Commentaries

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

FARR BABIES THRILLER



THE ONES BELOW

Film Review by Fiore 


In today’s world, the feminist agenda praises abortion, and elevates it to sacramental status. Statistically, more babies have been killed through abortion than people in all the world wars combined.  With these realities, it is difficult to fathom a couple willing to kill to have a child; but that is the premise behind THE ONES BELOW.  It’s a particularly captivating thriller from the pen, and under the directorship of David Farr.

Kate and Justin are expecting their first child.  It’s taken seven years of marriage before the decision was made, mainly due to Kate’s reluctance to be a mother.  New neighbors move in the apartment below, and they, too, are having a child.  Jon and Theresa are a mixed couple; he is British and she is German, but he spent a good portion of his life in China, following their beliefs and traditions.  This brings an air of mystery to the couple which Kate finds intriguing.

During their first getting-to-know-you encounter, Theresa has an accident, falls down the stairs and loses her baby.  Accusations fly and animosities build between the couples until an amiable peace is achieved – or so it seems.

THE ONES BELOW stars David Morrisey as Jon.  He is enigmatic as a man driven to have an heir and believing in a transition, water based form of justice.  Laura Birn plays his wife Theresa, whose appearance shifts from elegant to demonic, depending on the scene.  Clemence Possy is Kate, a woman who’s first child is not her biggest fear.  She deals with a dysfunctional mother, a dead brother and an estranged father.  Justin, her husband, played by Stephen Campbell Moore (yes, they have the dreaded three named people in the UK as well) appears to be Kate’s only anchor in an otherwise chaotic world.


    KEY SCENES TO LOOK FOR:


1.      The discovery of the nursery

2.      The accident

3.      The revelation

Farr crafts an evenly paced thriller with the help of Editor Chris Wright.  While most British films tend to draw out in the second act, and this one follows the trend, there is a clever time-shift edit for the conclusion that more than compensates.  Director of Photography Ed Rutherford shoots THE ONES BELOW in much the same fashion as the thrillers of Hollywood's Golden Era; shifting from long to medium shots, with the occasional cant camera angle. 


While the film’s climax is predictable, one is never quite sure how it will unfold until the final reel.  It makes THE ONES BELOW well worth a look.

THE GRADE FOR THE ONES BELOW = B

Sunday, May 15, 2016

MILLENIAL SPRING BREAK



SUNDOWN

Film Review by Fiore 


Pantelion Company is releasing a film with two major purposes; to highlight Mexican filmmakers and to spotlight dance DJs.  Let’s address them in order.

Director Fernando Lebrija and Screenwriter Miguel Tejada-Flores (yes, there are dreaded three name people even south of the border) present a movie that is a combination of BEACH BLANKET BINGO and HANGOVER.  The plot is a rehash of a multitude of spring break movies, with a cutting adult edge.  Unfortunately, the adult edge, outside of sexual misunderstandings, is questionable.

Logan and Blake, played by Devon Werkheiser and Sean Marquette respectively, opt to ignore parent’s admonitions and directives and scoot off to Puerto Vallarta for spring break.  Their quest for a hedonistic adventure fails dismally when Logan loses his family heirloom Rolex watch to a minor Mexican bandit.  Here, the story dips, as Jordi Molla, playing the antagonist, is no one to be taken seriously.  He would be more fitting in a PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR movie.  In typical teen spring break flicks, the boys opt to regain the Rolex, have their sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, and still escape from Mexico in one piece, all while finding the meaning of true love.

Added into this predictable template comedy are Camilla Belle as Logan’s love interest, and Silverio Palacios, who is quite notable as Chuy, as hustling cab driver, related to everyone in town.

KEY SCENES TO LOOK FOR:

1.      The Rolex showdown

2.      The morning after discovery

3.      The dognapping

As stated above, the second primary purpose for this film is to highlight dance music and the DJs who create nightclub fervor.  Steve Aoki, Paul Oakenfold, Chris Lake and Adrian Lux all make cameo roles in SUNDOWN.  The DJs only appear as themselves, spinning the turntables, just as bands appeared with Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon in the BEACH BLANKET summer flicks of generations past.  Of course, those films were wholesome fun and didn’t need transvestite humor to carry a sequence.  

In addition to the spinmeisters, SUNDOWN features the music of Kaskade, Above & Beyond, Parachute Youth, Mana, Los Jao, Tokimosta, Bloodybeatroots, Fedde Le Grand, Hardwell and the Mexican Institute of Sound.  This is certainly not a Woodstock line-up.


If you’re into the nightclub dance scene, there will be value in seeing some top spinners and mixers doing their thing.  If you’re looking for a refreshing new spring break comedy, SUNDOWN can’t provide it.  Most of the film has a ‘been there done that’ feel with a few raunchy scenes thrown in for a more salient appeal to the current R-rated comedy crowd.  Perhaps I’m getting a bit too old to appreciate spring break movies, but this one was not my cup of tea.

THE GRADE FOR SUNDOWN = D.


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

LATEST MARVEL FLICK SERVES AS TRANSITION TO DISNEY



CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR

Film Review by Fiore 


It is with trepidation and remorse I write this review for CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR.  It’s not because the movie is poor.  Just the opposite; it is exceptionally well made and entertaining.  It is, however, the last Marvel superhero script written before the Disney take-over.  This final script, by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, was not completely done when Disney arrived, so it does contain a few Disney agenda inserts, and they are definitely noticeable; like the demonization of American values, and the righteousness of the noble savage.  I fear the excellence shown in the Marvel films, particularly in the Captain America series, will now be reduced to Disney-esque storylines and social commentary.   

Viewers can already spot aspects in CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR.  Paul Rudd as Ant-Man is once again more comedic than adult graphic novel in content; a similar mien is established for the new version of Spider-Man; and, though this script has him as correct in concept, Cap himself is portrayed as a representative who will not kowtow to unified diplomacy as he opts to retain his status as a symbol of American justice.  This, in only a way Disney could pervert, makes him the bad guy.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR begins with the aftermath of THE AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON.  In this beginning, the film bears a striking resemblance to DC’s BATMAN V. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE.  You simply can’t spend millions of dollars on the SFX guys to drop cities out of the sky and not expect people to be injured.  Nevermind the Avengers saved the world from two virtual take-overs, people were hurt or killed in the battles and therefore the superhero team must be held accountable.  These are favorite themes of progressive liberals:  there is always someone accountable (usually a patsy, and never the right person), and wars can be fought and won without civilian casualties.

The governments of the world, or at least 117 of them, decide they can appoint a committee to oversee the Avengers and they will decide when and where their talents are used.  Tony Stark, on a guilt trip over the creation of Ultron is all too eager to sign the accord and remove himself from responsibility for the group’s actions.  Sounds very similar to our current administration, doesn’t it?  Captain America wants no part of it.  He is ingrained with American values and exceptionalism, and they serve as his moral compass.  It is a good one, and others in the group agree with him.  Thus, we have a chasm in the world of superheroes which results in a momentous battle between, essentially, the word vs. the spirit of the law.  

Luckily for all involved, both Thor and Hulk have mysteriously disappeared.  Either one could have tipped the scales in this conflict, but the film did have a budget.  This allows Directors Anthony and Joe Russo to concentrate on the feud brewing between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers over the past two Avenger films.

The plot becomes more complicated when Bucky Barnes, the Winter Soldier, is thrown into the mix.  Stark wants him prosecuted in lynch mob style, while Rogers is determined to stand by his friend.  While Bucky is made the issue, the crux of the problem is really the Avengers autonomy. 

Back for another go-round are: Robert Downey, Jr as Iron Man; Chris Evans as Captain America; Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow; Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye; Paul Bettany as Vision; Don Cheadle as War Machine; Sebastian Stan as Bucky; Paul Rudd as Ant-Man; Elizabeth Olsen as the Scarlet Witch; and Anthony Mackie as Falcon.  New to the mix are  Tom Holland as Spider-Man, and Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther.  Non superhero stars include William Hurt, Martin Freeman, Hope Davis, Alfre Woodard and Marisa Tomei, who is poised to give a whole new persona to Aunt May.

                                                                           

KEY SCENES TO LOOK FOR:

1.      The opening battle in Lagos  
2.      Chasing Bucky  
3.      Airport tag-team match


CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR boasts spectacular SFX, though a chink in Marvel’s armor is showing.  The fight sequences are more stilted. Usually, the stars are filmed in key action shots, and then the animators connect the shots to make the sequence.  In this movie more than previous endeavors, there is a noticeable difference between the two forms.  It is slight, but it is definitely there.  Trent Opaloch served as Cinematographer, while Owen Paterson handled the production design.  Both are quality craftsmen and with a budget upwards of $250 million, they should not have been hampered.  Hopefully, it is not a harbinger of things to come.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR also serves as a nice set-up for ANT-MAN 2, THE BLACK PANTHER and the new SPIDER-MAN redo.  It also makes way for Chris Evans’ exit.  But the writing is already on the wall for Marvel’s future under Disney.  In this film, the big drag down battle at the airport is not something Geoff Johns would write, but rather something Vince McMahon would orchestrate for Monday Night Raw.  In fact, the entire scene, given prominence in the movie’s trailers, serves as the film’s comic relief.

Ant-Man and the new Spider-Man are showing a more humorous, very family friendly twist as the first true creations, along with Black Panther, under the Disney umbrella.  Black Panther serves to bolster the minority participation, and box office, while representing an independence free from vengeance and based on a social democratic ideology.  All hail Disney!  This is obvious banality; the stuff you will not see on Netflix’s DAREDEVIL.

So, we close the book on Marvel’s filmmaking, and turn the reigns over to the mouse.  The kids will love it.  This film actually had key dialogue scenes, and a development of argument in its script.  However, in any film, that takes time, and many of the youngsters were getting antsy in the theatre.  Most muttonheads want superheroes joking and whirling around and not stories.  I fear the upcoming Marvel movies will offer just that.





THE GRADE FOR CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR = B