Review: Sausage Party (2016)

Sausage Party (dir. Greg Tiernan & Conrad Vernon, 2016) – Some food products are about to learn the truth about their purpose.

Verdict

From the guys behind This is the End comes a predictably raunchy and often objectionable comedy, amusing for what it is.

3/5

Review

After eight years in gestation, the passion project of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg is finally born. Enter Pixar’s defective cousin Sausage Party, which will leave unsuspecting audiences audibly aghast and possibly outraged.

Somehow managing to land a willing investor, this sausage-starring rated animation turns out as raunchy and juvenile as what you would expect from Apatow’s Frat Pack. For the lot who knew what they were getting into, this kooky project works better than it should.

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Review: Lucid Dream / Lusideu deulim (2017)

Lucid Dream (dir. Kim Joon-sung, 2017) – After the abduction of his son, Dae-ho attempts lucid dreaming, an experimental psychiatric therapy that enables patients to access lost memories.

Verdict

Better enjoyed as a dramatic thriller than science fiction, Lucid Dream owes more to its excellent cast than the jerry-built plotting.

3/5

Review

When an elusive memory is all you have to find your missing child, what wouldn’t you give to relive it for a glimpse of a clue? That is what drives Dae-ho (Soo Go) to revisit the day of his son’s abduction over and over again. Assisted by neurologist So-hyun (Kang Hye-jeong), he repeatedly reconstructs the scene in hopes of uncovering forgotten details, even if the experimental therapy comes at a cost.

Entering the dream world is nothing new but a rehashed concept, which The Cell and Inception have put forth on a grander scale. Lucid Dream sets itself up for inevitable comparisons to its spiritual predecessors, but makes a lesser mark in terms of stunning visuals or layered storytelling.

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Review: Shimmer Lake (2017)

Shimmer Lake (dir. Oren Uziel, 2017) – Local sheriff Zeke Sikes investigates a bank heist gone wrong, where a trio of small town criminals that includes his own brother appears to have skipped town.

Verdict

A gratifying black comedy that comes up short on the characters front.

3/5

Review

Touted as an inventive crime thriller told in reverse, Shimmer Lake may risk misleading hopes for a complex mystery noir à la Memento. But the Netflix original could be better off finding a kin in pulp magazines. Expectations are defied in other ways, where the cast of comedians holds off laugh-out-loud humour, in exchange for subtle black comedy.

The genre works well for this severe story that unfolds in a gritty small town. Andy Sikes (Rainn Wilson) is the man of the hour, on the run after a bank heist gone wrong. Leaving a trail of dead bodies behind, the local sheriff and his very own brother Zeke (Benjamin Walker) has taken the lead in the manhunt.

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Review: The Similars / Los Parecidos (2015)

The Similars / Los Parecidos (dir. Isaac Ezban, 2015) – While waiting out a thunderstorm at a bus station, eight strangers soon experience a bizarre collective phenomenon.

Verdict

A perturbing puzzle meets absurdist comedy in The Similars, a brilliantly crafted and highly entertaining homage to vintage sci-fi.

4/5

Review

For anyone who has ever loved The Twilight ZoneThe Similars may be a familiar watch. Spiritual echoes of beloved episodes such as Mirror Image resound in the mystery thriller, which then veers off the beaten path and narrowly avoids allegations of total mimicry.

With his inventive follow-up to The Incident (El Incidente), director Isaac Ezban is quickly proving himself a true maestro of small-scale, high-concept science fiction. His narrative style is distinct, his vintage horror influences accentuated by eerie synth strings in the backdrop.

Taking us back to 1968, his latest venture spotlights eight strangers, stranded at a bus station during a storm. Ulises (Gustavo Sanchez Parra) staggers in, anxious to get to Mexico City for his wife’s childbirth. When stationmaster Martin (Fernando Becerri) dismisses his concerns, Ulises turns to a pregnant missus Irene (Cassandra Ciangherotti), who has apparently secured a cab amidst the unrelenting weather.

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Review: The Siege of Jadotville (2016)

The Siege of Jadotville (dir. Richie Smyth, 2016) – In 1961, Irish commandant Pat Quinlan led an army against mercenaries during a peacekeeping mission in the Congo.

Verdict

A riveting true story. The little-known Siege of Jadotville gets a deserving tribute, if lacking in historical context.

4/5

Review

In 1961, 155 Irish soldiers stood their ground on the battlefield against a 3,000-strong Kantangese army, backed by European mercenaries. Following the six-day siege and a month spent as prisoners-of-war, they suffered zero fatalities. If you have never heard of this extraordinary battle, you are not alone.

For decades, The Siege of Jadotville remained unwritten history. None of the young Irishmen were recognised for their military valour. Instead, they were humiliated with the term “Jadotville Jack”. This was invented as a derisive label for their forced surrender, a sensible move that was dismissed as cowardice.

It took 40 long years before the veterans were finally cleared of misconduct. This came nine years too late for Commandant Pat Quinlan, who died in 1997. The tragedy of which makes The Siege of Jadotville an especially powerful story and an essential watch.

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Review: Mercy (2016)

Mercy (dir. Chris Sparling, 2016) – Four estranged brothers return home to visit their dying mother, but are thrust into a fight for survival of their own.

Verdict

Bungled execution takes the spark out of an ambitious film, where potential sadly peters out.

2/5

Review

Netflix original Mercy is a risk-taker. Lavish with twist and turns, the film leaves conventions at the door and provides little clue as to where the plot is heading. Such unpredictability can often make a mystery gripping. Frustratingly, unwieldy execution leaves us with nothing but a thoroughly perplexing enigma.

Things start off slow in the familial affair, where four brothers convene in their old home. Their mother Grace is dying. A visitor shows up with a mysterious bag, urging the family to end her suffering. Speculations lead to an ensuing moral dilemma of euthanasia. But that theory comes to naught as masked men intrude and threaten a restless night ahead.

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