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.

Sporadic Scene: Only Lovers Left Alive (2013) – Adam and Eve Dance

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Only Lovers Left Alive is a strange little film. Dark, comedic, sweet. Adam is a reclusive, depressed musician whose wife of the last few centuries reunites with him, and their odd but perfect little relationship gets some rejuvenation. A scene that stands out as something truly beautiful is this dance that the two shared after Eve chastises Adam for his self obsession, and not seeing the bigger, more beautiful things in an endless life.

June Blind Spot Review: Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)

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“When you separate an entwined particle and you move both parts away from the other, even at opposite ends of the universe, if you alter or affect one, the other will be identically altered or affected.”
– Adam

SYNOPSIS: A depressed musician reunites with his lover, though their romance – which has already endured several centuries – is disrupted by the arrival of her uncontrollable younger sister. – via IMDB

You know, this was an odd one. Even after all these years, I was not quite sure what this was all about, only that the characters were vampires. I was pleasantly surprised with the movie, after I had spent some time chewing on it, that is.

Okay, right off the bat I want to say that the film was extremely visually appealing. It was all shot at night, and everything looks dark but never really dreary, just sort of… I don’t know, typically that dark and romantic vampiric vibe. It really was pretty to look at. The score, too, complements the film every step of the way, and the sight and sound combining like they do really set the tone and the atmosphere for the movie, and then the rest is up to the cast, and boy, they really work that. The comedy in this is also very sharp, and delivered effortlessly throughout and never comes across as jarring, yet it is also extremely subtle.

Tom Hiddleston is fantastic. Really. His Adam is quite a complex character who truly entertained me. He is reclusive, haunted and depressed, yet brings massive amounts of humour to the table, which I thoroughly enjoyed. He is classy to boot, and absolutely gorgeous. Tilda Swinton, as always, delivers a solid character, and Eve is one that I quite liked. She gets this almost childlike joy out of things in the world still, despite having been around so long. Adam and Eve perfectly complement each other, and are just this incredibly beautiful, mysterious couple. Hiddleston and Swinton worked wonders together – they just click, everything falls into place when they are together. There is this comfortable, passionate energy between them.

Wasikowska, while breezing in and out, irritated me, and yet provided comedic scenarios in the midst of all the heaviness that was present. Hurt, of course, is excellent here, and his character is a good one, one I could definitely have seen more of. Naturally Yelchin shone here, as expected. While Adam might hate the “zombies”, he has quite the appreciation for Ian, and I liked how that was handled.

Only Lovers Left Alive is dark, haunting, comedic, sophisticated, and most certainly well worth a watch. It’s a movie you chew on after the fact, and that is something that I appreciate. Definitely a different kind of vampire film, and I liked that. This movie is not going to appeal to those who do not enjoy a slow burn film though, or a movie which is not spoon fed to you. There are a lot of little nuances here, things that make the bigger picture that much better.

Review: Doctor Strange (2016)

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“Death is what gives life meaning. To know your days are numbered and your time is short.”
– The Ancient One

SYNOPSIS: A former neurosurgeon embarks on a journey of healing only to be drawn into the world of the mystic arts. – via IMDB

Goodness, it only took me forever to get to this! Finally I did so, and I must say, it is a Marvel film. It’s just what you expect. Good actors, decent story, decent effects, a silly love interest thrown into the mix, and some humour… you know, the regular recipe. This felt like your average Marvel film, which is both a good and a bad thing. It means you get a consistent viewing experience on the one hand, and on the other, it’s pretty generic and won’t stay with you forever. Yes. I said it.

I didn’t buy into the hype when this came and people lauded it. That is done for all Marvel releases, and only some of them are actually worthy of it. That being said, I was still interested to see what the studio would do with this, especially when I heard it get compared to things like Inception and The Matrix. I needed to see. I agree I can see where some of these comparisons come in, but unlike the other movies, there is not real stroke of brilliance here. For all the magic and sorcery that was spoken about, it just didn’t have the same vibe and feel here. It felt like things were rushed a bit, yet the movie felt overly long – yes, the pacing was a bit of an issue.

Doctor Strange did look good though. Really good. There were actually way too many effects going on for me, but I also think it was handled really well and looked awesome. The movie was also carried by an exceptionally good cast, and they all performed as best they could with the material they were given.  I think Cumberbatch was a fantastic choice to play Doctor Strange. There was the super awesome cape (I totally need one of those), and I enjoyed some of the humour. Wong was the best, and there was all sorts of mystical knowledge to be explored. It even had Mads Mikkelsen in it, peeps. But all of that could not save the movie. Ultimately it is rather forgettable. There is a very unfortunate love story squashed in, the pacing is all over the show, the story is actually pretty damn weak, and it never really goes for gold. Well, it feels like it doesn’t.

At the end of the day I was not bowled over as most people were. It is not a bad movie, not by a long shot. It is entertaining, looks good, and has an awesome cast attached to the project, these things cannot be denied. But the experience is pretty flat, there is nothing really new brought to the table, and it will not stay with you after all is said and done. For popcorn entertainment, it wasn’t bad, but it isn’t something I will be rushing to rewatch.

Rapid Review: Constantine (2005)

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constantine poster

“What if I told you that God and the devil made a wager, a kind of standing bet for the souls of all mankind?”
– John Constantine

SYNOPSIS: The story of irreverent supernatural detective John Constantine, who has literally been to Hell and back. When Constantine teams up with skeptical policewoman Angela Dodson to solve the mysterious suicide of her twin sister, their investigation takes them through the world of demons and angels that exists just beneath the landscape of contemporary Los Angeles. Caught in a catastrophic series of otherworldly events, the two become inextricably involved and seek to find their own peace at whatever cost. – via IMDB

constantine hell

GRADE 7.5This is a movie that really isn’t as bad as people make it out to be, and I thought that Keanu Reeves was, in actual fact, cast really well for the role. I thought that the way the movie was laid out was decent, and the story itself was cool, too, though there were some inconsistencies and plot holes. That plagues most movies though. I have a soft spot for this. Constantine really is the most bizarre and hardcore exorcist, and he is hell bent on enforcing the balance. The cast was also good, and even Rachel Weisz didn’t get on my nerves or anything. Constantine boasts some insane cheese, but it works absolute wonders here. The war that was described in the movie between Heaven and Hell was interesting, and the way that Hell looked was impressive, too. I didn’t think the effects were awful or anything, especially when taking into consideration how long ago this was made. Keanu Reeves rocked the white shirt, black tie, black pants, severe smoker and tortured soul thing – so good at being deadpan – I really thought he was well suited, despite what so many other people have to say. There is just insane amounts of fun to be had with this movie, really. It has a cult following for a reason. It had cheese in the right places, humour, too, and a solid cast to carry it. The effects weren’t bad and the progression was exactly what it needed to be. The movie manages to introduce us to Constantine and his world before immersing itself in the battle between Heaven and Hell adequately, so that we are not thrown into the deep end and left floundering. Also, I need to make mention of the tease that Constantine was in this… I mean if I were Angela I would have flipped out with his lingering and never doing more. The frustration. Poor woman. Anyway, if you haven’t seen Constantine, I think it is well worth looking into and a good time to boot, just don’t take it too seriously, you will ruin the experience for yourself. Oh, and embrace the cheese.

Review: Snowpiercer (2013)

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snowpiercer movie poster

“Know your place. Accept your place.”
– Mason

In the year 2031, the world has been destroyed. Global warming was becoming a serious issue and an experiment was launched to cool the atmosphere, bringing temperatures back to a more manageable level. Instead it froze the atmosphere, killing everything. Well, almost everything. On board the very special Snowpiercer, a perpetual-motion train created by Mr Wilford, there are survivors. The Snowpiercer ceaselessly travels a globe-spanning track, housing the only survivors of Earth. Cutis Everett (Chris Evans) seems to be someone that the residents look up to, someone they consider a leader – a role he is extremely uncomfortable with. They live in a few train cars, decrepit, poverty stricken, filthy… the lowest of the low. This is their world now. There is no way to better yourself, no option for advancement, nothing. It seems that a rebellion is brewing in the bowels of the train, to stop living in fear and as someone else’s slaves. The oppression must end. This is not living, this is captivity. Curtis’s right hand man, Edgar (Jamie Bell), is prepared to do whatever Curtis wants to get this rebellion underway. Curtis is communicating with Gilliam (John Hurt), a survivor of the last rebellion and a confidant of Curtis. They are receiving instructions from someone further up in the train, someone they believe to be in a position of power. They receive their notes in tiny silver capsules embedded in their protein blocks.

snowpiercer awakening security

“I belong to the front, you belong to the tail.” – Mason

When some woman comes from higher up in the train, she takes with her two children, one of Tanya (Octavia Spencer) and Andrew (Ewen Bremner). They viciously attempt to stop this, but are unsuccessful. Soon after Curtis realises that they are running out of time, and the rebellion’s time frame moves up significantly. They will have to start sooner than anticipated, and immediately they start. Tanya joins them in a desperate attempt to recover her son, and they are off. Their first stop is to fight through the security they are faced with after Curtis realises that the guns the guards wield must be empty, the bullets were used up in the last rebellion. They make way to the prison section where they awaken Namgoong Minsu (Song Kang-ho) and request his help, seeing as he was a part of the security of the train. He is a Kronal addict, and will only assist them if they supply the drugs for him and his daughter Yona (Go Ah-sung), who was sleeping in the next container, as long as he opens the doors on their journey to the front of the train. Relenting, the rebellion moves on. Lives are lost as the battle wages.

snowpiercer smoking

Gilliam sends Curtis along with Mason (Tilda Swinton), a higher up on the train, though not yet the all-powerful and extremely elusive Mr Wilford. She is a loyalist in the most extreme sense. Using her as a captive and guide, a small group of survivors advance once more. Curtis and his fellow tail end train people are horrified to learn that the other inhabitants of the train live in the lap of luxury, something that most people cannot even recall, some never even had access to that when Earth was normal. While they battled and lived in squalor, there is a huge section of the train that enjoyed tailors, restaurants and gardens, amongst other things. The train builds from the slums into a stunning area. Namgoong and Yona are seemingly on another little mission, and it does not take long for Mason to try and save her own skin again, attempting to turn on Curtis and his people. Curtis is intent on making it to the front of the train and facing Wilford himself, though Gilliam insists that he kill him and not give Wilford a chance to talk his way out of it. The children are still missing, and there is no luck in finding them, though it is evident that they were far forward on the massive train. As the journey through the Snowpiercer continues, the elite start fighting back – or, at any rate, Wilford and his security lot do, making this revolt that Curtis is a part of all the more difficult. Many more obstacles present themselves, including many that start to chip at Curtis, designed to bring him to his knees.

snowpiercer gilliam

Will Curtis and his group make it to the front of the train? Will he finally face off with Mr Wilford, the most revered man on the train? Will they ever be able to balance out the poverty and the comfort that the member of the train experience? Will this be the first successful revolt upon the Snowpiercer? Are their days of oppression almost over?

snowpiercer rebellion

“They’ve got no bullets!” – Edgar

GRADE 8.5I kept seeing reviews about this popping up the whole time and figured I should totally find out what that was all about. I went in relatively blind (again, I do my best), and I was pleasantly surprised. This movie was bizarre, but it was very well done. It had everything stacked against it due to the really closed environment and all that, but it turned out to be amazingly well done. I loved the camera work and the score. Chris Evans gave a wonderful performance, and (no spoilers, relax), the story that was told at the end really just bowled me over, his delivery was perfect, it was flawless. Song Kang-ho was equally impressive. I thought the two worked fantastically together. Song’s Namgoong was definitely a great character, definitely my favourite. He brought so much to the table. The plot itself was actually pretty good, though there were some things that I questioned, if you don’t worry too much about it they will become superfluous. At the same time, the issues are nothing to really get hung up over and allow to detract from the movie. I had no idea how they were going to sustain the concept, seeing as the train is small and a closed environment, but that was sorted out relatively soon, too. The movie is long but never actually go to the place where it felt that way for me. Tilda Swinton was absolutely disgusting in this, and she played her role well. She grated on my absolute last nerve. Gilliam was also a very cool character and I enjoyed him. The rebellion that they led from the tail was impressive, and there were plenty moments where it got incredibly intense. The movie, as I said, was really bizarre, but it just worked for me, I was truly very taken with it. I thoroughly enjoyed all the themes that it explored about society and class, government and leaders… it was interesting. It was a pretty movie to look at, too. I would recommend checking this one out!

Review: The Beach (2000)

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the beach poster

“We all travel thousands of miles just to watch TV and check in to somewhere with all the comforts of home, and you gotta ask yourself, what is the point of that?”
– Richard

Richard (Leonardo DiCaprio) is holidaying in Thailand for the summer. He is a student roaming the foreign country, but he is alone. He wants something new, something different, and is not impressed when he is in Thailand and doing all the same things he would have even if he was not on holiday, only now in a foreign country. Looking for more, he meets Daffy (Robert Carlyle), a Scotsman, staying in the room next to his. The two smoke a joint together and Richard establishes that Daffy must be a little loopy after he is told about a secret island which is a true paradise. Richard discovers Daffy’s corpse the next day along with a map to the rumoured island. Richard immediately asks a foreign couple also staying at the same hotel if they will join him, seeing as he has been a little interested in the girl, Françoise (Virginie Ledoyen).

the beach daffy

“I just feel like everyone tries to do something different, but you always wind up doing the same damn thing.” – Richard

Her boyfriend Étienne (Guillaume Canet) organises most of the transport there, and on the final island they will wait and swim across the expanse of ocean to reach the unattainable island. Richard meets two Americans while on the way. They speak of the myth of a map that will lead them to paradise, and Richard denies knowing anything about it. However, the next day he copies the map and leaves it for the two. Richard, Étienne and Françoise swim across the section of ocean to the island and reach it. However, they first reach a heavily guarded marijuana plantation, and realise that there is more going on on the island than they though. Avoiding detection by the marijuana farmers, the trio moves along, and soon starts fighting when they do not find the rumoured paradise. After a while, though, they are met by Keaty (Paterson Joseph), who takes them to the rest of the secluded community, and the trio makes their home.

the beach friends

“I think in miles, not kilometres.” – Richard

They are truly living in paradise, and soon Françoise and Étienne drift apart, and Françoise leaves her boyfriend and starts a relationship with Richard. The community is peaceful and fantastic, like an everlasting vacation. Richard is in love with his new life, and wishes to stay here for ever. However, life is soon derailed when Richard is asked to accompany community leader Sal (Tilda Swinton) to the mainland for supplies, where she discovers he made a copy of the map even though he had promised the community that he had not. Instead of telling the others, she “buys” his silence by blackmailing him into having sex with her. Returning to the island, Richard will not tell Françoise what happened on the mainland seeing as he wants his perfect life to continue.

the beach map

“They didn’t ask me about the map, so – I didn’t tell ’em.” – Richard

Two Swedish fishermen named Christo (Staffan Kihlbom) and Sten (Magnus Lindgren) are attached viciously by sharks. Sten dies but Christo survives and suffers on seeing as Sal refuses to let him return to the mainland for treatment and then reintegrate into their society. Soon the community locks Christo out as he is killing their happy vibe. Cracks start to show in the community, and Sal discovers the American surfers have made it to their island, and tasks Richard with sorting it out. However, after all sorts of drama, it seems that Richard’s mind is waning. Daffy has become Richard’s closest friend. Will he recover the map and convince the Americans to simply go home? Will the community ever let him back into their ranks? Will he be able to maintain the secret of his affair with Sal from Françoise and Sal’s boyfriend Bugs (Lars Arentz-Hansen)? Will his peaceful life continue?

the beach richard losing his mind

“I had nothing left to offer but pure reflex. Pure reflex and mankind’s basic drive for survival.” – Richard

A 6.5/10 for The Beach. No revolutionary film here whatsoever, but still not a bad watch either. There is a lot wrong with the movie and there is a lot that works for it. Tilda Swinton was very good as Sal, though she was an incredibly unlikable woman overall. Leonardo DiCaprio gave a solid performance as a travelling student who seeks more from life and ultimately gets it and is unwilling to let it go. His descent into losing his mind was done incredibly well. The Beach that they had found paradise on was gorgeous. The way that the story unfolded and showed that perfection can even be soured was very good, because nothing is ever really going to stay a certain way forever. The peaceful community was lovely, though I thought it was a little mad how Richard and company were accepted and invited in with no problems but the Americans were shunned so badly. It didn’t really make sense. The whole movie sort of left me looking for something more at the conclusion but was never offered. I really didn’t like the way Françoise treated Étienne, and I really felt for Étienne, who was a pretty damn good guy at the end of everything. The way the community treated Christo after his attack was sickening, though it was also underscored that no matter how much pain he was in, he was not prepared to let the island go and never return. A point of amusement for me was how everyone was staying on this island, escaping everything from the populated world and all that but at the same time they want the paper from the mainland, bleach to look the beach life part, batteries for Game Boys, etc. That was funny to me. I will be honest and say that I never read the book, and I truly doubt that I ever will because it is not the kind of story that I am really into. This is a movie worth looking into and something you can certainly see Danny Boyle’s stamp on, but truly not really the best contribution from him.