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The-Titan-2018-movie

I am the fish man what doesn’t fuck.

So I should have had this review up last night (when it was Friday) but I went and saw Ready Player One and missed my window. Still, felt the need to write about The Titan partly because I won’t be writing about two other mostly bad Netflix movies I’ve seen recently: The Cloverfield Paradox and The Outsider. I know there’s been this narrative going lately about how Netflix is way more about quantity than quality, and they’re greenlighting or acquiring a lot of mediocre movies, which is sullying their brand. There’s also the disruptive element of their presence in the marketplace which forces the big film institutions like the studios, theater chains, and even Cannes to react to them in childish, market-driven ways while hiding the reality behind lofty, vague assertions of cinematic purity. I’m still here for Netflix and yes, I do believe they deserve awards consideration at both the Oscars (for whatever little that’s worth) and Cannes.

But none of that makes The Titan a good movie. It certainly won’t change any minds about Netflix’s sketchy standards. The main issue with this one is that it’s pretty interesting for about the first forty minutes only to abandon all sense and credibility for one of the worst third acts I’ve seen recently. Interestingly, the problems in The Cloverfield Paradox and the wet fart The Open House were similarly silly, broken departures from whatever elements were working beforehand. There’s probably room for a great deal of discussion around the prevalence of broken, shitty second acts in major Hollywood genre movies versus the nose-dive third acts of smaller, mid-budget movies of the type Netflix seems to love picking up. This won’t be that, but maybe keep it in mind as we roll. Read the rest of this entry »

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ritual

Horror fan shouldn’t sleep on this one.

Some people are rather wrong-headedly referring to Netflix’s The Ritual as a Blair Witch also-ran or “The Descent with boys”. There’s some aesthetic overlap with the former and some set-up overlap with the latter, but The Ritual‘s story and themes have very little to do with either of those films. Or any other horror film I’ve seen for that matter. Doesn’t mean this is an instant classic, but it’s a pretty confident and robust movie with a ton on its mind –things that may not be immediately apparent if you don’t try and dig in a little and see what it’s saying about masculinity, fear, courage, and what we’re willing to give up to be safe and secure. Directed by David Bruckner and based on the novel by Adam Nevill, I’ll leave it to those who’ve read it to tell me whether it’s pretty close or does its own thing. I do plan to read it now, based on the strength of the movie alone. I saw this before I saw Annihilation (review soon I think) but that movie had the same effect. I immediately went and bought the book(s) and those ones are pretty different.

Anyways, a solid and unusual exploration of an interesting theme isn’t the only thing that makes The Ritual worth checking out. For horror fans, there’s a ton of spooky imagery and a creeping sense of dread that pulses through the movie. On top of that, it seems like the type of horror movie where they hold the monster back because they’re not confident about the effects or what its overall “scare” factor will be. But it turns out that it’s the opposite. This movie is fully confident about its monster and though it waits to show it off, when it does it’s full speed ahead and I’ve got to say that it’s one of the creepiest and most interesting monsters I’ve seen in a movie for a long time. The only thing that’ll top it in 2018, I’d wager, is the creepy fucking bear in Annihilation. That guy is one of the all-time scariest movie creatures though so the bar ain’t low.

SPOILERS AHEAD Read the rest of this entry »

8-6

Being a somewhat original historical action movie for people who really like skiing.

Yes. This. I am bringing back Friday Night Netflix, a very sporadic feature I used to do around the time I first started this blog. Back then I wrote these as a way to review movies I’d seen a bunch of times that I figured were underseen but easily available on Netflix. Now I’m expanding that to include movies I’ve never seen before, also easily available on Netflix, whether I like them or not. And no, Netflix doesn’t pay me to write these, but they certainly could and I wouldn’t mind.

Anyways.

For The Last King, a Norwegian and Irish co-production about an interesting period in Norway’s (very interesting) history… I guess I kind of liked it? It’s more like an 80’s buddy movie with delusions of historical epic than it is like a Kingdom of Heaven or even the show Vikings. The production is detailed and the action is coherent, but the story is about as straightforward and characters as archetypal and broadly sketched as an 80’s or early 90’s Schwarzenegger vehicle. None of this is bad, but wrapped in a package that lacks any particularly standout performances or “holy shit” moments, it might not be propulsive enough to hold the interests of people who can see a better version of basically the same stuff elsewhere on Netflix (The Last Kingdom for instance).

That said, this movie has some novel action (skiing fights!) and takes place in an unfamiliar setting. Norway and Scandinavia are usually explored in terms of the Viking era and rarely any other era. This movie takes place in the 13th century during a civil war period. You don’t really need to know much background, but this movie sent me down a wikipedia rabbit hole of Norwegian history so hey, interesting stuff. Read the rest of this entry »

Crom.

Ah Netflix, what auspicious timing you have. On the heels of the release of the abortive attempt to bring this classic character to new audiences, Netflix has put up the original 1982 film in glorious HD. There was a time where it wouldn’t occur to me to do a Friday Night Netflix for this one but I’ve learned recently that it’s under-watched and consequently underrated for that sub-generation of 20-somethings whose parents didn’t raise them on a steady diet of 80’s movies. Conan the Barbarian has been extremely influential for me and remains not only one of my favorites but in my consideration one of the best movies ever made. It’s also the jewel of this genre, unrivaled not only by the string of similar movies made at the time but also any subsequent attempts to revitalize it for new audiences. Attempts like the Conan the Barbarian that just flopped horribly in a theater near you. That movie cannot hold the jockstrap of this earlier version and no, I don’t say that because I’m biased against remakes (I am a bit sometimes) or because of nostalgia. I watch Conan the Barbarian 1982 fairly often, multiple times a year, and it holds up like a motherfucker.

Now I’ll tell you why and why you should, if you haven’t, watch this fucking movie. Especially if you’re a dude. Or if you need a good reason to like Arnold Schwarzenegger as this is the definitive Arnie movie, whatever they say about Terminator. Actually, you should probably just see this movie as soon as possible. Now onto the why. Read the rest of this entry »

Couldn’t get much further away from the candy-coated romanticism of Baz Luhrman’s Australia than this.

The Proposition came out to rave reviews in 2005 and chances are, if you’re any kind of movie person, you’ve heard of it. I can, however, count how many people I know who’ve actually seen it on one hand. It’s definitely worth seeing, especially if you like your Westerns bleak, Australian, and about as grim and gritty (and I do mean gritty, this shit is caked in grit) as possible. It also helps if you liked The Road as this film has a similar aesthetic as it should given that John Hillcoat directed both. Don’t like movies much, though? Okay, how about music? Yeah? Well, Nick Cave wrote this motherfucker. That’s right. If you aren’t interested in all I’ve told you and/or haven’t heard of Nick Cave then stop reading this and go listen to some Grinderman. Or better yet, watch The Proposition and then listen to some Grinderman. Read the rest of this entry »

Zoe and Daryl are kind of the perfect couple. At first.

At some points during its running time, Breaking Upwards feels like the exact kind of all-too-precious hipster opus that seep from New York City like a relatively inoffensive pus. The movie can’t really get away from this. It’s about 20-something Jewish young adults in NYC. They have frank discussions, deal with overbearing parents, contemplate their Jewishness, and dress like all the people copying their style here in Saskatoon. They also go to hip parties, aspire to be writers or actresses, and so on. Whatever the trappings of their lives, though, it is their relationship to each other (and maybe to others, mileage will vary) that wins past the familiarity of the concept and the general lack of especial sympathy for upper class New Yorkers with white people problems. And who ride those fucking horrible retro bicycles I hate with every fiber of my being. I don’t know why they offend me so, but they do. Oh how they do. Read the rest of this entry »

Ah the illusive young-girl-coming-of-age movie.

I know, I know… I already put up a Friday Night Netflix today. Oh well, today you get two. I debated bothering with this movie but I guess I have some things to say about it so I might as well do it now while it’s fresh and not wait til next week when, depending on my mood, I’ll probably rather write about Breaking Upward or The Shape of Things. Fuck it, on to Fish Tank! Read the rest of this entry »

Oh noes, Todd Ingram finally broke the Moon!

So this week we’re going to talk about an anime movie. I was sick the other day so I have enough recent Netflix discoveries to last the rest of summer, but this time I thought I’d do something a little different. I’m super picky about anime and Netflix has allowed me the opportunity to test out some stuff I wouldn’t have bothered with otherwise. So far, this is the only full-length movie I’ve been able to bring myself to watch and it was definitely worthwhile.

Origin: Spirits of the Past may be a boring and generic title (the actual Japanese title translates to Agito the Silver-haired which isn’t much better), but the movie is a heartfelt post-apocalyptic story with strong environmentalist themes and an overall texture that would not feel out of place in one of Studio Ghibli’s similar fantasy films. Some people probably feel like Origin is really derivative and would count it against the movie. I feel like I’ve seen the anime (Trigun) and feature fims (Nausicaa: Valley of the Wind, Castle in the Sky, and Princess Mononoke in particular) that it most heavily draws from and I don’t really have a problem with it. I mean, Japanese entertainment culture is a lot more (from what I understand) easygoing about “artistic theft” than we are in North America. Ultimately, even if it feels derivative it is still borrowing from the best and that has to count for something otherwise Tarantino is fucked too. Heh. Read the rest of this entry »

This is Dr. Bagby with his parents, long before his pointless death.

A warning.

Kenton and/or Cat, if you’re reading this you need to not be reading this. Moreover, I want you to recall Werner Herzog’s advice to that woman in Grizzly Man who got left with the recording of Treadwell and his girlfriend getting mauled. You must never watch this movie. If that isn’t convincing, imagine me saying it with an angelic, fatherly German accent. Rinse/repeat.

Anyway, with that out of the way, let’s talk about one of the most gut-wrenching documentaries you’re ever likely to see. That is, if you have the fortitude to handle how sad, angry, and listless this story stands to make you. You’ll notice that I’m sort of discouraging you here, right? Good. That’s intentional. Dear Zachary is a fucking hard movie to watch. You should know what you’re getting yourself into. Read the rest of this entry »

When used wisely, John C. Reilly is a force of fucking nature.

Cyrus is an offbeat dramedy that no one saw last year. For my money, it’s a really good movie that has plenty of laughs and a big beating heart. Some probably saw it thinking it would be another wordy comedy banking on the personal brands of its two male leads, John C. Reilly and Jonah Hill. The surprise is that they are both doing not only comedy (and more restrained than either is usually known for) but subtle, nuanced character work. It’s still a funny movie, like I said, but it’s also very grounded in its relationships and the human frailty of its characters. Read the rest of this entry »

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