Tag Archives: Movies

After Hours #13 – Paradise Hills

On this episode we check out the pastel goth dollhouse that is “Paradise Hills” a mysterious behavioural modification centre for women who have displeased their families.

But what secrets does the island hold? We find out as we check out this sci-fi thriller from Alice Waddington here making her directorial debut and featuring a script co-written by Nacho Vigalondo

Music on this episode

Keith Mansfield – Funky Fanfare

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Friday Film Club: Election + Duel

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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 – Duel (1971)

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Adapted from the short story by Richard Matheson of the same name who happens to also take on the role as screenplay writer for this film. Duel is the feature full-length directorial debut of Steven Spielberg. Duel is a thriller about a middle-age salesman (Dennis Weaver) on a business trip when he overtakes a tank truck that overtook him prior that ends up chasing and terrorizing him.

Released as a TV movie originally, Duel is an outstanding effort and one that definitely shows off the early signs of the great director that Steven Spielberg has become with many memorable movies and franchises under his belt. The setting is on a desert highway which in some stretches feels incredibly barren which gives this chase a lot more thrill. It has a very small cast, aside from a phone conversation and a few scenes where the salesman makes his stops, it is mostly focused on the downward spiral of the salesman mentally as he becomes overwhelmed by this terrorizing tank truck that won’t let him go. There are some rather intense scenes as the truck feels more and more menacing.

With that said, the true star of the film does go to using a truck as the villain. The driver remains unseen throughout the entire film except for his boots and arm at one point which builds on the fear of the unknown. The reason for why it chases down the salesman is also unknown. In the extras, Spielberg talks about the design of the truck which may hide more in its details such as the various license plates that decorate the front of the truck from various states, which might hint at further victims. All these questions and the unseen driver makes the truck the actual villain with its sheer size, almost like a towering bully as he chases down the salesman in his red Plymouth Valiant.

Duel might not be Spielberg’s most memorable movie for many people but it is one that goes back to his roots as a director and is a straightforward thriller that keeps its story on track the entire way with a small cast of characters and a unique villain set in a deserted landscape. Everything fits together with an engaging script and that’s why Duel is such a fun movie to watch over and over again.

Elwood’s Pick – Election (2005)

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While for the uninitiated the name of director Johnnie To might not instantly stand out like some of his contemporaries likes John Woo and perhaps even Yuen Woo-Ping but since the 80’s To has consistently been making incredible cinema flirting with everything from romantic melodrama’s to the heroic bloodshed and triad movies he’s probably best known to his fans for producing and it’s into this latter category that we find Election

The first film in a proposed trilogy though it can be just as easily be viewed as a stand alone film as rival triad bosses Simon Yam and Tony Leung Ka-Fai compete against each other to win the election that will make them the chairman of their Triad society the Wo Leung Shing which this year has even more riding on the outcome as division between the supporters of both parties threatens to split the society into rival factions and brings all out gang war to the streets of Hong Kong.

Added to the mix is Police Superintendent Hui (David Chiang) who is is tasked with the difficult line to walk between maintaining the law and the peace between the warring members knowing that their numbers greatly outnumber the police and even if he arrested them all they would only become more organised than before. This unique relationship between Triads and the police only making for a more engrossing story for while the film is certainly not without its action beats the diplomacy negotiations and the hunt for the batton which will allow the election to happen all add to this engrossing tale for which the paradox of “If you want peace, prepare for war” has never rung more true. As To builds to an unquestionably memorable pay off in the films closing moments.

 

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: Ready or Not + Frank

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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 – Ready or Not (2019)

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Every wealthy family has their secrets and very much so for the Le Domas who run the Le Domas Family Games company who has their own wedding night ritual. When the youngest brother Alex (Mark O’Brien) gets married to a “normal girl” Grace (Samara Weaving), she ends up meeting his very odd family and introduced to their wedding ritual to honor their family business and that is to draw a card from their prized possession, Le Bail’s puzzle box which names a game they must play as initiation. Grace draws “Hide-and-Seek” which turns out to be the deadliest choice in the pile when she finds out that she is now being hunted by the entire family in their locked down mansion.

Ready Or Not might seem like an escape room sort of deal and some twisted family. While the Le Domas family is a bit odd, they definitely fit into the dark comedy element presented for the movie as it’s obvious that this draw is not frequent. Through the movie, it’s much more than that as Grace outsmarts each of the members of the family, it becomes clear that the Le Domas have no choice to do this and their own reasons as we learn who Le Bail is and what the puzzle box is all about. The story itself being deeper than what its presented at the beginning along with a fast-paced chase around the house with each of the characters having their own agenda and quirky personality all adds to this being both violent but comedic and striking a nice balance between the two.

Each of the members of Le Domas family as well as Grace is so colorful. The standout would of course go to Samara Weaving who has been landing these crazy roles in the indie film realm and yet again, pulls off a great role with Grace. The unknown factor is where each person feels about this Hide and Seek game on hand. The female characters actually play mostly the stronger roles just like the intense Aunt Helene (Nicky Guadagni) and Grace’s mother in law (Andie MacDowell) who has more of a calm and manipulative personality. However, Alex’s character also has its inner conflict much like his brother Daniel (Adam Brody) who ends up  having quite a surprising turn of events in their choices.

Ready or Not is a fast-paced fun dark comedy thriller. It’s violent and intense at times yet at the same time, there are moments of dark comedy elements that relieve the tension a little. With some well-written characters and a unique twist to the story, it’s an absolute blast to watch.

 

Elwood’s Pick – Frank (2014)

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Jon (Domhnall Gleeson) is a struggling songwriter who after witnessing the keyboardist for the experimental band the Soronprfbs trying to drown himself, Jon finds himself drafted into the band as his replacement while at the same time being transfixed by their lead singer Frank who constantly wears a papier-mache mask over his head as he embarks on a journey of musical experimentation and sheer randomness as the band head to a remote cabin to record their debut album which like much of their music seems to be more about organised chaos and Frank chasing band members with a shovel than any kind of traditional songwriting as they create the sort of experimental noise making reminiscent of The Pixies and which somehow manages to get into your head so that you likely find yourself humming a few bars of “I love Wall”.

Inspired by Frank Sidebottom the fringe comedy persona of Chris Sievey who I’m not actually sure anyone outside of the UK might have actually heard of despite him being a regular fixture on early 90’s kids TV and the Madchester scene were he essentially gigged with everyone even at one playing his own support act. Still while the film is co-written by his former bandmate Jon Ronson this is not a biopic but rather a film inspired by his persona with Sievey giving his backing to the film shortly before his death, while Ronson drew further inspiration from the likes of Daniel Johnston and Captain Beefheart.

As weird as things get on this journey though, there is always this feeling of inclusion than the feeling the film is trying to be weird for the sake of things, thanks largely to Jon whose confused and often baffled responses to the things happening around him help provide an anchor to the film while in many ways representing the audiences viewing experience while at the same time Frank despite his unique appearance is such a warm and friendly soul as he offers to describe his facial expressions like warm smile as he hides under his paper-mache mask his own insecurities and an illusive personal history as the film gets gradually darker during it’s second half as Jon is corrupted more by the allure of fame, giving us the kind of personality shift that Gleeson does so well.

While perhaps not a film I would work into my regular rotation its still an engaging and enjoyable watch and one which certainly I felt myself thinking about several days after I saw it, For fans of Frank Sidebottom it’s kind of a unique tribute to Chris Sievey’s comedy alter ego while fans wanting a look at his life can hunt down the documentary Being Frank: The Chris Sievey story for a better look at the man inside the mask.

 

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: I Know What You Did Last Summer & The Plagues of Breslau

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 – I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)

Following the success of Scream,  writer Kevin Williamson’s previously-written screenplay loosely based on the 1973 novel of the same name by Lois Duncan was put into production. I Know What You Did Last Summer is the first movie of a trilogy which told the story of four young friends ending high school and going their separate ways who end up being involved in a hit and run accident. As they decide to go ahead to get rid of the body to not affect their future, they go their separate ways with this heavy secret. When one of them comes back from college, they realize all her friends have taken a different path but end up being bound together as they start receiving suspicious notes and experiencing events insinuating that someone knew what they had done. The four set out to follow the clues and find out more about who they hit to track down who is threatening them.

I Know What You Did Last Summer has quite the cast with the leading girls Jennifer Love-Hewitt and Sarah Michelle Gellar both having some TV success from Party of Five and Buffy the Vampire Slayer respectively. They fit their roles in contrasting characters, Julie and Helen. Julie is much more of the introvert shy girl who is burdened by the decision of the accident while Helen has much more of an attitude and is the pretty and sexy girl of the group. Of course, this pretty cast is rounded off by the male leads Ryan Phillippe and Freddie Prinze Jr. who represented the jock and the boy next door characters respectively. All fitting into their roles relatively well and having some 90s cheesy slasher film dialogue to pair, it actually gives quite the fun element to the movie.

With that said, this movie is not quite as good as Scream but then it has a different level of entertainment and slasher fun. Plus, the setting of a fishing village and a hook-wielding villain are two changes from the source material which does work fairly well. Adding in some supporting roles from Anne Heche and Johnny Galecki, its quite the film to see come together as the plot is quite fast-paced and keeps everything in motion, moving from one place to the next and getting in the kills. Its slightly predictable but executes the tension and jumpscare moments pretty well in some spots. It has something of a fun guilty pleasure sort of 90s slasher vibe that works really well.

Elwood’s Pick – The Plagues of Breslau (2018)

Sneaking onto Netflix amongst thier other exclusives and with little fanfare this polish Serial-killer on the surface might be going for that Seven vibe with a killer carrying out a series of inventive murders including such delights as one victim being sewn inside a bulls hide while another is torn apart by horses.

Enter hardnosed detective Helena Rus (Malgorzata Kozuchowska) who is still trying to get over her fiance being killed by a drunk driver who got off via diplomatic immunity and with her asymetrical hair cut and take no prisoners attitude will be delight to fans of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo Lisbeth Salander while teaming up with offbeat profiler Magda Drewniak (Daria Widawska).

Helped by a fast pace and inventive murders this might not come close to matching Finchers masterpiece and instead more on a par with the equally inventive tv thrillers like Messiah and Whitechapel but it’s a fun ride while it lasts and worth checking out.

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: Rabid (2019) & I Kill Giants (2017)

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

Kim’s Pick – I Kill Giants (2017)

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Adapted from the graphic novel of the same name by writer Joe Kelly and artist J.M. Ken Niimura, I Kill Giants also has its writer as the movie’s screenplay writer as well. I Kill Giants is a fantasy drama about a young girl called Barbara (Madison Wolfe) who lives in this world inspired by Dungeons and Dragons and baseball player Harry Covelski where she is defending her hometown from giants with her handmade weapons and traps. With this important task at hand, she keeps mostly to herself until one day, a new girl from Leeds, Sophia (Sydney Wade) comes to town who befriends her. As Barbara finally opens up about her world to Sophia, her fantasy world starts colliding with the reality as Barbara has to face the new school psychologist Mrs. Molle (Zoe Saldana), the school bully Taylor (Rory Jackson) as well as her older siblings who doesn’t understand her like her older sister, Karen (Imogen Poots), as they all try to get pull her back to face the reality that she’s running away from.

While I Kill Giants does drag a little here and there, the imaginative and creative story that it tells is one that is fairly poignant. Visually, its also really captivating. Right from the beginning shots when we see Barbara clad in her bunny ears head band running through the forest, avoiding a giant and pouring this jam-like liquid onto the trees. The cinematography is done incredibly well. At the same time, the fantasy creatures, both giants and the harbingers also are well-designed and fun to watch. The story itself is expected that it would take a more psychological turn as it creates a twist for the character of whether this fantasy world is real or only in Barbara’s mind.

I Kill Giants also packs in an interesting cast with Imogen Poots and Zoe Saldana both having key supporting roles to this younger actress. Not to mention that Madison Wolfe captures Barbara incredibly well. The story itself tackles a lot of issues from school bullying to unhappy circumstances, escaping from reality and eventually finding joy in the reality. There’s a lot to like about this adaptation whether its the message or its creativity.

Elwood’s Pick – Rabid (2019)

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The Soska Sisters Jen and Sylvia have consistently managed to create interesting films since making their memorable debut with Dead Hooker In A Trunk which they wrote, produced and starred in with only a budget of $2,500 and a copy of Robert Rodriguez;s Rebel Without A Crew to guide them. Now with Rabid they get to pay homage to another of their influences with their remake of David Cronenberg’s 1977 original.

Rather than giving us a straight remake here thankfully the Soska’s take the same approach as Alexandre Aja approach to remake by taking the spirit of the original and taking the story in their own direction as here Laura Vandervoort plays Rose a quiet woman working in the fashion industry under her fanatical designer boss who after crashing her scooter is left horribly disfigured until she is offered an experimental stem cell treatment which miraculously not only cures her disfigurement but also makes her beautiful and soon the envy of the same models who made fun of her. However her new beauty comes at a cost as she now craves blood and raw meat while extremely contagious to anyone who comes in contact with her saliva soon creating in her wake a horde of frenzied and zombie like infected. 

Featuring some gruesome practical effects which is always refreshing to see in these CGI heavy times time, the pair also mange to also work in several nods to Cronenberg’s filmography including the use of the satanic looking red scrubs seen in Dead Ringers it’s clear how much the pair are fans of the original and it’s director and even though they choose to take the film in their own direction even creating an ending which could lead to a sequel or just remain a tantalising tease of what could have been (see The Blob remake). Elsewhere for the wrestling fans amongst you we get to see cameos from former wrestlers and self confessed horror fans C.M Punk and A.J Lee, Punk here following on from his acting debut in Girl On The Third Floor.

While not their strongest film to date, an honor still held by the fantastic American Mary here they continue to prove themselves as fantastic horror directors in a time when genre directors much less good ones are in short supply. 

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.