12 Films of Christmas 2019 (Part 6)

Holy shit, we’re already halfway through this silly series of mine. Time sure flies when things happen. So let’s get into it.

Some of you might recognize the movie from the image up above. Today we’re talking about “Overlord”, a 2018 action-horror movie directed by Julius Avery, and produced by J.J. Abrams. It’s about a group of American soldiers who fall behind enemy lines during World War 2, in an attempt to make a difference in the tides of war. This might sound familiar to some of you, as I have talked about this movie on the blog before… twice, as a matter of fact (and about a kajillion other times on twitter). So now I hear you groaning “Markus, how can a grim World War 2 horror movie possibly be associated with christmas?”. Well, strap in and make yourself ready for my reasoning.

What’s one of the most important parts of christmas? Bringing joy, right? Well, you know what brings me a whole lot of joy? Seeing nazi punks get blown the fuck up, shot to shit, absolutely annihilated, and other delightful synonyms for that situation. Sure, there are parts where our heroes are stuck or pinned down, struggling with their mission. But that just makes it even more satisfying and joyous to see them destroy god damn nazi assholes. Call me a sick son of a bitch if you want, but with our world being what it currently is, this kind of violent escapism is important, especially during the season of joy.

Have a good one.

Movie Review: Blaze (2018)

Biopics are fascinating. They give us a glimpse into a real life individual’s personal life, while also trying to provide a couple hours of entertainment. And striking the right balance between fact and compelling drama can be tough. But some people manage it.

Disclaimer: I know this thing is based on a true story, but I will not base my review on how perfectly accurate to the real situation it may or may not be, but I will instead judge it as a movie… which it is. Disclaimer over.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Blaze”.

The story follows the life and times of Blaze Foley (Ben Dickey), a raggedy man with a talent for music. From his humble beginnings, and through the highs and lows, including his marriage to Sybil Rosen (Alia Shawkat), we get a good glimpse into Foley’s life. And I think that the plot here is really good. There are elements that we recognize from other biopics, but the way they’re used throughout “Blaze” feels fresh, due to the gentle and nuanced writing. It creates a fascinating tale that can be as heartbreaking as it is warmly nostalgic. The deliberately slow pace might prove a bit frustrating for some, but I thought it worked very well for the story here.

The characters here are flawed, nuanced, charming, and overall feel very real. Ben Dickey plays the titular musician. A likable man with a lot of tragic flaws. Seeing his journey as a character here is really fascinating, and I really grew to care about him. And Dickey is great in the role. Alia Shawkat plays Sybil Rosen, a woman and aspiring actress/writer that Blaze has a committed relationship with. The journey she has here, which really are the ups and downs of being with Blaze, is really interesting, and makes her an interesting and sympathetic character. And Shawkat is really good in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Charlie Sexton, Josh Hamilton, Wyatt Russell, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

As this is a biopic about a musician, it should be expected that one would hear a lot of songs from said artist throughout. You’d be correct in that assumption, you do hear a lot of Foley’s music here… and I love it. Not only because the music is incredibly well written, but also because the way it’s implemented in the storytelling is absolutely wonderful. So yeah, the music here is great.

Based on “Living in the Woods in a Tree: Remembering Blaze Foley” (bit of a mouthful) by Sybil Rosen, this movie was written by Ethan Hawke & Sybil Rosen, with Hawke also handling directing. And the craft here is wonderful. It has a warmness to it, and a willingness to just sit down and really get to know these characters, not always feeling the need to get to the next “big event”. Like I said in the story bit, the pacing is deliberately slow, and the direction embraces that and turns it into some truly compelling stuff. And the cinematography by Steve Cosens helps kind of give it all a nostalgic storybook feeling that really adds to the experience.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 95% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 75/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,7/10.

“Blaze” is a wonderful movie about a very interesting man. It has a really good plot, good characters, great performances, great music, and great writing/directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *AHEM*. My final score for “Blaze” is a 9,77/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Blaze” is now completed.

That was a nice experience.

Movie Review: Overlord (2018)

*Ron Perlman voice activated* War… war never changes. *Ron Perlman voice deactivated*.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Overlord”.

Set during world war 2, we follow a group of American soldiers as they land behind enemy lines in France to take out a nazi transmitter. But as they delve further into the complex, they discover some horrifying things that are unlike anything they have ever seen before. So now we have our historical action-horror plot. And I have to say that I really enjoyed it. Admittedly it’s a very predictable and straightforward plot that doesn’t do much to increase in depth, but that is also what I like about it. Don’t get me wrong, complex plots with twists and turns are great, but there’s something oddly refreshing about the simplicity of “Overlord”. It does slow down at a couple points to build on the characters, but that is just a plus for this movie as it gives the audience some room to breathe in between all the intense war stuff. So yeah, the plot is simple and predictable, but it’s also tense, badass, engaging, and just fun.

The characters in this are simple, but they’re also interesting and entertaining. First up we have Jovan Adepo as Boyce, who more or less is the rookie in the team.  A good kid who sees the horrors of WW2 and has to step up. But they play around with that pretty well here. And Adepo is great in the role. Next we have Wyatt Russell as Ford, the badass Corporal who takes no shit and is a little stern. Russell is great in the role. Next we have Mathilde Ollivier as Chloe, a French woman that our squad of heroes meet. She’s tough, she’s resourceful, and she’s willing to help the Americans stop ze nazis. And Ollivier is really good in the role. And then we have Pilou Asbæk in the role of evil nazi captain. I know his character has a name, but that doesn’t matter because evil nazi captain is all you need to know. A clear villain, no grey areas here. And Asbæk is great in the role. We also get supporting work from people like John Magaro, Iain De Caestecker, Jacob Anderson, Bokeem Woodbine, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Jed Kurzel, and it was really good. It uses a lot of heavy percussion to simulate the intensity of wartime, while also implementing some intense brass stings, trodding bass, some tense string work, and it all comes together to create some music that really helps the suspense and intensity of the movie go above and beyond.

The movie was directed by Julius Avery, and I think he did a great job with it. He captures the uncertainty and suspense of being within this situation. You’d almost think this would be a straight up intense shoot-em-up all the way through, but there’s a surprising amount of sneaking around as well, and I think that adds a lot of tension to the movie. That’s not to discredit the shootouts, because when the bullets start flying, it is some of the most intense and brutal action I’ve seen in quite a while. The violence here will please fans of war films, as well as fans of gory horror stuff. There are also a couple jumpscares here, and I think they work well enough. They may be predictable, but they’re not false, and they did still get to me. Good shit.

This movie very recently came out, but so far it’s been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 82% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 58/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,2/10.

“Overlord” isn’t the most original movie, but it’s still one hell of a ride that I liked a lot. It has a really good plot, good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Overlord” is a 9,87/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Overlord” is now completed.

Came because of AC/DC, stayed for the HOLY SHIT, THAT’S BRUTAL.

Movie Review: We Are What We Are (2013)

And the Month of Spooks continues with another review! So let’s get into it!

Ladies and gentlemen… “We Are What We Are”.

The Parkers are a reclusive family who follow some ye olde customs. However, when the mother in the family dies the daughters (Ambyr Childers, Julia Garner) have to start taking more responsibilities at home, and they soon find their lives taking a turn for the worse It’s difficult talking about the plot of this without accidentally spoiling stuff, so I’m not gonna say anything more about the plot itself. I will however say that I thought it was great. It’s a slow burn, which might put some people off. But the movie rewards patient viewers with an engrossing, tense, and disturbing plot filled with twists and turns. It’s a very well handled plot and I thought it was great.

The characters in this are all flawed, damaged, and interesting. Ambyr Childers plays Iris, the older of the two Parker sisters. And while she is a fairly soft-spoken character that doesn’t speak too much, you can still tell a lot about her by just looking at her eyes. You can see the sadness and pain behind them, you can see that she wants something more out of life than what she has. And Childers is great in the role. Julia Garner (AKA Ruth Langmore from “Ozark”) plays Rose, the younger of the Parker sisters. As with Childers she acts a lot with her eyes, and you can tell that she isn’t as comfortable with their situation as her sister. And Garner is great in the role. Bill Sage plays Frank, the father of the Parker family. He is more often than not a very soft-spoken man, but can explode when things don’t go as planned. And like with the two ladies playing his daughters, he acts with his eyes quite a bit. And there are several other subtleties in his performance that I won’t get into here, but they do add layers to the performance. And Sage is great in the role. We also get Wyatt Russell as a police deputy that has some history with one of the Parker sisters, and he’s really good in the role. We also have Jack Gore as Rory, the youngest child in the Parker family. And while it isn’t one of the best child performances ever, I’d still say that it’s good (which is great to see). We also have Michael Parks (may he rest in peace) as a coroner that looks into the dead Parker mom. And he’s great in the role. We also have Nick Damici in a small role as a Sheriff. And he’s good… not much else to say for such a limited role. And we have Kelly McGillis as the Parkers’ neighbor, and she’s good in the role. Overall it’s a well acted movie.

The score for the movie was composed by Jeff Grace, Philip Mossman, and Darren Morris. And it was fantastic. It is tense, dramatic, eerie, and even emotional. It really helped elevate a lot of the scenes, adding so many layers to those scenes. Then there were also a couple of licensed tracks used throughout and they were used well in their respective scenes.

This movie was directed by Jim Mickle (a man who has popped up on this blog several times before), and written by Nick Damici & Jim Mickle. And I have to say that he did a terrific job with his directing here. It is slow and methodical, with no shots feeling out of place or dull. He manages to build a lot of tension throughout the movie and even had me feeling uneasy from start to finish thanks to the eerie atmosphere of it. And I have to mention that Ryan Samul’s cinematography is fantastic. There’s also some gore in this, so if you’re slightly squeamish… you have now been warned. And as a final little mention here, this is apparently a remake of a Mexican film of the same name. I haven’t seen it… just thought I’d mention it’s existence.

This movie has gotten some slightly mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 86% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 71/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 5,9/10.

“We Are What We Are” is a damn good little horror-drama. It has a great plot, really good characters, great performances, great music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “We Are What We Are” is a 9,86/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “We Are What We Are” is now completed.

Another win for Mr. Mickle.

Movie Review: Cold in July (2014)

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I think that tagline describes life pretty damn well. Really, that’s all I can say. I don’t have anything clever to put here.

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s… “Cold in July”.

Texas, 1989. Richard Dane (Michael C. Hall) kills a person who has broken into his home. Soon after that he finds out that the intruder’s ex-con father (Sam Shepard) is out for revenge. And after that, Dane finds himself getting pulled into the seedy underworld of Texas, filled with lies and violence. And fro that we get a dark, suspenseful, twisty, and unpredictable plot that I was completely invested in. The plot here is a slow burn, and requires a bit of patience from it’s viewers. It’s not a long movie, but it’s not exactly fast-paced either. It’s like I said, a slowly burning movie that is very rewarding, giving us some good twists and turns throughout. And I thought it all was pretty great.

The characters in this movie are complex and interesting. Michael C. Hall does a really good job in his role as this very protective father getting dragged into this dark world. Sam Shepard is great as the father of the intruder that Dane kills, perfectly portraying this menacing and interesting man. Next we have Don Johnson as a sort of private investigator that Dane gets to know in the movie. And he was great in the role. His character was interesting and the performance was pretty great overall, definitely a bit different from Johnson’s typical roles. We also have Nick Damici as a police lieutenant, and he was really good in the role. I’d say that all performances in the movie were good. Sure, the kid playing Michael C. Hall’s son wasn’t really that great, but his role was so small that I can’t complain too much.

The score for the movie was composed by Jeff Grace and holy shit, he did a great job! The music that he composed for the movie is based heavily around the synth and it all sound fucking fantastic. As I watched the movie I constantly found myself saying “Wow, this song is great!”. And I think it all fit the dark and seedy tone of the movie. There were also a few licensed tracks spread throughout and they all worked pretty well in the movie.

This movie was directed by Jim Mickle and I do think he did a really good job. The scenes are tightly constructed and the shots looks great. I mean, the movie looks dirty, like it should… but it’s dirty in a kind of beautiful way. It has the seedy dirtyness one should expect from this plot, while still looking gorgeous. This is especially apparent in the final act, where we get the dirty and violent thriller stuff while also having some gorgeous use of colors. Speaking of the violent stuff, there isn’t too much of it in the movie. The violence only comes in short bursts at a few points in the movie, which kind of gives it more of an impact. Fun fact: This is based on a novel. I had nowhere to really go with that, I just thought it could be fun to mention.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 86% psoitive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 73/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,8/10.

“Cold in July” is a really good movie that rewards patient viewers. It has a really good plot, interesting characters, great acting, great music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Clears throat*. My final score for “Cold in July” is a 9,59/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
seal-of-approval

My review of “Cold in July” is now completed.

“Cold in July”… sorry, that is not possible unless we’re in Antarctica.