No Name Brand

There really isn’t much to say. This movie’s message was convey from the get-go. We as audience are learned enough to know that message so nothing is new here.  Behind every campaign and speech, someone is pulling the ropes and feeding the right words and that is what this film is about.  And plus there was a documentary on this subject so I don’t really know why it went so wrong.

First off, I give props for them to make the opening credits somewhat ‘different’. They opened with a voice over and fade out to logos. I was actually hopeful when I saw that opening credit. Something different! But boy were those comments from RT totally accurate.  This movie is all over the place.  It has seriously drama bits, humour, attempts at heart-strings and a lot of other stuff. It didn’t do a good job with this basket.  Nothing really sticks beyond the cynical view of voting campaigns.  And the worst part of it is was the jarring change of pace and focus.  Drama bit here and all of a sudden humour! And it doesn’t do it well.

Secondly, the fake hand holding.  Yes that is a thing.  It is a thing here.  Sandra Bullock’s character comes from a rocky past.  Her nickname in this world is ‘Calamity Jane’ which means she’s really good and really bad; or one would think with a nickname like that.  However, all we know about her past and why she left the showbiz was all because of her failures against Billy Bob Thorton’s character.  But somehow, she’s suppose to be really great at her job.  I mean I get all that so I do not understand why the script required every character to bring that fact up over and over again throughout the film.  It feels like mentioning it enough will make us forget that they never once told us why she was even good at her job beyond the newspaper clippings at the beginning of the film (And that wasn’t even very clear).

And lastly, the characters.  Out of Bullock’s character, I didn’t really care for them.  Actually, that’s stretching it, I didn’t really care for her either.  Sad thing is that they tried to build her up into this might ‘Calamity’ yet everyone in the film doubts her, I mean even her employer doubts her and tells her she needs help but yet she’s suppose to be this amazing strategist?  For me, Bullock was just playing any other character she played before: emotional.  There wasn’t much to it.  At the beginning of the film she’s sick so she’s out of the game but yet they don’t build up the other characters.  Then slowly she becomes someone they can rely on and yet not totalyl trust. And then at the end, the team still doesn’t get her.  So what the heck? (Mackie nodding and giving her the go ahead to ‘do your thing, gurl’ doesn’t count) Why have a team of people when you clearly have the focus on one person and everything else is disposable ?(haha, the irony of that) I don’t even have to get into the others cause nothing was done really.

Long story short is that this movie has forgettable characters, a lot of horrid dialogue and just poor narrative decisions (just like the Black Mess, it was actually a flashback story that made NO impact on the narrative).

So yeah, with all that said, do you still want to watch this?  You get to see Bullock’s butt.

But all in all, this movie is a reminder of the behind the scenes of politics and it is a good reminder.  And it couldn’t come out at a better time since both US and Canadian politics (heck, the world) is up in the air and up for grabs.  So it is unfortunate for them to have this calibre of a movie at this time. It really is just lazy and points to more of a “look at all those lies and manipulation of politics” rather than a positive view of how citizens should get more involved in their local/national political understandings (but that’s thinking too out of the box for this type of film).


Peekaboo! I see YOU!

Video review: PENDING

Despite all the reviews that I have read on for this film, I actually enjoyed this. I was looking for the things people ‘complained’ about which were largely ‘weak characters but with stunning visuals’.  I mean it is a given that the production design is top-notch because we are talking about Del Toro so it was easier to focus on what was considered as ‘weak’.  And I have to say this movie really depends on what you as an audience is ‘looking for’.

If you bought into the whole advertisement of this movie being a Halloween film with crazy aesthetics and scares all around, you will be disappointed.

However, if you can be more open minded and really consider what Del Toro tried to do here, you will enjoy this much more.

First off, yes, this is not a horror film.  There are no crazy ghost chasing people down to kill them left and right but rather these ghosts are here as your guides.  Remember, this is a gothic film so of course the ghost apparitions are much more scary than say your friendly neighbour Casper the Ghost.  One could argue that the stuff these ghosts do throughout the film was done poorly and not effectively but remember GOTHIC! and seriously, just buy the ghost logic of ‘if you die a horrible death, all you can do it come back in your corpse-form and point and speak the same words over and over again’.

Secondly, this is more of a love-tragedy film; think Shakespeare.  The relationships between the three leads is a story we have seen before.  Man marries woman.  Man’s sister has plotting plans for this marriage.  Woman is clueless.   Just also add: Woman can see ghosts and they somewhat help her find out the plot. So yeah that’s basically the entire film and if you are fine with that for a plot, you’ll enjoy the film much more.

Lastly, go with the flow.  There are certain things that you just have to accept here.  Love, apparitions, and curiosity.  This is not a film mar with logical chess moves. There are cliche ‘horror’ troupes here such as the ‘I heard a sound, it sounds strange but I’ll investigate regardless’ and its that innocence of the character that makes all this much more compelling.

I find the three cast really interesting and fun to watch. Sure there is hardly a real cast outside these three but I am satisfied with their performance.  Jessica Chastain has always down nothing for me but she really shines here as she plays such a mysterious, intense creepy character.  I am totally done for her playing a Bond villain (a dream of hers, apparently).  Tom plays the charming smooth type of guy we all known since Loki and it plays well here though it is strange that he is always missing during those ‘sleepwalking’ sessions for Mia Wasikowska.  And yes, our main lead, she plays an innocent, curious, determined young lady, despite the circumstances she goes through in this film and I was totally find with her figuring things out despite the fact that audiences knew the marriage was suspicious (which somewhat resembled a play and I enjoyed this aspect of the film).

So there you have it. How I felt about the film.  Of course, there were flaws but they were excusable faults though like Tim says, Del Toro really should get someone to edit his scripts so we can be saved from the awkward dialogue and narration here and there.  But all in all, I enjoyed this film and seriously you are missing out on something (you’ll get something out of it) if you simply didn’t go watch this cause it’s not the horror film that was advertise for this Halloween.


just realized something.

last year i watched 120 movies
this year so far i have 77
wonder if i can beat it…lawls.
i need 43 more films

These are the films I’ll definitely watch (16)
Crimson Peak
Steve Jobs
Bridge of Spies
Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse
The Peanuts Movie
Mockingjay Part 2(since I’ve seen all the ones before it)
The Good Dinosaur
In the Heart of the Sea
Force Awakens
The Hateful Eight
The Revenant

These are films I potentially might watch (11)
Sleeping with Other People
The Keeping Room
The Night Before
Victor Frankenstein
The Big Short
Every Thing Will Be Fine

even if i watch all that
it only be 101…..
i guess that 120 record will stand.

Black Mess

Video Review: English Cantonese

Seriously this movie was one imaginary hour too long. The movie clocks in at 2 hours but it felt more like a 3 hour movie which is ironic because if the actual movie was 3 hours it probably would have been more fleshed out and a lot more ‘enjoyable’.

I mean seriously, everyone in this film was fine. Johnny returns to form and shows that he can be a ‘badass’ rather than a bumbling dude with an inch thick of make-up on for most of his films. Joel actually has character development throughout the film, actually though, he’s the only that really changes throughout the entire film.  And everyone else? They were fine with what they were given.

I feel like with this movie I have more things to say in terms of how it could have been better than say what this film was actually trying to do. I mean in all seriousness, I do not want to be the reviewer who thinks of all the ways a movie can be better (this is why THE ASSASSIN review is taking forever to write). But when a movie has a solid cast and plot and delivers this? It makes it all that much easier to do.

I mean this movie largely creates a world of violence and ‘bad stuff’ and its compelling to a point even though you hardly see the illegal activities that occur but simply mentioned throughout the film.  The plot devices and the character motivations are clear cut but it just seem the writing didn’t want that to take precedent but rather let’s just reinforce the badassdom of Johnny through and through the entire film.  There are many character sub plots scattered throughout and I think if they actually managed to flesh those story points out, the movie would have been so much more enjoyable; this is why I say if the movie was actually 3 hours it might have done better.

So it is sad to see that the team behind this just wanted to show off the one thing that everyone came to see which was Johnny being violent and all in all. That in of itself wasn’t even done well as he was the same person throughout and there was no highs or lows for his character which made his character super bland and predictable.  I mean seriously, the first time he says “I need to talk to you”, it has tension and you’re guessing as to what is going down but when the same thing goes down every single time he says the line, there is no tension and you’re just sitting there waiting for him to get violent.

Again, it is all sad to see how this movie played out. Good characters, compelling storyline (of a mob boss’ rise to power despite all things) and a solid cast should be used much more critically. So there you have it, how I felt about Black Mess.

Tidbit: I heard how this movie is pretty much a 2015 wannabe of Goodfellas and people didn’t like that. I haven’t even seen Goodfellas and I still didn’t like this movie.

A True Love Story

Video review: COMING SOON!

Caught this at VIFF2015 solely for the reason that it was Korean and this was the description they had for the film on, ‘ Once a decade Korea comes up with a black comedy that leaves you gasping because it’s so willing to stretch the boundary between pleasure and pain, laughter and tears. We’ve mapped these beacons in VIFF over the years: in the 1990s it was Kim Sangjin’s Attack the Gas Station and in the 2000s it was Jang Junhwan’s Save the Green Planet. Now Alice in Earnestland turns up to blow apart the 2010s. ‘

I mean with that said, my expectations of the dark and grimy were pretty high. And sadly, I can tell you this movie ain’t that dark but it may be the fact that I watch actual dark and grimy films compare to black comedies.  So maybe it was my fault to expect an funny Old Boy. But I digress.

I would rather call this movie a love story so dark it could be considered a black comedy instead.  Anyway…

The premise is simple. A woman does all she can to support her husband.  That is all.  Well, obviously it is with this mindset that she has to go through the various situations she does during the film and overall I would say it was an all right attempt.  Through and through this is a love story or more so a love story in a fantasy world.  In such the situations are far-fetch and ‘wild’ and you sort of throw logic out of the window.

The director and the cast does a good job in helping you throw logic out.  Our protagonist goes through all these ordeals that don’t seem possible but yet as audiences you are bound to pity and have a lot of empathy for her situation.  Working hard with such a earnest heart wins people over.

This is the directorial debut of the director and I must say I saw bits of Wes Anderson throughout.  It’s the Wes Anderson systematic style of shooting a scene and focusing on small actions which makes the scene.  Cinematography wise this movie is fine though the narrative that starts off in the beginning is much stronger compare to the end.  This is due to the fact that the movie is told in flashbacks until the story meets up with the current storyline.  I feel that the flash back and forth faded as the movie progress but it would have made a stronger impact if the back and forth thing stuck around for a while longer but then again that’s more of a script/screenplay issue which could have been addressed as the director wrote this herself. But all in all, not a bad directorial debut.

Now for the lead herself, Lee Jung-hyun does a great job in winning your hearts and affection as she really tries her best for her marriage and husband. This makes it so much more when you see the stuff she goes through in the film.  The premise is simple and rather realistic as one would assume these things actually happens but its the twist and turns that make this film a black comedy.  The leadups and the such are acceptable but not as dark as I would like it to be.

All in all, if you are expecting a funny Old Boy, you won’t find that here but rather you’ll find a movie that explores the things a wife has to do when she will do anything to ensure her husband’s happiness. If you find that intriguing, go for it. I wouldn’t say this film was as waste of time.  Lee Jung-hyun is good on the eyes and she does a good performance.  I guess this movie says more about me than about the situation in which I can stomach a lot more darkness than I would like to admit.