Saturday, 27 December 2014

MOVIE REVIEW: MY OLD LADY


4/5

Mathias (Kevin Klein) is 57, broke and broken. His only chance is to sell a multi million dollar apartment that his deceased father has left him in his will. On arriving to Paris, however, he finds an unwanted resident - an old lady Mathilde (Maggie Smith). According to the original contract Mathias cannot take full control of the apartment until Mathilde dies. Having no other choice but to stay Mathias befriends his old lady and her daughter Chloe (Kristin Scott Thomas). Mathilde seems to harbour a secret from her past that will impact everyone around her. Will it bring a relief or sorrow?

The problem with the movie based on a play is the danger that it could drag and get boring. The dialogue delivery in theatre is not the same as in the movie, and what seems natural on stage can be pompous and fake when put on screen. Fortunately MY OLD LADY avoids that. This deceptively light-hearted drama has the best cast you could wish for.  Maggie Smith and Kristin Scott-Thomas are expected to be good, but we all have forgotten what a great actor Kevin Klein is. His Mathias is full of charisma, and as darker sides of his characters emerge little by little he keeps getting our sympathy.

But it is supporting cast that guaranteed MY OLD LADY’s success.
Noemie Lvovsky has only two scenes as a family doctor, but somehow she manages to outshine her more famous colleagues. Dominique Pinion is quirky  and fun to watch as a “real Parisian” real estate agent, who, according to his own words, “lives in the vein of it all”.

If you expect to see a lot of Paris in the movie you will be disappointed. We get a few scenes shot near Notre Dame, but that’s about it. In a way that is not so bad for a movie the whole length of which is determined by a dialogue and overexpanded scenes could have made it longer than it’s good for it.


Above the main plot of the family drama, the story offers some interesting thoughts about fathers and sons relationships (as well as mothers and daughters) and almost makes us believe that it is never to late to accept the past and start again.

Friday, 26 December 2014

HORROR MOVIE REVIEW: STONEHEARST ASYLUM


31/2/5

A young man arrives to a far away asylum to become a doctor. Soon enough he discovers that something is not quite right with the place.The strange behaviour of both patients and personnel is alarming and a bizarre secret is hidden in the dungeons underneath the building. When the secret is revealed the young man has to choose sides, but all he can think of is a beautiful patient Eliza Graves. Is she as dangerous as she is beautiful?

Among many interpretations of the Edgar Allan Poe's stories only a few remain true to original. STONEHEARST ASYLUM managed to capture well the atmosphere of the short story "The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether" it is based on. At the time when Poe wrote the story the reformation of insane asylums was a political issue. While the patients were treated like prisoners the real criminals, killers and such, used asylums to avoid punishment. Now days the story of a young man, venturing into the menacing and strange place that harbours a secret, can hardly can be considered political. But thriller is not all that STONEHEARST ASYLUM is. 

It is probably the least scary film by director Brad Anderson, a man behind the The Machinist with Cristian Bale  and The Call with Holly Berry. He had turned the creepy plot into a love story, putting the character of Kate Beckinsale, Eliza Graves, at the heart of it all. She is a catalyst for all the bad and good things to happen in the movie, and an interesting role for Beckinsale, who proves she can easily switch between dangerous and distressed. It is also entertaining to watch Ben Kingsley and Michael Cain going head to head in supporting, but significant roles - two man possessed with their own kind of madness.  

STONEHEARST ASYLUM has much action, but it will rarely keep you on the age of your seat. After revealing the main twist less than a half way into the film the story then asks some interesting questions about the true nature of confinement and what is the real difference between the oppressors and oppressed. Then comes the ending that you will not see coming.  This is one of this magical moments that will put a big satisfying grin on your face. 

I highly recommend to watch this, a little unusual, gothic love story, which carries a not so original, but comforting statement - a sick mind can be healed by the true feelings of ones heart.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

HORRO MOVIE REVIEW: JESSABELLE




3/5

Jessabelle, a twenty something woman, has to return to her childhood home and spend time with a father she barely knows. Soon she discovers tapes that her deceased mother has recorded before her birth. Curious to know her origins Jessabelle starts watching the tapes one by one, sinking deeper into despair and into madness, just like her mother did many years ago.

Jessabelle may not be very original but effective. The premise of beautiful young lady locked up in a creepy house full of ghosts and with imminent growing danger works well. The not so straight forward mystery is also pretty good. There will be no major revelations but you get a decent satisfying answer for all the happenings and sometime simple is the best.

Anton Sanko's haunting soundtrack compliments the creepy setting of an old New Orlean house and some creative cinematography is just enough to fill in the absence of visual effect. Sometimes it's all about atmosphere and Jessabelle delivers it in brackets.

I would have liked the movie more if not for a very flat ending. There could have been more action, more creativity, more drama. Many of the original set ups, especially Jessabelle's temporary being bound to a wheel chair, are underused. But I guess the budget also dictated where the story had to go. Without breaking any new ground Jessabelle delivers on its promise. It is scary, atmospheric and beautifully shot. Not being particularly great, it will not disappoint.  

Saturday, 6 December 2014

MOVIE REVIEW: LOCKE


5/5

Ivan Locke is driving through the night to do the right thing - to be with the present during the birth of his baby. The problem is that this woman is not his wife and he is leaving in the rear view mirror his family, who is waiting for him to come home and watch a football game together, and a career shuttering event at his job. During the one hour and a half drive Lock will face numerous challenges of his personal and professional life. The night in front of him seems like a dark tunnel of despair. Will he come out to the light on the other side?

Locke is a small one-man thriller, that works great as a theatre play, but takes most of the advantages the cinema has to offer. There are no car chases, shootings or terrorists, but somehow LOCKE reminds the best episode of 24 TV series, only the threat is coming from within the main character, from his one mistake and one decision and determination to make things right by everyone.

Ivan Locke is easy to relate to. He is devoted to his family, takes pride in his work and has a strong sense of morality. But above all he is human and humans make mistakes, so we love him also for that. But there’s a dark side to him and the motives to his decision may have a different sort of a motivation - a revenge to a man long time dead.

Tom Hardy gives its outmost to this moving performance as a man who can move from total control to despair in a matter of seconds and who has the ability to inspire both his colleagues and the viewers. His Locke is a good man whose decision to make things right is working against him. Troubles are piling up and he has to juggle all the problems like balls, at the same time keeping his hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.

LOCKE is written and directed by English veteran director Steven Knight who seems to take very personal approach to the story. (the problem of fathers and sons in the movie feels like a homage to a personal experience). The movie features multiple cuts, but is shot in almost real time, which gives it a sense of urgency and even more credit to Tom Hardy’s performance.


LOCKE proves that personal daily dramas can be as life threatening and tense as action thrillers.  Following a man through the darkest night of his life we have no doubts that he is doing the right thing, but is it for the right reason? LOCKE offers no easy answers, but it’s a ride that you will not forget.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

MFFF MOVIE REVIEW: OUR HEROES DIED TONIGHT (NOS HEROS SONT MORTS CE SOIR)



5/5

Victor is an ex soldier. Freshly returned from serving at French Legion he is low on money and down with luck. When his pal Simon proposes him a job as a wrestler Victor reluctantly agrees. It is not because he is not good at wrestling, its because on the ring he has to play the role of a villain and being a big softie at heart Victor finds it damaging for his mind and soul. Working in tandem Victor and Simon are successful, but one night they make a decision to switch the masks. This is a fatal mistake that changes everything.
 
OUR HEROES DIED TONIGHT is a first full feature film debut by David Perrault and a love letter to the French noir of the 60s. Crossing the eccentricity of David Lynch with Tarantino’s bravado he manages to keep the balance of both all the way through the film, just like the balance of black and white of the movie’s colours.
 
It is also the fading borders between good and evil, darkness and light , that are at the centre of this little gem, which has dreamlike quality to it, but on the surface is easy to understand.
 
The film is also about friendship, Simon and Victor are like two sides of the same coin, but just like any coin, when you flip it, it is not easy to predict which side turns up. As the movie progresses it becomes obvious that their personalities, just like the masks they are wearing, are interchangeable.
 
In its short run of ninety seven minutes David Perrault manages to say a lot. He touches upon the natures of love, camaraderie and a true calling in man’s life. The dialogue is swift and to the point, but with a few lengthy monologues Tarantino style. The story is unpredictable, with a few twists and a unique atmosphere that builds up its creepiness for the adrenalin fuelled finale.
 
OUR HEROES is one of these films that would not benefit from a bigger budget, nor from world star actors. It puts its aim high and reaches it effortlessly leaving both critics and audience satisfied. I would watch it again and again and introduce to as many people as possible. A true little masterpiece of a movie.








Friday, 7 November 2014

MGFF MOVIE REVIEW: A PACT (ZUM GEBURTSTAG)



2/5

Many years ago two teenagers, Paul and Georg, make a pact - Greg will give Paul his girlfriend Anna, but reserves the right to take her back whenever he pleases. Many years later Greg shows up again as Paul’s boss.  Paul and Anna now have two grown up children, their life is well set up and with the arrival of Greg an unwelcome tension enters their lives. Is Greg here to collect his due? Or is there a more sinister plan at hand.

THE PACT is a little slow burning thriller with an original premise, with the twisted ending being its biggest problem - you will see miles away. Paul’s family dynamic is a little artificial. These are not the people you will care about and at times there is a feeling that they deserve exactly what’s coming to them.

The tension overall is rather week and the row of missed opportunities will be obvious to every movie lover. The best quality acting comes from the younger cast. As for the grown ups - none of them is particularly good. The baddies try to be too infernal, particularly Sylvester Groth in the role of Georg, and at times overdoing it. The most ridiculous and over the top performance comes from the Austrian actor Sophie Rois, balancing between the act of a faithful housewife and a “femme fatal” and faking it big time.


The film would have benefit from a tighter script and a more menacing cinematography. As it is A PACT is a curious but forgettable thriller that does not stand out for any reason.

Monday, 3 November 2014

MOVIE REVIEW: INTO THE STORM




21/2/5

The graduation day is approaching in the little town of Silverton, so is the giant twister which is destroying everything in its wake. INTO THE STORM is a harrowing account of one day when simple people find themselves in terrible peril and fight for their lives the best they can.

There's something mesmerising about watching a twister gradually destroying a town, swallowing airports and hunting down its victims one by one as it was a serial killer. Into the storm has more in common with Friday the 13th than with its classic predecessor Twister - a flawed but a great adventure film. The storm here is an evil entity that is hunting down its prey and it would be more fun to give it an evil mind instead of an innuendo of approaching global warming.
 
INTO THE STORM is a very weak production. Stumbling over its own identity, the film cannot decide whether it wants to be a found footage flick or a B grade sci-fi the likes of Sharknado. 

On a positive note - the destruction scenes are fabulously staged and never before we found ourselves literally getting inside a twister. The grand and menacing score by Bryan Taylor never really lets us forget that we are watching multi million dollar production and not a quirky documentary the film pretends to be.

The acting is atrocious, so is the character development. By numbers script never surprises and the final showdown with a monster twister is an anticlimax. 

But with all its flaws INTO THE STORM has more sense of adventure than many recent disaster movie productions and it is a reason to check it out. This, and the giant fire twister, probably the only truly original moment of the film.