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Die verlorene Zeit (2011)
Authentic WWII tale
Remembrance very quickly alerts the viewer to the horrors of a concentration camp. It's not a death camp, in fact it seems to be a bakery, but the constant insults and shouting of orders, and the way prisoners have learnt to be automatically deferential to their captors, is palatable. It's a bit of an eye-opener and worth a look just for that. The escape is knife-edged, also worth a look. The movie continues to be poignant by reproducing some common dilemmas and attitudes toward known at that time, even when in relative safety. As a war movie it's a great story. The contrast with 1971 New York is given in parallel throughout but is not too intrusive if you're only really interested in the story 1944-45, but I would question the need for it at all. Added to that is the problem of the younger/older versions of the heroine bearing very little physical similarities aside from height and hair colour. And in regard to the 1971 aspect, whilst I know as a baby boomer myself, and having grown up surrounded by war veterans, all of whom tended to be overly serious and dismissive of my generation, that the apparent meanness of the couple later in life shown here is probably a true reflection, quite frankly, as a movie, well, it was hard to watch. That's what is keeping my score here down to a 7. If you liked movies like Sophie's Choice (1982) then you'll probably like this one. Given it's a true story and a very competent piece of film theatre, with good sets/actors/locations/cameras, Remembrance is easy to recommend.
Pete Smalls Is Dead (2010)
Down and out Hollywood with touches of noir
You couldn't really call Pete Smalls noir, it's far too daylight for that, but certainly the story follows noir ideas. The beauty of the film is the succession of well known and highly capable actors all turning their roles into charm. It's a brilliant piece of casting. Peter Dinklage is the star and brings some of that cynicism he does so well in Game of Thrones to the fore in this as well. Mark Boone carries most of the acting burden and is perfect as the well-intentioned mate. You'll see Steve Buscemi and Lena Headey in utterly unfamiliar roles. Ritchie Coster as the bad guy plays a role that lovers of Happy! (2017) will find further admiration. Tim Roth plays a role he is far more suited to than the character he plays as the never-wrong Lie To Me guy or the tougher-than-everyone-else Tin Star guy. The most classic roles are those of Theresa Wayman as the quintessential French mystery woman, and Seymour Cassel as the Mexican grandfather figure. All enjoy a great script and many good original lines. It's a movie about friendship, and in that it succeeds with bells on.
Lost Voyage (2001)
A TV movie for sure, but cgi of it's day is interesting
It's hard to watch Lost Voyage now, 18 years down the track. CGI was very young then, and in fairness, Lost Voyage tries to come up to a standard that probably only a really big studio could get away with at that time. There's a lot of what today we would call rubbish cgi in this movie, in fact it's overall story relies on it, but, 18 years later, that's unfair. Ghost Ship (2002), a far better movie yet one with a similar premise and story, obviously paid close attention to Lost Voyage, made none of the mistakes, and came back with a classic movie. Aside from the ordinary cgi there are other mistakes. Two women have obviously the same age, yet one is described as much younger. At least both are attractive. The script is bland, the actors are ok, at times better than others, depending on the material. I've seen better sets, I've seen worse. This movie is ok for a very late night nothing else on, but not much else. I'm sure it was intended as a TV movie for its day and never intended to have a shelf life. As an example of early cgi in horror it's probably a lot braver than most of its competition of that year, and for that it deserves a 6.
Well acted tense adult creature feature
The best thing about Isolation is probably the dire and dank location, which makes for many classic scenes of light and dark shadow, dripping water, grim mud and dark pools. There is a rain storm that helps with all this. Also worthy of mention is the script and the actors' performances, par excellence. It's an adult creature feature, with adult responses, there's no teenage hysterics as people get picked off. Even so, it's a very frantic exhibition. However, even allowing for the fact that this is a 2005 production, one can't get away from the fact that whilst given good glimpses of the 'lava', truly horrible little critters, true glimpses of the 'monster' never quite materialise. Upon each attack the edit immediately shifts to a close up frenzy of teeth and blood splatter and flashes of raw flesh. The introduction of even one or two cgi sequences would have overcome this disappointment, and that is why I'm keeping the score to a 7. There aren't a lot of moves with this type of hostile small alien parasite. The Thaw (2009) and Dreamcatcher (2003) come to mind, as well as a handful of alien slug movies such as Slither (2006). Isolation is definitely on par with these movies except for the omission of really clear special effects. It's a good horror movie, plenty of gripping moments, and well worth a look.
This is both an enjoyable light-hearted movie as well as a bit of an eye-opening education. I think it's important as a film as it underlines the Buddhist cause in Tibet. One of the boys playing the lead role is a wonderful character study as well as a giant performance (the boy most keen on watching the World Cup). It's worth a look just to see that performance. I liked the cinematography, but thought better cameras with better colour could have been used. It's a minor point. The Cup is one of those family friendly foreign movies about a little known corner of the world that is impossible to dislike. It's full of practical wisdoms and charming yet odd perspectives. Recommended to everyone.
Aiming for a real experience
Obviously the creators of Paranormal Diaries wanted to create a movie that only just tips the scales into something genuinely, really genuinely, scary. It's true that nothing much happens. I got a scare only once. But it was an interesting, even intriguing, exploration of 'everyday paranormal'. It's really well acted, with a very honest and down to earth script. And there are no hysterics or over-blown personalities or sarcasm or poor attempts at humour that are so prevalent in modern movies. True, it's a documentary footage style, which is fashion I find difficult to fathom as something that's popular. In the end the movie will leave you with a certain chill, particularly if you relate to the English. Paranormal Diaries is just a diary, and as such deserves a better score than the 3.5 given here at IMDb.
Dead Sea (2014)
Some good ingredients, but no monster
How do movies this bad actually end up being made? Who has responsibility for overseeing that the story is making sense, or that the production is keeping some sort of standard? How is such a venture, or a career, destined to be profitable when all who buy the dvd end up feeling utterly ripped off? My dvd cover featured a beautiful woman about to be devoured by a huge gaping maw and row upon row of colossal teeth, about the size of the worm monsters in Tremors or Dune. That is not what the movie delivers. For starters the monster is only ever portrayed as about the size of a large man. Even that doesn't matter as we never see it! We only see a few, very few, isolated half-seconds of maybe a side or a few teeth, flashing about amid murky waters at night alongside kicking legs of victims and bits of ragged seaweed. The soundtrack is relentless, and while not inappropriate, is such a continuous dramatic drone that it loses all sympathy. The story is badly managed fits and starts, with some inexplicable moments. I saw a car abandoned for no apparent reason when a car was badly needed. I saw a woman collapse from exhaustion after a 10 minute chase followed by a couple hours hiding in a cave, then a short walk back to the road. What the hell exhausted her?! The script lacked imagination, and the actors over act. I was interested in the cameras they used which is why I gave it a point. Dead Sea is a poor effort.
Ghost Stories (2017)
Highly polished and genuinely scary horror
The filmmakers for Ghost Stories have obviously studied the genre. They get everything very right. There are genuine scares at four points to the story, each with a dark, memorable location. The story itself is refreshingly original, although it is territory we have seen touched upon in such works as The Enfield Haunting (2015). With fantastic editing, no time is wasted. The use of special effects are good, as are the effects themselves, and will surprise toward the end. Loved the great cameras they used. The use of focus was masterly, and the mix of camera angles/close-ups/wide shots, etc, was inspired. Great spooky effect was made with shadows, and the lighting overall was really good, and in several cases greatly heightened the tension. The casting was spot on. Martin Freeman somewhat reprises the perfect roles he performed in Fargo (2014) and StartUp (2016). I loved Andy Nymen's performance, which was so crucial. Alex Lawther deserves a special mention as well for such a great job of a very difficult role. Paul Whitehouse was a much welcome selection, only a step or two away from his famous Eastender comedy roles, but highly effective in this. The soundscape was also good. Ghost Stories comes across as highly proficient production, and as an easy and very entertaining watch. I think this is an important evolution for the horror genre.
As good as the original
Some remakes fall short, such as the recent Ben Hur (2016). That's not the case with this remake of Papillon. The secret, I think, is in the casting, which was also the secret to the first movie. Rami Malik brings a gravity to his character that Dustin Hoffman did so brilliantly in the original. Both actors played Dega at the height of their powers. Charlie Hunnam is perfect as Henri Charriere, as good as Steve McQueen, although I'd say no-one could really pip Steve McQueen for sheer cheek and presence. The wonderful thing is that some aspects of the first movie that were not given full measure have been accounted for this time around. Have a look, you'll see what I mean. Great movie.
One to watch out for
Every now and then one comes across a movie that sufficiently impresses, that you tell yourself you'll pay attention to anything else the writers or the Director does in the future. Prospect is one such movie. The story is a clever idea, not totally original, but with an almost a Western feel which certainly works, much like Young Ones (2014). Once dressed up with great planetary graphics, great spaceship sets, cool, if hardy, gadgets, a believable planet (though some more cgi would have helped), great camera work, good editing, good lighting, wonderfully chosen soundscape, and well chosen and highly committed actors......well, it's a cool winner. Great mid-budget sci-fi movie.
Night of the Creeps (1986)
OK 1980s fun teen movie
Alien slugs is almost a sub-genre. I think it began with Shivers (1975), almost certainly the movie that inspired this one. Shivers was horror, over the top, but horror. Night of the Creeps is a teen comedy horror, meaning its not laugh out loud funny, nor particularly scary, but quite satisfying if you like cringing with disbelief and throwing popcorn at the TV. In 1988 there was a movie called Slugs. A beauty was The Faculty (1998), but perhaps the best was the latest, Slither, in 2006. The TV series Dark Skies (1996), which was similar to the X-Files in that it was a couple verses conspiracy series, may also have featured alien slugs, and is easily the most serious of those mentioned. I'm sure there's more I haven't thought of. What can I say? Night of the Creeps has a very cheesy script, but that's hardly a bad thing, and although the slugs are good, other effects are a little lame. But it gets better as it moves along. I've only just heard of it, which to my mind implies it never got the credit it was due, so please, by all means, enjoy a Night of the Creeps.
Brilliant example of kids verses horror
This is a movie in the tradition of Super 8 or ET or Stranger things. It's an almost perfectly composed family horror movie. Good cameras are used throughout and the cinematography and editing are wonderful. There are lots of spooky silhouettes or spooky object closeups, and many scenes where the camera actually becomes the stalker. The script is great fun, with three bickering boys so authentic of childhood, are shown again and again narrowly missing doom, until, as it must, a chilling horror dawns upon them. Each boy rises to the occasion in his own unique way, it's truly magical. I loved the evil clowns as well. I'm wondering if the tv series American Horror Story, which often uses murderous clowns, was not in part inspired by this movie. There are "Oh no" moments throughout and many, many chills. I'm very glad that I came across Clownhouse at my local bargain bin. Well done MGM!
The Riot Club (2014)
Workable slam of British class
British debauchery can be charming, such as Four Weddings (1994) or Brideshead Revisited (1981). That is one part here, the other being a private function where things go wrong, a little like The Loft (2014). Midsummer Murders ran a similar theme with Murder on St Malley's Day (2002). The problem with The Riot Club is the script. It comes across as a little too, well, unintelligent, at least for freshmen to Oxford University, and far too unsophisticated for boys obviously raised by university educated parents, and this aspect is not helped by throwing historical quiz questions into the mix. The actors do their bit with the material. Another issue was that a couple of the boys looked very similar, at least to me, with similar hair styles and colour. It confused me, especially at points where good/bad traits began to emerge. The Riot Club is a good character study, and you will cringe one way or another at the carrying ons. It's a moral debate for sure, and perhaps that's a better cup of tea.
Dark Star (1974)
Terrible movie - even as a comedy it's a joke
I remember 1975. I remember we'd all go to the drive-ins and watch movies that seemed especially for stoners, such as Soylent Green (1973), Zardos (1974) Shivers (1975) or Demon Seed (1977). Here in Australia we obviously missed the release of Dark Star, or otherwise I would have been in serious trouble with my girlfriend for wasting her time. You'd pretty much have to be high to find anything funny about this movie. It's truly terrible. The bottom of the elevator hatch is connected with wing-nuts. The alien is a beach ball with feet. The interior of the ship is obviously wooden. Even for its day the special effects were primitive. The space scenes were obviously a few strung up mini lights. The script is beyond lazy, only the actors are lazier, and unattractive as well. This is a student film, intended to impress 12-year olds of that day. It is not even a serious student film. The concept of a self-aware bomb, however is progressive. Modern sci-fi writer Alistair Reynolds takes the concept to galactic heights in his work. So that idea was excellent and forward thinking. That idea convinced me to give the movie a point. The sound design was also good. That is what earned the 2 extra points from me. I'd wager that this movie is only still available because of John Carpenter. Surely he'd prefer that that not be the case!
Trespass Against Us (2016)
Trouble brewing in a British trailer park
Trespass Against Us begins with a chase, which sets a tone. From there, as a viewer, one expects a few more similar surprises. These happen. It's a very difficult film to describe, at least for me, so at a minimum I can say that there is good exciting action. At its heart it's about a family that accept risk, but suffer from consequences and guilt from that acceptance. It's a serious crime drama about a son questioning his father's authority, and the influence the father is having on the grandson. It's a world away from suburbia, yet existing on the fringe. A comparable movie might be Nil By Mouth (1997), though that was around housing estates, and Trespass Against Us is in the country. Something similar in the country might be Hit and Miss (2012). This is a movie which has desperation, and conflict, a lot of high jinks, and defiance, but in the end is about love.
The Brood (1979)
Theoretically this movie should never have worked, and surely someone must be congratulated for making something so memorable. I suspect Oliver Reed and the Director deserve the most praise. I'd imagine several studios said "No way!" before someone finally agreed to fund the piece. I'm starting to get more interested in the late seventies. Two other movies I've seen, Long Weekend (1978) and The Shout (1978), are also extremely brave out there ideas for movies that would have taken courage to make. Kudos to the actors involved, as well as all the professional production teams. I went in fairly blind, and what intrigued me and held my attention was the interplay between psychiatric technique, and straight out gremlin horror. Phew, it worked! I was thoroughly entertained throughout. Making the bizarre entertaining is definitely an art form, or else we wouldn't have so many B-movies. This is an A-movie in my book.
Heaven & Earth (1993)
Powerful summation of the Vietnam War
Oliver Stone has a magic touch with this movie. Not only does the winding story, spacing three decades, give a resounding highlight to nearly all the important issues raised by the Vietnam experience, 1952 - 1982, but there is a magician's wand in play in regard to how he helps the viewer bridge the language divide, and it is this key that brilliantly emphasises the spiritual side of the story. There is a magnificent choice of poignant imagery throughout, with dozens of locations. From an overloaded bus full of refugees to a phantasmagoric first experience of a supermarket, hardly a scene is not memorable. All the actors give commanding performances. This is another well-thought out saga, like Platoon (1986), that is unlikely to age.
Dante 01 (2008)
French sci-fi gem with brilliant visuals
OK, the story here is a little out there, but hell, it's a movie. Brilliant casting and great performances lead one to an impression of having seen a greater number of actors after the movie is over. The graphics are awesome. These days there are several good prison sci-fi movies to chose from, such as Alien 3 (1992), The Chronicles of Riddick (2004), and Lockout (2012). Dante 01 has very little in common with any of those, but is certainly a top tier sci-fi prison movie. The prison society is a bit like Alien 3, the planet is a bit like the Riddick's Crematoria, and there is a psychopath or two like Lockout. It's a strange tale, a cross between Stephen King and Philip K.Dick. Never boring, the fast pace and innovative action, as well as the brilliant characterisations, means that it never suffers from prison claustrophobia. This is one of the best French sci-fi movies I've seen to date.
This is a quiet thriller, though I appreciate that that description is contradictory. Yet that's what it is. Without the talents of Stacy Keach, whom is refreshing as a practical man and not really any sort of hero, I doubt this movie would have had any appeal. Keach is constantly pushed to take one extra step after another by both his conscience and by reasoning out aloud, as well as well placed happenstance. It's a unique performance, and very likeable. Other typical road movie Aussie characterisations, as well as quaint location details along the way, ensure that Roadgames is a bit of a 1980s Australian classic. Jamie Lee Curtis is in top form and adds a romantic element. Great script. The cinematography of the Nullarbor is also quite talented. No part is without interest or charm and the pace is easy to watch. The story is well within the bounds of believability, though unnecessary license is taken at times to lay on the cheese. It won't scare your pants off, nor glue you to the edge of your seat, yet there's easily enough tension and unpredictability, well edited and presented, to have you wishing more movies of this type existed.
Honestly, if you just want a vision of pre-war rural Germany then The White Ribbon is an idyll, very picturesque indeed. Beyond that, I'm not sure what the filmmaker was aiming for. My take was that as a result of the entrenched disciplinarian conceit of an older generation, with perversion as well as cruelty, some sort revenge by a younger vigilante is randomly attached to the most severe and guilty of this isolated community. Or perhaps, presciently perceiving the coming horrors of war, someone thus disturbed has protested with inspired acts of terrible cruelty. The movie is beautifully filmed, and the choice of black and white was inspired in that regard, but, alas, it's slow moving and the story is dark and strange and although a kind of resolution is achieved, I'd venture, for most, it will not be enough. Mind you, as a subtle warning against a type of strict conservatism of the past that we may at times confuse with a cleaner, more innocent time, well, in this regard the filmmaker may certainly have made a brilliant point.
Long Weekend (1978)
Odd, spooky and earnest movie of dire reflections
Let's be straight up about Long Weekend. Despite the references to Nature, and indeed, the spot chosen for a camping holiday does indeed appear to harbour a malicious spirit (manifest in inhabited animals), Long Weekend is at its heart a movie about trying to make a failing marriage work, with all the frustrations to do with mistakes and forgiveness and sharing. The cleverness of the movie is that the malicious Nature detracts sufficiently that we don't actually begin to hate this couple and their indomitable efforts to tolerate each other sufficiently to turn back the clock to happier times. If this wasn't a horror movie then only drama masochists would like this picture. But as a horror movie it is a different picture, and does have a lot going for it. Oddly, Nature, as a warning perhaps, declares war on the couple long before they provoke it. That is a delicious idea for a movie. Long Weekend reminds me of movies such as The Shout (1978), another out there idea movie, or Wake In Fright (1971), a similar study of a downward spiral. All three movies have that brave experimental style of the 1970s, all are a form of unique doom (which is bold even today), and all are high standard productions that manage to age well. For that alone it's well worth a look.
No Offence (2015)
Certainly not a comedy, but fast paced intelligent police drama with heart
I suppose the reason that comedy comes up as a description of this show is because of the colourful snappy banter and odd embarrassing situations that are employed by the officers here. I'm pretty sure comedy was not the aim, just to be human. And very human it is. I love to be able to compare this show to another, but wracking my brains the closest I could come up with was perhaps Babylon (2014) or Happy Valley (2014), the first for the street cops, the second for the relationships. Cracker (1993) is another Manchester cop show with somewhat similar incident/case room. Marcella (2016) is another great show I should mention, if only for the similar doggedness of the lead detective. In truth the fast paced action, sharp detective work, unusual characterisations and brutally honest dialogue puts No Offence in a category all its own, though to be sure, it won't be long before it becomes inspiration for other shows. If you like TV shows that are about tracking down a serial killer (I've only seen series 1), then you are in for a treat. Not as dark perhaps as The Fall (2013), but every bit as exciting and diabolical.
The Dyatlov Pass Incident (2013)
Clear sci-fi vision to unravel a mystery
If you Google 'found footage movies' Google returns with a whole raft of titles. The Dyatlov Pass Incident is a bit like Cloverfield (2008), in that we follow around a band of increasingly distraught young adults, and although it can't match that movie's vast scale, the horror in Dyatlov is given a genuine creepy shock value. There are some great special effects toward the end, and even an avalanche. If you've ever enjoyed the TV series The River (2012), you should enjoy this movie. Hand held is mixed with more stable footage and this avoids frustration with a constantly shaking image. There's some clever original writing here and the script is much better than most, avoiding bickering as a main device and instead chosing a buildup of genuine friendships, which was refreshing. Casting and acting was good and believable. This is a better than average sci-fi indie.
Another HBO masterpiece
Stunning visuals, brilliant characterisations, top cast, insightful script, wonderful edit, gripping timeline. HBO certainly put a lot of effort into details. Chernobyl is as entrancing as it is thought provoking. Must see.
Red Billabong (2016)
Tries to be two movies - didn't work
I'm upset about how bad this movie is. As an Australian I worry for Australian sci-fi. Much like Occupation (2018), that other awful Aussie sci-fi, the cgi and camerawork was good, but the story, and particularly the script, was unnatural and difficult to bear. Red Billabong may have worked if this were about a reunion of two estranged brothers (no unexplained horror). Or, Red Billabong may have worked if this were solely about two brothers, not estranged, battling an unexplained horror. I'm not kidding, the mish mash of two estranged brothers battling each other and an unexplained horror was just plain irritating. The theme may sound familiar, and others may argue that relationship colour alongside adversity is a common and highly popular theme. I'll grant that, but for me, it seemed that the script had been written by a 13 year old with no real experience of what he/she was writing about. I'm not kidding, there are unrealistic stereotypes, sexism, male bitchiness, horrible initial portraits of young women, loads of cliches, potty mouths throughout, and way too many attempted classic lines. It's awful. At a certain point about 50 mins in a young man with a beanie appears and converses casually with one of the brothers. This beanie guy has appeared from nowhere in the forest, and is not seen again, nor was he seen previously in the movie. I actually clicked on all the pics above to try and figure whom the hell he was! Awful and irritating. Please Australian film, please check your work better!