tisdag 30 april 2013

Maniac

Movies that have been banned is always interesting to watch. All of them may not be very good, but there are some that stand outside the ordinary horror category. Maniac is a perfect example. Banned from cinemas, cut down and released with less brutal murders, made a lot of fans angry. It finally got to be shown uncut, but after quite a long time, and could only be seen in certain countries. William Lustig´s disturbing tale of serial killer, left a big impact on many people. Looking at this motion picture now, you can tell it has grown old, but still looks very disturbing. I were actually surprised that a remake was going to be made, by director Franck Khalfoun, who only directed 2 movies earlier, in very different genres. Taking on such a classic, is Maniac ( The Remake ) better than expected, or should the original movie be left alone ?

Frank Zito ( Elijah Wood ) owns a mannequin shop, originally owned by his famliy for three generations. He is a very disturbed man, hunting for women. Frank was abused while growing up by his mother Angela ( America Olivo, who worked as a prostitute, not caring for Frank at all. After the death of Angela, Frank becomes the owner of the mannequin shop, but with his mental statement already gone wrong, things are about to get a lot worse. He finds new victims, as he scalping their heads, to use their hair on the mannequins heads. He experience disturbing hallucinations, that makes him even more angry. At some point, he seems to calm down for a moment, as he meets Anna ( Nora Arnezeder ). She is an artist, looking to open a art exhibit. As she gets to know more about Frank, she realise he have the perfect place, since he owns the mannequin shop. Frank begins to like Anna, and want to help her with her art exhibit. But his past haunts him, as he murders another girl brutally. Trying to get back on his feet, by helping Anna, he finds out she has a boyfriend. Now he feels unloved again, and there is no way he will loose this relationship he desperately wants with Anna.

I never thought i would say this. But Elijah Wood as a serial murder turns out to be a enormous surprise. He really does a powerful performance, in a very different character than he usually does. Let´s not try and compare this to the original movie. Because there are some differences, especially the way director Franck Khalfoun tries to portrait a serial killer. It´s not only visually stunning, the effects are really well done. The brutal murders are very detailed at some points, so if you have a fainted heart, i suggest you do not watch this one. Maniac sets out what it want to do, shock people. But not only that. This is a story of how a human being can become a monster after living a life in hell, when no one loves you. And this is one of the details i feel is shown very clear, while we follow Frank´s journey to eternal darkness. Let´s not forget the synthesizer score, by Raphael Hamburger, gives this motion picture a different feeling, almost like we are travelling inside a serial killers mind and hear his thoughts. One of the best remakes i have seen for many years, a very professional motion picture with really great acting and very disturbing scenes. And that Sweden did not give Maniac a cinema release is a disgrace, you have to let movies of this quality be let out on a big screen.


Rating: DDDD

 

Fresh Meat

God bless Peter Jackson. His classic movies Bad Taste, Meet The Feebles and Braindead showed that New Zeeland could make classic motion pictures on a budget, just as small as the intelligence of Paris Hilton. So many classic scenes made out of absolutely nothing , just ideas put together so effective. I can´t say i remember many other movies from New Zeeland, apart from Once Were Warriors, starring Temuera Morrison. A very raw violence drama about a man who totally lost control over his life, and use his fist to solve problems. Wait a second, i almost forgot Eagle Vs Shark, a quite funny nerd movie with Jemaine Clemet. Looking over new releases, New Zeeland don´t get much attention in Europe, i have no idea why, but they know how to make great movies. I stumbled over a trailer of Fresh Meat, that seemed to be a mix of a comedy and splatter, for the old school fans of mr Jackson. Is it possible Fresh Meat is this new generations Bad Taste, or are the classics way to good to be compared with this one?

Tina Crane ( Hanna Tevita ) is coming home to her parents from a school break. Her dad Hemi Crane (  Temuera Morrison ) picks her up, so happy to see her again. Hemi´s wife Margaret Crane ( Nicola Kawana ) is recording her cooking show on set in her kitchen, so as fast as she is done she is delighted Tina is back home again. Everything is looking great, until a gang of gangsters breaks into their home, and invade their house, and take the family hostage. But what the gangsters don´t know, is that this family has a special taste, for fresh meat.

I will start first by saying, this is not as good as Bad Taste or Braindead. But is it still worth watching ? Yes indeed, Fresh Meat is the perfect family movie for all ages. We get flesh wounds, lots of bullets, and some bad acting, just the way we like it, we even get a hot shower scene with 2 girls using soap on each other. Now, this is the answer to world peace, remember that swedish prime minister Fredrik Reindfeldt. Even if Fresh Meat may have some flaws, this is still a nice tribute to splatter movies i grew up with, where the budget may not be big, but made with a big heart for this genre. Director Danny Mulheron shows that he have a passion for low budget horror with funny details, that may look silly but works pretty good. If you love Bad Taste, make sure you check Fresh Meat on VOD, or buy the dvd to support film makers who still love to make these kinds of movies. A great movie for a beer night.

Rating: DDD

måndag 22 april 2013

The Place Beyond The Pines

Last year i felt Drive with Ryan Gosling was one of the best releases of 2012. While so many movies failed on acting, Gosling just filled every single piece with almost perfection. Maybe i am very demanding, but if you want to see a great movie, you need a great actor to make sure you want to stay in your seat. And now, he is finally back with a movie already praised by most critics. With a great cast and a great director onboard, is The Place Beyond The Pines a knockout, or just a flash of what could have been good ?

Luke Glanton ( Ryan Gosling ) is a locally-famous motorcycle stuntman. The audience love him, but he does not get much money for the dangerous stunts he performs. Luke have no real home, he travels from city to city, just to perform. While he stays in Altamont, Luke visits his ex-lover Romina ( Eva Mendes ), he finds out he have a son, she have never told him about named Jason. Since Luke´s life is messed up, he want a fresh start and quit his stuntman job. Hoping to spend time with his son Jason, Romina can´t let him stay at her home, since she has a new partner Kofi ( Mahershala Ali ). Luke still want to be a responsible father, and make sure Jason gets what he needs. While driving around on his motorcycle, he meets Robin, an auto repair shop owner, who offers Luke a job. He takes it, even if the payment is low. Robin tell Luke that he used to rob banks years ago, and he knows Luke are in need of cash. They begin to plan to rob different banks in town. Everything goes smooth at first, until one day when Luke mess up a robbery. Police chase him to a family house, where Officer Avery Cross ( Bradley Cooper ) shoot Luke. Avery is hurt but survives, while Luke is dead. Officer Avery is let out of hospital and treated as a hero. While Avery is recovering with his family, some of his police friends visits for dinner one day, including Officer Deluca ( Ray Liotta ). Deluca asks Avery´s wife if he can take Avery on a trip to meet some of his fans. Avery´s wife aprove this, and the guys head off. But what Avery thought would be a chance to meet fans, turns out to be something completely different. Deluca want the money Romina´s ex-lover Luke robbed from different banks, as they head to her home. Deluca´s partner find the cash, as they split them in the car. Avery feels bad about this, but take the money. But it does not stop here, Deluca´s friends have more plans including help from Avery, but can he keep on going like this ?

Ryan Gosling is a genius actor, in every possible way. He is our generations latest De Niro, because no one can beat him in creating his own character. But hang on, it does not stop here. Bradley Cooper does one of his best performances so far, and you know what ? Ray Liotta is back....really? He has not been this good since the 90´s, he may not be a very long time on screen, but trust me, he still got it. The stories of these families go through a generation, time may pass, but the past never goes away. And this is why The Place Beyond The Pines makes such a powerful impact, every story has a point to how we react in sorrow and guilt. I can´t remember the last time i sat in a cinema feeling so blessed with acting on a level this high. Director Derek Cianfrance have worked with Ryan Gosling before in Blue Valentine, loved that motion picture, mostly because Gosling. This time he does not just do everything better, he hits a strike so hard, Taylor Lautner gets his balls crushed as we all dance of joy. Everything is almost perfect, actors, storyline, cinema graphic moments you barely see anymore. Ok, it may not be the greatest masterpiece, but i have to do this, because i have a feeling nothing will beat The Place Beyond The Pines this year, unless a miracle happen. This is just what we needed at this time of year, a classic already. Best movie of 2013 is already here, end of story.

Rating: DDDDD

söndag 21 april 2013

Oblivion

Most guys will not admit, they love Top Gun. Why ? Because who would not want to be Maverick ? You get to fly F-14 A Tomcat and make out with Kelly McGillis in a dress, and have hot showers with Val Kilmer , who could say no to this ? I know, no one. Let´s face it. Tom Cruise have a hell of a lot of movie classics in his trunk, with all kinds of genre motion pictures. Even if he have failed a few times, he still comes back and deliver a solid performance. When it comes to sci fi motion pictures, he have succeeded both with Minority Report and War Of The Worlds. They were both very different types of sci fi movies, but very good in their own way. So here we get a new story, a new perspective in this genre with Oblivion. With Mr Cruise back on track, does he strike a full house, or does his name only hide the lack of quality ?

In the year 2017, Earth was attacked by aliens known as Scavengers. Most humans did not survive, only a few are left. The moon was destroyed and Earth changed after the use of nuclear weapons. 60 years later in 2077, technichian # 49 Jack Harper ( Tom Cruise ) is one of the few survivors left, who travels around to repair or support of " drones ". Jack´s communications officer and lover Victoria ( Andrea Risenborough ) makes sure he is updated with information, while he is on a mission. While another mission have succeeded, everything looks to be under control. Suddenly Jack witness the space ship the Odyssey crash down. As he searches the crash site, he finds survivors in sleeping capsules. But not for long, drones are ordered to destroy the sleeping capsules, Jack manage to rescue one of the passangers, Julia ( Olga Kurylenko ). he takes her with him to his base two feet above the Earth. Victoria is skeptical about the new guest, but try to accept the situation. Julia wakes up, and is determined to find the ships black box, to find out what really happened. Jack agrees to go with her, but does not know what is waiting for him out there.

Let´s begin with the good parts. The locations surrounding the movie looks fantastic. Director Joseph Koskinski have found a classic touch of old sci fi movies from the 70´s, though more updated with more details. Tom Cruise is doing well in his role as Jack Harper, he is good at doing different kinds of characters in different life situations.

Now for the bad part. Even if the movie is over 2 hours, it feels like 2 hours and 30 minutes. Some scenes are so long, you wonder why this could not be cut down, at least a few minutes. It certainly does not help the movie become more powerful, instead you get kind of bored.

But hang on a second. I am not saying Oblivion is a bad movie, not at all. This is a more depper story than the typical alien movie, with an intelligent plot behind the story. And this is where Oblivion works best, trying to tell a deeper story of choices we make as humans. The action scenes are cool, and most of the acting works well. Such a shame Oblivion feels so much longer than what it is, but overall a sci fi movie that should please most ages. Don´t miss the hot pool scene with actress Andrea Riseborough, now i understand why so many women become lesbians, or at least feel curious about it.

Rating: DDD

måndag 15 april 2013

Stand Up Guys

Some actors will live on forever, on the big screen of course. Even if they die like everyone does, their performances will never be forgotten. 2 of these actors, are Al Pacino and Christopher Walken. Looking back at their movie classics, they both have acomplished more than most new actors will ever do. Somehow, i feel that Al Pacino have lost some of the acting skills in his latest movies, except for the HBO movie You Don´t Know Jack, if you have not seen this one, i suggest you do. Stand Up Guys looks like a tribute to old school movies from the 70´s, does this concept work with such great actors, or is the image too good to be true ?

After spending 28 years in prison, Valentine ( Al Pacino ) is released from prison. Valentine´s old friend and partner Doc ( Christopher Walken ) is waiting for him outside. After so many years apart, Valentine make sure they have a good time. But there is something Valentime does not know. Doc is ordered to kill Valentine, by a long-time crime boss. But as they have a great time, and also pick up old friend Richard Hirsch ( Alan Arkin ), Doc finds it hard to complete the mission.

Sometimes you don´t need a complicated story to deliver a solid motion picture, Stand Up Guys knows what the audience wants. A classic tale of old school thugs doing the only thing they know. Just to see Al Pacino back on track again, after some awful performances, makes you feel good once again. He is a great actor, if he just get the right character. Christopher Walken delivers as he always does, and he is funny also. I have never been a big Alan Arkin fan, until i watched his performance in Argo. He is not that good this time as in Argo, but he still manage to deliver a character worth this type of motion picture. There have been critisism about the sexual perspective of women in Stand Up Guys. I understand the point, but hey, this is not meant to make every woman seen only in a sexual way. Don´t take this too seriously, Stand Up Guys is just a fun tribute to classic 70´s movies, with a cool soundtrack. Maybe a little bit slow in some scenes, but i have a feeling you will be pleased, just like me.

Rating: DDD

söndag 7 april 2013

Silver Linings Playbook

Most movies are made from a novel, or based on a short story. I do not read very often, maybe because i never feel very interested in reading books, unless i am travelling by train or on an airplane. Making a movie based on a novel is not easy, you have to capture the feeling of the story into screenplay, and still stay true to the content so fans of the novel will recognize themselves. The Silver Linings Playbook, written by author Matthew Quick, is his first novel that recieved great reviews and readers praised his writing. I have not read the novel personally, i only heard about the novel while the movie was being made. After movie awards, and crititcs fell in love with this movie adaption, is it possible Silver Linings Playbook finally give american cinema a fresh perspective on cinema experience, or is this just a media seller to get audiences pay for a ticket ?

Pat Solitano Jr. (Bradley Cooper ), is released from a mental health facility. His parents Dolores Solitano ( Jacki Weaver ), and Patrizio Solitano ( Robert De Niro ) agree to take care of him in their home, after 8 months of treatments from bipoler disorder. While Pat stayed at the mental health facility, he became a very good friend with patient Danny McDaniels ( Chris Tucker ), who tries really hard to get out, but with no luck. When Pat returns home after such a long time, he finds out dad Patrizio is out of a job, and now tries to get cash through bookmaking. Patrizio hopes he will earn enough money to start a restaurant. While Pat was away, he hope to get his life back on track, and hope to get back together with his wife Nikki Solitano ( Brea Bee ). But since Pat lost control, over his wife cheating, she obtained a restraining order against him after the violent episode that sent him away. His parents does not think this is a good idea, to get back together with Nikki and advice he should do something else, like watching football with his dad Patrizio. But Pat´s mental illness is giving him problems, he can´t control his behaviour, and complaints are being made in the neighbourhood. He tries to stay away from medication, but at some point realise he can´t ignore this. While out running, he meets his old friend Ronnie Maxwell ( John Ortiz ), who invite him for dinner one evening. At the dinner, Pat meets Ronnie´s sister-in-law Tiffany Maxwell ( Jennifer Lawrence ), a widow who also lost her job. From this moment, Pat and Tiffany begin to find out, they have more things in common than anyone of them ever knew.

I am stunned. Acting on this level like in Silver Linings Playbook is not served very often. So many powerful performances from Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, that you can´t help to feel more than pleased. And Robert De Niro does his best performance in many years, gives this movie adaption alot to talk about. Since the story is based on mental illness, and i personally work in health care, you can recognize moments you have seen, while helping people. Not exactly like in the movie, but after 14 years in health care you get a lot of experiences, meeting people in different life situations. One scene i find very interesting is the dinner scene, at Ronnie´s home, when Pat and Tiffany discuss medications. They both have problems mentally but are open about it, while Ronnie´s wife feel they can´t be treated normal. This kinds of make you angry. Because even if people with mental problems may be different, does not make them bad people. I have met many people with mental illness, and i have to say, some of them are more wonderful than ordinary people, because they try and live a life, even with their issues. It does not matter what problems you have, or what medication you are on, what matter´s most is how you are as a person, and what you give to the world. Silver Linings Playbook is one of the best health care drama movie adaptions i have seen in many years, i think the last time i felt this much joy was in 1990 with Awakenings. And that motion picture also starred Robert De Niro, what a coincidence. Director David O. Russell, who gave us the incredible boxing drama The Fighter, once again deliver a motion picture with such high quality, you can only feel joy in your heart. You have to see this one, especially if you know someone in your family diagnosed with a mental illness, or if you have a friend in a situation, you wont find a more honest portrait anywhere else at this moment.

Rating: DDDD

torsdag 4 april 2013

The Last Stand

 
Whatever you do, do not tell me you have never watched a Schwarznegger movie. If you do, you are possibly lying or you are a Twilight fan. There is no reason not to see one of his classics, this austrian Läderhausen boy knows how to party. Most people probably think of Terminator, personally i find the first Predator movie one of his most classic movies of all time. Last summer it felt great to see him on screen, for the first time in almost 10 years, kicking ass in The Expendables 2. He is older, and he might not be able to do all stunts he used to do, but what the hell...he is Schwarznegger, so he needs no excuses. There were rumours of his latest comeback film on interet, that this would be just like the old classics we grew up watching. So the question is, does The Last Stand please action audiences all over the world, or is Arnold way too old to be doing this ?

In the sleepy border town Sommerton Junction, located in Arizona, the town Sheriff Ray Owens ( Arnold Schwarznegger ) is making sure everyone feels safe. Ray used to work for LAPD, but after a bungled operation that left him wracked, and problems within the job, he decided to retire. One night in Las Vegas, international drug lord Gabriel Cortez ( Eduardo Noriega ) escape from FBI custody, taking Agent Ellen Richards ( Génesis Rodriguez ) hostage on his way to Mexico. Agent John Bannister ( Forest Whitaker ) arrange a blockade in Bullhead City, but without success. Gabriel Cortez still manage to continue his journey. Back in Sommerton Junction, deputies Jerry Bailey ( Zach Gilford ) and Sarrah Torrance ( Jaimie Alexander ) find the body of local farmer Parsons ( Harry Dean Stanton ). The tracks to this murder leads to Cortez´s henchman Thomas Burrell ( Peter Stormare ) Deputy Bailey is fatally shot in a shootout. With some help from friends, sheriff Owen will make sure these guests will never visit Sommerton Junction, ever again.

Even if The Last Stand is not the greatest Schwarzneger movie of all time, i have a feeling fans will be pleased. You get lots of action, and actually some funny scenes also. Arnold acts like he always does, and you want him to be in the same way, because that is what he is good at. The plot may not be particularly interesting, but i honestly don´t care about that in this type of motion picture. This is popcorn entertainment with a great value for old school action lovers. Director Kim ji-Woon, who directed one of my favourite thillers I Saw The Devil, may not have made his best work with The Last Stand, but he knows how to make action. Peter Stormare may look almost the same as he always does, but i find him cool as a bad guy, and he is not russian either. Forest Whitaker is actually pretty good as the FBI Agent John Bannister, while Johnny Knoxville does what he always do, make fun of himself. A good action movie indeed, almost like going back to the VHS glory days of video violence, but with bigger budget. The Last Stand may not find a new audience, but for those who want to escape from Twilight fans, this is a good choice.


Rating: DDD

onsdag 3 april 2013

Tower Block

How come so many british movies are so much better than american productions ? Well, most of the time, they have better actors, and also make more realistic movies. I can name many titles worth checking out, british movies so good you will headbang of hapiness. While America seems to be stuck at the moment with different ideas, European cinema usually bring us something different. Tower Block may not sound like something original, once you have seen the trailer, but is it possible we have another british knockout served well done ?

Becky ( Sheridan Smith ) witness a young man being beaten down outside her appartment door. She tries to help him, but is also beaten down. For protection from gang violence, a thug named Kurtis ( Jack O`Connell ) collects money from every appartment to make sure they are safe. One day, snipers begin to shoot through the appartments in the Tower Block. Some of the neighbours are killed, some manage to survive. Becky and the rest of the survivors, try to make their way out, and also get some answers of who are shooting at them.

Oh god fuck yeah.....

This is just what i needed. A high quality british thriller with very good acting and very detailed scenes, that makes Tower Block a cinema feast. The story may look like something we have seen before, but directors James Nunn and Ronnie Thompson manage to keep the movie hold a steady line with such powerful performances. Just the fact that they manage to make such intensive scenes with so small budget proves how professional they are at making a movie. Leading actress Sheridan Smith is completely brilliant as Becky, the nice next door girl who transform into a nut kicker. Another interesting detail about this movie, is how do we work together, if we are in a life threatening situation ? Finally a great release on dvd and blu ray that you just have to check out. I would even say this is worth having in your movie collection, how often do i get to say that ?

Rating: DDDD

A Dark Truth

One movie that many of you probably do not remember, or have not seen, is the 90´s classic motion picture Things To Do In Denver When You´re Dead. With a cast of Andy Garcia, Christopher Lloyd, Treat Williams, Steve Buscemi, Christopher Walken and many others, it had so many cool characters, and a great story also. Andy Garcia have been in some early classic movies over the years, but you do not see him very often nowdays. Director Damian Lee, is mostly known for directing low budget movies like Sacrifice including Cuba Gooding Jr. Does A Dark Truth offer us something fresh, or is this business as usual ?

Jack Begosian ( Andy Garcia ) is an ex-CIA Operative, who now works as a talk show host, on a radio station. Taking people´s calls, he tries to make listeners feel interested. Jack is contacted by Morgan Swinton ( Deborah Kara Unger ). She needs his help, to expose her company’s cover-up of a massacre in a South America village. While he is getting closer to the truth, Jack is also closer of ending up dead.

It is a shame that a movie with some great actors like this one, does not offer anything special. The plot is simply boring, even if there are some action sequences along the way. A Dark Truth reminds me of a Saturday night Tv movie with Jeff Fahey, just like we would be back in 2001 again. You simply don´t care about the hard issues presented here, just because they are not very believable. A dull film, that is saved by some good actors ( including Forest Whitaker ), but they don´t really care about this either. Make sure you watch Things To Do In Denver When You´re Dead instead, this is exactly what a home cinema experience should be like.

Rating: DD