Category Archives: Reviews

Friday Film Club – Antisocial + Perfect Blue

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Hi folks and welcome to another edition of 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 – Antisocial (2013)

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Canadian film company Black Fawn Films is known for its filmography of independent horror films. With a good number of films under their belt, there is no doubt that the team themselves have a great love for horror and in their films, a lot of homage is given to the various subgenres of horror. However, what gives them a unique twist is not only their vision of creating something new of their own while also mixing it up in terms of various subgenres together. While some viewers might view this as “been there done that” and feeling very familiar with its content, especially with the film today, it’s still has some refreshing elements especially paired up how the films are usually executed.

Antisocial is a 2013 horror film set during New Year’s Eve focused on a house with five university students partying it up when an epidemic spreads throughout the world. As they barricade themselves in the house, they also start rummaging around the Internet to find out the cause of the epidemic. Slowly, they each become both scared and filled with paranoia. Taking a bit of the digital world epidemic like Pulse and blending it into a science fiction-esque story and then adding in some zombie elements here, this film is a nicely-paced movie. Its mystery of the epidemic unravels itself. At the same time, while the 5 characters here might not be fully investigated, making them slightly more shallow, the film never forgets its focus is not on all the character drama but rather on the urgent situation at hand. There are some truly tense moments and they do ramp up to a memorable climax. Antisocial is not perfect but its straight forward and not always predictable.

It’s a revisit on our part that has held up a lot of its initial appeal. And if this film is your cup of tea, Antisocial 2 did also happen. While its pacing is different from the first one, its story is set some time after Antisocial ends.

Elwood’s Pick – Perfect Blue (1997)

MoxieStaffPicksPerfectBlueSatoshi Kon’s directorial debut is Hitchcock-esq thriller following Mima , a member of a J-pop group “CHAM!” decides to pursue a career as an actress, displeasing her fans especially her stalker Me-Mania (Okura). Now finding herself the target of threatening fax’s and mail bombs, things only get stranger when she discovers a website call “Mima’s Room” documenting her life if she was still with the band, as Mima finds her world being turned upside down as she is pushed to the brink of her own sanity.

A griping film throughout, the film though is a lot deeper than your usual psychological thriller, as while most thrillers would be content to just play off the mystery of “Mima’s Room”, here Kon’s focus on the changing personality from Virginal pop idol to driven actress willing to do more and more to ensure that she makes it as an actress, even if it means shattering the image her fans about her as she inturn starts to slowly reveal her much darker side.

 

At the same time Kon shows equal attention to the supporting characters who all provide their own piece of the puzzle, from Mima’s office Manger Tadokoro (Tsuji) who pushes Mima into increasingly risque situations which he convinces is for the good of her career regardless of the pressure it puts on her already fragile psyche through to the obsessed  and grotesque stalker Me-Mania who plasters his walls with images of Mima’s pop idol form which in one memorable scene even speak to him. Kon though is equally mindful of the smaller details which often prove as a result to be just as memorable, such as an actor involved in filming the rape scene apologising to Mima during a break between takes.

The animation is crisp and clean throughout, with Kon choosing to avoid the more traditional large eyed anime style, instead for a more realistic style as seen with the wide range of character designs and while it might not have the wow factor that many have come to expect thanks to the releases of Studio Ghibli this is still visually a nice anime to look at, with the movement of the characters being especially spot on as especially highlighted during the ice pick murder sequence involving a length chase around the victims apartment.

A benchmark in Japanese animation aswell as also providing the inspiration for Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan, as it’s slowly earned the same recognition as the likes of the legendry Akira or Ghost In The Shell.

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.

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Friday Film Club – Balto + Kitten With A Whip

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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 – Balto (1995)

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Loosely based on the true story of a dog of the same name who helped save children in Alaska, Balto has some live action scenes in Central Park of an elderly woman recounting his story and what makes Balto a hero. Most of the movie aside from the beginning and ending is animated filled with not only a group of sled dogs in Alaska but also with a Russian goose called Boris and polar bear brothers Muk and Luk who are terrified of water and of course, Balto who is an outcast and expected to be dangerous because he is half Husky and half wolf. An unexpected grouping but an effectively funny one that gives it the cute and fun adventure with a bit of drama.

Balto is a family adventure animated film. At the same time, it has those added elements of romance between Balto and Jenna where Jenna’s affection is trying to be won over by the top dog called Steele who doesn’t want to admit defeat when he fails at bringing home the medicine to save the children in Nome during the storm. It is a story of triumph, danger, friendship and romance. At the same time, Balto is a character that has to learn to embrace his own differences and use those differences as what helps him to succeed in this journey. Its an inspiring little animated film.

Voiced by some great talent like Kevin Bacon as Balto, Bridget Fonda as Jenna, Bob Hoskins as Steele and Jim Cummings as both Muk and Luk, there’s a lot to love about this film as they bring on some great fun times and totally one that didn’t get its recognition as its release collided with the much more successful Toy Story but that doesn’t stop the greatness that this animated film deserves.

Elwood’s Pick – Kitten With A Whip (1964)

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Despite the S&M title this home invasion thriller is alot less sleazy than the title would have you believe as Ann-Margaret in an attempt to rebrand herself as a serious actor stars as the young runaway Jody who breaks into the house of upcoming politician David (John Forsythe) while his wife is out of town. Initially he attempts to help the young girl as he buys her new clothes and puts her on the bus with money to help her out. Unfortunately for David she just turns up at his house again not only refusing to leave but also bringing with her a group of beatniks who only further throw David’s life into chaos.

For fans of MST3K this might already be a familiar title seeing how it received their peanut gallery treatment but enjoyed in its original form this is actually a pretty effective thriller especially during its first half with David trying to be the good person while Jody soon is revealed to be hiding more than her share of dark secrets and soon is threatening to damage David’s political aspirations by twisting the reality of their situation.

While the first half of the film is fantastic thanks to the strong chemistry between the two leads which is a little lost once Jody’s friends turn up including amatuer philosepher Ron (Peter Brown) and quick to anger Grant (Richard Anderson) and turn the situation from mind games to more physical threats all while you wonder if Beatniks are worse than Hippies as certainly Ron and his musing certainly make you wonder who buys into this tosh. Thankfully you the unclear allegiance of Jody keeps things interesting as your never sure if she trying to help David or if it’s another of her mind games. When we get to the finale the film also randomly shifts location to Tijuana in search of a shady doctor though it really seems to be just an excuse to work in some light titillation via a burlesque club which has nothing to do with the plot as we build to a climactic car chase.

Despite being MST3K fodder this is still a fun throw away watch with some fun twists even if it loses its way in the second half it’s brisk runtime and tight pacing means that it doesn’t outstay it’s welcome.

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 – Tigers Are Not Afraid + The Descent: Part 2

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Hi folks and welcome to the The Friday Film Club where each week Kim and myself 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 – Tigers Are Not Afraid (2017)

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Finally getting a theatrical release on the big screen after two years going through film festivals and earning praise from both Guillermo del Toro and Stephen King, Tigers Are Not Afraid is a Mexican fairytale, most often compared to Pan’s Labyrinth with similar tones set in an upsetting reality of the drug wars in Mexico with five orphaned children grouped together to find hope in its dark fairytale of being granted three wishes except all wishes come with its own set of consequences.

Tigers Are Not Afraid pulls together five orphaned children. As we see the main girl Estrella who comes home from school to find her mother is missing, she escapes to the street to eventually find El Shine, a young boy also surviving on the streets with a few other little boys and joins up with them. Hiding on rooftops and alleyways, they strive to survive day by day until one day Shine steals a cell phone belonging to a member of the drug cartel and discovers its contents. As the thug chases after them, the mystery of what is on the cell phone and  desperate situations making Estrella consider using her wishes despite the outcome of the first one. For their survival, this group of kids have to make tough decisions to stay alive.

Issa Lopez, as both director and screenwriter, shows off both great command behind the camera as well her sharp storytelling skills as she tells this dark fairytale. Choosing children with zero acting experience prior to this film and shooting this film in chronological order without showing them the script to capture their genuine reactions, also gives it an edge as the children all capture both their naivety as children but also what the dangerous reality has caused some of them to grow up quickly. Leading the group is El Shine played by Juan Ramon Lopez and Estrella played by Paola Lara who deserve a lot of credit for their heavier roles. With urban legends of hand-drawn tigers running around the scene and being given three wishes, tigers has their own symbol here and meshes into a beautifully touch but tough to watch story of children caught in the drug wars and fairytales that both give them hope but have some costly consequences.

If you didn’t catch this film during its festival circuits, it is definitely worth it to check it out at theatres or at least keep it on your radar.

Elwood’s Pick – The Descent: Part 2

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The Descent was never a film I particularly warmed to despite many critics rushing to herald Neil Marshall as an exciting new voice in horror, even though the original film was much more effective when it was following it’s all female group of cavers trying to find a way out the cave system than when the horror elements kicked in with the whole experience feeling like a poor rehash of the superior What Waits Below. However when it comes to the sequel directed by editor Jon Harris for what is still his sole directing credit here we have a sequel which surpasses the original.

Set two days after the events of the first film with Sarah (Shauna Macdonald) left traumatised and with no memories of what happened. Now recruited by the local shrieff Vaines (Gavan O’Herlihy) to lead a rescue team back into the cave to find the missing members of her group only to soon find themselves being hunted by the Crawlers whose lair they must once more enter.

Wisely ramping up the action than trying to replicate the first film, this in turn makes for a much more fun ride as the group soon find themselves split up after their first encounter with the crawlers and faced with a battle back to the service with caving equipment once more getting put to some very creative uses thanks to the gore quota being ramped up which in turn lends itself to some memorable moments throughout.

Increasing the cave sets from 18 to 30 means we get to explore the world of the Crawlers a lot more in this film, with Harris giving us subtle clues of how their subterranean society works including were they choose to go to the bathroom as Sarah and Deputy Sheriff Elen (Krysten Cummings) get to unfortunately discover for themselves. Much like the first film these sets look fantastic and hard to distinguish from an actual cave system meaning that the feeling of claustrophobia that the first film really nailed.

If like myself you skipped out on this sequel after the first film, this is a film well worth giving a watch, even if you never saw the original as the plot is easy to pick up especially when the film gives you all you need to know in the opening five minutes so why give yourself another reason to never go caving.

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

The Blade Licking Thieves #54 – The Guys revisit the anime adapation of the arcade classic Fatal Fury

The Asian Cinema Film Club #31 see’s Elwood and Stephen checking out Sammo Hung’s take on The Dirty Dozen while finding time to tap into his inner Rambo as he joins a host of Hong Kong legends as a group of convict soldiers are sent to Vietnam to destroy a secret Ammo dump.

The Feminine Critique – Emily and Christine check out Karyn Kusama’s 2018 crime thriller Destroyer aswell as social media slashers, the subgenre of ghostiness that began with Insidious, 2010’s infuriating Legion, and a glorious mid-dive into Jason Takes Manhattan and Jason Lives

If your yet to discover The Anime Nostalgia Podcast and are a fan of old school anime host provides a fantastic look back at some classic and forgotten anime titles, while even finding the time to solve the mystery of Miami Mike

Elwood recently got to guest on the Blueprint: Review Podcast along with Jason Soto (of the Maniac With a Machete podcast) to discuss the upcoming home releases aswell as reviews of The Incident and Enter the Anime.

If your yet to check out Kim’s debut on The Lambcast #491 make sure you do now as the roundtable discussion looks at Hobbs and Shaw

Lost In Translation – Elwood’s Take

After the success of The Virgin Suicides for her follow up Sofia Coppola drew inspiration from her father filming a real Suntory whiskeycommercial with Akira Kurosawa in the 1970’s as she crafts a tale which is not only a love letter to Tokyobut also one of two lost souls in a city were neither of them speak the language while generally confounded by the world around them leaving them to dwell on their own personal issues. Certainly it’s hardly the sort of film you would expect to turn into a huge hit for Coppola not only with critics but more surprisingly with the general movie going audiences who for some reason really warmed to the film.

Writing the film with Bill Murray in mind, Coppola was so set on him taking the role that she even considered scrapping the film if he turned it down. Murray however had replaced his talent agency with an automated voice mailbox with a number that he reportedly only gives out sparingly. However thanks to her friend and frequent Murray-collaborator Wes Anderson she managed to get the number and set about bombarding his mailbox with messages before he finally called her back to discuss the film. Even when he agreed to star in the film it was only a verbal confirmation and Anderson assuring her that he was a man of his word and would turn up which much to her relief when he landed in Tokyo the week before filming commenced.

Here Murray really gives a more is less performance and the kind which he’s seemingly been trying to recapture since and while it’s a departure from his usual comedic style marking arguably on his second dramatic performance but it’s one which really works here, especially when Coppola’s script allows for a large amount of improvisation especially during scenes such as the photoshoot which have a great flow to them. At the same time he carries with the character a real world weary sense to him as he takes this commercial perhaps seeing it as one of the few remaining opportunities to cash in on his rapidly fading star, if not aswell to escape his equally problematic home life as he deals with constant faxes from his wife about her decorating plans for his office, while she clearly has no grasp on how time zones work.

Seeing a “Young Lauren Bacall-type girl” in Scarlett Johansson here effortlessly makes her transition into an adult actor as she is approaching her own lost situation as the opposite end of the spectrum being newly graduated and now facing a loss of direction as her friends are grounded with kids, while her husband John (Ribishi) is so wrapped up in his work that he doesn’t really notice his wife’s needs, leaving her in the hotel room were she passes the time attempting to make the room more of a home, doing her make up and casual smoking. Of course this ethereal like presence that Charlotte has is really the sort of the character that Johansson really excels at playing.

While there are more than a few critics including Coppola herself who see this as a romantic movie the film never feels like that kind of film as here we are given a film which is as much of a travelogue with Sofia working in her favourite Tokyo locations as it is just a film about two strangers finding a surprising friendship out of a chance meeting. This in turn makes it far from the easiest film to sell people on as it’s a film essentially about two people having conversations and visiting interesting places and that’s about it. There are no dramatic plot lines, villainous characters or obstacles to over come apart from the ones which have seemingly caused them to find themselves in the rut they initially find themselves in.

Reuniting with Cinematographer Lance Accord who she worked with on her first short film Lick The Star and here really helps Coppola capture the magic and spirit of Tokyo as she showcases the blending of tradition with pop culture as the film takes in shrines and panoramic views from hotel rooms which are blended with the street level view as Bob and Charlotte visit hip night clubs and karaoke bars as it feels that Coppola is trying to work in as many elements of this city she love so much. The decision to shoot on film only adds to this experience despite her father pushing her to shoot digital believing it to be the future. Here by choosing to go against his advice the film really retains that surreal like quality and warmth that digital struggles to retain.

Even now this remains a fiercely original vision and unquestionably the film which marked her out as a director of note rather than just being the daughter of her famous father. Even now it’s a film which has really been replicated despite the efforts of the Mumblecore movement.

Friday Film Club: Anastasia + Frog Dreaming

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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 – Anastasia (1997)

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Most definitely a loose adaptation of the legend of Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia, Anastasia in this animated film takes a more light-hearted take on the story as it adds in fantastical elements to it like a soul-selling sorcerer and talking albino bat on the villain side of things while on the “good” side of the spectrum, because it is a bunch of con men to begin with, adds a little cute dog to the mix and an amnesiac girl to their journey. There’s a lot of comedic moments especially with the villain sidekick Bartok, voiced by Hank Azaria as well as cute elements as well as romance of course. Because..what’s a princess animated film (although non-Disney) without adding a suitor to the mix.

The animated film starts off with eighteen year old Anya (Meg Ryan) who, after an accident during the escape ten years ago, has amnesia and doesn’t remember anything from her youth and her whereabouts and after leaving the orphanage as decided to find her way to Paris except without an exit visa, she is advised to reach out to two con men, Dimitri (John Cusack) and Vladimir (Kelsey Grammar). Surprised by her resemblance to the real Anastasia, they take her to Paris in hopes of getting well-rewarded for returning her to the royal family now in refuge there. While being taught the answers to some of Anastasia due to Dimitri being a young servant when he was a child, he soon realizes that Anya’s memories are slowly coming back as she reunites with her family through the questioning.

Anastasia isn’t a history lesson to say the least. In fact, it’s more of a princess story mixed with humor and adventure. There’s a lot of beautiful romantic bits here between Anya and Dimitri. Anastasia is a beautiful character, whether as amnesiac Anya or the princess Anastasia and that has to do a lot with the beautiful job that Meg Ryan does voicing her. However, the voice cast here is pretty great with John Cusack and Kelsey Grammar mentioned above as well as Hank Azaria who captures Bartok with so many funny moments to make this a really entertaining time. At the same time, the fantastic Angela Lansbury voices Marie, who is Anastasia’s grandmother as well as Christopher Lloyd as the voice of Rasputin, the evil sorcerer whose initial plan ten years ago went array and now wants to make up for it.

Anastasia might be a 1997 animated film but the charm behind it is always there. Visually, the film still is amazing to watch. In terms of soundtrack, the music is beautiful as well as some wonderful songs like Once Upon a December being one of the favorites that captures the scene so well. It truly is a beautiful story fit for both adults and children.

Elwood’s Pick – Frog Dreaming (1985)

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If your a Ozploitation fan then Brian Trenchard Smith will already be a familiar name especially when his filmography made up a large part of Australia’s exploitation scene while also finding time to direct curious family friendly adventures like BMX Bandits which introduced the world to Nicole Kidman and this film which saw him casting Henry Thomas best known for playing Elliot in E.T The Extra Terrestrial who here plays Cody an American boy transplanted to Australia after his parents death to live with his guardian Gaza who essentially lets him run wild in the local community while working on his inventions which often demonstrate MacGyver levels of creativity . When Cody hears of a monster living in the local quary which the locals call “Donkegin” he sets out to discover the truth while recruiting his friend Wendy (Rachel Friend) and her sister to join him on this quest much to the dismay of their parents.

A fun adventure movie which like Stand By Me and The Goonies remembers the innocence and curiosity of youth, something which is often lacking from it’s current day counterparts as nowhere to be found are the smart mouthed kids outsmarting the dumb adults. Instead we get here are a group of kids trying to solve the kid of mystery wrapped up in urban legends that I know all too well from my own rural upbringing were my summers were spent much like Cody terrorising the surrounding countryside and the this simple charm which really makes the film such a fun film for a lazy sunday afternoon viewing.

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.

The Virgin Suicides – Elwood’s Take

The debut feature film from Sofia Coppola, it’s also one which came out of a series of events as after being given a copy of the book by Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore which she soon after set about adapting into a script despite not having the rights to the book which were owned by Muse Productions who had already commissioned a script from Nick Gomez. With the rights to the project lapsing amongst issues with Gomez’s script Coppola saw her opportunity to pitch her own script while the book would also make her realise her own desire to be a director knowing how the book should be filmed.

While I consider myself a fan of her films much like Darren Aronofsky’s Pi this is a film which I have always struggled to get into as it suffers the same issues as Jeffrey Eugenides’ source novel though when it comes to the film it’s hard to place were the issues with the film lye as for a debut Coppola shows a lot of confidence behind the camera crafting a distinctive visual style as she paints a picture of suburban tranquillity and white picket fences alongside the dark intentions harboured by the Lisbon girls which they hide under the veil of perfection and as the living fantasy for the boys they leave to try and piece together what ultimately lead to their demise.

Much like Stand By Me Coppola’s debut is a coming of age tale with a dark edge in particular the allure the girl world inhabited by the Lisbon girls a yearning shown through the audience and the boys glances into this world through window or telescopes and it’s a theme established early on when one of the boys is invited to dinner taking the opportunity to root through the girls bathroom with a fascination that makes even the most mundane of items like perfume bottles and sanitary towels seem like sacred and rare objects. While Coppola certainly might have a reoccurring theme of burgeoning femininity throughout her films but here she actually manages to capture the curiosity of adolescent boys about girls and the adult world.

Narrated by Giovanni Ribishi playing an unidentified grown up version of one of the boys it’s made clear from the start that this is a mystery which even as adults they are still trying to figure out why it happened forming a morbid link to their past which still binds them together even though they have gone off to live their own lives. Despite this there is still the hope that when you watch the film that you might discover that missing detail which clarifies the mystery. The use of the narrator equally helps to tie together the multiple memories of the girls allowing characters to slip in and out of the girls lives outside of the main group of boys.

Despite the small budget and being a first time director here Coppola really pulls together an impressive cast from tapping into her own contacts to bring aboard Kathleen Turner who she co-starred alongside in Peggy Sue Got Married while her father Francis passed the script to James Woods the pair providing a much underrated performance as the girls parents. Woods here giving a much more subdue performance than we have come to expect from him while much like Turner its a pitch perfect supporting role that really provides a backbone for the film with Woods playing the mild mannered Science Teacher balancing out his over protective wife. At the same time seeing how they try to deal with the turbulent lives of their daughters from the opening attempted suicide by the youngest daughter Cecilia and the role they possibly played in her actions, while later attempting to protect their other daughters from the pain of the real world by keeping them within the family home. None of which is played with any of the overbearing parent cliches such as while Turner’s character might be a devout Catholic she’s not putting any of the girls into the cupboard of shame.

When it comes to the girls they are sadly undeveloped with the exceptions of the groups wildchild Lux (Dunst) and youngest daughter Cecilia whose role is limited but whose suicide bother her failed attempt which opens the film and her eventual demise serve as the catalysis for the events which follow as a memorable meeting with Danny DeVito’s Psychiatrist pushes for them to explore interactions outside of the family home something that Lux fully embraces along with her burgeoning femininity leads to it’s own impactful moment when she meets the school Lothario Trip Fontaine (Hartnett). The other sisters meanwhile never get the same development so that while they are present they are for the most part interchangable especially given so few moments to shine like the party their parents throw for them in the family basement only to find the boy / girl awkwardness hampers any meaningful interaction.

While the opening to the film is certainly strong it’s around the third act that the film suddenly stumbles and while there are certainly still some charming scenes such as the boys and the Lisben sisters using secret phone calls and messages sent through carefully picked records everything feels too aimless and lacking the flow to really pull the film through and certainly along with the clumsy epilogue to the story which while it might highlight how life continues to move on it just felt like it was causing the film to overstay it’s welcome.

Between this film and her initial short film Lick The Star Coppola is marking herself out as a talent of note, let alone a different breed of director to her father Francis Ford Coppola who comparisons would inevitability be drawn. But while he favoured grand scale epics Sofia showed her an eye for more intimate stories even though she wouldn’t truly nail down her style until her follow up Lost In Translation and while I certainly wished I enjoyed this film it’s at best a film if it’s flaws weren’t so noticeable.

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