Stoker: when a young girl’s close father dies, his mysterious brother appears – a charming, yet mysterious character that she slowly becomes besotted with. Being a Chan–Wook Park movie, this has his stamp all over it – meticulous direction and framing, packed with striking, bold, elegant, and often haunting visuals. It’s a richly textured film, full of vivid colours, fabrics, designs, and patterns – ultra-visual cinema. Story-wise, it’s a relatively simple three-hander, focusing on layered and complex characters – that unravel, and become more intertwined as the events unfold. Perhaps because it’s a coming-of-age movie, it sticks out as being very level compared to previous works, shying away from the drama and (sensational) gore that director is used to providing, instead coming over as delayed intensity. Written by an actor, and directed by one of the world’s greatest – Stoker is a unique beast where the Korean director appears to be anticipating any ‘lost in translation’ moments from the script, by emphasizing the focus the universal visuals – you could watch this in any language and still make full sense of it. An immersive, throwback Hitchcockian thriller.
Pro All-Star Wrestlers Vs Zombies: when a murdered wrestler’s brother brings him back to life, he tricks several famous wrestlers into an abandoned asylum for a private show – full of killer zombies. Welcome to the dark side of Kickstarter; where any n00b director can get any movie funded by promising fanboys and fangirls a tantalising list of B-movie niches. To get it out-of-the-way – this film is pants. The script is rubbish, the plot is woeful, it’s poorly filmed, it’s terribly edited, the sound/overdubbing is horrible and worst of all, even the fighting scenes are at best averagely filmed and edited. On the plus side the make-up is alright, and the crimson gore is serviceable. I hate sticking the boot in to any film, let alone a cheap indie, but there’s no excuse for bad film-making these days, not even the shoestring $30K (or thereabouts budget). Primer and El Mariachi cost $7K each, Eraserhead – $10K, Paranormal Activity – $15K, Blair Witch – $20K, Catfish – $30K… Film-making equipment is now smaller, lighter, cheaper and more readily available. The main reason I suspect is that the wrestler’s fees took up most of the budget? I love wrestling, and B-movies – and watched this with a die-hard wrestling fan – whilst keeping up with a drinking game (see below for details) and even then it was still a chore making it to the end. Despite the big names and premise, there’s not even that many good wresting in-jokes or terminology (“Jobbers die, not headliners” and a coconut being the two standouts). Wrestlers Vs Zombies is another film where the idea and title are infinitely better than anything in the movie itself. The point below is for Roddy Piper, and nothing else.
WRESTLERS vs ZOMBIES DRINKING GAME
1 – Every time you hear the phrase “The Franchise”
2 – Every time there is a proper wrestling move: slam, hold, leap etc
3 – Every time you hear a (woeful) heavy metal song
Buried [Blu Ray]: An American truck driver in Iraq wakens up in a coffin with a Zippo, Blackberry phone and a few other items; his shit has hit the fan. From Reynold’s instant panic at the blacked out start, and with the entire film playing out inside the box, this is very claustrophobic and unbelievably suspenseful. As time ticks down, and the story snakes forward it’s impossible not to get whipped up in the boiling tension – especially during the latter half when bigger events unfold. It’s not often that black humour can lighten the mood but when a film is this intense, being put on hold or flippant sarcasm does take the edge off – momentarily. Technically, it’s superb – the camera work, varied lighting and sound maximise the intensity, and for the Blu Ray, while the picture’s not particularly ‘worthy’, every single scratch, movement, phone tone and background noise punches through. The only limitation of the film is that if you don’t buy in, it will only ever be ‘a guy stuck in a box’. With a scope this tiny, you’d think 90 minutes would be a long stretch, but Buried is quite the opposite – hyper-dramatic to the very last frame – it’s amazing how much Cortés forces out of this concept, and kudos to Reynolds, who took yet another gamble on a left-field movie. Proof that a tiny, tight project can be just as good as any ‘tent-pole’ picture.
Rock ‘n’ Rolla [Blu Ray]: Guy Ritchie introduces another bunch of dodgy geezers that you would find in ‘everyday Britain’… honestly! There’s a huge section of Basil exposition at the start; although goes with the territory of having 20 storylines and around 400 characters. There’s more narration by a LANDAN GEEZA – and the script’s full of more cockney slang / gangster limericks; I wouldn’t blame non-Brits for requiring subtitles. (Ewe go’ mo’ feet on thu street van coppas on thu beat – etc). There’s more Tarantino-esqué styling with wipes, swipes, fast cut editing, dialogue in boxes. There’s more people acting trivially when surrounded by or cut between senseless violence – which is becoming old hat. There’s also more dark comedy elements, which are quite good: a homosexual sub-plot, S&M, botched robbery, comparing scars, indestructible Russians… Where this succeeds is the stunning Brit cast; Hardy, Strong, Elba, ‘Superhands’, Butler, Kebbell, and Newton. The Blu Ray’s worth the extra pennies, with a slick picture and some tasty HD-audio. If you can’t tell from the above, Rock ‘n’ Rolla is more of the same ol’ Guy Ritchie tricks, although it’s all totally passable, and in the end, quite entertaining & watchable. It was planned to be the first of three films and – surprisingly – I’d like to see the other two.