See Happiness (1998) for what writer-director Oren Uziel was trying (and failing) to achieve.
Shimmer Lake tells the story of a bank robbery gone wrong, in reverse order. An interesting concept for this mystery crime drama / black comedy which focuses on the petty small town characters and their pathetic lives.
Sadly, the comedy and mystery crime were discordant, and very few jokes made me laugh. See Happiness (1998) for what writer-director Oren Uziel was trying (and failing) to achieve.
The biggest flaw, however, was that from the get-go we don’t care about the characters or follow the plot or even want to follow what is, on paper, an alright story. There was no way in to empathise or connect at the beginning of the film, merely a mess of stuff. Even the concept falls apart; the movie thinks it’s Memento or Pulp Fiction, but it really isn’t. The smug wink from one of the characters at the end was a bum note of smuggery. If told in the right chronological order, our response to this film would be, “okay, so…?”
Please ignore the 5.0 IMDb and 14% Rotten Tomatoes scores.
A man wakes up in a hospital bed, bandaged from head to toe, and with no memory or who he is. But when our nameless protagonist (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) learns that he is a wanted serial killer, something just doesn’t sit right, and he won’t stop until he finds out who he really is and what happened to him.
Awake is a tense, fast-paced crime mystery with twists. Rookie writer Elana Zeltser makes a solid if not ground-breaking screenplay debut. The script, whilst not as clever as Memento (1999) or as taut as Taken (2008), is well-written with believable plotting and dialogue. Our leads, Meyers and Francesca Eastwood, also really sell the film, although the acting from Malik Yoba (detective Frank Ward) had a tendency to veer off into TV movie territory.
Please ignore the 5.0 IMDb and 14% Rotten Tomatoes scores. This film is much better than that. Riveting, fast-paced, not overly obvious albeit not earth-shakingly original, this is a lovely little movie to spend 92 minutes with.
See the review for the first film in the trilogy here
seemed like an overlong episode of any … TV police show.
The Legacy of the Bones is the second in the Baztan trilogy based on the successful book series by Delores Redondo. This instalment sees our lead, Inspector Amaia Salazar (Marta Etura), return to her childhood home and try to solve a case that, once again, is inextricably linked to her own past. The evil seems intent on coming for her and her family.
The second film of a trilogy often sags. The reason is that it doesn’t really have a beginning or an end, it merely serves as a bridge for the first and last parts. However, the Baztan trilogy is more a serial than a series, each episode’s story connected to previous ones but a fresh story. Sorry, did I say “episode”? Whereas the first film, The Invisible Guardian, felt filmic in a good way, this seemed like an overlong episode of any good TV police show. Is that a bad thing? No. But it wasn’t a movie. The plot wasn’t substantial enough. I felt like I was watching a TV series. Which brings me back to the point: this trilogy is a serial of three separate stories, so the sag is not really understandable.
Good performances all round, great photography, good costume design, and the plot was well-rendered, although the lurch deeper into hocus pocus was silly. It’s hard to see how this is a movie. A big step down from the first film.
A female inspector, Amaia (Marta Etura), battles both her own demons and against a religiously-inspired serial killer whose lust for murder shows no sign up letting up.
Set in the haunting, rain-sodden countryside of the Basque Country, nature itself almost seems a character in its own right as embodied by the mythological “Invisible Guardian” of the forest. But Pan’s Labyrinth fantasy this is not; The Invisible Guardian is gritty, and gut-punchingly real.
The beautiful cinematography brings alive the unique culture and atmosphere of the Basque Country. The acting is first rate. The story was tightly plotted and interesting with shades of the Wallander books. This is the first of three films based on Delores Redondo’s books. Crime fiction fans should give it a go, it might be mildly entertaining for the general viewer.
… the script not so much careens off the tracks … as it blasts into outer space …
Eli (Charlie Shotwell) is a boy with a rare life-threatening autoimmune disease which effectively renders him “allergic to the world”, as one character puts it. His parents (played by Kelly Reilly and Max Martini) take him to a remote medical facility where renowned specialist Dr Horn (Lili Taylor) promises to save him. However, all isn’t as it appears, and Eli might not be in the safest place for him, after all.
This are-the-doctors-bad-or-is-it-all-in-the-boy’s-head thing worked very well for the first two thirds of the film. Sadly, the script not so much careens off the tracks in the final act, as it blasts into outer space with the most unlikely and film-destroying plot twist ever. A far less obvious twist, or no twist at all, would have rendered this film better.
Good acting, a tense film up until the last third, I can think of several endings that, whilst less twisty, would have been more in keeping with the tone of the film and done justice to it.
Two 30-ish year old childhood friends, Vaughn (Jack Lowden) and Marcus (Martin McCann), meet up for the first time in a few years for a weekend away in Scotland to celebrate Vaughn’s impending fatherhood; a kind of paternity stag do. Ironically, to hunt stags — all at Marcus’ expense. But when an incident happens, their trip is turned into a nightmare that which will change their lives forever.
There’s an awful sense of inevitability from the very start of the film, even before the truly shocking and gut-wrenching inciting incident. We know something awful is going to go down. The film gripped me with a suspense I haven’t felt for a while.
The cinematography was beautiful and the countryside oozes Britishness and is both beautiful and haunting.
Bullock … paddles her two young children up a certain creek …
Take 2008’s The Happening and 2018’s A Quiet Place, pop them in a blender with a pinch of Oscar (Sandra Bullock, John Malkovich) and a dash of randomness (British comic actor Tom Hollander, rapper Machine Gun Kelly, Bend It Like Beckham‘s Parminder Nagra), and voilà! An evil presence blown on the wind is causing people to kill themselves or each other (The Happening) when they look towards it (swapping A Quiet Place‘s sound for sight).
We follow Bullock as she paddles her two young children up a certain creek to an alleged haven. The film interweaves with the tale of how she came to be on this river.
Bird Box is a human drama of survival against odds.
Scary, emotionally terrifying, and thrilling, the blight feels real even though the full details are never spelt out. A wonderful movie, what M. Knight’s The Happening could have been.
… a lot of Patrick Stewart sitting around staring into space and smiling like an avuncular but semi-senile philosopher.
It’s been twenty years since Jean-Luc Picard retired from active duty. Haunted by dreams of his friend Data, who gave his life to safe Picard’s 20 years before, and the destruction of the planet Romulus, Jean-Luc has retired to the sanctuary of his idyllic vineyard to ponder the past. But his attempts at a peaceful existence are disrupted by the arrival of a mysterious guest.
There are a couple of very nice action sequences, and a lot of Patrick Stewart sitting around staring into space and smiling like an avuncular but semi-senile philosopher. And an old foe is hinted at. But nothing much happens. Episode One, “Remembrance”, felt like the first 15 minutes stretched to fill 46.
Is this your typical Trek? No. Does “Remembrance” hint at great things to come? Yes. Did it seem slightly pointless. Also, yes. A solid and entertaining, albeit uninspiring, opener.