A movie industry legend and a genuine hero of mine in the 80s with the Smokey and the Bandit and Cannonball Run movies has died today. Burt Reynolds was set to star in Tarantino’s latest Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, due out next summer.
Didn’t Steven Soderbergh (Ocean’s Eleven, Traffic) announce his retirements at one stage, or did I dream that? Either way the man continues to deliver movies including this latest psychological thriller starring The Crown’s Clare Foy who plays Sawyer, a woman who has started a new job in a new city after running from a stalker. However after an intended one night stand goes awry, she turns to a psychiatrist to tackle some of her demons. Problem is she unwittingly signs herself into a psychiatric institute and is unable to leave for seven days. Is she losing her mind and has her stalker returned?
Soderberg’s movie has an immediately unsettling aesthetic. Filmed believe it or not entirely on an iPhone, and with claustrophobic, unconventional filming techniques that makes everything seem dream-like … it was easy for me to go along with the paranoia and hopelessness of Sawyer’s plight. Once the hospital becomes the main location, the way the movie questions what is real and what might be in Sawyer’s head is very well done. Foy is brilliant, damaged and vulnerable making her one of those actors that really becomes the character. Support from genre icon Amy Irving (Carrie) was welcome if under-used and along with a creepy stalker this ticked all my boxes.
I’d have liked the ‘is she imagining it?’ element explored a little more than it was as it kind of turns into a typical thriller in the final act … but along with plenty of atmosphere and a few genuine shocks, I really enjoyed this.
The first thing I wanted to write about was a little game I’ve been playing lately called ‘Life Is Strange’ a game that has garnered good reviews and a bit of a cult following. As a change from what has become the norm in gaming for a while now (let’s be honest if you’re not killing ‘something’ it’s not a game in most regards) so sitting down to play this narrative-driven adventure was refreshing. You play the role of Maxine, a girl who returns to the home she grew up in to attend a prestigious academy. However whilst there she discovers all is not well in Arcadia Bay and after getting re-acquainted with her childhood friend ‘Chloe’ she begins to unravel a mystery surrounding the disappearance of a local student.
I liked the writing here, the well-defined characters, a few bitchy stereotypes and shifty villain-types but not everyone is what they appear to be on the surface. Add to this clever gameplay mechanics that include time travel and as the game progressed in it’s episodic chapter structure, I found myself thoroughly absorbed. This game has made me feel things only a good TV show or movie has and it felt totally alien to the hobby but very welcome. I felt sadness and excitement and wonder, and it’s all done so well. If you are yearning for a break from all the violence or button-bashing thrills and want something to really make you think and feel, I highly recommend you give Life Is Strange a go.
In other news, guess what? I’m gearing up to go and see my favourite band ‘Garbage’ again and will be heading to Brixton Academy this month. The last time I saw them at the Troxy in London I did the whole VIP meet & greet thing and got to meet the one and only Shirley Manson! Well, I am doing it all again; meet & greet, early entry, watch them rehearse, q&a etc. and I’m so excited. The concert is part of a tour Garbage are embarking on that begins this weekend (first date: the Electric Picnic festival in Ireland) which celebrates the 20th anniversary of arguably their finest album ‘Version 2.0’ which personally is my favourite album of all time by any artist. To hear certain tracks live is going to be such a treat and one of those once-in-a-life-time experiences. As you can tell I’m totally looking forward to this and will undoubtedly report back on it all once I’m back home.
That’s all for me for the time being. Please check back again for more reviews and stuff soon.
Holy cow this game looks incredible. Possibly the most anticipated game to get talked about at both E3 2018 and the recent Gamescom convention, despite neither events showing what the game was like to actually play. Now we can finally put our fears, thoughts and wishes to rest with this extra-long in-depth reveal of the game in action. Strong vibes of Deus Ex, but that’s never a bad thing…
A few years ago I was heavily into all things Hong Kong Action Cinema and explored not only the movies of the legendary Jackie Chan but everything from John Woo to Tsui Hark and Jet Li. I got pretty burnt out it has to be said but occasionally I’ll revisit that interest when I see one of the classics get the Blu-ray treatment. This 1985 action comedy has Chan as rule-breaking super-cop Ka-Kui, who following a successful raid on a shanty town to capture a notorious drug dealer, finds himself looking after a witness (played by genre queen Brigitte Lin).
This 1985 movie, the first in the long-running series … was a huge hit and won awards in it’s native land whilst helping turn Jackie Chan into the superstar we all know him as. Watching this movie now, whilst well structured and entertaining throughout, seems to lean a little too heavily towards comedy with drawn-out scenes devoted to silly gags and comical situations involving his girlfriend (Maggie Cheung) and often bumbling co-workers. Thankfully when the action does kick in it’s terrific, showcased in three varied scenes that prove without a doubt why Chan’s so respected, not just as a martial artist but also as a choreographer and daredevil with his unique brand of environment-using stunt work. Influences from the likes of Buster Keaton are obvious and even all these years later, watching him is mesmerising. Not exactly the greatest action movie Chan’s ever done or even his best movie but it’s still a classic for what it set in motion.
This UK Blu-ray from Eureka! Is presented as a double feature box set with Police Story 2 and boasts a detailed booklet as well as a wealth of extra features. We get three cuts of the movie (the original release, the Japanese extended cut & a shorter American home video cut), behind the scenes featurettes, archive interviews, a brief over-view of Chan’s stunt wok, deleted scenes and trailers. The movie itself is in decent shape, with a 4K re-mastered image that whilst boasting nice detail and vibrancy, some darker scenes suffer from a smudgy, overly dark appearance. The soundtrack is good though with both 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio soundtracks presented in English dubbed and Cantonese subtitled, although the movie’s age means those surrounds are barely used. Overall, solid treatment for a movie that’s still a great deal of fun.
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