Movie Review: The Battery (2013)

Did someone say zombies?  No? Well fuck, then I guess I’ll do it… LIVING DEAD! Damn it, I messed up.

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

The world has gone to shit (god, it’s been a long time since I last used that phrase). Zombies have taken over and humanity is spread thin over New England. And in the middle of this apocalypse are Ben and Mickey (Jeremy Gardner and Adam Cronheim), two former baseball players traveling together to try to survive. And that’s really about it, no grand goal, no major arc… just two polar opposite dudes trying not to die and trying to enjoy their new, horrifying life as best they can. And I appreciate that about this. I do of course love big stories with a lot of themes, but I found this one oddly refreshing. The relatively minimal story gives it a bit of a day-in-the-life kinda vibe that I dug. What also helps is that it never takes itself too seriously, keeping things pretty light, and even managing to be quite funny at times. And for a movie technically about corpses, it certainly has a beating heart. It does take a bit to really get going, but when it does, it becomes a really engaging story that I really fucking enjoyed.

Let’s talk about our two lead characters for a bit, because I love them. They’re opposites in most way, so for a lot of the movie they’re more or less clashing. Not in a hateful way, you can tell that they do care about each other on some level, but they’re not necessarily besties either. And what really helps sell these characters are Jeremy Gardner and Adam Cronheim, both absolutely killing it in their roles, while sharing some terrific chemistry.

The score was composed by Ryan Winford, and it was alright. It wasn’t super memorable, but it worked well enough for the various scenes it could be heard in. But then there also are a fair bit of licensed songs used throughout, and they’re all really good and help to establish the mood of the film in really wonderful ways.

“The Battery” was interestingly enough written and directed by lead actor Jeremy Gardner, and I think he did a good job with it. He clearly shows how to make the most out of having almost no budget, always finding clever workarounds for the various scenarios that he wants to show. And the cinematography by Christian Stella is really solid too, really helping maintain the film’s vibe.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 80% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.4/10.

“The Battery” is a very charming and refreshing take on the zombie film that I really enjoyed watching. It has a really good story, great characters, great performances, really good music, and really good directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Battery” is a 9.55/10. Which does mean that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Battery” is now completed.

Hey batter batter batter batter batter, SWING!

Movie Review: Before I Wake (2017)

Good *insert the time of day you read this in here*, hope you’re doing well. Time for more spooktacular content. So let’s go!

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Before I Wake”.

Jessie (Kate Bosworth) and Mark (Thomas Jane) are a loving couple who have made the decision to adopt a young boy (Jacob Tremblay). What they don’t know however is that this boy carries a special, strange secret. The story in this movie is an interesting one, often leaning more towards a dark fantasy rather than outright horror… at least early on. Towards the later half it leans heavier on the horror elements. And I must say that I found the story here quite enjoyable. It has some interesting themes that we’ve seen discussed multiple times in works by this director, and while this isn’t his most engaging or nuanced take on the subject matter, it’s still a generally well written and enjoyable narrative that managed to creep me out a few times.

The characters in this are alright, not the most deep or interesting ever, but they work well for the story. Kate Bosworth does a really good job as Jessie, Thomas Jane is great as Mark, Jacob Tremblay is of course great as Cody, the kid that the couple adopts. And then you also have an interesting supporting cast, featuring people like Annabeth Gish, Dash Mihok, Kyla Deaver, Jay Karnes, and more!

The score for the movie was composed by Danny Elfman, along with the Newton Brothers (talk about one hell of a teamup), and I’d say they did a solid job together. It’s an ambient score that manages to build a fair bit of drama, helping add a good bit of emotion to certain scenes. There’s also of course some classic loud horror hits, and they work fine, even though we’ve heard that sort of stuff a kajillion times.

“Before I Wake” was directed and co-written by Mike Flanagan (hell yeah), and also has a bit of an interesting production history. Apparently Relativity Media bought the rights in 2014, slating the film for a 2015 release, but later got pulled due the company going bankrupt. Eventually after much back and forth it then landed in the hands of Netflix, who finally released it in 2017 worldwide… except for the states who got it in 2018. So yeah, it’s an interesting tale. Anyhow, back to Flanagan.
This man doesn’t miss when it comes to directing. Even in this film, which isn’t one of my favorites he’s done, he still does a damn good job. His direction has this simmering, slowly burning, often dreamlike vibe that just makes each scene a hell of a lot more engaging.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 66% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 68/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.2/10.

While not my favorite film from Flanagan, “Before I Wake” is still an enjoyable little horror-fantasy that I can recommend. It has a good plot, pretty good characters, great performances, good music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Before I Wake” is a 7.44/10. So while flawed, it’s still worth watching.

My review of “Before I Wake” is now completed.

I don’t know about you, but before I wake, I sleep.

Movie Review: The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)

Are my eyes deceiving me, or is this another Month of Spooks post? Well it is! And what’s the deal today then? Exorcism? Interesting, let’s go!

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “The Exorcism of Emily Rose”.

When a priest (Tom Wilkinson) is accused of causing the death of a young woman (Jennifer Carpenter), lawyer Erin Bruner (Laura Linney) takes his case, soon finding herself diving into deeper, and more complex waters than she ever could have expected. If you read the title of this movie, you expect a straight up horror flick, right? Well, that’s not quite what we have here. “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” is actually for the most part a courtroom drama, with some flashbacks interspersed throughout that are mor horror-focused. And I personally liked the courtroom stuff quite a bit, as they provided a thematically and dramatically interesting debate on science vs. religion. But then we have the flashbacks to what happened with the character of Emily, and I kind of tuned out of those, because they leaned too much into typical horror tropes, without generating any actual scares. There’s decent atmosphere in those bits, but there’s no actual tension or terror, and I was uninterested in the storytelling in those bits. So yeah, the story here is a bit of a mixed bag.

The characters in this are all pretty interesting, and I like the way they’re used throughout the movie. Even when the storytelling loses me in those flashbacks, the characters are still decently engaging. And a lot of that comes from the spectacular cast, containing people like Laura Linney, Tom Wilkinson, Jennifer Carpenter (who steals the show), Colm Feore, Campbell Scott, Henry Czerny, and many more.

The score for the movie was composed by Christopher Young, and I think he did an alright job with it. Some of the track resonate decently, creating some good emotion. But some just feel a bit overbearing as they just try to create this droning horror-y sound. So the score can feel like a mixed bag at times, even though I can’t blame Young himself.

“The Exorcism of Emily Rose” was directed and co-written by Scott Derrickson, and I think he did a really good job with. Derrickson is a director who’s work I’ve enjoyed before, and this was his cinematic debut, so it was exciting to see where it started for him. And he definitely has a style and skill that was well beyond his years. Even though I didn’t find the horror bits scary in this, Derrickson’s direction still kept it slightly interesting.

This movie has not been super well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 44% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 46/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.7/10.

While it is a bit of a mixed bag, “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” can still be recommend for its courtroom drama and electrifying cast. The story is alright, the characters are okay, the performances are fantastic, the music is okay, and the direction is really good. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” is a 6.97/10. So while it’s very flawed, it’s still certainly worth a rental.

My review of “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” is now completed.

Your honor, I will exorcise my rights to plead the fifth.

Movie Review: Blood Red Sky (2021)

Welcome back. Time for more Month of Spooks content. So let’s just get into it.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Blood Red Sky”.

When a group of terrorists hijack a transatlantic flight, Nadja (Peri Baumester) does everything she can to make sure she and her son make it through the night, even if it means embracing a dark secret she’s been harboring for years. So it’s basically “Die Hard”, on a plane, but with a supernatural twist. And for a lot of the runtime they play around with that in a fun way, finding interesting ways of constantly escalating the predicaments of the characters. But I will say that I didn’t fully love it, and one of the reasons for that is pacing. This movie, despite having a fair few set pieces, feels really slow, really dragging its ass at times. And while a slow pace, if done well, can lead to a creeping tension, that’s not what happens here. When shit’s going down, it’s fun, but otherwise this is a bit of a slog.

The characters in this are fine. I enjoyed some of them, and others were just… meh. They try to give a little depth to a few of them, and those characters are probably the most enjoyable.  At least the cast is consistently solid, featuring people like Peri Baumeister, Carl Anton Koch, Graham McTavish, Kais Setti, Alexander Scheer, Dominic Purcell, Roland Møller, and many more.

The score for the movie was composed by Dascha Dauenhauer, and I thought it was good. Some sad strings, some heavy horror hits, the usual fair for a lot of spooky movies like this. I don’t know what else to say, it’s a perfectly passable score that works for the movie, even if it doesn’t stand out in any real way.

“Blood Red Sky” was directed and co-written by Peter Thorwarth for Netflix, and I think he did a solid job with it. The man has a good eye for composition, and his action scenes are well put together. I even think that when things are properly going down, he has a great sense of energy and momentum. If only the script or final edit was tighter, then we’d have a cracking thrill ride on our hands. But as it stands, this is still solidly put together, with some really good action. There’s even a bunch of really solid practical gore and makeup effects, so that’s nice.

This movie’s gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 80% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 43/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.1/10.

While it does feel a bit too long and slow at times, “Blood Red Sky” is a perfectly enjoyable little horror flick. It has an alright story, okay characters, really good performances, okay music, and really solid directing/effects. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Blood Red Sky” is a 6.78/10. So while flawed, I’d still say it’s worth a watch.

My review of “Blood Red Sky” is now completed.

Ich bin ein flugzeug

Series Review: Midnight Mass (2021)

It’s finally here, friends… THE MONTH OF SPOOKS! That’s right, Oc-fucking-tober, a month of spooktacular content! Yeah, I’m excited. So let’s go!

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Midnight Mass”.

“Midnight Mass” follows the residents of Crockett Island, a remote little mound somewhere in America, as strange things start happening around their home following the arrival of a new, charismatic priest (Hamish Linklater). This show is at its core a character-driven drama, delving deep into themes of grief, guilt, faith, and past traumas, and I find all of it compelling. The way that this stuff is handled throughout the seven episode run is some of the most nuanced and beautiful storytelling I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing in any show. This even gives extra weight to the sections which lean more on classic horror, both in terms of thematic depth and  in terms of how much suspense and terror it is able to generate. So yeah, the story here is emotionally resonant, nuanced, unpredictable, scary, and overall just fucking spectacular.

The characters in this show are all very flawed, layered, colorful, and insanely interesting to follow. All of them have some past (or present) trauma going on, and it makes for some incredibly engaging character work. What helps this further is the frankly insane cast, featuring people like Kate Siegel, Zach Gilford, Hamish Linklater (who is the standout for me), Henry Thomas, Kristin Lehman, Rahul Kohli, Annabeth Gish, Samantha Sloyan, Annarah Cymone, and many more, all giving top tier performances.

The score for the show was composed by The Newton Brothers, who absolutely knocked it out of the park with the music here. I’ve enjoyed their work in the past, but I feel like they really outdid themselves here. Of course you do have some traditional horror stings, but there are also a lot of quieter, more emotional pieces throughout the show as well, along with some frankly haunting bits as well. It manages to hit every kind of emotion possible, making for a very engaging soundscape that adds a lot to the show.

“Midnight Mass” was created for Netflix by Mike Flanagan, who also directed and co-wrote all the episodes. And I gotta say, the dude knocked it out of the fucking park with his directing here. Not that Flanagan’s direction has ever been bad, but you can tell that this was a real passion project for him just by how all out he goes with the way his shots flow, how tightly edited it is, and how just how ambitious it can be at times. Further adding to this is the cinematography by Michael Fimognari, which is beautiful and really adds to the storytelling. The special effects in this are all great as well. It’s just an insanely well crafted show that you can tell everyone involved put 250% into. I know that is mathematically illogical (and possibly impossible), but I don’t care, it’s how I feel.

This show has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 91% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 74/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.9/10.

“Midnight Mass” is an absolutely phenomenal horror show that had me glued to the screen from start to end. It has a fantastic story, great characters, fantastic performances, great music, and fantastic directing/writing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Midnight Mass” is a 9.94/10. Which does mean that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Midnight Mass” is now completed.

Month of Spooks is off to one hell of a start!

Series Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Season 6 (2001 – 2002)

Been a while since we did one of these, wasn’t it? Hold on, lemme check… Yup, December 2020, Jesus Christ. Shocking delay aside, my rewatches and reviews of this show finally continue. So let’s fucking gooooooo. Oh, and spoilers for the end of season 5, because that stuff ties into a few plotlines for this season. So if you haven’t watched that and don’t want spoilers… begone, come back later. As for the rest of y’all…

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” season 6.

Picking up months after Buffy’s (Sarah Michelle Gellar) heroic sacrifice at the end of season 5, she gets brought back to life by her friends. And we follow her as she’s reeling from that, seeing how what effect it has on her, all the while a new, yet familiar threat rises in Sunnydale, along with the usual subplots of the various members of the gang. Season 6 of “Buffy” has some interesting ideas within its narrative, and even has some great episodes and moments. But in the grand scheme of things it is quite dour and joyless. Yes, there is still fun to be had, ranging from the delightful “Once More With Feeling” to the charming “Tabula Rasa”, the latter of of which featuring one of my favorite visual puns in anything ever. But despite there being a decent amount of good stuff, there’s also a lot of things that really drag down this season for me. There’s the aforementioned tonal issues. The first half of the season isn’t quite as bad for that, but good god, the back half is almost pure misery all the time. Occasionally the seriousness leads to some good drama (the last episode for example, I think is damn good), but generally it becomes such an onslaught of pain that it becomes numbing. What doesn’t help is the general big bad of this season, which is a few people who’ve appeared in previous seasons. Not inherently the worst idea, and their specific plotline is oddly prescient to our society today. But in terms of how well it works within the show? Not really a big fan. They just become kind of annoying and don’t really add anything in terms of dramatic value. I see a lot of potential throughout the season, and there are some great fucking ideas throughout, but they either feel undercooked, incorrectly utilized, or missed. So yeah, in terms of story this season is a very mixed bag.

The characters here… you know, the characters of this show are usually a highlight. And obviously I still generally love them, but something about their development throughout this season is, once again, a mixed bag. Buffy herself remains pretty great, and her arc this season is one of the better ones, with Sarah Michelle Gellar once again absolutely fucking killing it. The only other arc I’ll talk about in a slightly longer format is that of Spike, played by James Marsters. Back in the earlier seasons he was the best. A Billy Idol-inspired vampire who was a crackerjack of charisma, violence, and badassery… Spike this season is a pathetic simp, and it’s one of the biggest mistakes the show’s made. Marsters still kills it with the material given, but the character’s development just doesn’t work. The rest of the cast, some get good stuff, some get less good stuff. Alyson Hannigan, Nicholas Brendon, Amber Benson, Emma Caulfield Ford, Michelle Trachtenberg, Anthony Head, they all put in good work.

The score for this season was composed by one Thomas Wanker (don’t laugh). And I think he did a good job. His style is generally understated, having a lower, more subtle tone that carries through, which I think sounds really good. This season also saw the return of Christophe Beck, as he did the music for the episode “Once More, With Feeling”, an episode which has some top tier tunes. So yeah, that’s cool. As for licensed tracks, there’s a handful used throughout, and they work pretty well in their respective scenes.

Season 6 of “Buffy the Vampire slayer” was, as always, written and directed by a whole slew of talented people, all bringing something interesting to it. It’s all generally well shot, with solid action and effects for the time.  Editing in some scenes can be a little too quick, but on the whole the craft is good. I don’t really know what to add, these guys basically found their groove around season 3, and there’s been much different in terms of improvement, it’s just a show that is well put together.

This season has been quite mixed in its reception. It has a 63% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes. On Metacritic it has an audience score of 4.9/10. And while there’s no season average, the show overall has a score of 8.2/10 on imdb.com.

Season 6 of “Buffy” is, as you’ve most likely gathered from my ramblings, a bit of a mixed bag. While it does sport some really good episodes and moments, on the whole it’s quite a mess. The story is mixed, the characters are pretty good, the performances are great, the music’s really good, and the directing is really solid. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 6 of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is a 7.20/10. So while it does have a fair bit of missteps, I’d still say it’s definitely worth watching.

My review of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” season 6 is now completed.

Just one more season to go.

Series Review: Guilt – Season 1 (2019)

Have you ever lied? If you said no, then that’s most certainly a lie, because we’ve all done it at some point. And since you lied to me, doesn’t that make you feel a little guilty? Anyhow, let’s talk about a Scottish tv show.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Guilt” season 1.

While driving home from a party, brothers Max (Mark Bonnar) and Jake (Jamie Sives) accidentally run over an old man, killing him. The two then do their best to cover their tracks and move on with their lives. However, as with most stories, things don’t work out quite so easily. Right off the bat, “Guilt” had me hooked. It had a great setup for a crime-thriller narrative that they then told in an often darkly comedic way. It made for one hell of an engaging watch… for part of it. The first two episodes I thought were genuinely great, starting with its relatively simple premise and building cleverly upon it. But then the remaining two episodes screwed itself a bit by convoluting matters. I get that thriller narratives tends to have a few twists and turns to them, that’s par for the course. But I feel like “Guilt” has a few too many, messing with the tightness and flow of the story. I was still entertained throughout the last two episodes, and there are a few really good moments (including the ending). I just felt that it got a little messier than it needed to. Overall, it’s pretty good.

The characters in this show are colorful, flawed, and overall quite interesting. Mark Bonnar plays Max, the older of the two brothers. A successful lawyer with a snazzy house, snazzy clothes, and an overall snazzy life, it’s interesting seeing what a stressful situation like this does to him. It reveals quite a bit and provides some great character development, with Bonnar being absolutely phenomenal in the role. Next we have Jamie Sives as Jake, the younger of the brother. Normally a quiet record store owner, seeing how he tries to deal with the guilt (HA!) of the whole “Oops, accidental murder” situation is fascinating. And Sives is great in the role. I also want to quickly mention that these two actors work wonderfully together, with the clashing of the characters’ personalities making for some excellent character drama. Anyhow, we also get supporting work from people like Ruth Bradley, Moyo Akandé, Emun Elliott, Sian Brooke, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the show was composed by Arthur Sharpe, and I think he did a pretty good job with it. He has an interesting way of blending traditional thriller cues with some light rock elements, which gives the show a very fun soundscape. There’s also a handful of licensed tracks used throughout, and they work quite well in their respective scenes.

“Guilt” was created and written by Neil Forsyth, with directing duties handled by one Robert McKillop. And I think they did a really good job on that front. The direction of this show has this really vibrant energy about it that keeps it from ever getting dull, making it feel like it moves along at a clip, which helps keep scenes engaging. Helping further this is Nanu Segal’s terrific cinematography, and some fantastically snappy editing by Nikki McChristie and Colin Monie. It’s just a really well crafted show.

This show/season has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating. On Metacritic it exists, but seems to have no real consensus. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.3/10.

Despite getting a little tangled in its own twisting web towards the end, season 1 of “Guilt” is still a highly enjoyable batch of episodes. It has a good story, great characters, fantastic performances, really good music, and great directing/editing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season of “Guilt” is an 8.35/10. So while flawed, it’s still worth watching.

My review of “Guilt” season 1 is now completed.

I love Mark Bonnar, he’s such a good actor.

Series Review: Line of Duty – Season 6 (2021)

Anyone who’s followed this blog for an extended amount of time knows what a big fan of this show I am. So obviously I was quite excited that it had returned this year, despite delays due to covid. And now I’ve finally watched through this latest season, I’m ready to share my mad ramblings about it.

Fellas, ma’ams, and bent coppers… “Line of Duty” season 6.

Following in the murder of a journalist,  AC-12 get tasked with looking into DCI Jo Davidson (Kelly Macdonald) and her potential mishandling surrounding the situation. Meanwhile we see Steve (Martin Compston), Kate (Vicky McClure), and Ted (Adrian Dunbar) are dealing with the consequences of the previous season. So season 6 is not only acting as a new case for our favorite anti-corruption officers, but it’s also attempting to address what’s come before as well as try to tie the bow on a lot of the threads set up throughout the show. It basically acts as a full on final act for the entire show. And I honestly found the narrative in this season to be really solid… with a few caveats. To be quite honest, I wasn’t a giant fan of the first two episode. They weren’t bad per se, as far as overall quality goes, they’re good. But something about them didn’t quite hook me as much as I expected. Previous seasons could have me clutching my legs almost immediately, or by the end of episode 1 at the latest. Here it took until episode 3 for my body to even feel the tingle of suspense. But when that point hits it just gets better and better, and it finally feels like we’re sucking diesel. And without getting into spoilers, let’s talk about the controversial final episode for two seconds… I don’t mind it. I feel like the revelations and events within it, while not exactly what I expected or had in mind, fits quite well for the show and ultimately serves as a very thought-provoking and logical end to this saga.

The characters, both new and old, this season remain as unique, flawed, complex, and interesting as always. Steve, Kate, and Ted’s bond has morphed a little bit since the end of last season in ways that are interesting, and it makes for some excellent bits of interaction and character development throughout. And I think I don’t need to say much about Compston, McClure, and Dunbar who are all as terrific as always. Then there’s series newcomer Kelly Macdonald as Jo Davidson, the DCI under investigation from AC-12 this season. She’s a decently interesting character whose development I enjoyed following throughout this season, with Macdonald being really good in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Perry Fitzpatrick, Nigel Boyle, Shalom Brune-Franklin, Tommy Jessop, Gregory Piper, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

As with previous seasons, the score was composed by Carly Paradis, and as with those aforementioned seasons, she did an excellent job. Tense, emotional, and exciting, her score is just great.

Season 6 of “Line of Duty” was completely written by series creator Jed Mercurio, with direction of the seven episodes split between Daniel Nettheim, Jennie Darnell, and Gareth Bryn. And I don’t know what to say here that I haven’t rambled about before in my other reviews, the craft here is superb, finding a nice balance between looking really sleek and still retaining a lot of grit throughout. And while it takes a bit to get genuinely suspenseful for me, when it actually does, it is really fucking tense. Yeah, I got nothing new to add here.

This show/season has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes the season has an 86% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 86/100. And on imdb.com the show has a score of 8.7/10 and is ranked #106 on their “Top 250 TV shows” list.

While the first two episodes are a little less engaging than I would’ve liked, there’s no denying that the sixth (and potentially final) season of “Line of Duty” ends up being another tense, exciting, and highly watchable run of AC-12’s antics. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 6 of “Line of Duty” is an 8.94/10. So while that slow start does hurt it a little, I’d still definitely say that it’s worth watching.

My review of “Line of Duty” season 6 is now completed.

If this is indeed the last we’ll see of this show, then I must say that it’s been great following it and I’m gonna miss having it around.

Movie Review: The Conversation (1974)

Surveillance, something that’s part of our society, and we often don’t think about it. Sometimes it’s done for our safety and sometimes it’s perhaps used for less savory purposes. Anyhow, let’s talk about a movie.

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

The story follows Harry Caul (Gene Hackman), a surveillance expert who recently got tasked with following and recording a young couple. However, as he proceeds with this job, he starts growing paranoid about the entire situation. What we have here is a slowly burning conspiracy thriller with a lot of character drama interwoven throughout, and I found it to be utterly fucking engrossing. Right from the first shot the movie gives off this really uncomfortable vibe, creating a really fascinating and frankly eerie mood that doesn’t let go until it’s over. And the way it tackles theme of paranoia, morality, and various other themes through its storytelling is just superb, making for a really nuanced and engaging conspiracy thriller.

The characters in this are all really interesting, because you never know who can be trusted or if anyone really is on Harry’s side. It helps in adding to the film’s overall sense of paranoia, which just made me even more tense. Gene Hackman plays Harry Caul, a long time surveillance expert and our protagonist. He’s a fascinating man that I found really engaging to follow. Part of this is due to the writing, but most of it is of course down to Hackman who is absolutely superb in the role. And in the supporting cast we see people like John Cazale, Frederic Forrest, Allen Garfield, Cindy Williams, Harrison Ford, and more, all of which are great in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by David Shire, and I think he did a really good job with it. Some of it has a little bit of basis in lounge jazz, bouncing around a lot on higher notes, having a bit of fun with itself. But soon enough you start hearing it shift in tone a bit, going down on the lower keys a lot more, creating this eerie and intense vibe that borders on horror-esque at times. Really helps sell the increasing paranoia of the narrative beautifully.

“The Conversation” was written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola. And quick little sidenote: This came out the same year as “The Godfather Part II”, so Coppola really had one busy year. Anyhow, I don’t think I’m claiming anything unexpected when I say that he did an excellent job with his direction. He manages to keep us close and intimate with Harry, while still somehow making us feel somewhat distant, almost like we’re surveilling him. Really helps in building a sense of unease around the whole situation, just making me insanely uncomfortable. And Bill Butler’s cinematography really helps sell this too. It’s just excellently crafted.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 96% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 85/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.8/10. The movie was also nominated for 3 Oscars in the categories of Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Sound.

While its sloooooow pace might put some off, I found “The Conversation” to be an electrifying thriller that I won’t soon forget. It has a fantastic story, really good characters, fantastic performances, great music, and fantastic directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Conversation” is a 9.91/10. So I’d say it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Conversation” is now completed

If anyone wonders why I’m choosing to stop talking to people, know that I blame Francis Ford Coppola.

Series Review: Brotherhood – Season 2 (2003)

Last summer I covered the first season of this show. And I found it to be very good, which is something I don’t often get to say about media from my home country of Sweden. And now we’re back to cover the second season! So let’s see if this continuation is any good. Oh, and SPOILERS for the end of season 1, as that sets up this one. So yeah, let’s go.

Ladies, gentlemen, and non-binaries… “Brotherhood” season 2!

After finally having gotten arrested for robbing a bunch of banks, Jan “Hoffa” Lenhoff (Ola Rapace) gets sent off to prison. And so we follow him in his day to day life there, trying to get by while also thinking of getting out and back to his family. Right off the bat, this season is off to a good start. It’s nicely paced, the writing’s engaging, and the internal monologue of our main character really brings us nicely into the world. And as the season keeps going, the drama escalates and becomes more and more engaging… up until episode 4. Now, do not take that as the show jumping the shark at that point, because it doesn’t. The dramatic beats are still really solid. I do however feel that the pacing in episodes 4 and 5 is a bit off. What happens is that they’re working to cover A LOT of ground in just two episodes, when really it should’ve been spread out a little more, having maybe at least one more to help it from feeling so overstuffed with content. Again, the drama in itself is really strong and compelling, giving us a pretty nuanced look at these characters and their predicaments. I just wish we had another episode or two to space out the latter parts of the story a bit.

The characters in this are all pretty flawed, nuanced, and interesting. They all feel pretty believable, and they all work wonderfully within the story. Ola Rapace of course returns as Hoffa, our main guy from the first season. He was already a pretty interesting character, having an interesting arc in the first season. And in this second one he goes through another one, as his relationships get strained by his stay in prison, which makes for some compelling development. And Rapace is great in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Anja Lundqvist, Magnus Krepper, Jakob Eklund, Michalis Koutsogiannakis, Özz Nûjen, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

As with the first season, the music for season was handled by Martin Hansen and Mikael Nord Andersson, and they really brought their A-game here. The score of season 1 was already damn good, a moody, minimalist, blues-inspired score. And for season 2 they don’t alter the formula too much, other than adding some extra instrumentation to the various tracks, which I think really elevates it to being as great as it is.

As with season 1, the second season of “Brotherhood” was written by Lars Lundström and directed by Erik Leijonborg. And the two really did a damn fine job with it. I already talked about how solid the story and character stuff was, so I don’t think I need to mention much more about the writing. I will however say that Leijonborg’s direction remains one of my favorite aspects of the show. His style here isn’t exactly flashy or in your face, it’s very understated, almost having a bit of a fly on the wall feeling to it. And I think it works really well for the show.

This show doesn’t really exist much on my usual sites, so this section’ll be extra brief today. But I can say that it does have a score of 8.2/10 on imdb.com.

So while the pacing in the last two episodes if a little off, season 2 of “Brotherhood” is a damn good drama and further cements this as one of Sweden’s better television shows. It has a really good story, really good characters, great performances, great music, and really good directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 2 of “Brotherhood” is an 8.90/10. So while flawed, it’s definitely worth watching!

My review of “Brotherhood” season 2 is now completed.

Quality tv, woo!