The Lobster (2015) Review

Sam Kench and Tara Hartnett review the 2015 dystopian absurdist drama The Lobster directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, written by Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou, and starring Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Olivia Colman and John C. Reilly.

If you think The Lobster looks interesting you can click here to check it out on Amazon

It’s Such a Beautiful Day (2012) Review

Sam Kench and Tara Hartnett review the 2012 animated film It’s Such a Beautiful Day written, directed, and voiced by Don Hertzfeldt.

There was a professional audio set up for this review done by Brian Hubbard.

Click HERE to watch the review.

 

Brickwall Productions Christmas Special (Cool World review)

This is a Good/Bad/Grindhouse review on Cool World

Escape From Tomorrow (2013)

Escape From Tomorrow is made interesting by the very way that it was shot. Escape from Tomorrow is a feature length film shot almost entirely in Disney World/Land without permission from Disney.  Just the fact that they were able to make this is a crazy thought, even more so that it has received such a wide release, even being shown in theaters and added to Netflix. The spectacle of seeing a dark horror movie filmed in Disney World is the reason to watch it, but the question is; Does Escape From Tomorrow have any depth or entertainment value beyond the production gimmick?

Well sadly the answer is; not really.

The story follows Jim, the father in your typical Disney going family. Jim is a sexual deviant who stalks a pair of young french girls around the park and the mother is nagging and annoying. The two children completely lack any traces of character.

Escape From Tomorrow manages to have fairly good cinematography for a large amount of the film which is especially impressive considering how it was shot, with many real people walking around and the general chaos of the park around them. There are some shots that they spent a very long time planning to achieve. The effort is valiant and doesn’t go unnoticed, but then there are particularly awful looking scenes. There are a handful of scenes that would horrible on their own, and are highlighted more so by the overall nice presentation of the rest of the film. More than one scene has the actors very obviously and poorly green screened into B-roll footage of the amusement park and it does not look passable at all.

Escape From Tomorrow is full of really bad acting. The best acting you can find in this film is passable, while the worst actually comes from the lead actor. He is consistently terrible throughout. By the end of the film I had actual become accustomed to the bad acting and stopped being as distracting, but adjusting to the bad does not make it good.

Escape From Tomorrow attempts to be a creepy screwed up horror film, but largely fails. The “scares” are too few and far between and when they do pop up they often fall flat. The closest the film got to be effective from a horror standpoint was actually the opening credits which managed to provide a genuinely surprising moment, but this one solid moment was cheapened when it was revisited later on in the film, to lesser effect.

The film seems very unsure of the tone that it wants to convey. It presents itself as a cerebral horror film, but then it throws comedic elements at you which don’t mix well. In the end both elements miss their mark and what few moments could have been funny, are muddled and ruined by the confused tones of the movie.

The Pacing is dreadful. Escape From Tomorrow has a meandering plot that kills far too much time following the characters as they walk around the park, go on rides, and do absolutely nothing of any importance. The movie wastes time and feels as though much of it was shot without purpose other than stretching out what probably should have been a 20 minute short film into a feature length film. As a 20 minute short this concept may have actually worked better. A more condensed runtime would have helped Escape From Tomorrow as most of the time it will have you waiting for something to happen, and when it does happen, it will likely disappoint. It also doesn’t help that pretty much all of the set pieces and interesting moments are given away in the trailer.

The gimmick is interesting but the film fails to impress beyond the fact that it actually got made and released the way it was produced. I would only recommend it to those who are seriously interested in the concept of a film shot guerrilla style in Disney world, otherwise definitely stay away. The concept is incredibly intriguing, but a much stronger plot and acting would have been needed to stop this film from being a disappointment.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

kiss kis bang bang

kiss kis bang bagn

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a dark comedy with a strong noir edge mystery about a murderer being pursued by a gay private investigator, a thief mistaken as an actor and his childhood love interest.

Though this movie may be enjoyable to the casual movie going audience, it is especially appealing to those well versed in the medium of film. Film buffs will find great pleasure in this film as it takes the conventions you’ve come to expect and twists them around to great comedic effect. “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” follows a somewhat generic murder mystery plot, but infuses it with genre defying dark comedy at crucial moments to steer the film into unexpected territory with the comedy forming to the point of perfection and hitting its mark every time.

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While the comedy and some of the direction/cinematography stop “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” from being a true hard boiled noir, all the style is still there. The film has a great grasp of the noir style, with a lot of darkly lit sets, many washed over with heavy color as many neo-noirs do.

The music is also excellently noir and it is impressive how the often serious music manages to avoid clashing with the comedic moments that occur simultaneously. The music is all great and genre fitting, until the end credits where they used a horribly unfitting song. I’m one to usually read through the credits of a film if I like it, and the music choice stopped me from doing so. This isn’t a bad mark on the film itself, just a poor decision from the soundtrack department which up until that point had been so great.

The two leads are great. Robert Downey Jr. as Harry Lockhart and Val Kilmer as Gay Perry are both terrific. Each character is well formed, and though the characters never take on the buddy cop formula, they do have good back and forth on screen chemistry which makes the comedy work that much better. The excellent comedic writing is pulled off flawlessly by these two leads. The female lead, Harmony Lane played by Michelle Monaghan, is a different story. The threeactress did a fine job, but the writing of the character does not work to the film’s benefit . The only aspect of the film that didn’t work to me was the romance between Harry Lockhart and Harmony Lane. I really can’t see why she is worth all the trouble or why Harry would even want to be with her, she’s honestly quite a whore.

The film has one of the absolute best narrations of all time from Robert Downey Jr. as his character tells the story while having quite a bit of difficulty. He goes back to parts he forgot, criticizes scenes and gets off topic. All to excellent comedic effect. The film is very self aware which works in its favor and gives a feeling of true originality to the film.

The clever, tightly written script is the main reason to watch the film. “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” is hilarious but also manages to be very cool and stylish with a nice noir tone and even managing to have a pretty damn cool final shootout.
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Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” is a fantastic film. I highly recommend it to all fans of cinema. Anyone looking for a neo-noir, a comedy or even a low octane action film will likely find a good time wrapped up within “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”, it can even work as an alternative Christmas film like “Die Hard” or “In Bruges“.

 

Movie Review: The Wolf of Wall Street

wolf of wallstreet

By Sam Kench

The Wolf of Wall Street” is the latest film to come from master director Martin Scorsese. One of the best American film makers of all time, Scorsese (Fun fact: is on a list of only 50 people banned from Tibet) has delivered some of the best movies ever made, including classics such as “Taxi Driver“, “Raging Bull“, and “Goodfellas“. “The Wolf of Wall Street” looks poised to join the ranks of his classic work in time.

“The Wolf of Wall Street” works as a biopic to tell the story to Jordan Belfort, a drug addled stock broker who works outside of the law. The film relishes in showing his exploits and drug induced mayhem with his team of equally deplorable stock market workers.

“The Wolf of Wall Street” was nominated for 5 Oscars including best actor (for Leonardo Dicaprio) best director, and best picture. Leonardo Dicaprio turns in a fantastic performance with his portrayal of real life ex-fraudster/drug/sex addict Jordan Belfort. Though many scenes in the movie are exaggerated or improvised for the sake of comedic excess, the real Jordan Belfort says that the film accurately portrays the crazed debauchery of his life during the time.

“The Wolf of Wall Street” has been called an epic of excess. An overabundant use of profanity and explicit graphic material and drug use gave this film an element of controversy. Some people find the unabashed blatant depiction of drug use and sexual material to be offensive, but the Wolf of Wall Street wears its offensive elements as a badge of honor. Nothing is held back and everything is put out on display for the audience to interpret it however they wish.

“The Wolf of Wall Street” takes pride in how graphic it is because it reflects the nature of the characters in the film. “The Wolf of Wall Street” has broken the world record for the most “F” words in a movie, a title that has previously been held by other Scorsese films such as “Casino” and “Goodfellas”.

“The Wolf of Wall Street” is a very long movie clocking in at exactly 3 hours, and the rate of profanity averages out to 3 “F” words per minute. If you are someone who cannot handle strong language or graphic depictions of what many would consider to be profane material, then this movie is not for you.

“The Wolf of Wall Street” is hysterically funny. Though it is not a comedy first and foremost, often putting thematic and dramatic elements first, the film manages to be consistently funny throughout. The film sets a very fast pace from the beginning and hardly ever slows down. There was a lot of improv done by the actors as well which contributes heavily to the comedy. The film manages to tell a very good story while being incredibly funny. The film mixes the two genres by having a fully dramatic scene where a character is left by the wife balanced out a scene with Leonardo Dicaprio under the influence of Quaaludes crawling and rolling around on the ground for 15 minutes.

This film is truly hilarious at times, one of the funniest movies of the year, more so than a lot of straight up comedies, and what’s more impressive is that it remains dramatically competent at the same time.

“The Wolf of Wall Street” is a great film, the only complaint I have is that there were some digital effects that really took me out of the movie for a moment. “The Wolf of Wall Street” is full of genuinely funny moments, original set pieces, strong dramatic elements, and great performances. I highly recommend it to anyone who won’t be turned off by the graphic nature of the film. “The Wolf of Wall Street” will surely be remembered as a classic.

Cottage Country Review

Cottage Country

Cottage Country is a movie that I saw a trailer for and then just sort of forgot about until they added it to Netflix. The sole reason I watched this movie was for Tyler Labine from the excellent Tucker and Dale vs. Evil.

This movie seemed to have the same kind of idea, both being dark comedies centering around accidental murder. Was Cottage Country as good as Tucker and Dale VS Evil? No. It’s not that close either. Tucker and Dale is a much better movies all around and it is especially a great deal funnier. That being said I still very much enjoyed Cottage Country.

After watching the movie I was somewhat shocked to see all the negative reviews for this movie. This film has a bad reputation and seems to be getting a lot of undeserved flak. Is this movie perfect? Not at all, but it is not bad by any stretch of the imagination. It’s an enjoyable flick that doesn’t deserved to be labeled as trash as it has been. I’m expecting this movie to actually gain a cult following in a few years.

Let me just say real quick that this movie has one of the worst IMDB pages I’ve ever seen. THIS is the poster they used for the movie

cottage country worst poster ever

What the hell is that?! I could find a better poster for the movie on google images, in fact I will.

cottage country

Okay that’s still pretty bad, but at least it’s a poster this time. Only B movies have posters like this, and really gives the audience the wrong idea about the quality of film they should expect.

Cottage Country tells the story of Todd and Cammie who go to Todd’s cottage so that he can propose. Some unwanted guests lead to Todd and Cammie covering up multiple murders in a very dark comedy. The movie is morbidly funny and mixes the horror with the comedy in a way that not everyone’s pallet will be able to handle. Sometimes the mixing of the two genres is a little uneven, and I would’ve liked a bit more comedy in there, but the movie remains funny enough throughout, to not lose sight of it’s goal. There are standout moments that are very very funny, but the movie would’ve benefited from having some smaller laughs sprinkled in throughout.

The dramatic and horror aspects are surprisingly effective. I love horror comedies, and what usually ends up happening, is that the comedy takes center stage, while the horror is merely a backdrop. Most horror comedies simply use the horror as the setup and fail deliver on actually being frightening. Cottage Country, while never being scary, does manage to competently build tension and even manifest a creepy vibe in a few scenes. The way these different elements are mixed, could have been handled better, but I found that they still worked. These elements work especially well given the excellent acting and the good musical score.

Tyler Labine is great as Todd. He pulls off the comedy and handles the dramatic moments just as well. The cast of characters is surprisingly varied and everyone does their jobs very well. The female lead, Cammie, played by Malin Akerman is great and her character, that at first seems generic, is actually rather interesting. SPOILER Her character actually becomes the antagonist of the film near the end and while the writing on her transition wasn’t particularly good, the actress manages to make it work fairly well. The climax of the film went in an unexpected direction, but I think it works for this particular movie. END SPOILER

The supporting cast all do a very good job. Horror movies in general get a bad reputation as having terrible acting, but that is not always the case. The acting in Cottage Country is good all around. There are some standout characters that manage to be fully developed even though they may only have a couple of scenes. There is a Hasidic Jewish man named Dov who goes all detective on the disappearance of Todd’s brother Salinger who he murdered earlier (Not a spoiler it’s in the trailer). This character is delightfully strange and his outcome is gleefully funny.

The one character I found underdeveloped was the vagrant. He is only seen twice and a little more action from him would’ve been appreciated. There are two other standout character I want to mention. The female cop and Todd’s father both manage to be terribly cool, despite having little screen time. The cop is a bonafide BAMF and really goes out with a bang and Todd’s father might actually be the funniest part of the whole movie when he starts screaming at his wife.

Overall I found Cottage Country to be a thoroughly entertaining film. Despite the direction sometimes being a bit misguided and the different elements getting occasionally crossed the film remains very enjoyable. It definitely could have been funnier, but what we got with Cottage Country is still a satisfying flick, if perhaps a little forgettable. I’d definitely recommend it to fans of the horror comedy subgenre.

Sam’s Movie Recommendation of the Week #3

seven psychopaths

seven psychopathsSeven Psychopaths

Reason to watch

—Great Director Seven Psychopaths was written and directed by Martin McDonagh who has only done two features, but has quickly become one of my favorite directors.

—A great sense of humor. Seven Psychopaths is hysterically funny and it defies convetions.

— Top Ten Seven Psychopaths made the list of my top 10 favorite films of 2012

— It transcends comedy. Seven Psychopaths is very funny but it also manages to have surprisingly profound moments and very deep and complex characters. This is why I’m a big fan of Martin Mcdonagh. Both of his films are funny, and deep.

—The cast. Colin Farrell is at his best when he’s with Mcdonagh. You also get great performances from people like Woody Harrelson and Tom Waits. Colin Farrell stars, but the show is stolen by Christopher Walken and especially Sam Rockwell who are both great in the film/.

CLICK HERE to read my complete review of Seven Psychopaths