Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Sword of Destiny (2016) Review

Sam Kench and Tara Hartnett review the Netflix made sequel “Crouching Tiger, hidden Dragon: The Sword of destiny” starring Michelle Yeoh and Donnie Yen and directed by Yuen Woo-Ping.


Email: brickwallpictures@gmail.com
Twitter @brickwallfilms

 

Beasts of No Nation (2015) Review

Sam Kench reviews the 2015 Netflix original film “Beasts of No Nation” starring Abraham Attah and Idris Elba and directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga

Review on Youtube

Movie Recommendation of the Week #9

The premise of Point Blank isn’t anything terribly original. A man’s wife gets kidnapped and now he’s trying to get her back. While the film isn’t wholly inventive, it is executed well.

Be aware that this is more of a soft recommendation than usual. Point blank isn’t great or even very memorable, but it is an entertaining french action thriller, that most people probably haven’t seen.

This is not something that you need to go out of your way to watch. It is currently on Netflix, or if you happen across it, then give it a watch. Point Blank is a harmless entertaining movie, and sometimes that’s all you want.

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.

House of Cards Season 2 Episode 1

house of cards SEASON2

By Sam Kench

MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD – YOU’VE BEEN WARNED

So the 2nd season of the Netflix Original TV show “House of Cards” was released on Friday, February 14, 2014 and I figured I’d give a quick review of the first episode. Warning, there are going to be some really big spoilers.

house of cards SEASON2First off let me start by saying that if you have Netflix and haven’t watched the first season yet, I suggest you do. Season 2 starts right off and assumes you’ve seen the first season already, which is a completely fair assumption, but the problem is that you may have watched the first season quite a while ago. At least the first episode of this season would’ve benefited greatly from a quick recap at the beginning.

Kevin Spacey is still fantastic in his role as Frank Underwood and all of the acting is good as well.

This new season certainly doesn’t waste any time getting started Kate Mara actually gets killed off. Frank throws her in front of a train. Did not expect that. They were probably only able to get Kate Mara for one more episode so they offed the character, but regardless its a great way to start with a bang. The show has great theme music, classy cinematography, and fantastic dialogue. There was one scene in the episode that felt a little rushed. The dialogue just didn’t flow at a natural pace like it did the rest of the time.

In the first season of House Of Cards Frank Underwood broke the 4th wall, Malcolm in the Middle style, and spoke directly to the audience. I started to wonder if they cut that element from the new season because it hadn’t shown up yet, but it does eventually make an appearance in the last scene of the episode.

You go the whole episode waiting for him to break the 4th wall and then in the final scene he is looking in the mirror and then his eyes snap to the camera “Did you think I forgot about you? Perhaps it would be better if I had.” They used this to great effect. He gives a cool little monologue and then the camera pans down to his cufflinks with his initials -FU. All of this was very cool and handled perfectly.

This episode was a great start to the season and I have very high expectations for the rest of the season. I really dig the way Netflix does TV and most of the content they have put out has been great. House of Cards, Season 2 is shaping up to be very good.

Kevin Spacey is the King of the “House of Cards” (2013)

house of cards kevin spacey

house of cards kevin spaceyHouse of Cards is based off of a book and a 1990 BBC miniseries of the same name. I have not seen or read either, so my review is solely on the Netflix adaptation.

David Fincher, the incredible director behind Fight ClubSeven, The Gameproduces the show, he also directs the first couple of episodes. David Fincher establishes the style of the show in his first 2 episodes, then other directors take over.

David Fincher directing was about half the reason why I was excited for this show, so needless to say I was disappointed to find out he only did a couple of the episodes. But there is no real problem. The director of “House of Cards” rotates out every couple of episodes, but the style stays largely the same but is inconsistent between episodes. There are some other notable directors who take turns as well. Joel Shumacher (Falling Down) and Allen Coulter (The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire) also each direct a couple episodes.

house of cardsThe star of House of Cards is Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood. He is a really great actor and does not disappoint in House of CardsThe character is very well written and expertly portrayed by Spacey. The character is very deep and serious. The audience can even manage to take him seriously while he does the Malcolm in the Middle aside thing. Yeah, he talks to the camera sometimes, which is a little odd, but it get’s out important exposition and let’s Spacey throw in a few more awesome lines.

house of cardsHouse of Cards is full of great dialogue and lines. My favorite line from the whole show is after a story is told about a fridge falling off the back of a truck and a guy swerving to avoid it. Kevin Spacey says “That’s the difference between me and Freddy. He believes it’s his job to get out of the way of an oncoming fridge. I believe it is the fridge’s job to get out of mine.

The new season of “House of Cards” will be on Netflix starting February 14, 2014.

A quick review of Netflix Original TV Shows

I’m going to do a quick review of some of the Netflix Original TV shows. I give a rating at the end and then I’ll eventually do a much larger more in-depth review for a couple of them.

House of Cards
house of cards

This is an extremely well made show, with impeccable acting and direction. The show has a taut political thriller storyline and crafts a very dark and intense atmosphere.

Kevin Spacey is fantastic as the lead and the show has a number of high profile directors for certain episodes including people like David Fincher and Joel Schumacher. I definitely recommend this show. This is the highest profile and most recognized show on Netflix.

My rating 7/10

Hemlock Grove

hemlock grove

This is the big miss of Netflix programming. I’ve only watched 1 episode of Hemlock Grove and I have no intention of ever coming back to it. That means that the show has failed. The job of a show is to grab the audience and make them care about what happens, and Hemlock Grove failed on that front.

The show feels a bit like a misguided attempt to take from Twin Peaks, with some supernatural, almost Twilight esque elements. The direction and presentation were bad and the cast is horrible. I really cannot stand Famke Janssen. Perhaps the show gets better farther down the line, but if the show fails to hook an audience with it’s big reveal, it has not accomplished what it set out to do. I do not recommend it.

My Rating 3/10

Lilyhammer

lilyhammer

This was the first Netflix show to get a second season. I have seen both seasons and I have to say that I’m a fan of it. It’s not as well known as the other Netflix shows, but it is very good. I

will say that the two season differ greatly in terms of pacing and tone, but I’ll talk more about that in my full review. The style of the show is a great mix of picturesque slow mystery, and Italian gangster flicks.

Lilyhammer is about a mobster who gets relocated to Norway and basically starts up his own crime family in the town of Lilyhammer. Steven Van Zandt is fantastic as the lead and all the supporting characters are great. The show manages to tell intriguing stories and be very funny at the same time. It takes a little while for the show to really find it’s footing, but once it’s gets into it’s groove, it is a very entertaining show. I highly recommend it.

I believe that House of Cards is a stronger show technically, but I honestly had a better time with Lilyhammer. It might be less glossy, but it sure is a good time.

My Rating 6/10

Orange is the New Black

orange is the new black

I did not expect much going into this show. I knew it was by the creator of weeds, Jenji Kohan, but that didn’t really push my expectations one way or the other. I was skeptical to be sure. Weeds started out as a great show, but really fell apart by the end.

I went into this show with very low expectations, and was very impressed. I really got hooked and I watched the whole show in just a couple of days. I’m really not a fan of Jason Biggs, but I’ll admit that he was okay on this show. I was happy to see Laura Prepon on a show again after That 70’s Show. The entire supporting cast is fantastic.

There are a lot of characters on this show. There are so many that it seems like they would be shallow and boring, but this is handled fantastically by giving almost all of the prisoners their own flashbacks which tell their stories and why they are in prison. These flashbacks are surprisingly well handled and the stories are all unique and intensely intriguing. The stories are spread out through the episodes and after viewing one on a specific character you can really connect to that character more.

This show is a great comedy, but it also manages to be a compelling drama at the same time. A balance that Weeds had a hard time nailing, but Orange is the New Black hits right on the head. The longer episode times also help the pacing. I liked Orange is the New Black a whole lot more than I expected to.

The promos really did not do this show justice at all. It really impressed me and I definitely think it’s better than even the best season of Weeds, I just hope it maintains that quality throughout the show’s lifespan. I definitely recommend it.

My rating 8/10

Jesus was the original zombie

Bruce Campbell as Ash in the evil dead

Bruce Campbell as Ash

Easter is the day when we celebrate Jesus Christ rising from the dead. So what better way to spend the day than having a tasty brunch followed by a Zombie movie marathon?

Our Easter Sunday Zombie Movie Marathon included:28 Days Later – The first zombie movie with fast zombies. As if zombies weren’t scary enough already.

Now I’m really wanting to watch 28 Weeks Later again. The opening scene of both movies really sets the tone. Memorable and mind blowing.

***

The cult classic Army of Darkness

Sam loves these Evil Dead movies. Me, I can only take so much hokiness, but damn Bruce Campbell is a piece of boomstick carrying hotness in this film.

***

The Cutest Zombie movie you will most likely ever see is Fido 

I put off watching this on Netflix for the longest time because the write up was horrible and the pic of Fido gave me the creeps. But, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised and really did say out loud to Sam “That’s the cutest little zombie movie I ever did see”. Yes, the response to my comment was a face palm and groan.

***

Rounding out the marathon is my favorite zombie movie of all time Shaun of the Dead!!!

I can not express enough how much I love the Simon Pegg and Nick Frost marriage of comedy genius.

 

Creep (2004) Macabre month of horror #8

creep macabre month of horror

I’m not entirely sure why, but when I see the poster for this movie, I can’t shake the feeling that theHuman Centipede is the hand inside the train car. Am I the only one who see’s that? 

This is the most solid film in the collection. It is the only one that I feel can actually be taken seriously as a horror film. I actually thought that ‘Creep’ was damn good!

The setting for Creep isn’t completely original for a horror film, but works very well nonetheless. The film takes place in a subway station, but that isn’t the only location. There are a few other interesting locations. The locations and the way they are discovered kind of reminds me of a survival horror game like Silent Hill or Resident Evil. From the subway we find a great set with cages over water pits, and a very creepy laboratory. All of the locations are well designed and perfectly creepy. I also want to note that the lighting is very good. I know the lighting may not seem too important to a lot of people, but the lighting adds to the creepiness in a very good way.

The main cast is pretty small. For the most part we follow this one girl. The characters aren’t too deep, but there isn’t anything inherently wrong with them, and they work just fine for the purpose of the plot.

The villain is actually really good. He has a very good design, and his acting is great. It’s very easy to overlook a performance like this but I think it’s worth noting. He is very creepy,not just  in the way he looks, but also how he stands and walks. He doesn’t speak but let’s out this high pitched screeching/crying kind of sounds. In a delightfully creepy scene in the laboratory we get just a little bit of back story on the character. The way the information is given is very well done as well. All the information from the scene is conveyed visually, through what we see in the scene,and how we see the main actress react.

The movie does a great job at building suspense. With a movie like this, I had no idea what I was in for. The movie really unfolds at a good pace, escalating evenly throughout. They keep you unsure of what exactly is happening for a good part of the movie. You don’t even see the villain for a very long time, and when you do it’s only like an arm at first. You see aftermath, and small pieces of him, until you get the big reveal.

This is actually a really good horror movie. The plot is nothing outstanding, but the directing sells it. This is a very well crafted horror film. It is currently on Netflix instant streaming. I definitely recommend checking it out.

The rest of the films on the DVD collection are so bad they’re good. This one is just damn good.

 

Following (1998) Neo-noir month part 1 of 3


Following is a Neo-noir film written and Directed by Christopher Nolan. Christopher Nolan is a well known director now, but Following was his first feature film. He is most well known for The Dark Knight and Inception.

I think ‘Inception‘ is horribly over rated. I don’t think that it is a bad movie but people say that it is the best ever made, and that is a gross overstatement. “Inception” is a movie that I need to watch again, maybe I missed something.


The Dark Knight is a good movie. The best batman movie ever made, but I still think that it is a little over rated. There are large scenes that are useless and should have been cut from the movie. The movie needed about 30 minutes trimmed out of it in my opinion. I didn’t really like “Batman Begins” at all. I do however think that his movie “The Prestige” is very good, I will be doing a review of that movie at some point.

Now on to the “Following”. Despite thinking that Christoper Nolan is very over rated, I still think that he is a good director. I only watched “Following” because Christopher Nolan directed it, and because Netflix told me it was like “Pi” (The next movie I’m going to review for Neo-noir month). “Following” stars Jeremy Theobald, who has pretty much only worked with Nolan. The other star is Alex Haw, who has only been in this one movie. The movie is told out of order, and can be a little hard to “follow”.

The main character goes through a complete appearance change, his hair, clothes, everything change. Later on in the movie after it jumps between the time frame a couple of times they explain that he changed his appearance for a specific reason. before that part happened I wasn’t actually sure if it was the same actor or just one that looked very similar. The same character also gets horribly beaten, and that is almost another completely different look.

He gets horribly beat up in a fight between him and Alex Haw. The fight is completely pathetic. The actors are just not good at “movie fighting”. It ends up looking silly and really pulls you away from  the serious tone.

I really did not like the female character. Maybe it was the actress, or the way she was written, but I really didn’t care about what happened to her and found any scene with her boring. The other two characters are okay.

The movie had an idea that I really liked, but would have liked to have seen done differently or expanded upon. The idea of breaking into people’s homes, not to steal stuff but to just to interfere with the lives of the owners. “You take it away to show them what they had.” I like the message behind that quote. The fact that people don’t know what they have until it’s gone, people take so much for granted. I would like to see this idea in another movie. I might use this theme myself.

The title “Following” comes from what the main character likes to do, follow people. This is another interesting theme. he followed them, not to attack them or stalk them, but just to see where they go and what they do. When he started he would just pick a random person that looked interesting and follow them. He would never follow the same person twice. He breaks his rule and trouble happens. The idea of following is interesting but just like the robbery I feel it could have been expanded upon. It seems like the part that inspired the title is kind of lacking.

I really like the ending. The whole story wraps up very nicely and things come full circle. The ending is not really a twist but a jump. The ending made the movie worth watching in my opinion.

“Following” is an okay movie that has some really good things going for it. But, not worth going out of your way to watch.