Quick Review & Discussion : Borgman (2014)

IMDB Score – 6.8
Rotten Tomato Score – 86%
Amazon Watch Instant

Directed By – Alex van Warmerdam
Starring – Jan Bijvoet, Hadewych Minis, Jeroen Perceval, Alex van Warmerdam, Tom Dewispelaere, and Sara Hjort Ditlevsen

A vagrant enters the lives of an arrogant upper-class family, turning their lives into a psychological nightmare in the process.

I’m going to break this up into two parts. One, a short review, and the other a short discussion. The discussion will have spoiler elements to it so don’t read it if you haven’t seen the film.

This creeped me the fuck out. Like, really did.

Borgman is a psychological thriller/overall creepfest of a movie from The Netherlands. There is a certain creepy I’m pertaining to when I describe this film. It isn’t creepy like how Zodiac, The Innkeepers, or any run of the mill ghost story is. This film relies heavily on the unsettling nature of German folklore. I’ll get to that in the part two discussion. There is just this extreme sense of unease that washes over you while you dive further into the film. There are no explanations and very few answers at first glance. It’s kind of a mystery.

The story is rather simple on the surface. A man, who doesn’t seem to really have a home, job, or purpose, successfully invades the home of an upper class family by appeasing to the wife. He stays on the property, just out of sight, getting to know the family better. What follows for the rest of the film is an assortment of what the fuck with a side of nightmare fuel. Seriously, nightmares are a big part of this film. You know, I can’t remember if there was a score or not, but if there was it was minimal. Alex van Warmerdam, the films director and supporting cast member, carefully constructs his shots that not only look beautiful, but completely add to the sense of dread and darkness that permeates from the film. It’s been described as a black comedy but I didn’t find anything funny with it. It’s also been described as a cross between Dogtooth and a Haneke film. The only real comparison I can see with Dogtooth is that it mostly takes place on the property which is very out of the way. The Haneke comparison is spot on though. There is just something about his films that etches into the brain and causes all sorts of unsettling emotions. The way Cache, one of my favorite films of all time, plays out is on par with this. We aren’t given any answers to what is going on. Any violence is disturbing, fast, and realistic. It’s unsettling because it feels real.

Haneke however has not really delved into the supernatural. This is where Borgman is unique. Sure, there aren’t creatures flying around or portals being opened. There are events and progressions that just can’t seem to be explained any other way though. It’s a genre blender and a half.

I urge you all to see this one. It’s on Amazon Watch Instant and most likely VOD. It’s a nightmare on screen without the fire and brimstone of a trip to hell. It’s thought provoking, unique, and wildly experimental. You’ll finish it without a clue in the world as to what you watched but if you’re like me, the answers will start to slowly creep in. Are these answers correct? I have no idea. It’s fun to find out though.

4.5/5




….

..

.

Spoilers ahead

So I wanted to talk about this a bit, only because I seem to have stumbled across something on my own and I really want to share. Now, since I’ve written this, I’ve learned that there are a lot of other people that have come to this conclusion and that it is regarded as the intended understanding that the director wanted from his viewers.

I was watching the Netflix series “The Fall” last night. It’s a wonderful detective mini-series set in Ireland starring Gillian Anderson. Check it out. Anyway, in one of the episodes a suspect breaks into one of the police officers hotel rooms and does some snoping. When the officer returns, she finds this image as her background on her laptop…

That is a painting by Henry Fuseli called “The Nightmare”. I was fascinated by it so I decided to Google it. What I came across was that this painting was a depiction of a German folklore creature called an “Alp” or “Incubus”. This si a creature that targets mostly women and while they are sleeping, straddles them on there chest until the weight is so much that the victim wakes up and can’t move. Alps were commonly referred to as the cause of things we know now as “sleep paralysis” and “lucid dreaming”. The alp has the ability to control the nightmares of it’s victims and cannot be seen when the victim wakes up in fear.

In the, we see Borgman straddling Marina in a way that suggests he could be an Alp. Marina has nightmares that depict her husband either beating her or even attempting to murder her. This causes Marina to grow an intense hatred for her husband and a love for Borgman.

Now, my theory on who Borgman is and who his companions are is this. Borgman is an Alp and is the leader of other Alps. This explains why they all have a scar on their back. As for what is under the scar? I have no idea, but it seems to be an indication that they’re all alike. In folklore, these Alps have been connected to vampires which would kind of explain why they were sleeping underground in the beginning of the film. I think the priest and his gang find out about them and know what they’re up to. They try to kill them.

This just makes sense to me. It’s a fascinating allegory to German folklore and is just mysterious enough not to give too much away. I loved the film and and wondering if anybody else who has seen the film has any other theories as to what the fuck is going on.

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Double Review! : Coherence (2014) and Starred Up (2014)

IMDB Score – 7.1
Rotten Tomato Score – 85%
Amazon Instant Watch

Directed By – James Ward Byrkit
Starring – Emily Baldoni, Maury Sterling, Nicholas Brendon, Nicholas Brendon, Elizabeth Gracen, Hugo Armstrong, Alex Manugian, and Lauren Maher

Strange things begin to happen when a group of friends gather for a dinner party on an evening when a comet is passing overhead.

This is going to be one of my shortest reviews. Why? I am not going to ruin the privilege of seeing this film as blind as I did. All I knew going in to the film was the IMDB plot summary above and that it was a sci-fi film. That is all you’re going to get too. I didn’t add the trailer. Don’t watch it. It gives too much away. The film is currently on Amazon Instant so if you have Prime you can watch it for free. If you don’t have prime, find it on VOD and pay for it. You won’t be disappointed if you love sci-fi and mindbending movies.

I’m pretty much going to end it after this. This certainly isn’t a masterpiece. It is however a film with a completely unique story and consists mostly of improvised dialogue and low budget film making that is both impressive and promising. The acting splits between amateur and really good. Baldini and Brendan are the standouts here. I hope they do more things.

See the film. See it.

4.5/5

IMDB Score – 7.5
Rotten Tomato Score – 98%
Amazon Instant Watch

Directed By – David Mackenzie
Starring – Jack O’Connell, Ben Mendelsohn, Rupert Friend, Sam Spruell, Anthony Welsh, David Ajala, and Peter Ferdinando

A troubled and explosively violent teenager is transferred to adult prison where he finally meets his match – a man who also happens to be his father.

Well, Jack O’Connell is going to be a fucking star. He’s already breached into the public eye with his role in “unbroken” but this is the film that he shines. He’s a powerhouse. He’s a wrecking ball. Think Tom Hardy in Bronson. It’s that good of a performance.

Starred Up isn’t a pretty film. It’s ugly. The brutality behind the violence is troubling to watch at times. It’s a hard look into the British prison system. For those who grew up with Oz and Shawshank Redemption, this is going to be different for you. Guards aren’t always right around the corner and when they are, they don’t usually have the upper hand. There were many moments in this film that made me confused as to who was really running the prison. Fights break out and are left unattended for minutes. Assaults on guards don’t really end too bad for the inmate. In fact, it’s like getting the shit kicked out of you is almost a daily hassle, for both the inmates and for the guards. Enter Eric Love, a 19 year old kid who is as explosive as they come. Right from the get go he is rubbing oil on his body in preparation for guards bursting through his cell door. I told you it’s like Bronson. Starred up however is a bit less theatrical than Bronson. It’s a realistic view at just how fucked up it can be in prison. It sheds light on how far prison officials are willing to go or how blinded they can be that there are people in those cells that need help. Its eye opening.

A lot of the film is a bit hard to understand. I don’t mean story. I mean I had problems getting through the mumble mouth cockney jargon that these prisoner conversed in. It really is a whole other language but I got through it without the subtitles. I’m proud of that. Ben Mendelsohn, who is fantastic in this by the way, plays the father of Eric and at times is completely non-understandable. That Mendelsohn though. He’s been acting like that since Animal Kingdom. I don’t want him to change. He’s always a menace whenever he’s on screen and I love it. The relationship between father and son is interesting in prison. You can’t always take peoples shit, including your fathers in fear of looking weak, but you also need to look out for your son. I think this is the main focal point of the film for me. The relationship between father and son here is handled beautifully and comes full circle by the films end. There is also a great sub theme by which a young anger management counselor, played by Rupert Friend, tries to get some of the more violent and angry inmates to calm the fuck down. Those scene were like Dead Poets Society except instead of poetry we’re dealing with pure insanity filled rage.

The film is a wonderful look at a different kind of prison system. It is brutally violent at just the right times and features powerhouse performances by O’Connell and Mendelsohn. Watch out for Jack O’Connell. He’s looking like the next Michael Fassbender or Tom Hardy.

4.5/5




Film Review : Nightcrawler (2014)

Rotten Tomato Score – 96% (As of now)
Imdb Score – 8.3 (As of Now)

Directed By – Dan Gilroy
Starring – Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed, Michael Hyatt, and Bill Paxton

When Lou Bloom, a driven man desperate for work, muscles into the world of L.A. crime journalism, he blurs the line between observer and participant to become the star of his own story. Aiding him in his effort is Nina, a TV-news veteran.

sociopath
[soh-see-uh-path, soh-shee-]
noun, Psychiatry.
1. a person with a psychopathic personality whose behavior is antisocial, often criminal, and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.

Cha-fucking-ching. What is on display during the entire two hour run time of Dan Gilroy’s debut film? Oh, just the complete and utter definition of the word sociopath. Gilroy, who has written such films as The Fall, The Bourne Legacy, and everyone’s favorite robot boxing film Real Steel, gives us a look at a perfect sociopath. Cinema has given us plenty of good examples of sociopathic tendencies before. Christian Slater played a sleazy one in Very Bad Things. We have Michael Douglas’s Gordon Gecko, Nurse Ratched from Cookoo’s Nest, and Patrick Bateman from American Psycho. None of which can really hold a candle to what Jake Gyllenhaal brings to the table with his character of Louis Bloom. He is the pure definition of somebody who is unapologetic, selfish, wickedly intelligent, and completely lacking of any emotion whatsoever. The fact that he is also batshit insane also helps his case.

The film features Gyllenhaal in almost every scene. He is the one running the show. His character runs the show even though when we first see him, he has a camera bought at a thrift store and is driving what looks like to be a Dodge Dart Hatchback clone from hell. He is jobless and desperate. He tries to get a job anywhere he can, spouting off motivational phrases he read on the internet. He believes in himself. he believes he can get the job done. When he randomly stumbles across a car accident and sees that there are freelance videographers lapping at the chance to score some footage, Lou figures out he’d be perfect for this job. He obviously doesn’t sleep. The film makes it very clear with some gorgeous transitional shots that Lou is not a man of the daytime. He wakes at dusk and probably sleeps at dawn, although I wouldn’t be surprised that the man was functioning on some serious sleep deprivation. Lou starts getting some decent footage and the ball begins to roll into crazy town.

This is a wild ride. The trailer definitely portrays this film as a thriller and it lived up to it. There are plenty of great action scenes that build and sustain tension. The the craziness of Lou, the film really starts to get rolling towards the middle, culminating with a pretty tense and wild finish. The focus for me though, was the satire. This is a funny film. We have Lou and the news station he is dealing with throwing decency and morals to the wind in order to boost ratings and make money. Like earlier this fall with Gone Girl, Nightcrawler takes aim at how media, paparazzi, and general entertainment culture is killing what makes us human. Most of us I would say have compassion towards others. The film deals directly with true real life scenarios such as how every time I turn on the fucking news I’m being told about the death of somebody in the community. It’s no longer news. It’s reminders of how horrible the world can be and how careful we need to be in it. There’s a particular scene, the most uncomfortable scene in the movie, where Jake Gyllenhaal enters a crime scene and sells the footage to the news station. The on air reporters go through every single detail, on air, and describe the shit they shouldn’t be showing in the first place. Is it satire? Yes. No real news station would show the things they showed, but is it really any different than say showing the aftermath of a shooting in Queens? How bout we interview the grieving family of the 16 year old gunshot victim? It may be satire, but it’s on point. The media sucks.

It wasn’t flawless. I had issues with the end. It wasn’t that the film ended on a bad note or on a particular high note. It really just ended on no note at all. I don’t need my films to be tied up in a bow but the film just kinda of left some things unresolved and then ended abruptly. We had a climactic confrontation that led to credits. There was also some forced themes in one of the big scenes at the end that were just not needed. I don’t need to be told that Jake Gyllenhaal is a crazy lunatic. I’ve just watched him be that for two hours. These things didn’t ruin the film or anything like that. They are minor. They are however slight blemishes on what was a very entertaining and stylish film.

I haven’t gotten to the highlight though. Jake Gyllenhaal. The dude fucking killed it. He’s been killing it pretty recently (Prisoners and Enemy) but this was just the huge loony bin cherry on top. He lost 20 pounds for the role and really seemed to dive into the character. Lou has this weird personality where everything he says rolls off his tongue like some crazy motivational speaker. He is in control at every moment. There was one small nuance, where he meets Rick for the first time, where even though Lou is in no position of authority, completely sells the fact that he is running an up and coming business. He even corrects Rick to call him Louis even though he introduces himself as Lou to everybody else. Rick is his employee and he’s going to do whatever he says to ensure he accomplishes his goals. Gyllenhaal was able to make his face contort into that of a completely out of contact with reality psycho. His eyes bulge and rarely blink. He smiles at the peak of his manipulation to drive home what he wants. He is methodical in his logic, even when it comes off with zero compassion for the other person. As stated above, he is a complete sociopath, and he should be heavily considered for major awards once the season begins.

Dan Gilroy’s debut film is a hit. People are going to squirm, laugh, and disbelieve what they see because in reality, this couldn’t happen. Or could it? Could Lou really exist in this world? Yes. You just haven’t met him yet. You have however, probably watched his work on live television. Lou lives on in the daily meatgrind of shit that is passed off as news. Those photos of Jennifer Lawrence that leaked on the internet? That was Lou. That camera guy that Alec Baldwin punched in the face? That was Lou. Lou is an entire society of people wanted to exploit the worst days of everybody else. There is a perfect line near the end of the film that sums up the entire point of the film…

“If you see my face, you’re probably having the worst day of your life.”

4.5/5



Film Review : Whiplash (2014)

IMDB Score – 8.4
Rotten Tomato Score – 97%
Grand Jury Prize Winner at Sundance

Directed By – Damien Chazelle
Starring – Miles Teller, JK Simmons, Paul Reiser, Melissa Benoist, Austin Stowell, and Nate Lang

A promising young drummer enrolls at a cutthroat music conservatory where his dreams of greatness are mentored by an instructor who will stop at nothing to realize a student’s potential.

Wow.

Fucking WOW.

I have only clapped at the end of one movie(which was this year…Boyhood), but now I can say I clapped to two. I couldn’t help myself. The theater couldn’t help itself. Whiplash was that good. I turned to my friend with absolute glee and shouted “THAT WAS FUCKING AWESOME”. I was, and still am, completely blown away by this film. The plot is simple. Andrew (Teller) is an aspiring jazz drummer in the most prestigious school in the country. He is hand picked by Terrence Fletcher (Simmons) to join his competition band comprised of some of the best musicians in the country. While there are a small amount of secondary characters including the return of Paul Reiser, the film mainly focuses on the relationship between Andrew and his teacher; a relationship that grows more volatile by the second.

There just isn’t enough to say about this one. It’s an emotional rollercoaster that doesn’t let up from the starting drum roll to the final curtain. I was captivated the entire time. I’ve had experiences with all the parties involved. I saw Chazelle’s first film “Grand Piano” earlier this year and found it to be entertaining but ultimately forgettable. Miles Teller broke onto the scene with his role in “The Spectacular Now” but is mostly known for his college party films such as “21 & Older and Project X”. JK Simmons is a brilliant character actor who was perfectly cast as Jonah Jamison in the Spiderman films and always delivers an interesting performance. All three combine to give the highlights of their careers in this film. Teller is remarkable. He completely sells Andrew’s strive to be the greatest drummer the world has ever seen. He is passionate, dedicated, and driven. Simmons is a force of nature. It is, without a doubt, the performance of the year so far. He dresses in all black. His face is stone cold and the boom of his voice is thunderous. Not even the smallest mistake makes it past his ears and of you don’t fix it on the next try, you’ll be sorry. The thing is, never was anything he did, no matter how terrifying, ever over the top. Simmons played Fletcher with a frightening sense of realism that will notch him into the lists of greatest villains of all time. This thing was full on psychological horror film for most of its running time, and I couldn’t get more of it.

The films writer/director, Damien Chazelle, knocked this out of the park. The editing was perfect. The pace was perfect. The dialogue and story were engrossing. There was symbolism in the cymbalism. The sound design was amazing. The music was amazing. The man has made a perfect film. It’s always a good thing when as soon as the credits begin to roll, I want to go out and buy a ticket to the next showing. The final 20 minutes was one of the most batshit emotional tornado I’ve ever experienced. In minutes, I was on the verge of tears to almost jumping out of my seat with excitement. His script is uplifting, scary, and ambitious. It tells the story of people who try to be the best and try to get the best out of people. If you have EVER been REALLY REALLY good at something, this film will show you just how much you have to go.

I just…can’t say enough about this film. I know this review is kind of short, but I really just can’t talk about this film in too much detail. I’ve noticed that most of the films I review that I consider fantastic pieces of film, have short reviews. I want you guys to experience these movies with a general idea of what to expect but to still be blown away by completely unexpected events. This film is not a masterpiece. This film is like your grandma’s cooking. It may be lasagna, but there isn’t a thing you can find wrong with it or a thing you would change. I can’t wait to see this again. I can’t wait for it to be released in more theaters so others can experience it.

Fuck it. This is my film of the year. So earned. It was just my fucking tempo.

5/5




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