“Snowpiercer” Review

Snowpiercer [2013]★★★★

Eternal order is prescribed by the sacred engine: all things flow from the sacred engine, all things in their place, all passengers in their section, all water flowing, all heat rising, pays homage to the sacred engine, in its own particular preordained position”.

A blockbuster production with a devilishly unpredictable plot”, says character Wilford in Snowpiercer. That is what this film, directed by Bong Joon-ho (Parasite (2019)) and based on the French graphic novel Le Transperceneige, also is. In this story, there is one post-apocalyptic world and one “self-sustaining” train makes it rounds around the world. On board are human survivors who are divided into strict social groups, with one unfair regime governing them all. At the bottom of the social ladder (and the train), one can find the poor masses who are dressed in rags and survive on protein bars, and, at the top, there is the elite, consisting of a few individuals who ruthlessly preside over the masses, while enjoying the luxuries of life. When one man from the bottom of the train sparks the rebellious spirit in the masses, he does not even begin to imagine the complicated way to the top of the train nor what awaits him as he nears the real power propelling the train forward. Snowpiercer is not one’s ordinary action or sci-fi film; wrapped in philosophical reflections and delicately balancing humour and horror, and realistic action and allegory, the film defies expectations, requiring both a leap of faith and open-mindedness from its audience.

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“Little Joe” Review

little joe posterLittle Joe [2019] – ★1/2

Little Joe is a British/Austrian/German-produced film that was selected to compete at the Cannes Film Festival 2019. In this story, Alice Woodard (Emily Beecham) works at a special laboratory that produces genetically-modified flowers for the public market. Alice and her team have managed to produce one type of a plant that requires much attention from their owners, but, in return, is alleged to “make them happy”. The story takes a disturbing turn when Alice takes one of those new plants (flowers) home, gifts it to her son Joe, and begins to worry that the pollen that the new flower produces may be infecting people in a sinister way. Probably. If that sounds a bit random and confusing, this is because it is, and the film never makes anything in this story compelling or clearer. Though, at first, the idea behind Little Joe sounds intriguing and the memorable production design does leave an impression, overall, Little Joe is nothing more than a preposterous, excruciatingly dull and badly-acted picture. Continue reading ““Little Joe” Review”

“Antiviral” Review

anti viral poster

Antiviral [2012] ★★★★

In 2012, a science-fiction film titled Antiviral hit both the Cannes Film Festival and the Toronto Film Festival, and what everybody talked about was that this film is from David Cronenberg’s son – Brandon Cronenberg. People started to look for similarities between Antiviral and David Cronenberg’s films and trademarks, and they found plenty of those. One of the points of this review is that Antiviral is an impressive film debut from Brandon Cronenberg, irrespective of his link to his famous father. That film and that director should be recognised in their own right. Antiviral is not a perfect film, but it has many interesting ideas and a good execution. It also has a feel different from David Cronenberg’s filmography. In Antiviral, Syd March (Caleb Landry Jones) is an employee of Lucas Clinic, a place where the dream of obsessed fans to be closer to their celebrities may be realised by injecting them with a live virus from one of the sick big celebrities. This way, customers will experience a one-of-a-kind union with their idols. One such celebrity which has a link to the clinic is beautiful Hannah Geist (Sarah Gadon (Indignation)(2016)). When Hannah falls ill after a trip to China, Syd flouts company regulations and becomes a host to her virus, not even realising that Hannah is on the brink of death. 

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The Time Travel Blogathon: Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

Edge of TomorrowSilver Screenings and Wide Screen World are co-hosting the Time Travel Blogathon, and my contribution is the review of Edge of Tomorrow, a fantastic science-fiction film directed by Doug Liman, and starring Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton and Brendan Gleeson. Relying on the now fabled “Groundhog Day” concept, Edge of Tomorrow is about a Major (Cruise) who is doomed to relive one particular day of the invasion battle with aliens until he is forced to find a solution to the infinite time loop and save the humankind from the destructive alien force. 

Edge of Tomorrow [2014] – ★★★★1/2

The empires of the future will be empires of the mind (Winston Churchill).

What enables the wise sovereign and the good general to strike and conquer, and achieve things beyond the reach of ordinary men, is foreknowledge” (Sun Tzu, The Art of War).  

Edge of Tomorrow is based on a 2004 Japanese novel All You Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. In near future, as Earth is being invaded by aliens, William Cage (Cruise), a Major with no combat experience, is ordered to go to fight the enemy as part of a landing operation in France. Cage is killed during the battle, but, surprisingly, finds himself again alive and well back on the day before the battle. The time loop then repeats itself, and every time Cage is killed, he again starts the day of the battle anew. Trying to get to the bottom of the situation, Cage makes an acquaintance with a Special Forces warrior Rita Vrataski or the Angel of Verdun (Blunt). Together they try to piece together the time conundrum and devise a method to defeat the enemy. As a time-travel film, Edge of Tomorrow is simply great, and it is fascinating to watch Cage waking up each day with the hope to make that particular day the one where he will be able to vanquish the aliens.  

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“Downsizing” Review

Downsizing-International-Poster-2Downsizing [2017] – ★★★

Alexander Payne’s Downsizing has the recipe to become one of a kind film – thought-provoking, funny and engaging. In the film, Paul and Audrey Safranek (Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig) are a couple who decide to undergo a revolutionary “downsizing” procedure to become four inches’ tall people and, from then on, not only instant millionaires, but also the ones contributing to making environment better by reducing their carbon footprint. This fascinating concept and such stars as Matt Damon, Christoph Waltz and Kristen Wiig all promise a cerebral, astute social satire. What Downsizing ends up being? A disappointment. Strangely deviating from its own fascinating concept of small people, the second half of the film shouts bewildering environmental and political messages befitting more a climate or migration documentary, rather than a quality comedy/science-fiction film.

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“Marjorie Prime” Review

MV5BMzU2NDI1NTEwNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjEwNTIwMzI@._V1_Marjorie Prime [2017] – ★★1/2

Based on an acclaimed play by Jordan Harrison Marjorie Prime, this film of the same name is a science-fiction/drama film directed by Michael Almereyda (Experimenter (2015)) and starring Lois Smith, Jon Hamm, Geena Davis and Tim Robbins. It tells of a woman in her 80s, Marjorie, who spends her time with a programme which simulates the younger version of her late husband, Walter. Marjorie’s immediate family becomes at first concerned about her close interactions with such a true-to-life replica of Marjorie’s late husband, but they all soon too succumb to the charms of the new technology. Despite the fascinating premise of the film, and a wide range of thought-provoking questions it raises, the film fails to live up to the high expectations. This is probably the instance where material is best to be enjoyed as a play only, because, as a film, it is both dragging and far from being compelling.

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“Blade Runner 2049” Review

jWlXk4eBlade Runner 2049 [2017] – ★★★★

**SPOILER ALERT**

Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049 is already gaining a reputation of being a film which breaks new grounds in terms of creating visual splendour on screen, and its plot is a mix of cerebral reflections, unexpected turns of events and low-key, but effective action. Faithful to the world of the original film of 1982, Blade Runner 2049 is one of a kind film, even if it does contain a rather confused mixture of ideas. In this story, it has already been thirty years since Deckard’s adventures in Blade Runner (1982), and now planet Earth is even more depleted of its natural resources. The use of replicants on Earth increased, and now K (Gosling), a replicant police officer, is on the hunt “to retire” the older versions of replicants. However, one of his routine calls “to retire” has yielded important clues which may endanger the calm societal state whereby replicants and humans coexist relatively orderly. K’s adventure then becomes the one which involves the search for truth, and, like the original film, the preoccupation here is the issue of identity and the correct identification of false and true memories.

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“Blade Runner” Review

s-l1000Blade Runner [1982] – ★★★★1/2

“A humanoid robot is like any other machine; it can fluctuate between being a benefit and a hazard very rapidly. As a benefit, it’s not our problem” (Rick Deckard in Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?)

Since its release in 1982, Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner has achieved a classic cult status, and is deemed by many to be the most influential science-fiction film ever made, just behind 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). It is loosely based on a book by Philip K. Dick and stars Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young and Edward James Olmos. In the film, set in some distant future, Rick Deckard (Ford), an officer at the special police “Blade-Runner” unit is on the mission to hunt down and “retire” (kill) a number of replicants (or androids) who escaped newly-colonised Mars and now wreak havoc on Earth. The film’s superior attention to detail is undeniable; its visuals are original and mind-blowing; and its “minimalist”, “slow-burning” narrative is also admirable, with Ford and Hauer commanding the screen. However, comparing the film to its original source material – the book by Philip K. Dick, Blade Runner falls short of being a philosophical, character-focused and narratively-engaging film it aspires to be.

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“The Discovery” Review

The Discovery PosterThe Discovery [2017] – ★★★1/2

The Discovery is a film which had its first premiere at the Sundance Film Festival 2017, but, arguably, it deserves more attention than it eventually got. Here, Will (Jason Segel) and Isla (Rooney Mara) meet in the strangest of times. It has been scientifically proven that the afterlife does exist, and this fact alone spiralled millions of suicides around the world, with people almost desperate to “get to the other side”. The scientist Thomas Harbor (Robert Redford) is behind the new discovery, and he has another trick up his sleeve: he thinks he can also show what the afterlife looks like before people take their lives. After all, who would not want to look at a holiday brochure before committing to their holiday destination? Although the film’s narrative slops and the chemistry between Segel and Mara is lukewarm, the film is atmospheric, raises some fascinating issues, and has a strong ending.

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“Déjà-vu” Review

deja_vuDéjà-vu [2006] – ★★★★

“What if you had to tell someone the most important thing in the world, but you knew they’d never believe you?” (Doug Carlin)

In 2006, Tony Scott directed a time-travel thriller Déjà-vu, starring Denzel Washington and Val Kilmer, presenting a story of A.T.F. agent Doug Carlin who starts to investigate the bombing of a ferry in New Orleans, but ends up embarking on a romantic time-travel mission to save the lives of many. Coming from film director known for True Romance (1993) and Enemy of the State (1998), Déjà-vu plays all its cards right, and, despite perhaps failing to convince the audience of the plot’s technological advances, the film still feels very “complete”, fun to watch and provides just the right amount of suspense to keep one intrigued until the very end. Continue reading ““Déjà-vu” Review”

“The Lobster” Review

21733567276_a302f13959_oThe Lobster [2015] – ★★★★1/2

This is just to show how easy life is when there is two of something rather than one”, says the Hotel Manager in The Lobster, as one of the protagonist’s hands is restrained using a small lock. This is pretty much what this film is all about: a near-future society obsessed with couples, viewing them as the normality, as opposed to single people who are viewed as unproductive and undesirable. In that way, the film shows David (Colin Farrell), a newly single person who is transferred to the Hotel, a place where single people have just 45 days to find a suitable mate, and, if they fail – they would be transformed into animals of their choice.

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“Melancholia” Review

Melancholia [2011] – ★★★★★

Clearly influenced by the films of Andrei Tarkovsky, Melancholia is a great film, which is certain to awaken something in the viewer, be it some inexplicable feelings of unease or awe. However, given that this film is directed by no other than Lars Von Trier (a Danish director known for his controversial films, see Antichrist (2009)) and who once said that “a film should be like a rock in the shoe“, nothing less is expected.

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