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Review Self/less (2015): More than just a thriller with action and thrills.

genre: thriller, action, science fiction, mystery






To be honest I was very skeptic of Self/less before I watched it since the trailer seemed to indicate that this was going to be very similar to another film Ryan Reynolds was starring in dealing with the same theme. But where Criminal was more focused on the action Self/less is more interested in the human aspect of the premise and the consequences. Therefore far more interesting and compelling.

While Self/less could have gone far deeper into investigating the ramifications of certain medical applications and operations it does raise some interesting philosophical and ethical questions. Don't worry there is very little to no technical or medical mumbo jumbo to confuse or distract the viewer. Most of the impact of the film will be very basic and emotional so that anyone can relate to it. I really have to credit Tarsem Singh for focusing on the issues that matter the most but still leaves room open to for you to form your own thoughts. Of course he does direct you into a certain direction but had he not done so the film would have lost a lot of it's impact. The cast should also be commended for taking everything seriously and portraying their characters as real human beings and not talking plot points like in Christopher Nolan films. Both Ryan Reynolds and Ben Kingsley are on their best. I would not have minded for Kingsley to have been longer in this but then again he does so much in the little time that he is given. Plus he seems to really put have some effort into this role unlike the one in Security. Matthew Goode also is faring much better than his last stint in The Hatton Garden Job as he has a real knack to play mysterious figures. 

Self/less does have some twists and turns but most likely won't surprise you as much but that is fine since like I said the focus lies on the dramatic impact and not the thrills. Despite the shift in focus there are enough scenes where your adrenaline will get pumped. Up until the credits I wasn't aware that this film was directed by Tarsem Singh. But in case you were and are hoping to expect his flair for out of this world visuals and style I will have to disappoint you. He very wisely decided to keep things as low key as possible to avoid being distracted. Overall Self/less is really worth your time and a must watch if you ask me.




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Review Money Monster (2016): Captivating drama forcing you to pay attention to some truth!

genre: crime, drama, thriller





Money Monster might use a simple hostage plot line to get to it's point. But it certainly is one where a lot is at stake.

I read some reviews and comments on this and can't believe that a lot of people didn't like this or that they felt this was a poor thriller. Let me first start by saying that this thriller might be more conventional and isn't really about the twists and the turns. But for those people expecting those surely must not have been paying attention since it is obvious what the film is trying to say. This is about the attitude big corporations, banks and governments have when it comes to money and in particular people's money. That should worry and concern all of you. Yes, it might be political and therefore automatically boring for a certain demographic. But it's also very much a social issue that again concerns us all. Everyday we are being confronted with the practices displayed in films like Money Monster and the majority of the people seem to shake it off or console themselves by saying that as long as it doesn't do a lot of damage they will be ok. No, people, you won't be. Don't you see that is exactly the problem. We should never except these practices. It is criminal and it is wrong. Even if they would steal just a dime we should be in uproar. I don't care if you are right or left, this will concern all the people except for the very powerful and the extremely rich. Anyways back to the film. Through the hostage situation we are confronted with a certain financial loss and basically the hostage taker wants to get to the bottom of it. And while I don't entirely agree with his method I was on board with finding out the truth. It was fun to watch Clooney who starts out as a selfish prick turn into someone who does give a damn. I am not a big fan of Julia Roberts but she was actually quite good in this one. Not that she ever was bad but I never have been truly impressed by her acting. Jack O' Connel was the real surprise here as he did manage to evoke sympathy while still going through a range of emotions that did not always made him likable. But he was able to channel guilt, desperation and a sincerity all at once. He basically is everyman who is fed up and wants to do something about it. Dominic West is deliciously evil. His bad guy routine is laid on very thick yet he still manages to be charming. 

Even when you know how it is going to end there are still some small surprises here and there to keep you on your toes. Director Jodie Foster does a good job of maintaining tension and suspense. But the strongest elements are the scenes where the actors have to bring the drama without going overboard. A lot of the acting happens with the eyes and gestures and less with dialogue. Another good thing is that while the film is a serious affair it has allowed a lot of comic relief. There will be many times you will find yourself laughing at the absurdity of some situations. 

Overall this is a film that is gripping and captivating if you have any sense of what is going on in the world. If for some reason that doesn't interest you Money Monster does have some magnificent performances for you to be enjoyed. 




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Review Gifted (2017): Charming little film!

genre: drama





Gifted is one of those drama's where you simply know how it is going to end but don't know how it will get there. “The journey, Not the destination matters...” is a quote from T.S. Eliot and a very good description of the viewing experience you are going to have.

In short this film is about a custody battle between an uncle and grandmother over Mary Adler who is a gifted child (extraordinary mathematical talent) and how she should be raised. Now I do have to state that of course the film is a little biased towards main character Frank Adler played by Chris Evans but still does a very good job of showing the other side. In this case it's the belief by Frank's mother Evelyn Adler (Lindsay Duncan) that talent should be exploited as much as possible. Since this is the kind of talent so incredibly unique and special that one day could contribute to changing the world for the better.  Even if it could come at the cost of a child's youth and happiness. You would think that it is quite easy who to root for but luckily things aren't that simple. Despite Evelyn Adler being quite evil you can tell that Mary does need more than she is currently getting even if she seems very happy to have lived with her uncle all this time. There is a good reason for this and a very compelling one. But not going into it since it's one of those elements best to be enjoyed while watching. 

Like I said Gifted is predictable but never dull or boring. At times it's very comedic and at times you will get close to crying because of some truly gripping dramatic scenes. This film easily could have become a tearjerker. But very wisely tried to avoid this. It's through the characters that you will experience pain and laughter and not because of some tragic and dramatic violin playing. Even the adorable Mary will get on your nerves since sometimes she doesn't act like a prodigy but like a spoiled brat. Only then you realize that something is a miss and things aren't what they seem. I liked how the film allowed you to get angry at even lovable characters. But don't worry the film also gives you less likable characters to hate on. 

Gifted is far from spectacular or remarkable but it will give you something to think about plus it will make you feel good at the end. If like me you are a sucker for those kinds of movies then this definitely is a must watch. 



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Review Going in Style (2017): Delightful feel good comedy!

genre: comedy, crime,heist






Not so long ago I watched The Hatton Garden Job of which I was hoping it would bring me what Going in Style offered me. The trailer even hinted that it would emphasize the whole elderly angle. Unfortunately it barely touched on that and therefore was doomed to be average at best. Going in Style not only got the best out of it's premise it also paid attention to many of the social and economic issues plaguing the world today. Never to a point that you would get bored or overwhelmed by it but enough to appreciate the statement and criticism. And who better to address these things than Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin.

The three veteran actors shine as the elderly wannabe robbers who all have very good reasons to partake in these criminal activities. Even if you are a law abiding citizen you won't hesitate a moment to root for them since morally speaking they are only collecting what they are entitled to. Besides how can anyone even consider to be on the side of banks. The institutions that caused the economic crisis people still suffer from and somehow they still can go on their merry way like nothing happened. But next to the three main characters you have a supporting cast who each of them will warm your hearts in their own unique way. Especially in the moments when it counts. Christopher Lloyd as the old guy who is suffering from severe dementia is funny but endearing at the same time because nobody wants to become as bad as he is. It was very confronting but again you aren't given a chance to get depressed by it as it only wants to point out certain things people can face when they get older. I really have to compliment Zach Braff for striking a good balance between serious drama with comedy as he has done. He really knows how to hit you in the heart and make you laugh out loud at the same time. 

Overall Going in Style is exactly the type of heist movie I love. Just enough twist and turns to put you in suspense even when you very well know how it is going to end but has more going for itself besides the crime element. 




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Review The Evil Dead (1981): Definitely a cult classic!

genre: horror






A few weeks ago I have purchased a led projector and have been collecting and re watching a lot of older movies since the experience is significantly better than just watching it on television unless you got a real big monitor of course. For a film fan like me the home cinema experience can be very overwhelming. I mean some movies really benefit from a big screen. It has been quite fun watching films like this. So for no special reason at all I decided to pop in my Blu Ray disc of The Evil Dead. And here are my thoughts about it.

The first time I watched The Evil Dead was a very long time ago and back then we did not have DVD's yet. Yes, I am that old. The Evil Dead was one of those tapes I came across many times when browsing for titles. Actual real life browsing by walking up to a video, taking it out, looking at the cover on the front, looking at the description on the back. In these days you also could not turn to the almighty internet for this kind of information so you were dependent on the information given in the description. Or if you were lucky you could have watched it being reviewed by the few film programs you had. But most of the time those reviews were incredibly biased since most of the people doing the reviews were real old men from a whole other time period. Anyway The Evil Dead was not something I knew a lot about and took the gamble. I remember watching it very late at night at 2:00 and how I felt after it. I was completely blown away by this film. The Evil Dead was filled with surprises and was a good mix of gore, suspense and comedy. I do have to add that the comedy was minimal and just there to relief the tension. Because The Evil Dead was super intense.

But this was back then. How was my experience now? Well, I must have seen this film a couple of times in my lifetime and it still contained a lot of moments that made me feel that tension and dread. Naturally knowing the events and how they will turn out will diminish the surprise factor. And because of that you won't be as scared as you were the first time. However there are some elements that have remained just as strong. Like the camera work. It's not for nothing that this has been copied by other film makers. The visual practical effects still look awesome. Of course you can tell it's fake but while the scene is playing you can't but help be grossed out or terrified by them. The contrast between the actors how they normally look and then when they turn into deadites can be very unnerving. But most important Sam Raimi builds up the terror and suspense by easing us into the horrific events.

You can say a lot about The Evil Dead but not that it's boring. This original basically is about the making of the hero we now love and adore. Ash. Here he still is Ashley, a little timid and passive. But then was forced to deal with darkness and evil he has to dish out some pain. There is a lot going on in this film and certainly is superior to the remake The Evil Dead that for a whole hour was extremely slow and boring. So overall The Evil Dead is very deserving of being called a cult classic!




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