Commentaries

Friday, May 18, 2018

BLOOD AND GLORY



Film Review by FIORE

BLOOD AND GLORY, an Indie film from South Africa, brought to you by Sean Else, who wrote and directed, is a template sports tale, but plays exceptionally well thanks to solid acting, cinematography and editing.  It’s already two years old, as it was released overseas in 2016; however, it will make its American premiere this weekend.  The version I was able to see was the International cut.  I enjoyed this film, even though the plot was predictable.

These types of films are fairly common.  Burt Reynolds in THE LONGEST YARD, probably one of his best, Sly Stallone in VICTORY, and myriad others tell the tale of prisoners who seek their freedom, or a portion of it, through a challenge game.  In BLOOD AND GLORY, the combatants are the British and the Boers, and the game is rugby.

At the risk of alienating my readers across the pond, I must say most European sports are lame.  They are incredibly boring and nonsensical, especially soccer, which pundits have been trying to push here in America for decades.   While it is effective for deleting excessive energy from little tikes, is does not capture American athletic spirit. Rugby is the exception.  It’s a grueling sport played by craggy men and not dancers in shorts.

Grant Swanby is Colonel Swannel, a maniacal tyrant who runs a prison camp for the British.  Swannel thinks the Boers are sub humans and should be treated worst than dogs; much like how progressives in this country view conservatives.  But, Swannel has a passion for rugby, so much so, that he used his influence to bring Lieutenant Butler into his camp.  Butler is serving in the King’s army, but is also one of the nation’s premiere rugby players.  Butler is played by Rudy Halgryn.

Into this caldron, William Morkel, played by Stian Bam, is thrown.  Morkel, a simple farmer, is witness to the senseless slaughter of his wife and son.  When he attempts retaliation, he is captured and sent to Swannel’s camp.  The prisoners are subjected to torture and ridicule, but when a young lad is threatened with death, Morkel parlays the boy’s life into a rugby match between the prisoners and the guards.  Patrick Connolly and Altus Theart co-star as key prisoners.  Morkel earns a sympathetic follower in Katherine, played by Charlotte Sal, the daughter of the island’s governor.  

Once the game begins, you can readily envision the outcome and the film’s conclusion, but it’s still a hoot to watch.  Director of Photography Adam Bentel and Editor Quinn Lubbe combine for enough action and tension to mesmerize the viewer regardless of predictability.  In a rare combination, Lubbe is also the music scorer for the film.  His tunes are the closest to Rammstein you’ll find in movie soundtracks. 

BLOOD AND GLORY throws cold water on the narrative prejudice occurs between races.  There isn’t physical difference between the British and the Boers, yet the level of cruelty between them is brutal.  The only hatred more intense is that of Canadians against American hockey players.

BLOOD AND GLORY offers nothing new to a story we’ve all seen numerous times, but the production and thespian endeavors make it worthwhile.  It’s a fun film, with a sports background, that, thankfully, isn’t soccer.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

DEADPOOL 2



Film Review by FIORE

DEADPOOL 2 is one of the funniest movies I’ve seen this year.  I laughed from the opening to the closing reel.  All the items that made the first film hilarious, return in the second, but are augmented to ridiculous proportions.  The movie begins with a new over the top sequence before playing into a parody of Maurice Binder’s famous James Bond openings. By this time, the movie had me hooked and I was along for the laughs.

At the risk of offending my comic book friends, let me state DEADPOOL is a lame, secondary superhero.  If the character wasn’t so ribald, no one would notice him. The fact he scoffs at the very genre he inhabits is the only thing that separate him from other b-list superheroes.  To take it even one step further, the entire concept of ‘superhero’ is ludicrous.  Most are mutants, or aliens purporting the concept that something is out there better than man.  In this sense, the only true superhero is Batman, but, I digress.  

Director David Leitch came in late to the project, after initial director Tim Miller, who directed the first episode, ran into conflicts with star Ryan Reynolds.  He claimed Reynolds just wanted a glossed-over, rubber stamp superhero film and he wanted something more edgy.  I guess he was attempting a Darren Aronofsky ploy, but even though DEADPOOL is not kid friendly, Disney did not want the character pushing the envelop more than its current status.  This all benefits Leitch, who has an unbridled hit on his hands.  Reynolds wrote the script, along with fellow scribes Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick.

Returning are Reynolds as Deadpool; Morena Baccarin as Vanessa; Leslie Uggams as Blind Al; and T. J. Miller as Weasel.  New to the cast are Josh Brolin as Cable; Zazie Beetz as Domino; Bill Skarsgard as Zeitgeist; Terry Crews as Bedlam; Lewis Tan, who was recently added to the cast of INTO THE BADLANDS, as Shatterstar; Eddie Marsan and Julian Dennison.  There are a plethora of cameo guest stars, and guest heroes and villains from the Marvel Universe.  This marks the second outing for Brolin in a superhero film in just one month.  Though not as intense as his portrayal as Thanos, his version of Cable is mellow enough to fit into the Disney cosmos and play foil to Deadpool.

Three editors cut DEADPOOL 2.  It shows.  The prison sequence is too long, and a bit too boring, slowing the movie.  It has a different feel than the rest of the film, making it apparent another vision was in play.  Cinematography by Jonathan Sela is yeoman, though most of the notable scenes are CGI and not camera oriented.  The soundtrack is noted for its use of older pop tunes, than Tyler Bates original score.

Deadpool should never be a superhero.  He is too much of a degenerate; but he is an awful lot of fun for those who appreciate the inanity of immortal charcoal briquettes, with ninja skills and regenerative powers The Lizard could only dream of; check out the scene with Cable and Blind Al after Deadpool’s first encounter with Juggernaut.  

Adults only!  Unless you are an incredibly poor parent.  DEADPOOL 2 will keep you laughing through most of its duration.  It’s only half way through the year, but it’s already making my list for Best Comedy. 

Saturday, May 12, 2018

BORN GUILTY



Film Review by FIORE

Anyone who has fallen victim to family, or friends burdening them with a heavy guilt trip will appreciate BORN GUILTY.  It is apparent Director, Writer, Editor and Producer Max Weller had guilt issues from his mother, girlfriend, best friend and co-workers throughout most his life.  He has taken those feelings, augmented them into preposterous proportions and presents them in a humorous fashion.

Marty Weiss (Jay Devore) is a successful ad campaign manager for kids’ products, but, he wants to play in the adult world, so when an opportunity comes along to snare an investment company, he is anxious to shift his talents.  The hurdles in his path are not creative, but rather guilt rulers.  His mother Judith (Rosanna Arquette) cries emergency for every little incident or technical foible.  His friend Rupert (Jay Klaitz) is a looney who can’t leave his apartment.  His girlfriend Leslie Picalo (Keesha Sharp) is a gold digger, using Marty as a springboard to launch her lingerie line.  And, his assistant Summer (Anna Lore) is anxious to file a sexual discrimination suit against him, but she wants to see if she can ignite a romance first.  Into this mess, comes Marty’s best friend Rawl Malone (David Coussins) who is a global hobo searching for the meaning of life.  The comedic anecdotes commence once Marty brainstorms the concept of using Rawl to deflect the constant interruptions from his mother.

The acting in BORN GUILTY is its greatest appeal.  Of special note are Coussins, who plays a burnt-out Yoda with aplomb, and Keesha, who branches out from her middle-class housewife routine on LEATHAL WEAPON and is delicious as a conniving sex kitten.

Working with Weller is Director of Photography Kenneth Stipe and David Ricard, who accompanied by his big band, provides the score.


BORN GUILTY is over the top, but this serves the comedy well.  Devore is a neurotic only someone in Tinseltown, or New York could appreciate.  There is a bit too much of Weller in his main character as the whole story is self-centered.  It’s moral of isolationism from the others in one’s life, is a philosophy only the humanists of Hollywood would appreciate.

That said, BORN GUILTY is sure to ring a true note with everyone who has had a guilt trip laid on their table.  The situations in BORN GUILTY will ring true and bring a smile to your face.  BORN GUILTY is currently available in select theatres and on VOD.