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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elwood’s Pick – Art School Confidential (2006)

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

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

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

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

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


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

Let us know in the comments section below.

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

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

Kim’s Pick – The Willoughbys (2020)

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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: 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)

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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)

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

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

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

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

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

Let us know in the comments section below.

Friday Film Club: 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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elwood’s Pick – Death Proof (2007)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let us know in the comments section below.

Round Up

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

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

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

 

Friday Film Club: Running Scared & Grand Piano

DOUBLEFEATURE (17)

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 – Running Scared (2006)

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Written and directed by Wayne Kramer, 2006’s action crime drama Running Scared casted Paul Walker as the male lead during the six years in between his Fast and the Furious franchise break (between the second film in 2003 and the fourth film in 2009) where he did other movies like Into the Blue, Flags of Our Fathers and The Lazarus Project just to name a few. Running Scared crafts a tense and violent fast-paced 122 minute thriller following a low-ranking thug, Joey Gazelle (Paul Walker) who is tasked by the crime boss to get rid of a gun that killed some corrupt cops but when he decides to use it as an insurance policy and hides it away, his son Nicky (Alex Neuberger) and his best friend Oleg (Cameron Bright) finds it and in turn, things take a turn for the worse when his son’s best friend ends up using it against his abusive father. As Joey tries to trace both Oleg and the gun, it starts changing hands and getting further out of control.

Other than having Paul Walker doing a solid effort in playing Joey Gazelle and being the main focus of the action, Vera Farmiga plays Joey’s wife who plays a tough and protective lady. While the kids here, especially Cameron Bright also does a great job and pulled his own weight. Aside from acting though, Running Scared gets a lot of points for some other elements particularly in the violence and action element. It gives it a lot of style in the effects for the gunshots and firing sequences. There are some intense moments especially the most memorable being one on the ice hockey arena and what happens there. The movie also benefits in its pacing which reflects the story itself and keeps itself moving continuously, making sure to amp up the tension continuously as well, making it a thrill ride from moment things turn into a search.

 

 

Running Scared might have some issues and does hang on the being over-violent perhaps. But for those who don’t mind the language vulgarity or the violence and like a great crime thriller, its a solid choice to check out.

Elwood’s Pick – Grand Piano (2013)

Grand Piano

Since he finished his epic trek through Mordor in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy Elijah Wood arguably has gone on to produce some of the most interesting films of his career, no doubt thanks largely to the financial freedom that being in a blockbuster trilogy of films provides. What has been most surprising of this indie period of his career and no I’m not talking about when he tried to play a football hooligan in Green Street but rather the focus on making some fascinating horror movies which included a career best in Franck Khalfoun’s Maniac remake playing the serial killer whose eyes we see the film play out through in. However for myself one of his most underrated film is this thriller from Eugenio Mira

Here Wood stars as Tom a once promising concert pianist until he got stage fright while attempting to play “La Cinquette” which composed by his mentor Patrick Godureaux. Now five years later Tom is tempted to attempt a comeback as a tribute to the passing of Godureaux whose fortune has mysteriously disappeared. However upon finding the note on his sheet music “Play one wrong note and you DIE” what he initially dismisses as prank soon turns out to be a very real threat as he finds himself in the sights of a mysterious sniper in the concert hall. What follows is a gripping game of cat and mouse as John Cusack’s mysterious sniper continually taunts Tom through the earpiece he’s given him, only appearing for the final showdown while also utilising his henchman (Alex Winter) to remove any potential distractions which might stop Tom from completing the piece which the real mystery hinges on.

 

Reminiscent of Joel Schumacher’s Phone Booth here Mia holds the audience on tenderhooks as Tom deals with the mind games being played as Cusack manages to prove himself a truly intimidating presence especially played against the fragile spirit of Tom. Mia only adds to the drama as he draps the proceeding in the grandeur of the performance and sumptuous surrounding. At the same time Mia manages to find ever more creative ways to keep the action flowing despite the seemingly limited scope such a story would provide.

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.

Movies and Tea #16 – Pacific Rim

Having both critical acclaim and mainstream recognition with Pan’s Labyrinth Del Toro would suprisingly enter into a period of development hell as he struggled to find both funding and studio backing for his next project before finally returning with his love letter to monsters and Kaiju movies Pacific Rim

On this episode we are also joined in this episode by Stephen Palmer (Gweilo Ramblings / Asian Cinema Film Club) to see if there is more to the film than giant robots battling monsters aswell as the inspiration for Del Toro’s vision.

Further Viewing

Kong skull island
The Meg
Starship Troopers
Gamera Guardian of the Universe
Patlabor
Gundam Wing
Mothra vs godzilla
Destroy all Monsters
Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla
Godzilla Vs. King Ghidorah

Music on this episode

Keith Mansfield – Funky Fanfare
Ramin Djawadi – 2500 Tons of Awesome
Ramin Djawadi – Pacific Rim Main Theme

Listen to the Show

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