Velvet Buzzsaw (dir. Dan Gilroy, 2019) – Art is dangerous, more so for those who sell it for greed.
Effective satire elevates the potentially campy slasher Velvet Buzzsaw to an incisive, layered work of art.
For a horror film, Velvet Buzzsaw comes off much more introspective than its company. Its effectively satirical screenplay introduces the obnoxious rulers of its galleries in broad strokes, sharply critiquing the many artists and proprietors who value art solely for money.
There is Morf Vandewalt (Jake Gyllenhaal) in the sneakers of the art critic, who believes that a bad review is better than sinking into the great glut of anonymity. Not only does he compromise in ethics by accepting favours. His reviews spit pure vitriol, as one soon hears in voices that manifest from his own guilt.
Continue reading Review: Velvet Buzzsaw (2019)
Polar (dir. Jonas Åkerlund, 2019) – Hitman Duncan Vizla is about to go into retirement, but his employer has no plans of letting him settle down in peace.
Emotionally distant and distractingly explicit, Polar may leave one feeling ice cold following the heat of the action.
Former musician Jonas Åkerlund has long since established himself as a big name in the making of explicit music videos. Known for his unbridled depiction of sex, drugs, and violence, the man was responsible for the party visuals behind Rammstein’s Pussy, The Prodigy’s Smack My Bitch Up, and other aptly named greatest hits.
Who then would expect anything more from him than a no holds barred show of exploitative hyper-violence and abundant butt close-ups? It is indeed no surprise to see Polar serve up another one of his trademark cocktails, where the hard-R trinity shows up in gratuitous excess.
Continue reading Review: Polar (2019)
Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (dir. David Slade, 2018) – A young programmer attempts to adapt a fantasy novel into a choose-your-own-adventure video game, but loses control over the choices in his own life.
Bearing the hallmarks of a typical Black Mirror episode, Bandersnatch pulls us into Charlie Brooker’s deeply engaging mind game that yet again flaunts his creative brilliance and dark tendencies.
Named after the creature of the whimsical Wonderland tale, Bandersnatch is itself a monster of a wildly imaginative story. Black Mirror’s first interactive episode has us live and re-live the multiple lives of Stefan Butler (Fionn Whitehead), whose obsessive creation of his choose-your-own-adventure game soon starts to warp his own reality.
“I feel like I’m not guiding [my decisions],” he tries to explain his building disorientation. “Someone else is.”
And every time we choose whether to have him destroy a computer or hit a desk, he looks down at his own hands fearfully as if they do not belong to him. His conviction that he is being controlled brings about a tinge of guilt – that we may just be responsible for recklessly manipulating the fate of a sentient digital being (see: USS Callister, Hang the DJ).
Continue reading Review: Black Mirror – Bandersnatch (2018)
2018 would be incomplete without a look back on some of the most stellar movies of the year. Blessed be the filmmakers who have produced something brilliant for everyone, be it for the good ol’ cinema or Netflix, the wondrously odd or the charmingly conventional.
At the time of writing, I have not had the pleasure of seeing Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, which I have a feeling that I would enjoy tremendously. Regardless, here goes a quick countdown of what I have seen and liked.
10. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (dir. The Coen Brothers)
Anthologies are often collections of hits and misses, but not The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. The Coen Brothers deftly binds the six distinct chapters on the western front with the consistency of their signature dark humour, topped with a familiar dose of cynicism.
As the pages turn, light absurdity shifts into bleak tragedy and sudden violence, all underscored by Carter Burwell’s stirring score. In what would certainly dismay the optimistic crowd, their tar-tinted lens reveals more about human nature than we wish to admit, drawing in the ones who care to know.
Continue reading Favourite Movies of 2018
Apostle (dir. Gareth Evans, 2018) – Thomas Richardson travels to a remote island to rescue his sister from a religious cult, demanding a ransom for her safe return.
Ostensibly to do with the supernatural in its grim mythology, Apostle concerns itself more with the devious nature of Man in their acts.
Writer-director Gareth Evans may be best known for his choreography-driven craft in The Raid and Merantau. But his latest venture is an altogether different beast. Abandoning the high-octane action that defined Evans’ early career, Apostle contrastingly keeps its pace steady with patience, and prowls with quiet intensity.
Following a brief exploration in anthology V/H/S 2 (‘Safe Haven’), Evans’ first true step into horror cinema marks a deeper foray into the subject of pagan cults. The suspenseful genre feature comes in at a little over two hours. Not a second feels extraneous, continually building a palpable sense of dread.
Continue reading Review: Apostle (2018)
How It Ends (dir. David M. Rosenthal, 2018) – After a mysterious event sends the world into chaos, two men set out on a desperate drive to find their missing family.
How It Ends itself is as much of a disappointment as how it actually ends.
An unsettling disruption cuts short a call between Will (Theo James) and his pregnant fiancé Sam (Kat Graham). Flights are soon cancelled, cell services down, and the power, out. As an apocalyptic event seems to edge closer, Sam’s father and ex-marine Tom (Forest Whitaker) wastes no time and sets out on a perilous drive with Will towards Seattle, where Sam was last seen.
The rescuers are on poor terms. But they soon reconcile in favour of survival, while coming to face the uncertainty of the unknown disaster ahead. Above all, they embattle the dangerous desperation of humanity, when ass hysteria quickly elevate thefts to murders.
In this, How It Ends steps into familiar territory, but does little more than its genre neighbours have done before. Competent visual effects and outstanding cinematography keep it from being labelled a b-grade disaster movie, though they remain inadequate to make any lasting impact.
Continue reading Review: How It Ends (2018)