Odeon Scream Unseen – Green Room

Odeon Scream Unseen – Green Room

Odeon launched Scream Unseen last night, Screen Unseen’s dirty cousin it seems as we have been promised that the films will be horrors, thrillers or just gore fests and the first offering was Green Room. I had read quite a bit of positive buzz about this film all over the internet from various sources who saw it at various film festivals. Throw into the mix that Jeremy Saulnier directed this, who debuted with the superb Blue Ruin (well worth checking out if you haven’t seen it) also the fact it’s not out here in the UK till 13th May and its safe to say I was pretty excited for this film.

This film is dirty, grimy, nasty and pure horrible and I mean that in the best way possible. Such a throwback to grimy grindhouse cinema, this film is a high stakes pressure cooker. One thing I loved about this film was the slow build up. I went to see it with my girlfriend and afterwards she said it took a while to get going but that’s what I loved most about it, I cared for all the members of this punk band who are trapped by these white supremacists neo-nazis. That is pretty much the plot of the film, which fits perfectly with the late night midnight screening cult crowd. I could easily see this film being shown as a double bill with Blue Ruin. Jeremy Saulnier proves here that he is one of the best low budget-genre indie filmmakers around as he superbly shifts genres from revenge noir into siege mechanics reminiscent of Assault on Precinct 13.

The film opens with us meeting the band The Ain’t Rights and the impressive thing about the opening 30 minutes of this film is that in that short time we learn who the characters are and not just names but motivations and who they are as people, see them play a cover of Dead Kennedy’s Nazi Punks Fuck Off which doesn’t go down too well and also stumble upon a corpse backstage which leaves them holed up in the Green Room. The manager of the club Gabe played by Macon Blair star of Saulnier’s Blue Ruin, who after learning of what has happened calls in Darcy (Patrick Stewart) who I have never seen play evil in a film and you can see he relishes this opportunity. He nails his performance as the wickedly intelligent leader with a real cruel mean streak about him.

Like many great film’s of the 70’s this film has intelligent witty fast paced dialogue mixed with truly shocking gory moments, some of the violence here is extremely brutal. It is tense viewing as both sides try to work out ways in which to outsmart one another and the writing here allows us to be invested in both sides whilst the shock horror/violent moments hit us in short but extremely memorable bursts. Some may complain that this film isn’t a socially aware film which is delving into the mix of the American neo-nazi scene but when a film knows its a genre film which is here to make us laugh, wince and be shock value who really cares?

Overall I would say this a truly riotous film with fantastic performances and a real true grit underneath its darkly comic tone.

7/10

 

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Netpicks – Trash

Netpicks – Trash

 

First off I have to apologize for not posting one of these recently, the simple reason is that I have been working a hell of a lot so finding the time has been difficult but don’t worry I’m not going anywhere!

So Trash then just by its name you might think this could be literally a Trash film but let me assure you it is far from rubbish and is a true hidden gem. I first heard about this film on Film 2014 on the BBC and they gave it a good review and I thought to myself “yeah I will check that out one day” and like many films it totally went under my radar due to a limited theatrical release and not much press coverage. So when I saw it pop up on my Netflix it triggered my brain and I thought I would give it a watch.

The film is about three Brazilian boys who find a wallet which contains a key piece of evidence which the corrupted officials are after to stop there corruption of the city becoming public knowledge. I found this film remarkable for a number of reasons the first being the performances of the three young lads. I genuinely think they need to start doing some sort of awards ceremony for young actors because seriously they are starting to outshine older actors in films. Look at Room or Beasts of No Nation for example the young actors performances in them films knocked my socks off and its the same here. The three lads were found by the films director Stephen Daldry living in Brazil picking litter (as they do in the film) and that rawness and emotional connection cannot be faked and there are scenes in this film which pack a true powerful punch as you believe the emotion behind them far more than if trained actors were cast. The film also has stellar Hollywood polish with the ever reliable Martin Sheen and Rooney Mara pop up in key supporting roles which just elevate the performances of the three boys.

The film is action packed and more importantly unpredictable as the chase is on the action tells the story and it rarely lets up but the films screenplay allows for brilliant character moments as well. I will admit that there is a whiff of City of God about this film (well worth checking out if you haven’t, also on Netflix) but every film which is set in Brazil gets compared to that film and some reviews I have read of this film stink of unfair criticism. The film has a vibrancy to it and real kinetic energy to it which kept me glued to the screen as I not only wanted the boys to solve the mystery within the film but I actually cared about the characters. The film is real, raw and powerful but never sentimental or candy coated which is a rare thing to see as to many films try to push our emotional buttons with the subtly of a sledgehammer.

Overall this is perfect entertainment for those nights where you wanna stay in and watch a film. Also a great film to watch with family or a girlfriend as it has something for everyone. A real peach of a film.

8/10

 

Odeon Screen Unseen – Demolition Review

Odeon Screen Unseen – Demolition Review

Monday was Screen Unseen time again. Anyone who reads our reviews often know that Sam and I do not miss a Screen Unseen. Sam has changed shifts, I’ve cancelled plans, just generally there is no missing it. Apart from this time, I was not hyped at all. Again if you read this blog often then you’ll know the past two films have disappointed me. I didn’t read the clues that Odeon tweet. I didn’t even change my disgusting jeans that I’d just brewed a batch of lager in. So stumbling in completely unknowing and reeking of booze, I still decided to go. Then the title card popped up and we discovered that this week we would be watching Demolition. I was pleased, because I really wanted to see this film anyway. It’s directed by Jean-Marc Vallée who created Oscar winning Dallas Buyers Club and Oscar nominated Wild, both of which are fantastic films. The latter made me once again baffled as to why people hate Reese Witherspoon. Then it stars Jake Gyllenhaal, who is really making waves to become one of my favourite actors, acting alongside Naomi Watts who is fantastic in everything she’s done, including the crap films. The film is about a man who loses his wife and the subsequent chain of events that this event leads to. Sounds depressing right?

demolition

Well you’d be right and you’d be wrong. I guess if you look at the film in context, it generally is quite depressing, but throughout you find yourself laughing more than fighting back the tears. The film addresses with a very complex issue in fact. What kind of man are you, that when your wife dies you feel nothing? Does this mean you never loved her? Have you just become numb? These are the questions that Davis (Gyllenhaal) is having to put together in his head. It would be easy to depict a grieving husband who feels he can’t go on without the love of his life. Wallow in self pity, meet a woman, become friends, realise you want more, feel guilty, have hallucination of dead wife wanting you to move on, happy ending. I just wrote the entire premise in the space of thirty seconds. In dealing with these complex issues we are introduced to a much more interesting character. I guess that is the best thing about this film, the characterisation. Karen (Watts) is a pot smoking single mum, who is dating her boss that she doesn’t love. Watching her deal with her child, who it’s safe to say is a troubled kid as well as being with someone she doesn’t love, because he’s a good man who looks after her. Davis and Karen develop a strong bond over the fact that Davis is saying and acting how she wants to act, because she is still shackled by the relationship that he no longer has. At the same time Davis develops a relationship with her fifteen year old son Chris played by Judah Lewis. Chris also becomes inspired by Davis’ ability to just do and say what he means without fear of consequence.

These complex characters interacting leads to some very charming moments, some really funny moments and basically makes these insane emotions, that would fry the average human, much more palatable. The film itself is quite quirky. It begins by using the very interesting narrative device of Davis writing to a vending machine company about some peanut M&M’s that failed to vend. This takes on an almost narrator role, but at the same time has a massive impact on the world within the film. After that there isn’t really a story at all, rather just a sequence of events. The story itself is contained within the emotions of the characters. Also this film is called demolition for a reason. There is a running motif of destruction throughout that leads to some scenes that are both very disturbing yet very entertaining. I read a review of Batman V Superman (I’ll shut up about it eventually, probably when I’ve seen Civil War) that was complaining that the film had no moral at the end and he likes a film with a moral. At the time I scoffed and thought this is the real world, not an Aesop fable. However throughout this film I was waiting for some kind of emotional pay off. Something that makes the character learn something about themselves. I felt like the film makers tried really hard to give us that with a sentimental ending, but instead it felt forced. It felt completely out of character for the man we met both before and after his wife’s death to the point were it didn’t feel real at all. There was no hint of progression in to this, it just seemed to happen.

Overall this was a very good film once again from a very talented director. Performances and characterisation make it what it is, with some very interesting story telling techniques and I’ve not mentioned it yet, but a quality soundtrack in my opinion. Although I felt disappointed with the conclusion of the film, I can honestly say I loved every minute of it and urge you all to not let this film get buried. Some genius decided it’d be a good idea to release it on the same day as Civil War so it’d be easy to ignore it, but seriously go and see it, I’m confident you’ll enjoy it as much as I did. After all this is real life not an Aesop fable, I’m sure you can get over the ending.

 

7/10

10 Cloverfield Lane Review

10 Cloverfield Lane Review

Well this is a very late review, with this film being out a long time, but sometimes life gets in the way, sorry about that! I want to start off with talking about Cloverfield, of which this is a kind of sort of sequel. I really was not a fan. I can’t get gripped by these disaster movies and more so I am also sick of the whole found footage thing. It was a nice idea when Blair Witch Project did it and added an element of realness to the whole thing. Since then it’s become a gimmick used in films like Cloverfield and Chronicle. So when 10 Cloverfield sneaked up on us all, I was not in the slightest interested in going to see this movie. Until I realised it wasn’t found footage and wasn’t a big budget disaster movie. That made me think yeah, I might see it. Then of course John Goodman sealed the deal and got my arse on the seat. Thank goodness, since I enjoyed every second of this film.The premise of the film is a Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) has split up with her fiancé Ben and is doing a runner. On her drive to god knows where she is hit by a truck and knocked unconscious. When she wakes up she finds she has a busted knee, lay in what looks like a spooky dungeon type thing, attached to a drip and cuffed to a pipe. She is then greeted by Howard (John Goodman), a conspiracy theorist, who tells her he’s saved her life by bringing her to his bunker. He claims that the air outside is contaminated and if she leaves she will die. This is corroborated by Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.) who is in the bunker with them. What follows is Michelle coming to terms with the end of the world as well as her suspicions surrounding her saviour.

10 cloverfield lane 2

Horror movies for me where a massively dying industry. Once we got the Exorcist, everything was trying to do the same thing. The Ring, The Grudge, The Orphan, whilst I admit can be entertaining watches, on a whole are very unoriginal and badly made films. In 2014 however I think we finally saw a shift. It Follows and Babadook where released to massive critical acclaim and rightly so. 10 Cloverfield Lane has followed in the same vain. This film is as much psychologically terrifying as it is physically. You as an audience member don’t know who to trust from one minute to the next. I found myself terrified from about twenty minutes in until the credits. You genuinely care for Michelle and Winstead does a fantastic job of putting you in her head. Only The Shining has every made me feel so uneasy before, but in a good way. John Goodman portrays his character fantastically. You go from hating him, to feeling sorry for him, to being creeped out by him, to liking him to… you get the idea. You know Goodman is going to be a physically empowering and intimidating figure on screen. In this film however he has shown he has a complete arsenal in his acting war chest. He truly sends shivers down your spine when he interacts with Winstead. John Gallagher does a great job of humanising this film as Emmett. Since you feel like you are placed in Michelle’s position and you can’t possibly relate to Howard, he becomes the character that makes it feel real. The comic relief when needed and the heart from time to time. Overall just a fantastic performance from all three of them.

This is also one of the tightest films I’ve seen since Whiplash. Timing is something I often mention in my reviews. Straight Outta Compton went from slow to rushed, Batman Vs Superman needed chopping up to take out twenty minutes. This film is edited to perfection in my opinion. I couldn’t find a single scene that needed removing and they paced the story perfectly to the point that when the film ended you had the odd feeling of being fully satisfied yet craving more. In a world of sequels and prequels and franchises this has to be the thing that will ultimately make people stand up and pay attention to the talent surrounding the film. Screenplay wise it was a really well told, interesting story. However it did fall in to the trap that all horrors have fallen in to for me. The dialogue cant be very tedious and over descriptive. I get the necessity since usually horrors contain a circumstance we can’t comprehend without explanation. However this film uses the aesthetic  aspects of storytelling so well they should have trusted the audience to understand what was going on more.

This has been one of the most difficult films to properly review without giving away any spoilers other than basic premise and again in looking at the end it gets more difficult so all I will say is this film ends very strongly, giving you both a great emotional pay off and putting you on the edge of your seat. I love being surprised by the quality of a film and this film truly shocked me about how good it is. I guess even out of the depths of crap that Cloverfield dragged us in to, there is always a good story to be told.

 

8.5/10

 

Zootropolis Review

Zootropolis Review

The film follows the adventures of young bunny cop Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) who after becoming a police officer, meets sly fox Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) and uncovers a conspiracy that is turning the animals into ‘savages’

I loved every minute of this film, it has verve, energy and an important message to boot whilst being super entertainment all at the same time. In recent years Walt Disney Animation Studios other half Pixar was the staple in terms of quality animation. However in recent years and with this film in particular they are finally stepping out of Pixar’s shadow. With recent hits Tangled, Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen and Big Hero 6 they are now stepping up from in terms of quality animation after a slump in the early to late 2000’s.

This film is visually stunning as is pretty much the standard when Disney makes an animation film but what makes this one a true work of art is the aesthetic of this world. Every building, every street, every character makes this world come to life. The design of the train station in Zootropolis for example shows how each animal lives in this world from little tiny hamster doors, through to high rised ceilings for giraffes. These little details make us believe in the world we are watching and the scene in which Judy Hopps boards the train to Zootropolis literally filled me with wonder and a film hasn’t done that since Star Wars back in December.

The story has great energy to it and snaps along at a brisk pace with no sag whatsoever as we follow Judy Hopps rise through the academy and her encounter with Nick Wilde. The plot about the animals turning into savages was actually really engaging with plenty of twists and turns to keep adults happy and younger audiences will be thrilled with the action sequences. The voice acting here is extremely good and with Jason Batemen (seriously underrated) stealing the show as Nick. The adult references in this are so well handled without being slammed home with a sledgehammer, one involving Breaking Bad won’t be spoiled here but its say to say I thought it was genius.

I laughed at this film more than I have at most comedies I have seen in recent years. One particular gag involving sloths at the DMV left me literally pissing my sides and I missed most of the dialogue in that scene because I was laughing so much. Also this film Disney isn’t afraid to poke fun at themselves with some gags about films of there own. That was the thin I loved the most about this film, the blending of the old and the new. This is classic Disney animation with animals being talking characters but its wrapped up in a modern bubble with its message about hate and prejudice. The plot involving the 90% prey and 10% predator is a timely and bold move by Disney as it reflects today’s society so well in terms of immigration and the film openly challenges its younger audience to think about these deep issues and its all the better for it. The character of Judy Hopps is also the first Disney female character I have seen who literally has no male help at all and represents a huge step forward in terms of female representation for Disney.

With its massive box office ($800 million dollars) and 99% rotten tomatoes rating this film has really come out of nowhere and been a massive success. Every so often a film comes from under your own radar and entertains the hell out of you and this is certainly my biggest surprise of the year so far

9/10

Eddie The Eagle Review

Eddie The Eagle Review

Everybody loves an underdog, especially the British. Where we tear down our greatest in the papers as soon as we can, we elevate the downtrodden, the small and the losers. There is something endearing about someone we can relate to. When you see Ronaldo you’d have to have massive delusions of grandeur to see yourself in him. Michael Edwards however, the working class boy from Cheltenham with his beer goggle glasses and lack of social skills. Now that is someone we can get behind. He looked just like that bloke from the pub you know. Underdog stories always capture peoples attention in real life, and thus movies have often followed suit. They follow an odd phenomenon, in that the underdog doesn’t even have to win at the end. Rocky Balboa lost on points. The Jamaican bobsleigh team crash before the end of the race in Cool Runnings. Yet still the people in the films and the audience are behind them and happy for them come the end of the film. Eddie The Eagle is a very fictional take on the real life underdog story of Michael Edwards (Taron Egerton) and his rise to fame through failure. Obsessed with becoming an athlete from an early age, Michael, nicknamed Eddie, starts downhill skiing and becomes one of the best in the country. However due to his background and personality he is turned down for the Olympics and sent on his way. Not to be defeated he flies to Germany, despite the protests of his father, to become a ski jumper.There he meets alcoholic, disgraced ex ski jumper Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman).

Nineteen minutes. I found myself not laughing at all so when I did I checked my phone. It took nineteen minutes for me to finally laugh. For a comedy this is not a good start, it should introduce the story extremely quickly then get on with the laughs, especially seeing as most comedy films end with twenty to thirty minutes of sentiment. That leaves the director with just one hour left to tell the story and make you laugh. With all that in mind my first laugh seriously worried me. Luckily I was wrong. The beginning was terribly edited, giving the start a really slow pace, the next hour was excellently crafted. It moved on from each part of the story at the right time, meaning you was still interested in what had just happened, but ready for the next development. In this hour we see the most successful part of the film. Egerton and Jackman have amazing on screen chemistry. The whole love/hate relationship has been done to death in many films, but in this film it works. Not overly sentimental, but more two people, going on personal journeys and creating havoc in the process. There back and forth showed great comedic timing, as if they’ve both been working together for a very long time. Egerton for me is one of the best young British actors knocking about. Between him and Jack O’ Connell we have a lot to look forward to. It is not a laugh a minute comedy romp to be honest. There is the odd moment that will make you laugh, but overall it attempts to stay in the story with its humour, unlike most American comedies.

The film is a massive cliché, in the way the story is told to each character. You have the grumpy out of date old timer who is standing in the way. The grumpy older coach who at first wants nothing to do with the hero, but then they become best friends. The none supportive parent who is won over. It is basically Cool Runnings reinvented for Britain. In that sense this isn’t the most exciting film. However Cool Runnings is a widely loved film by people of all generations for a reason and that is because the formula is entertaining. I can’t say that this is a great film by any means, because there is nothing in it that we haven’t seen before. The film is down, then up again, to rock bottom to ultimate redemption and glory. However the story itself is inspirational. To see someone combat the system, money worries and doubters to get exactly what they want against the odds is nice to see. It is clear that most of this film is nowhere near the true story, especially since Hugh Jackman’s character doesn’t exist. The film does well at suspending that disbelief and puts you through a wide range of emotions. You laugh, you crash, you smile and you cheer. This is another film that could have done with a good ten minutes chopping off it, all of it from a very very slow beginning, but overall it is an enjoyable cinema going experience and would highly recommend you give it a watch when its out on DVD or VOD. If you want a great sporting epic this is not it, but if you want to see a dope fly off a ski slope and make it seem possible for you as well then put it on, switch off your brain and get lost in the story.

 

6/10