Category Archives: Drama

After Yang (2022) Review

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After Yang

Time: 96 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Coarse language
Cast:
Colin Farrell as Jake Fleming
Jodie Turner-Smith as Kyra Fleming
Justin H. Min as Yang Fleming
Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja as Mika Fleming
Haley Lu Richardson as Ada
Director: Kogonada

When his young daughter’s beloved companion, an android named Yang malfunctions, Jake searches for a way to repair him. In the process, Jake discovers the life that has been passing in front of him, reconnecting with his wife and daughter across a distance he didn’t know was there.

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After Yang was one of my most anticipated films of this year. A couple of years ago, I watched Columbus and was very surprised, it was incredible and lingered in the mind long after watching. Naturally I was interested in what director Kogonada would make next. Finally his next film is here, this time a sci-fi movie starring Colin Farrell. His sophomore feature is released about 5 years after his debut movie, but the wait was well worth it.

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After Yang is a very contemplative and meditative movie, and such it really takes its time, especially at the beginning. It might turn off some people who aren’t interested in a slow burn, but I was invested in everything that happened. Despite being set vaguely in the future, much of the setting is kept vague, and it is deliberately focused in telling an intimate story. It uses advancements like robots to help to serve the story, and not necessarily be the focus. Essentially, After Yang is a movie about coming to terms with a potential death in the family. There’s a lot that can be taken from this movie. Without providing the context in the plot I can say that a major part involves memory and losing time. With it involving robots, unsurprisingly it is a movie about what it means to be living the life of a human being and to be alive, but also what it means to be in a family. It even covers adoption and racial identity. After Yang is a very thought-provoking film, especially with the conversations between characters. Its very bittersweet, yet tender and heartfelt, and it sticks with you long after watching. There are some issues I had, even though I liked how it ended, it felt a little abrupt. There is also some corporate conspiracy subplot that was introduced during the movie, but it doesn’t amount to anything. It might’ve been intended as a bit of worldbuilding, but this surveillance part came up more than a couple of times that it distracted a little bit.

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The cast are all great, everyone gives such convincing performances. Colin Farrell is the main focus of the movie and is the standout. This is some of his best work, very subtle yet very powerful. The rest of the cast playing the family are really good, Jodie Turner-Smith, Malea Emma Tjandreawidjaja, and Justin H. Min as Yang the robot. Haley Lu Richardson is also great in her small but notable part.

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As I said earlier, the main reason I was interested in After Yang was its director Kogonada. His work on Columbus was fantastic, and once again he delivers here. Like with Columbus it has a very calming and dreamlike atmosphere, and the cinematography is outstanding and stunning, with some aesthetically pleasing visuals especially with the production design. It’s incredibly edited, especially in the way that they portray memories. Finally, the soundtrack from Aska Matsumiya is beautiful and entrancing, perfectly accompanying the relaxed and mediative vibe of the movie.

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After Yang is another fantastic movie from Kogonada. A mediative, intimate, existential yet beautiful reflection on life, loss and humanity. Its visually stunning, directed incredibly, and made even better with the powerful performances from the cast. I highly recommend watching it if you haven’t already, it’s one of my favourites of this year thus far.

Decision to Leave (2022) Review

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Decision to Leave

Time: 138 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence, offensive language, sex scenes, suicide & content that may disturb
Cast:
Tang Wei as Seo-rae
Park Hae-il as Hae-jun
Director: Park Chan-wook

A detective investigating a man’s death in the mountains ends up meeting and developing feelings for the dead man’s mysterious wife in the course of his dogged sleuthing.

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Park Chan-wook is one of my all time favourite filmmakers and I was excited to see him direct another movie, especially since its been 6 years since his last movie (the excellent The Handmaiden). He did not disappoint with Decision to Leave.

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On paper, Decision to Leave looks like a very standard police procedural thriller, the he plot following a detective investigating the death of a man and his mysterious wife. Surprisingly though, its more of a romance, its almost like a Wong Kar-wai film if it was made by Park Chan-wook. I loved the first half, I was engrossed and intrigued with the story. Its filled with detailed clues, deceit, and is layered with important subtleties. That mostly comes down to the central relationship that is unconventional and weird, yet incredibly compelling, and one which I was wrapped up in. The movie isn’t without its issues. Unfortunately, around halfway into the movie (without spoiling anything), there is a notable shift in the story, and I became less invested. There are points where the plot could also get a little too convoluted, more so in the latter part of the story. It’s a film that is deliberately paced across its 2 hours and 20 minutes, it was very appropriate and allowed things to naturally develop, especially with the central romance. However, I found that it could drag in parts (mainly the second half), and there are parts of the movie which could’ve been tightened a little bit. That being said, the film does end on a great and memorable note.

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All the actors play their parts well, but it really comes down to the lead characters played by Tang Wei and Park Hae-il, both of whom are excellent. Their relationship is what kept me invested throughout the film; there is a lot of intimate tension between the two, and you feel that every gesture, glance and action are significant. The relationship felt believable, and the two definitely played a big part in the movie working as well as it did.

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As to be expected, Park Chan-wook’s direction is phenomenal, and Decision to Leave is fantastic on a technical level. The cinematography is spectacular, and the visuals are alluring and vivid. Whether it is showing a mountain, an ocean, or anything else, it captures them beautifully. The camerawork is very creative and inventive, especially with its movement and focus. It is already one of the best shot movies of the year. The editing is energetic and fantastic too, with some particularly outstanding and smooth shot transitions. On top of all those is a hauntingly beautiful score from composer and frequent Park Chan-wook collaborator Jo Yeong-wook, which fits the film perfectly.

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Decision to Leave is another fantastic film from Park Chan-wook. There are some issues I have with it, the second half particularly brings down the movie from being on the level of some of his very best movies. That’s a little disappointing, because everything else is amazing. It is stunning to look at, Park’s direction is outstanding, and for all the faults in the story, the central relationship is compelling and is performed beautifully by Tang Wei and Park Hae-il. Decision to Leave is not to be missed, and it is already one of the best movies of the year.

The Punisher (2004) Review

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The Punisher (2004)

Time: 124 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1]
Cast:
Thomas Jane as Frank Castle/Punisher
John Travolta as Howard Saint
Will Patton as Quentin Glass
Rebecca Romijn as Joan
Ben Foster as Spacker Dave
Roy Scheider as Frank Castle Sr.
Director: Jonathan Hensleigh

After his wife and family are murdered by a gang of ruthless criminals, special agent Frank Castle takes it upon himself to hunt down and punish the criminals responsible for his loss.

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The Punisher has had many on-screen adaptations, I was only familiar with the Netflix version starring Jon Bernthal, as well as 2008’s Punisher: War Zone starring Ray Stevenson. There are also two other known adaptations of The Punisher, one in 1989 with Dolph Lundgren, and another in 2004 starring Thomas Jane. I heard mixed things about both, but nonetheless I decided to check out the latter, and I enjoyed it in spite of its flaws.

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The first thing to note about The Punisher is that it was made in the earlier years of comic book movies, and was a Marvel movie before the MCU was a thing. It feels like a movie first, and a comic book movie second. That in itself is something to appreciate especially with the MCU today. If you went into this movie without knowing its comic book source, it would work perfectly fine as an action movie. That being said, one of the big issues is that the tone is all over the place with what its aiming to be, and it is a weird mix overall. A big aspect about The Punisher character is that he’s meant to show the dark side and consequences of being a vigilante, this movie skips that in favour for a revenge fantasy. Not to say that there aren’t attempts at showing depth, the initial tragedy that the protagonist experiences is treated very seriously. However it just doesn’t go deep enough it is clear that it is more focused on the revenge. It is indeed very dark (as were most comic book movies released in the 2000s), but some o the nihilism is played so straight that it become unintentionally funny. At the same time, a lot of the movie feels like its aiming to be throwback to the B-level revenge thrillers of the 70s, the source material seemed to be pulpy, and there’s plenty of moments throughout the film where it goes for that. It also has goofy dialogue and one liners alongside the brutal violence. However, it even suffers as a revenge thriller, especially with how cliched and routine it feels. Another thing holding this movie back is that whatever way you’re reading the movie, the story is a bit dull. The overall length is over 2 hours and it’s a bit too long for this movie. The story and characters aren’t that interesting or given enough depth, so there are moments where you are just waiting for the action to appear again.

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Thomas Jane is the thing most remembered about this movie, as he plays Frank Castle/The Punisher. I still prefer Jon Bernthal’s version of the character, but Jane is good here and one of the highlights of the movie. We see Castle start off fairly light hearted towards the beginning, and then becoming cold and calculating when he becomes the Punisher. That being said, I feel like he doesn’t get much chance to show his Punisher off. The character isn’t that interesting here, and he doesn’t have much personality outside of brooding and seeking revenge. Still, Jane plays his part well. Something that would keep the movie exciting is by having the Punisher go up against an over the top and memorable villain. The main antagonist in this movie is Howard Saint, a mobster who is responsible for the death of Frank Castle’s family, and he is played by John Travolta. However, this character and performance are the most disappointing parts of the whole movie. You’ve seen this type of mobster villain in plenty of other action movies and nothing about this version is remarkable. The idea of Travolta playing him had potential, and had he brought some of his manic energy from his previous on screen villains like in Face/Off or Broken Arrow, it would’ve really made the movie more fun to watch. Weirdly though, Travolta plays things so straight to the point of it being emotionless and dull, and he doesn’t even succeed in being convincingly menacing. There are some other actors who are generally good, including Laura Harring, Ben Foster, Rebecca Romijn and Roy Scheider, with Will Patton as Travolta’s henchman being the standout.

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This is Jonathan Hensleigh’s first movie, and while his directing can be a bit of a mixed bag, it is a decent debut. On a technical level it is solid, if unremarkable. While the editing can be a bit shaky, on the whole there are some good action scenes. This is definitely an R rated movie, and that works to its advantage. This is a very violent Punisher movie, and they definitely deliver on the brutality. In some ways it feels like the R rated action movies of the 90s, and if that’s what they were going for, they succeeded.

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2004’s The Punisher is far from being one of the best comic book movies or one of the best adaptations of the character. The writing is unremarkable, the story is dull, and the tone is confused. However, I still enjoyed it; I appreciated the different tone compared to the comic book movies of today, the action is entertaining, and Thomas Jane is pretty good as The Punisher. It’s an above average action thriller which is mostly forgettable, but I’m glad I saw it.

Three Thousand Years of Longing (2022) Review

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Three Thousand Years of Longing

Time: 108 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence, offensive language, sex scenes & nudity
Cast:
Idris Elba as the Djinn
Tilda Swinton as Alithea Binnie
Director: George Miller

A lonely and bitter British woman discovers an ancient bottle while on a trip to Istanbul and unleashes a djinn who offers her three wishes. Filled with apathy, she is unable to come up with one until his stories spark in her a desire to be loved.

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Three Thousand Years of Longing was one of my most anticipated movies of 2022. While it already had Tilda Swinton and Idris Elba in the lead roles, the main reason I was excited is that it’s the newest film from George Miller, who last directed the incredible Mad Max: Fury Road 7 years ago. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from his upcoming movie. The premise seemed a bit vague and simple, and the trailer didn’t really convey much except for its strong visuals. Still, I was curious enough to check it out, and I’m glad I watched it.

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First of all, Three Thousand Years of Longing is nothing like the trailer. It showed the basic premise and there are certainly some crazy visuals, but that’s not the nature of the movie. Its not a bombastic spectacle, and its certainly not as chaotic and fast paced as it appeared in the trailers, nor is it as thrilling compared to Miller’s last movie. In fact, it is more of a subdued, endearing and existential fairy-tale love story for adults. The plot and storytelling is more straightforward than you might think it would be. For the most part, this movie surrounds a conversation between Idris Elba’s djinn genie and Tilda Swinton, as he offers her 3 wishes and recounts stories from his past. It is a sincere thought provoking character study about stories (and the importance of them), and a meditation on life, love, and desire. The movie has a lot of narration, and while it can be hit or miss in movies, it fits here given that characters are actually telling stories here. Its very dialogue heavy as you would expect, and I found the conversations between Elba and Swinton to be compelling. In the opening 10 minutes, I wasn’t really sure about what was happening with the story or what direction it is going in. However, it picks up the moment that Idris Elba comes out of the bottle. The third act is a bit out of place from the rest of the movie, it stumbles a little and the pacing is weird. While I was satisfied with the movie, I couldn’t help but feel like it could’ve been longer. Perhaps it was originally longer and was cut down for the theatrical cut, an hour and 50 minutes does feel a little short. Part of that is that it feels a little rushed towards the end, even though I enjoyed it.

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As for acting, it really comes down to the lead performances from Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton, both of them are great. They are genuine in their parts, and I like the relationship that they form. I will say however that I wished we got to learn more about Swinton’s character. At some points she talks about her life, but not a great amount, and it particularly pales when compared to all the stories that Elba tells of his very long life.

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George Miller directs, and once again his work is incredible, very stylish and creative. He already showed this in Mad Max: Fury Road, but he really is a master of visual storytelling. There are some spectacular sequences, and it was great to experience this in the cinema. The camerawork and cinematography are sweeping and amazing, and the visuals are stunning. There is also so much care put into the set decoration and designs. There is a lot of CGI in this, and sometimes is looks great. At other times however, it looks a bit weird, almost like it’s unfinished. The score from Tom Holkenborg is amazing, and some of his very best work.

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Three Thousand Years of Longing is definitely rough in parts, some of the CGI is a bit dodgy, and parts towards the second half do feel a bit awkward, and it could’ve afforded to have been a little longer. It is also definitely not for everyone, as can be seen with the disappointing box office. It wasn’t helped by the poor marketing, but then again, its not an easy movie to sell to audiences. It’s a shame because it’s the kind of film that we don’t get a lot of nowadays; director driven, sincere, and not afraid to be creative, weird or different. With Three Thousand Years of Longing, George Miller has created a $60 million arthouse movie. The story is genuine and compelling, Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton are great, its visually beautiful, and Miller’s direction and craft are on full display here. I know its not for everyone, but I do think its worth checking out. One of the most surprising movies of 2022.

Spiderhead (2022) Review

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Spiderhead

Time: 106 Minutes
Cast:
Chris Hemsworth as Steve Abnesti
Miles Teller as Jeff
Jurnee Smollett as Lizzy
Director: Joseph Kosinski

Two inmates form a connection while grappling with their pasts in a state-of-the-art penitentiary run by a brilliant visionary who experiments on his subjects with mind-altering drugs.

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Spiderhead didn’t receive the best reception when it released on Netflix, but I was curious to check it out. The premise and trailer did look interesting, most of all however is the fact that Joseph Kosinski helmed it, and earlier he delivered the especially great Top Gun: Maverick this year. So I went into it open minded and came out pleasantly surprised, even if it could’ve been a lot better.

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First of all, I liked the idea of this dystopian sci-fi thriller premise which definitely had potential, with it focussing on a prison with convicts having mind altering drugs tested on them. Spiderhead is a slow burner and doesn’t move quickly, but it was intriguing enough to me; there was always something that had me interested in seeing how everything would play out, and it was playing. Also, I liked that it was goofier and weirder than expected, it gave the movie an off kilter personality. That being said, the writing is the weakest part of the movie. For all its ideas and potential, it could’ve been so much more. It felt like the script was undeveloped and needed a lot more fleshing out. It definitely plays around with some thought provoking ideas, but doesn’t do much with them. It feels like it could’ve been made as an hour long Black Mirror episode, or feature length if there were a few more rewrites. The characters are well acted, however they aren’t that interesting outside of maybe Chris Hemsworth’s character. At a certain point form the third act to the ending, it just really falls off with no effective thrills. It seems to give up on taking any of its themes anywhere interesting and rushes towards a very predictable and safe climax.

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The acting is one of the best parts of the movie. Miles Teller delivers some really good work in his second collaboration with Joseph Kosinski this year, here playing the protagonist. The rest of the cast are also solid including Jurnee Smollett, although her character is unfortunately underutilised despite playing a notable part in the movie. However out of all of them, Chris Hemsworth is the standout in a rare villain role; his natural charisma is utilised incredibly well, and the movie lights up whenever he appears on screen. This is one of his best performances, and between this and Bad Times at the El Royale, I would like to see Hemsworth more in these types of different roles because he’s great at it.

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Joseph Kosinski’s last sci-fi movie was 9 years ago with Oblivion, so it was nice to see him to return to the genre with Spiderhead. Overall his direction is very solid. The cinematography is strong, and the production design works with the futuristic interiors, as well as the remote island that it takes place on. The sound design is effective too, its strong on a technical level. The score from Joseph Trapanese adds a lot to the movie, and the soundtrack on the whole really adds personality to the tone of the movie.

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Spiderhead isn’t one of Joseph Kosinski’s best, in fact its probably his worst movie yet. That being said, there’s a lot that works here and I probably like it more than most people. The actors are really good in their parts, especially Miles Teller and Chris Hemsworth, and Kosinski’s direction is solid on the whole. There’s even some tense and enjoyable moments throughout, and I like some of the ideas here. It’s just that the story and script needed a lot more fleshing out to really work, and feels subpar when compared to the other much better sci-fi movies that it is taking from. Still, I’m glad that I watched it.

Air Force One (1997) Review

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Air Force One

Time: 124 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] 
Cast:
Harrison Ford as President James Marshall
Gary Oldman as Egor Korshunov
Glenn Close as Vice President Kathryn Bennett
Wendy Crewson as First Lady Grace Marshall
Liesel Matthews as Alice Marshall
Paul Guilfoyle as White House Chief of Staff Lloyd Shepherd
William H. Macy as Major Norman Caldwell
Dean Stockwell as Defense Secretary Walter Dean
Director: Wolfgang Peterson

The president of the USA is returning home from Moscow when his plane, Air Force One, is hijacked and he finds himself in a do-or-die hostage situation.

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Air Force One is one of the most over the top action movies from the 90s and that’s saying a lot. It is far from the peak of 90s action but it is entertaining for what it is.

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Air Force One is very much a silly action flick from the 90s. The storytelling wasn’t the best, the motivations of the villains aren’t that well thought out. The plot is also very cliché, it boils down to Die Hard on a plane, its shameless even. Just replace a hotel with a plane and John McClane with the President of the United States. A lot of the tropes of the genre are recycled here. Its just as well that it has the right tone, it is very cheesy especially with how over the top patriotic it is. Thankfully it is very self aware, almost bordering on self parody at times. There are some really silly and wonderful moments including the one liners; ay movie where Harrison Ford as the president says “Get off my plane” was going to be at least somewhat enjoyable. I will say that it is a bit overlong at 2 hours long, it could’ve been a little shorter. Still it very rarely dragged, and it is consistently entertaining throughout.

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Harrison Ford made for a convincing action lead star and is reliably good here as the President of the USA. Gary Oldman made for a very fun villain, delivering a wonderful hammy performance. The character isn’t good, he’s quite generic, and his plan is silly. However, Oldman makes it work, or at least fun to watch. The acting from the rest of the supporting cast including Glenn Close is decent, but don’t quite come close to Ford or Oldman.

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Wolfgang Peterson did a good job directing this, it is well crafted. The visual effects are a bit outdated and overused, especially the external plane shots. The action is entertaining, well shot, and quite fun to watch. The score from Jerry Goldsmith is bombastic and over the top 90s, but it suits this movie.

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Air Force One is not one of the best action movies, not even when you limit it to just the 90s. The plot isn’t the best, the characterisation is flawed, and it is very derivative of other action movies. However, the cast are solid especially Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman, the action is entertaining, and the plot is simple and silly enough. So it’s worth a watch if you haven’t seen it already.

Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (2013) Review

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Ain't Them Bodies Saints

Time: 126 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
Rooney Mara as Ruth Guthrie
Casey Affleck as Bob Muldoon
Ben Foster as Patrick Wheeler
Keith Carradine as Skerritt
Rami Malek as Will
Charles Baker as Bear
Nate Parker as Sweetie
Director: David Lowery

A man (Casey Affleck) takes the fall for his lover’s (Rooney Mara) crime, then four years later breaks out of prison to find her and their young daughter, who was born during his incarceration.

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I was initially interested in Ain’t Them Bodies Saints for the talent involved, especially with a cast that included Rooney Mara. I went in knowing nothing aside from this and the initial premise, and I quite liked it, even if the writing wasn’t anything special.

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At its core, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints is a poetic and melancholic crime drama. The story is predictable, simple and a bit cliched, the characters are archetypical and nothing special. Its very loose with the plot, and for the most part it doesn’t really land as hard emotionally as it was intending to. It is a slower paced movie, often meandering and particularly dragging in the second act. Not everything is explained, and much is left up for the viewer to interpret, very much high on atmosphere and low on explanation, but I kind of respect that. There is a melancholic and sad vibe that is effectively conveyed throughout. There is very little time spent on the actual romance between the lead two characters; we get early scenes with the couple together before they are separated and then there’s a time jump. After this point, for most of the runtime, they aren’t on screen together. Instead, much of the film is them yearning for each other and I thought that was effective. While the movie on the whole doesn’t succeed entirely, there are some powerful character moments.

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Much of what made the movie work as well as it did was the cast. Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara deliver great and powerful performances as their characters, they shared convincing chemistry together, which is important since much of the movie relies on their connection, and they have limited scenes together. Ben Foster, Keith Carradine and more also worked well in supporting parts.

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David Lowery’s direction was one of the strongest elements of the movie, I liked his style and handling of the movie. This film is beautifully shot by Bradford Young, with great use of natural lighting and really captured the locations and settings. There is also a great score from Daniel Hart which fitted the melancholic tone of the movie. Ain’t Them Bodies Saints really reminded me of Terrence Malick’s earlier movies, especially with the cinematography and locations, along with the fairly plotless approach.

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Ain’t Them Bodies Saints is a good romantic crime drama. I wouldn’t say that it is a must see, it is slower paced, it can drag and feels like it is missing something with the writing and story. However, David Lowery’s direction and the solid performances were just enough to make it work, and I think it is worth checking out.

Interceptor (2022) Review

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Interceptor

Time: 99 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1]
Cast:
Elsa Pataky as Captain J.J. Collins
Luke Bracey as Alexander Kessel
Director: Matthew Reilly

One Army captain is forced use her years of tactical training and military expertise when a simultaneous coordinated attack threatens the remote missile interceptor station of which she is in command.

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I didn’t go into Interceptor expecting much. I really didn’t know anything about it beforehand, it was an action movie released on Netflix and it seemed very generic and familiar. My expectations turned out to be quite accurate because it was another straight to streaming action movie, and was pretty mediocre.

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The premise of Interceptor is simple, the lead character is stuck in a room while armed people on the outside try to get in. There are also military stakes given that said room is capable of intercepting enemy missiles before they make impact with the United States. It is a very familiar plot and has all the tired tropes that you would expect. The story is predictable and is recycled from countless other action movies. It is very cheesy and over the top, particularly with its dialogue. Now that doesn’t sound bad out of context, in fact it sounds like it could be enjoyable. Indeed, there are many action movies that have repetitive and recycled plots and have ridiculous dialogue, but it sounded like it could be a throwback of action thrillers from the 90s like Under Siege. The problem is that Interceptor takes itself seriously, so it plays the absurd plot straight faced and the goofy dialogue doesn’t have the self-awareness that a Steven Seagal movie might have. There are some themes and topics which are conveyed through dialogue, which would be fine if it wasn’t so heavy handed. They also give the lead character a backstory where without going too into it, she had gone through a lot. At first, I thought that it was just an obligatory backstory they put in for her, but it’s a present aspect throughout. The film spends time showing what happened to her and it feels really out of place in this movie. Not to mention, I just don’t think that this script is good enough to properly handle a story of sexual abuse and harassment. That aside, I just think the script is badly written. The plot isn’t riveting and there are tons of exposition dumps. Even the setup in the opening act is clumsy. The runtime is short at a tight 98 minutes, but somehow it felt a lot longer than that. Any scene that didn’t contain action did drag.

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The acting performances are not that good. For what its worth, Elsa Pataky is decent and tries her best in the lead role. Her character is definitely roughly written, but Pataky does somewhat elevate the movie. The supporting performances aren’t up to par unfortunately, outside of a funny cameo from Chris Hemsworth. The villains are terrible and underwritten, with the main antagonist played by Luke Bracey being cliched and not imposing at all.

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The direction from Matthew Reilly is competent, yet average. The production value isn’t the best, as you would expect from a straight to streaming movie. The CGI when its there is terrible, especially when it comes to the missiles and explosions. That being said, the action scenes are some of the best parts of the movie. It’s not great but they are enjoyable to watch, you can see clearly what’s going on and there’s good stunt work. There are even some memorable and creative kills straight from an over the top 90s action flick.

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Interceptor is an average straight to streaming action flick. It’s not one of the worst action movies ever but not good either. The action scenes are decently filmed, and Elsa Pataky does pretty well with what she is given. However, the script really lets the movie done quite some way, and had it been somewhat self-aware and leaned into that 90s throwback aspect, it might’ve been fun to watch in a cheesy way. As it is however, it is hard to enjoy watching.

The Man from Nowhere (2010) Review

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The Man from Nowhere

Time: 119 Minutes
Cast:
Won Bin as Cha Tae-sik
Kim Sae-ron as So-mi
Director: Lee Jeong-beom

An ex-special agent is involved in a convoluted drug ring drama. He has to save a drug smuggler’s innocent daughter from being the victim of her parents’ fight.

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I had heard of The Man from Nowhere, an action thriller revenge film from South Korea that is meant to be good and quite underrated. Having finally checked it out, I think it’s solid. Some aspects of the story do hold it back from being better (mostly due to the familiarity) but on the whole it is really good.

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The first hour establishes its world, the protagonist’s mystery and the emotional bond between him and a girl before the plot point of having to save her. After that, it turns into a fast-paced action and steps into overdrive in the last 30 minutes with a lot of fights and gunshots. There are some pacing issues, the first act can be a bit slow. There is a large number of different characters in the movie, to the point where it can feel a little chaotic at times. Thankfully, the plot narrows down its focus by the end, particularly with the climax. On the surface it looks like a typical revenge action thriller and the story is quite predictable. The plot has some twists and turns, but it’s mostly a standard rescue/revenge movie and follows a familiar path. It definitely plays similar to those type of movies, but the execution is solid. The filmmakers do a great job at getting you to care about the characters and what’s going on. It helps that the story and characters come first before the action. The protagonist being a mysterious stranger with a melodramatic backstory is very typical and doesn’t do anything particular special, but with the way he’s portrayed and the deep connection he has with the girl character is portrayed well and feels real. Predictability and pacing aside, the only other main issue I have is that it does end a bit prematurely, it could’ve been a bit longer in its final moments.

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The acting is pretty good all round. Bin Won is great in the lead role. His character is definitely cliched, but he’s given enough depth and most importantly the performance made him believable. He’s quiet, brooding, calm and composed but dangerous and hiding emotional layers which eventually bubble to the surface. Also noteworthy is Sae-ron Kim as the girl that the protagonist bonds with. The relationship between the two is compelling and believable, helped by the performances, writing and the direction.

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Lee Jeong-beom’s direction of the movie is great. It’s very stylish with a slick aesthetic. The cinematography is stunning, its shot with a dark and rainy atmosphere and is superbly lit, with an appropriately downbeat colour pallet. The action sequences aren’t quite as frequent as you would expect for a film of this genre but the action sequences in here are great. It doesn’t go straight for the easy gratuitous gore and violence in the first two acts, instead saving its more intensely violent scenes for the final act. The choreography is fantastic and makes the fight scenes feel very real and impactful, there’s a weight to them and they feel grounded in reality. Occasionally the camera can shake a bit, but it’s never too much. You can still always tell what’s going on and there aren’t too many quick cuts.

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For what it lacks in originality, The Man from Nowhere more than compensates for with assured direction, great central performances, and action sequences. If you like action revenge thrillers, then you’ll probably like this one too.

Crimes of the Future (2022) Review

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Crimes of the Future (2022)

Time: 107 Minutes
Cast:
Viggo Mortensen as Saul Tenser
Léa Seydoux as Caprice
Kristen Stewart as Timlin
Director: David Cronenberg

As the human species adapts to a synthetic environment, the body undergoes new transformations and mutations. Accompanied by his partner, celebrity performance artist Saul Tenser showcases the metamorphosis of his organs. Meanwhile, a mysterious group tries to use Saul’s notoriety to shed light on the next phase of human evolution.

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I was interested in Crimes of the Future. It looked quite intriguing, had a good cast which included Viggo Mortensen, Lea Seydoux and Kristen Stewart, but most of all, it would be David Cronenberg’s first movie in many years. Not only that but it would be a body horror movie, and the last one he made was in the late 90s. I’m glad to say that I quite liked this movie.

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Something worth noting is that David Cronenberg had previously made a movie called Crimes of the Future back in the 70s, although it seems that this new film has nothing to do with that. This newer film tells an intriguing and bizarre story that I was pulled into. It is certainly a weird movie with a strange potential future. Viggo Mortensen is essentially a man who can generate new internal organs and collaborates with Lea Seydoux as performance artists, with Seydoux removing said regenerated organs in front of live audiences. In Crimes of the Future, humans have adapted to live in a synthetic environment, with their bodies undergoing numerous transformations and mutations; most humans don’t even feel pain anymore. In this futuristic society, surgery has become performance art (which Mortensen and Seydoux takes part in). Cronenberg does some great worldbuilding, and it is an interesting setting to watch. It was a very unique vision of the future of human evolution, and I was interested in learning about this new world. Admittedly it can be full on, in the first hour alone it thrusts you into this world with so much jargon, and requiring you to keep up with the information provided so you can grasp what is happening.

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One of the most advertised aspects of Crimes of the Future was the body horror, not unexpected of course (especially with Cronenberg returning to this subgenre). So the trailers and images focussing on the gore and grotesque (including to by not limited to a man with ears all on his body) is somewhat understandable. That being said, its not quite the disturbing and graphic body horror that it was advertised as. It felt more like a dystopian sci-fi futuristic thriller with some body horror aspects and a good amount of neo-noir mystery elements. As for the body horror itself, it works to serve its concept and story and never feels like its there to provoke a reaction in the audience. That being said, if you don’t like body horror at all or can’t deal with gore, then you still won’t be on board with this movie. As you can expect, there is a lot happening thematically. There’s a clear fascination with the human body and how it evolves over time, and poses interesting and thought provoking questions. There are even little moments of humour throughout which accompany the bizarre nature of the movie wonderfully. The pacing is definitely slow, but I thought it worked; I wouldn’t want it to be rushed at all. Crimes of the Future was an hour and 50 minutes long, and honestly I wished that it was a little longer. It felt a little abrupt, to a degree I was hoping for more. I liked the note it ended on, but the story did feel incomplete. It left me wanting a sequel to see what would happen next, and I can’t tell whether that is a good thing or a bad thing.

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There is a good cast involved. Viggo Mortensen and Lea Seydoux are great as the lead characters, while Kristen Stewart is a scene stealer in a very meek yet creepy and twitchy performance as a voyeuristic bureaucrat. She left an impression, but I just wish she was in the movie more. Other actors like Scott Speedman also play their parts wonderfully too.

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David Cronenberg’s direction is on point as ever. The cinematography is outstanding and beautiful. That and the production design helped to convey the vision of the future excellently, and it feels very lived in. The practical effects, especially those involving the body, are fantastic. There are definitely moments of gore, but they are used sparingly and when appropriate. If you’ve seen some of Cronenberg’s other movies, Crimes of the Future doesn’t push boundaries on that front, in fact it feels comparatively tame. Howard Shore composes the score and its one of my favourites of this year as well as one of his best yet, and that’s saying a lot.

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Crimes of the Future is a welcome return to form for David Cronenberg. It’s a bizarre, fascinating, intriguing and thought provoking film, which is directed excellently and has some great performances from the cast. There are parts where I wanted more and it was a little incomplete, but I liked what we got. If you really don’t like body horror, then this won’t be one for you. With that said, don’t go in expecting a gore fest, it’s a lot more than just that. So far, Crimes of the Future is one of my favourite movies of 2022.