lördag 28 juni 2014

Blue Ruin

The movie industry today is very hard. Even if a great motion picture is made, do not expect that it will get promotion, screenings or help from a major studio. Especially smaller films, just a few get lucky and find an audience, while many become forgotten, or get a release date, but very few go and watch the film. Thankfully there are way for fans of independent films to help support film makers, like Kickstarter. I have helped 4 films over the years, by giving an amount of money to support new films being made. Blue Ruin is an example, of a movie that was made, thanks to fans through Kickstarter. Film maker Jeremy Sauliner managed to get enough money to finish Blue Ruin, and ever since the premiere at Cannes Film Festival in 2013, critics praised this small film, and Blue Ruin also won an award, the FRIPRESCI prize. I love independent films, and when i hear of new releases i try and check them out. Is Blue Ruin a powerful motion picture that deserves all the praise, or is this not as good as i hoped it would be ?

Homeless and on the run, Dwight ( Macon Blair ) try and find new places to stay, while he is trying to survive. A police officer find Dwight, and inform him that Wade Cleland have been released from prison. Wade was responsible behind the killing of Dwights parents, so when Dwight find out he will be released, he try to figure out a way to kill him. Dwight manage to enter the Cleland Gang clubhouse, where he brutally murder Wade with a knife in the bathroom. As Dwight go outside, he steals Wade´s limousine, but do not know that Wade´s son is in the limousine. He stops the car, and let him out. Confused of what he just did, he goes to see his sister Sam Evans ( Amy Hargreaves ), and tell her that he murdered Wade. She feel that he deserved to be killed, and only support her brother. Sam let her brother stay at her house, while she is off to work. That same night, members of Cleland Gang, visit the house to kill Dwight. He survives, as he manage to take one of the members as hostage, and lock him in the trunk. But Dwight is badly injured, by one of the gang members, and manage to find a hospital. He wakes up in a hospital bed, as his leg is fixed, but decide to escape. Now he will finish what he started, and make the Cleland family pay the prize of revenge.

I am so thankful that Kickstarter can make it possible to help films, like Blue Ruin, to be released. This is a very strong and emotional motion picture, about making choices in life, and facing consequences. The budget is very limited, but director Jeremy Sauliner use very small details to make Blue Ruin look really good. One of the most important details, is that the characters feel very realistic. And this is one of the reasons why i love Blue Ruin, this could be you, or someone else in your family going through the same destiny. Macon Blair in the lead role, is absolutely splendid, he really shows human emotions, in a life of someone who lost it all. Some scenes look really beautiful, while you follow Dwight on his road trip, trying to revenge the killers of his dead parents. Another positive detail is that this is not a typical revenge thriller drama, there is actually a very smart plot behind the curtain. I feel that there are influences from The Coen Brothers, or maybe even some David Lynch, but this is still original enough to deliver a powerful motion picture. A few weeks ago i praised Enemy, with Jake Gyllenhaal, to be one of the best films this year. After watching Blue Ruin, i have to say that this one is also in the top with Enemy, this year is looking good so far, when it comes to quality independent films.

Rating: DDDD

torsdag 26 juni 2014

The Protector 2

When i was a kid, i grew up watching all the great martial arts legends, Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Bolo Yeung, Jet Li, and of course all the Chuck Norris classics, before Van Damme became a superstar. I even remember my old school friend Björn learning to do special kicks in his parents garage, after watching Kickboxer. I tried to do a round kick on my sister one day ( this is what happends when you are young and stupid ), that did not go as planned. But she did revenge me, by beating me with a snow shovel. When the 90´s ended, it seemed as martial arts films were about to go out of popularity, at least in Europe. But in 2003, an unexpected hit came from Thailand, in a motion picture named Ong-Bak. With a lead actor no one have ever heard of, Tony Jaa, he became a superstar instantly, as Ong-Bak was screened all over the world. 2 more sequels were released, but none of them became successfull as the first motion picture. In 2005, Tony Jaa returned with a different film, in the same genre. The Protector, that actually did well at the box office. So here we are with a sequel, what a surprise.....right? I thought the first film was alright, but nothing unique. Is the sequel better than last time, or is this a sequel that will most likely be going straight to dvd and become forgotten ?

Kham ( Tony Jaa ) teach children about elephants, and try to help them be interested in the forest and animal life. One day, Kham have a visitor to his village. His name is Suchart Vilawandei (Adinan Buntanaporn), and he is a trader. He wants to buy Kham´s elephant, but Kham refuse to take any money. Suddenly, Kham find out that Suchart and his men have taken his elephant, that they plan to sell to gangster LC ( RZA ). Kham locate the resident of Suchart, but find him dead. Kham is now wanted for the murder of  Suchart, but Sergeant Mark ( Mum Jokmok ) do not believe Kham murdered Suchart. Kham continue to look for his elephant, but the deeper he look in the criminal world of LC, his life is now in a very dangerous situation.

I was hoping that The Protector 2 would bring something fresh, or at least something different in the martial arts genre. I was wrong. This is pretty much what you would expect, an action movie with Tony Jaa doing his usual kicking. The first Protector movie may not have been as good as Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior, but still had some nice fighting scenes to offer. In the sequel, they manage to deliver some details, but overall we are left with confusion. The story is basically the same as the first motion picture, and this is a big mistake that Tony Jaa should have fixed. If you are doing a sequel, make the sequel a worthy one, and do not copy too many details from the past. I would not say everything is bad, but there is no story, or anything interesting about the abduction of an elephant, to bring it back to safety. The only thing that saves The Protector 2 from falling apart completely are some of the fight scenes. I suggest you go and rent Ong-Bak if you like extremely well made martial arts. The Protector 2 offers only a few good moments, but in the end this is nothing you will remember.

Rating: DD

lördag 21 juni 2014

Puncture Wounds ( A Certain Justice )

When i travel to different countries, and people find out that i am from Sweden, they think of Abba, Zlatan and Boy George having the norwegian male stripper in handcuffs. The fact is that we have many great personalities in Sweden.

But for those who say Ingmar Bergman is out greatest Icon, let me say this.

We only have one who will always be Swedens number 1 star, and he is Dolph Lundgren.

Ever since i was a little kid, i watched Dolph kick ass, every time he released another action movie on VHS tapes. There are so many classics, so counting them all would take a very long time. Even if one of the movies was bad, Dolph was always great, he can never be bad, because he is Dolph. Every year he release a straight to dvd action movie, some are good, a few are not so good, but i always try and see his latest releases, because he is Dolph, this is the closest to God we will ever get. Puncture Wounds is a new action film, directed by James Coyne and Giorgio Serafini, who both worked on different B movie productions in the past. Giorgio directed another action movie with Dolph Lundgren, called Ambushed. Is this another fun dvd release for the family dinner, or is this release something you should forget ?

John Nguyen ( Cung Le ) have returned home, after serving in Iraq. He constantly have flashbacks, and have a problem trying to fit in society from all that he have seen in war. One night outside his temporary apartment, a young woman, Tanya ( Briana Evigan ) is attacked by thugs. John save her, but Tanya warn him that he is now a dead man. John tries to leave this behind. The gang leader Hollis ( Dolph Lundgren ), who is both a pimp and make erotic movies, try and find out who killed most of the guys, but one survive. The survivor tell Hollis what the guy look like, as Hollis begin to look for him. Tanya have information also, so Hollis decide that Johns family must die, as revenge for what he did to his men. Johns family is burned alive, now John have only one thing on his mind, to revenge his family´s death.

Puncture Wounds is like going back to early Bolo Yeung martial art movies. There are lots of fight scenes, and many guns in motion. And to see Dolph Lundgren look like a mix of Axl Rose in the 90´s or even Mikkey Dee with longer hair, is really funny. He is both a pimp, and a porn manager who have no remorse. Vinnie Jones, ex football star, is here also. He does an ok performance. but nowhere as close as good in his earlier british motion pictures. Lead actor Cung Le is not a great actor, honestly, but he knows how to fight, and when he does, he hit hard with everything he can. From an action perspective, Puncture Wounds deliver a fun time, for us who grew up watching video violence from the 80´s and 90´s. The story is very thin, but thanks to the hard hitting action sequences, these scenes saves everything from falling completely down the drain. Having 2 directors working together is a fun idea, and you can tell they must have had different visions of how this movie should look. As always, Dolph is the biggest reason why you should see Puncture Wounds, no matter what character he does, he does it, only in a way he can do it. This is no classic, but it does not really matter. This is action made for martial arts fans, and i can see why Peter Settman would cheer having this in his dvd player.

Rating: DDD

torsdag 19 juni 2014

The Quiet Ones

Hammer films made a lot of classic british horror movies in the 60´s and in the 70´s. Christopher Lee have always been my favourite Dracula actor, and his version of the legendary character is splendid. I would not say that every Dracula movie made by Hammer Films was good, but they did know how to make horror movies look great on a limited budget. Suddenly in 1979 the company was bankrupt, because of economical problems. Hammer Films was shut down, and it seemed that the company was gone for good. Then 28 years later in 2007, Hammer Films returned to begin making horror movies again. The first feauture film to be made was named Wake Wood ( a good horror film, made in an old school way ). The company was behind the release of the horror film Let Me In, an american version of the swedish movie Låt Den Rätte Komma In. I actually really enjoyed the american version, but i would still say that the swedish version is more powerful. Maybe you watched Daniel Radcliffe in The Woman In Black ? Another release from Hammer Films, that actually turned out quite good. So here we are, one more horror release from the classic company. This time we have The Quiet Ones, said to be loosely based on true events, in the case of Philip experiement, that was made in 1972. Is this latest release from Hammer Films a treat for horror fans, or is this a failure compare to other productions from this legendary film company ?

In the 70´s, we find ourselves in Oxford, England. Professor Joseph Coupland ( Jared Hess ) show his students a video, containing a young boy, who is said to be possessed. Joseph is very interested in supernatural events and paranormal activities, so he decide to gather one of his students, Brian McNeil ( Sam Claflin ), with his two assistants , Krissi ( Erin Richards ) and Harry ( Rory Fleck-Byrne ) to do a paranomal investigation, on a girl named Jane Harper ( Olivia Cooke ). They all travel to an isolated house in the countryside., where the sessions can begin. Brian is fascinated about Olivia´s story, but he realise she can not be trusted. Joseph try to find out more details about Olivia, as the sessions continue. But for each day, as they dig deeper into Olivia´s mind, the real truth is about to unfold.

Does anyone remember the motion picture Session 9 ? Throw in some influences from Fragile, with the look of the 70´s, and you have The Quiet Ones. This so called loosely based on a true story, have potential. The problem is, this is not very scary. There are some scenes that look good, and the sound engineers have done an excellent job. But the scenes that are supposed to be frightening, feel way too simple. There is so much talking, and way too many slow filmed scenes trying to scare the audience. I like the idea that director John Pogue have tried to capture on the session scenes, but in the end The Quiet Ones is not an effective horror film. I was actually looking forward to The Quiet Ones, when the trailer was released. Now, after seeing the whole motion picture, i feel dissapointed. Not a bad horror release, just simply boring.

Rating: DD

söndag 8 juni 2014


Monsters fighting other monsters, what could be more fun than that ? Godzilla is without a doubt one of the biggest legends of cinema monster characters, that many generations have enjoyed worldwide. You might think that every Godzilla movie is only about monsters fighting, that is wrong. Godzilla is actually a monster who don´t attack, unless he needs to. There are so many Godzilla movies, some are good, some are not so good, and then we have Godzilla, made in 1998. When director Roland Emmerich took on this legend to the big screen, fans were furious and not happy about the results. With some really bad acting, and some lame special effects, Godzilla in the 90´s did not leave any positive reactions. For many years we heard rumours about a new movie adaption, but after many ideas and directors interested in doing their own adaption, nothing happened. So, after a long journey, director Gareth Edwards, who directed the horror movie Monsters ( praised by both critics and fans ), jumped on board and decided to bring Godzilla back on to a big screen. Considering the pressure he must have had, since last time was such a big mess, he must have realised that fans wanted to see Godzilla back, bigger and more bad ass than ever. Is the new Godzilla just what we wanted him to be, or is this another one that should be drained down your toilet ?

In the year 1954, the United States test atomic bombs when a large creature surface from the ocean. In 1999, Project Monarch scientists Ishiro Serizawa ( Ken Watanabe ) and Vivienne Graham ( Sally Hawkins ) are both on an investigation, to find out answers to a colossal skeleton, in a collapsed mine in the Philippines. The team find two egg-shaped pods, and it seems one is open, leaving a trail into the ocean. In Japan, at the Janjira nuclear plant, a lot of strange seismic activites is happening. Nuclear plant supervisor Joe Brody ( Bryan Cranston ) send his wife Sandra Brody ( Juliette Binoche ) with a team, to investigate what just happened. But something goes terribly wrong, an explosion occurs, that could leak out radiation to the outside . Sandra beg Joe to close the door, even if she dies, he will save people on the streets. 15 years later, Ford Brody ( Aaron Taylor-Johnson ), is a United States Navy bomb disopsal officer, who visits his father Joe. He can tell that his father will not stop his investigation of what is going on in the Janjira nuclear plant. Joe manage to get Ford to help him, find answers, but they are both arrested and taken inside the Janjira plant. It seems that they have hidden their secrets for all these years, including that they have a colossal winged creature, who manage to escape. Joe is killed, and Ford need to find a way to survive. Finally the truth is out there, but that is not all, Ford is informed another beast is out there, named Godzilla, an ancient alpha predator. But it seems that this creature Godzilla is not attacking the humans, he seems to want to defeat the winged creature. Where does this beast come from, and what is his history ?

Hey kids, i have some great news for you!

Godzilla is back, and just the way we hoped for. This means more cool special effects, epic battle scenes, and much better acting than last time. In fact, some special effects look so great i smiled like a kid on christmas eve. As an example, the San Fransisco scene, talk about a ride you will never forget. Director Gareth Edwards have really tried to bring us a bigger and more powerful story of Godzilla, but he also tries to tell a very emotionally story about human problems, and how we deal with them to go on with our lives. One of the actors that really give us a powerful performance in emotions is Bryan Cranston. I feel that this could be one of his best performances ever, but he have not very long screen time. Elisabeth Olsen is also very good here, she is amazingly talented who take on so many different characters in each motion picture she chooses. Lead actor Aaron Taylor-Johnson does alright, but i feel that he is not the right person to be a lead actor in such a big budget movie like this. Don´t worry though, he do deliver in some scenes, and show us why we should forget Matthew Broderick´s performance in the 1998 version. The ending is actually one of the highlights of Godzilla, you will have to see it yourself to see if you agree. Godzilla have been gone for so long, it was the right time to bring him back. This is a cinema experience for all ages, especially in 3D. Nothing more is needed to be said, run to your nearest cinema and have a great time.

Rating: DDDD

fredag 6 juni 2014


Teenage action movies have always been around, but in many different formations. In the 80´s, we had Red Dawn, with Patrick Swayze, where russian armys invade an american town. I would not call this a great movie, but at the time when i watched it ( i must have been 10 years old ) i thought it was really cool. In the 90´s we got Richard Grieco as a secret agent in If Looks Could Kill. This was actually the only movie he had a major big budget role in, now he can be seen in straight to dvd releases. Moving on to the new century, and in 2008, everything changed with Twilight. This was not a teenage action movie, but had the influences of fitting that type of audience, as well as a different approach in the vampire genre. Personally i did not enjoy any of these movies, because the acting was horrible. Especially in Breaking Dawn Part 1, oh man, i have seen a lot of bad acting, but here you really see why these actors messed up. When The Twilight Saga ended, The Hunger Games took over. And what a big difference, The Hunger Games had much better acting, much better special effects and more stronger dialogue. I suggest you see both movies of The Hunger Games, if you have not had a chance to see them. Divergent is a new teenage action Movie, based on the novel by author Veronica Roth. I have not read any of her novels, so i can not say if the novels are good or bad. But the movie adaption of Divergent, have become a huge box office hit, and movie critics seem positive so far. Is Divergent a promising start for a sci fi action saga, or is this right down there in the drain with Twilight ?

In the future, Chicagos society is divided into five factions: Abnegation (the selfless), Amity (the peaceful), Candor (the honest), Erudite (the intelligent) and Dauntless (the brave). Each person is chosen depending on where they fit in to each category. Beatrice Prior ( Shailene Woodley ) have grown up in the selfless area of Abnegation, where they try and help the poor. Every year 16 year old teenagers undergo a serum-based aptitude test, that will help them decide where they fit in the five factions. A special ceremony will be held, after the results are done. Beatrice also take the test, but the results says she have attributes of several factions (Abnegation, Erudite and Dauntless), meaning she is Divergent. If someone find out, this will put her in trouble, so Beatrice is told by a Dauntless woman named Tori ( Maggie Q ), that Beatrice should not tell anyone, instead Tori register Beatrice as a Abnegation. Beatrice is safe for now, and as the ceremony is on, Beatrice chooses Dauntless, while her brother Caleb ( Ansel Elgort ) choose Erudite. Beatrice get to know 2 new members of Dauntless, Al (Christian Madsen) and Christina ( Zoe Kravitz ), including Will ( Ben Lloyd-Hughes ). All the new members of Dauntless need to be trained, to become prepared of their future. And with the help of initiates instructor Four ( Theo James ), they will be ready to fight for survival. Erudite leader Jeanine ( Kate Winslet ) is preparing to start a war between Erudite and Dauntless, and time is running out.

I will start by saying, Divergent is much better than Twilight, but not as good as The Hunger Games. Since these movies are adaptions from very different novels, i will not compare them. The good surprise is that Divergent is actually a pretty smart movie adaption, with some good acting, especially from leading actress Shailene Woodley. And it is great to see a girl tough as hell, fighting for real, showing that women are not afraid to face danger. Director Neil Burger who also directed the great thriller Limitless, tries to capture the feeling from the novel in his own vision. And he succeeds, in this combination of sci fi action drama, with some heavy issues. Kate Winslet is here, and i like to see her as the evil character Jeanine Matthews. The massive scenery of Chicago looks great, especially when you see how much have changed from the past. So is there anything negative ? Even if i enjoy Divergent for trying something different, i feel that this is more for a teenage audience. I can imagine the novels are written for a certain age category, and you notice that while watching Divergent. But still, this is a good start, and i hope we get more action in the upcoming sequel. If we do, we might have a series of movies that might actually work. I wonder if i can jump between buildings like these teenagers do ? I am going to try it out downtown of Sundsvall, it does not look very hard.

Rating: DDD

söndag 1 juni 2014


If you never heard of the name Jake Gyllenhaal, you really need to drop everything you are doing, and go out and buy Donnie Darko, on dvd or blu ray, as long as you see it. A dark cinematic experience, very odd but still so well made, that you can not stop watching. Jake Gyllenhaal got so much fantastic reviews for his performance, his carreer was just about to explode. Ever since Donnie Darko, Jake continued choosing powerful motion pictures with interesting characters. Does anyone remember Zodiac ? A really good thriller about the Zodiac murders, directed by the very talented director David Fincher. Maybe you watched Prisoners last year in the cinema ? The same director, Denis Villeneuve, is also the director of Enemy. Here he choose to work with Jake Gyllenhaal again, who both worked together in Prisoners, and so far the critics have been very positive to this independent film. With the same director and lead actor working together again, is this another proof of how talented they both are as a team, or is this a let down since Prisoners was such a powerful experience ?

Adam Bell ( Jake Gyllenhaal ) is a college teacher in history . Every day he goes to work, later he goes home and have sex at night time. One day, while he is having a break, a colleague suggest he should rent a movie. The name of the movie is Where There's a Will There's a Way. Usually Adam never watch movies, but he decide to go rent it at a video store. As he watch the movie, he sees a man that looks just like him. He is shocked, and need to find information about who this actor is. He finds out that his acting name is Daniel St. Claire, but his real name is actually Anthony Claire ( Jake Gyllenhaal ). Adam can not stop thinking about this, how is it possible he looks just like this actor ? He decide to try and contact Anthony, as he manage to get his adress from a actor agency. As he calls to Anthony´s home, his wife Helen ( Sarah Gadon ). Helen belive this must be Anthony joking on the phone, because the voice sounds exactly the same as her husbands voice. Adam try to tell her, this is not her husband. Shocked and confused, she confronts her husband about this man calling. Anthony pick up the phone, as he think this must be a stalker. But soon he realise, that he and Adam have the same voice, so they decide to meet and try to figure out how this is possible. Once they meet, both of their lives are about to change, forever.

I am absolutely blown away. Enemy is the best motion picture i have seen for.....a long time. This is a very original motion picture with influences especially from mystery thrillers from the 70´s. The bizarre music, beautiful cinematography, Jake Gyllenhal does one of his best performances since Zodiac. I can not belive Enemy was not chosen to be screened all over Sweden, this proves why Svensk Filmindustri make some really bad choices sometimes. Original motion pictures is exactly what we need on a big screen, they don´t get a chance to find an audience. Director Denis Villeneuve directed one of the best movies of 2013, named Prisoners. Here he is back with a completely different genre, and a very stylish mystery motion picture. I would not say this is as good as Prisoners, but still i feel that Enemy is so original and powerful for us who enjoy independent films. This is not a film for everyone, there are some moments where some people might fall asleep. But, if you love intelligent storytelling with really good acting, this is something you will surely enjoy. Enemy shows that there is still hope for intelligent film making, and director Denis Villeneuve proves once again why he is such a great film maker. Support independent films, buy Enemy in your local video store.

Rating: DDDD