Glass (2019)

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Direction: M. Night Shyamalan
Country: USA

M. Night Shyamalan’s Glass marks the last part of the Unbreakable trilogy, launched with Unbreakable in 2000 and followed with Split in 2016. This new thriller tries to funnel the two precedent story threads into a conclusion, but the problem is that I was unable to feel excitement or have any type of reward along the way. Shyamalan, 48, had his biggest success in 1999 with The Sixth Sense, and since then has been giving signs of creative constraints. Examples that testify what was just said are The Village, The Happening, and Lady In The Winter, all nonsense mystery movies.

In truth, the final chapter of the trilogy is also its worst part, a clunky superhero film fabricated with worn out procedures, where the thrills are so scarce or practically nonexistent that we want it to end before long. During the first 20 minutes, the director sort of promised to take us somewhere, but instead, he let it all dribble away, remaining in a fog of apathy that has absolutely no pay off in the end.

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Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, and James McAvoy reprise their roles from the previous installments as the indestructible vigilante David Dunn, the murderous mastermind Elijah Price, and the multi-personality criminal Kevin Wendell Crumb, respectively. All three are locked in a mental hospital and defied by an ambitious and skeptical young psychiatrist, Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson), who undertakes the byzantine task of proving that they are just ‘normal’ people, totally devoid of superpowers.

Problems with this film: the ideas simply don’t breathe, the narrative is more viscous than fluid, the dialogue is stiff, the connections are simplistic and amateurish, and the performances have no room to shine. The fact of the manner is that the film is so anti-climax and preposterous that not even the action scenes with The Beast succeeded in capturing my attention. To summarize, Glass would need to be completely reconsidered, script-wise, and then redone from scratch.

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Dragged Across Concrete (2019)

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Direction: S. Craig Zahler
Country: USA

American director S. Craig Zahler had left a very good impression in his debut feature, the adventurous western Bone Tomahawk, but was powerless in maintaining the positive vibrations in the inglorious, punishingly tedious Dragged Across Concrete. The film is a neo-noir crime thriller written by Zahler and starring Mel Gibson and Tory Kittles as a suspended cop turned outlaw and a relapsing criminal with nothing to lose, respectively.

Frustrated Bulwark police agents, Brett Ridgeman (Gibson) and his reliable partner Anthony Lurasetti (Vince Vaughn) are captured in a video, using excessive force in an uncomplicated operation involving cash and narcotics. After a complaint is made, the case gets the attention of the media and they end up with a six-week suspension and no pay.

The situation forces them to radically change positions and infiltrate in the underground crime world. Not for justice, though, but to chase the wealth their lives are asking for. Their destinies cross with a ferocious gang that includes Henry Johns (Kittles), an African-American ex-con, who just got out of the prison to realize that his mother became a drug addict and prostitute. He bills are six months behind and she doesn't pay enough attention to his physically disabled younger brother.

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The film incurs in a derivative minor subplot when Kelly (Jennifer Carpenter), an esteemed employee of the bank marked to be robbed by the ruthless gang, goes to work for the first time after her baby was born. On another note, swallowing a key was never so easy, while taking it out of the stomach was both coarse and repugnant. Apart from these details, the tale comes to a cop-gangster association enveloped in paranoia, mistrust, and suspicion.

There’s nothing here that hasn’t been seen before or better done. The uncharismatic characters and languid pace cut down any interest we might have in a story extended to 159 painful minutes where insensibility and banality reign.

Largely shot in lurid, gilded tones that serve to paint oppressive environments, Dragged Across Concrete is a tremendous misfire that even the most vehement fans of cop thrillers should have trouble to connect.

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Suspiria (2018)

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Direction: Luca Guadagnino
Country: Italy / USA

Italian Luca Guadagnino, auteur of powerful films such as I Am Love (2009) and the critically acclaimed Call Me By Your Name (2017), makes his first move in the horror genre with a botched remake of Dario Argento’s 70s cult film Suspiria. Working from a screenplay by David Kajganich, who has previously worked with the director in A Bigger Splash (2015), Guadagnino had a gifted cast at his disposal, featuring Dakota Johnson and Tilda Swinton as protagonists, and Mia Goth and Angela Winkler in strong supporting roles.

The fiction takes place in 1977 Berlin, to where Ohio-born Susie Bannion (Johnson) moves definitely in order to join the prestigious international dance academy headed by the sinister Madame Blanc (one of the three roles of the amazing Swinton). Two influential dancers, Patricia Hingle (Chloë Grace Moretz) and Olga Ivanova (Elena Fokina), left the school psychologically affected with recondite occurrences. The former is missing; the latter was victimized by an invisible entity with virulent dance impulses. In the sequence of their absences, Suzie becomes the new protégé of the inscrutable, vampirelike Blanc. She can feel a dark force pushing her while working in the dance room and regularly affecting her dreams.

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Practically speaking, the school is under the orders of a witch society, a rare phenomenon that piques the curiosity of Dr. Klemperer (Swinton), an experienced psychotherapist who started to pay better attention to what his patient Patricia kept saying. He decides to visit the premises after meeting with the incredulous Sara (Mia Goth), one of the dancers and Patricia’s best friend. What he finds is as much bizarre as it is inextricable: esoteric rituals filled with magic, possession, and illusion.

The geometric architectonic configurations and muted colors that compose the 35mm-shot frames are relevant and propitious to the film’s ambitions; however, Guadagnino’s practices are overlong, stiff, and risibly gory in the final minutes. I got numb-brained while trying to understand why a director of this caliber would want to spoil the enchanting gothic tones previously created with a nasty sequence of human heads blowing up in blood.

Suspiria is mediocre at its best, presenting very little substance and lacking interesting character development. The songs by Radiohead’s Thom Yorke provide short moments of pleasure in a film to be quickly erased from memory.

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Tyrel (2018)

Directed by Sebastian Silva
Country: USA

Tyrel is a totally missed shot by Chilean director Sebastián Silva, whose past releases alternate between the delightful (The Maid; Crystal Fairy) and the mediocre (Magic Magic; Nasty Baby).

We’re living complicated times where racial tensions keep escalating and symptoms of fear, anxiety, and violence are visibly abundant. Aware of all this, Silva wrote a plot that is conceptually logic and unequivocal, a sort of counterpoint to Jordan Peele’s Get Out that would likely lure more adepts if less diffuse in the message and more consistent in tone.

Jason Mitchell is Tyler, an African American young man who willingly joins his good friend John (Christopher Abbott) in an all-men weekend party in the Catskill Mountains. This opportunity will give him a break from certain family problems that have been bothering him lately.

The house where they’re going to stay, owned by John’s Argentine friend Nico (Nicolas Arze), suddenly becomes jammed with a bunch of peculiar white dudes he doesn’t know. While some of the guys are nice, like Alan (Michael Cera) or Max (executive producer Max Borne), others are somewhat provocative in their behavior, cases of Peter (Caleb Landry Jones) and Dylan (Faith No More keyboardist Roddy Bottum). Frivolous conversation leads to silly games; alcohol leads to weed; everything starts rolling at a fast pace. Despite of a Trump doll hang in the living room and ready to be wrecked by torture, Tyrel becomes notably uncomfortable for being the only black person in the house.

The first night was tense, yet pacific; the second, maddening wild; both were prosaically banal. In our heads, we portray all those guys as racists and sadistic bastards ready to devour Tyler just for their own amusement. But nothing ever really happens and we feel somewhat betrayed by the pointless situations created. This sense of futility and deception was magnified from the moment I noticed that, after all, movie title and main character don’t share the same name - former is Tyrel, latter is Tyler.

With our alcohol-drenched hero programmed to act in paranoia mode, the film takes us to a neighboring house, where Silvia (Ann Dowd), her saxophonist husband (Reg E. Cathey), and their kid meet an afflicted Tyler. Are they the friendly type?

There is probably more religious turmoil here than actually racial, and the story progresses with a nonsensical self-contentment without delivering a single thrill. It doesn’t take us too long to understand Silva’s idea, in the same manner that we realize that the aimless script is populated with under-written characters. Tyrel breaks at the weight of its own ambition, feeling like an undergraduate exercise in tension. Sadly, even that tension is wasted.

Searching (2018)

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Directed by Aneesh Chaganty
Country: USA

Searching”, a low-budget, tech-based thriller directed by debutant Aneesh Chaganty, hinges on a catchy premise, advances with a so-so development, and waves bye-bye with a terrible resolution.

The gimmicky story, co-written by Chaganty and Sev Ohanian, is set in San Jose, California, and follows David Kim (John Cho), an over-controlling single father who freaks out when his 16-year-old daughter, Margot (Michelle La), goes mysteriously missing.

Within the first minutes of the film, through family videos, we learn that Margot’s mother, Pam (Sara Sohn), died from a lymphoma relapse. Two years have passed and Margot is now more independent, living her life without giving too much explanation to her dad. After the vanishing, David finds out she had canceled the piano classes six months before and made an unexplainable transfer of $2500 to a deactivated Venlo account. Managing to get several access codes and password recoveries, David dives in her Facebook page and gets in touch with her contacts, just to sadly realize they weren't exactly friends.

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The case is assigned to detective Rosemary Vick (Debra Messing - remember Grace Adler from “Will and Grace”?), who first considers the chance of a ‘runaway teen case’ before concluding it was abduction. In the meantime, David keeps digging deeper in Margot’s social media accounts, which leads him to Barbosa Lake, a place she kept visiting for five months, and to the only person who she really maintained contact lately: Hannah, a young Pittsburgh waitress who uses fish_n_chips as web identity.

The suspects change along the way, from Margot's colleagues to David’s own brother, Peter (Joseph Lee). Yet, to complicate things a little more, an ex-con confesses the murder before committing suicide. Do not worry, because the story doesn’t end here.

Chaganty wanted his film to look intelligently cryptic, but what he achieved was just completely muddled. Moreover, the storyline is naive, contrived, and ultimately nonsensical, all aggravated by the utterly unconvincing performances from Cho and Messing.

With my patience wearing thin, I remained seated just to confirm that “Searching” steeply declines as the mystery unravels. It's an emotionally parched, insubstantial drama thriller.

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Modern Life Is Rubbish (2018)

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Directed by Daniel Jerome Gill
Country: UK

Debutant director Daniel Jerome Gill snatched the title from Blur's second album of originals, “Modern Life Is Rubbish”, but, unlike the British rock band, was unable to find the originality to elevate this romantic comedy to higher standards. The film, an expansion of his 2009 short film of the same name, was written by Philip Gawthorne and stars Josh Whitehouse and Freya Mavor as a romantic couple whose uncontrollable passion for Blur’s music reinforced their mutual attraction for ten years.

Liam (Whitehouse) is a London vocalist/guitarist and songwriter who struggles to take his rock trio, Head Cleaner, to the place they deserve. Natalie (Mavor) is a sympathetic graphic designer who loves CD covers, sharing the same musical tastes of her boyfriend. 
Sounds awesome, right? Yet, the film doesn’t kick off with a happy couple. The first minutes show how painful a separation can be, and how different a man and a woman react to the situation. While Liam keeps simulating indifference, the visibly upset Natalie literally shed tears out of frustration and disappointment. This is all about priorities in life. More mature, she wants to raise a family, progress in her career, and have a comfortable life, willing to make sacrifices now for a better future. In turn, he has no idea of what’s going on, panics with the idea of a regular job, and blames the society for all his impasses and failures.

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Things get out of hand when Liam appears drunk in the gallery where Natalie had been assigned for a presentation, jeopardizing her work. Tactless and petulant, the musician amuses himself in a furious yet stagy scene that leads to the rupture.

Embracing a dull nostalgia, the good moments of the past are reconstructed through several flashbacks, which emerge surrounded by the light glare of Tim Sidell’s cinematography and a few decent indie rock songs, two positive aspects of the film.

As for the rest, everything remains unimaginative, unfunny, and formulaic, in an absurd attempt to compensate the tedious musical part with the insipid romance and vice-versa. It’s a groundless, vicious cycle aggravated by monotonous lines and clichéd postures. Not even the experienced Ian Hart (“Liam”, “Michael Collins”, “Backbeat”), as the band’s stylish yet demanding manager, could prevent this song from playing wrong jarring chords.

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Parents (2016)

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Directed by Christian Tafdrup
Country: Denmark

Part nostalgic family drama, part preposterous fantasy, “Parents” stumbles in its vague ambition of becoming a hit sensation.

Danish actor turned director, Christian Tafdrup, designed a story that failed to deliver any reward after 86 minutes exploring the impalpable.

The debutant filmmaker builds an interesting premise as he depicts an aging couple, Kjeld (Søren Malling) and Vibeke (Bodil Jørgensen), facing new challenges in their comfortable but somewhat boring life. They’re having a hard time coping with the permanent absence of their young adult son, Esben (Anton Honik) who recently has moved into his own apartment with his girlfriend Sandra (Emilia Imperatore Bjørnvad).

Kjeld loves his wife and does everything for her. However, he’s visibly disappointed with the course his life has taken. One can sense he expects much more from this relationship with the impassionate Vibeke, a despondent mother who shows a steep dependence on her son.

Feeling a bit lost and aimless, husband and wife will gain a new breath when they relocate to a smaller house, the same they had lived thirty years ago while still studying. When Sandra breaks up with Esben, his mother visibly rejoices with the possibility of getting him back. These characters seem not to have friends and we don't see them interact with anyone else rather than the family. 

Weirder tones dominate the second half of the film, after Kjeld and Vibeke inexplicably wake up one morning thirty years younger, but still living in the present time. This was exactly the opportunity Kjeld was hoping for to bring his wife closer to him again, at least physically. However, and for our surprise, the young Vibeke (Miri Ann Beuschel) starts an incestuous relationship with the spoiled Esben, while the forlorn Kjeld (Elliott Crosset Hove) continues obsessively sculpting and arranging the house in order to make it look exactly how it was before.

These surreal occurrences get you baffled and alert, and yet the film never pays you back. In truth, the unsolved puzzle suggests many things, metaphorically speaking, but the psychological drama advances without objectivity, hobbling in its cold energy and hampering me from drawing any satisfaction from its observation.

Tafdrup directed with both confidence and competence and the cinematography by Maria von Hausswolff was valuable. On the other hand, the acting didn’t always feel solid.

Some other films succeeded by persistently dwelling in this sort of unintelligible limbo, however, “Parents” didn’t have that special tone capable of making me search unconditionally until the last minute.

Suicide Squad (2016)

Directed by David Ayer
Country: USA

“Suicide Squad” is an anti-hero movie, written and directed by David Ayer, who sought inspiration in characters of the DC comics.
If the emergent filmmaker had pleased me with his previous works, “Fury” and “End of Watch”, he totally let me down with this annoyingly vulgar gathering of the most despicable supervillains.

When Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), an ambitious intelligence operative, decides to gather a suicide squad composed of the most dangerous and loony criminals on Earth to defend the US, it’s the same to say she’s putting the whole world in peril. 
However, she’s able to convince the Pentagon to buy her idea with the help of a former archeologist, Dr. June Moone, who is possessed by a witch-goddess named Enchantress. This character will become the most dangerous threat to the US government, which relies on the evil team to eradicate... the evil. Ironic, don’t you think?
The squad is infested with nasty creatures, namely: Deadshot (Will Smith), a soulless hitman who only cares about his 11-year-old daughter; Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), a former psychologist who became deranged after fallen for her most ignoble patient, the famous psycho The Joker (Jared Leto looking like Marilyn Manson); the sovereign thief Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney); the traumatized pyrokinetic El Diablo (Jay Hernandez); the snarling cannibal Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje); and Slipknot (Adam Beach), a ruthless mercenary.
All of them were set free from high-security prisons and now start to operate under the supervision of Colonel Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman).

Mr. Ayer sets both dark and comic tones to work together, but the film reveals too many fireworks and no substance.
Even intermittently, the humor is the only aspect I can praise, thanks to the brainsick Harley Quinn who once in a while throws a good jocular line.
“Suicide Squad” has not enough strength in the narrative, not enough interesting villains, not enough good action scenes, and no intelligent dialogues. Even the special effects are lame.
It’s a repulsive miscreation from which is better to stay away… for our sanity. 

Landmine Goes Click (2015)

Landmine Goes Click (2015) - Movie Review
Directed by: Levan Bakhia
Country: Georgia

Movie Review: The English-language “Landmine Goes Click”, set in a remote Georgian mountain region, is a low-budget tale that contains very few positive aspects, both intellectually and cinematographically. Divided into two separate parts, Levan Bakhia’s sophomore feature film addresses nothing else but a double revenge by assembling gruesome situations in an indistinct way. Most of its setbacks were detected during the first part, in which the scenario becomes a ludicrous farce, even if putting some more creativity when compared with the second one, which is a reproduction of situations already seen in other examples within the genre. Three American friends – Chris (Sterling Knight), Daniel (Dean Geyer), and the latter’s girlfriend, Alicia (Spencer Locke) - get into a jeep heading to a former war zone located in Georgia and decide to explore the region. Regardless the fact that Daniel and Chris are best friends for a long time, we’re clarified during the first minutes that Alicia betrayed her boyfriend by having a one-night stand with Chris, who nurtures strong feelings for her and wonders how she might feel about it. She answers it was a mistake and that they should forget the incident for their own sake. However, Daniel discovers the truth and elaborates an evil plan to get rid of Chris, whose jealousy grows stronger. With the help of a newly arrived friend, he assures that Chris becomes trapped when stepping on a landmine ready to explode at any moment. Dumped by Daniel, Alicia who, in the meantime, contently pronounces Chris as her officially new boyfriend, tries to do the right thing in order to free them from the difficulties. With no effective solutions, she’ll have to rely on Ilya (Kote Tolordava), a malicious Georgian stranger who popped up with his useless dog, just to play a few freaking sexual games and then rape her without a bit of condescension. The film then shifts to the uninteresting second part, when Chris, who had survived the traumatic experience, finds Ilya’s place and sets his personal revenge, aiming at the aggressor’s teen daughter. Amateurishly written by Adrian Colussi, “Landmine Goes Click” gets stuck in its own lies and gimmicks while propagating the bad vibes of the principle 'an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth'. I would call it a coarse deceit.

Anti-Social (2015)

Anti-Social (2015) - Movie Review
Directed by: Reg Traviss
Country: UK / Hungary

Movie Review: Greg Traviss’ expendable heist movie “Anti-Social” was unable to find a stabilized energy and never attained the desired maturity to impress, being relegated to those mediocre attempts that rely on fabricated scenes and flimsy resolutions, which infuriates instead of satisfying, with the easiness of the happenings and the wasted time (almost two hours in this case). The story, written by the heavy-handed Mr. Traviss, is set in Central London and follows two half-brothers who opt for unequal paths in life despite their proximity. Dee (Gregg Sulkin) is a graffiti artist who sometimes has to flee from the police for painting the street walls of his neighborhood. Carrying strong social-political messages, his art is still not as much respected as he would like, but has the power to draw the attention of a German artist who invites him to Berlin. His beamish girlfriend, Kirsten (Meghan Markle), offers all the support he needs and really believes in what he does, while his older brother, Marcus (Josh Myers), makes part of a gang of four motorcyclists who are known for robbing valorous jewelry around town. Besides this risky activity, the latter is associated with the organized crime, rivaling with another dangerous gang. By using a sexy woman as bait, the rival gang manages to perpetuate a precise attack, stealing drug packages and later shooting Marcus, who, recovering at the hospital, is out of the next heist, the biggest and riskiest so far. With no time to think and a necessity for solving the imbroglio, Marcus and his gang can only rely on the conscientious Dee. Even against his nature, the artist-turned-malefactor consents to participate in the holdup as a carrier, only to protect his brother and (why not?) taking the opportunity to guarantee his own future, financially speaking. Visually unpolished and with powerless performances, “Anti-Social” probably won’t attract many moviegoers with its constant plot shifts, mismanaged drama, sugary romance, and debilitating action. It’s an embarrassing incursion into the Londoner underworld crime and the art world in general.

Yakuza Apocalypse (2015)

Yakuza Apocalypse (2015) - Movie Review
Directed by: Takashi Miike
Country: Japan

Movie Review: Japanese director Takashi Miike doesn’t give up trying to shock us with abhorrent films suffused with physical and psychological violence in addition to a few obnoxious scenes whose only goal is to make you feel nauseous. In “Yakuza Apocalypse”, his new maniac Tarantinoesque exercise, he bridges the yakuza underground scene with zombie horror. The result is darkly unsubstantial, disgracefully unfunny, and chaotically absurdist. The excruciating action scenes, despite kinetic, soon becomes highly tiresome while the script by Yoshitaka Yamaguchi is clearly trying to gain followers among younger crowds. The fantasy is centered on Kageyama (Hayato Ichihara), a young and brave yakuza who ambitions to be like his popular boss, a vampire who passes him the curse of becoming an immortal sanguinary criminal. The thing is that not every blood is nourishing – the civilians are good blood suppliers while the yakuza are to avoid. Along with these preoccupations, Kageyama has to fight the opponents of his gang, a bunch of crazy characters that include a dark medieval cowboy who speaks only in English and carries a sophisticated gun inside a coffin, a fierce Indonesian warrior (Yayan Ruhian from “The Raid”) who hauled the boss’ head after twisting it a dozen of times, and a destructive giant frog with superpowers. As allies, there’s a woman known as Captain whose lethal weapon is a slimy white liquid that she spouts out of her ears. But of course that “Yakuza Apocalypse” has something else besides gangs and fighting. There’s also love since Kageyama is trying to figure out the best way of dealing with his passionate impulses (both of the heart and thirst for blood) when he’s in the presence of the damaged Kyoko who’s recovering from a traumatic experience at a local hospital. It’s sad to realize that so many good ideas are wasted amidst repetitive graphical blood-spattered scenes and human torture. Prolific filmmaker Takashi Miike pulls out a tedious finale, in an ignominious head-to-head fighting sequence that determines which fighter punches harder and screams louder than the other one. The cinematography by Hajime Kanda is the only aspect that deserves attention in this pathetic vampire yakuza tale.

Fort Tilden (2014)

Fort Tilden (2014) - Movie Review
Directed by: Sarah-Violet Bliss, Charles Rogers
Country: USA

Movie Review: Even understanding the motivation and intentions of the filmmakers who plunge into this very New Yorker microbudget mockery, I couldn’t avoid being stupefied by its pathetic occurrences and futile tones. The story follows two roommates, Allie (Clare McNulty) and Harper (Bridey Elliott), who dwell in a fantastic apartment (the best the film can present in terms of visuals) of the trendiest Brooklyn's neighborhood, Williamsburg. Both are very competitive in terms of men, and their conversations resume to stupid sex jokes about the perfect dick and what they’re thinking to do with their vaginas. Apart from this humdrum, we follow the two clumsy protagonists in their interminable trip to Fort Tilden where they are supposed to join two young men they had met at a rooftop party. Along the way, the spoiled daddy’s girl, Harper, pays everything by check, including an iced coffee bought in a bodega located in the same ghetto where a kid steals the bike Allie had borrowed from her weirdo neighbor. The same Allie is having problems with the Peace Corp.’s chief after she has skipped work due to a faked sickness, compromising her planned trip to Liberia. There’s still time for a cranky cab trip where the Indian driver dumps them in the middle of nowhere when he finds out that Harper’s father is an executive shark operating in India. At the beginning of their adventure, Harper states that there’s nothing better than biking through the streets of Brooklyn in order to bring fresh air and fresh ideas. Well, those are attributes that “Fort Tilden” definitely doesn’t deliver because its script is not just weak, it’s vulgar! The writers/directors, Sarah-Violet Bliss and Charles Rogers, making their debut on feature film, gave life to two characters that speak, act, and think as children. The film’s climax couldn’t be more basic than Harper attempting to rape a teen guy in the freezing sea. It could have been funny, but redundancy prevails over wit.

Glass Chin (2014)

Glass Chin (2014) - Movie Review
Directed by: Noah Buschel
Country: USA

Movie Review: The term ‘fighter’s chin’ is used in a figurative way to specify the ability of a pugilist to absorb blows in the chin before being knocked down. In this particular sports crime thriller, “Glass Chin” refers to the protagonist, Bud Gordon (Corey Stoll), a former boxing champion who tries to put order in his personal life after being let down by his chin. Still affected, he reacts badly when a homeless guy recognizes him and addresses his weak final fight. On the other hand, Bud feels both support and pressure whenever he returns to his New Jersey’s apartment because his confidante girlfriend, Ellen (Marin Ireland), wants him to find a propitious job. However, Bud spends his days on two very different activities: one of them is noble - training a new promising young boxer called Kid Sunshine; the other is unsafe - working for J.J. (Bill Crudup), a dishonorable restaurateur who hates everything that’s ordinary, like doing the laundry, and dedicates himself to other activities, including criminal ones. Bud is easily framed, right after he starts collecting money from a few terrified debtors under the orders of the ruthless Roberto (Yul Vazquez), J.J.’s devoted disciple, who justifies that his boss likes to own people. Restrained indignation and tremendous courage will intertwine when J.J. requests the adulteration of Kid Sunshine’s next fight. Far from the graciousness of his previous film, a fetching romance entitled “Sparrows Dance”, writer/director Noah Buschel presents us with a crude filmmaking style where the dark images overwhelm us with its objectionable looks. A lukewarm pace and a too ponderous approach didn’t help this quiet crime thriller having real thrills. Similarly, the story lets us down, being equal to other stories that we’ve seen a million times before, never adding that discerning touch that would allow emotions to come out clearly and genuinely. As for the acting, it lacked authenticity in several occasions and only Stoll sparingly seems to fit.

Every Secret Thing (2014)

Every Secret Thing (2014) - Movie Review
Directed by: Amy Berg
Country: USA

Movie Review: “Every Secret Thing” starts holding our attention by presenting a promising package of drama and crime, but sooner than we expected and even before totally unwrapped, it becomes a huge disappointment. In truth, the potential of this story, adapted by Nicole Holofcener - the competent writer/director of “Please Give” and “Enough Said” - from a crime novel of the same name by the American author Laura Lippman, is totally inhibited by an unsuccessful direction, screenwriting, and cinematography. Only the casting, with diligent performances from Danielle Macdonald and Dakota Fanning, was passable. The film, produced by the celebrated actress Frances McDormand, was directed by Amy Berg, who deserved accolade for chronicling two disturbing legitimate cases in the documentaries “Deliver Us From Evil” (2006) and “West of Memphis” (2012), but showed serious gaps in this first fictional feature-length. The plot brings out two neighbor friends, the apparently reasonable Alice and the unmannerly Ronny, who were implicated in the disappearance of a baby child, taken from a stroller that was placed in the porch of a house close to theirs. Both were sent to a correction facility for seven years. Now with 18, they’re back, but is Alice who causes polemics by saying she has paid for a crime she didn’t commit. When another 3-year-old is missing, detectives Kevin Jones and Nancy Porter get back to the two teens, who become suspects once again. Everything was poorly done, starting with the messed-up plot and crooked details, going through a disintegrated structure and melancholic undertones, and finishing in its unappealing dark images. A couple of twists resulted pathetically inefficient since everything is too revelatory and the surprises are null. If you’re craving for mystery and thrills, skip this one.

The Age of Adaline (2015)

The Age of Adaline (2015) - Movie Review
Directed by: Lee Toland Krieger
Country: USA

Movie Review: What an irksome trip, spanned over many decades, is presented to us in “The Age of Adaline”, an epic fantasy romance directed by the young talent, Lee Toland Krieger, who did a much interesting job in the more realistic and charming “Celeste and Jesse Forever”. Mr. Krieger takes on a script, written by J. Mills Goodloe and Salvador Paskowitz, which is not so original as desired, and with the help of a narrator, tells us the long life of Adaline Bowman (Blake Lively), a woman born in 1908 who became ageless at the age of 29, after being mysteriously hit by a lightning bolt during a car accident. This unexplainable episode forces her to constantly change identities and move out to cover her secret. Her daughter, Fanning, becomes the only person who knows the truth, aging as her mother remains young and knowledgeable. The narrative restarts in a New Year’s Eve party, this time with no voiceover, where Adaline, now under the name of Jennifer Larson, falls in love with Ellis Jones (Michiel Huisman). Tired of running away, she struggles with herself from not being able to embrace this genuine love with all her heart. After a period of caution and hesitation, she decides to give Ellis a chance. However, she will be caught off guard when she meets Ellis’ father, William (Harrison Ford), her former lover at a young age. Playing with the timeline and fortuity, “The Age of Adaline” will bring up to mind other related films, cases of “Benjamin Button” and “Big”. I can assure you that it doesn’t do better than any of them, relying on a too schematic structure, a too invariable tone that tilts to sweetness, and a few too obtuse scenes that help dragging the film down. The result? It’s too short to deserve attention.

Beyond the Reach (2014)

Beyond the Reach (2014) - Movie Review
Directed by: Jean-Baptiste Leonetti
Country: USA

Movie Revciew: “Beyond the Reach” goes beyond the reality, failing to pass the exam due to its far-fetched situations and rushed solutions in its closing scenes. The French Jean-Baptiste Leonetti directs from a script by Stephen Susco (“The Grudge”) based on the 1972 well-regarded novel “Deathwatch” from Robb White. After a modest debut in 2011 with “Carré Blanc”, the filmmaker gives a giant step towards Hollywood, directing two celebrated actors, one from the old school, Michael Douglas (“Basic Instinct”, “The Game”, “Traffic”), and one showing much potentiality, Jeremy Irvine (“War Horse”, “The Railway Man”). The film is frustratingly trivial and never comes to something original, playing the traditional cat-and-mouse game with the same old clichés and a shameful lack of coherence and lucidity, essential conditions for it to become plausible and enjoyable. Douglas confidently plays the malicious Madec, giving life to a boastful, prosperous man who goes on a hunting trip across the blazing Mojave Desert in August. For the purpose, he hires Ben (Irvine), most likely the best guide in the state, who is fated to play simultaneously the victim and the hero. Equipped with a stylish Mercedes, a modern rifle, explosives, and all the communication needed to close his millionaire deals, the contemptuous Madec manifests an uncontrollable sadistic side after shooting accidentally a man whom he has mistaken for an animal. The best way he finds to deal with the circumstance is by incriminating the reddish Ben, who will fight to survive with no clothes nor water under the torrid sun. Invoking Peckinpah and J. Pakula, “Beyond the Reach” carries out an extremely risible defeat of a villain (a slingshot, really?), as well as the most ridiculous escape from a prison ever (anybody heard a helicopter?).


The Girl Is in Trouble (2014)

The Girl Is in Trouble (2014) - Movie Review
Directed by: Julius Onah
Country: USA

Movie Review: “The Girl Is in Trouble” is a discouraging crime thriller that is by turns tedious, farcical, and dull. The story starts with August (Columbus Short), a Nigerian iPod DJ (better joke of the film), being fired from Manhattan's Lower East Side club ‘The Void’. It was in this same club that he met Signe (Alicja Bachleda), a Swedish singer-guitarist who is now begging for his help in a complicated case involving a murder. The victim of the murder in question is August’s best friend, Jesus Guzman, a Dominican drug dealer whose tough brother, Angel (Wilmer Valderrama), swears revenge. The crime, enveloped by blurry mystery, took place in the luxurious apartment of the womanizer Nicholas (Jesse Spencer), a pompous rich guy who, at that time, was accompanied by Signe, enjoying an unrestrained night of excesses. Certainly, one of them is the killer, but with the word of one against the other, who is telling the truth? First-time Nigerian-American director and co-writer, Julius Onah, attempts to a stylish approach, but the result was exactly the opposite. The junky messages occasionally popping up on the screen are superfluous, and the camera moves undecidedly and ungraciously. It felt like the homework hadn’t been done, and moreover, all this was aggravated by the use of incongruous tones, lame storytelling, unconvincing performances, and very basic dialogues. Music is visibly of great importance to Onah, and still the score didn’t work at all, so intrusive it was. The obnoxious characters were so uninteresting that I could only sneer. Everything went too bad in this inexpressive tale of international contours set in Downtown NYC.

Jupiter Ascending (2015)

Jupiter Ascending (2015) - Movie Review
Directed by: Andy and Lana Wachowski
Country: USA

Movie Review: Another action sci-fi adventure from the creators of “Matrix”, Lana and Andy Wachowski, was recently released but, unfortunately, the result is too feeble to recommend. Characterization and production design stood out as the strongest aspects of “Jupiter Ascending”, a film that very early made me lose the interest in its super-stuffed plot and confusing battles. Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum star in a distant future, respectively as Jupiter Jones and Craig Wise. She leads a very boring life, cleaning houses for wealthy people, but soon realizes that her fate is to save the universe from evil hands, and consequently her life is at stake. He is an ex-soldier who will do whatever he can to protect her during the mission. The ones to be defeated belong to the Abrasax family; voracious brothers Titus and Balem, who fight for reigning after the death of their queen mother. You can find a panoply of flamboyant stuff in “Jupiter Ascending” – flying boots, explosions filling up the screen, colorful rays crossing the menacing skies, huge fancy spaceships, even talkative Godzillas with wings among other ridiculous creatures – but unfortunately these aspects weren’t enough to make it a better film. It’s pretty evident to me that the Wachowskis are going through a creative crisis, and I’m not referring to particular details but as a film in its whole, consecutively abdicating of smarter plots and memorable approaches in order to satisfy the easy consumerism of the genre they love most. I made an effort to like this but end up missing “Matrix” more, or “V for Vendetta” whose screenplay they wrote. Opposing to Jupiter, the Wachowkis’ career is descending at the speed of light. Therefore, urgent measures are now needed to save their universes.

Redirected (2014)

Redirected (2014) - Movie Review
Directed by: Emilis Velyvis
Country: Lithuania / UK

Movie Review: “Redirected” is a gangster action comedy film made in Lithuania and UK, being the sophomore feature from Emilis Velyvis who, together with Jonas Banys, also wrote this rambunctious tale. Vinnie Jones stars as Golden Pole, the feared leader of a Londoner gang, whose esteemed ring and money becomes the aim of three greedy friends: Johnny, Tim and Ben, who just added the ‘unavailable’ Michael to their dangerous stratagem at the last minute. After seizing the ‘stuff’, the plan was to flee to Malaysia but the eruption of an Icelandic volcano thwarted their intentions, and the boys are deviated to Lithuania. Apart from the angered Michael, who was literally kidnapped to get into the plane, leaving his girlfriend in England, the other thieves just enjoy their time, partying in a local nightclub. This draws the attention of local thugs and corrupted cops, who simultaneously with the robbed gang arrived from London, will try to grab the dough and butcher its holders. The overcooked plot revealed too much impracticable coincidences and the sequence ‘caught-beaten up-captivity-escape’ was used so many times that before the first 30 minutes we’re already fed up and asking for something new. Speaking of new, “Redirected” was probably the most unoriginal film I saw last year, being a cheap imitation of the mood created by Guy Ritchie in his successful gangster films (“Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels”, “Snatch” – Vinnie Jones are on both) with the aggravating factor of adding some allegedly humorous scenes that make us more disgusted than pleased. With an anarchy that feels phony, Velyvis selected a lousy way to pass a horrible image of his country.

The Interview (2014)

The Interview (2014) - Movie Review
Directed by: Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen
Country: USA

Movie Review: “The Interview” is another cheap comedy taken from the minds of Seth Rogen (story writer, director, producer and actor), Evan Goldberg (story writer, director and producer) and Dan Sterling (story and screenplay writer, executive producer, and a very small role as Tech Specialist). Besides Rogen, a staple in today’s Hollywood American comedies, the film also stars James Franco, Randall Park, Diana Bang and Lizzy Caplan. Dave Skylark (Franco) is a famous interviewer for a sensationalist TV program called ‘Skylark Tonight’, where celebrities use to make ‘shocking’ revelations about themselves. His pal and show producer, Aaron Rapoport (Rogen), becomes unsatisfied with the course of the show, after finding a former college colleague whose contempt for the type of content presented made him feel bad. Taking advantage of the crisis involving North Korea and the US, Dave and Aaron are incited by CIA’s agent Lacey (Caplan) to kill the supreme leader, Kim Jong-un (Park), after they have been invited to conduct an interview with him. Once in communist land, the two friends will opt for divergent paths: Dave will take the side of the venerated president, while Aaron keeps faithful to the mission but deeply in love with Sook (Bang), a North Korean official. I found Franco’s character extremely annoying, and one more time, Rogen and company make the abhorrent win over cleverness. The type of humor presented in “The Interview” seems created by naughty kids, relying on gags about stinking penis, buttholes and poo. There is some action too, with a tiger attack being the most ridiculous scene. Too much polemic over this release, and the truth is that the world doesn’t gain anything with its idiotic story.