Series Review: Andor – Season 1 (2022)

Ever since Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm in 2012, and in turn today’s topic of “Star Wars”, it’s been interesting to see how the franchise has developed. From new movies of varying quality, to reviving a beloved cartoon, to creating new shows in the universe, it has been fascinating to chart its evolution under the House of Mouse. And while I won’t cover it all on here, because of the sheer quantity of things, there’s been one thing airing this Autumn that I was interested in covering. And now that it’s over, I can. So let’s go.

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

Set a few years before “Rogue One”, we follow Cassian Andor (Diego Lina) as he maneuvers the tense climate surrounding the iron grip of the galactic empire and the slow rise of the rebellion, finding himself slowly and reluctantly involved in the fight. The plot of “Andor” is one of the more fresh-feeling ones we’ve gotten from this franchise in recent years (not throwing shade at the others, BTW). Instead of a more typical adventure narrative like in… most of the other “Star Wars” adaptations, this takes more influence from spy thrillers and political dramas, giving us a lingering and brooding tension over the state of the galaxy rather than mainly relying on quick bits of excitement. While Cassian is our main guy, we also do get to see people on both sides of the empire/rebel conflict and what parts they play in the grand scheme of the galaxy. From navigation of high society and politics, to the inner machinations of the empire’s boardrooms, to the blue collar people caught in the middle, the show covers the “Star Wars” universe and its conflicts in really nuanced, clever, and dramatically satisfying ways that feel wholly unique to this show. The slow burn might put some people off, but I personally love that aspect of the show, and a great part of an overall great story.

The characters in this are great. They are all really flawed, nuanced, and have a very grounded feel to them, which gives them a real believability. Let’s talk about our leading man and title character, Cassian Andor. A somewhat cynical man with a tense past who wants nothing to do with the bigger conflict. He’s hard to discuss without going into spoiler, so I’ll just say that he’s a really compelling lead with an excellent arc, with Diego Luna just giving a fantastic performance. As for the rest of the cast, everyone’s just terrific. Stellan Skarsgård, Kyle Soller, Denise Gough, Genevieve O’Reilly, Adria Arjona, Alastair Mackenzie, Dave Chapman, Anton Lesser, and so many more, there’s not a weak link amongst them. It’s just a banger cast, all playing really interesting characters.

The score for the show was composed by Nicholas Britell, and it’s just spectacular. Traditional orchestration mixed with some interesting synth and modulation usage makes for a score that very much fits within the franchise, while still having its own distinct flavor. What I also like is that so much of it is relatively quiet, not in a way that just blends into the background the background and disappears, but rather it creates this somber tone that lingers within each scene, making it so any scene where it gets a bit more loud stick out all the more and have a greater emotional impact. It’s really good sonic storytelling that also is generally pleasing to my ears.

“Andor” was created for the streaming service Disney Plus by Tony Gilroy, with writing by him and a few more cool people (names will be in tags so as to not clutter this bit with too many names), and directing duties divided between Toby Haynes, Benjamin Caron, and Susanna White. And I just love how this show is crafted. Each scene beautifully shot, without looking too polished or overly crafted. It rides a line between looking high budget while still maintaining an almost guerrilla like feel, which I think perfectly fits with the show constantly giving us a lot of contrast between the grit and grime of blue collar settlements, and the sheen of high Coruscant society or the overly sterile look of the empire’s facilities. So there’s a lot of excellent visual storytelling going on between the camera work and the production design. Mix this with an abundance of practical effects, with some really good CG thrown in at times, and you get one of the most visually interesting big budget shows around. It’s just an insanely well crafted show.

This show/season has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 93% positive rating and a “fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 74/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.4/10.

So as you could probably tell, I loved season 1 of “Andor”. Even as I sit here, thinking and writing, it just gets better and better within my noggin. It has a great story, great characters, fantastic performances, great music, and fantastic directing/cinematography/effects. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Andor” is a 9.84/10. Which means it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

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

Hey dude, did you watch Andor?
And or what?

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

Series Review: Luther – Season 3 (2013)

Beware the Ides of Elba, because they’re here… again… but not for the final time. Anyhow, let’s once again delve into this show.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Luther” season 3!

DCI Luther (Idris Elba) is once again back to solve a series of dark and violent murders, all while some other officers are trying to dig up enough dirt on him to take him down. I loved the storytelling here in season 3, it’s arguably the strongest in the show so far. Starting with the overarching element, it actually broadens its scope a bit, not just focusing on John himself, but also goes wider to explore how other people, in particular his colleague Justin (Warren Brown), sees him, and what effect Luther’s actions have on people. And I found those elements of the story utterly compelling. And as far as the procedural elements go, those are amazing as well. Much like with season 2, not only are there only four episodes, but it’s also only two cases getting two episodes each, and it really helps them flourish and feel way more tense and nuanced. They also delve into even darker, more unsettling waters than before, even going full-blown horror at a point. And it helps make for some really intense and kinda scary storytelling that I absolutely loved.

In terms of characters, season 3 of “Luther” succeeds greatly in further developing ones from previous seasons, and then also giving us some compelling new ones too. Luther remains a really engaging lead, with Elba still giving us some truly powerhouse acting. And then there’s Justin, Luther’s colleague, who is given a lot more space and opportunities to shine here, developing him further into a truly interesting character, with Warren Brown giving a great performance in the role. The rest of the supporting cast is great too, featuring people like Michael Smiley, Dermot Crowley, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Sienna Guillory, David O’Hara, Kevin Fuller, Lucian Msamati, and more. It’s a very well-rounded cast playing some really interesting characters.

Paul Englishby returned to once again do the music, and once again its great. Low, brooding hums, dramatic brass, some emotional piano, some eerie strings… it’s just a brilliant escalation of the kind of sound Englishby made for the first two seasons, and it really adds so much to the episodes. The few licensed songs used throughout also work really well.

“Luther” season 3 was written by series creator Neil Cross, with direction split between Sam Miller and Farren Blackburn. And the craft here is on another level. It feels more grandiose, while still managing to remain intimate with the characters, and even claustrophobic and incredibly tense at times. The directing, editing, and cinematography just feels way more cinematic than in previous outings, which makes it stand out and feel even stronger.

This show/season has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes the season has an 88% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic the season has a score of 76/100. And on imdb.com the show has a score of 8.5/10 and is ranked #249 on the “Top 20 TV” list.

Season 3 of “Luther” is my favorite one so far, giving us an intense, scary, and thematically rich experience that I enjoyed from start to end. It has a great story, great characters, fantastic performances, great music, and great directing/editing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score fro “Luther” season 3 is a 9.92/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Luther” season 3 is now completed.

I am having such a good time going through this show.

Series Review: Luther – Season 1 (2010)

This is a show I’ve only seen an episode or two of over the years. So when I saw that it was leaving Netflix at the end of the month, I felt that it was the perfect time to catch up on the entirety of it over the next few weeks. So look forward to more reviews coming in this little project I’ve decided to call “The Ides of Elba”.

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

John Luther (Idris Elba) is a brilliant but rough-around-the-edges police detective as he’s reinstated after an extended absence following a horrible and traumatic case. And we follow him as he works to solve various dark and horrific crimes, all while struggling to keep his personal life together, along with developing an uncomfortable kinship with a deranged young woman (Ruth Wilson). At first glance, “Luther” might have the air of a typical police drama, it manages to stand out partly thanks to a gritty and dark tone, exploring much darker and heavier crime stories. But it also works thanks to the overarching storylines, involving Luther’s past, his tense relationship with his estranged wife (Indira Varma), and his newfound “friendship” with the aforementioned deranged young woman. Yes, there is a lot going on, and it can make the episodes feel slightly long in the tooth at times, but it’s all written with so much nuance and suspense that I can forgive some of the slower and more feet-draggy (that is now a word, shut up) moments. So yeah, the story here’s good.

What I love about the characters of Luther is that none of them are really written in a perfect black and white manner. Everyone’s written with a lot of ambiguity and nuance. Be they “hero”, support, or villain, all of them have many layers to them that make them deeply fascinating. Even our main character, while a policeman who tries to do good and save the day, is written incredibly grey, and it makes him an incredibly compelling character to follow. It also helps that Idris Elba is fucking incredible in the role. The supporting cast is great too. Ruth Wilson, Indira Varma, Steven Mackintosh, Warren Brown, Saskia Reeves, Paul McGann, there’s not a weak link in this cast.

The score was composed by Paul Englishby, and I think he did a really good job with it. Very brooding, very eerie, really helps maintain the gritty vibe that the writing goes for, often elevating the suspense of certain scenes. They also use licensed songs on occasion, and they work really well in their respective scenes. Overall, there’s good music here.

“Luther” was created and written for the BBC by Neil Cross, with direction by various cool people. And I think the craft here is superb. The scenes have a very deliberate pace to them, shots willing to linger for a while, slowly building this creeping suspense that often culminates in really intense and at times even brutal payoffs. It helps bring the material to life in a fresh and exciting way that wasn’t seen that much on tv back in 2010.

This show/season has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes the season has a 91% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic the season has a score of 83/100. And on imdb.com the show has a score of 8.5/10 and is ranked #247 on the “Top 250 TV” list.

Season 1 of “Luther” makes one hell of a first impression, giving us a dark and captivating six episodes that had me (mostly) enraptured from start to end. It has a great story, great characters, fantastic performances, really good music, and great direction. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 1 of “Luther” is a 9.44/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

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

Beware the Ides of Elba, for there’s more coming your way…

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: 7 Prisoners (2021)

I’ve been trying to come up with some relevant and mildly interesting thing to put as the intro for this one, but I’m coming up short. It’s just hard when you’re talking about something covering some serious shit. So I guess we should just jump into it.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “7 Prisoners”.

Mateus (Christian Malheiros) lives a rough life with his family, barely scraping by on what they have. So to be able to provide for his family, he takes a job at a junkyard in São Paolo. But he soon finds out that this new life of his is way more rough and dangerous than he could have ever imagined. “7 Prisoners” is a hard movie to watch, due to its gritty, grimy, fly-on-the-wall style of storytelling. There’s nothing flashy or filmy about it. The movie has this very grounded and real feel to it, which often makes it a really uncomfortable watch. Throughout the movie, the story tackles some very real and heavy topics in really interesting, nuanced, and often even disturbing ways. And I was utterly enthralled by it all from start to end. Maybe it could be *slightly* longer, as a few moments feel a little brief, but on the wholeI do think it’s a terrific narrative.

The characters in this are interesting, layered, and all feel very real. They have this believable, worn out quality to them, like they’re real people in this world and not actors just hopping into a role. Mateus is more or less our leading man, and he’s a really complex character, beautifully brought to life Christian Malheiros who delivers a fucking fantastic performance. Then we have Rodrigo Santoro as Luca, Mateus’ boss/warden/captor. He is a terrifying antagonist. Part of it is because he can be very intense at times, but what really brings the scariness home is that he also shows a fair bit of humanity. It makes him more layered, and that honestly makes him more terrifying to me, and Santoro is fantastic in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Vitor Julian, Josias Duarte, Clayton Mariano, Lucas Oranmian, and more, all giving great performances.

The score for the movie was composed by Felipe Puperi, and it was good. It’s a somber, moody piece that never really stands out too much, subtly complementing the low-key style of the movie. It works really well.

“7 Prisoners” was directed and co-written by Alexandre Moratto, and I think he did a terrific job. His style is very simple, gritty, and very subtle. Like I said about the storytelling, it has a very fly on the wall vibe to it. It doesn’t stick out or feel filmy, it just feels like we’re observing a very real situation and it helps really add to the sense of unease built throughout. It’s just really well crafted.

This movie’s been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 95% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 80/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.2/10.

“7 Prisoners” is a great Brazilian crime-drama I highly recommend. It has a great story, really good characters, fantastic performances, really good music, and great direction. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “7 Prisoners” is a 9.66/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “7 Prisoners” is now completed.

Brazil: Come for the sun, surf, and scary crime.

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.

Movie Review: Parasite (2019)

Well hello there, friends of the interwebs! How are you? Welcome to 2021, where dreams are made and/or shattered, and where Markus catches up on movies that everybody already have seen. So let’s go, yo!

Ladies and gentlemen… “Parasite”!

Shortly after young man Ki-woo (Choi Woo-sik) gains employment as a tutor for the daughter of a wealthy family, he starts scheming with his family to get them employed for these wealthy folks too. What’s fascinating about “Parasite” is that it spans more genres than the entire filmography of more directors. Is is a crime story? Yes. But it’s also a family drama. And a black comedy. And a thriller? But despite all of this, there never is any clashing as we flow through the movie. They blend together beautifully, held together by some of the tightest writing I’ve experienced in a film in recent memory. All of this making for a brilliant satire on class differences within modern day South Korea (and possibly other parts of the world), while in general also being a highly enjoyable narrative to follow on a surface level. The storytelling of “Parasite” can be enjoyed both as this deep, nuanced satire, and as a general piece of entertainment. It’s just great stuff.

The characters in this are incredibly interesting, because it’s clear that a lot of time and love has gone into making them feel as real and nuanced as possible. I believe every second of their characterization, and that makes them extremely compelling. And when you pair that with an excellent cast, featuring people like Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-kyun, Park So-dam, Choi Woo-sik, Jang Hye-jin, Jung Ji-so, Cho Yeo-jeong, and more, you get some extremely engaging character work going on.

The score for the movie was composed Jung Jae-il, and it was terrific. It’s a fairly minimalist score, all things considered. It’s based mainly around piano, some strings, and light percussion, which helps give the movie a uniquely fascinating vibe that is equal parts fun and uncomfortable. And I love it.

“Parasite” was directed and co-written by Bong Joon-ho, and I think he did a superb job with it. Few directors have as much control over every scene as he has here. Every moment is perfectly crafted and calibrated in a way that I seldom see in movies. I also have to take a second to praise the cinematography by Hong Kyung-pyo, because it is not only ridiculously pretty, but it also adds so much to the overall storytelling, with each shot being able to convey so much about a moment. And when you take the superb editing into account, you get one of the most perfectly crafted movies I’ve seen. It’s insane how perfectly constructed this is.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 98% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 96/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.6/10 and is ranked #30 on their “Top 250” list. The movie won 4 Oscars in the categories of Best picture, Best director, Best original screenplay, and Best international feature. It was also nominated for an additional 2 Oscars in the categories of Best production design and Best film editing.

Yeah, guess I’m joining the choir in saying that “Parasite” is fucking fantastic. It has a great story, great characters, fantastic performances, great music, and fantastic directing/cinematography/editing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Parasite” is a 9.91/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Parasite” is now completed.

Not a bad start to my movie watching this year.

Movie Review: 99 Homes (2015)

Homes. We live in them. They shelter us from the harshness of the outside world. And yet despite their importance, a few small legal stipulations can instantly take them away from us.

Ladies and gents… “99 Homes”.

After he gets tossed out of his own home, Dennis Nash (Andrew Garfield) goes on a quest to find a job so he can try to get it back. This eventually leads him to working for Richard Carver (Michael Shannon), the real estate agent that made Dennis leave his home. Already there you get an interesting setup. And the movie uses it to its advantage in developing the drama of the story, and it only grows more and more compelling as Dennis delves further down this spiral, becoming more involved with the real estate business. I honestly didn’t see where the story went at first, and even when I got some idea of the path later on, I still found it really engaging thanks to the genuinely interesting writing.

The characters in this are really interesting, as they’re actually pretty layered. Andrew Garfield plays Dennis Nash, a dedicated single father doing everything he can to keep his family afloat. He is the one that goes through the most development in the cast here (which makes sense, since he’s the main character), going from his emotionally charged starting position to where he ends up. And Garfield is fantastic in the role. We then have Michael Shannon as Richard Carver, real estate agent and dickhead extraordinaire. If you just think of those words together with the casting, you can probably imagine what the character’s like. And you’re mostly right… and it’s awesome. Michael Shannon’s awesome. We also get supporting work from Laura Dern, Noah Lomax, Tim Guinee, J.D. Evermore, and a whole bunch of other people, all doing well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Antony Partos & Matteo Zingales, and I think they did a pretty good job with it. The score is a mostly synthesized affair, making for a decently dramatic sound that fits the movie well enough. Not much else I can say. Good, but not too memorable.

“99 Homes” was written by Ramin Bahrani and Amir Naderi, with Bahrani serving as director. And I think Bahrani did a great job. He really knows how to bring you into it. There’s a confidence in his direction that gives the movie a certain flair that elevates it everything else by quite a margin. He almost gives the movie a bit of a documentary-esque vibe, without sacrificing the cinematic flair of the fictional elements. He also knows how to build some good suspense at times, especially with a scene early on that I won’t spoil. Bahrani’s good.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 93% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 76/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,1/10.

“99 Homes” is a damn fine drama, taking a nuanced look at some fairly complex issues. It has a great plot, good characters, great performances, pretty good music, and really good writing/directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “99 Homes” is a 9,62/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “99 Homes” is now completed.

Oh, and that “Based on true events label”? Not quite true. It uses the 2008 recession as basis for its story, but beyond that, the story and characters are fabrications.