Movie Review: The Mummy (2017)

You almost gotta respect the sheer gall of Universal and its producers with this one. Fuckers were so confident that their *checks notes* “Dark Universe” was gonna kick off and be an instant hit, in order to try and ape the success of the MCU. But it flopped harder than a fish that was dropped from a plane. But hey, they did manage to get *checks notes again* one movie in, so let’s finally have a look at it, shall we.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “The Mummy” from 2017.

When Egyptian princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella) wakes from a millennia long slumber to wreak havoc on the world, it is up to soldier Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) and archaeologist Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis) to find some way of stopping the rampaging mummy’s crusade. Where to begin… well, I can begin by saying that the story here isn’t outright horrible. Reluctant hero, end of the world threat, ancient curses, destinies, there are ingredients here for a solid adventure flick… which was done very well in 1999, but I digress. As far as how it’s put together here, there’s nothing outright offensively bad here, but there’s also nothing that great either. It’s just a fairly uninspired rollercoaster, pretty much never rising above a shrug for me. It’s more or less the safest execution they could’ve tried for an action-fantasy-horror blockbuster in order to try and misguidedly kick off a cinematic universe. On occasion it threatens to include some fun world building, or there’s a cool idea for a set piece, but because of the lifeless execution, it pretty much just feels like a creative flatline from front to back.

The characters in this are… no, that’s it, they just are. Nothing of interest is really done with them. Our leading man, Nick, is a bit of a dick, a prick, a dude that should be smacked with a stick… but it’s not in an interesting way. He’s just a flatly written twat who we should find engagement from because he’s our hero, played by movie star Tom Cruise. Now, Cruise tries, and he’s fine in the role, but the character itself is just flat as hell. Annabelle Wallis plays an archaeologist who gets involved in the adventure, and she flip-flops between being a no-shit-taking lady who doesn’t sanction Nick’s buffoonery, and having a soft spot for him, but it’s not handled with enough grace and nuance to properly work. Wallis tries her best here, but she doesn’t get enough stuff to really dig her teeth into. Sofia Boutella is pretty good as Ahmanet, our main antagonist, and that’s mainly because she has such a great presence on screen. Otherwise the character is a fairly typical almighty entity type villain. Then there’s Russell Crowe as Dr. Jekyll, the head of an organization that’s into chasing monsters. Character isn’t much on paper again, but I really liked Crowe in the role, because he got to have a bit of fun here, which led to one sequence that made me smirk because of his performance. So yeah, Crowe’s fun. The cast also includes people like Jake Johnson, Courtney B. Vance (wasted), Marwan Kenzari, and more, who try their best despite not having the best material.

The score for the movie was composed by Brian Tyler, and it’s alright. Some nice string work and decent brass sections… and that’s about it. Tyler’s a great composer, and he composed a score that worked alright here. Not his most inspired work, but it’s a decently solid bit of music.

“The Mummy” was directed by Alex Kurtzman, and I think he did *sigh* an alright job here. There’s nothing horrible about his direction, everything’s passably edited, and occasionally pretty well shot. He does decent work with the action scenes as well. The VFX here are solid, giving us a helthy blend of practical and CG. Really, the craft here is perfectly fine. It comes down to the uninspired writing and various production issues here. Nothing that really gets to feel inspired or like it has any heart to it.

This movie hasn’t been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 15% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 34/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 5.4/10.

Is 2017’s “The Mummy” one of the worst movies on the planet? No, not at all. But I also don’t recommend it, I feel like it’s a little too lifeless to really engage. Its story is a flatline, none of the characters really engage, the cast are okay, the music’s okay, and the direction and action is fine. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Mummy” is a 4.55/10. So I’d recommend skipping it.

My review of “The Mummy” is now completed.

Look, having a series of movies about a secret organization going after classic monsters isn’t a horrible idea… I just think the approach by the producers was very misguided.

Movie Review: Kiss of Death (1995)

The 90s were a fascinating time for crime movies/thrillers. Something about any movies in those genres made ’em infinitely watchable, even if they were fairly subpar as movies. So let’s see how this one fares.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Kiss of Death”.

Jimmy Kilmartin (David Caruso) is a convict trying to better himself after taking the fall for a crime he was kinda part of. And after a few years in prison he agrees to go undercover for the police in order to take down the psychopath gangster (Nicolas Cage) who led the job. The narrative in this is kinda hard to talk about. Not because it’s particularly complex (it’s not), not because it’s nuanced (it really ain’t), but because it’s so bog standard that it’s hard to muster any major explanation or analysis. It’s a fairly standard crime-drama narrative that doesn’t do anything exceptionally bad or great. Its biggest flaw is that the narrative never has any real momentum after the inciting incident, it’s scene to scene, no engaging escalation or natural flow. But aside from that weird snafu, there’s nothing here that sticks out much in either direction. The story is neither good nor bad, it just… is.

The characters in this are… that’s it, they just are. They’re not egregiously hollow, but they’re also not really engaging. They’re… fine. What I can full on praise here though is the cast. David Caruso may not change facial expression much, but he can deliver his lines quite well, and while not exactly super engaging as a leading man, I think he works pretty well here. Samuel L. Jackson’s here too, playing a very angry cop that Caruso works with, and he’s really good (which no one’s surprised by). Then there’s the living legend Nicolas Cage as “Little” Junior Brown, the main antagonist of the movie. A crazed, violent, unpredictable gangster. The character himself is fairly whatever, but is elevated by the performance of Cage, who gives 140%. He goes big, and he isn’t afraid if it looks a little silly, and it makes the character super entertaining to watch, becoming the highlight of the movie. Supporting cast is pretty good too, containing people like Stanley Tucci, Michael Rapaport, Ving Rhames, Helen Hunt, Kathryn Erbe, Philip Baker Hall, and more, all delivering solid work.

The score for the movie was composed by Trevor Jones, and it was alright. I really like the main theme, which is a track that blends traditional orchestration with guitar in  way that isn’t super original, but sounds really nice nonetheless. The rest of the movie has a fairly bland orchestral score that works just fine for the movie. There’s also a few licensed songs used throughout, and they work fine too.

Loosely based on a movie of the same name from 1947, “Kiss of Death” was directed by one Barbet Schroeder, and I think he did an alright (that seems to be the word of the day, huh?) job with it. There’s nothing really wrong with the direction, but there’s also never really anything too great either, no unique flair. Just perfectly passable direction.

This movie’s gotten some mixed to positive reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 68% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 72/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 5.9/10.

So yeah, “Kiss of Death” is just fine, a perfectly passable thriller to put on in the background on a rainy afternoon. The story is fine, the characters are fine, the performances are really good, the music’s pretty good, and direction is fine. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Kiss of Death” is a 6.11/10. So I’d say it could be worth a rental.

My review of “Kiss of Death” is now completed.

Come for the Nicolas Cage, stay for the… Nicolas Cage.

Movie Review: Belle (2022)

Hi, how are you? Long time no see. Anyhow, let’s talk about some anime!

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Belle”.

Following a traumatic event many years ago, high schooler Suzu (Kaho Nakamura) has become a shadow of her former self, becoming very quiet and withdrawn. But one day seh joins “U”, an online community where you can be whoever you want to be. In here she becomes Belle, an internationally beloved pop star. However, her reign soon takes a turn after she finds out about a mysterious user known as The Beast (Takeru Satoh). As you can probably tell, this story takes some cues from “Beauty and the Beast. And it uses some of those elements as a springboard to tell a tale of finding oneself again, exploring the effect of trauma on a person, and how it makes on act in real life and online. And I think it does a beautiful job exploring its themes, all while perfectly balancing emotional resonance with popcorn friendly fun, creating a magnificently wonderful story.

Much like the story before them, the characters in this strike a really nice balance between an emotionally rich realness and easily digestible tropes. Many of the characters at first glance sort of fit into familiar stereotypes in various animes and coming-of-age dramas. But as we go on throughout the movie, more is unveiled about our cast to add depth. And then you add the characters’ reactions to the immediate events of the story, they feel more dynamic and real and I found the entire cast quite engrossing. Speaking of cast, the actors in this are all quite good. Featuring people like Kaho Nakamura, Takeru Satoh, Ryo Narita, Lilas Ikuta, Shota Sometami, Toshiyuki Morikawa, Koji Yakusho, and many more, there’s not a weak link in this cast.

The score for the movie was composed by Yuta Bandoh, Ludvig Forssell (SWEDEN REPRESENT!), Miho Hazama, and Taisei Iwasaki, and it’s great. It’s a varied mix of traditional orchestration with more more electronic/synthy sound, which I think perfectly marries the real world drama and cyberspace parts of the world/story marvelously. It’s exciting, it’s emotional, it’s fun, it just works so well. There’s also a few song-songs (for lack of a better word) done by Japanese group Millennium Parade, and holy fuck, they are so good. Not only are they a delight to listen to on their own, but they also help with the storytelling in their respective scenes. So yeah, this movie has some wonderful music.

“Belle” was written and directed by Mamoru Hosoda, with animation by his own studio, Studio Chizu. And once again, everything on that end is top tier. Every shot is lovingly crafted, drawing the eye to the visual splendor in every frame. What I also like is how they differentiate the real world from the world of “U”. The real world is pretty much all 2D animation, with fairly muted colors, whereas nearly everything going on inside of “U” is done in 3D with some really slick cel-shading and plenty of saturated and crisp colors. And just briefly, that 3D stuff is some of the best I’ve seen. Cel-shaded 3D in anime can often look really rough, but the insane wizards at Chizu managed to make it pretty much flawless. But pretty art/animation only gets you so far, but luckily I can happily say that Hosoda’s direction shine’s here. From the quiet scenes between characters, to the action scenes inside of “U”, to the more comedic bits, all of it is perfectly directed.

This movie’s been quite well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 95% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 83/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.2/10.

So yeah, I absolutely loved “Belle”. It’s an emotionally rich adventure that I can’t wait to revisit in the future. It has a fantastic story, great characters, great performances, fantastic music, and fantastic direction/animation. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Belle” is a 9.93/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Belle” is now completed.

Hosoda-san sure loves the internet, huh?

Movie Review: Spiderhead (2022)

Spiderhead, Spiderhead, is a head on a Spider’s neck. Though it is, also a, brand new film, on Netflix. Look ooouuuut… it is a Spiderheeeeeaaaad.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Spiderhead”.

The near future, convicts are given the opportunity to reduce their sentences by taking part in some medical experiments involving emotion-altering drugs. One such convict is Jeff (Miles Teller), who soon starts to question these experiments, and their charismatic creator (Chris Hemsworth). I love this premise, it’s open to so much interesting shit. It sets itself up to be a really intriguing suspense thriller and potential mindbender. And while I didn’t hate the execution of the narrative in the movie, I did feel that it was a little undercooked. What we get works just fine, even though it never reaches the heights of its potential. I wasn’t bored, I didn’t dislike any of it, but it plays things a bit too safe to fully engage.

The characters in this are alright. Again, the script is a little undercooked and plays things safe, so they never reach the depths that they potentially could. But I also didn’t find them utterly uninteresting, just underdeveloped. But what really saves them from being walking flatlines are the actors, all of whom do a solid job here. Miles Teller is really good in the lead role. Jurnee Smollett is great as Teller’s friend inside this odd facility. And then there’s Chris Hemsworth, who is by far the best part of the movie. He is clearly having a ball playing this shady, yet highly charismatic and outwardly friendly dude. He plays it really well, and he clearly has that glint in his eye that says “I am having so much fun right now!”, which makes his performance even more enjoyable for me. The supporting cast is solid too, containing people like Nathan Jones, Tess Haubrich, Mark Paguio, Angie Milliken, Charles Parnell, and more, all delivering solid performances.

The score for the movie was composed by Joseph Trapanese, and it was fine. It’s this low-key, synth-based score that works fine within its respective scenes. It doesn’t really stick out that much, but it also doesn’t ruin any scene. It’s fine. There’s also a good amount of licensed songs used throughout, and I think they work really well for their respective scenes, they feel well integrated into the storytelling.

Based on a short story by George Saunders, “Spiderhead” was written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, with Joseph Kosinski handling directing duties. And I will say, Kosinski does a damn good job directing this. His direction is slick, but never feels too perfect or glossy. One thing I really like about his directing is his usage of space. He gives the actors plenty of space to work in, while still making it feel confined and intimate, really benefitting the thriller vibes the story goes for. Really, Kosinski’s style really helps elevate this and make it a bit more watchable. And on a sidenote, the dude’s certainly having one hell of a summer ain’t he? He’s got this out on Netflix right now, but he’s also got the new “Top Gun” out in cinemas, which people seem to really like. So you know… good for him for finding work!

This movie just came out, so exact numbers can and will change somewhat. But at the time of writing it’s gotten quite a mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 52% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 55/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 5.7/10.

While it admittedly doesn’t live up to its potential, I still found “Spiderhead” to be a decently enjoyable little thriller. It has an okay story, okay characters, great performances, good music, and really good direction. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Spiderhead” is a 6.32/10. So while flawed, it’s still worth watching.

My review of “Spiderhead” is now completed.

Can’t wait for the sequel, Scorpionbutt.

Movie Review: Boiling Point (2022)

No, this isn’t a movie about that one Rat Boy song that was in “Need For Speed: Payback”. WHAT? What do you mean that reference is too niche? *sigh*. Anyhow, let’s check into the kitchen.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Boiling Point”!

It’s christmas time, and Andy Jones (Stephen Graham), the head chef at a nice restaurant, has to try to keep himself and his staff in check on what seems to be the busiest night of the year. Much like the title suggests, the story of “Boiling Point” is a constant simmering tension that is on the cusp of shit going boom at any point. Right from frame one when we first see Andy walking into the restaurant, there is this uncomfortable tension, and it never really lets up, in fact it just gets more and more tense as the night goes on, and things in the restaurant start getting more and more strained and uncomfortable for Andy and the other employees, confronting both their personal flaws and the demands of the customers. So yeah, I think the story here is fucking great. A really tense and highly compelling narrative of people trying to survive walls closing in on all ends.

The characters in this, much like the story, I find utterly compelling. They all have this lived-in quality to them, making them feel like real people in this world, and not just characters who’ve been plonked in there for the sake of a story. And what I also like is that the movie puts their flaws on display first and foremost, making for some really strong drama and character development. What also helps is the cast, all of whom are just on point. Stephen Graham is an actor I’ve admired for several years now, and once again he knocked it out of the god damn park. But I also have to commend the rest of the cast, containing people like Vinette Robinson, Alice Feetham, Ray Panthaki, Hannah Walters, Malachi Kirby, and many more, all of whom are fucking spectacular.

The score for the movie was composed by David Ridley and Aaron May, and I will be frank… I have no memory of it. I watched it this evening, and I can’t recall any music of any kind, beyond the end credits song by Sam Fender (which is a good song). But the score itself, I sadly can’t comment on.

“Boiling Point” was directed and co-written by Philip Barantini, based on a short film he made a few years back (also starring Stephen Graham). And boy howdy, did he kill it. If you’re not aware, this movie was done in one long take, which is a gimmick we’ve seen in other movies, but I think “Boiling Point” uses it in a way that makes sense. It really helps capture the unrelenting pressure that is on the characters. There is no relief for them they’re constantly in the moment, and I think that’s beautifully captured through the tense direction, and Matthew Lewis’ impressive cinematography. It’s just incredibly well crafted.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 99% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 73/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.5/10.

“Boiling Point” is a suspenseful and really compelling drama. It has a great story, great characters, fantastic performances, and fantastic direction and cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Boiling Point” is a 9.60/10. Which does mean that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Boiling Point” is now completed.

You know, I wasn’t set on becoming a chef before I saw this, but now I’m even less inclined to do it.

Movie Review: Unhinged (2020)

On the Crowe again, just can’t wait to watch Russ Crowe agai- Oh hi, didn’t see you there. Uuuuuhhhhh… let’s talk about Russell Crowe road movie.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Unhinged”.

After she has an altercation with a man (Russell Crowe) while in traffic, Rachel’s (Caren Pistorius) day turns into a living nightmare as the man begins stalking and terrorizing her. What I like about the story in “Unhinged” is that there’s no pretense of greatness here. At first glance it’s a popcorn thriller, and upon further inspection, still a popcorn thriller. And that is sort of the story’s biggest strength, as it’s just 80 minutes of relentless tension, Crowe chasing Pistorius around, wreaking havoc. It makes it a bit of  a breeze to watch.

The characters in this are fine. Rachel, our leading lady hasn’t really been given much in terms of personality, but what little there is works well enough to make me root for her, and I think Caren Pistorius does a really good job with the material. Now, let’s talk about the man… that’s how he’s listed in the credits, so don’t blame me for the vagueness. Anyhow, Russell Crowe is fucking terrifying in this. Just an unhinged, surprisingly calculating psychopath that I never really knew what to make of. He’s just a mysterious agent of chaos, and Crowe’s performance is absolutely fantastic. Anytime he was on screen, he was electrifying. Supporting cast’s solid too, limited though their screentime may be. Gabriel Bateman, Jimmi Simpson, Austin P. McKenzie, Juliene Joyner, they’re all good.

Score for the movie was composed by David Buckley, and I really liked it. Nice mix of electronic sounds with a few regular instruments every now and then, helps to add nicely to the tension throughout. Sure, it’s not the most groundbreaking of scores, but it worked well for this movie. So yeah… good stuff.

“Unhinged” was directed by Derrick Borte, and I think he did a really good job behind the camera. Action scenes are well shot and feature some really gnarly stunts and even grisly violence at times that really add to the intensity of the movie, making the danger of the situation and Crowe’s character feel all the more visceral. Borte really knew how to make the most out of the premise and out of Carl Ellsworth’s script, crafting some really suspenseful scenes that never really let up until the credits.

This movie’s been pretty mixed in its reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 48% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 40/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.0/10.

Is “Unhinged” one of the greatest movies ever? No. But if you’re like me and you like brisk, tense, pulpy thrillers right out of the 90s, then I can easily recommend it for a rainy afternoon. It has a fun story, okay-ish characters, great performances, really good music, and really good directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Unhinged” is a 7.88/10. So I’d say it’s worth a rental.

My review of “Unhinged” is now completed.

Vroomssel Crowe

The Fable: The Movies That I Really Like

Hey there, friends, been a while. I got no excuse for my absence, it just accidentally happened. But I wanted to get into the swing of things, so I thought I’d go with something a little less structured and more freeform than usual, and just talk about some stuff I watched during my brief blogging hiatus. So anyhow, let’s talk about some Japanese movies.

“The Fable” is a 2019 action-comedy based on a manga by Katsuhisa Minami, and it tells the story about a man known only as The Fable (played by Jun’ichi Okada). The Fable has been trained since childhood to become  a cold, ruthless, and highly skilled hitman. This bloody status quo comes to a halt however when his boss (Koichi Sato) tells him to lay low and not kill anyone for a while. And so he assumes the identity of Akira Sato, and moves with his partner-in-crime (Fumino Kimura) to Osaka to live a quiet life for the time being. But since this is a movie, troubles start to slowly crop up that may threaten Sato’s new, quiet life. It’s pacing can be a little ass-draggy at times, but “The Fable” is one hell of a fun time.
The setup in itself is a lot of fun and can lend itself to a lot of great comedy. Here’s this cold, matter of fact, calculating assassin, and he has to find something else to do in life, all while trying to keep his identity a secret. One way they play around with this is a scene pretty early in the movie where he gets into a scuffle with some local punks. The movie’s already established that he’s the biggest badass ever, so he could absolutely wreck them without any problem. But since he has to lay low, he not only takes the beating, but also calculates his reactions to sell the illusion to these douchebags. I know my explanation is very cut and dry, but that’s also because there is no way to sell the sheer creativity and comedy of the scene in words alone. Luckily, I won’t have to, as I found the scene on youtube. Sadly it has no English subtitles, but hopefully the visuals speak for themselves, so you get somewhat of an idea how of the film’s comedy and creativity.

But they of course play around with this as Sato tries to be a mundane man, trying to find a job, watching tv, making friends. But he also has his own unique quirks that add a few more layers to the humor. And it’s all done in really funny and unique ways that I just enjoy a lot. But the movie’s not all laughs, as it also flashes back to Sato’s youth a lot, showing what led to him being the way he is. And this helps build a lot of heart and genuinely interesting drama within the story.

I also love the action scenes in this. Kan Eguchi directed the movie, and he brings this really energetic flair to the action. Shootouts, close quarters fighting, the movie has a bit of most types of action, all of it incredibly creative and well choreographed.
The only point where the movie falls apart is the pacing. As previously mentioned, it does drag a bit in parts. Otherwise, it’s a really fun movie that I can happily recommend.

The Sequel: The Movie That is Better Than the First?

In 2021 we got a sequel in the form of “The Fable: The Killer Who Doesn’t Kill”. Sato’s still laying low in Osaka, living with his “sister”, working his mundane job. His peaceful existence is once again threatened however when his past actions come back to haunt him.
As was very unsubtly hinted in the headline for this section, I like this more than the first. If the first one’s around an 8/10, this one’s a solid 9/10 for me. It takes a lot of the ideas set up in the first one and polishes them marvelously. The story is more intriguing and emotionally affecting, the character development is a bit stronger, the action is kinetic as hell and feels more confident than in the first one, and the comedy, while a bit toned down compared to what we got in the first, is still REALLY funny.

Despite how bright and colorful the poster is, this movie can actually get quite dark at times. The narrative largely centers around a young woman who has some past connection to Sato/The Fable. Her arc in this movie is tragic and uplifting in equal measure, and they manage to wring a lot of tension and emotional investment out of it. Her narrative is also connected to the film’s main antagonist (Shin’ichi Tsutsumi), who is an outwardly kind and delightful man, but who we quickly find out is a bit of a twat. Their personal arcs intersecting with that of Sato’s makes for some really strong dramatic storytelling, while still allowing a lot of room for action and shenanigans.

Let’s talk villain for a second. In the first one there were a few, but beyond two semi-memorable, half-joke characters, I really don’t remember anything, most were just kinda there. Here however, we have that guy I talked about before, a seemingly benevolent and affable businessman. He makes so much of the drama work here, which is partly done thanks to his excellent writing, but most of it due to the spectacular performance from Shin’ichi Tsutsumi, who has to convey a lot of different things throughout the movie, and just knocks it all out of the park.

While I did mention that the comedy is toned down in this one, that’s not to say that this isn’t a funny movie. You still get Sato’s quirks clashing a bit when in a social setting, you still get other characters being used for comedic beats, and there’s still the occasional funny visual gag. The movie is still funny as hell, even if the movie relies less on overt goofiness like the first movie did.

The action is also better, feeling way more confident and intense than in the first on, giving us some beautiful, exciting, and insanely fun fights and chases spread inbetween the compelling drama and funny comedy. It’s just good shit.

I guess I’m just trying to say that I really like “The Fable” and its sequel. They’re really fun action-comedies that also happen to feature some really good characters and stories. As for how you can watch them, I can not answer. Over here in Sweden I watched ’em through Netflix, but I’m not sure where you, my international friends, might be able to catch them. Hopefully you’ll be able to figure that out, because these movies are a ton of fun.

Have a good one.

Movie Review: Ikiru (1952)

If you’ve followed me for a somewhat extended period of time, you’d know that I covered several movies by this director last year. Well, now the distributor behind those have another box set out (technically it’s been out since last spring, but I digress), and I’m gonna be covering those movies every now and then. So you know… fun?

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Ikiru”.

After he discovers he has terminal stomach cancer, aging bureaucrat Kanji (Takashi Shimura) begins to reflect both on his past, and on the very meaning of life. The story of “Ikiru” is one that is hard to describe, at least from a personal and emotional standpoint. Objectively, it’s a slowly burning, melancholic, yet still hopeful exploration of what it means to live, a tender and humanist look exploration into a man’s heart heart and soul. But I feel that any words I use to try to explain its effect on me aren’t enough. It broke my heart and put it together again in ways I didn’t think possible. It made me think about my own life, both the good and the bad parts. It’s a tragic and beautifully told tale that reached into my very soul and hit in a way I haven’t experienced in a while.

The characters in this all feel very… human, as if they weren’t just characters, but actual people who were simply being filmed, thanks to the sheer amount of love and nuance that they clearly had been written with. What also adds to this are the performances, none of which feel flashy or theatrical. In particular I want to mention Takashi Shimura, the man who plays our lead character. His performance is just utterly devastating and beautiful. We also get supporting work from people like Nobuo Kaneko, Shin’ichi Himori, Haruo Tanaka, Minoru Chiaki, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Fumio Hayasaka, and much like the story and characters before it, it was just beautiful. A gorgeously melancholic, yet hopeful chain of melodies played on strings, brass, and some woodwind. It’s just great. There’s also one song not originally composed for this movie used here, and it’s used to perfection. This movie just has great music.

Partly based on “The Death of Ivan Ilyich” By Leo Tolstoy, “Ikiru” was directed and co-written by Akira Kurosawa. And he once again proved here what a master he was. Perfectly flowing shots, all lingering for the perfect amount of time, all finding the right way of adding to the emotion of the scene. And the cinematography by Asakazu Nakai is absolutely breathtaking, from framing, to lighting, it all just looks stunning and adds so much to the storytelling on display here. It’s just a terrifically assembled movie.

This movie has been incredibly well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 98% positive rating with a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 91/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.3/10 and is ranked #100 on their “Top 250” list.

“Ikiru” affected me in a way that few movies have, it’s a stunningly beautiful exploration of what it means to live. It has a fantastic story, great characters, fantastic performances, great music, and fantastic directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Ikiru” is a 9.95/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Ikiru” is now completed.

Just… wow.

Series Review: The North Water (2021)

I love British TV. I mean, most countries tend to have good TV, but British programming just has something special about them that makes them infinitely watchable and/or interesting. So with that said, let’s talk about one.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “The North Water”.

The year is 1859. Former army surgeon Patrick Sumner (Jack O’Connell) finds himself taking a job on a whaling ship heading towards the arctic. And we follow him as he deals with working on this ship, struggling not just the elements, but his fellow crewmates as well. What I do find quite interesting about “The North Water” is that it’s not the most plot-driven show. It’s not about a MacGuffin, there’s no real goal to this journey. Instead it’s a dark exploration of how the trauma of a man’s past and present can change you, bring you closer to the darkness. It’s a somber, moody, and often disturbing deep dive into the damaged psyche of Patrick and a few of his fellow crewmates, and I found it absolutely riveting from start to end. The deliberately glacial (HA!) pace may throw some people off, but I personally think it added to the atmosphere, making any suspense and general sense of unease even greater, which helped make for one hell of an engaging narrative.

As I kind of implied, this show is very much more character-driven. And lucky for us, the characters in this are spectacular. All of them clearly damaged in some way, hiding either intentions or their own trauma, which led to me not really knowing who to trust, which adds a lot to the vibe of the show. What also helps is that there’s not a weak link in the cast. Jack O’Connell is fantastic as our lead, Sumner. Colin Farrell is unsettlingly fantastic as the enigmatic Henry Drax. Stephen Graham is terrific as the ship’s captain. And the rest of the cast, contining people like Roland Møller, Sam Spruell, Gary Lamont, Philip Hill-Pearson, Kieran Urquhart, and more, all delivering top notch work.

The score for the show was composed by Tim Hecker, and I think he did a terrific job with it. It’s a low-key, moody, almost horror-esque score, relying heavily rumbling strings, some subtle piano, and even occasional bit of synths to create an unsettling sound that fits really well with the setting and characters. It’s great stuff.

Based on the novel of the same name by Ian McGuire, all episodes of “The North Water” were written and directed by Andrew Haigh, and the man has just absolutely outdone himself. His direction really captures the feeling of helplessness and isolation that one might feel while going on this type of journey, making every moment of the journey feel uneasy. It doesn’t really matter if it’s a regular conversation, a flashback, or a scene of hunting being done, Haigh’s direction is tense and terrific. He also doesn’t shy away from showing us some grisly fucking stuff. The blood and violence in this show is quite disturbing, and at times even quite disgusting, and while I do think it works for the show and adds to the storytelling, I do think it could put some people off. So if you got a weak stomach or you generally just don’t like gruesome content… you have been warned. On a less icky note, the cinematography by Nicolas Bolduc is absolutely spectacular. The angles, the lighting, the colors, it all looks spectacular and works really well to elevate the storytelling even further. This show is just immaculately crafted.

This show’s been quite well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 95% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 74/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.6/10.

“The North Water” is one of the best shows I’ve seen in recent years. It has a great story, great characters, fantastic performances, great music, and fantastic direction/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The North Water” is a 9.88/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The North Water” is now completed.

Interesting to think that something so dark and disturbing can come from the same director as the tender and warm “Weekend”.

Movie Review: Hotel Artemis (2018)

At last, first review of the year not featuring a movie starring Ghostface. Don’t get me wrong, I loved going through the “Scream” movies, but a bit of variety doesn’t hurt, you know. So with that out of the way, let’s do this.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries, let’s check in at… “Hotel Artemis”.

Los Angeles, 2028. The city has been torn to shreds by constant riots. In the middle of this chaos is Artemis, a hotel/hospital dedicated to treating criminals, run by a woman known as The Nurse (Jodie Foster). And we follow her on what might be the most hectic night in the establishment’s history. I mostly enjoyed the story here. When it focuses on the lean, colorful contained thriller aspect, it’s a lot of fun. Where it does falter though is when it tries to go for a more serious tone, developing the backstories of the characters. Wanting to add more nuance and emotional depth to the narrative isn’t an inherently bad thing, but the writing isn’t really strong enough for it to feel successful, which does make those sections feel like a bit of a drag. Luckily, those parts aren’t the main focus of the movie, so for the most part it’s an enjoyable story… bar those select few sections, I mean.

The characters in this are decent, all stand out enough from each other, and work well for the story. But what does elevate them beyond just being passable are the actors. Jodie Foster, Sterling K. Brown, Sophia Boutella, Dave Bautista, Charlie Day, Jeff Goldblum, Brian Tyree Henry, Zachary Quinto, and more appear in this movie, and there’s not a weak link within the cast.

The score for the movie was composed by Cliff Martinez, and I think he did an okay job with it. As with most of his work, it’s based heavily in synths, and I think it fits with the neon-soaked, dingy style of the movie. It’s not Martinez’s best or most memorable score, but it worked fine for the movie. There’s also a few licensed songs used throughout, and they work well in their respective scenes.

“Hotel Artemis” was written and directed by Drew Pearce, and I think he did a pretty good job. His style does have this fun, almost comic book-ish charm that really keeps each scene feeling fun and charming. His action scenes are also pretty well handled. Not perfect, but they’re generally well made and fun. What also adds to the overall quality of the craft is the cinematography by Chung-hoon Chung, which is beautiful and really adds to the feel of the movie, making each scene even more engaging.

This movie’s not been super well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 58% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 58/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.1/10.

While it does falter a bit when trying to be more serious, “Hotel Artemis” is an enjoyable contained thriller. It has a pretty good story, okay characters, great performances, okay music, good directing, and great cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Hotel Artemis” is a 7.23/10. So while it is flawed, I’d still say that it’s worth renting.

My review of “Hotel Artemis” is now completed.

Welcome to the Hotel Artemis, such a dingy place, such a dingy place…