Tag Archives: @THEFILMREVIEW

Netflix Film Review “Eli” (2019) #150WordReview

 … 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.

2/5

© 2020 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://cdn.collider.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/eli-movie-poster.jpg

Netflix Film Review “Time Trap” (2017)

… Goonies gone awry quickly becomes The Descent-with-teens …

A group of adolescent friends go on a jaunt to a hidden cave in the woods in order to find their missing teacher. It’s an accident waiting to happen, something the characters themselves point out several times. And yes, they inevitably do end up getting lost in the cave network themselves. But this Goonies gone awry quickly becomes The Descent-with-teens; what they find down in the dark is beyond any of their imaginations and will change their lives forever in ways they couldn’t conceive.

Time Trap is basically a B-movie which was shot on a limited budget of $1,000,000, a paltry amount — especially for a Sci-Fi flick. Yes, this is a sci-fi movie. However, the special effects weren’t bad at all, and the make-up was impressive, too. The acting wasn’t amazing. But despite being a bit teen movie, it worked.

The film felt like an over-extended episode, perhaps the pilot, of a 1990s Sci-Fi show. Which is both good and bad. Action, drama, thrills, but a total reset by the end of the episode. Which was a bit of a let-down.

Despite a lack of budget and a ’90s TV vibe, it was an absolute mind-bending pleasure. It dealt with huge themes, which totally shocked me. As pretentious as it sounds, I was reminded of Olaf Stapledon’s magisterial 1930 novel Last and First Men, an aeons-spanning epic like no other which inspired many, including the great Arthur C. Clarke. That really does sum up the themes hit upon in this movie. Awesome stuff. However, the film starts out with no hint of such a direction. It begins as a kind of teen adventure movie in the mould of the Goonies (which was meta-ly referenced by the characters themselves), but transforms into a truly terrifying science fiction horror. This tonal shift worked quite well; much better, in fact, than the campy tonal shift back to adventure comedy at the very end. This ending, a happy ending of sorts, felt like it thoroughly undermined the true mind-melting horror of what happened in the caves. Hence the “90s Sci-Fi show” vibe.

B movie, yes, but a true delight.

3/5

featured image from https://movieberry.com/static/photos/221962/3_midi.jpg

Netflix Film Review: The Hole In The Ground (2019) @SeanaKerslake @Netflix #HorrorMovie

100 word review here

A gut-churning slowburn … has her son really been replaced, or is it all in her own mind?

The Hole In The Ground is the remarkably well-accomplished debut feature from Irish writer-director Lee Cronin. Single mother Sarah (Seána Kerslake) has upped sticks to the remote Irish countryside with her eight year old son Chris (James Quin Markey). After Chris goes for a mysterious midnight stroll in the nearby forest, Sarah begins to notice disturbing changes in his character. Is this even her son at all? Cleverly, rather than Cronin have Chris’s behaviour deteriorate, the opposite occurs; where once he was sullen, withdrawn, and shy, he becomes calmly positive, controlled, and popular at school. But there’s just something off about this change of character, something that only a mother would notice, and I have to say wonderfully sold by young actor James Quin Markey. Seána Kerslake also convinces.

A gut-churning slowburn, this horror-thriller reminds me distinctly of 2014’s equally nerve-shredding The Honeymoon. It also shares DNA strands with The Babadook; has her son really been replaced, or is it all in her own mind? Just as in The Babadook, we start to fear for what this tormented mother might do to her own child, whilst also fearing that she is right.

The dank forest is beautifully shot and feels ancient, like nefarious creatures from Celtic myths might indeed dwell there, every tree seeming to have its own personality. The sinkhole in the centre of the wood projects an eerie and malevolent presence.

We are kept guessing until the very end: has Chris been replaced, or is his mother losing her mind? Credit again to Lee Cronin for eschewing any of the tempting and obvious potential twist-endings that the film could suggest. Rather, I found the ending befitting and equally horrifying. Without giving the game away, I can say that this family will never be quite the same again.

Genuinely disturbing, the psychological horror builds slowly but powerfully. How does it compare to other “forest horror” films? Fans of The Honeymoon should definitely watch this, fans of The Blair Witch Project might like it, and fans of Cabin Fever could probably give this movie a miss.

4/5

© 2020 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://image.tmdb.org/t/p/w1280/wTnFy6B5QCeRgjgCGBGlZaDESJ1.jpg

Netflix Film Review: The Hole In The Ground (2019) #100WordReview @SeanaKerslake @Netflix #HorrorMovie

A gut-churning slowburn … has her son really been replaced, or is it all in her own mind?

The Hole In The Ground is the remarkably well-accomplished debut feature from Irish writer-director Lee Cronin. Single mother Sarah (Seána Kerslake) has upped sticks to the countryside with her eight year old son Chris (James Quin Markey). After Chris goes for a mysterious midnight stroll in the nearby forest, Sarah begins to notice disturbing changes in his character. Is this even her son at all?

A gut-churning slowburn, this horror-thriller recalls 2014’s equally nerve-shredding The Honeymoon and shares DNA with The Babadook. Convincing central performances and potent sound design and cinematography.

We are kept guessing until the very end: has her son really been replaced, or is it all in her own mind? A true delight.

4/5

© 2020 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://image.tmdb.org/t/p/w1280/wTnFy6B5QCeRgjgCGBGlZaDESJ1.jpg

Netflix Film Review: The Secret @Netflix #NetflixReview

It’s like the guests are meant to be a spoof. I’m surprised they didn’t just get Armando Ianucci, Peter Serafinowicz, and that guy from Garth Merenghi to play the parts instead.

I don’t normally review films that aren’t new. But I just saw a film that was so outstanding, so unbelievable, and which moved me so profoundly, I just had to share it with you. I had to share… The Secret.

To coin a word, awfulsome: awesome in its awfulness.

Wow. Just… wow. Incredibly bad. I mean, what the heck!? I watched this at the behest of a colleague, and, sorry — WTF????? The fact that I’ve been reduced to the untermensch language of initialisms should show that no human words can express what this “film” is. A bestial scream of agony would probably articulate it well.

Firstly, how on earth did they manage to stretch literally one sentence into an entire ninety minute production???? “Whatever you think about will happen”. I kept expecting them to follow this sentence up with something, anything, but by the fifth minute I had already given up hope. Unreal how little substance there was. A 90 minute exercise in paraphrase. But people vehemently swear by The Secret, claiming it really works. Perhaps they believe this garbage because they’ve been brainwashed by hearing the same phrase, paraphrased, around six thousand times. Simple psychology; repeat the same thing over and over (and over) again, and you tend to start to believe it.

Secondly, how has this become a “phenomenon”? It’s very badly made, and totally ridiculous. I mean, where do I begin?

  • Laughable special effect “whoosh” flourishes every five seconds. Twinkly sounds, soft lighting that looks like it was added on Windows Movie Maker.
  • Talking heads/Experts who all look beyond insane: wild stare-y eyes, incredible haircuts, ridiculous teeth, and so on. It’s like the guests are meant to be a spoof. I’m surprised they didn’t just get Armando Ianucci, Peter Serafinowicz, and that guy from Garth Merenghi to play the parts instead.
  • And who are these guests? I mean, Google some of them and you’ll see what I mean. What. The. Eff!??! Crooks and fringe lunatics.
  • And what is with those titles: “metaphysician”, “visionary”!?!?!

WTF!!?! Sorry I keep saying that, but — WTF!?

The writers are surely having us on and rolling around in laughter behind the scenes, rubbing their diamond-encrusted ring-wearing hands, and spluttering “schmucks!”.

Some additional lowlights:

  • If you visualise cheques in the mail, you will literally receive cheques in the mail. No need to set up a business or get off your arse at all! But just so you don’t get carried away, the film-makers sagely advise us that we may still get the occasional bill apart from the cheques.
  • Medicine is useless. But chanting “cancer, cancer, go away” will surely destroy all metastasized growths.

I mean, sorry, The Secret was so cheap, so badly made, so idiotic, so ridiculous in every respect, the only thing this “film” deserves is the following sentence from me: whatever you do, please do NOT use “the secret” to attract free copies of “The Secret” to you…. (‘cos then they wouldn’t make money out of you) Deary me.

One fellow reviewer (on Netflix) said the following, and I think it’s hard to argue with him:

Sadly I wasted an entire 4 minutes of my life watching this utter tripe, before my own senses started to shut themselves down. Licking wasps or poking a massive bear in the face would result in less pain than having to sit through anymore of this new age, mumbo jumbo, hippy hokum. To Netflix: Can we introduce a rating system which allows us to score garbage content lower than 1 star? We could use this waste of hard drive space as a bench mark. For example, a terrible film would awarded 3 “The Secret” Turd Piles??

So why not one star, why two? Because it was so genuinely insane in every respect that it was actually marginally entertaining. And, despite the triteness of it, there is a nice core message: positivity of mind breeds further positivity. But it’s still turd.

2/5

featured image from https://readingraphics.com/uploads/2015/06/The-Secret_book1.jpg

review first published 8 October 2014

© 2014-2020 Bryan A. J. Parry

Netflix Film Review: P.S. I Love You (2007) @Netflix #NetflixReview @HilarySwank @GerardButler @LisaKudrow @MsKathyBates @Cecelia_Ahern

read the 100 word review here

the kooky humour is far less charming and funny than it thinks it is.

P.S. I Love You is a romantic comedy based on a quirky and compelling idea. A terminally ill husband, Gerry (Gerard Butler), arranges for ten surprise packages to be delivered to his wife Holly (Hilary Swank) in the months after his death. Think: posthumous and vicarious Bucket List. Based on Cecelia Ahern’s 2004 novel, the packages are Gerry’s way of helping his wife move on and live again.

Great idea, some genuinely moving sequences — all utterly undermined by the fundamental unbelievability of the acting and set-pieces. The husband’s better-than-Ed-Sheeran serenade is a stand-out moment of absurdity. Hilary Swank’s behaviour is more indicative of someone who’s just lost their cat — or a heel on her favourite shoes. And the kooky humour is far less charming and funny than it thinks it is. The best friend who suffers from self-diagnosed “rudeness” supplies most of the alleged comedy and gives us a not-in-the-least-bit tantalising “will-they-won’t-they” hook up with our grieving widow. Lisa Kudrow’s character (close friend Denise), whose whole shtick is kissing random guys to decide whether she’ll marry them or not in a kind of “does the tongue fit” twist on Cinderella, provides yet more flat comedy.

A disappointing effort from writer-director Richard LaGravenese whose previous screenplays include the wonderful The Fisher King and the beautiful The Bridges of Madison County. Perhaps he just isn’t as suited to working behind the camera as he is to working in front of the keyboard.

An odd film: it made me both tear up, and reach for the zapper. A flawed but potentially great film, P.S. I Love You‘s self-satisfied smugness, unbelievability and misplaced zaniness ruin it.

2/5

© 2017-2020 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://www.waitsel.com/actors/gerard_butler/ps_i_love_you-1.jpg

Netflix Film Review: No Good Deed (2014) @Netflix @thefilmreview @KermodeMovie @idriselba

Idris Elba is Colin, a charismatic and violent sociopathic criminal on the lam and winner of the Most Unbefitting Name Ever Award.

Idris Elba is Colin, a charismatic and violent sociopathic criminal on the lam and winner of the Most Unbefitting Name Ever Award. Whilst making his escape, he totals his car into a tree and legs it through the forest. The first house he stumbles upon is that of all-alone Terri (Taraji P. Henson) who is just putting her young kids down for the night. This charming stranger works his charisma, asks for help after his “accident”, and talks his way from the porch into the living room. Soon Terri is putty in his hands. But as they say, No Good Deed goes unpunished.

No Good Deed is a fairly standard crime thriller, but I mean that in the best way. It is gripping, entertaining, keeps us on the edge of our seats, but doesn’t really show us anything we haven’t seen before. Great performances from the small cast really sell this film and keep you engaged to the end.

There is one stand-out moment, however, an unexpected plot twist that made me choke on my coke and splutter, “Ohmigod, whuh!?”. The twist is really neat. But it isn’t so much clever, as the rest of the film is so run-of-the-mill, that you kind of don’t expect the twist at all. The twist is particularly effective as it isn’t done merely for the sake of it, as so often is the case, but actually has a punch which makes sense and gives an underlying logic which holds the picture together. I’ll stop there before I plot spoil.

All in all, a standard but very well-made and well-acted crime thriller which is a thoroughly enjoyable way to spend 84 minutes.

3/5

review originally published 14 September 2018

© 2018-2020 Bryan A. J. Parry

Netflix Film Review: Ghost Story (2017) @Netflix @ghoststorymovie #GhostStoryMovie


self-indulgent crap at its worst.

Starring Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara, this is A Ghost Story told from the perspective of the ghost. But unlike classic Oscar winner Ghost, where being a ghost is portrayed much like being alive, A Ghost Story paints a more realistic picture (if ghosts are realistic at all, which they aren’t): the ghost is silent, unable to effect change in the world, and robbed of all that made him a personality in life, such as voice, memory, and that dreamy Patrick Swayze quiff.

Ghost Story makes some interesting choices. It’s shot in 4:3, although it’s not apparent why. The ghost is portrayed as a man with a sheet over his head which, believe it or not, does actually work and isn’t ridiculous as it surely deserves to be. And our spectral protagonist never utters a word in death. The film is a tale of loss and how you struggle to come to terms to loss.

Well, “protagonist”, “tale”, “struggle”. Perhaps those aren’t the best words. The film actually has no plot whatsoever, let alone “tale” or “struggle”, and the “protagonist”, such as he is, doesn’t “tagonise” anything. And when I say “no plot”, I don’t mean in that hyperbolic jargonised English that “his head LITERALLY fell off”; I mean, quite actually, there. is. no. plot. Therefore I can plot spoil without plot spoiling for there is no plot to spoil. The unnamed couple cuddle in bed for several minutes without talking. Affleck’s character dies, which we don’t see. Mara’s character then sits around doing nothing, and I mean nothing: we see her eat a pie, in real time, for a full ten minutes. Eventually, she moves out of their house, someone else moves in, then they move out, then someone else in, and so on, until the house is knocked down. The ghost silent watches all of this. Fin. Literally nothing happens, and there is no character arc for our ghost or plot development.

Aristotle wrote in his Poetics, some 2300 or so years ago, that drama needs the following elements: a beginning, a middle, an end; plot, character, diction, thought, spectacle, music; a single central theme whose elements are logically related; that the dramatic causation and probability of events hangs on the characters’ actions and reactions; and catharsis of the spectators, that is, “to arouse in” spectators “feelings of pity and fear, and to purge them of these emotions so that they leave the theatre feeling cleansed and uplifted”.[1] A Ghost Story has none of these apart from “spectacle” (nice cinematography and visual effects) and “music” (sound effects, which were effective in building atmosphere). The whole film, in fact, feels exactly like a five minute A-Level student’s film project which has been inflated to 92 minutes and a massive budget.

Here are some snippets from IMDb user reviews.

“Worst film I’ve seen in a long, long time. 1/10”
“What a total waste of time. 1/10”
“Like watching paint dry. 1/10”
“Enough to make you think you have died! Do not bother! 1/10”
“Truly awful. 1/10. Boring, pretentious, irritating, amateur, self-indulgent”
“High rating on IMDb is inside joke about this movie. 1/10”
“The director thinks he’s Bergman and he is not. 1/10”
“A wonderfully hypnotic and philosophical film exploring the enormity of life. 8/10”
“A mind-alteringly realistic depiction of human life. 10/10”

This film isn’t so much “Marmite: love it or hate it”, as it is “hate it, or brainwash yourself into thinking you love it”. Do not believe the many wanker reviews or critics that have boosted this to a very respectable 6.9 on IMDb and, extraordinarily, a 91% Fresh Critical Consensus on RottenTomatoes.com, who declare that this film is “powerful” with a “passionate couple” at the core. The film is no such thing. It is self-indulgent crap at its worst. This really is a case of “the Emperor has no clothes”; fearful, mindless, cretinous film critics rate it highly as they are scared that to do otherwise would make them appear uncouth and uncultured and probably get their next schmooze fest invitation cancelled. Above all, nobody wants to say the emperor has no clothes.

The film’s not even saved by the “so bad it’s good” factor; this is the most tedious, boring piece of shit I have ever watched. And I do mean “ever”. Good news, though; that I managed to make it through the film without turning off or tearing my own eyeballs out means that the instanews social media whizz-bang world we now inhabit hasn’t completely destroyed my patience. One out of five — for spelling its own name correctly.

1/5

[1] https://www.cliffsnotes.com/literature/a/agamemnon-the-choephori-and-the-eumenides/critical-essay/aristotle-on-tragedy

review originally published 23 August 2018

© 2018 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://image.tmdb.org/t/p/original/sD94aixD7fMAc2e9ugbv4KQprBL.jpg

 

Netflix Film Review: The Circle (2017) #150WordReview @Netflix

a nightmare … as perpetrated by floppy-haired, latte-supping, trendy technologistas

The Circle is the world’s number one tech business, a Facebook-Google-Apple mash-up led by a kind of Steve Zuckerjobs (Tom Hanks). Young intern Mae (Emma Watson) scores a dream opportunity to work for the firm, but the dream quickly turns into a nightmare. The set-up is compelling: the darkside of social media and modern technology, the invasion of people’s privacy and the loss of anonymity, as perpetrated by floppy-haired, latte-supping, trendy technologistas, under the guise of techtopian idealism.

Sadly, a well-realised world deserves a well-realised film. Most characters are cardboard cut-outs that we don’t care for. The development of Emma Watson’s character is illogical; the more she suffers the folly of this Brave New World, the more she seems to buy into it. And the ending is unfulfilling and makes no sense; Mae’s reaction is the literal opposite of the logical end point of her story arc. Watson does the best she can, and Tom Hanks is compelling, but the lack of through-line in the script makes for a frustrating what-might-have-been mess.

2/5

© 2018 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4287320/mediaviewer/rm2345938944

 

100 Word Film Review: The Blind Side (2009)

The Blind Side is the true story of a wealthy WASP family, headed by Mater Familias Sandra Bullock, who take in a seventeen year old homeless black kid from the wrong side of the tracks. Battling social prejudice, lavishing him with clothes and an education, this is altruism at its best — or is there an ulterior motive? A prestigious football scholarship is at stake.

This fish-out-of-water tale has plenty of heart. Success is never a foregone conclusion. Tight scripting earnt this flick an Oscar nom for best screenplay, Bullock herself won Best Actress for her subtle, humane, and convincing portrayal.

4/5

© 2017 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image http://truesportsmovies.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/the_blind_side1.jpg