Review: Apostle (2018)

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“These people, they’re blasphemers, a cult, a disease.”
– Charles

SYNOPSIS: In 1905, a drifter on a dangerous mission to rescue his kidnapped sister tangles with a sinister religious cult on an isolated island. – via IMDB

Alrighty, so there have been a lot of horror movies for me to be checking out recently because it is the month of October, and I will not let that go to waste, as I am always looking for a horror. When my husband and I saw the trailer for this on Netflix, we were intrigued. It looked vicious and dark and nasty and (for me at least) there was Dan Stevens, and yes, that was a super seller for me.

We popped this on and immediately went into this weird and twisted little story. The movie is pretty damn good, but not without flaws. There are a lot of things I would have loved to have fleshed out more, such as Thomas Richardson’s faith and the breaking of it, as well as Prophet Malcolm’s family life, the building of the village, etc. We don’t get those things, but we get other things. For one, the violence and brutality displayed in Apostle really is intense. It starts slowly enough, and it might not feature in every second of the movie, but when it is presented, it is crazy. I swear, when we got the violence and crazy, I was literally yelling about that asshat Quinn and all the evils I desperately hoped would befall him. What a cruel, wicked man.

Apostle fluctuated between going really fast and drawing you in, and then slowly delivering on other things. For the most part, this worked. I also liked the atmosphere that the movie builds, but do feel that the score wasn’t always worked in tandem with the movie. That being said, their is a constantly feeling of dread, which starts low key but relentlessly builds throughout the run time, and I loved that. I am always really big on the atmosphere on a movie. I prefer a scary atmosphere way more than I prefer a monster. I also liked that Apostle’s story is different from what we usually get in the horror genre. Aside from all that, Apostle is also really beautiful to look at, what with the scenery and the sets. Very cool.

I have never watched The Raid movies (I know, I know, maybe one day), so I had no point of reference for what to expect from Gareth Evans. Maybe that worked in my favour, maybe not, I have no idea. I enjoyed Apostle, though there are flaws. I enjoyed watching Stevens, as always, and thought that there were plenty visuals that were fantastic in here (particularly looking at that immensely merciless branding). The violence and brutality in this were pretty harsh, but worked hand in hand with the film. While there were many aspects that could have been explored to make this resonate more, the fact that they weren’t does not ruin Apostle, but does limit it from being a truly great movie.

Rapid Review: Whiplash (2014)

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whiplash poster

“There are no two words in the English language more harmful than “good job”.”
– Terence Fletcher

SYNOPSIS: A promising young drummer enrolls at a cut-throat music conservatory where his dreams of greatness are mentored by an instructor who will stop at nothing to realize a student’s potential. – via IMDB

whiplash madness

GRADE 8.5Whoa, what an intense watch! I mean I know that the film garnered a lot of love and admiration since the release, and people have waxed lyrical about JK Simmons and the film and all that, but after finally having caught Whiplash, I get it. Whiplash is such a heavy watch, starting off innocently enough and then rocketing on to big and crazy things. Miles Teller was very good in here, and I enjoyed him, but JK Simmons is undeniably the star here. It was so interesting to watch the way that Andrew changes after he comes into contact with Fletcher, and it isn’t a small one, either, though it is gradual. I do enjoy the way this movie looks at pushing an individual to achieve more. Not everyone responds to positive reinforcement, but where are the boundaries when pushing someone? When is it too far? Whiplash explores this, and the bizarre relationship between Andrew and Fletcher will get you thinking. On one hand, you understand certain things that Fletcher does, and how he manages to get people to push themselves to achieve the very best they can, and on the other hand, Fletcher is a total toolbag that needs to be brought into line. Teller worked well, and I admire the dedication he put into the role, to up his drumming capabilities, etc. He played his part, and his splintering personality and change of attitude is mesmerizing to watch. As for Simmons? He owned the screen all the time, and when he was up there he did not fail to fascinate you and repulse you in equal measure. The film was visually stunning, and I loved the sound and the way the film was shot. It looked great. Also, the supporting characters are not really important in this movie, Whiplash is all about Andrew and Fletcher, and that is perfectly alright, seeing as it makes for a dramatic study on right, wrong, motivation, dedication, and change. Whiplash really could have gone a whole different, bland way, but the performances from Teller and Simmons, as well as the execution of the film, make it something commanding, domineering, riveting and thought-provoking. Damien Chazelle knew exactly what to do with the film to make it riveting and powerful, something that lingers for quite a while after viewing. I really loved the visuals in this, especially watching the drumming, the blood flying, the sticks, the concentration… that is without even hearing anything. It comes together very well, and I definitely enjoyed it!

Rapid Review: Blue Ruin (2013)

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blue ruin poster 1

“I’d forgive you if you were crazy, but you’re not. You’re weak.”
-Sam

SYNOPSIS: A mysterious outsider’s quiet life is turned upside down when he returns to his childhood home to carry out an act of vengeance. Proving himself an amateur assassin, he winds up in a brutal fight to protect his estranged family. – via IMDB

blue ruin

GRADE 8.5I read a lot of good things about Blue Ruin, and decided to finally watch it for Tyson’s “Recommended By” blogathon, and let me just tell you, it was amazing! Blue Ruin is not encumbered with a large budget, which sometimes means that filmmakers and directors take away from the story, acting, and plot to inundate it with useless action and effects. This movie suffers from none of that, and Macon Blair was absolutely brilliant as Dwight – that was damn near perfect casting, in my opinion. Blue Ruin is a slow burn, and I love a slow burn, especially when it is well laid out. It starts slow and deliberately builds to a phenomenal crescendo, and the journey there is enjoyable and intense all the way. In a very  understated fashion, the film builds an underlying tension you forget about, yet constantly find your body knotted up, reminding yourself to just relax and continue watching, and before you know it, you are at the edge of your seat again, and completely unaware of how you got there. I liked the story, too. Nothing we haven’t seen before or anything like that, but it was presented wonderfully and came together well, too. The entire cast worked very well with their material, and Devin Ratray was especially entertaining for me. Another budget film here, and I have to say that recently some of the independent film being churned out top a lot of their big budget counterparts, and I think that is exciting as hell. Dwight was also more convincing for the things his character was doing. He wasn’t your average everyday man who suddenly had to exact revenge and become a menace and unstoppable. I liked that he wasn’t suddenly so much more than he was. I felt so sorry for Dwight when he was introduced, he strikes such a pitiful character. Blue Ruin was shot stunningly, with some solid directing and great camera work. It’s not a really long movie, but it commands your attention from the off, and never gets boring. I liked that the score didn’t take over or detract from the viewing experience once, but complemented every step of the way. All I can say is that this movie really deserves to be checked out, and is worth the acclaim it has received. I am a fan of it, and I can see myself watching it again.