“The Eyes of My Mother” Review

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“The Eyes of My Mother” is a movie that I’ve been excited to see for a long time. It’s funny to say that mainly because I knew very little about it besides what the poster told me, but I love horror and the generally positive reception from critics got me excited.

The story follows young Francisca (Olivia Bond) as she lives in a secluded farmhouse with her parents. Her mother, (Diana Agostini) formerly a surgeon, teaches Francisca about human anatomy and to be unfazed by death. One day the family undergoes a traumatic event after a stranger visits. A visit that leaves Francisca scarred, and as she grows older, act out in dark ways.

Now finally on the Netflix and finally watched it does it live up to the hype that I’ve given it? Not really.

The set-up for “The Eyes of My Mother” is promising. Within the first act the film smacks you with you with unsettling imagery and disturbing subject matter. With the stark black and white look adding an extra layer to the uncomfortableness.

However “The Eyes of My Mother” suffers from an identity crisis. It wants to be both a shocking horrific film and a meaningful one with it’s heavy themes of isolation, family and loneliness but the film can’t make up it’s mind in which one it wants to be. After the first act the plot begins to feel muddled and not well-thought out.

It’s a shame that the film fails in its writing because visually the film is gorgeous, utilizing long shots and deep shadows. The look of “The Eyes of My Mother”  just oozes dread. The lack of a soundtrack also helps with the tension with scenes being quiet to the point of uncomfortableness.

“The Eyes of My Mother” screams at you like it has something important to say but it doesn’t feel committed to its own message. While there’s some morbid enjoyment to be had, the film will escape your memory by week’s end.

2016 Movies You Have To See

So the year is halfway over, what better way than to celebrate by sharing movies that I believe that you should go and see right now. These are presented in no particular order.

Green Room
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After witness a murder, a punk rock band must try and survive the night as they are hunted down by a group of sadistic skinheads. Jeremy Saulner directs this thriller and he pulls no punches. Green Room is a brutally violent and uncomfortably tense film that will leave you shocked. Anton Yelchin, who tragically passed away earlier this week, gives a stand-out performance as well as Patrick Stewart who plays the villain. Green Room is highly recommended.

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
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The Lonely Island have already proved themselves to by funny people with hit songs such as Dick In A Box and I’m On A Boat, but Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping has solidified their status as comedic geniuses. The mockumentary follows former boy band member Conner4Real as he releases his second album. When the album becomes a flop, Conner does everything in his power to remain popular. Popstar does a tremendous job of lampooning music stars of today and despite how ridiculous some of the comedy gets, stays grounded enough so you can actually care for Conner while still laughing at his insane behavior. Topped off with an hilarious soundtrack, the film is one of the year’s best comedies and will have you laughing from beginning to end.

The Lobster
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The Lobster is one of the most surreal films released this year. The plot follows David as he goes to a hotel designed for single people to meet and fall in love. If he fails to meet someone by 45 days he’ll be turned into an animal, in his case a lobster. While the deadpan humor of the film is hilarious, The Lobster is also a surprisingly cruel and depressing film offering a bleak commentary on love and relationships today that is definitely thought-provoking. Smartly written and gorgeously shot, The Lobster is a strange little film that will stick with you long after the credits roll.

Sing Street

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It’s rare to find a film that can touch you on a personal level the way Sing Street does. In 1985 Ireland, Conner decides to start a band with classmates of his in order to impress this mysterious new girl. Sing Street is perfect in almost every sense. It’s funny, heartfelt, genuine and will leave you with a big smile on your face. Along with having catchy soundtrack mixed with 80s’ classics and original music, Sing Street is a movie that you owe to yourself to go see.

“The Force Awakens” Blu-Ray Review

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Let’s talk about “The Force Awakens” Blu-ray, because this is my blog and I can talk about what I want.

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is the seventh installment in the “Star Wars” franchise and needless to say, the movie was incredible. Capturing the magic of what made the original trilogy so loved while introducing the series to a new generation, J.J Abrams surpassed the pretty high expectations that the film had.

Now that the film is out on Blu-ray for you to watch over and over again, the question is now is that is this Blu-ray worth the price. The answer is yes.

I could go on about how beautiful the film looks like on Blu-ray (which it does) but that isn’t the most exciting part. The best part about this release are the plethora of bonus features that come with it.

First up there’s the documentary “Secrets of The Force Awakens: A Cinematic Journey” that gives an in-depth look at the making of the film from when Disney bought Lucasfilms all the way up to the last day of production. This documentary is worth the price of the Blu-ray alone as we get insightful reviews from cast and crew as what it was like working on “Star Wars” and how the franchise inspired them.

Along with that we get several mini features that covered the cast getting together for the first table read, creature designs, how they designed BB-8, and even one that details how composer John Williams went about writing the score for the film. Despite these ones being short on length they’re heavy with content and add more insight to how the film came to be.

And lastly we have deleted scenes, while not as many as previous “Star Wars” movies had, they’re still interesting to watch and it’s cool to see the bits that didn’t make into the movie. A highlight would be the one where we see Kylo Ren explore the Millennium Falcon.

The bonus features though are not without their shortcomings. One notable presence lacking in them is the creator of the series George Lucas. It would have been nice to see Lucas give his thoughts on the new installment along with his original idea for “Episode VII” were. Also the bonus features have little to no reference to the prequel trilogy. While they are not well-received as the original trilogy, it would be surprising if they had no influence at all on this new film.

Despite these minor setbacks, this Blu-ray is a fantastic release and one any “Star Wars” or even movie fan should pick up.

Side note: The discs have artwork on them and that’s amazing. I miss days when the discs for DVDs or Blu-rays had actual images on them instead of just the title of the film.

Man Against God: “Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice” Review

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I would be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to seeing a Batman Vs. Superman movie. The idea of seeing two classic superheroes duke it out on the big screen is something I thought would never happen in my lifetime. Director Zack Snyder, for better or for worse, has made that dream a reality with “Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice”.

Following the events of 2013’s “Man of Steel” the film deals with the aftermath of the destruction that befell Metropolis during Superman’s battle with General Zod. With the revelation that a god is now amongst them, humanity wonders if Superman is truly a savior or if he will bring doom upon them all.

Bruce Wayne, who lost friends and workers during the Metropolis battle, decides to take it upon himself to take on and destroy Superman, believing that one day the Kryptonian will turn against the world he protects.

That’s really the simplified version of “Batman V Superman” because there’s lots of story crammed into this 151 minute film. The plot ends up being the film’s biggest weakness. What should be a simple premise, Batman and Superman engaged in glorious combat, gets bogged down with philosophical and political themes of what it means to have a superhero living in our world. This sounds interesting and at times it is. But the film doesn’t take the time needed to flesh out and go in depth with the ideas it’s presenting. Eventually the film drops them completely, leading the viewer to wonder if there was a point to any of it.

Where the film shines brightest though is with its portrayal of the dark knight himself. Ben Affleck for many seemed like a questionable choice to play Batman but does he deliver. He plays a more brutal, violent Batman and the result leads to some spectacular action sequences. Watching him clean house with a group a bad guys with stealth and precision is a joy to see.

The film focuses more on Batman than it does Superman and it’s better for it. Henry Cavill, despite looking the part, is wooden as Superman. It’s not his fault though due to it seeming like he’s not given proper direction on how to play his character. You have the feeling Snyder told him “be serious and brooding” and while that works for a character like Batman, it doesn’t for Superman.

And that’s where most of the problems come from, Snyder’s direction. He can’t seem to balance all the stories that “Batman V Superman” is trying to tell. The film is all over the place, sometimes being an action movie, other times a political thriller or some moments a drama. On their own these parts work but they’re not tied together smoothly. So much so that if you were to remove certain subplots, you’ll find that they don’t affect anything at all.

Snyder does know how to make the film look pretty though and that’s the biggest strength next to Batman himself. Several scenes look like they’re ripped directly from a comic book page and it’s a visual marvel. The opening which details how young Bruce Wayne lost his parents is both haunting and beautiful to watch.

There is enjoyment to be had with “Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice”. When it does focus up and you see these heroes pummel each other, it’s a spectacle that’s a joy to see. Is the film a mess, yes it is. Is it a fun mess, yes also. It may not be a perfect beginning to what DC has in store for us, but it does leave one entertained and curious to what’s to come in the future.

Monsters Have Many Forms: 10 Cloverfield Lane Review

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It’s hard reviewing “10 Cloverfield Lane” without mentioning the original 2008 film “Cloverfield”.  Just like the first, this sort-of-but-not-really sequel was shrouded in complete mystery. Nobody even knew this film existed until a few months ago when a surprise trailer for it appeared. Then there was constant speculation. How does this tie into the first one? Is the “Cloverfield” monster in this? What is this about?

It’s easy to speculate on what “10 Cloverfield Lane” could be but let’s focus on what the film is.

The film tells the story of Michelle, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who finds herself trapped in an underground bunker after being in a car wreck. There she meets her ‘savior’ Howard, played by John Goodman, and Emmett, played by John Gallagher Jr., a fellow resident of the bunker. After Howard explains to her that air outside is toxic as the result of an attack, Michelle tries to figure out what exactly happened on the surface above and if she is truly safe in the bunker.

What follows, is a tense claustrophobic thriller that will keep you on edge from nearly start to finish.

Dan Trachtenberg makes his directorial debut with “10 Cloverfield Lane” and does he show that he has a bright future ahead of him.

Trachtenberg uses a slow-burn approach, letting the tension build as you the viewer try to figure out what’s going on. There’s rarely a moment that passes where there isn’t a sense of unease.

The three actors all do tremendous job but the real scene-stealer is John Goodman. He’s terrifying as Howard. The moment he appears on screen you just know that something is off with him but you don’t know what. And the film toys with your emotions towards him, he’ll seem completely insane one moment but then the next he’s the one making perfect sense.

While this could seem like inconsistent writing in some films, “10 Cloverfield Lane” does this in a way that feels natural. This leads to the audience constantly questioning who they should root for and what’s going to happen next.

The only real faults with the film comes with the expectations of those watching. With the title one automatically connects it “Cloverfield” and expects this one to be the monster movie sequel people have been hoping for. Those expecting a direct continuation of the first movie are gonna be disappointed.

Then there’s the ending which is already facing some controversy. This review won’t go into any details; however, there’ll be some who will think the ending was fitting while others will be left unsatisfied and wanting more answers than they are given.

It’s best to view “10 Cloverfield Lane” as it’s own stand-alone film. With that said, it is heart pounding adrenaline rush of a film with one of the best performances by an actor this year. Those wanting “Cloverfield 2” should probably leave those expectations at the door.

Eraserhead (1977) Review

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There are some films that are just mindless entertainment that offer viewers an escape from their everyday lives. Then there’s ones that challenge the viewer and wants them to think about what they’re watching. Then there’s “Eraserhead”.
Written and directed by David Lynch, the film tells the story of Henry Spencer who’s currently on vacation from his job. After having dinner with his girlfriend’s family he discovers that he’s the father of a newborn baby, at least it might be a baby. The view then follows Spencer as he deals with his deformed possibly not human child, his angry girlfriend and bizarre world he seems to inhabit.
A story that’s seemingly simple in premise but is anything but. “Eraserhead” is a surreal nightmare of a film. Everything is open to interpretation and to say the film is “weird” would be an understatement.
The imagery the viewer is treated with can be off-putting as well. Malformed babies that constantly cry, a woman who seemingly lives in a radiator and sperm-like creatures just to name a few. Any viewer will sit there and ask “what does this mean?”
The industrial world that Spencer inhabits can make viewers ask even more questions. Is this the result of a nuclear war? Was this caused by man’s constant building of factories and railways? Both?
At this point someone reading might be thinking this is a movie that’s a confusing mess and want to avoid it. They’re half-right. The film is confusing but it’s never a mess. Every part of the film is deliberate in it’s way to make viewer think deeper about what they’re watching.
The film is laden with themes of sexuality, fear of commitment and even suicide. It’s only when you stop taking the film literal and think abstractly do they start becoming clear.
Spencer, played wonderfully by Jack Nance, is a wonder himself also. He’s seemingly child-like in the way he simply allows people to tell him what to do and speaks to others. But under that innocent exterior, there is underlying darkness that slowly starts to become more apparent as the film progress.
The film is a marvel when it comes to its sound design. There’s rarely a silent moment as there’s constantly sounds of white noise, industrial machinery or faint music playing in the distance. It culminates into a film that constantly has you on edge due to the unsettling nature.
“Eraserhead” isn’t for everyone though. Viewers who are more squeamish may not particularly enjoy some of the sequences Lynch has in store. Those who also want a film that’s straight-forward in its meaning might want to steer away as well.
For those who want a film that challenges you and makes you think critically about what you’re viewing, “Eraserhead” is for you.

Three Movies You Can Watch On Netflix Right Now

What better way to start a new movie blog than sharing some hidden gems that you can find right now on Netflix.

 

“World’s Greatest Dad”

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Some films tip toe back and forth between the boundaries of tasteful and tastelessness. Others sprint across and keep going. “World’s Greatest Dad” tells the story of Lance Clayton, a single father who dreams of being an author despite every book he’s written get rejected by publishers. After a tragic accident, Clayton is given an opportunity to achieve the fame he’s always wanted but only if he can live what he has to do to get it. This pitch black comedy written and directed by Bobcat Goldthwait offers viewers a cynical outlook at humanity that is insightful as well as morbidly hilarious. With a great soundtrack and a fantastic performance by Robin Williams as Clayton, “World’s Greatest Dad”is a tragic comedy tale that is worth watching.

“Fruitvale Station”

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Before last year’s “Rocky” spin-off “Creed”, Ryan Coogler made his name known with 2013’s “Fruitvale Station”. The film tells the true story of Oscar Grant and the final hours of his life before being shot by a police officer. Michael B. Jordan stars as Grant and delivers one of his best performances to date. As Grant goes about his day we learn more about him and how despite his flaws, he’s a good person trying to turn his life around. Giving complexity and depth to an otherwise straight forward story. The end result is a film that is powerful and is sure to stay with you long after it ends.

“The Babadook”

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“If It’s in a word or it’s in a look, you can’t get rid of the Babadook.” Written and directed by Jennifer Kent, “The Babadook” tells the story of Ameilia who struggles with raising her son Samuel after losing her husband in a car accident. After a mysterious book enters her household, Samuel starts fearing that a creature called the Babadook is haunting their home. Despite having the appearance of a monster movie, “The Babadook” is a tense psychological film heavy with themes of loss, grief and blame that one wouldn’t expect in a traditional horror movie.  Kent does fantastic work of using suspense and your own imagination to cook up frights instead of falling into the trap of non-stop jump-scares that most horror films use today.  “The Babadook” is horror film that trust its audience to think about what they’re watching which in turns leads to a film that is unsettling and thought-provoking. You might want to sleep with the lights on afterwards.