Tuesday, January 19, 2016

What I Watched - January 10-16 2016


Rush (1983) Youtube
 - From the long production line of Mad Max-inspired Italian post-apocalyptic B-movies comes this one, directed by Tonino Ricci and starring Bruno Minniti. The early going - our hero is caught by the bad guys and put into a futuristic prison camp - is pretty dire, but once he escapes the camp and takes to the forest things really pick up in an unintentionally-hilarious way.
Rush seems to have some kind of magic power, because no matter how close the bad guys are and how unprotected our hero is (like sitting on a tractor or hanging in mid-air) they can't seem to shoot him. None of the numerous stunts make a lick of sense - somehow he manages to jump over a truck roadblock on a motorbike without any kind of ramp - and the plot is full of holes - supposedly in this future world plants can't grow yet most of the later action takes part in a fully-wooded forest. Even the climactic fight is awesomely dumb, because the main bad guy's stunt double doesn't look anything like him! This is definitely a bad movie, but the cheesiness of the second half makes it good fun.

He Never Died (2015) AVI
- My interest in this movie started when I saw the poster - Henry Rollins with a pair of wings on his back, looking like a deshevelled fallen angel. I was expecting something along the lines of Prophecy or Legion, but it turned out to be very different, in a good way. To talk too much about the plot would be to give too much away, but this is a fantastic film, a mix of dark comedy and violent crime thriller. Rollins is superb as the grumpy immortal who is jaded to the world but forced to take action when things go bad.

Making a Murderer (2015) Netflix
- After hearing this Netflix-original documentary mentioned over and over on social media, I decided to check out the first episode to see what all the fuss was about. I was instantly hooked and watched all 10 episodes in a few days. It's definitely a well-crafted doco that asks real questions about the legal system and the pressure on police to get a prosecution at all costs, even if the evidence points elsewhere. A must-see!

Big Sky (2015) Netflix
- This is one of those movies where the premise outweighs the execution. The idea of a girl suffering from agoraphobia having to survive while being attacked in the wide-open desert is an interesting one, and while it's handled competently there's just nothing to really make this movie stand apart from any other average drama/thriller. The storyline meanders along predictably, needing a stand-out climax to save it, but sadly it never comes.

Anomalisa (2015) AVI
- I kept seeing this oddly-named movie mentioned on internet critics' top 10 of 2015 lists. After sitting down to watch it, I can honestly say I have to agree with the critics, this is one of the best of last year. It has a beautiful and enchanting animation style that's like a dreamy variation on clamation and a great story of love and loss and being numb to the world. Anyone who has suffered depression at any point in their life will be able to relate to the main character. The gimmick of having every other character looking and sounding virtually identical is a bit hard to get used to at first, but by the end of the movie it all makes sense. This movie will have you thinking about it for days afterwards.

Valhalla Rising (2009) Netflix
- Director Nicolas Winding Refn is a love-him or hate-him kind of guy. I know people who think his movies are pretentious and boring. I'm not one of them. Drive is one of my favourite movies of all time, I really like Bronson and while Only God Forgives was a tad disappointing, I didn't hate it.
This earlier effort by the Danish director will do nothing to appease his haters, drawing from the same stylistic pool as Drive and Only God Forgives - a silent anti-hero, long periods of meloncholic silence interspersed with bursts of extreme violence, and beautiful establishing shots.
Mads Mikkelsen (TV's Hannibal) is intense as the silent One-Eye, a mute warrior who escapes slavery in 1000AD and joins up with Christians heading on a crusade to the Middle East. But they end up somewhere else entirely - could it be hell? If you like Winding Refn movies you'll enjoy this.

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