Category Archives: Crime

See How They Run (2022) Review

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See How They Run

Time: 98 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Sam Rockwell as Inspector Stoppard
Saoirse Ronan as Constable Stalker
Adrien Brody as Leo Köpernick
Ruth Wilson as Petula Spencer
Reece Shearsmith as John Woolf
Harris Dickinson as Richard Attenborough
Charlie Cooper as Dennis Corrigan
David Oyelowo as Mervyn Cocker-Norris
Director: Tom George

In 1950s London, plans for a movie version of a smash-hit play come to an abrupt halt after a pivotal member of the crew is murdered. When a world-weary inspector and an eager rookie constable take on the case, they find themselves thrown into a puzzling whodunit within the glamorously sordid world of underground theater, investigating the mysterious homicide at their own peril.

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I saw the trailers for See How They Run and I was initially interested in it. It appeared to be another comedy whodunit film and featured an excellent cast, including Sam Rockwell, Saoirse Ronan, Adrian Brody and more. I did end up enjoying it, but I understand the somewhat mixed reviews.

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See How They Run definitely has potential from its premise. The plot focuses on a murder investigation set during a theatre adaptation of a whodunit, and it effectively works as a homage and parody of Agatha Christie’s whodunits. As such, it is very self-aware and references whodunnit tropes and typical stories of the genre. There’s plenty of witty and quirky dialogue, as well as some good humour here. It also benefits from a mostly easy-going and relaxed tone. Unfortunately, like most other parodies, when See How They Run points out cliches and tropes, it ends up using some of those same tropes. It’s a very self-satisfied and overly self-aware movie that does too much winking at the audience, so that could feel a bit grating. It is clear early on that from the writing and the style that it is going for a Wes Anderson feel, especially with the snappy dialogue and quirkiness. Unfortunately, it just feels like an imitation of his films and nothing more. Even the plot wasn’t the exactly the best. It is very formulaic albeit functional, and I wasn’t fully invested in the mystery. At 98 minutes, it was probably the right length for the film.

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The two lead characters of the movie are played by Saoirse Ronan and Sam Rockwell, and they were a great comedic duo and have solid chemistry between them. Ronan is the standout; she was really funny and her performance added a lot to the movie. The film would be lacking a lot without her. Meanwhile, Rockwell feels like he wasn’t given much to do, and mostly works as a contrast to Ronan. On his own, outside of delivering deadpan humour, he was underwhelming and almost drags the movie down. It’s quite possible that he was just miscast here. The talented supporting cast is impressive, however there were only a few standouts like Adrien Brody, David Oyelowo and Shirley Anderson; Brody particularly was memorable in his screentime as the main murder victim. The rest of the cast including Ruth Wilson and Sian Clifford are good but aren’t utilized the best.

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The direction from Tom George is generally solid. The cinematography is nice, and the outfits and production designs definitely take you back to the 1950s. The score from Daniel Pemberton is also great, among the best parts of the movie. Once again though, it feels like much of the film is trying to imitate Wes Anderson’s style (especially seen in the editing), but feels like a half hearted imitation. It’s trying to be quirky and offbeat but it felt hollow like its missing something.

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See How They Run is a decent, quirky, and enjoyable whodunnit comedy, but I wish it was better than it actually was. The mystery was passable but wasn’t that riveting, the overt attempt at mimicking Wes Anderson in the writing and directing didn’t really work, and the underutilisation of most of the cast really hold it back from being as good as it could’ve been. But there’s some good parts. Some of the humour and meta nature of the writing works, the score from Daniel Pemberton is really good, and some of the performances shines, particularly Saoirse Ronan. As a whodunnit comedy, See How They Run may not be among the best (even in recent years), but it is at least fun to watch.

Bones and All (2022) Review

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Bones and All

Time: 131 minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Bloody violence & content that may disturb
Cast:
Taylor Russell as Maren Yearly
Timothée Chalamet as Lee
Michael Stuhlbarg as Jake
André Holland as Frank Yearly
Chloë Sevigny as Janelle Kerns
David Gordon Green as Brad
Jessica Harper as Barbara Kerns
Jake Horowitz as Lance
Mark Rylance as Sully
Director: Luca Guadagnino

Love blossoms between a young woman on the margins of society and a disenfranchised drifter as they embark on a 3,000-mile odyssey through the backroads of America. However, despite their best efforts, all roads lead back to their terrifying pasts and a final stand that will determine whether their love can survive their differences.

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I’ve seen a few of Luca Guadagnino’s movies and I generally like them, mainly Suspiria and A Bigger Splash. I heard that his next movie would be a cannibal love story and star Timothee Chalamet, Taylor Russell, and Mark Rylance. I had a good feeling going in, skipping the trailers and just hearing vague things about it. Having seen it, I think Bones and All is one of my favourite movies of 2022.

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Bones and All is a multigenre movie; it’s a romance, horror, roadtrip and coming of age story. At its core though, it is a love story, a unique one at that. There is a balance between all the elements, it’s deranged and disturbing as you’d expect with the film being about cannibals, yet its sincere and genuine. There is so much beauty in the movie considering its topic, and it manages to be tender and affecting. You get emotionally invested in these troubled characters (really the lead characters). I like the atmosphere and tone and very relaxed approach to the story. It is aimless, but that comes with it being a road trip movie. It is paced well over its 2 hours and 10 minutes runtime, and I never felt bored. If anything, there were characters and elements I wished we got to spend more time with.

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The performances are really great. Taylor Russell and Timothee Chalamet are outstanding in the lead roles. Russell is the standout, she’s in almost every scene and the film is really her story as she is learning about herself. The two share such believable chemistry and deliver an endearing portrayal of young people in love (who happen to be cannibals). They convey their feelings about their lives, and they complement each other wonderfully. The relationship is complex and sweet, it really is the heart and soul of the movie. Mark Rylance is a scene stealer as a cannibal who has limited screentime, but has a notable role and is a memorable presence. He’s eerie yet fascinating to watch. In some ways I wish he was in the movie more but maybe he wouldn’t have been as effective. Still, I wished that he was a constant looming presence throughout. There’s a pretty gap between the first and second times that we see him. There are other actors like David Gordon Green, Michael Stuhlbarg and Chloe Sevigny who play their parts well and leave an impression despite their brief appearances.

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The direction from Luca Guadagnino as expected is amazing. He really does well at capturing the 1980s Middle America time period and setting. The cinematography is gorgeous and makes great use of the different locations, especially with the landscapes. The editing is top notch, and the sound design is perfect. There isn’t a massive amount of gore and violence, but when it is there, it is well done. There is probably less of it than you’re expecting given the premise and is somewhat restrained, but it is nonetheless tense and uncomfortable when its present. Finally, the chilling and somber score from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross is outstanding and added so much.

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Bones and All is a fantastic, riveting, brutal, unique, and beautifully made romantic horror film, with amazing performances, especially from Taylor Russell and Timothee Chalamet. Obviously if you’re not into horror at all and feel squeamish about watching a movie focussing on cannibals, it won’t be for you. Otherwise, I highly recommend it, it is one of my favourite movies of 2022.

Resurrection (2022) Review

Time: 103 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, cruelty & offensive language
Cast:
Rebecca Hall as Margaret
Grace Kaufman as Abbie
Michael Esper as Peter
Tim Roth as David
Director: Andrew Semans

A woman’s carefully constructed life gets up-ended when an unwelcome shadow from her past returns, forcing her to confront the monster she’s evaded for two decades.

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I knew Resurrection as a horror/thriller with Rebecca Hall and Tim Roth, but didn’t know much about it beyond that. It turned out to be really good, and I recommend going into it fairly blind.

While it starts off slow and fairly tame, Resurrection gets continually more disturbing as it as shocking revelations are presented. For a large portion it is difficult to figure out what is happening, and that just adds to the uncomfortable feeling. It is a paranoia thriller and does very well as that; it is frantic, anxiety and stress inducing. It feels uncomfortably grounded and is effectively dark and disturbing. Not a whole lot happens in the second act, but I was locked in and riveted. There are definitely some things in play thematically, including emotional abuse, trauma and gaslighting. I feel like the third act is going to make or break the movie for some. Without going into it too much, whereas the first two acts felt grounded and realistic, the third act goes in a somewhat different direction, which really throws you off. Not only that but the ending itself is vague, ambiguous and has you questioning what you just watched. I respect the ending but not sure I understand it yet.

The movie definitely benefits from its fantastic performances, in fact it feels more performance driven than character driven. Obviously the standout is the lead performance from Rebecca Hall, who is phenomenal here. So much of the movie relies on her and she absolutely delivered, conveying terror, trauma and guilt so effectively. One of the highlight scenes was a nearly 10 minute long monologue which was outstanding. This very well may be Hall’s best performance yet. Tim Roth is great as the scene chewing and menacing villain; even with his small screentime, he’s unnerving in his parts and a strong screen presence. There is a very good supporting cast including Michael Esper and Angela Wong Carbone. However Grace Kaufman was the biggest surprise for me as Rebecca Hall’s daughter, she felt incredibly authentic and helped make the relationship between the two characters feel real.

The film also benefits from strong direction from Andrew Semans. It constantly has a sharp and unsettling tone, helped by the striking cinematography, and the brooding and ominous score from Jim Williams.

Resurrection is a tense, anxiety-driven and unsettling psychological thriller, greatly directed and with excellent performances from Rebecca Hall, Tim Roth and Grace Kaufman. The third act might throw some people off, but I should probably like the first two acts if you enjoy other paranoia thrillers.

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (2022) Review

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Glass Onion

Time: 139 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence & offensive language
Cast:
Daniel Craig as Benoit Blanc
Edward Norton as Miles Bron
Janelle Monáe as Cassandra “Andi” Brand
Kathryn Hahn as Claire Debella
Leslie Odom Jr. as Lionel Toussaint
Kate Hudson as Birdie Jay
Dave Bautista as Duke Cody
Jessica Henwick as Peg
Madelyn Cline as Whiskey
Director: Rian Johnson

Tech billionaire Miles Bron invites his friends for a getaway on his private Greek island. When someone turns up dead, Detective Benoit Blanc is put on the case.

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Glass Onion was one of my most anticipated movies of the year. I loved Knives Out and was happy to hear that writer and director Rian Johnson was making a follow up film with Daniel Craig’s detective character Benoit Blanc returning. With a cast including Edward Norton, Leslie Odom Jr., Kate Hudson and more, I was already on board. It is releasing on Netflix in December, but I managed to check it out during its one week run in cinemas: it did not disappoint.

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Rian Johnson is in full command of his craft here, and he has delivered once again with a snappy screenplay that is sharper and larger than the first movie. It doubles down on the twists, the humour, the social satire and more. It takes a while for the initial murder to take place, but in the time leading up to it, it builds up the tension and suspense very well. It is slower paced, but I wouldn’t say that it dragged. From my first viewing, I thought it was well plotted and hard to predict what was happening with all the twists and turns. The plot itself is a bit complicated with a lot of moving pieces; I need to watch it again to make sure that the story actually makes sense. Knives Out was already a comedy but Glass Onion leans more into that aspect and I thought most of it really worked, and there’s probably plenty of jokes that I missed on the initial viewing. Some of the more prominent criticisms that people had for Knives Out was of the internet and modern day references. Glass Onion has more of that so if that’s an issue you had with the first film, you’ll probably be annoyed at certain aspects here. It didn’t bother me too much, but Johnson really could’ve toned those down. I liked the third act and conclusion of the movie, but I do think that the ending was a little too abrupt.

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Like with Knives Out, Glass Onion has an excellent ensemble cast and they all played their parts greatly. Daniel Craig reprised his role as private detective Benoit Blanc in more of a lead role compared to the first movie, and he’s even better here. We learn more about him, he’s more interesting and once again he is a delight to watch. The new cast of suspects are smaller in number compared to the first movie, but it does make it a little more intimate as you feel the dynamics more and see the relationships between the characters. Edward Norton, Madelyn Cline, Dave Bautista, Leslie Odom Jr. are great in their parts. Kate Hudson was really funny with perfect comedic timing and line deliveries. However, Janelle Monae is probably the stand out and steals the show, one of the most interesting characters here. Some actors are used better than others, Jessica Henwick and Kathryn Hahn did feel a little underutilised, but they are still good. There’s also a lot of unexpected cameos here.

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Rian Johnson returns, and I think his directing work is even better here. Glass Onion is a much larger and exotic movie; the locations are stunning, the production design is solid, and they are showcased well by the cinematography. Its also edited together very well. Nathan Johnson’s score is really good and fits the tone of the movie.   

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Glass Onion was thoroughly entertaining; it manages to be on the same level of the first movie (at the very least), while trying some different things. The script is snappy and the performances from the cast are excellent, making for a highly satisfying experience. Definitely worth checking out if you liked Knives Out.

My Cousin Vinny (1992) Review

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My Cousin Vinny

Time: 119 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1]
Cast:
Joe Pesci as Vinny Gambini
Ralph Macchio as Bill Gambini
Marisa Tomei as Mona Lisa Vito
Mitchell Whitfield as Stan Rothenstein
Fred Gwynne as Judge Chamberlain Haller
Director: Jonathan Lynn

Vinny, an inexperienced lawyer, steps in to defend his cousin Billy and his friend Stan in his first ever trial after they are accused of murdering a convenience store owner.

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I heard about My Cousin Vinny for some time, from what I knew about it, it’s a comedy involving law and has Joe Pesci in the lead role. I become much more interested in checking it out after watching and loving Clue and learning that director Jonathan Lynn also made this film. I didn’t know what to expect and I was pleasantly surprised.

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One thing that I will admit is that the first act is a little clunky. Even within this movie, some of the characters are a little too stupid even for this movie. The humour was also hit or miss, especially with the instances of characters misunderstanding another people (this happens at least twice). Its also more than a bit frustrating to see Vinny (Joe Pesci) fail as a lawyer on a rather cartoonish level. However, at around the halfway point, Vinny suddenly becomes good at being a lawyer, and that’s when it really picks up. This change is very abrupt and sudden but that aside, if you find the movie hard to get through in the first half, just hold out until you get to that point. Overall, it is a very funny movie; while some of the early act jokes are pretty hit or miss, the rest of the jokes land. There are nice little gags throughout which occur plenty of times and actually have a payoff. There are even little details or moments that actually have relevance to the plot later on, like the preparation of grits and Marisa Tomei’s knowledge of automobiles. As for the plot itself, the premise is a bit convenient and the plot doesn’t matter as much, it definitely doesn’t take itself too seriously. Nonetheless it is well crafted, and the trial is decent. One of the things I heard going into this movie is that according to many lawyers, this is one of the more accurate representations of the law. It’s has a funny but also smart and clever script which has an accurate portrayal of courtroom procedure, while having fun with the situations.

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This movie wouldn’t have worked nearly as well without its cast. The characters are larger than life and some of the conversations and exchanges are ridiculous, but they play it so straight that it works and is funnier. Joe Pesci is great and funny as Vinny, the inexperienced lawyer who has to defend his cousin and his friend from death row. It plays to Pesci’s strengths, while also being against type. Marisa Tomei was a scene stealer as Vinny’s girlfriend, and she plays her role perfectly. She particularly gets a monologue towards the end of the movie which was the standout scene from the movie. She also received an Oscar win for this, and it was well deserved. Pesci and Tomei are a great on-screen duo, their chemistry is great, and they play off each other very well, funny yet believable. The supporting cast are all good, including Fred Gwynne, Bruce McGill, Austin Pendleton and more. If there are any weak links, I’d say that Ralph Macchio and Mitchell Whitfield as the accused are rather boring in comparison to everyone else. However, that sort of works in favour of the movie since there’s already so many strong and memorable characters.

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My Cousin Vinny may struggle a little in the first half (particularly in the first act), but it picks up and makes for a thoroughly enjoyable movie. A smart and funny courtroom comedy, well written and helped by its memorable cast and characters, with Joe Pesci and Marisa Tomei being the standouts. Definitely worth watching.

Enola Holmes 2 (2022) Review

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Enola Holmes 2

Time: 129 Minutes
Cast:
Millie Bobby Brown as Enola Holmes
Henry Cavill as Sherlock Holmes
David Thewlis as Grail
Louis Partridge as Tewkesbury
Susie Wokoma as Edith
Adeel Akhtar as Lestrade
Sharon Duncan-Brewster as Mira Troy
Helena Bonham Carter as Eudoria Holmes
Director: Harry Bradbeer

Enola Holmes takes on her first case as a detective, but to unravel the mystery of a missing girl, she’ll need some help from friends — and brother Sherlock.

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I enjoyed the first Enola Holmes movie; It wasn’t anything special, but it was fun for what it was. It probably didn’t need a sequel, but a sequel was inevitable nonetheless, and I think it ended up being better than the first movie.

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The story is a familiar mystery as a simple disappearance story but is overall stronger than the first movie (which 2 years later I can’t remember). I wasn’t initially interested in the mystery at first, but I eventually got on board with it as time went on. They also blended in some true history surprisingly well. It also benefits from the fact that it doesn’t get bogged down by having to establish the origin story of its lead character, and so it can just focus on the central mystery. The writing is sharp and the playful nature of the fourth wall breaks make it entertaining. While fourth wall breaks can be hit or miss, the fourth wall breaks probably work here because they are constant throughout the movie. Sometimes the pacing is a bit slow, and it doesn’t help that the movie is really too long at 2 hours and 10 minutes. For me the length is the film’s biggest flaw; it could’ve been cut down by at least 10 minutes.

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Millie Bobby Brown once again leads the movie greatly as the title character, and she’s even more confident here than she was in the previous movie. As entertaining as these movies are, they wouldn’t nearly be as good without MBB, considering that much of the films are riding on her, and she is very much the key strength of both of them. Henry Cavill again makes for a good Sherlock Holmes and perhaps one that is more light hearted than most people are used to seeing on screen. This time he’s more directly involved with the plot and fits in quite well. She’s not in the movie a ton but Helena Bonham Carter is entertaining in her screentime. The villains are more interesting and entertaining than in the first movie; David Thewlis is particularly scene chewing and having fun in his part.

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Harry Bradbeer returns to direct the Enola Holmes sequel and again has done a decent job at directing; nothing special but it works okay. The editing can be a bit of a mixed bag. Sometimes it is stylish in a good way, but whenever it comes to the ‘action’ scenes, the cuts are very janky.

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Enola Holmes 2 isn’t a great movie; the mystery isn’t that unique, and it definitely is too long. But I can’t deny that I had lots of fun throughout, especially with the good cast led by Millie Bobby Brown. Netflix seems to want to make this a franchise and there will definitely be another sequel for sure, but I’m honestly up for another Enola Holmes.

The Outfit (2022) Review

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The Outfit

Time: 106 Minutes
Cast:
Mark Rylance as Leonard Burling
Johnny Flynn as Francis
Zoey Deutch as Mable Shaun
Dylan O’Brien as Richie Boyle
Simon Russell Beale as Roy Boyle
Director: Graham Moore

Leonard is an English tailor who makes suits on London’s famous Savile Row. He must outsmart a dangerous group of criminals to survive a fateful night.

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The Outfit is a thriller from this year, and all I knew about the movie going in was that Mark Rylance was playing a tailor, that’s it. It turned out to be one of the more surprising and overlooked movies of this year so far.

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The Outfit is a smartly written and engaging whodunnit crime thriller, with a well written and sharp script. It is set in one location and mostly taking place over one night. It is much like an Alfred Hitchcock movie in both setup and execution, in some ways there are comparisons that can be made to Rope. The plot is tightly woven and is very much a slow burn movie, which is very low key and dialogue heavy. With its steadier pacing, it builds up a lot of intensity. At the same time there is an upbeat nature to it, mostly with its snappy dialogue. It does have plenty of twists and while you could figure out some of them before the reveals, they were entertaining and I think that the payoffs were good. The biggest issue with the movie for me was the final 10 minutes. The Outfit does feel like it is very reliant on twists, but at the ends it adds some twists that weren’t really necessary and feels like it was a bit too much. It is a random additional climax that the movie didn’t need. At the same time, it felt like it was always intended to be included in the movie; its just that it was implemented in a clunky way and could’ve been handled better.

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There is a great cast here, and everyone delivers in their roles. Mark Rylance leads this very well as a smart and mysterious tailor who figures his way around the situation that he finds himself stuck in. It’s a very subtle but very effective performance, and one of the highlights of the film. Other actors like Zoey Deutch, Dylan O’Brien, and Johnny Flynn play their parts very well. O’Brien plays a different kind of role than usual, and Johnny Flynn particularly works for this movie as one of the villains.

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The film is directed well by Graham Moore, simple yet very effective. It is very well shot by Dick Pope and makes great use of the claustrophobic location in the tailor shop. There is a notable number of moments where Mark Rylance narrates and while it seemed like it would get grating and repetitive, it actually fits quite well in the movie.

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The Outfit is one of those classic whodunnit thrillers we only get every so often, but wished we had more of nowadays. Outside of the unnecessary and clunky final 10 minutes, its engaging and entertaining, sharply scripted, directly very well, and has a cast of great performances led by Mark Rylance. Definitely check it out, its probably one of the more overlooked movies from this year.

Twin Peaks (1990-1991) TV Review

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Twin Peaks

Cast:
Kyle MacLachlan as Special Agent Dale Cooper
Michael Ontkean as Sheriff Harry S. Truman
Mädchen Amick as Shelly Johnson
Dana Ashbrook as Bobby Briggs
Richard Beymer as Benjamin Horne
Lara Flynn Boyle as Donna Hayward
Sherilyn Fenn as Audrey Horne
Warren Frost as Dr. Will Hayward
Peggy Lipton as Norma Jennings
James Marshall as James Hurley
Everett McGill as Ed Hurley
Jack Nance as Pete Martell
Ray Wise as Leland Palmer
Joan Chen as Jocelyn “Josie” Packard
Piper Laurie as Catherine Martell
Kimmy Robertson as Lucy Moran
Eric Da Re as Leo Johnson
Harry Goaz as Deputy Sheriff Andy Brennan
Michael Horse as Deputy Sheriff Tommy “Hawk” Hill
Sheryl Lee as Laura Palmer and Madeline “Maddy” Ferguson
Russ Tamblyn as Dr. Lawrence Jacoby
Kenneth Welsh as Windom Earle
Creator: Mark Frost and David Lynch

An FBI agent, Dale Cooper, is assigned to investigate the murder of a 17-year old schoolgirl, Laura Palmer, in Twin Peaks.

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Twin Peaks was one of those shows I had been hearing about for a while. It’s a show by David Lynch that seemed to have an significant impact on pop culture and heavy influence on various forms of media following it. It also spawned a movie called Fire Walk with Me, and a revival series called The Return in the late 2010s. I was curious about it and wasn’t sure what to expect from it, or whether I was going to like it at all. Eventually I checked it out and it quickly became one of my favourite shows.

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As discouraging as it might sound, Twin Peaks is something that you’ll have to persist at when watching it. Not that it starts out bad, in fact the first episode is very well handled. Its just that you have to get used to the slower pace, large amount of odd characters and storylines, and the weird tone. Within the first three episodes however, I got on board with the show. The mystery itself is intriguing, initially focussing on the death of a girl named Laura Palmer. There’s a lot that is unclear, not there’s plenty of things aren’t explained, and in some instances you’ll have to theorise an answer or just accept it and move forward. You’ll get used to that eventually though. I found myself being quickly addicted to the show, slower paced as it was. The handling of tone is great, it is strange how weird how well it balanced the grief and camp elements. There is this level of ironic soap opera to it and it is weird in that David Lynch way, yet it is funny with the quirky dark humour. It also does a good job at conveying grief and how people would react to a death. The show takes the time to really focus on the grief and emotional responses of the people who knew Laura. Its very sincere and does this very well. Season 1 is fairly short at 8 episodes, and it is abrupt in how it ends. But at the very least, it gets you on board to check out season 2.

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Season 2 is where a lot of people are somewhat mixed on the show. From what I could tell, at a certain point, original creators Mark Frost and David Lynch becomes less involved with the show, However I liked it for the most part. There’s a lot there that I liked more than season 1, it definitely picks up the pace more. Then after a particularly major episode where a lot of things have been resolved, the movie really winds down and staggers onwards. People who have watched the series know about this section. It stretches the mystery further and adds plenty of plotlines that were hit or miss, some of them feeling like timewasters (one of them not even taking place in Twin Peaks). It felt so weird for this show to become a grinding experience. At a certain point however, it picks up and I became interested again, and it culminates in an incredibly memorable finale. The final episode is one of the most shocking and haunting episodes in a show I’ve seen, especially considering that it ended on the most gripping cliffhanger in a show of cliffhangers.

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There are plenty of memorable and strange characters in this show, too many to list them all. There are definitely some characters who are better than others, some really fall flat and are either annoying or boring. More often than not though, they work, same with the acting. However, the highlight for me and many people is Kyle MacLachlan as Dale Cooper. Watching the first episode, it quickly becomes clear why Cooper became one of the most iconic characters of all time. As the FBI agent looking for who killed Laura Palmer, he’s charismatic, likable, smart, enthusiastic and confident. Even in the show’s lowest points, it picks up whenever he’s on screen. There’s some other great performances, including Sheryl Lee, Dana Ashbrook, and Ray Wise. Even David Lynch gets to make an impression, and he is entertaining whenever he’s on screen.

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Twin Peaks quite strong on a technical levels, everything from the cinematography (even the aspect ratio), environments, locations, use of colour and shadow, all of it really works. I wouldn’t say that the show is strictly horror, but it is definitely a notable part of it. The moments of horror are incredibly effective and creepy. The editing and visuals could be off kilter and quirky or surreal and off-putting. The Black Lodge is an example of everything being made to feel strange. The music is fantastic, Angelo Badalamenti has composed some fantastic themes for the show. From the title theme to Laura Palmer’s theme, all of it is excellent and adds to the atmosphere of the show.

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Some have call Twin Peaks one of the greatest tv shows, and I can’t disagree. Mark Frost and David Lynch has made an iconic show. It is very flawed in parts, some storylines are messy or don’t hold up, and there is a decent chunk in season 2 where the show meanders aimlessly. But I can’t help but love Twin Peaks, flaws and all. The characters, performances, tone, and writing all work together to make a satisfying experience and one of my favourite TV shows.

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986) Review

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Henry Portrait of a Serial Killer

Time: 83 Minutes
Cast:
Michael Rooker as Henry
Tom Towles as Otis
Tracy Arnold as Becky
Director: John McNaughton

Henry (Michael Rooker) is released from prison following his mother’s murder. He supplements his job as an exterminator with a series of indiscriminate and violent murders. Fellow jailbird and drug dealer Otis (Tom Towles) becomes a willing accomplice in Henry’s bloody killings. But as the depravity escalates and Henry forms a bond with Otis’ sister, Becky (Tracy Arnold), things start to get out of hand. The film is based on the true-life story of serial killer Henry Lee Lucas.

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I heard some things about Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. It’s a movie from the 80s where Michael Rooker played the lead role of a serial killer named (in apparently his best role to date), and it was extremely controversial, leading it to be censored and banned in many places. I did hear some positive things about it though, so I decided to check it out. I do think it is good, even though its very much not one I would ever want to go back to

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This movie is essentially the examination and portrayal of a psychopath and serial killer, focussing on protagonist Henry as he kills random people without any remorse or empathy. There doesn’t seem to be a point to these senseless killings, but that in itself seems to be the point. The film doesn’t dig deep into motivations or reasons for the killings, but I thought that it worked for the movie. From the very beginning, it establishes an uneasy tone and never lets up. There is very little humanity here; the only shred of empathy is in the form of a character played by Tracy Arnold. While I found myself locked in watching this movie, I will say that nothing substantial really happens with the plot. It’s a good thing that it is only 83 minutes long then, it might’ve suffered had it been any longer. There are some terrible and poor dialogue at times, but the roughness and rawness of the film’s approach does make it work in way, more so than if it was in a more polished movie. The story culminates with a very dark, bleak and chilling ending that lingers in the mind long after watching.

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The role of Henry is played by Michael Rooker, in what is quite possibly his best performance yet. He is outstanding, compelling to watch and unsettling, with a subtle menace to him. Despite his character being clearly a serial killer, Rooker makes him someone you are willing to follow (at least initially). He makes him more complex, and you are interested in seeing his interactions with other people. Some of the acting from the rest off the cast aren’t that good. However, much like the dialogue, with the tone combined with the realism, it worked.

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This movie is directed by John McNaughton and his work here really made it work. As said before, this film is low budget and it certainly looks like it, throughout it feels very dirty and raw. Its raw and grimy appearance gives it a sense of realism, helped by the 16mm cinematography and the grainy look. It almost makes it look like a documentary riding around with Henry. Additionally, it makes use of real locations and settings that give the story an added sense of realism, only making it more disturbing. Considering that this is a movie about a serial killer, a surprising number of the murders take place off screen and we usually see the aftermath, but they are no less impactful (or perhaps it makes them more impactful that way). The violence feels unsettlingly real with the movie never revelling in it, and the ominous tone and never lets you feel comfortable.

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Watching Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, I can definitely see why it caused such controversy at the time. It is uncomfortable to watch and not for everyone, however I found it a compelling watch, and it is at least admirable with how uncompromising it is. While the writing and direction is very rough around the edges, that helped the movie succeed as well as it did, along with a strong lead performance from Michael Rooker.

The Raven (1935) Review

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The Raven (1935)

Time: 61 Minutes
Cast:
Boris Karloff as Edmond Bateman
Béla Lugosi as Dr. Richard Vollin
Lester Matthews as Jerry Halden
Irene Ware as Jean Thatcher
Inez Courtney as Mary Burns
Director: Lew Landers

A brilliant but deranged neurosurgeon becomes obsessively fixated on a judge’s daughter who in no way wants him. With the help of an escaped criminal whose face he has surgically deformed, the mad man lures her, her father, and her fiancé to his isolated castle-like home, where he has created a torture chamber with the intent of torturing them for having ‘tortured’ him.

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I’ve been meaning to check out some older horror movies, and from looking for some recommendations, I had heard about some overlooked films including The Raven, a movie made around the same time as other known Universal Horror movies like Dracula, Frankenstein and The Invisible Man. The only thing I knew going into it was that it had something to do with Edgar Allen Poe and starred horror icons Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff. It was very hard to track down a copy to watch, but eventually I did and I think it deserves more attention.

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The Raven begins as a sinister noir as Bela Lugosi’s deranged surgeon develops an obsession on a judge’s daughter. Eventually it develops more into a horror movie, especially with Lugosi’s house of torture devices. It has the feel of other Universal Monsters movies but doesn’t have much if any comedy to relieve the tension. It’s a very dark film for the 30s, especially with violence (or even concepts of violence) back then. Eventually it builds to a great and tense final act. The movie is very short at about 60 minutes long, but I think that length worked well enough for this movie.

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The biggest selling points of this movie was the duo of Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, and they were the highlight, it was great watching the two of them together. Karloff plays a criminal who receives surgery from Lugosi’s character and ends up being disfigured. The character wasn’t that interesting, but Karloff manages to effectively convey sympathy for a character you otherwise wouldn’t have any for. However, the standout of the whole movie for me is Bela Lugosi as this mad surgeon, who is obsessed with Edgar Allen Poe and torturing people. He starts off charming yet menacing, and by the end of the film is outwardly raving mad. It’s a very imposing, threatening, and theatrical performance, and he has a great screen presence. Karloff might have top billing, but for me its Lugosi’s movie; he has more screentime and outshines everyone else. There is also a possibility that this is his best performance, even more so than Dracula. I think the weakest part of the movie might be the rest of the cast, who pretty much act like stock B-level horror people being put in dangerous situations. The characters aren’t interesting, and the acting isn’t that good either.

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The direction from Lew Landers is solid. There is a foreboding atmosphere throughout, which only intensifies as the film progresses. It’s well shot and the set design is great. This is mostly to do with Lugosi’s house, which is the setting for much of the movie. Its very gothic and elaborate with the secret rooms, traps, and torture devices. That’s not to say that this movie has dated the best, the worst aspect is probably the makeup to make Karloff’s character look disfigured, it looks really bad, especially a distractingly fake looking eye.

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Although I need to see more, The Raven from 1935 is likely one of the most underrated Universal Monster movies. While some of the technical aspects don’t hold up and the supporting cast and characters aren’t the best, the surprisingly dark atmosphere and tone along with the great performances from Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi make it well worth it. I highly recommend checking it out if you can.