Tag Archives: Thriller

Friday Film Club – Anna and the Apocalypse + Rollercoaster

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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.

Elwood’s Pick – Rollercoaster (1977)

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A film probably best known for its rather spectacular opening roller coaster crash than the film the footage was actually taken from this would be one of the few feature films that James Goldstone directed spending most of his career directing TV Pilots for Ironside and the original Star Trek were his work was not only noted for its momentum but also the “fifteen-minute cliffhangers” he brought to them. This is a film equally noteworthy for being one of the four films which Universal presented in “Sensurround” were selected theatres were low-frequency bass speakers were used to create vibrations at key moments, which ultimately proved to be so successful that it cracked the plaster of some of the theatres which choose to use it.

Despite the impressive opening crash this is surprisingly a much more subtle film than you might expect as Goldstone instead here chooses to craft a tense thriller with the rest of the film plays off the tension of not knowing were the bomber has hidden his next device let alone the mind games between Timothy Bottoms unnamed bomber and George Segal’s Safety inspector Harry. Bottoms however was criticised for being too boring as a villain in reviews for the film when it was originally released but here he gives a performance reminisant of Kevin Spacey’s John Doe in Seven which here really works for the film, especially when he is spending the majority of the film taunting Harry over the phone or a walkie talkie, all the time knowing that he holds the power in this situation with Harry left to play the unwilling puppet in the proceedings.

Segal meanwhile is an engaging leading man as the frustrated safety inspector he works in humorous subtle digs at his incompitant bosses while also having to work with the local police chief and Richard Widmark’s tough FBI agent. While it might seem that his talents are perhaps alittle wasted here seeing how he spends most of the film talking to the Bomber over the walkie talkie while moving through a variety of amusement rides which for theme park fans provides its own enjoyment with the film being shot on location at Ocean View Park, Kings Dominion and Six Flags.

The Cinematography throughout is extremely impressive especially with the rollercoaster footage were large portions are shot from the front of the carriage creating that simulator feel of being on the ride which is a nice touch especially when Goldstone isn’t planning on giving the audience any more crashes. The fact that they are shot from so many angles including some impressive profile shots is really add to the excitement, especially during the finale were the cat and mouse games are played out on the opening of the six flags Revolution the world’s first coaster to use a clothoid-shaped vertical loop and more fun against the backdrop of a Sparks concert a gig which had rumoured to had been offered to both the Bay City Rollers and KISS the later turning it down in favour of doing KISS Meet The Phantom of the Park. Sparks would later recall doing the film as one of the worst things they have ever done which I had to wonder if this was before or after they did their 2006’s album Hello Young Lovers. Despite what they feel about it, the high energy performance here really play well against the tension of this final game between the bomber and police.

While it might initially be a little disappointing to see what seems to be setup as another disaster movie dissolve into a thriller it ultimately proves to be the right move here, especially with Segal’s performance certainly able to carry the film so that such shocks are never required even though the film had originally been planned to be a lot more gruesome with both the opening crash and how the bomber ultimately meets his demise, a plaque for which can still be found on the rollercoaster at Six Flags. While perhaps not a film that rewards repeat viewing it’s one still worth checking out especially for the opening crash as you wonder just how they pulled it off.

Kim’s Pick – Anna and the Apocalypse (2017)

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Mixing genres is a lot of fun and nothing quite sells like the idea of mashing zombies, musical and a Christmas setting together and its one of the reasons that 2017’s Scottish film Anna and the Apocalypse first landed on anyone’s radar during its festival circuit. While the idea sounds a bit odd, just like Shaun of the Dead worked out, Anna and the Apocalypse is very much a teen horror comedy musical. Its not very scary but does offer a lot of alternate Christmas and zombies elements.

Starring a fairly unknown young cast, Anna and the Apocalypse works because it does what it needs well. The first is the musical numbers. The music itself is a lot of fun, probably more for people who like musicals but there’s a lot of entertaining moments in the songs and the background. There are some downright ridiculous moments and yet because it’s a musical, it does work. Second, the friendship element and character bonding here also delivers. The characters really are known more through how they react and are and gives space for them to grow. Third, the pacing and execution is pretty fast-paced because of its compact run time that gives time for things to just keep happening and not spend a lot of time on the dramatic things like dwelling on past issues.

Overall, Anna and the Apocalypse is a movie suitable for Halloween and Christmas and is surprising entertaining with some very addictive songs and fun numbers. The characters are few but all are quite endearing especially with their different personalities. Its rare that the “bad boy” Nick, played by Ben Wiggins is not repulsive but while he starts that way, he also has quite a nice presence here along with main lead Anna, played by Ella Hunt (who suitably is now part of the Apple TV show Dickinson) as well as the fairly awkward presence of their friend, Steph, played by Sarah Swire, who is really witty and a great character in the film as a whole. Catchy tunes, fun characters and zombie apocalypse breakout during Christmas is a really great mashup that’s well worth a watch.

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

Let us know in the comments section below.

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Friday Film Club – Antisocial + Perfect Blue

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

Kim’s Pick – Antisocial (2013)

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

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

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

Elwood’s Pick – Perfect Blue (1997)

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Let us know in the comments section below.

Friday Film Club – Balto + Kitten With A Whip

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

Kim’s Pick – Balto (1995)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let us know in the comments section below.

Friday Film Club: 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

 

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

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

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

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

 

Music on this episode

Keith Mansfield – Funky Fanfare

Listen to the Show

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Friday Film Club: The Outlaws + The Big Blue

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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 –  The Outlaws (2017)

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After the success of Train to Busan, rising quickly to a lot of people’s radar is actor Dong-seok Ma, a man who has a lot of credits to his name in South Korean cinema but finally getting the main actor roles, especially with two of his films making a showing at last year’s Fantasia Festival. One of them being The Outlaws, an action crime thriller based on real events that went down revolving turf wars between Korean-Chinese gangs. Set in the Chinatown of South Korea, the Venom Gang and Isu  Gang each have their own territories while constantly trying to step over the boundaries. However, Detective Ma keeps them in check with this rough and tough cop attitude. All this changes when a trio of Chinese-Korean debt collectors land mysteriously calling themselves the Black Dragon gang lead by Jang Chen, stepping between the both established gangs without any limits at all.

The debut directorial effort of Yoon-seong Kang is action-packed with brutal violence and tension. While the script is fairly simple, it’s the characters and the ruthless action scenes that truly make it stand out. The gritty South Korean underworld is one that stands out as well. While Dong-seok Ma as the cop stands out as always especially with this towering build and his command of each situation and well-timed comedic one liners, the lethal gang is Jang Chen, playing impressively well by Kye-sang Yoon who can only be described best as psychotic. The friction between the two and the character of Jang Chen makes some of the scenes unpredictable and you can almost cut the tension with a knife as the movie escalates.

South Korea seems to be not only a growing force in horror films but as Dong-seok Ma enters the scene and femme fatale movies like The Villainess also have their round of popularity, it feels like South Korean action thrillers are definitely also a force to be reckoned with. The Outlaws is a great place to start.

 

Elwood’s Pick – The Big Blue (1988)

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Based on the friendship and rivalry of free divers Jacques Mayol (Jean-Marc Barr) and Enzo Maiorca (Jean Reno) this heavily fictionalized and dramatized version of their story marks director Luc Besson’s first English language feature while still working in the Cinema du look style films which valued their visuals over the narrative and certainly this especially the case when it comes to this film in which Besson’s underwater visuals help push across the overwhelming obsession with the depths of the ocean which drive both men.

Introducing Jacques and Enzo as children were their competitive nature is apparent from the start, the film jumps forwards to find them as adults both renown free divers with Enzo the current world champion while making a side living using his ability to stay underwater for long periods to save divers trapped in industrial accidents. Jacques meanwhile is participating as a human guinea pig with a group of scientist researching human physiology in the iced over lakes of the Andes. However knowing that Jacques is the only one who can really challenge his title Enzo attempts to tempt him back into active competition.

While Barr might not perhaps not the most engaging of leads the support from Reno really helps carry the film, especially when he brings a lot of the comedic moments of the film with his sidekick Novelli. At the same time Rossana Arquette is enjoyable even if she is largely reduced to the love interest as Besson focuses mainly on the rivalry and Jacques strange obsession with dolphins.

Beautifully shot with Besson’s trademark visual flair which include such highlights as Jacques and Enzo drinking wine at the bottom of a swimming pool, while the free diving sequences are as exhilarating to watch as they are claustrophobic as the pair constantly push themselves to go to greater and greater depths while your left wondering not only the limits of these divers

Butchered for it’s American release which also saw the film receiving a more upbeat ending than the ambigious ending of the original and this reason I would always recommend hunting down the extended edition

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.