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Brick: when his ex-girlfriend goes missing, a teenager goes prodding around in his school’s underbelly to try to find some answers. Given the high school setting and the film’s leanings towards a Noir detective story – where everything down to the dialogue & clothing of feels old-timey – you don’t really get many films with such a uniquely stamped style and feel. Borrowing so heavily from the Noir genre starts off quite refreshing, but becomes borderline tedious and annoying by the end – it’s also the film’s biggest downfall that anybody remotely familiar with the genre will see the major twist way, way before it’s revealed. The olde vernacular and slang-heavy dialogue also flips and flops between cool and stupid, as some parts become hard to follow, given the speed of delivery and unfamiliar phrasings. The adherence to Noir also means that the characters are simply drawn – one-dimensional – and overly familiar. The film’s stupendously shot: light in particular is used superbly throughout to add crazy good detail, depth and subliminal characterisation – especially during the indoor scenes. It’s also full of nice little touches, details and tricks that raise it above your average genre rip-off picture. As a crime story Brick pretty good, but it’s a film that is 100% defined  as a modern take on 60-year-old conventions: sure it’s unique, stylish, funny and entertaining, but it’s also predictable, clichéd and full of stock characters because of its rigid adherence to the Noir genre. The positives do outweigh the trappings, making Brick worth a watch.

Score: 7/10

Human Centipede 2 - Martin - Laurence R. Harvey, Maddi Black, Ashlynn Yennie, Kandace Caine, Dominic Borrelli, Lucas Hansen, Lee Nicholas, Dan Burman, Daniel Jude, Georgia Goodrick, Emma Lock, Katherine Templar, Peter Blankenstein

The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence (Not for the faint hearted): A car park security guard becomes obsessed with his Human Centipede DVD, and sets about creating his own pet with 12 people instead of 3 – and no medical knowledge, or tools… The premise is interesting, very post-modern and ‘meta’. But getting down to business: on a shock/gore/filth level, director Tom Six promised to make the first Human Centipede film look like “My Little Pony” when held up against this – and much to my disbelief, it genuinely does. Unlike the first one, where the horror is all off-screen and in your mind, in THC2 everything is laid out on the table, in glorious HD: torture, mutilation, teeth bashing, skin slicing, stapling, hacking and shitting – it’s hyper-graphic and positively gut-wrenchingly, toe-curlingly, vomit-inducing. The final 30 minute gory climax is absolutely beyond excessive, beyond boundaries, beyond taste, and beyond the thinkable – and that’s with 2mins 30secs of cuts. Gore and controversy aside, there are actually some things to like about this film. The main guy Martin – Laurence R. Harvey’s feature debut – is an outstanding genre-defining bad guy. His bug-eyed physicality is amazing, coming across as a truly deranged, demented, creepy and repulsive person, without saying a single word. Between the killings, kidnappings and gore, the film’s tone and direction are jaw-droppingly arthouse – as opposed to the cliche’d run-of-the-mill horror/B-movie cheapness & lazy non-efforts you’re used to. Filming in black and white make sense given all of the physical SFX – and even gives Tom Six the chance to insert an absolutely ridiculous Schindler’s List joke with dark orange projectile diarrhea. In the end, The Human Centipede 2 it’s made by someone who clearly knows and loves everything about the horror/extreme/torture genre, and most surprisingly, knows how to direct, well. I’ve not seen “A Serbian Film”, nor do I particularly want to – but I would still bet that this is one of the nastiest and most extreme pieces of ‘film’ anyone could legally get their hands on. As with the first one, this is absolutely not for everyone, but if it’s even possible to like the sound of it, or you fancy an endurance test, give it a spin.

Score: 4.5/10
B-Movie: 7/10

Human Centipede 2 - Centipede - Laurence R. Harvey, Maddi Black, Ashlynn Yennie, Kandace Caine, Dominic Borrelli, Lucas Hansen, Lee Nicholas, Dan Burman, Daniel Jude, Georgia Goodrick, Emma Lock, Katherine Templar, Peter Blankenstein

NSFW/TASTELESS/EXPLICIT DETAIL WARNING: According to Wikipedia: the stuff that didn’t make it in to the UK cut “Martin masturbating with sandpaper around his penis; graphic sight of a man’s teeth being removed with a hammer; graphic sight of lips being stapled to naked buttocks; graphic sight of forced defaecation into and around other victims’ mouths; Martin with barbed wire wrapped around his penis violently raping a woman; a newborn baby being killed; and the graphic sight of injury as staples are torn away from individuals’ mouths and buttocks.”

Human Centipede 2 - Tools- Laurence R. Harvey, Maddi Black, Ashlynn Yennie, Kandace Caine, Dominic Borrelli, Lucas Hansen, Lee Nicholas, Dan Burman, Daniel Jude, Georgia Goodrick, Emma Lock, Katherine Templar, Peter Blankenstein

Breaking Bad Series Bryan Cranston, Walter White, Anna Gunn, Aaron Paul, Jesse Pinkman, Dean Norris, Hank, Betsy Brandt, RJ Mitte, Danny Trejo

Breaking Bad (Season 2): picks up immediately where Season 1 finished, as the two rookie criminals slowly harden and come to terms with murky business that they are now a part of. With almost double the episodes, and the character groundwork laid in S1, there’s much more scope for the  story strands to finally go somewhere. You get the feeling that the show is finally changing up the gears in the drama department. The biggest change is that we now see a lot the effects that the duo’s meth is having, in particular the social slant is much rougher than S1, with a proper – no-holds barred – look at the users, their families, and the more ruthless cartels. Both leads remain fantastic while their limits and attitudes constantly evolve, and it’s weird that no matter how horrific or low the things they do are, you’re still behind them all the way. Saul; a fascinating, funny, crooked lawyer, is a solid addition, and good comic relief in parts. Stylistically, it’s still very much unique, retaining it’s punky visual edge and stylistic colouring – which can, and does, liven up the slower sections of storytelling. So the stakes are higher, the operation’s bigger, the rivals are tougher, police more involved, personal lives more strained – what’s not to like about Season 2!? One of the few shows on the telly that manages to strike a great balance between entertainment, drama and comedy.

Score: 8.5/10

Braking Bad: a struggling middle-aged high-school chemistry teacher with two jobs finds out he has terminal cancer, however his get rich quick scheme is one-of-a-kind; cooking the purest crystal meth Albuquerque has ever seen. First off, the two central characters, Walter White and Jessie Pinkman, are played absolutely superbly by Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul. Walter a regular guy in a unique situation that forces him to use and abuses science to kill guys, blow up cars, dispose of bodies, burn a lock, and cook ‘glass grade’ crystal meth – his transformation through the series is interesting to watch as he manages to strike the impossible balance between sympathy through his cancer, and villanous through the cooking. Jessie is equally good as the streetwise, try-hard, and they’re dysfunctional relationship is entertaining and funny – it must have been a joy for the writers. To single out another character, the step-brother Hank is played brilliantly, with some great, subtle, comedy timing. The series does lose its way in the middle, with nothing really happening for a few episodes – far more ‘cancer drama’ than ‘drug/crime thriller’. It also ends very abruptly, bang in the middle of a volatile story arc; which leaves you gagging for Season 2. The show has a unique and distinctive visual style; it looks very 90s, with lots of vibrant colours popping out of the screen, and a grainy/distorted ‘tape’ effect. Breaking Bad: Season 1 takes a massive gamble by putting almost everything into the characters and their back-story, hoping that audiences connect enough to interest them in a second outing – it pays off, although if the dark/morbid/macabre humour and bleak story won’t be to everyone’s taste.

Score: 6.5/10

Contagion: as a lethal virus spreads rapidly around the globe – we observe as the government, pharmaceutical industry and everyday people struggle through the pandemic. It’s always good to see an ensemble cast this big, but with the numbers involved some people go +30 minutes without an appearance, and each person’s angle feels underdeveloped. Too single one person; out I can’t tell if it was Jude Law, or the ridiculous blogger / twitter journalist he was playing, but that strand was just terrible. Other than the devastating virus and ensuing medical procedural hunt for a cure, there’s no single dominant story; there’s a slow build-up, mildly tense middle, and it ends quite abruptly as we just stop dipping in and out of the characters lives. Unlike most blockbusters the science is very realistic (on good authority from my buddy with a Master’s in Cellular Immunology). With the ultra realism in both content and a simple, minimal directorial style, you’re left with a ‘film’ that feels more like a discovery documentary / re-enactment – but with some familiar faces.  The final product is a mildly depressing, Dell sponsored, montage heavy film that tries to juggle too much, with very little focus.

Score: 6/10