Film Review “Mama” (2013) #100WordReview #NetflixReview

sounds like countless other films

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An evil apparition increasingly menaces an emotionally damaged family while itself apparently only clinging onto this Earthly realm due to its own unresolved trauma.

This sounds like the outline of countless other films. However, Mama really is fresh-feeling and impressive. This formula is refreshing by the use of this feral child motif which recalls the real case of Genie.

Good acting from all. Very creepy.

But there are some downers. Aunty only exists to be knocked off and never feels like a danger to the nascent family life of our protagonists nor as a fully fleshed out character. Also, the CGI is a little ropey, though not ruiningly bad.

3/5

© 2020-2021 Bryan A. J. Parry

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Film Review “Mirage” a.k.a. “Durante La Tormenta” (2018) #NetflixReview

read the 100 word review here

mind-bending … Beautiful

A foreboding storm is the backdrop to the sad tale of a boy who witnesses a murder and in fleeing the scene is run over and killed. Twenty-five years later, an eerily similar storm forms which seems to create a link to the past. Can Vera (Adriana Ugarte) save the boy? And what consequences will follow from this?

Mirage is a mind-bending mystery crime time-travel film. Beautiful in every way. The ending is shocking and totally satisfying; it doesn’t wipe out our journey as time travel films often do (the “it was only a dream” phenomenon). Despite the fantastic set-up — a storm which acts as a kind of wormhole to the past through which people can communicate via their television sets –. Mirage is wholly believable. Like all great time travel movies, it uses the set-up to explore those “Sliding Doors” moments where your life changed totally, almost as if on the toss of a coin.

Despite the message that ‘we should be contented with our lot, as it could be worse’, the film never moralises. The focus is the human drama.

The cast could not be better. The acting is thoroughly believable. Ugarte bears a huge weight as our dramatic lead Vera, and she delivers a naturalistic and delicate performance.

Anyone who has ever mused on what would have happened had they not caught that train, forgotten their wallet that time, or decided not to go out after all that night, that is, most people, will love this film. A special movie and the best Spanish language flick I have seen in years.

5/5

© 2020-2021 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://image.tmdb.org/t/p/original/asnozZh17f4Rv9Ro1rETAEEAFOt.jpg

Film Review “32 Malasana Street” a.k.a. “Malasaña 32” (2020) #NetflixReviews #150WordReview

Fairly generic stuff

In last roll of the dice, a desperate family moves from their village to the city. They hoped their dreams would come true, but their new flat is a house out of their worst nightmares.

Fairly generic stuff: bad stuff happens in the apartment many years before, new family get short shrift from the ghost(s) of the fallen, experts in spookology get drafted in to help fix it, the shit generally hits the fan. So far so standard. But the acting, especially from Iván Marcos (paterfamilias Manolo), is powerful: broad-shouldered, literally and metaphorically, but broken, we can still just about glimpse the young and raw buck that Candela (Bea Segura) fell in love with. The film is deeply atmospheric with great use of all tropes.

The best generic horror movie for a while. But it is deeply generic.

3/5

© 2021 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://es.web.img3.acsta.net/pictures/19/09/09/09/26/3456681.jpg

Film Review “Blood Red Sky” (2021) #NetflixReview #150WordReview

a fairly standard hijacker flick with a horror movie twist.

originally published at my dedicated movie reviews blog

A terminally ill mother boards a transatlantic flight with her son to get specialist medical treatment overseas. However, when the plane is hijacked by a group of terrorists, she is forced to take action and do something she hoped she’d never have to do.

Blood Red Sky is a fairly standard hijacker flick but with a horror movie twist. The horror spin gives the film something extra, but the basic hijacker story is thrillingly acted and directed.

Mother and child are played well by Peri Baumeister (Nadja) and Carl Anton Koch (Elias), but the movie is frankly stolen by supporting acts Kais Setti (Farid) and mesmeric Alexander Scheer (Eightball).

The movie plays slightly better if you don’t know the nature of Nadja’s mystery illness before watching it. Sadly, all of the publicity spills the beans. None-the-less, the film is still very entertaining. A slightly unoriginal story whisks us along in the wake of its taut hijacking.

3/5

© 2021 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://image.tmdb.org/t/p/original/e3JXvbbWNARPqMURImTALZBHVME.jpg

Netflix Film Review “Get Out” (2017) #NetflixReview @GetOutMovie #GetOutMovie @JordanPeele

a refreshing mix of familiar ingredients in a new form, the hallmark of much groundbreaking work

review first published here

Jordan Peele’s feature debut as writer-director, Get Out, is the story of young African-American Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and his Caucasian Apple Pie American girlfriend Rose Armitage (Allison Williams). They take a road trip to meet Rose’s posh WASP family for the first time. Chris is nervous, but Rose reassures him: “They woulda voted for Obama a third time if they could!”. Her family greets him with warm and open arms. But something’s amiss, and Chris just can’t put his finger on it. But as the hours and days go by, Chris begins to realise something is very wrong with the Armitages.

Get Out is a wonderful and surprising horror-mystery-thriller which keeps you guessing until near the end. It’s quite different: a refreshing mix of familiar ingredients in a new form, the hallmark of much groundbreaking work.

It’s thrilling and mysterious, and at times surreal and funny. I thought this worked well, but surrealism and comedy might be a discordant turn-off for some viewers.

Peele says it’s a “social horror”. And it’s certain that it’s on the back of this antiracist message that the film picked up four Oscar noms and one win. Indeed, the point he makes — that white liberals can have a racism every bit as dangerous if not more so than hillbillies can — is important and not often made in cinema. Sad,ly the message was undercut by the thoroughly surreal nature of proceedings; surrealism is a key part to making satire effective, but I feel things stretched too far in this picture. Frankly, this film is best viewed as a horror-mystery-thriller and not as some sort of satirical social commentary (although your Guardian-reading friends surely sold it to you as such).

The final twist seemed a step too far into absurdity to make its social satirical points. But worse, it isn’t quite consistent with what comes before. Although fair play to writer-director Jordan Peele: the ending wasn’t merely tacked on as so often is the case with the shock twist, but was clearly the direction we were headed in all along, with hindsight. Nonetheless, it doesn’t really work. And the biggest twist is revealed through something unbelievable (a scheming character just leaving something incriminating lying about).

Original, refreshing, thrilling, albeit with an ending that doesn’t quite work. Just don’t watch it as a serious take-down of racism.

4/5

© 2020-2021 Bryan A. J. Parry

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Film Review “Aftermath” (2021) #NetflixReview

is it too good to be true? (hint: it’s too good to be true)

review originally published here

A young married couple who are struggling to deal with a betrayal in their relationship decide to start afresh by moving into a newly renovated dream house in a new, shiny suburban neighbourhood. The dream home for the dream price, but is it too good to be true? (hint: it’s too good to be true)

Aftermath is fairly standard house invasion/freaky stalker living in the walls/is-it-a-ghost-is-it-a-squatter-is-it-in-her-mind schtick. But it’s thrillingly directed by Peter Winther, better known as a producer (of such flicks as Independence Day and The Patriot). This film is a mishmash of other films and the true story of a jealous home bidder. The main plot twists are clear a mile coming (any doubts on what’s going to happen to the family dog?), but the film was riveting.

There were a few melodramatic TV movie aspects, but Aftermath never goes overboard. The acting was also highly compelling. I really found myself lost in the world of the film, and that’s a testimony to all involved including young actress-screenwriter Dakota Gorman.

No classic, but this is thoroughly entertaining stuff.

3/5

© 2021 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://teknologimedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/aftermath-netflix-review.jpeg

Film Preview: “(The Office) David Brent: Life on the Road” (2016) @rickygervais #RickyGervais #LifeOnTheRoad

article-0-0064B02900000258-752_468x312

This preview was originally published in 2014

news of Gervais’ new project has filled me with excitement, and diarrhoea. 

I’m a huge Ricky Gervais fan. So I’m always excited when there’s news of an upcoming Gervais project. But the news of Gervais’ latest project has filled me with excitement, and diarrhoea. First, I’ll take you back to 2003:

That’s the end of The Office … [my] sort of legacy … So many people in the past have let me down, I think so many of my favourite comedy sitcoms/writers and actors have gone just one step too far. The quality goes down, you suddenly think, I don’t want to see this again, its repetitive or just poor! They have taken the money and run and I don’t want to do that. I don’t want people to say or think that of me.

Gervais talking there. Therefore, the news that Gervais is making a film of The Office, to be called Life on the Road, seems to be proof that he’s getting desperate and really has jumped the shark (Life’s Too Short, anyone?). This movie actually scares me. Is he going to ruin the perfect legacy of The Office? Has he “taken the money and run”?

Gervais is, all due disrespect to the haters, a genius. Fact. The Office alone proves it. Magnificently written and brilliantly acted, Gervais’ performance as David Brent was flawless: every word, every look, every facial twitch was spot on and every bit the equal of, say, Cleese in Fawlty Towers.

But he’s also lazy. And his recent projects have all been characterised by laziness. Life’s Too Short is a cheap Extras rip off, with Warren Davis doing a pathetic and embarrassing impersonation of David Brent; I can hardly bare to watch it, even alone, eyes closed, drunk. And I love Gervais’ collaborations with Karl Pilkington – The Ricky Gervais Show and An Idiot Abroad – but they are, nonetheless, quite lazy too. The formula: Gervais and Steve Merchant chat and take the piss out of Pilkington. Even Gervais’ stand up, funny as it is, has a certain sloppiness to it: think the “Chris Tarrant” anecdote which was the supposed grand finale to Fame. And let’s not mention his lame attempts at being an interviewer: he was too egotistical to act as foil to his guests. Which brings me on to the next point.

Derekmidres.jpg
“…the incredible miscasting of Gervais … as a mentally-handicapped man, single-handedly ruined the show”

The one project since Extras which wasn’t lazy, Derek, was self-indulgent. Set within an old people’s home, that show could’ve gone down as one of the most socially relevant, beautiful, brilliant, and important sitcoms ever. But the incredible miscasting of Gervais in the title role, as a mentally handicapped man, single-handedly ruined the show. Gervais just isn’t a good actor. That’s not a criticism, but trite fact. He’s a brilliant writer, stand up, and comic mind. But he hasn’t got the acting chops to portray such a character. And who cast Gervais in that role? Answer: Gervais. What self-indulgence! And self-indulgence and egotism have often attached themselves to Gervais’ projects. If only Ricky Gervais could have gotten over himself.

Therefore, whilst Gervais really is one of my idols (I rank him up there with Sellars, Cleese, Ben Elton, Ianucci, and Linehan and Matthews), I am worried. He can be lazy, he can be self-indulgent. The Office ended so beautifully, so perfectly, the character arcs were so neatly concluded, that an Office movie seems to be asking to fail. It’s like when Only Fools and Horses carried on after Delboy became a millionaire: the character’s journey was already satisfyingly and naturally finished. Continuing it was a bad idea from the get go: and, yes, post-millionaire Only Fools turned out to be an embarrassing, legacy-ruining, let-down.

So Ricky Gervais really is dicing with artistic danger here. There’s no need to bring back The Office. But he is. So he needs to drop his egotism, stop being lazy, and hopefully, he won’t ruin his own legacy. And touch wood, Steve Merchant, who seems to be a marginally moderating influence on Gervais, will be in tow. The only way to do this film is to make something flawless. “Never go back”, they say, “you’re bound to fail”. It’s a law of the universe. I hope The Office movie is the exception to that proven rule.

Watch this space.

References

featured image from http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2011/06/10/article-0-0064B02900000258-752_468x312.jpg

Derek image from http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02191/derek_2191238b.jpg

Gervais quote from http://www.dvdactive.com/editorial/interviews/ricky-gervais.html?post_id=172921&action=report

http://www.theguardian.com/media/2014/aug/05/ricky-gervais-david-brent-movie-bbc-the-office

http://www.theguardian.com/film/2014/aug/08/ricky-gervais-swaps-office-pop-stardom-david-brent-film

© 2014, 2021 Bryan A. J. Parry

Film Review: “The Woman in the Window” (2021) #150WordReview

A really good movie, albeit…

originally posted at www.moviereviewsblog.com

Agoraphobic divorcee Anna Fox (Amy Adams) is increasingly losing touch with reality, most of her days are spent staring out of her window and spying on her neighbours. But one day she witnesses her next door neighbour, and sole friend, Jane Russell (Julianne Moore) murdered in her own house. However, when the police check it out, it turns out that her neighbour is well and alive, but is not the woman that Anna knows (Jennifer Jason Leigh).

Is Anna crazy, or is there a cover-up afoot? The Woman in the Window is a thrilling mystery crime drama. Off-kilter performances and direction with several twists.

There is a vaguely Scream-esque aspect to the final reveal, but done straight-faced. That’s not necessarily a good thing. Other aspects of the film are slightly derivative. None-the-less, the movie was well acted, logically scripted, and compellingly directed.

A really good movie, albeit one which underuses its wonderful cast.

3/5

© 2021 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://www.aceshowbiz.com/images/still/woman-window-poster01.jpg

Series Review “Unorthodox” (2020) #NetflixReviews #100WordReview

Powerful

Unorthodox is the story of Esther (Shira Haas), a nineteen year old from a Hasidic Jewish community in New York, who tries to flee her arranged marriage and authoritarian community to build a new life for herself. But will her community, or her husband, let her escape?

Unorthodox is, I believe, the first Netflix series shot in Yiddish, which makes it notable. It’s an engrossing story which paints a powerful picture of a repressive community without ever getting into Judaism-bashing. The limited series was infused with realism.

Powerful.

4/5

© 2021 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://www.kveller.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/unorthodox.jpg

Film Review “The Motive” a.k.a. “El Autor” (2017) #150WordReview #NetflixReviews

Beautifully portrayed by sociopath-on-demand Javier Gutiérrez

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Álvaro (Javier Gutiérrez) is a worn-out notary who harbours dreams of becoming a successful writer of high literature and is thoroughly tired of people constantly going on about his successful wife Amanda’s (María Leon) latest novel. “Writing about what you know” doesn’t yield great results when you’re a boring clerk, so Alvaro decides to cause conflict in his own life and the life of those around him in the hope that this will bring better results.

The Motive a.k.a. El Autor (‘The Author’) is a slow-moving, delicate yet thrilling character study. Beautifully portrayed by sociopath-on-demand Javier Gutiérrez (see The Occupant), we can see the cogs turning in Álvaro’s brain by the slightest pause or flicker of the eyes. Gutiérrez brings everything to this highly believable portrayal.

The script, based on Javier Cercas’ 1987 novella, is highly believable. But despite its strengths, this film will not to be everyone’s tastes. There isn’t a lot of “action”, but there is a lot of scheming. Nonetheless, a fantastic movie.

4/5

© 2020-2021 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://www.tvqc.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/ELAUTOR_CARTEL_800x1143_web.jpg