Commentaries

Friday, February 23, 2018

THE LODGERS




THE LODGERS IRISH HORROR

Film Review by FIORE

“A new level of horror”.  It seems to be the catch phrase all horror films are using today in an effort to draw attention to the title or set the work apart from others.  Often, it’s just a PR phrase, and nothing of note.  That seems to be the case with the latest independent horror film from Brian O’Malley, THE LODGERS.  I kept waiting for something horrible to happen in this film, but nothing ever did.  There was one cool sequence involving an underwater dimension, but a similar sequence was used in Jordan Peele’s GET OUT, so the scene had a been-there-done-that appeal.  While THE LODGERS contained little horrors for me, it could be due to a cultural distinction. 

THE LODGERS is an Irish movie.  The Irish film Board teamed with Epic Pictures for its release.  Written by David Turpin, it’s entirely possible the movie was more frightening to Irish folks; but for someone weened on ghosts, vampires and werewolves since elementary school, the occasional appearance of a nude corpse was not enough to cause me shivers.

The story unfolds in a quaint little town, around the time of World War I.  Rachel, played by Charlotte Vega and her twin brother Edward, played by Bill Milner, are reclusive siblings living in a large, though neglected mansion just on the outskirts of town.  They are a queer duo, prompting derision and loathing from the townsfolk.  When Sean, played by Eugene Simon, returns from the war, he is captivated with Rachel and attempts to draw her from the Gothic shadows of her mansion to the world outside, much to the chagrin of her brother. 
 
THE LODGERS isn’t so much scary as it is weird.  Halfway through the film, there is still an atmosphere of confusion to its premise and the tracking of the plot.  The acting and technical aspects of the film are all fine, save for the script, which is painstakingly slow and bereft of elements that comprise the horror genre. 

There have been several independent, foreign horror films released recently which have failed to impress me.  DAGUERROTTE TYPE, KILLING OF A SACRED DEER, and TEMPLE serve as examples.  These movies held chills for their native audiences, but I found nothing spine-tingling in any of them. 

So perhaps it’s a cultural thing.  Perhaps the Irish will find THE LODGERS scarier than I did; after all the film did capture three different awards on the film festival circuit.  So, if ye be tending to believe the blarney, then see THE LODGERS.  It may give you a chill. I think if you want to see a film about a family cursed by incest, you’re better watching the remake of THE CAT PEOPLE, with Malcolm MacDowell and Natasha Kinski.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

THE 15:17 TO PARIS



15:17 STALLS ON TRACKS

Film Review by FIORE

Clint Eastwood generally tells fine tales on celluloid.  He stubs his toe on THE 15:17 TO PARIS, providing a disjointed, often time nonsensical rambling story, far below his usual standards.  Frequently, the film seems rushed, as if not enough time was given to plot or character development in order to hit a deadline.

Admittedly, much conflict needed added.  The incident of three Americans stopping a Muslim terrorist from unleashing carnage on a Paris commuter train, takes about fifteen minutes to tell.  To build an entire three act play out of a quarter hour incident can be done, but much care and sophisticated filmmaking are required.  Eastwood doesn’t have either here and as a result, THE 15:17 TO PARIS falls flat.

Another drawback is the actual men involved in the incident, play themselves in the film.  Their acting is stilted, and the delivery of dialogue is forced and tense.  Using the real people is a note worthy gimmick, but these three needed more acting classes before tackling this film.  The majority of the movie utilizes child actors to show the three during their younger days, but even the child actors are not the cream of the crop.  The only advantage to use the real folk, is to utilize the authentic footage from the aftermath and the honors ceremony.

The Muslim terrorist, Ayoub, is played by Ray Corasani.  He is the film’s best performer, even though he does not have any dialogue lines and is restricted to guttural exclamations during battles.  Interestingly, while the words terrorist and terrorism are used in the movie, the word Muslim is not.  Alex Skarlatos, Anthony Sadler and Spencer Stone all play themselves.  Should any of the three opt to make acting a career, enrollment in the Lee Strasberg school would be wise. William Jennings, Bryce Gheisar and Paul-Mikel Williams play the heroes as children.  Jenna Fischer and Judy Greer play their moms.  They fit comfortably in Tinseltown’s current Women Warrior Agenda, depicting independent, confident and omniscient women, who have no need for men.

Dorothy Blyskal wrote the screenplay.  Her ideologies are transparent, and her dialogue delivery needs work.  Editor Blu Murray, realizing this short story is terribly extended, attempts to avoid the mundane by time-shifting sequences.  At times, it works, as in the beginning reel, but often, its an obvious ploy and distracting.  Tom Stern does yeoman duty with the cinematography. 



While I applaud Eastwood’s efforts to shine a spotlight on these three individuals, more time and care and love needed to be infused into the project.    The final 20 minutes of the film are enjoyable; it is painful sitting through the eighty minutes to arrive there.  It is not a particularly good film, and the political correctness and the agendas are too noticeable for any type of effectiveness.  See this one only when you are in a super-patriotic mood.

Friday, February 9, 2018

ONE LAST NIGHT



ONE LAST NIGHT ROM COM

Film Review by FIORE

Regular viewers of my award-winning film criticism TV show know I’m not a fan of romantic comedies.  They are the most cliched template plots in Tinseltown.  Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl again.  The Indie flick ONE LAST NIGHT, follows the same pattern, but I can say I made it to the end due to the film’s construction.  At the mid-point of ONE LAST NIGHT, the movie appears over.  Three act drama contained in the time it takes for a TV show.  Then, the film continues on a completely different, though tangent track for another 45 minutes.  Romantic comedies haven’t had original twists since BRINGING UP BABY featured a leopard and a dinosaur bone, but the obscure about face in ONE LAST NIGHT provides enough curiosity to allow even an old cynic like me to watch until the credits roll.

Written and Directed by Anthony Sabet, ONE LAST NIGHT concerns a first date between Alex and Zoe, played by Luke Brandon Field (another of the increasingly annoying three-named people) and Rachele Schank.  Their planned movie date turns horrendous when they attend a theatre ruled by a rude, dim-witted concession worker (Ali Cobrin) and a security guard with a Rambo complex (Brian Baumgartner).  After the disastrous first date, the two embark on a business venture with the same loonies who ruined the date.
The script is a vignette.  It never delineates the couple’s origins, nor the result of their business venture or romance.  As such, both tales leave loose ends for a sequel that is unmerited.



ONE LAST NIGHT has the feel of an Indie film.  Lighting is flat, and cinematography is yeoman in texture.  Still, the abrupt shift in the film will pique your interest and help make this mundane genre watchable.