Eighties nostalgia is really trendy right now and as someone who grew up in that decade I’m certainly in approval. In the wake of hit Netflix series Stranger Things, breakout horror It Follows and that recent IT remake, this has a similar group of teenage friends during a time when a series of children disappearing lead the Police to believe they have a serial killer on the loose. One kid, a nerdy conspiracy-theory obsessive jumps to the conclusion that the mysterious man on his paper round might be the killer.
This is very much Goonies meets Fright Night, and the likeable gang of kids certainly bring back memories of both movies … as we watch them stalk and investigate their neighbour and gather evidence. It’s not quite the horror the trailer has you believe, more a comedy-drama filled (likely intentionally) with cliches – the hot girl next door, the outcast kids, parents who don’t listen etc. The movie also rushes over smaller details that become important later on (sighting a kid in the man’s house – blink and you miss it). Yet the movie kept me guessing and with some clever use of red herrings and decent twists, I found myself really invested.
In its reliance on nostalgia it loses a bit of its own identity and characters beyond the main protagonist are wafer thin and under-explored. The ending however floored me. Recommended.
The movie that’s probably more famous for ‘allegedly’ causing the break up of Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie’s marriage than it is for the story or movie itself. This WWII set drama follows a U.S. soldier who after being thrown together with a French agent during a top secret mission, falls in love with said agent and subsequently marries her on return to London. However a year into their marriage with a baby in tow, the soldier’s superiors inform him they’ve intercepted information that suggests his wife might be a Nazi spy.
Directed by Robert Zemeckis (Forest Gump, Back to the Future) this was a fascinating and engrossing story let down a tad by (surprisingly) not all-that convincing chemistry between the principal leads and somewhat limited production values where several scenes look like they are on a set or in front of green-screen (the desert sequence especially). Pitt, one of my favourites seems to have been phoning it in of late, with his less than stellar turn in the otherwise enjoyable ‘Fury’ and that follows on here. I don’t know what is going on, perhaps it’s his at the time choppy personal life bleeding into production, but for the most part he looks bored. Thankfully Marion Cotillard is much more convincing and considering the suspicion surrounding her character, pulls it off brilliantly both as a believable loving, sexy wife and perhaps something else. The mystery does however get wrapped up very easily and what appeared on the surface to be a solid concept seems to run out of depth as it nears it’s conclusion.
For the most part though, as a fairly well observed drama, with several tense situations and a some surprising violence … this still managed to entertain. It just could have been even better if Pitt had really gone for it.
I am a big fan of the movie Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang and consider it one of the career highlights of Robert Downey Jr. The same could also be said for Shane Black, who penned the script to Lethal Weapon amongst other accolades and also directed said Downey Jr vehicle. So coming to this latest written and directed effort from Black, you could say my expectations were dialled on the high side. We won’t mention Iron Man 3 (oops).
With a very similar vibe to Bang Bang, this sort-of homage to 70’s detective shows has somewhat amateur detectives Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling on the trail of a missing girl who is somehow mixed up in the shady world of the porn industry and the death of a famous starlet. Immediately this is Shane Black on blistering form; at least dialogue-wise, which leaps off the screen and is delivered with no end of personality and charm by the principle leads. This has many very funny lines and even funnier situations (that rotating car display) as our bumbling duo go from one crazy encounter to the next, topped off with some surprisingly thrilling moments. Along for the ride is Gosling’s character’s daughter who it seems understands how to be a detective ten times better than her adult counterparts do and you could call her the Inspector Gadget’s niece of the trio. Also we have a not-ageing-gracefully Kim Basinger as some department of justice bigwig sporting Botox or plastic surgery, but fails to really bring anything but familiarity to the party.
The plot takes a step back to Black’s flair for dialogue and moments and it shows, as what it all ends up being about is rather ‘meh’ and well, just what was all that with Misty Mountains? The movie also threatens to spiral out of control with a bit too much slapstick and occasionally really stupid humour … but is held together by a likeable trio of performances and a great sense of time and place. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang suffered similarly but again that didn’t detract from what was otherwise solid entertainment – and the same can be said here. Recommended.
I know why it has taken so long for me to get around to watching this. Firstly for the most part much of the movies on Netflix are either seen it or pretty lame, bargain bin fair that I quickly regret clicking on. However starring Harry Potter himself Daniel Radcliffe in an against type role (does he really have a type though?) and with thoughts of his above average turn in Woman In Black … this has always been on my ‘to watch’ list. The bizarre concept made me hesitant also.
Radcliffe stars as Iggy who we learn early on has been suspected of his long time girlfriend’s murder and whilst the cops try to build a case against him, he tries to prove his innocence. One morning however he awakes to find a set of horns have sprouted devil-like from his head and suddenly the towns folks are confessing their deepest darkest secrets to him, whether he wants to hear them or not.
This rather unusual idea took a little bit of getting into but once I caught onto the somewhat tongue-in-cheek tone, I was thoroughly along for the ride. It plays out like an extended Twilight Zone episode and certainly proves highly entertaining as we watch some outrageous behaviour from people drawn to Iggy as he gathers clues about the murder, interspersed with flashbacks that piece things together for the viewer at the same time. It has a decidedly Stephen King vibe too, which is never a bad thing. The whodunit may be a bit easy to guess, but with strong performances, especially from Radcliffe, some decent effects work, and stylish direction by Alexandre Aja (Piranha 3D) … I found this original, freaky and darkly funny which is often a great combination. Recommended.
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