Review: Veronica (2017)

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SYNOPSIS: Madrid, 1991. A teen girl finds herself besieged by an evil supernatural force after she played Ouija with two classmates. – via IMDB

Ag pffffff. This movie. Why?! I got my hopes up, what with reading a lot of positive feedback and having it compared favourably to The Conjuring (even though that has no rewatch value, it’s really good the first time around). I was so ready for a horror that was going to be good, and I thought this might be it, being a Spanish horror and all.

Well. This is certainly not it. I don’t know, it pretty much irritated me from the off. I wasn’t a fan of the cast, the kids running all over the show the whole time annoyed me, the mother and her terrible parenting skills also only served to piss me off (for reals, it is not the teenage daughter’s job to keep the kids fed and clean and in school). It’s neglect, I don’t care what is said about it. Then there is our titular Veronica herself, and she was just so… dull.

Forgetting about the meh characters all round, I found that the story had no bite, and was pretty damn generic. Nothing fancy, nothing special, nothing we haven’t seen before, and certainly nothing that will stay with you after all is said and done. The best character was Sister Death, and she’s barely in it. The story could have been generic but solid. I suppose it is for others, but it did not work for me – it lacked tension and focus and the execution came across as sloppy.

Veronica is also long. Far longer than it necessarily needed to be. It almost put me to sleep at times what with the drag throughout it. Nothing made me go wow. Nothing. The score itself wasn’t too bad, I thought it a bit quirky but I liked it, so there is that.

Okay, I will stop now. I found Veronica to be a super disappointing, bland, lifeless experience. It was peppered with clichés and suffered from horrible pacing and too much screaming and a major lack of an engaging story. I didn’t find it to be atmospheric, either. It just was… there. Oh well. I would skip this, you won’t really be missing that a million other supernatural horrors haven’t done before.

Blind Spot Series 2017 Rankings

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So, another year gone, another twelve movies crossed off of my Blind Spot list. For the most part, I had particularly good movies this year. For the most part…

Anyway, as always, I decided to rank them all here.

12. Deliverance (1972)

Well. This. Fuck this movie. I will say it again, fuck this movie. Yep, totally hated it. I am sure you all remember the Shitfest-worthy meltdown I had about this. If you don’t, you are more than welcome to head on back to the review linked above to see how I raged. Ugh…

11. Once Upon A Time In America (1984)

Certainly not an underrated gem as I was led to believe, I was so amped to finally watch this gangster movie and was totally let down by it. What a waste of nearly four hours of my life!

10. Cronos (1993)

While I am always up for Guillermo Del Toro’s Spanish works, this one was not nearly as great as I was hoping it would be. It was not a bad movie by a long shot, but it does not stand equal to The Devil’s Backbone or Pan’s Labyrinth.

9. The Road (2009)

Dark, depressing, apocalyptic, The Road definitely paints a super depressing, far more realistic apocalyptic future than these movies usually portray. Viggo Mortensen is exellent, and Kodi Smit-McPhee also holds his own in the bleak movie. Worth the watch!

8. Say Anything (1989)

So pleased to have seen this –  it is one of those movies that is referenced all over the show, and I have never really known how it all fit in. Man, Lloyd Dobler is absolutely adorable and the boombox over the head scene finally makes sense now. Say Anything is sweet, but not to soppy your stomach churns. Enjoyed this one!

7. The Help (2011)

Okay, so right off the bat, this is not unpredictable, but that doesn’t make it bad. The Help is rather formulaic, and shies away from some of the sick history it is steeped in, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t find other ways to run home the story. There are terribly sad moments, moments that will make you mad, and some great sections with some fantastic humour, and the movie has heart. The cast, too, definitely sold this one.

6. Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)

I didn’t really know what to expect going into this, but I really liked this one. I thought it was funny and shot really well and rather strange, but it all worked. I would like to rewatch it and see if it holds up as well. I must admit, this is where I finally understood Tom Hiddleston’s appeal to the world – before he was just a decent actor. After this? Impressed. Plus I liked the humour in this. So deadpan. Swinton and Hiddleston make this a treat.

5. The Orphanage (2007)

Another one of those cult classic type movies I have vowed for years to get to and just never did, 2017 was the year that changed. The Orphanage is haunting, sad, beautiful and creepy, and has a solid story as a strong psychological aspect to it, making it a movie that gets under your skin and lingers long after, not just a typical, generic horror movie at all.

4. JFK (1991)

Conspiracy theories galore! Naturally this was totally going to be my cup of tea, and it totally was. There were some solid performances and I was particularly interested in how Stone would set out his case for JFK’s assassination. While I feel that it was heavy handed in forcing his interpretation of events down the viewer’s throat, if you watch this as a theory and not as the gospel of the answers to JFK’s assassination, you are in for a good time. Great starting point for those not too familiar with the intricacies of the infamous case.

3. City of God (2002)

I can see why this movie is so popular – it is so not an easy watch, but it is engaging, gritty, violent, realistic, and truly gets you thinking. It tells a super solid story and it draws you in, getting you invested in some characters from this nasty slum. It is depressing and yet completely enthralling, something I can see myself revisiting.

2. Rear Window (1954)

James Stewart man, what an actor. The man is amazing, and with Grace Kelly at his side, the duo was bound to impress. Hitchcock, too, weaves a tense one-room story, which is carried and fleshed out completely by a talented cast. The tension is palpable, the story is smart and engaging, and the pacing is just right. Rear Window is a well-crafted movie and definitely worth the time.

1. Atonement (2007)

Ah, Atonement. Where do we even start? My goodness, what a watch. While it is not completely perfect or shocking, and it is predictable in places, it is handled so well and is shot brilliantly – truly, what beautiful shots. James McAvoy is absolutely perfect here, sweeping us all up so completely in Robbie. Keira Knightley, too,  managed to not work on my last nerve. The two work together well, and Atonement tells one hell of a story, a journey I both loved and resented in equal measure. I thought it was told so well, and some details were handled with such aplomb. What a movie, though certainly not a light, easy watch.

November Blind Spot Review: City of God (2002)

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“You need more than guts to be a good gangster. You need ideas.”
– Rocket

SYNOPSIS: Two boys growing up in a violent neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro take different paths: one becomes a photographer, the other a drug dealer. – via IMDB

Man, I have been meaning to get to this movie for years and years and just never have, and finally I can cross it off my list. I don’t know about Top Ten Movies of All Time material or anything (which is where I see this movie listed often), but this movie is definitely fantastic and well worth the watch. It is heavy and handled exceptionally well, and comes across as authentic, not some attempt at a sob story from a dangerous area.

First off, City of God does not pussyfoot around in terms of the violence, drug use, and life in the slums. Oh no. You get kids with guns doing drugs and killing people and it is just the way it is, and you get a look at junkies, you see robberies and plenty murder. I have no issue with it, but I think some people might find it a little hardcore. I think it told the story in a gritty, brutal manner, and didn’t sugarcoat things.

City of God has an array of characters, and they are all interesting, all bringing a new facet to the story, and I quite liked that. The story is so interesting and immersive, being told in disjointed chapters which all fit together seamlessly as they are laid out. I was mesmerised from the off. It takes a few minutes to get rolling, but once it catches it barrels right along and it is so good. It is so heavy to see the conditions that people live in, and how the violence and danger was simply accepted as a way of life.

There are some heavy scenes that come up throughout the movie that just get your blood boiling (Li’l Zé, you are a supreme dweeb). Benny is a character you cannot help but like – he is just likeable. Yes, he’s in the whole drug racket and is respected and will do what is necessary, but he is also more level-headed and fair, so the people like him more. Rocket, our main peanut, is in a sticky situation all throughout the movie as he does not want to be either a cop or a hood, and I can’t think you would have a lot of options in the slums. Li’l Zé is a freaking crackpot crazy – no two ways about it o.O

Anyway, City of God benefits from a good cast that presents to us an uncomfortable but important and engrossing story. It is gritty and brutal, authentic and heartfelt. The film is shot well and the score works hand in hand with the visuals to draw you in. You become invested in what you are seeing, and the movie truly provokes viewer engagement throughout. You are fascinated, but you don’t want to be these people. For people uhming and ahing about this because it is subtitled, get over it. The story is awesome and you will hardly be aware of those subtitles.

August Blind Spot Review: The Orphanage (2007)

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“Seeing is not believing. It’s the other way around. Believe, and you will see.”
– Aurora

SYNOPSIS: A woman brings her family back to her childhood home, which used to be an orphanage for handicapped children. Before long, her son starts to communicate with an invisible new friend. – via IMDB

Finally got to checking this out, too, and again, another one I am pleased to have checked off my list. For years and years it has been recommended to me and I have always been like Captain Eventually about it, but this year was the year for me! I honestly didn’t know too much going in to watching this, not about the story, nothing (except maybe that the kid from above was in it), and I am grateful for that. This is the kind of movie where the less you know, the better.

The movie gets into the swing of things gradually, not too rushed or anything, and you get the backstory for what is going on. When Simón goes missing, the effect on the Laura and Carlos is heavy. Their hope dwindles as time moves on, and to see the way they handle it is really sad. I think the story is woven so well, because there is a psychological and emotional aspect to this and it is handled deftly throughout. You really get caught up in the story and their suffering, as well as the mystery.

The performances from Belén Rueda and Fernando Cayo are truly good, as they are the ones that sell the story to you throughout. The Orphanage is a creepy film – it does not go big for jump scares, but a subtle chill that creeps in, which is awesome. Jump scares are overrated, and I always prefer a movie that works more with the atmosphere and the psychology. This one definitely goes for more of a look at the parents, specifically the mom, and how she is dealing with it. I wish they had explored a little more how it was for her to be back at the orphanage she grew up in. 

So we have covered the performances and the pacing, which leaves us with how the movie looks and sounds, and I think both work wonderfully to weave that dark, mysterious, magical feel of it. It all works together to create a fantastic atmosphere. I  didn’t expect it to have as much of an emotional core as it did, but I really think it takes The Orphanage from being a generic mystery/horror to having a little dramatic spine which elevates the whole experience.

The Orphanage is such a good movie and it has so much going for it. I was mesmerised from the off and enchanted throughout. It is a magical, mystical, dark, creepy film, and well worth checking out!

April Blind Spot Review: Let The Right One In (2008)

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let the right one in poster

“I’m twelve. But I’ve been twelve for a long time.”
– Eli

SYNOPSIS: Oskar, an overlooked and bullied boy, finds love and revenge through Eli, a beautiful but peculiar girl. – via IMDB

LET THE RIGHT ONE IN

GRADE 7So, after all this time, it has finally happened. I got off my butt and watched a movie that has been recommended to me about fifty million times without fail, one that I will always “get to” but never have. No more, folks, the time had come to rectify that! I must say, I enjoyed this movie. It was slow, dark, took its time going places, didn’t rush too much, and focused a lot on Oskar, and the strange relationship that builds between him and Eli. It’s actually disturbing, but handled so well. The movie is littered with a lot of really beautiful but desolate shots, but it fits with the movie and makes it really pretty to look at, and gives off such a lonely, cold feeling. The movie also handles violence in such an understated manner, which was weird, but totally worked for this. Oskar was a really sad kid, and the bullying he suffered was awful. To watch how the other boys were bullied into bullying Oskar, too, gives that a whole different angle. It was horrible to watch, but to see Oskar gain some hope and fight back was also endearing. The film is rather haunting, and takes a look at how people form connections, and how deeply those connections can run. I found almost all of the supporting characters to be really flat and bland though, meaning that the impact of the relationship between these kids cannot always be see. While I really enjoyed this movie, and will surely watch it again, I was not super in love with it. Maybe because it has been hyped up for so many years, I expected more. That being said, I really did like it, don’t get me wrong. It was captivating, mesmerising and haunting, and well worth finally having checked out. Next on my list is to read the book (at some point – I also have a huge to read list) and fill in missing parts of the story, and clarifying other things. 

September Blind Spot Review: Amélie (2001)

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amelie poster

“So, my little Amélie, you don’t have bones of glass. You can take life’s knocks. If you let this chance pass, eventually, your heart will become as dry and brittle as my skeleton.”
– Raymond Dufayel

SYNOPSIS: Amélie is a shy waitress in a Montmartre café. After returning a long-lost childhood treasure to a former occupant of her apartment, and seeing the effect it has on him, she decides to set out on a mission to make others happy and in the meantime pursues a quirky guy who collects discarded photo booth pictures. – via IMDB

amelie

GRADE 7.5I have looked at this cassette and later DVD for so many years. Since it came out. It has always caught my eye, I have always wondered about it, and yet I have never gotten to it. This Blind Spot was the ideal place to ensure that I finally got to seeing it, and I am so glad that I did. Despite the fact that I am not a fan of French at all (putting it mildly), this movie is so touching, quirky, endearing and immensely entertaining. The humour is so juvenile and really has you giggling like a conspirator throughout, and I think that Audrey Tautou was absolutely perfectly cast to play the delightful Amélie. She was adorable and had just enough naivete working for her to pass it off as the real thing. I was always looking forward to seeing what the hell she would get up to and how she was going to pull it off. She was sweet and had a sense of justice going that was quite childlike but it worked, she had an imagination that was astounding, and her fascination with Nino was adorable – their little courtship was one of the better executed ones that I have ever watched. You were rooting for them the whole way through. They were both so weird and quirky that ultimately they would do nothing but complement each other. Mathieu Kassovitz was just amazing opposite Tautou. I liked the supporting cast, too, as they all contributed something to the story. I was a fan of Lucien, humble and a little dim-witted but full of love and excitement for life, and Raymond Dufayel was wonderful as Amélie’s encouraging friend who always had a few words to share, whether she found them useful or offensive. I had to laugh at Collignon and the suffering that he was (rightfully, in my opinion) put through for being such a douche. Amélie truly did some beautiful things for the people around her, and to see how all her schemes came to fruition was a thing of wonder (except you really have to wonder about the whole concept of Georgette and Joseph).