Quick Hits : Cheap Thrills (2014) & The Illusionist (2010)

Directed By – E.L. Katz
Starring – Pat Healy, Ethan Embry, David Koechner, and Sara Paxton

Everybody has those conversations with their buddies over a couple beers. “What would you do for X amount of money?” I’m sure that 99% of the things that get brought up would never actually get done. I’m 100% sure that some of the things that happen in this film would never be done, unless your buddies are a bunch of desperate people willing to degrade themselves for a little cash. My moral standards are pretty strong but knowing what it’s like not to have money makes me wonder…what would I do for $25,000? The film centers around Craig and Vince. Craig is an unemployed father and husband who needs almost five grand in a week or else he loses his apartment. Vince is an old friend who basically only exists as an asshole who hasn’t made anything of his life. They run into each other at a bar and end up making friends with a couple who can’t seem to stop spending money. The party heads back to the couples house where unveil their plan to challenge Vince and Craig to dares or tasks in exchange for money. It snowballs from there.

The film boasts a great cast with Pat Healy and David Koechner stealing the show. Ethan Embry, who reminded me he’s still a person, does a serviceable job and Sara Paxton kind of just breezes through this one but her character wasn’t really called upon to do much. The film gets a little gross, a little bloody, and features a pretty nice ending. It’s not something that will knock your socks off. Being the first feature of the director there are pacing issues. The lead up to the “game” takes way too long unfold and there were some character arcs that didn’t seem to go anywhere. It was however a pretty decent way to make your first feature film. I’d recommend it for horror fans.

3/5

Directed By – Sylvain Chomet
Starring – Jean-Claude Donda and Eilidh Rankin

No, this is not the one with Edward Norton. This is the film that was nominated by the Academy for Best Foreign Language Film in 2010. The director happened to make one of my favorite animated films ever “The Triplets of Bellville”. The story follows a magician trying to make money hits the road to Scotland where he meets a young woman who follows him on his journey. I honestly didn’t get sucked into the story on this one. The animation and beautiful score are what made the film enjoyable to me. The various illusions and magic tricks that the magician does were pretty mesmerizing. The night scenes in streetlight backed streets of Scotland were gorgeously done. The score was engaging and just fit the scenery so well. Chomet and his animation team really know how to use colors and music together to create an immerse film. Like “Bellville”, the film doesn’t have much dialogue so the animation has to pick up the slack. It does. It certainly does.

The story just didn’t do it for me. The magical settings painted in the beginning of the film just sort of floated away by the films end. It got really sad and depressing. I understood the theme of the film but that kind of mood switch threw me for a bit of a loop. I wanted to stay in the happy place. Besides that it’s an excellent animated film and proof that Sylvain Chomet and his team are one of the top animation teams in the business. It isn’t just Pixar.

3.5/5

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