Hacksaw Ridge starring Andrew Garfield: Poetic, Brutal and Beautiful

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Hacksaw Ridge starring Andrew Garfield

Hacksaw Ridge starring Andrew Garfield, Vince Vaughn, Sam Worthington and Teresa Palmer. Directed by Mel Gibson.

 

Hacksaw Ridge starring Andrew Garfield, Vince Vaughn & Sam Worthington

Based on the incredible true story of Desmond Doss, Hacksaw Ridge is a movie about how a young combat medic didn’t bend his pacifist beliefs for anyone, and ended up being a war hero without having fired a gun or used a weapon (with the wonderful exception where he used a rifle to make a makeshift sliding stretcher for his wounded sergeant).

Plot Summary

Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield) grows up in a violent home. Even though he has a loving mother (Rachel Griffiths), his father (Hugo Weaving) frequently uses violence on them, including his brother Hal (Nathaniel Buzolic; Kol from The Vampire Diaries and The Originals).

Their father is not necessarily evil; he is just a war veteran dealing with survivor’s guilt and PTSD horribly.

Doss boys seem to have a violent streak themselves. During one fight, Desmond almost injures Hal beyond repair, which triggers Desmond to embrace the peace-loving nature of his religion.

Desmond Doss grows up to be a loving, caring and determined man. He falls in love with beautiful nurse Dorothy (Teresa Palmer), which further ignites his love for medicine. Not having been educated well, being a paramedic seems to be his only option. Fuelled to serve his country and do something while others are also risking lives, he enlists. However, he objects to doing any weapon training and gets treated horribly by most of his fellow soldiers in training and superiors.

However, he eventually manages to get what he wants. And as horrifying violence and mayhem surround them, everyone who ridiculed him gets to see what he is truly made of – again and again and again.

rsz_hacksaw-ridge

Actual scene. Image via The Independent.

 

Hacksaw Ridge was directed by Mel Gibson. Unlike his other directed films, he is not a producer this time. He also doesn’t star in it either, unlike Braveheart, or The Man Without a Face.

I haven’t seen Apocalypto or The Passion of the Christ. However, I have seen Braveheart (and The Man Without a Face, which is not a war film.) – and I while Hacksaw Ridge isn’t quite there, it is pretty damn impressive.

Hacksaw Ridge is also understandably more violent. Braveheart had swords and arrows. Hacksaw Ridge doesn’t shy away from any shot that might make you cringe or want to look away. It has more blood, more severed limbs, and people in more pain. It makes you uncomfortable, and not for the sake of show or art. War is hell, and Mel Gibson makes sure you feel that in your veins.

Many people, including the cast argue Hacksaw Ridge is both a love story and a war story; you might consider it one or the other. But I disagree. Hacksaw Ridge is an epic anti-war movie with beautiful romantic scenes and horrifying war scenes. But it is more a respectful, albeit glorious, biography of a humane man of faith than a war film or a romance.

Teresa Palmer and Andrew Garfield in Hacksaw Ridge.

Teresa Palmer and Andrew Garfield in Hacksaw Ridge.

I’m agnostic. I don’t like religious motives or messages much. But you see, Hacksaw Ridge might show a Bible, but anyone with a heart can’t disagree of how Doss has interpreted the message: “Don’t harm anyone. And absolutely, do not kill.”

And he does exactly that. He doesn’t fight back when people hit him, which might be considered extreme. But he is proving a point. He is proving his principles. And he ends up saving 75 people in the course of about 12 hours. He helps a lot more.

He gets shocked and wounded and tested. But he doesn’t give up. He prays to be able to save another man. And then prays to be able to save the next.

Comparisons to Saving Private Ryan

Comparisons are being made for better and worse, and it’s only natural.

– Like Saving Private Ryan (aff. link), Hacksaw Ridge asks some very hard questions about humanity.

“Is the life of 8 men more or less important than the life one 1, if the mother of that one kid has lost three of her four kids in the same war.”

vs.

“Is it ever okay to kill and go against your beliefs? Or is it okay to risk everything to make the world a better place?”

– Both films have disturbingly realistic battle scenes. Both films have great casts, though SPR’s might have been slightly more famous. Both are critically acclaimed; both have amazing directors.

– Both films have solid anti-war messages.

– Both films must be seen as movie lovers, and people.

– I liked them both. I just liked HR a bit better.

Mel Gibson is my favorite actor, and he is one of my favorite directors. So there is a positive bias. But HR assaults your emotions for a shorter time. It’s ultimately less depressing despite being equally terrifying at times.

It’s a matter of personal preference. I’m pretty sure I can’t sit through SPR again one more time, just like I’d have to fast-forward HR’s battle scenes. Once is enough.

– Both movies have achieved greatness at shockingly low budgets for movies this size: Saving Private Ryan at 70 mil and Hacksaw Ridge at 40 mil.

Some more reasons to see Hacksaw Ridge

– The training scenes have some good humor. I loved the sergeant’s (Vince Vaughn) reaction to the naked soldier “Hollywood.” Also, Vince Vaughn is in a dramatic role again.

I have loved Vince Vaughn as an actor since Return to Paradise, which is one of my favorite films. It provides one of the most humane, enthralling and impossible-to-make decisions ever, and Vaughn shines in a dramatic role. Sure, he almost always talks fast, but he is as good as drama as he is at comedy. HR takes him to deeper lengths than The Interns ever could or wanted to (which is really entertaining film). The point is, Vaughn has more substance than just being the king of R-rated comedies.

– The romance is very well-done. It’s not sappy or corny. It has a pureness to it we haven’t quite seen since the relationship between Wallace and Murron. It feels real (and well, it was real.) So if like me, you really didn’t enjoy The Choice, here’s Teresa Palmer’s second chance to win you over in a romantic story.

*

Hacksaw Ridge is a must-see war film. It’s, in my opinion, not the best movie or the best war movie ever made. It’s however a very exquisite one that deserves to be seen on the big screen. It’s not always easy to watch, but you will feel intensely. You will occasionally escape your reality and the depressing things going on around the world. However, you’ll also be faced with the uncensored ugliness of war. I’d say it is great entertainment, but that’d not be the best choice of words. I wasn’t entertained. I felt. A lot, and all the time.

*

Written by Robert Schenkkan and Andrew Knight. Also featuring Luke Bracey and Milo Gibson (one of Mel Gibson’s 8 kids). Directed by Mel Gibson.

*

How about you? Have you seen Hacksaw Ridge? What did you think?

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Good Behavior starring Michelle Dockery and Juan Diego Botto: Solid Crash Course on Addictive Grey Characters

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Good Behavior, Michelle Dockery, juan diego botto

Good Behavior starring Michelle Dockery and Juan Diego Botto.                     Image via gstatic.

Good Behavior– Plot Summary (Minor Spoilers for Episode 1)

Letty (Michelle Dockery) is a beautiful mess. She’s an ex-con, a drug addict and a thief. She’s not allowed to see her son, her mother hates her, and she has to hold disgusting jobs if she wants to stay straight.

Javier (Juan Diego Botto) is a handsome, efficient hitman who just happens to be one of Letty’s theft victims. When she overhears what he is, she decides to try and save his target. She meets him, has a great date with him and has a wild night of sex. If you didn’t know his job, you could easily develop a crush.

Letty is not a hero. She doesn’t even make a great escapee. When her mother doesn’t allow her to see his son, she goes off the rails. Javier could easily kill her, but he has other plans…

Spoilers and Praises Ahead

We have a hitman who might have a soft spot for a woman he had sex with, who doesn’t do drugs and saves the woman’s life – and then recruits her for a trickier job. He doesn’t seem to be a total psychopath, and you can definitely forgive him (when you hear the reason) for job 2.

Letty is both drawn to and repulsed by him. Her escape attempts are useless, and she does need him to stay alive.

But not all murders are perfect, and we have one of the weirdest, most curious and engaging road trips ahead, including dead bodies, sexual chemistry off the charts and a Tesla running out of battery…

It’s an interesting show.

The acting is top-notch, and I don’t think we had grayer protagonists. What is interesting to note about Javier is that he seems totally against the idea of harming a child. He never once threatens to hurt Letty’s son. He doesn’t even threaten to kill Letty. He just says he will find her.

Then we have Letty’s parole officer who has his own addiction and demons to battle, a stupid eager beaver barking around and the past of Javier to discover.

I’m totally addicted. I watched the first three episodes in a row.

*

Good Behavior is a new show airing on TNT. It was created by Chad Hodge and Blake Crouch.

 

 

 

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Prime starring Uma Thurman, Bryan Greenberg & Meryl Streep: A Good Romantic Comedy That Becomes Better With (Your) Age

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Beautiful, recently divorced, emotionally raw 37-year-old Rafi (Uma Thurman) works in fashion and heals herself through therapy sessions with her psychiatrist Lisa Metzger (Meryl Streep).

Lisa is a devout Jew in her personal life who’s not thrilled that her 23-year-old son David (Bryan Greenberg) wants to be an artist, holds menial jobs and lives with his maternal grandparents. David also seems a bit more lax about his religion and doesn’t have a serious girlfriend.

Not knowing their connection, Rafi and David start dating. Rafi says she is dating a 27-year-old to Lisa, and David also tells his mother that he is also dating a 27-year-old. Happy for Rafi, Lisa encourages her relationship. However, as a mother, she is really upset David is dating a non-Jewish woman “4 years older” than him.

As Rafi shares their most intimate moments, they start falling for each other. But with more details and Rafi admitting his real age, Lisa puts it all together. So what the hell is she going to do now?

*
Prime is a thoughtful, sincere and hilarious romantic comedy. You have the classic disapproving mother-in-law conflict tripled by making the potential in-law from a different religion and the therapist. Add 14 years of age difference, and we’ve all got some thinking to do. Especially sometimes since David acts his age (and not in a good way), and Rafi is craving for a baby.

I sincerely recommend it. And Meryl Streep is just hilarious.

*
Spoilers Ahead: More About Prime (and Why It Gets Better As You Age)

When I first saw Prime (2005), I was about David’s age. And like David, I was a lot more optimistic. And unlike Rafi, I didn’t really want kids, so I was disappointed by the ending. And being a romantic impaired my judgment. I thought the film was okay, but it needed a happy ending.

But seeing it again it at 31, closer to Rafi’s age than David’s, I think the movie is great as it is. Honestly, I’m a bit freaked out at the idea of dating a 23-year-old even though I’m younger than Ravi, don’t mind a fling and still don’t want any kids!

As much as age is just a number in theory, and we are likely to break or bend our own rules when it comes to strong romantic connections, it is easier to see the ending as “right” and not as a disappointment.

Then there is the fact that this is Lisa’s story, as much as it is Rafi and David’s. While they both learn things about themselves, relationships and what they need to do in life, Lisa learns to give David a bit more freedom. She learns that the extreme gap between how she treats her patients and how she treats her family needs to be smaller, and that David needs a different route than her to be happy. And that’s okay.

*

So a lot of romance, comedy and character growth will warm up your heart. Give Prime a shot. Written and directed by Ben Younger.

Also on Uma Thurman

The Life Before Her Eyes starring Uma Thurman and Evan Rachel Wood

Beautiful Girls starring Timothy Hutton, Matt Dillon, Uma Thurman, Natalie Portman and Mira Sorvino

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No One Lives Movie Review: No One Lives starring Luke Evans, Adelaide Clemens and Derek Magyar

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No One Lives movie poster starring Luke Evans

Image via assets.tmdb.org.

A young woman, Emma, (Adelaide Clemens) screams. Again. We see her running in the forest, but she is caught by a trap, and is hung upside down by her feet. She’s not getting away, but she isn’t going down without a fight, either.

A bunch of redneck criminals are looting a family’s house, but when the family arrives early, one of them shoots them all in reflex, angering all the other members and forcing them to forgo their potential earnings.

Driver (Luke Evans) is moving away with his younger girlfrined to a new start. There seem to be issues between them, though they look like a couple that have deep feelings for each other. From their innuendos, we suspect an affair on the driver’s side. He apologizes for messing things up.

They stop by a motel and watch the news: the girl in the forest is still missing after about 6 months, but she has managed to carve EMMA ALIVE on the tree.

They later go to a diner/bar suggested by the motel owner, and the girlfriend is still upset about the other woman. The diner is empty, but soon the redneck gang arrives. The members aren’t looking for trouble, aside from the guy, Flynn (Derek Magyar) who killed the family. He’s certain our couple is loaded, and he disturbs them. The gang leader (Lee Tergesen) prevents him from bothering anyone further, but Flynn won’t let go.

The couple’s car is crashed into, and they’re wounded. They wake up in an empty storage place, guarded by the massive gang member Ethan, who seems like he could eat a couple of successful boxers alive.

The members are angry, but Flynn has returned with the couple’s car and trailer. He is sure Ethan can get the couples’ “financial” information easily, making up for the loss.

But what torture-ready Ethan doesn’t count on is the girlfriend completely losing it, and the Driver “losing” it even further. What starts out as a couple in distress, turns into a worse psychopath – a psycopath who’s weapons and combat-trained, hunting down the gang members one by one…

And as the gang members turn into victims, they will face other twists and turns.

*

As we slowly lose any sympathy we might have had for the driver, we still root for him to kick the gang members’ ass. They overestimated themselves and severely underestimated him. And it’s one thing terrifiying/killing a helpless family, and it’s another when they are going against a Dexter meets Hannibal meets Bourne – only without the morals or cannibalism.

*

It’s not the most sophisticated dialogue, and switches between finely foreshadowing and extremly on the nose. That said, I actually like on-the-nose dialogue when it works, and you can’t help like Driver talk what’s on his head without hesitation or calculation. Why not be blunt and open when you’re the one with a plan to kill everyone brutally, innocent or otherwise? And when he doesn’t kill you, it might even be a worse sign….

*

For a very bloody and mindless action/thriller, it’s pretty good entertainment. Some things could be improved, but it’s always fun to have a psycho hunting other psychos, and when he is strangely for empowering his chosen female victims while screwing them the hell up and developing his version of Stockholm Syndrome.

I’d love a sequel or a prequel, to be honest. Written by David Cohen. Directed by Ryûhei Kitamura.

Enjoy!

Favorite Lines:

Leader : Are you a serial killer?
Driver : Serial killers work in solidarity, I am more of a numbers guy.

Driver’s Girlfriend: A man who lacks emotion is sorry.
Driver : I don’t lack emotion. I just process it differently*. (*Which is the understatement of the year, really.)

*
Enjoy this bloody thriller. No pun intended. 🙂

 

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The Vicious Kind starring Adam Scott: Humanly Amoral, Emotional and Funny

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The Vicious Kind movie poster

The Vicious Kind movie poster via amazon.com.

 

Oh, how Adam Scott (High Crimes, Leap Year , A.C.O.D, Friends with Kids, The Overnight) has grown on me. I’ve never not liked the guy, but this was definitely one of the more challenging roles he has taken on.

On the surface, the premise of the movie might sound like a typical romantic comedy. However, it’s not very typical, and it’s NOT a romantic comedy.

Caleb (Adam Scott) is a lonely construction worker who is not dealing well with his break-up at all. He can’t sleep, he has sex with hookers and then sends pictures of the act to his ex, and he is not taken the news of his younger brother Luke’s romance well. He believes, and openly states, that all women are whores, and this new girl, Emma (Britanny Snow), is no different. The fact that she was seeing another guy when she met Luke only confirms Caleb’s thoughts.

Luke introduces them as they pick up Emma, and drive her and Luke to their father’s house – a father called Donald (played by J.K. Simmons) Caleb isn’t on speaking terms with.

The problem is Emma kind of looks like Caleb’s ex. She is also sexy, nice and friendly, making Caleb assault her and want her all at once. Oh, yes, Caleb isn’t very a stable or healthy individual. However, he is a fascinating character to watch.

One minute he’s frightening the hell out of her, and one minute he’s crying and apologizing. One minute he’s trying to prove she’s out to break Luke’s heart and telling her not to, and one minute he’s being all intense and attracting her.

Of course, Emma is only less of a mess compared to Caleb. Her boyfriend, Caleb’s brother Luke, is a virgin. Caleb is a good-looking nutjob, their father Donald borders on creepy and weird, and she has her own drunk mother and parental issues to deal with. As a psych major who hasn’t been able to sort herself out, is it any wonder she’s slowly drawn to the volatile Caleb? And can anyone survive this triangle?

*

The performances are fantastic, and I had a pretty good time watching Caleb contradicting himself at every turn. Adam Scott does a brilliant job in making the audience going from wanting to punch him to hug him and back to punching in a matter of minutes.

Luke seems like the more innocent and normal of the bunch, but that might exactly be what’s backfiring in his relationship. It’s not that Emma wants a bad guy per se, but she’d certainly be prepared for one who deals with his issues out on the open.

It’d be appropriate to call Caleb both the antagonist and protagonist of the story: He’s the main character. We get to know him the most. He is also the one screwing up things left and right, and doing almost always the wrong thing to sort things out or feel better.

I’d definitely recommend this funny drama. Written and directed by Lee Toland Krieger.

 

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Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Film Review: A Plot You Didn’t Like Doesn’t Equal No Plot

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Image via http://www.joblo.com.

I watched Batman vs. Superman, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Now, I get where the unsatisfied portion of comic fans comes from. It’s natural to expect loyalty to the source material. If I loved a book and they fundamentally changed things, I am bound to refuse to watch the result.

I saw the first scene from Runaway Jury, and I ran away. It wasn’t a bad scene. The movie has a great cast. It was based on one my favorite books: John Grisham’s Runaway Jury, and that was the problem. They changed what the main trial was about, and I lost my appetite. After loving Batman v Superman despite the negative reviews (mostly about how it defies who Batman and Superman are), I will shut my mouth and watch a well-rated movie with a cast I love. I will forget about the book, and then I will come back and talk about it.

But as I haven’t read the comics, I don’t have anything to compare the movie to other than the Batman and Superman movies I have seen, and I’ve seen them all apart from the one starring George. I have enjoyed Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer and Christian Bale as Batman. And I totally loved Affleck too.

I grew up with Christopher Reeve’s Superman movies, but Henry Cavill did a good job in Man of Steel. Now, I would have enjoyed that film more if the battle scene and sounds were edited better and cut shorter. But overall, it was a fun experience. And movies cast like that help if you are a total movie geek and don’t mind mainstream stuff. Russell Crowe as Superman’s father, Michael Shannon as the main villain, Kevin Costner as the stepfather, Diane Lane as the stepmother? Oh, and Amy Adams is Louis Lane? That was a decent experience.

Some people hate director Zac Snyder as a principle, whether or not they liked 300. I don’t like 300, but Watchmen was a dark, decent and engaging film.

Then there are the massive directorial style differences between Snyder and Nolan. So everyone knew the movies were inevitably going to be different.

Now, there’s a line I heard over and over. Sometimes it was uttered to harshly criticize the movie. Sometimes to state the obvious in a neutral way: “This wasn’t like a Batman movie. Or a Superman movie.” Exactly!

It was a Batman vs. Superman movie. It had them both. It had a more depressed Batman (although Bales’ Wayne/Batman was no ray of sunshine either), and a Superman who was having a bit of crisis. What sane being, alien or human, would feel comfortable with being adored and feared by the masses? When his fathers are dead, and his girlfriend is constantly in danger to her personality and job? And now he has a vigilante out for him, whose psychology isn’t that far off when you consider his childhood, history with villains and most recently, the death and distraction he witnesses in the beginning of the movie? (Sure, letting us know Robin was dead would make it even more rational, but I do love Batman overreacting and being irrational. It suits the character.)

As far movie having no plot/ characterization, that’s ignoring a lot of elements. You may not like it. You might find some clichés although I can’t really think of superhero movies without them.) but tell me how this is not having a plot:

(There might be spoilers. And so many things happened, I might confuse the order of stuff and leave some things out.

About two years after Superman’s fight with, and victory against, General Zod, United States is polarized about Superman’s existence. People are bothered by his powers, and how he doesn’t answer to anyone. On the other hand, people he saved or people who witness his saves are more fans/worshippers.

One person who’s extremely mad is Bruce Wayne. He’s seen the destruction the battle has caused. He lost many employees. He saw the panic, fear and pain with his eyes. Of course, a saner person would blame it on Zod, but our Batman is prone to extreme reactions. (Didn’t he hide away for years in a previous movie?) So he obsesses over how to beat (and kill) Superman while increasing the violence in his vigilante ways.

Rich and psychotic businessman Lex Luthor wants to destroy Superman for his own twisted reasons and uses the government’s doubts and his resources to get his hands on a batch of kryptonite.

Distracting Wayne a little is a gorgeous woman who seems to be rich socialite of sorts and “steals” the info Wayne wanted to steal from Lex Luthor.

And there’s the fun irony that Clark Kent, Superman’s journalist persona, wants to go after Batman as he sees him as an uncontrolled vigilante who doesn’t care about collateral damage or ethics when going after criminals.

In their distracted states and crises, neither hero sees what Luthor is up to until it’s too late. Will they see they are on the same side before it’s too late?

*

I still left a lot of details out, but basically you have a decent plot with a solid antagonist who is working on unleashing a more dangerous creature just in case, a superhero trying to fit in and shaking off Bruce Wayne, a US senator (Holly Hunter) who undermines and underestimates a disturbed genius, and of course two protagonists who have to deal with a lot of demons, action and each other.

Yes, it’s not a Batman movie or a Superman movie. But it’s a great hybrid with a lot to offer if you don’t go into the movie expecting it be loyal to comic books.

It does however have more realistic superheroes in the sense that they have problems like the rest of us. Maybe it’s not money or health, but they grapple with who they are, what they should be doing and their levels of humanity.

And Jeremy Irons’ Alfred is like a combination of Michael Cain’s Alfred and Morgan Freeman’s Fox: butler, scientist and life coach with a snappy sense of humor. Frankly, I would watch a lot more Batman movies with that Alfred.

*

All in all, I think Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice is the Keanu Reeves of movies. People are polarized. As with Keanu Reeves, I like what we get.

What do you think?

PS Bang2write’s awesome Lucy V Hay has a great e-book on the movie. She basically evaluated the script. After reading it, I do agree with some of the scenes being redundant like the nightmares.

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Pathology: Review for The Twisted, Irrational and Entertaining Thriller

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pathology movie poster

Image via movieheritage.com

 

Before going into the plot summary and my review, I should first give you a “suspension of disbelief” warning. Most movies require it to a certain extent, but gory thrillers tend to need more than other flicks.

In Pathology, you are supposed to be okay with the idea of a group of borderline genius doctors committing murders for fun while seducing a more rational, seemingly nicer doctor into their games. If you are good, let’s move on.

And disregard the horror tag on IMDB. There’s nothing scary about the film. It’s, however, bloody, twisted and disturbing. But of course an R-rating has its limits (as opposed to NC-17 or unrated), so if you can handle a lot of blood and some autopsy scenes, you should be fine. (I was less freaked by this film’s gore than Tarantino’s typical blood baths, just to give you an idea.)

Pathology Plot Summary 

Smart and seemingly strait-laced Ted Grey (Milo Ventimiglia) joins a group of brilliant yet arrogant pathologists who seem to dislike him at an instant. But soon, their leader Dr. Gallo (Michael Weston) takes an interest in Grey as Grey is intrigued by this tight, weird and generally obnoxious group. As he spends more time with Gallo, he realizes they are playing a game of “who commits the most original and untraceable murder,” and they seem to be only killing people who commit atrocious crimes. But when Grey joins the game and starts sleeping with Juliette (Lauren Lee Smith), who seems to be sexually open to anyone and yet is “owned” by Gallo, (according to Gallo), things soon get out of hand.

With drugs, murder and sex wrecking havoc on his life, how can Grey get out of this?

Pathology Review

As for as murder-based plots go, I liked that the movie focuses on the how and flat out gives you the motive. You know who did it and why. You get to learn how. But you don’t have a clue who will be next. You don’t know if someone’s lying. And you really don’t know when/if Grey’s morals will kick in.

As far as unrelatable and unlikeable protagonists go, Grey is pretty up there. He seems okay enough in the beginning: he’s successful, decent and nice most of the time and a loving fiancée (Alyssa Milano) until Gallo helps reveal his darker side, and then he’s only a human being if you compare him to Gallo and gang, which isn’t saying much.

The plot, acting and soundtrack are solid. There were some scenes that didn’t need to be there, and some parts that felt either irrelevant or repetitive. It could have been shorter than it’s 95 minutes and more engaging.

But as I said before, once you get your head around the premise, it is a fun, albeit flawed ride. It has some clichés, but they are outdone by some decent surprises. And I quite enjoyed the ending.

If you like twisted movies but have a limit on how much gore and weird sex scenes you can take (the sex scenes are weird when you consider the location and timing, as well as the blood involved), give this a go.

Written by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor (credited as Neveldine and Taylor). Directed by Marc Schölermann.

Trivia:

  • Supposedly it’s similar to the German movie Anatomy, but I haven’t seen it, so I can’t comment on that. However it’s supposed to be more disturbing, so brace yourselves if you want to check it out.
  • House fans will recognize Weston as Cuddy’s boyfriend from later seasons.

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Navigating the Heart starring Tim Matheson and Jaclyn Smith 

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Navigating the Heart starring Tim Matheson and Jaclyn Smith

Navigating the Heart starring Tim Matheson and Jaclyn Smith.Image via ice poster.com.

How I love a good old-fashioned romance film with a happy ending!

Well, if you want a more expensive, sadder yet less realistic seaman falls in love with a city woman film, watch Message in a Bottle. It has Kevin Costner, Paul Newman and Robin Wright, and is beautiful to look at. It’s also nicely shot, directed and acted. The problem? It’s based on a Nicholas Sparks movie.

Now, I’m not against Nicholas Sparks. I actually like how he creates bestselling romances, and that they are made into films where I get to see a lot of actors and actresses in sweet, escapist roles. My problem is with Nicholas Sparks’ endings.

But Navigating the Heart is more me because well, there are no kids, dead or cheating spouses, hidden identities that will cause huge fights, terminal illnesses or deadly accidents.

It sure has a lot of arguing stemming from the early proud and prejudiced moments of the two main characters, who will later discover that they actually have a tone in common and hell of a chemistry.

Navigating the Heart starring Tim Matheson and Jaclyn Smith

Navigating the Heart scene. Tim Matheson and Jaclyn Smith. Image via port.rs.

Okay, I should tell more about the plot at this point. Here we go:

Manhattan magazine’s well-known writer Edith (Jaclyn Smith) isn’t happy with the direction the magazine’s taking and grudgingly accepts an assignment on the high prices of salmon. Heading from Manhattan to a small fishing village in Ottawa would causes the expected culture shock, but things get more unpleasant when she meets handsome yet grumpy fisherman John Daily (Tim Matheson). While he is loved by everyone there, he’s not at all in the mood for a know-it-all reporter who’s after a superficial story.

And if she wants the best story, she will have to find a way to survive a few trips on John’s boat without killing him.

But while these two think the other one is insufferable, nature decides to throw in a deadly storm and a leak to make matters worse.

And this time, what doesn’t kill you, can make you fall in love.

Navigating the Heart movie

Navigating the Heart image via timewarnercable.com.

Of course there’s the difference of lifestyles and locations, but things might not be as complicated as they initially seemed…

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You might very well hate this movie if you’re not a romantic. But even as someone who doesn’t like eating fish and can’t imagine herself on a fishing boat, it became one of my favorite romances.

Because when you want to feel good, you might need some clichés.

It also helps if you like Tim Matheson. (I really do.)

Inspired by a true story, 2000 TV flick Navigating the Heart was directed by David Burton Morris, written by Cathleen Young and Lee Guthrie. Based on the novel Fishing with John by Edith Iglauer.

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The Disappearance of Alice Creed Review: A Fun, Low Budget Kidnapping Thriller

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the disappearance of alice creed

The Disappearance of Alice Creed movie poster. Movie stars Gemma Arterton. Image via assets.flicks.co.nz

For a movie junkie, nothing quite beats the feeling of delaying sleep because you don’t want to take a break from what you’re watching.

The Disappearance of Alice Creed was one fun ride. But of course, expectedly from a kidnapping plot, it had its uncomfortable and disturbing moments.

Let’s go over the plot for this British flick:

Two ex-convicts, Vic (Eddie Marsan) and Danny (Martin Compston), kidnap Alice (Gemma Atterton) – the daughter of a rich guy – after some very thorough planning. They bring her to the secure location, lock her up and make sure she doesn’t have any opportunities to escape.

And while a two-man team has its advantages, it presents a set of weak points, especially when kidnapper Danny seems to be attracted to the beautiful victim. And while we think we know what’s gonna happen from the trailer (and our vast experience of watching kidnapping movies), we’re still in for a couple of surprising (and enjoyable) twists.

Sure, the movie doesn’t provide answers to every question the twists cause, but it does entertain from the first point to the next.

The ending is also satisfactory though a different outcome wouldn’t have disappointed either. Let’s say the ending is the least surprising part.

Written and directed by J. Blakeson, this 2009 flick is also a great study for screenwriters and filmmakers who want to write a solid low-budget action/thriller.

Now that I’ve offered my non-spoiling two cents about the film, let’s move to the fun bit for those who have seen the movie or just don’t mind spoilers:

The Kidnapper and Victim Mistakes from The Movie

  • Kidnapping someone one of them is attracted to. Sure, the other one isn’t even aware this is a possibility, but why take the risk of potentially thinking with your you know what?
  • Kidnapping an ex. Again, Vic doesn’t know this is even possible. But how dumb could Danny get?
  • Kidnapping with someone they’re intimate with. No explanation necessary. 😀
  • Humiliating the victim for more than necessary. Sure, she will hate you and fear you, but were the naked pictures and peeing without a bathroom really necessary? They made their plans easier, only for the short run. Danny’s plan B backfired because of the extra humiliation factor too.
  • Not trying to go all Liam Neeson when you’re kidnapped instead of kicking and screaming for no good. You know, count. Just count so that you can give the police an estimate of where you are.
  • Say who kidnapped you, for crying out loud! Again, it would make their job easier, and in this case, possible. You know the dude’s identity, and the name of the other one!
  • Don’t piss the kidnappers off. Sure, you can inflict a second of pain and irritation, but it’s not really worth it, and it will come back to bite you in so many ways.
  • Make them throw the key to you. Always make them keep the distance.

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Have you seen The Disappearance of Alice Creed? What did you think? What are some of your kidnapping-plotted movies?

 

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Gone Girl Movie Review: Gone Girl starring Ben Affleck & Rosamund Pike

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(There are some spoilers.)

Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck)’s beautiful wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) is missing under suspicious circumstances. Police detective Boney (Kim Dickens) and officer Gilpin (Patrick Fugit) get right on the case, with Boney giving Nick the benefit of the doubt and Gilpin ready to blame Dunne.

As the audience we’re neither with Boney nor Gilpin: if he did it, it’s too obvious. If he’s innocent, also too obvious. But we know it’s a David Fincher movie, and it will probably not be black and white. And expectedly, things turn out to be all shades of grey:

While Nick tries to manage his in-laws and the media reaction with the help of his twin sister Go, we see he’s not exactly the doting husband he wants others to believe. He seems clueless about his wife’s daily activities, friends or diary, and to top of it all, he’s having an affair with a 20-year-old (and going to great lengths to hide it from others).

From the beginning of the movie, we have some flashbacks, with the voice-over from Amy, guiding us through their relationship, from the great start to troubling times, until we see Nick’s violent and dangerous side. And around the time cops are sure Nick’s behind her disappearance, and possibly murder, we hear this brilliant line from Amy:

“I’m so much happier now that I’m dead.”

So yes, she’s making a run for it to make Nick pay for being a lying, cheating bastard. And if you think she is taking things too far, just wait till you see how much further she’s willing to go, and how she handles her back-up plans…

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Gone Girl is one crazy, psychotic mystery/thriller/drama that might make you question certain things in life, like how well you actually know the people you are with, how dangerous certain kinds of people can be and well, whether or not getting married is a sane idea in the first place.

Despite the original elements in its story, and some seriously fantastic acting from Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl is far from a smooth, fast ride. I’m aware that this was intentional, but the unevenness in pacing created moments, at least for me, where I struggled to stay engaged in the movie. It flows faster and better once we find out what Amy is up to, and how truly disturbed and calculating she is, but until then, I kept wishing some scenes were left in the editing room.

Because no matter how different and captivating a movie is, 149 minutes isn’t generally the amount I’m ready to give to a mystery/ drama/ thriller. Well-done epic movies? Sure. A decent piece in a trilogy where you don’t have the chance to get bored because every scene (and interaction) is necessary? Yeah.

But for me, Gone Girl would be even better at 139 minutes. Hell, at 129 or a little less, I could have jumped at the “masterpiece” wagon.

Because when a film is rated at 8.3 on IMDB (already grabbing a place on the site’s 250 best movies list) and has earned more than 350 million dollars at the box office against its 61 million budget, you want to be blown away by every second of the movie. There’s no place for boredom.

Call me sentimental, traditional or whatever, but I still prefer Se7en. At a little over 2 hours, it is tighter, creepier and has the more satisfactory ending. (Se7en is also on IMDB 250 and rated over 8 (8.7.,to be exact)-hence the comparison).

And the problem is with establishing your “villain” to be so brilliant is this haunting question: didn’t she have anything better to do with that Harvard degree and brain of hers than to take revenge? No attempts at world-domination? Trying to save the world or destroy it? And why let herself stoop to such a level if she is so awesome? Isn’t pretending to be someone else to find yourself a partner something losers, or at least very irrational people do?

Her motives and actions don’t match the IQ and OCD-thinking we’re given, and that’s another con if you think about the movie too much.

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That said, I love Fincher, and this was a solid movie. But worth the rating and the box office-smashing? Not to me.

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How did you feel about the movie? Please let me know in the comments.

Fun Gone Girl Trivia

  • The movie was written by Gillian Flynn, who adapted it from her own novel.
  • Scoot McNairy, our lovely protagonist from Monsters, plays one of Amy’s victims.
  • Director David Fincher (Fight Club), while mainly known for his dark mystery/thrillers (Se7en, Zodiac, Panic Room, The Game) has also found huge success with dramas (The Social Network, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.)
  • In the shooting script, Nick Dunne is mentioned to be in his 30s. Ben Affleck is in his early 40s.
  • Some of Rosamund Pike’s films include Pride and Prejudice, Jack Reacher, Surrogates and Fracture.

 

Also on Ben Affleck

State of Play starring Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck, Rachel Mcadams and Helen Mirren

The Company Men starring Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones, Chris Cooper, Maria Bello & Kevin Costner

Also on Rosamund Pike

Surrogates starring Bruce Willis, Rosamund Pike & Radha Mitchell

Pride and Prejudice starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen

Fracture starring Ryan Gosling & Anthony Hopkins

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