Movie Review: Nightmare Alley (1947)

With the impending release of Guillermo del Toro’s adaptation of this story (super excited for that), I thought it could be fun to watch the first film bearing the title. So without further ado… let’s go.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries, I’d recommend not walking down… “Nightmare Alley”.

The story follows Stanton “Stan” Carlisle (Tyrone Power), a con man currently working with a traveling carnival. And we follow him as he lies and deceives everyone around him for his own personal gain, and what consequences that brings to his life. It’s an interesting narrative, filled with twists, turns, and good ol’ noir suspense. It’s a fascinating look at a very shady and fascinating man, giving us a fairly nuanced and clever little noir narrative. Its pacing can be a little bit weird at times, sometimes jumping a little too quickly and sometimes dragging its feet. It doesn’t completely break the story, as I’d say it mostly paces itself quite well. And the overall narrative is quite engaging, so it does mostly even itself out.

The characters in this are colorful, flawed, layered, and overall just highly interesting. At the enter of our story is Stan Carlisle, a con man and supposed mentalist, always working and scheming to further his own interests. He’s quite a solidly written and engaging lead character, with Tyrone Power giving a great performance in the role. We also get supporting work from Joan Blondell, Coleen Gray, Helen Walker, Mike Mazurki, Taylor Holmes, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Cyril J. Mockridge, and I can’t remember any of it. Nothing sticks out as bad about it, nothing sticks out as good about it… it just doesn’t stick out in any way at all. It’s probably perfectly passable, but man, I wish I had more to say.

Based on the novel of the same name by William Lindsay Gresham, “Nightmare Alley” was directed by Edmund Goulding, who I think did a damn good job. Do you like seedy, dimly lit sets with very atmospheric shadows draping over the characters? Well, that’s what you get here, and it’s handled to perfection in that regard. It takes the classic noir stylizations and does them beautifully. It’s a solidly crafted film.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 88% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 75/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.8/10.

While its pacing can let it down a little, “Nightmare Alley” is still a damn good noir film. It has a really good story, really good characters, great performances, and great direction. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Nightmare Alley” is an 8.45/10. So while flawed, I’d still say it’s definitely worth buying.

My review of “Nightmare Alley” is now completed

Is it just me, or is “Tyrone Power” one of the coolest names ever?

Movie Review: The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

If you’ve been following me for a few years, you might remember that back when “Spider-Man: Far From Home” came out in 2019, I reviewed all of the Sam Raimi-directed webhead movies. Well, now that we’re getting “Spider-Man: No Way Home” in a few weeks I thought it was a good time to finally talk about the two “Amazing” movies. So today I’ll be reviewing the first one, and then the sequel in like a week. Sound good? Then let’s get into it!

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “The Amazing Spider-Man”.

After he gets bitten by a genetically modified spider, high school student Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) starts developing spider-like powers… wait a minute, this is how I kicked off my review of the 2002 “Spider-Man” (absolute hack). But yeah, since this is a reboot, it kind of does have a similar setup to what has come before. But despite this, “Amazing Spider-Man” manages to still stand on its own two feet, largely thanks to a slightly more serious and subdued tone. For the first two acts, I genuinely found myself really invested in the storytelling , it’s an enjoyable and emotionally resonant take on a very familiar setup. It does start stumbling towards the last act however, largely due to the villain of this. Again, early scenes of the character getting introduced are really strong… but the further we go on, the more he loses the compelling drama and just sort of devolves into generic villain, which does affect the drama of the narrative a bit. There are still some really good moments in this final act, and even the weaker elements aren’t outright terrible, but it is enough to bring the overall product down for me a little. Again, on the whole it’s a strong story, even though it does stumble a little towards the end.

The characters in this are all pretty solid, generally I find most of them quite compelling. Peter Parker in this isn’t the überdork he’s been in a few other adaptations, but he still carries some of that awkward charm that the character needs, and it’s all beautifully brought to life by Andrew Garfield giving a fantastic performance. Then we have Gwen Stacy, a smart, clever, and fun young woman who also acts as a love interest for Peter, and she’s great, with Emma Stone killing it in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Rhys Ifans, Irrfan Khan, Martin Sheen, Sally Field, Denis Leary, and more, all delivering really solid performances.

The score for the movie was composed by James Horner, and it was great. Some nicely inspiring and heroic brass, some more somber and emotional pieces, some tense bits involving strings, synths, and some other goodies… it’s just a damn solid score. Horner never missed when he was still around, and this is just further proof of it.

Based on various Marvel Comics, “The Amazing Spider-Man” was directed by Marc Webb, who I swear was chosen for the pun alone. Joking aside (for now), I think he did a damn good job. The direction of this movie has this way of feeling very grounded while still bringing some of the energy of superhero comics to life. But there are also a select few bits that are directed and edited with a bit of a horror vibe, and I really dig it. So on the whole, it’s just a really well crafted film.

This movie has gotten mixed to positive reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 72% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 66/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.9/10.

While it does stumble in parts, “The Amazing Spider-Man” is still a damn good retelling of the wall-crawler’s origin. It has a really good story, really good characters, great performances, great music, and really solid direction. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Amazing Spider-Man” is an 8.45/10. So while flawed, I’d still say that it’s worth buying.

My review of “The Amazing Spider-Man” is now completed.

Well, that’s that for today. *Thwip*.

Movie Review: The Trip (2021)

Marriage. Should be all about love and support. But sometimes it doesn’t quite go so smoothly. I mean, I’ve never been married, so I wouldn’t know, but I am a very observant man, so I know that not all marriages are perfect. In fact, few are… fuck, got a bit real there… let’s talk about a movie.

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

While going through a bit of a spat, married couple Lars (Aksel Hennie) and Lisa (Noomi Rapace) decide to take a nice little trip to their cabin for the weekend, both unaware that they both have violent, sinister plans for the other one. In a way it is “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” via “Gerald’s Game”, and I found that to be a really fun premise. It alternates between pitch black comedy and surprisingly tense and uncomfortable thriller quite well, handling both tones quite well and making it all feel like a solid, cohesive whole, while also managing to be quite unpredictable. I do think however that the movie might be slightly longer than it needs to be. If you shaved off five to ten minutes, the pacing would feel way better. As the final product stands, it doesn’t ruin the entire thing, but it does bring it down a little bit. So overall, a solid story, if a little poorly paced at points.

The characters in this are weird, colorful, flawed, unique, and quite entertaining. It’s hard describing them without getting too much into it, but I will say that all of the characters play off of each other well and have some interesting role within the story. And the entire cast is great, in particular our two leads Aksel Hennie and Noomi Rapace. But the supporting cast is rock solid too, containing people like Atle Antonsen, Christian Rubeck, André Eriksen, Stig Frode Henriksen, and more.

The score for the movie was composed by Christian Wibe, and it was okay. Pretty standard thriller stuff, nothing that really sticks out in my mind. Worked well in the moment, but won’t be remembered afterward. There’s also a handful of licensed songs used throughout, and they are all full and help add to the mood of their respective scenes in really fun ways. So yeah, the music overall is pretty good.

“The Trip” (original title: I Onde Dager) was directed and co-written by Tommy Wirkola, and I think he did a great job here. He has this fun, snappy, off-kilter energy that really kept my eyes stuck to the screen, even when the movie dragged its feet a little. You can just tell that he has a lot of fun while crafting a scene, and that really helps keep it fun for the audience. But his style especially shines through in the more action-packed moments, as they are intense, fast, fun, and violent as all hell. If you’re in the mood for some really brutal and well made gore, it can be found here.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 91% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.9/10.

While its occasionally weird pacing does bring it down a little, “The Trip” is a highly entertaining thriller-comedy that I do recommend. It has a solid story, good characters, fantastic performances, pretty good music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Trip” is an 8.01/10. So while it is flawed, I would definitely say it’s worth watching.

My review of “The Trip” is now completed.

And remember, kids: Don’t go on a weekend trip with your significant other if you’re going through something.

Series Review: Des (2020)

Been a while since we covered a tv show, so I’m a bit excited right now. Also, don’t murder people.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Des”.

The year is 1983. Police have arrested Dennis “Des” Nilsen (David Tennant) on suspicion of homicide after human remains are found near his home. And throughout the show we follow the cops a they try to identify the various victims, as well as trying to get information out of Nilsen regarding everything he did. This is an interesting little crime drama. Now, it does fall back on a lot of tropes from these type of true crime murder mystery type stories, which is possibly the show’s biggest fault. It’s not outright bad, but the sometimes formulaic nature does take away some from it. But with this said, I did still find the story here decently interesting. It has this sort of eeriness that I feel we don’t necessarily get in similar things. I don’t know how to explain it, but the whole vibe around it just makes it a bit more interesting. And I do still think the investigation around Nilsen and his victims is a pretty interesting one, especially as we learn more about him as a person. There is also some stuff set around the bureaucracy of the investigation, which does add a decent bit of drama. On the whole I do think the story here is solid enough, just a little familiar in its structure.

The characters in this are pretty interesting. Especially our main two, who are both really compelling. First up we have Daniel Mays as Detective chief inspector Peter Jay, the man leading the investigation into Nilsen’s murders. He’s a man of principle, someone determined to see this all through, even when the higher ups try to get in his way. He’s a compelling lead, and Daniel Mays gives a really good performance. And then we have David Tennant as Dennis Nilsen, AKA Des. He’s a really frightening character. But not in a Hannibal Lecter or Annie Wilkes kinda way where they’re made to be frightening. Nilsen is frightening in how blunt and forward he is. Right from the start he’s like “Yeah, I killed them” and has no problem telling how it happened, like how you might tell your friends about your trip to Spain. He’s frightening because he is so… human. And Tennant is fantastic in the role, giving one of the best performances of his career. We also get supporting work from people like Jason Watkins, Barry Ward, Jay Simpson, Bronagh Waugh, and more, all giving good performances.

The score for the show was composed by Sarah Warne, and I think she did a pretty good job. It’s very low key, going for a somewhat eerie, almost droning sound to add to the atmosphere of the show. It really helps create an engaging soundscape within the show.

Based on the book “Killing for Company” by Brian Masters, “Des” was created by Luke Neal and Lewis Arnold, with Arnold directing, and Neal serving as lead writer. And I think the craft here is really strong. One thing I really appreciate about the directing and such here is how remarkably restrained they are. So many other people would probably give us the gory, graphic details of the entire situation, but the crew here didn’t. They hold back quite a bit, just giving us the explanations of everything that happened. And while too much exposition can be a bit bothersome, I feel that they found the right balance here. I must also commend Mark Wolf on his cinematography, because it’s really frickin’ good and fits the story being told really well.

This show has been quite well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 89% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 75/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.7/10.

While its formulaic nature does bring it down a little bit, “Des” is still a pretty compelling crime drama. It has a good story, pretty good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Des” is an 8.45/10. So while flawed, it’s definitely still definitely worth watching.

My review of “Des” is now completed.

Symphony of Des-truction…

Movie Review: She Dies Tomorrow (2020)

Oh shit, a 2020 release? Yeeeaaaah. Thank god for VOD.

Ladies and gents… “She Dies Tomorrow”.

Amy’s (Kate Lyn Sheil) life seems to be looking up, having bought a house recently. However things may not be all sunshine and rainbows, because Amy believes that she is going to die tomorrow. And while her friend (Jane Adams) dismisses it as nothing but humbug at first, soon the fears start mounting in her head too. This story is an intriguing one. It’s not necessarily about a typical narrative. There’s no antagonist, there’s no typical conflict, it’s really just a somber, at times darkly comical examination of people’s minds being in a weird spot. And I thought it certainly was an intriguing story… after a while. At the very start it was more “Good idea, mediocre execution”, I wasn’t fully invested at first in what was going on. Then we got to a certain point and it all started getting way better. I’m not gonna say that it becomes one of the best stories I’ve ever experienced, but it certainly improves quite a bit after that one certain point.

The characters in this don’t always have the most nuance, I must admit. They are more there to serve the theme(s) of the story, and I think they work quite well like that. I must say though, I do think all the actors give really solid work. Kate Lyn Sheil, Jane Adams, Chris Messina, and the rest of the cast are all great in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by the Mondo Boys, and I think they did a good job. Their music is often very dreamlike but also quite intense, all without really using any heavy instrumentation. It adds a lot to the underlying dread of the story, creating a really engaging vibe throughout that I highly enjoy.

“She Dies Tomorrow” was written and directed by Amy Seimetz, and I think she did a good job with that. It’s clear that she has a vision all her own that wonderfully comes through in her confident and visually clear direction. And when combined with Jay Keitel’s really pretty cinematography, you get a movie that manages to stand out in terms of its craft.

This movie has gotten some mixed recepton. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 84% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 80/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 5.2/10.

While it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, I found “She Dies Tomorrow” to be an intriguing and mostly engaging little movie (bar the opening act). It has a good story, okay characters, great performances, good music, and great directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “She Dies Tomorrow” is a 7,88/10. So while quite flawed, I’d still say it’s worth renting.

My review of “She Dies Tomorrow” is now completed.

She dies tomorrow, but I live today.

Movie Review: Reign of the Supermen (2019)

As has been made clear many times on this here blog, I like watching animated adaptations of DC Comics properties. Yes, there’s been a few less than stellar ones through the years, but I always root for them, because of my nearly lifelong love of these characters. So with this said, let’s talk about one.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Reign of the Supermen”.

Set six months after “The Death of Superman“, the world is still trying to recover after one of its biggest heroes died at the hands of the monster known as Doomsday. And in the wake of the Man of Steel’s demise, several new and mysterious Supermen start revealing themselves, all trying to be the new hero of Metropolis. While the movie at times suffers from trying to cram a lot of plot into 80 minutes, I still found myself enjoying the hell out of proceedings. The creative team really know how to squeeze genuine emotion and clever storytelling out of this admittedly silly premise. There were times where I really felt something more than just “Yay, superheroes!”. Again, it’s not perfect as it has a lot of plot to dish out in a very short runtime, but for the most part the story holds up, even providing a surprising amount of nuance.

Like with the story, the crew managed to give a surprising amount of nuance to the characters in here, giving them interesting motivations and entertaining arcs. I won’t go too much into details about them, as it would risk spoiling stuff, so I’ll just leave it on all characters having something interesting to them. Also, holy crap this cast. Rebecca Romijn, Cameron Monaghan, Cress Williams, Jerry O’Connell, Rainn Wilson, Charles Halford, Rosario Dawson, and so many more… it’s an incredible cast, with everyone giving their A-game.

As with a lot of these DC animations, the score for “Reign of the Supermen” was composed by Frederik Wiedmann, and as per usual, it is terrific. This man brings us terrific tunes every time he composes the score for one of these movies. It’s big and epic, but also low-key and intimate. My man brought his A-game once again.

Based on the 90s comic storyline of the same name, “Reign of the Supermen” was directed by DC animation regular Sam Liu. And if you’re somewhat unfamiliar with that name, let’s just say that he’s one of the most reliable hands in the DC/WB animation department. The man knows how to infuse properties with a certain energy that is quite engaging to experience. When scenes need to slow down and be more emotional, his direction is great. And when action happens, his direction is great. The man knows how to deliver on animated comic book goodness. Speaking of which, the animation here is great. It has a decent amount of detail, and it has a nice fluidity to it that really shines during action scenes.

This has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 93% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,8/10.

“Reign of the Supermen” may buckle slightly under the weight of too much plot in too little time, but it still manages to be a damn fine animated feature. It has engaging plot, it has really good characters, great performances, great music, and really good animation/direction. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Reign of the Supermen” is an 8,87/10. So while flawed, it’s still definitely worth buying.

My review of “Reign of the Supermen” is now completed.

Fun fact: As I was writing this, I put on some music. And one of the songs that came on was “Land of Confusion” by Genesis, which has the oddly fitting lyric “Oh Superman, where are you now?

Series Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Season 1 (1997)

Oh hello there. So you’re probably wondering why I’m talking about this show. Well, frankly, it’s because I’ve been a fan of it for quite a while, but it’s been years since I actually properly watched it. So my mother and I recently sat ourselves down with the DVD box set and started a rewatch. And that made me think “Hey, maybe I could talk about each season on my blog as we get through them”. So that’s what we’re gonna do for however many months this’ll take. I’ve been looking for a long-term thing to do on this blog (like the Mangoldathon I did in 2017), so this might be a decent one for now. Anyhow, let’s get on with it.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” season 1.

After she gets kicked out of her old school, Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) moves to a small town called Sunnydale to start over. However, things aren’t just classes, boys, and parties, as the town lies upon an ancient secret called the Hellmouth, which brings all kinds of demonic bullshit to the area. And since Buffy is the Slayer, a young woman chosen to fight off demons, it is up to her, with the help of her new mentor (Anthony Head) and friends (Nichols Brendon, Alyson Hannigan) to deal with any demonic threats terrorizing Sunnydale, including the sinister vampire lord known as the Master (Mark Metcalf). The story here is a weird roller coaster. When it focuses on main stuff regarding Buffy’s development as a Slayer, and the Master’s plan to take over the world, it can be quite interesting, as the creators put their own unique spin on vampire mythology that still honors the traditions set by older adaptations. But then there’s also a fair bit of filler throughout, which is very hit-and-miss. From the really dumb “I, Robot, You, Jane” to the surprisingly high concept “Nightmares”, you can feel that they hadn’t quite found their footing/voice yet. This does not dismiss the entire season as outright bad though, despite its tonal and stylistic inconsistencies. It just means the road is rocky, but is filled with enjoyable and sometimes even compelling highlights (see the aforementioned “Nightmares”). So overall the story stuff here is… fine.

Where the plot may falter at times, the characters make up for it thanks to being interesting and entertaining. Sarah Michelle Gellar plays Buffy, the titular teenage vampire slayer. Like every girl her age, she doesn’t want all this responsibility of having to save the world, but is of course begrudgingly drawn into it because it’s the right thing to do, and she’s a good person and all that. And seeing her duty vs. desire sides clash creates some interesting dynamics for her. And Gellar is really good in the role. Nicholas Brendon plays Xander, one of Buffy’s new friends. He’s a bit of a dork, but also knows when to stand up for those that need it. He gets a tiny bit of development this season, but not enough to make him as good as he could be, though he is still an enjoyable presence who I wouldn’t trade for anything. And Brendon is really good in the role. Next we have Alyson Hannigan as Willow, Buffy’s other friend. A shy, slightly timid nerd, she’s the brains of the main trio, but it’s also clear that she has a tougher side to her somewhere deep down. And Hannigan is really good in the role. Anthony Head as Giles, the mentor/Watcher is great, bringing a sort of father figure presence to the group. Charisma Carpenter plays a mean girl at the school, and she kills it in that role. Mark Metcalf is deliciously villainous and campy as the evil Master. And there’s a lot of other supporting characters/actors I could talk about, but I won’t, but they’re all good.

The score for the season was composed by Walter Murphy, and I know the show at this point ran on a ham sandwich budget, but jeez Louise, it sounds bad. Not like “Resident Evil” director’s cut bad, but it’s not great. They have fun ideas for some action/horror tunes throughout, but due to its weird synth-pretending-to-be-orchestra sound, it often falters. But then we also get a few piano-based pieces throughout, and those sound great. So I’m weirdly split on it, because parts sound less than stellar, and others sound really good. Oh, and the main theme by rock band Nerf Herder is pretty good too.

Based on the movie of the same name, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” was created for the WB network by Joss Whedon, who also wrote and directed some of the episodes, with some help on other episodes by other cool people. And here’s where I have a lot of praise for the show. It’s pretty well known that season 1 of “Buffy” was running on a ham sandwich budget, which can often break a lot of shows. But the crew really push every penny to its absolute god damn limit. Yes, some of the effects look a bit… not great, but for the most part the crew does wonders with the few means they have of creating monsters, eerie sets, and vampire slaying tools. There’s even some decent shot composition every now and then.

The show/season has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 92% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 80/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,2/10.

While it’s a little rocky throughout, season 1 of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is still a solid start to the show. It has an okay plot, really good characters, great performances, meh music, and good writing/directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 1 of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is a 7,80/10. So while flawed, I’d still say that it’s worth watching.

My review of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” season 1 is now completed.

Nice to have another blog series going.

Movie Review: Star Wars – The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

It’s that time of year again… “Star Wars”. The final one… for now. So let’s talk about it.

Ladies and gents… “Star Wars – The Rise of Skywalker”.

The remaining members of the Resistance try to pull off a series of daring plans to try to hopefully finally stop the sinister First Order. It’s the concluding chapter to this new trilogy, that also calls back some (read: a lot) to the older movies. And the story as a whole is a bit of a mixed bag. It’s generally a fun, fast-paced space swashbuckler that does give a satisfying enough ending to the entire Skywalker saga, but looking at the overall thing, it feels ever so slightly paper-thin. And while I don’t need my “Star Wars” to be deep mindfucks in their storytelling, I feel like there could’ve been a bit more put into it, since it’s supposed to, you know, cap off the entire fucking series (AGAIN). But as it stands, while the story disappoints a bit, it’s still entertaining, and I thought the overall ending was pretty good.

The characters in this have earned a shitload of good will over the previous two movies, I’ve fallen in love with them, so that went a long way to me following them here. And while one or two might get some decent-ish enough character conflict, there isn’t too much else to say about that stuff. Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver make for a compelling hero/villain dynamic at the center. John Boyega and Oscar Isaac are as enjoyable in their sidekick roles again. All other supporting actors do well enough in their supporting roles too.

As with every mainline entry in this franchise, the score was composed by the one and only John Williams. And there’s no way one can complain about it. From the classic motifs, to some of the ones from the previous two movies, to some new (if indistinguishable) stuff… come on, it’s another “Star Wars” score from the one and only John Williams, you all know it’s good.

“The Rise of Skywalker” was directed by J.J. Abrams, who did a damn good job. The guy knows how to bring energy to a scene, he knows how to a fun and exciting action scene. There’s tons of good action in this that either made my jaw drop or just had grinning like an overexcited child. Yes, I am easy to please when it comes to that kind of stuff… especially when it’s handled as well as it is here. The effects are of course fucking spectacular, and not just the CG, there’s a ton of awesome practical creature effects and such. It’s just a joy to look at.

This movie just came out, so there’s not much data out there (and as y’all know, I am too lazy to edit after the fact). So here’s where we’re at now. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 58% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 53/100. And on imdb.com it has no score at all… that’s how early I am.

“Star Wars – The Rise of Skywalker” may be slightly disappointing, but I still had a good time with it. It has an okay plot, good characters, great performances, great music, and really good directing/effects. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Star Wars – The Rise of Skywalker” is an 8,45/10. So while very flawed, it’s still worth buying.

My review of “Star Wars – The Rise of Skywalker” is now completed.

Goodbye for now, Star Wars.

12 Films of Christmas 2019 (Part 5)

It’s time for part 5 of this goofy series of mine. More contrivances, here we go. And today we’re actually talking about a movie from my own country for once, I know, my mind is as blown as yours.

Today’s movie is called “A Summer Tale”, directed by Ulf Malmros, and released in 2000. Set in 1958, it follows two kids (Anastasios Soulis and Rebecca Scheja) as they get sent to live with a cantankerous funeral director (Kjell Bergqvist) for the summer. So now… now… now… I hear what you’re thinking. “Markus, you dumb bastard, how the hell are you gonna get a movie with SUMMER in the title to fit within the christmas category?”. Well, my impatient friend, let me sit your ass down and tell you.

When the kids first meet this funeral director, their relationship to him is stale at best, and tense at worst. He’s not abusive and horrible towards them, but he’s not exactly someone I’d wanna send my theoretical kids to. But as one might expect from this setup, these two parties of course start to warm towards each other, all the while the funeral director tries to get a local teacher he has a crush on to go out with him. So while yes, the movie is set during the summer, it’s still all about family and finding love. You know what part of the year is often associated with family and love? Christmas. Everyone always talks about how that holiday should be spent spreading love and being with your family. And since this movie is all about that shit, you’d imagine it could fit within that.
While “A Summer Tale” isn’t one of the greatest movies ever made, I found myself surprisingly entertained by it. It’s a heartwarming little dramedy that made me really care about the characters, all of whom are very well acted by the actors involved (yes, the kids too). It’s a good flick.

Have a good one.

Movie Review: Them That Follow (2019)

I hate snakes. They’re the worst. I see a snake on tv or in a movie, I crawl into a ball on the couch. The worst. So let’s talk about a movie featuring them (I’m dumb).

Ladies and gents… “Them That Follow”.

Set within the deep woods of Appalachia, we follow Mara (Alice Englert), a young woman who is the daughter of the local snake-handling preacher (Walton Goggins). She carries a secret with her that, if released into the world, could potentially cause some trouble within her community. So now we have our backwoods story. And while I do have some little niggles with it, I generally thought it was pretty interesting. It’s like a window into this strange, archaic community, presenting them with a surprisingly nuanced view, rather than the typical “These cult-ish people are crazy monsters” angle that often get used within stories featuring similar characters/communities. Yes, we still get shown the angle that these people are ye olde backwoods christians… but it’s never as simple as them just being a cult, there is rarely pure judgment, but rather just observation, which I thought was interesting, especially as the movie went along and more revelations were unleashed. Now, despite this unusually intriguing execution, it’s unfortunately not perfect. It does feel flimsy at times, probably due to the short runtime (circa 95 minutes). Had they had more time, we probably could’ve had it even more fleshed out. But as it stands, it’s still an alright plot that kept me interested throughout.

The characters, while not the deepest in the world, are still pretty engaging. Alice Englert plays Mara, the young woman at the center of the story. She’s probably the deepest one in the story, as she’s highly conflicted about a lot of stuff going on in her life at the time, which makes her a really interesting character to follow. And Englert is really good in the role. Then we have Walton Goggins as her father, preacher Lemuel Childs. He’s a man of god… and nope ropes. He doesn’t get much development as a character, but he’s still quite engaging because Goggins is such an electrifying presence. Then we have Olivia Colman as Hope, a matriarch of sorts within this community. There is some conflict with her later on in the movie, which I won’t spoil in case you wanna watch the movie, but I’ll say that while it’s an okay idea, the overall execution of that is just fine. And while Colman’s southern drawl is somewhat hit-and-miss, her overall performance is great. We also get supporting work from people like Thomas Mann, Kaitlyn Dever, Lewis Pullman, and Jim Gaffigan, all giving good performances.

The score for the movie was composed by Garth Stevenson, and I felt that it was kind of a mixed bag. Sometimes it’s this nice, almost dreamlike thing that fits the southern, spiritual setting, really adding some nice atmosphere to the movie. Buuuut then there are some overbearing horror drones throughout too, and I felt like that took me out of it during those moments. I can tell that Stevenson has a lot of talent, but there are times when they aren’t applied correctly.

“Them That Follow” is the writing/directing debut of duo Britt Poulton and Dan Madison Savage, and I think they did an okay job with it. They have a way of keeping scenes engaging thanks to a unique sense of energy that may have a slow flow, but still makes sure scenes never get boring. And when they need to get a bit suspenseful, they god damn nail it… except when the aforementioned horror score bits come on, then shit clashes a bit.

This movie hasn’t been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 60% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 57/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 5,2/10.

While far from one of the greatest movies ever, I still thought “Them That Follow” was a really good drama. It has a pretty good plot, okay characters, great performances, okay music, and good directing. As previously mentioned, it is brought down a bit by a sometimes shallow plot and poor musical score. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Them That Follow” is a 7,95/10. So while flawed, it’s absolutely worth renting.

My review of “Them That Follow” is now completed.

Damn snakes.