Review: Beast (2017)

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“Can you keep a secret?”
– Pascal Renouf

SYNOPSIS: A troubled woman living in an isolated community finds herself pulled between the control of her oppressive family and the allure of a secretive outsider suspected of a series of brutal murders. – via IMDB

My husband and I have really been struggling to find new movies recently that are good and that we are actually drawn to or interested in. Everything is just a remake nowadays, or bland, or just… no fun. So we saw this and figured why not give it a shot? Well folks, I am here to tell you that this one was well worth the watch! Definitely a slice of something different.

Right off the bat, the atmosphere is fantastic, and the score works hand in hand with the imagery to keep you uncomfortable, and with a feeling of dread and foreboding. It is truly unsettling. The performances also blend right into this, completely dominated by Buckley and Flynn. Beast gives up its secrets slowly but surely. Never so slow you get frustrated, but so gently and well paced that you forget that you are waiting for them. The pacing was definitely solid for this, building up into this slow burn thriller. The story builds steadily from the opening, and you are whipped up into this bizarre story of Moll and Pascal.

Beast definitely is a focuses on Moll and her crappy life, and how Pascal coming into her life has changed her, and the change is not necessarily bad, despite what her family thinks. Bits and pieces of her life are revealed, and it is a gratifying thing to make the discoveries with the movie. The characters set forth in this are truly horrible. Her family made my blood boil, and Moll herself had me fluctuate between pity for her and being repulsed by her, much like the emotions Stephen King’s character Carrie evokes in a person.

All in all, if you have not watched Beast and are looking for a solid thriller, I would highly recommend this. It comes together well, and the bizarre journey that you undertake with the characters reels you in. The movie also leaves you thinking for quite some time after it, picking the characters and their actions apart, and it has been a while since I have seen something that did that.

Review: The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

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“Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”
– Andy Dufresne

SYNOPSIS: Two imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency. – via IMDB

Seriously. Truly. Wow. I definitely know there are more eloquent reviews on this movie, and it has been discussed endlessly, and it is that great and all, but I am going to try and share my two cents about this movie. I decided to rewatch The Shawshank Redemption recently after watching Gone With The Wind. Not because they are remotely the same or anything like that, but because I was in the mood for serious(ly) fantastic movies.

Well, this certainly ticked those boxes.

The Shawshank Redemption has a great story to tell, sure, but it is the characters and the performances from the actors that played them that are really the stars here. Everyone lives their role, gets right into it, and because of that you are swept up into the narrative as delivered by Red. Red tells you Andy’s story, we see Andy’s story, and it is told with such spirit that you can laugh like crazy in some places and just love all that is going on, and then be driven to sadness and heavy contemplative silence within five minutes of one another. It’s an amazing thing when a film can so successfully balance the opposites like that.

Andy suffered some extreme situations while in Shawshank, but there were also some amazing things that he achieved, even while imprisoned. Naturally there are the men who went on to become Andy’s friends, headed up by Red. The band of men have great camaraderie between one another, and they really all respect each other and get along. They are quite tight-knit, and it is sweet. The Shawshank Redemption is a story told from within a prison, but there are large sections of time where you forget this fact when watching the men together, and then the point is run home when you realise that they have to barter to have a few beers while working, or that they have to report to someone the whole time.

The movie doesn’t really dwell on the crimes these men committed to land them in Shawshank. It focuses a lot more on Andy’s story, sure, but also how these men have adjusted to life, and how they have worked through the acts that landed them there. Some for the better, some not so much. It’s also something to say about the storytelling that the free, law-abiding men are all twisted and crooked, and the men on the inside, the convicted criminals, are often portrayed as the more trusty, honest lot. Interesting times.

The score for this is absolutely fantastic, and truly lends itself to the experience. The performances are all great, and the pacing for the story drags you in and makes you forget all about the clock, and I love it when a movie is able to do that. You feel genuine hope, happiness, anger and sadness when watching The Shawshank Redemption, and it is great when a movie can make you feel all these emotions, not just some of them. I would highly recommend The Shawshank Redemption, and if you have seen it, I think it is high time for a rewatch.

Review: John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)

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“You stabbed the devil in the back. To him this isn’t vengeance, this is justice.”
– Winston

SYNOPSIS: After returning to the criminal underworld to repay a debt, John Wick discovers that a large bounty has been put on his life. – via IMDB

I’m pretty sure you all know that I am a pretty huge fan of John Wick, and I have been eagerly anticipating this sequel for quite some time. I trekked off to the cinema opening weekend for this, and I was not disappointed. It is a strong sequel to be sure. This is what most sequels wish they could bring to the table, but fail at more often that not.

Chapter 2 is everything John Wick was, but amplified. Bigger guns, more bullets, more hand to hand combat than you can shake a stick at, just more extravagant everything. It has plenty of throwbacks to John Wick, which is amusing. There is much of the same, but more, if that makes sense. The movie is exciting and the action is engaging, and again it embraces the fact that the story is relatively skinny and rolls with it, and so the viewer is, irresistibly, drawn in all over again. The movie keeps it simple with the story, and indulges with the visuals and the score. I also really enjoyed the humour that was present in Chapter 2 – still my kind of humour. Keanu Reeves dominates as John Wick, and I simply love watching him in character. Ian McShane is, as always, a joy, and Broyles Lance Reddick also brought the goods.

All that being said though, I also had some issues. I felt the movie was a touch long, and while finally getting to see more of this super mysterious, elaborate assassin/criminal underworld, there were some niggles to be had. I am looking here specifically at the end, making it look like every single person in the whole city has ties to this underground organisation. Really? Sometimes the humour also didn’t land quite as quick, fast, and slick and the predecessor.

While Chapter 2 is an entertaining watch that hooks you from the off, I just don’t see how and why it is considered to be the superior of the two films. Totally worth the watch though, and definitely a movie I will be revisiting. It is smooth, well choreographed, exciting, stunning to look at, and is just plain fun. Absolutely recommended.

September Blind Spot Review: Insomnia (2002)

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insomnia 2002 poster

“A good cop can’t sleep because he’s missing a piece of the puzzle, and a bad cop can’t sleep because his conscience won’t let him.”
– Ellie

SYNOPSIS: Two Los Angeles homicide detectives are dispatched to a northern town where the sun doesn’t set to investigate the methodical murder of a local teen. – via IMDB

insomnia-cleaning

GRADE 8.5Wow. This movie was excellent, and just my cup of tea. I was drawn in from the moment the film opened, and just got sucked down the rabbit hole even further as the movie progressed. I want to start with how breathtakingly beautiful this movie is to look at. Wally Pfister delivers all the goods here again. Alaska was a gorgeous setting, and the film ran that point home at every available opportunity. As for Pacino? It’s films like this that showcase his talents, and he was fantastic here. Robin Williams, too, was so brilliant in these weird, creepy roles. Sometimes going against what you are known for is just the answer. The way the sound and images were used in this film to depict Dormer’s insomnia was so smart, and lent credence to all that was happening. Insomnia is also not your run of the mill thriller, as it has quite a lot of character development and background to chew on, too, which makes for an incredibly engaging watch. The plot development and progression was spot on and enjoyable, what with the story woven so expertly. It doesn’t pretend to break the mould or anything like that, and it doesn’t. There are no serious surprises, but that is not an issue. Instead you focus on the characters more so than just the case. This is a movie that looks and sounds great, and simply captivates you. The interactions between Dormer and Finch are enthralling, and the cast worked really well. I cannot believe it took me so long to get to this movie, because it is typically Nolan – brilliant, smart, engaging, and worth every second of your time.

If you haven’t seen this, don’t watch the trailer. Seriously, what a spoiler. I am so glad I didn’t watch it before the movie. My advice? Go in blind.

May Blind Spot Review: To Kill A Mockingbird (1962)

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to kill a mockingbird poster

“I don’t know if it will help saying this to you… some men in this world are born to do our unpleasant jobs for us… your father is one of them.”
– Miss Maudie Atkinson

SYNOPSIS: Atticus Finch is a lawyer in a racially divided Alabama town in the 1930s. He agrees to defend a young black man who is accused of raping a white woman. Many of the townspeople try to get Atticus to pull out of the trial, but he decides to go ahead. How will the trial turn out – and will it change any of the racial tension in the town ? – via IMDB

To Kill a Mockingbird

GRADE 8I really loved the book, we all know this. I thought it was beautiful and I can understand why it is such a revered classic. I didn’t watch this movie ever because I wanted to read the book first, and I thought that it was a damn fine choice for my Blind Spot movies this year seeing as I read the book last year only. Well, let me tell you, I was impressed with the adaption. Really. There is a lot that is wonderful about it, and it was mostly loyal for the most part. By this I mean it was mostly loyal to the parts that were actually used in the film. There were quite a few scenes that I simply adored from the book and the journey of Jem and Scout that were just not here, and much was underplayed. I missed the inner dialogue of Scout, who really painted a vivid picture of the times for us. Her dialogue gave the events more context and meaning, and with it not being present in the movie in any way, the finer nuances that made this story beautiful were missed. It was still a rich and fulfilling film for me because I have read the book and could fill in what was not there, and I still think that this movie will have an impact even if you haven’t read the book. However, looking at this film for what it was, it took the major issues from the novel and dealt with them. We know that race was a big issue in this book, and societal position and the Depression, but I think that the race dynamic could have been explored in more detail, as well as Atticus’s position in society. It was very sad to see the injustice, to see the performance Brock Peters gave as Tom Robinson, and just to see how the entire situation affected different people. I wish the film had worked more on Jem growing up a bit, the family ties between Atticus and his extended family and how even they didn’t really stand by what he was doing, as well as Scout having a real problem reconciling that she was a girl, though she was perfectly fine running around with the boys rather than having tea and scones. I adore Boo Radley, and the relationship he had with the kids, and really wish that more focus had been placed there, but alas, it is not so. Still, it was a wonderful thing for me to actually see Boo Radley, and Robert Duvall was understated but perfect in the role. Gregory Peck was phenomenal as Atticus Finch, and is pretty much exactly what I had expected of the character. I was a fan of his work and his performance, and it does surely deserve praise. To Kill A Mockingbird was shot very well, and looks lovely. It carried itself well, and the pacing was good. Phillip Alford and Mary Badham were wonderfully cast to play Jem and Scout, and I enjoyed their performances all round. The score was also suited and didn’t jar you from the experience with silly sounds and unnecessary and ill-timed music. This is a good movie adaption of a fine novel, though ultimately I am still a far bigger fan of the book (Hush! Could you just imagine?!) as there was just so much more detail, so many small things that made this story unforgettable for me, and that I would have loved to have seen on screen. Oh well, the world is not a wish granting factory. If you have not seen To Kill A Mockingbird, I would highly recommend it. It is a great story that is entertaining and fascinating throughout.