Us (dir. Jordan Peele, 2019) – A family’s beach vacation turns into a living nightmare as they come to face their violent doppelgängers.
Following Get Out, Jordan Peele presents another fiercely intelligent and thoughtful sophomore work, though its ambitious narrative fails to bear the weight of scrutiny.
Review (Warning: Spoilers)
Once upon a time, there lived a happy family, each with suffering shadows whom they knew nothing about. Then came the day when their doppelgängers broke their silence and rose above ground, demanding to take their places.
As a home invasion thriller, Jordan Peele’s sophomore horror effort Us succeeds as an original masterwork of sustained tension. The horrifying premise puts an original spin on the home invasion trope, revealing The Strangers to be more than familiar faces.
A brilliant cast make the uncanny duplicates grotesque through subtle actions and crooked smiles. Michael Abels’ score with its chilling vocalisations work well to go along. But amongst its many technical accomplishments, what genuinely stirs interest is the meaning that Us urges its audience to infer.
Continue reading Review: Us (2019)
Durante la tormenta / Mirage (dir. Oriol Paulo, 2019) – Two storms connect a woman’s murder and a child’s vanishing, 25 years apart.
Director Oriol Paulo has produced yet another compelling genre film that delivers in suspense and heart, despite predictable turns.
25 years ago, during a 72-hour storm, young Nico (Julio Bohigas-Couto) was killed in a car accident after witnessing a murder. Present day sees another storm occur, during which Vera (Adriana Ugarte) find a way to reach Nico before his death. She prevents his death with a warning, only to be swept up in the butterfly effect of the altered events.
Something a small as the flutter of a butterfly’s wing can cause a typhoon halfway around the world, so claims the Chaos Theory that rings true for Vera. Her perfect life falls apart when she learns that her child Gloria was never born, and that she is no longer who she believed herself to be.
Continue reading Review: Mirage / Durante la tormenta (2019)
The Photographer of Mauthausen / El fotógrafo de Mauthausen (dir. Mar Targarona, 2019) – Francesc Boix, a Spaniard inmate in the Austrian concentration camp, tries to save the photographic evidence of the horrors committed within.
Boix’s subtle rebellion against the Nazi death camps proves one of the most important events in history, and The Photographer of Mauthausen is necessary telling of these less known heroics.
The Mauthausen Concentration Camp was one of Nazi Germany’s most brutal concentration camps, meant mostly for the Reich’s political prisoners. Over 8,000 Spaniards were interned at the camp, of which more than half lost their lives to the Nazis’ atrocious abuse and murders. These war crimes might have gone unpunished, if not for the courage of Francesc Boix (played by Mario Casas).
The warden’s right-hand man and reluctant photographer gained privileges that few had. But even at Boix’s young age, none of that was important to him. Instead, he plotted a rebellion and risked his life, all to hide the evidence that the Nazis wished to destroy. The Photographer of Mauthausen is a long-due homage to the bravery of Boix and the other Spaniard heroes, who succeeded in saving over 3,000 photographs from destruction.
Continue reading Review: The Photographer of Mauthausen (2019)
The Dirt (dir. Jeff Tremaine, 2019) – Mötley Crüe dishes the dirt on how they came to be one of the most notorious rock ‘n roll groups in history.
Unapologetically wild, The Dirt delivers a disappointingly shallow play-by-play of Mötley Crüe’s chaotic frivolity.
The Dirt is in every way an affront to modern society, where strong women reign and amoral heroes are often frowned upon. It is thus unsurprising for vitriol to befall the Crüe stories of sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll, back in an era long gone. Much of the criticism is sadly rightful, this coming from a Crüehead who has been eager for the film.
Faithfulness is far from its fatal flaw, as one may expect. Accuracy is of little importance in a biopic, and even if it is, the insane stories are mostly true. Any readers of The Heroin Diaries and the titular biography would know that The Dirt is as accurate as the band’s drug-addled memories allow.
Continue reading Review: The Dirt (2019)
Triple Frontier (dir. J.C. Chandor, 2019) – Former Special Forces soldiers plan to rob a known cartel boss, but the mission soon spirals out of control.
Focusing more on the thrills of the heist than its motivations, the thematic ideas of Triple Frontier sadly never come into fruition.
Triple Frontier opens with retired captain William ‘Ironhead’ Miller (Charlie Hunnam) standing before a hall of young soldiers, freshfaced as he had once been. He recounts his moment of post-traumatic stress induced violence in a grocery store, painfully aware of how war has changed him.
The rest of his ex-military crew has not adjusted well to civilian life either. Post-war, Tom ‘Redfly’ Davis (Ben Affleck) ends up a divorced, absent father with an estranged teen daughter. Former pilot Francisco ‘Catfish’ Morales (Pedro Pascal) has fallen into shady company, revoked of his license to fly while under investigation.
Then, we have Santiago ‘Pope’ Garcia (Oscar Isaac), who appears to have it all together. In fact, it is as though the man is ready-made for the battlefield. The now-private military advisor is the one with the big plans, gathering his A-Team to raid the home of a kingpin under the pretense of a government-backed mission.
Continue reading Review: Triple Frontier (2019)
Glass (dir. M. Night Shyamalan, 2019) – Vigilante David Dunn tracks down the mentally afflicted Kevin Wendell Crumb in an attempt to stop his next murder.
The grounded slow-burn of Unbreakable meets Split‘s psychological terror in Glass, a brilliant culmination of M Night Shyamalan’s highly inventive trilogy.
In its concluding minutes, Split introduced M. Night Shyamalan’s most ambitious twist in his long-running career. His latest antagonist Kevin/The Beast (James McAvoy) is revealed to be sharing a cinematic home with David Dunn (Bruce Willis), the indestructible protagonist of his brilliant early film Unbreakable.
At first glance, the two disparate characters in the same universe seems an outlandish idea, which makes Glass a particularly gutsy sequel. And while Unbreakable earned (deserving) plaudits following its lukewarm early days, the bold move also assumed mainstream interest in a cult classic that is by now close to two decades old.
But M. Night Shyamalan’s huge bet pays off, especially when he raises the stakes by going in unexpected directions. Against expectations, the first meeting of the two characters never gets to end in a hero versus villain showdown, when both quickly end up under lock and key.
Continue reading Review: Glass (2019)