Tag Archives: Friday Film Club

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)

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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)

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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: Seoul Station + Repo Man

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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 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 – Seoul Station (2016)

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With the recent release of Train to Busan’s sequel Peninsula, it seems the right time to revisit this franchise and nowhere better to start than the animated prequel, Seoul Station. While Korean animation isn’t as popular as Japanese animation, Seoul Station has some ambitious efforts of crafting how the zombie outbreak starts and sets itself in the South Korean city center, Seoul, giving it more people and areas while wrapping itself in a story that focuses on a few characters as they get chased across the city, in some cases, not only by zombies but their own back story.

Seoul Station focuses around 3 characters. The main character is a sex worker Hye-Sun who runs away from her brothel and then realizes that the second character, her boyfriend Ki-Woong is also trying to pimp her out due to money problems. As she escapes this situation, her father Suk-gyu comes looking for her. Its at this time that the infection breaks out around the Seoul Station area where these three characters are and as they reunite and run away and get chased around, they start being encountered by the zombies and we start seeing how this infection works and what the government and in turn, military view this situation.

Seoul Station might not be quite as polished as Train to Busan but it is a good piece as a prequel. It keeps its characters simple and manages to show the infection break out on a wider scale in a bigger city like Seoul. At the same time, these characters each have their own stories but we only see the bits and pieces revealed throughout an intense chase for survival. There is definitely a chase within a chase between Hye-sun and Suk-gyu. If there’s anything to say about the visuals of the animation, the color palette is done really well as well as the animated elements itself. For one, with the amount of chase scenes, the zombie animation and the speed in their movement is captured really well. The story itself is well-paced and executed at a quick pace to keep the action and tension going.

For fans of Train to Busan, this is a good one to watch. For people who haven’t seen Train to Busan, this one stands alone either way and is a good zombie animated movie that is definitely worth a watch.

Elwood’s Pick – Repo Man (1984)

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After being fired from his supermarket job and dumped by his girlfriend, Punk Otto (Estevez) unwittingly finds himself being drawn into being a repo man by Bud (Stanton). However when a bounty for a 1964 Chevy Malibu comes up Otto soon finds that he’s not alone in the search for the car and the mysterious glowing cargo in it’s trunk.

Having set out on a mission to save cinema and coming off his baffling short film Sleep is for Sissies director Alex Cox found surprising support in Monkee’s guitarist (and the only man to make a woolly hat iconic) Michael Nesmith who produced the film while convincing Universal Studios to back the project. The end result seeing Cox drawing ideas from his debut film while making a film which is as much about punk culture as it about conforming to society, while throwing in a whole heap of sci-fi randomness for good measure.

While not an active participant in the emerging San Francisco punk scene and instead more of an onlooker but certainly here the film embraces the scene which is clear from the get go as Cox opens to shots of a map of L.A. to the strains of Iggy Pop who saw the opportunity to contribute to the films soundtrack as a “Gift from god” seeing how it came at a low point in his life from years of drug and alcohol abuse and furthered his own drive to clean himself up. This punk infused soundtrack which also features tracks from the likes of Black Flag and the Circle Jerks would also serve to save the film itself after a disastrous initial release the popularity of the soundtrack lead to the film being re-released turning it into a bonified cult hit.

Outside of the random plot threads Cox here demonstrate a real visual flair from the smoking boot remains of the traffic cop who looks into the trunk of the Chevy through to the blank label can which only mark out their contents it’s a world which is both visually engaging yet never needing to throw it directly at the viewer to get them to register these details.

As my first experience with the work of Alex Cox having previously known him through his Moviedrome introductions I’m now keen to see what else in his filmography I might have been missing out on. Repo Man meanwhile is a true cult classic which might take a couple of viewings to fully appreciate but it is an unquestionably fiercely original film.

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: Easy A + Bad Lieutenant

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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 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 – Easy A (2010)

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Scroll back 10 years ago in 2010, Easy A was one of the first movies to really give the teen movies a big boost both in character and nostalgia. It paid homage to John Hughes films while also creating its own voice on teenage coming of age experience in the high school environment. Easy A tells the story of Olive, a girl who is a normal high school student that didn’t stick out in a crowd but through her own misuse of words to the wrong person ends up propelling rumors that she ends up riding along with and raising her own popularity to a point that gets a little out of hand.

There’s so much to love about Easy A. While it does wittingly put in a lot of teenage romance comparisons to John Hughes films or even 80s teenage films in general, the movie itself is somewhat a refreshed parallel of those memorable movies as well with a look at the 2010s landscape with technology being able to propel the rumor mill at a faster speed. While at the same time, a lot of the film’s success does have to lie with its cast, especially the witty take on the character of Olive by Emma Stone, showing off her comedic side thoroughly as well as her convincing take on this character that tries to prove a point by embracing the dark side in public, at the same time, not realizing the pain it would cause her until it was too late.

Of course, no great movie is one person. It also has to pair up with a lot of equally witty characters, mainly, Olive’s entire family which is packed with some fun characters. Playing her mother is Patricia Clarkson and as her father is Stanley Tucci who both make the family scenes every bit a highlight with their quick comebacks and witty dialogues. At the same time, the school scenario is not lacking for good cast members either with Thomas Haden Church, Lisa Kudrow and of course, Amanda Bynes who was a teen film favorite in 2000s and sees her in her last feature film role here.

Easy A is executed as a look back at the events as Olive recounts what she has gone through in a livestream. Its a particularly smart move to give the film structure, almost like its in stages and chapters for each turning point of the situation, narrated by the main character themselves. At the end, it also delivers a good message about high school rumors and being true to yourself. Packed with a great lesson and a witty and sarcastic take on the high school dilemmas and rumors, Easy A is a great movie that is still fun every single watch even after 10 ten years.

Elwood’s Pick – Bad Lieutenant (1992)

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Back in the late 90’s when I was first seriously getting into film, beyond the surface level enjoyment I already got from my movie watching, Channel 4 here in the UK used to show Extreme cinema; a genre pretty much dead these days with society on a whole becoming harder to shock it would seem. Back then these films were truly seen as pushing boundaries of taste and would be shown as part of their late night schedule on a Friday night. It was from these seasons of films that I was exposed to films such as Greg Araki’s The Doom Generation and necrophilia romance Kissed which shocked me almost as much as they held a strange fascination for me, knowing that I was watching something which certainly fell outside of the cinematic mainstream, especially with their frequently graphic depicatations of sex, drugs, nudity and any number of taboo subjects. It would also be through these late night movie watching sessions that I would first see this film, which while I might not have followed it fully back then, still proved to be a memorable experience while kick-starting a lifelong fascination with the films of Abel Ferrara whom I mention in my review of The King of New York is my director of choice when I feel like watching something truly grimy and once again here it’s what he truly delivers.

As always with Ferrara it is a suitably grimy vision of New York that he once again gives us here, especially with the Lieutenant frequently seeming to take us on a guided tour of its most seediest parts as investigates the rape of a nun while he hangs out with drug dealers and trades drugs he steals from evidence aswell as adding to his own habit. It’s a habit which when combined with his frequent drinking, often finds him in some more than questionable situations as he frequents with prostitutes often in some form of stupor which also gives us one of the more memorable scenes from the film as a naked Keitel staggers around a room wailing into the night as he looks barely capable of functioning in any form and this is just for starters.

As well as these two vices and the constant pursuit of them, the Lieutenant also finds himself in a rapidly increasing spiral of gambling debts, as he continues to back the Dodgers as they face off against the Mets over a series of games, while Baseball player Darryl Strawberry seems to be the only hint at any human connection that he has with anyone with the sporadic interactions he has with his family either erupting in volatile outbursts or general neglect as he often appears to be distant even when surrounded by his family. This self-imposed isolation only increases over the course of the film as he gambles himself into further debts, while his addictions run wild, ultimately coming to ahead as he suffers a breakdown in a church, memorably grovelling and howling for forgiveness to a vision of a post crucified Jesus.

Unquestionably this is not an easy film to view, but despite the frequently graphic nature and crude tone the film takes, Ferrara clearly isn’t aiming to just shock his audience but instead punch them square in the face as he blurs the lines of gritty reality with frequently grotesque imagery. At the same time it is a powerhouse combination that we get from the potent combination of Ferrara’s direction and a bold and fearless performance by Keitel who despite committing numerous hideous and depraved acts still remains grimly watchable.

Similar in many ways to Taxi Driver the film views humanity at its darkest, perhaps making it all the more fitting that a nun is chosen as the victim of rape, as here even a symbol of purity and light is not beyond being soiled. At the same time the nun’s refusal to participate in the investigation of her attackers, furthers Ferrara’s own reoccurring ideals of finding forgiveness and compassion even when surrounded by a society fuelled on violence and hatred.

Unquestionably though thi is not the sort of film which is watched for enjoyment in the traditional sense, but this is still a griping if bleak experience and one truly carried by Keitel, whose performance Nicolas Cage would attempt to replicate with perhaps more overacted results in the unrelated, let alone Ferrara despised Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. However if you’re looking for a companion piece to Taxi Driver it’s safe to say that this film delivers the goods and more.

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: Your Name + Ocean’s 8

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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 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 – Your Name (2016)

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Adapted from director Makoto Shinkai’s novel of the same name which was published only one month prior to the film’s premiere, Your Name stands out because of all its elements being done very well: story full of reveals and twists, emotional moments, music score and of course, its rich animation. Your Name tells the story of Taki and Mitsuha, a teenage boy and girl respectively who live in different places, don’t know each other and somehow swap bodies in their sleep and gradually forget the other’s name and events when they wake up again in their own bodies. In the midst of a rare comet passing through, their lives become intertwined unexpectedly as they build a connection with each other and try to seek out one another.

Your Name has incredibly rich animation. Each scene has a lot of intricate details. Whether its setting up how the sunlight beams through a scene or how the night sky and the comet and lights contrast in its night scenes, every scene is set up to look beautifully authentic, especially in its outdoors nature scene that almost looks like a realistic snapshot full of colors, instead of an animation. Paired with its music score by Radwimps which runs fittingly throughout all the scenes, especially during the montage moments between the two main leads and the little things that happen to go through time quickly.

Your Name carries a rather complex story packed with swapping bodies, time elements and a few surprises along the way. Its execution is possibly the most important element put to the test in order to make each of its reveals timed perfectly to make it have the most impact and Shinkai does it so masterfully that it manages to make each one unpredictable and pulls the story into another direction and packing in a lot of emotions and tugging some heartstrings as this is at the centre of it all, a love story by the end. At the same time, props to Shinkai who also starts off the story in a light and fun way of introducing these two characters who learn to discover each other physically and emotionally, adding a lot of charm and humor.

At the end of the day, Your Name delivers an fun and emotional story that has a lot of creativity behind it. Its success lies heavily on the twists that it delivers effectively and yet, there’s so much more to this as both the visual aesthetics and the music support the story including the supporting characters which give foundation to explain why these two characters are caught up in this dilemma.

Elwood’s Pick – Ocean’s Eight (2018)

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Working with half the crew but losing none of the star power this genderswapped follow up to the original trilogy (lets just forget that Ratpack original) see’s Danny’s sister orchestrating her own heist upon her release from prison after an art swindle went south. Now gathering her own crew together she plots the snatch of a diamond necklace from the Met Gala.

Switching out the bright lights of Vegas for New York is certainly a great move as it really stops the film from falling into just reworking one of the original heists. It also gives Debbie her own stomping ground even if both her and her partner Lou (Blanchett) feel a little too similar to Danny and Rusty.

Thankfully the similarities end with Debbie and Lou with the rest of the crew each standing out on their own merits and not used before skill sets like Rhianna’s hacker Nine Ball and Mindy Kaling’s jewelry maker. Add to this Helena Bonham Carter’s fashion designer and the always fantastic Awkwafina who here shows up as the always required hustler / pickpocket. It’s equally nice that director Gary Ross resists the urge to cram in a bunch of cameos from well known female celebs to ramp up the girl power, which I honestly was expecting from the setting so to not see an awkward cameo from Taylor Swift or god forbid Lena Dunham was a welcome surprise. We do however get James Corden as an insurance investigator which feels like it was dropped into the film just to give him a role even as per normal he adds nothing but runtime to the film.

The downside here though is compared to the Ocean’s 11 heists the one here lack alot of the twists and complexity and comes off a little too straightforward for the brand. I guess we should just be glad it doesn’t pull the franchise killing move of having an actor suddenly play themselves as we got with that Julie Roberts moment in Ocean’s 12.

A fun heist movie with a good energy between the cast, it’s just a shame this feels so self contained as certainly this could have been the start of a fun new trilogy with this crew. But in the meantime it’s a fun watch while it lasts even if it’s not exactly bringing anything new to the genre.

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)

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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)

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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: Leviathan + Crawl

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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 – Crawl (2019)

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While sharks are primarily the star of creature features, Crawl takes on a lesser used monster as it takes a disaster film and pairs it with a horror film where a father, daughter and their dog gets trapped in their basement crawl space and hunted down by alligators during a Category 5 hurricane. As in any of these films, it is about survival. Directed by Alexandre Aja who is no stranger to directing horror films, Crawl takes on a decent form from the atmosphere and how the whole story goes as it builds gripping tension with these characters and this quiet predator.

Starring Kaya Scodelario as a rising swimming athlete in university called Haley who goes to check on her father Dave played by Barry Pepper, she ends up finding him in a crawl space unconscious and their own salvation is behind these pipes that the alligators hunting them can’t get through. As the crawl space fills up with water, they need to find a way to escape without being noticed by these alligators. Just looking at the character designs, it definitely feels like a rather contrived way to put a swimmer as a central character in a flood and yet, if you can get past that (and you should), Crawl manages to create some gripping moments and build up a decent  bit of tension while also making the whole crawl space experience to play well in the claustrophobic and time-sensitive situation.

There’s a lot to love about Crawl. For one, it uses a lesser used “monster” which definitely needs to be used more as quiet predators create some good surprise attack moments. At the same time, the characters are pretty good. While there is still some family drama to sort out between the father and daughter, the focus on survival is the priority. At the same time, the script makes an effort to give reasoning for why these alligators have gathered in this crawl space and it all does come together in the end. Plus, the director manages to not only use the crawl space and the claustrophobia of that setting to its potential but when it migrates out of there, it still manages to use its environment and the hurricane to its advantage as well. Crawl definitely delivers a great creature feature film that’s well worth a watch.

Elwood’s Pick – Leviathan (1989)

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One of a slew of Underwater Sci-fi horror released in the wake of The Abyss alongside Deep Star Six a film which proved as tricky to get hold of. Unlike Deep Star Six this one actually proved to be worth the effort as it plays like a more horror focused version of The Abyss with a dash of John Carpenter’s The Thing thrown in for good measure.

Directed by George P. Cosmatos whoat this point was coming into the film hot after directing both Rambo: First Blood 2 and Cobra; here though he calms things back alittle as he introduces a crew of blue collar deep sea miners headed up by geologist Steve Beck (Weller) who like the rest of the crew is looking forward to the shift change in 4 days. However the chance discovery of the scuttled Soviet ship soon brings with it all kinds of problems when the experiment which was being tested on the unknowing crew is soon wreaking havoc on the mining team.

Despite the B-movie roots of the film each of the crew are given enough depth to help them standout more than disposable monster chow, though at the same time most of the crew for the first quarter are overshadowed by the pervert antics of Six Pack played here by Daniel Stern who spends most of his time in the film trying to hit on or just straight up sexually harass the two female crew members which is the kind of thing that you could never get away with now, especially with his boob mug and the centrefolds he plasters across his bunk. The crew in general though are a likeable bunch with Ernie Hudson getting a few great lines while Weller is enjoyable as the lead his performance remains as diversive as ever especially in the first quarter were he seems to actually be confused about what he’s supposed to be going while his payoff line of “Open wide Motherfucker!!” comes off a little more amusing than I think it was originally planned.

Shot on sound stages in Rome the layout of the Miner’s “Shack” is actually very similar to the Deep Core research station of The Abyss in that everything is raw steel and exposed pipes but at the same time we see throughout this station subtle details such as the screens playing footage of landscapes and sunlamps to strive away the effects of being underwater for long periods. Such a functional setup of course only works the better during the final were the high pressure of the surrounding ocean slowly crushes the station causing the internal structure to collapse and spectacularly implode. At the same time the lack of sterile work areas and clunky diving suits designed to deal with the high pressure really give the film a presence and memorable look which complements this crew of blue collar workers, striving off the boredom and cablin fever of their surroundings till the next shift change.

While the monster action is alittle slower than expected to start as what initially starts out seemingly as an infection after two of the miners consume vodka they fund amongst their salvage from the ship and because seemingly no one told this pair about why you don’t drink things you find on sunk ships the film soon mutates into body horror before the film just turns into a full blown monster on the loose movie. Much like as in Alien though the crew also have to deal with the shady plots of the company higher ups here represented by an almost otherworldly Meg Foster who communicates with Beck via the station video monitor, though it’s soon becomes clear that they might be working their own agenda as always seems to be the case in these movies.

With Stan Winston handling the creature effects they still look impressive if never going as crazy as Rob Bottin’s effects for The Thing. However watching the film now it doesn’t really matter as with these kind of movies now just being the preferred output of the Asylum and the SYFY channel to actually have a half decent film with practical effects leaves you feeling kind spoiled to not be subjected to subpar CGI. At the same time the monster does have a few unique quirks of it’s own as we see crew members absorbed into it’s skin adding a nice moral quandry for those attempting to fight it as they are faced with the prospect of having to kill their friends in order to kill the monster.

A fun throw back which serves as a reminder as to how far this sub-genre has fallen and while it might not reach the same heights as The Abyss it’s a notable step up from Deep Star Six and perhaps if the tension was built upon more it might be more fondly remembered. Regardless there is still plenty for genre fans to enjoy here.

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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.