Saturday, April 2, 2016

What I Watched - March 6-12 2016


Finding Vivian Maier (2013) Netflix
- This documentary is a posthumous look at a woman who worked as a nanny for rich families in America, but secretly documented the world around her via hundreds of thousand of photographs that she took. After her death filmmaker John Maloof bought her negatives in an auction and discovered that her work was world class, so set about telling her story. It's amazing that none of her work was ever exhibited for the world while she was alive, because her work truly is inspiring. I do love a good doco and especially one that unveils something that has up until then been hidden from the world, which is definitely the case here.

Cub (2014) AVI
- I remember hearing about this Belgian horror movie in the lead up to its release, but I never got around to seeing it until now. It tells the story of a group of boy scouts who go camping in the woods in an area that is off limits, and discover something horrific lurking there. I was a boy scout in my younger days and director Jonas Govaerts captures that time of life perfectly, especially the banter and mischievousness of young boys. He also captures the bullying that inevitably goes along with any gathering of pre-teen males.
As for the horror elements, they are handled very well, with plenty of suspense and even some gorey moments. The mystery as to what is exactly going on keeps you enthralled until the ending, which will please some people but annoy others. It's definitely outside the box, and that's to be commended.

Dead and Breakfast (2004) DVD
- The cover of my DVD copy of this movie has a quote about it possibly being the American equivalent of Shaun of the Dead. Praise like that always makes me wary, so I went into this expecting to dislike it. But while it's not a great movie, it's a perfectly entertaining splatter comedy in the vein of Brain Dead (Dead Alive to you Americans), Evil Dead 2 and, yes, Shaun of the Dead. It's not as good as any of those, but I still enjoyed it. The gore is good fun, and the comedy actually hits the mark for the most part (the real telling factor for any horror-comedy).

This is England '90 (2015) AVI
- A couple of years ago my girlfriend and I discovered the English TV series (mini-series?) This is England and loved it. We subsequently watched all the sequels (This is England '86 and This is England '88). Then last year the final part, This is England '90, was released, so we were eager to see that as well.
In a nutshell, This is England tells the story of a group of young skinhead punks as they grow up in poverty in the UK. The best part is the series started in 2006 and finished last year, so the cast really do grow up before your eyes. There's violence, there's comedy, there's a lot of references to pop culture stuff from the 80s (and 1990) which is great for anyone who remembers those times.
This final chapter ties up a few loose ends (Combo gets out of prison, Shaun goes back to high school, Woody and Lol get married) and introduces some new storylines (Kelly gets hooked on heroin). I really do wish this series would continue though, as I have thoroughly enjoyed it. To me Woody is one of the best-written, funniest characters of all time.
Men Behind the Sun (1988) AVI
- This movie is one that I've heard about in passing over the years, usually mentioned as one of the most shocking films ever released. In my experience most movies that get that kind of hype fail to live up to it, and usually I'm left feeling a big "meh" about them. I guess that's what comes from having watched so much horror cinema over the years.
With that in mind, I sat down to finally watch this movie, and I can honestly say it shocked me. That's not an easy thing to do, but Men Behind the Sun did it. Parts of it feel very much like any other torture exploitation film (like the Ilsa series or 120 Days of Sodom), but what this movie does differently is set up the victims as sympathetic, so when they meet a gorey end it actually hits home. As anyone who has seen this movie will probably agree, the scene in the operating room is heartbreaking.
This is definitely one of those movies you don't need to watch twice, but I'm glad I finally got around to seeing it. Hard to "recommend" as such, but worth seeing once.  

The Man Whose Mind Exploded (2012) Netflix
- Another doco, this one about an extravagant British man who suffered a terrible brain injury in an accident and now suffers from short-term memory loss. There's really nothing more to it than that. Interesting enough, a good time waster.

Cry Wolf (2005) DVD
- I bought this DVD last year at some point (for very cheap) and have almost watched it a few times. But every time I picked up the case and looked at the back, the "pretty" teens (male and female) have put me off. I usually find that when a horror movie is populated by nothing but picture-perfect model types, it blows. But I had also heard some decent things about this one, so I finally pulled the trigger.
As a horror movie this is nothing special, just any other slasher about a group of high school students being stalked by a masked murderer. But what makes it stand out is that the storyline is very well written, with all sorts of twists and turns associated with the fact that this particular group of teens engages in a game where they try to outwit each other through deception and lies. Rich kids, am I right? But this adds another layer to the slash-and-bash proceedings, making for a fun little movie.

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