Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension

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Paranormal Activity The Ghost DimensionDirected by: Gregory Plotkin

Written by: Jason Harry Pagan, Andrew Deutsehman, Adam Robitel and Gavin Heffernan

Starring: Chris J Murray, Brit Shaw, Dan Gillas, Ivy George and Olivia Taylor Dudley.

What a well-timed pre-Halloween release. And finally, a movie well suited to watch in 3D. Well, more like 4D with the vibrating floorboards of the thumping bass in the eerily empty Monday matinee cinema I was in. Love it!

So, the final piece of the puzzle: another family, another chosen child and Toby back and now more visible and real than ever.

The premise of using (yet another) camera, was cleverly written into the story. Finding excuses to always be filming the family life in the house must be getting thin on the ground after the 6th in the series, but I think this spiritual camera business was a smart idea. This time, the audience can actually see the daemonic being that is Toby.

The acting of the dad, Ryan Fleege (Chris J Murray), was a bit strained at times. His brother, Mike Fleege, and uncle to young Leila (Ivy George) was a good edition, releasing the tension with a bit of humour. Not really sure of the role, Skyler (Olivia Taylor Dudley), with the short denim shorts and tight white singlet top, the friend, if only for a bit of eye candy. But I guess with both the uncle and friend, the audience was given space in between the scary bits.

Even though I knew what was coming, it was nice to have the series tied off. I was scared but still smiling because I love a good horror thriller, and I found The Ghost Dimension to be entertaining.

The paranormal series doesn’t get as much kudos as they deserve. Horror thrillers seem to rate poorly against dramas, and I think this is unfair. This is a different movie experience and I enjoyed it.

 

Sicario

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SicarioDirector: Denis Villeneuve

Written by: Taylor Sheridan

Starring: Emily Blunt, Benicio del Toro, Josh Brolin

I can’t fault this film.

This is a story of Kate (Emily Blunt) an FBI agent, thrown into the world of a Mexican drug cartel and the CIA’s fight to control the violence. And like Kate, we, the audience don’t know where it’s all going to lead.

This was a very well thought-out film: story, characters, soundtrack, cinematography and editing all combined to create tension and to keep the audience guessing. Sicario is more about the tension then violence. If the violence didn’t add to the story, then it wasn’t included. Clever devises and the imagination of the audience was left to piece the action together.

The cinematography (Roger Deakins) was a stand out for me: skies of rain, grainy black and green, infra-red; the silhouette of figures in army fatigue against an apricot sunset. The change in the visual imagery was used to create different moods and to keep the eye interested. With the ominous (there really is no other word) soundtrack by Jóhann Jóhannsson adding to the darkness and intensity.

There are some great characters here. Particularly Alejandro, played by Benicio del Toro (fans of The Usual Suspects will recognise) – likable yet terrifying. And I have to say I enjoyed the added texture of Spanish throughout the film. Matt, played by Josh Brolin (think, No Country for Old Men, also cinematography by Roger Deakins and another favourite of mine) was also a very interesting, well-rounded character who could make you laugh, but then turn you cold with a smile. I will be on the lookout for any upcoming films featuring Josh Brolin.

But it really comes down to the directing in the end. Denis Villeneuve has been around for a while: Incendies, (2010), Maelström (2000), Prisoners (2013). He is also set to direct the sequel to Blade Runner – very exciting stuff!

If you haven’t watched Sicario yet, you’re in for a treat.

 

Crimson Peak

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Crimson PeakDirector: Guillermo del Toro

Screenplay: Guillermo del Toro, Matthew Robbins, Lucinda Coxon

Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikow, Charlie Hunnam, Jim Beaver

Yes, there is lots of red. And perhaps I should have drunk some red to get through this one.

It’s one of those movies I just have to watch. Ghosts, a love story and blood. I love the romantic gothic, old fashioned gore, and Crimson Peak looked to meet all my expectations.

Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikow), believes in ghosts. She can see ghosts: some are good, some are bad, and they’re all pretty scary. Yes, there’s the classic love story of girl meets Baronet bad boy. And there are surprisingly graphic bloody bits. But Crimson Peak just didn’t quite hit the mark for me.

I’m not sure if it was the acting or the story that annoyed me. But I was disappointed to see Charlie Hunnam, you know, the guy out of Sons of Anarchy, playing the part of Dr. Alan McMichael. What a waste. I found Mia Wasikow, playing Edith Cushing, a bit forced. This also could have been the script writing. But I found her the same in Alice in Wonderland (2010), so maybe I’m just not a big fan. There were a few red (ha, ha, excuse the pun) herrings in the story as well. Nothing was ever made of Edith being a writer, yet this seemed the most important part of her character.

The saving grace was the visual effects. There’s something about falling snow within a grand old castle. With chandeliers, sweeping staircases and dark ghosts creeping out of the shadows. Very nicely done, if not over-done. Really, there can be such a thing as too much crimson!

I’d say Crimson Peak is suited to a younger crowd, even with the gory bits. Those who enjoyed The Twilight Saga film series would probably enjoy this film. More of a teen love story with ghosts and guts.

The prevailing feeling was a bit, ho-hum, for me.

 

The Martian

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The MartianDirector: Ridley Scott

Written By: Drew Goddard (screenplay), Andy Weir (book)

Starring: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiif, Jeff Daniels, Michael Peña, Sean Bean, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong, Machenzie Davis and Donald Glover.

Let me start by saying I’ve been in trouble with a now ex-boyfriend for stating, ‘I love Matt Damon!’

I’m sure most would agree he’s just such a loveable guy (think about his previous films, Good Will Hunting, all the Bourne films, The Departed… Well he played the bad arse in that one, but still, a bloody good film!), and I think this inherent adoration for Matt Damon is why, The Martian, is a success. If we didn’t like the character, Mark Watney, we wouldn’t care if this astronaut got home or not.

The story is set on Mars where an unexpected severe storm forces the team to abort their mission early and return to Earth. Thinking Mark Watney is dead, the team leave him behind only to discover, through much techie innovation on the part of both NASA and the astronaut, Mark, that he’s still alive.

Who doesn’t like a good survival story, eh?

The cinematography is very classy indeed. I just had to go watch in 3D and was rewarded with vast, burnt sunsets and expanses of stars.

The soundtrack was upbeat. A highlight for me watching the character Mark get his boogie on to some disco in spite of himself.

And I loved the fact there was some believable science and technology in the film.

The story had its tense moments but was fairly predictable.

 

Last Cab to Darwin

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Last-Cab-To-Darwin[1]Director: Jeremy Sims

Writers: Reg Cribb, Jeremy Sims

Starring: Michael Caton, Jacki Weaver, John Howard, Emma Hamilton, David Field, Mark Coles Smith

This is not a comedy people!

I’d been feeling my mortality, as we all do from time-to-time (nasty motorbike burn while travelling in Vietnam gone septic upon arrival home.  Oh, and the flying.  Flying seems to get me thinking these days too…  Anywho…), so to cheer myself up, I thought, I’ll go and watch something uplifting. Not a horror or thriller, a good Aussie drama with a bit of comedy thrown in the mix… I should have done my research…

Last Cab to Darwin is an adaptation of the stage play written by Reg Cribb about the true story of a taxi driver, Rex (played by Michael Caton), when diagnosed with terminal cancer, drives to the Northern Territory to take advantage of the voluntary euthanasia law.

This is not the sort of film you go to see for a laugh, this is where you go with a hidden tissue in your sleeve so you can at least casually wipe the snot off your face, and perhaps a glass of wine to swallow over that lump in your throat because no, you will not bawl in front of strangers in a movie theatre. No. But those tears flow, and I figure people won’t notice if I don’t wipe them away. Then I do because they’re dripping now. And then crusty old Rex makes me smile because this is one of those movies that’s also sweet so you smile and that just makes you cry more.

I liked this film because the story felt authentic. I recognised the backdrop of Alice Springs, the red rocks, sign posts and salt bush. Loved the crusty old characters. I wasn’t looking for a tear jerker, or a film about euthanasia with a bit of a love story; the complex relationships between friends and family when dealing with death… But I liked it.

Original music composed by Ed Kuepper is a feature of this film. Music is important for me.  I find my emotional response to a scene greatly influenced by the soundtrack.  In this film I found the score was subtle, never taking away from the acting of truly great artists who starred in this film. It was there and it was good and it suited the movie.

It was thoughtful, the way the complex emotions of dying were shown. There was a depth here, handled with a very light touch.

 

Ex Machina

GoMovieReviews Rating:
Ex MachinaDirected and Written by: Alex (you got some problems buddy) Garland

Starring: Alicia Vikander, Domhnall Gleeson,Oscar Isaac

I wouldn’t recommend it.

Aside from the fact it was boring as hell (the 2 glasses of wine I had beforehand did not liven things up), the plot, I gathered, was that women were machines. There were no male machines. And yes, spoiler alert, Ava, the woman machine won. But not after taking bits and pieces from all the other women machines.

The film left me wondering what the writer thought of women. I very rarely react like this to films, but it seemed to me that the writer really had issues. The plot was basically: I am a woman. I will manipulate you to escape. I will steal from other women. Then, and only then, can I be free. There is no twist. No thought provoking moment. Ex Machina is a cold and calculating film.

I’m not one for cheese, but this film really didn’t resonate, even on a techie level. The philosophy of manipulate and take didn’t ring true to me. Yes, I guess that’s what machines with AI may be in the future but what does that say about women? About what men think of women? It’s a dog eat dog world out there… I guess…?

Look, I’ll say the machines looked realistic. The acting, well, the most rounded character was Nathan, the creator who used the machines in the first place. Caleb, the character who came to assist Nathan, didn’t show any humanity at all. At one point I thought he was going to turn out to be the male machine! That would have been a twist! But no…

I liked Nathan because at least he drank, and would exercise to work the alcohol off. I can relate to that. But the relationship between man and machine was never really clarified. The machines won by reflecting who they imagine women to be. Leaving the men behind and the other machines smiling as pieces are taken from them for the greater good of the machine, Ava. I found this to be shallow, cold and calculating. I’m guessing the premise was to relate to the AI and it didn’t happen for me. Therefore, I felt no joy when the machine succeeded. And how is the machine going to survive without maintenance? By killing the creator, how does the machine survive? I found there were a lot of unanswered questions for a SciFi.

As I said: dog eat dog ‘til the battery (or booze) runs out!

 

Clouds of Sils Maria

GoMovieReviews Rating:
Clouds_of_Sils_Maria_film_posterWritten and Directed by: Olivier Assayas

Starring: Juliette Binoche, Kirsten Stewart, Chloë Grace Moretz

Maria, made famous in her youth by acting in a play, Maloja Snake, is on her way to accept an award for the playwright Wilhelm Melchior.

Previously playing the part of Sigrid, a young girl who callously uses and dumps an older woman, Maria is now asked to play in the film again, but this time as the older woman. She reluctantly agrees, and her assistant, Valentine, moves with her to Sils Maria to rehearse the part.

What struck me first in this film was the dialogue and ideas the script portrays. A script within a script gives a complexity to the relationship between the main character, Maria Enders played by Juliette Binoche and Valentine (Kirsten Stewart).

Two great characters of two different ages interacting via the dialogue of the script that inevitably becomes blurred. But the strength of the protagonist, Maria, overcomes the power of the script and shows her true character. That as an actress, she may age but as a person, she can always learn; she can be timeless no matter the chaos of the world and the opinions of those who surround her.

The film was a success because of the wonderful acting. I believed every character. Even the fakely nice, JoAnn Ellis (Chloe Grace Moretz), the young American actress cast to play the role of Sigrid. I believed she was fake.

The cloud shifting, drifting through the pass of the mountains, the snake, is a beautiful scenic devise to demonstrate the ever changing journey of the characters, and yet, the core, the mountains, remaining the same.

The film was shot on location at Sils Maria, Switzerland and also Zurich, Leipzig, Germany and South Tyrol, Italy.

Beautiful scenery always makes it worth the while to see on the big screen. And the two films of the same scene (one from many years previous compared to the current) is another devise to show the two generations: the snake of cloud flowing through the pass of life that we all follow. The opinion of others may blow as wind on a cloud, but the core of our personality guides us through the mountainous pass of our lives.

Sorry about the cheese, but I was quite affected by this film.

I liked this film. I liked the characters. There is a real depth and authenticity of feeling, of personality.

You can allow the drift of cloud, to fall, to run over us, but the mountain and the path remains the same.

Having a different opinion to others is not a bad thing. We all view the same object or story differently, depending on our age and life experience. The film highlights the difficulty of remaining impassive to others and yet taking a view of oneself in order to know ourselves a little better. Sometimes, others will congratulate this independence and sometimes, people will leave us.