Suburbicon

GoMovieReviews Rating:

SuburbiconRated: MA 15+

Directed by: George Clooney

Written by: Joel & Ethan Coen, George Clooney and Grant Heslov

Produced by: George Clooney and Gran Heslov

Starring: Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, Noah Jupe, Oscar Isaac.

Director George Clooney has collaborated with the Coen brothers (No Country For Old Men) to package together one dark, tasty treat.

This is a story that could only be set in the 50s.  A setting I initially found off-putting, the feeling the formula of 50s dark comedy already been done.  But I was pleasantly surprised by the clever script and how the 50s attitude was used to create a rising tension and  bigotry in the story.

Suburbicon explores the real America; back then, the racism and petty nature of society hiding behind perfect houses, set hair and freshly mown lawns.  The idea of a suburb is a new-found way of living – affordable post war housing built outside of the city where families can grow with kids hanging out with the neighbours and everyone’s safe and secure and the same.  Until the Mayers move in.

Based on the true events that unfolded in Levittown, Pennsylvania in 1957,  William and Daisy Meyers became the first African American family to move to the town, only to be subjected to 500 people yelling abuse on their front lawn, complete with the hanging of Confederate flags and a burning cross…Suburbicon

Suburbicon builds on the tension; cracks begin to form in the community, with well-mannered folk becoming increasingly agitated by the presence of the family.

And then, Gardner Lodge (Matt Damon) and his family, Rose (Julianne Moore), her twin sister Margaret (also Moore) and son Nicky (Noah Jupe) are tied up and robbed in their own home – something must be done.

The Lodges are a seemingly normal family with twin sister Margaret visiting often to help Rose who’s wheelchair bound after a vehicle accident.

And I use ‘seemingly’ as the story of the film is the depiction of the family unravelling as the robbers, Louis (Alex Hassell) and Sloan (Glenn Flesher) return to pressure Gardner causing the film to turn in sinister and completely unexpected ways.

This is a surprisingly violent film but made in such a way that the shock is funny.Suburbicon

It’s a dark film, that clever script and direction using that 50s flavour to show the violence like an old-school detective movie with images of shadows and jagged edges of broken glass instead of blood and guts.  The soundtrack also adds to that crime/detective flavour.

But there’s much more here than a cloak and dagger crime story.

The audience is shown life from the way the son, Nicky, sees the world.  Like the innocence of childhood is the only normality in the story.  And this is beautifully shown in the friendship between Nicky and the Mayers’ son, Andy (Tony Espinosa).

Add the well-balanced pacing where each twist and reveal is shown with dead pan delivery, I couldn’t help but appreciate the timing and cleverness of the story.

The Snowman

GoMovieReviews Rating:

The SnowmanMA15+

Directed by: Tomas Alfredson

Based on the Book by: Jo Nesbø

Screenplay by: Hossein Amini and Peter Straughan

Produced by: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Piodor Gustafsson, Robyn Slovo,

Starring: Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, Charlotte Gainsbourg with Val Kilmer and J. K. Simmons.

Waking up from another bender, lead detective, Harry Hole (Michael Fassbender), needs a case to distract him from drinking.

When he receives a disturbing letter signed-off with a picture of a snowman, he may have found the case.  And as the film continues and the bodies pile up, Harry’s eyes become clearer.

Based on Jo Nesbø’s global bestseller, the attempt to condense, ‘The Snowman’ into a film was not entirely successful.

There’s so much going on in the film that I have to say, my confusion grew as the film continued.The Snowman

The inclusion of so many characters, like Rafto (Val Kilmer), another disgraced drunken detective and Mathias (Jonas Karlsson) a detective thrown in the mix for reasons unknown led to time wasting red herrings.

Which is a pity because the main storyline was good.

But without the depth of character given in the novel, a lot of time was spent scratching my head asking, Why?

An avid fan of the Jo Nesbø novels, I was excited to see his story come to life on the big screen.  And Michael Fassbender suited the role of Harry, if not better looking and smaller than imagined from the text – he was a sincere brute, playing the damaged, complicated man perfectly.

I also liked Rebecca Ferguson as the junior recruit, Katrine Bratt.

However, the rest of the cast felt superficial with so many and so little backstory.

The English language used, instead of the novel’s original Norwegian, followed on like the book being translated, so I didn’t mind as that’s how I read the book.  Another successful example being the English version of Wallander: set in the original series’ native Ystad, Sweden, yet the characters speaking in English.

The setting of The Snowman was filmed entirely in Norway with the snow falling and the vast landscape keeping the feel from the novel authentic.

Director Tomas Alfredson (Let the Right One In, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) has used that feeling of vast space and isolation to build the creepy feeling of The Snowman watching.  But that’s as creepy as the film gets.

The Snowman didn’t live up to expectation because the momentum and therefore suspense was lost by trying to fit too much in.

I liked Fassbender as Harry, the setting was beautifully captured, and the story was good.  But could have been much better with a more focussed plot.

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Happy Death Day

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Happy Death DayRated: M

Directed by: Christopher Landon

Produced by: Jason Blum p.g.a. Blumhouse

Written by: Scott Lobdell

Director of Photography: Toby Oliver

Starring: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine, Rachel Matthews and Charles Aitken.

‘Today is the first day of the rest of your life’.

Reminiscent of Groundhog Day (released in 1993 where Bill Murray lives the same day, over and over), Happy Death Day has Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe (La La Land)) living the same day, but at the end of her day, she gets killed by a baby-masked psychopath.

Set on the Loyola University campus in New Orleans, there’s that sorority vibe – think: Tree waking up in a dormitory to face Carter (Israel Broussard (The Bling Ring)) the morning after an obviously heavy night on the booze, to the walk-of-shame back to her sorority house to face her fellow sisters.

Thankfully, not too much is made of the college life because jeez, we’ve all seen that too many times before…  It just lends a fun element to an otherwise slasher movie.  If you can call a slasher movie fun.

The story-line of the film is a Happy Death Dayhideous nightmare, where Tree gets killed over and over.  And the killer’s baby mask is freaky.

So, yes, it’s a scary movie.

But the tension is broken with these comic moments of Tree the bitchy, stuck-up character, able to make fun of herself.

Hats off to Jessica Rothe – if you didn’t like her character than the film would have just fallen over.  But there’s a down-to-earthness to her, making the other characters like the snobby house president, Danielle (newcomer Rachel Matthews) all the more ridiculous and funny.

You’d think the same scenario of waking up to the same day would lead to a boring story, but the script (written by Scott Lobdell) plays around with the concept, the changes made by Tree as she becomes aware of her fate, waking up over and over, is offset by the sameness of the day, shown in different ways, the wit making the waking nightmare, fun.Happy Death Day

And I’m happy to say, director, Christopher Landon (Paranormal Activity 2, 3 and 4, he then wrote and directed the spinoff Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, 2014) has pulled all the elements together, collaborating with: Aussie director of photography, Toby Oliver (upcoming Insidious: The Last Key), production designer, Cecele M. De Stefano (TV’s Empire), editor, Gregory Plotkin (Paranormal Activity series), costume designer, Meagan Mclaughlin Luster (10 Cloverfield Lane) and composer Bear McCreary (10 Cloverfield Lane).

And it just feels like the team had fun making this movie.

Particularly showing the range of Jessica Rothe, shining through all the moments from, bitchy to scared to brazen to vulnerable.

Jason Blum has produced yet another cool film.  I always keep an eye out for Blumhouse because I know I’m in for a scary treat.

I’m not saying Happy Death Day is a mind bender that throws you for days like Get Out or Whiplash.  But it’s a great entertainer with a clever story-line.

The Only Living Boy in New York

GoMovieReviews Rating:

MThe Only Living Boy In New York

Directed by: Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Amazing Spider-Man 2)

Written by: Allan Loeb (21, The Space Between Us, Just Go with It)

Producers: Albert Berger, Jeff Bridges, John Fogel, Mari Jo Winkler-Ioffreda, Ron Yerxa

Cinematographer: Stuart Dryburgh

Starring: Callum Turner, Kate Beckinsale, Pierce Brosnan, Cynthia Nixon, Jeff Bridges, Kiersey Clemons.

When Thomas Webb (Callum Turner) bemoans the fact he hasn’t done much in his twenty-something years, his new-found mentor, writer W F Gerald (Jeff Bridges) reminds him, ‘You’ve had sex with your father’s mistress. I’d say that’s something.’

And that’s sort of this film in a nutshell.

Fragile relationships, forbidden love and flawed characters.

Sadly, despite the stellar cast, this is also a flawed movie. Part The Graduate, part Barfly, The Only Living Boy in New York does not reach the heights of either of those films – but to be fair, not too many films do.

That’s not to say this film is to be avoided, there’s plenty to keep one interested for the duration.

Jeff Bridges is clearly enjoying the chance to get down and grungy; the presence of Lou Reed (through music and references) adds to the New York feel; Cynthia Nixon as Thomas’ mother and Ethan’s (Pierce Brosnan) wife is nicely understated, and there is obviously other eye candy for most audience members (Kate Beckinsale, Pierce Brosnan and Kiersey Clemons).

Thomas, a college graduate, discovers his father, Ethan, is having an affair with a beautiful colleague, Johanna (Kate Beckinsale). He decides to follow her and, somehow, for some reason, and with little resistance from either of them, they too sleep together.

At the same time, Thomas’s best friend, Mimi (Kiersey Clemons) announces she’s dropped her muso boyfriend, obviously in the hope of taking her platonic relationship with Thomas to the next stage.

Everyone has decisions to make: unfortunately it’s pretty much the same decision for all of them – who to choose?

The only other substantial revelation/surprise comes toward the end but most will see it coming from a long way away.

One of the main reasons this film does not reach the heights it could have is that it’s hard to feel much for pretentious, cliched, wealthy publishing types.

Their actions are those of New York aristocrats bored with life but lacking the wherewithal to expand their interests outside their circle of influence. They could do anything: travel the world, climb Everest, skydive – anything they want; but they choose to wallow in their own dissatisfaction.

So while there is enough interest to follow their story, one does so with little sympathy for any of them. ‘Wake up guys and smell the flowers’, that’s if flowers grow in New York.

Interestingly, with the actors he had to work with, and the context of the story, Marc Webb fails to make the most of the sexual chemistry that should have oozed off the screen.

On balance, a film that, with more subtlety and nuances, could have been a ‘must see’ but that still has enough to provide for a pleasant ninety minutes to fill – so long as you’re not expecting the class, style and substance of The Graduate.

Song To Song

GoMovieReviews Rating:

MSong To Song

Directed and Written by: Terrence Malick

Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezk

Produced by: Sarah Green, Nicolas Gonda, Ken Kao

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Michael Fassbender, Natalie Portman, Rooney Mara, Cate Blanchett, Lykke Li, Val Kilmer.

Song To Song is a series of moments captured up close and pieced together to create a love story.

There’s minimal dialogue with the thread woven by the voice-overs of the main characters: BV (Ryan Gosling), Cook (Michael Fassbender), Faye (Rooney Mara) and Rhonda (Natalie Portman).

I had to find my way out of you, to life.

It wasn’t an easy film to watch as the many moments are made through different shots, angles and movement, switching perspectives to show light casting shadows, to leaves swirling in water; the affection of lovers through hands intertwined, socked feet being bitten, a smile or thoughts voiced-over a stare.

I tried to be kind.   It only made me colder.

Director and writer Terrence Malick has reached for the stars with this film.  Creating something aesthetically beautiful but also self-conscious.

The poetic narration of the characters worked well with imagery but the dialogue spoken felt fake and forced.Song To Song

It was like the camera was left to roll, then all the good bits taken and edited into a story that was decided later.

By making a film this way, there’s natural moments of wonder and laughter but it also felt like the actors were self-aware.

Ryan Gosling shone as BV – the warmth of this nature and ready grin making me almost jealous of Rooney Mara as Faye.  I really didn’t like her character at the beginning of the film – that coy, little girl act, grating.

But as the film progressed, I was immersed into the story gaining a better understanding of the character, Faye.

The film’s loosely based on BV making a record deal with the super successful and rich party-boy, Cook.Song To Song

They travel around (with Faye in toe, of course) to places like Mexico and many other different houses and spaces including music festivals.

There’s cameo appearances from the likes of Anthony Keidis, Iggy Pop and Pattie Smith as themselves.  Yet, BV, Cook and Faye kept in character (somewhat), trying to keep that loose storyline – the narrative sacrificed to include some cool footage into the film.

I’m all for the aesthetics but it made some parts of the film unnecessary as the fluidity of the story was lost to include the beautiful and poetic.

Cate Blanchett and Natalie Portman make an appearance on the fringes of the film, the story losing itself amongst other people, only to find itself again with BV and Faye, making the journey moving, annoying, boring and sometimes completely absorbing.

It’s a different kind of movie.  I think the film has taken itself too seriously and yet, not seriously enough.

Malick has created a film like an art installation.  Like Andy Warhol filming actresses while interviewing them as they did whatever they wanted as long as it was interesting.  There’s the same feel here.  But revolving around the theme of sex and love – some parts worked, some didn’t.

I appreciated the reach and push made of this stellar cast.  I just wish it didn’t feel so pretentious.

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Final Portrait

GoMovieReviews Rating:

MFinal Portrait

Directed and Written by: Stanley Tucci

Adapted from: James Lord’s memoir, ‘A Giacometti Portrait’

Produced by: Gail Egan, Nik Bower, Ilann Girard

Starring: Geoffrey Rush, Armie Hammer, Tony Shalhoub, Sylvie Testud, Clémence Poésy.

‘No question of the portrait ever been finish’, states Alberto Giacometti (Geoffrey Rush).  As a portrait is never finished.

And it certainly begins to feel that way to James Lord (Armie Hammer) after agreeing to pose while on a short trip to Paris in 1964.

Based on James Lord’s memoir, ‘A Giacometti Portrait’, the film is written and directed by Stanley Tucci (also known for his acting and nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in, The Lovely Bones (2009)), the film centres on the battle of wills between the two men: Alberto, the cantankerous genius, and the ever-tolerant James: forced to sit on a rickety wicker chair, day after day as Alberto paints and then repaints his portrait.Final Portrait

What began as flattery turns into a test of endurance as he bares the rantings of the aging Swiss-Italian.  Alberto at one point telling James, ‘Don’t scratch’

‘I itch’, James replies.

‘Don’t itch.’

Yet, through all his vitriol and terrible treatment of his ever-loving wife, Annette (Sylvie Testud), he shows warmth and love for his favourite model and prostitute, Caroline (Clémence Poésy).

Funnily enough, a film about an artist is shown in drab colours as most of the scenes were shot in Alberto’s destitute studio – filled with sculptures, finished and some just begun, with long faces resembling their maker.

But I couldn’t help smiling.

Geoffrey Rush is just so believable as this grumpy genius, embracing the artist’s technique of painting, speaking fluent French and Italian and most importantly showing the movement and attitude of the artist.

‘Have you ever wanted to be a tree?’ he asks James.

‘No’.

Alberto might be cranky, but there’s also vision.  And we’re given a glimpse into the mindset of the man.Final Portrait

The quietly knowing brother, Diego (Tony Shalhoub) balances the tone of the film, lightening the mood as he’s well aware of Alberto’s moods.  And still loves him in spite of it.

Set over two weeks, the idea of showing a character through the process of painting a portrait simplifies the peeling away of layers.

The film is really, a character study.

I was surprised when the film finished as I was happy to stay in the wry, exasperating yet thoughtful space.

And the clever way of showing Alberto’s personality was a pleasure to watch.

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The Girl With All The Gifts

GoMovieReviews Rating:

MA15+The Girl With All The Gifts

Directed by: Collie McCarthy

Adapted from the novel, ‘The Girl With All The Gifts’, Written by: Mick Carey

Music Composed by: Cristobal Tapia de Veer

Starring: Gemma Arterton, Glenn Close, Paddy Considine, Sennia Nenua, Fisayo Akinade, Anthony Welsh.

After recently starting to watch, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2016) and stopping after 15 minutes because I was just so sick of zombies, I surprised myself by taking in, The Girl With All The Gifts.

With Glenn Close starring and my avid love of thrillers, I thought the film looked good.

It made sense to me, fungi infecting the population and turning humans into blood thirsty beasts.  It’s the need for protein that turns the Hungries into killers.

And as, War Of The Worlds has shown us, and frankly this last flu season, it’s the micro-organisms and shown here, the fungi (not a micro-organism, but you get the drift) that will win in the end…

So, the premise of the film was interesting.The Girl With All The Gifts

The film begins with children, about 10 years old, being wheeled into a makeshift classroom, strapped to a wheelchair, wearing matching orange tracksuits.

The soldiers who transfer them from cell to classroom are obviously scared of the kids, yet, Melanie (Sennia Nenua) is a kind and polite, extremely intelligent school girl.

Until she’s hungry and can smell flesh.

After the compound’s attacked by seemingly endless hungries, Melanie’s favourite person and teacher, Helen Justineau (Gemma Arterton), along with Dr Caroline Caldwell (Glenn Close), Sergeant Eddie Parks (Paddy Considine), and soldiers Kieran Gallagher (Fisayo Akinade) and Dillon (Anthony Welsh) escape, to the outside world, back to London to wait for rescue.

Scottish director, Collie McCarthy (Outcast (2010), Endeavour (TV series, The Girl With All The Gifts2012) has brought a UK flavour to the film which is a nice change from the saturation of the American zombie takeovers, setting the film in London with native accented characters.

And there’s some good acting here – Glenn Close, who can do no wrong, brings a solid performance as the villainous researcher.  And young Sennia as Melanie holds her own as the hybrid fungal/human creature.

But it was difficult to take the hungries seriously when the fungus growing over their faces looked like green fur.

The infected blew the suspension for me – the hungries not always believable, so after the strong opening, the film waned.

There is some blood and guts for the those who like a bit of gore mixed with suspense.   And a few light moments to break the tension.

I appreciated the thought put into the script with some new ideas making the film more than just another zombie movie.

So, not a brilliant film, but worth a watch.

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Good Time

GoMovieReviews Rating:

MA 15+Good Time

Directed by: Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie

Written by: Ronald Bronstein, Josh Safdie

Produced by: Sabastian Bear-McClard, Oscar Boyson, Jean-Luc De Fanti, Terry Dougas, Paris Kasidokostas Latsis

Composer/Soundtrack: Oneohtrix Point Never

Cinematographer: Sean Price Williams

Starring: Robert Pattinson, Ben Safdie, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tahliah Webster, Barkhad Abdi, Buddy Duress.

The Safdie brothers (Josh and Ben) return with their fifth feature film, building on their gonzo-style street films with Official Selection and winner of the Cannes Soundtrack Award, Good Time.

And I was hooked from the opening scene.

When Nick Nikas (Ben Safdie) is questioned by a psychiatrist (Peter Verby), you can tell there’s something not right with Nick.  He’s slow.  But asking for word associations for, ‘water and ‘salt’, the sadness and beauty and insight into the always lost but understanding all the same was given when Nick makes the association with the beach while tears run down his cheeks.

Then his brother, Connie (Robert Pattinson) bursts into the room, dragging his brother from a place that’s making him cry – it’s wrong to take Nick from a place trying to help him, but he does it for all the right reasons.  It’s love.

Connie’s not a bad guy, he just does bad things.  He wants his brother to feel what he feels.  Good Time

Sharing the experience of robbing a bank seems easy.  Connie’s smart.  Street smart.  He can manipulate others to get what he wants.  He’s bad because he’s misleading but Connie doesn’t want to hurt people, he just wants to help his brother making the character all the more believable because people aren’t purely bad or purely good, there’s always that somewhere in-between.

After Nick gets caught by the police, Connie has to come up with ten-thousand dollars to get him out on bail.  And he knows there’s only so many times Nick can change the TV and annoy the other inmates before he gets beaten to death.  So there’s desperation to get that $10K.  Nothing good comes from desperation.Good Time

Good Times felt like real life – a moment-by-moment record of controlled chaos.  Like life, sometimes there’s just no time.

Decisions are made in the moment to try to get through and survive.  The raw nature of the film reminding me of Oscar winner, ‘Moonlight’.  But I related more to the 90s vibe here.

I enjoyed seeing Robert Pattinson embrace his role, the Safdie brothers pushing that Brooklyn element of the film.

Ben Safdie and Pattinson wrote letters to each other for weeks as Connie and Nick, discussing their lives in character to develop the relationship between the two brothers to translate onto the screen.

People will go to see Pattinson in a new role but the stand out for me was Ben Safdie as Nick.

And the soundtrack has to be commended.

The more I get into film the more I understand the integration of image and sound to give the story its emotional landscape.

Sound can give so much more than words.

Here, the thought of the ocean began the emotional tone of the film which continued with the soundtrack.

Daniel Lopatin who records under the name Oneohtrix Point Never has created an electronic-based score with the film ending with a song recorded in collaboration with Iggy Pop.

Add the dialogue, sometimes written just before recording, the film had a chaotic feel, making the fiction truthful – believable because only real life can be that strange.

I’ll be keeping an eye out for more from the Safdie brothers.

Good Time had balls with a dash of genius.  And it wasn’t a harsh ride.  It just felt honest.

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Blade Runner 2049

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: MA 15+Blade Runner 2049

Directed by: Denis Villeneuve

Screenplay Written by: Hampton Fancher, Michael Green

Story By: Hampton Fancher

Based on Characters from the Novel: ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’ Written by: Philip K. Dick

Cinematography: Roger Deakins

Music Composed by: Jóhann Jóhannsson, Hans Zimmer, Benjamin Wallfisch

Produced by: Andrew a. Kosove, Broderick Johnson, Bud Yorkin, Cynthia Yorkin

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, Robin Wright, Mackenzie Davis, Carla Juri, Lennie James, with Dave Bautista and Jared Leto.

Atmospheric and quietly menacing.

Based on characters from the novel, ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’ (written by Philip K. Dick), screenplay writer, Hampton Fancher (with Michael Green) has returned with Blade Runner 2049:  the highly anticipated sequel directed by Denis Villeneuve.

The future is bleak with the population moving off-world on the back of replicant labour – a new version of replicant that/who obeys without question.

The conflict of using ‘that’ or ‘who’ sums up the film’s question: Are replicants just soulless machines? Or the evolution of a new species?Blade Runner 2049

After the EMP detonation that caused a global blackout in 2022, the replicants who pre-date the chaos and have no end-dates are hunted and retired by blade runners.

From the opening scene the quiet absorbs you into a world intensely over-populated and dark.

Set in LA, the feeling of over-population extends to the entire Earth; the realisation that nature has lost.  Humans dominate the world and the replicants are slaves.

But the line is blurring.

As the human, blade runner enforcer, Lieutenant Joshi (Robin Wright) states, we’re all looking for something that’s real.

***

With all the chaos of people and city and technology, you’d expect noise, but there’s a deep silence to this film.

The soundtrack is a vibrating menace that drives the dark mood of the film allowing a simplicity to each scene while creating depth in the subtleties. Blade Runner 2049

Controversy surrounds the composition of the score with Jóhann Jóhannsson (who previously collaborated with Villeneuve on “Prisoners,” “Sicario,” and “Arrival”) being replaced by Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch.  See article here.

Villeneuve relies heavily on the soundtrack to create the underlying foreboding feeling of a dark future.  So, I can understand the importance of getting the soundtrack right for this film (and in his previous films) as it plays such an important part in telling the story.

Yet, it’s the imagery here as well.  Each scene is a perfectly made moment carefully crafted through shifting light reflecting off water, holograms sharing the same space as a piano, the falling rain and snow and the eyes of, K, as he’s stares while being brought back to baseline.  And Harrison Ford still has presence on screen returning as Rick Deckard.

Villeneuve’s craftsmanship has brought the story to the screen as only he can – his handling outclassing the script itself.  Fans of the first, Blade Runner will not be disappointed.

At one point I noticed how quiet it was in the cinema, realising no-one in the audience wanted to break the spell.

Ryan Gosling brings a needed impressive performance as the film rests heavily on the blade runner character, K.  He brings that silent strength – not so much in his words but the way he holds them, making you believe he’s there.

Under the direction of Villeneuve, Jared Leto as the replicant creator, Niander Wallace, gets the tone just right, the subtleties showing Wallace’s immoral character.

And that’s the quality of the film, subtle: complicated emotions yet, made to feel simple.  A kind of gentle unfolding with an underlying darkness driving life into the shadows, but the shadows fighting back, like life…

Ah, don’t you love it when a movie makes you feel all moody when you leave the cinema!

Blade Runner 2049 will appeal to more than sci-fi fans.

The quality of the cinematography, sound and setting alone make it a worth-while watch on the big screen.

Flatliners

GoMovieReviews Rating:

MFlatliners

Directed by: Niels Arden Oplev

Screenplay by: Ben Ripley

Story by: Peter Filardi

Produced by: Laurence Mark, Michael Douglas, Peter Safran

Starring: Ellen Page, Diego Luna, Nina Dobrev, James Norton, Kiersey Clemons, Kiefer Sutherland.

Reminiscent of the, Final Destination franchise, Flatliners is about the avoidance of death only to be haunted in the land of the living.

I was enthralled when watching the 1990 original of, Flatliners.

Directed by Joel Schumacher and staring the likes of Kiefer Sutherland, Julia Roberts, Kevin Bacon, William Baldwin and Oliver Platt; I hadn’t ever seen a film like it: trainee doctors stopping the heart from beating, to flat line, causing death only to be brought back to life to research and record what happens after death.  Are there bright lights and vivid colours?  Is there comfort?  Is there life after death?Flatliners

The remake is based on the original story, written by Peter Filardi, but adapted to the screen by Ben Ripley (who also wrote the script for, Source Code (2011)).

And once again, we have five student doctors: Courtney (Ellen Page) as the seeker; Jamie (James Norton) the player, willing to take a ride no matter how wild; the previous fire-fighter, Ray (Diego Luna); Marlo (Nina Dobrey) the competitive; and Sophia (Kiersey Clemons) driven to burn-out by her pushy mother.  All on their neurology rotation, all willing to par-take in the exploration of death and what comes after.

What they don’t expect is the enhancement of their intelligence.  And the price paid as darkness follows, as their previous sins haunt them once brought back to life.

Director Niels Arden Oplev (Millennium: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009) and the pilot of, Mr. Robot) has modernised the story by focussing on getting the medical science right and updating the technology by setting the death and resurrection scenes in an abandoned bunker kept fully equipped in the basement of the hospital in case of natural disaster, epidemic break-outs or the end of the world.

The film rests on the belief it’s possible and believable to kill, record brain activity and observe neural function, to try to capture life after death, to then be resurrected.

And there’s suspense in watching those willing to die.Flatliners

I could poke holes and mention things like, why would a bunker of hospital equipment be left unused?  Yet calibrated, software fully up-to-date, with consumables all current (and not expired like the young doctors!)?

And really, why would a doctor risk hypoxic brain injury, let alone death, to go along with Courtney for a chance at fame?  Particularly the charming Jamie – although a risk taker, I wasn’t convinced such a personality would go so far…

All questions aside, Flatliners was still an interesting and scary movie.

Notably, the performance from Ellen Page, who carried the film through those questionable moments.

But what made the original such a believable film was the characters.

The equivalent of the precious Randy Steckle (Oliver Platt) – the only one who didn’t flatline in the original – was Ray.  Yet, instead of the comic relief from Steckle, Ray was the saviour of the group, but really it felt like he was just side-lined.

The effects of ghosts appearing in the shadows amongst the drownings, the bedcovers and under the sheets covering a hospital trolley were used well without being over the top, making the film scarier than expected.

But I wasn’t blown away with the remake.

The dialogue and characters of the original still holds up (even if Kevin Bacon’s haircut doesn’t).  Here, the focus is more on the medical compared to the original which was more philosophical, the students with a genuine interest in the afterlife.

Making Flatliners (2017) intriguing but nowhere near as good as the original.