Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile

Viewed – 06 December 2019. Online-rental

Any movie attempting to tell the true story of notorious serial killer Ted Bundy is a daunting prospect. From what I’ve heard, he was an incredibly prolific, charismatic and manipulative psychopath who did some of the cruelest and most depraved serial murders in American history. So when I heard former High School Musical actor Zac Efron was taking on the role, I must admit … I was intrigued.

Focusing on Bundy’s relationship with Elizabeth Kendall (Lilly Collins) this is told mostly from her point of view. A similar approach to that Tom Hardy Krays movie from a few years back. However such an approach means we don’t really get to explore what made Ted who he was, and for the most part the accusations and subsequent manhunt come off as ill-fitting to the man we see Efron portraying. The various murders are not recreated and told only in news footage or Police chatter, so a sense of the sheer horrendous nature of the crimes is glossed over. In an attempt to give some depth to Bundy and Liz’s struggling relationship, a plot thread involving the book ‘Papillon’ is introduced and from all recorded testimonies this inclusion is pure fiction, and the documented telephone confession he apparently gave to Liz whilst on the run, is removed entirely in favour of a rather weak sort-of confession scene towards the end. Such inaccuracies to the real life events left me wondering what director Joe Berlinger‘s intentions were, considering he also delivered a documentary called The Ted Bundy Tapes to Netflix prior to this movie’s release.

However Zac Efron is still very good as Bundy and proves charming, like the real person, as well as occasionally creepy. Yet the stand out here is Collins who delivers a very convincing portrayal of a woman who refused to admit shes was going out with a monster. Overall though, this was far too lightweight considering the subject and mostly a missed opportunity.

Verdict: 2.5 /5

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.


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

Deepwater Horizon

Viewed – 31 January 2017  online rental

I love a good disaster flick.  Brings back to me memories of movies such as Towering Inferno, The Poseidon Adventure and  probably also Titanic.  So this based on true events story was an easy prospect.  Mark Wahlberg, one of those actors who I’ve always enjoyed in pretty much anything stars alongside veterans Kurt Russell and John Malcovich in the story of a colossal disaster that hit the an oil rig off the gulf of Mexico in 2010.

Deepwater Horizon

Wahlberg plays Mike Williams, an electrical engineer who returns to work at Deepwater Horizon, leaving his dutiful wife (Kate Hudson) and daughter back home for what he believes will be a routine time on-board an oil rig.  However after coming up against the bureaucratic dealings of a group of BP representatives (headed by Malcovich) Mike along with his supervisor Jimmy (Russell) begin to realise several safety measures may have been overlooked.

The movie takes a bit of time to get going and I’ll admit some of the technical jargon went over my head.  Also Malcovich, usually a reliable presence in any movie, seemed particular subdued and sported a rather dodgy accent.  With that said, once things do go south, its full on thrills and spills for the remaining running time.  This is pretty intense stuff, directed with authenticity and boasts several heart-in-mouth moments that to be honest made the experience really jump from the screen and unnerve me.  Effects work, both practical and I’m guessing CGI were very impressive too.  Wahlberg, a very likable actor but with not that much depth, was also a surprise, proving convincing throughout; not too heroic but very human.  Russell was a little more stereotyped but despite looking older than his heyday, still had screen presence.  Also add to this what appeared to be first time actors or regular people filling out some of the extras for added realism and this had echoes of Tom Hanks vehicle Captain Phillips for an utterly believable representation of a shocking event.


Verdict:  4 /5

Burn After Reading

Viewed – 21 April 2010  DVD

The much acclaimed and Oscar-winning sibling directors Joel & Ethan Coen deliver a movie that once again isn’t easy to classify.  With a big name cast including George ClooneyBrad Pitt and John Malcovich, this both ingenious and absurd comedy follows a group of people and their inter-connecting lives whilst they fornicate, black mail and double cross whilst unaware of how closely linked they all are. 

Coens regular Francis McDormand plays a gym worker who along with friend Brad Pitt (on wondrously dorky form) find a CD detailing secrets from the CIA’s files, and so set about trying to blackmail the man responsible for loosing it, namely John Malcovich.  At the same time we have small time CIA operative George Clooney who is having an affair with Malcovich’s wife, but also finds time to date Francis McDormand, who is looking for love via internet dating.

As ever with the Coen Brothers, the appeal is in the casting and the dialogue, both of which positively shine, with Francis McDormand probably being the stand-out, although Clooney’s nervous, panicky performance is probably the funniest I’ve seen him do.  This is also full of surprises, and had me thrown back in my chair in shock on several occasions.  Like the brothers’ earlier The Big LeBowski this shines as a likable idiots out of their depth story, and I certainly came away entertained.

Verdict:  4 /5