Commentaries

Friday, March 24, 2017

LIFE



ANOTHER GOOD MONSTER FLICK

Film Review by Fiore 


I must commend the Hollywood studios.  This year already, they released some fine monster movies:  THE GREAT WALL; KONG: SKULL ISLAND; SPLIT; DON’T KILL IT; THE VOID; and now LIFE.  LIFE boasts an all-star cast, and very talented folk behind the camera.

Years ago, technically I should say decades, a schlock-b sci-fi film found a following and became a cult classic.  It was IT: TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE.  It was a regular on Chilly Billy’s Chiller Theatre.  It was about a trip to Mars that ends in disaster.  A research space crew returns to Earth, unaware a Martian creature is a stowaway on their ship.  The creature systematically eliminates the crew members, as they desperately attempt to kill the creature before they land on Earth.  LIFE is basically the same story, but with better SFX and a bigger budget.

For LIFE, it’s best to explore the technicians first.  Seamus McGarvey is Director of Photography.  He is best known for his work with Director Ridley Scott, but within the past few years, he has worked on two FIST OF FIORE AWARD winners: Gareth Edward’s GODZILLA; and Ben Affleck’s THE ACCOUNTANT.  His work in LIFE is exemplary, as many of his visuals highlight the film’s tension.  There is one sequence of the crew fighting the creature in an air tunnel, that is a bit confusing, mainly due to the zero gravity elements; but, overall, the visuals are great.

Nigel Phelps is Production Designer and responsible for bringing the monster, “Calvin”, to life (pun intended).   He worked on Brad Pitt’s WORLD WAR Z, the TRANSFORMER movie series and THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR, with Jet Li, which featured abdominal snowmen, dragons and harpies in addition to mummies.  He also served as Art Director for Tim Burton’s BATMAN.

Jon Ekstrand pens an epic score.  The end credit theme is worth sitting through until the end.  It is the sixth time Ekstrand collaborated with Director Daniel Espinosa, but it is his most ambitious work to date.

1.1        KEY SCENES TO LOOK FOR:

1.      THE RAT
2.      BATTLE IN THE AIR LOCK
3.      ROD SERLING ENDING


An orbiting space station is due to receive a capsule module returning from an eight-month sample gathering expedition on Mars.  Among the samples, the scientist find life; a single cell, constructed like the cells on Earth.   This one, however, begins to show extremely aggressive behavior and soon begins to grow at a rapid pace.

The scientists on the space station are: Jake Gyllenhaal; Ryan Reynolds; Rebecca Ferguson; Olga Dihovichnaya; Hiroyuki Sanada; and Ariyon Bakare.

LIFE takes about 22 minutes to set up the premise and characters.  During that time, the movie drags; however, if you make it through the warm-up.  The rest is a thrill ride.

Let’s look at the report card for LIFE:


ACTION = A
CINEMATROGRAPHY = A
SOUND/MUSIC = A
EDITING = B
LIGHTING = B
SCRIPT = B
SFX = A
ACTION = A



LIFE was not given a press screening.  This is usually done when the studio has little faith in the film’s box office clout.  On this one, they were wrong.  See it on the big screen.  It’s worth the price of admission.

THE QUIET HOUR



ALIENS, WITHOUT ALIENS

Film Review by Fiore 


Until I watched THE QUIET HOUR, I thought M. Night Shyamaylan was the only director to make a movie about alien space invaders, and never show the aliens.  The original version of SIGNS, with Mel Gibson and Joaquim Phoenix, had no encounters between protagonists and  aliens.  Test preview audiences complained, and to satisfy studio executives, Shyamaylan inserted a scene featuring a stunt man in a demented frog costume to heightened the film’s tension.  All other scenes of the invasion where detailed through radio news reports.  Now, Director and Writer Stephanie Joalland does Shyamaylan one better.  She has no aliens in her film at all, and uses the invasion of Earth only as a subplot to her tale.

THE QUIET HOUR opens with Earth already conquered.  The only thing we see of the aliens are large cone-shaped ships hovering over the land.  The invaders have come to mine all the ores and minerals from the planet.  They have effectively eliminated most of mankind.  Only small clumps of survivors remain.  For two hours during the day, the alien mining and patrol ships return to the cones for refueling.  It is during this time, the humans who are left can safely move around.

Sarah Connelly, played by Dakota Blue Richards, is managing well, given the circumstances.  She maintains a small garden for food, powers her home with solar panels and cares for her brother Tom, played by Jack McMullen, who is blind.  Her world becomes complicated when Jude, played by Karl Davies, shows up unexpectedly.  He is pursued by a motley crew of survivalists played by Brigitte Millar, James Browne, Zeb Moore and Liam O’Brian.  The intruders are more this ragtag group of liars, than beings from space.

1.1        KEY SCENES TO LOOK FOR:

1.      SHOW DOWN IN THE BARN
2.      THE TRIP TO THE RIVER


THE QUIET HOUR was made in Ireland, and as with most Irish films, it tends to move at a very slow pace.  It was only the hope of seeing some aliens that kept me watching.  Alas, there were none.  The decisions made by Sarah and Tom are so questionable, one wonders how they managed to survive this long.

Director of Photography David Knight, shoots THE QUIET HOUR with a grainy filter and gloomy lighting scheme.  The overall look is one of despair.  Editor Michael Freedman does an excellent job keeping the film under ninety minutes, but even his skills can’t help move the story along.





Let’s take a look at the report card for THE QUIET HOUR:

ACTING = C
CINEMATOGRAPHY = B
SOUND/MUSIC = C
EDITING = B
LIGHTING = C
SCRIPT = D
SFX = D
ACTION = C

All told, THE QUIET HOUR is worth a look if you enjoy movies where the alien invasion is merely a subplot, and man’s inhumanity toward his fellow man is the central theme.  Personally, I would have like aliens.


3.       

Thursday, March 23, 2017

BOKEH



MEN VS WOMEN

Film Review by Fiore 


BOKEH, an Icelandic Indie, penned and directed by Geoffrey Orthwein and Andrew Sullivan, is a snapshot film that can be interpreted as a scathing attack on men and women’s roles in culture.  I’m certain Sullivan and Orthwein wanted to display man’s inner dependence on his fellow man in the apocalyptic tale, but  instead, they unroll the horrible distinction our modern society has imposed on male and female roles, fostering the notion of male dominance in logic and common sense and the female constant craving for emotional security.

It stars Maika Monroe as Jenai and Matt O’Leary, as Riley,  in what is essentially a two-man stage presentation on celluloid.  Jenai and Riley saved money and embark on a vacation in Iceland.  I’m not sure how many people put Iceland on the top of their vacation lists, but perhaps the happy couple are huge Sigur Ros fans. 

On the first night of their idyllic escapade,  Jenai is awakened at 3:20am.  She looks out the window in time to see a spectacular nighttime light show across the sky.  When she wakes in the later morning, she and Riley are the only people alive.  Now, one might easily assume the dawning of the zombie apocalypse, or an alien invasion or an epidemic outbreak of biological origins.  But, no; everyone else is just gone.  No monsters, no walking dead, no debilitating disease.  While this scenario may occasionally find safe harbor in our own reminiscences, when it actually occurs to Jenai and Riley, their interactions become the tale’s focal point.  

Riley is constantly looking a t the practical.  How to make the best of the situation, and enjoy its perks.  Jenai constantly consistently thinks the tank is half empty.  She whines, moans and embarks on long introspective searches for meaning in a meaningless scenario.  She takes solace in Riley, but even that is short-lived.

1.1        KEY SCENES TO LOOK FOR:

1.      FLIRTING BY THE HOLY RELICS
2.      RUINING NAP TIME
3.      THE NIGHTTIME LIGHT SHOW

While Riley is baffled by the situation, he is content living for Jenai; attempting to make her happy and spend his time with her.  She is not so practical.   Though she has a man who is devoted to her, she desires more.  He revels in having the ability to live anywhere, while she feels they are imposing.  He likes selecting any vehicle he wants to drive, she thinks its stealing.  He upgrades his wardrobe, she feels like a thief.  He sets up a date night complete with dress up and a homecooked meal, she starts an argument.  It just shows you don’t need the end of the world to realize the propaganda fed to women by feminists and progressive liberals, served no purpose save to turn them into raving lunatics.

Jenai can’t cook, or clean the house.  Riley handles all those duties.  He also does the shopping and keeps a semblance of time in a world where time does not exist.  Jenai wants to sleep all day.  Unfortunately, this set up is reflective of today’s relationships, where men are becoming more self-sufficient and women can offer little of value to the partnership. 

BOKEH is a snapshot film because it offers a series of scenes with no developing plot, no concluding climax and no resolution.  While the story allows for a bit of philosophical and religious debate, it draws no inference in either the debate nor the story.
 
Let’s take a look at the report card for BOKEH:

ACTING = C
CINEMATOGRAPHY = C
SOUND/MUSIC = D
EDITING = D
LIGHTING =C
SCRIPT = F
SFX = D
ACTION = D




BOKEH  is released on VOD and PPV services this weekend.    Gather a cache of friends with a predominant mix of females to males, voluminous amounts of adult libations, and sit and watch BOKEH.  The discussions afterward should make for raucous times indeed, especially from the women, who will try to alibi female behavior in this work.  Could be a night of laughs.