What a mixed bag this weeks viewing was! Nine films watched: Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (2014), Dobermann (1997), Citizen Kane (1941), Sick Girl (2007), Oculus (2014), Mystery Road (2013), Blue Ruin (2014), The Colony (2013), and Atrocious (2010).
Hmm. Not a particularly good week for movie choices…
I watched a trio of short films from Terry Gilliam this week: The Legend of Hallowdega (2010), The Wholly Family (2011), and The Crimson Permanent Assurance (1983). My anticipation of the upcoming The Zero Theorem (2014) brought me here (In case you wondered).
Mary (Kate Dickie) and son, Fergal (Niall Bruton), harbour a dark secret that has forced them to move from place to place since Fergal was a child. When they settle into a council flat, somewhere in Scotland, Fergal meets the streetwise Petronella (Hanna Stanbridge). The two soon fall in love, despite Mary’s warning that no good will come of the relationship. They are unaware that on their trail is Cathal (James Nesbitt), a man invested with a dark, powerful magic, and Liam (Ciaran McMenamin), an Irish traveller sent to control him.
Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is lonely, existing in a state of semi-neglect due to his parents’ separation, and suffering at the hands of the school bully. One night he meets Abby (Chloe Moretz), a strange girl, seemingly of a similar age, who has moved into the apartment next door. The two immediately connect and through Abby’s encouragement, Owen learns to stand up for himself, but will their relationship last when Abby’s true nature is revealed?
A gang of hooded youths attack a school and the teachers, under siege, are forced into a deadly game of survival.
Hypnotic lights descend on Los Angeles, heralding a full scale alien invasion, the intention of which is the xenocide of humanity.
Civilian trucker Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds) is ambushed and taken hostage while working as a contractor in Iraq. He is buried alive, with a phone and some supplies, and must do as his captors bid him if he is to survive.
Filmed entirely within the confines of a coffin, Buried is a claustrophobic piece, but due to an inventive mix of camera techniques, boredom is kept at bay. Seven different coffins were used and it was shot in only 17 days, which could account for keeping costs at the $3 million mark.
Reynolds does a stellar job considering the pressures that must come with what is essentially a solo role (voice roles not included): at moments you can feel the paranoia, begging the question “Is this real?”, at times the frustration at the bureaucracy encountered over the phone, at other times the tension from constantly assessing the situation, your mind running at a thousand miles per hour, thinking “What would I do to get out of that box?”; all in all an impressive acting feat.
The screenplay for Buried was written by newcomer Chris Sparling who, sick of scripts being rejected for location costs, decided to write something ultra resource friendly; one star, one place, plenty of clever ideas. It will be interesting to see what he has to offer in the future.
Well worth watching: 4 out of 5.
Billions are struck down by a mysterious virus leaving the few survivors in a state of shock. When the dead start to rise, Michael (Dexter Fletcher), Carl (Dickon Tolson) and Emma (Lana Kamenov) decide that the city is no longer safe; they set out in search of a more secure location in the countryside.
Autumn has gotten some really bad reviews, most of which it deserves, but the truly frustrating thing is that most of the flaws were avoidable. The editing was clumsy: some scenes went nowhere and seemed to have little point; one character had a particular motorbike at one point and the model changed for no apparent reason, then changed back a few scenes later; and there were at least three points when the frame was clearly paused for no apparent reason. The soundtrack was far worse than the editing: music cutting off mid-scene; unrealistically loud background effects (like footsteps); muffled dialogue; music not fitting the mood; argh! If ever a movie suffered from being the last editing job on a Friday evening then Autumn is it.
There are some good points though, most relating to the story. Autumn is based on a book of the same name by David Moody, originally released for free online; it became successful, inspiring the creation of four sequels, the rights to which were acquired by Thomas Dunne Books in 2008. Watching the movie makes you want to read the books because the story does contain some interesting and unique elements.
The zombie virus in Autumn, which takes out most of the worlds’ population in a matter of minutes, works in a slightly different way than you are used to. Those not immune to the virus immediately seem to die, and only after an incubation period of a day do they mobilise again but slowly; initially they have no aggression at all and the danger comes from their apparent decomposition but their behaviour gradually evolves into something more sinister. The dialogue was engaging, with some nice zombie-apocalypse logic here and there, making you think that someone actually considered about some of the problems at hand; and it was well executed by Fletcher, with Tolson and Kamenov doing a good job too. David Carradine’s role as a crazy old man, surrounded by the undead, was thoroughly enjoyable but much too brief.
Watch Autumn for the reasons stated ignoring its many flaws … if you can.
2 out of 5.