January Blind Spot Review: Eastern Promises (2007)

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“Anger is dangerous. It makes people do stupid things.”
– Nikolai Luzhin

SYNOPSIS: A Russian teenager living in London who dies during childbirth leaves clues to a midwife in her journal that could tie her child to a rape involving a violent Russian mob family. – via IMDB

I have been meaning to watch this for ages (imagine that?!) and decided it was time to get it off my Neflix list so I could at least move on with my life, and I have always heard how good Viggo Mortensen is in this one. Well, let me tell you, he is hands down the best thing about this movie, that’s for sure. I know Mark, another instance where you and I aren’t seeing eye to eye 😦

I found Eastern Promises to be tonally uneven, and the story skipped around too much for my liking. Not artistically, either, just messy and contrived. There were moments in this where you could totally see how great it could have been. It dealt with a heavy story and had so much more potential than it ultimately went with. Like, there were moments I sat there and I was like “wow, this could have been phenomenal“, but the execution, off-key acting and everything just bogged it down.

I like Vincent Cassel, but he just didn’t nail this down properly, and came across as more awkward than anything. Armin Mueller-Stahl is also good, and does the sinister Russian mob boss just fine, what with a more understated portrayal. Naomi Watts just didn’t really work for me – she didn’t come across as sincere at all. But then, I find that to be the case with her more often than not. That brings me to Viggo Mortensen, and holy crap, he was fantastic here. I mean, the guy is a solid actor, and this outing from him highlights that about him once again. He can rise to the occasion, and looks like he did a lot of research for this role, and he comes across as authentic. He was well worth the watch, and made the movie worth watching. 

The violence you see in this is not too frequent, and isn’t as crazy as some movies (I totally think that stupid fucking Saw franchise warped my concept of what is considered “violent” more than it was before that), and it pretty much all served a purpose, it wasn’t just random and there to be there.

Overall, I found Eastern Promises to be a movie that didn’t have the guts to go for glory, or just missed out on the vision. Not a terrible movie, but it is a rather flat affair all round, except for Mortensen, who really gets into his role of Nikolai.

July Blind Spot Review: Mulholland Drive (2001)

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mulholland drive poster

“Now… did you answer cause you thought that’s what I wanted to hear, or did you think about what I said and answer cause you truly believe that to be right?”
– Cowboy

SYNOPSIS: After a car wreck on the winding Mulholland Drive renders a woman amnesiac, she and a perky Hollywood-hopeful search for clues and answers across Los Angeles in a twisting venture beyond dreams and reality. – via IMDB

mulholland drive

GRADE 7I have always heard about this movie, it gets referred to a lot, and it is still something I never got to, hence it made it onto my list. Let me say this right off the bat: it’s a really weird movie. I was drawn to it and watched it, and was entertained, though I don’t know why. Not that much happened, but it is so strange you watch it, and even by the end nothing is really answered. This is not the total mind screw movie I was expecting, like where it comes out of nowhere and breaks everything you thought you knew, but is a movie to play with the mind in the sense that it is just what it is, and it will not be explained, and you deal with it. The soundtrack is this eerie thing that is constantly playing in the background, and all the characters are acting in such a way that it comes off as incredibly conscious, if that makes sense? Like they were really deliberate, and made sure that you knew it. It just seemed unreal. The movie has two sides, and you never actually get to know how precisely they slot in – the film does not investigate that too much. It gives you enough to theorize with, but no more than that. Now, I can see why some will love this movie, why others will hate it. It is just the kind of movie that will evoke that kind of thing. There were moments where I was drifting towards bored territory, and didn’t really like any of the characters. I had a good laugh at Kesher pouring all the pink paint in his wife’s jewellery, though that was also a whole different scene. Everything is just superbly bizarre in this movie, I stopped trying to understand it as a straightforward film, and found that it helped more, though I believe that Mulholland Drive is extremely overrated. It does not live up to the hype or deserve it, but that is purely my opinion on the matter. I am no student of film at a university or anything fancy, but I do love movies, and this was not one that ticked all the boxes for me, though I did enjoy the peculiar element to be sure, it is something I like to delve into from time to time.

Rapid Review: Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014)

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birdman poster

“Popularity is the slutty little cousin of prestige.”
– Mike Shiner

SYNOPSIS: A washed-up actor, who once played an iconic superhero, battles his ego and attempts to recover his family, his career and himself in the days leading up to the opening of his Broadway play. – via IMDB

birdman bang
GRADE 8There was hype around this movie, but it was something I had been waiting for and looking forward to see, then it released and got rave reviews. I had to know now if the cast was worth getting excited over the movie for. Let me tell you, it was. I loved the comedic aspect to Birdman, it was sharp and dark with a dash of quirk, and I liked it for the most part, though it certainly isn’t my favourite film or the next best thing I have seen in ages. Birdman was carried by a great cast. In all honesty, I wanted to see this specifically for Emma Stone and Edward Norton, both whom I absolutely love to watch. It all paid off. Michael Keaton delivers a powerhouse performance and just owned his role. I had a giggle to see Norton play an actor who is so difficult to work with, especially when he has a reputation of being so much like that in real life. Naturally, he was worth the watch every second he was on screen, and the interactions between him and Keaton’s Riggan were just fantastic. Emma Stone really sunk her teeth into the role of pissed off, drugged out, damaged daughter and she managed to rock that role, too. She’s just so good to watch, no matter what. My other half specifically commented on the camera work in this film, so now I will have to make mention of it. He loved the feeling it gave you and the way it made the whole movie look and feel different, and he was right. The incessant drum score worked, too, and it had all the potential to fail but never actually went there. I liked how, watching Birdman, it was aware of being a film but also brought in so many real life aspects (looking specifically here at Keaton’s career and choices and Batman as well as Norton and his reputation of being difficult to work with). It’s like… a film being real being film. I don’t know how to explain it properly, but those who have seen this will understand. Cara gave a wonderful explanation of this if you want to know a little more in her review of the film. I enjoyed Birdman and thought it was well worth looking into, though I can see how some people aren’t going to like it. As much as I liked this, though, I also feel that there is some extreme over-hyping going on over it. It is definitely going to lose out with some viewers who won’t appreciate everything, but overall it’s a nice watch.

Review: The Impossible (2012)

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The Impossible Poster

“After that, when I came up, I was on my own. That was the scariest part.”
– Henry Bennett

Henry Bennett (Ewan McGregor) and his wife, Maria (Naomi Watts) are happily married and living in Japan with their three sons, Lucas (Tom Holland), Thomas (Samuel Joslin) and Simon (Oaklee Pendergast), and are on a lovely Christmas vacation in Thailand. Their room was incorrect, but the ever helpful Thai hotel employee shifts them into a luxury suite closer to the ocean. Their peaceful holiday starts and is progressing wonderfully.

The Impossible Family

When such a wonderful vacation can be snatched away so quickly

On December 26 2004, the family goes to the pool with most of the other holiday makers at the resort. They are having a blast when a roar and a rumble takes on everybody’s attention. Before they know it, a massive tsunami rolls through the resort. The family is ripped apart, and when Maria surfaces, she cannot find anyone. Soon she spots her eldest son, Lucas, and the two make a desperate attempt to get to each other. Maria is badly injured, and Lucas is heartbroken. Locals eventually pick them up after they rescue another little boy called Daniel (Johan Sundberg) and escort them to the overcrowded hospitals. In the hospitals, Maria seriously needs surgery, and she sends Lucas off to do something, to help people. So he begins to go through the tsunami victims, trying to bring families together again. Lucas has taken it for granted that his father and brothers are dead.

The Impossible Tsunami

The start of the tsunami that caused immense damage

Meanwhile, Henry has recovered Simon and Thomas, and desperately wants to find Maria and Lucas. He starts his journey, while Maria and Lucas are on their own. Will the family be able to find each other, and will they all survive a paradise vacation turned sour? Will they make it out of Thailand alive, together as a family again?

The Impossible

Sticking together

I would give The Impossible 5.5/10. It just didn’t grip me (yep, I can see I am going to Hell for that). The event was truly disastrous and absolutely terrible, and the movie itself was not a bad depiction, there was just something wrong with the way that it was told. The movie got me, and at the same time it lost me. There was a lot that had me thinking if the director just implemented it differently, the movie might have felt a bit more whole and complete. This family was by far the luckiest family I have seen in a long time, and I am glad that things worked out so well for them. Another thing the movie got was the total terror that a tsunami brings, and the aftermath was shown quite well (such as the hospitals, what places looked like, etc.) I can only imagine the fear and the horror that a natural disaster like that can bring, and I would not wish to experience something like that. You really think about how lucky you are when you watch the film, I will most definitely give it that. I don’t think I will be watching it again in a hurry, or buying it.

Review: Dream House (2011)

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dream-house-poster_

“Once upon a time, there were two little girls who lived in a house.”
– Will Atenton

Will Atenton (Daniel Craig) moves his family into what is supposed to be his dream house, a new start on their lives and a positive spin on their future. His wife, Libby (Rachel Weisz) is an artist, and takes to moving into a new home with gusto. Their two daughters, Dee Dee (Claire Geare) and Trish (Taylor Geare), move with them. One evening, the girls come screaming to their father, who is trying to write his new novel after resigning from the publishing business – there is a man outside, a man with a funny face.

dream house familyWill does not take kindly to this, and soon discovers that some man has indeed been watching his family. He attempts to keep it under wraps in fear of scaring his family and ruining their dream of staying together in peace, love and harmony, but Libby knows he is keeping too much to himself. The house’s past is revealed: a family was brutally murdered in the house by the father, who was the only survivor even though his wife shot him in the head.

Teenagers gather in the basement, worshiping Peter Ward in that sick way children do when they are obsessed with death but lack the understanding that comes with it. Will banishes them from the house, but he needs to know more about the house, and goes on a mission to find out what really happened to the family that night, and wonders why the police are not very helpful in catching the perpetrator that has been stalking his family, and why the neighbours treat him the way they do. His neighbour, Ann Patterson (Naomi Watts) is more forgiving, and seems to have a soft spot for Will.

But what happens when you find out you are looking for the wrong answers? Will’s life collapses when he makes the gruesome discovery that he is Peter Ward, that he killed his family, and that he was the lone survivor. The elaborate world that has been created in his head and fueled by his dream house prevent his family from ever really leaving him alone, and Ann lets Peter know that she does not think he killed his family.

Can they piece together the mystery of what happened that night? Is Peter, in actual fact, the killer of his family, and will he have to find a way to come to terms with that? Will Peter ever find a way to move on with his life and bear the stigma of being labelled a psychopathic murderer?

I rate Dream House scores 5.5/10. I was lost for a little when they let the Peter Ward cat out of the bag so early, and they floundered for a while and then found their footing again. I really did not know what they were going to do with the movie after the big secret dropped, but they managed. I felt Dream House was an exceptionally sad movie, and it was actually pretty depressing at times. It was not a phenomenal movie, but truly it had its moments, and the execution was not too shabby, either. There were some serious plot holes, but not so severe (well, a little) as to cast the movie into oblivion. Overall, worth a look see at the very least.