Tag Archives: Fantasy

Friday Film Club: Upside Down (2012) & Night Watch (2004)

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 –  Upside Down (2012)

As we start out Season 3 with Sofia Coppola’s filmography, it only seems suitable to talk about a movie with Kirsten Dunst. Upside Down is a 2012 fantasy romance film set in a fictional world where the gravity pulls in opposite directions. The rich live in the Up Top and the poor live in the Down Below. The population from Down Below is illegal to go to Up Top however the people from Up Top can pay big money to enjoy ceiling entertainment in the Down Below as an experience. In comes Adam and Eden who met when they were teens and some misunderstanding pulls them apart. A decade later when Adam soon sees Eden again on a show, he is determined to go to her through finding a position in the offices to easily access the passage to the Up Top. 

In the lead roles is Kirsten Dunst as Eden and Jim Sturgess as Adam who play teen lovers who have been separated and trying to reunite. The charm of any romance is the chemistry between its characters. While the story here is set in a fantasy world, their romance is fairly normal except for the hurdles that blend into the world that this is set in. There’s a lot to love between them because what they have is cute and sweet. In the supporting role is Timothy Spall who plays Bob, who is Adam’s coworker and he is a charming and inspiring character and one of the highlight roles of Upside Down. 

The CGI elements are visually appealing. Sure, there’s some issues with the whole concept and the physics but for a romance story and not one all about science fiction and how it all works, it’s easy to see past the flaws and focus on the point of the film and that is the romance between Adam and Eden and their determination to be together and taking a leap of faith in the name of love. Upside Down hinges a lot on how much you like romance films as well as how willing you are to buy the premise. 

Elwood’s Pick – Night Watch (2004)

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Based on the Night Watch series by Sergei Lukyanenko, Timur Bekmambetov’s film adaptation has the distinction of being Russia’s first horror movie. The film set in modern day Moscow see’s the forces of light and dark upholding a fragile truce which has held since Medieval times when it became clear to both sides that neither held a clear advantage over the other. To uphold the truce the forces of light formed the Night Watch while the forces of Darkness formed the Day Watch to ensure that the truce was upheld by both sides. However when a powerful neutral “Other” threatens to upset the balance depending on which side they choose, both sides find themselves in a race to discover who they are.

Shot for a mere $4.2 milion which clearly in Russia goes a lot further as here we are presented with a film which not only looks incredible as epic medievil battles rage on the roofs of tower blocks while building crumble you would think that Bekammbetov is working with the same kind of budget as the Hollywood mainstream. At the same time here he brings to life a world were amidst the urban sprawl of the city vampire lurk in the shadows, witches perform rituals to help jilted lovers get back at their former partners and a nurse’s depression might just responsible for the catastrophic storm raging over her tower block.

Following Night Watch agent Anton (Konstantin Khabensky) a low level mage who spends his nights looking like a city worker much like his fellow agents as they cruise the streets in big yellow trucks and interest contract to the flashy clothes and sports cars of the Day Watch one of which getting to live the live of a famous pop star when she’s not on duty. Certainly it’s a very grounded approach to these fantastical characters and part of what makes the film work so well, more so when it’s combined with a vicious edge which see’s clashes between the two sides not involving sparkly vampires flashing through the air but rather bloody and brutal clashes as we see when Anton is forced to tackle a pair of rogue vampires. That being said anyone who saw Wanted will know that Behammbetov is no slouch when it comes to producing exciting and inventing action scenes and this certainly the case here as well.

On an initial watch the plotting and world can seem alittle complex but certainly this is a film which rewards a second viewing with the mythology expanded further with the problematic sequel Day Watch which thanks to Behammbetov taking on Wanted and seeing the offer to direct the proposed third film Twilight Watch putting him in an artistic rut. As such Day Watch is left feeling like two films edited together as it brings a rushed end to what could have been a fantastic trilogy. Still viewed as a stand alone or as part of a larger saga there is still a lot to enjoy with the film providing the perfect entry point into this world

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

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

 

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After Hours – Love, Death + Robots (Season #1)

Wrapping up season #2 our final bonus episode has us looking at Love, Death + Robots for our first boxset binge.

A project from David Fincher and Tim Miller whose initial plans to
remake Heavy Metal were mophed instead into this anthology of short
animated tales with seemingly limitless scope for the stories which can
be told as we discover from this first season.

So get ready for alternative histories, monsters, shocking twists and of course love, death + robots!!

 

Music on this episode

Keith Mansfield – Funky Fanfare

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Friday Film Club: Howls Moving Castle + Heavy Metal

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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 –  Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)

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Loosely based on the 1986 novel of the same name by Diana Wynne Jones, Howl’s Moving Castle was Hayao Miyazaki’s follow up to the runaway success of Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke. Telling the story set in a fictional kingdom filled with both magic and technology as well as a bit of steampunk if you look at the Moving Castle creation, it follows the adventures of a common girl called Sophie who encounters a witch that turns her into an old woman. In turn, she encounters Howl, a wizard who is set out on resisting the war that is going on between the kingdoms. This encounter takes her into Howl’s Moving Castle which turns out to not only be a magical place filled with magical creatures like Calcifer, the fire that runs the castle as well as the portal of doors that can go where Howl had set.

Voiced by Christian Bale (Howl), Jean Simmons (old Sophie), Emily Mortimer (young Sophie), Billy Crystal (Calcifer) and Lauren Bacall (Witch of the Waste), Howl’s Moving Castle is packed with some strong Hollywood talent which reflect well through the final outcome of the film as each character becomes endearing and incredibly fun to watch come to life in each of their roles. As usual, Joe Hisaishi is the mastermind behind the moving soundtrack here and manages to capture all the great moments through sweeping orchestral score. Howl’s Moving Castle is an adventure and a love story packed with anti-war themes as well as the depiction of old age. However, it is the balance between the humor and the drama here that gives each of the character depth as we learn more about the magical Howl, both literally and figuratively, and it goes right down to giving a charming sense of life to a ball of fire.

While not laddened with achievements or considered a classic like Miyazaki’s earlier works, Howl’s Moving Castle has a ragtag team that goes on an adventure, each with their own goals and their own stories. However, it still manages to tug at the heartstrings and deliver some funny and charming moments. While one of the more modern titles from Miyazaki, although its already been 15 years since its release, Howl’s Moving Castle is a worthy title that doesn’t always get mentioned as Miyazaki’s great directorial works and should be.

Elwood’s Pick – Heavy Metal (1981)

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For those of you who recently enjoyed the Netflix anthology series Love, Death and Robots and now find yourself eagerly awaiting the recently announced second season you might want to check out this 1981 animated anthology which served as the inspiration with David Fincher and Tim Miller originally setting out to remake it, only for production issues to see them instead reworking their ideas  Love, Death and Robots.

So for those of you not familiar with the mature comic “Heavy Metal” which the film draws its own inspiration from it’s no doubt a publication best known for its focus on fantasy and sci-fi stories which are presented with a healthy dose of nudity, violence, drugs and erotica. It’s also a comic which interestingly is also owned by Kevin Eastman who lets not forget was also responsible for giving the world the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

The film itself is a bumper collection of nine tales tied together by a mysterious green orb called the Loc-Nar which also describes itself as “the sum of all evils” and as we soon discover has been responsible for influencing societies throughout time and space while usually bringing misfortune to those who encounter it. Each story has its own distinctive style from the Sin City style noir of the opening story “Harry Canyon” through to the ultra violent barbarian fantasies of “Den” and “Taarna” which makes it an easy film to get into especially as if you don’t like one story its not long till you move onto a new one.

Directed by Gerald Potterton who is no doubt best known for his work as an animator on arguably the best Beatles movie Yellow Submarine here his style is just as experimental incorporating elements of rotoscoping aswell as a distinctive hand drawn animated style which brings to mind the work of Ralph Bakshi. More so when characters frequently can be found engaging in some form of bad or deviant behavior including (but certainly not limited to) a pair of alien pilots snorting mile long lines of coke off the floor of their spaceship.

While the animation style might look a little dated there is still unquestionably a charm to this hand drawn style of animation and it perfectly suits the stories being told much like the voice cast who might be surprising to see attached to this film and no doubt the result of Ivan Reitman being attached as the producer, but they all really play their roles well with John Candy’s voice work in particular really left me wishing that he had done more voice work as here he really shows a talent for it.

Adding to the action is a classic rock soundtrack which thankfully forgoes the usual obvious choices and instead gives us lesser known tracks from the likes of Cheap Trick, Grand Funk Railroad and Sammy Hagar which really is the kind of soundtrack you want when you open your film with a Corvette being driven out of a spaceship and landing on Earth by it’s astronaut driver (or should that be pilot). Still regardless of the setting of each story the soundtrack somehow works well with the onscreen action, though frustratingly one of the stories being cut due to production delays meant that we lost “Time” by Pink Floyd from the soundtrack.

It’s true that due to the voyeuristic style throughout the film which much like its source material is not something that will suit all tastes, but if you liked the brash style of Sin City you will no doubt find this film very much its kindred spirit. Yes it’s rude, foul mouthed and seemingly devoid of even the most base morals but at the same time it’s so much fun that it’s hard to draw too much of an issue with it’s frequently outlandish world view and for fans of adult animation, especially those who came up through the anime boom of the late 80’s and early 90’s will no doubt get a kick out this one.

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

Simplistic Reviews return from their recent break to discuss what they did on their summer break, which includes hospital visits that lead to an interaction with Michael Keaton, their top 3 episodes of Black Mirror, some of Quincy Jones’ best hits…on fellow celebrities, and how much they would need to get paid to let a female soccer player kick them in the nethers!
Of course if this wasn’t enough Matt has an interview with the producer of The Ranger Heather Buckley

Asian Cinema Film Club check out Park Chan-Wook’s take on the vampire mythos with Thirst as a priest finds himself inheriting vampirism from a blood transfusion. They also discuss Old school anime collecting, Detective Pikachu, Neon Genesis Evangelion and the changing face of fandom.

The Blade Licking Thieves are looking at Highlander: The Search For Vengeance aswell as sharing thier thoughts on Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Friday Film Club: Joy Sticks & City of Ember

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Hi folks and welcome to another edition the The Friday Film Club where both myself and Kim each highlight 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 – Joysticks (1983)

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Inspired by Director Greydon Clark seeing a line outside an arcade and realising that he could make an arcade-themed film to tap into the same market churning out the film out in a brisk thirteen days Clark here hedged his bets further by throwing into the mix pretty much anything else which was popular in 1983 such as new wave punks, fart humour, kids outsmarting the man and hot girls who constantly seem to be in some form of undress which really would have made it my favourite movie had I caught this back in my teens, something which always seems to have been the key time to watch these 80’s movies and most of the problematic filmography of John Hughes.

Not deviating too far from the 80’s comedy mould of Jock / Ladies Man, Fat Guy and Nerd here Jefferson Bailey (Scott McGinnis) runs the town arcade along with his best friend and general slob McDorfus (Jim Greenleaf) and the nerdy Eugene (Leif Green). The popularity of the arcade with the local youths however soon attracts the attention of local businessman Joseph Rutter (Jon Don Baker) who is soon plotting to shut down the arcade.

While the film certainly doesn’t have the deepest of plots nor seemingly anyone whose either ever been to an arcade or seemingly played on an arcade machine judging by the hyperactive and often over sexualised movements the players use. That being said there is unquestionably a Sex comedy vibe to the film as copious amounts of nudity are worked in throughout the film including a round of Strip Wizard of Wor.

For the retro gaming fans there is a fun thrill to be found in seeing footage from titles like Deluxe Space Invaders and Star Castle while Midway Games gave permission for the film to use a Pac-man screen wipe aswell as showcase Satan’s Hollow and the then unreleased Super Pac-Man a fun marketing trick copied years later when The Wizard gave the world it’s first look at Super Mario Bros. 3 aswell as no doubt convincing younger gamers that the Power Glove wasn’t the most useless peripheral ever.

The downside of the film however is the humour which really hasn’t dated well, which can make it alittle hard to get into in places, especially McDorfus being being a one joke character while the bumbling antics of Rutter’s nephews is often just painful to sit through and yet there is still something still quite watchable in the midst of all the randomness being thrown at the screen, much less it features a Rocky style training montage so Jefferson can win at Super Pac-Man in the films climax were it’s played out using giant joysticks making it a fun trash cinema pick.

Kim’s Pick – City of Ember (2008)

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Adapted from a YA novel of the same name by Jeanne Duprau, City of Ember tells the story of of a city created underground over 200 years ago by its founders in the face of a global catastrophe for its survivor. Upon its creation, the mayor was tasked to pass on the countdown box for 200 years to its successor but unfortunately, the sudden death of one of the mayors left the next one to not know about it and the story starts decades after the 200 years deadline and the city is starting to fail. As the mayor and the power generator works and engineers try to keep the city illuminated, two teenagers Lina (Saoirse Ronan) and Doon (Harry Treadaway) have discovered the clues hidden in the city which lead them towards a search for an escape.

An underrated film to say the least, City of Ember is one of the better adapted films. The script is fantastic and the City of Ember is a joy to discover whether it is in its own system of how each citizen is tasked with their job and the details of discovering the different areas of the city and the little secrets hidden in the nook and crannies. It is a whole new world full of surprises to take in. Adding in the fact that we have one of the first lead roles for Saoirse Ronan who plays Lina Mayfleet, a swift messenger with a younger sister that she takes care of. This lead role is one that shines under her portrayal. Playing opposite her is Harry Treadaway playing Doon who gets assigned to the sewers in the city, who takes a chance and gets convinced into helping Lina out. Adding in the fact that Bill Murray plays the mayor here and delivers in spades and Tim Robbins plays Doon’s father, City of Ember carries a lot of charm in its characters.

City of Ember is full of adventure and it is also one of the few YA stories that keeps its young protagonists young and full of naivety and give them the space to grow and develop as they dive deeper into unraveling the mysteries in the City of Ember and believing in themselves and finding the courage to face the unknown and take chances. It is a fun adventure through and through.

Round Up

Lackey – Lackey On Film / TV Good Sleep Bad – Pet Semetary
Bubbawheat – Flights, Tights and Movie Nights / Filmwhys – The Killing Joke
The Vern – Vern’s Video Vortex / Cinema Recall – Pet Sematary (1989 + 2019)
Robert – To The Escape Hatch – Shazam
Greg – Debatable Podcast – Pet Semetary (2019), Beyond Outrage + Outrage Coda
Zoe – Zobo With A Shotgun – Nekromantik + The Highwaymen

Thanks to everyone who shared thier weekend viewing and certainly the Pet Semetary remake is clearly the hot ticket for this weekend but why not let us know in the comments section what your be watching and we will add you to this weeks round up.

 

 

Movies and Tea #15 – Pan’s Labyrinth

An adult fairytale set against a backdrop of the Spanish Civil war, here Guillermo Del Toro’s blending of styles delivers powerful results which resonated not only with critics and foreign language cinema fans, but also mainstream audiences. Del Toro forgoing the offers from Hollywood Studios to ensure complete freedom for his vision.

Norman from Flick Hunter joins us to discuss this breakout film for Del Toro, aswell as sharing his thoughts on this years Oscar nominations and more!!

Further Viewing

Sucker Punch
Beasts of the Southern Wild
The Shining
Edward Scissorhands
City of Lost Children

Music on this episode

Keith Mansfield – Funky Fanfare
El Refugio – Javier Navarrete
Long Long Time Ago –  Javier Navarrete

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Friday Film Club: Jack and the Cuckoo Clock Heart & World’s Greatest Dad

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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 – Jack and the Cuckoo Clock Heart (2013)

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Based on a concept album by French rock band Dionysus and the lead singer’s illustrated novel of the same name, Jack and the Cuckoo Clock Heart, originally titled Jack et la mecanique du coeur, translates to Jack and the Mechanics of the Heart which fits the story in this French animated fantasy film. The movie telling the story of a boy called Jack born on the coldest day of the year with a heart of ice. To save him, the midwife Madeleine decides to replace it with a cuckoo clock heart. With this new mechanical heart, he needs to guard three rules: never play with the hands of the clock; never lose his temper and never to fall in love. Of course, he inevitably meets by complete coincidence, a beautiful little girl singer called Acacia.

This little tale is packed with fantastical elements. For one, it wraps up a lot of familiar random people such as a world where his little search for Acacia ends up leading him to meet Georges Melies and Jack the Ripper to just name a few. With vibrant palette of colors that pop and a unique character designs and costumes and the backdrop itself, Jack and the Cuckoo Clock Heart packs in a lot of passion project elements and a stylish visual feast. The story might seem fairly normal but seeing as it is based on a concept album, the musical elements of this is absolutely awesome and might even make you want to seek out more of Dionysus’s music. While Jack and the Cuckoo Clock Heart has a rather predictable love story and it hits every bit of what you think might happen, but what truly stands out here is the imaginative details added in that makes it bizarre in a charming way.

Personally I’d recommend watching the original French version because then all the music and lyrics are the original version but they have made a rather competent English version as well with Samantha Barks (Eponine in Les Miserables) voicing Miss Acacia. Another reason to watch this original is because Mathias Malzieu, the lead singer of Dionysus in the original version doesn’t only co-direct, write the screenplay, created the music but also voices Jack. If you are looking for an imaginative adventure (more than just romance), this is definitely one to consider.

Elwood’s Pick: World’s Greatest Dad (2009)

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Don’t let the name fool you as this ain’t no saturnine sweet Hallmark movie about good parenting but rather another pitch black comedy with a heart from director Bobcat Goldthwait in which Robin Williams plays high school teacher and aspiring writer Lance Clayton who despite his best efforts has nothing to show for his efforts than a pile of rejection letters. Things only get worse when his son Kyle (Daryl Sabara) kills himself in an auto-eroticasphyxiation experiment goes astray. Attempts to cover up how his son really died, Lance instead makes his death look like a suicide. However when the suicide note Lance wrote gets leaked to the school he is soon faced with his son being painted as an intellectual saint rather than the foul mouthed underachiever he was when he was alive.

Essentially a play on the scandal which surrounded the fake rehab memoir A Million Little Pieces Goldthwait manages to once more manages to somehow deliver a black comedy which still manages to have a lot of heart as while on the surface it might seem that Lance is using this sudden interest in his writing to further his own causes especially when fuelled by students and teachers bombardng him with fake memories of his son while at the time finding a way to confront their own issues, so much so that he is soon writing a fake journal for Kyle as he continues to crave the second hand credit being heaped on his dead son. With this structure film provides an interesting commentary on posthumous celebrity which initially might come off crude for shock value especially as Kyle pre-death rains down on his father a continual onslaught of abuse, foul language and sexual references which makes you wonder how Lance has gone this long without killing him himself; However this only serves to make his death and fake legacy all the more effective

Originally Williams had intended to only make a cameo in the film as a favour to his long time friend Goldthwait only to end up playing the lead after he was so impressed with the script and while this might be more of a dramatic performance than Williams usual high energy comedic performances it’s one which really serves to balance the film out, especially when the supporting cast are such a colourful bunch oddballs and protagonists such as Lance’s flaky younger girlfriend Claire (Alexie Gilmore) whose romantic attachment seems to be to whoever is currently riding the way of success at that moment as she switches constantly between Lance and his writing rival and fellow teacher Mike (Henry Simmons).

Sure Goldthwait’s warped sense of humour might not be for all tastes but thanks to some smart writing and great performances throughout this film rises well above it’s bad taste foundations to once more create something truly unique that’s well worth discovering.

So you’ve heard our picks but what are your own movie watching plans for the weekend? Let us know in the comments section.

Cronos (1993) – Kim’s Take

The second season is finally here and we’re taking a look at Guillermo Del Toro’s directorial work. Without further ado, here’s my thoughts on his debut full feature, Cronos.

To listen to our podcast discussion, check it out HERE.

Cronos (1993)

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Director (and writer): Guillermo Del Toro

Cast: Federico Luppi, Ron Perlman, Claudio Brook, Tamara Shanath, Margarita Isabel

A mysterious device designed to provide its owner with eternal life resurfaces after four hundred years, leaving a trail of destruction in its path. – IMDB

If you  haven’t yet dived into the Guillermo del Toro’s roots, Cronos is definitely a strong debut to check out. It is a foreign language film starring Federico Luppi as the main actor, an grandfather and antique store owner who encounters a piece of ancient mechanism. Del Toro shows a vision of giving a fresh twist to the familiar vampire genre in Cronos. Del Toro takes on this debut project not only has a director but also as the writer on the project which shows a level of attachment to this project. His fascination with insects and child endangerment all begin here as well as the atypical villain that shows up in a lot of his films especially with his more famous titles.

If we look at the cast of Cronos, Federico Luppi takes on quite the memorable role as Jesus. As both the grandfather who enters into this ordeal by accident and coincidences, he finds something that rejuvenates and yet creates so much more problems for those seeking this mechanism. It is also the first time that Del Toro works with Ron Perlman who goes on to do Hellboy films with him. Ron Perlman plays a rich man’s nephew who is there for the end game benefits and with that, there is something of an odd motivation for him which somehow justifies itself in the end. Surprisingly, his role shines more than the character of De La Guardia, who is his uncle played by Claudio Brook. However, what is a Del Toro film without looking at the child actress here, Tamara Shanath who plays Aurora, Jesus’s  granddaughter. While her role is fairly supporting, she still remains interwined in the events especially as one that observes a lot of what is going on.

There are issues with Cronos. The first being the pacing being a little harder to catch on. The second is having some odd characters that don’t quite make sense in the spectrum of things completely. In the Mexican horror landscape though, this one has its value especially seeing as this is the debut full-length feature film of Guillermo Del Toro. What excels here is Del Toro’s theme, his creativity in both the idea and writing as well as the direction being able to boast the atmosphere and truly create an immersive story.  The most fascinating design here has to however go to the Cronos mechanism with both its mythical and fantastical elements and how it all unfolds.