some overtones of slapstick, and while over the course of the series there is some flanderization, he still remains a pretty lovable character. What makes the situation's with Kramer so funny aren't JUST that they are zany inherently funny situations. They are funny because of the way Kramers actions impact others, and the way that others predict, attribute and react to situations involving Kramer. It's all about the characters, and how they interact and build relationships with each other, and that's where the attention of the jokes are focused.
The other route the show could go, is to reel back the exhibition and dry up the humor a little bit; there's nothing wrong with subtlety. Although I think that this show has established itself as something that's a bit more 'in your face' so to speak and I am OK with that. As it stands right now, it's just like an annoying stranger yelling in my face. Some of the things he's saying might be funny, but first I'll have to get to know the guy. The danger here is...if I get annoyed and tell him to bugger off before I get to know him, then no ones going to be laughing.
I have a huge amount of respect for Dildarian, and the writing process in general. I think that I have been overly critical (and taking all the elements that go into making an animated comedy, probably unfairly so), but I just really would like to see more content by him, and I don't want to see this get swept under the rug.
So in summation, I think there's hope. I wouldn't say I am optimistic, but I am cautiously hopeful. Keep writing Steve, I'm rooting for you.