All posts by Kim

Baking, movies, music, photography, binging TV series and a growing love of living healthy and event coverage! I'm all about being versatile, going on new adventures and experiencing the fullest of what life has to offer!

Friday Film Club: The Edge of Seventeen (2016) & Art School Confidential (2006)

Hi folks and welcome to the The Friday Film Club where both myself and Elwood will be highlighting a film which we feel is worth checking out. At the same time we would love to hear your own selections whether you’re choosing to just name them in the comments section or join us in arguing the case for your film on your blog, let us know and we will share it below.

Kim’s Pick – The Edge of Seventeen (2016)

The-Edge-of-Seventeen.jpg

Having previously only written a feature romantic comedy Post Grad and a short film Streak, Kelly Fremon Craig wrote The Edge of Seventeen and took the reins as director as well. As a directorial debut, The Edge of Seventeen is a massive success. A lot of it goes into the charming tale of a teenage girl navigating her life to find purpose and comfort in her own skin as she navigates love interest, best friends and family. 

The Edge of Seventeen is about a teenage girl Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) who lives in self-hatred, strengthened by her envy towards her perfect brother Darren (Blake Jenner). Her life is one with a best friend who during a party ends up having a fallout due to her brother and best friend starting to date. Amidst finding a new friend in classmate Erwin (Hayden Szeto) who tries to win her affection, seeking support in school from teacher Mr. Bruner (Woody Harrelson) and making some bad decisions, she starts embracing the issues that have been weighing her while realizing that the people around her that she cares about also have their own problems and not as perfect as she makes out. 

Nadine’s navigation through this chapter in her life is an entertaining, snarky and yet bittersweet experience full of coming-of-age lessons. Her story is touched with a little romantic tangent and friendship but it never forgets that this movie is about her and her self-growth and its even better portrayed by an outstanding performance by Hailee Steinfeld. Paired with well-written characters like Erwin and Mr. Bruner portrayed incredibly well by Hayden Szeto and Woody Harrelson respectively, they both add so much to leading Nadine to finding herself and sometimes, also emphasizing that sometimes a little bad in life actually brings out a newfound positivity and enlightenment. 

Afterall, isn’t that what coming-of-age films are all about? For fans of teen coming-of-age films, this one is highly recommended.

Elwood’s Pick – Art School Confidential (2006)

art school confidential 1.jpg

Based on the four page comic by Ghost World creator Daniel Clowes it’s almost fitting that the film is directed by Terry Zwigoff as in many ways it feels like a spiritual sequel to his adaptation of the aforementioned Ghost World as the film follows art student Jerome (Max Minghella) who hopes to realise his dreams of being a famous artist by enrolling at Strathmore College only find the art world politics run a lot deeper than actual talent. 

While the film might lack the a pair of leads as engaging as Enid and Rebecca in Ghost World as here Zwigoff chooses to paint with a larger canvas of eccentric and colourful characters such as Jerome’s foul mouthed filmmaker roommate Vince (Ethan Suplee) or his unlikely mentor and drunk Jimmy (Jim Broadbent) who might hide a much darker secret behind his art. 

While the film might not have been warmly received on it’s release with Zwigoff stating that

[Art School Confidential] was really negatively received both at the box office and critically. Everybody hated that film. I didn’t think it was so bad. At least compared to all that other shit out there, anyway. It was certainly just as good as any film in the marketplace. And I’m not saying it’s a great film. I’m just saying it’s better than most of the dreck.

However while the critics might not have got the film on it’s release its one worth discovering especially for fans of Ghost World as it maintains the feel of the world if not perhaps the snark.


So you’ve seen our picks for this week’s double feature but what are your movie watching plans this weekend?

Let us know in the comments section below.

Friday Film Club: The Willoughbys (2020) & Hustlers (2019)

Hi folks and welcome to the The Friday Film Club where both we will be highlighting a film which we feel is worth checking out. At the same time we would love to hear your own selections whether you’re choosing to just name them in the comments section or join us in arguing the case for your film on your blog, let us know and we will share it below.

Kim’s Pick – The Willoughbys (2020)

the willoughbys 1
Based on the book with the same name by Lois Lowry, The Willoughbys tells the story of the Willoughby kids of the current generation who have since gone astray from the previous generations as their parents have too much love for each other to have any left for their four kids. Neglected since birth, the eldest son Tim looks up to the ancestors hung all over the wall and dreams about continuing The Willoughby’s name while taking care of his younger siblings: her sister Jane who has a love for singing but is constantly silenced by their parents and his youngest, twin brothers who are both creepy and inventive and both named Barnaby. They hatch a plan to get rid of their parents by sending them onto a dangerous vacation around the world. Much to their surprise, their parents hire a nanny to take care of them. Believing that the nanny is aligned with their parents, Tim ends up reporting her to Orphan Services which turns out to be much more sinister than he imagines and leads to some bad consequences.

The Willoughbys is a colorful and quirky little tale. Narrated by a stray cat throughout the entire film voiced by Ricky Gervais, it has a lot of great humor and dialogue that connects each of the situations together. Its a tale about family and with it, there are a lot of fun moments when the kids venture off on their own and packed with a lot of naivety as they experience the world for the first time and meet some fun characters, especially Commander Melanoff, something of a Willy Wonka sort of character voiced by Terry Crews. With the Nanny voiced by the comedic and underrated Maya Rudolph and Jane voiced suitably by Alessia Cara and the parents voiced by Martin Short and Jane Krakowski, there’s a lot of great voice talent here that contributes a lot to the enjoyment of the film.  As much as it has some touching and heartwarming elements, the story is mostly a fun and comedic little animated film. It has a lot of references to other stories and movies and its all integrated really well thanks to a clever script.

The Willoughbys is a straight forward sort of animated film. Its well-executed and the script is adapted and written well. It has a lot of clever moments. The voice acting is enthusiastic and fun. The most eye-catching moment is the character designs and the color choices throughout that really give the whole film a fun experience overall. Who doesn’t like to have a little fun and have some laughs, right?

Elwood’s Pick – Hustlers (2019)

hustlers

Another movie based off a magazine article (see also Pain and Gain / The Bling Ring) this black comedy crime drama based on the article “The Hustlers at Scores” about a crew of former strippers who drugged their clients while cleaning out their bank accounts under the guise of it all being one wild night out. 

Here continuing her transition from sitcom star to movie starlet Constance Wu here sporting a serious fringe plays stripper Destiny who having transferred from Las Vegas to New York with the allure of the big bucks only to find herself quickly out of her element. However taken under the wing of the fellow stripper Ramona (Jennifer Lopez) the pair are soon cleaning up with the wall street brokers who come to the club. However with the financial crisis of 2007 a new hustle is required.

Smoothly transitioning from the stripper fantasy the film was sold as to a true crime thriller with a dash of dark humour to flavour the film is thankfully a lot deeper than you would expect as we are taken from the girls making a killing as they work their charms to “Run out the clock, not the cock” with Ramona leading the charge as her exquisitely choreographed performance causes the punters to shower her with cash, while a surprise cameo by Usher playing himself marks the end of the golden era as the bubble finally bursts. It’s here that the new hustle instigated by Ramona doping guys drinks with Ketamine and MDMA while her friends clean out their bank accounts becomes the focus for the film and more importantly how long they can keep it running before they get caught.

Both Lopez and Wu make for engaging leads especially as their performance play well off each other with Destiny being taught the tricks of the pole making for strangely engrossing viewing without pushing the obvious titillation compared to their male counterparts in Magic Mike. Director Lorene Scafaria though is not out to judge the profession or those who choose it but instead focusing on the sisterhood between the girls even as the cracks in their plan start leading to their inevitable downfall it’s an engaging ride throughout. 


So you’ve seen our picks for this week’s double feature but what are your movie watching plans this weekend?

Let us know in the comments section below.

Friday Film Club: The Swan Princess (1994) & Uncut Gems (2019)

Hi folks and welcome to the The Friday Film Club where both myself and Kim will be highlighting a film which we feel is worth checking out. At the same time we would love to hear your own selections whether you’re choosing to just name them in the comments section or join us in arguing the case for your film on your blog, let us know and we will share it below.

Kim’s Pick – Swan Princess (1994)

Swan Princess

Based on the ballet Swan Lake, Swan Princess is a 1994 animated musical film which tells the story of Princess Odette who is kidnapped and falls under the curse of a sorcerer Rothbart who wishes to take over her father’s kingdom through marriage. This curse makes her turn into a swan by day and only can turn back into human when she is on the lake and the moonlight touches her. While others have started to stop looking for her, her childhood friend and now prince that she likes hasn’t given up and continues to try to seek out clues. At the same time, Odette makes acquaintance with a turtle called Speed, a frog who believes that he is a prince called Jean-Bob and an Irish puffin called Lieutenant Puffin who wants to help her escape and break the curse by reuniting with Derek. 

Much like many 1990’s animated film, The Swan Princess is something of a fairy tale story. It has a lot of fantasy, comedy, musical elements that center around a love story. While Derek and Odette start off as a set-up pairing by their parents when they are young who are attracted to each other, Odette is a a princess that has a little personality and certain of what she is looking for. Even in the face of her demise, she still tries her best with the help of her hilarious companions that also break the expectations, to escape her situation. While the story itself might seem fairly formulaic, the characters itself are very charming and its a lot of fun to watch with some nice songs to pair.

Its voice actors are not all very known with possibly the most popular being John Cleese doing the voice of JeanBob. The shining elements of the film does go to these three companions who bring a lot of fun comedy as they all bring a lot of quirks especially seeing a turtle called Speed who actually is a fast swimmer, and a puffin who is a little silly despite thinking he is a lieutenant and then JeanBob who thinks he is some French prince and wants to win a kiss from Odette to lift his own curse, playing with a very familiar tale of its own. These three, especially in the escape scene against two hungry alligators, win the scene through it all.

Despite its disappointing box office for its theatrical release due to its release alongside Disney’s much more popular, The Lion King, it did find its audience for its home release. Call it a cult classic or whatnot, but overall, The Swan Princess may not be the most polished movie and did come out under the radar and the love story itself is fairly predictable however, it also is one that is suitable for kids especially as it has some good humor, gives out a good message of courage and has a villain that actually isn’t too scary but actually fairly silly as well. At the end of the day, The Swan Princess does come together pretty well.

Elwood’s Pick – Uncut Gems (2019)

Uncut Gems

While at the most recent Oscars there was certainly a lot of discussion regarding what many felt was the snubbing of Greta Gerwig for a Best Director nomination. At the same time there could be equally as much frustration being felt that Adam Sandler hadn’t been recognized for this film which see him breaking away from his usual diversive comedies for his first serious role since 2002’s Punch Drunk Love.

Here Sandler plays the high end jewelry store owner Howard Ratner who operates his store in New York’s Diamond District dealing with celebrity clients while at the time fueling a gambling habit was his lives his life constantly avoiding his creditors while banking everything on a series of ever more high risk bets as he pursues that one big pay day. However when he acquires a rare black opal he soon finds himself in an ever escalating situation that even a hustler like him won’t be able to walk away from.

Directed by Josh and Benny Safdie whose previous film Good Time proved to be their breakout hit which enabled them to not only secure funding for this film but also caught the attention of Sandler who they had in mind while writing the film. Opening with a Fight Club-esque journey through the compounds of the opal which will soon cause Howard so many of his problems before the journey blends into a colonoscopy which is how we are introduced to Howard though whether the footage is of Sandler’s colon we cannot confirm.One we can confirm though and that Howard is kind of a scumbag. 

While the Safdie’s might prefer to view him as more a lovable rouge, Howard is a difficult character to follow especially with his high risk and self-centred worldview and yet much like Harvey Keitel in Bad Lieutenant we still for some reason want to see him succeed but not before the brothers have put us through the kind of grimy ringer that’s usually reserved for Abel Ferrara’s films who it would seem is certainly amongst their influences when it comes to crafting this world were nobody is exactly a shining example of humanity while the dialogue is thrown at the audience with little space to breathe and punctuated with enough f**ks and c**ksuckers to cement its place as the 3rd most profanity heavy film ever. 

An engaging if grimy experience while it might not have left me rushing out to see the rest of the Safdie’s filmography and certainly I did get the same Oscar vibes as some people did it’s at least great to see Sandler trying something other than another throwaway comedy plus who doesn’t want to see a blinged out Ferbie?

So you’ve seen our picks for this week’s double feature but what are your movie watching plans this weekend?

Let us know in the comments section below.

Friday Film Club: Talk Radio (1988) & All’s Well End’s Well (1992)

Hi folks and welcome to the The Friday Film Club where both myself and Kim will be highlighting a film which we feel is worth checking out. At the same time we would love to hear your own selections whether your choosing to just name them in the comments section or join us in arguing the case for your film on your blog, let us know and we will share it below.

Elwood’s Pick – Talk Radio (1988)

talk radio 1988

One of the more overlooked films on Oliver Stone’s filmography which is all the more surprising when you consider that Stone is one of the few directors with seemingly the freedom to do what he wants as we see here as he adapts Eric Bogosians play, bringing Bogosian on to not only to work on the screenplay but also reprise his role as Barry Champlain a talk radio host with a talent for pressing the buttons of his listeners with his show really tapping into the darker side of humanity as he is forced to field calls from neo-nazi’s and junkies through the downright freaky.

Each of these calls Barry usually spends more time antagonising the callers than actually helping them. As the film goes on the calls only get darker while Barry’s life off air continues to grow increasingly complex which Stone perfectly captures Barry slowly losing control and learning what happens when you stare into the void.

Not an easy film to watch especially as the calls get darker and the more he loses control but it’s an outstanding performance from Bogosian while also featuring human Chameleon John C. McGinley. Bogosian being the master of the monologue is perfectly suited to the material loosely based on the shooting of real life shock jock Alan Berg and here he commands the screen with Stone always keeping him in tight close up so there is no escaping the power of his delivery, while you like the staff around him can only look on as the film heads to it’s shocking conclusion. 

Kim’s Pick – All’s Well Ends Well (1992)

all's well ends well 1

Packaged as a Chinese New Year movie, a subgenre of Hong Kong movies that embody a comedy with a happy ending, All’s Well Ends Well is one that is very similar to stories like Love Actually but in this case, sharing the story of three brothers and their misadventures in their romantic lives which finds a happy ending in comedic ways. All’s Well Ends Well started off in 1992 with this debut film with a phenomenal cast including Stephen Chow, Maggie Cheung, Leslie Cheung, Raymond Wong, Sandra Ng and Teresa Mo, all exceptional comedic actors and actresses. Chinese New Year films have their spot and its no surprise that All’s Well Ends Well kicks off this as it leads onto seven “sequels” with the same concept and different characters and stories up to the latest 2020 installment that was released on Chinese New Year 2020 (January 25th).

All’s Well Ends Well is a fun little cult classic. As mentioned before its about a family and especially the three sons. The oldest is Moon (Raymond Wong) who is about to celebrate his 7th wedding anniversary but we soon finds out is not happy with his wife (Sandra Ng) who isn’t beautiful to him anymore despite her devotion to maintaining the family and decides to have a mistress. The second son is So (Leslie Cheung) who is a bit more feminine and artistic and a floral arranger that lectures at an art school and has a opposites attract moment with their second cousin, a tomboy personality Mo-Seung (Teresa Mo) and some craziness ensues between the two. The youngest is Foon (Stephen Chow), a local DJ who is a womanizer and ends up being attracted to a Hollywood movie lover Holli-yuk (Maggie Cheung) who ends up having some fun re-enactments of scenes to get her appreciation. The three stories are all comedic in their own style and slapstick comedy fashion.

All’s Well Ends Well is the first of this series and definitely one of the strongest one. It has a lot to thank for its great cast that manage to deliver the comedy on point and landing all the jokes. There’s some absolutely absurd moments but its all acceptable in the ‘mo lei tau’ comedy style that Stephen Chow made famous. Chinese New Year just passed us by last week and it feels right to at least give a nod to what started a series with the newest release and looking back to an era of Hong Kong comedy that probably not a lot of people have seen. While this type of comedy has a lot of absurdity and plays a lot of puns, the endless Hollywood movie references from Ghost to Terminator all make for some fun relatable moments.

Its one to definitely check out to get a good laugh and a nice one to watch some powerhouse actors of the 90s in their heyday giving some great moments and reminding us that: Leslie Cheung is someone that I don’t pay tribute enough to his movies; Maggie Cheung is a great comedic star before she made her change to deeper dramatic roles; Stephen Chow is a true comedian that delivers great slapstick humor; and of course, everyone needs a good laugh and some positive vibes in films

So you’ve seen our picks for this week’s double feature but what are your movie watching plans this weekend?

Let us know in the comments section below.

Friday Film Club: Death Proof (2007) & A Smile Is Very Alluring (2016)

Hi folks and welcome to the The Friday Film Club where both myself and Kim will be highlighting a film which we feel is worth checking out. At the same time we would love to hear your own selections whether your choosing to just name them in the comments section or join us in arguing the case for your film on your blog, let us know and we will share it below.

Kim’s Pick –  One Smile is Very Alluring (2016)

One Smile is Very Alluring, also called Love O2O is a movie based on a novel by Chinese author Gu Man. An interesting element is that it was also made into a TV series in the same year. While its easy to do a comparison of the two with both of them having their own positives, the movie version was released first and because of its confined length, is packaged with more focus on the romance side rather than the inspirational youth entrepreneur sort of story. At the same time, what stands out for One Smile is Very Alluring is that its romance is focused on a more positive type of relationship rather than more typical Chinese romantic dramas that tend to be all about bringing in emotional breakups and cry fests. 

One Smile Is Very Alluring tells the story of a random meeting between two people. The first is Xiao Nai (Boran Jing), the popular boy in school who doesn’t really care for anyone else but his own circle of friends but as both good grades and handsome looks, making him the crush of all the girls in the university. The second is the department belle, Wei Wei (Angelababy) who has a lot of book smarts but also is the top female online game player on the same server as Xiao Nai. Xiao Nai’s love at first sight moment was not Wei Wei’s beauty or her smarts but from his meeting her randomly as he saw her join into the online game battle and the dexterity of her motions and controls. He approaches her in the game, also being the top player on the server and start their relationship there. The conflicts that occur throughout their cute beginning involves a lot of the outside elements involving online bullying as well as rumors and career issues. 

There’s no doubt that the story itself is slightly generic but it’s also because it breaks away from the typical sad drama element and keeps things fairly positive that makes this movie very feel-good. At the same time, it has some strong cast behind it, especially since it marks the beginning for a few actors and actresses that have now gotten some fame in Chinese dramas other than its two main leads. Boran Jing has been in the business with a lot of his work mostly involved in movies, like The Bullet Vanishes. Opposite him is Angelababy who has been in some Hollywood films like Independence Day: Resurgence and Hitman: Agent 47 and really delivers on the role of Wei Wei being both smart, beauty and the online gaming elements. The setting is both in reality and in the gaming world with a lot of other gaming references as well. Sure, it has some generic flaws but its a rarely seen positive romance with a decent amount of chemistry between the two that its worth a visit, especially a nice starting point to get into this story before deciding to check out the TV series, which fleshes out the story more. 

You can check out Kim’s TV binge of Love O2O as a companion piece to the movie HERE.

Elwood’s Pick – Death Proof (2007)

With Tarantino currently courting as much praise as he is controversy for his latest film Once Upon A Time In Hollywood this time surprisingly not for the violence nor controversial language but rather from Bruce Lee’s daughter Shannon taking offence of how her father is potrayed in the film especially when he loses a fight to Brad Pitt’s ageing stuntman in a scene designed to show the battle between new and old Hollywood. Of course it should be noted how little qualms she has about selling out her father’s legacy and likeness to sell everything from booze to cleaning products.

Still considering how Tarantino is hardly a director to be rushed and who also currently plans to retire with his next film which will only be his 10th but as is always the case when he does finally release a new film we look at his back catalogue which this time has seen Jackie Brown receiving a renewed interest and appreciation like Halloween 3: Season of the Witch both films initially being relegated to the bottom of the pile only to raised to the upper ranks upon fresh viewing but for myself the title most worth revisiting would always be this film.

Suffering a problematic release as it was torn away from its original double feature presentation Grindhouse after the Weinstein’s got cold feet and distributed both Death Proof and Planet Terror as solo films much to the dismay of us folks in the UK who were left feeling kinda cheated only years later finally getting a blu-ray release of the double feature experience. Still now the dust has settled on that whole fiasco Death Proof can finally be appreciated for the unique charms as Tarantino gives us a slasher movie with a twist with the psychotic former Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) using his custom stunt car to orchestrate vehicular carnage on his victims.

Initially introducing Radio DJ Jungle Julia (Sydney Tamiia Poitier) and her pals as they make a stop off at a bar on their way to the Lakehouse only to soon fall foul of Stuntman Mike and pulls a real surprise in how Tarantino essentially introduces and kills his group of girls so that he can introduce a second group featuring Stunt woman Zoe Ball playing herself along with a group of fictional friends with plans to go for a test drive a replica of the Vanishing Point car (a white 1970 Dodge Challenger) only for them also to catch the attention of Stuntman Mike who is once again on the prowl.

Much like Kill Bill Vol. 1 here we have a movie were Tarantino is setting out to just have fun than create the kind of deep world building that we get in the likes of Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, instead he is creating the kind of movie that the characters in those films might go and see. At the same time he approached the film with the aim of create his own car chase movie worthy of holding its own alongside the movies he clearly holds so dear like the aforementioned Vanishing Point as well the likes of Dirty Mary Crazy Larry and White Line Fever which are unsurprised paid homage to.

As such like Mad Max: Fury Road the film is essentially an excuse to film an extensive and not to mention totally kick ass car chase movie, which takes full advantage of Zoe Bell’s Stuntwoman background by having her riding the bonnet of the car for the first half of the chase like a human hood ornament in a possible nod to Fair Game (1985)

Were the film really falls apart is when Tarantino attempts to include characters outside of the main girl groups whose banter is fun and almost a return to the quotable patter which made his early films so memorable, while Eli Roth’s inclusion like all his attempts at acting makes you wonder why he was included. Equally on fantastic form though is Kurt Russell despite not initially being on his shortlist having rumoured to have gotten the role when Mickey Rourke dropped out. Despite this Russell owns the role with a performance which as eccentric as it is high energy as he clearly is getting a thrill out of the girls not being the easy kill he was expecting as the two cars tear up the asphalt.

Sure it might not be his strongest film but for pure popcorn thrills and excitement it’s well worth giving it another look either as part of Grindhouse or in it’s extended standalone form.

So you’ve seen our picks for this week’s double feature but what are your movie watching plans this weekend?

Let us know in the comments section below.

Round Up

Quentin Tarantino’s Feature Presentation – A three part mini-series in which Tarantino sits down with film critic Amy Nicholson to discuss five films which impacted him from a diverse selection which includes Point Blank, Valley Girl and Boogie Nights

Zobo With A Shotgun Podcast – Zoe continues her history of extreme cinema with a look at the cinema of 1984 – 1989. Continuing her world domination you can also check out her new webshow The Unrated Cut as along with her co-host Chris Nials they discuss thier favourite extreme horror cinema.

Visitations – Elijah Wood and Daniel Noah of indie production company SpectreVision visit the homes and workshops of some of their favorite creators in the genre community and beyond, including Taika Waititi, Ana Lily Amirpour John Landis and Dan Harman

 

The Devil’s Backbone (2001) – Kim’s Take

Check out our podcast review HERE.

The Devil’s Backbone (2001)

devil's backbone

Director: Guillermo Del Toro
Cast: Marisa Paredes, Eduardo Noriega, Federico Luppi, Fernando Tielve, Inigo Garces, Irene Visedo, Junio Valverde

After Carlos – a 12-year-old whose father has died in the Spanish Civil War – arrives at an ominous boys’ orphanage, he discovers the school is haunted and has many dark secrets that he must uncover. – IMDB

Guillermo Del Toro returns to Spanish films as he creates this horror drama that takes a twist on the traditional ghost story. The Devil’s Backbone has always been regarded as a strong film in the Del Toro filmography and its one that brings around a lot of originality while still having the factors of multiple parallel plot points and character relationships as a result, creating depth in its myriad of characters.

The Devil’s Backbone is a fantastic film. The main reasoning behind it being that despite its slower pacing, this film finds it footing of the multi-genre approach and the rare gem that creates a horror with both depth and properly executed twists and build-up. He starts the film as a ghost story, introducing us to a ghost boy Santi haunting the orphanage as well as the bullying theme which brings together the boys and their respective troubles that eventually bring them together by the end. At the same time, its makes us question the unresolved issue that keeps Santi there. The orphanage itself and the general setting is not only plagued with impending political issues as well as an unexploded bomb in the grounds that has its own set of questions and assumptions from the characters.

What deserves real mention here are the core characters other than Carlos but the adult characters who each have their own imperfections, be it the headmistress with her artificial leg who finds emotional companionship in his friend, Dr. Casares, played by Federico Luppi while also enjoying the physical desire she gets from a twisted young character, Jacinto (Eduardo Noriega) who has ulterior motives. While the characters weaker in nature like Dr. Casares and Jacinto’s fiancee, Conchita, played by Irene Visedo, end up finding a strength when things take a turn for the worst in the final act. At the same time, the human villain here, Jacinto which Eduardo Noriego does a great job at interpreting because the character is also written with so much depth, with proper motives and twisted psychological and never admitting defeat sort of deal, making him a character with no limits to when he stops and that makes him even harder to forgive.

Del Toro creates misdirection in one way and also boasts his ability to create human monsters rather than the typical route of making the paranormal spirits the big evil. With that said, the horror drama here leans more towards the drama aspects than the horror. It isn’t to say that when the horror moments happen that it doesn’t deliver some chilling goosebumps moments with its sound design and atmosphere.

Have you seen The Devil’s Backbone?
Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Mimic (1997) – Kim’s Take

Mimic (1997)

mimic

Director: Guillermo del Toro

Cast: Mira Sorvino, Jeremy Northam, Alexander Goodwin, Giancarlo Giannini, Charles S. Dutton, Josh Brolin

Three years ago, entomologist Dr. Susan Tyler genetically created an insect to kill cockroaches carrying a virulent disease. Now, the insects are out to destroy their only predator, mankind. – IMDB

Guillermo Del Toro’s second film takes him to Hollywood. Of course, creature features and sci-fi insects and such takes on a new twist with Mimic. There are some familiar elements here and even some scenes that gives nods to other movies, most prominently one scene that reminds me heavily of Alien. Mimic is quite as slow-burn as its predecessor and while there is some unnecessary plotlines, Del Toro still deals with various groups of characters and their stories and eventually these stories lead them to cross paths. There are still a good level of fantasy sci-fi here with its material while also giving it a “playing God” element and ethics of which side of the moral spectrum these characters take in the scope of their situations dealing with the aftermath and what has been created out of a desperate situation.

Leading the cast here is Mira Sorvino who plays a scientist, Susan Tyler and the one who experimented on the insects to create a cure for a spreading epidemic a few years ago which has now come back to haunt her. We see a bit of her back story with her husband, Peter (Jeremy Northam) who are struggling to get pregnant. At the same time, their investigation into the odd happenings via the subway and that ends up splitting up with Peter who goes with his friend (portrayed by a young Josh Brolin) and the subway guard, Leonard (Charles S. Dutton) to go underground while Susan with her assistant goes to check some scientific discoveries where we get a cameo from a young Norman Reedus. We also see a subway shoe-shining father, Manny (Giancarlo Giannini) and his son Chuy’s (Alexander Goodwin) relationship who has a knack of differentiating types of shoes from the sound it makes while being the first to catch onto the weird “shoes” that he can’t figure out and gets fascinated with.

In terms of the scope of the film, it definitely has more tangents because of the different characters and yet while the characters here might not have quite the depth and suspense of Del Toro’s debut Cronos, these characters each have their part in this story and some development as relationships and friendships and camaraderie forms over these trials and tribulations. While the personal issues of Susan and Peter seem disposable and unnecessary, the story does takes on a fantastic pacing when discovering the truth behind these incidents until the final hurrah of events which builds up in tension.  With that said, the film does also have some disjointed moments before these characters all end up intertwined. The character that is the most dynamic would have to be Leonard, the subway guard played by Charles S. Dutton who is something of a comic relief in the tense moments but also carries some depth. That is the joy of Del Toro’s work all the time as he managed to bring atmosphere and character development to his stories. Although Mimic is adapted from a short story by Donald A. Wollheim (which I’ve never read before), Del Toro takes on a co-screen story and screenplay collaboration with Matthew Robbins.

Insects, child endangerment, multiple plot points that intertwine, fantastical creatures and a question about moral and ethics are all things that we see Del Toro dive into with the future movies he directs and somehow in Mimic we can see the a faint starting point as to where it all begins. Mimic is a really good film and probably one that is more underrated in his filmography.

Check out our podcast review HERE.