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Month: June 2020

Movie Review: ST. AGATHA

Darren Lynn Bousman directed the last of the even slightly defensible Saw films. He directed Repo! The Genetic Opera, among the last competently made, critically dismissed but sincerely defended cult films to be released. 1. He directed Abbatoir, a film that is almost impossibly disappointing considering its premise.2 He is the director of the eventually forthcoming Spiral, the Saw revival that unexpectedly stars and is spearheaded by Chris Rock. He’s worked steadily for fifteen years, and depending on how you feel about Repo!, has made at most one really good film in that time3. READ MORE

Movie Review: MAY THE DEVIL TAKE YOU

Good horror movies understand and respect gravity. Okay, this isn’t a hard and fast rule by which to judge all horror films, I’m sure there are some great ones that don’t have any respect for gravity. But watching May the Devil Take You brought this to mind.

By gravity I don’t mean “dignity or sobriety of bearing,” which is somehow the 1a definition on merriam-webster.com. I mean weight and “a fundamental physical force that is responsible for interactions which occur because of mass between particles,” the 2 and 3a definitions, respectively. The fact that certain things are heavy. Human bodies, for instance. If one should begin to levitate due to supernatural forces, it should still look like gravity has some influence over it, not like it’s paper on the wind. READ MORE

Movie Review: AURORA

Aurora is a particular kind of letdown. Its excellent premise and relevancy to a specific national event means it isn’t something you can just run back and do-over in a couple of years to get it right. If a future Filipino director wants to try his or her hand at this, it might have to be one from their next generation of filmmakers.

About that premise: Aurora is the name of the film and of a wrecked ship that sits ominously off the coast for most of the film. Based on the Doña Paz disaster–the deadliest peacetime maritime accident in history, and by a considerable margin–the Aurora‘s wreck causes considerable death and suffering. More than you might initially suspect, in fact, unless you’re like me and you’re already fairly familiar with the Doña Paz and how it managed such a heavy death toll. In that case the film’s ultimate “revelation” won’t be much of a revelation at all. And I say that as a man living half a world away. I imagine for Filipino audiences it must have been even less surprising. READ MORE

Movie Review: BULLET HEAD

Sometimes your creative eyes are bigger than your imagination’s stomach. Sometimes your attempt to pack multiple interesting ideas into one story results in you failing to fully develop any single idea into the best story it can be. That’s largely how I feel about Bullet Head, a watch made worthwhile due to its cast and its promise, but that I can’t really recommend because it seems to leave so much on the table.

The general premise is strong: three cons pull a heist that results in them getting locked in a building with a super-vicious, desperate dog, a poor mastiff abused and trained to kill. As “trapped with the monster” setups go, it’s different enough to draw you in. Unfortunately, it doesn’t prove quite as intense as you’d think. READ MORE

Movie Review: THE VAST OF NIGHT

Knowing the little bit I do about the budget and constraints of The Vast of Night, and then seeing what appears on the screen, it’s a little difficult to properly assess the movie, because it does so very much with that apparently limited budget that it doesn’t feel like it warrants a pass for some of its missteps.

But let’s lead with the positive: this movie looks great to me. I’m not exactly a technical film genius; I know that in Chris Stuckmann’s review, he notes that the color-grading in some scenes isn’t what it could be. That sort of thing largely escapes me, so I’d have to take the word of people with a better eye for it. What doesn’t escape me is when a film looks amateurish to one degree or another. The Vast of Night doesn’t look like amateur-hour at all. I wish I could’ve seen it in a theater. I plan to rewatch with my VR headset in the near future, in Amazon’s theater-replicating environment. READ MORE