Cemetery of Splendor

I won’t try to overstep my grasp of this film. I figure readers like to read something by a guy who knows what he is talking about and at the very least comprehends what is happening. I can’t say I do 100% in this film. BUT, I will take this review opportunity to tell you exactly how I took this film and the hedonic components as they revealed themselves to me. I call this sort of film impressionistic hedonism and let me tell you, it’s not for everyone. Note this partial genre: fantasy. Available From $2.99 (SD) on Prime Video.

Cemetery of Splendor (2015)
Rak ti Khon Kaen (original title)
Unrated | 2h 2min | Drama, Fantasy | 2 September 2015 (France)

From $2.99 (SD) on Prime Video
A group of soldiers in a small town on the Mekong River in northern Thailand are struck with a bizarre sleeping illness.
Director: Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Writer: Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Stars: Jenjira Pongpas, Banlop Lomnoi, Jarinpattra Rueangram

I love Thai food. I also love Buddhist temples. There’s one close to us here in Southern California that I have gone to many times “when I was confused” (quote from the film and also my life). What was I confused about you might ask? As in the film, the answer would be “love.”

In the last 1/4 of the film there is this contraption that propels water and yet doesn’t move. Actually it’s impossible to tell if it is propelling or being propelled. It make the sound of a free shooting sprinkler and it’s magnificent. There were many times in this film I got that relaxed feeling you get after a good meditation or even a massage. Thailand appears to be so beautiful. There are numerous scenes that appear chosen in color and framing as if to hang in a temple. The only thing missing is a padded stool and lovely incense. Is there a story here? Oh yes but it’s a lot like the hedonic imagery, you better not make a judgment, better to just relax and accept that everyone around us is dead. Not sad, dead.

Shall we pretend that we’re dead? Like the water propellers, there are a dozen or more deeply fascinating and ethereal objects & images. I collect these types of images in my mind. If you don’t, you won’t get it.

There are a few women, one in particular, who take care of men in a comatose state. We find out why they will never wake up at some point. Then we learn more about the living women and what their life is all about. Or is it life? This film was great for breathing exercises and armchair traveling in my lazy boy. For those who would like that and “get that” I recommend to you 8/10.

Skyfall

Since this is my first Bond Films experience, I decided to not get to big for my breeches. I picked three high points and that’s what I’ll share with you. There is a LOT that makes this film work but I’ll save the advanced stuff for the experts in this franchise.

Skyfall (2012)
PG-13 | 2h 23min | Action, Adventure, Thriller | 9 November 2012 (USA)

Bond’s loyalty to M is tested when her past comes back to haunt her. When MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost.
Director: Sam Mendes
Writers: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade | 2 more credits »
Stars: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Naomie Harris

But before my 3 things: The director gets a nod: Sam Mendes. Here’s a list of what the guy has done:

2015/I Spectre (directed by)
2012 Skyfall
2009 Away We Go
2008 Revolutionary Road
2005 Jarhead
2002 Road to Perdition
1999 American Beauty

I haven’t yet seen Spectre but know a little about it. I am looking forward to it. Revolutionary Road is a hard watch and definitely gives couples something to think about. Kate Winslet was married to the director at that time. They have since divorced. There is no such impressive acting in most action films and this Bond film doesn’t have it probably by design but that’s okay. The Road to Perdition and American Beauty are also character and dialog driven films, unlike this Bond film. So, how has the director made this film “work” for so many people it’s first on the majority of lists ranking the franchise? Here are three memorable components I noticed, again as I said, there are many more.

The views over and in Shanghai are breathtaking cinematography. Instead of focusing only on the action, Mendes envisioned so much more for this film. I felt like the armchair traveler reading and SEEING what he is reading on the other side of the world. One might see the film in this movie as a cheap vacation idea. It really took me away and drew me into what Bond was up to.

The villain played by Javier Bardem was scary and abrasive. I really wanted Bond to kick his ass. As the film continued though, I could empathize with him. He is not altogether a bad guy. Still, he had to be dealt with in the plot of the story. The parts where he removed his teeth were chilling and worked so well.

The Bond girls were all mysterious and sexy, which I’ll bet is true in all the films. They are also scary and NOT SOFT. In so many films the villainesses persuade the protagonist to stray from his task but nit here. This Bond has been around the block. It fun to watch the Bond girls in this film even while they are cold as ice beneath their beauty.

There are my three mentions about this film. I truly liked it and will definitely continue to the next in the series. I have a body horror podcast to do tomorrow so I will be reviewing films for that but I am sure next week you’ll be hearing from me on this blog about my next Bond film pick and review. If you have a second, why not leave me a recommendation. This one was tops! 10/10.

Still Waiting for First Reformed and Some of My Predictions

If you are a fundamentalist Christian who puts the Bible before humanitarianism and reason, you may be offended by my article below. You’ve been warned. That’s not to say it will offend all Christians. I am a person raised Christian but somewhat dissatisfied with the current state of it in my country. It still lives in my heart.

I’ve been really interested in this movie, it sounds like a challenge against modern Christianity. Challenge breaks up the soil and either kill the weak crop or make it stronger through reform. Most Christians making headlines and faith-based social media statements fear challenge. I say: you’re killing people and even worse, people’s inspiration to live, be challenged.

I still haven’t seen the film but it sounds like a story of a weak preacher played by Ethan Hawke who is a small part of a large mega-church machine. When people really need help, he is like “I got nothing.” Amanda Seyfried is part of his choir and her husband wants her to get an abortion because the world is doomed and they shouldn’t bring a baby into it. There are some explosive moments and religion is challenged. The director Paul Schrader is legendary for a 40 year career in writing and directing films. He wrote the script and story for Taxi Driver in the 70’s.

This is the first preview I’ve written in quite sometime. I feel our world needs a “come to the table of sanity” rebuke film towards Christianity. Some of these Christian films that have come out like “God is Not Dead 2” are borderline embarrassing to our human race. I don’t think this mass of Chrstians running around blessing each others’ day are healthy for the world. Things could change of course, when free thought outweighs the dusty black book.

The best rule is to expect nothing, some of my favorite movies were seen that way. When it does come out you can expect to see my review right here at “Riley on Film.”

The Beverly Hills Cop franchise REVIEWED – on the Damien Riley Podcast

Have you listened to this one yet? I had the pleasure of Hermione Flavia as my guest on these episode. We review all tree of these landmark action/comedy films from the 1980’s. Have a listen.

Announcing another great guest! Hermione Flavia ( on twitter @hermioneflavia ) agreed to appear on the show and when we talked about movies to cover, she came up with “Beverly Hills Cop” which I agreed with right away. I had a lot of fun with her recording the show! Have a listen and enjoy.

Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
R | 1h 45min | Action, Comedy, Crime | 5 December 1984 (USA)

A freewheeling Detroit cop pursuing a murder investigation finds himself dealing with the very different culture of Beverly Hills.
Director: Martin Brest
Writers: Daniel Petrie Jr. (screenplay), Danilo Bach (story) | 1 more credit »
Stars: Eddie Murphy, Judge Reinhold, John Ashton

I’m a big fan of the franchise and of Eddie Murphy’s work. It was very exciting to rewatch and discuss these films with her! What you hear in this episode is our discussion on these 3 films. We take a few birdwalks but were pretty good about coming back on topic 🙂 WHICH as you may know is a bit of a challenge for me sometimes. She’s agreed to come back and we’re making plans for her to be on the show again very soon.

My guest today is Hermione Flavia from Wildfire Movies. Check her out on Instagram as well: hermioneflavia.

Foxcatcher

Creepy performance by Steve Carrell. This is also a very creepy TRUE story that only features wrestling as a theme. There is a LOT more going on here. 8.5/10 I say that because I avoided it for many moons since I don’t dig wrestling much. A must for Steve Carrell fans as well as fans of dark stories. It was annoying at times because I don’t understand nationalistic sport bullshit but the story was adapted well. Rent in SD $2.99 on Prime Video.

Foxcatcher (2014)
R | 2h 14min | Biography, Drama, Sport | 16 January 2015 (USA)

Foxcatcher is a movie starring Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, and Mark Ruffalo. U.S. Olympic wrestling champions and brothers Mark Schultz and Dave Schultz join “Team Foxcatcher”, led by eccentric multi-millionaire John du Pont, as they train for the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea, but John’s self-destructive behavior threatens to consume them all.
Director: Bennett Miller
Writers: E. Max Frye, Dan Futterman
Stars: Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo

I Saw the Devil

Revenge at its pinnacle. Starts out a bit tedious but once the ride begins, hang on, strap in, whatever because it doesn’t stop. 10/10. Rent it on Amazon in SD for $2.99.

I Saw the Devil (2010)
Ang-ma-reul bo-at-da (original title)
Not Rated | 2h 22min | Action, Drama, Horror | 12 August 2010 (South Korea)

A secret agent exacts revenge on a serial killer through a series of captures and releases.
Director: Jee-woon Kim (as Kim Jee-woon)
Writers: Jee-woon Kim (adaptation), Hoon-jung Park (screenplay)
Stars: Byung-Hun Lee, Min-sik Choi, Joon-Hyuk Lee

Director Jee-woon Kim list of films I will make sure and see them all. How many have you seen?

2016 The Age of Shadows
2013 The X (Short) (as Kim Jee-woon)
2013 One Perfect Day (Video short) (as Kim Jee-woon)
2013 The Last Stand (as Kim Jee-woon)
2012 Doomsday Book (segment “Heaven’s Creation”, as Kim Jee-woon)
2010 I Saw the Devil (as Kim Jee-woon)
2008 The Good the Bad the Weird (as Kim Jee-woon)
2005 A Bittersweet Life (as Kim Jee-woon)
2003 A Tale of Two Sisters (as Kim Jee-woon)
2002 3 Extremes II (segment “Memories”, as Kim Jee-woon)
2001 Coming Out (Short) (as Kim Jee-woon)
2000 The Foul King (as Kim Jee-woon)
1998 The Quiet Family (as Kim Jee-woon)

Rampage

This one’s a wild ride. In the spirit of other giant animal movies. There are many more than just a white gorilla. Plot is a little complicated for what it needs to be but still, 8/10. Rent it streaming on Amazon for $5.99.

Rampage (2018)
PG-13 | 1h 47min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi | 13 April 2018 (USA)

When three different animals become infected with a dangerous pathogen, a primatologist and a geneticist team up to stop them from destroying Chicago.
Director: Brad Peyton
Writers: Ryan Engle (screenplay by), Carlton Cuse (screenplay by) | 3 more credits »
Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Naomie Harris, Malin Akerman

Down With Love

Sometimes when I watch quirky love stories like “Down With Love,” I fail to review them. It’s not that I don’t like them, I just enjoy them with my wife and do a small rating on a few of the services (ie; Letterboxd). I really need to be more disciplined. I admit it’s more natural and fun for me to review other genres. So, I’m including a review here of Down With Love, certainly a fun romantic comedy.

Down with Love (2003)
PG-13 | 1h 41min | Comedy, Romance | 16 May 2003 (USA)

In 1962 New York City, love blossoms between a playboy journalist and a feminist advice author.
Director: Peyton Reed
Writers: Eve Ahlert, Dennis Drake
Stars: Ewan McGregor, Renée Zellweger, David Hyde Pierce

Director Peyton Reed is the shit, and not just because he rocks the bald and glasses look. He’s the director of Ant Man and Yes Man which were 2 films I really liked. IF a director is bald with glasses and directs at least 2 movies I love, he is defined as “the shit” but I already said that right?

Ha ha ha

 

This one is a lot of fun because it is styled to look like the old Doris Day movies. Tony Randall even makes an epic appearance. Ewan MaGregor is a good leading man but I’ve never really seen him as a sex object tp the audience. Still, he does a good job aspiring to be one. Again, it’s all about the humor. Not much real life stuff but you can have a laugh on a date about all the crap we go through while dating. I know my wife and I related. Renee (That last name sp) is really cute as is her friend “Sarah Paulson.” They both do a great job being perfect as well. It reminds me I want to catch up on American Horror Story soon. I liked “Down With Love” but nothing extravagantly special here. Works on a date, there are better choices but if you’ve seen them all. I gave it a 6.5/10.

The First Purge

There is a race war in this country and Trump along with movies like “The First Purge” are not helping. Blacks are fed societal lies that whites hate them and don’t want them to succeed. Whites are fed that blacks hate whites. Welcome to the backbone premise of this film. It relies upon these evil, age-old constructs. I didn’t like this movie.

The First Purge (2018)
R | 1h 37min | Action, Horror, Sci-Fi | 4 July 2018 (USA)

The film will be a prequel that will focus on the events that lead up to the very first Purge event.
Director: Gerard McMurray
Writer: James DeMonaco
Stars: Y’lan Noel, Lex Scott Davis, Joivan Wade

The chemistry worked the same as the other films for me. The director was respectful to the tone and overall message against the upper class population. Look, I’m not a professional reviewer so I can speak my mind: this film really bothered me. I saw Detroit last year and loved it because it pointed out the injustice that was done in a real event. Katheryn Bigelow made a social statement about racism in that film. This is similar to Black Panther in the way it vilifies white upper class. Scrolling through Twitter I see that more blacks like it than whites, that makes me very sad for Hollywood and for our country. I can’t recommend this film to you. It reeks of hate and reverse discrimination. Having said that, it you think differently, my comments box knows no color, please let the community know. I found this review extremely difficult to write but felt I needed to put something out. 5/10.