The House That Jack Built


Viewed – 05 March 2019. Blu-Ray

Matt Dillon, who first caught my attention following his star-making role in cult favourite Drugstore Cowboy returns after what seems to have been a long absence from the movie scene. Hats off to him for choosing such a controversial role as ‘Jack’ a man recanting five incidents during a twelve year history as a serial killer.

The House That Jack Built

One of those movies that instantly stirred up controversy following it’s Cannes debut. With a myriad of clever, baffling and disturbing references in an attempt to explore a damaged mind, both revered and reviled director Lars Von Trier’s movie is equal parts challenging, shocking and decidedly clever. Structurally with Jack’s repeated attempt to build a house whilst at the same time descending into madness is a work of ingenious symbolism. In amidst harrowing depictions of breast-slicing or strangulation there’s also a surprising and welcome amount of satire and dark comedy (returning a rigpr mortis-stricken body to the scene of the crime, OCD cleaning up), that comparisons to American Psycho or French thriller Man Bites Dog are valid. However, one scene involving a mother and her two little boys challenged even my admittedly far reaching boundaries.

Dillon is fantastic and very convincing as this unfeeling sociopathic killer and in different material (or if he was Anthony Hopkins) might have got the Oscar nod. Yes, Von Trier gets self-indulgent in his artistic flourishes, throwing in German expressionist-like imagery and footage from the holocaust as well as his own movies to hammer home various points about art and violence. Yet along with Jack’s narrated conversations with disembodied confidant ‘Verge’ … what we ultimately get is a very unique take on the serial-killer subject, meaning I came away rather impressed.

Verdict: 4 /5

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Velvet Buzzsaw


Viewed – 26 February 2019  Netflix

I think it can be agreed now that Netflix has become a force to be retconned with and now attracts Hollywood A-list talent to front it’s growing catalogue of original content.  So we come to this rather strange horror thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo and Toni Collette.  Gyllenhaal plays an art critic who works with various art galleries to put on exhibits.  However he is craving the latest big thing and after a mysterious elderly man dies, an undiscovered collection of weird paintings falls into his lap.  However something is very wrong with these paintings, and the gallery owners, employees and critics are about to discover exactly what.

UNTITLED DAN GILROY FILM

This was a strange one.  Firstly Gyllenhaal is probably my favourite actor, and here he’s playing a rather camp, self-absorbed bi-sexual character who at times comes off like two separate people (when he’s in critic mode, he’s effeminate and flamboyant, otherwise he’s quite serious and masculine). However like many of Gyllenhaal’s characters – he makes it work.  Russo is the rather bitchy gallery owner and not exactly a stretch from the last movie I saw her in, Nightcrawler, of which this is the same director.  Collette is nothing special and an appearance from John Malcovich is forgettable also.  Zawe Ashton as an ambitious gallery employee however, is just awful with robot-like line delivery making me think she was doped up on medication.  However the core idea of cursed artwork and the mystery of the deceased painter is intriguing, just a shame it goes nowhere in favour of a series of (admittedly imaginative) deaths. 

It may feel a bit lightweight and suffers from a TV movie-vibe but with quirky performances and a strong central idea I did have fun with this … but it’s far from essential viewing.  That title has little reference to the movie either. 

Verdict:  3 /5

The Heist


Viewed – 08 July 2014  Netflix

Hmm, a pleasant surprise this.  As the highest voted entry on my recent poll, I was almost expecting this to be bad … sort of an ‘I dare you to watch this clunker!’ result, but then as the final credits rolled I realised – I hadn’t laughed or chuckled quite as much in a long time as I had watching this highly entertaining comedy.

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Christopher Walken, Morgan Freeman and William H. Macey are security guards working at a museum, who discover they all have one thing in common -.their love of particular works of art.  For Walken, the haunting portrait of a lonely maiden, for Freeman a classic painting of a girl pouring milk for some cats, and for Macy a priceless bronze statue.  However on learning that their beloved pieces are due to be moved to a museum in Denmark, they hatch the unlikely plan of stealing the art for themselves.

I found this really enjoyable.  Three great actors, all of which I am a fan of, turning in excellent performances with many little quirks and old-age bumbling.  Walken’s over bearing wife, Freeman’s wealth of cats and Macy insistence on getting naked to pose with his statue at every opportunity.  It was a joy to just watch these complete working-class Joe’s try and pull off a painstakingly planned heist … with all the things that could go wrong etc.  Walken carries the movie well, even if like the other two, he comes across as a bit ‘odd’.  Also as a caper, it doesn’t add much to a well worn genre but for the over-the-hill casting.  Yet the comedy although gentle and innocent is right on the nail and I still had a great time.

Verdict:  4 /5

Adding to the collection


Have I ever told you guys I collect PVC statues?  Mostly of the Japanese anime and fantasy art style, female characters is various sexy poses with elaborate costumes and props.  In my experience some have looked on this collection as strange, but I think they are really cool.  I don’t particularly see them as sexual, but more a very appealing art-style that has made such things as Japanese Anime the phenomenon it has become.  Find below just a few pictures of some of my favourites in my collection, and feel free to post your thoughts.

Dark Elf

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Ice Age


Viewed – 03 January 2011  DVD

I’ll admit it.  I can be a bit of a snob when it comes to some animated movies.  At one stage when considering CGI-based animated fair, if wasn’t by Pixar (Toy Story, Monsters Inc), I would turn my nose up.  Despicable Me proved me wrong however, and so … very late to this one, we have a movie set at the dawn of a very cold winter.

The first thing I noticed was how uninspiring the animation style was, with the characters and scenery all having a plastic-like look to them.  Not the best first impressions, but then the story, that of a Sloth, a Sabre Tooth Tiger and a Mammoth who find a human boy and choose to take him back to his tribe, gradually began to pull me in.  You see, the boy was taken from his tribe by his mother fleeing a Sabre Tooth Tiger attack, and when the Mammoth and co find him, the Sabre Tooth secretly plots to lead them into a trap.  The Sloth was the comedy fodder here, and the different perils the group faced during their journey were certainly entertaining.  Yet the movie’s gentle tone felt a touch too ‘safe’ for me, and it wasn’t exactly laugh-out-loud funny (unless you’re three).  The plot also was nothing particularly different, but I did like how things came together at the end, with some nice twists.

As part of an ongoing franchise, I liked the characters and setting enough to want to check out the sequels … so that can’t be bad.

Verdict:  2.5 /5