Reverb (Film Review)

ReverbImg2Reverb, a film directed Samantha Paradise, follows the story of a young woman, Helia, getting over a seemingly harsh break-up. If that makes this sound like a touching drama, then you’d be mistaken. This is a thriller/horror in every sense of the term as Helia’s ex, nicknamed Cupcake, can’t seem to leave things be, stalking her in her own house.

Many of the shots in the film are beautifully done, the sunrise shots and the nighttime shots are some of the highlights. They really used the dynamic lighting to their advantage. The contrast from light and darkness works out very well in these scenes. That being said, many of the daytime shots could have been better. The kitchen shots and some of the living room shots have flat lighting, which leaves the shot toneless, making it harder for the actor’s emotion to fully come through in a typical shot. It’s not the biggest flaw that could happen, but it might be the most glaring in this 15 minute short.

ReverbImg1The acting in this film is quite good, it has some flaws with delivery, but it is very good considering the majority of it is just Amy Frear. Frear lets the film rest squarely on her shoulders and does so quite well. The only other performance is from Brian Dunn, who has decent chemistry with Frear. The run-time is perfect, but the chemistry between the two could have used more time to blossom. It’s a common dilemma, let the movie run over what it should and build better relationships between characters or keep it short to the benefit of the film as a whole. The latter option did work out great here, but it could have been great to see some more interaction. Ugh, dilemma, dilemma.

The set design and costumes were great. The majority of the short has Frear in a tank top, frilly shorts and bunny slippers. It’s not laugh out loud funny, but funny in the sense that there’s a lot of chaos going on around her. The house looks like it is lived in by a young woman, which builds the realism for the film.

The short isn’t filled with unnecessary jump scares but uses sounds and music to build the tension, which is makes it scarier since the brain starts making up what possibly will happen next. The story is semi-predictable, but well done in the fifteen minute time frame. From beginning to end the short is quite good and it doesn’t dip in the 15 or so minutes. One of the biggest strengths of the film is that it feels like a snippet of Helia’s life. She clearly had done things before and the possibilities of the future are endless. This is a self contained story but the characters have a history.

Consensus: When watching short films there is never a guarantee if the 10 or so minutes is going to be good, but from the first couple of shots it is clear that Reverb is a step ahead of the run of the mill short horror film, and that’s what helps make this film succeed. It not a slam dunk, but a polished, well done film worth watching.

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The Equalizer Film Review (2014)

The_Equalizer_posterWhen this movie came out, it looked quite promising. Denzel Washington and action seem to go hand in hand, which is strange since Washington is nothing like the run of the mill action star. The man has been nominated for six Academy Awards with a wide range of performances and he is convincing in each and every one. Now, I knew getting into this that it wouldn’t be an Oscar worthy film, but it sounded promising. So to sum things up, I was quite excited when this came in the mail the other day.

The film starts slowly, showing Washington and his relationships with his co-worker and a young girl prostitute. These part set Washington apart from the average action star as he’s able to convince the viewer that he truly cares for the people around him, which makes his jump to action seem reasonable. Once the movie’s violence starts, it never really stops. The action sequences are well done, the shots are beautifully done and the tone is definitely strong in this.

The most surprising thing is that a movie dealing with prostitution and many other sex crimes has no nudity. It helps that the main characters friend is an underage girl (Chloë Grace Moretz) and all the other prostitutes are very limited in screen time. It just feels like every R-rated action movie nowadays has gratuitous nudity, so it was welcome that this one did not when they could have found 100 opportunities to do so.

At a glance, this is a near perfect action movie. It has creative deaths, a strong tone and Denzel Washington in front of the camera. It’s biggest issue is that when the action picks up, the substance of the characters drops in quality. Washington is still great, but not as great. The bad guys start feeling like caricatures and while the beginning did a great job establishing the lead, the supporting cast didn’t get enough time to establish themselves. The question of if and when they’ll be put in danger doesn’t matter so much because they’re not that important to the viewer.

Despite that issue, the film is still incredibly fun and action packed. It’s hard to deny that Denzel Washington is an incredibly talented actor and is able to submerge in a wide range of roles. This is definitely one of the best action movies in recent memory and worth a watch if action is your forte.

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Frank (Film Review)

Frank_movie_posterFrank, starring Michael Fassbender, is one of those movies from last year that I wanted to see immediately after hearing about it. Sadly, I had to wait until Netflix came along and put it on their streaming website, which is one of the many reasons I love Netflix. Now, as I started to watch the movie, I realized that other than knowing the film was about an eccentric musician who always wears a fake head, I knew nothing about the film. Despite not knowing anything, the film had built incredibly high expectations in my eyes and it was going to be tough to top them. So did it?

Now, first things first, the film follows Jon (Domhnall Gleeson), an aspiring musician who can’t seem to write any music. He gets an opportunity to fill in for a band’s keyboardist after the previous guy goes crazy and soon finds himself in the middle of no where trying to record the band’s album with them. Fassbender plays Frank, the dude in the fake head and Maggie Gyllenhaal plays Clara, who is more or less the antagonist of the film’s main character Jon. Many troubles arise, changing how Jon sees the world and the people around him, that’s me trying my hardest not to spoil anything.

The movie is incredibly fun at times and incredibly depressing at others. It’s a great mix and ends in a fairly unpredictable way, not super crazy, but good nonetheless. I loved the performances, especially by Gleeson and Fassbender. Gyllenhaal was also very good and helped to add another dynamic to the film. I felt like in the beginning that her role could have been cast by any actress, but towards the end it made sense why she was cast. There were other actors in smaller roles and they too did a great job.

Some people might not like how the film’s main character uses twitter and YouTube, but I didn’t seem to mind it. It added to the realism since pretty much everyone I know uses twitter and/or YouTube. It didn’t feel excessive in my opinion and also stayed true to how people really act when they’re on social media.  The film has minor nudity, with a man’s buttocks seen briefly and if you look hard enough you might be able to see a breast through murky water. The main reason the film is rated R is that there are quite a few F-bombs.

I honestly can’t find anything to hate about this film, it was great on all fronts and lived up greatly to my expectations. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I might have been one of my favorite films of 2014.

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014 Film Review)

Teenage_Mutant_Ninja_Turtles_film_July_2014_posterThis film has been reviewed by the best of them, so I’ll try to keep mine short. The film has a pretty generic story, involving the turtles coming past their issues with one another, working alongside April O’Neil and company to fight a common foe that changed all their lives. It’s a tale of revenge, but mostly of tale of sub par CGI. The story is pretty generic, but Summer blockbusters are known for light storylines and heavy action.

While the film does have a heaping helping of action, it often times is just a blur of CGI. Compared to the older Ninja Turtles movies, the fighting is arguably better. It’s not a great sight, but better than dudes fighting in turtles costumes. The acting isn’t fantastic either, it’s not terrible, but it felt like people just acting for a pay check. The turtle voices and personalities weren’t terrible, but Johnny Knoxville seems a little old to be voicing a teenage turtle. I love Knoxville, but they probably could have done some better casting.

Like I said, I’ll keep this review short. It wasn’t as bad as some people have said, but it has nothing amazing to set it apart from all the other CGI filled movies.

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Nymphomaniac Volume I (Director’s Cut Review)

Nymphomaniac_posterWow. What a movie. I’ve never seen a Lars von Trier film before and I’m not sure if this was the best or worst movie to start with. Nymphomaniac has pretty much a story in a story, where a woman tells a man who found her beaten and bloody in the streets about her life story, mostly involving sex. The stories range from innocent self exploration all the way too her engaging in sexual acts with different men in a short period of time. She has other tales to tell, involving her loving father and shrewish mother, but the majority of the film follows sex.

The cast in the film is pretty phenomenal, with Charlotte Gainsbourg, Shia LaBeouf, Stacy Martin and Stellan Skarsgard having the strongest roles. The biggest surprise, performance wise was Christian Slater’s role as the lead character’s father. I’ve only ever been impressed by Slater in True Romance, but he offered up an amazing role that was complex. Gainsbourg and Martin play the same character, Joe, and spend most of the film in differing stages of undress. Their performances were both great, but Martin probably shined a little brighter since most of the stories involved Joe at Martin’s age. Shia LaBeouf was good, he was played a character with quite a bit of depth, but was mostly a jerk the whole way through. Skarsgard was also phenomenal and his defense of Gainsborg’s actions through the course of the film is at times comical. Despite his age, he seems to act with a boyish wonder to his eyes, it’s truly captivating.

The subject matter should probably be discussed, yes, there is a lot of nudity in this film, especially the uncut version. There are graphic shots of genitals, breasts, most sex acts and a whole lot of moaning. The film is not a porno, it’s nudity is closely tied with the story and it’s not shown as some sort of gratification. The subject matter is far too intense, despite its occasionally casual and comedic tone. It deals with death, pain and an absence of love. This being the director’s cut, it is filled with potentially more sex scenes, more nudity and more story. I’m not quite sure since I haven’t seen the theatrical cut yet. It’s quite a long watch, but at the end of the film I felt like it was worth it.

Overall, I can’t recommend this to everyone, but it was a great enough watch in my opinion.

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HULLY GULLY (Film Review)

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HULLY GULLY, a film by director Pablo D’Stair, takes a look at a normal, everyday couple and the examines their relationship. The representation of a modern couple is pretty common, but with D’Stair’s style, it comes out different than the run of the mill films that are commonplace. Continue reading

Scrooged (Film Review)

Scrooged_film_posterAh, good old Scrooged, aka Bill Murray’s Christmas movie. There is nothing in this world like Scrooged, obviously it’s an adaptation of A Christmas Carol, but it does so in a way that hadn’t really been done before or since. The film follows Frank Cross, a TV executive that cares so little for his employees that he will fire them in an instant. He hates Christmas and spending time with his brother. It looks as if he will forever be this way until he is visited one night by the ghost of his mentor telling him to change his ways. From there he interacts with the three ghosts of past, present and future.

The movie is hilarious, with many nearly all the jokes still landing after the 20+ years it’s been out. Many of the set pieces and references are a bit old, but the comedy is still very much intact. It also has more heart than imagined. The cast is fantastic, with small roles from Bill Murray’s brothers and a few big names sprinkled throughout. Bill Murray is strong in his role as Frank Cross and Bobcat Goldthwait is just as great as a former employee who gets fired in the first few minutes of the movie. I feel like I’m in the minority in terms of my love of Bobcat Goldthwait’s comedy. He was hilarious in this and the Police Academy movies and directed great films like World’s Greatest Dad and God Bless America. This might be my favorite role of his, it’s pretty minor and very dark, but it’s still hilarious.

The other supporting cast, like Karen Allen and John Glover are perfect in their roles. John Glover plays the corporate douche amazingly and Karen Allen plays Frank Cross’s former love with heart, making the viewer hope they can push their issues aside and be together. (Though, that is pretty predictable). Everything about this movie is wonderful, from the comedy to the acting. It’s silly, emotional and leaves you excited for the next viewing. For me, it’s a must watch every Christmas.

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