Brick is an exciting noir film about an innocent guy who falls into the drug culture in the suburbs, by the sea no less. It is shot entirely in San Clemente, California and really provides an experience of how the area looks and feels. I know because, just like director Roan Johnson, I grew up there! This is my contribution to MovieRob‘s Genre Grandeur topic of Film Noir Movies chosen by Ghezal of Ghezal Plus Movies.
R | 1h 50min | Action, Crime, Drama | 14 April 2006 (USA)
A teenage loner pushes his way into the underworld of a high school crime ring to investigate the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend.
Director: Rian Johnson
Writer: Rian Johnson
Stars: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Lukas Haas, Emilie de Ravin
Joseph Gordon Levitt is Brendan, a half-wit drug dealer who when we start isn’t dealing but later reveals he was. Because of his history, he is a narc for the “AP” (Richard Roundtree) who seems to enjoy threatening high school students to get information though he never takes any action with that information. Brendan is seeking vengeance against the murderous kid(s) who killed his girlfriend and dumped her body in a creek. He discovers a crime ring of heroin and seeks to continue his search working with them. He finds out her druggie boyfriend was going to be with her even though she was already pregnant and the inference is that the baby is Brendan’s. There is a new girl that comes into the picture and a lot of punches in the face, cars threatening to hit Brendan and at the last-minute swerving.
I think to see the novelty of this film, you need to realize that these kids are far too organized for high school students. We can piece together here and there why each does what he/she does but there isn’t much help from the film. From what I’ve read, Brick has become almost cult status. I have to respect that but for me, it was a “made by kids” film. Kids can do a lot but when they grow up they make films like Looper, also by Rian, that blow grownups away. I loved Looper and plan to review it in the next couple of days since I watched it for the podcast. I applaud Rian for what he’s done but most of all for getting a career such as his in movies after getting out of the maelstrom of growing up “rich” in Orange County. Some do not make it out alive. Brick is a fun piece of film Noir. I’m glad it catapulted Rian Johnson as far as it has. I recommend this one as a sleepy noir serious film with some comedy.
Classic Paul Rudd here similar to the one was see in I Love You Man. In this case however, Rudd’s character is a caretaker looking after a real pill of a teen with 7 or 8 months to live. Has he met his match of wits?
The Fundamentals of Caring (2016)
TV-MA | 1h 37min | Comedy, Drama | 24 June 2016 (USA)
A man suffering an incredible amount of loss enrolls in a class about care-giving that changes his perspective on life.
Director: Rob Burnett
Writers: Rob Burnett (screenplay), Jonathan Evison (novel)
Stars: Craig Roberts, Paul Rudd, Selena Gomez
I’m going to go out on a limb here and recognize Netflix for making some great original “movies.” These are films you can leave the room to get your laundry, come back and you haven’t lost the whole thrust of the show. Would they work in a theater? Hmmm, not sure, probably not as well. This is a dramedy (more drama) that makes you feel good a little but kind of rattles your nerves a bit as well. I like those types. It’s good writing too. There’s a part when the youth really challenges Rudd’s character and his words handle it perfectly.
Craig Roberts plays the invalid being cared for. He decides to trick his caretaker into taking him on a road trip and there is the meat of the film really. On the road they meet and pick up the Selena Gomez character. His wildfire hormones have a chance to offer some unholy commentary there. This is a simple but funny and touching film. It’s good for anyone but I imagine people in the caring profession would closely relate. Some may find the simpleness disappointing but I think it works well as a whole.
This is a joke movie that’s fun to watch at times. Some may look at the profane title and rote satanic artwork ad be put off but really, it’s just a bloody incarnation of a teenage film like Bill and Ted’s Great Adventure. It works on many levels and fans of the genre will love the splattering blood, electric guitars, and chainsaws.
Not Rated | 1h 26min | Comedy, Horror, Music | 2 October 2015 (USA)
Two teenage boys unwittingly summon an ancient evil entity known as The Blind One by delving into black magic while trying to escape their mundane lives.
Director: Jason Lei Howden
Writers: Jason Lei Howden, Sarah Howden (script consultant)
Stars: Milo Cawthorne, James Blake, Kimberley Crossman
You watch a film like this to see how outrageous it can be. I would criticize it for not being realistic enough but it never claimed to be. Wayne’s World also comes to mind as an obvious comparison. Normally I like music based films and also horror/gore type films. Unfortunately, this one didn’t deliver for me in either department. If you want to get into the jokes of young men, secluded in their basement trying to start a band, this could be for you. Add a lot of blood guts and the evil one himself and you might ave a laugh with a couple of friends over some beers. The visual effects are incredible and certainly worth mentioning, created by director Jason Lei Howden (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey)
At time of writing this it was streaming on Amazon Prime.
This is an excellent binge watch that draws you in and keeps you guessing. The acting is excellent and is on the same level as the writing. If you’re looking for a great binge watch, check this one out. At time of writing this it was streaming on Netflix.
TV-14 | 1h | Drama | TV Series (2013–2016)
Daniel Holden must put his life back together after serving 19 years on Georgia’s Death Row before DNA evidence calls his conviction into question.
Creator: Ray McKinnon
Stars: Aden Young, Abigail Spencer, J. Smith-Cameron
Did Daniel do it? That is the question all throughout the episodes. I only got through the first two seasons before I wrote this but I am set to watch the final season for sure.
Ray McKinnon wrote this screenplay. He is known for many acting roles including his in Sons of Anarchy, Mud, and Deadwood.
The story: Daniel Holden was accused of raping and murdering a 16-year-old girl. He spent almost 20 years in prison on death row before DNA evidence was produced to show he possibly was not to blame. The show starts with him getting out of jail and going through jeers and persecution by many in the town who think he did it. The show consists of him trying to heal and basically just cope with life outside of prison. There is also a mystery of whodunnit as his lawyer and the local sheriff start piecing together what happened that night. It takes you in and there are many surprises. At times it does go a bit slow but that is the exception to the general rule. Another thing: Daniel is not necessarily a likable character so that may be a problem for some.
If you like a good mystery that keeps you guessing, I recommend it!
This is a SundanceTV production and at the time of writing this, it was streaming on Netflix.
I’ve shared before how much I am drawn in to asylum films. There is just something patently creepy about them. I think we all wonder what’s going on with the patients in strait-jackets and more importantly, do they know something we don’t? This film deals in those questions and fears.
A Cure for Wellness (2016)
R | 2h 26min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror | 17 February 2017 (USA)
An ambitious young executive is sent to retrieve his company’s CEO from an idyllic but mysterious “wellness center” at a remote location in the Swiss Alps, but soon suspects that the spa’s treatments are not what they seem.
Director: Gore Verbinski
Writers: Justin Haythe (screenplay), Justin Haythe (story by) | 1 more credit »
Stars: Dane DeHaan, Jason Isaacs, Mia Goth
If there was a place where all the great people of the world went when they reached their mental end, it would be in this film. Einstein, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and the like would all be living out their long final chapters in this asylum. But it isn’t a bad deal really. There are baths, exercising, healthy food deliveries, and serpents. Well okay, I know the serpents are non-sequitirs. I will say there is some excellent acting in this film and the writing up until the last act is pretty good too. I have some issues with the end that make me question how much I should recommend it to you. Because the majority of it is so great. I will go with 7/10 and leave it at that. The way it was all wrapped up sort of weakened it’s ability to captivate me.
Watch Now From $4.99 on Amazon Video
Aaron Paul shines as actor but also producer in this tv series on HULU. His character is more mature soulful than Jesse on Breaking Bad. Still, he portrays the role with grit and wiliness as a questioning member of a cult.
1h | Drama | TV Series (2016– )
A man who converts to a controversial following suffers from a crisis of faith.
Creator: Jessica Goldberg
Stars: Aaron Paul, Michelle Monaghan, Emma Greenwell
I’ve seen the first two series of this and I can tell you it is a must-see binge-watch. We all have shadows of cults in our subconscious we learn from the news and some even first hand experience. This is a weird one but it has some of the trappings we hear about and even experience in fundamental Christianity. Even more so is the similarity to Scientology. It’s like a mix of both the way its people behave. It pits members against their families who refuse to believe, it sucks people in who are poor, “damaged,” or needy offering them the answers to all their questions.
This series is a winner because of the actors and their performances. You are left hanging on every episode as you identify ad feel for these people. Some of the material is truly dark and takes your breath away what humans can do to each other mentally. At times it didn’t seem like a real cult but these moments were rare. I would have liked to have seen more parallels to Christian cults because that’s where the damage occurs every day in my opinion. Scientology is just a small piece of the pie.
Check it out on Hulu, it’s streaming on HULU and you can see episodes now on Amazon Video for $2.99 apiece.
“Brave audiences will be rewarded.” That was what Variety said on the film’s poster. I couldn’t help but be curious about that. It’s well written! I hope I can come up with a few like that in my review! The abduction of a 16 year old girl by a twisted sex-obsessed couple makes for a grisly, suspenseful plot.
Hounds of Love (2016)
1h 48min | Crime, Drama, Horror | 12 May 2017 (USA)
Vicki Maloney is randomly abducted from a suburban street by a disturbed couple. As she observes the dynamic between her captors she quickly realises she must drive a wedge between them if she is to survive.
Director: Ben Young
Writer: Ben Young
Stars: Emma Booth, Ashleigh Cummings, Stephen Curry
Ben Young did a great job directing this Australian based film. He is known for Something Fishy and Bush Basher. I found his vision astounding. It’s likely he met with some opposition making this film. It is indeed twisted as it takes you into the lair of this criminal sex ring where abduction, rape, and murder are commonplace. When the girl is chained, we are chained. It also a very personal movie the way it is filmed at such close range.
I like how it’s realistic. The acting on the part of the young girl’s mother is top class. You want so badly for her to discover where her daughter is, she’s a really great actor. If you can get through the horrors inside the house, you will indeed be rewarded. Te details aren’t necessary here, it’s a typical psycho-sex thing going on here but there is indeed something that makes this film special in that genre. Ashleigh Cummings’ character has to use psychology to drive a wedge between the couple if she is to survive. That process makes this film highly entertaining and definitely worth your time. I can’t think of anything they could improve upon. While the subject matter is highly graphic, and that may put off a handful of viewers, I still say they hit the bullseye with this as thriller, crime, drama. I give it my highest recommendation.
Watch Now From $3.99 (SD) on Amazon Video
Dear movie lovers, can you do me a favor? I am championing “Forrest Gump” as Movie of the Month on the Large Association of Movie Blogs (LAMB). Could you go there and vote for it?
Forrest Gump is a piece of Americana written on the cave walls of this century. It stands as a piece of who we are as a country and the drama surrounding so much pop culture. It’s a treasure trove of discussions for us on the LAMB. Tom Hanks is incredible in it, the wisdom of a fool is his muse.
Go to this link and select the Forrest Gump option: Vote for MOTM August 2017
If my movie wins, I get to appear on the MOTM show as co-host leading the discussion on the film.
Thank you very much! See you at the movies!
Vampires! Back to the time of the mummies, the Egyptians. That’s what this film presents. I had started watching it a few times before actually waiting and watching all the way through. The reason for this was that it was like a silly band bio pic. Things quickly change from that and it becomes a contender with the likes of Interview With a Vampire and other hit films.
Queen of the Damned (2002)
R | 1h 41min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror | 22 February 2002 (USA)
The vampire Lestat becomes a rock star whose music wakes up the queen of all vampires.
Director: Michael Rymer
Writers: Anne Rice (novels), Scott Abbott (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Stars: Aaliyah, Stuart Townsend, Marguerite Moreau
It’s ironic they named this film “Queen …” because her role really doesn’t come for some time. Mostly we see the plight of LeStat, his rise to fame as a rocker, and his mysterious nature of feeding on his fans.
The director, Michael Rymer, did the remake of Battlestar Galactica in 2004 but otherwise he hasn’t done much more. He does a good job here, the message intertwined throughout is coherent and the film works. There is one scene I love where the fans of the band are watching vampires fighting on stage doing supernatural things and they cheer because they think it’s part of LeStat’s show. The first half lags a bit, they could have sped all that up in my opinion. For that it loses a couple points. The music is amazing. Fans of Anne Rice novels and vampire movies will enjoy this film. I recommend it.
At time of writing this, it is streaming on Netflix.
Another take on the zombies! This one is unique and interesting as well. It’s sort of a Jurassic Park meet’s Zombies. In like fashion, a trip to this park is not cheap, it’s an experimental resort for the wealthy.
The Rezort (2015)
1h 33min | Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller | 15 June 2016 (Philippines)
The ReZort, a safari park, offers paying guests the opportunity to kill as many zombies as they please following an outbreak.
Director: Steve Barker
Writer: Paul Gerstenberger
Stars: Dougray Scott, Jessica De Gouw, Martin McCann
Steve Barker is the director. He isn’t well known for much apart from another film he made called The Outpost. There is much excitement here and the cast does well in its interpretation of the script. Some people may not be impressed because I found this film on Netflix but it was very entertaining and interesting to see a new take on the genre.
The premise is that rich people pay large amounts to shoot zombies. s you might imagine, the zombies come undone and start killing people and turning them into zombies. The visuals of the vacation scenes at the beginning are elaborate and the graphics of the zombies stand up against a Hollywood blockbuster. These zombies are more pensive and it seems they can do more than just blindly saunter. They can track a person.
The zombies turn almost immediately so that presents different challenges than the slower turn time in The Walking Dead. Then there are the issues of it being a business and whether the loss of life should be covered up or not. The actors are not well known but they deliver excellent performances. The writing is not a 10 but it serves the film enough. Writing something unique in this genre is bound to be a real challenge. The writers here pulled it off.
As a film to pass the time, this one delivers. For fans of the zombie genre, I definitely recommend it to you.
At time of writing this, it was streaming on Netflix