Abu is a recently reformed drug dealer who is trying to put his troubled life behind him. He has gotten two jobs, one as a claims adjuster for an insurance company, the other as a bouncer at a local bar that he works during the night. One day he receives devastating news in regards to his heath which compels him to finally make peace with his past transgressions and find his inner peace outside of the concrete walls of New York City, the only place he has ever known. Keith Miller's Welcome to Pine Hill is a detailed, character study of a man whose life simply hasn't gone as he planned. This is a pensive experience lead by Shannon Harper's gentle and subtle lead performance. The whole film feels very understated and simple but make no mistake, it's extremely poignant and resonant. Welcome to Pine Hill relishes the quiet moments of reflection where the viewer simply watches Abu's inner struggle towards spiritual peace. Keith Miller doesn't rely at all on cheap dramatic devices but instead allows the let the narrative breath, giving the whole film a very naturalistic quality which few films match. Perhaps the greatest achievement of the entire film is its ability to capture the total lack of control we all have over the world around us. Whether we have plans or not, life has a way of being far bigger than any individuals aspirations and Welcome to Pine Hill seems to suggest that we must all find our own peace among the chaos.
With 'You, The Living', Roy Andersson has created a film that is bleak, morose and painfully blunt in it's depiction of the pain and anguish which comes with life, and it's hysterical. The film is essentially a bunch of very loosely connected vignettes where the individuals wallow in the everyday drudgery of life. It's deadpan comedic gold as Andersson argues
that one must find the comedic absurdity as it relates to life instead of
wallowing in the tragedy. There are just so many great absurdist moments throughout, my favorite being the bit involving a man sentenced to death for
accidentally destroying a woman's antique dining set. With all these nice comedic moments spread throughout a film that is soaked in dreary atmosphere, You, The Living seems to be suggesting that one must always find the joy and hilarity in even the most dire of situations. While the aesthetic is similar to Songs From The Secon Floor, this is a very different film in terms of tone, proving that Andersson is a filmmaker certainly worth following.
United States Air Force pilot Major William Allison has been selected to test a new rocket powered craft believed to be able to reach supersonic speeds. On his test run, Major Allison accidentally travels through a wormhole transporting him 64 years into the future. The airbase he took off from is now completely deserted with the world as he knows it going through massive changes. He ends up crossing the path of a ruling class of people, led by the Supreme, who are suspicious of Major Allison, suspecting he is a spy. Alone and confused, the Major finds himself stuck between this ruling class who live in the "Citadel' and a tribe of mutants, people who have been severely mutated by the plague caused by extraterrestrial radiation. As Major Allison begins to put the pieces together he realizes the only way to save humanity is to return to his own time, which ultimately comes at a price. Edgar Ulmer's Beyond the Time Barrier is a low-budget b-movie with unique and interesting ideas centered around the time-travel concept. Ulmer is known for his ultra-low budget feature work and Time Barrier is another good example of his ability to create a cinematic experience out of scraps. Using a good amount of stock footage and creative production design, the film manages to transport the viewer into this world. An abundance of geometric shapes are used, with some well timed compositions that let Ulmer create this futuristic world which feels completely different than present time. Sure, Beyond the Time Barrier has a lot of cheese, but what film from the time doesn't? Time Barrier does touch on some interesting ideas, like the decay of civilized humanity, capturing the factions that form when faced with terrible adversity, painting a rather truthful portrait of the fragility of our organized and free society. The love story that evolves between the Major and the Supreme's daughter feels forced and unnecessary, though I did like that the film doesn't paint these people of the Citadel as monsters, just men and woman trying to survive. Edgar Ulmer's Beyond the Time Barrier isn't a profound piece of sci-fi nor a dated piece of cheese, but another solid example of a filmmaker creating a lot with very little.
Toys Are Not For
Children's psychological analysis of a young woman who mentally never grown up isn't exactly a highly intellectual examination, rather opting for the blunt,
one-dimensional justification which works more than it doesn't. The film paints the picture of a young woman whose penchant for toys, naive mindset, and warped sexual psychology stem from having an incredibly overbearing mother who essentially refused the young girl all contact with her father. What's kinda impressive about this film, in a demented way, is how even though it has barely any nudity or violence at all, it's an incredibly filthy, sleazy film that really get's under your skin. The most interesting aspects of the film, without question, are the flashback sequences which our young impressionable woman has from time-to-time. These scenes do a good job of getting us into this girls psyche, with some of the flashbacks giving us insights into how she relates her current
situations with those from her past. From the opening sequence, where the young girl plays with herself while saying "daddy, daddy", you kinda know what type of film this is and whether you want to bother experiencing it. It's not great by
any means, consisting of a rather 1-dimensional justification for our characters warped sexual psychology, but it has some memorable sequences and moments throughout, unashamed to go all out in its beliefs.
Taking place in 1648 England, Ben Wheatley's A Field In England follows a small group of deserters whom are fleeing from battle. Coming from varied backgrounds the men couldn't be more different, especially Whitehead,a Royalist and former assistant to a late alchemist, but they are united by their fear of death in battle. As they venture through the overgrown field they meet O'Neil, a former employee of the same alchemist. O'Neil is armed, forcing the group of men to search for a hidden treasure he believes is buried somewhere in the field. A Field in England is a stylish, somewhat psychedelic, tale of man's inherent primal desire to survive by almost any means necessary. O'Neil is a character who represents evil and greed, while Whitehead, his counter-part, is a civilized, intellectual, religious man. While Wheatley's intent isn't completely coherent, there is no denying that these two men represent good and evil, with Wheatley using a psychedelic sequence towards the end of the film that juxtaposes these men's images on top of each other almost to suggest that they are two forces present in every man. While classified as a horror film, A Field in England is darkly comedic, managing to break up the tension a little bit at times and let the viewer breath. Though I haven't been as impressed with Wheatley's previous efforts as many, there is no denying his ability to create atmosphere and with The Field in England he pulls out all the stops. Wheatley films these lush overgrown fields in such a way that he creates a rich tension and atmosphere that carries throughout the film. The field itself almost feels like its own character, silently stalking this group of men. Ben Wheatley's A Field In England is definitely not a film for everyone as some will find it pretentious and incoherent. While I think these claims have slight merit, A Field in England is not a film about plot but themes and it's unsettling, beautifully shot, and a truly unique experience which makes it worth a look.
Lockout is a decent b-movie throwback which is really carried as much as possible by Guy Pierce doing his best Snake Plissken
impression. Pierce plays Snow, a convicted government agent, who is offered a chance of freedom in exchange for rescuing the president's daughter who is being
held hostage on the worlds deadliest prison. The plot structure is flimsy and there are some pretty awful special effects in parts, but it's still pretty fun just because of the wise cracks and general demeanor Pierce brings to the character of Snow. The way the criminals take over the prison is far too easy to feel realistic and the witty
lines are good at times, but I was really hoping that this film would have better overall then it was. The film seems to just stick to the very basic formula, never bringing anything new to this sub-genre.. I think not being R hurt this type of film as well but it's still worth a look for fans of this type of entertainment, though I wouldnt run out telling people they have to see this by any means.
Daryll Deever is an introverted man whose grown obsessed with TV reporter, Tony Sokolov. Every night he tapes her commentary on television to return home and indulge in his daily binge. Recently returning from the Vietnam War, Daryll works as a night janitor at Wong Enterprises, a highly influential international company ran by Wong, a Vietnamese man who seems to have a lot of shady connections. When Wong is robbed and murdered in the office building, Tony shows up to cover the story, giving Daryll the perfect opportunity to introduce himself. Tony believes Daryll may know something about the murder with Daryll leading her on to keep her interested. As this odd budding romance becomes further entangled, the two continue to investigate the murder, in turn putting their lives in jeopardy by the true people responsible for Wong's death. Peter Yates' Eyewitness is an odd mystery thriller that feels far more interested in capturing the inner workings of its characters than the actual mystery narrative. While I'm sure this sounds like a negative to a lot of people, it works well for the film, with nearly every character being developed so well that the viewer finds themselves invested in the mystery. The cast of Eyewitness is impressive, featuring William Hurt, Sigourney Weaver, Christopher Plummer (in a small role), James Woods, and Morgan Freeman. Woods really steals the show as the loose cannon friend of Darryll who finds himself wrongfully incriminated for Wong's Murder, though for most of the film the viewer suspects he may be responsible. Eyewitness has some interesting ideas centered around economic and social classes but they are never established and explored to the fullest. Overall, Eyewitness is not a great script or incredibly engrossing story but the character development through nuance that Peter Yates is able to create really elevates the film.
Max Lewinsky is a disillusioned man whose been in the system far too long. His will to actually create change and fight for his convictions has been completely depleted by countless years as a police officer in a corrupt system. That all changes when Ruan Sternwood is shot and killed at the local airport. Ruan is the son of former career criminal, Jacob, a man who Max has never been able to bring down. Out to find and presumably kill the men responsible for his son's death, Jacob leaves his Icelandic hideaway and returns to London. This of course gives Max one last chance to catch the man he has always been after, but as the face off begins, they uncover a far deeper conspiracy which forces them to work together. Eran Creevy's Welcome to the Punch is a derivative action movie that does enough from a visual standpoint to make it entertaining. The film seems to think it is far more intelligent and complex than it actually is, only scratching the surface when it comes to character development and themes. For example, Max Lewinsky's character is very intriguing but the film never does an adequate job at fully developing his inner demons. This lack of proper development across the board is disappointing especially when you factor in the extremely talented cast of James McAvoy, Mark Strong, Andrea Riseboro, and Peter Mullan, among others. While the characters are thin and the narrative is generic, the direction is probably the strongest aspect of the film. Eran Creevy creates a cinematic experience consisting of some inventive compositions and camerawork which is the one aspect of Welcome to the Punch that feels unique. Welcome to the Punch is certainly a generic film of the genre but it isn't a bad film, just an unnecessary one.
While 1931's Frankenstein left no loose ends with the death of the doctor and his monster, Universal was intent on making a sequel to the very successful film (some things never change). James Whale's The Bride of Frankenstein begins during a thunderstorm where Mary Shelley and Lord Byron discuss the story of Frankenstein, with Mary revealing to Byron that the monster and doctor survived the fire. It's a rather ham-fisted introduction sequence, which I suspect is intentional, with it setting up this film's narrative thread. The Bride of Frankenstein centers around Dr. Frankenstein, a man whose begun to see the error of his ways. He wants to stop with these experiments of nature but is forced to help mad scientist, Dr. Preterious, create a new female creature after his wife is kidnapped. Meanwhile, the monster finds himself venturing through the countryside, hunted by the villagers of the town. While 1931's Frankenstein certainly showed the monster as a sympathetic character, The Bride of Frankenstein has a lot more time to explore this character. On the surface Karloff doesn't have much to work with but through some subtle acting, he brilliantly brings emotion to the role that is surprisingly resonant. The most touching sequence of the film takes place when the monster comes across a blind man who seemingly lives alone in a secluded cottage. This man represents a character with no bias or preconceived ideals, unlike all the villagers, and their interaction is quite powerful. The Bride of Frankenstein is impressively filmed, with great use of expressionistic lighting, tracking shots, and well-timed dissolves that create an atmosphere that would be emulated for years to come. While a "horror film", The Bride of Frankenstein consists of social satire, self-parody, wit, and horror and Whale has such a nice grasp at how to balance all of these elements basically elevating the suspense as the film hurdles towards its tragic conclusion.
While it is hard to deny that Eye of The Devil's narrative is uneven and muddled to a degree that it's hard to
comprehend, this film is such a visual tour-de-force of horror and madness that it makes the shortcomings of the narrative almost superfluous. The fact that the majority of this film is entirely in the point-of-view of Catherine, a wife who discovers that her husband has dark secrets lurking in his past, supports the notion of the narrative being intentionally confusing and slightly jarring. While many people seem to universally praise the acting as the best thing about this film, I would definitely point to the cinematography, editing and overall design which is just a ton of fun. Eye of the Devil pulls out all the stops, from the juxtaposition of images, kinetic editing, slanted angles, etc to create this creepy tale of a Cult, also supporting Catherine's descent into potential madness. It's a film that understands that film is a visual medium, creating a truly intoxicating experience. Now, this isn't to say that acting isnt strong, with a cast featuring Deborah Kerr, David Niven, Donald Pleasence, David Hemmings, and Sharon Tate, all providing memorable, and often creepy performances. Odele (Sharon Tate) and Christian (David Hemmings) are particularly great, with many memorable scenes as these extremely creepy, demented yet calm characters who are sorta "the muscle" of the cult. I understand the criticisms I have seen about this film, but even still, I found this film to be a great, atmospheric experience and is without question the best film I have seen revolving around Religious Cults.
Love of all things cinema brought me here.