Film Review : Big Bad Wolves (2013)

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IMDB Score – 6.9
Rotten Tomato Score – 78%
Netflix Watch Instant

Directed By – Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado
Starring – Lior Ashkenazi, Rotem Keinan, Tzahi Grad, and Guy Adler

A series of brutal murders puts the lives of three men on a collision course: The father of the latest victim now out for revenge, a vigilante police detective operating outside the boundaries of law, and the main suspect in the killings – a religious studies teacher arrested and released due to a police blunder.

First off let me say that even though I love his films, Quentin Tarantino is starting to piss me off. He’s a pretentious douchebag who happens to make some of the best films of the past thirty years. I’ll give him credit for that. I hope he continues making films for a long, long time. I do however wish that he stop talking, like forever. His claim that this was the best film of last year is just ludicrous and seems like he’s just trying to sniff his own butthole due to the fact that the entire film was a dragged out version of the scene from “Reservoir Dogs” when Micheal Madsen cuts that cops ear off. That isn’t to say I didn’t like the film because I enjoyed it, but it was nothing new whatsoever and for Mr. Tarantino to claim that this film was the best from last year just strikes me wrong. It just screams “Hey! I make movies like this! I didn’t make a movie this year so THIS is the best of the whole year.” Give me a break.

Now, apologies to the cast and crew of this film because even though it seems like I just took a huge dump on your film, I did find some enjoyment in the film. Besides a little set up, the entirety of the film pretty much takes place in the basement of a secluded cabin in which a father who just lost his daughter to a brutal rapist/murderer thinks he has found the killer. He thinks he has found the killer because the cop who is with him thinks it was him even though there is no evidence to suggest he’s right. There really isn’t much more meat to this film besides being a good old fashioned torture movie. Films like this come along a lot because it’s an easy script to write and you can get creative in the ways to torture people. This film didn’t get that creative. Hell, it wasn’t even that bloody. There were a few cringe worthy scenes but for the most part I was left wanting something a little more original. I was at least hoping for a shocker of an ending but instead I got an unearned twist that was suppose to hit hard but since the script decided to invest nothing in the characters themselves, I didn’t give a shit. The only thing I actually enjoyed about this film was the cast and the dialogue, which is what ultimately saved the film for me.

Tzahi Grad is a menace. He’s a huge presence with a deep frightening voice that was perfect in this role. His line of “Maniacs are afraid of other maniacs” couldn’t have rang more true. The guy was a pleasure to watch every single time he was on screen. His terrifying presence was helped greatly by some fantastic dialogue written for the characters. The writers decided to take a black comedy approach by taking a very serious script about torture, rape, and murder and gad the characters in this film be as polite as possible. In one instance, a character apologizes to the alleged serial killer for not offering him a piece of cake. This is before he is planning on burning him with a torch. I loved it. I thought it was hilarious. I wish the movie lived up to how funny it ended up being.

So while Mr. Tarantino was completely wrong about this film in my opinion, it was still a decent watch and is now streaming on Netflix. If you’re into horror movies and would like to see a black comedy dressed up as a horror film, then I’d suggest checking it out.

3/5

Suggested Viewing – The Loved Ones, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, I Saw the Devil




My Experience with The Raid 2

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Okay, so I had a disappointing night. If you regularly read my work then you’ll notice something is off. My usual set up of details regarding the movie is absent and I titled this in a very odd way. There is a reason for that. Tonight was honestly one of the most disappointing and frustrating nights of movie watching I have ever had. I’m going to start off by getting this out of the way…

I didn’t finish the movie. I walked out. I have only ever walked out of a movie once before (The Informant) and I am still in disbelief that I did. I don’t understand what went wrong. I’m going to try to figure it out in this post but I give you all fare warning, I’m going to spoil, in small ways, the first half of the film. I do however have a favor to ask of you…

IF YOU HAVE SEEN THIS FILM IN IT’S ENTIRETY AND DISAGREE WITH ME THEN PLEASE…PLEASE…COMMENT AND CHANGE MY MIND.

I honestly need you guys to convince me to go back and see the end of the film because I wanted to love this movie so much but I just couldn’t sit in the theater any longer. I left with about an hour left in the film and I need you guys to tell me it becomes badass in that last hour. There just has to be more but I honestly couldn’t take how bored I was any longer. I looked at my phone and realized that I had another hour and change left and I just couldn’t sit there any longer. Now, let me preface the following words by saying I did not think that this is a bad film. There is a huge difference between a bad film and a boring disappointment and “The Raid 2” was that of the latter. Now, let’s get into this so I can flush out the sadness…

So, like many of you, I loved The Raid. I think it is the best action movie since “The Matrix” and is my top five favorite action movies of all time. I didn’t care that the story was lacking or that the acting was amateur at best. I loved the fact that somebody made a balls to the wall fighting film that rarely let up and didn’t bow its head to Hollywood tropes and actually let the villains get away with some evil shit. I loved the fact that one of the main cops dies. I loved that I was rooting for one of the villains during most of the fights. I just couldn’t get enough of the film. So, naturally, when I heard the sequel was finished and that it was two and a half hours long, I salivated. I thought, if this is anything like the first film, but longer, that I would lose my shit. I refrained from seeing trailers in an attempt to go into the film totally blind and get my face rocked off. The podcasts that I listen to praised the film and the small lot of you guys that have seen the film gave positive reviews. I was ready. I just can’t believe I ended up walking out.

So the film starts off about two hours after the first film ended. This is deceiving because it really only takes place in that time period for about ten minutes before we’re thrown into a plot that is so boring and confusing that I honestly didn’t know what the hell I was watching. Our hero, Rama, has now been persuaded into an undercover position in order to protect his family so he spends two years in a prison getting to know the younger son our a local politician/crime boss. What follows plot wise, and takes up most of the film, is a boring and horribly written story that is trying very hard to be compelling but I could honestly give a shit. Where are my fight scenes? Where are my adrenaline filled, blood pumping, boner inducing fight scenes that I was given in the first Raid? I just didn’t get it. By the time I left there were three fight scenes that had moments of glory but ultimately left me unsatisfied in a way that some people experience blue balls. I was being prodded with glorious fight scenes for five minutes only to be left with talking for another twenty. It was an hour and fifteen minutes of tease. I just couldn’t handle it. I had to leave. I was going to fall asleep or worse, completely punch out of the film, so I folded. There wasn’t even any music in the film. Mike Shinoda contributed a hell of a lot to the first film by giving an intense and fun techno score that added to the fun. There was so much silence in this film that I almost fell asleep. The final straw was the fact that the man who played my favorite character in the first film, Mad Dog, was in this movie, as a completely different person. Let me rephrase the fact that this movie takes place in the same universe and directly after the events of the first film. Having the same actor, and having it be obvious, be in the sequel after he fucking dies, is just stupid. I had enough. I left.

Now, the management staff was kind enough to give me a pass to return and I do plan on revisiting and finishing the film. I ask you though to please help me get back there sooner. Does the film get better? Is the last half hour an incredible display of fighting badassery that I missed because I’m a snobby asshole? Please let me know in the comments because my disappointment was just too much to handle tonight.

I will post a full review if I ever return to this film. Please help me do so.

Film Review : Maelstrom (2000)

IMDB Score – 7.2
Rotten Tomato Score – 80%

Directed By – Denis Villeneuve
Staring РMarie-Jos̩e Croze, Stephanie Morgenstern, Klimbo, and Jean-Nicolas Verreault

After plunging her car into a river, a woman encounters a man who helps her come to terms with her life.

So…after seeing “Enemy” last week I decided that I needed to explore the back catalog of French Canadian director Denis Villeneuve who is quickly becoming one of my favorite up and coming directors. As I wrote last week, “Incendies” is one of my favorite films ever and “Prisoners” and “Enemy” entertained the shit out of me. I’ve heard interesting things from “Maelstrom” and interestingly enough, it so happened to be near the front of my Netflix queue so I push it to the top and here we are. Honestly, I wasn’t floored with the film like I was floored with his other work but I have my reasons for both sides of the argument. I will also note that this review will be brief as I do not enjoy giving out too many details of the plot, which in the case for the film was all over the fucking place. This wasn’t a bad thing by the way.

So that description above the previous paragraph? Yeah, you can go ahead and forget that. The story is really about the life of Bibi, the daughter of a famous French fashion designer that is going through a bit of a life crisis. The film opens up with her getting an abortion and the fun times just start pouring out after that. Poor Bibi. She just couldn’t catch a break, mostly because she’s kind of an idiot but she’s our protagonist so we’ll give her some slack. Bibi goes on to make a few bad decisions and by the middle of the film, has a great deal of guilt racked up on her shoulders. Did I mention we have a talking fish as our narrator? I didn’t? Silly me. Not only is he a talking fish, but he is many talking fish who are getting cut up as the story progresses. The film had a thing with fish. Water, the color blue, fisherman, TALKING FUCKING FISH…you can see the theme here. It was like Villeneuve watched the Three Colors Triology and a shit load of David Cronenberg and decided to write and film this movie. For good measure, he added a bunch of creepy spoken word tracks from Tom Waits, you know, you jazz it up a bit.

So it seems like I’m bashing the film. I’m not doing that. I am just in a weird mood and the sarcasm is leaking from my fingers. Truth is a ended up liking the film. Sure it had flaws. This is one of the first major features of a young director. Have you ever seen the first films of some famous directors? Some are horrid. Some are funny. Some are like this where you can see the originality oozing from the screen but the final product just isn’t as polished or coherent as you would like. I think this is either because young filmmakers have had an entire lifetime of film ideas to put into their first one that they over do it a little. Take Alfonso Cauron for instance. The man just won Best Director at The Oscars but if you go back to his first film, “Love in the Time of Hysteria”, which I reviewed on this site by the way, you’ll notice a film that is far from the quality of his more acclaimed films. It was a funny film but that’s about all. “Maelstrom” on the other hand was able to deliver some emotional scenes backed with some gorgeous camera work. The story was a bit muddy at points and seemed to skip around leaving unresolved questions but it was an experiment and an entertaining one at that.

Seriously, there’s a talking fish in this movie. He’s got a cool accent. I don’t know what his purpose was but it made me laugh.

3/5

Suggested Viewing – Three Colors Trilogy, Naked Lunch, The Sweet Hereafter, Incendies, Head – On



Film Review : A Single Shot (2013)

IMDB Score – 5.9
Rotten Tomato Score – 51%

Directed By – David M. Rosenthal
Starring – Sam Rockwell, Jason Isaacs, Kelly Reilly. William H. Macy, Ted Levine, Joe Anderson, and Jeffery Wright

The tragic death of a beautiful young girl starts a tense and atmospheric game of cat and mouse between hunter John Moon and the hardened backwater criminals out for his blood.

Ahh, back to my old roots of watching bleak films about backwoods crimes and the fight to survive. I rode the feeling I had from watching “The Lego Movie” for as long as I could before I got back to the more gritty cinema that I seem to find myself watching a couple times a week. I hope this isn’t a statement of my personality but light hearted comedies and children’s films just aren’t really in my interests. I’ve always gravitated towards dark drama/thrillers and my most recent film “A Single Shot” is a perfect example of the genre. It is not, however, a perfect example of a superior film of that genre.

I’ll be honest, there are just some things that peak my interest. Dark forests and Sam Rockwell are two of these things. The film centers around John Moore, played in typical magnificent fashion by Sam Rockwell. John is out hunting and accidentally pulls a Dick Cheney except instead of a mouthful of birdshot, the victim gets a shotgun blast to the chest and dies. This is in the trailer. This is in the synopsis. This is in the first two minutes of the film. The following two hours is a “wrong place in the wrong time” scenario that we have seen countless numbers of times. There isn’t anything new being presented in this film. The films director, David M. Rosenthal, is not known for many films, but is a talent behind the camera. This is a nice looking film. Most of the film has a dark, ominous color to it that only adds to the already suspenseful atmosphere of running around what I’m assuming is backwoods Kentucky. They may have stated where the film took place but I’ll be honest, I didn’t pick it up. The film reaks of similar films released in the last couple years including “Out of the Furnace” which was released at nearly the same time. The plots may be different but the feel is exactly the same. Everybody is dirty and talks like “Boomhauer” from King of the Hill. I almost turned the captions on because I couldn’t understand what the hell people were saying and it only got worse because as soon as I started to get the gist of what somebody was saying, they pop in chewing tobacco and it all turns to gibberish. Maybe this is why I don’t know where the hell this all took place.

Like I mentioned earlier, the film is nice to look at. The camera paints the bleak backwoods very well and the minimalist/dissonant score actually kept me from clocking out of the film. Sam Rockwell was also extremely good as he continues to prove he should be starring in more films instead of stealing scenes as secondary characters. In the end the bland, redundant, and sometimes unintelligible script was what did this film in for me. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before and it’s nothing we won’t see again. I suppose it’s worth a rental but don’t expect to be amazed by what you end up getting.

2.5/5

Related FilmsWinter’s Bone, The Hunter, Deliverance



Documentary Review – The Act of Killing (2013)

IMDB Score – 8.3
Rotten Tomato Score – 95%
Netflix Watch Instant
Academy Award Nominee for Best Documentary

Directed by – Joshua Oppenheimer, Christine Cynn, and Annonymous
Starring – Anwar Congo, Herman Koto, and Syamsul Arifin

A documentary that challenges former Indonesian death squad leaders to reenact their real-life mass-killings in whichever cinematic genres they wish, including classic Hollywood crime scenarios and lavish musical numbers.

What makes a great documentary? I used to think it was just the ability to find great footage and develop the story around it. Lately it has been the ability to portray humanity for what it really is…a continually evolving machine of good and evil. It helps when the subject matter is interesting to the viewer but what I want most in a documentary is a view of life on this planet that is not normally seen and certainly not understood. Joshua Oppenheimer knocked the genre on its ass this year when he released “The Act of Killing”.

The film centers are Anwar Congo, a former deathsquad leader who claims to have killed over one thousand people from 1965 to 1967. Over one million people were murdered during this time period. They were killed when the military took over the government and claimed that anybody practicing communism would be put to death without trial. Some of these people were actually communist but most were killed on the slightest whim by a death squad/youth member if they thought they were a communist. Some Chinese residents were killed on the spot just because they were Chinese. These killings were not only allowed but completely backed by the national government. Villages were burned down, women were raped, and the murders were of brutal and sadistic fashion. The people who carried out these murders are not behind bars. They were not put to death. They are the stars of this film.

When I used to watch the History Channel before it became a reality television network for rednecks without teeth or clothes that fit, documentaries and mini series would run constantly of WW2. Nazi’s marching up and down streets with hate in their eyes backed by the screaming lunatic that was Adolf Hitler filled the screen. We all know about the Nazis and what they did. I’m not going to explain that. I bring this up because what is happening in Indonesia right now is the little brother to what happened in WW2. The big difference here is that the Nazis are no longer in control. The same regime that put these murders into effect is still in charge today and the general public still laud these murderers as heroes. This backwards ass fantasy world is alive and well and brought to light by Openheimer and his crew. They follow Congo, a charismatic old man, and his partner Herman, a younger and more chaotic man as they recall their past and bizarrely reenact these stories on camera. They have convinced themselves that they are going to be on the big screen flaunting their stories of murder for all to see and appreciate. Bizarre is not a good enough word to describe these reenactments. They are completely surreal and whacked out fantasy garble unfolding before Oppenheimer and his crew. The crew, who are being told these stories of murder as if they were daily anecdotes occurring on the way to work, have to shut off their intuition to interfere and keep the camera focused on their subjects. The end result is one of best collection of truly terrifying real characters that even the great fiction writers of our day couldn’t come up with.

The film is shot through mostly steadicam shots fixated on the subjects at hand. There are no talking heads dictating what the viewer is going to experience. The film travels through one nightmare to the next as these men are paraded around town by governing officials and asked to be on television talks shows where they boast about their countless murders to cheering fans and adoration. Reenactments occur in the streets with actors being cast on the spot and who seem to be forced into portraying the victims of these murders during their last moments. Children are crying and some are laughing during these “scenes”. It’s as if the children don’t know how to feel since they were not around to witness the actual horror but are instead told through stories. The emotion on their faces goes completely unnoticed by the youth leaders and former gangsters as most of the children are asked why they are so upset. I mean, it was only an act!

Like the Nazis before them and their northern neighbors, the North Koreans, the entire population of Indonesia is either completely brainwashed into thinking this genocide was essential to their history or are scared to mention the fact that their government is made up of a bunch of war criminals. I asked what is essential in a good documentary and the answer is still up for debate, but there is no doubting that “The Act of Killing” is a one of a kind look into a culture that is centered around killing and yet sees no problem with it at all. It’s a chilling film that must be seen and can be seen if you have a Netflix account.

5/5