YOF#20 | The Green Inferno

The Green Inferno
Blu Ray via Lovefilm

I have reviewed this film for Fake Geeks. You can check it out here.

In short – it’s subpar. [2]


YOF#19 | Jauja

DVD via Lovefilm

It is the 1880s, and Danish military Captain Gunnar Dinesen (Mortensen) has been sent to Patagonia to oversee an engineering construction. The site is near a dangerous, contested territory inhabited by local tribes. Set to the backdrop of this colonial tension, Gunnar’s 15-year-old daughter Ingeborg (Viilbjørk Malling Agger) elopes with a young officer. Dinesen abandons his work to try and track them down. Walking ensues.

Seriously, for the most part, the spine of the film is made of shots of Mortensen walking into it, stumbling over some rocks, and walking out of scene into the distance. Okay, that’s a little harsh. But it is fair to say that Jauja is a very deliberately paced film. However, there’s no denying that Jauja is beautifully shot. Presented in 4:3 and, at what seems to be, a lower resolution than contemporary features would use, this is a warm, retro-looking and starkly beautiful film.

Apparently, director and co-writer Lisandro Alonso is known for features with minimal dialogue, and Jauja certainly doesn’t buck that trend (though, it has been cited as his most ‘talkative’ film to date). A lot of the storytelling comes from physical acting, as well as how the shot/scene is framed.

Then there’s the final quarter of the film. Frustratingly, I cannot really go into why it’s all so bonkers and surreal. All I will say is, it begins when he starts following the stray dog. The few scenes that make up this part are actually quite good, and a bit more interesting and thought provoking, even if they stretch believability.

Then, there’s the final five minutes. It is even more surreal than the previous 15-20, and I think many will become emotionally uninvested in the end. I think I get where they are going with it, but I’d argue that this is film that doesn’t need another layer to pick apart.

TIme for the score… I’ve noticed a number of sites willing to forgive the over-deliberate pacing and the final few minutes and throw 4s at it. I don’t think I can be quite so generous, when the main feature itself is a bit of a slog to get through in the first place. I think, on a good and generous day, it is a [3].

p.s. Viggo is actually very good in it.

YOF#18 | The Visit: An Alien Encounter

the visit#18
The Visit: An Alien Encounter
DVD via Lovefilm

Around March time, the Fake Geeks team publishes its film of the year lists. As part of the prep for my own contribution, I keep a track of minor/unheralded releases that don’t make it for very long in mainstream cinema. These releases get added to my lovefilm/netflix/amazon prime video lists and, each year, I manage to get through a few.

The Visit: An Alien Encounter is one such release. I’d not hear of it, until I saw it on the official cinema release lists for January, and the only review I could find was a short piece on the Guardian’s website.

Made by Danish documentary maker Michael Madsen (no, not Tarrantino’s mate), this is a piece that investigates what the likely response from Earth would be should aliens arrive. How would governments/the UN react? What would they tell the public? Whose job is it to sort this all out?

I found it to be mildly interesting, if a little dry. A few slow-mo shots, and a decent score help keep things moving along, but it does feel padded – even at less than a 90 minutes run time.

Some of the talking head interviews are better than others and, while none of the opinions or protocols surprising, it is still a interesting film. However, it probably could have been better served as a one-shot 60 minute TV special instead of a more drawn out 80-odd minute feature film. [3]


YOF#17 | Kill the Messenger

Kill the Messenger
Blu-Ray via Lovefilm

**Contains spoilers**


In the mid-1990s, journalist Gary Webb uncovered an alleged connection between the CIA and the importing of crack cocaine to the USA from Nicaragua.

The film tells the story of the initial discovery, the publishing of his exposé, and the fallout thereafter, with Jeremy Renner taking the leading role.

I’d read mixed, but generally positive reviews around the time this came out, but missed it at the cinema for whatever reason. I can now say that my opinion falls pretty much in the mid-range.

Renner is pretty good in the lead role. He’s sympathetic and unflashy; you can buy him as the decent reporter that never really got a big break. The supporting cast is good too, be it from Rosemarie DeWitt playing his wife Susan, Mary ELizabeth Winstead as his editor Anna, and Oliver Platt as her boss Jerry,  to the numerous walk-ons from the likes of Ray Liotta, Michael Sheen, Richard Schiff, Robert Patrick, Andy Garcia and Michael K. Williams.

The first third is really good. This is the act that deals with the initial leak, and the investigation into the alleged crimes. The middle third is solid – a mix of light conspiracy, with some isolationism thrown in (Webb’s colleagues try to polite distance themselves from the story). Unfortunately, the final third is a let down (despite a great cameo from Liotta). While it is pretty criminal how Webb is shunned and hounded out, it doesn’t make for the most compelling conclusion. Admittedly, this is a real story that is being told, and you can’t change the truth to suit yourselves (unlike the CIA in this!).

Ultimately, Kill the Messenger starts out as a pulsating thriller and ends as a merely good, saddening and cautionary tale on the dangers of contemporary journalism. [3.5]

YOF#10-16 | Cape Fear, Cape Fear, The VVitch, High-Rise, Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, 10 Cloverfield Lane, Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice

Let’s bring this thing up to date with some quick takes.

Cape Fear 62#10
Cape Fear (1962)

An absolute belter of a film. Robert Mitchum is great as Max Cady, and everyone else is at least ‘good’. The pacing is near spot on, and the story is mostly believable. Of the two versions, this is my favourite. [4.5]

Cape Fear 91#11
Cape Fear (1991)

A solid remake that gets better in its final third. The only things I think Scorsese’s remake does better is the second half of the final act on the boat, and Robert DeNiro is marginally better in the antagonist role (though, that’s like comparing something that’s excellent to something that’s better good).

Unfortunately, the film feels quite bloated. It’s 20 minutes longer for seemingly no reason, and the first half of the films has all sorts of pacing issues. Also, while Nick Nolte tries, he not in the Gregory Peck’s league.

There were a couple of needless changes too including having Nolte’s Bowden having a strained relationship with his wife. Also, while Juliette Lewis is good as daughter Danielle, her character makes some frankly bizarre choices. [3.5]

the vvitch#12
The VVitch

The debut film from Robert Eggers shows a lot of potential, even if it doesn’t live up to the lofty standards some published reviews have it at.

The first third is almost crushingly slow. It’s only a 93 minute film, but it feels two hours plus simply because of how sedate everything moves.

It’s nice that something that (partially) falls into the horror genre doesn’t rely on jump scares (there is a grand total of one, and it is quite well done/almost humorous). Tension is built slowly over the course of the film.

The cast are fine, the script is not bad (some will struggle with the 17th century northern English accent, though I found it mostly okay – the odd mumble aside).

It’s absolutely beautifully shot. Seriously, the framing is brilliant at times.

I don’t really need to see it again, but I can appreciate it for what it is. Eggers will be a film maker to watch down the line. [3]

high rise#13

My friend Mike summarised it well by calling it ‘an admirable failure’. The ideas behind it all are nice (the floors of the high-rise represent tiers of society, the plot loosely/simply translates to the top floor keeping the lower under foot by pitching them against each other).

The execution isn’t great, despite Tom Hiddleston, Sienna Miller, Luke Evans and James Purefoy being particularly good/entertaining. [3]

Mr Magorium’s Wonder Emporium

A wonderful family film; the spiritual successor to Willy Wonka. [4]

10 Cloverfield Lane

A really good, claustrophobic thriller with a silly last ten minutes that stop this from being great. John Goodman is particularly excellent. I’m giving this a [4], but its more like a [4.5] with a [2.5] ending.

Batman v superman#16
Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice

Oh boy. Here’s what I posted on Facebook about it:

  • It looked pretty (especially in IMAX 3D)
  • Affleck, Gadot and Irons are good
  • Eisenberg is fine, but the character really should have been called something different (it was also nonsensically written – for a genius he’s pretty stupid)
  • Cavill is average, though it’s not like he’s given any character development
  • Amy Adams is surprisingly *really* bland
  • Everyone else is forgettable.
  • Snyder has tried to cram in too much and, in doing so, leaves the plot feeling very underdeveloped
  • Doomsday is naff – like the Abomination from the Hulk franchise, with the face of an Uruk-hai. Except more rubbish.
  • The Bat/Supe face off is fine, and looks nice.
  • There are creative decisions that are stupid too, but I won’t go into detail as it would be too spoilery.

Or, to put it another way – at least it’s not as bad as Terminator: Genysis. As the former lurks around a [1.5] to [2] mark, a fair score for this seems like [2.5].